Baby, It's Cold Outside -or- The Sweater That Didn't

I braved some favorite clothing stores recently looking for what would amount to a decent, festive Christmas sweater.

Something without brown snowflakes, or gender-non-specific penguin families, or herds of puff-paint moose galloping with merry holiday abandon. And that's when I noticed...

What's with all the short-sleeved sweaters?

Now, I may be wrong, but it seems to me a sweater without anything to keep your arms warm is not, in fact, a sweater. Sweat doesn't enter into it, see? Frostbite, yes. Goosebumps, yes. Freezing to death on a sooty stoop selling matches for two-pence in the snow, yes. Sweat-- highly unlikely.

To paraphrase the character Edmund Blackadder, "What you have there, Percy, if anything, is an -Er."

And I am well-aware that Fashion-- the people that brought us fake eyeglasses for people with perfect vision, and jeans that only begin in the posterior under-awning region-- isn't exactly the industry of practicality. But this... this just seemed like the whole sweater rack is having some low self-esteem identity crisis.

"Oh, I'm sorry," the sweater says, slouching a little more on the hanger. "I just don't feel comfortable tackling the duties of being a sweater all by myself. My generation of sweaters was taught the importance of teamwork. It's all group projects these days. Achieving total sweater success by myself would just be arrogant... above myself... showing off. So, um, I'm gonna just need you to pick up my long-sleeved yet more lightweight thermal undershirt friend over here to go with me. That'll be an extra $20, please, 'kay, thanks."

"But... but I don't want to layer," I tell it. "I just want one single-tasking sweater."

"Well," continues the short-sleeved creation, fringe purposefully preventing it from meeting my gaze, "I'm afraid it's either the two of us, lady, or you freeze your pinecones off this holiday season. I never go anywhere without my BFF. Or," suggests the sweater with a new, flirty tone of hope, "you could always add my friend over here..."

"Another friend?" I ask hesitantly.

"Meet... the poncho!"

"Hiiii," says the poncho giggling. On closer inspection, it appears that this poncho was designed to only go around the neck and shoulders. It is not a poncho. It is, in truth, some sort of micro-poncho, a pon or perhaps a cho, a wooly dinner napkin with a hole cut through for the neck. If it were in white, it could be the collar of a Carmelite nun-- who also, coincidentally, does a lot of layering. In fleecy purple, however, it looks like Aunt Dottie's arthritis kicked up in the middle of a thoughtful Christmas gift which will be pushed back to next year.

"I'm leaving," I tell the garments. "That sweater I saw with the brown snowflakes perched on the yellow snowbank wasn't really so bad..."

"But wait!" the sweater shrieks. "You can't go. You-- you haven't even met our vests yet!"

"Heeeey!" greet the vests, flashing their linings, their buttons winking in the light.

"Oh... get knit!" I say, the only holiday bell jingling here being the one on the door marked Thank You, Come Again.

Orange-Ray Junior, Where You At?

So over the past few weeks, I have come home from work anticipating my next installment in a brand new form of entertainment-- the answering machine message saga featuring the family of one "Orange-Ray Junior."

Now, part of this is my fault, and I take responsibility for it; on my landline answering machine, I had left the default computerized male voice that instructed callers to leave a message at the beep without recording my own message. This was for two reasons-- one, every time my power goes out it wipes out any customized message and I have to re-record it. And two, I didn't really want strangers to know who lived at the address. Safety reasons, dontchaknow.

But to the family of one "Orange-Ray Junior," the fact that they kept calling a number day after day, and Orange-Ray the Younger never connected with them, appears to have been no major red flag that something was amiss.

Initially, I couldn't tell what name it was these determined folks were even saying due to the uniqueness of the name and the family's hearty Southern drawl. But last night's episode, courtesy of "Nana-Pam," clarified the moniker of our remarkably social leading man.

