Tag Archives: men

Home Improvement Gender Based Conflicts

2013 continues to be my least favorite year of the decade. I know we’re only 21 days in, give it a chance.

Bullshit. When I want an Oompa Loompa I want it now. Basically the problem this year so far has been my inability to find/make/allocate/manage time. I thought with a couple kids out of the house I’d be free as bird to pursue more esoteric pursuits, engage my passion for paint-by-numbers pictures and wordsearch puzzles.  Sadly this has not been the case.

OK enough whining.

Had some an update from the gender wars this week. I found myself sitting on the sofa in the living room with my bride. Just the two of us, last time we sat and talked like that was probably in 2000. That was the year we took our first and what would be our last, at least to date, vacation together, just the two of us. Scary times, nothing to do but answer questions, and not just the good kind of questions, defined by me as ones with one word responses, these were questions that required engaging conversation which have me running away,  and fast. Actually the Ghost of Montezuma intervened on day two of the that week at Club Med and Mrs S was unavailable for the last 4 days of the trip. It sucked for her, but made a quiet week for me. Too bad we were in Mexico and not somewhere good like Apple Valley or Balsam Lake.

We were sitting there quietly doing whatever it is we do when we’re quiet, most certainly involves a cell phone or a computer in my case, and Mrs S started to list off a few projects she has in mind for the house. This is always interesting. Personally I’ve never initiated a home project in my life. I don’t look at a house that way, something I want to, or can make better. I tend to look at it from the “how do I get comfy here” perspective. I bet a lot of husbands do the same thing. Why fix something that ain’t busted. She was talking about new windows, I get that one, an island for the kitchen… Ironic in my opinion, when the spouse who never sets foot in the kitchen makes proposals for how to improve it. And finally a very general “And I want to do something over there’’ which she said as she was making a hand gesture in the direction of our staircase. “Over where?” “Over there, the staircase, the banister needs replacing, I’d like to put some wood on the landing, get rid of these railings things over here”.

“Over where?” I asked, but changing the inflection from Over to Where thereby asking a question as opposed to challenging her directly. I got the “you simpleton” look. The banister is apparently “dated”, and looks like it came out of the 80’s. House was built in 1985, the home shows would call that woodwork either “original” or “period”. I think we should leave it alone. And I told her so. Wrong answer. We need to modernize and get the banister current.

This is a great example of a first world problem, and I told her so. Apparently since I live in a first world country, and have a first world family I am qualified to have this as one of my problems. And she told me so. Directly. Sometimes words hurt when they aren’t meant to. This was not one of those cases. Her words were meant to hurt, just a little.

The railing however.. we have one of the those seemingly useless little railings, comes out from the wall about 6 feet and helps the lame and moronic understand where the entry hall starts and the living room ends. It is a little retarded. But.. it has a use, especially in the winter. When I come in after walking home from the bus stop it gives me a handy place to drape my coat, and that decorative round knobby thing on the end of the railing, well its a very handy tie rack. Actually it holds a weeks worth of ties, which makes it easy for Mrs S to find then so she can take them upstairs to my closet when she is taking rest of the laundry up. And I told her that.

Some arguments sound better in my mind then they do when I say them.

I lost this battle for practical over design in our bathroom years ago. Again, project required. New shower installed, new shower door. Instead of the 1970’s slider doors, we put a real door with hinges and everything. Problem is, well there’s two. First problem she had frosted glass installed instead of clear. I thing clear glass makes showers more open and sexy. She thinks the same thing and that’s why it’s frosted. And explains the deadbolt on the bathroom door.

The other thing is the door opens against the wall where at one time the towel rack was. We can’t have a towel rack there now.. would break the door. Oddly enough I am the ONLY person in the house who thinks a towel rack near the shower is a handy thing to have. The rest of my roommates are perfectly comfortable picking up a towel off the floor to dry off with. This is OK in the winter if you put the towels directly over the heat register, cheap way to have a heated towel, but by and large this whole arrangement is annoying. I don’t want to be annoyed having to leave my coat and tie on the floor in the living room. Would make it hard for Mrs S to find my ties to go hang them upstairs. I could put them on the new banister. I wonder if they have a model with a tie rack?

BTW, new slider door installed on the porch last year. Contractor got the left opening door instead of the right opening door. He was told not to worry about it, it’d be fine. Well, 1) the light switches are on the wrong side of the door now, I’m the only one who even a little bit bothered about that, 2) the dog continues to run head on into the wrong side of the door. This is actually pretty amusing so I’m going to call that a wash. But it does illustrate the futility of my influence in the house. It’s like there’s a Family Steering Committee and I’m not on it.

On the other hand do I want to be on it? Probably not.

So, more home improvements on a house that I think is prefect, except for the bathroom. If it weren’t for my bride I’m sure I’d never know how many things needed to get done around the house.


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Starting to think Holidays, Sank Style

My favorite time of the year, just around the corner. Thanksgiving to New Years, love it. This time of year winter is still new and fun, the drudgery hasn’t quite set in, and it’s early so the bite of sub-zero temps usually hasn’t happened yet. There’s not a lot of yard work to do, the leaves are up, the grass is digesting it’s last big feeding of fertilizer and has gone to sleep for the season, the flower beds are covered in mulch.  About half the time by Thanksgiving around here the first snows have buried the lawn anyway putting my brown spots and dead areas out of sight and out of mind. There’s  time off from work as holiday’s and good cheer start to take over everyone’s consciousness, and there’s the hope that soon some new toy or book or something will come my way.

One thing I really look forward too, lots of time with family and friends which means; lots of good content for this space. Oooo boy.

I like the holidays because the chaos level in the house and in our family life gets turned up a few notches. When things are going in several directions at the same time and people are making and changing plans, and homes and condo’s are packed with folks, there’s a lot more space for a slacker like me to sort of get lost in the shuffle and not find myself in the middle of each crisis, nor find myself being accused of being the cause of the same.

Then again, there is an argument to be made, mostly by my wife, that all issues this time of year are, at their root cause, my fault. BECAUSE… at some point this season, as has happened like clockwork over the last 25 seasons, she will realize that both of us are not working nearly as hard at ensuring that commitments are being met, cards are going out, kids are where they need to be at the right time, or that airline tickets and ski passes and travel days and school pageants and neighborhood parties and Masonic events and shopping trips and all that stuff are coordinated correctly. Matter of fact, at some point one of us, and I’m not going to name names here, will be accused off “having it easy” and “being a man”, the two conditions apparently, being synonymous.

The classic case, and this discussion is explored in some detail every year, is of course travel. “Sank”, any married women who reads this and says they haven’t had this discussion; I accuse you of lying, “when you travel you only worry about yourself and your stuff, I… have to pack for EVERYBODY ELSE”. Interject the word “plan” or the word “drive” for “pack” and you have the summation of our holiday time conversations.  When the kids were young my defense was “well, don’t do so much.”

To my younger readers, specifically male, I strongly recommend that you DO NOT use this approach, it’s the equivalent of pulling a tigers tail in my experience. You get in the first the yank, but the end results are disastrous. I don’t say that anymore. A newer version that I tried last year, with marginally better results “Let the kids worry about their own stuff”. While it backfired too, she didn’t have quite the same conviction behind her counter that she’s had before leading me to believe that in the long run, this approach will win the day. The holidays being a time of hope, I have that hope.

Then again, my Father-In-Law has tried this approach for years and gets similar results. I guess, like turkey at Thanksgiving and Dick Clark on New Years Eve it’s just one more holiday tradition that we get to enjoy every year. So, here’s to turkey, stuffing,  football and family and open and honest communication. L’Chaim.


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MAC Daddy

Had some new experiences today, I always cherish days where I get to learn something new. Today I got to learn all about MAC cosmetics, courtesy of the nice man at the MAC counter at Macy’s.  I use the term loosely by the way. “nice” I mean.

The MAC counter is about as new a frontier as this bumbling idiot has entered into in a long old time. I’ve spent some time in parts of stores that sell cosmetics. For some reason Walgreens sells my brand of aftershave, Hi-Karate, in the cosmetic department. So I get the joke on outrageously packaged tiny little packages, you might say I have some experience in this since I was the guy who used to purchase a gift from the cosmetic counter ever Mothers day for dear old ma. The 55 gallon drum of Jean Nate’. She loved that stuff. I think women of her generation used it like my friend Loren uses “scent lock” before he goes out deer hunting. Pour the stuff all over themselves. In Mom’s case she wasn’t going out hunting, at least that I knew about. Mom was using Jean Nate’ to cover up her other favorite smell, cigarette. Well that’s how I remember it anyway.

The MAC Counter is a far cry from the Walgreens cosmetic counter, for one thing where the Walgreens features a spot where a person could help you if they were interested in providing help at Walgreens, but which in reality never has anyone standing there, MAC has about three dozen people there to help regardless of the fact that there wasn’t one person in or near the department. This crowd of people by the way? Ever see that Mike Myers skit on Saturday Night Live where he’s the guy on German TV with the monkey? Dressed in black, screwed up hair and metro-euro sort of affect? Yeah, I wonder which came first Mike Myers skit or MAC, because once, clearly inspired the other. Think old Mr Sank is making stuff up, again? They’re both Canadian… goes to show how little we really know about what goes on up North.

