Monthly Archives: June 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Did you hear?  The iPhone was released today.  If you didn’t already know this, then I don’t know how you missed it.  Last night, while I was running on the treadmill, I saw no less than 17 iPhone commercials.  And I only ran 2 miles!  You haven’t seen the commercials because you don’t watch TV, you say?  Okay, but that’s no excuse.  It’s all anybody’s been talking about anywhere for days.  For weeks.  For months.  Not that I was talking about it, because I really only started paying attention last night, after commercial number 12 came on and I thought, “Hey, didn’t I just see this like 30 seconds ago?” But today, today was the day!  The phone is out, in a store near you.  You can go buy one now if you want.  They’re probably still open. 

This evening I  was talking to my brother and he mentioned the iPhone madness, how people had lined up early, in some cases, staked out a patch of sidewalk and camped there for days, just to be one of the first to get their hands on a new iPhone. 

And it struck me how people used to line up like that hoping to snag THE HOT TOY, whatever was the big “must have” toy that all the kids wanted for Christmas.  The first time I really remember this happening was back in the early 1980s, when the Cabbage Patch Doll first came out.  In the ’90s it was Tickle Me Elmo, and then Furby.  In between and ever since then, there have been others. 

I don’t think that happens as much anymore.  Not for toys, anyway.  Today, it’s more or less the adults that are lining up for the latest must have techno gadgets: Xbox, iPods, and now, the iPhone.  Sure, you can argue that Xbox 360 is for kids, but I know equally as many adults who stood in line to get one for themselves as I do parents who stood in line to get one for their children (or at least, that’s who the fathers claimed they were buying it for).

It also struck me how, the adults who are standing in line for the new tech gadgets now are very likely the same ones who sat waiting, with bated breath, for Santa to deliver the new hot toys for Christmas back when they were kids themselves.  Essentially, I figure, the marketers are marketing to the same crowd, only that crowd has aged a bit in the intervening years.

I’m not getting an iPhone.  First of all, there’s the cost.  At $499 for the basic version, I can’t afford one.  And even if I could, there’s the fact that it’s paired with a different service provider than I have right now.  I could switch, sure.  But to break my current contract, I’d have to pay some outrageous fee.  I’m not certain, but I think when I signed my current cell phone contract I signed away my rights to any future children I might bear under some kind of Rumpelstiltskinian clause.  If I did, you can’t blame me.  It was long and written in very small print. 

And then there’s the fact that I like my phone to be a… phone.  Just that and nothing more.  The phone I have right now, (are you ready for this, you might want to sit down) DOESN’T HAVE A CAMERA IN IT.  It doesn’t play music either.  It just has some buttons with numbers on them and when I push them in the right order, it makes a phone call for me.  And I chose it ON PURPOSE.  The sales guy thought I was nuts.

But that is the reason I have silver ware in my kitchen as opposed to, say, just one Swiss Army Knife.  I want my fork separate and disconnected from my knife, separate from my nail file, separate from my tweezers, separate from my scissors, and separate from my corkscrew.

I don’t like the universal remote, either.  I have trouble working it.  I press the button to raise the volume on the television and find the VCR blinking off and on instead.  I hit play to start a DVD only to find the television rapidly changing channels.  All because I  have to press the device button first, so the remote knows which device I am trying to control.  But my cell phone?  When I flip it open, it’s just a phone.  I don’t have to switch it out of camera mode or MP3 mode to make a call. 

Now, if someone were to say, GIVE me an iPhone, complete with a pre-paid calling plan as a gift, would I turn them down?  Hell no!  I’m not STUPID.  I’m just lazy.  And broke.  So I’m not standing in line for the iPhone.  But I might borrow yours to make a call.

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Filed under cell phone, gadgets, iPhone, must have toys, tech gadgets, toys

Okay, Listen Up!

I’m participating in a group writing project over at MamaBlogga in the hope that my post will be the one randomly chosen to win a $30 gift certificate to Amazon.  There’s a new CD by Augie March that I want to buy and I haven’t found it anywhere locally, but I saw it on Amazon.  Hope, as they say, springs eternal.

The theme of the writing project is “Three things I want my kids to…” and then the writer (that’s me!) fills in the rest.

Here is my entry:

Three Things I Want My Kids to Understand NOW, RIGHT NOW!  NO, Actually, Make that YESTERDAY!!!

