On Saturday we had our carpets cleaned. The weird thing about getting your carpets cleaned is that for a couple of hours, guys you don’t know are wandering around in your house hosing down the floors and looking at your stuff. So we locked the cats up in an unused room, and I stood in the kitchen and read the paper while the guys shampooed and suctioned all manner of gross cat-related mishaps off the floor.
There were two guys, one who’d seen our house before and one who had never been there on any previous cleanings. The one who’d never been there before was a young guy, about 18 or so, and he was completely fascinated with our stuff. He walked around carefully examining everything and asking questions.
If you’ve never been to our house, then you don’t know that it’s sort of a natural history museum/loony bin. I love scientific illustration and am morbid, and Stewart puts up with my decor ideas. So there’s plenty of stuff to look at, ranging from a full-size dog pelt to a giant etching by Jan Svanmajer. There’s bones and bugs and really warped marionettes I brought back from the Czech republic. Plus, it’s Christmas, and we have really Norman Rockwelled out this year, so there’s a fairly major cognitive dissonance effect happening. “Oh, look, a pretty christmas tree and presents, and a life-size bronze cat skeleton next to it!”
So the shampoo guy was fascinated. He asked me about the human skull, and got freaked out when I told him it was from a male about his age (you can tell, you know, from the proportions and from the teeth- my skull is from a young man who hadn’t gotten his wisdom teeth in yet). He asked about the giant Madagascar cicadas on the wall, thinking they were cockroaches. He gingerly touched the dog pelt. He looked at the embalming bottle and didn’t say a word for a while.
Then, when they were done, he stayed after to get the check from me, and watched carefully as the older guy went out the front door. As the older guy walked down our front hall, the younger one loudly said, “YES. That will be a HUNDRED dollars…” and then, as the door closed in back of the older one, he looked at me conspiratorially. He leaned way forward. Then he said, very quietly, “I have tattoos.”