On days such as these, Rocco’s mother wonders (no, not lonely as a cloud, which is wanders anyway) why she has to torture herself with Rocco’s room.
Rocco goes away every month for a week at TAFE. It’s a requirement of his apprenticeship, and probably dreamed up by the Department of Education and Training as respite for his parents. Not that they mind him still living at home (his parents, that is, not the Department, who probably couldn’t give a toss) – they don’t, because he’s a lovely lad – but Rocco’s mother worries a LOT. She worries a lot more when she services his room, which now happens only during TAFE week because when Rocco’s at home she doesn’t want to go near it. Or him. And she is well aware what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Rocco’s mother is all for strength.
It occurred to her this morning there are seven stages to work through – beginning, naturellement, with Shock. There is a massive shock when Rocco’s mother opens the door. She knew it was bad, of course, but it’s worse when she knows she’s going to have to deal with it. Will the vacuum cleaner be able to cope? Will she pass out from unexpected fumes and creeping bacteria? Why had she assumed troglodytes were extinct, when it appears one is dwelling in Stygian delight within the depths of an otherwise normal suburban abode? Shock is followed quickly by Guilt. What did she do to bring up such a pig? Maybe nothing, for surely this catastrophe stems only from his father’s genes?
Fear kicks in quickly. What the hell was THAT, gibbering in the darkness of a corner and scraping its taloned paw across the strings of a dusty guitar? Oh foul creature of the shadows, take your sticky jaws and cobwebbed wings and creep back beneath the pile of soiled clothing … there’s a dear! Rocco’s mother shuts the door and stands in the corridor for a while. Her heart is hammering and her mood is heavy. Depression sets like turgid jelly in the pit of her stomach. For the millionth zillionth time that week – nay, hour – she prays for a nice girl to rescue Rocco from himself. Alright – a nasty girl, even. One with a pulse will do. A trollop with a really vile attitude who has her own flat. One cannot afford to be picky when times are dire.
Being a woman of resilience and optimism, Rocco’s mother embraces Denial with gusto. Surely she had imagined what she’d seen on the other side of that door? It was a figment of her exhausted and overtired imagination. When she opens the door again, Rocco’s room will be all cool, blue walls and freshly tweaked counterpane. His books will be stacked neatly on his desk, his music equipment just so. The air will be redolent with lavender and myrrh. (Myrrh? Okay, that might have been overdoing things.) The air will probably be redolent with lavender and Lynx deodorant. The curtain will waft gently in the warm, summer air. Rocco’s mother braces herself and opens the door.
Anger. Yeah, bring it on! Course she’s bloody angry! What’s not to be angry about? Rocco is nearly 21. He’s damn lucky to have a free roof over his head and a ‘fridge piled lovingly with chocolate milk and chicken schnitzels! He’s lucky to find his bathroom stocked with acne products and a fresh pile of fragrant towels (scented, of course, with myrrh) which appears by magic each day, ready to be brutalised and plundered, then hurled into a corner of his room with soggy abandon. How dare he disrespect the hospitality in such a cavalier fashion? Rocco’s mother tries to remember where she stashed her uzi. Fortunately, her memory is shot.
Rocco’s mother surveys the apocalypse with Acceptance. There can, in the end, be nothing else. She gazes on her best cutlery, cemented into yoghurt pots. She sees mugs of solidified, fur-tinged hot chocolate. She is aware of the detritus of cup noodles, crisp bags and sweet wrappers. Globs of bubblegum on the rug. Filth-encrusted socks and shopping dockets and tab charts and guitar picks and surfing magazines. DVDs without their cases, cases without their DVDs. There is nothing to do but begin. Soonest started, soonest completed.
Rocco’s mother wanders (yes, just like a cloud this time) to the kitchen and makes a large glass of iced coffee. She hooks a bag of Kettle Chips out of the pantry, pops a lamington on a plate and finds her excellent book, of which she still has 50 pages to read. She settles her arse on the couch and doesn’t move for the next four hours. Okay, five hours.
She might be sitting there still …