This week did not get off to a good start.
On Tuesday, after I returned from a workout at the gym, I sat down at the home computer to send a couple of quick e-mails.
Tuesdays are my busy days. I have to prepare for class, run to the gym, take a fast shower and then head to the college. Some days I have just enough time to slug down a yogurt for lunch before students start arriving for our afternoon seminar.
Taking the time for e-mails was risky. Or so I thought.
The moment I was ready to hit the *SEND* button, the lights flickered, there was a muted whirring sound and all went dark.
That’s not unusual out here in the woods. For some reason, we seem to be wired with cast-off technology from the former Soviet Republics. About every month, either the phone or the electricity goes out. The utility company once told me there was a problem with “moist weather.” I swear.
So, now it’s noon and I’m in the throes of a classic Hobson’s Choice: do I shower and go to class as a wet-head (no hair dryer, remember?) or skip the shower, do what I can do, and fashion some reasonable sculpture out of old hair gels?
I went with the gels.
Later, while standing on a dusty ladder trying to trip the electric garage door opener so I can get my car out, I found my mind drifting to other character-building moments. Or to be more specific, I was heating up for one of those full-tilt THINGS THAT TICK ME OFF tirades.
So, buckle up, dear reader. I’m lettin’ loose!
TICK NUMBER ONE.
Why doesn’t anyone yield on entrance ramps anymore? Didn’t they take Driver’s Ed? You know who I’m talking about. That red Civic comes barreling down the entrance ramp just as you’re getting ready to pass the merge zone. But do they hesitate, slow down a little to allow you to speed on by? NOOOooooooo! In fact, they speed up, taunt you, push as much Honda pedal-to-the-metal as that little Civic will take and force YOU to do the yielding. It’s a metaphor for the whole country, isn’t it? No one yields anymore. What’s with that?!?
TICK NUMBER TWO
I know I’ll suffer the wrath of musical lovers everywhere, but I can’t stand Glee. Or more specifically, I can’t stand that guy on Glee. The teacher. The one with the corrugated hair. Can’t stand the wrinkled forehead, the simpering looks and definitely can’t stand the upstage-the-kids prancing. Now don’t get me wrong. If Jane Lynch had a cable channel, I would be a charter subscriber. I’ve watched Best in Show about ten times. But that Glee guy? Ruins the whole thing for me. And don’t even get me started on his vests.
TICK NUMBER THREE
Crest toothpaste. I’ve used Crest for years. I like the squeeze tube with the blue paste—whatever that flavor is. And that’s the problem. There are too many Crests. Have you stood in front of the toothpaste aisle lately? Here’s an abbreviated rundown on what awaits you at your friendly neighborhood Crest display:
Crest 3D Advanced Vivid
Baking Soda Peroxide Whitening with Tartar Protection
Baking Soda Peroxide Whitening with Tartar Protection Striped
Cavity Protection Gel
Multicare Whitening Gel
Minty Fresh Liquid Gel
Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection
For Me Fluoride Anticavity
Sensitivity Clinical Relief
And my personal favorite: Barbie Burstin’ Bubblegum Gel
Just tell me which one is the squeeze tube with blue paste. PLUUEEZE!
Contemplating the dizzying array of choices at the toothpaste aisle reminds me of my grandfather. Florence Wilhelm Ackmann was a kind and patient man. I can remember only one time when he bristled and that moment became family legend. Grandma handed him a grocery list and off he dutifully went to the corner market. When he returned an hour later ruffled and irritated, we knew something was wrong. “Beans?!” he complained, waving the list. “What kind of beans? Green beans? Pork and Beans? Lima Beans? Kidney Beans? Navy Beans?” At the end of his rope, he let loose with a final salvo, reverting to his German roots. “Verdammit Bohen!!,” he cried—the grocery list fluttering to the floor.
Maybe I should have uttered that ringing family phrase as I stood on tip-toe trying to trigger the garage door opener with wayward hair glued to my head in a helmet of sheen.
That phrase does make a person feel better.