This is week 156 of The Life of Riley, a weekly post detailing my activities since I ended a thirteen year career as a corporate drone. These posts are usually long, personal, and geared more for my own memory than the reader’s entertainment.
Sunday (Day 1085): Buck & Nancy’s Nuclear Superhero Bike
I made #1GF! a hearty bacon and egg breakfast, and I somehow managed to drop—and break—a full, brand-new box of eggs onto the floor. I should’ve taken the inadvertent sacrifice of a dozen chickens as an omen for how the rest of the day was going to turn out.
We made it out of the house by noon, which seems to be the earliest we can get out of the house without firing up a time machine these days. I still had a list from the day before that I hadn’t managed to make a dent in, so I was granted control of the schedule to make me feel like I was getting something done.
My first stop on the tour? The warehouse food store: Because you never know when a foodpocalypse may strike and limit your access to important foodstuffs like ravioli or Cheerios. We got in the car and I prepared the trunk for an invasion of gargantuan bags and boxes.
On the way to the warehouse food store, I searched the glove box for a tire pressure gauge, and came out with some important letters that were supposed to be mailed two months ago. I blurted, “What the fuck?” before I could stop myself. #1GF!’s hand immediately covered her mouth, muffling her torrent of apologies. I closed my eyes and tried to relax. “You know,” I said, “this might not even be your fault. I could’ve stuck them in there and forgotten about them.”
#1GF! only glanced over at me.
“You know that it could easily have been me.”
“You don’t believe that,” #1GF! said while shaking her head.
“It’s totally possible,” I offered. “And we have no proof. All we have to do is accept the particular version of the past that creates the least conflict, and this problem never existed.” And if that smoothed things over, that’s the way I wanted it to go. I silently berated myself for the rest of the ride.
We filled our food warehouse carriage with enough oversized boxes to get us through the 2012 zombie apocalypse, and got out of there before I could buy any more thirty packs of things we didn’t need. We packed foodstuffs into the trunk to head to the home megastore right down the street. I was finally on the road to getting some things done.
“Hey do you want a water or an apple?” I asked #1GF!, while feeling momentarily clever for packing a cooler for all the thirty pound bags of frozen food.
“You brought apples?” said #1GF! as if apples were a rare commodity that were made from diamonds wrapped in mink.
“I sure did,” I said with a smug smirk. I opened the cooler and pulled out an apple and a water for #1GF!. I stuffed a bag of frozen pasta into the cooler, and realized that there was no way that the tiny goddamned cooler was going to stow the five army-sized bags of frozen food that I bought. That was just bad planning. Maybe if I took the baby’s bottles out, I could fit another one…hold on. I lifted the bag of pasta. Water. Apple. Ice. Water. Apple. Ice. No matter how many times I cataloged the cooler, a baby bottle never ended up on the final list. I had not only forgotten the baby’s bottle, but sabotaged going to the home megastore up the street because the baby was approaching feeding time and we had no food for her. Once again, I silently berated myself for the entire forty minute ride home.
#1GF! went inside to feed the baby, while I ferried all of the unbagged oversized items from the car. My list was still longer than I wanted it to be, so once the baby was fed, I wanted to go back out. And that’s what we did.
The plan was to hit the library and a garden center before landing at a man’s Sunday place of worship: the home megastore. I wanted to drop off a library book and pick up another, but had passed the library before I remembered to say anything. That was bad planning mistake number two for the day.
As we wound through the old money houses on one of the winding, tree-lined street of a neighboring town, we passed a guy sitting in his Mercedes waiting to merge into traffic. My first thought was “asshole.” I have no idea why. I saw a stubby cigar clenched in the side of his mouth like a stiff brown turd, and my mechanical brain placed a “status confirmed” mark next to the image and filed it away. Oddly enough, most of the people I know who drive Mercedes are actually pretty nice.
We pulled into the gravel parking lot of the flower stand and wandered around for about fifteen minutes before the baby decided that she had enough. She started making this sound that she’s been making since she was really small. It was actually one of the first sounds she made, and it’s a bit of a growl. I finally pieced together that sound was the baby’s way of telling us that she was aggravated. For months, we had been happily parroting it back to her whenever she did it.
We left the stand with nothing more than an aggravated baby and a little less gas in the tank. We were in spitting range of the home megastore, but we certainly weren’t going to make it there. We headed home, stopping to finally mail the overdue letters on the way. I asked #1GF! to pull into the library for a book exchange, but the big, empty parking lot told me that it wasn’t going to happen.
There is very limited time for me to get things done, and I was having worse luck than I had the day before. My list was still as long as it was at the start of the day, despite all the gas and time we wasted.
When we got home, #1GF! mentioned that the truck tire looked low, so I went out to check on it while she entertained the baby. It did look low. I scoured both cars for one of the ten tire pressure gauges that I’ve accumulated over the years, and I couldn’t find one of them. As I scoured the cars a second time, #1GF! found a gauge in the junk drawer. What it was doing there, I have no idea.
The pressure barely registered on the gauge. “I’m going to go get the tire filled,” I called in to #1GF!.
“Go right up the street,” she replied.
“I don’t know if they have air. I’m going up to the rotary.”
#1GF! tilted her head and squinted. “I think they do. And it’s way closer.”
“But, I don’t know if they have air,” I repeated, “which could make the trip even longer.”
“Well, you won’t have to go far to find out.”
I was done discussing where to get air. I headed for the place that #1GF! suggested even though my gut told me otherwise. On the way, I saw an air machine at a convenience store, so I pulled in, jockeyed up to the pump, and got out, only to find the coin slots had been taped over with electrical tape. The machine was out-of-order. “Fuck this,” I thought before jumping back in the truck and heading in the opposite direction to a gas station that I knew had air.
I pulled into the gas station, and a couple was already at the pump. I’m not sure of their real names, so I’ll just refer to them as Buck and Nancy Dumas. Buck was filling one of the tires of a bike attached to the trunk of his compact car. I automatically docked him ten man points for not having a fucking bike pump at home. He filled the tire, and slowly and carefully screwed the cap on as if he had a fucking nuclear bike and was filling the tires at the local four-quarter plutonium dispenser.
He turned to Nancy and said something. My windows were up, but I imagine it was something like “Do you know a lot about cars?”
“Sure I do,” replied Nancy, “I’m a car nut. I love cars. Sometimes I put Mrs. Bigglesworth [her cat] in a cape and a matching hat and take pictures of her sitting in her custom-made kitty corvette.”
Buck nodded, but was busy using the air hose to spray his hand. He said something again. It was probably something like “Hey, this thigamabobby is shooting airs at my handses. Maybe we should shoot up the car tires with it too.”
Nancy put her left hand on her hip and said something like, “Let me check. I’m the car expert.” She then put her right hand on the top of the rear passenger car tire and leaned on it a couple of times to test to see if it was full enough. No, I’m not fucking kidding. It was then that I realized that not only was Nancy a car expert, but she was a superhero who could exert enough force with her bare hand to flex a steel belted radial and had the superhero sensitivity to know if the tires were at or below the recommended pressure. She then nodded, turned to Buck and said something like, “Nope. It’s fine. It feels pretty full.”
Buck then shrugged and unscrewed the cap on the bike tire again—the same tire he just filled two minutes ago. He then filled it again, possibly because Nancy’s new information on the car tire pushed the information about his already full bike tire right out of his tiny little head.
After ten minutes of waiting for them to run through these shenanigans, they finally got in their car and headed out.
