Tag Archives: quirks

Drive Thru. No Thanks.

There are great multitudes of things my husband refuses to do based on what I assume are a warped set of principles. To name a few: He won’t put up a Christmas tree on or before Thanksgiving, he won’t arrange the bills in his wallet in any semblance of order and he won’t pull up to a drive-thru window to save himself. I can identify somewhat with the first refusal, since it doesn’t make much sense to celebrate more than one holiday at a time. Although, judging by the profusion of Yuletide merchandise jammed on store shelves shortly after Labor Day, it would seem as though a good portion of society thinks that’s perfectly fine. Not me, however. I just can’t bring myself to haul a wreath or anything Christmas-y out of the attic before I’ve even boxed up the Halloween bats.

As for my husband’s second refusal by contrast, I cannot condone such egregious behavior. Money should be organized according to denomination—and in a perfect world, right side up and all facing the same direction. There are times while we stand together in a checkout line and I roll my eyes as I watch him sift through crumpled wads of cash, dropping some on the floor in the process. Naturally, I have to ask myself who he is and why he acts that way. I can’t even begin to understand what sort of logic goes into decision-making like that. Just knowing that his pockets are filled with completely disordered clumps of money makes my head hurt.

With respect to my husband’s third refusal, I find the man to be a freak of nature—a spectacle that one might be inclined to look upon with both awe and fascination. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a fast food restaurant, convenience store or bank. His reaction is always the same—a flat rejection of my suggestion that he humor me by using the drive-thru window.

“It’s more convenient,” I offer. “You don’t even have to get out of the car. It’s RAINING for God sakes.”

“I’m not going through any gd drive-thru. I haven’t completely lost my mind,” he’s inclined to reply.

I just don’t get it. So after years of witnessing this anomaly, I demanded to know why it happens. It’s not as if he thinks the aforementioned windows are inferior or demonic by any stretch of the imagination. He simply hates the hassle of yelling into a black box that may or may not result in a screw up of the order/transaction and subsequently pulling ahead to pay for said order where there is always the potential for dropping money beneath the car seat or onto the ground before it gets into the right hands. He has a point, I suppose, however I’m inclined to believe none of that will happen.

I honestly don’t know why it bothers him so. It would seem that he could just reach into his pocket and hand the attendant a fistful of bills. Protocol be damned. (See paragraph two related to his monetary habits). Apparently, he prefers to go inside the establishment and engage with people face to face, which isn’t a bad thing per se. I just don’t understand why he is so adamant about it. Nor can I relate to the anxiety he ostensibly feels whenever he must produce the appropriate amount of cash within a short window of time. All of the attendants I’ve ever encountered have been ridiculously patient and eager to help—even if the money in question is embarrassingly disordered.

So imagine my surprise when, in perhaps a weak moment, my husband obliged my hackneyed request to use the drive-thru at Starbucks. Naturally, I was beyond shocked and felt compelled to whip out my iPhone to capture the momentous event on camera.

“Why are you taking a picture?! That’s absurd,” he chided.

“I want to preserve the moment for posterity.”

I’m no dummy. I knew my kids wouldn’t believe me and that I would need proof.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, probably in the drive-thru lane at Starbucks. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2018 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Captain Quirk, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Creatures of Habit

I have a favorite pair of sweatpants that I’ve owned since the Precambrian period. They’re a tired shade of gray, with barely a suggestion of the navy lettering that once graced its cottony surface. American Eagle, I think.

Of course, they’re shamefully dilapidated, torn and tattered beyond all repair. My mother-in-law, master seamstress and sock darner extraordinaire, dug deeply into her repertoire of needle-and-thread-ish miracles time and again to patch them up and make them whole—or at least to make them presentable. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes not. Mostly she just shook her head; dismayed by my stubbornness—and astonished by my inability to recognize when something had long since passed its prime. Then again, I have trouble in the produce aisle.

I admit; most would be embarrassed to be seen with me, clad in such disgraceful toggery, kneecaps naked to the world. What am I saying? My DOG is embarrassed to be seen with me. But the silly things have charm and character and that beloved quality of familiarity. Slipping into said fleeciness in the middle of January or even during a cool summer’s eve feels cozy and oh-so-comfortable—like the warmth of a lover’s arms, the refuge of a mother’s embrace, the company of an old friend. And on those rare occasions, when I entertain the notion of trading them in for something shiny and new, I feel nothing less than the shame of betrayal. The ignominy of sin.

Simply put, I cannot bear the thought of parting with my cherished garb; although my rational left-brained self knows better. The wretched things need to be ditched. Out with the old. In with the new.

