Push, Wave, or Wait??

I just need to go.
I just need to go.

Life is complicated. Using a public restroom shouldn’t be. I’m a big fan of diversity, truly, and maybe it’s just me being a bit overwrought these days—but lately I find myself doing this peculiar interpretive dance when I use public bathrooms. With the combination of toilet, sink, soap, and dryer choices, there’s any number of ways to do what needs doing. Too many, if you ask me.

Some toilets flush on their own. Great. The germaphobe in me appreciates not having to use my foot to get the job done. But often these self-flushers just don’t know when I’m ready for them. Sometimes they are a little excitable and a bit premature in their efforts…and a bit startling. Nothing like a sneak attack flush to get my heart pumping. And then sometimes I’ll stand there and wait…and then look for the little button to manually perform the task…which I can’t use my foot for, so that makes me twitch. Now more and more places are installing dual flush toilets where I need to choose to flush “up” for “liquid” and “down” for “solid.” So many choices! I just need to go!

And then when I’m ready to wash my hands, the choices multiply, and not knowing or paying enough attention (oops…this may be my downfall), can mean that the interpretive dance kicks in. Do I just stand in front of the sink and the water will come? Do I push for the soap? Wave my hand? Does the water stop on its own?

Now my hands are clean…all I need to do is dry them…If there are towels, is another wave needed? Hand crank? Elbow crank? And if I need to wave and I keep waving like an idiot and nothing happens, is it okay to feel small and insignificant because even the towel machine doesn’t see me?

Air blowers offer several variations, as well. Push the button? Move around? Stick my hands in some weird looking plastic “purse” for super-charged turbo dry action? And what am I supposed to use to grab the door without a towel to hang onto? (Don’t judge me, dammit—I already copped to being a germaphobe.)

My favorite combination is when a place has gone completely touchless except for one thing. So the toilet will self-flush, the soap will drop right into my palm, and I stand there like a moron waiting for the water to come…only there’s a big “PUSH” imprinted on the faucet that I didn’t bother to read because I haven’t had to touch anything else. Sigh. I never had to think at all when I knew it was all up to me to get the job done.

These variables make for too many choices for this whacky woman. I’m merely trying to take care of nature’s call! Can’t a mere bathroom offer simplicity?

And don’t get me started on the automated checkout machines in stores…swipe on the side? top? vertical? horizontal? Then hit enter? yes? PIN? zipcode? Is the amount okay? Do you want cash back? Do I need to sign or is the total low enough I don’t have to? Just take my money!

Okay. There. I think I’m done. For now.

The Monotone Masseur


Want to send me into LaLaLand? Rub my feet. Or at least give me a gift to have someone else rub my feet. And so it was that I was headed toward my second foot massage the other day, as I had been fortunate enough to receive two “foot reflexology and massage” gift certificates for Christmas.

I went for my first one a few weeks ago, and though it was different than I expected (more body massage than foot), it was still quite delightful. It was an interesting little setup, with these Lazy-Boy type chairs that recline to fully horizontal. Throw in the fake fire “burning” on the big screen TV, a little ethereal mood music, and I was game. The young woman who took care of me did a lovely job and I actually had my mind taken off of things for a while.

Then there was my second massage.

The first time I went, I was the only person in the large room of about 10 chairs. This time, there was another woman off to the corner…with a guy massaging her. A guy? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be masseurs, as well as masseuses (yes, I’m all about the proper massage therapy terminology). Hmmm…that would be a little weird, I thought to myself. No guy besides my husband has ventured to lay hands on me in that way for eons. I just closed my eyes and tried to relax.

I heard this low, monotone voice say, “Hi. I’m Patrick,” and I opened my eyes to see a young 20-something set down the soak bucket in front of me. He did not sound unlike Patrick Star from SpongeBob. In fact, if there was a line-up of guys you would think least likely to be a masseur, his number would be called again and again. “This should be interesting,” I thought.

While my feet soaked and got less “footy,” Patrick started on my head and shoulders. “Let me know if you want more or less pressure,” he droned. Now, for whatever reason, I never like to tell someone who is giving me a massage to go easier—some sort of twisted sense of pride? Whatever it is, it’s stupid. Patrick started in on my neck, which is a big ball of tension, and I thought, hey, this may be okay…then he moved to my scalp. I didn’t know if he was breaking off strands of hair or simply ripping them out from the follicles, but…wow. The noise inside my head sounded like a mob of angry crickets. But I took it, dammit.

