30 June 2009

"We make it harder than it has to be" --The Eagles

This has been swirling around my head for a while. In the not at all funny but true category...

Years ago, I can remember hanging out with a couple friends. For blog purposes, let's call them Malbec and Sangiovese. I was friends with each of them and they were friends with each other. I can distinctly remember having this sort of conversation:

Malbec: So, you're friends with Sangiovese.

Me: Yeah.

Malbec: Yeah, me, too. But I don't want to get too close to her. I make it a policy not to allow people who have been abused to get too close to me. They can't really be trusted.

Me: Oh? Huh.

At the time, it gave me pause. Not enough to stop me from having a good, solid friendship with Sangiovese, but it did make me wonder if abused people were "different" in their capacity to form good relationships.

The truth is that Malbec and I had a falling out long before Sangiovese and I had a falling out.

Discussing this recently, Hubby, who knows both of them, hit the nail on the head when he said that what Malbec said was much more about Malbec and her issues, than it was about Sangiovese.

I wish abuse didn't happen. I realize it has lifelong impacts and I don't think anyone who hasn't been through it can fully understand the experience. That said, to rule out a whole group of people as close friends based on an experience they had (in which they were the victims!) seems crazy to me.

I'm not saying there aren't people to be avoided. There's lots of people in the world who demonstrate that they're messed up on a regular basis. Plenty of red flags out there that are waving so dramatically, you'd have to bury your head in the sand to miss them. These flags have nothing to do with my knowledge of any abuse they experienced. It's about what a person says... what a person does. And when I see those flags, I step away. Far away.

It takes me a while to get close to people. I try to get to know them and see if they can be trusted based on what I witness of their behavior. Do they do what they say? Are their stories consistent? Are they there when I need them? Do they seem compassionate?

Some of the nicest people I know have been through truly horrific things.

Looking back, I wish I had called Malbec on her comment. I wish I hadn't even registered a doubt in my head about Sangiovese, based on that comment.

Life is hard enough. Let's not make it harder.

28 June 2009

"Do you know the way to San Jose?" --Dionne Warwick

This week I stop by Large-Bookstore-Chain in Bowie with my coupon clutched in my hand, ready to buy a gift. But someone has beaten me to their one copy of said gift. So, I use the customer service desk's computer and the phone to locate and confirm another copy in Largo.

I am in the process of using the computer to map directions from the Bowie store address to the Largo store address, when a staffer walks up to me...

Helpful Initiative Man (Him): Do you need some help?

Me, gesturing to the computer: I've found that the Largo store has what I've been looking for, so I'm just trying to find out how to get there from here.

Him: I've been there... it's near the old Cap Center... Have you been there?

Me, hopeful: No...

Him: I've driven there, but I don't know the names of the streets.

Me, no longer hopeful: Mm.

Him, squinting: I can sort of see it... but I'm not sure I could tell you how to get there.


Him: I don't drive it often enough.

Me, wondering how long this conversation is going to go on: Ah.

Him: It's not that far from here, if you know how to get there...

Me, nodding with that sad half-smile, but not saying out loud "How the $%#@ are you helping?"

It is at this point that he thinks to employ his headset. Within 30 seconds he has found someone on staff who can, and does, give me directions to the Largo store.

Here's the thing: As ridiculous as this conversation is up to the point where he realizes he needs to draw on someone else' knowledge, I can't get mad at him. Partially, because his heart is in the right place. But mostly because this is pretty much how I give directions, too. Yeah, I suck.

It isn't that I don't want to be helpful. I do want to be helpful. It's just that I'm not good with all the details. So, though I may have been someplace a lot, if pressed, I'm likely to say very similar things...

Well... I think it's close to that good Chinese restaurant... is it Golden Lotus? Wait, Golden Dragon? Um, ...they have those giant eggrolls. Ever been there? Really good. Um... If you know that place, it's around the corner. *squinting* ...I ...think...

Yeah, FAIL. But this is why we have Google Maps, right?

I can remember a friend who thrived on details, giving me directions like this:

Friend: So, you're on Route 7 South, right?

Me, writing "7S": Okay...

Friend: You'll pass the Maaco and the ShopRite...

Me, not writing anything: Okay...

Friend: You'll see a Wendy's on the left...

Me, not writing anything: Okay...

