When your nine year old daughter is invited to a birthday party in the middle of the afternoon, and it is located 45 minutes from your house, and the hostess of the party says, “You two should go on a date while she’s here – go see a movie or something – and you can pick her up whenever you want,” you and your husband do not say No.
And you probably don’t go on a date.
You drive around for awhile, and end up at a mattress store. Well, maybe that’s not what you would do. But that is where Cap’n Firepants and I ended up yesterday afternoon. We’ve been married 12 years. We know how to keep a marriage going strong, and it is not by arguing over which movie we should see and where we should see it and why should we pay this stupid amount of money just so we can listen to babies crying and men coughing up a lung right behind us.
When you think about it, the mattress store is really the ideal destination for a two hour break from your kid. Especially when you and your husband have been sleeping in separate rooms for the last two weeks because the mattress in your bedroom has been turning him into Quasimodo.
And the last time you took your daughter mattress shopping with you, she made you wonder why the Queen in the fairytale stuck a pea under all of those mattresses instead of piling the pallets on top of the princess so the Queen could have some peace and quiet.
Testing out mattresses with Cap’n Firepants can be quite amusing because he has a certain sense of decorum which cannot really be maintained when you are trying to determine if it is actually possible to jump onto a mattress without spilling a glass of wine. And when they don’t provide you with the glass of wine to test this theory, this just makes things more challenging.
“Go ahead, do a cannonball,” the salesperson told Cap’n Firepants.
“Yes, go ahead, do a cannonball,” I said, quite certain that it would take at least 5 glasses of wine (in his bloodstream, not perched on the mattress) to motivate the Cap’n to accept this challenge. He surprised me, though, by leaping onto the mattress – not at cannonball strength, but certainly with a bit less inhibition than Cap’n Firepants generally likes to show in public.
“O.K. I don’t want this mattress,” I declared, as the Richter scale pointer hit 9.8, and my head glanced off of the ceiling.
After dizzying lectures about foam density, breathable fabrics, and factory warranties, the salesman had me convinced that the only mattress that I should ever sleep on for the rest of my life – the one that would not only alleviate any back problems, but would prevent cancer and cure the uncommon cold – was the $10,000 one in the middle of the store.
“You could buy a car for that,” Cap’n Firepants noted.
“Who needs a car?” I asked, as I stared up at the ceiling from my bed on a cloud, and realized that, if someone paid me to write, I could not only work from home, but I could work from my bed until retirement. Heck, I might even decide not to retire.
The Cap’n, however, did not want me to give up my car for a mattress. And, for some reason yet to be explained, was not willing to give up his car, either.
This kind of put a glitch in this whole two-hour alternative to marriage counseling.
We ended up purchasing a “reasonable” mattress that, I’m pretty sure, will not balance a glass of wine, much less cure cancer.
And when we get a hole in our ceiling because I did a cannonball into bed, I am so going to blame him for not shelling out that $10,000.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have been interested in someone – kind of “courting” this someone, so to speak. Let’s say, then, that you learn a little bit more about this someone, and realize that they aren’t really as great as you thought. You kind of lose interest.
Then, maybe your best friend suddenly displays some interest in the someone you willingly walked away from.
That’s somewhat bothersome. You might feel a little betrayed.
Did I mention you are married?
Oh, and that your best friend is your husband?
Kind of complicates things.
Just hypothetical, though, remember? No worries.
O.K. Here’s the situation. I wanted the new iPhone for my birthday. When I found out more about it, I decided I didn’t want it.
Now, Cap’n Firepants suddenly wants it. He already has a phone that’s one generation newer than mine.
I feel betrayed.
I know that’s irrational. Cap’n Firepants was more than willing to let me have the one upgrade we have available on our account right now. He’s asked me several times if I’m sure that I don’t want the iPhone 4S. And I don’t. Despite the fact that my current iPhone 3G could’t hold a charge long enough to complete a conversation with the fastest talking auctioneer in the world, or that its case looks like it’s gone through a war in which people fling their cell phone cases onto the ground to test for land mines, I am holding out for the next generation.