Anyway I confidently strolled up to the counter to attempt to replace my wives eye shadow that I’d crushed under my immenseness the day before. Getting help at the counter is a little more difficult than you’d expect given that there were 4 of them only one of me, me being a customer, a paying customer mind you. I waited for a minute or two, avoiding with every fiber of my being the temptation to yell “Yo SERGE”, ‘cause I was pretty sure everyone there would turn and look at me thinking I was talking to them. With all that blackness and makeup, spiky hair was the only indication I had of gender. Drivers license would probably be required to confirm.

I caught the eye of one dude and while I expected that he would really have no time for a bloke like me, old fat and ugly, he was actually pretty decent. “How can I help you sir?” “I’m a-gonna need some face pint for the old lady.”

What the hell, you have to have some fun in life. He stared at me.. “you might consider a little pressed powder yourself sir, would take a bit of the shine from your forehead.”

This sort of caught be off guard because 1) I’m not exactly sure what he just said, I don’t know what pressed powder is  and 2) I wasn’t aware that my forehead was so reflective. Next question.

“Um I don’t need makeup today thank you, but I do need something for my wife”.

“Ahh I see.. you know a bit of concealer right here..”  he pointed to the rather deep dark bags under my eyes “ would make you look a bit healthier and take a few years off”.

Again.. stare.

Now I’m flustered. I’m sort of sure that Serge is telling my I look like 20 miles of bad road.. I know this already, I joke about it, but to hear it from a guy who..


 Now I notice that this fellows entire face, from his hairline to his chin is the most uniform color of human flesh I’ve ever seen, except for a little dash of shadow between his impeccably groomed eyebrows and eyes. Stop this.

“I need some eyeshadow for my wife, I destroyed it and as punishment I have to come here and by more.”

“from you”.


“What color is she?” he asked. “Pasty white”.. that’s not the answer he was looking for. I’m shaking my head as I say this like he’s just asked the stupidest question ever. Turns out we’re not both stupid, just me.

“What color does she wear”. Of all damned things to forget to ask about.. what damn color does she wear. “If I tell you a little about her can you pick one?” Ok there is now no way in hell that this is going to go well. I’m now on the march to folly where we men, for reasons unknown, but strongly suggested by intelligence, will head down a bad road for no other reason than.. it’s the easiest one.

At that time.

Key, at that time.

She’s very fair, was a blonde at one time. Eyes are a bright blue. Now when she smiles she gets happy lines in corners, I don’t know if she uses primer on those or not. He suggested a few colors. Informed me that she doesn’t use primer and she probably doesn’t like talking about that. I get it. She doesn’t like talking about that new crevice in her lip that sucks up all the lipstick either. Learned THAT the hard way.

I actually bought a couple different colors when I learned they were only $15.00. I was expecting more. “If these aren’t right don’t open them, you can bring them back.” “Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow I’m pretty sure.” “Sir, do you remove the hair from you ears?”

OMG. I hate the hair growing out my damn ears. HATE.  Why.. it’s my own crows feet.. lip crease what ever. “yea” Fact is I remove it every day as soon as I feel it. Not the best thing to do in meetings, but what’cha’gonna do. Can’t go around looking like Grandpa from the Rugrats. Shezz. “Well, you do think about your grooming Sir.. so if you ever want help with those bags, come see me. I’m discrete”. I took his card but I had a very skeptical look and I was very methodical about it. Not gonna happen. I don’t think.

Mrs S, BTW..  color was fine, write that up to blind squirrel and nuts theory.


Filed under Life

Sank Helps

Always helpful, I decided to clean the bathroom this morning. I’m often helpful that way. I feel moved to clean stuff spontaneously, like when step in dog crap.. I’ll often decide that I should pick up the lawn. Sometimes… I even do it.


I ran in for a shower, and in a moment of motivated clarity I decided to clean the bathroom. It was a little rough in there and Mrs S always says “if you’re just going to bitch about something you can do yourself, do it”. So I did.

Grabbed the supplies, which in our house are carefully kept in a nice caddy for easy transport. Step one, from my “Clean Anything In No Time” book I’m supposed to put the toilet cleaning stuff in the stool first. Next step is to clean of the counter. I have two things on the counter, a shaver and tube of sunscreen. Oh and an old guy daily dose box of pills.. embarrassing I know but it helps me remember what day it is every morning. Sign of age is the pill part of the box is getting harder and harder to close as more tablets are put into it. Good news is, only one is prescription. The other are my daily dose of assorted fish oils, aspirins and a double dose of Enzyme Male Enhancement .. which isn’t working so well, but the lawn is well watered.

Cleaning of her side of the counter.. that could take the rest of day. Looking at it there’s a lot of small stuff over there, and lots of things that I’m not authorized to touch. Being smart I took a picture for future reference. I numbered each of her items with a sharpie and put them on the floor. She notices stuff like that.

