Posts Tagged ‘March’

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 bikini story

July 22, 2013

According to my friend’s car, it was 111 degrees here at 6 p.m. We’re having a hot spell.

Early today I took my to-do list out and crossed off everything I couldn’t carry out to the pool to accomplish.

Wearing clothing was asking too much. In fact, I’ve been in nothing but my bikini for three days.

Luckily, I have not needed to go to the post office.

I went into public in my bikini once 17 years ago. It did not go well.

When we lived in Boulder I cross-country skied almost every day. I would schedule my fall and spring classes with a gap between, so I could scoot up to Eldora between courses and run a couple of trails. I was totally isolated up there. It was glorious.

By March the trails were sunny. Even in winter I was warm when I skied, because I was working my arms and legs so much. With actual warmth, I was roasting.

One afternoon all my girlfriends were going to the park to study and tan. I hate to be out-tanned, but couldn’t not ski.

I had a great idea. I would ski in my bathing suit and get a pretty bronze tan on the mountain.

I was shy getting out of my car and trudging out to the track, shouldering my skis in nothing but a bikini and Nordic boots, but as always, there wasn’t another person anywhere.

After a short trek into the trees I forgot about being self conscious and enjoyed the cool on my skin. I was usually all sweaty.

Then things got ugly.

I was halfway down an expert slope — Gandy Dancer, I’ll never forget — and I fell. Skiing on snow in a bikini is a totally different thing from sitting on the snow in a bikini.

I couldn’t get up.

Everytime I tried to stand, my skis slid out from under me. Four times I ended up all the way on the side of the trail, and had to scoot backward into the middle to try again.

Wait. I left something out. As soon as I fell, lots of people started going by.

I have no idea where they came from. It was an endless stream of skiers, gliding down Gandy Dancer about five at a time. This throng of witnesses comprised people of all ages. That was the worst part, hearing children ask Daddy why that woman was sitting mid-hill in a bikini.

I got looks that said, ‘Well you’re bizarre.’

After a humiliating several minutes of failure, my butt was suffering. I tried to balance my cheeks on the skis because the snow was beginning to sting. I gave up, pressed my feet as close together as possible, sat on my heels and paddled myself right through two upright families to the foot of the slope.

Guess who was there, and on the rest of the trail. Nobody.

The kayak story

June 17, 2013

There’s a house in my neighborhood with a kayak on the front lawn. According to the sign, someone’s asking $400 for it.

This reminds me of a story that ends with me getting in a lot of trouble.

I moved in with my husband immediately after the wedding. It wasn’t great. He had refused to ask his friends who rented rooms in his house to move out.

One of the guys was particularly unaccommodating. He insisted I park around the corner so the guys could use the driveway. He told me I wasn’t welcome to use the grocery bags with the handles on them.

One day a kayak showed up on the front lawn. The place was disgraceful enough, what with the couch and broken stove on the porch. I took a stand against the kayak.

Unaccommodating Guy said he was keeping it for a friend, and there it would stay.

A couple of weeks later I was playing poker, and a guy I had never met commented that he really needed to win, because he was saving up for a kayak.

How fortuitous.

I shared that there was one for the stealing on my front lawn, and I implored him not to let this opportunity pass him by.

Two days later Unaccommodating Guy ran in the front door and dialed the police. This made me extremely uncomfortable. I hadn’t thought of that.

Then my husband ran in looking distressed. “Someone stole the kayak!”

It flashed through my mind to try to look surprised, but I’m no kind of skilled liar. I’m too afraid of getting caught. “I invited a guy to steal it.”

It got quiet. All eyes were on me.

I acted brave and sure, “It’s my house. No tenants have the right to use it to store other people’s things against my say so. Show me more respect next time.”

The police showed up and made a report. Our homeowners insurance replaced the guy’s kayak.

I’m a different woman now, and there’s a lot I would do differently if I could go back to that part of my life.

But not this.

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.


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.


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.

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.”


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.

