Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Single Man Survival Guide Part II

As a single, 33 year old guy, I have a veritable black belt in domesticity.  I may not know the proper way to do things, but I know enough to get by in almost any situation.  This knowledge didn't come easy...  I picked it up through hard-won experience in the school of household hard knocks.  Over the years I've left a truly awe-inspiring swath of ruined clothing, jacked up-appliances, and atrocious messes in my path.

Since I try my best to seem like a nice guy, I'd like to spare as many people as possible from the pitfalls of modern domestic science.  Thus I present to you:

Pete's Household Hints

1. The locking handle on the dishwasher is good.  The locking handle on the stove is bad.  

Although they look similar, the handles on these two appliances are vastly different.  The handle on the dishwasher locks it shut, so that you can clean up the aftermath of having run out of paper plates and/or aluminum foil.  The handle on the oven is a whole different story.  Rather than locking it shut for safety, this handle puts your oven into something known as "self clean" mode.  Basically, this means that your oven heats up to a temperature sufficient to atomize any food residue stuck to the inside of it.  While this sounds awesome in theory, I've learned first-hand that self-clean mode will transform a frozen pizza into something suitable for use as a manhole cover.  Beware!  

2.  Soap is both a blessing and a curse: Use with caution!

I'll be the first to admit that soap can be very useful...  But damn it, why can't it just be soap?  Instead, we're forced to endure countless specific soap permutations, such as laundry soap, dish soap, and hand soap.  God help you if you mix two of them up.  Know what's especially asinine?  There are two totally different kinds of dish soap.  There's soap for washing your dishes in the sink, and soap for washing your dishes in the dishwasher...  And, although lord knows logic would seem to dictate otherwise, they are most certainly not interchangeable.  Although, admittedly, it IS a lot of fun to watch the kitchen slowly fill up with soap suds.

3.  Dog poop does not make good fertilizer.

I learned this one at a very young age.  My brother and I had gotten our mom rosebushes for Mother's Day, and wanted them to grow and blossom quickly.  Being grade-schoolers, we lacked the forethought to pick up real fertilizer at the store.  Casting about for a viable substitute, our young eyes settled upon our large, fenced-in dog kennel, which was littered with the fruitful bounty of our two enormous golden retrievers.  We carefully filled a couple of pails with droppings, and dumped them around the roots of our newly-planted rosebushes.  As it turns out, dog poop isn't fertilizer...  In fact, it's more like ANTI-fertilizer.  Within a matter of weeks, those poor rosebushes looked like they'd been microwaved.  No roses bloomed.  Not a single leaf survived.  They looked like bundles of dried, thorny sticks protruding from mom's flowerbed.  Naturally, we tried to revive them with constant watering...  Let's just say that the resulting aroma wasn't exactly "rosy."

4.  Although it kills germs, bleach is NOT a good antiseptic.

Once upon a time, back when I was drinking studying my way through Arizona State University, I fell down the staircase in front of the Hayden Library.  My fellow ASU alumni likely just winced in sympathy.  But for the rest of you, allow me explain:  The main entrance to the Hayden Library is underground.  To get to it, one must walk down a grand, wide concrete staircase that is probably a good 50 feet long.  This is where I took a tumble.  Although I miraculously survived, I tore one of my hands up pretty good.  It was bleeding profusely, there was a small flap of skin hanging loose...  It was superficial, but nasty-looking.  Although I'm normally not the worrisome type, something in the back of my head told me that I had best put something on my wound to prevent infection.  Now I had no iodine nor Neosporin in my dorm room, and all of the alcohol had long since been drunk.  Casting about for anything with germ-killing properties, my eyes came to rest on the bottle of bleach perched upon my counter.  Without really thinking about it, I took the bottle to the sink and doused my torn-up hand.  Never, ever do this.  It hurt like HELL, and small chunks of skin actually dried up and died over the course of the next few days.  To my credit, however, I didn't get an infection!

5.  The "hot" water setting on your washing machine is just for show.

Washing machine manufacturers are real pricks.  How else do you explain the presence of a "hot water" setting on every washing machine ever made?  You see, the first time I ever used a washing machine (I was maybe 19.  Don't judge me: Mom wouldn't let me NEAR the thing at home.  I still can't figure out why...) I wanted to do a good job.  Being a guy, I figured that I'd set everything for maximum cleaning effect.  If one little cup-thingy of soap is good, then three are obviously better, right?  Packing the washing machine full of clothes until the door barely shuts is a sign of efficiency, right?  Best of all, everyone knows that hot water kills germs, right?  Wrong, wrong, and wrong.  I kept my temper in check as I waded through the soapy mess on the floor to empty the washing machine.  I bit my tongue as I gradually broke apart the brick-like lump of tangled clothes that seemed to have bonded to the washing machine.  It was only later that I realized the true horror of what I'd done:  Hot water, it turns out, makes clothing shrink.  Roughly half of the clothes that I had washed (That's a LOT of clothes...  You should've seen me pack that washer.) had shrunk down to something spandex-like.  It was horrible.  The only thing worse than washing clothes is shopping for them, and suddenly I needed a ton of new stuff.  So mark my words: Hot water is the devil when it comes to your washing machine. 

Hopefully these little hints will help you to live the high life without having to experience the anguish that I went through.  Please join me next time for more suggestions on how to achieve housekeeping Nirvana.

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