Archive for August, 2012

Celebrity encounters

August 31, 2012

Last night at the wedding reception, we were talking about experiences with celebrities. I shared that my daughter went on Disneyland’s rapids ride with Orlando Bloom and learned that my cousin’s girlfriend was once given a ride to shore from Rosie O’Donnell on her Jet Ski, (and the incident was mentioned on Rosie’s show).

One of my close friends’ husbands works in movies. Julia Roberts threw her baby shower. Jim Carrey gave her a bathrobe. She’s been drinking with Brad Pitt. I mentioned I’m crazy about Jason Bateman. She said, “He’s just sweet all the way through.”

But wait till you hear how cool I am.

As you may remember, one of my cousins was in the band Grandaddy. He was also a serious skateboarder, like his buddy, professional skateboarder and movie star Jason Lee. Remember his stunts in Mumford? Real.

One night we went to the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood. Grandaddy was performing; Elliot Smith opened. Jason Lee had gone all by himself, so he hung with us.

By ‘hung with,’ I mean stood near and made like he came in with.

This was right before My Name is Earl, but after Chasing Amy, Almost Famous and Vanilla Sky. It was way after Mumford.

After the concert we went backstage, which was in the basement. My cousin the rock star came over for hugs and kudos, and said, ‘Guys, this is Jason; Jason, these are my parents, my brother, and my cousins.’

Here’s the extent of my relationship with the movie star: I said, “Hi, how are you?” He popped open a beer and nodded. Then I said, “It’s getting late, we’re heading on home.”

I’m cool.

Another ghost story

August 30, 2012

Yesterday I went to my cousin’s wedding reception, (my goddaughter’s wedding was yesterday, too, and I had to choose.)

There was lots of family there I rarely see. I sat next to Uncle Monty and we started telling family stories — my favorite.

I told him I’d blogged The Refrigerator Story. I could tell by his face he knew which story I meant. He had been there.

He said the fridge still worked after, so “Mom” kept using it, but the handle wasn’t quite right. You had pull on it really hard. In the ’60s he noticed it in Unca Rob’s apartment.

Then he told me things I’d never heard. He told me about Mom’s second husband. The cousin/friend who stepped in after “Papa’s” murder.

Everybody called him “Daddy.” He died of a stomach ulcer.

“I saw him the weekend before he died, leaning against the house, holding his side.” Monty said he ran in the house to tell his grandmother, and she made I-don’t-care lips and waved him away. “They hated each other.”

I didn’t know.

After he died, Auntie Elsie and her husband Bill came to visit.

They stayed in Daddy’s room. During the night Elsie woke to see her husband standing in the window, arms spread, holding the curtains open.

In the morning she said to her man, “Hey what were doing in the window, and how come you tied the curtains back?”

Bill said, “I wasn’t and I didn’t.”

“But the curtains are still tied back.”

Everyone went to see. Not a lot going on that day, I guess.

My mom was among them, and can attest to the amazingness of this next part.

The curtains were indeed swagged back, but nothing was holding them that way. Elsie touched one, and they fell straight.

It was the Daddy ghost.

I guess he was trying to tell them he was dead — you know, that it was curtains for him.

The lottery

August 29, 2012

I listen to news radio on my way home from work. Today, there were four topics: the wildfires, the kidnappee who’s been found 18 years post, the lottery and the weather.

It was more than 110 degrees this afternoon. It was more than 100 degrees after dinner. It seems not everyone holds my appreciation for free heat.

The lottery, though, was stealing air time from the stuff I was interested in. People in line at the 7-Eleven were being interviewed. Each knew she was about to buy the winning ticket.

Just now my husband and I went to see The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is based on one of the best books I’ve ever read. (The movie is great, but loses the voice of the author’s narrative, which is where the book’s brilliance lay, in this bibliophile’s opinion.)

There was a scene that was not in the book, where they watch the lottery balls drop.

I came home and went to CNN.com, because I can’t help it. The poll question of the day is ‘Do you buy lottery tickets?’

Now I’m feeling stalked.

I have lottery issues. Why are the pots so big, but schools are still cutting out music and language programs? Didn’t the California ballot specify the exemption from the gambling prohibition was justified by schools’ getting a big cut?

And where are these ticket buyers coming from? Haven’t they seen the quip on the freeway, explaining that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math?

