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Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Silver" Woes

I have a favorite spoon. There - I've said it. I don't know why it's my favorite, or why I would even have a favorite piece of silverware, but I do. There's nothing spectacular about this spoon. To the average person, it would look like any nondescript, ordinary teaspoon, but it's certainly not! My parents got the set when they got married, I believe, circa 1977. Much like my parents marriage, most of the other pieces of the set have been lost or broken (including the one fork my mom still has in her drawer with bent tines but for some reason, she won't get rid of it). The brand engraved on the back is Servita, and it also says "Nasco Stainless" and "Japan." The bowl of the spoon is shaped just right - like it was made for my mouth. The handle is long and thin, with intricate raised flowers and vines on it. The end of the handle has an almost indecipherable little scoop to it that fits my thumb perfectly. My mom and husband know about my love for this spoon, although they approach it in different ways. My mom tries to understand it and replicate it - she has bought me a few other spoons that she think might do if this one becomes lost or mangled in the garbage disposal (AGH!!!), but there is no comparison. My husband just rolls his eyes and takes the next spoon from the stack in the silverware drawer, even if mine is on top, because he has suffered my wrath one too many times for using "my spoon." I, myself, even pass it up, at times, if I need a spoon for something quick or careless, like an on-the-go snack of a scoop of frosting from the tub. I like to save my spoon for something special, something that I can sit down and enjoy and relish in the fact that I'm using my spoon. I've even been known to take it out of the dirty dishwasher and wash it by hand so that I can use it for just such an occasion... I dread the day when my spoon and I have to part ways, but for now, I take comfort in knowing that it's always by my side.

Forks, now, are another matter. I do not have a favorite fork, but I definitely do have some majorly unfavorite forks. I've never understood why some forks would only have three tines. This is most distressing to me and in fact, when I find myself in a restaurant or friend's house with such flatware, I have to work very hard not to vomit and/or run in fear. Just like my inability to articulate what it is about my spoon that I love so much, I am also equally unable to specify why three-tined forks are so revolting, but they are. I have tried to live quietly with my distaste, but in some settings, I just can't help myself. I have traded forks with friends at a restaurant before, should they have been lucky enough to get a normal one and me the societal outcast. Most of my friends don't seem to have a problem eating with three-tiners, so they willfully trade with me, albeit after a few minutes of teasing. It's worth it - though. I think I would sell my soul if that would prevent me from having to eat with a three-tined fork. (Oh, no - I've just realized what Hell is like - no favorite spoons and three-tined forks. And no shoes. Eeek!) My one friend even gave me a lumpy, sealed, business sized envelope with the words "Purse Fork" written on it. She told me to simply carry it in my purse wherever I go and not to open it unless it's an emergency. I assume finding myself somewhere with a three-tined fork and no one to trade with would be considered as such. I'm so thankful I have friends like her to look out for me!

Well, off to bury my favorite spoon in the stack of the underachievers so my husband or kids don't mistakenly (and rather inconsiderately) take it for themselves in a moment of haste. No - I'm not kidding - I do this everytime I put it away. One never can be too careful with the things they love.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Space matters

Maybe I have an exceptionally large bubble, or maybe other people have an exceptionally small personal space rule? I don't know, but either way, I think space definitely does matter. I just don't understand why people feel the need to sit on the same bench as you when there's plenty of other empty benches to choose. Or why someone sits at the end of your pew in church when there are a ton of other empty ones. Or why the hostess sits you at a table right next to another group when the restaurant is mostly empty. Or why someone chooses to go in the bathroom stall next to the one you're in when there are plenty of other open ones... I thought there was some reasonable (albeit unwritten) rule that says, "Give others space." I guess, though, that the word "space" could be a little vague and confusing to some people. Like those who live under a rock, maybe...

While I vehemently hold my position that these above preferences are totally normal and reasonable, I do admit that I might be a little rigid and "off" in some of my other preferences and behaviors. For example, when deciding where to sit in a doctor's office waiting room, I choose my seat based on a couple of critieria: 1) not sitting next to someone else, 2) leaving no more than 1 empty seat between me and myself if the office is small and/or crowded so that new people coming in could have more open seats not next to anyone (wouldn't be the case if I left 2 open seats between me and someone else), and 3) trying to leave large groups of seats open so that couples/families/friends could sit together. Nothing stresses me out more than having to find enough seats for everyone I'm with and seeing that people have left groups of 2 or 3 seats open, but that's not enough... When choosing a bathroom stall, I prefer to pick one on the end, but if that's not available, I try to pick one that's one stall over from any that's occupied. When we go to church, we tend to sit at one end of the pew and leave as much room at the other end open for people who come later and need a seat. (We would sit in the middle so people could fill in from both sides, but now that there's 5 of us, we take up a good portion of the pew in most churches!) If someone comes and the only thing they can find is in the middle of our pew, I move in rather than make them climb over all 5 of us. I get so annoyed when we get to church late (which is almost always!) and all of the pews are empty in the middle but taken on both ends by singles or couples. Then they roll their eyes at you when you ask them to move in so you can sit down... I also don't understand why all the elderly people sit in the pews directly in front of the crying room. This makes no sense on two levels: 1) wouldn't it be more logical to save those seats for families, so they can quickly bail to the crying room if/when their kid starts ripping pages from the hymnal, continually dropping their sippy cup on the hard wooden pew despite repeated parental threats of time out, and screaming "Church is yucky!!!" (hypothetically speaking!) and 2) although the crying room windows are mostly sound proof, nothing is 100% effective against the piercing screams of little wannabe athiests, so wouldn't these old folks prefer a quieter section of the church? Anyway, I digress...

I like to have my space and give other people theirs, but I don't want to be rude or totally weird and position myself too far away. One of my biggest difficulties comes when going out to dinner with a big group of people - I can never decide where to sit. I hate being in the middle of a group, because then people talk over me and I have to lean back awkwardly and pretend not to care that I'm not involved in this conversation, or I have to turn my head back and forth and wonder if my profile is really as awful as I thought it was when I was a teenager. But I hate being on the end, too, because then sometimes people might talk to each other and I'm left out. I have a lot of trouble when some people are already sitting down and I want to sit next to the people I came in with, but there aren't enough open chairs together. How do I decide? And do I do the nice thing and sacrifice myself for the group? Then I inevitably get stuck next to the weird guy who no one wants to sit next to... Basically, I think I'm a little bit socially awkward. Some of my closest friends have told me that when they first met me, they thought I was a bitch and standoff-ish. Ultimately, I've come to realize that I'm just not good at starting conversations with most people. I have a horrible memory so chances are, if I do know anything that we have in common or could talk about something funny that we both know about, I've forgotten about it. Also, I'm not all that interested or informed about generic conversation topics (the weather, sports, politics, and which celebrity cheated on their spouse with whichever other celebrity's personal trainer while avoiding x amounts of jail time by attending rehab). At the same time, though, I love to plan parties and events and will maybe even be an event planner in my next life (but I'm not so sure about the working nights and weekends thing...). I guess, though, that gives me a role and a function, and I could make seating charts and always put myself next to the cool people. Hmmm - I guess this becomes more appealing the more I think about it.

If I taught 7th grade health class, I would have an entire segment of the course focused on personal space and social etiquette. For now, though, I'll have to stick to teaching my own kids not to lick other people's faces, modeling appropriate behavior to strangers - even if that means running through my seating choices and stall preferences out loud, and using my time wisely with that weird guy at the work dinner to educate him on appropriate conversation topics. Sometimes it is like the blind leading the blind, but if I don't do it, who will???

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Naughty or Nice?

The word "naughty" has only sexual connotations for me. I don't know why. I don't think I've been overly exposed to porn (no pun intended, honest!) or underly (is that a word?) exposed to Santa stories, but anytime I hear someone call their child "naughty," I have to stop myself from picking up the phone and speed dialing Social Services. Images of whips, handcuffs, and adult diapers come to mind, and that's just not something that's so easy to shake off. Although I don't think calling my kids' behavior "bad" is much better, at least it keeps my mind out of the gutter and allows me to describe what I mean to them without turning red in the face!

Another word that has a strange and equally idiographic connotation for me is "nice." In college, in my sorority, we had to select future members based on their performance in Rush and whatever else we might have known (or, to be fair, thought we knew) about them. There were some pretty strict and senseless rules to the whole process, one of which involved the word "nice." Really, "nice" was code for "this-girl-is-a-skanky-bitch-and-I-vote-never-to-let-her-in-my-house-and-if-you-do-then-you-are-all-total-back-stabbing-disloyal-bitch-ass-hos." It could also mean "she-hooked-up-with-my-boyfriend-but-that-was-before-we-were-even-dating-but-it-still-counts-anyway," as well as "she-looks-better-in-black-hot-pants-and-has-a-deeper-sorority-girl-chain-smoker-voice-than-I-do-so-there's-no-way-in-hell-I-want-her-in-my-house-to-compete-with-me-at-all-parties-and-ruin-my-chance-of-hooking-up-with-the-hottie-of-the-day." If you really didn't want this girl in your house, you could say she was "really nice." And if you really REALLY didn't want her in, you could stand on your chair and say she was "really nice." Seriously? Could we not just be allowed to say, "I don't think she represents the qualities we are looking for in a future sister?" It's not like we wanted to take out a billboard and plaster campus with flyers that said, "This girl sucks! Everyone hates her!"

So, there are two important take home lessons today:
     1. The words "naughty" and "nice" are not allowed to be said in my household, for fear of conjuring up some rather unpleasant and grossly inapplicable connotations, and
     2. If I ever slip and tell you "You are so nice," especially if I just so happen to be standing on a chair to reach some obscure item from the cupboard above the fridge, you better look out!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

If only...

