Thursday, March 26, 2009

I think it's an exploding raccoon

It was a scene straight from a Quentin Tarantino horror film.

Rust-colored splotches and chunks of something that may or may not have been alive at one time were splattered against the entire surface.

Hands down, grossest thing I’d ever seen.

And I once witnessed our golden retriever upchuck a bird.

“What blew up in the microwave?” I asked my husband as he walked by where I stood holding the open microwave door.

He stopped behind me, peered over my shoulder and shuddered. “Hard to tell,” he answered, shaking his head sadly. “Hard to tell.”

I snorted. I knew full well that I hadn’t put what could have only been an exploding raccoon – covered in barbecue sauce – into the microwave.

And unless our 2-year-old son or sweet-but-stupid golden retriever had learned to use household appliances when I wasn’t looking, the lone suspect was the guy standing in front of me wearing a Who Me? expression on his face.

“Where’s the phone book?” I asked, slamming the microwave door shut with a snap.

“Why?” my husband asked, watching as I opened the phone book to the yellow pages and ran my finger down the section titled “Churches.”

“So I can call a priest,” I answered.

“What for?” he asked.

“Do you know anyone else who can perform an exorcism?” I replied.

***

A woman hasn’t truly lived until she’s been pampered at an all-service spa, made out with Brad Pitt and combed peanut butter out of a toddler’s hair.

Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to do the latter.

“Ah, geesh,” I groaned, “How on earth did you DO this?”

The “you” in question was currently sitting quietly on my lap, entranced by the off-key singing of Elmo on the television and paying absolutely no attention to the woman who had triumphed through 24 hours of labor to bring him into this beautiful world.

A woman who – at that very moment – was silently contemplating how to take him out of it.

I grimaced and carefully picked at a large section of white blonde locks that was stuck to the back of his head. Courtesy of what looked like half a jar of creamy, gooey peanut butter.

The only one in the house excited about the incident was the dog perched next to the sofa, dripping drool onto my feet, anxiously waiting for me to push my son’s head down to her level so she could get a good lick in.

For one second, I thought about letting her do it.

OK. I actually thought about it for two seconds.

You got me. I was in mid-shove when my husband yelled out, “Hey! What the heck are you doing?!”

Rats. Foiled again, I thought, and slowly sat my son up straight again. His eyes had never left the image of the dancing red puppet on the television screen. He had no clue that his head had been thisclose to becoming a dog treat.

“How did he get the peanut butter outta the fridge in the first place?” I asked my husband. “Did you make him a sandwich or something?”

“Nope,” my husband quipped, holding back a laugh. “Just be thankful he didn’t find the grape jelly too.”

***

Our golden retriever could find a mud puddle in the middle of the desert.

“It hasn’t rained for a week but you found mud somewhere, didn’t you?” I said as I threw her into the bathtub one day.

OK. She tips the scales at 94 solid pounds. I didn’t throw her so much as I reached down, grabbed her around the middle, tugged upward and blew out one of my kidneys.

She, however, didn’t budge a toenail.

Doubled over from the blinding pain in my back, I threw a dog treat into the tub, and she jumped right in after it.

Stupid dog.

Not that I’m so bright. If I had done that in the first place, I’d still have all my organs in proper working order.

“I see the dog had some fun,” my husband said, poking his head through the bathroom door. “There are doggy footprints all over the house.”

“Yep,” I answered and turned on the water, seized the shower head and hit the dog full blast in the rear end. “I bet she was chasing the raccoon.”

(originally published May 29, 2007)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Get over your underwear

Swiss cheese looks right at home on a ham and rye sandwich. It does not, however, belong in your husband’s underwear drawer.

“What in God’s name happened with these?” I mockingly asked my husband one afternoon as he lay sprawled on the couch watching a football game.

I, the hard-working wife, was busy with laundry. But that’s a story for another day.

He turned around to see me holding a pair of clean, white boxer briefs in front of my face. No fewer than nine of my fingers were sticking through various holes, waving at him from the other side.

“Did you wear a wood chipper to work this week?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said without missing a beat, “those are air holes.”

Uh, OK.

“Air holes?” I asked with a little fear and quickly snatched my hand back. The briefs flew up in the air and landed with a plop on the floor next to our golden retriever. She didn’t seem too interested since she no longer eats underwear. That, too, is a story for another day.

