Regarding Your Gift

honeybell

Dear Matthew and Thomas,

I want to thank you for this year’s subscription to the Fruit of the Month club. Unfortunately, your mother and I are not bearing up well under the pressure of the responsibility such a gift entails. You see, I made the mistake of going to the Harry & David website. I don’t know what they do to justify such prices. I can only assume the fruit is grown on a remote tropical island, serenaded daily by choruses of castrati, watered with the tears of orphans, and hand-picked at the peak of ripeness by virgins. It appears to be the Kopi Luwak of fruit. I just hope it doesn’t pass through the bowels of a civet cat before packaging. Now that we know how much this fruit is costing you, we feel obliged not to let any of it go to waste – a task that is made very difficult depending on which fruit happens to show up each month.

This month’s fruit was the HoneyBell. On the surface, it appears to be an orange. It is not. According to the information card that came in the box, the HoneyBell is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. I don’t know how they managed to get a grapefruit to mate with a tangerine, but somehow it seems an affront to both nature and God. Also enclosed in the box were instructions… instructions for fruit. I have never before received fruit which required a user’s manual. According to said instructions, this graperine is highly unstable and likely to explode at the slightest touch, killing anything within a twenty-foot radius with a deadly hail of juice and peel shrapnel. Accessing one of these citrus grenades requires the use of protective bibs (also enclosed) which I suspect must be made of a very thin Kevlar material.

As soon as I read the directions, I sent your mother out of the house for her own safety while I donned the protective Kevlar lobster bib and a pair of safety goggles from the garage. I then filled the kitchen sink with water, submerged the HoneyBell underneath it (because I had seen someone do that with a bomb once in a movie), and began to peel. Since there was no neighborhood-shattering explosion, I peeled the second HoneyBell on the counter. Nothing. It peeled just like a regular orange.

I then gave your mother the all-clear, and we sat down to enjoy this ridiculous fruit (after she put on the second protective bib, of course). I have to say, the HoneyBell was very good: quite sweet and even juicy, though we did not come out of the experience looking like we had sat in the front row of a Shamu performance as the instructions seemed to indicate we would.

Anyway, while we love and appreciate your thoughtfulness, we just can’t handle this sort of stress on a monthly basis. I can’t imagine the guilt we will both suffer when we are forced to throw away a thirty-dollar pineapple because I was unable to figure out how to cut it open – even with the instructions, safety bib, and the special Harry-&-David-monogrammed meat cleaver I’m sure will come with it. For the love of Pete, please just send us a Red Lobster gift card next year.

All our love,
Mom and Dad

 

Physics

  • Yesterday, Diana asked if I could come by during my lunch hour with our portable dolly and move a filing cabinet from one side of the bank into her office. As there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her, I readily agreed. I assumed I would arrive to find an aluminum filing cabinet emptied of files, which I could just pick up with my mighty arms and move without the use of the hand truck. I was wrong.“Where’s the filing cabinet you want me to move.”
    “It’s over against that wall.”

    I walked over and looked at the cabinet.

    “This isn’t going to work.”
    “Why not?”
    “This isn’t a filing cabinet.”
    “It’s not? What is it?”
    “It’s a Fireking 4-drawer nuclear shelter cleverly disguised to look like a filing cabinet and designed to withstand suicide bombers.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “It means that it’s filled with either concrete or gypsum and reinforced with galvanized steel. It means that it probably weighs over 500 lbs… assuming you took all the files out of it.”
    “Oh.”
    “Oh, what?”
    “I didn’t want to have to take all the files out then put them back in. I thought you could just move the whole thing with the files in it.”
    “Darling, do you know what is heavier than either concrete or gypsum?”
    “Paper?”
    “Paper.”
    “Well, can’t you just move it with the dolly?”
    “This is not a dolly, Darling. This is a glorified, collapsible luggage cart I got at Big Lots for moving cases of Coke at your banking events. If I try to tip that concrete bunker onto it, it will do just what it was designed to do – collapse, and I then I will die… painfully.”
    “Do we have another dolly?”
    “We did. A good one. But you left it in the garage in Kentucky when you packed up our stuff to move up to Nebraska.”
    “Sorry. Maybe Mary’s husband can get one from work.”

