mem’s red step-stool

Today I saw a commercial for a new cat litter in which they articulate the kinds of odors their product eliminates: urine AND ... well, you know the other. She said the actual biologically correct word! Thanks cat litter company! I know I could never have deduced to which odors you might be alluding if you had been a bit more cryptic. No need for nice, pleasant euphemisms anymore! I am no delicate flower who requires smelling salts regularly, but come on. The cat litter lady said it like 3 or 4 times! It's like the commercial with the British lady running around asking people to talk about their bums and toting adult baby wipes to be used along with toilet paper as if that is some kind of dream team. Or those animated bears with the animated pieces of toilet paper lingering on their animated bear butts. Seriously. Enough. I think there are just some problems that can be solved quietly and discreetly without the aid of commercials spelling it out so succinctly.

When I was 20 I worked at a CVS and all these old folks would come in for their creams and ointments and powders and salts and what-not. Until then I had been blissfully unaware of the necessity of the human body for such products. I could have lived happily ever after never knowing these ailments could erupt. These elders would detail the afflictions to me and I would have to listen in polite horror. I did not want or need to know that [insert horrific ailment] could happen to that [insert what up until that very moment had been an entirely innocent] body part. There I was with my perfectly functioning 20 year old body not needing to know any of this.

Bottom line: please stop saying biologically correct words while I am trying to eat my lunch and watch The Chew. Thanks. Also no weird and disturbing bum issues. Also don't say “bum.” Even if you are British. That fact makes it no more charming and no less gross. Please stop.

These cats are British and they ARE cute and charming. Additionally, they are hilarious!

Wow, where am I going with this rant? Nowhere, actually. I just needed to rant. Thank you.

(And sorry. Unless you enjoy a good rant, in which case you’re welcome.)

What I really wanted to talk about today is my Mem’s red step-stool.


Here it is!

It has always been a fixture in this house. It was painted red when I was a kid. I remember the paint being chipped, bare metal peeking out from beneath. When I found it here, it had been painted a dark gray that looked a little worse for the wear. I went out to Lowe’s and got me a nice can of Sunrise Red spray paint and cleaned this baby right up! I keep it right against the wall in the kitchen. It really reminds me of the days when I was a kid and Mem and Pep lived here. Mem kept it in the pantry closet, but I like it right out in the kitchen. It is so bright and cheerful and of course useful.


OOOH, look! The little step pivots out and then pivots in!
And not just the one time—you can do it over and over again!

A couple of years ago, my Mem had to stop using the step-stool. She had become a little too unsteady on her feet and the additional height did not help the situation one bit. She has always been a super-cleaner—I would bet few people hold cleaning as near and dear as she does. Every spring and every fall she cleaned all her windows and she changed all her curtains. And the red step-stool was a necessity—at her tallest, Mem was 4’ 11”. Just yesterday she told me she has shrunk to 4’ 8.5” and my 12 year old niece is now as tall as she is.

When she had to slow down her cleaning, it got me thinking about aging and how it might feel and it inspired a story I call “Red Step-Stool.” It is a fictionalized account of Mem and some of her life. Some of the details are stories she has shared with me and some is made-up and I am really imagining what it might feel like to be in your 80s when your body takes a turn away from what it could always do.

I split the story up into parts and will serialize it over the next few weeks. I broke it into nice little bite-sized peiece. I hope you enjoy it. Expect the first installment on Friday. And enjoy!