Packing Up The Old Hobo Bag

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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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I Do NOT Want a Melon Baller For Christmas!

christmas giftI hate making a Christmas list for my husband because I am of the opinion that after twenty-four years of marriage he should know what I like. I don’t really, truth be told, “need” anything. At this point in our relationship, I wouldn’t mind receiving a few gifts that are well thought out, though. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?

He has hinted that my refusal to tell him what I want for Christmas is some kind of an elaborate trap — as if I’m testing whether or not he truly knows me. It’s not. Well, it didn’t start out that way, anyway. Now, however, I feel like it’s “game on”! I am also beginning to think that I’ve made a huge mistake.

Frankly, I think that I’ve set the bar pretty low. I don’t expect expensive handbags or jewelry, for example. A nice potholder in a lovely toile, pajamas that fit, or a bottle of my favorite scent would mean more to me than knowing that he walked into some fancy store, plunked down some cash, and bought whatever the salesperson suggested.

It would be nice to receive a gift that says “Hey, I’m paying attention!” I don’t think that buying something for someone you’ve known intimately for nearly thirty years should be fraught with difficulty — or require pictures. (That’s what he wanted me to send him — pictures!)

Fang always gives me a list. This year it included socks (both white and colored) and click pens (NOT the gel kind!). Socks and click pens. Really? These are things that any idiot could pick up at the supermarket, which is what this idiot will do. Why a grown person would ask for such things is beyond me, but ask for them he did.

Most years he wants some kind of techno thingamajig —- something that requires more information than I am able to retain. When he requests this type of product, I am grateful for the list. This year, however, I think that I probably could have handled the request for socks and click pens without the specifications that he insisted upon providing for me.

Do you know why he doesn’t like gel pens? I do. He doesn’t like gel pens because while they are “fast-drying”, they do not dry quickly enough for a left-handed person NOT to smear them all over his hand while writing with them. How do I know this? Because I pay attention, people. I pay attention.

When my husband asks for colored socks I know what he really means is that he needs dress socks — not that he wants athletic socks in a color other than white. Again, I know this because I know him. I don’t require a photograph of an argyle-patterned sock to get this right.

As most of the things Fang asked for didn’t merit a trip to anywhere other than the grocery store, Fangette and I took a chance and went “off list” — we put our heads together and purchased him a couple of things that required some thought and no small amount of attention paying. He’ll probably hate them, but, at least, we’ve tried.

I’m loathe to admit it, but I’m a little nervous about having sent Fang out to shop for me without any direction whatsoever. The other night he mentioned our need for a new pizza cutter. We actually do need a new pizza cutter — we cannot find the old one. (Don’t ask what kind of people “lose” a pizza cutter!) Still, I’m hoping that he doesn’t just troll the gadget section at the local market and fill my stocking with things like pizza cutters, melon ballers, and/or cheese graters. (Though I wouldn’t mind a “zester”!) That might prove a little disappointing.

Knowing Fang as I do, I’m fairly certain that he hasn’t done ANY of his shopping yet, so there’s still time for me to break down and compile a list — I could make a digital one — complete with store maps and images of things that I like. If I don’t want a gadget-filled Christmas, I’d better get crack-a-lackin’ on that right now!

photo credit: morguefile

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.

Forging an Alliance

chairafghanReinventing myself is highly unlikely at this stage of the game. To be honest, I don’t know that even if the possibility for large-scale change existed, I’d be all that willing to embrace it. I kind of like who I’ve become — with the possible exception of the “stressed-out” me. She’s kind of a bitch. She needs a “chill pill”.

What I’ve come to realize is that I’m at my most content when I am in the process of creating something — sometimes that “something” is as simple as dinner, other times it’s more complicated, but certainly not Herculean, like a piece of writing. Sure, these are often small accomplishments, but they are accomplishments just the same. Something is almost always better than nothing.

Creating order out of chaos, which has taken shape in what I’ve come to call “the hovel purge”, has been full of lessons — not to mention trash bags, paint, and umpteen trips to the home improvement store! I’m happy to report that it’s going well — there have been some fits and starts, some successes and failures, some scaling down, and some compromises along the way, but all in all, I’d say that this reorganization project is well on its way to being an achievement that I can be proud of.

Who would have thought that through the simple act of decluttering, I’d learn something new, something that could be applied to more than things. Mostly I’ve learned that tossing what doesn’t work or doesn’t matter while keeping the things that do is about much more than just things — it’s about everything.

