Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going…

You may have noticed that I have been out of the writing loop for a while. I don’t have a note signed by “Juan Epstein’s mother” to excuse me but I do have reasons for my prolonged absence.

I didn’t give up writing. What I did was I gave up publishing what I had written. Because it wasn’t funny. It was, in fact, very angry. Essays that were meant to address the frivolities of life in what I always hope comes across in a whimsical tone, devolved, instead, into diatribes where I railed against our current President, his administration, the press, the electorate, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

There is enough of that going on in the world, in social media, in the mainstream media, in grocery stores, coffee shops, and workplaces. While I am aware that I do my part to add to the divisiveness on my Facebook page, I didn’t want to add to it here. This is where I try to be more light-hearted. And, really, does it make any difference that I think that this country is headed for disaster, going to hell in a handbasket? It does not.

What I have to say, have said, hasn’t convinced any of my right-wing friends to come around to my way of thinking over on The Facebook, why would anything I have to say here make a difference? It won’t.

Not that the nonsense, the minutiae, of my every day life is important, either, but I have been told that it can be, has been, an amusing diversion in the lives of some of my more dedicated readers. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I have decided to go back to using this space to tell my stories.

Unfortunately for my husband, the much put-upon Fang, my stories often include him and/or our daughter, the lovely and quick-witted, Fangette. And that is a slippery slope.

I tried to remove them from my anecdotes because they wanted to be removed. They tend to take what I write to heart — and they take everything that I say very literally. Bad feelings have been a result of some of the things that I have written about them. And that was never my intention.

They honestly are hilarious, sometimes in a frustrating, pull-your-hair-out sort of way, but hilarious just the same. That is what I had hoped people would see. And plenty of people did see this. Fang and Fangette were not, sadly, part of that population.

It is nearly impossible, though, to remove them, the principal players in my life, from the story of my life. I am going to try, though. Because they have lives, too. Blogless lives. They have no recourse to amend what I have written. That is their argument, and it is a good one; they make a valid point.

In an effort to strike a better balance and to insure a more harmonious home life, I am going to make every effort, when I have to mention them, to be more sensitive to their feelings. And that’s not just because my daughter often threatens me with litigation, but because I truly love them and want to respect their right to privacy.

We shall see if once I have to edit myself more carefully whether or not I will have any topics left that are worth writing about. In the meantime, I would like to thank all of you who have stuck with me. But let me just say this, if all I can come up with to write about are rainbows and unicorns, I am shutting this whole enterprise down. Because that’s just not ME, people!

And, you know, I’ve got to be me. (Just not at the expense of others.)

***********************************************************************

For the record, my husband is a kind and generous person who goes to work every day, doesn’t drink, smoke, gamble, or have any other heinous habits, unless you count snoring, which I have been told I am guilty of myself. So, there’s that.

He is a good father, at least in my estimation, but I am certain that my daughter would agree. In fact, I know that she wold. I am 100% certain of that, just as I am 100% certain that there is nothing that I could ever do (say, write) that wold make him love me less. Piss him off? Sure. But love me less, not on your life. I’d bet the cat on that one.

As for my daughter, she is a funny, intelligent, independent young woman who makes me proud to call her mine every single damn day. Even on the days when she is driving me crazy. (And there have been a good number of those days!)

She is competent. She is headstrong. She is snarky. She loves animals. Ditto for Beyonce. She hates injustice and intolerance in all its forms. She is both a feminist and a humanist.

She loves a bargain, but is also one of the most generous people you will ever  meet. She is fiercely loyal, both as a daughter and as a friend. I, and countless others, can bear witness to that statement.

How can I not respect the wishes of these two? The answer is simple: I must. Because they would do if for me.

Peace out. (But just for today, tomorrow when and if you tune in, I may have a thing or three to say about the undercelebrated but always relevant legume.)

 

 

 

The 12 Things Fangette Needs For College

12thingsfangetteneedsforcollege

If I were the type of mother who tucked handwritten notes into her kid’s lunch box or if my daughter, the delightful Fangette, was the type of kid who would read such a thing, I’d pack the following list into the suitcase that’s sitting on her bed — the one that’s bound, in just a few short days, for her new digs on a college campus six hours away. I’m not that mother, she’s not that kid. As there is a much better chance that she’ll read the list if I post it here than if I stuff it in with her winter socks, I’ve compiled what I’m calling “The 12 Things Fangette Needs For College”. Feel free to substitute any name for “Fangette” if you find that this list appeals to your “Ashley”, your “Sara” or, horror of horrors and shame on you!, your “Gertrude”. Perhaps, if you have the kind of kid that will appreciate such a thing, stick it in with her mittens, let her run across it as she’s heading to class one cold, snowy morning.

