It's not about the house.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm a Beggar, Not a Chooser!

It’s like goddamn Armageddon around here!

I don’t mean the his-name-that-sat-on-him-was-Death-and-Hell-followed-with-him kind of non-italicized (but according to Microsoft still capitalized) Armageddon. I mean the movie.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, Armageddon is a chick flick from the ’90s. It stars Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Liv Tyler as a family of -- what? Oh, I see. You think it’s a pseudo-scientific action picture about Our Heroes trying to deflect an asteroid from crashing into Earth along the lines of oh, let’s say Deep Impact? Nah. Trust me: it's a chick flick. I am a chick, and so I know.

See, it starts out your way, sure, but about three-quarters through it takes a hard left turn. Ben and Bruce are up in space, busy being Heroes and deflecting, when Something Really Bad Happens and the two of them have to thumb-wrestle (I'm pretty sure that's how it went) to decide which one will get to be the martyr-hero and which one will get to, you know, go home alive. Then all of a sudden it’s a movie about Liv (and her lips), stuck on terra firma with the knowledge that either her husband or her father is about to get sucked out into the void (the real void, that is, not the made-up, left-behind one) – and what the hell is she supposed to hope or pray for then?

It was like goddamn My Girl all over again! You think you’re watching a cute movie about a couple of kids and their adventures and then BAM with the bee-stings and from there on out it’s all shaking and crying and holding on to Dr. One Friend for dear life. I mean, Christ! You can’t ask a girl to choose between her husband and her daddy! Not that it was up to poor Liv (or her lips), but still. I shook and cried so hard for the last fifteen minutes, I couldn’t even see through my fluttering fingers which one of those cowboys made it home. Although my money’s on Ben Affleck. You do always want to end a chick flick with a smooch scene, after all.

Anyway, so here’s how this relates to my life this week (you should know by now that I can find a way to relate just about any random reference to my life, yes?):

Sometime – oh, maybe ten years ago – the guy Johnny was working with gave him a juicer. This is the type of guy who thinks he’s into health and wellness but is really killing himself by slow starvation while he treats his arthritic knees with bee stings and jumps on every stupid fad that comes along. Eat according to your blood type, colon cleanse, that sort of thing. He’ll swallow anything rumored to be Eastern, ancient, or homeopathic – cider vinegar, clay, hot stinging nettles – then gives himself daily coffee enemas to flush it out. He won’t see a doctor or take any prescription medication, yet he’s convinced it’s the mercury in his teeth that’s made him nuts.

He’s tried to talk Johnny into this crazy shit for years, and every so often it almost works. Johnny has brought home bottles of melatonin, jars of garlic balm, great whopping tubs of psyllium husk. I’ve eventually thrown them all away, and I’d like to think it was my voice of reason that prevailed, but I’m afraid the main thing keeping my slightly gullible (sh, don’t tell him I said that) husband’s conversion at bay is the fact that Johnny can’t even remember to take his blood pressure medication when going without it means his eyeballs will be doing loop-de-loops inside his skull. There’s just no way he’d get on a regular regimen of ingesting sundry crap that tastes like it got scraped off the bottom of a dirty fish tank. (Not that I know what the bottom of a dirty fish tank tastes like, but I’ve smelled Venice in September, so I’ve got a rough idea.)

When this guy offered him a juicer, though, I decided what the hell. Might as well let Johnny win one once in a while. It’s only juice, right? It’s fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables aren’t stupid, and they can’t do any harm. Plus, the Other Guy was paying for it, so when it made the inevitable migration to the attic to work in earnest on its mouse-poop-and-dust collection, well, then I wouldn’t have to wind up all pissed off. So yes. Fine. We got a juicer. And Johnny swears he even used it, too. Me, all I remember is one very chewy glass of suspiciously orange-looking apple juice (I refuse to believe anyone ever willingly drinks carrots), and that was waaaay back before the AssVac was even a Hershey bar.

So last summer, when my

Hang on, has it been three weeks yet? Yes. Yes, it has. Okay, then.

when my mom was having trouble eating, I asked Johnny if he’d brought that old juicer when we moved, and if he had, would he be willing to lend it to her if she thought that it might help. To be honest, I don’t think she ever wanted it. To be frank, I think she only agreed to take it to be nice. And to be blunt, I know for a fact she never used it, because when she died in December it was still in its box on the floor next to her bed, right where I had put it back in June. At some point in the middle there I probably should have offered to take it home and get it out of the way, but with all that was going on I’d forgotten it existed, and when I visited I didn’t even see it anymore.

And if I had forgotten it existed, well, there was just no hope for Dad. I love him dearly, but Poppo’s always been a little absent-minded. When I was in high school I had to remind him which of my friends was whom (“Lisa’s the redhead, Dad. Amy’s Korean.”), and I am so certain his “Oh, yeah?” at the mention of Gene’s name was fake that I will lick the bottom of a dirty fishtank if he can call up any memory of the year I lived with him at all. Of course, Dad does have better recall of his own, more recent events and acquaintances, so I guess the point is probably more that he doesn’t waste brain power on things that aren’t of immediate importance. And there was a lot of more immediate importance to my dad in December than the juicer in the box under Mom’s bed.

So in January, when Johnny went on the no-chew-food diet for his diverticulitis and thought the creaky old thing might at long last be of use, I can’t say I was completely shocked to find Dad had no earthly idea where it was. It pained me to watch him think about it; I begged him to forget I’d brought it up; but finally I watched it come to him, like the suspenseful opening of an alien egg-pod (and yes, I know, I’m mixing space-movie metaphors here, so? At least they’re both from chick flicks, anyway).

