Home is where you torment each other

By Mir
January 1, 2008

Happy new year! I hope you had an awesome night of revelry for New Year’s Eve, preferably one that included a stupid hat. I did not have a stupid hat, but fortunately my hair is stupid enough without one. We partied like it was 2008, though. Hooboy.

We were in bed by 12:15. WOO!

Anyway, yesterday we arrived here at my dad and stepmom’s house. This marks the final leg of our little tour. Although this isn’t the house where I grew up, this is the house where I feel most at home and revert to my most obnoxious behavior (though Otto might insist I’m plenty obnoxious at home, in which case I would lovingly suggest that he SHUT IT). Despite having managed to care for myself and my own house for plenty of years, when I come here I suddenly forget how to put dishes in the dishwasher and how to make my own coffee. It’s a wonder they ever let me come back.

They probably allow my continued visitation not so much because of my own appeal, but because I tend to bring them visitors they enjoy. For example: I’m pretty sure that on a trip where I bring the children, I could swing from the rafters by my toes, pelting everyone with moldy cheese all day long, and they would still be delighted because their grandchildren are here. And on this trip, I brought Otto! He’s not quite on par with the grandchildren, you understand, but he is pretty entertaining.

(Also, you have to figure that anyone who’s known me my entire life would be thoroughly intrigued by any person who chooses to live with me of their own free will.)

And so we came in out of the snow and fell immediately into our normal patterns of interaction, by which I mean that the banter began as well as the ceaseless teasing which can only happen amongst people who really, really love each other and express that love through making each other feel stupid.

It’s a beautiful thing.

To wit: Otto has this endearing habit of opening doors for me. It’s very sweet. And chivalrous. And nice. And it DRIVES ME INSANE sometimes, because he’ll even try to do it in the most ridiculous circumstances, like if we’re parked very close to another car AND I’m walking ahead of him, he’ll still try to wedge himself in there ahead of me to open the door so that I don’t have to tax my delicate self with lifting the door handle. And because I am a brat, sometimes I make a large show of beating him to the door so that I can open it myself. And because I am not one to rub it in I will then say something sensitive like “OHMYGOD! I OPENED THE DOOR! AND THE WORLD DIDN’T END!”

Well, the other day when we were leaving Albany, we’d stopped at a mall to run a couple of errands. We were on our way back to the car when I decided to do my standard brat routine of racing ahead so that I could get to the door before him. And if you’ve read me for any time at all you know where this is going, I’m sure.

Karma smacked me down.

In this case, karma arrived in the form of the side mirror on a Mercedes which I completely failed to notice in spite of it being, well, right in front of me. So I was barreling towards our car and ran FULL TILT into the mirror on this other car.

I saw stars. They were pretty!

[We then had a fun little conversation where I doubled over the arm I’d just mangled, and Otto caught up to me and said “Why are you laughing? Wait, ARE you laughing? I can’t tell if you’re laughing or crying. Wait, you’re CRYING! Are you okay??” At which point I squeaked out that for a second I’d thought maybe I’d broken my arm, but no worries, I’d probably only bruised the crap out of it. And I was right—my left forearm is looking very colorful now. You’ve heard of the Red Badge of Courage? This is the Purple Badge of Stupidity.]

And right now you’re thinking that that’s an interesting—if idiotic—tale, but what does this have to do with anything? And the answer is that once we got here and related the story of Mir vs. the Mercedes, I was cautioned no less than half a dozen times last night to LOOK OUT FOR THE MERCEDES or DON’T HIT THE MERCEDES or told IT COULD BE WORSE, AT LEAST YOU DIDN’T SMACK INTO A MERCEDES!

I have accepted that this is how my loved ones express that they adore me. Or, at least that this is how they keep from just outright calling me a moron. (Gorgonzola!)

The nice thing about being home, here, is that no one is immune from this sort of treatment. The only problem, of course, is that not everyone in the family has the same tolerance for this sort of thing. Whoops. But it was particularly enjoyable to me when my father went rooting around in a cupboard for some balsamic vinegar and started pulling out the contents. We watched as he lined up jars and bottles on the countertop, including no less than five cans of cooking spray (you never know when you’ll be called to a COOKING SPRAY SHOWDOWN) and a bottle of corn oil.

Well, it was SHAPED like a bottle of corn oil. The label SAID it was corn oil.

The contents were NEON ORANGE.

Not wanting to appear ungracious in any way (thereby tarnishing my reputation as a delicate flower), I immediately screeched “OH MY GOD! What is WRONG with that oil? It’s ORANGE! JESUS! How long have you HAD that??”

Otto joined me in the inquisition, because it really was ASTOUNDING, the color. My father was amused, my stepmom continued cooking, but my mother (who had come over for dinner) thought I was being obnoxious. And let’s be clear: I was ABSOLUTELY being obnoxious, and don’t dispute that for a moment. But I don’t ever want to lose someone I love to toxic corn oil. I harangue because I CARE, people.

