Secret single behaviour

It is entirely possible that I’ve lived alone for too long, indulging my whims, dancing to the beat of my own drum, setting my own agenda, etc etc.

Of course my mother disagrees. She thinks you can never live alone for long enough. But that might be because when I rang to tell her the theme of my blog, she answered the phone saying, “you’ll never believe what your bloody father has done this time.”

Mmmmmm.

Living alone isn’t the sad sorry scenario is can sometimes be painted by Smug Marrieds (thanks Bridget ) or worried grandparents. Mine have long given up saying, “can’t you find yourself a nice chappie?”

And while it is delightful to snuggle up in bed at night with Lover Bloke, giggling and carrying on like you’re the only two people on the planet, there are certain unalienable benefits to snuggling up alone.
The remote would be one of them.

You can watch what you want, when you want, how you want. I can replay that corny scene from Notting Hill where Hugh Grant busts in on Julia’s press conference as many times as I want. I can even fall asleep when it’s on, if I want.

Football, cricket and horse racing never sour my screen. The toilet bowl is skiddy-free, the milk is fat-free and my fridge is beer-free.

But even better, I can do those things that you can only when you’re totally and gloriously alone.

I can finish work, lay on the floor in the middle of my lounge room and stare at the ceiling while Frank Sinatra tells me “That’s Life”. I can go all day without a bra, without showering, without eating a single vegetable.

I can eat random, unrelated food off the same plate, like brie with crackers, anchovy stuffed olives, Oreos, smoked trout, cold pizza and cupcakes. And finish the whole bottle of wine. Whilst wearing heels.

Sometimes I just sit and jiggle the fat parts of my body and try and poke them to see if they’ll deflate, or better, disappear. That never happens.

None of these things sound super weird when I write them down, and really, they’re not. Secret single behaviors aren’t necessarily freakish – that’s not the reason they’re secret. Adding another person into the mix changes what it is you inherently love about these solo-delights.

They’re not only things you do by yourself, you do them FOR yourself; comforting little rituals or indulgences, just idiosyncratic enough to raise an eyebrow, but innocuous enough that they can’t really be explained.

Whether you are single or in a relationship, we all need our alone time. Having the freedom to watch whatever you want on TV or clean your house in the nude can be totally liberating.

I’ve been known to take my dinner, my crossword, my book, my cuppa and my laptop to bed. If you thought having a Lover Bloke in your bed was fun, try my combination. There were six in the bed and the little one said…

SSB lets me talk on the phone till the wee hours of the morning. Depending on how many alcoholic beverages I have enjoyed over this chatting period, I can view myself as a nuclear physicist dispensing political funding opinion or a brain-dead blonde pondering the merit of Paris Hilton winning a spell-a-thon.

It also lets me put on my Greatest Hits of the 80s CD, push my lounge against the wall and dance barefoot with only a hairbrush-come-microphone for company. I can order a Margarita pizza at midnight, I can eat baked beans at 6pm, or I can write until dawn.

I can pumice my heels with the bathroom door open. I can walk around for half an hour with a face mask. I read the weekend papers until Monday. I can have thrush, a hangover, weeds in the garden or an unpaid rates bill and it affects no one but me.

I have risen at 4am to join the treadmill for an hour. I have worked until 11pm without need to apologise. I have smoked a sneaky cigarette in the kitchen while waiting for a white sauce to thicken. I have stayed in my pajamas until 5pm. I have rearranged the living room furniture in the middle of the night.

Now and then I do an audit of my life. Probably a little more now than then. When I look at it in black and white I become somewhat thoughtful. Sure it’s an indulgent way to live, but I question the morality, ethics or political correctness that ensues. Are idle hands the devil’s tools? And are those hands currently holding a wine glass and a hairbrush?

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Dr Google

“I’ve got a tumour,” said one of my best friends, bursting through my front door, clearly dispensing with the preamble.

“A what?” I tried to feign interest, never diverting my eyes from the television screen.

“A tumour, in my head, my whole head. I’ve probably head cancer.”

“You’ve got what?” I asked, this time hitting the pause button on my dvd and going to the fridge for wine. I felt it was the least I could do.

“I’ve got this thing in my mouth,” he said, getting out two wine glasses, “and it’s been there for ages but I’ve been ignoring it.

