Monday, November 22, 2010

Technically Family

I haven't quite gotten used to being technically "married" yet, so when the full magnitude of marriage hit me on the way to the mountains for my first Officially Sanctioned In-Law-Event - I suddenly I looked at Tyler and blurted "do you realize we're family now."

She blanched.

Who knows what mental image being in my "family" conjures for her? I'm sure a snapshot of my Uncle Robert sitting in his recliner at 3AM clutching a gallon of ice cream, gray hair to his shoulders and only one shoe on; lighting a fresh Benson and Hedges off the butt of another flashed through her mind at least once.

"People keep calling me Mrs. Ewing and I feel panick-ey. I may be having an identity crisis" she coughed, blowing a handful of slobbery BBQ sunflower seeds into my passenger-side air conditioner vents.

"Lets not talk about it."

Then, after a brief pause and a slurp at her Diet Dr. Pepper:

"Have you added me to your checking account yet? I need $200."

We continued on through Dawsonville in a fog of life-merger technicalities and headed northeast for Blue Ridge.

On arrival my mother-in-law greeted me with "I heard you're on a diet. Can I get you a beer?"

God bless her. Good mothers-in-law don't just grow on trees.

The next day we awoke bright and early to the sound of cheerful toe-music and slamming refridgerators outside our bedroom door. As newlyweds - the lowest rung on the family ladder, we have been supplied with the only bedroom that opens directly into the kitchen. Its a sink-or-swim family indoctrination process that serves a dual purpose: 1). keeping me as fat as possible so I can't run away and 2). ensuring that we don't miss any conversation going on in the house - no matter what the time.

After a lovely breakfast we forayed into the wilds of North Georgia in search of a producing apple orchard that might allow us to sample their wares.

Wouldn't you know it? We found some.

Unfortunately, so did 98% of the toothless denizens of the county. Never let it be said that dentures and fresh fruit don't mix. Apparently we Georgians have developed a new technique for gumming an apple to death.

My father-in-law, Duane, and I agreed - we got lucky - the apple orchard was entirely wrapped in signs boldly announcing "Closed For U-Pick"; a bit of redneckery we understood to mean they didn't want us picking our own apples. I thought to pick a few anyway, just to prove that I'm an American and I'll pick an apple any-damn-where I please; but the scarecrow they had hanging by his neck in the front yard next to a cheerful sign in red proclaiming "APPLE THIEF" took the wind out of my sails.  There are few places left in the world where you can hang a threatening man-sized effigy off the ground with a noose around his neck and not end up in the paper. This is one of them.

Tyler handled this crushing bit of no-apple-picking news with her usual aplomb and immediately tugged me into the country store. The indoor scene was a brisk business in pre-picked apples ("non-u-pick" apparently is the technical name) and hot breaded apple desserts sold to relieved Dads from all over the state.  We dove into the crush of sharp-scented humanity for a peek at the non-u-picked wares. Somewhere towards the back of the building my lovely wife cheerfully flounced her ponytail at me and promptly disappeared into the crowd in the direction of the Granny Smiths; leaving me quite alone by the fresh-fried pork skins.

I lingered for a bit until several irritated stares suggested I was blocking ingress to the rock candy section, so I flung myself back into the river of rednecks and floated along, carried around the store by a wave of sticky-fingered rat-tail exhibitors.

I thought I could manfully power through until I found my wife, but I could only take so much. I clawed my way back through the crowded throng and burst into the parking lot just as my will to live shattered.

I collected myself, taking a deep breath and blinking in the bright sunshine for a moment, then I heard a cheerful "Yoooo hooo!! Ohhh whooo hoo hooo! Hallooooo!!" floating out over the crowd behind me. I turned to see Tyler standing half way back in the snaking checkout line energetically hoisting a large sack of apples over her head and grinning.

"Um! Heyylooo!!" she chortled. "Look whattt I founddddd!!! AAAPPPLLEEESS!!"

"Did you bring your wallet?"

Friday, November 19, 2010

Voodoo Lunch Magic

In some families I think its probably hard for the husband to tell when the wife is mad at him. I don't know that for certain, but I guess its probably so. There's a certain personality type that hides irritation, anger, and various forms of silent fury quite well. I guess it probably shows up in husband/wife interaction from time to time.

