Wow. That was extremely kind of you, thank you so much. Patrick was... there are no words to adequately describe how excited Patrick was to get so many answers to his question about mashed potatoes. He originally wanted to record the data on a 100ft long roll of paper that I have been saving for an emergency (an emergency like: Steve and I have two broken legs each and the television catches on fire) but I objected. Scroll writing is so very 1st century. I introduced him to a little wonder I like to call "Excel" and then wanted to strangle myself because he now keeps saying, "Mommy I'm going to need your computer again. I have to work on my research." It's the same catch-22 I discovered when I got him Lego Racers - he was perfectly happy to leave me alone for hours while he played with it but he was using my computer so what was I going to do with the free time? Laundry? What a drag.
Anyway, thank you very very much for responding and Patrick is working diligently to produce a report that he will share with you, provided the Idaho Potato Council does not snap it up first. The background, in case you were wondering, is that Patrick and I were arguing about whether anyone would willingly try mashed potatoes unless their parents were abusive sadists (I'm paraphrasing.) I told him that he was crazy and that everybody in the entire universe loves mashed potatoes and when he (rightly) questioned this assertion I amended it to say that I bet over 80% of the kids in his class like them and from that we could conclude that 80% of the universe does as well. He narrowed his eyes and said it was not enough people (the term he was groping for was "sample size" but whatever. he's six) and when I suggested he ask everyone in the classroom next to his as well he said it still wasn't enough. One thing led to another and now he has enough data on the mashed potato eating habits of the English-speaking (although one person responded in Portuguese - which Patrick and I agreed was the coolest thing ever) mommy blog reading populace to last him until middle school.
I was going to tell you about Steve's latest cholesterol results but first I want to tell you an incredibly long background story. Just because I think it is funny.
Caroline and Edward were born and Steve decided there was no way I was capable of providing for all three children in the event of his demise. I suggested that I could marry again. For money. As a trophy wife. But Steve just looked at me with pity, patted my tangled hair and told me to try putting on my shirt again because none of the buttons were in the right holes. Then he called the insurance guy. We played phone tag with him for a while (probably because someone was always spitting up on me when he was available) but eventually the three of us wound up on a conference call last February. I explained that all I really needed if Steve was gored by a bull or fell off a roof or was electrocuted by eels while skinny dipping in the Orinoco was enough money to pay the bills while I finished the last several classes I need towards my MBA. Say, a year and a half of living expenses - and that takes into account that they might no longer accept some of my completed coursework (I probably have to take ledger entry again; I'll need new quills and ink.) Then we'd be fine since I would be working as soon as I was done.
The insurance guy listened patiently to my local-girl-bounces-back-and-makes-good plan and then said, "But what if you are so prostrated by grief that you are unable to function? What if those last few MBA classes are all in finance" [they are] "and you fail them? What you really need is enough life insurance to keep you at your current standard of living for the rest of your life without ever having to work again. Plus college for the kids. And a race car - you deserve it."
I like our insurance guy. He's hypnotic. The more I insisted I really did not need a race car or a beach house or new shoes for the children the more he explained that I really did. You know, it was almost like he had some ulterior motive in selling us more insurance than we need.... no. That's just cynical. Eventually it became obvious that neither he nor Steve was listening to me so I told them to figure it out themselves. They were going to do so anyway but my walking away from the call made it seem like I was in control of the situation. It's a little trick I invented during my business school days right after I wrote that paper on how subprime mortgages would inevitably lead to contracted liquidity in the global credit markets - wink wink.
Anyway, the upshot of the call was that Steve agreed to apply for a ginormous amount of life insurance. I naively thought that they would just bump up the amount of his current policy and charge a higher premium and we'd be done. I was wrong. Apparently there is a threshold for life insurance over which the company that is betting you will live forever begins to wonder if you might know something they don't know. Something dire. So rather than have the applicant see a nurse to collect a urine sample and ask if you skydive; they request a much more rigorous screening.
After several reams of paperwork were sent to Steve, ignored, misplaced, located, ignored again and finally completed by me and signed by him only because I was standing on his back and refused to move until he did so; they were returned to the insurance company. They then requested that a complete medical exam be done by one of their physicians in our home. OK, fine, we said and selected a random date in July.
If I was filming this as an art project this is the point when I would suddenly cut to a scene shot in the small office of a midwestern granite importer and you would say, "What the hell just happened? Why are we looking at an import office and what's with the insurance exam? God I hate art projects." Fortunately I am narrating this so I can explain that this might seem like a major digression but it will all come together in the end. Trust me.
As you may recall, Steve's hobby this summer was working on a breakfast bar addition to the kitchen. It went pretty well but he did hit a few snags. One of the them being that he wanted to continue the same countertops we have in the rest of the kitchen but the stone fabricator we used no longer had any of that granite left. And the granite was an unusual color that had been given a completely made-up name by the fabricator (tropical tabashi - it literally does not exist anywhere) so we could not find another slab just by calling around. We thought about other surfaces (you guys had some excellent suggestions) and were torn between wood and glass when Steve thought to call the place that imported the stone (importers and fabricators are two different things - who knew) and see if they could track any down. They found one slab (hooray) but said there was a crack in it that rendered only half of it usable (hmmm). Steve determined that the uncracked portion was large enough for our purposes and reserved it. He said he needed a few more weeks to finish the carpentry so he asked them to hold it and scheduled delivery for a random date in July.
