Saturday, September 22, 2012

Helpful Hints

I'm a big fan of Heloise. I read her column every day in the Ventura County Star. However, I don't always agree with her household hints. In fact, I have come up with quite a few solutions to everyday problems that, in my humble opinion, beat the pants off hers. I have submitted several of them to her, but for some reason, she hasn't printed them. Here they are. Feel free to use them and pass them on.

1. Removing Permanent Marker From Clothing

How many times has this happened to you? You're busily writing something with a permanent marker—your name on a tool you borrowed from a neighbor, the address on a box of rattlesnakes you're sending to your boss, a mustache on a priceless portrait in the Louvre. Suddenly, you're distracted—by an irate neighbor, an escaped rattlesnake, or a French museum guard—and you're writing on your own shirt instead of the object you wished to write on! With permanent marker! Your shirt is ruined, right? Not necessarily. Here's what Heloise says to do:

Put a couple of white paper towels under the stain. Then, using a clear, nonfragranced, acetone-free nail-polish remover on another paper towel, begin to gently dab the stained area. Check the paper towels frequently to see if the color transfers onto the towels. Do not rub or use too much of the remover, because it might spread the stain. When you have removed as much as possible, put laundry detergent on the spot, gently rub it in and then launder. Let air-dry, and retreat if necessary.

Seems like a lot of work, doesn't it? Here's my suggestion: use the permanent marker to turn that ugly stain into a lovely design. Completely cover your shirt with polka dots, squiggly lines, farm animals—whatever. Let your imagination run wild. Your friends will be envious. "Where can I get a shirt like that?" they'll ask. "I'm afraid it's one of a kind," you will answer, truthfully.

"Very stylish!" they will say.

2. Removing Candle Wax From Carpet

This seems to be a common problem. Here's how Heloise suggests you handle it:

Fill a metal pan with ice and place it on top of the candle wax until it's completely frozen. Use a small hammer to break up the hardened wax. Pick up or vacuum the pieces. Then apply a dry-cleaning solvent on a clean cloth to get rid of any residue left on the carpet.

My solution is much simpler: just cover the spot with a footstool. Of course, if it's in the middle of the room, someone will probably trip over it. "Why the #@$% would anyone put a #@$%*&! footstool in the middle of the #@$%*&! room?" they will say.

If this happens, just smile and say, "Didn't you know? Everyone is putting footstools in the middles of rooms these days. It's the latest thing."

"Very stylish!" they will say.

3. Removing Chewing Gum From Hair

Personally, I have never had this problem. I don't chew gum, and I left most of my hair in the last century. Even when I had hair and did chew gum, I never got gum in my hair. However, judging by the number of times Heloise has addressed the issue over the years, an awful lot of people do have this problem. (How does this happen, anyway? Do they take the gum out of their mouths, decide to put it back in, and suddenly forget where their mouths are? Or does the gum come from someone else's mouth? I don't even want to think about it.)

Anyway, Heloise suggests you "use peanut butter (smooth, not crunchy) and work through the hair." Even if it isn't crunchy peanut butter, this makes no sense to me. Now you've got chewing gum and peanut butter in your hair. I'm not sure which is worse.

My suggestion is to simply put on a hat, leave it on your head until your next visit to the barber or hair stylist, and let them deal with it. They are trained for this sort of thing. With a hat on, no one will ever suspect that you have a big wad of gum in your hair. Also, hats are very stylish.

If you often get chewing gum stuck in your hair, you might want to consider wearing a hat whenever you chew gum. Of course, you will probably end up with chewing gum stuck to your hat. But if that happens, you can just tell people, "It's the latest thing."

"Very stylish!" they will say.

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