Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Butt Button

It happens to every mom I know. The common battle cry amongst us all: “Darn it! I just sat down!” While we’re up and running, the kids seem to amuse themselves. We serve them. We cater to their needs. We fish out lost toys from under the couch. It’s all in an effort to have them happy and occupied so that, finally, we can sit down for just five minutes!
I double check to make sure everyone has what they need. The coffee is done, a cup poured, skim milk added to just the right color and temperature. Gingerly, I move to the kitchen table and take a seat. That first sip – ahh… there’s nothing like it! I take in a deep breath and feel my shoulders fall to an ‘at ease’ position. But before the mug can reach my lips for the second sip, I hear it. That sound again. Exasperation overcomes me, as does a tangled mess of obscenities from under my breath, as I answer The Call Of The Wild, also known as, the kids screaming, “Mom!” from across the house.

It’s as if they know I’m sitting down. Before when I was loading the dishwasher, folding the laundry and making the beds, they didn’t even acknowledge my presence. But once I take a seat, they call. And don’t think I haven’t put this to the test, because I have. I’ve taken my coffee standing at the kitchen counter, just to see if they’d call. They didn’t. I’ve eaten my lunch at the center island and didn’t hear a peep either. Thus, I’ve come to the conclusion that in addition to my swollen ankles, stretch marks and deflated breasts, I’ve obviously grown something in my hindquarters during my pregnancies.

I call it the Butt Button. After thorough self-examination in the bathroom mirror, I’ve concluded that it must be invisible or perhaps hidden within a dimple of cellulite. I’ve considered having my rear end X-rayed, just to see if I can prove my hypothesis, but I doubt my insurance company would pay for this sort of diagnostic testing.

My theory is that this Butt Button, once depressed, sends a signal that is transmitted to the ears of the children. Adults cannot hear this signal. It’s like a dog whistle, we can’t hear it, but they can. Obviously, if the kids are in another room, they don’t see me sit down, but I imagine their little heads popping up to attention to catch the sound. One child whispering to another, “Did you hear that? Mom’s sitting on the couch. Quick, call her.”

I’ve gone back to re-read What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and they make no mention of this. Neither does Dr. Spock. I find it hard to believe that all these experts have no knowledge of this. They must be in cahoots with the children.

My husband has even agreed that something fishy is going on. He has witnessed me buzzing around the house, setting up everyone with clean clothes and fresh food. He has seen me whiz through projects, wrestle with glue stick caps and unravel miles of tangled video game wires. He has heard me say, “Okay. Everyone have what they need? It’s all under control? Good.” He watches me sit down and in the instant my bottom touches the chair, he too, hears it. God bless him… he shakes his head in disbelief, motions for me to ‘stay’ and attends to the urgency of whatever, whomever is calling now. He does this out of pity for my weariness, because he’s a kind soul, and, let’s face it, his desire for continued sex.

I suppose I’ll never discover where the device has been implanted or what part of the child’s brain interprets the signal. I can only hope that over time, they will no longer hear it, much like they don’t hear me when I call them downstairs to complete their homework.

I’ve typed this entire article standing at the kitchen counter. It is only in the last three minutes that I’ve chosen to take my laptop over to the table and finish – but – you’ve guessed it… the Butt Button has been activated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Girl + Boy = Nostalgic Facebook Searches

I recently celebrated a birthday, my forty-first to be exact. For some reason, this one has hit me harder than the “Big 4-0.” Perhaps now it’s because I have to actually admit that I’m not just forty, but I’m actually IN my forties! Whatever the reason, lately, I find myself in a constant state of nostalgia.

In this day and age, it’s easy to be nostalgic – just turn on your computer. You can Facebook or Google anyone or anything. Nostalgia aside, it also satisfies that voyeuristic side of us. Looking at a Facebook profile is like peeping through their open window. Juicy, isn’t it? But I digress.

On Facebook alone, there’s a dozen dedicated pages to my high school and its various reunions. A reunion, for any given graduating year, is happening at any given time, at any given local tavern. I went to the first couple of gatherings, and while it was a blast, it became overwhelming somehow. It was almost like being fifteen again - complete with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. I’ve since bowed out of the last few reunions. I remain contented to see how so-and-so turned out from the comfort of home with the click of a mouse.

I see my teenage daughters living out those years now in all its angst and glory. Hours in front of either the mirror or a computer, their lives spent in total dedication and anticipation of Boys, Boys, Boys! While, way back when, I was consumed with doodling the names of my suitors in my notebook, today’s technology allows my girls to digitally enhance camera phone photos on their laptops. Texting and instant messaging replaces those long phone conversations... you know, the ones where you just about fell asleep mid-sentence with the receiver in your hand. The mode of expression may be different, but the sentiment is the same: First loves, first heartbreaks, and memories that will remain forever.

My older girl seems to be content to spend a few months here and there with one boy at a time. She’s more reserved about her feelings and seems to have a “take it or leave it” attitude where boys are concerned. I watch her with her boyfriend and am in awe of her unflappable composure. She is the dictionary definition of “cool.” She is simply herself, completely relaxed and if inwardly she is unnerved, you’d never know it. If I could go back in time, I’d like to be her. She’s my teenage hero!

