Tuesday, September 1, 2020

ISWG: Slumming It In College

                      

                                       

It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.


I wrote this story in 2012 BC (Before Covid). Though I can't possibly imagine what parents and students are currently going through during the Coronavirus pandemic on college campuses across the country and around the world, I wish everyone a safe and healthy school year. 

In the meantime, here's a look at this neurotic mother's worst fears during what now seems like a much simpler time.

                                                               

                              Slumming It In College

(boisedailyphoto.com)


Last weekend our boys left for school. While our older son set off for his third year of law school, we drove our youngest for his third year of college. Both boys completed their physicals, were updated on all of their shots, had their teeth cleaned, hair combed and were good to go. Their clothes were washed and pressed, and they were starting off on the right foot. Unfortunately, our younger son's left foot got stuck in it when we arrived.


He was moving into an older house with three other boys, and I thought I was prepared for the worst. The rent was too good to be true, and I strongly recommended that he find another place last spring. My husband agreed, but he assured us that this was a great house conveniently located near the campus. It pains me to write these words, but we sort of trusted him.

It was raining when we pulled up to the wood shack, so the muddy walkway only added to the ambiance. We walked into the kitchen with a flickering ceiling fixture, and a sunken floor made of mismatched tiles with large gaps throughout. There were missing electrical outlet covers, missing sections of dry wall, and huge holes in the ceilings. All of these slight imperfections were found in the kitchen and living room. I was afraid of what else was lurking in this four bedroom house, and never made it further than our son's bedroom.

He lived in a fraternity house his sophomore year, and spent freshmen year in a dorm. I remember how we helped him set up his room each year, but this time I was afraid to even touch anything. He was offended when I said that his happy home resembled a crack house, and looked to his father for support. My husband calmly likened it to a slum. He tried comforting me by reminding me how our older son almost lived in a converted garage when he was an undergraduate. To this day, we're not sure if we talked him out of it, or if he was just relieved to get a better offer.

After the screaming subsided, my son told me that I was a snob. He went on to say that this house wasn't good enough for me. I told him that this house wasn't good enough for any human being, and that he didn't need to be in a place that wasn't safe to live in. To accentuate my point, as our son's foot gently brushed the top of the stairway, we watched the metal threshold come tumbling down.

Another pleasant thought occurred to me. Because our son is the first one in the house to turn twenty-one, I was wondering if he would be held responsible if there were an accident. For example, if an underage girl is over-served, and stumbled over a large rat at a party in their basement, would our son be carted away? Our older son alerted me by text that the owner would be responsible. 

The next day, my husband and son went to talk to the landlord. His office said that they would be happy to make any repairs and even offered to replace the dilapidated kitchen floor. They claimed that the house had already been painted. My husband asked how they could've painted over areas with missing drywall. Of course they blamed this on the hooligans who rented the house last year. 

When we said our goodbyes, my son smiled and assured me that he would be okay. He told me that I should stop being such a negative person, and focus on the positives.

 I hugged him tightly, as I did a mental count of all his fingers and toes. Then I took a deep breath and said, "Well, at least you're only about a block away from the hospital." 


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

IWSG: Neighborhood Watch


                                             

It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
  
                                          
                               Neighborhood Watch


Ted Abel was known for being a good neighbor who enjoyed history, The Chicago White Sox, cycling, classical music and pickle ball. He could often be seen strolling hand in hand with his wife of 40 years down their quiet wooded street.

The Abels tried on several occasions to be friendly with their next door neighbors, the Cains, but the wife was more interested in sun bathing and six packs (tin not skin) than any form of socializing. The husband usually kept to himself.

Consequently, their paths would soon cross again, and Ted's life would never be the same.

Fast forward to early June when many thought the pandemic was slowing down and several states were optimistically moving into Phase 3. Ah, the good old days.

Shortly thereafter, Ted's landscaper found him climbing down a tree with a nervous cat in tow. The landscaper warned him that someone was throwing yard waste into his backyard, Outraged, but playing it cool for the cat's sake, Ted was determined to keep his fly dumping degenerate neighbor from disgracing his yard again.