So Otto and I were cracking all of the standard jokes—it’s probably turned into rocket fuel by now!—when it finally occurred to him to check the bottle for a “best by” date. My mother was still reprimanding me and commenting that she would put it right back in the cabinet, don’t listen to them, it’s fine, when oil goes bad it gets cloudy and this oil was fine because it was still clear (“CLEARLY ORANGE!” I cackled), when Otto discovered that it did indeed have a “sell by” date.


My mom continued to maintain that I was out of line and “best when purchased by” has no bearing on how long a product is actually good for, and after some debate I had to concede that if she was comfortable consuming cooking oil older than either of my children, it was not my business to stop her. My father and stepmom, however, did throw the oil away.

And they’ve been very good sports about allowing us to bring it up several times since then.

Ah, it’s nice to be surrounded by such love.

So I guess the only question I have, at this point, is which would you choose: Smashing into a Mercedes out of stupidity or eating decade-old neon orange Mazola?


  1. Chuck

    Since I’m a bachelor, I’d probably choose the neon orange corn oil.

  2. Daisy

    Ouch. To both. And Happy New Year to all of you! (Yes, I just went to the cupboard and checked the date on my canola oil. It’s April ’08. I’m good.)

  3. Sheila

    I guess the answer to your question would have to depend on whether or not the Mercedes’ alarm was engaged and went off, loudly, on the point of impact with my arm. If I had to stand in a parking lot, crying and laughing with pain and mirth, while simultaneously being watched by dozens of holiday shoppers AND waiting for the owner of the car to come and investigate possible damage, I guess I would consume the oil.

    It was only a “Best when purchased by” date, after all. Probably good for another couple months, at least.

    Happy New Year!

  4. Chris

    Um, neither.
    Happy New Year Mir! Good Luck in 2008. Your blogging truly makes my day.
    Yes, I really do have a life, I just need some laughs to start the day or end the evening. ;)

  5. All Adither

    I’d always choose injury by Mercedes.

  6. saucygrrl

    Oh I’d take the Mercedes incident hands down (har har… get it? hands? you hurt… oh forget it, I’m lame.) My mom sounds a lot like your mom. The last time I was at her house I tossed out bottles upon bottles of expired prescriptions and OTC drugs. Not only that, but her spices had expiration dates from the 80s, some were clearly purchased well before the FDA instituted “Best By” labeling. She insisted that all those spices were still good because they were dried and everyone knows that dried spices last forever.

    I don’t even want to get into the state of the refrigerator. Let’s just say I bring a lot of groceries when I visit.

  7. Jean

    Albany??? You were in Albany? Had I known that, I would have invited you over to drink wine and eat cookies while not knitting.

    Hope you are enjoying your northern tour, despite the snow and those nasty Mercedes that just loom up on you.

  8. MomCat

    I’d take a Mercedes incident over a toxic oil incident any day. The pain of a bruise is over quickly (though the humiliation can be drawn out for an interminable interval) while digestive upset lingers.

  9. Em

    My husband once found in my mothers cabinet a jar of Tang (which deserves an exclmation point all by itself) with a label that proclaimed Tang a “proud sponser of the 1984 summer olympics”. To be fair it wasn’t recent, it was probably 1995. But it was 1995! So that is the running joke when we aren’t sure how old something, especially in her house, is. If it isn’t the proud sponser of the 1984 summer olympics, its probably ok.

    To answer your question, I would pick the oil. I am certain I would not only have set off the Mercedes alarm but also turned to notice a passanger waiting in the car. I expect it also would have broken off and I would have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a new one. I never heard of death by corn oil.

    Have a nice rest and a safe trip. Happy New Year.

  10. jennielynn

    Ah, the price of humility. It just wouldn’t be the New Year without a Mercedes shaped bruise, ya know.

    And I can relate to the family dynamic. My brother’s fiancee was horrified that we were razzing my dad about his communication board (he had a button programmed to say, “honey bunny.” In that Stephen Hawking computer voice. God, we died.) until he hit the button that said, “Shut up or I’m cutting you out of the will.” This tells you alot about my family.

  11. Half-Past Kissin' Time

    I just have to tell you that yours is my favorite read. You always make me laugh out loud, and I look forward to continuing in 2008. Happy New Year!!

  12. elizabeth

    Home is, when you go there, they have to take you in.
    at least that is what my mother tells me. still some visits are better than others, ya know?
    and I would go for the mercedes bruise. neon anything is just the wrong color for oil, maybe food in general, no matter what the sell by date is. (and that one was impressive)

  13. Sandee

    So, you didn’t get your sense of humor from your mom?

  14. Kerry

    Hey, you could write your own “Would you rather” book.

  15. LuAnn

    I had the same kind of thing with coupons once, except they were only about 5 years old. *LOL*

  16. Zee

    OMG. I SO DID that Mercedes-stupidity thing a few days ago! Except I ran into my own car’s mirror, which may be even stupider considering it was in my driveway, where it always is, so you’d think I would have known it was there. In my defense, it was dark out. But still! And, as you know, it hurt like a mo-fo and I’ve still got the bruise.

