Saturday, February 28, 2009

End of an Experiment

In February, I experimented with posting everyday.

I found the pressure of putting something out everyday to be not a good thing on several levels.

First, it really cut into the time I have to spend cruising other people’s blogs, which sucks because:
o I keep missing the story setups and wind up feeling like the crazy old aunt who keeps saying, “What? What are you talking about?” while everyone else doubles over laughing.
o I love commenting (mostly because I crack myself up) and I’m egotistical enough to think that the big blog salad is a little less lively without my comment croutons.

Even worse, posting daily doesn’t give me time to polish my work. I know that’s how blogging is supposed to work -- very spontaneous -- but it doesn’t work for me.

In my “10 Rules for Living,” post, Rule 4 was: “If you’re not handing out candy, don’t decorate your house for Halloween. This is the definition of being a jerk. Don’t do it.”

With more thought, I would have written it as ““If you’re not handing out candy, don’t decorate your house for Halloween. This is the community equivalent of being a prick-tease.”

See the difference? (This may not matter to you, but it matters to me.)

Finally, between crafting posts and desperately trying to keep up with everyone else’s blogs, I spent very little time with Old Dog last month. Which is the most not okay of all.

When I got divorced the first time, I walked away from my house, my furniture, everything but my clothes and my kid, and started over. When I remarried, I warned Captain Oh-Wow that I would never do that again, that if we split up, he should plan to walk away wearing a barrel and, metaphorically, he did, but it was still a divorce. So when I married Old Dog, I told him these stories and said, “I don’t ever plan to get divorced again. To get out of this marriage, you’ll have to die.”

He looked at me thoughtfully and said, “Or you will.”

That level of commitment has served us well over the past 13.5 11.5 (no comments, please, we already knew I can't subtract), but it’s time to pay more attention to my best beloved.

I’m taking tomorrow off, to spruce up the place a little, and then I’ll be back to posting 3x a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

See you in the comment pages!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tour des Maisons Perdues

When I lived in Minnesota, my friend, K, dated a guy for a while who’d recently been divorced. The divorce, and the things he’d given up because of it, (time with his kids, a lifestyle, possessions, a chunk of his income) were much on his mind.

One night, after he’d tossed back a few, he got fixated the idea that he should rent a bus and, along with some of his friends who were in the same situation, go on a tour of houses they’d lost. They’d take a cooler of alcohol and raise a toast each time they passed a home they used to live in. They were shocked when K and I asked for a couple of seats on that bus.

“You can’t have lost houses,” they said. “You’re women.”

Apparently, Minnesota women are just a whole lot smarter than Ohio ones.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Culture Day

Today, a sampling from Ambrose Bierce, author of The Devil's Dictionary.

Conservative, n: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.

Enough, adj: Too much.

Famous, adj: Conspicuously miserable.

Lawsuit: A machine you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.

Positive, adj.: Mistaken at the top of one's voice.

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.

War: God's way of teaching Americans geography.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Town

Three cheers for Riverside! (Ohio, that is.)

I just had, yet again, the opportunity to see my town featured on the news.

This time it was because the Chief of Police's wife was picked up at the local mall for shoplifting. (On camera -- always good to get the whole visual!)

The last time was when the Mayor threatened, over the phone, to kill someone.

The time before that was when the City Manager used his city credit card to pay for lap dances at a local strip club.

But my very favorite, a few years back, involved the local SWAT team.

They'd been told a fugitive was hiding in a certain house, so they surrounded it. Inside, someone yelled out defiantly. They shouted back through bullhorns, ordering him to stand down. The suspect screamed back a refusal. They lobbed in tear gas canisters, breaking the windows. The suspect continued to screech rebellion.

It wasn't till the 70-something homeowner got home that they found out that their fugitive had wings and sat on a perch.

Yes, my police force, Riverside's finest, held an 18-hour standoff with a parrot.

Can I interest you in some property?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Okay, One More

Buf thought I was holding out on you yesterday. He was right.

6) Farted silently in the checkout lane, then wandered away, leaving Captain Oh-Wow to pay for the groceries while the teenaged cashier curled her lip and glared at him. (The man was a freak for Mexican pizzas. Enough said.)

(In case you're interested, Michele over at Mamatalk is doing a 'Round the Blog World Tour to celebrate her 100th post today. I promised her 25 words or less today -- and came in double that -- no comments on women and wordiness, guys.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

5 Evil Things

that I’ve done to people over the years (but only for good reasons).

1) Pretended to be dead of carbon monoxide poisoning when Mr. Right Now came back out of the store where he’d gone to run an errand. (Deserved, as he left me in an idling car after warning me he thought it was filling the cabin with carbon monoxide.)

2) Showed my four-year-old daughter pictures of our dog as a puppy and told her they were her baby pictures and that she was going to grow up to be a dog. (The good reason for this one is that 19 is far too young to have kids. Children need to reared by adults, not other children.)

