The Art of the Silent Treatment

I’ll be honest: When I’m mad at my husband, my punishment of choice is the silent treatment.

I’ll be honest: The last time the silent treatment worked on my husband was never.

I’m crazy about my husband. Everybody knows that. We agree on 95%of things and don’t argue much. But watch out for that 5%. I don’t mean dumb things that aren’t so dumb and really steam me like during hockey season when I root for the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders are my second team but he’ll root for the New York Islanders and AGAINST the New York Rangers even when they’re not playing each other. I’m not talking about that. Or that when we play Jeopardy!, he just blurts out answers before Alex Trebek finishes reading the clue, and never puts his response in the form of a question. (Not to mention, he pays no attention to the category so half of the time his answers make no sense whatsoever…Try living with that.)

What I’m really talking about is: Every so often, say every few months or so… he’ll just be exasperated about something and yell at me and make a comment to me that makes me think he thinks I’m a lot younger than I am. I mean if it was a remark that made me feel, say, 28 like: “Wow, look how smooth your skin is”, I’d be fine with it. But no, it’s more like: “Look how you left the sink. How many times do I have to tell you, you have to rinse it out?!” I mean, I’m pretty small… (another couple of years I should fit nicely onto a charm bracelet.) And I like to tell myself that I look younger than I am. And I’ll gladly order off the kids’ menu if you let me… & I have a handful of shows I hate to miss on Nick Jr. & one or two on PBS Kids. But the point is: No person over the age of five likes to be talked to like they’re five. (I need to take a poll of five year olds. They’re probably not that thrilled about it either.)

So usually when my darling hubby addresses me as such, I turn around, and huff away… and stop speaking to him. In return, he goes into the bedroom, gets into bed and turns on one of his shows on TV. Yeah, I’m winning! This punishment is going great!

I could say he doesn’t even notice I’m not talking to him but that’s not the case. He knows I’m mad. But in the past after the “punishment” has been lifted and we’re speaking again, he’s claimed that he never knows what to say. (Somehow: “I’m sorry” never seems to occur to him.) So here’s how this scenario usually plays out:

For two days or for as long as I choose to “torture” him, I silently cook everything, clean everything and wash everything and he withdraws/retreats– never leaves– the bedroom. His busy schedule for the duration alternates between multi-tasking napping and expelling noxious fumes and watching Family Guy and Pawn Stars.

So what’s wrong with me? What will it take for it to truly sink in that my silent treatment isn’t effective and I need to find some other way? I’m thinking maybe one day when I have to get off my knees from scrubbing the toilet to answer the door to escort a pizza delivery guy and a stripper to my bedroom.

I think this is why I always think it’s bullshit when someone gets “house arrest” as their punishment.  No matter what crime the person’s committed, I always take the punishment personally.


Weather: It’s Highly Subjective

I’ve mentioned in previous posts the phenomenon of snow storms since I moved from the Northeast of the U.S. to the Southeast. The whole personalities of New York and North Carolina are very different and never is it more apparent than during inclement weather.

North Carolinians see a storm brewing in Wisconsin on the weather report and say:  “Please please don’t let it come here.” New Yorkers say: “Come to the Big Apple motherfker. Let’s see what ya got.”

Memories are different in the Southeast too. Here they ruminate over the fear they had 6 years ago: “I remember last time  cars were all sliding into each other. My neighbor was stuck on the beltline for 5 hours. It was a nightmare.” New Yorkers brag about it to each other: “Remember last year when we were walking to the Walgreen’s on 34th Street and the snow was up to our necks? That was exercise. I was sweating like crazy. It took me 45 minutes to go 3 blocks”

Snow is a huge deal down here. If there’s even a rumor of snow, not only will they talk about it at the beginning of the local evening news and at the end of the local news, they’ll then interrupt the start of Jeopardy! to give you a special report about it. This report serves the purpose of freaking everyone out with non-information like: “If the cloud formation makes a left turn it could be nothing, but if it makes a right turn it will be “the worst storm in history”. Then they make a feeble attempt to bolster our confidence by showing us how the area is getting prepared. They cut to a shot of the snow emergency fleet:  Six garbage trucks with huge shovels jammed into their fronts and three guys with lawn mowers with smaller shovels jammed into the front.

