Archive for October, 2012

The Halloween party

October 31, 2012

When I was a little girl, we were invited to my mom’s coworker’s Halloween party. I got a witch’s hat to wear.

In the late afternoon, Mom got a call. The woman’s little son had stopped breathing and turned blue. I had never heard of this before. It sounded cool.

They were at the hospital. The party was off.

Sometime shortly after we were invited for the rescheduled event. We left the witch’s hats at home. I remember I wore a pretty white blouse under a red jumper.

We were the first ones there. The place was decorated elaborately, and there was a long table covered in food.

I had never been the first ones there before. I didn’t like it. We sat on the couch — 8-year-old me and four grownups — and tried to keep a conversation going.

The hostess complimented my ensemble. I said, “You know I’d never thought of putting these together before.” The grownups laughed, and I didn’t know why that was funny.

Like an hour later, we realized noone else was coming. I was just a little girl but I understood the pressure of that. We weren’t having a good time, but we couldn’t slip out.

It was a long, painful evening for me, blanketed in the disappointment that I didn’t get to see a blue kid.


The Harvard home

October 30, 2012

A couple of summers ago the kids and I went to Cambridge, because my son had decided he wanted to go to Harvard.

My biological father went there. He, my mom and I road tripped to Massachusetts in someone’s Mustang when I was 3 weeks old, and moved into what my mom calls a four-story walkup in the school’s married-student housing. A little more than a year later, my mom packed me up and flew back to California. The marriage was done.

Via the Internet, I made reservations at a bed and breakfast walking distance from the campus. It was called Irving House.

We took the train east and settled into our top-floor room.

The place was heaven. It was a huge old house. The owner bought used books at yard sales to fill the rooms’ bookshelves. Guests were welcome to take a book home, and asked to leave a book if they finished one while there. I spent a whole afternoon scoping the bookshelves of every vacant room (and one I was in only because housekeeping was cleaning the bathroom, and I’m stealth) for books on my wish list.

In early evening our first night I called my mom. It occurred to me that somewhere around the Square was the only place the three of us had ever lived as a family.

She gave me the address. It was on Irving Street! Hey, I was on Irving Street.

The road was named for author Washington Irving, of Sleepy Hollow fame. I figured we were staying in his house. Turns out, no.

The kids were busy with something, so I went alone on up the few short blocks of Irving. I walked the length of it twice. The numbers didn’t go as high as the address Mom gave me. I gave up.

The next day I found it. Because it’s technically part of the campus, it has its own, nonsequential address. It was next door.

I went running over and found the entry in the garden courtyard with the right number on it. The door was old, and mostly glass.

A guy was coming out and I slipped in. I stood at the bottom of the stairway, and stories came rushing back to my memory I’d forgotten my mom had told.

I remembered that she had had to carry the pram up to the apartment, a baby under her arm, and sometimes tottering groceries or laundry. She told me my dad had bought a grand piano and disassembled it to take it up piece by piece in paper bags.

I walked over and put my hand on the rail. It made me cry. This ancient iron stair rail is the one my parents used almost 40 years ago. They gripped it with infant me in the other arm.

I went up the stairs and found the right door.

Now what?

There was music or TV on behind it. Young people were there. I didn’t want anything to do with any young people. I went back to my room.

That night I was looking out the window, and I realized our entire view was the very apartment I had gone looking for — four stories in the air, but straight across.

On the last day of our stay I went over there with my camera. I had fixed my mind to knock on the young people’s door.

Wouldn’t you know? There was no guy leaving the building, and I couldn’t get in.

All I got was a sorry photo through the glass of the bottom of the stair.

click for photos

How I got my pans

October 29, 2012

Several Christmases ago Dad bought Mom an expensive set of pots and pans. She pulled them out of the box and said, “Oh no. This isn’t the right brand.”

Mom doesn’t have anything in her kitchen that she ended up with, like I have. Her tools have been researched.

I got the pots and pans.

They’re made by a company called Gourmet Standard. On the bottom they say ‘professional.’ These are magic pans. They’re stainless steel, but nothing sticks to them. They heat food evenly. The handles don’t get hot. They’re shiny.

Mom went out the next day with Dad and got the kind she wanted. They burn everything, including her hands, and the bottoms are lousy with the food she can’t scrape off.

