The “Eleven-dollar Nap”

Recently we, Fang and I, have seen a few movies. We’re not big moviegoers. Sure, we talk about going to the movies a great deal. But then, and mostly because we have to put on pants and, often in this weather, boots, we just don’t go. Pants, as anyone who wears them regularly can tell you, require both zippering and buttoning, boots need lacing. On the weekends, who wants to be bothered with all that dressing? Not us, that’s who.

There are also considerations regarding driving—and parking. Do we want to go to the closest theater, which is located in one of the biggest malls in the country, and have to deal with the parking? Or, should we drive a greater distance to the theater with more ample and convenient parking? What about the second-run theater? No. You have to parallel park on the STREET there! On a Saturday! Sometimes it’s all too much.

Don’t even get me started on the whole concession thing. I like my popcorn with butter. Fang does not. Sometimes Fang does not even want popcorn. I consider that heresy. I like diet soda. Fang does not. We can’t share. It adds up, the snacking does. And, we’re cheap. Twenty-two bucks just to get in to see the movie on top of the cost of the food. That’s not nothing.

These are real concerns for the pathologically cheap and lazy. If by some miracle we have managed to don appropriate attire, there are still other obstacles. There is always an excuse not to spend money, not to leave the house.

So, what’s changed? Well, a few things. First, there’s Facebook. Everyone and their brother is always talking about the latest Superhero movie or some groundbreaking indie that you HAVE to see. Neither Fang nor I is immune to peer pressure, even at our advanced ages.

Second, we have become extremely out of touch with pop culture. We have a twenty-year-old. This, for those of you unfamiliar with these creatures, is an age group that is extremely in touch with pop culture. She is no different, our dear, sweet Fangette. As Fang and I are not about to take to Snapchat or to embrace hip-hop, we chose to seek common ground through other forms of entertainment. Seeing the same movies, discussing them with her, is our way “in” to at least a small part of her world. That’s worth leaving the house for.

Third, when there are no baseball games to watch, Fang and I tend to go our separate ways after dinner. We don’t watch many of the same television shows. He enjoys house flippers and procedural dramas. I am more of a Masterpiece Theatre person. We felt like we weren’t taking full advantage of the time we have to spend together. Simply going to the grocery store as a team wasn’t cutting it.

So, in the spirit of togetherness, we agreed to get our asses out of the house on Saturdays and do something more meaningful than weighing our paper towels options or kvetching about the nerve of some companies to only give you TEN K-cups instead of TWELVE in a box! Fang, for the record, is NOT a fan of THAT!

If you were required, by law, to get a tattoo of the sentence you utter most often, Fang’s would read: “You gotta watch these companies like a hawk, I tell ya!” Mine would be somewhat saucier.

The fact that Fang notices such a thing and that it creams his corn is, for those of us who know him, extremely out of character. Not because he isn’t frugal, he is. No, it’s more  because he has a tendency to be good-natured. He’s a shrug your shoulders and move on kind of fellow. He doesn’t get worked up.

Outside of watching baseball, my husband’s favorite pastime would be napping. If he can work in a Saturday afternoon nap, he has “won” the weekend. If he manages to nap AND watch baseball, it is his equivalent to winning the lottery.

I have to tell you that I was a little surprised when he agreed to embrace my togetherness scheme, to give up his Saturday afternoon nap and join me at the movies. Until, that is, he slipped up, which put me on to his ingenious master plan.

I don’t know how I missed it. The signs were there. I just wasn’t paying attention.

The fact that he insisted on going to a certain movie theater should have been my first clue. Why? Because this is the movie theater with the reclining seats. Reclining seats are conducive to movie-watching, I’ll give you that. But this theater has a host of problems.

The seats are the only thing that make this theater palatable. It’s kind of dingy. The concession stand gives me pause due to the general unkemptness of the lobby. The clientele is slightly trashy; every time we go there we witness some type of altercation, either between patrons or between patrons and staff. You have to basically cross a highway to get from the parking lot. There is nowhere close by to grab a bite to eat.

Still, he kept insisting that we go there. “Let’s go there, hon. I like the seats.” Yeah. He likes the seats. Not because they make movie-watching more enjoyable, but because they make napping easier!