Now that he wants it, I am having second thoughts. Just like the boyfriend I ditched in college who suddenly seemed much more attractive when my best friend started dating him.
O.K., that never happened. But I’ve seen it happen in lots of movies. And it seems like it would be painful.
I don’t see why a pirate needs a cell phone anyway. Can’t he just use his cutlass to get his messages across to people? Or, what about the stupid parrot?
In an ideal world, I would date the boyfriend until he’s all used up, and then pass him on to my best friend when a better model presents him(it)self.
Somehow, I don’t think Cap’n Firepants would agree to this plan.
He’s so unreasonable.
Cap’n Firepants and I have advanced to the iPhone 4s dating stage of our marriage.
When we first welcomed Dimples into the world, dating went on a sabbatical, promising to return refreshed and ready to be even better than before. Then we realized that we needed to carve some time out for ourselves, and tried to make a regular date once a month. But the baby-sitting fees killed us. So, we slacked off. Now we are beginning to enjoy the unexpected benefits of Dimples’ own surprisingly active social life.
When Dimples gets invited to someone’s house for the evening, we do everything we can to take advantage of the time. Unfortunately, eight year old girls are not know for planning ahead. So, this is how it usually goes:
Dimples, when I am picking her up from after school care late Friday afternoon, states, “My BFF is going to see if I can come over.”
Then ensues a discussion of which BFF we are talking about. For those of you who don’t have 8 year old girls, this can change from minute to minute.
“Tonight? It’s almost 5:30 already. When was this great plan going to be set into motion, exactly?”
“She said she’d call.”
I check my cell phone. No calls.
Sure enough, though, at 5:45, BFF of the Moment calls.
I call the Cap’n, my own permanent BFF.
“Change in plans,” I say. “Instead of the dinner I wasn’t planning to cook anyway, we’re going out to celebrate my birthday.”
“Ok,” he gamely agrees, secretly hoping he will now be off the hook for finding a replacement birthday gift now that I have informed him he better not get me that stupid lame-o iPhone 4s. (We all know what the “s” stands for, really, don’t we?) So, we drop off Dimples and go to a restaurant to begin killing our 2 1/2 hours of freedom. After a relaxed, non-interrupted meal, mostly talking abut Dimples, we look at our cell phone clocks. Wow. We still have two more hours before we need to pick up Dimples.
What should we do? Listen to a hot new live band? Go see the new Clooney movie? Go somewhere for coffee like the good ole days when caffeine wasn’t going to keep us from sleeping, and who needs sleep anyway?
After much discussion, we decide to go home.
So, as we sit at home, laughing and playing with Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B., I reflect on this new phase in our relationship. Somewhat improved communication, more face-time with the Cap’n, and apparently faster processing (based on the record speed in which we completed our date). Not bad.
But it could be better. Hey, I’m not complaining – just looking forward to the next model, er, phase, of our marriage.
I was trying to type a new blog post and contemplating my stupidity for publishing my October Dead Rubber Post on the first day of October when I clearly had much more to write about on 10/1 than I do today, 10/2.
Suddenly, Cap’n Firepants knocked on the door.
For those of you who don’t know, Cap’n Firepants is my husband. And there is no reason for him to be knocking on the door, as he actually lives in the same house as I do. And since he didn’t actually say anything when he knocked, there was no reason for me to know that it was Cap’n Firepants. Since it was the garage door from where the knocking sound emanated, I assumed it was him. But it took me a moment to realize what this meant.
He was locked in the garage. Again.
Yes, this is a common occurence. Fortunately, I was home, and could come to his rescue. There have been other notable times this was not the case.
One time, back in our old house, pre-Dimples and Wonderbutt, I got locked in the garage. I luckily had my cell phone (yes, the same one that Cap’n Firepants had given me as a loving gift 2 years before when I was hoping for an engagement ring), and was able to call Cap’n Firepants at work to come let me back into the house. We later realized, by catching her red-pawed, that Mrs. Pain in the Butt, our Golden Retriever, was the culprit. Cap’n Firepants went into the garage, and Mrs. P.I.B. hit the knob with her muzzle and paw a few times, effectively locking him in while I watched. We think her intent was to try to follow him in.
