Sunday, November 24, 2019

"It All Comes Out in the Wash"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Because I don’t do laundry, even though I often air it in public, I am frequently in hot water. But I didn’t want my house to be in it, too, so I recently contracted to replace the water heater, which threatened to blow like Old Faithful and spray steaming hot water all over me, which at least would have allowed me to do laundry without having to take off my dirty socks and underwear.

The two guys who came over to do the job were the father-and-son team of Keith and Keith Scanlon.

Keith Sr., 63, and Keith Jr., 25, are hot stuff themselves.

“I hope he’s a good cop,” father said of son, who has applied for the NYPD, “because he’s a terrible plumber.”

Replied son, “Not all of us have been doing this since dinosaurs roamed the earth.”

Even though Keith Sr. has been in the business for 40 years, he’s not exactly prehistoric, which is more than I could say for the oil burner, a rusty contraption that was in worse shape than the water heater and had turned the laundry room into the appliance version of Jurassic Park.

“It did its time,” Keith Sr. declared.

“Are you going to put it out of its misery?” I asked.

“Yes,” Keith Sr. answered, adding: “Now it’s going to cause us some misery.”

That’s because the metal hulk weighed 860 pounds.

“Being a cop has to be easier than this,” Keith Jr. said as he and his father loaded the burner onto a dolly, wheeled it through the garage and put it on a device that lifted it into the back of their truck. “The heaviest lifting I’ll have to do on the NYPD is bringing guys to jail.”

“At least this keeps me in shape,” said Keith Sr., who has no plans to retire because he has three adult children — Keith Jr. is the “baby” — and has to pay for weddings and help with college tuition bills.

“I was father of the bride recently,” said Keith Sr., whose younger daughter, Arianna, had a destination wedding in Mexico.

“It was unbelievable,” Keith Sr. said, adding that the groom, Aleck, had his bachelor party in Iceland. “I didn’t go,” Keith Sr. noted, “but my son-in-law’s family is from Macedonia, so we’re going to have a second event in the U.S. so they can attend.”

I told Keith Sr. that I have been father of the bride to both of my daughters and that the younger one was married in France.

“We also had a second event in the U.S. for the people from here who couldn’t make it there,” I said.

“We have a lot in common,” Keith Sr. said when I told him that my daughters took a trip to Iceland.

“I didn’t go, either,” I noted.

“My older daughter is named Lauren,” he said.

“That’s my younger daughter’s name,” I replied.

“My wife, Antoinette, and I have been married for 39 years,” Keith Sr. said.

“My wife, Sue, and I have been married for 41,” I said, “but I’m two years older than you are, so it evens out.”

Then I found out that Keith Sr. and Antoinette were married two days after my older daughter, Katie, was born.

“Do you do laundry?” I asked.

“No,” Keith Sr. answered.

“Neither do I,” I told him.

“We’re so much alike, it’s incredible,” he said.

The one thing we don’t have in common is that I’m retired.

“If you get in your wife’s hair, you could work for me,” Keith Sr. said. “Now that she has a new water heater, she won’t mind washing your dirty socks and underwear.”

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, November 10, 2019

"How to Bathe a Baby"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Even though I haven’t taken a bath since I was a baby, which dates all the way back to the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose bathing habits are classified information, I am now an expert on the subject. That’s because I recently gave a bath to a baby who needed it so badly, after her diaper exploded all over me, that I would have taken one, too, except I couldn’t fit in the sink.

All of this happened at 3 a.m., a time when babies (and their grandfathers) should be sleeping like babies. I would have been except that Zoe and her twin brother, Quinn, woke up hungry, which meant they had to be changed, then fed, then changed again, and again, and again.

In the end, which is where the worst of it came out, a bath was in order.

Before you get to that point, however, you will notice that babies are trained to follow a very strict routine that requires them to go through several diapers, onesies, burp cloths, towels, baby wipes, table pads, bassinet covers and, if they haven’t already been kicked off, socks.

The No. 1 concern is, of course, No. 1, which can soak a diaper so thoroughly that it weighs more than the baby.

This is followed by the No. 2 concern, which is followed by No. 3 (a combination of the first two) and No. 4 (a regurgitation of the entire contents of the bottle, which can burst like lava from the front end of the child and land all over your shirt, pants and, if they haven’t already been kicked off, socks).

If you are in charge of twins, as I was, you have eight concerns. But on this particular night, Zoe outdid her little (by two pounds) brother by emitting approximately two pounds of the aforementioned substances.

Lacking a power washer, which is great for getting baby effluent off the side of the house, I decided to give Zoe a bath.

The first thing I had to do was take off all her clothes. Or I would have if I could fit into them. I’m glad I couldn’t because they didn’t need to be laundered so much as incinerated, but I didn’t want to call the fire department in the middle of the night because: (a) it would have awakened Quinn, who had finally gone back to sleep, and (b) my own clothes were almost as filthy as Zoe’s and would have repulsed even the bravest smoke eater.

I filled the sink with warm water that covered most of the baby tub, which features a mesh seat on which I placed Zoe, who looked up at me with teary eyes as if to say, “Here’s another fine mesh you’ve gotten me into.”

Then she started to squirm. Wet babies and greased pigs are extremely difficult to grasp, although why anybody would want to grease a pig — or change its diaper — is even harder to grasp.

I took a small washcloth, wet it and squirted on some baby wash, which was “pediatrician recommended” and “lightly scented.” Even a pediatrician knows that a light scent can’t mask a heavy one, so I used more soap and worked Zoe into a lather. Her continued squirming worked me into one.

I scrubbed and rinsed her, shampooed her hair and engaged her in baby talk, which I was glad nobody else could hear because Zoe didn’t sound nearly as infantile as I did.

Afterward, I dried her off, dressed her and put her in her bassinet, where she fell fast asleep.

Then it was my turn to come clean. I took off all my clothes and got in the shower. I would have taken a bath, but I ran out of baby wash.

Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima