About Sex, ‘Cause it’s Funny

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If there is anything in my mind that points towards the Theory of Evolution, it would be sex.  I have a hard time imaging God, with his clipboard, saying “Walking apparatus, check.  Nutrition system, check.  Beelzebub, do you have the reproduction system ready to go online?”  And, from the bowels of the earth, comes an evil laugh.

Can you imagine the conversation between Adam and Eve?  You want me to do WHAT?  Did they even have tennis bracelets then?

Sex is funny.  From the time The Goose and I got together, sure we had invented great sex, we would sit in church (Quick aside, our entire family has a real problem behaving in church.  Not one of us can be quiet or control our laughter and The Goose frequently chooses this time to whisper something dirty in my ear.  Latent rebellion to mean Sunday school teachers, I’m sure.) and covertly point to old couples and whisper “they do it”.  Our worst insults have begun “yo mama ….” and we don’t even have to finish with what.  Nothing says gross like parents doing, uh, that.

Once, The Goose was on the phone and then handed it to me saying that his mother wanted to talk to me.  I didn’t believe it because his mother NEVER wanted to talk to me.  Thinking there was no one on the other end, I put the phone to my mouth and went on to describe exactly, in graphic ugly detail, what his mother could do to Hosea Williams (why him, I do not know), only to hear his mother stammer weakly, “what…?”.

One would think this would have dissipated over the years, but we still glance at other couples and raise our eyebrows to each other.  The picture in our minds is just too funny to ignore.  I mean, really, Barbara Bush?  My 4th grade math teacher?  Mr. Rogers???

Sex becomes completely unfunny, however, when one has kids.  The first time I realized this is when it came time to name their private parts.  Those of you who feel kids must learn anatomically correct names can stop reading here, take your kids to their “Upward” sports games and hand them an organic celery stick because I feet it perfectly acceptable to use those time honored, more mannerly names, “whooha” and “willie”.  I feel confident that if they are in some sort of accident involving these parts, they will be able to adequately convey to the emergency room doctor what their problem might be.  “Bit’s and pieces” can be substituted in a pinch, as can “tompan, tallywacker, coochie, ladytown, jimbob, thingie, twinkie, ding dong, junk or bidness”.

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Left up to me, my kids would still believe a public toilet seat, a house with no parent home, hot tubs and sharing swim suits can all cause spontaneous pregnancy.  I felt this covered two great issues, early pregnancy and germs, but the The Goose took it upon himself to educate them at a very young age.  Driving them home from a baseball game, when the kids were around 9 and 7, he apparently blurted out a convoluted version of where babies come from that included Tim McGraw, our neighbors and Subway sandwiches.  During this talk, when my poor daughter asked why anyone would do this, instead of answering that it’s a sacrifice we made so we could have our wonderful special children, he answered “because it’s fun”.

I sat with each child as I put them to bed that night and asked if they had any questions.  True to their individual personalities, Cricket’s eyes welled up and she said “please, please, promise me you’ll never let him do that to you again” and I crossed my fingers and swore, agreeing it had been a cross to bear.  Moving into The Boy’s room, his eyes shining with new and evil gleam, I asked if he had any questions.  He said, in his gruff little boy voice “So, does my willie have to be way up for this, like when we go over the railroad tracks in the car?” and I stammered “It helps” and he nodded sagely, “I thought so.” and I sadly turned off the light and left him to his imaginings about the pigtailed little girl in his class.  I then went downstairs and informed The Goose he’d ruined my children.

One never wants to think that their child might someday, well, you know.  We have talked, ad nauseum, about “the deed” and tried to make it as horrible and scary as possible.  We have used time honored sayings, some from The Goose’s mother and handed down in the family such as “a willie has no conscience” and “alcohol can cause someone to slip and fall on a tallywacker” but they have fallen on deaf ears. I have described millions of diseases that can make willies fall off, pregnancies wherein, if a girl is under 25, 6 legged monsters with whiskers and horns are formed, and the unimaginable physical agony involved to teens participating in this practice necessitating a call to the fire department, all negated while The Goose makes lewd gestures behind my back, smacks me on the tee-hiney and whistles happy songs coming out of the bedroom.

It has helped, though, as they’ve grown, that they are as disgusted with us as we might be about them.  I feel this might be the greatest deterrent ever. Because they are nearly grown, The Goose and I can spend a lot of time away together and the tables have turned.  When they start to get uppity, we play it to the hilt and mime deep and amorous kisses at every chance, allude to romantic dates and try to throw the word “snuggle” into our conversations within their earshot.  This bothers them greatly.  It worries and disturbs them. My son shakes his head and whispers “no…no” and our daughter coughs and gags. They say we burn their eyes.

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This weekend, Cricket was spending the weekend downtown, with friends, and I texted her and asked her when she was coming home.  When she had the audacity to ask why, I responded, “because it takes a lot of time to roll up the trapeze and put away all these handcuffs properly” and I got the response “I just threw up”.  In this way, I know my ploy is working I am still doing my job as a responsible parent.

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The Appendix Cure for Lying

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As I get older, I find I have no tolerance for liars and no ability to tell lies. (Actually, I have little tolerance for lots of people, but that’s another blog.)  Of course, things are easier the older I get because I don’t get into as much mischief.  If I do something, I just say “bam, I did that” and deal with the consequences.

As a teenager, though, I was … naughty.  By this I mean, if it was fun, I did it, and then found a way to get out of trouble later.  I learned such a lesson in lying when I was 17 that it should have cured me for good.  Except for the occasional fib to The Goose about the cost of some shoes, or a slight slip over an incident with the car, I’ve been pretty dang truthful all of my adult life.

When I was 17, one weekend, my parents were going out of town.  I told them I would stay with my friend.  What I didn’t say was that her parents were out of town as well.  My poor parents swallowed the whole story, sweet trusting people that they were.  When I left for school on Friday morning, I kissed the folks goodbye and set out for a Ferris Bueller weekend in the extreme.  My good mother, however, noticed that I had left my gas credit card at home and worried that I might run out of gas.  So, being the kind hearted person she was, she brought it up to school.  I was not at school.  I was elsewhere, already embarking on the road that leads straight to Hell.  So, in this way, the school was alerted to my absence.  Since this was before cell phones, I was left to believe that all was well.

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That night was something from an 80s movie montage in that it involved a Ferrari, an accident, a cute boy, turquoise satin pants and a lesson in Spanish. It encompassed checkerboard sneakers, large hair, Taco Bell and no seat belts were worn whatsoever.  Those of you who were teenagers in the early 80s, you might have lived a version of this weekend too.  Things were just more fun then.

I lived through it, barely, and even managed to screech in Saturday morning just in time to get to school to take my SAT.  While I believe I probably did well on the first few problems, I then put my head on my desk and slept through the rest.  Final SAT score, 400.  The next night was tamer than the first, but only marginally.  On Sunday afternoon, as I drove myself to youth group at church, worn out, hung down, achy, I told myself I really should be better.  I would be better!  By golly, I would be a good girl, complete with pleated skirts, Peter Pan collars and loafers.  The visual of myself as “good girl” caused mad fantasies where I helped winos off the street and saved kittens from trees. I would be like a nun!  As I sat in choir practice, I congratulated myself on my thoughts to do so.

ImageThen, in the tiny glass window, I saw my mother’s face.  It’s round magenta countenance filled the window completely and conveyed such malevolent intent that I almost climbed under my chair.  I still do not know how she found out some things, and thankfully, she didn’t know half of what I’d been up to, but she was set on destroy mode and I was in the crosshairs.  She had my dad in tow to drive my car that she was threatening to sell and as I followed her rapidly clicking heels out of the church, I knew even he, usually understanding of the wayward, couldn’t save me.

ImageOn the drive home, in a Hail Mary of Biblical proportions, I mentioned that my stomach hurt.  I said it was killing me.  I might have just as easily said my head or back, but I chose stomach.  I really laid it on and moaned and begged her to stop being mad.  To forgive.  To understand.  She was a sucker for a sick kid and I thought I had her, but she suddenly veered off the main road and drove me directly to my pediatrician’s house.  She grabbed me by the upper arm and marched me into his living room, across his sculptured carpet, instructed me lie down on his plastic covered sofa and then proceeded to dare the poor man to find anything wrong with me.  If our doctor was surprised to see us at his house, one look at my mother caused him to close his mouth and fein interest in my condition.  I continued with the ruse, now in such hot water that I feared juvenile incarceration if I stopped, and so I moaned at all the appropriate times.  If he pushed, I wailed.  He suggested we go straight to the hospital.

Now it was getting serious.  I began to think.  If I told the truth, I would not see the light of day for years.  The worst that could happen is that she would have time to cool down, see me in a dire medical setting and all would be forgiven.  Nothing prompts a mother’s love and concern more than seeing a child in the ER.

After waiting for hours, I realized that it would be too late when we got home for me to go to school the next day.  One problem down, no visit to the principal’s office. Upon examination, which included the kind of x-rays where they strapped me to a table and turned me upside down, a doctor came in and announced that they would be removing my appendix that night.

