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365 Reasons to Smile – Day 14

I was pregnant with my son, working full-time and completing my master’s degree when the movie In and Out was released. Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of spare time, but my husband and I went to see it anyway.

And the time spent away from my studies was well worth it.

I still love the movie, and I particularly love the scene when Kevin Kline is trying to prove his masculinity.

That clip always makes me smile.

Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity

Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay

Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial

Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

The Turmoil of Men, Women, Misery, Illness, Martyrs and Marriage

mancodeBy the end of last week, I was wondering why my husband had married me. Only two days earlier, I’d been wondering why I’d married him.

According to friends, that’s not unusual in a long-term relationship, but I’m not sure my friends truly understand the ugly monster that threatens to wreak havoc on my marriage.

Some call it being sick while others call it having an illness. Personally, I prefer when people say they are feeling “a bit under the weather.” That means they may not be operating at full potential, but at least they are still functioning.

And therein lies the problem.

Whether because of how I was raised or because of my God-given Type A  personality, I have an innate belief that when people don’t feel well, they should still try to make some contribution to society.

My husband, on the other hand, believes that the first sniffle or wave of nausea indicates he should lie in bed all day moaning.

O.K., maybe he’s not that quite that bad… anymore.  He has, after all, lived with me long enough to know that I’m not the type to provide much comfort when he’s sick. Instead, I am much more likely to tell him to, “suck it up.” At times, I’ve even  gone so far as to accuse him of using illness as an excuse to avoid the “honey do” list or to get attention.

I know, that makes me a very bad wife and explains why I’ve questioned that fact he married me. But please note that I’m not a completely bad person.

I DO  have empathy for people who are sick, and I DO believe people need to take care of themselves so they recovery quickly and don’t get worse. And I certainly don’t want people coming to work sick. The problem is, I don’t allow myself to take it easy when I’m sick, and therefore set the same expectations for my husband.

Maybe it’s just a man/woman thing.  A few years ago, my husband sent me a link to a scene from a British sitcom in which a man believes he’s on his death bed because he has a “man cold.” 

I could completely relate, and I think my husband did too.

Last week, he came down with the stomach bug, and I came down with a strong case of irritation. Not only did I have to take on all his household obligations, but he didn’t even offer to try to help. That would have made me feel much better, especially since I always play the martyr when I’m sick. There are many times when I’ve been running a fever or had the stomach virus and insisted that I still had to walk the dog or the world will come to an end.

In hindsight, I was more than just irritated last week, I was also fearful. I didn’t want anyone else in the house to get sick.  And while my irritation wasn’t justified, my fear was.

Years ago, when the children were still quite small, the stomach bug caught us all at the same time. Having to take care of small children with the stomach virus is messy, esp when you are suffering the same ailment. At one point, I broke my own rule of silent suffering and proclaimed, “could this possible get any worse?”

It could. As if on cue, one of our two dogs walked into the room and threw up on the carpet. And yes, I was the one who had to clean up that mess too.

So even though my husband thought I was a bit insane last week when I following him around with Lysol and insisting he thoroughly sterilize the bathroom each time he used he, I think he understood just a little.

On the positive side, no one else in the house got sick. At least, not yet.

The Misadventures of Mr. Muffet, My Chronically Confused Cat

 Mr. Muffet was never destined  for greatness, dignity or even a long life.

Quite the opposite in fact.

The moment he joined our family, his fate was sealed.

I was too young to remember how Mr. Muffet arrived at our house or even when his name changed.

All I know is that Mr. Muffet was Miss Muffet until my cat-loving grandmother from Massachusetts visited our Oregon home.  All things considered, my grandmother probably thought my parents were trying to make some kind of statement about gender stereotypes, but she wasn’t going to have any of it.  She told them in no uncertain terms that Miss Muffet was just not an appropriate name for a male cat.

My father, who had previously tried unsuccessfully to breed rabbits, (he was unsuccessful because they were all female) heeded her advice, and Mr. Muffet’s name was modified accordingly. But his status as a full-fledged member of the family never changed.

Which, apparently, is why he went with us on a family vacation to the Oregon Coast.

I was recently reminded of the trip during a conversation with a couple of co-workers.  Both were discussing the trauma of having to ship their cats overseas.

“I’ve never shipped a cat,” I said.  “But I do remember the time my family took our cat to the beach.”

They both looked at me in disbelief.

“Why,” they wanted to know, “would you take your cat to the beach?”

I couldn’t answer their question.  But since cats were the topic, curiosity got the best of me. I had to call my mom and ask why.

“I don’t remember,” she told me.

“But we did take the cat to the beach, didn’t we?” I asked.

“Yes, we did,” she answered. “I just don’t remember why. Probably because cats are easy, and we didn’t want to travel an hour to have him boarded.”

I didn’t even ask why a neighbor couldn’t have taken care of Mr. Muffet. Instead, I pressed on with the bigger issue. “And he pooped in the car, right?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “Yes, your memory is correct.  He pooped in the car.”

