Suburban Mystery 5: It Grows on You

Chad was in the garage with Bon Jovi cranked up on the old stereo system, but he could still hear the girlish shrieks coming from inside the house.  Kendall had been on Skype with her old sorority sisters for over an hour and she was still shrieking in that special way women show excitement when they’re with each other.

Chad was very much looking forward to the weekend, when Kendall would disappear for three days to participate in a charity golf event with her Tri-Delt sisters, leaving Chad alone to drink beer, watch Game of Thrones, and re-string the chain on his bike.  He was looking forward to wearing the same pants three days straight and eating nothing but fried chicken.  It would be like his bachelor days, except that the refrigerator was actually stocked and he had much more insurance.  

Chad figured it was safe to go back inside after he’d heard silence for fifteen minutes.  He hung his greasy bike cleaning rag on a nail on the garage wall, and cautiously entered the house through the kitchen door.  Kendall was sitting at the table, smiling, making a packing list on a long pad of paper they used to make grocery lists.   Chad craned his neck sideways to read her writing.

“I don’t understand why you need so many clothes for one weekend” he said.  “And why are you getting a manicure?  Won’t you be wearing golf gloves?”

Kendall gave Chad the kind of look she usually gave boy scouts when they tried to sell her one of those $10 tins of old, stale popcorn.  

“I’m not going to be sleeping in golf gloves, and my nails are disgusting” she said, inspecting one hand.  The ring finger was painted a completely different color than the rest of the hand.  Kendall had told Chad that this was called an “accent nail,” which confused Chad, because he always associated one long, different fingernail with people doing cocaine in the 80s.   “Besides” Kendall continued.  “I don’t ask you why you have so many of the same pairs of bike clothes.”

“That’s performance wear, Kendall” Chad said indignantly.  “They help me perform at optimum capacity.”

“Yeah, well how about performing your sweaty performance wear to the hamper, because it’s smelling at maximum capacity” she retorted, packing another pair of sandals.”

“You don’t really need four pairs of sandals, do you?” Chad was fascinated by the female packing process, especially since despite packing more than enough, Kendall always seemed to forget something once she’d arrived at her location.”

“Maybe you’re right” Kendall said.  “I should use the extra space to pack another pair of golf shoes.  You never know when you’ll need a backup for your backup pair.”

***

Friday morning Chad drove Kendall to the airport, dropping her off at the front of the building as it was no longer possible to see your beloved to the gate.  Chad had also noted that there was no longer free short term parking, and as much as he loved Kendall, he wasn’t going to pay $12 to walk her to security.  

“I’ll bring you back a souvenir!”  Kendall shouted cheerily.  Too cheerily, as it was five in the morning.”  Kendall had been drinking coffee nonstop since the moment she’d opened her eyes.  

“Be safe!”  Chad called back, waving as he pulled away from the curb.  “Don’t get arrested!”  Finally!  Chad had the house to himself all weekend.  He laughed to himself joyously.  He was going to do something he’d always wanted to do.  He’d called off work.  He was going to nap in his domain all day long.  No pretending to do yard work or man work for him!  But first, he was going to buy a futon for the garage.

***

Chad awoke about twenty four hours later, on his new futon, which he had placed smack in the center of the garage.  Chad and Kendall never used the garage to park their cars, it was merely a place to store yard equipment and Chad’s bike and bike accessories.  Chad had turned it into his personal man cave and had never looked back.  He had once thought about installing a bathroom, but then he realized that as a man, the world was his bathroom, as long as Kendall wasn’t around to witness it.  

Chad rolled over and pulled his phone out of his pocket, wincing as he realized he’d been sleeping on it for hours.  He pulled up Facebook to look at the pictures Kendall had posted from her Friday night.  There were lots of pictures of smiling women wearing white pants and holding margaritas, but so far no pictures of women in the back of a police car.  This was good, because if Chad remembered Kendall’s first sorority experiences, that had happened once or twice before.  Realizing that the weekend was still young, Chad slipped his feet into some flip flops and wandered off in search of an appropriate breakfast for a Man of the House.  It was going to be a good weekend.

***

“I’m exhaaaaaauuuuuusted” Kendall declared, plopping down in the car seat next to Chad as he picked her up from the airport that following Monday.  

“Yes, I hear those twelve ounce curls can really deplete your energy” Chad said with a straight face.  “Good thing you ate your own weight in cheese dip to keep your strength up, according to those pictures.”

“Yeah, about that” Kendall began, scratching at what looked suspiciously like a dried cheese stain on her capri pants.  “I think I might have a cheese allergy.”

