Monday, January 31, 2011

315. I'll Thank You Twice or Not at All

I’ve reached that age, the age where I sometimes forget trivial details, details like what I had for breakfast three days ago or when I last put gas in the car. It’s as if my brain is saying, “Full! I still know your childhood phone number and ex-boyfriend-from-college’s mom’s name, so don’t expect me to remember if you washed Tall’s soccer uniform!”

I was alerted to this new lapsing in memory power by my dear friend Penelope in California, who sent the following email:

“Dear MOV,

It was great to see you over Christmas when you were out visiting your mom. I wish we were able to spend more time together.

By the way, I just received your (second) nice note thanking me for dinner.

You’re welcome. You’re welcome.

X o X o


At least she has the sense of humor to say “You’re welcome” twice as well. The funny thing is, as I was writing the second thank you note, I was agonizing (“Did I already write this note? If so, did I actually put a stamp on and mail it?”). In the end, I decide that two thank you notes were better than zero. But, I did try to disguise the state of my brain (Swiss cheese) by wording the second note in what I thought was a clever way. I wrote,

“Dear Penelope,

How are you? I just wanted to reiterate what a great time I had seeing you over Christmas! I know I thanked you in person for the wonderful dinner you made, but I wanted to again take this opportunity to mention it again.

I look forward to the next time I get to see you!

Thanks again!


Because she exposed me for what I am (uh, forgetful), I decide to immediately adopt a new system to keep track of gifts and thank you notes written. I go out to a cute local stationery store and buy a lovely green notebook with colorful butterflies and bumble bees embossed on the front. As soon as I get in the car, I open it up and write down “Penelope, dinner, thank you sent (twice).” I come home and put the notebook in a very safe place so I will always be able to record my gifts.

If I could only remember where I put the notebook.

("Missing Or Vanished"?)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

314. Plagiarism

Well.  I worked all day, and now I don't have any energy.  Therefore, I'm stealing a story (without permission!!  I hope I don't get fired now, see what I go thru for you, my precious blog readers?) from The Boss at the high-end kitchen store.  Here we go:

Her nephew Morris (age 4, same age as my son Short) was at at Target shopping with his dad.  Morris noticed a woman with CRAZY red hair, a very Hollywood unnatural shade of neon, and he commented to his daddy,  "Daddy, look at that lady's hair!  Why is it that color?!" 

The dad was mortified that the lady might hear him, so he leaned down to Morris and said, "Morris!  Stop!  That is awful." 

Morris immediately refrained from further commenting until ...  they were in the check out lane, and there is Miss Neon Hair, right in front of them in line.  Morris tapped his daddy on the leg and said (loudly-- of course he said it loudly): 

"Daddy, you're right:  her hair IS awful." 


Saturday, January 29, 2011

313. Alarmed Clock

Tall wakes up every day around 7 AM, whether it's a school day or a weekend.  So it came as somewhat of a surprise when he begged me to buy him an alarm clock.  I say "somewhat of a surprise," because the particular clock in question was shaped like a StarWars clone trooper.

I told him he could use his Christmas money if he really wanted to buy it.  Twenty-eight dollars later, he was the proud owner of an alarm clock.

When we got home, he immediately set the alarm for 7:05 AM.  This went on for a few days, and he woke up happily when it beeped, and his brother Short also was beeped out of bed, and took this latest variation in his routine like a trooper (pun intended).

Then, the slightly mischievous side of Tall came out.  He set his alarm for 7:05 AM, and placed it on my nightstand.  On a Friday night.  When I don't have to wake up early on Saturday. 

Oh, yes, he has inherited someone's sense of humor (I won't say who, but she is identified in these blog essays by three initials).

Next, I was putting Short to bed this evening, and I noticed a glimmer of something white and plastic hiding under his bed.  Yep, Tall had set the alarm and placed the offending clock under his little brother's bed.  On a Saturday night.  When no one needs to get up early on Sunday. 

I can hardly wait until April Fool's Day.  It used to be my own personal favorite holiday, but something tells me some new traditions will be created in our household this spring. 

("Mischievous Or Villainous"?)

Friday, January 28, 2011

312. Discipline Is Not For Wimps

Last night, a crime was committed. Details follow:
  • Who: alleged perpetrator—my 4-year-old son Short
  • What: talking back, kicking, not cooperating, yelling, slamming toys around
  • Where: his bedroom
  • When: yesterday evening, approximately 7:20 PM while he was supposed to be getting ready for bed
  • How: the victim (Short’s father) was repeatedly kicked in the shins (evidence is exhibit A: large bruise)
  • Why: because that’s what preschoolers do
Punishment: the case has not gone to trial, but instead was settled out of court by a panel of judges (me and The Husband). It was unanimously decided that the accused’s new toy Hot Wheels monster truck from Target (cost: $3), would be thrown in the trash.