He quickly went next door to confront Cain, but was rudely greeted by his wife. Ted tried to divert his eyes, as Cain's wife was sunbathing in a bikini that was stretched out in all the wrong places.

"Is your husband home?"

Her whole body creaked, as she struggled to free her entangled thong bikini from the lounge chair slats.

"He's busy working. What do you want?"

Ted calmly explained that if her husband dumped his yard waste in their backyard again, the landscaper was going to add it to his bill. 

This set Mrs. Cain into a rage. How dare Ted accuse her husband of any wrong doing. At first she threatened to blow Ted up, but then decided it would be a better idea to shoot him in the face. Yes, she never liked his face anyway.

Remarkably, Ted remained composed when he asked her if they had any firearms in their home. But his delusional neighbor wasn't listening. She just rambled on about how much she hated Ted and his excuse for a wife.

"You two definitely deserve each other. Your wife is a vile woman."

Awakened from the one woman shouting match, Cain stormed out of his house.

After Ted filled him in about the yard waste fiasco followed by his wife's threats to shoot him, he casually asked if Cain had any guns in their home. When Cain refused to answer, Ted said he had no choice but to call the police.

Cain just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Do what you gotta do."

The next day, two police officers escorted Ted to the house of Cain where they  spoke to the couple on their front porch. Ted almost didn't recognize Mrs. Cain, as she wasn't dressed like a retired stripper. The Cains politely denied any confrontation with Ted, and the police went on their way.

Ted couldn't believe that the police weren't taking her threats seriously. When he asked why they didn't investigate further, the officers explained that they couldn’t legally search or even ask the couple if they owned a gun.

In an ill attempt to set Ted's mind at ease, the officers added they were going to file a police report. Ted wanted to say how the report would really come in handy when he's shot to death by a screaming bikini wearing gun moll, but he thanked them anyway. 

Later that night, Ted told his wife every sordid detail about his life threatening confrontation with the Cains, as well as, the futile follow-up with the police. Upon hearing the news, his wife's face drained of color, and she couldn't speak. 

Ted tried to put on a brave face while reassuring her that she needn't worry, as he  was getting his affairs in order, so she would be well taken care of in the event of his sudden demise.

Within minutes, his wife miraculously rose to announce that they needed to notify the family. She went into the den to call their eldest daughter and Ted quickly followed.

After repeating the story verbatim to their daughter, Ted couldn't believe his ears when he realized what most upset his wife.

"Yes, she did threaten to shoot Daddy in the face, but can you believe that no good former street walker had the nerve to call your mother a 'vile woman?'"



Tuesday, May 5, 2020

IWSG: Going To The Dogs on Mother's Day


                                                   


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.


                      Going To The Dogs On Mother's Day
                                           
I woke up with a fright. My wildly overgrown hair looked like I spent a little too much time in the spin cycle, just days before I'd be reunited with my boys for a social distancing walk on Mother's Day.

Unfortunately, all hair and nail salons in Illinois will remain closed until at least the end of May, so I had to find an alternative plan. That's when I read that dog grooming services were now officially open. As I took a good hard look in the mirror at my unruly hair, pale blotchy skin, and overgrown toenails, I decided if it's good enough for the dogs...

I couldn't believe my eyes when I found a highly rated mobile dog grooming service specializing in elderly dogs that would come directly to our apartment building. I scrambled to make an appointment, and found a last minute cancellation.

When I was greeted by the Certified Canine Esthetician clad in a face mask, shield and gloves, she kept looking over my shoulder to see where my dog was. So I explained that I desperately needed her help, as I hadn't seen my boys on my birthday or Passover and was terrified of scaring them off on Mother's Day.

Upon closer examination, she yelled to the Portuguese Water Dog at the other end of the truck, "Sorry Ginger you'll have to wait. This gal clearly needs this more than you do."

First, she put me in a microbubble bath which is strong enough to remove skunk odors, but it was the reduced shedding factor that really sold me. Though we were six feet apart and separated by a clear shower curtain, I scrambled to get dressed, but I could've sworn I heard Ginger gag and giggle.

