Archive for November, 2012

Follow-up post

November 30, 2012

My sister tweeted that Tiger Woods had a karma accident.


Stairway to Heaven

November 29, 2012

Tonight the kids and I sat glued to the radio.

The station had solicited listeners’ top 10 rock songs of all time, compiled them by duplicate and played the top 1,000 in order, starting Wednesday morning.

We made our lists. We made predictions. The disc jockey would say, ‘Coming up next, a song by Queen,’ and we would all guess which it would be. Once, he said, ‘After the commercial, you’ll get a song that was written for a boy whose parents were divorcing, that’s become a popular sing-along.’

I totally guessed it.

We were in and out of the countdown for meals, sleep, and Thanksgiving, checking online to see what we missed, but today we turned it on for the top 40 throughout the house.

At number 19 I had to go grocery shopping. The kids had to call me each time a song came on while I was in the store.

Only one of the songs on my top 10 was in the overall top 10 — Back in Black by AC/DC, at No. 8. My son hit with No. 7, Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd.

All of us predicted Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin would be No. 1. It was — which brings me, finally, to my story of the day.

One year we were at our friends’ poolside on the Fourth of July. I was doing an acrostic puzzle. I love an acrostic puzzle.

The clue was “He wrote Stairway to Heaven,” 10 letters.

Ten letters? Don’t they mean nine, or 11?

I worked out the whole quote and transfered the letters. The answer: Neil Sedaka.

No way.

I showed it around, because by now everyone had been trying to think of someone with a 10-letter name who could have written it.

My husband said, “No way.” The Bonadimans said, “No way.” Guess what the Booths said.

I tucked that bit of astounding trivia in my brain and pulled it out occasionally, so I could hear people say, “No way.”

Then I got in the car with my mom one day, and NPR was interviewing songwriters. Steven Tyler was talking. Oh boy. My favorite.

Next up, the interviewer said, the writer of Stairway to Heaven.

“Oh, I know who that is,” I told Mom. “Neil Sedaka.”

“No way.”

She got to look right, because some other dude came on the radio and talked about how the song came to him.

I stopped pulling out this astounding trivia tidbit.

This year I was listening on another station to the author of “Sounds Like Teen Spirit, Stolen Melodies, Ripped-Off Riffs, and the Secret History of Rock and Roll.”

It turns out — and I know people are gonna start e-mailing me — but it turns out Led Zeppelin was a cover band.

Here’s where they stole Whole Lotta Love, and here’s the original version of the No. 1 rock song of all time.

The final word: Randy California wrote Stairway to Heaven.

That’s all the thinking I want to do about this song and its writer. I don’t even like Led Zeppelin.

Where’s that from?

November 28, 2012

I love to play guess-what-this-line-is-from.

When I was a teenager, my best friend and I would make lists of lines from songs and present them to each other in first period study hall. I remember in my sophomore year chewing on the line “Strangers making the most of the dark” all day.

I could hear the melody and hum the next line, but it wasn’t until dinner that the answer came to me.

That’s my idea of fun, for sure.

I also play this with movie quotes. There was a poster at Blockbuster –101 famous movie quotes, can you name the films? — that I wanted bad. I would have put it on the wall and then thrown a party to see how many people gathered around and tried it.

But this was when I was subbing, and no way was I going to spend $15 on a poster, knowing I didn’t have the money to throw me a see-who-gathers-at-my-new-poster party.

I found it online for $8 plus shipping, but I still won’t buy it. That’s how cheap I am.

Today I’m sharing a movie quote challenge that I have chewed on for years — and even Googled, which I frown on as the height of cheaterpantsery — and can’t find the answer to.

In 1999 my husband and I rented a VHS movie with the following line: “Yeah, but if less is more, think how much more more is.”

I thought this was the funniest ever. I don’t remember what movie it was. I thought it was American Pie, so I rented it and watched it again. No dice.

Now I’m setting the spinner to All Play.

If you know the answer, you win.

And because the chewing will finally end, I’ll win too.

Exterminator tents

November 27, 2012

When we were little girls, My Oldest Friend was always interested when we saw houses being fumigated.

I used to tell her that those homes, encased in big striped tents, had kids there whose parents had rented them a private circus.

It’s My Oldest Friend’s birthday today.

Happy 40th, Tia. I love you so much, I would rent you a private circus today if they existed and I had any money.

