Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bathroom Phobia

“Hi, is this Marilyn in Human Resources?”

“Yes, how may I help you?” the prim voice on the other line asked.

“This is Selma, over in estimating. I have a worker’s comp claim I’d like to report.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Selma. Did you have an accident?”

Despite the confidential nature of her job, Marilyn had the demeanor of a gossipy mother hen. In her 20 years at the manufacturing plant, she had seen it all when it came to reasons for filing a claim - until today.

“Not exactly.”

“Have you been injured?”

“It’s more like severe emotional trauma combined with a sprained ankle.”

“Oh dear! Well, let’s start at the beginning. I’ll have to ask you a number of questions on the claim form. Just answer them the best you can.

“First, what was the date and time of the…”

“Incident”, I supplied helpfully.


“Yesterday. At about 9:15.”

“Was this work related?”

“Well, not technically.”

“Did it happen on work premises?”


“Are you able to return to work?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“You are not able to perform your duties?”

“Oh, no. I can perform my duties just fine. It’s just that the office is too far away for me to go home every time I need to use the restroom.”

“Excuse me?”

"The John, the Head, you know, the Cra-

"Yes, but -

"That’s where the- um- incident happened.”

Marilyn cleared her throat. “I see. Let’s proceed shall we? Question number 5 - What machinery or equipment was involved in the…incident?”

“The toilet.”

“I beg your pardon?” Marilyn choked. I could picture her daily Double Decaf Latte shooting out of her nose.

“Well, indirectly.”

Marilyn hesitated. “I hate to ask this, but were there any witnesses to the incident?”




“Could I have the name of the witness please?”

“We really weren’t on a first name basis. I can describe him though, although- UGGH!” I shuddered, “even thinking about this is freakin’ me out. I think I’m starting to hyperventilate.”

“I understand, and I’m sorry to press, but- maybe just a description then?“

“No, no. I’m fine now. Ok, he was dark, and really, really quick. It all happened so fast. Before I knew what was happening it was over.“

“Oh my God! Selma are you ok? Did he come in from outside?”

“Well, I’m sure he did originally, but he must have been in the bathroom quite some time.”

“That’s horrible!” (I couldn't tell if it was excitement or horror I heard in her voice) "Did you call the police?”

“The police? No, but there are a couple of OTHER agencies I can think of to contact if this happens again. But, unfortunately, I think this type of thing probably happens to women quite often.”

“I know, my dear, but you have to stand up for yourself,” Marilyn was indignant now, “speak out about what happened.”

“I suppose you’re right. It’s just hard right now, the memory is too fresh. I’m sure in time I’ll be able to look back on this and laugh.”

“Laugh? Laugh? Selma, what-“

“Where was I? Oh, yeah. Like I said, he was dark and very fast - about 2” inches long-“

“What did you say?”

“I said he was dark-“

“No, no- I heard that part. Repeat the last part.”

“That he was 2 inches long? I’m just guessing. In fact he could have been much larger- maybe 3 or even 4 inches now that I think about it.”

“Wait,” Marilyn interrupted, “are we talking about an insect?”

“A cockroach, to be exact.”

“But I thought- well - I mean-“


“Never mind.”

I couldn’t understand why Marilyn sounded so peeved. It didn’t happen to HER after all, and if she’d stop interrupting me I could get this over with!

“Selma, I don’t mean to be insensitive here. I mean, I hate cockroaches too- but I’m not seeing how this constitutes a workman’s comp claim.”

A slightly condescending, yet amused tone had crept into Marilyn’s voice, making me want to slap her.

“I’ll try to explain,” I articulated, as though speaking to a 4-year- old. I took a deep breath and plunged in. “I was sitting on the toilet when I reached under the sink and pulled out one of those individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper. You know, the kind that is only loosely wrapped in tissue paper?”

“Yes, I know the kind. Please go on.” I wondered if she had somewhere else she had to be, or whether she was just still testy because probably for the first time in her life she'd been rendered speechless.

“As I was unwrapping it, a HUGE cockroach fell out of the roll and scurried over my knee before plopping onto the floor. I jumped up onto the toilet seat, screaming, with my unmentionables around my ankles - ”

(Muffled sound on the other line.)

“What was that?”

“Nothing, nothing.” Marilyn lied. “Then what happened?”

She could have at least TRIED to hide the naked curiosity in her voice, I thought.

“As I reached for the toilet brush to use as a weapon, my right foot slipped into the bowl…”

“Ewwwwww! You’d at least flushed hadn’t you?” Marilyn gagged.

