Monthly Archives: August 2007

Chinese Takeout

I’m really aggravated.  I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner, okay?  I called the place and asked for a large order of Roast Pork LoMein, a large order of General Tso’s Chicken, and a large order of the Chef’s Special: Crispy Beef.  I ordered the beef because it was the Chef’s Special, so:

a. it had to be good, right? and
b. the menu said it had carrots in it and that could count as my vegetable

Phone order-taker man said it would be 20 minutes.  To be fair, since it was approaching dinner time, I gave them an extra five minutes beyond the time they quoted me to get my food together before I went to pick it up.

But when I got there, it wasn’t ready.  I was directed to grab a chair for a while.  I sat and waited while they seemingly caught the chicken, cut its head off, plucked the feathers out of it, cut it up, and deep fried it and poured General Tso’s secret sauce all over it. 

FINALLY they brought out my order.

As the order delivery lady handed it over to me she said something in Chinese that I didn’t quite catch.  I was going to say “What?” but then didn’t because I remembered that except for take out menu, I don’t speak Chinese anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered.

When I got home and unpacked the sack of food, I got a surprise: two egg rolls that I hadn’t asked for.  I deduced then (because I’m smart that way) that the order delivery lady had probably said to me, “Thank you for your patience.  You waited longer than it took us to build the Great Wall and so I hope you’ll accept my offering of two free egg rolls.”  I mean, I’m not exactly sure that’s what she had said, but I wasn’t about to drive back over there and return the egg rolls, so we ate them.

The egg rolls were good, but the Chef’s Special was not special at all.  Not even close.  In fact, I suggest you skip it.

The sack of food also contained 6 bags of Chinese noodles.  The fried kind they’d put in a bowl on your table if you were sitting at a restaurant.  The equivalent, I think, of a basket of corn chips on your table when you go to Don Pablos.  Then there were about 12 fortune cookies in the bag.

I wondered what they were thinking.  I mean, people!  Come on!  I only ordered three entrees.  Why do I need 6 bags of noodles and 12 fortune cookies?  Then I started to think that maybe they were trying to tell me something.  Perhaps three large orders of food are supposed to feed more than 3 people?  Well, no matter, we could each have four fortune cookies for dessert.

But here’s the part that pisses me off the most.  They gave me the WRONG fortune cookies.  They gave me someone else’s fortune cookies!  No wonder there were so damn many of them.

How do I know they weren’t MY fortune cookies?  I opened them all.  I read the fortunes.  Check these out:

The only rose without a thorn is friendship.  What is THAT supposed to mean?  Whose stupid fortune is that?  Not mine.

Keep your feet on the ground even though friends flatter you.  What friends are flattering me?  Where are they doing this?  Behind my back?

You love sports, horses and gambling but not to excess.  Okay.  Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.  I don’t love sports unless roller skating counts.  Does roller skating count?  Not the roller blade kind.  The old fashioned kind where you have 4 wheels underfoot and are much more stable and the disco lights are going and you skate round and around to the beat of the music until they call “couples only.”   Plus, I hate horses.  I’m sorry, but it’s true.  I was never fond of horses as a child, even though all girls are supposed to be in love with them.  Sorry Black Beauty.  Plus, once when I was in high school I had this boyfriend who took me horse back riding and the horse slipped on a patch of ice on a hill and we were thrown to the ground and the horse fell and my stupid boyfriend worried more about the horse’s leg and if it was hurt than he did about me, and it wasn’t even his horse!  And finally, gambling?  Come on!  Okay, I do sometimes buy a lottery ticket, but only when the jackpot is REALLY, REALLY big so millions of others are buying tickets too and they ruin my chances of winning.  Like I said, this one, definitely NOT mine.

But wait.  It gets better. Immediately after I opened the one about horses and gambling I opened:

What’s vice today may be virtue tomorrow.  Seriously.  Look, I have it right here.

I couldn’t stop there though.  There were two more cookies left and I had to see if one of them was actually meant for me.

You have an important new business development shaping up.  Well, that’s totally news to me.  So I think it’s not mine.

And after that:
You will have good luck and overcome many hardships.  Does that mean hardships in the new business?  And if so, what is it?  So again, not my fortune!

I went through all twelve cookies and am feeling terribly full now only to be disappointed. 

I decided I wasn’t going to stand for this so I drove over to the take out place again and told them my problem.  There was a lot of fist pumping and pointing and raised voices as they argued with me. They said I couldn’t prove I got those fortunes from their cookies.  They said maybe I got them from Wong’s down the road.  I got mad and stormed out and all the workers yelled after me in Chinese as I headed out the door.  I don’t know what they said.  It was probably an apology but I’m going to have to learn to speak Chinese beyond the menu dialect if I’m going to be able to figure it out.

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Filed under Chinese food, fortune cookies, humor

Backseat Driver

My husband and I are both Geographers.  By schooling and by hobby.  We both have undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geography.  We like maps, especially old maps, and we have framed maps hanging on many of the walls in our home.  We have more than one globe, and issues of National Geographic abound.  We have road atlases in our car, and folded up maps in the glove compartment.  And the irony of this is that none of those things, of course, ever stop us from getting lost.

And our son seems to be following, to some degree, in our footsteps.  Or in this case, our tire tracks…

You see, I was driving Snags to preschool one recent morning when he pulled one of our many road atlases out from the door compartment in the car where we store them.  From his position in the backseat of the car he asked, “Mom, what does ‘S’ stand for?”  I had to think about this for a moment.  Then I realized that he must be looking at the north arrow in the atlas so I responded, “Um…South.”  To which my backseat driver announced, “Okay.  We’re going to go south out of the garage and down the driveway. Then we are going to turn west up the street.” 

And now you must be wondering, if I just taught him ‘S’ stood for south, where did he learn about west? Well, from Curtis, Kimee, Karla, Shaun, and Jenn on Hi-5, of course!  You don’t think professional geographers like my husband and I would teach this kind stuff to a child do you? Because we didn’t.  We don’t have the time.  North, south, east and west are on a whole other directional plane from “Go UP to your room!” or “Sit DOWN, you know better than to stand on the table!” 

Anyway, think about this… Snags was holding that atlas flat on his lap.  In that position, the north arrow on the page would point straight ahead and north would always be in front of us.  If we back up, go in reverse to get out of the garage and down the driveway, we must be headed south.  Because as he sees it, the north arrow is pointing forward, and south is pointing behind us.

And so naturally, if we turn left off of our street we will be heading west, and conversely, if we turn right, we’ll be headed east.  And mostly this is correct.  But kids don’t understand that you need to take into account your current position when you are reading a map, and THAT makes all the difference.

As I continued driving toward preschool my son announced, roughly every 7 seconds, that we were “…going north… still going north… still going north… still. going. north.  Still going north, mom…” 

I found myself driving a little faster, trying to get to the place where we had to turn.  Because, I figured, at least then he could stop saying “still going north…” 

I mean, I felt like I was stuck in that orange-banana knock knock joke.  You know it right? 

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana. 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana. 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana. 
Banana who?

And just when you are about to take out your own eardrums with the stiff end of a banana peel after saying “Banana who?” for the 432nd time, the joke changes and they say “Orange” and you say, “Orange who?” and the joke teller says: “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” Yes, I know…  Ha. Ha. Very funny.  Not.

Finally, we had a turn approaching and the voice from the back seat declared “We’re going to turn east.”  I thought then I would just test my theory about my son’s directional competency and so I asked him, “How do you know that?” and he replied, pointing out the window, “Because my school is over there; see EAST!” 