Picking up a paintbrush, sorting through a drawer, making a curtain — these are all activities that I have engaged in following stressful shifts at work — I have found myself looking forward to leaving behind the physical and mental strain that comes with a day of working in a restaurant and taking up the physical and mental strain that comes with a night of painting — of recreating — a wall or a bench or a bunch of towel hooks.

It’s helped my marriage , too. While I certainly have a good number of friends and acquaintances and a job that requires advanced social skills, what I really am, underneath it all, is a loner — possibly even more so than my quieter and more reserved husband. I live very much inside my own head. Allowing my husband to board the redecorating train wasn’t easy at first, but now I sometimes even allow him to act as the conductor. In doing so, we have forged an alliance — mostly against my daughter, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Disorganization”. As alliances go, it’s working out rather well.

For years we argued about furnishings — he’s more the “I want something comfortable and don’t care if there’s an afghan covering the ripped cushion on my favorite chair” kind of guy. I’m somewhat less willing to live like that. Mostly, though, I had just given up. I simply refused to argue about the ripped chair. And then it dawned on me that, together, we could probably find some middle ground. And we did. While I would one day love to have a beautiful velvet settee, for now I’ve settled for the slipcovered Ikea stuff — the stuff that I can toss in the wash. And I’m happy with it. More importantly, so is he.

If only I could get my kid to stop leaving a trail of shin guards, hockey sticks, turf-encrusted sneakers, and backpacks from the front door to her bedroom, we’d be all set.

Related posts: The Hovel Purge posts

photo credit: chair

How Big Are Your Dustbunnies?

 Different colors would be helpful!

Different colors would be helpful!

Le’s discuss gender roles, shall we? Ours — mine and Fang’s — are fairly traditional. In that, I’m expected to cook, clean, do laundry, fill out forms, RSVP, make phone calls, have keys made, change the sheets, do the dishes, feed the cat, and, I’m sure, a thousand other things that I’m just too overwhelmed to list. My husband does three things. He vacuums, cleans the litter box, and takes out the garbage.

He does the litter box and the garbage fairly regularly. It’s the vacuuming that he slacks off on. He puts it off until the dust bunnies look like tumbleweeds. When I don’t have my glasses on and have occasion to glance under the couch or the chair — usually when I’m glancing under furniture I’m looking for where the hell my glasses have gotten themselves to — I sometimes think that another cat has taken up residence here at the hovel. While that would certainly explain the amount of cat food I go through in a week, it’s never the case. The thing under the couch is never a new pet. It’s just a dust bunny the size of a small animal.

Come to think of it, maybe this is why these accumulations of dirt, hair, and dead skin cells are called dust bunnies in the first place. Some other vision-impaired person, hunting for an earring or a dropped writing implement, probably had the bejeesus scared out of them by dust the size of a bunny.

I don’t scare easily. Nor am I that blind. I know what I’m looking at when I see one lurking under the chair. And it irritates me.

Wanna know why? Because he has three things to do around this joint. Three.

When, after stumbling across a dust bunny the size of a miniature pony, I remind him of this, our conversation will usually go something like this:

ME: I’m wondering, have you read anything about Budweiser losing a Clydesdale?

FANG: What? No. Haven’t heard anything about that.

ME: Well, if you do, I want you to let them know that I may have come across it today. Underneath your chair.

FANG: What? There’s a Clydesdale underneath my chair? What are you talking about?

ME: It’s not really a Clydesdale, it’s just the size of one. I came across a dust bunny today that is the size of a Clydesdale underneath your chair.

FANG: Oh, really? Did you find your glasses?

ME: Yes, but that’s not the point. The point is that you didn’t vacuum. And my glasses weren’t underneath the chair — or the couch for that matter. They were in the bathroom. Did you move them? Because I swear that I took them off in the kitchen last night.

FANG: If you took them off in the kitchen, why would you be looking in the living room?

ME: Because they weren’t in the kitchen. Did you move them?

FANG: Yes. I moved them. Into the bathroom. Of course I didn’t move them. If I had moved them from the kitchen — where they never probably were in the first place — I wouldn’t have moved them into the bathroom. Who keeps glasses in the bathroom? Wait. Don’t answer that. You do.

ME: Yes. Now and again I need my glasses in the bathroom. Like when I need to use some lotion — and I want to make sure that I don’t squirt something that is NOT lotion onto my body. I sometimes have a need to READ things, like labels, in the bathroom. I wish I could wear them in the shower without them fogging up. I can’t tell you how many times a week I condition before I shampoo. Those bottles should have different colored caps or something, don’t you think. I’m going to write to Pantene. Make a suggestion.

FANG: I have a suggestion — one that doesn’t involve contacting shampoo manufacturers nationwide. I mean, what are the odds they’ll do it? Changing their cap colors will probably be time-consuming and expensive for them, don’t you think?