3) Emptied a jug of ice water over the shower rail onto Mr. Right Now while he was relaxing in a hot shower. (Also deserved, because when we later broke up, and I told him his mom was worried that he’d live in squalor without me to take care of him he said, “Why would she worry about that? I assume I’ll be dating.” Took me a full minute to realize he meant that if he was dating, his girlfriend would clean his apartment for him.)

4) Told my little sister that her freckles looked like someone dabbed shit on her face with a paintbrush. (Also deserved, as my parents made me let her tag along everywhere after me when I was in high school ) (Okay, maybe not really deserved, but, believe me, I’ve paid for it. She brings it up at least 2 or 3 times a year, usually in front of someone I’ve just met.)

5) Coerced Old Dog into playing Charades with a crowd of his friends. This may not sound evil, and, in fact, I didn’t realize it was at the time, but he’s so shy that this actually made him physically sick. (So the real evil thing is probably blogging about this, but, in truth, haven't we all been guilty of that?)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Old Joke #8

What does it mean when you find bones on the moon?

The cow didn't make it.

(If you knew how many Laffy Taffy wrappers I had to read to find even one good joke, you'd at least give me a courtesy laugh.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Club Diva

My Beloved Daughter is what is known at a lipstick lesbian. For her, fashion is sacred. When she was four, I tried to buy her this adorable little flannel shirt. She checked it out, then looked me in the eye and said, “You can buy it, but I won’t wear it.”

BD came out to me when she was a senior in college. Actually, I kind of yanked the closet door open and hollered, “Come out of there!” She’d been involved in the BiGLM movement at school, but I actually didn’t think too much about it until she was elected Secretary. Then, one day over the phone, I asked her, “So, when are you planning to tell me that you’re gay?”

And she said, “I was afraid if I told you, you wouldn’t love me any more.”

Thinking about that, even today, makes my heart just fold in on itself. I can’t even imagine not loving her, and I can’t understand how she could think that could ever happen.

“There is nothing you can do,” I said, “nothing you can be, that can ever change how much I love you. Even if I have to visit you in prison, I’ll still love you.”

After that promising beginning, however, it hasn’t always been effortless. I say thoughtless things (like the time I invited her and Phinn to my house for Mother’s Day, assuming that her Life Partner would spend the day with her own mother, only to be told, “She wants to spend the day with her son, Mom.” Duh.)

They live about sixty miles from me and one day she called to say that she and some friends were coming to Dayton to visit a club. The friends had a male impersonator act, and they were to talk to the club owner about a gig. Did Old Dog and I want to go out to dinner with them?


Dinner was pleasant, no Joe Biden moments on my part, but afterwards, BD said, “Do you know how to get to Club Diva?”

I froze. “Club Diva?”

She immediately became defensive. “Yes, Club Diva. Do you have a problem with that?”

I couldn’t back away from this confrontation fast enough. “Nooo, no problem at all,” I assured her.

Club Diva is a dive bar in one of the most redneck sections of town. Hoodchick’s brother-in-law used to cruise the joint, figuring his chances for a pickup had to be good where the ratio of women to men ran so much in his favor. (Not that I’m calling Hoodchick’s BIL a redneck – I can think of other words that are a lot more definitive.)

Old Dog gave them directions (I don’t do geography) and off they went.

The next morning when I gave her a call to see how things went, she was furious.

“Why didn’t you tell me what kind of place it was?” she demanded.

“What do you mean?”

In the tone of one describing an encounter with a Nazi war criminal, she said, “There were women there in polyester blazers, Mom. And mullets.”

Which just goes to show that we’re all prejudiced against something.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Culture Day

Dorothy Parker is one of my favorite literary figures. Everyone's heard her famous aphorism, "Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses." Here are some less-known quotations.

  • Her performance ran the gamut of emotions from A to B (of Katherine Hepburn)

  • If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

  • You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.

  • Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

  • Heterosexuality isn’t normal – it’s just common.

And finally, one of her poems:

I love to have a martini
Two at the very most
After three I’m under the table
After four I’m under the host.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

10 Rules for Life

Today I'm going to grace you with the accumulated wisdom of my 55 years. You'll thank me later.

1. Never wear clothes that fit tighter than your own skin. Once you start to get baggy, your clothes should, too.

2. If you don’t have curtains on you front door, don’t wander around your foyer in your underwear.

3. Never sip hot beverages through a straw.
Corollary #1: Never chew aluminum foil.
Corollary #2: Never outline a quarter with a pencil and then roll the quarter down the bridge of your nose.

4. If you’re not handing out candy, don’t decorate your house for Halloween. This is the definition of being a jerk. Don’t do it.

5. You’re only the center of your own universe. No matter how spectacularly important you feel inside your own head, you don’t have the right to:
o Get into the express lane with a full cart of groceries
o Make left-hand turns from the curb lane
o Expect people to know what you’re thinking (if God had meant us to read each other’s minds, he would have put digital readouts on our foreheads).

