Friday, December 10, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is . . .

I am not one of those people who only wants “Peace on Earth” for Christmas. I know, I said it, it’s out there. Maybe you are that kind of person and so I say good for you, that will leave more presents for me.

Now, don’t get upset. Before you start typing up a tersely worded email and/or bomb threat, let me explain. The whole gift thing was not my idea, blame God, he started it. He is the one who put a spotlight in the sky when his son was born that basically screamed “Hey, he's over here! It’s his birthday, bring him something shiny!” And I have to say, there is a reason why the top three gift-givers at the manger were called “Wise Men.” They brought precious metals, perfume, and Myrrh. No one really knows what Myrrh is--I bet it was the predecessor of the X-Box, but I am just guessing.

And because I am all about tradition I say let us remember the birth of our Lord by giving me something fun and exciting this holiday season. Now, I know it is bad manners to ask for something specific as a Christmas present, and I am sure there is a good reason I get such lame, I mean useless, I mean interesting gifts under the tree. But, as always, I am here to help. I have searched high and low for the best gifts this holiday season and compiled them in a list. Yippee! Now you don’t have to run all over the place finding the perfect present, just sit back, relax and shop from the comfort of your computer.

The Companion Pillow: Ooooh, how I love thee, let me count the ways! It does not snore, fart, hog the covers, complain about cold feet and is always content to cuddle. And as a bonus, it has no head so there will be no dirty looks when I sleep in on Saturdays!

Gluttony Pants: These babies will come in handy around the holidays. Too much turkey, no problem. Just move that button over to "sow" and you can have an extra slice of pie and a candy cane (or two). They come in oh-so-stylish gravy colored brown. Great for hiding stains from falling toffee, crumbs of peanut brittle, spilled stuffing and splashing cider! Every pair of gluttony pants comes with a free napkin and a quadruple bypass at the hospital of your choice!

Shillelagh: Pronounced Shu-lay-lay, otherwise known as a long stick. For a mere $60 you can get a unique, one-of-a-kind gift (the website says "no two are alike")! I will use mine to lean on when I walk, point at things, smack on the ground to emphasize a point, and whack people who cut in front of me in line at Walgreens. Ooooh, wait, stop the presses! I just looked out the window and it turns out I have some sticks in my yard. I guess I already have a shillelagh. My bad.

The Stackmate: This baby will totally come in handy. It allows you to enjoy 12 of your favorite 45's in a row! For those of you that are under the age of one-hundred 45's refers to records. Round, black, vinyl discs that used to play music. I can't wait to get my hands on my own "stackmate!" Of course, it goes without saying, I will also need a time machine to take me back to 1950 so I can pick up a record player and some records!

Circulation Improving Leg Wraps: This will help improve circulation in the legs and keep you from having a heart attack, unless of course you stare directly at them and the screamin' electric blue color causes you to have a stroke instead. They will not "go" with a typical out-fit but they do coordinate with tin-foil hats, facial ticks, and anti-psychotic meds. These booties definately make a statement!

Big Knickers: In the UK they call them big bloomers, here in the U.S. we just call them giant underwear. If I am getting the gluttony pants I am going to need some super-sized undies as well. What is the point of eating until my spleen ruptures if my skivvies are cutting off my blood flow anyway? These things take granny panties to a whole new level. They come in sizes XXXXXXXXXL or big enough to fit a 100" waist. This item doubles as a car cover.

Now that you have my list, go ahead and get crackin! There are only a few more shopping days until Xmas and I can't wait to see what you are going to get me, *wink*, *wink*. If you don't have time to go pick something out, cash and credit cards are always accepted. Baby Jesus and I thank you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

On the First Day of Christmas . . .

Ahhh the holidays! Food, family, friends, suicidal thoughts . . . This year Christmas decorations were going up before Halloween. I was waiting for the marketing people to put up a nativity scene in October with baby Jesus wearing vampire teeth. If they dressed the Christ child in a diaper and wings, holding a bow and arrow they could leave the whole thing up until February. These days not everyone celebrates Christmas, but most folks celebrate something. That is why I say Happy Holidays; just like the marketing people, I think it is more inclusive and it covers all of them.

No matter what holiday is celebrated though, it seems they all require gifts. That is another requirement of the marketing people. It is like they have a meeting and decide to add another holiday on the calendar. One guy says, “Hey lets celebrate national free to be alive day.”
The other marketing guy says, “Yeah, but it isn’t really celebrating unless they have to spend money, so let’s make them pay for the air.”
And the first guy says, “What a great idea!”

The marketing people want you to panic, which is why they do those countdowns for everything. I will be in the store and see a giant sign “Only 362 more shopping days until Christmas!” What do I do? I panic and I start throwing stuff in my cart. Those guys want me to be in a perpetual state of shopping frenzy. It is enough to drive a person to the edge. I swear I am one Nerf gun away from ending it all! Ok, well maybe not ending it, but definitely leaving a really red welt on my temple. But still, you get the idea!

So anyway, for each holiday I have to do a lot of shopping. I am not a great shopper, but I do my best. Since my husband travels so much, I will sometimes ask him to pick things up for me, which is worse than just going to the mall myself. In my defense, I start by giving him very specific instructions and a list, and have him call me on his cell phone while he is at the store. I also debrief him on the specifics before he leaves the house and try to go over every possible scenario that may occur while he is at the store, but no matter what, I always get a cell phone call like this:

“Ok I am at the store and they do not have blue ones.”
“Well, he wanted a blue one.”
“They have black and red.”
“Are you sure they don’t have blue?”
“No, you are sure, or no you are not?”
“I mean they do not have any blue.”
“Did you ask a sales person?”
“Well what?”

***Noise of me screaming into a pillow*****

“What was that?!”
“Oh nothing. Why don’t you ask a sales person for help?”
“That is ok, I rummaged through the rack and I found a blue one.”
“What kind of blue is it?”
“Is it seafoam, or teal, or sky blue, or royal blue?”
“Ummmm . . . I know it isn’t navy.”
“Yes, but is it a light blue or a dark blue?”
“Well, it isn’t a bright blue.”
“Do you have something to you could compare it to?”
“You know the stars on the flag? It’s that color.”
“The stars on the flag are white. The background is blue.”
“Ok fine, it is the color of the background then.”
“Alright, I am going to take a deep breath and ask you one more question before I go shove my head in the oven and turn it on broil. You know when you are in kindergarten and you pull a crayon out of the box and it says blue on it? Is it that color?”
“Yeah! That is it exactly. And that was two questions.”
“That is the one he wants. Just go pay.”
“Are you sure you don’t need me to pick up anything else?”
“Yes, you are sure you don’t need me to buy anything else, or yes, you do need me to grab another gift?”

***Noise of me screaming into a pillow*****

So this holiday season, if you see a nativity where the Virgin Mary is wearing a green top hat and a button that reads “Kiss me, I’m Irish” just know that it wasn’t my idea.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I See Naked People/My Eyes Are Burning

Other than politics and celebrities, the evening news is mostly about the recession. Everyone is talking about saving money, or ways to cut back on spending money, or ways to earn more money. As most of you know, I am a genius, and this next idea is going to prove it. Let’s all cut way, way back; all the way back to Adam and Eve. Let’s become nudists!

We have all had to give up things for this economic down-turn. We have had to give up going out to eat, getting new cars, cell phones, cable TV; some of us have even had to give up our homes. I say let’s give up our clothes too! What we all really crave is living in a simpler time, well, now is the chance!

Now, I know what you are thinking, “This is so crazy, it just might work!” Think of all the money it would save if we didn’t have to buy clothes anymore. We would save a fortune in socks and underwear alone! Sometimes the big problems have the simplest solutions, and I can’t think of a simpler solution than everyone just getting naked. So c’mon people, America actually needs the shirt off of your back . . . for reals.

Every movement needs a slogan, so I have been brainstorming and here is what I have so far. How about: “Don’t be loathed, get unclothed!” Or how about: “The economy has flipped, let’s all get stripped!” Or maybe: “C’mon Dude, just get nude!” And lastly: “Get more sun, expose your buns!” Ok, these are just to get us going, once things really take off (pun totally intended), I am sure I can come up with something a little more catchy.

Seriously America, what else have we got to lose? We are running out of things to get rid of in these tough economic times. With most of our money, possessions and our dignity already gone, we have nothing else to lose but our clothes. In case you are still unsure of the nudist movement, I have taken the liberty of making a pros and cons list, so that the decision to go au natural will be obvious.

Easier to go through screening at the airport, no need for an x-ray and we wouldn’t have to waste time taking off our shoes.

No more sweat shops (take that Kathy Lee Gifford).

I was always told when I give a speech to “imagine everyone in the audience naked” so that I will be less nervous, now, there would be no reason to imagine.

There would now be no reason to “moon” anyone.

Some federal money might finally be allocated for finding a cure for some of the world’s most horrible diseases like: cankles, cellulite, varicose veins, stretch marks, and saddle bags.

People could shave messages and designs into their back hair.

My sisters would stop borrowing my clothes without asking.

Magazines would stop air-brushing cover models because, really, what would be the point?

A woman might finally be elected president!

Snuggies would finally go out of business.

No more surprises on blind dates, what you see is what you get!

Getting a new summer wardrobe would mean buying earrings and/or a new sweatband.

Wicker and leather furniture would finally be eradicated from the Earth!

Everyone could take turns being “streakers” at sporting events.

No more laundry!