Things close here due to panic & an extreme version of the “better safe than sorry” rule. I ponder the ramifications of those closings. We stay glued to our TV watching the updates go across our screen. Churches are always the first to bail. It may be Tuesday and the snow, if it ever happens at all, may possibly, perhaps, by chance start falling on Friday. No matter. That’s all the churches have to hear. They start sending out the message two days early: “Gd is everywhere, so stay home and talk to him at your house because ours is closed.” “All roads lead to Gd, so if ours have snow on them, take a detour somewhere else.”

Some of the other announcements that really don’t affect me at all still really make me nervous. “Dialysis Center closed”. Okay, that sounds kind of important.  How about “Meals for the Homebound”? I mean they can’t come out to get food. You know that. It’s in the name of your organization.

North Carolina meteorologists, in my opinion, fuel the frenzy. They throw around the word “treacherous” every five seconds. “The morning commute could be treacherous. The main roads could be treacherous. But the secondary, tertiary, and quaternary streets will definitely be treacherous. And don’t even think about driving on the  quinary, senary or septenary streets.  The only word I can use to describe them would be: ‘Treacherous’.”

Then they cut to a scene on the off-ramp of the interstate where a guy veered off the road into a ditch 3 minutes after the first snowflakes started falling and mention as an aside that, true, his blood alcohol level was 5.

My husband brought to my attention at this last go-round that there’s one reporter who never gets out of her car in bad weather. Don’t reporters usually demonstrate how bad the weather is by standing in the middle of it freezing, blowing all over the highway? You can barely see them because the snow and ice keep smashing against the camera lens.  But not this woman. There she is, doing the story from the comfort of her passenger seat with the window rolled up and her seat belt on. You can practically feel the heat on her legs. I’m thinking here’s one newsperson who probably won’t be signing up to be a foreign correspondent any time soon. I know nothing about news reporters but I imagine those who won’t put on mittens in North Carolina wouldn’t be interested in driving over mines anywhere else.

The Most Important Day of the Year

Last week was my birthday aka “Lori’s Day”. It’s quite a big deal. You may have heard of it. It may even be pre-printed on your planner. (Oh geez, am I the only one who still uses a planner that doesn’t have to be charged?) This year, as usual, I had “Lori’s Day” all planned out. I was going to go running around the lake at my neighborhood park and then go for a massage. Perfect. Then the threat of a snowstorm came. And the lake was deemed too treacherous. (Not by me but I didn’t want to take the chance. I wouldn’t have minded having a helicopter ride on my birthday but it would have been embarrassing if it was to airlift my broken body from the park to the hospital.) So that portion of “Lori’s Day” was shot.

Then came the massage. Why oh why couldn’t I have found a massage therapist from New York… or New Hampshire… or Michigan… or Switzerland? Anywhere where they look down their noses at a mere foot of snow. But no. This woman wasn’t about to venture out to touch my body or anybody else’s. Of course you may ask why my Prince Charming husband didn’t ride in on his white trusty steed and offer to save me from my tired lower back muscles or carpal tunnel.

Do you have a husband? My husband, maybe like many husbands, maybe like all husbands only carries two sizes of massages in his inventory. The One-handed-while-he’s-watching-Family Guy-12 second: “Okay, here. That should hold ya.” Or the much more extensive, heartfelt (or some body part felt) massage that would quickly turn “Lori’s Day” into “Lloyd’s Day”. That’s all he ever has in stock: Either the extra-small massage or the XXX massage. He never has “medium” massage in stock.

I headed out into the “storm” (see last post) looking for something- anything- open. Maybe I could spend my big day at a Taco Bell or a car wash. I was determined to have a good time on my birthday even if it meant overturning in a drainage ditch. Finally I found a place willing to do my nails. And I’m nothing but grateful. Really I am.

But manicurists should have a dress code.  Or at least pedicurists. Or at least don’t talk to me while you’re clipping my toenails. What I’m getting at is that if you look up and talk to me, I’m going to have to look down and respond. And if I look down and respond, I’m talking right into your cleavage. I don’t want to talk into your cleavage. Nothing is more depressing on your birthday than spending the afternoon chatting with another woman’s cleavage. It looks like I’m checking you out because there’s nowhere else for me to look. I promise you: If you ever see me on Shark Tank it will be hawking a pedicure chair which tilts at an angle so you have the option of not looking down the pedicurist’s shirt while she’s scraping your callus.

