I on the other hand and through no fault of my own, and frequently by the assistance of my stupid sister, am usually looked upon as being both irresponsible and unstable in my parents' eyes.
Well things changed in my favour this week and I have to tell you - it feels great as I came out of the whole affair doing quite well for myself!
It all began two weeks ago, when I arrived over at my folks place for our weekly Sunday night dinner. It had been Mom's birthday the previous Thursday however, due to work commitments, I was unable to join everyone at the restaurant that evening for dinner so I was bringing over today a lovely bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Mom's favourite perfume.
I walked into the house, gifts in hand, expecting Mom to tell me what a great son I was for bringing her such lovely gifts for her however, she was nowhere to be found and I was greeted by Dad as he looked up over his newspaper.
"She just went out for a walk, I imagine she'll be back shortly." Dad advised, once again turning his attention back to the newspaper.
As I placed Mom's gifts down on the counter, I looked around and noticed that the house seemed different. Not different 'strange' but just different in general. The house even smelled different.
My Mom prides herself on keeping a spotless and organized house however today it looked especially 'scrubbed and polished' even the doorknobs were sparkling. That is what must be different!
"Wow" I remarked aloud. "This place looks and even smells so much cleaner than usual, I can't believe it. Mom must have been cleaning for hours."
Dad loudly & abruptly folded his paper up and peered over at me, a look of great agitation upon his face.
"What a stupid thing to say, boy." Dad spat. "I've spent all morning calming your mother down and then you waltz in here and say something so insensitive. I don't want to hear that kind of talk out of you when she gets back from her walk or there will be no peace in this household the rest of the day."
My father must have noticed the look of utter confusion on my face at his statement and then he realized that I was completely unaware of what had transpired previously.
"It was Thursday night" Dad began his explanation. "And your sister & Doug just arrived as we were all going out to the Steak House for your mother's birthday dinner. Well before we left they presented her with their "gift" which was three months of maid cleaning service every second Saturday."
"I didn't think too much of it until we got into the car and your mother was just furious. She assumes everyone now thinks she is too old to keep the house clean by herself and needs assistance. Of course your sister meant well and thought this was a great gift since your mother is so busy with her church and volunteer work. Both her and Doug figured that she would really appreciate the extra time it would free up for her."
"HA!" I responded, trying to make matters worse. "Of course Mom would be upset, I don't blame her at all. That is a terrible insensitive gift to give someone like Mom, and even worse coming from her own 'flesh & blood' daughter. Terrible. Tsk, Tsk"
"Now that's just the talk I don't need your mother to hear when she comes back." Dad replied, sounding rather stern. "This hired maid came over yesterday for four hours and your mother was beside herself. It took everything I could do to calm her down and stop her pacing about like a caged animal the entire time this cleaning woman was here. All she kept saying over & over was 'Disgraceful, a strange woman in my own home doing my cleaning, whatever shall the neighbours think?"
"So why doesn't Mom just tell Sis to cancel this service if she hates it so much?" I asked, stating what I believed to be the obvious simple solution.
"Yes" Dad responded. "That would solve everything however your mother does not want to seem ungrateful for the gift, so she will 'suffer in silence' as she puts it however I am unfortunately the one continually hearing this 'silent suffering' of hers."
"I telephoned your sister and made her aware of the situation, just so she doesn't mention it this evening and get your mother all riled up about this again. We have agreed to just not talk about it and hope it 'runs it course' & your mothers gets over it."
What a bizarre situation, I thought to myself. Sis buys a gift for Mom. Now Mom is miserable. Mom tells Dad, now Dad is miserable. Dad tells Sis, now Sis is miserable. It seems with all this misery going around, an industrious fellow such as myself should be able to solve this family problem and perhaps come out of it a little ahead. That doesn't seem too unreasonable, at least not to me.
I pondered the entire situation quietly to myself over dinner. This was a rather easy task to do since dinner seemed rather subdued being everybody was a little reluctant to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing. Then, just as I finished my second helping of dessert - double layer chocolate cake, the solution came to me. It was brilliant in it's simplicity!
I waited for just the right moment, when neither Mom nor Dad were within earshot, before I approached my sister with my ingenious proposition.
"I can help you out here and make this whole problem disappear." I commented, lowering my voice just to ensure no one was listening. "The only thing though, it's going to cost you."
"Of course I didn't want to upset Mom" Sis replied, still sounding upset by this whole affair. "That was never my intent, I never thought she would feel this way about a maid. Dad has made me promise not to talk about it any further though since Mom gets so upset. So, how can you solve this and what will it cost me?"
