Gentle Humor

I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Month: January 2010 (Page 1 of 4)

I Got Rid of My Old Car. Yippee!

I’ve heard the old saying, “The happiest day of your life is when you buy a boat, and the second happiest day is when you sell it.”

I could substitute the word, “car” for boat and say that I’m very happy today to have gotten rid of my old car and replaced it with a Prius. I don’t know if I’m so happy because I finally got a car that is comfortable AND gets great gas mileage, or if I’m so happy because I got rid of my old car.

I’m not going to say the brand name because these are considered very nice cars and I don’t want to defame it’s character, but this car had one stroke of bad luck after another. First, it had a couple of flimsy cup holders that broke right off the bat. I asked the dealer about it and he said, “Yeah, they do that if you aren’t real careful.”

It had design flaws that made it extremely irritating. The dashboard cup holder, when pulled out, covered up the controls for the heater. I don’t know what genius came up with this idea, because women always have a cup of something in the car, and they are always too hot or too cold so they need to see, and adjust, the temperature controls every few minutes.

Not only that, but the car was made in such a way that it steamed up in a 360 degree circle that meant you couldn’t see out any window. I carried enough towels in my car to supply a motel. When I asked the dealer, he said, “Yeah, the windows do fog up in these cars. Best thing to do is just carry a towel.” I had kids in the back seat pulling shifts to try and keep a small hole cleared in the rear window. I asked the dealer a couple of years later, and he said, “You can try using the air condition at the same time as the defrost. That’s helped some.”

Well, it did help, but ran my gas bill up. Speaking of which, my car was supposed to get 27mpg highway and 22mpg city. I was very lucky to get 22 period. This frustrated the heck out of me because at the time I bought the car, before hybrids, these were pretty decent mpg numbers, and I felt I was being ecological. I ran tanks of gas through and did the calculations over and over but still couldn’t come up to the lowest sticker mileage, even on the open road.

These were nuisances, but the car also had bad karma. My son had his learner’s permit, and when I picked him and his friend up from Taekwondo, I climbed in the passenger seat, he climbed in the driver’s seat, and the friend was climbing in the back seat when my son started backing out. I yelled, “STOP, STOP, STOP!” so his friend could get his other leg in and close the door, and my son pressed hard on the brake, except it wasn’t the brake, it was the gas. We did a big arc at warp speed and sideswiped a new Toyota Camry from the tail light all the way to the front bumper.

Another time I parked my car in a grocery store parking lot and a lady rammed right into the front before I even turned the engine off. Just recently someone, possibly one of my kids, banged into the front driver’s side so that my door opened with a long grinding screech like you’d hear in a scary movie.

Plus I had it in the shop because it wasn’t running great and asked the guys to check out an oil leak I found under the front of the engine. When I took it back home I found it was still leaking oil. I went back and said, “You charged me $950 to fix a leak, but I still have a leak.” They said, “Yeah, that other leak will cost you $2,000.” With my mouth gaping wide and hands on my hips I said, “Why didn’t you call to say there was another leak? Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten the first one fixed if I’d known.” The manager said, as if I was dense, “You told us to fix the leak on the front of the engine, and that’s what we did. You didn’t say anything about the back leak.”

There’s another old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true.” I guess wishing for precisely one oil leak repair was a pretty stupid thing on my part, but when I saw oil on my driveway, I thought, “Hmmm, I have an oil leak.” I didn’t think, “Hmmm, I have many oil leaks.”  Silly me.

Finally, the reason I’m glad to be shed of this car is that every time I fill it up with gas the “Check Engine” light comes on. When I took it to the dealer, he said, “Yeah, these cars do that around 100,000 miles. You need a new catalytic converter – you won’t pass the smog test until you get it replaced for a couple thousand bucks.” I went online and found that this particular car has a gas cap that doesn’t seal completely unless it’s twisted just so; and when it isn’t, which is about 50% of the time, the light comes on. I had to get my license renewed so I gambled and put it through DEQ and guess what – it passed with flying colors. What’s a gas cap cost? Twenty bucks?

