Cough, Cough, Cough

I am: 

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There are several phrases that I say all the time.  One of them is “I never get sick”.  This has been true for as long as I can remember.  I’ve only had one true illness, and even though it lasted months, and was scary as all heck, I’ve been super duper healthy for the rest of my life.  I haven’t had a fever since 4th grade.  While others suffer with allergies, insisting that the pollen must surely be bothering me, I glide through the seasons.  I might get a sniffle now and then, usually because I stupidly use the blower in the barn, breathing in airborn dust and poo, but I just deny it’s happening and it goes right away.  

This is why I am so incredibly pissed off and, yes, embarrassed to be lying here on day four of what has been intense misery on the part of myself and, probably for my family, due to my whiny need to share my feelings. 

ImageAs a vegetarian, I have somehow come to the conclusion that I cannot allow myself to appear weak in any way or someone will point the finger and say “Ah hah! She needs MEAT!”  While other kids suffered through numerous childhood maladies, I would not allow my kids to exhibit a symptom, lest their bad grandmother, again, point her carnivorous finger at my parenting.  Luckily, though, they stayed well for most of their childhoods, never having antibiotics, never coming home with green noses, until middle school, where their romantic antics caused them to swap germs with those kids from sicklier families. 

The last two years I have had several colds.  Once, because a man sneezed directly on me in the dairy isle.  I turned to the Goose, who lives in fear of germs, and said, well, now I’m infected, and it turned out that I was.  I got sick from something that ejected directly from another human’s nose.  It’s too horrible to think about. 

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This go-round, I am lucky enough to be sharing an illness with the Trophy Wife, who is a few days ahead of me and can point out what’s coming next.  We’ve spent days on the phone, diagraming our symptoms, whining about our heads and coughing.  Oh, the coughing.  It has caused me to banish the Goose to the guest room lest he sigh ONCE MORE because I cannot control it.  Last night, he came into our room for company and TV.  So angry at his unfeeling attitude was I that I finally just licked my finger and rubbed it on him, to which he shrieked, not unlike a frightened drag queen, “oh, yeah, cut the throat of the Golden Goose”.  I kid you not, those were his exact words.  Hopped up on Nyquil, I couldn’t quite get my facial expression to convey what I was feeling about it, but I’m not surprised by his response.  He’s a weenie. 

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Being a man, however, even with me in my mother’s old bathrobe for comfort, strung out on various over the counter remedies, with dark circles, watery bleary eyes, hair that looks like an 80s rock video by accident, I am marginally sure I caught The Goose giving me “the look”, which only goes to show that a man really has no standards and will brave any danger just to get lucky. I don’t know if he got lucky or not, as I was well and truly knocked out by then, but I assume he felt sorry for me because when I woke up later, at least I was covered up and I thank him for it.

Sickness is disgusting all the way around.  In the old days, I would have at least gotten a satin bed jacket or caring nurse. When I have imagined getting sick, I have always thought I’d enjoy my time being quiet and lying around, which are not the norm for me. And, even though I have watched all three old Topper movies, which were wonderful, I find that I am swearing at my dogs, who cannot get their hot, hairy little bodies close enough to me, the cat, who has ignored me for 16 years and now wants to meow and slink around my head and that friggin pig, Babette, who just needs something all the time.  There really should be a place where people can go when they’re sick, an old fashioned sanatorium, with 1000 count sheets, lilies in vases, May breezes coming in through open windows and nurses who bring you omelets and champagne and schedule your massage. 

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My family refuses to believe I’m down and out and I hear them wondering why no one has gone to the grocery store. They are lost. They’re calling me to bring them the shoes they left behind to their schools, necessitating makeup so as not to frighten the attendance secretary there. They need me to shop for dresses with them when all I can think about are my cool sheets and black and white movies on AMC.  

So, today I combed my hair, and dragged back into life.  I found a dress for Cricket, I cleaned up the house, and, oh, yeah, I sneezed on someone in the dressing room. 

Now I’m one of those people, just sharin’ the love. 

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Little Boy Blues

The other day my daughter told me I was immature.  Nuh-uh, I said.  Yo mama.  This caused me to get thebleak look of pity”.  Unlike theblack glare of death” that she used to give me when she was in high school, this look just means that she loves me, she feels I’m slipping into my dotage and she feels sorry for me.

