SANITARYUM

Nothing besets a woman like work day Mondays, desk clutter, dirty laundry, an empty bottle of Bailey’s, and knowing all those years of Grandma’s dumplings have caught up with me. No more invitations for dinners anywhere unless they are serving Bailey’s, Edamame for dessert, and giving away clean towels.

I’m not refreshed enough on Mondays to do much. Even the Mama’s & the Papa’s declared that you can’t trust that day. I work from home. So it’s convenient to grab a rag watch it gather dust as well. My confidence fluctuates when I think that maybe next Monday I just might scrub something, and have The Fonz elected as an incumbent state leader. Unlikely, but possible. Come to think of it I’m not wild about Tuesdays, I get those mid week blues most Wednesdays, and Thursdays could be troublesome if there are people around to play with. Most of my true happiness arrives on weekends, because I’m never home to clean.

I’m sure that half the people occupying insane asylums cleaned with Clorox. It’s apparent where I got my sanitation status. My mother thoroughly cleaned and carried around a bottle of ammonia in her purse. Her attention to detail kept me cooped up and scrubbing for most of my remaining years as a stigmatized sniveling servant. Unlike her mother who kept bookin’ it to Bingo. God did not intend to keep me down on all fours or He would have created floor boards compiled of double chocolate ginger Biscotti’s.

With such declining enthusiasm, I finally decided to devote Mondays to project finishing, organizing, and scrubbing. I needed to do something substantial rather than sift through the ramshackled ruins of my living space. I still had a log coffee table with a rotting top sitting on my patio that I plucked from someone’s trash when I was bouncing around my neighborhood. What is one man’s trash is usually soon to be my treasure. I had to ask another jogger if she would help me lift it into my car, but I had to wait for that person to show up. Three hours after counting every streetside pebble, a gal appeared looking like she was the minor league player of dwarfism. Pushing ninety pounds if that, and a baby buggy. I assumed she was intravenously fed Slim Fast while delivering.

I did wonder what other women do on Mondays. I barely survived my last painful Monday after an iron fell on my foot. So I worried about inflicting possible paralysis to every thoracic vertebrae in this woman’s neck if she helped me. Turned out that little Mrs. new mother had the muscles of Mark Wahlberg. I was hoping to summon her services again sometime. I needed my armoire lifted to clean behind it. I’d give her an old pair of panties for dusting, provided I didn’t need to be wearing them. But she sped off before I could pin her down to a decade.

Forget the fact that there’s enough sugary content covering my desk to crystallize Croatia. And inside my desk are a few dozen dust bunnies camouflaging as paper clips. I really want to become a committed cleaning contributor and another one that fights the dust. But considering all the dirt accumulation on Madame Bovary, a book I never cracked open, I’m pretty sure it was designed to be read. Not gather gunk. But those pages were never going to make it to my memory. I put it in the yard sale pile with War & Peace, and Jehovah’s Watchtower pamphlets. I then transferred all my staples to covered containers dropping a few. I found myself with a magnifying glass searching for those that fell into the carpeting. Meanwhile a girlfriend called and gave me the bright idea to look for the staples barefoot. Sorely, I found two tacks instead. Then it dawned on me. I’ll invite an OCD group for dinner. Somebody’s bound to start combing through my carpet fibers.

I needed something from someone who had a better grasp of reality than I had. But watching Ferris Bueller didn’t help. My motivation looked like a job for Starbucks and Mr. Clean. Except I was out of muscular men, and the famous coffee maker doesn’t deliver. Thanks to my knowledge of affirmative action, I grabbed some tea, then baking soda. Before long it was late afternoon and I needed to mail a package. I stood in line trying to bring clarity to those who were clearly worried about the dried powdery substance on my fingers. One lady relayed the post office policy on temperamental people. I gave my long drawn out situation starting with the adopted table, the shortage of cleaning supplies, and all the discomfitures of Mondays. She displayed a dull ray of smart-alecky sunshine when implying that I inhaled too many chemicals as a child. And I used to be such a people person.

Once I returned to gazing at my clutter, I found a dust rag behind my monitor. Obviously something came up and I never finished cleaning that day either. It’s not like I’m going to perform surgery here. Although I do love those thirty seconds when my desk is spotless. I asked myself what harm can really come from dust mite excretion that can be combated with Claritin. I’m hardly going to croak from crud. Although I could go at anytime. They expedite caskets from Costco if you order by 11.

