Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dressing for success

posted Wed, 06 Sep 2006

The Bodacious Red-headed Pediatrician and CheeseGuy have mailed their wedding invitations. It is going to be a lovely, lovely event. A lovely, grand, grown-up event. They worded everything so diplomatically: “Adult reception to follow.” That’s very well done, don’t you think? You may take your children to the wedding if you wish, but the reception is for the grown ups. Just in case you couldn’t figure it out from the time – wedding at 6:30.

It’s a Jewish wedding, and I think they’re like Catholic weddings in that they last a little longer than five minutes. Some of the Protestant weddings I have been to have been very efficient. I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding, but I believe there is some ritual involved, so I think the ceremony will go on past 7:00. Which puts the reception starting no sooner than 7:30. Which means it’s definitely not a kids’ thing.

Not that I have a problem with children at a reception in theory, but this isn’t my party. I’m not paying for it. I’m not making the rules. A bride and groom should be able to have the wedding they want (especially if they are paying for it) and it’s perfectly reasonable to say “no kids.” I hope they don’t get any grief over this.

Actually, they should be able to say “no kids” in the ceremony itself. At my friend “Deborah’s” wedding, a crying toddler interrupted the first reading. As in his mother was supposed to do the reading but as soon as she walked up the aisle toward the altar, he started screaming. She heaved a big sigh – Oh no! Her child couldn’t be without her for one moment! Wasn’t she important! – and turned back. The sacrifices she made for motherhood! Her husband (brother of the groom) did the reading instead, I think. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to her to have someone watch the kid during the ceremony – or take him outside for that part – because she had to have had a pretty good idea this would happen. Actually, she did – she even warned us about the possibility. But then she wouldn’t have had the satisfaction of upstaging the bride, who was marrying the “successful” brother. So it all worked out for her in the end.

Back to BRHP. The invitation is elegant – gold letters on maroon card stock. The reception is going to be elegant. Last line of the invitation states, “Black tie optional.” Yay! A chance to dress up. Let’s see how many people actually do. I think this is a subtle hint to people not to dress like slobs. Not that everyone will pick up on it. For Stephen and Leigh’s big winter party in February, they put “cocktail attire” on the invitation – and people still showed up in jeans. True, some were dressed to the nines – suits for the men, smashing dresses for the women, but others were in jeans. And not even high-fashion jeans with heels and slutty, sparkly tank tops or the male equivalent, high-fashion jeans with a dark sweater and jacket. Just jeans, tennies and a t-shirt. That, my friends, is not cocktail attire. That is cleaning out the residence where the cock lived before the tail was pulled attire.

SH and I were talking about the reception and what to wear. “I have a tuxedo,” he said. “It might actually fit me now that I’ve lost 16 pounds—“

I cut him off. This is where he goes into his little soliloquy about how easy it’s been for him to lose weight and all he’s had to do is drink less beer and how he never exercises and wow, would you look at that! down 16 pounds since he met me even though it seems like he eats way more than I do but I work out all the time and have to watch everything I eat and isn’t that weird! This is not a speech that seduces, for any men who are reading.

“Is it a good tuxedo or one of those nasty ‘70s prom tuxes?” I asked.

“No, it’s nice!” he laughed. I shouldn’t even have asked. SH always dresses very well. He has a tremendous sense of style – except for the mustard and the orange shirts and I’m working on getting rid of those.

Lazy days and lazy people

posted Mon, 04 Sep 2006

I appeal to the crowd.

How late do you guys sleep on the weekends? Do you keep the same hours on the weekends (or roughly close to) that you do during the week?

Do you think it is reasonable to assume that most people are up by 8:00 on the weekend? I do, but I have been told that I am totally weird. You know – because I go to bed so early. For me to get as much sleep as I want, I have to go to bed nine hours before the sun comes up because the light wakes me. I can have a later bedtime in the winter, but what’s there to stay up for in the winter? It costs so much to heat my house that it’s cheaper to turn down the thermostat and get under the covers.

I think that most people who work nine-to-five jobs probably are awake by 8:00 on Saturday and Sunday just because their body clock – or kids – or bladder – gets them up by then. Besides, don’t most people have Things To Do on the weekends? I know I did when I had a job. I had my List and the weekend was when I was going to Get Things Done. I didn’t have any time to waste sleeping my life away. Now I don’t get anything done because I have too much time. Strange how that works.

SH and I are arguing about this. He thinks I am wrong and that most people – most normal people – are sleeping way past 8:00 on the weekends. “If they do that,” I say, “then they won’t be able to fall asleep Sunday night and getting up Monday morning is really hard. Most people our age have learned to keep a regular schedule, even on the weekends. You’re still in your post-divorce, making up for not having a wild-20s stage.”

He disagrees. He maintains there are many 9-to-5 people in their early 40s who stay up way past midnight – possibly until 4:30 a.m. – and hence need to sleep well into the morning, thus wasting a good portion of the day. When do these people do laundry? When do they buy groceries? When do they cut their grass? When do they do their chores, I ask you? How can they be so irresponsible?

So. Am I right or is the rest of the world a bunch of lazy people sleeping their lives away?

Darn tourists

posted Thu, 31 Aug 2006

I have a new crime for which people can be zapped. You know, the three zaps the decent people (that is, us) get every day to take out the line-cutters, the folks who get into the express lanes with more than 12 items, and talk on cell phones in the movies (“Nothing! What are you doing?”)

The crime is Eating in the Car When the Parking Lot is Full and Other People are Looking for a Parking Place.

Monday night, my friend Lenore from Chicago, who was in town for business, and I agreed to meet at Corky’s BBQ. I got there and found the parking lot full, with other cars circling like sharks. I made one round, saw a space, made a dash, then discovered it was a handicapped space. Curses, foiled again. As I was pulling out, I saw another space empty and raced across the lot to get it, cutting off some woman in a white rental van as I did so.

That woman turned out to be Lenore. Oh well. To the swift go the parking spaces. She drove around the lot. As she did, I spied two people in a car across from me. They must be getting ready to leave! I thought. I jumped out of the car, leaving the keys in the ignition, my purse in the car and the door open. I ran across the lot to the occupied, obviously-getting-ready-to-leave-car, waving my arms and yelling to attract Lenore’s attention. “Right here!” I yelled. “These people are pulling out!” My plan was to stand in the space until Lenore could park in it.

But when I got next to the car, I saw that these people were not getting ready to leave. Instead, these people – these two middle-aged ladies who should have known better, bless their hearts – were delicately nibbling on their pulled-pork BBQ sandwiches with coleslaw topping. (Vinegar dressing and if you don’t want it on your sandwich, you have to tell them. That’s just how it’s done here, that’s why. If you don’t want sugar in your tea, you have to tell them that, too. Sweet tea is the default.)

That’s right. They were sitting in the front seats eating their sandwiches. Why they couldn’t have eaten in the restaurant, I don’t know. Why they couldn’t have eaten on the bench in front of the restaurant, I don’t know. Why they couldn’t have taken the food to a park or home or their hotel, I don’t know. But they were quite happy to watch car after car circle that tiny lot (no easy place to park nearby, either) seeking space while they ate.

Was that rude or what? I say rude.

I stood right next to them, looked them in the eyes, and said loudly, “They’re eating in here, but I THINK THEY’RE ALMOST DONE!” I was trying to shame them, but – it didn’t work.

That’s why I needed the zaps. I could have just zapped them out of existence – or at least out of the parking lot – so Lenore would not have had to drive three blocks away to the Verizon store to find a space.

Shameless, shameless, shameless.

Bless her heart

posted Thu, 31 Aug 2006

At the Grand Fish Fry, my sister, Jenny, and I were sitting with our SHs (both our boyfriends are named “SH,” coincidentally) and our mom. Our cousin “Bitsy” came over to talk to us. Bitsy is on her fourth marriage, which, you will find, is germane to the story.

Jenny: You’re not going to lick SH again, are you?

Bitsy, beer in one hand, cigarette in the other: Did that bother you?

Jenny: Well, he’s my boyfriend!

Bitsy: I lick everyone.

Jenny: [rolls eyes]

Bitsy: I’m going to tell you something that no one ever told me.

Jenny: What’s that?

Bitsy: You don’t have to marry someone to sleep with him.

Me [embarrassed laughter – she said this in front of my mother. for crying out loud]: Is that why you’ve been married four times? You’ve been doing it like they do in Hollywood – getting married instead of dating?

Bitsy: Yep. I didn’t know. I didn’t you could just f--- ‘em instead of marrying ‘em.

[Silence as I don’t dare look at my mother, who doesn't even like the word "damn." We've already covered expressing the concept of pre-marital sex in front of my mom. That Bitsy. A class act. She exits stage left but licks each of us on the cheek before she goes.]

Potty training

posted Tue, 29 Aug 2006

On the flight back to Memphis yesterday:

Me: Do you need this bag? [As I hold up the air sickness bag]

Little boy sitting next to me: What’s that?

Me: It’s for if you need to throw up and can’t get to the bathroom in time.

Little boy: No. I don’t need to throw up. But once, on a plane, I had to pee into a bag and it went all over the place.

Me: Really!

Little boy: Yeah. That’s why I like big planes. They have bathrooms.

No one can eat 50 eggs

posted Tue, 29 Aug 2006

The Grand Fish Fry was not the same without the Bodacious Redheaded Pediatrician and her Cheese Guy. They were in North Carolina, of all places, with Cheese Guy’s family. Someone – I won’t name names – said she hoped it would rain on them, but I’m sure that was said in jest. Underneath those words was this sentiment: “How can we possibly have fun without BR-HP and Cheese Guy?” It was the tears of the clown and all that.

