It’s Father’s Day, and my daughter sent her dad a pair of fish slippers. Thankfully my husband’s sense of humor got passed down to our kids.
Category: Home Life Page 1 of 3
This conversation is pretty much verbatim how I abused my poor husband when we met friends for a late dinner out of town. I was tired and he wasn’t getting me back to the motel quick enough. We had our little dog in the car with us. I’ve written it like a movie script – it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s talking (I’m the spiteful nag).
You missed the exit.
No, I think it’s this next one.
Whew! Just got home from a week’s vacation and I’m absolutely worn out. I’m not sure whether we’re cheap and want to get our “money’s worth” out of a vacation, or we’re afraid that we’ll strangle each other if we don’t schedule up every second with body-draining activity. Our family vacations are like running a marathon: get an early start, stay on the move all day, then collapse into bed at night in a body wrung out like a dishrag.
When you were a teenager, did a grownup ever say to you, “Just be yourself?” To me this was exactly like them telling you to “Go look it up in the dictionary.”
How would you find the right spelling of a word in a place that requires you to know the right spelling of the word to find it? Grownups never had an answer for that, because they had never actually cracked a dictionary themselves, unless they were English teachers. Why couldn’t they at least give us a hint – a couple of letters – to get us started?
I could have used a hint about being myself as a teenager. When I was being myself and, say, flipping someone with a rubber band because that’s the kind of person I was deep inside, someone would get mad at me. Maybe it was because I was so good at it – I could hit someone in the chest with a resounding “thwack” at thirty feet. I finally realized it was a skill I shouldn’t practice on human targets.
Same thing with hitting people with snowballs, especially when the snow went down their shirt. So even though my “self” wanted badly to cream others with rubber bands and snowballs, I had to deny myself or risk getting a shovel full of snow in the face. Which actually happened to me last winter.
Let me tell you about it. I’ve got this cranky neighbor who was shoveling snow one day as I was walking my dog up the street. I playfully threw a snowball at him from about eight feet away that hit him in the leg. He happened to have a shovelful of snow ready to sling it to the wayside, and instead heaved it at me as if to say, “I’m a jerk and don’t you forget it next time you come around here with your playful BS.”
The snow hit me right in the face, and since I wasn’t expecting it and had my mouth open, it went down my throat and clogged my windpipe. I couldn’t breathe. It was quite frightening. I got my throat unclogged eventually by coughing forcefully like a three-pack-a-day smoker. Then gulping in the cold air caused a whole ton of new coughing. I have to admit I played this up a little once I realized I wasn’t going to die. It was a dirty trick to hoist a whole shovelful of snow in exchange for one measly snowball.
Here was a guy being himself (a jerk), and causing misery all the way around. It cost him a a lot of blubbering pleas for forgiveness and a bottle of wine he brought to my house later by way of penance.
I don’t think anyone should tell kids to be themselves. Tell them to be nice. If they don’t know what nice is, spell it out for them. “Don’t hit people in the chest with rubber bands, even if you are the best rubber band shooter in the whole universe. Plus don’t strangle people with snow.”
If you want to know the truth, I still don’t know who my “self” is, but I know I like the parts of me that are kind and sweet and considerate, and see the fun in life. So I’m glad that self is starting to win out over my other self which is ornery, mean, and spiteful and will cough a few minutes longer than necessary to make a jerk feel guilty.
In conclusion, thanks to my dear friend, Google, I never have to pick up a dictionary again. Not that I ever did before. A dictionary is like a First Aid kit. It’s good to have around but you never, ever want to actually use it. Although, who knows, you might find your “self” in there. It’s one place I haven’t looked.
I won some really pretty wine glasses at a bunko game. There were four in the box and each had a different color and design. I found out where they came from and was thrilled to get another box at a great price.
I’ve had them a couple of years, and every time I use them I have to wipe them off – they get this little film on them. Does some filmy fog creep in there during the night? Some nasty little vermin spreading a dull cloud over my favorite glasses?
