Archive for March, 2013

The hair-in-the-shower story

March 28, 2013

I lose a handful of hair everytime I wash it. To keep it out of the drain, I stick it to the wall during my shower, then throw it in the trash after.

My husband one day accused me of sticking it to the wall and leaving it there.

“I have never.”

Now, obviously he was right, or how would he know I stuck it to the wall? But I felt sure I never left it there.

I had the nerve to hold my ground.

The next night during my shower I got an idea that struck me as terribly funny. I wrote “HI” on the shower wall with my hair.

And left it there.

I came out of the bathroom and told the kids what I had done.

When my husband went to take his shower, the kids and my goddaughter, who was living with us at the time, ran with me into the office. It was across the hall from the bathroom.

My daughter giggled, “Wait for it…”

We were rewarded with a chuckly bellow, “Oh, you are such a pig!” 

Marriage is fun.

The streaking story

March 26, 2013

This is the story about when my grama streaked her knitting club. I tell it in honor of her birthday today.

I don’t know when it happened. She said she thinks she was in her seventies. I think she means it was during the ’70s, but she says no.

She says it was when everyone was ‘doing all that streaking.’

Now, my grama is too proper and modest to run naked past anyone, but she hates to be left out of the fun. She reconciled this by getting a flesh-colored body suit and stitching dark yarn in the appropriate patches.

When time came in the evening to have tea and dessert, my grama excused herself to the bathroom, doffed her street clothes and ran through the shocked clutch.

Nana laughs everytime she imitates her oldest sister yelling her name out in shame. Auntie Eggs would have been in her seventies in the ’70s, and in her eighties in my grama’s seventies, so either way, she was old and appalled.

My grandmother’s biggest concern was driving to and from. Once she got on the road, she was seized with the panic that she might get in a car accident and die.

What would the emergency workers think when they saw those brown felt nipples?

My grandfather never knew any of this happened.

How I met my husband, continued

March 23, 2013

This is the 21st anniversary of my becoming my husband’s girl.

The story I told before happened on March 22. Here’s what happened the next day.

From the airport in Hilo we were taken to the Big Island Rainforest Action Group headquarters, a building/campsite area in the forest. Many people had tents, but I had never camped before, so I slept on the floor of the main room indoors.

The Aries with the blue eyes slept in his friend Matt‘s tent.

In the morning someone with a car announced he was taking all of these hippies to the beach. I put on my neon one-piece and away we went.

We piled out on the side of a road. The driver pointed to steps and drove off.

I froze at the top of the steps. Everybody down there was naked. Hippies were running down the wooden steps whooping and peeling off their tie-dyes.

The beach was gorgeous. All the sand was black, because it was from the volcano. The ocean was clear aquamarine in front of us. We had palms and papayas behind.

I spread out my towel and lay there in my suddenly louder-than-neon one piece, watching naked hippies play Frisbee.

The Aries and Matt came to sit with me. We ate papayas and watched dolphins frolick close to shore. Later a humpback whale swam over and waved its fluke at us.

Back at the campsite all of those protesters had sunburned privates.

I had gotten to know the Aries pretty well by now. So well that Matt suddenly wanted to sleep outside, which left a vacancy in the tent if I wanted it. He said this in front of a nasty guy who had offered me tent space earlier, so I had to turn him down to protect feelings.

The Aeries asked if I would rub lotion on his burned back. He suggested I bring my baby oil over and give him a lube job.

I said, ‘I know your type, lube ’em and leave ’em.’

I think he hasn’t left me yet just to prove me wrong.

I went to a bar

March 20, 2013

I was kidnapped on St. Patrick’s Day.

Three amazing men, John, Paul and George — the top reporters from the paper where I worked as a copy editor; the top poker players in my league; the people living in my other house — showed up after dinner to take me out to a pub.

I refer to them as ‘The Beatles.’

One minute I was on the phone with My Oldest Friend and the next I’m drinking Guinness in a bar that used to be the corner drug store — the very building where The Playboy Story took place.

I’ve been a wife and mom for about 17 years. The bar scene has changed a lot since I’ve been in it.