And then, go ahead and have a nice cup of coffee and a good cry. I know that’s what I’m going to do.

THE 12 THINGS FANGETTE NEEDS FOR COLLEGE

1. Big Girl Panties
You may need two pairs of these, they tend to get hole-y when they get in a bunch. And they will get in a bunch, possibly as a result of the roommate who doesn’t understand that you need an open window in order to sleep or who does not share your love of the HBO dramedy “Girls”, or the professors who think theirs is the only damn class you’re taking, or even the realization that dining halls do not stock an endless supply of romaine lettuce. Put them on every day and go out into the world and behave like the adult that we have raised you to be. You’ll be fine. Call me if you’re not. I’m always awake.

2. Common Sense
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts in life. You can shave a few minutes off a task here and there, but life, unlike traffic, is about going through, not skirting around. Don’t get frustrated. Enjoy the ride.

3. Wariness
You are very good at sizing people up. You have surrounded yourself with good friends here at home — friends that love you, friends that look out for you (and vice versa) — continue this practice while you are away. It will serve you well.

4. Time Management Skills
There will always be a party. Conversely, there will also always be a test that you should be studying for or a paper you should have gotten cracking on yesterday. Strike a balance here.

5. Sense of Humor
You’ve got a wicked one. Use it. Don’t take everything so seriously. Again, it’s about balance here, kiddo.

6. Selfishness
This one will be difficult, as it is antithetical to who you are. You are always the first person your friends call when they’re in a bind. I’m not saying NOT to help people, but keep in mind that your time and your energies will be important to your success. Keep your guard up for people who will look to squander those things. They won’t have your best interests at heart.

7. Moral Compass
You have on more than one occasion demonstrated that you know right from wrong. Always choose to do right. If doing so has consequences, so be it. Hopefully you’ll be wearing your big girl panties when and if you find yourself in a moral quandary.

8. Emergency $20
In cash. Always, and I mean, ALWAYS have this with you. You never know when or in what circumstances you may need it. If you use it, replace it. Always have it, though. Always. Tow truck drivers and cabbies always appreciate a nice cash tip.

9. Self-Respect
Do not leave home without this. Do not surrender who you are or forget why you are where you are or, more importantly, what got you there because some cute “love ’em and leave ’em” type gives you the old heave-ho or you bomb a big test. Heartbreak happens. Failure is a given. They’re both part of life. Don’t go running after some loser. Study harder next time. Don’t despair. Move along. Someone better will come along. If you work hard, you’ll pass the next exam. Keep your eyes on the prize. Use the Emergency $20 and buy yourself some good quality ice cream.

10. Mental Trampoline
Keep in mind that a chick flick, a good cry, and pint of chocolate chip mint will, in moderation, solve a whole host of problems. Setbacks are bound to occur. You’ll rebound. Your mental trampoline is in good condition. Know that it’s perfectly acceptable, once in a while, to take a couple of hours, retreat from the world, and indulge in this passive, but worthwhile, activity. It may be just what you need to face the world tomorrow. Wild parties, binge drinking, and sexual escapades might sound like a cure for what ails you, but they won’t be. (I’m fairly certain that you know this already.) Stick to the ice cream and the movie. Watch “The Notebook”, I know you love that one. Or, if you’re feeling nostalgic, pop in “The Sound of Music”. We always enjoyed watching that one together. Comfort food and a good movie never left anybody hung over — or worse. You can always run off the ice cream pounds. Pregnancy weight and beer guts are much harder to shed. So, too, is that image you’ll have of yourself standing half-clothed on a frat house table with a lampshade on your head.

11. Fearlessness
You have a tendency toward reticence. This is a time to try new things. Not all of these things need to involve tequila. Although I’m sure there will be a few margaritas in your future, go easy on the tequila. It’s a hallucinogen, not to mention that it is, by far, the nastiest hangover you will ever experience. That being said, I would encourage you to seek out opportunities for fulfillment. Don’t stand on the sidelines making snarky comments — make the snarky comments while participating in the activities — safe activities like Quidditch or syrup-making come to mind. Or quilting. Quilting can be loads of fun. Quilting circles are known far and wide for their riotous banter.

