“Refusing to Take the Bad with the Good”, from the humor column “But it Makes Sense to Me!” by Sandy Polsky

I enjoy the treasures of nature – its woods, the peace, birds calling to each other. Yet there’s one drawback — somehow I always manage to stumble into poison ivy. I’m convinced that, like the trees in the movie “Avatar,” its roots communicate underground, sending a message to the nearest patch to attack me.

Some people can spot poison ivy in a flash. I can’t tell until it’s too late. Yes, I know the adage “if it’s three, let it be,” meaning that poison ivy has three leaves so I should recognize it. But when there are just a few leaves underneath, intermingled with a huge bunch of other plants, how can I tell? It’s not like it has neon colors that cry out a warning. Which, when you think about it, would only be fair. I mean, aren’t certain plants supposed to have defense mechanisms so animals don’t eat them?  Like those colorful poison dart frogs.in rain forests. Snakes know not to eat them. Besides, my eyes aren’t peeled to the ground watching every step, and I don’t inspect every tree for the climbing kind before leaning against it — you kind of lose the enjoyment of hiking when you do that.

One day, my friend Debbie and I decided to take a hike. Fearful of being overcome by poison ivy, I soaked myself in repellent, wore long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and pulled the tops of my socks over my pants. I was taking all precautions, determined that not one poison ivy molecule would enter my pores.

“Uh, did you know you’re standing in a patch of poison ivy?” asked Debbie.

“Where?” I frantically looked around.

“You see that teeny, tiny, miniscule plant in the middle of that lush bunch of other plants?”

“Why didn’t you warn me before I stepped into it?” I cried.

“I thought you knew the adage, “if it’s three, let it —”

“Yes, I know!” I exclaimed. I was doomed. Even if I used latex gloves when removing my apparel and boiled my clothes, I knew I’d succumb.

Several days later, purplish splotches appeared on my arm. Soon those splotches began to itch. If you’ve never had poison ivy, you can’t imagine how itchy it can get. And you’re not supposed to scratch it, either. That’s like putting a cow in front of a lion and telling him not to touch it. The lotion I’d put on, advertised to “stop the itching of poison ivy in its tracks,” was useless  I refrained for as long as possible.

“Arrrggghghhh!”  I finally yelled and started scratching.

Finally, I went to the doctor, who prescribed steroids. They worked like a charm, Although they made me a bit irritable, they also gave me almost super-human strength. I am considering becoming a bad-tempered super-hero who goes around rescuing hapless hikers. And with my super-hero eyes that can shoot laser beams, I could fly around frying patches of this wicked weed.

Well, something good should come out of it.

.
Refusing to take the Bad with the Good

No Whales to Watch

Never go on a boat after a thunderstorm.

Matt, my husband, Josh, our then-six-year-old, and I were on a bus, excited about a four-hour whale-watching tour, when it began raining.  “Probably a sun shower,” I said. Suddenly, lightening flashed, followed by violent cracks of thunder and howling winds. “Or maybe a nor’easter.”

After the storm, we boarded the boat, eager to see orcas and humpback whales. The breeze was warm, sun shining, seagulls chirping — and giant waves were pummeling the boat from all directions. The bow repeatedly rose up and slammed down – kind of like the roller coasters I avoid at all costs. But I felt secure; I’d never been seasick. I turned my face to catch the sun, sighing happily.

Thirty minutes later, an uneasy feeling washed over me. Uh-oh, I thought, looking at my stomach warily, sensing betrayal. It churned ominously as I lurched to a bench. Josh, looking green, curled into a ball and put his head in my lap. I caressed his hair and made soothing noises.

“Stop that,” he whined. “You’re making me worse.”

I clamped my hand over my mouth, not to silence my irritating mommy-noises but to hold back the gates. I eyed the huge garbage pail sitting a few yards away. Oh, that would be just too humiliating.

“Everybody looking for whales?” yelled the tour guide. I glared at him.  The way I felt, I wouldn’t care if a whale jumped into the boat and introduced himself.

“How much longer to get to land?” I asked feebly.

“Three and a half more hours!” he shouted.