I suppose I’m no better or worse than anyone else who has ever been mired in denial, inextricably attached to all-that-is-worn-and-hackneyed. We all have issues of a similar sort. Some are just more debilitating than others. That being said, my husband refuses to chuck any of his shabby, old t-shirts, which are perhaps some of the most pathetic examples of apparel on the face of the earth (second only to my sweatpants). Indeed, he lovingly deems those prized entities as something far from archaic. “They’re seasoned,” he defends. “Broken-in like a good leather ball glove.” He won’t dispose of his blasted water shoes either, which now sport portholes through which his toes protrude freely. Gak! Oddly enough, the man owns another pair. Brand spanking new ones with nary a defect. He bought them because he knew it was time for a change, only he couldn’t follow through. Apparently, it’s against his religion.

Needless to say, dysfunction doesn’t fall far from our family tree. Eccentricity flourishes under this roof and there is barely a day without someone hoarding something that ought not to. Ratty toothbrushes, Band-Aid boxes (Hello Kitty, of course), rocks of all shapes and sizes, bits and scraps of discarded paper, foolish tripe found on the bus or at school. And the list goes on. But the most bizarre item yet has been a brown paper snack bag for which a certain seven-year-old developed a crippling affinity. The bag itself was quite ordinary with regard to its form and function, however when its tour of duty surpassed the bounds of reasonableness (a month, maybe?), that’s when I hit the “Now this is just about ENOUGH!” button. “I can’t keep patching up these stinking holes with tape! It’s ridiculous! The bag is a train wreck!” (Read: I have taped tape on top of tape, and if I have to tape anymore, I’m going to screeeeeam! This is not a freakingtriage center for paper goods!)

Of course, we have a bazillion perfectly wonderful bags (WITHOUT CAVERNOUS HOLES) that have been at my daughter’s disposal since September. Bags begging to be toted to school…eager to be personalized with her scratches and scribbles…hankering for the opportunity (tedious though it might be) to house the EXACT SAME SNACK each and every day from now till eternity!

“But I like my bag. And my teacher likes my bag. She thinks the doggies I drew on it are pretty. I’m keeping it for-ever and EVER! And the little holes are cool because they let me peek inside to see what I have for my snack.” Are you forgetting, my dear child, that you ask for the SAME thing every day?! Apparently so. That being said, we couldn’t use duct tape for the massive and multiple repairs (tempting though it might have been), because that would negate the whole peeking-at-the-stupid-snack dealie. Arrrrg!

The kid will probably grow up to be a sock darner. It’s also likely I’ll be buried in my sweatpants.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at http://www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Small Potatoes

My husband and I argue over some of the most inane things on the planet—like the cubic circumference of vegetable chunks I add to meatloaf. Like whether or not ketchup ruins said meatloaf. Like whether to twirl or cut (Gasp!) linguini. How to open an envelope. Seriously. To tuck (or not tuck) sheets. How the bills ought to be arranged in one’s wallet. Whether one should carry a wallet at all. How the lawn ought to be mowed. The laundry, folded. The driveway, shoveled. Whether it’s eggshell or ecru. Let or leave.

It’s small potatoes really. All of it. So is the idiocy at the very core of our latest and greatest debate—the matter of dealing with poo. More specifically, dog poo. Round and round we go each day—wrangling over the wisdom of carrying a trusty Ziploc bag, a wad of Kleenexes and a teensy-weensy bottle of Purell on our jaunts with Jack, “just in case” he makes a deposit where he ought not to make a deposit (i.e. in someone’s lawn, driveway or smack in the middle of our heavily-trodden street).

I, for one, think it’s ludicrous to lug said poopie paraphernalia around. It’s entirely unnecessary, completely assumptive and downright spineless to plan for the disaster that may, in fact, never occur. The Boy Scout I married, however, begs to differ. Mister Preparedforanythingandeverything insists that traveling with hand sanitizer and a sandwich baggie (turned inside-out for added convenience) is one of the most sensible and socially responsible things a dog owner can do. So much for living on the edge, throwing caution to the wind and prudence under the bus. And never mind the off chance that Mister Fuzzypants could indeed do his business right where we want him to—making the whole blasted issue a nonissue.

Unlike the man who could likely produce anything in an instant (from biodegradable camouflage toilet paper to a fingernail file), I’d like to think I identify more closely with the rebels of the world—like the cool jocks in tenth grade who never wore coats, brown-bagged it or carried an extra pencil to class. They traveled light to and from their celebrated lockers. So do I—at least when I walk the dang dog. No namby-pamby foolishness encumbers me. Nope. What’s more, I refuse to be hampered by a pooper-scooper device (i.e. a glorified burger flipper in which the “gift” can be both housed and transported efficiently). Besides, I’m resourceful—some would even argue eco-friendly—when it comes to dealing with poo, and I don’t need some fancy-schmancy gizmo to master the mess my dog makes. Not when perfectly good oak and maple leaves are at my disposal.