But we forged ahead because that’s what we do when we are in northern Wisconsin. We had (other) fish to fry and lots of dessert to eat. It’s not a job for everyone, but we were up to the task.

There was the usual abundance of little kids running around. Only two dogs this time, which was a relief, as I am not a dog lover, although even these two managed to cause trouble far out of proportion to their numbers. One of them threw up right behind the fish-frying kettles in the late afternoon. I asked where the dog’s owner was because to my mind, that was the person who had rightful responsibility of cleaning up the mess. But someone of much higher character than I decided she wasn’t going to wait for the owner to get back from jet-skiing (and maybe she was afraid the other dog would eat the vomit – you never know with these things) and she cleaned it up. Good for her. I didn’t want to have to worry about stepping in that nasty stuff all evening.

No late-night karaoke this year. Another relief. What’s wrong with quiet? Karaoke is fine in its place. But what’s this obsession with noise everywhere? Why do I have to be forced to listen to so-called music everywhere I go? Sorry Angie, but even you admit you only sing as well as Lexie.

The greater question, though, is why do I have to hear music at the airport? Or at the grocery store? If I want music there, I can take my walkman. How about some peace and quiet? This is a subject for another post so I will drop it. But discuss amongst yourselves, dear readers.

The big revelation for everyone, apparently, was that I went to a bar!

Who knew that would be such a big deal?

When I walked into The Big Minnow Bar and Bait Shop late Saturday night, my cousin Bobbie Jo dropped to her knees and clasped her hands in front of her face.

“It’s the end of the world!” she gasped. “I see the cross! I see the blood!”

“What are you talking about?” I snapped at her.

“You walked into a bar! And you’re the first one in the door! You just ruined your image!”

“I didn’t even know I had an image!” I laughed.

So for years, I guess I have been a goody two-shoes rather than someone who gets a bad headache from cigarette smoke and who would rather eat butter and chocolate than waste calories on beer (which tastes nasty anyhow). Who knew?

Sure enough. Sunday morning, when we went back to the lake for breakfast, the first thing my uncle said to me – Bobbie Jo wasn’t even awake yet – was, “I hear you ruined your image last night.”

Good grief. That’s what happens when you live hundreds of miles from your relatives. If only they knew.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Taking candy from babies is next

posted Mon, 28 Aug 2006

My cousin Jeff’s little girl, Caitlin, was running around the Grand Fish Fry (more about that later) in one of Jeff’s sweatshirts. Caitlin is a tiny five-year-old and Jeff is in his late thirties, so the sweatshirt was just a little bit too big for her. The sleeves went all the way to the ground.

I couldn’t resist.

“Caitlin! Come here!” I called.

She obeyed. I have that power. Merely by telling them to do so, I can also make children who do not know me wash their hands – using soap -- in public restrooms. Yes. I have done this.

“Let me show you something,” I coaxed.


I took the sleeves of the sweatshirt, wrapped them loosely around her front, and tied them behind her. Now she was in a straitjacket.

She burst into tears.

Not quite the response I expected. Hey! This was supposed to be funny!

I quickly untied her, expecting the tears to stop.

But they didn’t. She stomped away from me, tears of indignation running down her face. “That’s not nice!” she shouted at me over her shoulder as she left.

Oh great. Now I’ve scarred her for life.

I found Jeff later and told him that 30 years hence, when his daughter is going through therapy, I am the person she means when she talks about being kidnapped, tied up and held for two weeks. I guess she can send me the bill for that session.

But it was kinda funny.

Perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t have children.

Now spit

posted Sun, 27 Aug 2006

My uncle Hank (my dad’s other brother) was talking about the spit story. “It makes my mouth dry just to think about it,” he said as he shook his head. “You know why us kids liked to spit, don’t you? All those guys done it back then. My dad didn’t do it but my grampa done it. You know a while back when you seen a white circle on a guy’s jeans pocket? That’s from snuff. Well, those guys would keep a wad of snuff in their cheek all day long. They'd go down to the barn at the end of the day and spit a stream of it out. They could hit the cat right between the eyes. We thought that was cool as hell.”

What men do

posted Sun, 27 Aug 2006

Last night, this guy kept hassling my cousin, Bobbi Jo, her husband, Dave, and a few other friends at Big Swede’s Bar and Bait Shop. (OK, OK. It’s not really a bait shop. That was the Big Minnow Bar and Bait Shop where we went later. But I wanted to make sure I got that in there.) They kept putting him off casually (“No, we don’t want to play pool with you – you’re too good for us!”), but he persisted. Finally, he called Bobbi Jo a “whorebag,” whatever that is.

Dave decked him.

The owner of the bar came over to see why a customer was on the floor. Dave, who is an occasional bouncer, raised his hands, said, “Hey, man, I’m really sorry. I’ll leave.”

The owner said, “Don’t worry about it. That guy is a total --------. Stay. I’m kicking him out.”

What I liked is that Dave didn’t even hesitate to act when this jerk insulted his wife. When he was being a general jerk, Dave used a soft answer to turn away wrath, but the guy kept coming back for more. When he crossed the line and basically double-dog dared Dave to come and get him by calling his wife a slut (which, for the record, she is not), Dave did what any red-blooded guy should do: he elbowed the guy in the nose and knocked him to the ground.

If I had been Bobbi Jo, I would have been ticked if Dave had done any less.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


posted Sat, 26 Aug 2006

It must be something in the water. I would say it’s the genes, but I got it from cousins from both sides of the family. My best cousin Angie, when she met SH, asked if he was my fiancé. My cousin Mitch, asked straight out when I was going to marry him. Good grief. Will these people never let me be? I’m glad my sister is arriving today with her boyfriend so there will be someone else to be hassled.

SH and I were driving to Dorchester (the town where my mom and dad grew up) for breakfast yesterday. We were going to eat at the new café in town – a restaurant! in Dorchester! (there is not even a stop light in Dorchester and there has not been an eating establishment there ever as long as I can remember) – but when we passed the corner where my Granma Sylvia used to live and had her gas station, we saw the Liberty 4-H club having a bake sale and bratwurst roast. We decided we can get café food anytime, but we can’t get brats all the time, so with a screech of the tires, we turned around and promptly got us some brats, rice krispie treats, peanut butter special K bars, oatmeal bars, two kinds of brownies, and chocolate cookies.

After breakfast, we drove past my other grandparents’ farm. It’s been 30 years since they sold the farm and the new owners should be ashamed of themselves. The barn has fallen down. It’s not a natural process. If the barn is used, it won’t fall down. The moisture from cows and hay actually preserves the wood. These people are lazy, good for nothings, no-good-doers , barn let fall downers, jerks.

I don’t like them

We went to my uncle’s sausage plant. My aunt and two of my cousins were there making side dishes for the big fish fry today. SH got to taste The Best Summer Sausage in the World. Then we sampled the cucumber salad. The coleslaw. The Snicker salad. (Yes, it’s called “salad” even though it’s made with Snickers and whipped cream. Calling it “salad” puts it in the vegetable and not the dessert section of the cookbook and lets you think you’re eating something healthful. Kind of like calling muffins breakfast food instead of cake.)

Bobbie Jo reminded me that I had promised her son that I would go to his football game and that he was playing that evening. Trapped! I was trapped! “Oh, yeah,” I said. “I did promise that. Last year!”

But what where we to do? Besides, it’s not like we had any other plans.

First, we visited my uncle (my dad’s brother) and some other cousins at the garage they own. I showed my uncle the photos I had taken of his childhood home in Milwaukee, which got him to reminiscing. “One time, my brother Hank and I were fighting and we got to spitting. My dad was getting ready to go to work. He grabbed Hank and me and hauled us into the bathroom with him. ‘You wanna spit?’ he said. ‘Then spit!’ He pointed to the toilet. He made us spit into that toilet until we couldn’t spit any more. Everytime I thought my mouth was too dry to spit any more, he made me keep spitting. He was shaving to go to work and he just took his time while we spit. We didn’t spit much after that.”

After a hearty supper at the Harvest Café in Medford (SH had potato pancakes, applesauce and ham, I had scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes, and we shared Grampa Mike’s fried dough with frosting. This is going to be an eating weekend.), we went to the stadium. We found Angie and Bobbie Jo. Medford was kicking the other team’s butt. It was 20-0 three minutes before the half, then Superior finally scored. Then the Medford band walked onto the field. Angie turned to me in disgust. “Can you believe this band? They don’t even march. This used to be an award-winning band. When I was in band, we used to get first at competition. Watch them. This is pathetic.”

I watched. They played their first song. While standing completely still. Then they started their second song. While still standing still. Angie glared. “We played for Packer games!” she hissed. “Pregame and halftime! Do you think this band could play at a Packer game?”

SH and I left in protest.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


posted Thu, 24 Aug 2006

My grandmother, who twelve years ago wrote me a letter in which she suggested that I “find [and marry] a nice widower who needs help raising his young children,” met SH tonight. We stopped by the assisted living home where she lives. A nice place, really, although I think they should have “Mrs Johnson” on her door instead of “Helen.” She’s 92 years old. She deserves to be called “Mrs” and not by her first name by a bunch of young whippersnappers. Unless she invites them to do so, of course. But it’s her option. That’s Mrs Johnson to you, thank you very much.

SH and I reviewed her latest paintings – she is about to start one of dogs pulling a sled across the snow – and looked at the collage of old photos and family sayings that my mother put together for her. “Someday you’ll wish you could take a nap” was something my mom told me once. Perhaps my grandmother used to say it to her kids, too. “Hell’s bells” was from my grandfather for sure; so was “If you’re coming home this late, don’t bother going to bed.” I guess you were supposed to go straight to the barn and start milking cows.

When she learned SH is Lutheran, she said, “I know about Lutherans! My husband was Lutheran. Boy, was he ornery! But he was nice. He was nice.”