And by kids, I mean Snags, the child of mine who’s just lost his first tooth, and Pee Pee, the dog who WON’T STOP PEEING ON THE FLOOR.  Snags is 5 and just learning to read; Pee Pee is 12, but she’s a dog, and hasn’t shown that much intelligence.  So that means somebody is going to have to read this to them.  Preferably a policeman, or some other figure of authority, because it’s pretty much been proven that when I talk, something shorts out in their ear to brain wiring, and I get nothing but a blank stare in return.

So here they are, the three things I want my kids to understand, and to eliminate all confusion, I will clearly indicate to which child each item addresses:

To Snags:  Your teachers are not smarter than I am.  I know you think they are because they teach you things all day long like your ABCs and 123s and witty songs and words woefully mispronounced in Spanish.  But most of them are young, barely out of high school, with just enough child care classes in their back pocket to get them through the door of your preschool.  They are all nice young women and I’ve no doubt that if and when they finish college, many of them will be smarter than me.  But I am here to tell you that contrary to what Ms. Becky says, YOU DO NOT PUT SUNBLOCK IN YOUR HAIR.  Your hair will not get sunburned.  So please.  STOP. GLOPPING. IT. ON. YOUR. HEAD.

To Snags: Remember when we read the Berenstain Bears book The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies?  I bought that book to try and subtly teach you a lesson.  Since subtly seems to have flown right over your head, I am simply going to give it to you straight: You cannot get something: a toy, a book, a candy, and most especially, not a fountain, every time we are out.  When I say “I don’t have enough money to buy you a fountain” on any given day, I mean it.  The ones you like the best cost upwards of $100 and I don’t have that money lying around.  And no, I can’t “just use PayPal!”  In order to use PayPal, I have to have the MONEY in PayPal in the first place.  Which I don’t.  So please, STOP. ASKING. 

To Snags and to Pee Pee:  You are both old enough to handle going to the bathroom yourselves, and in the appropriate place.  Snags, that means you must learn to wipe your own hiney.  You’re 5!  I’m pretty sure your Kindergarten teachers this fall won’t consider hiney wiping to be one of their duties.  And yes, I agree poop is gross, and it’s even grosser when you get some on your thumb, but you don’t have to cry about it.  That’s why we have toilet paper.  First, use some.  Not the entire roll; that will clog the toilet again.   Then if you still get poop on your thumb, use some more and wipe it off.  Then wash your hands.  And then wash them again.  And maybe, especially for the times you get poop on your thumb, wash them a third time.  And Pee Pee, please, hold your bladder until it’s time to go outside.  I KNOW you are doing this for spite.  Any dog that can sleep from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. without having to urinate in the middle of the night can surely hold it for an equal amount of time during the day.  You may not have noticed that the grass from the back yard does not extend into my kitchen, but if you’d look at the floor, you’d see that while the grass out back is brown and crispy and dying, it’s still brown.  My kitchen floor is gray and blue.  And then sometimes, yellow.  It’s the yellow that I don’t like.  Keep it to yourself.  Save it for the brown grass. STOP. PEEING. ON. MY. FLOOR.

That is all. You can go play now.
 

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Filed under Augie March, group writing project, humor, MamaBlogga, Pee Pee, preschool, Snags, sunblock, three things

Golf and Things Like It

“What are you doing?”  I asked my husband as he knelt on the floor in front of his golf bag and some 40 dozen or so golf balls spilled all over the floor. 

“I’m sorting these golf balls,” he said.  “I have to leave some of these here because you can only take a dozen golf balls with you on the plane,” he said.  “I dumped these out of my golf bag.

“You carry THAT many golf balls around in your bag?” I asked incredulously. 
Then I added, “I bet Tiger Woods doesn’t need that many golf balls.  He probably only carries like one golf ball with him when he travels.

 “Yeah, well,” my husband replied, somewhat huffily, “Tiger Woods is a PROFESSIONAL.”

“Ah, so that would be the difference,” I said.

My husband, you see, was packing to go out of town last weekend to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday.  The entire weekend was a surprise for his friend, Chad.  Chad’s wife organized the weekend, including gathering all of Chad’s friends from near and far to help celebrate with a Dinner Cruise, a day of golfing for the guys, and a fun-filled family bar-b-que.

My son and I turned down the invitation to join in this revelry because:
a) he had a tooth to lose (and so I’ll refer to him as Snaggletooth in this story) and
b) he had two other birthday parties he’d already agreed to attend.  Plus,
c) I get sea sick in the way that Dinner Cruise equals Vomit Fest, and that would have surely put a damper on Chad’s birthday.

