After 43 years, I realized that my refusal to garden and my near boycott of cooking have absolutely nothing to do with my gross inability to perform these tasks. It’s because I like to be efficiently productive, and neither of these chores fits my requirements.
Basically, according to my calculations, Work Worthy of Me needs to fit the following formula: time spent working<time spent enjoying.
Now, I think you can see where this is going.
Let’s start with cooking.
I do not understand the need to slave in the hot kitchen for two hours to create a food item, or even a meal, that people will spend 45 minutes, tops, on appreciating. (Except for my daughter, who drags out every meal for two hours. Even then, though, the formula does not work. Because time spent working must be LESS THAN time spent enjoying. Not LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO. Even though I was going to put that, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that with my keyboard. Oops, I just figured it out. ≤ Too Late.)
Now, the gardening thing is a bit trickier. Let’s take annuals first. First of all, this a dumb categorization. Annual means “once a year” – implying that it happens repeatedly. For example, I have to annually ask Cap’n Firepants if annuals are the ones that keep coming up or the ones you have to replant.
So, let’s say you take an hour to plant some annuals that will last about three weeks. Technically, that would seem to fall nicely into my formula. But, here’s the problem. Of those three weeks, I will probably spend 1 minute/day noticing how pretty those annuals are. Hmm. So multiply by 21, carry the 3, subtract the 50, and – wow, that’s a whole 21 minutes I spent enjoying those flowers. Trigger big ole annoying buzzer sound here. Annuals – you’re outta here.
Perennials don’t work either. It would take nearly 3 years of repeating themselves for three weeks a year to earn their Time Spent Enjoying Minutes. And nothing lives 3 years in our yard. Between armadillos, Texas droughts, and a bulldog named Wonderbutt who tramples anything in his path, cacti are about the only thing that are sturdy enough to withstand nature and the Firepants Family. And I do not enjoy cacti. So, there’s that.
In conclusion, it is fortunate that I married Cap’n Firepants. Because he does not like math, and can both cook and garden. So, I should probably revise my formula a bit.
time I spent working < time I spent enjoying
time Cap’n Firepants spent working = time I spend enjoying
Cap’n Firepants + Mrs. Cap’n Firepants = A well-fed couple with a beautiful yard and a perfectly calculated annual tax return
We’re perfect for each other.
I don’t know if you have been following along with our Mattress Saga, but our house has seen more mattresses lately than a prostitute sees in a week. After I finally convinced my husband to return our current back-breaking mattress, which was a replacement for the smelly mattress, which was a replacement for our ten-year-old mattress with a sinkhole in the middle, and the salesperson committed himself to hijacking Santa’s sleigh and flying around the world to pick it up for us, we finally had a tentative date for what we hoped would be the last mattress of the summer.
The mattress delivery men called my husband to tell him that they were on their way, and would be arriving at the house in 30 minutes.
“This is not a good time,” he said firmly into the phone, and hung up on them.
Well, not exactly.
“This is not a good time. I’m taking my mother to the emergency room,” he said. Which was true. But I still put my head in my hand, and rolled my eyes back in their sockets, figuring he had permanently alienated the only men who might be able to rescue us from the Killer Mattress before our 100 day warranty runs out.
Fortunately, my mother-in-law was only in the hospital for a day. Then, she was able to come stay with us for two days in our guest bedroom. On one of the other beds with a brand new mattress. Yes, we have a mattress-collecting obsessive compulsive disorder.
I called the Manly Mattress Men, and rescheduled our delivery.
They called yesterday to announce their imminent arrival. I answered the phone. Quickly. Before Cap’n Firepants could ruin the whole thing. Again.
They came with our mattress. The brand that we originally got, and then exchanged because it smelled like the shower in a high school boys’ locker room. This one did not smell like mildew.
It smelled like foam. Exactly how it was supposed to smell.
So, we have exchanged our Killer Mattress for one that has off-gases that will probably give us cancer, killing us in 15 years instead of within the next 15 days.
12 years ago, I married Cap’n Izzy Firepants in a beautiful ceremony on his pirate ship, attended by about 100 of our closest loved ones.
