The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Airport layover fun
A discussion ensued today on a bulletin board regarding what we as travellers can do to waste time in an airport terminal while we wait for connecting flights. Sometimes, we are unfortunate enough to have to spend hours or even days in airports, for a flight that will deliver us from the Hellhole that is a crowded, unfriendly terminal.

Of course, everyone has their favourite time-wasters, so, I offer up these sane suggestions for passing the time and making the wait more bearable:

  • Card games (always a good one)
  • Short stories/periodicals/humour - things you can read in short bursts, get the whole story, put down, and pick up again later and start fresh
  • Needlepoint/embroidery/sketchpad and pencils (or knitting for you knitting buffs)
  • Shopping at the Duty Free
  • Sleep (on the floor using your purse as a pillow so that no one can touch it without you knowing about it)
  • Walk around - lots of it - check out every terminal - memorise where the bathrooms are located

Of course, once you have to sit around and kill time for more than four or five hours, your sanity level drops, and you have to think of more creative outlets for your energy, to which I offer these less sane, but more creative time-wasters:

  • Offer massages to strangers and make a few bucks
  • Run around the terminal yelling "my bra and knickers match!"
  • Pull out the didgeridoo / pan pipe / ukulele / bouzouki you bought as a souvenir, and start busking
  • Do a strip tease and offer to do lap dances for spare cash
  • Offer to spit polish businessmen's shoes. Use hand lotion for shoe polish.
  • Bore other passengers with tales of your boyfriend / girlfriend / work issues / what you had for breakfast that morning / your child's first poo / cute pet tricks / medical ailments

Not only will you entertain yourself and others, you might get on an earlier flight than expected. They don't call it a terminal for nothing. Waiting can be hell.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:40 PM - 0 comments
Grumpy old men
Something happens to a man when he hits middle age. He begins to go from impatient young dude to Intolerant Grumpy Old Man. I think this happens to most men by the time they hit 50. Sure, they still have the sense of humour when it suits them (like when they are flirting with pretty women,) but at home, behind the scenes, they are impatient, intolerant, and grumpy.

Most of the time, we women can ignore grumpy. Heck, most of us are famous for attacks of PMS bitchiness, but by about the time we get too old for PMS, our male counterparts have taken it on for themselves. They’re yelling at the newscasters, calling the ads on TV stupid and childish, rant at other drivers on the road, and want to send all tradespeople to hell in a broken washing machine.

Even Bob is grumpy.

My older women friends with retired husbands are being driven barmy by them. These guys do nothing but complain about everything all day. The husbands criticise the wives for wanting to be with their friends, spend time with the kids, and for not being able to pull the refrigerator out from the wall in order to dust behind it. Guys, who were managers during their career lives, suddenly need something else to manage and mold, and most of the time that means the wives.

Soon, though, the women find their husbands’ grumpiness rubbing off on them. Having a Grumpy Old Man for a husband tends to make one irritable. They suddenly realise that they are complaining (along with him) about things they never cared a fig about before. They start believing that all people are idiots and that no one knows how to drive. And tradespeople? You wouldn’t feed ‘em if they were starving. Heaven knows why this happens, but it does. Call it a Miracle of Nature: two bodies mestastasizing into one entity.

Next time you see a grumpy, miserable, complaining older couple, take pity on them. They are waiting for people to get smarter, the news to stop being so bleak, and for the washing machine repair person just to show up on the day that he says that he will.

My husband reminds me that he is not quite 50 and I have a three-year reprieve. Heaven help me.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:17 PM - 0 comments
Monday, December 26, 2005
Give me the simple life?
There's an ad running now on Aussie TV that employs some clever live action footage with a lot of CGI. It showcases several wild animals singing the old standard "Give Me the Simple Life," and that song has been stuck in my head for days. I thought perhaps it was my subconscious mind's way of telling me that my life is too complicated, too urbanized, and I need to simplify things a lot more.

Here are some of the lyrics to that song:

I don't believe in frettin' and grievin';
Why mess around with strife'
I never was cut out to step and strut out.
Give me the simple life.

A cottage small if all I'm after,
Not one that's spacious and wide.
A house that rings with joy and laughter
and the ones you love inside.

... Sounds corny and seedy, but yes, indeed-y;
Give me the simple life.