“Yep, air holes,” he said. “Keeps things fresh, you know.”

No, I didn’t know. And I didn’t want to know. I looked down into the laundry basket and discovered that just about every single pair of his white, boxer briefs were in the same pathetic state of disrepair.

I gathered them into a pile and said, “I’ll just throw these out and go buy you a new supply.”

I’d never seen my husband move so fast. Even after the time I forgot to run the garbage disposal, which managed to back up the dishwasher and create a small flood in the kitchen before we got things back under control.

He leapt off the couch and made a desperate lunge for the pile in my arms.

“No!” he shouted. “I just got those broken in! Please don’t take them away!” He fell into a sobbing heap at my feet, wrapping his arms around my knees. “You just don’t understand!”

Of course I didn’t. I am a woman. While we might spend a small fortune at Victoria’s Secret, women do not have the same kind of relationship with our underwear that men have. Our underwear is supposed to be pretty. Lacy. Silky.

With absolutely no holes – unless they were manufactured that way and sold at the store down the street that wraps everything in plain brown paper.

Men, however, treat their undies like cars at a demolition derby.

The nastier, the better. Gaping holes and rust-colored stains are a badge of honor, proof that a man has persevered through the ugliest hour, taken a beating and survived to tell the tale.

However, at the end of the day most of them still end up in the neighborhood junkyard.

“Honey,” I said in my soft talk-a-jumper-down-off-the-ledge voice, “it’s time to let these go. They’ve had a good life. They’re going to a better place.”

I looked down at the well-worn and discolored cotton, wrinkled up my nose and added, “Believe me. They’ve earned it.”

But it wasn’t until I promised to build a funeral pyre in the backyard and send his old undies off in style that he finally agreed to let them go.

As the flames licked the sky and the smoked spiraled up toward the heavens, he breathed a loud sigh of acceptance. Then he pumped a fist and said, “OK. I’m taking Gabe to the store now. Gonna show him how to buy underwear.”

So much for the five stages of grief. He’d already barreled through the first four and was quite chummy with the final stage of acceptance.

I looked over at our 20-month-old son, who had somehow saved a pair of briefs from honorary cremation and was trying to put them on the dog.

“Uh, he still wears diapers,” I said, grabbing him before our friendly golden retriever turned into a pit bull out of sheer frustration.

“I know that,” my husband answered. “But someday he will wear underwear. Manly underwear. The kind of underwear that warns people not to mess with you.”

I snickered. “I suspect his first undies will have pictures of SpongeBob SquarePants or Superman on them.”

“It doesn’t matter,” my husband said, walking off with our son perched on his shoulders. “As long as they let in a little air.”
(originally published January 30, 2007)

Monday, March 16, 2009

More like Chip 'n Dale

(originally published March 12, 2008)

If my husband had his way, I’d never be allowed to read the newspaper.

I love the smell of feminism in the morning.

“Oh, please,” I groaned over the top of the newspaper, a spoonful of Special K hovered in midair somewhere between the bowl and my mouth.

OK. It wasn’t so much the high-fiber, heart-healthy cereal that I was eating as it was two Eggo waffles dripping with syrup and butter.

OK. I lied again.

It was four waffles. But come on! They are really, really small! The recommended serving size is – like – two. Yeah, right. Maybe. If you’re the size of a garden gnome. Or French.

But that’s not the point of this story, so I shall move on.

“I CANNOT believe it,” I snarled and rattled the newspaper in my husband’s direction. “Yet another sign of the rampant, blatant sexism in our society today.”

He grunted something that sounded like “Yahsexisbad” but buried his head deep into the sports section, hoping against hope to end the conversation right then and there.

You’d think he’d know better.

“Seriously,” I continued, “this is clearly indicative of the patriarchal and two-faced attitude toward women that has completely bankrupted the moral fiber of our society.”

He rolled his eyes. Sure, he was still hiding behind the sports, but that didn’t stop me from hearing his eyes turn in the sockets.

I stuffed the last forkful of waffle in my mouth and continued. “Thid you ‘ear ‘bout this?” I asked and pointed at the headline. I swallowed and continued, “About that contestant on ‘American Idol’ who used to be a stripper?”

And bingo!

It was the word “stripper” that penetrated through the thick fog of my husband’s brain. He immediately tossed the sports section over his shoulder, leaned close to me and asked,
“Stripper? Really? Allll right. Now we’re talking,” in a Hugh Hefner-esque kinda way.

