Life is just a party

Being an adult has its advantages. For instance, with the exception of a judgmental pet army, no one cares if you eat chocolate fudge for breakfast or wear your pajamas for 41 consecutive hours.

Adulthood also has its disadvantages. For instance, it’s your responsibility to investigate the odor emanating from the garage.

But no occasion represents the inequities of being a grown up more so than Christmas. When you’re a kid, it’s a magical season highlighted by the appearance of a jolly elf who grants your wishes. When you’re an adult, you’re responsible for granting and wrapping the wishes and baking the cookies and decorating the house and washing the mountain of dishes that somehow materialized in the kitchen. To make matters worse, you don’t even get to enjoy school parties any more.

Other than the last day of school and our spring “field trip” to the baseball field, the Christmas party represented the best day of the school year. Even if the partying didn’t start until late morning or – gasp! – early afternoon, we knew we weren’t going to do anything all day.

And we didn’t. Instead of practicing our multiplication tables or building our vocabulary, we listened to the sounds of the season and watched the clock. It’s a miracle we didn’t spontaneously combust. After all, we were getting cupcakes and presents and treat bags and/or stockings stuffed with walnuts, candy canes and oranges. If that weren’t enough to make us bounce off the walls, the jolly elf was also giving us a couple weeks off from school. Even thinking about it now makes me light headed.

Everybody was on their best behavior on Christmas party day. Nobody received a whipping with a wooden paddle. Nobody was sent to the office. Nobody had a care in the world.

Although grade school parties were the best, the fun didn’t stop when we moved to the high school. In either seventh or eighth grade, our class pitched in for pizza. Pizza, that is, topped with Canadian bacon. It was my first experience dining on international fare. I felt so worldly. For weeks I casually mentioned this life-changing event. We would be sitting around the parlor, debating if Santa had finished preparations at the North Pole, and I would say, “The North Pole. That’s, like, close to Canada, right? You know, Canadian bacon doesn’t taste anything like American bacon. We had Canadian bacon on our pizza at school. It was very Canadian-tasting.”

A few weeks ago, I considered bringing back school parties. I deliberated suggesting to my co-workers that we throw ourselves a work-day party. I thought we could pitch in for pizza. Somebody could stuff stockings with oranges and nuts and somebody else could bring cupcakes.

Then I remembered I was an adult and that Canadian bacon actually tastes a lot like American ham, so I had some more fudge for breakfast and wore my pjs all day.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.


A brand new world

Back in the early ’80s, there was a popular commercial on the TV that featured Madge the Manicurist. In the commercial, Madge extols the virtues of Palmolive dishwashing detergent. In what would become the ad’s tagline, Madge informs an incredulous patron that she’s “soaking (her hands) in it (Palmolive).”

As the commercial ends, the grateful patron returns to the shop to let Madge know she’s now a believer in the power of Palmolive.

Although the ad stood out, it didn’t mean anything to me. After all, I grew up in a Dawn household. Once I started keeping apartment and then house for myself, I remained loyal to Dawn.

I’m something of a generic fanatic, so you might be surprised to learn that I possess loyalty to anything other than store brands such as Great Value and Equate. While that’s true, I’ve learned from experience that when it comes to cleaning supplies, shampoo, and garbage bags, the brand does matter.

Thus, I continued to buy Dawn. At least I did until I came into possession of a coupon for Gain. I had heard some good things about that brand of dishwashing detergent, so after much deliberation, I bought a bottle.

Gain served me well, so I said to myself, “Self, you can go back and forth between Gain and Dawn, depending on which one offers a more reasonable price.”

And that’s what I would have done, had I not come into possession of a 25 cent coupon for Palmolive. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to save a quarter, so I bought a bottle of Palmolive.

What’s my opinion of the detergent that’s marketed as “Tough on grease. Soft on hands?”

Let’s just say I wish Madge was still living so I could go to her shop and let her know I’m a believer in the power of Palmolive.

After washing the dishes with Palmolive, my hands only looked moderately like the Crypt Keeper’s. In other words, the chore didn’t render my hands more shriveled than usual. What’s more, I think I could have washed every dish in the neighborhood using only a drop of the detergent. Ultra strength indeed.

And there was another benefit I didn’t see (or smell) coming – it smells like bubble gum.

The detergent is green, so I’m not sure how that’s possible. Nonetheless, I’m going to have to be on the lookout for additional Palmolive coupons, because I’m developing loyalty to another brand.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Making do out of nothing at all

I’ve made some changes in my life and, frankly, I’m struggling to become accustomed to a few of them. For instance, I keep forgetting that I don’t have to use a knife to open the door that leads from my garage to my house.

Allow me to explain.

