It’s nerve-​​wracking to think of it; you’re open­ing your home to a state-​​licensed inspec­tor whose job it is to basi­cally see you and look on where you live, how you live, and pass judg­ment on all of it.

I spent the day off work final­iz­ing things. I needed a secure place for tox­ics such as bleach, anti­his­t­a­mines and so on; and I needed work­ing smoke detec­tors in every bed­room and a CO detec­tor some­where (since the house is gas-​​heated, has a gas water heater and a gas stove), and a 2A10BC fire extin­guisher, plus sur­pris­ing lit­tle add-​​ons such as non­skid tracks in the shower or bath.

So I final­ized. I’d done the rest, tak­ing extra cir­cuit load from wall out­lets, putting my drink­ing alco­hol into inac­ces­si­ble shelves and so on — but still, the worry was pal­pa­bly there. As I removed the Clorox from my bath­room floor and put it into the bot­tom drawer of a lock­ing file cab­i­net — bought just for the pur­pose — I noticed a har­vest­man spi­der rest­ing in its web in the for­got­ten laundry/​bathroom corner.

I blew on it just to check and it moved; it was alive.

Well, I left it. (It’s not that I love spi­ders, though I have had a few pet taran­tu­las; but it wasn’t caus­ing harm, it was doing its arach­nid thing, and I didn’t and do not see it as a threat to anything.)

The appoint­ment began early; my con­tact called to say she was run­ning ahead of sched­ule. I told her I was ready; I was, as well as I could be. Spiders (well, one) and all.

Her assess­ment was, and I quote, that I “passed with fly­ing colors”.

I think I was a lit­tle sur­prised. Not because I live in filthy hovel, but because this home is absolutely not going to be on the cover of any kind of mag­a­zine in the fore­see­able future, par­tic­u­larly titles such as Clutter-​​Free Monthly or Spotlessly Sterile Times or espe­cially Shit on Every Horizontal Surface Removed Quarterly.

But I think I under­stand. I think I know why the assess­ment process is as it is. The check­list is easy to man­age and largely com­mon sense (some­thing, I think, which is egre­gio­suly lack­ing in too many cases); I think it’s more like a backup necessity.

I think you pass — or not — on the very first impression.

When you walk into my home you see chaos in some ways. I have racks of dusty DVDs and books every­where; I have a pile of shit on the cof­fee table, stacks of papers and things to be dealt with and books to be read; in my bed­room are about 1000 or so more books and in Yoshi’s bur­geon­ing space there’s still work to be done.

The inspec­tion, though, isn’t about white-​​glove work on all the sur­faces — good, because I would not have passed on that — nor is it on the pres­ence of a few drops of spat­ter on the toi­let rim (also good, though I can say with cer­tainty my bath­room is extremely well kept). I think those require­ments are there to help the state work­ers back up their issues, if they have any; but I think if they walk into a house they can tell, almost instantly, if it’s a good — or at least tol­er­a­ble — place for a child to live in.

Does the fridge reek when the temp probe is put in it to con­firn it’s kept at 35 or so degrees? Are there wires run­ning all over that can be tripped on? Are there beer signs on every wall and art done up of limbs and bod­ies and gore? Is there a life-​​sized effigy of Michael Jackson in one cor­ner with pic­tures of boys and girls placed rev­er­ently about it?

In short, does this house look damn dan­ger­ous in any inten­tifibale way at all?

My space is a bit clut­tered but not hugely in dis­ar­ray. It’s not spot­less but it doesn’t stink. It’s not full of porn or dan­ger­ous weapons. It’s just a place where I live, and it’s a place where most rea­son­able humans could live as well (assum­ing they had a predilec­tion for tea, Talking Heads and Kurosawa movies).

I think the paper­work helps iden­tify threats, but I think it might also serve as a way of putting for­mal protest to the idea of, I don’t believe this per­son should ever have a child alone with him, not even for one moment.

You know, I sus­pected that was the case from the begin­ning; but I was still grat­i­fied to know I’d made the cut.

Because, you see, thrilled and relieved as I am, I think this is really going to hap­pen. I am begin­ning to think I really am going to be a dad, and I’m exhil­er­ated and ter­ri­fied at what that means.

Next step: Priming up Yoshi’s room.

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