If these things don’t appeal to you, keep in mind that you’ll be in a place where the cows outnumber the people. (Remember that fun fact?) Do something with animals — and not just the animals that live in the frat houses — real animals, the four-legged kind that you enjoy so very much. Just a word of caution on the cows, though — I read yesterday that there are more people (over 100!) killed every year in unfortunate bovine accidents than there are folks who perish as a result of shark attacks. Lake Champlain is probably free of sharks, but do keep your wits about you where the cows are concerned. Stay in front of them if you can.

12. The Knowledge That Your Parents Love You — No Matter What
I would hope that you have always known this, but it bears repeating. Win or lose, succeed or fail, through thick and through thin — we have survived. We’ve done so partly because that’s just what we do. It is who we, as a family, are. Mainly, though, we’ve managed to tackle life’s challenges together because we love each other. We are, all of us, flawed, imperfect creatures. Still, we’ve never given up on each other. I cannot imagine that we ever will.

Nor can I think of a single thing, not one single thing, that you could ever do that would cause either your father or me to stop loving you. Not one single thing. Not ever. While living with you has not always been a picnic, particularly during these last few years of adolescence, you have never failed to make us proud — of your academic success, of your athletic prowess, and of your social graces. As you’ve gone out into the world we’ve always gotten, as Grammy Rose used to say, “good reports” — about the qualities that make you “you” — your kindness, your intelligence, your generosity, and, of course, your quick wit. I have witnessed the joy that your laughter and your radiant smile brings to others. That’s a rare gift that you have there. Keep using it. Keep smiling. Keep laughing. Keep on being you. You’ll be just fine.

If you’re not fine, tell us. We’ll help you through it. Really. We will. You know we will. Remember, I’m always awake.

If I Become Lost…

If I Become Lost

A friend revealed the latest in what I’ve come to think of as a “Menopausal Miscue” — those moments that we’ve come, if not to expect, at least to be less troubled by in these, our advancing years. I chuckled when she recounted being lost, without her cell phone, in the parking lot of a rest area on a recent road trip that she and her teenage son embarked upon over the Thanksgiving holiday.

She confessed to feelings of panic and concern. She wondered just how long she’d have to roam the lot before he worried and set off to find her. Her confidence that he would launch a search at all was pretty impressive and it’s what I’ve chosen to take from her story.

I suppose if The Fanganini’s were out on the road, in strange environs, my absence for any extended period of time might raise a red flag. I’d like to think that either Fang or Fangette might come looking for me. I wouldn’t bet on it, though. Unless they were hungry. Or in need of money.

I’ll guarantee that precious minutes would be lost — minutes where I could fall deeper into the ravine — the one that I’d slipped into as I sought the higher ground, as those survival shows always advise you to do, in an attempt to “get my bearings” in an unfamiliar place — while they played a few rousing rounds of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” — you know, to see which one would be forced to begin the search.

I would certainly hope that this is where I’d be. Falling into a ravine would make for a far better story than the more likely reality — that I had somehow become locked in a Port-O-Potty. (Isn’t that everyone’s worst nightmare?)

Whether at the bottom of a ravine or inside a portable lavatory, I’d still need rescuing. Dehydration would probably set in while Frick and Frack flipped coins, drew straws, and argued about which one of them would leave the comfort of the car to make even a perfunctory effort to find me.

My husband would, no doubt, be bitching about how I probably ran into a long-lost friend out here, in the middle of nowhere. (“Your mother sure can talk! I’ll bet she ran into someone she knows. Somehow she knows someone everywhere we go. Even out HERE. IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!”) He’d be cursing me out, moaning about how I have no consideration, how I can’t ever stop yakking! He’d be lamenting about how my “pulling this stunt” has ruined the “good time” we had been making on our journey. (What is it about men and car trips? Suddenly mine becomes uncharacteristically goal-oriented. If only he could apply this same vigor to vacuuming!)

I really hope I’m in the ravine. He’ll feel really bad about making his blabbermouth comments then, that’s for sure!

