Renting a Person

NaBloPoMo14DayTwentyTwoI am always intrigued by the question “If you could have anything, what would it be?” I never quite know how to answer it. My first reaction is to blurt out something crazy like “Three more wishes!” and then, of course, I remember that I’m not in a situation where I’m standing in front of a genie while holding a tarnished old lamp in my hand.

The obvious answer is health or world peace, but I’m not certain that these answers get to the heart of the question. Also, they’re boring answers. I mean, everyone wants those things, right? Therefore, they don’t say much about the respondent. And, really, why bother with such an exercise if it doesn’t SAY something about you?

I could always put forth the “Mother of the Year” answer and declare that I desire for my child to become wildly successful (and, of course, happy). I would argue, though, that this, too, feels like a “cop-out” of an answer. Most, if not all, parents have these hopes for their children. Admittedly, my reasons for having this hope isn’t purely altruistic. Part and parcel of having a wildly successful child means that they will have the ability to support himself or herself. That’s a “win-win” for everyone involved, no?

I like to think of this question as being more about a material object. Is there one thing that you’ve always wanted, one thing that you would absolutely buy yourself if there wasn’t a stumbling block in the way of your having it?

My answer always comes back to household goods and/or services. Go ahead and covet that Maserati, if that’s your thing. Me? I would like to have a dishwasher. (HOW NICE WOULD THAT BE?) Or a washer/dryer right in my kitchen. (NO MORE SCHLEPPING UP AND DOWN THE STAIRS! NO MORE HOARDING QUARTERS!) Or a Dyson vacuum. (THEY ACTUALLY WORK!).

The current constraints of my kitchen make my wish for a dishwasher and/or the washer/dryer unrealistic. (You cannot completely eliminate the “stumbling block” that is a space constraint.) The Dyson is a possibility, though. I’d have to make room in the closet for it, but that wouldn’t be impossible. (My current vacuum, I’m embarrassed to say lives behind the door in my daughter’s room — not an ideal storage spot.) I would just have to wrap my mind around the price tag. Upwards of $400 for something that sucks up debris? It just seems crazy to spend that. People love them though. And, by all reports, they do an excellent job.

On the other hand, I could just hire a cleaning person. They might even bring their own Dyson, which would eliminate the need for purchasing (and storing) one myself. Plus, they would do things like dishes and, one would think, perform a basic bed-stripping.

Being a Democrat, I have to admit that I’m not fully comfortable admitting that I would like to procure a human being to do my dirty work, but it’s the truth. I would, if I could have anything I wanted, enjoy renting an actual person.

Instead of looking at this admission and judging me for the lazy creature that I am, perhaps you can all look at it in another way — I would be creating a job for someone. That is certainly a nicer way of looking at it. It also appeals to my left-wing sensibilities.




Which of the six “facts” that I posted yesterday is, in fact, a fiction?


1. I have never had a massage.
2. I purchase my underwear (and socks!) in the supermarket.
3. I have read “War and Peace”.
4. I am almost never late.
5. My dream job? Music historian.
6. I do not have a tattoo.




This is TRUE! Or, semi-true. Sure, my husband has given me the occasional back rub and this guy Anthony that I work with gives THE BEST neck rub, EVER! But a “real” massage? Never. Why? Partly this is because it feels like too much of an indulgence — of time and, yes, money. Mostly, though, it’s because the idea of it just kind of rubs me the wrong way. (Get it? Get it?)

I am the type of person who chafes at having my pulse taken. I find being touched by strangers slightly off-putting. Massages are supposed to be relaxing, right? Whenever I think about getting one all I can think about is being in a towel in front of a stranger — a stranger who is going to touch me. Not relaxing at all.

My daughter loves to get massages and has suggested that we go together over Christmas break. I told her I’d think about it. There will probably be a fire drill or something while I’m wearing nothing but a towel. Barring that, I’m sure something will strike me as strange or funny about the whole experience. If I do wind up joining Fangette in the massage room, I’ll be sure to write about it.


Sad, but TRUE! I’ve amped it up recently, broadened my horizons to include a couple of specialty stores, but when the chips are down (or the drawers have seen better days), I will resort to my old ways and pick up a package (or two!) while I’m food shopping. And, really, socks are socks for crying out loud! I’m not making a special trip to a department store or, God forbid, the mall to buy socks. Not when they sell the very same ones at the grocery store!


This is FALSE! A couple of you guessed this one — Congratulations! To those of you who think I am well read enough to have gotten through this one, I say, “Thank you”.

To be honest — and we’re being honest now, right? — I’ve always meant to read it. My reason for not having read it has long been that I couldn’t possibly tote that enormous book around with me. Given that I do most of my reading on my iPad now, I don’t have much of an excuse anymore, do I? Well, actually, I do. As I’ve never read The Russians, I recently decided to read “Anna Karenina”, as a warm-up of sorts to tackling “War and Peace”. I found it incredibly soap operish — overly dramatic. I thought that, perhaps, I had chosen the wrong book and so I tried “Crime and Punishment”. It was no better, even given its weightier subject matter.

I suppose I could download “War and Peace”. I could give it a shot. If the other Russians are any indication, though, I fear that I may be mightily disappointed. And, really, who needs that? For what? Just so that I can say I’ve read “War and Peace”? Who cares?


This is TRUE! I abhor lateness. I judge the habitually late very harshly. I don’t buy the excuse that they are bad managers of time. Constant tardiness is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of egotism. It’s a “red flag” — a red flag that may as well be emblazoned with the words “I’m the most important person in the universe”. Guess what? You’re not the most important person in my universe. What you are, in reality, is a self-centered boob who, if there is a higher power at work, will die alone wondering where the hell everyone is. That they are stuck in traffic will be of little consolation to you, a person with only minutes left to live. Karma’s a real bitch, isn’t she?


This is TRUE! I love history. I love music. Combine the two and BAM!, my dream job!

I don’t actually know if such a job description exists or, if it does, where a person who was qualified could be employed. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, perhaps? How cool would that be. Okay, I’d have to move to Cleveland, but for that job I would suck up living in Ohio. At least they have baseball. Following the Indians wouldn’t be that bad for a NY Mets’ fan, am I right? Plus, I understand that “Cleveland Rocks!”.


While many of you guessed that this was the lie, it is TRUE! I’m not opposed to tattoos. I have even toyed with the idea of getting one over the years, but I never have. I think that I have remained untatted because I have never been able to decided on what tattoo I would like to have permanently emblazoned upon my skin. Forever is a long time. And I change my mind about stuff all the time. I’m never ready to order when the server arrives. If I like a sweater (and it’s a bargain) I am the person that buys it in two or three colors and this is only partly because I am lazy, mostly it is because I can’t decide which color I like best. Of the two I always wind up only wearing one of them. Do I even need to tell you that it is always the one I was not initially going to purchase. Yeah.

Not only am I a slow decision maker, I’m a poor decision maker.  Having something indelibly inked onto your body really should be reserved for folks who are 100% certain that they will be as happy thirty years down the line as they were the day they opted for an image of Kermit the Frog smoking a blunt. I am sure those people exist. I am not one of those people. It does my heart good that many of you think that I am, though. Yeah.







GTFO: A Love Story


Like any other hip denizen of the Twenty-first Century, I, too, have come to think in acronyms. One of my absolute favorites? “GTFO”. It means, “Get the fuck out”. (If you are sensitive to vulgarities, are not from New Jersey, or are my mother, feel free to substitute the “F-word” of your choice. It’ll still pack the same punch. It’s flexible in this and in many other ways.)

I have come to use it so often (possibly too often) that a work buddy sent me the following meme and suggested that I adopt it as my own personal logo. He may also have helpfully suggested that I order t-shirts, hats, stickers, and tote bags emblazoned with it — the idea being that I could just point to it in situations, of which there are far too many, where saying it aloud might be frowned upon.


I just might do it.

Just because I cannot say it or because I have not gotten around to ordering any merchandise that would enable me to point to my newfound logo, Carol Merrill-style, that doesn’t mean that I can’t think it. I can. And I do. A lot.

The people that I come into contact with the most in my line of work who really need to GTFO are not the ones, surprisingly enough, with whom I must spend great lengths of time discussing the finer points of the fried green tomato. (They’re green and they’re fried. Enough said.) Believe it or not, I actually prefer these idiots to the idiots who order their food to go.

Frankly, I do not understand why anyone would ever order a steak to go. Why pay money for a decent piece of meat only to have it slapped into a plastic container? Unless it is being consumed in the parking lot, it must surely take on the properties — the funky taste, the delightful aroma — of this container on the ride home. Why not, I often wonder, just go ahead and gnaw on a Solo cup? Cut out the middle man altogether.

There can be almost no other way to ruin a perfectly prepared filet mignon than to let it sit in a box, if you want my opinion. Oddly enough no one has ever asked for my opinion on this subject. That’s probably because I would be delighted to share it with them or, at the very least, shoot them my best GTFO look. Same thing.

These patrons not only need to GTFO, they needed to never have CTFI (Come The Fuck In). The resentment that I harbor toward “The Take-Out Assholes”, as I affectionately refer to them, is not, truthfully, completely their fault. The fault lies more in how my company, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to handle take-out orders.

In what is possibly the dumbest corporate decision I have ever had to endure — and working in a corporate restaurant is a test of endurance — take-out orders are the responsibility of the bartender. The executives who devised this idiotic system cannot GTFO soon enough for me.

If I didn’t know any better I would conclude that none of them had ever worked in a restaurant before. I might even question whether or not they had ever eaten in one. Of course I’m kidding about the latter. The former, however, is very likely true. The people who make and then marry themselves to these decisions have either never been on the front lines or are so far removed from this experience to render it moot. The five minutes that they spent bartending or serving back in culinary school or during their restaurant management internship does not count.

I often wonder if, when this — the dumbest decision ever — was arrived at, they were holding their meeting in an opium den or a crack house. Because diminished capacity is the only explanation I can come up with as to why anyone with even a passing knowledge of how a restaurant works — and this is the crowd that is supposed to have all the answers — could even entertain the (very misguided) notion that this is a bang-up idea.

It most certainly is not.

I, for one, am finished with it. I have devised my own evil plan for dealing with all future take-out orders. And guess what? So far, it’s working.

I came to formulate this plan following a shit show of a shift in which I had to decipher no less than seven fairly large to-go orders. Yes, I said decipher. Why? Because in their opium-induced coma, one (or more) of our afore-mentioned illustrious leaders decided that the bartenders, the folks who know the menu, should not be tasked with actually taking the orders. Not that we would ever have time for that nonsense, but still that bit of business — a very important bit of business, let me just add — is taken care of by our host staff. Do I even need to tell you that these people do NOT know the ins and the outs of our menu? And, even if they did, do you think they have the time to spend fifteen minutes on the phone with someone discussing side dishes? They do not.

Throughout the course of the evening what happened with these take-out orders is what always happens with take-out orders: the people who order them come in to pick them up when I am busy. Somehow, and I don’t know how, I found the time to put a few of them together myself and breathed a sigh of relief as they and their owners left the building, happily swinging their little brown bags filled with food that was destined to be a disappointment, but what did I care? They were gone. They had GTFO. (You can substitute “gotten” for “get” in this handy acronym! Like I mentioned earlier, it’s flexible!)

The two largest orders were, I noted, sitting in the window, ready to be put together when the inevitable occurred: I got very busy. A couple decided to sit at one of the bar-top tables. I had service bar tickets hitting the floor (that’s a lot of service bar tickets!). There were no less than six guests sitting at the bar who were ready to order their dinners — meals that they had expectations of being able to order and to eat within a reasonable amount of time. I felt kind of bad for everyone, to tell you the truth. This would have been an excellent time for me to sprout another arm.

In the midst of all of this, I had to deal with The Take-Out Assholes. Was their food ready? Well, sir, that hinges upon whether or not you were planning on consuming it out of the service window. Was it going to be long? That depends on your definition of “long”, ma’am. Can I pay for it? Why, yes. We are always delighted to take your money. And, again, is it ready YET? Nope.

