What would Don Draper do? Scratch that, what would a NINJA do?

My parents recently discovered that the best way to watch television shows is to wait until they’re about six seasons in and then buy the first five seasons and watch them in a row without commercials.

Which also means that my parents are now shut-ins who haven’t left their house in six months except to forage for more complete seasons of Dexter, Mad Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Gossip Girl (don’t ask. Trust me).

At first, I found this amusing. Then sad. Then amusing again. Then sadder. And then horrifying.

Because my parents tried to lure me into their shut-in, complete-seasons-of-television-watching lifestyle by offering me the dvds when they were done with them. And as they dangled free shows in front of me like a carrot in front of a horse, it dawned on me that this is how cults begin.

But I fell for it anyway, because free stuff is free stuff. And until my book takes off, I’m poor. In fact, because I buy so many pairs of shoes, I’m SO poor that I can’t even afford the whole word “poor.” I’m just po’. Which means that my shopping addiction has even cost me my ability to speak proper English. I’m three more pairs of shoes away from just being p’.

So primarily to keep myself from thinking about shopping, I started watching Dexter.

Three days later, I had seen every episode. Some of them twice.

Four days later, I was caught up to the current season of 30 Rock. (I’d never seen an episode before that. Too many shows are on Thursday nights to dvr them all, so I stuck with the ones I was already watching. Plus I used to have a life.  Now I have Liz Lemon.  It’s a fair trade.)

And I’m now working my way through Mad Men.

However, I encountered a major problem.

My parents are ALSO working their way through Mad Men. And I’m caught up to where they are. And they don’t want to let me watch the third season before they do. Which is COMPLETELY unfair. I mean, yes, they paid for the dvds, but they’re not chronic insomniacs like I am and therefore waste precious hours that they could spend watching Mad Men sleeping. Which I think makes them fair-weather fans and therefore they should forfeit their right to the third season until I’ve watched it. And besides, what am I supposed to do when I can’t sleep if I can’t find out who Don Draper is going to be sleeping with in the next episode?

So I asked myself, what would Don Draper do in this situation?

Which wasn’t all that helpful. He’d steal someone’s identity, then lie for twenty years, and then cheat on his wife with someone new once a week, all while drinking an old fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and coming up with the perfect campaign for a new Sterling Cooper client.

That wasn’t going to get me any dvds.

So I asked myself, what would Betty Draper do?

That wasn’t very helpful either. I drank a lot of wine, chain smoked six packs of cigarettes, and tried to look the other way.  Then I snapped and broke a chair.

No dvds in that strategy.

What would Peggy do? Well she’d be really frumpy, then get really fat, then turn out to be pregnant and not tell anyone for two years.

No thanks.

Joan would work her feminine wiles, but I’m 100 percent sure that that wouldn’t work on my PARENTS. And it’d be beyond icky if it did.

So even Joan failed me.

Then I wised up and realized that acting like a character from Mad Men wasn’t going to get me any closer to season three.

So I asked myself, what would a ninja do?


I spent the next three days learning martial arts on demand (seriously, they have EVERYTHING on demand these days. I took a break from my training montage and learned how to make crème brulee, change a tire, and churn Amish-style butter, all courtesy of on demand programming). Then I dressed in all black, painted my face black, dyed Rosie’s fur black, and snuck over to my parents’ house in the dead of night.

Once there, I climbed up onto the roof and lowered myself down the chimney Mission Impossible style to steal the dvds.

Maybe I should have just let myself in the front door. I mean, I do have a key. Or maybe I shouldn’t have brought the Mission Impossible theme music with me. Or it could have been because I brought Rosie and apparently schnauzers don’t like being dyed black then lowered down a chimney in the middle of the night, even when they’re highly trained ninja schnauzers.

But whatever it was that I screwed up, somehow my parents figured out that they were being robbed, which resulted in my dad chasing me through the house in his underwear with a baseball bat until he realized that it was me. Not a pretty sight.

Of course, when he realized that it was me coming to steal the third season of Mad Men, he woke my mom up, she grabbed an axe, and then they BOTH chased me while brandishing weapons.

And as I learned the hard way, apparently learning to be a ninja from on demand television does NOT actually prepare you for combat with deadly weapon-wielding parents who are defending a complete season of Mad Men.

My parents won that round.

But I didn’t give up. Oh no. I’m no quitter.

They thought it was the snow last week that knocked out their electricity. I’m not saying that I went over there with a pair of wire cutters. I’m just not saying that I DIDN’T go over there with a pair of wire cutters.

No, not really.  I had nothing to do with the epic failure that is Pepco.  They managed that all on their own.

What really happened is my dad went out of town and my mom wasn’t going to watch the third season without him, so I convinced her to let me borrow it on the condition that I return it by the time my dad comes home.

Which means if I don’t get through another two discs by tomorrow night, my parents are going to launch an attack that’s going to make the situation in Egypt right now look mild. We’re talking cutting off the whole country’s internet, looting, extreme political unrest, the works. 