Many times, I find myself wondering, "What the hell is wrong with you???" Like just now, when I picked up an errant chocolate chip from the kitchen floor, diligently following the internationally renowned and fully vetted "5 second rule," and put it in my mouth. No attempt to blow it off, no glance over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching, no second thought that this might be a bad idea. Needless to say, I mostly swallowed the dust bunny well before my brain could tell my tongue to just sacrifice the damn chocolate chip (there were at least 20 lint-free ones waiting for me in my ice cream!) and spit it out...Or last week, when I made myself a wonderful steaming much anticipated fresh cup of coffee, only to then realize that I never actually put grinds in the coffee filter. Ugh!

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about something else. So here goes... If I was richer, smarter, and/or more focused, here are some of the things I'd invent (in no particular order):
     1. Systemic Sunscreen: Like a pill you can take or a vaccine so you never have to apply greasy grimy sunblock ever again, but can rest assured that you will not get skin cancer, age spots, wrinkles, or sunburned. Okay, maybe it wouldn't prevent wrinkles, but 3 out of 4 isn't bad.
     2. Strapless and racing back nursing bras: Why can't lactating women have fun, too? Seriously - the strapless one would take some creative engineering, but I think it can be done. To wear my bridesmaids dress in a couple of weeks - I have two options: either wear a traditional strapless bra and likely subject myself and anyone unfortunate enough to witness it to awkward Houdini-like moves, full frontal nudity, and a screaming and very impatient baby; or to let the girls go free. That might be fine and dandy when you're the perfect size, but when you're on the small side like me, the girls need all the help they can get. If you've read the previous post, you'll understand my need for padding and underwire...
     3. Flavored glue strips on envelopes: Of course there would be a price differential for lower end flavors like vanilla and cotton candy versus more exquisite ones like dark chocolate and pomegranate, but I believe in safety for all and I would never promote the cutting of costs by using toxic flavoring additives. I'm still mad at George for that one - his poor fiance!!!
     4. Craft supply consigment shops: Forget stained clothes, outdated and recalled baby gear, and brown and orange colored couches that smell suspiciously like cat piss and throw up. Craft supplies are where it's at! I have attempted so many crafts and art projects, only to spend many dollars and hours before realizing that it's just not my thing. I can't return opened packs of beads, partially used jars of paint, eyelet placers that I don't really even understand why I'd think I would need, or 249 sheets of cerulean paper because it only came in a reem but I really only needed one.
     5. A Roomba-like machine for personal grooming: You know, that automatic vacuum that travels around your house, sucking up hairballs, dust bunnies, cheerios, and single earrings that you've been missing for months until it bumps into a wall and then just gently backs up and goes another way? I'd like there to be one that will shave my legs, armpits, and, ahem, *other* areas for me. Automatically. As in, while I do nothing at all. Well, maybe I would sleep.  
     6. Some kind of alarm that discreetly alerts you when you have food in your teeth: What's not to love about that? After 2 years of braces and an undying love for broccoli, corn on the cob, and blueberries, I have only too often found myself in the bathroom mirror shaking my head and saying, "I thought they were my friends!" This is clearly too important of a job to be left to amateurs - let's cut the crap and just call in the professionals!
     7. An app for the TV that would automatically change the channel when a preview for a scary movie comes on: This would be so much easier, more efficient, and more socially appropriate than my current tactic of sticking my fingers in my ears, squeezing my eyes shut, and loudly singing "la la la la" until I dare to take a peek. For an additional fee, one could purchase a deluxe version that even changes the channel back when the preview is done.
     8. Outdoor event high heel savers: These are little clear discs that can be snapped onto the end of one's high heels so that you don't sink into the grass while attending outdoor weddings, funerals, or just taking a casual stroll across the front lawn in your favorite stilettos. Mesh half shirt, cutoff jean booty shorts, and hot pink scrunchy optional.
     9. A breast pump/pacifier device that allows you to breastfeed your baby from a distance: Essentially, it's a long hose with a pacifier at one end and a breast shield at the other. Baby sucks, milk is released and travels down the hose to baby. All is right in the world. This could come in especially handy while driving 72 mph on the interstate alone in the car and trying to comfort a screaming (and might I mention rear facing?) baby for just two more minutes until you reach the rumored-to-be-an-anonymous-gay-sex-meet-up-spot-but-who-cares-because-it's-the-best-option-available-at-the-moment-and-you're-really-desperate rest area.
     10. Body pillows that somehow support you in all the right places but don't make it seem like there are 3 people in the bed. It's a close call, but I'm not sure who I love more - my husband or my body pillow. Truth be told, the pillow is a little more agreeable and never has roaming hands, so I guess maybe my preference is becoming clear. I don't want my husband to feel ousted by an inanimate object, but I guess I can only hope that he's secure enough in our relationship and in his manhood to recognize that I've got a good thing going on here. It's not you, honey, it's me. And really - at least he's not being ousted for *other* inanimate objects, right?