All the Reasons Why You’re Not Giving (or Getting) a BJ Tonight

Perhaps you, like my husband, are wondering why you didn’t get a BJ last night. Or perhaps you’re wondering why you didn’t give a BJ last night.

Oh, what’s that you say? You haven’t been wondering? Instead, you were thinking about what you’ll order for lunch, or what’s happened to Chaz Bono’s career now that Caitlyn Jenner showed up, but now I’ve put this image in your head that’s playing over and over on a loop in your brain like that clip of the gazelle getting taken down by a lion that you clicked on by accident that one time? It took the arrival of a certified letter from the IRS to get those images out of your head, who knows what it will take this time!

Anyway, keeping with the long-standing tradition of revealing uncomfortable details about my sex life here on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please, I’m letting you know I haven’t been meeting my quota in the Blow Job Department.

Slide1

As you can see, we’ve been trending down for a long while and even slipped into negative territory recently as I promised to give a blow job on a couple of occasions ( March 20th, The International Day of Happiness and then again on that night the kids slept over a friend’s house) only to renege at the last minute.

Now, if you’ve been reading Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please for, let’s say, longer than two minutes, you’ve probably already realized that I am not a woman who is averse to putting a penis in my mouth.

So why have I (mostly) stopped?

Georgia Platts, over on Broadblogs, in the post Why Do Women Stop Being Pornstars? offers one explanation. She suggests that it’s the cultural repression of female sexuality that makes us, eventually, (mostly) stop. Platts’s argument begins with the assertion that, because we’ve learned to repress our natural sexual feelings, women need a lot of stimulus in order to become sexually aroused, and this stimulation is easy to find when a relationship is fresh and new and exciting. As a relationship develops, that stimulation is harder to come by so there isn’t enough to overcome the internalized behavior to repress our sexual desire.

In all seriousness here for a moment, I hope I have captured Platts’s argument accurately, and if not, I hope she will weigh in to correct me.

OK, back to my nonsense: I read Platts’s post and I immediately thought, “Oh, this is a bunch of hooey!” I can tell you now, some days later, as I’ve been thinking about nothing but BJs as I’ve struggled to compose this post, that I’ve decided Platts’s explanation makes a lot of sense. Long time readers of this blog know that I’ve written at nauseating length about sexual desire in too many posts, and while I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly expressed my thoughts, I think I’ve just always assumed that there is probably some socio-biological explanation for desire.

Platts’s post got me thinking I may be wrong about that.

Still, I would more readily accept female sexual repression as the explanation for the lack of BJs in my marriage if it weren’t for my own experience (that’s called confirmation bias, people).

  1. My husband shows a corresponding decline–perhaps not as drastic, but it’s there all the same–in the frequency of other romantic activities, including (but not limited to) twiddling, canoodling, mug-wumping and East Yurkanian kissing.
  2. While I’m not discounting the experience of other women,  I never thought sex was dirty or disgusting or horrible and (here I go with another uncomfortable detail about my personal life) I remember having sexual thoughts from a pretty early age (And I do mean early. Let’s say five or six. And I had crushes on some boy or another all through elementary school). I developed this attitude toward sex even though the message I received from my mother was that sex is awful and dirty and disgusting and to be endured by women only because we want babies.

So it’s hard for me to accept that the reason I’m not having much oral lately is due to repressed sexual desire, as I don’t think I’ve ever repressed a sexual desire in my life (behavior is another story). Let me say here that I have absolutely no doubt that’s the reason for many women out there, and I don’t mean to diminish or invalidate or pathologize their experience of their own sexuality just because it isn’t identical to mine. If their sex life is causing them unhappiness, I wish them every tool in the box to correct it to their satisfaction, including working through repressed feelings.

Instead, for me, I have to think that the way I feel about blow jobs today is sort of the way I feel about Major League Lacrosse. Let me explain: last week, when my husband suggested we go see a game (or is it called a match? Hmmm. I don’t think I really care), I responded, “I think I’ll pass.”

This is a lacrosse stick. Yeah, I wasn't sure, either.

I won’t be blowing this, either.

But if he had asked me to suck his cock go to a Major League Lacrosse game back when we were dating, I would have jumped at the chance.

What has happened in the intervening dozen years? Have those feelings that Major League Lacrosse is icky and disgusting and I’d be a dirty whore if I wanted to go see a game match game re-emerged, after being held at bay for a number of years by the initial thrill and excitement of discovering there was, indeed, such a sport as Major League Lacrosse?

Have I sworn off Major League Lacrosse fellatio forever now that I’m in an old, dull relationship?

I hope not. We shall see as my marriage lurches through its second decade.

As this post winds down, I’d be remiss if I didn’t raise this issue: I have to question if establishing a standard of what Ms. Platts calls “pornstar sex” is setting just one more unattainable goal for many women, like squeezing into 24 inch waist jeans and filling out double D bra cups.

Maybe “pornstar sex” shouldn’t be the expectation (aspiration?).

Ok, so I promised to give you the reasons why you’re not giving/getting BJs. How the hell do you expect me to know? All I can tell you is why I’m not giving one tonight.

  • I’m too familiar with my husband’s penis. I already know what it’s like to give my husband a BJ. As a species, I think humans desire novelty, new experiences, and we’re curious. It’s the reason why we’ve ventured into outer space and also the reason why I blew that guy Ryan, freshman year, even though he was kind of a jerk. We needed to know what it was like to walk on the moon and also what it’s like to give a BJ to a jerk, I guess.

    A Sister of the Or Something.

    A Sister of the Or Something.

  • I’m old. Oh, God, it kills me to say it, but I’m old and those sex hormones that seemed like they would rage through my bloodstream forever now need a cane and a walker to get around. Before this is all over and I’m lying cold and dead in the ground, who knows how I’ll feel about blow jobs? I’ve always imagined myself as a surprisingly spry, and incredibly horny, 80-year old but now I may turn into one of those women who decides late in life to join a religious order, the Sisters of the Sexually Inactive (or something).