    So I guess I’d choose the Mercedes over the oil by default? (Though now you mention it, I’m considering buying a new bottle of oil and letting the one I have sit in my cupboard until it turns orange. Because I’m strange like that.)

  17. ali

    happy new year ;)

  18. BOSSY

    Happy New Year sweetums, from sister Bossy.

  19. Rachel May

    Hmm… I’m thinking I’d take the Mercedes bruise. Much easier to explain to the ER folks. (“Well, you see, it was a FAMILY affair, and SOMEONE had to eat the neon orange oil, and, well, I guess I just drew the short straw… Drinking? No, I haven’t been drinking!”)

    Echoing pp to tell you that I wait with baited breath and on the edge of my seat to see what Mir has to say each day. Your wit and charm (and passion for shoes and shiny things) are truly inspiring. :-P Happy New Year!!

  20. Flea

    Th oil! I pick the oil, Monty! Do I win a prize? Orange is such a pretty color. I left half a bottle of apple juice in the cupboard for a few months and it went past it’s Best Buy date. But it was REALLY YUMMY when I finally found and had some.

    Have a happy new year!

  21. transplanting me

    oh, the oil. definitely the oil. it might be able to be used as an alternative fuel. worth at tray at least… in someone else’s car perhaps.

  22. Jennifer

    My dad has a bottle of tabasco that is at least a decade old… and dark brown.. I asked him if it was the chipotle kind, “No, it’s just well aged.” and thinks that it will continue to improve with age… bleaaagh

  23. nan

    Hee hee! Ouch, sorry about your bruise. Put some arnica cream on it, that stuff works wonders for bruising. Happy new year, one of my favorite-ever bloggers!

  24. Jenny

    Happy New Year! I wouldn’t rush back home to Georgia, though, because it’s powerful cold right now.

    Two things: I have a can of Campbell’s Chunky Garlic Mashed Potato soup that’s probably about the same vintage as the corn oil, that’s been with me through several moves. I just… can’t seem to throw it away. But that means that I have to periodically yell, “Not THAT soup!” at someone. Which is crazy-pants.

    Also, our family does the same thing. Which is all fun and games until the wine has been flowing a little too freely at dinner and someone finally, after hours of merciless teasing, takes offense. And usually, after plenty of legitimate opportunities to take offense, they take offense to something totally innocuous, like, “I didn’t hear you, what did you say?” And then it’s all over.

  25. Burgh Baby's Mom

    I recently caught my Toddler eating popcorn that was best sold by 2003. All kids should eat food that’s been expired longer than they’ve been alive, don’t you think? (Note to self: check date BEFORE giving kid food.)

    The oil wins it, hands done.

    Happy New Year!

  26. juliness

    Now that’s funny!

    (I am referring to the orange oil and NOT you smashing into the Mercedes, although that did make me chuckle. Sorry.)

  27. Megan

    It takes style and sofistakaytshun to get injured by Mercedes – I hope you pointed that out. Down market types have to make do with Hundais and stuff. That neon oil is nothing though. My mother’s pantry has depths that none do dare – plus the whole crazy-making food hoarding thing she has happening which means the basement is full of vintage canned food and retro pasta. Very chic.

  28. ImpostorMom

    eww…Mercedes, definitely.

    I actually think it might be a good rule of thumb not consume anything that is neon orange.

  29. Heidi

    But ImpostorMom, not eating anything neon orange would eliminate Cheetos from our diets.

  30. Heather Cook

    My horse is named Mercedes. I have not smashed into her but I came close to falling off of her.

  31. Sophie

    Lordy! Just like my mom! What is it with these PARENTS?!? Old folks and old food — it’s epidemic!

  32. Alison

    My parents have many items in their cupboards that laugh in the face of use by dates. This, combined with my dad’s reputation as a fantastic chef who makes food I thoughtlessly consume, makes me wonder somewhat.

    Happy New Year Mir, and a heartfelt thank you from here in the UK for being part of my day whenever I check out my few favourite blogs.

  33. elizabeth

    I forgot to mention the jar of homemade B&B pickles (I made) that I found in my parent’s pantry during our recent visit – dated 1984! Dad says he’s scared to open them – but only because there isn’t a backup jar. at least they are still right color for pickles.

  34. getsheila

    Hm, do I have to choose? How about if I SLIP on the skanky old oil, thus causing me to CRASH INTO the Mercedes?

    Shouldn’t bacon salt be involved somehow?

    Happy New Year, all y’all.

  35. Little Bird

    I’ll take the mercedes. I love the color orange, but not as a cooking oil. I do however end up keeping food products around far longer than their “best by” dates. To wit, My mother had a project that included her buying 12 or so cans of tomato soup. Like say, 4 years ago. Did you know that canned soup has an expiration date? I didn’t. I just threw out the last FIVE cans a week ago. Apparently the shelf life of canned soup is only one year. Go figure.

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