Things which confuse me

By Mir
September 5, 2011

It’s true that I’m easily confused; I’m not saying that I feel like I’m butting up against the great mysteries of our time, or anything. But even accounting for the ways in which I, personally, might be somewhat cognitively impaired, I’m left with many, many questions. It occurs to me sometimes that Monkey’s rigid “But this is what makes SENSE and you, sir, are NOT MAKING SENSE!” moments may be a case of, shall we say, an apple that has fallen rather close to the tree, if you get my drift.

[Not that I’m saying that I think I’m autistic. I’m not. NOT THAT THERE WOULD BE ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Oh, God. I’m going to stop talking, now. About this, anyway.]

Look, all I’m saying is that—all other things being equal (or at least as equal as I can manage)—I’m left with some questions, is all. Not enough to keep me up at night, you understand, but enough to kind of nag at me. That’s all. Because it’s confusing. I think. Hey, you be the judge.

Lazy or passive-aggressive or…? Otto and I made a run to Trader Joe’s this weekend, which always completely delights me. Organic banana chips! Simmer sauces! Cheap salmon! Truly, TJ’s is the hallowed intersection of I Want My Family To Eat Real Food Way, But I’m Also Kind Of Lazy Boulevard, and Cheapskate Street. Love! Also, Trader Joe’s is chock full of hipsters and suburban moms in designer clothing and tree-hugging hippies. It’s not like going to the regular grocery store, where you may well run into two or three different people who seem to have hit the grocery store today to buy pizza rolls and beat their children in the beer aisle.

Which is why I was so surprised when we left, carefully loaded our haul into the car, and upon walking our cart back to the “cart corral” I found a cart sitting NEXT to the corral, blocking a parking space. Like, seriously, right next to it. Not even sort of halfway in or in a position where it’s plausible that it might’ve rolled out or whatever. Just next to it.

It’s Trader Joe’s! Land of happiness and sprouted grains and mango juice! You really couldn’t take the extra step and a half to put the cart where it belonged? MOTHER NATURE WEEPS AT YOUR INSOLENCE. P.S. I sincerely hope that when you arrived home, you discovered that your goat milk yogurt had curdled.

Why, exactly, do you have a menu? On that same trip to TJ’s, because we are SUPER SMART, Otto and I realized we’d headed out to buy food without actually eating lunch first. So we took a quick detour to our handy chain Mexican joint that happened to be in the neighboring strip mall. We figured we’d eat and then go get our groceries.

I happen to love Mexican food, anyway, but I particularly love doing Mexican as fast food because it’s extremely amenable to gluten-free dining. (Yes, I’ve gone into Five Guys and ordered a burger without a bun, but I always feel like a pretentious asshole when I do, completely convinced that they think I’m on a diet and can’t be bothered to just remove the bun myself.) So on this particular day I walk in and look at the menu and decide to order the “Healthy Salad” (really, that’s how they list it on the menu), which it says is a chicken and bean salad with veggies and guacamole, no shell.

So I say, “I’ll have the Healthy Salad” and the guy says to me, “Do you want a shell?” There are four other salads on the menu, all of which have shells. If I wanted a shell, wouldn’t I have ordered one of those? Puzzled, I declined. Next he asked me if I wanted lettuce or spinach. Now, it’s actually listed as lettuce, but I prefer spinach, so that was a plus, I guess, and I opted for spinach.

Next, he asked me if I wanted rice on it. WHO EATS RICE ON SALAD? No one should eat rice on salad. And if it’s the HEALTHY salad, I propose they actually hit you in the eye with a quick blast of vinaigrette if you even ask. Sheesh. (And yes, they proceeded to ask me about every single component, which left me wondering why they don’t just put “Salad” on the menu and call it a day.)

The tyranny of the top sheet. I’ve long since given up on trying to get Monkey to sleep in his bed in some approximation of normalcy. After months (okay, years) of finding his top sheet scrambled and twisted at the foot of the bed, I went to Ikea, bought him a cheap duvet cover, put away the top sheets, and called it a day. No big deal. But now, lately, Chickadee’s top sheet has also been ending up in a wad on the floor or up by her pillows or whatever.

