HOW TO GET FIRED AS A HOUSE-SITTER

“Sure, I can watch your house for you while you are out of town for a few days.”

I was flattered when my neighbors asked. I could handle this. No problem. I waved cheerily as I watched them drive away.

Hmmm, I thought, maybe I should go over there and make sure that the key they gave me works. I don’t think they will mind if I look around  bit. After all, I am doing them a favor.

Wow, look at all the food in their pantry! It’s a little disorganized. They probably would appreciate it if I straightened things up a bit.

While I am at it, I may as well eat this bag of potato chips. They will be outdated before she gets back. She wouldn’t want to eat stale chips. Also I will do her a favor and eat these cookies. She could stand to lose a few pounds. She’ll thank me later.

I roamed through the house, leaving a trail of cookie crumbs, which I did not notice until I had ground them into the carpet. I found a sponge and some cleaning fluid under the sink and scrubbed the cookie stains. It worked. The stains were gone. Unfortunately so was all the color from the carpet.

I moved their recliner over the spot. Maybe they won’t notice. I didn’t like the way they had arranged their furniture anyway. It did not promote good traffic flow. I’ll just move the piano over here and the TV into this corner. That’s better.

Uh-oh. I have gouged the wall and chipped the paint.That’s okay; I don’t like the color anyway. I found some vivid purple enamel in the basement and repainted the living room. In my opinion it looked much better. Oops. I spattered some paint on their white sofa. It’s their fault. Who buys a white sofa!? They should have known that it would show every little flaw. I moved a throw pillow over it. They will never notice it. Maybe they will be preoccupied by their admiration of all my improvements.

Drat! I got some paint on my shirt. Maybe there is something in her closet I can wear. I’ll put it back before they return.

Ooh, look! Her wedding dress! How beautiful! She won’t mind if I wear it just for today. It is not like she is going to wear it again anyway. Uh-oh. It’s a size four! I think I can make it work. It made me feel like a princess.

Boy, were they mad when she got home! I was still wearing the wedding dress, mainly because the zipper broke when I tried to zip it up and I couldn’t  get it off. It was covered with food stains. My bulging midriff had popped the seams, probably because I had eaten the rest of their groceries.

She will be even more surprised when she washes her hair and finds out that I have added hair dye to her shampoo. She will make a much better looking brunette. She will thank me later.

Nine months from now, there may be a little addition to their family. I found her packet of birth control pills and replaced them with vitamins. In my opinion they have waited long enough to start a family.

Once they get over the shock, do you think they will name the baby after me?

 

 

 

TIME TRAVELING TROUBLE MAKER

When lightning struck the clock tower in town, I took advantage of the opportunity to jump into my classic DeLorean and alter history. With the aid of some stolen plutonium, I was able to coax the necessary 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the flux capacitor and off I soared into the past.

The people of the world know little of the huge debt of gratitude they owe me for my selective interference in matters which have shaped our present and our future.

It was I who stopped Dr. Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, from throwing away the moldy orange in his lunchbox. Millions of lives have been saved as a result. you’re welcome.

It was unfortunate that not all of my contacts heeded my advice. I advised Abraham Lincoln to stay out of theaters. I gave the same advice to Pee Wee Herman (you younger folks will have to Google that one). Alas, neither of them took my advice.

I was feeling a bit mischievous on my last visit to the past. I told Elvis Presley, “Forget about Rock and Roll. It is a passing fad. Your fame and fortune lies in…(pausing for effect and whispering in his ear)…German Polka music. Take my word for it.”

I whispered into the ear of the English Composition professor at Stratford-on-Avon in the 16th century, “Give your student William Shakespeare a grade of ‘C’ on his first assignment on sonnets. Take a red quill pen and write in the margin of his test paper, ‘You have no talent for this format. Try something simpler.'”

When I met an optometrist in Paris in 1900, I discovered, as we all expected, that his patient, young Pablo Picasso, had a severe astigmatism which distorted his vision. I instructed the optometrist to fit him with a new pair of eyeglasses, which enabled Picasso to paint in the more popular realistic style. Picasso’s delight and gratitude was heartwarming.