Next, the groomer brought out the shears to cut my hair. I tried to show her a pre-quarantine photo of when I resembled a human, but she wasn't interested. Then she told me to relax and offered me a cow ear chew to snack on. It wasn't bad.

Afterward, the groomer blowed-dry my hair, but there were no mirrors. As if reading my mind, she said, "You look gorgeous!"

When the groomer set out a water bowl with fresh lemons, I put my hand in to  soak for my manicure. But she quickly took it out of the bowl. "Bad girl! That water is for drinking not playing," she said in a stern voice.

After my shiny new manicure and pedicure, I grabbed my purse to pay the bill; however, the groomer commanded me to "stay" for one additional service. Then she gave me a squirt of minty mouth spray and a dental chew to freshen my breath.

Lastly, the groomer walked me over to a large mirror in the corner of the truck. Sure, I looked like a French Poodle, but I came in pale and pasty and walked out glowing with a shiny new coat.

I couldn't thank her enough and even splurged on a dog toy to reward Ginger for patiently waiting. Though she snarled at me, and tossed it into the microbubble bath, I think Ginger felt bad when it disintegrated before our eyes.

When I walked into our building, a flirty Bulldog kept following me around. At first I was flattered, until I realized that he most likely was attracted to my canine cologne.

Of course, my husband didn't say a word about my kennel clip, though he did compliment me on my minty fresh breath.

The next morning, I awoke refreshed and full of energy. But I couldn't figure out why I was curled up near my hubby at the foot of the bed with a rolled-up newspaper between my teeth.


Have a safe and Happy Mother's Day!


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

IWSG: The Quirks of Quarantine

                                                     


It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                                            
                              The Quirks of Quarantine

Being under self-quarantine certainly gives a person plenty of time to think, especially during TV commercials. Unfortunately, many of my insights are soon forgotten in the time it takes  to find a pen, wipe it down, and sterilize my desk, counter-top, wall, or husband's back all before realizing I ran out of paper. Of course, my laptop is more efficient, but where's the fun in that?

Sadly, I've gotten used to being in isolation. I wouldn't necessarily call it my new normal, because it's more like my old abnormal. But while others are having trouble abiding with all of the necessary safety precautions, my husband has been enjoying social distancing from me a little too much. 

Though we share a small apartment, Hubby recently sent me an e-card for my birthday. Not only did it save him a trip to the store, it saved him the trouble of being in the same room with me.

Whether walking around the apartment building or venturing outside, I feel like I'm trapped in a Spaghetti Western. If I do happen upon another lone drifter in our deserted hallways, or ghost town sidewalks, it's as if we're about to face-off in a duel or gunfight. We each step back about six feet waiting for one to pass the other. Fortunately, no guns have been drawn, but I've taken to carrying toilet paper rolls as a peace offering.

Though my neighbors used to greet me with a kind word and a smile, everyone is so terrified of catching COVID-19, that they've even begun to avoid eye contact at all costs. Thus far, I haven't heard any evidence of contracting the virus through eye rolls, side-eye, or uncontrollable blinking, but this works to my advantage.

I no longer have to wear make-up, suck in my stomach, or wash my hair on a regular basis. I've considered brushing my teeth as an optional activity, but even that gets old after a few days.

The quarantine has forced me to get reacquainted with my kitchen, which isn't necessarily a good thing. I'm cooking more and eating more, which makes me a prime candidate for gaining the "quarantine 15." 

So I try to walk laps around our tiny apartment in between meals, snacks, desserts and thoughts about any of the above. I'm sure our neighbor below us is thrilled when I'm gracefully trotting around before midnight in a last minute attempt to reach my daily step goal. 

Sadly, I'll probably have to attend PTQD (Post Traumatic Quarantine Disorder) meetings when the stay-at-home order is lifted.