We’ve only been out here for thirty minutes? I began screaming inside. We have to go back! I’m sick! My little boy is sick! What kind of evil traps people in the middle of the ocean for hours? I don’t care about whales! I hate whales! I hate sea life! I want the ocean sucked dry!

I unsteadily walked over to the tour guide and looked pleadingly into his face.

“Any chance you can drop me off at the nearest island?” I asked.

The guide chuckled. “You’ll get your sea legs; give it another hour!”

If I’d had the strength, I’d have tossed him overboard.

Finally, I had no choice.  Rushing to the garbage can, I let loose, not caring who was watching. The relief was pure and swift.  One by one, other passengers followed, losing their lunches into garbage cans, on benches, over railings, on each other.  “That’s what’s called spending quality time together!” chortled the guide, watching Matt and Josh share an intimate moment over the railing.

With help, I could send the guide overboard in two seconds. No Whales to Watch

When Matt heard that I’d started a chain reaction, he commended me on my leadership qualities. We waited for this trip from hell to end, not caring that we hadn’t seen a single whale, not a fin or spout. Reaching land, I sank to the ground, grabbed a fistful of dirt, and raised it to the sky. “As God is my witness,” I cried, “I will never go whale watching again!” (I’d recently watched “Gone with the Wind”). Then we went to the local aquarium to peer at sea creatures from a zone of safety. But no whales.

LIKE NIGHT AND DAY

No wonder my husband was looking at me like I’d finally gone nuts.

I woke up from one of the deepest, most delicious sleeps I’ve ever had. I glanced at the clock and gasped.

8:00! I’d forgotten to set the alarm last night and I had a 10 a.m. appointment with a client. Thank goodness I woke up in time!

Shortly after, my friend Stan came by to fix a garden hose. I’d expected him yesterday but better late than never.

“Wow you’re up early!” I exclaimed. I’d never seen Stan anywhere before 2 p.m. “After you fix the hose, how about I fix you breakfast?”

“Sure,” he said, with a strange look on his face. What, he didn’t think I could cook oatmeal?

I peered through the window at the dark sky.

“Boy, are we in for a storm! I exclaimed. “It got so dark all of a sudden!”

Stan again looked at me strangely. I guess he was thinking about the oatmeal.

As Stan ate, I told him that I had to get ready to see a client.

Now?” he asked.

“Well, after my shower,” I said, bristling a bit. What, like he looks so great when he first wakes up?

“Just let yourself out when you’re done,” I said.

Again, that strange look. Maybe it hurt his feelings that I wasn’t keeping him company while he ate breakfast. But I had a client to see.

I got out my business suit, took a shower, and blew-dry my hair. When I came downstairs, Stan was gone.

As I brushed my teeth, my husband Matt came home. He has a part-time job working several mornings a week. Apparently he’d started extra early today.

“Isn’t it amazing?” I yelled from the bathroom. “It’s so dark out!” I smiled, thinking of the upcoming storm. I love a good storm.

“What?” Matt called from the other room.

“It’s so dark out!”

He walked over to the bathroom.

“What?” he said, looking at me strangely. I guess Stan’s look was contagious.

Why does he never understand me when I talk? I thought irritably. Could he be any denser?

“It’s gonna storm!” I exclaimed, pointing to the window in frustration. “Don’t you see how dark it is? It’s 8:30 and it looks like nighttime!”

He stared at me. “It is nighttime.”

I looked at him, speechless.

“It’s not Tuesday morning?”

“It’s Monday night.”

No wonder I’d been getting strange looks. I’d commented to Stan that he was up early. I’d offered him breakfast. I’d said that I was leaving to see a client. I’d gotten dressed in a business suit.  I’d told Matt, in awe and wonder, that it was dark outside. All at around 8:30 at night.

Oh crap. And I’d taken my morning medicine and given our dog Thor an overdose of his eye drops.

I sighed heavily. Well, at least it the strange looks weren’t about my oatmeal

PING!

 

I am so out of the jewelry-making business.

I was waiting in the security line at Newark Airport, on my way to visit my cousin in Florida.  Since I was in good humor, I smiled warmly at my fellow passengers. But the line was long and tempers were short so I didn’t get many return smiles.

Oh well.

