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“We live in the park!” is the brightly canned response I give my kids whenever they’re stuck staring at a mountain of gleaming green goose poo or shrieking about spiders daring to breathe in their direction (side note: do spiders practice aerobic respiration? I DO NOT KNOW).

I’m not exactly lying to them, unless you add in the two parking lots because I’m pretty sure parks don’t have parking lots, despite the interchangeable names; I’m just sort of… bending things. I mean, yes, the reason I flipped out during FLOODGATE 2013 was partially due to my proximity to the river (8-9 feet) and the proximity to the park behind The FBI Surveillance Van… *ahem* the FLOODED park mere feet from Your Aunt Becky’s front door.

*in high-pitched, I-just-got-kicked-in-the-balls-voice* But who’s counting? (answer: me)

While my idea of “roughing it” involves having to walk more than three feet to an ice machine and staying at a hotel that does NOT have twenty-four hour room service in which I can order my waffles and coffee brewed from beans the magical unicorns fart out (see also: hotel coffee = expensive), I don’t actually mind living in a park. Beats the SHIT out of saying, “I live in a van down by the river” along with something about “government cheese*” which would be a great name for a rock band, if’n you think about it.

Completely pointless sidebar: do you, o! wise Pranksters, think that any band starts out with the objective of being dumped into the “light rock” category to be played by orthodontists everywhere? THESE are the things that keep me up all night long *guitar solo*.

Alas, I digress.

While you won’t find me within ten miles of a campground for fear that a motley band of rogue campers will attack me and take me hostage AT aforementioned campground until I finally crack and tattoo I HEART CAMPING on my ass, I do enjoy nature. So long as it isn’t in my living room.

When I first moved into the FBI Surveillance Van, my upstairs neighbor warned me about the spiders that dare to weave webs SOMEHOW BREATHING in our vestibule and how he’d occasionally pull down the webs in such a tone that I knew the appropriate response was to shriek and possibly throw something out of panic. I didn’t. He was visibly disappointed.

What I didn’t bother explaining that, as a former waitress who once worked summers at an outdoor fancy gazebo, slinging Honey Brown and wearing dryer sheets to protect my allergic ass from bees, we were daily assigned tasks to complete before our shift. Several hours we spent at a whopping two bucks an hour getting our gazebo ready for business. One of these tasks was a duty we called “cobwebbing.”

The server stuck cobwebbing would bemoan her fate to the rest of us who were MORE than happy to be brewing iced tea and wiping down tables in preparation for the inevitable onslaught of people who wanted to get drunk and feed the carp bread for amusement.

Cobwebbing became a thing the night that my former friend Mikey decided to tell a woman who’d noted that there was an unsightly stain on her cheeseburger that it was “spider poo.” Whether or not spiders shit, I don’t know. The spiders could’ve been spitting on us, crying spider tears for their slain kin, or, as Mikey so tactfully pointed out, flinging poo on us. We can’t be sure.  All I know is that from then on, one of us had to grab an ancient broom with a handle so frayed it would leave us blistered and splintered, and begin to sweep the cobwebs from the top of the gazebo.

Not a terrible job.

That is, if you don’t know what happens when you remove a spider’s home.

(for the uninformed: they get pissed and fall all over you and crawl up your shit)

I quickly got over any fear of bugs after slinging beers and burgers for several summers there (mostly)(okay, earwigs are still fucking minions of Satan). This also would be why I didn’t give my cobwebbing neighbor a medal or something.

The only bug that has remained both mysterious and full of the awful was The Tick.

Not only is that motherfucker creepy looking, it also carries Lyme Disease which is one of those things you do NOT want to have. While the name is fairly innocuous – cute, even – the effects are not. I’ve known people who’ve died from Lyme Disease and that does NOT even include my fake dead cat Mr. Sprinkles. Earwigs, sure they’re creepy, and spider bites can get kinda gnarly, but The Fucking Tick of Doom? You do not want to piss off The Fucking Tick of Doom.

Early Sunday morning, my kids were climbing all over me, trying to get me to wrap them in bubble wrap and let them roll around in it, and because I am both lame and boring, I explained that we simply did not have ENOUGH bubble wrap to attempt such tomfoolery.

“Mooooom,” Alex said, exasperated by my acute onset boriningness, “Can’t you go to the store and pick some up?” While this was a good idea and a sure-fire way to have some fun, it was a quarter past Let Mommy Sleep Until The Sun Rises and I was in no mood to track down an industrial amount of bubble wrap.

“I need my coffee, Al.”

Mimi poked her head up and calmly informed me, “I drank all your coffee, Mama.”

I groaned. “Was it good, at least?” She nodded her head vehemently reminding me, once again, that one cannot drink coffee through osmosis.

I turned to Alex, sitting to my right attempting to hack my i(can’t)Phone when I saw it.

