Last week, Sara and I went to Huntsville Alabama – A place known for having a space museum and being ten degress hotter than Atlanta all year. She had to do some work there, and I have family there, so I went along to keep her company. Plus I didn’t want to miss out on anything Huntsville had to offer.

The second night we were there, we were puttering around the hotel room brushing teeth and channel surfing, when she said “Hey, is there a gift shop at this hotel?”

Assuming I had been good all day and might have earned a miniature collectible Saturn V rocket replica, I instantly said “Yup, right next to where we checked in.”

“Great. Could you go get me some tampons?”

The word “crestfallen” only applies when you don’t get something you had hoped for. When it is replaced with something you don’t want, you move into a new territory of disappointment. Example:

“Hey little Billy, you know that little puppy you have been begging your parents for since February? Well, you can’t have him.”

Billy would be crestfallen.

“Oh, as a matter of fact, you’re going to get a Barbie playset instead. You can change her clothes and pretend she’s shopping and EVERYTHING.”

Now little Billy has spun off into a different dimension of unhappiness. More of a devastation, to be precise.

I was crevastated by the news I had to buy tampons. That word seems to fit obscenely well and that sentence needs to go on a tee shirt.

So my response was “Sure, but first let me regale you with a few dozen reasons I shouldn’t do this.”

Frankly I didn’t have many reasons aside from not wanting to. When she said “grab a six pack of frosty beer while you’re there”, I pretty much had no reason not to go.

So I get to the gift shop and I’m looking around, feigning interest in a pecan log and wondering if she’d know the difference if I just showed up with one of those. Finally I found the chick corks, behind the counter with all of the other stuff you don’t want to ask for. Like condoms, laxative, KY jelly, ball gags, and so on.

We only stay in the very nicest hotels.

The lady behind the counter asked “Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like one box of your finest tampons, please.” As if I was going to take one out of the box and sniff it like a fine cigar.

“I’m sorry. Wha-?”

“Yes, I would like some tampons. I just got married and this seems to be part of the deal.”

Then she did that laugh that you only hear from heavyset (and not heavyset) women (and men) of color. The back of the throat laugh, which much like the constant wearing of the Bluetooth earpiece, will never be understood by honkies like myself due to our lack of rich cultural heritage. It sounds like “kkgghhh kgghhh kkgghhh kkgghhh” and if you’ve heard it before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

“It is part of the deal, I know that.” She said. “What kind does she need?” she asked, pointing to an array of feminine hygene products that was quite a bit vaster than I would have imagined.

“uhh…(reaching for my phone) Spring Meadow? New car? I really didn’t know they came in…what…flavors…? Colors? I think she likes the Jonas Brothers. Do you have those?”

“Here, honey. Just take these and if they aren’t right, bring them back and we’ll try again. You just got married? Are you here on your honeymoon?”

“Yup. Huntsville honeymoon, and now I’m buying tampons. So far so good.”

“kkgghhh kkgghhh kkgghhh kkgghhh kkggggggggggggh.”

“Do you sell beer here?”

“No. We used to, but we stopped for some reason.”

“Really? [this is] a gift shop, right?”

“It sure is.”

“So someone in management decided that tampons make a better gift than beer? I’d like to meet that guy.”

“kkgghhh kkgghhh kkgghhh kkgghhh kkgghhhhhhhhhhhh. Gggghk.”

Home improvement –

As you may or may not know, I have a condo in Atlanta that I rent out. Every time new renters move in, I have to go in and fix some minor stuff that the old renter broke or whatever. It’s part of being a slumlord.

This month, a newly married couple moved in, and when we were doing the walk through, we noticed a light bulb was burned out and that the shower curtain rod had passed its useful life (which is apparently 5 years).

If I was going to host a program on TLC called “Home Improvement for the sub-70 I.Q.”, the first two episodes would be replacing a light bulb and replacing a shower curtain rod respectively. Those are the two easiest jobs there are. I have finished a basement with my own two hands from the studs to insulation, wiring, drywall, plumbing, tile, and carpet. I’m not new to how shit gets built and fixed.

What I am is a steaming, staggering heap of bad luck.

When I lived in the condo I installed all kinds of interesting features like an innovative toilet paper holder that doesn’t have one of those spring-loaded plastic tubes that launches itself into the toilet, a nice 400 hp garbage disposal, and some cool cantilevered glass shelves behind the toilet that look like they are magically growing out of the wall.

