The Bewildering World of Ruby

1. How many times do I have to tell you? I am barking at you. Yes, you. You, right there. You!

2. My head is cold. Despite the presence of fur, it needs your hand upon it.

3. Look deep into my eyes, imagine the Sarah McLachlan song, and feed me a portion of your snack.

4. I saw the UPS truck today.

5. My unconditional moral imperatives are: love, food, sleep, and pooping. Can I have more than one categorical imperative? Can I or Kant I?

6. It was followed by a man on a bicycle.  He did not smile.  The truck was being chased by a man on a bicycle.

7. Is it true about the new raccoons moving in next door? Asking for a friend.

8. The grass smells funny.

9. The homicidal psycho feline string wrangler you insist on giving shelter to mocks my very existence.

10. I can’t remember the last time I was in a hurry.

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The Bewitching World of Ruby

1. The human child ate my homework. Hurley ate my napkin.

2. I painted one toenail today. The bottle said “BLUE”. It looks gray to me.

3. Have you ever notice how loudly YOU breathe?

4. Did you hear the one about the golf car that drove by and I barked at it really loudly? That NEVER gets old!

5. How long do I have to stare at you to get you to touch the spot on my belly that makes me forget I have a left leg?

6. I was not informed of a rule prohibiting the consumption of bread while reclining on the couch.

7. The one over there makes so much noise when she eats.

8. Oh my God, are you eating something?  I don’t know what it is but it looks delicious.

9. Ruby, Hurley, and Donnie walk into a bar. The bartender looks at Hurley and says, “Why the short tail?”

10. The psychotic feline string wrangler referred to as “cat” is just a cat.  What is the big deal?

Don’t Stick the Cotton Swab All the Way In Your Ear

There is one basic lesson in ear hygiene.  Do not stick the Q-tip completely in your ear!  The Q-tip isn’t a wax backhoe.  It’s designed for the less sensitive, easy to reach, exterior parts of the ear.  Despite this easy to remember maxim, we humans persist, do we not, jabbing our cotton swabs of death into battle against the brown foes of wax and gunk.

Q-tip rules are ones we learn at a very young age.  This is not the kind of thing society has deemed relevant for the syllabuses of 9th grade health classes. “Today we’ll be talking about how a man has a ‘you know what’ and a woman’s got a ‘thing a mabob’ and the proper method of cleaning your ears with a Q-tip.”  Ear cleaning with cotton swabs should be learned before we know anything about human reproduction, beer, flip-flops, constipation, colors, or osmosis.

On whatever day they taught Q-tip usage I was absent.  I blame my parents.  I was completely home schooled in cleanliness.  I was trying to get advance placement credit in toenail clipping and it wasn’t going well.  If memory serves, I might have skipped to prep for the “Big Toe Final”.  Honestly, I can’t be sure.   I did so much Tinactin in middle school.  How could someone who played no sports at all have athlete’s foot?

Why does it matter that I was absent from ear cleaning day at hygiene home school?  On Monday, I broke a cotton swab right off, plumb clean in my right ear.  I know what you’re thinking.  How did this happen?  Surely, someone with my good looks, bald head, and sock collection knows the one basic lesson of ear hygiene:  don’t stick the q-tip completely down your ear.  I got greedy and cheap.  I bought bootleg Chinese Q-tips on the black market.  Sure, I wanted to save a few bucks. But the narrow diameter of the swabs appealed to me.  They looked like they could bend further and go deeper than the usual, safety tested American models.  These babies could reach places where no cotton swab had ever swabbed before.

My right ear beckoned.  Before I knew it, I heard a snap.  I pulled the Q-tip out and the cotton was gone.  The plastic tubing was broken.  I was deaf as post.  Panic soon set in.

I called for my wife, using both a tone and term of endearment reserved for the direst emergencies.

“Baby, baby, get my Swiss Army knife army and pull out the tweezers!”

“Why?” she asked in a manner more casual than I thought the emergency deserved.

“I think I broke the Q-tip off in my ear and it’s headed to my brain, you got to get it out!”

“Don’t you know,” she said, “you’re not supposed to put it all the way down your ear?”

No, I was out that day.  Same thing happened when they gave out brains.  I thought they said trains and I feared locomotives.

