Peep Show by Courtney Mehlhaff

My house has a half-finished basement that features very sexy knotty pine wood paneling, circa 1960. It also features, inexplicably, two 4-inch holes punched into the wall, about two feet apart, at eye level. 

Although I ask everyone who visits to venture a guess, the true function of the holes remains a mystery. They're handy for peering into my utility room but otherwise a pain in the ass.

I mentioned to a friend that I couldn't decide what to do with them. Patch and paint? Plug them up? Hang some artwork awkwardly in the middle of the wall? He suggested that I get two portraits with the eyes cut out, a la Scooby Doo. (I'd be lying if I said I didn't briefly entertain this idea, but in the end the spaces were just too small).

I was really stuck for a good solution. And then, last week, it hit me. I'd been going about it all wrong. Having two weird holes in the paneling isn't a problem -- it's a gift. Because instead of hanging something over them, you can hang something behind them. You can do this:


It's all a matter of perspective.

A Bad Rap by Courtney Mehlhaff

I love it when people play their music loud and proud. I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago when a car rolled through the parking lot bumping Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" like it was a party anthem.

I like to think I'm similarly unapologetic about my choices, though I was extremely relieved that a group of colleagues who unintentionally snuck up on me at work (I had my headphones cranked) did not know I was rocking out hard to the live version of "Hotel California."

Sometimes, though, circumstances beyond our control align perfectly to embarrass us. I recently visited a friend who lives in a very nice suburb filled with lovey new houses full of little children.

During the 30-minute drive, I plugged my phone in and listened to Verdi's "La Traviata." For whatever reason, when I play opera through my car, I have to turn the volume up really high. And this isn't a problem . . . until you unplug the phone.

Because here's the thing you should know about me. I fully realize that I look like someone who would be into opera, and in that way I am a foregone conclusion. But my first and truest musical love is rap. So my radio is usually tuned to a local old-school hip-hop station.

So, when I pulled up outside my friend's house and yanked my phone free of the cord, what song blasted into her picturesque neighborhood?

2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny."

And not one of the verses, either, but the hook. It was literally a switch from a mid-volume Italian tenor to full-volume, bass-rattling, "Ooh, me so horny, ooh ooh me so horny . . ."

I slammed my hand into the dial, leaving a few final strains of "Me love you long-time" hanging in the air, and hurried up to the house as if fleeing a crime scene.

Friends, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. I'm nothing if not classy.

Outback Clapback by Courtney Mehlhaff

The company I work for is global, so my team reads reports from many different countries.

Although the US has strict guidelines about how much personal information can be included in a professional document, other parts of the world regularly feature things such as photographs of the job candidate.

Not long ago, one of my coworkers was editing a report from Australia. On the cover page, in the spot where the person's picture was supposed to be, was a stock photo of a koala.

My coworker emailed the rest of us, amused and puzzled. Was it a joke that slipped through? Or was this simply the standard placeholder for all Aussies?

Another coworker dropped the mic when she replied: "Well, he certainly seems koala-fied."

Homeslice II: The Frightening by Courtney Mehlhaff

As predicted, the new homeowner adventures continue. Over the past few weeks, I've done the following:

1. Found myself sitting on a folding chair staring at my washing machine through an entire cycle to see where the water leak was occurring and thinking, "This is my life now." (Fun fact: It wasn't the washing machine, it was my floor drain backing up).

2. After a particularly long and exhausting weekend of moving and cleaning, due to desperation and a poorly stocked fridge, had a piece of coconut cream pie and a beer for dinner.