Friend: You'll go through three lights: Butler, Clairmont, and Pinehurst.

Me, writing "-> 3 lights": Okay...

Friend: You go past where the old movie theater used to be.

Me: Where it USED TO BE?

Friend: Yeah. They tore it down. But you probably remember where it was.

Me, laughing: You're kidding, right?

Friend: No.

Me, laughing harder: I'm supposed to know where something used to be?

At least I'm not that bad.

25 June 2009

"Paranoia, the destroyer" --The Kinks

[The bumper sticker reads "I read your e-mail." Like I'm not paranoid enough.]

I receive a voice-mail message telling me that my business travel card has likely been compromised and to call back at an 888 number.

I think: Real or social engineering expedition? Have I mentioned that I'm not a very trusting person?

I call the number and as the voicemail tree is playing, I think: It wouldn't be hard to set that up to sound real.

I play the following game of security chicken:

Her: This is [so and so] of [credit card company name]. Can I have your name, please?

Me: [Provides name.]

Her: Can I have your card number?

Me: No. I don't tend to give out that information. Your organization called me to tell me there was a problem with my [name of my organization] travel card. So, you should have that.

Her: *pause* Well, I could look it up.

Me: Do that.

[Time passes. She asks me what I perceive to be a few peculiar (harmless?) questions in order to make sure she's zeroing in on the right account. Why she wanted to know if I'd ever killed a man just to watch him die, I don't know. My Saturday night is my business.]

Her: Okay, I believe I have the right account. Is your middle initial A?

Me: Yes.

Her: I'll need to ask you some security questions. What are the last four digits of your social security number?

Me: [provides last four]

Her: Okay, now, what is your phone number on the account?

Me: [provides number]

Her: Okay, what are the first four digits of your social security number?

Me: Give me the card number first.

Her: I'm authorized to only give you the last two digits. [She does.] I need to ask you more security questions. What are the first four digits of your social security number?

Me: I just gave you the last four digits.

Her: Yes. I need the first four digits now.

Me: You want me to give you eight of the nine digits of my social security number?

Her: Yes.

Me: No.

Her: I'm just doing my job. That's what your organization identified as a security question.

Me: I don't care.

Her: Okay, instead I can ask for your billing address.

Me: [I give it to her.]

Her: Okay, yes, the account has been flagged. Did you make a charge of $2.98 on June 3 to [name of company].com?

Me: No.

Her: Okay, we're going to have to put a stop on your card and issue another one.

Me: Fine.

Yeah, I'm that much of a pain. I question just about everything when it comes to handing out information over the phone. These days, where it's a piece of cake to access all sorts of information, it would be very easy to get some information and then call up claiming to be a credit card company and asking for more information. This is probably how I wound up with the $2.98 charge to begin with.


Maybe I shouldn't have divulged my middle initial.

23 June 2009

"Baby, stop all your pretendin'" --Kelly Clarkson

The lovely and talented Little Ms Blogger (have you seen the icing on this cupcake?) has tagged me for a meme. (Thanks, Chica!) As I have spent the day learning more about sexy, sexy pivot tables than anyone in the free world has a right to know, this is a fine time to do a meme.

The concept: "Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie."

What is your biggest contribution to the world?

I invented the intersection of sloth and lust. Come Sunday afternoon, you'll thank me.

What do your coworkers have that you wish was yours?

They have the ability to make mountains out of molehills. Sadly, my molehills are just hills that moles live in. It's hard to build a molehill getaway.

What did you eat last night?

Well, if you count chewing my way through the restraints, ... oh... um... let's see...

I found out I didn't get chosen for the new reality show "So You Think You Can Spot Weld" so I ate my heart out.

What really lights your fire?

Men who don't know when I'm interested in them and they ignore me. That's hot.

What is the last thing that really pissed you off?

Peace, love and understanding. As Elvis Costello notes, there's nothing funny about that.

Name something you hoard and keep from others:

My brilliance. Wouldn't want to intimidate anyone.

What’s the laziest thing you ever did?

(See what I did there?)

I'm tagging the people behind the spiffin' blogs: travelin through, SuburbanFizz, Fresh Muddy Waters, Learning to Fly, hey pretty, fever, and Living the life in the LBC. Of course they don't have to do it, but we'll all be silently judging them if they don't.