She asked SH what his hobbies were. He told her he likes to sing, so she asked him to sing her a song. He protested, but I glared at him. “You can sing a song for my grandmother,” I said.

“But I don’t know any by heart!” he said.

I started singing. Everyone in the world knows “You Are My Sunshine.” Sure enough, my grandmother knew it, too, so she started singing. SH joined in. We sang the chorus, then the first verse, then faltered. OK, everyone knows the chorus and the first verse.

Except my grandmother, who knows the second verse, so she taught it to us. Then we sang the whole thing over again.

Her neighbor, Grace, heard us and wandered into the room. We talked some more. I told her we needed to get going and she said that we hadn’t sung yet. “I already sang for you!” SH reminded her.

They can pry his shirts out of his cold, dead hands

posted Wed, 23 Aug 2006

This is how it’s going to go when SH finally starts the heartbreaking process of pulling blue shirts out of his closet for the clothing drive at his church.

“I remember when I bought this shirt. I had a 20% off coupon from the Boston Store mailer and it was already on sale, half off. I love this shirt! I wore it when the Brewers played the Braves in 2002 right after the new stadium opened and so-and-so hit a home run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game.”

This shirt will not have been worn for oh, four years, but that doesn’t matter. “I might wear it again someday.”

105 shirts. Five minutes of reminiscing per shirt. You do the math because I’m too lazy. But that’s about seven hours. Or more.

And how many of those shirts will actually end up in the “go” pile?

Very, very few.

Because SH’s house, despite its extreme tidiness, is the black hole of stuff. Things come in but they don’t come out. I made the mistake of bringing new running shoes last week to replace the pair that resided here. “What are you doing?” SH asked, as I took the old shoes toward the trash.

“Throwing these away,” I answered. Duh.

“Why? Those are perfectly good shoes.”

“No they’re not. They’re worn out. They hurt my feet when I run.” (OK, when I walk.) “That’s why I brought new shoes to leave here. They’re no good any more.”

“They’d be just fine for someone who wants to walk around. Give them to me and I’ll take them to charity.”

Reluctantly, I handed them over. Who wants second-hand tennis? Second-hand Ferregamos, sure. But running shoes? Ick!

He put them in the Black Hole of Calcutta, aka his closet. I sighed, knowing they would never leave. This is the same guy who, until I teased him about it unmercifully, still had the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Entertainment Coupon Books in his office.

He still has the past four months of newspaper coupons stacked neatly in the corner. “Coupons, by definition, are useless when they’re old!” I tell him.

“There might be something useful in there,” he says defensively. [Am I driving SH to get his own blog or what? I’ll pay for this.]

I throw my hands into the air and walk away. SH has moved a handful of times his entire life. I moved more than a dozen times before I graduated from high school and more than a dozen times since. I’ve learned to travel light. My heirs are going to have a much easier time cleaning the house when I’m dead. But his will have something to wear.

SH just pointed out that he threw away the newspaper coupons on Monday night after getting sick and darn tired of hearing me nag him about them.

Cleanliness is next to very, very fussy

posted Tue, 22 Aug 2006

There are certain advantages to dating a detail-oriented engineer. At least the engineer I happen to be dating.

Serious Honey is about a gajillion times more fussy about housekeeping than I am, so I leave the cleaning to him. At least at his house. But even at my house, he’s very good at staying tidy. He doesn’t do it my way, but, as he just pointed out as he read this over my shoulder and rolled his eyes, saying, “I can’t believe you’re going to blog about this,” I don’t do things his way when I’m at his house. So I guess we’re even.

SH doesn’t like the pollen falling from the sunflowers onto the table and is making a pre-emptive strike by vacuuming the pollen from the flower before it can fall. I knew I was having success converting him from being a liberal!

I have to admit, though, I don’t see the purpose of rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Tonight, after a wonderful meal of pork tenderloin, eggplant, peppers and corn on the cob – all done on the grill (except the corn), which he does marvelously (he is an excellent cook), I rinsed the dishes and handed them to him to put in the dishwasher. He stepped in front of me to re-rinse the dishes. I hadn’t rinsed them well enough.

“What is the point of using a dishwasher if you are going to do all the work yourself?” I asked.

He doesn’t trust the dishwasher to do the job. Which is rather odd when you consider he is a lover of technology. There are five remotes on the coffee table as we speak and I think he has more hidden away.

He insisted on washing the stockpot we used for boiling the corn. Me, I would have just put it away as it was. It had held nothing but water and then corn for two minutes. But no, it had to be washed. Water to wash water. Whatever.

I can’t set a glass down for two seconds without him grabbing it to put in the sink. The man folds t-shirts better than the clerks at the Gap. Even his messiness is organized. He folds his dirty clothes in the laundry basket. He rinses his recyclables. Por quoi? I ask, as I toss my dirty cans into the recycling bin behind my house. (Sometimes, just to mess with him, I throw aluminum into his trash.)

Honestly, there are times when it looks like he has just a little bit of the Queer Eye going for him, especially when you consider how nicely he dresses, but he’s 100% straight. He just has the neat freak gene in him. My college boyfriend (also an engineer) had it and way worse – he used to group all his pencils in one bunch and the pens in another and made sure the points were going the same way. He, too, was completely straight. I’m not complaining. I’ve never thought slobbiness was a sign of manliness. There are hundreds of women who would trade with me in a second. I know I’m lucky.

I don`t know what it has to do with baseball

posted Tue, 22 Aug 2006

SH has never eaten rhubarb.


I feel so sorry for those who have never had rhubarb pie. Not sorry enough to share any of mine with them. Just a little sorry.

I could understand this if he had lived his entire life in The South, where rhubarb is not to be found naturally, but he has been in Milwaukee for four years now. Rhubarb is one of the heralds of spring in the upper Midwest. How could he have avoided it for so long?

Rhubarb a mystery to southerners, though. When I can find it in my grocery store in Memphis, it costs an arm and a leg and the cashier never knows what it is. She regards it with great suspicion and almost always has to do a price check. Often, younger cashiers have to check fresh beets, rutabagas or turnips because they don’t know what they are, so we are talking vast oceans – the Pacific – of ignorance here.

SH has no excuses, especially for one who claims to be such a gourmand. Or is it gourmet? I can never keep those two straight. Anyhow, he is one of those food and wine snobs who is always sniffing the wine and talking about “bouquet” and “tannins” and all that stuff that I don’t care about because I don’t even like wine and all I care about food is if it tastes good and isn’t slimy. He even eats tripe. Tripe! Yet he has not tasted rhubarb. What’s up with that?

On Sunday, we went to the farmers’ market downtown. I spied bunches of lovely, lovely rosy rhubarb. I grabbed some and told him I was going to make rhubarb bars so he would finally taste heaven. Normally, I would not insist that he try something new and I’m not trying to convert any of you out there. Don’t eat rhubarb! Don’t! It leaves more for the rest of us! But I haven’t been able to afford it at home and this is the only way I’m going to get any this year.

I told the vendor about not being able to get rhubarb in Memphis. “Course, we’ve been looking for some okra here and haven’t been able to find it,” I said, as I waved my Martha Stewart Living Quick Okra Pickles recipe at him.

“I don’t have any okra, but my uncle sells it at the farmers’ market up in [whatever] neighborhood.” His voice dropped a little as he named the neighborhood.

“Where’s that?” I asked innocently.

“It’s more of an [African-American] neighborhood,” he whispered.

I shrugged. Made sense to me. Okra would be more of a soul food up north. What was funny was that he felt so uncomfortable saying the words out loud – as if there were something shameful in the profiling of certain ethnic groups by food. In one of the last Woody Allen movies I saw – before he turned into a quasi-incestuous sleazeball, he has a scene where his mother (I think this was in “Radio Days”) drops her voice to a whisper every time she says, “cancer,” as if by not saying it out loud, she somehow robs it of its power to harm.

Except there is nothing wrong with the truth that okra is a southern food and in Milwaukee, it’s the people who moved here from the South – mostly black – who eat it. Kinda like it’s only the [Norwegians] who are nutty enough to eat lutefisk. Let’s see – let's do some more ethnic food profiling. [Koreans] eat kimchee. [Jews] eat matzo. Oh dear! Am I a bigot for writing these things?

(On a related note, on the walking tour SH and I took on Saturday, the guide repeatedly referred to the “Yankees” who had moved here in the 1800s. To a Wisconsinite, a Yankee must be anyone from back East. But to a Southerner, a Yankee is anyone above the Mason-Dixon line.)

As soon as the guy told us where to find the okra, the lightbulb lit up over our heads. Of course! In Milwaukee, okra would be an ethnic food! It’s not like Memphis, where it’s a staple to be found in every grocery store. We were also seeking ingredients for an Asian salad – and Asians also eat okra – so we pointed the car to an Asian neighborhood and found everything we had been seeking and more. Well, everything but the okra, but close enough.

Gift of the Magi

posted Mon, 21 Aug 2006

SH is the hardest person in the world to shop for. He already has every gadget in the world. He buys CDs regularly. He collects watches, clocks, and old phones, but I don’t know enough about any of them to buy them for him. He already has his sports supplies. He’s a wine guy, but I don’t know enough about wine to feed his habit. I did get him a neat antique corkscrew last year – another oenophile friend collects them – but SH wasn’t excited.

If he sees something he likes, he buys it for himself. There is no such thing as delayed gratification in his world, so if we are out together and something catches his eye, he is apt to jump on it immediately.

I don’t trust people who don’t like cats. What’s not to like about a kitty?

What’s a girlfriend to do?

Yesterday, we were at an art fair. In one booth, a photo of a big-eyed kitten caught SH’s eye. It was a mesmerizing photo – a little gray, blue-eyed kitten staring at the camera – and SH kept returning to it. He’s a cat lover, which is a sign of a good person as far as I’m concerned.