About 15 years ago, I met Cap’n Firepants when we were introduced by a friend. At least, that is the way I usually tell the story. At our wedding ceremony, his First Mate, during the toast, decided to give a few more details about the way we met:
“Mistresses and Marauders, today we toast the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Cap’n Firepants. I must admit, I never thought this day would come. When Izzy called me, and told me he had picked up a girl at a bar, I almost fell out of my crow’s nest. When he told me he was dating this girl, I -”
Well, I don’t really remember the rest of the toast. Sitting at the Head Table, and watching all of the eyebrows go up, all I could think of was that the Cap’n’s First Mate needed to walk off a plank – about 40 stories high, and in dry dock.
The truth is actually a combination of both stories. We were introduced by a friend. And we did happen to be at a bar at the time. Here is what really happened:
My fellow teacher and his girlfriend were determined to find me a new boyfriend that night. I had recently broken up with someone who was a bit volatile, so my fellow teacher said, “We’re going to find you a nice guy tonight.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but it’s a bit difficult sometimes to determine if a perfect stranger is a nice guy. My friend, however, being a guy, felt that he was a good judge of male character.
As we relaxed at a table outside, my friend spotted a few people, who I immediately nixed – based on the fact that they were obviously trolling for women. Then, my friend’s eyes landed on Cap’n Firepants.
“Look at him, sitting with those other guys over there. He looks like a nice guy.”
And I agreed. Maybe it was the eyepatch. Or the parrot on his shoulder. But nothing happened. My “Come over here and introduce yourself” magnet did not appear to be working on nice guys who were pirates that night.
After five beers, my friend went inside to, uh, make room for more beer. At the inside bar, he passed Cap’n Firepants, and said, “The girl sitting with me is interested in you.”
Here, the stories diverge. No one seems to remember if Cap’n Firepants said, “Oh, the girl in the red dress?” or “Which girl?” And things could have gotten a bit hairy as we were sitting with two other women, one of which, as I’ve mentioned, was my friend’s girlfriend.
Regardless, Cap’n Firepants and one of his friends (not the loquacious First Mate) came to sit at our table. And my friend introduced us. So, technically, I’m not lying when I say that a friend introduced us. The facts that he was my friend, not the Cap’n’s, and that he didn’t even know the Cap’n’s name when he introduced us, and that we had all had a few alcoholic drinks, are trivial parts of the story with which I don’t usually feel the need to bore people.
So, we spent the rest of the evening chatting. Actually, the Cap’n’s friend and I chatted. We had both lived in New Jersey and had both gone to Barry Manilow concerts when we were kids. It is very rare, in Texas, to find someone else who was subjected to Barry Manilow and agrees with you that New Jersey has some very nice parts that look nothing like the movie depictions of inner city gang war zones.
The Cap’n had very little to say during all of this. Which I erroneously attributed to the fact that he had no interest in a former Yankee who knows all of the words to “I Write the Songs”. And, yet, when we closed the bar down, he insisted on walking me to my car, and finally said the most important thing I had heard all night.
“Can I have your number?”
So, we went on a date the very next evening. And he almost died in a vicious attack. But that story is for tomorrow…
I got a blow-out at the hair salon the other day. Loved it. (Blow-out, dirty-minded people.)
So, I decided to replicate the procedure at home. 45 minutes later, I finished, and marched out into the living room to show my blown-out bombshell self to the family.
Cap’n Firepants smiled that “I love you so much, you sexy lady” smile and came up and kissed me.
“So, you decided to go with the frizzy look today?” he whispered in my ear.
And this is where I am going to give you the Secret to a Good Marriage – The Not Large Caucasian Exaggeration (the politically correct version of The Little White Lie).
Novices might think that Cap’n Firepants should never have said that my hair looked frizzy. BUT THAT WOULD BE WRONG.
Novices might think I should be mad at Cap’n Firepants for calling my hair frizzy. AND THAT WOULD BE RIGHT.
Novices might think I should tell Cap’n Firepants off for calling my hair frizzy. AND THAT WOULD BE RIGHT – BUT NOT RIGHT NOW.
“No, I’m not finished with it yet. Just heating up the flat iron,” I said, sweetly. (Not Large Caucasian Exaggeration – I was heating up, just not heating up the flat iron.)
Here’s why this carefully chosen Exaggeration was important: Because I like Cap’n Firepants telling me the truth so I don’t look like an idiot when I go out in public. And if I get hopping’ mad at Cap’n Firepants for telling me the truth, then he will stop telling me the truth. So, I act like I appreciate his candidness, and suck up my hurt feelings until later.
