A real prick

We’re in the midst of an economic crisis, and two wars, and there are droughts and disease and famine happening around the globe … and yet, I still am able to get disproportionately annoyed by the little things that go wrong during the course of the day. Here, let me tell you about one such thing—and let me take my damn sweet time getting to the thing itself, because it’s all about the journey, not the destination, am I right?

Wonder Woman had a work commitment this afternoon and evening, so I was home with the kids, who were delightful. Seriously. No, I’m not being sarcastic. It’s actually easier to manage them when I have them to myself, because then my rulings go uncontested, and they know this. When Mommy’s here, she is their go-to person, and any rulings I make in a two-parent situation are fast-tracked through the appellate process, with appeals heard by the Honorable Judge Wonder Woman of the First Parental Circuit, who may or may not know that she’s being played against me, and who, either way, might overturn the lower court’s decision.

But anyway …

After I successfully bathed my two cherubs, my mother came over to spend some time with them, so I decided to do some prep work in hopes of speeding along the bedtime ritual: close the shades, turn down the beds, turn on the electric heaters and fire up the white-noise machines. (Oh, you don’t even know what a production we have going on over here.)

So, first up: Jayna’s room. No problems. I’m in, I’m out, ta-dah.

Next up, Zan’s room, which was dark when I entered it—and, as we all know by now, nary a good thing can come of me being in Zan’s darkened room; I have the scar to prove it.

There is only one light in Zan’s room, and it sits atop the very dresser that ambushed and battered me several weeks back. Under normal conditions, that light must be turned on by activating the switch on the lamp itself. However, occasionally—like this evening, for example—I turn the switch and, “click” … nothing. When it happened tonight, my gaze immediately moved to the spot occupied by the digital clock-radio-CD-player thing that sits adjacent to the lamp, which I couldn’t actually see, because it, too, was not illuminated—which meant that someone had turned off the wall switch. (The wall switch in Zan’s room is wired not to a light, but to the outlet into which the lamp and clock are both plugged, thus necessitating the re-setting of the digital clock whenever the wall switch is clicked off, and I really should just tape the damn wall switch in the “On” position, but that might make my life a little easier, and I am deathly allergic to doing things that might make my life a little easier.)

Which reminds me (if I may go off on a tangent for a moment … shocking though that may be, given the laser-sharp focus I’ve maintained on the original topic thus far):

Yesterday, someone else shut off the wall switch, so, at bedtime last night, I reset Zan’s clock … and because of that, the clock knew exactly when midnight arrived … which is relevant here because, as it turns out, after losing power and then having its power restored, the clock sometimes defaults into the “Alarm: On” position, and the default time at which the alarm is set to demonstrate just how “On” it can be is midnight. I discovered this at 12:23 this morning, when I finally regained consciousness after spending 23 minutes in a semi-dreamlike state wondering why I was hearing the Jonas Brothers … and surely you can understand my confusion, because if I was to dream a soundtrack to the images in my head, I can assure you with great certainty that such a soundtrack would include exactly zero songs by the Jonas Brothers.

But anyway …

So, tonight, the light was out, and the clock was out, which meant I had to turn on the wall switch. This required me to move my hand from the lamp to the wall, and wouldn’t you know it? The path that my hand traveled from the lamp to the wall, which normally is clear, this evening contained an unexpected and, at the time, unknown obstacle that my hand hit and sent tumbling off the back of the dresser… and when it fell, it sounded like I had knocked over a bucket full of BBs.

“Fuck,” I said.

And as I was saying “Fuck,” my mind took a mental inventory of things on the dresser that could have made such a sound, and it settled upon a plant—the plant Zan had asked Wonder Woman to purchase and place in his room, atop his dresser. And the plant in question lived in a miniature terra cotta pot, rooted in soil on top of which had been placed a couple handfuls of tiny pebbles … which would account for the BBs-spilling sound.