Knowing there was no way I could buy it for him then, I snuck back to the photographer and asked if she had a website. She told me how to order a copy and I had it all figured out.

Five minutes later, SH said, “I like this. I’m going to buy it.”

Curses! Foiled again! “Maybe you should wait,” I suggested, trying to buy time until Christmas. “She’ll be at some other art fairs this fall.”

“No! I never get myself anything I want!” [What?! He of the 85 blue shirts? And the gajillion CDs?]

I rolled my eyes and followed him to the cashier stand. It’s going to be the Beevis and Butthead Electric Toothbrush this year, I guess. I’m out of options.

Speak English, dammit

posted Wed, 16 Aug 2006

I was inspired by this very funny post about an obnoxious parent baby talking to his non-baby child to write about my own experience with a sort of similar situation, only my situation didn’t involve a swimming pool or anyone looking at Kate Moss’s butt or me considering telling my child – for I have none – to make me a gin and tonic.

But my story does contain an obnoxious dad baby talking to a child who is not a baby, an offense for which you should be allowed to use one of your three daily vaporizing zaps. You know the zaps I’m talking about – the ones you use on rude obnoxious people who violate the laws of civilized behavior, like the drivers who ignore the “Left lane closed ahead” signs and drive all the way to where the left lane disappears and then expect to be let in – and people always do let them in! – or the people who get into the express line at the grocery store with 43 items or the woman ahead of me today at Target who was too busy on her cellphone to pay the cashier and made all of us wait until she’d finished her conversation before she completed her transaction. Those people. Those of us who are polite should be allowed to vaporize three jerks per day. At least. Including adults who baby talk to anyone who’s not a baby.

So there is this guy who at boot camp who’s been bringing his kid to class with him. His kid, Howie, is about eight or nine. Howie is not particularly coordinated, even for an eight-year-old. He can’t even do jumping jacks. He’s an awkward kid. But that’s not his fault. Heck, I was an awkward fat kid and look how great I turned out.

It’s not a big deal that his dad brings him to boot camp. I really don’t care. It’s not like he’s getting in anyone’s way. Tony doesn’t seem to mind.

The problem is his dad. Every time Tony gives an order – and he does give orders because he’s an ex-Marine drill instructor and it’s hard to break the habit, not that he’s trying or anything, the dad gives Howie a soothing little pep talk. “OK Howie! Now we’re going to do pushups! You like pushups don’t you?”

No! Nobody in the world likes pushups, you idiot. They are the worst exercise in the world.

Now, I don’t get the idea that Howie is stupid or that he doesn’t understand English. He knows what Tony has said. Even if he doesn’t, he can watch what everyone else is doing and follow along. But his dad encourages him – which still wouldn’t be so bad – and he does so in this horrible babytalk voice. It’s not a normal grownup voice. It’s this cloying, condescending, half-whispering, negotiating with terrorists voice that is worse than fingernails across a blackboard. It’s worse than the smell of perfume in a gym or in an office. Than perfume anywhere. Yes. It’s that bad.

Every time I hear The Voice, I cringe. When I see Howie in class, I stand as far away from him and his dad as possible. This is one the few times where my off and on left-ear deafness is an advantage (another time being when someone says something that I don’t want to pay attention to). I’m starting to hate Howie, even though he’s as much a victim as the rest of us.

I am so tempted to throw my weights at his dad, but I never would, of course.

I have very, very bad aim. And I’m not strong enough to heave them that far. Yet.

More pushups.

Avon calling and making me run and hide

posted Tue, 15 Aug 2006

This is awkward. I have a friend, Carla, whom I really like and respect. Carla is a lunch twice a year friend. Not an email once every other day, see at least once a week, tell most of my secrets to friend. But still a friend. Someone I like. Someone whose company I enjoy.

We had our bi-annual (or is it semi-annual? I can never keep those two straight) lunch the other day. Carla heard of my unemployed state and half-hearted attempts to change such state. (Such attempts include flipping to between reading Mamarazzi and other such enlightening and thought-provoking sites and whining, “Why can’t I find a job?” None of my wallowing in self-pity spurs me to anything productive, like cleaning my house or exercising enough to get me into good shape. Once I had visible abs – for about five seconds last year when I first started boot camp and was taking 600 mgs of appetite-killing Topamax a day. Sigh. Oh. I had a job, then, too, so there was 13 miles between me and my refrigerator.)

We had our lunch, which was nice, but then Carla suggested I join her on her new money-making venture: selling high-end makeup and skincare products. I tried to demur when she gave me the brochure, telling her I could just look at the company’s website. Then I told her I really don’t use much makeup (which is true). But she insisted I take the brochure. I told her I would think about it and that even if I didn’t want to do it, I might have some other friends who might be interested.

I thought maybe I had made it Southern clear that I didn’t want to do this. You know, the Memphis Way of saying “no” in a nice, disguised way that doesn’t really sound like “no” but everyone knows that’s what you’ve just said. Sometimes, it takes a form like this – and had I been more alert, I would have employed it, but I just wasn’t on the ball: “Thank you so much for asking me! I wish I could!”

It took me about two years of living here and being in the Junior League to learn that that meant “no.” It’s a code. They don’t give you a dictionary when you move here. What if the Germans invade? We have to have a way to communicate without their knowing what we’re saying.

Then I thought maybe I would just – not call. You know, the passive-aggressive approach. Or the passive-passive approach. After all, I’m not aggressive about this. It’s not like she asked me to sell sex toys or Amway. Nothing wrong with selling nice makeup. It’s just not my thing.

I even tried recruiting someone for her. I asked Leigh, who has been known to spend money on beauty products. Leigh felt no compunction to be nice about her “no.” “No, no, no, no!” she said, as she held her fingers X’d between the two of us. “Uh-uh. No way. I don’t do that sort of thing.”

Still, I did not call Carla. Maybe if I don’t call her, she’ll realize I don’t want to do this, I thought. Me, who with every breakup I have ever initiated, has been straight to the point with the soon-to-be ex. “I want to break up.” I’ve never just stopped calling with a boyfriend because I think that’s one of the cruelest things you can do to a person. You can’t leave someone wondering. You have to tell him. Yet here I don’t have the guts to tell Carla that I don’t want to sell her makeup! What is wrong with me? When did I turn into a sissy?

She called this morning. Busted! I didn’t even have a story ready. I stammered through some small talk, dreading the question that I knew was to come. “Have you thought about the makeup?” she asked.

“You know, I really need to focus on my job search right now,” I told her. (Southern code for “No! I don’t want to sell makeup!”) She graciously withdrew, but I was knackered. And she left me with a standing offer to “bring some samples by.” Oh man.

And then he threw up the sash

posted Mon, 14 Aug 2006

This morning at boot camp, Tony was talking about the white-water rafting trip a bunch of boot campers had taken this weekend.

Tony: “Y’all know Darnell, that black guy in the 5:30 class with the dreadlocks?” [Because there are so many white guys with dreadlocks in the 5:30 class. But whatever.] “So he brings his friend Rico with him. Well. We’re on the outfitter bus to the putting-in point.”

“We need to pray for Wanda.”

Me: “Is that a technical rafting term?”

Tony: “Yes, it is. Darnell is sitting next to me and Rico is across the aisle. He’s leaning forward with his arms wrapped around the seat in front of him. He’s looking green. Now y’all know that for a black man to look green, it’s pretty bad. I turn to Darnell and ask him what’s wrong. He tells me that he and Rico went out drinking the night before. Rico even had a head start! He had a few beers, then a McFlurry, then he and Darnell got down to the heavy drinking.”

Chorus: “A McFlurry!”

Tony: “So Rico Suave, as we called him for the rest of the trip, opens the window and blows. Problem was that the window behind him was open, too, and the teenage girls sitting behind him, who were not part of our trip – well, you can guess what happened.”

Chorus: “Gross!!!”

Tony: “When we stopped for lunch, we gave him a hard time. ‘Hey, Rico! You gonna eat that BBQ sandwich?’ He still wasn’t any better. Well, the men gave him a hard time. The women were all, ‘Oh, Rico, you poor thing!’”

Richard: “Yeah, they want to make him feel better, even though it’s his own stupid fault for getting drunk the night before.”

Tony: “Exactly! It’d be one thing if he had the flu, but he was hungover! Men will cut you to your face when you do something stupid. But women are all sympathetic and sweet.”

Kevin: “Like, ‘Ooooh, Rico, what happened to make you want to drink?’”

Me: “Not always. Women might by sympathetic to men, but they’ll be straight with other women.” I try to think of an example. None come to mind. I am forced to admit the truth. “OK. Women will be sympathetic to your face, but then talk about you behind your back.”


Tony: “Yes! Men will say it right to your face, but women will stab you in the back.”

Me: “Yeah, you’re right. Which is why I’d rather work with men than with women. Men at least let you see them coming with the knife. Women pretend to be your friend while they are stabbing you in the back.”

[Conversation degenerates into chaos]

Oh yeah -- and trees are a CROP

posted Sat, 12 Aug 2006

Save me from environmentally aware kids. Who is brainwashing them, anyhow?

I usually like kids. They’re cute. They’re fun. They belong to someone else.

For instance, when I had lunch with Nicky the other day, Maddie introduced herself by announcing, “I’m four” and holding up four fingers, the oral and visual equivalent of the written “four (4).” (Which, frankly, I’ve never understood. If you don’t know what “four” spells, then you really shouldn’t be signing any legal documents anyhow. You probably shouldn’t be operating in the adult world. But keep using those extra words and use more paper. It increases the probability that I’ll have a pension).

