The Dating Game

“Look at the singles waiting to meet YOU!” The advertisement reads as I check the local weather online. Several pictures of attractive people – all smiling confidently – float on my screen. They have great teeth, tanned skin, and perfectly coiffed hair.

“Something must be wrong,” I think as I scrutinize the photograph of a brunette, “Why would she be single?”

The reason she is single is because she has a tendency to stalk her boyfriends. At first, the guys she dates are flattered by her possessiveness. Not only did they manage to get a date with her in the first place, but she seems to want to spend every waking second with them. “When will you be home?” her text reads. He is thrilled, until he looks up from his phone and notices her car idling in the parking lot where he works. When he approaches her car, she grows teary. “I just miss you so much,” she whines.

I look at the picture of the blond. His teeth shine brighter than his blue eyes. His chin is chiseled and his shoulders are broad. “Heavens!” I think, “He’s out there?”

Oh yes he is ladies! Garret has no other woman in his life, other than his mother (whom he still lives with). It doesn’t matter that Garret’s unemployed because his mother pays all of his bills – including the car payments for that snazzy BMW he picks his dates up in. His mother hates all of his girlfriends and gives them icy glares whenever Garret brings them home. “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Garret asks. “We’ll be having London broil. I don’t know what she’ll eat,” his mom answers.

I scroll down to inspect the next picture. She has red hair and a round, wholesome face. “Awww,” I think, “I sure hope she finds someone. She looks so sweet.”

She’s not. She was recently incarcerated for stabbing her ex-boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. While in prison, she was the leader of a gang called The Reds. Everyone feared her. Now that she is out, she is hoping whoever she meets online will give her a ride to her weekly appointments with her probation officer.

The last picture is of a man who resembles Cary Grant. His black hair is thick and his smile sultry. “Imagine getting to pick him!” I think.

Pick, indeed. This Cary Grant lookalike has a terrible habit of picking his nose, and at the most inappropriate times. Similar to a nervous tic, this guy has a nervous pick. Weddings, dinner parties, funerals – his finger goes up one of his nostrils. It’s this nervous pick on first dates that has caused this handsome gent to be perpetually single.

I sit back in my chair and shake my head. “Well, I hope they meet someone soon. They all look like great people.”

A Random Request

Who has noticed the words: “Fact. Fiction and Random Requests” next to the turquoise typewriter in my heading? (Raise your eyes a bit. See it? Okay.) I have received my very first “random request.” A reader asked that I write some musings on an article she recently read… 

When my children were younger and still in diapers, I periodically checked to see if their diapers were wet. While this task certainly seemed easy enough, apparently Huggies Diapers disagrees. According to this site, Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Huggies Disposable Diapers, is developing the TweetPee. Yes, that’s right, the TweetPee is an app that will notify you when your kid has peed.

Curiosity got the best of me and I watched the commercial. Since the video is in Portuguese I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, however, I don’t think that really mattered. It went something like this: Baby is in a crib. Parent attaches a plastic owl figurine (who has a rather startled expression on its face) on baby’s diaper. Kid pees. Parents receive a text that their baby’s diaper is getting wet. The end.

While the TweetPee encourages lackadaisical parenting and borders on insanity, Huggies may be onto something. Notification of certain situations could be very helpful.

Like a GrumpGauge, for example. This would – as stated – measure a person’s grumpiness. When a particular person we added to our GrumpGauge app was getting high on the grumpiness scale, we would receive notice on our phone. We could then avoid that person if possible. If avoiding the person was not an option, we could at least prepare ourselves for their orneriness. How the GrumpGauge device that would notify us of the grumpiness level would be attached to the person has yet to be determined.

PristinePotty would also be an excellent app. While out in public, the PristinePotty would notify us of the cleanest bathroom in the vicinity. We have all had the unfortunate experience of walking into a public restroom’s stall only to reverse right back out because of what we found. Because young children have an insatiable curiosity with public restrooms (ever notice how your kid simply has to use the bathroom as soon as you step foot in a store or restaurant?), the PristinePotty would be especially helpful for parents.

Lastly, a TalksTooMuch app would be lovely. With notifications from our TalksTooMuch app, we would know what row to sit in at the movies and the row to avoid because someone chatty was nearby. The TalksTooMuch app would also be handy for choosing what checkout lane to not use. (Ever get a chatty cashier? I once learned the cashier I was using had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was getting new contacts. By the time he was done, the ice cream in my cart was practically melted.) The best advantage of the TalksTooMuch app is that it would also notify you if you were talking too much. This would save many first dates.

While these ideas may seem a bit far fetched – the fact that Huggies Diapers is developing the TweetPee – well, maybe GrumpGauge, PristinePotty, and TalksTooMuch apps aren’t so far fetched after all.

