Saturday, October 30, 2010

Temptation in the Trailer

I was just like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Only I was tempted in our family travel trailer.

Let's start at the beginning. My Dad loved to tinker. He'd take things apart just to see how they worked. Perhaps because he was a child of the depression, he didn't like to throw things out. If something broke he'd save the parts for use in a future project. He was the epitome of resourcefulness.

As an example, we had a monstrosity of a picnic table that was parked in the far end of our back yard (where its bulk wouldn’t kill the grass.) It would take a minimum of 2 adults and 4 healthy kids to carry the enormous table to our back yard eating area. My 5 siblings and I dreaded moving that monster. In fact, if we got wind of the fact that that we were eating a meal outside, we would scatter like fire ants after an Amdro application.

As we grew up and began leaving the nest, my Dad was faced with a problem: how to move Big Bertha without his underage work crew. His solution: put it on wheels. I’m not sure where he found wheels strong enough to support the behemoth, but he did. Look Ma! No hernia!

Then there was the car side mirror that hung off the front of the house which allowed us to see the school bus coming down the hill. There was also some pulley system he developed using his riding lawnmower, a tree and the hammock to… well, I can’t quite remember exactly what problem he was solving with that. But I'm certain it worked. 

It should surprise nobody that when my Dad decided our travel trailer needed a radio stereo system he decided to do it himself. He got his hands on an old car radio and was attempting to install it when he realized he needed an extra set of hands. That’s how I found myself holding the soldering iron and the solder wire for him that hot August afternoon. I was about 10 years old.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment. My Dad had high hopes for me as his child prodigy. Apparently at age 3 I had no interest in toys. I wanted nothing more than to pound nails into pieces of wood all day long. “Mabel, that child is a chip off the old block!" my Dad said to my Mom. "If she can do this at 3 imagine what she will be able to do at 5! She'll be installing paneling in the living room!”

(But much to his disappointment, my construction skills peaked at 3 years of age.)

Back to that dreaded August afternoon. My Dad handed me a piece of wire and a soldering iron to hold for him until he needed it. He said, “Whatever you do, don’t touch the wire to the iron.” Then he proceeded to climb on a stool and stick his head and half of his body inside of a cupboard the size of a glove compartment.

Then the devil whispered in my ear and I began to wonder what would happen if I touched the iron to the wire. I looked at the wire, then at the soldering iron. They sure looked innocent enough. Would I get a shock? Would it make a noise? Would I break it? What could possibly happen? So I touched them together.

A ball of melting iron landed on my bare thigh.   I screamed a silent scream.

To this day I don't remember how I managed to sneak out of that trailer without my Dad hearing me. I believe I bribed my brother Tom into taking over my role as helper while I administered First Aid.

As far as I know, my Dad never found out about my little 'experiment'. I got a nasty blister on my leg that I managed to hide from my parents. But I did learn an important life lesson that day.

I'd make a lousy welder.

As post-note, my Dad passed away 7 years ago today.  I think he'd get a kick out of this posting.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Very Own Dust Mop Slippers

Today I decided to try out Dust Mop Slippers as one of the many services I provide to my readers.   Maybe you're heard of this new, exciting product.  According to the advertising, you can dust your floors simply by walking across them.

"No more kneeling and stooping to clean those out of the way places. Simply slip on these convenient slippers for a clean and sparkling floor. Frees you hands for other chores. Easily clean those out of the way places without kneeling or stooping. A great time saver!"

Wow!  Sounded like an incredible concept!  So I went to our local "Sold only on TV Store" and purchased my very own pair of Dust Mop Slippers.

I'd be lying to you if I told you I shook with excitement when I pulled my Dust Mop Slippers out of the bag. They were actually pretty lame looking. But they were my Dust Mop Slippers. I invested $9.99 in them and I was going to make the most of them.

I put them on and got to work.

Kevin has been shedding like an alpaca recently, so my Dust Mop Slippers had a big job ahead of them. I started slowly. It was not unlike ice skating on newly Zambonied ice. I glided from side to side. As I gained confidence, I moved faster. Next I slid my dust mop toes in all those hard to reach corners of my kitchen. And I scored a ton of dust bunnies.

That is, until Kevin noticed. "Attack the dust mop slippers" is his new favorite game.

Dust mopping with my slippers was certainly more fun than dust mopping with a dust mop. But, I wouldn't call it riveting. To that end, I have developed a scathingly brilliant idea for drastically improving the Dust Mop Slipper user experience. (They don't call me a marketing genius for nothing). If I can find just the right venture capitalist, I will soon be releasing "Dust Mop Slipper 2.0 complete with Dancing while you Dust DVD".

I've got it all planned. Believe me, I would not scrimp on this project. I will hire a professional to develop the Dust Mop Slipper choreography. Of course, with my extensive dance experience, I will most certainly star in the DVD. I will probably ask Tiffany and Cortlin, my stripper sisters from Gypsy, to help out. That way we will be able to demonstrate various levels of dust mop dancing (high, moderate, and low impact). This product will work for all fitness levels.

In all honesty, it will be very difficult, even with the "Dust Mop Slipper 2.0 Dancing while you Dust DVD Set", to corner the market in the recreational dusting category.

Those crafty Japanese have come up with the most incredible dusting concept ever.

Talk about developing a work ethic in your children!   

