Not the target audience

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.

Table scatter

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.

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9 thoughts on “Not the target audience”

  1. I can’t help but feel happy for your freshly cleaned van and whatever path inside the house the couch took. We’ve had versions of this where cleaning out the linen closet somehow ends in doing all the mending which leads to making the rest of that costume which leads to vacuuming up all the parts of the house now strewn with fuzz from the costume’s fuzzy edges, etc. It sucks at the time, but it is nice after all the work is done. Especially if it forces us to reckon with some filthy habit we’ve allowed the kids to develop. I halfway hope something happens that forces me to mail back these Lands’ End returns, order glasses with the prescription I got three months ago, and donate the heaps of things waiting to finally go to their forever home. 🙄

  2. Just for next time: did you know you can rent a flatbed truck from Home Depot for 75 minutes for $20, and then an additional $5 for every additional 15 minutes? It’s great for Craigslist sofas.

  3. When my oldest was a toddle, nearly 20 years ago now *sniff* and it was clear that the temperature charting method was never going to really work for us (my temperature never, ever did what the books said it would do near ovulation), I heard about fertility monitors and went to get one–this was before Marquette, but I guess we did Marquette before it was called that. Anyhoo, the lady at the register eyed my monitor, and my already-born kiddo, and asked how old he was. I said he wasn’t 18 months yet, and she said Hoo boy was he a big kid for his age, and I modestly said well, he was big when he was born, and she got all curious and asked how big, and I said 10 pounds, and she was all DID YOU HAVE DIABETES? BECAUSE YOU ONLY GET BIG KIDS WHEN YOU HAVE DIABETES, AND IF YOU DIDN’ T HAVE DIABETES YOU SURE WILL GET DIABETES BECAUSE SHE HAD BIG KIDS AND NOW SHE HAS DIABETES. AND THE DIABETES WILL KILL YOU SO DON’T HAVE ANY MORE KIDS, OKAY?

    I really appreciate Amazon home delivery these days.

    1. Your story reminded me of one of those “when are you due?” conversations with a chatty store clerk. She told me how lucky I was to be having a scheduled c-section (my fourth) because “no pain!” She meant no labor pain. I guess that intravenous morphine they give you after being cut open is just for fun.

      I want a T-shirt like my teen’s that says “You read my shirt. That’s enough social interaction for one day.”

  4. Lol, I started charting in college and scandalized some people with those strips…”whose pregnancy tests are these?!” (I was a ‘good girl’ at a Catholic college).

  5. Lol @ corn on the cob. I once found a mummified sandwich under a bed. It reminded me of Oscar from the Odd Couple. Screaming ensued. It was before I developed my sense of humor. Now I just remember they will move out some day and my house will sparkle – yeah right.

    Miss being able to comment on your FB because you changed your privacy settings.

  6. I love this and I imagine it’s why people love you so much. It’s real. Hey, I would look upon that day as A win. I feel most accomplished in the days when I am forced to clean because, I guess, I don’t do it unless I’m forced. But it feels good to have it done, right? Your car’s good for another few years. We bought a new car in June and despite my determination to not let the backseat look like a frat house, it does. It’s just life.

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