Many’s the time someone has dropped by and I’ve offered them a neighborly glass of wine. I reach for these first because they are front and center and they’re so pretty. I’ll pull one out and am appalled when I start to pour the wine. If the person doesn’t see the glass, I grab a towel and wipe it clean. If they do see it, I make a joke, “Well, you can tell my husband washed this one. Men, they don’t pay attention to detail. Ha Ha.” Then I scramble to find a “clean” glass.
I just washed these glasses a few days ago, and I noticed that they are fogged up again. There is something in these glasses – some chemical – that makes them film up like someone didn’t rinse the soap off.
Who in the heck makes a product like that? What was the conversation like in that manufacturing plant?
First day: “Pretty nice set of glasses we designed here, Bob. Ladies are gonna love ‘em. We’ll make a whole bunch of these.”
Third day, “Hmmm, boys, these glasses got a little coating on them like they’re dirty, better wash ‘em before you box ‘em up.”
Fifth day: “You can’t even see through these glasses. How the hell many did we make like this? EIGHTY-TWO BILLION!!!??? What the hell’s the matter with them? Are they fit to drink out of?”
Seventh day: “Okay, here’s what you do. Ship ‘em straight to the discount stores. At least we won’t have to take a 100% loss on ’em. I’d like to know whose brilliant idea it was to make these friggin’ things anyway. What did you say? Oh, shut up, will ya and get these sons of bitches out of my sight.”
I bet it happened just like that and you and I, the innocent consumers, purchased these products in good faith expecting that we’ve gotten a great deal and some real value for our discount store money, and then look what happens.
My daughter is a science whiz – wants to be a physicist – and she says there’s some chemical in the glass that is causing them to oxidize with the air. Since they have to be stored on the planet Earth where we are surrounded by AIR, I suppose there’s nothing I can do about it. Unless I move to Mars. But then no one would come visit to offer a glass of wine to, so what good would that do me?
The sad thing is it’s taken me two years to figure out that it’s not my husband’s lousy washing that’s causing these ugly glasses.
I wonder if I can return them to the store for a refund after two years? Probably not. Maybe I’ll donate them to my daughter’s chemistry class so they can experiment on them, because now I’m too chicken to drink out of ‘em.
I’m at the laundry mat right now washing some quilts in those big huge machines. I love those things. They spin around and make cool whirring sounds. If you put a plastic action figure in there, you can see the blur of him spinning around through the glass door and imagine how dizzy he’s getting.
I have some good memories of laundry mats – being there with my brother or friends, running around pushing each other in the rolling carts, doing laps around the washing machines in the middle, little hellions taking the corners on two wheels, listening to the old folks grumble about “out-of-control kids these days.”
My brother and I had the responsibility of doing laundry when we were growing up. Like everyone else in our modest neighborhood, our family only had one car, and my dad worked a couple of states away so he came home about once a month, leaving us without a vehicle most of the time. Which was fine since the grocery store, school, church and everything else was within a couple of blocks.
But the laundry mat was about six blocks away, and we had to carry the laundry basket full of clothes, one of us on each side. I kind of liked going to the laundry mat, but my brother was in middle school and it was NOT cool to be walking down the street carrying a basket piled high with clothes, especially with your little sister.
We’d wait until we had nothing clean to wear, so the laundry basket had clothes mounded about two feet above it, held in place by a sheet draped over and tucked firmly into the sides. It looked like we were carrying a fresh grave.
We made the trip under the cover of darkness. In those days kids got to go anywhere, day or night. It was safe in our little East Tennessee town. People didn’t lock their doors, and crime was unheard of.
We both grabbed a handle and headed down the street. Whoever saw car lights would yell, “CAR!” and we’d drop the basket on the sidewalk and dive into the bushes so they wouldn’t see us. I am laughing as I type this because now I can see that basket from a driver’s perspective. What did people think when they saw the abandoned basket sitting on the sidewalk? Did they see us scramble into the bushes and wonder what we were up to?
My brother was pretty popular in school. Girls called him all the time. His reputation would have been absolutely ruined if those cars held kids he knew who would rat him out the next day at school.