I plugged in my earphones to listen to my Ipod songs. I always bring my music with me whenever I anticipate long lines. It keeps me serene, a necessity after that unfortunate episode when I impatiently whipped a slow-moving supermarket customer with asparagus spears.

So there I was, swaying in time to the music when another passenger tapped my shoulder.  I took out my earphones and looked where she was pointing.  On the floor was a small, colorful bead.  As my mind began translating what I was seeing into something meaningful, I heard a series of “pings,” rapidly increasing in speed.

“Ping; ping-ping-ping; pa-ping!!”

My necklace was dismantling before my, and everyone’s, eyes. I’d made it myself and proudly wore it in the hope that someone would recognize my talent and invest in my as-yet non-existent jewelry business,

“Oh, no!”  I groaned.  “It’s my necklace!”

I crouched down to scoop up the beads, assisted by a few other passengers who were now smiling. As I stood up and began thanking them, I heard more pinging.
“Ping; ping-ping; ping; ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-ping!”

The line had begun moving and, aware that I was holding everyone up, I frantically began grabbing the scattered beads, pushing my arms between passengers’ legs, lifting their feet, and shifting luggage to get at the beads.

“Sorry! Excuse me! Move, please!  So sorry!”

Several more passengers, now chuckling, handed me some particularly wayward beads. I shoved them in my pants pocket.

“Whew!” I said as I stood up and began moving forward in line.  Two seconds later, the pings began in earnest.

Sighing, I started flapping the front of my shirt and wiggling wildly, sending the rest of the beads spilling down my body and onto the floor.

“At least it wasn’t a long necklace,” I said, smiling weakly while picking up the remaining beads.

“You should return it to the store!” said one woman emphatically.  “What shoddy workmanship!”

“Yes! Yes!”  I exclaimed shamelessly. “That’s what it is!  Shoddy workmanship!  I’ll certainly give that store a piece of my mind!”

At the check-point, I put my pocketbook, cell phone, keys, and a few coins in the bin and my luggage on the conveyor belt.

“Have all items been removed from pockets?’ asked a dour-faced security guard.

All items?” I asked nervously.

She looked at me sternly.

I began scooping the beads from my pocket, putting them into the bin, sheepishly explaining why I was holding up the line due to my bead-packed pocket. Unsmiling, she silently moved away from me.

Real empathetic, I grumbled to myself, continuing to scoop.

The guard returned with a latex glove and wordlessly opened it and held it up in front of me.  I quietly put the remaining beads in the glove.  She tied it shut, put it in the bin, and looked towards the next passenger.

I guess I’m not destined to become a mega-rich jewelry entrepreneur.  If my customers were frequent flyers, there wouldn’t be enough latex gloves at the security check-points to hold their beads.

 

Ping!

 

 

 

Breakfast is Served, from the humor column “But It Makes Sense To Me!” by Sandy Polsky

The hospital breakfast tray looked inviting.

An oxymoron, but true.

My brother Martin had undergone back surgery. Since I wanted to speak with his surgeon, I got up the next morning at an obscenely early hour so that I would be at the hospital when the surgeon began his rounds.

About an hour after I arrived, Martin’s roommate Richard was whisked away on a gurney to undergo a procedure. Soon after, their breakfast trays arrived.

I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I was starving. And I couldn’t go to the cafeteria because I might miss the surgeon’s visit. So I was pretty much chained to the hospital room, my hunger pains getting worse with each passing moment.

“Hey, Mart, whatcha got there?”Breakfast is Served.jpg I asked, watching as Martin lifted the dome plate cover to reveal what tantalizing food lie beneath it.

Runny scrambled eggs. Overdone hash browns. Dry toast. Congealed orange juice. Applesauce.

A virtual feast.

Martin, oblivious to the loud grumblings from my stomach, started chowing down.

“So, you gonna eat that toast?” I asked.  “It’s kind of burnt.”

“Yeah, I am,” mumbled Martin in between bites of egg.

“And the hash browns!” I exclaimed. “They’re so overdone! How do they expect people to eat that stuff?

I waited a beat.

“So, are you gonna eat that stuff?” I asked.

His mouth was stuffed with food. Clearly he was.