As is usually the case when things go wrong, this story stems from me just trying to make do. This time I continued to make do with a loose door knob. Every time I went in and/or out of that door, I said to myself, “Self, this door knob gets looser every day. Perhaps, you should be proactive and replace it before it just falls off.”

But then I would remind myself that it’s ineffective to fix something that’s not broken. And, technically, the door knob wasn’t broken.

Well, it wasn’t until the day off it fell into the floor.

At that point, I looked on the bright side. At least the dead bolt still worked.

Of course, on the not-so-bright-side, the latch remained intact. That meant I needed to figure out a way to rig the latch so I could get in and/or out of the door.

Luckily for me, I’ve learned a thing or two from making do over the years. For instance, I’ve learned that a butter knife serves as a multi-purpose tool. Thus, I retrieved one from the kitchen and inserted it into the latch until the lock opened. I realized that as long as I didn’t slam the door, said butter knife would stay in place, allowing me to open and/or close the door.

Except for forgetting to gently close the door on occasion, my invention and I co-existed peacefully for months.

At this point, you might be wondering why it took me months to pick up a door knob at the home improvement store. I’ll have you know that I was in possession of a new knob within days. Now, if you’re also wondering why I didn’t replace the knob within days, you’re obviously a first-time reader of this-here blog. I might be able to invent my own door knob out of a butter knife, but I don’t possess the skill set to install simple machines.

Thus, I had to wait until a certain somebody finally found the time to install it for me.

Thankfully, the time came, and my door now features a shiny new knob.

It’s lovely, but I had gotten so used to making do with the butter knife/latch that the sight of the knob continues to catch me by surprise.

As a side note, a certain somebody ripped off my towel rack in a fit of roid rage. So, my days of making do are not yet behind me.


This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Getting salty

I recently bathed for the first time in at least 13 years.

In case you’re wondering, I haven’t walked around unclean in the ensuing years. Indeed, I’ve taken hundreds if not thousands of showers during that time.

You might also be wondering how I know for sure that it’s been 13 years and not 12 or 14 or 30. There’s an easy enough explanation for that as well. I moved into my house in 2004, yet I took my first bath in its tub only last week.

Why now?

There’s an easy enough explanation for that, too. I followed doctor’s orders.

In case I haven’t mentioned it 12 or 14 or 30 times, I suffer from migraines. Although they’re not nearly as bad as they used to be, the fact that I still have them means all is not well, either.

I also battle insomnia from time to time. By time to time I mean dern-near every week. So, a doctor advised me to soak in warm water infused with Epsom salts. The doctor even recommended I drape a wash cloth around my neck, warming it in the steaming water whenever it cools.

According to the doctor, the baths will help me relax, theoretically keeping migraines and insomnia at bay. What’s more, magnesium has been identified as a natural remedy for migraines. And what comprises Epsom salts? You guessed it. Magnesium sulfate.

As of this writing, I can’t be sure if this new prescription is working as I’ve taken only two baths. In fact, it took me two weeks to actually try the cure because, you guessed it, I had a days-long headache and I didn’t think the powerfully-smelling cleaner I use to scrub said tub would help matters. (Yeah, you read that right. I hadn’t scrubbed my tub in at least two weeks. We’ll leave it at that.)

Furthermore, I had to make myself take the time to bathe. As I told the doctor, I equate lounging around in a warm tub with wasting time. He countered by mentioning the time wasted when a migraine sets in. The migraine I experienced last Sunday only reinforced his advice. After lounging in the bed and on the couch all day, I realized lounging 20 minutes in the tub every day didn’t sound so wasteful.

Or, as the doctor all but said, an ounce (or a couple cups) of magnesium sulfate is worth a pound (or a few minutes) of cure.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Have you had your sprinkle today?

We held a shower for my great nephew, aka the world’s most adorable baby, last weekend.

At least I think we did.

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Self, what kind of idiot doesn’t know if she helped throw a shower?”

Well, obviously, I know I helped with the shower. After all, I served on the all-important soda and ice duty. What’s more, I took a small portion of my pen and pencil stash to the event so guests could play the games. Don’t you worry, though, I returned home with the same amount – if not more – of pens and pencils I took with me.

My confusion concerns the nature of the event. Specifically, did we have a shower or a sprinkle?

If you’re like me, you had probably never heard tell of a sprinkle until a few years ago. Again, if you’re like me, upon hearing of a sprinkle, you probably asked, “What the expletive is a sprinkle?”

Someone answered my question by explaining that a sprinkle is like a shower, but for a second (or third or fourth or so on) child. That satisfied my curiosity, and I posed no further questions.

So, when my family and I began discussing the etiquette of throwing a shower for a second baby (you know, because my family and I are known for adhering to etiquette), I pointed out that that’s the purpose of a sprinkle.

