Category Archives: birthday

What Seven Looks Like

Seven looks like a boy uncharacteristically still in bed at 6:45 in the morning.  Look closer and you’ll see he’s mostly feigning sleep, eagerly waiting for the clock to turn so he can FINALLY get up and open his birthday present.

Seven looks like a smile when a boy unwraps his gift to find the set of Star Wars LEGOs that he wanted. 

Seven looks like a boy blowing out the candles on his favorite kind of birthday cake. Cake that he insists on eating for breakfast.

Seven looks like a slice of birthday cake the size of a dinner plate. And Seven looks like a boy whose eyes are larger than his stomach.

But Seven… looks happy.  And Seven looks like it’s going to be good.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIDDO!  I LOVE YOU!

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Filed under birthday, Snags

Forty

Wow.  So I’m turning forty in a few days.  40.  40!

But you know, I don’t FEEL forty.  And I don’t think I LOOK forty.

Except a few things that have happened over the past few days have really made me question how I am perceived by others.

There is this: A dermatologist gave me a prescription for Retin A to try and combat the oily skin I’ve had my.entire.life.  I read in a magazine that there are things you can actually do now to try and reduce the oily shine besides wiping it off your face every half an hour, your carefully applied makeup being wiped away along with it.  So I decided to see a dermatologist.  And he said Retin A is the best thing out there for this, my shiny face. 

But when I dropped my prescription off at the pharmacy, the person behind the counter asked how old I was and then said with a half smile-half sneer on her face, “Well you know, your insurance won’t pay for this.  They don’t pay for Retin A for anyone over 35 because it was developed as an acne medication for TEENAGERS but older women started using it when they discovered it helps diminish their wrinkles…”  And she nearly harrumphed as she smiled at me in her pharmacy coat with her gray hair up in a bun.  I just stood there, nearly dumbfounded, until I finally managed to say, “Well, my doctor prescribed it for me, so I’d like to fill the prescription anyway.”

And then there is this: I was telling some co-workers about my son, and how he had taken our calendar off the refrigerator and written “START” in the box for June 1, and “END” in the box for November 30th.  And then he drew a line through all the days in between to show that hurricane season will be occurring during that time.  One of the co-workers, whom I don’t know very well, turned to me and said, “What does your son do?”

“What does he DO?”  I asked, perplexed.  “Well, he goes to Kindergarten.”

“Oh!” the co-worker said.  “I thought he was working or studying something in college…”

And then, possibly realizing he might have just insulted me, he backpedaled and said, “Or high school.  Do they learn about hurricane season in high school?  But, oh, I didn’t know he was in kindergarten.  Hmmm…” he trailed off.

And so I wonder, do I LOOK old enough to have a child in high school?  Or worse, college? 

Technically, yes, I admit it’s possible that I am old enough to have a child in high school or college.  I recently connected with some former high school classmates and many of them have children who are teenagers, juniors and seniors in high school, a few with children in college. 

That could have been me.  If I had had my son when I was 25, well, he’d be 15 now, and studying hurricanes in high school.  Maybe. If they study hurricanes in high school. Or, if I had had him when I was 20, he’d be 20 now himself, and studying hurricanes in college in between all the drinking at frat parties and chasing girls around campus.  Ahem…

But I didn’t.  I was 33 when my son was born.  He’ll be seven this fall.  He’ll be in first grade, studying hurricanes. 

And me?  I’ll be trying to cure this oily skin, skin that seems more fitting for a teenager, with Retin A.  And I’ll still be 40.  Whether I like it, or feel it, or look it or not.

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Filed under birthday, birthdays, identity, Kindergarten, life

Evil Genius Turns Six (or Happy Birthday Snags!)

My son turns six years old today.  It’s kind of unbelievable to look back at photographs from when he was born and remember the tiny baby he was, versus now, the child he has become.

He was a tiny thing, just 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and 19 ½ inches long.  Today he’s close to 60 pounds and just shy of 4 feet tall.

Back then he didn’t speak, he slept a lot and cried.  Now he won’t stop talking and he wakes up way too early in the mornings.  He still cries, but mostly only when he’s hurt or very mad.