Really, I’m not here to judge anybody. I just want to enjoy my kidnapper-catch news and my heat.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving me two months of comfort. I’ll take those over a lottery ticket any day.

I was touched

August 24, 2012

The last of the Beatles’ birthdays is today. It’s George, wiping up the rear. Like the rest of us, he’s turning 42.

I guess we all go around talking at people and don’t realize which moments they’ll remember forever.

George said something to my husband and me a few years ago that touched me deeply.

He said he looks to our relationship with our kids as his goal with his own son.

I was overwhelmed by how much that meant to me. I make a point of remembering it often, as a means of appreciating what I have.

As if being George’s friend didn’t make me feel lucky enough.

I was dismissed from the PTA

August 23, 2012

Today is Gloria Steinem’s 77th birthday.

My mother grabbed the women’s lib movement of the early seventies with both hands and held on tighter than John Travolta to a mechanical bull.

She didn’t wear dresses. I was taught “housewife” was a dirty word. My bedtime stories came from Ms. magazine. At 3 I knew what ERA stood for. I knew Gloria Steinem’s birthday.

Naturally, I spent my childhood dreaming of taking my husband’s last name, wearing an apron and being an H-word.

When I refused to live with my boyfriend before we got married, my mom said, “Where did I go wrong?”

It was sheer rebellion that had me specify ‘I now pronounce you man and wife’ was the phrase to be used at my wedding. (Although it was sheer sassiness that had me specify ‘You may now kiss the groom’ follow it.)

When I quit my job and joined the PTA my mom gave me a bitter speech. “That’s just a clique for moms who don’t work. I tried to be in it, but they treat you differently if you have a job. And they schedule meetings so working moms can’t attend. They disapprove of moms who aren’t H-words.”

I heard this lots. I figured it for outdated if not emotionally skewed information.

When the kids moved from elementary to middle school, I ignored the PTA and joined band boosters. Go ahead and brag about knowing me — I was the vice president.

For my youngest child’s last year there, I joined the PTA on the hospitality committee. The PTA president — a close friend and fellow band booster — asked me to do this, based on my cooking or baking all the food for several band events.

I would be doing things like the welcome-back faculty breakfast and baked goods for teachers at Christmas, right up my alley.

There was another change at the beginning of that school year. I started working as a substitute teacher.

I know you think I’m about to concede my mother was right. I’m not quite that big a woman.

But I’m going to suggest it.

Several weeks before the Christmas break I did what the committee chairwoman asked: I pulled out my recipes and made a 15-item list of items I thought would be great for faculty gifts.  I was excited to do this. The previous year they had made Rice Krispy treats, half-dipped in chocolate.

I told the committee chair to pick two items. I would make them both.

I didn’t hear back for a long time. Then on Dec. 5 I got this e-mail, which I cut and pasted without altering:

I was talking with Sally today and she told me all that you have going on right now, with Substituting and all. You sound overly busy at an already too busy time of year. So I can’t in good conscienciousness ask you to make anything, let alone 400 of a bake item. And since we need to have them packaged and ready by the end of next week…  I think we will just go with the simpler idea of the dipped pretzels this time around.  Thank you so much for thinking about all this and in a less hectic time of life it would have been perfect to have your yummy treats.  I hope you agree.

I was gobstopped. That H-word had dismissed me because she found out I had a job.

Now, I’m not saying my mother was right, but I may give my daughter the same warning when her time comes.

Love

August 22, 2012

Today is my 19th wedding anniversary, so I mean to wax sappy.

I babysat an infant when I was 14. One afternoon I was talking to my junior high best friend’s mom, and I said, “I was singing this baby to sleep in my arms, and I understood how a mother would love her baby.”

She said, “It’s amazing, and it keeps getting stronger.”

I couldn’t imagine it.

When I was pregnant with my son, my husband was freaking out. I told him about the increasing love. He said, “Honey, that’s nonsense. I teach teen-agers. Surely the love wanes.”

He was serious.

I have found that my friend’s mom was right.

It’s true for my husband, too. I love him more every year.

At first, my love was about how good it felt to be together, and the excitement of feeling that way forever. It was about promise. It was the potential of future happiness. Also, I agreed with the values he told me he had.

Twenty years later, it’s not about what the future holds so much as what the past has shown. I’ve seen him consistently be a good man, when it would have been easier not to be. I’ve felt him care for me when I sick, when I was frightened, and when I had just delivered a big honking baby. I’ve watched him sacrifice for and live by his values.