If you own one of these cars, you’ll know exactly what car I’m talking about – it was made in 2002 and the type of car rhymes with that year.

I have a good feeling about my Prius. It was getting 100 miles to a gallon while I was ambling down the street. I haven’t found anything to complain about, but when I do, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I’m Coming Clean

I’ve got a confession to make. This has been bothering me for minutes upon minutes. The blog I just posted did not arrive on time. What I’m trying to say is that, after 105 days of posting blogs every single day – even when I was sick or tired or depressed and totally humorless – yesterday I spaced posting blog number 106 on the appointed day.

You see, we went out to eat last night and I consumed mind-altering beverages, which has not stopped me blogging before, but then there was an hour and a half phone call from my cousin Nancy who lives in Memphis when I got home. She has great stories to tell about her pets and prospective boyfriends who all have an assortment of physical or mental disabilities that make me laugh nearly to asphyxiation, and I was thoroughly entertained. I didn’t start dozing off until the last few minutes.

A faraway voice kept calling my name, louder and louder, and I startled awake and picked the phone back up, apologized, and spent the next fifteen minutes saying my goodbye’s, then got up and promptly grabbed a bag of Cheetos, which I’d been craving earlier but told myself, “No, you don’t need the extra calories.” However, after spending so long on the phone I felt I’d somehow burned exactly the same amount of calories that were in that bag of Cheetos so I was justified.

As I savored the Cheetos, I watched the end of National Lampoon’s Las Vegas vacation starring Chevy Chase and felt that it had been a great day all in all, especially since I’d stayed up the night before until 2:30 doing a midterm project for an online course I’m taking. I thought the topping on the whole day would be to watch a Seinfeld rerun in the comfort of my own bed. I climbed between the crisp, inviting sheets, turned on Seinfeld, and woke up this morning.

When I opened my eyes, I started running through the mental list of everything I needed to accomplish for the day, which is what I do every morning so I can linger in the warm bed a little longer. I thought about what subject I’d cover in my blog, then I thought about what I’d written yesterday, and I almost sat straight up in bed. GASP! I’d gone to sleep last night without writing in my blog!!!!!

What am I going to do? What am I going to do? What am I going to do? (This is my way of showing I was in a panic.) I take this blog very seriously. I take this one-year commitment to blog every day very seriously too, even though there are many days I’m in a foul temper and don’t WANT to try to be funny.

This morning I could not go back in time and un-space my blog, though that’s what I would have done in a heartbeat if I could, so I decided I’d try to sneak the missed day’s blog in and hope no one noticed. I arrived at my computer and saw that I had left the webpage up about being passive-aggressive from my research yesterday – a supreme stroke of good luck because it gave me my topic to write about. I whipped out that column and posted it post haste (translation: “in three shakes of a lamb’s tail”), then wondered what I’d write about for the official “today’s” column.

That’s when the guilt set in. Hadn’t Google just told me that passive-aggressive people don’t get things done and then make excuses? Hadn’t I just told everyone in the universe that I was going to try to improve – albeit without a journal?

So I’m confessing right now that I got derailed yesterday. There. I’ve said it. But I’m going to keep going on with my pledge to do a blog every day because I’m going to follow through, by golly, get back up on the horse right now, and besides I’ve got my public to consider (all 10 of you), and nobody’s perfect and, as Robert Muller says, “To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and happiness.” Or as Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” And as Thomas S. Szasz says, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” I’m only asking that you, my loyal readers, be neither stupid nor wise, but just be naïve about my lapse. I appreciate it.

Now I’m going to post this, and I hope not to miss again, but, as you may know, 365 days is a long time, so please be patient and understanding if there comes a day in the future that I have another lapse. Remember my own quote that I just this minute made up, “It’s better to be naïve and nice than to be a b-word and wise.” Thank you. Thank you very much.