By the time he moved to my arms, I was fairly certain he was making it up as he went along. He seemed to be trying to relocate my never-been-dislocated shoulder. I figured maybe he was stretching out my socket. Then he did some sort of weird finger tap dance up and down my arm. I swallowed a giggle and wondered if I was on Candid Camera. But when he moved over to my other arm and did the exact same thing, I realized he was either a very good remember-er or there was a method to his madness. Slowly but not-so-surely he made his way down to my feet. His technique of pat, press, and poke made me wonder just what sort of massage school he had attended, but I hung in there.

He could be perceptive, though—as when he asked, “Too hard?” after he pushed into the arch of my foot so deeply I was certain my spleen had exploded. (I’m no expert in reflexology, but I’m pretty sure he killed my spleen in that moment.) Perhaps it was the convulsive movement that mimicked being electrocuted that hinted to him that he had been a bit too firm.

At some point, it became all about survival. After the foot portion of the rub, it moved to my back, with the chair fully reclining, and me on my stomach. Talk about feeling vulnerable…with my gluteus MAXimus at the mercy of “Hi. I’m Patrick.” The poking, pressing, and prodding continued.

I realized I was now much tenser than when I first sat down. My claustrophobic self was just concentrating on breathing (the little “face ring” that is supposed to allow a person to breath easily never quite does the trick for me). I may have even promised God that if I survived this I would strive to be a better person.

To add to the ambiance, the woman in the corner was now making odd grunting and moaning noises. I wasn’t sure if she needed help or a cigarette. Just as I was concentrating on ignoring her animalistic noises, Patrick took me by surprise and bent my recently operated on knee back beyond its acceptable range of motion. It was at that point that I overcame my “massage machismo” and nearly barked, “No!” I think I stunned him, but he was a good listener. He didn’t even try the other knee, and I wasn’t going to remind him, either.

By the end, I briefly entertained the idea of asking the receptionist for my “I Survived Patrick” t-shirt. Instead, I’ll make sure to request the woman from my first visit. In fact, I may need to schedule that soon, since I still haven’t untangled myself from Patrick’s masterpiece.

Sitcom Solutions

wristwatchtv2When I was about four years old, I told my parents that in the future, there would be wristwatch TVs. “She has such an imagination!…Maybe someday…after all, anything is possible!” Needless to say, I was a psychic genius. Well, maybe just psychic, because I didn’t actually invent it. Well, maybe not even psychic, but just a good guesser. Okay, lay off of me—maybe I did just have a good imagination.

I get a kick out of telling my son about how there used to be only a half dozen TV channels and they all went off the air by midnight. Compared to today’s media saturation, that seems like Flintstone times (oh, how I loved the Flintstones!) And, of course, when I hear him whine that there is nothing on…when there are 2,093,457 channels as well as On Demand programming, it is an affirmation that more is not necessarily better.

Though I was only seven when the Brady Bunch series ended, I watched enough reruns to have every ounce of Brady seared deep into my brain. Yes, the show was a saccharine sweet, corny, simplistic look at life, but…it left its mark…even in today’s pop culture. In fact, when I was in high school, I jokingly came up with the Brady Bunch Philosophy—I could solve any life problem with a BB episode. Need to get out of a date? Best not to tell someone “something suddenly came up.” Feeling a little too cocky? Be careful you don’t end up doing the Cindy Brady Freeze on live television.Cindy Brady Freeze

Need some extra cash? Gather your siblings together to form a music group. This is an option you can choose more than once. Really. Just ask the Silver Platters.

If you need a “relevant” example of absolute power corrupting absolutely, watch Bobby abuse his power as class safety monitor. It takes his rescuing a cat from an abandoned building for him to see that sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules. Also, one cup of detergent should do the trick.

Need a believable disguise? One word: mustache.

And anyone my age knows you shouldn’t play ball in the house.

And if you’re ever looking for a legitimate wager to bet, put it all on the line that you will shine the other person’s boots for a month. This is like gold.

If you ever get lost in the Grand Canyon, keep an eye out for Chief Eagle Cloud’s (aka Tonto!) grandson. He’ll help you out. Then you can fill your flashlight with baked beans to repay the kindness. And you’ll get a cool tribal name, too.

Those darn Bradys knew how to pour on the Schmaltz, didn’t they? But underneath all the corniness, we did get positive messages time and again. Tell the truth. Be yourself. Support one another. And don’t let yourself be used just because you fit the suit, Johnny Bravo. It’s a far cry from iCarly’s Sam using the butter sock to settle things, isn’t it?

I guess, when it’s time to change, then it’s time to change…Unless that means bringing in Cousin Oliver. Then it’s time to stick a fork in your eye because Mini-John Denver has come to pour maple syrup over the saccharine that we have previously tolerated but can now no longer stand.