Now, cleaning up a toppled plant is enough of a good time as it is, but it becomes a downright joy when the plant in question is this one:


Amazingly, the picture shown above was taken after the recovery operation, and let me just say that picking up a plant like that with one’s bare hand and placing that plant back in its terra cotta pot is an act that requires tremendous concentration, because those long, white, intimidating-looking needles? Those are just for show. The real problem is those little red dots to which those long, white, intimidating-looking needles are anchored. Those red dots are actually little clusters of short, thin, fibrous needles whose greatest joy apparently comes from embedding themselves in a person’s fingers and causing that person a surprising amount of discomfort. I mostly avoided them when returning the cactus to its pot, but subsequently discovered that they are capable of going renegade, and had done just that in large numbers when the cactus fell behind the dresser and came to rest amidst the pebbles. It was while gathering up those pebbles that I experienced the wrath of the untethered little red needles and the challenge of plucking them from my flesh.

Most of the pebbles made it home, but there are still quite a few on the carpet behind the dresser, and woe be unto them for getting mixed up with a bunch of hostile cactus needles, for that union has sealed their fate, and it is a fate that involves getting sucked into a vacuum tomorrow morning. Sorry, pebbles.

(Can you even believe that I just used 1,133 words to say “I knocked over a plant and then cleaned it up”? Like I said, people: It’s about the journey, not the destination.)

In another life, I might have just picked that bitch up with some salad tongs and thrown it in the trash … but it belongs to my 5-year-old son, for whom I would move the moon and stars—which probably would be a lot more difficult than enduring a few cactus-needle piercings … so I suppose I got off easy.

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  1. Posted March 5, 2009 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    OMG my partner just had to turn up the tv because I was laughing too loud….im sorry about the needle type things…but so understand everything you posted about…LOL

  2. Rocky in ND
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    The things we do for our kids! Did you tape the switch to ON???

  3. gail
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    So 1,000+ words to say a very simple thing is what keeps us coming back daily to see what’s new in the life of Dad and the kids. Oh, and btw, you and Wonder Woman need to talk about the court procedures. When my children were young (they are now older than you) if one or the other asked to do something the first question was, “did you ask your [other parent]?” The second was “and he/she said..?” Of course this is unnecessary if one is the sole parent in the home.

  4. Frannie
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    (if I may go off on a tangent for a moment … shocking though that may be, given the laser-sharp focus I’ve maintained on the original topic thus far)

    Oh dear god, you crack me the f**k up.

  5. Mom
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Oooppss! I look forward to reading your blog everymorning; and would find this story to be entertaining if it weren’t for the fact that it was I who shut off the switch when you announced dinner was ready! mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

  6. Shelah
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I am so glad I found your site! It is one of the best ones I have run across so far!! Your way of describing events (mishaps) are unparalleled and keeps me wanting more. I have told a friend who told a friend and so on…but one thing before i go…how is it going with the pahpiece???

  7. Posted March 5, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Ah dear – dontcha love kids I am always cursing when I step on plugs!

    Have linked you on my blog – totally loving the male version of parenthood!

  8. Posted March 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Lol – that made me giggle =)

    Our dog knocked over a cactus just like that once. OH MY GOD, THOSE RED THINGS ARE EVIL. That is all. He also tore a piece of cactus out of the ground once, but we decided that once was enough and just let the thing die lol.

    • Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      ali: Glad you got a good laugh. I aims ta please.

      Rocky in ND: Tell me about it. And, no, of course I didn’t tape the switch on. Stop being so practical and logical; not allowed ’round these parts.

      gail: Glad to hear my penchant for the written equivalent of babbling is serving a higher purpose. And, yeah, we need to work out a system.

      Frannie: Stop. You’re inflating my ego. (Just kidding; don’t stop. I love it.)

      Mom: Yes, I knew you were the culprit, but I figured I’d give you a break and not call you out on the Internet.

      Shelah: Thanks so much for the kind words. I really appreciate it. (And there’ll be some sort of pahpiece update coming soon. πŸ˜‰ )

      Nat: Thanks very much, and I’m glad you’re enjoying my writing.

      Sarah: Glad I elicited a giggle. And, yeah, I’m just about done with the cactus.