My eyes shifted to Richard’s food tray. A dribble of saliva formed at the corner of my mouth.

Suddenly, I sat up straighter as a thought occurred.

I can have Richard’s breakfast! He’s still in surgery!

To further bolster my internal rationalizations, I came up with ways that my not eating Richard’s breakfast would be detrimental to his health:

He’ll be in a weakened state right after surgery. Surely it can’t be good for him to eat ice cold food, right? I’ll be doing him a service by eating it!

I ate everything but the runny eggs.

About twenty minutes later, Richard still hadn’t returned, but his wife walked in, followed by a nurse. The wife, seeing the crumbs, discarded food packaging, and used napkin on Richard’s breakfast tray, stopped dead in her tracks, looking at it in disbelief.

“Oh, I ate his breakfast,” I piped up to relieve her confusion. “Richard was taken down for some procedure.”

“Whaaatt??” said the wife, obviously upset, turning to look at me.

Oh, boy, I thought. The poor woman didn’t know that Richard was having a procedure.

“Yeah, they took him down for a biopsy or something. I’m sure he’ll be fine,” I said in a soothing voice.

“You ate my husband’s breakfast?” she said, aghast.

Oh. Well, when she said it that way, maybe eating it hadn’t been my best course of action.

“It was getting cold,” I said weakly, guilt starting to seep in. “I thought they’d give him a fresh plate.”

“We heat it up!” admonished the nurse. “We put it here so he’d have something to eat as soon as he returned from surgery!”

My profuse apology was met with glares and silence.

I still think his wife should’ve thanked me because, about three hours after Richard returned, he was brought a fresh, piping hot breakfast tray.

And I didn’t even touch it.

“FaceTime Frenzy” from the humor column “But it Makes Sense to Me!” by Sandy Polsky

FaceTime Frenzy

Warning: Not knowing how your iPhone works can cause a panic attack.

When my son, Noah, gave me his old iPhone. I was delighted by the extra functions that my Droid didn’t have.

“Cool!” I said. After pressing a button, a lovely voice named Siri came on, offering to help me. All I had to do was give her a voice command and she’d obey! I wondered if she’d offer to clean my oven.

I perused the other icons on the display panel, under the delusion that, if I applied myself, I could figure them out. I’m not exactly tech-savvy. (Several years ago, I was banned from asking Noah or my other son, Josh, for help with technology. Josh has post-traumatic stress syndrome after trying to explain Excel to me and Noah began getting migraines after repeatedly having to show me how to re-order my iPod songs.) My plan was to learn one iPhone function a month.

Several months later, after completing an hour-long Zumba home workout, I was drenched in a sweaty sheen. Since I loathe sweat, I peeled off my clothes, intending to take a shower immediately. But I remembered that I’d wanted to see if a certain patio set was on sale at Home Depot. If I didn’t do it then, I’d probably forget. I’d noticed that, lately, as a new thought enters my head, older thoughts – those more than two seconds old — exit the other side. So I called Home Depot.

“Can you tell me if the wicker patio set, the one with the green cushions, with the ottomans, you know, that can be pushed under each chair, it was in the back of the store, they’d been leaning against the wall with the sunscreen, kind of to the left of the hammocks display…wait, what did I want to ask you?”

As I talked with the salesman, I heard a little “ding” from the iPhone. I pulled it away from my ear and held it at stomach-height, checking to see if I’d gotten a message. I hadn’t mastered that particular “ding” yet so I didn’t know what it meant.

What I saw made me gasp.

“Oh, my God, oh my God, on my GOD!”

With trembling hands, I powered off and stared at the phone in horror.

FaceTime had come onto the screen while I’d been talking to the Home Depot guy. And given where I’d been holding the phone at the time, he would’ve seen my naked upper torso.

“Nooooooooo!” I screamed. I began pacing. “I can never go to Home Depot again! Wait! It’ll be on the Internet! I can never go anywhere again!”

Panicked, I called Noah.

“My boobs were seen by a Home Depot salesman!” I wailed as soon as he picked up.

A moment of silence.

“I’ll bet that none of my friends ever had to hear their mother say that phrase,” he said, sighing.

