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Smell the Coffee: A head of the game

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The way I figure it, what I did with the body was kind of my due. Payment for the days of commotion and dirty dishes and mountains of laundry. And mostly, for having been eaten out of house and home by teen locusts.

This particular swarm that descended last weekend happens to be adorable as all get-out. They're creative and interesting and colorful (especially their hair). And they weren't totally heartless. I mean, they did leave me a meatball. A meatball.

Singular.

It was still frozen.

Empty ice trays are one thing, but try finding solace for an empty belly after 15-year-olds have ravaged your cabinets and fridge. It had reached a point where the cats were nervously guarding their Chow.

The instant-gratification foods had been the first to go. Empty cereal boxes littered the counter, toppled over frozen pizza boxes and Pop-Tarts cartons. One section of the kitchen looked like the Ramen graveyard, that fabled land where torn, empty packets go when they feel the end is near.

The scene on another counter was grisly. It appeared they'd slaughtered something crispy. There were far too many crumbs for it to have been anything less than a Doughboy Sacrifice.

Truth be told, though, I love the commotion of lots of kids in the house. I like the chatter and the laughter. And the opportunity to provide therapists with clients.

On Monday, the pack of girls who had been staying at my house talked me into driving them to a movie. It was after work and I had already changed into my evening attire, which Celeste calls "Appalachian lingerie" -- paint-splattered sweat pants, sports bra, flannel shirt worn so thin you could read through the fabric if it weren't also so ragged the strings would get in the way. Considering that all I planned to do was drive and drop off, I completed the ensemble with somewhat formal black work shoes, since they were right by the door.

The girls waited until I was pulling up to the curb outside the theater to inform me that the scary movie they wanted to see required an adult to purchase the ticket.

"Dressed like this?" I said.

"You look fine," Celeste said. "Quirky."

What I looked like was a street person with stolen footwear.

The woman at the counter read my name off my debit card, cocked her head a little to the side and then said, "You're that lady from the paper."

"It's a common name," I said.

"You spell it the same way," she said.

The girls were amused. Me? Not so much. I left them and returned home to my kitchen wasteland, and from there, to the bathroom, where I stumbled over a mountain of laundry.

(Question: How many towels does a teenage girl need when she showers? Answer: All of them.)

Now, these are good kids. Generally speaking, they sort of clean as they go. (Heavy emphasis on "sort of.") This time, however, the place was a wreck.

So a little score-settling seemed in order.

That they were at a scary movie made it easy.

I quickly assembled a lightweight body. Black hoodie, Styrofoam wig head. Attached it to a tightly strung cord hung at shoulder height between the back of the bedroom door and the wall, with another cord attached to the back of the hoodie head that made it jerk up and back when the door was shut.

When the door was shut -- and I knew they'd be shutting and locking the door -- the body would lurch forward.

For greater effect, I unscrewed the overhead bulbs so only the nightstand lights lit the room.

And then I waited.

And it was beautiful.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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