By the way, Happy Birthday, Chad!  My present to you is that I didn’t come and throw up all over your shoes!

Anyway, our Saturday back home was filled with birthday parties and a visit from the Tooth Fairy, which, in case you missed it, you can read about here. But on Sunday, Snaggletooth and I splashed around with the hose in the backyard and caught a frog and some kind of large pretty beetle that I think was a scarab.  We put the frog and the beetle in a container and watched them wrestle and try to escape.  The beetle, by the way, won the match hands down. At least as far as I could tell, considering I’m not a wrestling referee so I’m not entirely clear on the rules and scoring and such.

Eventually we set the beetle loose and dumped the frog into our barrel fountain.  We caught 2 more frogs and dumped them in the fountain too.  We watched them swim for awhile then prodded them with a stick when they appeared to have drowned; however, it turned out they were only faking death, and they shot out of the pond aiming for our faces (but luckily just missing) as we jumped back and screamed in abject horror at the trick.  Later, we watched SpongeBob SquarePants on television, read stories, and made giant paintings of Christmas trees with twinkling lights on butcher paper rolled out on the floor of the garage because Snaggletooth kept saying, “I wish it was Christmas and I wish I could paint now.”  And because he woke at 5:45 in the morning, we had finished all of the above before noon.

Sometime after lunch Snaggletooth became contentious and cranky.  He was crying over nothing and whining in that irritating way kids have.  I pronounced him “tired and in need of a nap.”  But to those of you with a 5 year old, you know that uttering the word “nap” is akin to unleashing a stream of invectives at your boss.  That is to say, it’s a very bad thing.

This led to even more contentiousness, crankiness, and crying, with the whining ratcheted up several notches as Snaggletooth argued with me about how un-tired he was.  But I put my foot down and insisted that if he wasn’t going to take a nap then he had to at least rest by lying down on the sofa and watching TV QUIETLY.   I joined him there, hoping to get a chance to read a few pages of a book, and perhaps, if I was lucky, get a short nap myself.

But after only 20 minutes Snaggletooth sat up and said “Mini Golf! I know what we can do.  Let’s go play mini golf!”  I figured that was a better option than shushing him on the sofa for the next hour, and he seemed to have been refreshed by the 20 minute TV break because at least he wasn’t whining anymore.  I grabbed my license, car keys, and some money, and we hopped in the car.  Of course, not five minutes after we started off, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw his head nodding back and forth, rolling from side to side, with his eyes glazing over.  “Hey!”  I called.  “You’re not falling asleep back there, are you?” 

“No.”  He lied.  “I’m not tired.”

But 30 seconds later, he was fast asleep.

Crap!  I thought.  Now what should I do?  Turn around and drive home?  He’ll be really pissed off if he wakes up back in the garage and realizes that we didn’t go play mini golf after all.  I considered tricking him.  I could tell him we did play mini golf, but he fell asleep afterward and just doesn’t remember…  Nah, I reminded myself.  That doesn’t work anymore.  He’s too old now.  He stopped falling for that kind of stuff 2 years ago.  Plus, I knew that as soon as I stopped the car he’d wake up.  He wouldn’t stay asleep long enough for me to carry him in the house so there was no way I could claim he’d fallen asleep watching TV and only dreamed we’d gotten in the car to go play golf. 

My only option then seemed to be to keep driving.  I figured that a fifteen minute nap was better than nothing, and so we continued on.

I passed a place that sells riding mowers and tractors.  The sign out front advertised “New and Used Zero Turn Mowers in Stock.”  Zero Turn mowers?  What’s that, I wondered?  I have to believe they turn.  Who would want a mower that doesn’t turn?  I assumed they meant they could turn with a small radius.  Turn on a dime, as the saying goes.  Or smaller yet, on a fraction of a cent, almost nothing — hence, the zero.  Still, I couldn’t help but contemplate the use of a mower that didn’t turn.  Perhaps, I considered, that’s why they have used ones in stock.  Maybe people bought them, took them home, gassed them up and turned them on, only to realize “these don’t turn!”  I bet, I thought, they took them back.  “Yes, I want to return this mower.  It doesn’t turn.  I’ve got one strip of grass cut but that’s it.  I really need something that turns so I can finish mowing the rest of my lawn…”

Anyway, that kept me occupied for a few miles, and then I was turning the car (lucky for us it wasn’t a zero turn car) into the mini golf parking lot.  “Hey kiddo, we’re here!  Wake up.  Do you want to play mini golf?  We’re here…” 