22 June 2009

"You want to marry me, we'll marry" --Carly Simon

NEW YORK (Reuters) – After years of asking longtime companion Farrah Fawcett to marry him, actor Ryan O'Neal says she has finally agreed, even as she nears the end of her life after a long battle with cancer.

Okay, the poor woman is dying and I should leave her alone but... but... I can't. I just can't.

Oh, sure, it's a lovely gesture on Ryan's part but does anybody else read this news and think "How utterly pathetic?" For Ryan, I mean.

Put yourself in his shoes...

So, basically, the love of your life has FINALLY agreed to marry you now that she's on her deathbed. Because, hey, how long will she have to be married to you, anyway?


Meanwhile, how many of you have practiced Charlie's Angels poses in front of the mirror in the privacy of your room?

Um, thanks, but I don't want to hear what other things were done in your room because of Charlie's Angels or Farrah's poster.

In other tabloid news, a certain DC blogger has the most adorable shower curtain ever:

And another DC blogger, who self-disclosed her monkey feet,

clearly has no idea what true monkey feet are.

I'd give you details, but I'm still negotiating with TMZ.

19 June 2009

"Call me" --Blondie (used liberally in the movie)

In the movie, American Gigolo, every set in every scene was designed in colors that made the star, Richard Gere, look good.

Think about that. The carpets, the chairs, the lamps. Everything was in his color scheme to maximize the woof! And, it worked. He looked good. Yes. Yes, he did. Woof!

In fact, the movie is pretty meh. I don't recommend it. But Richard? Very... memorable.

Mind you, this was 1980 and 31-year-old Richard was in his prime. At least I thought so but I didn't realized I was being worked by the drapes and such. People magazine didn't declare him the sexiest man alive until 19 years later. By then, he was a household name. But American Gigolo is what first catapulted him into the national consciousness. This was two years before An Officer and a Gentleman and long before the word "gerbil" got forever linked to his name.*

I think, sometimes, that this is what I need. No, not a gerbil. That's disgusting! No... Someone who's job it is to make me look good in every situation. Someone to find the right clothes and the right backdrops and the right lighting and, as long as we're at it, somebody to write clever lines for me, too.

So, um, get on that, will ya?

* According to IMDb, Richard's middle name is "Tiffany". I kid you not. Maybe he started the gerbil rumors himself to draw attention away from this detail.

17 June 2009

"In change there is opportunity"--(I don't know who said it originally but I say it all the time)

Years ago, back when only segments of the economy--as opposed to the entire economy--were failing, and there were swath-like layoffs at a variety of blue chip companies, a friend of mine lost his job. He was in his mid-fifties and had always been in the same, high-prestige, high-salary career and had spent most of his professional life with the organization that was now no longer able to retain him.

He was (and still is) an analytical fellow so he got to work on figuring out his next job. He called all his contacts. He updated his resume. He got up every work day and went into his home office and worked at finding a job. He followed leads. He went on interviews.

He did this for two years with no success.

His wife, also my friend, felt bad for him and didn't know how to help.

His daughter suggested he try something different, if only to get him out of the house and pass the time. So, he signed up for bartending school. A few weeks later, he got his license and applied for a job at a local restaurant. He got it. He started tending bar several nights a week. He found he liked getting back into society, chatting with people, being able to perform a competent service for which people were grateful, and getting paid--even if it was only a small fraction of his previous salary.

Within a month of starting this job, he got a job offer in his preferred profession and took it.

I think about that experience because I think there was a direct correlation between my friend working as a bartender and how he saw himself and, therefore, the image he projected to the world. His ego had taken quite a beating. He needed to feel good about himself again before other people would feel good about hiring him.

I think we all get stuck sometimes. We want things the way we want them and we don't see how staying in the same pattern limits us. Sometimes a simple change, even something way off from our focus, can make all the difference.

*raises glass*

Here's wishing each of you success in staying flexible, exploring new possibilities, and getting what you desire most in difficult economic times.

16 June 2009

"I don't know, I don't know...." --Jimmy Buffett

[You think your job is bad.]

Recently, I am in the bathroom at work, though not in the building my office is in. For those keeping track, there is no candy in this particular bathroom.