Back then, as I struggled with my new role as a mother, I came upon a quote that immediately and ever since became one of my favorite quotes about parenting: The days are long but the years are short.  I don’t know who said that, but I believe that those are truest words ever spoken.  How did we get here?  Six years down the road from where we started?  The past is nearly all a blur.  That’s partly, I think, why I started writing.  To document the stories of our lives before they become blurry too.  The past… eventually it eludes us, stands just beyond our grasp laughing at us and at what we can’t remember because we are too busy dealing with the here and now.  And so I take the time to write things down before I forget them, before I get too busy with the next thing.  I will collect these stories, and one day I will publish them.  Most likely it will be my own personal endeavor, a book made on Blurb or somewhere similar, and bought only by myself.  But I will give the book to Snags.  And when he is 25 or 38 or 46 he can look back and remember with me, or with his own children, the things that we might have otherwise forgotten.

There’s a gentleman that I know who through the years has asked about my son and told me about his son, already an adult.  This man came to the conclusion, from the stories I told him about Snags, that my son was destined for greatness.  “The only thing is,” he said, “I’m not sure if he’s going to be the President of the United States or a criminal mastermind.  You are going to have your hands full,” he warned.  “Keep on top of your son, nurture his skills, and push him toward good.  He’s smart… too smart, too crafty and too mischievous, he could go either way.  It’s your job to lead him in the right direction.”

And I’m trying, I really am.  But the other night I got a little taste of what the future might hold, and this kid of mine, he may turn out to be an Evil Genius despite my best efforts.  It was bedtime and I was reading out loud about the planet Saturn from a book called 4000 Things You Should Know.  “Saturn,” the book states, “is so massive, the pressure at its heart is enough to turn hydrogen solid.  That is why there is a layer of metallic hydrogen around the planet’s inner core of rock.”  And it goes on to explain that “Saturn is not solid, but is made almost entirely of gas, mostly liquid hydrogen and helium.  Only in the planet’s very small core is there any solid rock.” 

I tried to explain that in terms I thought an almost six year old would understand, so I  explained that air is a gas and that if it were on Saturn it would turn it into solid chunks.   

I continued reading and after a few minutes Snags interrupted and said, “Okay! We need to destroy Saturn.  We need to BLOW. IT. UP!” I looked at my son, innocent child turned comic book villain, and said no, that wasn’t right.  We shouldn’t do that.  But then I proceed to ask him why he thought we should blow up Saturn.

“Because,” he said, “there is no oxygen is space.  That’s because Saturn takes it all and turns it into rocks.  So if we destroy Saturn the rocks will turn back into air and people will be able to breathe in space!”

I laughed.  “Okay,” I said.  “I see your reasoning.  That sounds logical, but I don’t think I explained this right…  We don’t breathe the type of gas that Saturn turns into a solid.  That’s hydrogen, and we are breathing air which is made up of mostly nitrogen and oxygen, not hydrogen…” 

The next day, as I was shopping for Snags’ birthday present in Target, I was thinking about his plan to blow up Saturn.  I had to consider whether or not I was the best person to lead Snags away from the dark side… 

I was in one of the toy aisles and reaching out to take hold of a Star Wars transformer that could turn from an X-Wing into Luke Skywalker.  As luck would have it, it was the very last one they had.  And just as my fingertips brushed the package, a little boy zipped down the aisle at breakneck speed and grabbed the toy off the hook it was hanging from. Right from under my hand!  The child’s mother saw this and reprimanded him, told him to give the toy back to me, that I was looking at it and going to buy it.  The child handed the toy over to me, and I thanked him and then his mother. I thought that was the end of our conversation.

But then the woman asked me “Are you going to buy that?” and I said “Yes, I was thinking about it.” To which she puffed herself up like the Wicked Witch of the West Target and huffed “THINKING ABOUT AND BUYING ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!  WHICH IS IT?!”

I was stunned.  It took me a moment but when I recovered from her verbal slap I said I was going to buy it. Then, for fun, I continued to look at other Star Wars toys on the shelves, pulling them down, turning them over, reading the back and looking like I was weighing their merits against the transformer I said I was buying.

Eventually, I tuned my cart around and pushed my way out of the aisle.  I stopped to look at another toy, one that Snags has asked for before.  I pulled it off the shelf and put it in my cart.  Then I turned down the Barbie aisle, pulled the X-Wing/Luke Skywalker Transformer from my cart, and shoved it behind a bunch of Barbie Dolls.  I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, but neither was the witch in the Star Wars aisle.  And that’s why I am not sure I will be much help when it comes to stopping my little evil genius from blowing up Saturn.  It’s for a good cause, after all.

