My husband and I have had an ongoing argument for six years. I have wanted something soft and cuddly to love (other than him) and he has wanted a fur-free house (other than his own). My daughter has watched every one of her friends welcome new pets into their homes since she was of school age and both of us have requested a pet for the last five birthdays. Two birthdays ago my husband actually bought me a stuffed cat that makes angry faces when you squeeze his head. I named him Fido. He is surprisingly not a cuddler.
The argument really heated up in the last year when my daughter started coming home with weekly new pet announcements from her friends. This poor kid wanted a cat so badly she was labeling the neighbor’s cats as strays and trying to covertly “adopt” them. The argument finally came to an end the week before Thanksgiving, just like all arguments are resolved, on the internet. My friend posted several photos of a kitten who needed a new home quickly. I showed the post to my husband stating loudly “this is the universe telling us we need a kitten. Listen to the universe!” For once, he listened to the universe. I’m fairly certain he knew he was going to lose this war eventually. I am nothing if not persistent (read – nag).
Within 24 hours we were across town picking up our new fur baby. We were informed that she had been locked in a bathroom for three days due to the sudden injury of her previous owner and the need to keep her contained. She screamed the whole 45 minute drive home during a storm while her carrier bounced on my kiddo’s lap. My daughter promptly dubbed the 3 pound spitfire Brody after Brody Dalle of the Distillers. She lived up to her name quickly when she walked around the house the first night meowing loudly and pushed her way into my arms to wrap her body around my face for a quick nap. I was awoken the following morning by a furry punch to the nose. I hadn’t slept much anyway after Brody decided that crawling under the covers to bite my kneecaps at 3 am was a super fun game. By the end of the first 48 hours, half of my body was covered in scratches and teeth marks, but I didn’t mind. I am a bit like that big doofus who halfway smothers Bugs Bunny by over-loving him.
My whole family suffers from allergies of all kinds, so it was not a shock to find my daughter covered in hives with itchy, watery eyes within hours of bringing Brody home. We proceeded to heavily medicate her while searching for remedies online. Within an hour four different types of kitty shampoo, allergen reducing fabric spray and food were being shipped to our door. Who knew they made cat food that changes the allergen production in pets. Three weeks later, my daughter was still sneezing and itchy but adamant that these conditions were not due to the kitten. A month later her allergies disappeared. Apparently that miracle cat food actually works. Yay science!
We got a bit of a shock at Brody’s first visit to the vet. First, we found out Brody is a boy. I had manhandled this little boy at least 10 times while bathing him and had no idea he had a penis. I don’t know if that says something about me or him, but now I feel bad every time I call him my “little man”. We were also informed that he has a heart murmur sever enough that he needed to see a cardiologist before they would perform his neutering and declawing (which were requirements for living with my husband). Our vet pulled some strings to get all of these procedures done before Christmas and on December 22 I got a call informing me that his heart freaked out a minute into the surgery and they could not declaw him but were able to steal his manhood. I had been preparing for such an event and already had nail covers in multiple sparkly colors bookmarked. I figured since we had already mislabeled him as female and stolen his nuts, sparkly pink claw covers would not bother him even a little.
He came home from his surgery and immediately jumped onto his cat tree where he had previously been able to hang by his sharp little claws. He bounced off the post three times as he attempted to use his claws that were no longer of use. He was still too stoned from his surgery to feel any pain so he just kept throwing himself at the structure until we removed it from the room. Within 30 minutes of being home, he also managed to soak himself in water and roll around in his litter box while pooping. Naturally, he then jumped into my bed trailing clumps of litter and poop all over my quilt. My original plan to keep him in our bedroom was quickly amended and I took his litter box directly to the basement. I then spent an hour attempting to de-poop Brody’s tail wondering when he ate the glue that was clearly making the poop similar to dried cement all over his tiny butt. The next two days consisted of hiding medication in food that he refused to eat, cleaning up water that he consistently splashed out of his bowl like a propeller, and carrying the little fur ball around the house like an infant since he demanded my full attention. Surprisingly, Santa still brought my little man a giant sack full of toys.