So the lesson to learn from my special day is simple: Be thankful for every moment because things could always be a lot worse: My birthday could have been the following day which I spent in the company of a 24 hour stomach virus. The total sum of my “Lori’s Day” plans would have been deciding which was more pressing at the moment: Facing the toilet or sitting on it.


Did it Snow? Did it Snow? Did it Snow?

“You can never be too careful.” I think that’s the state motto here.  If you live anywhere in the U.S. you’re undoubtedly aware of the blizzards that have been wreaking havoc over much of the Country the past several weeks. Even if you’re not in the U.S., it’s been pretty big news. I realized this week that “wreaking havoc” is a subjective term. To me, having lived my whole life until 7 years ago in the Northeast, “wreaking havoc” is what’s happened in Massachusetts: Snow drifts up to the second floor windows, roofs caving under the weight of the snow. Now, let me introduce to you the North Carolina “blizzard” I’m experiencing now. (Oh, did I type “blizzard” in quotation marks? I wonder how that happened.)

Here they have psychological blizzards.  Instead of mounds and mounds of snow piling up, they have mounds and mounds of paranoia piling up. They don’t deal in inches here. They deal in hallucinations. Monday, the local news started talking about the big storm that was coming. It was due at 4:30 pm. Everybody synchronize your watches. We all remembered last year when there was little warning and then we all got screwed. I for one was stuck on the side of the highway for four hours. I read magazines, vented to my husband via cellphone and drank lots of water to keep hydrated, followed by– Let’s just say there’s one water bottle I’ll probably never drink out of again.

So when these weather alerts happen here, we never know whether or not to take them seriously. So this past Monday, early afternoon, the masses flocked out of work. Schools let out early. The roads were packed with residents trying to get home ahead of the storm. Everybody stopped just long enough to get gas, batteries, milk, eggs, bread, propane, logs for the fireplace and a back-up generator.  People weren’t only putting gas in their cars but they brought along all of their back-up containers to fill. Interestingly, nobody seemed to purchase sand, salt or a shovel. Nothing to dig out with, just necessities to hibernate from it all until April. And the reports were pretty accurate about the time of the storm. A freezing rain started promptly at 4:36 pm… And ended at 4:45 pm. To which my husband proclaimed, looking out the window: “The blizzard of 2015 has finally passed.” But the paranoia had just begun.

On Tuesday, the entire state of North Carolina turned their sign around to “closed”. The governor declared a state of emergency. Schools were shuttered in our area for the rest of the week. “Too treacherous.” “Don’t go out unless absolutely necessary”. That itty bitty bit of sleet that had fallen on Monday had frozen on the pavement. For five days all we heard was: Black ice. Patches. Bridges. Turn into the skid. Wear layers. Check on pets and old people. Churches are closed. Schools are closed. Closed, closed, closed. McDonald’s was open but, be careful, the drive-thru is very slippery. Last night there was a nine car pile-up at the pick-up window.

Cars were going down embankments. Tractor trailers were turning over in drainage ditches. The combination of bitter cold and Monday’s “extensive rainfall” had made life unlivable. By Wednesday I couldn’t take it anymore. Against the better judgment of everyone on the local weather report, I threw on my cloak and ventured out into the icy wilderness of Arendelle. I was the only car on the road. The dry, dusty, not-a-speck-of-wet-in-sight, couldn’t-be-any-drier roads. I made my way to a nail place that had the decency to be open. Two women were commiserating about the miseries of the current weather. Rear- wheel drive is not good in this weather. Trucks aren’t good in this weather. Weather? What weather? Where was there weather?

I’m not sure what it is. Either people are watching too much Weather Channel or too many Disney movies.

Valentine’s Day- Is it a Holiday or Isn’t it?

Valentine’s Day is one of those non-holidays that nobody ever seems to know what to do with. It all gets very complicated.

