My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman (10 page)

BOOK: My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman
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Killer Apps

Not only are my appliances breaking down, they’re conspiring against me.

Or at least, though they claim to make my life easier, they really make it harder.


I produce only seven dirty dishes a day—namely, one mug (morning coffee), three plates (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), three glasses (daily allotment of two Diet Cokes before forced by guilt to segue to tap water), and 56 spoons (for eating Häagen-Dazs out of the container).

I could wash my dishes in ten minutes, but I don’t, because I have a beautiful dishwasher, now only one year old. I load it up every night and forget about the dirty dishes, only to unload them the next morning.

Even dirtier.

This goes on for a month. I’m convinced it’s my imagination, but my glasses and dishes keep looking worse than when I put them in. I wrack my brain but can’t figure it out, so I go through the good-girl checklist. Dishes rinsed off first? Check. Placed in rack properly? Check. Living a good and honest life? Check.

Yet my dishes remain filthy. I give up and call the appliance guy. He examines the dishwasher, then asks, “Do you use a drying agent?”

“A what?” Evidently not.

He points to a mysterious hole in the dishwasher door. “That’s what this is for. You put the drying agent in here. It will prevent the buildup from the water.”

Now they tell me. “Why didn’t I know about drying agents?”

“It’s in the owner’s manual.

Did you read it?”

“Does it have a car chase?”

He doesn’t answer.

“Then, no.”

He adds, “You can buy a drying agent in any grocery store, and you should also pick up a dishwasher cleaning agent.”

I try to follow. “My dishwasher needs to be cleaned?”


“But isn’t it supposed to wash things?”


“So why doesn’t it just wash itself?”

He gathers my question is rhetorical, which it isn’t, and I walk him to the door, cranky. I have to buy dishwashing powder, a drying agent, and a dishwashing washing agent—all to clean seven dishes? What does the dishwasher do to earn its keep? If you ask me, somebody’s slacking and his name rhymes with KitchenAid.

My clothes dryer isn’t pulling its weight, either. For the past year, I have to put it through two cycles to dry anything, and if you think I use only a few dishes, I won’t even tell you how often I wash my sheets. Generally, I wait for the dogs to complain.

Anyway I call the appliance guy and he says the clothes dryer is fine, but I need to clean the outtake hose because of the buildup.

Buildup again! “What buildup? There’s no water there.”

“No, but there’s humid air.”

“Air can build up?” I ask him, incredulous.

“Or lint. Check the owner’s manual, you’ll see.”

Now I hate the owner’s manual more than I hate the buildup.

And don’t get me started on lighting timers.

In a fit of temporary insanity, I had timers installed on the lights at my front door, back door, and garage. The electrician stuck these very tasteful white things into my light switches, and they’d be great if they worked, but they don’t. Their second day on the job, they joined the appliance conspiracy, so I can never guess what time they’ll go on or off. Now the front lights go on at three o’clock in the afternoon and go off at nightfall, like accomplices to all burglars in the tristate area.

Plus the garage light goes on at two in the morning, just in time to wake me and the dogs up, so we can all bark for the next hour, when we fall into an exhausted sleep.

I would turn the lights on and off manually, but the fancy timer switches won’t let me do that. They’re the control freaks of the electrical world.

I can’t even claw them out of the switchplate, nor do they respond to profanity and other forms of verbal abuse.

Now the only thing building up is my blood pressure.

A Paid Political Announcement

I’ve lived through a number of elections by now, and they get more and more negative.

I try to stay positive about negative ads.

Why? Because I write fiction for a living, and so do the people who write these ads. The truth can be so boring when you don’t make it up.

I also appreciate a good laugh, and I laugh every time one of those ads comes on. And wouldn’t you rather see a good, old-fashioned smear of a political ad than yet another commercial for Cialis? Evidently, the stock market isn’t the only thing going down.

It doesn’t matter which candidate you support, or party you belong to. Negative ads are always the same. My favorite negative ads are about candidates running for the state offices, whatever they are. I never heard of any of these guys, but now I know they’re liars, thieves, wastrels, killers, and closet watchers of
Project Runway.

I don’t know them, but already I hate them and am afraid of them. A scarier lot you never saw, and if they get elected, they’ll bankrupt the entire world.

Oops, too late.

Sometimes I like to imagine what the negative ads for other politicians would have been. Consider, for example, the original change candidates, the Founding Fathers.

You say you want a revolution?

Take George Washington. The negative ads would tell you he had wooden teeth. Would you really vote for a man who doesn’t floss? Plus I heard he got that tall by taking steroids. The battle of Valley Forge wasn’t bravery, it was ’roid rage.

And how about an ad for Thomas Jefferson? Dude had a pony-tail, wore ruffled shirts, and spent way too much time in Paris. You know what I’m saying. Don’t ask, don’t tell that there were Manolos in his armoire.

