It’s mid-August. The heat is oppressive and the humidity makes me feel like I’m breathing through a mattress. I’m sweating in places most women don’t even have places. I just want to hang an IV of iced tea going straight into my vein, sit by the air conditioner and wait for school to start. My dear husband has lost his mind. He keeps mowing the lawn over and over. He sits on his little John Deere and mows over to the neighbors sometimes and meets the guy next door, who’s on his mower. They sit under the big maple and chat. Sometimes they race their mowers when the kids aren’t around. But whenever the kids show up now my husband disappears. I don’t know where he goes, but when bored whiney children show up, he vanishes—the Phantom of August I call him.
The children are so bored. We’ve done everything: gone to Splish Splash several times, made off-Island voyages to Tanger, checked on the lighthouse at Montauk to see if it’s still there, visited up-Island relatives that we only visit when we have completely run out of ideas.
I used to try to make the kids eat healthy. Now, I’m too hot and tired to care. They’re eating frozen dinners and cake for breakfast. Beer is missing all the time. I don’t know if it’s the 8-year-old, the 11-year-old, or the 6-year-old. Once, I thought I might ask the police to come and give them a Breathalyzer test, but then I realized that they might take them away, so I didn’t call. But there’s rips and stains on the couch that seem to increase whenever they play those insufferable video games. And I think one of them has taken up smoking. I’m re-thinking having the police Breathalyze them. If they found alcohol on them they could take them away, or maybe take me away, in either case, someone else would have to entertain them for the last three weeks of summer.
Thank God, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Target and Sears and the other stores are all advertising “back to school” sales now. They bring tears to my eyes. Soon I can take them to the stores and listen with joy to the fights over who’s getting what and who got more than whom. Just to smell crayons and markers again—I can’t wait.
Then we’ll clothes shop. I can’t wait to see what horrific overpriced Chinese manufactured clothes we’ll have to choose from this year. I’ll have to bring a red pen to mark down all the clothes in the car so my husband doesn’t see what we spent. I hate doing that. But he gets so upset when his hard-earned money goes for a $32 jewel-studded zombie head on a t-shirt. It’s better this way. Better a lie that heals than a truth that hurts, that’s what Grammie used to say.
I’ll close now dear Diary. I have to rise from my comfortable chair by the air conditioner and rake a path to the kitchen. I can hear the children experimenting with food again; I just heard “tuna” and “jelly” in the same sentence. Yesterday someone made elbow noodles with maple syrup and didn’t clean up. This morning the counter was black with ants. But ants always take a break at some point, so I waited for them to leave, then tackled the mess. I was too tired to even curse.
I have lost all parental authority. I just hang onto the thought that legally I just have to keep them alive till Labor Day. After that, I may start to see my hubby around the house again. I’ll have to start nagging him for a new living room set now, but I’ll wait a few days to give him a chance to reorient to his surroundings.