It turns out that I’m pretty good at miniature golf.  I ought to be though.  It’s the only golf I’ve had a chance to play.  I’ve considered going out sometime, playing 18 holes on a real course, but my husband swears that you have to know how to play golf before they (they being the golf course police I assume) will even let you step foot on a golf course.  But I find it curious how that “rule” doesn’t ever apply to my husband’s friends, especially the few that aren’t golfers. I know for a fact that at least one of those non-golfing friends attended Chad’s 40th birthday bash AND joined the guys on the golf course, AND played golf.  Maybe not as well as Tiger Woods, but still, look who’s been carrying 40 dozen golf balls around in his bag.  Also, I am pretty certain they didn’t sneak him in by the trunk of the car, either.  Funny then, how nobody stopped him, nobody asked for his golfing credentials, don’t you think? 

But me, I’m supposed to learn by playing miniature golf.  By putting the ball through the windmill without hitting the turning blades, or through the clown’s mouth while he opens and closes it in an evil sort of way, where it looks like he’s chewing something.  A small animal, or a person perhaps, like the clown from It.

And Snaggletooth. Well, he has his own way of playing.  He refuses to hold the club properly and he hits the ball over and over again without once allowing it to stop rolling.  His version of miniature golf looks suspiciously like hockey.

Also, it occurs to me that maybe the scoring used in golf was invented by a loser.  Somebody who could never score high enough in other games to claim a victory, and so like a petulant child, changed the rules: “No! It’s not the person with the highest score that wins!  It’s the person with the lowest score.  So that’s ME!  Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!  I win and you lose!” 

In the end, the score was:

        Snaggletooth: 113
        Me: 61  

Snaggletooth’s score would have been, if I hadn’t finally stopped counting after 8 or so strokes at each hole, something much higher.  Much, much higher.  If we’d been bowling, say, instead of playing miniature golf, professional bowlers worldwide would have kneeled at his feet in awe and appreciation. 

He does though, seem to understand that in golf at least, less is more.  He said at one hole after a very lucky shot “Wow!  I got a hole in two.  A hole in two is pretty good, huh?”

“Yep, Snaggletooth!  A hole in two is great, I replied. “Your Dad would be proud!” 

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Filed under beetle, birthday, clown, friends, frogs, Golf, minature golf, wrestling, zero turn mowers

The Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy stopped by our house last night.  She left my son $5 in exchange for his first tooth.  I thought I’d tell you, just so you know what the going rate is around here.  That, mind you, is for the very first tooth.  All subsequent teeth are worth only a dollar, or maybe two.  I have to find my glasses and read over the fine print again to be certain. 

The tooth had been loose for about 2 weeks.  My son mentioned it at breakfast one day.  He stuck his index finger in his mouth and wiggled the tooth announcing, “THAT’S what the problem is!  My tooth is loose!  Hey Belle, look!  My tooth is loose!  That’s why I can put the other tooth behind it.”

My skin prickled at the pronouncement.  Put the other tooth behind it?  I was picturing the tooth next to it.  The first being so loose that he could lean it far enough forward and to the side that the next tooth over was behind it…  “You can put the other tooth behind it?”   I choked, while pushing my cereal bowl away, because I’d suddenly lost my appetite.

“Yeah, see?”  he said.  He smiled, showed me how when he clamped his jaws shut, the top tooth, the one directly above the loose bottom one, sort of nudged the loose one forward a bit so the tip of the top tooth was behind the bottom tooth.

Okay then, I sighed with relief.  Not as loose as I thought.

Loose teeth, it turns out, kind of creep me out.  Make me chilly; break me out in goose bumps. I didn’t know this about myself until my son said he could “put the other tooth behind it.” Kind of how I didn’t know I had a fear of heights until I was on vacation at the Grand Canyon and got disarmingly dizzy and scared to death.  Just as I never knew that ultimately, I’d prefer to catch my child’s vomit in my hands over scrubbing it out of the carpet.  Isn’t it amazing how we learn things about ourselves?

I’m okay with teeth being loose; I just don’t want the job of having to help remove them.  I remember the days when my mom would offer to help free me of a tooth that just didn’t want to say goodbye.  The tooth would be hanging by that one last nerve and she’d try to yank it, only the spit in my mouth would make it slippery, and my mom’s fingers would slide off, the tooth still hanging on.  And she’d try again and again and again, until we tired from the failures. Or worse, the time she tried the trick of tying a sting around the tooth, the other end attached to the bedroom door knob.  I think it was my idea, actually.  I’d heard some friends talk about the method. How fast and painless it was.  Once the string was tied at both ends, we were supposed to slam the door shut, and the force would, supposedly, yank the tooth right out of its tiny little socket.  But there was that slippery spit again and the string would simply slip down, slide below the edge of the dangling tooth, and it would be a struggle to get the sting out of my mouth, the slip knot having tightened, not loose enough to slide back over the tooth, but too tight to slip, say, a pair of scissors in there.  Remembering all of this, I decided then and there to let my son’s baby teeth fall out naturally.  I wanted no part of it.  Dentist, I’m not.

