This past week has been pretty damned sucky. It’s not one of those weeks that makes me particularly angry, or depressed, or anything else so… dramatic, but I feel I could have done just fine without most of the stuff that occured.
As I predicted, my Physics exam kicked my ass. The lack of surprise lessens the shame a bit, but not by much. I did learn a little about relativity that captured my attention, though.
Tuesday, after the final portion of my Physics exam, a couple of old friends came into town. We met them about six years ago, when we lived in a very rural area of Texas (Rhome, Texas, near Dee-cay-tur). My parents were a little hungry for companionship by other blacks, and thus we met Eve, her husband, and their children. Eve’s husband died not long ago, and Eve and her son, who is just a year older than me, are visiting the husband’s family up North (capitalizing the word “north” isn’t really done anymore, is it?). En route, they invited themselves to stay at our house for a couple of days. There are two big things that make this unbearable.
First, my main rule is that when you travel, book a friggin’ hotel room. If I have the space, and the energy, then I’ll probably invite you to stay, but no assumptions should be made to the effect that you’ll be staying at my place. Likewise, arrange some transportation, for the same reason. They took my bathroom, leaving me, the Rat, and my folks to share a single bathroom. I swore, when we moved out of our one-and-a-half-bath apartment two years ago that I would never share a bathroom with my father ever again. Well, given a long enough timeline, we will all become liars about something, right? They totally disrupted the house schedule, sleeping in everyday until about 10 (I was up about 7 o’clock every morning), needing rides everywhere, etc. They decided, apparently a while ago, that they were going to purchase a camcorder to create videos, particularly of the main reason for their trip to their next destination–Eve’s daughter’s ship was going to dock in Norfolk that upcoming weekend, and it was her first deployment. Somehow, I found myself doing all of the research necessary to their purchasing a decent camcorder for a low price, given that I knew nil about cameras and had to bring myself up to speed on abilities, media, etc since I last looked five years ago. Then the five of us crammed into a four passenger Acura 3.0 CLS Type S (there is literally no middle seat in the back; there is instead a little storage compartment), and we got to listen to the complaints of our guests as we had to drive across town, in rain, in Charlotte’s traffic, with a squirming near-four year-old sitting illegally, to get to the Wolf Camera to pick up their camera. All they cared was that it should have a flip-out LCD screen and that it be a certain price. I wanted to punch the both of them. During that round trip (a total of about 5 hours, including stops), we had to stop about three times to stuff these folks with food. Both of them are such physical people; she’s a dancer and aerobics instructor, and he’s a weight trainer for a club. They wanted to work out three times a day while they were here. I don’t even eat three times a day! But when they eat… gawd. We hit Golden Corral, which is an all-you-can-eat type place. I ate a salad and a half-plate of veggies; each of them went back about three times and ate two desserts. Just watching them made me quite not-hungry.
Secondly, there is the small matter of the fact that, since I met them (I was about thirteen years old at the time), Eve has felt that I am destined to be with her mammoth son. And I use the word “mammoth” in a polite sense. He’s about six foot six and works out religiously. I felt even more like a short, pudgy midget at five foot six or so. Exercise to me currently means attempting to stay, at the very least, somewhat limber. And, of course, exercising the muscles in my hands and forearms as I hold books, type, and surf the Web. But between Eve hinting at things like that we should go ahead and compromise on how many children we are going to have, I figured I could at least give the guy the time of day and attempt to draw him out into conversation. I thought he was just going for the “strong, silent type” thing; I quickly realized that he really had nothing to say on any topic that interested me, nor did he seem to have any topics of his own to bring to the discussion:
Me: You know, I’m cataloguing all of my books so that I can manage loans and keep track of what’s mine and what’s my father’s when I go off to college. Do you enjoy reading?
Mordecai: Nah. What kinda books do you read?
Me: Well, I love sci-fi and fantasy, but I love me some Faulkner, Shakespeare, and Austen. And computer books too, of course.
Mordecai: Fantasy, eh? Do you have any adult books?
Me: [trying not to frown] You mean, like, romance novels, or literary pornography? Uh, not really…
Mordecai: [just as serious] What about books with pictures in it? Got any of those?
Me: [slightly interested again] Actually, I just picked up this book called Oron from the bookstore, and it has full-page sketches of–
Mordecai: [now he’s frowning] I was kidding.
Me: Oh. [desperately fishing for another topic…]
I appreciated the humor. I really did. I was just looking for a moderately serious conversation, ya know? Start off with something that shows you have a serious interest in the topic, then crack a joke or two. Doing the joke bit first just makes you look a wee bit daft. I was willing to try to make a friend, of course, but even now, after sitting and “chatting” with him for a couple of hours, with me asking all the questions and coming up with all the conversation starters (anyone who knows me knows this took actual effort on the part of my nerdy, anti-social ass), I still have no idea of his interests. He works, he goes to a community college with a major in radiologoy (which he randomly chose from the list of available majors… I’m serious), and hangs out with friends. And he doesn’t really seem to care about anything remotely in my fields of interest. We are mutally exclusive events, if viewing a Venn diagram. And he had a half-naked picture of himself as the background of the cell phone he played with constantly. Playing with gadgets in a restaurant or during a conversation is just rude.
Thursday afternoon, these slow, late folks left for Norfolk, Virginia with my mother to see the docking of the U.S.(S.?) Harry Truman. I was a smart enough cookie to keep my ass at home, even though it entailed babysitting the Rat for three days. In retrospect, that probably wasn’t a good thing to do; my father is rarely home, I don’t have a car or anyone I could call who could arrive in a car in a timely manner should anything happen. But as long as my father wasn’t there, the Rat and I got along just fine. I fed her better and let her watch much less television than usual, and figured she could never say I never did anything good for her ever again. Not that she would say that at the ripe old age of three, but… you know. One must cover one’s ass.
My mother and the two guests returned Saturday night, and I obligingly moved back out of my bathroom. My mother had her own horror stories to quietly tell me upon her return. They were due to leave Sunday morning; they needed to be at the bus station downtown by 11 o’clock, and their bus left at noon. Right. The first one got out of the bathroom at 10:30 (at which time they should have been heading out of the door), and Eve insisted on finishing the movie Kingdom Come. Maybe it struck a note with her, but damn. They left at twenty minutes ’till noon, and barely made it downtown in time. Whatever. Time to wear pajamas again (even though I wear flannel pajamas, I can’t bring myself to where them when dudes are in the house, you know?), and to stretch out happily on the couch again, and take a shower in my shower again (which has better water pressure than my parents), and all that good stuff.
But, alas, the week of hell is not over yet. I went to school today for the first time in over a week. I was received with a shower of hugs (very touching, actually), but all day, we did abso-fucking-lutely nothing. My mistake was only taking one book, which I finished with two classes remaining in the day. So I remained bored. But the bestest part is when I get home. I was all into re-reading a Czerneda book tonight, but my sister somehow manages to bash her skull in while simply walking through the living room area. And it was oogly. We got to the emergency room about six o’clock, and just got home around eight. And that’s not a bad track record for an emergency room, I know, but the healthy folks waiting on their ill loved ones managed to annoy the piss out of the rest of us (and the sick ones) by not controlling their demonic children, talking loudly to people across the waiting room, and changing the television from the news to ghetto-ass shows not appropriate for young’uns (or many adults, either) and then jacking up the volume. Of course, they hung around before getting called just long enough to about permanently destroy my concentration on my book (A History of the Sciences, by Stephen F. Mason, a superb book). Grr.
I’m packing two books tomorrow, and I’m ready for any interesting conversation my physics teacher (Mr. M) wants to throw at me.