“My head feels funny, I feel a bit weird, it’s my throat, there’s a growth…” the words came tumbling out as fast as the wine tumbled out of the bottle.

So I asked the logical question.

“Did you go to the doctor today and is this what she told you?”

“No,” he replied, “I’m going to the doctor tonight. But I researched all my symptoms on the internet and it looks like mouth cancer.”

The World Wide Web has made doctors of us all. We can diagnose every symptom. All we need is the training on how to make people wait around for ages in their underwear, and then we’d all be medical practitioners.

I’m no better. A few years ago, I noticed that every time I got out of bed, or stood up too quickly, I would get a dizzy spell. Or if someone called my name, and I spun my head around to see who it was. Once it happened when I was wearing heels, but to be fair, they were ridiculous high.

It was around the time that this story was being emailed to all and sundry about some poor fellow who, after seeking extensive medical treatment for his constant headaches, discovered he had a brain full of maggots. They said it had something to do with eating too much sushi. Urban legend? I don’t know.

But the story stuck.

And I like sushi. And I had a weird head. So naturally, I concluded that I, too, had been afflicted with the same condition.

Without even consulting a GP, I rang my nearest hospital and booked an MRI. It was just as I was getting in my car to go to the appointment, that a very dear friend gently suggested that perhaps a little visit to her friendly GP (“gorgeous woman, you’ll just love her”) might be the better course of action.

It was. I had an inner ear infection. Not a filthy disgusting maggot in sight.

Another time, the tip of my left index finger went numb. Stone cold motherless numb. It freaked me out a bit. I was a smoker at the time, and it scared me more because I had to hold my fag in the other hand. For anyone who has ever smoked, you’ll know what I mean.

So I did the only logical thing and hopped on the internet and typed in my symptoms.

According to Dr Google, I was having a stroke.

Oh great, I thought, and I’m not even 40!

Google helpfully directed me to a site where I could conduct some basic checks to see whether or not the stroke diagnosis was correct.

First I had to read aloud some sentence that scrolled across my screen. Then I had to throw both my arms above my head and expel air. There were a couple of other checks, which I can’t remember but they involved something to do with eyesight and reflex.

What I can remember is being able to do all these exercises easily. Ah, I thought, with the wisdom you get from watching Grey’s Anatomy and ER, it’s still a stroke, it’s just not fully happening yet. But it will.

Did I call a doctor or a friend? Or even an ambulance? No, I just sat miserably in my home and waited for the inevitable.

Which of course, never came. My finger went numb because I had squashed some nerves by carrying too many plastic grocery bags loaded with food. And after about a week, it went back to normal.

And my friend? No, he doesn’t have cancer. Or a tumour. Or anything serious. A couple of wisdom teeth needed extracting. He’s fine.

Which, of course, was another great reason to crack open some wine!

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Up close and personal

Once I worked with a lady who hired a personal trainer. Buff young man who ran marathons to relieve boredom. Personally I thought he was putting the “fun” back in dysfunctional. For a few weeks, maybe a month, they got along swimmingly. Exercise pun totally intended. He’d rock up at her place at 6am every Tuesday and Thursday and off they’d go to box, or jog or cartwheel.

Until one morning she didn’t want to do it. Late night, too cold, too tired. He knocks on her door, she opens it in her pjs, hands him the $50 fee, closes the door and goes back to bed.

Exercise. The poor person’s plastic surgery.

I’ve tried a few personal trainers in my time. My gym had a 20 year old energiser bunny called Charlie who taught me my fear and loathing of squats.

Then, similar to my workmate above, I had a fellow present at my place two mornings a week. It went well, until I realised that he was costing me almost as much as my mortgage and I decided I’d rather have another house than a 25 inch waist.

Sometimes, I try and engage them in a conversation in order to delay the inevitable pain that will come when they make me do 100 lunges.

I whimper at length about my fitness goals. How I really don’t want to be fit and strong, I just want to look good naked. How my boobs hurt when I jump, and how I think triathlons are a mental sport because you’d need to be insane to do them.

Of course, what I never realised, is that the only time (and money) I’m wasting is mine. This fellow probably couldn’t give a toss if I wanted to discuss the merits of holding a Mardi Gras in Brisbane. Or whether amphibians need to wait an hour after eating before they get out of the water.