Supposedly happiness is 30% activities, 50% genetics, and 10% circumstances. I say happiness is not having my molecular structure partnering with any activity such as scouring. It’s Monday again. That unfinished table is still staring at me. And I would have dusted last night had I not been using my hands to operate the television remote control. The landlord is scheduled to come over to fix the faucet. If I’m not here, I’ll just write a message in the dust which valve needs replacing.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

TO MARKET, TO MARKET

Here’s the story, of a lovely lady, who was bringing up three very lovely girls. She spent every waking moment at the market, buying many things from peas to Cheez Curls.

Every month since has been allocated as supermarket insanity month. Which means September is just another four weeks of sighing. At twenty, I didn’t envision taking part in a forty year program of infiltrating dairy products all the way down to detergents, and somehow infusing it with a cheerful disposition. It seems I’ve been part of a military confederacy collapse, since I’m such a slave for spending ridiculous amounts of money. And those carts went out with Harry Truman. We need something to ride on that has headphones playing heavenly music, a personal calculating system coinciding with our bank balance, a GPS, and a bullhorn so I can ask personnel where everything is instead of touring the store twenty times. Which just might make me public enemy number one if there’s a spreading decline in stocked items. No one wants me doing random amplified growling from the frozen food section when they’ve run out of Heath Klondike bars.

Video surveillance is probably counting how many times I’ve bought Vodka. I buy other things too. Macaroni. Martini olives. Bar napkins. But it’s inconvenient when grocers can’t stick to the more practical placement of things. I would have positioned the liquor next to the limes and Maraschino cherries. I just wish they sold triple strength Ketel One with built-in cavity fighters and fabulous skin care.

I wouldn’t want my store turned into a hatchery just because eggs are placed on the far end of the entrance. A mini Metro link would be nice for transferring to the register. And I would prefer picking them from beneath a nesting hen once she cackles and strains at intervals grunting out a couple of dozen beauties. If they do break, I can never find a minimum wage earning employee that will help with aisle cleanups. It’s more likely he’s lounging around reading the Gospel according to Alfred E Neuman behind the beer. Which reminds me. Teenagers shop in such revealing attire. Pretty soon my market will be turned into a Hooters and they’ll be supplying drool cups. They already sell the ales and alcohol.

Markets purposely situate sugared cereals on bottom shelves so they are easily accessed by screaming children who need that ten pounds of fructose so they can keep screaming. Complications can occur after fifty fistfuls of Cap’n Crunch. What terrifies me is these new drivers, whose acceleration can range anywhere from the Daytona Speedway to a funeral procession. Any kid under the age of sixteen should not be behind the handle of a shopping cart. Their operational privileges should be strictly confined to Power Wheels because they just can’t stay to the left of the aisles, or avoid hitting you head on. I haven’t seen many chances to skim by without their terrifying speeds crushing my Achilles. It’s just one more reason the supermarket can be such cruel and shin-sensitive punishment. I’m surprised kids aren’t slapped with a CUI. Carting under the influence.

And about those checkout separator bars. Shoppers should use them. I’d like to pay for someone else’s ten pounds of potatoes, I really would. But I have yet to wake up with the name of Hilton. Plus, price checking delays things. As does the person in front of me who decides to chat with the cashier about the gelatin shortage in Serengeti. Next time I’m going to lay myself in the horizontal position onto the conveyer belt holding my cherished citadel of melting Klondike bars to see if I get noticed.

Going to the market to buy a fat pig is about as likely as seeing Richard Simmons buying doughnuts. People can’t afford pork. And if I dare ask a meat man to marinade my hamburger, I expect some sort of response. I don’t want to use survival techniques with lunchmeat migrators who dominate the deli department either. More than once I’ve panicked with the idea of being killed by starvation, or by stacked food pyramids of approximately forty thousand products that lure us into purchasing. My better sense tells me to boycott them, and the bakery. Especially after carting two gallons of ice cream.

Then there’s the championed observers of shopping cart items. I’ve snooped myself, at the amount of people buying tobacco products. I have avoided the small rolled cylinders for most of my life. Except for that time in the high school toilet stall when I practically coughed up my thorax. It makes me want to contact the mafia, who in turn could contact those cigarette suppliers. They need a stern convincing that slow asphyxiation is a dreadful way to die.

I doubt I’m as bad as the elderly shopper who arrives faithfully smelling like a bouquet of mothballs and stands around sampling the produce. At tender moments like this, I realize that could be me one day. I watched her as she dismantled a mile high mound of kiwis, then reached right in front of someone for the raspberries. One man reached for the Wisk and she came out of nowhere asking if he had ring around the collar. He would have put a ring around her own collar in the form of a clothesline if they hadn’t been a half mile away in aisle fourteen. He did choose the more conditioned response of simply smiling.

