Archive | November, 2012

What’s the definition of a pet?

30 Nov
Pretty much.

Pretty much.

Last week, driving to Thanksgiving, we had Alan’s kids in the back of the car. They’re close in age and both under 10, so their primary goal in life these days seems to be to irritate the living shit out of each other. At least when they’re in the car.

As a result, we try to distract them by asking questions to force a conversation. During this particular drive, Alan asked, “So, how many pets do you guys currently have at home?”

At the same time, his daughter said, “One,” and his son said, “None.”

“So which is it?” he asked.

They started a verbal tug-of-war between One and None. Alan threw up his hand, “Hang on. Let’s figure this out.”

Then he asked his daughter, “Who do you consider a pet?”

To which she quickly replied, “Ladybug.”

His son, outraged, jumped in. “Ladybug is NOT a pet. It’s an insect.”

Now THIS definitely counts as a pet.

Now THIS definitely counts as a pet.

This launched another argument, so Alan hopped back in. “Whoa! There are a few simple questions that will help us determine if Ladybug is a pet. First: would it be in your house if you hadn’t deliberately brought it in?”

Yes: Ladybug was brought into the house.

“OK,” he continued. “Do you feed it?”

Yes: Leaves, a few times a week.

“And last question, does it have a name?”

Yes: Spotty.

“Well,” Alan scratched his chin. “Sounds like it’s a pet.”

His son, not accepting the verdict said, “But it doesn’t have any personality!”

To which his daughter replied, “Does too!”

Then after a minute, she added, “You just don’t hang out with it enough.”

Fair enough.

Your house is as crazy as you are.

26 Nov

…yeah, shit that works.

Flying back from Boston last week, a couple with his-and-hers corderoy pants were seated next to me. As if that didn’t effectively convey the “crunchy vibe” they were going for, when they shuffled into their seats, I was practically forced to claw my nose off my face as I surmised that the guy used one of those “natural crystals” in lieu of deoderant.

Unless you grow jasmine in your armpits, please don’t use natural anything when it comes to combatting body odor.

I tell you this to explain that I may have been prematurely soured on them. I spent the next hour staring straight ahead, watching them out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out what their deal was.

As soon as they took their seats, they both began sketching on pads. From their conversation, I gathered they were designing a house. It struck me as odd, because the guy appeared to be in his 40s, and the woman looked like someone recently out of college. Father/daughter? Professor/student? Husband/wife?

How I felt.

I didn’t need to wait long to eliminate at least two of those options. As soon as they were told to put their tray tables away, they held hands. But to say they held hands would be to underrepresent what was occurring. It was a non-stop flurry of hand-holding. If it were an Olympic event, they might’ve medaled for effort, but not for style. It made me want to reach over and kneel on their collective arm and put a seatbelt on it.

Even with the handicap of each only having one arm to work with, they managed to continue sketching. From their dialogue, I couldn’t tell if they actually had a plot of land they were designing a home for, or if this was an inflight-activity designed to keep their minds off crashing, or if they were just bat-shit crazy. Their sentences would range from rational and intelligent, to plain stupid.


Him: So if we orient the house toward the stream, we should get great natural light on the porch in the evening and strong morning light in the kitchen. Is that what you’re thinking?

Her: That’s perfect. I’m going to make this entire wall cabinets. And then the sink will go here, under the window.

Him: Looks good. Where are you putting the stairs to the upper level?

Her: I thought we could do a rope ladder.

(Me, silently: A rope ladder? What is this, a TREE house?)

Him: That would be cool. 

Her: Right here. It will save space and be fun.

(Me, silently: Wait? He didn’t even call you on that bullshit?)

Him: I don’t see any closets. Where are you going to put clothes?

Her: Hooks and shelves.

Him: Hooks and shelves? What about your shoes?

Her: They’ll go in the mud room. Can I have a mud room?

(Me, silently: She has to ask permission for things? I want to smack them both.)

Him: Sure. So shoes will go in the mud room? Where – on the floor?

Her: Hooks and shelves. Hooks and shelves.

(Me, silently: What is this, kindergarten? No closets? Again, not practical.)

Him:  Got it. What about the fridge? You don’t have a place for it.

Her: Hmm. Maybe the basement? Can I have a basement?

(Me, silently: Again with the permission! And seriously? Was the kitchen too obvious for the fridge?)

