Dead animal plastic surgery

“Don’t eat sick or dead animals.”- Nigerian radio

So…live animals. Got it.  And people ask why I didn’t bring Macaroni-Dawg here with me.

 

The program’s topic suddenly changed from dead animals to plastic surgery.  Now, I want to say, right now, that I understand that people are very protective of their country. National patriotism and whatnot. I get that.  I’m an American… and a “Texan”… I get overly involved nationalism.  So I never intend to insult Nigerians, in any way.

However.

With that being said.

When I order food here and have to make a deviation from the menu, in any way, there’s a 92.6% chance that my special order will come out more jacked-up than the original version.

“Ok, I would like the burger, well done. Well done… No pink. No red.  I also don’t want the fried egg. No fried  egg. No egg.” (Burgers here come with a fried egg on top. Why? I have no idea.)

And my sandwich arrives with scrambled eggs and rosé sauce with artichokes. So generally, I just suck it up and eat whatever shows up, regardless of the deviation from the original description. Salad without lettuce. It’s been done.

 

Plastic surgery in Nigeria?

“Yes, I would like you to change my nose. I would like a cute little up-turned nose.”

(By the way, there are 14 types of Anglo noses. Mine is a Princess Kate variety. I don’t know why I feel smug about that.)

“Your nose. Yes madame.”

And even if pictures are involved and promises and affirmations and possibly a shaman and he pinky swears to do what I want:

Madam, you like?

Madam, you like?      Photo credit:coughingonpopcorn.com

 

 

Perhaps I’ll stick to the Nigerian chemical peel: the hotel pool.

(Oh, I TOTALLY forgot…or I blocked it. These doctors are able to do, erm, vagina reconstruction surgeries.  The male doctor said that a lot of women complain that after a few kids, thing, er, change um there.  And the women find that the men start to stray.  This doctor (Once again, he’s a man) wholeheartedly believes that it’s a woman’s duty to do whatever she can to keep her man happy.  And if this happiness is dependent on a nip and tuck of the :mumbles: vaginal area, then the woman absolutely should do it. Did I mentioned it tends to be fairly misogynistic here? But, what do I know? I’m just a woman.)

 

What’s your best “this is not what I was expecting” story?? Double points if you win the worst best story.

 

Like this post (Scroll down- see that little like buttony thing? Yeah, that one) and comment below and I’ll send you a prize!

 

P.S- I really won’t send you a prize- I’m a damn liar. I live in Nigeria. You should send me stuff.  But still, like the post if you’re on Facebook (I know you are) and comment below.

 

 

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Amen!

“Put the candy down, Chief. We really need to exercise…”

“Amen, Amen, AMEN!” :in choral voices from afar:

“God?”

 

The Hubs and I are back in Nigeria after a VERY extended stay in the US because of visa issues and possibly Nigeria as a whole just not wanting us here. (I always want to say CONUS- Continental United States instead of US. I learned it when I was in Germany for the summer on the military bases. However, I’m very civilian and it sounds goofy when I throw in military jargon. But I love jargon and in the next life, I’m totally going armed services.)

(But now I’ve Googled this whole “CONUS” thing and all I can find is that it’s a sea snail. Have I been misinformed? God Bless America, that sea snail that I love! Crap! How do I get this CONUS thing out of my head? Anyone?)

Okay, so, we’re back at the hotel and we have an Atlantic view this time around. It’s absolutely lovely if you sit at the desk and scrunch down, so that you can only see the ocean and not the detritus hanging out on the shore and, well, everywhere. It’s also nice if you don’t go on the balcony and actually smell what is brewing in that water. Seriously vile.

Anyhoo, The Hubs and I were lounging in the living room (:read: second bedroom with a slightly moldy couch and a coffee table) when the previously mentioned conversation took place.  And it is true that The Hubs has been eating his feelings over the last few months and perhaps we need to focus more on calories out vs. calories in.  It’s really  demoralizing and embarrassing to gain weight in a third world country. Just sayin’.

Apparently, there was a church service going on across the pool and the choir had some pipes.  For nearly an hour, we heard “Amen, Amen, AMEN” being song every twenty seconds.

