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.