Hell, they’ll probably make the biblical problems in Egypt look mild, complete with rivers turning to blood, locusts, frogs, cattle disease, slaying of the first born, and (horror of all horrors) the destruction of my entire shoe collection.

In other words, I’m potentially endangering the free world by taking a break from watching Mad Men to write this. See how dedicated I am to you? Feel special.

And I get to go through this all again when season four comes out on dvd.  Which leaves me a few months to perfect my ninja skills.  This time, I WILL defeat my parents in the epic battle.  But until then, it’s back to Mad Men

Shh.  It’s starting.

"We’ll search out every place a sick, twisted, solitary misfit might run to." "I’ll start with Radio Shack."

My shower radio died, so I decided to wire my new ipod (which came with my new Macbook… I freaking LOVE Apple!!!) through my computer speakers, because I can hear that easily from my bathroom. But the cable was too short, so I had to go to Radio Shack.

I hate Radio Shack.

Where to find true evil!

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I tried to avoid it completely by going to Office Depot (which I love because no one ever asks to help you there. The very quality that everyone else would consider horrible customer service makes it my dream store because they let me shop in peace), but no luck on sound equipment cables. So it was either go deal with the ravenous hordes of people at Best Buy, or run into Radio Shack as quickly as possible.

To quote Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I chose poorly.

Going to Radio Shack is for me what going to the dentist is for most people: annoying, painful, and the little bag of crap that you walk out with doesn’t feel like nearly enough for how much time and money you just spent.

Within nanoseconds of walking in the door, I’m surrounded by a dozen employees. Granted, this might be because there are never ANY other customers in there until I go to pay, at which point six old men appear out of nowhere and each spend an hour asking random nonsensical questions about whatever they’re purchasing. But I’m pretty sure that the employees of Radio Shack are told in their training sessions that female intelligence is inversely proportional to breast size. Therefore, they see someone like me and assume that I have the mental capacity of a pigeon that got dropped on its head as a baby.

In reality, I’m pretty tech savvy. I pretend that I’m not sometimes, to get other people to fix things, but that’s sheer and utter laziness on my part. Whenever any of the English teachers at my school have a problem with their tv/dvd player/Promethean board etc, they call me to fix it. The last time my computer got a virus (before I went Mac obviously), I fixed it myself. (Mostly because my daddy seems to have caught on that I’m smarter than I look and refused to do it for me… at least he DOES know that there’s no way in hell I could/would ever change a tire for myself.) So I DO know my way around electronics stores without help.

My problem, however, is that when I’m surrounded by overly-solicitous sales people, instead of telling them to back off and leave me alone, I figure it’ll be quicker and easier to tell them what I’m looking for.

At Radio Shack, this is ALWAYS a mistake.

Well, okay, to be fair, it MIGHT not be a mistake if a man, or flat-chested woman were to take this approach.

When I do it, it’s met with laughter and seventeen sales people telling me that no, I don’t REALLY want an 1/8th inch to 1/8th inch jack headphone cable extender. I REALLY want the hundred-foot and hundred dollar multimedia cable runner. Never mind that that doesn’t actually do what I need the seven-dollar cable to do, it’s what I ACTUALLY need. And who taught me such big words like “headphone cable extender?”

I try to stay polite and tell them that no, I really DO just need the headphone extender, and I ask them to point me in the right direction. Yet another mistake.

“Don’t worry,” one of them always says to me. “I’ll go get it for you.”

“That’s okay,” I argue, knowing what’s coming. But I’m ushered to the checkout counter, where one of the greasy-haired guys behind the counter unfailingly asks me if I’ve got a boyfriend. My standard answer to this is yes.  In fact, the cable/battery/etc that I’m buying today is for him. Does he actually exist? No. But it shuts them up briefly.

Then after about twenty VERY awkward minutes, the guy who went to find my cable returns, not with the cable I wanted, but with the hundred-dollar one that I said I did NOT want.

I send him back, and he comes back after another half hour or so (during which I calculate exactly what the cable will cost with tax and count out the exact change so that I can leave as quickly as possible when he eventually makes it back with the right cable), with another wrong cable. Seriously? I mean, I know that Radio Shack isn’t exactly hiring rocket scientists, but REALLY? I’m a freaking English teacher and I know more about electronics than these guys do! If everyone working there didn’t have that creepy, serial-killer-in-training vibe going on, I’d say they should hire me next summer because I’d be their best employee ever.

Eventually the guy comes back to tell me that they don’t carry the cable that I’m looking for, at which point I finally lose patience, storm back to the cable section, and return approximately four seconds later with the one that I told them I needed from the moment I walked in the door.

“Oh,” he says. “We carry THOSE. But that’s not what you need.”

At which point I throw the money that I counted out earlier at them and make a mad dash for the door.

Needless to say, my ipod is now playing just fine through my computer speakers, and the next time I need something from Radio Shack, I’m ordering it online or sending a boy to get it for me.

No offense to any of you serial-killers-in-training who work there and might be reading this. Please don’t chop me up and kill me Dexter style.

I just don’t like your store.