A Little Game Called Doorbell Dodging

I am sitting in my comfy chair, in my fudge stained favorite sweatshirt, hair pulled back in an unkempt knot at the back of my head.  My teeth aren’t brushed, no make-up on, coffee in hand, laptop on lap, Maury about to announce who the father is (I gotta know!).  I stop cold, a spoonful of Captain Crunch lifted to my mouth.  I hear a car, I hear footsteps…I know what is about to happen.  Yet I’m powerless to stop it.

The doorbell rings. Ugh.

I immediately go into Doorbell Dodger mode.  I haven’t moved this fast since I found out there was only one chocolate glazed donut left in the kitchen at work.

First step, shut off the TV (dang it, now I’ll never know who the father is), then dive head first under the coffee table and hold my breath.  I can’t recall if I closed the curtains on the front door, and darn it, I see the visitor doing the “shade the eyes and look through the window” thing; it’s really kind of creepy.   The doorbell rings again, then the mystery person knocks.   Maybe even a cheery “Hello” from the other side of the front door.  Is it my neighbor?  A friend?  Publisher’s Clearing House? Jehovah’s Witness?  The police looking for me after I jaywalked last week? I may never know, because I hear a scuffling of feet before a car door slams and the sound of a car engine fading into the distance.  I tiptoe to the window and gently pull the curtain to the side, not far, just enough to peep through.  Car is gone.  That was a close one, I narrowly escaped. Whew!

Now that the threat of invasion is over, I start to wonder about the identity of the mystery caller.  I open the door and check for packages, letters, any clues at all.  Now the burning question — other than who the father is, obviously, is…who was the random caller?  And why the hell were they at my door? The downside of Doorbell Dodging is that you will be obsessing the rest of the day over who it could have been.

I feel kind of hypocritical.  I post sweet statuses about my door always being open, I’ll always be there, night or day if you need me…but really, those are just statuses I copied and pasted because I was too lazy to think of one of my own.  The reality is, I don’t like unannounced people on my doorstep.  I’d say call me first, but I never answer my phone either.

I have learned to transform into full Ninja when I hear a car in the driveway; I’ll be locked in the basement before you even hit the first step.  When I miss the tires on the gravel, though, I can get caught short and have to hide behind curtains or furniture. I’ve gotten really good at, if I may say so myself.

What is it about a doorbell that turns us into secretive fugitives in our own homes?  The guilt of our actions makes us feel that our visitor has X-Ray vision and can see right into the bathroom, behind the shower curtain, and into your soul.

I don’t mind company if I know it’s coming.  Ok, I don’t despise company if I know that it’s coming a week in advance.  All right, all right; I will tolerate company if they have made a preset appointment a month prior and have stated the exact purpose and length of their stay prior to arriving.

I’d be a little more ashamed of this if I thought I was alone, but I know I’m not.  I am working on a few inventions for my fellow Doorbell Dodgers, if you’d like a sneak peek:

  • I am going to design a cover that turns my car invisible because I feel the car in the driveway is a dead give-away that I am doorbell dodging.
  • I will be inventing a table disguise that can be slipped on at a moment’s notice, transforming myself into a piece of furniture for the duration of the doorbell episode.
  • I have brainstormed the idea of stick-on house numbers that can be slapped over your real numbers, making your visitor think they are at the wrong door. I just can’t figure out how to install the numbers in stealth mode. Slipping my arm out the door long enough to affix the decals – and in full view of the intruder on my welcome mat, seems a bit awkward … not to mention alerting them to my whereabouts.
  • I have crafted suction cups for your hands and feet, so you can scale the wall like a fly and hang on to the ceiling to avoid detection. (this one is my favorite just in case you wanted to know)
  • I have recorded an endless loop of shower noises to be played over a loudspeaker, activated by the push of the doorbell. I have also recorded sneezes and horrible fits of coughing to scare the offender away.  For a small additional charge, you can upgrade to my recording of the barks of St. Bernards, German Shepherds and Great Danes with a voice frantically screaming, “Get back, get back!” in the background.
  • When all else fails, I have created a pair of “pants” that slip on the front only, so it appears you are wearing pants when you answer the door. This is a last resort … a Hail Mary if you will. Just be careful to remain facing your visitor at all times.