The die story

November 26, 2012

A few Thanksgivings ago my baby cousin Sterling and his girlfriend came down from Washington. At dinner, they announced their engagement.

Wee hooo! I love a big announcement on a holiday.

After dinner, we pulled out the party games. We were going to play one of my favorites, Scattergories. Sterling’s affianced had never played before.

For this game, you have 12 categories, and a letter. You have to think of something in each category that starts with that letter.

Fun stuff. I always win.

I started passing out pencils and category lists, and we realized the die wasn’t in the box. I had left it in my bag of tricks for the Journalism Club I ran at the elementary school.

Alison said, “No worries. I have a die in my purse.”

We tried to stop her. “It’s not a regular die. It’s a many-sided die covered in letters.”

She kept walking toward her purse. Sterling’s fiancee doesn’t listen, I thought.

She came in rummaging through her little purse. Me, I carry a backpack. Between my canister of Wet Ones and my novel, I have no use for Louis Vitton.

“Here’s a die!” she said. I shook my head at her.

She pulled out a hand-carved wooden 26-sided die with letters on it.

My son yelled, “Welcome to the family! You pass.”

click for photo

The Christmas thief story

November 24, 2012

Last night I watched the Lewis Black special on surviving the holidays. People talked about believing in Santa Claus, and it reminded me of a call I once got.

The newsroom phone had been ringing, and no one was around, so I answered it. It was a news tip call. The rule on these was the receiver had to type the tip into the computer on the Newstips document.

The caller was an old man. His news tip was a Christmas memory. I knew they wouldn’t use it, but I set to typing his story.

When he was a little boy in New York, his family was poor. They lived in a tenament apartment on the third floor, and he went to sleep Christmas Eve with only a couple of gifts under the tree — nothing big enough to be the train set he wanted.

It was a one-bedroom pad, so he slept on the living room couch.

He woke up as a man in Santa garb clambered through the window.

He watched the man crouch under the tree and reach for the two sorry packages under the unadorned limbs.

“What are you doing, Santa?”

The man swore.  He hadn’t noticed the child on the couch. “Just making the rounds.”

The little boy began to cry. “I didn’t think you were going to remember us. I’m so happy you came.”

“Tell Santa what you want for Christmas.” Softie.

The burglar rummaged through his booty for a train set and left it under the tree before going back through the window with another curse.

The caller said his parents were thoroughly confused the next day when he pulled the set out of its box.

He told me a string of burglaries was later reported on the news. Among the items reported stolen was an expensive train set.

I feigned outrage. “You’re reporting this NOW?”


November 23, 2012

Beatle George has an 8-year-old son. They were over for Monday Night Football tonight.

My son discovered with an outburst that the child has never seen Jaws.

How does this happen? I’ve insisted George bring the boy to me Wednesday so I can fix him.

To my mind, 4 is the right age for Jaws watchin’.

This decision came by happenstance. Uncle Jer and I were upstairs in the Boulder house, flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon, when we saw that the movie was about to start.

We looked at each other with excitement. “Pop some corn!”

Then my son wandered in.

Badda bing badda boom. Four was the right age.

We initiated him carefully. We told him what to expect. “Hear the music? That means you’ll see some red spots in the water. Here’s a scary part.”

Then I couldn’t wait for The Baby to turn 4. I stood by the set with the unpopped corn counting down the days from her third birthday.

We had left Uncle Jer behind in Colorado, but acquired the flick on VHS. My son and I popped corn and brought her into the club.

Now it’s Bennett’s turn. 

My kids know the routine by now. We’ll pop the corn, give the warnings, and as one, we’ll shout, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

I’m thinkin’ since the kid’s 8, we’ll have to watch it twice.

A return favor

November 22, 2012

We just drove home from Bakersfield. On the way through the Tejon Pass, there was a woman pressing three small children against her legs in the wind, standing in the dirt on the side of the road. The hood of her car was up.

My husband and I agreed we should stop, so he pulled off at the next exit. It was a rest stop with no onramp the other direction.

As long as we were there, my husband went pee.

We went to the next offramp, got off and headed back the other direction, but missed our offramp.

By the time we got back to the damsel in distress, a tow truck was there.

That reminded me of a story, which Mike will be pleased I told, since I hung him out to dry with The Favor post.

One Thanksgiving my college roommate and I decided to show up in Southern California for Thanksgiving and surprise our families. We took my car from Boulder and dropped her first in San Clemente. It was Wednesday.