My niece told me I was wrong. According to her, a sprinkle is for a second (or third or fourth or so on) child of a different gender.

I turned to the Internet for guidance, but that great beacon of knowledge finally failed me. Indeed, some sites I visited backed up my claim while others confirmed my niece’s assertion. Still other sites maintained that a sprinkle is actually a low key shower attended by only a few people, regardless of the baby’s birth order or gender.

Nevertheless, showers and/or sprinkles have changed over the years. Take the games, for example. Nowadays, we play games that demand us to match the names of adult animals to their babies. Back in the day, we tried to see how many clothespins we could drop into a jar.

I also remember a shower game that consisted of putting balloons in a clothes basket using nothing but a yard stick and persistence. Then again, maybe I didn’t play that at a shower. Maybe I played that in the living room with my cousin. But I guess that’s another column for another day.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

It’s how you play the game

One recent summer day, my three-year-old great niece handed me her pad and told me it was my turn to play. Nearly moved to tears by the child’s capacity for sharing, I took hold of the pad.

My happiness turned to disappointment when I realized we were playing a version of Super Mario Bros. In case you’re unfamiliar with the video game, Mario, a plumber by trade, runs through several worlds, encountering mushrooms, coins, and some sort of creature that resembles a flying goose, on his quest to save a princess.

The plot reminds me of some migraine-induced nightmares I’ve endured and, in spite of my older nieces’ repeated attempts over the past two decades to school me in the art of Mario, I’ve never gotten the hang of playing the game.

There was no need for both my newer niece and me to be disappointed, though, so I gave it my best. Mercifully, Mario was running on his own accord, so all I had to do was make him jump. The game even prompted me – with instructions – when it was time for Mario to jump.

I tapped that screen whenever Mario came across a mushroom or had opportunities to obtain coins. Nonetheless, Mario kept falling off the course and/or getting himself minimized by objects the flying goose threw at him. Not wanting to give up, I suggested we find an easier version of the game. That’s when the other adults in the room informed me that we were playing the easy version.

Sighing, I told her, “I can’t do it,” and immediately regretted my words. Whenever she informs me that she can’t, for example, slide open my closet doors, I remind her that “can’t never could.” So, there I sat, basically telling her to do as I say and not as I do. (Or would that be do as I say and not as I say?)

But to my credit (or would that be discredit?), I can’t play video games. What’s more, other than Ms. Pac-Man, I’ve never had an interest in learning to play them. (Don’t even get me started on my comedic attempts at Mario Kart.) And, since I’m being honest, I’m not an exceptional Ms. Pac-Man player, either. In fact, I’m probably not even good.

So it didn’t take long for my niece to pick up on my lack of video game-playing skills. After I had led Mario to yet another death, she eased the pad away from me and gave it to my  sister. When I asked her who played better, my sister or me, she pointed at my sister.

The child’s capacity for telling the truth nearly moved me to tears.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Stop fidgeting around

You might have heard about a contraption called the fidget spinner, which was all the rage amongst youngsters earlier this year. The three-pronged toy is flat and contains a bearing in the center. When you want the fidget spinner to spin, you place a finger on the center and give one of the prongs a good twirl.

Then you watch and/or listen to it spin.

That’s the gist of it.

Try as I might, I couldn’t understand the appeal of this fad. But kids played with the fidget spinner so much that many schools and colleges banned the toy. Obviously, I’m not included in the manufacturer’s target population, so I decided I was simply too old for fidgeting fun.

That was before I came upon two ladies – one of whom is the same age as I and the other of whom is just a few years younger – spinning the fidget spinner like their very lives depended on the toy’s constant movement. The ladies implored me – practically in unison – to join in the “addictive” activity.

Although it didn’t look like something I would enjoy, I said to myself, “Self, you didn’t think you would enjoy ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ either, and now you can’t get enough of that.”

So, I picked up a fidget spinner and gave it a twirl.

I didn’t feel an immediate need to keep giving it a twirl, but I’m known for my stubbornness. I was determined to become addicted to twirling that fidget spinner, so I persevered. Thinking that any second I would become overwhelmed with an urge that would ultimately destroy my life and ruin my relationships, I kept giving it a good twirl.

In spite of my persistence, I failed to develop a dependence on the fidget spinner. Indeed, several times it fell victim to the volcano of papers, books, and gadgets that dominate my life. Every time I found it lying under something, it looked so out of place that I had to remind myself that it was supposed to have taken over my life.

Actually, the only thing the fidget spinner did was remind me of when the air conditioning in my first car quit working. It would have cost more to fix the AC than the car was worth, so even though it was summer, I drove that car with only a 99-cent hand-held fan to keep me “cool.”

Every time I gave the fidget spinner a good twirl, the spinning reminded me of that fan. At least the fan had a purpose.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.