Saturday, June 9, 2018

House of Lies

I'm going to tell you a story now, and I want you to know that I have never been completely honest about this event before.  I never wanted Chris to know the truth. 

But he doesn't read this blog so we're still cool if you don't tell him.

Chris and I were walking down Cedar with the kids - on the part of the road that doesn't have a tree lawn between the sidewalk and the road.  It makes me nervous to walk on this part of the road with the kids because they become like Orcas without an electric fence - flopping about wildly with no boundaries.  It's all concrete so same-same, right? 

So I was already on a slightly elevated alert state when Chris, right next to me, suddenly screams.  An unhuman bellow clearly indicating the apocalypse.  I had a fear-induced heart attack and died. 

"WHAT?!  WHAT?!"

"Your hiccups," he responds, "I was scaring you out of your hiccups."

Yes, it is true that I had been suffering from a raging case of hiccups for the past many minutes.  But everyone knows that scaring a person to get rid of hiccups is sheer ridiculousness. That's not even a thing. I was full of adrenaline, and the rage you feel when you are about to have to fight for your life in the apocalypse.  WHY WOULD HE DO THAT TO ME FOR NO REASON.

Then I realized that, indeed, he had scared the hiccups out of me.  When I had died of my aforementioned heart attack, they had instantly disappeared.  Completely gone.   

That said, Chris had SCARED THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME.  This was not a deal I was willing to make. Hiccups were better than losing years of my life to fear. 

"Did it work?" Chris asked.

I had a decision to make.  Admit he had succeeded, and know that Chris was going to scream at me for the rest of my life, or lie to my life partner. 

"No. Of course it didn't. That's dumb. Why would you even think that would work?"

And then I fake hiccuped for a few more minutes and pretended to cure myself by holding my breath.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Breaking News, By Sam Hagesfeld


Police and other child welfare agencies are responding to reports of horrific torture and inhumane living conditions at a local Cleveland Heights home. 

"You never want to believe that this is happening - but to think that it was happening right next door . . ."  Neighbors on this quiet block are reporting shock and despair that they missed the signs of torment that were right under their noses.

"I mean, I knew that they were terrible at landscaping.  I just didn't know that there was stuff all over their backyard because they were depraved enough to expect the children to not leave socks and cups all over the yard."

"Absolutely," a close family member agreed. "I've been in the home, and I know that they are awful housekeepers.  But to find out that they were expecting my niece and nephews to empty the dishwasher, straighten the living room and put in a load of laundry?  I just don't know how I didn't see it."

"It's horrific," a local responder reports.  "When we first came in, there were dirty clothes all over the kids rooms. When we asked why the parents hadn't cleaned it up, the children stated that the parents expected them to throw their own dirty clothes down the laundry chute.  What's more, they were also expected to put away their own clean clothes.  I've seen a lot in my day, but never anything like this." Choking up, our rescuer adds, "the kids weren't even allowed to have any screen time.  Their rooms were completely barren, with nothing but toys and books and beds and blankets and posters and pictures and art supplies - not a single computer or television was found in any of the children's bedrooms. Not even a tablet."

"I'm honestly not that surprised," a teacher at the school stated, shaking her head, "just taken aback at the magnitude.  I knew they were often expected to dress themselves - I mean, that was obvious - but there were some days I suspected they also had to get their backpacks ready by themselves.  I don't know how they survived in these conditions this long."

Mothers in the area are also lamenting, "I would never have thought that children in the same classroom as my kids would be going through something like this.  I heard that those kids were SO bored, because the parents NEVER took them to do anything interesting."  "Yes," agreed another mom on the playground, "And also that the parents were ALWAYS trying to drag them to experience terrifying new things and NEVER let them relax."  "You know what else I heard?," adds a third mom, "that things in that house were not fair.  It's hard to believe, but it's my understanding that often, one child was permitted to do something, or get something, while another child was not.  Overall, it was completely biased against each child and it just makes me shudder to think about."

Community leaders agree that there will have to be an investigation in to how these defenseless children slipped through the cracks for so long.  The Mayor stated, "we need to look at this like a wake up call.  If these children were being deprived of basic rights - like soda in the house and dessert three times a day - with nobody noticing, well, I think we need to take a hard look at our safety net. Who's looking out for the kids?"

At this point, the children have been removed from the home and placed with a loving family that at least has the dignity to own a Playstation.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Losing Streak

Here's a good thing about Chris.  It's an unexpected dark horse of a strength in a man who lives like Dory from Finding Nemo.  When the chips are down, when all else has failed, when I've given up in despair - he's surprisingly good at finding lost things.  He approaches it with the single-minded determination he usually reserves for riddles and conspiracy theories.