At 20, if a 40 had told me I ain’t seen nothin’ yet, I would have said she didn’t understand how strong my love was.

And if a 60 said to me today I ain’t seen nothin’ yet?

I would think it’s impossible.

click here for picture

A miracle?

August 21, 2012

One summer we packed the kids plus Uncle Jer and Katherine in cars and drove to Southern California for a vacation.

At the end of the visit my mom dropped a bomb. The doctor had found a tumor on her cervix. It appeared to be growing rapidly.

In a week she would have surgery.

I put my suitcase back down and waved everyone but the babies back to Boulder. I would stay until 10 days after the surgery, to offer emotional support, tend to her post-op care and do the cooking and cleaning.

She had been through breast cancer in ’90, so we took this seriously.

On the day of the operation, the waiting room was packed with family. My grampa stayed home with my kids.

About an hour and a half into it, the surgeon came in looking sorrowful. “We opened her up and found tumors all over the place. There’s a big one we hadn’t even known about, because it’s hiding behind the intestine.” Or some such.

“We can get some of them out, but some are inoperable, so there isn’t a lot of point. We’re aborting the mission and closing her up.”

He shook his head, making another go at his sorrowful face, and walked out.

It was quiet in the waiting room. Then my grama stood up. She was calm and dignified. She strode out of the room.

I peeked out the door’s window and saw her in the hall with her back to the wall. I thought about my own daughter and left her to her privacy.

After a long time, I went to check on her. She was gone.

 Then she came back in and sat next to me. She leaned in conspiratorially, topped it off with a knee pat and said, “Everything is going to be fine.”

Was she losing it? Nothing was fine.

She smiled and began talking with Uncle Monty about the price of housing in Whittier.

I said, “Nana, are you OK?”

She said, “I visualized the doctor walking in and saying, ‘Everything’s OK. There’s no cancer.’ Then I went to the chapel and prayed for it to be me instead.”

This seemed to be final. She made that nod you make when you just replaced the batteries in your flashlight and you’re ready to get on with using it.

Then the doctor flung the door open. He had put on his congratulatory face and was smiling at us each in turn. “Everything’s OK! There’s no cancer.”

Holy crap.

“We did a freeze section on one of the tumors. It was fibroid tissue.”

Um. Wasn’t that ruled out early?

“We can’t figure it. She hasn’t had a uterus or a period in 13 years. Fibroid tumors are an impossibility. But that’s what they are.”

Shortly after, Nana began chemotherapy for macroglobulanemia, which is a cancer in the blood and bones.

I believe this was a coincidence. Nevertheless, if anyone sees me go into surgery, please show my Nana where the hallway is.

Mom’s voice in my head

August 20, 2012

I cleaned my house the night before my birthday party.

Our other house took days to clean. It was like painting the Golden Gate bridge.  I really appreciate having half the space and a more modern home when I clean.

My son came home in the evening, and every time he went into a room, he said, “It looks great in here!”

I used to say this to my mom when the house looked good, but she would always say, “No thanks to you.” So I stopped.

I thought of this, and how nice it was to hear that my work was noticable, and I just said, “Thank you” to my boy.

Mom called.

“Shall I come over and clean your house?”  At 8 p.m.?

“I cleaned it already.”

“Since you got home from work? It can’t be very clean.”

“Well my son came home and said the house looks great.”

“No thanks to him, I’m sure.”

I actually did not see that coming.

The concert story

August 19, 2012

In high school, I discovered the ’60s band Tommy James and the Shondells.

I loved all oldies — Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Supremes, The Beach Boys— but Hanky Panky was one tier higher in my book of brilliance.

Because I was the one with the car, my girlfriends knew all the words to Tommy James’ complete discography, liked it or didn’t.

We would pile in my little ‘Smo-mobile,’ roll down the windows and sing along — unreasonably loudly. We bounced with such vigor, people would see us at stop signs and start bouncing in their cars, even if we were holding still at the time.

The summer after high school, I saw an ad I couldn’t believe. Tommy James and the Shondells was to headline at the Greek Amphitheater, with The Turtles, Herman’s Hermits, The Mamas and The Papas, Tommy Roe and my other favorite, The Grass Roots.