“Okay,” I said.  “Is that right or left?” I asked him.

“Right!” he said.  And he was correct, he was pointing to the right.

Except… right wasn’t east.  On that point he was wrong.  And backing down our driveway isn’t south.  But he’s only 5.  I think this method of learning about direction is just fine for right now.  My husband tends to disagree and thinks I should correct Snags, tell him the actual direction we are traveling.  But understanding that takes more skill than I think a five year old possesses.  It requires the ability to read a map for one.  It requires the ability to READ as another. 

Besides, even possessing those very important skills of literacy and map reading, my husband still manages to get us lost when he’s driving somewhere.

So for now anyway, I’m content to keep on heading north.  You know, as long as I can turn once in a while.

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Filed under direction, driving, geography, humor, life, maps

Little Slice of Hell

So here’s a little slice of hell.  Our air conditioner is broken down and it’s 98’ out with a heat index of 105’.  Minus the visible flames licking at my heels, I’m sure this is the full on heat of hell and I vow here on out to live a better life if only to avoid having to spend eternity in that great inferno. I mean, I’ve only been dripping sweat miserable in this for about a day, but I already can’t stand it.

My husband discovered the problem with our air conditioner late yesterday afternoon.  I guess he thought the house felt too warm and he went outside to check the unit.  He came back in saying the little red light was on indicating that the power company had assumed control of the unit, cycling it off to conserve energy in a period of peak demand.  But that didn’t sound right to me.  Peak demand?  Up until about 3:00 yesterday afternoon we’d had rain and clouds for an entire week.  Temperatures most days hadn’t made their way out of the 60s.  So how there could be such a huge demand causing the electric company to turn off our air conditioner was beyond me.  I could understand if temperatures had been high for days on end, but not when they’d only been elevated for some three hours.

I urged my husband to call the power company.  He did and came back to report that they had not, in fact, turned anyone’s AC unit off, not even ours.  And they were not experiencing a peak demand.

So it was our problem.  The utility company wouldn’t be turning our AC back on because they weren’t the ones who had turned it off.  Next, my husband shut the whole unit off and then back on from the thermostat inside the house.  Maybe it would work then, like how you sometimes have to shut the #%$&%@! computer off and turn it back on again to get it to work right.

But that didn’t help at all.  My husband came back in and shut the AC down for the evening.  He said that when he’d restarted it, the unit outside was making a horrible grinding noise and it was blowing hot air from its sides.  Worried it would get hotter and hotter and hotter until it would self combust, we had to leave it off.  He called the service company who said they would come out and take a look sometime after noon today.  When it’s supposed to be even hotter outside.  The thought alone was enough to get me all hot and bothered.  But not in an Ellen Barkin – Dennis Quaid Big Easy kind of way.  More like a red faced and sweaty after a 13 mile run, and pissed off that the air conditioner isn’t working bothered kind of way.  Not sexy at all, that.

As the sun set, we opened windows around the house.  A hot breeze, we thought, might be better than no breeze at all.  No?  I’d say it was a draw except for the animal outside that was croaking-chirping in the backyard.  Was it a frog?  Was it a bird?  It wasn’t Superman, that’s for sure.  Whatever it was, it croak-chirped outside the bedroom window all night long while the ceiling fan swirled hot and humid air around the room.   I imagined this must be what it feels like to sleep in a rain forest.  The carpeting in our hallway felt damp.

The service guy showed up at 4:00 in the afternoon today and determined that our air conditioner’s fan had burnt up.  As luck would have it, he doesn’t carry fans on his truck. He also declined to rig up our table top fan to work the AC for us.  I thought that would be a good stop-gap measure but apparently service guy is just a mean and lazy bastard.  He insisted that he has to order the part and it should be in Monday, maybe Tuesday.  Which means they can install it on Tuesday, maybe Wednesday.

Now we’ve got the shades drawn, the lights off, and fans circulating wherever we can.  We’ve spent the better part of the day in the basement where it’s at least 5 degrees cooler than anywhere else in the house.  But I’m not sure how much longer we can stay here.  The chocolate in my cupboards is melting, which means it’s officially time to do something.  First, I think I’ll eat the chocolate.  Then, I think I’ll take a look at the list I made last night.  The list of places I know of that do have air conditioning:  the mall, the bookstore, the frozen food section of the grocery store, the video arcade, the movie theater, friends and relative’s houses, the interior of my car until it runs out of gas…  We might pack up and go to one of them.  Any place cooler than this house will be a little slice of Heaven.

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Filed under air conditioner, heat, hell, hot, humor, life

The Most Magical Place on Earth

“Really?  A whole week at Disney World?  Are you sure? I mean, what will we DO there for a whole entire week?” I asked.

But my husband was sure this was a good idea.  Our first official family vacation, just the three of us, where we would go someplace where we weren’t simply visiting family, should be to Disney World in Florida.  After all, Snags was five, a good age for this kind of thing.

I conceded, but I still wasn’t sure I actually agreed.  It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Disney World, it’s just that well, when I was a kid, Disney World meant the Magic Kingdom and we could do that in a day.  And we did.  Nearly every summer from the time I was born until I was in my early teens, my family piled in the car and we drove to Florida for our summer vacation.  We had family there, a grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins.  And some of them lived in Orlando.  And some of them worked at Disney World.  One of my cousins was Pinocchio! Well, she wore the Pinocchio costume.  She wasn’t made out of wood or anything. 

So every year, we went to Florida to visit the relatives and we’d take one day and go to Disney.  To the Magic Kingdom.  Because at that point in time, there wasn’t anything else.  There was Sea World, but that’s not Disney. Epcot, MGM, and the Animal Kingdom, they didn’t exist yet.  So I was used to seeing Disney in a single fun filled day, but I had trouble comprehending how we could spend an entire week there.

Still we purchased the tickets.  Way ahead of time — we had almost an entire year to plan our trip.  Getting there would be the easy part.  We’d take the Auto Train!  Because who doesn’t like trains?  Yes, it was more expensive than flying, but it would be an adventure, right?  I’ve flown before, too many times to count. It’s boring. All that waiting around in the airport, and then the delays and flight cancellations, and getting frisked at the security checks. Been there, done that.  What I hadn’t ever done before was take a long train ride.  I’d ridden the subway before, but I had a feeling that just wasn’t the same.  So we’d board the Auto Train in the afternoon, sleep peacefully in our little compartment over night and when we awoke the next morning, we’d be in Florida.  And we’d have our own car with us!   

Our car was key.  My son has food allergies so we don’t travel lightly.  We carry boxes of food with us, and because my son is also five, we carry the requisite entertainment items:  portable DVD player and movies, books, markers, drawing pads, toys, favorite pillow and blanket, etc…  In other words, enough baggage to weigh down a plane so its underbelly can’t raise more than an inch off the ground.  Something I imagine other airline passengers wouldn’t like very much – driving a plane along the highway to Florida…

In planning our trip we also purchased the dining plan.  It allowed for more than enough food for each person each day, but I needed to arrange our meals.  My friend, a travel agent who specializes in all things Disney, suggested I make all of our dining reservations six months in advance, because you can.  Only, I couldn’t.  With my son’s food allergies we don’t eat out.  The thought of letting someone else prepare my son’s meals, of putting my son’s life in the hands of a stranger, it paralyzed me.  I kept promising my husband that I’d do something about the dinner reservations, and then I kept putting it off, even though I had only ever heard great and wonderful things about how Disney handles food allergies.  In a word, I was terrified.