“What, exactly, is happening here?” I tried asking her.

“It was the dog,” she said, casting a disapproving look in Licorice’s direction. Because surely our 12-pound dog is pulling a queen-size sheet out from under where it’s tucked at the end of the mattress and wadding it up. I suspect she’s leaving Chickie’s dirty socks on the floor, too. That bitch.

I suddenly feel all talented for being able to have two people and sometimes a dog in my bed and sleep all night and wake up with the top sheet still where it belongs.

Well, which is it? I was happily cruising along this morning, posting deals to Want Not, when I came across a clearance sale that piqued my interest. In fact, there were some VERY PRETTY shoes that caught my eye, but as it wasn’t a free-shipping-free-returns kind of site, I went to do some research on them to try to figure out if they were likely to fit.

Turns out that the deeply-discounted beautiful shoes are currently available on Zappos, where there were plenty of reviews. Half of the reviewers advised consumers to order up half a size for best fit. The other half suggested these shoes run large and you should order down half a size. I have… never seen such a thing before. I mean, sure, not everyone is going to agree on fit. But an almost perfect split of everyone being completely convinced it was either too large or too small? Freaky. Needless to say, I didn’t order them. I couldn’t decide on a size and was also vaguely concerned about unwittingly opening up a wormhole in the space-time continuum if I did.

In conclusion: It’s hard being me. Obviously.


  1. Megan

    I feel your top-sheet pain and raise you pillowcase trauma. It began at 2 with an overhead and disdainful, ‘who keeps putting this bag on my pillow,’ which made me happy because obviously once I explained the existence and purpose of pillowcases the morning ritual of searching out the wadded up and discarded pillowcase would stop! Ha. Ten years. TEN YEARS! But this was my battle-line. I might give up on the sheet but I would never, never give up on the pillowcase.

    Now, if Ikea maybe made chic and colorful little mini duvet covers for my child’s head I would probably have been willing to declare a truce.

  2. birchsprite

    It may be due to being British (or possibly just a sloven) but what’s a top sheet?

  3. Mir

    Wait, what? Brits don’t have top sheets?? There’s a fitted sheet that goes around the mattress, then a flat sheet that goes between the mattress and any covers (that way you can just wash the sheets every week, and not need to wash duvet covers/blankets as often). Do you call it something else or do you not use one?

  4. Alison C

    @birchsprite In the US most people use a quilt on their bed that does not have a removable cover so they use a top sheet (we would call it a flat sheet).

    @Megan This is something that really puzzles me about pillow cases in the US. In the UK we have a flap on the pillow case that folds over the end of the pillow. This hold the pillow case in place and it wouldn’t go over your son’s head. But it also looks nicer on the bed as you don’t see the end of the pillow.

    @Mir Why so many questions when we order food? I am hungry and crabby and just want to eat! Why are they making it so difficult?

  5. The Other Leanne

    Who eats rice on salad? I DO! One of my favorite meals, in fact, is lettuce topped with rice pilaf topped with chicken breast slices and a swirl of ranch dressing. It’s wonderful.

  6. Mom2Trplts

    Not one of my threesome will sleep with a topsheet, if i’ts any consolation. As usual, you made me start my day with a smile.

  7. Tenessa

    No top sheets on my kids’ beds, either, and I was one of those who couldn’t sleep under the top sheet as a…well, until after I got married, *ahem* so it didn’t seem odd to me.

    The lazy thing just bugs me. Really? Can’t walk the cart the extra 2, 20, 100 feet to the cart corral/store?

    One of the lazy things that REALLY gets under my skin is littering. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND this one at all. Is it really so much harder to carry whatever trash into your house to the trash can OR put it in whatever available garbage receptacle is nearest you (like at the gas station or fast food joint or outside the store)? You really think the BEST place for your trash is OUT YOUR WINDOW?!? Oh, and putting it in the open bed of your truck is akin, IF NOT EXACTLY LIKE, throwing it out the window.

