Monday, February 28, 2011


The summer before I went to the University of Kentucky, my roommate got into another, better, school and I found out that I was going to college all alone.  "All alone" is really an operative phrase, because most of my high school (the ones who were attending college and not jail) and all of Louisville would also be there - but it's all relative, right?  It was too late in the summer to exchange the usual letters with my new roommate, so I entered Blanding Towers, that housed over 600 women, not knowing the identity of my roommate, my freshman year.

I went early because of Sorority Rush, so I was able to pick my bed and set up all of my stuffed animals according to my appreciation for them.  I spread out my matching bedding, organized all of my sorority paraphernalia after I'd joined, and organized my closet full of preppy clothes.  There was the green and navy section, the pink and green section, and the Kappa section.  I had bows to match everything.

Enter Jackie.  Jackie was a 22-year-old, who had been to two state colleges already, through the magic of financial aide, and she was dating a 30-year--old father of three who worked at a liquor store on campus. ( I later learned that Paul was her third in a row, of live-in boyfriends, and she decided to go back to school because he couldn't afford an apartment with her and his child support.)  She entered our room for the first time with Paul at her side and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth as she introduced herself.  Then, she promptly asked me to wait outside so she could "say good-bye to Paul."  I was mortified.

Jackie had been around the block a few times and we could not be more mismatched. My friends on the dorm floor and I started calling her, "Jackehhh" as we shook our heads,  because that is the way she pronounced her own name as she exhaled smoke from her orifices.   I would actually make her walk several feet behind me if we were walking to class together, because she would always smoke on the way.  She would just laugh and say, "OK.  I'll catch up to you when I finish my smoke."

She wore gray jeans, flannel t-shirts with Paul's rocker t-shirts underneath, and dirty Reebok tennis shoes everyday.  I, on the other hand, preferred sorority sweatshirts with a fancy round-collared shirt peeking out over the top, Levi boyfriend jeans rolled up just so, and ballet flats - all with a coordinating bow and belt.

I can't tell you how many times I would come back from class to find her scrawled "please knock" sign on our door indicating that she and Paul were in the throws of one of his impromptu conjugal visits on his break from the liquor store.  Jackie and I were friends, though, and Paul would bring us treats from the store and we would stay up late talking about our lives.

My stories were filled with upcoming Grab-a-Dates and boys. who I identified by their names and fraternity houses,  and hers always included Paul and his kids and how Paul was having trouble keeping a balance between the two.  Apparently, Paul was "separated".  She found me shallow and pretentious (she was right), and I thought she wasn't self-conscious enough, and had too many bills.

When I think of Jackie now, I remember talking about financial aide a lot.  She seemed to always be looking for that check or had plans for the check or something.  She was "robbing Peter to pay Paul" as my mother would say - only not her "Paul" - the government "Paul".

One night, Jackie came home destroyed because Paul had finally done what we all knew he was going to do - break up with her - and she was devastated.  "When I think of loving him in the back of the cooler at the store," she would start and we would wince and change the subject.

I loved Jackie and I did not like to see her upset, so my sorority sister down the hall and I promptly tried to cheer her up by making her over in our fraternity-lovin' images. We giggled and cackled as we dressed her in what we thought would be "more appropriate" attire for campus life.  When we were done, she was half in the bag, reeked of Ralph Lauren perfume and generic cigarettes, and was in head to toe Laura Ashley.

We set out for the bars and used her to sneak us in, because she was the only one with a genuine ID. When I think of that night it was like an Eliza Doolittle moment.  We were presenting her to Greek society, only she failed miserably.  At the end of the night, we were literally peeling her off of the bar floor, and carrying her home as she sobbed and smoked and lamented her life with Paul.  You can take the girl out of her desperate, underprivileged experience, but you can't take the desperate, underprivileged experience out of the girl.

Later that year, I was at a fraternity party, dancing on the dance floor as I was prone to do, when someone grabbed me and said that my "roommate" was asking for me in one of the rooms.  "She's really messed up.  Is that really your roommate?" they asked.

I bolted from the dance floor, mid-interpretive dance, humiliated at what was happening to ME.  There was Jackie slumped over in one of the bunk beds, smoking a cig, and apparently in a blackout.

"What are you doing here?" I hissed, trying to keep my sorority girl composure.
 "I miss Paul so much," she slurred, "I usually go to the liquor store on Friday nights (when Paul worked) and I didn't have anywhere to go, so I came to see you."

Now Jackie and I were great friends.  We studied together.  We drank together.  We knew everything about one another's lives - but this was all in the privacy of our dorm room.  Our social lives were entirely separate.  I thought she understood this arrangement, but it was becoming clearer and clearer to me that she didn't get the memo.

"You need to go home, Jackie.  You are not supposed to be here.  You're wasted and you are embarrassing me."  I whispered as I helped her to the door and put her in a cab.  I gave the cabbie money and our address, "Now, I'll see you in the morning.  Go sleep it off."
 "I'm so sorry, " she moaned as I sent her on her way.

Right before finals, I broke my ankle and it required surgery, so I  had to leave school early.  The girls in the dorm actually raided my closet and stole stuff from me before my parents were able to get back up to school to retrieve everything.

I found this out from Jackie, my only visitor from school that summer, while I was laid up.  She was leaving school because she was denied further financial aide at UK and she had been accepted into a junior college near her home.  My parents and I gave her our dorm refrigerator and wished her luck.

When the door had closed behind her, my dad, in his infinite wisdom turned to me and said, "Now that is a real friend.  You will be lucky to have three of her in your lifetime."  He was absolutely right like he always was, but it was too late.  I didn't deserve someone as loyal as Jackie.  I had too much growing up to do before I could be worthy of someone like her.

My favorite liquor store in town is the state liquor store on 5th Avenue.  You have to pay in cash and it makes me feel seedy when I open the door for my three kids and sidle up to the money machine in front.  They usually have good cheap alternatives for the expensive liquor of the moment.  Three Olives vodka is a great example of this.  My neighbor, we'll call her "Megan", is a connoisseur of sorts, when it comes to Three Olives.  She'll do a free commercial for you, if you ask nicely.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My dog, Elaine and Mr. MacLeod

Brad and I used to have this great dog, Elaine, that we got in graduate school in Lexington.  We were in school and moving around a lot and we wanted something to love, but we weren't ready to have children yet.

We could not afford her, but one uncharacteristically Spring day in March, we perused the newspaper and found someone selling Labrador Retrievers out in the country.  Elaine was the last one left because she had a skin disease.  The breeder explained that when you pet her that large chunks of fur would break off.  The vet who had treated her, thought this condition was temporary, but she couldn't be sure.  The breeder was just going to keep her if we didn't want her because apparently her children had grown fond of this puppy with sporadic fur patches. Elaine was offered to us at $125.

Brad and I determined that our "safe word" would be "misdemeanor" on the way out to the country.  Therefore, if one of us wanted to stop and the other one didn't in the heat of the moment, we would not be saddled with a dog that one of us wanted and the other one didn't.

Well, we met the breeder at this basketball arena where her son was playing and there was Elaine.  She was pathetic.  She didn't even look like a lab.  She was a mosaic of fur and raw, pink skin, but the price was right and my husband picked her up and declared, "We'll take her!" before I could figure out how to work the word "misdemeanor" into a sentence.

We made all of our parenting mistakes with Elaine.  If we had had a child in Lexington, he/she would be in a foster home somewhere.