“For crying out loud, Cap’n Firepants, how many times do I have to ask you to STOP EATING ALL OF THE ICE CREAM? IS THIS YOUR WAY OF SAYING YOU WANT A DIVORCE?!!!”
This has two positive results – I get to finally release my anger about the frizzy hair comment, and he will buy more ice cream the next time he goes to the store.
It’s a win/win situation.
The Not Large Caucasian Exaggeration – no marriage can survive without it.
No one else you know has acquired as many mattresses as we have in the last three months. No one. Unless you know someone who is building a new hotel or fairytale castle or something.
First, we got the smelly mattress.
Which we replaced with the killer mattress.
Then we prematurely inherited 2 sets of Very Old Mattresses along with their antique beds.
So, we decided we should probably replace the Very Old Mattresses. Because, according to the mattress commercials we will either be suffocated by dust mites or get fat if we use them.
Then, I decided to replace the killer mattress.
“Hello. Yes, remember me? We bought a mattress from you, and then it smelled, and then you gave us a different model. And then it tried to paralyze my husband.”
“Oh. That’s too bad.”
“So, we want the first mattress back. But we don’t want that one back. Because it smelled. But can you get us another one that is the same model, but doesn’t smell?”
“Well, that model has been discontinued. But I’ll see what I can do.”
Four hours later…
“Well, it turns out there are only 3 of those mattresses left in the whole United States. And one of them is in Austin. But Austin does not transfer to the San Antonio store. So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to a meeting in Austin next week. I’ll put the mattress in my big truck, and bring it to San Marcos. San Marcos will transfer it to our warehouse in San Antonio, and then our guys can deliver it to you.”
“Wow. That’s really great! And it’s not the one we returned, right?”
So, I call Cap’n Firepants to deliver the great news.
“…and, he’s going to fly it in from a private island off the coast of South America, and carry it on his back to San Antonio, and then a chariot pulled by 100 armadillos will bring it to our house,” I slightly exaggerated. “Isn’t that great?” I ask.
“You liked that mattress, right? It was just the smell we couldn’t handle.”
“It was… okay.”
“I’m going to kill you.”
“This all comes from having a husband who has a sketchy history with lizards.” This is what I was thinking Sunday night when I was in the middle of risking my life on the mean streets of Boston.
My day started early in the a.m when I started getting ready for my trip to Boston.
In the middle of my shower, I decided I should shave my legs in case my plane crashed. Then, I told myself that I needed to remember to pack a razor. Then I put my foot on my little teak table in my shower. And then I bent down and was face to face with a lizard.
I am not freaked out by lizards – though it is somewhat disconcerting to find one in my shower. I responded to this surprise visit by finishing my business, and then grabbing Cap’n Firepants’ phone from his bedside table so I could take a picture.
“Whadrudoin?” the Cap’n sleepily asked.
“Documenting the lizard in our shower.”
It’s a testament to Cap’n Firepants that he did not ask any follow up questions.
A few minutes later, the Cap’n got up to take his shower.
“Where is the lizard?” he asked.
“Why?” I said, cautiously. Actually, I think I said, “Why? Don’t you dare kill him. He’s cute.” The Cap’n and I differ on the treatment of varmint trespassers. He likes to squish them under his foot, while I generally pick them up and take them outside.
“So I don’t step on him by accident,” he responded, to my relief.
The point of this whole story is that I completely forgot to pack my razor, due to my fear that Cap’n Firepants might squish the unfortunate lizard in our shower. This is what I realized when I reached my Boston hotel later that evening after my exciting adventures barely evading the law for flying under an assumed name that wasn’t even my choice to assume in the first place. (See yesterday’s post for that fun story.)
So I decided to make a trek around 8:30 at night to the local CVS pharmacy.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that I completely lack any kind of map-reading skills, night sight, or sense of direction. Or common sense.
Oh, and I was alone.
Of course I went 10 blocks in the wrong direction at the beginning of my trek. But I finally found the CVS with the help of the good people of Harvard Square.
There were some decidedly unacademic looking people hanging out at the CVS.
Quite a few seemed to be having an attack of the munchies.
But I made it back to the hotel safe and sound, and confident in the fact that I would have smooth legs during my first day on the Harvard campus.
Now I am going to include a picture of the lizard and, in retrospect, it really wasn’t worth risking my life to take. I am telling you this now because I don’t know how to make captions on my pics using the WordPress iPad app.
