Friday, December 24, 2010

I think this trumps Santa

So Sunday night, Sparky and I were at Home Depot – because of course, we leave all home improvement projects to the last freakin minute…

I was coming off a two day cleaning/shopping/decorating frenzy. I was exhausted and on the verge of deliria, so as he trotted off to the lumber aisle I wandered into the Xmas department. I was mesmerized by all the shiny, sparkly stuff… most especially the ginormous inflatable snow globe with the sparkles flying around inside it… you can get lost staring into one of those. I know I was getting loopy because I was thinking this was just what my yard needed.

I stepped back to appreciate its gloriousness and bumped into this…

A manger. Complete with Joseph, Mary, the three Wise men and You-know-who. All of it inflatable.

Now, it’s been a while since I attended church on any kind of regular basis, but I’m pretty sure this falls under that Mortal Sin clause. There must be something in there about “Thou shalt not blow up (or deflate) the baby Jesus.”
There is something so wrong about this.
Wrong and yet...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zombies, Vampires and Radioactive Santa

He's baaaaaaaaack!
It's that time again. Time when folks in the CT suburbs work feverishly to outdo each other in cheesy lawn decorations. It generally starts at 12:01 am, the day after Thanksgiving.

The trends seem to have cycles. They don't change as often as clothing fashions, but every few years there's a new big thing and everyone who's anyone has to have it.

For years it was those white wicker Zombie Reindeer. Some folks still have those. I'm ok with those now, but that first year they appeared, they were EVERYWHERE! Herds of them all over lawns. Some were even motion-activated so when you went by, they'd turn their heads. Creepy.

This year, there are Vampire Inflatables sprouting up from lawns everywhere here. You know the ones. Ginormous Santas, Snowmen, and Reindeer that litter the lawn like corpses all day and magically inflate and light up at dark. Vampires. Who else would think that dead Santa on the lawn all day is attractive?

And of course, the Bear has his Santa hat on and a Christmas flag speared through the heart. Each year he is joined by Radioactive Santa. Now, when we originally bought the house, the neighbor's garage was adjacent to ours at the end of a long driveway. Each year, they'd put Santa on the roof and light him up. Son O'Mine would wave to Santa each night. Cute stuff.

However, in the way of the suburbs, things changed. We put on an addition to the house. So within months, the neighbors built a big two-car-two-story garage in front of the old one. We didn't really think much of it, till the night of the day after Thanksgiving.

They put Santa (same Santa 25 years later - CT peeps are crazy, but thrifty) up on the roof of the new garage (which is now in a direct line with our bedroom window) and jammed a bazillion watts up his ass.

From Thanksgiving to New Years, we have to keep our bedroom drapes closed tight now, or Sparky and I get sunburned while we sleep.

I'm considering lead-lined shades - do they come in robin's egg blue?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Season Over

So it's been a few weeks - let me catch you up.

Son O'Mine turned 23. Which makes me … older than 23.

Sparky's football team won their bowl game. So now they are the New England Prep School champs for their league.

And football season is over for this year. Now we get to do things I like – things we’ve been putting off since August.

It was a long season of Sparky being busy 7 days a week, trying to schedule any and all family occasions around practice and games.

In the end, Son O'Mine and I traveled over two hours into the hinterlands of Massachusetts to sit on a blanket on a hill in sub-zero weather to watch them win (I’m pretty sure Massachusetts is above the arctic circle).

Our team is a second-half team. They like to mess with you - they play kind of crappy till the half. Then they spend the second half wiping up the field with the other team. So not only was it freezing cold, it was emotionally exhausting.  They put us through this every week. The championship game was no different. 14-14 at the half. 49-20 final score.

But those home games rocked. Especially the tailgating food. Man, those parents put on a spread. We’re not talking burgers and dogs (although those were present), no… we’re talking lasagna, mac and cheese, chili, chicken gumbo, pulled pork and truckloads of barbecued ribs to die for. Oh yeah, I still dream about those ribs.

And I miss the music – they played Flo-Rida and Will I Am’s “Ayer” every time we scored a touchdown.

Cause nothing quite says ‘Elite Connecticut Prep School’ like a gaggle of chubby football moms bedecked in Lands End fleece singing:


To be honest, I’m looking forward to next year.

But don’t tell Sparky. I don’t want to lose my Coach’s wife Saint status.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The "M" word

The “M” word.

One Saturday night, Sparky and I were heading home after a movie and stopped at a local convenience store to pick up milk. I went in (of course) and he waited in the car. So I'm paying for my milk and a pick-up truck came to a screeching halt in front of the building. The driver jumped out and ran into the store to buy cigarettes. As I came out of the store, his passenger (cute guy, drunk as hell) leaned out of the open window of the truck to yell at me.


And because he was pretty toasted, he screamed it again.



"Your hair!"



I smiled and thanked him and made a mental note to tip my hairdresser extra the next time I saw her (I go religiously every 4 weeks to get made naturally red). On our way home, I told Sparky what happened and he said in typical male fashion:

“Must feel nice to get a random compliment like that.”

I sighed.

“It wasn’t a compliment.”

“What do you mean? He said you were beautiful – isn’t that a compliment?”

“He called me Ma’am – that cancels out any compliment.”

Attention Men… listen up. Unless you are a bona fide Cowboy (YUM), “Ma’am” is not a compliment. To any woman under the age of 150, “Ma’am” is equivalent to “Old Hag.”

Example: There is a full-service gas station in our town. It’s 20 minutes out of my way (going anywhere) but I make it a point to stop there once a week. I will gladly pay the extra 10 cents a gallon. Why? Because the 89 year old guy who works there calls me “Young Lady.”

