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 I think that if you really pressed them on the issue, put them under the police lights and perhaps even resorted to Chinese water torture, my parents would have to admit that when it comes down to it, they donít really like me all that much. Sure, Iím nice to have around from time to time, if just to mow the lawn and visit the infirm neighbor so they donít have to, but on the priority list, Iím somewhere above dentist appointments and below laundry.

Please donít get me wrong; my parents and I get along magnificently. Like most kids, my relationship with Mom and Dad improved tenfold once I moved out of the house and went to college, when both parents and child can easily forget all of one anotherís shortcomings because they donít have to look at one anotherís goddamned face anymore.

Iím one of those increasingly few lucky kids whose parents have stayed together. My parents are wonderful people, respected and loved by their friends and family, pillars of the community, just good solid Midwestern folk. I love them and Iíd go to the ends of the earth for either one.

But apparently, the sentiment is not shared. As you know, because Iíve endlessly bombarded you with details during the last few months, I just went through the most stressful, freakish and exhaustive move Iíve ever experienced. Iím still reeling from the transition, from sweet Budweiser St. Louis - which appears to have switched from the home of beer to the home of the Rams since I left - to Gotham, home of urine-stained subways and five-dollar packs of cigarettes (repeat: five-dollar packs of cigarettes).

I donít really feel settled here yet, half because my personal life has been turned inside out and molested by red-maned boars since I arrived (donít you miss the days, by the way, when I openly discussed my personal life in this column? Yeah, I didnít think so), and half because, well, I donít have any shit here. My apartment, a stylish, wood-floor railroad apartment - railroad apartments, as I learned when I got here, are the ones where all the rooms (front room, kitchen, both bedrooms) are connected to one another, which means my roommate has to walk through my room to get to his - is still waiting for me to move in.

I have stacks of clothes still in trash bags, suitcases half-emptied, boxer shorts crammed in the corner, and, um, I think thereís a pillow around here somewhere. Iíve been here for more than a month now, and I have no dresser, no bookshelf, no desk, no bed. All that stuff is still at home, in Mattoon, sitting in my parentís home(s), wondering where the heck I am. Good question.

When I accepted the job in New York, one of the conditions was that The New York Times would pay for my move, but only up to $1,000. That eliminated the possibility of renting a moving van, so I just figured Iíd get myself and my clothes out here, and then my parents could just ship the rest of my belongings and save the receipts. Sounds simple enough. Of course, I didnít know Mom and Dad were going to pull a Kramer vs. Kramer and keep half my stuff in the breakup. Try as I might, I canít get them to send me anything. Is this because Mom caught me smoking last month?

I mean, I donít have a bed. Seriously. For the past month, Iíve been sleeping on the floor, with the roaches and the rats and the homeless people. Not to sound like some kind of pampered, privileged kid here, but having a mattress and a blanket had been a luxury I had admittedly become somewhat accustomed to. Iíve found myself sleeping on the couch a lot more recently, which would be fine if my roommate didnít have to get ready for work in the morning while a slobbish oaf of a man lies in his underwear in the front room. Plus, I watch a lot more TV when I sleep on the couch, especially now that Iíve discovered Channel 35 here in New York, which between the hours of 8 p.m. and about 6 a.m. seems to play nothing but soft-core porn commercials (where was this channel in junior high, when I desperately needed it?).

Iíve been storing my boxers and underwear on my floor, underneath the shirts I donít have hangers for and the used cat litter. I have a bunch of CDs and books sprinkled liberally around the room, desperately looking for a home. But I have none for them.

Why are my parents keeping all my stuff? When pressed on the issue, my mother just says that theyíre busy building the new house (you remember, the one 100 feet from the old one) and donít have time for their only son, the one cast adrift in New York , unable to get settled, sleeping on the goddamned floor.

Itís not getting any better anytime soon. I was talking with my mom the other day, pleading once again for them to either ship some stuff or just get out here already with a moving van in tow.

ďWell, weíll be out there pretty soon,Ē she reassured me. ďDonít worry.Ē

ďAny idea as to when, Mom?Ē

ďWell ... have you noticed any good churches in the area? Any close-by Catholic churches?Ē

ďWell, yeah, on the way to work, I pass some Catholic church, called something like Our Bleeding Mother With the Jagged Dagger Through Her Skull, some kind of morbid Catholic name like that. Why?Ē

ďI was thinking that might be a good time to come. Maybe Easter. Could you swing it then? You open that weekend?Ē

There are certain times when I look forward to the day that my parents are old, weak and helpless. Then I can push their wheelchairs out into traffic. Oh, Iíll get out there to save them ... eventually.



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