Dear Olive,

Today is slowish here at the hotel and so I’ll bother you.

I’ve just spent about 20 minutes extracting an amalgamation of some very special sludge that had seen fit to plug the sink drain. This introduces two opposing schools of thought here at Barksville. I find myself most often in search of reasons as to how situations of this nature might arise. As my arm was the one, in this case, covered in “sink pus” I am often looking toward prevention. This most often involves naming a culprit. Phyllis and Constance(who, let’s face it, are clearly at the root of the problem in the first place based on the observation that my hair is currently about ½ inch long whereas the eight inch putrefied plug of hair I hauled out of the sink drain proved significantly longer and of a different color)are more of the opinion that pulling a mummified wad of goo comprised of fermented matter wrapped in child’s hair from the bowels of a very tentative plumbing system falls not into the category of the easily preventable but rather that of general maintenance. They aver that one can’t prevent these things just like you can’t prevent dust from settling on horizontal surfaces. They also see my tendency to “want to get to the bottom of it” as little more than witch hunting.  I’ll hear them commiserating,“Who cares whose hair it is?(Kyle does) Just tell him to fix it I need to brush my teeth” (This provokes me to consider topping up the toothpaste container with some of the matter from the sink)About now in the game I can’t resist offering Phyllis, what I assume anyone could see as, a logically parallel scenario. “Who cares if I pee outside of the confines of the toilet bowl? Just clean it up and get me a beer.” Based on the look she gave me I could see the intended connection was not made. Instead I could sense a bit of hostility brewing. Constance was my last hope.  “Hey Constance, as luck would have it I have laid your dependency on wearing that special t-shirt with the sparkly bits to school five days a week to rest.  You know the one.  You are usually wearing it in the morning while you stare hypnotized-like in the mirror not noticing the squirrel you have just brushed out of your hair in an effort to get things “just right” has inadvertently washed down the sink drain as you rinsed your toothbrush. Anyway, I used it this morning to clean up a rather large bit of kitty yak I couldn’t help but notice had made it’s way behind the toilet.  Amazing absorbency that shirt.  Not only did it pick up the kitty hurl but(since I was already down there)it also managed to swipe away most of my daily misdirected pee quota.  I suppose I could have walked to the kitchen and got some paper towel but I was really, actually really really tired and your shirt was right there.  Anyway it’s hanging in a plastic bag outside the back door if you need it.  I shook it out but you might want to wash it a couple times before you wear it again.  I’m pretty sure she said, “I hate him mommy.”  Phyllis said, “I hate him too.”

It all reminds me of a smart ass comment I said to Mr. Ketchum, the janitor at my elementary school, when I was in the fourth grade or so as he was mumbling about cleaning up some mess that I might have been partially responsible for(who was to know all that paper towel in the urinal would create such havoc?). “Well if there weren’t any messes Mr. Ketchum, you would be smack dab out of a job.” Mister Ketchum took exception to my thoughtful efforts to keep him employed. In retrospect it is fair to say that I deserved the paddling delivered by our hands on southern Baptist principal who took his Old Testament seriously. I was just glad that I hadn’t poked out one of Mr. Ketchum’s eye’s or knocked out a tooth.

I guess really I am the one to blame for my anxiety over matters concerning general maintenance. After all it’s me who insists on doing most of it despite offers of assistance from Phyllis. Don’t get me wrong, Phyllis is very enterprising and perfectly capable of fixing almost anything. For instance about 6 weeks ago when faced with a couple of sluggish electric toothbrushes and no handy replacement batteries she remembered that I had installed two new battery operated smoke detectors just the week before. As dental hygiene clearly takes precedence over burning to death in your sleep the detectors now lie strewn about the laundry area minus batteries and that thingy that holds them in place. Problem solved. As a bonus we can once again burn whatever we please in the oven with out the inconvenience of setting off one of the alarms. Truth is smoke detectors are a little over rated. Though this place is probably on par with a hydrogen balloon in terms of burn rating I figure it is so small we’d probably smell the smoke before things really got out of hand…wouldn’t you think?

Anyway since I started writing this(weeks ago)it has gone from slow to rather busy around here making it difficult to concentrate on boring you to death with this letter.  As I have been trying to slag Phyllis up above in that last paragraph, I have also been to the back door three times to try and find out who is behind this incredible racket(hound cross passing time by howling just until I get to the door and then waiting till I get back to my chair to start again), I have turned the espresso machine on as a diversion to writing and most recently I had to traipse out and haul a rather large turd that was dangling from a piece of grass lodged in the rear end of a visiting puppy. It looked not unlike the thing I pulled out of the sink earlier. The puppy was doing her best to run away from it so I had to chase her down. I thought about really using Constance’s t-shirt but opted for paper towel at the last minute. I am also a bit testy as sleep was pretty intermittent last night as Walter the Pug, for whom Phyllis pulled rank and granted the right to sleep in our room, seemed especially restless and agitated. It turns out Walter has a special use for his little bed.  Around the third time he had humped the thing off the chair and 30 feet down the hall I decided he’d be best sleeping in a crate after all. Phyllis was too busy laughing to be of much help.

On a sad note, one of our regulars has gone missing(not from here). Yolanda the Yorkie known best for her feisty personality and indiscriminate soiling throughout the house has disappeared. Where she lives this most likely means a cougar, a bear, a coyote, or one of the packed up dogs that roam about her area decided to include her in their food chain. At two pounds she couldn’t have put up much of a fight. She could bring you to the boiling point and then just as quickly have you laughing at her ridiculous antics. One of the reasons I like doing this business(I know it doesn’t often sound like it but who wants to hear how great everything is?)is because theoretically you get to be around dogs without the personal attachment of actually owning them. Unfortunately this is not working out so well in practice particularly with the more regular dogs like Yolanda. Her owners are devastated and we will miss her.

Well that’s about it for now.  All that coffee is taking effect and I am off to see how close I can pee to the edge of the toilet rim.  They’ll never know who did it if I miss and besides, who cares?  We’re all adults here.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?  Dad’s 80th?

I remain, doing very little when in fact there is quite a lot to do just now,


P.S. If you receive news about us perishing in a home fire please don’t tell the insurance people about the smoke detectors or Cindy will never get through college.

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