With about six weeks to go I finally got up my nerve, called Disney’s dining number, and got us all set with reservations.  We were officially on their records as a family with allergies.  At each restaurant the chef would come to our table and meet with us, tell us what they could safely prepare.  I was encouraged, but still, I packed some food to take with us.  I had to bring allergen free food for my son to eat on the train, and then I needed to pack extra food in case I chickened out at dinner.  I packed enough food to get by for at least a few days.  We could always go to a grocery store if we ran out.  We had our car with us, after all.

The Auto Train WAS an adventure.  As we lined up on the platform to board the train, an old woman positioned herself in front of the train’s door, determined that she would be the first to board.  At first glance, other than the fact that she seemed to be in an awful hurry, she looked harmless enough.  But it wasn’t long before she revealed herself to be the crabbiest witch in the land.  Any time my son whispered or even blinked, as we stood out there on the platform she’d turn toward him and say “Shhhhh!” very fast and very loud, like an angry hissing snake about to attack.  My husband and I looked at each other in surprise and disbelief, and then in dread as we boarded the train and found that her sleeping compartment was next door to ours! 

Old Crabby rang the porter every ten minutes the entire way to Florida.  I am not exaggerating when I say she did this all night long.  I know this because I heard her, and I heard her because it is hard to sleep on the Auto Train.  Around midnight, Old Crabby rang the porter and kept pushing the call button even as he appeared in front of her.  She didn’t stop, even as he stood there and said, “Ma’am!  Please stop ringing the button, I am right here!”

Ring…ring…ring…

I listened to all of this though closed eyes as I pondered how I had thought the ride would be smooth, not unlike a ride on the subway.  I envisioned a peaceful night’s sleep where we would wake in the morning fully refreshed and not even an hour from our destination. Travel while you sleep, leave your worries behind…  But oh, how wrong I was!

It turns out that the Auto Train rides on freight rails because well, all the autos it’s carrying are freight.  Therefore, the ride is not exactly as smooth and light as I’d imagined it would be.  It’s rickety, crickety, loud, and screechy and the train shakes, at times, rather violently from side to side.  Neither the wine I drank at dinner nor the Benadryl I downed in desperation in the middle of the night helped to lure me into sleep. At one point, the ride was so violent I was certain we’d left the tracks and were hurtling through the woods to our death.  You can imagine my surprise then, when I opened my eyes a few hours later to find it was morning and that we had survived the great train derailment that never was.  We’d made it to Florida!

And Disney!  Well that is a magical place!  They don’t lie about that.  But my son had never actually shown an interest in anything Disney prior to our trip.  Not even once.  We borrowed and read travel books about Disney from the library, we watched a DVD on loan from a friend.  My husband and I started to get more and more excited.  But Snags, he didn’t seem to care one way or another.  And as we walked about the Magic Kingdom that first day he looked around a bit and smiled as he rode a few rides, but he didn’t seem terribly impressed.  He complained about having to wait in line!

That’s when I started to get irritated.  Where was his excitement?  We’d come all this way for complaining?  We’d spent thousands of dollars and endured Old Crabby and the shaky train for this? And we had to stay an entire week?  What had we gotten ourselves into? I wondered.

Later though, near the end of that first day, as we were heading to dinner, my son turned and saw all the Disney characters on stage at Cinderella’s castle. And that’s when the magic hit him.  He screamed at the top of his five year old lungs, “MICKEY!  MICKEEEEY! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU ALL DAY!”  Had he been looking for Mickey?  How odd.  He’d never mentioned it. Yet if excitement was a firecracker, my son’s head was exploding right there.  Maybe, I thought, this would all turn out okay after all.  Then again, we still needed to eat dinner…  Dinner that someone else had prepared.  For my son with life threatening food allergies.  

I held my breath through dinner and tried to hold back tears as I watched my son eat his first restaurant meal ever.  Was his meal actually free of milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts?  The chef assured us that it was.  But if he was wrong, we’d likely spend the rest of our vacation in the hospital. I insisted that my husband try the Tofutti sundae the chef brought my son for dessert. “Taste his dessert!” I hissed. “Make sure it’s safe for him to eat!” Tofutti, a soy based “ice cream” looks exactly like vanilla ice cream and it tastes so much like it that I have trouble telling the difference.  My husband though, he can tell the difference if he tastes it.  So he did.  And it was fine and my son was thrilled.  Not only did he get to eat prime rib for dinner, he got a giant sundae too!  And because it was a character meal, he got his picture taken with the characters and he got autographs from Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore,  and best of all, from Mickey Mouse himself!

As our second morning in Disney World dawned my son turned to me and said “Mom, I thought this was going to be a BORING vacation, but I’m having fun!” 

And the week I had been so worried about?  It flew by but it was MAGICAL!

*************************************************************

This post was written for the Family Vacation Group Writing Project over at Babylune.

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Filed under Disney, food allergies, GWp, life, Mickey Mouse, vacation

Glad I Could Be of Service

I don’t know how many people realize this, but my little blog here, like nearly all blogs, I suspect, has something called a “dashboard.”  It’s a behind-the-scenes tool through which I manage this place.  It’s through the dashboard that I access my page and write my posts and respond to comments.

And like the dashboard in a car, my blog’s dashboard has some instruments that give me feed back.  I have stats! About my blog!  Almost as if I had a crystal ball, I can tell how many people visited my blog on any particular day, and I can see what site referred them to me, meaning, where someone clicked on a link that brought them here. 

But no need to panic.  My dashboard is a bit dusty, my crystal ball a bit murky.  I can’t tell who exactly these people are.  I can only get a general idea.  In other words, it’s like walking around without my glasses.  I can tell it’s a body, I just can’t make out the faces or read the name tags. 

I can, however, tell you that over a 30 day period the following posts here were the most popular: The Unfunny Files led the group and Okay Listen Up came in second place.  That means these two particular posts were viewed by the most people. 

You see, the feed back you get from a blog’s dashboard is not unlike the speedometer on your car.  It tells you how you are doing.

Probably the best feature on the dashboard, or at least the one I find most fascinating, is the tool that tells me what search engine terms people used to find me.  Because that’s where it gets interesting.  Or scary.  Or funny.  Depending on your perspective.

I’ve been watching my search engine list and decided it was time to share some of these with you.  In doing so, I thought I might be able to provide additional, um… guidance, to those people who found their way here via the search engines.  I try to be helpful like that.  So without further ado…

I’ve had nearly a dozen people find me by searching on terms like:
carmex bad for you?; lips feel like sandpaper; why Blistex is bad; Blistex addict;
lip smakers addiction; and my personal favorite blistex DCT+the truth, as if Blistex has a big conspiracy going and the truth about it can be found on the internet.  Or here, at my site. 

I’m heartened by the fact that I am not the only one with a lip balm addiction.  If you have found me by searching the internet for information about your own lip balm addiction, I point you here, and tell you that your problem is most likely related to the phenol (also known as carbolic acid) in your lip balm.  It’s drying.  That’s why you need to keep applying the stuff, why you can’t live without it.  I did not make this up. I read it in the 1997 issue of Self Magazine.  I have the little article, ripped from the magazine, at my house.  If you really need to see it you can email me and I will scan it and email it to you.  As a public service.  To save your lips.

Over half a dozen people found my site because they have apparent problems with their feet.  Queries on lost toenails from running; treat lost toenail; whole toenail black injury will it grow, are just a few. I am not a doctor.  But, if you are a runner and you have lost a toenail, or if you’ve dropped a hammer on your toe and the nail has turned black, then let me tell you that yes, in my experience it will grow back.  It could take six months to a year for it to do so.  Just so you know.  Also, for the person searching on treat lost toenail if you are still hanging around, I suggest you let the lost toenail go.  There is nothing to do about it, once it’s lost you can’t treat it.  Focus your energy on the remaining part of the toe that’s still there.

