A day at the Dentist

“Your blood pressure is elevated,” the snooty dental hygienist accused.

“You think?” I’m not a fan of snootiness. “Why do you need my BP to examine my teeth anyway? Are you going to stop a heart attack with an emergency tooth extraction?” Maybe it came out more, ah… less civil than I’d hoped. But in my defense, I was quite traumatized at this point.

*Crickets.

“I apologize. My pressure runs borderline anyway. Add to that a 300-pound dude in a lab coat jamming “bite wings” down my throat while he shoots radiation through a plastic basketball hoop attached to and dangling from the side of my head and you might understand my anxious state. Danged thing herniated a disk in my neck. And why do they cover my torso in a lead vest while leaving my face in the path of directed radiation? Is my face not as important? Why no crotch flap? I’m pretty sure that’s important too. Also, I saw my own toes sticking out of my own nose, my innie is now an outie, and I think I have a hernia now.” I took a short breath and spoke in the general direction of the x-ray tech. “Thanks for that by the way, Gigantor.”

Feeling better, I turned and almost attempted my best disarming smile. I don’t know that it’s ever disarmed anyone and may even more closely resemble a snarl that has at least frightened some children. She was about to get intimate with my teeth anyway so I deprived her of the opportunity to experience disarmament and kept that smile in check just in case she got paid by the number of exposures to my teeth. You aren’t getting double time pay out of me, snooty one.

“We need those x-rays, Sir.” That sounded like a weak excuse. Maybe because she couldn’t close her mouth and it’s hard to enunciate when you hang your mouth open like a fish out of water at every little inconsequential thing your patient says.

“Yeah. But do the “bite wings” have to come off of a 747? Then they cover these gargantuan airfoils with enough sharp-edged tarpaulins to cover the entire plane. Seriously, my bowel movements are going to come out shrink wrapped for the next three weeks.”

“You miiiight be overreacting at this point. You should just try to calm down.”

“And how does that work out when your husband says that to you? YOU START GETTING indexEXCITED!!” *Note to self: I need to watch Boondock Saints again.

I actually just thought that bit, but decided to keep it to myself. After all, she was hovering over my face with a Dremel and what looked like a small scythe. “Do you have to mow grass on my tongue?” I offered instead.

“What?”

“Never mind. Where were we? BP? I can explain that beyond having passenger planes shoved down my throat. Also, I do not get along with dental dams.”

“Oooo-K?”

“It’s your coat.” I stated it as plainly as I could. “Not the not-getting-along-with-dental-dams part. The BP part, I mean.”

“My coat? What’s wrong with my coat?” She sniffed it. I almost left.

“My BP goes up any time I’m near you medical types. Something to do with the coat. It might help if you had a nice camouflaged one. That probably wouldn’t help with X-Ray Kong in there though. I bet his kids freak out when he makes airplane noises with a giant spoonful of gag reflex coming their way. I honestly don’t know how you guys’ heads don’t explode every time you put one on. Which I guess would only happen once. Each.”12345678

She affected a look that reminded me of the one my wife wears quite often, sighed, and had me lay back. Then she put these safety glasses on me that are designed for the sole purpose of rendering all men unattractive to anything other than vultures.

“We’re just going to slip this dental dam in…”

I sat up. “No we are not. Didn’t I just tell you I don’t get on well with those things?”

“Just let me give it a try. I’m really good with these things. Just breathe through your nose. You won’t even notice it.”

“And that is what the last thirteen people to attempt it said. Statistically speaking, you just lied to me. I have no real reason to trust you anymore. Besides, this is just supposed to be a cleaning and exam. And I don’t appreciate the mouth breather accusations.”

“What? No. Looking at your x-rays here,” she pointed at a dark spot, deflecting. “You are going to need a filling immediately.”

I looked at the film for myself

“That’s a boot lace eyelet. If you squint, you can make out the rest of the boot. Told you I saw my toes. I’d also like to point out that gold crowns don’t get cavities so unless I have some mutant oral bacteria, you aren’t filling my crown.”

So yeah. That last part wasn’t true, but I’ve been waiting to use that whole bit about trust since my last visit where they attempted to choke me with a wad of latex bearing the innocuous sounding moniker “dental dam”.