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Four or five years ago, I felt hip and with it.  Heck, even two years ago.  I blame the fact that sparkly bottomed jeans have gone out and skinny ones are in.  I just can’t make the jump.  It’s hard to feel sassy in pajama looking pants and flats.  Apparently, I had been relying on bimbo clothes to prop me up.

Also playing into my slippage is the fact that I’m not really as necessary at home as in the past.  I have become…well, I was going to say an eight track player, then I upgraded to a cassette and still felt I was shortchanging myself.  I am a CD player.  No one really needs them, but they are nice to have at home, hold some of our favorite memories and we spent a lot on them.  That’s me.

This weekend The Golden Goose and I went to the lake.  We went on Friday night and had a lovely evening to ourselves, complete with a roaring fire and wine.  On Saturday, our son, The Boy, came up with his posse, roaring into the driveway, music blaring.  I had so looked forward to this because I have spent years playing with these boys.  Instead of my sweet gang of boys, though, a changeling group of asshats and buffoons arrived wanting nothing to do with me.  The great evening out I had planned in my mind, eating dinner at the club by the big fireplace and sharing humorous stories over dessert devolved into debacle of Arby’s curly fries and muddy boots.

ImageWhile The Boy was telling a fascinating tale of  a drug lord at school, or something, I made the unfortunate choice to interject a question. He had the audacity to say to me “oh, Mom, you just don’t know about stuff, sitting over there in your little chair, with your paisley pants and your hair up, your wine, with those little glasses on your head”.  WHAT kind of poorly constructed, insulting sentence is that for a mother to receive?  The fact that I was sitting in a chair from which it’s hard to effectively launch oneself and, also, I didn’t want to spill my wine, is the only thing that kept his head on his neck.  Well, that and the thought of getting bloodstains out of the rug.


This has caused a great maudlin boohoo on my part and stalwart suffering for the Goose as he listens to my distress.  He has patiently explained to me that there is nothing in a 16 year old boy’s head but boobs.

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“My child no longer loves me” I’ve said, at least 40 times since we left the lake, envisioning his chubby baby neck and how he used to bring me tadpoles.  I’ve called him numerous filthy names, both aloud and in my head.  I have texted my daughter at work and told her how she is my very favorite and how I will never subject myself to a weekend alone with all that testosterone again.  She, being the first child, believes this has always been the case and has accepted my declarations with stoicism and a glinty eye aimed towards my will.  She has reminded me several times that I once said “that Boy will be sweet and snuggly all his life”.  Then she laughs the Cruella laugh.

The Goose, being, well, The Goose, reminded me of the fits of despair I went through when Cricket was in 10th grade.  She dyed her hair purple, bought stock in black eyeliner and black clothes and rolled her eyes at every breath I took.  Not one thing I said was cool or even bearable.  Now that she is 74 and has passed me in age, she finds me tolerable, if somewhat childish and is happy to share my wardrobe.

The Goose is right.  The Boy will come back around or wreck the car and need to be nice for a while.  He’ll fail math and need a bail out and I’ll be the hero again.  I’ll do research on thug lingo so as to appear cool and drop a word into conversation casually and shrug and I’ll be all that again.  He’ll grow up and leave and remember me fondly.  He’ll come home on weekends, hugging and glad to see me.  We’ll talk over old times and look at photo albums, tell stories of summers at the lake, of playing in the creek.  He’ll remember the snuggling, the building of forts and the fantastic childhood his mother made for him. He’ll have my picture in his dorm room.

Then, he’ll marry some tacky witch who just wants me to die so she can get my stuff.

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Rock ON

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My friend writes a great and funny blog, Forever 51.  The other day she asked what the soundtrack of our youth was.  That got us talking because the kind of music we listened to says something about us.  

When I met my best friend in 2nd grade, I was introduced to “Black Water”.  This was pretty eye opening for me as my family only listened to classical music.  I had already had the fiasco of “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog” being banned at my house because of the wine reference and I was an empty cup when it came to music. Oh, I could belt out all four stanzas of hymns 1 – 345 in the Baptist hymnal and could hum a good many waltzes and concertos, but the Doobie Brothers were out of my realm.   My friend had younger parents and her house had music playing in it that made me feel cool and hip, like an after school special. 

When the disco era came along I was still in middle school, tucked away in private school where we belted out the tunes about sex and drugs and had no idea what we were singing about.  Barry Manilow and Abba ruled, it’s sad to say. 