I don't lose stuff that often, so when I do, I'm completely flummoxed. I'm quickly overwhelmed, and soon end up lying on the floor in impotent frustration.  I crawl to Chris and beg him for help and he throws on his cape and finds what I need.

So I am eternally grateful to him for scraping me off the floor and handing me my phone or wedding ring or whatever.


This morning, Chris comes walking through the room, dragging his feet, mumbling.  A few minutes later, he takes a second lap.  On his third time through, I ask him what he's looking for. 

"It's really bad.  I can't find my keys."

"Oh, I know this one!  I saw them on the bed.  We probably slept with them."

"Hahaha, they probably fell in my butt."

(Chris is never so upset that he doesn't think it is funny to talk about butts.) (Even though it doesn't even make sense that keys could fall into a butt.)

He ruffles around in our bedroom for a second, but then he's back, checking pockets of dirty clothes.  I help him for a minute, to show partnership and solidarity.

"But you didn't find them in the bed?" I ask.

"No," he dismisses, "I think I remember picking them up from someplace weird yesterday."

So we look some more.

"But you don't specifically remember the bed, exactly?  And where would you have put them if not all these pockets we just found empty?"

I can tell that he is deep in his head.  I'm an annoying gnat, interrupting his mojo.

So I go look in the bed myself.



Did NOT see this coming

. . . but the keys were in the bed. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Effortless Sophistication

Fairfax Cabaret was tonight! 

The Cabaret is a talent show and is about as much fun as you can have at a school event that doesn't end until 10 o'clock at night like what are we a bunch of people without elementary-school-aged kids?

I was staffing the ticket table when an older woman walks up and even though she's clearly a grandma I can still tell she's less into baking cookies and more into being a real witch.

"This is a PTA event?" she asks suspiciously.

"Yes!  We have $6 tickets and $10 tickets, which would you like?"

SIGH.  "I've only got $18 so I guess we'll be getting $6 tickets." 

I felt bad for a minute, like I should give her the extra $2, but there were lots of people there who were sitting in the $6 seats and honestly this lady didn't even have a good sob story.  It's not like she was scrabbling for nickles in her threadbare change purse. 

"Really?  This is the Fairfax PTA?"

"Yes, yay for Fairfax!"

"This is the most sophisticated PTA even I've ever been to.  And I don't mean that as a compliment."

Hahaha, yes, we've worked hard and a lot of people have donated time and . . . wait. What?

Oh-kay lady. 

Number 1, you really need to work on your insults because that one is very confusing. I don't even know what you mean by that.  They only reason I know it's not a compliment is that you specifically said it wasn't. 

Number 2, don't be a jerk.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Do you even Math, bro?

Chris and I bought a new car recently.

To be completely honest, we bought a new minivan.

The old one had leprosy, I think, because it was falling apart.

So we went to look at a Toyota Sienna at a nearby Mercedes-Benz dealer, where they had classical music playing, and coffee made from freshly ground beans, and the salespeople were almost too handsome to gaze upon, and one of them was even from Scotland, and his eyes looked into my soul.  They printed out a piece of paper with the price break-down, and, when we said we had to go think about it, they wished us well.

But we didn't want that car.

So we drove up the street to a place that had a Town and Country we wanted to try out.  We walked in the door and there were five skeevy guys, waiting to pounce on customers.  Vlad got to us first, and while waiting for the car to be readied, he showed us pictures of his hairless cat, assault rifle cabinet, and knife collection.  When we were discussing numbers, it was scribbles of unlabeled numbers in green marker on a blank piece of paper.  When we said we had to go think about it, he called the manager over and tried to continue to negotiate.

But we did want that car.

So Chris and I talked and decided on a price we could live with.  We went back in and told them the number, and the number of months we were willing to pay that number for, extrapolating from that the applicable amount that would be paid every month.

They go over to the corner and discuss.  They come back with another green marker sheet.

"It is the number you wanted!" they say.

Oh, good!, I think.  But then I see Chris tapping the sheet - right where the number of payment months is 12 more than we indicated we were willing to pay them.

"Yes, but see, that is for many more months," Chris points out.

"But it is the monthly payment you wanted!" they say.

So, but, here's the thing. We live in a glorious age of humankind.  CALCULATORS.  ON OUR PHONES, even.

"Okay, with those extra months, though, it is like a million more dollars than we told you we were willing to pay for the car."

And then I told them they could take their little green marker and stick it where the sun don't shine

Not really.  Really, it was the end of the day, though, and these people clearly wanted to go home.  They capitulated so quickly, coming back with a typed up sheet that they would have had no time to actually type up, that I realized they were just going through the motions.  I suddenly understood that these people probably literally had a written protocol about how to con people into paying more.  It likely includes focusing on the monthly payment instead of total, and making people believe you really want their trade in.  I think the color of the marker is individual choice. 

So, it felt a little gross, but we are now owners of a new-to-us minivan. 

