Close the Door, PLEASE!

I had a funny situation last weekend that has caused the Goose and me to laugh repeatedly.

I saw an article the other day, written by a recently divorced man, giving advice to married men.  Ironic, I know.  Most were nice, hold hands more often, open doors, etc.  One, however, caused me to blanch.  It said, “do not use the bathroom in the same room as your spouse”. Actually, it was more descriptive than that.  WHAT THE HECK???  Please tell me who, in the world, would do this?  Does this actually go on?  Even my dog, Matilda, will not “use the loo” with anyone looking.

There are certain subjects that are not broached in my house.  I grew up that way, my children grew up that way, we’re just that way.  The bathroom is one of those subjects.  Until I had babies, neither the Goose, nor I, had ever mentioned any bodily function that goes on in the bathroom.  We’d already been married eight years and had traveled to strange countries and eaten a variety of unsettling foods and had still managed not to make any bathroom references. If someone feels the call of nature, we seek out the farthest, most secretive and unused restroom in the vicinity.  Jiminy Crickets!  There are just some things that don’t need to be discussed or announced.

Our drama began when I took NyQuil the other night.  It’s my sleep drug of choice when I need one.  I adore that velvety blackness with a lack of hangover then next morning.  NyQuil is more than welcome to call me for a paid endorsement. The Goose is a nighttime grazer.  I can’t imagine a scenario when I would find the call of cookies more important than sleep, but the Goose gets up every night and eats.  This night, I was out of it.  I awoke in the night, after several glasses of water and had to visit the powder room.  Since it was dark and I was groggy, I didn’t even look for the Goose in the bed.  I slipped, zombie like, into the bathroom and there most likely continued what could only be considered a drug induced trance.  It’s warm in there.  There’s a heat vent and the room is small.  I might have dozed off for a second. The Goose was coming back from the kitchen and saw the light on and opened the door to turn it off.  He didn’t know I was in there, of course.  I was quiet.  I am lucky I wasn’t in a coma.  Seeing me, he tried to quickly close the door but his movement caught my eye and I issued the longest, most blood curdling B movie scream that’s ever been uttered at my house.  At any house.  I mean I wailed. Loudly and for a long time. I scared the Goose into screaming too.  It was a confused, nighttime terror as we looked anywhere but at each other, both bawling and bellowing like when Drew Barrymore sees ET for the first time. The Goose, still hollering, slammed the door and I continued my shrieking for a good minute or so.  By the time I got to bed, though, we were giggling like a couple of stoners.

Then, the Goose got a text from our daughter, Cricket.  The kids’ rooms are far away from ours and we didn’t think they could hear us.  Apparently they can. This brings up other questions that we are choosing not to address.

Cricket called the Goose from her room and the Goose, genius that he is, clicked decline.  She called again, he accidentally did it again.  Then she texted: I am hiding in the troll door in my closet.  I’m scared!”  This caused us so much enjoyment that we were literally limp, cackling and howling.  During the time we ignored her, she called her boyfriend to tell him that we were being murdered downstairs and he got up ready to come kick some burglar ass.  Finally, we managed to text her what had happened to which she texted back “freaks” and it was over.  We still lay there giggling for a good half hour though.  I might interject that during this entire episode, which went on for a while, Cricket did not go and make sure her brother wasn’t being killed, and for this, I will tell him that he is the favorite, for at least a week.

My point, and to bring it back around, according to the divorced man’s article, I would say that there are apparently weird people out there with no shame whatsoever.  Some things are private and I am pushing the bounds of privacy by even writing this. If this is you being disgusting, stop it.  It’s not nice.  It’s gross. If you wonder why the zip is gone, this could be the reason.  Close the door, LOCK it!

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What Would Doris Day Say?