“Let’s not even go there!”

“So,” I continued, picking up steam now, “I finally unwedged my soggy foot from the toilet, grabbed the brush and chased that sucker around the bathroom, swatting and jabbing at him, for a good 5 minutes. Too bad I flunked fencing in high school.”

I paused, having run out of breath by now.

“Anyway, he finally escaped into a crack. But now you can see why I absolutely can not go back into that bathroom.”

“Did you sprain your ankle when it slipped into the bowl?”

I could tell she was on the edge of her seat, as hungry for every detail as hot buttered popcorn at the Sunday afternoon cinema.

“Nah. Darn undies tripped me up when I ran smack into Bob as I hurried out of the bathroom. You know Bob in accounting, right? Somehow I don’t think he’ll ever be the same.” (Sigh)

(More muffled sounds.)

“Marilyn, are you laughing?”

“No, ah- um, no,” she giggled, “of course not.”

“Could we just get on with my claim now?” I snapped.

“Yes, of course, I’m just going to put you on hold one moment while I collect mysel- I mean, my forms.”

There was no hold music, but in the silence I could picture Marilyn doubled over, wiping runny Tammy-Faye-Baker-thick mascara out of her eyes. She was probably gathering her cronies over to the phone right now.

“Ok, Selma, one last question-“

“I’m not on speaker phone am I?”

“What? No-o. Now where was I? Oh yes. Was anyone else responsible for the incident? I mean,” she giggled, “other than the cock- excuse me, ahem, the cockroach?”

“Yes - the inconsiderate jerk who was in the bathroom before me! (Probably Bubba based on the god-awful, eye-burning vapor he left behind!) HE used the last of the roll and didn’t replace it. That should have been HIS cockroach!"

"Marilyn? Are you there? I can hear you, you know!"

Marilyn caught her breath and cleared her throat.

"Well, you've got a valid point Selma, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to file your claim in the round file."

"Re-ally. Well, then I'm not replacing the toliet brush. And somebody owes me a new pair of shoes!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Slang Gods Have Spoken

The written language is the benchmark of whether a civilization is considered to be intelligent or not. If no written record is left behind, archiologists will label an extinct people as "primitive", or "less developed intellectually".

What are these drawings? Was this an outhouse or a temple? We just don't know. We could compare it to someone 1,000 years from now finding the installation sheet for a piece of my cheap press board furniture (okay, bad example, no one can understand those).

The point is, communication should unite - not divide - us. (Everybody hold hands now. Koombiya.)

Not so fast amigo. Add the generational barrier to the geographical barrier and things get really hairy.

Take slang, as an example. In one fell swoop, slang sets the pre-adult generation apart as being the most modern and popular ("Hip", "Cool", or "In", as my generation would have said). And at the same time, Slang ensures the generation gap will always exist.

But this gap also goes in reverse. Read a 100 year old book and you'll be asking: What the heck does all-overish mean? What about Boodle? Having a brick in your hat? Didoes? Gallnipper? Honey-fuggled? Smile? (Not what you think). Hooter? (Definately not what you think).

And doesn't it really bug you when the author slips in a few lines in a foreign language - but there's no secret decoder ring?

To make matters worse, the human brain can only absorb about 2 decades of slang. I know this to be true because I'm 46 and have been "clueless" for some time now. 50 - 100 years ago I would have been "adrift".

And don't think you can fake it to fit in, either. If you are over 40, the speaking apparatus just can not form the current slang sounds in such a way as to sound anything other than stupid (ask any teenager). It's the law of the Slang Gods.

Don't despair, though. Maybe we can't use the new words, but all we have to do to stay current is use a different tone or inflection on an existing word. Presto-chango - A snotty new slang word is born! Two examples of words that have been around forever but have continued to evolve are: "really" and "seriously".

Really? Started out meaning: "Is that really true? Tell me more." Over the years it progressed to mean: "You're stupid (said sarcastically without a question mark). Now it means: "Not really" (very pronounced question mark, as if what your're hearing is too dumb to believe).

Seriously? (see "Really?")

I find this down-ward spiral of meaning a little disturbing. Plus, it's difficult for us older folks to keep up with all the nuances. My husband is a perfect example. He called me at work and told me he was going to spend his day off cleaning the garage. I thought it made more sense to put up the new blinds, towel bars and light fixtures we had been stock piling over the past year. We seem to be good at shopping, but "not so much" on installing.

My response was "Really?"

Did you hear it? Here - I'll say it again -


I actually said that twice to him - in just that special "tone".

and he completely did not get it. Each time he cheerfully replied, "Yes", and went on to explain his plan.