My younger girl (sigh...) could actually be me reincarnated. She feels it deep down to her toes. She is dramatic and impassioned. Easily wounded, I frequently find evidence of her heartbreak in the form gut-wrenching song lyrics quoted in Facebook status updates. I’m sure she is convinced that every boy she dates is “the one,” just like I was. Whether she gave the boy-du-jour, one week, or one month of her time, be sure, she gave him her all. Her heart goes quickly from on her sleeve to under his feet, therefore, every ending is tragic. And, like me, she’ll never take the advice I received from my own mother and give a little less, remain a bit mysterious, give the boys something to work for. No. A true romantic puts it all on the line, all the time, every time.

The high-school sweetheart: A right of passage for all adolescents. Victor was mine for most of junior year and half of senior year. Oh, I thought for sure we’d be together forever. I remember having a lot of fun with him and really enjoying his company. He was the first boy I wanted to speak with for hours on end. He was the one for whom I willingly ditched my girlfriends so that we could have some more time together. Victor was the reason why I begged for a later curfew. His upcoming birthday was the reason why I took the second after-school job babysitting for two brats that I couldn’t stand, for all of $2.00 an hour. I have vivid memories of stashing that money in a small, beat-up, brown envelope in the back of my sock drawer. Between babysitting money and tips from the coffee shop, my first after-school job, I proudly walked into the most expensive men’s store in my neighborhood and bought him that leather bomber jacket. I loved seeing him in school getting compliments on that jacket. I can still see his curly, chocolate colored locks graze the back of the collar. I remember the feeling of butterflies dancing in my stomach when I saw him smile over at me and tell whoever was asking, “My girlfriend bought it for me.”

Then there was the giddiness of receiving the gold double-heart ring for our “anniversary.” Mine was really nice, too. It had a diamond chip in the center. No one else had that. Engraved on the left, his initial. On the right, mine.

I so regret marching to his house on that cold winter day with the express intent of throwing it back at him because he broke up with me. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?" Ha! She’s got nothing on a freshly dumped, teenage Brooklyn girl. Still, I should have saved my first piece of jewelry from my first love. Actually, I never made that mistake again. When I went home and told my grandmother what I'd done she set me straight, "Never, ever give jewelry back! His punishment is to know both you AND his hard-earned money are gone now!"

When we broke up, I thought I’d die, until of course, I met Paul, Mike, Steven and, oh God, what’s his name? The names and dates all seem to blend into obscurity, barely worthy of even a curiosity, but Victor, I always wondered about. Teenage drama aside, I liked him. He was a nice boy and my memories of him are all good. I always thought of him fondly through the years.

Every woman wonders about that “one” from her youth. Whatever became of him? Did he marry? Is he rich? Is he still handsome? Twenty years ago we didn’t think we’d have any of those answers. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, those answers are now at our fingertips. I found his wife on Facebook. Joanne went to our high school as well, and she and I were friends. Joanne and Victor got together long after high school was over and Victor and I were ancient history by then. They fell in love, married and like most of us from the old neighborhood, moved away from Brooklyn in search of someplace quieter.

Now, I get to chat with Joanne on-line, hear all about her life with Victor, and see their family pictures. God bless him, he hasn’t aged a day. He still has a boyish twinkle in his hazel eyes, has all his hair and none of it even grayed. I see his smile in those pictures. It’s the smile that made my sixteen-year old heart leap. Now it brings my forty-one year old heart peace. He’s happy, well, content. My own lingering teenage angst put to rest. Answered questions.

Of all the boys that come and go, every girl’s first true love is the one she'll forever hold in her heart with warmth and affection. Something was different about him. He’s the one that made her realize the others were just crushes and that this was much more. And when it was over, she now had a frame of reference for the next boy that came along. She knew what to look for – what to feel for. He’s the one that caused an awakening of new senses. He's the one, who at the ripe old age of forty-one, the mention of his name can still stir up a smile and perhaps, even a blush.

In the warmth of the summer of their lives, I watch my girls flit from boy to boy and I wonder, who will be their Victor?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bubbles of Thought

We each have a filtering system that severely edits our thoughts on the way down to our mouths. Usually, what comes out of our mouths is the watered down, diplomatic version of what we’re thinking. But imagine if people were like comic strip characters with those funny bubbles over their heads. Imagine being able to observe an exchange between two people and look overhead to see what they’re really thinking. Now, that would be interesting!

My friend Jessi is from Brooklyn – she and I actually grew up on the same street. She’s not exactly the stereotypical Brooklyn girl like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, but Jessi definitely has the thick, unmistakable New Yawk accent, sharp tongue, quick wit yet is always a lady. Jessi left Brooklyn in favor of New Jersey, but Brooklyn never left Jessi. Let me tell you, we Brooklynites make for some great Bubble dialogue.

Enter the census taker who hails from God-Knows-Where, USA, and has arrived at Jessi’s door to fill out census forms. It was problematic from the start when Jessi explained that she kept her maiden name after she married. This is causing Ms. Census a great deal of confusion and distress. According to Jessi, she kept flipping her pencil from point to eraser and back, unsure of what to put or where.

