Mattress Selection Could Determine Your Future Spouse

True story. My dad is twelve years older than his little sister. He was a good brother when she was little; always there for her. Like the time some villain pushed her into the bushes and he came running from the opposite direction to rescue her and wipe away her tears. He thoroughly enjoyed the hero worship he received and told her that one day he would marry a princess.

When he brought my mom home to meet the family, my Aunt was skeptical about whether this stranger was actually a princess. So, she did what any logical preteen would do, she placed a pea under her mattress.

The next morning my aunt, who had been kicked out of her room for the guest, inquired  how the alleged princess slept. Thinking to flatter the little girl that her bed provided the finest night’s sleep, my future mother replied, “I slept wonderful.”

My aunt, now in her seventies is aware, not only that my mom was not a pedigree princess, but that her brother was both the hero AND the villain in the bush/push fiasco. However, these things no longer keep her up at night. Why? Because she has a new mattress. But a new mattress isn’t the key to a great night’s sleep, it’s having the right mattress. That’s where I come in, as mattress consigliere.Mattress background with humorous mattress slogans

When I buy something big, say over $12, I do a lot of research. And I insist on trying out products to be sure they meet expectations.

When we bought a hot tub, we put on our swimsuits and took a dip right in the showroom tubs. (They let you do that, but they prefer you don’t bring your cooler of beer.)

When we bought a gas grill, we cooked up some hamburgers and hot dogs. They weren’t happy when we didn’t buy the grill, but those burgers were raw on the inside!

And, when we needed a new mattress, we put on our PJs and headed to the nearest mattress store. (BTW, they don’t let you sleep there overnight, so a long nap is about all you can get away with.)

There are three things you want to consider when buying a mattress.
1. Coils or foam: a/k/a slinkys or stinkys;
2. Firm or Soft – Remember the three bears: You want the one that’s just right and doesn’t have some stranger sleeping in it; and
3. Jump-ability.

Coils are great for sleeping, but can rust over time if you are a bed wetter. Permaform on the other hand makes jumping impossible and they use chemicals that are non-deadly but toxic. (Is that an oxymoron?) If you are a competitive pillow fighter, you definitely want to get the permafoam pillows as they are like a soft brick and will knock out the competition.

Which ever mattress you choose, princess beware, they are likely to mask the presence of the pea, even to the most sensitive of sleepers.


Pathological Liars Are Bad Investments

I use to know this guy that was a pathological liar. Most people tend to exaggerate things from time to time to make themselves look smarter, cooler, wealthier or thinner, than they truly are. And, there’s the pessimist who exaggerates their woes to elicit empathy. But pathological liars are a whole different breed of fabricators.

If someone said they found a twenty dollar bill on the ground, he found a two hundred dollar bill. If someone saw the World Series live, he was in the dugout advising the coach. If someone had a three legged dog that could climb trees, he had a no legged dog that could water ski.

There didn’t even have to be someone to compete with, he’d just start one-upping himself. One day I was sitting outside a Starbucks with three friends when we saw Aaron and, before I could stop him, my friend Ben, waved him over.

“Hey Aaron, how you doing?” Ben hollered to him.

Without even warming up, Aaron dove right in to his fake story like a rabid cable news anchorman.

“Going to meet a guy about an investment.” he said.

Investment? Doesn’t that require money? I wondered silently to myself, and which he promptly answered.

“Got an inheritance from a rich aunt.” he said. (I guess “rich uncle” would have been too obvious a choice.) “I’m gonna sink it into something big.”

“What kind of investment?” Gwen asked, unaware she was feeding his compulsion to lie.

“Aw, it’s big. I mean BIG. Mammoth. Can’t talk about it. Non-disclosure thing, you know.”

“Hey, has anyone seen the mammoth exhibit-” I began, trying to change the subject.

“You gotta promise not to tell a soul.” Aaron said drawing focus back to himself. Without waiting for encouragement he continued in a false whisper. “This company is going to be big. Everyone is going to want a piece of it.”

There’s something about our culture right now that causes people to believe stuff they know isn’t true. Although they should have known him well enough to know it wasn’t real, they still had to know what “it” was.

“Is it technology? Pharmaceutical? Energy?” Ben asked.

“Entertainment? Agriculture? Automotive?” Gwen queried.

Aaron continued to shake his head. A gleam in his eye and a small smile turning up the ends of his deceptive mouth.

“Shoes? Vapor rub? Hair plugs?” the waitress chimed in, as if we were playing charades.