Two words: “snow angels.”

It would be hard to find workers for the deli-counter (Hello! There is a meat slicer back there).

Parent-teacher conferences would be even more uncomfortable.

It would cause malnutrition in those around me.

Law enforcement/police officers—where does the badge go?

I have too much money invested in Spanx and control-top pantyhose to just let that dream die.

Campfires and stray sparks would be a health hazard.

There would no longer a reason to go to Vegas.

Letting people sit on my furniture would be problematic.

I cannot afford that much plastic surgery.

Back Fat/Front Fat.

I would have to shave my legs at least once a month, maybe more often.

Where would I put my change?

The words diarrhea and incontinence would take on a whole new meaning.

I spent, like, ten bucks on one of those clips for my cell phone and I would never get to use it.

Hazard pay, and workers compensation, would go up for welders, loggers, sheet metal workers, and anyone who has to cook bacon.

Accidentally seeing “plumber’s crack” would be the least of my worries.

I would never be able to give anyone a ride in my car . . . ever.


I started spreading the “naked truth” as I like to call it, and my sister, who is anti-everything, had this to say about my idea, “Yeah, but wouldn’t everyone see you naked?”

“Yes,” I told her. “Did you not listen to the entire propaganda, I mean, idea?”

“Yes, I heard you. But I think there is a flaw in your ‘plan.’”

I assured her, “No, way, this baby is air-tight.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, it isn’t like everyone we know is a super-model. All those people that shop at Wal-Mart would now be seen in ‘all their glory.’ Also, have you met my mechanic, Flirty-Bertie? The guy with one brown eye and one blue eye, and both eyes look in opposite directions? Well, people like that would be ‘in flagrante.’ All. The. Time. How would I ever get away from him then? Besides, he is the only person on the planet who thinks of me as a goddess, why ruin the illusion? I am sorry, but I am keeping my clothes on.”

“Well with my new plan maybe your husband would think you were a goddess.”

“There is no way I am going to let my husband see me naked!”

“But I am trying to save America! You know, the ‘land of the free, home of the brave?’”

“No one should be that ‘free’ and no one that is sane is that ‘brave.’”

“I bet John F. Kennedy had the same reaction from his family when he tried to change things too.”

“And, he was assassinated.”

“Yes, he was probably taken-out by his own sister on the grassy knoll wearing his favorite cashmere sweater (without asking) and scuffing up his new leather boots!”

“I said I was sorry! But I am still not going buff!”

“Fine, we all wear clothes! But stop borrowing mine! Are you happy now?"

I am sorry America, another great idea nixed by lobbyists. Well, if we have to buy clothes anyway, I guess we can charge them. Who has the president's Visa? Mastercard? Anyone? I wonder if they can just add it to my national debt tab? I'm coming Macy's!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Be Still, My Beating Heart

I had been having chest pains for four days. I thought it was odd, but I had just gotten some new brassieres so I just made the assumption they were too tight. I wore my old undergarments for a few days but I still had chest pains. As I was clutching my sternum one day a friend said, “Maybe you are having a heart-attack.” My response to that was, “Naaaah.” But inside, I was freaking out, so I went home and took some aspirin.

My insurance company sends me a self-care book every year, to keep me, I mean assist me, from making superfluous visits to the doctor. It has little charts in it to help me in making a self-diagnosis. For example, if I have a rash, the first box of the diagram asks if it is red and itchy? If the answer is no, it asks more questions. If the answer is yes the diagram always recommends ‘go to the doctor.’ I grabbed my book and looked up ‘chest pains’ in the index. Instead of a diagram the page said, “dial 911, or seek immediate medical attention.”

The pain got worse. I went on to read the information about a heart-attack and had to lie down. I read the other things that might cause chest pains, everything from indigestion to a blood clot in a lung. I was sure death was imminent, but just in case, I took more aspirin.

I didn’t tell my husband because I didn’t want to stress him out. I debated about following the advice in my book, but decided on a little more research instead. Hello internet old friend. Every website I came to about chest pains was like a flashing warning, GO TO THE DOCTOR, it seemed to scream. The pains continued.

My husband didn’t know what was going on. He wanted to go out to a nice dinner, I thought it would ruin the mood to mention that I may, or may not, be dying and was in excruciating pain. Besides, if I was going to die anyway, I might as well have some salmon first.

Dinner was lovely, other than me clutching my chest in between bites, it was without flaw. The next day, still more pains. By then my malady had been going on for about four days. I had taken enough aspirin at that point, had I gotten a paper cut, I would have bled to death in two minutes. I had such bad pains that I had to wear, yes wear, a heating pad strapped to my chest. My husband finally noticed something was amiss.

“Are you having chest pains?”

“What gave it away?”

“I think I should take you to the emergency room.”

“Nah, that place is a rip-off. You know they charge an arm and a leg. No pun intended.”

“I am worried about you.”

“I promise I will go to the doctor tomorrow.”

That night as I lay in bed, my chest pains continued to get worse. I started to think, that maybe, I was really ill, that the chest pain thing was really serious. So, I did what all really guilty people do at death’s door, I started to pray. I prayed for my kids and my husband, and for all the people I love, and I prayed for forgiveness. I was crying a little bit. I thought: “This is it, this is how it is all gonna end. One minute you are living and the next you are preparing for your own demise. Cut down in the prime of life. Woe is me! Good-bye cruel world!”

In the middle of my dramatic monologue (I was whispering it to myself—I didn’t want to wake my husband) my youngest son started to cry.

“Mommy, I had a nightmare. Can I come snuggle with you?” he said.

So my littlest boy crawled into bed, snuggled up next to me, with his arm across my neck. Something about that sweet gesture, his innocence, his gentleness or maybe the fact that his arm was directly over my larynx and completely cutting off my air-supply, whatever it was, I fell right to sleep.

The next morning, I sent my husband off to work, took the kids to school and went directly to the doctor’s office. There is something about saying that you are having chest pains that gets those nurses moving, I had absolutely no waiting. The nurse took my blood pressure, my heart rate, and temperature, then she wanted to weigh me. All I could think is what malicious irony that in my last moments of life I have to get on a scale. It is the first thing they do when you come into the world and now the last thing they do on your way out?

Well, dying or not, I have a policy that I must remove as many items as possible to get the number on the scale to a more manageable one. First I set down my purse and took off my shoes, then my sweater, then my earrings. I removed my necklace and rings, and socks. The nurse started tapping her pen when I removed my belt and hair clip and the lint from my pocket. I would have removed my makeup but she said something about getting paid by the hour so I just went ahead and got on the scale.

By the time the doctor came in, I was almost hyperventilating.

“Have you had any nausea?”

“Not until I ate about two bottles of aspirin to keep from having a heart attack. Technically though, it might count as one since both bottles had expired in 2007.”

“Have you had any indigestion?”

“Not until I started reading about angina, arterial fibrillation, blood clots and imminent death.”

“Do you smoke?”

“No. But do you think it is too late to start? I could really use a smoke right now.”

“Do you have a family history of heart disease?”

“No, we are cancer people.”

The doctor hooked me up to an EKG, took blood and x-rays, pressed on my ribs and chest, listened to my heart with a stethoscope and poked and prodded. Finally, she said, “The good news is, you are not having a heart attack. However, your heart is in a state of tachycardia.”

I about keeled over. Note to medical personnel—do not use big words that a lay person would not understand. I am the moron your mother warned you about.

“I have a disease called tachycardia?!!”

“No, it just means your heart is beating rapidly. In fact it is beating at 138 beats per minute. The average person has a resting heart rate of about half that. I definitely would not recommend coffee for you.”

“So I am not dying?!”

“No. Your chest pains are due to stress. I am going to put you on some medication and you need to make some lifestyle changes.”

I stopped listening when she said I wasn’t dying. But I did go on to make some major lifestyle changes to protect myself from another heart scare.

To prevent a heart attack:
1.) I buy my aspirin at Costco.
2.) I have two clothes-irons spliced together making a homemade defibrillator.
3.) I eat a heart healthy diet except for special occasions, PMS, the weekends, when I am with friends and family, and daily between the hours of nine a.m. and three p.m.
4.) I don’t smoke or sniff the clothes or belongings of those who do smoke.
5.) I drink plenty of water (do melting ice cubes in a glass of Chardonnay count?).
6.) When I get stressed I calmly take a deep breath, sit down, relax and have another slice of cheesecake.

And I always, always, always remember to take my medication . . . so hopefully my husband will never have to come home and find my lifeless body with two irons burned into my chest next to a four-foot bottle of aspirin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Can't Take You Anywhere

Recently both of my kids were gone for the evening at a sleepover birthday party, so that left the husband and me all alone. The house was so quiet, nobody was screaming, nothing was being broken, nobody was needed to plunge a toilet. It was so tranquil. Anyway, my husband and I were sitting all alone in our quiet house and he looked over at me and said in a husky voice, “The kids are gone and I shaved my back, wanna go out?” So we dressed for dinner and selected a restaurant that did not offer crayons, a drive thru, or nuggets of any kind and prepared ourselves for a romantic night on the town.

Since it was a spur of the moment decision, and we didn’t have a reservation, we weren’t sure that we would be able to get in at a nice restaurant. But, as luck would have it, the hostess found a table for us right away. It was the teeny-tiny one located right in the middle of the dining room that nobody ever wants. You know, the one right in the middle of the high traffic area and about the size of a TV tray, only more wobbly? Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers, and middle-aged couples with one night of freedom will pretty much take anything.

