No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

It was Thanksgiving weekend 2009, a typical 75 degrees, and I was sitting on the front porch in my pajamas watching a very little Riley and Aidan ride their bikes in the driveway. A man in his early 60s got out of his car and stopped at the edge of our driveway. He explained that he had grown up in the house. Could he come up and speak to me?

Against type, I said sure. He was polite, well dressed and groomed. 

We spoke for probably 30 minutes. He knew everything about the house, including the location of strange knots in the dining room wood paneling that I came to find out were the result of him and his brother shooting each other in the house with BB guns. Side note; we have extensively remodeled and the 1950’s wood paneling is thankfully gone.

I also learned and confirmed later that he had held a top spot at one of our country’s security agencies. I decline to mention which one because I don’t want to disappear in case he ever reads this story. 

Dave was home so I invited him inside to look around. He was excited to walk around and regale us with stories of his childhood. He also answered the mystery of why our entire backyard had been poured with concrete; his parents moved from Minnesota and they refused to believe that grass would be able to grow year round.

As he was leaving, he commented on our majestic orange tree, recalling the juicy sweetness and the miraculous annual abundance of the fruit. I told him to wait a second, ran inside, grabbed a grocery bag and filled it high for him. When I handed him the bag, he had tears in his eyes. He was going to see his mom who was in a home. He was sure this would bring her tremendous joy.

I told him to stop by anytime. I never saw him again.

Last week a letter came hand-addressed to the man in old people’s scribble. Generally I relish throwing out mail addressed to previous owners who should have notified their annuity issuers of their new address 20 years ago. But this was different. For starters, I liked this guy. Also, we had never received anything for him or his family confirming my belief that they were responsible individuals that took care of their shit. 

So I scoured the googler and I was able to figure out his current employer but there wasn’t an email for him. I puzzled out what I thought it would be only to have my email bounce. In a last ditch effort, I asked Dave to check Linked In and see if he could track him down and get an address. Success! Sort of.

Dave and the man have been corresponding all morning and we do have an address to forward the letter to. But the man had a request.

Can he sprinkle his dead mother’s ashes under my orange tree. Record screeches.

For those of you immediately horrified, thank you. For those of you who are sentimental assholes let me paint a picture.

I do not not want to be eating the nutrients of a decrepit old woman when my oranges bloom next fall.

I do not wish to invite a poltergeist into my home.

I do not want to spar with an angry spector as to who is the rightful mistress of this manor.

I’m fairly certain that the return gift for a bag of oranges is not your dead mother. 

I look forward to clearing my name after my impending investigation for some trumped up international conspiracy charges and perhaps an IRS audit. 

I Know How I’m Going To Die And It’s Not From COVID

It’s a blessing and curse. I love competition.

Well in truth, I loathe competition. I love to win. So naturally I gravitate towards activities I’m good at. So many to choose from!

So why do I love the Peloton? I am not built to ride. I consider myself to be at a huge disadvantage because of my size. It’s physics. I simply cannot exert enough downward force at large resistance to produce the output numbers needed to sit atop the leaderboard. 

It doesn’t stop me from creating imaginary matchups. In order to even the playing field a bit, I limit my ride view to women in their 40s currently participating in my same ride. In every ride, I have 3 enemies. 

The first is the woman right ahead of me. I believe she knows I’m there watching her and plotting her demise. I keep in close range, waiting for her to burnout trying to protect her lead. It’s most satisfying if she’s about 30 seconds ahead of me in the program. That way I time my final push until right before she ends her program so that she knows I passed her just as her time runs out with no way to redeem herself. Enjoy your day @siouxie from Iowa!

The next opponent is the chick behind me. I see you @milfof4 gunning for me. You’ll get close, within 2 points. But I know you lack strategy. You’ll exert too much energy too soon and you still can’t close the gap. You’ll be left exhausted and demoralized and I’ll end up smoking you by 8 kilojoules. I may even send you a little virtual high five. You know, for good sportsmanship. 

The most destructive opponent I have is my own Personal Record. It sits there in mocking parenthesis next to my name and marks to the actual time ridden. Most days I slip further and further behind the elusive pace until it is unreachable. What did I eat that day? What time of day did I ride? Was I heavily cross training or was it after many days off? Shouldn’t I be stronger and faster each time? 

Even worse is the days I do set a new PR. The finish line keeps moving. This is a game I can never win.

The fresh faced deputy walks in. And promptly vomits.

My twisted body hangs from my cycling shoes still clipped in. I’m not even tall enough to have hit my head on the ground when I collapsed. My knee joints have popped and sinewy cartilage and tendons are exposed like half eaten Buffalo Wild Wings.

The weathered Coroner, 35 years on the job turns, laughs and asks, “What, no ranch?”.

My phone dings in the corner. It’s the Peleton app. Congratulations! You’ve hit a new Personal Record.

I Invented Diet Coke

I invented Diet Coke. No really, I did.