Never drive on Southern California freeways on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I could have walked faster.

Round about Yorba Linda my car began to smoke. Here’s my engine savvy. I pulled to the median and distanced myself from it in case it was set to explode.

A car pulled up next to me, a sedan, with about nine people in it. They bade me dive in across the six laps in the back seat, scooted me across the five lanes and dropped me at the call box.

The call box phone didn’t work.

From there a nice lady drove me down the offramp. She told me she had never picked up a hitchhiker in her life, but that I cut the most unthreatening figure she’d ever seen.

She left me at the Carl’s Jr., where I borrowed their phone and called Mike.

Michael jumped in his Sprint, with the ‘Don’t laugh, mister. You’re daughter might be in here.’ bumper sticker, and sat in the holiday traffic for hours to get me.

During the years I was logging frequent passenger miles in that car, my father never commented on that bumper sticker.

Mike put water in my overheated radiator and handed me the keys to the Sprint. I followed him at a creep to my parents’ house, where they were cozily watching a movie with a fire going.

 I had to walk in and say, “Surprise! Dad, can you fix my car?”

He had grace not to say, “You’re home. What a treat,” as he pushed himself off the couch.

I hope I’ve redeemed Michael’s reputation. The truth is, if he called me at 2 a.m. again, I’d go.

Code words

November 20, 2012

When my grandparents didn’t want people to know what they were saying, they would talk in Spanish.

Mostly, it was my grandpa telling Nana not to meddle. He would murmur, “No te metes.”

At some point this morphed into “No tomatoes,” which he didn’t have to murmur.

This is English to us now, for ‘butt out of those people’s business.’

Every New Year’s Nana announces her resolution is remind herself no tomatoes.

She can’t do it. There’s no stopping her from tomatoes.

The Ranchero

November 18, 2012

I have a 1958 Ford Ranchero. I’m not an old-car guy, and I’ve never driven it, but I love it, and I almost lost it.

The truck used to be my grampa’s. On Saturdays until I was about 6 he would take me with him to the dump, which is about the only time he used the truck.

He would open the driver door so I could crawl across the bench seat, and he would always say, “One of these days you’re going to get in through your own door.”

Occasionally he would use it for an errand. I heard him more than once come home and say, “I got another note on the windshield,” as he tacked a piece of paper to the kitchen bulletin board.

The notes all said the same basic thing: I want to buy your truck. Call me.

These put a hardness in the pit of my stomach. Forget that new car smell; I was sentimental about 25-year-old Ford cab smell. 

When I was a teen-ager, Nana said, “We’re re-doing our will. If there’s anything you want to be sure to get, speak up.”

I didn’t hesitate. Tap tap my truck.

Later my grandparents said, “It’s just sitting there. We don’t even use the thing. Why wait for us to die?”

I was married then. I can’t tell you how my skin crawls when my husband refers to it as his Ranchero.

A few years ago my Uncle Sonny started asking around, “Where’s Uncle Albert’s Ranchero?”

He wanted to fix it up. A bunch of old-car guys were fixing up cars together. 

My husband said he was planning on fixing it up in a father-son project. Then it would be what our son drives.

Yeah, my son’s going to get sticky, dirty stuff on his hands. Didn’t my husband read The Birthday Cake Story?

This never came to pass. So in 2003 I told Uncle Sonny he could take it, work on it, do the car show thing, but not have title.

Everybody was happy. I was about to get around to getting it over to his house.

Does the name Uncle Sonny ring a bell? His other mention was the story about how his house burned down.

If I hadn’t been so lazy, it would have been a carbecue.

For now it’s just sitting there. We don’t even use the thing.

But when we do, I’m going to breathe in deep as I crawl across the driver side.


November 17, 2012

My son and I just read through all of the stories in the My Son category. My old stories are so much better than my latest ones.

From there I clicked on the Top Posts button I have backstage here, to see what posts have been read the most.

The numbers surprised me.

Of my 313 posts, The Comma Argument is in first place. This is not even close to being my best post.

The recent A New Expression is tied for second with The Refrigerator Story. I understand why the Fridge made it so high. I wouldn’t be surprised to find other people telling the story on their own blogs.

Breaking up is one click behind those, but I accuse Miss Julia of pushing that number up singlehandedly. J’accuse, mon petite fromage.

Archery, possibly my favorite, is in fourth place, and Pets are Nasty rounds out the top five.

