We Cater to Cowards

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A Sedation Dentistry Saga

(based on a true story)

This one is for everyone out there who suffers from severe panic attacks at the very thought of going to the dentist. I am the Queen Bee of this universal phobia and its unfortunate victims.

Lucky for us, in recent years, so-called sedation dentistry set out to change all that by reducing the number of visits required to get years of dental work done while the patient blissfully sleeps…or so we are told.

This begs the question – what happens when sedation dentistry fails? What then?

This was the question that inspired me to write this absurd sedation saga. Believe me, it’s way cheaper therapy than a $9,000 dental bill. But I digress…

***

Prudence Mc Cane had never met a dentist in her entire life that didn’t scare her to death.

The very thought of walking into any dentist’s office made her weak in the knees and violently nauseous. She had reluctantly warmed many a dentist’s examination chair over the past thirty-five years and the experience had never been even remotely pleasant. She’d never met a dentist she could trust.  She was certain that today would be no different.

Now, a severe toothache forced her to yet another dentist’s door.

As she cautiously approached the frosted glass door at the reception counter, a bright yellow sign with black lettering shaped into a smiley face caught her eye. It read, “Welcome to Dr. Choo’s Sedation Dentistry Office. Relax…We Cater to Cowards!” Her hand trembled as she slowly slid the door open.

A cheery woman of Asian decent eyed her kindly over bifocals, sizing up the petite brunette in an instant.

“Yes? How may I help you?”

“I – I’m Prudence Mc Cane and, um, I – I’m here to see Dr. Choo …”she bit her lower lip and felt her face flush. “They told me over the phone to come in an hour early…?”

“Very good. I’ll tell the doctor you’re here. I have the forms you filled out online last week ready to go. Dr. Choo will be with you shortly. Have you taken the sedation medication prescribed when you made your appointment?”

“Yes ma’am – I took the first pill right before we left home an hour and a half ago. My husband dropped me off and is out running errands. You can call his cell phone when its time to pick me up…here’s the number…” Prudence handed the woman a sticky note with the cell number scribbled on it.

The woman took the note, paper clipped it to Prudence’s file, pointed to the waiting room and handed her a small Solo cup filled with water. “Thank you, dear, just have a seat over there, take your second pill and we’ll call you shortly.”

Prudence sank deeply into the nearest chair, swallowed the pill, exhaled slowly and opened a magazine. She hadn’t slept a wink last night and now sheer exhaustion and the powerful sedation drug made it hard to even lift the magazine. Words swam in horizontal waves across the page. Sighing, she laid the magazine in her lap, leaned her head back and closed her eyes.

Instantly she flashed back in her mind to when she was four years old.  It was her very first visit to a dentist. That was long before the days of the “child friendly” dentist concept was the norm.

She remembered feeling calm in the waiting room while her mother read Highlights children’s magazine to her. She had no fear.

Soon, they were ushered into a small examining room. Then she was informed that her mother could not stay with her. Instantly, panic overcame her.

As the door slammed shut, she found herself staring up at the biggest, tallest, meanest looking man she had ever seen in her life. His dark eyebrows formed one long line across his forehead making him appear even more menacing.

She screamed at the top of her lungs as he picked her up and placed her on the chair. She fought him valiantly while chocking back tears and crying for her mother.

His voice was gruff and forceful, saying, “Sit still, little girl – I can’t work on you when you are acting like this” and “Open your mouth – now!” The painful memory ended abruptly at that point. Her brain had blocked it out decades ago.

“Prudence Mc Cane?” Prudence opened her eyes at the sound of the nurse’s voice. “Dr. Choo will see you now.”

She moved in slow motion, struggling to stand, shuffling toward the open door the dental assistant was gesturing for her to enter. Moments later, she found herself  in a  consultation room sitting across a small round wooden table from Dr. Choo.

“Good afternoon”, he said softly. I trust you understand what we are planning to do today?” Prudence nodded her head, which now felt like a large bowling ball balancing precariously on her delicate shoulders.

“As you know, our method is geared toward total patient comfort. We make every effort to ensure that our patients experience absolutely no pain or discomfort while we attempt to do in just one four hour visit what would normally be done in several visits. We’ll take care of that toothache and fix all the other problems too. Any questions?” He did his best impression of a re-assuring smile.