That’s when it all came out.  I admitted I’d been lying, I cried, I howled, I confessed to being the worst daughter ever, and my mother just hugged me and told me not to be scared, it wouldn’t hurt a bit. I prosthelytized from the gurney, I wailed and gnashed my teeth, but she told me she was sorry she hadn’t believed me right from the start.  She said she loved me and tearfully left the room.

Then, they wheeled me out and cut me open.  Uh huh.  No matter how much I insisted I’d made the whole thing up, medical personnel just smiled and patted me.

I’d like to say I learned a lesson right then and there.  The terrible thing is, at 17, I didn’t.  I only received a tiny scar.  I spent the week in the hospital, receiving flowers and gifts, hugs and sympathy, boyfriends and friends milling around the bed, and never had to see the principal.

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As an adult, I am flabbergasted at myself and the surgeon.  I never thought about the consequences, never thought how much it would cost my parents.  I have relived this over and over, stupefied that this could have happened.

Years later, I told my mom everything.  The irony is that she still didn’t believe me and that’s where the lesson came in.  I hate the thought that someone believes something about me that’s not true, good or bad.  The thought that my mother didn’t believe me, even as an adult, was terrible. I am what I am and, good or bad, I’d rather someone believe ME, not just an image of me.

If this has taught me anything, I believe it might be that the worst thing about lying is someone might believe you.  Well, that, and cherry colored drink stains never come out of satin and never, ever, believe a boy in a Ferrari, “borrowed” or otherwise.

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Divine Wine

ImageThe Goose said the other day that, truly, alcohol was the cause of most of the trouble in the world.  I was shocked that he would say that to me.  I felt personally offended.

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I sound like a bigger lush than I am.  I would say I am low to medium in the world of 45 – 55 year old women who love wine.  I feel like wine ranks in the top ten list of things necessary to a good life, but not in the top 5. I think most women my age feel wine is what KEEPS trouble from happening. I’m sure that during those scary mid-winter evenings, when my child announced he had a project due the next day, his father was working late and our printer was out of ink, a small tipple is what kept me from committing a harmful crime upon a child. I have no doubt the Wright Brothers mother, after watching her children take to the skies, turned to her best friend and said, “well, I think I need a little something”.  I feel certain the reason so many marriages stayed together in the 50s is surely because of that golden slice of time, “the cocktail hour”.  How many women would have made it through visits from mother-in-laws without a little help?

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That said, it HAS caused problems.

The Goose’s and my favorite thing is the crime blotter from the little paper from the town near our lake house.  Each and every one of these brilliant crimes is alcohol fueled and causes us no end of mirth.

Here is just a sampling of some police blotter incidents, not all from our town:

  1. Man said ex-girlfriend broke into home when he was not home and stole all the sheetrock from his house.
  2. Police responded to a report of a drunk man who had broken into a store.  Upon entering the store, the officer shouted out “Marco”, to which the suspect, who was hiding, responded “Polo”.
  3. Police responded to a man who claimed someone was in his bedroom, standing in the corner and looking at him.  When officers turned on the light, it was discovered that it was a cardboard cutout of Arnold Schwartzenegger.
  4. Surveillance cameras showed a man weaving through the pet store and shoving a baby alligator down his shirt.

And my favorite of all time:

5.  A woman on 37th street called 911 and reported that her boyfriend refused to BRING HER A CASSEROLE.

Okay, we’ve all been hungry and number 5 might be understandable.  I once cried because The Goose would not leave work to bring me dumplings when I was pregnant. Clearly, though, each of these perps was out of his mind, most likely on MD 20/20, that low rent standby.

It’s true that alcohol does make some people fight more (not me, I love everyone and by that I mean, everyone) and it has caused countless mad bouts of slurring karaoke at office parties that has made millions call in sick to work to avoid embarrassment the next day. But, on the flip side, it has caused billions and billions of mothers, throughout history, to glance at the clock while toddlers drool on their pants leg, puppies poo on their floor and husbands call to say they’ll be late shudder with glee that 5:00 has come again and they can sit quietly and sip a glass while Mr. Rogers plays softly in the background.

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It prompts stories to be retold, year after year because someone does something stupid involving jello or shaving cream.  It allows us to know deep dark secrets because someone belts out their inner desires at a party.  Someone I know, but will not name, once went back into a bar, at closing time, went into the bathroom and fell asleep on the toilet not to awaken until she was found locked in the next morning.   That’s a good story, years later, that wouldn’t have happened if she’d been pounding diet Coke.  She grew up and became, guess what, a fabulous, stylish and respectable attorney.  See?  It all turned out just fine.