  9. Janna
    Posted March 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Just found your blog via a link over at pioneerwoman. Uh oh. Another blog to add to my growing list of must reads! I find your perspective interesting and hilarious.

  10. Posted March 5, 2009 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    OMG – I was cracking up through the whole thing! I absolutely can relate and have “been there and done that”!

    On another note…Have you heard about cactus’ and tarantula’s? Although that particular plant you pictured does not look like the one that houses them, you might want to find out where it was purchased from. Those stores and “craft/vendor” sales all buy them from Mexico or other overseas desert areas and thats where the eggs get laid. Let me know if you want the story…scary!

    For the parenting, we always ask, what did mom/dad say? Now my DH just says, go ask mom…he doesnt even get in the middle now. LOL!

  11. Posted March 6, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I have referred several of my friends to your site, and read them to my mom over the phone, you crack everyone absolutely up!
    I have to say (and I’m not brown-nosing here, or wait, maybe I am) I love your site. I have checked out several blogs, and so far, the only two that can really capture my attention and keep me coming back is PioneerWoman’s and yours.
    Thanks for the laughs, only an awesome writer like yourself, can turn one sentence into 1100 words.

    You might find this guy’s story amusing:
    as long as you can get over the fact that he’s conservative, but I believe you’re an open-minded type of guy, aren’t you? lol

    Anyway, thanks for the laughs, just wish you had more time to feed us, but alas, family must come first… ;o)

  12. Posted March 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Just made my day – although I am sorry you had to go though it. Then again it was such a sacrifice for the benefit of your readers. So glad I stumbled upon your site, great stories!


  13. Posted March 6, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Like Janna, I just found your link over at PW’s blog, and despite the fact you just made me flush scalding coffee out of my nose, you’re my new favorite read. And I know all about those sneaky red satanic needles of death from personal experience.

  14. Carrie
    Posted March 6, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh my stars, talk about life! Your blog cracks my business up.

    “You’re killin me Smalls, you’re killin me!” (anyone remember that movie?)

  15. Posted March 6, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    When I lived in Coastal South Carolina, there were Prickly Pears growing in my yard (looked very similar to your son’s potted friend). Only thing worse than picking one up is STEPPING on one. Not only do the little fibers sting and irritate, but those big spines have barbs that make them hurt coming out! Then, imagine a child’s surprise to discover the purple juice that the fruit contains, and that you can use it to PAINT on everything! My mother loved that one… Cacti are just full of surprises… I hope your son’s is relatively tame… πŸ™‚

  16. Posted March 6, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    My Parents had that exact same light switch in their room and would go crazy whenever someone would accidentally shut it off thus shutting off their alarm clock. They finally taped it UP with black electrical tape!

  17. Cindy
    Posted March 6, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    That so reminds me of when my husband accidentally kicked a cactus (a big one) at a friends house. Sadly, I didn’t help remove the needles because I was laughing too hard πŸ™‚

    I’m not sure how I found you blog (from a comment left on another blog, perhaps, and I just loved your blog name?), but I can understand … no … sympathize with a lot you’ve posted. I have three kids – a girl 4.5, a boy 2.5 and another boy, 8 months.

    Enjoy your weekend …

  18. Posted March 6, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Oh my, you have got to move that cactus away from the alarm clock, before some unsuspecting person whacks the alarm off and whacks that cactus instead. Seriously, dude!

  19. Say What?
    Posted March 7, 2009 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I discovered this at 12:23 this morning, when I finally regained consciousness after spending 23 minutes in a semi-dreamlike state wondering why I was hearing the Jonas Brothers … and surely you can understand my confusion, because if I was to dream a soundtrack to the images in my head, I can assure you with great certainty that such a soundtrack would include exactly zero songs by the Jonas Brothers.

    First time reader, and I will be back!!
    As a person whose 7 year old daughter is “in love” with the Jonas Brothers, I can guarantee you do not want them as part of your life’s soundtrack! Last weekend at my house was a Jonas Brothers/High School Musical fiesta! And I still haven’t recovered.

    That being said. Perhaps building a cage out of chicken wire for the renegade cactus would help.

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