Upon being sprung from the misery of private school, I threw away my preppy shoes and had the eye opening experience of public education.  Kids kissed and held hands in the halls, soon I kissed people in the hall. Kids could bring in a note that allowed them to SMOKE AT SCHOOL.  It was an orgy.  Peter Frampton rang out, The Who, REO Speedwagon.  My first concert was Journey, an event for which my date had to come into my house and convince my mother I wouldn’t die or join a cult from attending. 

If I had to pinpoint the band behind most of the shenanigans I committed in high school, though, I would say without a doubt, it was AC/DC.  I can hear the bells starting up Hell’s Bells and still get a mental whiff and taste of that time. I can smell my car, a sweet little black Camero with a great stereo, cracklin’s from Long John Silvers spilled between the seats, and a bottle opener magnet on the dash. Led Zeppelin tapes all over the floor mixed up with punk tapes like the Sex Pistols. I remember my Halston perfume and the smoke of the fantastic parties that seem to happen most weekends.  

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When I met the Goose, he was on a whole different wavelength.  He listened to Bruce Springsteen, who honestly causes me a bit of nausea, Jackson Brown, who makes my ears bleed and Jimmy Buffett, whom I’ve come to like in small doses due only to the fun I’ve had at his concerts and to his music.  The Goose didn’t know every word to Kashmir and didn’t consider it a holy song.  He didn’t know Moving in Stereo, Starship Trooper or any other long make-out songs. For a while, I won him over, most likely because of the making out, but several years into our marriage he produced from his mouth a sentence that could have spelled the end to our union.  He said, with all sincerity, “I really only like country music.”.  It’s true, that I’ve stayed married to him, whether out of pity or inertia, and tried to gently move him back into the light, but he persists, even asking me to “listen to the words” now and then.  It’s a burden I continue to bear and I say with all shame in my heart that my precious daughter, who in high school had purple hair and listened only to music that could take one’s skin off, has veered over into that twangy territory.  I find it uncomfortable to think about and embarrassing to admit, but my daughter is a country music fan and I love and support her anyway. I think there might be help group I can attend for this. 

I find that in my advanced years I listen to a lot of stuff, rap and Cricket’s old screamo when I run, Grateful Dead at the lake or with wine, but the two kinds of music I continually return to are those of my youth, classical, because my mother played in the Atlanta Symphony and I grew up with the screeching of a practicing violin, and the banging rock anthems of my high school sound tracks.  We all go back to what’s comfortable. I once heard someone say that we are going to be a generation of old people, sitting around in rocking chairs, holding hands, eating jello and singing along to Stairway to Heaven and I feel that, possibly due to the punishment our brains took, that time might be closer than we think. 

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Never Too Old To Party

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Last Sunday we had a really rockin’ sermon on finding time.  I say rockin’ because we now go to “church lite” which comes complete with a rock band and disco lights.  I can’t complain about the content because our pastor delivers the most loving, funny, informative sermons I’ve ever heard.  I just miss the old hymns with all four stanzas in three quarter time, with the music director making those Baptist music gang signs as we sing.

This message pertained to how we live our lives and use our time.  In it he quoted a book by a woman who has worked in hospice for years.  The book is all about the regrets of the dying.  Of course, everyone wishes they’d lived their lives differently and used their time for different things other than work.  This caused the Goose to roll his eyes a bit and ask who would have paid for things if he hadn’t worked so hard, but the rest of us got a lot out of it.

I had already been thinking of this and have been trying to have more fun and less stress.  The Goose will be really be rolling when he gets to this line because, apparently, I have a stress free life anyway.  I am less stressed because I’m made that way.  I am optimistic, usually see the bright side (except for those sad dark weeks of January) and know things will usually turn out okay.  Still, it’s easy to slide into the drudgery of everyday life.  Most mornings, my friend the Trophy Wife will call to see what i’m up to.  Every day, I mean every single solitary day, we say the same dialogue:

Good morning!

What’s up?

Nothing, cleaning up the kitchen, you?

Same.

How does this happen?

Because no one knows where anything goes but me.

Same here, or to paraphrase, word to your mutha.

It’s said by every woman everywhere at exactly the same time.  While men in other countries are simultaneously bowing toward Mecca, woman are muttering “why can’t anyone put anything where it goes?”. Someone really should work on getting us synchronized and it’d be a lot more fun.  Maybe someone could add music like they did for that guy who said “hide yo kids, hide yo wife”. .