Yes, it does give false courage and cause self respecting women to pour dish soap into neighbor’s tacky fountains.  Okay, it pushes some women to call up ex-husbands while their good friends egg them on.  (I’m sorry.)  It whispers to some idiotic ladies, while lingering over a glass at dinner, to tell their children that one of them was conceived in their grandparents’ swimming pool.  Geez. It’s possible The Goose had something there.

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Like the saying goes, no good story ever started with “hey y’all, want a salad?”.  I’m not promoting booze, and I’m not talking to folks that truly have a problem.  I’m just musing about it and repeating the conversation I had with The Goose when he uttered his proclamation.  I agree, it’s not for everyone.  It causes beaucoup problems for many, but most of us keep it in its place and in perspective. I’m sharing with those women who call each other up right in the middle of helping with math homework and say “Hey, wanna come over for a quick glass?” and the response is “Oh, thank the Lord in Heaven!”.  Speaking to those of us who have sometimes wrapped a waiter in a snuggly hug when he arrives and announces that he has La Crema by the glass”.

In any tee-totaling argument I always pull out the trump card when I whip out this doozy:  The first miracle was water into…what’s that?  Oh, yeah, wine.

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The Personality of Spoons

 

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Recently I have discovered that I have a recognized condition.  While I am sad to discover myself in the psychiatric handbook, I guess it’s good to know I’m not alone.  

 ImageAll my life, I’ve given personalities to things.  Not just animals, but things.  I remember vividly having a crying meltdown when my dad traded our old finned Oldsmobile for his trendy new Pinto. (This came along with sideburns and boots that zipped up the inside, but none of them lasted very long).  I felt so guilty as our old car, grey and squat sat amongst the shiny new compacts, looking grim and afraid.  I refused to oooh and ahhh over the new car as it was brought around to the front, while Rhinestone Cowboy played over the loudspeaker, for us to take home lest our beloved old ride overhear and feel betrayed.  Image

 

This came to my mind today when I was putting the silverware away out of the dishwasher and discovered a sterling spoon hiding under the other spoons.  The spoon carried such an aura of distain and long suffering superiority that I had to laugh.  I swear, when I put “him” back in his felt lined box where he belonged, I heard him exclaiming to all the other upper crust about his harrowing experience with the hoi polloi.  

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In literature, this is called “personification”.  I read a book not long ago where the heroine believed objects picked up parts of the people who used them most.  They became familiar to them.  In psychiatry, this little quirk is called “anthropomorphic fallacy”.  Fallacy doesn’t sound very nice.  It makes it seem as if this isn’t true and I might be a little…crazy?

 

We all do this, to a point.  Lots of people name their cars and give them personalities.  Stuffed animals are a prime example.  To this day, when I see my childhood lovey, I feel the urge to tell him I’m sorry I grew up and that I still love him just as much, deep in my heart, but that a grown woman is whispered about when she drags a dog with no ears and a hole in his neck that bleeds stuffing to a cocktail party. 

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This problem has caused me to go back and buy ugly things for whom I felt sorry, imagine screams when I’ve divided hosta, keep pilled old blankets because I didn’t want them to feel their times were over.  It’s ridiculous, really. The inner voices I give animals are even worse. When I shoo a bee from the car I imagine how scary it is to be dropped off, miles from home, with no hope of ever seeing his family again.  When I throw away single socks, I have to screw my lips shut so I won’t apologize to them. 

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My children were late gettng teeth and loosing them. Cricket was 7 and a half before she lost her first tooth.  She is such a drama queen over blood that I had been preparing her for months.  When the tooth finally dislodged, in a restaurant, she was all smiles.  Then I made the fatal mistake of making up a little song, which I cleverly entitled “Little Tooth”, from the tooth’s perspective.  I should have never intimated that the tooth might be sad to leave because it caused such a sobbing fit that she has never fully gotten over it.  Sadly, I have passed on my mania to her.  There was a big debate when she decided to move up from her pretty single sleigh bed to my teenage antique iron one.  What would the old bed think?  She had been happy in that bed!  Is it any wonder that she so identified with Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she was little?  All those talking cups and saucers.

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That was when she was little.  Cricket has food issues that are beside the point, but recently, at 19,  she got a bowl of pasta somewhere and a noodle was awry.  Awry meaning it was clinging to the edge of the bowl, still IN the bowl, but could have possibly touched something germy.  This made her want to discard it and I saw her debating. When I asked her what the problem was she replied “well, it is this noodle’s sole purpose in life to be eaten and now, I’m just tossing it away”.  Dear Lord, I did that to her.  