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Filed under birthday, humor, Luke Skywalker, parenting, Saturn, Snags, Star Wars, transformers

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

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

Golf and Things Like It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No.”  He lied.  “I’m not tired.”

But 30 seconds later, he was fast asleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the end, the score was:

        Snaggletooth: 113
        Me: 61  

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

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

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

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

They say it’s your birthday, it’s my birthday too!

Today is my birthday. I’m 39, ahem, I mean I’m, uh, a late thirty-something. A week or two ago I was happy, unbothered, still one year less old than I am today. It was an age I felt was still fully entrenched in the 30s. But now, I suddenly feel like the only part of me that is left in the 30s are my fingertips, and they are hanging on to the edge of a cliff for dear life.  The rest of my body is dangling over the side, ready to drop into the 40s.  I hope there’s a trampoline down there to break my fall.

My mother used to be unhappy about her “nine” birthday’s: 29, 39, 49. They were an ordeal she wasn’t thrilled about in the least. She didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t want to acknowledge it was her birthday on those particular years. As a child, I never understood that. “But it’s your birthday! You should be happy! You get PRESENTS! And what can be better than that?” I wondered.

I didn’t, in fact, understand that feeling, that… unease, at all until just a few days ago.  The reality that “Lordy! Lordy! Look Who’s 40!” signs and “Over the Hill” birthday cards will probably be delivered in droves next year just to mock me. That undeniable fact that I am getting… older. I guess I’m one of those women that Stacy and Clinton have rules for on What Not to Wear… “No mini skirts if you’re over 35, no low-rise jeans,” etc…  “Women in their late 30s can dress stylishly,” they shout. They advise that we should NOT look like we are trying to be a teenager again. And we don’t have to look like we are wearing our grandmother’s clothes, either.  But the truth is, women in their late 30s aren’t getting carded at the liquor store anymore. And sometimes, we wish we were.

With all that, I suppose I’m finally starting to get it, the way my mother felt about getting older. I think I now understand why my mother never actually turned 50.  She stayed 49 for 5 years or more, until my father agreed she could retire, at age 54. And I believe that’s where she remains. She’ll be stuck forever in her mid-fifties, or at least until she can start to collect social security, sometime in her 60s.

My father, on the other hand, never appeared to mind getting older. Mostly, I think, because he enjoys a bargain. He actually brags about getting that senior citizen discount on his breakfast at McDonalds.

Since my birthday fell on a Monday this year (the worst of all workdays, I believe), my husband decided we should celebrate it this weekend when we’d have more free time. He asked what I wanted to do for my birthday dinner, which he’d planned to have on Saturday night. ” Pizza!” I said. “My favorite pizza. Pick one of those up, and I’d like cake and chocolate ice cream. That’s all.”

It seemed like a simple enough request. Only, my husband doesn’t care for my favorite pizza that much. It’s not that the pizza tastes bad or anything. In fact, I heard that a few years ago when Oprah asked guests to name some of their favorite things, this particular pizza even got a mention on her show! So obviously, there are lots of people who like it. And it’s not that my husband doesn’t LIKE it, so much as he doesn’t think it’s “as great as all that,” if you know what I mean. So he mostly, I believe, doesn’t want to eat it on principle. Because I like it, because 99% of my family LOVES it and have declared it the BEST PIZZA EVER, he wants to NOT eat it, to show how “not great” he thinks it is. To say “It’s not all that you guys!” It’s only “so-so” in his opinion. He’s eaten better pizza, he likes to remind me. And he picked my birthday dinner to stage this protest.

He came home with a small box of pizza, a salad container balanced on top. I eyed the pizza box. “What size is THAT?” I asked (perhaps a bit accusatory). “A medium,” he replied. “What’s WRONG with you?” I asked (definitely accusatory). “Nothing!” he replied, (rather defensively, I might add). “I told you, I don’t like this pizza that much. This pizza is all yours; you can eat the entire thing. I’m not going to have any of it. I’m having this salad, and you can have some of the salad too.” “I don’t WANT salad,” I said. I thought, but didn’t say, “I don’t want your stinkin’ salad!” It’s my birthday! Who wants to eat SALAD on their birthday?” I wanted a LARGE pizza. I wanted leftovers that I could eat cold, for breakfast the next day. Maybe even for lunch too, if there was any left after I was done with breakfast.