Some of my stories have high points because of hot words. For instance, My Mother-in-Law’s Story gets hit constantly. There has not been a day since I posted it that someone hasn’t Googled the words ‘naughty mother-in-law.’

Mike Tried to Get Me in a Catfight
enjoyed the same fame, because people worldwide are hungry to read anything with the word ‘catfight.’

The Special Day Class, which tied for the win in my best-post poll, ranks in the bottom third.

And most of the rest of the content from the Best of SO’M category sits below that.

There are posts I wish no one would read, because they’re just me complaining, like The Home Showing Disaster, The Favor Story, The Horrible Person and I was Dismissed from the PTA. These have more clicks than they should.

Only three people have clicked on Tormenting, but 25 have clicked on Pulp Fiction. I think that’s backward. Tormenting is a much better story.

And Even in Pain, I’m a Smartass joins The Mac n’ Cheese Story and six other worthier posts with one click each.

I can’t figure you guys out.

Why I love my husband

November 16, 2012

Yesterday my husband was walking around shirtless in baggie cords, which slung low on his waist. He had them rolled to mid-calf, like cabana pants.

He looked scrumptious, but that’s not why I love him.

“I like those pants like that.” I gave him a lecherous look.

“It’s my Tom Sawyer look.” I like the Tom Sawyer look.

“I was hoping someone would come along and see how much fun I was having cleaning the shower.”

That’s why I love him. He’s well Twained.

To Hell with keeping it clean

November 14, 2012

My friend, the Dirty Old Man, is also an amateur stand-up comedian. He performed at my recent birthday party.

He really is too admirable for the moniker I’ve given him. Please read the name dripping with respect.

As he took the microphone, Scotchie yelled, “Keep it clean, Fred!”

Frown from Fred at Scotchie, then “Do you know why Jewish men are circumsized?”


He went to that mike to perform three times between tribute stories — most of which involved my mooning or flashing someone.

He kept my guests in stitches, even as they told how I don’t stay in mine.

The home showing disaster

November 13, 2012

Today I had lunch with two friends, one of whom is a Realtor.

My Realtor friend said of this site, “When you read her blog, it’s like looking in a mirror. You can see yourself in her stories.”

I hope he doesn’t see himself in this one.

I used to be a licensed Realtor myself. I was especially bad at it. Possibly I was cursed.

This was during the two-year period my husband was the stay-at-home parent. I was concurrently working at the paper.

I achieved my license through the sponsorship of my broker, who promised handholding throughout the career launching.

I got a desk and a nameplate and the code to the office lockbox key.

One afternoon a man, woman and baby came into the office and told me what they were looking for in a house. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like “We would like a big, expensive house, please.”

This was it — my first commission was about to happen.

I made an appointment to take them looking at several addresses the next afternoon. I called the sellers to have them leave the houses vacant and clean.

In the meantime, I bought a new suit, rented a nice car and printed a list of homes that met their specifications.

I had a meeting with my broker for advice. He handed me the lockbox key, which was like a cell phone keypad. His advice: Don’t tell them you’re new at this.

I met the family at the office.

We were off.

At the first three houses I couldn’t get the lockbox open. The husband was getting that wants-to-flee look.

I couldn’t reach the broker by cell phone, so I apologized to the family and drove them back to my office for support. No one was there.

I went to the brokerage across the street and asked for help. They checked my key and said the code’s activation had lapsed.

One of the agents showed me how to reactivate it by phone.

We were off again.

It still didn’t work.

The next day two things happened. The family called to thank me for my time. They wouldn’t be needing any more of it, however, becase that evening they found a house with another agent and bought it.

And the broker ripped me a new butthole for outting his breaking the rules. Turns out, brokers aren’t allowed to let staff agents use their keys, which he knew.

The helpful agent across the street had reported him.

At that moment and this one, I hated him. I hated that I had invested money I didn’t have on a doomed mission. I blame him thoroughly.

My broker was forced to discontinue providing a key for new agents, and was forever angry with me about it.

This may be a result of my having a small fit.

I got a key of my own, but seldom had opportunity to use it — me being an especially bad Realtor, and all.

The tissue story

November 12, 2012

When I was in junior high I went to my Auntie Martha’s after school. She lived across the street from campus.

Auntie Martha was one of my grama’s older sisters.