Result: crying, tantrum, and meltdown ensued. The panel stayed firm in their irrevocable decision.  Notable quote:  Panel members labeled "dum-dum poopy-heads" by the convicted, which is the equivalent of being cussed out by a 4-year-old. 

Update: this morning, the convicted child remembered the incident and the resultant punishment. We got to re-live the tantrum all over again (fortunately, a condensed version). The Husband and I cringed as if bracing for a storm, and we somehow got through it intact.

Final Conclusion: This parenting stuff is not easy.

("Mommy Of Villain?")

Thursday, January 27, 2011

311. Rearranging The Furniture

I know what you’re thinking. You read the title of today’s blog post and you say, “Aha! MOV is going to write about how moving your furniture around is a metaphor for life, that if you take your normal surroundings and change them, you can get a fresh perspective on life.” Uh, no. I was going to talk about literally rearranging the furniture.

I became obsessed with rearranging furniture at a young age, maybe four years old. I had a dollhouse, and I remember taking every little chair and table and armoire out and then putting them all back in again, but in different rooms. Who says this has to be the bedroom? Why not make it the garage. The kitchen doesn’t have to be on the bottom floor—maybe move it to the third floor instead.

Later, I morphed into a teenager who got bored easily, and what better way to stave off monotony then to move the furniture? Let’s see what this dresser looks like on that side of the room. What about that shelf next to the bed? There was no problem so big that it couldn’t be fixed by pushing a piece of furniture to an adjacent wall.

This caused, as you might imagine, a bit of friction in the family. My mother would walk in a room and declare, “You moved everything again? That’s what, the third time today? It looks good, just leave it now.” With no warning, my little sister would come running into my room fully expecting to jump on my bed, and would unceremoniously land on the floor instead—PLOP!

As I got older, I took this addiction fun little habit on the road. I lived with my grandmother while I was in high school, and I quickly came to realize that her living room might look a little bit better if she only moved the couch facing the fireplace, and the TV over by the window. She discovered the changes to her home the way all of my victims did: by stubbing her toe. “MOV! MOV, you get in here this instant! Who told you that you could move all my furniture? But … this does looks fabulous, and now I need your advice on where to put the desk in my study.”

That was the thing, the reason I was never stopped: everyone loved the changes. In college, roommates and sorority sisters wanted my advice, as did the UPS guy (he got a glimpse of my newly-rearranged living room and then made a quick sketch of his family room for me to give my opinion). Flash forward to today, and my girlfriends are not offended in the least when I say, “Have you ever thought of putting your dining room table in front of the fireplace?”

The Husband, however, remains unconvinced. His attitude toward furniture can be summed up in two words: status quo. He gets very grumpy when he comes home and can’t find the coffee table that was there just this morning. After 14 years together, two apartments, and three houses, he should know what to expect. Lucky for him, the size of our current house (teeny tiny) makes furniture rearranging prohibitive. The dining room is only 9 x 9 feet, which means the dining room table can go … in the middle of the room, under the chandelier. Our master bedroom (master!) measures in at a whopping 10 x 8 feet, meaning the bed can go on the one large wall and nowhere else. Complicating matters is the fact that our 1942 home has radiators in every room, which hinders original furniture placement let alone its subsequent rearranging.

We discuss our future plans to expand the house someday, perhaps adding a huge family room on the back with walls of windows looking out at the beautiful trees in the yard. Whenever I bring up the dimensions of the new room, The Husband gets a panicky look on his face. “So, you want the room to be 22 x 22 feet? Uh, where would the sofas go?” And then I impress him with all the myriad possibilities, sofas facing the fireplace, sofas facing the window, sofas facing the patio … and then I lose him: “We could even put the sofas diagonally if we wanted!”

He is overwhelmed. He goes in the bathroom, turns on the water, and fills the tub. I knock on the door. “Why are you taking a bath right now? It’s 2 PM.” He answers simply, “Because you can’t move the tub, I know exactly where it is.”

Maybe I have taken this furniture rearranging too far.

(“Moving Our Village”)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

310. Just Use Our Automated System

I don’t do well with automated systems. I panic when I drive up to a toll booth where I must insert exact change. Self check-out at the grocery store gives me the hives.  So it should come as no surprise that I had a very difficult time ever booking myself on a vacation flight when I worked for United.

