Monday, November 24, 2014

999. Shameless Self-Promotion

I can’t stand it when you first meet someone and then they start telling you about their Faceoff account, or Chatter following, and ask you to join them on In-Linked.  Frankly, so much self-promotion is off-putting.

Hey, did you know Christmas is sneaking up on us in just a few weeks?  You know what makes a great gift?  MY BOOK.  Actually, all 3 of them.  If you like my blog, my books are the best of the best, and one of them is co-written by the divine Marianne Walsh of Chicago magazine fame! 

Here are the Amazon links to the books.  Order now so you don’t have to worry if they’ll arrive in time:

Herman the Cat Goes to Outerspace (children’s book, illustrated by über-talented Haley Wolfe)

And remember, every time you buy a book, you save a panda from extinction*.


*made up “fact”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

997. Lie-Baby

I coined a new term last night:  lie-baby.  It’s just like cry-baby, but instead of using it to label someone who whines and cries over nothing, it is used to describe someone who lies in multiple situations for no good reason.    

It could, in fact, be used to describe me.  I much prefer “lie-baby” to the poisonous sounding “pathological liar.” 

I lie to my children about what’s in the fridge (“No, we are totally out of ice-cream—sorry!”), I lie to my husband about picking up his dry cleaning (“They were closed for … uh … Grandparents’ Day”; it’s a legally recognized holiday), I lie to my co-workers (“Of course those cookies I brought are homemade”), I lie to my neighbors (“I can’t pick up your newspaper because we will be out of town, too,” trumps the truth that I most likely will forget and would prefer to not embarrass myself in this way). 

Lies are easy.  Truth is hard. 

The truth tells people you are not perfect. 

It’s hard to tell your kids no dessert.  It’s hard to tell your husband you forgot to do something.  It’s hard to tell your co-workers you are too busy to cook from scratch.  And it’s hard to tell your neighbors that you might forget the chore they assign you.  Wait—is that a pattern?  Forgetting? 

I tell myself to write things down, maybe that way I can get things done and not have to lie about them to appease others. 

I will write things down, I will. 

That might be a lie. 

Lie-baby decides to console herself with ice-cream, she thinks there might be still be some left in the fridge.     


Thursday, October 9, 2014

996. Big Enormous Supermarket

It is still dark out, but you have to go to the grocery store because you are out of things to pack for the kids’ lunches.  Only one store close by is open at 6 am, and it’s the Big Enormous Supermarket (BES) and their logo is a dinosaur eating a whale eating an elephant.  The hungry carnivore (named with originality and creativity to spare) is of course “Bessie.”  No one seems to notice Bessie looks suspiciously like a brontosaurus (famous for being vegetarian).  Seems BES’s marketing department has no access to Google. 

You hate BES.  And not just because of the eating-disorder-conflicted Bessie. 

How do you loathe BES?  First of all, it is no exaggeration to say the store is bigger than two football fields.  And that’s just the frozen aisle. 

If you find what you need right away (and that is rare), then you will inevitably need something on the other end of the store, and then the final thing on your list will be back in the first part of the store.  So there is a lot of backtracking going on. 

Their prices are high.  But at 6 am when they are the only store in town with the door unlocked, what are you going to do?  BES holds you hostage to its excellent selection of nothing. 

You are there, after all, for kid lunch food.  This means juice boxes.  You (intelligently, you thought) go to the beverage aisle.  Beverages to BES mean soda.  Rows upon rows of soda.  Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, even Fanta.  Do they still make Fanta, you wonder?  No juice boxes. 

This is not enough to strike you down.  You keep searching.  You stumble upon the water aisle, and ever hopeful, you peruse it looking for juice boxes.  Nothing. 

Nor does the snack aisle produce juice boxes, and there are no employees to be found.  (At this point you think they should hand out some sort of map/directory at the front door.)  You finally see an employee in the bread aisle and you innocently ask him where the juice boxes are.  He shrugs and apologizes that he works for the bread company and not the actual grocery store.  He has no idea where juice boxes are. 

