Monthly Archives: July 2007

Banana Phone

Dear Brother,

Happy Birthday!  I sent you a birthday card in the mail.  When it arrives, you might have to pay the post office 2 cents because all I had on hand were the old 39 cent stamps.  I promise you though, if you can dig 2 cents out of your sofa cushions, and fork it over to the post maser, it will totally be worth it because the card is HILARIOUS!  Hallmark’s got some funny people working for them.

I was going to call you and wish you a Happy Birthday in person, until I remembered your phone isn’t working.  When are you going to get that fixed, anyway?  The ½ marathon we ran together was back in April, for goodness sake.  That race was a lot of fun wasn’t it?

It was really unfortunate though, what happened to your cell phone during the race.  I mean, who would have thought that when you put your cell phone in your jacket pocket, and you put that banana in the same pocket with the phone, that so much trouble would come of it all?

Looking back, I guess you realize now that it wasn’t wise to tie your jacket around your waist when the temperatures started to rise.  Doing so meant that the jacket pockets, instead of being in a normal pocket position, were left hanging down near your calves.  I guess on a normal afternoon it might have been fine, but with all that running, it caused the jacket to swing and the pocket with the phone and the banana in it to bang against your calf reapeatedly.  REPEATEDLY!  Which caused the banana to smack into your cell phone over and over and over again.  AND OVER AGAIN.  For 13.1 miles!

Did you know that elite runners take on average 180 steps per minute when they are running?  It was rather obvious after seeing your finishing time that you aren’t an elite runner.  So maybe you took an average of 160 steps per minute during the race.  Divided by 2, (because we’re only going to count one leg in this) that means the pocket was hitting your calf, and the banana inside the pocket, was smashing into your cell phone roughly 80 or so times a minute.  Multiply that by the 171 minutes it took you to complete the race, and you have a recipe for cell phone disaster!  I mean, that was bound to tear open the banana peel, smash the banana to a pulp, and grind it into all the cracks and crevices on your phone.  Well, of course you know that now, don’t you?

Are you still picking out bits of banana from around the buttons on your phone?  And how about the USB port?  I know you said for a while there that the port was so full of banana that it actually thought the phone was connected to the computer.   I actually thought that was kind of funny.  In fact, I think the only way you could have ended up with MORE banana smashed into your phone would have been if we had baked it into a banana cream pie. 

The bobby pin I gave you was too fat to fit into the teeny crevices on your phone.  Did you try a sewing needle like mom suggested?  You might be able to pick out more of the banana with one of those.  Just be careful not to prick your finger with it.  I’m sure you don’t want drops of blood mixed in with all that banana mess. Do you?

I tried, just on the off chance that it might work, actually calling you from a real banana, but Chiquita doesn’t have enough cell phone towers in my area.  They may have more down your way.

Well, if you haven’t fixed your phone yet, you might consider getting a landline for your house.  Or, if you continue to insist on ONLY having a cell phone, you might buy one of those new iPhones.  I haven’t seen one up close and personal yet, but I did read a story about a test somebody did.  They put a set of keys and an iPhone in the same pocket and walked around all day.  The glass on the iPhone didn’t even get scratched.  And from what I can tell from the photos I’ve seen, the iPhone doesn’t appear to have any buttons, so that would be far less crevices to pick banana out of should you ever make such a dumb mistake again.  In fact, you might be able to just WIPE the banana off the phone, in one swipe.  Failing that, the key test I mentioned at least suggests you could scrape the banana off with a knife or something, and the glass would probably still be okay.

The only downfall I see, should you get an iPhone, is that you’d have to change over to AT&T.  Chiquita’s calling network, as far as I know, doesn’t support iPhones.

Happy Birthday from Your loving sister,
Belle

P.S.  It’s my friend Russ’s birthday today too! 

