Tag Archives: Argument

SOCKS?? Noooooooo.

“SOCKS?” I shouted at Husband.

“Um…yes…socks.” He shot me a, my-wife-has-finally-gone-over-the-edge look.

“You never said anything about buying socks before I got in the car.”  I pressed my hands against my head, afraid my brain would explode. “Okay.  Okay.” I breathed in to a count of ten and then slowly out to a count of ten.  “Just give me a minute to wrap my head around socks being added.”

This is how much I hate shopping.  The original plan had been to go to the mall and buy Husband a couple of short-sleeved shirts.

I’d walked around the house all morning talking to myself to prepare.

“It’s just two shirts, Teresa.  You can do this.”  I spent ten minutes deep breathing as I visualized the two of us wandering aimlessly around the entire men’s department looking for the perfect shirt at the perfect price.  At 11:00 I told Husband I was ready to go.

Then, we got in the car and he said, “I thought we’d pick up some socks while we were there.”

I mean really, any of you would have had the same reaction right?

 

 

THIS DAD vs. THAT DAD

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!”  This was Dad in the emergency room, large hands out in front of him as if to push away a charging bull. “No one asked me if I was okay with a girl doctor.”

I smacked him on the head with a magazine I’d taken from the waiting room.

Chauvinist Statement3“I’m just saying,” he continued digging his hole. “They oughta have you sign a paper or something. You know. Giving them permission.”

This was the exasperating dad of my adulthood.

– This Dad provoked me by telling his friends not to worry about their spills because his maid (me) would clean it all up.

– This Dad fed a week’s worth of the meals I cooked for him to the dog.

– This “dieting” Dad left wrappers from Big Mac’s and Sonic burgers on the counter for me to pick up.

– This Dad had plopped himself in his rocking chair after Mom died, giving up on…well…everything, letting his home literally fall down around him.

More often than not, our visits ended with me stomping from his house and driving away, leaving him in his filth until the next Saturday visit.

My childhood dad was tall and lean, his skin a mahogany brown from the tips of his fingers to just above his elbows, where the sleeve of his t-shirt rested, his shoulders and chest as pale as a ghost.

– That Dad hauled hay bale after hay bale, stacking them to dizzying heights.

– That Dad survived having the zipper of his jeans [and the body parts behind it] twisted into a piece of churning farm equipment and then managed to sire six more kids.

– That Dad lay at the edge of my bed at night with a chipped ashtray on his stomach.  One hand under his head, the other held a smoldering cigarette.  His soothing voice relayed made up stories about Stinky and Slim, a skunk and a scarecrow, who got into all kinds of mischief but were saved by Stinky doing the right thing.

– That Dad taught me that girl’s can grow up to be anything they want.

Now, eighty-five year-old Dad and I were in the emergency room because he’d slipped off the “step” he’d made for his tractor.  Earning his family title of World’s Laziest Man, he’d tied one end of a rope to a plastic egg crate and the other to the base of the steering wheel. That way he could haul it up or drop it down as the need arose.

The crate/step had failed to work properly owing to several factors; he wasn’t twenty-five years old any more, there was an inch of ice on the ground, and he no longer tipped the scale at 150 pounds but weighed in at close to 300.

Dad Spreadeagled1I’m not proud to share this with you, but when I stood over This Dad spread-eagled on the ground, it took every ounce of compassion I had to not get in my car and drive away.

He crawled on his hands and knees up the handicap ramp he’d had built — he wasn’t handicapped, he just didn’t like to walk up steps — and propped himself against the back door. I sat down next to him and we argued, in the freezing cold, over the benefits of calling/not calling 911.  I was a proponent and, as usual, he held the opposite view.

“There’s no sense making someone go to all the trouble to drive out here from town when we can drive in.”