Jessi’s Mouth: “No, it’s okay… take you’re time. That’s J-E-S…”
Jessi’s Bubble: “Holy Mother of God! This is who they send to gather vital info? No – No I didn’t take my husband’s name! He has his name and I have mine. Pardon me if I thought my marriage wasn’t merely a transfer of chattel!”

Jessi muddled through the rest of Ms. Census’ interview. After the seemingly endless questions finally concluded, Ms. Census asks, “Your accent – I can’t quite place it. Where are you from?”

Jessi’s Mouth: “Oh, I’m from New York. Most people pick up the Brooklyn accent right away.”
Jessi’s Bubble: “Where do ya think I'm from? The freakin’ Bayou!”

The truth is, Bubble dialogue is best reserved for sitcoms and arguments with your mother-in-law. But the desire to let my Bubble do the talking, can be almost irresistible at times. As a nurse, (or any profession that deals with the public,) my filter needs to be set to Ultra-Sensitive.

Last week, I treated Arlo, a 3-year old boy, who received three small stitches on his chin seven days prior. He’s here today to have the stitches removed. His parents are extremely over-indulgent and very over-the-top nervous. These three small stitches looked like nothing more than a scrape at this point, yet Mom and Dad are asking me a million questions – firing them at me – almost in unison, “Will it leave a scar? Should I rub it? Should I apply hot compresses? Cold compresses? NeoSporin? Aloe? Vitamin E?”

Mouth: “No, none of that is necessary. I’m going to give you an anti-bacterial cream that you’ll use once daily for two weeks."
Bubble: “You forgot about the urine of a wild boar in spring.”

“Are you sure?” Mom is second-guessing, “Arlo is so sensitive and I’m really afraid this will scar and stay reddened.” Mom seems to constantly refer to him by his first name, never once saying ‘he’ and, at this point, I’m really just choking on this kid’s name.

Mouth: “Yes, it’s quite small and it will be red for a while, but it will lighten. Arlo's only three and has a lot of growing to do. It will hardly be noticeable.”
Bubble: “Who names their kid Arlo? Where did they spot that name? An internet search of the Top 10 Hottest Civil War Soldiers?!?”

Now the doctor comes into the exam room and the process of holding down Arlo begins. Considering the doctor needs to use a scissor on his face, gentle restraint is necessary. The kids always protest, but it's for their own good and it's over before you know it - two minutes - tops. Arlo’s mother is extremely weak in the knees at the prospect of her precious Arlo being strapped down, “Do we really have to traumatize him like this?”

Mouth: “The doctor will be using a sharp instrument to pull the stitches. If he’s not restrained, he can get hurt. At his age, he won’t sit still on his own.”
Bubble: “No. We just like to do this. There’s nothing more enjoyable than a three year old screaming and snotting all over me at lunchtime. Really gets my juices going!”

Mom is now standing with her hand on Arlo’s feet and her head between her legs. She is actually more hysterical than Arlo. She is whimpering and moaning all the while, trying to soothe the sweet prince Arlo. Dad is standing in the corner with his hand covering his mouth. He is a peculiar shade of grey-green and looks like he’s just witnessed a train wreck on Christmas morning.

In what I maintain was the longest thirty seconds of my life, Arlo’s stitches are removed. He is unstrapped and sent to Mom’s arms, who is shaking. The child is still screaming beyond belief and Mom and Dad are promising him a new Rolls Royce by the end of business today. Mom reluctantly passes Arlo to Dad who makes a quick exit with the still-hysterical child. As Dad leaves the room, Mom reaches longingly for him. Her melodramatic gesture immediately conjures up memories of some tear-jerky Meryl Streep saga, the name of which escapes me, but I’m sure it was set during the Great Irish Potato Famine or some other historically atrocious time.

Mouth: “He’ll be fine, Mom. Meet me at the front desk for your care instructions and the anti-bacterial cream.”
Bubble: “Freak! It’s not open-heart surgery! What will you do when he breaks an arm playing football? Oops! Never mind - no one named ‘Arlo’ plays football.”

Mom comes to the desk for her instructions. Still visibly shaken, pale and disturbed she asks me, “Will Arlo be permanently damaged emotionally by having been restrained?”

I felt my face twist into a contorted shape of confusion mixed with near-laughter. I feel my filter gurgle and choke.

Bubble & Mouth: “No more than naming him Arlo.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


According to
Meltdown: (noun)
1. The term that describes the melting of a significant portion of a nuclear reactor core due to inadequate cooling of the fuel elements, a condition that could lead to an escape of radiation.
2. (Informal) A disastrous or rapidly developing situation likened to the melting of a nuclear reactor core.
3. (Informal) An emotional breakdown.

My definition:
1. My six and eight year old sons attempting to do homework while tired and hungry at 6:00pm in the evening.
2. My reaction to said sons.

