Sunday, March 27, 2005

Ooooooooooh, What's that SMELL...

Recently, I came home from work, opened the door and there was the unfamiliar smell of what seemed to be cheap perfume in my home. The sickeningly sweet chemically-smelling stuff one can find in the sale-bin at Rite-Aid, or the type of awful assault one can experience when coming within the vicinity of someone who has never been taught how to wear the stuff. (Tip – it’s like B.O. – if you can smell it on yourself, you’re killing us and it’s time for a shower.) It smelled like a cheap hooker had been in my home while I was away.

“Manpants?” I asked sweetly.

“Yes, honey?” he said.

“Did you have someone over today?” I asked.

“No, why do you ask?” he answered.

“Because there’s a weird perfumy smell in here.”

“Well, it’s just been me and the dogs,” he said.

He came over and kissed me hello. AND I SMELLED IT.

“Are you wearing a new aftershave?” I asked.

“No! Honey, what’s wrong with you?” he asked.

“Well, there’s a weird smell in the house...and quite frankly you smell like a ten cent whore.”

“WHAT!?!?!?” he exclaimed.

Now don’t get me wrong. I trust Manpants implicitly, but the cheap perfume smell could not be denied. That’s when I saw it on the counter. The spray item that I see frequently advertised on teeVEE commercials that American households apparently need to spray on all fabric and upholstery type things they own...the name of the item is a witty combo of FABRIC and BREEZE, and it is designed to cover THE SMELL. I walked over to the counter, picked up the spray item that I see frequently advertised on the teeVEE and took a whiff of the spray nozzle.


Apparently Manpants decided he needed it to spray on his gym clothes so he could wear them for more than one sweaty workout session, rather than toss them in the wash. And since he hadn’t showered yet after getting back from the gym, he still smelled like the spray. It clings. Manpants had finally done the unthinkable. He had fallen victim to television advertising, which he apparently has been watching more of lately since we got rid of cable. Reality teeVEE dominates so much of network television that if one wants to see an actual actor, one has to watch the commercials.

There seems to be an ever growing collection of commercials and products designed to cover...THE SMELL...Stuff to cover smells upon furniture, clothing, laundry, living rooms, bathrooms (okay that one I might understand)...“fresheners” one can plug in, put on a table top, use as a nightlight, fresheners with built in fans so as to continually waft the scent of choice around a room, sprays, gels, solids, wipes...the list is ever growing to fill that need that the American household seems unable to be without...something to cover THE SMELL.

I got choked with this same smell yet again while hiking when a female hiker got ahead of me on the trail. Already breathing pretty heavy from the effort of the uphill climb, my oxygen supply was immediately stopped by the cloud of FABRIC BREEZE blowing into my airways off of her clothing. Ew.

Now I’m not sure when the American household decided that it was no longer appropriate to actually CLEAN a house – you know, vacuum, mop, polish the furniture, wash the laundry, wash the dog, stuff like that...or God forbid OPEN A WINDOW, but at some point we apparently decided to get all earthy about the whole thing and rather than clean anything...just cover it with something to continually mask the smell with a “spring fresh scent.” It is apparently so crucial that we adopt this way of life that in one commercial a woman literally tears apart her wall and ceiling in an effort to divert the electrical power to accommodate her favorite plug-in freshener in the room of her choice…it’s all quite violent, she greatly alarms her husband and we are unwillingly exposed to the new, improved, darker side of the current domestic environment.

Perhaps we’re trying to be more European? Except that last I checked, the European household is generally pretty neat (and has healthier food in the fridge). Yes, the French invented perfume to cover the fact that they used to bathe rather infrequently, but that was their BODIES, not their entire environment, and the French are far superior to Americans in the art of perfume creation. They gave the world Chanel #5 – we gave it Charlie.

Just open a window people...and if an upholstery cushion smells like ass – maybe it’s time to actually CLEAN it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Potty Training and Sex Education ....but not together...

I’ve been thinking a lot about potty training lately. And sex education. No, the two don’t go together necessarily unless one is into some sort of fetish behavior, or bizarre multi-tasking, but I’m thinking more of the philosophical concept attached to either one or the other of the two and how we have come to be where we are, and how it is that we have become collectively idiotic about it along the way.

There was a time, long ago before indoor plumbing and multi-room dwellings where people, couples, families and extended families sometimes, all lived and breathed under one rather cramped roof. There was no such thing as a private bedroom, let alone a private privy, and if one lived in the urban center, one did not even possess the luxury of an outhouse. The urban dweller was relegated to relieve him or herself in the porcelain (or tin) chamber pot usually located under or next to the bed. If one lived with other people, they would use this same chamber pot in front of others – or sit in the hole they made in the wall, or hang out the window over the unsuspecting passerby below, etc….the point being, there was no privacy.