“Let’s just say there’s nothing like it on earth.” he said. Presumably offering a clue.

“Space travel?” Ben whispered in awe.

Aaron let the brief silence speak for itself. They smiled at each euphorically, like children that had just been told they had inherited super powers.

“Isn’t Tesla working on space travel for consumers?” I chimed in, trying to defuse the illusion and give him a safe out.

“Can we get in on it?” Gwen pleaded, unaware I had said anything.

Ben, Shelley and Gwen, and now the waitress, nodded eagerly hoping he would acquiesce to the request. It was hopeless, they had all drunk the cool-aid and were oblivious to the fact that Aaron had never said anything true in his life.

I wanted to shout at them “Aaron lies about how much poop a bird dropped on his windshield. He can’t tell the truth, in the most trivial of situations!” but I knew it was useless. They continued to plead and flatter, while he continued to embellish his connection to the universe.

I couldn’t stand it any more. Suddenly I went listless and closed my eyes, dropping my head to the side just long enough for them to notice.

“Shay?” Gwen said hesitantly.

Suddenly I bolted up right. “How long was I gone?”

“Wh-what?” Shelley stammered, looking confused.

“I just disapparated into the future.” I said then looked Aaron right in the eye. “I’m going to be nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay I started last month.” I leaned towards him without blinking and got to my feet. “And Aaron, you go to prison for perjury! You better be careful of the things you say.” Gathering my things to leave, I paused to deliver one last line. “I better go work on that script if I expect to win an Academy Award in 2020.”

I’m not saying I would have won an Academy Award, but it was a near perfect performance. Except for nearly being hit by a car during my dramatic exit. I do hope, however, that it helped Aaron to see the error of his ways. My friends, on the other hand, now think I am the delusional one.

Smart Alecs and Slow Learners

                                   “Better to be silent and thought wise,                                                     than to speak and remove all doubt.”                               Ancient Proverb

I like people to think I’m smarter than I am. Maybe that’s why I like meeting new people. New people don’t know I’m not smart – yet. See, I don’t always get things in real time. Sometimes it takes a few seconds or minutes. Sometimes it’s weeks later when I’m sitting in church and, WHAM! I involuntarily blurt out “I got it!” Then everyone starts praising Jesus for my salvation.

Some people are quick. They think quick, they speak quick; they just seem to understand the laws of nature and rules of society. These are the people that end up going into politics because they are ahead of our thinking and lead the way to a better future for all. Unfortunately, they often become corrupt along the way and end up leading the whole society into a big mess. Tsk, tsk.

But some people are more slow to speak. They take time to carefully consider things more thoughtfully before responding. I’d like to be in this category.  But sadly I’m usually in the third category: the quick to speak and slow to think. Like the time I suggested we take a group of older pre-schoolers upstairs to play checkers with the seniors visiting from a nearby nursing home.

I underestimated the competitiveness of the “greatest generation” as well as the resourcefulness of the half pints.

“It’s your move, pip sqeak.” an old man said to the little boy.

I cringed as I watched the boy study the board, realizing the old man’s next move would take half of his checkers.

“Stop calling me Annie.” a little girl whined running from an old woman chasing her with her walker.

Eyeing a couple of older gentlemen who were playing cards, Robbie, a precocious five year old asked “How much you money do you have?”

“Now Robbie, that’s gambling and we don’t do that.” I gently explained.

“What if I don’t cheat?” he asked sincerely.

It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about spending time together without kicking each other.

Before I could answer, I realized the old man at the checker board had fallen asleep. Alec, I think was his name, politely coughed, waking the man. Sure the man was now watching the board, Alec picked up a black checker piece and jumped it around the board clearing all of the red pieces. He smiled so angelically the old man abandoned any thought of questioning how he had suddenly won the game.

And so it went for two hours. Kids playing for money, seniors playing for candy. Kids running from old people, old people running from children. Me, trying to keep the kids from hitting each other. Seniors trying to get kids to hit seniors they didn’t like.

I don’t know who enjoyed it more, or if any of them enjoyed it at all. When I asked the kids the next day if they would want to play with the seniors again, the general consensus was “No.”

“Why not, I asked?”

“Old people are worse than grown ups.” said Alec.

“Ah ha!” I exclaimed, having a sudden revelation and scaring the children and teacher.

“Thank you, Mrs. Shay” the teachers said stepping between me and the kids. “By the way, we won’t be needing your help anymore.  We have enough volunteers for the rest of the year.”

