Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 674: It's all meat to me


Where do you guys stand on the paper towel/rags/dishtowel issue?

I know you will all be shocked to know that SH and differ on this.

What might surprise you is how we differ.

You've met my environmental activist, "We have to use crappy, poor light quality lightbulbs because they are cheaper and consume less fossil fuel than incandescent bulbs," "We are all slaves, slaves! to the military industrial complex!" husband. The one who boycotts stores based on 1. their political contributions and 2. if he liked their stuff anyhow. The one who gives most of his share of our charitable donations to environmental causes.

He is the one who rips off a paper towel for every little spill on the floor and when he wants to dry his hands.

I am the, "But that's wasteful! Use a dishtowel/rag!" person. There are rags under the sink. I keep it stocked. Old socks, old t-shirts, and soon, old (less than eight years, which is too young for a sheet to fail if you ask me) fitted sheet that I patched but has now developed a tear in another section.

There is a drawer full of dishtowels behind the sink. I change the towel every two days or so. When I cook, I wipe my hands on the towel without washing them because it is a pain in the neck to keep turning around and washing my hands. When I am done cooking, I toss the towel into the laundry.

SH comes from an environmental activist background. Yet I am a Bad Napkin User because I use cloth napkins instead of paper. Because I line dry clothes instead of using the dryer. Yeah, I don't understand, either.

Anyhow, today is our Big Smoking Day. The day that we throw a beef tenderloin, some other beef thingie, a chicken with rosemary, garlic and lime, and bacon-wrapped jalapenos (I am NOT going to use your word for it, Gary) on the smoker because when it's 90 degrees anyhow, it takes less fuel (Mr Environmental) to get the smoker to the proper temperature.

Speaking of 90 degrees anyhow: Someone has really screwed up the Wisconsin Weather Contract, which is supposed to be that in exchange for miserable, crummy, snow and ice and cold filled winters with high heating bills, we are supposed to get gorgeous summers with no a/c required.

If I have to use a/c, then I want to live in Texas or Tennessee again. At least they don't have miserable winters. Plus there is no state income tax.

Back to the towels. As SH and I were rubbing rosemary and garlic and lime on the chicken, he pulled some paper towels to wipe his hands.

He had already wiped his hands on the dishtowel when he had bacon on them. On his hands, that is. From preparing the jalapenos. He told me that the towel was now a cooking towel and not to use it on truly clean hands.

When I asked him why he couldn't wipe his chicken hands on the already bacon contaminated towel, he said that was different. He can't get CHICKEN on the towel. That's the BACON towel. I guess you can't co-mingle bacon and chicken. And I guess conserving resources (a/c, paper) is only for other people.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 636: Job security


Me: You'd better get ready for your new wife. Think how much fun it will be to have someone who agrees with you completely! You'll say, "Those [opposite of me] people are so stupid!" And she'll say, "Yeah!"

SH: Yep.

Me: And you'll say, "I can't believe anyone would vote for [someone SH doesn't like]!" And she'll say, "Yeah!"

SH: Yep.

Me: But you'd better eat all the steak and butter and frozen custard you can right now, because she'll make you be a vegan.

SH: No.

Me: And no more tennis. It's an affectation of the middle-class bourgeoisie.

SH: No!

Me: When you ask her where your clean clothes are and why the house is so dirty, she'll snap that she is not your maid, you patriarchal imperialist sexist oppressor.

SH: Hmm.

Me: But at least she'll agree with you about politics.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 359: Where do you want to be when The End comes?


SH and I have been preparing for the apocalypse. When the End Days really do come (aren't they supposed to be here in September? and only the Good People will be assumpted and the rest of us are Left Behind - whatever - which reminds of the joke here*), SH and I will not go hungry.

Neither will my mother, as she has a fully stocked kitchen, deep freezer, garage and basement pantry.

SH and I are pikers compared to my mom, who, in addition to having enough food to keep her neighborhood from going hungry (and it's all labeled), has the organizational and command and control skills to get civilization going again. How else do you describe a woman who handled not one but six trans-oceanic moves by herself, including four with children in the house?

Back to SH and me. We went to Pittsburgh for his high school reunion and for him to scope out Wife #3, as he has discovered that reunions are a good place to pick up chicks, and, apparently, to buy groceries, as food is no longer available in Wisconsin, except at Costco, which was where we went last weekend after visiting Bonnie and Gary at their lake house.