Then, there are the sort of wives who put this in your lunch (double click, then enlarge to read):

Poison is such a historically over-used method for tumbling despots that I'm surprised it showed up so rapidly in my lunch. Surely there are much subtler tools available.

Obviously, this sort of situation adds a whole new twist to the ancient voodoo concept of "reading the bones." One can't simply crack open the lunch bag and dive right in - the contents require a certain amount of study and life-application.  I suspect a careful evaluation of the contents of this bowl could well predict the future; at least the immediate future - the part between home arrival and bedtime. This particular casting of the bowl (so to speak) did not bode well; and it turns out: it was spot-on. 

Did I deserve it? Sure.

Was it an adventure?


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Crowding My Action

The problem with having a blog is: ultimately your entire family wants to horn in on your action. It's not enough to have ONE person try to be funny - you post up a blog and pretty soon you've got a flock of half-crazed mini-Steve-Martins running around and it's complete chaos. There should only be ONE funny person at a time. The rest of you should clean up after the ONE funny person and generally take care of him and laugh at everything and make sure he's happy and well-primed with funny and red meats and cheeses.

Unfortunately, this is reality. Instead of an Andy Griffith life wherein everything is basically ok and you run the show and get to smoke cigarettes on the front porch while Aunt Bea washes up; you have to periodically allow a guest-post on your blog and, periodically, that guest poster will be your wife. I will grudgingly admit that occasionally she will reflect the light of your glorious funny in a somewhat-dimmer-rendition of you, and thereby also appear funny.

See below, but bear in mind: SHE'S ONLY FUNNY BECAUSE OF ME!!, so don't get distracted.

Upon returning from our honeymoon and realizing that the lovely housekeeper from the hotel didn’t come home with us; JGE and I decided to split our familial chores between us. It was our first family caucus because, apparently, “two people don’t warrant paying for a maid” in his mind.

Does that mean adding kids to our newly formed family does? My sources were unclear on that.

Basically, I agreed to the traditional womanly chores (kitchen clean up and dishwasher duty, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, laundry, etc) by uttering the simple word “yes” in agreement to the proposed bylaws. In taking on these chores, I took a giant leap back in time for all you liberated women from the 1970s who worked so hard to achieve equality among men and women.


We decided that Jimmy’s chores would consist of the traditional manly household duties that involve tools or trash, as well as anything money, tax, or car-related, or dealing with workmen or household help of any kind.

Fair enough.

This agreement has worked out quite nicely un-altered except that Jimmy has added dishwasher duty to his chores. He acquisced during a minor evening meltdown on my part brought on by raging hormones and a white hot bolt of sheer fury at the dishwasher.

He also agreed to fix me breakfast every morning - for LIFE. WHA HA HA AHAAA!!!! Put one on the board for the home team.

All in all, we have been carrying on well. Married life is fabulous.

I do laundry every 1 to 1.5 weeks so we generally always, or almost always, or usually sometimes have clean clothes. The problem is putting away these clothes - not to mention the hunting clothes which require separate washing in non-scented detergent.

Basically, our laundry situation has slowly devolved into a massive slough of laundry despair and I have been in complete denial. I almost realized it when every single one of our laundry vestibules were unavailable, but I figured it counts if they’re clean, right?

We finally ran out of places to throw our dirty clothes because all the dirty-clothes-holders were full of clean clothes. It was an embarassment of riches, so we came up with the short-term solution of just throwing our dirty clothes in the hallway at the base of the staircase leading to the laundry room.

This solution was actually awesome. I’d come in from a run (a "run" is when I'm alone - when JGE accompanies me its a "forced march"), disrobe in the hallway, toss my clothes in the dirtystash and jump in the shower.

It was a well-oiled machine. Then, we were out of town for three weekends in a row and the generally-manageable pile suddenly turned into a massive out-of-control pile that may or may not attract wild animals.

By Tuesday morning, it was really bad. As I left for work that morning I passed the mountain of dirty clothes and made a mental note to start a load of laundry that night. I figured I'd worry about where to stash those suckers later.

While pecking away at my computer, I received a call from a cheery realtor who wanted to know if she could show my townhouse in 3 hours. This is good news. We chatted for a bit about logistics then hung up.