I am sorry to say that I cannot help the person who searched on pain in foot after car ran over it except to say that Ouch! I bet that hurts!  If it happened to me I would probably cry and curse loudly, take some Advil, ice it up, and see the doctor.  Maybe I’d get some x-rays.  And a lawyer.

Then there’s the bunch of folks who got here by searching on guy ran over foot with lawn mower; man runs over foot with lawn mower; and mower cut off toe.  If you are simply mocking my husband, that’s ha! ha! ha! ha! um… not funny!  I am the only person allowed to do that.  But if you’ve suffered a real accident, whoever you are, I do hope that you got yourself to an emergency room tout de suite.  And by the way, that is French for immediately.  Don’t waste time googling it.  If you ran over your foot with the lawnmower, Go!  Go now!  Get to the emergency room!  Google will not tell you how to stitch yourself up.  Lawn mower cut patterns are very individual you see, and Google cannot hope to tell you all the possible ways to suture your particular injury.  You need a doctor for that.  Are you still actually reading this?  Go!

Okay, now that the bloody stump guys are out of here, let’s talk about the people who are searching for the proper thing to wear under their skirts.  I suggest a slip and a pair of underwear.  You don’t want to get caught on film like Britney, do you? 

To the person who searched for actresses wearing bunny tails:  You are at the wrong place.  Sorry.  Try again.

For the person who searched on Why three year olds don’t like to wipe their own butt, I imagine they don’t like to wipe themselves for the very same reason you want them to wipe themselves.  Poop is gross and it smells bad.

Finally, to the few of you who searched on husband doesn’t acknowledge birthday and husband doesn’t buy me birthday presents, send the cheap bastard here.  I’ll tell him off for you.  And if that doesn’t help, then I suggest you buy yourself a big expensive bling bling kind of gift and tell him to go to hell when he complains about the credit card bill.  My husband buys me gifts, he just doesn’t like my favorite kind of pizza.
 

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Filed under blogging, blogs, dashboard, google, humor, internet, search engine terms

Turn the Lights Down

My husband is coming back.  Any day now he’ll ask if he can return to our bed and I suppose I’ll sigh and have to relent. You know, since we’re married.  Hopefully I’ll have mentally prepared myself for this and will allow him back with only the slightest bit of irritation on my part.  And no, we didn’t have a fight.  I didn’t kick him from our room or send him to the couch in the midst of yelling and tears or the slam of a door. 

He ran over his foot with the lawnmower, and we I thought it best, while his toe was precariously held together with string stitched up and supposed to be healing, that he sleep in the spare room where he could prop his foot up on a ton of pillows and sleep without bumping his toe against me in the middle of the night and having it all fall apart and staining the sheets (because, YUCK!).  And also, the spare room would spare him the risk of the dog jumping on the bed and perhaps landing smack on top of the doctor’s delicate needlework.

My husband’s stitches were removed a week ago, and although the toe still looks rather ghoulish, all black and scabby with miniature Frankenstein-like scars crisscrossing its tip, it’s healing nicely enough and I suspect he’ll soon be ready to come back to our bed and sleep with me and the dog once again.

But I’m feeling a bit conflicted by this. Because, while I love the man, I sleep better alone.  It’s no secret, the fact that I prefer to sleep alone.  And my husband knows this.  That’s just the way I am and I’ve more or less always been this way.

I’m not the cuddly type, at least, not at night.  When it’s time to sleep I don’t anyone or anything touching me.  Sheets and blankets are okay.  Human hands and feet or dogs with wet noses, hot breath, and fur are not.  I could never be one of those couples who “spoon” in their sleep.  The very idea makes me want to whip out a dagger and scream “BACK OFF!  Get out of my personal bed space!”

I’m not sure why I’m like this.  Maybe it’s because, years ago, I overheard some of my college roommates discussing how the person sleeping on the top bunk would be stuck breathing in the germy exhalations of the person sleeping in the bottom bunk.  Because breath is hot and hot air rises.  And that idea planted itself firmly in my head and I cannot get it out. Or maybe it stems from riding in the back seat of the car with my brother on family vacations where we each had one-half of the seat for the ride.  Do not cross this green vinyl seam, not even one pinky finger over or… “Mom!  He’s on MY side again!”

And so this bed of ours, we’ve got sides.  I sleep on my left side facing outward, off the edge of the bed, where the air is fresh.  My husband sleeps on the other side, all stretched out with five or twenty pillows and the remote control to the T.V. and a book or the Nintendo DS I confiscated from Snags because of bad behavior and then I’m all “I’m trying to sleep here!  Can’t you turn that shit off already and go to bed?  It’s almost 11:00! And why can’t you sleep like a normal person with one pillow?  Why do you need six pillows tonight?  There’s no room in this bed!  And move the dog over to your side!”

I had a cat once who liked to crawl under my bed covers and curl herself up against my stomach, probably for warmth.  But I couldn’t sleep like that, because with every intake of breath my stomach would touch the cat, then when I’d exhale, there’d be a space between us.  Bump, space, bump, space, bump space until I started taking shallower and shallower breaths, trying not to bump the cat at all, and then I’d be low on oxygen and suffocating right there in my own room surrounded by fresh air I couldn’t inhale because it would make my stomach bump the damn cat. 

And now, years later, if anything touches me while I am trying to sleep, I start to breath funny and feel like I am going to suffocate.  And if my husband and I happen to both roll over and face each other on the bed, I can’t breathe because I’d be breathing in his exhalations, which I was warned against back in college.

So there’s that you see, and then there’s the fact that I treasure sleep.  I can’t get enough of it.  When I was a freshman in college I had this one roommate who was some kind of vampire.  She’d sleep all day and then stay up and read all night with the help of a lamp clipped to the headboard of her bed, and the light shone across the room directly into my eyes where I was trying to sleep, like a normal person does at night.  I lost an entire year of sleep right there.

Once I got married, I started waking up whenever my husband blinked or twitched or rolled over or snored. And he seems to do this all night long. I also wake up the very second that he steals all the covers, which is also, ALL.THE.TIME.  So it’s always something.

Then, eight years into our marriage my son was born and in the first 6 months of his life alone I lost what seems like 20 years worth of sleep. So now I am desperately trying to catch up on all that I’ve lost.

I’m sure as a mom I’ve had it easier than some.  When I got pregnant I paid close attention to my friends who already had children.  I watched their weary faces as I listened to their tales of woe about how their children would not sleep or would sleep but only in their bed, not in the crib or the beautiful teak toddler bed so lovingly purchased for them.  One friend gave up and placed a sleeping bag on her floor and let her son sleep there.  As he got older and she and her husband decided they wanted to try for another child, she came up with a schedule to move the sleeping bag 6 inches every night until it was near her bedroom door, then in the hall, then back into the child’s own room and she and her husband could claim their bed for themselves once again.

That’s CRAZY, I thought.  No way, no how, not in my house, NEVER.  And so from the start I put my son to sleep in a bassinette beside our bed and then after 2 weeks moved him to his crib.  My rule has always been that everyone sleeps in their own room.  My son is not allowed to sleep in our bed, though he asks.  Sometimes he is so cute I am tempted to cave.  But I know one night would be all it would take for him to request a second, then a third, then eternity.