Being Aggressive About Being Aggressive

I just figured out that I’m passive-aggressive. The reason I discovered this is because I was describing one friend’s behavior to another friend who said, “She’s passive-aggressive!” We got in an argument about what that meant. I thought it meant a person who seems gung ho about something to your face and then later sabotages it. My friend disagreed and as the discussion heated up, told me she thought I was just plain aggressive.

Lil’ ol’ me? Aggressive? The very thought of it sent me racing to the all-knowing Google to prove her wrong. Instead, I found out that I have the personality traits of all mentally skewed behaviors. I am passive-aggressive, passive, and aggressive! Plus some other traits that boil down to almost being crazy except that these behaviors aren’t classified as mental illnesses. I wiped my brow and breathed a sign of relief on that one. The mental illness thing had me biting my nails – bad behavior I can deal with.

Or can I? There is a huge obstacle to my improving – summed up in the great axiom, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The word axiom is perfect here, or at least I thought it might be, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it meant so as not to appear stupid I again consulted Google, who said, ”An aximo is a tool for verifying knowledge in dynamic multi-agent scenarios. The underlying engine is based on the algebraic axiomatics of dynamic epistemic …” Huh?  Then I realized I’d typed in aximo rather than axiom.

Nonetheless, the paragraph above demonstrates that it’s not as easy as it looks to change a behavior. According to Google, you have to first identify the offending behavior, then start writing in journals whenever you do the offending behavior, and then write how you would have done it if you weren’t a person with the offending behavior, and then write down something else that I glossed over because I knew when I read the word, “journal” that I wasn’t gong to be able to do this.

Even though I love to “write” per se, like what I’m doing right now as we speak, I’m not into “recording” everything I do. This is one of the reasons I can’t lose weight in that easy way all websites tell you. They usually start out with, “The first step is to keep a food diary…” I know this is where I will break down in the process.

Lord knows I’ve tried. I designed all these wonderful charts to hang on the refrigerator when my kids were little. Chore charts, for example. If my daughter made her bed, she got a star. In theory, over time, if she got enough stars she earned a dollar or other age-appropriate bribe. I was gung-ho with this for about three days, and then there weren’t any more stars on the chart. Soon the corners of the chart started curling up and the paper yellowed. The few stars that were on it dropped to the floor and became attached to someone’s bare foot, ending up in the shower drain. I have a behavior disorder that disallows me from keeping records of any kind. Some people might call this laziness, but I prefer to use the scientific name, “lacka followthroughius.”

I’m a person who loves starts but is not so good with finishes. There isn’t anything in the world I can’t start: diets, classes, New Year’s Resolutions, home improvement projects, scrapbooks, photo albums, blogs, exercise routines – I think I can say without reservation and with a certain measure of pride that there probably is no better Starter than I am. But because of some mental incapacity wrought from childhood experiences in your atypical dysfunctional American family, I am not a person who is going to see something through to the end, especially if I can come up with a good enough excuse.

Now, lest some of you think I’m a ne’er do well, I have in recent years forced myself, kicking and screaming, to finish what I started. I got my college degree after a ten year lapse, and I have kept being a mother after all these years, even when I didn’t think I could face diapers and smart aleck teenage comments another day. I accomplished these and other successes by refusing to commit to anything that requires a journal.

So I promise to work on my very bad mental behavior, but I can’t promise to improve because of that stupid journal thing. Still, it’s a start, and that’s what Google says I need to do – identify the problem. Heck, according to Google, that puts me halfway along the road to success! That means already I’ve improved by 50%. With a success rate like that, who needs a journal?

It’s Easier to Ignore than Fix It

I’m so happy there’s another thing I can cross off my “Big Scary Problem” list.

I read an article in the paper entitled, “Urban Sprawl? There’s plenty of room.” I now know that urban sprawl is not something I need to worry about.  The author looked out his airplane window on a cross-country trip, saw a whole lot of nothing down there, and decided that urban sprawl isn’t a big deal.

He compares urban sprawl to the rain forests. He says even if we’re burning up thousands of acres of rain forest each day, there are billions left. He figures that could just a blip on the global devastation radar, especially when you consider the technology that future generations will develop.