I borrowed money to buy the most expensive seats, which were $50 each — a fortune — and worked extra shifts to raise the money. I was taking my best girlfriend as a birthday gift to both of us.

That would be My High School Best Friend, who turns 42 today.

On the morning of the concert, I went to an employee swim party at a coworker’s house, about 20 minutes out of town.

It was August, and it was hot. I drank a lot of watermelon punch.

Unbeknownst to me, there was everclear in it, which at the time I had never heard of.

By late afternoon, I was in a sorry state.

One of the waiters took me to his apartment, where I spent a lot of time throwing up. Somehow I managed to remember that My Best Friend needed calling, and even relayed the phone number.

I remember being surprised when she showed up to get me.

She drove me to my house to get clothes and the tickets. I waited in the car.

We got on the freeway, and my head was coming pretty clear. As we neared L.A., we started realizing we were ill prepared for the concert.

By that I mean we didn’t know where the Greek was, and I didn’t have any shoes.

My Best Friend turned the car around, and took me home.

No Hanky Panky, no Sweet Cherry Wine, no Draggin’ the Line.

But there was a lot of moany moany.

To every thing there is a season

August 18, 2012

Every year I pick something to try.

For instance, since I turned 35 I became skilled on roller skates, learned to  jazz dance, re-studied french and got hooked on football.

As of Sunday, I am not plucking my gray hairs out.

This may be the hardest one.

The Santa Claus story

August 17, 2012

All of the Beatles’ birthdays are within a week, with mine in the middle. Today is Paul’s.

Before Paul moved into my other house, he lived in a rental home with his girlfriend of many years. He and she were both reporters at the paper where I was a copy editor. They were both in Scotchie’s poker group.

In mid-December the girlfriend called me for a favor.

She would be spending Christmas in the midwest with her family. Paul would be out Christmas Eve past midnight, playing poker with some group that wasn’t ours. Paul is a poker whore.

There were empty stockings hung above the fireplace and all over the rest of the living room, presumably for decoration. But hidden behind the tree were bags full of small gifts.

My job was to slip into their house and fill the stockings. My husband and I went over armed with a key at midnight. We stuffed for 10 minutes and slipped out without leaving footprints.

There was no cookies and milk left out. I guess Paul was a non-believer.

Paul came home and climbed in bed unawares, but woke up Christmas morning to find every stocking in the house bulging with evidence St. Nick had come.

We’ve never told him it was us.

I wonder if he’s started leaving out cookies and milk.

The birthday gift

August 16, 2012

Today I am a 42-year-old.

Twelve years ago, at my 30th-birthday party, I opened my gifts in front of family and friends.

I got a Winnie-the-Pooh piggy bank, recipe books, marmalade, and towels. Uncle Mike gave me fuzzy handcuffs.

Later I opened a gift from a friend who had come out from Boulder. I shook the box, which held a camera. I said, “I’m trying to guess what it is, because Katherine said it’s an obvious gift for me.”

My paternal grandfather yelled out, “Oh boy, more fuzzy handcuffs.”

Scotchie’s proposal

August 15, 2012

The John of my personal Beatles, who I refer to in my posts as Scotchie, is celebrating his birthday today.

A few years ago he amped up his wife hunting, because his biological clock was about to chime 40.

I didn’t figure it would be as hard as it was. Scotchie is a perfect catch. He’s smart, thoughtful, funny and good-looking. He loves to play games, and brings so much enthusiasm he makes them fun for everyone. He’s affectionate. He left a career as a reporter to work at the county animal shelter finding homes for abandoned pets. His family is large and embracing. He listens to Weezer and Billie Holiday.

So it surprised me that it took so long to find a nice Catholic girl who hiked and wanted kids.

About a year ago he found one, and she’s perfect. Last month he flew to Pennsylvania, where she lives, and he proposed to her.

He took her to a romantic bridge with a ring in his pocket.

They were standing right in front of the theater where the famous The Blob movie-evacuation scene was filmed.

It was the anniversary of  The Blob’s release. Will you believe this is a holiday? It was Blobfest. Good timing, Scotchie.

Amid a throng of enthusiasts re-enacting a jelly escape, Scotchie took her hand and got on his knee. She thought he was kidding.

Here’s how I know the details. One of the Blobfesters was videotaping the Blobfestivities, and his buddy tapped his shoulder and said, “Hey this guy’s about to propose.”

