Last week, my mom highlighted her hair, then decided to exercise some futility by sitting at the dinner table with Dad, waiting to see how long it would take him to notice. Of course, the man was more likely to spontaneously combust.
After a few minutes of polite conversation, Mom finally gave up and said, “My hair was brown this morning and now it’s blonde.”
“Oh, and it looks good!” he said, realizing he’d failed an exam he didn’t know he was taking.
“Would you even notice if I was sitting here naked?” Mom asked.
“Sounds like an interesting experiment,” Dad replied.
I know about this conversation because they described it to me after I called to tell them that I’d just returned from purchasing the best snowblower in the universe. I can always count on my parents to feign interest when I feel the need to regale someone with tales of exploits in lawn and gardenry. Of course, you wouldn’t normally apply a snowblower to either your lawn or your garden, at least not on purpose, but that’s still the section of the store where you find them.
Standing there with my hands on the controls of the floor model, a machine that had enough horsepower to send the snow back from whence it came, I wanted to make that simian “Arrr Arrrh Arrrh” sound Tim Allen used to make in the show “Home Improvement,” before he headed off to a useful career of warning people about which movies were terrible by being in them.
“Dude, it has a headlight,” my wife Kara said approvingly. She was already having visions of drinking hot cocoa by the window, watching the snow magically disappear off the driveway as the three-year-old price tag dangled from her snow shovel in the garage.
Kara would tell you that the previous sentence is a gross misrepresentation of the truth, that she has done plenty of snow shoveling, especially that time that it snowed a foot while I was away on business and she shoveled for hours just to clear me a parking spot. That is, if she had a newspaper column. But she doesn’t, so we’ll just have to take my word.
Now that we’re prepared with a machine that will probably remove at least one of my digits during its lifetime, we probably won’t get any snow at all this winter. Who knows about the weather anymore? At least it’s already gotten a little chilly out. Last year, our Thanksgiving gravy needed to be SPF 15.
As excited as I am about ending the relationship with my snow shovel (I just felt like I was doing all the work), I do have reservations about bringing another piece of complicated doodaddery into my life. The other ones already constitute enough of a destabilizing force in our house.
Since moving to our new place, we’ve noticed that our cellphone coverage hearkens to a simpler time, before the invention of cell towers, back when gas was cheap and you could drive around flipping people the bird all day long without a thought to your personal safety. Our house is where cell signals go to die, if they show up at all.
Sitting with my phone beside me, silent, all day, it will buzz all of a sudden to alert me that I have a new voicemail.
“That’s funny, I would have expected perhaps some sort of ringing sound to signify an incoming call,” I will say.
But the service will be too poor to pick up the voicemail. The phone will say this: “You have one new voicemail. Message one: ‘Hey, Mike, this is crrkrkrkrk, I juscrkkrkrr important that you knew crkrcrrckr is dead.”
Several minutes later, Kara will walk by the doorway to find me kneeling over the phone, trying to find a neck on it to strangle.
“Your hair looks nice,” I will say, just to be safe.
You can pass the gravy to Mike Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.