Friday, August 31, 42 A.D.

Castaway In A Kitchen

When I was a boy I used to stare into the shiny curved surfaces of coffeepots and pans.  As my eyes and mind tried to make sense of the bizarrely distorted reflected images of things I thought I knew, I'd think "What if that distorted world is actually the real one?  What if I awoke someday to find myself trapped inside that bizarre world looking out instead of in??"

Now I know....

I've long considered it  a rule of thumb that it takes at least a year for me to adjust to a change in residence.  The longer I stay in one place, however, the more I forget what moving is like and the less credence I place in that rule.  I am, after all, allegedly a member of one of the smartest species on earth.  A species which has sent people to live for months on moving submarines under the sea and on orbiting space stations high up above the latest issue of TV Guide.  A species which - in my country, anyway - moves frequently, perhaps as often as once every five years now (on average).  A species which constantly makes movies and TV shows in which people experience very radical changes in their residences and instantly go on their merry way without once opening the wrong drawer in search of their car keys, guns, secret plans for world domination, or cherry-flavored lubricants.  And yet it takes me at least a year (12 months!) to master a new phone number, adjust to the excitement of a new trash day, or even remember to stop reaching to the left for the toilet paper which is now dangling right in front of me. 

None of my friends or relatives seem to have these problems after they move.  Am I just stupid or what??

I don't feel stupid.  I feel... like a child again, or like someone recovering from a stroke....

Does my new town offer day care for discombobulated 42-year-old men?  Not that I know of - but then I'm still trying to figure out how to read these new-fangled yellow pages.  Do I look under "Day care," "Adult day care," "Assisted living," "Relocation services," or "Doofus Adjusters, Inc."?

Maybe if I call my local hospital someone there can put me in touch with a good "New Home Therapist," eh?

"No, NO, Mr. Birtcher!  If you turn left one more time to get to the stove that's now on your right, there'll be NO applesauce for you tonight!"

A castaway in a kitchen - that's what I am.

I'd send up a flare, but... well, that requires me to know which way is up, doesn't it?

*Deep breath*

OK...  I understand and accept it: It's going to take months for me to rewire my brain.  "In with the new odors/sounds/numbers/placements, out with the old!" shall be my new mantra.  "Every day in every way, things are getting to seem more and more natural" shall be my new motto.

Only on Friday afternoons shall I allow myself the luxury of complaining about how Columbus seems to be going out of its way to make things harder than they should be.

Hey - it just happens to be Friday afternoon.  Aren't we the lucky ones??

Complaint Number One:  Names.  Names could be easier, guys.  Just in the paper today I came across "Morality Dr." and "Pee Pee Creek."  Now, I've lived in many places across Ohio, but I've never come across place names like these.  Coming across them now just makes Columbus seem all the weirder and harder to adjust to, you know?  Sure, I always knew Morality was out there somewhere, but the idea of sharing the same area code with it is startling enough to take my breath away.  If Morality Dr. just happens to intersect with Debauchery Boulevard or cross the Highway to Hell, please keep it to yourself.  Such excessive cuteness just might kill me in my weakened condition.

Complaint Number Two:  Etageres.  I wasn't here a week before I was hit with an ad for etageres from some oh-so-sophisticated store like KMart or Target.  I believe it's the first time in my life that a KMart ad has sent me reaching for my dictionary.  It made me feel stupid.  When a KMart ad has the power to make one feel stupid - well, let me put it to you this way: STOP IT!

Complaint Number Three:  Postcards.  I like postcards.  Once I got here and felt safe enough to venture outside my home, I went looking for some postcards to send.  You know - Columbus postcards, just so all my friends can I really HAVE moved and am NOT merely hallucinating again. Alas, no one here seems to have ever heard of Columbus postcards.  A Hallmark clerk suggested I check the local hardware.  Having run out of other ideas, I checked that local hardware.  It had postcards!  Two, in fact.  One had a picture of Cleveland on it.   The other pictured Ashtabula.  Of all the cities in Ohio, Ashtabula is probably the one that's the farthest away from Columbus.  Are the people who live here so ashamed of that fact that there's a market for these postcards?  Are they really that desperate to fool their friends - or are they buying these cards for themselves in an attempt to trick their minds into thinking they're actually in Ashtabula right now?  As for that Cleveland postcard - I'm repressing it, I'm forgetting it, it's going going GONE!  The idea that Columbus might actually be envious of Cleveland is not an idea I want anywhere near my head after spending big bucks to move here.     

Complaint Number Four:  STOP PLAYING WITH MY HEAD!  Yes, I mean YOU at the Post Office who sent me a paper explaining your services which included that line reading, "If you don't understand English, please bring this paper to your local Post Office and someone will read it to you."  Yes, I mean YOU at the local Lowe's Home Improvement Center who sold me a box of drywall screws which included the warning "ALWAYS wear goggles while hammering these into a wall!"  Yes, I mean YOU at the Kroger's store who put the display of insecticide in the cereal aisle, and then mounted a sign next to it which read "Poison-Free Insecticide."  IF IT'S POISON FREE, HOW CAN IT KILL BUGS?  DOES IT BOOST THEIR CHOLESTEROL LEVELS TO THE POINT WHERE THEY ALL HAVE HEART ATTACKS AND DIE OR WHAT????  Yes, I mean YOU at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles who put that chair next to the spot where license photos are taken - you know, that chair with a big sign on it reading "DO NOT SIT ON THIS CHAIR!"  Smaller print revealed that "This chair is for coats only."  It was July!  It was 90 degrees out by 10 am!!  If someone is stupid enough to wear a coat to the BMV when it's 90 degrees out, do we really want to give them a license to drive???

Is it any wonder that I've started having weird dreams when I sleep?  Like the one in which I pulled my tongue out too far and then couldn't get it back in my mouth and so had to walk around with it dangling out all the time.  I guess I sprung its spring, I don't know, but it sure felt realistic.

Honestly, if it wasn't for the fact that Columbus has far more VW Beetles and bare-midruff tops than Lima ever had, I'd be tempted to jump right off my kitchen sink and start swimming for familiar shores....

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(©Now by DJ Birtcher after taking a big swig
of whiskey and averting his eyes)