Friday, August 22, 2014

995. Meat Vs. Quiet Comfort of Your Own Home

The mystery person pounded on the door.  It was the kind of knock only the UPS guy does, or maybe Fedex.  I was not expecting a package, but the knock said I must have one. 

I opened the door and saw a salesperson.  I glanced behind him and saw his truck:  “Meaties.” 

“Hello,” he began cheerfully, “Have you ever heard of Meaties?” 

I had not heard of Meaties, but from the looks of it, he was selling frozen meat door-to-door. 

I did the only thing I could:  “I’m vegetarian.” 

He looked crestfallen, like a child expecting Christmas when it is already January. 

“Sorry,” I added, an afterthought. 

“Your whole family?”


“Even your husband?” 

“I’m gay.” 

I’m not really gay (although I think gay people are wonderful and wish I had more gay friends) and I am not really vegetarian.  I am just extremely morally opposed to people trying to sell me things when I am basking in the comfort of my own home taking a break from blatant consumerism.   

“I don’t believe you.” 

About which part?  The vegetarian or the gay?

“It’s true.  My whole family is vegetarian.”  Here I almost added “vegan,” but thought better of it. 

He gave me a blank stare. 

“I shut you down, huh?” I inquired, stating the obvious. 

“Yeah,” he shrugged. 

I suddenly felt obligated to throw him a bone (so to speak):  “My neighbors LOVE meat!”  I pointed to their house for emphasis. 

“Have a good evening,” he murmured, defeated. 

Ahhh, Meaties.  They don’t stand a chance.  Now if someone just knocked on my door with a truck called “Chocolate-ies.” 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

994. Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

I recently wrote about my face not cooperating with my brain and now my feet are apparently in on the mutiny:  yesterday I fell while walking.

Notice I don’t say “while skateboarding” or “while bungee jumping” or some equally glamourous or athletic endeavor.  Nope.  Walking. 

Let me set the complicated scene.  Daytime.  My front yard.  Walking at a normal pace (not running) toward my car parked out front.  Accompanied by my kids (because let’s face it:  there are always witnesses to help record life’s embarrassments and retell them in excruciating detail after the fact).  I made the critical mistake of stepping off the curb when suddenly my rebellious left ankle chose this precise moment to go out. 

I came toppling down (with a surprised, squeaky sort of grunt sound effect emanating from my nose and mouth, young witnesses later confirmed) and landed face down in a heap in the street, keys and purse strewn about the asphalt. 

I felt like I’d been pushed, or at least tripped. 

This is when my life switched into slow motion, like some sort of Matrix movie.  I lay there in a crumpled up pile for what seemed like 10 minutes (but was probably 10 seconds) evaluating what had just occurred.  Who was my assailant?  Had Tall played a cruel joke on his middle-aged mother and given me a well-timed shove?  Had Short picked up the sidewalk and shook it fiercely, like a blanket?  Had a rare earthquake just announced its presence?       

No.  My feet just did not get the memo to perform a complicated maneuver (e.g. “walk”) and therefore I fell. 

The fall was not without repercussions.  Skin was scraped.  Ego was bruised.  Blood was involved. 

The children (who are used to falling off their bikes and such) were immediately sympathetic and helpful:  “Mom!  Are you okay?”  “Do you need help?”

I pushed myself up and for the first time noticed my elderly neighbor Harriet staring at me from her front yard across the street.  Harriet is about 99 years old and has a live-in nurse. 

I did not want to alarm Harriet, so I waved and called out:  I’m all right! 

She waved back from her walker and responded, “Don’t worry, dear, that happens to me all the time.” 

I dusted myself off, got in the car with the kids and drove away, praying Harriet would not post a video of my fall on YouTube later.      


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

993. Wipe That Silly Smile Off Your Face

You look in the mirror and you realize that the edges of your mouth point down a bit, just a bit, into a permanent frown, through absolutely no fault of your own.  You force a smile.  It looks forced.  You bare your teeth.  Now you look mad instead of merely unhappy. 

You realize all those clich├ęs your mother used to say are true:  Your face is going to freeze like that.  When you’re young you have the face you were born with; when you’re old you have the face you deserve. 

You now understand why complete strangers often tell you to Smile, it can’t be that bad!  And now you tell yourself that yes, from now on, you will smile.

All the time. 

Against your will.

