Monday, April 26, 2010

Ross Vs. The Snuggie

Those of our friends who have known Ross for a long time know his reputation.  They know that he's a friendly guy who loves Jesus, enjoys helping people make smart financial decisions, and eats almost everything except cheese.  He also has a reputation for being a little bit of a miser when it comes to the heating bill.  Jokes were made when we got engaged last summer; for some reason people assumed that Ross might break his strict 55-degrees year-round mentality.  For the sake of his wife, you know.

Fat chance.  The man will spend his last dime to send a missionary to Africa.  He often picks out classy jewelry for me and surprises me.  He never questions the grocery bill, no matter how many odd, exotic foods I've bought.  No, Ross is in no way a stingy man.  Unless we're talking utilities.  The boy is absolutely capable of living without light, other than the glow of the computer screen, and without power, other than the microwave and said computer.  I assume the neighbors think he's genuinely nocturnal.  Knowing this, and knowing that my marriage would leave me out in the cold, so to speak, I put just one thing on my Christmas list last year.

A Snuggie.

Mock them as overmarketed blankets if you will, but when I was staying with my dad and stepmum Deana, I absolutely coveted hers.  She would sit, bundled up in the living room, managing her eBay website on her laptop while my dad watched The History Channel.  She looked enviously comfortable.  Ross had just bought me a netbook, and I imagined I'd be "snuggied up" typing my blogs and short stories, sipping a cup of tea (with milk and sugar, thank you) after I cooked him a delicious meal.  Oh, it would be heavenly!

It was Deana's mother, in fact, who bought me the Snuggie.  I didn't use it right away, as the real chill of winter still lay ahead.  In fact, in the excitement of being a newlywed, I forgot about it entirely until about a month after the wedding.  That weekend, a magnificently huge blizzard crushed the northeastern United States and draped Pittsburgh in mounds and mounds of velvety, pure white snow.  Beautiful.  Breathtaking.  And very, very nippy.

This was around the time when I realized that Ross was a sheet-thief.  He'd unthinkingly rip the covers from me, and I'd be left steadily nudging and whimpering at him until he realized what he'd done and returned a portion of the comforter to my side of the bed.  After several nights of this, I got smart and figured that, if I wrapped myself in the Snuggie before I got under the covers, even if he accidentally pulled them off, I'd still be pretty darn warm.  While this technique worked well for me personally (also helping me to avoid my hubby's ice-cold hands and feet), Ross's hopes of cuddling were dashed nightly.  Apparently, when your wife is tucked tightly into a fleece burrito, romance is very difficult. 

When he learned that I would not be relinquishing my Snuggie in favor of him anytime soon, Ross launched a campaign of hatred against it.  He called it names.  He tried to hide it from me.  He told me it ran away.  He threatened to cut it up into little pieces with his knife.  Then he changed tactics.  He requested to wash it for me, and after he'd dried it as well, he reported in a Marlon Brando-esque murmur that he'd just "wanted to put it through da ringer".

Warmer weather, and not my husband's vows of blanket banishment, is what actually unwrapped me from my fleecy new friend.  Although, I am pretty certain that, unless we're able to have new, draft-free­ windows installed this year, the Snuggie will be again keeping me company on cold winter nights - with or without Ross's consent!

Heck, it's cheaper than Equitable gas, anyway.

Attack of the Centipedes! (Part Two)

We were cuddled up in bed.  I was nearly asleep, the day's events slipping into memory, and my arms wrapped lovingly around my husband.  Then he spoke.

"Honey?  Can I tell you something you don't want to hear?"

Honestly, who wakes their wife up to say something like that?  I was suddenly fully awake, preparing to hear about an outlandishly expensive car he wanted to buy or a job that would require us moving to Idaho.  "What, baby?"

"...when I was downstairs today..."

Only two things happen in the basement: laundry gets done, and centipides roam freely like wild mustangs on the plains of the American midwest.  Vaguely, I hoped he was going to tell me a story about how he shrunk his new Gap khakis.

"I was cleaning the drain...and one of them came up out of it."

I shuddered.

"So I hurried upstairs to get a shoe to smash it with, and I figured it would have been gone by the time I came back."

I shuddered again.

"Um, but it was still there.  It just kept running around in a little circle.  It wasn't trying to hide or anything.  Just running around in a circle.  So I killed it."

I relaxed.

"And then, another one came up out of the drain."

I shuddered again.  This had the makings of a horror movie, but I didn't want it to be happening in my house.

