Oh you guys. I had no idea. My mom and dad are/were not big drinkers. Sure, I had my pencil case made out of the soft blue bag with the gold stitching – Crown Royal, google tells me – onto which my mother embroidered my name. I was in second grade and that’s what I used to hold my pencils and other school supplies, but I had one. ONE. ONE CROWN ROYAL BAG.
I don’t know if my siblings got bags. There may not have been enough booze. The photo to the right? That’s booze from my mom’s house. Some of the bottles have tax seals from 1972. In case you are bad at math, that is more than 40 years ago. My mom still has booze from 40 years ago that she has not finished.
Point is that my mom is not and my dad was not a big drinker. Booze lasts a long, long time at my mom and dad’s house.
But Sly and Doris. Lord have mercy.
I think they are drinkers.
OK, I know they are because Primo warned me but I really had no idea. I don’t like booze and I hardly drink, but it’s not a moral thing – it’s just that I don’t like how it tastes. I don’t care if other people drink, although I think that if you are going to get drunk, you should not drive. I don’t care if you kill yourself but drunks usually take innocent people out with them and that’s not fair.
In our one moment of private, alone, romantic together time since we arrived in Florida, Primo and I clean the garage. Boxes of recycling have accumulated for months, rusty tools are scattered on top of the workbench, and plastic storage bins with Christmas decorations and linens are molding.
We take the trash out to the curb. Drag it out. Sly and Doris refuse to get a wheeled trash can because they’re convinced it will be stolen or the garbage men will destroy it or something. They had one, but didn’t replace it.
Primo: I asked my dad why he didn't get a new wheeled trash can.
Primo: He says the trash guys used to tear the top off and leave the can halfway down the street.
Me: They tore the lid off? Off its hinges?
Primo: No. Like your trash can. They'd leave the top open.
Me: You mean they'd open it and leave it flipped back?
Me: Well so what? All you have to do is flip it back.
Primo: They always have a reason.
Me: Would the trash guys really leave them halfway down the street?
Primo: The one this morning was about ten feet from the curb.
Me: Hardly halfway.
Me: Although I suppose if you are old and out of shape, ten feet from the curb is a lot. So what happened to the wheeled cans? Were they stolen?
Primo: No, they just stopped using them.
Me: To use ones without wheels instead?
Me: Oh good grief. How does that make things better?
Primo: Because they get other people to do the work for them. When I’m not here, Jack or Stephanie put it out for them.
Sly comes into the garage to supervise the putting out of the trash. Primo stuffs a bunch of bubble wrap into the bottom of the can, then lifts a bag of trash to put on top of that.
Sly: Not like that! Put the bubble wrap in a bag.
Primo: But it’s all going into the garbage truck. It doesn’t need to be put in a bag.
Sly: That’s not how I do it! Put it in a bag!
I want to point out to Sly that he is not, in fact, doing it, so his way doesn’t matter. If he wants it done his way, he can do it his own darn self.
But I keep my mouth shut. When is it appropriate to comment on something stupid and senseless when you are not related to the person doing something stupid and senseless? Shouldn’t Primo be the one telling his dad to be quiet or do it himself?
Bigger question: When you meet the parents, is it ever appropriate to argue with them?
I think not.
I keep my mouth shut.
Primo rolls his eyes, removes the bubble wrap, puts it in a bag, and then puts the whole thing back in the trash can. Wasteful.
May I point out that Sly and Doris claim to be huge environmentalists?
Doris was an environmental
activist when Primo was a kid. They hate mining and oil companies. They hate
Walmart. They belong to the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. But actual
day to day conservation, like reducing their own consumption of plastic, gas
(they have an SUV), and paper – that’s for other people.
If they had a private jet, they would fly it around the world, telling other people to cut their carbon footprint.
As Primo throws one of the bags of trash into the can, Sly says, “No! Not like that!”
Primo: What now?
Sly: That’s not the right order.
Sly’s suffering is great. He heaves a deep sigh, the sigh of a man who has been cursed with a son who doesn’t do things right. It is sharper than a serpent’s tooth than to have a not doing it right child.
Primo: Then how?
Sly: The kitchen trash goes in first. Then the bag with the paper waste. The big green bag goes on top.
You guys, I am not making this up! Sly is convinced there is a Right Way for Trash to Go into the Can.
Sly: Don’t tie it!
Primo stiffens, then unties the green bag. Sly goes back into the house, leaving us alone to haul two bags of empty bourbon and brandy bottles out for recycling.
I guess I have to take it back about Sly and Doris not being walk the walk environmentalists. Look! They recycle their booze bottles!
Booze bottles. A lot of booze bottles. Recycled, but man. A lot.
Me: It seems that your parents might drink a lot.
Primo: They start drinking every day at 4:00. I can’t call them after 4:00 because they are close to drunk and they don’t remember that I’ve called.
Me: And then you don’t get any credit for the call. And they get mad at you because you didn’t call. Even though you did. And they just don’t remember because they were drunk.
 This really horrifies me – first, that tools are allowed to rust and second, that they are not even put away. There is no pegboard with mounts hanging behind the bench. I thought everyone used a pegboard! I thought everyone took care of his tools.