I think most men, frankly, would like to forget about it altogether. While that annoys me, I also admit that guys walk a very fine tightrope on this “holiday”.  If you act like you’re going through the motions just so we won’t bitch you out on Valentine’s Day, we’re irritated. On the other hand, if you spend a month agonizing over the details–which flowers to buy, where to hang the decorations– and loving every minute of it, we’re having images of David Tutera and thinking over our entire history together wondering what other huge rainbow flags we’ve missed.

Then… There are women who think the whole thing is silly and that the Valentine’s Day traditional doodads are a colossal waste of money.

Then…  There are women who always expect jewelry… Or at least Kay & Zales jewelers will have you believe.  I’ve never gotten jewelry. I don’t know a lot of women who have. Either I’m traveling in the wrong circles or this Valentine’s jewelry thing is just another holiday marketing myth- like the one about us all growing up eating green bean casseroles with Durkee French onions for Thanksgiving.

Then… There are couples who go overboard and propose / get married on Valentine’s Day. Are these amazingly romantic couples? Or just people so lost in the ooh la la of love, they can’t see how much it will truly suck for the rest of their lives if they break up? They’ll have to stay in the house every February 14th to avoid getting run over by a florist’s delivery truck or seeing the rest of the world wearing red and gazing into each other’s eyes at dinner.  It would be easier to fly to a non-celebrating Country for the day.

Then… There are those guys who think Valentine’s Day is not only the answer to all their relationship woes but it’s New Year’s Day &  Yom Kippur rolled into one. It absolves them from being a total asshole from February 15th to February 13th. Somehow, they can stay out late with their friends every night, get drunk every weekend, curse you out in public and grab some other woman’s ass but all will be forgiven the second you lay eyes on that Whitman sampler. And then they get mad when you take the bouquet directly from the doorstep into the bathroom and put it into the porcelain vase…. Ungrateful trollop.

I may be wrong, but I think our relationship is the most typical one: I expect to be lavished with flowers, a romantic card that lifts me up and puts him down: Something about how wonderful I am and how he still doesn’t know what I see in him… Some chocolate- from a real brand- not one that makes chicken coop wire all year except February when they become confectioners. No, I need real candy: The  kind that comes with a map to tell you which shaped ones can be found where and what fillings they have so I can navigate around the chocolate minefield and avoid those curious orange and pink ones… at least for an hour until they’re the only ones left. And of course, I must have some beautiful flowers.

I think my husband is also typical. For most men, I think, Valentine’s Day is just a means to an end. It plays like a conga line to them: Dinner, flowers, candy, sex.  Dinner, flowers, candy, sex. He’s thinking: “For some reason, she thinks this day matters. Well, three of the four gifts are for her.”

And to be honest, it’s a fair ratio.


One Day a Year, I’m Not Myself… Probably a Good Thing

I revel in the the extra bit of hokey romance on Valentine’s Day. I have friends who think candy hearts and flowers are a waste of money. I like them. I look forward to them. And it’s the only “holiday” every year that I hope falls on a weekday. I like to see the looks on the faces of my co-workers–all women– when my bouquet is delivered. Sometimes I see the delivery guy coming and duck into the back of the office just so he can ask several people: “Lori Fox?” “Are you Lori Fox?” “These are for Lori Fox.” And if by some bad fortune, he discreetly sneaks in when I’m the only one around, my flowers become my appendage: I carry them around the whole day like I’m expecting a flash mob beauty pageant to break out at any moment.

So call it true love or vengeance for having had one too many pathetic Valentine’s Days in my bachelorette past, but I love the day…. which is weird… because, well, how do I say this?

Usually… I’m the man in the relationship…

And I mean that in all the worst possible ways.

I’d like to tell you that I mean that in the most old fashioned, chauvinistic stereotype: I’m in charge in my household. What I say goes. My husband doesn’t even get a vote in anything. If I want to go see the ballet, we’re going to the ballet and that’s final. Alas, no. Neither of us is in charge in our house which means we live in chaos. We probably should hire someone to take charge.

All of the negative assumptions associated with living with a man apply to me.

1) A full weekend to me only requires two elements: Snacks and TV sports.

2) If we had any sort of window coverings on the majority of our windows, I’d happily parade around in my underwear on a regularly basis. Now I only do it occasionally.

