Archive for the ‘mike’ Category

The trip to the emergency room story

June 29, 2013

My Oldest Friend’s baby took a random toddler spill and ended up in the E.R. with a broken nose and battered mug. Today there is also a gruesome black eye.

Mr. Oldest Friend is across the country on a business trip.

I feel for her, balancing an injured baby on one knee and keeping her preschooler from feeling ignored on the other; and for Mr., seeing ghastly photos of his little girl on the monitor — unable to be there offering strength, comfort and protection.

I’m an hour away from her, and I feel helpless, so I’ll bet he’s crazy with it.

Being a parent is much more painful than being a kid in pain, I say.

Here’s how I know.

One afternoon we bought a steam cleaner. That year we had adopted a puppy.

My 8-year-old son saw an opportunity in the empty box, which, as it happens, slid beautifully over the carpeted steps.

And which, he discovered with delight, he fit inside.

He went up to the landing halfway between the third floor and second, climbed into the box with his bed pillow and rode belly down and feet first to the bottom.

When the box hit the landing, the top swung over. The back of my son’s head hit the hardwood floor with a sound like when you drop a watermelon.

He lay there, noisily. 

I had been making chocolates when I heard the launch. I ran to him, but didn’t know what to do. He wouldn’t lift his head. I’m not good in a crisis, it turns out.

I called my husband, who was shooting pool in Uncle Mike’s garage.

I told him our son went down the stairs in the steam-cleaner box. My husband laughed. “That’s hilarious!” he said. I was in no emotional state for his not getting it. He proceeded to say the wrong thing: He told me to calm down.

Then he said something productive: Check his eyes to see if the pupils are the same size. They were.

“Let me talk to him.” I handed the phone to my son on the floor. He had calmed, and wanted to hear about Mike’s new pool table.

He’ll be fine, my husband said. He’s just stunned.

After lying there a while my boy got up and started moving around the house. He ate a few chocolates, but he wasn’t right.

At 6:30 p.m. he lay on the couch and said his vision was blurry.

That was it. We were off to the emergency room.

My husband met me in that little room where they check blood pressure, weight and temperature. My son got off the examining table, puked my chocolates into the sink, and lay back down. He went promptly to sleep. We couldn’t wake him.

A doctor was summoned. He said something about checking for bleeding on the brain and used the word ‘fatal.’ We were off to a CAT scan.

It was much ado about nothing. My husband was right. After about 15 hours of sleep the blurry vision was gone and so were the rest of the chocolates.

I wasn’t so quick to recover.

Thinking of my girlfriend sitting in the emergency room from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. brings it all back.

So I write this in empathy for her, so she knows I know that sometimes, you just gotta hang your head and cry.


The hot tub story

May 29, 2013

I asked the family, “What story do I tell for Uncle Mike’s birthday?”

I got the most insulting look from all three. Then they said at once: The hot tub story. Duh.

It’s a family favorite.

One night Mike was out partying and he met a girl he really wanted to take home. He invited her to come over and get in the hot tub.

Mike didn’t have a hot tub.

When they got to his house, (and by ‘his house,’ I mean his parents’ house), he gave her a drink, put in a movie and went out to heat up the tub.

After wandering around the yard for a minute, he came back in and waited with her. Every half hour or so he went outside to check the temperature. He turned the garden hose on his hand and came back in shaking it dry. “It’s not warm yet. Let me get you another drink.”

Michael is a bad boy, and he was rewarded for it.

Memorial Day

May 25, 2013

Today is supposed to be in memory of people who died in service to our country.

I don’t know any.

But I know a lot of people who were willing to.

I know that my grandmother (on my mom’s side) married my grampa immediately before he was shipped to Europe to fight in World War II as a member of the Army Air Corps. There was no communication for three years. She didn’t know, during all that time, if he was alive.

And I know that Granny (on my dad’s side) spent every night of the Vietnam War watching fish swim around her tank. My dad was in Da Nang. He had enlisted in the Air Force, and she couldn’t do anything but watch the fish and try to keep breathing.

And I know Boom Boom lost her job when her husband was sent to Afghanistan. She was unable to work nights and be a single mother of four girls. Her employer couldn’t accommodate her shift request. That only added to the stresses of having a husband at war.

Whether being at war was a wise move or a mistake, supported or protested, right or wrong, they volunteered to do whatever was asked of them. They and their families sacrificed comfort and safety so people like me could enjoy the life of freedom, comfort and safety this country has to offer.