When I looked at her and said, “You are a big girl!” she nodded solemnly, held the fingers up again and assured me, “I’m four,” just so there would be no mistake, lady. I’m not a three year old and don’t you forget it. I demand all the rights and privileges that go with being four. Now get me a gin and tonic and snap to it.

She was an absolute delight and I was charmed by her presence.

But earlier in the week, when I was at a party exchanging gardening stories with those of like mind (gardening can unite conservatives and liberals alike and is probably one of the few safe topics when you don’t know the politics of those around you and would rather avoid that minefield) and said idly that I would be happy for a pesticide that kills squirrels, as I have not had a single fig from my tree – I’m the one who pays the mortgage, I’m the one who pays the property taxes, I’m the one who pays the water bill, but the darn squirrels eat MY figs – the eight-year-old boy within earshot exclaimed in horror, “But that would kill everything! All the birds and the butterflies and the bees!” His little lower lip started to tremble and there was a quiver to his voice and my heart hardened.

I rolled my eyes and snapped, “You’ve never tried to grow your own tomatoes or figs, have you, sonny? Well let me tell you something! Grow up and smell the coffee, kid! It’s war out there and it’s not a pretty sight! If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

OK, I didn’t say that. What I did say was (I did roll my eyes), “I mean a pesticide that would kill just squirrels.”

“But if it’s strong enough for squirrels, it would kill everything else! Pesticides are bad!”

“Look, this is my dream pesticide, OK? I want one that is squirrel-specific!”

What on earth are they teaching kids these days? Where do they think food comes from, anyhow? Don’t they know that squirrels are just rats with bushy tails? Who is brainwashing these kids? Pesticides are good! Am I the only one who read the Little House on the Prairie series and knows about the locust swarms eating entire crops of wheat? Don’t you think Pa would have liked to have had locust-killing pesticide?

Without pesticides (and their cousins, herbicides), we wouldn’t have this abundant, bug-free food supply. Without pesticides, eight-year-old boys would be spending their after-school hours picking the bugs out of cotton or weeding the cornfields rather than getting fat playing video games.

Maybe I need to design a video game where bugs, squirrels and deer are the enemy just so kids get it.

High roller

posted Fri, 11 Aug 2006

So do you think it was a good move or a bad one that I ate with the fork that I knocked to the floor rather than getting a clean one when I had lunch with Important Networking Person yesterday? I didn’t know about the booger, so I didn’t know I already had a strike against me.

We met at this little Italian dive in the mall downtown – the Italian place where the illegal Mexican immigrants (or maybe Guatemalans – they have Mayan faces) work. There are genuine Italians running the place, but Mayans also work there. Go figure. Except it’s not that much of a mystery, really. Find me a restaurant without illegal Mexican or Central American immigrants and I’ll show you France. They import their illegal immigrants from North Africa.

We each ordered a slice of pizza (it made me think of that great line from “The Devil Wears Prada” – when the original Emily wails, “And you eat carbs!”), I grabbed the plastic silverware, which, technically, should be called plasticware, and we sat at a booth. Then I, in a move designed to impress, gracefully swatted my fork off the table.

I thought about walking across the restaurant to get another fork, but I am so out of practice walking in high heels that I was afraid I might fall. And I was hungry and lazy and really, I was not at all bothered by the idea of using a fork that had spent one point three seconds on the floor. I was bothered at the idea that VINP might be bothered, but I wasn’t bothered by the potential for germs. If my 42, almost 43-year-old immune system can’t take it by now, then I don’t deserve life.

As the fork fell, I whipped around and followed in its wake, grabbing it almost immediately. “It’s actually the five-second rule,” I said coolly, as I blew on it, then wiped it off on my sleeve. The blowing is the most important part. That wind can dislodge the plague.

VINP looked at me, shrugged and said, “Yeah. I’ve got two teenage boys at home. We get a lot of that sort of thing.”

Whew. I’d thrown the dice and come up with seven. Twelve? Whatever is a good roll. I’m not a gambler so I don’t know. I’d earned his respect. Maybe this made up for the booger.

Of course, I just mean to shoot out their tires

posted Thu, 10 Aug 2006

The main reason I support the Second Amendment is that it’s really the only way we’ll ever solve the problem of people who cut in line on the highway.

You know the ones I’m talking about – the drivers who ignore the pleading BIG ORANGE SIGNS 100 yards back that warn “Right lane closed ahead!!!!!! Move over now, you idiots! Right now! We mean it!”

The polite people like me – the planners, the list makers, the ones who never turned in a late paper in college, the ones who never lose their keys – move to the left lane immediately because well, the right lane is closing, isn’t it? We need to be in the left lane silly! Otherwise, we won’t be able to get to our final destination!

And then we notice all the people zooming past us on the right. Not for them waiting in line with the hoi polloi. No, they have places to go! They have things to do! They have cell phone conversations to continue! So they zip to the very end of the right lane, up there to where the arrow flashes and says, “I told you to get into the left lane a hundred yards ago, you moron,” and signal frantically.

And someone always lets them in.

Not me.

Yes, I am one of the mean drivers. I’m one of the punishers – the one who says, “You had your chance an entire football field ago. You could have been merging the entire time but no, you decided you were going to be a LINE CUTTER, which is one of the most un-American things you can do. Not on my watch, bucko.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m supposed to be a Christian and forgiving and all that. Well, Jesus never had to deal with construction traffic. I don’t think he’d turn the other cheek here.

White trash is as white trash does

posted Wed, 09 Aug 2006

White trash – and its synonym, trailer trash – is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with income and everything to do with attitude and action.

My neighbors are white trash. They are rich trust-fund brats who (if I were going to say “bless their hearts,” which I am not, because I dislike them that much, this is where it would go) have no raising. Despite their wealth, they might as well be named Brandon and Brianna, which are among the top five low-education white names, according to the book Freakonomics. Yes, I know I just said that white trash is a state of mind, but they might as well have the names to go with the stereotype.

Their latest trick? They put out some trash that had those white packing peanuts and the peanuts blew all over the place. There are a bunch in my yard and the other yards and have been since Monday. I’ve been waiting to see if Brandon and Brianna will clean up the mess that their trash created before I go out, but so far, nothing. I guess they’ve been too busy with not retrieving their trash can from the sidewalk and with trying to figure out how to park their four cars in their driveway and in front of their house so that their friends then park in front of my house to bother.

I once made the mistake of not putting packing peanuts in a bag before dumping them in the trash can. When the garbage was collected, many of the peanuts blew out of the trash can and into my neighbors’ yards. When I got home from work and realized what had happened, I was mortified. I spent an hour collecting those darn things. They’re not easy to get – when you get close, there is some sort of static electricity that makes them dance away from your fingers. It’s strange, but true.

I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor as myself, but I might have to find another religion that allows you to dislike your neighbors as long as you love strangers you’ve never met and don’t have to live next to.

Well bless my heart!

posted Mon, 07 Aug 2006

At boot camp this morning, Kevin asked, “Did you go to Rice?”

“Yes,” I answered, puzzled. “How did you know that?” Then I realized I was wearing a visor that says “Rice” on it. “Oh! My hat! I’m not very smart in the morning,” I joked.

Roberta chimed in. “I used to work with a guy who said one day, ‘I don’t understand why everyone here seems to know me and I don’t know them.’ We had to explain to him that his name was on his uniform, bless his heart.”

In the South, ”bless his heart” is the license to say anything you want to about someone and have it not count as being mean. “He just cain’t hold his liquor, bless his heart” or “she looks just like her uncle Bubba, bless her heart” would be considered malicious statements that translate as “he’s a drunk” and “she’s as ugly as sin” but as long as you soften them with “bless his/her heart,” you’re OK. Note that you say this about someone.

I don’t think you’re allowed to say it to someone’s face, but I’m not from here and I don’t know all the rules. I don’t remember if anyone’s ever said “Bless your heart” to me, but now I’m going to be on the lookout for it. If someone does, I will know to be insulted. If it happened, I probably thought, “Well, isn’t she sweet! What a nice thing to say!” And there I was, being figuratively slapped in the face while the speaker smiled sweetly at me the whole time.

Who knows what unspoken social code – a code specific to the South – probably specific the Memphis, maybe even the neighborhood I live in – I had broken to merit such treatment? I’ll never know. It’s not like there is a handbook they give you when you move here – “The Rules of Living in The South.” You just have to fumble your way through and find an insider friend, like Leigh from Alabama, to be your guide and even she doesn’t know the Memphis-specific rules, because as she says, she’s not from here, she’s only lived here for ten years.

Tony, who is from Arkansas, said that his mama and her friends felt completely free to gossip madly as long as they prefaced the fest with, “We need to pray for…,” as in “We need to pray for Wanda. Her husband done run off with another woman to Florider.”

“You’ve never heard such talks as they would have,” he said. “Anything was allowed as long as they said, ‘We need to pray for’ first.”

There are more direct ways of condemning behavior. “Bless his heart” and “We need to pray for” are reserved for things that are more out of someone’s control, like inherited traits, or things that happen to someone. But deliberate actions, like bad manners, require a different turn of phrase. That’s where “she doesn’t have any home training” comes in. You would use this phrase for someone who talks throughout a movie, who lets her cellphone ring in church or who doesn’t bring anything to a potluck.

Again, it’s not something you say directly to the offender; it’s something to be said to another observer of the situation or later when you are telling the story to a girlfriend or your mother. Then you drop your voice and say, almost apologetically, “She just doesn’t have good home training.” There can’t be any indignation in telling the story, indeed, there must be a note of sorrow. How distressed you are that this person doesn’t know any better than to conform to the proper rules of society. Obviously, it’s not her fault. She wasn’t raised properly. Her mother didn’t teach her. This is sad, sad, sad. We must pity her, not condemn her. But everyone understands. She’s a jerk and is not acting right.