On the surface, it sounds simple enough: call the special phone number, follow the voice prompts. Sure—very simple, if by simple you actually mean “complicated.” I would call the system and enter my employee ID # (called “personal metric”—Terrorists, take note). Then, a very pleasant sounding male voice would say, “Leaving from what city, please?” And I would say, “Denver, Colorado,” and The Voice would repeat “Des Moines, Iowa, is that correct? Please press one if correct.” And here I’d be panicking, saying, “No! No! Not Des Moines! Den—ver!” and the helpful-sounding Voice would say, “So sorry, my mistake, Nashville?” Argh!

We’d go back and forth like this, The Voice and I, in our own little tennis match of naming cities and trying to enunciate clearly. My favorite was me trying to fly to San Diego and him confirming in his soothing tones, “Did you say Singapore?” Me: “NO! Not Singapore! SAN DEEE— EGG —OHH!” Him (trying his best), “Was that Sydney, Australia?”

Remember what my job was at the time: I was a flight attendant. Remember where I spent an inordinate amount of my waking hours: at the airport. So, that being said, many of these one-sided conversations between me and my computer phone pal were taking place in airport gate areas, often with an audience. Picture the scene: me, in my uniform, rollerboard suitcase at my side, yelling into my cell phone, “I said Seattle! SEEE—AT—UHL! Nooooo!  No, don't do this to me!  Operator!” These poor random passengers, waiting for their connections to Chicago or San Francisco were probably looking at me like I was insane (“She must be talking to her crew scheduler, and apparently she really has something against Seattle. I hope she’s not working on our flight.”)

I have not received a paycheck from United in seven years now, since I had my first son.

I had forgotten all about United’s fun little phone system, until the other day when I called my favorite local restaurant to book a dinner reservation. A friendly computer answered the phone, “Welcome to Crazy Town Restaurant! If you’d like to make a reservation, please key in the time, followed by the pound sign. Then, press the asterisk if correct, and key in the number of diners in your party.” I did the only thing I could: hung up. We have left-over pizza in the frig.

(“Memphis? Ontario? Vegas?”)

Monday, January 24, 2011

309. Is She REALLY Employed?!

So I just realized that I never told you about how I got the job at the high-end kitchen store. Well, I had been whining to The Husband about how I needed to get out of the house a bit (the kids were 3 and 1), and I thought it might be “fun” (yes, my word choice) if I got a little retail job over the Christmas holiday. I filled out the job application and waited for my phone to ring.

And waited …

And waited …

Still waiting …

So they finally called me and I went in for the interview. Normally, I don’t stress about these kinds of things (who am I kidding, I practiced my faux-interview for hours in front of the mirror). I asked The Husband if he could do a Mock Interview (minterview? mockerview? intermock?) to help put me at ease. After I promised to do the dishes for an entire week in a row (and ultimately reneging after only two days this time), he said okay. Our minterview went something like this:

The Husband (pretending to be the interviewer): (taking his role very seriously) Hello, nice to meet you, how do you pronounce your name?

MOV: Sweetie, don’t do that. Just ask me real questions. Project Runway is on in 10 minutes.

TH: (whispering, so as not to break character—in case TV crews are recording us in the living room) I was trying to be realistic.

MOV: Read off the sheet I typed up. (pointing)

TH: What experience do you have?

MOV: Well, I was a flight attendant for a decade so that gives me lots of customer service background and …

TH: Don’t say decade, that sound stupid. It sounds rehearsed. No one says decade; say “10 years.”

MOV: (ignoring him) What does the sheet say?

TH: You know this is a kitchen store, do you like to cook?

MOV: Yes, I love to cook. I am an excellent cook. My family also …

TH: Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

MOV: (impatient) What now? What’s so funny?

TH: You don’t cook! You don’t know the difference between a whisk and a spatula! You don’t even know how to turn on the stove!

MOV: I do too. Plus, the kitchen store people will probably expect me to at least be familiar with their merchandise.

TH: What are you going to do—call me at home? “Sweetie, this customer wants to buy a grill pan, is that the one with the raised ridges on it?” Or “What is a santoku hollow-ground knife?” Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

MOV: (teeth clenched) Stop it. My show is almost on. Focus on the sheet.

TH: If there was a “problem” customer, what would you do?

MOV: I would be very polite and try my best to empathize with them and solve their problem, all the while following company guidelines and procedures.

TH: Oh, that was pretty good. Sounded kinda convincing. All right. Uh, why do you want to work here?

MOV: My availability would be evenings after six or pretty much any shift on the weekend.

TH: No. I didn’t say what hours can you work, I said why do you want to work here? Is it because of the discount?

MOV: I’m trying to be serious here. Quit doing that. (starting to crack up a little)

TH: I’m sorry. What I meant to say is: are you just begging me for a job so you can have a discount?

MOV: (going along with it) Yes, that’s right.

