Thursday, June 23, 2011

First-Class Dilemma

We are currently at cruising altitude, flying high above the East Coast as we return from a delightful Florida vacation (without the kids...special thanks to my in-laws!).  I am seated in First Class, which is a new experience for me. 

In a gesture of pure unselfishness, my dear, sweet husband has used his frequent flyer miles to upgrade my ticket -- and now, my petite five-foot-one frame is comfortably sprawled across a cushy chair, while his six-foot-three body is crammed in a teensy seat in the ass end of the plane. His knees are probably in his face at this very moment.  I think about him with love and feel a warm, tingly feeling in my belly. 

No, wait... I just really have to pee.

Dammit, this happens every time I fly.  I don't know why, but no matter how many "pit stops" I make before boarding, my bladder inevitably decides to assert itself the minute we are in the air.  It doesn't help that, for some reason, I always seem to wind up in an inside seat; if I am flying with my husband, he needs the aisle because of the legroom.  In today's case, I just happened to be assigned to the window. 

And, of course, it is also inevitable that the person next to me should be sound asleep by the point in the flight at which my bladder revolts.  So here I sit... again, contemplating how badly I would need to pee before something, um, undesired would happen.  I know from watching my son, who chronically avoids using the potty, that it's quite possible to postpone urinating for an extended period of time.  I am considering trying one of the many tactics that he employs to accomplish superhuman pee-avoidance, but I think the other passengers might be alarmed if I suddenly crouched to the floor, hid behind my seat, and bounced up and down while emitting an "uhhhhhhhhh!!!!" sound.

I glance over at the traveler who is quite effectively blocking my exit and wonder if he is really asleep, or if he's just "resting his eyes."  Just as I am contemplating tapping him on the shoulder, his mouth falls open and he begins to snore quietly.  Damn.  I am thinking that I really should have studied meditation when I had the time and interest -- perhaps some deep breathing and an "ommm" chant could distract me from my exploding bladder.  Enduring this can't be that different than swallowing fire or walking on hot coals -- and aren't there monks somewhere who sit completely naked in sub-freezing temperatures just to prove they can?  I really need to look into some....

Ugh... turbulence.... I feel like an over-filled water balloon.

Oh, wait! ...

Hooray!  The gentleman next to me got jostled awake and let me out to pee!  Crisis averted!

I must say at this point that I am somewhat disappointed to find that the first class restroom looks like all the other bathrooms on the plane.  I was kind of hoping it would be a posh hideaway replete with roses, scented candles, and perhaps a decorative chaise.  Considering the fuss the flight attendants make about passengers using only bathrooms assigned to their "class," I thought I'd at least get a mint.

But here comes one of the genuine perks of First Class -- free alcohol!  I ordered a rum and Coke a little while ago, and I've just been presented with a tiny cup filled with ice, a can of Coca-Cola, and two airplane bottles of Bacardi.  I'm doing the math -- the bottles appear to be about a shot and a half each... that means if I fill my plastic cup twice and use both bottles, I'll have ingested three shots of rum in about an hour's time (it's only a two-hour flight).  Hmmmm....

I used to be able to drink "like a fish" --  in my early twenties I could do shots like there was no tomorrow (and often, there wasn't... because I'd be spending the next day in bed with the covers pulled over my head).  Now I hardly ever drink alcohol, and I subsequently have the alcohol tolerance of a fruit fly.  My husband loves this, as it makes me both a very cheap date and an easy target for harassment.

I decide not to tempt fate; I use only one bottle and toss the other in my carry-on.

I enjoy my drink, which still tastes ridiculously strong to my unpracticed palate.  I think I will try and take a nap.

Oh no... I have to pee again.  Maybe the drink was a bad idea.  We're landing soon... I fear I'll have to tough this one out...

(insert half an hour of crossing legs and holding breath here)

And, we have arrived.  I bolt to the bathroom, and then I wait inside the terminal for nearly twenty minutes while my husband struggles to extract himself from the seat and make his way out of the plane.  I greet him with a smile that I hope communicates both appreciation and sympathy.

"Did you get a nap?" he asks. 

"Um, no... I was too busy trying not to pee myself."

"Hmmmfff,"  he responds.  He seems grumpy.

"But look!  I have something for you!"  I say and excitedly present him with the bottle of Bacardi.  (Before the flight, he had actually instructed me to order a drink and pocket the alcohol for him to enjoy later, since I don't drink much.  I had dismissed the idea, asserting that this behavior would make me look like a first-class imbecile.  I therefore think he will be quite pleased to see I've saved him a bottle).

He rolls his eyes. "Great..." he says.  "My wife gets to fly First Class and all I get is this lousy bottle of rum!"

Ahhh, it's good to be home. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Need a Hero

This weekend our family got to attend our first "superhero" themed birthday party.  This was a new experience for us, and I had mixed feelings about the event.

The children were instructed to come dressed as their favorite superheroes, and I wasn't thrilled about having to scramble around in June to find a costume for my son -- heck, I didn't even know where one finds a costume in the summertime.  All the other moms I knew already had superhero costumes for their boys in their closets, and I took it as a sign of obvious maternal incompetence that I did not already own such attire for my four-year-old.

