Everyone is Standing on it?
Everyone in New York is doing it, it seems. They do it on the radio. They do it on TV. My daughter even does it, and it drives me batty. I’m talking about confusing the two prepositions “in” and “on.” Both are generally used to show the spatial or temporal location of a direct or indirect object, but they are not interchangeable. “In” implies that the object is at least partially enclosed or within boundaries, i.e., “I am in the city,” “I am in the car,” “I am in trouble,” or “I will see you in January.” “On” implies that the object is not enclosed but rather in proximity or just outside a noun or pronoun’s boundaries. “I am on the top of the building,” “I am on the carpet,” “I am on my way to trouble,” or “I will see you on Saturday.” That’s my understanding anyway. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
When you are using a computer and are accessing the internet, you are (indirectly) online (an adjective). When you are standing at the checkout and there are people in front and behind you, you are in line. If you are using your smart phone at the same time, you are online in line. If, after all that, you’re still not sure, you’re on the line about the difference between on and in, and you could(n’t) care less. Don’t get me started on that one.
Speaking of my daughter, I performed the quarterly ritual of “harry the hairball” last night. With four females all bearing shoulder length (or longer) hair and all of them taking at least one shower a day, they send a lot of hair down the drain. I’m sure that my son and I both shed hair too, but ours is short. Unnoticeable. The dog is hands down the biggest offender, but I just rub her down occasionally with a Shop Vac and no one notices. They might if she took showers, but she’s too short to climb into the tub and is perfectly happy to remain dirty for as long as we let her.
So, the drain was slow. A bit of an understatement actually as a five-minute shower would leave you standing in five inches of water. Last night I quit putting off the inevitable and began to clear the drain. No one else will do it. It’s the unspoken rule that I am in charge of all things “handy” as well as “disgusting.” I change the oil, I clean up vomit. I rotate tires, I fix leaky faucets, and I kill spiders—especially when they are in the shower. The water turns on, a blood-curdling scream, the water turns off, and a dripping wet female clad in a towel stands at the top of the stairs and screams my name in a vain attempt to make me teleport toward the battle zone before the little beast pulls her into its lair and sucks her down to skin and bone.
What I pull from the drain this time scares even me.
“Oh my God!” My wife goggles as I pull handful after handful of wet, matted hair from the throat of the tub. When I am done, I have put together a ball the size of our little dog from the discarded hair. I rate jobs like this based on how much cursing is required to successfully accomplish it. This particular job required more cursing than vomit, but much less than changing the timing belt on the minivan.
My wife tries to lighten my mood and jokes about how I’ll be telling the “hair story” to my sons-in-law in the future and how we’ll all have a big laugh about it. “They’ll never believe me,” I say.
“Just take a picture.”
I just look at her and wonder if she’ll sit still while I rub her down with the Shop Vac.
A Tough Pill to Swallow
And finally, speaking of my wife, I’ve learned (the hard way) that I must save room after dinner. But not for dessert. My wife, for some reason, likes me (or hates me, depending upon your point of view), and she has made it her mission to keep me as fit and healthy as she can without outright possessing me and driving me(her) to the gym every day for a workout. What this means is:
- Healthy food (which I like)
- No desserts (which I hate), and
- Handfuls and handfuls of vitamins to keep my eyes bright, my nose wet, and my coat shiny.
While I did not show you the hairball in the interest of not driving away the few followers I have, I will show you my small handful of vitamins. And this is just the last course. I get different ones in the morning.
My younger kids think it’s challenge from Mom to me, and goad me into swallowing as many of these pills at once as I can. Always one who’s up for a challenge, I do as they stand around me wide-eyed like I just swallowed a sword. They are amazed because they have not yet mastered the art of swallowing pills. My son can after a great deal of effort, but my daughter, Lin, still cannot. Whenever she requires a pill that does not come in the form of a children’s chewable, I have to force feed it to her.
She is good about it. With a sad look on her sick, puffy face, she approaches me with a little pill in one hand and a cup of water in the other. Then we play “toss the pill.”
She tips her head back, opens her mouth wide, and, here’s the tricky part, closes her eyes. She needs to close her eyes because I throw the pill down her throat at high velocity so she doesn’t even have to swallow it. To her it must look like I am about to punch her in the face, so, if she is looking, she naturally flinches. If she flinches, I miss, and the pill either sticks to the top of her mouth or the side of her tonsils which causes her to cough and gag the pill into her outstretched hand.
“Sorry Daddy,” she says, holding the pill out for me to try again.
“So-k,” I mumble as I silently curse my bad aim and carefully pick the gooey pill from her palm. I try again, but it’s no use. The pill, now sticky, throws off my timing and will never fly straight again. We quickly learn that this is a once and done deal. One miss, and a fresh pill is required before attempting again.
So these two know that what I am doing is a feat they would never attempt or even ever accomplish in their future—which, in their defense, is only foreseeable through the end of the current day.
I meet Mom’s challenge again and again—until one day I don’t.
She sneaks in a new, white, very large, suppository-sized caplet. I notice. I can’t help it. It’s that big. It is easily twice the size of the others in the picture. I eye it as my kids eye me, their lips parted in anticipation and hope.
I chicken out.
Plucking the massive pill from the pile, I look to see if they notice. They do. They stare at me, their disapproval and disappointment loud and jeering. I stare back. I can see myself in their eyes, and I do not look good with feathers or a beak. I break first. Shrugging, I drop the big bullet back into the pile, tip my head back, and dump the entire handful into my open mouth—which is stretched out from accommodating my foot on most days. I take a big swig of water, tip my head back again, and swallow.
They all go down. Except… the one. I hack, cough, and gag until I am able to dislodge the large, sticky pill from my throat and spit it back into my palm. Hunching over and breathing in short, gasping breaths, I now know how Lin felt. I am thinking that my wife has finally damn near killed me with kindness when Lin speaks, offering her advice.
“Maybe you just need to toss it Dad.”
I do. Right into the garbage.