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

Fang: The Inventor!

My husband fancies himself an inventor. Really, he’s more of a gerry-rigger, but we’ve discovered that it’s best not to argue with him. Tomato/Tomatoe, Potato/Potatoe and all that. We are all better served if we just nod our heads in an affirmative (and enthusiastic) way while he’s attempting to sort out the latest conundrum that has presented itself here at the hovel. He finds it helpful to have Fangette and I around to fetch him the scissors, the tape, a shoe lace, or a button — whatever it is he needs — when he gets into full “mad scientist” mode.

 Thomas Edison: Tinkerer extraordinaire.

Thomas Edison: Tinkerer extraordinaire.

Unlike me, who prefers to be left to my own devices when working out household problems of great magnitude — things like how to keep the pot lids from sliding out of the cabinet every flipping time I attempt to free up a skillet — Fang always seems to require the presence of others when he sets out to “fix” something.

I also tend to rely upon items that already exist to solve my problems. For example, I used a metal filing tray to keep my pot lids in order. I bought one at Staples. Simple.

Fang prefers to fashion his own devices. And, he enjoys company while doing so. Like a stand-up comic working out his timing, Fang needs an audience.

He likes to tell you what he’s doing while he’s doing it, too. Mostly this consists of saying things like, “I’m cutting circles out of cardboard now.” You know, just in case we couldn’t discern this by watching him work, as if our powers of observation were not up to snuff. It reminds me of the play-by-play guy during sports telecasts — the one who insists on pointing out, as the players are taking the field, that “the players are taking the field”.

As everyone knows, the play-by-play guy needs a good color commentator. That’s where Fangette and I come in.

I figure if I have to be present, I may as well have some fun. To this end I ask questions like, “how big are the circles?” — because I know he will not only answer my inane question, but also because he will tell me why the circles are of a certain diameter. He will do this in great detail. This line of questioning and the ensuing explanation surely makes the process of “invention” take longer, but I find it fun. I subscribe to the theory that if I have to be there, I might as well make the best of it.

As an added bonus, our shenanigans drive Fangette crazy. Like most adolescents, she would rather get back to watching grass grow than be forced to spend any amount of time engaging in family-related activities with her parents. No matter how often we tell her that “inventing is fun”, she just doesn’t seem to enjoy it as much as we do. Her presence is important, though. Historically, she has been the one in charge of Velcro.

In addition to her responsibilities involving Velcro, we have come to rely upon her — or, at least, I have — for the making of snarky comments. This used to be my area, but, over time, she took up the mantle — she’s good at it, too. She’ll make some poor, unsuspecting guy a fine wife some day.

During Fang’s most recent foray into the wonderful world of inventing, Fangette pointed out that this whole thing could have been avoided had he simply purchased a travel mug that fit into the cup holder with which his car is equipped. She told him that he could have returned the mug, minutes after buying it, when he realized it wasn’t going to fit properly into the cup holder, thereby avoiding all of this “inventing nonsense”.

Well, sure.

I took this opportunity to point out the number of travel mugs we already own — travel mugs that Fang has been buying and tossing aside after one or two uses — the ones that he has deemed unacceptable for one reason or another — over the last fifteen years. Yes. That is correct. Fang has spent fifteen years purchasing undesirable travel mugs. (Don’t even get me started on the number of years Fang has spent attempting to find the “perfect” sunglasses!)

If his latest “invention” works, I fear that our overnight guests will be sorely disappointed, in that they will miss their parting gifts. In an attempt to rid my life of the “perfectly fine, but not good enough for my husband” assortment of cast-offs collecting dust in a cabinet or lying fallow in a drawer, I have been known to send these poor, unsuspecting lodgers on their merry way with a travel mug filled with a hot cup of Joe in one hand and a pair of sunglasses in the other.

I’ve Still Got “It”!

nablo13daytwentyfiveSome days — and I’m not saying they’re not few and far between, but SOME DAYS, I know my husband is glad that he married me. Once in a while I can see that, “I made the right decision almost 25 years ago” look that he gets on his face. I saw it last night — THAT look. I noticed it as I was bent over the semi-constructed BRIMNES bed, beads of sweat dotting my forehead and, truth be told, my nether regions, screwdriver in hand — I know that SOUNDS incredibly sexy — trust me, it wasn’t.