She came over and helped me one night with a big dinner. She eyed my pans.

I was wide-eyed, nigh hysterical.

I protected one with my body and said, “Mine, mine, all mine, not yours.”

I forwent my right to complain about being treated like a 13-year-old, but I kept the pans.

The audition story

October 28, 2012

My kids are watching South Park. I can hear they’re parodying A Chorus Line.

The song people call “Tits and Ass” from this musical is my signature song. When I was younger I could sing the hell out of it. I usually use it as my audition piece when I go out for musicals.

Once I was auditioning for The Music Man. I stood there in my bright orange sundress and tights covered in photos of fruit — my high school drama teacher advised us to wear something memorable — and started in, voice a-tremble.

I get nervous.

At that point I had sung that song maybe a thousand times, but all of the auditioners were in the room staring at me, and I was reliant on the sheet music.

This is bad. I wanted to make eye contact and move around.

I looked up.

Bam. I forgot the words.

“Sorry,” that’s what directors like to hear, excuses. “I’m nervous.”

I turned to the pianist. “Can we take it from ‘tits’?”

Laughter. Whoops.

“That’s it!” said the director. Crap. “You’re in!”

That was easy.

The engagement ring story

October 26, 2012

You don’t want my daughter in on your secret.

We were in the car this week, looking for the new high school, and my daughter said to my son, “Remember you drove there before? Myles was with us.”

My son made a low growl at her.

“You drove Myles when you had the car?” I was shocked.

A louder growl, with a dirty look at sis.

In California, a newly-licensed 16-year-old cannot drive a non-sibling teen to band practice.

I’m not as strict about this rule as I am about talking to non-siblings’ moms before I allow my son to drive them anywhere. I had not yet talked to Myles’ mom.

I was more surprised than anything. I thought my son was perfect.

But this story is about my daughter and her loose tongue.

I had been a pregnant college student when I got married.

We had no kind of money, and I had no kind of engagement ring.

For our fifth anniversary we planned a weekend alone in the mountains.

A few days before the occasion, I had worked late. This was during my husband’s two-year turn as the stay-at-home parent.

After dinner I dragged myself into the bathroom to brush teeth. My daughter followed me in. She was 3 1/2.

My son, then 5 1/2, was trying to drag her off to get jammies on.

They were both acting strange.

I pulled out the lotion box I kept my jewelry in to drop in my earrings. She snatched it away and rummaged through it.

“Come on,” said my son


“Let’s go.” Pulling on her arm.

“Wait! I wanna see the diamond ring Daddy bought today.”

I froze. My son pulled his own hair. My daughter said, “What?”

I begged her not to tell Daddy she blew the secret, but she is who she is.

She ran into the kitchen and tattled on her own self.

More headlines

October 25, 2012

I wrote the other day about how headline-writing can be difficult when a story begs a punchline.

Copy editors are told to resist them. Sometimes we don’t resist them.

I remember Wes‘ editing a story about some people who didn’t want a hot dog restaurant in their neighborhood. I saw him chuckling next to me.

He was typing ‘Neighborhood fears the wurst.’

In Chicago, when O.J. wrote his first book, “I Want to Tell You,” a Tribune editor breached ethics and wrote “O.J. takes a stab at writing.”

I once edited a story about a library literacy program that was merging with Alcoholics Anonymous. I did not write ‘Gin and phonics.’

And for a story about the annual rodeo’s being canceled, because the middle school built an audio/visual center in the lot the city used, I did not write ‘Video killed the rodeo star.’

On my last of work as a copy editor at The Press, I edited a story about a guy who ran what he called ‘The Disneyland of cemeteries.’ He had little concrete forest creatures,  benches, wishing wells. There was even merry music piped about.

My final headline before I turned in my key to the newsroom for a five-year stint as a stay-at-home mom: The happiest place in earth.

I couldn’t resist.

I punched a guy

October 24, 2012

When my grandparents took me to Mexico, I got groped a couple times.

I learned something about myself. I’m slightly violent.

The first time, the guy brushed my chi chis too close and too long to be an accident.

Without thinking first I slapped his face, con fuerza.

He just kept smiling.

Two days later we were boarding a crowded bus for an open air art market. A Donny Osmond-looking passenger motioned me go first and said, “Pasa-le.”

