More anxiety-causing than trying on a bikini – seeing if your fridge fits.

21 Aug

My fridge has been limping along in questionable health for nearly two years now. At least, that’s when I first started hearing it rev itself up like Herbie the Love Bug at odd hours of the night. And that’s right around the same time I’d periodically open the freezer to find my tray of ice cubes liquified. Probably not a great sign for refrigeration health.

While I tend to me meticulous in keeping  my place clean, I have somewhat loose standards when it comes to what I’ll test with my gut. I regularly eat products that are well past their expiration date (that’s a marketing ploy, people!), like the package of refrigerator biscuits I ate last week that allegedly went bad back in January 2013. (For the record: They were about as bad as Michael Jackson.)

[Also for the record, I just deleted a horrible pedophile joke. See - I do know how to self-censor!]

I tell you this by way of explaining how I’ve managed to rely on an unreliable refrigerator for two years. I cultivated a taste for freezer burn and began to think it was normal to scrape an inch of ice off anything before cooking it. I came to think of the sticks in popsicle bags as “stirrers” since the contents of the bag were always malformed and sometimes still liquified.

But today is a new dawn for fridge health in my house. Sometime between 10-2, the kind people from Home Depot will bring me a new appliance.

Until then, I will slowly be forming an ulcer as I check and re-check the measurements, noting that my current fridge is wedged into place so tightly that there’s literally no room to pass a piece of paper between it and the wall or the counter that serve as its boundaries. I now notice that even the baseboard has been pried from that section of the fall to slide it into place.

If my fridge were a vehicle.

If my fridge were a vehicle.

Oh, I’ve long known it was going to be a tight squeeze. In fact, that’s what prevented me from replacing it years ago. I’ve sat at my laptop multiple times, scrutinizing the dimensions of products, comparing them to the fridge in my kitchen and – like the vote counters in Florida – have walked away repeatedly, deciding it too close to call.

But finally, blindly, about three weeks ago I decided to work up my courage and just pull the trigger. So here I sit, armed with a shoehorn, a crowbar, a vat of grease and stack of twenties (for bribing/tipping the delivery guys), hoping the appliance gods are on my side today.

I have a BETTER bucket challenge for you.

19 Aug

Don't laugh - he's raising awareness.

Don’t laugh – he’s raising awareness.

I think it’s great how the Ice Bucket challenge has raised awareness of ALS. I’m glad people started clarifying that really, the thing to do is BOTH share a video of yourself getting iced AND donate to the cause.

That said, I’m kind of sick of seeing the videos in my newsfeed. With the exception of one college friend (go, Hoyt!) who attempted to re-enact his best dance moves to “Ice, Ice Baby” before getting drenched, there’s nothing really amusing about watching people (in the heat of August) suffer from a mild dousing.

I’d like to up the ante in TWO WAYS.

First, there’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart (or my belly button, if we’re speaking in literal terms) that almost no one talks about: Crohn’s Disease. Perhaps that’s because the sufferers very often shit themselves. (Though actually, I don’t know – taking a flyer on that since it seems like most of my friends over 40 like to share similar stories without even the benefit of an official diagnosis.)

Second, I think there’s a better challenge to be had. Rather than dumping ice water over your head – which looks mildly refreshing in this August heat – I propose that to raise awareness for Crohn’s, you film yourself pouring some edible and biodegradable brown mixture (pudding? chocolate sauce?) down your shorts. Because unlike the non-existent connection between ice and ALS, there is a very real connection between food and Crohn’s – and messy pants.

Finally, because we need a hashtag to help this thing go viral, I’d like to abbreviate the challenge. Instead of calling it the way-too-lengthy, “Spreading Crohn’s Awareness Together Challenge,” we’ll just go with the much more tweetable SCAT Challenge. Or #scatchallenge if you will.

So who’s on board? Send me your videos or post and tag @pithy_pants so I can see your handiwork.

I’d do it myself – but I don’t have a yard… Seriously.

(Oh – and here’s where you can read about or donate to the cause.) 

Well now, this is awkward.

3 Aug
Image Source: National Committee Against Tobacco (France)

Nasty.

When the weather’s nice, my friend B- and I often meet up to walk her dog Willow and catch up. Last week that was the plan, but the thermometer was around 90º and it was super humid, so after meeting up, we decided that the extent of our walk would just be to a neighborhood pub where we’d sit in the shade and sip a cold beverage while chatting.

We went to a place that’s been around for years and that was recently featured in the Washington Post for having a pet-friendly patio. When we got there, it was pretty empty so I headed inside to see if there was table service while B- and Willow grabbed a table. As I chatted with the bartender, a guy at the end of the bar – who looked like a Ron Howard on meth – tried to throw himself into the conversation.