Cap’n Firepants wants to divorce me. I would like to file the legal papers first, but I’m in that week of the month when I don’t allow myself to make any major decisions or sign legal documents.
Of course, he hasn’t actually come out and said that he is planning to divorce me. But I know he is.
Because he unplugged my flat iron.
At first, I thought this was a great reason for me to head down to the court house and start my own proceedings. But, then I realized that there was a message there. And, it was not, “I’m going to drive you crazy by doing things that will make you divorce me.” Instead, if you really read between the lines, it was, “This girls is going nuts, but it’s useless to even tell her, so I will just pretend everything is fine and slap her with papers when she least expects it.”
You see, I knew the flat iron was still on and plugged in. But Cap’n Firepants did not know I knew. But, instead of yelling to me, “Hey, did you mean to leave your flat iron plugged in?” he just assumed that I did not know because I must be losing it, and unplugged it.
Naive people might believe that he was being kind by not mentioning to me that I forgot to unplug the iron, which, by the way, I DID NOT FORGET, but I know the truth.
I confronted Cap’n Firepants with this information.
“Oh, I didn’t tell you?” he said, feigning ignorance.
“No, you didn’t. And I am pretty certain this is your subtle way of saying that you want a divorce.”
He laughed. And then he said, I KID YOU NOT, “Do you mean all of the other subtle ways didn’t tell you that?”
I can’t wait until my moratorium week is over.
When I married Cap’n Firepants, I did not realize that there was an extra bonus to this relationship – he enjoys grocery shopping.
I hate grocery shopping. Despise it. It bores the heck out of me and the store is always freezing and it depresses me to spend all of that money on food instead of a good pair of shoes.
So, Cap’n Firepants does our household shopping.
We used to have a pretty good system using an app on both of our phones that allowed us to add to the list. But then we started getting out of sync with each other and one person would have the list finished and the other person would delete it because
he/she I thought it was the list from last week. And then someone would be a bit upset. So then someone else stopped adding things to the list.
Cap’n Firepants likes to shop early on weekend mornings. When I am still asleep. Before he leaves, our conversation goes like this:
“I’m leaving for the store.”
I have a pillow over my head and vaguely hear something. He taps me on my shoulder. I whip the pillow off.
“I’m leaving,” he repeats.
I slowly focus on what he is saying. “Peach Propel,” I say, and put the pillow back over my head.
I am here to tell you that this method does not work very well.
The Cap’n does get the one thing I managed to voice before he left. And the other things that we always get. But, then, he goes off the reservation. And starts buying things that he hasn’t bought in awhile, thinking that we must surely be out of them since he hasn’t bought them in awhile. It does not occur to him that he has not bought them in awhile because we still have a huge stock of them and don’t need any more.
This is why we have 4 packages of hot dogs in our refrigerator, 3 bottles of Miralax in our medicine cabinet, and 5 thousand packages of shredded cheddar cheese.
It has occurred to me that the solution to this problem is to make a Don’t Buy This Ever Again, or at Least in the Foreseeable Future List. It would include:
- hot dogs
- cheddar cheese
- anything you expect me to cook that does not have directions on the package
But then I would have to maintain that list. And, eventually, I will want one of the things on that list, and then we will have a fight over which list is the list of things to buy and which is the list of things to avoid. And then Cap’n Firepants might decide to put me on a list – of People He No Longer Shops For.
And that would be a disaster for the entire Firepants household. Because a house without hot dogs or Miralax and with 5 thousand bags of cheddar cheese is not a house you want to enter. Trust me.
Cap’n Firepants is trying to kill me. And he is quite devious about it. He acts like he loves me and wants the best for me. But he is really plotting my demise.
After finally getting our mildew mattress exchanged for a mattress of better quality and NO MILDEW smell, my husband began to implement his Plot to Kill His Wife Slowly By Making Her Brain Implode.
“The new mattress doesn’t smell.”
“Yeah, isn’t it great?”
“But it feels like the old mattress. Not the mildew one. The other one.”
Oh God. The mattress that had a cave-in. The one that was destroying his back so badly that he started sleeping in the other room so he could walk each day without looking like the Hunchback of San Antonio.
“But how can this be? You tested it in the store. It’s supposed to be just like the first model – but better! It even feels firmer to me than the last one.”
“Not to me.”
“Are you insane? IT IS FINE! IT’S BETTER! IT DOESN’T SMELL!”
“It’s not better to me.”
I am reporting him for spousal abuse.