Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wherein I randomly connect HGTV, 1970s Soap Operas and footwear.

In the old days, they didn’t have home improvement television shows, so if you were interested in interior design or remodeling or were just particularly nosy and wanted to see Other People’s Houses, you had to become an Avon lady. I was a lucky child of an Avon lady, so I got to see OPH all the time, as well as be extremely informed what shape of cologne decanter (Antique car? Pheasant? Steam engine?) each man in my small town was getting for Christmas/Father's Day/Arbor Day etc. I still kind of wonder how thrilled the farmers weren’t on Christmas morning, hoping for some shiny manly thing they saw in the Cabela’s or Wards catalog, but EmmaClaire and little LukeLeroy hand over a thick glass tractor bottle with a plastic lid where the exhaust should be and 6 oz. of Wild Country cologne inside…but I digress.

Some day I’ll tell you all about how wrapped presents sitting around simply Make. Me. Nuts. I don’t care who they’re for, I really just need to know what’s inside. I remember a particularly impossible holiday season where I was stuck at home sick on a sofa while my mother folded laundry with soap operas on in the background. Each show had a tree loaded with presents…that had NOTHING to do with the storyline. No one was even TALKING about the presents. I kept squawking at my mother through inflated tonsils about it, and she didn’t know what was in the boxes, and eventually the episode would end without ANYONE even opening them or anything. I’d force myself to stay awake the next day to see if someone opened them, no dice. Eventually, Christmas passed and instantly both the trees and presents were gone and no one on the shows seemed to give a shit about it or even mention, “Oh Dr. Thad, thank you for the lovely mink stole that you put in the big square box with gigantic bow! It’s perfect!” Finally, my mother broke it to me that very probably, they were empty boxes just wrapped to look like presents, and no one was EVER going to open them. EVER. Gives me hives thinking about it to this day.

Again with the digression. Back to home improvement television. Do you know that you’re supposed to be barefoot when painting walls? I am not sure who I learned this from, some very talented television designer no doubt…One of the ones that can do things with 48 hours and $200 bucks that a normal person needs 9 permits, 8 months and a second mortgage for. The theory is you’ll feel wet paint on your foot and therefore not track it everywhere like you would if you had shoes on. These are the types of tips I file away and rarely use, but dole them out to others as if I made them up. Anyway, I was painting recently AND wearing some of my very favorite and adorable Sundance leather sneakers (the red ones) so I took off my shoes to avoid dripping on their cute suede toes. I then prided myself for remembering the valuable tip about the paint tracking like that was the ingenious reason I’d removed them. I painted an entire room, and then, wanting to be clever AND tidy, I tippy toed all barefoot to the kitchen to clean the roller…completely forgetting that our pal (Hi Bobby!) had been in there all day cutting granite tiles.

Here’s a factoid Ty Pennington has never once mentioned on Trading Spaces or Let’s Build a House in Two Days for People who Probably Won’t Take Care of It Because They Certainly Didn't Take Care of Their Last One: granite tiles + tile saw = MILLIONS OF LITTLE GLASS-LIKE SHARDS. Made of granite.

They’re all about the eye protection on HGTV, but not once has anyone said, “Oh, and hey - make sure you you’ve got shoes on when you’re redoing countertops!” Good news is that these glasslike shards are thin, yet strong! Like nature’s own needles. You can’t even feel them until there’s about a dozen of ‘em all ready in ya! Handily though, they do eventually break off, at least the part sticking out does. The centimeter or so that’s in your foot, well, in ain’t going nowhere.

So I’ve got a zillion or so in there, or at least three, and it’s been a couple of weeks and even though the Big Dude with Little Glasses says they’ll fester out, they’re not festering. I really tend to believe him on this, though, because if you ever met some of his ancestors you’d understand that he knows A LOT about festering. I shouldn’t complain, because my foot really only hurts when I step on it. Or move my toes. Or go down stairs. Or drive. Or bump it with anything. The only relief – ironically - is wearing the cute sneakers. (Thanks, Bob Redford! Guess if I like you more than Ty Pennington?)

I am a little worried that the promised festering might occur whilst wearing cute sneakers, but it’s a chance I’ve got to take.

Friday, November 21, 2008

May I help you?