In other words, it’s a big ol’ planet, and what we’re destroying right now is only a drop in the bucket.  If it gets out of hand, the next generation will figure out how to fix it.

I like the guys who pat us on the shoulder and tell us things aren’t really as bad as they seem. All those scientists talking about global warming and the ozone layer and everything – it’s just plain scary!  I worry about my children.

But now these other people are saying that global warming may not even exist, and if it does, it’s not that bad. Because the warmer climate might help us grow more crops.

I happened to be downtown when Al Gore came to Portland to talk, and there were angry crowds gathered all around with signs saying he was full of hot air. I wondered who the people were. They obviously think scientists are making this stuff up. I hope they’re right. Because the things scientists keep telling us about climate change seem to be coming true, which is disconcerting to say the least.

All in all, I don’t know who to believe. Recently I flew cross country myself, from Portland to Boston.  What I saw out my airplane window was a lot of checkerboards. In fact, there wasn’t one piece of earth in that whole twenty-five hundred miles that wasn’t being utilized in some way – mile after mile of land broken into large rectangles. The only place I didn’t see them was in the mountain ranges.

At the time, it was a little depressing thinking that just over a hundred and fifty years ago there were forests and grasslands and elk, deer, bears, wolves, and buffalo – millions of buffalo – meandering freely.  But, you know, there’s progress to consider, and besides, it takes a lot of checkerboards to feed everyone in the urban sprawls.

When I read another article in the newspaper that same day, about the horrible life children of meth users endure, I applied the first guy’s logic and felt a lot better. He would have said something like, “Even if there are wretched children living in meth houses, there are billions of children who haven’t been exposed to meth. Besides, factoring in social advances over the next few decades, that number is actually a minuscule blip on the proverbial global children’s suffering radar.”

So I’ll scratch “Meth Children” off my “Big Scary Problem” list, too. I’ve got enough to worry about as it is.

Here’s to Dreams

My daughter was running a fever tonight, and it’s always been my tradition to let my kids lie on the sofa when they’re sick so I can sit with them and keep an eye on their condition. When they fall asleep, I sneak away and try to get some things done.

The TV was on and the movie “Field of Dreams” came on. I’ve seen that movie at least ten times, and read the book it’s based on, Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella. I didn’t know if I was up for it again, but my daughter was just on the verge of falling asleep with her feverish feet in my lap, so I didn’t want to disturb her by getting up. Plus there wasn’t anything else to watch.

I got sucked into the movie after the first few minutes. It’s about the reasons people’s lives get off track of their dreams, and the movie gives some baseball players a chance to live out their dreams long after they’ve died.

During commercials, my mind drifted to some of my dreams. When I was five I wanted to be a singer. I could make up songs in my head and sing them without missing a beat. They weren’t bad – all of them rhymed, and they all had an original melody. I never could remember them after I sang one, and never wrote them down, so they may have been really awful, but I don’t think so. My friend, Carole, and I used to take turns making up songs and singing them when we were about 8 or 9. I sang constantly, loved harmonizing, and dreamed of being on stage.

It didn’t pan out, though. I was shy. I wasn’t driven. I got a boyfriend. Lots of things stood in the way. And now I’m thankful, because I would have been just the kind of singer that breaks guitars on stage and trashes motel rooms and hangs out with other rock stars doing all the bad things you hear about them doing. I would have been miserable. Still, if I had to do it over again….

I also had a dream to be a veterinarian, but had to give that up when partying interfered with studying. I haven’t regretted the loss of that dream, because I can’t stand to see anything hurt. I pick up worms on the sidewalk after it rains to keep them from being squished. I would not have survived dissections.

I had other dreams like living in a log cabin in Alaska. What a joke! I had read a book about living off the fat of the land – shooting a moose and storing roots and berries – and it seemed like heaven. Don’t I sound like the typical hippie? I now realize that I would have rather starve than blast a moose. I’m not nearly the cold-hearted huntsman that Sarah Palin is. Imagine little me hacking up moose hind-quarters and livers and such to store for the winter. What was I thinking?

