Revenge a Dish Best Served on Dirty Plates

My husband claims I write a skewed version of the truth about him once a month. He refers, of course, to PMS days–those dark times when Hubby and the kids find it necessary to Pummel My Sanity.

Well, I say turnabout is fair play. After all, his co-workers receive a skewed version of the truth about me daily. This makes for some pretty bizarre conversation at company parties.

HUBBY’S CO-WORKER: So glad to finally meet you. I heard all about your incredible diet!

ME: Hunh?

CO-WORKER: How you lost 300 pounds! Yeah! And before that–how you made a size 66 wedding dress–from SAIL CLOTH, for gosh sakes–it’s inspirational!

ME: I am inspired to explain something about my husband’s sense of humor…

Or take this beach picnic chat:

HUBBY’S CO-WORKER: So! You completed a dog obedience course recently, eh?

ME: Yeah.

COWORKER: Tell me how exactly you used those techniques to teach your kids to fetch!

ME: What?

COWORKER: Must be something to see that kid balancing a bonbon on his nose!

ME: Excuse me a minute, will ya? Oh, Hubby dear, where are you?

I figure I have years of payback to squish into a monthly Pummel My Sanity column.

Speaking of which, ever notice how some men act when they’re confronted with housework they don’t normally do, like cleaning bathrooms or doing dishes?

HUBBY: This kitchen is a sty! (Hubby is an engineer with incredible powers of observation.)

HUBBY: Somebody needs to clean it up! (Here he uses an engineer’s problem-solving capabilities.)

HUBBY: Yep. Somebody needs to clean up this sty! (Engineers recap a lot, unless it’s a toothpaste tube.)

ME: Hubby, I’m swamped! Maybe you could do it?

HUBBY: Oh, sure, you’d like that. Why don’t I just take over ALL the household chores? I’m practically doing everything right now.

ME: You mow the lawn and you wash your car.

HUBBY: What else needs to be done around here?

To be totally fair, I admit Hubby works a lot of overtime at his day job, which is why I usually do the housework. And he does clean the kitchen occasionally.

Usually it goes like this:

HUBBY: I am DOING the DISHES NOW. Where is the detergent? What? I have to scrub pots? Why are we using pots? Where did all the dirty plates come from? Yuck! Gross. Are those crumbs on the floor? Yes! There are crumbs on the floor! Who left those crumbs on the floor? Where does this pan go? Where do we put the salt and pepper? Hey, the honey jar is sticky! Don’t look at me like that, little missee. I’m just trying to understand how come the honey jar gets sticky!

The soliloquy lasts about an hour. Then the boys and I get a tour.

HUBBY: This is what a clean kitchen looks like. Just look at this nice, clean kitchen. And see, I swept the floor. I used the broom. I used the dustpan, too. And I pushed the chairs in at the table! The toaster’s put away, too. Cool, hunh? And no spills on the cooktop, because I cleaned them all up. And see here? I cleaned out the sink. I used a non-abrasive cleanser. Yup! No scratches. This kitchen never looked so good.

ME: Sure it does! When I clean it up.

HUBBY: You clean?

In conclusion, I want to squelch once and for all a rumor going around at Hubby’s place of employment

After Hubby regained consciousness, the reverend did find him competent enough to continue with the ceremony. Therefore we ARE legally married.

PMS my foot.

Pushed to a Frizzle

Remember that pain-in-the-neck kid in your class who was always jerking her arm into the air and whining, “Let me do it! Let me do it!”?

I never grew out of that.

When the PTA Chair mentioned it was too bad nobody wanted to play the cartoon character for the Book Fair, countless years of frustrated acting ambition erupted out of me. I almost knocked her down grabbing the costume box.

It was my chance, my big break. It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it would be the best, darn… I looked at the box. The label read: “Magic School Bus–Ms. Frizzle–Our Universe.”

All right then, it would be the best, darn Ms. Frizzle the PTA had ever seen.

I went home and popped some Magic School Bus videos into the VCR. Turns out, Ms. Frizzle is an eccentric teacher who always wears outfits matching her science topic. She drives a magic school bus that transports her class to exotic locales like outer space and the human digestive tract.

Confident I had a handle on her motivation, I opened the costume box. Inside was a red wig and a dress plastered with stars and planets. There were even shoe buckles shaped like Saturn.

