My stocking cap is pulled it low over my eyes as I drive in the drizzling darkness to Macdonald’s. Macdonald’s…the illuminated building sparkles like a Disney castle next to a 7-Eleven and a dingy bar. This is the place that I go sometimes when my anxiety festers. Like a junky with trembling hands and a twitchy eye, sometimes, I need that kind of crack – the fast food kind. 

When the saccharine female voice on drive-through intercom asks for my order, I ask for a Sausage Egg McMuffin with extra cheese. I don’t know what Macdonald’s puts in their Sausage Egg McMuffins, but every bite is a little bit of heaven. And it is totally worth breaking my dairy-free diet for. The cheese has probably grown from a petrie dish and not a cow anyway, so I’m still technically remaining dairy-free. 

I pull up to pay. Through the illuminated windows, I see a middle-aged man and two young children sitting in one of the booths munching merrily on fries and chicken nuggets. I realize that the man is Don. Don, my client. 

I hunker down in my seat and pulled my stocking cap down lower over my eyes. Ironically, Don had been in my office on Monday and we had struck up a conversation about sugar and it’s “highly inflammatory” properties. Don, is sipping on what appears to be a chocolate shake.

I have two options. Option 1, I could maintain the charade of not seeing him and not be personally steeped in the pathos of the late night Macdonald binge. 

Option 2, I could mess with him, stay incognito and text him “I wouldn’t drink that if I were you.”

I go with option 1…so that Don doesn’t feel like I am overstepping my boundaries as a therapist 🙂 

Yep. This is what I am reduced to today. A late night Macdonald’s “fiender” hiding in my car beneath drizzling rain and a cloud of shame. How did I get to this place – hunkered down in my seat with my stocking cap pulled low over my eyes, drumming my fingertips against the steering wheel waiting for my msg fix? Homeownership, that’s how. Let me explain. 

Saturday morning:

“Chirp!…chirp!…chirp!…” 

I jumped out of bed, my morning brain a dilapidated mash of neurons registering something loud and annoying. I stumbled into the hall and heard it again. It was coming from the ceiling.

My friend Adam had started installing a new light in my office the day before but didn’t have the right bolts. The lamp currently lay on the floor, and gnarled wires exited ominously through a hole in the wall. 

My first thought was: the electrical system was now faulty, which of course meant that I was toast and would have to pay an electrician thousands of dollars (that I didn’t have) to have it completely rewired. 

The ceiling chirped again. Oh, right. It was the fire alarm, There was a battery or something that was supposed to be changed sometimes. I teetered precariously on a chair, unhooked it from the wall, and took out the battery. The fire alarm device which was now hanging from red and black wires chirped again. I proceed to wrench it off the wall. 

Feeling smug to have outsmarted the fire alarm, I began climbing the steps when the actual battery-gutted fire alarm in my hand CHIRPED. I stumble and drop it. My heart was now racing. 

It was alive! I scoop it up with trepidation, rush out to my car, throw it in the trunk and slam the trunk closed. Problem solved.

I started brewing tea and heard a chirp again coming from downstairs. NOOOO! It WAS the electrical system. Fending off frantic thoughts about having to take out a second mortgage to pay an electrician to fix it, I frantically called Adam. 

Adam was sitting in the bleachers at his daughter’s soccer game munching on a corndog. “Adam,” I wailed, the ceiling is chirping from the exposed wires!” 

“Are you sure?” He asked. That doesn’t make sense. I explained the scenario. 

“I’ll pop over,” Adam said kindly albeit inquisitively. I could hear him chewing and gulping. “Let me just finish my corndog.”

When Adam arrived, he squinted up at the exposed wires as the ceiling proceeded its pervasive chirping. He wandered into the hall, knelt down by my bedroom door, and unhooks a small white box (a box which I had never seen before) from the wall, took out the battery, and handed it to me. 

“It’s the carbon monoxide detector,” he said with his sideways head tilt and an ‘I wonder how you graduate from high school’ kind of look. 

“Oooooh, of course, the carbon monoxide detector!” I exclaimed. I had never heard of a carbon monoxide detector. In fact, this felt a bit “big brother-y” like discovering a hidden camera in your house. 

After exuberant gratitude and apologies were expressed to Adam, he went back to his daughter’s soccer game. He’s a good friend. Everyone should have an Adam in their life. 

Later that day, I pulled out the paint sample that my ex Rosco had helped me pick. Cornice tan. It was a light khaki. The paint sample that Rosco had painted on my wall had looked stunningly chic in my office. I dialed up “Tommy’s Paint Pot” and indicated to the paint guy on the phone that I wanted two gallons of cornice tan. 

“Uuuhhu. What sheen?” He asked. 

‘Sheen?’ I asked frantically. I vaguely recalled Rosco vehemently ordering me to buy “flat.”

“Flat,” I announced triumphantly. 

“Nope. You don’t want flat,” the paint guy said. It’s not washable. I suggest ‘eggshell.’ It’s a flat and shiny combo that is washable. 

“Perfect,” I said, my voice wavering. Rosco would have words for me. “Washable,” however, seemed like like an important characteristic given my propensity to spill things. 

Now, what line?” The paint guy asked.

“I’m sorry?” I asked dumbly. 

“What line?” The guy repeated. Before I could answer he said, articulating every word as if he were relating a message to a 5-year-old, “I suggest the ‘Regal.’ It 100% acrylic and low odor.”

“Great!” I responded. “Sooo, err, how many more categories of paint qualities are there? I mean, do I have to pick like a luster…sparkle…glide…longevity…glow in the dark capacity…”

“Ha!” He snorted. “Nope, just the line and sheen. First time home owner?”

“How did you guess?”

“It’ll get easier,” he said assuredly. 

It’s not getting easier. Here is why.

Monday I discovered mold growing on the bathroom ceiling and now have to google search “how to kill indoor mold” because I’m not sure if vinegar will do it or if it requires a full-on annihilation via ammonia and roundup or something. 

Tuesday I accidentally added a double portion of laundry soap to the condo’s front-loading washing machine and walked into the laundry room to discover a sea of bubbles which I was frantically scooping into a large trash bag when one of my neighbors walked in to discover me, in a sea of bubbles. 

Wednesday I decided to “drag” rather than carry my very heavy trash bag across the catwalk to the outdoor trash room only to discover in the aftermath that it had left a slug-like trail in it’s wake due to the hole that had formed in the bottom of the bag. It was a trail of disgusting indecipherable organic matter on the catwalk’s black runner. The slug trail appeared to begin at my next door neighbor’s door. When I was unsuccessful in scrubbing it off of the runner with a sponge and soap, I figured at least I didn’t look like the guilty culprit. My neighbor did. You’re welcome resident of #116.

And Thursday, today, I received a blue abstract canvas painting that I had ordered online and it had none of the zen-like artistic flair that it had in the picture that had radiated from my computer screen. It, in fact, looked like a child had gone apeshit with some crayons under the encouragement of one of those overly enthusiastic mothers encouraging him or her that he or she was an amazing artist. So now, I have kindergartener art hanging in my home office. 

Great. I’m done. Done with adulting and home owning. I just want to stuff a Macdonald’s Sausage Egg McMuffin down my gullet.

Thank you MacDonald’s…you illustrious Disney castle glowing like a beacon of hope in the night, promising to dispel all of my homeownership woes. 

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