Turns out I did need a filling, but not in the gold tooth, and they had time. I guess they saw more discussion coming from me and knocked me out which is incredibly unfair considering the amount of talking and question posing they normally do while they have you as a captive audience incapable of response other than thumbs up.

“Where were you May 28th?” I asked as a woke.

“What?”

“See what you did right there? To me? You could have saved Harambe….”

“Please stop talking.”

Be snooty with me, will you?

Junsa: Destroyer of Worlds

Korea experienced an earthquake recently. I was initially pretty sure it was my fault because every time I go somewhere, something catastrophic happens in the general region in which I find myself. Mad Cow, Chernobyl, Fukushima, New Orleans flooding, volcanic activity in Washington, my son, etc. I decided long ago that I am at odds with the universe.

Then things started falling into place. It isn’t just me. It’s my last name. During my last tour in Korea, Doc and I met a distant relation bearing the same last name as us. As it turns out, Laura was at odds with the universe too as evidenced by her deranged bird besiegement. If they weren’t flying into her house and dying at her feet, they were landing close enough to her house to vomit dead fish at her. I personally think they were just looking out for her, but it can be disconcerting to have fish projectiles hurled at you. No pun intended.

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Then there is my brother, The Brain. Dogs have harassed him for as long as I can remember. This began in Panama when he ran through someone’s carport and a formerly snoozing German Shepard woke to nearly tear The Brain’s left butt cheek off. Since then, he’s been a devout cynophobe (I had to look that up because dogophobe didn’t sound quite legit) which should not to be confused with gynophobe. Seriously. I just looked that up and it’s a real thing. He’s certainly not a gynophobe. They may have scared him briefly during adolescence, but I’m pretty sure he’s good now. Except for maybe his spouse. He’s definitely a little scared of her. Anyway, I posted this pic at him because I’m a good big brother and don’t want him to forget the things that made him who he is:

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He informed me that “When going to someone’s house, you never hear “I’m glad you have this dog!”

“Of course you do,” I replied. “You just have to read between the lines. For example, when people say things like “Sweet Jesus! Why is he trying to bite my face off?”, they really mean “Awe. He so affectionate. I’m really glad you have this dog.”

Just days later, he got his family a dog. I’m a really good influence when you think about it.

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I redacted my sister-in-law’s face for the same reason I Pac-Man The Brain’s face in pics, but didn’t want to cause confusion so I Mrs. Pac-Manned hers. I’m a little disappointed in the results.  I couldn’t get the eye quite right. I guess that’s irrelevant though. I just wanted you to see the source of Korean seismic woes. Junsa, Destroyer of Worlds is his full name. Junsa is to Korea what Godzilla is to Japan. See for yourself.

The Brain gets a dog. The following day Korea has an earthquake. Deny it all you want, Brain. This one is so totally on you this time.

 

Abandonment: Part One

Every year my wife heads off to Pensacola to tend to the needs of her mother. It always seems to happen at the same time each year and she goes to great lengths to make sure we are fed for the duration. Without fail, the two weeks’ worth of food she prepares ahead of time seems to last approximately three days. I get it. We are grown and should be able to fend for ourselves and we do. However, while doing so I like to ensure she sees the plight she has inflicted on us through her absence. This serves the purpose of also providing her with daily updates.

The first couple of days are typically the same: We boys eat well and are happy. I begin to miss her and start putting “Aint no sunshine when she’s gone” videos on her FB timeline. It is usually that third day when semblances of civilization begin to crumble and we descend into a world not unlike the one depicted in Lord of the Flies. Here are the updates from her 2013 trip.

Day one without spousal oversight: Early August in the Georgia Low County. The temperature and humidity levels flirt with a third digit. Doc vanished in the early morning hours for a time indeterminate. I used the last sliver of soap this morning. While trusting the Timber Wolf and Pigdog to watch my back, I spent the morning trying to render fat in order to produce a rudimentary substance to bathe with. I have nothing to show for it but a full belly and the pervasive odor of bacon clinging to me like sweaty clothes and some soot with which to camouflage myself when I hunt for sustenance.

Day two without spousal oversight: The Boy and I have gone native. Despite the best efforts of the wife to leave us well provisioned, we’ve resorted to killing things and eating them. Tonight we shared a meal of dozen fried bream I skillfully caught.