Let’s face it, the doorbell can ring at any time; it’s just a matter of when.  Always be alert, and until I can roll out my aforementioned handy-dandy inventions, be prepared:

  • Have a blanket the same color as your couch cushions to throw over you when the doorbell rings
  • Practice your escape route often. Be prepared to hurtle over barking dogs and dodge obstacles in the hallway for a clean escape.
  • Have more than one hiding place in case someone else in the house beat you to the first one.
  • Plan a spot to meet your family in the house after the visitor is gone so you can monitor windows in case he changes his mind.
  • Never let your guard down. Doorbells can ring at all hours of the day and night.  You are never really safe. Practice your stop, drop, and roll crawl across the living room floor on a routine basis.
  • Remember that sometimes a visitor will remain on the step for a minute or two after the last door chime. This is a trap that has caught many unsuccessful doorbell dodgers in the past.
  • Keep a pair of pants by the front door, just in case.

All kidding aside, anyone is welcome to my home, any time.  Just sign up for an appointment, call me in advance, and answer my prescreening questions.

Also, bring a bathing suit and be careful; that moat is full of alligators.

Dueling Radios on the Road

We all do goofy things with our car radios while we drive.  You’re lying if you tell me you’ve never inched up at a traffic light to get better reception during your favorite song.  I might have to call you out again if you claim you don’t turn the radio down while you look for an address.  And I know I’m not the only one who hears a song I love, then immediately searches all the other channels to find it again.

Don’t tell me that if your window is open and you are listening to an embarrassing song, say A-Ha’s Take on Me, while playing the air keyboard on your dashboard, that you don’t punch the button to change the station as soon as you hit a red light.  We all know the stations we can tune to for music while other stations are on commercial breaks, and we have at least one station programmed that we never even listen to, wonder why it’s saved, and still refuse to reprogram it.

We get embarrassed when we sing the wrong words to songs, even when we are alone, and play the “Who sings this, it’s right on the tip of my tongue, dang it” game to the point we may even Google it at the next stop light.

But there is a certain type of person who takes car music to a whole different level.

You are at the stoplight, waiting for it to turn green.  You feel it before you hear it.  Your teeth rattle and your car shakes as he pulls up beside you.  It’s Mr. Bass Man.  That’s bass, like the music, not bass like the fish; he is another post altogether, now, isn’t he?

He is wearing something darker, you think, you can’t really tell because his windows are tinted.  You peer through the tint and see a reflection of sunglasses, which makes no sense because it’s eleven at night. His music is so loud that birds are falling from their nests, dogs are howling in protest, house windows are shattering, and the lady in front of you just ran the stoplight to escape.

Not to be outdone – more importantly, to keep the lyrical insult to music Mr. Bass Man is playing at bay, you crank up your John Denver, but Country Roads is no competition for Mr. Bass Man.  Your head is swimming as you are trying to hear about those roads that will take John home, but John Denver has given up.  You crank your windows up; the bass still winds around you like a boa constrictor and won’t let go.

Mr. Bass Man appears to somehow be talking on a cell phone, his voice raised over his musical offerings.  Far be it from Mr. Bass Man to turn down his radio to have his conversation, he is kind enough that he doesn’t want to deprive you of this real music experience.

Thank you, Mr. Bass Man, for showing me that my tastes in music sucks. Thank you for sharing your obviously superior music with the world.  I appreciate the valuable life lesson I have learned here today.  If I had a clue what the hell you were actually listening to, I might even look it up online and continue this valuable education.

Off he goes, his bass fading into the velvety night.  You sit at the light for a moment more, letting your hearing correct itself, and watch him blow the next stoplight.  Mr. Bass Man has important places to go, and won’t let a pesky thing like traffic laws slow him down.

Thank you, again, Mr. Bass Man, for allowing your musical choices to wash over me, and the six city blocks surrounding us.  I feel all the better for having, if only for a brief moment, a glimpse into your life.

And I feel even better knowing that you are somewhere teaching others the error of their musical choices, and spreading the love.  Because at least you’re not next to me anymore.

What a Pain

I read in some disbelief one woman’s birthing experience, in which she described labor as comparable to having an orgasm.   Here, go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.