    …wow, okay, little pent up rage there.

  8. alicia

    I currently live in South Mississippi and I want to propose that the Wal-Mart (about our only option for grocery stores here – don’t hate too much), implement the quarter carts. You know, the ones where you have to input a quarter to separate it from the other carts and you get the quarter back once you return the cart and lock it in place. Here, people leave the buggys all over the freaking parking lot. I even had a lady next to me loading her groceries into her car at the same time as me and she then proceeded to leave her cart next to my driver’s door. Seriously?

    (on a side note – I wonder how many of these non-cart returners complain to wal-mart about their cars being hit by stray carts).

    I had never experienced this until I moved here. My mama taught me to put the buggy in the return or take it back to the store….

  9. Birchsprite

    @Mir we just have removable duvet covers that we change each time! I’d end up in a right tangle if I had a sheet as well as a duvet! I do wonder if American duvets are different to ours?

    @AlisonC I did wonder about the pillow cases too. Do they not have the fold under flappy bit in the US?

    I do love all these weird little cultural differences!

  10. Heather

    The cart thing frustrates me, too – or when people shove them in so haphazardly that within two or three carts they’re overrunning the space. The store where I shop most often has two sizes, and I usually use the mini-carts…but people don’t seem to be able to comprehend putting one size cart on one side of the return and the other on the other. So it just makes a big ol’ mess :P

  11. BethRD

    I don’t like top sheets and so we don’t use them. My husband tried, but apparently a king size top sheet gets all wadded up with only one person sleeping under it, so he has had to adapt to my sheetless ways. The kids take after me and the sheets always end up at the bottom of the bed, so we basically just use them as emergency bottom sheets.

  12. Kathy from NJ

    In northern NJ the only carts that get returned are the ones with the 25¢ deposit and then only approx 50% of those are returned. This includes all grocery stores, home improvement stores, discount stores, drug stores – ALL carts in every store – even if one parks right next to the cart return area. The two good things about it are there is usually a cart return employee or two in the parking lot who will assist people who are having difficulties loading merchandise and there is always a cart within 2 feet of your parking space to load with returns or even just a handbag. I have also seen people leave their cart behind their parking-neighbor’s car…..

  13. Peg

    My son is 16 and I CANNOT get him to sleep between the sheets. He just won’t even pull the flat sheet down, so he ends up on top of the sheet and under the duvet. He will NEVER sleep between sheets and I feel like I should apologize to his future wife when she arrives on the scene for all the duvet washing she’ll have to do.

    Also, my husband? He puts the plastic recycling on the counter, directly above the recycling bin. WTF? How hard is it to just put it in the damn bin?

  14. Mary Fran

    I gave up on the top sheet when I married my husband (OK, maybe before, but please don’t tell my parents). My children have never had a top sheet – all duvet cover, all the time around here. Makes it much easier to make the beds, too. Of course, I’m the only one who knows about the ease of bed making in the house…

  15. Emmie

    I am a top sheet culprit. No matter how I start off in bed the top sheet ends up in a ball at the foot of the bed. I honestly don’t know how it gets there but I still persist in making the bed with it in hopes that one day it will stay put.

  16. karen

    I can’t imagine not having a flat sheet under the quilt/spread/coverlet. So.. if you have a duvet, that means you’re not really supposed to use a top sheet? Do you know how aggravating it is to get those darn duvet covers OFF the comforter thing to begin with? Hate that job maybe even more than washing the dishes after a greasy cheesy meal.

  17. Sherri

    This is good news in our house – my kids do not sleep with a top sheet and my husband has thought it was because I was too lazy to put one on each bed. It all started when my oldest was 3 – the top sheet would be all waded up and on the ground or tucked somewhere between the mattress and wall each morning. Finally I stopped putting it on and he never missed it. Child #2 – same thing. Child #3 – she never got the chance to experience a top sheet. LOL! Now I can tell my husband that we are raising our kids in a British fashion by omiting the top sheet.