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Day three without Doc’s supervision: The plague is taking its toll on the other half of my faction, threatening to upset the power balance. The common cold is deadly to us primitives. I think I may have to sacrifice him in order to save myself. My other son has formed a separatist faction and makes the rest of our territory uncomfortable. (If y’all knew the Man Child back then you would know that I am only half joking. He was going through some dark times and became slightly reclusive and perpetually agitated). This other faction persists in unwarranted territorial posturing. We may have to take him out before the plague weakens us too far. It’s ok, I know where he sleeps.

Day four unsupervised: It looks like the Boy and I will survive this round of plague, even as the other faction’s leader, the Man Child, begins to feel its effects. The dogs have stopped incessantly trying to go outside. Could be the thunderstorm or it could be that inside has become a jungle of sorts. I’m sure Doc would be furious at the state of things if she were here, but we no longer fear whip nor wrath since she is nearly a thousand miles away. For now, we are learning the art of war and the use of implements of destruction. I’ve attached a picture of us in the newly renovated living room so that you might better visualize our advancement.

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Day five…….or seven without Doc’s supervision: Time has lost all meaning here. Due to threats of bodily harm, the Boy and I have agreed not to bring down the vengeful wrath of our distant queen. We still refuse praying to her, but we will not kill her beloved pigdog. However, we are forced to forage farther afield for sustenance following the feast in which we devoured most of the bounty bestowed upon us prior to her departure. I called upon a place miles away from us and demanded food. Our strength and reputation must have preceded us as they brought it to our very gates. We must be fearsome indeed. Or so we thought. These subversives wore the same raiment as the Man Child. Red uniforms bearing the crest of some chieftain called Papa of clan John. It seems he’s forged alliances against us with other clans now.

My Wife Just Killed Newtons for me. And Broccoli.

 

I hadn’t planned on posting again so soon. I try to space things out in case I run out of things to talk about. I’m not sure what spacing posts out is going to do for that, but it made sense when I made the decision. I suppose I should get to the point of this post. Doc is at it again with her FB videos and I suspect she does this on purpose just to disturb me in some fashion. Fair enough. I’ve spent the last twenty years disturbing her with whatever falls out of my mouth. I knew I shouldn’t have opened the link but when the first text I see is “You’re eating wasps”, how am I supposed to not look?

Look. I get it. Eating bugs manifests in countless ways in most cultures I’ve encountered despite several differing religion’s prohibition on bug noshing. From Sicilian maggot cheese to entire bug buffets in Asia, it is a common thing. I’ve personally tried many. The sour cream and chive crickets weren’t bad, but Korea’s boiled silk worm larvae (bundaegi) tasted a lot like a dirty urinal smells and my throat closed and it wouldn’t go down and the smell stuck with me for hours until I got home and could reenact a scene from Ace Ventura.

That said, Fig Newton’s are dead to me. It isn’t the bug so much as it is the niggling thought that when I consume things containing figs, I am also consuming the romper rooms of irritable, incestuous, stinging insects. I’ll never be convinced that this is sanitary and all I see now when I see a fig is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas meets Wrong Turn meets Little Shop of Horrors. Wow. Those titles sound a bit alike when I think about it. Except for the Wrong Turn part. Obviously.

Then I looked into it and I now think broccoli is off the table as well. No more research for me. Ignorance is bliss, no? Don’t go looking. Cabbage might be out too.

You win this round, Doc. Well played.

Misdiagnosis or the Interconnected Nature of Everything. Being Married to a Shrink.

My wife put this video on my FB timeline with the caption “This is exactly like having a conversation with you.”

I responded with “I’m pretty sure this is nothing like me”.

Then that reminded me that I needed to complete my annual GAT (Global Assessment Tool). No. Not random. The GAT is a mandatory survey that asks like a million questions six different ways and you have to answer on a scale consisting of differing degrees of like me-ness. It’s something like this:

Question 401,693: I am easily distracted.

Then I have to answer with “nothing like me”, “somewhat like me”, or “this is so totally like me”. See? Connected rather than randomized. It’s all connected. Kind of like all those Disney movies making reference to one another. Just because I am thinking about Tarzan’s parents doesn’t mean that your convo on Frozen isn’t the same conversation.

Boom. Diagnosis refuted! It’s like magic how I can do that.

Take that, Doc! I’m a wizard!