In the late ’80s there was always a dance floor and a disc jockey. Often there were pool tables. We would find a table, drink and dance with anyone who asked. It was a blast.

Now there’s a big empty room packed with bodies and a jukebox, if they still call it that.

I didn’t know what to do.

We stood there for a few minutes. Young people with fresh skin and hip clothes were everywhere. I was thinking I felt old.

John “Scotchie” said, “I feel old.” Yeah, well.

He said, “All I can think is that this crowd is a fire hazard. And the music is too loud.” Amen.

I watched a juvenile bartendress make some shots that looked like Shamrock Shakes. She squirted whipped cream on the top and handed them to giggly 20-somethings in tight green tank tops.

I looked down my nose at this. I thought those sissy girls were drinking that foo-foo because they can’t shoot whiskey with the big boys.

I have no idea why I thought I could. I’m the size of the average sixth-grader.

I ordered shots of Jameson, and clinked with The Beatles. “Sláinte.”

One Guinness and I think I’m a hardy Scotswoman.

Suddenly I didn’t care that there was neither dance floor nor room to move. I was dancing and singing along with Tom Petty, “… make it last all night.”

Suddenly I thought everyone in the bar was interested in hearing The Playboy Story. I showed everyone the window where it happened, as if it were the balcony John Wilkes Booth jumped over.

Now you know that I know that two drinks is my limit. But I had a second Guinness.

I felt old that night, but it was nothing compared to my age on March 18.

My St. Patrick’s Day joke

March 17, 2013

Every year I tell this joke to anyone who’ll listen:

What’s the difference between The Rolling Stones and an Irishman?

The Stones say, ‘Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud.”

An Irishman says, “Hey, McCloud, get off of my ewe.”

How we got our piano

March 16, 2013

My daughter is in Washington, D.C., for spring break.

When we went there on a family vacation we got a big thrill. A twin to our piano is on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

We have an antique quarter-grand Chickering. It has amazing sound, which we are told will continue to be true for generations.

We almost didn’t get it. When we found it in the classifieds, it was advertised at $2,500. We figured it was old; we’d have a tuner look at it and offer what it was really worth. If the old lady selling it let us pay a little every month we could pay off two grand in a year.

This plan began to fall apart when the tuner said it was worth more than she was asking, and completely unraveled when she told us she underpriced it, because she wanted the money right away.

It was a humiliating afternoon. My son was testing out the goods with a Bach piece when she threw us out of her powder-blue living room with a huffy ‘well I never!’

This was a month after his second surgery — the one to remove the disfiguring tumors.

Because whatever was wrong with him had never been seen before, the Discovery Channel did a Medical Diary episode about him. All of the local papers ran a story about the local boy who was on TV.

The day after the show first aired we got a call from the old lady we offended. She knew there was something special about that boy, she insisted.

She wanted us to take the piano for $2,000, pay for it as we were able, and accept the bench, lamp and sheet music to boot.

We had too much pride for that. We would pay the full price.

And by ‘pride,’ I mean money from my mother-in law.

link to photos

The Ides of March

March 15, 2013

Happy Ides of March. Does anyone else celebrate, or just me? Every year I retell the violent story of betrayal to my kids. It’s kind of my tradition to kick off spring.

This year the holiday is enhanced, because my daughter’s English class happens to be reading the account in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

One Ides when my children were toddlers, Sesame Street acknowledged the day. Muppet Julius Caesar had a triangle party.

All the little toga-clad muppets showed up carrying triangles. They brought them in all sizes and colors, which Caesar announced from his lounging chair, “Ah Augustus! I see you have a large blue triangle.”

Then Bruté walked in with a number.

The Caesar muppet was aghast, “A two, Bruté?”

What a difference an aide makes

March 14, 2013

It happened again.

Despite my caution, I ended up with another special class. They tricked me this time by listing a teacher’s name.

When I asked at the office what subject I had, she gave me three initials I didn’t recognize.

It took three questions to learn that there is another secret code for ‘children with behavior and emotional problems.’

I was optimistic right away. There were two aides who knew the children, knew the routine and had been trained for this. They had the four students under control. I seemed to have no duties.

I wanted to sit down with my novel, but that felt improper, so I walked around the room looking at what the kids were doing. I don’t know what my goal was, but it seemed teacher-like.

Let me introduce you to the class, who sat around the room in a semi-circle facing the wall.

First we have the boy whose job it was to curse. He was doing a math sheet, saying, “This is bulls***. Why do I have to do this f***ing s***? What kind of a**hole. . . ?”

The next boy was all about colors. He had multi-colored shoes, clothes and  backpack. He had pushed aside his math and was busy licking his desk.

The boy by the door was calmly working.

The girl in the class appeared to be applying makeup, but she was using a blue PaperMate.

Colorful boy stopped licking his desk and raised his hand. “My name is Matt.”

I introduced myself and put my name on the whiteboard. The girl began a campaign to prevent the others from using it. “Call her ‘Person’!”

Cursing boy made my day when he shook his head at her and told her she had issues.

The boy by the door finished his work and moved to face the wall, where he could press his nose deeply into his P.E. clothes. He was about 6 feet tall.

Cursing boy called me over to tell me about himself. I realized these children were smart.

He was telling me about his father, who is a ‘Po Po.’ I thought this was excrement, but I found out later it means police officer.

While I was listening to his story, trouble started with the boy against the wall. He was seated, facing away from the aides, who were upset.

“Carl,” an aide said. “Hand it over.”

“I’m Enrique,” Carl said.

“Do you want to spend the rest of the day in the office?”

“Tacos.”

“That’s it, let’s go.” I didn’t want them to take him away. I loved these kids.

An aide had his elbow. As they left the room Carl said, “Enchildas.”

I wish I could remember the three initials. I can’t wait to go back.

The dirty water story

March 13, 2013

My husband will eat or drink anything not in someone’s hand. I have almost no complaints about this man, but I have this one.

Tonight my daughter had a cup of chocolate pudding. I don’t know where it came from, but she was excited to find it in the cabinet. We made a deal: She could have it if she made the sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunches.

She opened it, put a spoon in it and set it down to get to work. Then my husband walked by and picked it up to eat it.

Spoon in hand he denied my accusations. I was forced to remind him of the time he got what he deserved.

My babies were born at Christmas time, and winter in Boulder was brutal. Our house was always cold. Instead of baby wipes, I used to fill a plastic cup with warm water and dip a washcloth in it. I did not use a cup from the kitchen.

I had changed a chunky diaper and ended up with a sleeping infant in my arms, the dirty water stranded on the table.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

In walked the reason I only ever got half a cup of coffee. He saw a cup with liquid in it and couldn’t resist. It had to be his. Fine.

I let him drink it.

He didn’t change. So much for learning through natural consequences.

And he didn’t get a kiss for a week.

Destiny

March 12, 2013

During our big kitchen remodel my potpourri disappeared. The bowl was there, but all the little citrus slices and nuts and stuff were missing.

The mystery was solved when I swept behind the couch in the parlor. There were mice droppings and dried citrus rinds. About this time my daughter yelled from the powder room that she saw a huge mouse scurry into the game closet when she turned on the light.

We found a hole going to the driveway where the electrician had run new wires.

My husband wanted to get traps. The ones that cut the mouse in half made me sad. The ones that glue the mouse to a board until he starves made me sad. Poison made me nervous. I closed the game-closet door.

After about a week my husband and I were in the kitchen space. It was bare but for wood floors and wood counters, which we were leaning against.

A big rat sauntered in, brave as you please.

A screaminger, hoppinger woman you never saw. I tried to get up on the counter, but my husband was yelling at me to get out of the room. I think he just wanted a minute of quiet.

He told me the rat could climb up on the counter. But the rat was by the door. I was trapped, hopping from one foot to the other, going, ‘Ah ah ah. I don’t like it.”

The next day I asked the contractor to fix the hole, put out those traps that cut the rat in half, put out the gluey boards, and sprinkle poison everywhere.

And on my way home from my daughter’s school I went to the Humane Society to get a great big cat. I would come to regret my choice of companion.

She went straight to the cage that held a pair of black-and-white kittens.

Oh, no, we’re not.

Here’s where my fear of destiny screwed me. My daughter asked the bad lady who was telling her that little kittens’ scent would keep rats away what their names were.

I ended up taking those stinky, useless kittens home.

They were News and Paper.

link to photos

Tormenting

March 11, 2013

For all of my son’s life, when he said from the back seat, “Hurry home, I need to go to the bathroom,” his parents would torment him.

If he was doing the pee-pee dance, we would say, ‘Whatever you do, don’t think about a waterfall.’

If he was doing the squirm, we would say, ‘Remember this morning when you were sqeezing the toothpaste out of the tube?’

Tonight I helped my son avenge his dad. My son was in the bathroom, and my husband was banging on the door in urgency.

Now before you feel sorry for him, he could have used my daughter’s bathroom if he had to go that bad. He could not go where I was about to take a bath.

I called out, “Honey? Don’t think about the log ride.”

This made him buckle over. Now he’s clenching and laughing at the same time.

“Remember when I gave birth, and the head started coming out?”

Harder banging on the door.

“Honey?”

He stopped me right there. He started heading for my bathtub room. He had all the power.

The beauty of this family is that no one ever takes vengeance on me. The miracle of this family is that no one has ever ruined his pants.

The pregnant teen-ager story

March 10, 2013

On my way to work at the paper I always listened to a morning radio show. One morning, in order to win tickets to a concert, a 14-year-old girl pulled a prank on her mom. She called her at work, live on the radio, and told her she was pregnant.

I got to work trying to compose myself, and inter-office messaged my girlfriend across the newsroom to meet me for coffee after my first batch of stories was edited.

I cried anew telling her about the mom’s response. She was calm. Her first words were, “It’s going to be OK, sweetie. I’m here for you. We’ll get through this together. No matter what we decide to do, it’s going to be OK.”

The child was trying to get a more dramatic reaction, and she upped the hysteria, “I wanted to go to college, and now this ruins everything. I’m so scared. I’m so sorry.”

She was quite an actress. The mother was all calmness, support and love. I was all quivering lower lip on the freeway.

About five years later my girlfriend interoffice messaged me to meet her for coffee. Her 14-year-old daughter had just discovered she was pregnant.

She told me she doesn’t know how she would have made it through that moment if I hadn’t fed her the words. Like a robot she recited: It’s going to be OK. I’m here for you. We’ll get through this together.

She held me and cried. She thanked me, as if I had done something other than cry on her shoulder in the cafeteria.

It’s five years later and my daughter is 14. If she gets pregnant I’ll kill her.

The sniper story

March 9, 2013

When I was in high school a sniper came to my town.

A retired woman was shot in the early morning walking her small dog. A man was shot having a lunch break in his truck. Everyday there was another death. No one knew who it was. There was no apparent motive.

After about four days of this came the weekend, and my friends and I went out as usual.

I think this was ill-advised. I formed this idea when my car broke down next to an orange grove.

Then I said my idea out loud. This was also ill-advised. I suddenly had a car full of panicking girls. That’s a fun Friday night, right there.

We knocked on a nearby home and called my dad. We piled into some poor stranger’s living room and waited, away from the window.

Saturday night I stayed home.

Sunday morning my girlfriend was freaking out. They had gone to the party spot overlooking the city, where teen-agers parked, turned up their stereos and hung out. It was an off-road labrynth of dirt paths in the hills.

It got chilly early, and my friends climbed in their car to warm up. Seconds later a burly man in fatigues waving what looked like a broomstick jumped on the hood of the station wagon.

As fast as they could, they locked their doors and peeled out of there.

So there’s my girlfriend on the phone Sunday, saying the guy on the front page of the paper under the word ‘Captured’ was the burly man. He seemed to have survived the fall from the car.

I don’t think he was waving a broomstick.

The movie date story

March 8, 2013

When the biopic The People Vs. Larry Flynt, came out in theaters, my husband and I went to see it on a date.

