Saturday, April 3, 2021

Doctor Q’Anon and ApacheDug in “Don’t do drugs”

My mailman woke me up Good Friday morning.  I was sitting upright on the end of my couch, still wearing my clothes (and shoes) from Thursday and snoring away when my phone rang and jolted me awake.

I picked it up and whispered “Hello?”   I got back “Hi Doug it’s Jim.  I’m downstairs.”  I said “Is Shawn & Sophia with you?”  (My sister Shawn’s husband’s name is Jim.)   He said “I don’t know who you mean.  Doug, it’s your mail carrier.”   I said “Oh!  I’m sorry Jim… how did you get my number?”  He said “I didn’t.  I’m down here in the lobby.  I pressed your buzzer.”

(To be honest, it’s been so long since anyone’s pressed my buzzer I forgot that it’s connected to my landline.  Also, I could only get my eyelids half open; I was dealing with some VERY heavy brain fog.)

I said “Do you need something Jim?”  He said “I wanted to let you know you left your mask down here.”  I said “How do you know it’s mine?  It’s… not embroidered with my name or anything.”  He said “It was in your mailbox.”  I said Oh.  He added “along with your wallet.”   WHAT.  I told him I’d be right down.

When I stood up my knees wobbled and I plopped back down.  Easy now… as I got back up again, it began coming back to me.  The day before, Thursday, I’d been to my conservative dentist.  (My friend Danielle calls her Doctor Q’Anon.)   It had been an early appointment, at 9am.   So why was I still dressed for it?   Because when it was scheduled a couple weeks ago, my lovely dentist had given me two blue football-shaped pills and said “Take the first one an hour before your next appointment, and the second one right after we’re done.” When I asked what they were, she said “Alprazolam.  Douglas you are way too tense & serious a patient, and your next visit is going to be 3-4 hours long.  I want you to be relaxed and happy, okay?”

Sure… who doesn’t want to be relaxed & happy?   So on Thursday morning at 8am I took the first pill.  After that… I have a dreamy memory of my doctor wearing a plastic shield on her face and promising to email me her photo, and holding a tray of tiny toys.  And laughter, lots of laughter.   My next memory was Dr. Q’s front receptionist asking if I had a ride home and me saying I only lived a bunny hop, skip & jump away.

More laughter and me promising I was going straight home.  It was all hazy & dreamlike.

When I opened my front door to go downstairs, there was a white Rite-Aid bag on my welcome mat.  I picked it up and looked inside.  A 2-pack of Bounty paper towels and a quart of very warm milk.  I have ZERO memory of going to Rite-Aid!  I looked at the receipt inside, it says I bought these items yesterday at 1:44PM.   It also says DAWN DISHWASH DETER on the slip but there’s no Dawn in here; I’ll be damned, someone came along & stole it!  

I set the bag inside then proceeded downstairs to get my mask & wallet.  When I saw Jim the Mailman, he joked “Late night?”  and then told me my chest was glowing.  Sure enough, in my breast pocket was a brightly lit ghost ring.  Dr. Q’s tray of tiny toys….  it was rubbery and I squeezed it and it shut off.

When I came back upstairs, groggy as hell and shaking my head, I saw my answering machine was now blinking.  I pressed PLAY and heard “Hi Doug, it’s Nina from Dr.P’s office?  She said if we don’t hear back from you, she’s sending in the cavalry.  She also said your mouth is going to be plenty sore for a few days, she did repairs to 8 teeth.  Get back to us by noon if possible, okay?”

That’s when it hit me… owww my mouth WAS plenty sore.  I went to my refrigerator to get a glass of juice, and right there on the top shelf was a brand new bottle of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid.

I shudder to think what I said or did for this nifty ghost ring.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Chen’s Red Shoes & other Asians I’ve known

For as long as I’ve lived at my address, I’ve known an Asian man (more specifically, Chinese) who lives here too, but I’m unsure which floor he’s on.  He’s younger than me by 10-15 years, but we’re the same height & build (5’8” and chubby) and I share that because I wonder if that’s the reason he’s so friendly with me.  He always greets me the same way—“Haha, hey!  Hi!” like we’re old acquaintances who haven’t seen each other for awhile. 

Let me think… should I know him from somewhere?  Nope, I don’t think so!

Friday I was coming home from a dental appointment, feeling pretty… relaxed from the Valium my doc gave me, when I saw my Chinese man outside.  He was holding an iphone in one hand and a cigarette (yuk) in the other, and was wearing the reddest pair of Adidas shoes I’ve ever seen.  He saw me and waved, and I thought of the recent ugly headlines of attacks on Asian Americans, so instead of just waving back I approached him and said “Hey there!  I like your shoes!” 

He smiled and nodded at me, but I could see the confusion in his eyes.  Maybe he didn’t speak a lot of English?   I pointed down at his feet and said “Very cool!” and gave him a thumbs up, and I think this time he got it, because he said “Hank you!!”  I said “I’m Doug!”  and he said “Chen!” and we just stood there nodding and smiling.  I said “Well… bye!” and came inside.  He followed me in, and as I checked my mail he said “Doug!” and held up his phone.  On it’s screen was a pair of his red shoes, on a website called Zappos. 

I thanked him, but yikes—they were priced at $94.00!

I read recently that Asians make up 60% of the people on our planet; how is it that I can count on two hands the number of them I’ve known in my life personally?  Growing up in my hometown of Waynesburg PA, there wasn’t an Asian in my school to be found.  Come to think of it, we didn’t even have a Chinese restaurant until I’d moved away!  The only Asian I knew back then was Mrs. Livingston, a Japanese woman who helped raise a widower’s son on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

“Mister Eddie Father not come home for dinner again?  Little Eddie need more than nourishment to grow up and be a man.  He need… his father!” 

Not including the Asians I know online (bloggers Kay of Musings and Gigi-Hawaii), I’ve gotten to know probably 10 Asians total in my years in the city.

A few of them instantly come to mind like Gao Y., a Chinese woman I worked with in 1989 at my first IT job in Pittsburgh.  Her husband was a professor at nearby Pitt University, and she only moved here from Beijing a few years earlier (yet spoke English fluently).  She gave me ‘lunch lectures’ on everything from where to buy soup downtown to what type of girl I should marry.  And then there was Ping C., a VERY petite Japanese coworker in her fifties who sat “over the wall” from me.  She ate things like raw eel or octopus wrapped in seaweed everyday for lunch, and one time when I called out “Ping, can’t you eat something that doesn’t smell like mildew?” she cackled and said “Just wait!  I’m going to live to be 200 and show you all!” 

I very much believed it. 

But I’d have to say my favorite was Andy H., a Vietnamese man I met my first day on the job at UPMC Health Plan in November 2000.  He was considerably younger than myself, and his business attire was the same as his sense of humor—VERY sharp.  He loved to taunt you, but it was all in good fun; Andy didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

He called me Doug-Luss or White-Boy (when we were alone), and he’d come to my desk on Fridays and say things like “What are you doing this weekend white boy, sitting in front of your tv for 2 days and eating cereal?  I’m taking my wife to best steakhouse in town—then picking up our NEW MERCEDES SUV on way home!”

A couple years ago when I saw Crazy Rich Asians, all I could think of was Andy  Smile

One time in early 2001, when “political correctness” was all the rage in the corporate sector, UPMC was offering torturous 3 hour training classes throughout the week on being PC.  You weren’t required to attend unless your manager asked you to, but Andy chose to go one morning to score points with our boss. 

After Andy was through, he came over to my desk and told me if I knew what was good for me, I’d attend the next session.  I joked back “I’m already the most pc worker in this office, go sit your commie ass down.”  Not TWO seconds later, our manager came around the corner and Andy said “Len—did you hear what this white boy just said to me!” 

Len said to Andy “What did you just say?”  Andy said “I SAID, did you hear what this—I mean Doug-Luss” and Len stopped him.  He asked “When’s the next PC training?”  and Sarah (who sat one row over) told him that afternoon.  Len said “Andy you’re going.”  Andy said “But I just GOT BACK from one!” and Len said “Then maybe this time you’ll listen!” 

After Len walked away, we all had a good laugh—even Andy, who swore he’d get his revenge. 

Hmm, I want to look money like Andy--maybe I’ll buy Chen’s pricey red shoes after all!



Thursday, March 18, 2021

Once upon a time, a seven year old princess turned into this amazing young woman

Recently, my sister Shawn sent this pic of my 16 year old niece Sophia (holding her cat Flynn) and I asked “So Sophia is still wearing fake glasses as a fashion accessory?”

For as long as I can remember, my niece here who has perfect vision, perfect weight, perfect grades, perfect EVERYTHING has enjoyed wearing glasses to look… I dunno, a little more ordinary. 

Anyway, my sister told me I’d be happy to know her glasses were real, they were made to filter out blue light from various electronic devices Sophia spends so much time in front of; her smartphone, tablet, her laptop for school.  Ah, ok.  

I feel like such an old-timer sometimes, how in the world did we grow up without all the contraptions we take for granted today?  Last night I watched a video on Youtube “The Dial Comes to Town”, a 1940 instructional video from Bell Telephone on how to dial the new telephones.  “Instead of hearing an operator say ‘Number please’ you will hear what we like to call… a dial tone!”   One local teen is excited:  “It’s about time, our candlestick phone is positively prehistoric!”   (She got that right!)

Meanwhile, Gramps insists there’s too many gadgets to fuss with as it is.  (Not to worry, he comes around at the end.)  And the irony of all this is… today’s kids don’t know how to use a dial phone either.  They don’t need to, they’re busy constructing various devices for NASA missions to Mars! 

Wait, where the heck was I even going with this?  Oh yeah, my niece Sophia here!  Seeing this picture of Sophia, and the twinge of guilt I got recently for posting a Randy Rainbow music video on my blog (it’s his creation, not mine) made me think of a music video I once made for Sophia, when she was 7 years old and enjoyed dressing up as a princess… and her Uncle Doug was a litle more familar with technology.

I shared it on my blog then, 9 years ago…  I thought I’d share it again.  If you watch it, just a warning:  this is from 2012, I had no smartphone or movie apps then, just a Kodak digital camera and Windows Editor on my prehistoric computer!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Now that my oven is perfect… I DON’T WANT TO USE IT EVER AGAIN

How often do you clean your oven?  If you’re one of those privileged people who have a self cleaning stove where you simply press a button, wait and scoop out some cinders…. brag away!  (I’ll just sit here and scowl…)

I think I keep a pretty clean apartment.  Sometimes I’ll wash all the mugs & glasses in my cupboard, all my silverware & utensils in my utensil canister just to be super-squeaky.  My one mess up though is my stove.  I keep the top part sparkling, but if you opened the oven door… my reputation would be sunk. 

I knew it was time to clean it this past Sunday morning, when I put a pan of Pillsbury cinammon rolls in there for 15 minutes and the apartment smelled like chicken grease for the rest of the day.  Okay it’s been doing that for a couple of years now.

I went on Amazon Monday morning to look at my ordering history, I wanted to see when I bought a couple of those silicone baking sheets to put in the bottom of my stove when it was clean.  Then I’d know when I last cleaned it. 

Ah—April 10, 2017.  That wasn’t the last time I cleaned it—that was the day I moved into this apartment.  I’ve been here close to 4 years and never cleaned that dang oven.

When I moved out of my old apt, I was told half of my security deposit would be kept to have the carpet and oven cleaned.  Wha??

I sent them pics of the steam cleaner I rented and the inside of this 1972 General Electric stove I cleaned myself, and warned them I’d better get the full amount back.  I got it!

So Wednesday night, I took out the oven racks and let them soak in the bathrub overnight, in a scalding Spic n’ Span bubble bath.  I got up yesterday (Thursday) morning and pulled back the shower curtain—and saw a tub of the grimiest water I’ve ever seen.  I guess I’d be spending the day scrubbing my stove –AND- bathtub! 

But those racks were GLEAMING silver and gave me a real glimmer of hope.  Maybe my oven would be a piece of cake too!  I’d sprayed it with 1 1/2 cans of HEAVY DUTY EASY OFF OVEN CLEANER the night before and had the lye burns on both arms to prove it.

TWO HOURS and three sponges and a pair of torn Playtex rubber gloves and a bucket of demonic black gunk later, my stove (the one at the top) is a thing of beauty.  After a good nights sleep, I keep going into my kitchen this morning just to open the oven door and take a look inside.  If my arms weren’t so sore I’d pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.  Sure would love to keep it this way!

So I wonder if my neighbors would let me rent theirs on occasion?  Sarcastic smile