“Yes…are you sure these pills will work, because I am still feeling very anxious…?”

“Not to worry – the medication we use works extremely well – even for our patients who are professional athletes, averaging six feet, two hundred eighty pounds – knocks ’em out cold!”, Dr. Choo assured her. Have you taken your second pill?” Prudence nodded. For the first time that day, hope began to rise in her heart.

“Good. Let’s get you over to the examination chair and get you comfortable. You’ll go to sleep and when you wake up, all the work will be done and you won’t remember a thing!”

An assistant helped Prudence lay back on the chair and covered her entire body with a preheated blanket. How nice, Prudence thought. Next, a set of tiny headphones were carefully positioned, piping soothing music directly into her ears.

She closed her eyes as the doctor flipped on the bright overhead light and felt herself begin to relax. Maybe this is going to work after all, thought Prudence, as she drifted into blissful sleep.

In what seemed like mere minutes, Prudence found herself in an upright position, blanket tossed to the side, headphones off. She was sitting sideways on the chair, feet on the ground. “Are we all done?” she asked, still feeling groggy from the medication.

“Your husband is on his way now”, said the assistant, looking at her with an expression of extreme pity. Then the words Prudence dreaded came.

“I am so sorry Mrs. Mc Cane, but we can’t work on you – you kept trying to turn on your side, yanked instruments out of your mouth, and fought us like a tiger. We’ll refund your money. We suggest that you go to a specialized sedation dentist across town that uses I.V. medications. I’ll give you his business card.”

That figures, Prudence thought to herself. She had no memory of fighting the dental staff off, but she didn’t doubt they were telling the truth.

Embarrassed, Prudence thanked them for trying and fought back tears as she made her way down the elevator and out to the parking lot.

As she got in the car, she turned to her husband and said with a sigh, “You know you’re truly a hopeless case when you are rejected by a sedation dentist.” Then she paused and chuckled a bit.

“That whole, ‘We Cater to Cowards’ thing really had me fooled for a while there, you know? So I guess they’ve never met a Queen Bee coward like me before!” She burst into laughter.

They both had a good laugh on the way home – that was until the good drugs started to wear off. Now they were back to square one.

You had to either laugh or cry.

***

So here’s to all my fellow dental-phobia comrades out there…may you someday finally find nirvana while strapped to a dental chair!

Good luck with that, by the way. If you ever find a cure, please look me up.

If we could find a cure and bottle it, it would be like hitting the lottery for millions of poor souls like us who would rather be hit by a freight train running full steam ahead than to visit the dentist.

 

Pussy Potty Patrol

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OK, I’ll confess up front…I’m not usually a fan of so-called potty humor. So I’ll understand if some of you don’t think this one is funny. If that’s the case, you are excused.

But for those of you who like some good old fashioned potty humor, here it is…

My male cat, Prince Charles, affectionately known as “Baby Boy” is extremely obsessive-compulsive. But then, aren’t most cats?

Believe me, I’ve owned lots of cats in my day, each with their own set of unique idiosyncrasies, but this one takes the catnip.

Whenever I am home and feel the need for a “pit stop” in the little girl’s room, regardless of where he is in the house, or which state of conciseness he is in (awake, asleep or eating), Baby Boy’s internal feline radar is immediately alerted. He jumps up without fail and follows me into the bathroom like Robo-Cat.

Of course, I COULD shut the door, but now that our kids are grown and gone, my husband and I so rarely have company in the house anymore that I usually don’t bother.

Here’s a snapshot of the usual scenario:

Me, getting up from my chair or my bed and heading for either the guest bathroom or the master bathroom, depending on where I am in the house.

Once I’m perched on the “throne”, the countdown begins.

“One…two…three…three-and-a-half….”

Never fails. At the three-and-a-half mark, here he comes, just like clockwork.

I guess in his limited feline mind, I am just sitting on a funny looking white chair for…who knows or cares why?

Then it begins. It’s always the same routine.

He slowly sidles up to me, rubs his body against one of my shins and tilts his head up at me, straining to get my attention so I’ll reach down and pet him.