TH: Okay, then, do you have any questions for me, MOV?

MOV: When will I hear back? When can I start? And what is the discount?

You know what happens next. There I am, in the real interview, and my (future) boss is asking me all the same things I rehearsed with The Husband. I feel relaxed and confident because I already know all the answers to her questions. And then she gets to that final one: “Do you have any questions for me?”

My mind immediately races to my practice answer “What is the discount?” and I start laughing. I imagine the Husband sitting here with me in this back office with the rows of pristine white aprons hanging on hooks lining the wall and him saying “Is that why you want to work here?” and me saying “You betcha!” I cannot get this soundtrack from our minterview out of my brain.

The interviewer is staring at me. She doesn’t understand why I’m giggling (and between you and me, would it be unprofessional to giggle at the “problem” customers? I’m guessing it would). Finally, I try to squeak out an answer (“I don’t have any more questions for you, sorry, I laugh when I’m nervous sometimes”), when she drops the bomb.

“We expect our employees to be very flexible about their scheduling blah-blah-blah social security something-or-other corporate secrets blah-blah-blah and by the way, our discount is 90% off.”

Yippee! 90% off!

Just when I think it can’t get any better (and I know you are thinking this whole blog is a dream sequence and I assure you it is not) she says,

“… and you also get the discount at our sister store, Flawless Forte. Same discount of 90% off.” She smiles broadly, revealing model-straight teeth that an orthodontist would kill to have featured in his ads for the “After” photos.

“Excuse me, did you just say the discount applies at Flawless Forte? Because that is one of my favorite stores! Almost my entire house is from Flawless Forte!” I am babbling.

“Good, good—me, too! When can you start?” She gets out her notepad, ready to write in my start date.

I am already standing and reaching for a white apron. “I can start right now,” I say enthusiastically. “Let me just call my husband and ask him a quick question about kansotu grill whisks.”

(“Mom’s Other Vocation”)

308. Pokemom

If you have a seven-year-old or if you are a seven-year-old yourself, you can skip today’s blog, as you could have written it yourself. Still there? Please, come on in. Enter the dark secret world of all things Pokemon.

Now, having grown up with a sister (hi, Oakley!), we never had Pokemon. We had Barbies. I remember my sister and I spending hours “choosing” our Barbies and all their accessories, down to the last little shoe or purse. We would lay out all the possibilities in neat rows and most of our “play” time was actually gobbled up with us going back and forth bickering over the acceptability of each other’s selections (“If you're going to choose the white fur coat, then the shoes and purse combined should only count for one pick for me, not two.”). I got this part down to a science: being the older sister, I would pretend I was interested in something (say, that ugly green jumpsuit) and then I’d talk it up so she would pick it.

Oh, how I miss the simple days of mind manipulation. Now, Tall has a passion for Pokemon cards. We have his friend Ashton to thank for this, as Ashton gave these cards out as party favors at his recent birthday party (thanks a lot, Ashton, and Ashton’s mom:  you've ruined me).

In a word, Tall is: obsessed.  He sleeps with the precious cards mere inches from his bed, and he wakes up spewing important details about these Japanese characters, such as “Muk can do 50 damages”—whatever that means. Tall corners me several times a day (more on week-ends) saying will-you-play-Pokemon-with-me-will-you-play-Pokemon-with-me-please-please-Pokemon in a relentless loop. Naturally, I try to force the game off on my unsuspecting husband (“MOV, I’m trying to make dinner here, if you want to make dinner I’m happy to play a Japanese card game with him,”). Eventually, I succumb.

Tall grins at me, partly because he’s worn me down, but mostly because he knows he’ll win. We sit down and he starts dealing out the cards. I do not qualify for the luxury of having the rules explained to me in advance. Apparently, in Pokemon World, things are on a need-to-know basis. “Please, Tall, please can you give me a quick run-down on the essentials?” (Insert Tall’s condescending gesture of eye-rolling here). “How ‘bout I just tell you as we go along, Mom, it might be too complicated for you.”

I would scoop up all the cards and throw them at him in a rage if he weren’t right. It is too complicated for me. These unpronounceable characters have nicknames and powers and levels and damages (an inordinate amount of time is spent going over damages, does my kid have law school in his future?). There are also various “points” associated with each one, and from what rudimentary knowledge I’ve garnered, you play by setting down one of your cards against your opponent’s, while your opponent proceeds to tell you how your card sucks and his card is so much better. Next, you lose. Over and over again.