I would snack on the Frosted Flakes she kept hidden in the bottom cabinet and watch General Hospital on her little black-and-white kitchen TV. After that I would push the chairs aside and jump on the Linoleum under Richard Simmons’ guidance.

Auntie Martha watched Guiding Light and then Phil Donohue in the den.

After my workout I went in where Auntie was. We would play gin or backgammon. She taught me to sew.

Then in the evening my dad would pick me up. Sometimes he would sit on the patio and have a beer with Uncle Phil before we left.

One afternoon I went in the living room and she was pulling wadded balls of pretty paper out of a new gym bag and ironing it.

The bag had come stuffed. My mom had just bought a bag like this. I was fascinated by the whole scene.

“This will make nice wrapping paper.” She was making a pile of the ironed. Each sheet was different.

I couldn’t get past that she was ironing wrapping paper.

My dad showed up just as she told me that she also irons her tissues and reuses them.

Dad was in a hurry.

This was too much. We went back and forth with ‘You really do?’ ‘I really do’ as he dragged me out.

I never knew Auntie Martha to be cheap, and that was disgusting. My incredulity was consuming.

The next afternoon it was the first thing I wanted to talk about.

“Auntie, I want to buy you clean tissues. I think it’s gross you iron and reuse them, all full of mocos.”

I wish I hadna said that.

I’m sure you’ve deduced she meant tissues for gift wrapping, not Kleenex. I’ve been teased it about it these past 28 years. This kind of embarrassment spreads fast through my family.

And 28 years later, I’m still using the wrapping paper I went home and pulled out of my mom’s new gym bag and ironed.

Another punny headline

November 11, 2012

This post is by request. Be careful, Unca Rob. I have a million of these.

I once edited a story about a rodeo program for beginners.

It provided participants’ guidance on a bull — actually, they started on sheep — learning how to stay in the saddle.

My headline: The buck starts here.

English is a bitch

November 10, 2012

I had a semantics professor in college who had immigrated from Yugoslavia.

He told a sad story about getting in trouble with his own teacher when he was a college student. He was still learning English at the time.

The professor said some confusing things, and my prof-to-be raised his hand. “I understand.”

“Good.” He went on.

My prof raised his hand again. “I understand.”

“Sir, it is not appropriate for you to take class time after every point to tell me you understand. Many people understand. Keep it to yourself.”

My teacher failed the class.

He later learned that the prefix “un-” did not always negate the root. What he thought he had been saying was “I don’t understand.”

If he had only once told his professor he derstood, there may have been a revelation.

A new expression

November 9, 2012

When I was a kid, we would say, “Oooh. You got burned!”

When my kids were little, they would say “You got told!”

About a month ago my son said, “Oh! He took your five dollars.”

I thought I knew the root of this, but it couldn’t be. It’s too obscure.

It is. He remembered it, and coined an expression.

Many years ago I told him a joke I am embarrassed to tell you I told him.

Two deaf guys were sitting around. One signed to the other, “What will we do tonight?”

This joke is really better with the visual aid of hand signing, which I do poorly, but which makes the joke better nonetheless. Please imagine signing with this.

“Let’s pick up some chicks and park at the point.” And that’s what they did.

The deaf guy in the back seat tapped the one in the front. With his hands, he indicated a problem — no condoms.

“No problem,” signed the one guy. “I’ll drive us over to 7-Eleven.”

The back seat guy goes in the store. A few minutes later he taps on the front window.

“There’s a problem,” he signs. “The condoms are behind the counter, and I can’t get the guy to understand what I want.”

“Just put $5 on the counter and pull out your penis.”

A few minutes later, tap tap tap.

“Did you get the condoms?”

Shaking no.

Then, with hands: Here’s what happened. I put the money on the counter, just like you told me. Then I pulled out my penis. He put $5 on the counter. He pulled out his penis. His was bigger. He took my five dollars.”

I hope I didn’t offend any deaf people. Blogging blind jokes is probably safer.

The near suicide

November 8, 2012

I had a friend who called me one day. “My husband left me. I’m not OK.”

I went to get her, her baby and lots of her stuff, so they could stay with us for a few days.

She was a wreck.

After a few days, she returned home. Two days I didn’t hear from her.

Then she showed up one morning with a relaxed, but dazed face — like a zombie. “It’s all going to be fine now. I’ve got everything taken care of.”

Oh, big alarms here.

She handed me the baby. “This is the last thing. I just needed to bring you my baby.”