  18. Veronika

    When travelling in the US, I really dislike the solution with the sheet between the spread/quilt and my body. I always think of all the people that probably had used the same hotel room before me and how often the spread gets washed. I hate the idea of touching it while sleeping.
    In Denmark we have duvets and duvet covers and it works great. It look likes this and is problemfree:
    Also everybody has their own duvet (so no fighting at night).

    Regarding the carts at supermarkets they are always with 10 DKK or 20 DKK (=2 or 4 USD) deposit and they ALWAYS get returned.

    Love your blog.

  19. Brandi

    Beds here (in the UK) generally just have a fitted sheet and a duvet (with removable cover).. you wash the cover + fitted sheet + pillowcases.. easier to make in the morning without a topsheet imho!

  20. Edd Fear

    I guess I don’t see the forest for the trees. Everything you described sounds like a normal day at our house.

    TJs? Yes, please, if I can make it ALL THE WAY TO THE MIDDLE OF TOWN (5 minute drive). Carts everywhere? YES, EVEN AT TJs. Of course, Southern Californians are a different breed.

    Weird menu problems? I’m the only one (in a family of 4) who can order WHAT’S ON THE MENU and then still eat it when they get it wrong. But I’ve got to memorize “no spice, no meat, extra gorgonzola, etc.”, for everyone else. And bear the complaints when *I* get it wrong.

    Top sheets: can’t be bothered. Boys don’t care. End of problem.

    Shopping online: I’ve got the perfect solution: be broke. No money, no problem.

    Glad to be of service.

  21. Jessica

    I abhor the top sheet. I wish we could get cheap sets without them, because I can’t for the life of me get one to stay underneath the covers. I am NOT a tucker-inner, which is probably part of the problem. I mean, I got the Seinfeld episode where George didn’t want his sheets tucked in by the maid, because I HATE having my bedding tucked in. I just stayed the weekend at my in-laws, and we ended up with the top sheet shoved at the bottom of the bed (it had a duvet with a cover on it, so I’m not sure what the need for the sheet was). When I move around at night, I grab the cover and not the sheet, so the sheet gets twisted in different ways than the cover and shoved down. It’s a curse, I think.

    We just don’t use them at my house, because I find them annoying and useless. Maybe I should move to the UK.

  22. Leanne

    I have the full sheet set and a doona. I can’t bring myself to sleep in a bed without a top sheet. When hubby is away and there is only me in the bed, all I have to do in the morning is pull up and tuck in. On my side. His pillows aren’t even disturbed…

    Now that IS disturbing….

  23. carson

    I need pillowcases with the flaps, because somehow my pillows animate in the middle of the night and strip. I like them in their cases, but they wriggle out! So my new mission is to find some British pillowcases! (I do like my top sheet, though.)

  24. Sanna

    Peg, your son could always wash his own duvet – then no apologies needed!

    I myself am an “active sleeper,” so anything I put over myself is going to get kicked off at some point during the night, then yanked back up again when I half-wake at some point and realize I’m cold.

  25. Lisa

    I {heart} the intertubes. Who knew so many people slept without the top, flat sheet?? I nagged my daughter for years for not sleeping “properly” in the bed. She hates the top sheet. I finally, reluctantly, gave up trying to get her to do it my way. To Mir and the rest of the posters here, thank you for helping me see the light. I can sleep better tonight (under my flat sheet and down comforter).

  26. kat

    Am I the only person who uses a top sheet with a duvet? I use the duvet on my down comforter and (although it gets washed) it is a pain to get off and on. Sheets are so much easier to deal with. Also I’m in the south and *most* of my pillow cases have the little flaps.

    I always park next to the cart return. That way I can buckle the babes up and return it without abandoning them. Which is also why I’m the mean momma who won’t use those horrible car shaped carts because you return those to inside the store. (which makes no sense to me at all. )

  27. Kathy

    The only thing more fun to read than your post? That’s right, the comments! Thanks to EVERYONE for making me giggle today!!

