Archive for June, 2012

Exclusion

June 30, 2012

Today I clicked on a link on My Oldest Friend’s blogroll. The post began, ‘I think my husband and I should divorce.”

She goes on to say she feels a little dirty enjoying the right to be married, earned by her heterosexuality. She likens it to being a member of a country club that excludes people of color.

I left this story as a comment:

When my son was in first grade his friends joined Cub Scouts. We explained to him that this group was in the news because gays and atheists were not allowed to be members, and that in this family we don’t join groups that exclude.

I got a call mid-year from one of his friends’ moms, who could barely talk through her laughter.

She had asked him why he hadn’t joined Scouts. He told her “I’m not allowed to be in Boy Scouts, cuz I might be gay.”

Close enough.

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The stabbing story

June 28, 2012

The other night when we were at my parents’ for Fathers Day dinner, my son was provoking his sister. She was swiping at him and he was holding her off with his massive armspan.

My grandmother, who is the sixth of nine children, said her brother Joe used to do that. He would just plant his hand on her head and hold her out of reach so she couldn’t fight back.

He was the fifth child, almost two years older than she. She said he was a bully.

“He pushed me too far,” she smiled. “One night at the table I picked up my fork and jammed it into his thigh.”

Reliving this stabbing made her look happy. I guess those were good tines.

I wasn’t happy. I knew what was coming.

“I’m gonna do it. One of these days, I’m jamming my fork into you,” said my daughter, who was suddenly looking happy.

 Thanks, Nana, for spreading this joy.

The Woodstock story

June 27, 2012

When I met my husband, (see parts I, II and III,) I knew he was the one. I sensed I had to be real with him — expose my flawed underbelly and let him reject or accept me.

I also knew I had to catch him before I could clean and scale him.

So I put out some hippie bait: “I was born during Woodstock.”

This is true. Woodstock was a three-day musical happening beginning Aug. 15 and ending Aug. 17, 1969. I born on Aug. 16, 1969 — 3,000 miles away. But during.

Two months later when I had the man securely on the hook, he flew out to the Bay Area to take me to my family reunion. This is when  I introduced him to my parents.

He broke the ice by addressing my mother, “I heard you were at Woodstock.”

Oh, how I hate to start a sentence with ‘technically.’

I’ve since established credibility with 20 years of honesty, but, just like in a story My Oldest Friend’s husband tells, he has never let me live this down.

My dead pool

June 26, 2012

I run a dead pool. This is a common game in newsrooms. People pay an entry fee and compile a list of famous people.

From New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, if someone on the list dies, the player who chose him gets 100 points minus the celebrity’s age.

John is already at 180 points. My cousin Christi is close behind with 146 points, and my very first boyfriend is in third with 123 points. All three of them predicted Jane Goody’s death. She was 27.

I remember the year JFK Jr. died. One reporter had made that canny pick, and got 61 points for it. He was the winner that year.

Now my group is having a hot couple of days. Farrah Fawcett was worth 38 points. Seven of my 13 players had her on their lists.

Jacko netted three other players a surprise 50 points. It’s the deaths that aren’t a sure thing that make the game fun.

And the aw shucks factor: three players had Ed McMahon on last year’s list, but not one kept him.

I run the thing, and have never, in all the years I’ve played, earned a single point.

Oh well. I have other skills.

The grocery store story

June 24, 2012

I love to cook. I plan every week’s menu on Saturday morning and tape it to the refrigerator. Tonight we’re having chicken marsala, watercress and citrus salad, and pecan rice pilaf.

My husband usually comes home, leans against the fridge and says over the crumpling sounds of my menu, “Smells wonderful. What’re we having?”

Then I have to move my complaining bracelet.

He also stands under the calendar and asks if we have any plans today.

There. Now my complaining bracelet is back where it started.

My point is I put work, time and love into nutritious meals for my family, and am proud to make almost everything from scratch. (Please pretend you did not read the post that begins, ‘My son and I were at McDonald’s.’)