“Zumba! Sweaty! Naked! Called the store! No clothes! Naked!” I yelled.

“You called the store?” asked Noah.

“Yes! In mid-call, FaceTime came onto my phone! He had to have seen everything!” I collapsed onto the bed, whimpering.

“And you called the store phone?”

“Have you been listening?” I yelled. “Yes!”

“Mom, the store phone isn’t an iPhone,” said Noah, “so it wouldn’t have FaceTime. He didn’t see anything.”

I bolted upright on the bed. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah.

“100%?”

“Yeah.”

“Thank God!” What sweet relief!

“Ok,” I said. “Gotta go. There’s this patio set on sale at Home Depot…”

I stopped.

“But first I’ll get dressed.”Facetime Frenzy.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No Cure For ONG”, from humor column “But It Makes Sense To Me!” by Sandy Polsky

Sometimes, I can be a bit Oblivious, Naïve and Gullible.

For instance.  Matt and I were in Central Park and I saw a guy with a puppy. Puppies are like magnets to me so, of course, I felt compelled stop.  I asked the owner if I could pet it.  He shrugged.  So I began gently tussling with the pup.

“Oh, who’s the cutest little pup?” I cooed.  “Yes you are!”

Meanwhile, Matt was urging me to get up so we could leave.

“What’s the rush?” I asked indignantly.

“Time to go,” said Matt curtly.

After a final scratch behind the pup’s ear, I reluctantly got up.

“What’s the problem?” I grumbled as we walked away.

“So I guess you didn’t hear the guy.”

“I did so! He didn’t mind!”

“Besides that.”

“What? What else?”

“He was yelling, ‘nickel bag! Nickel bag!’”

“So? What’s that?”

“Drugs,” said Matt.  “The guy whose puppy you were so happily playing with was in the middle of trying to sell drugs.  It was probably the first time anyone ever started playing with his puppy while he was making a sales pitch.”

Another time, after being in a fender bender, I received a call from a man who said he was from the insurance company for the person who hit me.

“My insured said you had an open container of alcohol in your car,” he said.

“What??”  I screeched.  “That is such a lie! This is outrageous!” I bellowed.  “I’ll sue your insured AND your company for slander!”

I was about to hang up when I heard laughter from the phone.

It was my brother, playing a practical joke on me.

And once, I tried hailing a cab, something I’d never done before.  Since I was new at this, I copied the technique of a woman next to me, flinging my arm out and waving.   No luck.  I put out my thumb.  Empty cabs zipped past me and stopped for other people.  I walked further into the street and started shimmying.  I got no reaction and no cab, which wasn’t so great for my ego.

I was getting more and more frustrated when a rather disheveled man, apparently taking pity on me, flagged down a cab for me in seconds.  I thanked him profusely, feeling warm towards this kind stranger who went out of his way.

As I entered the cab, the guy leaned in.

“Gimmee a hundred dollars,” he demanded.

“What?!” I exclaimed.

“OK, fifty.”

I got him down to a quarter.  I may be naïve but I have great negotiating skills.

Another time, Matt and I parked our car in an outdoor lot.  As we exited the car, a man extended his hand, ready to take the parking fee.  I began rummaging in my pocketbook when Matt abruptly said we’d pay at the booth.

“Well, that was kind of rude,” I said to Matt as we walked to the booth.  “I don’t see why we couldn’t have just paid him.”

I glanced back at the guy, ready to apologize, when I saw him sauntering out of the lot and down the street.

“Oh.  I said sheepishly.  “So, uh, I guess he doesn’t work here.” It was a scene right out of a Pink Panther movie.

Matt sighed.  “What’s it like to live in Sandy’s world?”

He then suddenly grabbed my arm and pulled me backwards, simultaneously whipping out his cell phone.  He called 9-1-1 to report a mugging taking place in front of us.

Which, of course, I hadn’t noticed.
No Cure for ONG

Hang! Up! Already! from the humor column “But It Makes Sense To Me!” by Sandy Polsky

Like most people, I don’t have a lot of spare time.  And like most people, I sometimes get impatient (well, maybe not like most people.  Maybe like me).