  28. meredith

    No top sheets in France either. The duvets are in a removable sheet-like pocket.

  29. addy

    Always use the top sheet. Duvet covers are not easy to get on and off. Don’t want to work that hard. And ya – why bother with the menu then?

  30. Lynda M O

    I use a comforter as a sleeping bag and have it wrapped completely around me. Husband asked if it was a new form of birth control !~! After 25 years he has gotten used to it.

    Target sells bottom sheets by themselves (or did several years ago). Pillowcases do slip off, huh? Glad to know it’s just not me with that little problem.

    Bedtime for this one… thanks for the late-night chuckles.

  31. Reb

    I grew up with top sheets, and that’s we call them in New Zealand. Then I discovered duvets. Soft, convenient and with washable covers. Bliss!

    But salads come with shells? Many things confuse me about the US, but that’s just wrong. That’s not a salad, it’s a sandwich or something.

  32. Brigitte

    The shopping online thing seems to happen all the time. I usually look at Amazon reviews, and SO many times, they are about evenly split between people who thought THIS! IS! THE! MOST! AMAZING! THING! EVER! and people who thought it was the worst way they’d wasted money ever.

  33. kapgaf

    I do understand your confusion.

    There’s only ever a duvet or a top sheet (when it’s really hot) on our bed, never both but no matter which, my husband will thrash it into a wad or do that really annoying thing of turning over and taking it with him.

    @Birchsprite : another cultural difference : here in France, pillows are square not rectangular so pilowcases are square too and although they do have a flap, I find they work their way off more easily during the night than do rectangular ones.

    Don’t talk to me about menus : I read the detail and they NEVER mention parsley but it gets sprinkled over everything and I hate the taste, so I always ask them to make sure that my salad comes with no parsley and usually it does but it doesn’t stop them sprinkling the damn stuff as garnish on the meat dish.

    Supermarket carts ? You have to put coins in them here but that doesn’t stop people from leaving them all over the place. And the other thing that confuses me about them is why people use them as rubbish bins…..

  34. JennyA

    I… um… sleep with a top sheet, a knitted blanket, AND a duvet with cover. Now I’m starting to think there’s something wrong with me. I just… like the weight of all the layers of bedclothes? I guess? Of course, I live in the blasted humid south and can’t afford to keep the AC on “meat locker” all the time like I’d prefer, so sometimes my preferences have to bend to “minimum amount of covering possible” or we all die in a sweaty heap in our sleep. But in the winter? You can bet I’m the nose sticking out of the six-foot tall pile of blankets. Snuggly.

    I always buy king-sized pillow cases and then do a sort of origami fold-and tuck with the extra length back into itself. Makes a nice little pillow-package and the pillow can’t wriggle out.

    And to complete my heretical admissions — I eat rice on salad. Before I became more or less vegetarian, my favorite meal with a bed of crunchy romaine topped with rice pilaf and grilled chicken with some ranch dressing. Yum.

  35. Cheryl @ Coffee with Cheryl

    My son won’t even sleep beneath the comforter, never mind the top sheet! He insists on sleeping on top of all the covers and uses a super-soft throw I got him that has Thomas the Tank Engine on it. Hubby is a ninja/assassin/bear fighter in his sleep, and the sheets constantly come untucked and end up on the floor or at the foot or middle of the bed. Apparently, I’m the only *normal* sleeper in our house. If I sleep alone, the blankets/sheets are barely moved.

    Carts are a major issue here in MA. My once beautiful black pick-up truck is now covered in cart scratches. (@Tenessa, I NEVER throw trash in the bed of my truck, and got in countless fights with my husband over that exact issue! I think people who do that are the ultimate in lazy.)

  36. elz

    It’s like that “Real Men of Genius” Ad- Mr. Taco Salad inventor- first, fry a torilla, next load it with rice, beans, meat, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. If there’s any room left, throw on a little lettuce. It’s a 30,000 calorie salad. Of course it’s good for you-it is a salad!