6. Never take a bar bet from a drunk. If the guy that’s always parked on the third stool from the end says he can tie a cigarette into a knot without breaking it, he probably can. This one can be generalized into: know when you’re out of your league.

7. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. So even if Mr. Wonderful is Prince Charming, Sir Lancelot and Bill Gates all rolled into one, if he has 12 exes, understand that you’re about to round out a baker’s dozen.

8. People’s default behavior, despite their best intentions and years of expensive therapy, reflects the values with which they were raised. So if you don’t like your in-laws, be aware that at some point you’re going to stumble across attitudes from your honey that you’re not going to much care for, either.

9. Wherever you go, there you are. After my first divorce, it was frustrating to encounter many of the same issues with my new husband, who seemed so different from spouse number one. When the very same issues showed up a third time, however, my inner logic was merciless in pointing out that the constant in these equations was me.

10. Never buy into to rules for living based on someone else’s mistakes. The idiocies you commit will be uniquely your own.

As a bonus, I challenge any of my readers who are up for it to create a similar posts of life lessons. Just think how much wiser we'll all be after we read them!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rotten Tomatoes

February has been a sucky month on the validation front.

I got the following email from

Your registration at Humor Bloggers dot com has been rejected for the following reason:
Thank you for your interest in Humor Bloggers dot com. Your request for membership was not accepted at this time. However, if you wish, you may re-apply again after 30 days.

We are well aware that humor is very subjective, and that approval to the cabal often depends on the voter panel available at the time of your review. Please be aware that the voter panel changes often. This is done to allow a variety of humor blogs a fair chance at being approved. Thank you so much again for your interest,
The Humorbloggers Administration Team
NOTE: This email was automatically generated from Humor Bloggers dot com (

In case you didn’t notice, I’d like to point out that the software that’s supposed to fill in the reason for the rejection (“Too Esoteric,” “Too Dirty,” “You Suck”) does not appear to be working, leaving me to assume I failed on the final criteria.

Next, I lost a Follower. He or she dropped off the roll somewhere between “Kim in Satin,” and my drunken bull-riding. I’ve decided he or she is either homophobic or a teetotaler. Or, according to the folks at, has good taste.

Finally, I got a rejection letter from Funny Times for Maytag Mayhem. For those of you who write humor and aren’t aware of it, Funny Times is a monthly tabloid with a subscription of 70,000 people. (Great, now I have even more competition to get something published there.)

So I may not be funny, but at least I’m nice.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mr. Right Now and the Monkey House

When you go through a divorce, counselors say not to date right away. They recommend staying out of the swim for a period equal to about 25% of the time you spent married. So, if you were married for 20 years, they suggest not dating for five years. If you were married for six, they advocate waiting eighteen months.

Their reasoning is that your self-esteem is in the crapper, so anyone you hook up with will be at that level, because that’s who you’ll feel comfortable with. Which means one of two things will happen. As you heal, you’ll feel better about yourself and the person will no longer be a good match and you’ll have another breakup to get through. Or, your need for companionship will be so strong that you’ll stay stuck.

Damn, those people are smart.

I met Mr. Right Now at a bar Up North, about a year after my second divorce. He talked about Thomas Jefferson, which intrigued me, and lead me to believe he was erudite. Also, he was loudly Christian, which made me think he’d value honesty and morality.

Turns out he was just a Thomas Jefferson freak, mostly because 200+ years ago, TJ believed that the U.S. should levy no internal taxes, but pay for everything via tariffs. I’ve never been sure why Mr. R.N. was so obsessed on this issue, since he didn’t make jack, and what he did make was mostly so far under the table that the tax man didn’t even get a sniff. But every time I got paid, he’d wig out about how Uncle Sam had just ripped me off.

For myself, I like a few services – public education, a fire department, some police coverage. Heck, I’m even okay knowing that because I work my ass off, some little kids I’ve never met have food and shelter. It feels, I don’t know, Christian.

Among Mr. Right Now’s other strongly held (and diametrically opposed to my own) beliefs was Creationism. Old Dog is also a Creationist, but since he’s a believe-and-let-believe kind of guy, it’s not really an issue. With Mr. Right Now, not so much.

One day we were in the monkey house at the Como Park Zoo and he said, “Oh, look, we’re visiting your relatives.”

Before I could respond, he continued. “According to your hero, Charles Darwin, you’re related to these guys. I guess they remind you of your family, huh?”

Because I’m a total idiot, I tried to explain a little about natural selection, but he wasn’t having any. In fact, he did what he always did, which was talk over me when I tried to speak until I lost my temper. Pretty soon we were standing in the middle of the monkey house, yelling at each other at the tops of our lungs.