    Turns out Mary’s husband could indeed get one from work. She would bring it in the next day. I went back to work and mulled the problem over. First, I convinced myself that Diana really needed that cabinet moved that day. Next, I remembered my own cardinal rule: “Every new job requires a new tool.” After I got off work, I went straight to Lowes and bought a new hand truck. Now, I should have taken it home and made sure the tires were fully inflated to the correct PSI, but I wanted to get back to the bank and finish the job that day so I could justify my purchase. I kicked the tires, they seemed pretty full. I paid for the truck and returned to the bank.

    “Where did you get that?”
    “Lowes.”
    “Why did you do that? Mary’s bringing one in tomorrow.”
    “I didn’t want to wait. Besides, we need a good dolly, and YOU left mine in Kentucky.”
    “But when would you ever use it after today?”
    “The next time you need a 600 lb object moved.”
    “That might not be for a while.”
    “I’ll wait.”

    So I went over to the cabinet and started sliding it side to side until I got it out a few feet from the wall. I rocked it back and got the edge of the hand truck underneath the front of it, then let the cabinet down. Then I tried to rock the whole thing back. Even throwing my considerable weight into it, I couldn’t get it to rock back to its balancing point on the dolly. I finally got Diana to get behind it and push while I pulled. To give Diana her due, she’s a sturdy thing, and the person I normally want on the other end of a sleeper-sofa I’m trying to move.

    We got the cabinet tipped back, and I turned it around and began pushing toward her office. It was at that point that I noticed the left tire on the dolly was only half inflated, and the right only a quarter. (Helpful tip: kicking a tire really gives you no actual indication of the state of its inflation. You can’t measure PSI with your foot.) As I pushed, the cabinet started to list to the right because of the lower right tire. Now, once that cabinet tilted past a certain angle, there was no way I was going to be able to prevent it from slamming into the floor and probably doing a great deal of structural damage. I not only had to balance it forwards and backwards, but also from side to side. I had a split second to decide to either drop the whole thing and run, or Dave-up and get it into her office. I decided to Dave-up.

    I shifted my body more toward the right side of the cabinet and pushed with all my might. I pushed and pushed and pushed… and then…

    … I farted.

    Now, I stayed awake just long enough in high school science to realize that when you put enough pressure on a container of air, that air is going to do everything in its power to escape that container and achieve a steady state. It’s called “dynamic equilibrium.” Look it up. Anyway, though I can’t explain the physics behind it, this sudden equalization of pressure allowed me to get forward momentum on the cabinet. I pushed the wobbling cabinet of death into her office, and then gently tipped it up before wrestling it back against the wall where she wanted it.

    “Thank you, Darling. I’m sorry this was such a hassle.”
    “Oh, you’re worth it.”

    Diana came home later from work, and thanked me again.

    “Thank you for moving the file cabinet for me.”
    “You’re welcome.”
    “I kind of enjoyed watching you do it.”
    “Did you?”
    “Yeah, the muscles in your arms and shoulders were all bulgy.”
    “Really?”
    “… and your veins were all standing out.”
    “Yeah, I imagine they were.”
    “It was pretty sexy.”
    “Was it?”
    “Yeah… right up to point where you farted.”
    “You heard that, huh?”
    “Yeah.”
    “I can see where that might have killed the mood.”
    “I was just glad it happened while you were wrestling a file cabinet. Usually when it happens, I get a sheet pulled over my head.”
    “I thought you liked that.”
    “No, Dear. No woman likes that.”
    “Do you think the girls at the teller line heard it?”
    “I don’t know. I’ll ask them, tomorrow.”
    “No. No, don’t do that. I’d rather not know.”
    “Then don’t pull the sheets over my head anymore.”
    “Deal, and I get to keep the hand truck.”
    “Deal.”

Angry Green Beans

I’m always reluctant to call something a “woman thing.” People are basically individuals, and I have a pretty good idea that gender drives very little in life compared to one’s environment, culture, and a host of other things not connected with our danglies. My wife, Diana, is an individual. I don’t know if she does “woman things,” but I know she does “Diana things.” These things are not unique to her, but after over 30 years of marriage I know them like I know my own feet. But to pretend I understand women in general would be pure foolishness. Men, I understand completely. We aren’t complicated. One “Diana thing” is her annoying habit of initiating or continuing conversations with me when I am in another room or in a completely different part of the house.