Now, after the "tone" has been used twice, you have to let it go. If it is not picked up on twice in a row, it expires.

It occured to me that my 49 year old husband must have reached some invisible tone barrier the Slang Gods have imposed. He can't really be held accountable, so I chose to "shut-pan".

What started out for me as "Really?" (not really), became "Really? - as in "Tell me more." (By the way honey, the garage looks great!) Hey, upward slang progression!

If you're my age, and all this seems unfair, don't worry. Some day these "young whipper-snappers" will be old and their speech will be out of date. Slang is the universal humbler.

Okay, here's the secret decoder ring: (Taken from: A 19th Century Slang Dictionary, Compiled and Edited by Craig Hadley)

All-overish - uncomfortable
Boodle - a group of people
Having a brick in your hat - being drunk
Didoes - causing mischief
Gallnipper - a large mosquito
Honey-fuggled - to cheat or fool someone
Smile - a drink, or to take a drink (Hmmm interesting progression. Now we smile after we take a drink)
Hooter - a tiny amount (Kind of opposite of the modern expression of "Would ya take a look at those....?")

And finally, I'll end by doing this:


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Slinky - Your Worm Buddy for Accelerated Weight Lose!

There's got to be a better way to lose weight. How often have we all said "I wish I could just take a pill and get thin"? Hmmm.... that gets me thinking about a news program I saw recently about tape worms as a way to lose weight. If this was promoted by infomercial it might go something like this...

Slinky-Your Worm-Buddy for Accelerated Weight Loss
(Black screen. Voice-Over)
Yes, you too can waste away to nothing right in the comfort of your own home! That’s right no more being taunted with "Fatty, fatty two-by-four, can’t get through the bathroom door!" No more getting out of breath bending over to pick up that tasty morsel that fell out of your 3rd chin!
Don’t like to sweat? No problem!
Hate veggies? We do too!
Like Slinkys? So do we!
Stay tuned to learn about a revolutionary way to take weight off quickly, effortlessly and expensively!

“Hi I’m Barb Buttroski and I’d like to introduce you to my little friend Slinky. No, we’re not talkin’ about the toy. He’s so much better - he’s your real, live, worm-buddy here to help you reach your weight loss goals.
I’m so excited to have with me today the world renounced Dr. Dave.
Dr. Dave, I have here a copy of your latest weight loss book, entitled ‘Slinky - Your Worm-Buddy for Accelerated Weight Loss’. Can you tell our audience about it?
“Hi Barb. Sure. This book has been years in the making and I think it’s my best yet. It’s definitely better than any other weight loss hype out there.
“Dr. Dave, what makes Slinky so special?
“Several things Barb. For one thing, most diet programs advertise totally unrealistic claims. None of us ever end up looking like those hard-bodied babes - even if we do lose weight. My system doesn’t claim you’ll look amazing only to have you feeling frustrated and let down later.
“But Dr. Dave, everyone wants to look good.
“That’s just it Barb. There’s a new standard of beauty that’s sweeping the nation because of my book. Maybe you can't have 6-pack abs and tons of energy - but you can become emaciated.
“You know-wane, pale, frail, limp, anorexic.
“Oh Dr. Dave, that sounds lovely-but don’t tell me we have to starve ourselves!
“On the contrary Barb. Now you can get that sexy malnourished look by eating as much as you want-the more the merrier-as long as
“Oh, boy, I knew there’d be a catch. (winks at audience) As long as we do what?
“As long as you keep your Slinky Buddy with you at all times. (Chuckle, Chuckle) And that won’t be hard to do.
“In my experience, any diet plan is hard to stick to after a while.
“Not to worry. In this case, your diet buddy sticks to you-and won’t let go!
“Wow! Incredible. How is this possible, Dr. Dave?
“It’s really quite simple Barb. You swallow one pill, and then eat as much as you want-for as long as you want!
“How does one tiny pill enable me to eat all I want and not get fatter?
“Thinner, Barb. You’ll get thinner. You see, this isn't an ordinary pill. Your Slinky Worm Buddy starts out very small, encapsulated in a bovine cyst which you swallow. And within 3 months it grows to over three feet long! Nestled nice and snug in your intestines, Slinky gobbles up everything you eat.
(Collective gasp from the audience)
“It’s true! Mine craves peanut-butter-banana sandwiches! I call him Elvis. Barb pats her tummy.
"And Barb, the best part is - he’s always hungry. And it’s YOUR job to feed him. That’s right a guilt-free feeding frenzy!
“I think you’ve shocked some of our audience Dr. Dave. But let’s go to the phones for some Q-and-A.
Ruby in North Carolina-what’s your question?
“Oh Barb! I just love your show! Kisses and hugs to little Bubba. Is he 3 or 4 now? You really should bring him on the show again, he is just sooooooo cute!
"Why thank you Ruby! Did you have a question for Dr. Dave?"
"Oh - yes. Dr. Dave, I just tuned in, but I think I musta heard you wrong. WORM is a an-anach- one of those letter combination thingys that stand for somethin' else, right? Oh, oh - let me guess! Weight Off Right Movement or Was Overweight Recently-
“Thanks for calling Ruby. WORM is just like it sounds. But don't worry-it's not that bad. We’ll take a few more calls and then after the break Barb will give her testimonial!
“Donna in Denver-you’re on the air.
“Yes, Dr. Dave. I hear you repeatedly using the masculine pronouns "he",him", etc. You chauvinistic pig! Isn’t it possible the worms are female?
“Al-righty then-who’s next?
Juan from Miami, what's your question?"
"J-e-s, Dr. Dave would you recommend a tequila chaser with that?"
(Laughs) "Well, personally Juan, I prefer root beer, but to each his own."
"Next caller - Moon Beam from Oceanside, you're on the air with Dr. Dave.
“Yeah. Dude. So - right. I mean, if the worms are eating all the time, where do they take a d-
“I’m afraid that’s all the time we have for calls. Let’s take a break. Operators are standing by to take your order now!