"It was a teeny one, just a baby.  I guess he was looking for big brother.  So I killed it."


"And then, Momma came up, looking for her kids.  So I killed her, too.  Three of them  I killed them all.  Do you want me to clean the drain again tomorrow and see if I can get any more?"

"No, it's ok."  Good God, Ross, it's not like they're ten-point bucks.  You don't get a point for every freaking leg you smash!

He paused for a second.  "It was strange.  That first one was weird.  I mean, they're supposed to like the dark.  They always run and hide when we turn on the lights, right?"

Was I really discussing insect duck-and-cover tecniques with my husband at midnight?  "I guess so.  The ones we've seen usually do."

"This one was messed up, I think.  He just kept running in that circle, like he was panicking."

"Maybe he was hatched with half his legs shorter than the other half.  Maybe that's how he always moved."

Oddly, the thought of a centipede with a birth defect struck us as so ridiculously hysterical that my anxiety disappeared, and I didn't have nightmares about giant bugs that evening.

Last night, around eleven, I went downstairs to get a glass of water from the kitchen.  I flicked on the light and there was one of those monsters, sitting just to the left of the table.  Despite my grogginess, I took exactly one-millionth of a second to identify it.  I don't know that I've ever screamed so loud in my life.  While I was screaming, I was actually consciously wondering why Ross had not flown to my side, shoe in hand, ready to strike down the offending beast.  During the breath I took between screams, I heard him call, "Honey, what's wrong?" but I kept screaming.  Then, as he came downstairs, I burst into tears and I blubbered, "I saw one, I saw one!"  I ran out of the kitchen and hid on the stairwell.  "Honey, take a deep breath," he soothed, "I'll get it."

After a few minutes, I didn't hear the tell-tale thwack of his sandal on the linoleum, so I put on my shoes and tiptoed into the kitchen.  "Where is it?" I whimpered, forcing myself to grab his flashlight and illuminate the dark, crumb-infested corners of the room.  "I can't find it," he said, at the moment my beam of light hit the motionless bug.  "It's another one," I gasped.  Surely that small, quivering thing wasn't the leviathan that had just startled me.  Was it?

"It's the same one," I admitted lamely.  "It's kind of little, I guess."

We yanked the kitchen table out of the way and crept towards it.  It remained perfectly still.  I was surprised.  Those things are super-attuned to vibrations, and, like most "feeler bugs", skitter out of the way when they sense an approach.  But this one was...playing dead?

Ross and I looked at each other and prepared to lunge when the thing make a break for it.  But it never moved.  Finally, frustrated, I shoved the chair it was hiding under.  It twitched lightly, and ambled over to a crumb that was lying near the radiator.  It ambled.  Have you ever seen anything with more than eight legs amble?  It did.  It was as casual as though it were mingling at a cocktail party.

"Is it...eating a Cheerio?" Ross asked.

"Yeah, you eat that.  It's good for your heart, you little freak," I narrated like a crook in a crummy crime novel.  Ross dealt the maiming blow with his shoe, and removed two sets of the centipede's legs.  I smashed the flailing half and I do not lie when I say that I could actually feel it under my flip flop.

There was a moment of silence.

"Did it try to eat the Cheerio?" Ross repeated.

"It's time for bed, honey."

During our study of centipedes in their "natural" habitat, we've learned the following things:
    1. They can survive an eight-foot fall with nothing more than mild disorientation.
    2. Like other wild animals, they are capable of being protective of their young, but their young are idiots.
    3. They can be demobilized by petrified female screams.
    4. Following the current health-food trend, they are making wiser choices involving low-sugar, high-fiber cereals.

I guess we'll arm ourselves with heavy boots and Cheerios from here on out.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sharing the Covers (and Other Newlywed Challenges)

My husband is gentle and kind.  He is thoughtful, insightful and expressive.  He is motivated and has an impressive work ethic.  He dresses well.  He appreciates my cooking and helps to clean up after dinner.  He also likes to vacuum, and he enjoys grocery shopping with me.

He also steals the freakin' sheets. 

This little "quirk" didn't how up until about two months into our marriage.  Just as I was beginning to warm to the idea of sharing a bed with another human being for the rest of my life; just as I was beginning to love snuggling up to his ridiculously overheated body and freezing cold feet, he changed the rules of the game.  It wasn't subtle either.  He didn't employ the "sneak 'n' steal" technique - you know, when you tug the covers your way, inch by inch, over the course of an entire night, and your spouse wakes up to wonder where the comforter went.  No, this was blatant.  This was the "as-soon-as-you-get-comfortable-and-are-drifting-off-to-sleep-I-will-rip-the-covers-from-your-body-and-mercilessly-expose-you-to-the-bitter-cold-drafts-in-the-bedroom" technique.

