Living Through Ditziness
By Lynn Ingram
Todd says that when I die, he’s gonna have my obituary include a line that says “Pack a lunch” for those who plan to attend my funeral. He plans to headline the event by telling stories about me. Given that he’s the husband of my friend Sandy, who I have known more than half my life, he’s got a good bit of material to choose from. And, he’s correct in thinking that he could have plenty of company up there telling Lynn Tales. As a matter of fact, that advice on the bag lunch may be insufficient. Maybe we should plan on an all-you-can-eat buffet.
One story that Todd has promised to tell has to do with an electric blanket. I once lived in a charming little cabin near Lake City. We had a really cold winter, then a nice warm spell, and then the frigid weather returned. I like warm sheets, so just before I planned to slip off to dreamland, I turned on my dual control electric blanket. (Who, you may properly wonder, was in command of the second control? Alas, ‘twas I who was responsible for both; maybe wishful thinking prompted the purchase of a blanket with two controls, or maybe the thing was just on sale.)
At any rate, when I checked fifteen minutes later, my sheets were still icy. That seemed odd, so I double-checked: yep, both controls still glowed with the little orange “on” light, and both dials were set on high. So I puttered around the kitchen a bit longer to give that blanket more time to warm up. Puttering completed, I checked again; still I had cold sheets. Hmmm, I thought; maybe I’ve just never timed this before. Just to be safe, I checked the controls one more time to confirm that they were really on. Back to puttering. Third check; chilly sheets still.
I did this four or five times, maybe even six. I just could not figure it out. There was no good reason for my electric blanket to have stopped working when it worked just fine before we had that warm spell. Oh. Wait a minute. Warm spell. Warm spell when having any extra stuff at all on the bed got to be too warm. Warm spell when I had removed the electric blanket from the bed.
Back to the bedroom I went. Into the hope chest I looked, and sure enough, there was my electric blanket, all tidily folded up, right where I had put it. I had unplugged the blanket from the controls, but I had never unplugged the controls from the electrical outlet. So sure enough, those dual control orange lights were glowing away, plugged in as they were to the outlet – but having one helluva time heating up that blanket in the hope chest.
This sort of thing is not all that unusual in my life. It’s been more than a dozen years or so now, but I very clearly remember the morning that I was having my coffee, truly yearning for a nicely warmed English muffin, and seriously needing to share with my friend Valerie some earth-shattering news. So I have the phone in one hand and the muffin in the other as I sashay over to the microwave. Muffin into oven, fingers onto keypad: 278442 – no wait, that can’t be right; that is WAY too much time to heat up that muffin. Oh, right – that’s Valerie’s phone number. THOSE numbers get punched into the phone….
Then there was the time that I was just sick of my scummy shower curtain and decided to soak it overnight in a tub full of water and Clorox. Sure enough, I was running late the next morning and didn’t have time to finish the job, so I just kicked the curtain out of the way while I showered. I noticed that the water wasn’t draining out of the tub as it should, but I was too short on time to pay much attention. That evening, I rinsed the curtain, hung it up – and grew quite distressed when I realized that, in fact, the tub was no longer draining. Oh, great, I thought, have I used so much Clorox that I’ve somehow screwed up the drain mechanism? Off for the plunger I went, just in case there was a clog. Plunge, plunge, plunge. No results. Plunge, plunge, plunge some more. No results. I made a couple more attempts, got tired, gave up, made a note to buy Drano the next day.
Naturally, the next morning’s shower was spent standing in the water that accumulated as the shower ran – although not in the water left over from the night before. Dimly registering was the idea that the water was draining to some degree, although not properly. Hmmm. So the drain isn’t totally stopped up. Hmmm. And didn’t I leave a tub full of water the night I put the shower curtain in to soak? And wasn’t that gone the next morning? Wait a minute. I put that shower curtain in a tub full of water to soak, and to do that, I had to close the drain. Close. The. Drain.
Did I feel like a prize idiot? Yes, I did. Of course the water wasn’t going out of the drain any more – because the drain was closed. I had closed it to soak the shower curtain and never opened it back up. What had happened was the soaking water had slowly leaked out over the first night, and I had forgotten the drain was closed.
I could mention that I was in graduate school at the time, but UNCW might decide to rescind my degree, claiming newly acquired evidence of mental incompetence. Even I have to admit that the population of people who have used a plunger to try to open up a mechanically closed drain is likely to be exceedingly small.
However, it’s not like some of my more stellar brain-glitch acts haven’t been reasonably public. Take the little convertible I bought a few years back. Truth to tell, that car did not spend many days with its canvas top closed, but every now and then – say, when it rained – that was necessary. One such rainy day, I got to the bank drive-thru only to discover that my power windows no longer operated. I tried all the controls, punching, pushing, pulling. You know how we do this. Never mind that it didn’t work the last ten times, or that the other buttons have nothing to do with the windows. That magical thinking kicks in, and we are just so sure that SOMEHOW, some combination of button pushing, pulling, punching will cure the problem.
Nope. Not happening. So I drove to the dealership, not a happy camper at all, and pulled up to the service area to bemoan my plight to my favorite mechanic. He hopped in my cute little car – and hopped back out in no time flat, having returned my windows to full functionality. How did you DO that so fast? I wanted to know.
He just smiled, the way you do when you pat a very small and perhaps somewhat slow child on the head, as he said, “They never go down when you have the window lock button engaged.”
It is hard to slink away from an auto dealership in a red convertible, but truly, I did my very best.
I suppose I could worry that some of the dimwitted things I do are evidence that some essential brain connections are coming unplugged, rather like those of my electric blanket. I could, but I don’t, because laughing at this stuff is so much easier and a whole lot more fun. Plus, the people to whom I tell these stories get a good chuckle – not to mention a probable side order of boosted self-esteem (“Man, I am SO glad I am not that stupid!”)
It may be that I am performing an important public service, perhaps even setting myself up to become the newest healthy living guru. Folk have said for years that laughter is the best medicine. These days, we have research that suggests that regular laughter can help decrease blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, provide some relief from depression and insomnia, increase the quality of sleep, and increase motivation for engaging in exercise and making healthier eating choices.
It looks to me like all the health benefits I get from laughing might outweigh the downside of my potential cognitive decline. Even better, I could be improving the lives of untold others. I can see it now; I could be starting a movement: Healthy Happy Living Through Ditziness.
Hmmm. This could change things a bit when it comes funeral time. Hey, Todd, in addition to handling the food detail, you want to start checking into some larger venues? This could turn into a standing-room-only event!
About this writer
- Lynn Ingram would rather dance than eat three times a day – unless it’s steamed oysters that are being served. Lynn works as a clinical psychologist and part-time instructor in the psychology department at UNCW. Either or both of those jobs might account for why she recently tried to change the TV channel with her cell phone instead of the remote.