I pulled my car beside the ramp and he crawled back down. Using upper body strength I assumed he no longer possessed, he pulled himself to a standing position. He hopped a bit to turn around and dropped himself blindly, barely landing on the edge of the car seat. Unable or unwilling to expend any more energy, it was my job to turn his body and lift his feet into the wheel well. Sweating and cursing, I ran around to the driver’s side and jumped in.

Two seconds after I shifted into drive he shouted, “Wait a minute!”

I slammed on the brakes  “What? What’s wrong?”

“I’m hungry. Could you get a sandwich from the fridge for me?”

I put the car in park and ran inside. Dozens of leftover containers crowded the shelves, shoved helter-skelter on top of my well-packaged healthy meals.  The first three containers I opened reeked, the mysterious items covered in mold.  I finally came across a half-eaten club sandwich that looked edible and delivered it back to the car.

This time I made it to the end of the driveway before he asked, through a mouthful of food, “You got any salt? This is kinda bland.”

I plunged the accelerator to the floor and we fishtailed out of the drive. By the time we reached the hospital in town, I’d managed to find a bit of sympathy.

In fact, I survived the waiting room without stabbing him with the pocketknife he’d removed to carve his thumbnail. I tolerated the two days time it took for him to explain to the insurance clerk that he had no idea why his mama had spelled his name Lewis when every other Catholic spelled it Louis.

I’d made it through the x-ray process where he coached the confused young man pushing his wheelchair that there are two kinds of jobs in the world; dirty dirt and clean dirt, and you’d go far in life if you stuck with the clean dirt.

Broken Bone JPEGWe were back in the exam room when a woman in a lab coat walked in, looked at the x-ray and told him his ankle was broken.

He said that maybe he’d just wait and see what the doctor had to say.

Then she said she was the doctor and next thing I know, I’ve smacked him on the head with a magazine.

Dad finally agreed to let her set the break but asked, “Is this going to hurt much?”

“More than it needs to,” she replied. “More than it needs to.”

Sharing a House with Murphy S Law

Many adventures have kept me away from my computer chair, so I’m a little rusty in the writing department.  The blank screen and a smart-alecky blinking cursor are giving me the stink-eye, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

It started when doctors discovered a lump in Husband’s prostate – which everyone assured me, “would be fine.”  Everyone that is, except Murphy S Law, who knew immediately that, in fact, it would not be fine.

Shortly after bringing Husband home from his brief hospital stay, sparkly white flakes began to float down from the sky.  Knowing that I’d be spending the next week hovering over Husband, I decided I could care less. I walked over to the (new to me) gas fireplace, flipped the switch and watched, fascinated, as a perfectly effortless fire roared to life.

Can I rock a look or what?

Can I rock a look or what?

I gotta go - BAD

I gotta go – BAD

Soon Murphy S Law flipped his own switch and the gently floating snowflakes turn to brutal sheets of white. Still, who really cared?  Okay, me, a bit.  Husband’s doctor forbade him to do any lifting AT ALL, which required me to fully outfit myself against the storm in order to carve out a path so that aging dog, Lola, could make it to the back yard.

Returning from my walk on the frozen tundra, I buttoned up the house, turned off the lights and went to bed.

******

“Guess what?” Husband said, as I stumbled into the kitchen for my morning cup of caffeine.

“Wha?” I mumbled.

“The pipes are frozen!”

I swear I felt the brush of a giggle against my ear from Mr. Law

I called the plumber that had worked for our hated contractor, but had been one of the few subs we trusted.  The plumber asked “What’s your address again?”  When told, he hemmed and hawed a bit, then said “I’m really sorry to tell you this, but I’ll be filing a lien against you because your contractor never paid us.”

Of. Course. They. Didn’t. – Mr. Murphy S Law’s giggle turned into a guffaw as he firmly planted himself into my life.

What were my options?  I begged the plumber to come anyway. Plumber #1 arrived and said he’d never seen anything like it.  I heard Mr. M S Law cackle.  Plumber #1 called in Plumber #2 who thought he remembered this happening to his dad once and maybe he’d have the tool we needed.