Frantically I searched my mental archive for dos and don’ts I’ve heard about. The pointer settled on this item: You can tell if a person is serious about suicide by asking about plans. The serious ones have thought out the details.

“Come in,” I said, taking the baby, “and tell me what you’ve planned.”

There were details. She not only had it all worked out how she was going to run her engine in a closed garage, she’d been up all night clearing out a spot for the car, getting important documents laid out on the kitchen table and packing the baby’s things.

She couldn’t tell me the last time she’d slept or eaten, but tried to ensure me she felt at peace since she found this solution.

I strained to hide my panic.

I felt like I might say exactly the wrong thing and crack the ice under her feet. Surely there are words that are exactly right. I didn’t know them.

I tried reason: What about your son?

She dismissed me: He’s got his dad and stepmom.

What about the baby?

That’s why I’m here. The main thing stopping me was the idea she’d end up as a foster child. I wanted to choose who raised her. I thought about taking her with me.

Well that upped my panic. I was getting dizzy and couldn’t think clearly anymore. I was going to screw this up.

I grabbed at one last idea, “Have you said goodbye to your father?”

She looked suprised. “No. I should.”

While she was on her cell phone, I was in the kitchen sneaking a call to my mom’s minister — not because either of us is spiritual, but because she did her thesis on suicides. She said to call the police.

I hadn’t mentioned my friend’s considering taking the baby with her. I was sure if the law got involved she would lose her baby. What a mess.

I went back into the living room. My friend was crying. That was a good sign. She was nodding, “OK, Daddy. OK.”

She flipped her phone closed and looked at me, all red and puffy. “He said no.”

No? The exactly right thing to say was no?

I kept the baby for a week while she got a room at a recovery center.

A few weeks later, her husband came back.


An unfortunate acronym

November 7, 2012

When I lived in Boulder, it used to tickle me that the firefighter uniforms said BFD on the backs.

The Superman speech

November 6, 2012

Today I was a guest speaker at a high school. The 11th grade English students came, three classes at a time, to hear me talk about my job.

I gave basically the same assembly five times in a row.

It’s my Superman speech.

I showed up in boots, cape and chest S to tell them being a journalist is the same as being Superman, because journalists protect truth, justice and the American way.

Here is an abridged and non-interactive version of the Superman speech.

Truth is king. A good journalist makes sure every point made in print can be substantiated. We look up what we can. We cite our sources. We don’t say ‘Lance robbed a bank.’ We say ‘Police suspect Lance robbed a bank.’ This is based in the superheroic service to the public’s right to know what’s going on.

Justice is always a consideration. We must present both sides of any issue with balance and sensitivity. We must weigh the benefit of reporting something against how invasive it is to the subject and his family.

The American way is my favorite. Look at the Bill of Rights. Exclude the right to a free press, and consider that everything else is guaranteed by the presence of the media. I contend that every freedom we enjoy as Americans is thanks to the watchdog industry I’m a proud part of.

Serving the public’s right to know, offering a forum for ideas and opinions, and tattling on people with power make us each Superman.

I’m just waiting for the day I hear ‘Look! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an editor!’

A celebrity sighting

November 5, 2012

One afternoon a co-worker friend and I went to Los Angeles for thermal imaging.

My friend had had a mass show up on a mammogram, and I’m just plain freaked out about breast cancer, so we were going to have infrared photos taken of our chests.

This is an exciting technology, I think. Cancerous tumors give off heat, and heat photos don’t expose a patient to radiation, like mammograms do, adding to the breast cancer risk.

Also, we didn’t have to wait for results. We got our photos right then.

There were also downsides. Each of us during our individual appointments had to strip from the waist up and sit with our arms above our heads. This was to cool the body heat in the armpit area, which would show up red on the photo and hide a tumor.

It was also embarrassing. The guy, who may have been a doctor, I don’t remember, made conversation with me as if we were at the corner coffee house, only with my breasts a-dangle.

The worst factor was the doctor guy’s eyes were whack. They didn’t point in the same direction. He was very like Cookie Monster.

This would have made me uncomfortable under normal circumstances, but sitting there topless with my arms over my head wondering if one of his eyes was looking at my nipples was more than unsettling.

After we had each had our turn, Shannon, who had lived in Santa Monica before she started working at The Press, took me to her favorite restaurant. It was a take-it-home-and-bake-it pizza bistro that sold by the slice to walk-in eaters. It shared a wall with Blockbuster.