Stuff like this is only cool if you own it and you paid for it. Having paid for it ensures that you try not to break it. Renters don’t really try too hard not to break stuff. My last renter decided the delicate glass shelves would be a great place for his bowling ball collection, and I spent most of a weekend fixing drywall and (ill-advisedly) re-hanging them after they pulled out of the wall.

On the other side of the coin, I can’t stand when landlords replace and fix things as cheaply as possible. With this in mind, I went to Home Depot and picked up the nice light bulbs that last 4000 years and one of those shower curtain rods that you see in hotels that curves out and gives you a little more room to flail in the shower. Another reason I wanted that kind is because it actually SCREWS into the wall instead of having those useless rubber bumpers on the end that hold to the wall through a combination of friction and hope.

Curtain rod – $40
Bulbs – $4
The rest of my day – $ucky.

The first thing I noticed was that in my infinite wisdom and love for mother earth, I had replaced all of the light bulbs in the condo with some kind of space age soy-based compact fluorescent bulbs that actually give birth to a spotted owl when they burn out. I couldn’t really stick this comparatively crappy full spectrum incandescent in there and look at myself in the mirror. So I knew I’d be going back for the right bulbs.

Then I took the shower curtain rod and held it in place. In that small bathroom, the use of that rod meant that the shower curtain would hang into the toilet. Now I have two reasons to go back to Home depot. I also saw a loose piece of moulding under the cabinets in the kitchen, and the under-cabinet lighting was showing, so I added finish nails to my list and headed back out.

I returned the shower rod and got the right light bulbs, and got a straight rod with the stupid crapass bumpers on the end. It was nice, though, a thick hefty brushed nickel piece of work that appeared to be worth all $25.00 I paid for it. Still, I kept looking at it and thinking “It took mankind over a thousand years to figure out that we need to put little wheels on our luggage. How many more generations must pass before someone invents a usable shower curtain rod?”

But I stuck it up there and wedged it in all tight like it was designed to do. Then I headed for the kitchen to fix that moulding and replace the light- “KA-CHUUUH! BING! Smuh.” I heard someone say from the bathroom.

The fucking shower curtain rod had failed in some way and come crashing down, and on the way to the toilet it managed to hit one of those glass shelves, tearing it out of the wall, but mercifully not breaking the glass.

I thought about how insanely hilarious this would be to someone watching, and if that person were standing there helpless with laughter, I might kill them. I finally figured out that the little threaded rod that runs through the center of the curtain rod had detached itself and caused it to telescope back inside itself just enough to fuck up my bathroom/mood. Now I have to get a THIRD replacement curtain rod, drywall filler, anchors, and probably some paint.

Damn it. I’ll just replace the lightbulb. I need to make progress somewhere soon.

Of course the stupid soy pot head earthsaver light bulb was built as shittily as hippies tend to build everything, and the threads separated from the bulb when I unscrewed it and were sitting in the socket mocking me. Plus now there is a baby spotted owl waiting for me to regurgitate partially digested rodentia into its mouth. So I turn off the breaker to avoid more hilarity and spend 15 minutes with a pair of needle nose pliers trying to finesse 4 grams of metal out of a socket, getting evermore creative with my blasphemous epithets. At one point I called it a “filthy dicklicking Eskimo”, and I don’t even dislike Eskimos…much. I mean, you have to admit, they are sort of smug and very opinionated about how to host a party.

I finally got the new bulb in, and turned my rage toward the cabinet. In order to nail it back to the underside of the cabinet, I had to bend backward over the counter and use a small hammer. I won’t go into the description of how my cabinets are built, but one day when you’re bored, take a piece of hardwood moulding about 16 inches long and place it on two wood blocks so the center is not supported. Then bend over backwards, hold it over your head, and try to hammer a finish nail into the middle of it while someone sprinkles sawdust and dead bugs in your eyes. It’s great.

While doing that, I also managed to miss the nail and smash the under cabinet light. So I added more stuff to my Home Depot list – 5 gallons of kerosene and a blowtorch. Screw this place. They call it a “fire policy” for a reason.

So I went to see Rich again. He was working the returns counter and knew me by name. I asked him if there was a section of contractor grade stuff where I might find a shower curtain rod that wasn’t designed by “a damn Swede”. I think that was supposed to be a dig on IKEA, but I was too pissed off to get my slurs right.

I found a rod that had plates that screwed in, and it even came with drywall anchors for a mere $15.00. At least they were getting cheaper. As I was leaving in my car, I stopped to let a lady and her kid cross in front of me from left to right. I was focused on a combination of them crossing the parking lot painfully slowly and bewilderment at how I was 3 hours and $100 into a 30 minute and $20 job…I’d be a fantastic government contractor… So I wasn’t really paying attention to the guy who was about to cross my path from right to left.

