I can't help but smile and laugh at bit at myself this morning at what a mess I truly can be. I have always been one dirty ass kid. Even now grown-up and standing alone in my kitchen I find it hard not to take a long look at myself and wonder how in the hell do I get so dirty each day. I can still can hear my dad hollering to my mom to clean my face. It was just my luck that the damn thing looked dirty even when it was clean. More often than not she was trying desperately to clean the freckles right off my cheeks. I can also hear my brother and my best friend laughing at me at work.
I should have known not to go into the construction business... I wasn't even able to stay clean as a high school English teacher for god sakes. There was not a single day that went by without me spilling something on my clothes.... usually coffee but it could be just about anything. I was simply expected by my students and peers, alike, to have something on my outfit. So, one can only imagine the crap I got into at a construction site. If there was something that could get on me it usually did. By the end of a work day I looked like an absolute pig pen with paint, and caulk, and dust, and even a little bit of coffee on my body somewhere. The guys always lovingly referred to me as "dirt ball". Which was not to far off the name, "dirty Sally", I was called in the days of Pete. Or, as my mom used to say to me, "kid you look like you have been chasing a fart through a keg of nails!" Seriously, I had absolutely no idea what that meant then and I still don't today. Although, it most certainly meant I was dirty because she never, not one time said it to me when I was getting out of the bath.
So here I am at 7:00 in the morning, quite clean I might add, staring at the bottle of dish washing soap sitting on the counter. I am waiting patiently, scratch that, I am waiting impatiently for the water to boil for my coffee. I have not yet convinced my beautiful wife that we need a coffee maker, the kind that has timer and keeps the coffee hot for at least an hour. Oh no...we grind our beans, and we use a French press, and it makes one hell of a cup of coffee... that is cold in five minutes. Oh well, when in San Francisco do as they do, I suppose. None the less, the chill of the morning and my refusal to turn the heat up out of the fear of yet another giant electric bill makes this whole process annoying. For a second, I have the brilliant idea to warm myself over the gas flame burning under my still not boiling pot. I lift my shirt above the pot to catch the warm air and for a moment I am happy. Until I lean back not realizing that I have heated the metal on the necklace I am wearing to the point of burning my chest. "Brilliant!" I think to myself. Not only am I wearing a charm I made out of the crown my son knocked out of my mouth last summer, which I have still not replaced. Therefore, my gappy smile is currently missing a tooth, as well. But, the six hundred dollar tooth necklace (that is how much the dentist charged me for the crappy thing) has literally left a mark on my skin and it hurts like hell.
I give up on being warm and put my shirt down turning my attention back to the plastic bottle on the counter. I cannot help but smile once again. The damn thing is covered, permanently stained with roofing tar from my handy-man escapade on the roof yesterday. I was not about to pay $850 dollars to fix the ever so tiny spot in the drainpipe the little man said was leaking. "Oh hell no," I thought to myself as I followed the man all over the roof. I was sure I could fix it. However, just like all my other home repair endeavors, something else always gets ruined in the process. More often than not it is my clothes... for like my father before me I inevitably forget to change my outfit into something more suitable for work. But, this time it is the soap bottle and looking at the stained plastic just makes me laugh and shake my head... not out of disgust but in surrender. Today, on what would have been my dad's 72 birthday, this mess, be it ever so small that I have yet again created seems to be especially endearing. The subtle combination of the moment, dirt and my dad's birthday pulls me back into all sorts of memories of my past. I spin through time forgetting for a second that I am waiting for the water to boil.