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War Will Leave You Cold

, , , | Related | August 4, 2021

My grandmother, having been through two wars, was unbelievably thrifty and would not throw away anything until it was so worn that it couldn’t be mended any further. And, of course, nothing new could be put into use as long as the old stuff had some mileage still in it.

I always suffered from cold feet. I have some woollen “bedshoes” that belonged to my mother, crocheted in a honeycomb style that leaves most of my skin exposed and does nothing for the cold.

An elderly aunt, staying with us for a while, knits me a magnificent pair of bedshoes: fully enclosed, ankle-high, thick, and warm. I profusely thank my aunt and start wearing her bedshoes.

A few days later, after my aunt is back with her family, I’m asleep in bed. I wake up with a start, in pitch darkness. My covers are lifted and there’s someone in the room, hovering above me. Bogeyman? Wild bear? Kidnapper? No, it’s my grandmother, replacing my bedshoes with the old ones at two in the morning and scaring me to death in the process!

She tells me to shut up (which I do — she’s already positioned to slap the bejeezus out of me if I don’t comply), takes away the warm bedshoes, and goes back to sleep.

The following weeks are an endless game of hide and seek with the bedshoes between the two of us until, at last, summer comes. Being a small child, I eventually forget about the bedshoes until years later, after my grandmother is long dead and we find them in their last hiding place, too small for my feet by now, and completely disintegrated. It’s a small relief to know that at least the moths enjoyed the bedshoes undisturbed.

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Doctors Don’t Know Everything

, , , | Healthy | August 4, 2021

A routine blood test shows that my levels of TSH — thyroid-stimulating hormone — are high, 4.2 mg/l. Basically, it means that my thyroid isn’t working properly: the normal value ought to be under 4.5. I start seeing an endocrinologist. At 5…

Endocrinologist: “Yes, yes. Nothing to worry about. Let’s just keep it monitored. See you next year.”

Next year, at 6…

Endocrinologist: “Well, well. There’s clearly something going on here, but I’d rather not start medicating as you’re still young. See you next year.”

Next year, at 8…

Endocrinologist: “I don’t like the look of this. If it keeps rising, we’ll have to put you on something. See you next year.”

I get in the family way, and eight months into my pregnancy, I’m examined by an obstetric, an old guard doctor with the manners of a constipated bear. He takes a look at my blood tests.

Obstetric: “Just what are you waiting for before you do something for that thyroid, lady? Your TSH is through the roof!”

Thyroid medication, of course, is prescription-only. I would have so liked to give him my endocrinologist’s number and watch the discussion.

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This Is Why They Say, “Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be”

, , , | Related | July 27, 2021

My father has read a certain trilogy of thriller books and insists I must read them, too. I’m not a fan of the genre, but he is very insistent. A few months later…

Father: “When are you going to return those books? I want to lend them to my brother.”

Me: “I think I returned them to you already?”

Father: “No, you didn’t, so give them back.”

Easier said than done. My house is a hoarder’s dream or a nightmare. Books travel through it all the time, to and from charities, flea markets, libraries, remainders, and whatnot. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t give away a lent book, but sometimes the brown stuff happens. After weeks of searches, I give up and buy new copies.

Me: “Here are your books, Dad.”

Father: “Why did you buy new ones?”

Me: “Well, first, because you taught me manners. I lost something of yours and I’m replacing it. And second, frankly, I was getting tired of you nagging me because [Uncle] was being left out of a mind-blowing literary experience.”

Father: “Nonsense! You shouldn’t have. You must be out of your mind. And [Uncle] does not need them so badly anyway.”

Me: “Right, Dad. Can you please give these to [Uncle], and we can all move on?”

Sadly, we don’t. I just swap from being belittled for being untidy and a bad borrower — in spite of the fact that my father forced the books on me — to being belittled as touchy and careless with my money… until a few days ago, when my mother puts two banknotes in my hand.

Mother: “These should cover the expense for your books. I was tidying up your father’s wardrobe and found his copies under the bedsheets.”

I’m thankful that the nagging has ceased at last, since now they’re too embarrassed to mention the issue!

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As British As Eating Gelato On A Vespa

, , , , | Romantic | July 6, 2021

I live in Italy. I’ve always been a fan of British men’s clothing, especially the country, gentlemanly style, but as a young student, I cannot justify the expense. While on a vacation in Cambridge, my girlfriend spots a jacket on the stand of a secondhand clothes vendor. It’s just what I am after: single-breasted with notch lapels and four-button cuffs, in a warm green corduroy. It’s as British as a red phone booth, it fits my size, and the price is a bargain. Of course, we snatch it up.

Once we’re back home, my girlfriend is getting ready to take the jacket to the dry cleaner and starts laughing.

Me: “What’s so funny?”

She points at the label stitched within the inside pocket: “Made in Italy”.

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My Darling Little Rhinoceros

, , , , | Right | June 29, 2021

I’m busy repairing a smartphone, and since the heads of the franchise thought that having the workbench visible to the customers is a great idea, I’m in a position where customers can talk to me and see what I’m doing.

A customer with her two kids enters, trying to sell her smartphone, and my business partner begins talking to her. Meanwhile, the kids begin looking at the refurbished smartphones. While the older (ten or eleven) shows restraint, the younger (four or five) begins screaming and touching the phones with all the care of a rhino.

Obviously, the mother doesn’t say anything. Thankfully, my partner does.

Partner: “Please stop touching the phones.”

And he continues talking to the mother. The store phone rings and I get up to answer. While I’m talking on the phone, the younger child starts screaming, so I move to the back so I can understand what the customer on the phone says.

I come back to the front and see my partner escorting the customer and the kids to the door.

Partner: *Politely but firmly* “Please get out.”

Me: “What happened?”

Partner: “Once you went to the back, the younger kid tried to throw himself on your workbench with the opened phone, screws, etc., and I caught him by pure luck. In all of this, the kids’ mother didn’t scold the kid even once!”

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