Friday, June 28, 2013

More Moustaches, Among Other Things

WBK dali by WBK-WorkByKnight

WBK dali, a photo by WBK-WorkByKnight on Flickr.
***This has been languishing in my drafts for the last week. Here it is, as is, before it is completely irrelevant and ancient. Boo at will. It's the best I have to offer right now!

You see one of something and suddenly you're surrounded....... After my last post it seemed everywhere I turned there were moustaches! All better looking, you'll be happy to hear, than the last one.

I had an appointment last week in St.Petersburg, home to a museum of a very famous moustache. I gave myself two hours to get there, just to be on the safe side. Several distractions conspired to make me miss my exit: enjoying the sun glinting on the expanses of glassy water on either side as I crossed a long bridge;  dreamily noticing how blue the sky was with its scattering of white, fluffy clouds; admiring the noticeably more tropical vegetation,(than further north where we live) and doing a double take at a billboard of his tell-tale mustache, advertising the Salvador Dali museum. Graphic designers are so clever.... I would have loved to stop for a photo but that might not have been a good idea in the middle of a multiple lane highway! I couldn't even find a good photo of it on Flickr... I'm not much of a Dali fan myself. I'd have to be on some pretty potent drugs for his art to appeal to me --- but, obviously, I am in the minority. Fan or no, the new Dali museum is itself a work of architectural art. Alas, no photos. I was not going to the museum. After driving in panic-stricken circles for ten minutes, with the clock ticking, I finally got back on the right road and skated in to my appointment with seconds to spare.

The first person I saw had no beer belly; no shoulder droop either. He was slim and fit, with brown hair slicked back from a high, tanned forehead. His long sideburns and mustache-goatee combination looked like it must take at least an hour of man-scaping every morning. Judging by the photos on the wall, this was something he did to finance his real love, fishing. He was a neural diagnostic technician, which, after a few beers, he said, becomes a "nerve dude!"  He and I were in the same room because he was going to administer some tests, and I was the testee.  He taped wires to various places on my hands and arms and gave each place a series of shocks, starting with barely perceptible ones and gradually increasing in intensity to "ouch" level. It was uncomfortable, but not unbearable.
I asked if he had always wanted to be a nerve dude, or if he'd started out wanting to be a fireman.

Without missing a beat he deadpanned that he'd always enjoyed torturing things when he was growing up! That left me speechless, a rare occurrence. I think he was joking.I hope he was joking. I can just imagine the career counselling brochures: If you like to torture small animals (or big ones) you might enjoy a career as a neural diagnostic technician.   Hmmm.

I felt like a puppet. Zap! and my finger would jump; zap! again and my arm would twitch. But, he informed me, the tests he was doing on me were tame compared to other tests, that (he said) were really fun. I was glad I wasn't providing him with that much fun!

The next Mustache was the doctor who came in to read the results of Nerve Dude's tests, and then administer some of his own. No beer belly, no shoulder droop. He was nattily dressed in khakis and a dazzlingly white shirt with a beautiful blue tie......No, I didn't rip the tie from his neck to make a little silk bag. I'm quite good at behaving myself when I'm out. His beard and mustache were neatly trimmed, though it didn't look as though he spent quite as much time pruning as Nerve Dude!

For someone who hates needles, with the exception of sewing and knitting needles, this was getting down to some real torture. I tried not to be a sissy as the doctor poked needles into various muscles in my hands and arms. He didn't just poke them in, he probed around with them while they were deep in the muscle, all the while encouraging me to relax! Right! But I breathed deep (thank you yoga!) gritted my teeth---and still my face was wet when he finally finished with the last needle.

The good news is--- no slicing or dicing in the immediate future. I admit that I was apprehensive. The trick to keeping carpal tunnel from getting worse is, apparently, to hang your arms limply by your sides as much as possible; bend your fingers, whenever you can, in the direction opposite that needed to perform most daily tasks/movements, and most importantly, not to sleep with your elbows bent and your hands near your face. Ideally, you should give up writing, sewing, personal hygiene, computers, telephones, lifting things, opening things, cutting things, chopping things etc. But, if I did that I'd have to cut my wrists anyway! So, moderation in all of the above and I might last for another few rounds!

Note: Interestingly enough, none of these incidental mustaches were wearing shorts..... Not, that is, until later in the day, when I was home from my travels, and The Bean breezed in, complete with goatee, mustache....and shorts!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Of Shoes--" and Shorts --"and Sealing Wax"

Walrus by kattenspul

Walrus, a photo by kattenspul on Flickr

I stopped at a local charity shop yesterday to check out their selection of men's ties, preferably silk. Not because I'm going to start wearing them but because they have amazing possibilities.....

I was standing at the tie rack, looking through the offerings, none of which were appealing enough to make me part with $3.50, twice the price as other charity shops. Though there was one very cute navy one with colourful fishes, 100% silk....but no, not what I was looking for. You can tell by the feel, if it's silk or not. Just to be sure, I check the label .... Not interested in polyester!

So there I was, wrapped up in tie inspection, when a voice pierced my consciousness. It was asking a question. I looked up, and sure enough, the voice was directed at me. I glanced around. Yup. He was talking to me. Or else looking straight at me while talking to himself. I decided to assume, for the time being, that he wasn't a crazy loon.

"Do these shorts look good on me?" He asked, giving me a hangdog look from his watery, colourless eyes.

He was standing just outside the changing rooms, sideways to me, so I could have a good look. The curve of his drooping shoulders was compensated for by the opposite curve of his overhanging belly, both of them echoed by the downward droop of his mustache. If I'm going to be accosted by strange men, could they at least be good-looking?

Is he serious, I thought? This man, whom I'd never seen before, wants me to look at his nether regions and tell him if he looks good in these shorts! I was getting definitely creepy vibes here, but I'm not an unfriendly person. I try to be helpful where I can, so, stifling a shudder....

"Yes," I answered." They look fine."

He seemed to need more.

"They're in very good shape," I offered lamely, adding silently....'Unlike yourself...They'd look a lot better if you lost the gut and stood up straight!'

Done with the conversation, I busied myself once again with the ties.

But he was on a roll now.

"I appreciate your opinion," he said, "You know, as an older person."

(Wow! He must have read "How to Win Friends and Influence People!")

"Not that you're old," he hastened to add!

"No problem," I said, "I've made peace with it!" (Now go away, please!)

"....But you're older than me. I don't value the opinions of people younger than me...Look what they've done to our gov'ment. We need to get that Obama outta there, get back to real American gov'ment."

Please! Just because I oblige with an opinion on the shorts, and force myself to look where I certainly never wanted to, doesn't imply permission to inflict your dumbass political opinions on me!

What could I do but give a non-committal grunt?

He muttered something unintelligible and I developed a single minded fascination with a floral silk tie, fingers mentally in ears, humming a silent "la-la-la-la-la!"

He shuffled back into the changing room.

And I beat a hasty retreat.

Conclusion: The world is full of an endless assortment of interesting, if sometimes creepy, people!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Running way

I have been uninspired lately --- have you noticed? Nothing new here in over two weeks! A bad case of the blahs.

And then along comes Isabelle, and in an instant, effortlessly lays inspiration at my feet.  In her recent post "Walking Away," she mentioned Anne Tyler's book   "Ladder of Years"  in which Delia, the main character, while on holiday with her family, goes for a walk on the beach---and doesn't come back----simply keeps walking!

Isabelle's remark, at lunch with friends, that any woman who is married and has children has probably had the urge, at one time or another, to simply go for a walk---and never come back met with raised eyebrows and demurring. Really? Unless they have already been canonized and have a firm grip on their halos, I'd dare to say they are lying to themselves. I probably lie to myself as much as anyone but I'd be the first to admit I entertained fantasies of running away when I was in the throes of raising children.