Now my first thought was that Brits are a strange lot (though I love them nonetheless! …the accents? *swoon*).  My next thought was that this lady must have had some crazy sex in her day if she could compare giving birth to an orgasm.  My last thought was, hmmm.  I guess you really could compare them, couldn’t you?

Oh, not the pain per se, but rather the descriptive language that so often accompanies such acts. And then, as my mind so often does, my thoughts meandered … in this case, to other situations that could also be misconstrued if one only heard the soundtrack… with no visual to confirm the actual goings-on. Don’t believe me?

Let’s play a game.  Here is a conversation, and you get to pick where it belongs:

Oh God, come on! Let’s go! Just go. Please, for the love of God. Go, go, go. Dammit! You’re stopping there?  No, no… okay.  Yes. Good, good! 

The above conversation was overheard:

  1. In a traffic jam, late for work
  2. Delivering a baby
  3. During sex

You lose, the answer was “D.  All of the above.”

Seriously, no matter which of these three activities you’re doing, chances are, there’s more than a few “Jesus Christs!” being bandied about and quite a bit of cursing, not to mention moans and groans that sound eerily similar.

And really, when you think about it, all three of the above choices are about getting to your destination, aren’t they? Yeah, I’m a little warped, but that’s why you all love me so much.

Meeting Your Freeway Neighbors

I ran into this truck the other day as I was driving.  Ok, not literally, but you know what I mean.  Check out the back doors…smoke, handprints…really unsettling.  I mean, what the hell!? Was there an exorcism going on back there?  I can see it now, the priest, clinging onto a side wall for dear life as the truck careened through traffic – with his Bible upside down, spilling Holy Water all over the back as the demonically challenged victim, restrained in an office chair, kept rolling just out of reach.

 

The truth is, every day we are surrounded by people on the road that we don’t know, will never meet, and never think about again.  What is going on in those cars?  Who are these people?

Let me enlighten you about your fellow drivers.

Bertha Katz:  Bertha is a sweet lady who embellishes her bumper with stickers that she doesn’t fully understand.  She has a PETA sticker next to the one reading, “Beef.  It’s what’s for dinner.”  She is blissfully unaware that the reason she gets rear-ended so many times is that people are trying to read that tiny, peeling one in the left corner that reads “Honk if you…” something.  Damn it, Bertha, we want to know if we should honk!

Hank Hughes:  Hank is driving that gigantic, 1970’s Air Stream in the right lane.  And the left lane.  And a little over into the far left lane as well.  His tags are from a state on the opposite side of the continent.  Just what the hell does he want to come here for anyway?? The RV looks ragged and well used.  He has actually hidden a fortune in slot machine tokens in the yellow polka dotted cushions of the bench seat in the back.  Hank is wearing sunglasses and propping his overly tanned left arm out his open window while singing along to Willie Nelson, his untanned right arm balancing a cup of cold coffee on his lap.

Henry McFadden:  Beware the Henry McFaddens of the highway.  You can spot them a mile away, wearing sporty caps on their grey heads.  He is in the fast lane, doing 25mph with his hazard lights on, cursing all “you young whippersnappers” that tailgate him, horns blaring in frustration before finally passing him in a final barrage of honking.  He thinks that 55 mph is a suggestion, and a gosh-darned dangerous one at that.

Ellen Fitzgerald:  She is the soccer mom in the over-sized, overly priced SUV in front of you.  Until now, you didn’t know that Lamborghini made an SUV. Considering your state has absolutely no mountainous areas whatsoever, and therefore no reason to kick it into 4-wheel drive to overcome treacherous terrain, the purpose of an SUV of this size is unclear.  Not that this SUV would ever see a mountain … or know what mud is. The otherwise pristine vehicle has a back window full of those stick figures…two adult men, three adult women, eight children, seven dogs, five cats, and what appears to be an iguana.  You will never know anything more about her, but you will obsess over who those stick figures represent the rest of the day.

Michael Mitchell:  Ah, Mr. Vanity Plate himself.  You can admire a clever plate when you understand it. “I M Gr8” or “2 GUD 4 U” are some of the classics that make you smile.  But Michael’s tag, proudly proclaiming “Y RST U” is an enigma.  You ponder it for miles, saying it out loud, trying it backwards and forwards, all thoughts of Ellen’s stick figure family gone from your head as the new obsession strikes.  You think you almost have it, the solution is so close!  Little do you know; Michael’s tag means nothing, and he only got it to mess around with his fellow drivers.  Well played, Michael. Well played indeed.