The mother of the birthday boy kindly suggested that I could "get creative" and make up my own costume, but I knew better than to attempt that project -- with my luck, Evan would show up as a home-crafted superhero and the other children would ask him why he was dressed up as a turd... because that's about my level of talent when it comes to making homemade costumes.

Evan was extremely excited, however, for he had heard that Spider-Man would be performing at the party -- "performing" meaning telling jokes and signing autographs.  Again, I was a bit confused, as a joke-telling Spider-Man seemed like a disappointing concept -- shouldn't Spider-Man be fighting bad guys, not doing stand-up?  I had therefore been seriously considering attending this party dressed in a black spandex bodysuit and ski mask, and launching a surprise attack on Spider-Man during his show just to add a little drama to the mix... but then I thought better of it -- mostly because I'd look like hell in a skin-tight pantsuit. 

We managed to find a Batman costume for Evan at a local party superstore.  It only came in one size, and although it claimed to fit a four-year-old, perhaps the manufacturer meant a four-year-old grizzly bear.  It was ridiculously large and ill-fitting.  Evan didn't care though -- he proudly donned the suit as soon as we got back from the store and proceeded to run around the yard, ducking and swooping... and pulling up his pants. He looked just like Batman... if Batman had suddenly developed a bowel control problem that forced him to fight crime with a pound of poo weighing down his tighty-whities.  The "butt" of the costume was at my son's knees.  I couldn't let him go to the party looking like that.

So on Saturday morning I got up extra-early and dug out my dust-covered sewing machine.  I couldn't remember how to thread it and couldn't find the manual, so I decided I'd sew up the costume with the black thread that was already loaded in the machine.  I had to chop the costume in half at the waist, fold it over several times, and then sew the whole thing back together.  It created an odd effect, and the "belt" ended up practically covering my son's crotch, but hey, at least he didn't look like he had a load of crap in his pants. 

We arrived at the party to find another boy in a Batman costume, and Evan's face visibly fell when he realized he had competition.  This was all forgotten, however, when Spider-Man arrived.  The masked hero was dressed in a skintight spandex costume and came complete with his own boom-box that played his theme song as he made his entrance.  He jumped on the tables, leaped over furniture, and generally thrashed about.  One child erupted into giggles... another into tears.  Evan just sat there with his brow furrowed and his mouth hanging open.  The birthday boy wailed and repeatedly screamed "I wanna go HOOOOME!!!!"  When he was told he wouldn't be going home, he asked, between sobs and hiccups, if he could at least go hang out in the car until Spider-Man left.

I had to admit that Spider-Man was pretty intimidating.   He was lean and muscular, and he had two shiny, mirrored half-moons where a person's eyes should be.  Add the leaping about, and I could see how he could be scary.  Then he started handing out Pop Rocks and lollipops, and suddenly he became considerably less intimidating.  He played a variation of "Duck, Duck, Goose" with the children (his version was called "Spider, Spider, Venom"), asked them some trivia questions, and then posed for pictures with the kids.

I had a sudden impulse to pose for a snapshot with Spidey myself -- I imagined myself draped over him like a damsel in distress, and my heart did a little thumpety-thump.  What is it about men in uniform... or, uh, superhero costumes, that make women swoon?  

Spider-Man finished his show and bid the children farewell, then retreated to the bathroom.  Ten minutes later, a very average-looking, quiet, almost self-conscious man came out and joined us at the buffet table.  He sat quietly and timidly picked at some macaroni and cheese.  The spell was broken -- this was the guy I had wanted to drape myself over?  Wow. 

All in all, the party was a huge success, and my son believed the Spider-Man performance completely.  He did spend quite a bit of time puzzling over how Spider-Man got out of the bathroom, however, but he finally decided that Spidey must have gone out the window and he let the matter drop.  He has been talking about the party nonstop since Saturday, and he even wore his Spider-Man snow boots to a picnic on Sunday in the summer heat.  He was too proud to take them off.  He had seen the real Spider-Man, and his life would never be the same.

And I think mine has changed a bit too -- apparently I secretly harbor superhero fantasies.  Who knew?  So, I would like to alert my female friends:  if we ever go out for a girls' night... we can skip the male strip clubs.

I need a hero!

 My son poses with Spidey!
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Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Smartphone and the Dumbass

My husband and I share a passion for saving money.  My favorite bargain-hunting pastime is going to the local thrift shops (there are three within 15 minutes of my home) and paying a mere six dollars for jeans that would otherwise have cost me $69.50...or four dollars for a shirt that would have cost me $40.  I call it the "thrill of the hunt."

My husband, however, gets his kicks by shopping around endlessly for the best price on any service known to man.  While I don't have the patience for such lengthy endeavors, he will spend hours on the internet, researching the cheapest cell phone plans, the least expensive power providers, and the washer and dryer that will cost us the least in energy over a ten-year period.