That dog was super athletic, though.  She would jump off of a doc running full speed to retrieve a tennis ball.  She would jump five feet off of the ground fifty yards away and contort her body in such a way as to defy gravity to catch a ball in her mouth.

One of my many professional incarnations during graduate school was as a baseball official for this man that I worked for at an advertising agency at the time.  He ran a collegiate baseball league about 20 miles from Lexington and, in addition to my burgeoning career in advertising,  I was in charge of overseeing each game.  My boss was also a scout and he created this league so that scouts would be able to see his son play and he might obtain a scholarship.

I loved my boss, Don.  He had been hugely successful in the advertising business, specializing in equine promotions.  He had been super stressed out and was overweight and had recently suffered a heart attack. He explained to me that he gave most of it all up so that he could focus on his kids and their dreams.  He kept a few key clients to "pay the bills" of his agency - but what he loved was his family and their goals and to put it in his words "stopped giving a shit about all of the rest." I guess a near death experience will do that to you.

Anyway, I HATED being a commissioner.  I would drive 20 minutes after my other dead end job to the ball field and play catch with Elaine for hours while the boys played their games.  I had many entrepreneurial adventures along the way.  There was the "concession stand" idea where I put together a makeshift concession stand out of a large cooler, a small Weber grill and a folding table after stocking up at Sam's with cokes and other junk.

This was followed only by the "t-shirt" idea where I had league t-shirts printed up for the parents of the players.  Both failed miserably or were impossible to control simultaneously with my new baby, Elaine.

Elaine was an absolute nightmare.  I took her everywhere with me like people do with their kids nowadays and I would receive pitying looks from the parents in the stands when she got away from me to interrupt the soccer game next door by taking over the ball and running into the adjacent woods with it.  She was also fond of stopping baseball games, when she again broke loose to catch a fly ball in her mouth.  She was out of my control, but true to my parenting form at the time, I looked the other way and figured it was everyone else's problem.

One day I arrived at the park early and to my delight there were menacing clouds above that, in my mind, threatened to cancel the game that was to begin in 15 minutes.  A flash thunderstorm broke out and along with the other parents and players, I sat in my car and waited for the sweet sound of hail to begin.  I had never prayed so hard for anything in my life up to that point.  I was logging 4-5 nights at the ballpark and it's benefit of allowing me to leave work early was not worth it's price.  Elaine's hot stinky breath began fogging up my windows and I was desperate to go home.

In a large sweeping gesture, the clouds opened up to reveal the sun, and the parents and players began exiting their vehicles and warming up for the game.  Desperate and delusional, I burst from my vehicle, Elaine trailing behind me,  ran to the pitcher's mound waving my hands wildly, and declared it too muddy to play.  I told the coaches, the players and their parents that we were all to go home under these dreadful and unfortunate circumstances.

They all stopped for a minute, stared at me quizzically, and then continued to unload their equipment and pretend pitch to each other.  I started to cry then and got into my car (this was even before beepers, I think, or maybe only rich people had those.  I can't remember.) and raced frantically to the nearest payphone to call Brad.

"What is the matter with you?" he whispered into the phone at his internship.  "You can't call off the game.  You don't even have the authority to do that.  You are just supposed to be a warm body that unlocks the gate and occasionally sells hotdogs.  Those parents paid for their kids to be in that league.  It's beautiful outside.  It hasn't even rained out here.  No go back and do your job.  Ron's been good to you."

Still frantic, I pleaded with him, "I can't go back there now.  I just made a huge ass out of myself.    They were so mean to me,"  I sobbed. "They just kept practicing, Brad."

He was stifling his laughter now and I could just picture the smirk on his face, "Listen, don't freak out. The rent is due this weekend and you need to keep your jobs.  Go back and just tell everyone that you didn't know any better and apologize."

So, I went back, set up my concession stand with my hyperactive dog and waited for the double-header to be over.  From time to time, the parents in the bleachers would bring up the episode by saying things like, "Hey, I think I see a rain cloud.  We better pack up."  or "You sure you wanna unpack your Weber today, they say it's fixin' to storm."  Everybody would have a good hearty laugh at my expense, I would turn red, and then they would purchase one of my overpriced, undercooked hot dogs.

The next day when I came into work at the agency, we had a team meeting around the conference table.  I was super nervous and humiliated, but I was young, so I also operated on this perpetual level of cluelessness that insulated me from the rest of the world. 

Mr. McLeod began the meeting by bellowing, "What in the hell happened last night at the ballpark, Johnna?"  He was coughing now through fits of laughter.  "I had parents calling me, telling me that you tried to call off a double header after a little thundershower...That must have been quite a scene, girl.  I bet you learned your lesson."

Everyone at the table who had apparently been holding their breath up up to that point, burst into guffaws of laughter.  " Now after the meeting, I want you to come in my office and I am going to teach you how to write equine copy.  Then I'll let you take the rest of the afternoon to deliver a proof to Calumet Farms where I have scheduled a tour for you."

You know, until you are a little older and you gain some perspective, do you truly understand who has been the most influential in your life.  They may be influential in their kindness, or influential in their acceptance, or influential professionally.

Mr. MacLeod was all of these.  In researching for this post, I discovered that Ron MacLeod, founder of Bluegrass Collegiate Baseball and MacLeod Advertising, had passed away in a hospice facility in September of 1997 at the age of 66.

Elaine is gone, too.  We had her for 12 years and I found her one morning at the bottom of our stairs. Thankfully, she died in her sleep.  She taught me how to be a parent by learning from your mistakes.

Rest in peace, you two, and thank you for the integral role you have played in my life.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


For some reason, I have had a parade of shitty bosses in my life.  I am sure this has nothing to do with my knack for insubordination.  The worst of them (and this is difficult to chose just ONE) was well, we'll just call him "Rich".  He was the most unbalanced individual I have ever met.  Luckily for me, he was in charge of my livelihood, and eventually my mental health.

He was my manager when I worked in pharmaceutical sales and he ruled by fear. He made Qaddafi look like Indira Gandhi.  Rich would leave you fear based voicemails that he placed at 4 o'clock in the morning. You quickly learned NEVER to ask him a work-related question, even when you were first hired, because he would FREAK OUT on you that you did not know the answer in the first place. When I had ride alongs with him I would have stomach problems for three days before and three days after.  One minute he was your best friend, making jokes and laughing with you, and the next minute he was screaming at you to pull over so that he could get out of the car and "cool off".  He would work his way up into a frenzy because during a call with your doctor you didn't spray Nasonex in the doc's face to highlight it's pleasant smell that we were promoting that week.  In a word, Rich was NUTS.

Rich was in his mid thirties, lived alone, and was of Italian descent from "Philly" - which he referred to far too much to be healthy.  He would relay stories of dates he would go on and I would imagine the poor girl calling her best friend in tears after that date, convinced she escaped a budding serial killer by the skin of her teeth.

To this day, I cannot pass Strongsville (where we would taken written assessments) without having post traumatic stress symptoms.  He had lived in his house for over two years and yet, stacked, half empty boxes spilled out in every room of his house.  It was as if a large Italian rat had gotten into a storage facility.  He had a bed, a futon for a couch, and a large television.  I took one look at that mess and understood that this man was incapable of taking care of himself. 

The writing was on the wall when I interviewed with him but I was so desperate to get out of my current job with a psycho boss, I must have subconsciously suppressed all the warning signs of an abuser.  In retrospect, all of my immediate bosses were malevolent with the exception of my last one, who was a woman, and by then, I was just this shell of a person and was too far gone. At that point I was only qualified to do menial, repetitive tasks like breastfeeding and changing diapers.