I am in a stall and someone enters the stall next to mine. Here's what I hear:

(30 seconds)
(20 seconds)
(20 seconds)
(20 seconds)
(35 seconds)
(20 seconds)

I've heard no other noise prior to, or in between, all this flushing. I can't help but wonder: what is this? Is this someone having a very bad, extended, but silent, bathroom experience? Is this Fawn Hall trying to flush evidence, bit by bit?* Is this a three-year-old who enjoys watching the toilet flush? Is this more experimental music from Laurie Anderson?***

I don't know what it is but I don't wait for the encore. I get the heck out of there.

* Okay, my pop references are a little old. And your point would be??**

** And my poop references, too.

*** Where I could tolerate Laurie Anderson, I once tagged along with friends to see a documentary at the Hirshorn on Philip Glass and his music. A sample of Philip Glass:

I'm clearly not high-brow enough to get the, um, genius of Philip Glass.

15 June 2009

"Gonna find out what it is all about..." --Eric Clapton

Wedged between the happy hour Friday night at The Reef (thanks, LiLu!) which turned into a happy five hour, and dinner and a movie Sunday night (decadently good food at 219 followed by The Pursuit of Happyness on the sofa*), we manage to get a lot done.**

We ran errands and painted a variety of things that needed painting and installed a rheostat (I held the flashlight***) and pulled weeds and trimmed bushes and bought birthday gifts and blahblahblah. And in the middle of all this, we saw Eric Clapton and Steve Windwood in concert Saturday night.****

Now, I could tell you about them. I could wax on about their musical genius or their impressive catalog (together and separately.) Much like Gilahi, I was impressed with their graciousness with each other. Aside from one song, they shared the stage all night and shared the music all night and it was amazing. But what could I tell you about these legends that you don't already know? On the way out, I heard one of the masses, in a stunned voice, saying, "Great is great. Great is great. Great is great." and that pretty much sums it up.

Instead, I'll talk about something really minor that has nothing to do with the show, and didn't detract from the show, but did happen at the show. There were guys to either side of us and these guys insisted on sitting with their knees splayed so wide you'd think they were Olympic gymnasts practicing their splits.*****

I get that sometimes a person's weight limits their viable choices but the guy next to me was thin. He didn't actually bump his knee into me, but only because I worked to avoid him. The chick he was with was equally crowded. And this was in no way a come on/sleazy brush thing. So, help me out. What is this sitting with a knee in each county thing about?******


** If you are one of the six people that hasn't seen The Pursuit of Happyness, go see it. Right now. You won't be sorry. Will Smith is brilliant in it and the story line will put the fact that they failed to put cinnamon on your latte in perspective. Go!

*** Said to the cadence of "I carried a watermelon."

**** Because if I didn't add "in concert" you'd think we ran into them in the paint aisle at Lowe's, which is ridiculous. Everyone knows they're more Ace Hardware kind of guys.

***** Can I just interject how much I hated gymnastics in P.E.? Were they trying to kill us?!

****** And please don't try to tell me it needs breathing room.

12 June 2009

"Soylent green is people!"

Why is it that a can of congealed re-fried beans looks and smells suspiciously like a can of dog food?

Maybe it's the way the bean mixture takes the shape of the can (every bit as much as cranberry sauce). Maybe it's the range of colors and textures within the can-shaped mass. (Note: the picture above is a stock Interwebs photo. I'm so sorry I didn't photograph last night's can o' beans because it was much more varied in color and texture within the can-shaped mass than this. I feel like I have failed you. If only there was some way to make it up to you. Hm... Would you like it if I--hey, there's no reason to get huffy. Dang it! That last time was not my fault. Who knew you had an emu allergy? By the way, I think you hurt it's feelings.)

And why does dog food not smell as bad as cat food?

These are the questions that try my soul.

I'lltellyawhut, though, those beans sure do taste good once they're heated and stirred. Then, they resemble the dog food once the dog is done with it.

10 June 2009

"You know I dont believe you when you say that you dont need me" --Human League

It is a crazy busy Wednesday (5 meetings!) so no time to be creative. Instead, I have shamelessly stolen this from Leftbrainwrite. We've all been there.

Well, okay, maybe not all of us. I'll admit to receiving a rejection letter or twelve. You?

