Dear Snarky – Vacay Toilet Drama

Dear Snarky,

My sister has sent me a bill for $250 to cover half of the home insurance deductible she has on her lake house. I can’t believe that she expects me to pay for water damage that I’m not responsible for.

Last month my family went to stay at the lake house. My sister just recently bought it and I asked her if we could vacation there for a week. She said yes and then told me that the plumbing was a little weird and to follow the directions regarding one toilet in the house.

When we got to the lake house there were printed instructions by one toilet about holding the handle down for 5 seconds after every flush. I can’t say I’m positive we did that every time we went to the bathroom. We’re a family of 5 and it’s not like I watched everybody flush the toilet.

I was also told to turn off the water at that one toilet before I left and I forgot to do that. So, it turns out that the toilet did overflow and there was some water damage throughout the downstairs. Luckily a caretaker arrived that night and turned off the water. But now my sister is insisting I pay half her insurance deductible.

I think it’s crazy because it’s her plumbing that was messed up way before we got there. Maybe she shouldn’t have let family stay there until she got the plumbing fixed? I feel like she’s using me to pay her plumbing bill. Also, if I wanted to spend $250 I would have stayed at a hotel. The reason we went to the lake house was because it was free.

Do you think I’m right to stand my ground?

Signed, Get a Better Toilet

Dear Toilet,

Hmm, so you flooded your sister’s new lake house that she graciously allowed you to vacation in for a week and you feel no compunction to pay any part of the insurance deductible? Yeah, I don’t have your back on this one.

There were written instructions about the toilet and from reading your letter I get the feeling that there was more than one bathroom. At the very least you could have not used the troublesome toilet. You also openly admitted that you didn’t turn off the water source to the toilet before you left so basically you’re flushed.

As for your comment that if you “wanted to spend $250 you would have stayed at a hotel” well  good luck finding a lakeside hotel for a family of 5 to stay in for a week that costs $250.

The way I see it your sister is being very kind by only asking you to split the deductible and I imagine that if you had been super apologetic about the flooding and offered to help she might have let you off the hook. The fact that you’ve been a GIANORMOUS ingrate probably induced her to ask for $250.

No matter what you do one thing I’m certain about is that any future lake house invites for your family have  permanently gone down the drain.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Not an Expert But I Play One on the Internet

 

A week or two ago I wrote about how the most fundamental of science knowledge and common sense seems to be eluding a significant swath of the U.S. population. Mainly because so many people are espousing the dangers of wearing a mask due to carbon dioxide toxicity and yet medical professionals have been wearing face coverings for at least one hundred years without passing out on the operating room floor.

But, in a strange turn of events it seems that even though American’s science knowledge appears to be limited we are geniuses when it comes to math. This may appear to be a paradox because science and math are like peanut butter and chocolate – two great things that go great together.

So, it stands to reason that if you excel at math your science acumen would be above average. It’s a head scratcher for sure but let’s not dwell on this conundrum and instead focus on the surprising number of people that are suddenly gifted mathematicians.

Now, when I made this discovery I was flabbergasted, no make that shocked, because most folks will readily admit they don’t excel at math or in some cases (me) not only hate math but are still suffering from PTSD from high school Pre-Calculus.

This is why the volume of people on my social media feeds that are now suddenly math experts has been quite a jolt. It’s impressive to be sure that these folks have morphed from being in a non-math centric careers their entire adult lives to suddenly sharing their insights on complex equations and data.

Nothing has summoned all these hidden math geniuses like the debate on whether or not schools should open for the fall. All of a sudden parents were posting their interpretation on data from a wide variety of sources and proclaiming that based on their findings and mathematical extrapolations that the COVID-19 transmission rate is “way too low” for schools not to open.

The dedicated arithmetic aficionados went even deeper and shared their in-depth numerical calculations on high school sports. According to these newbie math scholars, there is no significant mathematical data to show that team sports should be in any way affected by the coronavirus.

Now Bayesian probability and Diophantine equations aside I get it that a lot of parents want the schools to open.  I’m also cognizant that school district officials that have to make these decisions are in uncharted territory and probably need the skills of King Solomon and the psychic gift of being able to predict the future to even come close to making every parent happy.