As we sat at our table and looked over the menu we began to wonder if the wait-staff had forgotten about us. My husband tapped the tines on his fork as I felt my crows feet deepen. We looked around trying to make eye contact with anyone carrying a serving tray. Eventually our waiter could not take our death stare any longer and came over and took our drink order and promised to “be right back.” I have found that most waiters are liars, and this one was no exception. To me, “right back” means he will return in 3-5 minutes, however, in the waiter’s handbook it is defined this way: “We are going to serve everyone else in the place, let them eat and pay, and then, if we have nothing else to do, we might come back and take your order, but that is a big maybe.”

In time, a long time, our waiter did return. It might have had something to do with me sticking out my foot and tripping him as he went by, but I can’t say for sure. Anyway, he did bring us our cocktails and let us order our appetizer and meal, but I was doubtful we would ever see either.

“Do you think they are getting any bites?” My husband asked.
“Well, you did order the Salmon and that means they have to go fish for it.”
“Don’t blame me. You are the one who just had to order the pasta and sausage. First they have to grind the flour, find some sheep gut for casing and kill a pig. Seriously, whose meal do you think will take longer to make?”

The table next to us was eating a delicious looking meal and it was hard to keep from staring. My husband said, “I am so hungry.”
I said, “Me too, all I had was a single grape and some macaroni that one of the kids didn’t finish at lunch.”

Then my husband leaned in close, looked at me with love in his eyes and said, “Ok, here is the plan. I will create a diversion; you steal both plates and the bread basket. Oh, and if you can, grab the giant pepper grinder, I love those things.”

I think the couple whose food we were thinking of stealing heard us because the gentleman at the table fashioned his cloth napkin into a noose and dangled it above his plate. Thank goodness the waiter came by with our cheese platter or things might have gotten a bit dicey.

Now, about the cheese platter, my husband isn’t a big fan of cheese. He is mostly afraid of cheese that isn’t bright orange and doesn’t come wrapped in cellophane or squirting out of a pressurized can, but it was date night, so he let me order the appetizer. I helped out by refusing to tell him what any of the cheeses were--I didn’t think gagging and choking sounds would be appropriate at a fancy restaurant. He was a real sport, and was actually enjoying himself until he took a big bit of what he thought was cream cheese, and with his mouth full of bread and dairy said, “I think I taste goat.”
I said, “No you don’t.”
“Yes, I do. I know what cow tastes like and this isn’t it.”
“Could you please just swallow it and stop talking with your mouth full?”
“Fine. But I want to know what kind of cheese that is?”
After he swallowed I said, “goat.”

Before my husband could accuse me of trying to poison him, our salads arrived. Nothing happened during the salad portion of the meal except that the table next to us got new residents, one of them was a cackler. The cackler was a woman who laughed so loud it was like a car accident, all screeching and broken glass. My husband leaned over again, “Ok, new plan. I create a diversion and you smack her in the face with your salad plate. Be sure to hit her really hard, you don’t want to just stun her; you need to knock her unconscious. And don’t forget the pepper grinder this time.”

I was about to question why he always gets the easy part of his plans when our entrées were delivered. We even got our own bread basket full of day old croutons.

“Hey you wanna break bread with me?”
“Ha ha, very funny.”
“No really, it is hard as a rock. I think the roof of my mouth is bleeding.”

Finally, it was time to hunt for our waiter so that we could pay. We were going to order dessert but the kids were only going to be gone for one night and we didn’t bring our toothbrushes. After we had settled the bill and were on our way to the car I asked my husband what time it was.

“Only nine o’clock. Wow, it only took three hours.”
“I know. It felt like it took much longer.”
“You’re telling me. It feels like midnight.”

My husband belched sausage.

“Are you thinking what I am thinking?”
“That you need some antacid?”
“Yes, and . . . ?”
“That the night is young?”
“Yep, and if we hurry home we can be in bed and asleep before nine-thirty!”
“Well, let’s get a move on then, there is a pillow at home with my name on it!”
“Race you to the car!”
“You are so romantic!”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It Is Not a Tumor

I once had a small bump in my mouth and had convinced myself that 1.) I had never seen it before and 2.) It was cancerous. I agonized over it for weeks before finally making an appointment with my dentist. He examined my mouth, scraped, cleaned, x-rayed, but made no mention of my bump. Was he blind? Was he just gonna let me die a slow agonizing death? So I asked him, “What is with this bump?”

“Oh that, that is just a calcium buildup. If it continues to get bigger we can schedule oral surgery and grind it out of your mouth. But, it is nothing serious.”

I almost passed out. If you have to slice me open, and grind something out of me, it is serious. I don’t believe in “nothing serious.” I come from a long line of hypochondriacs—it is the pretend disease that is sweeping the nation—everything is serious.

I blame my hypochondria (among other things) on my parents. They were not fussy about medical care. We went to the doctor once every decade whether we needed it or not. My dad was an EMT and a Mensa candidate, in his mind that was the same thing as board-certified-licensed physician. My mother was not the nursing type; she was more like the receptionist in the billing department. Her contribution to our health care was forcing us to eat oatmeal once a week and putting a hand on our forehead to see if we had a fever.

To stay home from school in my formative years required a fever, vomiting and some type of internal bleeding. If you didn’t hit the trifecta you had to go to school, come home and do your chores, and homework, before you were allowed to collapse. Bleeding was not allowed unless it was an absolute necessity and you had to hold the hemorrhaging appendage over a drain. Now, sometimes, if my parents were in a good mood, a broken bone could sub for say, a ruptured spleen, but you had to have proof that it was broken, like a protruding bone or a leg that went at a 90 degree angle toward your stomach.

Now, I am not criticizing my parents, I am just saying, this type of upbringing breeds hypochondriacs. All that “toughen up” stuff and “stiff upper lip” business is only for people who think they will live a long, happy life. I was certain I would die by scorpion bite or rabid rodent by the time I was 14. A girl can dream can’t she?

Anyway, long-story-short, I lived . . . sort of. What I mean is, I tried to get on with life, (such as it was) although I was constantly in fear that every paper-cut would result in a flesh-eating bacteria or, at the very least, a staph infection that would require the removal of limbs. It is hard to be peppy when you are waiting for the other shoe to drop, and by other shoe, I mean one that is infested with antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Part of the reason I married my husband is that, he too, came from a long line of hypochondriacs and he had an arsenal of home remedies that I had never heard of before. Our romance was a blur of tinctures, mustard plasters and poultices. Aaaaah, those were the days. Then several years into the marriage, it dawned on us that we both might make it into middle-age, we became hopeful like we had never been before. But then, the unthinkable happened, we had kids.

Worrying about your own health is nothing compared to the panic you feel for your own children. Parenting books on raising a healthy child were like a drug. It became my mission to raise my little babies free of disease and blood-borne illness as much as possible. But those little buggers were against me from the start. My oldest once found a raisin on the floor of aisle six at the grocery store and ate it before I could stop him. I almost had a heart attack right there in frozen foods.

I tried to safeguard the children from future potentially deadly situations but those dang kids made it into a game. “Look Mom, no hands.” “Mommy, look how high I am.” “Hey Mom, no teeth.”

That is when I began taking anti-anxiety medication and calling my doctor more regularly.

“Doctor, do you think this mole looks cancerous?”
“No, I think it looks like a piece of orange chicken from P.F. Chang’s.”

“Doctor, I am so tired. I just don’t have a lot of energy.”
“You need more exercise.”
“I have tried that, but when I start to exercise I get all out of breath and start to sweat. I think there is something wrong with me.”
“Well, at least we agree on something.”

“Doctor I am sorry to call so late but I had to call your office, the hospital and your receptionist first just to get this number, the other number you gave me was disconnected.”

Books became too slow for diagnosing symptoms and finding rare diseases. I had to turn to the internet, WebMd became my friend. They had photos of rashes, blisters, hairy moles and a thorough guide on diagnosing head injuries, irregular heart rhythms and irritable bowels. It was a godsend! (And just a side note: Doctors love it when you diagnose yourself, it makes their day go so much more smoothly.) However, the more I learned the more distant my husband became. When I diagnosed myself with E.D. that was the last straw--he snapped, and gave up his hyper vigilance. He had some excuse about “he didn’t have time to be paranoid, blah, blah, blah . . .” He was completely destroying the foundation of our relationship. Paranoia is what our love was built on.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it, it was like surrender. I thought it might have been the projectile vomiting, the explosive diarrhea, the chicken pox, the repeated fishing out of small objects in orifices—that wore him down. You know, when the kids were sick for real. Whatever it was, with his love of hypochondria over, he began to pressure me into “leaving the kids alone.” But I wouldn’t budge, “No one is gonna die on my watch!”

I turned to my siblings for comfort. One sister introduced me to some new herbal curatives. This particular sister was always consulting a nature-path and getting advice from “healing artists.” She also started carrying around a mason jar filled with fluid.

I asked her, “What is that?”
“It is a mixture of Honey, vinegar, and lemon juice. I call it huniger.”
“What is it for?”
“Digestion, allergies, arthritis, headaches. Basically, everything.”
“Why do you carry it in a glass jar, why not a plastic water bottle?”
“I don’t want chemicals leeching into my body from the plastic, but you can if you want to. I mean, it is your funeral, but whatever.”
“Ok, let me try some.”

It looked like urine and tasted about the same, but my sister swore that it was a cure-all.