Pulling her dress on over my head, I immediately discovered something about Ms. Frizzle I didn’t notice in the videos.

Ms. Frizzle was stacked.

You don’t often see an hourglass figure like hers anymore. Nowadays the beauty standard is less hourglass and more “candy apple on a stick.” Unfortunately, my candy apple is upside down.

I’d need some major planetary bodies to fill out her dress. Digging through my dusty lingerie drawer, I found the Wonder-Bra I’d been too embarrassed to return. It was… insufficient. To say the least.

Time for the sock drawer. Six pairs later, Ms. Frizzle had a proper foundation under her cosmos.

In fact, Ms. Frizzle was looking pretty hot.

When I returned to the Book Fair the other PTA members cheered. Whether applauding me for filling the job they all hated or because they really liked my appearance, I didn’t know and I didn’t care. Applause can do that to you.

“THANK YOU,” Ms. Frizzle boomed. “NOW, CLASS, LET’S-”

“Save it,” said the PTA chair. “You’re due in kindergarten in five minutes.”

In no time I was swamped by a flash flood of ankle-biters. “NOW, CLASS,” I boomed, “LET’S-”

“Wow! It’s Ms. Frizzle!”

“I wanna ride in the Magic School Bus!”

“I love you, Ms. Frizzle!”

“Ms. Frizzle! Is that lipstick on your teeth?”

I licked my choppers until I got a thumbs up, thanked the kids and moved on. I was a big hit with the first, second and third-graders, too. Flush with success, I headed for the upper elementary playground.

Big mistake.

“Wow! It’s Ms. Frizzle!”

“Haw, haw! Sucker!”

“What a dweeb!”

“Ms. Frizzle, is that Jupiter or is that your butt?”

In my haste to escape I collided with two upper grade girls. As I frantically refastened my wig one of them touched the bodice of my dress.

“Where’s your bust?” she asked.

“Where do you think?” I snapped. “Under a dozen socks and a Wonder-Bra. Satisfied?” I stomped off.

Two minutes later I realized what she’d really asked me: “Where’s your bus?”

Ashamed of myself, I hid in the PTA trailer until my husband picked me up. While he took in the newest wonders in my universe, I blurted out the whole sordid story.

“Hubba, hubba!” he said. “I don’t know who you are, but let’s hurry back to my place before the wife shows up.”

It wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was the best, darn pickup line I’d ever heard.

I Fought the Lawn and the Lawn Won

I’m a bad housekeeper but my hubby is worse, or at least he pretends to be.

He messes up any attempt to clean–a crafty but transparent plot to avoid housework. Supposedly he can’t remember how to sort lights from darks, or that you’re not supposed to wash plastic bags in the dishwasher.

He can’t ever find stuff, either. “You keep changing where things belong!” he complains, like it’s my fault we’ve lived here six years and he still doesn’t know where the ice cubes are.

Eh, I forgive him. At least he works hard at his day job. In fact, he’d been working so much overtime he hadn’t mowed the lawn for a month.

I knew we’d either lose the dog in the back yard or we’d get another nasty association letter informing us we’d lowered our neighbors’ property values again.

So I decided to help Hubby out. After all, I’d appreciate him helping me out sometime, maybe by picking up his dirty socks, or by hanging his clothes on hangers instead of doorknobs.

Inspired, I studied the manual of our Honda mower (an excellent example of “How To” in an easy reading format) and pulled the machine out of the garage.

It started right up. Holding the manual between my teeth, I proceeded to mow the lawn. It turns out mowing is actually a lot like vacuuming, only you have to empty out the bag more often.

I was making neat little vacuum tracks on the lawn when all at once our little cul-de-sac became the most heavily traveled pedestrian thoroughfare in the county.

Several passers-by felt the need to stop and tell me either a) they thought it was great I was doing what my very lucky spouse should be doing, or b) they thought it was rotten I had to do what my no-good, lazy spouse should be doing.

I realized, wow, this is what dads everywhere experience when they’re caught changing their kids’ diapers in public. The insight kept me humble, so I downplayed my marital contribution by telling everyone my scheme about the dirty socks.

Despite all the interruptions, I finished and put the mower away. Then I had to figure out how to work Hubby’s precious edger, a monster with more gearshifts, levers, and knobs than a front-end-loader.

