Stop the Barbarians and Their Toxins.

If there’s any modern truism, it is that we cannot have nice things. Any new good thing is immediately picked apart and ruthlessly demonized for its harmful effects on some segment of Earth-dwellers, be they human, animal, or plant. My dear fellow Earth-dwelling humans, it is time for me to discuss how we have all been deceived, and ruin your good thing.

We have been fear-mongered and fooled into purchasing flu-fighting poisons for our family – simply because everyone else was doing it. Like lemmings to the edge of a school-closing, family-wrecking, paranoid cliff, we have fought and bled to acquire the new holy grails of flu-fighting magic.

Move over Tamiflu, there’s a new kid and an old weird guy in town.

I, too, was fooled. With local pharmacies scrambling for stock, I even went so far as to preemptively order the fresh death products from Amazon – just to have them on hand if we needed them. Which is when I started looking into what I had done.

I am discussing, of course, the viral Facebook-urged purchase of Elderberry Syrup and Oscillococcinum.

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I purchased both of these things, just in case my family succumbed to the flu despite our best efforts at avoiding it.

But what are these things? Oscilloco-what? It sounds mediciney enough. Okay.

But elderberries? The only point of reference I have to them is a rude Frenchman yelling at King Arthur, “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”

But hey, Facebook testimonials are the Consumer Reports of 2018. So I believed that they would save us, and I dutifully shoved Elderberry gummies down my kid’s throats every morning – just in case.

Until I started researching it deeper. One can never do too much research into product safety. So I turned over the box of Oscillococcinum.

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They hide their ingredients behind an extinct language to keep you from knowing what you’re putting into your body. But when translated, the active ingredient of Oscillococcinum is the anus of a barbarian. I have thoroughly researched this on the internet (which is quite the minefield let me assure you), and barbarian anus is TOXIC to humans, and doubly toxic to children.

Yet they tell you to feed your children, just two years of age and older, an adult-sized portion of Sphincter de Savage.

Furthermore, check out the inactive ingredients. Lactose! They are also trying to destroy the bowels of the lactose-intolerant. If they take this product, it’ll make them think barbarian anus.

AND THEY CALL THIS HOMEOPATHIC. What they mean is that it would be pathological for homo sapiens to put this in their bodies!

Furthermore, its counterpart, Elderberry Syrup, is causing a pandemic of previously unseen proportions within the church. Do you know how many Elders must be harvested to create just one bottle of Elderberry Syrup? Every protestant church in The Bible Belt is missing at least two and a half Elders. Deacons everywhere are having to step up their aging in order to take their place.

Some of the more liturgical denominations have written The Pope, asking to borrow a Cardinal or two until the depths of Elder Harvesting has passed. Because after all, no one is drinking Cardinalberry Syrup.

BE AWARE, people. Don’t just blindly follow viral Facebook posts when the future of your family’s well-being is in your hands!!

Let me offer a better solution.

If you feel strongly about fighting the flu with homeopathic methods and want a safer, more reliable product, then I highly recommend that you do your research – you will find that only one essential item will meet your needs. You need The Oil of Uranus.

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Uranus Oils are carefully harvested from the depths of artisan asteroids and are protected from seed to seal. It is guaranteed that no barbarians ever make it into the final product, ensuring a zero toxicity vial of the best Uranus has to offer. Just a drop of Uranus Oil under the tongue will stop a fever in its tracks, and rubbing a small amount of Uranus on the outside of the nose and throat will calm those upper respiratory symptoms instantaneously.

And of course, there is no greater power over your family’s health than keeping the Oil of Uranus continuously diffusing throughout your house. The peace and relief that you and your family will feel is unequalled.

But just like every other enlightening blog post out there, I know y’all are going to do what you’re going to do anyway and ignore this life or death warning that I cry out to you. So enjoy your barbarian anus and extract of senior citizen. Bottoms up!

The Death of a Grasshopper.

“Hey Mom! There’s a hurt Grasshopper out here!”

Noah had gone to the front porch to feed the neighborhood cat that is known at our address as Thomas.

(Thomas has many names – many more than we probably even know. He works the feline benefits system well, just as his predecessor Fred, ingratiating himself to (or guilting handily) all of the neighborhood in order to eat as many meals as possible.)

“Is he dead?”, I asked Noah.

(Back to the grasshopper here – not Thomas. Follow my train of thought, people!)