“There were two boxes...,” Dad remembered. “One was a pasta maker... the other one... must have been the juicer...”

Don’t ask me what the pasta maker was doing in Mom’s bedroom, but okay.

“One of them is on a shelf in the garage... and the other...”

...jumped out of the seed pod and grabbed my face.

“... I put on the rock in the front yard with a big sign saying ‘FREE.’”

Man, but did I wish I’d never asked!

Now, of course Dad offered to replace it, and of course that was the last thing I wanted him to have to do. But it was a big fat stupid awkward moment and I just wanted it to end, so after trying weakly to talk him out of it, I reminded him that Johnny has a birthday coming up. At least that way it would be less like I allowed Dad to replace it and more like I saved him having to come up with an idea. Besides, I thought maybe if we let a couple months pass without mentioning the juicer, they might both just absent-mindedly forget.


It just so happens that Johnny is a walking, talking weak-spot for a late-night infomercial. He buys, or wants me to buy, every goddamn kitchen gadget he sees offered at a low-low special price, and they’ve all been asking after the juicer since it went to live with Mom. His latest request was for something called a “Soda Stream,” which he begged for by saying he always wanted one as little boy but they were just too poor. Right. As if making your own Diet Coke was all the rage in 1960s Dublin. I said no, but I saved the website address that he’d scribbled in the dark, figuring I’d knuckle under if I didn’t have any more practical ideas by March 14th. Which is, as a matter of fact, why his birthday was already on my mind in early January, ripe to be plucked up and suggested to Dad.

Well, fresh off the Soda Stream rejection, Johnny started asking for the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer the very day I broke the news about the FREE sign and the rock. Truth be told? I suspect the infomercials played as big a part in his juicer-hanker as the GI distress in the first place, and I think he got a little step-right-up thrill when he discovered it was gone. I told him no. I told him we were poor. I told him it was stupid. I said he never even used the other one. I pissed him off with all of this but he stopped bringing it up, so I imagined the incident was blowing over. I even managed to convince myself the whole thing would make him that much happier to see whatever cheapo instrument my dad might buy.

Which logic I still believe makes sense, except I forgot two crucial things:

#1: My dad is not my mom. He is not willing to spend a thousand hours searching for the marked-down, off-brand, slightly irregular but still a very excellent value juicer in the broken box for twenty bucks. He does not consider a clearance sale a game of chicken with the universe. He just decides what he wants and buys it, usually on line, and usually right away, lest he forget.

#2: Johnny has a debit Mastercard.

I don’t know how I could have forgotten number two. Number two (and you may read that expression how you will) is the reason our attic looks like Ron Popeil's secret dungeon. So no, the merciful silence I’d heard from Johnny was not the end of the Great Juicer Storm of 2010, but just the pause before the Great Punch in the Eye. Because, light years before I learned that Jack LaLanne’s $89 Power Juicer was hurdling its inevitable way to the AssVac for the NASA-level shipping & handling fee of $25...

Dad took delivery on the $100, space-age-looking Breville BJE200XL.

One of them's got to play the martyr-hero, but I'm out. You guys are going to have to make the call. And when you do, you can just let me know. I’ll be right over here in the corner, shaking, crying, and licking the bottoms of whatever fish tanks I can find.

Oh, but if you’re working in a smooch scene, would you mind specifying that Our Hero will be played this week by Dirty Boy?

Only because Johnny has a nasty cold...

There now, see? So totally worth waiting for the picture. The first one, I mean. That's the one the internet wouldn't let me upload on Wednesday. The second one was just a bonus because I had more time to think about it. But you wouldn't have gotten it at all if I'd been able to post when I intended, so I think it worked out in the end, don't you? 

Ooh, speaking of end...

Hubba hubba.


Charlie said...

And.......she's back.

Poppo said...

Keep good old Jack LaLane happy. The Breville is in the box to be returned. No problem..
Love You

oldgreymare said...

Except the Breville is the better juicer

Janice said...

i have a Breville juicer - which I don't use (too much clean up) - and a soda stream which i use aaaaallllll the time - just for soda water though, no syrups involved - so no clean up at all!

atlanticmo said...

It took more than a couple of looks at the juicer illustration to understand what you were trying to convey. I couldn't figure out why the juicer was bleeding.

12ontheinside said...

Keep the Breville. Anything ordered from late night TV invariably ends up being a piece of crap. Sorry, Johnny.

Sashimi said...

The "end"ing's especially nice

ege said...

Charlie -- Did you miss me?

Poppo -- Yeah, because this way if it sucks or breaks, it's his own fault! Love you, too!

OGM -- Is it? Well, what do you think the chances are he'll finally learn?

Janice -- Oh, man, nobody asked you to vote yes on the Soda Stream! ;)

Mo -- Oh, sure. Leave it to the artist to complain about the picture. I don't go to your blog and complain about the grammar, do I? (That said, you're right: it does kind of look like I'm juicing the astronauts. Whoops.)

12 -- Yeah, but Dad already threw himself on the grenade, and I have to live with Johnny.

Sahimi -- Ain't it, though?

Janice said...

yeah, well, don't listen to me, I also follow the blood group diet... I'm an O, no wheat or dairy - lots of meat, fish, fruit, vege. And soda water. Suits me very nicely.

ege said...

Oh no! I knew if I kept at this long enough I'd manage to insult someone I love! Truth be told, this is probably not the first time. Sorry, Nana!

Jenni said...

I loved the illustration. The big ol' lips made me giggle.
I am not big on small appliances. Too difficult to wash and there never seems to be a place to store them.

pork luck said...

Brilliant! This post read like a dime store novel. I just couldnt put it down!