We’re big into dates. When we’re out, my husband refers to me as his best girl.

The theater was nigh on sold out, and we had to sit in the middle of the front row.

In one scene Mr. Flynt made a return appearance in a courtroom where he’d been scolded for disrespectful behavior.

He wheeled his chair in and took his place behind the defendant table. His T-shirt said, “F*** this court.”

The movie in no way addresses the shirt.

My husband and I were consumed with laughter.

Throughout the scene we would settle down when the camera cut away, only to start up again when it showed him presenting his defense in that shirt we were bending our necks to see.

Today we refer to that as the night we knew we were growing old with the right person.

Because throughout that whole scene, in that crowded room, no one else laughed.

My son took his best girl to the movies this afternoon. He came into the kitchen with wet hair, buttoning his cuffs and smelling like Axe.

He was ready.

The ghost story

March 7, 2013

I grew up in a haunted house.

It was a hundred-year-old craftsman that had for some time served as a convelescent home. We assume our ghosts were old people.

I’ve got 15 years’ worth of hauntings to talk about, but this is my favorite.

One afternoon, when I was in high school, my friends and I went to my house for lunch.

When it was time to return to class, I followed everyone through the hardwood entryway and was the last out the door.

The door had a wood frame, but was primarily glass panes. There was a sheer white curtain on the inside of it that didn’t do much to obscure the view.

On each side of the door were vertical panes of windows. Indoors there were thick glass shelves clamped in under each pane. My mother had little blown-glass vases on them that she bought at art shows.

It was my job to clean the glass in the entryway. I hated wrestling those shelves out of those metal clamps.

I was turning the key in the lock when I realized I had forgotten my purse. I changed the rotation of the key and stepped back inside the house.

I was barefoot. I was always barefoot. Fun fact: I fed the school some story about my American Indian heritage. I don’t know if they bought it, but they said if I carried my shoes around with me they would let it slide.

When I stepped back into the house I felt cold under my feet. I was standing on a 100-year-old glass shelf. I made a noise.

My friend had turned around yelled something like ‘no way.’

Ten little glass shelves were lined up like stepping stones from the door to the living room. The clamps were empty. The vases were gone.

Most people say, ‘They were probably like that when you walked out, and you just didn’t notice.’

This is impossible. Even if we hadn’t seen the path or the absence of vases, the shelves were thick. Four teen-agers had just tromped through there. One of us would have kicked them, and I would have felt the cold under my feet.

No one had had time to move them, and they sure didn’t fall.

Over the next four years my parents and I found those vases one at a time: one morning we spotted one behind the leg of a desk; another time one turned up in the refigerator.

My friends, meanwhile, didn’t go to my house for lunch anymore.

Copy editor miss

March 6, 2013

During my last week at the paper in Boulder, heads had to roll.

A factbox that put Roger Ebert’s review in a nutshell announced the movie ‘Fools Rush In’ was rated PG-13.

It should have proceded to explain that there was some sexual content.

Instead it explained that the movie contained ‘some sexual contentment.’

I hadn’t worked that night. You can check my schedule.

The standing on my desk story

March 5, 2013

During the year I subbed, or as I refer to it, Hell, it was on this date I finally got a job for my daughter’s class.

My daughter wasn’t there.

She was with her teacher at the school’s talent show.

At the end of the day, her friends said, “Your mom told us a story about standing on her desk.” She told me she heard this 30 times. 

As many times she said, “Yeah, I know that story.”

My daughter doesn’t think I’m as entertaining as I do.

I had to tell it after I introduced myself, because one of the children said, “Instead of calling you by name, can we just stand on our desks to get your attention?”

Middle school kids think they’re entertaining.

The first week of high school my geometry teacher was beginning a lecture on finding the measurement of an angle when I butted in, “Can’t we just subtract the other two angle measurements from 180?”

In hindsight I get that his point that day was to show us a different way to get the answer. His response to me was “I never said the angles equal 180.”

Yeah, but don’t they?

“Show me where it says that.” Silly me, I thought he really wanted me to.

He went back to his lecture.