Other than that, it’s a Sunshine Day.

Is This the Party to Whom I Am Speaking?

Stop callin', stop callin'...
Stop callin’, stop callin’…

One thing I lament for “today’s youth” is that the beauty of the simple prank phone call is no more. Now, I know there are ways around it, and that there’s plenty of mayhem occurring in today’s Caller ID world, but it’s not the same. While you can block your number from appearing on Caller ID…do you answer those calls? Yeah, me neither. So the opportunity for calling a neighbor to have a few innocent yet mischievous giggles just isn’t the same as it was when I was a kid.

My best friend Jen was my main partner in crime. Like most pranksters, we aimed low at the beginning but quickly graduated from the level of “Is your refrigerator running?” (yawn) and “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” (we weren’t even sure who this Prince Albert was, so we didn’t find it all that funny) to more clever—at least to us—calls.

Since we had our own “radio show” (i.e. we had a sketch comedy show that we recorded on cassette tape…man, we were cutting edge), we liked to think that we had a wide array of voices and characters at our disposal. I’m not sure how we, as 11-year-old girls, pulled off convincing men’s voices, but based on the success of our pranks, we must have been somewhat believable.

[Side note/disclaimer: if anything in these stories can be found to be illegal, then these stories are absolutely not true. Completely fictitious. If not, then never mind this disclaimer.]

One bit that we loved doing was acting as though we were from the fire department. During sleepovers, we would be up at 2am and just call someone we knew and say, “Mrs. So-and-So (that’s not really her name—because that would be an awesome last name to have, but it’s not—it’s just because Jen and I still need to maintain our cloak of anonymity even after all these years. I’d hate to have to relocate.) Anyway, we would say, “Mrs. So-and-So, this is the Mayberry (no, not really Mayberry…come on) Fire Department. Forgive me for waking you up, but fires can strike a house at 2am, and if one did, would you have an escape route planned?” Of course, Mrs. So-and-So wouldn’t know which end was up. On the one hand, she’d just been awoken by a call, but on the other hand…that call was trying to save her life. How could you get mad at that? Remarkably, she could. After a few minutes of back and forth conversation, where the “fire department” was expressing concern for her home safety plan, Mrs. So-and-So finally told me to go to hell. Jen’s convulsive giggling in the background probably wasn’t keeping a tight lid on our ruse, but…that was what it was all about.

Another fire department call that we had fun making was when our neighbors were having a big party. We called the partying neighbors and told them I was the fire chief and that we had heard they were having a big party. Did they have a permit for that party?? Jen and I almost wet ourselves laughing as we could hear the man switch phones to go to a quieter room where he could better answer “the chief’s” questions, as he worriedly told his wife. “Mr. So-and-So (no, he was not married to Mrs. So-and-So…please, quit being so literal), can you please tell me the number of people in attendance at your party?” Again, Jen and I had all we could do to keep it together while we overheard him count off bunches of people and then finally come in with a guess of “around 40.” “Well, based on the size of your house, you are just under the number where a permit would be required. Carry on.” And the very relieved man thanked me and went back to his party.

We also loved calling up people and freaking them out just a teensy bit. We had a neighborhood phone book that listed the names of the children and their ages as a way for neighbors to get to know one another (my, how times have changed in that regard, no?) We would call up strangers and act like we were related to them. “Uncle John? This is your niece Susie. How ARE you??” To which John would reply, “Uh, I don’t have a niece named Susie, you must have the wrong number…” And I would jump in with, “But Uncle John, I can’t believe you don’t remember me! Can you put Aunt Linda on the phone? Or how about one of my cousins? Alan must be around, what? 11?…” to which John would, well…freak out a bit. “Listen, I don’t know who the hell this is, but…” and then he would rage on and threaten us…you know, fun stuff.

Okay, maybe it’s better that there is Caller ID. Nah, I take that back—it was a lot of fun that was mostly harmless. Well, now that I’m all grown up (technically), I wouldn’t want my kid doing it, but, as a memory it’s harmless. And who knows, maybe Mrs. So-and-So decided to create an escape route in her house after all? Maybe these calls of ours were actually helpful. In fact, I’d like to think they made the world a slightly better place.

P.S. Bonus points if you get the reference in the title.

A Hairy Decision

baby me
Baby me.

God blessed me with a head of hair—in fact, I was born with so much hair that the nurses put a gauze bow in it for the first time my dad saw me (back in the day when dads hung out in the waiting room). My hair is thick, and it has a mind of its own.