Scotchie’s proposal is on YouTube.

Hey, Scotchie, if you’re looking for a site for the ceremony, I just discovered where they filmed Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Two weddings saved

August 14, 2012

Today is Tessa’s birthday. I saved this story for today, which was hard, because it’s an incredible coincidence story, and I love those.

When Tessa got married, she knew a guy who knew a guy who had a printing service out of his garage in Orange County. She hired him to print the wedding invitations.

One day soon after, he called her. He was packaging up some invitations he had already printed, and he noticed that they were for the same time, at the same church as hers.

She called the church. Sure enough, they double booked. Whoops.

Tessa found another place to get married.

If the two brides hadn’t both had their invitations printed in the same guy’s garage an hour and half west of home, and if he hadn’t actually read them, which I heard he usually didn’t, it would have been a disaster.

The bigger the possible disaster, the better the disaster-averted story, I say.

Happy birthday, Tess.

The Satan-worshipper street story

August 12, 2012

In my town there’s a steep and windy street with a reputation for satanic residents. It’s a creepy, dark street with mansion-sized homes, spread far apart.

Anyone who’s lived here for any time knows not to drive down it.

But one night my girlfriend Kristi, whose 40th birthday is today, and I decided to do exactly that.

I was behind the wheel. I went slowly, to make it scarier.

We started at the top of the road, and inched toward the bottom.

About four houses down we passed a house with a two-story window in the entryway. It was lit with a red light. We could see a winding staircase.

In front of that we saw a body hanging from a noose.

It was very still. We were not.

I hightailed us out of there, and never darkened that road again.

The favor story

August 11, 2012

I’m sitting here reading a friend’s blog, which I just discovered today. He’s a photographer, (about 80 percent of my close friends are professional photographers; you’d think I would have better Christmas cards — or a family portrait) and the site is gorgeous.

Anyway I keep calling the kids over to see a photo or hear a story off the blog, and my son said, “Hey, have you blogged about the time Uncle Mike called you to go get him?”

I haven’t.

I have pried myself off the blog o’ wonderfulness to tell you this story.

One night I had gone out to a club with someone other than Mike. I got home after 2 o’clock in the morning. I was tired from dancing and smelled like a bar, which in the ’80s, meant a lot of cigarette smoke.

Michael called. “Smo,” he called me Smo, “I need you to come and get me. My car broke down.”

OK.

“I’m on Green River Drive in Gypsum Canyon.”

Good gory. “Is that where I think it is? Where you see a golf course on the way to Disneyland?” That’s really far away, an hour, depending on traffic.

This is how much I love Michael. I went.

He told me he would wait for me inside the Coco’s. I got there just before 4 a.m. I didn’t see him.

The hostess came up and said, “Are you Smo?”

OK.

“Mike left you this note.” Smo, the tow truck driver said I had to ride back with him. Meet me at Denny’s back in town. Mike.

He didn’t even leave me a pre-paid cup of coffee.

I bought a joe to go and drove home to Denny’s. I didn’t see him, but I figured he had to deal with tow-truck stuff. I got a booth and waited.

At some point I asked a guy to check the men’s room. At about 6 I drove home in daylight. I never did lay eyes on Mike.

He later said, “After I got home, I thought, what’s the point of going to Denny’s? So I went to bed.”

Now every family trip on the 91 includes pointing at the Coco’s. “There’s where Mom went to get Uncle Mike.”

This is the kind of thing that will never happen to my children, because cell phones have been invented.

If I had had a cell phone then, I would have beat him with it.

Scandals

August 10, 2012

I was on the phone with Boom Boom Saturday. I missed her daughter’s bridal shower last week because of a migraine.

She said, “You’ll never believe this.”

Let me give you some background first.

You may remember I worked at a ’50s dinner theater after high school, where I was the hula-hooping stunt singer, Chantilly Lace. I immediately became best friends and apartment mates with Boom Boom, and we hung out off-hours with Jughead, who was gay.

Moondoggie and Hot Lips were a couple, and Boom Boom was in love with Vinnie-Vinnie.

Hot Lips went to I-don’t-remember-where for like a month, and during that time Moondoggie and I became close.

We had to act regular when Hot Lips came back to town.