SH loves Costco and amazon prime and has no interest in doing a cost-benefit analysis of the membership fee vs the discounts because although he rails against the military-industrial complex, he is in thrall to its benefits and feels enormous loyalty to companies.

I, the rabid capitalist and free marketeer, do not share his beliefs and think we should ignore sunk costs. Each transaction should be evaluated independently.

[SH: But we got such a good deal on the TV from Costco! We should keep being their customer!

Me: What have they done for us lately?]

SH also loves buying crappy little things displayed at the end cap and on woot. "It was a good price!" he will say, as I try to point out that 1. it is crap and 2. we do not need it.

Back to Pittsburgh. Do you know what we bought in Pittsburgh?

Cheese.

Because you just can't get cheese in Wisconsin.

We also bought Italian cookies, Italian candy, Italian sausage, dried beans, rice, guava jam, Mexican hot sauce, and crackers. Mexican peanuts, chili and lime flavors. Sea salt chocolates. Rosemary chocolates. Cayenne chocolates. Mexican Coca Cola with cane sugar.

And cheese. Fifteen pounds of PennMac cheese.

And then we carried that cheese (and the other groceries) all the way back to Milwaukee, over two days of driving through Michigan in a vain attempt to see the dunes and the shore from the road (Note to State of Michigan: If you name a road "Scenic Drive" and place it parallel to the lake, then perhaps it should have a view of THE LAKE and not just of the trees next to the road), on the coal-burning ferry from Luddington to Manitowoc, and then down the Wisconsin side of the lake to Milwaukee.

Two nights of carrying the cooler into the hotel. (See: If it takes two trips to get it in, it will take two trips to get it out.) Three days of hoping the cheese and chocolate and sausage would not melt despite being in a cooler because of the darned hottest weather in a long time, weather hot enough that I had to call my next-door neighbor to ask her to turn on the a/c for the cats, a/c we hardly use for people because 1. we are cheap and 2. our house is usually very, very good at holding in the cold.

And now we find ourselves with

1. Cheese and
2. Rice and
3. More cheese

plus

4. A gallon of olive oil and
5. four pounds of butter because it comes out to $2.35/lb, which is a good price these days - have you noticed what has been happening to dairy and bacon prices and the price of anything where corn (I spit on you, ethanol) is an input?
6. three pounds of Usinger's bacon
7. ten pounds of coffee, both decaf and caf, as I have discovered that my migraine problem all along has been caffeine and wouldn't it have been useful for my $800/hour neurologist, on my first visit, to have handed me a list of foods that I should try eliminating from my diet, one by one, to see if there was an impact on my headaches, because if I had discovered the problem was caffeine a few years ago, then I wouldn't have wasted my money and my insurance company's money on drugs that don't work for me (depakote, lyrica, lamictal) and my hair would not have spent all last summer falling out and
8. more cheese, all of which we got at Costco.

Then, just to keep things interesting, I bought 25 lbs of peaches from the peach truck that comes from Georgia to Wisconsin.

And we still don't have anything to eat for lunch.



* A man went to heaven and was being shown around by St. Peter. As they went from
cloud to cloud they came to various doors that St. Peter would open. In one room, there
was a large group rolling on the floor and speaking in tongues.

"The Pentecostals" he said.

Next was a serious ritual. "Our Jewish persuasion," he announced.

Then another ritualistic service. "Our Catholics."

At the next cloud, he didn't open the door but instead put his forefinger to his lips in
the hush motion and they both tiptoed past. Once past, the man asked,"What that was
all about?"

"Those are the [insert denomination of your choice]," he explained. "They think
they are the only ones here."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 603: It's not insurance fraud, is it?


SH: I don't want to go back to work.

Me: I don't blame you [as I myself certainly enjoy the gold-digging life of doing nothing but laundry, housecleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the cat box, yardwork and shoveling snow].

SH: I'm going to run away.

Me: From me? Or from [certain people]?

SH: I want to run away from responsibility.

Me: Then from [certain people].

SH: Yes.

Me: How are you going to do that?

SH: Maybe I can fake my death.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 492: Loud desperation


SH: Ow. It hurts.

Me: I have [the appropriate drugs].

SH: No. I suffer in silence.