You’ll Never Find Your Super Power While Wearing Clothes

I had a fun little thought while I was showering this morning. The bathroom is where most of my most interesting thoughts come from, after all. I like to think that my best thoughts arrive in the bathroom because clothes inhibit free thought and creativity. I’m telling you, if I were dressed right now I’d still be staring at a blank page with no idea where to begin. Sure, one might mistakenly think the shower thought phenomenon is due to the absence of distractions in the bathroom. There’s just the mirror. And maybe some books. Not in my bathroom though. E-readers don’t live long in there. Other than shaving my face, I can’t tell you when the last time I even looked in the mirror. Except for that time last year when my face started sliding off in the hospital. OK. So that was the last good look in the mirror. But in my defense, one’s face sliding off is something one shouldn’t miss. I was all “Yo, Adrian! I can’t spit.”, but my wife didn’t think it was funny and neither did the doctor who immediately had my head rushed into an inordinately loud magnetic tube. Anyway, the whole blaming it on distractions thing seems like a bit of a stretch. It’s totally the clothing’s fault.

So I was rinsing the soap out of my hair (and no I don’t use shampoo because Army regulation keeps my hair so short that shampoo seems like a purely superfluous amenity) when I realized that my eyes were open. Not that big a deal at first glance, but bear with me. I thought back and realized that I’d been doing this whole open eyed thing for most of my life. When I was a child though, I could chemical burn my corneas in the shower with eyes shut and goggles on while using baby shampoo. It took no effort whatsoever. Now it feels like I have to put forth a great deal of effort to get lye flavored pain in my eyes. Not that I want to do so of course, but you get the idea.

I puzzled it out and had something like an epiphany. One or two things could have occurred to make this possible. 1) As I aged I grew this Neanderthal-like forehead that shields my eyes while the wrinkles I developed serve to divert water away like drainage ditches. And 2) My ludicrously thick eyebrows serve as self-grown sham-wows that soaks up all the water and protects my eyes.

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I actually felt the need to go watch that commercial right then and ended up watching Apocalyptica and people interacting with pet ocelot videos. The ocelots, of course, took me to an Archer episode… Sorry. I’m back.

The point is that my body reacted to external threats and mutated accordingly kind of like when Deadpool spent the weekend in that little chamber-o-torture to make his mutations manifest. Long story short: I’m one of the X-Men, y’all! One childhood dream now checked off the bucket list. Granted, it may not be effective against Magneto, frost giants or dark elves, and it’ll get me nowhere with Scarlett Johansson unless I paint myself green and live as an angsty teenager who then develops a gothy “I’m always angry” attitude. Maybe I could jump brands and use my unique abilities to help the Justice League fight Poseidon. BAM! Problem solved. ‘Tis what I do. Well, that and divert water.

Doc is going to be so stoked when she gets this call in the morning!

If anybody has good name suggestions for a dude who fights off evil with his water dissuading facial features, please share.

Squid Pancakes, Mushu, and Baby Dragons

I wish I’d gotten a pic of the most absolutely bizarre traffic jam of my life but I failed to do so because, you know, I was driving and laughing and examining rice close up. If driving a rattling, noisy, $400 dollar, 20-year-old Kia down a pitted dirt road in the middle of a random rice paddy near the Yellow Sea (Or West Sea if talking to Koreans. It’s a point of some contention) wasn’t odd enough for a pair of brothers from Alabama, we found ourselves starving and stuck behind an ancient Korean woman on a Rascal type mobility device. Running ahead of us at about two miles per hour, she sat hunched forward in her seat as if willing the scooter to greater speed. It’s an experience I can honestly say I have never had before. I like those.

We eventually got where we were going and took care of the first order of business. Lunch. A second encounter with ancient Korean ladies this day saw us tricked us into eating a squid pancake and fermented radishes. It’s actually much better than it sounds. I promise. I do think the two old women were in cahoots though and they thought to punish us for scooter tailgating. Then again, it could have been due to lack of mastery where the Korean vocabulary is concerned.

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We then went to see the shrine of my Korean military hero, Admiral Yi Sun Shin. The man led an epic life that would rival any modern fictional work of political intrigue, martial prowess, and heroic struggle.