And I’m pretty sure the monkeys were thinking, “Please tell me I’m not related to these two.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Circling in on Love

I considered sharing this story Friday, for my “Forty to Fifty” post, but my nice side won out (at least for a day). But yesterday, over at Lily’s Life, Lily asked people to share about the worst Valentine’s present they ever got, and I was tempted all over again to tell this story. Sorry, Old Dog, but you of all people know how little self-control I have.

This is actually the best present I’ve ever gotten. The circumstances were just a little…off.

When Old Dog and I started dating, he lived here in beautiful southwest Ohio, while I lived in Minnesota. In retrospect, it was the best thing that could have happened to us, because being able only to talk on the phone for a year and a half actually forced us to get to know each other, but at the time it was a killer. You would have thought we were a couple of teenagers instead of two forty-somethings. Then we stumbled across this terrific deal on plane tickets. You could fly from Dayton to the Twin Cities for $100. So we bought some tickets and, every six weeks or so, we would spend a weekend, or, if we had vacation time, a week together.

Old Dog did not own a credit card at that time. Let me just say this: everyone’s ex-wife is a bitch, including my ex-husbands’. Old Dog’s ex had totally destroyed their credit, and he was still trying to recover from bankruptcy when I met him. I didn’t like the idea of his flying around the country with no credit card, so I got an extra one for him.

If you knew my history with men and money, this would send a shiver down your spine. My first two husbands didn’t work a lot. For various reasons, they had problems finding and holding jobs. For my own reasons, I had problems insisting that this was a requirement. In retrospect, it blows me away that I just blithely handed Old Dog my plastic, but I did.

Anyway, we’d been dating for about a year and Old Dog was scheduled to come to the Cities to celebrate my birthday/Valentine’s Day when I got a call one night. From my credit card company.

“We wanted to report a suspicious charge,” they told me. “Today, someone charged $1300 on your card in Dayton, Ohio.”

Instantly, I knew what had happened. Old Dog and I had been engagement ring shopping the last time I was in Dayton and he’d made it pretty clear he planned to buy me a ring as soon as his tax return came in. With the trip just a few days away, he must have decided to go ahead and buy the ring with the card, planning to pay me back when his return came in.

After I explained this to the guy at the credit card company, there was a pause.

“He bought you an engagement ring…with your credit card?”

“Um, yes, he’s going to pay me back….”

“Right. Whatever. As long as you’re not concerned.” Credit card guy couldn’t get off the phone fast enough.

Among his friends, though, Old Dog was a hero and I became their dream girl.

One who would pay for her own engagement ring.

(Note: A week later, he did pay me back. And, he still works the same place he’s worked since he was 19, where he's had perfect attendance more years than not. Which is only one reason he’s my dream guy.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Old Joke #7

Picture, if you will, an Old West saloon.

The dance hall girls are dancing. The piano player is banging out a can-can. The bartender is wiping down the bar. At the tables, there’s the steady slap of cards, the mumble of bets placed and countered.

Suddenly, the doors swing open. In the doorway stands a dog, wearing a ten-gallon hat, with two six-shooters strapped around his waist. His left hand is so heavily bandaged it looks like a beehive.

The dance hall dancers stop dancing. The piano player stops playing. The card players fall silent. The bartender says, “Hello, stranger. What’ll be your pleasure?”

And the dog says, “I’m looking for the man that shot my paw.”

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forty to Fifty

This is a picture from the second-most significant event that happened when I was in my forties – my wedding to Old Dog (then a much younger dog). I met him at a cowboy bar OR we were introduced by mutual friends.

Both of these statements are true. I generally choose which version to tell based on the reaction I’m looking for.

One evening a few months after Divorce #2 was final, mutual friends invited me to come out to a cowboy bar where they went to line dance and two-step. After I’d been there for a half-hour or so, Not-so-Old-Dog came over to our table, and my first thought was, “Ooh. Nice eyes.” My second thought was, “Get me a silver crucifix and a rope of garlic.”

A month or so later, I got a job offer from Up North and moved away. I exchanged a couple of letters with him, but soon had to let him know that I was dating someone up there.

Two years later, I came home for my sister’s wedding and ran into him again. By then I’d broken up with Mr. Right Now and Not-so-old-Dog still had nice eyes. And some other stuff that was looking pretty good, too.

Still, I don’t know if it would have turned into anything except for one thing: the friend who’d introduced us told me that someone had given him a picture taken that first night we’d met. And for the past two years, even after I sent him that “Dear Dog” letter, even while I was dating someone else, he’d carried that picture around his wallet.

He told me later that he’d always figured that when I got married it would be time to take the picture out of his wallet and throw it away.

But he never has.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thirty to Forty

The above picture was taken by my second husband, Captain Oh-Wow, to whom I was married for six years during my fourth decade. He was a good photographer, so lots of pictures exist of me from this decade.