So my son sleeps in his own bed and on rare occasions, as a treat, he gets to sleep in the spare room which has a queen size bed in it.  On these nights we’ll have a special adventure where either I or Snags’ father will sleep with him in the spare room.  And it’s rough.  Snags you see, moves around at night as if he’s fighting off demons.  So first I have to warn him 350 times that he has to lie still and go to sleep and STOP WIGGLING or he’ll have to go back to his own bed.  And then once he does drift off, he starts to move.  Sometimes he quite suddenly sits up and mutters something in the foreign language of those deep in slumber.  But mostly he kicks.  And so I lie there, perched precariously at the far edge of the bed trying to keep my back out of reach of his kicking feet and flailing limbs.  But sometimes I’m unsuccessful and wake with a start from a sucker punch to my kidneys.  In the morning I tell Snags it will be a long time before we do that again and I count my bruises. 

Now Snags wants to go camping.  I don’t think I’ll manage it well, being stuck in a small tent with a husband who snores and a small child who kicks.  I imagine it will be like sleeping in a cage with an angry bear.  And once we get home, my husband will probably decide his toe has healed enough to risk bumping it against me or the dog in the middle of the night. 

It will be okay, I tell myself.  It’s only been a few weeks.  I’ll get used to sleeping with a person again.  But secretly, I wish these were the days of I Love Lucy, where Lucy and Ricky had separate beds but in the same room.  And the dog would sleep with my husband.

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Filed under sleep

Use The Force, Luke!

My son, Snags, has been watching a lot of Star Wars lately.  He’s totally enthralled by it.  So much so, that he’s been sucked in, and he’s changed his own identity.  He calls himself Luke Skywalker now.  And if I want to get his attention, I have to call him that too. 

This is not the first time he’s changed his name.  Over his short life he’s been Eddie, Bob the Builder, Diego, Willy Wonka, Fred Jones, The Beast, and Peter Pan, to name just a few. 

The first time he changed his name publicly, Snags was three years old and we were out for a walk around our neighborhood.  Snags ran up to an elderly couple in their driveway.  “Hello!  What’s your name?” they asked him.  “Diego!” he lied. 

Diego?  Diego?  My husband and I just looked at each other.  Diego wasn’t his name.  What were we supposed to do?  But before we could do anything they pointed at our dog.  “And what’s your dog’s name?” they asked him.  “Kutchee!” he lied again.

My husband and I were shocked.  We didn’t know what to do.  And we didn’t know the elderly couple.  On one hand we didn’t think lying was appropriate, on the other hand, they were strangers.  So instead of telling them, “Oh, he’s just kidding!  His name isn’t Diego.  It’s Snags…” we simply gathered Snags up and wished the couple a nice evening.  Once we were a few blocks away we asked Snags why he had told the couple his name was Diego.  But he wouldn’t answer.

Not long after that he told the librarian that his name was Peter Pan.  I’m pretty sure she knew he was lying, but she was kind.  She helped him find the book he was looking for anyway. 

After a while, getting dressed in the mornings became difficult.  He needed a tool belt, or a field journal, a “W” brooch to wear on his collar, an entire outfit of the color green, or a white shirt with a blue collar and blue pants to look like Fred.  White shirts aren’t a good choice for young boys who seem to think “shirt” is another word for “napkin”.

Each time my son would change his identity he’d insist that everyone address him by his new name.  Even his teachers.  We’d walk into preschool and the director would say hello and he’d ignore her.  “That’s funny!” He’d whisper to me.  “She doesn’t know my new name, does she?” he’d ask with a sly smile playing on his lips.

On his school papers he’d write his new name: Willy Wonka, he’d print.  The letters would be large and shaky and ill-formed and often backwards.  The alphabet of a child just learning how to write.  Eventually his teachers would concede, and while I never knew if they actually called him by his new name, his cubby would be re-labeled.  “Snags” would be replaced with a plastic label on which “Willy Wonka” was neatly punched out.

Sometimes my son would change his identity after only a day.  Like he was changing his underwear.  Other times it would be weeks, or even months before he’d turn into someone new.  Eventually another television show or movie would catch his fancy and he’d trade the old identity in for another, and we’d start all over.

At various times he’d think about his future and map it all out.  “When I get married,” he’d tell me, “I’m going to have 10 children.  Their names will be: Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, John, Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Tinkerbell, and “Alltheotherpirates”.  And I’d listen to that and count them out on my fingers.  That’s only eight children,” I felt compelled to correct him.  But then I’d think how, maybe it was okay because if you actually had 10 children, you might forget a few of their names.

I imagine Peter Pan, Wendy, Michael, and John would have it somewhat easy.  Peter could claim Pan as a middle name and simply go by Peter.   Wendy, Michael, and John are all nice, normal names.  Probably many of their friends and classmates will share the same first name.

But the others, I feel for.  I really do.  Captain Hook?  Even if the poor fellow uses Hook as his middle name, Captain as a first name sounds a little pretentious.  Or pet-like. “And this is my new cat, Captain.”  And how about Tinkerbell?.  Let’s hope he gives that name to one of his girls.  She’ll be teased enough with that name, but if Snags’ Luke Skywalker’s wife should bear only one female child, and they name her Wendy, then one of the seven boys is going to be beaten up at the playground on a daily basis.

And Mr. Smee?   That, to me, sounds like the lad is in some pretty big trouble.  Like when your mother or father calls you by your full name.  You just know you’re in for it.  You’ve gotten caught at something you’ve done and now, when your parents add Mister to your name you’re officially in trouble. 

The one I worry about the most is Alltheotherpirates.  Even I want to tease the child and he or she isn’t even born yet.

Then again, Snags’ Luke’s done this before, planned his future family out.  Only he had other children with other names.  When he thought he was Willy Wonka he decided his children would be named Charlie Bucket, Mike Teevee, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, and Violet Beauregarde.  This was brought up daily for months.

“But what if your wife doesn’t like those names?” I asked him. 

“Oh, she will!” he insisted.  “She won’t have a choice.”

And I don’t understand that.  Because in this household, things are more or less split 50/50.  I couldn’t and wouldn’t abide by a 1950′s traditional household where June Cleaver does all the cooking and cleaning and laundry and the man comes home after work and pours himself a drink and puts his feet up.  In my house, my husband often gets home from work before me and he unloads the dishwasher and starts dinner.  I admit I’d prefer that he have my Mojito all ready for me when I walk in the door, but he rarely does.  And that’s okay.  I understand he’s already got his hands full and he can’t take time out to make my drink because he’s busy with the Filet Mignon.  He knows I’d be mad if he let it burn…  So why Snags Luke Skywalker thinks he can dictate the number or names of the children he and his future wife will have, is beyond me.  He’s not learning that attitude here.
 
All I can think is he’s planning to use The Force upon his wife.  Perhaps then she’ll bend to his will.  Maybe with The Force he can mold her mind to not only agree with having ten children, but also with giving them the crazy names of his favorite movie characters. 

He demonstrated this to me just the other day.  I was at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast when Luke told me to close my eyes and “keep them closed until I tell you to open them.”  When I did open them, the kitchen light was on, where it had been off just a moment before.  It was also swinging on its chain. 

I was surprised.  I thought perhaps there was some kind of electrical surge, but Luke admitted that HE had actually turned on the light and set it swinging by using The Force!  When I feigned shock at his ability, he thought it uproariously funny and so he spent the next half hour flipping lights off and on and poking the hanging lamp with his plastic light saber, all the while insisting he was doing it with The Force.