The hours between 8:40 am and 3:30 pm (a.k.a. “bliss”) go by like a flash. It’s a cruel joke. The time after school and before dinner seems to be the longest few hours of my day. When I see the big yellow bus pull in front of the house, I begin to twitch. They exit the bus and descend on the house, dare I say, like locusts. Ravenous and frenzied, I am amazed how two children can go in several directions at once. Both of them telling me about their day – at the same time – seemingly unaware that the other is also speaking. “Can I go? Can I do? Can I have?” is all I seem to hear except, of course, for the other more popular mantra, “Mom… Mom… Mom…”

Knowing they are starving, I offer healthy snacks of fruit to which I get arguments and pleadings for cookies. Many times I relent knowing that just the crinkling sound of the Chips Ahoy package will be enough music to soothe the savage beast. Ahh, but I always seem to forget about the sugar rush that follows.

There have been some "expert" studies done recently that claim sugar doesn’t cause the hyperactivity and that it’s actually the excitement of the snack itself. I beg to differ. And I’d like to meet those so-called experts. I bet all my cookies they are childless.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hot Mama!

Mother’s Day celebrations at school are always fun. Songs are sung, poems are read, cookies and juice passed around by little hands. Cards, pencil holders, flowers made out of cupcake holders and tissue paper. I look forward to this day all spring.

My youngest, who’s in the first grade, really gave me the best present of all. In his stack of drawings and projects was a five-page card filled with wonderful things about Moms. We are the kisser of boo-boos, the chef of all things delicious, the fixer of broken toys, finder of lost shoes, etc.

On page four, was the word “MOTHER” written vertically. Every letter had a word written in its place to describe Mom. M=Most fun, O=Outstanding, etc. I work my way down the list of words, taking my time to decipher the handwriting and phonetic spellings and get to the letter “H.” To my surprise my not-quite-seven-year-old lists “Hot.”

In a room with twenty other mothers whose children put “Happy” and “Helpful,” here I stand with “Hot.” At first I’m embarrassed, then I’m alarmed. Should I be concerned that he even knows how to reference this word? What did the teacher think when she saw that? Was she concerned as to what kind of house I run? I feel the teacher glancing in my direction. She looks like she’s nearly half my age, yet I’m strangely intimidated. She thinks I’m a bad mother, I just know it. In a flash, my mind winds through all the places he could have possibly heard this and I start thinking I should censor his TV a little more. The teacher catches my eye and smiles. I let out a sigh of relief. If she's smiling, maybe she doesn't think I'm a freak.

All of my anxiety quickly gives way to vanity. Truthfully, I’m ecstatic. I know that all kids (especially boys) want to have the prettiest Mom in the class. I’m thrilled to be the pretty Mom… not just the pretty Mom, but the “Hot” Mom. I find myself standing a little taller, shoulders back. Damn it! I am HOT! Even if only in the eyes of my six year old – I’ll take it!

Funny how affected I suddenly become. I am now scanning the room, comparing myself to the other Moms. All of us different shapes and sizes. Some with the latest fashions, haircuts and designer purses and others in sweats and ponytails. Some of us in our 20’s and others in our 40’s. Size 2 to size 22. Actually, I’m right smack in the middle of this cross section of women. Pretty well put together, but not a beauty queen either.

Something very interesting occurred to me: We Moms know that each and every one of us has given birth to the most beautiful child in the world. What we don’t realize is that our children ALL think they have the most beautiful Mommy ever! We’re always so busy admiring them, we don’t realize we’re getting admired right back!

To all Moms out there… we’re all HOT!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Addict Acting?

So it would seem actor David Boreanaz has joined the “Cheating Husband Club” along with Tiger Woods and Jesse James. Of course, this comes on the heels of the other woman coming forward. It would appear she’s one of several extracurricular activities he's had recently. He’s made all requisite apologies and has informed America that he’s working on his marriage. As of today’s news, he’s not yet checked into a treatment center for sex addiction. I can’t help but wonder if these three boys can get a group rate.

To Tiger Woods and Jesse James claiming to be sex addicts, I’ve really just got to say something here: Do you really think we’re buying this? I’d like to be a fly on the wall of every house in America that tuned into the entertainment segment of the news when they announced this. I would bet my paycheck that I’d see the rolling of eyes in every house in the land.

The whole idea is an insult to our intelligence. The picture of an addict is someone who is so desperate they will do anything for a fix of their drug of choice. It could be alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc. They gamble the rent money. They sell their mother’s wedding ring for some crack. They can sink to the depths of hell and live in squalor, all to chase that perfect high. So you’ll excuse me if I’m not buying this. Have you seen the women these men are sleeping with? None of these so-called “addicts” are exactly hitting bottom, as they say.

I don’t think they need sex addiction counseling. I think they just need a reality check. Do they think the sex addict thing will work like a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card with their wives? Even my husband shook his head at this one. I’m just not getting it. I can’t imagine my husband cluing me in on countless affairs over the course of our marriage and me reaching for the phone for the sex addict hotline, “Hello, please direct me to the nearest treatment center. My husband needs help!” Come on ladies, you know what we’re reaching for… a baseball bat, the knife drawer, or something that will really hit him where it hurts – a divorce lawyer.