ImageOccasionally, when my good family gets up to attend church, I decline.  In past years, I sometimes made up a headache (not always made up after Saturday night), a sore throat or female malady.  These days, I just decline on the basis of not being able to face my closet.  It seems monumental, especially in winter, to pull together an outfit.  So, sometimes, I opt to be home alone.  This allows for my favorite indulgence ever, the Doris Day movie event.

Inevitably, on any given Sunday, (take that, you sports freaks), there will be a Doris Day movie playing during the morning hours.  If the day is cloudy and cold, it is almost too delicious to bear.

I get that women needed to vote, I understand equality, I fully agree that women should be paid on level with men, but ladies, ladies, oh what we let slip along the way.

There are 11 truths that can be gleaned from Doris Day.  They are, in no particular order:

  1. Gold Lame goes with anything.  If you are wearing your husband’s t-shirt and boxers and whip on a gold lame wrap, you can achieve a glamour level of 7 or above in an instant.
  2. If you just use a soft voice and a lovely smile while you are plotting something devious, adding in a sexy nod of the head, you will certainly get away with it.  I’m sure DNA evidence and detailed autopsies will make this harder for today’s ladies, but, in the event of questioning, I’d again suggest the lovely toothy smile.
  3. Every woman should own and wear long silk peignoir sets instead of the aforementioned t-shirt and boxers.  Apparently, the sight of these render a man senseless and this, girls, is when you should ask for that kitchen remodel or new car. If you are asking for a new kitchen, I know a really good designer.
  4. A rich handsome man can always be reformed.
  5. If one is angry, there is no need to swear, crossing one’s eyes and blowing one’s bangs is enough to cause husbands, shopkeepers and milkmen to quake.  In this case, I’d have to agree.  Today’s TV has upped the epic tantrum level across the board and no one pays attention to an angry chick unless a car is driven through the garage door or something is thrown and broken.  I say, bring back the seething and the searing looks.
  6. There just can’t be enough satin, leopard prints, and kitten heels in our lives.
  7. Periodically, men should be coming home with gifts artfully wrapped where we can just lift off the lid and the box will remain beautiful.  There should be something really good in there.  Really good.
  8. Everyone needs a handsome gay friend like Rock Hudson.
  9. Women look great in hats.  When and why did we give up hats?  Women love accessories and we just let that one get away.  I submit that the emergence of the enormous handbag is overcompensating our phantom pain over the loss of our hats.  Can you imagine going shopping with your friend and getting a fabulous hat?  Taking it home in a box? How fun would that be?  If every woman went out today and purchased a glamourous hat and we all agreed to wear them, say, next Tuesday, we could change the world.
  10. All the remaining problems in the world, once we bring back hats, can be solved while talking on the phone to our best friend while sitting in a bubble bath.
  11. ImageSleeping with Cary Grant is the best revenge. Wait, that just slipped out.  Well, I’ll let it stand because, um, CARY GRANT! Without a doubt still the dishiest man ever.  Ever.

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So, by the time my family comes home I’m out of bed, a blue bird on my shoulder, wearing an apron and humming a tune.  If I knew how to bake a pie I would, but I don’t want to have to try out the toothy smile while explaining poisoning to the police just yet. These movies give me a happy feeling all day and it makes me think that we’ve gone awry somewhere.  Things just seemed lovelier back then.  I am longing for a big hairdo and a pastel colored car.

My Doris has, in fact, given us many life lessons not the least of which is why have we given up being glamorous?  Today, let’s all put on our gold wraps and false eyelashes,  don our heels and try out our lovely smiles and nods today and see just what we can get away with.

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Insanity of the Four Legged Kiind

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My daughter, Cricket, is a psychology major.  She feels this qualifies her to diagnose everyone and everything around.  It seems like all things heretofore considered “quirky” now come with a monogram.  By this, I mean initials, ADD, OCD, PTSD, ED and other letters joined together in unholy unions I cannot hope to decipher.  I see that look in her eyes sometimes and have to shut her down quickly before she pops some lettered identification on the multi-colored floral bubble I’ve created around myself.  I KNOW I have, well, let’s call them whimsies, eccentricities, foibles, but I’m comfortable that way.

I’m not the only oddball around our house, though.  Working with animals I’ve discovered that they all have their little idiosyncrasies as well.  My Jack Russells are freaks extraordinaire.  Perhaps it’s because they’re small dogs.  I’ve never had small dogs before these and I don’t remember my labs having neurotic fears and crazies.  They didn’t come preprogrammed with these neurosis, though, and I guess there is only our environment to blame.

Matilda has been leery of brooms and mops since babyhood.  Just walking by the pantry causes her to pick up speed and the whites of her eyes to show.  The vacuum causes a full panic.  She can hear the noise of the wheels coming out of the closet from two miles away. Once, she got into the barn and ate up 13 chickens and a peacock.  My anger was such that I put her in her basket and surrounded her with brooms, mops and the vacuum for 20 minutes.  I feel bad about this because I know it has caused some permanent damage.  She fears moths, puppets and band-aids.  Band-aids?  Once, someone lost a band-aid in our house and upon spotting it, she began to moan and cry with the intensity of a tornado alarm.  I have no comment on the fact that there was a band-aid laying on my floor.  I can’t think about that.

A while back I attended something that necessitated having a “my name is _____” sticker.  When I got home, I popped it on Matilda’s head. This caused her to stay frozen for the entire time she wore the sticker.  She neither sat nor turned her head.  One can only imagine the fun this has caused around my house.

The strangest problem, though, is the straw.  The sight of a straw emerging from a drink will cause her to run like she’s being chased by Satan.  If a straw is produced in the car, she will crawl as far into the 2” space under the seat as she can thrust her stiff and portly little body.  She has spent a lot of time in the car with teenaged boys and I feel this is what’s sent her into full on doggy insanity.  She takes to the bed like Scarlet O’Hara now at the slightest provocation, flopping down in mental exhaustion.

In talking to friends, I hear all their weird dog stories with interest. Dog lovers can talk about their doggie loves and their quirks for hours.  We adore our dog children.  They never talk back like our human ones, they never grow up, never move away and never miss a chance to snuggle behind our knees under the covers.  I will sooner drop big money on a fancy collar than give lunch money to my son.  It seems this companion species that shares our lives and our beds is as weird as we are.  Can it only be a matter of time until someone’s daughter is attending college for dog psychology and our pups become as medicated and as diagnosed as the rest of us?

Rear up a Child Correctly and She May Still Embarrass You in Front of Your Bridge Club

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Last Sunday our sermon was about child rearing.  Since I am almost done with this, I used this time to doodle, play with the charms on my bracelet and admire my shoes.  One thing he said, though, slipped through.  How important a good mother is in making a great child.  Gosh, I started out to be a swell mom.  We sang Bible songs, we did crafts, I swore by using phrases like “gee whiz” and “heck”.  All went well until I purchased an Offspring CD when my daughter was in 4th grade.  She swears this is when we went to hell in a handbag.

Well, I felt the guilt slipping in so I changed thoughts and considered my own mother.  She was a True Southern Lady.  By this I mean she was perfect.  I never heard my mother swear, never saw her perspire, never heard her raise her voice to my dad, who believed she was an angel personified.  There was never a moment when there wasn’t a warm pound cake on our counter.  She made hospital visits, casseroles and never had a disagreement with anyone that I can think of.  As an only child, I benefited so greatly from her undivided attention that my best friend used to nudge me in church and say “look, your mother is watching you breathe from the choir loft”.  I also frequently got “the look” from the choir loft that told me to stop wiggling, drawing and making designs on the velvet pew cushion with my fingernails.