Him: Sure. You can have a basement. You’ll probably want to put the water heater, furnace and other things down there though, so don’t use it all for living space.

Her: Great. I’ll put the fridge in the kitchen. (Thank God!) It’ll go under the counter. (What?) With the freezer next to it. (Huh?) And a dishwasher next to that. Can I put a fireplace in?

Him: Sure. You can have two flues off the same chimney, so you can add one without a problem.

(Me, silently: Wait. This place already HAS a fireplace? Does that mean it exists?) 

Do you understand now? They were crazy! I wanted to reach over and snap their pencils in half and tell them to do something useful. Fortunately, I was able to redirect my ire because at this point (ten minutes in the air) the woman unbuckled her seatbelt and announced she needed to use the restroom.

SERIOUSLY. We JUST took off and we will be on the ground in 50 minutes. You can’t hold it?

Wait. So you like rope ladders? Then let me show you how to get to the bathroom…


Flossing: The Saga Continues

21 Nov

I know. It’s Turkey Eve and I should be writing some profound post about everything I’m grateful for for which I’m grateful. (Note to self: add “good grammar” to that list!) 

Oh, don’t worry, I’m not going to rain on the season – I’m practically rolling in gratitude over here. In fact, my friend Margaret and I have been wrapping up each day by texting each other three things that make the gratitude list. Sometimes it’s quite serious, like “the health of my family” and other times it’s more of a stretch, like when I gave thanks for working from home so I could see what it looks like when a toilet flushes through my vent fan.

Before you get high and mighty, I’d like to remind you: this is NOT the season of judgment. It’s all still sincere gratitude, even if some of it’s perhaps a bit back-handed.

Note to self: Trademark “back-handed gratitude” and start a blog with ironic thank you notes.

Anyway, I’m not writing about Thanksgiving because I have something more timely to tell you about: My Dentist Appointment.

Ah yes, the dentist. If you’ve read pithypants for any amount of time, you know I have a bit of a flossing issue, and it’s forced me to become something of a liar when I visit the dentist. (Not ringing any bells? Check out this post. Or this one. Or even this one. Maybe the better term is “chronic liar.”)

This time, however, I thought I had my story down PAT. I’m taking nine pills a day to reduce inflammation from my immune system attacking my intestines. Can’t we suppose my gums might be a bit puffy as a result? Regardless of my flossing regimen? I mean, my mouth is kind of part of my digestive tract, is it not?

So I walked in, all cocky, ready to roll my eyes when the flossing lecture commenced.

I should have known. Dentists are like brilliant criminals. They’re unpredictable.

This time, instead of chastising me for flossing, my hygienist took another approach. “I just got back from some continuing education classes,” she began. “Do you know what works?”

I grunted since her hands were in my mouth. I intended my grunt to express, “What are you talking about? WHAT works? For WHAT?” But apparently she interpreted it as, “No! Do tell!” because she continued without letting me speak.

“Medical tape,” she explained. “The kind you can pick up in the pharmacy, from the bandage aisle? I don’t have sleep apnea or anything, but it gets the job done.”

My head was reeling. What the hell was she talking about? Then it clicked: Breath-right strips! She had just discovered how to open her nostrils at night. But she was using some DIY kit to achieve the same goal.

But before I could settled into this theory, she threw me for a loop. “Yep. Just put a piece of tape over your mouth before you go to sleep. Just regular medical tape. Like what you’d use to set a finger. Put it across your mouth from top to bottom to hold it shut.”

Holiday gift for my hygienist?

I’m pretty sure my eyebrows frowned in a WHAT YOU TALKIN’ ‘BOUT, WILLIS  kind of way. But because she wasn’t really listening, she continued. “You can place another piece across it, to form an X if you’re worried it won’t be strong enough. It really works.”

I must’ve been scowling fiercely enough that she finally understood me, because she elaborated, “For the mouth breathing? Right?”

WAIT. You couldn’t remember that I prefer cinnamon toothpaste to mint, but you immediately think of me as a mouth-breather upon sight?

Also? You didn’t think the appropriate solution was to try to get me to breathe better through my nose? You went straight to pinning my mouth shut? What if I have a deviated septum or something? What if I CAN’T breathe through my nose? Are you trying to kill me, lady???