Though I miss my boys terribly, I'm proud of how seriously they're taking COVID-19, and how hard they've been working to help others. Our older son learned to create face masks on his 3-D printer, and offered to give them to us, and his doctor friends since hospitals are in such short supply. Unfortunately, the face masks are not considered hospital grade at this time, but may be helpful to others at risk.

Our younger son has also been providing a useful service by Skyping with clients of all ages to lift their spirits, as well as their gluteus maximus through strength training.

I also miss my brother who in addition to picking up prescriptions and groceries for his neighbors, is frequently offering to run errands for us. But my husband has taken to avoiding crowds by shopping during the early senior hours. Though I tease Hubby a lot, there's no one else I'd rather be quarantined with, and I'm truly grateful for him.

Yesterday, was a good day, as my husband finally tracked down some much needed sanitizing wipes and paper towels. The paper towels might also come in handy to keep the peace in our hallways.

Stay safe and healthy, my friends.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG: A Pain In The As...king

                                                   

It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                                            A Pain In The As...king

BOLO Alert: My husband has a cough and cold. But it's not an ordinary cough and cold, because my husband has it. What makes it even more horrific is that his endless suffering is just weeks before his knee replacement surgery.

The other night I found Hubby napping in front of the blaring TV, so I turned down the volume. He awoke shortly, changed chairs and turned the volume way up to generously share his program with the majority of neighbors on our floor and the floor below. 

When the phone rang, I had to quarantine myself in our bedroom with the door closed in order to hear the other voice on the line. This  took away from my laundry time, as I would have to enter a dangerous hearing zone that would make even the calmest dogs go absolutely mad. 

After the call ended, I decided to take my life into my own hands by re-entering the mutant hearing zone to find my husband was once again sound asleep. When I told him how the blaring TV was affecting my hearing he replied, "I can't worry about that right now, as I have to focus on my upcoming knee replacement surgery."

The other day, I went to the doctor to be treated for a sore throat, cold and slight cough. Fortunately, I knew right away that it wasn't the Coronavirus, as I was fever-free, but I didn't want to take a chance on being sick for my husband's upcoming surgery.

The nurse was having difficulty swabbing the back of my throat during the strep test, so I offered to grab hold of my tongue while she went in with the swab.

After after several failed attempts, I finally held my tongue down long enough for her to get a culture. When I apologized for being such a difficult patient, the nurse said it wasn't my fault that the lab ran out of tongue depressors. 

Needless to say, I went home with neither prescription nor pride in tact. 

The next day, my husband's cough soared from a one to a two on a scale of 10, so he saw the same NP (nurse practitioner) in our doctors' office. Before he left, I reminded him to tell her that we were both at a children's birthday party where many of the guests later came down with either colds or the flu.  

Then he walked out muttering (in between exaggerated coughs), "Julie, thanks for giving me this generous gift before my surgery."

Apparently, Hubby accomplished a lot more during his office visit. He explained that the NP swabbed him for the flu, and if the results were positive, she would call in a prescription for him and a preventative dosage for me with approval from my kidney transplant doctors. 

I couldn't believe that I wasn't tested for the flu, but my husband was not surprised. According to the NP, I did not have flu-like symptoms. I only had a sore throat, runny nose and slight cough, while Hubby had a terrible cough, runny nose and felt (here's the operative word)...ACHY.

A few expletives later, I offered to pick up some soup, and other favorite items at the deli, along with his pending prescription, but Hubby wanted to go instead. I argued that he was far too sickly to venture out again, but he insisted.

Then the NP called and said he didn't have the flu, but she'd still give him a prescription to make him more comfortable. Now I was really angry. Shouldn't I be at my full strength to take care of her favorite patient after his surgery? 

After throwing back a cool glass of chocolate milk, I calmly offered once again to make a deli and drugstore run, so this poor suffering man could crawl under the covers to begin the healing process. 

Finally, my husband told me the real reason why he needed to run those errands. Apparently, he had a taste for the deli's special tuna salad, but their tomatoes left a lot to be desired. Rather than settle for a less than perfect sandwich, he preferred making an additional stop at an upscale grocery store to personally select an exquisitely firm tomato. Of course, I couldn't be trusted with this important task.

