Faster and faster

By Mir
September 29, 2009

A fairly standard thing for Otto and me to say to one another is: “You love me. But you have no idea why.” He says it to me when he’s just come up with a scheme for another clunker of a car he simply must have, or I say it to him when I’ve just finished completely taking out on him any number of things that aren’t in any way his fault. It’s a little lovebird ritual of ours. Afterward, we stare deeply into each other’s eyes and argue about whose turn it is to go upstairs and yell at the kids.

(Ahhhh, romance. Don’t be jealous.)

But I actually know why Otto loves me. Otto loves a CHALLENGE. And he clearly hit the jackpot with me, no? He loves teaching for much the same reason. And one of the things he loves to tell his students is that they need to “fail faster” (I’m sure someone knows who he’s quoting, but I am too lazy to look it up) because failing is part of the learning process and gets them to the successes.

And THAT, my friends, is why Otto loves me. I’m failing fast and furious all over the damn place.

A few recent failtastic triumphs for your perusal:

Problem-solving fail!
Part of Otto’s contract is that he handles bugs. Lest you think I’m a pansy girly-girl, let me assure you that I most certainly AM a pansy girly-girl, but also remind you that here in Georgia the bugs do not screw around. Palmetto bugs—as one of my commenters was kind enough to point out, on a previous entry—are giant, mutant cockroaches with a pleasing southern name that they hope will make you forget that they are giant mutant cockroaches. They’re everywhere down here, and although everyone sane has a Bug Guy (love the bug guy!), occasionally one gets inside the house. And then I make Otto deal with it.

Except Otto wasn’t here over the weekend, and as Licorice and I lounged on the couch Saturday night watching some Terrible Television™, a palmetto bug only slightly smaller than my dog waddled across the family room floor.

“Licorice,” I whispered. “Go get it! Kill the bug!” She cocked her head at me, licked my nose, and went back to sleep. Fat lot of good SHE turned out to be.

I ended up chasing it around our easy chair for a while, and finally, I pulled out my vacuum cleaner and waited. The next time he poked an antenna out, he was sucked up the hose with an extremely satisfying THWACK.

But then I wasn’t sure what to do, because he could probably still get out of the vacuum bag, right? Like any intelligent person, I took the entire vacuum out into the garage and left it there. When Otto got home the next night, he changed the bag and the palmetto bug leapt out and tried to eat his face. Whoops.

Grocery fail!
I normally grocery shop on the weekends, but with Otto gone and being a complete slug sucking up all of my valuable time this past one, I didn’t manage it. So I vowed to get groceries yesterday during the day. And ran out of time and didn’t go. So suddenly it was 6:00 and I hadn’t made anything for dinner because we had no food. Or at least no food that wasn’t frozen solid. At that point I needed to make two separate trips out; first, to get some fast food for dinner, and later (after dinner), to actually get groceries.

First I went to fetch Mexican for dinner, because it’s quick and easy and I can easily find something yummy that’s gluten-free. I ordered for everyone else and then chose some tacos for myself. I forgot to specify hard (corn) shell. So of course I got home and discovered they were in a soft (flour) tortilla. Doh.

Later I went to the grocery store without a list and forgot half of what I was meant to buy, and furthermore got home and realized I’d only assembled about half the things I need to actually make and serve dinners this week. Double doh.

Luxury living fail!
Last Friday was blazing hot, and when Monkey got home from school and asked if he could swim I said SURE, GREAT IDEA! We have used the pool very little this year (thanks to Chickadee’s skin malady and a lot of travel), so I was pleased he was wanting to go in. Of course, the weather has been (relatively) cool lately, so the water in the pool was freezing. This meant that Monkey didn’t so much “swim” as he stood there in the shallow end, arms held out from his body, lips turning blue, asking me incessantly if I was coming in, too.

As for me, I pointed out that I would just LOVE to come in, but Licorice wants me to sit out here with her. Ahem. And then I opened up our poolside umbrella because it was 95 degrees outside and Licorice looked like she was about to have the doggie equivalent of a heat stroke.

We girls then sat in the shade and got splashed a couple of times, and eventually Monkey got out and we went inside.

Here is where I hang my head and tell you that I forgot to close the umbrella. I was helping Monkey dry off, I was wrangling the dog, I was oblivious. I screwed up; I admit that. And the umbrella has been known to fall over in strong winds even when left closed, so I really should’ve been more careful.

“Did you leave the umbrella open?” Otto asked me, yesterday. It should be noted that we’d had some pretty gusty winds that afternoon.

“Oh no!” I said. “Did it fall over?”