What I did take the time to notice in all of this was the blank line on their credit slips — the line where one normally inserts a gratuity — a gratuity for the $2.13/hour employee who is breaking her ass trying to make it so you can GTFO. That’s when I had an epiphany. That epiphany? I’m not working for nothing anymore. Because while it may seem ridiculous to your average Take-Out Asshole that a gratuity is both appreciated and, yes, expected when your food is gathered together by a tipped employee, they don’t see it that way.

What no one seems to want to acknowledge is the impact that these take-out orders have on my ability to properly serve the guests who have not only chosen to eat in the building like normal people, but who will, if all goes well, tip accordingly. It makes no sense for me to spend my time and expend my energy on hundreds of dollars worth of take-out orders with little to no hope of monetary remuneration. And, so, I won’t be doing it anymore.

What will I be doing? Why, what I did the other night, of course. What was that, you ask? I got a manager. I told him that I did not have time to deal with the orders. I did the same thing the next day. And, I’ll do it tomorrow, too. I’m assuming they’ll catch on at some point, but I don’t care. Their bonuses are based on sales. Let them deal with the take-out bullshit. If they tell me to GTFO, so be it.

Vomitoriums Smell Better Than You Do!

stinkyCalling all inventors! Boy, do I have a project for you!

No, it’s not a broom that doesn’t become dislodged from its handle with every use — the one that I’ve been carrying on about for years. It is something, if you can believe it, even more useful and, dare I say, far more marketable than the Super Broom. After all, everyone has a nose. (Even Danish astronomer Tyco Brahe, who lost his in a duel, had a tin one!) For the purposes of a prototype and, fingers crossed, funding opportunities, let’s call it “The Smellometer”. You don’t have to call it that. Call it whatever you want, I don’t care, just get on it already. We needed this thing yesterday!

More and more I am convinced that people cannot smell themselves or that they are afraid of soap and water. While even I will grudgingly admit that there is not much an invention can do to address the latter — although I hear behavior modification techniques can work wonders for these types of maladies — I have to optimistically wonder if there isn’t someone out there who could develop a device to combat the former.

When I worked in an office there was always one person who would stink up the joint with their unpleasant bodily odors or, in what I can only assume was an attempt to cover up those same odors without employing the usual methodology — bathing and/or showering with something as simple as a bar of soap — he or she, mostly this person was a “she”, would douse themselves in some type of cheap perfume (or cologne).

For those of you unfamiliar with these products, they are the ones that are very likely sold in industrial-sized bottles at the convenience store. They are the ones that, before you have registered the first whiff, but once you get within ten feet of the person wearing them, you find that your eyes have begun to water, your throat seems to be clamping up, and you’ve started to itch (from head to toe!). As an added bonus, you may be afflicted with hot, red welts following the most cursory contact with this stuff.

Still, when I encounter someone whose scent sends me running for an antihistamine, I have to give them points for trying. I remind myself that the sweet, cloying smell of their perfume is likely far better than the alternative. How, I often wonder, would they smell without it?

Like ass, that’s how. Sadly, because I work with the public, I know what that smells like. Some days I long for a return to those halcyon days when my olfactory senses were assaulted by only the one co-worker who, I was convinced, fancied themselves a descendent of The Wicked Witch of the West, so fearful were they of being covered with water that they eschewed showering.

At least back then I could gird myself for interactions with this person or devise creative ways to avoid him or her while fantasizing about taking a hose and some cleanser to their armpits. Now I can’t do any of those things (outside of the fantasizing) because I have to wait on them or, at the very least, walk past them on my way through the dining room. My fantasies have changed, though. Rather than dragging them out back, I often toy with the idea of leaving little hotel-sized bar soaps or hair products (you don’t think these people have clean hair, do you?) atop the check presenter at the end of the meal.

That’s why the world needs “The Smellometer”. To stop people like myself from losing their jobs as a result of one too many attacks on our senses. Sure, I could go around wearing nose plugs if my employer would allow such a thing. (They most certainly will not! I checked.) I’ve often wondered, if I pretended to be germ-phobic or if I produced a doctor’s note claiming to be suffering from a diminished immune system, if they could stop me from wearing one of those snazzy face masks — you know, like surgeons do! At the end of the day, I’ve decided, solutions such as these are a long way to go, plus they would require a fair bit of subterfuge on my part — and I’m no good at subterfuge, obfuscation, yes, but subterfuge, not so much. And, really, why should I have to engage in lying to combat a problem that when you come right down to it, isn’t my problem at all.

