By Alan Sorensen
Before we get going on Uncle Russell, my new roommate, I have to give credit where credit is due. I wrote about how Havre's Larry Brubaker has become very successful in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and one of the leading authorities on the Munchausen by Proxy condition. I keep forgetting to mention the woman who made it all possible (besides his mom). His wife, Sheila, the former Sheila Harshman of Chinook.
I've always liked Sheila, though I'm sure she'd never remember me. But when I was a freshman at Northern, she was one of the few upper classmen who treated us freshmen like people. We'll never forget that. (It may have helped that her little sister, Connie, was in our class, but I don't know. Sheila was very nice.
Anyway, when I said Uncle Russell is neat, I meant it kindly.
I learned that he was coming a week ahead of time, so I had plenty of time to pick up around the house and to line up a maid.
His train came in at 1 p.m. Friday. I stayed up most of Thursday night taking out garbage cans and bags of items which had found a home on my floors. I also ran five loads of laundry, almost entirely comprised of sheets, blankets and bedspreads. I did manage to throw in some clothes and towels of my own.
What I didn't have time for (after all, it was just one week's notice) was to line up a house cleaner or to reconstruct the bed vacated last fall by the last kid to fly the coop.
I was extremely pleased with the way the house looked when Russell arrived. He was not. I did take him on a tour and explain that the little fly corpses stay on the wall, that they're about the only colorful decorations I have. I also told him that the snowboard posters wallpapering his bedroom must stay up because Lars (aka Jan Ferdinand of Lollar, Germany) hung them four years ago. We promised to leave them up.
Russell then jumped into the bedroom and began picking up all the remnants of the last inhabitant mostly fungi-festooned dishes and glasses. He filled a couple of large boxes with the items he decided he could live without. We took them to the dumpster.
We then lifted the mattress and support board from where they were lodged under the bed frame. We found a perfectly fine pair of gloves and some more dishes underneath.
Russell picked up the larger pieces of jetsam and flotsam from the shipwreck bedroom as best he could. He then took a broom and dust pan to the carpet. (I have decided that God doesn't want me to vacuum carpets because every new and used vacuum I've acquired since going out into the world on my own has ceased to function within a week of its arrival at my home.)
When he had most of the dust bunnies (some were actually very attractive, Dixie) swept up, Russell went about picking up several dollars worth of pennies which were probably placed intentionally on the floor because of their native ability for conducting heat. Or maybe not.
But as neat as he is, Russell isn't nearly as godly as he would have me believe. He went three days before taking a shower. His excuse? "I was kind of afraid to go in there."
A truck driver and mechanic on the coast for the last 25 years, there are things about Havre for which Russ was unprepared. "It's cold," he said. He doesn't go anywhere without his longjohns, even on the warmest days, and he does not scrape windshields. "It's cold."
He has been given to opening my blinds during the day and turning my thermostat from 60 to 70. I close the blinds and turn the thermostat down when I get home at night.
Russ does cook very well, I might add. And I do dishes. So we've got something working.
He likes telephones as much as I dislike them. He doesn't seem to enjoy any TV programs made since 1975. His favorites are Dukes of Hazzard and M.A.S.H. He does not like sports. (This is an Olympic year, but he may be gone by September.)
We still haven't had a cleaning person come in, but Russ doesn't seem to be as eager to breathe clean as he was when he arrived. He still doesn't allow his feet to touch the floor without shoes, boots or slippers.
There's more, but we'll have to deal with that later. It's just nice to have another person in the house. (Someone who doesn't mind even enjoys answering the phone.)