One of my favorite movie lines is from the Addams Family where someone asks Morticia how things are going.  She replies, shrugging her shoulders, “oh, you know, I just wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish brigade”.  I feel her pain.  There is just no time for anything it seems.  I am not half as busy as I was 10 years ago, but seem to get nothing done.  Saturday night we had three delightful invitations, all would have been great, but 8:00 saw both the Goose and me, in our jammies, in the bed, watching mindless tv.  This just is not right.

This sermon has made me renew my efforts for fun with great devotion.  I’m really not sure what he was going for was that we try to party more, but that’s what I’m taking from it.  This year, I’m going to have more fun whether my house is straight or not.  While I am going to continue to berate my children into cleaning up their mess, I’m not going to restrict them from having friends over until a 24 hour “clean quarantine” period has passed after maid day.  I’m going to sit in my yard, drink more wine and watch my animal kingdom cavort.  I may or may not pull out old prom dresses, or I might try something new.  This might be the year for big hats. I’m going to go OUT, into the big world, after 8:00 on some weekend nights. I’m going to wear my good shoes in the rain and not save them until my dog chews them up.  I will use my grandmother’s crystal every time I have a pretty drink and sometimes just when I’m having water.  I will visit friend’s houses and not look at the clock, feeling the need to pull a “homing pigeon” and run home to see that a stray crumb has not fallen on my floor.  There might be days when I don’t make my bed, but most likely not as I want to enjoy life, not live like someone from 16 and Pregnant.

I am NOT going to lie around, in my lovely lavender bed jacket from Neiman Marcus (take heed, Cricket, the one that matches my purple earrings) and not have any (more) wild secrets to tell my hospice nurse.  I want her scandalized enough to be unable to look me in the eyes.

World beware, I’m pulling out some stops.

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Kids

I’ve never been very, um, “mommy”.  I mean, I was a good mom when the kids were little but I didn’t lose myself in being mommy.  Maybe it was selfishness, maybe immaturity, maybe it was a deep desire never to wear high waisted jeans or drive a mini-van. I stuck to my bimbo code and the kids dealt with it.

I’ve mellowed, become more tolerant and find that I’ve had so much fun with my kids as they’ve gotten older and now there are lots of kids that I truly love.  There are so many friends of my kids who have become like my own.  I wash their clothes, feed them, yell at them, play sardines with them, chauffeur them around on the boat and listen to their secrets, hopes and dreams.

In return, the kids that I love have drawn giant genitalia in my front yard.  They have written dirty words on my car and let me drive around with truck drivers honking and nodding at me.  They have changed my status to “I’m gay” at least 400 times.  They changed my Apple password to “Penis” and I now cannot figure out how to change it back.  Every time I walk into see a Genius, I have to mumble this to them while their whole demeanor changes and they sneak sideways glances at me. They have set their carpet on fire, set the car seat on fire, set themselves on fire.  They have thrown up vodka and blue juice onto the carpet in my basement.  They’ve turned over the ATVs, grounded jet skis, and one has had crying fits worthy of an oscar, but I’m not saying which.  They constantly add mess and confusion to my household, glasses stuck to nightstands, plates with pizza stuck to them, clothes everywhere, friends everywhere. I am single handedly pulling my son through high school using threats, manipulation and little treats, just like I trained my Jack Russell.

In the shadow of all the tragedy surrounding us lately, both in our community and in the country, I’ve been looking at things differently  I think of all the moms that won’t have kids come home to annoy them. Their kids won’t make messes, won’t make mistakes, won’t embarrass them.  They won’t be there to spontaneously grab their moms, pick them up and squeeze them  until they scream.  They won’t share sweaters, won’t borrow their cars, won’t remind them of the stupid things they’ve done, repeatedly.  Their kids won’t ever become smarter than their parents and be there to hook up technical devices.  They won’t still snuggle and watch a movie, even though they’re almost grown. The enormity of that makes me want to fall to my knees and be thankful that I have one more day with my babies.

This makes me forgive all the craziness and realize that this is what makes life fun, watching them make mistakes and learn from them.  Watching them struggle through senseless biology and math. Seeing their hearts get broken and then seeing them rise above it.  It makes me want to hug them until they say “Mom, this is awkward”. I’m seriously thinking of asking if they want to climb in and sleep with me and their dad tonight, but anticipate rejection and looks of concern.

