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WARNINGS

JUST A WARNING!

My husband Bruce’s phobia with tools started when we were newlyweds and we made our first trip to that scary giant home depot box store. Walking down the aisles is as intimidating as walking through the jungles of the Amazon.

We were as enthusiastic with our purchase, as any other married couple on Long Island would be. “How fun,” I exclaimed, as we loaded the station wagon with cardboard boxes containing our first project. “We’re going to make this with our own hands.”

Once we got home, we searched through the boxes for the missing instructions. That should have been our first warning sign. “Don’t worry,” I remember saying. “Even a monkey could do it. (Well, two monkeys, as one monkey needs to stand back to assess the job. In our case, we needed a tribe).  

We were putting up flat slabs of brick, like a façade wall, behind our kitchen counter, while singing Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. “I can’t believe we’re almost done,” I announced to Bruce, a couple of hours later. Then our neighbor walked in, unexpectedly (another reason to always keep your doors Locked!) and hesitantly said, “Um, I don’t know if I should tell you this, but you didn’t…um, stagger the bricks.”

By all rights, the wall should have come tumbling down on the spot and killed us. Instead, we had to stare at The Wall of Shame for the next 12 years, until we moved to another house.

Now, we live in Charleston, Mount Perfect, mind you, but still, not everything can be perfect all the time. Not if you’re Bumbling Bruce and Calamity Janet.

The other day, I forgot that I left the sink water on, full force, in the upstairs guest room, until I went downstairs and saw Niagra coming out of my high hat. My eyes popped out of my head (well, they didn’t actually POP out of my head, only felt that way when I silently screamed, to hide the horror from Bruce, like Lucy from Ricky).

I asked my daughter to stall Bruce from coming downstairs, while I grabbed a bucket and towels, before his eyes really did POP out of his head! I counted down to the last slow motion drip – water torture for me.

That night in bed, still traumatized by the day, I dozed off earlier than usual, but woke up at 2 a.m., dreaming I was submerged underwater. I went downstairs to the kitchen to get a 2 a.m. snack and flicked on the light switch. There it was – a flying mouse (that’s what I call Palmetto bugs), the size of Japan (I’m allowed to exaggerate, I’m a writer.) This time, my scream reverberated throughout the house. Joey, our puppy, came downstairs to see if I was okay. Not Bruce. I have no idea how he slept through the racket I was making below with pots and pans, banging away at the creature from the black lagoon. I sprayed the bug with Lysol, but without WARNING, it went down a floor vent. I tried looking in the vent to see him, and he bounced out like a rubber ball at me. I finally clobbered him with a broom, ‘til he was squished dead. Then I remembered that if you squash them, hundreds of their eggs can be disbursed. Really?

When I went upstairs I knew I’d never fall asleep. I listened to my husband’s breathing in the dark, wondering if he was sleeping with his mouth open. Uh-oh. Do I sleep with my mouth open, too? I hear those bugs like warm dark places. So, I considered getting masking tape, but that would be crazy. Actually, not that crazy, since our primary care doctor at MUSC told us he digs those creatures out of people’s ears all the time. Really?

The next morning, relieved the night before was over, I took my seven-month-old puppy in the car for a long ride on the highway, and without warning, I heard some unpleasant regurgitation sounds, and sure enough, I see Joey had thrown up all his breakfast on the back seat. I kept my left hand on the steering wheel and the other behind me, preventing him from lying in it. I may have swerved a bit over the white lines. I then notice in my rear view mirror that a white car was following me for quite some time. Suddenly, I hear the dreaded sirens and see the blue flashing lights.

I nervously giggled like a schoolgirl when the 12-year-old officer approached my passenger window, asking for my papers. While fumbling through my messy glove compartment, I told him, “Well, officer, I usually am a very cautious driver, but look, THAT happened!”  His eyes did a subtle pop at the size of the mound on the leather seat, and said he would be right back. He sat in his police car forever, checking me out, I suppose, and writing my citation. And I had to wonder if dog vomit would now be on my record. Finally, I hear his car door slam shut. He returned, still not looking amused, and handed me a paper. Phew! Just a Warning! That was encouraging! I Wish I could get a WARNING every time something was about to go awry. Then I could  hide in the closet ‘til it is safe to come out again.

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THE WHITE COUCH

It was like love at first sight when we entered the pearly gates of the furniture store. In retrospect, we were blind-sided by the white couch. It sat there, almost mocking us, in its snowy purity. “Oh my God,” I gasped upon seeing it. “It’s so chic …so, so WHITE. This is the dreamiest sofa I have ever seen in my life!”

My husband Bruce didn’t seem too concerned at first, knowing how frugal I am, but then he plopped himself down on the billowy cushions and suddenly he had an ethereal glow about him. I plopped myself down next to him on the cloud and let it consume every fiber of my being. I, too, felt seraphic and knew we’d succumb.

“Whada ya think?” I asked. “This will be great in our great room, dontcha think?”
“Let’s go home and sleep on it,” he responded, as we glanced back at the couch, and exited. That night I tossed and turned. I had a nightmare that the couch was alive, like a ghost haunting me.

Next morning we discussed the over-sized sectional and I got out the tape measure. It would be a perfect fit in the great room. I bit my bottom lip. “Should we order it?” Bruce raised his shoulders. “Umm, and what about the puppy we just ordered?”