As for my daughter, the lovely Fangette, she might get ten feet from the car, realize that she’s now in a Wi-Fi hotspot and use the opportunity to catch up on the twenty-seven text messages and nineteen pictures of cats that she missed in the fifteen minutes she was out of cell tower range — those precious minutes he was stretched out along the back seat and I was in the bottom of a muddy ditch.

It’s difficult to look for missing persons while texting and LOLing.

If I was them, I’d just hope that I was locked in the Port-O-Potty because the chances are good that if I had become entangled in some wooded environment, there’s a good chance that I’d have broken something. And then what would they do? Who would cook, clean, and do the laundry? Don’t even get me started on the vacuuming.

I’m glad my friend shared her story with me. I’m going to consider it a cautionary tale. I’m thinking, for purposes of safety, that we’d all better stay together in rest stops from now on — to guard against the possible memory glitches that I’ve come to associate with menopause.

Together, I hope that they can help me to avoid the dangers of faulty Port-O-Potty locks and the pitfalls of slippery ravines. Barring this, I could just obtain one of those vuvuzela horns and stick it in my bag. I imagine that thing could be heard even from the bottom of a ravine.

Go Ahead, Get Your Own Blog — I Dare Ya!

nablo13daytwentynineThanksgiving is a day when we take the opportunity to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. I used the day in this way. I also used it to catch up with what my extended family members are getting up to and to relearn the names of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My husband, on the other hand, chose to use his day of thanks in a somewhat different manner. Yesterday, my husband, the much put-upon, Fang, served up — in much the same way that he doled out the pie — several small slices of resentment, topped with a few savory dollops of bitterness.

We got on the topic of social media. I was commenting about how much I enjoyed keeping up with some of the family members on Facebook — watching the kids grow, discovering who had changed jobs, living vicariously through my cousin’s fabulous vacations, you know, that sort of thing. Mostly I chit-chatted idly with folks I don’t see that often anymore. I think I said something like how grateful I was for Facebook and other social media sites that allow me to feel a part of everyone’s life.

My Uncle had a decidedly different take on the Facebook phenomena. He was lamenting how, as a result of his wife’s Facebook page, nothing that he ever does is private — right down to where he has dinner on a Friday night, how much he won (or lost) in the weekly football pool, and why one might want to avoid him following his and the dog’s latest tangle with a backyard skunk. I got the sense that he wasn’t as big fan of the Facebook as I am.

During the course of the conversation my husband found an opportunity to do a bit of his own kvetching. He laughed and rolled his eyes as my Uncle regaled us with tales of his wife’s Facebook “antics” (his word!). My husband saw fit at this juncture to “warn” my Uncle about saying “too much” around his niece. (That would be me.) Fang explained to my Uncle that while the odd Facebook status update might prove slightly embarrassing, it couldn’t hold a candle to the blog post in terms of length, breadth, or depth.

Fang went on to explain how there are now — thanks to my blog —- any number of strangers out there (“they could be anybody!”) who know how many pairs of shoes he owns, his affinity for reality television, and how often he uses the word “stupid”. Fang doesn’t normally say much, but he was on a roll AND he wanted sympathy — a deadly combination!

He and my Uncle seemed on the verge of hatching a plan of their very own — a plan that included telling the world about the wives’ poor eating habits, redecorating failures, and all of the other wacky things the two of us are wont to engage in. I suppose they were doing this in an effort to staunch the creative outlets we have discovered, hers through Facebook, mine through blogging. It seems that they thought they could shame us into changing our ways.

We just laughed as we boldly challenged them to get their own Facebook pages and/or their own blogs. We’re not afraid. We know they won’t do either.

It helps that my Uncle doesn’t even know how to USE Facebook and that my husband wouldn’t know the first thing about blogging. If they put their heads together I’m sure there could be trouble, but they won’t. While an all-out internet war might prove interesting, my Aunt and I are fairly confident that it will never come to pass. Frankly, they’re entirely too busy rasslin’ skunks and “Squatchin'” vicariously to get up to any such thing.

We’re From “THE Metropolitan Area” — So There!

NOT my grandmother, but it'll have to do until I find a pic of her!

NOT my grandmother, but it’ll have to do until I find a pic of her!

The other day I found myself engaged in a lively discussion on a subject that I know very little about. Having no idea what I’m talking about has never kept me — or, for that matter, anyone else in my family — from expressing an opinion. I come from a long line of blowhards confident people. We are very adept at making shit up as we go along. You might say that we have a genetic predisposition for stridency and bullshit. We also have, thanks to my maternal grandmother, a great conversation ender — which comes in very handy for those times when we know that we’re in over our heads.