Sure honey, he’d think, chat away, I’ll just pop down on the grass beside you and join in. Ooops, there’s your hour up. $80 thanks. Chat again Thursday.

Eventually I made my iPod my personal trainer. She and I go for long rambling walks along the Brisbane River. She only plays the 80s songs I like. When I want to put some grunt into my walk, maybe even a faux jog, she makes sure “Eye of the Tiger” is next in the song queue. When I am stretching she spins “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.

And I only had to pay her once.

But seriously, I would exercise more. Only I’d spill my wine.

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My “Pretty Woman” moment

If they could get it so wrong with Julia Roberts, who even as a hooker looked amazing, then it’s not so far-fetched that they could get it wrong with me.

I know it’s a movie, I know it’s make-believe, I know it’s all fantasy but the principle remains. Remember how Julia – all legs and torso exposed – struts into some high-end Rodeo Drive clobber shop and is just as quickly evicted as not being suitable calibre? Or some such nonsense.

Yet she returns replete in Prada et al, in a fab hat and total glam. And tells the snooty assistants to get stuffed. Brilliant moment (and one that she revisited at the tail end of the movie “Valentine’s Day”, possibly the best part of that labouring movie).

Here’s what happened with me.

Living in New Farm, on Brisbane’s lazy meandering river, means that my favoured mode of public transport is usually the ferry. The other day, I had reason to catch the ferry twice.

First time was just before lunch. I had an appointment in the city and figured that while I was there, I’d reacquaint myself with my gym. We’re like long-lost friends. “Hi sweetie, gosh it’s been ages, how’ve you been?”

So I chucked clothes for my meeting in my backpack and trundled to the ferry in my daggy gym gear. I know gym gear has a tendency to be daggy but mine is a little daggier than most.

I run in the old shorts I painted my house in. My sports bra is so stretched that I usually need to wear several of them to get adequate support. I hide my bed-hair up in a baseball cap. Etc.

The guy who puts out that little bridge for you to walk onto the ferry was a bit cute. And being the lovely person I am, I called him a  cheery “good morning” and smiled a bit as I boarded.

No response. Almost dismissive. Now this happens a bit to me anyway, most times when I’m going about my business. I think it is because I work from home and alternate between slothing in my pajamas and donning the ugliest clothes known to mankind to slip down to get coffee and the papers.

So I wasn’t that surprised at the ferry man’s reaction. As the song so aptly says, “don’t blame the ferry man”.

Fast forward about four hours. I’ve been to the gym, had my meeting in the city, done a bit of work at home and now I’m heading back to the city for a pre-dinner drink.

So I stepped out of character and glammed up a bit. Straightened my hair, popped on some heels. Even my treasured Chanel lip gloss had an outing.

And as these things go, old mate on the ferry was still working his shift. Again, I repeated my cheery greeting, using the p.m. version, not the earlier a.m.

Not only did he simper and smile and coo a bit, he sat with me on the trip. Couldn’t shake him.

Bugger being Wonder Woman or Lara Croft or even Medium’s Allison DuBois. My superpowers are GHD and Chanel.

Sha-zammmm!

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20 things you would never know if it weren’t for the movies

1. If you’re being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of the year.

2. All beds have special L-shaped top sheets that reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only waist level on the man lying beside her.

3. All grocery shopping bags contain either a bunch of celery or a stick of French bread.

4. Anyone can land a plane.

5. The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.

6. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

7. Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and toast every morning, even though her family never has time to eat them.

8. A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of a football field.

9. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

10. If a killer is lurking in your home, the quickest way to find him is to take a bath.

11. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

12. Dogs will always know who’s bad and will naturally bark at them.

13. You can always find a chainsaw whenever you’re likely to need one.

14. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.

15. If you’re staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises wearing their most revealing underwear.

16. Make-up can be safely worn to bed without smudging.

17. A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

18. Guns are like disposable razors – if you run out of bullets, just throw it away. You can always buy a new one.

19. If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone will know all the steps.

20. When paying a taxi, never look at your wallet as you take out a note. Just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

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Colonoscopy journal (reprinted from Dave Barry)

It’s just gorgeous what you find when you’re trawling around the net late at night, sipping a wine, having a laugh. Or if there’s no one on Facebook to chat to. Have a read of this, it is really genuinely funny. Thanks Dave Barry.