Me: You do not. You suffer in loudness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chats du jour: Cats in the hat #473

Laverne used to be the cat in love with hats.






But now Shirley has decided hats are her territory.


And Laverne has moved on to suitcases.

Marriage 301, Lecture 561: Someone has to be at fault


As we are discussing something I have really screwed up and that has maybe cost us and our dear friends money. IT'S ALL MY FAULT.

SH: Yeah, I think it was your fault.

Me [miserably]: I know. I can't believe I did something that stupid.

SH: But we might still have had to pay the deposit. We just don't know.

Me: But I shouldn't have made such a mistake.

SH: Should I freak out?

Me: I don't know.

SH: I guess not. Freakouts have to be spontaneous. They can't be planned.

Monday, July 25, 2011

When engineers clash

Down at Gary's dock as Gary and SH are trying to figure out how to remove the ladder from the dock so another boat will fit or something like that.

Gary: The wind is coming from the north.

SH: No, it's from the northwest.

Gary: North.

SH: Northwest.

Gary: Maybe north-northwest.

SH: Maybe.

Gary: Wait. Let me check [as he consults the compass on his watch oh how engineers love their gadgets].

Alas, six hours later, SH cannot remember who won. But somebody did. And it was important. This would be where I would usually tell my "let's just get out the ruler" joke, but 1. this is a family blog more or less and 2. with engineers, is that really the motivation or is more of the nitpicker's desire to be precisely, accurately correct with the added benefit of proving someone else wrong?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 692: The morning after

SH: I drank too much last night.

Bonnie [of our friends Gary and Bonnie with the lake house]: Tonight, after every glass of wine we drink, we need to drink one glass of water.

SH: Instead of a shot of slivovica.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 124: The Rube Goldberg life

Here is how an engineer solves problems.

Problem 1:
Engineer and his high school friend, who majored in chemistry, biochemistry and French, so he's a bit of an academic slouch, are trying to friend each other on facebook. As they sit across from each other at their high school reunion. They can't find each other on their smartypants phones. But they will prevail! They will!

Simple solution:
Engineer's wife (me) and friend's wife (Sharon) both suggest that they just send each other an email so they have the address and then use that address later at home on the big computer to find each other. As in, go to the quick and easy solution so that they can actually talk to each other in person while they have the chance.

Engineer solution:
Key in multiple iterations of friend's name. Get frustrated that it's not working! Where is friend? Friend is doing the same thing. Ten minutes later, finally send friend request. That is not accepted until the next day. That was a good use of time.

Problem 2:
It took two trips to bring in the luggage and the cooler filled with PennMac cheese (because they don't have cheese in Wisconsin) to the hotel room in Michigan. Two suitcases, two computer bags, small cooler, large cooler. That's two trips worth of stuff to get to the fourth floor of the Doubletree to our omigosh no! poolside room. Hence, it should take two trips to remove the items from the room and get them back to the car.

Wrong.

The Engineer wants to take just one trip. ONE TRIP! Otherwise he is not really a man. If he can't move two suitcases, two computer bags, and a large cooler filled with 15 lbs of cheese, ten lbs of Parma sausage, and two lbs of Mon Amie chocolate in one trip, he will lose all street cred in the Engineer/Nerd Club of which he was a founding member.

Oh yes. Did I mention that SH and his high school friend were both

1. Big Star Wars fans
2. Expert Pac Man players
3. And SH was a key member of the bowling club

That, my friends, is the formula for total nerdiness.

Fortunately, former nerds make fabulous husbands, so it has all turned out OK.

Back to the luggage.

SH was determined to get it all out in one trip. Which meant I was involved, even though I had no such goal. My mission is usually to 1. solve the problem 2. in an easy way. If that means two trips, then two trips it will be. But SH views it as a personal failure if he cannot break the rules of the space-time continuum. He views the laws of physics much as he views the speed limit: suggestions that really apply only to other people.

I ended up pulling both suitcases and carrying my purse, my camera and my computer bag. He loaded his computer bag on top of the cooler and lifted it all up.

He might not have been able to carry that much before his intense exercise program of tennis and half-marathon training. He is looking good, I have to say.

We had Drama when my camera slipped from my shoulder and bounced onto the big pink suitcase that SH always mocks but when you are waiting for your luggage at baggage claim, would you rather be looking for a black bag or a pink one? I rest my case.