I paused. Smiled.

Then said, “It’s a guy.”

He backed away, his chair screeching across the wood floor, and making a noise that sounded a bit like a strangled rodeo clown. I think he may have actually thrown up a little bit.

He coughed, tapped a fist against his chest a couple of times to clear out the vomit and managed to eke out, “Oh, well. Big deal.” Then off he went for the abandoned sports page that had landed on top of the refrigerator.

“See?!” I yelled, “that’s EXACTLY what I’m saying!”

He turned around and looked at me like he was trying to divide the number 5,142 by 37 in his head. Confusion reigned.

“Uh, OK,” he said and reached up to grab the paper. “What ‘exactly’ are you saying?”

I sighed.
Men.

However did they get in charge of things around here? Were women absent the day menfolk staged a power coup? Were we out shopping for mastodon rugs? Busy inventing the wheel? And what did the menfolk end up contributing to society?

Nuclear war and whoopee cushions.
God help us all.

“I guarantee if the contestant had been a girl – a FEMALE stripper – she’d been tossed out on her pasties quicker than Paula Abdul could pop a Valium,” I announced. “But because it was a guy, nobody cares. There’s no backlash. No moral compass followed by a society calling for his head because he once took his clothes off for money. No demand that he leave the show. None. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.”

He contemplated that little scenario, the wheels turning in his head, and uttered the very next sentence right outta the blue.

“I could be a stripper.”

And that’s when I realized that, yes, little waffles made for tiny men can indeed shoot out of my nose when the correct amount of pressure explodes through my skull.

But that didn’t stop me from laughing. Hysterically. Touching a bit on the maniacal.

“What?” he asked with a touch of hurt in his voice, “you don’t think I could be a Chippendale.”

“Oh, sure,” I quickly answered.

“Thanks,” he replied.

“Oh, wait,” I added. “Did you mean a Chippendale dancer or Chip and Dale, you know, like from the cartoon?”

“A Chippendale dancer,” he stressed.

“Oh,” I said. “Then, no.”

His face fell with disappointment, so I quickly added, “Hey, I know how to cheer you up.” I smiled. “How ‘bout a waffle?” I paused. “Or four?”

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bowl me over

(originally published November 5, 2008)

“Why are you limping?” my husband, the ever-so-vigilant physical therapist, asked that evening.

“My butt hurts,” I replied and shuffled into the kitchen to search for a yet-to-be-discovered bag of leftover Halloween candy.

“And your butt hurts because…?” he continued, cocking his head to the side to get a better angle of my injured hindquarters.

Pervert.

I stopped to mumble, “Stupid wee.”

“Huh?” he answered. “Did you just say something about ‘wee’?”

Yes. Yes, I did. And it wasn’t nearly as fun as the word would usually imply.

Wee.
Hah! More like whoa.
Big sigh.

“I kinda…maybe…sorta…pulled…something yesterday,” I answered, hoping rather fruitlessly that it would be the end of the interrogation and I could quietly slink away with the newly acquired bag of M&Ms I’d just discovered in the cabinet under the sink. I held the bag up to my nose and took a great big whiff of its chocolaty goodness. Score!

“So what exactly did you pull and how did you pull it?” my husband continued, relentlessly pursuing his line of none-of-your-bee’s-wax questioning.

Geesh! Shine a light in my eye, already! Bring on the Chinese water torture!

Another big sigh. I’d never make it past the noogies.

Time to get this off my chest…er…butt.

“What’s this part called right here?” I asked and turned to point to the left side of my rump. “Isn’t this my gluteus maximus or something?”

“Well, actually that particular area is your gluteus medius,” Mr. Smarty Pants answered. “It’s a little to the side of your gluteus maximus.”

Shows how much attention I paid in anatomy class. Oh, wait. I was a communications major. I didn’t have to take an anatomy class.

I did, however, take a very challenging earth sciences course that required me to color a complex diagram of the photosynthesis process. With crayons. From the 64-count box. I got an A.

Man, I love a liberal arts education.

“Well, whatever the stupid thing is it hurts,” I stated. “And for what it’s worth, it’s your fault.”

Mr. Smarty Pants snorted beer out of his nose before whining, “What did I do?”