Didn't think this plan through

Didn’t think this plan through

Meantime I’m carrying in buckets and buckets of snow to melt on the stove so that I can pour them in the toilet tank so that we can use it. Picture to the right is my first attempt before I, DOH, realized my gas stove worked.

Plumber #1 and #2 returned with a pair of jumper cables as long as a bus.  They attached one end to the meter and the other end ran through my front door, across the living room, down the stairs and draped across my writing desk, to connect to the pipe that enters the house.

“Now we wait.” Plumber #2 said.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

All the time, Murphy S Law is stretched out on my floor, filing his nails.  Four hours of waiting later, Plumber #2 said he’s going to go on home, but just to keep the jumper cables plugged in and he’d be back tomorrow to pick them up.

Plumber #2 returned the next day and, surprised to find us still frozen, called in Plumber #3.  He said “Sorry, can’t help you. Here’s our bill.”

By day four of hauling in snow to melt, I was getting a tiny bit cranky.  I gathered up every unread book and magazine I could find and hunkered down in the worn out, over-stuffed chair in my office.  After an hour or so, husband came down.

“Whatcha doin?” he asked.

“I’m in a terrible mood,” I grumbled.  “Better to just leave me alone.”

“Why are you in a bad mood?” He asked with a bright smile on his face.

“Can’t you just leave me alone for a bit?” I pled.  “I’m really, really cranky and, as my dad would say, ‘don’t poke the bear.'”

“But, how is my talking to you poking the bear?  Just tell me why you’re so cranky and then I’ll leave.”

“For one thing, I’m SICK AND TIRED of hauling snow to flush toilets.”

“Whew,” he said.  “Me too.”

Dark spots appeared before my eyes.  “You?” My hands rose of their own volition toward his throat.  “YOU’RE tired of me hauling snow?” I willed my hands away from him and turned them on me, literally stuffing them in my mouth.

The questioning look on Husband’s face changed to terror as he realized he had poked the bear one too many times and he quickly left the room.

The next day, the sun came out and…we still had frozen pipes.  But, the day after that…we still had frozen pipes.  Eventually they did thaw and we spent the rest of our record-breaking-low-temperature winter with the water running in the bathroom sink, day and night.

All this is a long, convoluted way (would the Mayor of Crazie Town do it any other way?) of saying , Citizens of Crazie Town – I’m back and thanks for sticking around!

 

 

 

The Night of the Living Smoke Alarm

It was a rough night.

First, the stupid coffee shop gave me a real latte instead of a decaf. I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling until 1:00 am, vowing over and over to never to consume another latte if, The Sandman would just let me sleep.

Guard dog grade: F

Guard dog grade: F

Then, at 3:00 am, Lola, the seventy-pound chicken/dog, came galloping into the bedroom to try to squeeze her giant body behind the rickety bedside table I’ve been vowing to repair. I roll over in time to catch a lamp before it crashes to the floor.

“There’s a noise in the house,” Husband mutters sleepily and pulls the covers over his head

I don’t know how this ever happened, but in our marriage, I’m the one to go investigate noises. Actually I do know how it happened. One dark and stormy night I heard someone rooting around in the kitchen. I shook him awake and demanded that he go investigate. Instead he rolled over and started snoring. I discovered that the “someone” was a raccoon, but that’s another story.

“What noise?” I ask my now snoring husband.

Then I heard it, a high-pitched BEEP, followed by Lola flinging herself behind the bedside table.

“Hey!” I shook Husband awake, balancing the lamp in my arms. “It’s a smoke alarm.” I slid out of bed, put the lamp back on the table and wrestled into my sleeves-inside-out robe.

I walked down the hallway, listening.

BEEP

“Which one is it?” Husband shouts from the bedroom.

“I don’t know!” I shout back.