Last summer, I got it in my head to teach my son how to make his favorite dish, his being only three years from going off to college. I pulled out the recipe and had him make a grocery list.

We set out to shop.

This happened to be during my husband’s trip to visit his mother in Pennsylvania. My kids and I were whooping it up in his absence. We went to the beach, played board games and watched reruns of “Good Times” in our camping tent, which took up the whole kitchen.

This wild abandon infected our trip to the store. We were throwing all kinds of crap in the cart. There was Chef Boyardee, Ben & Jerry’s, Dino Nuggets and Pasta Roni in there. Whatever. Looks good. Toss it in.

We rounded the corner by the cheese and saw a girl I knew in high school. She was and is a beautiful, popular blonde. She was and is sweet and friendly.

After an enthusiastic round of ‘You look great,’ I introduced her to my kids and headed for the checkout.

My son wrapped his arms around me. “I’m so sorry, Mom. Of all the times….”

Do I look bad? What?

“I tried to block the cart,” he looked genuinely sorry, “but I think she saw the Pasta Roni.”

I hadn’t thought to be embarrassed, but once he’d mentioned it I like to died.

If anyone sees Jill, please make excuses for me.

I am she who laughs last

June 23, 2012

I got my husband a french press travel mug for Fathers Day.

He hoisted it and my grandfather’s voice echoed in my memory.

Everytime he took his first sip of coffee, he raised the cup in salute and said, “Here’s mud in your yo.”

All my life he said this, and I just got it.

A smaller earthquake story

June 22, 2012

My mother asked at our Fathers Day dinner tonight, “Did you feel the earthquake this morning?”

I came home and looked it up. It was a 3.3 at 7:30. Is she sleeping on a seismograph? I don’t think I would have felt that if I was expecting it.

I’m glad she brought it up, because it gives me the opportunity to tell you another earthquake story.

Last summer I was sitting in the breakfast nook, which has a flimsy-feeling floor, when my husband stood behind me dancing or some such.

I felt a jiggle.

I made my this-might-be-the-beginning-of-The-Big-One face, half standing with my palms flat on the table, and said, “Did you feel a little earthquake?”

My husband shook his head like I’m an idiot. “I did that. Here, I’ll do it again.”

He bent his knees and bounced. As he did this, I felt the floor roll and shake under me.

“Stop it!” I yelled, because for a minute I believed he was shaking the breakfast room.

No. He just happened to do that as a 5.5 earthquake struck.

Mike tried to get me in a catfight

June 20, 2012

Michael is here, waiting for my husband to take him to a lavender festival. I asked him what story I should tell today, and this is what he chose.

As with all my Uncle Mike stories, this one starts with “Mike and I were in a bar.”

We were sitting at a table with a friend we called Meatball when Mike recognized a woman sitting on a barstool.

He hatched a plan, “Go over to that woman,” he told me, “and ask her if her name’s Teri. Then poke her in the chest and tell her you’re going to kick her ass. Tell her you heard she was sleeping with your boyfriend.”

OK.

Teri was Amazonian. She was an athlete.

I was 5 foot 2, under 100 pounds, and I wouldn’t know how to make a fist.

“Then turn and point to me. I’ll smile and wave, and she’ll think it’s funny,” Mike said.

OK.

I went up to her hulking self and narrowed my eyes.

“You Teri?” I had to tip my head up to see her nod.

“I heard you’ve been sleeping with my man, and I’m gonna kick your ass!”

I turned aside to gesture to the table. There was Meatball, sitting alone and waving. She didn’t know from Meatball.

Uh-oh.

Thank goodness Michael knew she wouldn’t take the bait.

She said dismissively, “I probably am.”

I could have killed Mike, because I could’ve been killed.

The intruder story

June 19, 2012

School’s out for summer. My kids are home.

When I was a kid, my parents were already at work by the time I got out of bed during break.

We lived in a big, old house on a busy street.

One morning in the middle of the summer I had gotten up and gone into the bathroom. Just before I flushed, I heard someone in the house. Someone with heavy footsteps.

