Going Fluorescent

My husband has gone fluorescent. In light of the current energy crunch, you will undoubtedly be pleased, until you realize that I use "fluorescent" here as a synonym for "ballistic" or "postal." (My apologies to our friendly letter carriers and the nice people at our Post Office on Main Street it's too bad this term has such a negative connotation.) So now you will better appreciate my lament: my husband has gone completely fluorescent.

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The last time he "went fluorescent" on me, we did all the things we probably should have been doing anyway: running the dishwasher without the heating cycle and putting out all the heavy laundry to bake in the California sun. I would invariably leave them out so long that the jeans and towels could practically walk back by themselves, complaining of sunburn and stiff joints. He had a field day switching out all of our incandescent bulbs for fluorescent ones, even in the small, landlocked bathroom that had no access to any other light. In other words, by the time the light had yawned, stretched, and talked itself into it's crackly wake-up routine, you had already shut the door and we're done with your business in the dark. Think a household with four males has trouble hitting the toilet? Why not try the extra challenge of doing it in the dark? When the light finally came on, in was just in time for the exiting party, none too concerned by the misfire, to say, "Oops. Oh, well - better luck next time, I guess." After much pleading and begging, I was allotted the indulgence of incandescent lighting in that bathroom.

I'm not saying my husband is obsessive.(Of course YOU can say it all you want; you don't live with him, do you?)Back in 2000, when our family (then six of us) went to India, he wanted us to travel light.I don't know why he was so paranoid, just because I routinely have trouble zippering my purse shut, there is a stigma attached to my packing (dis)abilities.

What self-respecting mother would be caught without the appropriate baby wipes, band-aids, snacks, water bottles, crayons, or favorite toys, etc. in a child-related "emergency?"What if the kids get hot, cold, thirsty, hungry, tired, cranky, carsick, asthmatic, homesick, or just plain got sick on themselves? You HAVE to be prepared.It's in your maternal wiring.Were the fathers the ones appointed to carry the baby and all the God-given placental packaging for nine months?Of course not.They probably would have chucked out one or the other as being not-that-necessary.

Anyone who has experienced the joy of bringing home a new little person has seen that for every pound of baby, state law requires that you purchase at least 50 pounds of baby equipment.(If you want to help the economy, the state would love for you to check where the equipment is manufactured, too.) A seven-pound baby needs 350 pounds of baby equipment - at least.When you add up the carseats, cribs, carriers, swings, bassinets, high chairs, bouncers, strollers, baby tubs, Snugglies, diaper bags, properly stimulating black-and-red rattles, musical mobiles, soft toys and books, safety gates, etc., it shouldn't be hard to do.(And no, you may not add in the weight of the parents themselves.I tell you, we've become a society of loophole seekers!)

"Really, Vin, they do have stores there.We'll just buy stuff there, use it, and leave it." For those of you feeling sorry for my husband, here's a bit of redeeming praise.If you know Eldred, you know that when he does anything, he does it with the intensity of a tornado and the focus of a laser piercing your eyeball.(That was generous and complimentary of me, wasn't it?Good thing I have already enjoyed my Mother's Day lunch!)He may "waste" money, he may waste resources, but he does not like to waste time.He'll get it done.My coupon-clipping self can barely comprehend, much less, embrace, this manner of operation.I tend to waste time fretting over silly things like how I might have been overcharged a dime, and would it look too cheap of me if I we're to return and demand it back?

So as I packed, my husband braced himself.Every family needs a system of checks and balances.I check if I have brought along everything we might possibly ever need, and he balances most of it on his back.I would like to think that we we're emulating the legionaries of Ancient Rome who carried 50-60 pounds of equipment on their backs for their daily march.It would certainly have made packing easier if we could just have strapped one dresser drawer to the back of each person, but my husband, who was often appointed Chief of the Volunteer Mule-Pack Brigade, decided to put the brakes on early.

Every time I was packing, he was in reconnaissance mode, snooping around where he had no business being, peering over the tops of the suitcases."Keep it light, Vin," he casually reminded me every other second.Then, just to keep the one-way conversation interesting, every other minute he would intersperse that with a "Let's get a tally again what are we carrying?"It's a wonder I didn't fall facedown in the suitcase and gobble up all the Ibuprofen that we we're packing.Hey, it would have made for lighter luggage.

Then it happened.Using his convenient periscope-vision, he caught me packing (sneaking) a pair of baby nail clippers.For a four-week trip, with four kids (one with eczema), I thought this was, just like everything else, critically necessary.We haggled back and forth for about ten minutes as to whether or not this item was really, truly, all that necessary.Later that spring, while weighing baby rabbits on our postal scale, I checked the weight of these contraband clippers.They we're four-tenths of an ounce.Forget all this marriage counseling.Want to test your marriage?If it's not convenient to keep moving your household, plan vacations in the Third World with the kids.

In hindsight, I can't really blame him we had to carry many, many boxes of Rice Dream for our son who is allergic to milk and was allergic to soy (as well as lots of other things).Eldred's relatives checked all over Mumbai (you might remember it as "Bombay"), and Rice Dream was not available there at the time.The manufacturer couldn't guarantee whether the boxes would stay intact in the lower pressure cargo area, so we lugged a month's supply as carry-on baggage.You know when you fly with kids under the age of six that by the end of the flight, they themselves will become part of your carry-off luggage.And guess who's also going to be lugging all that brightly-colored kids' carry-on luggage you we're so thoughtful to provide them in anticipation of the flight?

To credit my husband's clairvoyance, I confess that in the final moments of packing (4:30 AM on the morning of the flight, when I was gloriously not under surveillance), I started cramming my youngest's favorite toys into our carry-on baggage: the headless Buzz Lightyear doll, a mini light-saber, and 20 other items of critically necessary but unauthorized junk.

I felt like Jonathan Paskowitz, the subject of a fascinating radio interview last week on Terry Gross's "Fresh Air" on National Public Radio about the new movie "Surfwise" based on his childhood. Paskowitz, an international surfing champion, grew up in a 24-foot camper with his eight siblings, and was home-schooled by his surfing parents on a Spartan lifestyle and diet without sugar, salt, and fat. At his first exposure to sugar, he consumed 72 mini-boxes of Kellog's Frosted Flakes in a row. One of his seven brothers, who felt he never got his share of eggs, once consumed 24 boiled eggs in one sitting.

Not that I was "denied" as these kids we're I think they we're enriched in so many other ways that we miss - but in my unsupervised glee, I am sure I could have easily filled a 24-foot camper with everything we needed for the trip.Unfortunately, my husband is a light sleeper and an early riser.I was caught in the act and had to put it all back.Eight years later, I am happy to report that we (and India) survived our visit quite happily, even though we we're deprived of the pleasure and company of the headless Buzz doll.

For some odd reason, my husband's visits to see his immediate family in India since then (mine are all in the US) have been solo.I like to console myself that it is for financial and tactical reasons, but I could be wrong.It has been known to happen quite frequently.

At any rate, if Dominion Virginia Power's rates really do go up by 18.3% in July, Dr. Fluorescent, in addition to being very energy efficient, is going to be lots of fun to be around. Maybe we should plan a visit overseas.

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Posted in Dentistry Post Date 03/05/2017