One by one my dreams woke up to reality. I did end up getting to Alaska on a cruise ship, and exploring in the woods around Sitka gave me a satisfying taste of what that dream could have been like. I did some recitals in college and enjoyed being on the stage. And I’ve had a kindred spirit with animals and nursed many back to health. So in a way I realized my dreams on a small scale.

So I say, if you build it, they will come. Whatever your dream is, I think you have to be crazy to make it a reality, just like in the movie. Here’s wishing that each of you reading this is just crazy enough to pull yours off.

Catching Crabs in Chesapeake Bay

When I was in 9th grade, I was lucky enough to get invited to go with my girlfriend, Carole, to Baltimore to visit her family.

That was when people threw a mattress in the back of a station wagon so the kids could wallow around and be comfortable for a long trip. It was about an 8-hour road drive from Tennessee, and there were 9 of us in the car – Carole’s parents, their six kids and me. I could write about that alone, except I want to get to the good stuff.

When we got there, she and I went to Uncle Bill’s, and the rest of them went somewhere else. Uncle Bill and his wife, Aunt Edna, lived on the Chesapeake Bay. Literally – we walked out their back door and crossed over twenty yards of grass to the edge of the water, which was about two feet down from the bank.  They had a small, partially covered dock with an aluminum boat hanging in the middle of it.

Uncle Bill took us out the next morning to catch crabs. He tied a chunk of fish to a string and tossed it into the water. Pretty soon a crab must have grabbed hold of the fish and took off with it, because the string started moving away from the dock. “We got one,” Uncle Bill said. Then he started pulling the string in slowly through the murky water, and soon you could see the crab coming into view. “If you pull gently, the crab will hold on almost up to the surface.” He told Carole to grab the long pole with a net at the end. “When you see the crab coming up to the top, swoop the net under him,” he said.

From the moment the hazy image of the crab came into view about a foot or two below the surface, Carole and I started screaming and jumping around like we’d seen a tarantula. The crab let go and fell out of sight.

“You girls try it this time, and don’t scare him off.” We fought over who was going to tie the disgusting bait on the string and who got to do the net. Finally we decided to take turns. I pulled the next crab in gently, and Carole swooped the net under him. We screamed again with him crawling around in the net, but Uncle Bill just laughed and told us to dump him in the boat behind us. Soon we were catching enough crabs by ourselves to keep us entertained for hours.

Over the course of a week, we were together 24/7, and were starting to get on each other’s nerves. Plus, it appeared that Uncle Bill favored me – I joked and teased with him because he reminded me of my grandfather – and I think he found me amusing. Whatever the reason, Carole and I ended up getting into an argument about who was going to do the net. Neither wanted to tie bait. “Well, it’s my uncle’s house so I should get to do the net,” she said. “Well, he likes me best, so I should get to do it.” I snapped back. These statements pissed us both off, and we started scuffling on the narrow dock. With the pushing and shoving, we lost our balance and fell arm in arm into the water.

We surfaced and screamed bloody murder, because these were brown, murky, crab-infested waters that stretched as far as the eye could see. Plus it shocked us – it was salt water, which I’d never experienced before. We scrambled back onto the dock and started laughing. Uncle Bill came out and told us it was completely safe to swim in there, and we could touch bottom. “Your screeching and thrashing scared off all the crabs in a hundred miles,” he assured us.

We jumped back in with our shorts and t-shirts, screaming and splashing around to make certain the crabs stayed away. When Uncle Bill went back in the house, we decided to be naughty and go skinny-dipping. You couldn’t see into the water at all, and it wasn’t like a beach where there were people around. This was literally in the backyard of many cottage-type houses, and no one else was ever around. So we flopped our clothes up on the dock and took turns doing daring stuff like touching a foot on the squishy bottom. We got braver after awhile and decided to touch a hand on the bottom, which meant we had to do a surface dive, which meant our bare bottoms were exposed to view for a few seconds.