As we sometimes border on irreverent, The Hubs and I decided to work with it:

“I’m a sexy man beast and you’re lucky to have allllll this!” (For your imaginative pleasure, you can picture The Hubs attempting his best Magic Mike impression. You’re welcome…?)

“Amen, Amen, AMEN”

 

“Platypus is a fun word. Platypi is better.”

“Amen, Amen, AMEN”

 

“Sure could go for some tacos right now.”

“Amen, Amen, AMEN”

 

“The Browns are going to the Super Bowl this year.”

:Apparently this is when the service was over, because our angelic affirmation was not found. As a Clevelander, I expected this much.:

 

So it got me to thinking about how much more successful I would be if I had a choir of people singing “Amen” as I made declarations.  I also thought about the fact that here in Nigeria, I could probably find a group of people willing to do that for me.

Watch out world, I’m stepping out.

Amen.

 

 

So tell me, if you had your choir following you around, what would your best statement be? 

Like this post (Scroll down- see that little like buttony thing? Yeah, that one) and comment below and I’ll send you a prize!

 

I really won’t send you a prize- I’m a liar. I live in Nigeria. You should send me stuff.  But still, like the post if you’re on Facebook (I know you are) and comment below. “Amen, Amen, AMEN!”

 

 

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Blinded by the light

Last week, I went to the optometrist, since I am stuck in Houston and my contacts make my eyes feel like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band danced a gig on my orbital surface. ( I don’t, in fact, believe that NGDB would do that, as I see them as being very upstanding gentlemen of average size and would not assault a fan in such a way.)  In fact, I have noticed that my contacts have started bothering me to the point that I have developed a tic from trying to squint my eyes into comfort. I may have also developed a small case of voluntary Tourette’s from the pain of my eyeballs.

The visit started normally enough, with that standard battery of tests that I don’t actually believe do anything but make your eyes water.  Gotta get that insurance money somehow, I suppose.

So we moved steadily down the line, until we get to that machine that shoots a gale-force wind through your eyeball, into your brain. I’m sure you know that one.  In truth, I believe it’s a test developed by the government to screen citizens to be part of the elite military branches. It’s a battle of wills to keep your eye open, knowing that it will soon be violated. Violated in an extreme way.  That is a test of character, my friend.

In any case, my character sucks as well as my readings from the air-poof machine. So she did it 4 more times. FOUR. That’s a total of six eye poofs that left my eyelids stuck to my eyeballs post examination.

After the normal reading of letters from the screen (which, by the way, I suck at. Not letters. I know those. Seeing them, as they wiggle around and lose their shape is the challenge.), she reminded me that I should never drive without glasses or contacts as I would be a public safety hazard. Thanks Doc.  She explained that the air-poof tortur test is for a glaucoma reading. Normal is somewhere between 15-21. I had an average score of 29. What can I say, I’m an overachiever.  She signed me up for a glaucoma clinic to see if I would soon be blind (‘ed by the light. Wrapped up like a douche duke er… deuce, another rrmmer in the night).

Conversation with my mom post appointment:

“Do we have any family history with glaucoma?”

“No honey, we don’t.” (That was my version of this conversation. She said a whole bunch of nice things after that because my mother is super sweet, and loquacious, and utterly unlike me.)

“We have come to another opportunity for you to reveal that I am actually adopted. Go ahead.”

“No matter how much you hope, you’re still not adopted”

 

(This would also be the point that I must tell you that my childhood dawg Dewey was put down a few weeks ago because he had glaucoma and needed to have his eyes removed or be brought to that giant dawg-park-in-the-sky. I encouraged my mom to put him down. Dewey was a vindictive dawg and I feel has had a paw in this whole ordeal. Karmically speaking, of course. I know you’re not supposed to talk about the dead, but Dewey was kind of an a-hole.)

 

So today, I went to the glaucoma testing and did the eye-poof test (again. 6 more times again, actually).  Then I went and did other fancy tests that I don’t actually believe do anything. Including one used a remote control joystick thingy to move my head once it was in the machine.  This would be the time to tell you that my eye tech guy looked like Fat Albert and clearly has never played video games because I am pretty sure he’s done permanent damage to my neck.