I am immediately nostalgic for the uncomplicated times of “CandyLand,” “Sorry!” and even “Monopoly.” With the first one, as long as you weren’t colorblind, you could figure out how to play (“Mommy, your card is green. Move your person to the green square here.”). With the second, basic one or two digit numbers were involved (“Your card says two, Mom, move your game piece two spots.”). My favorite, “Monopoly” required the advanced skill of knowing how to read dice. Fortunately, I’ve been to Las Vegas and I can roll dice with the best of them.

As Tall is dealing the cards and taking my so-called “bad” cards (shades of me manipulating my little sister all those years ago?), I am zoning out, thinking about backgammon. Backgammon is a game of advanced skill and planning, and by some random trick of nature, it is a game I excel at.

Tall wins again. What a surprise. The Husband calls us to dinner, we eat, then get the boys ready for bed. After we read to them and turn the lights out, The Husband and I retreat to the living room. “Ready for House Hunters?” he says, “They might even have an international episode tonight.”

I ignore his offer as I walk toward the front hall closet. I return with a small briefcase. “I don’t feel like watching TV tonight,” I say, “Let’s play backgammon.”

(“Monopoly Or Videos?”)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

307. We Got Game

I’m not good at game shows. I suck at Trivial Pursuit. Any kind of charades or friendly get-together with a “game night” theme has guests whispering things like, “you take her” or “no, we were stuck with her last time” or “for once I’d like to win, dammit.” So it was a complete shock when The Husband and I stood up at his company’s annual party (theme: Game Night) and enthusiastically volunteered to be contestants.

No one made us do this. In fact, no one would’ve noticed one way or another if we just sat there for two hours, sipping our free Pinot Grigio and stealing extra chocolate mini-eclairs from the buffet table.

But, as fate would have it, word got out about the prizes involved. (Yes—there were prizes.) Turns out, you would automatically win some sort of prize for merely participating. This was my kind of contest (insert flashback here about winning trophies in junior high sports for things like “most improved”, which means you were really really bad to begin with, or “missed the fewest practices”). The grand prize, the paid announcer called out on his static-y microphone, would be a $25 gift card to the Emporium of All That MOV Loves: Target.

I was motivated.

We were put in three teams of three, multiplied by three separate rounds, and then the top teams for each round would compete for the grand prize. My head was spinning just trying to keep up with the rounds and teams and multiples of three, and we hadn’t even answered the first question yet.

Our turn. We strode (yes strode, that’s how winners walk) up to the podium area, which was set up to realistically resemble a TV show, complete with electronic buzzers and flashing scoreboard. The Husband, myself, and one of the Husband’s work colleagues (we’ll call him Brains, because let’s skip ahead, he’s the reason we won), lined up in a neat row, hands poised above our buzzer.

Then the humiliation began. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, we quickly learned that it was not a game of skill, but a game of who could press the buzzer first. We (okay, me) started randomly pressing the buzzer before the announcer had even finished asking the question. This progressed (degenerated?) into pressing the buzzer before he had even asked the question. My nickname rapidly became Betty Buzz-All.

Some questions were super easy, like "Please identify this TV show theme song" (Gilligan’s Island) or "Is a tomato considered a fruit or a vegetable?" (correct answer: fruit). Unfortunately, these were the types of questions reserved for the other rounds in which we did not compete.

I was ready for the high-brow literary questions I anticipated being on the roster, like “Who is Rosebud?” (hint: a sled) or “Which Meg Ryan movie also starred Tom Cruise?” (that would be Top Gun) or even, “name that really famous bridge in Venice, Italy” (Rialto). Instead, we were expected to know the answers to inane things like, “Which team was first awarded the Vince Lombardi trophy and in which year?” Since this was a sports question, and The Husband is a sports fanatic, I assumed (there’s that word) that he would know the answer. I was only helping him out, really, by getting a slight head-start on pressing that buzzer so he could gloriously announce the correct answer (Baltimore Colts, in Miami, 1970). Come to find out, The Husband is not quite so adept at answering sports-related trivia questions after all.

As previously mentioned, we were lucky enough smart enough to have Brains on our team, and thank God for him. He spit out correct answers like watermelon seeds at a summer picnic. He blurted out “Minnesota!” or “Ontario Lake!” or “the color red!” in rapid succession, each time gaining another 10 points for our pathetic excuse for a team (how was I supposed to know we’d get points deducted for wrong answers? that hardly seems fair).

The pressure was on. We had progressed to the point where the announcer was incorporating taped lines from movies or TV shows. I listened carefully with my eyes tightly closed (everyone knows you can improve your sense of hearing, and possibly mental prowess, by closing your eyes tightly) as a gravelly voice mumbled something (a sentence, perhaps just a word) and My Personal Guardian Angel of Game Shows came and sat on my shoulder and whispered the right answer: Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Applause rose amidst murmurs of “well, of course” or “I was going to guess that.”