It all came to a head one snowy day in Montana. It was freezing and frosty outside. The children had just spilled in the door from school; the dogs, seeing the door open for a moment, had darted in too. Bedlam ensued, dogs dancing on icy toes, barking and jumping excitedly, kids divesting themselves of snow-encrusted boots, backpacks, and heavy jackets all over the kitchen floor. And the baby howling. Where was the Mommy, delighted to welcome her children home and offer them hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies? Missing in action. And in her place an overwhelmed monster who suddenly roared.....

"Out! All of you! Out of my kitchen!"

I wasn't much of a roarer, so that got their attention and they left quietly, dogs in tow, leaving me alone in the middle of the kitchen, distraught. Writing it down has always been my therapy. I grabbed a notebook and pen and sat down, not on a chair, but in the middle of the floor and scribbled feverishly...

Wanted immediately:

Young, energetic woman to care for five children, their father and their dogs.
 Must be a person of refinement and even temper; kind, understanding and infinitely patient.
 Must be content to work for love, not money. 
Must agree, in writing, never to get the flu, cramps, a headache, an "off" day or anything that might hinder the proper discharge of her duties. Said duties to include cooking, cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, shopping and laundry.
 In addition the applicant will be on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. This cannot be over-emphasized as unforeseen emergencies frequently occur. 
A dim view would be taken of an applicant liable to come unglued at the sight of broken bones, split chins, gaping wounds and gushing blood. An iron constitution is imperative; a working knowledge of  First Aid a definite asset.

The successful applicant should be a person of humble, self-effacing disposition as the pursuit of personal interests and hobbies might lead to discord in the household.
Of course this requirement would be waived in the desirable, but unlikely, event the applicant gets fulfillment and personal satisfaction from polishing silver and removing splinters from childish thumbs.
The person selected will spend her days caring for the children, ensuring they are, at all times, clean, warm, well fed, rested and healthy. The  Baby is non-ambulatory as yet; the next in line has a penchant for running naked in the snow; the boys show little interest in season-appropriate clothing and have a particular aversion to baths and tidy bedrooms. It would be expected of the successful candidate that she could overcome these minor difficulties in a cheerful and positive manner. She should strive to maintain a calm, harmonious atmosphere, and never resort to such extremes as locking the little darlings in their rooms and "losing" the keys, or God forbid, forcing them to go to bed without ice cream. 
Gentle persuasion is preferred at all times to ranting and raving, especially in family room combat situations
She must be mindful always of their fragile psyches. Hers however should be of tempered steel.
The applicant will find it is easier to achieve peak performance in her duties if she can arrange to have at least six hours more in each day than the usual twenty four.

For the few hours that the children are in school she will have complete charge of the family dogs.
Their intake of playdoh, which the little darlings generously share with their beloved pets, must be carefully monitored to ensure that it does not exceed the USRDA for dogs under one year.
The applicant's chances of securing this job will be greatly enhanced by the ability to wield a poopy scooper with skill and panache.

The father will be the easiest part of this job, departing, as he does, before dawn, and returning well after dusk.
He requires minimal care --- sporadic feeding, clean underwear and shirts occasionally, and peace and quiet on his rare sojourns at home.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is available only because the person presently holding the position is losing her grip on reality and is leaving tomorrow to take up beach combing in the Bahamas.

I never did get to the Bahamas. I regained my sanity and my sense of humour almost as soon as my pen fell limply into my lap, exhausted from its labours. So I never sent it, as I'd intended, to the classified ads in the local newspaper. And someone out there was deprived of the job of her dreams.

This is a little bit of cheating since it was originally written more than a quarter century ago! But hey, a post is a post, and it was prompted by that post of Isabelle's. At the time I never expected to get out of child rearing alive, but here I am, older, wiser, but still kicking.

I bet there are more running away stories out there. Come on, 'fess up!