The series began like this:

"Now, Orange-Ray Junior, Paw-paw said he'd go huntin' with ya, so you give him a call back." (Click.)

I suspect Orange-Ray the Second did not make that call.

Two days later:

"Orange-Ray Junior, you got that appointment you gotta git to, so you be there, you hear me? I think this is yer phone, ain't it?"

I'm not clear on how asking an answering machine could resolve that question when you never leave a call back number, but maybe the family has a nuanced insight into that which I don't.

About four days after this:

"Orange-Ray, you coming over the hill yet? Okay now, bye." (click)

At this point, I'm dying to know where in tarnation, with a Pittsburgh city area code, these people were calling from.

And presumably if they knew O-R, Jr. should be coming over the hill, they talked to him at some point between the answering machine messages I received. So did no one ask him over the Thanksgiving festivities about his number?

Apparently not. Because, last night, as I swept in from work, I saw another red light flashing on my answering machine. My hand reached for the button with excitement. Could it possibly be?

Yay! It was!:

"Orange-Ray Junior, this is Nana-Pam. This is your answering machine, ain't it? 'Kay, bye."

Once I got done laughing, I decided I would let Orange-Ray's family off the hook-- in a very literal way-- by leaving them a message. It is as follows:

"You have reached the answering machine of a person who is not, in fact, Orange-Ray Junior.  
"If you'd like to leave a message for me, that would be terrific!  
"If you're a member of Orange-Ray Junior's family, I'm sorry, I don't know where he is, but he doesn't live here. I think he gave you all the wrong number. Good luck!"

And I imagine this should clear up any confusion on their end. But I admit, I'm going to miss the messages.

I am going to miss the visions I had of the Orange-Ray Junior clan, heading up over hills, going hunting with Paw-paw, hanging out with Nana-Pam, and using a compact, sectionable fruit as a name that carries on from one generation to the next.

Thank you for the joy, Orange-Ray. You have made the past weeks merrier ones.


If you can believe, I came home last night to another flashing light on the answering machine. And yes, there was another message for Orange-Ray. THAT'S RIGHT-- even after changing my outgoing message to address the problem.

The latest installment went as follows:

"Orange-Ray? Did Pappy let you in? 'Kay, bye."

So there's a Nana-Pam, Paw-Paw AND Pappy. The cast of characters grows!

Also, in listening to this message, I think I MAY be wrong about the Orange-Ray name. It might be some very drawn out, multi-syllabic version of "Andre." (Owendre?) But I can't make my vowel do the stretching exercises to make it work realistically.

So the mystery continues.

Wonderful "What's That?" Wednesday Winners!

So today, my friends, we have the answer to last week's "What's That? Wednesday" game, and I have some giveaway winners to announce! Woo-hoo!

The correct answer to the mystery object is...

A deodorant protective cap!

So the first person to guess that correctly was Ms. Hartz! Let's give a big round of applause to Ms. Hartz for her awesome eyes on this one!

And for the question of what the item's alternate use in my house is, the answer is:

A cat toy! This was not, of course, by my design, but through popular demand at my house. Apparently, that little tab at the top makes it perfect for tiny furred beings to bite onto it and bring it to me, over and over and over again, for endless sessions of fetch... HARRY. (Yes, I'm talking about you.)

So that means the first person to guess the item's alternate use-- a cat toy-- is Reforming Geek! Way to go, Geek Gal! You do know your cat toys!

So each of you two nifty people will win a copy of my humorous space fantasy novel, There Goes the Galaxy. I will need you to just email me at jennthorson {at} earthlink {dot} net with your addresses and I will mail your books out to you right away.

Oh, and if anyone is interested in ordering their own copies of the book, in either paperback, for Kindle, or Nook you can do that here. They also make fun gifts for folks who like a little humor with their sci-fi. (Both Nook and Kindle versions are currently priced at $0.99, so it's easy on the wallet, too!) :




Thanks for playing along, everybody!