ME: I think it would be a great marketing tool.

FANG: For who? You?

ME: Yes. And for people like me.

FANG: There aren’t that many people like you, dear.

ME: Ain’t that the truth!

FANG: Well, just in case you’re unsuccessful in your attempts to get Pantene — and everyone else — on board with your improvements, why don’t you just put the shampoo on one shelf ALL THE TIME and the conditioner on another shelf ALL THE TIME?

ME: Maybe I’ll just buy a smaller shampoo and a larger conditioner. It would be more expensive, but I suppose it would solve the problem.

FANG: So would following basic organizing principles.

ME: Or, I could just use plumber’s tape. Ya know, red for shampoo, blue for conditioner. I’ll just stick a piece of tape on the bottles when I bring them in from the store.

FANG: You’d have to remember the red for shampoo, blue for conditioner scheme ya got going there, though. That might pose a problem.

ME: I’d remember. It’s alphabetical. “B” comes before “R”, “C” comes before “S”. Simple.

FANG: Yeah, but shampoo comes before conditioner in the order of how they’re used.

ME: Don’t confuse the issue. The alphabetical thing will work.

FANG: So would just putting them where they belong.

ME: Well, following your line of reasoning, I’d have to put the shampoo on the upper shelf and the conditioner on the lower shelf — because that’s the order I use them in, right?

FANG: Obviously that’s not the order you use them in all the time or we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But, yeah, that’s how I’d do it.

ME: I’d do it differently.

FANG: Of course you would, dear.

ME: Hear me out. I would put them in alphabetical order — the conditioner on the upper shelf, the shampoo on the lower shelf. Because that’s how I think.

FANG: You think alphabetically?

ME: Are you even the least bit interested in helping me solve my problem?

FANG: Of course, dear, that’s what I’m here for.

ME: You know there’s a fly in the ointment of your little “shelf plan” don’t you?

FANG: What fly?

ME: Fangette. Your darling daughter. Not only will she not be the least bit interested in following the plan, I can guarantee you that she’ll move the bottles around just to fuck with me.

FANG: Don’t tell her.

ME: Well, that would guard against the deliberate sabotage that we both know she’s capable of, but not against her just willy-nilly putting the bottles back wherever she felt like putting them.

FANG: Maybe you’d better get some of that plumber’s tape.

Do you see my problem here, folks? He derails me. He changes the subject. Did you notice that we never got back to the dust bunnies? Did you also notice that I am now tasked with obtaining two different colors of plumber’s tape? Do I even have to tell you that he still hasn’t vacuumed?

photo credit: shampoo

Everything Is Illuminated!

At least I let Fang sleep indoors!

At least I let Fang sleep indoors!

Yesterday I bought a door. It’s not a door TO anything. It’s a door that is going to BECOME something. That something? If I get my way — and I usually do — it’s going to become a headboard.

It has a hole where the doorknob used to be — I think that would be the perfect place for a reading light. Imagine that? A reading light in the bedroom. Who’d have thunk it?

What we currently have in the way of bedroom lighting is a giant overhead light and two sources of “ambient” light. The enormous dome light is ridiculously bright. It’s not useless, though. For example, if you are searching for a needle in a haystack it comes in handy. Don’t scoff. My bedroom is the repository for all things that currently have no other “home” — so, don’t discount the fact that there could be, housed in its recesses, a haystack.

I also think that I owe it to science to use this light as infrequently as possible — because I fear that it may well be a source of confusion to amateur astronomers — the ones who are foolhardy enough to point their telescopes in the direction of our residence. On more than one occasion — owing to its brightness — I’ll bet these stargazers got super excited — thinking that, perhaps, they had found an as yet undiscovered small planet. That’s the type of thing those folks get worked up about.

In addition to the dome light, Fang and I each have our own individual lamps. I’m probably playing “fast and loose” by calling them “lamps”. Mine is some kind of metal monstrosity that would put one in mind of those searchlights they use out in the middle of the ocean — the ones that are employed in “man overboard” operations.

Again, I hope those star-gazers have a sense of humor — because if they think the dome light is a small planet, my light could surely be confused for one of its moons. I often wonder if we’re not the subject of all kinds of astronomical alerts — the kind that read “Don’t be fooled into thinking that what you’re seeing at coordinates 529XYZ is a planet! After no small amount of investigation, we’ve concluded that it’s just someone’s idea of bedroom lighting!”

Fang’s light is kind of like the poor stepchild of lighting. The light bulb strength is probably measured in lumens, as opposed to watts. One of those small flashlights, available at dollar stores nationwide, would likely put off more light than does his “lamp”.