No, not the ear boogers I’m normally on the hunt to remove.

It was a fucking tick.

In my kid’s ear.

There was a fucking tick in my kid’s ear.

The one child who will kick the ass of anyone who dares speak ill of his Mama is terrified of bugs. And no, it can’t be some weird childhood fear: we’re talking Phobia Country.

I used my superior memory of completely pointless acronyms to access the one that serves me best: IPDE (Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute)(TEN AND TWO, GODDAMMIT, REBECCA! AND WHERE ARE YOUR FUCKING PANTS?) and not the one that has never served me well, ever: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

I had to get the fucker out of his ear before he saw what, in fact, had been crawling around his poor ear canal and before the fucker decided to make Tick Babies in his ear or some shit. I did the only thing I COULD do in such a situation: I pinned him down, teased him about an ear boogie and pulled the still-squirming The Fucking Tick out of his ear canal while I dry-heaved into his hair. I levitated to the bathroom to kill The Fucking Tick of Doom, trying to recall what one must use to kill The Fucking Tick of Doom without alerting children that there was an actual problem.

Bleach! I can use BLEACH! That shit is AWESOME! I patted myself on the back for thinking so quickly on such little coffee. But try as I might, no amount of bleach killed The Fucking Tick of Doom and I didn’t want The Fucking Tick of Doom to make Fucking Tick of Doom Babies in my drain, so I dusted off the neurons that held the information I so needed.

Oil.

I can use oil to kill The Fucking Tick of Doom.

I scampered into the kitchen, pleased to note that my children had not, in fact, noticed anything awry and were intently working on hacking into my electronics, and grabbed a Ziplock baggie. Back to the bathroom I dashed, bag in hand, ready to execute The Tick of Doom for DARING to crawl NEAR my child.

I picked up the still-squirming Tick of Fucking Doom, holding back the urge to heave, and dumped his bleach-covered ass into that baggie. Then, I grabbed some of that oil you’re supposed to put in your hair to make it shiny but usually makes it end up looking like you shellacked your head and squired that fucker down. Then, I closed the baggie, making sure The Fucking Tick of Doom was submerged in the oil.

It worked.

I had successfully slayed my first Fucking Tick of Doom.

*Not entirely sure if this is actual cheese or a pasteurized processed food-like product or something that Dick Cheney invented when he was hungry one day.

This was sorta a sponsored thing, but I’d have done it for free because THAT is how deep my love for bleach is.

Despite now having three children, becoming an Infection Control nurse, and having the not-so-insane-(probably) desire to return to school to become a virologist, I’m not particularly germaphobic. I mean, I’m not exactly begging for germs to come into bed with me and make germ babies, but I am pretty laid back when it comes to Teh Germs.

See Pranksters, even knowing full well that I don’t usually WANT to know where that thing the kid is shoving into his mouth has been, I’ll admit it: I’ve allowed all of my children to crawl around on the floor without washing it first, I let dogs lick their faces, and I consider “washing a pacifier” to be throwing it into my own mouth for a couple of seconds. I own a thing of antibacterial hand sanitizer for those particularly disgusting stink-a-palloza (a term normally reserved for the scent of particularly badly cooked fish) diaper changes, but I often forget to use it unless it’s a true craptastrophe.

Despite all of that. Despite being raised by hippies whose idea of “cleaning” involved some patchouli-scented spray that ended up gumming up entire surfaces. Despite the “germs are our friends… sometimes” mantra I chant after I watch the dog eat his own excrement, I have a confession to make.

Ready?

Hold your breath, Pranksters. This is gonna be a shock.

I love, love, LOVE bleach. If I was allowed only one cleaning product for the rest of my life bleach would be it. Between the cats with worms and the kid who cannot seem to manage to pee sitting down, yet lacks the attention span to actually aim his urine at the gigantic gaping porcelain god, bleach and I are BFF. No, it’s DEEPER than that. I love bleach like I love oxygen. I’d marry bleach if I could be certain I wouldn’t inadvertently mix it with ammonia while cleaning the craptastrophe under my kid’s bed.

(Hey, I never said I was smart)

My love of bleach, though, it’s now bordering on obsession. Suddenly I want to dip the baby in bleach after his diaper explodes. I have to stop myself from following both Ben and Dave around with a spray bottle of bleach. I’ve considered bathing in bleach because I love it so very much. Instead of sprinking sage or whatever it is new-age people do around a house, I’d happily use bleach-scented air freshener if I didn’t think it would squick people out.

THAT is how I feel about bleach.

When Clorox asked me to come up with some words to describe occasions in which I’d use bleach, I was all, “WHERE DO I BEGIN?” and started writing a sonnet. But they got specific: they wanted SILLY words to add to their Clorox Icktionary not an ode to bleach.

I came up with two: stinkapalloza (overcooked fish) and craptastrophe (pile of crap under my kid’s bed). Because, well, obviously.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I’m in therapy or I’d (still) be standing on the side of the road with a big “I HEART BLEACH” sign. We all know how THAT turned out.

(answer: straightjacket time)

Blah, blah, blah disclosure time:

“This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Clorox blogging program. The opinions and  ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, you can totes click here.”

Some fifteen(ish) years later, I can’t help but hear the voice of my father screaming at me every time I use my turn signal, “SIGNAL YOUR INTENT, REBECCA” followed generally by some nonsense about “AND PUT ON A FUCKING PAIR OF PANTS, DAMMIT” because that’s the way my brain works: it remembers odd turns of phrase and holds them captive in some random corner of my mind that could be better used, oh, I don’t know, LEARNING HOW TO MAKE COFFEE?

But no.

Alas no.

Shamefully, no.

(stands up holding cup of lukewarm coffee in Styrofoam container and announces:)

My name is Becky, I’m 32 years old, and I can’t make coffee.

(Hi Becky!)

However, I CAN remind you (loudly) to SIGNAL YOUR INTENT to other drivers, which has always made me giggle: what if my intent was to flash them or whip donuts at old people? Is there a special signal for THAT because my turn signal doesn’t seem to do much beyond blink stupidly.

Nevertheless, I DO signal my intent every fucking time I turn, which means that somewhere along those years in which my father remains convinced I didn’t listen to him, I actually DID listen to him.

Goes to show you never can tell.

A couple of weeks ago, when the rains came and the river engorged, I checked the forecast on my i(can’t)Phone as I was dressing for work, figuring we were probably due for a tsunami or something. I learned that while we were NOT experiencing an earthquake, fire, tornado, random flinging of fish or *waves hand* some OTHER horrible disaster, we WERE under a flash-flood warning.

Which, no shit, Sherlock. The river looks as pregnant as half my Facebook feed.

I continued reading what the National Weather Center had to say about this particular warning, wondering if this here part of the Fox River was to be submerged that day. Turns out, not that day, but it did give me a particular bit of wisdom I can’t get out of my head for the life of me.

This message informed me that in the event that I should encounter a standing body of water on the road, rather than say, “Wow, my car needed washing anyway!” and truck on through, I should instead “Turn around. Don’t drown.”

I can’t tell you why this stuck with me long enough to tell my coworkers about it a couple of hours later (and, I should add, not having encountered any bodies of water on the ground or elsewhere), but it did. It’s not a particularly funny statement – the idea of drowning in a car is fucking freaky as fuck – and it’s not even a particularly useful statement.

I mean, SIGNAL YOUR INTENT can be applied to just about everything you do, ever…

Wanna go on a date? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.

Want to eat? SIGNAL YOUR INTENT.

Want to lounge around in your underwear? CLOSE THE BLINDS, THUS SIGNALLING YOUR INTENT.

…but “Turn Around. Don’t Drown?” I can’t come up with a single other instance in which those words, in that order, would tumble from my mouth.

My coworkers seemed similarly befuddled by the sentiment and I vowed to cross-stitch it on something, well, if I cross-stitched anything ever, which I am pleased to say that I do not. We also told one another as we passed in the halls, “Turn around. Don’t drown,” for no particular reason whatsoever.

This morning, one of my coworkers frantically ran into my office, and, not noticing that I was in the midst of a particularly important conference call, practically screamed, “THEY’VE EXTENDED THE THUNDERSTORM WARNING UNTIL 12:15!”

I craned my neck to look outside, thought, “yup, sure is dark out there,” before shrugging at her and returning to my call. It’s April in Illinois. Thunderstorms are as omnipresent as deep dish pizza and a deep abiding hatred of Wisconsin.

Once I hung up the phone, I decided that I probably SHOULD see what sort of weather I was going to have to deal with some 9.5 hours later when I decided to leave Not Chicago. The Weather Thingy told me that St. Charles DID have… not 4. Not 5. But SIX entire warnings and not a DAMN one of them about the fish.

 (won’t someone think of the fish?!?!)

I clicked on each of the six blinking advisories to see what would ACTUALLY apply to me and, upon scrolling down through the “you’re probably gonna wanna get the balls outta there,” I noted something. Something major.

“Hey Ames,” I said to my coworker who happens to have the misfortune of sharing an office with me.

She put down her paperwork and looked at me, “Yeah?”

“THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE THINGY DOESN’T TELL ME TO DO WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO.”

She blinked at me.

“What do I do if I encounter still-standing water on the road? DOES THAT MEAN IT’S TIME TO WASH MY CAR AND/OR SHOW OFF MY MAD OFF-ROADING ABILITIES?”

She blinked again.

“Duh,” she said. “TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN.”

And just like that, I lost my ability to retain any new phone numbers so that TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN can forever live in my subconscious*.

That’s bullshit.

*And yours too!

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