Read Part Six
Fights were the main order of business today. Our first dispute centered on the overcluttered dining room. Myrtle was intent on cleaning it out while Jarl was intent on not doing shit and being a packrat. To cope with the stress, Jarl got drunk real fast and tried to stall. Myrtle began yelling about being sick of Jarl's shit and tired of him fucking up her house. At this point, she invites him to step outside (“Get the fuck out!”) and obtain a divorce order while he's at it. Jarl declines and backs down.
Verbal highlights of subsequent cleaning session:
Myrtle: Jarl, put your peanuts somewhere else.
Jarl: I can't.
I should mention that Myrtle pronounces 'peanut' very loosely, an almost perfect homophone of 'penis.'
Myrtle: There's no goddamn room for your squirrel food in here! It's going in the pantry!
Jarl: That's no good; the cats pee in there.
Myrtle: Not on the third shelf!!!
The sparring ended, and I was soon serenaded by Myrtle's grunts of efforts as she maneuvered herself in the next room over. These strained grunts sound like sighs of deep satisfaction, but are, in fact, a woman struggling to function beneath crippling loads of subcutaneous fat. Sigh.
The phone rings. Since it’s past normal bill collector calling hours, the call is answered. Per house rules, Myrtle picks up, listens, then hands the phone to Jarl. It’s Jason, their prodigal son. Judging from the excited stream of chatter, he (Jason) is clearly under the influence of either drugs or a decent bout of mania. Jarl listens for a moment, tells Jason he can't understand what he's saying and hands the phone to Myrtle, who talks to Jason for a minute before hanging up. "I didn't understand a fucking thing he said," Jarl announces. "Jarl!" cried Myrtle, "you be nice!!! All he wanted to say was how the wind today reminded him of how the gate by his room [now my room] used to creak. It made him miss his room, Jarl!” Myrtle added reproachfully. “He also said we should call it Noah's Ark."
How have I been here three months without mentioning Jarl’s bathing habits? The big man takes a shower perhaps once a week. The family actually recognized this accomplishment on one occasion, with Jarl accepting plaudits for bathing with good humor and a bit of pride.
Bizarre interaction of the day. Please note there are zero typos in the ensuing conversation:
Myrtle: Jarl, what do we have to drink?
Jarl: I can get you some Early Grey tea.
Myrtle: No, that stuff gives me rabies.
There's a book here, somewhere in all this chaos.
Jarl has developed a sustained interest in herbs. Myrtle cautions that he doesn't know what he's getting into, due to the unregulated nature of the industry. After Jarl’s recent comments on abortions via herb during a recent newscast (Day 86 for those counting), it occurs to me that Jarl might also be looking to kill himself.
Myrtle's cautions over the herb industry were suddenly derailed when she became distracted and scolded Jarl over his failure to throw out the aging, sweaty, and holey sweat pants he was wearing.
Even by Jarl’s low standards for morale, he’s been in a dip lately. Among his more depressing hobbies is Jarl's squirrel-feeding hobby. He’ll sit in the side yard and feed one or two squirrels huge amounts of food, literally until they can’t eat any more and their cheeks pouches are stuffed. It’s reminiscent of him bringing Myrtle an endless stream of snacks, as though he's practicing.
Lately, Jarl has intensified his feeding activities. Against my better judgment, I ask Jarl why he liked to feed the squirrels. “These are my only friends,” he replied. There are no jokes to be made on this subject – it’s just sad.
Jarl may or may not have congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart, be overmedicated, and/or have a wrist too large to accurately measure. But what Jarl does have, without a doubt, is a pair of sweatpants with a raggedy hole in the crotch that's roughly the size of Rhode Island. Jarl wears this pair of sweatpants every. single. day. They provided the same coverage as a pair of assless chaps. If not for a pair of somewhat-translucent tighty whiteys, Jarl could easily be arrested on his next trip to the grocery store.
Countless pleadings from every permanent resident of the house to replace or repair his elastic trousers have fallen on deaf ears. The big man is aware of the problem, yet he continues to sit with his legs splayed outward in what is either a passive aggressive show of defiance or old-man apathy towards nudity.
Normally, I say to each his own, but today a sweatpanted Jarl opened the door to two of Myrtle's clients (Myrtle runs a very small bookkeeping business; these may actually have been her only customers) while going commando underneath. I wasn’t there, but if the screaming argument that ensued was accurate, Jarl treated Myrtle’s guests to an impromptu tour of his twig and berries. Myrtle went ballistic and – pardon the pun – tore Jarl a new one. She threatened to divorce him if he didn’t change pants. Jarl's defense: he claimed he doesn't own another pair of pants.
While discussing the non-profit agency Jarl volunteers for, Myrtle mercilessly battered away the last vestige’s of her husband’s dignity. Jarl had been bragging about how much money the organization made for a non-profit organization. He said they employed a bunch of people in paying jobs. Myrtle then got on him for not getting any of their money.
“But they’re a non-profit corporation,” Jarl replied.
"Jarlis [Surname] is a non-profit corporation!!!" Myrtle thundered.
Here’s the best unintentionally sexual exchange between Jarl and Myrtle from the previous week:
Myrtle: Jarl, could you bring me some coffee?
Jarl: OK. [Does nothing for twenty minutes]
Myrtle: Jarl, I need some coffee! You kept me up All. Night. Long! And I need some caffeine to get going again. [emphasis hers]
Hopefully this was unintentional.
Next time: An enforcer comes looking for Jason and Jarl buys a chest freezer off Craigslist.
Read Part Eight
Where The Cats Pee
A multi-part story covering my time as a houseguest of the least stable family in America.