I gave him a nod-smile with a ‘gracias’ and squeezed by. My eyes were ahead, but I felt a grope, in front, down low.

In a split second I had Donny sucking wind from my fist in his gut.

I saw my grandparents go through three rapid reactions — surprised, concerned, amused.

It wasn’t until we were at the market that we could recap. They shook their heads at me.

“Why did you punch that guy?”

“He touched me.”

“I don’t think so.”

They said he was sincerely shocked, confused even.

Down went the Welcome-to-Mexico sign.

I punched the wrong guy.

Reader participation

October 23, 2012

I am lying on the couch for the third day, waiting for my fever to break. It was down to the low 99s this afternoon, but right now it’s at 101.4.

I have stories yet to tell, but I am drugged with groggy goodness and am afraid to muck them up. I don’t have spell check.

Instead, I’m putting forth a challenge and asking everybody to play along.

On the radio, which I listened to while I had a hot bath this morning, there was discussion about constructing the perfect band. People were calling in.

Some applied the rule that you couldn’t use dead guys, which I applied to myself until I decided I need Ray Charles on keys. Another rule is that you can’t use two people from the same band in different categories, which is why — for those who know me well and are in shock — I didn’t put Nikki Sixx or Joe Perry as my rhythm guitarist.

While lying in wait of sleep or worse, I stewed on this challenge. My drummer, bassist and lyricist came to me first. No brainers — they’re the best there is, I say. 

Ultimately I came up with this wunderband:

  • Lead vocals, Rob Thomas and P!nk
  • Lead guitar, Rick Nielsen
  • Rhythm guitar, Joni Mitchell
  • Bass, Mick Mars
  • Keyboard, Ray Charles
  • Drums, Nigel Olsson
  • Background vocals, Clare Torry
  • Mandolin and fiddle, Cyndi Lauper (this broad is a mean musician no matter what she’s on.)
  • Sitar, Justin Hayward
  • Lyricist and harmonica, Steven Tyler
  • Songwriters, Bob Bryar, Frank Iero, Raymond Toro, Gerard Arthur Way and Michael James Way (The My Chemical Romance team)
  • Tambourine, Lori Partridge (cuz she’s just that much better than Davy Jones)

OK readers, your turn.

The hemorrhage story

October 21, 2012

My grama tells this story all the time.

It’s basically about guilt.

When Unca Rob was a little boy, Nana had some kind of small surgery on her uterus. Then she went to his spelling bee.

While she was sitting in the audience, something inside her snapped, and she hemorrhaged all over herself. Grampa had to carry her out of the elementary auditorium.

Unfortunately, this happened when Rob spelled his word wrong.

She found out after he became a man that he spent his lifetime thinking  it was cause and effect.

I’m sure he lived with the guilt of his misconception better than she’s living with the guilt of giving it to him.

This would have been a better story if the word he missed had been ‘hemorrhage.’

Yet another phrase of our own

October 20, 2012

My Unca Rob is flying in for a visit today. I pick him up at dentist appointment time.

If you live at my house, you know this means he lands at tooth hurty.

I tell time in tired old riddles.

If you ask me to do anything at 6 a.m., I will write it down as pig’s tail time. . . ,

. . . because it’s twirly.


October 19, 2012

My friend Kevin from Boulder sent me this e-mail after my post about Peter Bonerz. It appears to be the cover of a sports section from June of 2001 in the Orange County Register.

It’s about Angels player Bartolo Colon.

The headline reads “Colon takes another pounding.”

I rooted around and learned they did it again in 2004, using the word ‘absorbs’ instead of ‘takes,’ and WSOC TV ran this 2007 teaser: Royals to get a taste of Angels’ Colon.

As a headline writer, I know how hard it is to put the gist of a story into a short sentence with landmines like double-entendre names.

We used to have a local politician in Boulder name of Hyman. He was busted one night in the back seat with a prostitute.

I tried not to write a funny headline. We all tried.


October 18, 2012

I woke up in the dark hours of this morning with a migraine.

Somehow I made it to the bedroom doorway, but couldn’t get farther. My husband woke up and got me an Excedrin Migraine pill and some water.

Let me give a free ad to this product. You’re about to read what my migraines are like. Nothing else works. Since it was invented I’ve kept a bottle in the car, my purse, and several places in the house. It’s made a big difference in my life.