Then we had the "how do we open the doors when all four hands are occupied?" Drama. Even SH, with all his engineer tricks, couldn't solve that one. He lacks prehensile toes and I sure wasn't going to risk chipping my toenail polish, not now that I have finally gotten the color where I want it. (A combination of Strawberry Icing and Cloud 9, which yields a nice orangey-pink.)

He was forced to drop the cooler before the double doors leading to the parking lot, but he still claimed triumph. I just rolled my eyes and got out the Mon Amie sea salt chocolate bits.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 647: The Good Music


This is what most people want at a class reunion. I know, because I have talked to everyone.

Not really.

But this is what I want:

1. To see old friends

Everything else is secondary.

Of the other elements, I would order them this way:

2. Decent food.
3. Excellent music
4. Reasonably priced drinks (not for me but for my husband who likes a beer or a glass of wine and the more we spend on booze, the less there is for shoes)
5. A venue that is not too creepy. By "not too creepy," I mean, not a divey motel that smells like mildew and the toilets have rust in them and there is an air of desperation and surrender that hovers three feet off the dirty carpet.

What we got at SH's 30th high school reunion in Pittsburgh last week (aside from nice conversation with SH's high school friend Kevin and his trophy wife - I introduced myself as SH's trophy wife because that's what I am):

1. A stunningly beautiful view (the Burgh is a gorgeous town and western PA is lovely in the summer)
2. A swanky venue (country clubs are usually pretty nice)
3. Not too shabby food
4. AWFUL MUSIC

AWFUL MUSIC. AWFUL.

Let me ask you a question. If you were going to DJ a Class of '81 reunion, what music would you play?

Here's a hint: Music that was popular at that time.

Almost everyone loves the music they listened to in high school and pretty much everyone is convinced that music has just gone to heck in a handbasket since that time.

The advantage of the Class of '81's music is that music really has gone to heck in a handbasket since then, although there were a few standouts in the early and mid-80s. Who doesn't like the Go-Gos?

Second question. If you are DJing a party where there is a dance floor, what kind of music do you play?

Answer:

1. Party music
2. Dance music

Now, knowing the parameters of this discussion - time period, setting - is there any reason whatsoever to play THE DOORS? Or THE GRATEFUL DEAD?

I don't even want to hear that music when I am not at a class reunion. I definitely do not want to hear it when I want to bathe in the nostalgia of what I used to hear blaring from the back of the bus where the cool kids sat on the way to school as we crossed over the Panama Canal and watched the sun rise over the Pacific. (For indeed, that is how the sun rises in Panama.)

I do not want to hear Smoke on the Water. I do not want to hear Santana.

I want the Bee Gees. I want ABBA. I want Andy Gibb. I want the Cars. Jay Ferguson. ELO. Journey. Hot Chocolate. Earth Wind and Fire. Rod Stewart.

You get the picture.

The DJ was playing Santana. The Doors. The Grateful Dead. A lot of stoner music. I asked him to play ABBA and anything else from that era. He played "Dancing Queen," then reverted to stoner music.

Mind you, this guy was in his mid 60s and wearing a suit. Was he yearning for his soixante huiter days?

After a few minutes, SH, Kevin and I made on a napkin a list of musicians and songs that would be acceptable to us. The list included the Bee Gees, Taste of Honey, Eric Clapton and more that I can't remember.

We took the list to the DJ, who also had open on his table books showing the top 40 hits from 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981. I suggested we would like to hear what was on our list and also anything from the top 40 lists.

He took out list, nodded, and played the first song on the list. Then he played a medley from Grease.

By now, I was ready to go back outside, but felt that I had to stay for a while if the DJ was going to play what I had asked for.

After two of our songs, he played a Santana song again.

I decided I owed him nothing. Nothing. It was time to leave.

Apparently, everyone else thought the same thing. Almost everyone moved from the dining room to the patio with the now-obscured view (the $70 a person and that didn't even include a single drink view). Nobody danced. Nobody wanted to. How do you dance to stoner music?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 501: Hiding the light under a bushel


Me: I want incandescent bulbs in our bathroom. The ones here [at the home of our friends Pete and Julie, whom we were visiting] are so much nicer. I look a million times better.