“You could say that,” said Otto. Turns out that it, um, didn’t just fall over. It fell in the pool. The entire 9′ umbrella AND base. Into the deep end.

(Don’t worry, Otto fished it out. I have no idea how, but I’m very impressed.)

I’m not saying it’s IMPOSSIBLE that someone could fail more than me, providing her spouse ample opportunity to save the day… I’m just saying it’s extremely unlikely. I’m totally mastering this failing thing. Lucky, lucky Otto!


  1. annette

    I was marveling the other day about things my husband does that I have just never bothered learning about or just don’t deal with. They fall along the lines of the (gasp) gender seperate roles of the 1950’s era :). I was thinking, if he ever dies before me, I would be totally lost. Then I remembered all that I do along those same gender lines and realized he, too, would be in a heap of trouble if I went first. I think that is one thing that keeps our marriage strong. A mutual appreciation of what the other does to keep the family going. And, a huge amount of trust and confidence in the other person that what he/she is doing is benefitting the family.

  2. Aimee

    I hereby dub thee Princess Failerina! Well done…

    As for the palmetto bug (shudder) I give you credit for attacking it with the vacuum and not just selling the house. ;)

  3. dad

    Just flutter your eyelids and declare that “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.”

    Incidently, I would eppreciate an invitation to watch Otto remove the ballasted umbrella from the bottom of the pool the next time it happens.

    What a guy!

  4. Megan

    I don’t see how that was a problem solving fail! When faced with a cockroach I leave the room. Then I leave the house. Announcing, if anyone’s there, that there is a BUG in the house that I DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE and it will be gone when I return – IF I return. If no one’s there I still leave and announce to the room in general in the hopes that the cockroach will get the message and, sad and unloved, simply slink away. Fortunately in my current home we do not have any of the loathsome beasties so I have not had my problem solving skillage challenged. I’m totally impressed that you had the cojones to chase the thing around AND suck it up with the vacuum. I’m also sort of getting skeevy just thinking about it scuttling and rattling and… gotta go.

  5. Holly

    We don’t have cockroaches out here, thank GOD! But we do have tons and tons of spiders and I too use the vacuum! Smart minds think alike!

  6. MomCat

    Aimee, ROFL!! That would have been my strategy with a big bug – “Hello, Remax?”

  7. Mrs. D

    I just Googled “palmetto bug” which was a horrible horrible idea. And after passing out for a while, I had to return to your site to give you mad props for not just choosing to move. If you have a “bug contract” with your husband (as I do), then you clearly went above and beyond. * Shudder. *

  8. Randi

    Ha ha ha ;). You know, a lot of women I’ve met have actually thought I was a bad woman for “depending” on my husband to do things like kill bugs and take out the trash. Hey, I do dinners, he does his jobs, right?

  9. My Kids Mom

    bathroom cleaner! One good spray of that stuff and the nasty critters lay on their backs and wave their feet around until they die. Then a really, really large wad of paper can be used to scoop them up and leave a clean spot behind without having to feel their body through the paper (tactile issue here) CAUTION: method not to be used on carpet

  10. Em

    I agree that the way you dealt with the bug was not a fail. It is exactly what I would have done. The only difference being that I have a cannister vacuume so when I suck bugs up with them I assume (and please don’t tell me if I am wrong, it is how I sleep at night) that there is an actual air vacuume in there and so they die in the cannister of oxygen deprivation. It is also easier to see them in there so they can’t use the element of surprise if they try to eat your face off.

    I also would have disavowed any knowledge of HOW that bug got in there once the face eating attempt had occurred. So, honesty. Maybe that is why Otto loves you?

  11. meghann

    Aren’t palmetto bugs FUN?

    We are lucky, one of our cats is an expert at killing them. So I just have to wait till he gets bored playing with it, and then I make one of the kids get a tissue and flush it down the toilet. Heh.

  12. Nicki

    I don’t get the bugs down here either. I grew up in the Adirondacks. I should not have to deal with cockroaches. You can dress them up all pretty and call them Palmetto bugs, but nail on the head…ginormous roaches. We had one the other day, and while we have a proclivity for naming everything…right down to the praying mantis on the screen porch…I stood calmly yelling for S. (While I fluttered my eyelashes and declared that I often rely on the kindness of others.)
    He conquered the roach while battling Bishop. That baby Dane decided that he wanted the paper towel S was using more than ANYTHING. Ahhh. Nothing like a little comic relief on a Saturday night.
    I don’t even want to talk about the spider that was crawling across the floor towards me last night when S swooped in AGAIN. It’s official. I can remodel a home, maintain a lawn, run power tools, and make elaborate meals, but I still need a man to kill my bugs.