I generally avoid drug stores as fervently as I avoid Las Vegas, but since I recently sucked it up and went to Vegas because of an event being held there, I figured I could handle the brand-spanking new Walgreens near our house. When I was younger (like 8) I loooved drugstores. They had all kinds of things that were either in my price range (49 cents) or at least not so expensive that I couldn’t beg my mom for them (99 cents). From smelly lotions to cough drops, crayons, and chapstick to cheap toys on cardboard backers, drug stores rocked my pre-adolescent world. Now I recognize they’re just a depressing, fluorescently-lit club for old people. Really old people. Who like to discuss nickels. And prescriptions. And how young people suck. Now that I think of it, trade out the fluorescent for neon, and Vegas has a lot in common with Walgreens.

Necessity called, though, so I steeled myself for easy listening instrumentals, lineoleum and well-worn citizens with time on their hands and their ailments on their minds.

I ducked in without being seen by anyone I knew or security cameras, found what I needed, and was about to make an escape to the register, when two ladies in walkers approached me. I already knew what they would say. Since the age of 15, I’ve somehow had the look of a retail worker who is slacking off. It doesn't matter if it's a grocery store or Neiman Marcus, auto parts shop or ski rental outlet. I can be wearing a coat or hair curlers, carrying a purse or an infant, it doesn’t matter. Some person is going to walk up slightly irritated and ask me, “Excuse me? Do you work here?” with a tone that says, “Oh yeah, I know you work here, and I just caught you ignoring customers and filling up that cart with items! Gotcha. Now help me, dammit.”

So, my elderly pals rolled on up side by side, completely blocking the aisle and trapping me. One of them asked me the question. I answered, “No ma’am. I’m sorry. I don’t. Can I help you find someone that does?” Which I thought was pretty big of me considering their scowls.

They looked at me with disgust, knowing full well that I was in fact LYING to them boldface, that yessir, I did too work there and I was just trying to avoid doing something helpful. Damn youth of this generation. Don’t know how easy they’ve got it. You know what we’d have done to score a fancy job in a Walgreens? But back then, women weren’t allowed out of the home to have ultra luxurious high powered Walgreens jobs. We had to stay home and sit under giant hair dryers and drink rob roys and listen to vacuum cleaner salesmen interrupt The Edge of Night.

They thought all of that. I swear to you. But what one of them said was, “Where are the Christmas cards?” And not in a sweet Aunt Bea sort of way. More in a mean, Dieting Lunch Lady sort of a way. Since we happened to be standing in the card aisle, I said slowly, “Ummm. Well, probably right around here somewhere…?” while pointing all around us.

To which Gladys Evelyn Whooserass replied, “No. Not these. Where’s the ones on sale?”

Now too damned deep to get out of it, and still trying to remain somewhat helpful, I said, “Oh, did you see an ad or something?”

Matilda Maybell Whatserbucket scolded me. “NO. We did NOT "see an ad” miss. We are just not going to pay these kinds of prices for Christmas cards! Now, show us where the clearance ones are!”

Now, I like grouchy mean old people as much as the next person who has been evilly trapped by them, but I was growing weary of them. I quickly gave a little bitty lecture on supply and demand, pricing and promotion, the Gregorian calendar, the officially recognized date for Christmas, the current date, and suggested that maybe, just maybe, the Christmas cards would not actually be put on clearance sale until AFTER Christmas.

They looked at me with complete contempt. Then, Matilda turned to Gladys, rolled her eyes and said, just loud enough for me to hear, “I guess we’re going to have to find them OURSELVES.”

And that is why I will only shop on-line for the next 30 years. After that, I’m rounding up some buddies and hanging at the Walgreen’s just to annoy people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Spellcheck thinks "otherside" is two words, but I don't care.

Hey kids…you know what today is? You bet you do. It’s Haiku Thursday, officially the most popular day on the ENTIRE INTERNET! At least in public middle schools in Whyoming anyway. And, yup, that misspelling is completely intentional.

The last winner of Haiku Thursday is Old Dude Thick Glasses. Otherwise known as my dad. He wins for going the extra mile and completing a multi-stanza’ed entry, as well as really getting out of his comfort zone, since he usually prefers a much more sophisticated type of poetry. Specifically, the limerick.

