Amazon.com is a marvel of virtual shopping. I love it. They love me. I type in my, sometimes strange, criteria—goat de-wormer, dog dandruff shampoo, owl pellets, size five kitten heels—and bam! Elves bring me my every heart’s desire—for free. I have a Prime account.
The day that the grid finally does collapse, and my keyboard goes still and silent, will be a dark, dark shopping day indeed.
People ask me, “Where did you get that Steampunk skull head walking stick?”
“Amazon, of course,” I chirp. “ No shipping. I’m prime.”
My husband, Sherwood the Stoic Shopper, does not often order online, but when he does . . .
He buys shoe polish. That’s it. Or so I thought.
In the jumble of boxes, packages, and envelopes, I noticed a small manila envelope that looked as if it had circumnavigated the globe in the wheel well of a UPS jet with engine trouble. I opened the envelope. Shoe polish wrapped in bubble wrap and . . . a rag . . . fell out. Weird. I tossed the garbage and kept the shoe polish.
Sherwood the Stoic Shopper called me, from some foreign land—I think in this case it was Detroit, and asked, “Did my package come?”
“Sure. Sure. Your exotic shoe polish from the Himalayas arrived.”
“How about the rag?”
The word garbage shot into my mind like a bullet. “Rag? What rag?”
“The seven dollar buffing rag that came with the polish. I’ve been tracking it.”
It’s in moments like this that knowing what nuttiness to address first can be a challenge.
“You’ve been tracking a rag.”
“Yeah, I’ve been pretty pumped about getting my buffing rag—seven dollars.”
“Sherwood, did I know that you were waiting on a rag? A rag that not only looked like a rag but looked like a hunk of stuff someone had cut off of a moth eaten curtain? A hunk of stuff that you paid seven dollars for? Did I know?”
“Linda, where’s my rag?”
“You might want to start tracking the garbage.”
His broken hearted moan echoed. “I was so looking forward to getting it,” he whispered.
“Babe, it was a rag. I thought it was a junky kind of packing material. What the heck?”
My husband is a computer systems senior analyst, meaning he speaks software. Human communication is not his best thing. He seemed to believe that I should have magically 1) known the rag was more than a rag 2) known he’d ordered a rag 3) known he’s paid more for the rag than the polish 4) known his heart was set on getting his ‘buffing rag . . . and so forth.
PEOPLE! IT WAS A RAG!
Don’t worry, he got his revenge; he hid my brand new travel blow dryer in the closet so that I would 1) think I was going crazy 2) unable to dry my hair, forcing me to wear it in a ridiculous ponytail for a work meeting 3) wandering around the house crying my eyes out 4) pretty sure the grandboys had stolen it to use for a “gun” . . . and so forth.
There’s a great line in “Mad Max – Beyond Thunderdome.” At the end of the movie, Aunty says to Max, “Ain’t we a pair, Raggedy Man?”
Yeah. What she said.
I’m ordering myself a t-shirt with that line printed on it. From Amazon. No shipping. I’m prime.
Mother Nature is a girl with an agenda. She’s not a dancing hippo in a tutu. That’s a Disney cartoon with no actual connection or counterpart in the natural world where Mother Nature is queen. Let me repeat. Hippo’s do not wear clothes. They do not dance ballet. They do not twirl in tutu’s.
Hippo’s are murderers. They kill more people in Africa than any other land mammal.
I made the mistake of saying that hippo’s are the most dangerous animals in the world, and I was instantly challenged by the Google police.
Me: Hippo’s are the most . . .
Google Police: GOOGLE IT!
Me: I meant land mammal in Africa.
Google Police: NOT WHAT YOU SAID. Ah ha! The most dangerous animal in the world? THE MOSQUITO!!! Google busted . . .
Someone (who was not me): Mosquitoes aren’t animals.
Google Police: GOOGLE IT.
Actually, mosquitoes are animals. Pigeons are animals. Hermit crabs are animals. Goats are animals. And animals do what animals do because Mother Nature is their queen, even if everyone in society decides to shave their dog’s butt and dress them in top hat and tails.
Our male goat named Tramp is six feet tall when he stands on his hind legs. Mother Nature, his queen, dictates that he lives for two things: food and females. He happily obeys. When new girl goats show up in our next-door neighbor’s pastures, Tramp becomes a rank smelling, lip curling sex fiend. It’s in his DNA. He lives to make baby Tramps.
When I say he’s rank . . . well . . . let’s “google” it:
Billy goats -- or bucks, as goat fanciers correctly call them -- are intact male goats. ... Bucks stink with a strong musky odor, which comes from both their scent glands, located near their horns, and their urine, which they spray on their face, beards, front legs and chest.
Let’s read this again slowly: Urine. Which. They. Spray. On. Their. Faces. Beards. Legs. And. Chest.
Boy goats smell like old cheese cooked in the sun under a pile of moldy grass clippings. It’s a “perfume” girl goats cannot resist. Boy goats stink. They don’t have a choice. They stink because Mother Nature, their queen, says they must if they’re going to get sex and make baby Tramps.
Animals live to eat and make more animals. It’s true.
Back to mosquitoes, the most dangerous animal in the world, which live to eat and make more of themselves. The ones that bite are female. True story. They need the protein in blood for their eggs to develop.
Humans are animals. That’s the word on the secular street. We live to eat and make more of ourselves and watch the Olympics and knit afghans and wear perfume and start charities and ride bicycles and drink smoothies and invent Google and vacuum the kid’s room and write novels and blog . . . about mosquitoes.
The Olympics are back, and my marriage is on the rocks. Oh, not in the traditional sense, where the husband is out and about looking for dates on the dark web or anything like that. No. Martial bliss is rough and rocky right now because the Olympics are a reminder that my husband always wanted to be an Olympian, and he’s not one.
It’s my fault he never lived the dream.
Because, Dear Reader, instead of chasing his Olympic “dream” he started chasing me.
I disavow any responsibility.
“It’s your fault that I never went to the Olympics,” he said. “If you’d quit running away and let me catch you, I wouldn’t have been so distracted. And you always wore that ‘Sweet Honesty’ t-shirt.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” I’m well known for not giving an inch in these discussions.
“You insisted on wearing that shirt with those pink shorts and knee socks—pink, all pink.”
“Are you trying to say that I owned and wore an Olympic dream smashing outfit—on purpose?”
“Yep.” He huddled over various computer screens, trying to figure out how to live stream the 2016 Olympics.
Smiling like Alice’s disappearing cat, I asked, “Have you tried the Dark Web, Dear?”
When he does figure out how to watch the Olympics, it will be one long stream of expert couch coaching. Couch coaching is a symptom of a disease I have termed Coach-of-All-Sports Disorder. Often afflicting hobby athletes and former high school runners, it’s the steadfast belief that no matter the sport, the sufferer knows how to coach it.
Synchronized swimming? Absolutely. Dressage? Of course. Women’s shot putting? You bet.
“Oh man! He came out of his tuck way too early. That’ll cost him,” my husband shouted. He was sitting on the edge of the couch like a raccoon spying a box of Ritz Crackers, clutching the channel changer to his chest, while the light of Olympic glory flamed in his eye.
“I wasn’t aware that you’ve done a lot of spring board diving,” I observed.
“I’ve been to the YMCA.” His eyes never left the television screen.
“That’s a hammy. She’s just blown her hammy. Didn’t warm up enough.” He shook his head in disdain.
“Hammy? How do you know?”
“Hamstring,” he said, waving vaguely to his backside. “Classic injury for long jumpers.”
I tried to recall a time when I had seen him jump farther or higher than our dog when she’s sleeping in front of the fridge. Nope. I had nothing.
And on it goes . . . on and on and on . . . for two long weeks.
If only I’d never worn those pink shorts and derailed his dream.
Hey! Wait a minute! It couldn’t have been much of a goal if all it took was a cute girl in a free Avon ‘Sweet Honesty’ t-shirt and a pair of pink shorts to goof it up.
In a vaguely romanticized quote about some weird village in the wildly fictional hamlet of Me-First-Land, the world was informed that it takes a bunch of other people to raise a kid, your kid. I’m still looking for that abracadabra village, and I’ve got fourteen grandchildren.
It is my studied opinion there is no such place.
What there was: Me and my high school sweetheart and a few members of my crazy family and a lot of friends from church. But mostly it was me and that boy from high school that I married, who worked a full time job and went to school part time (sometimes full time) for TEN years to make sure our “village” didn’t go naked or starve.
What there was not: Someone, who wasn’t me, disciplining the nutty kid who had a tendency to dance naked with Chapstick tucked between the cheeks of her butt crack, while playing the kazoo to annoy her siblings. I. CANNOT. MAKE. THIS. STUFF. UP. The disciplining was all on me, no village in sight.
What I now know: The village cannot afford me. Believe it.
What I learned: That no one tried to make sure my kids could read, write, or compute basic mathematics the way I made sure they could read, write, or compute basic mathematics. In fact, the lovely village representative, that my second-grade son gave a wreath to during Christmas, sent home a thank you note with the word wreath spelled REEF. “Thank you for the Christmas REEF.” True story. Still have the note.
Biggest Payoff: The village kids at our house grew up and moved out; they became healthy, solidly middle class, and wise, and then they came home with fourteen new members for the Zern family village.
Best Kept Secret: Another word for village is family.