Ben Franklin. So he invented the printing press in his basement. You know what else he was making down there? Bombs, meth, and counterfeit copies of
Sex and the City II.

So you see how much fun you can have, making negative ads for heroes. Some people would call that libelous and disrespectful, but they can’t take a joke.

Plus you have to look for the silver lining in the negative ads, and by that I mean that they create jobs for so many people.

First, the scary voice-over people. You know who I mean. The whispery female voice threatening that the Democrat will spend us into oblivion, and the deep, rich bass of the man who warns that the Republican will send us to war, armed only with duct tape. You don’t hear those scary ads except at election time, and those voice-over people need work.

The rest of the year, it’s the perky types who get the voice-over jobs, like the housewife voices happy about floor wax or the hubby voices happy about car wax. If it weren’t for negative ads, you would get the idea that the only difference between women and men is what they wax.

Plus, what about bad photographers? Negative ads give them the only work they get. They’re the ones who take the terrible photos of the candidate, or catch their ugliest moments. And think of the horror music people. The other day, I heard the most terrifying music ever coming from the TV, but it wasn’t an ad for the sequel to
or even a rerun of
It was a candidate for state senate. Nothing like a scary drumbeat to make you think of nuclear war, serial murder, or politics.

Scary voice-over people, bad photographers, and horror music composers would be out of a job but for negative ads.

So there you have it.

Democracy creates jobs, and negative ads are proof.

Angie The Kitchen Aid

This is a world in which the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but I’m wondering if we should change that.

Tell you what happened.

It was a typical afternoon chez Scottoline, and I was working in my kitchen office, which is a euphemism for the computer nearest the refrigerator.

My favorite place to work, for obvious reasons.

Anyway, the kitchen was quiet except for the thrumming of the dishwasher, which was running for the second time that day, because I was trying to get the glasses clean. If you recall, I’ve been having dishwasher drama, and it turns out that all the rinsing agents in the world have failed me. It was making me crazy, a mystery I couldn’t solve. My glasses were cloudy enough to be a weather report.

To stay on point, I was working happily, surrounded by the dogs. Little Tony sat in my lap, because he always begs to come up. Ruby The Crazy Corgi was at my feet, since she usually curls up there. Penny, my younger golden retriever, was sitting beside me, pawing to be petted, which is her habit. Only Angie, my older golden, was on her own, lying near the dishwasher, probably because it was warm. Angie is soft, fluffy, and plump, with fur the toasty hue of vanilla wafers, and all she was doing was watching me, resting her head on her paws, her brown eyes dark as bittersweet chocolate in a mask gray with age. She didn’t paw, scratch, or whine. She asked for nothing.

I caught her eye, and she flopped her tail once, letting it
on the hardwood floor, because all it takes to make Angie happy is to look in her direction. And because she never asks for anything, she doesn’t get very much. She’s twelve years old and she comes on our daily walks when she’s up for it, but she doesn’t get the attention the pushy ones do.

Angie isn’t a squeaky wheel.

But that day, seeing her by herself, I finally focused on her and realized that I had been neglecting her. Just because she didn’t ask for attention didn’t mean she didn’t deserve it, or need it. She’s a great old dog, even more precious because she won’t be around forever.

So I lifted Little Tony from my lap, stepped over Ruby, ignored Penny, and went over to Angie. I sat down on the floor beside her, gave her a big kiss, and scratched behind her ear while she drifted off into a noisy slumber.

And of course I began to relax, too, in a deep, centered way, and I realized that that was the gift you get from a dog like Angie. Because she’s at peace with herself, she makes you at peace with yourself. It made me understand that I’m rarely spending time doing something as simple as petting a sleeping dog, and that I’m too often running in all directions, responding to the ring of cell phones, the beep of incoming email, and the latest text in my BlackBerry.

Angie made me take a break.

I enjoyed the moment, letting my gaze wander over the things I see every day in the kitchen, like the baby photographs of Daughter Francesca, the bamboo plant on the windowsill, and a crumpled tube of toothpaste, near the sink. I brush my teeth three times a day, like a good girl, and about two months ago, I started keeping a toothbrush and toothpaste downstairs, because I got too lazy to keep running upstairs.

Then, in a blink, it struck me.

I’d been brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink, and that residual toothpaste must have been going down the drain, which flowed to the same pipe that feeds water to the dishwasher.

Angie The Kitchen Aid.

In other words, there’s nothing wrong with my KitchenAid, there’s something wrong with me. If I stop brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink, the clouds should clear from my glassware.

Mystery solved.

And all because I finally took the time to think, thanks to a sweet old golden retriever.


BOOK: My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman
4.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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