3) I regularly use profanities as the subject, verb and direct object of a sentence.

4) I see no reason why I should cook.

5) If I ever have my handwriting analyzed, it may be determined it’s a female’s handwriting, but not that of a female human being.

6) I see no reason why I should do laundry.

7) I don’t drink directly out of a milk container, although I’m fine with using the bathtub spigot as a water fountain.

8) I decided to finally clean the floor of my car the other day. I gave up at sundown because I was afraid to touch anything I couldn’t see first. I estimate that I’m still at least a tier or two away from the floor mat. (When did I ever eat shredded wheat?)

9) My husband may have an array of bodily noises in his repertoire, but it takes two to make a concert.

And, best/worst of all:

10) I scratch whatever wherever.

(Honey, are you reading this? The most important part of this post is: I just told everyone how well you do on Valentine’s Day. You wouldn’t want to publicly embarrass yourself by falling short this year would you?)

Driving Me Up a Wall at 35 M.P.H

I just saw on aol… you know like the New York Times is “All the news that’s fit to print”. Aol is more like: “All the news that may not exactly be news & isn’t usually proofread for typographical errors.” Anyway, I was reading this morning about this woman in North Carolina who reported that she was terrorized by another woman with road rage. My first thought: was “Oh, my gosh. That’s horrible. I live in North Carolina. I wonder if it was me.” While other readers were likely hanging onto each detail to see the condition of the victim, I was quickly scanning the article to see if the perpetrator had been identified and checking my cell phone to see if there were any missed calls.

On the one side, I understood the criminal’s point of view. Some people here drive veeery slowly. The speed limit might be 45 and the person in front is doing 38, seemingly oblivious to the twelve cars stuck behind him. And now, they don’t just drive slowly, they’re too busy to drive too: Texting, talking on the phone, eating, doing their make-up, doing their girlfriend, tweezing their eyebrows, snorting cocaine…

The victim in this case called 911 (excellent idea) and videotaped the whole incident…with her window partly open. All okay while the nut is just severely tailgating you and yelling at you in American Sign Language with only one finger.  But the second she pulled in front, stopped and got out of her car… Honey, roll up your window, put down the camera, and drive around that crazy fk.

So I’ve been upset with crappy drivers… but I’ve never gotten out of a car. I’ve never confronted anyone.  I’ve never done profane hand gestures to anyone. (The lie detector determined: THAT was a lie.) Okay, I’ve done the last one but not recently. It’s stupid and unnecessary and a lot of people here carry guns. It would be humiliating to have to explain for the rest of  my life why I only have four fingers on my left hand. This is how I know that the Universe is working to protect me. I drive an old car with windows that haven’t opened in years. This is part of the great cosmic plan to keep me from getting shot in response to hurling an occasional stray middle finger out at slow drivers in front of me and big trucks behind me that drive up my ass in bad weather.

Years ago when I still lived in New York, I was driving one night on a dark street on Long Island. When I stopped at a red light, two guys who were fighting with knives chased each other off an exit ramp and continued their battle on the hood of my car. I hit the gas, they flew off like leaves, one to the right and one to the left, and I went on with my evening.


Is it a House or a “Home”?

It feels like some sort of conspiracy. This may sound crazy, but I’ve been seeing the same house over and over again. Okay, it’s not really a house. I just think everyone concerned would rather I call it a house than a “home”.

In my last post, I talked about my father-in-law and his “desperate”, half-assed attempt at finding someone to help him with his daily tasks and household chores. I don’t know the exact details of his interviewing technique. I’ve never seen it first-hand.  I don’t know if he weighs them and tosses out anyone over 130 pounds or automatically disqualifies people who come from countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with Sweden or is looking for someone with a PHD in botany, but nobody is ever suitable by whatever fkd up yardstick he’s supposedly employing.

Notice I’m a horrible daughter-in-law. I’ve never once suggested he come live with us. In fact, when my husband brings it up in jest (I hope) every few months, the conversation usually goes thusly:

Husband: “My father could always come live with us.”

Me: “Are you watching “Big Bang Theory” or could I put on “Project Runway”?

We visit my father-in-law often and will do whatever we can for him to be happy and healthy… over there. And, the best part is: He doesn’t want to come here to live with us any more than we want him to.  And, as awful as it sounds and probably is: The main reason I don’t want him to live with us is: If you don’t believe in the power of negative energy. Fine… I challenge you to a little experiment. Have my father-in-law stay in your house for a week and watch all of the electronics within a 2 mile radius die a slow death. The neighborhood will suddenly, mysteriously, have no wifi or cell phone service, cable service…. Sure, call your carriers… Let them tell you there are no current outages in your area.

So my sister-in-law, the good child, not like the rotten one I married, arranged for him to move from Florida to New York–not in with her– but into an assisted living place near her. (She may be a good daughter but she still wants to keep peace with her neighbors and her electronic devices.)  Shocking to no one, he didn’t want to go. (Can’t really blame him on that one) He did reluctantly agree, likely just to shut up my sister-in-law, with clearly no intention of giving it a real shot or staying a minute past the one month trial. Now, back to the home I alluded to at the beginning of this post.

We went up to NY to visit him during his brief stay. It was a pretty place. When you walked in, there was a desk of friendly people on the left. They told us he was finishing lunch, indicating a long hallway. We found him there, on the left at a sitting area complete with a couch and paintings to match, set outside of the dining room where residents could meet with visitors. There was also a door leading to an outside area. My father-in-law took us down another hallway to the bank of elevators and led us up to his room. Okay, this is why I’m going into anally boring, detail: A few months after that, my cousin moved my uncle into an assisted living place near her in New Jersey. My sister went to visit and took pictures.  She is notorious for posting pictures of ridiculous things. This time, I was glad she did. The place had a desk on the left at the entrance, a long hallway which led to the dining room on the right and, the sitting room on the left, and outdoor area… etc etc. The color scheme was the same, the couch/artwork combo was the same. The residents were the same. Is that Mrs. Becker in the photo? Then it gets weirder.

One evening, I turned on “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and the fabulous Lisa Rinna was going back to Oregon to help her parents move to what seemed like possibly an assisted living place. I could be wrong… I might be hallucinating at this point but I could swear, in the background, I caught a glimpse of the same entrance, same desk, same hallway, same dining area, same couches, same Mrs. Becker. I thought: “Oh Gd. The place is contagious.” I thought at least it had been contained to the Northeast but it’s spread all the way to Oregon. What are the chances the entire Midwest hasn’t sprouted desks, hallways, couches/paintings and Mrs. Beckers also?

The important question is: Is every one of these buildings freakishly identical in hopes that horrendous children and children-in-law like us can easily shuffle our relatives between us without them realizing they’ve been shuffled? “Okay, Dad… You’re back home. What do you mean you don’t live here? Look, there’s the desk and the hallway, and the couch. There’s the painting that’s always been there. There’s your friend, Mrs. Becker”. So either this is all an elaborate scheme to screw with our elders… or Stephen King  has started dabbling in real estate. Red-rum. Red-rum. Red rum.


Hiring Help for the Unhelpable

It all started several months ago. My father-in-law lives alone in Florida. He needed someone to help him do his daily tasks. If you’re a fan of the Big Bang Theory and you can picture when they were looking for someone to help take care of Howard’s mother, it was like that: Every day, a different woman of various ages, sizes and ethnicities, representing twelve countries on three continents came flying through the front door looking disheveled. If you didn’t know better, you’d think my father-in-law had turned his bonus room into a den of iniquity and was supplementing his social security by running either an escort service or a specialty crack house that catered only to females. …Not that they’d allow that in his over 55 community. You can’t even have a pet. (Where my father lived, you could move in with a dog but once the dog died you couldn’t get a new one. So everyone just kept buying the same breed over and over in an effort to convince management they had the same dog for thirty years.)

Some of my father-in-law’s prospective -I don’t know what you want to call them- assistants, helpers, foster parents…just couldn’t take his constant kvetching. While I sympathize, because I can’t take it either, I’m also thinking they’re in the wrong line of work. You’d think that would be a major part of the job description. “Enjoys cooking, cleaning and working in a suffocatingly negative environment.”

