Archive for March, 2012

Station change

March 31, 2012

We have a rock station in Southern California, KCAL, that Mike and I listened to in the late ’80s.

One March 31 we were parking outside a restaurant, where we meant to have a beer. Before Mike turned the ignition off, the disc jockeys mentioned they were in countdown — 45 minutes left of KCAL.

They were crying. We looked at each other, “What?”

We waited. At the next break they told those just tuning in that the station was purchased, and would change to a country-western format. It would be KCOW.

We sat in protest. KCAL was iconic. This was not OK.

As it came closer to midnight, the program went into full good-bye mode. People were calling. Memories were shared. We sat in the car.

At the stroke of the hour there was a second of silence, and then a drawn-out cow’s moo.

I caught on.

A hick-voiced jockey came on talking about the incoming era of beer, dogs and trucks.

Mike caught on.

The jockey gave it up. “Gotcha,” yeah, he did. “April Fools.”

Mike turned the ignition back to start, and we just went home.

Sick day

March 30, 2012

I have a nasty lung thing going on. Mostly I’m staying in bed.

The last time I felt this icky I had strep throat. The kids were 4 and 6, and daddy was on full-time kid duty, because I was mostly staying in bed.

One afternoon he had to go to a place, and the kids climbed on the bed with me to be supervised.

There’s only so much we could do to pass the time. By early evening I was teaching them how to make prank phone calls.

We were calling The Uncles in Boulder, and giving them the classics. Yes, their refrigerators were running.

Our last call was to Uncle Jer. Could he name three cars that start with P? If so, according to my son’s little 6-year-old voice, he would win a million dollars from KWZY fm.

Jer listed Pinto, Plymouth and Pontiac.

All together now: I’m sorry, those cars all start with gas.

Jer started to cry. “I miss you guys.”

Aw. He wasn’t even mad about the million dollars.

A profundity

March 29, 2012

My high school drama teacher used to say that when you call something ‘stupid,’ you’re really saying you don’t understand it.

I thought this was insightful. I still do.

Everyone else seems to think it’s stupid.

A little more information than you want

March 27, 2012

My husband is celebrating his birthday today, so I’m blogging about one of the reasons I love him so.

He expresses appreciation for everything.

Affection is not excluded.

For our whole marriage everytime we’ve been intimate, he’s said, “Thanks for putting out.”

Not to be out-appreciatived, I always reply, “Thanks for putting in.”

A timely untimely death

March 25, 2012

For as long as I’ve known my husband, he’s ridden his bike to work. He currently works so far from home it takes a half hour by car.

There is a town between the one we live in and the one he works in. To get there, he takes a long, straight road through a bunch of nothing.

At the beginning of the school year he came home with a bag of safety goodies from the bike shop — mostly lights, flashing and otherwise, that would afix to him and face in all directions.

This threw me into a panic. He could get hurt. People speed on that long strip of nothing. I couldn’t sleep that night.

The next morning, as always, he put a hot cup of coffee by my bed, kissed me goodbye and pedaled off. I didn’t want him to ride. I spent the day thinking about what I would do if I got that phone call.

That evening while I fixed dinner, Dr. Phil told me all about bicyclists who were killed by texting teen drivers. Quelle coincidence. Their wives and children pleaded for teens to stop texting and driving. Why weren’t they pleading for fathers to stop cycling?

The next day I learned that my friend’s husband had died. He was my husband’s age.

I went to the funeral and heard my friend, who has kids my kids’ ages, say that the day started like any other. He put a cup of coffee by the bed and kissed his wife goodbye before heading out on a bike ride.

What was going on? I felt like I was being sent a message.

Mid-ride he didn’t feel well. He set the bike down to rest and just died.

I couldn’t stop watching her. She was living everything I was afraid of. I wanted to help her.

After about a month this feeling of doom somehow eased. I guess it was nature’s way of keeping me sane. I wasn’t going to stop him riding to work.

In fact I didn’t want to stop him.

I just want to keep him.

My cousin

March 24, 2012

While I was out on St. Patrick’s Day I apparently made to sell one of the Beatles on my cousin.

Both he and she are recently divorced and seeing other people, but I didn’t let that deter me. They’re both such great catches I had to meddle. They’re single, good-looking, educated, successful and fun.

Here’s my favorite story about my cousin.

A couple of summers ago my brood went to Maine with my mother- and sister-in-law to sprinkle my father-in-law’s ashes.

While we were there, my mother-in-law got and accepted an offer on her New York home. She and my husband hurried back to deal with things.

The kids and I took advantage of the available few days for an impromptu trip to Harvard, where my son intended to apply.

The first day we spent at Harvard.

We set out to spend the second day touring Boston, but nothing went right. Right off the bat we got lost on the subway between the Sam Adams brewery tour and the city.

Our spirits were still high, though. We saw several people on the subway we thought were people we knew from home. We started joking that everybody’s twin was in Boston. It became a game.

By the time we found an ATM in the city, it told me my card was no good. It was early evening before we had cash in hand and had found the tour business.

We managed to get on one of those narrated trams you can get on and off of all day. It was so late we were told we would have time only to get on and stay on.

The last stop before it looped back was Harvard, so that was handy.

The guide/driver was hilarious but clearly rushing. If no one was waiting at a stop, we went right on by, hearing landmarks’ stories but seeing them as a blur.