I pulled into the spot next to the pump, fed it four quarters, filled the tire in about a minute, and checked it with a pressure gauge because I’m not a fucking tire whisperer who can tell if a tire has 26 or 35 pounds in it just by touching it. Even after filling up the gas tank, I was out of that station in a tenth of the time of the Dumases. Hell, I could’ve gotten a fruit pie and a cup of gas station coffee, and choked them both down in the time that they took. I shook my head and pulled out of there, thankful that I don’t have to deal with many superhero nuclear cyclists on a daily basis.
I thought about going to the home megastore on my own, so I dug my cell phone out of my pocket so that #1GF! wouldn’t think that I had gotten stranded somewhere. The battery indicator was a thin, red paper cut. If I did head for the megastore and the tire wasn’t holding air, I’d be hiking to find a pay phone. I rubbed my face, dropped the phone into the cup holder, and gave up. The day had already proven that I was a little short on luck, and I wasn’t about to have a flat and no phone. Payphones are few and far between these days.
When I got back to the house, I wasn’t a happy little tree. The whole day was so inefficient, and my list of stuff that I needed to get done was just as long as it was on Friday.
“Sorry about today,” said #1GF!.
I waved it off. “I needed to get things done, but there’s no time. I need to accept that things will get done when they get done and not let it get to me. None of it is a big deal.” I rubbed my chin. “You know what is a big deal? You and that baby in there.”
#1GF! smiled. “Well, I’m sorry about not mailing those letters.”
“We don’t know it was you. It could’ve been me. It doesn’t matter anyway. They’re mailed.”
“You want to take my car and try to get something done?”
“ROCKET CAR!’s memory is still too fresh.” (I still haven’t gotten behind the wheel of the family sedan.)
“Yea, I thought it might be too soon,” smirked #1GF!, “it’s only been six months.”
We ate leftovers and went to bed early. The house still smelled like bacon from breakfast. Sweet, sweet bacon.
Monday (Day 1086): The Waning Power of Question Commands
I got up at 4:45 AM with no help from the baby. COME ON, BODY. Jesus H. K. Riced. There is no reason to be up before 5 AM. I had my cereal and sat on the couch reading the same lines of a book over and over because I kept getting dragged down into the murk between this world and The Sandman’s domain.
Needless to say I was tired all morning. The baby is insanely mobile, which didn’t add to the sense of calm. She keeps trying to climb up on things that aren’t stable enough for her to climb up on, which means that my day consists of chasing her around the house and telling her “No” over and over and over.
I thought I read that the baby was supposed to be able to feed herself by her age, but the baby wasn’t even trying. She could feed herself finger food, but not anything that required a spoon. Even though I knew that letting the baby feed herself would lead to a huge mess, I decided to give it a shot at her first solid feeding of the day. Every time I tried to give the baby her spoon, and she would pull her hand away, open her mouth, and give me a look as if to tell me that I was doing it wrong.
I gave the baby bits of my sandwich while she ate her regular lunch. I’ve been doing that for a few days to get her to eat regular table food. She doesn’t eat much, but she seems fine with it.
When #1GF! got back from her lunch visiting her mother, she brought a coffee for me. In the time she was gone, I had been poked in the eye hard enough that I was relegated to slow, confused blinks for a few seconds; head butted hard enough that I heard my nose crack; raked across the face with a book; and, to top it all off, baby kicked full-force in the ding ding. It was almost a professional wrestling day of baby care. My ass was dragging, but I was thankful the baby couldn’t lift a folding chair yet.
I made a shepherd’s pie for dinner. I thought it only took a half hour, but from prep to finish, it took an hour and forty minutes. #1GF! and I ate at 9 PM after the baby had gone to bed, and went to bed not too long after.
I lay in bed reading, and #1GF! rolled over. “Do you think you should go to sleep now?”
“I will,” I said without looking away from my book.
“Well, I just don’t want you to be tired tomorrow.”
I grinned at her. “Really. I should shut off the light right now to avoid being tired? That’s the best you could do?”
“That’s all I got.”
