Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Scientific Method

I have pink toilet bowls. Not that they're supposed to be. They're not. In fact, they're supposed to be white -- your standard toilet bowl color. But mine are covered in about a quarter-inch of pinkish funk.

I know. Gross.

You may, at this point, be wondering A.) what in the world has caused this disgustingness, and B.) why in the world I would broadcast it to the public at large. Well, we in the Kafsky household, are in the middle of a colossal scientific experiment. An experiment that may just blow the minds of geneticists world-wide. Because you see, Internet, it would appear that I'm the only person in this household who knows how to flush. I have no idea why this is. Perhaps the inability to flush a toilet lies on the Y chromosome. Perhaps you have to be in possession of a uterus to actually be put off by urine fermenting in a toilet all day. And perhaps it is because I'm in possession of that double X chromosome that I'm driven not only to flush, but also to actually scrub a toilet once it starts to become unsightly.

Given the likelihood of the possibilities, I decided to conduct a real, true scientific experiment. That's right. The real deal. I'm using the scientific method, and I plan on reporting my findings to the United Scientists of America. Or maybe just to my other mommy-friends. We'll see.......

In order to be authentic and concordant with facts, we are doing this sucker by the book. Here is your exclusive inside peek at the scientific method at work:

1. Ask A Question:
As the sole possessor of a uterus, am I the only human being in this household who is bothered by funky toilet bowls to the extent that I will clean them?

2. Construct a Hypothesis:
Because I am an eternal optimist, I will hypothesize that those in my household who are in possession of a Y chromosome -- and thus not in possession of a uterus -- will, if given ample opportunity, take on the cleaning of the progressively funky toilet bowls in question. (I mean surely - FOR THE LOVE OF GOD - another member of my household will notice the filth and see fit to clean them.)

3. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment:
I shall ignore the condition of the toilets in question for an extended period of time -- let's say 3 weeks so they have ample time to get good and disgusting-- what with all the non-flushing and marinating in urine thing they all have going on. During this time period, while I shall not initiate any cleaning, I will do my part by continuing to flush as usual.

4. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion:
Analysis: At the conclusion of the assigned 3 week time period, there continues to be a quarter-inch of pinkish slime coating the inside of all 3 toilet bowls in our household. There has been no attempt on the part of anyone in possession of a Y chromosome to rectify this situation, nor has there been any significant evidence that they have even noticed that they pee into filth. I, as the conductor of this experiment, find this to be completely baffling, being that the possessors of the Y chromosomes STAND UP TO PEE, and thus STARE INTO THE TOILET BOWL 18 TIMES A DAY.
Conclusion: Those in possession of a Y chromosome - and thus no uterus - seem to be incapable of detecting when, exactly, a toilet bowl is in serious need of a good scrubbing. Indeed, contrary to my stated hypothesis, given plenty of time and ample opportunity, they seem to be completely oblivious to filth in the bathroom. And if not oblivious, certainly not motivated to clean it.

5. Communicate Your Results:
Me: "I cleaned the toilets today because I couldn't take it anymore."
Mike: "Yeah..... They were pretty disgusting..."

Nobel Peace Prize -- Here I come............

Monday, March 23, 2009

When Facebook reunions go awry.....

I love Facebook. Love it. In the first year that I'd created my account, I spent a good chunk of time checking in every single day in any spare minute I had. My husband made fun of me, but I was enthralled. What was everyone up to? Who might show up in my in-box next? It was perfect for a small town girl -- the equivalent of rounding the grocery store isle and coming face to face with someone you grew up with, but probably haven't seen or spoken to in 15 years. If you have a Facebook account, you know what I mean.... Every time someone new pops up it's like: "HOLY COW! JOE SCHMOE!!!! What are you doing here? How have you been? What have you been up to? Where do you live? Are you married? Do you have any kids?" And you spend a few Facebook sessions chatting, or posting on each other's walls, looking through their pictures and piecing together the past few years. Stumbling into all these old friends and acquaintances was a blast -- and I ate it up. And then one day, while surfing through all my "friends" I made a fantastic discovery. A girl I went to school with lived right here in Charlotte! And not just anywhere in Charlotte...... Really close! No more than a fifteen minute drive. I immediately pointed this out to her in a wall post, and we went to work making plans to try to get together.

As it happens -- because we all have busy lives -- it took us at least 3 tries over a 2 month span to actually pull it off. But one sunny Sunday, we managed to connect at Outback for lunch. Mike was working, and her significant other was out of town, so of course we each brought our kids -- all boys. Mine ages 6 and 4. Hers, age 3. It was a fun - yet mildly chaotic - reunion, as it tends to be anytime kids are crowded around a public table. We did our best to catch each other up on the past decade and a half, in between placing orders, making bathroom runs, and corralling young children bored by our banter. After about an hour at the restaurant, we'd managed to have about 15 minutes worth of a conversation.

"Is there a park near here?" I asked. I felt like we were just getting started, and I wasn't really ready to wrap it up. We debated for a while about where the best place to go might be, and then I finally said "You know, I live close to here. It's a beautiful afternoon, why don't we pick up some beer and hang out at my house. We can hang out in the backyard and the kids can play." We agreed that it sounded like a good plan, we got into our cars, and she followed me to my house. We spent the afternoon indulging in a few cold ones, catching each other up on our lives, and gossiping about high school. The kids played in the yard, climbed trees, and pretended to be spies -- crawling around us on their bellies. It was fun.

It was an unseasonably warm day and one O'clock turned into three O'clock, which turned into five O'clock. I invited her to stay for dinner. "We have plenty" I said. "Y'all are more than welcome to eat with us. And you can meet my husband." We moved into the kitchen so I could put the pots on the stove, get the pasta started, and sautee onions and garlic for the sauce while we chatted. When Mike called to say he was on his way home, I filled him in on our afternoon, and then told him that I'd invited my friend and her son to stay and eat with us.

A few minutes later Mike came in the door and I introduced him to my friend from high school. He shook her hand and told her it was nice to meet her. She returned the greeting, then turned back to our conversation. We'd been talking about a guy we'd grown up with, and she'd been telling me that she'd always had a crush on him. We'd been giggling about it right before Mike came in, and the conversation steered right back to where we'd left off. Except that the conversation took a turn I wasn't expecting. "I always thought he'd have the biggest d*ck!" she spouted. "I mean, I totally would have F*&#ed him."

"WHAT!?" I turned and looked at her, and then shot a surprised look over at my husband. He turned and left the room. And then I laughed -- sort of nervously -- because I was so incredibly uncomfortable with what just happened. And did I mention that her 3 year old son was sitting on the couch 10 feet away? Well, he was.

And that right there should have been the first indication that this entire evening was about to go straight into the shitter. That everything was about to go terribly, horribly wrong. But in my eternal optimism, I reasoned with myself that it was just a slip -- I mean everyone has one now and then, right? And that surely she realized how inappropriate her comment was. Perhaps it was an attempt to be funny..... And when your jokes fall flat, you quit telling them, right? Right?

She followed Mike outside, and I got dinner on the table. I set the kitchen table for the adults, and set the table on the back patio for the kids. I thought they'd like to eat out there, and having them out of ear-shot would settle my nerves. But, of course, once we all started eating they came inside. "We want to eat with you!" they announced. I could tell that Mike didn't like the idea, but he was silent about it. Me? I didn't particularly like the idea either but I also didn't want to create a big scene. I mean the kids were oblivious to the rising tension -- as was my friend -- and I wanted to keep it that way. I figured that we'd shuffle some chairs around, shovel food into everybody, and then get them out the door to put an end to the rapidly deteriorating evening.

But the pasta was hot. Way too hot for the kids. I knew it would be, because in my haste to get this all done and over-with, I'd accidentally spilled the red-pepper flakes. The recipe calls for a few, but there were lots. I'd scooped out as many as I could, and added some more broth to try to even it out, but to no avail. It was on fire. And the kids were all complaining about it.

"You know.....It's OK. You don't have to eat it." I said. "Maybe just eat the tomatoes......" But even that wasn't working very well. "It's HOT!" they all protested. Her 3 year-old started crying a little.

"It's not that bad! Just eat it! Just eat it you pu$$y!" she yelled at him. Mike's head snapped up. I stared at her in disbelief. Did she just call her 3 year old something completely vulgar at my dinner table?! And then, to my utter dismay, and apparently just for good measure, she repeated herself. "STOP IT!" I said. "STOP SAYING THAT!!" Then, she stood up from the table, stared at her little boy, and cocked her fist back like she was going to hit him. He cowered a little, and she laughed, because you know, it's absolutely hilarious to pretend like you're going to punch your child.
"Eat it!" she said. "Shut up and Eat it you little pu%^y!"

Mike pushed his chair back from the table, and said in the quietest most steely voice I've ever heard "I am taking our kids to get ice cream, because we are getting the Hell out of here. Call me when this mess is cleaned up." I nodded in complete agreement and the two of us jumped up from the table. "All done?" I asked, as I swiped plates and dumped them in the garbage. "Here, let me get that for you..." In less than 5 seconds I had cleared the table, scraped the plates into the trash can, and stacked them by the sink. Mike leaned over my shoulder, "Rach," he said into my ear "You can't let her drive..... She's hammered. She's completely out of control. She'll kill somebody. And she can't drive with her little boy..."
"Don't worry..." I whispered. "I won't let her get behind the wheel.... Just get the kids out of here. I'll call you as soon as she's gone."

Mike swept the kids out of the house, loaded them into the car, and disappeared down the street. I went back into the house and then out the back door to find my friend, who had wondered out of the house in her stupor. "Let me call Brian." I said. "Let me have him come and get you." She sank down on the back step. "Please don't call him." she begged. "Please....... He hates me."
"He doesn't hate you....." I tried to reassure her.
"Yes he does." She cried. "He hates me for who I am...." And then she dissolved in tears right there on the back step.

I did my best to console her, and then dug the phone book out of the closet to start calling cab companies. After a few calls, I found someone who was in our area and who agreed to schedule the pick-up. In the meantime, she took a phone call from her boyfriend who I can only assume accused her of being out and drunk, because she protested again and again, and then insisted over and over again that she was just sitting at home. I wondered how she thought she was going to pull that off.

I checked my watch - it was 7:00pm - and speculated about how long it might take the cab to get here. I cleaned the kitchen while she wandered aimlessly out into the back yard. And as I loaded the dishwasher and counted the minutes dragging by, I heard her yelling at her little boy. She called him profane names because he was whiny, because he was tired, and because he wouldn't stand up. Names, by the way, that all my neighbors could hear through their open windows.

I took her keys and moved her car out onto the street. Then we stood together in the front yard and I explained that I'd called a cab -- that it would be here any minute. "You just can't drive, OK? You can get your car tomorrow......." She thanked me for calling a cab, and then tried to sit down on the edge of the flowerbed to wait. But instead of sitting down, she fell over. I helped her up, and we sat for a minute until the cab pulled up in front of the house.

Her son was understandably worried about getting into the cab with a strange man. He cried, and squirmed, and tried to get away from the unfamiliar car we were trying to put him into. She struggled with him, and he cried harder.
"Can you open the other door?!" I asked the driver. I'm sure I looked desperate. I was. The driver clicked the button and told me it was open. I crawled through the back to help her son calm down and help him sit in his seat.
"Hey buddy", I forced a smile at him. "It's OK. This man is going to take you to your house. He's going to drive you home." He stared at me with his earnest little brown eyes and stopped crying. I smiled harder. "I'm going to buckle you into this seat belt, and this nice man is going to drive you home. OK?" He nodded. "It's going to be OK, alright buddy? Everything is going to be OK." He nodded, and smiled, and that's what did me in. Because I was telling this child that everything was going to be OK, when I was pretty sure it wasn't. I mean, he'd get home safely.....that much was true. But I felt pretty sure that there was no way on God's green Earth that everything was going to be OK.

They pulled away and I walked back into my house as drained as one person can possibly be. How did she manage to drink so much without me realizing it? How did I manage to be so caught off guard? How did I not recognize that she was getting so out of control? But honestly, it was like a switch flipped the minute Mike walked in the door, and this whole other person emerged from her body. It was horrible. And the fact that her 3 year-old was caught in the middle of this horrendous experience? It was too much.

I called Mike to tell him she was gone and he told me that they hadn't ordered yet, so I went to meet them. The boys were thrilled about being at the ice-cream store, and chattered excitedly about which flavor and topping they were going to get. Mike put his arm around me, and I stood there running the last hour through my mind and trying hard not to cry in public. It took me days to shake it off -- to get rid of that awful pit in my stomach. In fact, I'm not really sure I have.

As it stands now, I don't log into Facebook as often as I used to. And these days, when I do, I do it with a little cringe. It's lost it's luster. The excitement I once had about re-connecting with people I grew up with has been replaced by a feeling of trepidation. Instead of being fun and carefree, I wonder what kind of can of worms I might be unintentionally cracking the lid on.

So if I see you on Facebook, I might chat you up a little. Perhaps I'll even send you an email. But don't be offended if I don't invite you over for a beer.