Cleopatra was home from college over the Easter weekend. Temporarily on leave from the dungeons of academic sweat where she is able to join her sister Bathsheba, who as also been mistreated by the unfeeling, cruel and barbaric teachers that have very nearly torn the flesh away from their bones in an effort to force feed them an education.
At least that was the picture that was painted for me when I left work and started my three day weekend on Friday. It continued on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I was nearly driven to tears at the injustice of the shortness of their vacations from the black holes of learning.
But what it really meant to me was that both Cleopatra and Bathsheba were again under the same roof. My roof to be exact – for three days. Now let us talk about the real meaning of cruel and barbaric treatment.
I have coined a term for the times when both Cleopatra and Bathsheba are in the same house working in concert to separate me from such items as car keys, cash and sanity. This is a situation that I have come to refer to as “stereo stress.” The symptoms of stereo stress include (but are not limited to) excessive whining, occasional weeping, intestinal disorders, nervous tics, sleep deprivation, and slurred speech caused by over-reliance on Jack Daniels sour-mash-Valium-enriched-nerve-beverage.
I am not equipped to deal with Cleopatra and Bathsheba in tandem. Bathsheba, by herself, could give ulcers to a marble statue. I now had her mentor, her older and more wily sister in my home too.
I didn’t get much sleep on the Saturday before Easter. Cleopatra had the car and she arrived right on the curfew that Brunhilda and I had given, and I spent most of the night searching for a motive for this strange behavior. After a somewhat restless night, I woke up alone in bed from the clanging of pots and pans in the kitchen. I struggled to my feet and shuffled out to the kitchen to get the morning paper and my first cup of coffee. When I saw what was happening I turned around and headed back to bed.
There was Brunhilda and Cleopatra both happily working in the kitchen.
“Where are you going there, Prince Charming?” Brunhilda demanded.
“I am going back to bed. If I am going to hallucinate, I want to do it reclining on a mattress.” I said.
I will confess that this odd behavior was causing me to become paranoid. Brunhilda said that maybe she misses us. But I was not convinced. All kinds of things ran through my mind, “What have they done with the real Cleopatra? Could that movie about the ‘pod people’ really be true? What does she want and why am I being set up?”
The weekend continued to get strange. On Sunday evening Brunhilda and had to out. When we arrived back home that night, the dishes were done. I started to hum the theme to The Twilight Zone. Brunhilda was beginning to be annoyed at my behavior and paranoia.
“A tiger doesn’t change it’s spots overnight,” I said.
“Tigers don’t have spots, Einstein.”
Before the end of her weekend at home, Cleopatra assisted in Sunday morning brunch, helped with the dinner, and had the car parked in the garage on time after an evenings use. I had developed a nervous tic.
“Watch her! She is a sly one!” I kept saying, as Brunhilda became more and more irritated.
“Maybe it’s maturity, Doug.”
“Conspiracy you say? Yeah, that’s what I think too.”