These men have the world on a string. Success, family, fame and fortune. But outside women throw themselves at them and marriage is no deterrent. Maybe it’s just a case of over-inflated ego? Everywhere they look, women want them. It’s in their faces constantly. OK, I get that, but just because you can doesn’t mean you have to do it.

It’s like that cheesecake in my fridge. I’m dying for it. I am. I have motive (my sweet tooth,) I have opportunity (I’m in the kitchen) and I have reason (because I deserve it.) But, no, I can’t. I won’t.

See – done. How easy was that?

Like everything else in life: You can’t have your cake and eat it, too!

Friday, April 30, 2010

As Plain As The Ear On Your Face

Last night, my 14-year-old daughter brought home a friend from school, Nicole*. Nicole was telling us that she recently moved to a larger home so that her widowed grandmother could live with them. I asked how she liked having her grandmother in the house. She rolled her eyes and began to tell us how her grandmother was always telling her what to do. “Half the time,” she complained, “I don’t even know what she’s talking about!” I asked her what she meant by that and Nicole went on to tell me that her grandmother uses phrases she’s never heard of and she has no idea what any of it means. I knew exactly how Nicole was feeling.

My grandparents raised me and it set me apart from my peers. Sometimes I felt like I was 16 going on 60. I looked at my friends’ parents, whom I’d always viewed as not just younger, but so much cooler. Just like Nicole, I’d often roll my eyes at what I called, the AARP vocabulary coming from my grandparents.

Despite the obvious generation gap that I viewed as problematic, I picked up a lot of the wisdom of yesteryear. There’s a different mindset among the Depression Era generation. Nothing went to waste; they either used it up or wore it out. The carcass of a roasted chicken never went in the garbage – it went into the soup pot with some greens and an onion – a habit I’ve retained all these years, thanks to my grandmother who was an excellent cook. I learned how to sew from my great-grandmother, Nana, who was a piece maker in a garment factory.

And my grandfather, in addition to being the center of my universe, was also an ace mechanic who taught me how to fix my car. He never wanted a mechanic to rip me off just because I was a girl. I learned how to change the oil, brakes, spark plugs, alternator, water pump, etc. But the air filter never needs to get replaced. It’s a waste of money. Take it out, clean it and put it back on.

There was something nostalgic about that generation. The stories are endless as are the little pearls of wisdom I’ve acquired. I like knowing the difference between a month of Sundays versus two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

What does seem to happen among this set, though, is a lot of confusion about these gems. Our common phrases seem to get all mixed up – sometimes even taking on a whole new meaning. Hearing how they spoke, it’s a wonder I learned any of these idioms correctly at all. But this was really the most fun about growing up with them – laughing about it all these years later!

On any given Sunday at my house you could spot my Nana (cooking) and her sister, Aunt Grace (directing) in the kitchen. Aunt Grace would hang over Nana’s shoulder which would annoy her to no end and it wasn’t unusual to hear Nana crow, “Too many pots spoil the stove!”

My grandfather was really the worst offender of vernacular. Once I made the fatal mistake of interjecting when he was speaking and was severely reprimanded, “Hey! Two heads ain’t better than one, you know!” If you get caught in an untruth, be prepared to hear, “You’re lying through your nose!” Hating to wait in lines, he’d often complain in the bank that it took him, “A month of Mays,” to cash his check. My favorite was when we had unexpected company, “So what brings you to this leg of the woods?”

Then there were the idioms that my grandfather not only misspoke, but also changed around to suit him given the situation. I would witness him at every family function approach the nearly-adult grandkids one by one, to give them his full assessment of Their Lives According to Pop. To my twenty-something cousin who was getting deep into credit card debt: “Your whole trouble is…” this was his opener for every pep talk, “Your whole trouble is, you’re digging too many holes!” Then he’d move on, working the room. He’d approach yet another one of us young adults who was trying to plot out a career and offered some advice, “Sometimes, you gotta dig a few holes.” Huh? What did that even mean? We just nodded respectfully, sipping our rum and cokes, looking for an opening to an exit.

It took many years for us to appreciate what he meant. Now we know what he was trying to say: Be careful: Don’t get yourself into a mess you can’t get out of but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there either.

My grandmother was different. She didn’t mince words. She shot from the hip – calling them as she saw them. Her cousin’s daughter became engaged to a well-to-do man. He boasted a first rate, Ivy League education. My grandmother attended their engagement luncheon and reported back. She didn’t like this guy and wasn’t impressed by his education “Send a dolt to college and you’ll wind up with an educated dolt!” Wise words, which I later quoted to an obnoxious Wharton graduate who was interviewing me for a job right after I graduated from high school. Seemed he didn’t appreciate my plans to post-pone college. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I laid that line on him, got up and left the interview. Priceless.

In her sunset years, those years past sixty-five where diplomacy and decorum are no longer a consideration, she’d change the word ‘dolt’ to something far more colorful. I wouldn’t repeat it here for fear that her ghost would reach out and smack me in the back of the head.