I was with my soon-to-be stepdad, then-to-be adoptive father, but that’s a story for another day. It was the summer of 1980 and I was 8 years old. He was walking me up to the grill that bordered the pool at our swim and tennis club. The ordering window was high up and in deference to the pixie sized clientele, 3 large, boxed shaped steps covered in cheap carpet stood square in front of the opening. I’d climb on up and almost always order the same thing; a cheeseburger, a Cactus Cooler and for dessert, a half of a cantaloupe filled with lemonade.

I know you have many questions about this order, namely why would an 8 year old consider fruit a dessert. I can only tell you that I was the victim of a persistent and effective brain washing campaign. My husband jokes that given the choice between a brussel sprout and a piece of candy, I would choose the brussel sprout. He’s right. As for the lemonade in the middle, I don’t know what culinary genius introduced me to that palate pleaser, but I highly recommend you try it.

I know you want to hear about Diet Coke but a few more thoughts are flooding back to me. Namely, a cheeseburger outside on a hot day kinda sucks. I remember opening the foil and a wave of steam rising up and enveloping my warm, slightly sunburned face, sticky with layers of sunscreen mixed with chlorine and other delectable molecules contracted from a public pool.  Starving, I would quickly take a bite and the scalding grease would drip down my chin. The ketchup on the burger would have had just enough time to heat up and burn my tongue. I’d take a swig of the Cactus Cooler, perhaps the finest soda in the land, but it wasn’t quite cold enough and the carbon dioxide bubbles would expand in my throat and get stuck above the blob of meat and cheese and bun. And yet, if given the choice for my Last Meal, this would be in high consideration.

Back to my invention…

We walked in silence from the chaise lounges to the grill. I was considering my order. Maybe I’d mix it up a bit. Sometimes I’d substitute a scoop of chicken salad with 1000 Island dressing on the side. The kind that’s so thick with corn syrup and pickle chunks that it has to be poured from an oversized syrup dispenser and clipped off by the sliding metal cover snapping back into place. And for the drink? No distraction there but I did have a fleeting thought that escaped my lips.

“Hey, how come there’s Diet Pepsi, but there’s no Diet Coke?” His retort came sharply, “what do you think Tab is, Stupid?”

Two years later, Diet Coke hit the market. Just the right amount of time for some zealous young Coca-Cola exec to have overheard my idea, pitch it, formulate it through R&D and bring it to market. “Just for the taste of it.” You know, because we already have Tab.

I’ve been back to the club in recent years and the carpeted steps are gone. Some dumbass kid probably fell and the club was sued. Now that’s stupid.

Tinkle Sprinkle Wrinkle

I never use a toilet seat cover in a public restroom. Hear me out.

They are impossible to straighten and place on the seat without being sucked into the bowl. This design defect is compounded by the self flushing toilets that fail to heat-sense my freezing bare ass and therefore flush immediately. And they don’t do a goddamn thing to protect you from the filth partying on the seat.

Fortunately, I am a champion squatter. I have scientifically determined the exact depth I have to maintain in order to hit the target but avoid contracting jumping potty bugs. At times, a few drops may drift off course, depending on A/C draft. But I am willing to accept the consequences of my miscalculation and wipe the errant dribbles away for the next user.

However, I do have a dilemma. What do I do about the last customer who lacks the benefit of my sophisticated targeting system AND is a slob that doesn’t clean up after herself?

If I exit the stall and it is immediately reoccupied, the new tenant will think it was me. I realize I don’t know this person and certainly I am stealthy enough to wash my hands quickly and disappear into the crowd. But I fear a confrontation and public shaming. (Obviously unless I am the perpetrator of said shaming.)

So it becomes a battle between my OCD and my ego. Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear my ego wins out. I am forced to wipe away the urine of a complete stranger so that, you, the potential next guest, may at least have the perception of a clean seat.

Are you cringing? Yeah, me too. EVERYTIME.

In Honor of International Women’s Day: #freethecooch

I cannot understand the need of some women to wear underwear to bed.

After a long day, you need to unwind. Do you think your vajayjay feels any differently? You’ve kept her cooped up in panties, confining jeans and workout clothes. Or maybe you have a real job and there could be synthetic fabrics imprisoning your lady bits. Nightime is the rightime. To let her breathe.

What is the purpose of the panties? Are you afraid something is going to crawl up there? Or worse, is something going to crawl out?

Men may wear boxers to bed. But those let the dudes dangle. You never see a man wear tighty whities to bed. If you do, dial 911 as you run. Try to save as many of the others as you can on your way out.

I get it if it’s a little panty and baby doll action. But underpants, literally UNDER pants? To sleep? There may be times when a little belt and suspenders approach is necessary. But the other 28 days, let her exhale.

