The joie de vivre of raw chicken

In France, if you go into a shop and don’t greet the storekeeper or clerk, they’ll think you’re being deliberately rude. Carole and I learned the truth of this when we were in Paris a few years ago; we never had any problems because we always gave a cheerful “bonjour, madame” or “bon soir, monsieur” or whatever was appropriate, but other Americans we observed would fail to do this and would get a chilly reception.

I’ve tried to practice basic courtesy and kindness when closer to home, as well. Why treat the airline counter employee or TSA agent like they’re just objects, when it takes so little effort to treat them as humans and give them a smile? Why not smile and ask the barista at Starbucks how their day is going, and actually listen to what they say? If someone’s obviously having a hard time or is visibly tired, I try to show some basic human caring, trying to cheer them up without straying over the line into “creepy customer”.

So, today Carole and I had stopped by the Hannaford supermarket in Williston, VT, ten miles from our house, to do some basic shopping. The cashier on duty was visibly yawning and looked like she’d had a long day. I smiled at her, said “Hi,” and watched as she rang things up. Biding my time. When she got to a container of raw chicken (see below) and ran it across the scanner, I cheerfully said “Leave that out; we’re gonna eat it on the way home.” She dutifully went to set it aside, just as she would a prepared salad or candy bar or any other ready-to-eat item, then did a double-take, looked up at me, and saw my grinning face.


That got her. She laughed out loud and for a moment, we connected. When we paid and left, she was still smiling.

Sometimes, it’s the little kindnesses and laughs that make all the difference.

Regarding Kats

I was on a business trip on the night of November 27, 2001.

But I was bored.

I contacted my wife on whatever instant messenger program we were using at the time and this is what resulted:

JayIDX1: ptang

Auto response from VTFurrsSorry, we’re idle.

 VTFurrs: whoooo

JayIDX1: issa lemur!

JayIDX1: hi lemur

VTFurrs: whooo?

JayIDX1: how are you feeling, lemurgirl?

VTFurrs: not bad, except for that nasty chest cough

VTFurrs: there issa baby lemur runnin around here

VTFurrs: she hassa bonnet on anna rattle

JayIDX1: I feel sort of okay except that the glands in my throat are very sore

JayIDX1: ooh, grabbit! cuddle it!

VTFurrs: she has a stripey tail

VTFurrs: an fierce claws an teeth

JayIDX1: ooh, that sounds like a ferOcious beastie

JayIDX1: I would feet it treats to placeate it

VTFurrs: i has grabbed it

JayIDX1: yay

VTFurrs: she is sittin on my lap with her butt in the air

JayIDX1: hmm

JayIDX1: that sounds like a kat

VTFurrs: she don’t say nuthin

JayIDX1: are you sure it’s not a kat?

VTFurrs: not sure how can you tell?

JayIDX1: does it have a soft white belly?

VTFurrs: not sure, it is soft but she won’t let me look at it

JayIDX1: does she have two paddy paws and two bunny feet?

VTFurrs: oh well, she has debarked now

JayIDX1: aw

VTFurrs: think so, she is scratchin her ear w/ the bunny foot

JayIDX1: 🙂

VTFurrs: oh well, she has gone back to runnin around

VTFurrs: You can’t stop them kitty-kats from runnin’ around

JayIDX1: you goin’ out soon to the arkestra?

VTFurrs: yeah but I hafta eat first

JayIDX1: yeah, kats are real mavens for the runnin’ around

JayIDX1: f00d

VTFurrs: ttfn

JayIDX1: bye

Ah, the Internet. What would we ever have done without it?

What is love? Part 2

It’s Valentine’s Day.

I’m in Florida looking after my father as he recovers from a broken hip. My wife of 15 years, Carole Furr, is back home in Vermont, working part-time doing accounting for a local firm, looking after our three kitties, and trying to keep from going nuts during the long dark cold Vermont winter.

We spend most Valentine’s Days apart, thanks to my job which has me traveling three weeks out of every four, or sometimes even more often. I’d like to say that I find a way to make the day memorable somehow, every year, but the fact is, I don’t. Some years I order her flowers, some years I order her chocolates, and some years I take her at her word and order neither in order to save money. Sometimes we go out for a nice dinner when I get home at the end of the week, and sometimes, best intentions notwithstanding, we simply never get around to it.

Carole and I have been married for fifteen and a half years. They haven’t always been easy years. We sometimes don’t get along at all. Carole suffers from depression and some rogue form of ADHD, and she’s simply not always easy to stand. And for my part, I have a bad temper and sometimes get a lot angrier about her mood swings than is reasonable, or even sane. But I’m working very hard on that these days. And I think she’s putting in some effort toward being more considerate of my need for peace and quiet in the evenings when I actually am home. Bit by bit, a step forward and a step back and another step forward, we’re learning how to get along with each other. Maybe by the time we’ve been married 50 years we’ll actually be mature enough to be good partners to each other.

Do we love each other? Yes.

But do we always like each other? No.

But we’ve stuck with each other to this point, even though at times it seemed like insanity to do so.

In the end, you know why I stick with her and she with me?

I think it’s because we feel so comfortable being silly together.

I’ll spare you a long litany of examples (although I could post one if I was so inclined and not so tired) and simply give you a classic bit of Jay-and-Carole silliness:

Our old house in Essex Junction had a large kitchen with an open archway leading to the dining room. The dining room had a glass door leading to the back yard and another open archway leading to the living room. The living room in turn had open archways leading to the dining room and to the kitchen, and then a hallway leading to the bedrooms and such.

In other words, you could walk from the living room into the kitchen, bear left, walk through an archway into the dining room, bear left, walk through an archway, and be back in the living room. (I miss that kitchen. It was about five times larger than my current kitchen, although everything else about my current house is better in every way.)

We put the topography of our house to use in a particularly strange ritual about once or twice a month. Specifically, Carole would decide to chase me. I would run (slowly), howling in fear, from kitchen to dining room to living room and back again to the kitchen, looping around over and over as she gamely pursued me. She would chant “I’m gonna git ‘cha! I’m gonna git ‘cha!” I’d go “AAAAAAAAAAAAAH” and so on.

Reasonable enough, so far.

But what made the game really special was what happened after about five or six laps. Carole would suddenly turn around and suddenly she’d be in front of me as I came around the corner into the kitchen. And while I obviously could have reversed direction myself, that wasn’t the point. She’d raise her arms in the air and go “I’M GONNA GIT ‘CHA” and I’d run right into her and *pow*, she’d grab me.

And she’d hug me and I’d whimper pathetically.

But bit by bit, I’d relax and, in my gormless way, realize that this wasn’t so bad, and I’d return the hug.

All couples do that, right?

So if that’s not love, what is?