3. Had to drink a glass of wine before feeling courageous enough to clean Cobweb City out of the basement closet.

But one of the dumbest things yet is how I've managed to scare the shit out of myself by literally forgetting that I live in a house now. I'm so accustomed to being in an apartment and hearing noises (including running water) from my neighbors on either side, that this happens:

1. I flush my toilet, wash my hands, and wander into the kitchen for something.

2. I hear the water running on the other side of the kitchen wall and think, "Oh, someone must be taking a shower."

3. I think, "Wait . . . I live alone. OMG, WHO THE F*CK IS IN THE SHOWER?!"

And the sad thing is that I've gone through this terrifying two-second thought process more than once. In fact, I've had to fight the urge to flee my own home due to accurately functioning plumbing several times.

But I'm still here, folks. Just me and the spiders.

Handsy Solo by Courtney Mehlhaff

I was talking with a married friend about how she hates to be alone. 

"It bothers you that much?" I asked.

"Oh, it's the worst. If my husband ever died, I'd have to take a lover immediately."

I laughed. "That soon, huh?"

"Absolutely. If I couldn't find anyone right away, I might even have to take you!"

I laughed even harder. "You know, I could be there for you emotionally and keep you company and support you without necessarily having a physical relationship."

Her mock-serious stare began to crack as she slowly shook her head.

"No, Cotonee. If I'm going to take you, I want all of you."

Monumental Distortions by Courtney Mehlhaff

I recently had the good fortune to see one of my high school classmates for the first time since graduation. Somehow, in the course of a wide-ranging conversation over dinner, this question was asked: "If someone built a statue of you, what would your stone likeness be doing?"

Few things please me more than hypothetical queries such as this.

I had to admit, if the sculpture were true to form, I should probably just be holding a remote.

However, if I could choose how I wanted to be immortalized, I think the answer is very clear. It runs along the same lines as my wanting to be buried holding something wildly anachronistic to puzzle curious forensic scientists or interred with a note informing whoever has dug me up that they're now cursed.

Because if you have the opportunity to mess with people from beyond the grave . . . why wouldn't you?

So I told my friend that for my statue, I would pick the most batshit crazy thing I could think of, like an image of me riding a shark or wrestling a velociraptor. 

Basically, I want something that would make future folk stop short and say, "What the fuck?"

Or, you know, whatever profanity is all the rage in the year 3000.

(It's probably still the F-bomb).

Making the Cut by Courtney Mehlhaff

When I was in college, my roommate's new boyfriend came to visit for a weekend. He lived a few hours away and didn't know his way around campus yet. So, shortly after he arrived in town, it was my job to escort him to the choir concert where my roommate was singing.

Although he was a motorcycle-riding Metallica fan, he was at least mildly attentive, if not overly enthused about sitting with a bunch of strangers and listening to ladies warble for a couple hours.

Afterward, my roommate excitedly asked her man which song had been his favorite.

He thought for a moment.  "The one about the chainsaw."

"The what?"

"I liked the one about the chainsaw. That was the best."

It was her turn to think for a moment.  "You mean Ching-a-ring Chaw?"


She paused again, looking at him with a mix of exasperation and amusement. "Were you even there?!"

Maybe on that particular topic, he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. But they're still married today.

Driving Miss Crazy by Courtney Mehlhaff

In an attempt to save some money on my insurance premium, I recently plugged a small electronic device into the diagnostic port in my car. This dastardly little piece of hardware monitors my driving habits and records them, flagging things like hard stops. 

So I think to myself, ok, I'll just drive even more like a grandma than I usually do. I'll take it real easy for a few weeks.

But get this: on literally the second day under mini Big Brother's watch, I had to slam on my brakes three separate times in a matter of hours. Once to avoid hitting a car going the wrong way across a parking lot, once to avoid hitting some dipshit who stepped off a curb into traffic, and (this sounds like a lie but it's absolutely true) once to avoid hitting a bunch of orange traffic cones that flew off the back of a city truck taking a turn too fast.

If you're one of the conspiracy theorists who believes the world as we know it is actually a simulation, I definitely stumbled into the defensive driving module. Long story short, the realities of being an alert motorist in a metro probably means I can kiss a big discount goodbye.

On the plus side, nobody died. Too bad nothing is recording that.