SH: But we have five bulbs in our bathroom! That would be 200 watts!

Me: So?

SH: They use more energy. They cost more.

Me: Big deal. They don't make me look like crap. Besides, how much more could it be? Fifty cents a month?

SH: Fifty cents a month is six dollars a year!

Me: That's one beer unit.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 560: To Death I Drive


Me: Do you want me to drive?

SH: No. Do you want to?

Me: No.

SH: Then why do you ask?

Me: I don't want you to have to bear the burden alone.

SH: But if you drive, then I can't whine as much.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 251: King of the annoyers

SH: I am annoying.

Me: I know.

SH: And I'm proud of it! Tom [our friend who is visiting] got it right: It's not just that I am annoying, I am proud of it. I even annoy Kathy [Tom's wife]. But not that much.

Me: Why not?

SH: I don't annoy other people. It has to be someone I'm really close to.

Me: So it's me?

SH: You're my wife! You pretty much have to put with it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 390: Smarter than I look


SH: Want to talk about politics?

Me: Nope.

SH: But it's fun!

Me: Not for me. See, that's why you should be a talk show host. You could argue about politics all the time with other people who want to argue about politics.

SH: But if I can't convince you to change your positions, why would I be able to convince anyone else?

Me: Maybe I'm just too stupid.

SH: Maybe! Wait. But you married me.

Me: That's right.

SH: So are you stupid or smart?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 253: Waiting for Ever

SH: Wait! You're supposed to stand here and hold [his sports jacket and navy slacks] while I pick a shirt and tie.

Me: Nope. I'm going to hang them here [on the door] while you pick out a few options. I will render an opinion once we get to that point.

SH: You're not supposed to vacuum while I'm looking for clothes.

Me: I'm not going to stand around and wait for you.

SH: That's part of the job. You're supposed to wait on me.

Me: I didn't sign up for that.

SH: You're more concerned with efficiency than with doing the right thing.

Me: That is correct.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 668: The burdens of responsibility


SH: Why am I in charge of defrosting the freezer?

Me: Because you don't want me to be in charge. I'll be glad to do it if you'll just leave me alone.

SH: No. I just want to supervise.

Me: As in, you want to watch while I do all the work and you want to reserve the right to criticize.

SH: Yes.

I should note that this project, once started, took 67 minutes. Sixty seven minutes from the time when SH went downstairs, opened the freezer, said, "I don't think this will take all day. Let's do it now,"* unloaded the food, verified my inventory records, and went back upstairs, Dill Pickle Pringles in hand, while I, a few minutes later, went back downstairs armed with a pancake turner and a 9x13 pan, chipped off the ice, tossed it in the laundry sink, wiped out the freezer with a clean rag, and then got SH to reload the food, as I knew he wouldn't like the way I did it because he is about the pickiest, micromanaging person I have ever met.

He was very happy to cross another item off his summer chore list. How demanding I am.



* Note for the record that SH is not and has never been a "Let's do it now" person so this pretty much knocked me for a loop. He must have still been dehydrated from the stupid half marathon on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 673: To watch or not to watch

Me: Do you want to watch the rest of that movie [that we started yesterday]?

SH: Not this afternoon.

Me: Do you want to watch it tonight?

SH: I don't think so.

Me: Do you or don't you?

SH: No. I don't want watch it.

Me: That would have been useful information yesterday [when I could have watched it by myself last night].

SH: You didn't ask me.

Me: Yes I did.

SH: You didn't ask me for a definitive answer.

Me: I did ask you for an answer!

SH: You should have pressed me.

Me: So it's my fault?

SH: Yes.

Me: Hear this. This statement applies to all questions I will ask until we die. When I ask you a question, any question, I want the definitive answer.

SH: What if I say,"I don't know?"

Me: Just make up your mind already. I'll just watch it tonight.

SH: But - you would watch it by yourself?

Me: Yes! It's due tomorrow.

SH: If you're going to watch it tonight, I might watch it with you.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 675: Which is why I don't have a six pack


SH: You don't need this [card from the hotel where we left the car the other night] any more.

Me: Nope.

SH: Unless that's where you meet your boyfriend.

Me: Nope.

SH: Wait. When do you see him? You are never gone when I'm at home. I haven't been traveling recently.

Me: Do I really look like I spend time at the gym every day? I'm not home then.