Megan in Minneapolis writes that the vocabulary is a bit different up Nort, but the subtext is the same:

For example, if you cut in front of a Minnesotan in line at The Gap, the victim is likely to smile primly, wait until you leave the store, and then say something to the clerk at the cash register like "Some people's children Eh?" The translation of which, is understood by all parties to mean: "Did you get a load of that guy? What a freaking a-hole!" And then people nod their heads in agreement while going about their business.

It isn`t marriage that`s the triumph of hope over reason, it`s gardening

posted Sun, 06 Aug 2006

This not washing my hair every day thing seems to be working out for me. Today, I got not one but two marriage proposals. One of them was this morning before I had bathed and it was Day Four of Not Washing The Hair. (I decided to really experiment. Three days seems to be the longest I should go, but if my hair is in a ponytail, really, who can tell? In all fairness, Swain #1 had met me first on Saturday when I was still technically in Day Three, so he had already seen me in a more attractive mode.)

I don’t know if it’s the hair that’s doing it. Perhaps it’s just my natural charm. Or maybe I’ve hit a particular market segment that finds me very appealing. Both proposals came from black men in their early 40s. Maybe I’m the kind of white chick these guys have been seeking.

The first came from the Home Depot guy working in the garden department. Yesterday, he was the one summoned to answer the question, was the canna lily I had an annual or a perennial. Another customer and I had already decided it had to be a perennial because – hello! it was a canna lily! – but the cashier insisted that The System showed it as an annual. He called Swain #1 to settle the issue. Swain #1 looked at the container and the brand and said confidently, “It’s an annual.”

“Tell me what kind of flower this is,” I challenged him.

“Ummmm….,” he gulped.

“You don’t know, do you?” I asked. I turned to the cashier. “It’s a canna lily. It’s a perennial.”

So Swain #1 decides he’s my new best friend and collects the cart from behind my car when I’m done loading my zinnias, nicotianas, and canna lilies. That’s fine. Saves me from having to take it to the shopping cart place. He’s nice enough – polite and funny – but doesn’t know a darn thing about gardening, which is why Home Depot has him working in the Garden Center. (See ”Home Depot Game.”)

This morning, I decide I need more flowers. As soon as the store opens, I run back. I haven’t even bathed and I’m wearing my Walgreen's flip-flops, which shows you how un-seriously I’m taking this. Flip-flops in public? I might as well be smacking chewing gum and planning to name my children Tanner and Britney. Hello white trash land. I am also wearing one of my $5 Junior League thrift shop dresses – the one with a 5” rip on the hem. My neighbor Howard said something about the movie “Cool Hand Luke” when he saw it, but I’ve never seen it, so I don’t know what he’s talking about.

So I look like trailer trash, but it’s 8:00 a.m. at the Home Depot on Sunday morning in the Garden Center. Just whom am I going to see anyhow? Run in, run out and be done.

Guess who’s working again? Swain #1. He recognizes me, despite my being on Day Four of no washing. He tells me he knows nothing about flowers (really!) but wants to learn and can he push the shopping cart for me while I shop? Well, everyone has a price and mine is pathetically low. Not to mention I get to talk about something I pretend to know something about while someone else listens. What a deal!

Ha. Turns out he was hitting on me! He compliments my outfit (“Do you always dress so your shoes and dress and toenail polish match? You look great!”), asks if I’m married (“Yes, but the other women your age aren’t pretty”) and goes on and on. I work in that I have my wonderful boyfriend, SH, but he’s not too concerned about that. I say something particularly witty (I just can’t help myself) and he says, “Will you marry me!?”

Proposal number two came this afternoon at the Rice alumni BBQ that I organize every year. My friend “Thomas” was there. He’s a huge flirt and has hit on me as long as I have known him. Maybe he hits on me because I tell him “no.” I don’t think he’s used to that. But he proposed to me at the party this afternoon. I’ve gotten used to it from him. He proposes every time we talk on the phone, too.

What are you going to do? It’s a blessing; it’s a curse.

The Shadow knows

posted Tue, 01 Aug 2006

Look at this face. Is this the face of a – I can barely stand to say it – the face of a last-bite of chocolate stealer?

It is. It is.

She looks sweet, but don’t let that angelic face fool you. Lock up your chocolate.

I brought chocolate bars – Marks & Spencer chocolate bars – back from England to give to my friends. These are special chocolate bars – The Good Chocolate, not the cheap stuff. After lunch, I went to Lindley’s house and gave her a bar of marzipan and a bar of mint truffle. Both are delicious melt in your mouth yummy.

I tested all the flavors while we were in Bristol – I would never inflict crummy chocolate on my friends. That’s just the kind of person I am. I make sacrifices on the behalf of others, no matter how distasteful or arduous. If that chocolate had been bad, it never would have made it to the States. I would have gone through dozens of brands of chocolate, even Cadbury, which is not my favorite, to find just the right stuff for my friends.

So I brought some chocolate back for Lindley and delivered it to her today. “You don’t have to share these with anyone,” I told her emphatically as I slipped the two bars into her hands. I had checked first to make sure her two kids weren’t watching. Moms often get stuck giving the good stuff to their kids and while it’s probably important that children develop their palates, M&Ms is high enough quality chocolate for anyone who hasn’t graduated from high school if you ask me. If they want The Good Chocolate, they can buy it themselves. I didn’t want her kids to see me giving her something and clamoring for her to share it, although really, her kids aren’t too much like that, at least not unless they’ve been hanging out with The Wrong Crowd. They are actually very nice. When Lindley and I were moving stuff out of the attic a few weeks ago, her boy was very helpful and did everything I asked him to do.

But I don’t trust anyone when it comes to The Good Chocolate.

Lindley ate her lunch (I had come from having lunch with another friend) and we talked and then she decided she was still hungry. “I’ll have some of the chocolate you brought me!” she said.

This whole time, the kids had been playing in the other room. As soon as Lindley took the wrapper off the chocolate, it was as if she had blown that little whistle in The Sound of Music -- the one that Christopher Plummer used. They appeared before she had swallowed her first bite. “Can I have some?” they each begged. Lindley, being far nicer than I, allowed them each a bite. Then another bite. Me, I don’t share my chocolate. She took it back and ate some herself. Then her little girl – the seven-year-old you see above – took the bar back. She took one bite, then another bite – then, with an impish look, popped the remainder of the bar into her mouth.

Lindley’s jaw dropped. “You did not do that!” she said. “I cannot believe you just did that! That was so inconsiderate and mean! I want you to go stand in the corner right now. You are in time out. No! You go to your room and stay there!” I think she almost considered making her spit it out. I would have.

She was mad. Her little girl left. Lindley turned to me, laughing in disbelief. “Can you believe that?”

That is why you send the children out of the house before you eat the chocolate, I suppose. It’s definitely why you have male roommates when you are a single adult who can't afford the rent alone. Women roommates will find your (hidden) chocolate and eat it. Men will leave it alone. I never had any problems with male roommates. SH has chocolate in his fridge that’s been there since Christmas. Since Christmas!! And it’s Good Chocolate! OK, I am speaking theoretically here, as no one has ever stolen my chocolate, but I would probably steal it from a roommate, as I have no shame. Women roommates will also wear your clothes without asking. (This has happened to me.) Of course, the most recent woman roommate I had was my friend Rebecca, and she was great. She is going to be my roommate when we are old and everyone else we know is dead. We will run the air conditioner as much as she wants.

Back to the chocolate. This does not bode well for the future of The Good Chocolate chez Lindley. She’s going to have to find a really good hiding place and be more discreet in her eating or her little girl is going to beat her to the end every time.

Mind the gap, part 2

posted Thu, 27 Jul 2006

Imagine, if you will, an empty subwaycar on the Tube. It’s the first stop at Heathrow. People get on with their luggage. Lots of room. Some of them stand at the end of the car, others sit on the seats that line the side. Two of them – rather scruffy-looking blokes – put their backpacks on the seat next to them.

SH and I get on the Tube here as well. We have checked into an airport hotel for our last night in London and are going into town. I am sitting next to one of the backpack guys and across from the other.

As we get closer to town, the seats fill. The guy next to me takes his backpack off the seat and pulls it into his lap. The guy across from me, a twentysomething with a black eye on the mend, stares into space and leaves his backpack on the seat. It’s now standing room only. There are at least 20 people standing in the aisles, yet his backpack is occupying its own seat. Might I add that the fare is about ₤3, which is almost $6.00.

I watch him, trying to catch his eye. I stare at his backpack, then switch my eyes back to him. I want to see if he will move his backpack. Can he be shamed into it if he knows that I know that he is hogging an extra seat? But he is resolute and does not make eye contact with anyone. Nor does he move his backpack.

When I lived in Miami, I took the train to work. It was an hour and a half each way. I got on at the very first stop, which happened to be at the airport. I would put my briefcase on the seat next to me, knowing I would not get the luxury of an empty seat the entire way to Boca Raton, but hoping I would at best get to choose who sat next to me.

The strategy was to identify a woman who didn’t smell bad or look otherwise obnoxious and move my briefcase when she got next to my seat. If my timing was off, I would be stuck with someone I didn’t want standing next to me, saying, “Excuse me,” (if this was a polite person) or just standing next to my seat and glaring until I moved the briefcase. But no one, absolutely no one got away with using a seat for storage. It just was Not Done.

I wonder what the norm is on the Tube. I don’t know where this guy was from. He didn’t speak, so I couldn’t place him by his accent. Maybe a Brit would never hog an empty seat with a backpack while others were standing. Considering he boarded at the airport, odds are good that he was not British.

