Annapalooza

Corrective Laser Eye Surgery: The Truth December 18, 2014

Filed under: Humor,Life Lessons — aniederkorn @ 10:17 am
Tags: , ,

If you’re asking yourself if you should have corrective laser eye surgery, my answer is yes, yes, a million times yes. I was once so blind that the big “E” on the eye chart just did not exist for me; it was basically one big white blurry poster board. Now I just wake up and I can see the alarm clock! I can see the hair on my legs in the shower when I shave! (It’s a bitch when you have to shave your legs by “feel”. I missed a lot of spots that way.) My only regret was that I didn’t get the surgery ten years ago.

So now that you know it’s worth it, your next decision is where to go for your surgery. Now I know this is very confusing; you’ll hear a variety of different prices quoted, even though they are all using the same technology. And let’s assume that the doctors are all equally qualified and that you’re somewhat reasonable. In other words, you’re not going to go to Tijuana and choose Dr. Nick from The Simpsons just to save a few hundred bucks.

When I got my eyes done, I got a pretty good deal. There were other places that were more expensive, but I’m pretty sure the end result would have been the same. But from one I can deduce, there is one big difference you should consider.

It’s the drugs.

Okay, and maybe the ambience, too.

But mostly the drugs.

I know this because I did a simple compare and contrast of my own experience with my friend who had the same surgery. Her surgery experience pretty much went like this:

“It was so easy. I arrived early and sat in this cushy lounge area with nice calming music and chamomile tea. They gave me some calming drugs like a good 30 minutes beforehand, so by the time I got into the operating room I was all relaxed. The surgery was done in maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and by the time I got home my drugs had really kicked in, so I just went to sleep. When I woke up I had 20/20 vision!”

My friend probably paid a good $1000 more than I did. Here was my experience:

I arrived about an hour early and was ushered into an examining room for another last-minute look at my eyes. Up until this point I had never actually met the doctor who was doing my surgery, so right before my surgery he comes into the room. He tells me he is “Dr. C” and then starts looking at my chart.

“You know that you’ll likely need reading glasses in the fourth decade?”

“Uh…sure,” I say, somewhat confused. Fourth decade? Who talks like this? And why wasn’t he making idle chitchat with me or exchanging pleasantries? I was beginning to realize that I had chosen a laser eye surgery factory, as opposed to a swanky “center” or its illustrious brother, the “institute”. I was just another patient on the assembly line; thousands of bucks made within ten minutes.

“Yes,” I agree again. “I will be turning two score in about a year, my good man.”

I don’t think Dr. C. was amused.

I was then handed a small valium about thirty seconds before being escorted into the operating room. At least I was told it was valium. It could have been some placebo or St. Joseph aspirin. How else could they afford to charge me only $1300 per eye? They had to cut corners somewhere. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to work fast enough; I was about to have thin membranes peeled back from my eyes, for God’s sake, and you choose to give me the drugs now?

When I got into the operating room I was handed a little stuffed animal to hold, which was a nice touch. (I bet that the stuffed animal at my friend’s place was brand new and cootie-free, and she probably got to take it home). But nonetheless I clung to the ratty stuffed animal that thousands of nearsighted people before me had probably held.

Okay so honestly the surgery itself was quick and painless. They put so many numbing drops in your eyes that you really can’t feel a thing, and even though your eyes are clamped open, you don’t feel any urge to blink. Trust me on this; even without the good drugs, ultra lounge, and soothing sounds of Enya, I was okay.

Immediately after the surgery I could almost read the entire eye chart – hey, that thing has actual letters on it! Who knew? I was told that within a few days I would be able to read the entire chart.

I then put on some huge goggles and sunglasses, and I my husband carefully led me to the car. I called my mom, all giddy with joy, much like Adam Kendall after he had that experimental surgery on his blindness. (Adam Kendall? Mary Ingalls’ husband? Anyone?)

Within about 10 minutes my joy quickly faded. The numbing drops were wearing off, and suddenly it felt like all of my eyelashes were sticking straight into my eyes. By the time I got home it was even worse. What was going on here? I thought that I was supposed to fall asleep and avoid all this unpleasantness. How in tarnation would I be able to fall asleep when my eyeballs were basically on fire with pain?