This is in an effort to not exacerbate the frowny lines that are currently conspiring with a few choice lines in between your eyebrows to take over your face, a face that up until 10 minutes ago you were (naively) under the assumption seemed happy to the world, or if not completely joyful then at least neutral. 

But neutral has moved to Switzerland, and THIS has happened to you. 

You examine your newly forced happy self in the mirror.  Then you panic, thinking that the happy lines may become etched and then you will look like a marionette with chiseled marks next to your lips and cheeks.  Deep enthusiastic lines of a fake happy that you do not feel, a happy meant only to replace or at least temporarily distract from the scowl that has taken up residence on your head. 

You say to yourself, I am not mad!  I am not unhappy!  But the proof is still there, laughing at you (figuratively laughing, because if a laugh were there then there would be no problem). 

But there is a problem, a big problem:  the grin looks worse than the frown.  You look like a lunatic escaped from the asylum.  Now your forehead is participating in the bliss experiment, and it is not an attractive option. 

So you go the Mona Lisa route:  subtle, soft, Zen.  Just a hint of a smile, but enough to erase the frown without a plastic surgeon being involved.  Maybe Mona Lisa was actually frowning in Leonardo’s original sketches and he said, “Hey, M.L.!  Smile, it can’t be that bad!”  And she complied, because somewhere deep inside her soul she KNEW that this portrait would hang in a museum immortalizing her for all time.  She decided the fake happy was worth it. 

You wonder if she exercised her mouth muscles in the mirror first, practicing a teeth vs. no teeth look. 

The teeth look, you conclude, is the best for you.  No one in the 40 plus years you have roamed the earth ever tells you that you have nice eyes or a perfect nose or that they love your hair; however, they do compliment you on your smile a lot. 

When you bother to smile that is. 

You step back from the mirror, trying to guage if another five feet makes a difference.  It does not. 

You are unfortunately realizing that this new Mona Lisa thing is not becoming for you either:  in fact, the gentle expression that worked so well for Da Vinci’s muse appears on you more like… a smirk. 

You go from looking unhappy or irritated to the much, much better condescending. 
Great.  If only Da Vinci were alive to paint it.  

Saturday, August 9, 2014

992. But What If No One Shows Up?

I click “Send” on the Evite and immediately regret it. 

A tsunami of doubt pummels me.  What if no one comes?  What if I am sitting in the restaurant for an hour by myself after booking a group reservation and the busboys and servers all stand in the back mocking me and placing bets on how much longer I’ll wait? 

I tell myself to stop agonizing over it, Of course people will come.  This is a group that we started 10 years ago when we had tiny babies.  We met for dinner once a month to get out of the house, away from husbands and cranky children.  The group grew from 4 to over 50 at one point, and now has shrunk back down to somewhere in between. 

I look forward to these dinners, to the comfort of being surrounded by women my age and to discussing the mundane and the profound while eating shrimp scampi that someone else cooks.  These dinners keep me sane. 

We take turns organizing, depending on who feel especially courageous.  It is my turn now.       

What if no one likes the restaurant I picked?

What if the restaurant lost our reservation?

What if the restaurant accidentally overbooked and never let me know? 

What if it rains/ snows/ hurricanes so hard that everyone cancels? 

All of these things have happened. 

Deep breath, MOV, deep breath. 

I turn the computer off, wondering if the Evite design I selected is enticing enough to get people to respond.  And then I tell myself: 

Shrimp scampi by myself is still delicious. 


Saturday, August 2, 2014

991. Pretty Shiny New

“Mom, can we go to Target so I can get a new Lego set with my birthday money?”

I know I should be doing back-handsprings of joy for an excuse to go to Target, but didn’t we have enough Legos already?  I told myself it was his money to spend how he chooses, and if that meant adding to the Lego museum that was his bedroom, then so be it. 


“Short, you have a lot of Lego sets.  What about saving the money instead?” 

Here I got a look like I had perhaps suggested he chop up his tennis shoes and eat them for lunch. 

“Save it?!  It is my birthday money!  I. Want. To. Buy. Legos.” 

I sighed.  “Why?  You have so many already.” 

“But I have already played with all those.  I want something new.”

His comment jolted me like biting into a shard of glass in the middle of a pasta casserole.  Something new.  Of course!  This was not about acquiring or not appreciating what he already had.  This was a matter of human beings being hard-wired to seek stimulation.  How is the same thing you already have and have already played with a million times stimulating?  It’s not.  We want something new.  Which explains why I never read a book twice or watch a movie twice. 