Mandy Smith:  As you drive up next to Mandy, you see her frantically shoving a candy bar into her mouth with the wrapper still on, chasing it with a Red Bull, death metal guitars screaming from inside her car.  You may initially judge Mandy’s unkempt pony tail and stained sweatshirt, but then you see the back seat lined with three car seats and the sullen teenager in the front passenger seat.  As you pass her, you realize that she isn’t listening to death metal at all; those screams are from her three toddlers in the back.  Her eyes are haunted as she shoots you a pleading glance; you give her the universally accepted grim lipped smile of the overwhelmed (and overworked) mother, and head nod as your eyes meet in understanding.

Bill Jones:  Bill’s bumper sticker proudly proclaims that he “brakes for turtles.”  Yay, Bill.  Unfortunately, he also brakes for nonexistent bumps, red cars on the opposite side of the road, commercials on the radio, trees, and just to see if his brakes still work or if he needs to use the gift certificate to the local brake repair shop his friends gave him for his birthday.

Lila Hirsch:  Lila is frantically arguing with her invisible friend.  Both of her hands are off the wheel, at inopportune times, gesticulating wildly to make her point as her car swerves into your lane.  You tell yourself she is probably on Blue Tooth…but can we really be sure?

Johnny Miller:  Johnny picks a car at random, then begins to target it for his own freeway fun.  He tailgates it, passes it, cuts it off, slows down, speeds up, lets it pass again, and so on in a game of cat and mouse with rules that only he knows and which he keeps changing as he goes along.  At some point, he apparently wins his game and will drive up casually next to you, looking over at you in distaste, shaking his head, before speeding off.  You will never understand Johnny’s game, but you feel sort of honored you were chosen to play, and thankful you survived.

Next time you are on the road, look out for these drivers.  Now you know a little more about them, so they are no longer random strangers in a car.  If I missed any, let me know; I’d love to hear who you “met” on the road today!

Derailed: Caught Again

He was smiling as he explained the details of my new phone.  His eyes were bright and clear, his hair something out of a fantasy novel, and teeth whiter than nature had ever intended.  My gaze fixated on his teeth, my mind wandering the way it always does.

“Are they real?  What toothpaste does he use?  What would our kids look like?  What the hell is he saying?  Oh, crap, I have no idea how to upload photos on this phone.  I’ll just smile and nod and look it up on Google later.  Wait, did I just agree to an upgrade!?”

Derailed again.

I have kind of a fascination with beautiful features, and I always notice hair, eyes, and teeth every time I meet someone.  It’s not crazy, folks, it’s the stuff sappy love songs are made of.  No one ever wrote a poem about greasy hair, grey teeth, and dull eyes, although I may take a crack at it later if you’re all interested.

I’ve been known to trip over air when I spot a gorgeous set of chompers, captivating eyes, and long flowing hair.  I’m not picky, it can be a guy, a girl, or a Collie … especially the Collie, if I’m being honest.

I’m not alone, either.  Clear, bright eyes and healthy hair and teeth are the markers of good health, and that’s why we, as humans, are hardwired to notice them.

Unfortunately, I get caught staring frequently. Sometimes, it’s a legitimate stare because I am fascinated by someone’s features.  Other times, however, I get caught staring and I swear, I wasn’t even looking at someone. They just got in the way as my train of thought derailed. Daydreaming and being lost in thought often results in a blank stare, a goofy look on my face, and occasionally, light drooling.  I cannot count how many times (okay, so I can, but for argument’s sake … ) I have had to thwart a flirtation attempt after a daydreaming episode.  What can I say?  I’m an unintentional stalker heartbreaker.

“Hey, there!  I couldn’t help but notice you were staring at me.  I feel the same.  We should hang out sometime.”

“Do you think otters know they are cute?”

“Whaaat?”

“Do chickens feel embarrassed that they can’t fly very well?”

“Ummm…”

And another heart broken by my profound thought process.  Sorry, I can’t help it you just got in the way of my deep brain exercises.

If you think my posts are bizarre at times, you should walk a day in my mind.  I guarantee you’ll be exhausted.

