Posts Tagged ‘2001’

The magic trick story

September 3, 2013

I hate a magic show.

To me, it’s like someone coming up and saying, ‘I know something you don’t know, and I’m gonna make you want to know it, and then never tell you.’

The only tricks I’ve enjoyed are the ones my son did when he was a small boy. I liked those, because I knew how they worked.

But his magicianship came to an abrupt halt after one bad experience.

We had flown to Colorado for a friend’s wedding. The groom bought my son a $35 trick coin.

One side of the fifty-cent piece popped off, revealing a centavo.

The trick was to show the two pieces and make as if you were putting them both in someone’s hand, but really you snap them back together and give them the trick coin and a quarter, which was hidden underneath. When you ask them to close their eyes and hand you the centavo, they find there isn’t one. See a video here

My son improved on this by planting a real centavo on a dupe. This way he could add a little surprise at the end, pretending the coin jumped into the watcher’s pocket.

He practiced his routine in Colorado, and was ready to try it out on the airplane coming home.

It was perfect. The flight attendant leaned across him to give my daughter a ginger ale, and he slipped a centavo in her apron pocket.

He waited until she came by later to attempt the trick. She didn’t have time for it.

Several times he tried to get a moment with her, but she was too busy.

She started getting short with him. He realized he had become an irritation and abandoned the effort, but he wanted his centavo back.

I persuaded him to consider the coin a loss, and promised we’d round up another one when we got home.

That’s when he realized he had put the trick coin in the flight attendant’s apron.

At that point, though, she was aggressively avoiding him, and he had to hail the flight attendant in the front section for help.

She called to our lady while standing next to our row. Now our lady was downright snippy. “I told him I don’t have time!”

“He dropped a coin in your apron for a magic trick,” she hollered the length of the aisle.

So much for trying it on a passenger.

And so much for the $35 fifty-cent piece. He got it back, only to accidently spend it within a week.


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 palm tree story

June 25, 2013

My husband loves to torment me by saying a palm tree is not a tree.

I am a native Southern Californian. We’re sentimental about our palm trees.

He is a native New Yorker, and a biology teacher.

“They’re not trees. They have no cambium and no bark.” He calls them palms.

I say, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

This has gone on for years.

I roll my eyes at him vigorously, but I do respect the man and his knowledge. Secretly I used to figure he knew what he was talking about.

One night when I was a copy editor, I got a story that referred to a palm tree. It pained me, but I struck the word ‘tree.’

The editor next to me looked at my screen. “Why did you do that?”

“Palms aren’t trees. Morphologically, they’re more like grass,” I regurgitated.

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” he said. I didn’t know how I felt about that.

He pulled out an encyclopedia. Under ‘palm’ it said ‘tree.’

I went home ready to crack my husband’s ass the other way.

Because I considered him an authority, I embarrassed myself in front of my colleagues. (More accurately, I was angry at myself for not looking it up before changing the story.)

Tonight at dinner he started in again. Our new place has about 30 palm trees in the yard. We were eating under the wisteria arbor, and he pointed one out to say a thing. I forgot what.

Then he said, “Of course, it’s not a tree.”

This makes me crazy. I said mad things at him.

As I stormed into the house I heard him say, “Wind her up, and watch her go.”

The James Bond theme

May 19, 2013

My son and husband just rented Quantum of Solace. They’re doing their guy thing in the living room, while my daughter and I make baby clothes for my brand new niece.

We have Grey’s Anatomy on. It’s making us cry. We are not doing the guy thing.

I have never seen a James Bond movie. It’s my son’s first.

One Christmas I got the game Cranium. My son and I were a team, and I drew a name-that-tune card. It was the James Bond theme.

Shoot, I didn’t know the James Bond theme.

So I hummed the Mission Impossible theme.

My son yelled, “The James Bond theme!” and we won the game.

Yeah, we’re that good.

A proud moment

May 13, 2013

On Oprah, which I now tape and watch, thanks to my grama, they had an episode about children who commit suicide because of bullying.

It was heartbreaking.

But then there was one woman who shared a bright story, about a group of kids who saw a child being bullied and stood up in a circle around her. Their standing up for her, the psychologist said, gave her the confidence she needed to handle taunting in the future.

This reminded me of a phone call I got when my son was in second grade.

A man I didn’t know called and asked if I was my son’s mother.


He identified himself as Alyssa’s father. He wanted to know if I had heard what happened at lunch.

Uh-oh. “No, sir, I haven’t heard a thing.”

He was quiet a moment. Then when he started talking, I could tell he was trying not to cry.

Alyssa had gone home and told him some kids were calling her names like ‘gay,’ ‘nerd’ and ‘loser.’

Awwww. Alyssa was a sweet, tiny, timid thing who wore glasses.

He said Alyssa told him my son stood in front of her and yelled at the bullies. He told them to stop it. He said to be nice to her. He said Alyssa was his friend.

By that point the dad had given up trying not to let the tears come.

Me too.

The kindergarten craft story

May 10, 2013

On Mothers Day when my daughter was in kindergarten, I got a matchbox on a ribbon. It was a necklace.

My daughter had glued heart-shaped pasta to the outside and a photo of herself on the inside, locket style. The box and pasta were sprayed gold.

It made a perfect lanyard for my press ID. I wore it everyday.

One night a month later there was an evening school event. The kindergarten teacher threw her arms around me.

