One of the most thrilling perks of being a PhD student stems from the suspense of visiting the campus restroom. No, really! I’m serious. When you share a space with undergraduate students, you never quite know what you’re going to see when you walk in the door, making for an always-captivating mini-sightseeing adventure, right in the middle of the day.
For instance, creative undergrad use of the facilities often leads to fantastic signs I’d think would be appropriate for my two-year-old son, and NOT for the over-18 crowd. Consider this gem I found in the Engineering building:
Yes, that’s right. Engineering students were apparently having so much trouble with the physics of their own fluids that a visual aid was deemed necessary.
Additional fantastic signage can be found in this newer, more upscale campus restroom:
Again, I could see this as a valid reminder for my two-year-olds, who will climb on absolutely anything they can reach. Had there been a strategically-placed stepstool in this facility, this sign could definitely have applied to them (that is, if they could read). However, I’m not so sure what grown man in his right mind would decide to sit on this sink. Not only would said psychopath drench his ass and get in the way of fellow patrons…but…I mean…why? Sure, there’s some pretty nice marble on this particular sink (I’m not taking that for granite–HAHAHAHAHA), but didn’t hanging out in the boys’ room stop being cool in middle school? Apparently not.
Rarely do I experience more drama in my household than when the Twins are deciding which movie to watch. As the Movie Selection Committee consists of two highly opinionated two-year-olds, the deliberation process has been known to inspire tears, tiny fistfights, and even the occasional airborne DVD case. In fact, these pre-movie events often rival the actual movies in both intensity and entertainment value. However, once white smoke emanates from our chimney, alerting the throngs of onlookers and international press gathered on our street that a film has finally been chosen, my daughter invariably reminds me:
“I don’t like the Mean Lady.”
This is because in just about every movie we’re currently watching, she has found a female character that terrifies her, and the moment any of these Mean Ladies are onscreen, she’ll literally run away from the TV to find me (yes, even when I’m on the toilet) and insist that I “Skip this part. I don’t like the Mean Lady.”
This is my cue to cuss inaudibly as I frantically search for the stupid f*cking remote (I just had it thirty seconds ago!) and–once I finally extract it from inside the Lego house my son is building–skip the movie to the next scene, which is blissfully devoid of any and all Mean Ladies.
I’m not sure where this phobia comes from. Perhaps she feels that all women ought to be kind and nurturing (like her Mommy) and seeing the flip side of that flips her out. Of course, it doesn’t really help that kids’ movies tend to lay the evil on pretty thick with villains so that it’s unquestionably clear who’s the “bad guy.” At any rate, what follows is a breakdown of the Ladies my daughter finds to be particularly Mean.
1. Mother Gothel – Tangled
Mother Gothel is the original Mean Lady, the one who started it all with my little girl, and I have to say, I don’t really blame her on this one. The second she saw the beginning part where Gothel’s fugly screaming monster face abducted Rapunzel, I knew there was no turning back. While I’m confident Gothel wouldn’t be a real-life threat (her main weapon is long-term psychological damage) and that I could send her away crying like a little girl by mentioning she looked like she was looking a little gray today, I can understand how the devilish facial expressions and sudden changes in volume could freak out my two-year-old.
Repeated viewing of any movie allows you to catch things you didn’t notice the first time, and so when one has seen a film enough times to recite it ad nauseum, one is bound to look beyond the suspension of disbelief most viewers enjoy, dissect its every nuance, and discover gaping holes in the story’s logic. If there’s any movie that fits this description for me, it’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
Not only do the Twins request it at least three times a week, it was also a VHS my two younger sisters would loop at least three times a day when we were growing up. (Fun fact: When the Twins are at my mom’s house, they watch that very same VHS. It still plays perfectly.) It has recently occurred to me that–by my half-assed calculations–this incessant exposure to The Little Mermaid places it comfortably at the top of my all-time most-viewed movies list. While I’d prefer my chart-topper to be something badass like The Empire Strikes Back or Back to the Future, I guess it could be worse, right? (I’m looking at you, The Chronicles of Riddick.) Anyway, apparently watching The Little Mermaid has become my life’s work, so I feel it is my duty as an expert in this field to share the following observations I’ve made over the years, to further enhance your own Mermaid-viewing experience:
1. Woke up at 3am both mornings to rescue the Twins from drowning in a sea of their own mucus, caused by a recent onslaught of sickness.
2. Wiped tiny noses every thirty seconds, literally working through six boxes of tissues.
3. Wiped tiny squirts of child cold medicine defiantly spat at me off my face every four to six hours.
4. Listened to my washing machine suddenly start playing dubstep mid-cycle, culminating in a crash and sudsy water pooling below it.
5. Helped my wife scour the Pseudonymous Family’s vast collection of receipts and instruction booklets for the washing machine’s warranty information, continually chasing down toddlers who took off running with unsearched piles, wiping their noses on them.
6. Worked during too-short naptimes and into the wee hours of the night on a National Science Foundation research grant proposal that is due Wednesday and nowhere near done.
7. Got my son to repeat “My Precious” several times after he woke up from a nap with a raspy, swollen-sinus voice that made him sound exactly like Gollum. Which made it all worth it.
1. We still haven’t seen the second Hobbit movie. Peter Jackson has worked way too hard for it to go unseen.
2. I would not finish the Ph. D. I’ve been toiling over for years and would have no choice but to throw a hissy fit in the afterlife, surely banning me from all future John Lennon concerts–all because the Mayans couldn’t find anymore paper.
3. It would prevent us from seeing whether Science will fulfill the prophecies of hoverboards, self-drying jackets, and flying cars in 2015, as set forth by Back to the Future 2.
4. It would really be a bummer to not watch the Twins grow up–to never see Little League games and dance recitals, Christmas pageants and graduations, to never walk my daughter down the aisle, to never spoil my grandchildren rotten. Seriously, Mayans, what’s your frickin’ problem?
5. Despite the divisiveness the election caused, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and the atrocity in Connecticut, there is still just too much good in the world for us to throw in the towel just yet.
Don’t stop believin’, society!