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.

Homeslice by Courtney Mehlhaff

So I've officially been a homeowner for a couple weeks now. Here are the top five things that have happened since moving in (mostly bug-related):

5. My dad helped reclaim the basement from the spiders, who had established a kingdom with primitive laws and the beginnings of a language.

4. I sprayed one of those spiders with insecticide, and it actually turned around and came after me, like "I KNOW you didn't just try to kill me, bitch!"

3. I was chased inside by a huge moth-like creature that attacked me every time I fired up the weed whacker.

2. Some handy friends spent a weekend here fixing things, including wiring lights and regrouting the shower, and somehow amid all the electricity and pointy tools, I was the only one who got hurt -- I managed to rip my elbow open carrying an empty box down the stairs.

1. I encountered a mystery bug outside the bathroom and said the following: "I don't even know what you ARE, but I can't fight you naked."

Early adventures. More to come, I'm sure.


Cruel Beans by Courtney Mehlhaff

I had a coffee run-in the other day.

I went to a local movie theater to watch a Met Opera Live performance, and because I knew it would be a long production, I stopped to grab some caffeine on the way. I've done this several times at a different theater with no dire consequences, so I didn't even question my routine.

But the woman scanning tickets was older and far crankier at this particular establishment. As soon as she caught sight of my cup, she yelled, "No outside food or beverages!" with the same level of alarm you might apply to "Hey look out!" or "He's got a gun!"

Now, typically, I'm a rule follower. And when I'm busted, I quickly cave. But I must have been feeling my oats that evening, because I decided to try to sweet-talk my way past her.

"Aww, are you sure I can't bring it in?"

Stone face. "You'll have to throw that away. We sell coffee here."

"I just bought this one, and I can't afford to waste it."

Angry face. "It's a HUGE health code violation!" (To me, this explanation seemed less plausible than "We sell coffee here," but what do I know about the free market).

"I guess I'll have to take your word on that one," I said.

"Well, I know. I've been doing this for many many years!" she said, and I believed that.

So, seeing I wouldn't be able to charm her and not interested in throwing away $4 worth of delicious liquid stimulant, I did what any good passive-aggressive, pissed-off Midwesterner would do: I stood in front of her and slowly drank my coffee for 10 minutes. And I mean slooooowly. I'd arrived early enough -- I had plenty of time. 

When I was finished, I very politely and formally asked if I had permission to cross the carpeted threshold into the concession area with my empty cup, because that was where the trash can was.

"As long as you throw it away! You have to throw it away!" she yelled. 

I thought the whole thing was a pretty ballsy stance to take with only a dozen cars in the parking lot, but I guess if you're committed to defending your workplace against rogue java, you have to draw a hard line.

I wonder what she would have shouted if she'd seen the apple fritter I had tucked in my purse? 

Beat the Clock by Courtney Mehlhaff

I recently found myself trying to explain to a colleague the physical impossibilities of completing a large amount of work in a very limited timeframe, and I was reminded of a story from my sister's days in customer service.

She was working in a credit card call center, and she handled only the "escalated" calls. This was deemed a promotion, though I can't imagine anything worse than taking that much verbal abuse.

On the other end of the line was a very determined woman who wanted something fixed on her account. My sister apologized and explained several times that she was unable to rectify the situation because it had occurred so long ago, but the woman refused to give up.

Completely exasperated, my sister finally said, "Ma'am . . . . . I can't help you in the past."

Without a doubt, this is one of the truest snarky statements a person could utter. However, to her everlasting credit, the woman fired off one of the greatest comebacks ever. 

"Yeah," she said, dryly. "I understand how time works."

A lofty concept, indeed. I wish everyone who dealt with deadlines had a similar level of basic knowledge.