As a teenager, I would find myself embarrassed by their demolition of common English idioms. I don’t know what was worse – the World War II lingo or their butchering of it. Either way, I knew my friends’ parents didn’t speak like that and like any teenager, I just longed to fit in. Anytime they’d talk to my friends, I’d cringe, roll my eyes incessantly and do my very best to pull my friends away from their stories about “the good ol’ days” which was littered with a bunch of rusty mixed metaphors. I was convinced that I’d reflect back on this one day and even my memories would be in Black & White.

Now, older and wiser myself, I realize how priceless it was to have lived with them. They gave me an education not found in any university. A strong work ethic, never be afraid to get your hands dirty, a sense of humor including the ability to laugh at myself, patience, temperance, family values and a profound respect for elders.

Did I miss out by not being raised with a younger generation? Nope. The grass isn’t greener across the street.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not-So-Fast Food

Like all of my contemporaries dashing to and fro from home to school to extracurricular activities, I find myself frequenting Dunkin Donuts for my caffeine fix. Amazing how busy I am that I can’t even find the time to put up a pot of coffee in the morning. Ok. In reality, just too lazy to get up five minutes earlier, let alone dig out the travel mug.

I ran into Dunkin Donuts on my way to work one morning recently. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the person in front of me gathering up his order and leaving just as I got to the counter. Perfect timing! I smile at the woman behind the counter and give a hearty ‘Good Morning.’ She’s pleasant enough, returning the gesture. I order a large coffee, milk, no sugar and a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese. Not complicated. The clerk looks at me like I just ordered steak tar-tar and attempted to repeat my order back to me, “Large coffee with cream and sugar and a multi-grain bagel with butter?”

“No. Coffee, milk, no sugar,” at this juncture I shake my head ‘no’ rather dramatically to drive home the fact that I truly don’t want sugar. Hopefully I’ve annunciated ‘milk’ enough as there’s no gesture to distinguish milk from cream. But wait, there’s more: “Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese,” again, with very exaggerated inflection.

“Oh, sorry,” she begins, “Coffee, milk, no sugar. Multi-grain bagel with cream cheese?” OK. Halfway there. Deep breaths. Deep… cleansing… breaths… I muster a polite smile after my sarcastic huff, “NO. WHOLE WHEAT bagel with cream cheese.”

She tries again, “Oh. Ok. Coffee, milk, no sugar. Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese.” I nod affirmatively, smiling politely but my eyes are saying, ding, ding, ding! Johnny, show her what she’s won! Are you kidding? This is what you do… coffee and bagels. Are there really that many variations? How hard is this really? “Yes, Alex. I’ll take bagel and spread options for $1000.”

My quick cup of coffee added eighteen minutes to my commute. Don’t forget – while she eventually got the order correct, now it was up to the prep-person to prepare and bag my order.

I hit all kinds of traffic on the way home from work. By the time I drag myself through the front door, my hungry sons look like they’re about ready to gnaw off a paw. I gather everyone up and hit McDonald’s before karate class. We’re on a tight schedule today. Odds would be against two fast food incidents in one day, but this is my life we’re talking about.

As luck would have it, there’s only one person ahead of me in line as we wait to place our order. I don’t even have the look at the menu – it’s McDonald’s. I’m ready to blurt it out as soon as my turn comes. Two cheeseburger Happy Meals with chocolate milk, Caesar salad, medium Diet Coke. I don’t think I even glanced up at the boards behind the counter. Again, it’s McDonald’s. Simple stuff.

Simple to everyone except the person in front of me. He’s a rather portly fellow, a bit disheveled with high water pants that reveal mismatched socks. He’s carefully pondering his choices. I hear a bunch of “Ummmmm” and “Wait, what about….” I begin to very deliberately huff and puff behind him in an effort to make him aware that there are people behind him and this isn’t exactly The Four Seasons. There are no chef’s specials today. Let’s go!

My sons are beyond antsy. The hungry crankiness gives way to silly restlessness. Others in line are giving my boys the evil eye. I’m trying my best to corral them without making a scene. The scene I really want to make is with this clod in front of me who seems to make up with his discerning palate where he lacks in wardrobe coordination.

I’m screaming, if only in my head, “Good God! We all know you’ve been planning this meal since 10:00am! Clearly, you dressed for the occasion. Big Mac Combo, Large Coke!”


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The REAL Mothers on Facebook

I love my kids! Who doesn’t? Everyone is crazy about their own kids. Everyone thinks their kids are the best and the brightest. My aunt once told me, “There is only one most beautiful baby in the whole wide world and every mother’s got them.” So true. But even our best, most beautiful and brightest little darlings can really get under our skin.

This is never so evident as at the end of a school break. Spring break was over nearly three weeks ago and I'm convinced I'm suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

At the start of the vacation I’m planning day trips to fun places like museums and amusement parks. It will be so much fun to see them really having a ball. Naively, I’m thinking, “Wow, how are we going to do all this fun stuff in just two weeks?” Happily, we roll along to movies, ceramics, the Bronx Zoo, etc. And that’s just Week 1!