Having bartended in college, I’m no stranger to the site of a regular. I know that they’re usually looking for someone new to talk with (since everyone else at the bar has heard their stories and is sick of them), so my strategy is to be polite but somewhat curt so I don’t get sucked into a conversation.

I was glad I heeded that rule because – as I grabbed my drink to head back to the patio – the guy said, “So. Are you here alone?”

Shiver.

I went outside to update B- and before she headed in to grab herself a beer, I cautioned her to not talk to the guy at the end of the bar. Of course, while she was inside getting her drink, Methy Ron came outside (presumably to smoke a cigarette) and approached Willow and me. “I love dogs,” he said,  coming toward us in a haze of smoke. “I’m a real animal person. What’s it’s name?”

(Yeah. I can tell. Sort of like how people know I’m a “baby person” when I refer to their child as “it.”)

Silently, I willed B- to hurry back. Willow must’ve agreed, because she curled herself around my chair, peeking out at him from behind my leg.

Again trying to shut things down, I said, “You’re wasting your time. She’s a rescue and she doesn’t like men. Enjoy your cigarette.”

He began pulling dog treats from his pocket. And Willow loves treats, so before B- returned to the table, my simple rejection had been ignored and Methy Ron was petting Willow as if they were old friends.

For the remainder of the evening (with the exception of a couple 15 minute stretches) he hung out near our table, sitting on the ground drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, telling stories and trying to touch Willow. Under different circumstances, I might have said, “Look, we came here to talk to each other, not you – do you mind?” but – in a Scooby Doo-like twist – it turns out he was the OWNER of the establishment (!), so if someone needed to leave, I guess it was us.

The only thing that made the interaction remotely bearable was that he was gay (or so he claimed), so at least we knew he wasn’t hitting on us. Just the dog, as it turns out, because he became obsessed with getting Willow to kiss his face. B- and I tried to continue our conversation, but it was distracting to hear him on the ground saying, “C’mon. Just a kiss. Give me a kiss…”

Then, a few minutes later, our conversation completely ground to a halt when we heard him say, “C’mon. I’ve got my tongue out – where’s yours?”

Record scratch. OK, that’s it – time to go.

In hindsight, I guess the Washington Post meant this place was “dog friendly” the same way people may say West Virginia is really “family-oriented.”

Shiver.

I would’ve made a good Boy Scout.

5 Jul
Next time... these are the underwear in the toolkit.

Next time… these are the underwear in the toolkit.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. In DC the weather was uh-mazing. As in: 80 degrees, sunny and no humidity. Very uncharacteristic of our nation’s Capital – but I’m not judging.

To avoid the crowds (which – based on the line snaking around the Washington Monument at 7am on the Fifth of July – I can assure you were huge), I decided once again to get out of the city for Independence Day and spend it instead with Alan, on his balcony and in his pool. For all you people who ask why we don’t live together, might I present the benefits of a City Home and a Suburban Home? Boom! 

Fortunately, as I was leaving my house, I remembered what a cluster it was to vacate the city on my bike last year. Realizing that the same checkpoints were likely to be in place, I altered my route and aimed for the Lincoln Memorial checkpoint. Turns out, the entire Mall was fenced off again and my intuition was on point, placing me right at the checkpoint to leave DC.

This year, the cops were really friendly (might have been the awesome weather) and there weren’t many people trying to sift through the security line to the Mall, so it was smooth sailing. I was the only person in the bike lane, so I had four cops ready to expedite my inspection. All went well as they opened my backpack, asking if I had any, “Knives, guns or other weapons” in there. Um, no.

“How about pepper spray?” the young cop asked. Nope – though that was just luck. I often do keep pepper spray in my bag in case I’m out on foot after dark. I paused for a moment, wondering if they’d just confiscate it if they found it, or if I could be in for more serious punishment. I’m woefully ignorant about pepper spray laws.

I was zipping up my bag and ready to high-five everyone for being so efficient when the officer said, “Is that a tool kit under your seat?” I nodded. “I’ll need to check that too,” he informed me.

It should’ve been no biggie to open my tool kit and show him the spare tube and wrench set I keep in there. Except, as I quickly unzipped it, a pair of clean underwear tumbled out onto the dirt path. Um…

Backstory: A few weeks earlier, Alan and I had gone for a long ride that ended at his house. When I finish riding, I’m sweaty and want nothing more than a shower and clean underwear – so I’d tossed a pair in my toolkit. However, it was such a great day that we ended up changing into bathing suits and using his pool to cool off, rather than showers – hence, I’d forgotten about the extra panties.

