Sunday, June 27, 2010


We've been having some incredibly intense thunderstorms this season and our power has gone from flickerings to brown outs to black outs, which rarely ever used to happen. Since it seems to be our natural state of affairs to always be unprepared, this last power outage found us fumbling around by candlelight looking for the one and only flashlight we own - which was supposed to be in the kitchen on the bookcase next to the fridge. Naturally, it wasn't there. As a joke, I started calling: "Here flashy-flashy." Imagine my surprise when I heard the following feeble reply:

Over here. I-I'm over here.

The voice had a distinct German accent and I don't know why, but I immediately thought of Albert Einstein. I headed over toward the junk drawer near the sink (as opposed to the junk drawer under the coffee-maker counter) and waved the candle over the contents. I caught a glimmer of its shiny silver aluminum casing and triumphantly pulled it from under a blanket of pens, pencils and half-crayons. "I found it!!" I proclaimed while waving it victoriously in the air.

Ohhh...(he implored in a whisper)...please don't move me about like that. The motion and the velocity are making me queasy.

Oh, I am so sorry. You just have no idea how happy we are to have found you! (I pushed the switch, hoping to flood the room with light, but it seemed to illuminate no better than the candle.) Uh, I think it needs batteries. (I shone the golden glow back into the junk drawer and miraculously discovered two "AA" batteries. The transformation in the flashlight was instantaneous.)

Ah! I feel full of energy! ( A window rattling thunder clap caught me off guard and I very nearly dropped the flashlight. By now, my family was gathered together in the den, waiting impatiently for the flashlight and I to join them.)

We'd better go shed some light on the situation.

Yes, be sure (the flashlight concurred). After all, light from a candle or light from a's all relative!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I was sitting on a cushioned bench outside of the college testing center waiting for my 11-days-away-from-being-sixteen year old son to complete the final exam for his fifth college course (yes, I am most definitely bragging!) when a noisy fly decided it was her obligation to keep me company. My wild flailing and signs of annoyance indicated no discouragement to her. Finally, I just shouted, "Oh, go a-way!" and was shocked when I heard a whimpering reply.

Gee whizzzzz. I wazzzzz only trying to be pleazzzzzant. (She sniffed indignantly as she landed on the wall between my bench and the empty one closest to me.)

Well, maybe if you just stopped buzzing by my ears I wouldn't mind so much.

But that'zzzzz how I wazzzzz taught to get attention.

Didn't anyone ever tell you that's also a great way to get killed?

You mean people kill fliezzzzz? Why, I simply can't believe it. You mean to say that you actually think I'm annoying?

Look, I don't mean to be mean, but flies are...well...very dirty.

But I clean myzzzzzelf conzzzzztantly! (It was true. She was rubbing her, uh, hands together that very moment.)

What I mean is that you carry germs from one place to another to another. Every time you land somewhere....

But...(Her little body began to shake. I wasn't sure if it was due to her whimpering or because she was, well...leaving germs.) I...I never intend any harm. I just go about my own businezzzzz.

(I generally despise flies, but this one just seemed so different than the average run-of-the-mill fly. I found myself examining her for reassurance that she wasn't like the fly in the movie, "The Fly" -- you know, fly body/human head. She was all fly. By now, though, she was visibly sobbing.)

I eat (sob)...I nap (sob)...I...I...I fly (wail). And people are alwayzzzzz swatting at me. I just want to be friendzzzzz! (I suddenly remembered a verse from the song, "Human Fly" that goes: "I cry 98 tears from 98 eyes." Oh, I felt so sad for that little forlorn fly!)

Uh, if you promise not to land on me or my coffee cup, I'd be happy to be your friend....

(But before another word could be spoken, a guy with a jelly doughnut and a soda sat down on the bench next to mine. The little fly took off like a bullet towards the goodies and as I walked away to join my son, I saw the guy flailing his arms and yelling, "Oh, just go a-way!")

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Smoke Alarm

Last night when I went to bed, a Nor'easter was predicted for our area: high winds, flooding rains - perfect weather to snuggle under our cozy comforter. I slept soundly through the rattling windows, howling wind or heavy downpours could rouse me from my sweet slumber. No, that was left to the smoke detector. Exactly one hour before the alarm clock was to sound, the smoke detector in our bedroom decided to announce that it needed a new battery. Beep (pause) beep (longer pause) double beep (pause and repeat). I thought of putting the pillow over my head, but then I was afraid I wouldn't hear the clock - in the highly unlikely event that I would actually fall back asleep, that is. Frustrated, I sat on the edge of the bed and glared at the smoke detector.