Chad chuckled heartily.  Kendall had been lactose intolerant since he’d met her, but refused to accept her condition and consequently suffered the consequences on a regular basis.  Kendall had no self-control when it came to cheese.

“We’re calling it an allergy now?”  He teased gently.  “Was that to make your time in the shared bathroom less embarrassing?”

“NO.”   Kendall said this a little louder than necessary.  Chad took this to mean “yes.”  “The cheese is making me itch like crazy!  This is s an allergy, Chad.”  She took a pen out of the glove compartment and scratched the top her foot with it.

“OK” Chad said, having learned long ago that agreeing was easier than arguing.  Chad was also exhausted from sleeping on a futon all weekend, but he was not going to admit that to Kendall.  In fact, he was not even going to mention the futon to Kendall, and when she brought it up, his plan was to just pretend it had been in the garage for months.  

When they arrived home, Kendall went straight from the car to the basement of the house, dumping her clothing on the floor of the laundry room and stripping down to wash her cheese encrusted clothes.  Chad admired her from the top of the stairs and though that sorority girls were all alike – polished and beautiful on the outside, but practical and a little slovenly once you got them alone and in private.  Kendall brushed past him on the stairs, muttering something about being itchy and squelching his hopes that she’d stay undressed for a little longer.

Chad heard the taps come on in the bathroom, and decided to take this moment to clean out the garage.  He ran outside and shut the door softly, then gathered up his clothes, flip flops, and take-out containers in both arms.  He stopped at the bins on the way in and remembered to sort his recycling before going downstairs and dumping his clothes and shoes directly onto Kendall’s pile. He thought for a second, and then mixed their clothing together, so Kendall wouldn’t realize he’d added his things later.  It was Kendall’s week for the laundry.  Once finished, he sighed with relief.  This bachelor weekend counted as a success.  With any luck, Kendall wouldn’t notice the garage futon all summer.

***

“Chad?  Do you have any Gold Bond?”  Kendall called from the bathroom three days later.

“I don’t know, am I a sixty year old man?”  Chad called back, from his den where he was struggling to tie his tie without a mirror.  

“Come on!  Don’t hold out on me!  I’m itchy!”  Kendall’s whining had reached the pitch it usually did when she was begging to order Chinese food for dinner for the fourth time in a month.  

Chad rolled his eyes, glad Kendall couldn’t see him doing it.  She had been going on about her itching all night, and he really thought she was milking this dairy allergy thing a little too much.  He hoped it passed, because he’d noticed on Facebook that some of her sorority sisters were now selling essential oils, and he had seen a horrific future mental image wherein he opened the medicine cabinet and became buried under tons of smelly little bottles, all guaranteed to cure something if rubbed in the right diluted amount on the right part of the body  Chad located his Gold Bond powder, which had been buried in the pile of clean clothes he hadn’t yet put away, and marched it into the bathroom, where Kendall was sitting on the closed toilet lid, attempting to examine the bottom of her own foot.  

“Do you think this has something to do with reflexology?”  Kendall asked.

Chad peered more closely at her foot.  It did seem to be red and inflamed.  “First, no.  Don’t ever use that word in this house again.  Second, I don’t think a dairy allergy would affect your foot.”

“You don’t know” Kendall said.  “I bet my histamines have invaded my lymph system and now my whole body’s getting inflammation.  Maybe I should go glu—mmmmph.”  Kendall’s next phrase, which would have been “gluten free,” was stifled by Chad placing a hand firmly over her mouth.

“We do not give up pizza in this house” he told her very seriously.  “Even if it has both gluten and cheese.  You do not have celiac disease or a dairy allergy.  Go see a doctor.”

“I don’t need a doctor.  I just need to relax” Kendall said.  “This is stress related.”  She stood and slid her feet into her vacation sandals.  “Besides, she might make me remove my nail polish and I’m not done with this pedicure yet.”

“Suit yourself” Chad told her.  “But don’t come crawling to me when your foot falls off.  You’re too heavy to carry.”

***

Chad had been at work for about six hours when he noticed that his office felt unusually hot.  He was feeling sweaty and a little gross, especially around his feet.  He turned on the fan he kept beneath his desk and slid his heels out of his shoes a little, allowing the air flow to cool and dry his socks down a little.  It was really irresponsible the way the building manager played with the thermostat.  

By the time five o’clock rolled around, Chad had removed his socks and thrown them in the garbage can.  His feet were on fire.  He assumed that Kendall had forgotten to turn the wash cycle up to large load and had failed to rinse all of the detergent out of the load.  It had happened before, and he’d developed a rash in the shape of the British Isles.  