“I figure it out!” I said unfazed, my voice rising over the hubbub of little voices.

“You’re frightening the children.” she whispered to me, gently pushing me out the door.

“He turned the board around!” I explained. “Don’t you see? He waited for the old man to fall asleep and he turned the board around!”

“Okay. Bye, bye.” she said with one last shove and closed the door.

Looking through the glass I saw the confused faces of all the little pre-schoolers. All, that is, except for one. Alec stood to the side smirking! I suppose I could have gone to the authorities, but I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I just hope having gotten away with cheating one time, he doesn’t turn to a life of crime. Or politics.

Fitness Challenged

I tagged along on a business trip with my husband recently and ended up at a quaint lodge with walking trails that offered guided hikes.

“You should go.” my husband said enthusiastically. “Get out of the room and get moving.”

He’s like that. If we pass a lake, he’s like, “let’s go swim it.” A mountain, “Let’s go climb it.” Me, I’m more like, “There’s a hammock, let’s take a nap.” But, to make him happy I decided to go.

My first clue this was no stroll through the garden was the various stretching poses everyone was engaged in, not to mention the exercise paraphernalia. They had expensive sneakers, dri-fit work out clothes, Fitbits, weights, even water bottles.

“Alright everyone, we’ve got about another minute then we’ll head out.” the hotel guide advised.

Feeling uncomfortable about just standing there, I tried to look like I was stretching. Left foot in, left foot out, left foot in, shake it all about. While I’m doing this, I’m sizing up the group to see who’s likely to be a slow walker.

I stretched my way over to a heavy set woman in her early forties. “You here by yourself?” I asked trying to strike up a conversation.

“I’m straight she says.” quickly moving away from me.

“No. I didn’t mean…” I started futilely.

“You’re not going to wear those sandals are you?” a little old woman wearing a spandex outfit and Nike’s that reached half way up her calves, asked me.

“Oh, I, uh, no.” I stammered. Rather than expose my lack of athleticism to her, I lied. “TSA, they, uh, they lost my luggage. What are ya gonna do, right?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant.

“TSA doesn’t take luggage.” she stated flatly.

“Yeah, uh, the luggage belt thing… x-ray, poof, it just, wham, all my workout, uh, sneakers, just gone.”

She frowned at me like I was a lunatic. Then quickly scanning me from head to toe, she seemed to nod in agreement with herself.

“You don’t exercise much. Do you?” she scolded, sounding like my high school gym teacher.

Feeling a bit defensive, I responded “I don’t really need to. I’ve never had a problem with my weight.”

“I bet you don’t weigh nothing.” she began. But before I could feel flattered by her words she continued snidely “You got no muscle. Fat doesn’t weigh as much as muscle, you know.” she said poking my carefully concealed belly fat. “Why you’re just like the Pillsbury dough boy.”

Thoroughly insulted, I determined that I was not going to walk with her. Leave her to bring up the rear by herself. My smug sentiment was quickly replaced by panic when the guide hollered “Move out!” and everyone suddenly began to run.

Was there a snake? An active shooter? Why were we running? I wondered, zig zagging across the path, knocking into people and cactus in the process. As the runners pulled ahead of me, I could hear something gaining on me. Fearfully I snuck a glance over my shoulder expecting to see a wolf or bear. But it was a three legged dog cheerfully lumber past me with remarkable speed.

The old woman was nowhere in sight. I guess I had bolted faster than I thought. Had I not been reeling from the pain of my chafing sandals and cactus needles sticking out of my knee, I might have felt bad about leaving her so far behind. As it was I just wanted to get this over with. Due to my lack of preparation, need for water, and unaccustomed to the sea level elevation, I made the loop in what seemed like hours. Because it was. Four hours, according to the bellman who advised the rest of the group had been back for three hours including the “old woman” who, turns out is a famous marathon runner.

The self loathing didn’t hit me until passing through the dining room that evening when I caught a glimpse of people celebrating the marathon runner’s ninetieth birthday. Rather than allow myself to slip into depression, I came up with a plan of action. After all, I am married to a man who’s all about taking action.

I have since bought expensive sneakers, spandex work-out clothing and learned proper stretching exercises. Someday I hope to be motivated enough to actually work out and turn this cookie dough belly into a hardened fruit cake. Probably next week. Or maybe next month. But definitely before I turn ninety. We all need goals.