And so it was that my husband had gone out of town to attend a surprise 40th birthday party for his close friend, Chad.  And I was home with my son, having our own party, party weekend with two birthday parties to attend ourselves.

It was at the first party that the tooth fell out.  I thought it odd when my son ate only two bites of his birthday cupcake before handing it back to me claiming that he didn’t want anymore.  “Are you sure?”  I asked, a bit concerned since he’s never been one to turn down a cupcake.  “My tooth hurts,” he said.  “I just want to get back in the swimming pool.”

“Um… okay then,” I replied, somewhat dubious.

I helped him back into the life vest that he insisted on wearing even though the water in the pool was only 3 ½ feet deep and fell mid-chest level on him when he stood with his feet planted at the bottom.  He climbed back into the pool and started wiggling his tooth again.  And then he looked down at his life vest, and started messing with the zipper near his neck before moving toward me, where I was standing on the pool deck.  His arm was extended, his fingers tight in a pincer grip, holding the prize tooth. The wiggling had knocked out the tooth, but it had fallen, caught on the life jacket.  A preserver of things after all.

Still, I was anxious as he moved toward me.  What we would do if he dropped it?  I wasn’t wearing a swim suit, and he couldn’t swim.  Could I, I wondered, convince another swimmer to dive to the bottom and search for the tiny tooth?  Or would they think I was crazy, call security on us, and kick us out of the swim club?  I wanted that tooth.  After all, the first lock of hair and the first tooth, those are things you are supposed to keep, aren’t they?  Luckily, he made it out of the pool, tooth in hand.

Before I could stow it safely away in my purse, my son had to show it to the birthday girl and her parents, and all her friends and their parents, and anyone else he could snare into looking at the gaping hole in his mouth and the tiny white tooth with a little bit of blood on it.  Thankfully, everyone was as excited as we were (or maybe they just pretend well).  It was a big deal, losing this first tooth!  It meant, after all, that The Tooth Fairy would come, and bring him money.  Money, he said, he could use to buy more fountains.

He talked about it all afternoon. “Pretty cool how I lost a tooth, huh?” my son said, as we headed over to the second party of the day.  I wonder how much money The Tooth Fairy will bring me.”

“I don’t know, I replied.  But I hope she brings paper money so her bag of coins doesn’t clink around and wake us up in the middle of the night!”

That evening, after the parties and dinner and baths, we put the tooth in a little wooden box.  I figured this would be easier for the tooth fairy to find than a lone tooth tucked under the pillows.  My son worried though.  The box was small and he didn’t think the tooth fairy could fit enough money in the box.  I don’t know what he expected, that she’d arrive with a suitcase full of unmarked bills?  I assured him that she would be able to fit some money in the box and if not, she’d leave it under his pillow.  However she did it, I assured him, she’d leave him money.  But, I cautioned him, it’s not like she leaves a lot of money.  A few dollars, probably. Certainly not enough to buy a fountain with.  But that’s better than when I was a kid, I told him.  Back then, she only left you a quarter.

It took two attempts for the tooth fairy to snag the tooth and exchange it for cash.  The first time I entered my son’s bedroom, he was fast asleep; only his legs were hanging off the bed as if he were ready to sit up!  Now what?  I pondered.  He’s going to fall out of bed if I don’t move him.  But if I do move him, he’ll wake up and want to check the tooth box.  If I take the tooth and put the money in there first, he’ll find it and be too excited to go back to sleep…  I decided it best to move him and come back later.  Of course, when I moved him he sat straight up and peered at me intently with open, yet sleeping, non-seeing eyes.  He was staring, squinting, perhaps searching for wings or a wand, or tiny twinkling stars, whatever comes with fairies.  “Shh… I whispered.  You were falling out of bed.  Go back to sleep.”  And he dropped backwards, rolled over, and closed his eyes.  I pulled the sheet up to cover him, and left his room.

I went back in about half an hour later and was able to make the switch. I folded a $5 dollar bill until it was no bigger than a quarter, took the tooth, and put the $5 in its place.