The other reps and I in my district would get together and compare war stories when we had meetings and one was worse than the next.  We would howl laugh at Rich's insanity and then everyone would collectively get quiet because we all knew that we were in a desperate situation - controlled by a lunatic.

Once, at a team meeting, he made us all watch the story of the USA Hockey Team who defeated Russia in the 1980 Olympics.   Apparently, the coach's technique involved uniting his team by mistreating them so that they bonded together in their hatred toward him.  Rich was exuberant during the film.  He would look back at us around the conference table and nod, clap and smile.  We were mystified.

I do not know if you are familiar with the art of pharmaceutical sales but it is an autonomous profession.  You do not work with your district on a daily basis because you have individual territories.  His logic was completely off, but the only person in that room that did not realize it was Rich - our leader.

Of course, his tyranny had the opposite effect on me that it was intended to have.    The one thing that mattered to Rich was that we were out working 12 hour days and that we ate, slept, and drank the job - like him. The second I dropped Rich off after a long, manic-depressive ride along, I would take the rest of the week off.   If I didn't, I would have a nervous breakdown.  (I guess they don't call it that anymore, though.  Today, I would check myself into a facility for sexual addiction.)

I became pregnant when I was working for Rich and he was constantly telling me how I needed to "work twice as hard" as an unpregnant person because I was taking maternity leave.  One day, we were in Westerville at "lunch" going over my review for the day. He had made me wait until the end of the day to eat because I was growing another life in my body and that pissed him off.  He was berating me in the middle of the diner, while I looked down at my swollen belly and counted the hours until my maternity leave.

"How do you like this?" he hissed as he turned my computer around to reveal a horrific review for the day. 
"I think it's great." I answered as I glanced at the computer.
"I don't understand you," his blood pressure was beginning to rise and the color was reflected in his face, "you show all of the signs of hearing me - eye contact, appropriate responses and body language - but you clearly are not listening to my instructions because you are not developing as a rep like you should be.  Just read over this and sign it at the bottom."

 Now I am not the most political person, but I knew that by law, he could not fire me while I was pregnant.
"Oh, I don't need to read it, Rich.  That is what I have been doing ALL day - imagining what my review would say and I'd assume I'm spot on." I signed his paperwork and gave him a big toothy smile.  "You ready?"

It had begun to pour outside and my inexpensive, ugly, pharmaceutical minivan was parked in the back of the lot.  We walked out the door and stood under an awning with several other people and waited for the rain to ease up.

"You wanna make a run for it?" he screamed over the pounding rain and thunder.
I was 7 months pregnant and looked like I was three months overdue.
"Okay!" I replied keeping up my faux merriment routine.
"No YOU.  YOU go and get the car and then come back to pick me up.  Hurry up.  Go NOW so we can make some more calls."  It was 5 o'clock on a Friday.

To the astonishment of all of the other people under the awning,  I ran the best I could, big and pregnant, in the pathetic maternity business suit I wore everyday, in a thunderstorm, to my stupid minivan.  I climbed up in the driver's seat, made a huge circle around the parking lot to the side door where a small group of people with gaping mouths stood next to Rich.  I stopped right in front of him, smiled my demonic fake smile again, power locked all the doors and sped off.

Old Westerville is now called "Uptown Westerville",  and is one of my favorite places in Columbus. There are great little mom and pop restaurants and precious locally-owned boutiques that I perused while mentally giving Rich the middle finger.  Spend a few hours there when you have the chance.  It will take you that long to really explore and appreciate the area.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Becoming a Man in America

Because my husband has traveled to Japan quite a bit, this opened some sort of door for his business partners to send their children to America to stay with us for an extended period of time.  Our first such houseguest was Kosumasa, or Koz, which we nicknamed him - the son of the owner of the Japanese company that my husband does business with.

Koz had never been out of Tokyo prior to his trip, he played the tuba,  and he did not speak ONE LICK of English.  We were under the impression that he had been taking English classes.  He either dropped out or failed or both - unless the only thing on the English 101 Curriculum in Japan is to smile and nod.

To be clear, Koz slept 16 - 18 hours a day.  When he was not pretending to want eggs and then refusing them once I prepared them, he was on his ipod or computer.
"Koz, I am making eggs.  Would you like some eggs?  You know. Egg. Egg. Egg.  You eat it.  You know, egg."
"Oh yes, egg.  Yes I wan egg."  I make the eggs.  "Oh no egg.  Jus coffee.  Yes.  Sank you."

I would tiptoe around the house all morning and try to keep my children (who were ages 1 and 3) as quiet as possible. During his 4 waking hours, I could not communicate with Koz, and he could not communicate with me.  Nothing seemed to impress or interest him.  At first he was polite and was game to see the various touristy aspects of Columbus, Ohio ("Koz, this is Ohio Stadium.  You, you're out of cigarettes?...ok).  After a while, he would just ask if he could go back to his room.   I had two very young children and a Japanese teenager for three weeks that summer. It was maddening. 

About mid-way through his stay, Koz emerges from his room and wants to borrow my bike with the baby seat on the back.  Okay,  Koz cannot read road signs, he does not know the neighborhood and he is used to driving on the other side of the road. 
"Of course you can take my bike."  I reply after a series of nods and bows and pointing in the garage.  "You don't mind taking the baby, do you?" Koz nods and smiles indicating "yes", of course.

So I watch him ride away with his new ipod blaring God knows what and pray that there is not an international incident in my immediate future. After a stressful 45 minutes, Koz comes back with Subway and a six pack.  This was the beginning of his rebellious phase.  I guess 8 days at the Underwood household will do that to you.

"Koz, could you not smoke in your room?  My daughter has asthma and it smells bad.  You may go outside.  You know, outside."  I would point to the open window that he was blowing smoke rings out of.
Smiling, "Oh yes.  Outside.  Very butiful."He lit a second cig off of his first one as he pondered the beauty of my backyard.  On went his headphones and pop went the tab of his tallboy Coors Light.

I was DONE.  I had another week to go and I could not fathom another day of this sleeping til noon, beer swigging, chain smoking nightmare.  When he went on his daily "Subway run" on my Mombike, I would enter his room and clean out his ashtrays and throw away his empties.  I discovered that he had started drinking our beer, as well, and he was sneaking down to the basement bar in the middle of the night. I assumed he must be miserable. Brilliant.

"You have got to take Koz today!" I would plead with Brad in the driveway when he was leaving for work.
"I'm not gonna take him.  You take him.  I took him to work yesterday and all he did was sleep in the conference room and chain smoke.  Take him to the mall or something.  I don't know.  I've got to go to work."

Well, to make a long story short, I took Koz and my two tiny children to the Mall.  Staying true to my character, I locked my keys in the car.  It was a very emotional scene between my husband and I when he had to leave work to come and get us.

To smooth things over, I dug out this old pirated Pulp Fiction movie that happened to have Japanese subtitles.  (Random, I know, but we had this because when we lived in Boulder, this techie I was friends with, was always selling pirated movies from Japan.)  Koz stayed in his room for the next 36 hours.

Shortly thereafter, we put Koz on a plane and he went back to Tokyo.  Brad and I had no idea what he was going to say to his parents when he got there.  

A few weeks later we received an elaborate gift (two traditional Japanese robes, two sizes too small) with a note that basically said that Koz had become a MAN while on his visit to the U.S. Apparently, becoming a man IS universal.  It means laying around all day, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes while watching Pulp Fiction on a loop.