But, get this: In most cases, it was he who did not find them suitable. In one instance he told us: “She didn’t get me breakfast”. We asked: “Have you ever, by chance, mentioned to her that one of the things you’d like her to do each day is to get your breakfast?” To which he responded: “Of course not. She should know. Why should I have to tell her anything?”

One woman, he didn’t like the way she looked. She was ugly. I told him: “This isn’t The Bachelor and who are you, Matt Damon?” (I had to pick a cutie he’d heard of.) Anyway he was embarrassed to be seen in public with her. What? Embarrassed in front of whom? Wal-Mart shoppers? Or the other 85 years olds around the pool and the women who take care of them?

I hate to say, but even at his age, embarrassment is still a driving force in his life. He won’t eat anything with his hands in public: No ribs, no fried chicken, no chips and dip. I can’t relate to this. My father was the polar opposite: We would order spinach artichoke dip for all of us to share. He would dip, double dip, triple dip… Dive wristwatch-deep to rescue his sinking taco chip if necessary. And the magic by no means ended with dips. He would not only eat an ice cream cone in public, he would catch the dripping ice cream with his tongue as it headed down his arm. So if you’re an Odd Couple aficionado, I grew up with Oscar Madison and married into Felix Unger.

As for my father-in-laws roomie situation-  He still retains the final rose as he continues to “interview/abuse” his prospective, caretaker, groundskeeper, soul-mate- whatever you want to call her.  Stay tuned..

Bill Collectors Expect So Much

When people sue their deadbeat friends, Judge Judy always says to the plaintiff: “I know she promised to pay you back but you’ve known her for 20 years. She’s never had a job in 20 years. She has a drug problem. She’s been in and out of jail 6 times. She’s sleeping on someone’s sofa. Where’d you think the money was going to come from?”

I can relate– to couch girl. Maybe I should have Judge Judy talk to Time Warner Cable (and Verizon, and the electric company, and the bank, and MasterCard) for me. I mean, except for the drugs, the jail and that I’ve always had a job and a bed… That’s me in a nutshell…really.

Time Warner and Verizon et al are all old friends of mine. We go way back. Are you kidding? I’ve been getting their final notices since the eighties. They know me. Every month like clockwork, I call them pleading for an extension on my cut-off date. I start the negotiating high with an offer of “2018”. They start low with an offer of “Tuesday”. Ten minutes later, when the haggling is over, we’ve settled on “Tuesday”. Well, I try. They always reject my suggestion that they take a play from the furniture chain’s marketing playbook: “No payments until 2018″.

The cable company and I are so close, it calls me more than my sister and sister-in-law combined. Of course I never pick up the phone so they just leave a polite message: “There’s been a change in your status.” I might actually react more swiftly to an impolite message: “Yo Bitch, we’re about to cut your ass off. Think about THAT when you got NO housewives from NO-where!” And anyway… That polite message is a lie. What change in my status? I owed them two months ago. I owed last month. I owe this month. Where’s the change? They call non-stop from the morning until 8 O’clock at night. Last night when the phone rang and the caller ID came up on the cable TV (nice feature they have) my husband was really irritated: “Why are they calling us now? It’s the cable company. They can see we’re watching football. They couldn’t wait for us to ignore them at halftime?”

I don’t know why they stress out anyway. I pay them every month. It may not be exactly the day or amount they’re hoping for. Maybe they need to lower their expectations.

MasterCard checks in on me pretty often too. We had a love affair for 10 years. Then one month, I misread the minimum payment due as $50 instead of $58 dollars. They lovingly told me to pay the entire $8000 balance or pack up my shit and get out. I chose the latter. So now their collections people call me too. My husband and I have made their calls into a game. See, there’s always a beat in the automated message where somebody inserts your name. When we see it’s them calling, we turn up the speaker volume, crowd around the answering machine, and take turns pointing to my face every time they say my name: This message is for: “Lori—Shandle—Fox”. If you are not “Lori—Shandle—Fox” please hang up. By not hanging up you are confirming that you are “Lori—Shandle—Fox”. We’d turn it into a drinking game but they call pretty often. We’d both be face down on the kitchen floor by day’s end.

So if anyone reading this is one of my debtors and considering taking some sort of action, all I can say is: I look forward to hearing from your collection agency. One of our representatives will get to them shortly. They are currently number 26 on the queue.