The ski trip story

February 20, 2013

My kids are gone tonight with their school ski clubs. They’re great snowboarders. They didn’t get it from me.

Two cool guys, both named Steve, invited my high school best friend and me skiing once.

We were excited. We bought outfits. We looked great.

It turns out, this is not the important part of preparing for a ski trip.

It was still dark when the boys picked us up. We bopped in our seats to the Beastie Boys all the way up the mountain, flirting, laughing, looking great.

The Steves got on the lift in front of us. Our plan was to watch what they did and copy it.

First they glided off the lift. They unbent their knees and stood. Got it.

We had less finesse. Our skis tangled together and we were lucky to fall in a heap clean of the lift chair.

I don’t know if our inexperience was evident at that point, but I know we were no longer looking great.

The jig was up quickly enough, though, because we couldn’t get up. In fact, the lift attendant had to scoot us out of harm’s way by the armpits.

After lots of humiliating sliding we came to be upright. It didn’t last.

It was dusk when we got to the bottom of the mountain. We got there through a combination of sitting on the skis and gripping the fence we discovered abutting part of the trail.

Occasionally the Steves would call  to us from overhead as they ascended for another run. There was nowhere to hide from them.

We didn’t do any bopping on the drive home, but half of us did a lot of laughing.

The revenge on the ex-boyfriend story

February 12, 2013

My son just broke up with a girlfriend. She took it badly. Now her friends are warning him to look out.

I had a boyfriend in high school named Sean who had to look out.

Sean dumped me for one of my best girlfriends. I hadn’t been excited about this guy, but my pride was bruised.

He gave her crabs.

This was not my revenge.

Shortly afterward, I ran into Sean at a party. As I walked by, I caught him unawares with a fist to the gut. This was not my revenge either.

My revenge was writing this, and posting it around the high school:

Some you hit, and some you throw.

Some you kick and watch them go.

Some you pong, and some you ping.

Some are tethered on a string.

Some you miss, and some you catch,

But some are Sean’s, and those you scratch.

Sean has crabs. Pass it on.

How we met

January 19, 2013

I just drove my husband to the airport. The first time I laid eyes on him was in an airport.

Several Rainforest Action Groups from around the country were going to Hawaii for a protest. I was going as a newspaper reporter.

It was morning, almost 22 years ago, when I lay over a waiting chair at SFO listening to a bunch a hippies panic that their friend — the responsible one — wasn’t anywhere to be found.

I hoped he wouldn’t show, because we were on the same flight and I had a friend with a standby ticket.

At the last minute, a boy in a dress shirt and slacks with great need of a haircut came running into the gate, rugby duffel bag flying from his shoulder. His eyes were almost turquoise. I licked my lips. Then I got on the plane and slept for six hours.

In Honolulu we had to change planes before proceeding to the Big Island. To do this, we rode a tram across the airport. I hung back and watched the late but responsible friend interact with the hippies. He was attentive to everyone. He smiled when he talked. He seemed to be their leader.

I was thinking, he fits the description an interviewee gave me when I did a story on astrology a week ago. If there’s anything to it, he’s an Aries. I didn’t think there was anything to it, but I walked across the tram to where he was standing, (he had given a lady his seat,) and asked him if he was.

He was.

Then I took a shot at dumb luck. I put on my confident face and announced his birthday. Who knew my luck was so dumb? I hit it dead on.

Because I hoped he would follow me, I refused to tell him how I knew. I just walked away.

It worked.

link to photos

Throwing people in the pool

September 27, 2012

Last night at a party a girl came at my son to throw him in the pool. I know this girl. She is a perfect girl, and she was being playful.

My son is strong, and he is a capable wrestler. She didn’t stand  a chance.

He spun around and threw her in instead. He does not understand his strength, I think, or when to temper it. She got hurt.

I wasn’t there, but I’m understanding she slapped the water flat, and face down.

This reminds me of yet another moment from my childhood I have never gotten over.