The only thing that I remember sparking any interest in Koz was when we took him to see Cirque Du Soleil. I am a big fan.  Dralion just finished in Columbus. You can see it in Indy beginning August 3rd. Sorry, I guess I should have done this post earlier!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Keep your daughter off The Bachelor

Chris Rock has a hilarious stand up bit he does about keeping his daughters "off the pole".  I saw this routine live  at Veteran's Memorial when I was pregnant with my second child.  My husband got the tickets for us for our anniversary because he said that I hadn't laughed in a really long time.

I don't know about YOU,  female audience, but I am not a good-humored pregnant person. This was especially true during my second pregnancy where I remained in a constant state of wanting to rip everyone's eyeballs out of their sockets.

Recently, the girls were asking me what I craved when I was pregnant with each of them.   I was obsessed with watermelon during my first pregnancy.  I would eat it every single day and night and also in bed, which my husband LOVED.  When I became pregnant the second time, I went to get my old maternity clothes out and they all had watermelon stains down the front of them - the most saturated being my pajamas, natch.

ANYWAY, we were all laughing and recalling how I used to make them go to Steak 'n' Shake all the time when I was pregnant with my last child because they would be "bitching and moaning" about having had Steak 'n' Shake the previous night and I would bribe them with promises to the Dollar Aisle at Target and then never follow through.  Mother of the Year, I got it locked down again this year.  So my middle child, who is very sensitive, was pulling on my arm and begging me to tell her what I craved when I was pregnant with HER.  I had to make something up on the spot, because the true answer was bourbon.

Rock's show was at Veteran's Memorial.  If you haven't been there, it is really old and the seats are all connected so if someone's movements are exaggerated, (say like the person next to me who leaned forward and backward as she clapped her hands like she was rowing down the Scioto River) then the entire row of seats would do a sort of wave and you would be propelled backward and forward along with her.  I was HUGE pregnant, craving bourbon, and irritable from the continuous "wave" that I was being forced to do during  the first half of Rock's performance.  But then he started talking about his main goal as a parent was to keep his two daughters off the pole and I was enthralled.

His point was that many fathers set goals for their daughters like graduating college, marrying well, avoiding drugs and teen pregnancy - whatever, but what he decided early on was that he did not want two closets full of clear heels and two girls who are "working their way through college."  It was hilarious and poignant, at the same time.  I was high-fiving the rower next to me and pumping my fat fist in the air. 

Well, I happen to have rather unconventional goals for my daughters, as well.  One of my main objectives is to keep them off of The Bachelor.  That show is the end of the civilization as we know it.  As I mentioned earlier, my middle daughter is the most emotional of the bunch.  I have NEVER seen anyone with emotions so close to the surface.  They are just so accessible.  My intention is for her to just skip college and I will send her straight to Hollywood where she will undoubtedly land a prime spot on a soap opera.  This is the preferred scenario.

A more likely one might be that she will land, instead, a plum spot on The Bachelor. My husband and I have envisioned her being "let go" during a rose ceremony the first night and her balling outside by the fountain because she "felt a real connection" with the bachelor and could "actually see a future" with him for they had that intense one on one where she recited that poem she had written for him, even though she didn't know who he was yet.  The poem was called "Prospective Husband" and it felt so right when she sat on his lap and read it to him.

That is the best case scenario.  Worst case - she makes it to the hometown dates.  How painful it would be to watch your desperate shell of a daughter hold hands with a man she just met on a game show in your living room after he had just consummated his other relationship in Pittsburgh the night before.  I love it when the parents won't be any part of the hometown date and she has to take The Bachelor to her cousin's house or something.  I always think to myself, "Way to go, parents."  I mean, even if she does end up marrying the poor sap, it is still humiliating all the way around.  I don't care how cute you think the Ali's shoes are, something is wrong with her if she is willing to go on that show. 

There is just something wholly unnatural about broadcasting your escapades while you are on vacation.  I mean, I wouldn't want my dad to see what I do on vacation now - let alone when I am 25 and on a psuedo honeymoon.  (Don't worry, Dad, I'm just freestylin', here, pandering to the audience, if you will.  I am always just like I am when we go to Disney World.)

My friend, "Alissa" and I were in Chicago once when she was sure that she recognized the bartender.   "It is not like I know him in real life," she explained, "It's like I know him from T.V."  After a little probing, we got him to admit that he was a contestant on Big Brother.  He was on the first season and was cast as "the villain".

"Make no mistake," he said to us as he lined up six shotglasses for the booth full of cougars in the corner, "There is nothing REAL about reality television."  With the exception of The Amazing Race and the first few seasons of survivor, all of them are scripted and often actors are recruited to "keep things interesting".

MY favorite reality show is Flipping Out.  It is a reality show about a guy, Jeff Lewis, on Bravo.  He is an accomplished designer who used to flip houses for a profit, but in the economic downturn, began taking on clients and doing renovations.  He is gay.  He is talented.  He is damaged.  And he is hilarious!  If you haven't yet seen it, check it out.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Shoney's Happy Hour is better than their brunch

My husband and I met at the University of Kentucky when I was 19 years old.  We met at his fraternity house,  during a house party in which my favorite band from Louisville was playing, The Merry Pranksters.  (We also had this band at our wedding, much to my mother's dismay.)  I came after work and still had my "High on Rose" uniform on - black jeans, high on rose t-shirt and cowboy boots.  I later got fired for this very outfit because I did not adhere to the dresscode, but let me back up.

I was dancing with this dude in my English class, did a 360 degree turn (which was part of my fraternity party interpretive dance routine) and I opened my eyes (yes, I used to close my eyes during the turn) and there stood Brad Underwood, my future husband.  With a glazed look in his eye he spoke the first of one hundred million sentences he would speak to me in my lifetime.

"What sorority are you in?"  It was love at first sight.  I could not have found this profoundly deep man in the middle of the dance floor at the Delt house by happenstance.  He was sweeping me off my feet while "Goin down the road feelin bad" played in the background.  It was kismit.

One thing led to another and as the legend goes, his friend, we'll call him "Andy" took one look at us "making out" on the steps and said he thought, "there goes my best friend forever."  Yes.  I was THAT hot.  I reeked of stale tortilla chips, fajita smoke, and sweat.  Who wouldn't be into that?  Well, Brad certainly was and I have three children to prove it.

"Andy" was the best man in our wedding.  We went out the other night with he and his wife (who I love) and we were reminiscing about college.  "Andy" is like going out with a 75-year-old man, now.  He wants his drinks and his food a certain way and he is extremely opinionated, but in a non-threatening way, if that makes sense. (I once had a waitress ask me if my "wife", referring to Andy, would like another drink.)  He is exasperating, but you get the meal, or appetizer, or drink in it's best form, only you're afraid to eat it because there might be spit on it.   You can completely ride him about it, too,  because he is good-natured at the same time.  It is a bizarre combination, but one that I appreciate. 

Anyway, I was really good friends with Andy because I was always with Brad and they were roommates.  There were always a cast of characters at their house and it was always a good time.  Andy made the best bloody marys in the world and as I told him the other night, he never ONCE made me feel uncomfortable or imposing in any way - and he COULD have, I was ALWAYS there.  For that, I am endeared to him forever.

So Andy worked at Shoney's for a while and let's just be honest, that color scheme does not flatter anyone. When he would walk in, in his maroon, brown and gold uniform, we could just never get used to it. We would just lose it when Andy would walk in after his shift.  Brad and I seemed always able to compose ourselves for Saturday brunch, though. That is when Shoney's held their "friends of Andy eat free" promotion. I think it was that "fish out of water" phenomenon, where if you take something out of its natural habitat, it is almost unrecognizable.