Fair Warning

Something died in our house. 

And not just our willingness to ever go to school / work.

No, I suspect a small mammal also died.  I don't know for sure, because we can't find it.  But there are certain clues.

One day, I came home from work and there was a fly in the kitchen. 

"That's weird," I said, "I didn't even know flies were alive in January."

Over the course of the next few days, I learned that whatever their usual season may be, flies can live - nay, THRIVE - in January.

There's really nothing like a sudden explosion of flies in your house to make you feel sophisticated and elegant. 

Honestly, I don't care how fancy your living room is - the addition of a single fly and you are instantly, at best, a hardscrabble miner like Katniss Everdeen.  Add two flies?  You are living in an Appalachian outhouse.  Three flies and I don't care how much your new couch cost, this is now the poorest of Indian slums.

So we looked in the basement.  Couldn't smell anything, couldn't find anything.  Without being able to tackle the source (definitely a Chris job) we had to start swatting flies (almost entirely a Beth job). 

A few days later, we were making some decent progress, and the flies were dwindling, and hope was returning to our household.

Lilly invited the neighbor girl over and as she escorted her little friend into the house, I hear her saying, "I just want to warn you that there are a LOT of flies in our house."

Oh, Lilly.  Sweet Lilly. 

Can you please not confess to that?  Can you please just let her figure it out?  You know what this is like?  This is like when you got a little bit of ringworm and I was like, don't show anybody, and you showed somebody, and then you got sent to the nurses office.  This is like when you told everyone you saw a picture of your Dad wearing diaper, but really he was just lounging in some light blue boxers.  And this is like when you tell every person you meet that your Dad was in a car accident. 

Lilly regularly throws Chris right under the bus.

All kids have a problem with over sharing, but Lilly approaches it GLEEFULLY. 

The flies are gone.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Thank you?

I ordered a Christmas present from Etsy, but that was a mistake because turns out it was in Guatemala or some place, so it wasn't delivered until January 11th.  Or at least the delivery ATTEMPT wasn't made until January 11th.  Because we weren't home, they left me a note that I had to go pick it up at the post office, which I feel is wrong because the whole point of ordering on-line is that they deliver it to your house. 

If I wanted to leave my house I'd take up yoga. 

Still, I'd paid for this thing, and even though it was largely irrelevant at this point, I decided today to actually go get it. 

For some reason, it was at a post office in downtown Cleveland and I have to say this was a gorgeous old building.  I had plenty of time to check it out as I waited for the Angry Human Sloth to finish with the people ahead of me. 

When it was my turn, I approached the window with a winning smile, and showed her my package slip. 

"ID?" she says, which is fair enough, except that she said it in a way that made it clear that she hated me. 

I gave her my ID, and she checked it, then turned and . . . I want to say "ambled?" But that is a lot more cheerful than what she did.  I want to say "slogged" but that is a lot more determined than what she did.  She clearly hated both me and mail, and, wanted me to know that, honestly, she didn't care if she ever found my package, but some part of her knew she was going to find my package and knew she was going to have to give it to me, and that just made her hate me more. 

Me and the four people behind me descend into an awkward dead silence.  For a while, the guy behind me, apparently from some friendly southern place, had been loudly astounded that people live here, in such a cold place with no pens available at the Post Office.  His wife shushed him though, so we all just stood there quietly. 

Eventually, she came back.  She looks me dead in the eye and said, "I should have closed this window a half hour ago." 

I genuinely thought she was referring to her computer, but then it dawned at me that I was standing at her window and she was telling me she wished I wasn't.

"I've got a job to do, you know."

Yes?  Ostensibly the duties include tasks very much like giving me the package you still have clutched in your hands?

"There's mail piling up back here."

So you could let me do my part to clear it up by handing me that package?

"I should have closed this window a half hour ago."

Yes, you said, but also, to clarify, this is the only open window and I don't really see how that would work.

"I was just trying to be nice."

See, but it doesn't really feel like that right now.

She stares at me for a minute, waiting.  This whole time I've been so confused about this conversation that I haven't done anything but nod. 

"I'm sorry?" I say, because she has not yet moved to give me the package and I think I must start carrying my weight in this conversation if this is going to continue.

She nods - my apology apparently sufficient to move this exchange forward - and puts the package in the pass-through.  I reach to take it, but she puts a finger on one corner of the package, holding it down. 

"You're lucky I was feeling nice."

I mean, I guess?  But also, the Post Office is open?  I checked the hours?  And this is the only window?  Is this included in the Government shut-down?  Is she just here volunteering?  Because otherwise, isn't it normal to assume that someone will be available at an open establishment? 

"Thank you?"

She nodded, taking her finger off the envelope. 

I turn to go, looking at the 10-odd people who have amassed behind me, and prayed that God would have mercy on their souls.