  37. Genevieve

    I use a top sheet and don’t think it would work for me otherwise, because in warm weather I often sleep under just that sheet, no comforter, at least until partway through the night when I get chilly and pull the comforter up from the foot of the bed. Just a duvet w/cover would be too warm sometimes.

  38. Liza

    My kids, and my wife, all wind themselves up in the top sheet, or the blanket, or any other available bedcovering, such that they look like human burritos by morning. I do NOT understand this impulse, and also apologize in advance to my childrens’ future spouses.

  39. Amanda

    You know what I did with top sheets when we had our first apartment? Curtains! No sewing needed, and the rod fit nicely in the flap at the top. None of us here sleep with a top sheet, and we all have our own blankets, even my husband and I. There were too many fights in the middle of the night for covers.

  40. Karen

    I still can’t sleep with a top sheet without it getting smushed at the foot of the bed. So I’ve finally given up on the top sheet altogether. We do sleep with only a comforter, but it is washable and fits in my machines. I applaud you for being able to sleep with a flat sheet!

  41. mamaspeak

    My youngest, age 5, tries to sleep ON all the covers; comforter/quilt, top sheet and flat sheet. She, “doesn’t want to mess up her bed.” She’s gotten a little OCD about the bed-making this year, but I’m sure it will pass. She too wads up the top sheet and pushes it toward the bottom of the bed. I often find her in very interesting sleep positions, in various degrees of dress, or not. The other night she was laying w/her head at the foot of the bed, in her underwear, (nightgown in a ball at the head of the bed, of course). The notable thing was that she had her legs tucked into her pillowcase, with the pillow still in there. It was like a sleeping bag that was too short and already taken. I have no idea…
    I need a top sheet, just do. I like the weight of having something on me. Don’t tell my husband about all these non-top sheeters, he’s been trying to convince me for 10 years.

  42. traci

    I gave up sleeping with a top sheet years ago (and now sleep so much better, untangled). However, my hubby cannot fall asleep WITHOUT a sheet over him. So… I make the bed with half the sheet on his half of the bed and the rest dangling off the bed on his side…lol. Seriously. But while reading your comments I actually came up with the brilliant idea that I should buy twin size flat sheets to match my queen size fitted sheets! Bet you didn’t expect your complaint to be so inspirational!
    Oh. And I can offer one possible-though-still-pretty-lame defense for the cart. There was ONE TIME (I swear it was only once) on a particularly difficult day that I left my cart next to the corral. I had stopped next to corral to remove my daughter from the front infant seat of the cart when I noticed that my 3-year-old had unbuckled himself from his carseat and was calling out that he wanted to come “help” me. I dashed back to stop him and by the time I had him and my baby buckled up and got in my van to drive away, I saw the abandoned cart and just sighed. If I ever see carts out of place now I remember how overwhelmed I felt that day and try to give the seemingly-thoughtless person some slack.

  43. Dad of 10

    Yikes – for three seasons of the year all I use is a top sheet. The quilt, or duvet, or whatever it is gets shoved over to Mom of 10’s side of the bed.

  44. Stephanie

    So maybe this anti-sheet doctrine applies to my three year old who has NEVER slept in a tucked in sheet bed. In fact she rarely falls asleep with any cover (other than her nightie) at all. We just toss a large flannel receiving blanket over her after she’s out. Related: camping this summer she awoke with a full-on night terror after I tried to stealthily zip her sleeping bag. Next camping trip I’m packing the fuzzy footie jammies and letting her sleep on the UNZIPPED bag. Maybe I’m a slow learner, but I’m from the other side of the spectrum like JennyA: top sheet, cotton blanket, duvet in flannel cover = sweet, sweet sleep. P.S. When it gets cold enough for the down duvet on my older daughter’s bed, we switch to flannel sheets. The flannel sheet and flannel duvet cover sort of velcro together and then flip back and forth as one.

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