Of course, Andy was loved by everyone who worked there and he worked harder than any server in the history of Shoney's.  The problem was that when Andy went in to work, he did not always make hygiene his top priority.  Andy quit one day when he showed up for brunch and they wanted him to go home and change because his uniform was too dirty and disheveled.  He never came back, and that night his coworkers threw him a party.

Now I was a sorority girl, through and through, and a "party" to me meant putting hot rollers in my hair and wearing something black to make me look older - you know, in case I needed to use my fake i.d.  We show up to this apartment that resembled a Motel 6.  The door opens to a galley-like living room where two couches faced each other.  They were spilling over with Shoney-uniformed middle aged women smoking cigarettes and bitching about their customers or their managers or both. Apparently, Andy's exit had started a revolution of sorts and this was the angriest happy hour I had ever been to.

"So then that Son of a Bitch asked me to clean the sneeze guard, after I had clocked out!" spat one woman as she exhaled cigarette smoke out her nose.

"I asked off for Thursday because I got my supervised visit that day and you know he told me he would think about it.  That's just buuuuullllshhhhiiiittt," replied the other.

"Did you see that bitch in the booth at 19?"  one woman missing some teeth, leaned in, "She left me $1.50 on 25.  Bitch, ain't you HEARD about 20% tippin'?  Don't go out to eat if you can't pay for the service."  She went on, "I don't care if you did get the buffet.  I got two mouthz ta feed".
They all stopped talking and turned to stare at Brad and me in the doorway.  The irony of my "big girl" outfit was not lost on them.  Andy waved from the middle of the couch.  Brad whispered out of the side of his mouth like a ventriloquist, "You wanna go?"

I took one look around the room at all of the fresh material I would be missing and wiped the saliva that was exiting the corner of my mouth, "Oh HELL no.  We are staying RIGHT here."

My favorite brunch spot is Spagio.  My friend and I stumbled upon it one game day when we were supposed to be watching OSU.  Northstar Cafe is also good and I think  GoodDay Cafe on fifth is pretty reasonable too.  Check them out.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Four Jumanji!

I love movies.  My family was always very into movies.  I was brought up with Catherine Hepburn and Cary Grant on my mom's side and Robert Deniro and Al Pacino from my Dad's side.  I remember being very young when my dad introduced me to Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter. "No wonder" you all are thinking, but horrible, sadistic, gory war or gangster movies was our Indian Princesses, if you will.

My favorite movies are slice of life, gritty, drama-laden films that make me feel better about my life.  Kind of like Intervention, but scripted.  Independent films are what I am drawn to the most.   I have even gotten my husband into them.  He would never admit to it, though.  He has that "courtroom drama" rep to protect, you know.

I have done crazy stuff for movies.  Brad and I waited in line for an hour once to see Blair Witch Project.  (It was all the rage at the time, okay?).  I made friends of mine leave work early when The Firm came out because I was SURE that there would be a stampede opening night in Louisville, Kentucky.  I still catch shit for that one.  I buy my tickets in advance and I am NO stranger to going to movies by myself.

Today, I saw Black Swan.  I thought it was good if you like soft lesbian porn.  I was able to look past that, though, and I thought the casting was spot on.  The scariest character in the movie to me was Barbara Hershey.  She is so creepy. I can't believe Sayid (Lost reference) is into that.

Anyway, awards season is upon us and I have been deep into my research.  My manager, "Mrs. Clowdus", (she makes me call her that), and I saw Rabbit Hole and Blue Valentine back to back weekend nights.  We are serious about our movies.  Collectively, the money we spent on babysitters and prime time movies could have paid for a weekend at a Ritz Carlton. 

For the record, both movies were TERRIBLE.  Apparently, with Rabbit Hole, we decided, we had come in late and left early without realizing it.  We came into the movie prepared for the uplifting "couple loses child" plot, and we were still disappointed.  I mean, honestly, how can you see a movie about that topic and NOT cry?  We were dumbfounded.  Also, there is a scene where Nicole Kidman is having a major breakdown.  This is a prime example of why a character actress should not do botox.  It was mesmerizing to me to watch someone express so much emotion without ever moving their face. 

Blue Valentine's (spoiler alert) only good scene is the one they show in the trailer where hotty von hottsburg plays the ukulele and Michelle does an impromptu tap dance.  For most of the film, hotty has this insane receding hairline with long sideburns and these John Hinkley prescription glasses.  It was AWFUL.

OK. Now for my favorite nominees.  I LOVED The Kids Are Alright and The King's Speech.  Colin Firth and Annette Bening deserve Best Actor, hands down.  I am in love with Mark Ruffalo, too.  Julianne Moore is also one of my favorites but I really feel like she was outshined by Bening in the film.   I really liked The Social Network, as well. How hot are the Winkleberries? I saw them on some news show and they are exactly like their characters.  It is crazy.  They are uber rich and are going after Mark Zuckerberg for even MORE money.  You go girls!

So my husband and I have been movie partners forever.  We took a class together in college and every Friday we would cut class to see a matinee.  Because we moved around a lot, we also saw a lot of movies because we didn't know anyone.  Once, when we were in Grad School (he finished, I didn't, natch) in Lexington we were going to see Pulp Fiction.  There was a woman in line right in front of us who seemed to have an opinion on everything.  (Kind of like me.)  The lady she is talking at is kind of half-listening as the woman's filthy kids are running around her and pulling on her house dress.

"I can't BULIEVE somebody would pay GOOD money to go and see that AWFUL Pulp Fiction movie!" she ranted.  Brad and I looked at each other and smiled.  "All there is, is just SEX and VIOLENCE and people SHOOTIN' at each other and doin' DRUUUUGS!"  She was really getting herself worked up now.  "I mean, Who ARE these IDIOTS that would want to SEE something like THAT?"

My husband and I are starting to giggle now and before we could believe what was happening the lady stomped up to the window like she was part of a marching band and announced, "FOUR JUMONJEEE!". Brad and I exploded with laughter as she slapped down her money (mostly change), grabbed each of her kids by the arm and burst into the theater. 

To this day, Brad and I cannot buy tickets to a movie without one of us repeating, "FOUR JUMONJEE!"

My friend in Westerville, we'll call her "Kimmy" has an academy awards party every year.  It is all girls and we wear our pajamas and all the costume jewelry we can handle.  She goes all out with champanya and seat savers (the large posterboard pics they use so the celebs know where to sit) of each of us and even one year a red carpet with her children acting as the paparazzi when you arrived. It is so much fun to hang with your girlfriends and critique the celebs on the red carpet.  I consider it my Superbowl.  The picture above is of me at one of "Kim's" parties.   I don't care what anyone says, you really can't have too much leopard. 

So, my advice today is twofold.  If you haven't seen any of the nominees, I would see The Social Network, The Kids Are Alright and/or The King's Speech.  Also, if you have time to put it together, watch the Academy Awards with some girlfriends.  Mrs. Clowdus' parents have a really big mansion in town that would do nicely.  I'm just sayin'. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lost in Translation

My husband goes to Japan once a year and I have gone with him twice.  The first time was very unnerving for me because I am no stranger to anxiety, and lack of sleep or a major change in sleep patterns (there is a 14 hour difference where night and day are reversed) only intensifies this affliction.

They have "greeters" that stand outside the elevator and in various areas of the hotel.  Sometimes there are two and three at a time and that is ALL they do - they get paid to stand there and smile and bow.   My husband gets very annoyed at this and says things like, "It creates so much overhead" and other things that I pretend to understand.