That machine did something and took a while to do whatever it was supposedly doing.  Then we moved over to this machine:

IMG_20130318_125633

 

It looks like the inside of the Death Star.  I was given a clicker and told to click whenever I saw a blinky light.  Then Fat Albert started pushing buttons (with my head in the headholder thingys). Hard. And my brain rattled along with him as he put in whatever secret code made the blinky light activate. I was supposed to blink when the orange light faded out. It never faded out. And the test kept on going. Finally F.A. told me to take a break and he went and got a tech friend. By the way, I was wearing an eye patch. I think it’s important for you to know that. Did you wear an eye patch and have your brain radiated today?

So the tech guy came in and punched things into my brain. I mean, the machine.  Apparently the seven minutes of testing I had just gone through were unnecessary and we were going to start over. Just click when you see the lights.

I have no hand eye coordination.

The optometrist told me I failed the blinky light test. I also failed my glaucoma test, as I fail to have glaucoma.  Instead of glaucoma, I just have “truly abnormally thick corneas”.  Did she call me fat?

 

 

 

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Snuggin’ Babies!

Maybe it was all those “Save the Children” ads I used to watch on TV, but I always figured that at some point I would be snuggin’ orphan babies in Africa.  Not that it was exactly a goal, but just something that seemed like I would do at some point in my life.

So that’s exactly what I did today!  The Motherless Babies Home is about twenty minutes from our hotel, and tucked away in one of the neighborhoods.  It’s a large compound with seven or eight two-room buildings and a large courtyard with play equipment.  There are older kids who attend school on the compound, though I’m not sure what age range they go up to.

The room itself was very, very warm despite the ceiling fans running hard.  The first room had cribs and a line of car seats on the floor.  The second room was for the toddlers, and bunk beds lined the walls in there.  With no air conditioning and barred windows, the African sun heated us up pretty quickly.

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by a few of the women I’ve met through various expat activities here and the sound of many, many toddlers and babies playing with new toys.  And within thirty seconds, I was handed a preemie baby with the explanation- “Here, this one needs lovin'”  Well lady, I love everything, so you’ve picked the right girl.

I didn’t catch the name of my little baby, but she was adorable.  Very tiny with little curls of hair all over her head.  She tracked with her eyes and was very content just to be cuddled.  However, she was just one of forty babies and toddlers in the room, so there was a fair amount of multi-tasking going on.

The toddlers came in every shape and size, and most of them would run up and hug you.  Sitting on the floor with the preemie in one arm and a toddler on my lap was pretty much how I spent my morning.  The other ladies brought toys that had been donated by the kids in their compound, so our toddlers were ecstatic to play with all the fun stuff.  We didn’t see any toys or other items like that, so I’m not sure if the orphanage doesn’t have them or if there is a schedule for playtime.

Since things like strollers and baby carriages are not a cultural norm here, women have become creative when carrying their babies. They tie a length of cloth around their bodies and the little one is carried on their back.  One of the little girls was trying to get to a bag of bandannas that we brought.  (These bandannas were makeshift burp clothes and saved me from a rather unfortunate preemie diaper blowout.)   After a while, we figured out that this sweet girl wanted us to tie her baby doll to her back, just like how the other mamas do it.   And once the baby doll was tied on her, she was pleased as pie with her little doll right where it should be.

This was definitely an amazing experience and one that I look forward to sharing in every Thursday morning for as long as we are here.  As The Hubs and I aren’t having any kiddos until we’re back in the US, I might as well love the little ones that have already been dealt a tough hand.

 

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Ommm Letttttt

OM let

om LET

Eggs made into an omlette

ooomllleetteee eggs

Yes. An omlette.

With bacon and mushrooms.

Mush   rooms

MUSHROOMS!!!

Yes. Mushrooms.

 

ORange juice

orange JEWs

orANGE Jooooce

O-R-A-N-G-E J-U-I

Yes, orange juice.

French toast

And a… nevermind. Yes, that’s it.

 

This was the conversation I woke up to this past weekend. Living in a hotel, Hubs has the option of  “cooking” me breakfast with a simple phone call. Well, maybe not simple, but a phone call, at least.