I have a theory that at some point during Captain Oh-Wow’s life, he’d been abducted by aliens. I’m not (just) being mean. It explains so many things about him:

1) His total fascination with science fiction movies. Including dubbed Italian C-grade total crapola movies. The special effects budget for those things must be, like, $3.25.
2) His tendency to freak out anytime there were strange lights in the sky. As in, freeze in panic until he could figure out what they were. Including during sex.
3) The fact that all his dreams took place on other planets.
4) The fact that he had no fucking clue how life operates on this planet.

Rather than bore you with a tirade about his various weirdnesses, I’m going to share a single quirk.

He loved to pick up things that he found on the road. We’d be driving along, and he’d spot some unidentified object lying on the berm, or in the ditch, or even trailing along the white line, and he’d stop the car, snatch up the object in question, and toss it in the back seat, where it would lie till he got home and had a chance to examine it. Sometimes he found useful objects; more often there was a reason someone had tossed the item from their car.

I tried to be supportive about this little addiction and evolved an entire scoring system, as if it were an Olympic event. I gave separate points for technical merit (the value of the item grabbed) versus artistic (the grace with which he stopped the car, including the impact on traffic behind us). A moving snatch, without coming to a full-stop, gained him a full 10 for artistic merit.

On the down-side, the time he grabbed up a green knit sweater, only to discover someone had used it to wipe their baby’s butt before pitching it, I had to award him a zero for technical.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Twenty to Thirty

The above picture shows me operating an NCR Criterion 8550, a computer that took up half a very large room (counting the disk drives, card reader, CPU and tape drive) at the college and had 128K (that’s right – not Gb, not Mb, but K) of memory. The operating system could be divided into 3 partitions – 56K, 56K and 16K – and used to run 3 different programs at a time. Our accounting system was written to run in 16K through the use of overlays – bits of code designed to swap in and out of memory as needed, in order to be extraordinarily efficient in the use of memory.

Which is why you’ll sometimes hear me sneer about the code that’s being written today, because it could be a lot more efficient than it is, which might make it faster than it is.

Okay, I’m done with my “you kids get off of my lawn” rant. Onto the non-geek part of the story, another installment of the Tim and Tom Show.

Tom was, without question, one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. At a softball game, after his team protested a call by the umpire, but were overruled, a female fan from the other side mocked them, “Baby! Baby!” He grabbed his crotch and yelled, “I’ve got your baby right here.”

The umpire was not amused and Tom left the game.

Round 1

When I was 26, I used to jog a lot, as did another girl in the office, Chris. Tom bowled (and drank) in leagues 5 or 6 nights a week, and he had nothing but contempt for our healthy lifestyles. Taunts were exchanged, one thing led to another, and Chris and I challenged him to a bowling match: our combined scores against his.

The college had a six-lane bowling alley in the basement of the gym. After a couple of weeks of trash talking, the entire department turned out to watch the match. Let me pause to say that although Chris was a good all-around athlete, I am not. I barely have enough coordination to jog. But I’d been bowling in a league that winter, and had managed to get to the point where I could roll a 140 with some regularity. (I know. I suck. I already told you that.)

Anyway, that day, as I advanced to the line, Tom called softly, “Watch out for the snakes.”

I stopped and turned, “What snakes?”

He sidled up behind me and pointed over my shoulder, his eyes gleeful. “The gutters. They’re just like snakes, waiting to eat your ball.”

I threw that ball right in the gutter and after that, every time I’d get up to throw, he’d holler, “Snakes! Snakes! Watch out for the snakes!”

I think I rolled a 53, and Chris didn’t do much better. He slaughtered us. Which he made it a point to mention about 20 times a day.

Round 2

Since we couldn’t beat him on his turf, we decided to challenge him on ours. A footrace, over one mile, on the track in the gym. If either of us beat him, it was a vindication of women. I’d just run a 10K, and my best split was a mile in seven and a half minutes, so I was pretty confident.

Chris and I changed in the women’s locker room, determined not to lose again. When we saw Tom’s get-up – shorts that looked like they were left over from high school gym class and Converse high-tops – we were sure we had him this time. He didn’t seem worried though. In fact, he snarfed down a Mr. Goodbar while we were standing there, waiting for our timekeeper.

Chris and I both started out at a good pace, but she started to fade after half a mile, leaving me on my own. And then a funny thing happened. I started to hear the soles of those Converse shoes slapping against the tartan surface of the track. Slap. Slap. Slap. They were getting closer.

I redoubled my efforts, but I could hear the foot-slaps speeding up. Slap! Slap! Slap! As I reached the final lap, he passed me, winning easily. Surprisingly, though, he didn’t stick around to rub my face in my loss. Instead, he took off immediately for the men’s locker room.

He didn’t return to the office for over a half-hour, and when he did he was uncharacteristically quiet.

Finally, we womanned up and entered his cube. “Go ahead. Say it.” I said.

He shrugged.

“You won,” said Chris. “Say what you have to say.”

“You two look like you’re feeling okay,” he said.