But in front of the site of the Boston Massacre, some tourists detained us. They had an issue with their tickets the driver tried to resolve. It was the first real stop we made.

My son said, “I see another twin! Doesn’t that look like aunt Vicki? And ohmygoodness! The guy with her looks just like her husband.”

The couple had stopped to do something to their stroller right under our open side of the tram.

The resemblance was amazing. I called out their names.

Here’s how amazing the resemblance was: They called our names back to us.

Click here for photo

The firing story

March 22, 2012

Last night ‘Uncle Mike’ came over and jammed with the family on Guitar Hero. I rock. The machine told me so.

Mike was intimidated by the guitar, and wasn’t going to touch the microphone for nobody, so he was drum guy.

But the dots came at him too fast.

In the end Mike worked the foot pedal. He rocked.

I’ve been friends with Mike since I was 17, and he was 22.

I had worked as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant, where the bar had a proper dance floor, disc jockey and tables. After I had been there about six months, the manager built a sports bar and grill next door and asked me to come over to train the hostess staff and work there managing them. I had to dress like a cheerleader. Fun fact: That is the same building where I later sang with a cover band. It is currently Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club.

I became friends with one of the waiters, Hal, who dressed like a baseball player. He was going through something with his girl and we would talk after work.

One day he introduced me to his little brother, whose name a I promptly forgot. He would be working as a busboy with me next door.

His shifts must have always been when I was at the sports bar, (which had a proper dance floor and pool tables), because my concerns about having to address him as ‘Hal’s brother’ never came about.

Then one night I was at the Mexican restaurant and I heard rumblings about two busboys getting fired. It seems the one that was old enough bought a beer for the other, who was underage, right in the restaurant’s bar.


I knew who Rod was, but I didn’t have a face to assign the name ‘Mike,’ so I assumed that was Hal’s brother.

Then Mike walked in, wearing his uniform and carrying his apron. I was confused, “What are you doing here? You’re fired.”

I guess he was the last to know.

My agreeing that he was innocent kicked off a lifelong friendship. He assumed Rod was 21.

Rod got his job back.


The University of Virginia story

March 21, 2012

My daughter had decided years ago she wanted to go to the University of Pennsylvania. Then this fall she started looking into the University of Virginia. The more she read about it, the more she thought it was a good match.

I just got a call from her yesterday from Washington, D.C., where she’s spending her spring break. She got an opportunity to tour the campus. She even ate dinner in the dining hall with the students. She’s sold.

This is ironic, because if that college hadn’t made an uncommon error, she wouldn’t exist.

My husband had applied to UVA, Columbia and CU Boulder for graduate school. Columbia sent him a rejection letter; UVA sent him a  rejection letter; and CU said come on over.

It was the environmental movement in Boulder that ended him up as a protester in Hawaii where I was sent as a reporter.

Shortly after he began his master’s degree at CU, he received a second letter from UVA wondering why he never responded to his acceptance letter.

Thank goodness.

The mac n’ cheese story

March 19, 2012

I have an update on my friend recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She had her surgery and is doing great. She looks great. She feels great. I’m proud to report she rejected the treatment suggested by her first doctor — a mastectomy — and instead found a doctor who would do a simple excision.

I e-mailed her when her surgery was scheduled, asking if i could take dinner over for her family that night. She e-mailed back that her daughter requested I not make mac n’ cheese.

She said I knew why. I do.

I was having company for dinner one night when my son was a baby. My guests had told me that their children were finicky eaters, but that they would eat macaroni and cheese.

I put the grown-up meal to simmer and set to making the mac n’ cheese 15 minutes before my guests were to arrive. Uh-oh. I had used all the milk in my main dish.

There was no running to the store. By the time I scraped the ice off the windshield, shoveled the drive and warmed the engine people would be here. Further, the baby was sleeping in his crib.

And it seemed ridiculous to purchase milk from a cow, when I had several cups of human milk, for free, right there in my bra.

Naturally, I pulled out the measuring cup, undid my blouse and squirted out a quarter cup — quickly, hoping my guests weren’t running early.

That family never knew what I did.

Apparently this story scares children, who grow up afraid to eat my cooking.

My Oldest Friend cracks me up

March 18, 2012

Today I was desperate for gas, and had to go to a place that wasn’t my usual gas station. Also I was starving, so I went in the station’s mini-mart.

I was pissy about this, because I was paying more for my gas than I would have at my usual spot, but I took a turn for the happy when I saw Freshen Up gum by the counter.

I thought this stuff had gone the way of the Sunshine Family and Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific.

For people younger than 30, Freshen Up was a gum that had gel in the center. It squirted you when you bit into it.

I was happy to see it, because it reminded me of an afternoon driving around with My Oldest Friend in the ’80s.

By my memory, we were listening to the radio, and a commercial came on for Freshen Up that went, “Smack dab in the middle, smack dab in the middle of the gum.” (If you listen to the attachment, you’ll see my memory is faulty. It was a Chewels gum commercial.)

My Oldest Friend shook her head, “I’m not getting it.”

What was she talking about?

“I am never going to chew that gum.” Oh.

“You don’t like it?”

“I’ve never tried it, but I don’t want to eat anything whose greatest selling point is the centeredness of the filling.”

How lucky am I, to have this person in my whole life?