When I returned from my time travels, I rummaged through the two-dollar discount bin at the local music store and found a CD of “Elvis Presley’s Greatest Hits for Accordion,” which included his only money-makers, “Roll Out the Barrel” and “The Beer Barrel Polka.”

At the local book store, I found a book called “The Complete and Unabridged Collection of Limericks by Billy Shakespeare.” It had a clearance sticker marked $3. The local high school’s English Department had never heard of him.

Pablo Picasso, who died in poverty and obscurity, left behind his life’s work: thousands of unsold pastoral landscapes, which now sell at flea markets for ten bucks each, including the frame.

Oops. Sorry.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau in town needs $50,000 to repair the lightning damaged clock tower. With the aide of the Sports Record book that I brought back from the future, and one phone call to my bookie, I should have that raised in no time. It is the least I can do.

 

 

 

PAMPERED LIARS LOST IN THE WILDERNESS

Our goal was to survive by our wits. Some of us were only half-wits and had to pair up in order to amass one full wit.

It began when I read an article about a man who was the first amputee to scale Mount Everest. You have to admire the tenacity, the courage, and the sense of adventure it must have taken a one-legged man to attempt such a rigorous challenge.

I was so impressed by his feat (no pun intended) that when some friends of mine asked me to join them on a four-day hiking trip in the Smokies, in spite of the fact that none of us had any any wilderness camping experience, I eagerly agreed.

The hardships we endured, the deprivation, the mental anguish and physical hardships made our trip every bit as awe-inspiring as that amputee’s.

We intended to rough it, so we took only essential supplies. Well, okay, I took my moisturizer. That mountain air wreaks havoc with my dry skin.

The first day out, we camped by a mountain stream. Using the safety pin from my underwear and a shoestring, I landed an eight-pound trout. We cooked it over a campfire which we started by rubbing two sticks together until the effort ignited a pile of dry moss. We gradually added small twigs and progressively larger logs we had hacked from fallen trees with a nail file.

Well, okay, to be perfectly honest, we used a couple of matches. Oh, all right, we used an instant light Duraflame brand log and one of those grill lighting sticks.

And maybe it wasn’t exactly an eight pound trout, either, but we definitely caught it ourselves, sort of. My friend Margaret waited in the bushes until a troop of Cub Scouts passed by. Just like in the wilds of Africa, she picked off the weakest of the herd, chased him down and stole the McDonald’s fish filet sandwich he was carrying. Margaret tossed the fish to me, so technically I “caught” a fish. But we ate it without tartar sauce, and if that is not deprivation, I do not know what is.

The rest of the trip, we foraged for nuts and berries. It was tough. We nearly starved to death, but we were determined to subsist solely on whatever Mother Nature provided. Well, okay, it was Mother Nature’s Country Bake Shoppe in Gatlinburg, but we did eat nuts and berries. The nuts were in the pecan pie and the berries were in shortcake, but we skipped the whipped cream.

Well, Patricia had the whipped cream, but I definitely didn’t. After all, this trip was to be a test of endurance and mental fortitude. I had the pecan pie a la mode, but I had only one scoop of ice cream. Okay, it was two scoops, but I drank the coffee black, and I hate it that way.

Our trip was fraught with perils. As a result, we all returned with grievous injuries.

On the second day of our adventure, Patricia sustained a broken rib and nearly drowned when she slipped on a mossy rock while bathing in a babbling brook. Well, maybe it wasn’t a mossy rock. It was a bar of soap. And it wasn’t exactly a babbling brook; it was the scummy shower at Monty’s Mountain Lodge.

Truthfully, the rib was not really broken; it was just bruised. It was terrifying to be injured out in the wild and unable to get help. Well, we did have a cell phone, but as a matter of principle, we did not use it. Okay, I used it once to call my stock broker.

Margaret broke her arm when she caught it between two boulders while mountain climbing and Mary nearly was electrocuted when she was struck by lightning.