“If you were a better Wii bowler, I wouldn’t be in this predicament,” I said.

Silence. For a short moment before the light bulb flashed above his head.

“Ah, you didn’t mean ‘wee’ before. You meant Wii,” he said.

As in Nintendo Wii. The all-out video game where we tested our athletic ability in a marathon session of tennis, bowling, baseball, golf, lawn darts and synchronized swimming.

OK. I may have made up those last two, but you get the picture.

It was a competition. And it was fierce.

Spiking each other’s drinks with banned substances kinda fierce just in case the International Wii Committee knocked on our door for a random drug test.

Calling a time out and taking the batteries out of his controller when he was on the toilet kinda fierce.

Shoving somebody over the back of the couch during a back-handed tennis shot kinda fierce.

Not saying…I did…any of those things. I’m just speculating on the types of things that could occur when two competitive people live under the same roof.

“So you’re telling me you pulled a muscle from playing a video game,” he snickered.

“No, I did not!” I shouted in self-defense. Then quietly added, “I pulled it while performing my victory dance after I beat you at bowling.”

And I turned around, demonstrated a replay of the little shaky-shake before pain seized the lower half of my body and I keeled over onto the couch. Oh, dear God. So much pain.
Where’s my chocolate?!

“You are so lame,” my husband laughed.

In more ways than one, I thought. But I didn’t care. I had won. At least the bowling part.

We won’t discuss what happened during lawn darts.

Let’s just say the television repairman will be here on Tuesday.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Levitating laundry and other tricky tips

(originally published January 16, 2007)

There are three secrets to having a good marriage.

1. Deny.
2. Deny.
3. And deny again.

Especially when the fate of a large and expensive home appliance is in a delicate balance between a healthy spin cycle and a hefty repair bill.

And speaking of balancing….

“We have a serious problem,” my husband said very gravely.

Uh-oh, I thought, and automatically went into cover-your-butt mode. He had used his serious voice, the one reserved for tax time and divorce discussions. And it was nowhere near April.

He led me into the laundry room, lifted the washer’s square lid, reached in and pulled out the soggy corner of a light blue patchwork quilt.

“Did you put THIS in here?” he said, giving the blanket a rough shake on the word, “this.”

I leaned over and peeked inside, noticing that most of the queen-sized quilt was piled high on only one side of the washer’s tub, leaving acres of gleaming metal on the opposite side.

My mind jumped into action and I ran through my list of Save Yourself Scenarios, quickly discarding No. 3, the one about over-medicating and No. 6, the one to do with aliens. I’m saving that one for explaining how I burned a hole in the bathroom linoleum with my curling iron.

So I decided on No. 1, the scenario upon which all others are based – deny, deny, deny.

I looked up, opened my eyes as wide and as innocently as the sockets would allow and took a deep breath.

“Well, –”

And that’s as far as I got before he interrupted me. So much for Scenario No. 1.

“Because I know I didn’t put this thing in there and I know the dog didn’t put this thing in there and I know our 18-month-old son didn’t put this thing in there,” he spat out, throwing his arms above his head and accidentally knocking into the room’s lone, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.

I watched as it swung in a crazy arc over his head while he continued, “And it’s much too heavy for this machine and it overbalanced and now it’s not working. At all. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. It’s dead. Completely. And utterly. Dead.”

He dropped the lid with a bang, the loud sound took my attention away from the hypnotic light still swinging above his head. “Honey,” he said, “you killed the washing machine.”

Whoa, I thought. J’accuse?! Moi?! Or whatever the French say when they get their dander up. I have no idea why I felt the need to defend myself in French. Perhaps I should explore that with my therapist next week. But I digress….

“I’m not really sure how the quilt got in the washer,” I said. I knitted my brows together, crossed my arms and tapped one finger against pursed lips in a proper thinking manner. “Hmmm,” I added for good measure and to stall. I had a sinking feeling that simple denial wasn’t gonna cut it. Time to use the imagination. I’m told I have a very active one.

“Aha!” I exclaimed, “Perhaps it was magic.” I nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, magic. I’ve been reading a lot of Harry Potter lately, you know. Maybe I accidentally unlocked some hidden, magical power I didn’t know I had.”

I waved my arms excitedly. Don’t stop me; I was on a roll here.