It’s as if he is saying, “Well…you’re not using that hand at the moment, so why not use your time in here constructively Lady and PET ME!” And he means it. No pussy footin’ around.

The first time he did this when he was a little kitten, I baulked. Excuse me, mister, but I don’t need your company in the bathroom, thank you very much! But of course when he looked at me with his sad little kitty eyes, I couldn’t refuse.

That was my first mistake.

You see, once you say “yes” to a feline friend for whatever reason,  they truly believe you will keep doing it into infinity. After all, they are creatures of habit, like us. And far be it from me to disappoint his sweet little kitty heart. Darn it all.

Of course now, after several years of this behavior it has become an ingrained habit and I always oblige him in my usual manner. I place my hand on top of his head and he keeps walking so that even if I keep my hand stationary, he gets petted all the way to the end of his tail.

Then, like an airplane circling before landing, he comes full circle, back around from the opposite side for another full body rub.  At the very least it staves off any possible boredom.

Repeat until mommy finishes her business.

Believe it or not, his particular brand of kitty radar knows when that moment arrives too.

The minute he hears the roll of toilet paper spin, he knows its time to leave. Out the door he trots, back to where he came from just as mysteriously as he came. On queue. Always. Remarkable.

In trying to analyze this strange feline behavior over the years, I’ve wondered if he’s neurotic for following me into the bathroom or if I’m the crazy one for letting him do it?

I’ve since rationalized that in the old days, in most upper class circles, there was almost always a paid bathroom attendant in fancy hotels or restaurants to hand patrons a clean, steaming hot towel or to ensure they had whatever incidental toiletries were needed when they visited an upper crust restroom.

I remember my shock as a poor teenager when I  inadvertently visited the bathroom at the Waldorf Hotel in Houston, Texas one day only to find an elderly woman sitting on a stool up against the wall, smiling at me. Her sole task was to make sure I and other the other female hotel patrons had a pleasant bathroom experience. It blew my mind.

So, in a sideways-logic-kind-of-way, maybe having a cat serve as the Pussy Potty Patrol isn’t so crazy after all. Besides, if we’re honest, don’t all of us  want a pleasant bathroom experience?

Recently Kitty Boy wandered off our property and was gone for several days in a row. I have to admit, I worried that he wasn’t going to come back. And that made me very sad. Why? Because he had not taught his sister to follow me into the bathroom in his stead!

How was I going to cope with having to go into that room all alone?

Fortunately, a few days later he came home and we have since happily resumed our weird habit of visiting the bathroom together. You know…just like most girlfriends do?

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he is my best “gay” kitty boy friend.

Don’t tell him I said that.

Kitty Bowling

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My husband and I used to live in a tin can. Not literally of course. It was a small 1970’s style single wide mobile home with a flat metal roof. We affectionately called it our “love shack”.

At that time, we were also the proud parents of roughly twenty – yes, I said TWENTY cats!

OK, I know what you are thinking, “how irresponsible of you!“

The truth is that we were poor in those days and kitty birth control was NOT in our budget. This resulted in several generations of our cat children going forth and multiplying month after month. We had big cats, small cats, fat cats, skinny cats, cats that climbed on…well, just about every surface you can imagine.

We loved, fed and named them all. We were one big, happy feline family.

One night as we were laying in bed talking over the days events, we were suddenly startled by a strange, loud noise that started directly over our bedroom and ran the length of the trailer roof, fading out the further away it got.

“THR-R-R-R-R-R-R-R-UMPMEOW-W-W-W-w-w-w-w-w-w! V-E-R-R-ROMPA….OOMPA….OOPMA….OOPMA….oompa…oompa…oompa…MEOW-W-W-W-w-w-w-w-w-w! Thud“!

At first we thought it was thunder and that some of the cats got caught by surprise by an oncoming storm. But when it happened again half-a-dozen more times, we – analyzers that we are – began to theorize on what strange scenario could be playing itself out on our roof.

“Could two of the males be fighting over the same female?”

“Or…perhaps one of the males lured one of the females up on the roof for a little game of find-the-pussy?”

“Maybe they were all bored and decided to throw a group pussy party on the roof tonight under the moonlight and things just got out of control because someone had a little too much catnip?”

“No! No…..I’ve got it!”, my husband shouted, laughing himself silly.

