It’s Risky Business
By Steve Carr
Kevin McCallister relished being left home alone to do his own thing—until burglars showed up. Even then he made the most of a bad situation. Tom Cruise’s character in Risky Business allowed things to get out of control after his parents left him to watch the house for a week. In the end, everything worked out for these young and creative protagonists—so what could go wrong when the master is left in charge of the family castle? Well, I’m no Tom Cruise, despite having played a leading role as Joseph in a 1969 church Christmas play. (By the way, I know I’m dating myself by using the above references. Look them up—it’ll be at least as interesting as watching cat videos online.)
My wife left for a week. She didn’t leave leave, she just went to help our daughter, the college graduate, move into her new apartment. She could’ve used my company, if not my help. I begged off. “I’ll use the quiet to sit and catch up on back issues of IDAHO magazine and even write a column,” I said.
Right! In forty years of marriage, I’m quite certain I’ve never had a week alone in my own home doing whatever I pleased. I threw caution in the plane with my wife and sent them both across the country. Time to sow those oats I failed to sow when my soil was more suitable for sowing.
I left the magazines (and anything that could be considered literature) in the living room, pulled the curtains and set up shop in the bedroom. Risky business, but I was due.
I ate nachos in bed and watched zombies, aliens, and movies full of car chases. The stereo speakers cranked to jet engine decibel levels. Then I turned to old sitcoms. No one suggested the volume was too high. No one saw me wipe the popcorn salt from my fingers on the bedsheet. I left the toilet seat up.
On the fourth day, I heard a lapping noise from the bathroom toilet and remembered the dog. On day six, I awoke in a pizza stupor and recalled something like, “And don’t forget to water my plants.”
“It can’t be that bad,” I mumbled aloud to no one. It seemed pretty humid inside.
My dilated pupils and I ventured outside to find a watering can and discover places I didn’t know existed. Someone had planted a garden. I found my way back to the kitchen. Despite having consumed only things I could eat with my hands, the sink was filled with dishes. A line of ants trailed from the garbage, disappearing somewhere behind a cabinet. I conjured up instructions about the garbage man and Wednesday mornings.
I threw open every drawer looking for something that would magically clean everything— or even better, a pair of ruby slippers. I needed help. Not your ordinary Brady Bunch Alice kind of maid. I’m talking the kind of cleaner a Sylvester Stallone character might call from a secure line to swoop in and erase all evidence of a crime. Blood, pizza sauce, dead people, dead flowers, it’s all the same: disinfect the whole house. She’s coming home tonight.
I never found the cleaning supplies but did find ruby slippers in the form of a mail-order catalog full of my bride’s favorite things. I sat down with the catalog and began preparing my defense.