Lucky for me, I happened to have some other drugs at my disposal, namely some that I knew would make me sleepy (thank you, anxiety disorder!)  I popped one of those babies and waited in agony for the sleepiness to overtake me. Thankfully, it did.

I am happy to report that I do have 20/20 vision; and despite being in my fourth decade, I am not wearing reading glasses – yet.

Advertisements
 

This is 40 (Okay, 41) November 29, 2014

If you’ve reached 40 (or any age after that, really), there are probably many days when you ask yourself how the hell this happened.  To make matters worse, I keep running into more and more uncomfortable situations that constantly remind me just how old I’m getting. You know the ones. It may be talking like your mom, or maybe you are attending a lot more funerals lately.

Here is my own list of “signs I am getting old”, in no particular order. Thankfully the list does not include “automatically waking up at 5:00 am no matter what time I went to bed”, like my parents. That would suck.

  • My first thought when I wake up is: My back hurts.
  • I find myself with groups of ladies who are discussing things like gardening and Bunko, and I think to myself, My God, is this what it’s come to?
  • In my mind, 1984 was just 15-20 years ago. Wait – it was 30 years? Holy shitballs!
  • The “younger generation” is annoying the shit out of me, and I find myself complaining about them more and more – and worrying about the day they hit the work force after college. I worry the most that parents are making it too easy for kids today. How are they ever going to learn how to problem solve? How are they ever going to face any adversity in their lives when Mom and Dad aren’t there to make it super comfortable for them? Don’t get me started on the parents who think their kid is going to get a Division I athletic scholarship.
  • I can’t eat anywhere close to what I’m used to without gaining weight. Let’s keep in mind that “eating normally” wasn’t even that bad to begin with. Now I keep gaining and losing the same three pounds over and over again.
  • My highly-magnified mirror and tweezers have become a necessity. I never know when some random hair will just pop up on my face.
  • I used to dream about living in a big house. Now that I’ve got a big house, I dream about selling all my possessions and living in a tiny house.
  • I used to dream about shoes. I still dream about shoes.
  • I offer words of “wisdom” to my step kids that start with, “Back in my day…” Example: Back in my day, there was a little show called In Living Color. Now that was the only time Jim Carrey was funny.” (Ditto Eddie Murphy and Saturday Night Live.)
  • Pajamas by 6 pm in the winter.
 

Crack Den Sweet Crack Den November 8, 2014

Author’s Note: This post is dedicated to Annapalooza’s number one fan, my Uncle Jim, who told me to “Get off my lazy butt and write.” I hope you like this one.

Once upon a time I had these romantic notions of renovating a big old house. I will be the first to admit that much of this desire was influenced by watching way too many renovation shows on HGTV. My favorite was the one with the tiny cute blonde with a cartoonish voice who zips around town on her little scooter. She’d wear tank tops and cut-offs with construction boots, and in every episode she’d find some former crack den, buy it for something like ten dollars, and then renovate it in about a week or so. And everything turned out so awesome that I suddenly found myself wanting to quit my job, buy a Vespa, and start flipping houses. After all, it looked so darn easy and fun! Maybe I too could be a hip little renovation queen that all the construction guys drooled over!

So my husband and I found this big old beautiful house to renovate. I was so excited! Finally I could live out my dream of becoming a renovator (albeit one with absolutely zero construction skills).

Let me be the first to tell you that my renovation experience was nothing like the above. Not even close. There wasn’t even a scooter.

In reality, most of my renovation experience was more like an episode of Holmes on Homesbefore Holmes arrived. (And on a side note, I think HGTV should really do a spin-off where Holmes then goes and tracks down all the horrible, crooked contractors that screwed those poor people over. Wouldn’t you love to watch as he opens a can of overalled Canadian whoop-ass on those crooks?)

Even if you are working with a wonderful contractor, there are oh-so-many things that could go wrong during this entire process. Here’s one example:

Let’s just say that one day you are at Home Depot, gleefully picking out all your kitchen and bathroom fixtures. You fall in love with the brushed nickel, and who can blame you, right? Only thing is, the brushed nickel is special order. No problem, you say. It will be here within a week and that will be just in time for the plumber.