So guys, pay attention. I don’t mind being called “Sweetheart, Tootsie, Little Missy or even Sweetie.”

Just don’t use the “M” word.

That one hurts.

Unless you’re a real live Cowboy… in boots and chaps and spurs… Oh my.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kids and Money (Or Things I learned when my son went to college, Part 2)

When my son went to college, I learned that if kids don’t see actual cash, it doesn’t count. Son O’Mine can stretch a buck longer than a week if it’s cash in his pocket, but if it isn’t tangible paper or coins, it doesn’t seem to exist in his world.

Example: We paid for the meal plan at his school, and he also had bucks on the "flex card" which he could use in the school bookstore, the cafe and vending machines on campus. Keep in mind, each time he used the card it told him how many meals and/or dollars he still had available.

A week before the end of the freshman year, we get a call. It was Saturday, about a half hour after the bank had closed.

Son: Hey Mom...

Mom: Hi! What's up?

Son: Ummm... do you think you could send some money?

Mom: Sure, kiddo - how much?

Son: Whatever - say $100?

Mom: No problem, I'll hit the bank on Monday morning.

Son: Oh...

Mom: What's wrong?

**Mom-heart begins to race

Son: Well, I have no meals left on my meal plan.

Mom: What about your card? Can't you grab a sandwich at the cafe?

Son: There’s no money on my card.

**It is at this time that Mom is on the verge of hyperventilating. My son is hours away and STARVING TO DEATH!!!

Mom: Don't you have any Ramen left? (Every kid goes to college with their body weight in Ramen Noodles – I’m pretty sure that’s a federal law - $2 for a truckload at Costco)

Son: Ate that all last week.

**OK, so my panic shifts - there's like a zillion grams of sodium in each serving of Ramen – by now, he is not only starving, but most likely on the verge of a STROKE!

Now that he’s sent me into a complete state of panic, he does the passive/aggressive thing…

Son: It’s ok, Mom… Monday’s not so far away… Thanks anyway…

And he hangs up.

I spend the next hour searching desperately online for some place that would let me order and pay for food and deliver it NOW.

That’s when the voice starts.

You know the one, it sounds just like that cute little blonde PTA president who is also the Room Mom. She scrapbooks, grows all her own vegetables, makes her own fruit juice and bakes homemade cupcakes for every birthday in the class. Her children are perfect and always color-coordinated. Her house is spotless, her car is clean and has those cute little organizers in it. She never forgets the green bags at the grocery store.

She is the UBER MOM (we hate her).

She’s here to tell you what a HORRIBLE mother you are. Your child is miles away from home in a DANGEROUS city, STARVING to death because you are a HORRIBLE MOTHER!!

On the verge of guilt-riddled hysteria, I called Son – no answer.

Uber Mom: He’s probably passed out from weakness.

I sent a text – no answer.

Uber Mom: Those ginormous Baltimore Rats are gnawing on his body – probably nothing but bones by now…

More calls – still no answer.

Ut oh…here it comes - Mom Frenzy (Refer to Lesson #1).


Just as I’m dragging Sparky to the car and calling for the 878th time, the kid finally answers the phone.

Son: Hey Mom, what’s up?

Mom: Don’t worry, honey we’re on our way!!

Son: What? Why?

Mom: You didn’t answer your phone – you must be so hungry. Hang on, we’re coming to feed you!

Son: Mom, relax! I guess I didn’t hear my phone. The girls upstairs invited me to a Pasta Party. They gave me tons of leftovers too, so I’m good for days.

Mom exhales and unpacks the car…

Did this little adventure make him more aware of money he couldn’t actually see?

Not really.

Oh, he kept track of the balance going forward, but in his senior year when he and his friends decided to move to a new apartment (while he was in school, we paid the rent) he informed us that the new place was “only another $125 a month.”

Only… uhuh.

And what did I learn?

Well, I learned that the odds of my kid starving to death while away from home are slim to none. And now that he’s back home, I’ve learned that he’s pretty smart when it comes to money. If I give him $10 to go to the store for milk, I never see any change. But if I’m running late and don’t want to stop at the ATM, he doesn’t have any cash.

And yet… when he wants to go out with his friends, he’s got money.

He’s one smart cookie, Son O’Mine. He should be – we paid enough for it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Things I learned when my son went to college

I used to think that college was a time warp. Now I think I have it figured out. College is a completely different dimension. It’s a parallel universe where time has the ability to stand still, fly by or completely disappear.

When you’re the student, you’re completely unaware of time except when you’re shitfaced drunk and realize you have class in 4 hours. That’s when your math kicks in and you do some quick calculating. Not long enough to really sleep and get up, might as well stay up! Let’s have another shot!

Once you leave college, the memories fade. Until the time when your own kid goes away to college and as you drive away from that campus, it will all come flooding back with crystal clarity. Those moments that cemented your awesomeness in school (like puking for distance while hanging from your feet from a car doing 45 MPH) – those images will come back with a vengeance when your own kid goes to college.

This little dynamic is proof that Life has a sick, twisted sense of humor. This time, when you enter “The College Zone,” you’ll be on the other side. Don’t be scared though, I’m going to share some of the stuff I learned. You won’t find these tips in that cute little “parent’s guide” they give you. But if you’re smart, you’ll take notes.

Lesson #1 - The Window of Time.

When your kid is living away from home, there’s a window-of-time in which they MUST reply to a text or Voice mail from Mom (doesn't need to be anything huge, I’ll take a "k" or "I'm busy"). If that time expires without any answer, we fall into what I call "Mom Frenzy" where we imagine all of the horrors that can possibly happen (and we can be quite creative).