The fact that my unflappable husband was um… flapped by the lack of understanding on the kitchen staff’s end was made better by the breakfast we received:

Plain scrambled eggs

French toast

Mango juice

 

The french toast was missing syrup, though everyone was very earnest in the fact that they had poured it on. I decided to play the fat American card and ask for a side of syrup anyway.

45 minutes after breakfast arrived, we received my syrup AND…

340

Yes, that would be a plate of mushrooms, which The Hubs promptly ate on toast.

 

Not bad for a country whose national language is English, eh?

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Oyibo

“Hey! Oyibos!!!” said the police officer holding an AK-47, waving it around in the air.

Oyibo (oh we bow): White person- translated as “without skin” or pigment. Now it basically means any foreigner.

I have to say that initially, I was very put off by the word oyibo.  As time has gone, I’ve learned that it’s a very neutral word and not meant to offend. Being from a melting pot society, mixed salad, potpourri– whatever dumb saying is popular about the blend of people we have in US, I’m not shocked to see, well, anyone. Being here, however, in a more homogenous society (oh triple word score on that one!), I can understand why a word exists to describe us.

“Ma, I saw a girl today and she was, uh.. light”

“So did you give her food to fatten her up?”

“No, her skin was so, so white.”

“She was dead!? A specter!”

And so on and so forth long into a conversation that lacks clarity or conciseness.

OR

“Ma, I saw an oyibo today!”

“Did you smile, wave, or otherwise communicate to her in a way that seems very odd to her because the interaction was done solely based on her race? Good boy!”

:Boom: Done. Everyone understands.

The big thing is that I’m not used to have notoriety based solely because I’m white. There is a common sound that is used here, sort of like a tsk* tsk and hiss, to get one’s attention. Yesterday, I was on the balcony and looking out at the city, when I heard that tsk*tsk sound. I looked around and a worker in the building being renovated next to ours started waving and smiling at me. I smiled and waved back. He start smiling and waving more.  I awkwardly walked back into my room.

The elliptical in the gym faces the windows, so everyone walking by can see my sweating like a goat at Christmas. (Common phrase here. No Christmas gooses on this continent :) ) A guy walked by and started waving and mouthing something. Later kids ran by the windows, stopped, walked back and stared at me. However, it may have been because I was no longer white, but a terrifying crimson due to lack of oxygen and severe overheating. (I’ll let you guess which room in the hotel isn’t air conditioned.)

Sometimes photos are taken, like when I’m annihilating a shake at Johnny Rocket’s or as we walk passed events at the hotel. I’m somewhere on the internet…

Riding in a car, especially in the front seat, garners a lot of attention.  The last thing you want is for the other drivers in Lagos to be paying attention to anything but the insane driver all around them, the okada (carrying 4 people and a hen) weaving in and out, and the bus merging into the same lane. But when an oyibo is up front, attention gets diverted.

But we’re always left with a question of what do we say after someone on the street yells out, “Oyibo!”  Thank you? Yes, that’s me? Hey, Nigerian national?

 

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This is What I Call Exploitation

There is a word that I would like to teach you:

Oga: ‘Big Man’ or a boss

I imagine that when I say we’re living in a hotel, you imagine a basic Super 8 type deal.  When I tell you that I’m living in the top hotel in Nigeria, you’re suddenly in the grand hall of the Waldorf-Astoria, right?  Let’s go back to that Super 8.

In truth, the hotel has done a fine job of renovating and expanding.  And the rooms do a fine job with the sleeping and the storing of stuff. I have yet to have a floor collapse nor have we experienced more than a bug or two loitering in our rooms. (We did not check for bed bugs. We will not check for bed bugs. Ignorance is bliss, my friends.)

The biggest change that I’ve dealt with is the fact that each room is a crap shoot on what will 1. work, 2. exist, 3. smell.  We’ve been here for 4 works, and have had 5 rooms. We move for a variety of reasons, whether it be for maintenance, an upgrade, or the whims of the staff in reservations.  In 5 rooms, we’ve had 4 different brands of TVs, 3 different furniture styles, and beds that have varied from concrete hard to just unimaginably unfit for sleep. There is a lack of consistency in the hotel which makes each room a new adventure.