My grandmother, Eileen, when confronted with indisputable facts contrary to one of her many long held and —sorry Eileen — often misguided opinions, would, when she was backed into a corner, invoke something that we’ve come to think of as “The Metropolitan Area Rule”. Basically, she would respond to well-reasoned arguments and facts by saying, “We live in ‘THE Metropolitan Area’! We know a thing or two about THAT!”

“THAT” could be the proper way to trap a bear, which, let’s face it, folks in “metropolitan” areas likely know little to nothing about. No matter the subject, if you weren’t one of us — a fellow denizen of “the metropolitan area” — and you disagreed with Eileen, you were wrong. You could be a twenty-year veteran of the National Parks Service and an accredited forest ranger, but if your methods of bear trapping were not in keeping with Eileen’s idea of what bear-trapping entailed, you were in for a fight. In the end, you were going to throw your hands up in surrender, which to some might indicate a draw, but not to my grandmother. To my grandmother, surrender was a win.

For the record, and in my grandmother’s intractable opinion, THE metropolitan area was New York City and its adjacent communities. Nowhere else on Earth counted. Not London. Not Paris. Not Chicago. And certainly NOT L.A. My grandmother held The City of Los Angeles AND all of its inhabitants directly responsible for the defection of The Brooklyn Dodgers. To her way of thinking, they’d also “stolen” Sinatra. God help the Los Angeleno that crossed HER path.

I remember her engaging in a lively debate with an ITALIAN on the proper way to make spaghetti sauce. The fact that my grandmother made the world’s worst spaghetti sauce, made this particular exchange more than just mildly entertaining. The ridiculousness of it wasn’t lost on her, either, but, God love her, she soldiered on — invoking, in the end, not only her long history of rubbing elbows with Italian-Americans — a history that was news to anyone who truly knew her — but also reminding this person — a person who may or may not have hailed from the metropolitan area of Rome or Naples or Genoa — that she was from “THE metropolitan area” and, therefore, could not possibly be wrong about, well, pretty much anything.

Her spaghetti sauce — and really I’m playing fast and loose by calling it that — but it was a viscous liquid that she served over spaghetti, so I don’t know what else to call it — was terrible. It is difficult to describe, but I’ll try to give you some idea of what it looked like — I’d prefer not to discuss what it tasted like. It looked more like brown gravy with some tomato flavoring and specks of what I assume were dried oregano flakes floating on the top. In addition to the smattering of something tomato-y (I suspect it was ketchup), this culinary masterpiece also contained a very healthy amount of oil. She must have added the oil because the sauce did not contain anything — like sausage or ground beef — that would have generated any fat in the cooking process. It literally ran over the pasta — leaving a pool of brownish-red stuff around the edges — the only part of this sauce that was left clinging to the macaroni were the little beads of oil.

Eating it was an adventure in and of itself — one that required some careful planning and no small amount of skill. Over the years I discovered that the best method was to stab at the vermicelli, twist it around my fork, and steady it with another utensil (or my finger) so that I could dip it around the edges of my dish — where the sauce had migrated — and then, eventually, bring it up to my mouth. Some of us — the ones with damaged palettes, but intrepid natures — abandoned the double utensil method altogether. He or she (and usually it was my grandfather who employed this method) would just grab a slice of Wonder bread from the stack (Wonder bread was served as an accompaniment to almost every meal back in the ’70s), load it up with spaghetti, fold it over, mop up some sauce with the makeshift sandwich, and eat it that way — disgusting, yet brilliant. And, I daresay, far less messy than my method.

You just could not manage to eat this stuff without splattering bits of oil all over your peasant blouse. It was almost impossible, strategic napkin placement notwithstanding, to get through a plate of it without at least one forkful landing on your dungarees. You’d have needed to eat covered in a butcher’s apron to avoid at least one oil stain on your clothing. We were lucky we had paper napkins, let alone a butcher’s apron.

I tell you all of this not to defame her character, but so that you might have a better understanding of how ridiculous it was for my grandmother to enter into any discussion with anyone — ever — on the topic of spaghetti sauce preparation. But, she did. Of course she did. I’m just as ridiculous sometimes. This penchant we have — me and my family members — for talking out of our asses is genetic. Like being brown-eyed or blue-eyed, blonde or brunette — we have little to no control over what comes out of our mouths.

It’s a gift, really, this ability to remain true to our convictions — even when those convictions fly in the face of little things called facts — facts that may well be presented to us by those with far more expertise in one area or another — bear-trapping and spaghetti sauce preparation, for example. Also, there is really no better way to put an end to an argument that you are clearly losing than by invoking Eileen’s “Metropolitan Area Rule”. People are, and rightly so, completely dumbfounded by it. Completely. Dumbfounded.

I think you’d have to agree that uttering such a ludicrous statement really is the best way to put people off of their game and to end any conversation —ever. There is no doubt in my mind that I’m right about this. How could I possibly be wrong? After all, I’m from THE metropolitan area.

photo credit: someone else’s grandmother

Accepting Forgiveness

notperfectDrinking took me to places that a woman like me — white, middle-class, college-educated — never thought she’d be. Renter’s court. Criminal court. You know, THOSE kinds of places. At the time I thought that the world was against me. And so, to combat the world, I drank more. It’s what alcoholics do.

I almost lost everything. EVERYTHING. I am still, over four years later, putting many of the pieces of my shattered life back together. A few of them I just swept up and tossed in the trash, like the “friends” I used to drink with and the bars I used to frequent. Those pieces, the ones that don’t matter, the ones that never should have mattered, were easily discarded.

The relationships that do matter, that should have mattered more, those fractures are not so easily fixed. Cobbling them back together may take a lifetime. Regaining the trust that the people closest to me lost while I was lost in whatever bottle I could get my hands on, that’s the trickier part of recovery.

I had no idea that the actual act of giving up alcohol would be the easier part of the healing process. That the hard part would be the aftermath is not something they focus on in rehab. In rehab they tell you to put yourself first. I found this advice to be counterproductive. Because, really, that’s what addicts do, have always done — put themselves first. In order to get healthy, I needed to start putting other people first.

I needed, first and foremost, to stop feeling resentful. Instead, I needed to be grateful — to actually FEEL grateful. Grateful to the people who stood by me. Grateful for having done no irreparable physical harm to anyone other than myself. Grateful for being given the second chance that many addicts never are. Grateful just to be.

There is still not a day that goes by that I am not smacked in the face with the realization that I can NEVER have another drink. Not one single day. I don’t know if this ever ends. I don’t know that it should. I know that I must acknowledge this feeling and then I must move on from it before it incapacitates me. It’s really all I can do. There’s no magic to it. It’s just what my life is.

That’s the bad. Forgiveness is the good. Whether through words or deeds, I have managed to receive forgiveness from the people who my drinking affected most adversely. My husband. My child. They are truly special people.

And friends. The good ones. The kind ones. The generous ones. The funny ones. They persevered. They saw me through. They, too, have forgiven me.

My life is far better and infinitely richer because I am able, every day, to accept their gifts of forgiveness. And, because they have, every last one of them, given this gift so freely, I do my part by making every attempt to be a humble and grateful recipient.

photo credits:
Not perfect…

The Laundry Edict of 2013

washerdryerI’ve recently instituted a new policy here at the hovel. It’s called “Do your own freakin’ laundry!” This is a policy that I feel is self-explanatory, in that the title of the policy and the actual policy are one and the same.

If my was objective was to be obtuse, I could have used a tactic employed by governments the world over and called it something like “Revised Guidelines Regarding the Division of Labor in Relation to the Agitator-driven and Gas-generated Hot Air-blowing Machineries Located in the Basement Act of 2013”. (Be it duly noted that the RGRDLRAGHALBA, will replace the GRDLRAGHALBA, enacted the 4th day of November, 1989, which placed sole responsibility for those machineries located in the basement squarely on the shoulders of the female head of household). I could understand, had I engaged in this kind of obfuscation, why the members of my household might be confused by the new policy.

I did no such thing. To be fair, I neither consulted any of the folks that would be adversely affected by the institution of this new policy prior to enacting it nor were they given anything even remotely resembling “plenty of notice”. Unlike the government, which at least pretends at something called democracy, here at the hovel we make no such claims to democratic rule. It’s a straight up dictatorship. Sure, we aim for benevolence, but it’s not required.