So there you have it, the latest in my ongoing series of “Posts That Will Get You To Unfollow My Blog.”

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com.

The Tipping Point

A lifetime of eating Chinese food and I still don't know how to use these.

A lifetime of eating Chinese food and I still don’t know how to use these.

I picked up Chinese take-out the other night and after I signed the bottom of the credit card receipt, the cashier paused before taking the slip of paper back from me.

I had left the little dotted line between AMOUNT and TOTAL, the one marked TIP, blank.

She waited long enough to allow my brain to register what she expected.

With the pen, I slashed a line through the TIP and transcribed the dollars and cents from AMOUNT down into the TOTAL.

“When did we start tipping for take-out Chinese?” I asked when I got home with the C7 (beef) and the E4 (hot! spicy!) combinations.

And by “we” I mean Americans, and by “Americans” I mean everyone else in these United States except me, because I’m not tipping for take-out Chinese.

Long ago, I heard that tipping is a uniquely American custom, foreign to, um, foreigners. How long ago? Way back when I spent several miserable months waitressing serving at  Ruby Tuesday, one of several jobs I cobbled together so that I could afford my share of the rent in off-campus housing.

Yeah, I'm gonna spend the whole night playing Final Fantasy IX and forget to pick up Kelly again.

Yeah, I’m gonna spend the whole night playing Final Fantasy IX and forget to pick up Kelly again.

I spent my first night working alongside a more experienced waitress server named Kelly. Five or so years older than me, Kelly had a toddler at home that her mother watched while she worked and dated a string of unreliable men who could not be counted on to pick her up after her shift.

In addition to all that I learned about her personal life that first night, she also shared the wisdom she had accumulated during her years working in the profession I had so recently chosen. A lot of what I heard from Kelly sounded racist, sexist, or ageist, and oftentimes a combination of all three.

“Don’t kill yourself with the foreign tourists,” she said. I wanted to ask her how any tourist, let alone actual Europeans or Canadians or Martians, would ever find themselves in the Ruby Tuesday at the Springfield Mall eating from the Endless Garden Bar. It was my first day, and I was afraid to say anything, so I didn’t ask. “They don’t tip, so don’t knock yourself out.” She smoothed the front of my apron and then tugged at the collar of my shirt in a futile effort to expose just a hint of my (non-existent) bosom. “I guess that’s the best we can do,” she said before urging me out onto the dining room floor alongside her.

Kelly whispered other helpful nuggets of advice as we filled sodas or waited for the bartender to mix drinks, her voice low enough so that nearby patrons could not hear.

  • A Wonderbra would be a good investment for me.
  • Don’t date Nelson, the Guatemalan line cook.
  • White is Right. (This is how Kelly told me to remember to put the salt shaker on the right, and the pepper on the left, when setting a table. I told her that I didn’t think I needed a mnemonic device for that and she shrugged and said, “Suit yourself.”)
  • Old people all think it’s still 1955 and leave their spare change as a tip.
  • Young people will run out on the check, you gotta watch them.
  • Foreigners, women, and black people don’t tip. If you can, try to get the hostess to seat them in someone else’s section.

Mercifully, my tenure at Ruby Tuesday ended when I secured a very sweet gig working as a receptionist at a local non-profit. My new job involved doing next to nothing and getting paid for it, whereas at Ruby Tuesday, I had worked my ass off and got paid $2.83 an hour. I guess there are people who can make a living working in restaurants, and I’ll admit I’m mostly to blame for my failure: I kinda sucked at being a waitress, and I didn’t stick around long enough to get better.

This rather torturous trip through the Work Experience section of my resumé leads us back to the Chinese restaurant where I’m picking up take out.

Am I supposed to tip there? Because it seems that I’m now expected to tip at a lot of places where I don’t remember tipping before.

And I do tip other places, which are sort of like the Chinese take-out place, and still not at all like Ruby Tuesday. There’s the little bagel shop in town where my family walks each Sunday morning, and on our walk, we discuss whether or not this will be the day we’re brave enough to order lox. Our courage falters as soon as we cross over the threshold into the shop. My husband is friends with the owner, Dave, they play basketball together, and Dave works behind the counter with a crew of college-aged kids who keep a plastic deli cup on the counter marked “Gas” or “Pizza”or “Beer.”

I always toss a dollar into that cup.

Bait, when you find yourself out there angling for a tip.

Tip bait.

At the Dunkin Donuts near my office, there’s an oversized coffee mug that hangs out at the front of the counter.  I’ve struck up a sort of friendship with one of the young men who works behind the counter there. It says “Nikhil” on his name tag, but he insists I call him “Nick.” Nick used to sneak a couple of donut holes into my bag until I told him to stop, I didn’t eat them, they just wound up in the trash. I figured this was his way to ensure I’d drop a little something into the tip cup, the Dunkin Donuts  version of Kelly’s advice to refill soda glasses before the customer asked.

I always drop a little something into that oversized coffee mug.

Given the way tipping has spread beyond pizza delivery, and restaurants, and hair salons, I’ve got to think it’s only a matter of time before we’ll all have Tip Lines showing up on our pay stubs.

Gross Pay

Net Pay

Tip Amount 

The New York Times claims there’s a movement afoot at fancy restaurants to end tipping and instead raise the wages of the staff. We’ll see if it catches on. Meanwhile, a New Jersey waitress posted on Facebook a photo of the credit card receipt from a customer who wrote “LOL” on the tip line, the latest in a series of angry servers using social media to shame customers. Initially, I react to that story like I’m the inept waitress I was fifteen years ago, angry at every asshole I had to wait on and clean up after, but the more I think about it, I have to wonder why the server’s anger isn’t directed at a compensation system that makes her rely on the random generosity of strangers rather than fair pay from the business that’s benefitting from her labor.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com.

My Blog Is Relevant. I’m just as surprised as you are.

It’s so rare that any of the content I produce on Do Not Get Sick In the Sink, Please  is relevant or timely or interesting useful, but I woke up this morning to the news that two  (two!) topics I’d blogged about recently were all over the place.

