A few days ago, it was my FIL’s 71st birthday. Since there isn’t currently much of an outbreak where the ILs live and the one where we live, while growing, is also still at the point where you need really bad luck to run into someone who is infectious, I was forced to accompany Spouse down for the weekend. My ILs are nice people, but we have approximately three things in common: we’ll all (most likely) human, we all breathe oxygen, and we all know Spouse. It’s now Sunday morning and, having hit my limit, I’m hiding upstairs until it’s finally time to leave.
Sitting up here, I’m just listening to MIL pound around the house in her bare feet, opening and closing cupboard doors, cleaning this, rearranging that. She is German and while not all German houses are spotless, the general standard is pretty high and this one scores well. It’s not the most spotless spotless German house I’ve ever been in, but in that one other house, the level of spotlessness was beyond deranged (meanwhile, MIL, who was also there, took it as a sign of personal failure that that house was so much more spotless than hers). As it is, my MIL works from 6am until about 9pm keeping everything clean. She’s the sort of person who cleans the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and then wipes dry the dishwasher after every use and she cleans–and mops!–the bathroom at least three times a day.
Sitting here listening to all that going on, it’s… kind of sad. She’s not having fun. It wouldn’t do any good to point that out, thought. She’s stubborn and would refuse to see that she could cut back by half and the house would only slide into a state that is 90% as spotless as it is now (and that would still be 150% more spotless than most other homes, even here in Germany).
I often wonder what kind of person MIL would have turned out to be and what she would have done with her life if she’d had sympathy and support from her parents when she was a kid. She’d maybe have confidence in herself and there wouldn’t be quite so many people she’s stopped speaking to out of outrage over some perceived slight.
Anyway, while I was sitting up here in the doorway of her tiny little computer/sewing machine room that is across the hall from the upstairs bedroom, listening to my MIL stomp around the house and thinking how sad it all was, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I glanced up and staring at me with its big, shiny round eyes was a cute, little brown mouse, paused there at the door jam to the bedroom, hiding behind the ancient case holding the accordion FIL may or may not still remember how to play. Given it’s trajectory, the mouse must live in the little under-the-sloping-roof cupboard that has been opened exactly twice in the last 20 years (both of which were last August, when, searching for the enlarger Spouse said he owned, we found that all of Spouse’s film developing chemicals back from when he was in high school had boiled over out of their containers and evaporated and left a mess of glinting crystals all over the floor).
Now, I am a very open person and what I’d love to do most is run downstairs saying I saw a mouse!!!! But, of course, that would end in more than tears for the mouse, because, of course, most people, when faced with a mouse in their house, would put out traps. So, although this maybe makes me a bad person, I’m just going to be silently and secretly amused that there is a little mouse and its family living in my MIL’s otherwise spotless house.
But, wow, I have no idea how our little terrier, who has now spent two nights with us in the bedroom and loves nothing more than to chase small, cute, furry things and play with them until they’re dead, has failed to notice the mouse/mice. That’s surprisingly clueless of him.