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Dear FedEx and Bright Cellars:

Thank you for working together to offer me new challenges to overcome. I feel so empowered now that I’ve successfully passed numerous levels of gameplay and defeated the final boss in an epic showdown.

Level One: The Cancellation

To pass this level, I finally had to cancel my Bright Cellars subscription FOR REAL THIS TIME. I live one mile from a Total Wine & More. I resisted your offers of free bottles and credits. I accepted ONE LAST SHIPMENT to use my various credits.

Level Two: Shipment Attempt 1

This one was tricky. My package was returned to Bright Cellars because the FedEx driver said no one was home Sunday. I was home. No one even rang the doorbell. I realize now that the cheat code to win this level was that I needed to sit on the stairs outside my front door all day. Still, somehow I forged on to the next level.

Level Three: Shipment Attempt 2

This was a tough level because I had three villains to defeat.

  1. Bright Cellars had to change the address to the leasing office.
  2. FedEx had to make sure to put “leasing office” on the shipping info.
  3. The (nasty) manager of the leasing office had to be notified that a package was on the way.

Level Four: Shipment Attempt 3

Another difficult level. FedEx, you were wily, and required numerous maneuvers.

  1. I had to call and convince you to hold the package at the FedEx facility in Norcross so I could pick it up. You told me to call the facility after 5.
  2. I called the facility after 5. I was put on hold three times. Finally, an unpleasant woman said she could not hold the package for pickup unless FedEx customer service (yes, her same company) told her to hold it. That I needed to call customer service, and have them call her.
  3. I called FedEx customer service again. I made Geordie write a note in the shipment file, and call the facility witch.

CUT SCENE:
Late evening phone call from the FedEx facility in Norcross to explain that the reason my package wasn’t delivered was because the leasing office hag wouldn’t sign for it.

Level Five: The Pickup

“If no one answer keep trying until they do.”

This level required me to call all the extensions. Twice.

Level Six: The Final Showdown

The final boss was a lovely man who — at first glance — just seemed like a beleaguered employee. But this level required an ID and signature on a digital pad that would not accept signatures. Still, I persevered.

I will now treat myself to what’s in the box.

It had better be THE BEST WINE I’ve ever tasted to be worth this difficult adulting game.

In sum: I never want to play this game again.

I hate you both,
Beth

 

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EPISODE 2: All’s Quiet on the Chlorine Front
Rated G for give a girl some space

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

Enter MOTHER and her 13-YEAR-OLD SON. (When asked if he wanted to go, her 14 YEAR OLD on his Xbox said, “I don’t know.” And that was that.)

Despite the fact that it is prime sunning hours, the pool is nearly deserted.

MOTHER notices a leathery GRANNY is in residence in the corner.

This is exactly where this woman has been every single time MOTHER has been to the pool this season. MOTHER wonders if she should be concerned. Perhaps this woman doesn’t have a home beyond the pool.

On a lounge chair a mere four feet away is a THIRTYSOMETHING WOMAN reading a book.

A MAN IN SHORT BATHING TRUNKS enters the pool area, and chooses a lounge chair in the same strip as the WOMAN.

MOTHER wonders why he has to be all up on her when there are dozens of other chairs.

Perhaps WOMAN thinks the same thing, as she quickly departs.

When she leaves, SHORT SUIT moves a chair within five feet of MOTHER.

MOTHER sighs. She is not a fan of people being too close to her.

MOTHER and SON and FATHER who has appeared in the interim decide they’ve had enough of the pool and people being too close and leave.

No drama. MOTHER didn’t want to start anything. (Sorry.)

END SCENE

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That’s right, readers: We are still living in the apartment complex. We decided we liked not having to maintain a house and its landscape. Something’s broken? Call maintenance. It’s great.

So that means we’re here for another summer, which means the return of “Dispatches from the pool.” Here are links to the starts of Seasons 1 and 2, if you need a recap. Enjoy!

 

EPISODE 1: You’re not melting, I promise
Rated G for gentle sprinkles

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE SUNDAY AFTERNOON

ENTER WOMAN (usually referred to as “MOTHER,” but this time she is blissfully alone, having had the house to herself for two days while the others were traveling)

Seven TWENTYSOMETHINGS are scattered around the pool area sunning themselves like alligators on a riverbank.

WOMAN settles into a lounge chair with her trashy magazine (People, of course) and adult sippy cup.

WOMAN sees the girls taking pics she assumes are for Insta.

WOMAN feels the need to do a meta photo. A pretend Instagram photo of her legs, in typical Insta style, that includes the girls posting to Instagram. (Pretend Instagram because her actual Instagram features the adventures of a taxidermied raccoon paw.)

(Note: This photo would never have happened 50 pounds ago. Remember how whaley and uncomfortable WOMAN was in Season 1? That’s right.)

 

WOMAN’S phone BUZZES with a response to an earlier text

 

 

Raindrops FALL.

Every one of the TWENTYSOMETHINGS immediately scuttles away.

 

WOMAN, an actual meteorologist, looks at the clouds and knows the rain will pass.

WOMAN (under her breath)
Oh please. It’s just sprinkling. You’re not going to melt.

WOMAN continues reading her now slightly damp magazine. She is now completely alone at the pool, but not for long.

FATHER and ONE KID — GIDEON — appear in the pool area.