While I believe that he doesn't do it on purpose, it's one of the things we're going to have to deal with - as adults - in our marriage.  We're learning how to mesh two dramatically different sleep schedules as well.  While we both work day shifts for our jobs, Ross is used to staying up until after midnight, reading or messing around on the computer.  I, on the other hand, like to curl up in bed with a crossword puzzle at ten o'clock, beg Ross to come to bed, and fall asleep by a quarter after.  Ross "rectifies" this by simply nudging me awake for a goodnight kiss, rolling over and falling asleep.  THEN STEALING THE COVERS.

While his cover-stealing treachery was a shock to me, I had a few bombshells of my own to drop.  Apparently, I am obsessed with reading and comparing nutrition labels.  This is a relatively new phenomenon that I didn't even realize until I began cooking for Ross.  Though I taught myself how to cook in college, I wasn't concerned in any way about the quality of the food I was eating.  I was just happy that it didn't always come out of a can or a tray!  A few years ago, when I began to become more conscious of my weight and health, I also grew more aware of what I was actually eating.  Getting the best possible "bang" for my caloric "buck" became a game, an obsession.  I often make my own homemade salsa or pasta sauce so I can slash carbs and salt.  I'm hardly a health food nut, but I am always willing to spend a few cents more to buy a product with more fiber, less sodium, or a lower cholesterol content.   But that means reading those labels and comparing them for everything!  Poor Ross.  He's been the recipient of many merciless lectures about how Ho-Hos will kill him, and how the spicy, sodium-laced deli meats he likes to pile high on white bread will rob his future children of their father.  While I know these things are valid points, I also know I need to back off and let the man make his own choices.  It's hard because both our fathers have diabetes, and high blood pressure runs in our family.  Neither of us are as physically active as we need to be, but how will my nagging going to help encourage him?

It won't any more than his cover-stealing is going to encourage me to kiss him goodnight!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Attack of the Centipedes!

It had been an otherwise pleasant day.  We'd accomplished a good deal of housework and run several errands, and we were both ready to turn in for the night.  I was tidying up the den when I heard him muttering about a "little bugger", then I heard him snarl, "stay still!"  Seeing as how we have no pets and Ross is not one to talk to himself in such unkind language, I immediately assumed the worst.  I called across the hallway and asked my husband what was wrong.

"Uh...nothing honey," came the less-than-confident reply.  "Just...stay in the other room."

My heart sank.  I had a feeling he'd discovered something in the bathroom that had more than two legs.  Despite his protests, I peered into the bathtub.  There it was, the first house centipede of the season, hurtling its little multi-legged way out of the drain in the bathtub.  

"Really?  Already?" I sobbed as he smashed the thing.  It was only a baby - if such a tender term can be used when referring to a juvenile creepy-crawly - but that meant that there were probably others.  Last year, they were everywhere, it seemed.  Several accosted me while I was doing laundry, and now I never go into the basement without shoes on. One was hiding in the kitchen while I was cooking dinner and the bold, stupid thing had the audacity to rush me while I was at the stove.  One even - quite literally - fell headlong from a damaged ceiling tile over the sink while Ross was washing the dishes.  We nicknamed it The Paratrooper and promptly dispatched it.  After I screamed bloody murder, of course.  Now, I rarely curse.  I very rarely use foul language.  But when I see one of these awful things, I find it really, really hard to bite my tongue.  I find myself cursing them, calling them names, shouting absurd epithets and threats at them.  I find myself subconsciously checking each room for their presence, as well as for the presence of anything that can possibly be used as a weapon: a broom, a can of hairspray, a skillet.
It's not that they're particularly dangerous.  In fact, house centipedes are probably among those "pests" that actually eat other, more annoying (but less scary) pests like ants or aphids or something like that.  But who cares how "helpful" the things are?  They're HORRIFYING to look at.  They're not particularly huge bugs, but their eight million long, slender legs make them look much bigger than they really are.  And, of course, having eight million legs, those suckers move FAST.  They move so quickly, and their legs make them look so large, that I've mistaken them for mice on occasion.  
I'd rather have a mouse living in the house.  I'd welcome a mouse.  Do mice eat centipedes?  That would be even better.

The only perk I can see in all of this is that I'm no longer afraid of spiders.  How can eight legs freak me out more than thirty?