When Schotts accepted a job offer in New York City right after college, I doubt he ever imagined he'd end up living in an attic in suburban New Jersey. Likewise, when D. told me he'd hired his intern from the previous summer to a full time position, it never occurred to me that I would have yet another boy living in my house.
Straight from Ohio and 22 years old, Schotts struggled with finding an affordable apartment in the city. NYC real estate is a different animal than most other places and can be difficult to navigate even for experienced New Yorkers. After two unsuccessful apartment hunting weekends, and with his work start date rapidly approaching, Schotts found himself without a place to hang his hat.
"He could just stay with us until he finds a place," D. suggested.
"Sure, we have room." I was being magnanimous without actually believing anyone would be moving in with us.
A few days and several phone calls later, D. informed me that Schotts was moving into our attic, just until he could find a place in the city.
"Uh, okay. Sure. Sooo, how long do you think that will take? Like, two, three days? A week?"
"Probably," D. was optimistic, "a couple of weeks, tops."
Schotts arrived in our living room from Ohio, having never met the family he was about to move in with. Initially, everyone was on best behavior, trying to be polite and not scare the new guy. But it didn't take long before Peanut was jumping on Schotts, demanding to be tickled and nearly kneeing him in the nuts. He was a good sport, tolerating far more than D. or I would have put up with and the boys warmed up to him quickly. He made a real effort to help out around the house and not be a burden. He cleaned up dishes after every meal, and helped out with yard work and painting. Having him around became like having another son in the house for me (a son who I had when I was eight years old), and the boys enjoyed having a "big brother" in the house who they could pummel with impunity.
Not everything was peachy keen. D. and I ended up with frequent stomach aches from holding our farts in. Schotts started using the creepy basement bathroom for fear that someone would barge in on him if he pooped upstairs ( a legitimate concern). Peanut did actually walk into the bathroom one morning while Schotts was showering. He went pee and then wandered out, leaving the bathroom door wide open. But he was considerate enough to not flush the toilet. And then there was the incident where D. and I thought we could sneak away for a few minutes on a quiet Sunday afternoon. We were in our bedroom with the door shut, when Peanut marched in unannounced.
"Get out!" D. and I shouted in unison.
From the top of the stairs, Peanut yelled down to Moon and Schotts:
"Ah, do NOT go in there! Mom and Dad are naked!"
Schotts also became a drinking buddy for D. I was still pregnant while he lived here, so there was no boozing for me. Schotts saved D. from having to drink alone. I would crash around ten on a Saturday night (or a Tuesday night....or Thursday....or Wednesday), and when I got up in the morning, D. and Schotts would be bleary eyed, the kitchen counter littered with empty beer bottles. Bottle King made a lot of money while Schotts lived here, and I think the man who picks up the recycling was starting to get pissed at the amount of glass we were putting out every other week. It was like a frat house for two, but without the chicks or hazing.
On the few occasions when I was able to stay up after the kids went to sleep, Schotts and I found common ground in literature (I read it, he wanted to some day) and snacks. Any time I had a crazy pregnant craving, there was a pretty good chance that Schotts could be convinced of the need for a trip to the store. One Saturday night, after downing several beers, Schotts agreed that we needed to take a drive to McDonald's. After ordering burgers and fries...and a hot fudge sundae...and a dozen chocolate chip cookies, we sat in the car waiting for what seemed like ages for our food to be ready.
"What is taking so long for your sundae?" Schotts wondered. "They're pre-made, they should have just handed it to you."
"They're pre-made?" I questioned, incredulous.
"Yeah. They're pre-made."
"They pre-make the HOT FUDGE sundaes?" I was starting to laugh.
"Yes. They do," he insisted.
At this point, I was laughing so hard I had to cross my legs to keep from peeing.
"You are really drunk. Do you even understand the stupidity of what you're saying right now?"
"What? They pre-make the sundaes."
I was crying and wheezing with laughter.
"Schotts. It's ice cream. Cold ice cream. With HOT fudge. They pre-make the hot fudge sundaes? Really?"
The cashier opened the window and handed me my sundae.
"Touch the fudge." Schotts was dead serious.
I opened my sundae and touched the fudge. It was cold and rock hard.
"Huh. That's not hot at all. I guess the sundaes are pre-made."
"Don't ever question my knowledge of McDonald's products." He had earned my respect, at least as it pertained to fast food.
All told, I think Schotts ended up living in our attic for three weeks before moving to his new place in the city. He's been back to visit a couple of times, getting a dose of family life and some free beer. He is a nice, thoroughly MidWestern guy. Polite and kind-hearted, loyal to his high school sweetheart, even though she's in grad school in Ohio, it is clear that his parents raised him well. Having him live here was an interesting experience for me, giving me a glimpse of what it might be like to have a grown son. I can only hope that my boys turn out to be good guys like Schotts.
But less drunk.