I actually LIKE the greeters.  They seem really genuine.  If there were greeters in America, they would bow and smile and then when you walked away they would turn to their coworker and make fun of your fat ass.  I tried to catch them doing this in Japan, but they were always still bowing and smiling even after I was around the corner.   

Looking back, the entire time I was there, I was off my game completely.  I was there for a week so I had plenty of opportunities to make an ass of myself and I did not disappoint.  I felt so out of it the entire time.  I want you to imagine being the only American on the train or turning on the television and not understanding a thing that is being said.  Don't get me wrong, the Japanese people are the most polite people in the world, I just felt like a big white, blond sore thumb the entire time I was there.

The "Western-Style" hotel we stayed at housed people from all over the globe.  One morning at breakfast, I was feeling anxious as usual, and the chandeliers started to tremble.  Everyone looked up and then continued their conversations.  I was beside myself.  All of the blood drained out of my face and I stepped one foot out from under the table preparing to sprint out of the dining room, down the hall and out of the hotel.  In his usual fashion,  my husband put down his fork and said, "What in the hell are you doing?"

"We are about to have an earthquake, " I stammered.  "I am NOT going to sit here and eat undercooked EGGS while it happens."

My husband stopped the waitress and asked her about the tremor that he still was not convinced just happened.  It was like that dream you have where you are checking out at the grocery and you look down to realize that you are naked from the waist up.  You are horrified but no one else seems to understand your stress level.

The server politely explained that it was, in fact, a tremor and that it happened frequently.  In my defense, Japan had a significant earthquake a few weeks after we returned to the states.  SO I AM NOT CRAZY.

The sushi is NOT the sushi you are used to here.  It has eyes and scales and feels like you are swallowing a slug.  I liked eating salad for breakfast, though.  After a while you will eat anything that looks remotely familiar whenever you can get it.

That is not to say that every meal was terrible. because it wasn't, and our hosts were extremely accommodating.  Unfortunately, even the meals that I enjoyed, I had to endure the slimy appetizers that preceded them.  The Japanese watch you like a hawk, and if you do not eat something they become concerned and offended.

My husband basically enjoys the food that my children enjoy - pizza, chicken fingers and hamburgers.  When I think of meals with him in Japan I think of his pale face grimacing while he pretended to swallow something and then spitting it in his napkin when they looked away.  When they looked back he would always smile. At the end of the trip, I would choke down the appetizers like they were some challenge on Survivor only to look down to find another one on my plate that my husband had sneaked  there.

One of the days there, we went to what they call a "spa" up in the mountains.  You would no more recognize their spa than you would their sushi.  It is a Ryokan, which has traditional Japanese style accommodations which means you put a kimono on and you sleep on a mat of the floor.  Hey, and guess what?  More slimy exotic fish tank raided meals - that's right, dinner AND breakfast.

Upon arrival my husband instructed me to just start drinking beer to get through the dinner.  "It's gonna be the worst one yet. Put on your robe.  They're gonna be here any minute."
"What are we doing now?" I naively asked.
"We will drink some more and then we will go to the spa."

I perked right up, for the word "spa" conjured up images of shiatsu massages and mani-pedis - to no avail, my friends. After we drank beers in the room, we all traveled in our grandma house shoes (Brad and my toes poking out) to the spa.  (Have I mentioned how ridiculous my husband looks in traditional Japanese attire.  He is Godzilla there.)

As we rounded the corner, Brad goes, "this is where we separate" and I found myself smack dab in the middle of a sea of naked Japanese women.  There was obviously some protocol that I was supposed to be following but because I didn't speak the language I tried the "observe and mimic" routine that had become all too familiar to me.    

So this older Japanese woman comes up to me and is trying to get me to understand the spa customs.  It has already been explained to me that the Ryokan is a sacred place for the Japanese and is it is obviously a real treat for our hosts who work constantly.  The woman has a washcloth on her head and she is pointing to the empty baskets in the cubby holes that I assumed were for my personal effects - like underwear.

As I strip down, she becomes more and more animated and (it seems to me) irritated.  In my sleep-deprived, buzzed state, I am simultaneously exasperated and embarrassed.   EVERYONE is looking at me.  It is PACKED.  The woman continues to bark at me after I have deposited my stuff in the basket and, naked as a jay bird, I make the decision to put the washcloth the attendant gave me on my head.

"OKKKAAAY.  Are you happy?  I have no idea what you are saying to me!"

 The laughter was deafening. The acoustics in the stone room were perfect for this type of outburst.  No, it gets better.  Then I had to, with everyone watching, squat naked over a stool (I have not touched a public toilet in my life, let alone some stool that generations of naked Japanese women have sat on) while I scrubbed myself worthy of a costarring role in Silkwood.  I can only HOPE that you all will never have to feel the way that I felt in that moment in your entire lifetime.

Finally, I escape outside to the open air hot spring tub overlooking a cliff.  It truly was beautiful, if only I could unclench my teeth. As I concentrated on becoming invisible to the two other women in the water with me, a booming American voice over the wall on the Men's side bellows, "So, you guys come here a lot?"

P.F. Changs is my favorite Asian restaurant.  I don't really eat sushi.  I will eat it but when the Japanese come to visit, we always take them there.  I mean, they traveled thousands of miles, but at the end of the day, it is really about ME.  Their Dan Dan Noodles are to die for.  I like their Mongolian Beef, Honey Shrimp, and Garlic Chicken.  Get their Won Ton soup sometime, too.  It is extremely fresh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don't make me put my baby down

A while ago, my husband and I went to our friend Tim and Julie's wedding.  Fortunately, it was in the Bahamas.  This was really my first time away from my first baby with all of my friends and it was a blast.  Tim was our original friend, but I immediately developed a rapport with Julie and her bridesmaids.

One of the bridesmaids was a spot on replica of Karen, from the show Will and Grace.  She LOOKED like her and her mannerisms were exactly like her, but most of all her voice (which I think is the character's most distinguishing factor, outside of her boobs, of course) was the same high-pitched, kind of whiny tone that Karen has.  I mean, the girl CHANNELED Karen, I am not exaggerating (this time).  To top it off, she had NO IDEA who Karen was and had never watched the sitcom.  To be clear, it was REALLY popular at the time.  Hell, it was really popular for about a decade. 

So, Karen and I are sitting around bullshitting one day at the pool and she tells me this story about KFC.  (When my book is made into a movie and she discovers this is HER story and not MINE, I will compensate her by letting her play herself opposite Jennifer Aniston, my character. Then, the REAL me will have a cameo where I walk by or serve them margaritas or something.)

Apparently, Karen is at KFC one night when an argument breaks out between the lady in line in front of her and the woman at the cash register.  The woman in front of her is rather large and is carrying a small child.  The woman orders a Family Pack.
Then the girl at the cash register goes, "Will that be FOR HERE."  (The woman is alone except for her baby, get it?)
 Lady with baby goes, "Oh no you di-ent!"
Girl behind the cash register goes, "Oh yes I did!"
Finally, steaming, the Lady goes, "Don't MAKE me but my BABY down!"

So all weekend if someone was making fun of you or insulting your Mama or something, you would be all, "Don't MAKE me put my BABY down."  Then everyone would lose it.