He finally gets up and together we wander around the house, pausing under each smoke alarm until we hear the BEEP from the smoke alarm that we are not standing under.

Not actual Husband

Not actual Husband

Husband pinpoints the offender in the dining room but can’t reach it by standing on a chair, so (still in his underwear) out to the garage he goes to retrieve a ladder. He climbs up and takes the battery out. He climbs down and we stumble off to bed.

BEEP

Cursing, Husband climbs back up the ladder to see if he can disconnect it from the electrical wires. He struggles for quite a while and I decide I can help by retrieving the flashlight from the laundry room closet. As soon as I open the door, Lola throws herself on to the bottom shelf of the metal cabinet I put in there. Obviously a three-foot tall dog is not going to fit on a one-foot tall shelf, but this doesn’t stop her from trying. The room is pitch black and she is pitch black and I’m flailing around holding the still-dark flashlight in one hand and trying to grab a body part of hers that will enable me to drag her away from the shelf with the other hand. Then there’s another BEEP, followed by a curse from Husband, followed by Lola redoubling her efforts.

Actual photo of me

Actual photo of me

Eventually I give up and return to the dining room, flipping every light switch along the way. I shine the flashlight at the offending smoke alarm and try to ignore the sound of Lola’s toenails frantically scraping the metal shelf.

Husband still can’t figure out the smoke alarm and asks me to think of where – anywhere – we’d have a nine volt battery we could use. Just as I’ve resigned myself that it will require a trip to an all-night store, I remember there’s a battery in the sprinkler system. Along the way to the garage, Husband stops long enough to drag Lola out of the laundry closet and shut the door.

We spend the next fifteen minutes with Husband at the top of the ladder, trying and failing to insert the battery into the smoke alarm, over and over again.

Meanwhile, Lola is darting from room to room, knocking into chairs, looking for a new place to hide.

At every BEEP I add my opinion.

BEEP “I’m pretty sure the battery goes the other way.”
BEEP “I’m very sure the battery goes the other way.”
BEEP “TRY IT THE OTHER WAY!”

I take a deep breath and turn my head away, vowing not to lose my temper again. I look at the bank of windows behind us and renew my vow from last week, to buy curtains this week.

Then, my focus changes and I see the scene that all my neighbors can see; Husband in his underwear, standing at the top of a ladder, with me shining a spotlight on him.

A Killer New Home

This new house of mine is trying to kill me, but I’m being stoic about it.

I  kept it together, through weeks and weeks of screaming and fights with my contractor, to turn this:
IMG_0236
into this:
IMG_0633

(Okay, maybe not I’m not being exactly stoic, as there were a few  tears the day I almost got killed from the broken gas line and yes, maybe I did tell the contractor to get the @#!$ off my property, but the point is, I survived that part.)

And I kept it together through the weeks and weeks it took me to get from this:
IMG_0648
to this:
Image

But, the morning after my return from England, this new house tried, once again, to do me in.

I awoke early, put the teakettle on and stepped outside on the deck to let the dog out. Rubbing my arms in the cool air, I took a stroll down the stairs to check out the grass we’d planted before we left.  It only took one step for my feet to fly up in front of me and then I’m doing a Winnie The Pooh down the stairs, bump, bump, bump, on the back of my head.

As I lay on the wet ground, my first thought was, “Uh oh. I hit my head.” My second thought was…well, I don’t think there was a second thought, just tears and sobbing — the big kind, where you can’t catch your breath and snot runs uncontrollably out of your nose and you don’t care. With my head resting on a patch of newly grown grass, I watched my un-Lassie-like dog wander happily around the backyard ignoring my pleas for help. I decided, at that very moment, I hated this new house – every unfinished inch of it.