I started going gray at 21, and I didn’t give it much thought. At 29, my “thought” was to wait to do anything about my hair until I was 40…and then I would color it and look so much younger people would think I’d had a facelift! (Good plan, Lis!) At 30, I decided to have my hair professionally colored…once…because I was getting married, and I figured a few photos might be taken. At 35, looking at photos of me in the hospital after giving birth to my son, I decided he needed a mom who didn’t look any older than she already was, so I began to color my hair via my personal stylist Ms. Clairol.

Why the hair backstory? Just to frame a little episode I had this past summer. I was in a long-hair phase (I, like many women I know, have spent my whole life either growing out my hair or thinking about getting it cut shorter). I was pretty dedicated to this phase, growing it all out for a couple years. Long, thick hair + needing to color it every three weeks (yes…that’s right…unless I want to be confused with a skunk, I need that kind of color upkeep) was wearing on me, though…but I didn’t know just how much, until “the incident.”

Early one morning, we were headed out as a family to Six Flags, and I was hustling to try and get everything ready—including myself. I was at the point where I had just put product in my hair and was getting ready to wash my hands when my son called me into his room as though a limb had just fallen off. After immediately running in to check on him and learn that the crisis involved finding a particular shirt, I gave him a little what-for, and then promptly took what was left on my hands at the time he called me and ran it through my hair. There was just one tiny little problem.

In less than a moment, I had forgotten that what I had on my hands was not hair product but liquid hand soap.

By this time, my son had left the room and my husband stood there to see me begin to twitch and wail over this recent development. He offhandedly said, “What’s the big deal? Can’t you just rinse it out?” Well, what followed was an eruption of what I later realized was “latent hair anger.” It came bubbling forth like Mt. Vesuvius. My husband stood there slack-jawed as phrases like “you have no idea what it’s like to blow dry this hair every day!” and “not to mention that I have to color it every three weeks!” shot out of my mouth. He just slowly backed out of the room and said, “Uh, okay…I’m just gonna close the door and let you be for a while…” Wise man.

I realized in that moment that maybe it was time for a change. Very soon after that I got my hair cut to shoulder length. It still is a lot of hair, but it takes less time overall to care for. Long-hair phase #258 was now over.

But the gray issue was still to be figured out. There were several shades to it, though probably less than 50 (…sorry…like I was gonna talk about this and not make a bad pun about that damn book?) I went on a fact-finding mission about what it’s like for a woman to let her hair go gray. Pros: Freedom! Time! Money! No chemicals! Cons: The process is a bitch, and you’ll look way older.

I brought it up in conversation to numerous people to hear their opinions on it. Lots of opinions. Many, many opinions. They fell into two main categories: “I think you’d look good gray” vs “Are you out of your freakin’ mind?!” Lots of food for thought.

So, you may wonder…what was my decision? To table it. I’m blessed to have hair to color–this I know. So I’m going to keep calm and color brown. For now. But who knows? Maybe Hair Vesuvius will blow again and cause another change to happen.

Do you have an opinion on the matter? I thought just maybe you might.

Recipe for Success

Less than a month away from the start of 2013, many of us may be thinking about goal setting for the New Year. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have it all figured out. Yep. I have the recipe for success. It’s all about proper goal setting. I don’t mean to appear smug about this, but really…I have the answer. After years of living as me, I now know what I must do to be a success at something. And I’m pretty sure I have the answer for you, too.

Choosing what you are innately good at is key to my method, and my new goals will reflect this. Let me share with you some goals that I just know I will successfully achieve: I will gain weight. I will sleep less than I should. I will let myself be easily distracted, and—as an offshoot of this, I will watch more mindless youtube videos, particularly ones of ridiculously cute puppies. I will continue to undermine my short term memory by Googling anything and everything that crosses my mind.

See?!?! These are things I can achieve! In fact, these are things I am already doing—I just haven’t intended to! So what if I make them be things I am trying to do on purpose? Yes, these are simply horribly bad goals–but imagine the boost to self confidence that I will feel when I start knocking these goals off my list one-by-one! You go, girl! You are on fire! Who knows what I might be able to achieve with a string of successes under my ever-tightening belt?!

Of course, I am familiar with failure, and there is the slight chance that I might fail here, as well…and then what to do? Here’s the added bonus to my recipe for success: failure is even better! “Oh, darn…I’ve lost another pound this week. I have failed yet again.” Yes! Failure in this plan IS an option! It could result in a slim, well-rested, and more focused me! Failure would be the new success!

Feel free to use my exciting new method in achieving your goals, too! We could start a whole wave of people who are succeeding like never before! We could change the world!

Or not.