There is a clear division of labor here at the hovel. He does the heavy lifting, I do, well, everything else. It’s not that my husband is incapable of putting together furniture or barbecue grills or other items that require the use of tools and the comprehension of instructions, it’s just that he moves at his own pace. So, if you want to barbecue before, say, Labor Day and you purchase a grill over the Memorial Day weekend, it’s best to take matters into your own hands.

Because my daughter, the delightful, yet demanding, Fangette, would like to actually sleep in her bed some time before the new year, I came to spend twelve hours in her freshly painted navy blue bedroom yesterday tangling with the ASPELUND wardrobe and the BRIMNES bed. Truthfully, Fang was just plum tuckered out anyway. In a rare instance of role reversal, HE actually finished the painting while I was at work on Saturday. He did a great job. I can report that he only hit the white ceiling a few times with the dark blue paint!

As anyone who has ever put together a piece of IKEA furniture can attest, there are always a couple of the steps in the time-consuming, gut-wrenching nightmare that is ALWAYS part and parcel of constructing a piece of furniture that comes with 18,000 screws, one Allen wrench, and 1,200 wooden pinions (all variously, yet similarly, sized!), which requires the assistance of a partner. I could have asked the cat, but he never seems up to the job. While he’s always available, constantly underfoot, happily bouncing in and out of the things that you are trying to put together, or pawing at that screw that you know was RIGHT THERE a minute ago!, his dearth of opposable thumbs makes him a bad choice of assistant.

Fangette was at work, schlepping popcorn to the hordes of people who get to spend their leisure time doing, well, leisurely things — things like grabbing some dinner and taking in a movie — as opposed to her parents, who were at home slaving away or watching their team’s playoff dreams go down the toilet as a result of a last-minute Dallas field goal. It’s just as well, as she’s not much help anyway.

It’s not that she’s unwilling, as much as she is unable to do something as simple as hand you the correct fastener for the job at hand. Even a crash course in reading IKEA instructions was lost on my darling daughter. Luckily, Fang was only a couple of rooms away when I needed someone — anyone — to hold some blasted thing steady while I screwed it in.

And so it was, in one of those moments, that I glimpsed THAT look pass across my husband’s face. The one that said, “I’d marry you all over again!” After all these years, it’s nice to know that, regardless of the circumstances, even with bits of paint in my hair, loads of vulgar words streaming from my potty mouth, and a disturbing amount of perspiration emanating from my every pore, that maybe, just maybe, I’ve still got “it”!

The “Painting Fairy” Saves the Day!

nablo13daytwentyIf I said to my husband, dear, old Fang, “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s paint our room and buy new furniture, including a mattress set, the week before Thanksgiving!”, he would have, and rightly so, looked at me like I’d gone off my rocker, like I’d plum lost my mind. Yet, he and our darling daughter, the I-want-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now-but-I’ll-be-at-Starbuck’s-when-it-comes-time-for-all-the-heavy-lifting, Fangette, managed to put their heads together and, in so doing, hatched a very similar plan regarding her bedroom just the other day.

The problem, which has now become MY problem, is that they both have the attention spans of your average gnat. They also have no idea what-all goes into painting a room, let alone dragging out old furniture and replacing it with new furniture. Sure, they’ve watched me do it successfully time and time again, but they’ve never actually done it themselves. They underestimated, just a teensy bit, the time, energy, and cost associated with a project of this magnitude.

Fang, wearing, one would have to assume, his best pair of rose-colored glasses, struck what he thought was a reasonable deal with the daughter (the wife who could not believe her ears when she heard the plan, chose to remain silent). He told Fangette that if she removed the junk from her room, that he would use his last couple of vacation days to paint her room. That was Monday.

Do I even need to tell you that it’s now Wednesday and the only paint on the walls are the couple of swipes from the different colored sample pots that I acquired from the home improvement store? Will it come as a shock if I tell you that Fangette isn’t happy with either color?

In Fang’s defense, I should mention that he fell into the trap set by his offspring. He thought, as fathers often do, that he could trust his daughter to hold up her end of the bargain. I, of course, knew better. I’ve learned though, that when faced with these situations, it really is best to hold my tongue. This way, later on, when things inevitably go south, I can shake my head, suck my teeth, and seem somewhat sympathetic while muttering my “I told you so’s”.