And by “all over the place” I mean trending on Twitter, which is all that matters.

Anyway, the news reports this morning  on the Ashley Madison hack confirm what I only joked about it the post Life is Short. Stay Away From My Husband. Sanctimonious virgins really are behind that data breach. You can’t make this stuff up, people.

ashley-madison-siteAnd for those of you who are wondering if your wife will have a headache tonight, your worries are over (or just about). The FDA approved flibanserin (the so-called female Viagra) yesterday, so I’m sure the future of American women involves us all being so horny all the time we can’t sit still (not that I wasn’t already). I’m ambivalent about the drug, and you can hear me hem and haw and ultimately come to no conclusion at all in Her Eyes Say Yes (It’s Just the Medication Talking).

He's taking boner pills, and she's taken meds that make her think he's attractive.

He’s taking boner pills, and she’s taking meds that make her think he’s attractive.

The photo of the sexually dysfunctioning couple comes from freeimages.comThe Ashley Madison logo comes from AshleyMadison.com.

Twins.

The Neighborhood Improvement Association

Do you ever imagine what your neighbors would say if some horrible and newsworthy tragedy befell you and the local TV station showed up to ask what sort of person you were before the horrible (and newsworthy) tragedy?

Because I’m morbid, I’ve imagined what my own neighbors would say many, many times. I’ve thought (probably too much) about how they would react if I got eaten by a bear, or crushed in my driveway, or cooked in an industrial oven along with 12,000 pounds of canned tuna.

Not even in your worst nightmare could you imagine going like this.

In your worst nightmare you could not imagine a death like this.

It’s just terrible. I can’t believe it. We used to see her running through the neighborhood all the time and she would wave to us. She mostly kept to herself, except for that wave.  But one time, about five years ago, she yelled at my son for playing music too loud because it woke her baby. He joined the Marines and went to Afghanistan since then, but you can ask him yourself, he was never more afraid for his life than he was on that day.

They would have a lot more to say about my husband, who is a cheerful and friendly presence around the neighborhood, chatting in the driveway or giving directions to lost day-trippers. His loss would be felt much more acutely than mine if he were suffocated by an “atomic wedgie” or died in a silo collapse. My husband knows all our neighbors by name, knows their kids, knows their troubles, their joys. Meanwhile, I struggle to remember the name of the woman who has lived behind us for a dozen years. She stopped by to compliment the flowers I’ve got growing in pots all around the porch and while she spoke, I noted the innumerable freckles that ran from the left side of her face all across her nose and then spilled over the other side. I described the freckles to my husband later.

“That’s Stephanie,” my husband said and I know I’ll remember her name just long enough to include it in this post.

Twins.

Twins.

Of course, my husband noticed when our neighbor, the guy who lived in the other side of our twin house here in the Philadelphia suburbs, had stopped rolling his trash bin to the curb each week. Let me stop here to explain to you what a “twin” is, because, unless you’re from around here, you may not know. In other parts of the country it’s a style of house known as a “duplex,” and if you know that term, you have an idea of the sort of house we live in, but not quite. Twins in the Philadelphia area are different from those tracts of duplexes I’m familiar with that clutter the outer boroughs of NYC, squeezing two families into space designed to hold one. Rather, twin houses around here seem to have sprung up organically, chaotically, not due to some plan of a real estate developer to maximize profits. For example, my house is the only twin on the block, each half a mirror image of the other, set down (sprung up?) in the midst of old stone mansions and converted barns in an architecturally diverse area of the historic district of our town.

A twin.

A twin.

Ok, so as I said, my husband was the first to notice that this man who we shared a wall with had not been seen for a while.

“Have you seen Chris?” my husband asked. “He’s the guy who lives next door,” he added, because he thought it necessary.

I hadn’t seen him, but that was not unusual. Like me, Chris mostly kept to himself, perhaps for other reasons than my own. He had been an engineer, but he suffered an injury in a car accident shortly after I’d moved in here, and he no longer worked. While I hadn’t seen him lately, I could still hear his TV through that wall we shared, and his answering machine when it picked up in response to the ringing telephone, and there were almost always lights on in the house when I left in the predawn darkness to run.

“Always on or almost always on?” my husband asked.

I wasn’t sure.

That morning, my husband knocked on Chris’s front door and got no response. “I think I’m going to call the police,” he decided when he came back. “Ask them to do a well-being check.”

What happened next I’m sure will be no surprise: when the police came, they found Chris dead, lying on his living room sofa in front of the television. He’d been there for several days, they said. Possibly as long as two weeks.

Chris’s family, you know the one that relied on the nice guy next door to check on their son/brother/uncle? Yeah, they showed up to take his car (a late-model Volvo), remove the valuables from the house and list it for sale. Real estate flippers bought the house and then sold it to a group of investors. The investors intend to rent the property to the young professionals who are drawn to this town, to this neighborhood, but can’t afford to buy here, at least, not yet.

Yes, I did this.

Yes, I did this.

I guess that’s a pretty smart business plan. My husband and I have often thought about doing something similar as our family outgrew this side of the twin one child (maybe two) ago. Still, here we are, and instead we’ve embarked on a series of modest improvements, some of which I’ve managed to achieve on my own. I’d never done any sort of home projects before, except that one time I painted a bedroom in an apartment, and never considered myself particularly handy, but I’m organized, pay attention to detail and I’ve always been a good student, so I’ve been able to teach myself how to tile a kitchen floor, and stain hardwood, and refinish cabinets. I’ve discovered the satisfaction that comes from physical labor that I had not known before.

Anyway, our neighborhood of homeowners is concerned about the effect a rental property will have on home values. They’re worried about what sort of people a rental will attract, even though the monthly rent is set high enough to make me sputter over my morning cup of coffee when I first hear about it. Regardless of what the rest of the neighborhood thinks, renters are about to move in next door, into a house built in 1870, back before there was a Historic Architectural Review Board that’s now telling me I need their approval before I can replace the window in the living room that’s been leaking in every thunderstorm this summer. The HARB is concerned that I might choose a style of window that detracts from the historical character of the neighborhood, so I have to send them the window specifications, and they have to approve them, before the work can be done. As I fill out the Certificate of Appropriateness Application, I think how un-American, invasive, almost Orwellian it all seems.

Then I think about a post I read last week over on I didn’t have my glasses on  . . . titled Now Comes the Mystery. In a poem, new homeowners wonder what’s become of a missing hatchet, outlined on a pegboard of tools left in the backyard shed. I left a flip comment there.

Here’s hoping that Lizzie Borden wasn’t the previous occupant . . .

And then I think about Chris, the previous occupant of the other side of our twin. And I think about all the previous occupants on our own side, all 145 years of them. Like the guy who left this message on the drywall behind the kitchen backsplash I replaced last year.

For a good time call Pam.

For a good time call Pam.

I wondered if he ever called Pam, and where he’d met her, if they dated for a while and then broke up, or if they got married and live together somewhere in a house in the 212 area code now.

Or maybe Pam was just the drywall saleslady and his supply was running low.

My point is–I guess I do have one–we’re all renters, even those of us who carefully tend the potted pansies we have growing out on the porch, even those of us who will drop dead in front of the TV.

The images of the can of tuna and the twins come from freeimages.comThe other photos are my own.

It’s All About Me

about-meFor a long time, my About consisted of a single sentence:

Karen lives in Philadelphia with a patient husband and a lovesick cat.

It was short, it was snappy, and I felt it revealed enough about me, and left enough to the imagination, to give readers an idea of the voice they might hear if they found their web browser tuned to that particular station that is Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please.

Or perhaps it didn’t reveal anything at all. Which, let me add, would be okay with me, by the way. I learned early on in life to give vague answers about my personal background, to turn conversation away from myself, to make jokes, to deflect, to deter, to focus attention on any other bright shiny object in the room other than, you know, me.

Because back then I believed that if we actually talked about me, you might find out that I grew up in a violent, alcoholic home. You know those news stories where the police spokesperson says, “There is a history of officers responding to reports of domestic disturbances at this address”?

Yeah, well, that’s the sort of house I grew up in.

Anyway, it’s a skill that has served me well to this very day, this ability to focus attention on others. I still have it, even after five years of therapy that made me strong enough to tell the teenager bagging my groceries, the LDS missionary knocking on my front door, and the (possibly rabid) raccoon rooting through my garbage, “You know, my dad was a drunk and my mom was clinically depressed.”

In the work I do now, I spend a lot of time introducing myself. There I am, behind a desk, or behind a cup of coffee, shaking hands and launching into a sort of Reader’s Digest condensed version of my resumé, what I’ve come to think of as my “Professional About”: this is who I am, this is what I do.

And then it’s my turn to be quiet, to listen to their “About.”

Karen lives in Philadelphia with a patient husband and a lovesick cat.

Sometimes, if you listen carefully to another person’s “About”, you can hear all the stuff they’ve left out.

The image in this post comes from the Internet, and it’s been so widely disseminated that I’ve been unable to determine attribution.

images

Blogging: You’re Doing It All Wrong

Blah, blah, blah, blog!

Blah, blah, blah, blog!

Back at the end of July, I had a bright idea: I signed up for the WordPress workshop Blogging 101, a month-long series of assignments designed to introduce brand-spanking-new bloggers to the whats, hows, whys and wherefores of blogging, scheduled to begin August 3rd.

In my mind, I thought I might find some humor as an ancient experienced blogger working my way through daily assignments for creating, writing, and maintaining a blog.

Here’s the first assignment (I know, I know, it’s late. The dog ate my homework, or something):

Day One: Introduce Yourself to the World

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click “New Post,” and tell us why you’re here.

Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post on your blog.

I saw the assignment and thought if a reader wants to know who I am, he/she can click on my About page.

Now, if a reader wants to know why I’m here . . .  Well, that’s more of a mystery.

I started blogging 212 213 posts ago, back in 2010, when I couldn’t find steady work and thought I’d write to keep current on professional issues, but even the very first post on Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Please is only tangentially related to law (and not even American law). By the way, you don’t need to go back and read that first post, it’s absolutely cringe-worthy, but I keep it in the archives because I’m a masochist to maintain historical accuracy.

So despite my intentions, I wound up blogging content that was very different from what I set out to blog.

Fast forward about five years, and it’s August, 2015, and I’m signed up for Blogging 101. One morning, two blog posts show up in my Reader that get me thinking more about this “Why We Blog” issue. The first came from Amiecus Curiae in Writer’s Life Wednesday–Blogging to Build an Author Platform and it’s a response to a post from Dylan Hearn over on Suffolk Scribblings. Dylan’s post shows up in my Reader, as well, as I scroll further down: There Are Easier Ways To Sell Books Than Through Blogging.

If you read both posts, and you also read Do Not Get Sick in the Sink, Pleaseyou’ll probably already have guessed that I’m mostly in agreement with Amie’s perspective on writers who blog in support of their writing careers.

But, and here’s the big but, the way to make this work, to actually build a following is to blog about something other than writing!

I’m reluctant to give writing advice (because, after all, who the fuck am I to give advice to anyone?) but let me share my experience as a reader: the last two novels I’ve bought were because I read op-ed pieces written by the authors on subjects that had absolutely nothing to do with the novels they’d written and that I (eventually) purchased. Ann Patchett wrote a very funny take for the Washington Post on what it’s like to own an independent book store (I bought State of Wonderand Diana Spechler wrote about sexual obsession in the New York Times (I bought Who By Fire).

And I mostly agree with what Dylan’s got to say–at least, I don’t disagree with it.

So why should writers blog?

Because it’s a wonderful opportunity to write something different, to let off steam, to connect with like-minded . . . to find comfort and community, to help others much earlier in the process than yourself and be helped by those further down the line. It’s a way of making new friends, for discovering excellent books and for improving your craft. It’s a place to be yourself, to be someone else or to be the person you’ve always wanted to be.

All good reasons to blog, to be sure. However, I’m not sure if Dylan’s approach is going to support a goal of making money (even just a little bit!) from writing, but I realize that’s not everyone’s goal. And while there are established authors who do not blog, and do not have much of a social media presence, any new author is expected to play the social media game (on FB, on Twitter, on Instagram, and on and on and on). I’m not sure if being all over social media sells books, either (you can read more of my thoughts on this topic in Is Your “Social Media Platform” Killing Your “Brand”?), but if you’re a novelist who’s blogging, you need to find a way to connect with readers, the folks you hope will buy your book(s). That’s my “big but” (heh! That sounded like I said “my big butt”) which is different from Amie’s, as I don’t have a tough time droning on about any number of topics other than writing (see my recent posts on adultery, ants, and, um, summer activities)–yes, blog, but find a way to reach readers of novels.

It would probably be helpful right here if I could tell you the ways to reach those readers, wouldn’t it? I’m sorry, I wish I knew. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t going to be offered the opportunity to write op-eds in the Washington Post or the NY Times anytime soon.

Anyway, if you came here looking for useful advice, you took a wrong turn somewhere.

Ok, so back to Blogging 101 and that question about why I’m here: I guess I’m here ’cause I got nowhere else to go.

Life is Short. Stay Away From My Husband.

There is no time like the present for cheating on your spouse, at least according to AshleyMadison.com.

ashley-madison-site

And life is short, I won’t argue with that, and I’ll wager it’s going to be significantly shorter if your spouse finds out you’ve signed up for a membership on AshleyMadison.com, the internet fucking dating site for cheaters married people.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with married-and-cheating websites, let me explain that there are a whole bunch of them out there, with names like Marital Affair and Illicit Encounters, and still others with names like eHarmony and Match.com (for those who want to cheat on their spouses, but not with other sleazy cheaters).

Anyway, back to AshleyMadison.com. Sanctimonious virgins Hackers broke into the website recently and made off with the personal information of the members, which is sort of like what happened at Home Depot and Target awhile back, only instead of your spouse discovering you’re painting the bathroom some weird shade of green or wearing Sonia Kashuk cosmetics, they just found out you’re trying to have marital relations with someone outside your marital relationship.

As you might imagine, the data breach sent a collective shudder through the internet, as adulterers around the world wondered what the hackers would do with the information. Would they leak all the registered email addresses, alerting the world (and that includes your spouse!) that you’ve been out there doing something you should not have been doing? Would the Ashley Madison hack be a sort of sexed-up version, with sex, of Edward Snowden releasing all those super-secret classified documents?

You can imagine why some folks were concerned. Not me (Are you surprised? Dear Reader, must you have such a low opinion of me?), as my familiarity with AshleyMadison.com comes mostly from that one episode of The Simpsons.

Since I’ve been researching this post, I’ve become more familiar with AshleyMadison.com (btw, remind me to clear my browsing history). The site is full of all sorts of interesting information, if by “interesting” you mean “depressing.” Here’s an infographic I pulled from the site’s Twitter feed, purporting to show the “top cheating neighborhoods” in Philadelphia.

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My neighborhood isn’t on the map, so I guess if I want to cheat, I’ll have to move. If I’m looking for a threesome, I’ll head to Mount Airy (that’s what the image included there, means, right?) and if I’m interested in a spirited game of Chinese Checkers before cheating, I guess University City is the place to be. Animal lovers cheat in Frankford, and I’m not really sure what’s going on in Chestnut Hill, but it’s nice to see that couple spend quality time with their young child, even if they are cheating cheaters.

Still, that chart has to be heartening for the faithfully inclined: there are over six million people living in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and only 50 of them are having affairs, apparently (please don’t argue with my careful interpretation of the highly scientific data that has been meticulously collected by AshleyMadison.com). Let’s see, half of those must be women (again, please don’t argue), so it looks like there are 25 desperate home-wreckers out there who I have to guard against.

I think I’m up for the task, because, as I demonstrated in the post, Tales to Tell, I’ll hiss and claw at your face if you even look at my husband. Bitch, you do not want to go there.

The images in this post come from AshleyMadison.com and are believed to comply with Fair Use standards under U.S. and international copyright law.

Ants.

Ants Marching

Ants.

Ants.

“There’s another one.” I point out the small brown ant crawling across my kitchen counter this warm July day. “And another one.” The first ant is joined by a friend.

My cleaning lady, a young blonde woman from Russia the Ukraine East Yurkania Central Europe with a name that has too many consonants for me to pronounce, nodded her head. “Raid,” she said. She made a hissing sound through her teeth as she pantomimed spraying the kitchen counter top with insecticide.

“Well, no, I don’t think that’s the answer.” I don’t even use weed-killer out in the backyard. As a consequence, we have weeds. I’m okay with that. I’m not okay with six-legged beasties crawling across my kitchen.  “I cook here,” I said and it’s technically not a lie because I did microwave a mug of instant coffee just that morning.

She nodded, but I can see in her eyes that she’s thrown away too many pizza boxes and Chinese take out containers to believe much cooking goes on in my kitchen. You really can’t keep secrets from your cleaning lady because, sooner or later, you’re going to forget and leave your vibrator out on the nightstand.

I moved the toaster from its spot on the counter to reveal a trail of bread crumbs that remain, even though she’s just cleaned the kitchen. A gaggle herd school murder bunch of ants are feasting there. “I think it’s these food crumbs that are attracting them. I think if we”–and by “we” I mean “she”–“remove the food sources, the ants won’t have a reason to come here.”

“Raid,” she repeated, and sprayed the toaster ants with her imaginary can.

“No, no Raid,” I said. I pantomimed wiping the kitchen counter. “I think we need to clean better. Get rid of the crumbs.”

“Okay,” she said before flattening the ants with a paper towel and squirting the counter top with the environment-friendly cleaning spray I bought that costs $7 a bottle. “No crumbs.” She looked at me, and I wonder if she’s wondering if I’m going to call her boss and complain.

“Okay, no crumbs.” I gave her a curt nod before I left the kitchen. I’m not going to call her boss. I’m done talking with her boss.

Now please don’t think I’m a chronic complainer with the cleaning service owner’s number on speed dial, ringing up and demanding refunds because the house didn’t pass my white glove inspection. I’ve only called twice: the first time to ask what happened to Luz, my cleaning lady of three years (who kept my kitchen ant-free, by the way) and the second time to ask why the new cleaning people (It was rare that I would get the same woman two weeks in a row. There seemed to be a group of young blondes who rotated the duty of cleaning my house) had started showing up on Tuesdays instead of Thursdays.

“They probably mixed up the days,” the cleaning service owner told me the second time I called. She has one of those old Pennsylvania Dutch names, which aren’t Dutch at all, they’re German, names like Schmidt and Dietrich and Heinz, and that means her family has probably lived in the area since the first Europeans invaded settled here in the 1600s. “I think there’s another house in your neighborhood that’s on a Tuesday schedule. I’ll make sure they come on Thursdays from now on. Or would you like to switch to Tuesdays?” she asked. “That would make things more efficient.”

No, I told her. I want them to come on inefficient Thursday, just like Luz did.

“Thursday it is, then!” the owner said with forced cheer.

Sausages remind me of housecleaning. And also penis.

Sausages remind me of housecleaning. And also penis.

I need the housecleaners to come on Thursdays because Thursday is the day I make sure I’m out of the house. Scheduling a meeting? Let’s do it on Thursday. Lunch this week? Thursday is the day for lunch. While I want someone else to clean my house, I really don’t want to be there when it happens. I think it’s a little bit like that saying about sausage-making: Everyone loves to eat sausage, but no one wants to see how it’s made. Except for that one vegan friend you have, who’s always trying to convince you to give up meat (or at least eat a salad once in a while). She wants you to see how sausage is made, thinking it will get you to finally join the cause.

But I was at home last Thursday, so I could point out the ants. Now here it is Thursday again, and I’m home because there are still ants. There have been no crumbs on the kitchen counter all week, and yet I’m still finding ants.

I opened the door for the cleaning lady and she looked up in surprise. I’d seen a white minivan pull up outside through the front window, discharging three young blonde women. The two others dispersed down the streets, to other houses to clean. My cleaning lady, the driver of the minivan, pulled into my driveway. She must be their supervisor, I think. Or perhaps it’s just her minivan.

“Hi,” I said and, because it felt awkward, I added,”You know, I’m not sure how to pronounce your name.”

“Lyudmyla,” she said.

“Lood-mee-la,” I repeated carefully. I’m reminded of my grandmother’s name, Genoveffa, and how my kids can’t pronounce it, and how they make fun of my grandfather’s name, Annibale, because they have a playmate named Annabelle. My grandparents are dead now; they died a good long while before my kids were born. “We still have ants, Lood-mee-la.”

She nodded. To her, this news is not unexpected.

“I’m not sure what else we can do,” I said. I started to tell her that I’m ready to give up and call an exterminator who will come out to spray chemicals that will ultimately leach into the water supply and cause freakish mutations in the offspring of my offspring, like maybe a useless flipper sprouting out of their foreheads.

She held up a finger to stop me from speaking as I’m flapping my hand on my forehead in front of her. “I have an idea,” she said.

She marched into the kitchen.

I followed. She spritzed the kitchen counter tops with the pricey green cleaning solution, drowning disoriented ants along the way, and wiped their little corpses into the trash. Then she opened a cabinet, the one that’s full of jars of spices left over from the days when I didn’t work so much, and filled my time experimenting with recipes I found on the internet. I set a chicken pot pie on fire once, trying to brown the crust underneath the broiler, but I also learned how to make a chicken piccata so delicious you’ll want to marry me, regardless of your sexual orientation.

“Here,” she said, finally. She turned to show me a jar of cinnamon. “We put on the counters,” she said. She made a gesture suggesting she would sprinkle cinnamon all across the kitchen. “Leave for one week.” She held up a single finger again. “Okay?”

I nodded. Why not?

Cinnamon: ant kryptonite.

Cinnamon: ant kryptonite.

The next morning, my husband said, “Wow, this cinnamon really works. I haven’t seen one ant today.”

He’s playing golf this morning so he’s in the kitchen putting on sun block. He’s Irish and gets sunburnt on partly cloudy days. I’m half-Italian but I don’t look it; instead, I take after my northern European father, with his fair skin and hair and blue eyes. Truthfully, I look more out of place sitting down to eat a big bowl of spaghetti than I would look tumbling out of Lyudmyla’s minivan.

Curiously enough, my husband’s Irish forebears came to the United States via Argentina. They had emigrated there in the 1850s, escaping the potato famine like so many others. There’s still lots of Irish left down there (according to Wikipedia, Argentina is home to the world’s fifth largest Irish community in the world) but, for whatever reason, my husband’s family left that part of the world for New York City around the turn of the last century. My mother’s parents (remember Genoveffa and Annibale?) escaped from post war Europe, settling in New Haven in the 1950s, joining relatives already living there.

More days pass, and it’s Thursday and there are still no ants. The morning television news is on as I’m getting ready for work and getting the kids ready for day camp. The announcer says that Donald Trump called the Mexicans rapists and murderers, swarming over the southern border. Some of the Republican candidates repudiate him; others don’t.

I’m leaving a note for Lyudmyla, telling her the cinnamon worked, and leaving her a twenty-dollar bill. I wish I knew how to say “Thank you” in Russian, or Ukrainian, or whatever language she spoke in her native land.

“Say ‘muchas gracias,’ Mommy,” my younger daughter suggested. Her older sister will be in middle school this fall, studying Spanish as her foreign language, and the three of us have been working through Easy Spanish Reader this summer, reading about the adventures of Maria and Enrique, dos estudiantes muy inteligentes.

“You can’t say that!” Her sister is appalled. “That’s Spanish! She doesn’t speak Spanish!”

“So?”

“Quiet,” I said to put an end to the bickering. I scribbled, “The cinnamon worked! No ants!!!” and “Thanks, Lyudmyla!” and draw a smiley face on a yellow Post It note that I stuck to the $20 bill. I left the bill on the dining room table and headed for the door. “Vámanos,” I said to the girls, shooing them out the door ahead of me.

I backed out of the driveway and  turned down the street, making my escape just as the white minivan appeared in my rearview mirror, pulling up to the curb in front of my house.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at freeimages.com.

Summer's here and the time is right for rubbing a popsicle on my nipples.

My Summer Sex Challenge

Over on Her Life Inspired, Simone Jones Tyner is calling on her readers to take part in the “Summer Sex Challenge” and I’m considering it, mostly because it’s July, just about everyone is on vacation, I’m wearing sandals to work, the temperature hovers near 90 degrees every day, and I’m wondering if I could get away with serving the kids ice cream for dinner twice in one week.

A challenge could be just what I need to add a little structure to my summer, so that when September rolls around, I can look back and say that I accomplished sex something in the Summer of 2015.

If you read the fine print, or at least read Ms. Jones Tyner’s explanation in the comments on the post, “Why You Should Take the Summer Sex Challenge,” you’ll see another reason why the event appeals to me.

Other than attempting to have as much sex with your partner as you can, there are no rules to this challenge.

rulesSo there are No Rules, sort of like eating at Outback Steakhouse, and, also like eating at Outback Steakhouse, I’m hoping they’ll be low expectations. I imagine expectations can’t be too high in my relationship, anyway, as I’ve been married for a dozen years now, and there are only so many positions into which the human body can configure itself, not to mention the limited number of orifices. I’ve been married so long that introducing a new technique is just as likely to be met with guarded suspicion as delighted surprise.

“Where did you learn to do that?” my husband will ask, but he really doesn’t want to know. I’m not sure if the real answer (that I saw it on the internet in an East Yurkanian porno clip) will be less unsettling than the one he imagines (that I learned it from a real, live East Yurkanian).

The Summer Sex Challenge, as you might imagine, piqued my husband’s interest, at least, at first.

“Wait a second. It’s not like that ALS Ice Bucket Challenge fundraiser, is it?” he asked. “We’re not going to have to ask our friends to donate money every time we have sex, are we?”

Summer's here and the time is right for rubbing a popsicle on my nipples.

Summer’s here and the time is right for rubbing a popsicle on my nipples.

“No, but it’s interesting to see where your mind goes. I’m all for a little ice play.”

He’s a former altar boy and still a nerd so he thinks I’m talking about ice hockeyI consider (just for a moment) having sex on a Zamboni but reject the idea, as we’re both pretty klutzy and someone will get hurt, maybe the Montreal Canadiens.

“So what do we have to do?” he asked. “Other than, you know, the obvious.”

“That’s it,” I answered, and show him Simone Jones Tyner’s blog. “Just have sex as much as we can.” I read the comment again. “With a partner. So I guess whacking off doesn’t count.”

“With a partner? Or with your partner?”

See? I told you he’s suspicious. I guess I’ve been talking a little too much about the college guys working summer jobs in my office.

Your partner. Your husband or your wife. Boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever.” He demands further clarification from me. “With you, with you.” I said. “I’d be having sex with you.”

“But don’t we do that already?” he asked. Now he’s looking askance at Simone Jones Tyner’s blog. “It’s not much of a challenge to do something we’re already doing. It’s like taking a Breathing Challenge, or a Sleeping Challenge.”

“I think it has to do with the quantity,” I explained. “It would be like breathing or sleeping a whole lot.” He’s not convinced. “Or like eating a whole bunch of hot dogs,” I said, recalling the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. This year’s winner, Matt “MegaToad” Stonie beat Joey “Jaws” Chestnut by eating 62 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes on the Fourth of July.

“Do we have to sign up?” he asked

“No,” I said. “And we don’t get t-shirts, either, if that’s your next question.”

He turned quiet, but now he’s got me questioning the Summer of 2015 Sex Challenge.

“You know,” I said after a moment, “now that I think about it, there’s not much to this challenge. There’s no rules, no assignments, no t-shirts. It isn’t very challenging for something that’s called a challenge. There should be rules, and assignments, and t-shirts.”

Yes, there should be. Good luck!

2015 SUMMER SEX CHALLENGE RULES

  1. In order to qualify, all sexual events must occur in temperatures above ninety degrees with no air conditioning. Box or window fans, as well as attendants misting cool water from spray bottles, are permitted.
  2. Participants must wait for the starting pistol shot before commencing the sexual event.
  3. When a sexual event takes place out of doors, participants are required to wear sun block SPF 45 or higher, and sunglasses or a sun visor.
  4. Condiments Condoms Both condiments and condoms will be provided if desired.
  5. Participants who vomit within five minutes after a sexual event will be disqualified.

2015 SUMMER SEX CHALLENGE ASSIGNMENTS

  1. Chug blue raspberry Slurpees while having sex in or behind a Seven Eleven.
  2. With your partner, create a sexual tableau using a bowl of potato salad, an ear of buttered corn, a plastic sand bucket, and two sparklers (lit). Have sex within ten feet of your display, incorporating the lit sparklers into your love-making.
  3. Find an unlocked RV in the parking lot of a Walmart while the owners of the vehicle are away replenishing supplies for their cross country vacation. Have sex in the driver’s seat.
  4. Cover your partner in chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker crumbs before having sex.
  5. Decide to visit a historic landmark or point of interest in some far away corner of your home state. Fight with your partner all the way there because he/she refuses to stop at rest areas or refuses to listen to your advice on directions, or both. Have very angry, very hot sex when you pull over to the side of the road after getting hopelessly lost.

And here are some graphics for that t-shirt I know you’re dying to wear.

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Royalty free stock photos, including some of the images in this post, can be found at freeimages.com. I created that crappy slideshow in Powerpoint myself.

We Really Are Living in the Future

There are some days that I wake up and pinch myself, wondering if I’m dreaming, or if I’m living as a character in a science fiction novel set in the year 2525.