(Voice over)
Operators are standing by now to take your order for the Slinky Two-Part Weight Loss System. If you act within the next 5 minutes, you’ll get your very own ingestible Slinky Tape Worm, along with Dr. Dave’s companion guide - "Slinky - Your Worm-Buddy for Accelerated Weight Loss" to lead you to weight loss success. Your credit card will be billed only 4 installments of 799.99 each!
But wait! That’s not all. For a limited time we’ll throw in Dr. Dave’s Maraschino Cherry-JalapeƱo Blast Enema Cleanse to use when the parasite infestation becomes life threatening! Similar offers have sold elsewhere for thousands more - but we’ll do even better! If you’re on the phone lines now, we’ll slash 2 payments off! So don’t delay. Order your very own "Slinky" today!

“Welcome back everyone. Well Dr. Dave, I’m just so excited. I’m living proof that tape worms really work. Although I have a-ways to go before I get that coveted dark-circles-under-the-eyes, white-lipped, rail-thin-snap-my-bones-like-a-twig look, I’m noticing big changes."
“That’s right Barb. Stand side ways here so the audience can see. Your butt is only half as big as it was a couple months ago.
“Yes, all my friends keep begging me to tell them what I'm doing. But I've kept it a secret until now! You can't truly appreciate it though until you try it. My producer says we can't do a reenactment - but what the heck- it’s my show!
Since we can’t start small and do time-lapse photography, I’ve brought a grown Slinky Buddy Tape Worm to demonstrate. Phil- zoom in on this sucker will ya? Ain't he cute? He's almost as tall as me! Let's get a volunteer from the audience. Anyone? Come on folks-don’t be shy! Yes, honey, you in the front row. Dr. Dave, help her out of her seat. That’s right-ooh she’s a slippery one ain’t she?
(Barb touches her ear piece and frowns) What? But I was just gonna-I know it’s a half hour show!
Well folks it looks like we’ve run out of time. I’d like to thank our special guest Dr. Dave for being with us. But before we go, Dr. Dave, tell our audience what they'll get as a special gift with their order today.
“Just for being in the audience today, when you buy one Slinky Worm Buddy, you’ll get a second one free to infest a loved one!
“Amazing! You’ve done it again Dr. Dave. Give him a hand everybody! You folks at home, don’t forget to call the toll free number on the screen 1-800-555-WORM. Operators are standing by.
Good-bye y’all.

(Voice over- low rapid voice, screams in the background)
Use-only-as-directed-not-approved-by-the-FDA-common-symptoms-include-feeling-of-fullness- increased-appetite-decreased-appetite-abdominal-pain-constipation-diarrhea-vomiting-seizures- dementia-spontaneous-weird-things-shooting-out-of-the-anal-sphincter. Do-not-use-if-you-are-pregnant-as-you-already-have-a-large-parasite.
Whew! I think I'll pass on the whole tape worm thing. On second thought - exercise is looking pretty good right about now!
;-) Selma Blogbeck