One night most of the cast was at Kitten’s apartment playing “I Never,” and I put my bottle to my lips at an imprudent time. The question had something to do with being with co-workers, and it was a small leap of logic for everyone to figure out I had intruded on Hot Lips’s territory.

She was a sweet girl and I should have been more ashamed at the time.

She dumped Moondoggie forthwith, and he and I were a couple publicly for a few months after that.

Meanwhile Boom Boom got pregnant with my goddaughter and Vinnie made scarce.

Saturday Boom Boom tells me her daughter tracked Vinnie down, and his ex-wife showed up to the bridal shower with her lesbian partner.

“We knew her once,” Boom Boom said. “Do you remember Hot Lips?

“Cuz she remembers you.”

She’ll be at the wedding. Nature is giving me an opportunity to apologize. I’m taking it.

Adverb humor

August 9, 2012

Today is My Junior High Best Friend’s birthday.

It’s also my High School Boyfriend’s birthday, the boyfriend from The Trumpet Story‘s birthday and the copy editor from The Palm Tree Story’s birthday.

But I’m giving the post to my Junior High Best Friend.

We used to fancy ourselves grammar police, which everyone knows makes you popular at parties.

My focus was verb tense, and Kelly’s was adverbs.

When somone said, for instance, ‘I’ll just do it real quick,’ she would mutter ‘-ly.’ She was always muttering ‘-ly.’

My running joke was that when she was born her mother named her ‘Kel,’ and Kel popped her mouth off the breast to mutter, ‘-ly.’

Fetal attraction

August 8, 2012

One of my favorite girlfriends just had a baby.

My husband and I spent the day in the hospital waiting room with her family and other friends, waiting for the  birth. It was wonderful. We cried. I got to hold her.

I must admit, my first thought as she snuggled against me was that I wanted to have another one.

This was not my husband’s first thought. It was not his second, third or last thought either.

I had originally wanted a bigger family — at least three kids, but seven would be better.

As I swayed my girlfriend’s newborn daughter, my maternal urges were strong. I had to put myself back in the moment when I decided I didn’t want to have a third child. I had to take a mental trip to Disneyland.

We moved to California from Boulder when the kids were 2 and 4. Everybody in Colorado said the same thing to them: You’re gonna get to go to Disneyland all the time.

One morning, after we’d been here a few months, the kids, by then 3 and 5, bounded into my room saying let’s do it. They had decided it was a good day to make good on everyone else’s promise.

It was a Monday, and I was off work because I had gone in on Saturday. It was a good day to go.

I threw PB&Js and some fruit into my backpack, grabbed three windbreakers and we were off.

Here’s my life-changing moment.

We were waiting in line for the park’s railroad ride at the Toontown station. We waited behind a family with an infant.

The baby was in the beginning stages of a fuss, and the mommy was jostling it to no avail.

I could see her stress grow as time passed with no train. I could feel it myself. Minutes dragged out. If only that train would come.

The train kept not being there.

There was diaper checking, rattle wiggling, singing, more jostling. The baby just got noisier.

That train comes every 10 minutes, but ultimately it was too long. The mommy lost the contest and pulled out of line.

She struggled with the bulky diaper bag slipping around on her shoulder as she maneuvered her stroller with the arm that wasn’t managing the squirmy, noisy baby. In that hand she also held a bottle, which she had been fruitlessly trying to stick in the kid’s mouth so they could make it to the glorious moment when the train would arrive.

Her husband had their 5-or-so-year-old in tow, a balloon, a souvenir cup, a heap of sweatshirts and the camera.

I checked myself. I had a backpack.

I was in a totally different place now, I realized, and didn’t want to go back.

I was done.

And of course, as soon as they left, the train arrived.

Photographer sass

August 7, 2012

This week I started a new job — I’m done with subbing! — as a section editor for a newspaper group.

The publisher requested I write a column introducing myself, to run this weekend.

I knew what was coming next.

Sure enough, this afternoon I was instructed to go into the photography department and have a mug shot taken to run with my column. Grumble grumble grumble.

I called there, “Hey I’ve been ordered to get a mug.”

“Come on back. We’ll do it right now.”

“I was told you had people who would do my hair and face, lend me some clothes.” I am sassy.

“Sure,” he said, real cool. “Just come through editorial and go through the door marked ‘spa’.”

Sassy, quick and funny. I’m gonna like it here.

Knock knock

August 6, 2012

Tonight we took my grama out to dinner, and we were talking about funny things people said or did.