That’s not to say she wasn’t without her quirks.  Growing up in the Bible belt, my mother was so pure that the weirdest things bothered her.  Who knows where she got these ideas? For instance, I was not allowed to play the game Operation as a child because the man was nude. I don’t believe she even said the word “nude”.  I’m sure it just involved another “look”. There was no word for breasts at our house, it was just chest.  There were no words for boy parts or ladytown,  just  “the bottom” whether front of back.  One did not refer to things that went on in the bathroom unless one needed to see a doctor and the bedroom was not even considered.  Perrier water was out as well because the bottle was suggestive of beer.  The one that, I believe, catapulted me into the middle aged lush that I am, however, was that I was not allowed to sing “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” because, of course, he drank his wine.

I did pick up lots of good knowledge from the True Southern Lady, though.  My mother fully believed that if one kept moving while eating, the calories would never find you.  Our housekeeper, Sassy, claimed that she had once seen Mother eat three entire bags of Hersey’s Kisses while circling the dining room table and talking on the phone.

Although I was a terrible teen, my mom kept up with a smile.  When I informed her that I was going to a concert at the dark and enjoyable Agora Ballroom, my mom and her best friend went down, during the day, to check it out for safety and propriety.  My mother fell and sprained her ankle never knowing that I had already changed my weekend plans.  I just keep imaging the guys in those dark depths picking up my mom as she smoothed down her skirt and straightened her pearls, oh gosh and oh geeing all the time.

Probably the only thing I can think of that she ever did wrong was wear a fur coat.  There is nothing more evil in the world than fur and I couldn’t bear (no pun) to look at her in it, but like so many others of her generation, she adored it and popped it on anytime the temperature dipped below 65.  When she died, I was left with the dilemma of what to do with it. I couldn’t sell it because I don’t want anyone to wear fur.  I couldn’t throw it away because so many little mink lives would be wasted.  So, I keep it in the back of my closet and sometimes when I miss her, I bury my face it it and it still smells of the Oscar that she wore.  Besides, it made a great addition to Cricket’s boyfriend’s pimp outfit last Halloween.

I know that my style of mothering has been entirely deficient when compared to my mom.  Life is so much faster now and I have certainly not lived up to her standards.  I know my kids will never hear the theme music to Days of our Lives and conjure up images of sitting at the table with sweet tea and little sandwiches while Sassy irons to the clean smell of Niagara spray starch and discusses “their story” with my mom.  I haven’t worn many respectable length skirts and they’ve never seen me in a one piece swim suit. They probably won’t use me as a role model in which to judge what’s right and what’s wrong.  They’ve seen too much and really, it’s hard to fully respect a mother wearing a tiara and prom dress on horseback.

If you have a mom handy, call her up and lie about how good you’ve been and tell her how much you love her because without these True Southern Ladies, the world is a darker and less sparkly place.

The Noms

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A word about food.  It plagues us women.  I used to be a girl who forgot to eat.  I was so slim I would whip off my clothes at any opportunity.  My pantry contained paint cans, twist ties and car keys.  All that changes with kids.  First, they cause you to get fat and then they cause you to carry food with you everywhere.  Sitting at a playground can cause any woman to nip into the Goldfish while wishing for vodka.  I hate Goldfish and have eaten at least a semi-truck load out of desperation. 

My daughter, Cricket, was a fabulous eater in the beginning.  I raised two vegetarian kids, no milk, no meat, but she ate everything else with gusto.  People would stop and pat her golden curls in restaurants to see her bearing down on her plate like a lumberjack.  All that changed, though.  Now, she is unable to have her food touch other bits of food.  Food must be white or light in color, no sauce or “green things” (parsley) decorating it.  Many would say, “ah, toddlers are notoriously picky eaters”.  Cricket is a sophomore in college. 