Suddenly, my palms began to sweat. I envisioned the dirty laundry pile. Then there were the clean piles that were everywhere, not to mention the clean clothes strewn across our bedroom from searching through the clean piles. Then I remembered breakfast…the smell of turkey sausage, fried eggs and toast was probably still lingering in the kitchen. And the guns and gear from the hunting trip that past weekend were stacked in the living room. It looked like the Branch Davidian compound if the women had gone on strike.

I immediately gchatted Jimmmay, who clearly didn’t grasp the severity of the situation:

Me: OH CRAP. Just got a call. Our house is being shown around 3:30-4:00 today. I have to go home and clean it up it's a wreck!!! and smells!!!

Me: Um, Hallloooo?

Jimmy: WHOAOAOAOA. oh man oh man oh man that is neato man oh man oh man house showings yayyyy wowwwyyy.

(and he swears that he doesn’t drink on the job)

Me: Oh man. Ooooh man. This is not good.

Jimmy: We've not been THAT messy really. Don't worry about it.

Me: Well I hope they love it! Oh CRAP. The vents in the two guest rooms are still half hanging from one screw. I thought you were going to fix those! I tried pushing them up last week but they need another screw
and our laundry. This is so bad - and I’m swamped at work today

Jimmy: Take two toothpicks and break them in half

Me: Huh?

Jimmy: Stuff them in the screw holes of the vent then rescrew the screws and the toothpicks will take up space in the hole and help provide substance for the threads to grip.

Me: One screw is missing, plus - I ain't got toothpicks.

Jimmy: Did you try to tighten the one screw? Ok, use a matchstick with head broken off instead of toothpick.

Me: Oh man. I have no matchsticks.

Jimmy: Clearly, you are not a man. Ok, I’ll fix it with my handy bucket o' screws that Gene Maddux gave me.

Me: I may just tape it. Tape will have to do.

Jimmy: No tape. Just pull a screw out of another vent.

Me: Gaaah! Ok, I’m running home, I’ll be back.

Apparently a constant litany of bootleg solutions are my husband's plan for holding up his end of the domestic bargain. We are in trouble.

What happens when one day our child falls out of a tree and sprains an arm? Am I going to come home to my child’s arm wrapped up around a chainsaw bar and Jimmy saying that’s all he could find to stabilize the arm?

As I pulled into the garage, I realized the situation was much more serious than I realized. The garage was full of wedding presents still in their boxes. I walked in and was greeted by even more wedding presents that lined the entire staircase up the kitchen. I had completely forgotten about those.

The next approximately 32 minutes involved me running around the house like a maid on crank - cleaning up the living room, stashing things here and there, airing out the definitely smelly kitchen, moving all of the presents to what hopefully resembled a neatly organized stack in the garage, emptying approximately 2/3 of a Glade air freshener can all over the house (God bless Glade), moving guns to the garage and discovering that, based on the immense amount of camo covered gear now in there, the garage closet has now apparently become our hunting closet. I was on warp speed.

Then there was the laundry. I have never stuffed that many piles of clean clothing in so many drawers, hidden shelves, the armoire, and any other location I could think of that wasn’t a logical space where a potential home buyer would feel bold enough to open. An armoire is personal, right? That doesn’t come with the house so they shouldn’t be looking in there. Thank goodness for my extra-tall bed. You better believe things got stuffed under there.

As for the pile of dirty laundry, that was relocated to the inside of both the washer and dryer, full to the brim. It took three trips to get all of the clothes up to the laundry room.

And the vents, you ask? Turns out, not only was a screw missing in each of the two vents, but we also don’t seem to have a screw driver in the house (I thought husbands came with tool kits?). I therefore had to use a dull knife to unscrew a screw from a floor vent and attempt to stuff it in the ceiling vent, which of course didn’t work. I resorted to my grand idea of tape. But all I could find was flimsy scotch tape, which doesn’t take to ceilings too well. In the end, one vent was temporarily fixed and one vent was hopeless. I said a prayer that the potential homebuyers just wouldn’t look up when they entered the room.

As I finished the world’s fastest and most amazing house cleaning job, I surveyed my work, arms akimbo, as I gasped for air. I must say I was quite pleased.

Later that evening, when I returned home to my shiny, clean, good-smelling, organized house, I discovered the realtor never came.

...And I apparently misplaced someone's "favorite deer rifle."

Editor's note: I found my very expensive, highly accurate, custom 7mm-08 deep-woods rifle, literally, hidden under a throw pillow.

That settles it: The Natural Born Hunter is being domesticated.