Example: We live in CT. Son O'Mine went to college in Baltimore. That’s 5 hours away. Multiply by the child’s age, carry the 4, divide by 36 to the 5th power… the window of time is roughly 2 hours. If I sent a text or voice mail, and got no reply within that window of time, we would begin the journey down the slippery slope into "Mom Frenzy."

It goes something like this:

"He's not answering - his phone is broken - we have no way to contact him - no, wait, some crackhead stole his phone – now that crackhead is making calls to all of his relatives in Columbia, running up our phone bill - the crackhead who mugged my son - and left him lying naked and hurt and unconscious in a ditch somewhere - GET IN THE CAR, WE'RE GOING TO BALTIMORE!!!!"

Husbands, there is no use arguing over this when Mom is in the throes of a frenzy, JUST GET IN THE DAMN CAR.

Once we all understood that it was either answer call/text within 2 hours or see my crazy face in 5 hours, we were good.

And that's how the window of time works.

Next time, we’ll discuss kids and money. Review your notes from this lesson.

There will be a quiz.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Suburban Sports

Sparky is a jock. He is an exceptional athlete. He is obsessed with sports. Playing, watching, coaching, it doesn’t matter. He’s there. He’s been known to watch fishing and golf on TV if there are no baseball or football games on. I mean, really. Fishing? Could anything be more boring than fishing? Yep, watching fishing. But his first love is and always will be – Football.

So when we had a son, I know that Sparky’s mind just exploded with fantasies of all of the Superbowl rings and Heisman trophies his son would bring home. Unfortunately, the kid inherited my non-existent athletic talent.

Our son is a creative, artistic soul. This was evident from the time he could hold a pencil. As an only child and an only grandchild, this kid had a million dollars worth of toys before he could walk. And yet, with every toy in existence at his disposal, he was most happy with a pad of paper and a pencil. Give him tape and a stapler and he was producing figures with movable parts at age 4.

When Son O’Mine started school, much to his father’s delight, he decided he wanted to play a sport. Just one problem, he didn’t know what sport – just “A” sport. So we set out on a quest to try every sport till we found the one he liked.

In Kindergarten we signed him up for soccer. We were sadly unprepared for the suburban sport scene. Practices were pretty uneventful – parents would drop their kids off and peel out of the parking lot at the speed of light. We seemed to be the only parents who stayed. Since neither of us knew much about soccer, we made the effort to learn. We didn’t realize that everyone else saw practice as free babysitting for a couple hours.

However, Game Day was a whole other story.

The sidelines were packed with tripods and cameras. It looked like the set of a Spielberg epic. A crowd of thousands (Parents and Grandparents sipping from what I suspect were vodka-laced thermos bottles) watched and filmed as a pack of 5 year olds ran up and down the field kicking each other. An hour later it was over. Score: 0-0. That’s pretty much how the season went. At the end of the season, we asked if he wanted to continue with soccer.

“No. Too much running.”

The next spring, we tried T-ball. This we understood. Sparky was the king of softball at that time (he played on no less than 5 teams), so he was able to give the kid all kinds of tips. We made sure one of us went to every practice and Sparky tried to get the kid interested in catching in the back yard. We were interested in T-ball. The kid – not so much.

He played in the outfield. Most games would find him out there with his mitt on his head, looking for 4-leaf clovers in the grass. I can’t really blame him, there aren’t many 6 year old power hitters so it’s not as if the ball ever got out there. Although there were a few that rolled out there by accident. He just never noticed.

Sparky, being the most competitive man on the planet, could not comprehend how his son just didn’t care if his team won. It drove him nuts. He just couldn’t understand that for a 6 year old, baseball didn’t consist of hits and runs, but it meant “put on the uniform, stand in the field for a while and then we get ice cream.”

So much for T-ball.

The next fall, it was basketball. We even bought a basketball hoop for him to practice. I believe it was used a total of 6 times before we dumped it at a tag sale. The only time he ever earned any points was after a girl *gasp!* took the ball from him and scored. He was so pissed he went back in, swiped the ball and ran the length of the court to score a basket. That was the first and only basket he made. When we asked him if he liked basketball, the answer was “Way too much running.”


Next – Lacrosse. Yeah, we live in one of those towns. Lacrosse. It’s like soccer with a big fucking stick. He didn’t much like the game, never really understood it and again, hated all the running. He did, however like the stick. He carried it everywhere. Suffice it to say, every time he turned around, something crashed to the floor. In the course of one Lacrosse season, he managed to destroy every breakable thing in this house.

We were running out of sports.

And then… Sparky discovered Youth Football. But the kid was too young. He was 8 and the minimum age was 9. OH NO! But wait… read the fine print. The child had to be 9 on the 15th. The kid’s birthday was the 14th.

YES!!! (Insert Hallelujah chorus here) Sparky did the happy dance. FOOTBALL. Not only could the kid play, but the Spark man, he, himself could volunteer to coach. YIPPEE!!!

I always told Son O’Mine that we had him so his Dad would have someone to play with but he didn’t believe me – now he knows the truth.

So we signed the kid up for Youth Football and Sparky volunteered (Pick ME!! Pick ME!!) to coach. Thus began our family adventure into Suburban Football.

Now I, being female, knew absolutely nothing about football. And 12 years later, I don’t know much more than I did then. Which is as it should be. Some things should remain a secret.

The first thing to change is that I was not allowed to attend practice. “Mom, that’s just dorky!” But I was expected to be at every game. I thought this would be like the other sports where they played other teams in town. Yeah, that’s not how it works. You see, now we were in a League which meant that we had to schlep to some distant town always requiring at least an hour’s drive. Every Sunday was taken. No more sleeping in, no more lazy Sundays just hanging out. Each week it was a major production – white pants or black pants, red shirt or white shirt, cleats or sneakers, get the helmet, get the shoulder pads, water bottle, mouth guard, clean socks, jock strap, etc, etc, etc. Pile all our crap into the car and meet everyone else in the grocery store parking lot so we could caravan to the far off field.

At first, I learned the Mom Dance. Here’s how that works. Kid falls down, Mom stands up. Kid gets up, Mom sits down. That’s it.

But as the years went on, I began to find myself understanding a bit of what was going on down on that field. I don’t know how it happened, I’m thinking osmosis. Big mistake, though. Because the basic rules of football are stupid.

Don’t believe me? Try this: Find any man who is a football fan (any straight man) and tell him that a down is when the guy with the ball falls down. He will immediately say “No!” and launch into some long and complex definition that when you really listen just means a down is when the guy with the ball falls down.

But I digress.

So now that I am gaining this great understanding of Football (which seems to have unwittingly caused a shift in the universe which I believe may be responsible for all of the natural disasters of the past decade. Sorry world, I didn’t know.), I began to recognize just how really freaking stupid the Youth Football League rules were.

They managed to take one of the toughest sports there is (second only to Rugby - Rugby is #1 tough - Rugby players eat their dead), and suck all of the competition out of it.

Here are some of their rules – I refer to this as “The Dumbass guide to Noncompetitive Competitive Sports.”

• Every kid makes the team.

• Every kid gets to play at least 10 plays per game.

• At the end of the season, every kid gets a trophy.

This one is the worst: If any team wins by more than 35 points, the coach of the WINNING team is suspended for the next game. Are you freaking kidding me??

They punish them for winning! How can it possibly be beneficial to encourage children NOT to play to their full potential?

“We don’t want the other (LOSING) team to feel bad.”

They should feel bad – THEY SUCK!

All those “how to be a parent” books really fucked us up. Our job as parents isn’t to remove all obstacles from their path so they slide through life without expending any effort. Our job is to prepare them for just how crappy life can be. Life isn’t fair. It’s not supposed to be fair.

How will they ever learn to improve if they never lose? How will they ever learn to fight for what they want if they never fail?

At one game, a mother actually wanted the coach to stop the game and move the players around because the kid guarding hers was bigger than him. I scored lots of points with the Dads when I said, “Lady, it’s football, not a tea party!” I wasn’t too popular with the Moms after that.

I understand the desire to make things easier for your kids. But I think we’ve taken it too far. In our zeal to make life smooth and easy and warm and fuzzy for our kids, we have done them a huge disservice. If they never know what it feels like to fail (BAD), they will never truly appreciate how it feels to win (AWESOME).

So let them fall, slap a bandaid on it and shove them back into play. By the time they figure out that we were just winging it at this parenting thing, they’ll have kids of their own.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Shame is not a bad thing

"Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to."
~Mark Twain

This politically correct “I’m-ok- you’re-ok-we’re-all-perfect-we-never-fail-because-that-would-make-us-feel-bad” crap that has spread like a cancer over the past couple decades has completely obliterated one of the most essential and valuable emotions we humans are capable of – Shame.

Did you follow the Tiger Woods scandal? More than a dozen women couldn’t wait to tell everyone (especially the press) that they had sex with Tiger. For a while there, they seemed to be slithering out from under every rock in America. My favorite was the porn actress who said she had a three-year “relationship” with Tiger and was upset when he didn’t mention her in his public apology.


Oh yeah, she hired that attention whore, Gloria Allred because her heart was broken. Which apparently could only be healed by the quick application of large wads of cash. She gave up her porn career for him! He told her she was the only one he was CHEATING on his WIFE with.

Her attorney said, “A woman ought to be able to believe a man when he tells her that."

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

A few weeks ago, we fired a guy for sending a photo of his “parts” to a co-worker through company email. Now he is disputing the unemployment decision to deny his compensation claim. Dude, how can you possibly defend this? What - where you come from was it “Take your Dick to Work Day?”

There was a time when these things were considered shameful. An affair with a married man wasn’t done openly, it was kept a secret because it was WRONG. Exposure brought… yep, you guessed it – SHAME.

But psychologists (semi-psychiatrists – you know, the ones who couldn’t get into Med school?) have decided over the past 20 or so years that shame is a bad thing. It hurts your feelings. It makes you feel bad. And we don’t ever want anyone to feel bad, right?

WRONG. You should feel bad, YOU FUCKED UP!!!

Shame is that hot, flushy feeling you get in that moment when you realize you haven’t lived up to your own standards. It doesn’t involve public humiliation. Doesn’t even matter if anyone else ever knows - it’s between you and yourself. YOU know and so, you feel shame.

Shame has gotten a bad rap over the years. There’s nothing wrong with shame – we all feel it at one point or another (If you don’t, you should).

Shame is what motivates you to get your shit together. Without shame, we never take responsibility for our actions and therefore, never change, never evolve, never grow.

It’s been said that it is not our mistakes, but how we handle them that define us. So embrace your shame. Recognize it for what it is. It’s the internal alarm that keeps us progressing as human beings. It’s that kick in the ass we all need every once in a while.

So be ashamed. Acknowledge that you messed up. Then get your shit together and move on.

You’ll be a better person for it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

M Bear Ass yourself

So the other night the Sparky (the Spouse) and I went to a Jackson Browne concert (Shut up, the tickets were free).

Now, neither of us had a flipping clue who he is (Give us a break – the 70’s was nothing more than a cloud of funky-smelling smoke), so we Googled him. “Doctor My Eyes,” “Running on Empty,” Oh yeah, ok.

Not a big thrill, but the tickets were free and it was something to do on a Friday night.