To be perfectly honest, Margaret wasn’t exactly mountain climbing. She was reaching for the Cheetos she had hidden under the bed at the lodge. Her arm got caught in the bed springs. Snapped it like a twig.

Mary’s near electrocution was not caused by lightning; it was caused by a short in her curling iron, but there was lightning in the general vicinity at the time.

I sustained the worst injury of all when I was attacked and viciously mauled by a huge, black bear. Well, okay, he was not exactly huge; more like medium sized. And he didn’t exactly maul me. He sort of cuffed me around and then bit my leg, ripping it open from thigh to ankle.

Oh, all right, it wasn’t really a bear; it was a toothless, old, three-legged Chihuahua on a leash. He latched onto my ankle and gummed it until he had to be pulled off with a wet “pop” like the rubber suction cup on the tip of a toy dart.

It left a nasty looking hickey on my ankle. His rhinestone collar scratched my ankle until I looked as if I had been strolling barefoot through a briar patch.

From now on, I am leaving the wilderness adventures to the one-legged mountain climbers of the world. I am telling you, that wilderness is fraught with danger!

 

MY REPRODUCTIVE EGGS ARE WAY PAST THEIR EXPIRATION DATE

It seems there is no limit to the things that can be purchased online. I have seen on an online auction oddities like already-worn and soiled underwear, a young man’s virginity, and a 65 million year old skeleton of a T-rex.

I also saw that several super models are offering their eggs online for thousands of dollars.

For now, I am more interested in buying than selling.

I found a website where a few clicks of the mouse will allow a shopper to try on and purchase clothing without ever having to leave the house. No more dealing with the traffic or facing the dreaded dressing room mirrors. This is for me!

After answering a series of questions about hair cut and color, facial features, and body shape, a virtual model is created which looks remarkably like the at-home shopper. A variety of clothing items are shown. The model can be directed to try on specific clothing, then make a full turn, showing the model and her outfit from all angles. Another click and the outfit is ordered, charged to the shopper and shipped to her home.

I named my look-alike model Vivian. I spent hours dressing her up and parading her up and down her virtual street. It was just like the Barbie doll days of my youth.

I began to live vicariously through my alter ego Vivian. I rarely left the house. When we, I mean she, was not modeling, the vivacious Vivian earned a living as a street vendor of vivid violets. Vivian, who was valedictorian of her class (hey, this is my virtual reality. get off my back!), occasionally visited her boyfriend Victor, the violin virtuoso, who was a Vietnam vet and owned a Volvo dealership on Valley View Viaduct Boulevard in the village.

Vivian was a virgin, although we, I mean she, occasionally let the virile Victor kiss her on the Victorian veranda. (I thought that was a body part until I Googled it).

One day, while Vivian was modeling the velvet vest I had ordered, I thought I detected some movement of her virtual lips. I enlarged her image and turned up the volume, only to hear her sneer at me through the computer screen, “Were you kidding with that hideous skirt you ordered for us last week? Didn’t you check out our rear view? We looked like the 18th green at the local golf course. Why don’t you lay off the donuts, Lady? And could you possibly be any more boring?!” she asked sarcastically.

“Look, Vivian,” I said, “You just try on the clothes and do whatever I tell you to do! I am running the show here.”

There was no controlling her after that. Every time I logged on, she had become more rebellious. Eventually Virtual Vivian had become a vision of vulgarity; a vixen without virtue. She began to hang out at the corner of cyber Hollywood and Vine, smoking Viceroys and guzzling vino provided by her pimp, Vince, the former vaudevillian ventriloquist from Virginia. There were rumors that Vince had a police record of violent crimes and vehicle vandalism.

Vivian had become vain and thought she was too good to model for me. The money was inadequate to support her desired lifestyle.

Soon she was performing in vulgar videos wearing nothing but a Viking helmet. She shed her virtue like cheap veneer. In short, she had become a cyber slut. I had created a monster.

After that, she refused to wear the clothing I had selected for us and I had to give up internet shopping.