Pretty, shiny, new.  Did I need another sundress when I already had 6 hanging in my closet?  No, but I was bored with those.  I wanted to wake up my brain synapses with something new.

“I get it, Short.  We can go to Target tomorrow… do you mind if Mommy looks at a few sundresses while we’re there?”       


Thursday, July 31, 2014

990. 29 TVs and Nothing to Watch

His knock was loud and unexpected, like a stray firecracker on July 5th.  I spilled my coffee on my shirt in my clumsy attempt to get to the door.  There he stood, toolbox in hand.  I was glad he was here, but he was early. 

“My name is Omar, and I am here to install your DirectTV,” he said mechanically, like he’d probably said 5000 times before.  And then:  “Did you know you have coffee on your shirt?” 

This was actually the third technician that DirectTV had sent in two weeks, so I wasn’t in the mood to have my hygiene habits critiqued. 

“You know you are the third tech, right?” I tried not to growl. 

“No, worries, ma’am, we will get everything fixed good today.”

I was hoping his tech skills were better than his grammar (and my hygiene). 

After three hours (I know, right?  THREE HOURS????  How hard can it be?), he was finally finished. 

“I guess you probably have another call after this?” I asked unenthusiastically, trying to make pleasant conversation as he gathered up his random greasy tools that were spread all over my living room floor and had also migrated to the kitchen island. 

“Yes, two more calls.  But yours was pretty easy.  One time I had to install 29 TVs at one house.” 

I thought I heard him wrong.  Surely he must have said, “Five,” and I just couldn’t understand his accent. 

“How many?”

“Twenty-nine.”  Silence.  And then, as if for explanation:  “It was a big house.” 

“Did 29 people live there?”

“No.  Just two.” 

My mind of course raced to my own house:  where would we put 29 TVs even if we wanted them?  Let’s see:  living room, dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms, both bathrooms, study, laundry room, garage, basement, storage room… that only got me to 13.  Not even half way there.  We would have to double up in every room. 

“They never talked to each other,” Omar continued, like he knew the couple intimately, which he probably did if his track record of three hours per TV applied there:  3 x 29 = a month of living at their house installing TVs.  I wonder if they tipped him.  Or if they offered to let him stay in the guest room(s) overnight so he could get right back to work the next day(s). 

“I would never have 29 TVs,” I said haughtily.  “Who needs more than 28?” 

Omar nodded solemnly, not getting my joke.  I reminded myself to try the same joke on The Husband later to see if it was a language barrier issue or if it just wasn’t that funny. 

Tall and I had a long discussion about it later.  “Twenty-nine TVs…” he said longingly, as if he were saying, “Unlimited free Legos…”

“Where would you put them, Tall?” I demanded. 

“I would put nine clumped together on that wall,” he pointed to the largest wall in our living room.  “Then it would be exactly like the TV store, or Target.” 

This conversation was making me feel more and more judgmental.  “Let’s go to the library, Tall.  Get your shoes on.” 

He clutched at the remote, like a drowning man clutches to a life preserver.  “No.  You can’t make me.  At least let me record Phineas and Ferb.”  He clicked at the keys and the screen went black with an eerie message from the Universe:  No Signal. 

Looks like Omar would be returning once more.  I made a mental note to wear a clean shirt. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

989. Would Aliens Be Such a Bad Thing?

After that last post, I started thinking (which is never good in my case).  I sorta trashed aliens in my post title, as if it would be horrible to be rescued taken by aliens. 

Let think about this rationally for a minute, shall we? 

Benefits to being abducted by aliens: 
  • No more cooking dinner/ doing dishes (which I hate anyway)
  • Could probably catch cat nap on long journey to Mars or wherever
  • Would learn secrets of the universe
  • No more having to be fake nice to neighbor who can't remember your name (you can't remember his either, but that's beside the point)
  • No more feeling guilty about not putting all kids' photos in something resembling an album
  • Off the hook for swim team carpool

Non-benefits to being abducted by aliens:
  • Might miss new episode of Project Runway (do flying saucers get cable?)

So, I would respectfully like to re-title my last post.  Henceforth, we can refer to it as "MOV Was Not Abducted by Aliens (But Would Not Mind Too Much if That Were the Case)."