I caught on to the fact that he was napping during a recent showing of “La La Land”. To be fair, I, myself, may have closed my eyes once or twice during that movie, but my husband was out cold and full-on snoring. Loudly. I had to nudge him. And pinch his nose. At least these activities kept me awake.

I had to admit that I admired his ability to fall fast asleep in a crowded movie theater. I had to admit that the movie, despite the hoopla surrounding it, was not as entertaining as I would have liked it to be. I had to give him points for trying and kudos for wanting to hang out with me.

Now I no longer ask him if he wants to go to a movie. Instead, I laughingly inquire whether or not he would like to enjoy an “Eleven-dollar Nap”? He can’t get dressed fast enough. Its a win-win for both of us!













What? Me, Worry?

A&RphotopolaroidLast night in the midst of what amounted to more than the usual mayhem, my husband, the always relaxed Fang, looked me straight in the eye and said, “You really need to stop worrying about everyone and everything.” He then proceeded to roll over and sleep soundly.

In what I consider a testament to my evolution as a human being, my first reaction to this blithe and breezy, but in no way feasible piece of unsolicited advice, was not how easy it would be to smother him with one of the many pillows that litter our bed, thereby giving me far less to worry about now or ever again. Sure, prison would bring it’s own set of anxieties, but at least I’d get three hots and a cot. Plus, I’d be relieved forever more of being expected to handle all the bullshit that litters the terrain that I call my life.

For example, if my darling daughter, the budget-challenged Fangette, needed me to pull $13,000 for college or $50 for the amusement park out of my ass, I’d be off the hook. “Sorry, dear, Mommy’s in prison. Our currency is cigarettes and matchsticks here in the pen.”

It wasn’t lost on me that when the thought of the ease with which he could be asphyxiated skittered around the outskirts of my roiling brain, it hit me that he gets more worked up over the number of pillows that I keep on the bed than he does about what most people would consider important things. Perhaps it’s because he sees these pillows for what they could, one day, become — weapons of his destruction.

Perhaps he’s more like me than he cares to admit, which accounts for why he is troubled by the pillows. It’s possible that he, too, knows that no one is really ever safe anywhere — even in their own beds.

In my defense and to his credit, let me just say that my husband is, as he should be, secure in the knowledge that he isn’t sleeping aside of a homicidal maniac. He and I both know that I only fantasize about going on killing sprees. (And, really, would one murder be considered a “spree”? I think not.) Truthfully, if I were ever to truly snap and resort to violence of a physical nature, he knows that most days his name wouldn’t be on the top of the list of people who, in my estimation, might just deserve a good, old-fashioned smothering. A bitch-slapping maybe, but a full-on smothering? Probably not.

In the past week I have been confronted with some worrisome stuff. Topping the list is the sudden illness of a parent and an unexpected $2,000 deficit in our Project Graduation budget. In light of having real, actual things to worry about, the mouse in the kitchen and the usual work-related bullshit tumbled a little further down list. As things of this nature are wont to do, though, they still made it to the hit parade. And, really, either of them could rise, with a bullet, at any given time depending upon whether or not the conditions are conducive to their doing so.

Like, for example, if the mouse manages to skitter across my bare foot on his way to snacking on the cat’s food. I’ve moved the cat’s food to higher ground, but I’ve got a fairly resourceful mouse on my hands here, folks.

I am also of the opinion that this creature has been put on this earth simply to test me. I’m Wiley Coyote to his Roadrunner. I’m Elmer Fudd to his Bugs Bunny. He is the fly in my ointment.

Really. I’ve cleaned. I’ve strategically and fastidiously sealed up holes with steel wool. I’ve installed humane traps. I’ve got a cat. I don’t know what more, outside of beating it over the head with a broom, I’m supposed to do to rid my kitchen of Harvey.

Yes. I’ve given him a name. And that name is Harvey. Why Harvey, you ask? Because, just like Elwood P. Dowd in the Mary Chase play of the same name, I’m the only one who has, outside of the cat, seen the stupid thing. During these sightings, rare though they may be, the cat and I have had the same reaction — we both run like hell in the other direction. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is not a very effective method of rodent removal.