That was when I remembered the super models and their unique, money raising, egg selling scheme. I could do that. I have eggs. All it would take was a phone call and I could become rich.

“Hello? Is this the internet auction site? Yes? Okay, I heard about the super models selling their eggs for big bucks and I want in on the action. I have a dozen large eggs in an attractive styrofoam container. One of them is slightly cracked and I used two to make a Denver omelet last Sunday. I paid $1.49 at the grocery store, but I would expect a decent profit. How about fifty bucks? After all,if the super models can get…”

“Ma’am,” she said, “Not chicken eggs! We need human reproductive eggs. They are purchased by  potential parents who are hoping to produce exceptionally beautiful babies.”

“Oh, I see,” I answered. “Well, at my age,most of my reproductive eggs are way past their expiration date. How much do you think potential parents will pay for the eggs of an average looking older lady with flat feet, poor eyesight and hearing, and a slight overbite? Hello? Ma’am?”

I believe we have been disconnected. That happens to me a lot.

 

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!

That guy whose job it is to guess the age and weight of carnival patrons is the bravest man I know. Whenever I see one, I am surprised that he does not have a black eye and a shortage of teeth.

As a life-long dieter, I managed to keep the secret number from even my husband for about 30 years, until he was at a doctor’s visit with me. I made him turn his back while I was on the scale (as usual). Then while the doctor was discussing health issues with me, the doctor blurted out my weight right in front of my husband! Something in my expression tipped her off and she asked if she had done something wrong. And I said, “I cannot believe that I have carefully kept my weight a secret from my husband for 30 years and you just blurted it out in front of him. Why don’t you step out into the waiting room and just share it with everybody?!”

I will go out of my way to avoid passing that carnival booth. I used to think that guy obtained his unique talent by purchasing those X-ray vision eyeglasses that I used to see in the back of comic books. The ad usually was illustrated with a drawing of a goofy looking guy with a facial expression that seemed to say, “I just sat on a cattle prod!”

Then I demised that he probably got his superior job skills the way most of us do: by years of practice.

I can prove this hypothesis. I work at a large high school. The wrestling coach, as part of his job, regularly weighs each of his athletes before a meet. As a result, he has developed the ability to accurately guess anyone’s weight just by looking at him or her. This does not make me happy. As a life-long chubby person, I have spent my life guarding that number as if it were the secret to worldwide domination. I managed to dodge the coach for months.

I would hide behind the furniture when the weight guessing coach passed through the office. I made a few observations: The copier and the filing cabinet are good choices; the coat rack and the pole lamp are not so good.

I knew that sooner or later, I would have to pass him in the hall, where there was nothing to hide behind. I carried cash in my pocket just in case. Then as he got closer, I could whisper, “What will you take as a bribe to keep your mouth shut, because I’ve got money?”

One day that which I had feared finally happened. There was nowhere to hide. He had not yet said a word, but the closer he got, the madder I got. I was sure that he was looking me over and making his guess. I had already started practicing my response if he dared to say anything.

When he gets here, I thought, I will give him a menacing Robert DeNero type glare and say, “Are you looking at me? Because if you are looking at me and guessing my weight, I will gouge both your eyes out with this pencil and then staple your eyelids shut for good measure!”

That’s what I will say. Then I will add that this is not my flab; I am carrying it for a friend.

“I am not fat; I am big-boned,” I will add.

Then he might say, “Then you must be related to a T-rex.”

Then I will say, I am just retaining water.”

And he might say, “It must be Lake Huron.”

Then I will say, “I guess you think I should should hide my less than perfect body by wearing a cardboard box.”

And he might say, “It would have to be a refrigerator carton.”

And I will say,”While you are guessing, guess how many teeth you will have left when I get through with you?!”

By the time he passed me in the hall, steam was whistling out my ears and sparks shot from my eyes. Just let him say one word about my weight, I thought. He will rue the day he ever…

I was ready  for it when he opened his mouth to speak. I would say to him, “Oh, yeah? How would you like it if I made a few guesses about you and your size, if you get my drift? I ought to put your head in a vice and squeeze it until your eyeballs pop right out of your head!”