If I worked where the outside temperatures regularly topped out at over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I could understand how even the best deodorant might fail a person. If my place of employment was situated next to a coal mine, I would have to be compassionate toward the smelly mine workers. Of course if I did work aside of some sort of mine, I think I could make my case for the face mask — secondary mine dust being what it is.

Unfortunately, I live in a fairly temperate part of the country with an appalling lack of mines. This is why I need to beg for an invention that will allow people to smell themselves or, barring that, a handheld gauge (like a gas meter?) — “The Smellometer” — that could indicate whether or not a person should, in their current state of smelliness, be allowed to interact with other humans.

I have taken the time, in an effort to jump start the research, to develop a rudimentary method of measurement for “The Smellometer”. Here is a sample of what the read-outs might look like.

Smellometer Reading: 1

Congratulations! Not only have you showered, brushed your teeth, and put on clean clothes, but you have also applied precisely the correct amount of perfume or cologne. You, my friend, are fit to go to a movie theater and sit next to a stranger. You smell so delightful that people want to emulate you! I wouldn’t be surprised if you were stopped on the street (or at the movies) and asked “What’s that you’re wearing? It smells fantastic!” I would highly recommend that you alert the local department and drug stores to stock up on your brand of scent. No doubt there will be a large demand for it once you go out into the world today!

Smellometer Reading: 5

It seems that perhaps you’ve had a hard day. It is entirely possible that you are one of those people whose bodies cannot process hard cheeses, such as provolone or parmigiana reggiano. May I suggest a breath mint and, just to be safe, a ghetto shower in the nearest loo? Barring this, you may want to just go ahead and “air out” prior to having anything resembling intimate contact with the rest of humanity. I understand this may sound harsh, but trust me, you’ll thank me for it later.

Smellometer Reading: 10

I think that you may have just killed the cat or reduced the number of lives he has left to eight. Under no circumstances should you even consider coming within a hundred yards of another person — that’s the length of a football field, my friend — even one you know well, even your own mother. Vomitoriums smell better than you do! What did you have for lunch, anyway? A dead person?

Don’t Sit There!

A&RphotopolaroidSadly, it is time once again (*sigh*) for another primer on how to dine out in a restaurant. This edition will focus primarily on being seated. This is a concept that seems simple enough and, in theory, it should be. The reality is that being seated in a restaurant is fraught with difficulty. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

My theory is that it stems from that horrid adage “The customer is always right”. Truthfully, they’re not. Would you like to know why? This is simple enough to explain. They do not work in the industry and, as a result, they don’t understand how something as simple as sitting where they’re put can (and often does) adversely affect the rest of their dining experience.

There’s a reason you are being directed to a particular table. Likely it’s where you have the best chance at great service.

If you insist on sitting someplace of your own choosing and are TOLD that you will have to wait a few minutes for your server, please process that information and act accordingly. Do not wave your hands wildly or, worse, stand up when the person that you suspect is your server flies around the corner with a tray full of drinks. This behavior will probably not end well for either of you, nor for the unsuspecting guest behind you who will get a noggin full of Sprite because you HAD to make your presence known.

I know. I know. You’re special. You’re in a hurry. (Guess what? Everyone SAYS they’re in a hurry — EVERYONE!) I understand that folks like you — crazy rule breakers that you are — need the world’s undivided attention. I have an idea. Stay home where you are the King of Your Castle, A Legend In Your Own Mind. It really will be best for everyone.

For those of you who claim to have fifteen minutes for lunch, guess what? We’re on to your bullshit. Not that I think you have much sense, but I assume you can tell time. If, indeed, you only had that much time for lunch, you would have gone to a fast food joint or a deli. If your time is, indeed, limited (and, really, everyone’s time is finite on some level, isn’t it?) it would especially behoove you to pop a squat at the table where you were initially directed to sit.

What’s that? You want to watch some foolish sporting event? A sporting event that can only be seen comfortably from eight tables in the restaurant? Six of which are currently occupied? And the bar is full, too? May I suggest that the next time you go out to watch some meaningless sporting event, instead of insisting on sitting in a section where the server is clearly busy or at a bar that is obviously full and then stressing out the staff, you make it your business to leave a few minutes earlier.

Oh, wait. That’s right. The world revolves around you. You and your needs. You and your fifteen-minute lunch hour. This may come as a shock to you — you who thinks himself so special — but you are not the only American whose lunch hour falls between the hours of noon and two. You are not the only idiot who has the same bright idea to watch some foolish game that, let’s be honest, you couldn’t care less about.

Yes. I’m talking about World Cup Soccer. Every four years you crazy soccer fans come out of the woodwork. Suddenly we’ve got a nation of soccer enthusiasts on our hands. I’ll guarantee you that, by and large, you people don’t even know the damn rules. (I’ve overheard you talking and, in fact, I KNOW that you don’t know the rules!)

Here’s what I love most about you people who refuse to listen to the folks who know a thing or three about what is going on in their dining establishment. Those of you who plop your asses down and sit wherever the hell you want to sit just because you can, because you’re the customer and you’re ALWAYS right — you will spend your time with us disappointed and unhappy. Here’s a news flash for you: It’s all your own fault.

Open your eyes. Clean out your ears. Listen to what you’re being told. This is basic and something that most of you should have learned in pre-school. You probably weren’t paying attention, though.

That’s no surprise. You don’t pay attention to anything. I know. I know. You’re probably distracted by or absorbed in a game that involves a ball of some sort. (It’s not only World Cup Soccer that brings you in — sometimes it’s golf or tennis or the all-important National Ping-Pong Championships.) Even though you have fifteen minutes for lunch, you don’t have the first clue as to what you want to eat. You order things that aren’t even on the menu — clearly this isn’t your usual lunch place. We don’t have Whoppers.

Personally I can’t wait for July 14th to roll around. Not because it’s Bastille Day. Not because it’s my birthday. Because, if my information is correct, this is the date that will bring World Cup Soccer to an end. Sadly, it won’t signal an end to people refusing to sit where we put them, but it’ll help. Right now I need all the help I can get.

Just To Be Safe, Let’s Get Rid of the Chopped Meat!

raw_meat_by_thesmallwonder-d4ify2fLucky for me — and my siblings, extended family members, and the neighbors — that my father, while wacky in his own charming way, would never think to throw raw hamburger meat at me or my siblings if he was upset about our interest in our mother’s health condition. Never mind that it’s not in his nature to waste good food or that hamburgers are as sacred to him as the cows from which they come are sacred to Hindus the world over. It’s just that even he is not THAT crazy. None of us are.

For the record, we’re pretty “out there”. I would go so far as to say that we, my family, put the “fun” in dysfunctional. Today, though, is a time to be grateful that neither my father nor my siblings are in any way like Jean Kasem. (A couple of us are blonde, but that, thankfully, is where the similarity ends.)

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the ongoing saga that has, of late, played out in the Kasem family? In a nutshell, Kasey Kasem is ill with late-stage Parkinson’s Disease. His second wife, Jean, has been keeping his children from seeing him. When not allowing them into the house didn’t prove feasible, she moved him out of state and refused to reveal his whereabouts to his children. Concerned for their father’s well-being, his children enlisted the legal system to help them. Court orders were drawn up giving them the authority to check on their father. None of this, by the way, seems to have anything to do with money, for a change.

When one of his daughters arrived at the house where his wife had the poor man holed up, Jean grabbed what I suppose was handy — uncooked hamburger meat — and proceeded to pelt the daughter with it — all the while quoting bible verses. Okay, Kasems. You win. You are truly the most dysfunctional in the land. (At least for now. Who knows what those Honey Boo-Boos or Kardashians might get up to next?)

Dealing with the sudden illness of my own mother over the past couple of weeks and making valiant attempts at not upsetting the apple cart of my own family’s insanity by engaging in power struggles with my father and/or my siblings has been, at times, trying. Still, we’ve not resorted to food fights. That’s encouraging.