Shrine

 

On reaching the top step of the shrine we noted a bowl of burning incense at the center and an attendant just off to the right. I would have loved to see what noise it made when struck, but hesitated upon seeing the attendant. The Brain wanted to take a pic, and taking a different approach to the preferred forgiveness-is-easier-than-permission tactic, decided to ask first. He then complicated matters by asking her if she spoke English. She answered with several bewildered and frightened looking blinks as if she was being addressed by frost giants. With him at nearly 6’7” and her at about 5’ flat, I could kind of see where this might have been a fear display. He then held up his phone and showed her his intent. She smiled from her new place on the ground (a reaction to his quick draw I think) and sighed with relief at not being offered the place of honor as his dinner. She gave us the go ahead and lots of little bows at the waist. On leaving I explained to my brother that I understood Koreans often have great trouble stating an outright “no” and that her blinks were a sign of her trying to mentally work out how she was going to say no without saying no. Then again, they could have been code blinks for help. I don’t claim to know how Korean distress signals work. It’s all just speculation at this point.

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The we found Eddie Murphy!

Eddie Murphy

On the way to Admiral Yi’s ancestral home (about a block away) we pondered deep philosophical considerations such as how far away from a shrine could one place their grave and still hear the prayers offered at said shrine. His actual grave is like nine kilometers away from his shrine for some reason. If anybody wants to build me a shrine, please do so on top of my grave. My hearing isn’t what it used to be. Plus, I don’t know how this works either.

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Complete with authentic 16th century track lighting in the master bedroom.

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Beside the old home there stood a brick chimney for the fire that was used to pump heat under all the floors of the home. The Brain took the time to explain his vast knowledge of ancient Korean masonry practices and techniques. Knowing that masonry isn’t exactly cool, he tried to tell our father that he was admiring the fact that the well was close to the house instead of in the village center like Europeans wells, or in the next county over like African wells. Nice try, Brain. Here is the evidence of your fondness for brick and mortar work. I redacted his face because he’s a little funny about his image circulating on the interwebs.

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As a fan of living history and mechanical apparatuses (apperati?), I was intrigued by the fact that the entire front of the house has these little folding door/windows. The cool part is that each pair are hinged vertically with one of each pair being hinged horizontally so that they could be opened and then swung upward to latch to the house’s eaves. I wanted to see these function as designed, but the Brain employed his highly evolved sense of impending disaster to divine (It’s like magic, really) my intent and reminded me of the temple incident and that this was somehow tantamount to me washing my hands on Buddha’s face. That’s a different blog post in my July archives if you’re interested. After reminding him that forgiveness is definitely easier to ask for than permission when you’re in a foreign land, he threatened to tell my wife and stated that if I thought after 20 years of marriage that my wife couldn’t reach across 4,000 miles and jerk my butt back in line, I was basically Forrest Gump.

Hinges!!! Towards the end of our tour we crossed a bridge and these gigantic Asian dragon hatchlings made a mass under the bridge that one could walk on. The Brain again reminded me of the temple incident and my wife’s great reach so we opted to just feed them instead of hike on them. There are these little vending machines that will sell you like a pound of fish food for less than fifty cents so I got a paper bucket full. To my delight, the fish began stacking on top of one another in a pyramid-like formation to get to the food first. It looked exactly like the zombies in World War Z climbing the walls in Israel. Except that they were baby dragons. And the baby dragons were just koi and carp. So nothing like World War Z. Way to kill the mood, Brain.

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I may have mentioned this in other posts, but there are practically zero trash cans in this country. There are also healthy fines for littering so I walk around with pockets bulging with empty bottles, coffee cups, and various scraps of paper and/or food wrappers. Basically like a really tall self-propelled dumpster that got lost on its way to the landfill and just keeps picking up more trash. The Brain had a better plan. A pair of Korean grandparents approached with their grandchildren and were as amazed as I at the baby dragons. So the Brain took my bucket of dragon kibble and offered it to the kids. He then bade me walk with him. Absolutely brilliant. My trash became pocket adornment for someone else in what was cleverly disguised as a random act of kindness.

I didn’t get a pic of the plaques posted near the exit. Apparently they were special in that only “filial sons and virtuous wives” were ever awarded these things. There were five. The only five I’ve ever seen. In a country with something like five thousand years of history, this comes out to only one filial son or virtuous wife every millennium. Way to set an impossible standard Korea. I still love you.