“Your commands posed as questions used to work so much better on me. I think you may need to change up your tactics because I’m on to you, missy.”
Tuesday (Day 1087): Babies Vs Timetables
It was a normal day of baby care except that it was 80 something degrees out. I kept all the windows closed to keep out the heat, and it worked pretty well. My mother came down for a visit, and I wrote a little after she left. That pretty much brings us to dinner time.
I gave #1GF! a call because I didn’t know what time she was getting home. I got voice mail. I couldn’t start dinner or feed an increasingly fussy baby until I heard from her, so I just stood at the counter for a few minutes stuck in limbo. #1GF! called and told me that she was on her way. I started prepping everyone’s dinners.
I planned to go run out to a home megastore when #1GF! got home, but when #1GF! arrived, she asked that I put dinner on hold so that we could go out for a walk. I don’t know what Jedi mind trick she used on me, but I didn’t remember wanting to run out to the store until I was walking.
I started dinner when we got home at 8 PM, and told #1GF! she had forty-five minutes to put the baby to sleep. The baby, however, wasn’t interested in time tables. We ate a cold dinner at 9:30 PM, and the baby woke up crying in the middle of it. #1GF! went in to soothe her, and I couldn’t clean up the dishes because I typically slam things without realizing it.
I typed some notes out for the day and cleaned up the dishes at 9:45 PM, when the baby had finally fallen asleep. I finished my notes by 10 PM, and finished editing the last few days of LOR 155 an hour later.
Wednesday (Day 1088): They’re Crank Calling Me
It was in the 80′s again, and the house was getting sticky. I was getting sticky. The baby was getting sticky, even though she wasn’t complaining about it.
I wasted both of the baby’s naps staring blankly at my screen. I intended to work on my latest book, but the more time I dedicate to reading about how to write, the more I lock up when I approach the keys. Instead of sitting down and writing, as I have been doing on a daily basis for years now, I analyze every keystroke before my fingers can make them. I think I’m doing it all wrong, and my fingers sit idle while I talk to the screen with broken answers to questions no one is actually asking.
At 1 PM, I gave up and made dinner, partially because I had the time, but mostly to make some progress in some small corner of my life.
Once the baby was up, the house phone rang. No one calls the house phone but telemarketers, but I was in the area, so I checked the number and picked up the phone. It was a call from an unknown extension at #1GF!’s work. I said hello, and all I heard on the other end was rustling. There was no gunfire, so I assumed that #1GF! wasn’t under a desk surreptitiously trying to call for help while Hans Gruber and the gang held her hostage. I shook my head and hung up.
“Who is crank calling Daddy?” I asked the baby.
She just pointed at my nose.
“Yes, I’m Daddy.”
She smiled at me for being correct.
Just as I made it through the doorway, the phone rang again. I turned back and picked up the phone again. This time I just waited. Again, I heard nothing but rustling and muffled voices. “Hello?” I asked. “HELLO?”
I hung up again. “What the fu…” The baby smiled at me. “…dge?” I started dialing #1GF! to have her help me find out which one of her coworkers was looking for a swift kick in the ding ding. I pressed six digits on the keypad before the phone rang in my hand. Again. “Oh, cut the shit.” I picked up the phone. “HELLO.” I barked in my “who wants a punch in the fucking face” voice.
It’s [one of #1GF!'s employees]. Sorry. I’ve been pocket dialing you. I forgot my phone clip and the damn thing keeps dialing.
“I was just calling #1GF! to find out who kept cranking me.”
“Yea, that was me.”
“I was about to set my fax to autodial your number. EEEEEEE AAAAAAWW KSSSSHHHHH.”
I soon hung up to return to baby care, and he returned to pocket dialing someone who wasn’t me. Maybe. I don’t know. It’s possible, anyway.
I put the baby to bed for her afternoon nap and poured myself a cold cup of coffee. I made a couple of notes on the day, and returned to the great mire that would hopefully one day boil down into another novel. I started to lock up with over-analysis again until I shut my brain off and just started writing. I picked scenes at random and wrote whatever came to mind. I had to start somewhere.
It was still hot and muggy out, so when the baby woke up, we spent as much time as we could playing on the cool hardwood floor.
Once #1GF! got home, I ran out the door to go to the local home megastore. I picked up some mulch, fertilizer and roof repair goop in what was record time for being a male with a beard in a home store. I thought about picking up a fruit tree, but I somehow thought better of it.
On the way home, I dropped into the library to pick up another book. I ended up getting a social engineering book by Kevin Mitnick. It was from 2002, but I thought it might spark some ideas, even if they were slightly outdated. I was home in no time.
A storm rolled in as the sun went down, and the air instantly chilled. It was great. I sat by a window and started the Mitnick book as the cool rain air swept past me into the spongy, sodden air of the house.
#1GF! put the baby to bed. She didn’t go to sleep until 9:30 PM, making the night a waste. We ate the dinner that I made six hours ahead of schedule at 10 PM. Waiting for the baby to go to bed was starting to get ridiculous.
Thursday (Day 1089): Jon Is Not Fashion Aware
I folded the laundry, took out the garbage, made coffee, got #1GF! off to work, and got the baby to bed. I sat at my desk to continue randomly dumping my brain onto the page. I alternated between baby care and brain dumps all day long.
When #1GF! got home, I handed off the baby and went into the yard to get some things done. I dug up and moved a couple of dwarf daisies to a new spot, and put some regular sized daisies in their place. I then edged and mulched the entire property with nine bags of mulch. My intention was to buy ten bags, but #1GF! was convinced that I wouldn’t need that much. Just to placate her, I had bought nine. I was about a bag short by the end, but it was in a spot that no one could see anyway.
The neighbor sat on the porch with #1GF! and the baby while I dug and mulched nearby. “Now do you pick out the baby’s clothes every day?” the neighbor asked.
#1GF! shook her head and chuckled.
“God no,” I said. “All her clothes are laid out for me in the morning.”
“Well, I was going to say that she was really well matched yesterday and today.”
“Jon is not fashion aware,” added #1GF!.
“Yea, you can tell when I dress her because she looks like she dressed herself. If there aren’t monkey to monkey or giraffe to giraffe tags, I’m lost.”
The girls had a chuckle over that. It’s true, though. I have no fashion sense. But, then #1GF! doesn’t know Perl. It’s one of the reasons we do well together: we fill in where the other leaves off.
Once my landscaping was done, I took a shower to get all the black off my hands. I swear that they throw black dye into the mulch to make it blacker. I had to scrub to get it off, and there were still black, jagged lines engraved into some of the deep, dry ruts of my fingers.
When I got out of the shower, I found #1GF! on my PC staring at Facebook.
“O—M—G,” I said in mock shock. “Are you on my Facebooks?”
#1GF! took me seriously. “I’m on my account. I logged you out. I’m sorry. My PC was off. I’m sorry.”
“Well, like most things in my life, I keep very private things on my Facebooks that you shouldn’t know about. A man’s Facebooks should be sacred. What if you read enough of my Facebooks that you discover the real me instead of this charming, handsome, wildly funny individual that you’ve been living with? And what if you don’t like him? Then what?” I stood there wide-eyed, convinced that I added an s to Facebook enough times that she knew I was only playing.
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll be off in a minute.”
“Take your time.”
The baby went to bed early and we ate leftovers for dinner. It was really weird to have the baby in bed before 8 PM, and we wasted that extra time watching crappy sitcoms.
Friday (Day 1090): Crackers And Apples
The baby was up at 2 AM crying. #1GF! went to get her, and I went back to sleep. As punishment for being lazy, I woke up a little while later, afraid of something inexplicable like the color yellow. I got irritated at my brain for waking me up with something so stupid.
It was normal baby care all morning, and once the baby had her lunch, I drove her to see #1GF! at work on my way to visit my parents. It was a surprise visit, and #1GF! was thrilled. I didn’t go inside because I’d rather not set foot in that place again unless I’m being paid to do so. #1GF! and I stood outside in the shade in front of the building for a few minutes while the young professionals walked cluelessly back and forth to their cars, not realizing that their six month intended employment would quickly and inexplicably slide into a decade before they knew what happened.
#1GF! got a quick dose of baby to break up her Friday, and the baby and I were soon at my parents’ house for a visit. I put the baby in her pack-and-play on their deck, and my mother sat with her. I watched the baby out the window and she was perfectly happy without me. It was neat to see, but a little disheartening at the same time.
My father and I wandered around the yard talking about plants. He has quite a little farm going for a city dweller. I counted no fewer than a dozen tomato plants, various herbs, and so many flowers that he was pulling up irises because they were prolific enough to be a nuisance.
I got at least five hostas to take with me, and the baby and I were back home by 4 PM. The baby was exhausted because I intentionally made her miss an earlier nap to cut the amount of sleep she was getting during the day. I was hoping that it might get her to bed earlier in the evening. I doubted the validity of my plan, but I had to try something.
I put the baby down for her afternoon nap, and she slept for an hour. She probably would’ve slept longer had a landscaping guy not been weed whacking fence, siding, and everything else that wasn’t grass. The baby woke up screaming, and I couldn’t blame her.
When #1GF! got home, she told me that a couple of our friends were going to stop by on their way out to dinner at a nearby restaurant. And like a little bitch, I shit all over her. I have no idea why. I think it was because I only had a little notice for company and the house was a wreck. I wanted to be off duty so that I could get some things done around the house, but with people coming over there wasn’t going to be time for anything but a manic bout of cleaning. Are those excuses for being a dick? Nope, not at all.
I felt like I was under the gun, which wasn’t where I wanted to be at the end of the day, but I cleaned up everything the best I could with plenty of time to spare. I didn’t have enough time to run out to the store or get anything else done around the house, but everything was clean in plenty of time. The pressure eased off a little, and I apologized to #1GF! for being a big fat dick, considering she was making the evening more interesting.
We didn’t have any snacks to serve because of the short notice, and #1GF! wouldn’t let me run out to the store because she thought our friends would show up while I was gone. She rummaged through the closet looking for something to put out.
“There’s nothing in there,” I told her. I haven’t done the food shopping this week.
“I’ll just put out crackers.”
“You can’t just put out crackers.”
“Fine, then what do we have for cheese?”
“Parmesan and Gruyere. You can’t put either of them out. They’re not really cracker and cheese cheeses.”
#1GF! grabbed an apple and a knife.
“What are you doing, I asked?”
“I’ll just put out crackers and apples.”
I wondered if some sort of cosmic rays had hit us during the night causing #1GF! and I to somehow switch bodies. “You can’t put out crackers and apples. I know they’re our friends, but they’re going to think we’re either insane or broke. Think about it: who eats crackers and apples?”
“Some people do.”
My face scrunched up and my head cocked. I was almost positive about my cosmic ray theory. “What? No, they don’t. People might have crackers, cheese, and apples, but without the cheese, it’s too weird. Why not just serve up relish and hot dog buns? Or salsa and some spoons.
#1GF! stared at me.
“Plus, they have homemade meatball subs warming on the counter when we show up over there. Homemade. Meatball. Subs.”
#1GF! put down the knife and threw up her hands. “Well what am I supposed to do?”
“Let me run out to the store to pick up something. It’ll take me ten minutes.” I thought for a second and waved a finger at her. “Or, I could pick up some meatball subs and cut them up.”
#1GF! laughed. “They’re going to be here any second.”
“I’ll be quick. The subs will be funny.”
“Fine, then go to the other extreme and stick out a small bowl of broken Pringles. They’ll think that’s funny, too. It will make the ol’ blog prophetic (original Pringles reference here).”
#1GF! stuck out a bowl of Cheez-Its. There wasn’t much humor in it, but it was something.
Our friends stayed for a little while and played with the baby. I returned the grinder I borrowed, making sure to give it a good cleaning up so that it almost looked new.
The baby stayed up until they left at about 9 PM. She was exhausted, but really well behaved—no fussing at all. I made Ramen noodles for dinner because it was late, there was no food in the house, and there wasn’t going to be any cooking.
Saturday (Day 1091): A Five Hundred Dollar Day
I got out of bed exhausted and watched a half hour of Black Hawk Down while I ate my cereal. It was a nice little break from watching the baby. I thanked #1GF! for it and made some coffee for her. It doesn’t take much to recover from baby care. Sometimes, an hour every once and a while where you can be completely off-duty and reassured that the baby is in good hands is enough.
I went in to take a shower, and got side tracked by standing in front of the mirror and combing my beard into all kinds of crazy directions in an attempt to figure out how I was going to shave it this year. I walked out to the kitchen and asked #1GF!, “Would you rather that I had a full beard or a mustache for the cookouts this weekend?”
“No,” replied #1GF! as she shook her head.
“That’s not on the table.”
“It’s beard or mustache.”
She actually looked a little horrified. “You can’t have a mustache.”
“Mustaches are funny.”
“You are not wearing a mustache.”
It’s one or the other. Just pick.”
“That’s not on the table.”
“Beard or mustache?”
“No. I have to go change the baby.”
“Okay, I’ll just leave it the way it is until you can decide.”
It went on like this until #1GF! left to visit her mother.
Once #1GF! and the baby were out the door, I showered, brewed a batch of iced tea, and made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. I stuck the dough in the fridge to test the idea that refrigerating dough makes for a better tasting chocolate chip cookies. Once the dough was stowed, I made a batch of chocolate sugar cookies. As if two batches of cookies and some iced tea weren’t enough, I made homemade vanilla ice cream.
Once everything was cleaned up, I went out to run errands. I went to Old Navy to pick up some shorts and T-shirts because several years had passed, and I was really starting to run the risk of having people give me money if I ever sat on a curb for more than a couple of minutes.
I went into the store and looked around for a simple pair of shorts, and I felt like someone had turned the clock back twenty years. And not in a good way. Everything was plaid. I haven’t worn plaid anything since Skidz were in style in the late 80′s, and I wasn’t getting on that fucking merry-go-round again. Once a lifetime is enough for me.
By my second circuit around the men’s section, finding a fucking tan pair of shorts had become a bigger hassle than I was interested in tackling. I turned toward the wonderful choiceless freedom of the door, when a little voice told me that I was either buying clothes, or trying them on and buying them, but I was buying something. I was not going home empty-handed to have #1GF! roll her eyes at me.
I finally asked a clerk, and he pointed me to the two pairs of tan shorts that they had. I thanked him and grabbed a couple of pairs. I tried them on in about fifteen seconds. On. Fit? Yep. Good. Out. I went to the wall of T-shirts, where everything was $5. I grabbed a bunch of them, figuring that at $5, even if they ended up sucking, I could wear them while mowing the lawn and then clean the lawnmower with them at that price.
When I got to the checkout, the lady tallied up all of my items and asked me if I wanted to open a credit card to save ten percent. Despite my refusal, she smiled and told me that I had saved seventeen dollars. I thought that she had given me some sort of special mountain beard / help the homeless discount.
“I did?” I asked. “Wow. Thanks. How did I do that?”
The clerk looked at me as if I might be insane. “The five dollar T-shirts?”
“Oh, okay. Thanks.” I didn’t really save anything. I walked out. Now, as far as I remember, buying something at a marked price is not a saving anything. It’s almost as if Old Navy has discovered the B.S. concept of MSRP, and is applying it to clothing.