What we have done, which has been mildly surprising given our family penchant for drama, is risen to the occasion by playing to our strengths. Sure, there were some tense moments in the beginning, but we seem to have found our way through this particular rabbit hole without invoking crazy lines from The Good Book or hurling make-shift and, let’s face it, fairly ineffective, projectiles at each other. Score one for us!

What I’ve learned from this experience, more than just how not to use edibles in family warfare, is that we were able, when the chips were down, to behave like grown-ups. Making an already difficult situation more stressful by engaging in internecine struggles isn’t helpful to anyone. That’s easy to say, harder to do. It seems, though, that we have, in a turn of events just short of miraculous, actually managed to behave like the adults we are purported to be. Who knew?

Well, my mother for one. She was confident that we would get our shit together — for her sake, if not for our own.

Because I believe in erring on the side of caution, I have made what I believe is a fairly simple request of my mother. I have asked her to be more aware of what’s in the fridge the next time she takes ill. I have advised her that, just to be on the safe side, prior to calling for the paramedics, and, you know, if it’s not too much trouble, it might be a good idea to toss any left over hamburger meat (and The Holy Bible if she can lay her hands on it) into the trash. Just, you know, in case we find ourselves resorting to our old, childish ways. While we’ve done well during this illness, there’s no guarantee that we can be relied upon to behave, in future, any better than those crazy Kasems!

photo: raw meat

Packing Up The Old Hobo Bag


Sometimes I dream about running away. Packing up the old hobo bag and taking to the road. It’s likely I wouldn’t get far. I mean, let’s face it, your average bandana tied to a stick doesn’t hold much. It probably wouldn’t even be large enough for all of my cosmetics. And at my age I NEED my cosmetics.

The last time I ran away I wound up two blocks away at my best friend’s house. I hadn’t even had the forethought to take my credit card, let alone fashion a hobo bag. I realized the error of my ways when we, fancying ourselves an updated version of Thelma and Louise, took to the roads. We made it as far as the local Target where, much to my disgust, I had to choose between spending the $20 in my wallet on something extravagant — you know, to make A POINT to that rat bastard I’m married to — or to use some of it for a hot dog value meal at the snack counter.

I must have been hungry because I’m pretty sure I had a deluxe dog, french fries, and a large soda. I toyed with purchasing a set of Legos that were on clearance, but decided, if memory serves, on a small shelf. My husband hates when I buy shelves. I’m sure that I thought that returning home with a new shelf would make more of a statement AND more of a noise than slamming a set of Legos on the dining room table ever could. Plus, what would I have done with Legos once I got them home?

Now that I think of it, I have no idea whatever became of the shelf. It’s probably sitting at the bottom of the hall closet with all of the other shelves that I’ve purchased, but never installed, over the years. Yeah. I like buying shelves, I just don’t like hanging shelves.

My husband will have nothing to do with shelves. He’s suspicious of them. They make him nervous. In his words, he “doesn’t trust shelves”. He has deep-seated psychological issues regarding shelves. Perhaps, some time in his youth, he was standing underneath one when it fell on his head and knocked the manliness out of him.

Yes, I said “manliness” because I’m sick, sick, sick of doing all the dirty work around here. For the record, ALL of the shelves I’ve ever purchased are NOT languishing in the bottom of the hall closet. Some of them have been installed — by ME! Outside of taking out the garbage and attending to the recycling, I do everything else around this joint.

I used to do trash duty, but I could never get the schedule right. My husband took over after hearing — from the neighbors — one too many stories that involved me racing down the street chasing after the garbage truck. These folks may or may not have been exaggerating when they described in fits and starts, through snorting guffaws, the various states of undress and shoelessness that often accompanied my failure to catch the DPW guy. I could be wrong, but I think he took responsibility for the trash more to save himself the embarrassment that these stories produced than because he wanted to lighten my load.

I even do things that send most women running for cover — like killing bugs. The only exception to this rule are bees — and that’s only because I’m allergic. Lord knows no one in this house wants me laid up with swelling or, God forbid, hospitalized with anaphylaxis. Because then who would kill the mice?

Certainly not my husband. Certainly not the teenager daughter. Certainly not the cat.