I glanced at Chris. “Yeah, we’re fine.”

She nodded.

“After the race,” he said, “I went into the locker room and threw up that Mr. Goodbar. One peanut at a time.

“I say we call it a draw.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ten to Twenty

The above picture was taken near the beginning of my 10-to-20 decade. Gotta love those bangs – can’t understand why they didn’t start a fad. My teenage years were as angst-ridden and tedious as anyone’s, so we’re going to skip to the end of that period – when I was precisely 19 years, 6 months and 1 week old.

The day my daughter was born.

It was mid-August and 10 days past my due date. I’d just been to see Old Quack two days before. After checking me out, he said, “We must have calculated your delivery date wrong. Looks like it will be another month.” Then he gave me a short lecture on being sensible when I delivered, “You’re not going through the valley of the shadow of death, you know,” and sent me on my way with one last bit of advice. “If you don’t want to wait, try taking castor oil. If you’re ready, that will speed things along. If you’re not, it won’t hurt you.”

After another giant-bellied, sticky weekend of no air conditioning, by Monday I was ready to give it a shot. I downed the stuff, then headed, along with my clueless young husband (CYH), over to my in-laws to do laundry. In their basement. Up and down the open wooden steps a dozen times as I loaded and unloaded dirty to wet to dry clothes. (Note: CYH carried the basket down the stairs.)

At some point, I started having labor pains, which grew more intense as time went on. But Old Quack had warned me not to overreact. “Wait until your pains are regular, or they’ll just send you back home.” Sometimes the pains were five minutes apart, but sometimes they were six, and I wasn’t sure that was regular enough, so I just waited. Until the frequency increased to four minutes apart, and my MIL said, “Honey, I really think you ought to go on to the hospital.”

So I changed out one last load of laundry and piled into our Plymouth Satellite (who’s hood stretched out even further than my belly) and headed for the hospital. A few minutes into the trip, CYH made a turn that did not, on my mental map, lead to the hospital.

“Where are we going?” I gasped.

“To Ron’s.”

“Why are we going to Ron’s?” (Huff, huff, huff.)

“We might need him.”

With great forbearance, I did not mention that we hadn’t needed him to get into this situation.

We double-parked in front of Ron’s house and CYH ran up to the door. A moment later, he jumped back into the driver’s seat and Ron slid in on the passenger side, leaving me to straddle the hump. Which really didn’t matter, because by then I was not likely to be comfortable anywhere. Ron timed my contractions and confirmed that they were two minutes apart.

“Man, why didn’t you warn me?” he demanded, lifting one sandal-clad foot. “I would have worn something with shoelaces.”

“No time,” CYH grunted.

I’ll never forget the wide-eyed terror on Ron’s face when the ER nurse asked him if he were the father. Ron, who was usually as smooth-spoken as a snake-oil salesman, was for once bereft of speech. He just shook his head and mutely pointed at CYH.

After parking the car while CYH walked beside the orderly wheeling me up to the maternity ward, he kept CYH company for the two hours until I delivered my beautiful daughter. (It would have been sooner but the nurse told me not to push because Old Quack wasn’t there yet.) All I can say is, thank goodness Ron was there.

Because I’m not sure my husband would have made it through the birth without him.
(Note: Ron went to high school with CYH and me. He and CYH co-edited the sports page of the school paper. I had the editorial page. It was a pretty nerdy little clique, that paper.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Double Nickels

This Friday I will turn 55. Which is just the coolest thing, because it's a Significant Birthday.

What's a Significant Birthday? A birthday that has some legal or cultural significance. (Okay, I made that up, but I can, because it’s my birthday.)

For example, 10 (double-digits), 13 (teenager), 16 (driving), 18 (voting age), 21 (drinking age), 25 (able to hold a Congressional seat), 30 (able to hold a Senate seat), 36 (able to be President). But 55 is perhaps the coolest of all, because of, yep, you guessed it.

Senior Menu!

Anyway, in honor of this major event, which I've waiting on for, like, 55 years, I'm going to do a post for each decade of my life this week. Today, zero to 10.

Although the tike in the picture looks really adorable, I was apparently a real pain-in-the-ass as a child. As in, when my mom found out she was pregnant with my younger brother she sat down and cried. Of course, the fact that my sister, Rita, is only 16 months older than me and my brother, Lynn, is only 20 months younger might have had something to do with it.

Mom said that one time I climbed up onto the sink and invaded the medicine cabinet, eating an entire bottle of baby aspirin and washing it down with a bottle of Castoria and a mercurochrome chaser. They rushed me to the doctor, who looked me over and said I was fine, the drugs must have counteracted each other. (The old quack.)

Another time, she asked Rita to keep an eye on me while she ran down to the basement to check on the laundry. When she came back up, I had lit the broom on fire and was swinging it around my head. And Rita, wide-eyed, said, "I'm watching her, Mommy." (She never was much good at stopping me from doing things, because when she tried I'd punch her in the stomach.)