If only I had thought of this. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Flying Peasant

When I was in high school I learned about the class systems of the Middle Ages. Feudalism was the law of the land and the basis by which the upper nobility class maintained control over the lower classes. At the top of the pecking order were the kings; next came the lords with the peasants at the bottom of the barrel.

I recently experienced the United Airlines class system. Sadly, I was not a king. I was not even a lord. I was a United Airlines peasant (UAP).

My peasantry wasn't obvious to me at first. I mean, I've flown enough to know that those travelling first class get to board first. But I took note when they invited the "United First" passengers to board on the red carpet.

A Red carpet? I rolled my eyes. Their tickets probably cost 3 times as much as mind did. For that they get to walk on a red carpet. Whoopee.

Then they invited at least 5 other classes of upper nobility to board: United Business, United Economy plus, United Premiums, United Blue Bloods, and United Arrogants.

The red carpet was long gone by the time they finally got to the United Peon class. In fact, they made us crawl onto the plane across a path of broken glass and hot coals.

OK, so I made that part up.

I got in the long line with the other UAPs. And I held my head high. That is, until I boarded the plane and saw where the red carpet people were sitting.

They had their own private pods, not unlike what you would see on the Jetson's. I've worked in cubes smaller than these. Take a look! The only thing missing was a masseuse.

I was starting to get red carpet envy.

I walked numbly past the high rent district and was momentarily excited as I saw what I thought were our seats. But no, they were for the Lords (Business class).

I kept walking. And walking. Finally I reached the UAP section. I squeezed my body into the teeny tiny seat next to the other peasants. I buckled my seat belt, closed my eyes and tried not to think about those Backcycler Motion System ergonomically correct lounge chairs in the red carpet section of the plane.

I decided to think positively. It's only an 8-hour flight. I will be fine, I thought, in this toddler chair watching a movie on a screen the size of my calculator.

Then the flight attendants began to make the announcements. "For those sitting in first class, we will be around in the next 5 minutes to serve you steak and lobster. Don't worry Economy class passengers, we have a variety of stale sandwiches available for purchase. We'll be around with those in 3 or 4 hours"

My red carpet envy intensified.

"Oh, one more thing, you Economy class peons...I mean passengers. We have 2 bathrooms conveniently located for all 120 of you to share. You are not allowed, under any conditions, to pass through the blue curtains and use/soil the bathrooms of the first class or business class passengers."

I wondered if their bathrooms had jacuzzis. My red carpet envy grew out of control.

"Economy class passengers caught attempting to use bathrooms beyond the blue curtain will be forced to leave the plane."

What are they going to do? Throw us out the door?

"But we pride ourselves in our customer service. To that end, we will provide a parachute for your exit."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Nerdling and the Pogo Stick

I've had more than a few people ask me how I ever learned learn my jump rope on a pogo stick schtick. Here's my story, and I'm schticking to it.

It all started with the Gong show, a 1970's show that was an incredibly odd mutation of a talent show and a freak show. Acts ranged from outrageously bad jugglers to contortion artists. And who could forget the twins that sat on towels on stage eating pop sickles in a sexually-suggestive manner?

I loved the Gong show. I was mesmerized by the bad talent. And when I read that there was a community Gong show at a local school, I decided to go for it. But I needed a bad act.

I settled on the pogo stick pretty quickly. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I had what you call "pogo perseverance". I could bounce forever... at least until I got hungry or had to go to the bathroom.  And I could do it with no hands. Great start, but I needed something to make it memorably bad. I decided to add a jump rope to the mix.

Perfect Gong show material.

But alas, the local Gong show was canceled. I thought my unique talent would never be showcased.

Fast forward to 1993. My daughter Kimmy was student of the week in her kindergarten class. As part of this honor, the parent(s) would come in and read a book, or talk about their career in an attempt to make the student of the week the envy of the other 5-year-olds.

When Kimmy told me that it was her turn I got very excited! "I know what we can do!" I said. "I'll do a survey of the kids....maybe ask them their favorite color! Then we can analyze their data and make a pie chart! We can color the pie slices the colors that they like." I was going on and on about this fabulous idea when I noticed that Kimmy was not on-board with my plan.

She rolled her 5-year old eyes and looked at me pleadingly. "Mom! That would be SOOOOOOOOOOOO boring! Can't you do anything else?"

I thought about it for a minute and offered, "I can pogo stick and jump rope at the same time...."

Her eyes lit up. "Are you kidding, Mom?" The rest is history. I showcased my unorthodox talent for Mrs. Hiller's morning kindergarten class. The class was completely blown away. And Kimmy has never been prouder.

Fast forward another 17 years. When Jamie,  the director of Gypsy told me she was casting actors to play worn out strippers who have gimmicks, I mentioned that I could jump rope and pogo stick simultaneously. I auditioned and got the part of Electra, whose gimmick is lighting up various parts of her anatomy while dancing.

At the script read-through we got to page 47 and Jamie said, "Lou, this is where you will be jumping rope on your pogo stick".

I believe I responded something like "Yay!", but inside my head was spinning. Crap! She really wants me to do that? Can I still do that? Where did I put that pogo stick? Do we still have a jump rope? What's my health care deductible?

But it's kind of like that saying about getting back on the horse... or is it the bicycle? You can lead a jump rope to a pogo stick but you can't make it hop.  

But in my case, it all came back to me.  And the rest is history.