Post- and pre-retirement factions are scrabbling to establish boundaries, as tensions escalate around the homestead.
Let the record show that Val does not demand that working man Hick do housework. She has always done it (though impolite Hick might snort at that statement) even though working a full-time job herself, one which entailed more hours than Hick's illustrious career, though paying only half as much. Throw in the yeoman's share of the care and feeding of Thevictorian young 'uns, and all that "breathe in, breathe out" coaching to keep Hick alive, and the indelible record shows that Val has contributed her portion of bailing in keeping Thevictorian household afloat.
What Val DOES demand is that Hick meander through daily life as an adult. Not as a contentious toddler, not as a self-righteous tween, not as a surly teenager, not as a carefree frat boy. An adult. Without Mama Val to follow him, wiping his nose (or lower regions).
The kitchen is Val's domain. Hick does not have to sweep the floor, even though he tracks it up daily. He does not have to clean out Frig II, nor wash the dishes (by HAND, have you heard?), nor wipe the counters, nor buy the groceries with which we stock Frig II. Hick is, however, expected to follow the established routines of Val's domain. He has not yet (in 24-and-a-half years) mastered the art of placing paper plates and flat trash in the wastebasket along the side, but insists on laying such materials horizontal, thus taking up maximum room and thus thumbing his nose at the environment. But Val is willing to wave the white flag in this battle.
Val will NOT, however, stand by and let Hick employ the same tactics inside Frig II.
Frig II is not the place for a single egg to be balanced in a foam bowl, tipping to and fro every time an item is placed or removed. Like Val's precious 44 oz Diet Coke, for example, put inside for safekeeping while she put away groceries and boiled a dozen eggs (STOREBOUGHT!) and baked some boneless skinless chicken breasts.
AND Frig II is not the place for Hick to stuff a giant pizza box after eating leftovers for his lunch while Val was in town shopping, a giant pizza box with only two slices and three small breadsticks remaining.
Yes. That is a GIANT pizza box. And Hick even left the foil wrapping of the tiny chicken wings that came as part of the meal deal. No wings, mind you, all gone last night, Val having consumed 2 of 10.
Val's cannon-ball volley consisted of a single question: "Why did you put that whole box back in for just 2 pieces of pizza?"
Hick responded with a shotgun blast, a method of scattering blame so as to leave himself unscathed.
"I don't know why you make such a big deal."
"I couldn't put away the pork steaks and bratwursts and ribeyes that I bought until I cleared out that shelf that was taken up by the pizza box."
"Oh, come on. That took 2 minutes."
"Uh huh. So why didn't YOU take those two minutes to get rid of the box?"
"I thought you might want the pizza."
"That's why you wrap it in foil, which takes up a lot less room than a whole box."
"AND what's with the single egg in a bowl?"
"I just put it there Thursday before The Pony and I left for Oklahoma, because I didn't take time to walk it all the way over to the BARn to put it with the rest."
"There was a carton on the bottom shelf, with six open spaces."
Hick got up off the couch, stomped into the kitchen, yanked open Frig II's door, grasped the small greenish egg, TOSSED THE FOAM BOWL THAT COULD HAVE BEEN RE-USED INTO THE WASTEBASKET (all horizontal) and stalked out the door in a huff.
With that, Val won the Battle of One-Egg Pizza Box, as Hick turned tail and ran outside to mope around the yard with the chicken-feed-stealing six-pack of trememdous-upper-body-strength squirrels.
Let the record show that Val would NEVER entertain the notion of wandering around the grounds sipping 44 oz Diet Coke, and dropping her foam cup wherever the mood struck. No. Because even though the grounds are Hick's domain for mowing, Val is an adult, and knows that such an act would be inconsiderate, requiring Hick to pick up her trash before chopping it to smithereens and disbursing it across the yard.
Hick has some maturing to do before he retires.