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July 2015
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The requirement of less

 

“Maj, did you just use two paper towels to dry that apple?”

Maj stands at the sink with her back to me. I watch the muscles in her bare shoulders bunch up as she leans into the counter and presses the flats of her hands hard against its surface. She lets her head drop low for a second, and then she carefully, still without speaking, places the crumpled paper towel(s) and the apple on the counter to her right. She turns slowly to face me, her face defiant. “NO.”

I walk the few steps to pick up the crumpled paper and shake it out. I rip it along its center perforation and flutter the separate pieces in the air. “Two. This is two paper towels. What did we say about wasting paper towels?”

She grits her teeth. “I … will … not … stand … for … this.”

I continue my lecture. “We haven’t even gotten to the issue of whether drying one’s fruit is necessary, which it is not. Rinse it well and then eat it damp.” I wave the paper towels in the air again. “This is ridiculous.”

“Mother, I’m not even going to talk to you if you are going to say things like Rinse it well and eat it damp, because that is a disgusting directive and I will not obey. Grapes, maybe … grapes you don’t have to dry … but apples must be dried and I will not be bullied into cooperating with your madness.”

I surrender the point. “Fine, but one paper towel. One.”

“And again, I say to you that I will not stand for this.”

“Seriously, Maj? You start buying the paper towels, then.”

“Mother, listen to me. The paper towels used to come in much larger sheets. Don’t deny it, because I was there and I held the paper towels in my hand, and I knew the size of them.”

“What’s your point?”

“The paper towels used to come in larger sheets, and the larger sheets were actually big enough to accomplish things like wiping up a spill or cleaning a window pane or, dare I say, drying an apple.”

She reaches to rip off a single sheet of fresh paper towel. “But now look what they have done! Under the guise of maximizing consumer control, they cut the sheets in half … and then they got all happy in their marketing … LOOK AT ALL THESE SMALL PROBLEMS AND MESSES THAT DON’T REQUIRE A FULL-SIZE PAPER TOWEL! HOW WASTEFUL! DON’T YOU WISH THERE WAS AN EARTH-FRIENDLY SOLUTION? GUESS WHAT? THERE IS! WE ARE DELIGHTED TO OFFER YOU … THE OPPORTUNITY FOR LESS!

She glares at me. “But the lie behind that advertising strategy is very clear to me, because THERE ARE NO MESSES THAT REQUIRE LESS. I want what was originally touted as the perfect amount of paper towel. I DO NOT REQUIRE LESS. MOTHER, I NEVER REQUIRE LESS.

“Tell me about it.”

She is ranting now. “AND SO EVERYONE STARTS USING THE SMALLER PAPER TOWELS, BUT NOBODY’S UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT THIS NEW SMALLER SIZE IS A WHOLE PAPER TOWEL. EVERYONE KNOWS IT IS A HALF OF A PAPER TOWEL … EVERYONE KNOWS THIS … EXCEPT THEN TIME PASSES, AND THE TINY PAPER-TOWEL HALVES START TO SEEM LIKE THE NEW REALITY EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE NEVER MEANT TO BE REALITY … THEY WERE ALWAYS SUPPOSED TO BE THE OPTION OF LESS, WHICH AS I MENTIONED BEFORE I DO NOT REQUIRE.”

“Geez.”

“AND THEN, MOTHER? AND THEN? THE PAPER-TOWEL COMPANY RELIES ON PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO START CHASTISING PEOPLE LIKE ME FOR USING WHAT WAS ONCE THE EXACTLY CORRECT AMOUNT OF PAPER TOWEL. IT’S LIKE THE PAST HAS BEEN ERASED AND NOW WE LIVE IN A WORLD IN WHICH WE ARE FORCED TO MAKE DO AND SOME OF US REMEMBER … SOME OF US WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER … WHAT IT WAS TO RIP OFF ADEQUATE SUPPLIES OF ABSORPTION BUT THE REST OF YOU WILL BELITTLE US AND BERATE US AND MAKE US FEEL UNWORTHY AND GREEDY FOR MERELY WANTING WHAT WAS ONCE OURS ABSOLUTELY.”

“Any chance you could hurry along to the summing up of your impassioned arguments?”

She takes a deep breath. “I admit I don’t understand the machinations and the motivations that rest beneath this scheme … it’s possible there are warlords involved … but I KNOW THAT I WILL NOT BE BESTED!”  She picks up and examines her apple. “So, Mother … in answer to your original question … NO.”

“Wait … No? No what, exactly?”

“Hold on while I rinse this apple again. It got inertia germs on it as it sat through our conversation.”

“Inertia germs?”

“Mother, I can’t explain everything to you all of the time. Inertia germs … look them up … duh.” She finishes rinsing the apple for the second time and then pauses as she reaches for the paper-towel roll, and she says to me, “Alright, let me just dry this apple.” She lowers her voice to a stage whisper, “And then Mother says …”

I glare at her. “Are you seriously using two more paper towels to dry your apple again?”

“No, Mother.” She flaps the paper towel(s) in the air. “No, I am not using two paper towels, because I refuse to yield to that particular piece of corporate mind-molding. I am not using two paper towels. Look.” She holds it out for me to see. “I am using a single sheet of paper towel … perforated in the middle so as to allow a ripping through time and space and dimension in favor of a universe in which less is required.”

There is nothing to say, and so I say nothing.

She reaches for a knife and begins to slice her apple. “I do not require less.  I never require less.”

Tell me about it.

 

    Contents due to settling

     

    During a time when I wasn’t here …

     

    Neither one of us is good at small talk, it has emerged, and so we are ten minutes into a conversation about storage lockers he and his wife have rented to hold their excess belongings. It’s an office party, and he and I are …Contents due to settling

    Nazi pole-dancer

     

    Dinner is marked by screaming from Kallan, who seems destined to handle the hormones and emotional instability of adolescence as a sort of miniature Incredible She-Hulk. Lately, any small bit of discontent or frustration causes her to explode in incredulous garment-rending rage. For example, here she is after I have asked her to …Nazi pole-dancer

    Buckets of failure-cake

    People, two things …

    1) Go buy and read Hope Lies in Less!

    2) OK, I really only had that one thing to say.  So ummm … READ THIS POST … which is short because I am working on other writing I am not currently at liberty to discuss as I am still in …Buckets of failure-cake

    The first rule of murder

     

    Today, I offer you … nine bits of random conversation …

     

    1) “Here, Mom … I found your glasses in the back yard as though you had left them there to mark the spot of your sinking. So you know, I laid on the ground to look through them before I picked …The first rule of murder