When I told him to turn the lights and leave them out out so we could save some money on our electric bill, he obliged but moved the game along to transporting things, both needed and unneeded, to me.  Again, he used The Force to do this.  I had to close my eyes as he brought my book (needed), a jar of spaghetti sauce (unneeded), and a can of Diet Coke (morning caffeine fix, very much needed) to me where I was still sitting at the table.

Eventually I tired of the game and got what I thought was the greatest idea any mother ever had.  I suggested he use The Force to clean up his toys.  He looked at me.  Then he said, “I can’t.  The Force doesn’t work for that.  I’ve turned that program off.”  And he turned his back and walked away.  As I watched him retreat I thought, “Oh yeah, we’ll see what your wife thinks about that, Mr. Luke Skywalker!”

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Filed under children, identity, imagination, Luke Skywalker, Snags, Star Wars, The Force

Hell on Wheels

If you can believe Wikipedia, the term “Hell on Wheels” was “…used to describe the itinerant collection of flimsily assembled gambling houses, dance halls, saloons, and brothels that sprung up as Union Pacific railroad workers… constructed the American transcontinental railroad back in the 1860s.”  I am not sure I believe this.  I think the term was coined by a mother like me who got roped into chaperoning a preschool class on a trip to a roller skating rink. 

And take my advice, if you too get roped into something like this, by all means bring your video camera.  I wish I had remembered to bring mine.

I could have, and probably should have, driven my son to the roller rink myself, in my own car and with relative peace and quiet, but it turned out that one of the preschool vans (we needed three vans to transport all of the children) had an extra seat available and my son wanted us to “ride with his friends.”  The extra seat turned out to be the one spot where only an adult could sit because the teachers couldn’t put a booster seat there as the seatbelt in that spot was broken.  And that wouldn’t be safe for a child, but the teachers thought it was perfectly fine for a grown up like me.  Although my son was certain we should ride in the van he wasn’t entirely convinced of the safety of me being without a seatbelt and insisted on holding my hand the entire way there.  If we crashed, he was going to hold me in place.  I imagine his reasoning was not unlike that of my mother’s long ago and how she used to throw her arm out across my chest when she was driving and had to slam on the brakes.  When I was a kid, mothers’ arms were the precursor to today’s air bags and my mom’s right arm kept me, (yes I was sitting in the front seat, but hey, we didn’t know any better back then) from hitting the windshield when she had to brake suddenly.  Or at least it did most of the time.  And so I found myself relying upon my son to keep me secure and in place if the van crashed and rolled.  But luckily, it didn’t.

Have you ever ridden in a van with 13 five year olds?  Thirteen 5 year olds who won’t shut up?  (“Awwww,” I can hear my son saying. “You said shut up.  That’s a bad word…”)

Preschool has a system for this.  The kids in the van are allowed to talk for five minutes to get the talking “out of their system,” then the teacher (in this case, Ms. K!) who is driving the van, turns on the radio.  When the music plays, the kids are supposed to “make a bubble” which is code for “shut your mouth.”  Only on this particular day, the kids weren’t exactly following this rule, and the teacher wasn’t exactly enforcing it.  And I didn’t have any Tylenol or earplugs with me.

If you haven’t enjoyed suffered the privilege of riding in a van with 13 children at once, I will tell you it was like traveling back in time to witness a dozen times over the bickering of my brother and I in our youth as we sat fought in the back seat of the car for 17 hours straight on our summer vacations to Florida. 

Conversations in the van swirled in the air like smoky complaints and accusations (because they were) and they sounded like this:

“Ms. K! Derek touched me!”
“I did not!” 
“Yes you did!”
“Ms. K!  Victoria is looking out the back window!  She’s not looking forward!”
“Stop!”
“No, you stop!”
“Hey Snags’ Mom! Josh stuck his tongue out at me!”
“I said stop it!”
“Ms. K! Jenny is looking at me!”
“Snags’ Mom!  Paul put his shoe on me!”
“Ouch!”
“Ms. K! Victoria poked me!”
“Did not!  Did so!”
“Ow! Stop!”
“Stop touching me!”

But unlike my parents all those years ago, Ms. K! did not threaten to turn the van around and go back home.  She just kept sighing and driving while I sat hostage in the broken seat belt spot half hoping the van would roll so I could be thrown out a window to somewhere quiet.

Eventually, even the children got tired of their bickering and they decided to play a rousing game called “Yellow Car” of which the sole object was to scream “YELLOW CAR!” any time they spotted a yellow car.  And here I’d just like to say “Thank you, Jesus!” and “Praise the Lord!” to all of the car makers who rightly decided yellow wasn’t that great a color for cars and for only making a few of them at best.  But woe to you Ford with your Mustangs…  This could be worse, I kept telling myself.  We could be playing “blue car” or “red car” or simply “CAR!”

Somewhere in the middle of Yellow Car the children got bored and decided the road was hilly enough to remind them of roller coasters and all at once (as a collective!) they all threw their hands into the air and yelled “Hands Up!” before leaning rapidly and swaying violently from side to side, as if attempting to tip the van.  Then, as the road began a descent they’d scream, “Hands Down!” and put their hands down.  Only this, in my mind, was reverse of what you might actually do on a roller coaster. I thought anyone who’d actually been on a roller coaster would keep their hands up on the descent, because that’s where the thrill is.  But I didn’t argue the point because I was starting to feel a bit sick from the small space and the yelling and the hands flying everywhere. 

After what seemed like years off my life, but was probably only 30 minutes or so, we arrived at the skating rink.

As we entered the building each child was handed a little blue ticket, the kind of ticket you might be given at a carnival and that you’d turn over to the ride attendant as you got on the tilt-a-whirl, perhaps.  Immediately, the teacher took the tickets from the children and traded them (the tickets, not the children, but imagine how different this story would be if that were the case…) in for pairs of roller skates at the rental desk.  I stayed with the children and helped them put on their skates and tie their laces. 

Tying laces… whoever planned this field trip must have forgotten that five year olds today don’t know how to tie laces because they don’t wear shoes that have laces.  Their shoes have Velcro.  But roller skates don’t have Velcro.  They have laces.  And I had to tie them.  All um… let’s see… 3 vans with 13 kids each… that’s yes, 39 pairs of skates or 78 individual roller skates (one for each foot) to tie…  Make that 76.  Sydney brought her own skates.  She could work them herself, because they didn’t have laces.  They had buckles.

I went down the row and tied the laces.  And then the children stood up.

And then they fell down.

And then they stood up again and somehow maneuvered their way onto the rink.  Where they fell down…. again. SPLAT!  SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT! SPLAT!

It was surreal.  If I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn there was a sniper hiding behind one of the trashcans in the snack bar.  A sniper with rubber bullets, taking out each child, one by one as soon as they stepped off the carpeting and onto the smooth polished floor of the rink.  Because they ALL WENT DOWN.  Each and every one of them.  Except Sydney.  Her skates, the ones with the buckles, also had wheels that could be locked in one direction.  She could only march forward, but that was good because she didn’t fall.  It was like watching cartoon characters slip on a banana peel, over and over and over and over again. And again.

At one point I surveyed the rink and saw a sea of splayed bodies down for the count.  A few lone survivors, mostly teachers, myself, and Sydney, were left skating around the fallen.

Whose idea was this?  I wondered.  And why isn’t anybody filming this?  I should have brought my video camera.  At the very least, this scene, this giant accident of roller skating crashes needed to be investigated by Eye Team on our News at Eleven.  They needed to uncover the truth behind the trip.  Who was responsible? Shouldn’t someone have inquired if the children knew how to skate before turning them loose on a slippery floor without proper medical supervision?