I had a friend who commented, upon obtaining a GPS, that the device saved his marriage. On the face of it, that sounds like a borderline crazy statement, but I understood what he meant. The same could be said for the effect that the tablet computer has had on my relationship. Fang and I both have one now. Equipped as they are with back lighting, these models of modern technology have virtually eliminated the nighttime arguments that had, sadly, become a hallmark of our relationship — arguments that were a direct result of the wacky lighting arrangement that we were operating with in the bedroom.

Fang always wanted me to turn off my light once it was time for him to turn in for the night. (I would not be surprised to discover that he and the astronomers were in cahoots!) The problem is that Fang’s bed time is far earlier than mine. For years I fooled with every book light known to man — to no avail. I hate them. They are just no substitute for real light.

The other problem with this whole “I need complete darkness to go to sleep” bullshit — and the thing that stuck in my craw the most — was that my husband can, quite literally — I am NOT kidding! — fall asleep on a picket fence — a REAL one, not a PROVERBIAL one! Often, what would happen would be that he would fall asleep in the living room FOR HOURS — lights blazing, people talking, television blaring, mariachi bands roaming through — with no regard to that which was happening around him — and then, BOOM! he would awaken and decide to come into the bedroom — where I was, and had been for hours, engaged in reading, doing a crossword, or watching a television program. It shouldn’t come as any shock to you that, manic multi-tasker that I am, I was usually involved in some combination of all of these activities. (Once in a while I was also crocheting!)

Upon awakening, he would stagger sleepy-eyed into the bedroom and, like a prison guard at 10 PM, call “Lights Out!” I found this behavior incredibly annoying — not to mention passive-aggressive. Sometimes, I’ll admit it, I would go into the living room — where he was snoring in the chair — turn out all the lights, power off the television, and show the mariachi band to the door — in the hopes that he would just remain where he started out for the remainder of the evening. I’ll admit it, I did all of this so that I could continue reading, crossword puzzling, and/or catching up on missed episodes of Masterpiece Theater.

More often than not my clandestine operations were successful. On those mornings, those glorious mornings, — the ones when I would find him still in the living room chair — semi-conscious, slightly dazed, and rubbing the crick out of his neck — he would ask me why I let him sleep there all night. I would feign surprise. Often my response was something along the lines of, “Oh, I had no idea you were out there. Sorry.” Because I am a good life partner, I would offer him a pain reliever for his neck. Really, it was the least I could do.

While I will be forever grateful to the person who invented the back-lit tablet computer, once in a while I still want to read an actual book or do some type of paperwork in bed — placing a light on the headboard will allow me to do that. More importantly, I’ll be able to do these things without having to engage in the nightly ritual that leaving him to sleep in the chair entailed. And, to be honest, I was getting a little sick and tired of hearing about his aching neck.

photo credit: man sleeping

How to Really Feel Like a Loser!

garbage canOnce in a while, during my forays into the blogosphere, I am left with the feeling that I should write about something more substantial than soap dispensers or gum in the dryer. Substantial may not be the word I really want to use here — certainly elephants are more substantial than, say, a bottle of non-dairy creamer (a topic that I’ve featured twice!) — and, really, most things are more substantial than gum.

The word I should have used is “substantive”, rather than “substantial”. That’s it. I should try to choose more substantial subject matter. Perhaps I could stay away from dedicating whole posts to how many t-shirts my husband owns, the difficulty of choosing the “just right” paint color, or my latest (mis)adventures over at the Ikea. Because, really, who will take me seriously if I don’t start writing pieces with a little more heft to them?

This line of thinking left me thinking and wondering — I suppose it was inevitable — WHAT heftier subject matter I could tackle today. The minute I wrote the word “heft” up there in paragraph two, though, my mind had already begun to wander — also inevitable — to the point where all I could think of were trash bags. I don’t support one brand over the other — I buy whichever is on sale — but “heft” AND “elephants” seems to have led to “Hefty” and “Jumbo”. The combination of these two words has deposited me right at that weird place in my brain that is, apparently, reserved for trash bag-related musings. (I also may have, as you shall see, some issues to get off my chest, which are tangentially related to trash bags!)

So, in lieu of “heftier” subject matter, today I’ll just have to deal with trash bags. Because now I can’t think of anything else. Perhaps tomorrow I can get cracking on something more substantive — like plastic wrap. (Let me tell you something, kids, I have A LOT to say — and very little of it good — about plastic wrap!)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve noticed — and I’m not proud of this — that I become resentful when I have to purchase trash bags. The week that I have to do this, it bumps my grocery bill up by $15. I could buy a lot of produce for $15. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 worth of that produce would end up, rotten and uneaten, in the bottom of a trash bag days later — or, possibly (and very likely up in this joint), spilling out the top — but still, I’d have had the option of eating the clementines or the kumquats — to say nothing of the ugli fruit or the mango.