So after the reception, I am in the restroom with Karen and she is telling me how everyone at the wedding does not believe the story that I am a stay at home Mom and that Brad is my husband and everything else that I have "fabricated" in order to be a part of the wedding party.  Her theory is that I live on the streets of Jamaica and that I probably stole some tourist's clothes and have ingratiated my way into a free weekend with all of them. We are ROLLING.

"Hey, I just keep laughing about that story of you in the KFC, " I say as we are washing our hands.  "What WERE you doing in a KFC anyway?  You live in Chicago.  You could eat anywhere and you chose KFC?  I just don't get it."

"Well, honey, I wasn't exactly telling the whole truth when I told that story, " she admits in that whiny Karen voice of hers.  "The girl that I said was in front of me was actually me."

My advice today is a bit of a stretch, but I just HAD to tell that story.  Rachel Ray recently introduced me to using rotisserie chicken for any recipe that requires cooked chicken.  It is SO much easier than cooking chicken and then cutting it up.  It is juicer, too, and apparently not as fattening as sauteing chicken.  It is great in Chicken Tortilla soup, perfect in any casserole, and works beautifully in any chicken salad.  Make chicken spaghetti or pulled bbq sandwiches.  YOU NAME IT.

I keep a box of those plastic gloves under the sink and I use them to pull apart the chicken so you don't get it under your nails because that grosses me out.  I reminds me of the Mexican restaurant I used to work at and then I almost always have a nightmare that night.  My "trainer" tells me to just use the white chicken and throw the rest away.

Try it if you haven't already.  I really have no way of knowing how helpful this blog is to anyone.  I am usually behind the eightball on everything so things that people have been doing for years are revolutionary to me.  Oh well, if I change one life with my rotisserie chicken idea, then this is all worth it...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The slang of the day

Lately I have been noticing the slang of the day.  These are words that are usually created by television sitcoms that infiltrate their way into the general public.  Remember Chandler's "Can you BE anymore annoying?"

Think about it.  Each generation has their own slang vocabulary that they use to communicate with each other.  In the sixties, they used phrases like, "right on" and "groovy".  There are corporate buzzwords as well.  I am not "in the know" (that used to be one) about popular workplace banter now, because I stay at home, but back in the day (five thousand years ago when Barney Rubble was in the cubicle next to me)  the words "cue" and "I'm gonna have to put a note in your file for that one." were commonplace.

My tennis partner, we'll call her "Christina" is big on buzzwords of the day.  She also creates her own, which I admire.  We play tennis together in the summer and she usually has a fresh slang vocabulary that I look forward to each year.  One year it was "bugga" - she used this when she hit the ball into the net and it is derived from English slang meaning "Dammit" I think.  To my knowledge, she is Italian, but whatever Mate.  "Really, Really Christina" was big last summer, too.

This phenomenon was brought to my attention when my friend "Angela" came to visit from Texas last summer.  We were on my deck which I fashion into an Outdoor Oasis, designed specifically for Happy Hour.  She remarked that she hated that everyone says, "Really, I mean REALLY" all the time in her social circle.  Slang, like fashion, hits later in Columbus than Dallas so I just pretended that I knew what she was talking about and made a mental note to start saying "REALLY" all of the time.   

You might also notice that what one generation might say, another generation wouldn't be caught DEAD saying.  And the second an older generation starts saying a slang the younger generation says, the younger generation abruptly stops because that slang is not "cool" anymore.  For instance, before my generation was text savvy, younger people who had already adopted texting, started using it's abbreviations in casual conversations.  BTW, LOL, LMAO were all confounding to us and now we use them on a regular basis. 

My three daughters were in the bathtub the other day, and my middle daughter exclaimed that she had come up with a new word she was going to start using.  The new word combines "cool" and "awesome".  It is "coolsome".  She went on, "as in my boobs are really coolsome."  Of course my six-year-old does not have breasts (not with my genes she doesn't) but it got me to thinking.  How can I make money off of this genius slang word that my daughter has just created?

I heard the word "complisult" the other day.  It refers to when a passive-aggressive person gives you a compliment with a veiled insult attached. A complisult might be, "Oh, you are such a laid back mother, I could NEVER let my child wear her pajamas to the grocery, especially mid-afternoon. Good for you, for not caring what people think."
Since society tends to recycle everything now - Potterybarn recycles past furniture trends (just with crappy particle board), fashion is cyclical, and history certainly repeats itself - why don't we recycle language?

My father uses the word "dingleberry" and my kids (who find him hilarious) call him this all of the time.  They also call him Martin, who is a servant on some movie they watched together.  This made him mad after a while and he promptly told the to stop.  They just erupted in laughter.

Anyway, today's lesson is to challenge yourself to create a new slang word and use it in casual conversation to see if it catches on.  Mine is "nonsenseblog".  I don't think I need to provide a definition, do I?

Monday, February 14, 2011


During my last pregnancy, my husband and I developed an unhealthy obsession with the HBO series The Wire.  There are 5 seasons and I swear we watched all of them in a two week period.  They are an hour long with no commercial interruptions and there are about 14 episodes per season.  We will never get that time back.  But I don't care.

We were like the crackheads portrayed in the series.  I would rush around the various Upper Arlington libraries piecing together each season.  (There are about three disks per season and I did NOT want to run out.)  There was actually a time where we finished a disc and I had to have more so I went to the Miller Park Library and pounded on their door as they were turning off their lights. " I am an Upper Arlington taxpayer!"  I screamed.  Obviously, I don't go there anymore. I just keep telling my kids it is still under construction.  

Normally, my husband and I go to bed pretty early - especially when you are pregnant with two really young kids.  One would think you would be exhausted.  But all I could think about when I kissed them goodnight was The Wire. My husband would be waiting for me, disk in hand as I raced through their bedtime stories.  We were doin" three, four, five episodes a night.  It was SICK. If one of us lost consciousness late at night, the other one would shake them saying "Just finish this.  Just finish this."  I never paid for an episode, though, man - THAT I can be proud of.   

The funny thing is that my Dad had been trying to turn me on to The Wire for years.  "That's a good show, boy.  I ain't kiddin' ya."  I love him.  So once Brad and I got addicted, we would call him on the phone to discuss extensively the lives of the characters and the plotlines or whatever.  The characters began to infiltrate my life.  I began speaking like them to express myself.

"I'm unna pop a cap in yo' ass if you don't give my chil' afternoon preschool, beeach."  I would say when it was my turn to sign up my middle child for the following year.
When a fellow mother with her baby on her hip dropped her jaw on the floor, "WhatCHU lookin' at, ho?"

"Ain nuthin' butta thang."  I would reply when the kids in my carpool thanked me for dropping them off.  What was happening to us? We were in this downward spiral and I had a new baby on the way.

I would daydream about Colonel Daniels and the gang, and chuckle to myself about what witty thing McNulty said to Detective Greggs during a drug raid.  One of the characters, Bunk, would always respond to something someone said that he thought was bullshit by saying, "Sheeeeeeit".

My husband and I LOVED it.  We would anticipate it in certain situations during an episode and say it along with him.  We would rewind it over and over and over and laugh.  It became our inside joke around the house.

"You need to take the recycling out, Brad."

"I'm going to the hockey game this Thursday.  I am taking a client."

It was all fun and games until one day I was making lunch for my three-year-old and it was like the 100th day in a row she had had tuna salad.  I was rummaging around in the pantry, only to realize that we were out of tuna.  When I told her so, she paused for a split second, opened her sweet little mouth and replied, "Sheeeeeeit."