My friend and running partner, Peaches, is at the opposite end of the spectrum.  I have never seen such a small person put away such copious amounts of food. She dreams of food, fantasizes about it.  Her eyes widen and shine at the thought of it. She recently volunteered at a food pantry and shoved food they deemed too disgusting for hobos  into her pockets for later.  Several incidences with Peaches have concerned me lately.  A while back we were on our street coming home from a long run when she spots something shiny on the road and makes a beeline towards it like a chicken on a slug.  It turned out to be a Snickers.  A Snickers that has been crushed by a car.  “No, Peaches”, I begin but she is already listing reasons why it’s okay.  It’s in our neighborhood, the wrapper is still on, etc.  Peaches consumed that Snickers in front of me.  Two weeks ago we saw a plastic Easter egg on the side of the road.  Now, this was NOT in our ‘hood and, indeed, was near a house where there are cars jacked up on blocks protected by pitt bulls. I don’t care about your argument for pitt bulls, you pair them with a transmission hanging from a tree and the result is not good.  Opening the egg, she discovered candy.  Can I mention that Easter was almost six months ago?  Where has this egg been?  Who packed it to begin with?  I have long wanted to do a coffee table book about things I see on the side of the road when running.  I never thought Peaches would EAT one of them. 

It all goes to the grip food has on us beleaguered women. I can be going along fine, fitting into my jeans with room for a friend and, BAM, a chip will whisper to me as I pass through the kitchen.  It will beg for me to release it’s friend cheese dip from the cold prison of the fridge and reunite them with their mother, margarita.  It’s a vicious cycle, food.  As we get older we have to budget our calories, nutrition and fiber and give up chewing altogether. I am thinking that my rise to fame is going to occur with the invention of the metastolifruiti, a combination of metamusil, vodka and grapefruit juice, for antioxidants to keep our skin fresh.  It’s a well-balanced diet all around.    

 

The Empress and the Snake Bite (or “turn it to Watercolors”)

The other day my friend, The Empress, came to stay at my lake place with me.  She should really be called the Queen, but that conjures up visions of cross-dressing men and The Empress is definitely not that.  The Empress is 130 lbs of pretty woman with a figure like Jessica Rabbit and a giant head full of brunette hair that just never ends.  The Empress has had four husbands up to bat and she’s struck them all out of the ball park, the losers.  She has a great job, a fantastic house and knows how to do anything.  I mean anything.  If I called her with a bullet wound, she would know exactly how to handle it so I didn’t scar or at least fix it so I’d get to get free liposuction out of the ordeal.  She can get anything to grow, rescues little fluffy dogs and manages the church sales.  The Empress has a beautiful house, a garage full of vintage cars, can assess a commercial property with a shrewd eye and still mix a perfect drink in kitten heels.  I adore the Empress and aspire to her level of tough. She’s my hero.

Well, I thought she was a tough girl until the other night.  We had been sitting around, tippling just a little, when we decided we were starving.  The Empress was still in condition to drive, which I was not, which only goes to her tough nature.  Halfway into town I spot a giant snake crossing the road.  I yell out “stop the car!”, which illustrates my mother was right and women become vulgar when alcohol is involved and get loud.  I really get loud but that might be another story.  The Empress slams on the brakes and I jump out, wobbling down the road in a pair of “sittin’ shoes”.  You know the kind.  I was also wearing a dress that was probably better suited to the younger generation but it is sometimes hard for me to understand that I’m not 25 anymore and the Golden Goose does a good job of hiding it from me.  Now, in my mind, I was thinking that when the Goose and my son arrived late that night they’d be proud of me for catching a snake.  Don’t know why I thought this, but that was my motivation and also why I was not driving.  I’ve dealt with lots of snakes and I really do know what I’m doing on a normal day.