At least the cat has an excuse. He’s just an idiotic cat with zero hunting instincts. I, however, like to think of myself as a sentient being. As such, I would like to be dealing with this problem in a more rational manner. And, it’s pissing me off that I’m not. Worse, I know that in the scheme of things and in light of everything else that’s going on, the foolish mouse shouldn’t even be on my worry radar. But, he is.

The teenage daughter? She’s always on the radar. It isn’t that she’s doing anything to deliberately make me crazy, she’s just up to the usual bullshit that teenagers get up to. She’s just living her life. Still, it would be nice if she would sit quietly in her room and needlepoint a sampler, where I know she’s safe, rather than gad about with her friends for weekends of underage drinking and general debauchery or spend her time running up and down the New Jersey Turnpike — where there are far too many trucks that could overturn at any time!

Why was she as recently as yesterday careening down this famously unsafe highway? To visit an amusement park. AN AMUSEMENT PARK! Any place that has rides — amusement parks, piers, carnivals, even the local park — tend to make me jittery. I don’t even like being near them. One of those giant steel cars tethered in octopus-like fashion to a creaky arm designed to whip passengers at high speeds out over the crowds below them could, at any time, snap off killing not just the individual who willingly strapped herself into the monstrosity, but also the folks standing in line for a frozen custard a couple of yards away.

Fangette did not skip school to enjoy a custard or even, as much as she loves them, a delicious funnel cake. No. She was there specifically to experience the thrill of dangling hundreds of feet in the air while she trusted gravity to throw her upside down all the while dizzyingly hurtling her small, but still intact, body along what, relatively speaking, appear to be microscopically thin metal tracks. This, my friends, is her idea of a good time.

So that you aren’t left with the wrong impression of the normally angelic Fangette, let me just say that she doesn’t make a habit of riding giant roller coasters or spending wild weekends in the woods — woods that we all know could be harboring any number of axe murderers or that have been known to spontaneously combust without warning. Her woodsy adventures have been, as far as I know, anyway, limited to just that one time. It just so happened that, as luck would have it, her timing could not have been worse. Her crazy weekend just had to coincide with the weekend that my mother was rushed to the hospital for what turned out to be a fairly serious surgical procedure. Of course it did.

My coworkers are probably delighted that I have so many other things to occupy my mind at the moment. Because it means that I could almost care less about their nonsense and foolishness. I have to work with a drug addict today? Okay. So be it. I don’t care. On second thought, maybe she’s got something good. Maybe if I ask nicely she’ll be inclined to share?

I do need to take my husband’s advice. I really do. I just do not know how. I suppose I should start by dropping my coworker from my list of “people and things I worried about today”. I could also spend less time concerning myself with Harvey. Taking these steps would make for a fine start on my road to become a reformed worrier.

I don’t know how I’ll approach not worrying about my mother and, by extension, my father, though. I don’t think there’s an “off” button for that one.

I’m fairly certain that I will always worry about my daughter. Perhaps, though, I can try to worry about the big stuff more and the little stuff less? After all, millions of people travel the NJ Turnpike every year, ditto for visiting amusement parks, and weekending in the woods. Most of them do so without every encountering an overturned tractor-trailer, being thrown from a roller coaster, or being involved in methane gas-induced swamp explosions.

The rational part of my brain knows all of this. Still, my mind always seems to wander into “worst case scenario” territory. Is there, I wonder, an “off” button for that?

Domestic Weaponry 101: Corned Beef and Nail Polish


Fang and I are currently in the midst of one of those trying periods that occur in any long-term relationship. We’re on each other’s nerves. (Or, at least I think WE are — he’s certainly on mine.) To put it mildly, yet bluntly, I think that we’d like to punch each other in the face.

Luckily, we’re both pacifists. What we both have going for us, in addition to our basically non-violent natures, is that neither of us has had much, if any, experience with hooliganism of any kind — throwing and, more importantly, landing punches is not, thankfully, in our respective wheelhouses. Frankly, of the two of us, over the course of our lifetimes, I’ve probably been involved in more brawls than he has. Plus, I have no problem fighting dirty. Fang is, by far, the more civilized person in this relationship.