“WHAT?” Between gasps for air he said, “They – are – BOWLING…you know, kitty bowling!”

We both collapsed into giggles as we pictured two or three of the older, bigger cats, each with his or her own custom kitten rolled up in a ball in their paws as they ran on tip toes up to the line and “tossed” their kitty baby balls onto the roof.

Each kitten then found themselves in their own personal groove on the aluminum roof, a few inches apart but moving in the same direction, rolling, rolling, rolling, head-over tail, the entire length of the house, until they smashed headlong into some of the medium sized volunteer cat “pins” that were lined up along the edge of the opposite end of the roof until…THUD! They all fell to the ground in a mangled, tangled feline heap.

We pictured a ladder at our end of the house, with a line forming as the kittens curiously climbed up to see what the big cats were doing up there. Sort of like the lines at the average amusement or water park for humans. Little did they know what wild adventure was about to unfold in their young kitty lives.

Oh now, don’t be so judgmental. You weren’t there, OK? If you had been there, you would have laughed yourself silly too! It was just one of the funniest feline fantasies we had had in a long time.

And laughter is good for the soul, OK?

Especially right before bedtime.

Disclaimer: None of the cats depicted in this story were permanently harmed or hurt in any way.

So get over your feline phobia self.

Ask Your Doctor If…

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If I hear that insidious question coming from my television set one more time, I think I’ll go insane. Or at the very least throw something fragile at the T.V. and guffaw raucously as it shatters into a million pieces.

I just can’t take it any more.

I lost all respect for the medical profession when it morphed into today’s street pushers for the all mighty pharmaceutical cartels. Although the drugs pushed by the industry may be legal, their ultimate goal is akin to that of the local crack cocaine dealer on the corner: to profit from the indoctrination of the gullible masses, betting on the likelihood that the public will get hooked and keep coming back for more. I must admit; it’s a brilliant marketing scheme.

But I don’t trust any of them. I am not one to unwittingly fall prey to the pharmaceutical delusion of the day. It seems to me we have become a nation of self-medicating hypochondriacs.

Call me crazy, but no matter how many abbreviations follow a doctor’s name, he or she will never know what is ultimately best for my body better than I do. And I’ve got the battle scars to prove it.

I’ve debated doctors on subjects ranging from “why it’s ok that I didn’t come to see you during my first trimester”, and “no, I don’t believe I need a C-section today, but thanks anyway, doc” and, “I know my self diagnosis defies all previously accepted medical rationale. But I disagree with your diagnosis based on the latest research. I took the liberty of clipping an article from the New England Journal of Medicine for your review.”

They despise that one.

So how is it that after nearly a half century of such conversations I am now told that I should eagerly and with genuine enthusiasm approach my physician in search of his god-like decree on whether or not the latest medication is ‘right’ for me? This, when I can’t even get a doctor to sit for five minutes and listen (much less respond) to a list of health questions that occurred to me on the way to his office, hastily scribbled on the back of a wrinkled bank deposit slip while idling at a stoplight?

P-u-l-l-e-a-s-e.

Granted, I’m not one of those people who joined the One-Doctor-for-a-Lifetime Club. You know the type. Still seeing the same doctor who slapped them on the fanny forty years ago. No, I’ve moved around too much for that kind of a patient-doctor bond to form. Alas, the days of Dr. Kildare are long gone. Today, it’s all about the money.

I feel I am no longer treated as a patient; rather, I am treated as a human guinea pig.

So it irks me to my core to think that today’s pharmaceutical mega-demigods would have me believe that I should revere my doctor as if he is not only intimately acquainted with my personal medical history, but that he even cares about what is ‘right’ for me.

Oh, contraire, Pierre.

In my experience, a typical visit to the doctor goes something like
this:

Upon entering the room, the doctor – without taking his eyes off the
chart – asks, “So…what brings you in to see us today?”

Get real. It’s written on that chart you are ogling. How about having the common courtesy to look me in the eyes and greet me by name as if I am a human being?

“I think I’m suffering from seasonal allergies.”

You know, I’m allergic to summer.

He smiles as he reaches for his prescription pad. I see dollar signs in his eyes. He glances at his watch. Time is money. And my 3.5 minutes is almost up.