I was 17 when I got my first attack. I had come home from work with just a bad headache, but by the time I had gotten upstairs it was so bad I couldn’t get to my bedroom. I lay in the hallway, thinking there was no way I could survive another 10 seconds of that pain, as it went on for minute after minute.

The second one started while I was playing Trivial Pursuit at my family reunion, which you read about in Sonnets. It rained that day, and the whole fam damily was packed in Auntie Barbara’s great room, which I ended up lying in the middle of with my arms pressed over my eyes before my boyfriend peeled me up and drove me to the hotel. I was 20.

My third struck when I was 24, and my fourth when I was 27. But the summer I turned 28 I had a bunch of them. I ended up in a CAT scan machine.

Over the years, my husband has found me on the kitchen floor, the front lawn; once I got one while I was driving home from the grocery store. I was around the corner from home when it got bad enough I had to pull over. I had toddlers strapped in th back seat wondering what was going on.

This morning’s was one of the worst I’ve ever had. My husband gave me a pill and some water, and I waited, chewing that familiar dread of an in surmountable few more seconds of pain. I tried to come up with ways to cope until the medicine broke through. That’s what it’s like, a balloon bursting. Excedrin is the cavalry, ride in to save.

I tried to think about lying on a beach, watching football, being hit on.

It didn’t come. Twenty-six minutes went by, and the relief didn’t come. I sent my husband to get me another pill.

Sitting up to swallow makes it worse for a little while. I’m a rational woman, but while I waited for the second one to work I was thinking about having my husband take me to the hospital to have me put down.

Then it washed it over me — freedom from pain. It brought its buddy, the will to live.

And here I am, woke to blog another day.

Jersey number humor

October 17, 2012

Last night we went to our kids’ homecoming game.

I was so excited all day, I had a bounce in my step and an irritating hum.

I threw on a team jersey and tossed  my husband in the car. I started yelling, ‘Go team’ while we were still in the parking lot.

The final score was 48 to 0, us.

I love school spirit. I didn’t have any when I was a student — nobody I knew did — but my kids’ school is thick with it. There’s so much pride, people cry and sway singing the Alma Mater.

So I drag my poor husband from bleacher to bleacher.

Once we were at a basketball game and one of the boys from another school had the jersey number 00.

I pointed him out, “Look honey, that kid is licensed to.”

He just frowned at me. Maybe he would enjoy these games more if I weren’t there.

The disc jockey in the sky

October 16, 2012

This morning I was listening to my iPod, which I have named iCaramba, and singing along with Question by The Moody Blues.

Parts of this song go right under my crusty exterior and force tears. I can’t prevent it.

On the plane ride home from Hawaii, ending the week of getting to know the love of my life, I plugged my rubber headphones into the armrest to discover an in-flight Moody Blues marathon.

I am the biggest Moody Blues fan you ever heard of. This was clearly some kind of supernatural message.

I closed my eyes, smiled and listened. When the chorus came —

I’m looking for someone to change my life.
I’m looking for a miracle in my life.
And if you could see what it’s done to me
To lose the the love I knew
Could safely lead me to
The land that I once knew.
To learn as we grow old
The secrets of our souls.


— I was a goner. To this day, I’m a goner.

But that’s not the story I’m here to tell. That’s just what brought it to mind.

There was a copy editor at The Press who had been there 50 years. She took her job seriously, and, like me, was proud of what we did. She was in her 70s.

We were close.

One summer day there was a posting for employees. Helen’s daughter died unexpectedly while on vacation in Hawaii. She was 50.

Lots of us went to the funeral.

Helen’s surviving daughter gave the eulogy. She had received a postcard from Hawaii the morning of the service. It said, “It’s so beautiful. I never want to leave.”

She said when they were little girls they would sing “Sisters,” the Rosemary ClooneyVera Ellen duet from the movie “White Christmas.” That was their song.

They were close.

She broke down as she described flying to Hawaii to collect the body.

And putting the armrest headphones in her ear.

And hearing “Sisters.”

I have become the old lady who complains about change

October 15, 2012

Several factors are working against my enjoying Hollywood entertainment.

Tonight I was headed home thinking I had the house to myself for a few hours, and I wanted to rent a movie.

But Blockbuster, in its efforts to thwart my being entertained by Hollywood, had closed, and I didn’t want to drive into the next town for a rental.

