Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Visiting Our Empty House

We are currently in the US for 19 days for Charming Daughter’s college graduation and to attend the wedding of our dear friends.  We haven’t seen our house for three months and no matter whom we employ to care for it in our absence, we still spend the first week cleaning, decobwebbing and finding things that have mysteriously been relocated or disappeared outright.

While we are in Switzerland, our children still use the house, even though all three of them have their own places.  We know that they are “in residence” from numerous sources.  One, they tell us.  Well, some of them tell us, um, some of the time.  Two, our Slingcatcher in Switzerland will change channels on the TV in the middle of a show, as if by magic.  Ah ha!  One of the little buggers is home, changing the channels.  This usually sends Mr. Big through the Swiss roof and he is on his mobile immediately tracking down the offender in order of he-who-is-the-most-likely-culprit, always beginning with Small Son. 

Small Son, of course, answers neither cell phone nor email if it appears to originate from the Parental Units, so it is onto Domestic Son.  If Domestic Son swears he is not currently at our house flipping channels, Mr. Big phones Charming Daughter.  This usually does the trick because she will inadvertently rat out whichever brother is at The House through our skilled use of seemingly innocent questions, i.e. “where’s your brother?’

Most of the time though, all three of them are smart enough to refrain from using the TV during Swiss prime time, thereby not giving themselves away.  So, Mr. Big employs Method Three, a.k.a. Monitoring The Burglar Alarm System Remotely.  He can tell from the internet who accessed the house by looking at which ID number was punched into the alarm system.  He gleefully prints out a report, rubbing his hands together in evil delight, like some demented kid playing with an ant farm, master of all he surveys.   What he doesn’t understand is that all three of them know each other’s code as well as my code and, yes, even Mr. Big’s code.

My children are not stupid.

Really, the only way we ever know who has been the house is by looking at the clues they leave behind.  Beds have been stripped and sheets and towels are in the hamper?  Charming Daughter or Ms. Fiancee.  Dirty sheets still left on bed and dirty towels still hanging over shower bar?  Small Son and his friends.  Beds stripped, sheets changed, beds remade and towels laundered, folded and put in linen closet?  I don’t know who the hell THAT was, but I wish they would come back.

Today, these are the things that I have found and what they tell me:

1.        Evidence of vomit, cleaned up with bar towels, left in hamper.  This was one of my kid’s male friends who was here with a girlfriend.  How do I know this?  Easy.  If he hadn’t had a girlfriend, the vomit would not have been cleaned up in the first place.  The girlfriend cleaned it up but that was all she was willing to do because she is not a fiancée or a wife who would have washed the towels to destroy all evidence because she was mortified.  A girlfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t feel the same level of responsibility because, hey, it’s not her throwup, right?  He’s the doofus who had too much to drink.

2.        The key to the Hummer is missing.  I think this might possibly be Charming Daughter.  The boys, I’m sure, had duplicate Hummer keys made approximately 39 seconds after we told them we were moving to Switzerland and not taking the car.  I do not think Charming Daughter has learned to be this devious.  Yet.

3.       The key to Mr. Big’s work room is missing.  Since Domestic Son is the only one who might have a use for large power tools, I think this is probably him.  The only time I have seen Small Son with power tools is when he and his buddies were building their Beer Pong Table and I shudder to think of Charming Daughter wielding a Skil Saw.

4.        Three air mattresses are missing.  I believe if I could swoop in and do a spot check of all three of their abodes, I would probably find one air mattress at all three places.  They are really nice air mattresses.

So, that is what I’ve found so far this morning.  Who knows what the afternoon holds, (besides a nap to get over this jet lag)?  And, it will surely be quiet for my nap because Mr. Big is at Lowe’s for the second time already this morning.  Mind you, we have only been home for about 13 hours and Lowe’s has only been open for 6 of those hours but he has been there twice.  He is there right now.  Only an American is going to understand this.

There are certain things that my husband misses in Switzerland.  Number one is a nice, juicy ribeye.  Number two is a hardware store about the size of one of the smaller Swiss cantons that is open for business for about 18 hours per day, including Sunday.  You should see him in a Swiss hardware store, even their “big” ones.  He is so sad.  Invariably, they never have the perfect, exact thing he is looking for.  He always has to settle for something that “might” work.  Even when he does find the right thing, it is incredibly expensive.

For example, he needed a dimmer switch for the foyer light at the apartment in Switzerland.  A dimmer switch.  This item in America costs about 4 US dollars.  And, you would have a choice of color, shape, size, etc.

In Switzerland, at the Jumbo, (a “big” hardware store), he had 2 to choose from.  Two.  He choose the ivory, not the white.  It was 95 Swiss franc, or about 90 US dollars.  NINETY DOLLARS.

By the way, he is back.  He is soooo happy.  He just skipped down the hall, muttering under his breath, “OK, I need my drill bits.”

He is in heaven.  He is working on his Honey Do list.  (For the Europeans, a Honey Do list is a To Do list, but it is generated by your wife.  Get it?)  His Honey Do list is extra long this time because it is the only chance we have to get the house ready for Domestic Son and Ms. Fiancee’s wedding.  One of the line items on the Honey Do list is installing a sink in the laundry room, which he is doing as we speak.  Of course, he bought the wrong size sink on his first junket, hence the need for the second trip back to the hardware store.  The point being that:

A.       The store was open both times he went.
B.      He had a choice of about 80 different stainless steel sinks and,
C.      The sink cost 55 dollars, or about as much as four chicken breasts in Switzerland

Mr. Big is in such a good mood that he has, momentarily, forgotten about the missing Hummer and work room keys.

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