By now I was regretting ever having this idea and my mind was starting to drift. We also have an electric tooth brush thing that has different colored little bands on the brushes.. I have a hard time remembering which color is mine. I’m also color blind, which doesn’t help. Just to be sure I marked mine, or the one I always use with the sharpie, and put it aside. Now the counter was  ready to be cleaned.

Wiped’r down with the bleach spay and the sponge.. I’m helping now. A lot!

Next up the mirrors. Lots of little spots on the mirror, disgusting reminders of the untold danger of flossing. I suppose cleaning a mirror now is better than Gabby Sank later.. I am quite religious about it.

I sprayed the mirror with the blue stuff marked “Glass Cleaner” I couldn’t find mirror cleaner, I assume it’s the same stuff. Now, what do you wipe glass with? There’s nothing in the caddy that looked like it would be useful for cleaning glass. It’s all sponges and towels. Sigh.. Papertowel I guess, which means I gotta go down stairs and grab some. On the way out I stepped on something that cracked under my weight. Small, black plastic thing with some different colored powders in it.. must be an Apple Product because it says “mac” on it. Crap, if it’s an Apple Product it’s expensive. Turns out I had no idea..

Now I’ve got another problem, gotta hide some evidence and hope she doesn’t notice that she’s missing a bit of makeup. Hope it’s not something she uses everyday.  On the way out of the bath, into the bedroom I noticed her drawers drawer was open. Mrs S has a lot of drawers.. ok panties if you must. She doesn’t have a lot of lingerie. I know the difference having spent 20 years studying Victoria’s Secret Catalogs every week. In some detail mind you. Mrs S laments that one purchase 20 years ago, at VS and now we get softcore porn in the mail every Thursday, and somehow every time she requests that they stop sending her these adverts, she gets signed up again. I love this country.

Her drawers drawer looks like a discount store dump bin of bargain panties, if you ask me. At that moment a thought, a thought that only a man could have, entered my ADD affected head, panties are all cotton, cotton doesn’t leave streaks… and well” Funny too because I knew at the time, I’d be saying to myself later, seemed like a good idea at the time.

And you can see how men reason.. She’s certainly not going to miss one pair. Sheez I gotta hide the mac thing anyway, what’s one more piece of evidence left in a Wal-Mart trash can in the next county I reasoned. I grabbed a non-descript pair of blue cotton libido killers and wiped down the mirror. Worked great.

As I was finishing up I made a horrifying discovery, the panties were marked. Right there, sewn into them.. the word “Wednesday”. Holy cow she has’um marked by day. That woman has everything damn thing planned. The only thing written on my underwear is my name, and that’s with a sharpie and it’s backward so I can read it in a mirror should I get confused. She is gonna miss these.. but how could she? She’s got a lot of cotton in there, surly one pair…

I finished up, printed the picture so I could put everything back where it went, put a soap dish where the mac thing was and hoped for the best. Frankly looked great if you ask me.

Mrs S got home that evening and after greeting me went up to shower after her campout. I sat in the kitchen, rocking and praying that this would go well. My prayers were, ignored. Again.


She called me in a way which initiates the flight/fight response. What to do? Fight I guess, I went upstairs. “you uh cleaned up up here huh?” no response.. this could be a trap. “Where’s my eyeshadow?” silence.. but I looked confused.. “It was in a black case said ‘mac’ on it.” “oh that.. um I stepped on it as I was cleaning” wince now and hope she goes for the gut and not the face. “Oh well.. you can pick me up a new one downtown on Monday, you’re going to like it there.. oh and bring about $45.00 in cash”. BTW, note to self, why do I get uptight about spending $25.00 on fishing stuff? Hold that for another damn day.

“Sank”.. now what.. “Why is there black mark on my toothbrush? Shit. “To mark yours dear.”

She showered and came out.. “you did a nice job in there.” Smile “looks really good, how’d you get the mirror so clean”.


She walked over to the undie drawer opened it.. and stared.. for too long. “Sank there were 103 pairs of undies in here when I left. There are 102 now. Where’s is.. um.. … … Wednesday is missing, where’s Wednesday?”


More Silence. I was about to say “I love you” my fallback when she broke the impasse.

“OK if you tell me your wearing them or doing something weird with them I swear to..”

“NO NO NO Dear..” I came clean. Told her what happened and if she wanted them back I’d drive over to Bloomington and sift through the trash at Wal-Mart and bring them back. “NO need Sank, not that big a deal, besides I’m sure they’ve already been picked outta there by a regular anyway.” “OK, I’m sorry I used your panties to clean the window”.

“that makes us even for me using your toothbrush to clean behind the faucet. See how open communication solves everything?”


Filed under Life