Our seats were way over to the side, but not bad (they were free, remember?). And with the seats in front of us empty, we had a pretty unobstructed view of the stage. So far, so good.

About two minutes before the show started, two couples came stumbling in to fill the seats directly in front of us. There was Steve and his wife (didn’t catch her name), and another couple. Never got the second husband’s name, but he was sporting a snow white cottony afro sprayed to within an inch of shellac. With his deep tan and his white pouf, he reminded me of Lambchop.

Back to Steve- Steve is what you would call… how shall I put this… a loser.

You know that guy who never has been and never has any hope to be hip, cool or even close? The guy who is always just one beat off when everyone’s clapping?

Yeah, him. That’s Steve.

Mrs. Steve – well she was something else. She was better looking than Steve and from the looks of it, in her youth she was a bit of a party girl. She was feeling no pain and in that narcissistic way of drunks, oblivious to the fact that there were other people on her planet.

She was yakking with her BFF who was half a section away- yelling across another quiet couple (We’ll call them Couple #2).

Now, Couple #2 seemed to be an easy going pair. They appeared friendly (and sober) and just there to enjoy the music. But, they couldn’t even hold a conversation between them with Mrs. Steve leaning over them to shout to her friend.

Throughout the first act, Mrs. Steve continued to aggravate Couple #2 – When they complained about her yelling back and forth to her friend during the music, she whipped out a cell phone the size of a Nook and began texting – of course the white screen lit up the entire section where we were sitting with a radioactive glow. To the point where Mr. Couple #2 (who was sitting right next to Mrs. Steve) had to cover his eyes to deflect the bright light.

At intermission it hit the fan. Mrs. #2 confronted Mrs. Steve and told her that her behavior was rude and disrespectful – talking and texting during the performance.

I think what really set her (Mrs. Steve) off, was when she (Mrs. Couple #2) told her to shut up and have another Gin and Tonic. Is there anything that offends a drunk more than the implication that they are indeed, drunk? At this point, the two wives were on their feet and the folks behind us had begun to choose sides and take bets in the Mrs. Steve vs. Mrs. Couple #2 conflict (Our money was on Mrs. Couple #2).

Meanwhile, old sad sack Steve was attempting to make peace and shut his wife up. It was pitiful- he was pleading, begging her to hush up because she was embarrassing him.

And the more he tried to shut her up, the louder and angrier she became.

Mrs. Steve was pumped up with righteous indignation, she just had to repeat the whole drama to Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop who were apparently a bit hard of hearing.

It went something like this:

Mrs. Steve: “They got pissed that I was talking, so I texted and he said it was BLINDING him!”

Mr. Lambchop: “They got what?”

Mrs. Steve: “BLINDED – By my phone!”

Mrs. Lambchop: “Who were you calling?”

Mrs. Steve: “No I was talking and they got pissed so I texted and he said it was BLINDING him!”

Mr. Lambchop: “Tell them to Fuck off!”

This went on and on for almost 10 minutes like one of those never-ending video loops (Shortened for your sake).

We had a moment of hope when Steve pointed out the rows of empty seats behind us and suggested they move, but Mrs. Steve (encouraged by Mr. Lambchop “Fuck’em! Tell them to Fuck off!”), she got that spiteful, mean girl smile and refused.

“I have every right to be here. What, I can’t TALK? You don’t tell me what to do, STEVE! I’m going to stay right here and bust their stones! I’ll stand here, and sing and dance all night long if I feel like it, STEVE!”

Now, since I was the person sitting directly behind Mrs. Steve, I would’ve paid cash money to see Steve grow a pair. It would’ve been awesome to see him shake off his humiliation, stand up and say, “Sit down and shut the fuck up, you ignorant twat!”

But no, not Steve. He just didn’t have it in him.

Every 10 minutes or so, Steve would climb over everyone and make a break for the bar in the lobby. He’d return with two drinks (Mrs. Steve was drinking “Effin Vodka!” don’t ya know). My guess is that he most likely slammed one down and then bought two more each time he hit the bar because it wasn’t long at all until old Steve was pretty well toasted.

Steve, who started out this little adventure as the party-pooper, the drag, put everything he had into a last ditch effort to out- drink the wife.

And when it came to being an obnoxious drunk, Steve apparently had way more practice. At one point, he attempted to bond with Mr. Couple #2 by throwing an arm around his shoulders and whispering (loudly) “If they go at it, you grab yours and I’ll grab mine, ok Buddy?”

He was the life of the party. Go Steve, Go!

But she was crashing. As Steve got louder, Mrs. Steve got quieter. Now it was Steve who was dancing in his seat and screaming “WOOHOO!!” while she tried desperately to shut him up. The shift in dynamic was fascinating.

Through all of this, Jackson Browne sang his heart out. The crowd loved him and by the time he wrapped it up with “Running on Empty,” most were on their feet, riding the wave of nostalgia, completely unaware of the drama unfolding in Section 100.

That’s when we made a break for it.

Funny – when Son O’Mine went to college, he made a comment that he was glad to be leaving the drama of high school behind. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that there is a large faction of people who are never able to evolve beyond the emotional maturity they have at age 15.

Those people like the Steves and the Lambchops who even in their 50's and 60's never outgrow the desire to show their ass in public.

He’ll figure it out soon enough.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Express yourself

A few weeks ago, we took a family trip to Baltimore for Son O'Mine's college commencement. We arrived on Friday afternoon and promptly headed for the Inner Harbor. My mother and sister-in-law (neither of whom had ever been to Baltimore), both avid readers, were suitably impressed with the massive Barnes & Noble standing center stage.