 

So Much Awesome

I have thought about this for a week now and I have decided I will not taint the glory that is this image with the fumbling words of an amateur blogger. I will explain though what you are seeing.

I sent my guys to go recover an inoperable trailer belonging to another unit. I asked for pictures of the recovery operation. This is what they sent me:

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The Confluence of Jewish Zombies and Ddeokbokki: Lunchtime Ponderings

The day brought me one of those life lessons not quickly forgotten. Long story short, I learned that when eating delicious, spicy, Korean foods, I need to remember that the napkin used during the meal to clear pepper paste from my lips is unsuitable for the task of stemming the tide of capsaicin induced snot after the meal.

I then joked about using a neti pot of milk to cool my inflamed nasal passages. It was either that or nose plugs made of bread or chocolate, but neither struck me as more interesting than the neti pot thing. Having never used a neti pot, I got curious and went to YouTube. It was nearly as disturbing as Googling cerulean hued breakfast foods. If you have delicate sensibilities, please do not do that. Except for the neti pot thing. It’s totally cool and clean if not disgusting.

I realized quickly that the narrator of the instructional neti pot video might be something of a sadist. He suggested that I use water warmed to the temperature of a bath. Dude! He either takes really cold baths or thinks I should snort near boiling water. It took my skin years of intense training to get used to my predilection for lobster imitation. I can’t imagine what this would do to my schnoz. Add to this that he suggested salt go into said boiling water. Have you ever seen what salt does to your windshield? How is this cleaning my sinuses? Will it raise my blood pressure? Or is he zombie who likes his hors d’oeuvres of a pickled nature or slightly cooked in brine? If the last is true, then he is certainly a Jewish zombie as he recommended Kosher salt. How do you reconcile your diet with your faith, Zionbie? People aren’t Kosher, guy.

I’ll just stick to spicy foods. And two napkins. Maybe a third for my eyes.

Laundry Herpes

I have many nemeses. Nemesises? Nemesi? I’m going with nemesi. I just like the way it sounds and my butchery of the language will drive my daughter insane. Whatever your preferred plural of nemesis is, I have many of them.

You remember my problem with odoriferous bathroom textiles, yeah? If not, please refer to the “To Drink or to Stink” post. Stinky towels haven’t quite made the list, so don’t worry. I’m not talking about them again except to say that a friend offered advice on how to eliminate the offending aroma. She suggested I use dryer sheets. What she doesn’t understand is that I absolutely loathe the danged things. They are, without a doubt, the unruliest participants in laundering operations.

You use one, just a single one, and countless others show up. It’s like plucking a grey hair. My grandmother used to say that if you pulled one grey hair, then seven would come to its funeral. Well, dryer sheets work the same way. Except maybe in that you don’t pluck them unless you consider it plucking when you have to pick up off the floor the dozens spawned by the one. Also, more than seven show up. Try like seventy. And they keep coming. Laundry herpes. That’s what they are.

I used a dryer sheet once and spent weeks picking them up off the floor. They refused to stay in trash cans and if you do manage to catch the one lurking under the edge of the bed and throw it away, then its buddies show up to congregate at the trash can like some great horde of peaceful protestors silently demanding an inmate’s release. I’d find them in my clothing as I dressed after having hung or folded items. They’d be wadded up in the toe of my socks or under my pillow at night. I’m pretty sure I woke up coughing them up once. I am also fairly certain they can lift the lid to trash cans and parachute unharmed to the ground to get lost in a sea of protestors. They are all in cahoots.

I expressed this to my wife who then informed me that I have an irrationally vehement attitude towards these translucent travesties of industry. Not two days later I went to the barracks laundry room and had to send her a message.

“Remember how I told you that if you use one dryer sheet it won’t stay in the trash and all its buddies show up and then you said something unhelpful about an irrational disdain for them?”

“Yes.”

“All you did was mention the danged things. See what horrors you’ve wrought? They breed like rabbits from nothing more than mere mention of them!”

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Then I gave her the grey hair analogy.

“You are the only person I know who can manage to bring up dryer sheets and funerals in the same sentence.”

I suspect that she may be their deity if she can speak them into existence.

Moral of the story? I need to work on my people skills. It’s not cool to ask for laundry tips from a tiny, timid, and bespectacled female Lieutenant in the laundry room by opening with “Do your towels stink too?” Apparently.