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You

Psychologists tell us that we have three identities: Who we think we are, who we really are, and who we are as other people see us. Sometimes we like the three “Whos,” and sometimes we don’t.  Trying to get to the bottom of these differences in personae has made psychiatrists rich for years. Having three distinct personal realities becomes even more complicated when we realize that everyone else is in the same boat. There’s a big difference between knowing about a person and really knowing that person. Our friends, partners, lovers, colleagues, and families may know that we love clog dancing, breakfast scrapple, the subtle comedy stylings of Andrew Dice Clay, and mud wrestling, but they only know these things because of who we are when we are with them. When you are by yourself, you may be an entirely different person.

Subconsciously, we all turn into someone else to adapt to the needs and demands of others in all of our associations.  In the case of a toxic relationship this becomes even more apparent as we do anything it takes to save the relationship or, in some extreme cases, survive.  We lose all three of our identities; we lose ourselves completely because, simply put, it is easier to be someone else.  When you finally leave the relationship, you can begin to regain your identity, your purpose, and your sense of self.  The partner in this toxic relationship will no longer recognize you, associating the person you became to exist peacefully with him or her as the person you really are, if that makes sense.  Basically, he or she never knew the real you. Oh, they probably did at first, at the beginning of the relationship … before you were forced to morph into an overly accommodating persona simply to retain your sanity. Affronted at your newfound “change” once you’re on your own, this person will in turn pass a false perception of you on to others, making it seem as if who you really are NOW is the fake face while who you WERE in the relationship is the truth.

This can be hurtful – or at the least, annoying – to the one who is now accused of being fake when he or she is simply returning to a sense of normalcy. Normalcy being the key word. The vengeful ex will ridicule your attempts to improve yourself as putting on some sort of show, never realizing that you gave up all of the hobbies and activities that you enjoyed pre-relationship simply to appease him or her.  The only reality about you that they know is the one they have built up in their heads; they don’t know the real you … the happy you.  They see you living your life and tell people, “That’s not at all like her.  Who is she trying to fool?”

With possibly some exceptions, the results of this aggravating situation carry over into any friends that you met while in the toxic relationship.  They have only met the personality that you had morphed into to keep the relationship steady and peaceful.  In turn, you begin to have a bit of shame and self-recrimination as you recall all of the things you did to keep up the false façade.  “What the hell was I thinking?  I hate watching Monday Night Football while doing Jagermeister shots!”  Well, the football part, anyway.

You would think that being with your family would be a release from the expectations of having to morph into someone else, but that’s not true, either, is it?  Although your family thinks they know you better than anyone else, they also have a biased perception, for better or worse.  Think of how often you have to bite your tongue and alter your behavior and views to keep peace during holiday dinners and family get-togethers.

The 21st century has added yet another dynamic in the search for true identities:  Social Media.  If you think you can be yourself online, think again.  How many times have you stopped yourself from posting a status because you are afraid of people’s perception of you changing?  The only opinion your cyber friends can make about you is based on your words as they appear on Facebook or messages through email or text.  Even posting videos, FaceTiming or Skype will not allow you to present the real you; would you appear in a video wearing your favorite flannel pajamas, hair uncombed, or for women, with no make-up on? This gets even more complicated with the advent of online dating.  You are both on your best behavior and acting or reacting in a way you think the other person would appreciate.  For women, especially single moms, you feel as if you are interviewing for the coveted position of “Girlfriend” in a large company.  The other person has created an image of you based not just on the information you present to them, but also their imagination and desires.  No matter how honest or upfront you try to be, eventually some aspect of your personality emerges that doesn’t fit in with the “you” they have imagined.  They feel hurt and betrayed, and rather than accept you at face value, they allow the relationship to end and continue forward in search of the next candidate.  While this happens to women all the time, I’m sure men can relate as well.

I know this has been a long and rambling post, and I hope that I’ve made a little bit of sense. There’s one truth to all of this and that is this: There is only one person qualified to say they know who you really are, and that is YOU. Don’t let someone else make judgments and certainly don’t critique yourself based on someone else’s opinion of you … because they don’t know the whole story of you.  Half the time, if I ask myself who I really am, I have no clue how to answer.  But that’s my right, and no one else’s.