Unbeknownst to me, her husband had been getting a haircut when I took my son to the barber that afternoon. He saw the necklace dangling over my suit.

She explained to me that her staying up late spraypainting the projects gold irritated him. He suggested it was a waste of time .

My going to the barber earned her an apology.

Happy Mothers Day back atcha.

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 animal shelter story

February 28, 2013

I had thought moving to California would end my JonBenet-obsessed sleepless nights.

It didn’t work. I would fall asleep, but every noise sent me running into the kids’ rooms.

I decided we needed a dog. I decided a dog would have saved JonBenet.

My husband was skeptical. “You hate dogs,” he reminded me with that voice he uses on the children.

I explained that if we could get a dog that doesn’t beg, jump on people, sniff crotches, lick or smell like a dog I would be fine.

He explained that what I wanted was a cat.

I did some research on breeds, (and by ‘I,’ I mean ‘the newsroom’s research librarian.’) It turned out a husky was a good breed for me.

I found a litter in the classifieds and merged onto the freeway. I was getting excited about a little puppy I could hold in my hand, with fuzz on his ears and a fat belly.

About 10 minutes into my drive I had a thought. I should have peeked at the animal shelter first. Back to town I went.

The person behind the desk lit up. They got a husky puppy in yesterday. Let’s go see.

She led me past a row of little concrete cells with bad dogs in them, barking at me and jumping up on the bars. At the end I could see a darling little fuzzy dog sitting politely, looking longingly. I didn’t want it.

This dog, in sitting position, was almost to my thighs. I had already had the vision of my new dog squirming in my hand.

I was embarrassed to reject her recommendation out of hand, so I thought I would pat its head and say ‘good pup’ and go. She said, “I’ll take him out so you can spend some time with him in the playyard.”

I wanted to say, ‘You don’t need to open the kennel.’

She fumbled with the keys at the playyard gate. I stood behind her waiting for this to be over so I could go get my hand puppy. The big puppy was sitting calmly next to me.

He scooted closer to my leg subtly, like he was sneaking it. Then he leaned his body until his shoulder and head were against my knee. I was softening.

Then, without lifting his head, he looked up at me. The only things he moved were his eyebrows and my cold heart.

“You don’t need to open the gate,” I finally said, but not for the same reason I’d wanted to at the start.

They must have pegged me as dog-ignorant right off the bat, because he’s not a husky. He’s an Akita mix.

But he doesn’t jump, lick, beg, sniff crotches or smell like a dog.

I like him better than my cat.

Link to photos

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.

I panicked

September 11, 2012

Just as I said about being in a big earthquake, everybody’s got a Sept. 11 experience to share. Mine is embarrassing.

I woke up that morning when my husband came in the bedroom and turned the news on.

He said, “This is it. This is war. The shit’s hitting the fan.”

But I heard, “This is the day we’re going to have that nuclear war you’ve worried about your whole life.”

This is a terrible way to wake up.

I looked at the screen and started firing questions. The second plane had just hit the second tower. My Adrenalin was rushing, and I couldn’t process the information.

I climbed out of bed to see the TV better, and Jim Miklashevski said with a tremble, “I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we just felt and heard what seemed like an explosion at the Pentagon.”

That was the turning point for me. I thought bombs were dropping, leadership would be wiped out, and we’d be living the end verse of Nena’s 99 Luftballons.

I had two lucid thoughts: I regretted having children, and my bowels were turning to water.

I started to beg my husband to stay home. He raised his eyebrows and told me no as he knotted his necktie.

It was the second day of school. My kids were in first and third grade. My husband’s students were freshmen.

He put a cassette in the VCR, hit record and left. The children were just getting up.

This was bad. I was panicking, no one was helping me and I was in charge of people.

Let me back up a day, to explain my son’s state of mind.

On the playground after school he scaled the top of the new tube slide. The new principal, who was scary and mean, scolded him. He scowled and defended himself.

I told him that we were going to school early the next morning so he could go in her office and apologize for being disrespectful. He was so nervous about this his stomach was sick.

My daughter, as always, was just chill.

I took them to school and called in at work. They were not pleased. I worked in a newsroom, after all.

I went to Mama’s house. Nana showed up too. After about an hour I couldn’t stand it; I pulled my children out of school. I figured if it was our last day alive, we were going to spend it together, laughing. We got ice cream and rented Back to the Future.

I was so stressed out, I was wishing I had what I used to consider real trouble — money, kids, conflicting obligations. I told my mom, “I would give anything to have my old problems back.”

It took me months to come down from the panic. I was at the top of the short list for counseling at work.

I learned about nukes and international relations and terrorism. I learned how ignorant I was. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s fright.

I let my son wait a week before apologizing to his principal, who was a bitch about it.

It was a horrible time all around.

The road trip fight

September 5, 2012

In the summer of 2001 we drove up the west coast for vacation.

It was two weeks of heaven, with one day of hell tacked on the end.

Our last stop was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. By then we had seen Hearst Castle, Carmel Beach, the California Redwoods, The Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the Rogue River, Seattle, Victoria Canada and San Francisco.

We were tired. The kids were 6 and 8.

Several hours from home they started this:

“Stop saying OK!” “OK!”

They didn’t stop until they fell asleep 40 miles from our driveway.

They did this naturally, but only because I didn’t have access to chloroform.

click here for photo