Can You Hear Me Now?

Shannon Kernaghan Honey-Dew-list-400 Can You Hear Me Now? Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship

 

Listening is an under-rated art form. There’s a wise saying that people should listen twice as much as they talk, considering they have two ears for every mouth. When I read the report that men listen with only half their brain, my husband’s confidence improved.

“See? Paul said, pointing to an online article. “It’s not my fault, that’s the way I’m hardwired. Now when you call me a half-brain, it won’t be such an insult.”

The man has a point. I’ve been doing a non-clinical study for years and agree with the findings. Take the subject of errands. If I ask Paul to pick up a few groceries, he looks like a proud warrior when he returns with two of the four items I requested.

“Didn’t you buy coffee beans? I told you we were out and now won’t have any for breakfast tomorrow! What’s all this other stuff?” and I rummage through the bag.

“I never heard you say coffee. I got a Rolling Stone and BBQ chips.” Surprise: I don’t need B-B-Q chips, yet I do love my morning coffee.

I never confuse the topic of listening with that of memory. When it comes to memory, Paul has a great set of temporal lobes. He’ll recall something I mentioned at a party in 2006 where I commented on a woman’s pretty purple dress. From one remark, he’ll forever believe I adore purple dresses, and he’ll point out every one we walk past in store windows. Since the seed is firmly rooted, why bother arguing?

I’ve made another discovery through years of unscientific study: what men don’t hear, they invent. While on holidays, Paul led me into a restaurant that specializes in ramen soup. He ordered me a bowl and watched me eat while I commented on the soup’s poor quality and expensive price.

“Yeah, but at least we found a place that serves ramen,” he said. “I know how much you love it.”

“I do? Since when?”

“Since we used to eat it in Vancouver. Remember that noodle place on Robson Street? We’d always sit at the window.” He wasn’t giving up.

“Yeah, I liked the restaurant, but when did I say I loved the soup?” At some mystical juncture, Paul decided that I loved ramen. Case closed. At least he tries, even if he’s correct only half of the time.

Sometimes I wish that I could listen with only half a brain. Think how bearable it would be when the radio plays the same song six times on the hour. Or when the neighbor’s dog barks before I’m ready to get up in the morning. Or when I’m seated next to a screaming baby on a plane. There are countless advantages.

Why do I have to listen at all?  Maybe I’ll request a pack of ear plugs on Paul’s next grocery run. At this rate I’ll have a 50/50 chance of getting them.

A Simple Life? Good Luck with That!

Shannon Kernaghan Simple-Life-400 A Simple Life? Good Luck with That! Deception Fashion Health Humor Lifestyle Risk

 

I choose a simple, uncomplicated life. The proof is in my medicine cabinet. That is, you won’t find much in the way of treasure. But you will find a bottle of skin lotion. Whether or not the promise of fewer wrinkles and younger looking skin will come true, I smear my face morning and night with this fragrance-free potion.

Recently, I decided to bump up my anti-aging regime by purchasing night cream from the same line, to firm my skin while I sleep. Unless there’s concrete as a base, I’m unconvinced that anything pink and slippery is tough enough to do the trick. But then as well as being simple, I’m hopeful.

What impressed me was the plastic applicator. For the $15 bottle I’d finished, my fingers were sufficient; for the $30 jar, suddenly I need a tiny tool.

The moment I applied the cream, my eyes started to burn. What was I thinking?  This version wasn’t fragrance-free and yet I slathered myself without a care. Sadly, my skin didn’t hear the message of hopefulness. Instead, it revolted. My nose plugged and within minutes, I had the rumblings of a headache. Face washing didn’t help. The goop obviously contains those advertised fast-absorbing properties.

The only chance to rectify my loss (and rationalize a wasted purchase) was with a quick and polite HOLD THE PERFUME note to the manufacturer. I wanted them to know that their faithful consumer questions the need for so much fragrance, and because of it, I can’t use their product.

Within two weeks I received a letter with a reference number: “We are concerned about your recent experience and will share your suggestions with our Product Development and Marketing Team.”

Then a check arrived for $30. That was nice; someone was responding to my three-paragraph gripe, even though I didn’t ask for a refund or include my receipt.

A week letter, another letter arrived and this time from an office in Ohio. They wanted me to fill out an Eye Incident Report on a Product Safety Surveillance form.

Incident? Surveillance?

The questionnaire’s tone was serious: how did the incident happen? Which eye was involved? What treatment was given? Was the eye rinsed and for how long? The form was so lengthy that my wrinkles were getting wrinkles and I was afraid to send it back. What’s next, a team of lawyers at my door? A news crew with mics extended?

Forget spreading fake news. Now I’m more selective about sharing a simple suggestion.

Next steps? I’m about to cross my fingers and throw salt over my shoulder for luck. I don’t want to risk hurting myself. Imagine the paperwork.

When Wooden Vultures Rule

Shannon Kernaghan Birthday-cake-400 When Wooden Vultures Rule Childhood Family Humor Memories Parties

 

Summer is a time to enjoy Farmer’s Markets, water sports and local festivals. It’s also a chance to celebrate an activity synonymous with fun – setting up your lawn ornaments.

While walking past a yard recently, I stopped and stared at wooden tulips, Little Bow Peep (her sheep hadn’t yet gone AWOL) and a menagerie of metal and stone critters:  a rooster, seagull, butterfly, cat, gopher and vulture. That’s right, a vulture. There was no mistaking that bald head and hunched neck. Who knew that carrion-eating birds are considered decorative? Perhaps it’s there to control the wooden gopher population.

The yard was cute and colorful, although I didn’t linger in case I was confused with a burglar casing the joint. I was in no mood to run from the plaster-cast hounds, had they been released.

Why my interest? I’m not from a family who owned garden gnomes enacting scenes of bucolic tranquility. Perhaps my mom saw steel rod construction as too much of a physical threat to her children. Even without obstacles, I managed to snap my collarbone, sprain an ankle and land on a board after climbing our fence. Luckily my nose broke that fall.

For summer threats, we already had plenty with an aboveground pool and rows of deadly raspberry bushes. Not deadly in the eating, but deadly in the thorns when you crashed your bike into them.

And there were the croquet hoops, the few always missed when packing up the game. One step through those nearly invisible wires and you found yourself close up and personal with the ground.

These are only a dusting of the hazards within the property line; I haven’t touched on our TV antenna anchored next to the house. Mom, did you know there’s a clear view of the entire city from the top of that tower?

I’m sure my mom figured there were easier ways for her kids to face injury. No need to sabotage them with majestic plaster deer and concrete toadstools when she could pull out the “big guns” once a year.

Her secret weapon? The birthday cake baked with coins and buttons. Back then, only the most devoted mothers bothered with this festive touch. Today, expect a visit from  Social Services if you empty the hardware drawer into your child’s cake mix. Oh . . . so THAT’S why I chew my food slowly.

As for celebrating your garden gnomes this coming winter, I’m sure there’s no law against it. But why bother? No one will see them under the snowdrifts. Wait a second . . . there’s always plastic Santa and his reindeer to pull down from the garage rafters.

Turns out lawn ornaments are fun year-round. Bring it on, Jack Frost . . . but don’t rush. I’m not ready to say good-bye to the wooden vulture.