Welcome to chez Thumbstumbler. Please have a seat — oops! Look out for that plastic dinosaur! Sorry about that. Make yourself at home while I bring you a glass of filtered-but-suspicious-smelling water. Sorry about the spots. Our dishwasher is an antique. Before us it belonged to Jesus. It’s probably worth a lot. I am going to try to pawn it one of these days. That, and my old engagement ring. Can you bring a toddler to a pawn shop? Is it appropriate, do you think? Because I don’t have child care. And we could really use the cash.
But I digress. Let me show you the menu. Hm? You’re still thirsty? Of course. No, I don’t have wine. I have vinegar. Four kinds, in fact. Although I think white balsamic is a bit of a scam. And the apple cider has some sort of scum floating in it. Anyway, what I do have plenty of is whine. This house is chock full of it. Here’s a few of your choices:
- Whining Toddler: Full-bodied, robust. Available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fruitiest after 5PM. Typically served with impatient mother and filthy house. Not available for fathers.
- Whining dog: After nap only. When MJ has finally awoken from her siesta, snack has been had, and the word “walk” is finally uttered, Mina breaks into a cacophonous, frantic keening which continues long after the walk has commenced. When coupled with barking, jumping, and knocking toddler over, it is capable of driving mother into a frantic-and-barely-supressed rage. Toddler finds this comical.
- Whining bird babies. A more delicate flavor, with notes of feathers. True, these mockingbird chicks are not actually whining. They are doing what God taught them to do, which is squeal for food every. Time. Their parents. Leave. The nest. Five hundred times a day, that is. And their nest? Located right outside of our bedroom window. This squealing commences at 6:30 every morning — yes, I’ve checked! — and continues until sundown. The sound? Like nails on a chalkboard combined with a dolphin’s dying shrill. I never thought I would want to kill a chick. Let alone three. Fortunately for them, their domicile is hidden deep inside the Tree of Pain. I cannot even see their nest, let alone reach it. Anyway, I could only get to them by first letting my own arm get lacerated into the corporeal equivalent of string cheese. Because of this, and only because of it, they are safe. They will grow to be mature mockingbirds, who will go forth and find mates, then come back to deliver their lilting, endless, shockingly loud courting calls from this very same tree. At three o’clock in the morning. At which point — string cheese or not — I will kill them.
- Whining fans. For true connoisseurs only. (Others — read: husbands — will dismiss this selection as “overreaction.”) Ever wonder what that thing is on top of your house? The round, metal contraption on the roof that spins and spins to no apparent purpose? Well, I didn’t either. Until one of ours started squeaking. It took me days to figure out where the noise was coming from — at first I assumed it was the baby birds. (“Christ, are they on steroids?”) Finally I got up on the roof and found the source: a rusty “whirlybird.” I complained to Mike about it. He promised to look into it. But, weirdly, it would not make the sound when he was around. When he got up there and spun the thing by hand it would not make a peep. The minute he left for work: “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Incredibly vexing. Mike clearly thought I was having a hallucination. Fine. The next day I got up on the roof myself — while MJ screamed below — and sprayed the thing with Canola oil. (It’s natural!) When this failed I went back down, grabbed the first implement I saw — a toothbrush — and tried to jam it. Didn’t work. It took Mike going up on the roof with some kind of heavy-duty oil and disassembling the whole thing to get the squeak to stop. It is still not 100% gone. But if I bring it up again my marriage will end. Which bring us to our final offering:
- Whining wife. This complex, supple, and far-from-mature offering is on tap when all of the above entries occur simultaneously. It includes tears, supplications to the Gods, and repeated, frantic calls to husband’s office. Price upon request.
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