We learned to keep a house key in the garage for just such occasions, and it came in handy more than once.
One day, a few years later, I got a phone call at the school where I worked. My students had not entered my classroom for the day yet, so I was able to take the call. This was the conversation:
Cap’n Firepants: Lovely Wife, remember the spare key we loaned to our good friend a couple of weeks ago when we went out of town, and our good friend agreed to watch Mrs. P.I.B.?
Me (wondering why Cap’n Firepants has chosen this odd time for a stroll down Memory Lane): Yes.
Cap’n Firepants: Did our good friend return the key?
Cap’n Firepants: And where would that key be now?
Me: Uh, on my keychain.
Cap’n Firepants: So, the key that we kept in the garage for times we got locked in is hanging from your keychain right now?
Me (still not cluing in to why this might be a relevant topic to discuss at 8:00 in the morning when I am about to have kids in my classroom at any moment): Yes.
This is when Cap’n Firepants proceeded to explain to me that he got locked in the garage that morning when he was taking out the garbage. Dimples, a mere two years old at the time, had been upstairs watching Little Einsteins on T.V. For some inexplicable reason, she did not open the child safety gate and respond to the banging on the door and calls to let Daddy in. Mrs. P.I.B. answered him back, but, considering she was the reason he was stuck in there to begin with, she was not much help. Apparently, she is an expert at locking doors, but can’t reverse the trick.
So, you might be thinking Cap’n Firepants was calling me from his cell phone to ask me to drive back home and let him in. Nope, he was already in.
Wily Cap’n Firepants knew that our garage shared a wall with the closet in our Master Bedroom. So he took advantage of the many tools that
littered adorned our garage, and cut a hole into our closet. Then he crawled through and checked on Dimples, probably giving Mrs. P.I.B. and Lovely Wife a few choice words along the way. Then he called me.
Fortunately, Cap’n Firepants does not hold a grudge for very long. Very fortunate b/c I am now going to reveal the one little detail that explains why he did not solve his problem by just opening the garage door and going to the neighbor’s house to ask to use her phone.
Cap’n Firepants was not wearing his pants. Just his Cap’n Fireboxers.
The moral of this story is to marry someone who is very forgiving, particularly if you happen to be somewhat forgetful. And to make sure they have no interest in reading your blog.
Not too long ago, I published a post ranting about my frustrations with some of the doctors I’ve encountered. Telling people in my blog what I really wish I’d said to them in person is what this site is all about. But not every missed opportunity to speak up is a complaint. Today’s post is dedicated to a compliment I wish I’d given.
When I don’t feel well, I call Dr. Jimmy’s office. A Real Person answers, not an automated voice with a confusing menu of choices, none of which actually apply to your situation, advising you to listen to all of the options because they have changed, then tricking you by making zero, the former talk-to-a-person option, into a non-choice so you have to listen to the blasted menu all over again.
The Real Person at Dr. Jimmy’s calmly listens, and finds a time to fit me in. Not in a month. That day. At a time that is convenient for me. There is a millisecond of a moment that I’m on hold while she looks up my chart, but there is no irritating scratchy music or ads for new treatments I didn’t know I needed. And no accidental hangups.
I arrive early for my appointment and the Real Live Person gives me a three-inch sheet of paper with about five things for me to fill out. I don’t have to fill out three pages of questions that I’ve already answered ten times before about my entire medical history and all of my allergies. Just check off that nothing has changed since the last time I was here, which for your information, People Who Think I’m a Hypochondriac, was two years ago.
I turn in my little paper stub and my copayment. I sit down and pull out my iPad. Two minutes later, I am called back to the exam room. Yep, you got that right, folks. Before. My. Appointment. Time.