Little do you know, ‘special order’ is really code for: The manufacturer will screw up the order and send you ugly 1980’s brass and then you’ll have to argue with them and send it back in some special packaging that they didn’t include in the box and then they won’t mail you your actual order for another month, just to screw with you, and in the meantime this throws the whole carefully-planned schedule off and the plumber can’t come back again for another month and now instead of celebrating Christmas in your newly-renovated home you will be eating frozen pizza on the floor of that horrible rental your husband picked out without your blessing.  

Yeah, I’m talking to you, fixture company that rhymes with ‘bowler’.

So I mention the horrible rental because that is exactly where we ended up while our house was being renovated. It wasn’t uncommon to see police cars in the parking lot of the complex, and one time we even had an exciting search (and arrest! yay!) of two guys who had just robbed a gun store.

Every day I’d come home to the tiny apartment and greet it lovingly.

“Ah”, I’d say. “Crack den sweet crack den.”

I would then proceed to eat whatever takeout I had chosen that night. I was too disgusted by the kitchen, so the only thing I ever cooked in there was a frozen pizza.  During the entire five months.

When I wasn’t gagging in the kitchen, I had to avoid the dodgy characters living there. Oddly enough, that included the onsite manager. Sensing that we weren’t “the usual” renters (i.e. we actually paid our rent and didn’t have criminal records) she quickly started asking my husband if she could borrow forty bucks here or there. Dan, bless his heart, always gave her the money. And to her credit, she always paid him back.

Now as for the other tenants, I guess I could best describe some of them as “hangers”. These were the guys who would just hang out on the front porch all day, wasting time and poking into everyone’s business.  One of them in particular, George, was an African American gentleman who always took a particular interest in my comings and goings. Living with George meant there was a constant running commentary on your life, whether you wanted it or not. Typical days went like this:

Going off to work:

George: Well look at you, business lady. Going off to work, yes you are! All business-y. You have a good day, business lady!

Coming home from work:

George: Well look at you all business-like. You a business lady, now. You had a long day of work, you did!

Going off to play tennis:

Look at you with that racquet, you swing that racquet all over the place, yes you do!

But George wouldn’t just sit out on the front stoop. Sometimes at night he’d sit outside at a picnic table with some other men, drinking and talking. This was fine with me, except for one hot summer night when we had the windows open and our kids with us. Things were getting pretty rowdy and expletive-filled outside, and since I was very familiar with George’s voice, I could clearly hear him as the ringleader. Not exactly the lullaby I needed the kids to fall asleep to on a school night.

“Okay, that’s enough,” I said, getting out of bed and moving to the window.

“Hey, George!” I yelled.

Silence. It was liked I had caught some schoolboys smoking in the bathroom.

“He’s not here!” I heard a male voice yell back out of the darkness.

“Yes he is!” I yelled back. “Watch your mouth, we have kids up here!”

More silence, and then George’s voice.

“Sorry.”

I crawled back into bed, and my husband and I burst out into laughter. We hardly heard a peep the rest of the night.

Shortly after, we finally moved out of the crack den apartment and into our beautifully renovated home. As we left, the manager lady sadly waved us goodbye, as her short-term loan service was now unavailable.

“I hope you come back real soon,” she actually said to us.

Like hell we will, I thought silently, smiling and waving back at her.

This business-lady was OUT.

 

My Embarrassing New Year Resolution (Or, Here’s Why You Don’t Want Me on Your Softball Team) January 3, 2014

At first glance, one of my New Year Resolutions may seem a little odd. After all, I basically want to learn how to do something that most people learn when they are about five years old.

 

I want to learn how to throw.

 

Yes, you heard that right. I don’t know how to throw a ball properly.

 

You know those snotty kids who say things like, “You throw like a girl”? Yeah, I’m that girl.

 

You may be asking yourself, “How did this happen? Didn’t you have gym class? Didn’t anyone teach you how to throw?”

 

Well, call it a case of slipping through the cracks. If kids can graduate high school without knowing how to read, then I suppose this gal can be forty all grown up and not know how to throw.

 

Believe it or not, I actually played baseball from ages 6 through 8, and I could hit the ball well enough that I got on base 90% of the time. Heck, I even made the local paper’s illustrious rec league updates. Unfortunately for me, there was no such thing as “designated hitter” in Pee Wee League since my fielding was another story.

 

My ineptitude landed me in right field most of the time; if it was a special day maybe I’d be in left field. My catching was questionable at best, but then the real trouble came after I procured the ball. I was too young and naive to actually be worried about the ball coming my way (that would come later in junior high) so if it ever did, my throw would land maybe 10 yards in front of me, if I was lucky. If I tried to throw it harder, my aim would suffer. I’ll never forget the one time when I needed to throw the ball home. My throw instead ended up slamming against the other team’s bullpen fence, where all the kids cheered even louder as their base runner safely made it home.

 

At no time did my coach take me aside and show me how to properly throw. We weren’t coddled back then, folks. There were no participation ribbons, and we liked it that way! But getting back to my distressing story…

 

My poor throwing skills followed me throughout my gym class career, where I dreaded the days we’d head outside for softball. By junior high not only could I still not throw, but apparently I could not bat any more, either. (Or do cartwheels. This would later be followed by no more Tilt-a-Whirl rides.) When it came time to head to the outfield, I sprinted toward right field and hid behind anyone close by. If the ball did come my way (my worst nightmare), a boy in my class would sprint up to me, yell at me to give him the ball, and then launch it about five times farther than I was capable.

 

It was all for the best, I suppose. Just a tad humiliating though.

 

Come to think of it, most of my high school physical education career was pretty humiliating, probably because very little actual teaching happened. By that time the teacher just expected us to know how to play basketball or do things like say, throw a ball. I did have a few shining moments of glory: The time I hit a bulls-eye in the archery unit while everyone was watching; the four points I scored in a basketball game (hey, don’t laugh – this was a big deal for me); the semi-final finish in the HORSE contest; the dancing unit (of course I rocked that one), and badminton. Eat your hearts out, jocks.

 

It’s a bit pathetic that I still remember these things, however when you are picked last or almost last for all the team sports, you need all the sports highlight reels you can get.

 

So why am I so worried about this now? Why do I care about learning how to throw? It’s not like I’m going to be asked to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game anytime soon. And I’m certainly not involving myself in any company softball teams. For God’s sake, I have nightmares about that stuff, people. Plus I’ve found sports that I really enjoy, like tennis and golf and Crossfit-like workouts. (I can even flip over huge tires – so take that!)

 

Sadly though, my throwing DOES affect my tennis game. You know that nice snapping motion you’re supposed to have when you throw a ball? Well that’s the same motion that is needed for a nice strong serve. I don’t have it. At all. I have an awkward sidearm serve that confuses my opponents. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve asked me if I have a shoulder injury.

 

“No,” I tell them, “My serve just sucks.”

 

Luckily my weird motion and good placement throws them off a little, but if I want to take my game to the next level I need to step it up and learn how to serve – and throw – properly.

 

So in the words of Maria Van Trapp, my tennis coach informed me that we’ll have to “start at the very beginning.”

 

As a result, I may be the first person ever in history to have a tennis lesson with a football.

So I’ve got that going for me.

 

Why Whole Foods Market Causes Me Stress May 24, 2013

I know – you’re probably already confused. Whole Foods is supposed to be a place of serenity where all Earth-loving, crunchy, make-the-world-a-better-place people congregate and bask in each other’s awesomeness because everyone brought cloth shopping bags. They are saving the world, people…one eight-dollar salad at a time.

 

As much as I mock Whole Foods, it’s probably because I’m just bitter. I really, really want to be part of that cool group of kids at the Whole Foods lunch table. But I may as well be wearing Jordaches when everyone else is wearing Zenas. (Side note: Out of curiosity I just did a Google search on Zena jeans to see if they were still around. Overstock.com had some – but they were out of stock. Ironic, no? But then there were other people who had the nerve to list their old Zena jeans on Etsy for 27 bucks a pop and label them “vintage”. If that actually works then I should have saved all my Coca-Cola rugby shirts and Forenza apparel. I would have made a killing.)

 

Anyway…back to my outsider status at Whole Foods.

 

First of all, I live in a small town where the closest Whole Foods is about an 80-minute drive. So already it’s hard to become part of the cool club when I only get there 3-4 times a year. It’s so pathetic that “going to Whole Foods” is a downright exotic excursion; I need to pack a cooler for God’s sake. And if I’m lucky I can also stop at Trader Joe’s and Costco. Make no mistake: this is a big deal to me. I make lists of things I want to do on vacation, and “go to Costco” is one of them. When the biggest store in your town is the Big K, you live for this sh*t.

 

Obviously I have a lot riding on these Whole Foods visits; there’s a lot of pressure to get the right things and not forget anything. It’s not like I can just “run on over to Whole Foods” after work. No, no…that is for all those lucky folks who happen to live in a major metropolitan area and have the extra disposable income for a ten dollar tube of toothpaste and adorable little cakes decorated with marzipan polka dots. These people don’t realize how good they’ve got it.

 

So not only am I under pressure to get the right things, but I also need to watch myself… lest I wind up spending like Justin Bieber at an underwear-and-tattoo shop. I can’t tell you the number of times I’d start reaching for that salad in all its adorable pre-packaged goodness with greens and nuts and dried cranberries and turkey…my hand would hover over it like Indiana Jones reaching for a chalice…and then I’d see the price tag, and my hand would snap back like a trainee at a gator petting zoo.

 

My next problem is the workers. I know they are knowledgeable and friendly and helpful – that’s all good. However they put a serious cramp on my browsing style. If I so much as hesitate for more than 3.2 seconds or change my facial expression to reflect anything that comes remotely close to confusion, the nearest Whole Foods worker will be on me like Slade Smiley to a Real Housewife. I honestly get so tired of telling workers, “No thank you, just looking,” that I end up rushing my entire Whole Foods experience. And I really don’t want to do that, otherwise it’s back to problem #1 (the whole pressure thing) and then it’s just this whole endless cycle.

 

But that’s not even what stresses me out the most. My biggest problem is this:

 

Everyone else seems to know what to do.

 

It’s silly, I know. It’s a grocery store for crying out loud; I should know how to shop. After all, I am pretty much convinced that Target is my Mothership. However, the minute I enter Whole Foods I feel like a cross between an overstimulated toddler at Chuck E. Cheese and my seventh-grade self in front of a cute boy. I am surrounded by so much coolness I just don’t know what to do with myself. I freeze up in the produce before eventually grabbing some overpriced blueberries. But no one else seems to have this problem – everyone else knows exactly what they want! It’s like they have their recipes for the week engrained in their heads, so they just march very purposefully down every aisle and pluck one thing after another. It’s all very “been here, done that, have this whole cool store memorized and the cheese guy knows me by name.” It takes me fifteen minutes alone to pick out my Greek yogurt flavors. I get so tired of answering helpful employees that I just pretend I don’t hear them, and then they get all sad and offended.

 

I’m going to keep working on my Whole Foods skills, so maybe I too can look like I know what I’m doing in that store. But in the meantime I’m going to keep forgetting my cloth bags. And ankle rolling my Jordaches.

 

Once Bitten: The Tale of My Sadistic Orthodontist April 26, 2013

When I was younger I had some pretty jacked-up teeth. I wasn’t quite worthy of The Big Book of British Smiles (featured on The Simpsons), but things were bad enough that I definitely needed braces.

 

Enter my orthodontist, who basically had a monopoly on the entire snaggle-toothed population in the immediate area. The only other orthodontist available was some guy who was fighting tax evasion charges, so I guess the safer bet was to go with the guy who’d be able to finish the job. The last thing I wanted was for the IRS to storm in and shut the joint down while I’ve still got wires sticking out of my mouth.

 

This was all very unfortunate because my orthodontist’s office was nothing more than a money-making house of horrors.

 

Let’s discuss.

 

For starters, back in my day there was no such thing as “comfort” at the orthodontist. Asking for comfort at the orthodontist was like asking for a chaser with your Saganaki; it simply was not done. (Because we all know that nobody in their right mind would ever mask the glorious taste which is flaming Greek cheese. Period.)

 

This is a stark contrast to the orthodontist offices of today. I started realizing this when I brought my stepdaughter in for one of her very first visits.

 

It all started when the super friendly lady-helper cheerfully asked my stepdaughter what flavor she wanted for the mold/model of her mouth.

 

“Whoa whoa whoa,” I said. “You mean to tell me you people have flavors now?”

 

“Oh yes!” she cheerfully tells me. “We can do mint or strawberry or even bubble gum!”