Real Sex Wouldn’t Sell

Sex sells. If you truly doubt this, just look at the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. While I have never read any of the 50 Shades books, I have heard the trilogy being referred to as porn in print, and the plot is as riveting as a Pat The Bunny board book. Yet, it has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. 70 million.

Perhaps one of the reasons sex sells is because the scenes in books are so outrageously unrealistic. Let’s make them real for a moment:

Diane lit the scented candles and smoothed the satin sheets on her bed. Her husband entered the room and drew her in his arms. At that moment, the doorbell rang. His parents had decided to pop in for a visit.

While driving home from the restaurant, Andy reached over and squeezed Connie’s knee and gave her a knowing look. “Not tonight,” she said, “That linguine didn’t sit well with my stomach.”

“I’m ovulating!” Jessica sang as she waived the Clearblue Easy Ovulation Detector stick in the air. “Drop those boxer shorts and lets get busy,” She ordered her husband, “We have exactly 20 minutes before I have to leave for my dentist appoinment.”

Jennifer opened the front door to welcome Chris home from work.  As she stood there, Chris noticed their baby’s dried spit-up on her shoulder and that once again, she had been too tired to shower. Nevertheless, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her in for a kiss.  As their lips touched, Jennifer could tell that Chris had eaten sausage and peppers for lunch. 

Sade played softly on the stereo. Ted lowered the blinds and turned to welcome his wife into his arms.  At that moment they heard their lawn guy weed-wacking underneath their bedroom window.

 The little black dress hugged her in all the right places. When Kevin saw her, his eyes widened. She looked stunning. He ran his eyes slowly down her frame before stopping at her feet – they were clad in black flats. “My mom has the same shoes,” Kevin said flatly.

The couple embraced in the solitude of their bedroom. Just then, a little voice emanated from the other room. “Mommy? Daddy?” The voice said, “I can’t sleep. And I’m thirsty. Can you get me some water?”

Michael dug furiously through his sock drawer. Where were the prophylaxis? He could have sworn he had stuck them here last time. “I guess you’re out of luck,” Anne said as she slipped her nightgown back over her head, “I need a fourth child like I need a hole in the head.”

Sound more like it? A few of the titles would be: 50 Shades of Dirty SocksMaybe Tomorrow Night (If We’re Not Too Tired), Lots of Sex And Still No Baby, Burning Hot With The Flu (So Don’t Even Think About It), and Once Upon A Time (Then We Had Children). Total sales expected to exceed no more than 10 copies.

Crazed Woman in Cereal Aisle

Selling a house. The death of someone you love. Separation from a spouse. Mental health professionals consider these among the most stressful life events. While I’m not a mental health professional, they all sound about right to me. However, I think one more trigger should be included: grocery shopping.

Sadly, I’m not joking. I find my weekly trip to the grocery store mentally exhausting, physically demanding and financially grievous. I envy those of you who do not share in these grocery store afflictions. And for those of you who actually enjoy grocery shopping? Well, I applaud you.

My food shopping journey sours quickly; usually before I have even placed an item in my cart. I always (and I mean always) manage to pick a shopping cart that has a noisy, vibrating wheel that makes it sound as though I’m clicking castanets as I push the cart down the aisle. These wobbly-wheeled carts also tend to veer to the side, so I have been known to crash into another shopper on more than one occasion.

As my cart shimmies its way down the aisle, I begin to feel overwhelmed. Does anyone else find the immense selection of items mind boggling? Take canned tomatoes, for example. There are whole, crushed, stewed, diced, paste and sauce. These tomatoes are available with seasoning or without. Low sodium, organic, and not organic. There are literally dozens of brand names, and the inevitable store brand that is competing against those fancier name brands. (Are the brand names really that much better than the store brands?) As if these weren’t enough choices, then there are canned tomatoes from San Marzano, which implies the location these tomatoes were grown should be considered. To make matters worse, some of the canned tomatoes are on sale but (wait!) their amount is slightly less than the other brands. I finally close my eyes and randomly grab a can and proceed on.

The tuna fish selection is next. For the love of God, why are there so many choices of tuna fish? Chunk light, solid white, chunk white, and Albacore. Fish in pouches, fish in cans. There is gourmet, premium and organic. Then come the brands: Bumble Bee (what marketing weirdo thought of that name?), Chicken of the Sea (another marketing weirdo), StarKist, Natures Promise, Genova, Wild Planet. Just as I think I’ve finally narrowed down my choices, I realize some have that dolphin safe emblem while others do not. I can’t forget about the dolphins! And please don’t get me started on mercury levels. As I spend ten minutes deliberating over tuna fish cans, inevitably someone driving one of those motorized scooters will approach. I move my cart out of their way and proceed to wait as the person driving the motorized scooter also ponders their tuna fish choices.

It is usually around this point that my three year old son spills the snack I have given him to keep him occupied. Goldfish crackers cover the floor, making the other shoppers jump out of the way. Some smile patiently while others give me the evil eye as they walk over the goldfish, their shoes making a crunching sound. I try and pick up as many goldfish as I can – shoving them in my pockets. (Later on I forget to empty the crackers from my pockets and the pants go in the wash. I then open my washer door to find a goldfish paste is coating the barrel of my washing machine.)

I rush through the frozen food aisle that is as warm as a tundra. As I pick out frozen waffles for my children’s breakfast I feel a pang of guilt that I’m not making them waffles from scratch. At that moment an Extreme Couponer passes with her binder bulging with coupons. I haven’t brought any coupons, let alone an amount that would require an actual binder to house them. I can’t decide if I hate or admire the Extreme Couponer, so I push my gyrating cart past her and avoid eye contact when she looks up from her binder to see what is making that horrific clacking noise.

By the time I reach the checkout, my cart is so full I have to lean into it in order to move the cart forward. I resemble an orderly in the hospital who is pushing an obese patient through the hall. Occasionally I grunt as I brace my feet to keep the cart from veering to the side. As I stand in line, my son frantically tries to grab every packet of gum from the display next to us. After I unload the food from my cart onto the belt, I realize I forgot several important items. I also realize I have left my reusable grocery bags in my car, which means I will have to use those flimsy plastic bags the store provides. The environmentalist within me cringes.

The shopping journey is nearing its end and I want to rejoice – except the bagger has thrown my canned items into the same bag as my tomatoes and apples, bruising them before they have even made it home. The cashier announces my total and I let out a sigh. Despite my best efforts, I have managed to spend more money than I had budgeted. I also wonder if, perhaps, I would have saved more money had I gone to one of the other five grocery stores that are within a 1 mile radius from this one.

Upon returning home, my arms ache from keeping the food laden grocery cart straight and not veering to the side. It  also seems as though a literal hole has been burnt in my wallet from how much these groceries cost. At that moment my phone rings. It is a friend calling. She is weeping and proceeds to tell me she and her husband are separating. “I feel your pain,” I commiserate, “I just came home from grocery shopping.”

If I Could Change The World: Thongs, Bacon and Checkout Lines

If we were each given a magic wand that could end social problems, we would all probably wish for the same things. Poof! No more war, hunger, suffering and abuse. Poof! Good-bye global warming. Poof! Hasta la vista loneliness. Suddenly, every child would have a best friend and live in a loving home. Terrorism would be equated to Small Pox – a scary, deadly thing that had thankfully been eradicated. All at once, the world would be a friendlier, happier, more peaceful place.

Once those larger issues were taken care of, perhaps we could use those wands to fix smaller problems. The wand would still have to help society at large, mind you. You couldn’t swish your wand and expect to win millions of dollars and for your kids to suddenly sleep through the night.

After some thought, I decided the first thing I would wish for would be that bakers suddenly realize no one eats the end of the bread that sticks out of the paper sleeve. All loaves of bread would come completely wrapped so people would be able to enjoy every inch of bread without worrying about what the exposed piece had touched.

Second, thong underwear would be recognized as the torture devices they are and would be banned. After the massive thong recall and subsequent burning, I would wave my wand around and every shopper who uses the self-check out line would receive a significant percentage off their order (since they’re doing all the work).

Next, bacon would be considered heart healthy. Then, phone trees would be obliterated. The next time you call your bank or health insurance company, an actual living person would answer the phone. While we’re on the topic of phones, I may as well get rid of all telemarketer calls. Let’s make the National Do Not Call List actually work. Poof! (You’re welcome.)

While not an everyday occurrence, door-to-door solicitations can be really intrusive. Now, instead of selling new windows, vacuums, or cookies, the people who ring your doorbell with the intention of selling something would suddenly be brandishing a bouquet of flowers. That’s right. All door-to-door solicitors would all at once turn into flower delivery people.

Before my wand runs out of wishes (all good things must come to an end – including magic), the very last small thing I would change would be that milk would never expire. No more sniffing the carton and wondering if milk always smelled that way. Pouring sour milk into a cereal bowl and realizing it had gone bad after that horrifying first taste would never happen again. Last minute runs to the grocery store for a fresh carton of milk would be a thing of the past.

Perhaps other people would use their wands to wish away high gas prices or obnoxious drivers. Maybe someone would wish mosquitoes to become extinct, and teenagers to offer to babysit for free. After all, the little things in life are often the big things.