As respects the concept of Sex, that too, was without much privacy, since everyone lived under the same roof. Any lovemaking that was to be done, was more than likely done in the same room and hopefully the kids were asleep. If one went to a hooker, rest assured they would probably be doing the deed outside in a doorway in plain view of passersby.

The reason I bring all this up is because during this fabulous time of no plumbing or privacy, people spoke plainly to one another. Shame about farts or shit or piss was just plain silly and SEX was not a taboo or shameful subject at all. There was no point, since all were in the same circumstances and there were no secrets.

Enter indoor plumbing and the private bedroom. Suddenly there was a closed door! Privacy at last, and with privacy, at least where the bedroom is concerned, arrived the element of SHAME. Forget original sin and the apple, it was the bedroom that did it. What went on behind closed doors was something never to be spoken of unless it was in the confessional or while repeating a dirty joke. By the time the Victorian era rolled around, we were so completely undone by all the privacy and what we could DO in the confines of that privacy that SEX became something so dirty, naughty and forbidden that many people stopped having it altogether. At least with people they respected.

How many thousands of women were treated by their physicians for HYSTERIA during this time? Which, if you’re not up on your Victorian history was a treatment whereby the physician massaged the vulva of the patient until she had an orgasm. They ended up treating so many patients for hysteria that the first vibrator had to be invented – a table that the woman laid upon face down while a steam powered rotating sphere gave her pleasure. Neat. That of course made its evolutionary way to the hand held model that was eventually sold in Sears and Roebuck catalogue.

I guess what I’m saying here is that indoor plumbing and multi-room dwellings, while fabulous sources to indulge one’s decorating hobby, didn’t do much for us in terms of a healthy approach to THE SEX. Now we have “family” organizations that throw apoplectic fits if the subject is remotely hinted at, let alone discussed frankly. And we can forget about any sort of education on the subject unless one lives on either of the coasts.

I wonder how much the FCC would fine Geoffrey Chaucer today for his writing? In the latter part of the 14th century, Chaucer wrote a little collection that came to be considered one of the finest works of early English literature. I refer to The Canterbury Tales, and would like to quote a little excerpt from the Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, and then the Miller’s Tale. I’ll use the translation, rather than make anyone slog through the original English dialect.

First, on God, Marriage and Virginity:

When did you ever see, in any sort of age,
that high God forbade marriage
By express word? I pray you, tell me;
Or where did He command virginity?
I know as well as you, without a doubt,
The apostle, when he speaks of maidenhood,
Says that he has no precept about it.
Men may counsel a woman to be single,
but advice is no commandment;
He left it to our own judgment
For if God had commanded maidenhood,
Then He would have condemned marriage along with it;
And certainly, if no seed were sown,
Where would virgins come from?

Heavens! What would Focus on Family say to THAT?

And from The Miller’s Tale

...This Absolon got down on his knees,
And said,” I am the lord in every way,
For after this I hope that more will come.”
Sweetheart, your favor, and sweet bird, your kindness!”
She unlatched the window quickly,
”Go ahead,” she said,” come and do it quickly,
In case our neighbors should see you.”
This Absolon began to wipe his mouth dry;
The night was dark as pitch or coal,
And out the window she put her hole,
And as for Absolon, it happened no better nor worse
But with his mouth he kissed her naked arse
Most enjoyable, before he realized what he was kissing.
back he started, and thought something was wrong,
For he well knew women don’t have beards;
He felt a rough and long-haired thing,
And said,”Fie! Alas! What have I done?”
“Tehee!” said she, and slammed the window shut,
and Absolon went off in a sorry state...

Chaucer of course was parodying members of society of that time to make a point, but do you think anyone could get away with doing that now? They’d latch onto the literal text out of context, and it would be all over the news. “Celebrated English poet Geoffrey Chaucer is reported to have been hiding pornography and anti-Christian sentiment in classic literature! Will he be fined? Tune in! News at ten!” Now, since the FCC has not been very clear on what is offensive, other than to say that if anyone is offended by anything, it can be considered offensive and thereby subject to a fine upwards of $500,000 dollars – PER OFFENSE - I ask you – how much do you think Chaucer would be fined today by the FCC for one of the great works of English Literature?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Okay, here’s a wacky question that can keep you up at night. If you’re waiting for an elevator and the doors open and there’s an actual sumo wrestler inside – do you get on? I saw that on a commercial once and it just freaked me out for days.