I often wonder how many backroom kickbacks he has accepted from the cartels. True, it’s a bitterly cynical viewpoint, but one I suspect is true.

Waves of nausea hit as I blow my nose and wait for the inevitable patronizing comment or glance. Too bad there’s no way to ‘try before you buy’ a doctor’s services. I decide on the spot that if he doesn’t look me in the eye at least once before I leave, I’ll vote with my feet and never look back. I swear, this is it. I’ve had it.

He scribbles on his note pad, tears it off and hands it to me.

“This should help.” No emotion. No compassion. Still no eye contact.

I glance at the note. Sure enough, it’s the miraculous allergy drug of the day. I must have heard the commercial a zillion times in the past month.

As if that weren’t enough of an assault on my sanity, it is assumed I am stupid enough to trade my mild seasonal allergy symptoms for a litany of side effects that are far worse than the symptoms I suffer from.

The list is endless. Heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, nausea, insomnia, runny nose, sore throat, dry mouth, skin rash, constipation, difficulty breathing and halitosis. Did you know according to its pharmaceutical ad, one drug even causes “excessive gambling”? I kid you not.

And the kicker? The exorbitant price I pay for this new drug will have me out looking for a second job while pharmaceutical executives retreat to a posh resort for a weekend of pampering.

Excuse me while I retch.

Perhaps now you can better understand my angst when I finally sit down after a day of hard work to reward myself by watching an episode of a favprote T.V. show. My couch becomes a war zone between scenes as I am assaulted by a constant barrage of blaring pharmaceutical commercials with fake smiling actors, all doing their bit to drive me over the edge by trying to sell me drugs I never knew I needed for symptoms I didn’t know I had (until now).

I’m telling you, it curls my eyebrows.

It’s also the main reason the mute button on the remote has become my best friend of late. I’m willing to bet the pharm I’ve got the fastest mute finger on the planet.

So I say, “thanks, but no thanks” to the medical charlatans of the airways. I’d rather take my chances with my runny nose and itchy, watery eyes if it’s all the same to you.

I think I’ll treat my symptoms the old fashioned way. A cotton kerchief, some vapor rub, a cup of hot chicken soup, a spoonful of honey, along with plenty of water and rest. These time-tested remedies are sure to cure almost any ailment. At least, that’s what my mother always said.

Now, if I can just get those other voices out of my head.

Of course, it would help if I’d turn off the boob tube now and again. Or, at last surrender to the burning urge to throw that china plate at the set and watch it shatter with glee the next time I hear the words…

“Ask your doctor if…”

Laughable Labels

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You probably read the labels on food products you consume, but have you ever stopped to read the tiny printed labels on other items you use every day in your home?

You might be surprised, entertained, or even spooked at what you’ll find!

Here are some examples of thought provoking labels found on common household products:

A box of cotton swabs:
“CAUTION! Do not insert in ear canal.”
(Hmmm…Isn’t this what we use them for?)

A bottle of sun block:
“Do not use near heat.”
(Better not bring sun block to the beach on a blazing hot summer day!)

A stick of roll-on deodorant:
“Do not use on broken skin.”
(Ladies – Better not roll on that deodorant after shaving under your arms if you nicked yourself!)

A tube of sensitive formula toothpaste:
“When using this product, do not use for more than four weeks unless recommended by a dentist or physician.”
a. (Since when do we need a doctor’s recommendation to use toothpaste?)
“Keep out of reach of children.”
b. (No, just let the kid’s sensitive little teeth rot out of their head.)
“If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
c. (Who knew that brushing one’s teeth could be hazardous to one’s health? What’s in this stuff anyway?)

A canister of bargain brand, sugar free powdered Pink Lemonade mix: “Warning: Manufactured in a facility that processes milk, eggs, almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, wheat and soybeans.”
(Drum roll please-and the Jeopardy question of the day? What do nuts, dairy products and eggs have in common with Pink Lemonade? I’ll take ‘Bargain Brand Factory Products’ for $700)

A box of plastic wrap:
“Do not use in cribs, beds, strollers or playpens.”
(Ok…so when was the last time YOU wrapped your kid’s bed in plastic wrap, just in case they wet the bed?)