Nana shared that when she and Grampa took me to see Annie for my 10th birthday, I saw a photo of ice in a glass in the program and said loudly, “There’s subliminal seduction in this photo.” (I had read the book and learned how sexual words or images were hidden in ad photos. This is neither here nor there.)

Everyone near us in the audience turned to look at me. This is neither here nor there either.

I said, “But remember on the way home, when we were doing knock-knock jokes, and each answer had to be a song?”

“No.”

“You said, ‘Knock knock’ and Grampa and I said, ‘Who’s there?’ and you said, ‘Wendy’ and we said, ‘Wendy who?’ and you sang ‘Wen-dy deep purple falls….

“Then Grampa said, ‘I have one!’ ”

“Knock knock”

“Who’s there?”

“The.”

I miss him so.

Unca Rob scares himself

August 5, 2012

Today is Unca Rob’s birthday.

It’s impossible to me that Rob is not still in his 20s, smelling like patchouli and driving his dark green VW bus with the curtains on the windows.

When I was a little girl I idolized him and his hippie ways. Now I idolize him for his artistic talent and political savvy, but most of all, because he is so damned funny.

Someday I will share with you the funny he brings so quickly and easily. Today I share a time he was funny by accident.

It loses it a lot in the absence of my mother’s facial expression in the telling. She tells it well. It’s one of my favorites.

One afternoon my mom was in the house doing whatever perfect little girls do when they’re in the house. She heard the back door slam.

Suddenly her little brother Robbie ran past her in a blur, grabbing a book en route to his room. He jumped onto his bed, landing in a lounging position, opened the book randomly, and appeared instantly to be immersed in the story.

My mom grew suspicious — in her smart and responsible way — and scooted the curtains aside to check out the yard where Robbie had just been playing.

The lawn was on fire.

Discrimination

August 4, 2012

When I was a kid my my mom’s best friend got married. She was white and he was black.

Shortly after, one of the four apartments in the old house next door to us advertised a vacancy.

My mom spoke to the owner, who lived upstairs. The old lady was thrilled. “Send them over to see the place tonight.”

Later that night my mom’s friends, both of them friendly, professional and sunny of spirit, rang our bell.

“How’d you like it?” my mom asked.

“She told us it was no longer available,” they said.

That old bat had taken one look at the couple and stopped being thrilled.

This story isn’t funny, eerily coincidental or touching, but something made me remember it this morning.

I hadn’t thought of it in almost three decades, and that racist bag died alone some 25 years ago, but there I was driving to work getting angry all over again.

The chocolate milk story

August 3, 2012

When my son was 3, Uncle Jer took him into the kitchen and announced, “It’s time you learn how to make chocolate milk.”

I stood there doing dishes, thinking how great Uncle Jer was.

“First you get a glass, milk and chocolate syrup. You put them out on the counter.

“Then you fill the glass half with milk and half with syrup.”

“Half?” I made my shocked face. “You must really like milk.”

Uncle Jer turned to my son, “You’re mom is great.”

Marco Polo

August 2, 2012

It’s summer. We have a pool. Sometimes I hear, “Marco!

I was wondering this afternoon what about Marco Polo inspired his name’s being used in this way.

I wouldn’t know. The only thing I remember from my seventh-grade social studies lesson on the explorer is that he’s from Venice.

Here’s why I remember that.

Mr. Snodgress — the one who made us color maps — told us that Marco Polo suffered a terrible injury to his eyes.

And that after that he was a Venitian blind.

Mötley Crüe concert

August 1, 2012

It’s midnight on the nose, and I just got home from Cruefest 2. I was working a concessions stand to raise money for my kids’ high school’s music program, but I abandoned my post when Mötley Crüe came on stage.

I’m a Mötley Crüe lover from way back.

When I was 14 they played at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino. That concert kicked off the Shout at the Devil tourQuiet Riot opened for them. I realized tonight, while I was complaining that the music was giving me a headache, that that was 25 years ago.

They can still rock just as well as ever. But they’re very loud.

Fun fact: Aerosmith’s ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’ was written about Mötley Crüe. They wore a lot of make-up.

This concert trip was a different experience from the one 1984. Midnight didn’t feel so late last time.

Instead of being  Too Young to Fall in Love, I have to close my eyes and wait for the Motrin to kick in.