You couldn't wait just one more stupid hour, could you?

Oh, no. Naturally not. Certainly not. (The voice was most assuredly that of Alastair Sim--though not as he sounded when he was playing mean, crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge in the only really good film adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," but rather as the softer, wiser Scrooge after his spirited evening.) If it had indeed been me, that is.

(I must admit it was I who most closely resembled the nasty, ill-tempered miser at the moment.) One hour! I could have been cozy for one whole hour longer! Why, oh why, couldn't you have just waited?

Oh, dear me, no. (A sudden gust of wind literally shook the rafters.) It would have been inexcusable. Simply inexcusable. If it had indeed been me, that is.

(By now it registered to my sleepy brain that our bedroom smoke detector was denying that it had beeped. But then, there it was again: beep [pause] beep [longer pause] double beep [pause and repeat].) A-ha! It IS you!

No, madam, I'm afraid it is not. Perhaps you're just imagining it. Or it might be part of a nightmare brought on, perhaps, by a bit of undigested beef or an underdone potato....

(Beep [pause] beep [longer pause] double beep [pause and repeat]. I hurriedly slipped my feet into my slippers and shuffled over to stand directly beneath the smoke alarm. I cocked my head to listen more intently to the beeps, and, in actual fact, I was no longer certain that they were coming from our smoke detector. I opened the bedroom door and stood in the hall, waiting for the next round of beeps. No, the sound was definitely coming from our bedroom. My zombie-like daughter, son and husband all confirmed it. After scurrying around to find a battery and making sure my half-asleep husband didn't fall off the ladder replacing it, I crawled back under the covers for a dreamy twenty-five minutes more of sleep. But then it happened. Beep [pause] beep [longer pause] double beep [pause and repeat].) Nooohoho! This can't be happening!

Please, I beg not doubt your senses! Ignore not the beeps!

(Oh, that was just so funny. How do you ignore incessant beeping? After disconnecting the entire apparatus from the ceiling, my husband flung it onto the loveseat at the foot of our bed. It was then that we were apparently transported into an episode of The Twilight Zone, because the phantom beeping started again.) This is insane! It won't die! (We all stood under the hole where the smoke alarm once hung, staring in disbelief at what was happening. Then my son very calmly asked this simple question: Umm, don't you guys have a carbon monoxide detector in your room?) Aagghhhhh! (Hidden behind a chair hidden behind mounds of "stuff" was, indeed, a carbon monoxide detector. We pulled it out of the socket, interpreted the sequence of beeps to indicate a low battery, removed the battery and...stopped the beeping! My husband replaced the smoke detector and he and my children went back to sleep. I promised the carbon monoxide detector on the loveseat that I would get it a new battery, too, and then addressed the smoke detector.)

Oh, I don't know what to do. (Then I laughed a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The mother of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.)
Well, I guess you can tell I'm not a happy riser! Thanks for being so darned polite about the whole thing.

Think nothing of it, my dear. I never intended to alarm you. (And didn't I know it!)

(P.S. - a nod to Mr. Dickens for this one!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fake Moustache

One of the presents my daughter gave to my teenage son this past Christmas was a set of fake moustaches. He's always making incredibly funny videos and since he sometimes plays multiple roles, she thought they might come in handy. I don't think they've made it into any videos yet, but my son has surprised his railfanning friends more than once by showing up with a hilariously hairy upper lip. Today he hopped out of the car looking like he was a member of an 1890's barbershop quartet. When his pals were done laughing, he peeled it off and put it in the car to keep me company. I am no longer surprised when inanimate objects speak to me, but when a moustache sounds exactly like C. Aubrey Smith [see], I must admit I was slightly taken aback.

(Harumph!) I say, it's a bit tricky still having the sticky part exposed. Be a good girl and reattach the paper, what ho!

(Being the good girl that I am, I carefully aligned the moustache with the backing paper and gently placed it in the cup holder for safe keeping.) Better?