In this age of renewed exuberance for women and our innate power, may I suggest that this be the next cause we champion. I believe that some of you got the message when you were little that your VAGINA (since this is my feminist paragraph I’m going to stop belittling our genitalia with cutsey names) is dirty and it should be confined and hidden. (NOTE: if yours is dirty you can stop reading. And we can stop being friends.) It is not. It is a self-cleaning oven and you need to leave the door open so it can cool off.

I know some of you will brag that you don’t ever wear underwear. I also know that you’re postmenopausal and it’s all Grapes of Wrath up in there.              (100 points to Gryffindor for any of you that get the reference)

If nothing else, you’ll reduce your laundry load. I say #freethecooch!

Bluetooth in the Shower: Why didn’t I think of that?

My father would have made an excellent White House Correspondent. His direct questions and hard hitting follow up really drill down to extract pertinent information.

Here’s an actual transcript of our last call inquiring about my 17 y/o son.

Me: Hello

Father: Does Riley have Bluetooth in his car? Let’s dispense with the pleasantries.

Me: Yes, why?

Father: So he can talk on the phone while he’s driving? I know what fucking Bluetooth is and its primary function. I’m sticking with my original answer.

Me: Yes, why?

Father: He can answer a call while he’s in his car? Maybe I don’t understand what Bluetooth is and he’s backing me into a corner. What’s your endgame, Old Man? My only chance is to stick to the original story.

Me: Yes, WHY????

Father: I just tried to call him and he didn’t answer. Long pause. He thinks he’s trapped me.

Me: He’s not in his car. Hah!

Father: Where is he? So accusatory.

Me: In the shower. And he doesn’t have Bluetooth in the shower.

I’ve Got Gas

Nothing fun comes in the mail anymore. I know this and yet I wait with anticipation every day. I can tell from the envelope it’s garbage but I open it anyway, mostly because I compulsively shred anything with my name or address on it.

On this day, I open a letter from SoCalGas and am greeted by “Congratulations, you’ve been selected to receive a Home Energy Report”. There’s pretty graphs and numbers so I’m sucked in. And now I want to kill someone.

An aside: You should know that I am highly competitive. Some losers would even say to a fault.

The conclusion of SoCalGas is that my household uses 27% more natural gas than my neighbors. I am now having a tantrum in an empty house as I read the report and accompanying FAQ’s. Oh it’s on, Motherfuckers.

Here’s a sampling of the FAQ’s and my official response:

Who are my neighbors? How did you choose the homes used in my neighborhood comparison? According to SoCalGas, my energy use is being compared to 100 neighbors whose “characteristics” lead to similar energy needs.

Let me explain a little something to you about suburban Los Angeles and the consequences of housing density. If you circle the closest 100 houses around me you will include in that sampling crack houses, drug rehabs, unlicensed retirement homes where seniors are abandoned to Filipino gangs and multi million dollar estates. Not exactly a scientifically sound control group.

Also my neighbors aren’t cooking at home on average 5 out of 7 nights. I don’t do it because I loooove to cook but because it’s a fucking fortune to take a family of 5 out to dinner.

And I’m not talking microwave and serve, but possibly all 5 gas burners going most nights because I was brainwashed by my mother to believe that dinner is protein, vegetable, starch and salad. Boy do I have fond memories of the complete meals my live-in housekeeper prepared and cleaned up.

What is the purpose of the program? Why was I selected to be a part of the program?The Home Energy Reports program is supposedly designed to provide more information about my energy use so I can make informed choices and save money. SoCalGas contends that I was randomly selected.

You basically just admitted I was targeted because SoCalGas finds my consumption excessive. You think you can shame me into using less gas? If I was at 27% overage this reporting period, you can bet I’m shooting for 30% next time.

How do my efficient neighbors use considerable less energy than me?Efficient households take a variety of steps to reduce energy, which may include using a programmable thermostat, running full loads in the dishwasher, washer and dryer and taking shorter showers.

We’re gonna have to break this down one at time:

Um, “efficient” and considerable”? Nice use of qualifiers. Judgmental much?

Using a programmable thermostat: I’ve got one of those and it’s particularly helpful in dealing with climate change. It has this handy feature where I can run the air conditioner during the day when it’s 100 fucking degrees on Thanksgiving and then automatically flip the heater on at night when the weather decides that it is in fact November.

Running full loads in the dishwasher, washer and dryer: There are 5 people in this house and 3 of them eat 15 meals a day, never drink out of a glass twice and crap up anything they’ve been wearing for 5 minutes. I AM running full loads. Just multiple times a day.

Taking shorter showers: I have two teenage boys and god bless them for their discretion. It’s a small price to pay for longer showers. If I demanded shorter showers, I’d have to invest in a black light. I’d have more loads of laundry to do, all requiring hot water provided by my gas tankless, and I’d be running the dryer twice. On high.

There is an option to opt out of this program but now I’m on a personal mission of unrestrained consumption. It’s a frigid 59 degrees tonight and you can bet I’ll light the gas fireplace in my bedroom while I wash up. Cutting off my nose to spite my face? Hardly, I’m hedging with gas futures.