At least that’s what I used to think—before disaster rained down on me like a scourge during one of those merry excursions around the block late last fall. As luck would have it, Jack felt compelled to unload in someone’s immaculately manicured lawn; and despite my insistence that that was not an especially good idea, the little miscreant did it anyway. I was then faced with a supreme challenge: to somehow scoop it up (with leaves that were nowhere to be found), move it across the street (careful not to drop it or the leash which was tethered to the dog, now wild with delirium over his recent doo-doo success) and fling it deep into the brush—where no one, ostensibly, would trod upon it. It was a tall order, indeed. And although I doubt there was an audience, the scene had to have been indescribably amusing as it unfolded frame by humiliating frame.

Frantically I searched the vicinity for the leaves that were EVERYWHERE just days before, settling for what I could find—some pathetic-looking scraps of leafy matter with which I planned to wrap those nuggets of repulsiveness, still warm and disgustingly steamy. Of course, nothing went smoothly. The foul matter in question refused to cooperate, hideously fusing itself to the grass and failing to remain intact as I gathered and scraped in vain. Naturally, this necessitated that I shuffle across the road not once, but SEVERAL times, hunched over my stench-ridden prize as if it were the last lit candle on earth.

All the while, my silly dog danced and pranced alongside me, hopelessly entwining my legs with the leash, thoroughly convinced that I was playing some sort of twisted version of Keep-Away. Needless to say, pieces of poo kept dropping onto the pavement behind me—a Hansel and Gretel trail of repugnance that mocked my efforts, sorely lacking though they were. I had no choice but to painstakingly pick them up and hurl them into oblivion along with the rest of the gunk—all the while preventing the dog from snatching them out of my hand or chasing them into the brush. Eventually, the deed was done. There was but a tiny reminder of the episode lingering on my fingertips and aside from the humiliation I suffered, I had escaped relatively unscathed.

Indeed, small potatoes.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Doggie Diamonds

On the Cusp of Christmas: 12 Days of Lunacy

It has certainly been said that normal is relative. Clichés aside, the only notion of which I am completely certain is that my family is relatively un-normal—especially during the maddening month of December. For whatever reason, being on the cusp of Christmas seems to make those with whom I reside even more deranged than usual. I am no exception.

Once the feathery flakes and the distinctive sound of sleigh bells fill the air (and the bitter cold makes me seriously entertain the notion of spooning the dog), I am smitten with holiday cheer. I make lists. I shop. I hang mistletoe here and a slew of stockings there. I heap great masses of fake pine boughs atop windows and door frames, twisting it unmercifully around banisters and idle children. I devise convoluted and exceedingly impracticable (read: destined-to-fail) plans for that-which-needs-to-be-done-before-Christmas. I begin squirreling away Scotch tape and shameful quantities of wrapping paper that beckon to me from afar. I formulate a cheesy State of the Union/holiday letter in my head, vowing to embellish twice as much as last year. I actually clean—because it is ENTIRELY WRONG to set a crèche full of camels, sheep, the wise guys et al upon a layer of dust so thick it would choke the sweet baby Jesus. Sprinkle me with a wealth of tacky ads aimed at my heart (yet cleverly striking my wallet and guilt-ridden, impulse-buying command center) and I’m well on my way to becoming profoundly immersed in the season of good cheer. Ho ho ho.

Yet it is clear the Yuletide frenzy thing plays no favorites in this household. Indeed, I watched it literally consume a seemingly lucid individual (aka Captain Quirk) as it drove him to hoist his entire body into the far recesses of our attic at an ungodly and completely frigid hour—so that he might haul wreaths, herds of electric deer and plastic whateverness to the lawn. He then hammered a multitude of tent stake thingies into the frozen ground (sans gloves)—so the hoofed creatures would, in theory, refrain from toppling over and making a mockery of his efforts. And let us not forget the colorful language that filled the air that night, the clothes that offered a mere suggestion of warmth and the ferreting-around-in-the-basement for a tangle of extension cords that were decidedly less-than-cooperative—especially when our heathens wove deliriously in and around said lawn luminaries. For a fleeting moment, he foolishly considered stringing lights, too, and hunting for a stupid screw to repair an apparent defect that made our antlered wonder violently jerk its head back and forth.

Thankfully, though, those little thoughts went away.

Of course, the circus-like hauling-of-Christmas-décor could have waited until the wind stopped howling. Or until sunrise. Or mid-damned-day for that matter. Sadly, the man’s thoughts and actions on that particular evening were not related to anything derived by logic. December lunacy had struck with a vengeance.