Tooth decay? Huniger.
Flatulence? Huniger.
Gangrene? Huniger.
Stab yourself in the eye with a pencil? Huniger.

I became a huniger fanatic. Once I left my mason jar on the counter with the lid off. When I came back there was a fly floating in it. I screamed when I almost drank the fly but my children laughed.

“We were wondering if you would notice,” the little demons said maniacally.
“You put that fly in there?” I accused the little hellions.
“It was just a joke mom. Besides that stuff stinks.”

That is when I realized, the disease I was fighting was not mythical, not made up, I didn’t need to have hypochondria; I had a real illness. It is the pathological organism known as children. They were trying to kill me.

My mother said, “At some point children go from passively trying to kill you, to actively trying to off you. As evidence I submit to you: teenage drivers. I rest my case.”

This knowledge changed my life. I am now free of the burden of hypochondria. Yes, folks the pendulum has swung the other way, I am now my mother.

“Mom, I have a stomachache.”
“No fever. No vomit. No blood. Go to school and stop trying to destroy me.”
“But Mom, I feel sick.”
“Me too. That is what 25 hours of back-labor without an epidural but WITH forceps will do to ya.”
“But Mom . . .”
“And don’t come home until the last bell rings. Mommy needs a nap.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beauty and the Beast

The other morning I woke up to my husband's eyebrows attacking me. I know that I don’t usually tackle these hard-hitting subjects, but there is a time to joke and a time to be serious, and seriously his eyebrows were scaring me.

I did not know how to broach the subject with him so I started off gently by saying, “What the heck is going on with your eyebrows?”

He said, “Oh, that. Well, I am not sure. I go to bed looking like my normal self and when I wake up, I have the eyebrows of an eighty year old.”


“Really. I’m not sure what to do about it. I try to keep them trimmed back with scissors but they keep getting longer and wirier and stranger.”

“Have you tried plucking them?”

“With what?”

“A tweezer.”

“I don’t have a tweezer on my Leatherman. In fact, I don’t think I have a tweezer in any of my tool boxes.”

And that conversation is when I realized, not only are men and women different, but men know nothing about grooming. So, I decided it was time for my husband to learn about the wonders of self-maintenance.

Again, I introduced the subject of grooming, “Honey, have you ever heard of the term metro-sexual?”

“Yeah, isn’t that just another word for chick?”

“Actually it means the strong, sensitive man that is not afraid of taking care of his appearance.”

“Sounds like a wuss to me.”

“Why don’t you want to spruce yourself up? You want me to look my best, why wouldn’t you want to look your best?”

“It is like this: Women are already attractive. You can polish a Porsche, and it looks even better, but even if you polish up a rusty old pick-up truck, it still looks like a rusty old pick-up truck.”

“But don’t you care about how you look?”

“I mean, I don’t want to look like Frankenstein, but I don’t have to look at myself all day, so I would have to say, not really.”

“Aren’t you worried what other people think?”

“Eh . . . no. I mean, take the bearded lady at the Conoco, she has a five o’clock shadow by 9 a.m. but I look at her and think, well at least I am not the bearded lady. I am the bearded lady for other people. They look at me and think; well at least I look better than that guy.”

“So you are a humanitarian?”


I was not going to give up, mostly because I believed that my husband would feel better, if he looked better. And, I was afraid if we didn’t do something those eyebrows would strangle me in my sleep. So I went to the store and bought him a tweezer.

I noticed the eyebrows had been tamed a bit recently, so I asked, “How is the tweezer working out?”

“You know, it isn’t bad. It hurts like the dickens but at least you know what is coming, not like that nose-hair trimmer you got me for Christmas.”

“I didn’t even know that you used the nose-hair trimmer, what is wrong with it?”

“Oh yeah, I use it. If I don’t it looks like a toilet brush is hanging out of my nose. But anyway, sometimes I stick it up there and everything is ok, and then sometimes, the motor twists those hairs around and I think I am going to die. It is grab bag really.”

“ . . . Ewww . . .”

Then he said, “Yeah, I am glad you helped me out with this whole grooming thing. You are kind of like that dog that helped his owner by chewing off the infected toe.”


“You really came through.”

“What dog? What toe?”

“On the news. This guy had cut his toe and he didn’t go to the doctor and it got infected. Then one night the guy passed out on the couch and the dog chewed it off and saved the owners life. The guy can only count to nine now on his toes, but sometimes that is the price you have to pay.”
“So you are glad about taking care of the eyebrows, but you think I am a dog?”

“Yeah, you are helpful like that dog. Always looking out for me and stuff. I would like to point out though, that the dog waited until the guy was asleep, more men would groom if it could be done while they were unconscious.”


“I know, right? So, thanks hun.”

“No problem.”

Then he said, “Is this one of those times, when you feel closer to me, I mean did this talk help you too?”

“Well, in a way, it is helping me to understand what is wrong with you. I think I am going to take a long, hot bath.”

“It’s part of your grooming right? See I am catching on.”

“If grooming includes trying to cleanse ones mind and forget about this entire conversation, then yes, yes, it is.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Complete Breakdown

My dryer broke recently. this forced me to call Some Extremely Annoying Repair Service. I don’t like to bad mouth anybody, so for the purposes of this post I will call them SEARS for short. The day the dryer died, I went into the SEARS store where I purchased the dryer, and asked to set up a service appointment. Some college kid stopped playing solitaire on the computer long enough to hand me a business card with a phone number on it.

He said, “We don’t do that here.”
“You don’t do service?”
He rolled his eyes at me. “You have to call the number on the card.”
“Then one of you will come and fix it?”
The teenager sighed and shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know who fixes it. You have to call the number.”

So I went home and called the SEARS number on the card but their offices were closed. I was just at the store two minutes before I called, but in the time it took me to walk out to my car and drive the ten blocks home, SEARS had had time to kick out all remaining customers, turn off the lights, lock the doors and turn on the answering machine. This amazed me, because the person I spoke to didn’t seem capable of moving that fast.

Anyway, I called early the next morning. After ten blissful minutes navigating the electronic phone tree, I was finally allowed to speak with an actual person. I do not know her name, all I know is she was a Crazy Lady On Phone, or CLOP for short. The CLOP had to ask me a few questions before she would let me make an appointment with SEARS.

CLOP: I have to ask you a few questions to ensure you have not violated the terms of your warranty agreement. Has your dryer been used for commercial purposes?
Me: No.
CLOP: Has your dryer been used for residential purposes only?
Me: Yes.
CLOP: Did you, or have you ever, used your dryer to wash hazardous materials and/or flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene or oil?
Me: You can’t wash in a dryer, you can only dry . . .
CLOP: Ma’am do you need me to repeat the question?
Me: No.


Me: No. I have not put any flammable materials in my dryer.
CLOP: Has your dryer been damaged by lightening, hurricane, flood, mudslide, tornado, or any other weather-related incidents that could be classified as ‘an act of God’?
Me: . . . um, no . . . I think the heating element is bad.
CLOP: Has your dryer been moved aggressively, bumped violently and or dropped from a height?
Me: Nooooo.
CLOP: Now you are free to make an appointment. What would be a good time for you?
Me: How about today?
CLOP: We have nothing available today.
Me: Tomorrow?
Me: When is the next available appointment?
CLOP: Friday at 10 a.m.
Me: I’ll take it.
CLOP: While we are there servicing your dryer would you like an estimate for new doors?
Me: No.
CLOP: New windows?
Me: No.
CLOP: Would you be interested in an estimate for new countertops, new appliances, cabinet refacing, water softeners, vinyl siding, light fixtures or a deck made completely from engineered lumber?
Me: No.
CLOP: Ok, how about we do a preventative maintenance on your washer at the time of your dryer repair?
Me: How much?
CLOP: $39.95
Me: . . . Ok . . . but that is all . . . I mean it.
CLOP: Thank you again for choosing SEARS, we will see you between 10 and 2 on Friday.

The last thing CLOP said before she hung up . . . between 10 and 2 . . . was I hearing things? I thought my appointment was at 10 a.m. so I called back. Twenty minutes later I get Another Crazy Lady On Phone (ACLOP).

Me: I scheduled an appointment for 10 a.m.
ACLOP: Yes, between 10 and 2.
Me: But my appointment was for 10 a.m.
ACLOP: Yes, the technician will be there between 10 and 2.
Me: But I have things to do that afternoon, he will need to be done by 2:45.
ACLOP: I will notify your technician.

The day of my service appointment, 10 a.m. came and 10 a.m. went. By 11 a.m. I called, ACLOP told me not to worry, the technician would be arriving soon, he would be done on time, my dryer would be fixed and life would be rosy.

By 12 p.m., I was looking out the window every 5 minutes. By 1 p.m., I was pacing. By 2 p.m., I had a stop-watch and was counting the seconds. By 2:15 p.m., I called SEARS again.

CLOP: Your technician didn’t come?
Me: No.
CLOP: He didn’t call?
Me: No.
CLOP: He will be there.
Me: When?
CLOP: Soon.
Me: When?
CLOP: In a half hour or so.
Me: Well, I won’t be here. As I told you before, I have other things to do.
CLOP: Would you like to cancel your appointment?
Me: No.
CLOP: Did you want to reschedule your appointment for another day?
Me: No.
CLOP: He is on his way . . .
Me: I want to talk to your supervisor.

So CLOP goes and gets the Supervisor In Charge Of CLOP or SICO-CLOP.