If you’ve never faced the prospect of your underwear lying in the dirt while an audience of four cops look on, then you might not know how you would react. In my case, I said, “I don’t have any weapons, but I DO have extra underwear. Because you never know, right?”

The cop looked embarrassed and said, “Congratulations?” It came out as a question.

“Congratulations?” I asked. “For having spare underwear in my toolkit?”

“I don’t know,” he was flustered. “I don’t know what you say to someone who has underwear in their toolkit. Good luck, maybe?”

I decided to take that. I offered a nod and rode away, hearing the chuckles of his fellow officers, presumably ready to take the piss out of him for getting so flustered over a pair of underwear.

And THAT is why you should never ask to go through a lady’s things. Ever.

Who says aging is a bad thing?

18 May
Image Source: PithyPants 2014

With Karen, left, and Rosaura, right – my college roommates!

I just returned home from a whirlwind visit to Chicago to surprise my college roommate for her 40th birthday.

Alan and I flew out Thursday afternoon and had to keep reminding each other NOT to post anything to Facebook that would accidentally reveal that we were in the Windy City prior to Saturday evening’s party. It was surprisingly difficult, which probably means I can skip any “How Narcissistic Are You?” quizzes that appear on Buzzfeed this year. (But then, isn’t that true of anyone with their own domain name?)

It started when our flight was two hours late departing. The plane’s door closed at 2:30, which was 15 minutes behind schedule. Not a big deal, until the pilot crackled over the PA system, “Well folks, the tower just informed us that we aren’t going to be able to take off for another hour or so due to some severe storms in Chicago. We’re going to have to push back because another flight needs this gate, but we’ll keep you posted.”

We ended up sitting on the tarmac at DCA for close to two hours before leaving. Passengers were remarkably calm, considering there was no beverage service offered and the air conditioning was off. Alan took a nap and had sweat running down his temples. I refrained from posting about our predicament on Facebook. It was unsatisfying.

Image Source: Terese 2014

With Terese, at Pop’s Champagne, after dinner.

We arrived in Chicago just in time to meet our friends Brian and Terese for dinner at Eataly. (We all lived in the same dorm in college 20 years ago, yet whenever we reconnect, we don’t spend much time traversing memory lane. I love friendships that evolve with time – and I love seeing a couple whose relationship has weathered the years gracefully.)

The next day, as planned, I worked from our Chicago office while Alan ventured out to explore. When we awoke to SNOW that morning, I was actually glad to know that my day would be spent at a desk/on a phone/in meetings – doing anything but being outside. (Hello, Mother Nature – it’s mid-May. Don’t you think it’s time to cut these people some slack?)

After work, we took the train to Southport, where our friends Dan and Molly live with their son Eddie. We haven’t visited them since they relocated there last July, so it was great to catch up and re-imagine them as midwesterners. Also? Eddie is now 18 months old, has a contagious grin and an awesome arm on him. He pulled out an assortment of balls shortly after we arrived and demonstrated more strength and accuracy  when throwing than I did when I played softball in seventh grade.

The next morning (Saturday, if you’re keeping track!) we met up with Alan’s mom and aunt for brunch just down the street from Dan and Molly’s house. This is VERY random, since Alan’s mom lives in Virginia. She’s driving cross country by herself to deliver a car to Alan’s brother in San Diego, and managed to time things so that she’d be passing through Chicago while we were there so we could pre-celebrate Alan’s 40th birthday together. Pretty cool, right?

After brunch, we walked to Wrigley Field, where Terese (of earlier Brian and Terese fame) had hooked us up with amazing tickets to watch the Cubs completely shut-out the Milwaukee Brewers. The weather had miraculously recovered from the day before, so we had blue skies and 60 degrees. It was a perfect day for a ballgame, and Alan’s first visit to Wrigley Field. Overall, a win. Thank you, Terese!

The Birthday Girl!

The Birthday Girl!

Finally… with these fantastic few days serving as a warm-up, we arrived at The Featured Event: Karen’s birthday party. It was great to see such a dear friend surrounded by so many people who adore her. She was absolutely glowing. It’s a good reminder for anyone who is upset about aging: The beauty that comes from decades of friendship, from knowing who you are and being confident about your place in this world trumps the effortless beauty of youth.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

Or will I? Alan just told me I look old.

As I close in on my 40th birthday later this year, I’m grateful to Karen for leading the way.

I booked my ticket to Chicago simply hoping to help a friend ring in a milestone. I returned feeling overwhelmingly fortunate for all the people who make my life so much richer than it was when I was half this age.

I’ll gladly trade wrinkles for them all.

(As long as I can post about it on Facebook along the way.)

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