Arthur Anderson, Tony Aulbach, William Badgely, Bob Barton, Fred Bauman, Sandy Beach, John Berry, Bill Buchanan, Ramon Cesneros, Howard Chapman, Stephen Chapman, Newton Cole, Neal Derry, Summer Duval, Jason Frey, Bill Garcia, John Guerrero Sr., Harold Houser Sr., Skip Howard, Sam Irwin, Jay Johnson, Albert Landeros, Dan Landeros Sr., Danny Landeros Jr., Eddie Landeros, Raul Landeros, Lee LeBlanc, David Lowy, Joseph Lucero, Tom Martin, Bill and Marie Elaine McClintock, Aaron Mello, Chris Miller, Edwin “Bill” Momberger, Chris Nicholoff, Donald Park Sr., Joseph Park Sr., William Park, Carlos Puma, Tim Radsick, Phil “Sonny” Romero, Alex Salmon, Rick Sforza, Kyle Siegel, Elbert “Smitty” Smith, Monte Stuck, Charles Wheeler, Vickie Wilson, and their families.
Not all of them are still with us, but they all came home.

Not all of them are still with us, but they all came home.

To those on my list and those I neglected to mention, thank you for your service.

The fart story

April 25, 2013

Twenty-three years ago Mike and I were in a dark liquor store, waiting for our friend Hairy Gary to lock up.

Gary was a good-looking guy Mike had met lifeguarding, I think. He had more body hair than any human I’d ever seen.

In fact, about seven years ago I was at the grocery store and I caught a glimpse of a guy behind me in line. I couldn’t believe I’d seen as much hair as I thought I did, so I turned again and pretended I was looking for someone, so I could see if that really was a rug peeking out the neckhole of that tank top and covering the shoulders of that shopper.

It was, and it was a reunion with Mike’s old pal.

This is not germaine to my story.

So Hairy Gary was waiting for Mike and me to walk through the liquor store door, so he could lock it. As I went by, I leaked some gas.

It was silent, but Gary noticed. He said, “Mike, did you fart?”

I was mortified. I was about to be obviously lying.

But Mike just made an impatient expression and said, “Yeah, Gary, I farted. Are we leaving or not?”

I loved Mike at that moment. Only a true friend takes the blame for your farts.

I was deeply appreciative, and still thinking about it in the car as we headed to the bar. I started laughing.

Mike was totally irritated after waiting so long for Gary to get off work. He said, “What?”

I promised to tell him one day.

Twenty-three years I remembered this promise. Now I’ve made good.

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.


September 10, 2012

Years ago my Unca Rob started a football pool. He invited Uncle Chauncey, Mike, my husband, my biological father, my sister’s husband, more of my uncles and a couple of other people.

My husband hadn’t watched football since I’d known him, and he doesn’t like betting on stuff, but I’m game for anything, so I asked Unca Rob if I could join in his stead.

Unca Rob never tells me no.

In the beginning he had set up a non-existent player named ‘Dumbass.’ Dumbass was going to generate random picks. It was an experiment to see if studying statistics did any good.

I pointed out that I had never seen football, and would be voting for teams based on colors, mascots and whether I had good memories in the towns they played for.

My husband told me with exasperation that I was not influencing the game, and to please stop calling it voting. 

It was unanimously decided that I would suffice as the team’s Dumbass.

I did very well that year. Apparently nobody else was as savvy as I  about dolphins’ being cuter than rams, or pirates’ being more fun at a party than saints.

But the best part was the banter.

It was smart, razzy and hilarious. I saved every posting.

One of my cousins was quiet — and got hounded for it — before he quit the pool at the end of the season with the comment that he didn’t know there was a minimum SAT score required for participation.

My husband said, “I can see how being in a chat with you, Rob, Chauncey and Jan would be intimitating.”

He was clever to include me in that list, even though we both know I’m not in that league.

No one considered putting Mike on that list.

Mike is our whipping boy. (Watch the comments for Mike’s two cents. He will point out that he wins the pool every year. As if that matters.)

The next year Rob kicked everyone out who wasn’t chatty — even his son, whose sole posting, after a round of ‘What the hell is a seahawk, anyway?’, was “You people are clogging up my inbox. P.S., a seahawk is a breed of osprey.”

Last year my birthday goal was to start watching the games.

Now I’m addicted.

Though we had a teaser game on Thursday, tomorrow is the meaty beginning of the 2011 season. I’ve waited 9 months. It was agony.

Don’t call the house. I’ll be wearing my Chargers jersey and cheering my dumbass head off.