Much, much. Capital job. Yes, yes. Capital (Harumph!) I daresay that fellow looked rather dashing with my assistance. I'm sure you'd agree?

(Considering that I think he's quite good looking to begin with and that I didn't want to hurt the moustache's feelings, I agreed, then changed the subject.) It must be nice to know that you're...well, uh...reusable?

My dear child, as long as there are roles to play, my usefulness will never be in doubt. Why (harumph!) the young lad may yet star me in one of his pictures!

Well, I'm not quite sure you'd be the star, but....

Oh - quite right. Yes, yes - quite right. (He sniffed rather loudly.) Must keep a stiff upper lip, you know. Supporting character (harumph!)...that's my lot. Yes, yes.

(Oh, I had really created a sticky problem.) You know, now that you mention it, he recently told me the plot to one of his upcoming videos. Something about how a moustache saves a wrongly accused man....

Why, I say! That would be perfect for me! Many's the time I've dreamed of rescuing the hero from a hairy situation. Yes, yes! Perfect.

My son was finally done railfanning, so I decided to cheer up the moustache ever further by asking my son to wear it on the way home. I was just about to reach for the moustache when my son - with what seemed to be superhuman speed - slammed his condensation-dripping ice-melting soda cup into the holder. "Noooooo!" I screamed in slow motion. I quickly handed the cup back to my surprised son. I felt the bottom of the wet cup holder and raised the soaked, limp now sticky-free moustache. Despite its utter droopiness, I am certain I still heard a determined "Harumph!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hot Air

It's been so chilly at night in our den recently that I began to wonder if heat was actually coming into the room. I pulled my blanket tighter around me as I bent down to check if warm air was indeed making its way up from the heater. After the kind of week I'd had (week? How about couple of weeks? How about even longer than that??), the last thing I needed was a heater on the blink.

Great. Oh, that's just swell. (
The slightest whisper of heat was all I could feel. Totally defeated, I sat right down on the floor and pulled the blanket over my head. ) I seriously can't take this.

Don't worry, dear. It's not as bad as you think. (I peeked out from under my blanket and glanced around to see where Spring Byington's voice was coming from. The TV wasn't on, so I knew it couldn't possibly be a movie on TCM.) You just need to change the filter, that's all. A simple little thing, really. do you know that?

My dear, don't you know it's usually always something that can be easily fixed? (Her voice was so soothing...exactly like the moms she played in "Meet John Doe" or "You Can't Take It With You"  - see I suddenly found myself musing that I really could use one of those moms about now.)

Oh, I wish life was like that...always something that could be easily fixed.

Why, what's the matter, dear? Is something troubling you? (Gee whiz, she sounded so genuinely concerned that I immediately began to blubber.)

Oh, if you only knew! It's work, it's money, it's practically everything! (Okay. So I was a bit melodramatic. Stress can do that to people.) Every day I go to work where my co-workers are all shallow women whose main concern seems to be when they will get their next pedicure - "pedi" as they call it. They're going on trips to Alaska, Cancun, Florida and I can't even afford a trip to the grocery store. My car was last washed in 2007, and they go every week! They can tell you who won "American Idol" but not who their senators are. Every day I have to hear about their dogs getting better treats than I can give my own children, and it's so depressing for me. I just don't know how to cope...

Yes, dear. I think I see what you mean. You'd like not to envy them, but you'd like their freedom, wouldn't you?

I was in the National Honor Society, for goodness sake, and I end up like this? Scrounging for every penny? Having to listen to women gush about having jewelry that has a name - just like their handbags? It's tough. And I'm not.

I know it's difficult, dear. But you must remember that just because these women can have and do things that you can't, doesn't make them any happier than you. It is quite true, dear, that money can't buy happiness.

Oh, I know you're right. They all have their own problems. But just not having to worry about money...

You have to promise me one thing, dear...that whenever you start to feel this way, you'll think of "You Can't Take It With You." Family is what really, truly matters. Heater filters, trendy co-workers and everything else are just nuisances, but with the kind of family you have, you are probably the luckiest woman in the world.

(I knew for certain that she was right. I lifted myself up off the floor and decided to head for the basement to change the filter.) Thanks so much for letting me vent.

That's what I'm here for, dear.