I’d never skinny dipped before. It had never occurred to me to do it. So it was quite exhilarating. We touched the bottom with our hands over and over, going at the same time so we didn’t expose ourselves to each other. People couldn’t see us from their houses, or at least we couldn’t see them because of the bank. We felt we had our own private bay. Boats passed on occasion out in the distance, but far enough away they couldn’t see us. What a fun time we had – and we didn’t fight again after that. We were sisters in scandal.

Months later, when we were back home, I overhead my mom and dad get into a tiff because he had Playboy magazines. “I only get them for the articles,” he explained. Of course this aroused my curiosity, because I didn’t even know what a Playboy magazine was. I found a copy hidden under a pile of stuff in their bedroom and was shocked to see the foldout and other pictures. But what caught my eye the most was a letter to the editor with a grainy, zoomed in picture of two creamy white butt cheeks poking out of murky brown water. The caption read, “Great White Spotted in Chesapeake Bay!”

I just KNOW that was me!

Peter Pan Syndrome

Some people never grow up. I’m one of them, and I don’t figure I need act my age until I’ve got one foot in the grave – which won’t be until I’m deep in dementia and can’t remember this pledge anyway.

I look at older people who’ve slowed way down and wonder if they ever said these words to themselves. After all, as time has gone by I’ve reneged on a few other pledges I made – like never saying to my kids, “Because I told you so!” Oooo I used to hate that when my dad said it to me. We’d be in the middle of a meal and he’d shake out the last drop of Worchester sauce and turn to me without the least remorse and say, “Here’s a couple of bucks, run down to Kabool’s and get some more.” If I dared question, he’d say, “Because I said so. Now git!”

Kabool’s was a half a block away, and I could sprint down there faster than most people could say “Worchester” and be back by the time they got out the word “sauce,” but it was the principle of the thing. Why did I have to leave my steaming pile of mashed potatoes and collard greens which for some reason I liked and dash off in the middle of a meal?

So I vowed not to ever say it, and then just a couple of days ago those words came out when I blew up like firecrackers in a mailbox and started yelling at my kids.

Another thing I pledged I wouldn’t do was get overweight. My mom and grandmother liked to eat, and my grandmother used to sit with her elbows on the table and shovel in big bites of fried chicken and buttered white bread like she was storing up for hibernation. I have to say it was – well, let’s just say I kept my head down a lot at the table. So I promised myself I’d never lose my will-power and pack on the pounds, and I haven’t done so bad except for the last few years when my breasts went flat and I started carrying around a spare tire.

I’ve hung on to at least one of my pledges, though. I was a waitress after high school and made lots of money in tips, but I decided I’d never do it again. It was very hard work and I got fed up with some of the people. There were the requests for separate checks and impatient, cranky people, but the worst were the ones who couldn’t make up their minds, or seemed unable to until they’d asked me if everything on the menu was good.

I generally had a boss in earshot somewhere, and I wasn’t going to say something on the menu was bad and risk getting in trouble, not at that age, and yet, to a teenager, most of the stuff coming out of the kitchen didn’t necessarily appeal to me, especially when I saw how it was prepared. But I’d try to put a nice spin on things. “The pork chops look very tasty and I bet no one ever complains about them.” I would have lost that bet if anyone would have taken me up on it.

After we’d gone down twenty minutes worth of menu items, and other customers were tapping me on the shoulder wanting their check or choking in the background for lack of a water refill, the woman would say, “Oh, I’m going to go with my first choice. I’ll have the catfish.”

This is why I pledged never to waitress again. I didn’t want to be strangle someone’s mother.

This old lady pledge, though, I think I’m going to stick with it. Sure, you never know what’s going to happen, and I may not have a choice, just like I didn’t have a choice when I blew my top at my kids a couple of days ago when I asked them to pick up their dirty clothes and they said, “Why?” BECAUSE I SAID SO!