And he said, “You’re about 110 pounds, right?”

That man is either a genius or terrified of me. Either way, I’m okay with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LET’S GIVE ‘EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT

 

One night I nearly lost my life in a bed linen accident. I had replaced a worn bedspread with a bargain-priced one which was stitched together with clear plastic thread that looks like fishing line. The stitches immediately began to pull and break until long, stiff threads stuck up all over like a vagrant’s week old beard. By the sixth or seventh time that I got on my knees to trim the loose ends with scissors, I considered laying it on the lawn and driving a riding mower over it.

One night I awoke choking and desperately gasping for air. I put my hand to my throat and discovered that a long length of plastic thread from the top hem of the bedspread had wrapped itself tightly around my neck during the night and was cutting off my oxygen. I dug my fingers under it, snapped the thread, and took a deep breath. I could just imagine the next day’s headlines: “Thrifty housewife nearly strangled by cheap bedspread.”

I hated to throw out a brand new bedspread. I considered putting it on the bed in the guest room, but I was not sure what the legal ramifications would be if one of my guests were choked to death by a bedspread that I already knew to have homicidal tendencies.

That was not the first time that I was injured in a bedroom accident.

One morning as I was getting ready for work, I saw that the bedspread (this was a different one) had fallen on the floor. I stood at the foot of the bed, picked up the bedspread by the bottom edge and flipped it into the air so that it would settle itself neatly atop the mattress. Only as I flipped it, it hit the decorative ceramic knob at the end of the chain attached to the ceiling fan. The knob sung away from me on its chain, then swung back in a graceful arc and…whack!… it hit me right between the eyes and I went down as if I had been shot. It left a huge egg on my forehead for days. Apparently bedspreads “have it in for me.”

My next weird accident happened when I was sitting at the kitchen table doing some mending on my sewing machine. I dropped the sewing scissors. As I grabbed for it on its way to the floor, it stabbed me on the inside of my left wrist. The pain was excruciating. The sight of the scissors sticking out of my wrist, the blood already starting to flow, was like a scene in a horror movie.

I jerked them out (which I found out later I should NOT have done), grabbed some paper towels and used pressure to stop the bleeding. I did not go to the hospital.

The next day, my thumb did not want to function. Uh-oh. I called my doctor, who told me to go straight to Urgent Care, where I got X-rays, blood work, and an exam. I also got a physician who apologized because she could not stop laughing during my story.  She said it was the funniest injury-at-home story she had yet heard.

She did not know the half of it. She did not know the bedspread stories or about the time I slammed my left breast in the freezer door. I got an armload of frozen foods out of the freezer at the top of my refrigerator at home. Because my arms were full, I bumped the door with my shoulder to get it to swing shut. As it swung past me, the vertical freezer handle caught my shirt and the top of my bra and a large piece of flesh and then slammed shut. It left me dangling from the freezer door like a side of beef in a meat locker. I shrieked with pain and dropped all the freezer goods and freed myself. It left me with two dark bruises on my breast which looked suspiciously like the pinch of an amorous lover.

Not all my weird accidents result in injuries. Some just result in humiliation and embarrassment.

I was cleaning my kitchen one morning when the doorbell rang. At the time, I was in my bathrobe, using a sponge and a bleach solution to whiten my old stained laminate counter tops. I put the sponge down and opened the door to find my neighbor,who wanted to borrow something.

I remember that she seemed very uncomfortable and as she spoke, her eyes kept dropping to my bathrobe. Gee, I thought, hasn’t she ever seen another woman in a royal blue velour bathrobe? It was very modest.

I gave her the item she wanted to borrow and shut the door. When I glanced down at my robe, I saw that as I had been leaning over the bleached counter with my sponge, the bleach had taken all the color out of my robe. Not all of my robe. Just two large, perfectly round, solid white circles right over “the girls.”