So, congratulations ODTG. Your prize shall be school pictures of your grandsons.

This week’s haiku topic will be: sleeping. And that is because while I was sleeping very early this morning, dreaming of, I’m not kidding, sleeping, I was awakened by Evil Paperguy, who likes to park his Cutlass under our open window, crank his rockin' Best of Yanni CD, and then walk up and down the block tossin’ papers at steps. After he casually walked our block at his leisure and then drove away, his muffler rattling gently into the predawn fog, I attempted to regain my cozy space in slumber…and this poem came to me. Really. Right then. I was counting syllables in bed. Which is way more interesting than sheep, by the by.

Okay, here goes:

Warm bed calls to me
Otherside of pillow cools
Wearily I sink.

NOW. Here’s what’s weird. The otherside of the pillow was, in fact, NOT COOL. It was creepily uncool, as in...body temperature. Apparently, before the harbinger of Yanni appeared, I was either sleeping with an arm under the pillow, or, and this is the creepy part, some type of coolness-sucking creature lives in there sucking the very coolness from the otherside of my pillow. Which really freaks you out when you’re half asleep. Dreaming of sleep. And Yanni. And Haiku. The shock of a warm otherside of my pillow, combined with all those other external factors woke me up to the point where I realized I ought to just forget it and get up.

Anyway – your challenge is to write me a haiku about sleeping and add it to the comments. Forbidden words: peaceful, Yanni.

Ready, set, count syllables. And no, Old Dude, I do not know how many syllables are in “zzzzzzz.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Absorbent.

I told you here about the efforts of my third grader to upgrade the butt-wipe in his elementary school bathrooms. Think back on that while I relate this most recent story from the hallowed halls and playgrounds of his school...

Seems all the third grade boys at his school play a game called “Blocking.” This is a football skill, and no-it-is-not-either-tackling, it is blocking, which is sort of like one-on-one red rover, only not, because as you all know, RED ROVER IS DANGEROUS and is NOT ALLOWED. KIDS COULD DIE FROM RED ROVER.

So, they’re blocking and running into each other like always, only one day last week this little short weenie kid loses and gets knocked down. He proceeds to go totally batshit on my 8 year old, known by all as Pete, scratching and clawing at him like a crazed feral kitten. My boy came home with gouges on his face and reported that the Napoleon Syndrome-afflicted moron who apparently cannot handle the game had been screaming “I’m gonna rip your eyes out...I'm gonna rip your nose off” as he whacked at my intelligent and good-looking child’s cute little face. Which kinda makes me wonder what the hell this kid watches on TV? Because I'm thinking he should seek out some WWF or Cage Fights, and lay off the Hello Kitty.

Anyway, here comes the good part. When he told Big Dude about the whole ordeal Pete said, with teeth and fists clenched, eyes squinting in absolute fury, looking and sounding not unlike Clint Eastwood in Fist Full of Dollars except he didn't have a backwoods smoke: “Dad. I want to t.p. his house. With the really thick stuff. Will you help?”

Considering the level of importance he bestows upon high-quality toilet paper, that’s some serious level of pissed-offness. So, I'm off to buy cigars and triple ply Charmin for the kid. I knew that school directory of student addresses would come in handy someday.

Current Events.

Headline from the Nixa, Missouri newspaper: “Missing Boy Found Under Bed.”

In the article we learn, "A missing Nixa boy is safe at home Oct. 15, after searchers looked for several hours before finding the youngster under his bed."

Umm. I don't want to assume anything about this family, but I'm thinking either they aren't the brightest knife in the shed, or maybe, THEY WEREN'T LOOKING VERY HARD.

Seriously, isn't "under the bed" like the first place you look for anything? And, it took them "several hours" to think of it? In fact, instead of looking under the bed, they chose to alert authorities instead.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cut and Paste.

One of the best creepy stories I know I learned in a graphic design class. Creepy stories in graphic design classes generally all revolve around the X-Acto knife. My favorite is one wherein a man was up late at night pasting together a layout in a print shop. Oh, sorry. For you kids out there who didn't understand anything I just said…Go watch an episode of Bewitched, and when Darren is at work with big sheets of paper and markers and light tables, you’ll totally get it. An X-Acto knife is kind of like the “crop” icon in Photoshop, only it’s razor thin, three dimensional, and super sharp. Imagine a tiny razor-sharp knife on the end of a pencil.