We used to celebrate Easter every year at my Uncle Junior’s house. I don’t know why we call him Junior. His name is Bill, and his father was a Korean immigrant, whose name sounded nothing like Bill.

I wore my suit, but only to sit on the step. I never learned how to swim, and was afraid of the water. Specifically, I was afraid of putting my head under.

One year my Uncle Hot Shot grabbed me from the lawn area and started running toward the water. I screamed for all I was worth. He laughed and hurled my tiny flailing body into the deep end.

Chlorinated water burns when you gulp and inhale it. I remember not knowing which direction was up, and feeling my hands go numb. They do that when I panic.

At some point I made it to the edge of the pool. When I got my lungs working, I yelled at Hot Shot. “I hate you! I hate you so much!”

My mother, who was on a lounge chair poolside, fully clothed, turned beet red and started yelling at me.

I got in big trouble.

Now that I’m a mother, I’m more upset with her than Hot Shot. In fact, knowing Hot Shot, I’m sure he saw I was on my own, and was making an effort to include me in the antics. He may have thought my screaming and kicking was part of the game, but my mother knew I couldn’t swim. A word from her to stop him would have carried some weight.

And afterward, a little understanding toward me would not have come amiss.

Boulder weather

May 4, 2012

We’ve just pulled into the driveway from my daughter’s Bach concert this morning.

As we wended our way home through the palm trees and orange blossoms, a hawk soared above us. The sky is a perfect blue. People are out walking their dogs.

It’s 83 degrees.

As I got out of the car I heard maybe four varieties of birds singing. Our property is in full bloom, and the greenery is lush.

According to the Internet, it’s 41 degrees in Boulder, Colo. There’s a little picture of an angry cloud spraying a black sky.

I lived there for nine years.

That’s a solid 3,287 days I was a complaint machine.

In the winter, which begins in September, it’s cold. We had a heating system, but it was not possible to warm the house. In season, the best we could do was keep it warmer than outside.

When I have to wear a coat in my home, I get pissy.

Then summer comes. It’s miserably hot, and the only air conditioning is at the grocery store.

It’s not sunny heat, either. The days are gray, and there’s a thunderstorm at 3 p.m., come hell with high water.

I have nothing nice to say.

Compounding my thermal discomfort were all the people from Minnesota — how can so many people be from Minnesota? — who found Colorado weather mild. That was their favorite conversation topic.

When we started talking about moving back to California, which you may remember was largely because of the JonBenet Ramsey murder, it was January. The temperature had not reached zero in 16 days. And by ‘reached,’ I don’t mean ‘dipped to.’

There’s also something called ‘wind chill,’ which I do not fully understand, but I get that I don’t want any part of it.

Then one day in March the thermostat hit 60. Everyone went outside.

People put on shorts and grabbed their Frisbees.

I needed a sweatshirt. I can’t think of how to phrase how crabby this made me.

My girlfriend and I put the babies in the stroller and went for a walk. I was thinking, ‘Why do I live here?’

There was a 60-something woman on her knees, gardening in a sun hat and Mickey Mouse gloves.

She looked up and smiled at us. She said, “Isn’t this wonderful? Days like this remind us why we live here.”

I hope I didn’t growl at her, but I kind of think I remember a growl.

Now that we’re back in Paradise, I think about that nutcase 330 days a year.

I think, ‘Days like today remind me why I don’t live there.”

The eulogy story

April 23, 2012

Today would have been my Auntie Martha’s birthday. She was one of my grama’s many sisters.

When I was little she took care of me after school. She and her husband had raised five children and were the heart of the home for their grand- and great-grandchildren too.

When Martha was at the end, everyone went to the hospital. I was wearing mules — a hybrid between those things the dutch wear and boots. My daughter calls them ‘shoots.’ There is no back strap over the heel. As I stepped onto a grassy island in the parking lot, my heel came off the shoot sideways. Down I went, and I couldn’t get up.

My whole family was a few yards away, and all of them with their phones off — hospital rules. I sat there for 45 minutes. I was afraid I would miss my chance to say goodbye.