So I thought about this more thoroughly. In order to have "the simple life," I would have to give up my job in the city and move back to the country house that my husband and I are currently renting out to other suckers... er, people. That would get rid of my hectic commute on the trains every day, but it means that I will have no phone or electricity, since there isn't a place I can get a job nearby that doesn't pay more than a minimum wage. So, I can leave my job as an online marketing specialist, to work in a little country grocery store for less than half of what I'm making now - that's if there are any jobs that aren't already being filled by the owners' family members and friends. Country towns are why we have the word "nepotism."

So, that leaves me with a small commute, in a cold cottage with no heat or phone, and every month, trying to figure out how to pay the other bills. I suppose we could turn our back lawn into a salvage yard, like several of our neighbours have done. How attractive. Strike One.

Moving back out to the country and living the "simple life" means that I will no longer have a social life. Sure - there are people in the country, but they all go to bed by 9 pm and the ones that stay up later, hang out at the local RSL (Retired Servicemen's League) or bowling club, and play the poker machines and drink until the wee hours. Loads of fun, especially if you like retirees who smoke like chimneys, their second hand smoke, and the ensuing stinky hair and clothes at the end of the evening.

So, moving back out to the country and living the simple life also means becoming a recluse. Strike Two.

Living the simple life means giving up those things that cause irritation on a regular basis, like the car (city traffic and aggressive drivers) and neighbours (loud.) I can exchange those for being stuck in a country town, limited to places I can walk or bicycle to (a small grocey store, the post office, and bakery) and neighbours who are a little farther apart, but who are a lot nosier. Nothing to do in small towns, except gossip. Yep - that oughta take the stress levels up to maximum- that's if I can find something to do that might scandelize people. Lots of affairs going on in the country. Strike Three.

So, I guess I'll leave the Simple Life to the wild beasts of that commercial. I think the song is stuck in my head just because it has a silly catchy tune and the singing animals are cute. Damned if I can remember what they're advertising, though.
posted by Melanie O. at 10:56 AM - 0 comments
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Never get your husband to wash the car
My darling husband volunteered to wash the car for me today. Because it's parked in the shade of a small tree, it is the unwitting recipient of numerous bird droppings. Which is a nuisance when you're recovering from a drought and there are strict restrictions on water usage. You can wash a car, but only if you use buckets. No hoses allowed.

So, after we got back from grocery shopping, my husband decided to get out all of the necessary items for washing the car. The Maguire's car wash, a big bucket, and the mega sized sponge I bought a couple of years ago just for washing cars. Except that the mega sponge was nowhere to be found.

I suggested that Dan look under the kitchen sink, which was its last known hiding spot. Instead of rummaging around under the sink, my husband decided to rearrange the contents of what was there. He discovered a small tool used for tightening the faucet, and had to take a momentary break to use it. He also rearranged my pot holders, tea towels, cleaning supplies, and food wraps. Total time lapsed, 20 minutes.

He then pulled out heaps of plastic bags, the quantity of which could supply a small grocery store, that we had no idea had accumulated over the past months. I walked out into the kitchen to get myself a Diet Coke, and discovered my husband buried under a mound of shopping bags. He did stop his rummaging for a moment to show me the recovered faucet-tightening tool and explained its use on the faucet. I respectfully listened and then promptly forgot its proper use.

I opened the fridge to get my drink, and he requested "me, too." So, I poured both him and myself a glass of Diet Coke, and I set his on the counter top, where I was sure it would be out of his way, as he sat, on the floor, buried in mounds of plastic grocery bags.

Five minutes later, as I sat doing some sewing repairs in another room, I heard an almighty crash, followed by a stream of yelling and curse words. To any other person, you might think that Dan had just accidentally chopped off his arm. No, he had reached up to the counter from his spot on the floor, to boost himself up, grabbed the Coke by the rim of the glass, and pulled the glass and its contents downward with full force. The glass bounced gracefully off the rim of the bucket and landed on the one spot on the kitchen floor that was NOT covered in plastic bags, where it shattered and sprayed everything with Diet Coke.

To add insult to injury, he didn't find the sponge. I described it to him and said I was sure that I had put it away under the sink.

"Oh - THAT sponge?" he asked. "I brought that to work with me one day to clean my truck and it's still sitting inside it."

After my eyes stopped rolling, he went and filled the bucket with soap and water and proceeded to wash the car. His actions were interspersed with several outbursts:

"This is stupid! You can hose your lawn but you have to use a bucket to wash your car. Why can't you put your car on the lawn and use the hose? Oh no - politicians don't think that way."

"Bloody ridiculous! There's hardened bird crap all over the car. Do you think I can get it off with just a bucket of water?"

"I have to wash with a bucket of water, but I have to use a bloody PITCHER to rinse the soap off!"

"I am not having a good day. I just dropped the sponge in the bucket of soapy water, and soap just splashed up all over my glasses!"

I don't know if he does this to entertain me, or to make me feel sorry for him. If it's to entertain me, he has his perfected his methods. If it's to make me feel sorry for him .... heh-heh! It's still entertaining!

The car looks great now. It's tidy and organised under the sink. I think it's safe now to pour him another glass of Diet Coke.
posted by Melanie O. at 4:04 PM - 1 comments
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Coffee: the devil's brew
I never used to drink coffee, mainly for religious reasons that are no longer relevant in my life, plus the fact that the watered down stuff they sell in the USA is just plain nasty (even if it does smell heavenly.) But about four years ago, after I moved to Australia, I decided to try authentic barista coffee.

At first, I was bewildered by the array of styles of coffee: espresso (the basic,) and macchiato. From there it was cappuccino and latté, as well as flat white and long black. For the fanciful, you could choose a mocha, a cafe Vienna, or a coffee frappe. I was instantly hooked. Soon, I found that I needed a barista style coffee every morning in order to wake up. Coffee became one of those indulgences that was perfectly social and acceptable. I was paying outrageous amounts for a measly cup of coffee.

To be honest, I didn't care that I was paying as much for a cup of coffee as some people pay for a sandwich, until, I noticed that a) I was gaining weight, and b) it was mainly in my boobs. Now, I had heard a story about a woman who had increased her breast size from a B to a D cup in a year by purely drinking three cappuccinos a day, but I thought it was purely urban legend. No - no Urban Legend. I am living proof.

I remember those little Italian grandmothers back in my home state of New York with their large bosoms and thought "that will never be me. I'm not Italian." But I think I've figured it out. It's because of barista coffee! Now I can't find clothes that fit me properly. They are either nice and fitted in the waist, with the buttons popping open across my chest, or they fit me across the chest, and make me look like I'm in my second trimester of pregnancy. I think I will have to invest in a sewing machine.

Ladies - forgo those breast implants. Just stay on a steady diet of cappuccinos and flat whites and your breasts will increase at least two cup sizes.

Oh PLEASE. Make it stop! I'm hoping that if I quit cold turkey, my boobs won't get any larger. I already feel lopsided. My top half is a size larger than my bottom half. The laws of physics are laughing at me. Husband likes it, though. I guess there's an upside to everything.

posted by Melanie O. at 8:49 PM - 0 comments
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Ho...ho...freakin' Ho

The Christmas season is upon us, now that we've entered the month of December, and unlike the USA, Australia's Christmas TV Specials are next to non-existent. I'm not quite sure why this is. Maybe they don't like spunky reindeer who hang out with dentist elves. Or maybe the people in charge of programming fear that Aussie kids will all want Red Ryder BB guns from Santa.

It's my experience, however, that there are a few Clark Griswolds out there who would appreciate the humour of Christmas Vacation, and kids who'd love to see re-runs of Home Alone. I anticipated this dearth of TV holiday cheer, and so, when I packed up to move out to the land of Christmas in Summer, I made sure to bring my VHS copies of all the Christmas Specials that I love and have watched, religiously, since as long as my parents allowed me to stay up late enough to watch them.

Most of these time-honoured specials are now classics. Why wouldn't any parent want their kid to watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess? The animation style rivals the good Dr's own illustrations, and the late, great Boris Karloff narrates it as only he could have, while Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, sings the title song.

Next, the earliest special I ever remember watching: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which actually came out a couple of years before the Blizzard of '66. It actually had already become an annual special before I was old enough to view it. Who wouldn't love Rudolph and his misfit pals, like Hermey the Elf, who wanted to practise dentistry instead of making toys? Trust an elf to know a good career opportunity when he sees one. And of course, Yukon Cornelius and his motley team of sled dogs that consisted of a border collie, poodle, cocker spaniel, a couple of terriers, and the oddball chihuahua. Ol Yukon tamed the Abominable Snowman, with the help of Hermey, but I don't know if he ever struck gold while prospecting at the North Pole. These are questions a kids asks him or herself years later. With Rudolph, there is no closure for Yukon Cornelius - that's why I have to watch it every year and force my husband to watch it too, so that he gets all of the "in" jokes in the movie Elf.

Another classic kids' special is Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown - probably the one animated classic that actually manages to capture the spirit of the season. Watching it, I become nostalgic for my childhood. I used to sing in the school chorus when I was a child, and we'd go caroling in the snow around the neighbourhood, where the old folks would listen politely and then shut the door in our faces after wishing us a "Merry Christmas." The school auditorium and stage seemed huge to us kids. As an adult who returned years later, everything sadly, seemed so much smaller. However, I can thank Charles Schultz for taking me back to my childhood: the school Christmas concert, our church's Advent services and Christmas play, skating on the frozen lake, and even the tacky neighbourhood light displays which I now miss dearly.

There are other kids' specials that I watch every year, as an homage to the animation genre: Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Year without a Santa Claus amongst them, but they can't beat the Big Three.

Other movies, that are religiously run on US television over the season, have made their way, one by one, into my film library. They include the first two (and only ones worth seeing) Home Alone movies. I have to remind myself that Macaulay Culkin used to look and act like a normal kid. Some of my Christmas movies are humourous: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has inspired my husband to decorate our house with lights. He never did that until I came into his life and indoctrinated him. The Ref is sassy, but funny. Who would have believed that the sweet mother in Mary Poppins could become such a bitch in her old age? "Lady, your husband didn't die. He's in hiding!" And Scrooged with Bill Murray is like watching an old Saturday Night Live Christmas Special with a sprinkle of pixie dust from the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Some of them are inspirational in a big nostalgic way. I love A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim - the one production that truly follows Dickens' story. Then there's It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. I don't think it's any accident that all three of these films are in black and white. They were done in a day when the story and the acting was paramount over special effects and fancy sets. A Christmas Story manages to capture that same sense of nostalgia, even though it was done in the mid '80's. "Ralphie! You get down here right now! And I mean it!" Back then, Moms weren't trying to be their kids' best friends. Moms were Moms: "Besides, you'll shoot your eye out." And Dads were Dads: "@#*&%! *^$#@+~!"

A couple are musicals. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye tap-tap-tapping their way into White Christmas, and it's become a Christmas Eve tradition to watch Scrooge with Albert Finney. Christmas and music just go together, like Rosemary Clooney and sandwiches.

My husband and I have our favourite mutual choices: The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2. Of course, they are favourites for different reasons: him - because he relates to Tim Allen's simian man-humour, and me, because I think Santa is H.O.T.

Some movies aren't really Christmas movies, but are themed around Christmas, like Love Actually and Serendipity. But really, when you think about it, Christmas is one of the best times for showing people that you love them, and bringing cheer into others' lives. It's also the best time of year for being grumpy and miserable, which brings me to my last item:

Not all holiday specials should be remembered. One, in particular, I should probably forget, but it's so bad, it's funny - and charming in its simplistic way. It was repopularized by MST3K and originally aired in 1964, the same year as Rudolph. But instead of giving us the innocence of childhood, kids in 1964 were bombarded by threats from Outer Space and Russians. It was, after all, the beginning of the Space Race. So, here's my homage to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians:

Hooray for Santy Claus!
You spell it S-a-n-t-a-c-l-a-u-s Hooray for Santy Claus!

Hooray for Santy Claus!
Yeah yeah for Santy Claus
He's fat and round, but jumpin' jiminy
He can climb down any chim-neyyyy

When we hear sleigh bells ring
Our hearts go ting-a-ling
'Cause there'll be presents under the tree
Hooray for Santy Claus!

Now all year long at the North Pole
He's busy making toys but he knows
Just what you're doing
so you better be good girls and boys

Hang up that mistletoe
Soon you'll hear ho ho ho
On Christmas day you'll wake up and you'll say
Hooray for Santy Claus!
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
Hooray for Santy Claus!

Hang up that misteltoe
soon you'll hear ho ho ho
on Christmas day you'll wake up and you'll say
Hooray for Santy Claus!
S-a-n-t-a-c-l-a-u-s Hooray for Santy Claus!
You spell it S-a-n-t-a-c-l-a-u-s Hooray for Santy Claus!
Hooray for Santy Claus! Hooray for Santy Claus!

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a few good tunes, and a few good Specials - even if I have to crank up the old VHS player to watch them. A bit of nostalgia is as good as a Happy Pill.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:33 PM - 0 comments

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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