I crept to the door and turned the lock quietly. Then I crouched next to the toilet behind the little wall dividing it from the tub. From there, I listened to the intruder opening cabinets in the dining room and pulling dishes out. That’s where the crystal was.

I pictured a guy in striped convict clothes with a Zorro mask emptying the dishes into a large sack.

He went from room to room. I tried periodically to figure out how to get out the window, but it was too high. I was a small 12-year-old.

Finally I resigned myself to my fate. I would be killed. At  some point he would try the bathroom door, and there was nothing I could do but wait.

I imagined my family hearing the news by phone. One at a time I pictured my aunts’ and cousins’ reactions.

I thought how I hadn’t appreciated it when I wasn’t scared.

Then I heard the intruder clear his throat. It was my dad.

I waited for him to do it again, because I wanted to be sure before I emerged.

By then I was mad. Why didn’t anyone tell me he was going to be home? He never stayed home.

I heard him say, “I wondered why you were in there so long” as I stomped off to watch Three’s Company.

The time my son went missing

June 18, 2012

I just read on www.cnn.com about a boy who went missing in 1955. It seems he’s just turned up.

His mother had parked her kids outside a bakery. After she paid for her cinnamon rolls she discovered an empty stroller. Her 2-year-old son and infant daughter were missing.

The baby was found a couple blocks away. I imagine the fruitless search for her son destroyed her. She must have had the worst kind of guilt.

When we see a parent looking for her child, my husband’s eyes well up. He’s been there once with each of ours, and the emotion of it comes right back to him.

I used to work nights at the newspaper in Boulder. One night we put the paper to bed before last call. A gang of us went across the street to Old Chicago.

For some reason I had Uncle Jer’s cell phone. It was one of two times I had it, and he was the only cell-phone owner I knew. By coincidence, the second time will be in the story of when my daughter went missing.

I had barely taken a sip of my Guinness when my husband called. Our 4-year-old wasn’t in his bed, or anywhere else my husband could see.

Then he made a confession. He had gone against my wishes and opened my son’s window to cool the room.

I was uptight about open windows in the kids’ rooms, or anywhere in the house if we were sleeping. JonBenet had just been abducted in December, a couple of Hop stops from our house.

I abandoned my beer and my friends. I could barely get my bike unlocked. My hands started shaking when I realized my husband wouldn’t have called until he had been looking a long time. He would have been sure the child was gone before scaring me.

Ultimately we found him. He had snuggled under the overhang on the foot of his bed, and was curtained in by his bedspread.

Having never slept near an open window before, he wasn’t used to the breeze.

That ended one of the worst hours of my life. I can’t figure how the Damman parents lived with that feeling for 54 years.

The Carnegie Hall story

June 16, 2012

Years ago I got a call from my daughter’s voice teacher. She was putting a group together to perform at various charity events in New York City. Most of the performers were high schoolers, and The Baby was a young-looking 11.

The last stop on the tour would be in Carnegie Hall, the director said.

My in-laws were visiting when we got the call, and my mother-in-law told me this story.

“I sang in Carnegie Hall,” she started.

“You did?” She doesn’t sing.

“Yes, when I was a child. My father and I went there to see a barbershop quartet. At the end of the concert the performers invited the audience to sing along. I opened my mouth and sang. Technically, I sang in Carnegie Hall.”

Well, she came closer than my daughter did. That part of her tour was canceled.

Sex change

June 15, 2012

There’s a news piece that Sonny and Cher’s daughter, Chastity, is beginning the sex-change process.

According to the story, and every other story you hear from transgenders, Chastity felt from birth to be actually a male. He was put in a girl’s body he never really claimed.

Now Chastity will undergo an attadictomy. (You have to say it out loud.)

This was one of my favorite jokes from when I was a teenager. I repeat it here with all due respect to Chastity and others undergoing this serious transition.

I have a friend who underwent a sex change the other way. I was so disappointed I didn’t get to use my joke. Luckily for me, the female name she chose is Denise.

At least I get to say I knew Denise when she was Da Nephew.