And there are other stories, involving bringing bugs into the house and storing them under my pillow and then getting mad when I went back to retrieve them and they weren't there. And carrying bees around inside my closed fists, explaining, "They won't sting you if you don't frighten them.”

The worst one, though, without a doubt, was the time I took the magnet from my paper doll set (remember those paper dolls whose clothes adhered via little magnets?), unscrewed the bulb from Rudolph-the-Red-Nose-Lamp, and stuck the magnet into the socket to see what would happen. Mom and Dad were in the living room, watching Ed Sullivan, and I still remember the blue spark that shot out before all the lights went out and then the sound of Mom's voice in the darkness, saying plaintively:

"Oh, lord, what has that child done now?"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Intro to Accounting

Some of you may have read the snarky comment that Hoodchick left on yesterday’s post. I think perhaps it bears some explanation.

Although I’m generally good at things scholastic, Accounting was an exception to that. I actually took Accounting 111 (think “bookkeeping”) four times. When I’d start doing badly, I’d drop and register for it again the next quarter. (I worked at the college, so it was essentially free.) I did eventually finish it with an “A.” It only took me two tries to get through 112 (with a “B”) and one shot for 113 (“C” : ().

Also, I’m not allowed to touch the checkbook at our house, except to note – in pencil – any checks I may have written. Old Dog is one of the world’s worst procrastinators, but all I have to do to get him to pay bills is to threaten to do it myself and subtract out the checks in ink.

I don’t subtract very well, even with a calculator.

So when this job opportunity came up, I knew that the bookkeeping would be the tough part. In the interview, I did kind of hint this to my new boss, but she didn’t think it would be a problem.

Well, I needed a job, and I figured, I’ve written accounting systems, how hard could it be to learn to use one?

Over the coming months, I guess we’ll find out….

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Snippet

For those of you who have been wondering how my new job is going, I am posting this snippet from an email I sent to my boss (who is on vacation) today:

Subject: Good news!

The bank statement came in today and the good news is I really suck at bookkeeping. We have $6000 more than I thought in the checking account.


Friday, February 6, 2009

The Tom and Tim Show -- Episode 2

Note for the guys: This one is 100% true (at least, as I remember it).

It was Tom and Tim who showed me that I wasn’t cut out to be a motivational speaker.

Poindexter (not his real name), our Systems Analyst, had an odd gait; rolling onto the ball of his leading foot with each step, so that his body bobbed up and down like a merry-go-round pony when he walked. His glasses looked like they'd been ground from the bottom of a pair of highball glasses, and behind them his eyes were always in motion, not just roaming, but flickering. His eyesight was so poor that he practically had to be on top of things to see them.

Our boss thought Poindexter was brilliant, but among the staff he was less popular. He had a reputation for being a little too touchy with the department females, which we, at least in part, excused because of his bad vision, but Tim and Tom flat-out hated him. To his face they were barely courteous. Behind his back they made endless mockery – of his walk, of his eyesight, of his habit of trailing his finger along his computer screen and leaving marks that they insisted were nose-prints.

I wasn’t wild about Poindexter, either – he once lifted a necklace I was wearing right off my chest, all but burying his face in my bosom to look at the pendant --but one day he told me a story that made me view him differently. We were talking about our eyesight – mine was poor, too – and he said his was caused by something that happened before he was born. His mother had tried to have him aborted.

I was in my twenties, sappy enough to fall for a hard luck yarn and naive enough to think that a sad story could change people’s hearts and minds. So I related the tale to Tom and Tim, figuring that compassion would make them ease up on the poor guy.

And it actually seemed to work. Over the next couple of weeks, they stopped giving him grief. I felt pretty good about my powers of persuasion, right up until I walked into Tom’s cube and saw a cartoon that looked a lot like this hanging on his wall:

Zig Ziglar, I think your job is safe….

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Joke #6

Why did the Siamese Twins to go England?

Because the other one wanted to drive.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The BB Story

Marinka’s post a couple of weeks ago, on mammograms, made me remember this – so blame her.

I have a BB in my left breast, courtesy of a car load of teenaged boys who shot me one evening when I was out jogging.

It was about eight o’clock on a September evening, and I’d been running for a while, so my pulse was up. I was heading up a hill near my house when a pale green sedan pulled to the curb. There was a catcall and what felt like the snap of a rubber band hit the side of my breast. Then maniacal laughter and the screech of tires as I stood there under the streetlight, watching my shirt change colors.

My first thought was that they’d thrown a cigarette at me and it was burning my tee shirt away. Since I wasn’t wearing a bra, this meant I’d get to run home essentially topless. But then I touched the dark spot and my fingers came away wet and I realized it was blood. I turned around and headed home.

When I got there, my husband wanted to take me to the ER, but I refused to go. I had this weird, rape-type reaction going on. I felt I’d brought it on myself by a) running after dark and b) not wearing a bra.