Anyway – so this guy is holding his tiny razor-sharp knife on the end of a pencil in his right hand when the phone rings. This gets weirder..,his phone is permanently ATTACHED TO THE WALL and he had to get up and walk over to it. So, he gets up and walks over to the phone, but Caller ID hasn’t been invented yet, so he totally cannot tell if he’s should answer it or now or not. He’s all “maybe its my boss” or “maybe it’s my wife,” and he’s totally distracted from the whole getting upness and from Caller ID not being invented yet, and he picks up the receiver (that’s the talky/listeny part) and brings it up to his face WHILE THE KNIFE IS STILL IN HIS HAND.

And he completely stabs himself in the eye. Grody, huh?

Two parts I’ve always been curious about. 1) Did it stay in there and he had to pull it out? Like, if he put his hand down, would it be sort of flopping around? And, 2) Who was calling? Because I wonder if it was someone he knew well so he could be all, “OW. I totally stabbed my own eye just now, ow, seriously, help me, but don’t call 911 because it hasn’t been invented yet,” or, if it was the client calling who was waiting for his paste-up because the newspaper needed the ad and so the guy with the knife in his eye had to act calm and reassuring and say, “Oh, hey, Bill. Yep, we’re almost done here, buddy. Oh, it’s lookin’ great, I’ll tell you that! You are gonna sell some sofas this weekend!” WHILE EYE GOO IS SPURTING ON HIS HAND, THE PHONE AND ALL OVER THE SUNDAY "SOFA CITY" CIRCULAR.

Skip forward a little bit and you learn the guy is now resets bowling pins for a living and is nicknamed Patch, and everytime someone asks him about his past, he looks off into the distance (with one eye) and says, "Arrg," (because he was afflicted with pirate-speech the minute the patch went on), "Damn that Adobe corporation for inventing Photoshop 20 years too late to save me eye."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Haiku Thursday.

It's that time again...the most exciting day on the Internet!

Please remember to comment in haiku. The best comment I get will win a fabulous prize. Okay, not really. It will just be some kind words of praise on a blog with tens of readers. Oh, and I might send you some dryer sheets if I get around to it. (But not that kind with the little bear on it, he creeps me out.) Because this week's topic is....

Forbidden words: Agitator, Lint Trap

Okay. Here's mine:

Polyester sock
Tumbling in the dryer's heat
Damn you, static cling.

Alrighty then. It's your turn.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Civic Duty.

I don’t really like to talk about politics. I’m a good citizen and all, but arguing about policy with friends or pounding signs into an otherwise healthy lawn has never really appealed to me.

This is different. It’s just too important, and really involves all Americans on a very basic level. From Joe the Plumber to Big Oil, this issue is really at the bottom of all humanity. It affects each and every one of us. But it especially affects my eight year old, and he is the one who brought it to my attention.

Our boy Pete was recently elected to Student Council Representative of the Third Grade (B). That “B” is for his political party, which is Boy. There is also a (G). Apparently, they have very different priorities and thus require separate but equal representation. He’s understandably very proud of his position, and looks forward to weekly meetings over lunch where he’s been issued his Very Own Binder in which he takes diligent notes.

Thus far, the group has organized several spirit days (Wear Your Clothes Backwards!) and has purchased some new playground balls. But Pete has higher aspirations. He wants to solve problems. And, today, I bring to you one of the biggest issues facing his school.

They need way Softer Toilet Paper.

It seems the toilet paper at school is scratchy and (ahem) rather thin. My son argues that students either a) avoid using the facilities, or b) use MORE toilet paper than they would a higher quality, softer version because of the THIN-NESS. He states that softer and thicker toilet paper would be beneficial for the environment AND school budgets, since less would be used. The benefits to his constituency are obvious. And, since he realizes that this year’s janitorial supplies have likely already been purchased, a SOFT THICK TOILET PAPER DRIVE is in order.

Won’t you help the children? A roll or two of the good stuff from a few dozen folks will really benefit the bottom line, if you know what I’m saying.

Please send your extra rolls to:
Bromwell Elementary School
C/O Student council TP Drive
Attention Third Grade Representatives
2500 East Fourth Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80206


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