Mid-way into Week 2, I’m just trying to keep them busy and out of my hair. The laundry is piling up. The dust bunnies are reproducing and forming colonies under the couch. I’ve run out of snacks and juice – AGAIN! They need to go back! How many more days? I begin having thoughts of just dropping them off at school anyway. Sure, I know it’s closed, but they can just wander the halls, right? It’s safe there – it’s school!

Somehow, someway, I find ten minutes alone with a much-deserved java and log onto Facebook. Ah, let’s see what the gang is up to. There they are – the bevy of phonies. Status line after status line of nauseating gush.

“Boo hoo…. Little Jake goes back to school tomorrow. I’m going to miss him”
“What will I do tomorrow when Amanda returns to school? We had so much fun together.”
“OMG! I loved having ALL 4 of them home! What will I do when they go back????”

Who are these people?!? I enjoy my kids as much as the next mom, but come on! The first part of the school break was great – but people – it’s been two weeks – TWO WEEKS! I want my house back! I want my six hours of not hearing “MOM!” screeched from two flights up. I want my formal living room free of Legos and a dining room table sans Play-Doh. Not to mention the barrage of school projects that had to be completed, which of course, were saved for the last forty-eight hours of this break.

Now, I’m sure there are some mothers out there who genuinely believe what they posted on Facebook, especially after the Prozac kicks in, but you just know most of these Facebook phony posters are barely going to put their cars in park on Monday morning. These poor kids had better learn how to ‘tuck and roll’ from a moving minivan.

“What will I do when they go back?” Is this really a question? It’s rhetorical, right? Because you know what you’re going to do. You’re going to sit in your pajamas an extra hour or so, catching up on your sale catalogs and chatting up with friends on the phone. You’re going to get a manicure to un-do the damage of the last several days of hot gluing school projects. You might even get some pleasure out of strolling through the supermarket and getting everything on your list instead of just tossing in what will hold them over. But in all likelihood, you’ll sit on Facebook and talk about how much you miss the apples of your eye, never admitting that secretly, you’re loving the silence!

Ladies, have we been put under so much pressure to be “the perfect mom” that we even feel the need to make a statement on the internet? I love my “me” time. The time I take for myself makes me better for my kids. I get to recharge my battery so I have some patience. I enjoyed the school break with my kids (at least the first half) but I really enjoyed seeing them go back.

Even June Cleaver wasn’t June Cleaver in real life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ms. Road Rage

The vast majority of us approach life with a sense of purpose and order. Our purposes may differ but we all follow the same basic rituals. Get up, shower, get dressed, go to work, etc. The destinations may vary. The order in which we do these things may vary but basically we are all trudging about our mundane lives without a whole lot of change in routine. Even the occasional routine upset is carried out routinely. We each have our basic priorities that get carried out in some logical form despite the unforeseen interruption by none other than Murphy’s Law.

So far, the day has begun according to plan: Coffee in the cup holder – check. Cell phone within reach and hands-free device all set – check. Bopping to a good tune on the radio ignoring the guy in the car to your left that’s laughing at you – check, check.

And then, he appears. You know the one. The one who is predictably unpredictable. The one waiting to merge. Clearly, he saw me in the distance forging towards him at 110mph but decided at the LAST POSSIBLE MINUTE that this was his point of entry. He hits the gas and cuts right in front of me, in a huge rush to be one car ahead of me – only to go a whopping 40mph!

God! I hate that! Don’t you hate that?!? Why do they do that?!? And it must be noted that I looked in my rear view mirror at precisely this moment and saw not a single soul behind me. Like he couldn’t have waited! Big rush to go nowhere! What’s the matter? Brain not in use when car is in motion?!?

See, it’s this upset of routine that brings out the very non-lady in me. Not just any upset of routine – I can juggle and multi-task with the best of them. This – this is just stupidity that cannot be tolerated! The sheer rage of this moment of having to jam on the brakes seems to paradoxically accelerate my mouth. The barrage of profanely peppered insults I hurl at this inane halfwit would make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

This venomous pseudo-argument I have with this mentally out-to-lunch, spoiler of my morning, would probably sound hysterical as some stand up bit in a smoke-filled, hole-in-the-wall comedy club, but I’m a card carrying member of the PTA! However, I must say, I’m probably at my funniest when I’m incensed. Had anyone been in the car with me they’d be shocked but laughing. Then again, had anyone been in the car with me I’d never let loose.

Alas, all my best material is wasted on the steering wheel.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fart Frenzy

There are some upsides to divorce. One of the best are the alternate weekends that my two school age sons spend with their dad. It provides a much-deserved break from the pint-sized invaders of my sanctity. My husband and I utilize the time well eating out at great restaurants trying a variety of red wines out for size. On a Sunday, we bask in the quiet sometimes not even speaking to each other aside from asking, “More coffee, honey?"

Then Sunday night comes. They return. Full of boundless energy. It's as if the transition from their father’s house to mine gives them renewed strength for out of control silliness and attacks of the giggles. Two boys ages 7 & 8. If you have any experience with this population you know what it's all about. It's about farts.

