Ignorant and Blithely Oblivious, Part 1

sword of Damocles

It’s going to drop.  Murphy’s Law says so.

It has been said, “ignorance is bliss.”  Perhaps in the short term that’s true.  It’s sort of hard to have fun when one can see the Sword of Damocles hanging over one’s head.

I remember the most miserable vacation I’d ever had.  When I was in seventh grade I had a rather difficult time with math, and I didn’t particularly like the math teacher to boot.  She was one of the teachers that assumed that since I had aptitude for and achieved in every other subject that I should excel in math as well.  Yeah.  Right.

Reportcard1915

In those days you got a report card every six weeks, that your parent/guardian/resident adult had to sign and return to the teacher.  In my family it was worse than that- DAD had to sign it, as his signature is rather ornate and hard to copy.  He always perused my report cards with particular scrutiny before signing them.  Anything less than straight A’s usually got me grounded, and usually the only subject that was difficult for me to get an A in was, of course, math.

That six weeks before Thanksgiving break I’d barely ended up with a C- in math class, as well as the teacher had included a nasty note on the report card that implied that I was a horrible slacker because I didn’t do well in her class.

The signed report cards were due back the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Joy.

Dad wasn’t particularly worried about report cards that Thanksgiving break as he was preoccupied with a long-planned trip to my grandmother’s in St. Louis.  Normally I would be thrilled about getting to see my grandmother (Mom’s Mom) who I only got to see once or twice a year and, if I was lucky, for a week or two in summer, but this was a miserable trip.

 vacationfamily truckster

I’d rather have been stranded with the Griswalds.

I kept wondering when Dad was going to ask about report cards, and/or when my oldest sister would remind him.  She was normally quite anxious to get hers signed.  She usually got mostly A’s and a B now and then.  Dad didn’t usually give her any trouble unless she got below a B in anything.  But even my sadistic oldest sister wasn’t in any real hurry to show off her report card this go-round. I would discover later that she had gotten 3 B’s and a bad conduct comment from the gym teacher, which wasn’t quite normal for her either.   Her conduct usually was bad- no surprise there- but she was generally very good at hiding her sadism from adults.  It was unusual for her to get caught.

My other sister always got crappy grades (Dad usually didn’t get on her if she at least got C’s)- but she had mostly C’s and one D- so she wasn’t in any hurry to have Dad sign her report card either.  None of us had the courage to hit Dad up for signatures until the last minute- mostly because nobody wanted to spend an eight hour road trip (one way) listening to Dad seethe and fume on about how bad our grades were.  I know I didn’t want to be around Dad in close proximity for four days when he’s pissed.  Let him be pissed on Monday when he’s at work and I don’t have to deal with it.

Even so, all I could think about the entire trip was a.) the inevitable browbeating I would get over Mrs. Vitriol’s (not her real name) catty comments, and Dad’s predictable volatility and malaise for the next six weeks. I wouldn’t be going anywhere besides school and the library for a long time.

teacher_behaviornote_sample

Mrs. Vitriol’s note was NOT this nice.

I actually tried to find an example of a “nasty note from school” online, and uncovered nothing more than vapid entreaties to parents that they should encourage Suzie or Jimmy to be his or her “best self” tomorrow or similar tripe.   My note was to the effect of, “Your daughter is lazy and doesn’t care if she achieves in my class or not.”  A little something to make Dad go medieval on my sorry ass.   Which he did- with extreme prejudice.  Nothing got Dad hot faster than having any teacher accuse me of slacking in school, warranted or not.

The sad irony is that math was the only class I ever really did study for.  It just didn’t make sense to me, and still doesn’t once I get beyond what I call “accounting math-” the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division one needs to navigate in daily life.   I can balance a checkbook, I can figure out what kind of mileage I get, and so forth, but that’s about the extent of my mathematical ability.  It was a real struggle for me to get to the point of having that much understanding.  I have about as much aptitude for things mathematical as I do for sports.

I would have had a lot more fun on that trip to my grandmother’s if I hadn’t gotten that report card until after vacation.  In that instance maybe ignorance would have afforded a little bit of bliss.

life easier when stupid

Perhaps, but intellect has its advantages.

The Grateful Dead said, “I may be goin’ to hell in a bucket, baby, but at least I’m enjoyin’ the ride.”  Apparently that’s how the ignorant go through life.

hell in a bucket

Biker Wisdom 101

One thing I can say for that philosophy is it probably cuts down on stress.  After all, most stress comes from worrying about things that never happen anyway.  Unfortunately I find myself taking the Murphy’s Law approach most of the time.  I figure everything’s going to go wrong anyway.

In all seriousness, though, worrying about things that a.) will happen anyway, and b.) I can’t change, really is a waste of time.

