The Crazy Family

It could just be you . . .

By Beth MacDonald

It’s a safe assumption that most neighborhoods have at least one crazy family. If you look around and don’t know which family that is, it might be yours. That’s absolutely the case with us.

When I look around my peaceful section of town, I see smiling children playing in their yards and well-behaved dogs on leashes, all properly pooper-scooped. People are well dressed, having civil conversations. Every Thursday night their trash is out and the recycling bins are neatly stacked for Friday pickup. I envy these people. They seem to pull off the illusion of having it sooo together.

We, too, have a lovely, well-appointed home. We are well traveled. We have diplomas, in a box someplace. I do try my best to maintain the appearance of social acceptability in public; it just never happens to come off that way. You can’t really start a conversation with your neighbor about your exciting trip to Cuba while your googly-eyed mixed-breed dog is trying to mate with a holly bush.

My husband says he doesn’t yell. He is a “motivational speaker to those who won’t listen.” You can hear him any given day giving several motivational speeches to our dogs while listening to bluegrass music. It is no coincidence that he is shouting orders to barking maniacs with banjo music playing.

Our dogs get way too excited with every leaf that blows by our glass front door. Any neighbor who walks by is met with barking and jumping. When one of our three dogs recently journeyed to the Great Beyond, a neighbor commented in exasperation, “Finally.” I wasn’t even offended. I just shrugged, knowing how hard it is for people to pass our home.

Our son, a successful young man who lives on his own, likes to put Band-Aids on his car to cover any scratches it incurs. It has now incurred approximately 150 scratches. When he comes to visit on weekends, his car looks like it’s a mobile first aid kit.

My fellow moms seem to live such color-coordinated lives. Oh, I’m sure they have their own struggles; we all do. They just seem to do it all while maintaining the look of supermodels. They each have three or more children in tow, clean and happy, while I drag yard waste to the curb in mismatched clothes, bleeding from weeding. I wonder how I ended up in dishwashing gloves, my husband’s camouflage Crocs (questioning why my husband even has camouflage Crocs), looking like I’m trying to bury a body, and somehow surrounded by way more plastic than I can explain.

My friend Janine says I’m the “garden variety crazy.” She told me when she comes over I’m at least dressed, and she’s never eaten out of the dog bowls — so there’s that to be proud of.

Any given Friday at eight in the morning the rumble of the trash trucks disrupts my peaceful ritual. Scrambling to put my coffee down, I furiously begin to look for clothes. Anyone’s clothes will do; they never match. I begin the mad dash from the house to the curb in what looks like a ridiculous live version of the old ’90s Nickelodeon network game show Double Dare where the prize is getting slimed with my own week-old garbage.

One particular Friday I was finished doing my morning cardio/trash dash and came back to find a very large and intimidating spider on the kitchen door window. This spider had a neatly woven, well-organized and fashionable zigzag web. It was clearly mocking me. I grabbed a can of Raid (to save my life, certainly not my dignity). Spraying poison on one spider really upset a wasp’s nest that was apparently hidden behind a flowerpot.

Wasps began to swarm me. I began to scream and do an ancient, interpretive dance of terror. None of my neighbors were the least bit disturbed, concerned, or even surprised by this. Not one. b

Beth MacDonald is a suburban misadventurer that likes to make words up. She loves to travel with her family and read everything she can.

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