My home is ready "for the children."

Just standing in my bathroom, brushing my teeth, I was suddenly amazed to see how many of the things around me in my childfree house are full of warnings for my nonexistent children.

The cord on my hair dryer has a tag which cautions me to warn children about the risk of death from electric shock, should they get the bright idea to drop a plugged-in hair dryer into a bathtub. There’s even a charming illustration of a full tub and a hair dryer just about to plunge into the moist depths, with the big international “NO” circle-and-slash symbol over it.

I looked at the bucket of kitty litter, only to see that I should never partially fill the bucket with water and then let a child climb in head-first. According to the illustration, little baby Upsidedown might drown in as little as a few inches of water. When I was a kid, buckets never had such warnings. We even kept a bucket of water out on the back patio for the dog to drink from, and amazingly, neither I nor my brother ever managed to drown headfirst in that bucket.

Oh look, the garbage bags! I should never let my phantom children play with them, or put the garbage bags over their phantom heads. As much fun as that sounds, the bags present a “choking hazard.” And let’s not even start on the bottles of cleaning chemicals, which all fretfully recommend I keep them out of the reach of children.

So even though I have no children, will never have children, and a child has never been in my small bathroom, my bathroom still has the word “children” in at least a dozen places.

What a world.

Workin' at the Cat Wash! Whoa, whoa, yeah!

It’s amazing how one cat can watch the other cat being given a bath, and just not realize that they’re next.

Commie watched Trouble receive her bath — in fact, he got up on his tippy-toes so he could look into the bathtub and get an eyeful of the proceedings. It was almost like he was laughing at her. “Look what Mommy and Daddy are doing to you, Trouble! I’m sure glad I’m over here, a foot away, where I’m completely safe! Ha ha ha!” But overall, Trouble was the easier cat to bathe. Smaller, not as strong, and when it was all over, she sat on the bath mat so I could towel her off. Commie, however, is now hiding under the couch, much more damp and fairly miserable. Even the smell of wet cat food won’t bring him out of his exile.

It’s a good thing we only do this every 6 months or so. Nobody remembers what’s going to happen when we bring out the big pink bowl and the apple-smelling cat shampoo.

Big Yellow Taxi

Driving home tonight, I was treated to some unknown pop group’s fresh new rendition of “Big Yellow Taxi.”

How many times does this song need to be redone? I’ve heard like 5 versions of it already, and “BYT” is not a song I have ever sought out. In this particular version, apparently they thought to change it up a little by using some different notes than the original. And add some syllabubs here and there. (I meant syllable, not syllabub. I’ll give a quarter to the first person who gets the reference.) Heck, I made my dad a CD with 15 different versions of the song “Hotel California,” because he has this “thing” for the Hotel California. When we went to Cabo San Lucas a few years back, he hired an all-day taxi to take us an hour out into the desert to the town of Todos Santos, where we proceeded to have lunch at the Hotel California. Such a lovely place. We were livin’ it up at the… well, you get the idea. 15 versions, people! I don’t care if the song is considered a classic, there should be limits to the number of times people can (to quote American Idol,) “make the song their own.” Want to remake a song? Pick something that hasn’t been done before. Remake “Xanadu.”

Personal Choice Discrimination: Yet Another Screed

A conversation with a friend yesterday got me to thinking about some things. We’ve all been told it’s not OK to discriminate against somebody because of their race, gender, handicap… anything that’s beyond their control. But when it comes to peoples’ personal choices, apparently it’s open season for scorn, derision and downright nastiness.

You see, I’ve decided to not have children. When people find this out, there’s apparently some unspoken signal that it’s now open season on my choice. I understand that a lot of people have a hard time comprehending why I’d make such a choice (though the reasons are many, and good), but your lack of comprehension is no reason to harass me. The “childfree” (as “childless” implies something is missing in one’s life) have developed a phrase for this particular harassment: Breeder Bingo. It’s the lines that childfree people hear so frequently you could fill a Bingo card with them. I’ve had many of these said or written to me, both online and in face-to-face conversation. Lines such as:

“You’ll change your mind when you’re older.” (Ah, yes. Because obviously at 30 I’m still too young to know my own mind.)
“But you’d be such a good mother!” (How can you tell that? I bet people thought Andrea Yates would be a good mother too.)
“What if your parents had thought the way you do? You wouldn’t be here!” (Yes, and I wouldn’t have to put up with this interrogation, either.)
“Who will take care of you when you get old?” (Retirement planning.)
“You’re not a real woman/real grownup until you’ve had a child.” (Since 9-year-olds can have kids, I doubt this is true. And yes, I’ve been told I’m not a “real woman.” Isn’t that charming.)
The list goes on: “You don’t know what real love is until you’ve had a child. You must have been abused as a child to hate children. You must have serious anger issues to hate children.” Strangely, even though I refer to the childfree movement as the “BabyHaters,” I don’t hate children. But in expressing that I don’t want them, it’s assumed that instead of loving children, I hate them. There is, apparently, no middle ground for child ambivalance.