Yes, we have another mouse. I discovered our uninvited houseguest this morning, as I was bleary-eyed and coffeeless, but suddenly, upon happening upon it in the middle of the kitchen floor, wide awake. There’s nothing like coming face-to-face with a rodent at the crack of dawn to get your heart pumping, I’ll tell you that.

That I was up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning was because I was required to attend one of our all too frequently held staff meetings at work. I’ll bet the executives who are employed by IBM or members of The National Security Council have fewer meetings than we do. I’ll bet their meetings are a damn sight more interesting, too.

I’d guess they discuss things of importance, like new technologies and what the hell to do with that crazy guy in South Korea. We, on the other hand, are expected to listen attentively on subjects like golden beets and quinoa. It just feels silly.

I found it difficult, given the anxiety-producing events of my morning, to concentrate on new menu items. I’ll have to pretend to be excited about grilled watermelon, tilapia, and corn on the cob another day. I’d like to think that under normal circumstances I may have been able to muster up some enthusiasm for the fried green tomato, but I had other things on my mind.

Things like, for example, where could I lay my hands on some steel wool? I know this stuff will seal the small holes around the heating pipes. I had previously tried Target and the grocery store to no avail. I called my husband and asked him to take a quick trip to the home improvement store. I told him to get steel wool. I counseled him against purchasing Brill-O pads. I explained what I needed and why I needed it. I advised him, in the event that he became baffled in the vastness of the home improvement store, to ask someone roaming around in an orange apron about their steel wool inventory. I found it necessary to give these very specific instructions because I know my husband quite well.

It turns out, sadly, that my lack of faith in his ability to purchase some steel wool was not misplaced. I came home to discover that he had gotten stainless steel scrubbers. Do I even need to tell you that stainless steel scrubbers are NOT steel wool? Do I even need to tell you that my husband didn’t ask anybody in an orange apron anything.

Up until then, the highlight of my day had been waiting on the family who let me know that they were “in the business” and then insisted upon using five coupons, ordering children’s meals for their teenagers, demanding seventeen water refills each, and enjoying three courses for less than forty bucks. I’m not sure what “business” they were in, but I can assure you that it wasn’t the restaurant business. Still, I suppose dealing with them wasn’t so bad considering that prior to their appearance on the scene I thought that the crowning achievement of my workday would be all the fun facts that I had learned about kale.

Undeterred, even in light of having the wrong supplies and of having spent my day in the trenches over at The Annoying Bar and Grill, I was prepared to soldier on — to continue waging war against the furry, beady-eyed enemy or, I suspected, enemies, that were, no doubt, lurking under the appliances and the baseboard in my kitchen. Frankly, I had visions of pulling out the stove to discover a gaggle of mice sporting party hats and throwing confetti.

It was at this point that I sat aside of my husband and asked him to help me to formulate a “game plan”. I should have known by the look on his face that he had no intention of grabbing a mitt and getting into any game — even one that didn’t include rodent participants. I chose to ignore both his disinterested look and what I would characterize as mild harrumphing. In the midst of what was shaping up to be my version of the “St. Crispin’s Day” speech from Henry V, he looked me in the eye, much as the mouse had done just that morning, and told me that he wasn’t getting involved in anything of this nature.

As calmly as I could, in my best cajoling tone, I reminded him that I am, as he well knows, slightly mouse-phobic. My fear of mice in party hats under the stove notwithstanding, he flat out refused to help me embark upon Operation: Rodent Removal. Flat. Out. Refused.

When I asked him if he had a better plan, he told me that he was just going to wait until the cat took care of it. Seriously. That’s his plan. He’s going to rely upon our elderly, overweight feline to rid our living space of rodents. An elderly, overweight feline that doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record where hunting mice are concerned, let me just add.

I feel like I may as well look to hire The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I know that story is a fairy tale. So is my husband’s belief that our cat will somehow, uncharacteristically rise to the occasion and solve our mouse problem.

My game plan is to give up. I’m plum tuckered out. I’ve located a bandana. Now I just need a good stick. I’m packing my hobo bag and getting the hell out of Dodge.

This post also appeared as part of a “Best of 2014” blog hop over at Midlife Boulevard!

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