SICO-CLOP: He will be there.
Me: I have to leave soon.
SICO-CLOP: We will let him know.
Me: Can I just talk to him directly?
SICO-CLOP: We will have him call you.
Me: When?

Thirty minutes of hair-pulling and binge-eating later, my service-man from SEARS finally calls as I am heading out the door.

“Sorry I couldn’t call sooner. Our jobs are put in a queue, we don’t even know where we are going next until we complete a job, and the next one pops up in our assignment list. I didn’t get the message to call you until 20 minutes after your job was assigned to me, at 2:15 p.m.”

I gritted my teeth and told him to be at my house at 3:15 p.m. or I was pushing my dryer out the second story window and buying a new one from his competitor. He told me I was the 4th person this week to say that, isn’t that a strange coincidence?

Him: You know your warranty agreement does not cover a dryer dropped from a height?
Me: So I hear.

Monday, August 30, 2010

That Came Out Wrong

My dentist says I have a small mouth, but he is the only one. One of the things that I hate most about people is all it takes is one verbal misstep and they hold it against you forever. I say one wrong thing, and they never let me live it down. Here is what I have to say about that: I’m sorry I am an idiot.

My mom used to tell me that I ‘played dumb’ when I was a teenager. The truth is, I wasn’t playing, I really am that dumb. I was about fifteen when during dinner; the whole family was gathered around the table, discussing their day, when I was engaged in a verbal tête-à-tête with my sister. I disagreed with something she said, so I said, “Oh bull!” My dad, whom I had no idea was even listening to the conversation, came unglued. He started ranting about swearing, and appropriate dinner-time talk, and the merits of clean speech. I sat stunned trying to figure out what set him off. I really had no idea.

So I said, “What are you yelling about?”

He said, “What is ‘bull’ short for young lady?”

And I said, “I don’t know.”

So he boomed, “Yes, you do!”

I ventured a guess, “I guess it is short for bull-oney.”

That is what you would call, the wrong answer.

Now, I know that there are other people in the world who misspeak. Presidents for example (“strategery”—not a real word, “I did not have relations with that woman”—but ya did), anyone who has ever mistakenly said, “When are you due?” to someone who is just overweight, that WikiLeaks guy, etc. But I, I take saying the wrong thing, to a whole new level.

I once worked for a tenured full-professor who had just undergone eye surgery. I had only been in his employ for two weeks, when he came into work wearing his post-surgery eye patch. Now, in my defense, I have to say, I am mostly psychologically retarded and it is bad-wiring in my brain that made me say, “Shiver me timbers, how arrrrrgh you doin’ matey?” I know. I can’t believe he didn’t fire me either.

The truth is, most of the time, when I speak, it is a mistake. My brain just cannot keep pace with my mouth. Like when I was talking to a friend recently, I started to recount a conversation I had with my husband, about how hard it is to get rid of a body, if you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to get rid of one. The woman gathered her children closer to her bosom and looked aghast. That is right—aghast. Yeah, I don’t think she will be calling me anytime soon.

And once, when I was waiting tables in college, a group of guys came in real early on a Saturday morning all wearing matching hats that had the name of a popular band stitched onto the brims. Coincidentally, that band, whose name was monogrammed on those hats, had performed a concert the night before, just a short jaunt from where I was waiting tables. So I asked, “Hey, did you guys go to the concert last night?”

One of the gentlemen looked at me a little oddly, but smiled and said, “Uh, yeah.”

“How was it?”


Then I said, “Awesome! More coffee?” And I walked away singing off-key to the piped-in muzak.

Later on, one of the other waitresses said to me, “I am so excited, I am going to go ask for their autographs!”


“Don’t you know who that is over there?!”

“Well, I do now.” And I spent the rest of my shift hiding in the bathroom and trying to figure out how to kill myself with a toilet plunger.

The thing is, these moments where I have verbally shot myself in the foot, have made me a better person. For example, now when I say something stupid, I get over it faster, have learned how to deny it better, and have taken to taunting others who have a similar problem.

Case in point: My husband was browsing a friends Facebook profile on his laptop when he said, “Wow, she has a huge décolletage!”

I said, “What??? Whose cleavage are you looking at?”

He said, “What are you talking about?”

“You said she had huge cleavage!”

“No, she has a lot of pictures. Isn’t that what décolletage means?”

So I said, “Um, no. That would be a collage.”

“Oh. Well, I have been saying it wrong for a long time then.”

“How long?”

“Forty years.”

“They teach you what ‘collage’ means in kindergarten.”

“Not my kindergarten. And you wonder why I am the way I am.”


“What was that click? Was that your pen? Are you writing this down?!”


“Great, now I am constantly under surveillance. I suppose you have never misspoke?”

Then I said, with all the confidence of the seriously deluded that I could muster, “That would be misspoken, and nope.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm Not Perfect, But Let's Pretend

I wanted to be the perfect mother, so I did what any modern woman would do, I Googled it. You can learn anything from the internet. I found an article on the World Wide Web titled “How to be the Perfect mother.” You can view it here:

This particular article said anyone can become the perfect mother in only six steps and the article had a difficulty rating of “moderately easy.” I thought to myself, now this is the kind of information I need. Finally, someone has boiled it down to the simplest terms and now, even I, can be the perfect mother.

Step 1: Understand your child is unique. No book, article, parenting class or lecture will give you the exact answers for your child. Take in information, then adapt it to each of your children based on his or her personality.

“Mom, are you awake?”
“Your breath stinks.”

Step 2: Follow your instincts. You should know your child better than anyone else. Even mothers without the "mothering gene" have internal warnings and insights to their children that no one else has.

I was in the middle of cooking dinner so I asked my husband to help with the children. “Honey, can you go check on the kids. I told them to bring that pitching machine up to the back deck and it is taking them a long time. I think there is something wrong.”

A few minutes later . . .

“Well, I checked on them. The older one was carrying the machine and all of the balls while the little one kept hitting him over and over with a plastic bat. Is that what you were envisioning when you thought something had gone wrong?”

Step 3: Be your own kind of mom. Parenting the exact way another mother parents will not make you the perfect mother. Use your own talents and strengths to enrich your child's life and influence your family's activities and schedule.

At Easter I was purchasing eggs for the kids to color and hide in the yard. I always buy the organic eggs even though they are more expensive because I don’t want my kids pumped up with hormones from eating the eggs of steroid enhanced chickens. I was debating getting the low grade eggs for dying, since I knew that no one would be eating them and they were only for Easter activities. I stood at the egg section in the grocery store for 10 minutes trying to talk myself into the lower quality eggs but broke down and bought the expensive organic ones, ‘just in case’ one of the kids ate one hard-boiled egg while hunting for them in the yard. When I got home, unloaded the groceries and prepared the kitchen for egg coloring, I opened my package of 5 dozen organic eggs and knew right away that I should have gone for the hormone laced ones. All 5 dozen of the eggs I purchased were brown.

Step 4: Acknowledge that being a mother is trial and error. Admitting that something is or is not working is key in being a more perfect mother. Being able to identify what works, but especially what does not work allows you to make positive changes for you and your child.

I wanted my kids to learn to be responsible for themselves, and realize that they have a choice between right and wrong. I went on to talk about the fact that rules were not as important as our own internal code of morality. In the middle of my lecture my youngest son began telling me that he was going to sneak out of his room and get candy in the middle of the night and also telling me that I could not stop him. He went on to say that since “I wouldn’t know about it,” I could not punish him. I told him, “Even if I don’t know, your conscience would, and you would feel guilty because you know it would be wrong.” My oldest son then interjected with, “Mom, brother does not have a conscience.” The little one then followed it up with, “Oh, I have one. It is just that I don’t like to use it.”

Step 5: Treat this like a job. Parenting is not something that just happens. It is something that you will have to work at everyday. You have to want to do your best in this occupation to be successful and to see results.

So, I guess that means no driving the kids to school in my pajamas anymore.

Step 6: Know when to step back. Being the perfect mother does not mean that you do everything for you child. Allowing your children to grow and develop on their own will not only strengthen them as they age, but will also strengthen your relationship as mother and child.

“Mom can you carry me?”
“I can’t, you are too heavy.”
“Yes, you can. I know you can.”
“Honey, you are five years old, you can walk. Besides, we are almost back to the car.”
“I know you could carry me if you wanted to. What if there was a fire? Would you want me to burn up?! Wouldn’t you want to save me?!”
“Ok, yes, if there was a fire, then I would probably grab you and run.”
“Well, then just pretend there is a fire and pick me up!”

Based upon those 6 steps I came up with my own way of recognizing the difference between good mothers and bad mothers.

A good mother tells you that you cannot have a flamethrower for your birthday. A bad mother tells you she would have gotten you one--but they weren’t on sale.

A good mother takes you on outings and reminds you to be careful so that no one gets hurt. A bad mother barks, “Knock that off or you could get somebody killed.”

A good mother tells you to use your best manners and to be considerate of other people. A bad mother tells you that if you talk with a mouth full of food one more time she is going to force you to watch something that you don’t want to see, like the Lifetime movie marathon on a Saturday afternoon.

A good mother wants you to get into the best schools, win awards and be the most popular kid in school. A bad mother just wants you to survive childhood and not grow up to be a criminal.