Chad ended up driving home barefoot, scratching the tops of his feet on the edges of the pedals as he drove.  He parked hastily, half on the grass, and stomped up into the house to confront Kendall, holding his shoes in his hands.  “You’re contagious!”  He shouted, tossing one shoe down into the basement, imagining it would get disinfected at some point.  “You gave me your stupid fake dairy allergy!”

Kendall looked up from the pile of laundry she’d been sorting.  “I’m sorry, but you told me that I didn’t have an allergy, so you must be wrong.”

Chad waved the remaining shoe into her face.  “Then what did you do with my shoe?  You’ve soiled it!”

“Ewwww”  Kendall waved the shoe away with one French manicured hand.  “That smells disgusting.  It’s not my fault you can’t take care of your things.”

Chad emptied his pockets, which contained his wadded up socks, onto the coffee table.  Kendall snatched one up immediately.  “What are you doing with my socks in your pocket? I have to admit, when I imagine you wanting to wear my clothing, it’s not generally socks that comes to mind first.”

“That’s my sock” Chad insisted, stretching it out to full length.

“No, that’s my sock” Kendall insisted, grabbing it back.  “See?  It’s short so that it doesn’t peek above a low cut shoe.”

Chad squinted at it critically.  “Is that why it kept sliding down my heel?  I’d wondered about that.”

“Where’d you get that anyway?  I haven’t finished washing my vacation clothes.”

Chad thought back to his rush to get dressed in the morning.  He was pretty sure the sock had come from the clean hamper in the basement.  But if it hadn’t…

“Where are you going?”  Kendall asked, as Chad darted from the room.

“To make sure I’m wearing my own clean underwear!”  He yelled back.

***

The next morning they both woke up itchy all over.  

“I can’t take this anymore.  I’m calling a doctor” Kendall said, emptying the entire contents tube of hydrocortisone cream she’d placed on the nightstand into her palm, and slathering her exposed feet, calves, hands, and forearms with it.  

Chad refrained from rolling his eyes and saying something along the lines of “about time!” which he knew would only serve to cause Kendall to make him more miserable than he already felt.   “Ask the doctor if we should get a shingles vaccine” he suggested, as she picked up her phone to place the call.

Chad called his employer from the kitchen and requested the day off, expecting that Kendall would be making a same day appointment.  After he was finished, he went downstairs to review the hamper situation.  Somehow he’d ended up wearing those socks, and that had been the start of his itching.

The laundry room was a mess.  Kendall had attempted to sort her vacation clothes and in the process, some items had spilled over into the clean clothes area.  Chad kicked aside a pile of socks, underwear, and pants, trying to remember what he’d done with his second shoe the previous night.  The kicking unearthed the pile of Kendall’s vacation shoes – sandals, golf shoes, sneakers, heels.  He bent down to take a closer look.

“Hey Kendall!” He shouted up the stairs, feeling triumphant.  He separated one shoe from the pile by gingerly holding its strap.  “Your monogram isn’t LBB, is it?”

“What?”  She poked her head around the corner, absently scratching at one ankle with the big toe on her other foot.  “Let me see that.”

Kendall snatched the shoe out of Chad’s hand.  On the heel in the back was a monogram that did not match her own.  “LBB? Oh no!  I grabbed Lindsey’s golf shoes!”

“It doesn’t look familiar, but it smells familiar” Chad pointed out.  The shoe was emanating a foul stench, similar to what had been on Chad’s shoes and socks the night before.  “We should baggie this up and take it to the doctor’s office with us.”

“This is your fault!” Kendall said, searching for a plastic bag for the shoes.  

“….how?  I didn’t get drunk and put on my roommate’s golf shoes.”

“You wouldn’t let me take all of the things I needed!  If I’d been able to find what I needed, I wouldn’t have grabbed the wrong shoes in the first place!”  Kendall stormed upstairs, and out the door.  Chad felt a sudden panic.

“Wait!  Where are you going?”  He ran up the stairs, in a vain attempt to stop her before she reached the garage.

“I need a heavy duty bag” she said, throwing the garage door wide open.  Chad winced and Kendall went silent, taking in the glory that was Chad’s bachelor weekend futon, mini fridge, and tower of empty beer cans.

“CHAD!”  She yelled.  “Seriously?”  

“How did that get that?”  Chad asked innocently.  “It’s a mystery to me.”

OR IS IT?  DUN DUN DUN!

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