Contrary to popular belief, the circus, flea or otherwise, does not roll into town upon a belt of railroad cars. Rather, it shows up at your house on a flatbed truck sometime between 9 a.m. and noon on a Tuesday. The big top can be seen for blocks, just around every bend, proudly announcing its arrival despite the glaring lack of midway.
I am the clown in this scenario.
So it was that I found myself spending the entire Monday prior going through every shelf, drawer and pantry of our home, double-bagging any edible item — sealed twice with a zip tie — and discarding the expired. In the morning our house would be encased by balloon, and then a constant cloud of poison, the brick Zeppelin of suburbia.
The termites would never know what hit them. Despite ours being a household of vegetarian pacifists, the termites demise was something we could justify. The beacon of our bungalow, however, blaring blue and yellow bloomers for all the world to see, did not. For 48 hours our unsuspecting neighbors would live beneath the shadow of an inflatable IKEA, and then we would emerge from the Lapland, worn and ragged, ready to assemble.
Our family did not run away to join the circus. The circus ran us out. A freak show with small cats and a dog act, taking it on the road. Meanwhile, I was three rings of worry.
First, the adamant and oft-repeated assurance that once the gas dissipated and the tent came down we would be able to use our wares: dinner, glass, flat and under, respectively, without so much as a light rinsing, seemed too good to be true. Surely, science hasn’t come so far that a bowlful of poison leaves nothing but memories where logic insists on residue.
Also, the internet didn’t help. Turns out, there’s a bunch of scary stuff stuck in the web, including the absolute certainty that burglars in gas masks will slice open the skin of your home’s cozy cocoon to take every single thing you own, minus the termites. Best-case scenario, they film an episode of Breaking Bad in your kitchen.
While none of those happened, we did return to a call from the water company. It turns out that one of the workers from the fumigation company used the toilet in the hall bath. The one with the wonky handle that wakes me from a dead sleep whenever the water doesn’t stop running in a timely fashion, causing me to channel every breath of dadness into the trickling night: “Jiggle the damn lever!”
The guy had no idea, but the water company knew. They called to scold me for running an endless stream of water, despite the fact I wasn’t. In a day our bill had doubled.
Fixing the toilet jumped up several spots on the “things I need to do” list. Binge-watching Breaking Bad became a close second.
Atop the list? Washing every inch of everything.
And the boys want to take trapeze lessons.