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HOWEVER, I alone cannot take the blame here.  Last week, I was shopping with my groovy new birth mother and she bought a pepper shaker.  She claims to collect individual salt OR pepper shakers, not in sets, just sitting there alone, because she feels sorry for them.  And, right there in the middle of Isle C of the antique market, I began to see that insanity might indeed be inherited, and in this way, I might just pass the buck. 

 

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The Giant Umbilical Cord

ImageJust a few weeks ago my son, The Boy, went away on a mission trip.  On this trip, they could not take their phones nor communicate back home in any way. They left on a Sunday morning and by Thursday, I was willing to fly, drive, swim or make smoke signals just to hear from him.  I picked up my phone to text him a hundred times and then sighed and put it back down.

ImageLet me digress by saying that The Boy and I are not in the best of places.  He’s been my sweet and snuggly child since birth.  Never any trouble, affable, effortless popular with his peers and a certified chick magnet.  My house has always been the place where his friends gather and I am close to them as well.  About the time he was fifteen and a half, he left for school and a demon came home wearing his body.  “Hi!  How was school?  I missed you!” I chirped when he came in the door, my arms flung wide for a hug, and something reptilian moved behind his eyes and he snarled and slunk to his room. A sullen, entitled changeling snuggled beneath the sheets on which I had used extra lavender scented fabric softener.  A demon sighed every time I asked it where it was going when it headed to its car (that I gave it). In its eyes, I ceased to be cool, which I know is not the case in reality, so I can only assume that The Boy had been possessed.

From that day forward, I’ve seen glimpses of my darling boy, sometimes weeks of sweetness, and then the monster gets control again.

I should have expected this.  Cricket went through the same thing, only her great rebellion was black eyeliner, screaming music and an attitude that caused her to be nicknamed “Black Heart”.  She popped right out of that at about 17 and has been the sweet dream she was most of her life since then.

I never thought it would happen to The Boy, though, the happiest child on Earth. No matter how much his monster is in control, we still do a fair amount of texting during the day and even that manages to convey a devilish snippiness.  A sampling of a recent conversation:

Me: Hey! Where are you?

Boy: In my room?

Me: Is that in question or are you confused about punctuation?

Boy: …

or

Me: Could you call me please?

Boy: I can’t, my phone is broken

Brilliant response, oh bright one.

Being out of contact made me realize just how much I communicate with my family.  Those experts who say that family communication is dead are just wrong.

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Cricket and I send approximately 2,000,000 text daily.  She texts me about what everyone is wearing in her class, whether it rained when she was walking to her building and what cute boys were at the gym.  Then, we discuss people we know.  I tell her I just used Soft Scrub on the sink and removed a troubling stain.  I tell her I’m at the carwash.  I tell her when I am mad at The Goose and why.  She backs me up.  Next, I tell her all is well and she agrees that he’s the best dad ever.  I tell her what her brother wore to school, what I think about the girl he’s dating, the fact that I had to stop for gas and my current calorie count for the day.  She texts me that her hair is frizzy and she’s not happy with her shoes.

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The Goose texts me his demands for the day.  Have I taken the trash to the street?  Are his shirts back from the cleaners? Did I call the gas company about a problem?  He tells me who he saw at Matthew’s Cafeteria at lunch.  He texts me links to news stories in which he knows I have no interest. He texts me to come upstairs to his office.  On the way up, I get a text that he needs a Mountain Dew and while going back downstairs to get it, another that he needs his glasses.  When he goes to the lake without me, he usually imbibes, out of loneliness from missing me I guess, and drunk texts me silly teenage type declarations of love that cause me to blush and giggle.

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The Goose talked with his mother daily.  I called it the “Giant Umbilical Cord”.  I kinda regret this now that my kids are almost grown because I can’t imagine how often I’ll contact them during the day once I don’t actually see them every day.

My point is, we communicate A LOT.

The Boy got a phone in the 5th grade.  Those of you without sin, just get over it.  He then proceeded to send 6 consecutive phones through the washing machine, in the pockets of his pants.  He would take his allowance and go right back out to Target and plunk down another $12.99 for a new one.  I kept waiting for the lesson to sink in.  Since then, he has continued to destroy phones, one after another, and our family’s DRAWER OF TECHNOLOGY SHAME is overflowing.  I confess that we have all contributed to this.  All just to stay connected.