The first time we ever saw the Power Plant, my son commented, "Look - it's our family - ESPN Zone (Dad), Barnes & Noble (Mom) and The Hard Rock Cafe (me)!" So, each time we walk over the bridge, we always pause for a moment and admire The Holy Trinity.

After a couple hours perusing the stacks, we emerged from Book Heaven to find a parade going by on Pratt Street. Marching Bands, Dancers, a Kettle Drum group playing Michael Jackson - This parade had it all. And the folks watching were just as excited. The strange part - not one person we asked (and we asked plenty) had a clue what the parade was for.

And to most of them, it didn't really matter.

I told Son O'Mine that the parade was for him for his graduation. But he didn't buy it - I guess the days of the kid believing every fairy story Mom tells are over. Ah well, I knew it would have to end someday. So we enjoyed, we danced, we cheered and once the parade had passed, we strolled back to our Hotel. The doorman clued us in - the parade was for Preakness which was the next day. Ah ok.

Over the course of the weekend, we ate ourselves into a stupor (Acropolis in Greek Town is to die for). Then on Monday, the commencement ceremony. Now, college commencements are generally a largely formal and impressive occasion. However, MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) is still, an art school. One of the sculpture professors wore a huge (gorgeous) Native American feathered headdress. Another professor (Fibers) was dressed head to toe in hot pink and neon orange. And that was just the faculty.

The students were even more creative in their commencement ensembles. One student had an interesting suit that lit up - giving the impression he was covered in fireflies. Son O'Mine - he wore a viking helmet.

It was a bittersweet day - the kids vacillated between excitement about the future and a sadness to be leaving the MICA campus. It is perhaps the most nurturing and supportive environment that an artist can experience. In his 4 years there, we have watched our son grow and mature as a person and an artist and we are grateful to the administration and faculty of MICA.

Then, after all the fun, the hours in the car, moving 4 years of accumulated stuff back home...

We arrived home to find that the Bear also had a new outfit. A patriotic sequined hat and bowtie - and the stars and stripes speared through the heart. I expect this one will last till July 4th.

Perhaps he's just expressing himself.

Funny thing is that the Bear is simply out of place here. I know that if he were transplanted to MICA, he would be embraced fully and celebrated in his 'Bearness.'

And I'm sure he'd have much more inventive outfits.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Have your camera ready..."

I was at work when I got the text from my husband.

"Have your camera ready - they changed the Bear."

Oh good grief, what now?

As I made the 45 minute commute home, various bizarre and demented visions danced through my head.

Spring flowers?


Pink Flamingos?




Well... at least they picked the right team.

Friday, April 9, 2010

As if his humiliation was not complete

An Easter Basket?



Come on...


These people have no shame.

On behalf of humanity I apologize to bears everywhere.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Makeover

Ahh, Spring.

Time to put the winter duds away and freshen up your look for the warmer weather.

So the Bear got a makeover. New face paint, bright red lipstick and a ring of perky daffodils.

Just what every bear needs.

I wonder if our neighbor ever thought when he grew up, he'd be putting lipstick on a wooden bear. Isn't that every little boy's dream?

You're never fully dressed without a smile...

Actually before they painted, I was on my way to the store and I saw the neighbor's wife out there with a garden hoe digging around the bear's feet. I was so tempted to slam on the brakes and snap a pic...

How perfect would that have been? I could've titled the post "Ho'in for the Bear."

I really need to become a ninja photographer...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jonesing for a dog...

There he is.

My dream dog.

How can you not love that face?

But... I'm not allowed to have pets.

I broke the last one we had.

You see, we had this cat. Cody. We didn't choose him, he chose us. When they sold the farm across the street, the barn cats scattered. Cody showed up on our front porch one day. He was a scrawny looking tabby cat with one extra long canine tooth and a scar on his right ear.

I was working nights at the time, so I didn't notice as much. But one Saturday afternoon, my husband mentioned "There's some cat who keeps trying to get into the house." As he said this, Spousal One was filling a dish with cat food and another with water and leaving them on the porch.

Not exactly designed to send the feline away.

So, we had a new cat. Now, I love cats, I've always (till now) had cats, but most of them were females. This particular cat was male.

Completely, absolutely, without a doubt MALE.

He had one long canine tooth that was so long it hung below his chin. This cat was a grunting, farting, furbag with the worst breath you could ever imagine. He smelled like something crawled inside him and died.

He was an enigma. A very affectionate pet, but he'd disappear for weeks at a time. We suspected that he was cheating on us. That he had another family somewhere. Because he always came back from these little vacations looking well fed and happy.

When Cody was with us, we enjoyed him, but he had this one bad habit of darting in front of vehicles when they drove in the driveway. More than once, we said "One of these days, that cat's going to get squooshed."


One day I came back from shopping and as I came into the driveway, I felt a *thump* heard a "meow" and the cat dragged himself out from under my Jeep.

I never saw him till it was too late. We raced him to the vet, but there was nothing they could do for him. So, I held him in my arms as the vet gave him the injection that would send him up to Kitty Heaven.

Now I have been "Pet-less" for the past several years and I have to say it's weird. We've always had some sort of pet in the house whether it was cats, dogs, gerbils, turtles, hermit crabs or birds.

On one hand, it's a bit of a relief - we can pick up and go away for a weekend without having to make arrangements for pets.

But I have to admit, I am longing for a pet. I've got my heart set on a bulldog. Either an English Bulldog like the one above or maybe a French Bulldog which is a smaller version with bat ears.

I know it's selfish. We both work, and Son O'Mine is away at school...

But look at that face...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring has sprung

Several years ago, I had a root canal in a front tooth. That little one between the two major front teeth and the canine.

Saturday, while eating multi-grain bread, I heard a "crack!"

Ut oh...

Ran to the bathroom, checked my teeth - couldn't see any cracks, brushed my teeth vigorously - nothing loose.


A couple hours later, I went grocery shopping (in torrential rain) and slipped coming into the house - my tongue hit the tooth and out it popped.

I looked like a Jack-o-lantern.

In full hysterics, I called my dentist. God bless her, she met me at the office at 6:00 on a Saturday night in the middle of a monsoon to fix my tooth (temporary fix).

Now, you have to picture my dentist. She's an excellent dentist, but she is also young, petite and from Kentucky - and she sounds exactly like Hanna Montana. And she's perky. So damn perky.

So there I sat, in the chair, contemplating how quickly I went from a not bad looking woman to a toothless old hag while Hanna Montana chattered on in that chipper way of hers.

The upshot is, I could get a bridge, for $3000 but that would put stress on the adjoining teeth - so a dental implant is the way to go - for $3500. Why not? And guess how much my insurance policy covers?

Nothing. Zip, zilch, nada.

Good news! This implant process can take up to 7 months! So I have plenty of time to pay it off! Lucky me. The only positives I see in this are that it can be fixed - and the periodontist will do the implant itself. I like him. He gives me Valium.

Today, it is Spring.

Gorgeous day - 72 degrees. Sun shining, birds chirping.

And where am I?

I'm inside waiting for the furnace repair guy to come. AGAIN.

5 visits, $1300 in furnace repair bills in the last month and the furnace shut off in the middle of the night and won't re-set.

So here I sit, waiting for the guy who I believe can be claimed as a dependent on our taxes.

Happy Freakin' Spring.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Another week -

My company was forced to do some down-sizing this week. I still have a job and for that I am grateful, but I am still sorting out the impact this has had on me.

You see, in August of 2008 I was offered a new position at work. It was something new, a challenge and I was excited about it. I'd be reporting to a woman I didn't know well at all. We worked in different buildings and had almost no contact. As soon as I accepted the job, I was told that my new boss would be leaving within a week. She was relocating to a facility in another state. I would still report to her, but now it would be from 2,500 miles away.

I wasn't sure how or if this whole thing would work. But it did.

Over the past year and a half, she and I spent no more than 8-10 days in the same state. And yet, we developed through phone, email and IM an amazing relationship. What evolved from that daily electronic connection is a profound bond of mutual trust, honesty and respect. She has been there for me every step of the way with encouragement, support and the occasional kick in the ass when needed. I like to think I was able to do the same for her.

This past week, our company closed down that other facility and this brilliant lady is out of a job. I know that it won't be for long. She is strong, positive and enormously talented. I have no doubt that she will find another position. I only hope they appreciate what a treasure she is.

As for me, this week has been a blur. We knew this was coming. Correction: we knew *something* was coming. (You'd have to have your head up your ass not to notice that the business had dropped by 50%.) She and I talked about it and tried to prepare as best we could.

The axe fell on Wednesday. It was immediate and well-orchestrated. Within an hour of the facility closing, all of those people disappeared from email and IM. I understand that management must operate this way to preserve what's left of this company if we have any hope of recovering. Logically, intelectually, I understand this. I've been through this before with other companies.

It's never easy. Layoffs suck - for everyone. For those who lose their jobs, for those who have to deliver that news and for those left behind to wonder if they're next. No matter how prepared you think you are, it still hits you like a sucker punch in the gut.

The rest of the week was filled with re-organizational meetings. More blurs. Notes, discussions, redistribution of the work, etc, etc, etc. Focusing on the task at hand makes it a little easier to hold back the grief.

I am heartbroken.

Driving home on Friday, I finally let loose the tears I'd been holding back for days. And in that release, I understood. If you had asked me a month ago, I'd have told you I loved my job. Loved everything about it, found it fullfilling and challenging. Every day a new adventure! Yes, I loved my job.

What I realize now is that I loved working for this woman. It was not the process, it wasn't the work, it was the boss who made my experience there each day such a joy.

It was her. Her name is Laura.

She was my boss.

She is my friend.

We will keep in touch. We promised each other. Phone calls and emails. Yes, if I am sure of anything it's that this friendship will endure.

And one day for sure, we'll find ourselves together on a beach somewhere, sipping margaritas.

So long, my friend.

For now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Into every life... a little rain

This has been one hell of a week.

On Monday, we had to replace the tank and pump on our well. To the tune of $2200. Not a big shock, we knew it was coming and had budgeted for the expense (Thank you, IRS!).

What we didn't expect was that on Tuesday night, our home would fill with fumes (much like tires burning) and when we checked the basement, we found the floor covered with water. Now our basement is blessedly water-tight so even though it was raining, we knew this was something else.

Several hours later, the repairman left us, with a bill for repairing the Hot Water Heater (the source of the leak) for $350 and another separate bill for unclogging the furnace (the source of the fumes) for $675. He also informed us that he'd have to return on Thursday to replace the pipe leading from the furnace into the chimney.

After that visit, he gifted us with an invoice for another $700.

Along with all this, we have seen torrential rains this week and a small leak in the roof has turned into a larger mess. So we tried to sleep and ignore the drip, drip, drip into the strategically placed buckets.


This wasn't a totally negative week. There were some random bright spots.

I discovered that my Tinkerbell pin (roughly valued at $1.99) had fallen off my lunch bag. I was positive she most likely dropped in the parking lot and had been the victim of rain/snow/ice and tires... but no, she was found (clean, dry and undamaged) and passed on to a friend whom I happened to bump into.

And for some reason, just by chance (I was clearing out old emails), I opened an email which informed me that I needed to download the new antivirus for my new netbook because the existing trial program expired 2/25. When I looked at the date on my desktop, there it was "Thursday, 2/25."