The Cantankerous Curmudgeon-I’m The Only One in My House Who Doesn’t Wear A Bra

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OK, I realize this isn’t news. I live with four women. One of them is my wife. Three are my daughters. I am not an Arab prince. I am middle class and Methodist. I am me.

To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, sometimes in the course of human events, we all end up doing each other’s laundry. I know our clothes dirty and clean. While my wife was out of town with the girls recently, the girls amassed a fair amount of dirty laundry. It’s taken a few days to get caught up. This happens to everyone when then get back from a trip or vacation. Multiple loads are placed multiple times into a single washer. Such is family life in middle class America.

Earlier this morning, when leaving the house, I noticed small piles beginning to form. All of our underwear and clothing were intermingled together in two or three separate stacks as they had come from the dryer. From their perch on the couch cushions, they waited to be folded after breakfast. Another sat glaringly in the large corner chair.

As I surveyed each clean load, I noticed several commonalities between the piles: T- shirts, bath towels, and bras. I don’t know what it was about the bras that jumped out at me but I noticed: we had a lot of bras. Everyone, but me, in my house, wears a bra. Everyone, but me, in my house, owns more than one bra. I know this intellectually. But this message, staring me in the eyes, like an unkempt underwear section at Target was not what I wanted to see. Our girls are bra wearing women. This means:

• They will start attracting men who like bra wearing women
• They will want to talk to such men
• They will want to date men
• They will want to buy more bras
• They will need to by fewer pencil sharpeners
• I will need to fund dates and bra purchases

Laundry can change your life; whether it is clean or dirty, whether you wear it or not, or if you like doing it or not. When you finally understand what your dirty clothes are telling you; it’s probably 90 degrees, mid-way through August, and far too late to do anything at all.

My Teenager Confessed to Eating Cubed Soap in Our Bathroom

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How do things like this happen?  I don’t know.  They usually arise from ignorance.   I want to openly admit my ignorance about soap.  I know very little about soap.  This is my fault.  I live within driving distance of noted soap experts.  Now, I do use soap multiple times a day.  When given the opportunity to purchase soap, I buy products which claim to kill 99.9% of germs.  How the soap smells and looks are a secondary concern.  I want the germs to die.

Sometime over the past few weeks, the designated soap buyer (also known as Mother), purchased hand soap for our daughter’s shared bathroom.  The soap came in the shape of colored cubes; red, yellow, and orange.  Probably intended to be more decorative than functional, these soap cubes were as large as the ice from a decent ice machine.  Imagine, however, if you’re not as tuned in to the decorative soap world, thirteen, and hungry.  What might these cubes appear to be?  To the untrained eye, they look like huge chunks of candy, left for the taking, on the edge of the bathroom sink.

Last night, Caroline came from her shower and stood before the assembled family council.  “I have something to confess,” she said.  “What is it?” her mother asked.  She looked so sad, much a like a kitten rejected by those tasked with creating kitten memes.

“You know those red cubes that look like candy by the sink,” she asked.  “Yes, the soap.”  “Well, I took a bite out of one.  I didn’t know it wasn’t candy and my mouth still tastes like soap.  It’s not funny!”  Her older sister was more concerned if she spat the half eaten soap back into the dish.  Jordan didn’t want to wash her hands with Caroline’s confusion.

“No, it wasn’t funny,” I said, lying through my teeth.  Caroline confessed to voluntarily eating soap.  It was a little funny.   In her defense, they did look delicious and inviting.   This is a hard one to figure out.  I can either tell her to hold her snacking until she gets out of the shower or put a jar of mints by the toilet paper.  It is difficult to put a price on sanity.  I’m leaning toward making the bathroom an environment without edible looking products.  Wait till I tell her about the time I tried to spread a sea-shell shaped bar of soap on a piece of toast.

Blunderbuss, Musket, and Scuttlebutt Believe I Eat Buffalo

IMG_5247Our daughters, Blunderbuss, Musket, and Scuttlebutt all lead fairly charmed lives.  Like a depression-era fairy tale, they are provided with a chauffeur (their mother) and a butler (me).  When the chauffeur takes one or two of our daughters away for the day to purchase shoes for a fancy dress ball (often referred to as a prom), the butler (me) has an expanded set of duties.  Instead of my usual “butler-ing”, I might also chauffeur around town, butler in areas beyond my usual job description, and do a greater degree of meal preparation.  It’s how being a butler works.  I know this from watching hours of Downton Abbey.

Saturday arrived as expected, a day of sunshine and low wind between Friday and Sunday.  As planned, the chauffeur was going to take Blunderbuss to buy shoes for her fancy dress ball (often referred to as a prom) in the nearest large community where such shoes were sold.  Sensing the opportunity for adventure and chicken nuggets for lunch, Scuttlebutt signed on as second mate.  One other stowaway, “she with limited phone privileges”, also tagged along.  The allure of the fancy dress ball and the desire for new shoes is hard to turn down.*

Musket and I were left to fend for ourselves.  In other words, I became Mr. Belvedere for a day.  Does anyone remember Mr. Belvedere?  (He was English, a butler, jovial, and always seemed to know what to do.)  Dinner time rolled around and it became clear, I didn’t feel like cooking for the two of us.  I asked Musket if she wanted to go out to eat.  Of course, but like all the discerning women in our family, her palate was honed in the underground dining scene of Belfast and Dublin.  “I want chicken tenders but I prefer,” and she proceeded to tell me her favorite chicken tenders within walking distance.

I’m a butler, father, and chauffeur.  This evening, her decision was mine.  Shortly after the meal arrived, we were both enjoying our food; her chicken fingers and my buffalo wings. Our waiter dropped by the table and asked, “How are you enjoying your chicken?”  “Fine,” I said, “It’s great”.

Musket looked a little confused, “Why did he ask if you were enjoying your chicken, I thought you were having Buffalo wings?”

“What?” I asked.  “I thought you were having Buffalo wings,” she said. “Aren’t they made of buffalo?”

All this time, my child has thought I’ve been eating buffalo.  Dear God, Forgive me for all the buffaloes she believes I’ve eaten and been complicit in their slaughter.  I’m OK with being linked to eating chicken meat for culinary pleasure.  Amen.

*Despite the movie Frozen’s massive popularity and its emphasis on running away from parties and living alone in ice castle, fancy dress balls are huge with people who’ve seen and know all the words to Frozen.   

 

Richard, You Have Ever Heard of This Stuff Called Ben-Gay?

IMG_5247I’m used to hearing the news at 3:15 pm. What’s so special about quarter past three each day? Does the BBC issue a special bulletin? Perhaps NPR updates its affiliates with new presidential polling data? Nope, neither is the case. It is something far important. Typically, this is about the time our daughters arrive home or tumble into the car and tell me what went down at school.

The challenge, as I’ve mentioned before, is for the girls to tell their stories individually. I end up moderating the afternoon news like Wolf Blitzer at a Democratic Debate. Each of them wants to be heard. All of the girls have different versions of the same events. (This is inevitable in such a small school.) Much like the Dallas Police discovered on the afternoon of November 22nd, 1963, everyone on Dealey Plaza thought they knew what happened when shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade. They didn’t. Our youngest thought she knew who liked who and which Kanye West song was sampled for a video they watched in history class. This was so disturbing. On most days, her sisters find her reports patently obvious and completely irrelevant to “high school”. The cross examination soon follows: Didn’t she know this? How is she not keeping up with what’s going on?

With little time to prepare, I become the Warren Commission; sorting evidence and hearing the witnesses on the short drive home. This is the typical 3:15 pm broadcast. Sometimes, however, there are emergency bulletins.

“Richard, have you heard of this stuff called Ben-Gay?” Jordan asked. She was almost out breath. I turned to my right, wanting to make sure I had heard her correctly (and that someone else hadn’t entered the car) and said, “What?”il_570xN.249889646

“Have you heard of Ben-Gay?” she said again. “It smells awesome; it’s the best smelling stuff ever. One of the coaches had it. He said he used it for muscle aches and cramps. Will you buy me some so I can just wear it?”

My brain is finally starting to catch up. After seventy or so years on the market she’s only today met “Ben-Gay” and wants to wear it like a perfume?

“Jordan, you know that’s what old people like me wear when they’re sore. It’s not really a cosmetic deal.” (I’m not that old.  I’ve been 39 for three years now.)

“But it smells so good,” she said. “I’d wear that stuff. You got to get me some of that.”

If Ben Gay will make her happy, I will buy and give my daughter some Ben-Gay. I tell you this; our family will be one limber sweet smelling bunch.