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(I know, it’s embarrassing, our drawer of shame)

Here’s the thing.  Several days into the week, I had forgotten all the things about The Boy that have gotten on my nerves.  I remembered that he really is sweet most of the time, is a great kid, stays out of trouble, mostly, and chooses to bring his friends home instead of roaming the streets with hookers and drugs.  He actually does hug me often, even if it is the bone crunching, rib breaking kind.  He pokes me, punches my arm and stands next to me, commenting on my height, a teenage boy’s way of showing love. He was on a mission trip, not lying on a beach in PC wondering where his pants got to last night. He is a moral, funny, loyal young man who would be there for any of us in a minute.  Some of his friends stayed at my house, having chosen not to go home but to just wait out the week here, and I overheard them, lounging in their pajamas every morning, talking about how much they missed him and counting the days until he came home.  There is a FB page where they posted daily pictures of the trip and we scoured each one until we found him, looking cute in a straw hat.  At no point did I fume about the state of his closet or glower over the glasses and chip bags left in the basement.

Maybe there is something to “absence makes the heart grow fonder” because I arrived to pick him up an hour early, straining my ears for the sound of his bus and the sight of his tan, sleep deprived self almost brought me to tears. If a week can do this for a teenage boy,  maybe we’re all TOO connected?  Possibly this is why kids come home from college, husbands come home from business trips, even soldiers come home from oversees and seem all new and shiny, seemingly without their demons in tow. It is conceivable that we just communicate too much and should go back to a time when communication was just face to face?  Nah,   LOL.  TTYL. 🙂

The Last One Standing Collects the Life Insurance (or, Secrets to a Happy Marriage)

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I just got my annual anniversary letter from the pastor that married The Goose and me, so I’ve been thinking about marriage today.

This morning, my good friend called for our usual chat.  I could tell by her voice that she was not happy.  When I asked what was wrong, she replied, “My husband is a dick”.  This made laugh because she has one of the happiest marriages on earth and because she chose to call him that.  Her husband worships the ground she walks on and she adores him.  But, like any other human beings, they’re going to have moments where they look at each other and say, “what the heck was I thinking?”.

I’ve heard a lot of TV talk show hosts, psychologists, preachers, therapists and professionals dispense a big bunch of nonsense about marriage. If you want a good marriage, ask someone who has done time in one.  Most of the time I feel like I have a great one.  If I were to give a piece of my mind to a newlywed, here’s what I’d say:

  1. No one tells you you’re going to look at love’s young dream one day and say “ugh”.  It happens.  The good thing is it doesn’t last.  Sometimes, it lasts a day, sometimes a month.  It comes back around.  Just do something else (not someone else) until you like your significant other again.  Read a book, organize something, build storage shelves.  One day soon, you’ll look up and they’ll be ALL THAT again plus your closets will look nice.

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  2. Don’t marry for passion. Oh, good sex never goes away.  It continues to be fun and great, but there will come a time when you won’t feel the need to pull your partner into a public bathroom for a quickie quite as often, you’ll almost never do it in the car anymore and, I know it’s hard to believe, you’ll occasionally think you’d really rather prefer that extra hour of sleep, even though it’s not nice to say so. You’ll begin to think of your back pain. One day, your husband will walk into the bathroom after the deed and you’ll notice he is still wearing black socks.  Eventually, he’ll throw a leg over yours and there will be a noise like the chirping of a cricket because your legs aren’t shaved. This is the reality of marriage. It’s not a bad thing, you’ll still do it, but you’d better have some other common interests. (Also, never, ever, ever google “naked man in black socks” when looking for a picture to post!)

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  3. You can’t always get your way and some arguments aren’t even worth winning.  When I was young, I felt like it was my duty to make sure The Goose understood my point on everything and came around to my way of thinking.  Now I think, eh, who cares?  If we thought the same way about everything, one of us would be superfluous.  How dull.  While I do believe The Goose is wrong about plenty of things, I let him believe he’s okay.  I know the truth.

     

  4. Don’t tell them everything.  Sometimes, it’s good to have secrets.  I once got a speeding ticket and never told The Goose.  In this way he was spared yelling at me and I was spared his wrath.  I paid it, it went away.  Problem solved.  The Goose would have secrets about all the junk he buys on Ebay if he were smart enough to know that the emails come to me.  Still, I let him believe.

     

  5. Shiny things don’t mean love.  The Goose fully believes that if a man is constantly bringing jewelry and flowers home, he’s up to no good.  This is partially because he is not good at presents himself, but also because it’s the reality.  True love is handling my car tag and insurance for years so that I just became aware that there is such a thing as a car tag tax after almost 30 years. It’s him filling up a warm bath for me when I don’t feel good, it’s me buying key lime pie ice cream for him and grinning in the store because I know it’ll blow his mind. This is not to say special presents aren’t good and I’m still waiting for the greenhouse that he promised me for my birthday, but it’s the day to day stuff in the trenches that counts.