When the damp ground began to seep through my sweater I thought it was time to assess the damage I’d done. I sat up, patted the back of my head and peaked at my fingers. I let out a sigh of relief when they came away free of blood. Not sure if I could, or  should, stand up, I contemplated my next move. Rubbing at the ache in my posterior I discovered I had my cell phone in the back pocket of my jeans. I dialed our home number (yes, I still have a home phone.) When my husband, John, answered, I burst back into my  hiccupping sobs.

“What? What is it? Where are you? What’s going on?”

“Fell,” I bawled.

“Where?”

“Outside,” I snuffled.

“Front or back?”

“B-b-back.”

I’ve never been so happy to see his half-a-shaving-cream-covered face in my life. He helped me up and we worked our way back inside.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, stepping away from me to let our happy-go-lucky dog back into the house.

I ran into the guest bathroom and blubbered, “I’m fine,” before slamming the door.

I could go into great gushy details about how my husband coaxed me out and tucked me into bed with a nice hot cup of tea, but I won’t — because that’s not what happened. There is nothing more terrifying to my husband than a crying woman, so he returned to his sink to finish shaving.

A few minutes later, as I sat on the floor of the bathroom unrolling yards of toilet paper to keep up with my blubbering, I heard the whistle of the teakettle. Since I knew John would be protected from the kryptonite of my tears by the door, I continued with my mopping up efforts and the teapot screeched on.

Finally, Husband’s voice. “Teresa?”

Unable to answer, I blew my nose loudly.

A timid knock at the door and then he muttered, “Hey…ummmm…err…”

“Yes?” I asked, looking at the doorknob, willing it to turn.

“The teakettle is whistling.”

I will survive this new house, but right this moment, I’m not sure my husband will survive me.

My Husband is Trying to Kill Me in His Sleep

Homicidal Maniac

Part-time Homicidal Maniac

Recently, my loving Husband has taken up the habit of trying to kill me in his sleep. Not in my sleep, in his sleep. Trust me, I’m not doing a lot of sleeping right now.

It started a few months ago when I awoke to him shouting, “GET OUT OF HERE!”

Startled, I sat up in bed just as he went crashing into my pillow, where he promptly wrestled the stuffing out of the poor thing.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the time Husband is a soft-hearted teddy bear.

Homicidal maniac (also known as Grandpa) tuckered out from hike

Actual homicidal maniac (also known as Grandpa)

One time he trimmed our dog’s toenail too close and was so emotionally traumatized by the thought of injuring her, he refused to ever do it again.

We once had a raccoon in our house and after animal control trapped it in their net, he got all choked up thinking about “what will happen to the little guy.”

And, after watching Marley and Me he sobbed so loud I had to turn the TV up.

I’m sensing a theme here that has to do more with animals and less with humans. But, let’s continue anyway.

Husband has always been a sleep-talker, or should I say, sleep-arguer. Maybe this happens to all spouses married to lawyers but it’s a little alarming to me.  For example, I shake husband’s shoulder to say “Roll over on your side, you’re snoring” and he sits up to explain to me in his courtroom voice that “obviously I’m already on my side because this (insert Vanna White-type sweeping hands) is the center of the bed and I’m (more sweeping of hands) over here.”

He drops onto his back to continue his sound sleep, and his obnoxious snoring. I spend the rest of the evening tossing and turning while I struggle to compose a snappy retort. (I have yet to come up with one.) In the morning, he remembers nothing of the events that transpired in his sleep and cheerily kisses me good morning.

I’m learning to sleep with one eye open, but recently missed the rustling sounds that indicate a possible attack. I awoke to husband’s hands wrapped around my forearm, attempting to strangle it to death. I’m not sure what demons are chasing him, but I have to admire his willingness to turn and fight.

I remember a time I was walking with my small nephew, Josh, when his much older and taller cousin, Ben, jumped out and yelled “BOO!” Josh immediately grabbed his walking stick and poked Ben in the eye. While I, without a care for my poor little nephew, turned and ran [similar event here], only stopping when I heard Ben cursing a blue streak. (This  story also comes with the added joy of spending the rest of the vacation shouting “Arg, ye matey!” at Ben in his eye patch.)