“No – he’s just hurt. He’s still wiggling.”

Based on where Noah was standing – right in front of the door – I knew the grasshopper had to have been a special delivery from Thomas himself. A thoughtful gift for us in exchange for our feeding efforts.

But we were doing school and I had no time to inspect my gift at that moment.

We found ourselves on the porch later in the day, doing our read-aloud and other subjects that we do as a group. Somehow I’d missed, yet again, properly appreciating this gift, so Noah picked him up on a leaf and brought him to me to inspect.

It was pitiful.

The lovely Grasshopper was confined to his side, clearly having lost one of his jumping legs and bleeding a brownish liquid from his Thorax.

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He looked at me imploringly, while focusing on his labored, slow breaths. It was almost as if I could hear his thoughts.

My dear lady, I apologize for the predicament in which I find myself. It appears your cat has made the attempt to make a gift of me. I hope you find me a worthy gift, but it is rather inconvenient that I am mortally wounded.

It was just terrible. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s not even my cat.

I am personally not nearly offended enough by Thomas’ outright-dead gifts – in fact, I have memorialized more than one:

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But there was something about this nearly dead gift that broke my heart. I just wasn’t sure what to do. Maybe he would recover somewhat, and slink away to heal – or maybe not.

Ah, my lady, I would love nothing more than to ease your discomfort by dragging my damaged exoskeleton into the bushes and die in peace, but alas, my limbs do not appear to be useful at the present time. Perhaps you could –

But we had school to do.

I do hope that Mr. Grassy enjoyed the reading of a chapter of “The Incorrigibles of Ashton Place”, and then a chapter in our Chemistry and Physics textbook. I ruminated over the possibility that at least, in his last moments of life, he could increase his knowledge and understanding of the cruel world that had murdered him.

Fascinating, So the electrons revolve around the nucleus? Who knew?

But…he didn’t die.

By the end of the reading, his breathing was even more painful to watch. More labored, more heaving. You could nearly hear him gasping and groaning. And he now lay in a small pool of his own bodily fluids.

It is most unfortunate, madam, that due to the physics of your cat, my personal chemistry is leaking onto your porch. I am most embarrassed. Perhaps now might be a good time to –

So I texted Chris for moral guidance.

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Chris has always been a freeze-er. Anytime he finds large spiders, he captures them carefully in my Tupperware and puts them in my freezer. Something about the violent crunching of stepping on a living being is more than he can handle.

(Obviously I draw the line at cockroaches entering my freezer. So he’s a flush-er of those.)

I am not a freeze-er. I find this somehow more cruel. Or at least me thinking about that gasping Grasshopper becoming colder and colder in his last moments was too much for me.

I wanted him to go out with his new education, not wishing he had a scarf.

Oh, thank you. I do hate to impose, but it would be most helpful if you could end this unfortunate situation.

So I folded him up in a piece of paper, added two leaves in for a further wall between him and my foot, took him out to the sidewalk (as Noah tailed me, asking if Grasshoppers go to heaven and how do I KNOW they don’t have souls?!?), and I stepped on him.

I picked up the paper and peeked in.

HE WAS STILL MOVING.

MADAM, this is most unhelpful. I am trying to maintain my dignity and composure, but this is quite unpleasant. Could you PLEASE try again?

This was the worst execution I’d ever been a part of. I felt sick, evil, and an all around persecutor of grasshoppers.

I quickly sat down the paper and thoroughly ensured his death.

The next time I fed Thomas I made sure to tell him to please be sure and leave only completely dead things in the future.

Well, if I was really your cat, you might get better gifts. Kiss my tail.

Theories on a Grand Target Adventure.

As I was driving down Highway 280 on Saturday afternoon, lost in thought about all I had to accomplish in the next day and week and year and lifetime, I approached a set of flashing police lights in the median. I slowed down, as one does, out of caution and to ensure that it wasn’t a tricky speed trap.

The cars in front of me slowed as well and then we all slowed much slower than we should have slowed because what was going on was super curious in a fantastic sort of way.

The median was only a few feet wide, but it held a lot of items at that moment:

1. A single cop car.
2. A cop, standing in the median, currently occupied with handcuffing and emptying the pockets of an
3. Extraordinarily tall and skinny gentleman.
4. The gentleman’s apparent mode of transportation, which was a Target shopping cart, containing
5. Two industrial-sized mops and a
6. Mop water bucket (uncertain if it still contained dirty mop water.)