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  6. NEVER discuss what goes on in the bathroom with your spouse unless you are in need of medical help.  Keep some mysteries.

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    7. Never become a “mommy” or “daddy”.  When you have kids, for crying out loud, remember you are still a person.  Don’t put little stickers on your car yacking about your kids and don’t start wearing mommy clothes and then wonder why your husband found that his secretary in a garter belt understood him.  One day, surely, these kids will move out and your spouse will still be there.  It’s a lot harder to fall back in love with a fat, balding, 50 year old man or a woman in sensible shoes and sweatpants than it is just to stay involved with them. Remember, you’re on the same side and those kids, no matter how darling you think they are, are on the other.  One day, when you least expect it, they will turn on you and snarl.  You’re going to need backup. If it takes lingerie and sit ups to keep the team together, just buck up and do it.

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    8. Learn your partner’s fighting technique.  I’m a talker and shouter, The Goose is a pouter.  I wish we’d figured this out earlier.  Now, he’ll just say “why are you raising your voice?” and I’ll yell “because I’m a girl and it feels good to be loud”.  When he pouts, I tell him to pull up his panties and get over it.  Our disagreements are cut short in this way.  After all this time, there isn’t that much to fight about anyway, but still, he is still wrong sometimes and it’s my job to point that out.  I have learned to use my inside voice and now things go much more smoothly.

    9. Sometimes, just take one for the team.  Occasionally, just admit things are your fault.  While I believe it’s always better to weasel out of a problem if possible, sometimes you can surprise your partner with a frontal assault.  Once, I just walked in and said “I backed the car into a pole at Mellow Mushroom.  I’m sorry.  I’m a big ol’ dummy.”  The Goose had nothing to say.  In the past, I have blamed scratches on the car on kids, shopping carts and objects from space.  Every now and then I say to him “I’m sorry for being so snappy.  I’m just grouchy. I am sad or worried.”  This immediately makes him feel sorry for me and, voila, I’m off the hook for acting like an ass.  It always works.

    10. The grass is almost never greener on the other side.  I never see men I think are cuter than The Goose, except possibly Johnny Depp, and only when he’s a pirate.  But, I know lots of people look around when they’re grouchy with their mate.  Listen, that hot guy you see in the bar?  He’s still a man at home, leaving hair in the drain and clothes on the floor.  That smokin’ girl with the ridiculous boob job who’s happy all the time?  At home she bitches just as much as your wife and you’re going to have to pay to replace those whoppers every 12 years.  You never know what psychosis lurks beneath a person.  Once you have determined your spouse is not a psycho, best to stick with them. At least their problems are known.  Just learn to overlook their foibles and focus on what’s great.  In time, you may not even notice the fact that your husband is incapable of cleaning up after himself or that your wife may be a pet hoarder.

My advice all the way around is, make a decision to be happy, keep your eye on the finish line and realize your spouse isn’t you, you have differences and that’s what makes it fun.  The one that lives the longest collects the life insurance, so relax and keep your blood pressure down. Sometimes arguing is fun but never say something you can’t take back.  Only once was I so mad that I said “well, maybe you just need to move away from me”.  The Goose said “absolutely not” and I almost wept with relief.  If he ever tried to leave, he’d do it with my arms wrapped around his leg, with my teeth clamped on his pants and the dogs holding on to me.

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A Peek at the Other Side

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I’m a reader.  Always have been.  I will read almost anything except fluffy romance or cold war stories.  Even the hyper-active wild child that I was when I was small would sneak away and hide under the coffee table in the living room and read for hours.  I had a notebook like Harriet the Spy and solved mysteries like Trixie Belden.

I like to read in waves. I love to find a subject and explore it thoroughly.  Early this summer, I went, again, through Pearl S. Buck.  This put me on a China track and I read book after book about pre-war China, the poverty, foot binding, the lifestyle.  China crept into my life and I found myself ordering vegetable moo shu almost daily from the restaurant up the street.

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After that, though, I got on a kick about NDEs.  Honestly, this has been life changing.

When I was 27, one of my best friends died.  She had been my cohort throughout high school.  She knew where the bodies were buried.  After school, our paths went completely different ways and while she traveled with bands, dated celebrities and partied, I got married.  When she was 24, in the late 80s, she came home sick.  Really sick.  We picked up our friendship and I watched as, over the next three years, she wasted away.

One of the sharpest people I’ve ever known, The Goose and I adored her.  She ate with us, lived part time in her room at our house, went to work with me.  We sat at the same booth at Houston’s in Buckhead so often that the hostess knew it was “our booth”.  We laughed continually and she was an everyday part of our household.  The Goose and I went to Paris that spring and when I came home, she was gone, having slipped away while we weren’t watching.