But we were lucky.  There were a few scrapes, a few bruises, a few kisses and band aids needed, but nothing broken.  It could have been worse. I could have been on this trip with the senior citizens from the retirement home down the street.  There would have been broken hips with that crowd for sure.

But the preschoolers, they were pretty game.  They fell down or got knocked down or skated down and they got back up again and again.  It was like hanging out with Chumbawamba, except the only thing around to drink was bottled water.

And then there was my son. He, along with one or two other children, found it much easier to simply crawl around the rink on their hands and knees.  My son chased after Sydney this way.  It was pathetic. It was like watching a legless stalker drag himself thru the weeds after a pretty woman walking a dog.  “Get up!”  I told him whenever I skated past.  But he would have none of it.

After a time, Sydney took pity on him.  She offered to teach him how to skate.  And somehow she’d managed to retain her blue ticket, probably because she brought her own skates.  She told my son if he did as she instructed and learned to skate, she’d give him the blue ticket.  She convinced him the ticket had value.  It was, she told him, a ticket that would enable him to play the video games in the rink’s arcade.  And ALL the children wanted to play the video games.  Only none of them had quarters.  Many of them took to moping and frowning.  They couldn’t skate well, and now they couldn’t play video games either.  But for Snags, there was the promise of Sydney and that blue ticket…

So my son bravely stood up and readied himself for Sydney’s skating lessons.  From what I could tell, the lessons required that Snags follow Sydney around the carpeted area that surrounded the rink floor and then across the slick divide of linoleum by the snack bar before the carpeting began again. 

“Help me, mom!” Snags cried.  “Sydney said I have to do this FIVE times before she’ll give me the ticket. I’m tired!” 

“So stop,” I said.

“Can’t.  Must. Have. That. Ticket!” he spluttered, somewhat out of breath as he desperately tried to keep up with his instructor.

I tried to convince him that he didn’t need the ticket, that it was not the key to the video games, and that he needed quarters for those, but he wouldn’t listen.

After their third time around like this, Sydney marched up to me and announced, pointedly, “He’s a Level One!” and then, over her shoulder to Snags she demanded, “Come ON!”

Another child on the field trip thought it important to come and tell me whenever a song had a dirty word in it.  Hollaback Girl he told me, had a “bad word with the letter H in it.”  He claimed to know all of the bad words in each song that played through the rink’s sound system, but he said he wasn’t going to tell me what they were.  I guess he didn’t want to get in trouble.  “Sometimes they beep the word out,” he explained.  “And sometimes,” he continued “my dad sings the bad words in the car when they play the songs on the radio.  That’s how I know what all the bad words are.”

We spent four hours at the rink during which time I too learned all the songs that had bad words in them.  Those words came in handy later because I needed something to mutter under my breath when nearly all 39 children decided they needed to use the bathroom.  Have you ever helped a child who cannot skate, no let me clarify that, who cannot even stand on skates, make their way to the bathroom while they (and you) are wearing skates?  It’s not an easy task, and it’s not a pretty sight.  Especially the puddle of pee that covered the floor inside one stall of the ladies room.  I’m not sure how it got there.  But boys were using the ladies room too, so that might explain it.  I imagine more than a few of them rolled backwards while urinating.  I don’t really know.  I also don’t know why we didn’t think to have them remove their skates before using the bathroom.  Probably we didn’t want their socks to get wet with pee. 

What I do know is once the kids made their way out of the stalls I had to hold their hands and help them skate to the sinks and OMG! YUCK! YUCK! YUCK! I was touching hands of children who had just used the bathroom and most likely had peed upon themselves.  And it turned out there wasn’t any soap.  And only one sink worked, and on that, only the HOT water worked.  So the children cried about the hot water.  And then there weren’t any paper towels.  So I had dirty hot little wet pee germy hands on roller skates gripping my highly superior germ phobic hands as I helped navigate them out of the bathroom and back onto the carpeted floor so they could go back out onto the rink and fall down again.

In the end, Snags got that blue ticket.  He managed to complete his “skating lessons” per Sydney’s approval and she did as she had promised: she gave him the coveted ticket. It was wrinkled and wet and she handed it over along with a broken rubber band that I fear she might have found on the floor of the bathroom.  I shuddered to think that’s why the ticket was wet.  I have to say though, Snags was very proud of himself as he climbed into the van for the ride back to preschool.  And my hands were itching furiously with some kind of skating rink dirty bathroom germs.  But the return trip was quiet.  All 13 children fell blessedly asleep.  Until the van pulled into the preschool’s parking lot…   
 

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Filed under germ phobia, humor, life, preschooler's, roller skating

Where Superheroes Deign to Dine

How is YOUR eyesight?  Do you see with perfect 20/20 clarity?  Is that corrected or uncorrected?  Do you wear contacts or glasses?

Me?  I wear contacts, sometimes glasses.  But if you’ve read this then you already know that.  Without glasses my vision is something like 20/bringthatahellofalotcloserifyouexpectmetoseeit.  With contacts, I’ve got 20/20 vision.

That’s what my eye doctor’s records say anyway.  The truth… the truth is something they can’t record on paper because well, that would give me away and then when the government needs my extraordinary skills I’d be called up and put to work when all I really want is to be left alone to live my life in peace and sandwiches.  Subs, to be exact.

Because you see (no pun intended) I have Superhero X-ray eyes!  No, I can’t see through walls (unless they’re made of glass).  I can’t see through clothes (but if I could I’d hang around a bunch of good looking muscled firemen).  And I can’t see through skin (and who would want to look at skeletons all day anyway?  Well, okay, maybe a radiologist).  However, I CAN see through paper.  A very special kind of paper, the kind that Subway uses to wrap their subs in! 

“Bah!”  You say.  “Who cares?”  You ask. 

Well, it’s a VERY important and most useful ability.  In fact, I didn’t even know I had this ability until a few weeks ago.  But I’m honing it now, oh yes I am!

You see (there I go again, and really I don’t mean to rub it in), I went to Subway recently to get a sub for lunch.  This particular Subway draws a fairly large lunch crowd.  Often, the line snakes out the door and onto the sidewalk beyond.  Once inside, while still in line mind you, you shout your order to the sandwich maker guy (you know he’s the one because he’s got the letters S and M on the front of his shirt) and he gets the basics of bread and meat together.  Then you move up a bit and shout out the toppings you want, be it vegetables or condiments, and a lady with a hair net does your bidding.  Then the sandwiches are wrapped in the special sandwich wrap and shoved on down the counter near the register.

This is where it gets hairy and my Superhero X-ray vision must be activated.  The cash register lady doesn’t even look up at you.  Seriously, I could be Jared standing in front of her and she wouldn’t even notice.  She wouldn’t say “Jared! What a treat to have you here at my Subway franchise.  I see you’ve kept the weight off!  Do you want a Veggie sub?”  Oh, no she would not because, as I said, she doesn’t look at you.  Instead she points to a wrapped sub and asks in a bored monotone “What sandwich is this?” Seriously, that’s her job.  She stands there and repeats “What sandwich is this?  What sandwich is this?  What sandwich is this?” Until the last lunch buying person hands over their money and the crowd is gone. 

The first time she asked me this I was just about to say “How the hell should I know?  Do you think I can see through the wrapper? I don’t know what THAT sandwich is but I ordered an Italian Club…”  Only I didn’t actually say that.  I simply responded, “Italian Club” and it turned out I was right!  And that’s how I realized I had this fantabulous gift!  It’s funny in a way because I don’t even realize I’m doing it.  I don’t have a sudden vision or anything.  It’s not like I see the bread layered with meat and cheese and lettuce and tomatoes and mayonnaise and hots (that’s how I like my subs by the way, just in case you ever wanted to buy me lunch).  It’s more like a simple knowledge.  But really, how else could I have that knowledge unless I was actually looking through the wrapper?  And the cash register lady knows this!  She expects me to be able to see through the wrapper and give her an answer.  And so, when it’s my turn and I am asked “What sandwich is this?” that is exactly what I do.  I summon up my Superhero X-ray vision, look through the wrapper, and tell her what sandwich it is so she can enter the price accordingly. 

Also, I am not the only one with this incredible ability. Most of the people who come to this particular Subway have the same skill!  I think we all go there because it’s “just” a sandwich shop.  Villains wouldn’t expect to find us there, would they?  They probably assume (and you know what happens when you assume, right?) that because we are Superheroes that we’d be eating somewhere fancy.  Somewhere with sparkling silver, and clinking crystal, and linen napkins.  We should.  With powers like these we deserve to.  But we don’t.  We just grab a sandwich and pretend we’re normal folk.

Really though, at this particular Subway it’s like a lunchtime Superhero convention; it is!  Except when it’s not.  Because sometimes NORMAL people come in and get a sandwich. I know they are mere mortals with eyes that can’t see beyond what’s in front of them because they pay for their sandwich and leave only to return 5 minutes later complaining: “This is the WRONG sandwich!” because they ordered the Subway Tuna Club but got a Subway Roast Beef Club instead.  And that’s their own fault.  If they could see through the paper like I can, then that wouldn’t have happened.  Honestly, I don’t know why when asked “What sandwich is this?” they don’t just admit “Uh, I don’t know.  I can’t see through the wrapper.”  I guess they want to appear cool like the rest of us there, but the jig is totally up when they come back for an exchange. I mean, how embarrassing is that?  “Duh, I got the wrong sandwich. Duh…”  They could have saved themselves both time and trouble though if they’d just told the truth.  Obviously, I would have offered my services.  All they’d have to do is tell the truth, ask for my help, and buy me lunch.

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Filed under eyesight, humor, lunch, Subway, Superheroes

Slipping Away

There was a time, as recently as 2 months ago, when summer fun here meant shooting each other with water guns, and for my son Snags the water guns were simply a toy, a cool way to get each other wet.  He was never one of those children to bite his toast into the shape of a gun or cock his fingers into one while shouting “Bang! Bang!”  He had a cowboy hat and a sheriff’s badge but he rarely played with them.  When he did, he never bothered about a gun.   And unlike so many of his preschool friends, he wasn’t into acting out Power Rangers on the playground and didn’t watch them on T.V.  He didn’t really understand fighting, didn’t understand much about good versus evil.  Because at the age of five there just wasn’t that much evil to have to understand; the world was basically good.  But above all, he certainly didn’t know about igniters or bombs, explosions or lasers.

In fact, until just recently my son was into Disney movies, particularly animated ones where there was a sleeping princess somewhere needing to be saved and he could pretend he was the prince responsible for the saving.

I understood him then.  I understood that language.  I am a girl, after all.  I know about princesses and frilly dresses and pretty shoes and sparkling jewelry and prince charming and all that.  And while I may not be a princess, I can certainly play one on TV.  You know, like if you video tape me pretending to be a princess while playing with my son who has his favorite blanket safety pinned to his shoulders so it resembles a prince’s cape trailing behind him.

Now, I admit, I like these games best when I can be Sleeping Beauty after touching the spinning wheel or Snow White after biting the poison apple so I can just lie on the sofa and hope that maybe Snags will get bored after a time and start watching something on Nick Jr.  Because maybe then I can get a nap.  But it rarely works out that way.  Often I’m Belle and he’s the Beast, stomping through our castle and leaving messes in his wake, or worse, he’s Gaston, ripping the book I’m trying to read right out of my hand, knocking it into a puddle, and demanding that I pay attention only to him.

These games I knew.  I understood my role.  I could play them.  And later, after we’d played, I could follow his never ending commentary about them and participate in conversations with Snags who, firmly ensconced in his booster seat in the back of the car, would question me as I drove him to preschool:

“Are we in the same forest as yesterday?” he’d inquire.  “Because I don’t remember those trees being there yesterday.  I think this forest is growing!” he’d proclaim. 

“Oh no!”  I’d retort.  “We might have trouble finding the castle.  I hope we don’t run into that old hag with the apples again.” 

And because I could, and because even if I didn’t he would continue the game without me, I’d play along for the duration of our little trip.

But now… well, now it seems as if this magical innocence of the very young, the world of fairytale princes and happy endings, is slipping away. My prince charming has been lured away from me.  Another woman has captured his attention and his heart and helped to fill his mind with bigger, more sinister things like lasers guns and explosions and violence and heavy breathing.  The kind of heavy breathing that announces “Luke!  I am your father!” And the woman who has done all of this is Princess Leia.  To my chagrin, but to my husband’s utter delight, my five year old has discovered Star Wars.  I neither understand nor speak the language, Star Wars.  This is not my native tongue. 

It started out simply enough when Snags came upon my husband playing the Lego Star Wars game on his Xbox.  He sat down to join him and before long, the game was second nature to him.  Somewhere along the way Snags found the original Star Wars movie in our video collection and one Friday night he and his father sat down to watch it.

It might have ended there.  We might have returned to a world of princesses and castles and magical fairies but we didn’t.  We had to attend a wedding and while my husband and I were busy eating and dancing and looking for my grandmother’s hearing aid, my son was being entertained by his Uncle Darth Mikey.  Darth Mikey also likes Star Wars, and he was content to watch the movie with Snags again and again before taking him to a nearby field and teaching him all about model rocketry, something Darth Mikey has held an interest in since he was a mere child himself.

So when we went to retrieve Snags and relieve Uncle Darth Mikey on that fateful evening, the first thing Snags did when he saw us was to scream in the excited voice of Luke Skywalker, “GUESS WHAT!?  WE WATCHED STAR WARS AGAIN AND WE LAUNCHED ROCKETS AND UNCLE MIKEY GAVE ME MY OWN ROCKET AND WE JUST NEED TO GET SOME MORE ROCKET ENGINES AND IGNITERS AND THEN BOOM!  THE ROCKET WILL EXPLODE UP INTO THE AIR…”   

And that’s how quickly Snag’s innocence began slipping away.  He has been officially indoctrinated into the more violent world of boy things. 

Now he prefers to play Star Wars in the back yard using sticks for light sabers shooting out deadly laser beams.  The water guns are stand-ins for whatever kind of guns they use in the movie.  Soccer balls represent bombs that some character named Greedo can throw.  When I’m enlisted in the game, I’m assigned to play the part of Princess Leia, although I don’t care for her hairstyle or the jobs I’m given – mostly pulling invisible levers to open invisible doors while the boys do all the fighting, occasionally hitting me with their light sabers. 

I’ve found, in all of this, one small ray of hope left as far as innocence is concerned.  I’m clinging to it tightly, but I fear it’s a silken thread that will be easily broken.  Right now you see, my son refers to Darth Vader as “Dark Vater” and as we drive toward preschool he explains to me how Dark Vater kills people with his “life saver.”  I’m not eager to correct him.  These small inaccuracies show me that regardless of how much he talks of lasers and ignitors, bombs, “life savers” and recovery wadding, there is still some five year old left inside him.  Still a tiny bit of innocence that has yet to slip away. 

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Filed under boys, growing up, imagination, Star Wars