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, bananas, birthday, brother, cell phone, Chiquita, friends, humor, iPhone, phone, running

Notes From a Wedding

So I attended a wedding last weekend.  The one I mentioned here.  I ended up being both too busy and too lazy to go shopping for a new outfit, so I wore the little black dress I already had hanging in my closet.  I did, however, buy a new pair of shoes to go with it.  At least, they looked like shoes; black strappy HIGH heels with shiny, fake rhinestones on them.  In actuality, I am pretty sure they were just medieval torture devices. They felt fine in the shoe store, but after ½ an hour at the wedding, it was more than clear:  those shoes were made for sitting.  They were NOT made for walking.  Or dancing.  At one point, when a cousin commented that she liked my shoes, I offered to give them to her, right there, on the spot. Because I liked her shoes, and I think we could have made a good trade.  Only too bad for us: I was wearing a size 8 and her shoes, which would have looked equally nice with my dress, were only a 7.  I figured if I was going to torture my feet I might as well do it in the correct size, least I make matters worse.

The wedding was beautiful.  The reception was fantastic in a fabulous setting, with great food and great fun.  I think, if you had been there, you would have had a good time.  I did, even if my feet didn’t.

Still, a couple of things happened at the wedding that I thought worth mentioning.  In doing so, I hope to help anyone who is reading this and planning a wedding themselves, or planning to attend a wedding.  You might want to be prepared for such…. situations, should they arise.

In the wedding party, there were TWO women named Emily and TWO men named Keith.  I wondered if it got confusing during all the hairstyling, and dressing, and tying of ties.  Did they have to use the first of initial of their last names like they do in my son’s preschool class?  Because Snags will come home from school and tell me something astonishing and I’ll say “Bradley Phillips did THAT?” and he’ll say “No, mom, not Bradley P.  Bradley V.”  Like I’m an idiot.  Clearly.

So I wondered if at some point as the wedding party was getting ready if someone, maybe the bride, asked, “Have you seen Emily?  And another bridesmaid said “She’s standing right next to you!” and the bride had to say, “No, not Emily P.  Emily V. !  She has my earrings…”  Or maybe as the men were getting ready the two Keith’s got their tuxedo’s mixed up and panicked for a split second – “This jacket’s too tight!  These pants are too long!  What are we going to do?  The wedding starts in an hour!”  But then they sighed in relief and laughed a bit when they realized that Keith M. had been given Keith N’s tuxedo by mistake.  And once they switched them, all was well.  Anyway, I’m not sure if this was a problem at all, but I imagine it could be, so there you go, something to think about.

At the church, right before the wedding ceremony started, I looked over my shoulder and saw, out of the corner of my eye, the sleeve of a dress on one of the groom’s aunts.  I thought, “Heyyyy… that sleeve looks mighty familiar…” and I looked down at MY sleeve, (which was easy to do because my head was already turned) and I said to myself, “Yes!  HER sleeve looks like MY sleeve! I hope we don’t have the same dress on…”  Only, it turned out we DID.  The groom’s aunt and I WERE. WEARING. THE. SAME. DRESS!  Lucky for us, this was a wedding and not a prom.  I mean, nobody really cared what we were wearing, right? 

We joked about it.  She asked if I’d gotten my dress on sale.  And I said, “I don’t remember.  This dress has been hanging in my closet for 2 years.”  But she had just bought hers.  And that was a relief because:

1) it meant I’d bought my dress FIRST, and
2) I was still in style, baby!

I mean, hey, if they are selling the exact same dress 2 years later, it must be a classic don’t you think?  So we made a pact to wear the same dress AGAIN when my other cousin gets married.  He’s still in college though, so I imagine it’s going to be a while.  But you can bet I’ll be wearing different shoes to his wedding.

Anyway, as embarrassing as that was, to have the same dress as one other wedding guest, I started thinking (ahem… after several glasses of wine) how the wait staff at the reception must have felt. Like me, they were dressed in black too.  Black shirts, black pants.  All of them.  The same!  And THEN, there were five women wearing the same floor length sea foam gowns!  And for some reason, they actually stood near each other all night long! 

I commented on the odds of all of this to my husband as we drove home that evening.  The coincidences were too great.  With odds like that, it seemed we should buy some lottery tickets.  But he only rolled his eyes in exasperation.  He reminded me that the bridesmaids were supposed to be dressed alike. As were the caterers.  And so the only coincidence, after all, appeared to be in my wearing the same dress as someone else.

“Ah!  Okay, you might have a point there.  Maybe I had a little too much wine.”  I remarked.  “But it’s not my fault. My feet hurt.”

About 2 hours into the reception someone said that my 98 year old grandmother had lost her hearing aid.  This wasn’t the first time that had happened and so I asked a relative how many times she was allowed to lose it before they stopped replacing it.  She is 98, after all.  It’s not like it was a retainer and if you threw it away AGAIN at lunch and your parents were pissed off and didn’t replace it… Well, at 98, her teeth aren’t even HER teeth.  They won’t go all crooked on her again unless her Polident slips, right?  And if they don’t replace the hearing aid, everyone could just shout at her, or write her notes.  Her eyes are still okay, so she could read the notes, as long as she doesn’t lose her glasses…

Dear Grandma,
We warned you, didn’t we?  We told you if you lost your hearing aid just one more time we would not be buying you a new one.  And now you’ve gone and done it, haven’t you?  So here you go.  We will write you notes on this pad of paper from now on.  And please don’t turn up the volume on the TV beyond a level 35 when you watch The Price is Right.  Any higher will blow out the speakers and we won’t buy you a new TV if you break this one…

One time, years ago, after she thought she’d lost her hearing aid while playing bingo at the local fire hall, one of my aunts spent hours upon hours combing through bags and bags of the fire hall’s garbage to find it.  She felt her way through several large stinky Hefty bags full of half eaten plates of macaroni salad without any luck.  But later my grandmother found her hearing aid — at the bottom of her purse. 

My aunt, the one who combed through all that rotting macaroni salad swore she wasn’t doing that again, and since none of the rest of us wanted to either, many of the relatives and all of the wait staff were dragged into playing FIND THE MISSING HEARING AID as a reception game.  We looked under tables, in purses, in the rest room, in the parking lot, along the pier.  No dice.  Maybe we thought, she was sitting on it. We made my grandmother stand up so we could check the seat of her wheelchair.  Still, nothing. I suggested we check the ears of some of the other elderly guests, just in case one of them had stolen it borrowed it. But nobody thought that was a very good idea.  And as I said before, my shoes were torture, so I wasn’t going to walk around and do it myself!

The hearing aid scavenger hunt went on and on.  And just when things started to look tragically hopeless, my grandmother found her hearing aid.  In her ear.  This was not unlike the way an amateur magician can pull a quarter from behind a child’s ear. And my aunt smiled smugly and mumbled to herself, “Ha!  Now you all know how I felt!”  Actually, I don’t really know if my aunt mumbled that to herself.  I wasn’t standing near her when the hearing aid materialized.  But if I was in her shoes, that’s what I would have said.  Only really loudly.  Because I’d been drinking.  And her shoes were probably more comfortable than mine, so if I’d been wearing them, I could have been even smugger.

Did I mention how pretty the reception location was?  It was held at a restaurant next to a pier on a river.  Each table was covered in white cloth and candles.  There were hundreds of candles, maybe thousands, lighting the rooms.  It was very pretty and very romantic;  absolutely perfect for a wedding reception.  Or, um…at least it was until somebody set their napkin down on top of one of the candles.  All I can say is that the fire was extinguished quickly, after a brief flare when someone tried to help by pouring the dregs of their mixed drink upon it.  But nobody was harmed. The only thing burnt was the napkin, and part of the tablecloth. After that the candles were even more romantic considering they had that added mystique of FIRE HAZARD.  If you are planning your own wedding with lots of candles you might consider adding small bottles of flame retardant and miniature fire extinguishers to your table decorations, along extra pairs of comfortable shoes (size 8 please), and spare hearing aids.

In all seriousness though, I wish a lifetime of happiness for the bride and groom.  You guys are an AWESOME couple!

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Filed under candles, fire hazard, grandmother, hearing aid, little black dress, shoes, wedding, wine

Somebody Please Build This

Have you ever watched Star Trek?  Not the original series where they all looked funny and dressed poorly.  I’m talking Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager.  The only two of the Star Trek series I could stomach.  Mostly because Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard was pretty cool for an old guy.  And Data (played by Brent Spiner) was incredibly HOT! HOT! HOT! for an artificial human.  And before you get all “Oh. My. God!  Are you sick or something?” on me, you should know that I am not the ONLY one to ever think Data was hot.  My friend Erika thought so too.  She admitted it once, and I have at least 2 witnesses to her saying so.  You know, just in case she reads this and calls me up and tries to claim she never said that.

Anyway, they had this thing, the holodeck, onboard the ship in The Next Generation series.  The holodeck was an enclosed room where those aboard the starship could go and simulate reality.  They could, if they so desired, simulate a vacation at the beach, or a romantic evening in a hotel suite (oh, Data! where are you now?) , or even a shoot out at a wild west saloon.  Really, it was a pretty cool idea.

And I want someone to make it real.  I want somebody out there to invent a real, but portable holodeck machine.  I want it so badly that if you take my idea and go forward with it, I probably won’t even come after you for some of your windfall once it starts selling.  Seriously, somebody please build one that can used by police everywhere to simulate a normal side of the road.  One where the shoulder is free of busted up cars and flashing headlights.  That way, nobody would ever have to slow down while driving to gawk and gape at an accident.  If the police had a portable holodeck machine, they could pull up at the scene of an accident, project a “normal” view of the roadway along the side, and take care of the ticket writing and ambulance calling behind the screen.  And all us motorists?  We’d never have to know they were there because we wouldn’t even see them.

See, I’m tired of the traffic jams created simply because somebody got a flat and is changing their tire on the shoulder of the road, but for some reason, EVERYONE has to take a look.  And not just a peek.  It’s more like they have to take inventory.  Like maybe later somebody at a party will ask them, did you see that guy changing his tire today?  And they want to be able to respond, “You mean the guy wearing the Corona t-shirt and denim shorts with that tiny shaving nick on the edge of his chin? Yeah, I saw him.  He was wearing size 10 New Balances and he had a band aid on his pinky.”

The police could also use the holodeck machine to hide themselves at speed traps.  Not that I want to get caught in a speed trap, but they might have better luck catching folks that way.  Because come on fellow drivers… if you are bold enough to drive at 75 or 80 miles an hour with me, have some cajones and drive that fast in front of the cop car.  You know he’s partially hidden around the bend.  Do you think the cops don’t notice that all the cars SLAM on the brakes and reduce their speed from 80 to a polite 55 miles per hour just seconds before they round the bend?  The cops know it.  But here’s the thing:  if the front of the police cruiser is pointed toward the southbound lanes, they aren’t going to turn around and come after you in the northbound lanes.  If you are flying by doing 85, by the time they make that 3 point turn, and merge into the traffic, you’ll be long gone.  So really, please, just keep driving.  Slow down just a touch, if you must, but don’t stop for crying out loud.  And put away your cell phone and your razor and your lipstick and DRIVE dammit!  I’ve got places to go too you know.

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Filed under Brent Spiner, Captain Picard, Data, holodeck, Patrick Stewart, speeding, Star Trek, The Next Generation, traffic, Voyager

The Bad Thing You Didn’t Know About Me

I am an addict. 

I didn’t become an addict on purpose.  In fact, like many people battling addictions, I’m not quite sure how I even got this way.  But I am one, and have been for a long, long, long time.  I don’t know that I can ever totally break this habit, but after nearly 27 years of being bound by this addiction, this… dependence, I have to try.  For my sake, and for my family.  For my son.  So I don’t blow his college fund supporting my habit.  The first step, I’ve been told, is admitting to God, to myself, and to others that I am an addict.  And so, I take a deep breath and admit to the world: 

My name is Belle, and I am and addict.  I AM ADDICTED. TO LIP BALM.

 I know!  You feel betrayed.  You thought you knew me.  You’re shocked.  And saddened.  And alarmed.  I understand.  I heard your sharp intake of breath when I admitted the truth.  I’m sorry; I am trying to get better. 

I think my addiction started back in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s when I was in middle school.  My memory going that far back is fuzzy, (after 27 years of this, how could it not be?) but here is what I do recall: It was winter and my lips were chapped.  I asked a classmate if she had any Bonne Bell Lip Smackers; you know the super wet, shiny, glossy kind that made you look like you’d drooled spit, or perhaps bacon grease, all over your lips?  She didn’t.  So I asked another friend if she had any, but all she had to offer was a tube of ChapStick.  It was better than nothing.  After all, it had helped that Susie chick, the one who skied, so I used it.  A few days later I found myself once again in need of something for my lips.  This time, a friend produced a small tub of Blistex Daily Conditioning Treatment (DCT). Again, I took the offering. I didn’t think anything of it…

In hindsight, I should have.  Who could have known that one little hit of Blistex would change my life forever?  I certainly didn’t. But then, at the time, I didn’t know that Blistex DCT was the crack cocaine of lip balms.  

When I was in my freshman year of college, the nation was in the midst of the crack epidemic.  It’s dangers were well known, and school administrators warned students almost daily, “Don’t Do Crack!” 

“Ha!” I thought, “Who needs crack when you’ve got Blistex DCT in your pocket?”  By then I’d been a user for about 6 years.  I could take a hit whenever I needed it to sooth my dry lips.  Whenever I felt the Blistex wearing off, whenever I thought my lips were about to start flaking and falling from my face like leaded paint chips, I’d just dip my finger in the tub of Blistex and smooth on some more. 

I told myself I wasn’t addicted.  I told myself I could quit at any time.  But I was lying.  It got bad.  Really bad.  I had little tubs of Blistex DCT stashed EVERYWHERE.  If you were a stranger to my home, you might have wondered if I was dealing of the stuff.  Tubs covered every surface, in every room. When it was time to clean, there were so many, I didn’t even pick them up, I simply dusted around them.

For those of you who’ve heard the rumors, it’s true:  On more than one occasion, I had to ask my various dates to make a quick detour to the nearest drugstore when I realized I didn’t have my lip balm with me. It wasn’t that I worried I’d kiss one of my dates and they’d pull back in horror asking, “What’s wrong with your lips?  They feel like sandpaper!” because I knew they only felt like sandpaper to me.  The truth was, I could not sit through an entire movie without my lip balm.  As soon as I realized I’d left my house without it, I’d start to panic and say, “Look, do you mind pulling into that CVS pharmacy over there?  I, uh, left something at home and I think we might need it later…”  Few of my dates ever questioned me on this.  I imagine they thought I wanted to pick up a pack of condoms or something.  But oh, were they wrong!

Eventually, the addiction started to worry me, and I’d casually bring it up with my doctors.  “Um, I think I’m addicted to lip balm,” I’d say, red faced, hanging my head in shame. 

“Not possible.” They’d reply.  “You can’t get addicted to lip balm.”

And so I’d leave the doctor’s office feeling worse than ever.  There were no 12-step programs for this sort of thing, because, as the doctor’s claimed, it wasn’t a condition after all.  Only I WAS suffering.

Then one day a concerned friend cornered me, handed me an article ripped from the April 1997 issue of Self Magazine.  “Read THIS” she said pointedly.  I took the paper from her hands and there in big bold type were the words “Lip Balm Addiction” and the text below it “Do your lips feel dry even though you continually reapply your lip balm?”  “Yes!”  I cried, tears streaming down my face!  “They DO!”  And, I realized, I was not alone! 

The article went on to discuss lip balm ingredients, and one in particular, phenol, also known as carbolic acid.  It’s an antimicrobial, which is good.  But it’s also drying, which is bad.  It causes you to reapply and reapply and reapply and reapply your lip balm over and over and over and over again; because your lips always feel dry, because the penol makes them so.  I pulled out the tub of Blistex DCT in my pocket and read the ingredients: 

Active Ingredients
Petrolatum (W/W) 54.86%; Octyl Methoxycinnamate (W/W) 7.3%; Oxybenzone (W/W) 4.5%

Inactive Ingredients
Aloe Vera Extract; Camphor; Candelilla Wax; Cetyl Alcohol; Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Soy Protein; Cocoa Butter; Corn Oil; Flavor; Lanolin; Menthol; Menthyl Anthranilate; Ozokerite; Phenol; Saccharin; Vitamins A &E

And there it was, listed under the inactive ingredients, PHENOL!!!!  The fact that I was an addict, then, clearly wasn’t my fault!

The article suggested alternative balms that lacked this prime offender.  It took me a while, but I eventually found and bought one: Burt’s Beeswax.  When I found the stuff back in 1998, I thought I’d been saved.  I went and thanked my friend for her intervention.  I showed her my new tube of lip balm and told her how it had been hard at first, but I’d finally weaned myself from the Blistex and how I wasn’t using the new lip balm nearly as much as I’d used the old stuff. 

It turns out though, that using Burt’s Beeswax to get over a Blistex addiction is akin to substituting methadone for a heroine addiction.   Methadone, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “reduces the cravings associated with heroin use … but it does not provide the euphoric rush.”  Burt’s Beeswax, I quickly learned, was similar.  It reduced my craving for the Blistex, but it wasn’t nearly as satisfying.  And also like methadone “ultimately, the patient remains physically dependent.”   Which is where I am today, physically dependant on Burt’s Beeswax.  It’s not my fault though.  Even the Burt’s website states:

“You can use it…for a little peppermint tingle. You may want to keep one in your pocket, one in your desk and one in your car. Soon, you’ll hold them close to your heart.”

In hindsight, it’s kind of obvious, right there, that warning:  you will get addicted to Burt’s Beeswax too!    

If there’s good news in all of this, it’s that,  “it is possible to maintain an addict on methadone without harsh side effects” even with “continuous treatment.”  And so I figure, I’m not really being harmed by my lip balm.  I haven’t noticed any harsh side effects.  And it looks like I can continue using my lip balm as long as I need to.  Maybe, I think, I’m not ready to give up this addiction after all.

These days, if you come to my house you’ll see lots of little yellow tubes of Burt’s Beeswax lying around.  Like the Blistex tubs did before them, they cover almost all the surfaces.  And yes, I dust around them.  But I’m not a dealer, just a user, I swear.

By the way, Burt’s tubes are smaller than the Blistex tubs were, and easier to carry. In fact, I don’t even need a pocket to keep a tube nearby.  That funny lump on my chest?  The one that looks suspiciously like a badly placed third nipple?  That’s my lip balm.  I carry it with me in my bra.  Close to my heart.  Let me know if you need to borrow some.

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Filed under 12-step program, addiction, Blistex DCT, Burt's Beeswax, ChapStick, lip balm

Strange Day at the Bowling Alley

Are you looking to have a crashin’ good time? Well then, join me the next time my son, Snags, is invited to a birthday party at our local bowling alley.  Seriously, join me.  I could have used the company and witnesses last weekend when, for those of you keeping track, we had ANOTHER birthday party, the 3rd in as many weeks, to attend. As you can see, this kid’s social schedule is rockin’!

The party invitation was basic, simple black text printed on a sheet of computer paper, “…come to Jason’s Birthday party at the bowling alley on Sunday at 1:30 pm…”  The invitation was placed in my son’s preschool cubby on Thursday afternoon, just 3 days before the party.  Not much time to shop for a present I thought.  Also, since it was so close to the party date, I considered if we’d been on the “B list” of invitees.  As if to confirm this, when I called on Friday to RSVP and say that yes, Snags would be able to attend, the person on the other end of the phone said in her most bored teenager voice, “Oh. Okay…. Then she audibly sighed before she went on to explain, “But the thing is? You have to be at the bowling alley by 1:15 because they open the lanes at 1:30.”  She sounded a little hopeful then, like maybe I’d say, “Oh, 1:15, that’s not going to work after all.”  Instead I replied brightly, “Okay! We’ll be there!  “Oh, okay then. Bye,” she replied, not sounding enthused AT ALL.

I wondered again, as I hung up the phone, if perhaps Snags had been invited to this party by mistake.  Maybe the invitation ended up in the wrong cubby? After all, we don’t really know Jason; I think he’s pretty new to my son’s class. Nevertheless, Snags was eager to attend. He even knew, when we asked, what Jason was interested in: “Power Rangers!” he declared.  And that’s the kind of insider information that a 5 year old only knows when he’s been playing with another kid for a while.  Clearly he’d been hanging out with Jason at school.

Sunday rolled around and Snags and I arrived at the bowling alley.  At 1:30. Not 1:15 like we’d been advised. Yes, I know. My bad; get over it.  When we went inside, the place was nearly empty, and I struggled to find a group that looked large enough to be a party.  Thankfully, I heard someone calling my name. “Hi, Belle!” It was Lena, the mother of Derek, another child at the party.  She stood at a lane in front of me and pointed across the room, “The party’s over there,” she informed us.  “But I’m bowling over here until they are finished.”  She had her older child with her and I guess they decided to bowl a few games themselves while Derek was celebrating across the alley.

I thanked her and we traded in Snags’ SuperBall sneakers which he thinks make him jump really high (I don’t have the heart to tell him they don’t) for a pair of funky smelling multi-colored bowling shoes, size 12.  Only Snags complained they were too small; he couldn’t “wiggle his toes”.  So we took them back to get the next size up.  “He says these are too small,” I shrugged in explanation, as I plopped the shoes on the counter.  “You need a size 13 then?” the shoe control lady asked me. “Uh, yeah, I guess.  Is that the next size up?”  Size 13 IS the next size up from a size 12, in case you didn’t know.  I didn’t.  I did know that at some point the shoe sizes change from double digits back to 1 and you have to start over.  It’s a confounding system if there ever was one. I mean, just imagine if women’s clothing did that…  Wouldn’t it be something if our clothes only went up to a size 10 say, and then they started over?  So if you wore a 10, but gained enough weight to need a 12, (and who hasn’t done that before?) then you’d find you’re back to a size zero, just not THAT zero.  And by the way, if you are waving your hand in a “Me! Me! I haven’t gained weight” kind of way, then you’re not my friend. Okay, I’m joking.  You can be my friend, but you can’t borrow my clothes because they’ll be too big for you.  Seriously though, if women’s clothing sizes did this, wouldn’t that be cool?

Anyway, back to the size 13 bowling shoes…  “These feel GREAT!”  Snags roared once he’d put them on.  “I can wiggle ALL my toes in them.”

We walked in the direction that Derek’s mom had pointed, and a bored looking teenager I assumed was a bowling alley employee took the gift from Snags’ hand, set it atop a small pile, and asked me “What’s his name?” with a nod in Snags’ direction.  “Snags” I replied. And she turned and typed it into the bowling alley computer without saying another word.

The party was a small affair (hence the reason I didn’t spot a party crowd when we arrived).  Of the preschool class, Jason, the birthday boy, had apparently invited just 2 friends:  Snags and another pal, Derek. And in some kind of creepy 5 year old telepathic exchange, Snags and Derek had both worn orange Power Ranger t-shirts, blue shorts, and white socks.  With the bowling shoes on their feet, one might have confused the boys for twins.  Except for the small fact of Derek’s athletic ability — he did a round-off back handspring on the bowling alley floor, from a standing position, after one particular good turn.  Also, Derek’s hair is a shade darker than Snags’.

Snags, however, might one day be really excellent at shot put, should he ever take up track and field; because, as it turns out, he bowls the same way he plays Skee Ball.  That is to say, he’s an over hand bowler!  And I’m willing to bet THAT is not something you see very often.  Or um, EVER.  He hoists the bowling ball OVER his head and thrusts it forward from there. A position that is, if you measured it, some 45 inches off the ground — nearly 4 feet high. Luckily, the ball has enough forward motion to miss his toes as it crashes to the floor (otherwise it would surely break them) and rolls down the alley lane. He puts some kind of spin on the ball too, because it weaves its way back and forth across the lane, ricocheting from bumper rail to bumper rail, like a drunk trying to walk the line at a roadside sobriety test.  And no matter how many times I offered Snags some of my helpful suggestions, like “Why don’t you trying bowling like a NORMAL PERSON?” he wasn’t going for it.  This worked for him and he was sticking with it!  Even when all the adults in the entire bowling alley ducked their heads and covered their ears against the deafening explosion of the ball’s attempt at forming a crater in the wooden floor, Snags was not changing his modus operandi.

In his first game Snags scored a 91, which isn’t so great, I suppose.  But, I think it might actually be a record for the overhand bowlers! Especially those in the 5 year old league. He even got a strike at one point to which he danced around then dropped to the floor and slithered around like a snake, all smiles.  I believe it was Snags’ equivalent of a touchdown dance.  Then moments later he landed a gutter ball to which someone turned to me and said, I’ve never seen anyone get a gutter ball with the rails up! “Well, until now” I thought, but didn’t say.  Instead, I nodded, proudly, knowingly.  Because hey, that’s something then, isn’t it?

Did I mention the party was small?  Three kids and a handful of adults, none of which seemed inclined to talk.  In fact, it was only near the end of the party that I discovered the very young woman I’d assumed was a teenager working at the bowling alley for the summer, was actually the birthday boy’s mother! Aside from asking me who Snags was, she didn’t say another word to me. Although to be honest, I didn’t exactly try to strike up a conversation with her either. She stood aside, mostly removed from the action.  She watched the overhand bowling, guarded the gifts, and sipped on a soda without saying much of anything to anybody.

Before we left it was time for Jason to open his presents.  He received two
Power Rangers toys; one from Derek and one from Snags. Snags, who had seen a transformer toy on TV that was a truck that turned into a gun, decided at the last second that we should have gotten that for Jason instead.  “Sorry kiddo,” I said.  “No time to go the toy store now.”

The other present that Jason received was his VERY. OWN. PERSONAL. TV.  OH. MY! If you had seen the look on Snags’ and Derek’s faces when the TV was unwrapped!  They turned to me with the biggest smiles ever, and a shine in their eyes that flashed “Holy Cow! DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? If Jason can have a TV for his 6th birthday, then we can too!”  I was just about to say something mean like, “Wow boys, neat huh?  Too bad for you; you two won’t be getting TVs until you’re teenagers!” But before I could finish the sentence in my mind, Derek shouted, loud enough for alien life forms on other planets to hear “I ALREADY HAVE MY OWN TV! IN MY ROOM!”  And then the look was only on Snags’ face.  Little darts were shooting from his eyes, each one wrapped with a tiny message, like you’d find in a fortune cookie, and directed at me.  Because now Snags was the only 5 (almost 6) year old in the entire bowling alley, and quite possibly, from the look on his face, the entire world, who didn’t have his own TV.  In his room.  Tiny violins started to float and play in the air all around Snags’ head.  Still, his smile barely dimmed.  He continued to search my face, hopeful, looking I imagine, for a
nod of agreement that yes, one day soon he too would get his very own TV.
But I held fast.  I pretended my face had been shot full of Botox and I couldn’t move a muscle.  Not a twitch, not a blink.  No nod of encouragement, and definitely, most definitely, no shake of the head indicating NO WAY! YOU MUST BE JOKING! SIX YEAR OLDS WILL NOT HAVE THEIR OWN TV IN MY HOUSE!  Because that would have provoked crying on the spot and proclamations of “You’re a mean mommy!”  and I didn’t want to leave the party on a sour note like that.  So we wished Jason a Happy Birthday, thanked his mom who wasn’t a bowling alley employee for inviting us to the party, and we went home.  I’m still not certain that party invitation was ever actually meant for us.

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Filed under birthday, bowling, Power Rangers, transformers, TV

Transformers

So the Transformers movie comes out tomorrow and I’m wondering: Is it just me or did the people who made the movie Transformers ever actually play with a transformer?  Because my son has a couple, and let me tell you, those things DO NOT transform as fast or smoothly as they do in the movie.

Maybe I’m mechanically inept, or simply toy incapable, but I couldn’t make transformers transform when they first came out in the ’80s and I was babysitting kids who played with them, and I can’t do it today either.  Yes, folks.  I admit it.  Transformers have confounded me for 20 years now!

Maybe, if my son hadn’t ripped open the packages and screwed the transformers up before I read the directions, I would have understood how these things work.  But it’s too late now.  He opened them, and not neatly.  He destroyed the back of the package which contained the picture showing what the transformer were supposed to look like.  So now it’s a bit difficult to follow the instructions from Step 1.  Because what I’m holding in my hands looks NOTHING like the pictures and I can’t even figure out how to get it there, not even close.

I don’t understand how they can say these toys are for children ages 5 and up.  Pieces have popped off and I don’t even know which transformer I’m supposed to snap them back on to.

Really transformers should be sold in the puzzle aisle, not the toy aisle.  They remind me of the wood and metal disentanglement puzzles with all their rods and rings and ropes.  Pull this, twist that, push this, twist here, push this, pull that, throw it across the room in frustration and disgust while crying “Forget it!  I don’t want to play this anyway!” 

Remember when Rubik’s Cube first came out?  My brother found a quick way to solve that when he was a kid.  He didn’t read the solution manual, he didn’t need to.  He simply peeled the little color stickers off and rearranged them!

But these transformers, I swear they are actually little brain teasers, Mensa material.  If I ever figure out how to make these transform from vehicle to action figure to vehicle again, I swear to you, I am going to document my success with photos and video, and I’m sending it off to Mensa.  Once they see it, there’s no way they will be able to claim, like last time, that I’m not smart enough.

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Filed under mensa, puzzles, rubik's cube, toys, transformers