He looked in the box as I pulled out a slice. “Uh, Uh!” I said. “You said you don’t like this pizza. You said you didn’t want any, so you can’t have any.” I’ll chop your fingers off if you try to take a piece, I thought. When I looked at the carry out menu attached to the top of the box, I discovered that a medium sized pizza feeds 2 to 3 people. So I ate half the pizza for dinner. I ate the remaining half for lunch the next day.

I had envisioned a casual birthday dinner, everyone enjoying their pizza. I had not envisioned my husband staging his silent protest by NOT eating any of my BIRTHDAY PIZZA. I hadn’t imagined I’d be watching him disdain my pizza while he ate salad and some leftover spaghetti that he found in the fridge. And then, as if to add insult to injury, he told me “Oh! I didn’t bake you a cake yet! But we have preschool graduation cake left over. We’ll just have that for your birthday.” “Whatever!” I muttered, through clenched teeth as I swallowed my pizza. “What?!” he asked, indignant. “We have half a graduation cake left ! We don’t need another cake. We’ll end up throwing out half a cake if I bake a cake. Besides, I didn’t even get to the store to buy ice cream yet anyway.”

I scowled at him. “What?!” he asked, again. “Why are you so mad? If it’s such a big deal I’ll make you a cake. Like I said, we’ll end up throwing a lot of cake out that we don’t eat, but fine. I’ll make you one!” “No,” I lied, “I don’t want one now. So never mind, just forget it.” He argued back “No! I’ll make one. I’ll make you a cake.” Again, I said, enunciating each and every syllable as clearly as I could “I . Don’t.  Want.  One!” “Don’t you understand? It’s not about the cake. I don’t need a cake. Like you said, we have cake. It’s the principle of the thing! You don’t “like” my favorite pizza enough to eat it on my birthday, but if someone invited us to dinner and that’s what they were serving, you’d eat it there. I’ve seen you do it! You claim I don’t need a birthday cake because we have left over graduation cake we can eat. I suppose,” I continued, “if you bought me any presents, you aren’t going to bother to wrap them because I’ll just tear off the wrapping paper and it will get thrown out, which would be a waste of your time and a waste of paper too, right?” I went upstairs contemplating ways to mess with his birthday. Burn the food, maybe. Take a trip out of town for work…

Sunday dawned and I heard Deep Blue Something’s song, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, on the radio. For the longest time I thought the song was about a guy and a girl who ate breakfast at Tiffany’s. You know, the jewelry store? The one where the jewelry comes nestled in a little blue box tied with a white ribbon? I might mention here as well, that it’s one of my favorite stores. You know, just in the off chance that you want to send me a belated birthday gift… But anyway, even with the line “I think I remember the film”,  I still considered it must be a song about a film about a guy and girl who ate their breakfast there. I pondered the song a fair deal when it was first released. How could they eat inside the jewelry store? They don’t serve food there. I don’t believe you’re even allowed to bring food in there. Maybe, I thought, this guy and girl, maybe they work at the jewelry store and they share a coffee and danish each morning before they open the doors! That’s why they can do it. They aren’t customers carrying their breakfast into the store, they work there! They eat it in a back room, or an office, or something, where nobody can see them.

Eventually, my doubts grew, and I got around to reading the book. In case you didn’t know, Truman Capote wrote it, and it’s not about eating danish or donuts in the jewelry store at all. It’s about Holly Golightly, a young socialite prostitute, living in NYC. Tiffany’s is where finds solace, and a feeling of serenity to calm her anxieties and fears (maybe she wasn’t actually looking at the price tags?). A short time after the book was published, the movie version came out, starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. In the opening sequence she’s looking into a Tiffany’s display window. A scene which reminds me of myself, the way I’m often paging through the store’s catalog. I circle things I’d like to have, if I had the money, and I leave the open catalogs out in strategic places for my husband to find. Little “Blue Box Hints” I think of them.  Hints which, if he pays attention, will provide him with an on-going list of things he could buy me to celebrate the various occasions in life, such as my birthday.

In the end, even though I got the wrong sized pizza, I did manage to eat every last piece of it myself. I also got a cake! It was all chocolate and apology, covered in white frosting with yellow writing, and it came with a half- gallon of my favorite chocolate ice cream. And oh yeah, lest I forget, I got a present. A pair of silver earrings that came wrapped in a little blue box tied with a white ribbon.  I’m wearing them now.

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