On Maudlin Sentiment, Man-Clean, and Dirty Laundry

I don’t know what motivated me to take this pic but I find it interesting.  A couple of years ago I went with Steve-o to tour a technical school in Connecticut (thankfully he ended up in Lima, OH, which is sort of a long story, but the Connecticut foray was an interesting road trip.)  Just outside of Hartford CT, there are small family farms and it really is somewhat picturesque.  I took a pic of the compost pile above because I found it such a contrast- lovely scenery, a beautiful sunrise, and- boom-  a steaming pile of shit.  What an appropriate metaphor for maudlin sentiment.  I am not the type of person who responds well to flowery diatribes and superfluous praise.  In fact, I see right through it.  Cut to the chase and tell me what you want.  I have learned the (easy to me, at least,) lesson that no one butters a piece of bread without intending to take a bite out of it.   Nobody butters me up unless they want something from me.

It’s better to tell it like it is so that people know exactly where you stand.  Of course I don’t think Jerry has washed a dish in his life- which is OK with me- I eat off of those dishes and utensils too,  and I would rather have them clean and in one piece (tremor disorder and wet, soapy, slippery, breakable dishes do not go together well) than to attempt to drive home a point.  Perhaps the general laissez-faire attitude toward caution and cleanliness that is prevalent to the male of the species is the reason why so many mothers fail to train boys to do domestic chores.  I have to admit I didn’t usually press the issue of washing dishes with Steve-o either, not because I was afraid of him breaking dishes, but because I know where his hands have been.  Anyone who can jam his index finger up his nose up to the third joint and pull out a worm-like, amazing green, streamer of snot should not be fingering things I’m going to be eating off.  I know his hygiene has improved in the past few years but still.  No matter how much soap is in that dish water,  the snotty visual remains.

There is such a thing as “man-clean.”  Man-clean is when something is sort of cleaned up, but not very well. 

This toilet is man-clean, because you can actually see some white porcelain here and there, and there is clear water in the bowl.   Before the man “cleaned” it there was no toilet paper, and the bowl was full of used chili dogs and processed Natty Lites.  Putting toilet paper on the roll is a Herculean undertaking for any man, so he’s going to want brownie points for that, even if he used up most of the roll blowing his nose in it.  Flushing deserves even more points, especially if the plunger was involved.  Of course this level of clean is not acceptable to any woman, so when a man would report that he “cleaned” the above bathroom, a woman would don a pair of gloves, grab the Clorox and get to scrubbing.

I think men are allergic to Clorox.

Man-clean as it applies to keeping young children remotely sanitary is especially scary.  “Hosing off the big chunks” is not an acceptable approach to bathing kids, or dogs for that matter.   If it still smells like puke or shit, or it still has snot encrusted on it, you didn’t finish the job.

I got to experience man-clean as it applies to laundry last night.  In a rare and daring stretch of ambition, Jerry decided to put a load of laundry in the washer all by himself last night.  Jerry and his attempts at using any household appliance scares the hell out of me, especially after he caught the microwave on fire several years ago.  Handy hint: if you put popcorn in a 1200 watt microwave on full power for five minutes, the result is FIRE.  Just so you know.

Anyway,  Jerry didn’t make the typical man mistakes with laundry which generally include: washing whitey tighties with red t-shirts (leads to pink undies,) overloading the washer (leads to all kinds of potential fun) or putting too much soap in.  He didn’t do it right though.  He forgot the fabric softener, which you don’t do in beautiful Central Ohio for two very good reasons.  The hard water here is legendary.  Failure to use both liquid fabric softener and a dryer sheet will leave your clothing so incredibly crunchy it will crinkle and crunch and almost stand up by itself when it dries.  This time of year is especially bad because you not only get crunchy clothing, but crunchy clothing with static cling.

I put in a dryer sheet when I put his stuff in the dryer for him, but I am not responsible for his jeans standing up all by themselves.  He’s going to have a very scratchy day.  I buy liquid fabric softener for a reason. 

I hate ironing.  I admit it.  That’s why most of my clothes are knits.  Of course Jerry has a thing for oxford shirts rather than t-shirts or knit shirts, and most of the time (unless you hang dry them or retrieve them from the dryer right away) oxford shirts need to be ironed. 

That reminds me, I need to get his dress clothes to the dry-cleaners before somebody dies.  It’s been over a year since we’ve had to go to a funeral (Grandma’s, sadly enough) and unfortunately odds being what they are, someone’s going to die and then I’ll catch hell for not having his clothes ready for him.  I don’t know why he bothers dressing up to go to the funeral home when these days guys show up in Dale Earnhardt t-shirts and cutoffs.  I know it’s tacky to show up at the funeral home looking like the Grateful Dead, and I am somewhat old school about that- I have black dresses for funerals and other formal occasions- but he’s a dude.  Nobody expects dudes to dress up unless it’s absolutely required any more.