I realize that I’m generously calling it a policy, rather than what it truly is — an edict. I am doing this in an effort to seem a little more, well, benevolent. Because, really, nobody likes a bitch. Further, no one has any sympathy for a lazy bitch. So, let me just assure you that this new policy does not stem from outright laziness on my part, rather the enactment of this policy was designed to light a fire under Fangette. Much like her father, who thinks that gourmet meals, such as grilled cheese and soup, just make themselves, Fangette has been operating (for quite some time) under the delusion that I enjoy spending my days hunting and gathering. More specifically, hunting for whatever item of clothing she has misplaced, but that she desperately needs in the immediate future, and gathering together that and other items, so that I can then spend untold hours of my days, weeks, and months, laundering those things that I have managed to unearth from the atrocity that is her bedroom floor. Just last week I spent close to an hour trying to uncover where in that black hole one very important (to her) lacy ecru camisole had gotten itself to. Ultimately, with a little detective work and the employment of my trusty flashlight, I was able to uncover the mystery of the missing lacy ecru camisole. It was under her bed, wedged between the never-opened telescope from the Christmas of 2008 and some outdated and, more than likely, incomplete board games. (Anyone up for a rousing game of Candyland?)

womanunderbed

That, ladies and gentlemen, was it. My dustbunny covered self decided right then and there that she, at almost 17 years old, was capable of doing her own laundry. (I also found myself wishing that the skills I have acquired throughout my many years of diving under beds and couches, rifling through discarded gym bags, and ferreting through closets to uncover lost belongings were more marketable!) When I advised Fangette of my decision to stop doing her laundry, one would have thought that I had asked her to take the old washboard off of the kitchen wall, haul her dirty clothes out back to the creek (really it’s more of a stream, but a body of water is a body of water) and bang her clothes against it with a rock. That was not my expectation at all. I reminded her that we have machines that do that sort of thing now. And that all that was required of her was that she take it down the stairs and throw it in said machinery. Believe me, she knows this. She’s a smart kid. She’s been watching me do it for years.

Thus far the peasantry, as I have come to think of Fangette, has resisted The Laundry Edict of 2013. I’m fairly certain she didn’t take it seriously — until last night, that is. Last night she came in from work and pitched an absolute fit because she had no clean clothes. A fit, mind you, that I valiantly chose to ignore. Mainly because that’s just the type of behavior one comes to expect of us lazy bitches and also because it was after 11 PM and, really, who wants to engage an angry adolescent on the heels of her five-hour movie theater concession stand shift who is in a snit about laundry? Not me, I can tell you that. Ultimately, though, the slamming of drawers and banging of doors became too much for poor old Fang who was, at this point, threatening to get out of bed and “take care of this nonsense”.

Rather than listen to the two of them duke it out (metaphorically, of course — this is, after all, a non-violent authoritarian regime), I rolled out of bed to have a “talk” with Fangette. It went rather well, considering the lateness of the hour and the mood of the participants. She made her usual circular arguments regarding her busy life (school, work, social media commitments — okay, I added that last one, but still); I listened patiently, but stuck to my guns — explaining, once again, that a large part of growing up entails being responsible for, among other things, one’s own personal hygiene, which includes clean jeans and sports bras. There were some jabs as to whether or not I had been the best role model and, I’ll admit, I haven’t always been the poster child for cleanliness and organization, but no one in this house has ever gone out into the world wrinkled or unclean on my watch.

momandteenagertalking

I left the conversation feeling like we had reached an agreement about more than just laundry. Further, we had done so calmly and in a reasonable manner. I was convinced that at least for a short while she would cooperate by obeying the edict, which gave me hope for greater things like, for example, a more harmonious household. What I didn’t count on was the possum.

possumondrivewayYeah. You read that correctly, the possum. Or opposum. I have no idea if there is a scientific difference between a possum and an opposum or whether the difference is just semantics. Here’s what I do know: A possum forced the repeal of The Laundry Edict of 2013. And, it’s all my husband’s fault.

Don’t misunderstand me, he had nothing to do with my coming face-to-face with the beady-eyed creature outside of the laundry room. Okay, maybe it was more like snout-to-shin — it wasn’t some genetically-engineered giant possum for heaven’s sakes. He can’t be blamed for the existence of the possum of the driveway or the fact that I nearly had a heart attack outside of the laundry room. No. It’s what he did with his knowledge of the possum in the backyard that ultimately led to my daughter’s adamant refusal to make use of the laundry facilities.