But what astonished me is that it was rush hour, with people crammed in for a long ride home, yet no one – not one single person – asked him to move the backpack so s/he could sit. Not. One. Single. Person. He left that pack next to him the entire time he was on the Tube. He got off before we did, so I saw the whole thing.

I almost wish I had boarded later so I could have made him move the pack. I would have, you know. And happily. I didn’t pay all that money to stand while a backpack rode in comfort.

Have you any Grey Poupon?

posted Wed, 26 Jul 2006

One of the big differences I noticed between England and the US is that the ladies’ rooms in England have walls around the toilets that go all the way to the floor. In the US, the walls stop about a foot above the floor, leaving a convenient gap for you to admire the shoes of the woman in the stall next to you or to borrow toilet paper should you find yourself in an unfortunate situation.

When I described this difference to SH, he was horrified. “You talk to the person in the stall next to you?”

“Only if she has cute shoes,” I said. “Or if I need toilet paper. But I almost always try to make sure I am in a stall with toilet paper, so that usually doesn’t happen. Don’t you talk to people in the bathroom?” I teased.

“No!” he said. “Never!”

“I’ve had complete conversations with woman I’ve never seen,” I shrugged.

Back to England. I wonder if I just didn’t see enough public restrooms or if indeed, my sample size is large enough that I may generalize and say that for the most part, English ladies’ rooms have walls that go to the floor. This is a disadvantage because not only can you not determine if the stall is occupied by bending down to see if there are feet visible, but how do you check out the latest in footwear fashion? What do you do if there is – gasp! – no toilet paper in your stall?

Is this great divide indicative of our national characters? Americans, brash and open and willing to talk to anyone, English, reserved, not wanting anyone to hear them pee, even at the cost of not seeing shoes or not having access to toilet paper. Does this improve English bowel health, do you think? Do English workers spend more time goofing off in the bathrooms at work just because they can get away with it? What are the implications here? Discuss and get back to me.

Playing by The Rules, part 47

posted Wed, 12 Jul 2006

SH has a friend – “Belinda” – who was going to “make her move” this week with a guy she has known for several years. They have each always had a significant other before, but are now both unattached. Belinda thinks the reason this guy hasn’t asked her out yet is because he doesn’t think she is interested.

“Baloney," I said. "She doesn’t need to do anything. If he’s interested, he’ll make a move. Even if she’s not interested, he’ll make a move.”

SH was the guy version of this in high school and college, but he didn’t let that stop him. Men don’t need women to “make a move.” They do not lack confidence. And if they do, do you really want them?

“But what if he’s shy? Or doesn’t know that she’s interested?” SH protested.

“Did that ever stop you?”

For the record, SH is a late bloomer. He graduated from high school when he was 16 and from college when he was 19. He was a skinny kid with funny hair and bad skin. He has since turned into a knockout, but he wasn’t exactly a chick magnet back then and the age difference didn’t help.

But it didn’t stop him. His attitude was that he had nothing to lose. The worst that could happen was that the girl could say “no.”

My theory – borne out by practice – is that a guy will let a woman pursue him and there can be a dating relationship, but it will never last and the guy will never be serious. The only relationships that might endure – in my opinion – are the ones where the guy chases. If the guy isn’t interested enough to chase, then the relationship doesn’t have a chance.

It took me many years – many wasted years and many stupid, demeaning relationships (yes, I was not always the confident, empowered Class Factotum you know today) – to figure this out. Even though my parents kept trying to tell me.

If a man is really interested, he will ask. He’ll ask even if you aren’t interested. If you say “no,” he’ll keep asking. As a matter of fact, nothing seems to generate more interest in a man than saying “no.” That one was a big revelation to me. Who knew? Nothing like turning a man down to make him like you more. Throwing all sorts of “don’t ask me out” signals at a man just drives him mad with lust. Ignoring him is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Why did I learn all this stuff so late in life?

Belinda doesn’t need to “make a move.” A little light flirting can’t hurt, but she and this guy already know each other. If he’s interested, he’ll do something about it. If he’s not interested, there’s nothing she can do.

Aggies sit down!

posted Wed, 12 Jul 2006

What is the point of spending money on a concert ticket for a seat – a chair, -- mind you, if you are not going to sit in it? That is, why buy the seat if you are going to stand for most of the concert?

I am not talking about a bunch of teenagers at a rock concert here. I am not talking about young legs. I am talking about middle-aged, relaxed-fit Dockers-wearing yuppies at the Gipsy Kings. People who can’t even be bothered to walk to the TV to change the channel. People who buy riding lawnmowers. You know – lazy people.

This was the line for the ladies’ room. No line at all for men’s. The woman behind me and I discussed potty parity. She said she had taken a feminism class, which made me stiffen immediately, but I kept my mouth shut. In her class she learned the difference between equality and equity. Equality is when there are the same number of toilets. Equity is when everyone gets to pee in the same amount of time. When we finally got into the restroom, I bent down to make sure there were feet showing in every stall. She said, “That’s the German in you, isn’t it?” Dang if she wasn’t right! And I hadn’t even told her I have German blood!

So why do they want to stand and block my view? I want to sit and enjoy the music. I don’t want to stand. I especially don’t want to stand just because everyone else is standing. Tyranny of the majority is what I call it. De Tocqueville nailed it when he warned us about it. That really is one of the dangers of democracy. The majority imposing its will on the minority. Perhaps we need to have a constitution for concerts.

Part of the problem, though, was the band itself. The Gipsy Kings are great, but they kept encouraging the audience to stand, clap and dance. They must not have realized that they were in the land of lutefisk. You know, Lutherans, Germans and Norwegians. Norwegians and Germans do not dance. They do not move their hips. They do not clap. At least, they do not do any of these things in public.

The crowd did make an effort. They got to their feet – except me, the stubborn holdout. I hate, hate, hate peer pressure. Nothing makes me dig in my heels more than to have people tell me what to do. They stood and made half-hearted attempts to clap and sway, but it was like a bunch of Episcopalians trying to sing gospel music. It was painful (yet somehow entertaining) to watch. This was not the Go-Gos concert of 1982 in the Astrodome when all the sophomore girls in my dorm danced in the aisles.

Eventually, the bands’ appeals fell on rational ears. Scandinavian/Aryan sense won out over Iberian emotion. There were a few dancers up front (mostly lithe, underdressed – it was only 64 degrees – young women hoping for – something), but the people in front of us, with one mind, thought, “We’re keeping our butts in these perfectly good seats. If we stand, we might spill our beer.”

It`s 8:00 a.m. Do you know where your dirty clothes are?

posted Wed, 12 Jul 2006

At 8:00 a.m., SH’s upstairs neighbors started the washing machine. Right on schedule. SH reported that they did laundry on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He was out of town Monday and Tuesday, so he doesn’t know if they did laundry then.

We thought this spring when they moved in that maybe they were washing all their winter clothes and putting them away (except that spring is too early to wash winter clothes in Wisconsin).

Now I think they just wash clothes as a hobby.

What is wrong with these people?

Summer days drifting away

posted Mon, 26 Jun 2006

I feel as if I’m on summer vacation.


Unemployment is that good.

Yes, I know I’m very lucky that I got a great severance package and that I have been thrifty throughout the years (some would say “stingy”), but whatever the reason, I am not forced to find employment right away for financial reasons. And I decided not to file for unemployment. I just can’t bear the idea. Maybe if I really needed the money, but I don’t.

I had thought boredom might drive me to finding a job faster, but I haven’t really gotten bored yet. There are too many books to read, too many friends to see, too much blogging to do.

I am still looking for a job and I have some hints for companies: if you have a website, post job openings on it. This is the 21st century. Don’t play coy, either, and give the phone number and snail mail address of the HR department. That’s as good as saying you don’t want people to apply for jobs. Either post the openings or don’t bother to play in cyberspace.

Oh. And if you do have the openings listed and have a search field for location, don’t make me scroll through a list of every country in the world, including Burundi, Cyprus, Laos, and the Turks and Caicos before I get to the United States. You’re a US company with US operations. It is OK to have “United States” at the top of the list. No one in this country will think any less of you for doing so.

Another suggestion – if you want someone to do English-Spanish translation and to do it properly, you’re going to have to pay more than $10/hr. Just a thought. I saw that one and decided I’d rather be unemployed.

I did go to a temp agency last week, thinking I should be responsible and find a way to fill the empty spaces with a revenue-generating activity. They wanted me to take a bilingual customer-service position that would last three to four weeks, starting today. SH and I are going to England in a few weeks (he has a business trip and is taking me with him – I like this kept woman thing), so I told them I could only give them two weeks – would that be OK? Nope. Wouldn’t work.

I was relieved. Leigh, Lindley and her kids and I are going to a “pick your own” blueberry place tomorrow. If I’d been working, I wouldn’t have been able to go! But I wouldn’t have felt I could turn down a job for just to go blueberrying for one afternoon.

I am also helping Lindley clean out her attic and her garage. It’s a lot more fun to organize a friend’s attic than your own.

I have to meet some friends for lunch tomorrow – a friend who just quit IP for a job that is paying him – get this – 40% more than IP paid. Yes.

So you see, I don’t have time to work. It would cramp my style. Maybe when school starts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seven at one blow

posted Sat, 24 Jun 2006

SH is on a mission. He has discovered some sort of wasp in my basement and he is determined to eradicate them. Me, I believe in peaceful co-existence with all of God’s creatures, so I just ignore the creatures that buzz around when I do laundry. I leave them alone, they leave me alone. We have a MAD policy. It works for us.

But SH, the liberal “we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq,” no, he’s ready to go to war. Go figure. He goes into the basement yesterday to turn off the water in preparation for replacing some – stuff – in my shower. I’m sure there’s a technical word for it but I don’t know it. It’s the thingy to make my shower stop leaking. I’m very grateful to him. But when he got down there, the buzzy bugs were awake for the summer and he was startled.