Because of my own observations, and the article I read, guess which category I fell into (and which one I didn't)? My husband said I didn’t need six steps to be a “perfect mother” and he told me there is no such thing anyway (well, except for his mother, of course) and all anyone can do is their best. He must have been reading that article on “How to be the perfect Husband.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Purchase Necessary

I have been saving Sara Lee bread bags all summer. I only needed 5 UPC codes to send away for a free Toy Story light-up lunchbox (soft, full-sized zippered lunch tote--$14.00 value and includes shipping and handling fees—Collect the entire set!) for my soon-to-be 1st grader. Today was the day I decided to clear off the kitchen counter and see where to send my codes to redeem them for this “very special” offer.

So, I went to the website as instructed on the bags, which directed me to enter the 10-digit number from the UPC area which I did without a hiccup, I took a high school accounting class, I have mad 10-key skills. Anyway, after that, the website asked me to either register or login. What does that mean? I did not understand, but I decided that my odds were 50/50 that one of the choices would take me where I needed to go to get my prize, and since I have a “back” button, I picked register.

Then the computer asks me a series of personal questions (everything from my date of birth, to mother’s maiden name, and how I take my coffee in the morning) but I do not fret, because I am a woman of the new millennium, a Gen-X’er (or is it Gen-Y'er?)on a mission for a free-freakin’ lunch pail, so I give them all the data they ask for and press enter. The screen pops up with a message “This Login has been taken please try again.” Ok, my name must be really common, I will try a different user ID, i.e. name, that is not my own and pick something totally random, like: Apple pie. The computer screen says: Taken. So I try: Dutch apple pie. Taken. Pecan pie. Taken. Banana Cream Pie. Taken. Lemon Custard. Taken. Scotch. Taken. Scotch and Soda. Taken. Scotch and Soda with a Twist of Lime. Taken.

AAAAAh, I take a deep breath, bang my head on my keyboard a few times and then pour myself another cup of coffee and take 2 aspirin, crack my knuckles, and think to myself, maybe I have registered on this site before. I go back to the “Register or Login” section and pick Login. Then I click the button that says “Forgot Login ID,” because I have. I think. A new screen pops up and asks me to enter my email address. They, the evil torturing people who are running this website, send me my login info in an email, so now I have to go check my email. Sure enough, I have registered at this site before, because right before my eyes, in my email inbox is the Login ID (name) of a long-since-dead pet--a fire belly newt--named by my children: Goliath Scooby Doo.

Phew! Step 1 complete. That wasn’t so bad, 45 minutes or so, went by in a breeze. I wonder if I can suffocate myself with a bread bag? But alas, I have to continue my quest, I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, I mean it is a $14 value after all, so I go back to my screen, and search for the tab where I can enter my Login. No, not that one, not that one either, no not that one, a-ha I found it. Now I click “forgot password” and sure enough they, still the crazy psycho-paths running this site, will send it to me in an email. So I go check my email. Nothin. I reload my messages. Nothin. I put my coffee cup in the sink and stare longingly at my knife-block contemplating my own demise but snap back to reality when I hear my 6-year-old yell from across the house, “Mooooom, I need to poop!” I yell back, “Well, go then!”

Ok, back to this lunch tote thing. Check my email. Nothin. What in the heck? So I go back to the screen that said it would send it to me electronically and read the fine print. “Our system will usually send a response immediately, but please allow 24 hours for password to arrive in your inbox.” As I started to crawl under my desk to unplug my computer to chuck it out the window, the screen popped up with “You have 1 new messages.” Eureka, I am saved! I pick myself up and open my email and there it is: One password. I enter it in the proper screen and wait for it to tell me where to send my plastic bags to redeem my free gift.

Then the screen says the unthinkable: “Oops, we are out of stock. Please check back for future promotions from Sara Lee.” AAAAAAAGGGHHHH! I start cursing under my breath. I have lost over an hour of my life, one that I cannot get back. I am not a young person; an hour is a lot to a person my age. I am beside myself with grief. “Why? Why me?” I lament. How could I be so deceived by these devil-bread-maker-free-lunch-tote-offering-lunatics? Then in small print on the bottom of my screen, blurry from my tears, were the words I had been longing for: “Enter UPC Codes for a chance to win a family vacation for 4 to Pixar Animation Studios, have lunch and meet your favorite Toy Story 3 characters.”

Hope is not lost! I have 5 UPC codes! I may not have a lunch box, but wouldn’t a family vacation be better? So I click on it. I enter my information. Things are going smoothly. I am already registered. I know my password, I know my login, and I have my codes. Then I get to the final screen and it says: “I am sorry this contest is now closed.” The fine print says it ended yesterday, which is about the amount of time I spent trying to get my information entered on-line.

The moral of the story is, don’t eat bread, it is full of carbs and it will just raise your blood sugar, your blood pressure, and steal your soul, causing you to die. Trust me; I know what I am talking about.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Whatever Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

All this talk about health care reform and yet, not a single line of the new health care bill is dedicated to the most important issue facing Americans today—hospital food. The house and senate have put together this monstrous package of legalese and yet they leave out something as critical as this? I tell you, it is enough to make me lose my faith in government. I for one am not going to stand for this. I have put together my own set of issues that need to be lobbied. Join with me and take a stand against the tragedy that has corrupted U.S. hospitals for generations—the chow.

I have only had to stay in the hospital a few times, and each time that I break out of there I am glad to get away; mostly because I am starving. On one extended stay I had my sister sneak in Cinnabon cinnamon rolls and dare I say, had she not brought me sustenance I would still be in that hospital today. Too weak and depleted to make my bed sheet into a rope and hang it out the window for my escape.

Not all the hospital food is bad, just the stuff they serve to the patients. If you are a patient you may be asking yourself: what have I done to deserve this? Or, why me? Or, why is my nurse/doctor trying to kill me? These are all legitimate questions, and trust me, you are not alone. There are more of us. Those of us who have refused to eat gummy oatmeal or soupy cream of wheat, or that inedible concoction known as goulash that sits in your colon stagnating for days trying to decide if it will use the entrance or exit to get out of your body. We hear your cries; there is no need to suffer alone. After all, you have a telephone in the room, phone a friend and cry to them.

Ok, so you may have other questions, like why is all hospital food the same temperature? The nurse will bring you a little tray and whip the lid off as if to say “Ta-Da!” Only to serve you a thimble of apple juice (with saran wrap over the top) and a cup of broth (other-wise known as a bullion cube floating in tap water) and both items are the same temperature—78 degrees. I know that something can be done about this. Hospital staff can take a picture of the brain, remove miscellaneous organs, and reattach limbs--surely they can refrigerate juice and microwave soup.

It says something when the hospital’s competition is school cafeterias, airplane food, and prison rations. I have tasted fresher MRE’s that my uncle brought back from Vietnam than the meals I received while on an extended stay in the infirmary. One thing that would really improve the quality of provisions at the hospital is to go for the real stuff. No more powdered potatoes, no more powdered eggs, no more powdered soup. And for the love of all that is holy, just say ‘no’ to mystery meat. No one knows what mystery meat is, not even the chef, and as patients we just want something we can describe easily to the life-insurance people. Is that too much to ask?

If you ask people, what word comes to mind when you say hospital food? Most of them will say Jell-O, Jell-O, and more Jell-O. Is Jell-O even a food? It can’t even be classified as a liquid or a solid so how can it be put in the category of food? And what the hospital does to it makes it worse. For example, carrots in Jell-O is a crime against humanity. No one is going to eat more veggies just because you cover it in gelatinous substance and call it dessert. People all over the country are hi-jacking wheelchairs to make their getaway from hospital Jell-O. I am patently against any food that resembles phlegm. This includes, but is not limited to: tapioca, mussels, clams, tofu, cooked spinach, oysters, and of course, Jell-O.

A few more things we need to address at the hospital cafeteria: Dinner rolls should not be able to double as weapons, gravy should not be neon green, and roast beef should be easily identifiable. Foods that look like they have already been eaten and regurgitated should be taken off the menu. If you cannot easily recognize the food on your plate, there is a problem. It makes you wonder if you were really sick when you checked in or if the food is making you that way. Did they, or did they not, take an oath to ‘first do no harm?’ The food is supposed to be dead, not me. At least doctors get those little hermetically sealed sandwiches cut into triangles with the contents visible and labeled on a sticker. At the very least, I want to eat what the doctors are eating, because they are not as expendable as patients.

When a friend of mine was in the sickbay recently they served her lentil loaf. If you have never seen anything as exotic as lentil loaf before let me give you a mental picture--imagine meatloaf with gangrene. That was the meal my friend was served at the hospital on her birthday. It turns out, both her and the lentil loaf were the same age. Seeing that concoction on her lunch tray gave me the urge to dial 911. When she prayed for lunch, it was less like saying grace and more like a request for mercy.

Another question I have for the hospital lunch lady: Why does all hospital food taste the same? Whether you have the turkey sandwich or the tomato soup it all tastes like a mixture of Lysol and medical waste. Forget about where’s the beef, I want to know where the salt is? Let’s get crazy in that hospital kitchen and add some seasoning. Additionally, food should not make sounds. When you move a fork across your plate, the food should not make a noise like it is still alive . . . and suffering. Food should not make a slurping, sloshing, or wheezing clatter. In fact, I am pretty sure it should not talk to you at all.

