The day before the parents arrived, Her Goatiness came around to polish our windows. The day before THAT, she and Florrie weeded our garden.
Just before we set off for Christchurch to collect the parents, Husband broke the vacuum cleaner when he threw it down the stairs (he said he didn’t mean to, but I’m not sure what outcome he expected from balancing it on a top step and then tugging vigorously on the power cord. Alternatively, he has yet to master the concept of gravity). I put in an emergency call and Her Goatiness hoovered the place while we were gone. I suspect she might also have mopped the bathroom floor.
We borrowed The Outlaws’ Audi Q8 for the trip to Christchurch (Her Goatiness cleaned and washed the car before we picked it up).
(My mother in law makes it REALLY difficult to bitch about her.)
The previous week, I’d bought two foam mattresses on Trademe for collection in Christchurch.
“Niamhie, how are we going to fit your parents’ luggage in the car along with two foam mattresses?” asked Andrew.
“They’re FOAM!” I explained. “Bendy. We can FOLD them. Wedge the bags on top.”
However, when Andrew maneuvered the mattresses into the boot of the car, I couldn’t see out the rear view mirror.
Unfortunately – shortly after the mattress purchase – I’d also bought a baby change table.
“It’s a big car!” I said. “Huge! You’re telling me we can’t fit two single extremely bendy foam mattresses, a change table, my parents’ bags, their golf clubs, a box of baby stuff and my parents in the boot?”
“We could bring the trailer-”
“Well, on your head be it.”
I can’t believe he let me win the argument with such a cliché. I don’t even know what it MEANS – or, for that matter, what Andrew’s head has to do with arranging foam.
I’d been looking for a Childcare brand change table on Trademe for some time. The starting bid was only $10; however, the auction closed two days after our trip to Christchurch so I opted to buy now at $40 after checking we could pick it up on the Monday.
There was a box of crap on the doorstep of the given address and a decapitated garden gnome in the entranceway corner. When the trader opened the door, I had to fight an overwhelming urge to bolt back to the car screaming, “CONTAMINATED ZONE!” and seal all the doors.
Really, I should learn to trust my intuition.
The house was littered with junk: overturned chairs, broken speakers, shredded boxes of Special K, dead animals. Well, I didn’t see any carcasses, but I wouldn’t have been AT ALL SURPRISED.
The trader was a young woman who was perfectly pleasant and indeed, I thought, rather lovely – apart from exhibiting a gigantic gaping gulch of committed bum crack. She was also wearing a sinister woolen beanie that failed to conceal the fact that her hair needed an urgent appointment with a bottle of shampoo – or a sodium hydroxide based cleaning agent.
Then she brought out the change table.
She excavated it from under an unidentifiable swatch of crusty material and other assorted landfill.
It was absolutely, unbelievably, skin-clawingly filthy. I mean, it couldn’t have been any dirtier had it been stored in a bat cave and Philip Roth wrote a novel about it.
This was probably when I should have made some socially acceptable excuse e.g. “Sorry, I didn’t realize it was made of, er, plastic”, instead of the truth i.e. “I can’t- it’s just- I mean- ew- words- not coming,” then returned the $40 to my back pocket instead of handing it over.
“Oh, I suppose I should maybe have wiped it with a cloth,” she said as Andrew dismantled the table in the drive.
More appropriately, she should MAYBE have water-blasted it.
Back in the car, “I want to wash my hands,” said Andrew, holding the steering wheel as if afraid his fingers might stick to it. “I don’t think this was one of your better Trademe purchases, Niamhie.”
“I know,” I winced. “But I’ll scrub it down and it’ll probably clean up fine-”
“Did you see her teeth?” he asked with a delicate shudder.
“No- what about her teeth?”
“Oh no! If I’d noticed her teeth, I’d NEVER have gone through with it!”
It was just as well the airline left a portion of the parents’ luggage in Sydney – a box containing two pictures and a little wooden chair my father made for me when I was a child. As it was, Mum and I sat in the back of the car with suitcases stacked between us.
Back at home, when Andrew brought the change table up from the car, I noticed one of the wheels was broken and the lower tray inexpertly glued in one corner – neither of which were mentioned in the Trademe description. Perhaps I could have got over that with some aromatherapy and deep relaxation techniques, but my feelings only intensified after an hour spent scouring the change table in the bath, then disinfecting it, then disinfecting the bath, then burning my clothes and disinfecting myself.
Had the trader lived nearby, I wouldn’t even have attempted to clean the table. I would have towed it back down the road, dumped it in her front garden, and asked for my money back from within the confines of a sealed hazmat suit.
“You didn’t!” breathed Andrew in horror, his social sense of etiquette completely violated, when I told him I’d rung her and negotiated a refund of $20.
“I bloody did,” I said, grimly. “That table was a disgrace- I would be pure MORTIFIED to sell something in that sort of condition (mainly in case someone like me blogged about it, but)- her Trademe listing stated, ‘in good condition, and clean’- which was a total misrepresentation- she must have been fucking HALLUCINATING at the time- hey- anyway- YOU’RE the one storming around griping about how we got ripped off-”
“Yes, but, the time to do something about it would have been when we picked it up-”
“Well, I didn’t notice you thumping the roof of the Audi complaining about the state of it-”
“You realize this poor woman is probably on the dole-”
“That’s no excuse for living in a tip! If she cleared out all the crap in her front room and put in some grass and kept a fucking SHEEP, it would be about a hundred times cleaner not to mention more hygienic-”
“She’s probably a single mother on the dole, and you roll up in your Audi Q8-”
“It’s not my- whose bloody side are you on anyway-”
“With your little high-heels and your hair-”
“And quibble about $20! She probably won’t be able to feed her son for a week-”
“THAT’S NO EXCUSE! SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAYING ME TO DISPOSE OF THE THING! IT’S THE PRINCIPLE OF IT!”