FATHER
You run everyone off?

MOTHER (no longer WOMAN as she is not alone)
(Shrugs)

GIDEON
Hey, Mama!

MOTHER
Hey, Baby. You have a good time in Savannah?

GIDEON
Yeah.

That’s it. No further conversation from that one. He’s 13.

General discussion ensues between FATHER and MOTHER regarding a friend’s golfing and early-bedtime habits.

GIDEON
Watch me skip my sandal!

MOTHER discovers she has reached the end of the beverage in her water bottle.

MOTHER
Right. Time to go.

FATHER (who also has reached the end of his)
Yeah.

END SCENE

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Dear Apartment:

I’m going to miss all the quality alone time you and I had while the guys were out of town getting my mother-in-law’s house in Puerto Rico ready to rent out.

Don’t get me wrong: I do love them. But when I cleaned you the day after they left, you stayed clean.

You and I had so much fun together. I got to watch whatever I wanted to watch on TV. I could roam around in my underwear without embarrassing any teenagers. I didn’t have to worry about your front door being left unlocked or coming home to random friends of aforementioned teenagers inside you.

What’s more — and this probably made Charlotte next door very happy — you and I were peaceful together. So peaceful.

The communication styles of my family members are just so different.

The quietest one missed me. He texted me almost every day.

The medium-loud one texted me informative tidbits regarding house progress, interesting videos, and photos engineered to make me wish I had left you.

The loudest and grouchiest one did not talk to me at all until he wanted something the day before he came back to us.

It figures.

In an interesting twist, Dominic the Loud immediately stripped upon arriving back to you and charged around eating chicken wings.

I guess Eddie’s right: He and I are alike.

Anyway, I’m going to miss you, my fortress.

Love always,
Beth

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Dear IKEA:

I love you. I hate you. I love to hate you. I hate to love you.

Eddie and I entered you to get stuff to furnish an investment property. Let’s call this place a charming, evocative name — a name like “El Pozo De Dinero.

It will, we hope, be Eddie’s primary source of income this summer.

We had to get so much. But the quantity of necessary items was inversely proportional to my amount of patience.

I lost my will to live in the lighting section.

You didn’t care. You still made me trek through bath fixtures, throw pillows and plants to taste freedom.

I have so many questions:

  1. Why don’t you have the entrance on the main floor?
  2. Why don’t you have carts on the second floor where the showroom begins?
  3. Why don’t you have any staff on the floor?
  4. Why do you have to snake through the entire damn place to get from entrance to exit?
  5. Why can’t you get out of the café without going through the whole place again?
  6. Why won’t you open another register when you have 637 people in line?

Eddie contemplates death in one of only two checkout lanes open.

Even your oft-heralded meatballs are not enough to erase the memory of this torture.

We’re not done, though, so I’ll see you in a week or so.

Your best enemy,
Beth

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Dear Halloween:

You and Christmas Eve are my favorite holidays. For you, I get dressed up and give out candy. For the other, I wait for someone dressed up to give me candy.

Luckily, my family feels the same way about you. Sometimes, we get other people to join us in group costumes.

It’s the one time of year where I let my craft freak flag fly.

Here’s a retrospective of costumes we’ve had over the years.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unfortunately, living in an apartment has its drawbacks: All my Halloween paraphernalia is in storage. Plus, I’ll be teaching tonight, so I won’t be able to go all out.

There’s always next year.

Love you!
Beth

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EPISODE 3: Bad taste in beverages
Rated G for grandma, giant babies and “Good God, that Guy is … Gregarious!”

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE AFTERNOON

ENTER FATHER and TWO KIDS, DOMINIC and GIDEON. MOTHER shows up 30 minutes later after finishing the Season 2 opener of “Jersey Shore Family Vacation.” (Ronnie had a meltdown on social media? Say it isn’t so!) FATHER and MOTHER practically double the average age of pool denizens.

MOTHER
Who are these people (referencing the dozen or so twentysomethings)?

FATHER
No idea.

GIDEON
Can we go home now?

MOTHER
Dude, I just got here!

FATHER (to MOTHER, who is wearing jeans)
Are you swimming?

MOTHER
No.

DOMINIC
Then let’s go.

MOTHER
Here’s the key. We’re going to hang out for a bit.

DOMINIC and GIDEON exit.

FATHER (referencing the cooler MOTHER has brought)
Anything in there for me?

MOTHER (handing him an adult sippy cup)
Yes.

MOTHER plays Words with Friends. FATHER watches a video of a man getting sucked into an escalator in Turkey. MOTHER overhears loud talking from one member of the youngster group.

MOTHER (to FATHER)
Why is there always one loud guy in the group? Which one is it?

FATHER (to MOTHER, whose back is to the group)
Look around. It’s the one you think it is. It’s always that guy.

MOTHER (glancing over her shoulder)
It’s the big guy in the hat, isn’t it?

FATHER
Yup.

LOUD GUY (repeats this phrase three times)
It was the best time of my life.

MOTHER
All right. I’m going to throw this out (references her empty can) and get out of here.

FATHER
Great idea.

MOTHER sees that these children don’t even have good taste in beer.

MOTHER
Bud Light? Ultra? GAH! (The Athena is hers.)

Look at this trash!

MOTHER
You coming?

FATHER
Yeah.

END SCENE

 

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