Monday, September 21, 2009

A hairy solution

I was waiting at a hair salon the other day when conversation broke around me. Two gentlemen began what was, at first, a friendly discussion on current political news. The conversation then gradually progressed to a heated debate on the pros and cons of Capital punishment. Oops, I thought. Here I go again caught in the middle of yet another conversation that was completely beyond the scope of my ‘world’.

Sandwiched between the two men, I did what I had practiced to do in such situations. I put on a face that dripped with intelligence and belied my ignorance on such issues. It is actually not that hard. You can try this too. Bring your eyebrows together very gently to create a slight furrow just above your nose. This tells an onlooker that you are deep in thoughts. Now tuck both lips inside your mouth to indicate that you are deliberately restraining yourself from jumping into the conversation and nod your head this way and that way every few minutes in agreement or disagreement. Hah, here is an absolute must that is sure to help you fit in. Be sure that you massage the back of your neck and rotate your shoulders often in a show to relieve some of the non-existent stress. People can’t help but admire such intelligent looks, such restraint and passive participation. If nothing, it sure beats sitting clueless among strangers with eyes rolled upwards in a prayer to be let out of a scene from what resembles a historical wartime drama.

As I was playing back the scene in my mind on the way back home, I suddenly realized that I had missed a golden opportunity to contribute positively to a discussion. For, I happen to have a solution to the controversial social debate on death penalty. I happen to know a ruthless form of punishment that could easily replace death penalty and have heartless criminals wet their beds in fear. I, an average housewife from the suburbs of Virginia, happen to know an alternative method of justice to the death penalty that will have murderers begging for the electric chair and the victims’ families applauding the simplicity of the solution. I am talking about some serious pain here. I am talking about a torture that is more heinous than any criminal act that warrants such a justice.

If you haven’t tuned in yet, I am talking about an inhuman act called waxing. I will bet you my right ear that any woman or girl who has ever waxed a leg at least once in her life will agree with me that there is no torture/punishment worse than that. (He he he, I am counting on the fact that my right ear is of no use to anyone…just in case the bet goes awry and I need to pay up).

You got a murderer or a rapist? Bring him on and sit him up on a chair. Stir up the hot wax and pour it on his legs, arms and back. Ignore the blood-curdling screams and spread the wax. Press a strip of muslin cloth on the wax and rip it off his skin. If this doesn’t qualify to top capital punishment, I don’t know what does. With every yank, watch the evil drain out of a man as the pain ripples through him. With every yank, discourage another one that is planning to step on the wrong side of the law. Why spend thousands of taxpayers’ money on implementing capital punishment when you can mete out something equally terrible for just over $10.00? If the Supreme Court embraces my suggestion and replaces death penalty with waxing, the Federal treasury is sure to heave a sigh of relief.

I have only one request to make of any man who thinks women are weak and powerless. Try getting your legs waxed just once before you call a woman weak. Please!

-Meena Sankaran

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Are you constipated?

After years of denial, I woke up one day not too long ago and reluctantly admitted to myself that I was constipated.

Wow….hold your horses! Tear off that prescription for laxatives, my friends. My intestines are in perfect harmony, thank you very much. I am talking about emotional constipation, a rarely talked about illness in people that when left untreated can cause irreparable damage.

If you are unsure about what I am talking about, here is how you can recognize the symptoms. You are emotionally constipated if:

  • Hugs and kisses come as natural to you as they did to Adolf Hitler.
  • You consider breaking down and crying in front of someone to be the worst cardinal sin ever.
  • Admitting an error on your part costs so much more to you than a gram of gold (which is saying a lot considering the gold price in today’s market).
  • After yelling at your kids for something you know to be totally trivial and facing the aftermath of sobs, pouts and accusing glances, you still find yourself unable to give a hug and soothe away the hurt.
  • When your husband comes home brimming with excitement about a new promotion at work, all you can say is ‘nice’ and pat him once on the hand in an awkward show of appreciation before turning back to the stove to continue stirring the pot of water.
  • Even when your heart is filled with love for …………… (fill up this space), the phrase ‘I love you’ gets stuck somewhere to the south of your throat and refuses to be spit out.

If you recognize any of the symptoms above, do not despair. All is not lost yet. When I first diagnosed myself to being afflicted with this illness, it stole my breath away. Me? Emotionally constipated? Afraid to be emotionally expressive? How could that be? How could one who prided herself to be friendly be such a coward? After a lot of soul-searching, I figured out something very curious. The closer I feel to a person, the more constipated I become. Go figure! Anyway, the good news is 'emotional constipation' is fully curable though it takes a bit of ingenuity in shuffling around your genes that dictate your behavior and relearn certain reflexive responses.

For example, if you think you may be afflicted with the same illness, the next time your child comes up to you and declares “Guess what mom/dad! I got an ‘A’ in my Vocabulary quiz today” and looks expectantly at you, resist the urge to give a stoic pat on the head accompanied by ‘good good’ before walking away to attend to the million mundane chores that always seem to await you. Difficult as it may be, stretch your lips wide in a smile, give a squishy hug and say ‘I am proud of you’. And watch utter joy wash over the little face like you have never seen before. That is just one example of 'relearning a reflexive response'.

If you are trying to quit before you even started telling yourself 'I can't change my ways. It is too hard', know that there is another soul on the planet who is trying to do the same and slowly getting the hang of it. Bad habits are there just begging to be broken. As one who is genuinely attempting to recover from this illness, take my advice and practice these phrases at home every day.

I love you.

I miss you.

I am proud of you.

I am afraid of ............

They will come in handy and go a long way to help speed up your recovery. Hope you feel better soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009


If I had a nickel for every time someone said 'Oops' in my family, I could have easily joined Bill Gates on the list for the top 10 wealthiest people in America by now.

'Oops' now heads the list of commonly used words and phrases in our day to day life such as 'No', 'OMG', 'I am hungry', 'Can I have a snack?', 'Do I have to?', 'Are we there yet?' and 'Stop bugging me'. The reason is very simple. We believe in cutting to the chase and 'Oops' allows us to do just that.

To my question ‘Why didn’t you switch off the stove 5 minutes after I left like I told you to?’, instead of a long winded explanation like ’Are you sure you told me mom? Coz I didn’t hear you at all. May be I had the MP3 on. Next time make sure I don’t have my earplugs on before you leave me with a responsibility like this. Gosh mom, all you have to do is tap me on the shoulder before talking to me. That would have saved you the saucepan’, my eldest daughter now simply says 'Oops'. What brevity in expression! Smart girl!

Before the advent of the word 'Oops', English language was elaborate, descriptive and tiresome. It took an eternity to say anything. For example, BO(before oops) if you had wandered into your dining room at 7.00 am one Saturday morning with eyes still half closed, dressed in your worn out pajamas, scratching your legs and the drool not yet dried around your mouth, only to discover all your neighbors sitting around your kitchen table staring at you because you forgot that it was your turn to host the monthly neighborhood watch meeting, you would have had to say something along the lines of "Hi...............what are you...I..........I just.........I didn't...I mean........." and run out screaming. But now voila, simply say 'Oops' and walk away for that says it all. For such a seemingly small and simple word, it sure packs a lot of meaning.

It is a shame that Shakespeare, Milton, Keats and Shelley were deprived of this miracle word during their time. How the history of literature would have changed! If I tried a bit, I could almost hear the wistful sighs floating from their graves. Let us take a look at Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.

Act I

Romeo has come disguised with a mask to a party at the House of Capulets, the sworn enemy of his family, the Montagues. Juliet sees him and wants to know his identity and sends her Nurse to find out some information about him. When the Nurse comes back, the conversation goes like this:

His name is Romeo, and a Montague;
The only son of your great enemy.

My only love sprung from my only hate!
Too early seen unknown, and known too late!
Prodigious birth of love it is to me,
That I must love a loathed enemy.

Come on! All the girl had to do was say 'Oops' and move on. Why all the big words that no one can understand? Shakespeare could have saved himself barrels of ink and lots of wear on the feather. Poor guy!

Coming back from the 16th century, let me tell you why I think ‘Oops’ is an indispensable word for our family. Our vocal chords have been resting easy ever since we stumbled upon this tiny miracle. Reading below, you will see the wisdom of speaking less and saying a lot.

Me: Did you remember to wear your eyeglasses at school?

Daughter: Oops

Me: Did you mail the tax payment to the IRS?

Husband: Oops

Daughter: Where is the binder for my Math class? Did you forget to buy it at Wal-Mart this morning?

Me: Oops

Husband: How long are you going to be blogging? Is lunch ready?

Me: Oops

Hold on, folks! I am getting a call on my cell phone. Will be back to blog in a second………………………

‘Hi sweetie. What? Are you waiting for me to pick you up at school? Oops.’

Run run run run run………………………….