A Cleanup in 3 Acts

18 Jun


Scene: The living room. Boy, 10-ish, being confronted about the state of his room.

Characters:  Messy Boy, Frustrated Mom

Mom: Your room is a disaster. Legos are all over the floor, and overflowing toxic waste fumes are coming from your closet which has apparently become the site of a laundry-hoarding cover-up of some kind.  Additionally, I see hidden behind your curtain a cup from Sonic with the top off, and I can see furry greenish-blue feathery fingers of mold creeping over the edge of the cup. They appear to be preparing to  get ready to grab and eat the dog.

Boy: And your point is?

Mom: This is in fact an environmental disaster. Your dad is unconscious in the hallway from the fumes coming from the room. Your sister has had to relocate to a backyard emergency shelter. The dogs and I are wearing gas masks.

Boy: And you want me to do what? I have tried putting more toys on top of the Legos in hopes they will get back in their original container. I have tried putting a laundry basket upside down over the offensive contaminants in the closet to stop the flow of toxic fumes. This “cap” strategy is capturing about half of the smell, but I am unable to stop it entirely.

Mom: I don’t care how you do it, I want this room cleaned up.

Boy: You do it. It’s your house. You are the one who wants it cleaned up. You have the resources. If I did it, it would take too much of my summer, and I would be actually losing fun.

Mom: Seriously, are you kidding me? You made the mess. You need to clean it up. Period.

Act 2

Scene: Backyard

Characters: Frustrated mom, long-suffering older sister

Sister: Why are we living in the backyard again?

Mom: Your brother’s attempts to clean his room have not been successful. Apparently the laundry basket cap melted from the toxicity. He’s reviewing strategies now, but may need to build a second room to be able to siphon off the mess from the first one.

Sister: Uh, I know the problem here.

Mom: Really? Please share.

Sister: You’re not getting mad enough.

Act 3

Scene: Kitchen table

Characters: Mom, Son, Congressman Joe Barton

Mom: I am not jacking around with this anymore. I’m tired of excuses. I’m looking for some ass to kick.

Son: (gasps in horror!) You said the A-word.

Mom: Yes, I’m sorry. But I need to express anger about this and can only do so using mild colloquial expletives.

Son: I see.

Mom: The deal is, you need to clean this crap up. No more excuses. Get in there with a trash bag, vacuum and the bucket of cleaning supplies and CLEAN IT UP. I don’t care how long it takes! I don’t care how hard it is! CLEAN. YOUR. ROOM.

Son: Will you be joining me in this effort?

Mom: (Screaming now) No! I did not make the mess. It is YOUR mess! You will clean it up now, or you will be grounded ALL SUMMER LONG! Is that clear? Is that enough anger for you?!!?!?!

Son: (*wails in dismay*) It’s NOT FAIR.

Mom: You know what’s not fair? We’re all living in the backyard. I had to take a shower under the hose while a perverted possum family watched with their beady black eyes. Clean the room, or face the consequences.

Son: (whining) But…


Mom: Hello? Congressman Joe Barton? Oh thank goodness. I need someone with your authority to talk some sense into this child. I’m putting you on speaker. Here’s my son.

(Hands phone to son with exasperated sigh.)

Son: Yes?

Congressman Barton: Child, I am ashamed of what happened in the kitchen today. I apologize.

Son: Huh?

Congressman Barton: Yes. It is a tragedy in the first proportion that you have been subjected to this cleaning shakedown. This parental tyranny sets a dangerous precedent for children across the country, even the world.

Mom: (Grabs phone) ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME, JOE BARTON???? This pig of a child has endangered the whole family. OSHA is even coming in to make sure the neighbors are safe. And you want to apologize to him?!?!?

Joe Barton: I’m sure you’re responsible somehow. I don’t know how they do it in Kenya, but here in America, we don’t make children clean up their own rooms.

Mom: The hell? I’ve never even been to Kenya. And, there’s nothing un-American about making kids clean their own messes.

Joe Barton: I need to see your birth certificate.

Mom: I’m hanging up now. Seriously. You need therapy.

Son: See? Congressman Joe Barton says I don’t have to clean my room.

Mom: Do you want to go live at his house, then?

Son: No, he sounds like a lunatic.

Mom: Then I suggest you get busy.

12 Responses to “A Cleanup in 3 Acts”

  1. Shari Biediger June 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Epilogue: Scene cuts to two teen-age girls and angry mother standing outside their jack-and-jill bathroom door arguing over who made the mess and who should clean it up. When girls warned they cannot venture to the mall until it’s clean, girls commence cleanup (“ewww, ewww, ewww …”), then hold palms out for compensation, uh, shopping money. (Repeat.)

  2. Kathy G June 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm #


  3. Denise June 19, 2010 at 9:27 am #


  4. RJ Flamingo June 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    LOL! Classic! And yet, sad. Are you accepting donations to rehabilitate the wildlife endangered and injured by the toxic emanations? Or are you just going to have his room declared a Superfund site?

  5. Matthew Egan June 19, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    I don’t even know what to say to that. My mouth is locked in this awkward open position, perhaps permanently. This may be the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

    I’m stoked you were able to get a Congressman to guest in one of your blogs! You know you’re ready going places when such prestigious persons want to take part!

  6. Catch the Kids June 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    My fourteen year old son is exactly the same. They can’t see or smell the mess. But sometimes I refuse to serve him dinner until he cleans. That hits a tender spot…

  7. James Taylor June 21, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Brilliant! Can’t wait to enjoy these times with my kids when they’re older. All I have to do now is wave the iPhone App Store at them, promising a new game, and they do my bidding with zeal.

  8. mom June 23, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    we need a serious wipedown here since the maid skipped afer mom moved. But we now know who not to ask.

  9. Jennifer June June 26, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Yeay!! After hours of web perusal somebody finally make me literally laugh out loud.

    Oh and the perverted possum family… please.

  10. faerieshadow June 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    That is hilarious, I love it!

  11. kim June 29, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    this is hilarious! bravo!

  12. ingrid June 29, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    The story’s very funny but the situation is serious and Joe’s a flippin’ idiot. 😦

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