The scene: Bubbe’s tenement apartment on the lower east side.
The phone rings. A cultured voice whinnies, “Good afternoon, madam. This is Wilberforce, the butler. I’m terribly sorry to inform madam that Mrs. Rockefeller and Mrs. Vanderbilt cannot come today for tea.”
And the old lady yells out, “Oy, mister! Have you got the wrong number!”
That line goes through my head sometimes, especially as I shop. Here’s some products that turn me into incredulous Bubbe.
Every ten days or so, I have to go shopping for a birthday party. Balloons, okay. Streamers, sometimes. Candles, fine. But then I keep coming across little sparkly packets of something called “table scatter.” My kids asked what it is, and I don’t know what to say. I channel Amelia Bedelia. Table scatter? To scatter on the table, so there are more things scattered on your table, to make the table look better? At our house, when we’re really puttin’ on the dog, we de-scatter the table.
Who am I fooling? Half the time, we have to de-scat the table.
You may consider it revolting, and you may be very right, but this is a small house and there are not a lot of flat surfaces to work on. Crafts? Dining room table. Rolling out cookies? Dining room table again. Homework? Dining room table it is. Changing hamster litter? Oh yes, you bet that would be dining room table. When I say de-scat, I mean de-scat. Now just direct me toward the undusting powder is, and I’ll make you a lemon meringue pie to knock your socks off.
100% organic anything
The other week, we bought a sectional off Craigslist. $100, great deal. Of course that meant that the next six hours were utterly consumed by a horrible, cuteness-free reenactment of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
If you find a sectional at a good price, you’re going to want to save even more money on truck rental, so you’re going to have to take the seats out of the van.
If you take the seats out of the van, you’re going to face up to the thing you’ve been pretending you don’t know: namely, that you have children who think they are too good to throw away their old lunches, when in fact, far from being too good, they are very, very bad children indeed.
Reaming out the trash-strewn van with a rake until you can see the floor again like fancy people will make you reluctant to put those hideous old, crusty seats back in, so you’re going to clean them off, too.
Cleaning off the van seats, which you accomplish with a trowel, a wire brush, and a heart full of rage, will remind you that the car seat straps are getting tighter and tighter, not because the kids are growing, but because they’re sitting atop a steadily growing heap of relentlessly organic cement-like compote formed from beleaguered french fries, fossilized string cheese, denaturized candy corn, compressed pear and apple cores, pulverized goldfish and fig newtons, and about eleven quarts of graham cracker crumbs, garnished with a chiffonade of flossers from our tragically optimistic dentist.
This kind is only driven out with a metal spatula.
Three hours into this 100% organic project, you turn around to discover that your husband has already attempted to cram the sectional in through all possible doors of the house, and the only option left is to take the back door off the hinges, remove the washing machine outlet pipe that sticks out a fraction of an inch too far, shift a file cabinet or two, disassemble the shelves that hold your world class collection of water bottles with no tops, and of course move the computer desk. And guess what turns out to be under that?
Another cubic yard of graham cracker crumbs mixed into the tangled nest of electrical cords, plus every styrofoam meat tray you threw away over the last six months and the dog dragged out of the garbage and lavished with his sweet, sweet loving, and then hid under the computer desk. And candy corn. And some used baby wipes that the dog also thought were worth retrieving and then filing away from later. And CORN ON THE COB.
But gosh, here I am shopping for school lunches, and for only a extra three dollars, I can choose these fruit snacks that are made of 100% organic ingredients? Oh, may I???
And finally, a slightly more complicated issue, having to do with FDA regulations and off-market adaptations. Behold, the top shelf in my very own bathroom:
It’s . . . it’s not what it sounds like! It’s not what you think! It’s on my list of things to put away before guests come! But does that always get done? No, it does not.
Well, let ’em think what they want to think. Maybe the Rockefellers live here after all.