I do, however, take some small comfort in knowing that if, let’s just say, push came to shove, I would likely emerge victorious. Even though I’m taller and I may even outweigh him, he’s a man and is, therefore, physically stronger. To make up for this, to even the playing field, I would have to resort not only to the element of surprise, but to hair-pulling and eye-poking, as well. It’s not that I’m above those sorts of things, it’s a simple matter of knowing that, ultimately, such a victory would be hollow. Because, really, where do you go from there?

I imagine the answer to that question is divorce court or jail. The adrenaline rush that I’d get from taking him out would not, at the end of the day, be worth either of these things. Sadly, this is what truly stops me from acting on my more aggressive tendencies. I make no claims to being the bigger, better person, I’d simply like to remain at liberty and in my relationship — a relationship that will recover its footing. It’s done so many times before. It has, in fact, survived worse.

There are other, more subtle ways, to annoy my husband that don’t require stooping to face punching. Why use your fists when you can use your wits? To this end, I have big plans for tonight!

First, I’m going to make corned beef — a dish that he not only hates to eat, but that he hates to smell cooking. I usually, regardless of the outside temperature, open up all the windows while it’s simmering so that the smell dissipates before he gets home. Not tonight, though. Oh, no. Tonight I’m going to hermetically seal the windows if I have to. I’m going to capture the odor so that he will be attacked by the smell of cured, pink beef roiling away in a pot of boiling water the minute he opens the front door. HA! Take that, I say!

I’m going to serve him a large portion of meat and a very small potato. This way, he won’t be able to take small, delicate bites of the meat followed by a large hunk of potato — his tried and true method of masking the taste and texture of his most-hated meat product. I’ll bet you’re asking yourself, “Why does he eat it at all? Why doesn’t he just have something else?” The simple answer to that is that he is a man and, as such, cannot think along these lines. He eats what is put in front of him. It doesn’t even occur to him that he has a choice. I suspect that he’d eat antelope if I cooked it. He’d bury it in the side dish, but he’d eat it.

Instead of immediately washing the cooking pot, I am going to leave it on the stove where the fats that were rendered from the corned beef will, undoubtedly, congeal into a nice, hot, stinking mess. I’ll know I’ve won the day when I hear him gagging.

I won’t stop there, though. Oh, no. More gagging must be induced.

To this end and to add to what will surely be shaping up to be quite the idyllic domestic scene, I will drag out the nail polish AND the remover — an act that will send him scrambling. The minute anyone in a two-mile radius employs these products, Fang carries on to beat the band — “Do you have to do that NOW? Do you have to do that HERE?”

He then puts his hands over his face, jettisons out of “his” chair, and runs for cover. He looks like a toddler who, upon realizing that he is far outnumbered in a snowball fight, makes a sad attempt at hiding behind a scrawny tree for protection. Sometimes, and if I’m lucky tonight will be one of those times, he even shrieks like a toddler as he is trying to get away. It’s both ridiculous and delightful.

When you have weapons like these in your arsenal, who needs to throw a punch?

photo credit: corned beef

How I Watched “Downton Abbey” (or Why “Togetherness” May Be Overrated!)

highclereAt some point late Sunday afternoon — I believe it was in the few minutes between the end of the first wild card playoff game and the beginning of the second — Fang asked me whether I thought he could “catch up” and watch “Downton Abbey” with me. To be honest, I just kind of shrugged him off. I think I may have foolishly said something along the lines of “I guess so”.

It’s not that I’m not willing to hop on board when Fang makes suggestions for activities that we can participate in together. Usually, though, he’s more interested in getting me to do the things he likes rather than making attempts to join me in the sorts of things that I like.

Truthfully, I didn’t take him seriously when he asked me about “Downton Abbey” — mainly because our television viewing habits couldn’t be more different. I’m all about keeping up with the Granthams, he’s more about keeping up with the Kardashians.

When, in the intervening hours, he didn’t bring it up again, I was, frankly, relieved. I had been looking forward to watching the US premiere of one of my favorite programs for quite a while. My excitement had even led me to create and pin this:

downton pinterest meme blogpost

Imagine my surprise, then, when Fang moseyed into the bedroom at 8:53 PM — only seven short minutes before broadcast time — and announced that he was “ready”. “Ready for what?”, I asked him, with what I’m certain was no small amount of panic. Fangette had headed off to the movies. For a brief moment I feared he had some amorous adventure in mind.

