I cleaned out my attic this past summer.
Now, this is not a pursuit to embark upon in the hotter-than-hell-melt-your-eyeballs weather that we had been having, but after months of working up to it, the appointed weekend had finally arrived and I didn’t want to put it off, yet again, for fear of getting hit by a truck in the interim. Though I always wear clean underwear in preparation for such a twist of fate, and also to avoid causing my mother embarrassment, I wasn’t particularly enamored of the idea that people would be tramping through that untidy space to divvy up my earthly belongings, and probably taking about what a disgusting housekeeper I was. Even though I would be dead at that point, I had no desire to add insult to injury. God only knew what was up there. I hadn’t seen any of that stuff for ten years or more, and spent a good part of my life, up until that weekend, desperately trying to forget that I even had an attic.
I awoke on Saturday to birdsong. Well, birdcroak would be more accurate. It was 112 degrees out with 90% humidity and not an air conditioner in sight. I got up and jumped into the shower, as much to soak off the sheet that had bonded to my body like epoxy, as to get clean.
After I sweated myself into shorts and a tee shirt, choked down six or seven cups of iced coffee, and made 12 trips to the bathroom, I ventured upward.
Upon opening the door, I was assailed by a mustiness that was almost palpable. Plus, multi-generations of spiders had obviously been working their little spinnerets to the bone to add that certain, je ne sais quoi, Bram Stoker touch to the décor. I didn’t know whether to clean it or set up a photo shoot with “Better Dungeons and Gardens.”
Sighing, I took a broom to the cobwebs. After a scant hour, they were down . . . and stuck all over my sweaty body. At that point, I bore a striking resemblance to cotton candy . . . with feet.
Next, dusting. After ten minutes of that, the room resembled the aftermath of afternoon tea with the Tasmanian Devil. Mexico City had cleaner air! And now, on top of my cobweb body suit, I was covered with so much black dust that I got the unexplainable urge to drop to one knee and sing “Mammy.” I idly wondered, if I got my period just then, would I have minstrel cramps?
After three more hours of dusting and another two of coughing, I unearthed nearly two hundred boxes, in which were stored such essentials as:
Corroded flashlight batteries
Broken transistor radio
Old . . . really old . . . dog food
Clothing I wore in elementary school
A box of stones . . . just plain old stones
An album full of photos of people I had never seen before in my life
A Brontosaurus skull
Johnny Mathis albums
A case of SlimFast shakes that had exploded years ago
An empty hope chest (neither I nor my chest ever had much hope)
A flat tire
Three decks of 50, 51 and 49 cards respectively
A portrait of Elvis on black velvet
A rug with cigarette burns
A pile of sticks (I guess they were meant to go with the stones, in case I wanted to break some bones)
A full-size Liechtenstein flag
A concrete gargoyle with a missing nose.
There was much more, but I was too afraid to explore any further, so I solved my problem in the most efficient way possible.
I tossed in a match, closed the door, and called the fire department.
At least now I have a good excuse for the mess.