Friday, February 12, 2010

The Binder of Shame: Tales From The Suburban Apocalypse

Tales From The Suburban Apocalypse
Al Bruno III

What brought our apartment to this state? Is it working long hours? Is it that the previous generation failed to instill the right values in us? Or is it that I change my underwear twice a day?

For the sake of argument let's look past my constant and unnerving body odor to look at the larger issues.

Our home is a wasteland; the worn rug is like a hardscrabble desert, the couches sag and slump time-like worn mountains, tumbleweeds of pet hair blow this way and all the while a veritable glacier of dirty clothes is slowly making its way out of the laundry room.

The question is this; how do we keep falling behind? It seems like we're keeping ahead of it all but then one night we're too tired or we have to run an errand, so we let the dishes stay in the sink or leave a pair of socks on the bedroom floor, or worse yet a fresh roll of toilet paper is left on top of the roller instead of being placed on to it.

Chaos erupts from that simple disorder, suddenly the orange juice has been left out on the counter, the clothes hamper is overflowing and one of the dogs has thrown up on the sheets of an unmade bed.

Please don't blame my dog for any of this, I assume that his illness stemmed from the TV being left on the SyFy Channel- their programming choices are always rough on the stomach.

Usually by Wednesday and we're picking through baskets of unfolded clean laundry and with each outfit retrieved or rejected the fresh clothes become more and more wrinkled. My daughter keep forgetting to drain the tub and the bathroom smells like a stagnant pond.

Soon enough we're eating out meals in the living room, not because there's anything good on TV but because the kitchen table has become crowded with my daughter's homework, my wife's scrapbooking supplies and my own writerly accessories. I keep my binders full of notes, my thesaurus and two dictionaries on hand- this way I know I will never misspell the word crisanthummum.

No wait- christanthimum...

No it's chrisinthumum right?


No? Yes?

Oh, to Hell with it.

And speaking of Hell- this is the reason we never get to church. Sure we wake up in the morning with the alarm clock and a vague non-denominational call to worship but by the fifth or sixth cry of “Where are the God Damn car keys for Christ's sake?” we realize it's a lost cause.

We spend that day hard at work trying to get the house back in shape so the neighbors will stop thinking we're running a meth lab.

Well, actually I shouldn't say we. Usually my daughter gets distracted when we send her to clean her room and soon enough she is playing out another chapter of Barbie vs Hanna Montana and the walls of the Malibu Dreamhouse are soaked with imaginary blood.

Of course I usually have a story or two to prepare so while I promise my wife I will help her fold the dishes and put the laundry away or whatever she's asking I soon find myself trying to work the word Lactobacteriaceae into a story.

Take THAT 9th grade English teacher.

So my wife ends up doing everything herself and she goes to bed on Sunday night exhausted. I feel really bad about it and I keep telling her she needs to make friends with the other wives in the neighborhood, I'm sure they might have some advice that would help her organize her time a little better.

But until that happens my family and I will try and make our way through a desolate landscape of overflowing waste baskets, lost work shirts and toys that occupy space on every counter-top and coffeetable. You can almost smell the desperation in the air or maybe that's the litterbox that's long overdue for a cleaning.

Is it my turn to do that?


  1. Suggestion? Niecy Nash and Clean House.


  2. Ha! Oh boy can I relate. Excellent, dirty, details. And by the way, my favorite short story is "Chrysanthemums" by Steinbeck, and I never, ever, spell it right.

  3. Very funny and accurate portrayal of a situation that I'm sure
    many readers can relate to!

  4. This story is good, because it is so true.