When I went to bed myself, it was near midnight.  My son found his riches at 5:45 this morning.  “Belle!” he called, walking into my room and shaking me awake.  “Look!  The Tooth Fairy came!  I got $5, pretty cool, huh?”  And like I thought, he was too excited to go back to sleep after that.

This morning I noticed his new tooth has already poked through the gum line.  It’s as if he were a baby again, with those pearly white bumps cutting through.  Only they’re a good ¼” behind the hole where his baby tooth used to reside.  I’d always pictured adult teeth as growing directly under the baby teeth.  His baby teeth were nearly perfectly aligned, but this new adult tooth poking through looks like a misfit, suggesting trouble, or at the very least, braces for the future.  Then again, I’m not, as I said before, a dentist.  Nor am I an orthodontist.  Today, I’m simply The Tooth Fairy.

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Filed under life vest, lost tooth, teeth, The Tooth Fairy

Elementary Math Leaves Woman Without Chocolate

As we were driving to summer camp this morning my son said, “I’d like to drive around the neighborhood.  I’m interested in fountains.  Maybe I could buy one.”  This isn’t The City of Fountains we live in. It’s just that my son has an obsession with and an “eye” for decorative fountains, and can spot them hidden beyond a tree in your backyard from 17 miles away.  “Stop!  Go back!” he’ll yell as I’m driving.  “There’s a fountain back there!”  And if I do turn around and go back, it will turn out he’s spotted a fountain in a scene in a movie, playing on somebody’s television, and he caught a glimpse of it when they peeked through their mini blinds to get a check on the weather. Like when they were trying to decide, “Should I sit in the house and finish watching this Discovery Channel show about fountains, or should I go outside and mow the lawn?”

And it’s not like he needs a fountain, mind you.  He has quite an impressive fountain collection as it is. But I decided not to point out the obvious.  I didn’t say “You don’t NEED another fountain” which is what my husband would have done, and which would have provoked a long round of crying and pleading that I wasn’t up for.  Instead, I asked “Do you have any money?”  And he said “I have $5!  Oh and I have another dollar.  5 plus 1 makes 6!”  

“Didn’t your grandparents send you $5 recently?”  I asked.  “So how much do you have with that?  What’s 5 plus 6?” 

He thought about it and said, “Well, 5 plus 5 is 10, so that means I have $11!”  “Right!”  I said. Pretty good for a 5 year old, I thought.

Then, before I could stop myself, I said, “You know what?  I’ll give you $2 just for figuring out that hard math.” 

“It wasn’t hard” he said.  “I’m smart!”

“You are smart!” I agreed.  A comment that I realize goes totally against the recommendation of the New York Times magazine article How Not to Talk to Your Kids.

And then my son said, I’ll tell YOU what!  If I can tell you what 9 plus 9 is, you have to give me two more dollars!”  Because, you see, the kid IS smart, he knows he can’t buy a fountain with only $13 in his pocket.  He was angling to build up his savings, get a new fountain faster.  I thought about it for a second, considered the handful of bills I had stuffed somewhere at the bottom of my purse.  Were they all $1’s or did I have a $5 bill in there?  Would giving up another $2 leave me with nothing, thereby requiring a trip to the bank?  Before I had a chance to actually check, I took the bait.  I agreed we had a deal.

“But I’m going to count on my fingers” he said, as I shrugged.

Then I heard him in the backseat, counting to himself:  “One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine…”  then a pause.  Then he started again “ten…eleven…nine…ten…eleven…”  He was quiet as I drove for about 4 miles.  Then he announced, with the utmost confidence, “NINETEEN! Nine plus nine is 19!” 

“Aw.  Nope!  But you were close” I said. 

 “TWENTY!” he shouted. 

“Nope.  Not quite,” I replied. 

“Fine then!” he sniffed.  “I don’t get the $2.  Never mind! Just forget it!”  He cried.

I asked if he wanted me to tell him the answer and he said no, “that would be cheating”. 

So I said simply, “You were close, but too high.”

“Eighteen!” He guessed.

“Right!”  I said.  “Now I owe you $2.” 

“No,” he said.  “I didn’t get the answer on the first try.  Never mind, it doesn’t count.”

“Okay,” I said, resigned to his surliness again.  No biggie, I thought.  I can keep my $2.  Maybe I’ll buy myself some chocolate with it.  Yes, I thought, determined.  I’ll buy myself some chocoloate!  I swear to you, as I thought about it, I could even taste it. 