Two more cop cars came barreling up the hill toward the party, lights flashing and sirens blaring, because obviously this situation required at least six policemen, especially since those mops were INDUSTRIAL-SIZED.

My mind busied itself for the rest of the day, mapping out this scene and analyzing it in a studious forensic fashion.

Highway 280, for those of you who aren’t from around here, is our everybody-hates-it highway. It’s huge, always crowded, a continual source of irritation to the entire population, and also the victim of constant reworking to attempt to fix the eternal traffic problems. Currently, there are all these you-can’t-turn-left-but-you-can-U-turn lanes, complete with traffic lights that show the U-Turn symbol instead of a left-turn signal. They’ve barricaded other former left-hand turns and even straight-across pathways, one of which added 15 minutes onto my personal travel situation.

So you get the picture – this isn’t some backwoods country lane. It’s a SERIOUS road.

The location of the Target Cart Incident was directly in front of the Water Works reservoir. Mapping quickly in my head and then confirming the mileage with the help of Google Maps, the closest two Targets were…

1. 1.8 miles away, but up a seriously steep incline on Highway 280,
2. 4.4 miles away, on Highway 280, but crossing over the interstate, passing a huge shopping mall (and therefore much traffic), and containing a slight uphill climb, then a fairly good downhill coast.

Target Mop GuyMap not to scale. Curves on 280 attempting to show elevation change. Because I’m super good at maps like that.

I decided option two was where he’d come from, as option one’s steep uphill would have been impossible while riding a Target Cart in traffic traveling at 55 miles per hour. Which means that, coming from the other direction, if he’d only made it to that steep downhill section, he’d have had the ride of his life. Who needs roller coasters when you have a Target Cart and Highway 280?

I envisioned the journey as this: Extraordinarily Tall Gentleman (ETG) riding on the back of the cart, kid-style, while holding onto the handlebars. He would push himself like a skateboard to get going, then put his feet up on the crossbar, lean over (quite a bit due to his height), and coast when he could, hopefully with minimal dirty mop water backsplash.

That covered the where and the how, but more importantly was the why.

Maybe he was the janitor at one of these Targets.

Maybe some snot-nosed kid had spilled the LAST Slushie he was going to clean up.

Maybe some suburbia Mom had sloshed the LAST Starbucks double Frappe from which he was going to destickify the floor.

Maybe in a revolt against Target’s gross misuse of the word clearance, some angry Tennis Housewife had smashed a case of 10% off “clearance” La Croix.

Maybe there’d been a puker in the home goods section. And maybe it’d splashed all over the sheets and towels.

Whatever happened, I envisioned ETG looking at that Last Mess, saying “Oh no. Uh uh. I’m done here”, and walking his Cart de Mop right out the front sliding doors, pushing it to the end of the parking lot, holding on for dear life, giving a loud Braveheart-Style war whoop, and riding his way to FREEDOM from the tyranny of the Kingdom Tarzhey.

I feel like ETG could have had a slightly better escape route planned beforehand, though. 280 drivers are known for spotting – and tweeting – oddities very quickly. Such as Naked Guy with the tripod (not an innuendo) taking selfies of himself – there were two dozen tweets about him before he could snap his first duckface. No, ETG riding a Target Cart with Two Industrial Mops and a Mop Bucket didn’t have a chance. But he did hold on longer than Naked Guy (not an innuendo), so there’s that.

(As an aside, I did in 2014 have a brief(less) Twitter conversation with Naked Guy. I did not get to the bottom of his motive.)

Later that evening, we passed back by the scene of the crime. I was hoping that the cart would still be there – as a memorial to the ET(and Brave)G. But it was gone. Which led to a whole different slew of questions. Did the cops somehow tow the cart back to the correct Target? Did Target come and retrieve their property themselves? Or was that cart and its contents booked as evidence of a Crime of Passion and Adventure?

The world will probably never know. But I feel like ETG deserves accolades for his attempt to escape the oppression of The Target Empire, not to mention for distracting my mind completely from all I had to do that day and week and month and year and life.

And so I’m here to offer it.

I salute you, ETG.

And I promise to attempt to keep my coffee in my cup and the puke in my kid while I’m in the confines of all Targets from here on out – as a memorial to you and your valiant Stand Against Messes.