 

I sighed and shook my head. Unreal. I only had one flavor for my mouth mold, and that flavor was CEMENT.

 

Next up, the ambience. My stepdaughter’s ortho office had cool retro album covers on the walls and pictures or puzzles you could stare at on the ceiling while you were reclined and getting your braces tightened. Plus they played a rock station. My ortho office featured easy-listening and absolutely no cool artwork of any kind, unless you count all the threatening pictures of kids’ messed-up mouths. These were meant as warnings to us if we didn’t wear our headgear or forgot to floss. It kind of gave a whole new meaning to Scared Straight.

 

And then there is the orthodontist swag. So apparently nowadays if you do what you’re told (avoid taffy, skillfully pick the food out of your braces, etc.) you get cool prizes like certificates for pizza. My “prize” was a crummy white tee shirt with an illustrated stick-figure brace-face girl. It said something like “Brace Yourself!” on it in big letters. Something I’d wear along with my headgear if my name was Joan Cusack and I was headed to the dance with Samantha Baker and Long Duck Dong.

 

And let’s talk about technology. My stepdaughter’s extremely personable orthodontist took the time to show this super high-tech mini movie about how her teeth would get fixed and put into their proper place. It was freaking amazing. I had to stop myself from asking him to “Play it again!” Needless to say, my doctor never showed me anything on the office Apple IIe except for maybe the outstanding balance on my hefty bill.

 

But I was tough back in the 80’s; I could handle all these inconveniences, and I never really mentioned them. But one thing I regularly complained about was the sheer PAIN.

 

Apparently my doctor subscribed to the crank methodology of orthodontics. He could barely contain his pleasure as he cranked and pulled and yanked on my teeth as hard as he possibly could. I never found out what was behind that one locked door, but my guess was it was a gym so that Doc could stay in fine prison shape and beat on all those mouths.

 

To add insult to injury, my orthodontist didn’t even fix my teeth right. Sure I look great compared to those cleft palate kids in the back of magazines. But then look a little closer and you’ll see that my bottom teeth all overlap each other. And it sure as hell wasn’t because I didn’t wear my retainer afterwards – I wore that thing religiously. (And don’t get me started on Retainers Now vs. Retainers Then. As you can tell, technology really pisses me off sometimes, especially when I see how easy it makes life for others while I had to suffer.)

 

Apparently my overbite was not fixed properly, so when I bite down, my front teeth cover my bottom teeth. They bump into each other, and my lower teeth get all moved around. So all that money and time and pain and my mouth is still messed up.

 

But at least…at least…I have this brief shining moment of revenge.

 

At one particular appointment, my orthodontist kept asking me to bite down on this piece of plastic he kept shoving into my mouth. This went on for quite a while. Insert, bite down. Insert, bite down. After a while it became rather rhythmic, and he didn’t even have to tell me to bite down. I just did. And then, instead of inserting the long orange plastic thing, he inserted his finger. And I bit down. Boy did I bite down.

 

While it’s true it was an accident, I felt pure joy. The rest of the patients around me heard the demonic doctor cry out in pain, and they all looked at me in a mixture of awe, gratefulness and worship. I was like that brave orphan who had stomped on Ms. Hannigan’s foot. If they hadn’t been strapped down, they probably would have started to clap. But then again that would have been pretty risky; come time for their own brace tightening, our sadistic doctor could easily go into full throttle crank mode, much like the life-sucking device used on Westley in The Princess Bride.

 

No, we would have to take this small victory for what it was: a small step for the young tortured mangled-mouth souls, who would soon lead the way toward a more peaceful, kinder orthodontic experience.

 

You’re welcome, kids.

 

 

 

Here’s Why I Can Relate to Cypress Hill and The Fresh Prince February 8, 2013

I hear you, Cypress Hill.

I feel your pain, Fresh Prince.

Both of you knew people who just didn’t understand.

B-Real and Sen-Dog were frustrated because nobody could understand how they could just kill a man. Well I’ll tell you why: there was some rookie who busted into their house and tried to take their chrome.

And The Fresh Prince…we all know how that turned out. His parents just didn’t understand. I mean sometimes a kid just needs to impress the ladies with his parents’ Porsche, and how are you supposed to do that if you’re wearing Brady Bunch pants, a shirt with a butterfly collar and Zips for God’s sake?