But then he said, “Okay, you can give me $1.  Or… you can give me $2.  It’s okay.”

And I said, “Now wait a minute!  You said you couldn’t have the money since you didn’t get it on the first guess.”  And he said, “But I DELETED those other guesses when I said eighteen, so you have to give me the money!”

And that’s how I ended up short on cash when I went to buy myself that chocolate bar.

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Weddings and Funerals

“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married. Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married. Gee, I really love you and we’re gonna get married. Goin’ to the chapel of love…

No.  Not me.  I’m already married.  And have been.  For a long time.  That song is going through my head because my cousin is getting married.  In two weeks.  Fingers crossed, knock on wood, and God willing, he will be married for a long time.  Forever.  Maybe even, as Buzz Lightyear likes to say “To infinity… and beyond!” which is, I am pretty sure, longer than forever. His fiancé is really pretty, and really nice, and everyone likes her so we want her in the family.  If we were picking teams, like if this was gym class, we’d probably be fighting over her.  So I’m glad my cousin is like the team captain, and he picked her up first.  She’s a keeper.

Anyway, this isn’t really about my cousin, or his fiancé, so much as it’s about the fact that I have to go buy a dress to wear to the wedding.  I looked in my closet and I have nothing to wear.  I doubt that I’m not the only one who has ever been in this predicament. 

I used to have things to wear.  I’m pretty sure I even had a few nice things too.  Fancy things.  Things suitable for an evening wedding.  But not anymore.  Ever since I had a child, I stopped buying fancy things because I don’t have anywhere to actually wear them.  Heels and a little black dress are a bit too much for dinner at Friday’s, if you know what I mean.  And I’m just not into the symphony or theater enough to attend on any regular schedule that would require I keep nice stuff in my closet.  Okay, actually, I can’t really afford tickets to the symphony or the theater, let alone the fancy clothes and sequined handbags and shoes required for it, on top of the cost of a babysitter.  But I’m not blaming my child for my lack of fancy clothes, or my budget really.  If any blame is to be placed, it’s  with my friends who all got married back around the time I did, and so none of us have much occasion to get dressed up anymore.  Sometimes married life means you dress up for other people’s events, but when they are married too, and busy with children of their own, there aren’t that many events demanding you pull on pantyhose. The occasional potluck or Saturday afternoon Bar-B-Q are just a bit too casual for that, I think.  Unless you’re June Cleaver, and I’m not.

Which is okay, actually.  Until you NEED a dress.  Because you know when you need something, you’ll never find the right thing. Especially when you have a limited amount of time to find it.  Especially when you have less than 2 weeks to find it. 

Now, in all honesty, I have a little black dress hanging in my closet.  It fits, it’s fine.  It will work for this wedding.  My husband says so (although that could be because he doesn’t want me to spend any more money) and my mother says so, and a friend who’s hip and very into fashion, says so.  And I know that black is perfectly fine evening wear, even in the summer.  But still.  Black reminds me of funerals, not weddings.  Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been thinking about funerals an awful lot lately.

I can’t help it.  I’m starting to wonder if the grim reaper is stalking me.  I don’t think I’m crazy because I have this evidence:

First, I heard an ad on the radio in my car.  It was for a funeral parlor that’s located in my town.  The ad said when cremation is what you’re after, they are the place to go.  They offer a full range of burial and cremation services because they have their own crematory ON THE PREMISES.  In my town!

I did not know that.  I was creeped out at the knowledge.  I can’t stop thinking about it and now I feel like I need to drive by there and take a look.  I mean, is there a chimney sticking up and spewing smoky ashes of the dead into my town?  Is that why this area has so many farms?  Things grow well because the ashy smoke settles on the fields like fertilizer? 

And then, I don’t know how, or why, but I heard this snippet of conversation when I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day: “…and he told me that he couldn’t find anyone to build crypts in Puerto Rico, so I picked up the phone and called my guy…”  Crypts?  And you have a guy?  You have a guy that builds crypts?  Who are you? 

I’ve been listening to Good Charlotte’s CD Good Morning Revival lately too.
I picked it up at Best Buy a week or so ago, and I like it so much that I’ve kept it in my car’s CD player ever since.  My daily commute is long, and I hear the entire CD at least twice a day now.  There’s a song on there, All Black, with the line “…Never been much for weddings or anniversaries but I go to a funeral if I’m invited any day of the week…” and then another line “…Like the color of your dress, all black…” . 