What I think they need is a hospital mini-bar. Although you would have to remind visitors not to eat from the mini-bar, because a Kit-Kat would cost you $27 and a Dr. Pepper would probably be around $85. However, that is the same price hospitals charge for a box of tissue and those little plastic water pitchers that you “get” to take home with you, so really it is a bargain. Hospitals could even fill the mini-bar with food that is good for you, like fresh fruit and granola. Also in the self-serve section should be those pain medication pumps. You could choose the medicine you want to drip into your IV. Hook me up to one of those and I will stop complaining about the food, I’d be down like a water buffalo hit by a tranquilizer dart. In conclusion, I think that sums up what we all want during a hospital stay, less food and more drugs.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A New and Improved Gas Mask

Hallelujah! Someone has finally made an innovative product I can use. It is one of those made for TV deals, you know, not sold in stores, act now and we will throw in a set of Ginsu knives, A Grease Bullet, and a Slap Chop, all you have to do is pay shipping and handling? I am not mocking the “As seen on TV” people; they are the ones who brought us the Sham-Wow, the Snuggie, the Bumpit and the quasi-famous Aqua Globe. Well, get ready folks because this is their best invention yet: the Better Marriage Blanket.

What is it you ask? Well, according to their website it “completely and quickly absorbs the odor of flatulence.” That is right people, it de-stinks farts. Think of it like the Snuggie, only it is the odor control version. Evidently it “looks and feels like a soft warm comforter” but actually contains a layer of activated carbon fabric that absorbs the odor of your loved one, so that the only thing you smell is clean fresh air. They are calling this “a real solution to a very real problem” and I say Amen people! Finally, someone knows what I want, to breathe unsoiled, unsullied atmosphere.

If this thing works, and let’s pray that it does, it will essentially eliminate those accusatory bedtime conversations:

“Did you toot?”
“I think you did.”
“Are you sure you didn’t?”
“Well it sounds like you tooted, and it smells like you tooted and it tastes like you tooted.”
“It was just a little one.”

My favorite part of the Better Marriage Blanket website is they say it makes a great gift. Yeah, the perfect gift for that special someone . . . that stinks. Is there someone in your life with frequent rectal rumblings, someone with recurrent disturbing aromas? Well, then it may be time for you to get them the Better Marriage Blanket. No more phantom smells, no more invisible elephants in the room, completely takes care of SBD’s (Silent but Deadlies) and leaves you free to breathe deeply.

I do have a couple of questions though:

1.) It only comes in white and beige—what, no brown?
2.) What is the return policy like?
3.) Will it absorb sound too?
4.) If I cover his face with it, will it also take care of bad breath?
5.) Can you order different scent strength blockages?
6.) How much of the blanket do you have to stuff in each orifice to stop the odor?
7.) Can the blanket be recycled once it is, ummm, full? If so, how and why?
8.) Do they offer rush delivery?

If word gets out that these blankets really work, these things will sell themselves. I am planning on buying mine soon, because if there is a run on them, and they work as advertised, the fart blanket people will be able to raise the price to anything they want. Women all over the world will be handing over their first born just to have a chance at breathing untainted oxygen. It will become like hemorrhoid cream, you won’t have to tell people what it’s for or how much it costs, just where they can get it.

I don’t have mine yet, but you can bet I will be buying one of these amazing poop particle filters very soon. And, maybe it is just because I am so forward thinking, but I can see all sorts of new products along this same line. Car seat covers, Lazy-Boy covers, couch covers, toilet seat covers, underwear, diapers, it could be a great benefit in nursing homes, for the homeless, my husband's den, the possibilities are endless! I am so excited about this thing I have been daydreaming about what the warning label might say:

This is not a toy. Intended for moderate gas only. Cannot be used as a flotation device. Do not use in conjunction with an electric blanket or other direct heat source. Do not use near open flame. Not intended for use by persons who have eaten any combination of the following: sardines, jalapeño peppers, chili, deviled eggs, haggis, hummus, bean dip, oysters, or prunes. This product was not tested on animals—unless you consider 40-year-old men with gastro-intestinal problems animals. It is a violation of federal law to remove this tag.

If you want to get your own Better Marriage Blanket, just visit their website, get yours while they last, before that burning in your eyes and nose becomes permanent. The marriage you save could be your own.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

My husband and I have always wanted to buy an industrial building and turn it into living space. That is just the kind of people we are—stupid people. We almost bought a hospital once and at a different time a school, but passed on both for various reasons--so the search continues. Recently my husband saw an ad for a railroad tunnel for sale. Part of the ad read: For sale: one gently used railroad tunnel, natural air conditioning, excellent storage possibilities. My husband was all over it.

“Let’s buy it!”
“We could turn it into a house.”
“It would be fun; it could be our grand adventure.”
“I am too young to die.”

It turns out the tunnel is a half mile long, twenty-one feet high and runs through the center of a mountain. It comes with fifty-four acres of commercial property and even on hot summer days stays an even fifty-one degrees temperature.

“Well I need light if I am going to live in a cave.”
“It isn’t a cave, it is a tunnel and we can get some lamps.”
“No, I mean sunlight, I am not a mole.”
“Each of the tunnel ends can be made into big glass windows.”
“Yeah but what about the center, it would be like, dark. Couldn’t we put in some windows on the side?”
“It is in the center of a mountain, how do you propose I carve windows out of the mountainside?”

A Coeur d'Alene real estate company is marketing the property for a man named Don Parker, owner of the tunnel. Mr. Parker points out its potential for enterprises that thrive in cool, dark places, like commercial mushroom production or wine storage. Parker said he's confident that the tunnel could again be part of a viable commercial venture.

“Well if you didn’t want to live there we could turn it into a business.”
“You don’t know how to drive a train.”
“I don’t mean that. I mean something unique.”
“Like what?”
“I know, how about . . . a restaurant.”
“A restaurant?”
“Yeah, and we could get a spotlight and a train whistle, then when everyone is eating we could turn on the spot light and blow on the whistle and pretend a train is coming.”
“We would be the only restaurant around that has to have a doctor on-call for when our customers go into cardiac arrest.”
“Ok, well how about the world’s largest dark room?”
“Most people use digital cameras now.”
“We could harvest bat guano. I have heard of people doing that.”
“You have not heard of people doing that. Nobody does that! What would we do ‘that’ for? I do not want to harvest bat guano. One bat in the tunnel is a deal-breaker for me.”
“Ok fine. I know--how about the world’s biggest smoker? We just herd the cows in and light it up. Voila, 2 tons of beef jerky.”
“Oh yeah? Who is going in afterward and scooping up ½ a mile of meat?”
“I don’t know. Why do I have to think of everything?”

The newspaper article continued with: "I believe that it's the most unusual property that we've dealt with," said Thomas Tagen, the listing agent with Tomlinson North Idaho Sotheby's International Realty. No kidding.

“How about this idea--we could raise veal.”
“I thought you didn’t like sheep?”
“Veal is baby cows, not sheep.”
“The calves are born and then are put in a box so they don’t move around much. They get fed all the time and kept in the dark for a few weeks, all the while getting juicy and tender, and then they go to slaughter.”
“Oh my gosh! That is terrible. Is that true?”
“The poor little cows; I don’t think I could be a veal farmer.”
“Ok, how about we open a daycare.”
“A daycare?!! I just said I don’t want to torture cows, but you think torturing kids would be ok?”
“A daycare would not be torture, it would be a big open space for them to run.”
“Yeah, like run away.”
“When the parents drop them off we could just lock ‘em in. They would be glad to see their mom’s and dad’s at the end of the day. The tricky part would be getting them to come back . . . .”
“I think it would be cruel to keep them in the dark all day and send them home for dinner and then off to bed . . . in the dark.”

The article went on to quote the Real Estate agent Tagen, who said, “The tunnel itself has deep psychological meaning, that's why you see so many films with tunnels." Tagen then said. "There's an element of mystery and intrigue." That’s us, mysterious and intriguing; all our friends say so, only they call it weird and scary.

“Ok, how about this for a business idea--a beauty parlor? You wouldn’t even have to be good at it. It isn’t like they could see themselves in the mirror.”
“I am still sad about the veal.”
“Alright, no more talk about the veal. Think happy thoughts. How about we make the tunnel into a bar?”
“A bar?!”
“Why do you keep repeating everything I say?”
“I thought if you heard it repeated back to you, it might give you some idea of what it sounds like to a normal person.”
“Anyway, about the bar . . . We serve drinks in the center of the tunnel. That way, by the time everyone walks back to their car they are sober. It would cut down on drunk driving. We would be doing a community service.”
“This conversation is making me want to drink.”
“Well, how about this idea—a church!”
“I am just gonna come right out and say it: you have lost your mind.”
“Hear me out. We could re-use the spotlight and train whistle idea—that would be sure to get people down on their knees. Plus, if we close off each end of the tunnel the congregants are stuck there for the whole sermon!”
“Well, I certainly know who I will be praying for.”
“Ok this is the last idea I have, how about the world’s largest strip mall? We hand out flash-lights at the door with low-batteries and put a Radio Shack in the center—with batteries always on sale! I am telling you, I smell money!”
“I smell smoke that is for certain. Listen, if you really want this tunnel thing, we can get it. I’m not really “on board” with any of your business ideas, but maybe it could be a summer home that only you visit, or maybe the world’s largest man cave. If we do buy it though, can we get one of those vintage handcar thingies like they have in cartoons? I always wanted to try one.”