The ditching story

September 8, 2012

I have to write something that makes me smile tonight, as therapy. I am so angry with the employees of Barnes & Noble in Riverside that I feel violent. They have no kind of concern for their customers.

So here is one of my favorite stories. Even in my fuming state, I’m chuckling thinking about it.

One day in high school I played hooky. I had no choice. I had cut school the day before, and the Laverne & Shirley episode I watched was to-be-continued.

At the end of the episode I called Mike to chat.

He scolded me. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

I lied. “I’m in the library. We’re here for the whole period. My English class is supposed to be picking out a monologue, but I already picked mine out.”

There really was a pay phone in the school library. I really had already picked out my monologue.

We talked about whatever we used to talk about. Then I feigned distracted.

In the middle of one of his sentences I said, “Hold on. Dude, hand me that book. I’m sorry, go ahead.”

He started cracking up.

I’m no kind of liar.

The birthday gift

August 16, 2012

Today I am a 42-year-old.

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

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

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

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

The favor story

August 11, 2012

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

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

I haven’t.

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

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

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


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

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

This is how much I love Michael. I went.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Driver license

July 6, 2012

My son is getting his driver license today.

When he started driver ed a year ago, we each gave him our biggest piece of advice.

Here’s the collection:

  • Uncle Jer says, “My dad always said ‘At a yellow light, if you can stop, do.’
  • I say, “Be predictable. Expect everyone else to be unpredictable.”
  • My husband says, “Be aware of your surroundings.”
  • My dad says, “Don’t be the fastest car on the freeway.”
  • My Oldest Friend’s husband says, “Always use your indicator.” After some investigating, I learned this is a turn signal.
  • I say, “Don’t drive like Uncle Mike.”
  • What I wish I could say is “Never go anywhere. Stay home with your mama.”

Mike tried to get me in a catfight

June 20, 2012

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

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

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

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


Teri was Amazonian. She was an athlete.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

She said dismissively, “I probably am.”

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

Station change

March 31, 2012

We have a rock station in Southern California, KCAL, that Mike and I listened to in the late ’80s.

One March 31 we were parking outside a restaurant, where we meant to have a beer. Before Mike turned the ignition off, the disc jockeys mentioned they were in countdown — 45 minutes left of KCAL.

They were crying. We looked at each other, “What?”

We waited. At the next break they told those just tuning in that the station was purchased, and would change to a country-western format. It would be KCOW.

We sat in protest. KCAL was iconic. This was not OK.

As it came closer to midnight, the program went into full good-bye mode. People were calling. Memories were shared. We sat in the car.

At the stroke of the hour there was a second of silence, and then a drawn-out cow’s moo.

I caught on.

A hick-voiced jockey came on talking about the incoming era of beer, dogs and trucks.

Mike caught on.

The jockey gave it up. “Gotcha,” yeah, he did. “April Fools.”

Mike turned the ignition back to start, and we just went home.

The firing story

March 22, 2012

Last night ‘Uncle Mike’ came over and jammed with the family on Guitar Hero. I rock. The machine told me so.

Mike was intimidated by the guitar, and wasn’t going to touch the microphone for nobody, so he was drum guy.

But the dots came at him too fast.

In the end Mike worked the foot pedal. He rocked.

I’ve been friends with Mike since I was 17, and he was 22.

I had worked as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant, where the bar had a proper dance floor, disc jockey and tables. After I had been there about six months, the manager built a sports bar and grill next door and asked me to come over to train the hostess staff and work there managing them. I had to dress like a cheerleader. Fun fact: That is the same building where I later sang with a cover band. It is currently Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club.

I became friends with one of the waiters, Hal, who dressed like a baseball player. He was going through something with his girl and we would talk after work.

One day he introduced me to his little brother, whose name a I promptly forgot. He would be working as a busboy with me next door.

His shifts must have always been when I was at the sports bar, (which had a proper dance floor and pool tables), because my concerns about having to address him as ‘Hal’s brother’ never came about.

Then one night I was at the Mexican restaurant and I heard rumblings about two busboys getting fired. It seems the one that was old enough bought a beer for the other, who was underage, right in the restaurant’s bar.


I knew who Rod was, but I didn’t have a face to assign the name ‘Mike,’ so I assumed that was Hal’s brother.

Then Mike walked in, wearing his uniform and carrying his apron. I was confused, “What are you doing here? You’re fired.”

I guess he was the last to know.

My agreeing that he was innocent kicked off a lifelong friendship. He assumed Rod was 21.

Rod got his job back.