08 June 2009

"It doesn't matter what you had for lunch just eat it" --Weird Al Yankovic

Despite my whining* about one of the guests at Saturday's party, there was at least one person there who was nothing short of genius. I mean it. Effing genius! And I never found out who it was. But I observed and consumed the evidence of their genius: Mac & Cheese... wait for it... and CORN!

That's right. Sweet corn mixed into macaroni and cheese. What could be better than that?

Okay, maybe if it was somehow served on toothpicks shaped like tiny swords, that would be better. But just barely.

We're talking a menage a comfort. The trifecta of yummy indulgence. The cornucopia of exquisiteness.** Noodles, cheese and corn! OMG! Am I the last to know of this indescribably delicious food?!

If you have a recipe, don't give it to me. You'll never see me again for I shall make it and eat nothing else until I explode! Waterboard me? Sure. But give me this stuff and I'll spill.

Which brings us to the question of the day: Do you eat things at parties that you don't eat at home?

* I go with my strengths.

** Too corny? No such thing!

"You walked into the party..." --Carly Simon

Saturday I meet one of those "I don't watch TV" people. You know what I mean?

Here's what I don't mean: There are plenty of people who don't watch TV for one reason or another and they are pleasant people. I have no problem with these people.

Then, there's the "I don't watch TV" people who feel it's important to let you know--often repeatedly--that they don't watch TV because it's beneath them/it's a waste of time/their lives are so full they couldn't possibly be bothered with television. They've made a judgment and therefore, by contrast, you're being judged.

We are at a party Saturday, enjoying the nice weather (after a week of rain) and drinking daiquiris made from fresh strawberries and eating food with genuine grill marks in it. There are probably ~50 of us in various clusters of lawn chairs.

Somehow television comes up three different times in the midst of talking about a dozen topics. (Note: I do not initiate all of these conversations but I may be "to blame" for one.) Each time, Ms. I Don't Watch Television (IDWT) interjects that she doesn't watch television.

Yeah, okay, so maybe it's time for her to sit quietly and enjoy the sun or go get another daiquiri or mingle with a a different set of folks for a while or even introduce a new topic. It's not like anyone turned to her and asked, "What do you think of Lost?" to which a natural response would be "Is that a TV show? I don't watch television."

It was more along the lines of:

Friend: Who Wants to be a Millionaire is going back into production.

Me: Really? I had no idea. Are you going to try out?

Friend: Yeah, I think I am!

Ms. IDWT: I don't watch television.

By the third time, she is volunteering so much more, without prompting, that I turn my attention to her, thinking maybe this will meet whatever need she's determined to express.

Ms. IDWT: I don't watch TV. We just never turn it on. We have a TV but we just don't watch it. We used to watch CSI but we don't even do that anymore.

Me: Is that right...

Ms. IDWT: We're so busy with other things that we just never turn it on.

Me: What do you do with your evenings?

Ms. IDWT: We drink wine and play scrabble and enjoy each other's company.

Me: That's nice.

Ms. IDWT: Even my sixteen-year-old doesn't watch TV. She doesn't turn it on.

Me: She's probably too busy with the computer and texting her friends...

Ms. IDWT: No, she's not into that.

Me: *blink* That's unusual.

Ms. IDWT: I guess it is. She's a great kid and she has a great boyfriend. He's in Florida.

Me: Florida? How did she meet him if he's in Florida?

Ms. IDWT: Over the Internet.

At this point I am done with this woman. Her daughter isn't into computers but she's got a boyfriend she met over the Internet. Chyeah.

Look, I get that television is rarely an intellectual pursuit. That the quality of television continues to sink to new lows. I, myself, have chosen at times to go multiple weeks without television. Any television.

But, currently? I watch television. So what?

I've spent sick days with the television on all day. I've gotten through bad times by doing what I can about a sucky situation and then diverting my attention from the suckitude by watching comedies. What's wrong with that? Why is it such a badge of honor to some people that they don't watch television?

05 June 2009

"Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man" --The Kinks

I am pleased when something I write gets picked up by the Washington Post's Express. It's happened four times that I know of. Two of those four times, they've referred to me as a "he" and twice they've missed the point of my post.

So, maybe it's not quite the honor it could be.

I'm not a "he". Shocked? You shouldn't be. Yes, I try to write as universally as I can but I've never tried to pass as a man.

