“Do you know where my empty CD cases are?” I asked, hopefully, last night. Mrs. Ottawacker has been ‘organizing’, and things keep on disappearing.
“Under the front stairs,” she said.
So, I looked. They were. In a cardboard box. I have a CD jukebox, you see, which holds some 300 of them, so I load the jukebox and occasionally change them. The changing had sort of stopped though, what with the advent of iPods and iTunes &c. So it had been five or six years since I had changed the CDs. This is because I am a martyr to Ottawacker Jr.’s musical tastes, and can essentially never have my music on. Mrs. Ottawacker got to him first, and so he listens with delight to Akon and Christopher Cross and all the other appalling things lurking in the iPod in the kitchen. And Waterboys and Elvis Costello and decades of rock music sit silent, waiting, reproaching me for abandoning them. I was looking forward to doing it.
Did I mention that the CD boxes had been placed in a cardboard box? Under the stairs? Where it is damp? As I opened the first of the box, I was greeted by a sea of black mould covering the cases. I’m not ashamed to say it, I screamed.
“What is it? A mouse?” yelled Mrs. Ottawacker from the kitchen?
“No,” I said. “Worse. You’ve murdered my CDs.” (I find it helps to be melodramatic in situations like this, or the significance of the even gets lost. To some, a box of empty CD cases – without the booklets too, I must add – going mouldy might not seem that important, but we know better, don’t we?)
And so I spent the whole day in the back garden, taking each case out individually, spraying the box with some sort of biological warfare-grade napalm, taking out the back cover of the CD to check on the mould, cleaning that and then drying it in the scorching sun, occasionally going back into the house to sigh very loudly. All in all, I managed to get about 100 done, which means I have about 200-250 more to do.
There were some victims, of course. Margaret Urlich’s Second Nature went into the recycling bin, as did a couple of other cardboard covers of box sets. But it could have been much worse. I lovingly transported all the clean cases back into the back deck space, and sorted them in alphabetical order. I had just finished deciding what to do with the “Various Artists” category when Mrs. Ottawacker came back in.
“What are you going to do with those?” she asked, not at all in the voice of one who seemed contrite at her actions.
“I’ll just leave them here for a bit,” I said, “so they can air out a bit more.”
“You will not,” was the reply. “It looks terrible, and I am not going to eat in a room infested with black mould spores. Put them back under the stairs, there is plenty of room.”
I wasn’t quite sure I had heard properly at first, but by the time my voice had returned, she had marched out of the room and into the basement.
I’ll keep you apprised of what happens next.