Now, I do my part. If we are talking, and I need to leave the room, I follow proper man protocol:

1. I walk toward the door (so she can clearly see that I wish to be somewhere else).
2. I stop and stare at her blankly until she finishes her current sentence.
3. I assume because she has stopped talking for three seconds that the conversation is over.
4. I continue on to wherever I was initially headed.

Sometimes I only get about three steps before I hear her talking again. Other times I am already an entire story above or below her in the house when I catch the sound of her voice gabbing away as if I was still right in front of her. In such cases I have two choices:

1. Turn around and go see what the hell she’s blathering on about, or
2. pretend I didn’t hear her and slip out the nearest exit, then come back in another door later.

“Didn’t you hear me talking to you?”
“No, I was outside flanging the water inductorator on the sprinkler system.”
“Oh.”

Unless I am carrying something heavy, though, I almost always select option one, just in case she is asking something important such as, “Is it okay to run these turkey bones through the garbage disposal?” or “Hey, how about a nooner?” At times we’ve been physically separated in the house for hours, and out of nowhere she will ask me a question or tell me to do something, so that I have to stop what I’m doing and go find out what she wants.

Last night, Diana was up in the kitchen, and I was down in the basement hooking up our new printer. I needed to concentrate because it’s not easy to put things together or hook them up when you willfully disregard the instruction manuals (because you know better than the people who made the product how that product should be set up). Again, this is proper man protocol and has nothing to do with the usually large amounts of extra parts I have left over after one of these projects. So, I am just figuring out that the reason the ink cartridges aren’t going in is because there is an “ink cartridge cradle” that goes in first that I haven’t bothered to unpack yet, when I hear:

“David, blah blah blah blah blah…”

I know I should have gone with one of the aforementioned usual options, but for some reason I decided it would be a good idea to give her a taste of her own medicine. So, with my back to the stairs and my head in the printer, I replied in a semi-loud monotone:

“BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, YOU ARE TALKING TO ME AND I CAN’T HEAR YOU BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH YOU THINK JUST BECAUSE I WAS A LINGUIST THAT I SHOULD HAVE SOME SORT OF PRETERNATURAL HEARING THE REALITY IS I HAVE TINNITUS SO LOUD THAT THE NEIGHBORS COMPLAIN ABOUT THE NOISE AND IT JUST HAPPENS TO BE ON THE SAME FREQUENCY AS THE WHINE I HEAR RIGHT NOW COMING OUT OF YOUR PIE HO…….ooolyyyy shit…”

It was about that time that I noticed I could see my breath in vapor-form like in that movie The Sixth Sense and could feel the temperature in the room had dropped about twenty degrees. Since I don’t believe in ghosts, I knew (as only men can know these things) that Diana was standing right behind me. I turned around slowly to see her: hand on hip and tapping her foot (I swear – she was tapping her foot),  about ready to burst.

“Look here, Mr. Snappy Turtle. All I was asking was if you’d rather have green beans or corn with supper.”

Now I had years’ worth of valid arguments ready to hand; the primary being, “Then why, for the love of all that’s holy, didn’t you come to the basement door and ask? Because then I would have heard you, and, you would have heard my answer.”

But, I didn’t say anything because I couldn’t get past the picture of her standing there, one hand on her hip and the other wagging a finger at me, calling me Mr. Snappy Turtle. This caused me to make my usual fatal mistake of bursting into outright laughter.

“I am NOT Snappy Turtle.”
“You ARE Snappy Turtle. I was just trying to find out what you wanted with your supper, and you’re down here mean-mouthing me.”

Well, that (in combination with her pouty bottom lip) broke me.

“You’re right. I am Snappy Turtle. I’m sorry. I love you. I would like corn, please.”
“Well, you’re getting green beans. You should have answered when I asked you instead of mouthing off.”

Then she marched back upstairs, and I finished installing the printer until supper was ready. And even though I knew I was eating “angry green beans,” I could still taste the love.