Let me set the scene for you. To get an idea how fast I was going, put your car in drive (I don’t drive an automatic transmission because I am heterosexual, but I’ll use one in this example) on a slight incline (that’s UPhill) and take your foot off the brake. Now, however fast you are going when you have moved 36 inches, stomp the brake. The car bounces a little. Now have a friend stand in front of your car far enough away that you can see his feet from your seated position in the driver’s seat. It’s about 6-8 feet from your bumper depending on the air pressure in your tires.

Now have your friend dress up like the retarded hippie that invented the soybean/spotted owl lightbulb. This will require a grey hemp shoulder bag, dirty jeans, and a shirt with a crazy yet meaningless design on it and oversized buttons. Tell him not to bathe or shave for a month and overreact to everything.

The guy did the startled hop, and then threw his hands up in the air indicating that I am a fucking maniac recently escaped from a maximum security institution for the criminally insane.

What he didn’t know was that I was feeling very close to criminally insane at that moment, and it would be in his best interest to run along.

I did the obligatory “I’m sorry” shake of the head and holding up the hands for some reason. Body language that says “you’re right and I’m wrong. My bad. Sorry. Et cetera.”

That wasn’t enough for this guy. He stood there with a completely bewildered look on his face as if he was trying to fathom why I would leave my house today with the sole intention of killing him with my car. He was saying something and standing in front of my car, so I rolled down the window and said very exasperatedly “I’m SORRYYUH. I diddint MEAN TOOH. Please get out of the way-uh.”

He said “you almost HIT me……Man.” Like someone who has watched the big Lebowski a few too many times. “I mean…you could have KILLED someone…I’m just…ahh.” And he did the big dramatic look-around-and-take-a-breath thing.

“Dude…I said I’m sorry. I wasn’t looking…wait…Really? I don’t think you were almost killed or anything. I was barely moving and you were like a light year away. I could see your feet.”

“Yeah, but man… you…I mean you gotta’ watch it…Man…that was…woah.” Arms straight down, fingers splayed, trying to retain his grip on consciousness.

If you know me at all, you know it takes a LOT to make me raise my voice, and if I do, it is the last step before physical violence, which I am not really prone to fits of nor particularly good at. In fact, I doubt anyone I know has ever heard me yell as an adult. I didn’t grow up with yellers, and I’m not a yeller. But this guy was overdue for some verbal abuse.

“CHRIST…MAN. How much more of my day am I going to have to spend listening to you cry about this, you pussy?! I don’t give a runny shit if you are all out of balance about this – you didn’t even come close to getting hurt, and I ran out of apologies after the first two, so fuck off before things change here, okay?”

By now he had backed up between two cars, I guess thinking I was going to get out and chase him, which I was not. He said more stuff, but I couldn’t hear him because I rolled up my window and stopped caring. He also flipped me off as I drove away. It was the total hippie finger too – the one you see in those pictures from the sixties where the skinny little stinkbombs are flipping off the cops – straight arm, hunched shoulders, head lowered as if to direct more fuck off power through their hand. Just before they are mercifully and deservingly clubbed…

I briefly wondered what would happen when I returned my third shower curtain rod of the day.

“Hi Rich. Long time no see. I have to return this one too. It’s all bent and it has bits of hair and blood all over it. In an unrelated story, there is a dead guy in the parking lot.”

Installing the last shower rod was almost as fun as the first two, in that you had to hold it in place to mark the spot where the screws would go. This required a minimum of three hands. I finally got it in the right place with both hands, standing on the edge of the shower, and then realized that my pencil was on the floor. I did that exact same thing 3 times. I had long since resigned myself to the idea that everything I did today would be frustrating.

Finally I had it in place and marked the first screw hole. Then the little plastic plate fell off and bounced neatly into the toilet. As I lowered one end of the rod, the other end slipped from the wall, telescoped out, and fell into the bathtub making a horrible racket and causing me to fall off the tub and skin my knuckle on the countertop.

I know it’s not grown-up to lose one’s cool, but if ever there was a time I could have put my fist through a wall, that was it.

I actually left the condo and walked a block down the street, took a dozen deep breaths, and came back a few minutes later. I was smiling, but not because I was happy. I guess I knew that as soon as the burning fury subsided, I’d have a decent story to write.

I’m going to work out, and then I’m going to have a cold beer and think about how awesome tomorrow is going to be.

33 Responses to “Honey…if I pull that string, will a parachute pop out of your back?”

  1. on 20 Jul 2009 at 4:31 pm davejase

    Freakin Hilarious, Mr Scott- a little darker than normal!