“You can’t tell anyone,” I kept insisting. “No one can know.”

Finally, hubby agreed to let me talk to the doctor the next morning, when I took our daughter in for her scheduled allergy shot.

The doctor was frustrated with my inability to identify my attackers.

“If this has been a foot higher,” he said, “you would have lost your eye. Six inches, it would have hit your carotid and you would have bled to death before you reach help.”

He also said it couldn’t be removed – a BB is so small, and breast tissue is so soft – “We could destroy the whole breast and still not get it out.”

Fast-forward to Monday morning, at work with Stan and Tom and a new character we’ll call Tim.

Stan, of course, was nowhere to be found while this discussion was underway. The Tim and Tom show, however, was in full swing.

“Got a BB in your booby?” said Tom.

“They can’t treat you like that,” said Tim. “You’re my bosom buddy!”

“I think you’ve gained a full cup size.” Tom again, squinting at my chest.

I’m starting to realize why my first thought was that no one could know.

It was a long time ago, though, and I don’t think about it very often, except when the weather changes and my breast aches a little.

Or when I get a mammogram and forget to say anything, and they call afterwards, asking, “Were you wearing a…necklace…today?”

Yeah, right. It matches my shell casing earrings.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Picture This

Curiosity killed the cat, and it's not doing me any favors, either.

Last week, as I was doing a little blog-cruising, I came across a post over at Fingers and Paws where CDB mentioned, as a throw-away line in a tag list, that she'd once been on the Ricki Lake Show and had pictures. Via the comments, people asked to hear the story. She seemed a little reluctant, so to sweeten the deal I offered to post the pictures from my 41st birthday party if she'd tell the Ricki Lake story and provide photographic evidence.

In the spirit of "never let it be said that I'm a welsher" (or have a lick of sense about when to keep things to myself) I am, forthwith, posting said party pix. These were taken during my Bone Chute days, before I settled down with Old Dog and became grandmother to southwest and central Ohio.

Here I am at a cowboy bar, picking up one of the 13 drinks all the nice folks from work bought me for my birthday.

And here I am, a short time later, riding the bull:

Some postscripts:

1) I went home alone. (Just saying.)

2) I did not have a hangover the next day (God knows why -- I drank whatever people put in front of me, including something called a "Purple Nightmare." I should have needed a stomach pump.)

3) When I went shopping the next day with a girlfriend, I complained about my arm being sore. It took both of us a couple of hours to make the connection back to the bull-riding.

4) The hair. When I moved Up North, I had waist-length, permed hair. I returned home over Christmas and scheduled an appointment with the girl who had done my original perm, because I knew she was skilled with long hair. When I got to the shop, she had quit, but the remaining girl said she had my card and would be able to replicate the results. She burned my hair so badly I had to chop it off and live through two years of letting it grow out. That was my last perm. Ever.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Little Clarification

It's been interesting to read the comments on yesterday's post, but I want to clarify something: although this is based on an actual event, it is fiction, not memoir.

Some of it happened in objective reality (as you can tell by the photo of the painting), but some of it happened only in artistic reality (that is, although the events/conversations did not happen, the emotions are real).

And that is where we're going to leave it, because I believe that art loses its magic if you understand how the trick is done.

This story, by the way, won the Dayton Daily News Short Story Contest and was published in a Sunday edition of the paper in June, 2005 with some very cool artwork. Even so, I've always wanted to give it a wider audience, so thanks for your patience. Tomorrow we'll return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Okay, it appears an apology is due. Until I started reading the comments Sunday evening, I thought it was undestood that this was fiction based on an actual event. The guys, in particular, seem to feel like they were led down the garden path -- sorry, guys! I thought the language I used in describing it in the meme last week ("story," "protagonist") marked it as fiction. I will be more careful to differentiate in the future -- in the actual post.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kim in Satin

Black Satin
Artist - Amanda Cook

Jim said it wasn't that he minded going to see naked pictures of his own daughter; he just didn't like driving all over the country to do it.

I reached across the console to pick some lint off his pants. "Westfield isn’t the other side of the world,” I said. “Anyway, they're not pictures. They're paintings."

He pushed my hand away. “I don’t care if they’re the Sistine Chapel ceiling,” he said. “Why is everything in Westfield?”

We drove the sixty-odd miles to the town where our daughter, Kim, had settled after college and found our way to the hole-in-the wall storefront that housed the gallery. I pushed open the beveled-glass door and caught my breath. The invitation to the show had come on a 4” by 6” postcard that featured a back view of Kim, the crenellations of her spine descending from delicate neck to narrow hips. It had provided a glimpse of one breast; the show offered so much more. I spotted a table nearby, loaded down with hors d’oeuvres and red wine in little plastic glasses. I rarely drink, but suddenly a glass of wine sounded like a good idea.

To read the entire story, please click here.


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