I found it in the book and raised my hand.

He went on with his lecture.

Undaunted, I stood on my chair.

At this point it was a showdown. I sat toward the front. He couldn’t pretend not to notice me.

He pretended not to notice me.

I stood on my desk.

He no longer had the class’ attention. He dropped his chalk hand to his side and shrugged as if to say Uncle.

“Yes Miss C?”

“Page 94!” I was proud.

He didn’t seem proud of me. He went on with his lecture.

I never did learn the other way to find the measurement of an angle.

Sonnets

March 4, 2013

Two years ago on this date I taught eighth-graders how to write sonnets, and I told the children what I know best about sonnets: They have 14 lines.

Here’s why I will never forget that.

A month after the magical week of meeting my husband in Hawaii he flew to my family reunion to declare his intentions to my clan.

My grama was one of nine children, none of whom had died at that point. They were all there. Piling on all of their offspring made a big gathering.

My boyfriend and I had jumped in on a Trivial Pursuit game with two of my cousins and my mom. I was trying to look smart.

He read from a card, “How many lines are in a sonnet?”

I answered “five” and grabbed for the die. I was feigning confidence.

“Wait,” he seemed reluctant to tell me I was wrong. “A sonnet has…”

“Oh a sonnet,” I interrupted. “Seven.”

I made for the die again.

“Fourteen.”

“Oh a whole sonnet.”

That afternoon of fun was a pack of trying-to-catch-a-mate lying.

I was pretending to be a knower of things, and he was pretending to be a liker of games.

Our pants were aflame.

A ribbing

March 3, 2013

This morning my husband screwed something up, and my son and I were having fun at his expense.

We wouldn’t have ganged up on him, but my husband let his pride goeth before he attacked the whole system he failed at.

“Honey, you’re just wrong,” I said. He argued.

I called for a vote.

This sent my son and me into giggles.

My husband played along, “We need our daughter here for quorum.” He pronounced it ‘corem.’

My son said, “What’s corem?”

I said, “It’s an apple-orchard term. You’ll find it in the technical book with juicem and pickem.” We were all cracking up.

My poor husband tried to join in, “And sellem.”

We stopped laughing. Then my son and I spoke at once.

“You went too far.”

“That’s one more than we needed.”

We started laughing again. I said, “And if you say ‘eatem,’ I’m leaving.”

“Eatem.”

I left to take a bath, but I could hear my husband add, “Thank God that’s over,” and my son respond, “Well Dad, we still live here.”

I would hate to be teased so. Thank goodness for the double standard.

Frankenstein Road

March 2, 2013

Today is my Uncle Chauncey’s birthday. Uncle Chauncey is an imp.

He used to take his little cousins, my mama and Unca Rob, to a narrow road in town, where he said Frankenstein’s monster lived.

They were afraid. He was amused.

This road has an oft dry creek running alongside. It’s dark — lined with oaks and eucalyptus trees. It’s creepy.

He showed where the scientist’s plane crashed, stranding the monster. He showed them the propeller.

He said it was called Frankenstein Road.

Naturally, when I was a kid my mother did the same to me.

And you can bet I’ve taken my children monster scouting on that road during thunderstorms.

This family has many imps.

The phone cord story

March 1, 2013

I can’t go having an I-am-an-idiot category without telling this story.

Like most babies, my son used to like to play with the phone. Maybe today’s babies play with cell phones; their mamas can’t tell this kind of story.

To prevent calls, I would slip the cord out of it.

One night he was doing this on the couch with Uncle Jer and me.

The baby abandoned the buttons and reached down to the cord, which was still plugged into the wall. He put the end in his mouth.

Then he gaped, ready to wail. It was one of those wails you know is going to be bad, because the sound follows the expression about five seconds later. Usually the delay of sound was proportional to the loudness of the wail.

I was puzzled by his reaction. I knew phones worked when the power was off. Surely there was no electricity.

I closed my mouth around the end of the cord. It hurt.

I pulled it out and went, “AAAAHHHHHH.”

“Really?” asked Jer, who picked it up and put it in his mouth.

Idiocy loves company.