  2. on 20 Jul 2009 at 4:35 pm davejase

    Just did some work at Redstone, hotter’n satan’s poop chute

  3. on 20 Jul 2009 at 6:01 pm warcrygirl

    You may as well go ahead and mentally punch me in the face because I’m totally pointing and laughing at you. Man.

  4. on 20 Jul 2009 at 6:12 pm Ellen

    heh heh heh… ‘don’t give a runny shit’ …. sorry man, gonna hafta steal that one lol..

  5. on 20 Jul 2009 at 6:12 pm warcrygirl

    Since I can’t leave you a comment for your wedding post I’ll leave it here:

    First of all, you got married wearing pants. Yay! Secondly, your niece looks like she’s pulling some Matrix moves.

    The pictures are absolutely beautiful! Congrats to you both!

  6. on 20 Jul 2009 at 6:50 pm Brandi

    I knew from the title that tampons were going to be involved.


  7. on 20 Jul 2009 at 6:56 pm MyFaultHole

    As much as I’ve enjoyed this immensely entertaining slop through the angry little swamp that is your day sometimes, I feel somewhat responsible for what’s happened.

    While reading your descriptions about the bathroom cabinets and toilet and shower and such, it occurred to me why I could picture it so well. Apart from your descriptive phrases such as “magically”, I know that place because I shat there a few times. Like viciously. Like 3 days worth of Skoolsplittah-and-Giant-Mexican-Burritos vicious.

    It’s possible, nay probable, that the foulness I released during that short time ate away at the drywall and shower rod adheriness juice, making your bathroom virtually unrecoverable.

    So, in shorter terms: I’m sorry I shat your bathroom to death, dude. Had a great time though.


  8. on 20 Jul 2009 at 8:14 pm Bekah

    It’s refreshing to see you writing on here again, semi-regularly.

    Along with Anthony Bourdaine, Maynard James Keenan, Chino Marino and Thom Yorke… You are someone who would be beyond awesome to meet before I die.

    Fan-girlish? Nah.
    Simple admiration of my favorite blogger? Yep.

    Keep it snazzy.

  9. on 20 Jul 2009 at 9:45 pm Bill

    Thanks for two things Dusty: One, writing again, and two, using light year as a measure of distance…I’d like to %&*$&*& strangle people who say things like “I haven’t seen you in a light-year”.

    As a 8 year landlord – I know, people are shit. I went into one of my rentals once, after the leeches had fled the county (after destroying everything they could not take with them – they even cut the electric cords on all devices, including a nice shop vac) I admired the death metal posters all over one bedroom…

    …then like a scene from Shawshank redemption, I realized each poster hid a massive hole in the dry wall…

    …luckily you are just doing it till you sell the place. Derelicts make the rental business one hell of a ride sometimes.

  10. on 21 Jul 2009 at 5:09 am The Dude

    I would have just tried to run over the guy after two apologies, man.

  11. on 21 Jul 2009 at 6:31 am Phil

    I usually just grab the first box of cotton ponies I see and one day, hopefully soon, she will get tired of receiving the wrong tampons and stop asking me.

    Your description of nailing a finish nail into a piece of wood with no support…man, that made me laugh and feel like there was not enough air in the room, all at the same time… I’ve been there too many times…

    Jax, FL

  12. on 21 Jul 2009 at 6:57 am Carlo

    Now that made me laugh like some of your “classic” posts,,, that confirmed me my suspects: you just weren’t gettin angry enough lately.

    About the hippie, I would have run over him so he could have a real reason to be mad at you,,,

  13. on 21 Jul 2009 at 7:02 am Ryan

    Great post, Dusty! As usual, you take your pain and create laughter for others.

    You would do well with a lemon tree…

    Man, I hate hippies!

  14. on 21 Jul 2009 at 7:25 am Max Girth

    You should have shown your Al Gore Lightbulb to Grayhemphippiedouche that way he would have known you were a brother; just as much a firing up a fattie with him an hating on the ‘gubment’.

    Well hating, except at check time that is…

    Nice to hear from you man.

  15. on 21 Jul 2009 at 7:37 am M.A.

    A CLASSIC, Dusty, and just what I needed this morning having my day START the way yours ended. Well, before the cold beer and stuff. THANK YOU!!! And a belated Congratulations to you, best wishes to the bride. Great entry on the wedding business — I wept. Of course.

  16. on 21 Jul 2009 at 7:50 am M.A.

    Hey, Dusty, sorry to bother you, but if you are in communication with SteveRubellHole, would you please see if he will let me into his rockin’ blog? Judd, if you’re reading this, DUDE. I miss you, loozah! ematyee @ gmail dot com.

  17. on 21 Jul 2009 at 8:10 am Clairebell

    Oh, I’ve been there. Which is why I laughed until I cried. Great read.

  18. on 21 Jul 2009 at 8:18 am Carlo

    Also, nice to see I’m not the only one to have certain kind of thoughts about the relation between the transmission one has in his car and his sex identity,,, mind you here in europe it’s mainly manuals and then there’s just a few autos, must be something with you americans,,, 😛

  19. on 21 Jul 2009 at 9:03 am HairMetalMistress

    Friction and hope – isn’t that really the wattle and daub of life, after all? What did you name the spotted owl, and for the love of all that is warm and buttery, WHAT DID YOU NAME THE CAT?!

  20. on 21 Jul 2009 at 9:46 am jjok

    pure excellence……

  21. on 21 Jul 2009 at 11:06 am AndyR

    Congratulations on the wedding… I am still laughing at the descriptions of the rental… What a riot!

  22. on 21 Jul 2009 at 12:28 pm UpNort

    I knew by the title what this was going to deal with. Fantastic title, Dusty!

    I don’t think I could or would ever ask a man to buy tampons or pads, for that matter. It wouldn’t be fair, not to mention, I wouldn’t want to embarrass him and I wouldn’t want him to be thinking in the same manner as Phil.

  23. on 21 Jul 2009 at 12:28 pm Nancy

    Everytime I see your new blog post on my rss feed it feels a bit like Christmas. Ü

  24. on 21 Jul 2009 at 1:47 pm Jeff Z

    Dusty – you have an uncanny knack of writing at the perfect times. My g-ma passed away recently, just as you uploaded your wedding post. I just read your new post during a break from helping my friend coordinate his wife’s funeral (she passed away over the weekend). Long story short, your misery makes me laugh (I mean your condo misery, not the wedding, of course) and made my day both times. So please keep screwing up horribly! You gave me a brief smile in an otherwise sucky 2 days! Jeff

  25. on 21 Jul 2009 at 2:09 pm Ernestine

    So, I once had a boyfriend offer to pick up tampoons for me, and I should’ve seen that wouldn’t end well.

    He called me from the drug store to ask me exactly how fucking hard I was bleeding, and what sort of shit was coming out of my cooch. “Would you say it’s more schmeggy, or more chunky?”

    For your wife’s sake, I’m glad that thought hadn’t crossed your mind.

  26. on 22 Jul 2009 at 1:00 pm Steve

    Thank the gods that getting married (many congrats on that, btw) has not dulled your edge any. I have more than a couple “simple home repair / why have I been to Home Depot 12 times today” stories m’self, so I feel your pain.

    Anyway, yea, Dusty’s back!

  27. on 22 Jul 2009 at 2:52 pm NanNanRhonda

    You are seriously one of the FUNNIEST writers i have ever come across! I kiss my mascara goodbye every time I read one of your posts!!! I am wheezy from laughing1 Please write more, and more often! By the way, how’s the cat?

  28. on 23 Jul 2009 at 2:21 am TLee007

    I second a couple of the others here Dusty, in the name of all that’s holy, what’s the name of the new furball? Hope there’s a story about it coming sometime soon. Only if one’s ready, that is.

    Can’t rush creativity. Least not with artists you can’t.

    Trent 🙂

  29. on 24 Jul 2009 at 8:31 am Aaron

    That sounds exactly like when I attempt to fix anything in my house. Good stuff.

  30. on 24 Jul 2009 at 10:26 am groundloop

    Hilarious. Just be grateful that between the trips to HD and the gift store you didn’t accidentally present your new bride with an extra fuzzy paint roller instead of the tampons. We’d be reading Sarah’s writing about how well it fit in your

  31. on 24 Jul 2009 at 1:13 pm jen

    The tampon trip… there’s no more mystery!

    But seriously, what did you name your cat?

  32. on 24 Jul 2009 at 3:16 pm curbcheck

    Wanted to tell you that I found your website during one of my husband’s previous deployments. (The spider in the shower time frame) Since then I forward your blog to him–usually while he’s in meetings. He absolutely hates me for making him laugh so hard he’s crying while the General at the front of the room is discussing landscaping. Well, he’s deployed again and I know he’s going to love this one. Thanks for giving at least one troop something to laugh and smile at. You rock.

  33. on 25 Jul 2009 at 6:49 am Jack

    Great stuff, as usual…don’t forget to feed your owl.