Mothers really do know best. It’s a shame my family rarely consults me. Then again, why should they? I was not party to the deal brokering or the wild and unrealistic promises made by my partner — a man whose last foray into the wonderful world of painting lasted all of ten minutes before he began complaining about “cramping”. The expectation will be that I will spend the next few days picking up the pieces of their abandoned project. It will undoubtedly fall upon me to remove the detritus that was excavated from my daughter’s bedroom. The crap that was relocated NOT out to the garbage bin — that would’ve required putting on shoes, I guess, and, really, who can be bothered with that? — but, instead, to the very narrow, freshly painted hallway that is, itself, only in the secondary stage of redecoration — it’s painted, there are shelves, but a few things remain to be done before it can be called “finished”.

Not to worry, though, I’ll just dig out my “Painting Fairy” wings and save the day! Because, ya know, that’s how things shape up here at the hovel. I’ll be the one with paint in her hair and spackle underneath her fingernails. I’ll be the one to take her chances with the return of the plantar fasciitis that has finally subsided — but, really, climbing up and down a ladder is, surely, playing with fire where this malady is concerned.

I almost don’t even want to get started on the furniture. But, I will. Because I think that you need to know — so that you can form a full picture of what I’m up against here — that her new bed will not be the same size as her old bed. And, so, of course, we must procure a new mattress and box spring set in order to make this whole thing work.

On my list of things I’d rather not do — like, ever — mattress shopping with an adolescent is topped only by going out on safari, skydiving, and having needles stuck into my eyeballs. Frankly, the eyeball thing might be less torturous than the mattress thing.

While my kid, like teenagers the world over, loves to shop, shopping for a mattress does not have the same cachet, let’s say, as hopping from one store to another in search of such wardrobe staples as the perfect party dress or the ever elusive owl earrings. Not the same cachet AT ALL!

Minor criminals should not be locked in jail or forced to hammer out license plates, if the government is looking for a way to truly punish people for things like trespassing, destruction of personal property, or driving without insurance, I’d like to suggest that they require these folks to mattress shop with my kid or others like her — the disinterested, the surly, the petulant. I’ll bet after serving out this type of sentence they’ll think long and hard about taking a sledgehammer to their ex-wife’s car. Long and hard. I guarantee there won’t be a next time. Guarantee it.

So, yeah. My husband goes back to work tomorrow. There’s still crap piled in my hallway. I’ll have to spelunk under my daughter’s bed when I get home from work today — I hope I can put my hands on my cave exploration kit, I have a feeling I’m going to need it for that job. The walls need cleaning and taping. A mattress set still needs to be decided upon, purchased, and delivered. Arguments need to be had regarding paint colors — she seems to be going for “medieval dungeon”, I’d like something a little less depressing, but, who am I kidding?, I’m so beaten down at this point that I’d be happy to paint the stupid room black.

Somehow, in the midst of all of this lunacy, I’ll be expected to work in cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I could just make reservations or go elsewhere — invitations have been offered — but what fun would there be in that? I’m thinking that if I really want to teach them a lesson, if I truly want to give them a dose of their own medicine, I could just spring it on them Wednesday evening that they’ll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, yeah. That might prove interesting.

I’ll keep my “Turkey Cooking” wings handy, though. You know, just in case they need me to swoop in and save Thanksgiving, too.

I’m No Sociopath!

nablo13dayseventeenMy husband accused me of trying to kill him this morning. With bad meat.

As I carefully explained to him, if I had a list of people that I would like to see dead, which I may or may not have, he is (or, at least prior to this ridiculous accusation and the ensuing conversation, WAS) not even in the top ten. I also found it necessary to let him know that if I were, indeed, going to embark upon a life of crime and commit murder, which, of course, I am not, I would not choose “death by meat” as my method of choice.

I’d like to think that I’d have more sense than that. While I know very little about poisoning people, I would think that if one were going to go about it, one would choose a more fool-proof method than serving up a questionable meat product and then standing by and hoping for the best. I cautioned him that if I began to stock up on anti-freeze or rat poison, he might want to sleep with one eye open.

I would like to make it abundantly clear that while I may, at times, have some anger issues, I am not now nor have I ever been a sociopath. Death by poison (and, I think, spoiled meat would fall into this category), takes the type of planning and initiative that one normally associates with the sociopathic personality.