I danced around a little and continued, “You know my ancestors were Irish, right? Maybe there’s some mystical Celtic or Druid blood running through my veins that caused all this, you know. Maybe I subconsciously thought about washing the quilt sometime during the night. Then, this morning, it levitated (I made a flying motion with my arms for good effect) down the stairs and flew into the laundry room and wiggled into the washer. All by itself. Because, you know, I would never put something so big in the washing machine.”

With that I stopped talking, took a step back, crossed my arms in a “So there” kind of way and waited.

The silence was deafening. Then a sliver of a smile appeared on my husband’s face and then turned into a full-out grin.

“Try telling that to the repairman,” he laughed. “I’ll bet it’s one he’s never heard before.”

I am nothing, I thought, if not original.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Boxy momma

(originally published July 30, 2008)

It was the uppercut heard ‘round the world.

“What happened to you?” my husband asked as I walked into the kitchen in a daze.

“Fmuplhtz,” I mumbled and stumbled toward the freezer door to open it.

“Uh, I didn’t quite catch that,” he answered.

I turned, clutching a handful of ice in one hand and tried again. “FMUPLHTZ. Shin. Ow.”

He looked at me like I’d responded in Swahili.

“OK, let’s try this another way,” he said. “Why does your face look like it hit a tree?”

“Gathe wannith to thump ‘ope,” I said.

I wrapped the ice in a kitchen towel, collapsed on the sofa and gently placed the homemade ice pack on the goose egg that had once been my chin.

“I don’t understand a word you’re saying,” my husband said in frustration, leaning over my prone form.

That’s because my lower jaw is embedded in my brain and it’s gonna take surgery to remove it, I thought just before passing out.

***

He wanted to jump rope.
Gabe, our three-year-old son, whose days were filled with manly, testosterone-filled activities like football, basketball, bike riding, peeing standing up and scratching himself wanted to jump rope like a sissy little girl.

His dad must never know.

“Uh, kiddo,” I said to my son and leaned down to whisper in his ear, “we don’t even have a jump rope.”

I patted him gently on the shoulder and suggested a friendly game of tag with the super soaker water cannons to wrench him back into Man World.

Gabe’s only reaction was to run into our bedroom and disappear into the closet. He quickly emerged with one of my husband’s brown leather belts and said, “Here you go, Mommy! We can use this!” and swung it in an arc around his little blonde head, the belt’s sharp, metal buckle just missing his left eye as it flew by.

I gasped in horror, ordered, “I don’t think so,” in a very firm I’m-the-mommy voice and reached for the belt.

And found myself swinging at air. He was already out of the room and down the hall with the leather belt clutched in his hands.

Man, I thought, he’s quick for a little sissy girl. And then I took off in pursuit.

After a quick game of tug-of-war and a heated, mature mediation involving rock/paper/scissors, we agreed he could use the belt to jump rope ONE time and only if I held it for him.

Like Napoleon at Waterloo, it was destined to become a not-so-good idea.

He stood before me, hands to his sides, ready to jump. I grabbed the belt…er…jump rope and whipped it over his head and leaned down to lower it to the floor at his feet.

He balled his fists, bent his knees and prepared to jump over the belt as it skipped across the floor toward his toes.

OK. So let’s pause here a moment.

I’d like to stress that this is the point I probably should have stopped and assessed the situation a bit more thoroughly.

Perhaps I should have taken the time to factor in my son’s above-average height and his ability to jump like Michael Jordan. Then add in the fact I have freakishly short arms ‘cuz I’m only slightly taller than a member of the Lollipop Guild.

Oh, and I’m leaning over him. Right as he’s about to launch himself into the air.

Consider yourself warned.

OK, back to the action.

And - BAM!

The top of his blonde head collided with the bottom of my chin in a blow to rival anything Muhammad Ali threw at…well anyone he ever boxed.

With the words, “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” rattling in my head, I looked up to see stars then keeled over onto the floor like I’d been shot.

***

I lifted the ice pack from my face and cracked open an eyelid to see my husband standing over me.

“Gathe wannith to thump ‘ope,” I said. I shook my head and tried again. “Gabe wanted to jump rope.” Whew! I’d regained the ability to use most of the alphabet. “And my head got in the way.”

And before he could dwell on his son jumping rope, I added, “But, hey, at least we know he’s got a great vertical jump. Basketball may be in his future.” I paused and added, “Or boxing.”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at life-like-mine@hotmail.com.