Dave Barry’s colonoscopy journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!’

I left Andy’s office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ‘MoviPrep,’ which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven.

I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America ‘s enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation.

In accordance with my instructions, I didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening , I took the MoviPrep.  You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water.  (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug.  This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ‘a loose, watery bowel movement may result’.

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative.  I don’t want to be too graphic, here, but:  have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch?  This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle.  There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt.  You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently.  You eliminate everything.  And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic.  I was very nervous.  Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage.  I was thinking, ‘What if I spurt on Andy?’  How do you apologize to a friend for something like that?  Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said.  Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts; the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand.  Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down.  Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.

At first I was ticked off that I hadn’t thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode.  You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist  I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.  I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA.  I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the least appropriate.

‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

‘Ha ha,’ I said.  And then it was time; the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade.  If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea!  Really!  I slept through it!  One moment, ABBA was yelling, ‘Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,’ and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt.  I felt excellent.  I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.  I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

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More than a wee matter

When I worked in an office, probably the thing I hated the most, more than filthy kitchens or women who sprayed too much perfume around. was going to the loo. For #2.

For blokes this is no big deal. They don’t care if they are at home, at work, on the golf course, in the boat, making love or visiting another bloke. If you gotta go, well, you just go. “Back in a sec fellas.”

I once went out with a guy who had actually removed the door of his ensuite because it gave him more room. Yep – took it right off its hinges and shunted it into the garage. I’d come sailing into his bedroom in the morning with mugs of tea, take one look at him on his perch and sail back out.

For women, we think it’s a huge deal. A bathroom break is sacrosanct. Private. Borderline embarrassing. It’s fine at home. Still almost fine when visiting mum. And something that is never undertaken under the public scrutiny of the office, or in an environment as obscene as a shopping mall. And never ever ever at a new boyfriend’s place.

One Saturday afternoon a few years ago, I cheerio-ed a girlfriend who was going for her first sleepover with her new man. The following morning, I sent her a text asking how it was going, aka did she need rescuing.

Her reply was succinct. She was having a great time, they were getting on fabulously, but right now she’d pay $1000 for a bathroom break. He wanted to take her to Sunday brunch but her need for bathroom privacy far outweighed the delight of a public outing with him. She was home before 10am.

Same happened to me. Except I was at Byron Bay. Had driven down there to a new-ish sweetheart at his fab-by-the-water holiday retreat.

As the new morning dawned, I realised I’d have to physically remove myself from Byron to gain some physical relief.

“Hey darl,” I cooed, “I’ve got lots to do back in Brissy, so I might leave now.”

“No worries,” was his calm reply, “I’ve got a few things to do as well; I’ll follow you back.” Wherein I spent 90 minutes squirming around in the driver’s seat while I squirmed my car around the Pacific Highway.

If I’d pulled over at a servo, I would face a dual dilemma – the horror of using roadside conveniences meeting the horror of him knowing what I was doing. After all, it takes a smidge longer than the standard 30 second pee. Not counting the time it takes to sterilise the seat … of course.

Anyway, back at work, I inched my way bravely towards the door bearing the sign “Ladies”. As luck would have it, I barrelled straight into a colleague, standing innocently at the mirror, putting on make up.

Now if I was a bloke, I’d do a “g’day mate” number, wave the sports section of the paper at him, swing into a cubicle and proceed. Blokes don’t care about noise.

But I’m a woman. There was no way I could do that. Already I could see myself in the starring role of “Most Embarrassing Bathroom Break Moments”, scripted by John Cleese, narrated by Russell Coight, directed by Baz Luhrmann and produced by Sorbent.

Sometimes I’ve borne aural witness to my colleagues’ bathroom breaks. I’ve shuddered with equal mortification and empathy. I’ve even tried to hide my feet in case other occupants are the type to take a sneaky peak under the cubicle partition to see who is in the witness box.

Ever walked into a lavatory at work and seem the previous occupant’s calling card still in the bowl? I usually shriek and rush into another cubicle. What’s worse than having to subject myself to being near such vileness is the fear that the subsequent user may think it was me who did it. Aarrggh!

It didn’t take me long to sort it out. A bit of sniffing around heralded a ladies loo buried three floors below ground level. It seemed that no one else in the building knows of its existence, apart from me. It became my escape pod. So when things got desperate, I’d tell everyone in the office I was going to a meeting and hit the “B3” button on the lift.

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Famous last words

“I’ve seen this done on TV.”

“This doesn’t taste quite right.”

“Which wire was I supposed to cut?”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s dead by now.”

“No, those windows are ok to lean on.”

”I wonder where the mother bear is?”

”You look just like Ivan Milat!”

”Let it down slowly.”

”I can make this light before it changes.”

”I can do that with my eyes closed.”

”Don’t be so superstitious.”

”Now watch this.”

“Hey what’s that buzzing noise?”

”Don’t worry it’s not that deep.”

”Nice doggy.”

“Nah, I don’t think we need to go to the hospital.”

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The Senility Prayer

God grant me the senilityto forget the people I never liked,
the good fortune to run into the people I do,
and the eyesight to tell the difference.

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I’m going to the loo, loo loo

When you have to visit a public toilet, you usually find a line of women, so you smile politely and take your place. Once it’s your turn, you check for feet under the cubicle doors. Every cubicle is occupied.
Finally, a door opens and you dash in, nearly knocking down the woman leaving the cubicle. You get in to find the door won’t latch. It doesn’t matter, the wait has been so long you are about to wet your pants.
The dispenser for the modern ‘seat covers’ (invented by someone’s Mum, no doubt) is handy, but empty. You would hang your bag on the door hook, if there was one, so you carefully, but quickly drape it around your neck, (Mum would turn over in her grave if you put it on the floor) with your pants and assume “The Stance”.
In this position, your aging, toneless, thigh muscles begin to shake. You’d love to sit down, but having not taken time to wipe the seat or to lay toilet paper on it, you hold “The Stance”.
To take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser.
In your mind, you can hear your mother’s voice saying, “Dear, if you had tried to clean the seat, you would have known there was no toilet paper.” Your thighs shake more.
You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday – the one that’s still in your bag (the bag around your neck, that now you have to hold up trying not to strangle yourself at the same time). That would have to do, so you crumple it in the puffiest way possible. It’s still smaller than your thumbnail.
Someone pushes your door open because the latch doesn’t work.
The door hits your bag, which is hanging around your neck in front of your chest and you and your bag topple backward against the tank of the toilet.
“Occupied!” you scream, as you reach for the door, dropping your precious, tiny, crumpled tissue in a puddle on the floor, while losing your footing altogether and sliding down directly onto the toilet seat. It is wet of course. You bolt up, knowing all too well that it’s too late.
Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and life form on the uncovered seat because you never laid down toilet paper – not that there was any, even if you had taken time to try.
You know that your mother would be utterly appalled if she knew, because you’re certain her bare bottom never touched a public toilet seat because, frankly, dear, ‘You just don’t know what kind of diseases you could get.
By this time, the automatic sensor on the back of the toilet is so confused that it flushes, propelling a stream of water like a fire hose against the inside of the bowl and spraying a fine mist of water that covers your bum and runs down your legs and into your shoes.
The flush somehow sucks everything down with such force and you grab onto the empty toilet paper dispenser for fear of being dragged in too.
At this point, you give up. You’re soaked by the spewing water and the wet toilet seat. You’re exhausted. You try to wipe with a sweet wrapper you found in your pocket and then slink out inconspicuously to the sinks.
You can’t figure out how to operate the taps with the automatic sensors, so you wipe your hands with spit and a dry paper towel and walk past the line of women still waiting.
You are no longer able to smile politely to them. A kind soul at the very end of the line points out a piece of toilet paper trailing from your shoe. (Where was that when you needed it?)
You yank the paper from your shoe, plonk it in the woman’s hand and tell her warmly, “Here, you just might need this”.
As you exit, you spot your hubby, who has long since entered, used and left the men’s toilet. Annoyed, he asks, “What took you so long. And why is your bag hanging around your neck?”
This is dedicated to women everywhere who deal with any public toilets. It finally explains to the men what really does take us so long. It also answers that other commonly asked question about why women go to the toilets in pairs. It’s so the other girl can hold the door, hang onto your bag and hand you Kleenex under the door.

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