Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Big Bird Wipes Out

Since I confess to being a recovering perfectionist, there was a time in my life when I was a full-0n perfectionist. Let's just call it ages 3-39. How do I know I was a perfectionist at age 3? My larger-than-life Lego set! It must have been an early 70s thing, but the Lego's only came in two colors, red and white. I would connect and disconnect those shiny bricks o' magic, over and over again, for hours on end - red, white, red, white, and so on. Always the same pattern. On the same, off the same. Stored the same way, played with the same way. Yes, I'm in therapy now!

One endearing quirk that I began around the age of 6 was collecting napkins. Not sanitary napkins, I'm not a freak! Birthday party napkins. I grew up in an extremely small Nebraska town where all of us kids where homies. Everyone was invited to everyone's birthday party and everyone had a birthday party! Not the extreme themes or the parent parades of today - just simple cake and ice cream and Pin the Tail on the Donkey (which evolved into Spin the Bottle in junior high... but that is a whole different story). The parties had the cone hats with the choke-your-little-throat elastic, plates, and napkins that matched. Oh, the napkins...

I developed a very unhealthy obsession for those stiff, cheaply-manufactured napkins. They had all of the popular characters of the day: Strawberry Shortcake, Holly Hobbie, Fat Albert, Barbie, Charlie Brown, all the Sesame Street characters, and so on. At each party I attended, I consumed my cake and ice cream ever so carefully, so as not to use my napkin. If I had the option of spilling on myself or catching the cake with the napkin, I chose the former. Bringing the napkin home meant keeping it from any tears, bends, or folds. It had to be in mint condition for my collection! My beloved napkins were displayed on my dresser with the mirror. I had them alphabetized by character. They were absolutely beautiful - a treasure, true art, pristine beauty!

One day, one horrible day, the unthinkable happened. I was suddenly stricken with the stomach flu. It was coming out both ends. Mainly the lower end. But, that was not the horror of horrors - diarrhea I can handle. We were out of toilet paper. I was in the upstairs bathroom and I yelled for my brother to check the downstairs bathroom. No toilet paper. I asked him to check for tissues or paper towels. No paper products at all in the house. Only.... NO! It's too horrible to even mention!

Well, I ask you, "WWYD?" (What Would You Do?) I was trapped on the toilet. My fate was in the hands of my little brother, David.

"David," I yelled, "bring me my collection."

"Which collection?"

"The napkin collection," I mumbled.

He laughed his ass off! Then he cracked the door open ever so slightly and threw the entire stack of napkins at me (dang, I had a lot of them!) I carefully weighed my options. I started sorting them, first, by color, then, by oldest to newest, finally, by most favorite to least favorite. I grabbed my least favorite. Poor Big Bird. He never hurt anyone. Such an innocent creature!

The most important lesson I learned from that day (besides never run out of toilet paper) was if you are going to collect napkins, make sure they are not made in China and as rough as a tree!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Can Dig It!

As every parent of a boy can attest, digging a hole to China is a rite of passage. My son had a different rite of passage - he decided to dig his own grave. I know that sounds quite morbid - you just have to know Daniel. He's a thinker and a planner. He was just planning for the future, something to check off of his lengthy "to do" list. Let's put it this way - he's already saving his Christmas money and weekly allowance to purchase his first home, because, as he says, "I'm the boy, and the boy becomes the dad, and the dad has to pay for everything!" Smart kid!
One busy day, Daniel was outside digging his grave while I was fixing dinner, doing laundry, knocking my cats off the counter, picking rotten food off the floor, you know, the usual stuff. It was an important Cub Scout meeting night - the annual uniform inspection would occur. I was so prepared for this! The day before, I had driven to the regional Scout Shop, nearly 30 miles away, to purchase a three-dollar slide for his neckerchief. I would do anything for my little guy to get a 100% rating on his uniform inspection!
Daniel arrived home later that evening from his meeting, looked at me sheepishly, and handed me his inspection form.
"How did you do, Sport?" I asked him.
"Well, I combed my hair in time!" he said with pride.
"You had a comb?"
"I heard them talking about another boy whose hair was messy. So, I combed my hair real quick with my fingernails," Daniel said.
"Hmmm..." I said, as I took the inspection form from his hands and read the results. He had points taken off for having his shoes untied and having dirty fingernails. Digging his grave, I thought. I forgot to have him wash his hands! He combed his hair with his nasty, dirty fingernails!
"Get in the shower!" I exclaimed. "And tomorrow, start filling in your grave!"

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Undies and the Vacuum

I told my husband... I'll admit I whined to my husband... "I want, I need, I MUST have a new vacuum cleaner!"

His usual answer, "With what money?"

Yes, we were newlyweds. Yes, we were broker than Citibank. I hated that stupid vacuum. I really did. I would say, "It sucked!" - but, that's the problem, it didn't suck! Ahhh... such is life. Balancing our wants from our needs. But, thus, here is one perfect time when my imperfection worked to my advantage.

I was vacuuming (a rare sport for me) our ragged, one-bedroom, basement apartment. My "non-sucking" vacuum was humming along as I pushed, prodded, pleaded, and prayed. "Lord," I prayed, "give me strength. Give me victory over this beast."

God answered my prayer in the form of my panties. Not exactly Moses and the burning bush! I was maneuvering the beast behind our king-sized, 1970s-style, funkified water bed when I heard the shriek that was both frightening and freeing.

"Oh crud," I thought, "I killed it!"

I heard even more commotion before I could get the blasted beast turned off. I flipped it over, trying to find the lose piece of yarn (I don't knit) or the spare blade of straw (we didn't have sheep). I could smell a faint scent of something burning, like a wiener past its prime. I quit vacuuming and waited for Steve.

The first thing out of his mouth was, "Did you burn the beans and weenies again?" (Like I said, we were poor, and like I did not say, I was the worst cook ever).

"It's the vacuum," I mumbled. "I can't figure out what's burning."

He took it apart, piece by ugly piece. Up in the hose was a pair of my favorite tiger-print undies. They were ripped, charred, and slightly burned. Ruined!

"You did this on purpose!" he exclaimed.

"Did not!" I retorted.

Well... that day was much like a wedding, when a family loses a son but gains a daughter. Only I lost undies and gained a new vacuum. Fair trade.