See how that works, two different threads moving inexorably toward the same point in the loom?
The insurance doctor arrived reeking of marijuana. Seriously. REEKING. He sat at our kitchen table and Steve and I tried not to make eye contact with each other for fear we might break into Scarlet Begonia and disgrace ourselves. I had not realized (not being on the phone at the time) that Steve had decided to bump up the life insurance policy on me as well. The insurance guy pointed out that a
charges more when there are three children in the home and Steve realized that he might as well get a replacement cost on me. So I was surprised to be jabbed with a jabbing stick and asked to pee in a cup. However, even with the increase in my policy I barely registered on the company radar so after the doctor got the blood and urine and asked me if I felt like I was going to die any time soon he was done with me.
Then he pulled out a form the size of a phonebook and started with Steve. At one point I thought he was going to ask Steve for the names and addresses of every woman he'd ever slept with (HIV risk, you know) and Steve puffed up with a smirky-smirk like he was about to say, "Well, doc, how much time do you have..." so I blurted out, "He was a virgin when we married."
"That's a lie!" Steve roared.
Dr. Puffnstuff looked at us like we were both crazy. I guess the question was actually about speeding tickets.
After he took a pint of blood and a gallon of urine and wrote enough details about Steve to fill three (very very boring) biographies he whipped out his portable EKG machine and asked Steve to strip to the waist. Steve went to lie down on the couch and the good doctor started sticking wires to his chest.
At this moment someone knocked on the front door. I wanted to watch Steve's exam so I shouted "Come in!" and three strange men walked into the living room. They were the granite guys and they were there to install the granite. Great, I said. NOW? Steve asked. He looked kinda vulnerable, lying half-naked and hooked up to a machine while a glassy-eyed man stood over him. I can only imagine what the granite guys thought. I gestured them towards the kitchen where they looked at the space and then they said they would return with the stone from the truck.
Steve lay still. The doctor hummed tunelessly. I watched the machine squiggle lines.
Abruptly there was what Shakespeare described as a confused noise within (although I suppose it was without.) There was shouting and a crashing noise and then total silence. Todd raced in, looked at Steve on the couch and raced out again. The largest of the three granite guys walked in next, hesitated, and then said, "The granite just shattered on the walkway. But don't worry! We're sweeping it up!" He left. Steve turned purple.
Jackie Paper, MD said, "Wow."
He packed up his machine and floated out, picking his way carefully around the chaos on the walkway.
The rest of July passed and then August without our hearing anything whatsoever from the insurance company. Steve seemed to think this was normal and finally got irritated when I asked for the billionth time if he would call the insurance guy and see what was going on. He accused me of trying to nag him into an early grave and I was like, what? Before the new policy is in place? And give up my polo ponies? Are you crazy?
When we finally did hear from our insurance guy it was with the news that there wasn't actually any official news yet. The company was willing to offer Steve a policy but it would be at roughly twice what he was originally quoted. So, like, two space shuttles, but it was not in writing yet. Steve said my god, why, what's wrong with me and the insurance guy said it wasn't totally clear but from what he had gotten back it looked like Steve's cholesterol was well over 250.
You remember this part?
So Steve freaked and I freaked and we started eating cardboard at every meal and telling each other stories about times we had eaten bacon. Steve requested that the results from the medical exam be sent to us and when they assured him they would rush the results back to him in ten to twelve weeks, he scheduled an annual exam with his primary care physician. That was last week and we have just received Steve's bloodwork. His cholesterol is... 193. A few points lower than last year, roughly a percentage point within the range it has been for the past five.
Steve called the insurance guy and said what the fuck, man? The insurance guy said hmmm, well, either the blood test in July was inaccurate or... hey, is there any chance your EKG was weird for some reason?
So in conclusion: Steve is considered an unattractive insurance prospect because he is at increased risk for heart accelerations when home remodeling projects go awry due to the unforeseen breakage of unique pieces of stone. The end.
PS The insurance guy resubmitted the application based upon Steve's latest blood test results. I'm hoping they send Dr. Jones again.
PPS The reason the granite broke is because they tried to give us the cracked side. They realized their mistake when it exploded into five billion pieces and cut the remaining piece for us. It looks quite nice.
PPS Steve celebrated his new cholesterol levels by making himself a cheddar and Canadian bacon omelette and a milkshake. I can only hope this new policy comes through quickly. I can't wait for my car now that Formula One has that night race in Singapore.
PPPS I have NO IDEA why there is an enormous antidrug campaign in my sidebar. I thought it would be fun to see if anyone wanted to buy space and I set up this thing and Julie had to help me because I am too dumb to live and I thought I would approve something but... anyway. I'm baffled but I don't know how to take it down and Julie is apparently busy living her own life right this second. For the record, I could not care less if you talk to your kids about drugs or not.