As I sit here, on my bed, we are having our carpet cleaned in the other room.
The carpet cleaner, a man we will refer to as CeeCee, knocked on our door a little past 9 a.m. He has the mustache of either an evil villain or a silent-movie star or both. It is precisely the type of bushy, curly mustache my 4-year-old daughter has been begging me to grow ever since seeing “Peter Pan” and falling in love with good ol’ Captain Hook.
“Mommies can’t grow mustaches,” I told her.
“Yes-huh,” she countered. “Grandma has.”
I’m just going to leave that one alone.
Once we set CeeCee up, my husband retired to his upstairs office, and I retired to the bedroom to get to work. Rather, I was supposed to get to work. Instead, I found myself grabbing my hand mirror, sitting down on my bed and examining my would-be Captain Hook mustache. A few years shy of 40 and my hair is rapidly turning gray. How long until the curlicue ‘stache makes its way into my life?
I was wondering whether hot wax or tweezers are in my near future, when a strange sound came from the other room. No, not the suction and rumble of a cleaning machine but rather something melodic — as if someone had turned on the radio and tuned in to a station just out of range. The music grumbled and screeched. It went silent and then came back extremely loud. The tune was clunky and warped. I considered going out to CeeCee and offering to him that he could listen to music on our smart speaker instead of whatever device he was using, but when I got to the door, I realized that it was... no radio!
CeeCee was singing. He was howling. He was humming. He was carpet cleaning and toe tapping. I opened my door just a tad and sat back down on my bed, where I still sit, listening to CeeCee sing.
“I ain’t gonna work no more, no more” morphed into a screeching rendition of “I’m Every Woman,” except he changed the lyrics to “I’m cleanin’ carpets.”
There have been some ditties about bullfrogs that I haven’t recognized. Of course, perhaps the originals were not actually about bullfrogs and CeeCee changed the lyrics — because there are not nearly enough bullfrog songs in the world. I grew up on folk music — including the works of Fred Small, who sang “Hot Frogs on the Loose,” a close cousin, perhaps, to the bullfrog song — and listening to the boisterous voice singing twangy tunes, with their made-up lyrics, has me all smiles. This man knows there are two other adults in this house with him, but he holds back not a decibel as he belts out his anthems. I love it. I guess I shouldn’t expect anything less from a man with such impressive facial hair.
The other night, my 7-year-old son was asking me about the trendy expression “Bloom where you’re planted.” He didn’t understand the meaning. I told him that neither do I.
To me, that expression sends all the wrong messages. It implies that you are stuck, rooted. It has always felt like a do-or-die. Bloom or don’t, but you ain’t goin’ nowhere. Not everything can bloom where it’s planted. A cactus can’t bloom in a swamp. A reed can’t bloom in a desert. Environment matters. Circumstances matter. You can’t just expect someone to bloom anywhere. I presented it to my son a little differently. I told him that I’m a fan of adventure, of trying new things, of being brave enough to seek happiness elsewhere when you can’t find it where you stand.
“Like the kids in ‘Peter Pan’?” he asked.
It may be time to switch up their movies.
But that’s for another day. Right now, I’m listening to CeeCee and wondering whether I’ve been a tad too dismissive of “Bloom where you’re planted.” Though I don’t agree with it, there’s something to be said for making the best of every situation, for finding pleasure and song where you stand. After all, it was another Disney film that taught my kids to whistle while they work.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids,” available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.