They stood out against the royal blue velour like a pair of headlights coming at you on a dark country road, and were about the same size.

I started to call her back and explain, but she was scurrying across the road as if she were in a hurry to share this intriguing piece of gossip with the rest of the neighbors.

Screw it, I thought. As the Bonnie Raitt song goes, “Let’s give ’em something to talk about.”

 

 

 

MOM ALWAYS LOVED HER BEST

I used to think that I would not mind being the “second banana” in an office, until I realized that the “second banana”, figuratively speaking, is like the banana that nobody wants because it is all shriveled and brown and swarming with fruit flies.

It is a good thing I have a healthy ego. At least that is what I used to think until my first year at my current job. At first I did not mind a bit that the other secretary in our two-person office was everybody’s favorite. I even understood the affection for her (let’s call her Lucy) shared by the students, faculty, and staff.

Lucy could talk knowledgeably about classic Mustangs, cross stitch, or  pop music with the students. She talked tool bar options and servers with the tech staff. She shared bawdy jokes with the faculty and cooed over pictures of everybody’s babies. She always remembered to ask how your Aunt Florence is doing since the hysterectomy.

Lucy never forgot a name or a face or a birthday. Everybody got a card from Lucy on their birthdays. Lucy sent out hundreds of cards. Did Lucy care that she was responsible for the decimation of acres of rain forest, as thousands of trees were chewed into wood pulp to keep her supplied with cards?

Yep, that Lucy was a saint. I did not mind (much) shivering in the shadow of her glory while she hogged the sunlight, she and her hoard of adoring worshipers. There is no shame in being second banana, right?

A few months after school was out for the summer, several graduates returned for a visit. They burst into our office squealing with delight. Lucy and I threw open our arms in joyful welcome.

Did Lucy offer to pay my dry cleaning bill when her !#&%@! fan club tramped all over my back in their eagerness to embrace her? No, she did not.

I think half of the male student body that year had crushes on Lucy. They hung out in our office in droves, vying for her attention. One morning, one of them actually seemed to be more interested in me. Flattered, I batted my eyes  and said, “What can I do for you young man?” He sighed dreamily and said, “I can see Lucy’s reflection in your glasses.”

The only time the I Love Lucy Fan Club ever spoke to me was to say, “Would you mind moving over? You are blocking my view of Lucy.”

My end of a typical phone call in our office went like this:

“Guidance Office, may I help you?…No, This is Denise. What can I do for you?…No, Lucy stepped out for a moment. No I do not know when she will be back. What? How in the !@#&%! should I know where Lucy is? Probably rescuing a kitten from a tree out front!” Slam!

Then One week I actually got a call at work that was for me, and not Lucy.

“Hi, Mom” I said. “Are you ready for the family reunion next weekend? I think I will bring my special fruit salad with the…What? No, Lucy stepped out for a moment. About the reunion, I thought…what?…What do you mean I am not invited? Yes, I know the hall only seats so many people, but…Lucy is taking my place? But Mom…Her fruit salad is better and her jokes are funnier? Maybe I could get her recipe.”

“Well, I DO mind, Mom! When I said that I did not mind being number two around here, I lied! Because you know what number two is? It is a childhood euphemism for a big ol’ pile of steaming…Mom? Hello?”

But I don’t hold a grudge. Not me! As a matter of fact, I invited Lucy to my house for dinner. She offered to help prepare it as I knew she would.

“Sure, Lucy,”I said. “Would you mind going down to the basement and getting that bag of potatoes? I will hold the door for you. Yes, I know it is very dark down there. The bulb must be burnt out. Watch your step.”

Slam! Click. Heh-heh.

“If you want to be the top banana,” I hummed cheerfully as I peeled the carrots, “You gotta start at the bottom of the bunch.”

But the joke was on me. Three days later she ran off with the meter reader when he opened the basement door. He was good looking, but would never even give me the time of day, but hey, ehhhhverybody loves Lucy.

P.S.No, you may not have Lucy’s fruit salad recipe OR her e-mail address, so don’t even ask!