Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don't watch me, watch the road!

                As my readers are among the most informed of the citizenry, you are no doubt familiar with the 10 and 2 rule for hand placement on a steering wheel, while driving.   Left hand at 10 o’clock; right hand at 2 o’clock.  I recently read where that has now been changed to 9 and 3 because of air bag deployment injuries.  As I try to complete all tasks in the optimal, efficient manner, I specifically watched where I placed my hands when behind the wheel of my snazzy Sonata.  My rule, while it works for me, is not as succinct as 10 and 2; mine is left knee and 5.  Not an easy thing to yell at someone navigating the Pennsylvania road system for the first time, in the dark.  Not that I would do that.  At least not again.  Sorry, Christopher.

                While my hand placement may not work for everyone it works for me quite well. I only need to have one hand on the wheel as I am a very good driver and not in the 'Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man' sort of way.  I am skilled at navigating our nation's roadways with my right hand at 5 o'clock.  I need, do you hear me, NEED to have my left hand free to perform any number of motions from gesturing (both Christian and not so) to directing the imaginary orchestra playing through my synced Bluetooth iPhone situation of some sort, according to the 11 year-old who sold me my car.

                Outside of the conducting, there are other moments of necessary choreography such as snaps, claps, nose scratches, hair touch-ups and the like.  Now I don’t do any actual movements that would take my eyes off the road, no matter what others may say viciously behind my back (Will and Matt and, after last Thursday night, Chandra and Alice).  Lies, I tell you!

                In these times, it is sadly more common than I would like to see many of my fellow motorists driving while do all manner of inappropriate things.  Like the young lady who was semi-successfully navigating Highway 101 beside us as several friends and I made our way into The City for dinner and a show (Beach Blanket Babylon.  It was completely over the top.  Go see it!).  Like other multi-tasking trailblazers, this modern-day Sacajawea was attempting to flat-iron her hair and drive.  Don’t get me wrong, her flat-ironing skills were not in question; she was doing her hair.  Her ability to operate semi-heavy machinery (her Corolla was bigger than a bread box but only just) whilst hair-doing was not as strong.  I daresay she is the intended audience for some of those ridiculous instructions you find on items such as “Do not use in the shower” on a blow-dryer or “Not to be eaten while seated on a toilet” which I have had to handwrite on all food containers in my home.  And speaking of toilets...

                One of the downsides of a life history is a sense of familiarity that breeds not only contempt, but a casualness that I find off-putting, at times.  Case in point, I was cooking last Saturday and after fending off an overly curious volunteer food taster, I realized that my house was quiet; calm before the storm quiet.  Having a 72-year old toddler at home, I know the need for oversight so I wandered toward his bedroom, under the guise of dusting, to uncover the activity to which he was up.  To my horror and regret, I found him seated on his throne, as it were.  With the door open as wide as the great outdoors, and twice as fragrant.  I swallowed all my sarcasm and disgust and said, very politely I might add, “I’m just…going to…um…yeah” as I shut the door.   Moving very slowly and specifically as to not agitate the molecules in the immediate vicinity, I metaphorically fled back to the kitchen.  I would have been more verbose but withholding that much judgment takes a lot of effort, y’all. 
                Did I forget to mention that my sister had a classmate in high school in Texas who had a curling iron that ran on butane?  No?  Well, that's a story for another time.

                And that is all I’m saying.

Monday, January 13, 2014

I did say I wanted everything to be thinner...

                I’m sitting at the dining room table, eating breakfast and reading the news on my phone when my father walks up and stands beside me as if he is about to embrace me around the shoulders.  I stay very still lest I wake what I am assuming is a sleep-walking redneck. 

                The Dad has never been one for demonstrations of emotion; he hugged me about three times that I can remember: when I became a Christian, when my mother died and, well I can't remember the other one; I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.  “Men don’t hug; men shake hands” is the motto of the Thompson men or so I’ve been told on numerous occasions.