Upon entering our new room, I flopped down on the bed.  I’m not sure how long I was out, but I regained consciousness and spent several minutes trying to catch my breath after being severely winded. Do.Not.Flop. You can stop your search, I have found the world’s hardest mattress.

The Hubs, though, had a plan. This is where our new word comes in to play.  He fancies himself as Oga.  In essence, if you’re willing to pay a tip, most anything can be accomplished here. And since we’re still in that this-isn’t-a-dollar-it’s-Monopoly-money thing that happens when in a foreign country, working with foreign currency, it is easy to throw tips around.  In fact, “What do you have for me?” may be the unofficial slogan of the country.

In any case, The Hubs called in two room servicemen who proceeded to drag a mattress from a vacant room down the hall, strip our bed, switch out the mattresses, and trudge back down the hall with the errant mattress.  Meanwhile, I was hiding in the other room, as my embarrassment wouldn’t allow me to be a part of this.

Another issue (in another room. All that work and we had to leave our mattress behind!) was the fact  that we lack an appropriate cable to play video games on the TVs here.  I’ll allow for a moment of genuine sympathy at our plight.  So The Hubs calls in the technology guy, who assessed the situation, told The Hubs that a spare part is needed, and that it is not in the hotel.

At this point, I would have thanked the kind man for his time and let it go. In truth, I probably wouldn’t have even called anyone, let alone followed the path of Oga Hubs.  Somehow The Hubs convinced him to take that next step. That step involved a motor-bike and an hour long trip to the mainland to get our spare wire.  And the man came back, thoroughly weather-worn, and got us set up. All Hail The X-Box.

Now The Hubs is working on us getting new TVs installed. They’re available on other floors, but have yet to make their way to our floor.  However, when the man said, “If you want a big TV, then you shall have one,” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

Nigeria is ruining Oga Hubs.

 

 

 

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Big News, Big News!!

I just got finished doing my Blogilates workout for today, and the only thing that doesn’t hurt on my body is my hair follicles.  If you’re looking for workouts that you can do at home (or in a hotel room, for that matter), check out Cassey’s spectacular workouts. In fact, she gives out a monthly calendar detailing daily workouts. Awweessommee!!http://www.blogilates.com

Okay, I’m done with my first, and probably only, plug for anyone or anything.

Now, we know that since it’s January, nearly everyone has resolved to get fit and trim for 2013.  I am proud to say that I have begun my renewed interested in getting svelte ( I love that word) a bit earlier than the crowd this year.

Why?

Because I have a wedding to get ready for. And since we all know that I’ve already hitched my wagon to another, we know it’s not my wedding.

However….

It is my mother’s!!!!

 

That’s right, my mom is getting married in December 2013!!  This is epically huge news and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her or Mike.

 

Since my parents divorced many a moon ago, it is a bit baffling to wrap my head around the idea of Ma being married.  And since I’ve never had a step-parent before, it is exciting to imagine the possibilities.

1. I get to resent Mike when I’m not allowed to go out to a late night movie on a school night, ending the fight with, “You’ve changed since you’ve met him.”

2. When asked to take out the trash, I can dramatically yell in a reverse Star Wars moment, “You’re not my father!”

3. Hey Mike, can I borrow $20? $50? $100?

 

In all seriousness, my mom brightens up when she’s around Mike. In fact, I can hear her smiling when she even talks about him.  2013 has just begun, but I know that it will be a glorious year for my family.

Now I’m off to the treadmill!

(P.S- Dysentery works like gangbusters for weight loss. Anyone want some water??)

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Rumba with Room Service

Living in a hotel is a life that I never thought I would have.  Mainly because living at a hotel is not an option unless you’re in a really bad movie or are beatnik enough to be at The Hotel Chelsea.  By the way, I’m utterly un-beatnik-like.

In any case, here I am living in a super fancy hotel.  Sarah and I joke because if we happen to wear a t-shirt to a meal, we are automatically the worst-dressed people in the hotel.  The other guests are generally dressed to the nines.  I’m dressed to the 3 2/3 on a good day.

