Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Because it sure is surreal sometimes

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top Ten Lists, Deconstructed

I hate top ten lists. Mainly, I hate them because at best, only two or maybe three entries are actually funny. Typically, it’s the first one on the list, (#10) because that gets the ball rolling and sucks you in; #8 is usually funny because if there were two duds in a row that soon, the listener or reader would bail. Then comes the lull, or several barely amusing entries that keep you hoping for a funny finale, #1. If it's good, you're happy about hanging in there for numbers 7 - 2. If it's not good, you're sort of numb, wondering what went wrong. The list started so cleverly, had so much promise.

Why can't people just stop when they're ahead? Why is our society obsessed with more, more, more? In my opinion, Top Ten lists are about three times as long as they should be.

The reason I like the idea of Top Two lists is because there is a fifty-fifty chance of actually laughing, given that even a moron can come up with at least one funny thing to say about nearly any topic.

For example, here is the Top Two Ways to Know You Are an Italian Woman:

#2: You wear a sweater instead of a bathrobe over your pajamas in the morning.
#1: When your hands start moving during a tense conversation, people leave the room.

I have friends who are more Italian than me who could probably come up with several more, but that’s about it for me right now. I could add one more (#3: Your Thanksgiving table features a platter of homemade ravioli in the center, and a sad turkey off to the side) but that’s only slightly amusing. Better to quit while you’re ahead, I always say.

I sometimes think of funny lists while I’m taking a shower. Anything to keep my mind off the obvious. For example, one morning, I thought of The Top Two Reasons Not to Take a Shower While Drunk. The entries were easy and obvious. In fact, it was one list where I could have gone on and on; but I didn't. I kept it brief, witty and real. So, here they are, The Top Two Reasons Not to Take a Shower While Drunk:

#2: You might spill your drink.
#1: Alcohol and razors don't mix.

While Top Two lists pop into my head at normal times, like when I’m showering, there are other times when it seems inappropriate, or at least odd, to have one occur to me. Example: At exactly the time we were supposed to be pulling away from the house and driving to school the other morning, I found myself in the middle of a pointless argument with my twelve year old son about whose fault it was, his or mine, that most of his socks were missing. I was so inspired that on the spot I came up with The Top Three Reasons Why I Should Run Away From Home:

#3: It’s finally time to find the lucky woman who went home from the hospital with my baby
#2: I’d have a six hour head start, since that’s when the next meal is and they’ll notice I’m not in the kitchen cooking it
#1: On any given day, SEVEN dust-ridden socks are living under my son’s bed

Feel free to leave your own Top Two, or at the most, Top Three lists under ‘comments’, but please, don’t bore me with numbers 7 – 2.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Solutions on a silver platter

Sometimes kids just need a little help figuring things out. I know the current trend in child-rearing is to stay out of their hassles whenever possible, let them problem solve and all that crap, but is it worth it when you feel you might have a stroke if you listen for one more second to their ridiculous arguments?

It happened just the other night. My four children decided a game of inside hide-and-seek was in order. Keep in mind, our inside hide-and-go-seek has one slight adjustment from the traditional, outdoor, no-holds-barred, flying-through-the-air-to-the-base version I grew up playing.

The kids aren’t allowed to run in the house, so the first person found in each round is “it.” This creates a slightly more competitive mood, which is basically the last thing my kids need. They do “insanely competitive” all by themselves. In the indoor version, a perfect hiding place is imperative. I once caught one child pulling the empty racks out of the dishwasher, preparing to climb inside it. I asked her how she planned to close the door. She had no answer. I didn’t even have to say, “Get the hell out of the dishwasher!” which was what I was thinking. All I had to do was illuminate the problem and she solved it. She went and got the plunger and stuck it to the inside of the door. See, I pay attention to those books once in awhile.

Other times, it’s not so easy.

On this particular night, as I sat in the reading room, reading the same paragraph over for the tenth time, I had to step in and say something when I heard the following exchange, or some similar variation for the twentieth time. Keep in mind, the conversationalists, such as they were, were at opposite ends of a 3500 square-foot, two-story house.

“I need more time! Seventy seconds isn’t enough!”

“Yes it is!”

“No it isn’t; I need eighty seconds!”

“No you don’t, Jackson. Just find a spot."


Fine! I’ll count to seventy-five.”

"What? No way! That’s only five more seconds. Kee, that’s not enough time! You always count longer when you and your friends play!”

“Nuh-uh! I’m counting now! One, two, three, four…”

“Kee, stop! Wait! What are you counting to? Eighty? Keely?"

“…five, six, seven…”


“Everybody freeze!”

That was me. I had to step in and settle this, once and for all. I continued:

“Count to 100. That’s it, every time. If you can’t find a hiding place by then you are disqualified from that round. You will spend the time dusting the bookshelves while everyone else plays. I’ll get the Pledge.”

Miraculously, there was no more complaining about the counting. In fact, the counter slowed down a step, knowing that if even one person was disqualified, it would throw off the whole dynamic. Everyone knows you can’t play hide-and-go-seek with just three people.

Problem solved.