Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Letting the Man Do All the Work? I Can Dig It!

After seven years of marriage, I have found that the key to happiness truly is communication. I don’t just mean having open, honest dialogue. That’s okay, but the real key to a successful marriage is the identification of ‘who does what’. In other words, Jerry and I have made it this far because I have my responsibilities, and he has what I call ‘man-shit.’ It’s a wonderful catch-all, man-shit. I don’t do anything that relates to plumbing, electrical work, bug killing, or automotive work. It’s really better if I don’t try to do any man-shit. For example, I have no clue about tools. My idea of a hammer and screwdriver is a shoe with a hard sole and a butter knife. And in my girly world, there’s a regular screwdriver and a nubbly-headed screwdriver. All of my women friends understand. The men will just have to trust me.

So far, this arrangement has worked. I remember the time a spider got in our house. Jenda was playing in the floor and I was reading a book. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement and knew at once what it was. I called to Jenda and screamed, “RUN!” Being from South Florida, she got up and ran with no questions. That’s one of the big differences between Florida and North Carolina. In Florida, especially South Florida, when you see a bunch of people running, or someone tells you to run, you don’t stand around asking questions. You run like hell, and then when you’ve run a mile or two, you stop, catch your breath, and ask what the hell was happening. In North Carolina, everyone asks questions first, so you just have a big-ass turkey shoot. But I digress.

So I saw the spider, and Jenda and I ran upstairs. Jerry was in the shower singing ‘O Sole Mio’ or having an attack of Mad Cow Disease. Anyway, Jenda and I ran to the bathroom door and pounded on it until Jerry asked what was going on. I told him there was a spider downstairs.

No response.

Then, “I’m in the shower!”

DUH! Not anymore. Come kill this spider. NOW! So Jerry came out of the bathroom, wrapped in a towel, dripping soapy water everywhere and none too happy with me. He marched down the stairs, took a quick look around, and said, “I don’t see it.”

Well that’s because you’re going to have to hunt for him. So get to it! At any rate, he found and got rid of the spider, and then gave me a pissy look as he went back upstairs to finish his shower. Oh well, it came under the heading of man-shit.

We recently had a beautiful Sunday, so I decided it was a perfect day for gardening. In South Florida, the ground is really nothing but sand, so you could feasibly dig a huge hole using your bare hands. (I have done so, and I am really great at growing things in sand, believe me!) I decided to tackle the back yard and plant some trees. Here in North Carolina, the ground is clay. Hard clay. And after you dig through the red layer, you get down to this blue-grey thick, gummy stuff the likes of which I had never encountered.

After digging several holes myself, I decided my arms were about to give out, so I asked Jerry to dig one last hole for me in the front yard. That was my first of many mistakes that day. Jerry agreed to dig the hole so I was kneeling down in front of him, taking the tree out of the pot. Jerry was working the shovel into this nasty, gooey clay and the handle of the shovel snapped out of his hands and whacked me on the head with a resounding crack. I sank to the ground in a very painful heap. Of course in my altered state, I learned two things. First, those Hollywood movies where the villain hits the good guy over the head, and the good guy gets up and keeps slugging it out? That’s a bunch of crap. Second, I realized where Jimi Hendrix got the inspiration for some of his videos. Then, from far away, I could hear Jerry apologizing, asking if I was okay, and where our life insurance information was.

He helped me up and we made it into the house. He got Jenda’s little ‘Hello Kitty’ ice pack for my head and asked again if I was okay. Of course it was sheer bad luck that this happened the same weekend that poor Natasha Richardson died, so I promptly became hysterical and demanded to be taken to the nearest hospital. Jerry reminded me that there was hardly even a bump, the forehead is the hardest part of the body (Yeah, next to his heart) and he would keep an eye on me. Then Jenda became hysterical and wanted to know why Daddy was trying to kill Mommy, to which he replied that if he had been trying to kill me, he would have succeeded. He then let me go to sleep, which you should never do if you’ve had a blow to the head. So I’m not entirely convinced, but I’m trying to be REALLY super nice to him.