Flying Port-a-Potty

flying port-a-pottiesI get to travel quite a bit with my husband and it’s always an adventure. Sometimes the adventure is the destination. And sometimes it’s the journey. Like using the bathroom on the flight. It’s amazing enough that a big hunk of metal can fly with 200 plus people inside it, but to put six port-a-potties on it too, that’s impressive.

Not impressive is the size, which make a bathroom in an RV seem roomie. Which is why I normally hold out for the airport bathrooms rather than the flying port-a-potties. That is until recently when I was rushing from the plane to the ladies room and tossed over my shoulder to my husband “Wait right here for me.”

Too late, I realized the man behind me was not my husband but a stranger that was giving me the thumbs up.  Rather than going back to explain, I gave a woman $40 for her hat hoping to sneak past him.  It might have worked too, but with my head down I ran smack right into him.  Panicking, I grabbed a hold of the nearest stranger, forcefully dragging them past him as I crooned “There you are darling.” in a British accent.

By sheer coincidence I had latched onto my husband, who was flattered that a mysterious foreign woman was trying to seduce him.

Flying solo opens up other problems with flying, such as sitting next to a complainer.

“We’re packed in here like sardines.” whined the woman next to me.

Which, of course, isn’t true.  If we were, we would all be laying down spooning each other, which would be much more comfortable.

“Air! I need air!” she hollered, opening all the air vents above our heads so we could breath the jet fuel and dehydrate our eyeballs at the same time.

“It’ll get better once we’re airborne.” I said, trying to reassure her. “I fly quite a bit. You’ll be fine.”

She look at me like a stuffed animal that could suddenly speak: Shocked that I could talk and not sure whether to be intrigued or throw me to the floor and stomp on me.

“If you fly all the time, you know people don’t like to be bothered by chatty strangers.” she snapped.

The awkwardness was short lived as the flight attendant came into view.

“Stewardess. Excuse me! Stewardess! I can’t sit here. My tukhus doesn’t fit in this high chair size seat.”

Without dropping his greeter smile, the male flight attendant responded  “I believe we have a few extra seats in Expanded Comfort.” Which is code for wide load.  “It’s just a $25 upgrade.”

“Twenty-five dollars! That’s ridiculous.” she said with a frown then looked at me. “You go. Then we’ll both have more room.”

I really don’t like to lie, but sometimes in the heat of the moment things just come out of my mouth.

“Actually” I began cheerfully. “I wanted to talk with you about an amazing new line of beauty products I’m selling.  Are you familiar with pyramid marketing?”

She bolted for the wide load seats and I got to enjoy that extra room she mentioned.  It was a pretty sweet flight.  I even took a $200 order for beauty products from the lady behind me that overheard our earlier conversation.  Which began my short lived career as a pyramid marketeer. But that’s another story.

Repair your air conditioner before someone gets hurt.

A/C art by Bob Comeans
Drawing by Bob Comeans

Summers in Georgia are punctuated with such high humidity you could literally drown from taking a deep breath.  Sometimes there’s so much water in the air people wear raincoats just to walk to their neighbor’s house – when it’s not raining!  In fact, did you know, that if you kill someone during peak heat and humidity in Georgia and can prove that your air conditioner was broken at the time of the crime, it’s knocked down to a misdemeanor? At least that’s what my friend’s daughter’s boyfriend’s older brother said. He’s a web designer for a legal advice website, so I think he would know.  When the air conditioner broke in my house, I had to choose between committing murder and getting it fixed.

In case you don’t know, I’m the kind of person that likes to research products before I buy.  (At least high dollar appliances like air conditioners, dishwashers and escalators.)  It didn’t take me long to determine that, based on the age of the system, the size of my house and the fact that it was blowing hot air, I needed to have it fixed.
It’s always a good idea to let the A/C servicemen know you have some knowledge of HVAC systems, so they don’t try to take advantage of you.

“It’s blowing hot air.” I explained when the technician arrived. “I notice when I set it on sixty-eight, it blows hot air but when I put it on eighty-six it’s not as hot.”

He must have been surprised at my knowledge of the physics involved, as it took him several seconds to catch up to my advanced assessment.

“It could be a freon leak.” he offered lamely.

“I doubt that.” I said confidently, since I had checked every vent and hadn’t seen leaking around any of them. “It’s the thermomastat.” I explained. “It thinks it’s sixty-eight when it’s eighty-six.”

“I’ll just have a look at the outside unit and we’ll go from there.” he said, like the other technicians before him.