"Well you know how busy a man I am?" I responded. "Really no time to clean my place - it's a pig sty, even for me."
"I know how lazy a man you are." Sis replied, in a rather snotty tone. "I can imagine you live in quite a dump. I am scared to even go over there myself. So what exactly do you want?"
"I want this maid of yours to come over and do a thorough clean at my place - just once, and at your expense." I advised, in a matter of fact manner. "If you do that, I will make you look like the 'Golden Child' once again. A small price to pay for such a great return."
"Tell me how you will fix things and I may agree to your stupid demand." Sis responded, lamely attempting to barter from her obvious very weak position.
"I won't tell you anything since you clearly have never been able to keep a secret in your entire life." I replied, now realizing I had the upper hand. "Lets just say I can solve this for you - take it or leave it. This is my first and final offer."
"'Chop, Chop!' I demanded, looking at my watch. I don't have all day to stand around here talking to the likes of you. People to see, places to go!"
With that, Sis reluctantly agreed to my demand and I told her that once the 'service was delivered' I would put my plan into motion.
Mrs. Chernov, the cleaning lady, arrived promptly at 10 AM this past Sunday morning, just as arranged by my sister. She spent 4 hours cleaning, scrubbing and doing everything I had expected a cleaning woman to do. She took no break and was out the door by 2 PM. The timing was perfect. Now it was my turn to fulfill my end of this ingenious scheme.
I headed over to my folks place, a couple hours early for dinner. Mom was alone in the kitchen peeling potatoes. She looked miserable and I knew it was probably as a result of the cleaning lady, who was due to come over once again next week.
"So Mom" I began. "Can I tell you a secret, but you must promise not to repeat this to anyone, especially not to Dad or Sis?"
"Of course" Mom replied. "You can tell me anything, you know that. My lips are sealed."
"Well that maid service that Sis bought for you." I continued. "It is obvious you are not happy about it. It's not too hard for me to figure that out."
"I know" Mom replied, sounding extremely guilty. "I know your sister meant well by it however I just can't get over some strange woman coming in here each week and cleaning. It's just not right. But I don't want to upset your sister by refusing her thoughtful gift. I know she meant well and put a lot of thought into it."
"That's just it Mom" I began, recalling my well-rehearsed lines. "Sis knew you wouldn't like it but she only did it because this woman, I think her name is Chernov or something, is a friend of hers and is down on her luck and really needs the money badly. This woman would never accept charity, she is too proud, so the only way for Sis to help her out is to pay her for doing work, which is house cleaning. So this is why she hired her. She knows you don't want or even need a maid, but this was the only way."
"Oh my!" Mom responded. "What a dear, kind girl your sister is. And all this time I thought she was thinking I was getting too old to keep my own house clean and all along she was only just helping this poor woman out. Oh, I feel so embarrassed now."
"Yes, Sis is a true humanitarian." I replied, trying not to choke on these clearly insincere words. "There is only one problem with her plan though."
"What is that?" Mom asked. "Can I do anything to help?"
"Well it seems your house is so clean, this woman is beginning to suspect something is wrong." I replied, still lying through my teeth. "She realizes you don't need a maid, which is really obvious. I mean, it's not like my place that could really use a good clean. Sis even called it a dump last week. But I can't afford one. Perhaps one day....."
And then Mom 'took the bait'. I couldn't have hoped for this to turn out better had I scripted the whole thing from the beginning.
"Well Dear" Mom responded, thinking this was her own idea. "Why don't you take this maid service. It would work out perfect. I would be happy. Mrs. Chernov would have something to do and you would have a nice clean apartment. It seems like a very practical solution all way round."
"Yes, Yes it does" I replied, a broad, sly smile now appearing on my face. "It does seem that this solution YOU have just come up with would make everyone happy. You're a genius Mom! Just make sure not to mention it to anyone, especially Sis!"
I kind of felt a little guilty about these 'little white lies' I told to my mother but then I realized that in the end, everyone was now very happy where only minutes before, that statement could not be made.
Later that evening Mom was now in an extra cheerful mood and even made a very fancy Angel food cake for both Sis and I stating it was for 'The two best kids a Mother could hope for'.
"Yes" I thought to myself as I sat back in my chair, it is true. "I really am a good son. A good son who will have a sparkling clean apartment. Well, at least for the next three months anyway!"