A box of aluminum foil:
“Caution. To avoid possible heat damage, do not cover oven floor with aluminum foil.”
(Well I’ll be…and I thought aluminum foil was made to withstand heat! Yikes- Grandma’s nifty trick for making oven cleaning a snap could have melted the inside of the oven. Wonders never cease.)

A canister of powdered, non-dairy coffee creamer:
“This product should not be stored or used near a high heat source.”
(So, no more of this setting the powered coffee creamer next to the hot coffee pot business, unless you like playing Russian Roulette with explosives.)

A box of flea and tick collars for cats and kittens:
“HAZARDOUS TO HUMANS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS. Directions: Remove collar from package, unroll and stretch to activate insecticide generator.”
(Translation: Failure to stretch this product before use will result in a flea ridden feline.)

“FIRST AID: If on skin or in eyes, rinse skin immediately or hold eye open and rinse slowly for 15-20 minutes.”
(Ok, so let me get this straight: to do this, bend over backwards at kitchen sink; place head in sink so eye lines up with faucet head; hold eye open and rinse s-l-o-w-l-y for 15-20 minutes. Sounds worse than water boarding! Better yet, just cut the tainted hand off and poke yourself in the eye with the other hand. And don’t forget to say a prayer as you wrap that deadly collar around Fluffy’s sweet little neck.)

A package of napkins:
“CAUTION: ANY PAPER PRODUCT CAN BURN IF USED IMPROPERLY. Do not dry food, herbs or flowers on paper napkins in microwave or conventional oven.”
(Ok, can’t remember the last time I put a napkin in the conventional oven. But in the microwave? I’m lucky I haven’t burned the house down by now! I wonder if the same rule applies to paper towels?)

A package of paper towels:
“Since wet paper towels may occasionally transfer ink to some surfaces, use the un-printed side for best results or use white paper towels in the microwave.”
(Gosh! If this is true, I should have died from ink poisoning years ago!)

A bottle of apple-scented children’s bubble blowing solution:
“Not intended for human consumption.”
(Don’t even get me started on this one.)

The morale of the story? Stupid people who don’t bother to read labels + products with hidden hazards = lawsuit mania for manufacturer’s! Always read the fine print!

How to Open a Sealed CD

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Welcome to  Melody’s Musings!

In honor of this inaugural post, it seemed fitting to introduce you to my wacky world by kicking things off with my take on a universal quest to solve one of life’s ‘lil frustrations – How to Open a Sealed CD.   Did you receive a CD or DVD for Christmas? If so, perhaps you will relate.

1) Try to slide your fingernail under the edge of the plastic wrapper.

2) Cry because you broke a nail.

3) Wipe your eyes, put the CD case to your mouth and attempt to grab the edge of the plastic with your teeth and rip it open.

4) Scream and drop the CD because you bit your tongue hard in the process.

5) Once your tongue stops throbbing, bend over to pick up the CD case, loose your balance and do your best impression of a swan dive, landing on your head, on the floor.

6) Take an aspirin, put a cold compress on the growing lump on your head, turn in a slow circle and click your heels together three times. Glare at the CD case.

7) Search for your scissors. When you don’t find them, grab a small paring knife. Smile triumphantly. Point the knife down toward the hand holding the CD case and begin careful descent.

8) As you are about to make the first slice in the plastic wrapper, jump with a start as your three-year old rides into the kitchen on his toy car screaming at the top of his lungs, the dog in hot pursuit. The child runs into the back of your knees. The dog barks, startling you as you toss the CD case into the air and swing the knife wildly while you try to keep your knees from buckling. To keep the CD case from falling on your child’s head, lean forward, bring both hands together as if to catch it like a run-a-way ball and stab yourself squarely in the thumb.

9) Go into the bathroom. Run cold water on your thumb until the bleeding stops. Get a band-aid out of the medicine cabinet and wrap it around your thumb. Limp back into the kitchen, lick your wounds, and search for safer tools.

10) Put the CD case carefully on the counter. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Do a rain dance around the kitchen, being careful to avoid all sharp objects, small children and household pets. Inspect the CD case for any sign of progress. Sigh loudly in defeat and collapse in a nearby chair. Hand the CD case to your three-year old and tell him there is candy inside.

Keep smiling. Life could be worse!