I’m not going to quit acting foolish and silly or chase my dog down the street or run out to get the mail in my pajamas. I’ve tried being grown up, and I have to say I don’t care for it much. I work hard, and I’m lugged down with responsibilities most of the time, and if I want to act like a kid and pretend the world hasn’t heaped it’s troubles on me, that’s what I’m going to do. And if people don’t like it, they can go jump in a pond. Why? Because I said so.

And you’d better not ask me again.

It’s Just Easier to Do It Myself

A warning to new mothers. The words, “It’s just easier to do it myself,” will come back to give you a knockout punch when your kids are teenagers.

Yesterday I was in a bad way. On Thursday I’d pulled an all-nighter getting a book finished so it could get to press on time. I was a zombie all day Friday trying to sleep in the afternoon when birds insist on squawking, cars must va-room up and down the street, and daylight pokes it’s ugly head into every crack in the curtains. Then Friday night was dinner out and a long swim meet, and Saturday a three hour morning meeting, and then home to the pig stye that had been neglected because of the book. I was tired and cranky, and when I saw my kids’ breakfast dishes all over the counter right above the dishwasher, I had a meltdown.

I called my teenagers in the room and started calmly lecturing them about the reason they need to clean up after themselves, to which they both denied the dishes were theirs. Then I mentioned the clothes, shoe, backpacks, and candy wrappers scattered everywhere, and my daughter, who is quite astute, pointed to my shoes in the front hallway, my husband’s coat slung over the dining room chair beside his gym bag, and my tea mug on the counter. “Why do we have to pick our stuff up but your’s and dad’s are laying around all over the place?”

I calmly responded that I was going to pick up my own things, and the discussion was about them picking up theirs. My son observed that I just liked any excuse to give these lectures, and my daughter chimed in that she didn’t see why it mattered whether they had things in the floor since all their friends’ houses were messes and why was I such a freak about it?

This is when I lost my calm demeanor and started screaming that no one ever does an effing thing around this effing house except me and can’t they see how tired I am and they just lay around watching TV while I bust my effing buns to make a nice home and nobody cares enough to even put their effing dishes in the dishwasher?

They looked on aghast because the f-word only comes out about every six months or so when I’m really in a bad way. They cowered while I unleashed my fury until I gave out, then scattered like wildebeests chased by lions, running to pick up their stuff – anything to get out of the room.

And I was left alone in the kitchen thinking about what an idiot I’d been for not teaching them to pick up after themselves when they were littlle. I always went into their rooms and tidied up, picked up their toys, wiped up their messes and so forth because I just knew my mother in law was going to drop by unannounced. I also thought I was being a sweet mother, just like my own mother had been. She was a true homemaker. I went to school and came home to a made-up bed, clean bathroom, a dining room table where food appeared at dinnertime, and the dishes disappeared when I was done. I never offered to lend a hand, and she never asked me to.

This was my role model, and this is what I did with my kids for the most part. On occasion I’d read the books that said to require your kids to do age appropriate chores and make up a chore list on the refrigerator. I tried some of those things but they didn’t last long. It was too little too late. By the time they were seven and eight, they’d gotten used to having a personal servant. I’d try to bribe them with money but that didn’t work. I’d make them clean their rooms before they could have friends over, which worked, but they’d just hide things in the closet and do a slipshod bed making that drove me nuts. It was easier to just do it myself.

I hate to admit it but the books were right. If you don’t teach them when they learn to walk, they’ll run all over you when they get older.

On a happy note, I must announce that THIS IS MY 100TH BLOG POST!!! I’m almost a third of the way through my year of blogging every day!!! This calls for a celebration. I hope you will all raise a glass and toast this mammoth occasion. Champaign and applause all around! As Elvis says, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Girls Night Out

I had a girls night out tonight. What that entails, for any men reading, is women getting together and talking about (a) our children, and (b) our bodies.

The children topic covers how funny our kids are (when they’re little) or how exasperating they are (when they’re teens). Tonight we were all the parents of teens. The amazing thing is that each of us moms knows some inside dirt about the other mom’s kids that we can’t tell. So we’re listening to one of the other moms bragging about her kid and we know that her little angle has recently been naked on Facebook.