There is no answer, game plan, or confluence of ideas that will meet every family’s needs or fit in with every child’s learning style. Basically, it’s a huge nightmare that we all want to wake up from.

As parents we zig and zag and then zig some more and keep repeating the phrase “stay flexible.” But what’s not helping is people all of sudden deciding they’re experts in a field they have zero education in (who knew there are so many people that know more than experienced infectious disease experts) and thinking that reworking data or mining it to reach a conclusion that fits their plan to “get back to normal” is helpful.

It’s hard to do nothing, to just wait. It runs counter to our “see a problem, solve a problem” American sensibility. But if people really want to help the only thing most of us have any real control over is embracing the best health practices to keep our family COVID-19 free.

I don’t know what the math equation is for that but maybe it’s one we all need to learn.

Embracing the Incognito Freedom

I’m on a mask roll. Yes, I realize that I recently wrote about masks so let’s call this “Masks – the Sequel.” I feel it is my duty, nay let’s make that my calling, to continue to highlight the upside of wearing masks that go beyond the obvious of saving lives.

True confession – I’m one of those people that, at first, hated wearing a mask. It felt very claustrophobic to me and my reading glasses fogging up was not a thing of joy. But, because I’ve been a parent for 24 years I consider myself a master of being able to turn that frown upside down.

This means I’ve eagerly looked for all the reasons why I should love wearing a mask. At first it was challenging and then I experienced what I’m going to call my profound mask moment.

I had been at the city pool swimming laps and was on my way home when I realized I needed to stop at the grocery store for a few items.

Now, normally after swimming I would not venture into any establishment. I would go home and change and then head back out. This is because after I have gone swimming I look like I have been swallowed whole by a sperm whale and then after getting half-way down the whale’s esophagus the creature thinks, “Yeah, maybe I am too full,” and then forcefully regurgitates me back out into the world.

But, then I remembered that I would be wearing a mask and if I kept my sunglasses on no one would recognize me. So, did it really matter that I looked like rejected whale chow? I came to the resounding conclusion that it did not.

I, cloaked in mask and sunglasses, proudly strolled into the grocery store. Well, maybe proudly is a slight exaggeration. It was more like I kept my head down and tried to get in and out as quickly as I could because did I mention I was wearing a swimsuit cover up?

My only moment of panic was when I had to take off my sunglasses and put on my readers to decipher a spice label. The divesting of my shades left me feeling exposed.

In the Murphy’s Law world in which I reside this is when I would see one of a handful (a rather large handful I’m afraid) of people I spend my life aggressively attempting to avoid.

Number one on that list is a certain elementary school PTO board member that back in the day I had a bit of a kerfuffle with. (It’s a long story best suited for another time. But details aside suffice it to say the incident still festers like an eternal cold sore.)

Well, well, well, guess who I see at the grocery store? Yep, that woman walking towards me with her cart. I quickly ripped off my readers and yanked down my sunglasses that had been perched on the top on my head.

It was then as if everything was happening in slow motion as my brain ran through various scenarios. Would the number one person I never want to see recognize me? Should I run and hide in the frozen food aisle? Do I abandon the cart and bolt for my car? Do I open my purse and stick my head in it?

Miraculously, literally a gift from the heavens, she just walked right by me. Masked and sunglassed up I was unrecognizable. My relief was so potent I got giddy in the spice aisle. It was then and there I celebrated the mask and its gift of sweet, sweet, incognito freedom.

Dear Snarky – My Wedding Gift Was Mocked By the Bride in a Video

Dear Snarky,

 I’m extremely upset about how I was treated at my cousin’s virtual wedding shower. Because of the COVID everyone dropped off presents at her house. We did it parade style where the bride-to-be was standing at the end of her driveway and waved at all of us.

 About a week later my cousin sent everyone a video link that showed her opening the presents and also included a “Top Ten” wedding gift list. She actually rated the gifts in the video!!!! I came in at almost the bottom and I got her a $75 gift from her registry at Williams Sonoma.

 I was so upset I called my cousin and told her to not invite me to the wedding because if that’s how she shows her gratitude I’m not interested in attending.