We sat on high stools, appreciating having covered breasts, and talked about all the celebrities she used to see when she lived in the neighborhood.

She used to see Meg Ryan running in the morning, for instance. Mel Gibson was more than once in line with her at the grocery store.

She listed so many I can’t remember them all. By the time we were tossing our plates and napkins into the trash, I was dying to see a famous guy.

Shannon poked her head out the door, “Well, Sting is about to go into the Blockbuster next door.”

Now, Shannon is funny. She’s always funny, and I would have expected her to say that.

But he really was.

I didn’t want to be that idiot that calls out, but I would have loved it if he had noticed me. Suddenly I didn’t appreciate having my breasts concealed anymore.

The transfusion story

November 4, 2012

I got a call at work from my mother this morning, saying Nana was in the emergency room because of internal bleeding.

It’s a quarter to 11 p.m., and I’ve just come in the door, still in my suit and heels, because they only just got her settled into a hospital room.

She’s having a blood transfusion.

She had one before. Here’s the family’s oft told story about it.

AIDS was new and mysterious at the time. Nana was afraid to have blood from the blood bank. She wanted to select her donor by reputation.

We all volunteered and learned we weren’t pure enough.

Auntie Doreen, Nana said, was the only one she believed was truly innocent. She wanted that blood, and that’s the blood she got.

Doreen’s husband, my Uncle Punt, came in after the transfusion and shook his head at my grampa. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But now that she has Doreen’s blood, she’s going to want to go out for dinner every night.”

And you know what? She did.

The time my mom sewed

November 3, 2012

My Oldest Friend was having a parenting dilemma. It was the day before the first day of school, and her boy wanted a lunchbox that she feared the other kids would tease him for.

It was an expensive lunchbox, and she would have to pay shipping to boot, because it was available only by order.

At issue was paying for the thing, and then having him abandon it after a day because of the mean kids.

Which of course reminds me of something that happened to me as a child.

My mother, who doesn’t sew, made me an outfit.

She has a machine, and all the accouterments. She has always had a fully stocked sewing kit. One day she drove herself down to House of Fabrics — because she thought she was supposed to, I guess — and bought bobbins and a tracing wheel.

And then one day she decided to make me an outfit.

This coincided with My Oldest Friend, The Horrible Person and me putting on a home staging of “Annie.” The Horrible Person was the star, and My Oldest Friend and I were orphans.

The Horrible Person instructed us to bring orphan clothes with us on Friday.

On Wednesday I wore my new homemade outfit, because after several months’ labor, it was finished. The pants and blouse were made of the same fabric. Have you ever seen hand-made recycled paper? The fabric kind of looked like that, but in red.

My mom dropped me off in the morning, and The Horrible Person was in the kitchen. “Oh no!” she yelled in front of my mother.

“You didn’t wear that because you’re dressing as an orphan, did you?” She made a disgusting expression on her face that right now makes me want to smack her one.

My mom reacted strongly. That night she took the outfit and threw it out.

I wanted the outfit, teasers be damned.

Based on this, I bade My Oldest Friend get the lunchbox.

She did.

There was no teasing.

The nerd party story

November 2, 2012

Every Monday night my kids’ band has to show up to practice in costume. Each section has a theme. Tonight, my son’s section went as nerds.

When My Junior High Best Friend and I were in ninth grade we threw a nerd party.

I would give anything to put the invitation verbage on this post. I have one of the invitations somewhere. It was in rhyme, and it was brilliant. I’ll look for it. Check back.

Essentially it told guests to put on their polyester high waters and come on over for an evening of dancing and junk food.

We had a great turnout. We put my Hitachi turntable in the laundry room window and blared The Clash onto the deck, where all our favorite ninth-graders were getting their groove on.

It never occurred to either of us to dress up. I wore tapered jeans with a The Who final tour concert shirt.

Then a boy named Doug walked in from the driveway. He had an elaborate nerd get-up on. It was beautiful. He had too short plaid pants that came up to his nipples, and fake bucked teeth under greased-down hair.

He got up onto the deck, looked around in horror at everyone in street clothes, and ran back up the driveway.

He ran all the way home, several blocks away, and changed his clothes.

My mom was disturbed. “That poor boy is going to remember that moment for the rest of his life.”

Great, now I was disturbed.

So disturbed I remembered it for all of my life.