This was, for me, the highlight of the evening. It was to be, sadly, the only question I would get right, thus barely preventing me from completely humiliating my entire team (which was the track I had been on).

Miraculously, we made it to the bonus round. The Husband and his good old buddy/ new best friend Brains got lots of right answers. Enough to cause us to win. We proudly picked up our respective Target cards and I said a little prayer of thanks to my secret helper.

A few minutes later, I went to use the ladies room. After washing my hands, I looked around for where to dry them. I did not see one of those hot air blow-y things, nor did I see a neat stack of paper towels. At last, I noticed one of those electronic motion-sensor paper towel dispensers. I didn’t read the instructions, although I’m sure they said something like “Put hands here, Dummy.” Instead, I boldly, some might say brazenly, waved my hands under the red laser light while paper towels popped out. I smiled, smug. Finally, there was one thing I knew the answer to.

("Matter Of Victory")

306. The Next Bachelorette on ABC

I’m not ashamed to admit I watch The Bachelor. Two hours of escapist brain candy about a hunky bachelor traveling around the world on his quest for true love? Sign me up! My beloved husband of ten years does not feel quite so, how shall I say, enamored with my particular choice of TV shows: “We’re watching this crap again?”

He complains that the show is “unrealistic.”  Well, duh! It’s a reality show! He mentions that the girls seem like they're made of plastic and that they seem shallow (“All they care about is their hair and their make-up and if the Bachelor is going to let them wear an expensive Neil Lane diamond necklace on their date to the Sydney Opera House.”)  He points out that no self-respecting girl would subject herself to the blathering competition of 23 other girls. He’s right: I don’t think there’s a lot of self-respect involved.

But that’s not what today’s blog is about. No. Come take a peek inside my brain, because I had a dream.

I’m on the show. I’ve got the gowns, the make-up, the fake tan. The Bachelor’s noticed me, and he’s chosen me to go on our first one-on-one date (doesn’t the word “date” traditionally imply one-on-one? Not in ABC’s Bachelor World). We’re standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower (or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the London Bridge, choose one). He whispers to me how lovely I look, how “real” I seem, and how he hopes I’m there “for the right reasons.” He leans in for the kiss when it dawns on me: yikes!

Here you’re probably thinking, “Yikes is right. She’s already married, plus she has two sons—hence the blog name of mothersofbrothersblog. She can’t be on The Bachelor.”

Now, before you get all upset and outraged and judgmental, stop to think for a minute that The Bachelor is, in fact, a very open-minded and liberal show. There’s always at least one girl who’s divorced. There’s always one (sometimes more) who has a child. So what? I’m breaking new ground: I’m the first one to go on the show who has both a husband and a child(ren)!

The reason I say “Yikes” when I'm about to be kissed in front of millions of viewers (fans?) on national television is not because I’m worried what my kids will think, or what my actual husband will think when we watch this episode together later (“Hon, that girl looks a lot like you.”); no. The reason I say “Yikes” is because I'm suddenly fearful that my in-laws will see the show, and that they will be really upset.

Hell hath no fury like a mother-in-law scorned.

(“Made Of Veneer”)

Friday, January 21, 2011

305. Blind Date

So there I am having a nice lunch out with my dear friend Sammi, and she’s gushing about how great it is to see me and get caught up, when she cavalierly adds, “Much better than all those blind dates I’ve been on lately!” right before she takes a giant bite of her turkey and avocado sandwich.

I choke on the foam of my cappuccino as she chew-chew-chews her sandwich. My mind is racing. Sammi is married, has been for about a million years, and has never confided to me before any inkling of trouble on the domestic front. Blind dates (plural)? What the – ?

Maybe this is how liberal people some people keep their marriages alive? I knew she was a Democrat  person who did not vote Republican, but I never knew she was Mormon part of a different religion that might possibly allow multiple wives or husbands. 

I started to think about her sweet, kind, devoted husband. I wonder if he knows? I wonder if I should tell him? How could he not know? Why would she do this to him (and did she meet her blind dates on the Internet on one of those match sites)? Are they in counseling? Did he cheat? Perhaps there are things I don’t know about Sammi and her husband.

She is wiping avocado off her chin when I finally get my voice back. “Blind dates?” I croak.

“Yeah, you know, blind dates with all those other moms?” Now she has somehow involved other mothers. Is this the latest trend in Crazy Town? Why am I always the last to find these things out?

