Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Much a Day About Nothing

Day Four of Not Leaving the House—It’s not like I planned to be a recluse this weekend, loafing around in various states of disarray, much less to stretch the hermitage that is this house into the week. It just so happened that I didn’t have anywhere else to go, and with the bug still laying siege to the ramparts of our home, currently smiting Kara as I write this, I figured I’d do the right thing and not spread it around the community.

You’re right, I’m not that socially conscious, I just didn’t have anywhere to go.

I was daddy on duty today, playing nursemaid to a little sicklet, who wandered around the house cycling through the highs and lows of illness from sobbing to giddy hilarity. Natalie is much better today, but to play it safe, I was okay with her lounging around on the couch in her nightgown. It is obvious she hasn’t yet learned humility; at one point during the day, she lifted up her nightgown to show me that she wasn’t wearing any underwear.

“I’m not wearing panties,” she explained, “so that my bum can air out.”

“That’s nice honey. Do you want to go put some on please? Please?”

Arms akimbo, leaning forward, emphasizing the important words: “No, daddy, I’m airing out my bum” as in what part of that don't you understand?! It struck me as a most unusual thing to say and I really don’t want to know what she means. Frankly, I’m not checked out on equipment and it isn’t my department, so I’m going to let it go as one of those things a father just isn’t supposed to understand. Later, Kara said it was alright.

Anyway, this morning, given how we spent most of last night, I was happy that I wasn’t feeling completely exhausted. I fell asleep a little past three, watching some documentary about motorcycles that I hardly remember, listening to Matthew wailing, and was soon rousted out of bed by Kara, lethargically ticking off a laundry list of things that are paramount in caring for a pair of sick kids for the day, half of which I didn’t remember and the other half I only agreed to so she would stop talking and I could go back to sleep. It was a bittersweet moment, a rarity that the kids slept in, as I figured both would spring from their beds at any moment and trample whatever slight enjoyment I was getting for sleeping a few minutes past seven. Every squeak of the crib or rustling of the covers amplified through the monitor, cracked an eyelid in the fear that my blue moon luxury had ended. Soon enough, at slightly before eight, Matthew hailed my attention and the day began.

Usually, by nine o’clock, I’m craving a nap, wishing that I didn’t stay up so late researching catamarans and their impact on the baleen whale, or whatever, but today I was bright-eyed all day, so apparently five hours of sleep for me is just the perfect amount.

In the anticipation that Kara was going to spend the evening face down in the toilet (which she currently is), she bought a couple of things at Target to keep the kids occupied and not gazing over her shoulder with such questions as, “Mommy, why are you yelling at the toilet?” and “Can you get me some runny eggs and greasy sausage?” What she bought Matthew was a Fisher-Price Sesame Street-sponsored “Silly Sounds Giggle Remote” in the hopes of keeping him away from ours (so we don’t have to wonder why we are suddenly watching the Nebraska pork futures report from Lincoln only to discover Matty with the remote in his hands and a look of mischief on his face). The downside to having a toy remote that looks remarkably similar to my Sony remote is that when I go to change the channel, nothing happens on the TV and all I can hear is Grover mocking me.

Of course, it came in a box from the store, and besides the fact that the packaging is twice the weight and mass of the toy itself, which would take up less space if I threw away the toy and kept the packaging, the remote was affixed to the back of the box with that 10,000-lbs. tensile strength wire that can only be cut with a blow-torch. The genius behind the design of the toy allows for holes in its back for the wire to pass through and that retaining wire comes in contact with the electrical wires that allow the toy to function. Of course, as with all toys these days, you can play with them in the store, which means that you’ll need to replace the batteries after about three days from bringing it home. So, in the box, out of the Target bag, on the floor of our living room, it worked in perfect order. Kara ripped out the packaging wires from the back of the remote (which is the only way to do it), and it stopped working. Ernie didn’t say, “Hi there.” Bert didn’t wheeze, “Hi everybody.” And Oscar didn’t tell me to “get lost.” Press the buttons and you get deafening silence. All that for just over $10 bucks.

So, I replaced the batteries, and that does nothing to remedy the problem. Instead of getting in my truck and returning it at Target, I dig out my little screwdriver and proceed to take it apart and maybe, with my limited small toy electronic expertise (from the University of Santa’s Workshop), I can find the problem and discover a solution. The second the last screw fell out, everything on the inside of the toy dumped out in a heap on the ottoman, my workbench of choice. Crap. If this all goes back together again, I’ll be the first to be amazed.

Funny enough, I did find the problem and I fixed it. A ground wire tore loose during the wire extraction process, and lacking a soldering iron, I Scotch taped it back together. Mickey Mouse, I know, but it is all I know. Nice, huh? And that only means it will function as long as Matthew doesn’t drop it, which means about fifteen seconds after I put in the last of the 12 screws the designers found necessary to keep this toy together in the case of a nuclear holocaust. “Oh God, we lost New York and the Pentagon… but the Giggle Surprise Silly Sounds Giggle Remote seems to be working fine. Quick, call Mr. Hooper. What? He’s dead? It’s much worse than we could have possibly imagined.”

Now, I’m suffering through the parade of torment that is the sixth season of American Idol, and since there are probably 1500 other blogs starting right at this moment to complain about the very same things, I’ll keep my comments brief. As usual, I’m disgusted by the inflated sense of self-esteem that young people on this show have. Do they listen to themselves sing without the drone of the shower? Why would their friends and family lie to them for so many years, only to be there when they are completely crushed? Some of them know they’re bad, and they want to be bad enough to get themselves on television—and I admire that ambition, even if you have to dress up as Apollo Creed to do it—but it’s those that stand in front of the judges, ring a cat to death with their bare hands and stand back with a look of exalted supremacy, as if to say, “Well, pile on my accolades.” When the truth smacks them in the face, that they couldn’t sing even if it was lip synced, they unleash on the judges as if they don’t know their jobs… c’mon. I think it stems from bad parenting, but that’s me fixing the world again. I should change the channel.

Why won’t this damn remote work? What is it Grover?

Okay, there’s a lemon strudel in the kitchen I’m going to make scarce… so I’ve got to go. Plus, when the almighty bug attaches itself into my lower intestine, I’ll have something worthwhile throwing up; sure’ll taste better than hot dogs.

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