SH: Hmm. You do have some muscle tone. But it's under your Milwaukee Roll.

Me: See? I tell you I'm going to the gym. But I'm not. My secret is out.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 665: Goldbricking


Me: Ouch! I think I pulled that muscle [in my leg] again.

SH: It's all part of your plot.

Me: My plot?

SH: To get out of running the race. [The stupid Summerfest half marathon I wish I had never signed up for.]

Me: That's part of the plan. But I don't want to be injured so much that I can't play tennis. So I have to be balanced.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 226: A nice evening drive


Wednesday night, the house phone rang at 12:22 a.m. And then again at 12:23 a.m.

I don't answer the house phone. That's SH's line that he uses for work. His friends call him on his cellphone. Work, telemarketers and politicians who have exempted themselves from the Do Not Call list aren't we glad they are so considerate as to allow us to receive their robocalls? call the house phone.

The ringing woke me. I thought, Crap who on earth calls at 12:22 a.m.? Is someone dead? Well they'll still be dead in the morning so why the heck are they calling me now? Can't a person get some sleep?

The phone didn't stop. Then my cellphone rang.

That, I pay attention to. SH was out at Summerfest. What if he was dead? Only if he were dead, he wouldn't be calling, would he? But he could be unconscious by the side of the road and a cop could have dialed his cellphone. I wonder how I am listed on SH's cellphone. Is it obvious that I am the person to call? Need to check on that.

I got up. Found my phone, which is never so easy 1. in the middle of the night 2. in the dark. Answered. It was SH.

His old car - his '65 Corvair that usually sits in the garage and looks good but is rarely driven because what if something happened to it? - it fail. The headlights had ceased to work. Which is not a huge problem compared to having a bad starter or a broken drive belt (always replace your drive belt when you replace your water pump and vice versa because the part is about five cents and the labor to get to these two items, which are reached together, is about a gajillion dollars), but is a problem when one wants to drive after midnight any place south of the North Pole, even in the middle of summer.

His plan was for me to drive downtown and escort him to a ten-hour parking meter, for which I was supposed to bring a gross of quarters only he forgot to tell me until I was with him, then return today to pick up the car in daylight.

OK. This is one of the hazards of being a (mostly) one-car family. Technically, we are a two-car family, but the Corvair cannot be legally driven in January (condition of the antique license tags), not that SH would ever let his baby out in the snow and salt. Usually, having only one car between the two of us is not an issue, as SH works from home. When he travels, I drop him off at the airport. On the rare occasions in the summer when we have a conflict - I had a meeting at city hall right after my tennis class, he wanted to go to Summerfest early, he takes the Corvair.

But the Corvair refused to cooperate.

I got dressed, drove downtown, found SH. He was parked right across from a hotel. Which had a parking lot.

"Why not leave the car in the hotel parking lot rather than driving it three blocks to ten hour parking?" I asked.

SH rolled his eyes. "You want me to go ask them?" Because asking is the worst thing you can ever suggest that a man do. Ask someone something? That implies that the asker is an idiot for sure!

I have no problems with being thought an idiot. I am the one who will mime the words I don't know in French to accompany my horribly-accented French. SH had 30 hours of college French, but is reluctant to speak it unless he can say everything perfectly. Which means when we travel to a French-speaking place (doesn't that make us sound like the international jetsetters that we are!), I do the talking.

"I'll ask," I said, and marched across the street and through the parking lot to the lobby.

There was a sign on the door stating that parking was by permit only.

That sign unduly influenced me.

Not that I think a different approach would have made any difference.

It was 1:08 a.m. I had not washed the Retin-A from my face. Yes, it is invisible, but not washing face = no makeup, oily, blotchy, 47 year old wrinkles etc. My post-tennis class hair was yanked back in a ponytail. I had taken half a vicodin in an attempt to chase away an incipient headache. All it had done was give me puffy eyes. I still had the almost-headache. I looked so good.

The desk clerk was about 24 and balding with a greasy combover. His suit was three sizes too big. He was distracted by the lush and scarcely dressed young things behind me who were happily buzzed from their Summerfest mandatory beer consumption.

My original plan was to ask to park the car for free, throwing myself on his mercy that I had had to get out of bed to rescue my husband. Maybe flirting a bit.

But I was the wrong age.