 Now, I’m being made fun of for refusing to go the wedding and my cousin is saying, “I can’t take a joke” and that she was just making content for her soon-to-be launched YouTube channel. How should I respond to people who keep on asking me about this?

 Signed, Stunned

 Dear Stunned,

 Maybe you should have gotten your cousin a manners tutor for a wedding present because it’s obvious she’s lacking in even the most rudimentary of etiquette skills. Even if your cousin is a skilled comedian (and let me just say I doubt that very much) making fun and rating your wedding shower gifts is disgusting and to put that on YouTube is beyond crass.

 What did this nitwit bride  think the response was going to be from guests when instead of getting a thank you for their gifts they were mocked? Also, who makes fun of a $75 gift card? An ungrateful moron that’s who.

 I don’t blame you at all for choosing not to attend this wedding and good for you for standing up for yourself. Based on your cousin’s behavior the whole event sounds worse than a colonoscopy prep. As for how to respond – if anyone questions your decision just send them the video link. I’m sure that will speak volumes about why you made your decision to just say no to a bride who’s a gigantic ass.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 Meet the Mask Enforcers – Advanced Middle-Aged Moms

There’s a lot that has surprised me about people’s understanding and reaction to the coronavirus. Before COVID-19 I thought we were a fairly intelligent country.

More than 90 percent of Americans over the age of 25 have graduated from high school and almost 33 percent of Americans over the age of 25 have a college degree. In the history of our country we’re the most educated we have ever been.

Yet, in the midst of a pandemic we’re stupid, really stupid.

You need to look no further than the mask debate to realize that common sense and the most basic understanding of science has vanished from sea to shining sea.

Lord help us all when people think they can’t breathe with a mask on because of the carbon dioxide build up and yet in the same non masked breath say that masks are futile at stopping the coronavirus because the virus can permeate the mask.

Pick a lane. If a mask can trap carbon dioxide (which the mask you would wear to the grocery store cannot) then it can trap the COVID-19 virus which is 500 times the size of an oxygen molecule.

Also, for the love of basic brain function, ask yourself if all of the medical professionals that wear face coverings daily are perishing from a mask induced carbon dioxide toxicity? The answer to that is a solid no.

Honestly, I’m most disappointed in my demographic – the advanced middle-aged mom. Let’s get real here, we should be the smartest person in every room. We set the example for everyone else to follow.

We have years of wisdom. We’re savvy, resourceful, have survived parenting teenagers and have shepherded at least one child through the college admissions process and dorm move in day which means we’re resilient and battle tested.

But in person and on social media all I see are mothers fighting the mask mandates. I’m seriously perplexed. Women are the guardians of the safety and survival of humanity. Our “go to” is to be in a constant state of worry about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

In a pandemic you would think this demographic – the demographic that has their entire family geotagged via their phones for 24/7 tracking purposes (including heart and pulse rate) would be not just team mask, but team mask with a vengeance.

The AMAM’s (Advanced Middle-Aged Moms) should be all over wearing masks especially since we have a superpower – guilt which can be used for maximum mask enforcement. There is nothing quite as potent as mom guilt. It lingers and gets lodged in our children’s brains. It affixes itself to their very soul. They can’t escape it no matter how hard they try.  It’s like an omnipresent festering forcefield.

Joining guilt in our AMAM arsenal is shaming, cajoling, and throwing down the maternal gauntlet of assorted escalating threats. In the hierarchy of telling people what to do moms are the supreme ruler.

It doesn’t matter if your kids are technically adults, especially since the odds are at least one of them is still on your cell phone plan and/or you’re paying their car insurance, the advanced middle-aged mom has the authority to make their progeny mask up.

Sure, masks aren’t fun but you know what else wasn’t fun? Making our children use a car seat and then ride in a booster seat well into the fifth grade. But we enforced that rule and we put the classic mom spin on it  – “I’m making you do it because I love you so very much.”

We need to take that love and bring it! Advanced Middle-Aged Moms heed the call. This is our time. Our skill set has never been required more. It’s up to us to embrace science, to use that mom common sense that runs boldly through our veins and has kept our families safe. We are the stalwart leaders of Team Mask.

America we are coming to save you – one guilt trip at a time.

*I got my Snarky in the Suburbs mask at www.anniesbarn.com. The very creative owner is a friend of mine and she has a lot of unique masks and a bunch of other super fun stuff. Even if you’re not shopping for masks check out her website. It’s a snarky hoot!

Dear Snarky – I’m Being Harassed By My Hair Stylist

Dear Snarky,

 My hair stylist has taken to social media to try to ruin me. I have been going to this woman for a very long time and we’re friends on Facebook. Once the lock down was lifted she started posting a lot, and I mean A LOT, of pictures of her out and about doing what I would describe as risky behaviors during a pandemic.

 She’s been to tons of bars, a huge Branson pool party where no one was wearing masks and on and on. Based on this I told her privately that I was cancelling my hair appointment because I didn’t want to take the risk of spending three hours with her to have my hair highlighted and cut since she has been around so many people without a mask or any social distancing.

This woman went off on me like you wouldn’t believe. She accused me of trying to tell her how to live her life and that I have no right to comment on anything she does. After that phone conversation I thought the issue was over with forever.

 But a couple of hours later she’s on social media dragging my name through the mud and just making up shit about me. I don’t know what to do. I talked to my boss for advice (Zoom) and to give her heads up on what was happening and she said I should just ignore it and wait it out.

 What do you think?

 Signed, Freaked Out

Dear Freaked Out,

 I’m leaning towards the advice your boss gave you. Under no circumstances should you comment on any post or take to your social media to give your side of the story. It would just be adding rocket fuel to the fire.

 The fact that you talked to your hairstylist privately about your decision to cancel the appointment and didn’t go on social media for a public shaming was the right way to go.

 Now, would I have been so candid about the reason for the cancellation? Probably not, because I wouldn’t want to do that big of a deep dive on it. (#ConfrontationAvoidanceStrategy) But, I can’t really blame you for being honest and thinking that perhaps your friend and hair stylist of many years would want to know how her posts were being received by clients and might, if not alter her behavior, not share it on social media.

 As for this woman having a meltdown, well,  just from a business perspective she’s an idiot.  She’s demeaning a customer and some of her other customers might think, “Whoa, what if she does this to me down the road.” She’s also making herself sound unhinged and no one wants a mentally unstable person near them with extremely sharp scissors.

If she is truly defaming you on social media you or an attorney can send her a cease and desist notice requesting that the defamatory statement be removed, retracted, and an apology made. 

 I would stay strong, stay off social media for the foreseeable future and find a new hair stylist. Oh, and when you do get a new stylist maybe you shouldn’t become social media besties.

 

 

A Sprinkling of Silver Linings

I think we can all agree that so far 2020 has been annus horribilis. (Shout out to my high school Latin that I haven’t used in 40 years.)

If you’re one of those people that can find a silver lining in a pandemic then I salute you because I can’t. Sure, if pressed, I guess, I can come up with some positives.

I did learn things like my Internet has a lot in common with a teenager who wants to sleep all day and when forced to do some hardcore chores has a breakdown. This also educated me that while paying for high speed internet I’m getting more of a “high speed occasional, when I, sort of, feel like it which isn’t very often,” experience.

Yes, before you ask I aggressively reached out to my internet provider and I would rather get 100 nasal coronavirus swabs than have to live through that again. I finally had to go to the nuclear option which was to get my son to hard wire my home office.

This called for him to brandish a drill and lasso 40 feet of computer cable through our upstairs hallway which now resembles a mad scientist’s lair.

Maybe another silver lining is that I did have some self-discovery moments. About two months into the lock down I had an epiphany that I hate cooking dinner. In fact, I think I’ve always loathed cooking but tried to tell myself I didn’t by using excuses like, “I enjoy cooking and just hate cleaning the kitchen.”

But no, I would rather clean the kitchen than have to cook dinner. My least favorite three-word sentence now is, “What’s for dinner?”

What I do like is baking. Baking enriches the soul. Cooking dinner not so much. It’s a thankless, repetitive task.

Sisyphus instead of being forced to eternally push a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down should have been given the task of cooking dinner every single night during a pandemic. There’s a real Greek God worthy punishment.

I guess it’s also silver lining-ish that I now know what my husband and I will fight about in  retirement. Having both of us home almost 24/7 has resulted in some extremely terse exchanges.