Brody has been with us almost two months and we are finally all settling in. The humans know we are unable to get off the couch without having our ankles bitten or walk up the stairs without a sneak attack. Brody still punches me in the nose every morning but it’s to wake me for his heart medication, which he is now taking with a tablespoon of wet food. He also demands that a tabletop fountain be turned on for his daily water consumption, and that the curtains be opened or he will climb them and try to open them himself. He has even made friends with Fido. A few nights ago I heard him making all kinds of noise and dragging the evil stuffed animal up the stairs. I think he is trying to form a kitten gang. And so the adventure begins…
**Well look at that, Brody likes to listen to his namesake!
My family has many holiday traditions. Some are fun like watching A Christmas Story 400 times, some are challenging, like baking 800 cookies, and some are straight up worse than a root canal, like going to the mall. My dad insists on this last one every single year. No matter what I do to try to make his shopping easier, he somehow drags me to the mall. The Old Man is not a great gift giver, but he thinks that if he goes to the mall, the world’s greatest gift will somehow find him. I have been playing this game with him for over twenty years and I have yet to see a gift fly out of a store and beat him over the head, but I am hopeful that I will be there if it ever happens.
This year he called me asking “what do you think about those glasses that let you walk down streets in New York City and see the Sistine Chapel?” My first thought was that my mom doesn’t do so well with technology, so virtual reality glasses are about as useful as a unicycle (my dad’s gift to my mom, Christmas 1971). In all fairness, he did know the name of the oculus glasses and told me all about them. At the end of his explanation I said “they are owned by Facebook? No, just no. You may as well ask me to make a purchase at Walmart. Not happening.” My husband also made a very valid argument against such a purchase. He pointed out that my mom fell in a hole without anything on her head obstructing her view. I have to admit, I have watched my mom fall down more times than I can count and have seen her knock things off tables with her purse. We have a running joke in my family about my mom running into things. I can only imagine her trying to navigate a room while thinking she is somewhere else entirely. Unfortunately, my dad had to ask “is this idea up there with the unicycle?” to which I had to inform him yes, it was.
He did have a few other ideas that were actually good, and as it turns out, I could actually order said ideas online while on the phone with him. Unfortunately my dad declined my offer to do so stating that he wanted to touch the items before purchasing them. Apparently his sense of touch is far better than his sense of sight, or judgement for that matter. I searched online until I found a local store to purchase one of the items that was not at the mall, so we drove the 11 miles to the store so my dad could manhandle the gift. After wandering through the store for 20 minutes, we were informed that the item we wished to fondle was only available online. We proceeded to the parking lot where I ordered the gift online on my phone. My dad still claims we purchased the gift at the store to keep his purchasing record clean. I’m fairly certain he believes there is a reward for the effort of shopping in person.
One of the things my mom specifically asked for was a chair. She has a queen anne recliner at their lake house that is just her size. My mom in an average size recliner looks much like Lily Tomlin as Edith Ann, but this small, stiff chair fits her just perfectly. She loves the chair, and asked for another one in a different color, which is kind of a theme for my mom. If one is good, two is better, and you can never have too many chairs. She apparently found one online for $300 and told my dad about it. Unfortunately, she may have been shopping on wish.com because we were unable to find a decent chair for twice that amount at any of the many furniture stores we perused in person (including Macy’s at THE MALL). We eventually found one that I declared too ornate, my dad declared too uncomfortable, and my mom declared too expensive, so it was clearly the perfect chair. It will arrive in 4 months. Happy Easter mom!
I thought I was free and clear after walking through more stores in a few weeks than I have in six months, but I was mistaken. On our way home from what I thought was our final trip my dad declared that he forgot all about her apple pencil. Apparently when he bought my mom her iPad two years ago he also bought her the pencil to go along with it. She tried to use it once and when it didn’t work, she set it aside for two years. My dad decided it would be a good idea to take the pencil back to the apple store at the mall to replace it. When we arrived, we were informed that this was not, in fact, a good idea at all. The security guard who stopped us at the door told us we should go home and take care of it online. I barely contained my smirk as I repeated his instructions like shopping online was a novel idea.
