Yes, it was true. My Only had decided to “return home” to attend college. She was old enough to understand her own choices, and apparently decided it was worth trying to cope with her mother once again. Truthfully, we women both viewed it as a character-building experience; just whose character would survive wasn’t readily identified at the onset.
Having recently moved into a small, two bedroom cottage with my new husband, I was excited to be a family again! Even the Rogue was a good sport about the idea; he and My Only got along pretty well, so he reasoned that we could at least help with board and room since she was paying for her own schooling. No problem.
Two was company but three meant finding storage solutions and decorating the one spare bedroom sooner than originally planned. Again, the Rogue saw no real problem, so My Only arrived and the new family unit settled in.
Two women in less than one thousand square feet with only one bathroom would be more than many males could handle; but not my six-foot-four, Texas-style, risk-taking Rogue. He never saw an opportunity that didn’t look like a possible win.
I thanked God that the Rogue suffered from such optimism. As Daddy used to say, Ignorance is bliss. For the first few weeks, I was almost convinced, until we decided to remodel our bathroom. Granted, it needed a good facelift. Our initial plan was to accomplish replacing each fixture within a given schedule so that bathing was still a possibility during the cosmetic rehab. No problem.
The Rogue was especially good at tearing out old stuff. In no time, he’d removed the tub enclosure, sledge hammered the cast iron tub, and inspected the tub surround and subflooring. As with any older home, new discoveries awaited us. The lathe and plaster walls were water damaged. All indications were the subflooring would have to be replaced as well.
Our plan to keep a functioning bathroom was going to be tricky. My Only cared simply that she could still bathe and that the toilet functioned, so she didn’t complain too much at first; actually, both of us women tried to be extremely good and made a conscious effort to refrain from too much commentary.
Even when the tiling seemed to take forever, we didn’t say too much. My Only was at school, I was at work, so just how much trouble could we cause if we stayed out of the way? Each evening, we could see the progress the Rogue was making. So did it really matter that the project might take a few days longer? We consoled ourselves that any slight inconveniences would all be worth it over the long term. Slight was the operative word here. No problem.
One school day, My Only returned home, entered the bathroom, and then came to an abrupt stop. The toilet was missing. I was still at work and the Rogue was nowhere to be seen.
So, my daughter did what every red-blooded American girl would do. She picked up the phone to call her mother.
Apparently, Nature was calling as well. I barely picked up my receiver when My Only spewed out the obvious: How were we going to live like this? And for how long? What was he thinking? What am I supposed to do?
Non-stop questions continued, and I was fully aware that all patience and understanding were now a brief memory; comments, i.e. You married him, Mom, and further reminders that Nature was calling, etc… comprised the bulk of the conversation.
I listened from my desk; I was eighteen miles away, still deep into the day’s workload, and nowhere near calling it a day. No problem. Ignorance is bliss, I reminded myself. So, I gave it my best shot.
“You’ll have to run next door to the neighbors, Honey, until he gets back with the new commode…yes, I know it’s ridiculous, but the old one cracked when he removed it to replace the ring; this wasn’t supposed to happen, so please don’t tell Grandpa because he had already told us to never replace the original john. That original one was from 1948 and being older, was one of the better ones…Okay, Okay; I understand you haven’t met the neighbors… Introduce yourself as my daughter, Honey; they are very nice, they’ll understand. Okay! If you are NOT willing to go next door, then your only other choice is to drive down to the boulevard to the Jack in the Box and use its restroom…no, you don’t have to purchase anything…purchase something if you want to, if it will make you feel better. Please, please, work with us right now; he didn’t plan to crack the porcelain. He’ll have the new one installed this evening; I heard from him already; yes, Honey, by this evening, he promised. I should be leaving soon…
Placated for the moment, she ended the call. No problem. After all, I’d married him. A subtle comment, but a comment still. Dear God, I hope he gets that toilet in before midnight…
If ignorance is bliss, I can hardly wait.