In the end, the NP also prescribed something for me, but it's not strong enough to numb my new pain.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

IWSG: Falling For Each Other

                                               
                                                

It's time for another edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support GroupBe sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                       
                              Falling For Each Other

Last month I wrote about how 2020 got off to a rocky start when my husband fell in the shower, and we almost didn't make it to our dear friends' New Year's Eve party. Though the story had a happy ending, I stumbled by taking a lighthearted approach to my husband's accident, causing karma to step in. 

About a week later, Hubby experienced debilitating pain in his right knee, and couldn't walk. In an effort not to wake me, he used a Swiffer handle as a makeshift cane. Then I bought him an actual cane, and we went to an orthopedic doctor the next day. 

The x-ray showed that the arthritis of Hubby's right knee was so severe that his leg was bone on bone. The doctor ordered physical therapy, in addition to continuing pre-shower fall therapy on his right shoulder. 

He also advised him that he'd likely need knee replacement surgery in the near future. We researched surgeons and will be seeing our first choice in mid-February. 

But karma didn't end there. A few days later, despite clear skies, I bundled up in layers, snow boots and my warmest winter coat en route to a hair appointment. I didn't want to take any chances encountering wild winds or slick sidewalks. Then without warning, as I approached the corner before the beauty shop, I gracefully fell face first on an uneven sidewalk. 

A kind stranger apparently witnessed the dreadfully embarrassing incident and offered to help me up, but I slowly managed to get to my feet. I tried to smile with my protruding bloody lip, and thanked her as I limped into the shop. 

Then my wonderful beautician sprang into action by helping me into the chair. I admired her restraint, as I was aghast at my reflection when I saw something resembling a freakish Simpson cartoon character staring back at me.  

Next, I checked to make sure I wasn't missing any teeth while my caring beautician gently dabbed my lip, and bandaged my bloody knee. Then she offered to either drive me home or to the ER. 

But I did exactly what my mom would've done. I ignored my throbbing knee, and stayed for the two hour color highlights appointment. Hey, if I had to go to the hospital, I was darn well going to look my best. My full-service nurse/beautician even drove me home afterward.

Fortunately, my husband's knee was improving, so later that night he lent me the family cane. By this time I was screaming in pain, but he didn't notice any swelling and thought my knee would heal quickly. 

Grateful that I fell on the opposite side of my new kidney, I spent the next few days toughing it out by icing and elevating my knee, in between Nancy Kerrigan "Why me?" rantings. 

A few days later, my husband woke me with a start when his blood pressure sky rocketed to 184/100. I drove him to the ER for a series of tests. 

Fortunately, aside from his blood pressure, his other numbers looked good, and there was no evidence of a heart attack or stroke. 

Relieved that Hubby was out of danger, I asked if the young trauma doctor would look at my knee. He nodded. Then I rolled up my pant leg, and added, "If I was your grandmother, would you recommend having an x-ray?" That went over like a lead balloon which really cheered me up.

The x-ray showed I have a small fracture of my kneecap, so I was outfitted with an immobilizer (brace) which spans from my lower thigh to my upper calf. Thankfully, my husband has been doing well on a low-dose hypertension pill.

When we arrived home that afternoon, we were greeted by our neighbor whose husband is a former orthopedic surgeon. After we told her why I was wearing a brace she reiterated what I already knew, that a fractured kneecap is extremely painful. Then my husband apologized for not taking me more seriously.

We also took a photo of the uneven sidewalk where I fell, and sent it to the city to hopefully prevent future injuries.

Last week Hubby celebrated his birthday, and our wonderful boys took us out for a delicious pre-birthday dinner at an outstanding steak restaurant which really raised our spirits.

On my husband's actual birthday, I wanted to make his favorite fudge brownies, but the mixing bowl is located on a high kitchen shelf. With his painful shoulder(s) and our bad knees, we didn't dare risk climbing up the step stool. Though I offered to make a bakery run, he insisted on finishing the last slice of frozen key lime pie instead.