So... I scrambled to D/L the new program, installed, all good... and then I thought... "Wait a minute, it's Wednesday!"

The date on my netbook was off by a day - so I was able to get my antivirus all straightened out before it actually expired.

It's funny - the last time we were hit with these types of household disasters was 20 years ago. We were a young couple in our first home, with a 2 year old son. We were both laid off from our jobs in the same week and within days, the well pump and the furnace died.

My reaction at the time, was panic, "We're going to lose our house!" To which my husband replied "Yep, we probably will."

This did nothing to calm my hysteria. (Note to new husbands: If you learn nothing else, learn when it is appropriate and even expected to lie to your wife.)

20 years later, our reactions are somewhat different. Life does that to you. This time he said,"It'll be fine, don't worry."

After the third repair bill, his response was a shrug, "It is, what it is."

Then we went out to dinner.

Life has a way of taking the edge off things. I've learned not to stress about things I can't control. I try to find joy in the simple things in life. This year for Christmas, along with my netbook I asked for and received Tinkerbell floormats for my Jeep.

Not a huge thing, but I begin and end each day with a smile at the start of my hour-long commute.

The moral of this story - find what makes you smile.

For me - it's Tink.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bear in a Beehive

This past week, we had what they call a "Typical New England Storm."

By that, I mean that the Weather Peeps predicted 2-4 inches. When all was said and done, we had a foot of new snow.

We're used to that in this part of the country.

Just a couple of weeks ago, they predicted 1-2 feet of snow. Schools and businesses decided to be proactive and began announcing cancellations the day before. I had a Doctor's appointment scheduled on the day of the storm. They called the day before to confirm that I'd be there. They called again the morning of the storm at 7 am to cancel my 9:15 appointment.

The snow didn't start until 11:00 am.

When the storm was over, we had between a half and three quarters of an inch on the ground. And for this, the entire state came to a screeching halt.

But if there's one thing we've learned, it's that we just never know what we're going to get. The weather in New England is predictable in its unpredictability.

It is what it is.

We've also learned to appreciate the beauty of the snow. That pristine whiteness only lasts a milisecond because once the plows and the sand and the salt start distributing, we're left with a brown tinge over everything.

But in that moment, as I was shoveling the front walk, I happened to notice that my Neighbor Bear was sporting a new "do."

My son has a favorite fur-lined Elmer Fudd hat that he wears all winter.

But I think I'm partial to the Bear's Beehive.

Can't wait to see what he does for Easter.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sue's Bear

So my friend, Sue lives in the next town. She got quite a chuckle when I showed her this blog. "Who in their right mind would put a bear on their lawn? They must be nuts. Glad they're next door to you and not me!"

Oh yeah, Sue had some fun with it...

Until recently.

"I hope you're happy!"

I didn't know what she was talking about until she went on to say that in the center of her town, there was now ... a bear!

Right in front of the Town Hall.

As you can see, this bear is quite a bit different than my own. With his light muzzle and rounder ears - he bears a slight resemblance to Fred Flintstone.

So, there he sits. In front of the Town Hall. I wave to him every morning and night when driving to and from work.

"Who in their right mind would put a bear in front of the Town Hall?"

I'm thinking perhaps it's someone with a deep-seated political grudge...

Because the way he's sitting... he looks like he's taking a dump in that tree...

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Do you think Bears ever get tired of hibernating?

Do they poke their heads out of the den and think, "What? More snow? Enough already!"

Do they ever think, "Groundhog Tartare" sounds pretty tasty?

We live in Connecticut. We're used to snow and this year it seems like we've caught a break in the snow department.

Son O'Mine, however is in school in Baltimore. So far, the snowiest winter on record there. The last report said they have received 79 inches of snow this year...

You see, here in New England, we "get" snow. We expect it, we prepare for it and there is a finely structured process for handling it. Plows and sand trucks are perfectly choreographed to clear the highways and byways. Residents know to shovel their walks because most municipalities have a fine if you do not clear your walks. We know from experience to shovel several times during the storm rather than wait till it's over.

We "get" snow.

Folks in the Baltimore/DC area... not so much.

We were in Baltimore a few years back for Parent's weekend at his school. There had been some accumulation of snow the week before. I really thought he was exaggerating when Son O'Mine said "Mom, they don't know what to do with the snow!" Until I saw it with my own eyes.

Streets had been plowed exactly one plow's width. Changing all two lane streets to One-Way. Sidewalks were shoveled exactly one shovel's width - some only had garden shovels so those paths were walked one foot in front of the other.

And the parking... If you've never been to Baltimore, there is little to no off-street parking. So it appeared that some residents would take aim for a snowbank and floor it. We saw cars rammed into snow, or parked precariously at a 60 degree angle atop a two foot high pile of snow, nose pointed to the sky.

I don't mean to pick on Baltimore. If you've never been there, it's like nowhere else in the world. It's easy to fall in love with Charm City.

That's why I think we in New England should take these folks under our wing and mentor them in the fine art of snow removal and navigation. Perhaps we can enlist the help of several NY residents to teach them the Hokey-Pokey of alternate side of the street parking.

Of course, if global climate change continues, we may just have to share this information with the folks in Atlanta... and Miami...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy Holidays...

Just when we thought your humiliation had reached it's peak...

The santa hat.

And if that's not festive enough - those candy canes light up with a spooky red glow at night. So rather than the holiday display intended, the impression is that you are being burned at the stake.

This could possibly qualify you for sainthood, Mr. Bear.

Bear D'arc... has a nice ring to it...

I'm inclined to pipe in some Johnny Cash music...

"I stepped into a burning ring of fire..."