Because we live at the beach, #1GF! has been asking me to get a grill for a long time. For a lot of men, a woman encouraging them to buy a grill is a five-minute conversation that ends with a speedy trail of dust and a high credit card bill. For me, it was a year-long relatively regular reminder.
I like cars, I look like a bearded Neanderthal for half the year, and I can be found in work boots at least once a week, but despite my testicles, there are still two areas that I just don’t care about: one of them is watching sports, and the other is grills. I admit that it’s probably some form of chromosomal defect, but I don’t see a grill as a giant, flame-shooting, chromed-out secondary set of balls. To me, a grill is just a secondary oven that you have to be bitten by mosquitoes to use.
I knew #1GF! wanted a grill, so I secretly picked one out online during the week. I left the clothing store and went to pick it up at the nearby home megastore to surprise #1GF!.
Naturally, the store didn’t have the grill I wanted, so I had to spend $50 more on a grill that seemed a bit nicer. I used my manly beard power to lug the four-foot box onto a flat cart and wheeled it over to the next aisle to stare at hose caddies because #1GF! was looking for one of those too. I picked out one that was more expensive than the one I would’ve been fine with, but figured that #1GF! would like it. I put that on top of the cart and wheeled the whole thing outside so that I could grab a couple of resin chairs. Oddly, no alarms went off, and no one gave me a second glance. I probably could’ve kept going, were I a less honest man.
I wasn’t sure if #1GF! would like the chairs, so I only picked up a couple of them. I threw them on top of the cart and wheeled it back inside. There was no research, and no time wasted agonizing over money or quality. I was having about a five-hundred dollar day and making decisions mainly by stacking items on my cart and uttering the phrase, “Fuck it. Done.” It was like I was possessed by someone who had more money than time.
I was going to get some tomato plants, but after thinking about pots, soil, and everything that would go with them, I wasn’t ready to make it a six-hundred dollar day. I walked away from the plants, paid for everything, and awkwardly loaded everything into the truck. I probably should’ve picked up a grill cover, but, like I said, I was not only possessed, but way, way over the line in terms of purchases.
When I got home, I left everything in the truck except for the propane tank. Once #1GF! got home, I walked out to the driveway to greet her, being very evasive when asked about what I bought. I focused mostly on having bought clothes, which made #1GF!’s voice sound as if I were a puppy who finally learned a new trick.
When I mentioned the trip to home store, I tried to make it seem like I only bought a bag of mulch, a cheap sprinkler, and some other nondescript stuff. I took out the hose reel, and #1GF! was psyched (rawr?). I showed her the chairs, and she was more psyched. I opened the back of the truck to reveal the grill, and her eyes got so wide that it could’ve been her birthday. She was just that pleased.
I backed the truck up over the lawn and loaded everything out. I moved the grill across the yard end over end, and put it in the basement for future assembly. I set up the chairs and the hose reel and called #1GF! outside. She immediately sat in one of the chairs, and I handed her a mason jar of iced tea. #1GF! seemed like she was having a great day because she kept saying that I was so cute. She never says that sort of thing when I’m bearded.
The baby wouldn’t sleep for her late afternoon nap, so I gave up trying after a half hour. #1GF! took her out of bed, and I went into the office to write down the events of the last couple of days.
To end the night, #1GF! went out and got a pizza for dinner. Call me a simple man, but that’s what I call a righteous payback.
What I Learned
- I now know the noise that the baby makes when she’s irritated.
- The Cumberland Farms Air machine does not work.
- The baby has no interest in feeding herself with a spoon.
- A shepherd’s pie takes an hour and forty minutes to prep and cook.
- The baby can function under another adult’s supervision for at least a short time.
- Plaid seems to be in again.
- If you can see a fashion trend come around again, then you’re probably old.
- Old Navy believes in calling selling items under a phantom MSRP “savings.”