                So he’s looking down at me and he reaches to place his hand on my head as if he is going to tousle my hair, like on one of those commercials.  Like someone who has just become aware of a wild animal in their midst, I am unsure of what to do except remain very still, hold my breath and commence praying.  He lifts a few strands of my hair and says, “Boy, you’re hair sure is thinner since you got skinny!”

                A Hallmark moment this is not. 

                But he is correct.  For whatever reason, a typical side effect of gastric bypass surgery is hair loss; not in clumps, mind you, but thinning.  I have always had very thick hair.  It wasn’t something that I liked as it wouldn’t ‘do right’ when I entered the hallowed halls of high school and was desperate for awesome MTV hair.  I tried to wrestle those tresses into a semblance of Flock of Seagulls’ bangs but it ended up more like Exploding Nest of Pigeon.  Sponsored by AquaNet®, of course. It was just so big and , well, un-pretty, y'all.  And that was long before those TLC girls had that song that was so good in that Glee mash-up with that other song the sister thought about singing in ‘Dirty Dancing’ but then didn’t.  Exactly three of you know what I’m talking about; please help the others.

                However, my hair is not thinning like other men my age,.  It's still ample enough to cover my head in all it's pumpkin-esque glory.  I don't think I'm going to be bald; however,  truth be told, my mother’s father was careening towards a bald spot when he died in his mid-50s.  I’ve been told that bald traits come from the mother’s side of the family.  Everything else on my body is from my Dad’s side: weird feet, short legs, no butt and a complexion the same shade of pink as a canned ham.  Yay me.

                Of course, as I have mentioned, my father has been follicly-blessed similar to such Hair Hall of Famers as Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty and Slim Whitman.  His hair used to be orange, then faded to a deep red and now is the same boring brown as mine; he calls it chicken doody.  Well, actually my Mother used to call it that.  My father’s salty tongue referred to it as something that I’ll leave to the ages.  It’s for your own protection, people. 

                The Dad then proceeded to take his hat off and combs his fingers through his hair and says, “You need to have you a real haircut like mine.” 

                I replied, “They’ve outlawed bear grease, Dan Tucker, but thanks for the tip.”  However, I will say that the hair products these days have gotten to be a bit much.  During high school when I was growing more out than up, and attempting to grow out my bangs, we had things like hair spray or mousse or gel.  That was it.  You had either AquaNet ® or LA Looks ® or Dippity-Doo®.  At least that’s what they had a The Wal-Mart.  Oh, who am I kidding, I coveted those who go to shop at The Wal-Mart.  I had to deal with what they had at Hudson’s Salvage Center, which is where we shopped when I was in high school in Mississippi.  You buy your products, take them home and wipe the mud, dirt or smoke damage from the outside of the bottle and you were just like everybody else on the TV.  Darn tootin’!

                These days I’ve moved onto something called Bumble and Bumble’s Sumotech lo-gloss elastic moulding compound.  It sounds like something that would have earned you honorable mention at a science fair.  And it’s only $27 for 1.5 ounces.  I guess I’m paying for the added ‘u’ in moulding.  From what I remember Dippity-Doo® was $1 for a 5 gallon bucket complete with neon purple application trowel.  I could be wrong; my memory, like the AquaNet® bubble that surrounded my house, is a bit hazy.

                And that is all I’m saying.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Are jumper cables made of licorice?

                I realize that expecting someone wearing cranberry chinos and paisley button down, baking brie en croute to resolve your automotive dilemma is typically far-fetched but if you know me, you know that I’ve got plenty of tricks up my color-coordinated sleeve.

                I’m standing in the kitchen by the oven waiting for my brie to finish so I can drizzle raspberry preserves in preparation for the return of Downton Abbey.  A fabulous British TV show is an excuse for fancy snacks, n'est ce pas?  I was removing them from the oven when my father walks in and at the end of a string of profanities asks if Greg was in town.  Greg, as you may remember, is one of the few of my friends (and on my management team at work) to rate a passing grade from my father.  Granted The Dad likes most of my friends but prefers Greg based mostly on the fact that he looks as if he is a Hell’s Angel on his way to court when he’s dressed for work.  Dustin’s corner of the federal government is a well-dressed corner, people.  I’m making the world more attractive one pocket square at a time. Your tax dollars at work. He is one of the nicest people I know but his size and girth are intimidating to say the least.

                When I ask why, I am met with an exasperated, “Just find out if he’s busy.”

                When I insist on knowing the reason to bother someone on a Sunday, The Dad says, “My truck won’t crank.  The batt-rys dead.”

                My response, “Well I can fix that” was met with a look similar to the one Lulu the dog has when she sees herself in the mirror: confusion followed by amusement.

                I ignore the look and state, “Give me a minute to drizzle the preserves and I’ll get your jumper cables”.  He stares and asks what brie is. 

                My response was “Fancy cheese you don’t like so put it down”, as he tried to pretend he hadn’t just burned his fingers trying to grab a piece before I could stop him.

                Now I realize that you may be skeptical that someone who owns as many pairs of colored chinos as I (with a propensity to say “cranberry” instead of “red”) would have, at their disposal, the skills or tools to perform such a task.  However, as we have discussed previously, I am a unique animal; one who didn’t necessarily enjoy the absorption or demonstration of said knowledge. 
               A life spent in the boonies with cars of questionable age and quality will very quickly familiarize you with the information on how to "jump off" a car, how to push a standard shift truck down a hill to get it going, how to convince someone that 'bondo' and 'primer' really are color options and that prayer can sometimes work as an alternative fuel.

                Once he saw that I wasn’t kidding about the jumper cables or the brie, he followed me outside and I proceeded to take control of the situation, gathering the necessary tools and assigning tasks.  Like Vanilla Ice said, ‘give me a problem;  yo, I’ll solve it.”  Yes, I am more than slightly embarrassed how quickly that reference came tip-tap-typing out of my fingers.  Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen, shall we, and get back to the issue at hand.  My reputation was at stake, people.  Focus!

                When I told him to stop trying to push his truck out of the garage until I moved my car, he groused, ‘This is ‘xactly why I wanted Greg.  You're too bossy.”

                I replied, “I’m trying to fix this with the least amount of dirt and sweat.  You’re decrepit and I’m over-dressed.   Humor the preppy, okay?”

                Once we had situated the vehicles, excavated the jumper cables from the deep recesses of his “king cab” (along with contraband Mt. Dew bottles and Wendy’s wrappers, which earned him a condescending head shake from me and my mother in heaven, I feel sure) we hooked up the cables, he cranked his truck and it awoke from its slumber.  I did a small victory dance…in my head.

                As he prepared to move his truck back into the garage, I suggested he go ahead and get gas tonight so the battery would have time to  get a little workout and he wouldn’t have to fight traffic in the morning.  He is scheduled to blatantly lie to several medical professionals tomorrow about his diet, glucose readings and bowel movements.  In layman’s terms he has a doctor’s appointment but as I have attended with him in the past, I can assure you my previous statement is accurate.

                When he returned from “gittin’ gas”, he walked past me to his bedroom.  I followed him and said, “You’re welcome.”

                He laughed and said, “For what?”

                “I fixed your truck, old man.  While wearing chocolate suede wingtips.”

                “Hmpf.  You think you’re sumthin’ else, dontcha?”

                “Yes, yes I do.”

                “And why cain’t you just say brown ‘stead of choc-lit?”

                “Chocolate is more descriptive; like saying raspberry instead of pink or eggnog instead of winter white.”

                “I know you think you’re fancy, but it sounds to me like you’re just hungry.”

                “Touche, pater, touché.”
                 And that is all I'm saying.