Small Talk: The boys in the attic


The attic. In song and story it is the exotic location of many mysteries, the discovery of a treasured heritage or the icy home of the poor unloved orphan.

And then there is our attic.

It’s not mysterious and certainly not valuable, but for years it has been called exotic.

I searched for the definition of exotic – “From another part of the world. Surprisingly unusual. Yes, that almost rings true.

When we made the first visit to our current home, the owner happily whispered, “And here is the attic!” I finished it myself.

One glance at the lousy book, and it was quite clear. He had created it, sacrificing my walk-in closet, to make room for stairs to the area for his delinquent teenage son and a dog.

The steep stairs creaked, there was only one electrical outlet, no ventilation or heating or chips.

Well, I thought, it’s interesting, but it’s unlikely to be of much use. My children were 3 and 4 years old and I am an unpredictable woman.

Before I know it it has become a playroom, but for the day only. Every year I would suggest they have their slumber parties up there, and every year they would both look at me like I suggested they sleep in the morgue.

And then they hit their teenage years. The attic was equipped with a television, a good set of video games and a DVD player.

Over the next two years, a group of teenagers were arguing over the limited number of air mattresses, futons, and sofa cushions we had dragged up there to make their sleepovers a bit comfy. There was never enough for everyone.

And then we saw it. Near the high school dumpster was a tattered and abandoned pole vault mat.

We happily dragged it back to our house behind the station wagon, and its thick interior foam quickly covered the attic from wall to wall.

Next are the black lights, posters, hubcaps, silly signs, bead curtains, and lava lamps. It was brand new to them, but it looked like every college kid’s bedroom I knew in the ’60s.

It was, they assured me, quite perfect. They could eat, drink, wrestle, laugh, watch movies and sleep where they fell.

About once a month, I shoveled it, changed the sheets and vacuumed, trying not to dwell on what had slipped under the moss.

The wonderful foam finally reached a critical stage of overuse and was thrown away. I still miss it.

My husband thought he might find me up there one day, chatting to himself and sculpting the moss into 1 by 3 foot squares.

If it was still on duty, you might well find me lying on the soft surface, surrounded by empty candy boxes, watching reruns of “Law and Order”.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer with a boring and overworked attic now. Contact her at [email protected].


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