I promised I wouldn’t write about his reaction, especially as he is a ferocious cockroach killer and washing-machine repairer and auto-battery replacer. He is an excellent boyfriend with more good points than I can count. So I won’t.

But buzzy wasp-like things [mud daubers] are “not his favorite,” shall we say.

When he returned from the hardware store, he had major chemicals.

Again, these bugs have never bothered me. I just shoosh them away and go on about my bidness.

Today, he is determined to find their source and kill them dead. They say a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. I think he has reached his defining moment. (At last. I am so happy. Of course, one of the very – and many – good things about SH is that he is an engineer and can be convinced with data. The discovery of the WMDs this week gave him pause and he is definitely on board about Cuba now and thinks the Castro-lovers in the Democratic party are jerks and morons. So this wasp thing might be just what we needed to make him understand that sometimes, diplomacy doesn’t work and you have to resort to bombing the heck out of the enemy, especially when your enemy lives only to harm.)

He has spent the past hour chasing them down, trying to get a sample so he can match one to what he has found on the net. He wants to find the best way to kill them, you see.

At first, he thought they were regular wasps. Then he thought they were wood-boring wasps, which led to the obvious joke that they corner you at a party and talk your ear off about wood. Then he decided they were spider eating wasps. Now he thinks they might be mud daubers. None of the latter are human-stinging wasps.

I think he might be a little bit disappointed if they turn out to be harmless and he doesn’t get to destroy them.

Same old song

posted Fri, 23 Jun 2006

SH and I have conversations that go like this:

Me: So then I…

SH: Hit him upside the head?

Me: Yes, but…

SH: That’s so cool!

Me: I want to tell my own story!

SH: But doesn’t it show you that I’m really listening when I do that?

Me: No! You’re stealing my punch lines! People want to tell their own stories.

SH: I think it shows I’m involved and really paying attention.

Me: I think it ticks me off.

We also have conversations like this:

Me: Oh! And one time my friends Joan and Steve were visiting with their little girls, Jordan and Jillian. They were bored so I told them to move all the sod I had dug up from my front yard…

SH: Yes! You’ve told me that story before.

Me: Oh. Never mind.

SH: That’s OK. Tell me again.

Me: No.

When SH starts to tell a story I’ve already heard, I pretend I haven’t heard it before. He thinks his way is nicer. I think mine is. He says it is more of a compliment to insist on hearing a story he has already heard, but to me, that’s just patronizing. What’s the point of telling someone a story he has already heard, especially if you know he is going to jump in with the punch line? I think it’s nicer and far more polite to keep your mouth shut and listen to the story again. Unless, of course, you don’t want to hear it again, in which case you say, “You’ve told that damn story about a gajillion times. Would you give it a rest already?”

The Best BF in the world -- he can fix things

posted Mon, 19 Jun 2006

SH wins the Best Boyfriend of the Year Award.

Our plane left Boston at 1:20 yesterday afternoon. We arrived at my house at 7:00 pm. I was bone tired because we had stayed up past midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then gotten up at the crack of dawn on Sunday so we could fit in some more sightseeing before we left. (Well, not really the crack of dawn as dawn is about 4:30 a.m. this time of year in Boston, but it might as well have been – 7:00 a.m. feels like the crack of dawn when you have been up until midnight the previous three nights)

Yes, it was my idea and SH was a great sport to go along with it. He is not an early riser. As a matter of fact, he was completely surprised that there was already a line at 9:00 a.m. at this breakfast place he’d read about. “I thought there wouldn’t be anyone up at 9:00!” he said in sincere surprise. Apparently, he is usually still asleep at 9:00 on Sunday. That makes sense, though, because I have gotten emails from him that he has sent at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. (How will this relationship ever endure? you are asking yourselves. It’s not just their politics that are opposite but their hours.) So it didn’t occur to him that normal people are already up and moving by 9:00 a.m. Why, me, I’ve usually been up for at least two and a half hours by then, if not longer.

So. We got to my house at 7 and I was sleepy, sleepy, sleepy. I had planned to take SH’s car to boot camp this morning (remember we drove here from Indianapolis last week – SH is going to drive back to Milwaukee next week) because the battery on my car is dead. Sears has some scam going there, huh? Sure, they’ll pro-rate the cost of the new battery when your Diehard battery dies before five years, but it’s getting to be a bit of a hassle buying a new battery every three years. Not to mention not knowing where your battery is going to die. Fortunately, mine died at the body shop. They charged it for me, then it died again at my house, where I had SH’s car waiting.

I went to bed at 9:00. SH was working on some emails from work. When I woke up this morning at 5:40, I found a note: he told me that he had gone to Wal-Mart last night to buy a new battery and that my car was now running just fine.

Two things: the nearest Wal-Mart is 20 miles away and SH thinks Wal-Mart is the evil empire.

[Just goes to show you that when liberals compromise their principles, they improve their lives – they get better prices. And, as noted in Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy they also they avoid paying taxes on their estates, they educate their children in private schools, they avoid paying union and minimum wages. When conservatives compromise their principles, they hurt themselves: they do drugs, go to prostitutes, pose naked.]

So he went to Wal-Mart, the store he loves to hate, and drove a long way to do so. Then he stayed up late to install the new battery. He didn’t get to bed until after midnight.

All this to put a new battery in my car.

I think he deserves the Best Honey Award.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gift horse, Trojan horse

posted Fri, 16 Jun 2006

Remember what I wrote last week about how men and women (OK, SH and Leigh) accept gifts differently? It even happened again the other night when I gave Leigh a cheap little key ring from Indiana. She hadn’t read my post – she’s been super busy at work – so she wasn’t acting as she thought I expected her to act, but she still oohed and aahed over this little keychain. It was a cute pig riding a tractor and when you shook it, little sparkles came down. Totally corny, but Leigh accepts gift well. She makes the gift giver feel great.

So I have just finished this book by John Stossel, a reporter on 20/20, a guy I have never heard of on a show I have never seen, called Myths, Lie, and Downright Stupidity -- excellent book – I highly recommend it – and he has a section about how boys and girls are different. They did a test:

We brought brightly wrapped gifts into the room, and told the kids they could each pick one. Following Dr Leaper’s advice, we had filled each box with a truly disappointing gift: socks and a pencil. Again, the girls were so polite.

Stossel: So what do you think of the gift?
First girl: Good.
Stossel: Come on, isn’t this kind of a lousy gift?
Second girl: Oooh.
Stossel: Oooh? Ooo, what?
Second girl: Just what I needed, socks and a pencil.

These girls obviously had social skills I lack. Anyone who gives them a gift is going to feel good about it. The boys were not going to make me feel good.

First boy: What? Socks and a pencil? Rip off!
Second boy: Who needs socks? I got plenty of socks at home!

Who wants to give a present to these boys? Not me.

Too dumb to live

posted Thu, 15 Jun 2006

Overheard on the plane to Boston

Man behind me: What are you eating?

Woman behind me: A chicken sandwich

Man: That's disgusting!

Woman: Why?

Man: I don't eat anything with feathers.

Woman: Why not?

Man: It was alive once!

Woman: Yes, I suppose so.

[long silence]

Man: I eat fish.

Woman: They were alive.

Man: That's different.

Which is why peace in the Middle East will be very difficult

posted Thu, 15 Jun 2006

[I don't have the photo any more, but imagine two trash cans on the sidewalk. Proceed.]

This is the view from my front porch. You are looking at my white-trash neighbors’ house. Notice the garbage bin on the sidewalk? It’s Thursday. Trash day is Monday. City ordinance says that you are supposed to put the bin out after 5:00 on Sunday and bring it back in before Monday night, but these neighbors leave it on the sidewalk all week long.

Why? Because they are lazy trust fund brats, that’s why. (They don’t even mow their own yard. Their Christmas lights are still up.) They don’t care if they get fined, I suppose, because daddy pays it. The family to the west had to put double-paned windows in their house because they (the white trash kids) are so noisy. They stay up all night long with their friends, making noise and playing music. You can do that when you don’t have to work for a living. (This is the only valid argument for the estate tax that SH has presented me – to prevent trust-fund brats. Unfortunately, most trust-fund brats are created while their parents are still alive, so an estate tax would still not prevent these people. We have to count on their own stupidity to eradicate them.)

Yes, I am in general against the government telling people what to do, but remember, the rule is that people can do what they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. Leaving a trash can out is an eyesore that affects my enjoyment of my property and affects my property values. It’s small, but it’s something that we as a community have decided is important. We have standards about how we will do things. You can’t run around naked, you can’t leave your car up on blocks, you can’t run a business out of your house in most neighborhoods. It’s how things are done. If you don’t like it, change the statutes.

But they still leave their trash can out so they have room for their four, sometimes five cars in their driveway. Four cars – for two people. Sheesh.

So I have been able to get a little bit of revenge this week. Small revenge, to be sure, but revenge nonetheless.

When their many slacker friends come over, they park in front of my house. They don’t bother to park in front of the white trash house, no, they park in front of my house. Now, it’s not like I am using the space in front of my house, but you know, there is space in front of the white trash house. Why not use it? Why do they have to park in front of my house? What if my friends come over? Where are they supposed to park?

But with SH’s car here this week, I have had a car parked in front of my house. And I’ve made sure it’s been parked smack dab in the middle of the front of my house so there’s not room for someone to park in front or in back of it. If done properly, there’s room for two cars to park in front of my house, but if done really properly, only one can be there and leave room for me to get into the driveway. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Take that, lazy, trash-can-leaving, parking-space-stealing, noisy, oxygen-stealing Paris-Hilton wannabes.

(I moved SH’s car into the carport this morning – that’s why it’s not in the photo.)