He even recently signed us up for a program where the power company turns off our air conditioning periodically during the hottest parts of the day to save on electricity.  I objected to this proposition on principle, due to the fact that ever since having children I've been perpetually hot -- in the summertime I turn into a cranky, sweaty, sloppy mess that practically requires a strap-on air conditioner in order to function.  He insisted, though, claiming that this plan would save us up to sixty dollars a year.

My hubby is particularly stubborn in the area of electronic gadgetry.  Over the years, I have watched as my friends purchased first the Palm Pilot, then the Blackberry, then the iPhone or the Android... the iPad, and scores of other electronic gadgets that help them keep track of their lives.  I have sat at dinner with my mouth agape, observing them as they watched videos on their phones and texted without missing a beat of the conversations around them.

I have always felt left out of this exclusive club, as I've always sported the phone that was hot four years prior, but now comes free with the purchase of a two-year contract.  I remember being so excited when I got my first Motorala Razr -- my sister had had one three years before and had since upgraded twice. 

I awarded myself the title of "World's Crappiest Texter" after repeated incidents of being bombarded with numerous rapid-fire texts from someone, all of which interrupted my panicked efforts to complete a simple response to the first message received.  Feeling left out and completely incompetent, I comforted myself by adopting my husband's disdain towards "texters."  I frequently spouted my dislike for the practice of texting at dinner, texting while having a face-to-face conversation with someone, or just texting in general.  "It's destroying our ability to relate to each other!" I would exclaim, full of righteous indignation.

Nevertheless, I couldn't help but feel like I was starting to be left behind.  My friends all seemed to be having conversations that I wasn't a part of, and I had to admit that I thought their new phones were pretty neat.  So, for Christmas, I asked my hubby for a new phone.  I said I wanted one with a keyboard -- one that could use "apps." 

He surprised me with a sleek black phone that looked a lot like the Blackberry he uses for work.  I was thrilled... until I realized that it only looked like a Blackberry.  It was actually a very cheap imitation, and he had shopped around on the internet for some no-name provider that only cost $30 a month, leaving me with a whopping 2 megabytes of data I could transmit per billing period.  The first time my friend tried to send me a picture, my phone refused it, gave me an error message, and locked up.

Not wanting to appear ungrateful, I smiled and tried to make do with the new phone.  It was a disaster.  My phone wouldn't let me receive any pictures.  It claimed it could access Facebook, but it took ten steps, an incantation and dance, and some low-level voodoo to actually log on.  And after all that effort, all I could do was type my status -- it wouldn't let me see anything (probably to keep me from going over my 2 megabyte limit).  This didn't do me much good, as my slow texting apparently irritated my phone to the extent that it would habitually log me out of Facebook before I would have the chance to press the "submit" button. 

I suffered through this humiliation for four months, and then I began to complain.  My birthday was coming up, and I wanted a smartphone.  My husband objected,  "But I just bought you a new phone!" he said.

"How much did it cost?" I asked.

"Um.... ten dollars," was his response.  I snorted disdainfully, then promptly began my campaign to procure a better phone.

I saw the commercial for Virgin Mobile's $25 per month unlimited data plan, and I saw my opportunity!  I carefully crafted a sales pitch and then proceeded to bug him about it for a month straight, and lo and behold... for my birthday in May, I finally got my smartphone -- a real Android phone!!

I threw myself into learning how to use it.  I was amazed that I could push a button and Facebook would automatically open!  I could see my friends' pictures and status updates! I felt like a new woman!

(This brings me to the "dumbass" portion of my post.)

I can now proudly say that I have finally learned to text.  I can pull up a little keyboard on my phone, and tap-tap-tap -- a message goes out in seconds!   The problem is that my shiny new phone demands a lot more attention than my old one did.  My old phone spent its days and nights snoozing quietly in the dark recesses of my purse, not bothering anyone.  In contrast, my new smartphone lounges self-importantly on the kitchen counter, constantly asserting its superiority by chirping away merrily every other minute.  And it's next to impossible not to check what's it's carrying on about! 

Last night my husband was kindly putting my son to bed, and I was downstairs feeding my 17-month-old daughter a bedtime snack.  My phone began to chirp.  I picked it up to find that a friend of mine had texted me a question, so I set to work on answering.  Unfortunately, I was so wrapped up in typing the message that I didn't notice my daughter, who had chosen that exact moment to climb onto the end table and reach inside the lampshade to explore.

I heard a bloodcurdling screech, dropped the phone, and saw my poor daughter holding her wounded hand and screaming in agony.  She had grabbed the light bulb and burned her little paw.  I then had to explain to my husband that our daughter had hurt herself because I was texting.  Oh, how the righteous had fallen.

We set to work trying to comfort her, and after two hours and a lot of crying, she finally went to sleep.  There was no major damage done to her hand -- it was mostly just red, but I still berated myself for the rest of the evening, vowing never again to look away from her to send a text.

In light of this unfortunate event, I am formally lobbying for the following warning message to be displayed on all smartphones upon startup... or at least on mine!
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