I needed to be 25 years older or 25 years younger. Younger, I could have flirted with him. Older, I could have reminded him of his grandmother.

As me, I was just a middle-aged lady who might or might not have reminded him of his mother and maybe he doesn't like his mother.

So when I asked how much it would cost to park overnight, hoping he would tell me Oh park free poor woman who was pulled out of her slumber at midnight! I did not get the answer for which I had hoped. Even if I had asked if I could park for free, I doubt he would have let me.

Too old. Too young. Too middle aged to get free parking.

Instead, he chirped "Eleven fifty!" as he ran his hand through his thinning greasy hair and smiled past me at the three young, slightly inebriated, scantily clad women standing behind me, who giggled as they asked him where one could order pizza.

I sighed, pulled out my American Express, and held it in front of him, waiting for his attention to wander back my way. I wanted to slap his mother who had created in him an indifference to the plight of thrifty middle aged women who are yanked out of bed in the middle of the night.

He took the card without losing eye contact with the three women once. I was invisible. The computer wouldn't do what he told it to do, so he used the chance to make a joke about machines taking over the world to impress the women. He was reaching. Pretty young women have to be fairly drunk to be impressed by a 1. night clerk at a hotel who 2. is making techie jokes. Blesshisheart.

We finally completed our transaction. His hope sprang eternal. Good luck to him.

SH parked the car in the hotel lot. We drove home. Went to bed. I couldn't sleep. SH slept until 11:00. We had to retrieve the car by 2:00. At 1:00, I started suggesting that we might want to think about getting the car, even though it is only a 10-15 minute drive under ideal conditions.

SH demurred. He was in no rush.

SH: We don't have to get the car until 2:00.

Me: Is there a reason we can't get there before 2:00?

SH: We might as well get our money's worth.

That made me feel better: that the $11.50 and my sleep-shorted night had all been worthwhile. We got all the parking we paid for.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 629: You say extravagant, I say, "How much did you spend on wine last year?"


Me: You know, if you eat the rest of the cookies in the ziplock bag in the fridge, you don't have to leave the bag in the fridge.

SH: But I thought I might use it again for more cookies. And this way I could just not wash it.

May I note for the record that SH will use paper towels instead of rags to wipe water off the floor and has 300+ bottles of beer in the basement, but heaven forbid we lose the use of a sandwich bag (although I do wash and re-use the durable ziplocks because why not? if all they've held is lettuce or cheese, they have not been challenged) or that I throw out the trash before the can is completely stuffed full because I AM WASTING TRASH BAGS THAT COST 1.5 CENTS APIECE!

Marriage 301, Lecture 669: Buy nice or buy twice


SH: You know what?

Me: What?

SH: Shampoo that you get at Menards for free after the rebate really isn't very high quality.

Me: That's a big surprise. We've had so much success with other free after rebate products there, like those awful sticky rollers [that sort of remove cat hair from our clothes, our friends' clothes, and the bedspread - not that there is any connection between those three items other than the cats and their hair]. Maybe you should just use the golddigger shampoo.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 157: To whine or not to whine


SH: I've got some - chafing. [From running 8.5 miles and then playing tennis for 1.5 hours.]

Me: I do have a solution.

SH: What?

Me: But you might not like it.

SH: What is it?

Me: Diaper rash ointment.

SH: No! I'm not doing that.

Me: It works. It's what I do.

SH: That's not manly. I'm not doing it. I'm tough.

Me: Oh yeah. So tough.

SH: I'm allowed to whine. I can be tough and whine.

Me: No. You can't.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 260: One man's lazy is another woman's When Are You Going To Do The Chores?


SH: You're nagging me about being lazy!

Me: No I'm not. You brought it up when you said you were being lazy. All I did was ask when the Lazy Time is going to end.

SH: Don't nag.

Me: OK. I won't. Especially because you promised that you would do the things [on the chore list] that we agreed on before your sabbatical is over.

SH: I haven't agreed to them yet.

Me: I know. But you promised that once you agreed, you would do them. Is there anything on that list you find morally objectionable?

SH: I don't think "throw out crap in the basement" is specific enough. If you want me to throw away everything that will ever be thrown away, it probably won't happen this summer.*

Me: [Rats.]

SH: But I also don't suppose I can get away with just throwing away one box,** either.

Me: I would prefer not.