Later that week, in fact, it led us both to question the notion that we were fairly sensible parents—having succumbed to the irresistible allure of a last minute/late night sale in which we chose to drag our sorry brood through aisle after aisle of wonderfulness kid-tedium on a (gasp!) SCHOOL NIGHT so that we might snatch some good deals on Christmas gifts for friends and family. “Mom, don’t you know we’re THE ONLY KIDS in here?!”

Naturally, my husband and I blame our inexcusably imprudent behavior on the celebrated 12 Days of Lunacy.

Even our charges have been afflicted with this so-called malady, cleverly weaving coveted items into everyday conversations, leaving updated versions of wish lists seemingly everywhere, laying fliers from various toy stores in can’t-miss-it regions of our home and dog-earing favorite pages for our convenience. What’s more, Frick and Frack have been acting peculiar since the first of the month—remembering to flush toilets, to pick up their shoes and to abstain from bludgeoning one another with snow shovels and whatnot. That said, they’ve been minding their p’s and q’s almost to a sickening degree, obsessing over the very uncertain nature of being placed on Santa’s “Nice List” methinks.

A coincidence, no?

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (on the cusp of Christmas). Visit me there at www.melindawentzel.com.

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Captain Quirk, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Normal is Relative, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, Vat of Complete Irreverence, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

The Accidental Parent

When it comes to the uncertain journey of parenting, I tend to believe that success has less to do with the desperate search for a one-size-fits-all prescriptive guide (that may or may not exist) and more to do with perceiving nuances in the landscape of our children’s lives, gathering information much like rain and trying ever so madly to adapt to the shifting terrain and impossible demands placed upon us day in and day out. To show up, to invest ourselves wholly in the process of nurturance and to do our level best—imperfect as that most assuredly is. And while I feel fairly certain of my many and varied failings as a parent, there are times during which the gods smile upon me—and I get it right, often in spite of myself. Indeed, much of what works in terms of child rearing I’ve either conveniently borrowed or stumbled into purely by happenstance.

Such was the case with the celebrated Math Hat, so named for its astonishing ability to impart both mathematical competence and never-before-seen composure in the face of frustration (i.e. that which is prompted by the inherent evil of math-related homework—or so it is perceived at times by a certain couple of somebodies presently in the fourth grade). Imagine my surprise (read: unspeakable joy) upon witnessing nothing short of a garden-variety miracle in my living room as Thing Two donned said hat in the throes of an epic meltdown (over something as asinine as arithmetic) only to emerge as a capable, composed pupil who willingly—almost gleefully—tackled the remaining problems without the suggestion of protest. It’s rumored she was smiling as well.

I’m quite sure I stood there like a buffoon, slack-mouthed and completely baffled by this seemingly fortuitous turn of events. Of course, I felt compelled to snatch the silly thing from her head in an effort to demystify that which was fairly incomprehensible to me, but I resisted. Instead I hurled a torrent of questions in her direction. “What on earth just happened?! Why aren’t you bothered PROFOUNDLY EXASPERATED by your math homework anymore?! Who are you and what have you done with my belligerent child?!” She then grinned, shrugged her shoulders and adjusted her newfound talisman. “I don’t know, Mom, but it helps me and I’m gonna call it my Math Hat (pronounced in the spirit of Aflac). Weird, isn’t it?”

Weird doesn’t begin to describe it,” I mused. Four-leaf clovers…I get. Amulets…I vaguely appreciate. The whole Feng-Shui-Chi-Yin-and-Yang thing makes a fair amount of sense to me. But the freakishly magical nature of that stupid, thrift store-inspired hat bordered on the bizarre. Clearly, it was far more impressive than any thinking cap could ever hope to be, and I was convinced that there had to be a cheerleading squad somehow stuffed inside said knitted wonder, likely shouting encouragement, praise AND ANSWERS into the waiting ears of my dear child.

Granted, I had offered the hat as a diversion—to take her mind off the dreaded task of rounding numbers and whatnot: “Stop thinking of stabbing me with your pencil…Put your pencil down and check out the funky-looking hat I picked up today for the Christmas play.” Who knew something so simple would serve as the sanity cocktail we both so desperately needed.

Logically, I was then driven to delve deeper into the notion of accidental successes, eager to lend credence to my curious findings. Translation: I Googled the tar out of the topic, uncovering a host of interesting and important discoveries that were unintentionally made. Like Post-It Notes and Super Glue, Velcro and Vaseline, blue jeans and the microwave oven. Let us not forget penicillin. Furthermore, I came across Greg Pincus, founder of The Happy Accident, another individual who embraces the serendipity effect—using social media to help create the right conditions for unexpected benefits in a variety of areas. Only then did I come to the realization that so many of my important discoveries as a parent qualify as happy accidents—including the aforementioned Math Hat.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (fetching the Math Hat on a regular basis).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "G" is for Guilt, "S" is for Shame, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Homework Hell, School Schmool, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction