Gary's Mom has been pressuring him to do something unspeakable.
She wants him to grow a mullet.
For decades, every time the man has had his hair cut, she mourns. She sighs, "Oh ... You got your hair cut ... again." Then she gushes about how she likes his hair long, and mourns the loss of the neck hairs that swoop up into a little flip behind his ears. I hear mommybloggers cry over the loss of baby ringlets with as much emotion.
A few weeks ago she popped a DVD into the player. "Watch this." she demanded. Gary had to watch an hour of some eighties male gospel trio. At the end he asked, "Mom, why did you want me to watch that?" He was afraid the conversation would turn to religion.
"I just love the way they do their hair. And don't tell me you have to get it cut short for your job: you're retired. Now you take a photo of those boys to your hairdresser and have her give you that haircut!"
"No, Mom! That's a mullet!"
"It's so beautiful."
"It's a curly mullet. I have straight hair. I'd look like McGyver!"
"You could get a perm. You had a perm once."
"In. The. Eighties. Give up! I'm not getting a mullet."
Wilma has lost this round, but the way Gary likes to please ... you never know.
The theme for the week has been "YES I AM YELLING, GARY, WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING MARRIED TO SOMEONE WHO YELLS?"
Any time Gary complains about my yelling or whining or hysteria, I point out that I'm behaving the way he has behaved the last thirty odd years.
Today, we had to drive separate cars to put the Mini in the shop. (Yes, my rage has abated enough to send the sickly car back to the dealer. I even set foot into the dealership and was far more civil than I expected.) Anyway, I went over the edge when I drove behind him and witnessed him putting on his seat belt on the highway and swerving into the next lane while doing it.
I honked, I screamed, I cried, and of course he was in a different car and didn't notice. So, I pulled in front of him and swerved into the next lane myself. It was dumb. It was also effective. He seemed appropriately horrified.
Of course, I watched him drive very sensibly after that. Sixty miles an hour, just like I always do. Or, just like I always did, because I now understand why he wants to rush me on the highway. People get right up on your tail, then whip around you. It's not safe.
I think another contributor to my crankiness is that I've been doing QA at work. Quality assurance puts me in a critical mindset, because that's the point of QA, to find and pick out every nit. It's been hard to leave the criticism at work.
I need more music, more long drives, and I need to be nicer to my husband.
Dierbergs is the second-tier grocery store in this area. Here is the Great Chain Of Being as it Pertains to St. Louis Groceries:
Straubs.The first tier, Straubs, only has one outlet, or only one that the masses know about. I have only been in it once and headed straight to the bathroom. I imagine it has shelves and shelves of La Sueur Peas.
Dierbergs. Gary's store. When Trader Joe's wants to compare prices, they compare their prices to Dierbergs.
Schnucks. My favorite, because it's closest. They have a few "Super Schnucks" which have lobster and the like. (And I'd like to thanks all the stores for dropping the apostrophe from their names, because I just tried to search on the plural apostrophe of Schnuck's. Super Schnuck'ses?)
Shop and Save. I love Shop and Save because it sells my new car-friendly breakfast:
When Gary wanted to justify sitting up front for the next BNL show in Kansas City, he promised that we'd go through Shop and Save before the final swing through Dierbergs for the next three months.
Aldis. I can't shop there. I want to but I can't.
When I heard that there was a particularly fancy Dierbergs, a Super Dierbergs if you will, I knew Gary would want to see it. It's in Des Peres. (If anyone got here by searching for the answer to 111 Down in the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, "___ Peres (suburb of St. Louis)," that's the answer.)
Some of the photos are blurry because I had to take them surreptitiously. Gary was justly horrified that I was some hoosier who came to see the new-fangled store in the Big City of Des Peres (pretend I pronounced the "S"s.)
There are three levels: the parking garage, the store, and the "mezzanine." ' I work with two people who use this store, and they both love the covered parking garage. No mad dashes across the parking lot in the rain.
Dierbergs tried to dress up the garage by painting some art of happy affluent Des Peres families on the walls.
That cart, of course, is a fancy cart with a cupholder.
You can use the elevator to move through the levels ...
... which I imagine some do, but my friends don't because they have a special cart-friendly escalator.
You put your cart in the "cart-a-lator" at the top, and ride down on the human escalator beside it.
I couldn't wait to use the cart-a-lator, so here I am, humiliating Gary by going down the cart-a-lator with my empty cart.
After you get to the store level, you are amazed by how vast it is.
So big it needs a Starbucks.
SO BIG it needs two places to eat: a little cafe on the grocery level ...
... and an actual restaurant on the Mezzanine level.
I didn't go up to the Mezzanine because the was no live music at that moment, and because Gary would have burned to a crisp from embarrassment.
We did actually buy one hundred dollars worth of groceries, which just barely filled up the top of that tiny cart. (It was hard parting with actual groceries on the cart-a-lator. I kept thinking they'd spill over and further humiliate Gary.)
The groceries themselves were mostly standard grocery fare, with an added layer of huge slabs of raw salmon and fancy cheese. They had one boxed item I'd never seen in our Dierbergs: a fast-cooking pasta for busy Des Peres ladies:
And of course they did not have the one thing I was looking for:
All in all, an amazing adventure, and we didn't have to drive ninety minutes to get there.
No freakouts this week! There have been flashes of anger (always directed at Gary) and one time I started to cry, wanted to cry, and had to nurse it. NURSE it into full tears. I find this very encouraging.
I'm getting better and figuring out what triggers it.
As you know, Gary bought me earrings for Christmas, though it's been six years since the visit to Claire's earring boutique to get my ears re-pierced. The visit was successful, but the healing process was so unpleasant I let the holes close up again. Evidently Gary doesn't look closely at my earlobes, and since he knows I still have earrings hanging in my closet, he figured I was just temporarily "off" earrings.
The healing process probably didn't work because I only gave it six weeks. I got tired of all the saline soaking, and fiddling, and rotating the stud, and because I couldn't sleep comfortably with the post gouging me in the neck. Oh, and because I had 0.02 white blood cells: that might be why they didn't heal.
I still have low WBCs, but I'm calling on the neutrophils to step up. That's the reason I decided against Claire's again in favor of a tattoo parlor. I researched tattoo/piercing parlors in my area and the Post Dispatch says the one in Saint Charles is inspected frequently by the local authorities, and again by an outside party, and they have a clean room or something where they autoclave everything.
And my god, was it clean. Clean and airy and professional. And, yes, it hurt more than having it done at Claire's, but I'd rather have a second of pain than the violence of a teenager taking a hole punch to my ear. The first thing I said after the first one was done was "That was nothing. I've done worse to myself." which at the moment seemed cool, but a second later I realized how dark it sounded.
I specifically asked for a hoop so I can sleep on my side, and they gave me something I think I've seen in people's noses.
At the time of this posting I've already swiveled it so it just looks like a hoop. I have no balls.
Gary talked a big game beforehand about getting his own earring, or perhaps getting a tattoo. I believe they will tattoo a dot on your body to see if you can take the pain, and I was so sure Gary would fail that test I was going to help him pick out a tattoo. Sadly, he bailed before he even walked in the door. I thought the cleanliness of the place might at least make him eye the earrings, but no. He says now he'd look like a "poser" if he got an earring.
I like the circular barbell earring, because I am a poser, and for another reason. Claire's says you can't change the earring for six weeks, these people say twice as long. If I have to keep it in for three months, and then no wire earrings for six months, I'll get bored. However, I think they'll let me swap out those little balls.
No pearls, I'm sad to say, but I did find a pair of opals.
Of course, after half a year I can hang anything I want in my ears, and since I'd sworn off earrings I culled my collection down to just those with sentimental value. The pearl earrings Aunt Carleen got me for my wedding, the silver guitars from my niece, navy blue ones from my sister-in-law's wedding, the BNL guitar strings. And about twenty others. Let me look.
======== Moments later
Okay, forget what I said about pearls. I have appalling taste in earrings. There are way too many joke earrings. Fire hydrants in one ear and dogs in the other. I don't see how I missed these:
And, I don't know why I never made my own earrings. Look at my desk. Those Forever stamps could be earrings. That SIM card could be an earring. Those sunflower seed hulls could be earrings. Any dollhouse minature could be earrings.The British coins I use as magnets on my fridge could be earrings.
Well, it's clear what I'll be doing the next three months.
No menopausal freakouts this week. Instead I give you this
... That's as far as I got before Gary commented that I had cooked this pork roast incorrectly! Not done! He did not care that it hit the internal temp and was resting, he claimed he cut into it and he could tell it was not done. This launched outraged screaming, doors slamming, and an interlude of laughter when he said, "NO YOUUU HAVE THE EGO."
So, I cannot even get through a post about my mental stability before losing it.
Gary prides himself on being the maître d'hôtel catering to the wildlife set. Only the best birdseed. Only the finest nuts. No trendy fads like suet.
While Gary's back was out, I took over the daily animal feedings. Gary has now established multiple feedings to make up for lost time, and because it's winter. Every once in a while Gary lets me feed them, but he doesn't like it. "DID YOU MOUND THE NUTS UP IN A CONE SHAPE?" he demands. No, I didn't. They are animals. They don't care about presentation.
I went out to fill up the nut tray and saw a squirrel there. Just standing. Just eating some nuts. Not moving. I got about six feet from him. He didn't move. I threw some nuts at him. He didn't move.
I approached slowly, throwing nuts all the way. He didn't move until I was three feet away, when he ran off.
In the nut tray was a mysterious pile of sunflower seeds with the hulls on. I don't know where they came from. Ours is a classy dining establishment. We use only the hull-free sunflower seeds. I don't know what device they use to get the hulls off the sunflower seeds, but it's only the best for our clientele. The unprocessed seeds really surprised me.
The weird behavior of the squirrel bothered me. At first, I thought: deaf squirrel. Couldn't hear me coming. Then I realized he was so invested in eating he didn't care if he got caught. So here are the possibilities:
The unprocessed seeds were a suggestion. Our demographic is changing. This was the wine bar equivalent of "Do you got Ripple here?" That squirrel went out, got some sunflower hulls, and left them in a tray so we might broaden our menu.
The unprocessed seeds were a tip. I hear that crows will barter and exchange gifts with people; perhaps squirrels do.
The unprocessed seeds were in his cheeks when he chanced by our nut tray and found a better level of food than what was already in his face. He spat them into the tray, and was upscaling when I found him and forced his hand.
I like the last one best. I picture him like an alcoholic father, bringing the bacon home to his family, then passing a liquor store. He stops at the liquor store for a little "me" time, and loses his family's grocery money. Had there been a stuffed toy at our nut tray he would have bought one for his squirrel babies.
I watched the nut tray for five minutes after, and I didn't see him come back. I went out and dug through the new nuts to show him his spit seeds were still there, then I thought, what, are you crazy?
Mystery solved. Gary looked closely at the latest shipment of peanuts, and it appears to have stray unprocessed sunflowers seeds mixed in. "Filler!" Gary cried, indignant. I said I hoped the raccoons weren't going to give us bad reviews on Yelp.
Mom warned me that when you retire, you no longer have any influences to keep you normal. No boss to say,"What is your problem," only loved ones who won't call you on your weird behavior.
That is why I have been struck by a number of off-the-wall things Gary has said recently. Things that evidence a departure from normal society, specifically: the way normal people eat.
For example, the in-laws celebrated a 91st birthday recently, and they were going to serve hot dogs. Gary wanted to bring some fried rice as well. Fried rice. With hot dogs? I questioned this decision.
He said, "What goes better with hot dogs than Chinese food? Nothing! Nothing!"
He held fast to his Chinese food decision until the very last minute. Thankfully, I was able to convince him there wouldn't be time to pick up the order before the party.
That left Gary with a Fried Rice Deficiency, and so early this week he started to assemble the ingredients to make some. "I have white rice, water chestnuts, pork, eggs, green onions, asparagus, and soy sauce."
"Hold up," I said. "Asparagus?"
"Yes. Just the tips. It will be delicious."
"Uhh... It will be fusion, maybe." Like, Irish-Chinese fusion. I was able to talk him out of the asparagus the first night, but then every night he would "freshen" the leftover fried rice by adding a new ingredient. By the last night it was fried rice with pork, water chestnuts, steak, ham, peas, Vidalia onion, and asparagus. Even he noticed it was not great.
After the fried rice I was at the supermarket Thursday and I called to see what he'd like me to pick up. He said, "Get some bananas and chips. There's a debate tonight."
My stomach froze, until I realized he meant, "Get some bananas, because were are out, and on an unrelated note, get some chips we can snack on to make the democratic debate seem more entertaining." For a moment I through I was in for some banana casserole topped with crushed-up potato chips.
We have resumed our weekend road trips. This weekend we went an hour upriver to Clarksville, where the eagles were supposeed to be feeding. However, just in case the eagles wanted to save their calories for tastier fish down south, the Wild Bird Sanctuary brought some celebrity eagles to Clarksville.
When we found we would at least see the captive eagles, and were thus guaranteed success, we headed for Clarksville. On the way we passed a lock and dam on the Mississippi.
I have distinct memories of visiting the locks at Alton when I was a kid. "Ooh, a lock," I said, and Gary immediately took a left toward the river. He knew I'd want to visit it. But, "Why do you like locks so much?" Gary asked.
I said, "They're so cool. They're like steps on the river."
Gary proceeded to explain to me that I was operating under a deep fundamental confusion about locks, that he did not know exactly how locks work but to say they were like steps on the river showed that I had been deceived by whoever had explained locks to me in the past.
Which is why it was so satisfying to see this sign by the lock:
After that victory, the day was a guaranteed success, even though no barges were using the locks at time. We did see about nine Eagles in Clarksville - damnit! Every time I have typed "eagles" in this post, Typepad has capitalized it. I was careful when I told people what I did over the weekend, since "We went to see the Eagles" can have another meaning.