I finally went for a CT scan and everything is okay. I have added planting and gardening to the list of man-shit, so I take more of a supervisory role when it comes to spring planting. It works much better for me. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, (and I KNOW you are!) the shovel handle is fine. Thanks for asking!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shoes, Chauvinism, and Sensibility

There are certain things in life that I know that I will never come to terms with, such as the resurgence in popularity of hip-hugger, bell bottomed jeans, paying $4.00 at the Greensboro Coliseum for a bottle of Diet Pepsi, and Carrot Top. Still, while I can’t come to terms with these things, I have to accept them for what they are and move on with my life. As a mother, I am compelled to pass this wisdom along to Jenda. I am teaching her that sometimes in life, we have to take the good with the bad. In fact, I am teaching her the Serenity Prayer…

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I cannot accept….’

Or something like that.

Anyway, back to those things I can’t accept. Besides the fact that I still can’t squeeze my fat ass into the Levi’s I wore in college, I guess my biggest issue is with hatred. In that I mean hatred directed towards others. While I am encouraged at the strides we have made, I am still rendered speechless by the racism and bigotry that I encounter. Really, in the 21st century, hatred still finds a home. It’s like some disgusting, scuttling cockroach hiding in dark, secret places, but showing itself nonetheless, feeding, scurrying along, spreading disease, and unfortunately, multiplying. And trust me, coming from South Florida, I really hate cockroaches. Of course, if you become friendly with some of the really big ones, they can help you move furniture. Anyway….

The sad thing is that we could stamp out the hatred pestilence if we would take time to really stop and listen to others, really look at them and see them. I think hatred is just a lack of education, or as I like to call it, stupidity. I get disgusted with people who refer to other races by saying, “they all look alike” or, “I don’t hate (Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Gays, people with disabilities, whomever) but I sure don’t want them moving next door.” I spent many years on my soapbox, and I like to think that over the years, I have reached some people, but it becomes a matter of picking my battles carefully. Of course, being me, I don’t always pick the easiest ones, but I try to pick the ones that I can win or at least the ones where I can talk the other party into submission. I’m rather good at that.

I’m reminded of my husband Jerry asking me why I have so many pairs of brown shoes. This is a conversation that we have often, since I look at buying shoes as a form of retail therapy and it’s still cheaper than my co-pay. So Jerry asks, “Why the hell do you have so many brown shoes? And black shoes? And navy blue…?”

Well ding dang, they’re all different! I have loafers, pumps, moccasins, sandals, high heels, kitten heels and so on. They are all different styles, and they go with different things. For example, the loafers are great with jeans or business casual slacks. The sandals are for shorts. The boots are for wide leg pants, and---

“But Honey Bunny, let’s face it. They’re just shoes. Can’t you just have one pair of brown shoes to go with everything brown?”

Okay, how many pairs of khaki pants do you have?

“Well one has a flat front. The others are pleated, and one pair is carpenter pants and blah blah blah….”

For me that’s the crux of the matter. My shoes go with different outfits, and they suit me in different moods. They add something to my outfits, and they make me feel good about myself. (Well, except for those damn navy high heels from Aigner that look amazing but KILL my feet. Whatever.) Perhaps to some, it just looks like I am wearing whatever with brown shoes. Admittedly, some days, I feel that way myself. But the differences are there.

My task is to raise a child who sees not with the eyes, but with the heart and the mind. It probably won’t be an easy task, but she is turning into quite a little Diva so I am planning to try the shoe angle with her. Yes, there are bad people in this world. But the fact that their skin is a different color, or they weigh more or less than us, or they're gay or transgendered, or they’re differently-abled does not contribute to ‘badness.’ And where would it all end? Would we begin hating brunettes? Or fat people? Or in my case, God forbid, fat brunettes? I want to protect Jenda from hatred, in all its guises. I can show her what it looks like and how to avoid hurting other people. And the good news that it’s not hard to identify hatred.

It all looks alike to me.