Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Romantic Little Things He Does

The message board for TARA members recently had a long, fascinating thread on all the romantic little things our husbands do to keep passion alive in our marriages.

I found myself going in the wrong direction with my contribution, saying lame backhanded stuff like, “He cooks dinner half the time, but I do the cleaning up all the time.”

And little does he know that I would cheerfully be his wildest fantasy sex slave for life, if only he’d keep the gas tank filled. He was running on fumes and letting the car die in the middle of the road long before high prices made it fashionable.

Let’s see if I can do better here: Instead of rattling off what I wish he’d do (more popularly known as nagging), what are some of the romantic little things he’s already done to keep me from running off with the pizza delivery guy?

1. On my birthday right after we married, he decorated our apartment with streamers and balloons and gave me a great big ice cream cake, because I never had anything like that when I was a child.

2. Whenever he buys me clothes, especially nightgowns, he always buys them in blue because he knows that’s my favorite color. (Yes, he also did my website/blog.)

3. Last fall, he bought me a three foot high jasmine tree because I love jasmine (I find the scent wonderfully intoxicating). I was heartbroken when the dog managed to dig it up only a week later, and Mr. Lucky said it couldn’t be saved as the roots had dried out very quickly. The place where he bought it didn’t have any more, so he embarked on a quest and found another one at a nursery about 30 miles away. When he planted that one, he put rocks around it and one of those decorative border fences to dogproof it, despite my demands for an enclosure to rival the Berlin Wall. The tree is still there, and it recently exploded with blossoms.

4. Sometimes he comes home and surprises me with either a Banana Royale from Baskin-Robbins, or a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, made with my favorite flavors. I never care if they’re partially melted. It’s still ice cream!

5. If he’s channel surfing and stumbles across a documentary having to do with royalty (a passion of mine), he tells me and lets me have the TV to watch it.

6. He says I look much better with long hair than short.

7. He watches movies and mini-series based on Jane Austen novels with me, and always manages to stay awake—because he likes them.

8. For our fifteenth wedding anniversary, he gave me a ladybug pin, because he hadn’t forgotten the time that two ladybugs landed on me, and I thought it was a sign of good luck to come—and only two days later, he proposed marriage to me. He thought the ladybug pin would bring me luck with my writing—and sure enough, only a few months later I sold True Pretenses.

9. And when I sold it, he told everybody he knew, and he surprised me by mounting and framing the cover flat himself.

10. Most importantly, he taught me to stand up for myself and not let other people push me around.

Could any of these be considered “romantic little things” that keep the spark in our marriage, or is this just a dress rehearsal for the day we might have to attend one of those “Save-Your-Marriage-In-One-Weekend” retreats, where I’ll be told to go off by myself and make a list of ten things he’s done right?

They do keep the pizza guy at bay.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Politics of Pantyhose

The wife of a presidential candidate recently revealed that she’d stopped wearing pantyhose a long time ago. She can’t wear them without ripping them, due to her height of 5’11”.

I can vouch for this. I’m also 5’11”, and I have the same problem. In fact, anything to do with dressing my legs and feet is a hassle because of my height, but today we’re talking pantyhose.

Forget the size charts on the pantyhose packages, which I’ve never been able to decipher anyway. I just look for the biggest size I can find. Ideally, this would be “Extra Plus Amazon Empress—Official Pantyhose of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team!”

I open the package and pull out something that looks as if it wouldn’t fit a Barbie doll. I pull them on and the crotch barely clears my knees. If I try to pull any harder or higher, it splits into a hole bigger than the waistband. This prevents me from wearing shorter skirts than I’d like.

Karen, have you ever tried garters and stockings? They’re so sexy!

Again, the height gets in the way. The trick is finding garters long enough and stockings that stretch high enough to meet on the upper thigh. When I tried to seduce my husband with garters and stockings, he wondered why I was wearing knee-highs.

“I’m not wearing knee-highs,” I replied. “These are supposed to go up to my thighs—the package said ‘one size fits all’—but they don’t reach because my legs are too long.”

“I see. And what are all those big diamond-shaped holes?”

“It’s fishnet,” I said. “It’s just stretched so tight because of my height.”

“That’s fishnet?” he asked in amazement. “Just how big a fish are you hoping to catch? A whale could slip through that.”

The garters, meanwhile, were stretched so taut that he could pluck “Dueling Banjos” on them. And that was the sexy, romantic evening that spiced up our marriage.

Karen, it’s the 21st century, and we've come a long way! Try spray-on pantyhose!