The post they quoted today was about dealing with car salesmen so it's ironic that the WaPo thought I was a man because the salesmen certainly didn't. They didn't even see me as equal to a man, which would have been preferable.

Even though I introduced myself and explained what type of car I was looking for, the salesmen (yes, plural) asked my husband questions about what he wanted in a car. He would smile, point to me, and say "It's her car. I'm just along for the ride."

It isn't that Hubby refused to speak. He'd ask an occasional question and he'd point out things (did you know you can spot if a car has been in an accident if you look under the hood and check for over-spraying? He's way clever about all kinds of things!) and he's a whiz with the numbers, where I am not.

That said, I did the research. I developed a going in position. I determined the final cost I wanted to pay. I laid out what I wanted to the salesmen. I spoke for myself at every turn. I negotiated. I considered the alternatives. I made the decision. I signed the check from my account--not even a shared account.

And, even so, yesterday, we got a thank you letter from the dealer who sold me the car. It was addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. (Hubby's name)".

I ask you, what more could I do to make it clear it was mine?

04 June 2009

"I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, And I want it now." --Queen

Last Friday, I get the dreaded call from the mechanic. You know the one.

He reads me the laundry list* of problems and his voice gets kind of soft and implies that, given the car's advanced age and how much mileage is on it, maybe it's time to... give the car away... maybe to someone in the country... where it can run around on a farm and be happy.

It is a very sad time but I am, ultimately, a realist and I can not be without a viable car. And, by all reports, this is a great time to purchase a car.

At the first dealership, the salesman says "In a month, 50% of these cars will be gone and in two months they'll likely all be gone because we're really busy."

I take this opportunity to pointedly look around the empty showroom and take in the other salesmen who are clumped together talking about sports.

At the second dealership, I have this exchange with the manager:

Manager: What did you think of it?

Me: It's a fine car.

Manager: It is! And at a competitive price.

Me: It's more than I was planning to spend. I expect there's some flexibility in the price...



Manager: I... might be able to come down $100.


Manager: If you're ready to sign.

Exsqueeze me? Have you read the papers? Heard about the economic downturn, by any chance? Run across some news stories about the automobile industry crisis?

$100? I spit on your $100.

At the third dealership, I find what I want and get it at a better price than even I anticipated. Because EVERYthing is negotiable. EVERY flippin' thing.

* Why is it called a "laundry list"? My laundry list would consist of whites, darks, and delicates. Not a long list at all. And, as long as we're talking about laundry, why is 90% of women's clothing labeled either "hand wash" or "dry clean"?**

** Confession: I eventually put almost every piece of clothing labeled "hand wash" in the washing machine on "delicate". You know what happens? The clothes get clean.
But I digress.

02 June 2009

"While you're far away and dreaming" --Aerosmith

Have you seen the television ads for Drag Me to Hell? *rubs nose*

I hate them. *rubs nose* It's not the demons/corpses. *rubs nose* Or the butcher knives. *rubs nose* Or scenes of being dragged violently away while screaming. *rubs nose* It's not even that weird vomiting of red clouds. *rubs nose*

It's that two second shot of a fly crawling up someone's nose while they sleep. *rubs nose* Ugh! You want a creepy movie? Just do two hours of bugs crawling into someone's nose while they sleep. *rubs nose* Because, that'll do it!

*rubs nose*

*rubs nose*

*rubs nose*

01 June 2009

"Monday, Monday, can't trust that day" --The Mamas and the Papas

Pop Quiz!
Because it's Monday and that's the type of horror that comes with Monday. Don't start sweating yet. Even though you didn't study over the weekend, you know this one. And, besides, Susie Derkins will probably let you cheat off her, again, but, at this point, you'll probably have to stop pretending you don't know her when she says "Hi" in the hall.

Here's the scenario:

You come to dine at a restaurant. Before you is a single knife and fork. Your appetizer comes and you employ your knife and fork. When you are finished, the wait-person heads over to collect your appetizer plate.

Do you:

  • put your dirty knife and fork on the plate for clearing? OR
  • retain your knife and fork for use during the next course?
And what is your reaction if you put your shmutzy knife and fork on the plate for clearing and the wait-person takes them off the plate and puts them back on the table in front of you?

What can you reasonably expect?

And now for way beyond reasonable...