After jiggedy-jigging it homeward then back again many times over, I’ve decided to time my market visits. Each time has to beat the time before, unless I’m making Thanksgiving dinner. I need to look my best for security cameras, because I have this illusion that I might croak while waiting in the checkout line. But if tomorrow does come, I’ll have plenty of crackers, mixins’ for martinis, and juicy reports from tabloid magazines.

(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

WHY I NEVER BECAME A NUN

I can equate my high school captivity with baseball. Or at least one year of it. With an all male school situated right next door to our female academy, we were restricted to comingling with players of the “other team.” It was my freshman year, and we were constantly benched with a bunch of ground rules and no outs. There were no boys permitted, and certainly no DNA left on any school surfaces, since the nuns used their own CSI committee of internal inspectors to constantly scour the landscape for anything male related. My body, which only belonged to the cloistered members of apostolic celibacy, was not authorized to go to first base. The holy creatures of habit put the fear of God in me. But some girls who, the minute were in the presence of young fastballs, started certain mating rituals. It’s what I called entering the big leagues. That sort of scoring position resulted in being immediately extradited to some far away house of shame. Then there were nine months of obstetrician visits and eighteen years of child care. I had already listened to babies screaming for eighteen straight years of my life at home plate. I wasn’t about to repeat that peaceful experience so soon. Statistics in my household showed that pregnancy didn’t drop off significantly till my mother was well over 37. Which left evidence that she was never nurtured by nuns. Baby making was the farthest thing from my plans for contact play. In the back of my mind, I did wonder how ballplayers dealt with increased penetration of the media when batters rose in popularity. I also wondered how you solved a problem like Maria. I assumed shackles, or a real good swing and a prayer.

None of the girls I knew went away to such a place. Unless they haven’t told me yet. With the entire boys school reeking of Old Spice, I’m sure they hoped the scent would slowly downwind its way through our open windows. The mere smell of a guy sent the girlish student body into a frenzy. Suffering through our separation status with such male dominance so close by made us base our entire social calendar around them. But the more restrictions we had, the more my refined and ever so proper daily living resembled a prison camp. Especially since good ol’ boy Phil Richardson walked around with a persistent pucker, and I couldn’t take him up on his offer to swap saliva, let alone get close enough to pucker back. I wasn’t used to anyone more X-rated than Opie Taylor or Lassie. The closest I got to true love was when Jack McNeely placed himself in a fielding position and tried to convey how much he liked me. But both the poor guy’s stuttering plus Mother Superior stood as interference. Which totally impeded any progress of advancement on our playing field. Once the Motherload, I mean Sister forced me back to class, I figured she was giving Jack lessons in manhood, or took it upon herself to be the designated hitter.

I really wanted Brian Jenkins to like me. Only he didn’t either due to my bashfullness, or my cheeks which were covered with an array of acne. And of course the nuns, who withheld their urges to subdue me with teargas. I was treated like Ayatollah Khomeini since they threatened me to a life in exile if I even treaded on male turf. Women of the convent were shrewd. Simply shrewd. I didn’t need to follow the angelic nunsense of these women. There was no trying to talk me into a life as a heat stroke victim inside layers of heavily robed religious wear. I would have been more in favor of a simple business suit. Besides, nuns never took my humor in the playful spirit in which it was intended. It was bad enough that the little trouble I did evoke resulted in me saying the rosary till it was practically twilight. Word had it that one of the boys confessed to the Monsignor about his impure thoughts and was asked, “Are you still entertaining those impure thoughts?” The boy responded, “No. I usually let those thoughts entertain me!” For every seasoned pro who ever felt the sting of a ruler, I know now why they call them rookies.

I never want to balk at those who dedicate themselves to serving the Lord. But after one year of quiet reflection into the extolled virtues of my sex-less girls’ school duration, I begged my parents into letting me go to the public school. And in a momentary loss of their right minds, they let me. I still considered myself a good roamin’ Catholic, even if I did have a slight reaction to all things uniformed. At least at the public school I was able to carry on a conversation eye to eye with a guy. Although I must say, the nuns taught me virtues. And in home economics, the intricate focus you need to thread a needle. Along with the knowledge that if men smell of Old Spice, I will follow them anywhere. I will continue to be reverent when it comes to dressing like a nun at Halloween or putting out “Ale Mary” napkins at my patio parties. Plus, my perseverance won’t cease when inviting friends with benefits. The benefits of bringing the beer of course, because it’s their moral obligation. Except that I’m much more accustomed to bread and wine.