I’ll confess I haven’t tried this, in part because of my experience with “sunless tanning” that made me look like a giant carrot. Rabbits gathered and multiplied outside the house for a week.

I assume that despite its name, spray-on pantyhose shouldn’t be sprayed on the “panty part.” The trick would be to apply it evenly, so my legs don’t have a “dappled tan” look. I imagine it’s a lot of fun trying to do the backs of the legs—not too unlike the old days, when ladies’ stockings had back seams and our grandmothers had to contort themselves trying to get those seams straight.

Hm, maybe we've come a long way, but I’m not sure we’ve come all that far.

But if I can go bare-legged in shorts, then why not in a skirt? Do I dare?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day to Mr. Lucky!

Since none of our special needs children are able to write the usual “Why My Dad is the World’s Greatest” essays that win him gift cards to hardware and sporting goods stores, I will attempt to compose a little something on their behalf.

To Mr. Lucky:

Our oldest son thinks you’re pretty cool because you take him to the movies and
Busch Gardens, where he gets to ride on the train and get wet on the “circle boat” (Congo River Rapids), and “rectangle boat” (Tanganyika Tidal Wave).

You’re our daughter’s hero, because during all those weeks when she was in the hospital, you watched all those Pokemon videos with her (to include the baffling
Pikachu’s Vacation), and you went all the way out to CiCi’s every day to get her the cheese pizza she loved, so she wouldn’t have to eat that other stuff the hospital called “food.”

Our youngest son looks up to you as the Bringer of Donuts, the Unlocker of Locked-Up Computers, the Parent Most Easily Conned, and the Only Thing Standing Between Baby Bear and the Total Insanity That is Mom.

I cannot imagine a better father for my children. I could not do any of this without you.

I love you!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In Which Baby Bear Locks Karen Out of the House

Baby Bear has figured out how to unlock the sliding glass door, so Mr. Lucky cut a two-by-four to fit into the bottom runner. It doesn’t just drop in; it has to be carefully worked in.

Last night, while Mr. Lucky was at work, I opened the sliding glass door so the dogs could go into the backyard to do their business. I went out there with them because otherwise, they’d head for their secret escape route under the fence. (I think they’re squeezing out under the gate, but Mr. Lucky doesn’t think that’s possible because the gate is locked both top and bottom.)

After a few moments, I noticed Baby Bear was at the door, his nose and lips pressed against the glass. Since I can’t lock the door from the outside, I thought it quite odd that he was making no attempt to come running out as he usually does. I pulled on the door handle. It didn’t budge.

He must've locked it. I pointed to it and yelled at him to unlock it.

He laughed and danced. I pounded on the glass and yelled some more. He finally clicked the lock, I pulled on the door handle, and . . . it didn’t budge.

Did he unlock it, only to quickly lock it again? After more yelling and pounding on my side of the glass, and more laughing and dancing on his side, he clicked the lock again as I quickly seized the door handle and . . . it still didn’t budge.

That’s when I noticed, to my horror, that the two-by-four had been neatly placed into the runner behind the other glass panel. The little sneak had figured it out!

More yelling and pounding and pointing ensued, this time all of it directed to the two-by-four. Bear tapped his toes on it a few times, but showed no inclination to remove it. He was thoroughly enjoying this.

I was not. I was trapped in the backyard, and I was panic-stricken. It was dusk, I could hear thunder in the distance, and Mr. Lucky wasn’t due home for another four hours. My only consolation was there was nothing in the oven or on the stove.

The windows were all closed and locked from the inside. I was barefoot and wearing a tank top and very short shorts, so I wasn’t exactly dressed for scaling the six foot high wooden fence that enclosed the yard. Besides, there was nothing to boost me over but an unsturdy patio chair, and the table was too heavy to drag from the patio to the fence. The gate was secured with a padlock that required a key. But even if I did find a way out of the backyard--there was a shovel handy, so I suppose I could've dug my way out, like the dogs--I still wouldn’t be able to get in the house because the garage and front door were also locked, and my keys were inside the house.

Wouldn’t you know it? Believe it or not, I usually keep my keys with me, even around the house, for Baby Bear’s safety and security. I should probably get one of those things my father used to have, that you clip to your waistband and you pull the keys out on a chain. Or a big giant ring, like a medieval dungeon master (or in this case, mistress).

A key is needed to unlock our front door from the inside as well as the outside, to keep Baby Bear from running off never to be heard from again. I read too many heartbreaking stories in the news about autistic children exactly like him, who slip out of the house while their parents are distracted, only to meet tragic ends. He couldn’t let me in through the front door even if he wanted to.

After about ten minutes, he seemed satisfied that I’d completed my transformation into a total basket-case, so he pulled out the two-by-four, allowing me and the dogs back into the house.

If that wasn't enough, when Mr. Lucky came home from work shortly before midnight, I had to unlock the front door for him, because he’d locked his own keys in the car, along with his cell phone. Imagine if Baby Bear still hadn’t removed the two-by-four!

This isn’t the first time one of my little darlings has locked me out—or in. About ten years ago, Fiona locked me in her older brother’s bedroom while her dad was out on an errand. Neither she nor the Crown Prince would let me out, despite all my screaming and hammering on the door. And I didn’t have my keys with me that time, either; so even if I went out the window, I still couldn’t get back into the house. I had to wait for Mr. Lucky to return, which he did about half an hour later.

At least he didn’t lock his own keys in the car that time!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

In Praise of Cats

Baby Bear’s Newest Trick: Spitting Spaghetti! This is what happens when you don’t keep Silly String in the house. If only the red sauce splattered all over the walls didn’t make my dining room look like a crime scene.

I told Mr. Lucky to put the dogs out while we ate dinner. I don’t know why he doesn’t do that as a matter of routine, since he spends half the meal ordering the dogs to get away from the table.

As soon as he was done eating, he left to go to work. I cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher before letting the dogs back inside. I opened the back door, and they were nowhere to be seen.

They’d escaped. The entire back yard is fenced in, yet I couldn’t find a hole anywhere, unless they’d secretly been working on one beneath the air conditioning unit a la
The Great Escape.

I whistled, though I’m not a very good whistler. I yelled. I cursed. Not a single dog came running back. I was going to have to go out and chase them down before some surly neighbor yelled at me for letting the dogs run loose, as they (the dogs as well as the surly neighbors) are wont to do if Mr. Lucky isn’t at home.

I had to chase down three dogs, and I had to do it on foot. Mr. Lucky recently sold his playboyish Buick Riviera, because it requires premium unleaded and in recent months has done nothing but sit in the driveway looking snazzy. After some discussion we decided we could get by with one car.

The dogs obviously listened in, took note, and hatched their fiendish plot.

Only I couldn’t chase down three dogs and a boy who always runs in the opposite direction from where I want to go, casting off every article of clothing he wears as he makes his mad dash to the nearest dangerous place. So I did something I really don’t like doing—I apologized to Baby Bear, assured him it was for his own safety and my sanity, and locked him in his room.

As I pulled the dog’s leashes out of the hall closet, already the house was shaking from Baby Bear’s pounding thumps of protest. Certainly I could have left him loose in the house and just locked the front door, but then the ensuing damage would be more widespread, and the possible injury to himself more serious. At least this way any disaster would be contained.

We’re in Florida and it’s ninety degrees shortly before 6 pm. I’m not dressed to be seen outside the house, at least not by my standards. I haven’t even had the chance to check my teeth to make sure there are no bits of basil or parsley stuck in the gumline. I have to remember not to smile if I meet anyone.

At least I got some much needed exercise. I swiftly walked all around the block in search of those dogs, but didn’t see them anywhere. I cut through several yards, and crashed a couple of backyard barbecues and pool parties. On my way back to my house, I finally spotted them in the next door neighbor’s yard—the first place I’d checked, as the neighbor (who wasn’t home at the time) keeps a yappy little dog chained up in their lanai.

I rounded up the dogs, put them on the leashes and took them home, where Baby Bear had kicked a new hole in the drywall in his room—and this only six hours after a parent-teacher conference at his school, where Mr. Lucky asserted that Bear hadn't damaged any walls in quite a long time.

He forgot to knock on wood when he said that.

At 8:30 pm that same evening, the dogs were agitating to go back into the yard, presumably to do doggie business. I let them out and went to check on Bear. I swear not more than two minutes went by before I went into the backyard to discover all three dogs were gone again.

Lock up the boy. Grab the leashes. Venture into the neighborhood as dusk is falling. I found two dogs. The other returned on his own a half hour later. I didn’t let them out again until Mr. Lucky came home, and determined that they’d dug a new hole under the fence.

“How could they have dug a hole in less than two minutes?” I asked. “I swear they were out there less than two minutes when they escaped.”

“I guess they’ve been working on it for some time,” he replied. Just like in the movie.

“But if it isn’t under the A/C unit, then why didn’t I see it anywhere at the 6 pm breakout?”

Mr. Lucky couldn’t answer that. But can three beagles dig an escape route that quickly?