Listen, I get it. There’s very little that’s funnier than telling the story of your wife being surprised by the unexpected appearance of a possum. If the shoe was on the other foot and he had been the one to stumble across the possum armed only with a blue plastic Ikea bag full of clean laundry, you can bet the farm that I would have run, at something resembling world record pace, to get to my phone so that I could tell the story to whomever I could get on the horn. Once I’d stopped laughing my ass off, that is.

My only "weapon"!

My only “weapon”!

I was trying my best to keep him quiet, so as not to alert Fangette, who was in her room, supposedly studying. (Well, at least she hustled off there on that premise when I had asked for her help with dinner earlier! For all I know she’s heading up a black market gun-running operation in that hot mess she lives in.) Fangette has an uncanny ability to appear in those exact moments when she is not wanted. Tonight would prove to be no different. She burst into the living room and demanded to know what was so funny. Fangette almost never quietly appears in a room; she also rarely makes polite requests.

I attempted to play it off, to distract her with the promise of some succulent Thai chicken — to no avail. As for Fang, well, he was just obliviously ignoring my signals. He was, in fact, behaving as if he had never seen the “Shhhhh!” sign in his life.

Woulda distracted me!

Woulda distracted me!

And, honestly, he may not know what the “Shhhhh!” sign means. I don’t know what he did in school. Slept? Daydreamed? He claims to have had near-perfect attendance, which I can believe because it has carried over into his work life — Fang is one of those infuriating coworkers who almost never misses a day of work. He’s the guy that has to be told to go home when he’s sick. He’s not punctual, necessarily, but he’s reliable in that everyone knows that he will, eventually, appear at his desk. Fang is one of those people who gets points for showing up, but not necessarily for paying attention.

It’s often shocking to me what he doesn’t know. One of his favorite retorts when I am exasperated with his lack of basic knowledge on almost any subject is “if that’s true, then every little school boy would know it”. I have spent countless hours explaining to him that most little school boys do, indeed, know things like where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated (Ford’s Theater), where the Revolutionary War began (Lexington and Concord), and what Einstein is famous for (The Theory of Relativity). He is neither stupid nor was he poorly educated, he just doesn’t pay a stick of attention. I often find myself in situations where we will go to, say, a restaurant. He often says things like, “Wow! This place is great. How come we haven’t been here before?”, which leads me to enumerate not only the number of times we have been there before, but other relevant things regarding the venue, such as, which menu items we previously enjoyed and with whom we enjoyed them. Seriously. This is what I’m up against.

shhhh!Not surprisingly, Fang missed the “Shhhhh!” sign, the dagger eyes I was pointing at him, and the finger across the throat that, I think, universally signifies “shut the fuck up already!”. Fang would never make it out alive in a clandestine operation. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Fang spilled the beans about the possum. Fangette took this information and used it to her advantage. She pounced on it like the possum would have pounced on me had it not been for the giant bag of clean laundry that I very quickly managed to put between my leg and its teeth. I’ll bet you didn’t know that possums had razor-like teeth, did you? I didn’t. Generally speaking, when I think of possums I envision cute little furry things hanging by their furry striped tails somewhere deep inside of the forest while smiling. That’s right. They’re just happily hanging around. I blame this on children’s books and their infuriating need to anthropomorphize dangerous critters. And, really, it’s my own fault, given that most of my knowledge of aardvarks has been gleaned from reading or watching episodes of “Arthur”. I’ll bet, in nature, aardvarks don’t hang around with rabbits or bears and haven’t learned lessons of tolerance from rats.

Razor sharp teeth!!!

Razor sharp teeth!!!

As a result of my near-miss with the possum and my husband’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Fangette will not be venturing out to the laundry room any time soon. I hold out hope that she will, at the very least, hunt for and gather up her own clothing. I just pray that she never sees a mouse under her bed. Because if she does, whatever clothing winds up there will remain there forever. Because I won’t be going under there either. On the bright side, the mice could always use whatever discarded clothing items they find to make Cinderella a new frock. micemakingcinderellasdress

photo credits:
washer/dryer
woman under bed
mother and teenage daughter
thai chicken
possum on driveway
possum baring teeth
Shhhhh!
mice making Cinderella’s dress
blue Ikea bag