Next, you find someone who is wearing the store uniform.  You ask her the whereabouts of juice boxes.  She shakes her head “no” and pretends to only speak Spanish.  You switch into flawless Spanish (how you are congratulating yourself on minoring in Spanish in college!  It is finally paying off) and then she switches into flawless English. 

“Juice boxes?  For kids?  I have never heard of that.  No, we don’t carry those.” 

You sense she is lying to get rid of you. 

It is now 6:15 and you have wasted a quarter of an hour in this stupid store and you are not happy with her answer. 

You realize it is not so much a language barrier issue as a volume issue.  Yours gets louder. 


She is starting to understand that she cannot get rid of you as easily as she first thought, therefore she walks you down the length of two football fields saying to herself quizzically, “Juice boxes, juice boxes?” as if you asked her for chocolate-covered grasshoppers. 

Twenty minutes later, you and she are standing in the candy aisle and lo and behold, juice boxes.  It takes every ounce of restraint you have to not pick up a pack and throw it at her.  You lift one pack off the shelf and say, “See?  See this?  Juice boxes!  I knew you had them!” 

Victory is yours, if that is how you measure victory, wasting half your morning yelling at BES employees to “educate” them about what products they sell. 

And this is why you do not shop at BES.  Ever, ever, never. 

Until the next time it is 6 am and you are out of something.            

Friday, August 22, 2014

995. Meat Vs. Quiet Comfort of Your Own Home

The mystery person pounded on the door.  It was the kind of knock only the UPS guy does, or maybe Fedex.  I was not expecting a package, but the knock said I must have one. 

I opened the door and saw a salesperson.  I glanced behind him and saw his truck:  “Meaties.” 

“Hello,” he began cheerfully, “Have you ever heard of Meaties?” 

I had not heard of Meaties, but from the looks of it, he was selling frozen meat door-to-door. 

I did the only thing I could:  “I’m vegetarian.” 

He looked crestfallen, like a child expecting Christmas when it is already January. 

“Sorry,” I added, an afterthought. 

“Your whole family?”


“Even your husband?” 

“I’m gay.” 

I’m not really gay (although I think gay people are wonderful and wish I had more gay friends) and I am not really vegetarian.  I am just extremely morally opposed to people trying to sell me things when I am basking in the comfort of my own home taking a break from blatant consumerism.   

“I don’t believe you.” 

About which part?  The vegetarian or the gay?

“It’s true.  My whole family is vegetarian.”  Here I almost added “vegan,” but thought better of it. 

He gave me a blank stare. 

“I shut you down, huh?” I inquired, stating the obvious. 

“Yeah,” he shrugged. 

I suddenly felt obligated to throw him a bone (so to speak):  “My neighbors LOVE meat!”  I pointed to their house for emphasis. 

“Have a good evening,” he murmured, defeated. 

Ahhh, Meaties.  They don’t stand a chance.  Now if someone just knocked on my door with a truck called “Chocolate-ies.” 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

994. Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

I recently wrote about my face not cooperating with my brain and now my feet are apparently in on the mutiny:  yesterday I fell while walking.

Notice I don’t say “while skateboarding” or “while bungee jumping” or some equally glamourous or athletic endeavor.  Nope.  Walking. 

Let me set the complicated scene.  Daytime.  My front yard.  Walking at a normal pace (not running) toward my car parked out front.  Accompanied by my kids (because let’s face it:  there are always witnesses to help record life’s embarrassments and retell them in excruciating detail after the fact).  I made the critical mistake of stepping off the curb when suddenly my rebellious left ankle chose this precise moment to go out. 

I came toppling down (with a surprised, squeaky sort of grunt sound effect emanating from my nose and mouth, young witnesses later confirmed) and landed face down in a heap in the street, keys and purse strewn about the asphalt. 

I felt like I’d been pushed, or at least tripped. 