My grief was all encompassing.  I am a person who, when confronted with something scary or overwhelming, does not rent her clothing or wail.  I get very quiet and shut down. Sometimes I escape in a book.

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That was the year Embraced by the Light came out.  I picked it up out of desperation and I did find it comforting.  I have never had a crisis of faith.  God makes sense to me, even if some of the churchy details don’t.  I’m a prayer.  I bother God about lots of things.  I honestly yack his ears off all day long. I don’t question why bad things happen.  I understand completely about having free will and what mankind has done to ourselves.  I do question why animals suffer, being such pure spirits. But even with my faith, I certainly did mourn the loss of my friend.

Embraced by the Light, whether or not one believes her account, was fascinating, although certainly not my favorite.  I saw where recently, doctors have come out with new studies about NDEs, or near death experiences, and this sparked my interest in, again, reading the accounts of those who have been down this road .

Instead of shoving personal brands of religion down non-believer’s throats, I wonder why no one thinks to approach belief in God in this way?  Yes, God is faith, but some folks just aren’t accepting of anything that smacks of Earnest Angley (say baby) brands of God. Surely it is the hypocrisy of “religion” that makes everyone so crazy.  What a shame church has snuffed out so much that’s good and comforting about God. Maybe this would be great reading for someone searching for a little proof.

So, I’ve been swimming through these accounts. I just Googled NDEs and jumped in.  I read everything in my local library, received daily deliveries from Amazon and Half,  and waded through websites until my reading glasses made dents on my nose.  I’ve consumed book after book of documented stories folks tell upon being resuscitated. Giant towering stacks of books about children who have died and come back.  Kids just tell it like it is and their stories are great, comforting and funny.  There are blurbs from Hindus, Muslims, atheists, and old accounts from history, some centuries old.  The really awesome thing is that they all tell basically the same story.

Call it what you will, almost all end up calling it “God”.  Many call it “The One”.  I like that!  This is not gender specific.  It’s not contained to a certain faith, although a huge percentage, including those of other faiths, do see Jesus. I will definitely see Jesus. Not the Jaysus of the TV evangelist, but the loving and accepting personification of God.  There is always a light.  There are always loved ones who have gone before and, to my eternal delight, there are animals in some accounts as well. There will most definitely be animals waiting for me and my mother will be there, shooing them away from her lest their celestial animal fur get on her skirt.  There is total acceptance. There are usually life reviews wherein what’s important is not what one has done wrong, but the love one has shown to others.  Many accounts say that we have been together in spirit form before we’re born and make the decision to come to Earth, much like a life university, and learn from the hardships in the life we choose. I don’t know why this angers some.  God says he knows us even before we’re formed.

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Even in the stories, which are few, that are bad, or seem to be of Hell, there is a desire to go to the light, to be with the light, to make-up or get things right with the light.  Each and every person, without exception, whose story I read, came back with one desire.  To love more. To love God, to love others, to lift each other up and show kindness.  Possessions didn’t matter anymore, politics, hatred, the crap of the world all fell away.  They came back to help others and wait for the time that they’re called “home” again.  The thought that came through again and again is how we are all connected.

The story that blew me away was about a blind woman.  Blind from birth, she had never experienced color.  She had heard about it, but had no context for it.  When she died, she saw colors.  She exclaimed over and over that though she couldn’t put a name to each one, she had seen colors.  She had seen.  She had descriptions of things she had never touched that she could only have learned through sight.  When she came back, of course, she was blind again, with the memory of sight, but looked forward to a time when she was, again, “home”.

I am digging all this.  It has given me a decidedly hopeful feeling in my heart.  Although I never doubt where I will go when I die, and am in no hurry to get there, it’s always good to see the vacation slides of others who have been before.  In the midst of the storm and fury that goes on in the news, I feel a strange calm and perspective that probably won’t last, but is certainly enjoyable now because I am looking at things through this long range lens. It has caused me to feel a lot less disturbed about the things I can’t control and a desire to do some lasting good while I’m here.

This is reading thread I highly recommend to anyone who is down about the state of things, feeling alone or just sick of daily crap.

My son’s friend told me he didn’t believe I could become any more of a tree hugging hippie until he heard me spout off about this new interest of mine, and I do get how loony it sounds.  I can’t help but share it though, as I’ve been talking, ad nauseam, to my family about it since I started reading. If I’ve picked up anything through all these books and articles, it is how we are all so deeply interconnected and so I hope others will find this fascinating as well.

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