Well, my hip hop brothers…I too have people in my life who just don’t understand.

Let’s start with my stepdaughter. Once a week I will see her scouring the internet, looking for a “current event” for one of her classes. After a few minutes she will excitedly tell me about the article she found. It’s usually something about an abandoned cat with 3 legs, one eye and severe halitosis who is adopted by autistic conjoined twins after he saves them from a fire caused by their faulty iPad. What she clearly does not understand is that although this may be a super groovy story to share with her classmates, it is not – and I repeat it is NOT – a “current event”.

Calling this a current event is like calling Brett Favre a “loyal Green Bay Packer”.

Calling this a current event is like calling Audrina Patridge a “real” actress.

Calling this a current event is like calling Honey Boo Boo’s mom a “proper Southern lady”.

Let’s see…the fact that an angry, revengeful ex-cop is on the loose killing people right now is a wee bit more noteworthy than the feel-good cat story. Before you choose that current event, kids, let’s do a little gut check, shall we? If you can’t picture it showing up as a clue on Jeopardy! someday, then it’s time to find another story.

Another person who doesn’t understand is the hand crème guy at the mall. Don’t let him fool you; the hand crème guy is basically the mall’s resident gypsy. The second you take that sample of hand crème, he will take your hand, give you a flower, tell your fortune, and then accuse you of making him fall and injure himself as his buddy lifts your wallet. This is all done in a confusing Romanian accent of course.

Clearly the hand crème guy does not understand that the average person (i.e. me, who was taking a half day vacation) does not have the time to stop and hear his spiel about this magical crème which supposedly contains ground-up diamonds, gold flecks and skin cell samples cultivated from Kristin Cavalleri. (Because we all know that bitch’s hands are impossibly smooth, having never seen an honest day’s work.)

Most of us need to get on our merry way so we can buy more threadbare sweaters from Forever 21, or so we can check out the raunchy cards and tee shirts at Hot Topic. Hand crème guy needs to take a lesson from Panda Express. Distribute the delectable sample and then move on. If it’s that great, we will come back for the chicken.

The last guy who just doesn’t understand is my company’s Kaizen Event Leader. Now don’t get me wrong. I think Kaizen events are very valuable and actually kind of cool. After all, you find a bunch of stupid, redundant tasks that people have been doing for years, and you show how pointless and wasteful it’s all been. You and your team are then heroes for finding all this waste and saving the company time and money. Not only does management love it, but the entire week you are in these meetings you are fed free soda and snacks. It’s pretty kush.

The only problem I have with this is the clothing requirement. No, I’m not talking about a special dress code. Rather I’m talking about my company’s requirement for each team member to order some article of clothing with the company’s name and logo on it along with the embroidered words “Kaizen Event Team Member”.

My feelings on company apparel are quite simple. They run along a scale ranging from “Oh hell no” on one end to “The only way I’m wearing any company clothing is the day I start working for Prada” on the other.

Of course, the shirt is the first order of business on Day One of the event.

“What kind of shirt do you want?” the Kaizen Event Team Leader asks me.

“Uh…do I really need to order one?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“I’d be saving the company money if I didn’t order one.”

A confused look, then silence.

“Well how about I think about it and let you know,” I say, hoping that he will just forget about it.

No such luck. The next day I am approached again. So I try to avoid a decision by using smart-ass humor.

“Okay, get me a tank top,” I say. “Wait, no…a tube top.”

Laughter, then silence. His pen is still poised to take my order.

I really didn’t want to do this, but he leaves me no choice. I am forced to take the direct approach.

“I don’t think you quite understand,” I begin. “I don’t want a shirt. I will not wear the shirt. Not for camping. Not for highway garbage pick-up. And not even if I attended the annual Kaizen-palooza (I’m sure that’s what it’s called) conference, which, by the way, is probably someplace like Vegas…and I need to look cute there. Now this is in no way a reflection on all you fine people or this event. However, the only winner here is going to be the ironic hipster who buys this shirt from the thrift store. Because that is where it’s going once I get it.”

“You can get a sweatshirt or polo or even a long-sleeved shirt…those long-sleeved ones are nice…”

Sh*t.

“Fine. Give me a red t-shirt.”