I’m not a prude nor am I necessarily averse to a “quickie”, but I had planned on popcorn and a quick trip to the bathroom before settling in and seeing how the folks at Downton were doing in the aftermath of Matthew’s untimely, sudden, and shocking death. Poor Mary! Poor Cousin Isobel! And what of the baby? I didn’t even know his name yet!

There simply would not be enough time to indulge my husband’s sudden libidinous desires! As it turned out, he wasn’t, when he announced his readiness, referring to matters of a sexual nature. What he meant was that he was ready to be brought up to speed on the program. You know, so that we might enjoy it together.

What?!?! Was he crazy?

Was he kidding me? The jury may still be out regarding his mental state, but he was seriously expecting me — in three minutes (what? you thought maybe I’d given up on the popcorn and the potty?) — to give him a crash course on the characters.

What you need to know about Fang is that he has a hard time remembering the names of his own relatives. He has not yet committed mine to memory, even after nearly thirty years together. This was going to present somewhat of a challenge — even for me — fast talker extraordinaire.

Instead of spending the three minutes that were now left before the start of this much anticipated programming by pointing out to him that engaging in this tomfoolery would be an exercise in futility and, thereby, creating a hostile environment, I chose, instead, to launch into the following synopsis:

Let’s focus.
Listen up!

It’s about the Crawley sisters.
There are three of them.
Mary, Sybil, and Edith.
Their father is The Earl of Grantham.
Their mother is Elizabeth McGovern.

I thought they were British.
Isn’t Elizabeth McGovern American?

Yes and yes.
Stop Interrupting.
The Earl needed money, so he married a rich American woman.
But, Elizabeth McGovern’s a good actress. She certainly could have played British. She played a hooker in “A Handmaid’s Tale”.

The Earl married a rich, American hooker?

That was a different movie.
Stop getting me off track.
Where were we?

Elizabeth McGovern not being a hooker.

Anyway, she plays Cora who’s married to Robert.
He’s the Earl of Grantham.
They are the parents of the Crawley sisters.

Mo, Larry, and Curly?

Shut up.
I thought you were serious about wanting to know this stuff.

I am.
I’m sorry.
I promise to be good now.
Go on.

Oh, my God.
Two minutes.
You’re killing me, dude.

So, lady Mary married her cousin, Matthew Crawley who, as it turns out, was also the heir to the estate.
Before you ask, he was a distant cousin.
Before you ask, no, Mary could not inherit the estate.
Because she was a woman.
The laws of primogeniture still applied even into the Twentieth century.
I’ll explain them later.
She just couldn’t inherit.
We’ll leave it at that for now.

I can see you’re going to get hung up on this inheritance business.
We need to move on to Sybil.

Sybil is the youngest of the sisters.
She married one of the servants.
Tom Branson.
Branson was the chauffeur.
They only had the one car at the time, so he wasn’t that busy.
He had enough time to attend to his Irish Republicanism and Lady Sybil.
Did I mention that he was Irish?
He is.
They moved to Dublin and got married.
While living in Dublin he got involved in some questionable dealings with the IRA.
Okay, I won’t sugarcoat it.
He set fire to the home of Lord and Lady Whatever — British gentry that, you guessed it, are friends of the Granthams.

He escapes back to England and seeks shelter with his wife’s family.
He left his pregnant wife to escape on her own.
Luckily, Sybil shows up unharmed.
Lord Grantham keeps Branson out of jail.
The catch is that he can never return to Ireland.

He left his pregnant wife behind?

I know.
It pissed us all off.
And the Granthams weren’t too happy about it, either.

Lady Sybil dies in childbirth.
You may remember me crying for an hour one Sunday night last year.
That was why.
Just terrible.
Nothing to be done about it.
Now they’re stuck with Tom, though.

Not altogether a bad thing, as it turns out.

In the interest of time, I’ll abridge Lady Edith.
She’s the middle one.
She’s currently involved with a married man.
She’s not a slut.
A bit of an ugly duckling with a chip on her shoulder, but not really a slut.
Well, unless you count that little thing she had with the farmer.

