Whoopee! It’s February! Valentine’s Day! Carnival! Crawfish! The arrival of the spring guests who turn up from now all the way into Jazz Fest (oh boy!).
I’ve pondered points and concluded that guests generally don’t quite get or feel comfortable bunking in with friends whom they see once or twice a year. Believe me, that goes triple for the folks who play “hostess with the mostest” for them. So, in the spirit of blatant honesty, let me describe my situation for the edification of incoming company.
My house. First: this is as clean and orderly as it gets. Second: don’t ask me where anything is, because, in the cleaning and organizing that I’ve spent the last two weeks laboring over, I don’t know where anything is! Quite simply: whatever you’re looking for, it’s around here. Go find it. The soap might be in the freezer; spare light bulbs possibly under the broom; coffee is on the mantle; put your luggage in the tub (kidding). Next: don’t open the hall closet. That’s where we keep the soiled laundry that I haven’t had time to do because I’ve been cleaning/organizing to make a good impression on you. Caution: not all the chairs are safe to sit on. None of the clocks tell the correct time. Some lamps have ceased to illuminate, and the “smart TV” is as dumb as a box of rocks.
The way I clean and organize is to start moving things around. I have an aversion to throwing things away that may be important and/or significant. Two weeks of that and you’re bound to find anything anywhere. It’s not a mess, it’s home, and we welcome you—mi casa/su casa and all that.
We live in a half double shotgun house, which means that we have five big rooms that are stretched out one after another in a straight line. So if you were to fire a shotgun in the front door, you would hit whatever was at the back door; hence the name. The living room is in the front and the kitchen in the back separated by two bedrooms (one where you’ll be staying), a bath and a dining room, with small yards front and back.
Here is our schedule: we work seven days a week, most times until 6:30-7:00 at night. We come home, we have a little Happy Hour and then dinner, down time and bed by 11:00. Girlfriend is up around 6:00 a.m. to feed the herd (three cats and a dog and various outside strays), coffee, walk the dog, and then to the Tremé Center for swimming and exercise. Then to coffee at Whole Foods (bagel and cookies) and then back to work. Some nights, we don’t get in until after 8:00 p.m.; it comes with owning a business.
We have lives much bigger than ourselves. The dining room is also used for painting pictures and a chair to read or listen to tapes to learn the foreign language du jour. The living room has a piano and other musical instruments, none of which we have mastered. There are unfinished projects throughout the house, countless books and novels, collections of coins, world globes, statues, photos and finger bowls. The kitchen is filled with spices for our signature blends and other handy non-fresh ingredients that we supplement with fresh stuff from the green grocer—a full larder, for ease of cooking. Except for the occasional dairy product, we keep a vegan kitchen. If you want to cook otherwise, you’re welcome to, just know that anything you don’t eat may perish. We come home loaded down with all the detritus from the day and deposit said stuff on our way to the refrigerator, which means all through the rooms. In the meantime, baths, shaving, cat litter cleaning, recycling, composting, bed making, and visits to our neighbors, our veterinarians, food markets and shopkeepers keep us active and generally invisible.
The first cat gets up at 6:00 a.m. and complains loudly that he’s not been fed for at least eight hours, and, at this point, the dog needs to be let out. There’s time to sit a spell in the morning, and when you use the bathroom for your morning toilet, expect all cats to visit. The youngest one loves to watch humans take baths (there is no shower), and the little dog may want to sleep under your blankets (with you).
We live in a neighborhood, which means we walk, we talk, greet and hail people whom we see in the streets. Introduce yourself, tell them who you are and behave like a guest and not a short-term rental tenant. Smile. We don’t expect you to be bringing home any lovers, possibly some people whom you may meet but not sheet shakers, okay? We rarely have parties at home. Home is our sanctuary—that’s how we picture it. Don’t try to clean up after us, just take care of your own space odyssey and everything will be hunky-dory.
You’re welcome to use the car responsibly, although we don’t have it insured for a second driver. The brakes are good and the tires are fair. It’s that ’94 Lincoln Towncar that’s parked crookedly in the street. It has over 237,000 miles on it and is cranky and idiosyncratic at best. The windows, air conditioning, and sometimes the door handles or trunk switch either stick or don’t work at all. It has a radio tuned to 94.3, an oldies station … On second thought, maybe you should leave the driving to me.
So, you get the picture. You’ll fit in just fine because you won’t expect anything to be normal around here. In fact, seeing as you’re our friend and all, it may remind you of home.