Weight and blood pressure taken, I wait in the reasonably temperate room. I am not freezing my butt off in a transparent napkin that covers nothing because I am actually still wearing all of my clothes. No paper gown dress code for Dr. Jimmy’s office.
As I contemplate taking my iPad out again, in strides Dr. Jimmy. Casually dressed in jeans and a button down shirt, he shakes my hand and greets me like an I’m an old friend from college he happened to bump into at the grocery store. In a manner of minutes, he has helped me to identify my physical ailment, empathized with me because he’s suffered through the same symptoms, offered over-the-counter treatment, and asked me to call the office back if this reasonable prescription doesn’t help within a day.
No over-dramatic orders to go see five specialists, get blood tests and x-rays, and to stop eating anything if I ever want to feel better.
I am back in my car within 25 minutes of my arrival. I could actually go back to work if I want to.
But I don’t.
Thanks, Dr. Jimmy. I haven’t taken my medicine yet, but I feel better already.
Allow me to introduce you to Big Mean Kitty, Mrs. P.I.B.’s favorite toy.
Big Mean Kitty has withstood a lot of abuse over the years, and he’s beginning to look a little like a candidate for the dumpster. However, I can’t seem to bring myself to throw him out. And it’s not just because Mrs. P.I.B. loves him.
Quite frankly, I am scared of him.
You see, that pose in the picture – no human in our house positioned him that way. We just came home one day, and there he was, chillin’ by the back door.
That time we took a picture. But there have been many other times that, for purposes of evidence, we should have and didn’t.
Like the time he was doing the splits.
Or the time he was doing a perfect bridge in the hallway in front of Dimples’, the gymnast’s, bedroom.
It’s a little disturbing to turn the corner in the house and see this:
Now, I was never one to be afraid of clowns, and I thought the main character in the Chucky movies looked far too ridiculous to be even remotely scary.
But Big Mean Kitty is freakin’ me out.
I think he might be a little miffed at the arrival of Wonderbutt into the household. Wonderbutt doesn’t treat him as mildly as Mrs. P.I.B. , and the stuffing has started to come out of his joints (Big Mean Kitty’s – not Wonderbutt’s) as a result. The abuse may have propelled Big Mean Kitty over to the Dark Side. What used to seem to be amusing quirks of fate now seem to be his own menacing interpretations of “I’m going to murder you in your bed.”
I was in the middle of composing this little tribute when we took a break for dinner. When I finished dinner, I got up to take my plate to the kitchen, and there was Big Mean Kitty, who had been in the living room when we sat down. Wonderbutt, who usually likes to take toys and whack me in the leg with them while I’m eating, was sitting about a foot away, looking up at me like he was saying, “Did you just see that? He walked right over here and plopped himself down next to your foot.”
No wonder the dogs weren’t intimidated by a snake in the house the other day. They’ve seen worse things creeping around.
Yesterday was a Red Letter Day. I won two awards.
Okay, so the first award was from my daughter. She gave me the following blue ribbon for saving our unimpressed family from a somewhat confused Snake in the House:
Bestowed upon 15 bloggers by Miranda Gargasz at http://scatteringmoments.wordpress.com, this award has a slighter longer history than the Life Saver one hurriedly sketched on a piece of notepaper by Dimples. And, it is accompanied by heavy responsibility. If you accept this award, you are committed to the following conditions:
1. Thank the person who shared the award with you by linking back to them in your post.
2. Pass this award to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know that you included them in your blog post.
3. List 7 things about yourself.
So, here we go:
1. Thanks, Miranda, for the words of encouragement!
2. Here are my 15 blogs, in no particular order –
3. Seven things about myself: I tied for first place in my district-wide Spelling Bee in 5th grade (they finally stopped the Bee because it had gone for hours with no sign of a winner), My favorite childhood books were The Anne of Green Gables series, I like to sing with the Glee app on my iPad, One of the few movies I’ve ever watched over 20 times was Grease 2, If I had to choose between 105 degree temperatures every day of the year or Below Freezing every day of the year, I would definitely choose the 105, I cannot tolerate Intolerance, AND the only thing that I can make in the kitchen that tastes decent is cheesecake.
Alright, so now that I have taken care of all of the lists, I must now go alert all of the winners about their inclusion and homework for the day.
Please contact my agent to arrange interviews and autograph appearances. He will be happy to fit you in between rope-tugging and ball-fetching appointments.
Just another normal day in the Wonderbutt household…
I thought the dead rats in our attic were having a race yesterday morning. Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B. looked mildly curious about the racket, but not nearly as concerned as I thought they should be. Then I looked outside, and realized the pattering sound above my head was actually rain. It’s been that long. Mrs. P.I.B. forgot that she is mortally afraid of any type of precipitation and didn’t even start panting. Wonderbutt just looked at me, ignoring the sound and giving me his daily please-don’t-leave-me-to-go-to-that-stupid-job sad face.
The storm was over by the time I had identified it.
Later on in the day, Dimples and I arrived home to a similarly unimpressed dog duo. Wonderbutt showed off his toy of the day, and I briefly greeted him before heading to my closet to kick off my shoes.
“Mom!!!” Frantic shouting from the Dimples, the Drama Queen. Was Wonderbutt attacking her backpack again?
More frantic. “Mom!!!! There’s a snake!”
Now, let’s pause for a moment for a little background info. Dimples is frantic when there is a spider in her tub, a tangle in her hair, or a missing remote control. There are no in-between levels of freaking out in her opinion. Every problem deserves the same amount of yelling at the loudest possible decibel.
So, you might understand why I didn’t immediately comprehend that there was an actual snake in the house. Particularly since Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B. had not bothered to indicate this fact upon our entrance.
I walked back down the hall to clarify the situation. Yep. Snake near the bottom stair. Wonderbutt sitting on the other side of the gate looking somewhat bored about the situation as the snake tried desperately to crawl into the stair riser. Dimples wide-eyed and practically hyperventilating. No sign of Mrs. P.I.B.
Now, I am not a snake expert, but I have handled a few in my life as a teacher. There was no rattle on the tail, and no alarming red or yellow colors. I vaguely thought I remembered that venomous snakes have a certain snout shape, and this one did not look like the menacing kind.
So I told Dimples to open the back door, grabbed the snake behind the head, marched outside, and threw it in the garden.
Dimples gaped. Mrs. P.I.B. reappeared and wagged her tail slightly apologetically, and Wonderbutt presented me with a medal – er, I mean, slobbery toy.
After releasing the snake, I realized that I was going to have some ‘splainin, to do to Cap’n Firepants. If it had been him, he would have hacked the snake to pieces right there, irrespective of the fact that he would be scarring Dimples for life.
So, I Googled the snake. Brown and black mottled snake in Texas.
Hah! A Rat Snake! This would be my defense for being a Snake Saving Pushover.
Because the more rat snakes patrolling our property, the less dead rats dancing around in our attic, right?
It all started because Dimples does not like to sweat.
As the typical helicopter-missing-a-blade parent, I have been trying to guide Dimples through various extracurricular activities in the hopes she would find her niche. For awhile, I thought we had hit on the right combo with dance and gymnastics. As I mentioned before, the kid has ungenetically enhanced rhythm. She also has weirdly fluid flexibility.
But when we were getting ready to sign up for a new season, Dimples announced from the back seat of the car (her usual spot for stunning proclamations) that she guessed she didn’t really want to do gymnastics again. The same kid who does cartwheels and handstands all over the house declared that she no longer wanted to do them. In the one place it was actually encouraged and there were spotters and a big foam pit.
“Uh, you don’t want to do gymnastics?” To me, this was like Wonderbutt suddenly declaring that he would rather not eat the piece of cheese that had miraculously fallen to the floor during the preparation of dinner.
“It makes me sweat too much.”
My bipolar brain started duking it out immediately. One side was thrilled because we would save money and have more time. The other side was bummed because we thought we had found her “passion” in gymnastics.
Ignoring the inner battle, I felt obligated to ask, “So, is there something else you would rather do?”
“Swimming” was the surprising answer.
Why was this surprising? Because she spent the first two summers of swimming lessons avoiding putting her head under the water. She was over that now, but I never would have guessed as I begged her to please, please just put her face in and blow some bubbles years ago that she would one day decide that swimming was her all-time favorite sport.
It was also surprising because, once she had overcome her H2O fears, she had taken every lesson available at our pool. The only thing left to do was swim team, and she didn’t want to compete in swim team because, along with her strong opposition to sweat, she apparently has a strong opposition to opposition.
For a couple of days after her condemnation of the sweaty sport of gymnastics, I despaired of finding any kind of suitable replacement. There seemed no point in swimming more laps if she wasn’t actually going to do anything with it. Then I remembered reading an article about a local team. A synchronized swimming team.
A sport that combines gymnastics and swimming. A sport that has fun music and costumes. A sport that does not involve sweat.
After I ineptly attempted to explain all of this to Dimples, she gamely decided to try it out.
So, one night, Dimples joined the team at a practice while I talked to one of the board members about the requirements. As I listened to explanations about the financial commitment, the required fundraising, and the mandatory volunteer hours, I started realizing my mistake.
As I was realizing my mistake, Dimples was quickly getting used to this no-sweat activity. By the time I had concluded that it was time to ditch this idea and try sky-diving instead, Dimples had concluded this was her new passion.
So now we are rolling into Year 2. Dimples gets to do her dance and gymnastics without sweating, and I get to sweat how I’m going to pay for it.
I’ve decided how to tell when you are living a life of luxury. Shoes. Not just the fact that you own some designer shoes. Anyone can save up their Starbucks money and buy a pair of Manolo Blahniks. It’s when you can go the shoe store and see a pair of shoes that you know would go perfectly with an outfit in your closet, and you actually go ahead and buy them.
Well, everyone does that, you think. In fact, isn’t that the point of actually going to the shoe store in the first place? But look at that last sentence in the first paragraph carefully, and you will realize your mistake. “An” is the key word. Yes, a pair of shoes that will only go with one outfit. That is true luxury.
I went to the shoe store yesterday, and found the absolute perfect pair of red shoes. I’ve never bought a pair of red shoes in my life. Because, let’s face it. How many outfits will they actually go with? There are 10 million shades of red, so you probably won’t wear them with a red skirt or blouse. So you have to be a little more daring, and try to slide them in as the third color in a combo, like black and white, or gray. Or you can be a patriotic red, white, and blue. Attractive.
So it was foolish of me to even try them on. But they beckoned as I traveled down every aisle. I’ve been crushing on red shoes ever since I watched The Wizard of Oz movie the weekend I unknowingly had the chicken pox. (Long story.)
I reasoned that, once I slipped them on, they would look awful and I would be able to abandon them with a clear conscience. But that turned out to not be the case. I could tell that heads were turning admiringly as I strutted toward the long mirror in my tank top, khaki shorts, and three inch red pumps. I was certain that those shoes could transform me into the sexiest forty-two year old at next weekend’s soccer game. Or a hooker.
But I could only think of one outfit that I owned that might even be a possible match for these lovely shoes. And it was not the one I had on. (Come on, people, I’m not a complete dufus in the fashion department.) I tried desperately to think of others. But nothing came to mind. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pull off the high heels with bobby socks look that Dorothy rocked. And I am not at the point in my life where I can spend eighty dollars on a pair of shoes that can’t multitask.*
So I tearfully packed the shoes back up and forced myself back down the more utilitarian aisles of beige, black and brown shoes. But I left with nothing. It was too depressing.
*Some of you might feel obliged to recommend the ultimate multitasking shoes – Crocs. Yes, I am aware that you can buy them in every color of the rainbow and that they are oh, so practical for any occasion. At the risk of starting a blogging controversy, I would like to ask you to please refrain from suggesting Crocs. I do fine on my own looking like a clown, and do not need any other fashion accessories to exaggerate this image.