About that time, I started to look around nervously, eyeing the sharp dental tools. Was it really safe for this lady to essentially be armed with ice picks? What kind of screening process did they use around here? Did they know she tapes her mouth shut and looks like Frankenstein when she’s not in the office?

Or maybe that’s part of the master plan. Perhaps after they’ve busted a person in three lies, they decide it’s time for emotional waterboarding?

In any case, it beats flossing. So… I guess I’m good for another six months.

So you thought YOUR Monday was bad?

16 Nov

I was working from home, sitting in the living room, immersed in a project on my laptop. Curiously, down the hall it suddenly sounded like my shower was running. But with much more water pressure than usual.

After a split second pause in which my thought bubble would’ve said, “Does. Not. Compute,” I hopped up, ran down the hall and turned on the light – just in time to see water pouring through my bathroom fan and on to my toilet. Um.

I raced upstairs and pounded on my neighbor’s (of Mr. Stompy fame) door. As soon as he saw me he said, “We have it under control,” before I could even tell him I had water coming through my ceiling. Then he said, “I’ll be right down.”

I nodded and left. [When telling Alan this story he suggested that I should’ve said, “Control? Your definition of control involves water pouring through my fan? I think we need to revisit your grasp of the word.”]

When I got back downstairs, I was glad to see that the flow had reduced to a trickle, so I started mopping up the water. But although it was clear, it had a certain, suspicious eau de parfum to it that made me think of sewage.

When this dawned on me, I froze and stared at my hands, simultaneously kicking myself for not being the type of person to use yellow rubber cleaning gloves and wondering how scalding I’d have to make the water to feel my hands had been adequately cleaned. About this time, there was a knock on my door.

I opened it and my neighbor came in. “Let me see what’s happening,” he asked, moving  toward my bathroom without waiting for an invitation. “So what happened,” he explained, “Is that Jude clogged the toilet. But he doesn’t understand how things work – I’m the fixer in this relationship – so he freaked out and tried to plunge it but then flushed before it had worked.”

I stared up in horror. “So this is an overflowed toilet?”

Michael nodded, taking it in stride. “Yeah. We just need to give it a minute and let it go back down before we plunge it. This toilet is so finicky. I could flush a BRICK down my other one – and sometimes I practically do – but this one? Not a chance!”

I was still looking at the ceiling, trying to understand how something overflowed so dramatically into my bathroom. And trying to process that I had, in fact, been sopping up my neighbor’s fecal water.

Apparently Michael thought I was staring at the ceiling because of the incessant squeaking come from the floorboards. “I need to get back up there – I can hear Jude pacing,” he gestured. “This has him really upset.”

Really upset? Upset that he doesn’t know how to work a plunger? Or upset that he essentially took a shit in my bathroom? Because I’d be willing to let him feel better if he wants to come down and scrub this joint.

Call me Edison. Thomas Edison.

11 Nov

I’ve come up with another invention that is genius. I just don’t know how large the audience is for it, so I’m not going to waste any time developing prototypes until I do a bit of market research. By which I mean: writing this post and seeing if anyone says, “Dude. I NEED one of those.”

So here’s the invention: A garbage disposal for your bathtub.

Admittedly, I first came up with this idea many, MANY years ago when I witnessed someone barfing in a bathtub. Initially I cringed when I thought of the clean up, and then – problem solver that I am – a lightbulb went off above my head and I thought: If only bathtubs had garbage disposals.

Imagine a world where the switch next to the tub was NOT for jacuzzi jets, but instead a disposal. Tempting, no?

Perhaps you’re struggling to see the application for any audience other than the drunken college crowd. Then clearly you haven’t used a luxurious bath bomb lately.

Bath bombs – if you’re unfamiliar – look like snowballs. Except they’re made of powdered bubble bath and they typically fizz and make your water smell nice when you drop them in a bathtub.

They’re fabulous. Except that the makers like to press things – like flower petals or grass – into them. I mean, it looks pretty, and it’s really quite novel to be taking a lemongrass soak surrounded by grass – or a rose water infusion that swims in rose petals.

But when I drain the water, it looks like I just hosed off the pruning shears in the bathtub. This, my friends, is the moment when a bathtub disposal would come in handy.

Am I onto something? Is this the next Big Thing in home design? Like wine fridges, warming drawers and soft-close drawer glides were 10 years ago?

Or am I – yet again – simply ahead of my time? It’s all right – you can tell me I’m a visionary. I won’t be offended.