February 4th marked the three week anniversary of my fall, and when we're not putting our impaired knees together (my left and Hubby's right) to team-up in competitive three-legged races, we can be found casually limping down the sidewalk. 

However, when the disgruntled seniors sideswipe us with their walkers as they forge ahead, my husband is never left behind in a trail of dust. Instead, Hubby can be heard howling in his best raspy Ratso Rizzo voice from Midnight Cowboy, "I'm walkin' here."  

Of course, this just makes me fall for him all over again.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

IWSG: The New Year That Almost Wasn't

                                                     

It's time for the first 2020 edition of the  Insecure Writer's Support Group. Happy New Year to all! Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh  and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.

                                                     
                   The New Year That Almost Wasn't

It started like a film noir: Man opens door and gingerly steps into the shower only to unwittingly slip on a sprinkling of sequestered water drops. This could lead to possible paralysis, sudden death, or an extremely embarrassing Facebook photo.

Fortunately, none of those things happened. Instead my husband morphed into Batman mode by holding on for dear life, as he slid down the shower door. 

Consequently, he plummeted on his posterior while straddling the door like a scissors, thus leaving him without a cape or utility belt to cover his secret identity. In retrospect, the photo would've come in handy.

I probably would've pretended not to notice, if our friends' New Year's Eve party wasn't just moments away. This minor inconvenience caused the shower door to come off the track, so Super Hubby had to temporarily lodge it back in to take his shower. 

Let this be a lesson not to put things off until the last minute. Nothing good comes from procrastination. Meanwhile, I was still putting on my makeup, and hoping the potatoes would come out of the oven in time for the party. But this was not about me. 

My husband was about to reach for his towel, when he realized  the shower door was stuck. So I climbed up on my tiptoes to pass it over the glass. 

The more Hubby tried to move the door, the more it came off the track. Suddenly, Naked But Not Afraid was boxed in. We needed to summon Houdini from beyond, but it looked more like a job for the fire department.

The good news was that this was a pleasant distraction from my husband's shoulder and knee pain. "No one has ever suffered more than I have," he moaned over the last several days as we tipped our hats in the hallway.

My husband thought he was destined to spend the night trapped in the shower which led to the five stages of grief: 1. Denial 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance.

The first stage began when he wrongfully accused me of not squeegeeing the shower floor properly, and I immediately went into denial mode. "I don't know how that water got there. I wiped down every last drop on the floor. This is fake news." 

Not only did my husband refuse to believe anything I said, but he ignored me when I went through the other four stages of grief. After all, he was a captive audience. Finally, when I got to the Acceptance stage, and told him that I forgave him for wearing the wrong shoes to my 25th birthday dinner, I noticed the time.

Then I sprang into action by quickly reminding Hubby about the delicious barbecue skirt steaks that our wonderful New Year's Eve host promised to grill despite the frigid weather. This was just the motivation he needed to plan his getaway. 

My husband summoned all his strength to gradually open the shower door inch by inch until there was barely enough room to make a narrow escape. Next, we finished getting dressed and loaded everything up in the car including a few bags of ice. 

Though we were only 15 minutes late, our host was not happy and texted, "Our guests are all here and dying of thirst cause there's no ice!!!"

Despite the whole shower ordeal, we had a great time ringing in the New Year with our dear friends who even sang and played the guitar after an exquisite dinner.

When we got home I immediately checked on the shower situation and found a few more drops of water on the slippery floor. This didn't make sense, as I took extra care in squeegeeing it before we left. While I was wiping the floor again, the shower head mysteriously began to drip.

I quickly grabbed my husband to prove my innocence once and for all, but he just stared in silence. Then I rambled on about  contacting the maintenance man to fix the shower door, and adding safety features like a non-slip shower floor mat and grab bars to prevent future accidents.

He nodded and muttered under his breath that he hoped I could sleep that night knowing how I almost killed my husband. Then he felt a twinge in his shoulder and a knot in his knee and started moaning again. I guess we know who 2020 is going to be all about.