It’s also interesting to be in the cultural minority on other things that may or may not be considered personal choice. I used to be classified as morbidly obese. Being fat isn’t necessarily a personal choice, but it isn’t necessarily genetic either. For myself, it turned out to be complete personal choice; I made the choice of what to eat, and it turned out that those choices made me fat. So since for some people it’s a personal choice, it’s OK to make fun of them. Hell, I was again in the Personal Choice Minority when I lost weight using the Atkins diet, and was harangued with lines like, “don’t you get tired of eating all meat?” (Not really, since I’m eating more vegetables now than I did when I did a low-fat diet.) “Your cholesterol will go off the chart.” (Actually, my triglycerides are way down and my ratio is fantastic. Total cholesterol is 148.) It goes on and on. Since it’s not a part of my genetic makeup to follow the Atkins diet, it’s therefore fair game for discrimination.

I guess my point is that no matter whether you’re a minority for reasons beyond your control or for choices you’ve made, there’s no excuse for harassment. If you choose to have children, I’m not going to discriminate against you for it; you’ve just made a different choice than I have. If you vote for the other party, I’m not going to treat you like a lesser person for it. If you’re overweight, I’d gladly tell of my personal experience, but only when asked. As long as your choices don’t infringe on my own rights, you can do whatever you like. Make whatever choices you want. I just wish people would offer that same respect to me.

Reality Check

I’m just now catching up on my reality TV from vacation. I did manage to see Survivor last Thursday night, and all I can say to that is, “you go girls!” Meanwhile…

American Idol: Wildcard Show — so 4 more hopeful kids will move on to the finals. And not all of the wildcards are from the finals; a couple of them made the quarterfinals but weren’t selected for the semifinals. An interesting twist, which injects a hearty helping of “meh” into the contest. With most of the QF-not-SF kids, it’s pretty obvious why they didn’t move on to the SF round in the first place; even the technically good performances are accompanied by a prominent lack of personality and stage presence.

Of course, my love is still in the protected-pocket of übergeek Clay Aiken. I’m sure he’ll be zipped right into the finals; that boy is so perfect he’s like a singing robot. My little Claybot. Danger, Will Robinson!

It doesn’t help these kids that instead of a live piano, they’re singing to cheesy karaoke beats. Besides Clay, I’d say the movers will be trashy blonde Kimberly Caldwell, stilted Michael Jacksoneer Chip Days and Trenyce, who not only looks a little like a female impersonator, but should have been scolded harshly for tossing aside what I’m sure was a perfectly serviceable last name.

All right, I want to make sure to log my predictions before the airing of the results show (that’s 8, 7 Central). Now to kill an hour watching the premiere episode of Married by America from Monday. I expect it to suck like a Hoover.

One for my baby, and one more for the road…

I love to travel, but I also love coming back home at the end of a trip. The cats are overly affectionate, I slept great in my own bed, I can sit quietly with nothing to do and nowhere to go.

Some brief notes about the grand voyage — first off, Arizona. Mesa, to be specific. It’s part of the “Greater Phoenix Metroplex,” which means that Phoenix is in the middle of a big ol’ circle, and there are tons of other cities ringing it: Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Glendale… overall, the area has over 4 million residents (I just read that the city of Seattle is home to just over 500,000 residents). Simply put, it’s a big area. They have all the room they could ever want for expansion. We drove in from Las Vegas, and once we reached the Phoenix area, there was still an hour of driving to get around to the other side of the Phoenix area. The entire town of Mesa is big and flat and laid out in a beautiful grid. It’s an urban planner’s dream. But once you get into the city, you see that it’s just endless strip malls, drug stores and “adult” retirement housing communities. Every house in my parents’ community had at least one fruit tree in the front yard — juice oranges, navel oranges, grapefruit, the occasional lemon (which gave me Simpsons flashes) and one kumquat which had already been picked clean. I brought back some fresh-picked lemons, which are so sweet you could just eat them straight. Mmmmmm.

Onward. On Monday we drove up to Laughlin, Nevada to spend the night. Laughlin is a strange little town on the Colorado River — there are big casino/hotels, but there are RV parks galore. We stepped into a McDonalds in one of the casinos, and we were the only two people under the age of 50 in the room. I guess it’s a more laid-back, relaxed version of Vegas for the elder set. It’s like when I have to visit the gastroenterologist; I’m usually the youngest one there by at least a couple of decades, which makes me feel like a kid again. On the plus side, our room at the huge, nice Harrah’s was only $19 for the night. And since we went over to the Ramada casino (wrap your brain around THAT concept) and won almost $40 with our last quarter (raw luck, I assure you), our room and meals in Laughlin were paid for by the magic of legalized gambling.

Back to Vegas on Tuesday. A nice two-hour drive into town, then we bummed around downtown (had the Paradise Buffet at the Fremont Casino for lunch, and it was very not bad) and then blew our last hour at Treasure Island before heading to the airport. Overall, a very relaxing and fun trip. However, poor Scott has to leave this morning and drive to Bend, Oregon for a few days of road comedy. So it was nice to spend so much time with him, as I’ll be a Comedy Widow for a few days now

As for now, I have several dozen emails to return. Sucks to be so popular! 🙂