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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A few years ago my friend Emily walked out into her back yard one morning and discovered a dead body floating in her pool.
" Actually, he wasn't floating," she said, "He'd already sunk to the bottom when I found him."
After breaking into their shed to steal her bike and an extension cord, somewhere between taking a break to smoke some crack and heading home, he'd become tangled in the cord and fallen into the pool, where he drowned. The crack pipe had also fallen in, and like him, sunk to the bottom of the pool.

She bragged about this story yesterday when I was telling her about how boring it is to look at vacant houses, one after another, with nothing exciting to separate one from the next. How I long to discover a crime scene when the realtor opens the door, maybe a hastily assembled meth lab or an anarchy sign drawn in blood on the kitchen wall. It happens. If you watch Law and Order then it happens all the time. Why not to me? Why not to the one person who would appreciate it the most? Life is so unfair.

We did stumble upon a family of migrant workers living in the sun porch attached to the weirdest, most unusual house we saw. As our realtor Luke pushed the door open, the pungent smell of fried shrimp burning our noses,we were treated to the sight of a large man in boxers sprawled on a bare mattress in front of a television set.

" Shit, this house was supposed to be vacant," Luke raised his eyebrows at us. "There are people here."

Another smaller man hurried over to us and told Jeff in Spanish that he would give us the tour. Jeff is fluent. I am not, but I can usually decipher most of what's being said.

"Here is where the possum came in and peed on the floor." The little man pointed to a stain the size of a watermelon on the carpet. We followed him outside.

"Here is where I shower." He waved proudly at a spigot coming out of the wall."It's good. The rats don't bother me."

" Estoy Beuno!" I shouted.

" Here is where I take care of the pool." He gestured towards the black water. I thought then that maybe my time had come, maybe today would be the day I too would see a dead body. Here is where my hermano fell into the pool, he would say.


"We have to buy this house!" I grabbed Jeff's arm. Luke the Realtor raised his eyebrows in pity for my husband.

"Are you crazy? Did you see the cracks running through the walls? The back half of the house has cracked off the foundation."

"It has so much personality! It has a pool! People would come see us all the time! We'd be the new JMart and Debbie!"

"It has possums than run in the house and piss gallons on the floor!"

"I love possums! I'm so bored all day! I'm so lonely! Maybe Juan's family would stay and teach me Spanish. We could write it into the contract. I love this house!"

"What is wrong with you?" They stare at me for a minute, veto my pleas and we leave.

The next day I decided to drive around and visit our houses again. I stopped at a convenience store to get a drink and saw a colorful array of tea in bottles labeled "Kombucha". My friend Carli had raved a few weeks before about the refreshing nature of Kombucha. Like lemonade, she said. Delicious, she said.
And it did look enticing, a rainbow of chilled glass bottles lined up for me to choose from. I remembered something, deep in the back of my subconscious, something disturbing about Kombucha, but I couldn't place it so I picked up the Raspberry and bought it. How bad could Raspberry be? It's pink.
Because it said "tea" which means-to me at least-uncarbonated I shook it as I buckled my seat belt. When I unscrewed the lid a few minutes later during a left turn it exploded, spraying my entire body with a foul pink fizz. Even as I frantically screwed the cap back on the bottle continued to spew a burning acid of liquid all over the exposed quicks of my nails, which I'd chewed the day before out of anxiety over this house business.
"Burns!" I shrieked. "Komucha!" I cursed, its rank odor filling my car. It was then that I remembered Kombucha is a fermented drink. Unlike delicious wine and nutritious kefir, who hide the smell and taste of their moldy origins, Kombucha proudly displays its rotten nature. How could something so beautiful be so evil? The bottle mocked me from the passenger seat, it's symmetrical Yoga design winking like a thrid eye. Gotcha! it said.
"Fuck you Kombucha." Since I couldn't reasonably get angry at a bottle of juice, I did what any woman would do and left a vicious message for my husband about something unrelated on his work phone and turned around to go home. I thought of going to see Juan and the rats anyway but decided instead to go home and look up Kombucha. This is what I found.

Human beings are not supposed to ingest mold! Yes, I know you just love blue cheese. There is something wrong with you, the French, and my friend who thinks moldy tea is "refreshing".
I will reveal something now, something that should probably remain private. Anyone who enters my house knows that i am not an organised person, but I am actually not even a clean person. I struggle every day to maintain the common rooms of my house to a level of order just high enough to keep my daughter from writing a terrible memoir someday about growing up in a filthy house. In my art room, the room that is all mine to destroy, a different set of rules applies. Glasses of juice or milk, cups of coffee, they go in and they don't go out. They stay hidden for months, becoming invisible to my eye as I concentrate on painting or sewing, until their smell alerts me to their presence. When I finally notice them they have seperated into multicolored layers of varying textures. Usually a broad swath of clearish liquid supports a floating cake of more solid matter, decorated with a crown of grey or black mold, possibly white mold with grey polka dots.

In the past I have had to throw away the glass in secret so Jeff doesn't have something else to harangue me about ( I loved that glass! What is wrong with you!)

Now I have a business plan. I will bottle it, call it "Kombucha" and sell it for 4.00 a bottle. Hippies all over the world will find it refreshing, and I will finally have my own money to buy the house I want. Juan, the rats, the possum and I will be bottling our delicious beverage out of the pool. If I wake up to find something floating in it someday, no will will be able to tell if it's the dead body of a crackhead or some energizing, aura cleansing cake of Kombucha mushroom.