Monday, March 26, 2007

Karl and the Amazing Technicolor Eyebrow

I don’t usually encourage having houseguests, but for Alex's friend, Karl, I make exceptions. Karl will sleep anywhere. Karl makes the least amount of dirty laundry possible. As the father of two, Karl knows that waking a sleeping child is an offense that’s right up there with replacing my regular coffee not with Folger’s Crystals, but with ground glass, which is what I’ll do to whomever comes close to waking Sophie mid-naptime. (Jeff, I’m looking right at you, buddy.)

Thanks to the way they acted at my wedding, I have baggage about most of my husband’s friends; this is not the case with Karl, and in fact, Karl is the person responsible for keeping me from catching the next plane to Oh, Fuck Thisville during the category five shitstorm that was the last hour of our reception. But what I like most about Karl is that, unlike a lot of us, Karl doesn’t mind telling the truth on himself.

During his last visit, Karl and Alex came home from their ritual night out of drinking too much to stand in the kitchen catching up and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Karl was taking a pretty good ribbing over the XXXL cycling jersey he tried on that day that turned out to be a few too many Xs too small. “I’ve been eating too much ice cream,” he confessed, smiling. And here's a tidbit: Karl has hair growing out of his nose. "Not out of my nostrils, mind you," he said, but out of the top of his nose. "What the hell is that all about?" He said, shrugging. Karl said he could eat, no kidding, a gallon of ice cream at one sitting. “I’m still fast on a bike, though,” he shook his finger. And Alex and I joined in the chorus we’ve heard a hundred times when he said, “I’m a former New York State champion in three disciplines of cycling.”

When I consider that Alex actually hears criticisms that come from his friends’ mouths, but is deaf to the ones that come out of mine, I suppose we really should entertain more often. “Al, you’re getting crumbs and jelly in the peanut butter,” Karl said, cleaning things up, “and crumbs and peanut butter in the jelly!” He said this not as if he was discovering three great tastes that taste great together, but with a healthy amount of disgust.

“He’s been blaming that on me for years.” I told Karl, who told me he doesn’t know how Alex and I have been married for six years without a violent incident to speak of. And that’s when Alex pulled up his shirt and slapped his belly. “Jody’s a lucky girl,” he said, “there aren’t that many guys approaching forty with a flat stomach.”

Please cue the floodgates.

When Karl and I had exhausted ourselves listing every shortcoming Alex had, including the habit of mouth breathing all night at a volume that has me taking cover from the plane crash that’s happening in our back yard, and being that guy at the end of the bar who talks a little too much about Stevie Ray Vaughn, we took a deep breath and tackled my favorite subject: Alex’s renegade eyebrows.

I didn’t have to start first; Karl jumped right in. “And dude,” I think he began, “what is with your eyebrow hairs?” Just as Karl was about to call him “Lloyd Fucking Bridges” I lunged, and plucked one from its root, which wasn’t that hard, considering that I was able to wrap it around my wrist a few times before he even saw it coming. Karl and I marveled at it for a moment before I scavenged the junk drawer for the tape measure. I taped the hair to a piece of paper and squinted. “Two and three eighths inches!” I squealed. Alex came out of the bathroom with a Band Aid over his eye, pouting up a storm. We posted on the refrigerator it and its measurements, its turn ons and turn offs, and it remains there today. And if that isn’t a testament to unconditional love on everyone’s part, I don’t know what is.

So if you’re ever invited over for dinner at our house, and you find a hair in your soup or salad, the kind of hair that’s the stuff upon which Steven King novels are based, check the fridge. Lately I’m obsessed with thinking of ways to make it useful. Tonight I’m considering fashioning it, in a weird new version of origami, into the shape of the Virgin Mary and selling it on eBay. But I’m not sure I want to part with it; it comforts me in that, if I ever need a ride to the hospital in the middle of the night, it can either drive me there or watch the baby while I’m gone. Or I might decide to use it as a paintbrush for the outside of our house. I joke.
“Someday, you won’t have my eyebrow hair to kick around anymore,” Alex said, and sadly, I know that’s true. I think I spotted it making eyes at one of Karl’s giant bnose hairs, scheming in its little eyebrow brain about starting a master race of body hair that someday takes over the world.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One of Those Days

I'm having one of those days. I say that becuase I've just looked over four of the many e-mails I've sent today, and they start with the word "Great" and end with an exclamation point. It's during these days that I ask myself who I am.
Am I really the gal who sends a half dozen e-mails that are friendly enough to belong to someone with superfresh breath and a clean car? I could be, since I caught myself earlier thinking things like, "Tax time is the right time to save for retirement," "Luck favors the prepared," and "Can't lives on Won't Street."
Yes, today I'm considering drinking enough water; I will call my mom before she calls me. I will take the dogs not just for the walk that they want, but for the walk they deserve, damn the temperature. I'm remaining firmly unapologetic that I'm going to indulge in the guilty pleasure of writing for most of the day, and I'm going to make progress.
Without going as far as baking an apple pie, I will Do Things Right today, because I can. I'm having one of those days. What a relief.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I’m Typing As Fast As I Can

I’ve got Big Ideas®, and unfortunately, that’s my whole problem. Take this blog for example. It’s new because the last platform I was using was bumming me out with its limitations and the learning curve involved in getting it to do some little extra things. I wanted to take my blog and, as Emeril would say, “Kick it up a notch,” and so in the tradition of everything old becoming new again, I revived my plain old HTML Web site from four years ago and opened a Blogger account. Because that’s what I need in my life: Another distraction.

Then I decided, hey! I’m going to post my “best-of” journal entries dating back to my 1200 baud modem! And I’m going to finish those entries I began during the Clinton Administration and post those! Where’s my Big Chief Tablet? I’ve got to rework those family portraits I drew in Kindergarten to at least include the mole on my dad’s nose; as someone who’s heard him say a million times that he likes that mole because it holds his glasses in place, I know that it just isn’t him without it.

And then thank God I had the good sense to talk myself down. No, I said. Stop. Put the “new” in New Media and move on. Forget the old stuff; go forward, ever forward, you moron. I did let myself off the hook a little, because this is what happens when we live in a culture where our good old-fashioned albums are “digitally re-mastered” on CD, and black and white movies are colorized. This is what happens when we have the technology to make things better, stronger, faster, or at least little, yellow, different. Do you see what happens, Larry?

And so here’s to new beginnings. Again. This marks my third online do-over in a handful of years, and by golly, the chances are pretty good that I’ll be as slow executing my Big Ideas® for this effort as all the others, but I really am kind of busy. Tonight I promised my daughter that I would mount a production of Yentl starring myself and one of our dogs during dinner. I’ve been rehearsing all day, and I just can’t seem to nail the part where I announce in a golf-whisper, “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the part of Avigdor will be played by Lou the Blue Heeler,” and then make the sounds of the grumbling and groaning audience. (After all, they bought tickets just so that they could see Mandy Patinkin. No offense, Lou. )

Until the next time you visit—if you do visit—please know that I’ll be typing as fast as I can, which is actually pretty fast if you take into account the fact that I stop every now and then to wonder, seriously, where is my Big Chief Tablet?