There’s been the melt down over someone (not me) putting condiments in the designated (by me) beverage section of the refrigerator. I can’t be wrong about this because who wants pickle relish and stone ground mustard mixed in with beverages? It’s just not done.

Then there was the sprinkler war. My husband (insert eye roll) doesn’t approve of how I water our yard. (Just to clarify for anyone that is confused right now. We do not have an in-ground irrigation system. This means every summer we’re the fools yanking hoses and sprinklers all over our yard.)

I prefer the sprinklers of my childhood. The ones that sway gently back and forth. My husband likes the lawn spike sprinkler. It’s the kind that shoots out across the yard making a rat-a-tat-tat sound.

There’s also the issue of sprinkler placement. Apparently, I’m lacking in “geographical sprinkler management skills.” This led me to tell my spouse just where he could put his rat-a-tat-tat sprinkler.

We also have fought over fabric softener usage (#TeamFabricSoftener)and utensil placement in the dishwasher. For the love of god, wooden spoons and spatulas go in the top compartment. Why is that so hard to understand?

Wooden spoon drama aside, I’m a little bit impressed with myself that I could find that many silver linings or maybe they’re more like Teflon linings. Good thoughts that won’t stick.

Dear Snarky – A “Karen” Wants a Name Change

Dear Snarky,

 My mother is being ridiculous and I need some words of wisdom to share so she quits making a fool of herself.

 My mom’s name is Karen. She’s not one of those Karen’s. She’s very kind and always wants the best for everyone. But since the name Karen has become a symbol for a woman being a jerk she’s decided to change her name.

 She’s not legally changing it but she’s requested that family and friends now call Lizzie. Her middle name is Elizabeth so she’s shortened that to Lizzie. She’s still answering to the name Karen but every time someone calls her that she corrects them and says, “It’s Lizzie.”

 Also, she’s told us that we have a two-week grace period to get her name right and after that she won’t be responding to Karen.

 How can we get her to stop this? She’s 61 years old. Who changes their name at 61? I think she’s making too big a deal out of this “Karen” thing.

 Signed,  Desperate Daughter

Dear Desperate,

 Back off and leave your mother alone. What’s the harm in your mom doing a little friends and family name change? To be honest she’s an inspiration to me.

 My name is Sherry. It’s never suited me. I’ve always wanted a dramatic name like Valka or Maximillian. Anyone named Sherry is, at best, advanced middle aged. It’s like I don’t even need to tell people how old I am. My name does that for me. So, maybe I’ll take a cue from your mom and start having people call me Valka.

 Okay, yeah, that’s not going to happen but there is no real harm in what your mom is doing. She’s not legally changing it. In fact, I think she’s having some fun and a lot of that fun is coming from messing with your mind.

 Just go with it. I like the name Lizzie. It sounds fun and friendly. Also, you call her “mom” so why do you care what everyone else calls her? And not to split hairs but she’s using a nickname for Elizabeth which is her middle name so technically that’s still a part of her name.

 Relax Desperate Daughter and quit trying to control your mother. 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

I Hope Your Origin Story is Better Than Perry Mason’s

I’m over origin stories. Specifically, I’m over the use of origin stories as a way to create television and movie content. I say this because “Perry Mason,” one of my most beloved TV shows, was just given an origin story series on HBO.

After watching the first episode I was bewildered because the origin story that was concocted bares zero resemblance to the 86 Erle Stanley Gardner books or the television series. The HBO Perry Mason, a mammoth sad sack, isn’t even an attorney and his wardrobe consists primarily of the same filthy undershirt.

I get it. It’s artsy and very film noir but it’s also irritating. I mean why even call it Perry Mason? It feels like an audience bait and switch. I’m pondering that maybe the powers to be at HBO thought that no one who watched the original series that debuted back in 1957 would care. But they were wrong. Perry Mason groupies are still going strong.

I started watching the legal drama when it was in syndication back in the 80s. In college I even took Perry Mason study breaks. #SuperFan.

This is why I was thrilled when my husband told me that HBO was doing a Perry Mason series. That feeling lasted all of five minutes when I began watching the show and saw my beloved Perry in a gross undershirt (Yes, I know I seem to have an obsession with this rag of an undershirt as a costume choice but it was just so wrong, so not Perry Mason, Esquire.)

As we watched it my husband kept on reminding me it was an origin story so perhaps I need to calm down a little bit. But, I couldn’t. When does doing an origin story mean disrespecting a book series and a TV show?

It also led to me thinking about origin stories in general. It seems like most superheroes all have them to explain their powers. But what if we, mere mortals, could concoct our own origin stories. Especially, since after doing some research on origin stories I discovered that they don’t have to make a lick of sense (thus explaining the HBO Perry Mason).

I, for one, would love it because my real-life origin story is pretty pedestrian. Suburban girl grows up to be a suburban woman. Thrilling, right? But if I could take creative liberties my origin story would factor in at least one superpower and a couple of mysterious adventures.

Just riffing here but I’m thinking about portraying my childhood as very Nancy Drew-esque. I’m imagining a young me as a serious mystery solver, with the gift of invisibility that disappeared on my 15th birthday (which can be an enigma I’m still trying to decipher).

Wow, I just thought up all of this and I already like myself better. Who knew that having a stimulating origin story would be quite the self-esteem boost? Hmm, could I even be looking thinner?

Maybe this origin story thing is the way to go. Just imagine how much more fascinating life would be if we all could create epic backstories. Yes, I know they would be falsehoods, but just think about what these stories would quickly reveal about a person. It would be like an immediate Rorschach test.

From my simple disclosure that I would give myself the gift of invisibility one could surmise that I like to keenly observe people. So much information in so little time. It’s like speed dating someone’s psyche.

I just hope the origin story you make up is a lot better than Perry Mason’s and includes a clean undershirt.

Dear Snarky – My Cousin Borrowed My Clothes and Then Sold Them Online

Dear Snarky,

 My cousin and I have been best friends since we were little. We were born three days apart and a lot of people think we’re twins. Now we’re both 25 and still close.

The  problem is that my cousin borrows my clothes all the time. I usually don’t mind as long as I get them back. Lately, she hasn’t been returning them even when I ask her over and over again. I even went to her house to get my clothes back. Her mom (my aunt) helped me look for 30 minutes and we couldn’t find them.

 A couple of days later I’m on a *popular internet resale clothing site and see what I’m sure are my clothes being sold! They’re all name brands that people want like Lululemon and the name the seller was using is my cousin’s nickname so that’s all the proof I needed.

 I want to confront my cousin and I want the money she made from selling my clothes. What is the best way to do this? My mom thinks I need to do it in front of family so I have witnesses.

 Signed,

 Ripped Off

(*Snarky note: I have removed the name of the resale clothing site from the letter and replaced it with “popular internet clothing site.”)

Dear Ripped, Off,

 Whoa, that’s a brazen move by your cousin. Did she think you were just going to forget about the clothes she borrowed?

 The big issue you’re going to have in a confrontation is that your cousin is going to deny that she’s selling your clothes online and she’s going to ask you to prove it. That’s not going to be easy.

 Problem: 1 – The sites don’t list the sellers real name.

 Problem 2 – Even if you were to buy let’s say a pair of your Lululemon leggings back from what you think is your cousin’s listings it would be very difficult to prove that they were yours.

 This means I would stay totally away from going down the rocky path of accusing your cousin of selling your clothes on the Internet. It’s just going to detour into a shit show where your cousin will play the victim card and you’ll end up being the bad guy for accusing her of stealing. If your goal is to get your clothes back I suggest another route.

 Taking your mom’s advice, I would, with some witnesses present, very politely give your cousin a list of clothing she has borrowed and request (or demand based on how the list goes over) all the items back in 48 hours.

 I would also tell her that if you don’t have all your clothing back in that time frame she will need to reimburse you and you have included the price of each article of clothing she has borrowed from you.

 Are you going to get all your clothes back? Probably not. Hopefully, you will get some of the clothes returned and maybe a little bit of money.

 Sadly, what you’re not going to get back is your relationship with your cousin. It’s going to take a long time to recover from a family member blatantly stealing from you. Going forward I would continue to be very wary of this cousin.

 .