Maybe I should start paying for the images I use on this blog. This is what I got on the freebie site when I searched

Maybe I should start paying for the images I use on this blog. This is what I got on the freebie site when I searched “The Future.”

I guess it all started way back in 2008, when a black guy got elected President. That’s when I first got the feeling that I was living in the future. And then again, a few years later, when Colorado decriminalized weed. I checked the calendar, and it was 2012, not 2212. And now, just the other day, in the 21st century, not the 23rd century, when the  Supreme Court decided that same-sex marriage is A-OK in the USA.

“Did you ever think you would live to see <insert astounding new event here>?” I find myself asking friends and family, as well as random strangers who have the misfortune of standing next to me on the commuter train platform when I’m feeling chatty.

The other day, I asked that same question when a package delivered from Amazon arrived on my doorstep.

“You sure get a lot of packages, Karen,” the mail carrier, Ruth, said as she handed the small box to me. She’s right. We do get a lot of packages, enough so that I’m on a first name basis with a United States postal worker.

While we do get a lot of packages, I had not ordered anything from Amazon recently, or at least, not that I could recall. There have been times when mysterious deliveries come to my door and only after opening the container do I remember that oh, yes, I did order Hot Buns™ 2 Piece Set for Light Hair back when I thought wearing my hair twisted in a tight knot at the back of my head would give me the appearance of seriousness and sophistication I was looking for, instead of just a screaming migraine.

I shook the box the mail carrier gave me, to see if its rattle would give away its secret. The contents shifted inscrutably. I decided it must be something my husband had ordered, although it arrived addressed to me, and left it there on the entryway table for him.

When my husband came home that evening, he denied ordering anything from Amazon. The entire family gathered around the mystery box.

Is it a bomb or just birthday greetings from Great Aunt Ethel-Anne?

Is it a bomb or just birthday greetings from Great Aunt Ethel-Anne?

“Maybe it’s a mistake,” I said, though, in my head, I’m thinking “bomb” not “mistake.” I don’t say it out loud so as not to frighten the children. Don’t be ridiculous, the sane voice in my head said. Who would want to mail bomb us? The insane voice in my head answered, No one ever thinks they’re going to get mail bombed. That’s what makes it so diabolical: the surprise factor.

“Maybe it’s a present,” the six year old said. Her birthday is in three weeks, although the event has been top of mind for her for going on six months now.

“Only one way to find out,” my husband said. He took hold of the box and ripped off the packaging tape. “Look, it’s that thing you ordered!”

While I’m relieved it’s not a bomb, I can’t remember any “thing” I ordered. I peered into the box and remembered. “Oh, yeah, that thing.”

That thing.

That thing.

“That thing” is the Amazon Echo, the voice-activated electronic personal assistant. I’d received an invitation about a year ago, asking me if I wanted to be part of the exclusive few to be offered the opportunity to pre-order the Echo at an introductory price of $99, and it would ship as soon as it was available.

I forwarded the email to my husband. “Would we have any use for this thing?” I asked him.

My husband, who has never seen a gadget he could not find a use for, replied, “Oh, yeah! Let’s get that thing!”

So here it was, that thing, arriving on our doorstep so many months later, after we’d forgotten that we ever even wanted it. It sits in our living room, listening for its “wake word” (“Alexa!”), ready to spring to life at our command.

“Alexa! Weather forecast.”

“Currently, it’s sixty degrees with showers. You can expect more of the same today, with a high of 76 and a low of 58.”

“Alexa! To Do list.”

“What would you like me to add to your To Do list?”

The Echo comes with an associated smartphone application, and the items I’ve added by voice to a list show up on my phone in text. It’s actually pretty neat, though Alexa’s interpretation of what I’ve said can be hit or miss. Here’s what she thought I wanted at the grocery store.

IMG_0468

I don’t remember what I said that Alexa heard as “Boppy,” but all that seafood I’m buying? That’s supposed to be Fancy Feast cat food. I’m thinking the cats at our house have somehow figured out a way to get Alexa to hear “Fresh Lobster and Shrimp” when I say “Grilled Liver in Gravy.”

And some of Alexa’s interpretations are downright prescient. After an early morning battle between Panic at the Disco (the musical request of my twelve-year-old daughter) and the soundtrack to Teen Beach 2 (the preference of her six-year-old sister), I shouted

“Alexa! Play morning music.”

For a moment, I feared the Echo would hear “mourning” instead of “morning” and fill the house with funeral dirges. Instead, Alexa responded

“You are listening to the Classical Hangover playlist.”

The soothing strains of Pachelbel’s Canon in D came through the speakers and I thought, artificial intelligence is really freaking brilliant.

Of course, there are detractors. Some folks are wary of  technology sitting in our homes, listening, listening, listening to our every  hiccup and fart move. I came across this comment on a review of the product over on CNET.

I collect and analyze consumer data from AC Nielsen and customer loyalty cards for a living. I’m not a tin foil hat wearer, but this product straight up scares me. The only reason Amazon made this was to squeeze more money from Prime users, thats it. Now it can start collecting trends based on age, race, location, time of day, etc and correlate that to other Echo users across the country. Guaranteed, Amazon will apply all this information towards better marketing to you. Leave it in your bedroom, and it will learn when you go to sleep and wake up, how well you sleep, when you have sex, if you watch TV in bed, etc. It has the ability to learn all of your friends and family, where they live, and anything you say out loud in your home. Amazon’s ultimate wet dream would be the ability to collect your thoughts, but we aren’t there yet. 

I showed the piece to my husband and asked, “Do you really think Amazon will be able to track how often we have sex? I’m thinking they just know how often I buy cherry-flavored lube, which is not the same thing.”

On that note, Dear Reader, I’ll leave you with the information that the Echo is now available to purchase without an invitation for the much less attractive price of $179.99, if you’ve got any money left over after you buy cherry-flavored lube.

Royalty free stock photos, including some of the images in this post, can be found at freeimages.com. The photo of the Echo is taken from the Amazon website, and is believed to be used under the doctrine of Fair Use and does not violate US or International copyright law. The screenshot of my shopping list is from my phone.