It’s safe to say that I’m not that much of a planner. If I were, would I have possibly spoiled meat in the fridge? I don’t think so.

If I were going to go on a killing spree, which I currently have no plans to do, I would imagine that it would be the result of my becoming unglued — utterly and finally. In other words, I’m far more likely to have a psychotic break fueled, no doubt, by having to participate in ridiculous conversations about whether or not I am planning to send my husband to an early grave by feeding him chopped meat that has spent two days in the refrigerator. Ground beef that is, by the way, still fit for consumption. It’s not expired. It’s not brown. It’s fine!

I take no small amount of pride in a job well done. I am a “finish what you start” type of person. I would like to think that if I decided to murder someone, I would do it right. I wouldn’t half-ass it, which is another reason why I wouldn’t choose poison. Even if I were able to acquaint myself with and acquire enough poison to hasten my husband’s death, I’ll bet it would take too long. Not being, as I pointed out previously, a sociopath, I would take no pleasure in watching him die, I’d just want the job done.

If I were to get up to killing him (or, for that matter, anybody else), I’m pretty sure that it would be a crime of opportunity or passion. If I were him, I’d spend less time worrying about a bad hamburger and more time being mindful of annoying me near open seas, subway tracks or precipices.

Happy Anniversary, Fang!

nablo13dayfourToday is my wedding anniversary. As it turns out it’s my 24th wedding anniversary. I, as a result of my failure to grasp something as basic as subtraction, was convinced that it was my 25th wedding anniversary.

I had mentioned several times, in the days and weeks leading up to the momentous occasion of our silver anniversary, how we should do something special this year. Fang agreed, but then I got busy doing something very exciting (more on that tomorrow!), Fangette required a boatload of money for college application costs, we bought several pieces of furniture, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, we didn’t make any big plans. Thank goodness for that!

I had to leave early this morning to get into the city — in order to do my very exciting thing! — and decided, before the day got away from me, that I would send Fang an anniversary text — he routinely “beats” me to these things, but I had to get up pretty early this morning, so I was able to be the one to actually “send” this text, rather than “receive” it, as I usually do! As an afterthought I also posted “Happy 25th Anniversary, Fang!” on my Facebook page. Shortly thereafter, Fang texted me, pointed out my mathematical error, and wished me a happy 24th anniversary. Oh, my God.

I had to change my Facebook status to “Oops, I’m an idiot” (or something of a similar nature). I called Fang and admonished him for allowing me to labor under this delusion for several weeks. I asked him why (WHY? WHY? WHY?) he hadn’t corrected me. Not surprisingly, he said that he didn’t hear me.

I’m not sure whether or not I believe him. You see, Fang has come to expect me to get this type of thing wrong. For example, he gets a little persnickety about the quirky habit that I have of not reading the cards that I give to people. If I like the picture and it’s in the proper section, I usually just buy it. To be fair, he wouldn’t characterize this habit as quirky. It’s highly likely that he would define it as lazy.

The funny thing about this method is that the only person that it ever backfires with is Fang. I have accidentally given him a Valentine’s Day card meant for a son, a birthday card designed for an African-American woman (I still contend that the Hallmark’s “Mahogany” collection is murky!), and a Father’s Day card better suited to someone with an estranged relationship.

Of course, this year he received a beautiful 25th anniversary card (one that I actually read!) and a silver picture frame. As for next year, he’ll just have to settle for the lovely 25th anniversary post that I had all ready to go today. I’m certainly not wasting the beautiful things that I wrote in honor of our 25th anniversary on something as mundane as a 24th anniversary. That’s for damn sure!

photo credit: rose

Black & White & Fuschia (Oh, My!)

Soap dispensers or instruments of torture? You decide!

Soap dispensers or instruments of torture? You decide!

Fang is on vacation this week and I, too, took a few days off. I figured that we could spend some time together and I could get some things accomplished. We did a little antiquing the other day — I managed to score some very cool old hooks for the bathroom. We even managed to have a nice lunch, a brief stroll by the Hudson, and an ice cream cone. That was a nice day.

Yesterday? Not so much.