One of my great trials (seriously, I have no worries or issues here. Everything is provided and done for me), is dealing with the awkwardness of room service.  Our room is a suite, so we have a bedroom and a living room.   My rumba with room service begins with opening the door before they use their all-access cards to get in. From there, I casually (read: awkwardly) scamper to my Kindle to read in the living room. When he comes in the living room, I happen to feel the overwhelming need to fold my clothes in my suitcase in the bedroom.  He moves through the bedroom, I decide to read again. And back and forth, so on and so forth.

Having been here nearly a month, we are now part of the inner sanctum of room service offerings.  These three things occurred today, and prove to me that The Hubs and I have finally “arrived”:

1. We were given three bottles of water. Generally it is a one bottle offering for each day.  After a small tip, two bottles will sometimes start appearing. But today my friends, today, we were given THREE bottles of water.  The Hydration Gods have looked down upon us in favor, and thus my room service fellows have responded.

2. My bathroom smelled of disinfectant.  I recognize that the floor is wet whenever the room is cleaned, but never before had it smelled as though a cleaning agent had become acquainted with the tiles.  Today though, they communed in a way that they never have before.  My illusion was broken when I glimpsed the feculent mop that was used in this process.  I choose to believe, however, that the mop was newly purchased  and the initial color was detailed as rat-fur brown.

3. The coup de grâce that finalizes, beyond compare, the fact that we have found ourselves in the good graces of the legion of room servicers is this: The vacuum.  Yes, that life changing invention of the 1860s has led me to the euphoric conclusion that The Hubs and I have been accepted by room service.  The floor in our room is tile, though there are rugs near the bed and under the coffee table.  These rugs have always had a collection of detritus from passed guests, thus enacting the policy that my feet never touch anything but my slippers.  Today however, they were giving a thorough Hoovering.

And the cool 500 Naira tip I gave was freely given in the hope to stay in the suite life.

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Nigeria: Putting the FUN in dysentery since…oh wait. That doesn’t work.

Alternate titles for this post include:

“I’ve lost 9 pounds in 12 hours, ask me how!”

“And you thought the water in Mexico was bad!”

But ultimately, “Nigeria: Putting the FUN in dysentery since..oh wait. That doesn’t work.” seems to be the most fitting.

I will spare you all the details, since, well, this is beyond my range of topics that I feel comfortable discussing. However, I will tell you that I feel like my guts are punching my guts, which is a feeling that is difficult to explain to the standard person. If you’re interested though, I’ll send you a bottle of water.

So moving on from that, I’ve thought of a few things.  One being that the best friend sent me a book via Kindle (btw, how cool is that???  All you need is the email address that the Kindle is set up for. I know what my birthday presents will be for the next few years!) about an explorer setting out in search of a lost city deep in the Amazon.  I’m about 20% into the book, and the vast majority of everyone has suffered a fate much like my current predicament, though they usually ended up dead and buried somewhere on the banks of the Amazon, amongst the vipers and boars.  Admittedly, I hope my story ends better than theirs.  I hold faith in the fact that I’m sitting in a hotel room, rather than a jungle in Bolivia.  The book is really enjoyable and I’m amazed that hundreds of people have disappeared into the jungles of South America, and I had never heard of any of it.  Check out The Lost City of Z by David Grann.

On an unrelated note, I considered the fact that while The Hubs is forcing water down my gullet, it’s the water that got me into this gut-wrenching situation.  The water in the hotel is probably treated and definitely safer than most of the water in the community.  I’ve talked with folks that use a system of charcoal and sand and other MacGyver-esque things to make water safe enough for brushing teeth and face washing. As in, good enough to get close to your insides, but still not safe to actually ingest.  For now, we use bottled water for all of that, and make sure to keep our eyes closed in the shower.  I used to open my mouth in the shower. It’s amazing how quickly one can break a habit.

And in the midst of all of this, one of the guys suggested we go tubing. Yeah…I’m going to get fully submerged in open water somewhere deep in a village somewhere.

However, one benefit can be used in passive-aggressive biological germ warfare. If The Hubs gets me angry, his toothbrush may just be rinsed off in the sink.  😉

 

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