Rent The Wire at your local library or at Blockbuster or Netflix or whatever. I think if you have "On Demand", some episodes are still available there, too.   It is the best show I have EVER seen - even better than The Sopranos, I think, and yes I know, that is a strong statement.  You need to start at the very beginning, though.  Don't try and jump in on the third season or you will get confused and you won't stick with it.  Listen to what I am sayin' to you, Man.  I ain't frontin'.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If you marry for money, you'll earn every penny of it

I used to work as an advertising rep in Dallas for a business newspaper.  This begs the question, "Can a person sell advertising at a publication without reading a single article?  The answer is Yes.  Yes they can.   My catagories were hotels, restaurants and retail.  It was so fun.

I was having a breakfast meeting at this fancy hotel with their advertising director one day (she was this no nonsense, been around the block, strong Texan woman) with my best friend who was my "boss" and the hotel advertising assistant.  I used to take we'll call her "Angela" with me to almost every appointment so she could "weigh in" on important issues and then we could go shopping and have lunch.  ANYWAY, this woman's assistant was yammering on how she wanted to get married and men who looked good on paper and yada yada yada.  The hotel advertising director stopped her short (thank God) with one long swoop of her perfectly manicured hand and said, "Honey, if you marry for money, you'll earn EVERY penny of it".  Sooooo prophetic.  I could have kissed her on the mouth.  My friend/boss "Angela" and I exchanged that "Oh my God I can't wait to get in the car and talk about this" glance as we took a long sip of our outrageously expensive coffee.  Side note:  hotel coffee is the best coffee in the entire world.  That hotel was on the way to my office in the morning and I used to fantasize about stopping on the way and getting a take out coffee.

Which brings me to the trip my husband and I took to the Puerto Rico. Rounding the third turn of my pregnancy, I was lying in bed with my husband and I was just DONE with being pregnant.  I get impossibly FAT when I am pregnant and I was miserable with about two months to go.  We knew that this was going to be our last baby and I turned to him and suggested that we go on vacation after the baby was born to "you know, celebrate the birth of our last child without her/him".

He snatched up the laptop to make reservations and said "When do you want to go?  You call your parents.  Make sure you tell them how bad you are feeling so you can guilt them into watching a newborn."  There is NOTHING my husband enjoys more than vacation without the kids.  It is the only time in his life when he can sit around and do nothing and ask for things (they actually bring them to him) without getting yelled at.

Four months after my last child was born we were in San Juan.  Classic.  So one night after dinner we are sitting at the Lobby bar laughing about how I should be breastfeeding instead of drinking bourbon when the Tazmanian devil and her entourage burst into the hotel. There is all of this commotion and people are laughing and this women hurls herself up to the bar and screams, "It's my thirtieth birthday weekend and my FIANCE is paying for everything and we just got off the plane and immediately hit the strip clubs here and I need a DRANK."

She is right next to me and she turns to me and starts interrogating me in her loud piercing voice while simultaneously telling me her life story.  Her FIANCE is 59 years old.  (My husband insists to this day that he was 49, but I am right.)  He is the CFO for a chain of exotic dancing establishments littered throughout the South.  She has never been married, has a three-year-old boy with her ex that was her first love, and she was "rescued" by her "baby" when he noticed her outstanding "hostessing skills" at one of his "restaurants".  Right.

My husband is DELIGHTED and he is also becoming fast friends with Rescue Baby.  The Tazmanian Devil is totally hot.  She has a perfect, young body that I decided was real,  with zero signs of any childbirth strains.  Apparently, there is a Puerto Rican Rodeo Drive that has brought her here and she is positively enamored with Louis Vuitton.  "I need a DRANK.  I want something REALLY expensive, baby!" she croons.  The bartender who had previously been chatting us up, drops us like a hot potato and turns his attentions toward her.

"Get some Louis VII, hon."  Rescue Baby says.  The bar is getting crowded now.
"Oh yes!" Taz squeals as she claps her hands with delight.
"What's Louis VII?" I ask.
"You don't know what Louie is?" she exclaims, "it's the most expensive liquor you can buy!"
"It is $125 a shot," the bartender announces.
"Ewwwwwww" Taz squeels and claps again.
"I always keep a bottle of it in each of my five houses" Rescue Baby says, "they are $1500 a piece and the bottle is hand blown and etched with platinum." or something like that.  "You want one?  Bartender, get her a shot of Louie, too!"  My husband is smiling now.
"Oh no no no no no no no"  I was NOT going to enter into this pissing contest where we are buying each other shots of $125 liquor.  Do you know what $125 buys at TJ Maxx?  We are not in the same tax bracket.  Besides I know how this works.  One minute I am gulping down Louie and the next I have lost my kids and am "waitressing" at one of his "restaurants" (where there is buffet, no less).

OK I am going to try to paint for you a mental picture of what happened next.  The bartender sets the crown-shaped bottle on the packed bar where everyone is gathered around watching.  My husband and I have a front row seat.  Taz jumps up on the bar which is lit like a runway, does the snake with her body on top of the bar where she is perpendicular to the bottle, lifts her head up, and as she is face to face with the crown delivers the line, "HELLLLLOOO BEEEEEAAACCCHHHH." She shoots the liquor as Rescue Baby shouts, "Ya sip it, Hon!" and orders another shot.  " Louie meet Louie! "she screams as she introduces her purse to the bottle of liquor.  She throws back her head and laughs. 

Then she is on us again.  "What are y'all doin' tomorrow?"
Here we go.  I was NOT going to spend my entire vacation enduring this shit.
"Nothing," my husband replies, "what are you all doing?"
I shot him "the look".  We did SO have plans.  We were planning on giving everyone at the pool a nickname like we always do on vacation.
"We had better go." I said, shooting daggers. 
And before I knew what was happening my husband turns to Taz and sputters, "You have a really nice smile."

Now, I know that man better than he knows himself and the subtext of that statement was "You have incredibly large young boobs." I was seething.  If I were a cartoon at that moment, I would have turned into a thermometer where the mercury reached the top, broke through the surface and spewed out.  I couldn't take it anymore so I grabbed Taz's arm and hissed, "Let me tell you something, honey, if you marry for money - you will EARN EVERY PENNY OF IT!"  Tears sprang into her eyes.  I had gotten to her and instead of feeling triumphant, I felt awful.

Look I am not trying to turn this into some sort of Hate blog, quite the contrary.  In my defense, Taz embodied the two things I abhor the most - sugardaddy worship and strip clubs.  I am not normally judgemental but I have a hard time vacationing with someone who capitalizes off of the desperation of women when I am raising three girls, not to mention that I am a girl.  So this is what is going on in my mind as they carry on and then my husband starts admiring her teeth.

They avoided us the rest of the trip.  From time to time I wonder if she ever married him.  I wonder if he ever went to jail. (There was some sort of impending litigation.)  I wonder if his ex-wife-turned- lesbian got a huge settlement.  So many questions.  So little time...well, I had better wrap this up.  I promised my oldest we would go to pole dancing class today.

If you have the chance to go to San Juan, Puerto Rico - go!  I loved the culture and the town is adorable.  There are a ton of restaurants, galleries and shops. The beach and ocean are spectacular.  It is a relatively short trip.  We stayed at the Ritz Carlton there which we liked because it had the "all inclusive" option and we are very big on that. The Hotel San Juan is also really nice.  They have a famous bar and pool.

P.S. My friend, we'll call her "Jen", is the closest thing I have to a boss.  She said that I can start taking off Sundays and if I continue to impress her with my posts, she'll entertain the thought of Saturdays off too.  I know I made a bogus commitment to you, but who cares?  (I'll add on 52 posts, ok?)