When it came time to cross the busy, four-lane street, we lurked in the shadows until it was clear both ways for a good distance, then we’d run like crazy. Since I was almost four years younger, I didn’t run as fast, so the basket would get askew and sometimes tip over. Laundry gushed into the street in a ragged trail. We scrambled to get it back into the basket. My brother would dart his head back and forth, urging me to hurry up before a car came and saw him in the street with his little sister surrounded by dirty underwear.
Once the clothes were washed, we’d make a game of folding the sheets. He’d grab the corners on one end, and I’d get the other ends, then we’d take a couple of giant steps toward each other like we were dancing at some fancy ball, lifting the corners up and down in a silly fanfare. We’d connect the corners and he’d hold them while I picked up the corners at the fold, and we’d step apart, then move back together with the same flouncing moves. It was just foolishness to entertain ourselves, and we giggled like idiots.
Funny how we were so worried about what people thought on the dark streets, but we didn’t care a bit about the opinions of the crowd in the laundry mat.
We loaded those folded clothes and started the trek back home. Usually there was less traffic, but we’d still have to abandon the basket and take cover several times. I wonder why no one ever stopped to check out the laundry basket full of clothes just sitting there. Maybe they thought that basket must have had a darn good reason for being there, and it was none of their business. Those were innocent times. No thugs or gangs or opportunists were cruising around looking to steal people’s clothes.
Somehow we managed to do this chore week after week completely on the sly. Eventually we got a washing machine and our laundry mat days were over, much to our delight.
If you ever decide to investigate a laundry basket full of clothes abandoned on the sidewalk, I bet you’ll find some kids trying to maintain the facade of being cool by taking cover in the bushes close by.
So much has been going on, I’m going to have to do this in little bullets to touch on everything.
First, there is a mosquito buzzing around my head. I have swatted him two or three times but he is persistent. He harbors a do-or-die attitude.
Second, my stomach is rumbling so loud it’s like an earthquake has set off a tsunami in there. I went to our neighborhood picnic yesterday and, as usual, I sampled everything – twice – and since there was so much food, I think I MAY have over-indulged. The next day after a buffet I’m always starving because I stretch my stomach from the size of something the size of a stomach – grapefruit? cantaloupe? – to the size of a hot air balloon. My stomach “thinks” it’s hungry even though it received enough food yesterday to get me through the winter. I am going to have to stop eating like this.
MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee – the mosquito just buzzed my head again.
Third, before the gorge fest, I saw South Pacific, the Broadway Across America revival of the original 1949 play, at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. What a fantastic show. See it if you get the chance. Crazy how something over a half a century old is still so funny and so timely today. It won ten Tony Awards back in the day, and 7 in this revival. It won my own personal award for Best Bang for the Buck, too.
Fourth, I went to church yesterday and there was a little girl there with either her grandfather or older father, or older uncle or circus ringmaster or perfect stranger. There really is no way of knowing WHO he was, but let’s assume, for the purposes of this story, that he was a husband – a very thin, pale man about 7 feet tall with sparse hair, thin lips, and a light tan shirt and pants. He looked like an anemic deliveryman from a horror movie, except kindly. Whoever he was, he doted on the child and let her dance in the aisle. She was between 2 or 3 in a little flowery sundress that flowed out while she twirled.
I kept wondering how far she would go – knowing that when you give a child an inch she’s gonna take a mile. Soon she was up to the space between the pews and the altar. He had followed her up there, squatting on his heels at intervals, I guess so he wouldn’t block anyone’s view of her or the altar. I can’t squat like that. He was all the way down with his rear end resting on his heels. I could get down that far, but I’d topple over backwards and lay there like a squirming beetle until two stout men hoisted me on my feet.
MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee (frickin mosquito)
Of course this little girl kept moving further away and then coming back, like a duckling swimming out, then in, then further out, then in, then further out still until a big mouth bass jumps up and snatches it underwater. Sorry, my imagination just goes where it will – I give it an inch and you see what happens.
