I’d never tell the other kids in the neighborhood of our favorite game—not because I was ashamed of it, but because it was sacred. Besides, if I did tell them of it, I’d undoubtedly be interrogated, then told our little game was illogical and stupid. I, for once, didn’t care how logical or practical or intelligent this was. It was love, and the best we knew how.
She’d bought all of the Alvin and the Chipmunks albums and played them while we cleaned the house. We were always cleaning the house. I never had the heart to tell her their shrieking voices made me feel like my eardrums were shattering and brain imploding. We’d sing along to their Christmas album, imitating their shrieks the best we could, “Christmas, Christmas time is here. Time for toys and time for cheer . . .”
She had a very special way of getting us to willingly engage in child labor. If it weren’t sing-alongs with the three rodent evangelists of consumerism, she would set the alarm on the microwave and say, “Ok, kids! Whoever finishes cleaning their special area of the house by the time the alarm sounds wins!” She’d make a trumpeting sound as if she were initiating a horse race, then exclaim, “And they’re off!” We would run around like mad, giggling, one with window cleaner and paper towels, one with wood polish and a dust rag, Mum with the vacuum, and we’d race to the finish.
Even though we'd caught onto her tricks, we never did complain. We wouldn’t actually win anything in particular other than a nice clean house for Mum’s friends to party in. It was job security; we took what we could get.
Excerpt from chapter fourteen | name of the game | Everything's Hunky Dory: A Memoir