Anyway, the new guy, I forget his name,
His wife is in an insane asylum.
He can’t divorce her.
Stupid laws again.

That’s it for now.
I’ll catch you up as we’re watching.
When I can.
Don’t interrupt!

~~~~~ Seconds (!!!) later….

Who’s O’Brien?
You didn’t mention any O’Brien’s.
Is she one of the people whose house burned down?

She’s one of the maids.

Well, I guess she was pretty important.
It seems like they’re all going to miss her, this O’Brien character.

She wasn’t that important.
And, pretty much, everyone hated her.

I wouldn’t have guessed that based on how they’re acting about her being gone.

Well, it’s a little scandalous.

Is it?

It’s Yorkshire in 1922.
These people have very little to get excited about.
A maid leaving without notice and going to India with another family is big news, dude.
Trust me, they’re not going to miss her.
She was quite the conniver, that one.
I’ll tell you all about her later.

“Later” wound up being two minutes later — Fang just couldn’t wrap his mind around the whole O’Brien thing. He was shocked to discover the depths of her evil — remember how, back in Season One, she was responsible for Lady Cora’s miscarriage? Remember that?

Anyway, this whole commentary went on for nearly two hours. And then we had to have a lesson in primogeniture.

I’m going to have to go back and watch the show again. I’m sure I missed whole chunks of it whilst explaining, for example, who Rose was. (“No, Fang, she’s not Sybil. Sybil is dead!”) Don’t even get me started on how long it took me to explain to him that there were no priests in the cast. (“It’s not an ACTUAL abbey, Fang, “Downton Abbey” is the name of the house — English estates have names. Some American homes have names. Remember when we went to Newport?” No, Fang, “the hovel” is not the official name of our residence, but, yeah, that’s the idea.”)

Honestly, I think this togetherness thing may just be a tad overrated.

photo credit: Highclere Castle

A Few Things To Be Grateful For!

nablo13dayeighteenIt occurred to me today that I should be grateful that I live with such honest people. Otherwise, I may have gone through the rest of my life thinking that I am many things that I’m clearly not — things like competent, sane and caring. It’s a good thing I have them around to set me straight, though, I’ll tell you that!

It’s obvious to me now, thanks to their helpful, albeit unsolicited, input, that I have been a victim of my own delusional thinking for many, many years. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, most people don’t really see themselves for who they truly are.

Apparently, I’m no exception.

You may remember how recently I was accused of being unable to determine whether the ground beef I was going to serve my husband, the still alive Fang, was, in fact, safe for human consumption. Now and then I will defer to Fang in areas where he has more expertise. Food preparation is not one of those areas. The next time I find myself in need of napping advice, I’ll defer to Fang.

I may not be that well-acquainted with the best techniques or locations to get forty winks, but I’m pretty confident that I know my way around the kitchen like nobody’s business. I don’t have to be a certified USDA meat inspector or a bacteriologist to know whether or not meat has gone “off”.

The ever-delightful Fangette, in an attempt, I suppose, to be the “typical” American teenager, recently thought it best to inform me — the woman who gave birth to her, the person who has been responsible for her care and feeding for the last seventeen years — that people simply tolerate me, are nice to me because — wait for it — they think that I’m crazy. And, as everyone knows, crazy people must be placated — humored, if you will.

So, that was nice.

One of the reasons my daughter thinks I’m crazy? Because I don’t care about people.

Trying to explain to an adolescent how there is a world of difference between giving a rat’s ass about what the neighbors are getting up to or, for that matter, The Kardashians, is not the same as feeling sorry for victims of flood or famine is an exercise in futility that I have no patience for. I would argue that I can muster up all sorts of sympathy for folks who find themselves in the latter category. I would agree to having little to no interest in the former.

I suppose I’ll just have to remain incompetent, crazy, and uncaring. It seems that in order to be thought otherwise up in this joint I’ll have to take up things like deferring to my husband, throwing away perfectly good food, polling my friends regarding why they seek out the company of a deranged person, and/or take up snooping and reality television viewing.

Yeah, I’m probably not going to be doing any of that.