After getting six estimates, my husband insisted we follow the advice of all the technicians and replace the old system.

Again, you want to do your research to be sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck.  The first company that came back, well, the only one that came back, suggested replacing with the same size system.  But I knew what that meant, it was only going to last ten or fifteen years and then we would have to replace it again.

“We want the six thousand watt unit.” I proclaimed.

“You mean six tons?” he asked.

“Yes, six ton watts.”

“Six tons is way too big for your house, lady.  It’ll sound like a freight train blowing through here.” he said.

I knew he was just trying to get me to buy the smaller one because they’re easier to install and they make more money on them.

“Look, if a 2.5 ton is $6,500 and a 3 ton is $7,200, the more expensive one is actually less expensive.”

He tried to pretend he didn’t know what I was saying, but I stood firm in my decision.

“And, we want the matching six ton furnace that comes with it.” I told him before he could try to down sell me on that one too.

“Furnaces are measured in B-T-Us.” he said ,trying to intimidate me with more technical jargon.

“Look, I want the six hundred thousand ton a/c with a matching furnace butt, or I’m going to kill someone!” I demanded.

Well, as you can imagine that was all that needed to be said.  He was on the phone getting his guys right on it “loco loco.”

True, it’s a little louder than the older unit, but at least it cools the entire house to exactly sixty-eight degrees every six disclaimer

Heed the Feed

Some people drive me crazy.  Most people drive me crazy, but that’s not my point. I’m specifically referring to people that ask for advice and then don’t take it.  They refuse to heed the feed. They are constantly screwing up their lives and can’t seem to figure out how it happens. These are smart human beings, for the most part, yet they are clueless when it comes to certain things they are doing that are causing them problems.

That’s when you have to sit them down, duct tape their mouth and give them some tough love. Give them good advice to help get them out of their pathetic helpless state and into a less annoying, positive contributing, member of society.  Because, right now, their contribution to humanity smells like a gas station toilet that needs to be flushed.

So, how do you do it? Honesty. You don’t have to be mean, although some situations may require it, but you do have to be honest. You have to give constructive feedback on the things they are doing that are keeping them in misery. Not to mention making you miserable. You can’t fix them, only advise and hope they heed the feed.  

If they’re smart, they will heed the feed and implement the feedback they are given.  But, if they are like most people, they won’t. They will come back over and over with the same complaints, the same struggles, the same face that you want to smack. So, when you can’t take it any more, just start texting them #heedthefeed, over and over, until they get the point, or at least stop talking to you.
Oh, and if you start getting that text,  YOU are the one that needs to heed the feed.

Shrek and Reciprocity

“Thank you gentlemen. Some day I will repay you. Unless, of course I can’t find you, or if I forget.”

I love the scene in Shrek 2 when Shrek has turned into a handsome man in an effort to fit into Fiona’s world.  Because he is no longer a big ogre, his clothes hang loosely on him. He, therefore,  robs a passing carriage and takes the man’s clothes.  As he rides off, he hollers back the famous line of vague gratitude and an empty promise.

While, very amusing in the movie, it might not be so amusing when we become the one carelessly taken advantage of by a friend, family member or acquaintance.  Have you ever loaned something to someone and they never returned it or mentioned it again?  Maybe they’re thinking, “Well, she has plenty, she doesn’t need it back.” Or “He doesn’t use that, so I don’t need to return it.”  These are assumptions we shouldn’t make.  If we borrow something or ask a favor, we need an understanding of what is expected: will this be returned, replaced or is it a gift.  Pausing to be sure everyone is on the same page could probably have saved many families a feud over the years.

And, what about  when we are the one’s that have taken advantage of someone else?  I think we tend to do this more to family because we think, “Hey, they’re family, they should share/give/do for us without expecting repayment.”  And maybe that’s true in some families, but no one wants to be taken for granted.  And, it goes both ways.  Are we willing to give, share or do, for our family and friends without expectations of repayment?  Do we do things to help and support one another simply out of love and kindness, or does there have to be something in it for us?

It’s always easier to remember when we have been intentionally used, or simply taken for granted, but are we aware of our own lack of reciprocity?

Sometimes it doesn’t take more than a heartfelt “thank you.”  Other times it requires returning the favor, and certainly returning something that we may have borrowed.

If ever I’m in need,  I hope I am seen as someone that can be counted on to appreciate a favor, to return things borrowed and reciprocate in kind.  If I have neglected to be that way, I’m sorry.  I couldn’t find you, or I forgot…