It’s his pride and joy, the biggest edger in San Diego. He bought it in Texas, where Real Men use weed whackers for whacking weeds, not edging lawns.

But the edger manual wasn’t written by anyone who spoke an Earth tongue as a first language. So I gave up on it and instead hosed the lawn clippings off the driveway and down the street to my neighbor Rita’s house. She always appreciates that.

I didn’t tell Hubby–I knew he’d notice my noble gesture on his own. A week later he did notice something. During every sprinkler cycle a geyser the size of Old Faithful gushed in the middle of our lawn, sending gallons of water down the street to wash grass clippings out of Rita’s gutter (something else she’d appreciate).

“How long has that been going on?” Hubby asked, pointing at the fountain in our lawn.

“I don’t know. Usually I sleep through the sprinkler cycle.”

“A sprinkler head’s missing. Did… did somebody… mow the lawn?

“Yeah,” I said proudly. “I did! No need to worry about it this week–I mean, last week.”

“You mowed off a sprinkler head!”

“Really? What was it doing in the middle of the lawn?”

His face showed a sudden alarm. “You didn’t touch my edger, did you?”

“No, I couldn’t figure it out, but if you showed me how…”

Please,” he interrupted, “no need to touch the lawn again. Damn! Now I have to replace that sprinkler head.”

Jeez. The way he was going on about it, you’d think he had to chisel melted plastic bags off the bottom of a dishwasher.

The Other Woman Is a Car

I’ve heard when men reach a certain age they become interested in younger women, new cars, and skiing. I even read something about such men trading in middle-aged wives for “two twenties and some change.”

I figure I’m safe because I’m only 39. If my hubby traded me in before I hit 58 he’d be arrested for consorting with a minor. So let’s move on.

Hubby got a new car. This is a special car… his first brand-new, sporty-type automobile. His last vehicle was an old pickup truck he owned for 15 years, two of which were spent on blocks under a peach tree in Texas.

When we cleaned it out before giving it away we found the keys to our first apartment and a newspaper with the headline: “Bush Hates Broccoli.”

The new car is an Audi with “Quattro,” a heavy-duty road traction option. He’s already discovered this nifty new technology will allow him to drive with a flat tire and not even notice, until people finally wave him down and shout things like “you’ve been driving on a flat tire at an extremely high speed for the last five miles, you dolt.”

I don’t like this car and am afraid to drive it. Its dashboard would give jet pilots instrument envy. It can go from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds, which my husband insists on demonstrating every time we get into the darn thing.

The first time we took a drive in it Hubby did about Warp 8 on the I-15 with the sunroof open and the stereo blaring “Wild Thing.” He leaned over and shouted “isn’t this great?” I couldn’t answer because the G-Forces wouldn’t allow me to do anything except show him my back molars.

For a man who struggles with issues like housework, Hubby certainly seems happy to clean his car. He vacuums it every day, whether he’s driven it or not. He spends two hours washing it every Saturday, whether it needs it or not.

My neighbor Sophie called to let me in on this.

“Bonnie, he’s washing that car again.”

“I know, Sophie.” Why does everyone think the wife doesn’t know?

“He’s touching that car again. He’s caressing that car again.”

“I know, Sophie.” I swallowed the lump in my throat as I tried to remember the last time he touched me like he was touching that car.

“Bonnie, you can’t let this go on. You have your pride. Get out there and fight for your man!”

Sobbing, I hung up. What could I do? That car was everything I wasn’t: young, fast, childless, breathlessly responsive, eager to go places, and she wore baked-on makeup that would never rub off on his collar.

Turns out I didn’t have to do a thing… the Audi hussy did it all for me.

She led him down the garden path at about 90 mph and he got a whopper of a speeding ticket. He spent a Saturday in the “Can’t Drive 55” School of Traffic and then paid a fine that would’ve put our two boys through college. He began to realize his car was a high-maintenance chick.

One Sunday afternoon clinched it. He thought he’d introduce the new mistress to his sister and brazenly took them for a drive on a back road. The hussy spun out and my husband was caught “en flagrante delQuattro.

I love that man and didn’t say a word when I heard about it. And I never will, either.

Unless he takes up skiing.