That being said, I am moving the subject to something completely different. Of the philosophical nature, if you will. We as human beings are generally raised with, or glean along the way, a certain social awareness. An intuitive sense that certain impulses should not be acted upon. IMPULSE. I M P U L S E. A sudden wish or urge that prompts an unpremeditated act or feeling. For example, I might have an overwhelming desire to get up and leave my comfy spot in a comfy booth at Mel’s Diner, walk over to a complete stranger comfortably seated at ANOTHER comfy booth, pick up a ketchup bottle and dump it over the stranger’s head. That type of behavior is generally frowned upon and deemed unacceptable unless you are on a reality teeVEE show, and then it is expected behavior befitting a representative of the United States. And given that Mel’s, while a diner, is generally patronized by well coifed people in full makeup who have had a lot of work done to make them appear younger, more firm, lifted and (except for Linda Tripp, who had just had God knows WHAT done to her face and looked like a cadaver cheerfully eating an omelet) a lot like Barbie, or Ken for that matter, chances are I would be messing up a really nice hairdo and expensive tee shirt.

IMPULSE. A sudden wish or urge that prompts an unpremeditated act or feeling. That would be the ketchup scenario. ORRRRR the electrochemical transmission of a signal along a nerve fiber that produces an excitatory or inhibitory response at a target tissue, such as a muscle or another nerve...That would be the ketchup scenario if my body acted independently in all things, despite thought control…okay, so what if I woke up one morning and everything that I thought about I started doing – completely incapable of controlling it – just because I thought about it and the brainwaves kicked off the electrochemical transmission of a signal to the rest of me? What if I started furiously masturbating in a public mall because I passed a Circuit City and they were showing the 1996 Tom Berenger movie “THE SUBSTITUTE” on each and every one of their large screen television displays…and I just THOUGHT about it?...Okay, where was I.

An example of a NON IMPULSIVE act, but rather the desperate fight for freedom, dignity and office Feng Shui, would be my giving notice at the 7th circle of hell cubicle drone job I have mentioned in posts past. Yes, you may congratulate me for telling Ursula the Cubicle Witch that I will be moving right along. And in a group act that just warms my cockles, some of my co-workers, in silent passive aggressive protest, have arranged a little good-bye gathering where pie will be served. Rhubarb pie. Ursula the Cubicle Witch just LOATHES rhubarb pie. Which is why they will be serving it.

It is my opinion that one’s ass always looks best when one is walking away.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

From the Frastley Family Files (ooooh I alliterated again!)

Glee. GLEE. G.L.E.E.: Jubilant delight, joy. I like that word, and think people don’t use it nearly as often as they could. Try it. I dare ya. Make it your business to correctly use the word GLEE in a sentence today.

Which brings me to a story that fills me with glee just thinking about it.

My mother - (we'll call her Esmé for respectful anonymity purposes - what? You thought my REAL name was Millicent?! Snork! ) - anyway...Esmé used to enjoy talking to herself in the kitchen. She would consult herself on all topics relating to or involving the need for advice. She would tell herself the problem, then she would advise herself on it and either argue that the advice was ridiculous, subsequently hurting her own feelings and having to apologize to herself for bringing it up in the first place, or she’d thank herself for the advice she just received from herself. She rarely followed the advice she gave so freely, but it gave us countless hours guessed it...GLEE.

Esmé had an incident once while having a rather vehement argument with herself in the kitchen. The conversation had reached a fevered pitch, with both her sides being extremely passionate about her opposing points of view, when all of a sudden she yelled “NO!” at herself and the four front teeth in the top of her mouth just flew out. Actually, they broke in half and it was the half parts that flew out, but nonetheless, teeth were flying on that particular day. She stopped arguing with herself immediately and looked rather stunned. She then put her hand up to her mouth, said “Oh Thhhit” and ran out of the room. I’m not sure how the force of her own yelling at herself would break her teeth, and I think there were probably other contributing factors, like faulty dental care during the Depression or something like that, but whatever it was, she wasn’t able to see the dentist right away. So in order to avoid humiliation, she chose to distract people's attention from the possible noticing of her mouth damage by wearing huge rose colored sunglasses. The kind one might have seen on Elton John during his fashion hey day. That in combination with the beehive hairdo was quite a sight let me tell YOU.

She later became mayor of the town, but that is a decidedly different story for a different day. And no. I did not make any of this up. My family is madcap and zany.