The one disturbing difference between baseball and Catholicism is that I couldn’t eat a hot dog if it was Friday or I would end up in Hell instead of Tiger Stadium. Let me tell you, it’s been a lifelong struggle avoiding sin. But I believe I am now a product of the old school system since I pray before every exam at the DMV and genuflect before entering baseball bleachers.
(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

YOUNGER DAZE

I was a hippie, if for no other reason than to wear paisley and peace signs instead of preppy clothing. But I wouldn’t want to relive that era. Headbands and hemp smoke don’t look good on me. Those were the days when you thought nothing of picking up remnants of road grease and possible toad pee after going barefooted. I wasn’t anywhere near New Zealand, where it’s the norm to walk around in your naked soles. And there are big political and drug differences between me and those non-bathers. I can’t stand myself if I haven’t showered in two hours let alone two days. I do run across hippies now and again, like today at the market. This dude was emanating a distinctive aroma that simulated a decomposing steer. With his wild lengthy hair, he made the Shaggy Dog look like he’d been pruned with a power mower. I haven’t quite pinpointed what a cootie is. But I’ll bet it involves hippies and the health department. Perhaps even the secret service.

Mom and dad took the whole hippie thing pretty hard. They began upping their dosage to three martinis per day. One night I heard mom say, “It’s been a superb day. Now I need to go scream.” I’m sure she was pulling back my eyelids and checking my pupils with a magnifier after I was asleep to make sure I wasn’t on something. Let me just say that I was mild compared to some people I knew. If those free loaders were legumes, they would have looked like black-eyed peas. Mine weren’t the only parents who put up with incense, peppermints, and Polaroids of suspicious looking offspring.

All I remember is having a ravenous appetite that couldn’t be blamed on pot smoking. It was enough to consider us one big happy family when it was a constant race to the refrigerator. I wanted to demonstrate togetherness by tying my siblings to a tree just so I could get first dibs on the Velveeta. My brothers were doing their share of rebelling by reading harvesting magazines and making plans to take off to Canada if war drafters called. They were also growing long hair which turned out to be economically prodigious for my parents since they didn’t have to spring for a barber. I didn’t need a barber back then either. But I did need organizational containers with each of our names on them for distribution of food items. Along with sworn affidavits from siblings saying they would not swipe the last of the freezer pops.

It blew my mind every time I thought my parents were against me. Especially when the large corps of high school operatives showed up posing as Boy Scouts. That’s when I knew mom had these major vessels in her neck. Had I been carrying around a pin, I could have popped a few pretty easily. My maternal advisor was never humored by me. Particularly during the time we passed through airport security and I sang, “Don’t touch my bag if you please Mr. Customs Man!” Although I would have made Arlo Guthrie proud. The parents also didn’t go along with Stephen Stills who thought we should love the one we’re with. They told me that if I loved the one I was with I would be grounded till I was middle aged. And I thought mosquitoes sucked me dry. Little did they know that I was probably the only teen around that wasn’t having sex behind the Tilt-A-Whirl at the fair or in the photo booth at the mall. And I didn’t need to get by with a little help from my friends like Joe Cocker did. I was smart enough to know that if my name was Dorothy, and I had taken a hit of acid, I’d still be somewhere way over the rainbow.

I needed to give peace a chance with my mother, who was the director of my soul and oft protector of my mammaries. Mom let me wear moccasins and Nehru shirts, but made it clear that I couldn’t go braless. She wasn’t about to let me stray from the tradition of covering my milk jugs, and indicated that I needed appropriate attire for everything except bathing. She said that exposed breasts just advertised skankiness and would not go unrecognized at school, or by any flock of boozy-eyed flirters during future happy hours. She offered me the ultimatum of either banding myself, or go live with gypsies. If I was twenty again, and I was standing alone in a bar sipping a drink without a bra on, I doubt ten men would have bowled me over. But two men nearly did bowl me over once when I was in Lane 5 at King Pins in Burlington Iowa. And it had nothing to do with my jugs. I’m sure Mom thought I would turn out to be some brazen hussy that would pose nude for Playboy or something. I told her that even if I did, no males would look at it. Not when they have symbiotic relationships with sports. I’m not sure when growing up became such a bummer of a head trip. It was right around the time my parents decided to take part in disciplining me.

I’m curious how one could be a hippie after sixty. I might get my groove back on a little easier than I thought. It’ll be simple since I’m already swapping old war stories and pedal pushers are back in style. I’ll just have to hold back all my beads while I’m dancing to funky music, and be able to maneuver my way out of tight fitting bell bottoms. But it’s a lot of work to keep breathing, let alone inhale something that may inhibit my every movement. Although with legalizations going national, the day is getting closer when I’ll be shopping at Bed Bath & Bongs, and eating weed filled pancakes at HighHop.
(Posts can be seen in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)