“So, MOV,” she continues, blasé as cold soup, “Jack has this new friend Dylan and the mom invites him over for a playdate. Well, I’ve never met Dylan before, nor the mom, so I'm wondering if I am supposed to stay? I took him over there last week when we had the day off from school and I’m sitting there making all the small get-to-know-you talk, how long have you lived here, do you work, blah-blah-blah. And she starts chain smoking, but she’s wearing this bright red lipstick and getting it all over her cigarettes. And she has the TV on in the background and it’s some inane game show, like, at maximum volume. And then she asks me what type of skin-care I use because she apparently sells Mary Kay and wants me to come to her next make-up party so she can sell me all that crap. I swear, it’s enough to make you want to slash your wrists.” She grins wide, a small piece of lettuce stuck in her teeth. “It’s just so refreshing to have lunch with you and I already know you and vice versa and I don’t have to launch into my entire backstory.” She takes a big sip of her ice water.

“Oh, I get it! You mean hanging out with these other moms is like going on a blind date.”

“Right, that’s what I said.”

“Uh, so,” I struggle, wanting to add something valuable to the conversation, “will Jack be having future playdates with Dylan?”

“What do you think?” pause, “Okay, that’s mean. Dylan is a cute kid, I guess I could have him over, as long as Mrs. Nicotine Make-Up stays home,” she says, laughing.

I nod, glad I’m not Mrs. Nicotine Make-Up.

A pretty lady in a red coat swoops into the restaurant and sits at the booth next to us. I notice that she is staring at me.

Sammi leans in. “Do you know that woman?” she whispers over her dessert menu.

I shrug, then shake my head no. “I don’t think so.”

“Molly?” says the woman, clearly talking to me, “Excuse me, aren’t you Short’s mom?”

“It’s MOV,” I say, startled that she’s talking to me, like a character on TV is addressing me directly from inside the black electronic box.

“Hi,” she smiles warmly, “I thought it was you. I’m Gail, Tyler’s mommy? We should get Tyler and Short together for a playdate. Tyler adores Short and talks about him non-stop.”

“Okay, that sounds great. My email is on the school list. Maybe we could do it after school next Wednesday?” I offer.

“Sure, sure, that sounds perfect. Oh, and I’d love for you to stay too for coffee,” she adds, “I’d love to get to know you better.”

Sammi winks at me. She’s not the only one going on blind dates.

("Mom Or Venus?")

Thursday, January 20, 2011

304. What Does MOV Stand For Anyway

It’s been reported to me that people are under the impression that this blog is run by only one person. The 22 of us who work here got a huge laugh out of that. First of all, how could one person possibly write so much amazing material in such a short amount of time and continue to produce quality essays day after day after day for over six months now?

The answer is: she can’t. MOV is, if you must know, a corporation. MOV actually stands for (ready?) Multinational Organization Vertex. (If you are wondering what “vertex” means, and 21 of us were, Webster’s defines it as “the highest point, top”—this is as opposed to “vortex” which means “black hole, suck the life out of, disappear completely; alternate definition: motherhood”.)

So, here at Multinational (that’s what we call ourselves for short, I mean, who even knows how to pronounce “MOV”? that’s goofy, isn’t it? Should it be MOV, like the color mauve, or is it actually the letters pronounced individually M-O-V? Who knows?), 22 people labor day and night (well, truthfully a lot of nights) to bring you writing so sharp, you might cut yourself (it’s just an expression, the only cutting around here is paper-cuts).

We thought, since we are finally exposing this sham for what it really is (a sham), that you might like to meet some of our team. First and foremost, we have our Chief Writer. She is a cutie-pie, despite her drastic mood swings. Give her a piece of Godiva chocolate, and she turns nice. Second, we have our Lead Researcher (that’s “lead” pronounced “leed”, not “led” researcher. What is there even to research about lead? Uh, that it’s bad? that they make pencils out of it?). She goes on that little website (Google) and finds out things, important things, to report back to you.

Third, we have our invaluable Focus Group Consultant. She talks to focus groups and get people’s opinions about potential blog ideas. If they are dumb ideas and she decides to do them anyway, she might have someone post a few choice comments about those particular postings.

This brings us to our Comment Poster. I know, I know, here you thought all those wonderful comments were legit. Here’s a hint: they’re not. Any time you see a comment that says “Oh, that was the best blog I ever read, you are hilarious!”, yep—that is our good old Comment Poster. She takes her job very very seriously. In fact, the other day when a couple of us (well, 17 or so) were complaining that Comment Poster was useless and a money suck on payroll, BAM, she goes and comes up with this whole banter back and forth between “MOV” and some random commenter. It was like, “I hate your blog” and then the response was, “Go away don’t read it” and on and on. She, like, totally got a raise after that. Do you know how high our ratings went in just that one day?