My son, The Boy, recently said “Mom, we’ll both be gone in two years.  What will you do?  You’ll have no life.  Who will play with you?”.  It caused me to feel sad and go straight to bed because they’re right.  I think I’m one of them.  Who is going to play with me?  The thing I hold onto is that, unlike those poor moms for whom I can’t stop crying and praying, I’ll still be able to call my kids once, twice, maybe 26 times a day.  I can sleep over at their dorms and apartments.  Oh, and I will.

Also, the Goose is going to have to step up and get me a puppy.

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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Hallowiner

ImageSo I’m lying here, enjoying Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin and relishing the fact that I’m not out walking little kids around door to door, freezing and trying to balance a flashlight, a two grubby little hands and a wine glass.  Really, I’m just happy about the missing the cold.  It’s a little sad to see that my mommy Halloween packed up it’s candy bag and left years ago.  (This is where I’ll thank you, Cricket, not to bring up the fact that I sometimes let your dad take you and I stayed home to man the door with my friends and cocktails!)

I don’t understand those folks who claim to hate Halloween.  I can’t even begin to address those who believe it’s evil.  I grew up Baptist, my mother was perfect and thought Halloween was just fine and I’m sure she got that information directly from God.  I went to Christian school and I know that NOWHERE does it say “thou shalt not dress as a Power Ranger and collect candy”.  

Why, in the world, would anyone not want to put on a costume?  I’ve frequently been known to whip on an old prom dress or glittery majorette costume just for Friday night cocktail hour.  It just makes things more fun.  The other day I had on a gown with a 6 ft. train and walked several times around the kitchen and considered it a good floor cleaning. 

The Goose refuses to dress up.  Twice, I’ve had him in a Halloween costume.  When we were first married and he still could be moved by “a look”, I made him a Jolly Green Giant costume by dying a pair of long underwear green and making him a leaf dress to wear over it.  I then covered him with green paint and went with him as Sprout.  We went to a party at his boss’ house.  Just this weekend I was reminiscing with his boss and he had the audacity to bring up the fact that there were parts of his house with traces of green paint, on carpets and walls for years.  I am assuming he was commenting on our exuberant dancing and the Goose’s “nap” on the carpet sometime in the wee hours.  I wish I still had a picture of it. 

Several years ago, when he had become immune to “the look”, Cricket asked him to dress up and he did, briefly, wear a pair of fairy wings while downing some beers.  Fifteen minutes, tops. I DO have a picture of this, but am not allowed to post it lest the Goose’s business associates realize he has a fun side and a family.  

When the kids were little, we would become so overcome in the costume isle that I couldn’t say no and we would go home with a 2nd mortgage’s worth of costumes that required a change every hour.  As Shep wore his for some part of everyday for two years, I felt I got my money’s worth. The child wore a batman cape and frog boots for two solid years, ever day.  Everywhere.  The costumes, the pumpkin candy holders, the nip in the air, neighbors, wine.  I loved Halloween with little kids. I loved Halloween as a child.  I really liked it as a teenager (except for the two month’s worth of trouble I was in afterwards…sorry, Mom and sorry to my date for all the throw up in his car.  I mean, really, you make a drink that tastes like peppermint schnapps and expect kids to know when to say when? Seems like some kind of conspiracy to me!)

You know what else is great about Halloween?  Parties.  Parties where everyone dresses up, there’s lots of good stuff to eat and drink and, best of all, NO GIFTS!  There is absolutely no stress about what to take and give.  No wrapping, shopping, guessing if what you’ve brought is adequate.  I love that.  You just throw back a shot or two, put on a wig and, voila, good times.  My love, the Trophy Wife and her husband, Big Poppy have a party that beats all others.  In years past I have misbehaved to the extent that my children and husband have chastised me greatly for weeks.  This year, I was SO good that I remember all parts of it and it was fantastic.  

Wrapping up, Halloween is good and bad.  On the surface, it’s fun, but  it’s the sneaky little holiday that makes us think the oncoming winter is going to be okay.  By Black Friday, most of us realize we’ve been duped and are already longing for spring.  So it’s a good thing to give this scary night it’s homage.  Now, it’s November, though, and I can’t help but think of the ugly woman with her make-up off on the morning after.  Things just look bleak and scary with just the cold and the talk of the election.  Ugh!  Somebody hand me a fluffy dress, quick!

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