* I have to admit SH is not as hoarder-ish as some other people he knows and for whom he spent ten days cleaning out their house. He is not as hoarder-ish as the neighbor who died intestate without heirs last September and whose house is still jam packed with crap, including bars and bars of new soap in the dressers.

** The box of receipts for his stepdaughter's college tuition? In case someone else in her life wants to help pay for the degree she got 12 years ago? The 1997 phone bills? The silly hats? The tapered leg jeans that SH says might come back into style again (sadly, he is probably right) and that he says look good on him (no, he is wrong about this - nobody looks good in tapered leg jeans).

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 528: Because we live in a museum


SH: Look at these cool retro coasters I got at the Pabst Brewery tour!

Me: Those are great. And they're paper! They'll absorb water!

SH: Uh huh.

Me: No! Do you know how long I have been looking for coasters that don't repel water? What is the point of a coaster that sheds the water onto the table? These are perfect.

SH: We're not going to USE these!

Me: Why not?

SH: They're not for USING!

Me: What are they for, then?

SH: To keep. Pristine.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The moral of the story is to buy more expensive sheets


This was going to be a post about how after a total cost of ownership analysis, it is perfectly clear that regular pedicures are cheaper in the long run than buying new sheets, sheets that have been worn thin at just one spot by my gnarly, unpedicured heels and that tore last night when my foot got caught in the tiny starter tear that appeared after I laundered the sheets on Thursday, a tear that I wanted to blame on Laverne lunging at the sheets with her clipped claws as she protected the yard from invaders while the sheets dried on the line but couldn't blame on her because that cat can't even kill a chipmunk all the way. I can't see her slashing sheets.

It was the feet. Had to be the feet.

At last! I thought. Vindication for the gold-digging life I want to live! There is a financial benefit to frequent professional foot and toe care!

And then I did the math.

Even going to the beauty school once a month is more than buying new sheets twice a year:

Beauty school
Parking $2
Pedicure $12
Tip $3
Total $17

Sheets $40 on sale

If math is hard for you, I will skip to the end:

Twelve pedicures a year cost a lot more than one set of sheets. And we use our sheets for more than a year.

Don't judge me. Well, do. But only if all your linens are perfect. And be funny about it.

In a related story, when SH suggested we just buy new sheets (what?! we just bought two new lampshades and a new bath mat! are we made of money in this house?), I told him don't be silly I can repair this but you have to promise not to interfere or micromanage in any way.

I think I have mentioned that SH is on sabbatical this summer which means he is home really all the time instead of just most of the time as he usually is with working at home. Now

he is home + not working = he is bored

and wants to supervise how I do the things that I do that I have been doing just fine since we got married and as a matter of fact just darn fine since I started living on my own at the age of 20 which was almost three decades ago thank you very much.

I already know how to 1. wash dishes 2. wash a floor 3. do laundry 4. cut the grass 5. take out the trash and 6. etc etc etc. I do not need helpful suggestions from the peanut gallery although if he is willing to take over certain activities, I am more than willing to surrender responsibility. I don't care how something gets done as long as it gets done.

Usually, the way something like this works is I just wait until he goes on a business trip and then I set myself to the task at hand, which becomes a fait accompli upon his return. Painting the bathroom, getting shelves for the basement, etc.

But this project could not be delayed unless I wanted the sheet to be in ribbons. Which meant I had to head him off at the pass with a promise to stay out of it. I already knew I wasn't willing to cut up a pillowcase to patch the sheet - talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face - and I knew that he would get all "Oh no. Oh no! OH NO!" if he knew I was going to use a patch that didn't match the sheet.

The Song of Something Bad Happened

Because interior design and fashion are SH's life.

After I extracted the promise from him, I hauled out the sewing equipment and did the necessary. He looked at the finished product, rolled his eyes, and informed me that the patch would have to go on my side by my feet and not on his side by his head because he didn't want anyone to see it.

As in, there are so many people besides us who see the unmade bed?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Marriage 301, Lecture 265: Keeping a clean house


Me: I do not want to talk about this [highly charged political] issue.

SH: OK. Then let's talk about [this other highly charged political issue].

Me: Nope. I'll go vacuum.

SH: You already vacuumed.

Me: I'll do it again.

SH: You'd vacuum just to get away from me?

Me: Yes.