It’s not that I enjoy throwing away food. I don’t. It kills me to do it. I’d like to be able to tell you that this is because of all of the starving people in the world. And, on some level it may be, but mainly my aversion to this activity is part and parcel of my very American self-centeredness. That may be unfair. There are probably any number of Americans who are, I’m sure, dedicated to solving the problem of world hunger. I’m just not one of them.

My weekly foray into refrigerator cleaning doesn’t often leave me with a sense of middle-class guilt. You won’t necessarily find me having many “grateful for the availability of cantaloupe melons” or “happy that I had the resources to purchase two pounds of chicken cutlets” kind of moments. Nope. More often my thoughts go something like this: “Two bucks for this damn melon! Three minutes waiting for the old guy to get out of my way in the produce department so that I could buy it! Ten minutes to peel it and cut it up! Five minutes searching for an adequate container to hold it! No one even touched it! And now I’m throwing it away — into a trash bag — a trash bag that also cost top dollar!”

I know. I know. What’s the alternative to purchasing trash bags? Composting? Yeah. I don’t think so. I don’t even want to know what composting involves. I’m not certain, having very limited knowledge of the composting world, but I’d wager organic materials are required. Whenever I hear the word “organic” in the same sentence as garbage, I can’t help but think of manure. No, thank you. I’ll just pony up the cash for the trash bags.

I did receive some startling news regarding trash bags recently. According to Fang, I have been purchasing the “wrong” garbage bags. There we were, in the paper products area of the Target, when he shook (shook! like a crazy person!) a box of something called “force flex” bags at me and pointed out (by tapping loudly and aggressively on the box!) that “THESE are the type of bags that don’t rip — the ones with the little puckery things on them — please buy these from now on, okay?” Well, at least he said “please”!

Once I had overcome the urge to use my own natural “force flex” on Fang’s face, two things occurred to me right there in paper goods: I’d like to meet the genius or team of geniuses who thought up the gussetted trash bag — I think they are just the type of folks who could get to work on manufacturing a broom that doesn’t become separated from it’s handle when one is simply using it to sweep things up — you know, using it as it was designed to be used.

I mean, I could see if I were employing a broom to knock some sense into my clearly deranged husband. I could see the handle becoming, much like Fang, “unglued” — if I were using it in such an “off-label” way. If, however, I’m using a broom to do a little light housework (I try to stay away from anything that would fall into the category of “heavy” housework!), then I really DO NOT understand WHY its two parts WILL NOT remain together.

I’ll tell you another two parts that may not remain together if my husband doesn’t begin to use the good sense that, up to this point in our relationship, he has always employed. Fang really NEEDS to get a grip on reality. This new behavior of carrying on in places like The Home Depot and Target is not only unsettling, it’s downright humiliating.

There is almost nothing that will make you feel like an old loser quite like when you find yourself wandering around Target on a Saturday night. If, however, you don’t feel like a big enough loser whilst doing this, get your husband to admonish you — in public — about trash bags! That ought to do the trick.

To distance myself emotionally from what could have fast become a heated argument, I distracted myself with thoughts about what could be the next “big idea” in can liners? They already have “scented” ones — I don’t think they work all that well, but they are available. I don’t usually buy them. Who knows? Maybe I should. I’ll have to ask Fang whether he is in the scented or the unscented camp. I’m sure he belongs to one or the other. He’s probably given it a lot of thought. Clearly, he’s the one in this relationship who has an understanding of the trash bag industry.

If it were me — if, say, instead of being the sort of woman that people think they can shake a box of trash bags at on a Saturday night at the local Target — if I was not THAT woman, but, instead, if I was the woman who held some swanky job in the upper echelons at one of your larger trash bag conglomerates — I would get on the decorated bag. I would market it with a Lucite trash bin. Then, you could match your bag décor to your kitchen décor. How about that for an idea? Huh?

Maybe, just maybe, this concept would take the world by storm — change the trash bag industry forever, even! Perhaps, on the heels of this stunning success, they would let me — little old me — work on the broom thing. (They wouldn’t have to know that I can’t even be trusted to PURCHASE the correct trash bag, would they?) Now, THAT, my friends, THAT would be something worth writing about, wouldn’t it?

Related posts:
On gum
On the last time Fang “lost it”!

photo credit: garbage can