This evening, I was not at the top of my game.  I did catch up with the snake, just as a truck pulled up in the other lane.  The Empress yells out “girl, you’re exposing your entire ladytown every time you bend over” and proceeds to roll up her windows and look as if she is not there.  Because she pointed this out in front of the truck full of men, I was offered two unmentionable acts accompanied by a six pack and received one insincere proposal of marriage.  Of course, the snake bites down hard, which causes great glee to the audience and by the time the truck pulls away, I’m just a silly woman in a great, if wrong, outfit, standing with a bloody finger in the middle of the road.  A snakebite has a sobering affect on a girl and so I gently laid down the evil serpent and slunk back to the car.  The Empress had locked the doors and the entire vehicle was vibrating with something that sounded suspiciously like Yanni.  I’m hollering at her to let me in and what the heck does she think she’s doing and she’s yelling back that when she’s scared, she turns the radio to “watercolors” and locks the doors.  This apparently works for her and it might be a good strategy for all of us to keep in mind, but as I was outdoors at the time, I wasn’t enjoying it.  I finally convinced her to let me and take me right away to a big wine and an even bigger dinner, which I charged to the Goose, by the way, as I consider the entire incident his fault since I was only trying to be a good wife in the first place.

I’m thinking more clearly at this point and I like to make the best of any situation.  The good thing I’m taking away from this Springer episode gone wrong is that I may have worn something inappropriate, I may misjudged my wine consumption, I may have even exposed a little too much to some men from the sewer department, but, darn it, I was tougher that day than the Empress.  In my book, that’s a win.

Welcome, Neighbor!

Welcome, Neighbor

You know those neighbors you hate?  The ones whose dog never shuts up, who paints their house lavender, or is just a plain witch, bless her heart?  I had one of those. Hated her.  She drove like a bat outta hell, swerving her Cadillac all over the road towards dogs and children.  She gossiped, but not in a fun way.  She reminded me of the witch in Hansel and Gretel. Even her face was sour.   When the for sale sign went up over there, there was rejoicing and wine swiggin’ at my house.  I saw my prospective new neighbor out in the yard and wasted no time to try to reel her in.  I was dressed cute, and, I’m sure, presented a nice respectable image.  I batted my eyelashes at her husband, let my hand linger on his shoulder, gushed over her outfit and sold my family out like a, well, to put it nicely, sold us as a nice family.  She had a daughter the age of my daughter, a son to go with my son and had horses too.  Perfect.  The trap worked, they closed and moved in.  I held back some facts about us, of course, wildlife rehab being one, but certainly not the worst.

She probably wasn’t expecting it, then, when a stranger walked in and popped a bloody giant snapping turtle into her new sink.  Let me back up.  Her house is white with a front porch, so is mine.  They both have long driveways. Sometimes I don’t give really accurate directions… anyway, whatever the mix up was, I got a call for an injured turtle and wasn’t home.  If someone is kind enough to bring something with a boo boo to me, they’re probably not going to steal my 8-track technology level stereo, so I usually just tell them to go in and put whatever it is on the counter (in a box, gosh, I’m not a barbarian).  So, I might have been at dinner and might have had a wine or two.  The poor guy just got the wrong house.  Linnie wasn’t home and they gentleman just walked in and left the turtle.  When they got home from their dinner, they just continued through their lovely kitchen (with fabulous moss green marble countertops, I might add) and headed in to watch tv.  I’m sure they wondered, for a while, what the bumping noise was coming from the kitchen.  They have dogs so I’m guessing they assumed it was one of them.  I’m not sure what prompted their youngest daughter to go into the kitchen.  Could have been to get a glass of water.  Maybe a bowl of ice cream.  The scream that came through the doors and windows of that house, across the acres to me, though, was most likely heard through most southern states.  Knowing and loving their youngest, Kinz, I know the drama factor was biblical in proportions.  Their sink looked like a scene from Carrie.  So many turtles come to me after being hit on the road and it’s not pretty.  I happy that I was the only neighbor she knew yet and we’ve laughed many times over her “welcome to the hood” gift.  I’m thankful she turned out to be a cool girl, totally down with the entire thing and took my explanation, blinked once or twice, and just moved on.  I retrieved the turtle, worked on his shell, released him and all was well.  Linnie has been around for years now, through gazillions of animals, sucked into our oddball vortex and bringing her own version crazy to become exactly the neighbor I’ve always wanted.