To say that I got up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday would be an understatement! No amount of coffee or Candy Crush Saga or (gasp!) even writing would break the mood. Everyone and everything annoyed me. Thank God I didn’t have to go to work. Fang might feel differently about that, though. I’ll bet if you ask him he’d tell you that he wished I had gone to work instead of spending the day with him.

Part of the problem was that I had an agenda AND Fang had an agenda. Sadly, we were of two VERY different minds regarding our plans for yesterday. He wanted to putter around. I wanted to go to the fabric store. I needed to get my hands on some more black Waverly toile to complete yet another project. I had recently realized that I had employed some faulty math when I purchased the original cut of the fabric, which meant that I would only be able to cover one-and-a-half seat cushions, instead of the two that need covering. (Half a seat is one of those units of measurement — kind of like 2.4 children — that doesn’t actually exist in the real world!)

He said that he wanted to come with me — to talk me out of the toile, I’m sure. And so I waited. And I waited. And I waited. While he passive-aggressively sipped his coffee — like an 18th Century lady during a social call. He was either purposely dawdling or awaiting the arrival of Mr. Darcy.

I think what irritated me most was that I knew that once we got to the fabric store that he was going to point out any number of fabric choices that were NOT toile. Because he’s always going on about how much he hates toile. Seriously. He hates it. Except that he doesn’t. He wouldn’t even notice its existence if it weren’t for the fact that I love it. It’s a passive-aggressive thing. Like the ladylike coffee-sipping. It’s also an annoying thing.

The black and white Waverly toile is absolutely perfect for my makeshift window seat. And, really, that’s all there is to it. Nothing more to see here, folks!

We finally set off on our little adventure. I got (more of) the fabric that I needed. I made sure that he had no time to wander the aisles. I picked the black and white toile off the shelf, had it cut, paid for it, and got out of Dodge.

From there we were planning to visit Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We were still sans a soap dispenser for the newly redecorated bathroom. We had looked high and low for something that we liked to no avail. Somehow, though, we had managed NOT to include the BATHROOM store in our search — obviously this had to be rectified.

I’m happy to report that we were successful there. We purchased not just one, but TWO, soap dispensers. One black, one white; one for soap, one for hand sanitizer. Perfect. Who would think that this concept would require any kind of conversation AT ALL? Yeah. Me neither. Except that it did. Of course it did.

I had to spend the next twenty minutes, or more — it felt like more — weighing the pros and cons of labeling the dispensers. Did I mention that I was ALREADY in a bad mood? Do I even need to tell you that I wouldn’t want to entertain this nonsense in the best of moods?

For the record, I don’t think it’s necessary — the labeling. I am of the opinion that if someone — mainly we are speaking about Fangette here, the 17-year-old girl-child who is the only other person who resides with us. (Outside of the cat, who, as far as I know has no idea how to operate a soap dispenser, how to read a label, or is overly concerned with either hand-washing or hand-sanitization!) For the sake of argument, let’s just say that she were to mistakenly sanitize instead of soaping or if she were to soap instead of sanitize, would the world, do you think, stop spinning on its axis? I don’t think so either. Not only am I confident that she can grasp the concept of white = sanitizer; black = soap, I am also fairly certain that if she were to become confused, it would not be a mistake of epic proportions.

What I really think worried him was not that Fangette would get it wrong, but that he would. I figure he’ll eventually catch on, too.

The other stumbling block in my madcap plan to leave the bottles unlabeled, as far as Fang is concerned, has to do with guests. I promised him that I would personally and verbally alert guests to the crazy system that I have going on in the hand-washing area. I assured him that I would, if we were expecting an onslaught of guests, make little notecards and place them in front of the bottles — I think that’s more personal than a computer-generated note taped to the bathroom mirror or, God forbid!, a post-it stuck to the bottles, don’t you? What I didn’t say was that I’d like to think that we associate with the type of people who wouldn’t be stymied by the whole soap/sanitizer controversy. They’d use whatever they squirted out — they wouldn’t judge. Who he thinks we hob-nob with, I’ll never know.

When I decide to finally drive my husband round the bend, I know exactly how I’ll do it. I’ll simply purchase a black AND white pump dispenser, possibly something in a toile pattern, load it with hand lotion, and make it part of the trio. I think that’ll about do him in, don’t you?

For those of you who have been along for the bathroom redo — here are some pics! Whaddya think? Not bad, right?