So I pulled into the grocery parking lot and ran in to try the Redbox I’ve heard so much tell about.

I knew what I wanted, kind of. I wanted to rent ‘Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,’ because I read an article by Ellen Burstyn about the experience of producing that flick; and I wanted to rent some movie about Virginia Woolf with Nicole Kidman in it that I don’t know the name of, because I’m currently reading ‘The Diary of Virginia Woolf.’

I am not the guy the Redbox was made for.

But I had decided to try the damn thing, and I’m stubborn, so I got a Robert Downey Jr./Marissa Tomei movie from the early ’90s and went home.

I will have to return it unwatched, though, because I cannot figure out how to watch a DVD, and it will be months before I have the house to myself again. For a moment I considered going out and watching it from the back seat of my car.

It’s not that I don’t know how to use the DVD player. It’s that there are lots of other things hooked up to my TV, and my son went off to college.

He warned me this day would come. He wanted to teach me the ways of the remotes.

I told him all I needed was for him to teach me to Skype.

He said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to wait until I’ve gone and then teach you to do it over the computer.’

Of course not. That would be silly.

‘I just need you to rent the movies I want to watch and turn your computer in that direction.’ Duh.

He won’t do it, because he is working against my enjoyment of Hollywood.

These parents have balls

October 14, 2012

I’m spending a lot of time commuting in my new job.

In fact, I’ve spent so many hours in my car, I’m tired of every song in the world.

I have also had enough of news radio.

So I piled up all the gift certificates I got for my birthday and bought ’70s TV series on DVD. Now the hours fly by as I listen to episodes of Taxi, The Muppet Show and Mary Tyler Moore.

Today I was stopped in traffic for more than an hour. I reclined my seat and watched two offerings of The Bob Newhart Show.

As it turns out, I was missing the funniest part. During the end credits, they show the cast members with their names across the screen.

The orthodonist, Jerry Robinson, is played by Peter Bonerz.

I’m loving that some lady was pregnant, and said, “What do you think, honey? What first name goes nicely with Bonerz?”

Hmmm. What would be the perfect thing to call their family’s newest member?

June Lockhart

October 12, 2012

Today is my mama’s birthday. One year for her birthday we went to Los Angeles to see the Phantom of the Opera.

I had made my daughter a fancy ball dress of  ivory taffeta and lace.

We got to the theater a little bit early, and had to wait in a line for admittance to the lobby.

I had to pee.

We were toward the front of the line, but a classy-looking lady walked right up to the front of the line, bold as brass, and got let in. She turned to my grama as she ducked in the door and explained, “I have to pee.”

I was aghast. “Who does she think she is?”

June Lockhart,” my dad said. I made a face of not understanding. “Lassie‘s mom.”

Ah, she was on TV in black and white.

I was thinking of all the things I had done in my life more honorable than acting on a sitcom, but there I stood needing to pee.

Finally we were heading into the ladies’ room. Queen Lockhart was coming out, and she spotted my daughter. I made a face of not liking.

“Wow!” she froze. She knelt down to my little girl’s level. “That’s a beautiful dress.”

OK. I forgive her.

Breast cancer

October 10, 2012

At a poker tournament tonight, one of my friends gave me a magnet for my car. It has a pink ribbon on it, and says, “Feel your boobies.”

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Years ago I did a three-day, 60-mile walk to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. I walked from Santa Barbara to Malibu, and slept in a tent on the way.

I did it in my Auntie Elsie’s memory, but really it was because I knew a third of the money went toward research, and I want to see this thing cured. I really did it for my daughter.

The walk was at the end of October. I started training in March. I had a schedule, and stuck to it. I was up on Saturdays at 5 in the morning, packing PB&Js, Gatorade and a clip-on tape player into my pockets before stepping out into the nighttime darkness.

I peed in every bush in town.

When I got to the event, I was physically ready.

I was not emotionally ready.

The line of walkers went farther ahead up the road than I could see, and farther behind, too. It was like a moving monument.

Along the curbs of the whole route was a stationery monument. People stood clapping.

It was pouring rain, but they stood for hours. I could see their hands were red and raw, their eyes were puffy and wet. They shouted at us, “Thank you.”

