When I was a kid I was supposed to be taking up the trash. Of course we were always told that raccoons went through the garbage so we were supposed to seal the cans, clamp down. Usually the task of taking out the trash composed of uneaten food, burnt food, used toilet paper, paper scraps and bad tests we didn’t want our parents to know about was given to my brother. However on this occasion my brother was sick. It was my task. Being eleven and being extra pissed about this I grudgingly went outside to do this.
I came inside and then went to my homework. My mother had been dealing with my great uncle, the long since deceased Gregory Columbus Diffendale. Usually a nice lady, my mother was in a foul mood because as usual Gregory Columbus Diffendale was calling to ask my father for free legal advice. My mother said he wasn’t home. However when this uncle called my father was never home. Even if he was home he was never home. My mother even volunteered to say he left his wife and children never to be found and possibly to work as a cattle wrangler in Montana and that he had given up law. However my father valued his stance as a pillar of the community and just told my mother to say he wasn’t home. As a result my mother was left to deal with his insanity.
Gregory Columbus Diffendale had worked in our family dairy before losing the place and becoming a janitor. Before that he had been in World War II in Germany killing those “Goddamn Nazis and liberating those Goddamn Jews” as he called them. In between he would make a plethora of obscene jokes about black women. He had a wife named Ethel whom everyone said was a saint and seven children, all of whom hated him. Looking back, part of me actually likes the guy. Then he was just the annoying loud mouth who said something followed by one of us asking, “What does that mean?” To which our mom replied, “I’ll tell you in ten years.”
On this day in particular my mom was in a mood as a result of our uncle’s surprise call. I had only taken up one can of garbage and it had been cold out. While I didn’t have gloves on it was just one can. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t wash hands I figured. After all, my brother had made a career of these things so it was my turn. My mother would always say he was a boy so therefore he could. That’s when I would say it was a doubt standard even then making an issue of gender roles. That’s when my mom would inform me she was the boss.
“Did you wash your hands April?” My mother asked?
“Yeah.” I lied. I was pissed enough about having to do my brother’s chores now I would have to cook. Gosh my life was sucking the big one.
“Let’s try this again, did you wash your hands?” My mom asked.
I nodded. Now she would leave me alone.
Finally my mother looked at me dead in the eye. She said, “April, do you know what raccoons do on the trash can lids?”
“Play.” I said confidently. While we hated them in our house a book in our library depicted these creatures as happy and was even nominated for a Caldicott Medal for it’s illustrations. While we were a little advanced for that book the younger children enjoyed it thoroughly.
“No April. They fuck on them.” My mother replied. She looked at me dead in the eye and an evil smile crossed her face. Her days were long and arduous, dealing with my father who was constantly overworked and never home. Then she had my brother who was sick upstairs coughing up a lung and things were not improved because he was allergic to his pet turtle Rafael who made his room stink all the more. On top of all that my sister, who was trying to learn multiplication, was having a meltdown in the next room. When my sister had a meltdown all activity stopped and my mother had to have a cup of tea. Not to mention my doting Godmother had gotten engaged to the deadbeat she was seeing and called my mother to break the news. Now it was my mom’s turn behind the wheel of the train careening of the track.
My mouth hung open at this revelation. Just fresh from Wonder of Wonder’s, I pictured this vermin fornication with the narrator of the movie, “And then the male sticks his penis in the female’s vagina.” Suddenly I began to get nauseous. I pictured this activity going on the top of the lids of my trash cans. I felt so violated. The worst part was that I had touched it. Although I was too young to know the term fluffer, now I knew that man’s heartache and grief. With that I let out an whelping, “Eww!”
I ran to the nearest sink, used half the soap there, and rinsed them maybe twenty more times before I was done. “Thought so.” My mom replied.
Perhaps Gregory Columbus Diffendale, for as much of a pain in the ass as he was, did have his use at times. While he was annoying the rest of the time he helped my mother teach me a lesson I will never forget. God works in mysterious ways and often talks through those no one suspects, however he always gives a big mouth the message.
Now I wash my hands cause raccoons fuck on trash cans. What can I say? My mama is a wise woman. Love April
PS. Tune into Confessions tonight on younow.com’s show channel from 8-10 pm est. Topic, dreams for 2012.