So it’s a bit frustrating when talking on the phone with a service representative, even the most pleasant and helpful one.  Because at the end of every call, I am eager to hang up.  But they aren’t.

“Ok,” I say, “Thanks for your help.”

“Oh, you’re quite welcome.  Have I answered all of your questions?”

“Yes, thank you.”  I now feel dread coming on, knowing what lies ahead.

“Have I dealt with all of your issues?”

“Uh, yes, yes, thank you.”

“And are you aware that you can handle all your needs on your own on our website, www.annoyingreps.com, at your leisure so that I can sit at my desk doing nothing all day?”

Hang. Up.  Hang. Up.  Hang. Up.  But this rep has been friendly so I don’t want to be rude.

“Yeah, sure,” I sigh, resigned.

“And if you have any problems at all on our website, our technology experts will be happy to assist you, after which they will run through this entire sequence of irritating closing questions?”

“I figured.”

“And before you go, would you be willing to take a brief survey, on which I expect that you will express the highest satisfaction of service, despite my wasting your valuable time prolonging this excruciatingly painful call?”

“Um, ok,” I say, lying through my teeth.

And then the monotone wrap-up.

“Ok thank you for calling your local branch of (Whatever Company) we hope you have a lovely day weekend rest of the year and a rewarding and happy life and thank you for being such a loyal customer remember to visit our website at once again www.annoyingreps.com and we appreciate your business.

I. Hang. Up. Finally.Hang Up Already! cartoon

“He’ll Never Know,” from humor column, “But it Makes Sense to Me!” by Sandy Polsky

Billows of smoke spewed out from under the hood.

“You had the car sitting untouched at your house for five months?” asked my mechanic, incredulous.  “Don’t you know you’re supposed to start it every week?”

Hmmm, I do recall our son Noah saying something about that. He’d left his car to us for safe-keeping while he spent five months in Australia student-teaching.

Ironic.

“The alternator seized from sitting so long,” said my mechanic.

And then he got personal.

“You know, the car really stinks,” He looked at me like I’d been living in it without having bathed for five months. “I doused it with a bottle of Lysol but it still stinks. It smells like an animal.”

Reluctantly, I walked towards the car, trying to convince myself that the animal, whatever it was, had run off, not happy about its home being towed. I entered the car, nervously looked around, and exhaled in relief.  I was alone.  I sniffed.  Lysol mixed with animal.  Not a winning combination.

I then noticed little droppings on the floor.

Ewwwwww!

Ok, ok, calm down.  So it had been a mouse.  It was gone.  No harm done.  I opened the glove compartment to put in Noah’s mail that had accumulated.

The smell hit me full force.  I shrieked and immediately slammed the door closed.

The glove compartment was filled to capacity with mounds of shredded tissues. It was a nest! (Hopefully an abandoned one).

I raced over to my mechanic.

“There’s a nest!  There might be a mouse in it, dead, alive, I don’t know!  You’ve gotta take it out!”

“Ewwwwww,” he said, stepping away from me, his hands in the air.  “You’re on your own.”

Sometimes I longed for good old-fashioned chivalry.  Even chauvinism would do.

I then recalled that I had a husband.  He’d take care of it!  He was the designated “clean up any disgusting things” member of the household.  But he didn’t answer his cell phone.  I considered leaving the nest intact as a welcome home surprise for Noah but decided he wouldn’t appreciate it.

Armed with latex gloves and a plastic bag gallantly furnished by my mechanic, I warily entered the car, opened the glove compartment, and again shrank back from the stench.  I crinkled my nose and gingerly scooped out a handful of tissues, afraid of finding a dead mouse body.  With each scoop, my face contorted and I whimpered.  After about ten handfuls – this mouse had been quite industrious; I almost had to admire him – I gasped, jerking backwards.

There before me was a patch of what looked like – ugh – fur.

“Oh my God!” I screamed.

After a few moments to calm myself, I peered into the compartment.  Thankfully, no body parts.  The mouse must’ve stolen someone else’s fur for his nest.

After completing “Operation Nest Demolition, “ I drove home, sprayed every inch of the car with more Lysol, strategically positioned ten boxes of baking soda in the car, and opened all the windows.

He’ll never know.

cartoon he'll never know