This is when my life switched into slow motion, like some sort of Matrix movie.  I lay there in a crumpled up pile for what seemed like 10 minutes (but was probably 10 seconds) evaluating what had just occurred.  Who was my assailant?  Had Tall played a cruel joke on his middle-aged mother and given me a well-timed shove?  Had Short picked up the sidewalk and shook it fiercely, like a blanket?  Had a rare earthquake just announced its presence?       

No.  My feet just did not get the memo to perform a complicated maneuver (e.g. “walk”) and therefore I fell. 

The fall was not without repercussions.  Skin was scraped.  Ego was bruised.  Blood was involved. 

The children (who are used to falling off their bikes and such) were immediately sympathetic and helpful:  “Mom!  Are you okay?”  “Do you need help?”

I pushed myself up and for the first time noticed my elderly neighbor Harriet staring at me from her front yard across the street.  Harriet is about 99 years old and has a live-in nurse. 

I did not want to alarm Harriet, so I waved and called out:  I’m all right! 

She waved back from her walker and responded, “Don’t worry, dear, that happens to me all the time.” 

I dusted myself off, got in the car with the kids and drove away, praying Harriet would not post a video of my fall on YouTube later.      


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

993. Wipe That Silly Smile Off Your Face

You look in the mirror and you realize that the edges of your mouth point down a bit, just a bit, into a permanent frown, through absolutely no fault of your own.  You force a smile.  It looks forced.  You bare your teeth.  Now you look mad instead of merely unhappy. 

You realize all those clichés your mother used to say are true:  Your face is going to freeze like that.  When you’re young you have the face you were born with; when you’re old you have the face you deserve. 

You now understand why complete strangers often tell you to Smile, it can’t be that bad!  And now you tell yourself that yes, from now on, you will smile.

All the time. 

Against your will.

This is in an effort to not exacerbate the frowny lines that are currently conspiring with a few choice lines in between your eyebrows to take over your face, a face that up until 10 minutes ago you were (naively) under the assumption seemed happy to the world, or if not completely joyful then at least neutral. 

But neutral has moved to Switzerland, and THIS has happened to you. 

You examine your newly forced happy self in the mirror.  Then you panic, thinking that the happy lines may become etched and then you will look like a marionette with chiseled marks next to your lips and cheeks.  Deep enthusiastic lines of a fake happy that you do not feel, a happy meant only to replace or at least temporarily distract from the scowl that has taken up residence on your head. 

You say to yourself, I am not mad!  I am not unhappy!  But the proof is still there, laughing at you (figuratively laughing, because if a laugh were there then there would be no problem). 

But there is a problem, a big problem:  the grin looks worse than the frown.  You look like a lunatic escaped from the asylum.  Now your forehead is participating in the bliss experiment, and it is not an attractive option. 

So you go the Mona Lisa route:  subtle, soft, Zen.  Just a hint of a smile, but enough to erase the frown without a plastic surgeon being involved.  Maybe Mona Lisa was actually frowning in Leonardo’s original sketches and he said, “Hey, M.L.!  Smile, it can’t be that bad!”  And she complied, because somewhere deep inside her soul she KNEW that this portrait would hang in a museum immortalizing her for all time.  She decided the fake happy was worth it. 

You wonder if she exercised her mouth muscles in the mirror first, practicing a teeth vs. no teeth look. 

The teeth look, you conclude, is the best for you.  No one in the 40 plus years you have roamed the earth ever tells you that you have nice eyes or a perfect nose or that they love your hair; however, they do compliment you on your smile a lot. 

When you bother to smile that is. 

You step back from the mirror, trying to guage if another five feet makes a difference.  It does not. 

You are unfortunately realizing that this new Mona Lisa thing is not becoming for you either:  in fact, the gentle expression that worked so well for Da Vinci’s muse appears on you more like… a smirk. 

You go from looking unhappy or irritated to the much, much better condescending. 
Great.  If only Da Vinci were alive to paint it.