Anyway, on my way home from work everyday I pass by this cemetery.  And sometimes, if the timing is right, All Black is actually playing right as I drive by.  I think it’s old, the cemetery, and possibly haunted.  All of the headstones are crooked, leaning to the side, their heavy bottoms, which should be underground, I think, are exposed.  Others are leaning forward, as if to kiss the ground.  And the rest, they are leaning backwards, as if tired of standing sentry, they are getting ready to lie down and nap.  I can’t help but think of those old horror movies, like Night of the Living Dead, for example, where the dead claw their way out of the ground at night.  I imagine, as I pass this particular cemetary, and see the tombstones all askew, that the dead are responsible.  They’ve bumped their headstones and set them off kilter as they’ve climbed from the depths below.

On top of all that, as I was driving my son to summer camp this morning, I looked in the rearview mirror to find that I was being followed by a hearse. A hearse!  A vehicle I think of as a limo for the dead.  But thinking about limousines reminds me of weddings.  Which reminds me again that I ought to go shopping for a more colorful dress.  If I can’t find one I like, then I’m at least buying a pair of new shoes to go with the dress I already have hanging in my closet.  I probably ought to to buy flats instead of heels.  That way, if I am being stalked by the grim reaper, I might have a chance of out running him.

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Filed under funeral, little black dress, wedding

Shh… It’s a Secret!

Have you ever seen that television commercial for the chewy granola bars where the little kids are sharing too much information, ‘fessing up the family secrets?  They are saying stuff like “My mom had to cut up all her credit cards… My dad cries… My sister dresses like a floosey!”  Then the announcer comes on and suggests that you can keep the kids quiet by feeding them these chewy granola bars.  It’s pretty funny.

Anyway, I got to thinking about secrets and how even things that aren’t actually secrets, might seem like they are, or might sound suspect, coming from a child.  And that might not be funny.  At least, not initially.  But later, after some time has elapsed, and everyone’s calmed down, it will probably seem funny.  That’s how retrospect works, isn’t it?

Let me share some examples of what I’m talking about with you. (I was going to say “Let me share with you some examples of what I’m talking about” but then I remembered you shouldn’t end sentences in a preposition, so I changed it).  Anyway, my parents live in an area prone to tornados.  Because of that, they’ve recently dug out a crawl space under their house.  A place they can take cover in the event the weather radio blares out a warning of an impending tornado heading their way.  My father, trying to entertain my son on a recent visit, showed my son the newly dug out crawl space, and called it a “secret room”.  Which you’d think wouldn’t be such a big deal, right?  But then my son went and told the neighbor that his grandfather has a “secret room” in his house!  Suddenly, it doesn’t sound so innocent, does it?  I can only imagine what images the neighbors have flickering through their minds.

Or how about this?  When my niece was 3 years old she was waiting with her mother to walk her sister home from school.  While they stood there, waiting for school to let out and surrounded by other parents who were also waiting for their children, my niece proclaimed in her loudest 3 year old voice, “Mom, your breath smells like beer!”  My horrified sister-in-law corrected her: “You mean my breath smells like baloney,” she said, slightly louder than necessary.  She’d just finished a baloney sandwich a half hour prior. She claims that ever since that incident, the other parents seemed to pay her just a bit more attention.  They’ve been watching, perhaps, to see if she appeared at all tipsy there in the middle of the afternoon.

My husband’s not so good at keeping secrets himself.  He had to warn me the other day of how he’d been looking up crystal on the internet.  In anticipation of our upcoming wedding anniversary, he was browsing for possible gifts.  Only, one of the links he clicked on was “crystal thongs”, and up popped images of women’s rear ends, clad in those thongs.  Well, you know how thongs are; that tiny strip of fabric doesn’t cover much.  And then, unlucky for him, there was our 5 year old son suddenly beside him asking, “Dad!?  Why are you looking at ladies butts?!” 

 And finally, there’s this event shared with me by one of my friends.  His 3-year old daughter got to spend some time with her Uncle recently.  Her Uncle is a magician.  For real.  That’s his job!  I don’t know if he’s on T.V. or in the circus, or travels around the country with carnivals, or what, I’ve never met him.  But he’s got a bag of magic tricks, and he entertained my friend’s daughter with them.  She, in turn, was so astonished that she told her preschool teachers all about it.  And they, in turn, were so taken aback that they questioned my friend’s wife when she went to pick their daughter up at the end of the day.  They pulled her aside and said, “Your daughter was telling us that her Uncle… um… makes his balls disappear…” I do believe she set them straight.

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