This bizarre bodily function that we adults try so desperately to avoid is the very topic of choice for young boys. Most adults never address the issue of flatulence, in fact, we will deny that it even occurs. We go through great lengths to avoid it, never admitting it and forever blaming the dog. We all know that even Mother Teresa farted in her habit but it’s never open for discussion.

Tell this to my sons who want nothing more than a constant fart-fest! I came to believe that the very word sends them into a fit of hyena-esque laughter. It takes me an eternity to calm them down all the while lecturing them as to why such humor is inappropriate. Surely it doesn’t help matters that their father, my ex-husband, is the Pull-My-Finger king! When I poo-poo his humor (pun intended) he counters with, “But farts are funny,” which then sends my sons into orbit and starts the cycle all over again.

Are they really that funny? Against my lady-like nature, I put this to the test. My sons entered the kitchen after school and I said nothing. “Hi mom,” they greeted. I answered, “FART!” To my chagrin, they doubled over in laughter, faces purple and couldn’t utter a word for nearly twenty minutes. So it really was that simple! Now that I’ve set this in motion and there would be no end to it.

"OK, OK. Joke's over," I say in an attempt to get it to stop, but they are just roaring! It would seem the only thing funnier than a fart is Mom’s distain for the fart jokes. It's pretty much out of my hands at this point. They are in full-on hysterics and the only word they are able to eek out between breaths is of course, "fart."

I must admit, to see them laughing, to hear their squeaks and squeals, does my heart good, no matter the topic. Something came over me – seemingly beyond my control. Their laughter is contagious and I, too, am now laughing at the fart jokes. Guess if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Quarter More

Some old jokes never die. The best jokes are private jokes. Maybe it was your best friend, your mate, your sibling – whomever. It’s usually the result of some long, funny story that only the two of you were there for – the kind of story that when attempting to explain it to someone else loses all humor in the translation. Guess you had to be there. Typically, you and that special someone are the stars of your joke and between you two stars, a great, riotous belly laugh can be conjured up at a moment’s notice. Even a million years later. Even at a funeral.

My friend Jason and I both have a great sense of humor and serve as each other’s best props for a one-of-a-kind comedy show of a relationship. Twenty years ago, movie tickets were under $10, so Jason and I saw LOTS of movies. We went to nearly every weekend. You’d think I’d remember some of the movies we saw, but I couldn’t name one. What I do recall vividly - the U/A really, really wanted you to by the large sized soda and popcorn. They didn’t want you to buy a medium.

Each and every concession worker at this huge complex was robotically programmed to offer you the large even after you’d requested the medium. The gimmick? “You can have the large for a quarter more.” Yes, for a mere 25 cents you could upgrade your medium popcorn and soda to a large. But Jason and I didn’t want the large. It was simply too much. Too much to carry. Too much to hold in our laps and way too much to consume. As it was, the medium was nearly a half-gallon of soda! That didn’t stop the counter-drones, “Are you sure? It’s only a quarter more.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Jason would say, very authoritatively with a smirk. We’d make our way into the movie and find a seat, Jason always preferring the aisle. We loved the previews. To us, the previews were the best part. The more previews, the better. There were usually only four previews. On the rare occasion there were more than four previews I would ask Jason if perhaps he had paid a quarter more. And so it began.

Any extra anything anywhere was undoubtedly a “quarter more.” If the waiter replenished the bread basket, it was a “quarter more.” Second helping at the Chinese Buffet, a “quarter more.” I once bought a new pair of shoes and the shop owner tossed in those things you stick at the back near the heel so your foot won’t slip out. You guessed it, a “quarter more.” At every mention of a “quarter more” we would laugh till we cried.

It’s been more than twenty years since those days at the U/A but some things just never leave you.

Last year, Jason and I found ourselves, quite unexpectedly, at the funeral of a mutual friend, Joe*. We each didn’t know the other would be there despite talking to each other at least a couple of times a month. The deceased had a huge family and the room was very crowded. Jason and I sat together towards the back of the viewing area. The room was rather quiet except for the muffled conversations going on at the front. We noticed the funeral director shifting some things around, fiddling with a partition.

I turned to Jason and whispered with a surprised look on my face, “Wow! He’s opening up the second room for all the people.” Jason without missing a beat flashes his brilliant smile, “Old Joe must have paid a quarter more.”

*name changed

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On Arrival

At the behest of my very best friend, I am here. I am blogging.

I've always written - mostly to myself - seemingly talking myself down from a ledge during troubled times. I guess had I literally talked to myself I would be in a padded room with that white jacket - you know the one where the arms wrap around you so you can hug yourself.

Instead, I channeled my garden variety insanity into the laptop. The friend of which I speak, my nearest and dearest for about twenty-five years, has been gently nudging me (ok, she's been a nagging, harassing beast) about getting my thoughts and insights out to the general population.

My life... no different from so many others. A woman, 40, a divorce/remarriage statistic, own my piece of the suburban American Dream Pie, keeping my feet wet in my chosen career once a week which had otherwise been derailed by family obligations, pick up his dry cleaning, clean the kitchen, promise in vain to get to this month's PTA meeting. The usual.

But doesn't a funny thing always happen on the way to the supermarket?