Some shouted, “I’m in chemo. You’re doing this for me.” Some, “You’re doing this for my daughter.” “You’re doing this for my sister.”

Always, “Thank you.”

At the end of the first night I listened to my tentmate cry until I fell asleep. I woke at 3 a.m. when she started talking on her cell phone. She was calling for a ride home. She couldn’t take it.

I had trained with her. I knew she could walk it.

She was a breast cancer survivor.

The second day, I did several interviews. I was writing a first-person account for the paper.

This was a mistake.

By then people had changed out of their 3-Day T-shirts and put on shirts they had had made for the event. There were faces and names on the backs. I wore one myself.

I was already weepy, from the clapping thankers and the sea of shirt faces, and there I was asking people to tell me their stories.

There was variety, but most had the same theme — loss.

This is the one that made me hand in my media badge.

A woman ahead of me had a  portrait of a 20-something mother holding a little boy.

She told me her daughter died shortly after the photo was taken. The lady took in her grandson, who had a terrible time getting through the loss of his mommy.

“Then,” she said…. Silence.

Finally, “Then he got breast cancer and died when he was 13.”

I never submitted anything to my paper. This is the most I’ve ever written about it.

Augie cracks me up again

October 8, 2012

I had lunch with my old boss Augie yesterday.

I asked if he keeps in touch with Shawna, whom we called, ‘Shawna Doyawanna?’

Yes, he said. She’s got it bad.

“What’s wrong?” She’s in her 40s.

“Shawna says her body’s revolting. I told her, it sure is.”

The really big poop story

October 7, 2012

On the same vacation as The road trip fight story, we stayed in Rogue River, Oregon at the Weasku Inn.

My Unca Rob lives nearby, and kept calling it the Whydon’tyoucome Inn. Unca Rob is either getting old, or he’s still got it. Who can tell?

This place is a dream. Instead of motel rooms, you get an A-frame cabin with bedrooms and a living room. The soaps in the bathroom smell woodsy. We had a fireplace and a back porch over the river.

To eat, you walk across a lawn my son called the Frisbee park to the lodge. There was a big dining room, a billiard area and a community bathroom.

That’s where I saw it.

I spent the whole drive home from work today trying to think of adjectives to describe the size of this thing. It was just smaller than a loaf of bread.

I had gone in to pee. When I found it there my eyes went wide. I ran out and called in everybody to see it. Would you believe they came running?

Normally I would have worried they’d think I had made it, but not this time.

My husband said, “Someone feels really good right now.”

There was no flushing it. The diameter of the toilet’s hole was too small by half.

My husband went to alert an employee.

I spent the rest of our stay trying to figure out who it was, but none of the large men was walking funny.

The pie crust story

October 6, 2012

The Beatles are over right now. They come over on Monday nights for football and dinner.

You remember, they live in our other house. My husband asked Paul if he’s gone into the market on the corner. There’s a Mexican deli in the back. “Have you had the beans from there, or the chips? They’re the best there is.”

I had to tell my story about the time I did my grocery shopping there.

This place is straight out of Mexico. There are pinatas hanging from the ceiling and polka music piped out of speakers above the pan dulce.

I’ve never heard the employees speak English.

I was looking for pie crust, which I didn’t know the word for. No big deal. Just like when I spent my semester in Guanajuato, I talked around the words I didn’t know.

I grabbed an hombre, “Perdon, estoy buscando la cosa en que pones la fruita quando estas cocinando un pastel.” (I’m looking for that thing you put the fruit in when you’re cooking a pie.)

The guy looks at me like I’m an idiot. He can speak English. I can see it.

He lifted an eyebrow and one corner of his mouth. “Crost?”

Clothes shopping

October 5, 2012

Yesterday’s post reminded me of shopping for clothes when I was my daughter’s age.

My mother would hand over her credit card. My Oldest Friend got $20 a month, which she was supposed to budget and accumulate. I was dying of jealousy. That struck me as a fortune.

I did not understand why she didn’t abuse this situation.

I  must have bugged her about it, because I remember her telling me, lots, that Brian was going to ask to see her monthly balance. Brian was her shiny new step-dad.

At one point we signed up for dance lessons together. The next day we walked to the mall to get matching leotards.

The first pair we tried on made it glaring to me this was a bad idea. Tia had glorious hooters and I had naught. Wearing identical stretchy bits drew the eye to my shortcomings.

But I’ve always had more pride than vanity, so I kept quiet and handed over mom’s MasterCard.

The leotards we bought were white cotton, with little puffy sleeves and sprinkles of pink, gray and purple triangles. They must have been pricey, because she was on about having to show Brian her monthly balance.

I double-dog dared her to go in there and stand on one foot.

She never did what I said. That was probably a good thing.

Daddy’s girl

October 4, 2012

My daughter went shopping with a girlfriend today. I planned, out of consideration, to swing by an ATM and get her her allowance first.

She was shocked.

“I’m supposed to go shopping with only $20?”

“That, and the money you’ve saved for occasions like this.”

That sat well.

When Daddy wandered in the room the conversation had turned to what defined ‘necessities.’ She was arguing that when he took her shopping for her eighth-grade formal dress, he bought her two of them, and she didn’t have to pay.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t have done that.”

“I should have gone to Daddy this morning.”

This is when my helpful husband disclosed he would have given her $200 and told her to have a good time.

My son and I cried Daddy’s-girlism.

I had to remember the room-painting story to them.

When The Baby was 4, my husband and I spent a long day stripping her wallpaper. This was in a 100-year-old house. The wallpaper was stuck in places to drywall, wood and concrete.

We textured and painted the walls, and finished at about 4 p.m., just in time for me to primp and leave for work.

I went in to kiss my husband goodbye. He was coming down the ladder, two steps from the bottom, and was exhausted. He was glad to be done.

My daughter came in on my heel. She looked around the room with a big smile.

Then she said, “Daddy, will you make me a pink checkerboard ceiling?”

He gave me my kiss and switched direction. He never reached that first step from the bottom.

I got home eight hours later to find him washing up.

The checkers were perfect.

He was wiped out. He curled up around her little finger and went to sleep.

My ex-boyfriends

October 3, 2012

I was adding a picture of The Smart Guy to Photos O’Mine when it occurred to me I should have put an update on the post, How I ended up in journalism, mentioning that he’s now running Yahoo!

Then it occurred to me I could write a post about Garth, who is also said to have risen to greatness.

Garth was my boyfriend when I was working as a hula hooper. At the time, he worked in a record store.

He was a good time. He sang, danced, joked and was up on his Broadway musicals. He appreciated that I was up on my Broadway musicals. Once I told him his hair was doing a Sweeney-Todd thing. He threw his arms around me and professed love.

His pick-up line to me was “Do you have any German in you?” No. “Want some?” I really liked this guy.

Many years after he threw me over I worked with a guy who said he was best friends with Garth’s father. I asked what he was up to.

He said Garth was in South America that day, touring on trombone and trumpet as an auxilary member of Green Day.

Finally my son said I was cool.

I really only bring this up to point out that not all my boyfriends ended up in prison.


October 2, 2012

Tonight we had a cut-throat game of Sorry! My family rolls up sleeves and works the strategy good on this game — takes us almost two hours for one round. We must go through the deck 10 times.

At one point, my son and husband were way ahead. My 16-year-old son announced with pride to his father that girls have cooties. Knuckle touch.

Darned if this didn’t remind me of a story from high school.

My drama teacher came to class from lunch laughing once.

He had seen elementary children yelling at each other from opposite sides of the street outside.

The girls yelled at the boys, “You have cooties.”

The boys yelled back, “Oh yeah? Well you have AIDS!”

When I heard this story, I thought it was funny, even though I didn’t know what AIDS was.

Those 7-year-olds were more worldly than I.

Another phrase of our own

October 1, 2012

There was a moment, a comment and a laugh once at work. It’s still here.

I was waitressing at Bennigan’s in Boulder, and had gone into the kitchen. I needed a small dish of shredded cheese. Probably someone had ordered it for his ultimate baked potato soup.

I hollered to the guys behind the grill — there were two — “I need a side of cheese.”

The one on the right said, “Don’t fall for it! It’s just a trick to get some cheese.”

Later that night I told My Boyfriend about it. We had a great laugh.

We were at the beginning of that stage where something isn’t a happy memory until you share it together. I reckon we’re in the middle of that stage now.

I don’t remember the grill cook’s name.

But almost 20 years later, when we accuse each other of having an agenda, we ask if it’s a trick to get some cheese.