She was obviously done with the conversation, so I didn’t push the issue.  But I did tell my co-workers that I wasn’t imagining the trip.

Not only did we take Mr. Muffet on vacation with us, but we didn’t even have a carrier for him.  (Were cat carriers even around in the early 1970’s?)  Because of that, he was simply free to move around the cabin.  But he didn’t. He stayed on the vent behind the back seat where my brother and I were riding.

That was either his favorite spot or he was too terrified to move, even when he had to poop. As a result, he pooped in the vent right behind my head.

There is no way to describe 1) the smell, or 2) how determined my mother was to get the mess cleaned up.

My mom was determined for a long, long time.

The good news for Mr. Muffet was that he soon had a lot more places to poop.

Always an equal member of the Bartlett family, Mr. Muffet accompanied us on our first walk on the beach (a beach comprised mostly of sand dunes.)  He probably thought he’d landed in the world’s largest litter box.

He did his best to take advantage of the situation, but after an hour of running through the dunes, scratching in the sand and doing his business, the poor cat was simply exhausted.

Fortunately, our trip home was much less memorable than the one to the coast. Unfortunately, I don’t have many more memories of Mr. Muffet.

He disappeared shortly after the infamous vacation.

For years, I was convinced that a less adventurous family had found and adopted him. I was equally sure that he was quite relieved that he didn’t have to live with my crazy family anymore.

I was well into adulthood before I learned the truth:  Mr. Muffet had been hit by a truck on the highway near our home.

I appreciate that my parents tried to protect me from the facts, but I also think they were trying to protect themselves. I’m certain that the adventures with Mr. Muffet had a significant impact on them.

He was, after all, my only cat growing up. After he “disappeared,”  we only had dogs.  And, I must say, dogs travel a lot better.

It’s Not an Afternoon, or a Morning or Any Other Delight

I’ve never considered myself a snob.  Not an “I want to feel more important than someone else” snob, or a food snob or a music snob.

Especially not a music snob.  How could I  be when you can find me listening to just about anything on my Ipod? And when I say anything, I really do mean anything.  The music  on my beloved Ipod ranges from musical theater to punk and just about everything in between.

But even I, the person who knows all the lyrics to every song in  the musical “Oklahoma,” have my limits.

And they were reached this week at the local Sheetz station.

I admit that I generally enjoy the music playing over the speakers while I pump gas.  It tends to be fairly retro, so I can happily sing along to the Eagles or Lynard Skynard or  Bob Segar while ignoring the dollar amounts flying by on the gas pump.

I used to think it was a great marketing strategy dreamed up by someone half my age: “Play old-time music, and those middle-aged people with their gas-guzzling SUV’s will be so distracted they won’t care about the cost of gas. They might even buy a made-to-order food item because they aren’t paying attention to the cost.”

I was wrong.  Either that, or someone who developed the playlist for Sheetz had absolutely no clue what they were doing.

Because  this time, as I swiped my debit card, I heard the strains of a song that took me back – but not in a good way.  Instead, it was more like a fingernails scraping on a blackboard way.  (For those of you who don’t know what a blackboard is – it’s the prehistoric version of a smart board.)

At first, I couldn’t believe I was actually hearing it.  “Gonna f ind my baby gonna hold her tight. Gonna grab some afternoon delight. My motto has always been when it’s right it right. Why wait until the middle of the cold dark night.”

Really? It was only 7:30 in the morning and I was taking my 13-year old son to school.

Instead of putting me in a good mood, the song was irritating me. Really irritating me. Because, even though I don’t like the song, I know the words. So when I went inside to buy a coffee, I actually found myself singing along.

Singing along to one of the most obnoxious songs in history.

I tried voicing my complaint about the music selection to the clerk, but she gave me a completely blank stare, ignored my complaint and asked if I needed anything else. When I told her that what I really  needed was for her to change the music, I got another blank stare.

So I reverted to my only other option.

I posted my complaint about the music on Facebook.

By the time I got to the office, there were several comments about my Facebook post, including one trying to convince me the song was actually about the menu at a restaurant and not about an afternoon tryst. But others were eager to set that person straight.  And while I appreciated the support, none of the comments were helping get the song out of my head. It was just there.. repeating over and over again.

And since I was suffering, I felt the need to make others suffer. So, I brought the song up on an office computer and made my co-worker listen to it.

Not only was she not happy, but my boss, who had been in  an executive committee meeting, took that exact moment to leave the meeting and come into our office. He sauntered over to the computer and asked what I was doing.

What could I say? There, in all its glory  was the Starland Vocal Band, singing about  rubbing  sticks and stones together and making sparks ignite. If the lyrics weren’t bad enough, the band members’ horrible hair and the bell-bottoms were.

My boss glanced at my computer and said, “Hey, I remember that kind of music,” then walked away.

I decided Facebook was safer. I clicked off the video and back onto Facebook. I decided to “like” the comment from the person who said she thought she saw a blog coming on.

And, to her credit, there was.