By the time my dad had completed his shopping, every item he purchased was being delivered. This was clearly not going to suffice, so one last trip to the mall was necessary, this time with mini-me to assist. We walked directly to a store with lots of sparkly things where the Old Man immediately pointed at the same thing he bought his wife last year and said “do you think she would like that?” to which I replied “well, she liked it last year…” The child walked him around the store pointing out the items he had already purchased and moved him directly to a display of new merchandise. If only she had been born in the 90s when he bought the same earrings two years in a row and I was too stoned to realize it. We exited the store a half hour later with gifts for my mom, including one from the child that she didn’t even have to pay for, and my kid carrying a brand new fur backpack that she also didn’t pay for (or shoplift). Apparently my father is grooming her to take over my shopping duties by bribing her with free stuff. It took him long enough to get sick of listening to my commentary while fondling mall wares. That man has a high threshold for mockery.
All in all, I think the Old Man did okay this year, as long as all of his purchases arrive on time. I don’t have any faith in the postal service since they have been holding several of my packages hostage in the vortex called “in transit” for a month now. And suddenly I am beginning to see why he likes to do all of his shopping in person. Maybe that old guy is actually onto something.
**After hearing Mariah Carey at the mall and wanting to gouge my eardrums out with a chop stick, I found it necessary to listen to some good old fashioned Christmas songs about sex changes and killing people.**
Every year I ask my daughter what she is going to ask Santa to bring her on Christmas morning. Every year I am confused by her requests. This started very early in life. The Christmas before her third birthday she asked for the Hulk. She had a major crush on the big green guy for a few months prior and wanted a 12″ plastic action figure which she then slept with and carried around for months. The following year, she asked for a Catman stuffed animal and Velma barbie doll. Both of these things took months to find and cost more money than the drum set that also arrived Christmas morning.
The nearly unattainable gift requests have continued almost every year. The problem seems to be that my kid, much like her mother, leans toward the unconventional. Last year she asked for a KISS onesie (which do not come in kids sizes), Hocus Pocus dolls (which do not exist) and a hand written note from Santa placed under her pillow (good thing she is a heavy sleeper and I can forge almost any handwriting). I’m not sure if she makes these requests to test Santa’s abilities or if she is just really high maintenance, but at this point I am almost looking forward to the day she no longer believes in the fat man.
I am guessing that day may be around the same age she gets her driver’s license. I believed in Santa for years after my peers gave up. In my defense, my dad was an elfing genius. We took off for midnight mass every Christmas Eve and when we returned home hours later, the tree was packed with gifts. I found out years later that he had some guys who helped with the gifting. I am still impressed that someone was able to get a giant gymnastics mat through the door and into the living room alone.
This year when I asked my daughter what she would be requesting for gifts she exclaimed “a grappling hook and a bullhorn!” without missing a beat. I have no idea what she plans to do with either of these items, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the grappling hook is to climb up to the roof and the bullhorn is to yell at me to bring her things while she is on the roof. Maybe I should get a second grappling hook for my inevitable rescue mission. Actually, I should probably get three so my husband can make the climb once both of his girls are stuck on the roof.
The most ridiculous part of the requests from Santa is that every single year she talks about something she wants for months and then decides she doesn’t really need it at the last minute, but really needs something else (like a KISS onesie). Every year I tell her Santa must be watching her when she receives the Harry Potter onesie she talked about all summer, so I guess it actually helps the cause. This year I was sure she wanted an enormous Harry Potter lego set. I was wrong and I don’t mind being wrong, but it would have been a lot easier to swallow four months ago when I had an additional $400 in my bank account. The good news is both bullhorns and grappling hooks are pretty cheap. But then she did what she does best and informed me that in addition to the two items she already mentioned that she was going to ask Santa for a gaming system and a dozen video games… at least it’s not a pony!
**I’m just elfing around listening to some punk rock Christmas music over here while I simultaneously shop for electronics I know nothing about and try to list a brand new lego set on eBay!!
The best part about this pandemic has been watching people try to use technology when they have no idea what they are doing. Last spring, I laughed watching a bunch of third grade kids do things like wander into the bathroom while holding their tablets or walking off in the middle of a zoom meeting because they forgot what they were doing. That was understandable, and I have to say, all of the kids who have had to navigate using technology over the last six months are going to be better for it and more skilled teenagers. Adults are a whole different story.
I am in graduate school with a bunch of people who can’t figure out zoom. Sure, everyone quickly figured out how to turn their camera off so nobody could see they were lounging around with no pants on. Unfortunately, many of the same people could not locate the mute button. In one class, 25 students were muted and one was not. The one who was not muted had an entire conversation with her boyfriend about what to get her mom for her birthday and about how she somehow got makeup all over herself while the other 25 called her out in the chat area to shut up. There has been at least one incident like this per month. I even have a professor who kept using his personal account to open zoom calls so the entire class got kicked off after a half hour. It took him a full three sessions to figure it out and half that class still can’t log in to his new link.
But by far, the best people to observe on zoom calls are older retired people who are not adept at technology but think they are. I do a lot of volunteer work, so I am often surrounded by older people trying to be helpful. One of the organizations I volunteer for provides tutoring services for elementary aged kids. Since the pandemic, we have gone online. The kids are pretty skilled at zoom and the various platforms they are using for their schoolwork. The volunteers are great at tutoring, but are lost when it comes to technology. Luckily, a bunch of college kids were recruited this fall and have been able to help out. Unfortunately, many of the volunteers who are lost online have no idea they are lost online. I knew one woman in particular was going to be a problem when we had our tutor orientation and she was confused when people were explaining how to use some of the zoom features. When people told her to click on a dropdown menu she couldn’t find it. She didn’t even understand what we meant when we told her to click something. She finally said “I don’t have a mouse. I have a tablet!” to which most of us just threw our hands up. We were trying to show her how to get the drawing feature. I finally said “Put your finger on the screen and move it.” It was similar to teaching a caveman how to use tools if the tools were made of play-doh.
After the orientation, a second orientation was scheduled to get the half dozen elderlies comfortable using their devices. Apparently, even after the second session, this woman still didn’t get it. Tutoring has been going on for a month now and she still has no idea what she is doing and rarely even makes it into the breakout rooms when the host sends her there. She spent the first 15 minutes of the last session talking to her husband about how she couldn’t sign in to zoom. She didn’t realize she was signed in and we were all watching her as she peered at her screen barking “I don’t know where it went Stan. It’s normally right here! There is no picture.” She must have been continually touching the unmute button on her screen as she poked at it since the host continued to mute her every 30 seconds the entire time.
Virtual learning has certainly been an education for everyone. All I know is next time I am having a computer problem, I am calling my kid to help instead of my husband. And, I am thinking maybe this tutoring program I am part of should make the tutoring reciprocal. First the kids can help the old folks figure out how to use their computers and tablets and then we can teach them how to do math the correct way!
**One thing I know how to do with a computer is find music. I’m listening to some new material these days.
I have had more scam calls in the past month than I have over my lifetime. And let me start by saying, I am the worst nightmare for these people. I learned from a man who made a sport out of telemarketing calls. I have been listening to my dad mess with telemarketers since I was a small child. He kept a New York Times salesman on the phone for a good ten minutes telling him how the paper would be useless in our house because the entire family was illiterate. He talked this guy’s ear off about a cousin who went all the way through school to the 10th grade and then argued that the 10th grade was the end of high school, not the 12th grade. So when telemarketers call me, I usually do my best to keep them on the line as long as possible so they can’t annoy someone else.
Last year I had a guy call and tell me they were coming to arrest me. Since at least ten reasons popped into my head for why this could be accurate, I listened. Apparently my tax preparer didn’t file my tax return, which is weird since I’m a CPA and all. He even ended up swearing at me at one point so I grabbed a whistle and blew it in the phone as hard as I could. I then proceeded to call him back repeatedly blowing the whistle until the line was finally taken off the hook. I can be a little mean if they catch me in a mood. I have told several of these idiots that I am sorry they made such bad life choices that scamming people is their only form of income or I wonder if their mothers are proud of their career choices.
A few weeks ago I got a call from my “computer’s support team” telling me there was suspicious activity on my Amazon account. I asked if I had paid extra for the support team or if my computer just came that way. Strangely, the guy did not understand sarcasm, which seems to be common with these calls. He walked me through downloading a file onto my computer to resolve the issue. I tapped on my keys pretending to follow his instructions and then finally said “okay, I’m all done. I can’t wait to see what your virus does to my computer. Oh, and by the way, I don’t have an Amazon account, but my husband does. Do you want his phone number?” All I heard in response was a click. Luckily for him, I did not have my whistle handy.
Yesterday I received another call who sounded almost identical to the amazon guy. He was also from my computer’s support team, and said I definitely had a virus. He must have heard from his buddy that I downloaded the file! He asked if I had noticed anything unusual and I said that my granny porn had been really slow to load. When he asked what my desktop looked like I told him I had no icons and asked if I should. He said everyone had icons so I must have done something to make mine disappear. I think he just wanted to know if I had any of the granny porn loaded on my desktop. Maybe that question is the scam caller’s equivalent of “what are you wearing?” When he asked me what browser I used I said the blue one because it was way faster than the red one. He still didn’t catch on that I was toying with him. We had been on the phone for at least five minutes when he told me to press the function key along with another key. I asked him what a function key was and he tried to explain as I continued to ask questions. He was trying to describe the layout of a keyboard while I was saying things like “space bar, is it a bar in outer space? I don’t understand what you mean.” He was clearly becoming exasperated so when he said “do you see the key with the Fn on it? It’s right next to the key with Ctrl on it” I almost started laughing, feeling his head ready to explode. Instead I said “OH MY GOD, that key is not there. There is a blank spot. Do you think the virus stole it?” And again, all I heard was a click.
** I knew this album was in my head for a reason. **
People have lost their minds. Bat shit crazy, lost their minds. In just a week almost every one of my family members has had an encounter with a lunatic demanding everyone step aside for them to assert their rights. Strangely, not one of these incidents was related to wearing a mask in public which is where I see most of the lunatics asserting their “rights”.
My poor husband who never bothers anyone encountered some crazy old man who told him to “fuck off” after his dog came running through the school yard. The man had intentionally let his dog off it’s leash a foot in front of the “no dogs allowed” sign at the gate of the baseball field and the dog promptly charged my husband. When the sign was pointed out to the old geezer, he went on a tirade, swearing at my husband. Unfortunately, the dogs on the playground are common even though there are multiple signs forbidding it. One man told me not to worry because his dog was nice as it knocked down my toddler. I said “listen dude, I don’t know you or your dog, but I can read and your dog isn’t allowed here, and it certainly isn’t allowed to run wild without a leash in public”. He actually had the nerve to tell me to close the gate because the dog owners didn’t want the dogs escaping. I told him a leash would prevent that. There are dog parks for a reason. I like dogs even though I am allergic to them. I just don’t like having a dog inflicted on me or my family in a public place. It’s the equivalent of me sending my kid out to play with a steak knife. You never know what’s going to happen.
Even better than a rude dude with a dog is a rude dude with a cell phone. My dad was mowing his grass and as he drove his mower up to the driveway to empty the clippings a man came walking by on his cell phone. As the man walked closer he started making shushing motions at my dad and signaling for him to turn off his lawn mower. He pointed repeatedly at his phone and put his finger to his lips in an effort to persuade my dad to be quiet. My dad just laughed (and I suspect revved the engine a few times). I wonder if this guy called the airport to ensure no planes would be flying overhead during his super important call. My dad should have driven up around him in circles asking him why he was signaling him and what the hand gestures meant. I only wish the swearing dog owner lived in my dad’s neighborhood to see what kind of entitlement face-off could have ensued.
Some things just seem like common sense to me. Like if you want to let your dog run wild, go to a dog park, or your own backyard. If you want some quiet time to talk on the phone, get in your car or stay in your house. It’s rude to cut in line (even if it is to pick up your kid from school). It’s also rude to talk on the phone in a movie theater, while a cashier is helping you, or while you are in the middle of a meal. Kids play outside, and they may make some noise. People cut their grass, build decks and remodel their kitchens which might also be loud occasionally. The world does not revolve around you. Or her. Or him. Or me.
Oh yeah, and when you do feel like you are entitled to be an asshole, remember there is always a bigger asshole out there. I told my husband I would have followed that old man home and covered his lawn in dog poop the following night. I told my dad I would have followed the shusher all the way down the street cutting every neighbor’s grass on the way and singing really loudly and off key. Sometimes people just need to have a mirror held up to them to see how obnoxious their behavior is and I don’t mind being that mirror.