All the while the man squatted. Finally she was in front of the priest as he was delivering the sermon, twirling like a ballerina. I glanced at the people in the congregation, and everyone was watching the child with grumpy looks on their faces. No one was amused. We’ve all seen twirling children before. Twirling children are a dime a dozen in a Catholic church. We wanted somersaults and cartwheels.
Finally, the man arose on legs like springs, scooped up the little girl and took her completely out of the church. I found this interesting, because she wasn’t protesting. Why not just stay there, standing with her or sitting, taking in the service? And then it occurred to me that he didn’t WANT to be there, and was probably being forced by his wife, so he hatched a diabolical scheme to embarrass her to death by squatting in the aisle like a giant albino peasant while the child distracted everyone, including the priest who was too polite to say anything, so that he could have an excuse to leave. The man, not the priest. Try to keep up.
Anyway, he never came back into the church, so I think my theory is right on target, that he was a husband looking for an exit.
Oh my gosh, I just got a rumbly in my tumbly that is a 7.9 on the Richter scale. On top of that, my husband kept giving the dog ribs he barbecued for the neighborhood picnic, and she’s sitting beside me passing gas that’s causing my eyes to water. I’m being dive-bombed, asphyxiated, and tsunamied here. My stories are going to have to wait until things settle down. Aughhh – I can’t BREATHE!
I went with my daughter to see Salt. It’s a pretty good movie, full of suspense. When the movie was over my daughter says, “I think Angela Jolie is crazy.”
“Crazy?” I said.
“Yeah, crazy. She’s always playing these parts where she gets beat up and stuff.”
It’s true. She got whaled on in Salt, and in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and in those Tomb Raider movies. She’s like the women’s action hero. She’s TYPECAST.
Which I think is a shame because she’s a good actress as far as I can tell.
But you didn’t come here for my musings about Angelina Jolie, did you? Because I have other pressing things to talk about, i.e. why I went to the movie with my daughter in the first place. The reason is that we went to church yesterday morning, and she came out of the house wearing a tank top that I felt revealed way too much Catholic boobs. Lest you think it’s just me, every mother I know has this same feeling about our daughters – not that they need to dress more conservatively at church – they need to cover up more all the time.
Oh my gosh, I sound like such a MOTHER! I’m sure all the moms back in the day were beside themselves fretting about our mini skirts.
My daughter thought I was an idiot and freak for mentioning her tank top – AGAIN, which made me defensive and her mad. Being a teenager, her anger turns immediately into rage and then it’s just a teeny tiny baby step to sobbing, breathless tears.
I had to walk a very fine line to keep her from reaching that point, which in turn made me angry that I couldn’t tell her flat out that I don’t want the old men at church lusting at her cleavage.
I couldn’t help myself and said it anyway, which then made her call me a pervert. It was not going well, and I shut up.
When we got to church, I noticed that every teenage girl in the place had on the same tank top and revealing the same amount of cleavage, and that my daughter would not have stood out in a lineup of American girls imitating Britney Spears. However, I couldn’t tell her this because she wasn’t speaking to me.
She continued not speaking to me for most of the day. I mentioned on the way home from church that I wanted to see Salt. She didn’t reply. In general, she will only consent to go ANYWHERE with me if she has absolutely no other prospects on the horizon, including being beaten with a rubber hose, but it was the best way I could think to try and smooth things over. About 4:00 in the afternoon she came into my office and said, “Salt’s playing at 4:20.”
That’s how we made up, without any apologies, just going to see Angelina Jolie. So I have her to thank for our reconciliation, which is ironic because the movie itself is about tearing things apart.
The movie is set up for a sequel (that’s all I can say without ruining the whole twisted plot), so I hope I can hold my criticizing tongue until Salt II comes out. I wonder what it will be called. Salt and Pepper? When Salt Met Sugar? Ha ha.
DISCLAIMER: If my daughter finds this blog and realizes I’ve been telling the world about her life she will smack me up side the head with a 2 by 4. So I officially deny that I wrote this post or that any of this ever happened. It’s just fiction – like most of my stuff – a figment of my imagination. Honest.