My dad is 80 years old and launching a war against the Sewerage & Water Board. Of all the things that have gotten him worked up over the past 18 months – everything happening in Washington, D.C.; his continuing lamentations over the chicanery of the insurance companies; a handful of landlord-tenant disputes that were not disputes so much as his tenant just straight-up failing to pay any rent at all for several months; Rouses marking up the price of a rotisserie chicken; unknown opening bands eschewing the occasional cover song in favor of a full set of entirely original work; Formosan termite swarms; street flooding; cats using his basil plants as a community litter box – nothing has gotten him more upset than this.
He feels partly betrayed, I think, because he defended the S&WB for so long. “They clean all the shit that the rest of the country throws in the Mississippi River out of your drinking water, and they do it with an infrastructure that no one wants to pay to maintain! It’s the hardest job in the city, and it’s still so cheap!”
I see his point, I guess, but I soured on the S&WB after my bill doubled and the boil orders continued apace. He, however, continued to say they were just misunderstood heroes.
Until his bill doubled. Also, they cashed his check but didn’t credit his account. Also, his bill was just an estimate and why would they estimate that he – a single man who lives alone, who lets the rain water his lawn and never washes his car, who follows the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” philosophy –had suddenly used three times as much water as he ever had before???
Anyway, now it’s war.
And by “war,” I mean he is going to bury them in paperwork, which is one of his favorite games, and truly, I support his cause and I love him even as he becomes an ever-crankier old man, but when he asked me to help him send an email on Wednesday, I had to say no.
Because Wednesday was a rare and beautiful gift for me, the kind of day I typically only ever got on Holy Thursday when I worked at Loyola – a day I had off that my kids did not.
Orleans Parish School Board – rightly or wrongly – called school off around noon on Tuesday. St. Martin’s, meanwhile, waited until 6:30 p.m. to say it would be in session. My kids were disappointed, panicked about work they’d been delaying on the assumption that school would not be open, shocked at the injustice of it all.
Me? I poured a celebratory glass of wine (which was also a much-needed glass of wine after a day spent settling pointless squabbles and making requested snacks that went uneaten and screaming at them to turn down the volume on YouTube videos that always begin with someone braying, “HEYYYYY GUYS!”) and validated their feelings while secretly doing backflips in my head.
A day off? For just me? Pure unfettered bliss.
My plans originally included doing laundry, watching crime documentaries on Netflix, and eating pasta but were later revised to exclude laundry altogether.
I did end up doing a fair amount of work from home, loading the dishwasher, and visiting my mother-in-law in the hospital, but all in all, I didn’t even put on a bra until 3 p.m., which is at least one measure of success in my book.
Now of course, I’m back to work, dressed in business casual and planning for parents’ night and spelling tests, and catching up on all the laundry I let accumulate during my hurrication. I even helped my dad with his feud against the S&WB. Life as usual.
But for one day – one sweet, pure, shining day of leisure – my time was mine and mine alone.
Thank you, Gordon.