BW and I were doing some housecleaning this week. It is spring and we had some time and the inclination. We donned battle fatigues armed ourselves with shovels, Pledge and seven huge plastic leaf bags left over from last autumn and invaded a closet deep in the undergrowth of 6860 Sunrise Drive.
The DC (designated closet) had not been cleaned for at least 22 years.
Our initial assault took out a couple of never played board games and three bags of clothing to be given to Goodwill then we retreated for some R & R and took a deep breath. During that hiatus, voluminous amounts of foul, fetid, foggy, fuming, filthy air flowed out through the house and up the chimney it rose. During the battle I took a prisoner, a picture of an older man whose identity was as mysterious as the person who annually places a bottle of wine and a rose on the grave of Edgar Allen Poe on his birthday.
I studied the image. "Who is this guy," I asked BW. Her forehead became corduroy-like as she searched her mental rolodex. "I am not sure," she replied. The face was not movie star handsome but neither was it Hunch Back of Notre Dame ugly. The man in the picture had raced through childhood, adolescence, young adult, middle age and roared into senectitude -- old age. He had the long laugh lines that begin near the corner of the eyes and reach downward toward the jowl like furrows of a single moldboard plow pulled by a plodding mule along a Smoky Mountain ridge. His eyelids had opened and closed so many times and guarded his eyeballs so long that they were not as taut and toned as in the past. They drooped like an old pair of sweat pants so he looked sleepy. His knobby head had a thin thatch of gray hair that struggled unsuccessfully to hide the shiny surface lurking beneath it. The comb over was so obvious that when the wind blew I'm sure his hair puffed out similar to a sail on a schooner or like the loosened fake leather cover on a 1970s hard top convertible billowing out like the air scoop on an old I-E bus that channeled air downward to cool the groaning diesel engine in the back.
A closer look revealed the hair in his ears. It looked like a squirrel was using his ears as a hibernaculum and nut storage crib but in his haste he forgot to pull his tail in while hibernating. His eyebrows reminded me of an industrial size push broom used in a foundry. Nose hair protruded downward that reminded me of Wally the walrus at the Cincinnati Zoo. His fat neck looked like a stump in the pasture with a jack-o-lantern sitting on it. The forehead had enough furrows to hold an inch of rain.
Reality came crashing through my mind like a meteor through the roof and I realized that I wasn't looking at a picture -- it was a mirror. Aaaargh.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at Larry Vandeventer 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.