I took the Hotness Tour yesterday. Run by the local bus service in cooperation with the Devonshire Council of Culture and Ethics, the Hotness Tour is a £4.99 trip into the arms of a sexy local lad who apparently desires nothing more than to spend his Saturdays with me, on the beach of a small English seaside town, people-watching and eating biscuits.
Had I known about the Hotness Tour three months ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave the US. I never found anything like it over there.
Today I’m writing and drinking fennel tea while Sugarland plays from the kitchen. My host family is spending the weekend with the kids’ grandparents about six hours away, and will not return until late tonight. I admit that the place lacks spunk, magic, and yes, even color without the little carpet mice running around. As angry as I may get when one decides to pull her pants down and stand literally leg to leg with her sister on the toilet, urging her to hurry up so she can use it (when there are three other toilets in the house) I do believe they are the cutest muffinheads in England.
They were startled the other day when I called them muffinheads, until I elaborated, “You’re a blueberry muffin, and you’re a bran muffin,” all the while thinking, what kinds of muffins do they have over here? One of them spared my thinking of a third by saying, “I’m a fairycake muffin!”
“Yes,” I blinked, remembering a recent blog I’d written. “You are.”
Even their debates, exasperating at the time, wear well in retrospect. They argue over who climbs onto the slide to help me take the laundry down from the line. They argue over who sits in my lap or turn the pages while we read, book after book, until the stack is gone. They argue over which cup they want their “juicy” in. I don’t know who instructed them to add “y” to every word in order to devastate my cute-o-meter, but they do: juicy, milky, sweeties, flippety-flops.
They are noisy. They can turn the living room upside-down faster than a giant lifting the house up from its foundation. They are small, about level with the tops of my legs, which means that if one asks for “a carry,” I can still oblige. They are dressed, if left to their own devices, in ballerina dresses, long summer skirts, sweatshirts put on backwards, hair clips twisting their hair in knots atop their heads, all the result of their mantra, “I can do it myself!”
At eight-thirty in the morning on a school day, admittedly, this mantra causes some delays, especially when their three year old brains need about four hours to decide on a shirt, put on their socks, or choose a jumper.
They love hearing stories like “How I got lost on my way to the Bristol train station,” or “What happened when my cousin’s dog bit my brother,” and insisted on viewing every photo on my laptop taken during the trip my mom and brother took across the country last spring. They always ask for names and relationships of people in photos and stories, over and over, so imagine my surprise when one of the twins volunteered my brother’s name the other day without asking. They also already remember that I wear glasses, of great fascination to them, “just like your dad.”
This is not to say I spend my working hours googly-faced over their enchanting antics. I spend my working hours maintaining composure while the four year old runs from the dining table, for the fifty-third time, with a half-eaten crumpet and a laugh, desperate for me to chase her. I spend my working hours closing the back door on the dog so he doesn’t chew through another pair of shoes, sorting out whose fault it is that one of the twins is sobbing, monitoring one’s toilet visit upon request while the other one screams from downstairs that I come with her while she changes her socks.
You can imagine how dull the house is without them.
This past week, I made a new friend, visited a new town, took new trains, found a new online solution to writing after my laptop cord went pfft! and I had to use my boss’s computer, heard from an old friend I haven’t talked to in years, was treated kindly by the gentlemen at the petrol station when I topped up my mobile phone on the wrong network and had to exchange the credit, saw and enjoyed Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in the Dartington Hall Trust “Barn Cinema,” had the best hamburger I’ve eaten in years, was made weak-kneed by Mr. Hotness, and caught a cold.
What will next week bring?