This is the awful thing about singing the praises of your own child. Someone else has volunteered at school and seen this same child hawking loogies across the sidewalk or making out with the toothless girl in the sophomore class. It’s a very dangerous thing to brag about you child to other mothers.

The second topic of conversation was the changes our bodies were going through. I know my breasts are heading south and my waistline is heading north. Others talked about hot flashes, weight gain in the spare tire area, the husbands getting diabetes, and so forth. We talked about a book called, “The Female Brain,” that one person praised at length because her book group had discussed it but she hadn’t actually read it because she kept falling asleep whenever she tried to. She highly recommended it to us, though, based on what everyone else said.

We drank a lot of wine, or some of us did, and we laughed, and my ears are ringing like I went to a rock concert because eight different conversations were going on at once even though there were only eight of us there. It’s a law of physics that women can talk out of both sides of their heads. We also talked at length about hair color, which is a given among women of my age except for me who is too cheap to dye my hair. Besides, I used to ask my kids, “Does my platinum hair make me look old?” They were sweet and always said no. Finally, I asked the question again, trying to figure out whether I should dye my hair or continue to keep it natural. My son put me straight once and for all. “It’s not your hair that makes you look old, mom,” he said, “it’s the wrinkles.”

Gotta love those kids. And thank goodness for girls nights out so that I learn from other moms that their kids are brutally honest too. And no matter what happens, if you’re losing your hair, losing your husband, or losing your mind, you’ve got the sisterhood of other women who will hold your hand through it, as long as they’ve got a glass of wine and homemade pizza in front of them. And it never hurts to have a platter full of mocha brownies, either.

Crashing a Guy’s Football Party

Saturday night we were invited to watch a football game at one of my husband’s fraternity brothers’ house.   When we got there, I scouted around to see what the other women were wearing.  I found out the other women were wearing nothing.

Got your attention, didn’t I? You’re thinking what could be better at a football party?  Beer? Chips? Naked women?  Get your heads out of the gutter.

There were no women.  Just me!  It was a bachelor, or stag, or guys’ football party.  But nobody told my husband.

I made an announcement right off because I knew from experience when girls all get together and one of them brings a husband, it changes the dynamic, no matter how nice he is. “Okay, so I’m the token girl here?  I want you to feel free to pass gas and scratch and say the f-word.  I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun.”

The guys were all polite.  “Oh no, we’re okay, we won’t do any of that.”  Then one proceeded to scratch himself and plunge the same hand into the potato chip bowl.

For you gals who haven’t had the privilege of going to one of these all guy parties, here’s what you’re missing   Menu items:  chicken, meat balls, ribs, hot dogs, potato chips.  Not one veggie or bowl of grapes, or nice little crackers with flavored creme cheese in the shape of footballs.  And not a fork, knife, or napkin anywhere to be found.  This lovely fare was served on saucers with the little indentation in them to hold a cup.

The TV’s, one in every room, were turned up so loud vases were inching their way off the mantle. The guys watched just enough to yell how indignant they were at the TV when someone fumbled or got sacked, but they didn’t seem to be all that into it. In fact, during halftime they went in the kitchen to refill beers and dip into a big vat of lil’ smokies, and didn’t even bother to rush back in time to watch the second half kickoff. They were talking guy stuff, which seemed to be more about electronics than anything manly or rugged you’d think guys would talk about to other guys. No one talked about the size of their appendages or flexed their muscles, which was what I’d expect to see. Maybe they were holding back because I was there.

I had fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a lot like those lil’ smokies – great on occasion but I wouldn’t want to make a regular diet of them. And Lord only knows what the guys said about me. “Who brought the gash?” “Yeah, she put a damper on everything.” “Good thing we had the lil’ smokies or the party would have been completely ruined.” “Yeah, and she didn’t even have big ‘uns.” Yeah, how worthless can you get.”

Because this is how guys talk when women aren’t around, I’m just sure of it.

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Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen