Monthly Archives: July 2007

WHAT Did You Say?!

Several times now my son Snags, who is 5, has uttered a word that sounded suspiciously four-letterish in a curse word sounding sort of way.

A few weeks ago my husband and I thought he might have said “shit” and we questioned him on it.  Or should I say, we held what could best be described as an inquisition.  “WHAT DID YOU SAY?!” My husband nearly roared.

“Nothing!”  Snags responded.

“Yes you did.  You said something.  Now tell me, what did you say?”

“Nothing!”  Snags lied, a smile beginning to spread on his face.  “I didn’t say anything.”

“Yes you did,” my husband insisted.  “I HEARD you say something.  Now tell me, what was it that you said?”

“Chip!” Snags responded.  “I said Chip.  Like Chip!  Where are you?” 

Now the thing is, Snags MAY have been telling the truth.  Because at the time he uttered what he claims was “Chip!” but what we think was actually “Shit!” he was playing on the floor with a Beauty and the Beast playset, and “Chip” the broken teacup character, is a part of that playset.  And he’s really, really tiny too.  About the size of a toddler’s pinky nail.  So Snags, he claimed he had lost Chip, and was simply calling his name to find him.  Because tiny toys will answer you if you call them, right?

And then Snags added, “I didn’t say a naughty word!”  Only it came out like “I didn’t say a NAWTEE wurd.

But you see, we never suggested he’d said a NAWTEE wurd.

What’s that saying?  “The lady doth protest too much”?  Well, methinks the kid was lying.  Probably.  Maybe.  But… I’m not sure.

Then tonight, as he was climbing the stairs from the basement to the kitchen Snags uttered something else.

When questioned on it, he claimed he said “Buck!” 

My husband though, wasn’t convinced.  He questioned Snags over and over: 

“I said BUCK!” Snags kept insisting. 

“That’s not what it sounded like,” said my husband.  So then he questioned ME.  Only I was typing on the computer (like what else is new) and I wasn’t really paying attention to what Snags had said.

“What does “Buck!” mean?” My husband asked Snags.

“It means a dollar,” Snags replied. 

My husband thought about this for a few moments and said, to me: “Well, I don’t even think he knows that OTHER word, does he?”

To which Snags retorted, “You’re right!  I don’t know that other word.”

Later, I called Snags over to me and whispered, “What did you say earlier when you were going up the stairs?”

And he looked at me with puppy dog eyes and said, “I didn’t say the dirty word dad thought I said!” 

“What dirty word did he think you said?” I asked.

He paused. “I don’t know!” he said.

So I asked, “Well, what dirty word do you think he thought you said?”

And still, Snags said, “I don’t know!”

So I’m left here thinking either this kid really is innocent and hasn’t gone off spouting dirty “wurds” or he’s a champ at covering for himself! 

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Filed under Beauty and the Beast, cursing, four-letter words, humor, lying

Sicko

I have to tell you about Sicko.  No, not the movie.  I haven’t seen it yet.  Have you?  I want to see it.  But in order to see it I’d have to call the babysitter (who’s probably booked out until Kingdom Come) and find a date that she’s available.  Then I’d have to take out my life savings from the bank just to be able to buy a couple of movie tickets and a box of Snow Caps.  After the movie, I’d have to come home and pay the sitter a kajillion dollars (sitters don’t come cheap around here), and then STILL put Snags to bed because he would have talked the sitter into letting him stay up because he’s cute and conniving that way.  It all just seems like too much work, just for a movie.  Even a movie that everyone’s talking about.  Instead, I think I’ll wait ‘til it comes out on DVD, which will probably be in 2 weeks anyway, and then rent it from my local redbox where I can get it for just a dollar.  Seriously, even if I keep the movie for a week, I’d still pay less renting from redbox than I would if I went to the theater.

The Sicko I have to tell you about is my husband.  He pulled a London Broil from the freezer 2 weeks ago and put it in the fridge to thaw (yes, I know London Broil is a cooking method, but my grocery store labels the raw meat as such, and so I call it as I buy it).  Anyway, I believe he intended to cook it when my parents were visiting from out of town, but we had other delicious foods to eat like pizza and crab dip and hot dogs and 4th of July cake.  Then he forgot about it and it somehow the meat got shoved to the back of the fridge, behind the chicken he had thawed and also forgot about.  Until I saw it a few nights ago and said:  “Isn’t it trash night?  Shouldn’t we throw out that rotting chicken and did you know there’s a rotting steak back there too?”

“A STEAK?”  he asked, all wide eyed and starting to salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. 

“Yeah,” I said narrowing my eyes suspiciously because he was starting to pant over the possibility of the steak.  “I think you meant to cook it when my parents were here.  You got it out to thaw before they arrived.  They were here for a week and it’s been another week since they went back home.  So I’m sure it’s no good now.  Throw it out.”

Only the next evening, after I returned from a run, he told me how, instead of throwing it away, he had cooked that steak, the one rotting in the back of the fridge.  He threw it on the grill with some spices, and not surprisingly, he burned it a little.

“What?!  I cried.  “You cooked that?”

“Yeah,” he shrugged.  “I ate some of it. There was nothing wrong with it.  It’s fine.”

“Well I’m not eating any of it,” I said.  “And don’t feed any of it to Snags either!  I don’t think you are supposed to eat something so old.  Just because you burned it doesn’t mean it’s okay to eat.  In fact, it’s probably worse. I heard on the news that the burned stuff causes cancer…” 

Still, he swore it was fine.  He’d eaten some and wasn’t sick.  Yet…

I totally expect that any moment now he’ll come to me complaining he’s caught some horrible form of ecolisalmonellalisteriacampylobacterplusatumorfromtheburnedmeat and he’ll have the idiocy of mind to wonder why.  And if he does, I won’t nurse him back to health.  Not when it’s his own damn fault. 

See, I had salmonella once.  And even though I didn’t catch it from eating rotten meat, I am now very obsessive about expiration dates and how long I keep leftovers in the fridge before they start to grow things.  I caught salmonella, believe it or not, from my sister-in-law’s dog.  Her dog who got into the trash and ate some old, raw chicken.  Possibly chicken she’d gotten out of the freezer to thaw, then forgot about.  At least she realized it, and threw it away, instead of cooking it and poisoning the whole family.  Too bad for her dog though.  He got terribly ill, and when she was tired of cleaning up piles of dog sick from all over the house, I offered to ride with her to the emergency vet. That was a fun ride, let me tell you. She drove while I sat in the back getting puked on and shit upon by the dog. We dropped the dog off, went home where I showered and gagged over the stink that was on me, and we learned a few days later that the poor, sad creature that had been sick all over the house, the back seat of the car, and me, had salmonella.  Ultimately, he’d be fine and back home like nothing had ever happened.  Stupid dog.

Because what we didn’t know at the time was that her dog had given his illness to me.  Three days later I ended up so sick that I found myself admitted to the hospital where I stayed for a week while the doctors ran every test known to mankind trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  Then one day my dad thought to ask if it was possible to catch something from a dog…  A few days later I was sent home with some heavy duty antibiotics and a letter from the state health department warning me not to take a job in the food service industry until I sent them a bunch of samples – STOOL SAMPLES! — to prove I’d been cured of the disease.

If you aren’t familiar with the effects of salmonella, you can read about them in a clinical kind of way here.  They are too gross to go into in much detail, and besides, thinking about them makes my insides clinch in horror all over again.  But suffice it say, if you get salmonella and are sitting in a hospital bed sipping Tropicana Twister because it’s sweet and the only food or drink you can stomach at all, even in tiny sips, you have been warned.  It will come out the other end and you will be convinced you are hemorrhaging to death through your intestines, but it’s really only the red dye number whatever that you are seeing.  So you can breathe a sigh of relief and believe the nurses when they tell you that too.

But back to my husband.  He’s been eating the old rotten burnt steak for a few days now and he still hasn’t gotten sick.  So maybe it’s true what they say, that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I guess time will tell.

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Filed under chicken, dog, humor, london broil, rotten food, salmonella, sick, sicko, steak

This is Me

This is me, before the start of marathon training season back about 3 months ago, talking to Kathy, the training coordinator for my running “club”:

“Kathy, I think I’m going to sign up to run with the group again this year.  But I am not going to show up for the speed test because I’m busy that day so just put me with one of the 9 to 10 minute per mile ½ marathon groups.  I don’t think I want to bother with the marathon this year since I’m still recovering from the injury I suffered last year on that 19 mile training run…”

This is me, again talking to the training coordinator, on the day I finally showed up and ran with the group for the first time this season, about 2 ½ months ago…

“Kathy, that group you put me with was too slow! I want to run with a faster group.  I know you said that “you can never run too slow on a long run” but that was painfully slow.  I could walk faster than that and,  In fact! I want to run the marathon now after all, so put me in a faster group and make sure it’s one that’s training for a marathon.”

This is me after running with the faster marathon group:

Pant, pant, pant… “Don’t you guys want to slow down some?  We still have a long way to go…”

This is me, talking to the coordinator AGAIN, about 1 month ago after one of the runs with the faster group in which I spent the entire run mentally cursing everyone for running too fast:

“Kathy, next week I think I want to try running with a slightly slower group.  My calves have been  cramping and my knee is hurting again so I’ve decided to give a slower a group a try, like you’ve been suggesting.  I know it won’t make any difference in how my legs are feeling but just to humor you, I’ll try it.”

This is me, reporting back to Kathy after running with the slower group:

“Kathy, guess what?!  My calves didn’t cramp and my knee didn’t hurt after that run.  I don’t really think it had anything to do with the slower pace.  It could be the fried chicken I had for dinner last night or possibly these new shorts, but just in case, I’ll stick with this group for the next couple of weeks, anyway…”

Note that I had to balance my plate of crow carefully so I wouldn’t drop it and be left with nothing to eat (because in case you didn’t know, you have to eat something to refuel immediately after a long run).

This is me after last Saturday’s run:

Ouch!  What is wrong with my calf?  It’s never hurt in THAT spot before.  This is somewhat troubling…  Ouch!  There goes my knee again.  What is up with me?!  Ouch!  My foot hurts too…

This is me last Monday, less than a week ago, after looking at the schedule for the run we were supposed to do today:

FIFTEEN MILES?!  I don’t feel like running 15 miles.  It’s too hot out!  My calf’s been hurting!  My knee is hurting again.  And my foot is hurting!  What’s up with my stupid body anyway?  Why am I doing this to myself? I am totally stressing out over this marathon. Maybe I won’t even bother to go running on Saturday. I have no motivation left for this anymore.  Aha!  And look at that, I won’t even be in town when the group runs 17 miles.  Well, I am NOT making up a 17 mile run by myself.  No way, no how!  I know…. I’ll drop back to the ½ marathon training group!  I only signed up for the marathon because I got all cocky last year and then I got hurt. I don’t even want to do it this year…

This is me at 4:07 a.m. this morning, a mere 8 minutes before my alarm was set to go off:

Wha?  Why am I awake?  I mean, I am AWAKE!  I was thinking of skipping today’s run if I was tired when the alarm went off, but I’m awake.  No way will I be able to fall back to sleep now.  I guess I’ll get dressed and at least show up.  Maybe I’ll turn around and go home after saying good morning to everyone and telling them I’m quitting.

This is Kathy, the training coordinator at 6:00 a.m. this morning as she panics because the ½ marathon group leaders aren’t there to lead their group.

“Okay, you, you, and you will start with Belle’s marathon group but TURN AROUND at mile marker 6 and come back here.  This parking lot is a ½ mile from the start, so if you run to 6 and turn around that will give you 11 miles today.  Don’t keep running with the marathon group or you’ll do 15 miles and you could injure yourselves!  Oh…”.  Sigh…Sigh… Wring hands together….  “Make sure you turn around.  At the 6 mile mark, okay?  Does anyone have a watch?  Do you know where you need to go?  Make sure you turn around…”

Me again, because Kathy is panicking and because I don’t want to run 15 miles anyway but I don’t really want to come out and admit that I’m stepping back down again because crow tastes pretty terrible:

“Kathy, I’ll turn around with the ½ marathoners and bring them back here!  You know, out of the goodness of my heart and all…”

This is Kathy:

“Oh, great!  That would be great!  You’ve done this before.  You’re familiar with the route.  That would be wonderful!  Thank you!  Okay, Belle will turn around with you guys so make sure you turn around at mile marker 6 and follow Belle.”

Important note:  The trail is flat and straight with woods on one side and a stream on the other side.  There are NO turns offs, no way to get confused and head off onto some errant path.  The ½ marathoners have run this trail many times, only not as far as mile 6.  Maybe, however, as far as mile 5 ½.  But apparently Kathy thinks they can’t find their way out of a paper bag back to the parking lot.

This is me this evening, after a couple of cans of Diet Coke, two Advils, and a long afternoon nap:

Whew!  That was great!  I ran 11 miles, and I feel fine!  I don’t have to suffer through excruciating long runs in this heat for the rest of the summer.  I can still walk without limping!  My foot doesn’t hurt.  My calves didn’t cramp.  My knee doesn’t hurt…  I wonder if I could have made it through 15 miles… 

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, humor, marathon, marathon training, meme, running

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