Hurry and act now, this train tunnel won’t last long. This is a limited time offer and it can be yours for the low, low price of $650,000!--unless of course, we get it first.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Toast to Mothers

In anticipation of Mother’s Day I thought I would talk to you a little bit about being in the trenches. It isn’t easy out there; raising the next generation of humans. There is no boot camp, training manual, or rule book for being a mom. Everyone gives advice on being a parent but it is often contradictory and impractical for those of us living in the real world. My grandmother was one of the only people who ever gave me real, no-nonsense advice on motherhood—she handed me a recipe for hot toddies and told me to be sure and make one for each child before bed. “Grandma, you can’t give babies alcohol.”
“Why not?”
“Um, it is against the law.”
“Well, I’ll be! The government has to get involved in everything. When did they change that?”
“I’m not sure. I just know that giving alcohol to infants would be mandatory jail time.”
“Not to worry dear, I have a solution. Just make the same number of drinks, but instead of giving them to the children, save them for yourself.”

Having enough liquor in the house is, unfortunately, not enough preparation for motherhood. And no matter how many books you read, advice you get from well-meaning friends, or therapy you receive, there are just some things you cannot prepare for.

I took my sons for a walk and every few feet my oldest son would stomp on the sidewalk. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing so I finally asked. He said, “Hey Mom, *Stomp* are you *Stomp* feeling any pain?” *Stomp*
“Are you stepping on cracks trying to ‘break my back’?!”
“Yep. I know there is ice cream at home. If you fall down from a broken back I could beat you back to the house and eat it all before you could stop me.”
“Well it is a good thing that stomping thing doesn’t work.”
“Yeah, it was worth a shot.”

You try to teach your children right from wrong, but sometimes they just don’t see the value in your lessons.

I was explaining to my sons a little bit about being a gentleman. Like when a gentleman takes a lady for a walk he always walks closest to the road. My five year old asked why.
I said, “Well to shield her from debris that might fly up from cars, and to protect her from being splashed by puddles, and if a car gets close enough to hit them, his body would shield her. It is a way of being polite.”
Then the five-year-old says, “If a car hits them, she could still die. I don’t get how that is polite.”

And no matter what you try to teach them, they are learning information from other sources, some of which you cannot control. No matter how hard you try--you cannot control what your kids hear, think, or say . . .

My twelve-year-old son James had a friend over one afternoon and they were talking about how disturbing the health (read: puberty) videos at school were. James said, “I learned more than I ever wanted to know about girls.” His friend agreed.
His little brother Jason piped up with, “Well I know a lot about girls already.”
“Bud, this isn’t stuff most kids know,” James tried to explain.
The little one said, “Oh I know a ton of stuff about girls.”
Then the older and wiser brother says, “You might think you do, but not these things.”
Jason came back with, “Well at least I know some things. Like I know how girls look. I have seen Mom without her clothes on!”

The visiting friend has not been back since.

So in preparation for Mother’s Day, let us all join forces for the difficult job that is parenting. Let us support one another and take a day off from judging other mothers. It is a tough job, not for the faint of heart or those without a large and amply stocked liquor cabinet.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Til Death Do Us Part

My sister was talking to me on the phone, telling me the reasons why she couldn’t get any sleep the night before. Evidently, her husband had been keeping her awake by being noisy, getting in and out of bed, and generally being a nuisance. Then, when he was finally ready to settle down and go to sleep, he rolled over and said, “Honey, are you awake? I have gas.” I supported her in the way that only a sister can. I said, “Do you ever look over at your husband and think, if only I had held the pillow down over his face just a few seconds longer, we would not be having this conversation?”

Marriage is an interesting institution. I have had many people ask me what makes a good marriage, and by many, I mean no one. Of course, not being an expert has never stopped me from giving advice before and it won’t stop me now. Who needs expertise when you have drive, ambition and a general lack of good sense? So let us take a moment to explore this establishment we call marriage.

I really do wish I knew what the secret to a good marriage is. Is it, communication, intimacy, romance, quality time, freedom to be oneself? Who knows? Each book, movie, and video says something different. One book I read said the secret to a good marital relationship is knowing how to fight together. The book purports that if you can’t fight fairly with your spouse then your marriage won't last. I was talking to a recently divorced friend about that theory and she said her ex didn’t care enough to fight in their marriage. It would be safe to say my husband and I don’t have that problem.

Him: “Where did you put my sweatshirt?”
Me: “What sweatshirt?”
Him: “The black one.”
Me: “I didn’t take it.”
Him: “Then where is it?”
Me: “I don’t know. Where did you put it?”
Him: “I didn’t put it anywhere. I had it yesterday and now it is gone.”
Me: “Well the hamper is empty and there are no clothes in the dryer or in the laundry basket, if it isn’t in the closet then I have no idea where it is.”
Him: “Why are you hiding it from me?!”
Me: “What?”
Him: “Just tell me where it is!”
Me: “I don’t know where it is!”
Him: “Yes, you do!”
Me: “No! I! Don’t!”

10 minutes later.

Me: “I was vacuuming and found your sweatshirt shoved in between the bed and nightstand. It must have fallen off the bed.”
Him: “I knew you had it.”

Of course we all know that cheating is usually a marriage killer, there has been a lot of talk in the news recently about how infidelity is affecting the marriages of movie stars. This person is having an affair, this person is having multiple affairs, this one has cheated on his wife so many times he has a hard time remembering what she looks like, etc. It makes one wonder if anyone’s marriage is safe from unfaithfulness.

Me: “Honey, have you ever had an affair?”
Him: “What?”
Me: “You know, have you ever cheated on me? You can tell me. I just need to know, for my own peace of mind.”
Him: “Listen, I can’t make one woman happy. What in the heck would I want with two?!”

I went to a ladies-only bible study where the instructor encouraged us to stop bossing our husbands around. One thing she insisted on is that we stop telling our husbands to ask for directions when they are driving somewhere (even if he is lost) because doing so would make him feel “adored.” I decided to ask my husband his feelings on the subject.

Me: “If I didn’t tell you to ask for directions would you feel adored?”
Him: “No.”
Me: “How about if I stopped telling you how to drive?”
Him: “That isn’t the word I would use. I might feel more relaxed; but adored, no.”
Me: “What if I stopped suddenly gasping every time we passed someone on the freeway? Adored?”
Him: “Um, still no. More relaxed still, but I would wonder what is wrong with you.”
Me: “So if I can’t tell you how to drive why do you get to tell me how to drive?”
Him: “I tell you how to drive so that you won’t hit things.”
Me: “You think I am a bad driver?”
Him: “No, I didn’t say that. But . . . .”
Me: “What???”
Him: “You did hit a parked car pulling out of the driveway.”
Me: “It could have happened to anyone.”
Him: “You ran into the drive thru box at Subway.”
Me: “It was in an awkward location.”
Him: “You go the same speed on the highway as you do in town. If you can call 35 mph 'speed.'”
Me: “No one needs to go 70 mph.”
Him: “You hit a pedestrian!”
Me: “I hit one pedestrian and no one ever lets me forget it!”
Him: “Most drivers don’t run over people.”
Me: “He wasn’t even in a crosswalk.”
Him: “How many bodies do you need to leave in your wake before enough is enough?!”
Me: “I see your point. So I shouldn’t give you driving instructions?”
Him: “Affirmative.”

I was reading the news and came across a headline that read “Woman Stabs Husband Over Honey-Do List” and all I could think was, man, haven’t we all been there before? Every time I go to a wedding I think of when my husband and I took our vows. “Richer, poorer, sickness, health, blah, blah, blah, ‘til death do you part.” That end part, that is my favorite. "Til death," which loosely translated means someone ain’t gettin' out of this thing alive. When Ruth Graham, wife of famed evangelist Billy Graham, asked if she ever considered divorce she said, “Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.” I like the way she thinks.

The other night I rolled over in the bed and my husband flinched.
Me: “What are you flinching for?”
Him: “I thought you were going to try and suffocate me with a pillow.”
Me: “It was at least a foot from your face.”
Him: “Yes but I had my eyes closed and when I opened them the pillow was coming toward me. My instinct is to move away from someone that I think may be trying to kill me.”
Me: “I would not kill you by suffocation. You are bigger and stronger than me, you could just push me away. So what would be the point in trying?”
Him: “True, I always figured you for a poisoner anyway.”
Me: “What?”
Him: “You would try to poison me. With arsenic or anti-freeze or rat poison. Something like that. You would just offer me something sweet laced with poison, because you know I can’t resist the sugar. Then next thing you know, I’m dead.”
Me: “You are crazy. I couldn’t even get a hold of poison. It isn’t like they sell it on every street corner.”
Him: “They do sell rat poison everywhere.”
Me: “Oh yeah, where?”
Him: “Like I am going to tell you.”
Me: “Oh. My. Gosh. You are certifiable.”
Him: “Well, if you must know, you can get it at the hardware store.”
Me: “Where they have video cameras? They have video cameras in more places than they have rat poison. So that would be a ‘no’ on poison.”
Him: “Lucky me.”
Me: “Well, since you are being morbid, how would you ‘off’ me?”
Him: “I would tell you something so scary you would keel over from a heart attack. That way I am sort of innocent. I mean, it isn’t my fault you’re a scaredy-cat.”
Him: “Yeah, more bang-for-my buck, so to speak.”
Me: “You really are nuts.”
Him: “Sleep tight.”
Me: “Like I could go to sleep after this conversation.”

I have heard the saying “If you love something set it free, and if it comes back to you then it is truly yours.” Or some such nonsense. My motto is: If you love something, keep it close to you, smother it if you have to, it is your sworn duty to make it miserable for life. After all, you did promise ‘til death.’