“Oh, yeah. Bad timing, isn’t it? Let’s ask if the store can put the couch on hold while we quickly house-train our dog. After all, our doodle is part poodle, so he’s smart and will learn fast.” I didn’t let Bruce know I was even more worried about house-training the humans. You know, the grandkids running around with sharp objects and sticky fingers and extra-large magic markers. And worse than the children, what about the larger-size humans – the red-wine-drinking adults? There goes our social life. Maybe I can compose a questionnaire and send it out to all our acquaintances, to find out who drinks red and who drinks white. A process of elimination, if you will.

My head was spinning. If there is a spill, is there a service that sends a marked vehicle with a siren and flashing lights for emergencies, kinda like 911 for white couches? Of course, they’ll have to show up fast, as the stain cannot set in. I will have to research their Spot & Blot techniques. Do they use chemicals or baking soda-based cleansers? If those products fail, I will resort to dabbing with vodka, which has a dual purpose.

After I hand out Tide sticks at the front door, what food shall I serve with the Sauvignon Blanc? Sushi seems pretty harmless. Ahh, to think the whole idea of the white couch was turning into the white elephant in the room. The premise of getting the most comfortable lounge in the entire world to recline on was fading fast.

Then came the big test when our daughter and son-in-law wanted to give themselves an impromptu birthday party on our rooftop on July 4th weekend with 70 houseguests. I schlepped furniture up to the top of our four-level home, half-heartedly agreeing, because I figured the roof is far away enough from the big couch. Besides, it was also a celebration of my husband’s opening of a record store in August on John Street, downtown – an UN-retirement party, if you will.

After a long dry spell, I had prepared myself for inclement weather and the party being moved to the great room. At the last minute, I covered the beauty of the stupid couch with three king size white quilts. We schlepped the furniture back down the staircases. Our first guests arrived about the same time as the heavy rain did. I visualized 140 muddy feet propped up on the nearly extinct giant mammoth. I was convinced something bad would happen to the sofa. A candle? A cigar? A bear? Oh, My! For peace of mind, we finally moved the sofa to one side of the room, so people wouldn’t bump into it and barricaded it behind a heavy stone table that takes four strong men to budge. No one would get near that thing if I could help it!

The party was a success. The elephant survived. And of course, our fluffy, soft dog is happy once again to have it all to himself, perched eloquently, on our new décor like a shag throw rug. I stare at his innocent little face, and I wonder when all his baby teeth will fall out.

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THE ROAD TO DISNEY IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS

At least it used to be. Back in 1971 when they opened the doors to the Magic Kingdom, adults paid $3.50 and children $1.00 to enter. The rides and attractions ranged from 10 cents to 90 cents. Today, it costs $125 per ticket. And $22 to park your car on top of that, and if you want priority parking, that would be $45.

Do young parents have to take out a second mortgage to bring their kids there because of all the media hype? Are they guilted into it? Apparently, the price hikes didn’t scare families away over the years, including us.

Our greatest wish was to take our own children and two grandchildren to this fantasy land bigger than life itself. Originally, our first attempt in January 2018 failed, though. Mother Nature and the 30-year record breaking snowstorm had other plans for us. Every road, bridge, supermarket, doctor’s office – you name it, closed down in Charleston. The city was literally frozen. Of course, we all got the flu and our grandkids, Jagger 6, and Siena 3, were delirious with frightening fevers reaching 106 degrees.

We thought we’d made the smarter, more economical move by renting an entire house in Orlando, rather than going to a high-price Disney resort. Ahh, the best laid plans of mice and men (no pun intended, and NO refund intended on the January house, either)

Disney, take two! Good thing the kids were never told about the trip because we waited for Easter Sunday to present the big gift. Our daughter meticulously planned the itinerary and made up a scavenger hunt for the kids, one thought-out clue after another that would lead them to the trip of a lifetime, the first week in May.

Finally, the kids solved all the clues and were ready for the unveiling. We led them outside … Drum roll, please! The propaganda and balloons flanked the 3-car garage doors and a giant handmade poster with bold lettering: SURPRISE – YOU ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD! . Their faces — Expressionless. We were the ones surprised. Why didn’t we see this coming? It’s not like they didn’t warn us. These two children would never go within 150 yards of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. What made us think these intelligent beings suffering their entire little lives with CCS – Creepy Clown Syndrome, would want to be surrounded by an overabundance of characters.

Once we got to Disney, how could we possibly rectify the situation? Hmm. Bribery! It was the only answer. “Listen, kids,” we said, “if you let us take a picture of you with the two big mice, we’ll buy you a Lego set at the giant Lego store at Disney. There was a long pause. Then,success. They agreed to the deal. But when we got on line for Mickey and Minnie’s autograph, we could see they were getting more anxious by the minute. They swallowed a lot and looked pale. Another pep talk was in order. “Just don’t make eye contact,” we warned them. “Don’t look at their oversized hands, and don’t step on their tails. (I was starting to get creeped out, myself) And, don’t worry, they don’t even talk. Trust us.”

We found ourselves lying to the children every few minutes. Next, it was the rides. We stood behind a family of eight on line, in dire need of dental care, all wearing $25 t-shirts that read “This is the Most Expensive Day of my Life!” We made poor Jagger go on Space Mountain. He’s not been the same since.

Grandpa got motion sickness. Soon, the entire family was traumatized one way or another. Does Disney have no mercy? Yes, yes it does! We discovered that the very day we arrived was the first day they started serving alcoholic beverages in the kingdom of deceit. CHEERS!

So, you may wonder … was it all worth it? The answer is YES – every minute!