  13. Leslie M.

    Here’s a tip to avoid the face-eating part of sucking up bugs with the vacuum cleaner: put a cheapo flea collar in the bag when you put a new one in. Flea collars generally don’t work in the open air (ie, on your dog), but if you put one in an enclosed space such as a vacuum bag or canister, it works swell! I assume it would work on palmetto bugs as well…. which I also googled. Bad idea. You deserve a medal!

  14. Half Assed Kitchen

    You’re making me grateful to live in bug-free, cool Seattle.

  15. Alix R

    I have been blessedly roach free, but spiders… that’s a whole ‘nother story. One of my previous rental places in my incarnation as a single woman had a basement that I, for the most part, refused to enter because it was lousy with these spindly little spiders that seemed to feast mainly on the box elder bugs that mysteriously kept getting in to the basement. Whenever I HAD to do laundry, I would arm myself with a grill lighter – you know those wand lighters? – and creep down the stairs, setting the spiders on fire as I went. By some miracle, I never actually burned the place down.

  16. Carla Hinkle

    I once left the (wooden) patio umbrella up and the next day we got a rain-and-windstorm (EXTREMELY rare in So Cal) and the wind lifted the umbrella, tipped the table, smashed some of the umbrella ribs, and ripped about half the umbrella seams. Oops.

  17. Katie in MA

    Clearly, you were meant for each other. (And what a nice way of showing your kids that if someone REALLY down-to-their-toes loves you, they’ll love you for who you are!)

  18. Sara

    You have to go check out it’ll make you feel better I swear!!!

  19. Nicole

    Yeah, I don’t do bugs. Period. In the South, North, East,or West. Bugs are why men were invented.

  20. Brandy

    You sucked the bug up in the vacuum cleaner, that went above and beyond your contract. *G* Um, we lived in MS for a couple of years while husband was in the Air Force. I had never seen a palmetto bug until then. Nasty creatures. Ugh. I can tell you they are attracted to pine cleaners and pine trees. Just a bit of FYI.

  21. Another Anna

    My husband and I have an agreement: he tackles crawling things (mice, spiders), I take care of flying things (bats, moths). Things that both crawl and fly leave us wheedling and bargaining before I play the girly-girl card and he takes them out. It works for us!

  22. ellen

    My DH is deployed right now, and I have learned several truths while doing “his” jobs. #1 Cheap garbage bags are just that–CHEAP. #2 Anything that goes in the pool must be rinsed first. Cleaning the pool is a chore, no need to make a bigger mess in there. #3 The bug guy is also a rat guy. I’ll opt out of sharing the details of that one:)

  23. Ani

    for ellen: but bug guys do not do BATS. I asked, but don’t ask my why I needed to know. :-)

    I can deal with the roaches, I grew up in the tropics. But CRICKETS! Ew…gross gross gross. I hate jumping bugs.

  24. mom, again

    *sigh*, I made the mistake of seeming competent to handle the guy jobs, and of taking the compliment when my boyfriend said he admired my ‘independence’ and ‘self-confidence’. Now that he’s my husband, he seems to think my past abilities to deal with bugs means he doesn’t have to.

    But, I’d never dealt with mice, so he couldn’t get out of that.

  25. Jenn

    Hmmm, our bug guy does do bats. Or maybe our bat guy does bugs. Anyway, he was kind enough to look for signs of palmetto bugs in permanent residence while seeing how big a bat problem we had. Until we dried up our crawl space we had a bug wander through every week or so. The best was the one that wandered through the living room while we had our new friends over for dinner.

    I think cave crickets (hoppy bugs) are kinda cute, especially since they keep to the garage, but I hate, hate, hate your standard black prairie cricket.

  26. Heidi H

    I left you an award on my blog! Check it out!

  27. Michelle

    AH yes, the palmetto bugs. Flying minions of the devil. After living in Houston for almost 30 years, I have perfected a way to deal with them. Big can of Aqua Net Extra strong hold hair spray and giant phone books. Hose the buggers down with Aqua Net. Then while it’s laying there stunned, drop the ginormous phone book on it. Leap up and down on said phone book shrieking and/or making squeaking noises. Then leave the whole mess alone for the appointed bug killer to deal with upon his return home.
    Problem solved!!

  28. Chuck

    We have flying cockroaches here. Yes, FLYING. I’ve only had to deal with one of them so far but it’s a truly delightful experience.

  29. Tracy

    I hate bugs…hate ’em. I was laughing so hard at the vision of the bug jumpin’ outta the vaccum bag, though. Poor, poor Otto.

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