But, I digress. In fact, I think I’ve digressed during my digression. This is what happens when you put a sleep-deprived writer/wife in front of a computer.

P.S – if any of you are in Kansas City – come and check me out next Friday (not THIS Friday, NEXT Friday) at this performance:

WTF Logo

Presents
STORIES MY MOTHER DOESN’T WANT ME TO TELL
A dramatic and comedic reading by The WTF Writers’ Group
featuring
Bob Chrisman, Jessica Conoley, Teresa Vratil, and Dane Zeller
at
VALA Gallery
5834 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kansas, 66202
Friday, May 17, 2013
7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

My Fall From Chaos-Handling Glory to the Wickedest of Witichiness

I’m someone who’s spent their entire existence dealing with the chaos that crops up in life. And, I like to think I did it without too much screaming and yelling

Handled with the tenderness of a teddy bear

Handled with the tenderness of a teddy bear

Older relatives say my ability to handle pandemonium started when I was a little girl. Great Aunt Margie tells of walking into our house, after Mom’s sixth or seventh child, (she’d lost count) and seeing me standing on a stool so I could reach the kitchen sink, washing a mountain of dirty dishes.

Add a couple more brothers, and our house went from confusion to chaos and I handled it all. When I left home I carried the chaos, and the ability to handle it, with me.

I went from living in my parents’ tiny dilapidated farmhouse to living in tiny dilapidated apartments. Some catastrophe or another always befell me  – like the time the building was condemned, or when I discovered the owner going through my underwear drawer, or the place that was haunted by a handsome tennis player (yes, this happened).

I divorced and moved, with my young son in tow, from apartment to apartment…sometimes twice in one year. Our lives were in constant chaos and yet, I dealt with it – without any major meltdowns.

If there were Olympic medals for wrestling with the triathlon of Surprises, Problems and Emergencies – I would have used my well-toned Chaos Muscles and won the gold.

Now, after years in the same chaos-free home, with the same chaos-free husband, we’ve decided to sell and move to something smaller.

Evidently, a short fifteen years of non-use can cause olympic-sized Chaos Muscles to atrophy — to the point where a mere call from the realtor that someone wanted to view our house, sent me into chaos-hating cranky mode.

I loaded up my laptop and headed to Starbucks, cursing all the way. At least, what I consider cursing.

“Darn it,” I swore, “I’ll never get my blog post written now,”

I ordered my cappuccino and after sitting down in a hard wooden chair, realized that my world would be ending soon because I’d forgotten my ear buds or, worse, the mouse! “Fiddlesticks,” I cussed.

Day after day, this happened until…well…ummm…I sorta snapped.

My expletive-loving friend, Kerry – the one who named our critique group WTF so as to cause me constant embarrassment when I tell people the name of it – demanded that I post our recent text conversation.

Well, to quote her directly, she wrote “OMG! Laughing my fucking ass off!!! You need to post that on Crazie Town!!!”

So I am…and what follows is a true-life dialog depicting my fall into the Wickedest of Witchiness.

Kerry wrote: Hey, T.  What’s going on with the house? Any more bites? And where r u moving to anyway?

After massaging my aching Chaos Muscles, I replied:

@#$%!@^$&#$*

@#$%!@^$&#$*

All questions that make me mad at Husband, some of them for no fucking good reason.

Where are we moving to you ask??? Started this whole process because Husband wanted no more maintenance. We start looking at maintenance free places and he fucking doesn’t want to pay the HOA. Wants to look at houses. WE FUCKING OWN A HOUSE!

We had a great offer on the second day but then he added stuff in the contract like “we will not be held responsible…selling property as is…”  She walked away and I was so fucking mad!

Then, we got an offer higher than the lost offer and…I was fucking mad because he’s so fucking lucky and I couldn’t be fucking mad at him anymore!