As it turns out, I had three more days.

Even though she died in her 90s, her babies and their babies were devastated by it. Consequently, her daughter asked me to write a speech for the service.

I had a lot to write, about the nurturing I felt in that home. Among the things they taught me was how to play poker. We gathered around the kitchen table one night with plastic chips after dinner when I was 12 and I got hooked.

On the day of the service I limped to the altar of the church.

In the middle of my eulogy I mentioned the poker and had to lower my eyes a moment. The podium was empty, I noticed, but for four plastic poker chips tucked under the shelf.

Auntie Martha calls.

Getting arrested — a love story

April 7, 2012

I’ve started putting photos on a site called Photos O’ Mine, if I’ve got them, relating to the stories on this site.

It’s not going well. I think the site is a little screwy. When I click save, fonts change, captions merge or move, pictures disappear. It looks wacky right now, but I’m diligent. Bear with me.

I was putting in pictures for How we met when it occurred to me I never wrote about the arrest.

So far I’ve taken you through the first two days. (See How we met, continued for day 2.)

On the third day there was a Save the Rainforest festival. My new boyfriend and I walked hand in hand and learned about each other. We seemed to be made to be together. At nightfall he said, “People say when you meet the right person you just know. I always thought that was stupid. But I met you, and I just know.”

The fourth day was the protest. More than 1,000 people met at the chain-link fence True Geothermal Energy Co. had erected in the Wao Kele O Puna rainforest. It was the biggest demonstration of its kind.

The first night of our stay we had ridden over to see where the demonstration would be. Mr. Blue Eyes had hopped out of the truck bed first and approached the fence. When he put his hands on it, he made like it was electrified. ‘Note to self: gorgeous eyes, environmentally proactive and funny.’

The protesters were not anti-geothermal power. It’s in fact a clean source of energy. The gripe was that True had bought different land for its drill site, but Mount Kilauea erupted and buried that site in hard, black lava. The allegation was that True then made an illegal land swap, taking without permission the last lowlevel rainforest in North America, which was also sacred religious ground to the natives.

So there we were, drowning in a tie-dyed throng in an emotional embrace, watching people squeeze one-at-a-time through a break in the fence. From there they were handcuffed, identified and put on a bus.

Hundreds were children. My boyfriend tried to point this out to me, but he choked on the words with tears. ‘Note to self: senstive. Take this one home.’

We took our turn as accused trespassers, then took our turn to reject the charge, based on our being on public land. Into the bus we went, joining the singing, “This is land is your land; this land is my land….”

One hundred thirty-three people were arrested. We didn’t fit in the Hilo jail, so they put us in a storage garage.

We sat on the cement floor and discussed our strategy of solidarity. By law, I learned, they had to arraign us within a certain amount of time. We had the right, the leader said, to remain incarcerated until that time.

With our numbers, this was impossible. They would have to release us until our court date. We were instructed to refuse to leave. “When they hand you your ticket, don’t reach for it,” King Hippie said. “Do not walk out of here.”

As luck would have it (or because I’m little, and they didn’t want to start with a child), I was the first one they went after.

I didn’t take the ticket, so they shoved it down my shirt. I wouldn’t stand up, so two large men scooped me by my elbows and knees and carried me out of the building, unceremoniously dumping me on the grass.

This was met by wild cheering. I couldn’t see anyone, though, because of the bright lights: the crowd outside included news cameras.

Eventually we were all out — after a few oustings people gave up the solidarity plan — and back at the Big Island Rainforest Action Group camp.

I had come under ridicule for showing up to an environmental action camping trip with a battery-operated television (I didn’t want to miss General Hospital,) but was suddenly popular. As many as could gathered around to watch my squinting form being dumped on the grass.

I had about seven rolls of photos from this adventure, but they belonged to the newspaper, and I didn’t get to keep them.

I kept something else, though: a blue-eyed, funny, sensitive man and a new understanding of solidarity.

link to photos

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.