my redneck present.

Before Josh moved in with me, he bought a secretary from the North Carolina State Surplus to use as a bureau. It was massive and massively heavy, because it was made of particle board. There were two drawers, plus a top compartment that opened out, where the frontpiece could be used as a writing surface. One of the joints was a little busted, but otherwise it was solid. Josh was very attached to this completely ordinary piece of furniture, but I tend not to question his strange attachments, since he is strangely attached to me.

I did not care for this particular piece of furniture, and he really had no need for it once we moved into the house. It was too heavy to go up the stairs. We shoved it in a corner. I occasionally said something about taking it to the thrift store, but without a specific need for the space it was taking up, I didn't have a good reason to get rid of it other than I just didn't like it.

One day, I came home, and the secretary was gone. However, I did not celebrate, because it had been replaced by an electric organ. Actually, the organ itself was in another room. The secretary was displaced by just one of the two enormous speakers.

Josh was too much in the throes of his electric organ excitement to do much of anything, including find a new home for the secretary. He did not take advantage of the three men he'd brought in to move the organ to move the secretary to the thrift store. The secretary ended up on the back porch. Another thing he neglected to do in his excitement: ask me if I wanted an electric organ in my house.

I yelled a lot of things that day, but they were all about the organ. The next day, I yelled something about how the porch is not an appropriate place for a secretary. The day after that, I was too hoarse to yell anymore, so we just made up.

The secretary sat on the porch. It was convenient for putting our beers on when we grilled out. It was also dearly loved by the local wildlife. Apparently, there is a species of millipede that loves nothing more than wet particle board for living in. The secretary got wet with each rain and the boards swelled up a little more. The millipedes moved in. When it rained, they would come out and wriggle, and once you noticed one, you saw that there were actually seven thousand or so. It was pretty gross. After the apocalypse, when the roofs are all ripped off and the particle board furniture of the world is left open to the elements, that millipede is going to do just fine.

I don't know how many pieces of furniture you need outdoors to be officially white trash. I hated it, but got used to it enough to not grumble about it very often. The few people that we ever had over already knew the kind of people we were. I myself grew up with a stove in the yard, until the fateful day that it fell backwards (or was it pushed???) into the woods, where it went wild.

But then last fall, our church asked for signups for a program called "Foyer," where a group of four couples rotate having dinner at each other's houses. I was moderately interested, as it sounded like a good way to meet people. But I thought of all the things that would need to happen at our house before it was ready for company. Sure, my family could come over, and we could have friends over, especially the ones still living in crummy apartments. But I was not going to allow church people, practically strangers, to come over and see how we lived.

It wasn't just the secretary. It was also the overgrown front yard, where there is no grass, but plenty of briars and upstart poplar trees. It was the siding on the back of the house that we had replaced, but still hadn't repainted to match the rest of the wall. It was also the collection of motor oil in milk jugs and plastic juice bottles sitting by the driveway. We spent years living in the house without maintaining the outside of it. Maybe we are white trash, or maybe we are just children masquerading at being grown-ups.

Josh was not interested in Foyer, until someone directly asked him to do it, and then suddenly, he transformed into that guy at church who can't say no to anything. He lobbied hard to sign up that very day, but I pointed out all the things that added up to a picture of a redneck household. I said we could take care of those things in the next few months, and then sign up the next time they started up a new Foyer. He saw the wisdom in this, and promised to take care of everything. I wrote the list of tasks on the whiteboard.

One day, I came home, and he told me he had taken care of the secretary. Praise be! And then I saw the secretary, in pieces, in the backyard next to last year's Christmas tree. But...right, but you just...that is obviously just...ARGH.

We did not sign up for Foyer the next time. Or the time after that. Nor the time after that. In his defense, he did cut down the saplings in the front yard. It looked a lot better, like someone lives here even.

However, we are hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year. This week. Which means that forty or so people are about to descend upon our house. While the thing they have in common is the kind of past with a stove in the yard, many of them are children. I don't know much about children, but I do know to assume that they will get into everything. EVERYTHING. The secretary and the oil cans would just have to go.

Yesterday, we lined the trunk of the car with trash bags and loaded up the various pieces of the secretary. It took a bit of work to find them all. It's fall, you know, and the millipedes aren't the only things that had begun reclaiming the secretary. It had just about gone native. I can sorta see his logic. His problem was that the drawers would not bust apart. So while the individual boards had been disintegrating quietly underneath the leaves, the drawers still stood tall. EITHER WAY, IT IS NOT AN APPROPRIATE WAY TO DISPOSE OF A SECRETARY, JOSHUA. We also loaded up the oil cans, and in doing so, I found some large pieces of broken glass. Good googily moogily, we were bigger rednecks than I even knew.

But it's gone now. We are only rednecks on the inside again. It's like a fresh start. Let's not screw it up this time.

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