Payroll Administrator. Her job is super-important, because this is, after all, a job where we all get paid. Our Chief Writer gets paid (and I’m not embarrassed to tell you this because you could just Google it anyway) one million dollars per year. We feel she is worth more, but the Payroll Administrator says that’s all we can afford for now. Everyone else on staff gets $500,000 per year, plus stock options. We feel we are being underpaid, but in this economy, what can you do?

Who did I leave out? Oh yeah, High-End Kitchen Store Advisor. She basically helps us to “keep it real” by constantly keeping us abreast of what it would be like to work in a nice store. MOV does not actually work there, as she does not need to (remember the part about the million dollar salary?). It is, however, super-critical that everything sound official and believable.

There are a few jobs I am leaving out (boring stuff like Snack Getter), but the last job I want to mention is probably the Really Great Liar.

She wrote this whole post.

(“Multinational Organization Vertex”)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

303. It's A Date

You look at the clock. 7 PM. You are nowhere near being ready. Yikes. You hear your husband in the next room, reading bed-time stories to the kids, doing his part. “Sweetie,” he calls out, as if reading your mind, “Reservation is at 7:30!”

You are excited, nervous even, because you haven’t been out to a nice restaurant in about six months. You anticipate ordering wine, enjoying a meal that does not come with a plastic action figure, holding a normal conversation without being interrupted by small screaming children, and most likely ordering dessert. Perhaps two desserts.

You jump in the shower and soap up all the parts that need soaping. No time to wash your hair, maybe you can rock a ponytail? You hop out, quickly dry off, then brush your teeth, chastising yourself for not doing that in the shower, multi-tasking.

Your outfit is laid out on the bed, tight black sweater and khaki pants. Boring. Maybe gray skirt instead? But then, you can’t remember if you have any tights without runs. Better stick with the pants. Add the turquoise necklace. What about the new sweater with the beaded part on the collar? That would be cute, ooh, especially with some black pants. Okay, the entire outfit is re-worked. Ditch the necklace, don’t need it with the special beaded collar thing.

Now you go back in the bathroom and start putting on make-up. Black eyeliner, blue mascara, pink blush, red lipstick. Your four-year-old calls this your rainbow face. What does he know. Tone the make-up down a bit. Finish up with a bit of powder.

Next, the hair. The hair is, well, greasy. You take a bit of baby powder and rub it in your hands and through your roots. You didn’t really think this through because now there is powder on your black pants. You swear, not realizing the kids can hear you in the next room. “What does that mean, shit?” says your seven-year-old in his voice made of sugar. You decide to keep focusing on your hair for now, pulling it back tightly in a smooth ponytail and clasping it with a sparkly barrette. There. That looks nice.

You zip past the boys’ room and your husband calls out, “Hon! You have something white on your pants, did you know that?” Yes, you did, but he’s not helping.

You slip off the black pants and put the original khakis on after all. It looks fine. You grab some earrings, an afterthought, and put them on. Fake diamond studs. You pricked your left ear and it’s bleeding a little bit.

“It’s 7:15, time to go!” yells out the human rooster that is your husband. I know I know I know you don’t have to tell me I’m not stupid, is what you’re thinking. What you say: “Thanks, Sweetheart!”

You slip on your black leopard-print heels that you decided go with the outfit (they don’t) and walk to the front of the house to look out the window for Jenny. As if on cue, she knocks on your door.

You call out to your husband who is still in the boys’ bedroom, “Sweetie, she's here! Come on!”

He appears in the doorway of the dining room. He is wearing sweats and has not shaved. He has some sort of stain on his t-shirt (coffee? ice-cream?).

You open the door and say hi to Jenny. She smiles wide. You look so nice, she tells you, as if she’s never seen you look like this, which, come to think of it, she probably hasn’t.

You ask Jenny if she’s already picked them up, and she says yes. She tells you that Anne-Marie, Kate, Brenda, and Sammi are all in her mini-van. You are the last one.

You give your husband a quick kiss and say goodbye. He tells you to have a good time.

You will.  You are dating your mommy-friends now.

("Mommies Ordering Vodka")

Monday, January 17, 2011

302. Formula For Perfect Motherhood

Because I am a perfect mother with perfect children and a perfect husband and a perfect job living in a perfect house, there is no one more qualified than me to give you, my perfect readers, my special formula for a perfect life.

Prozac, and lots of it. (Oh, that would be a short blog, huh?)

No, no, you get the full page, here we go:

Step 1: When you wake up in the morning and your children are bickering incessantly, pretend they are someone else’s children. Like your husband’s. He can deal with them. Go back to sleep.

Step 2: When your children whine and complain that they are sick of “boring old cereal” for breakfast again, ask them if they like camping. When they say yes, remind them that campers eat cereal for breakfast. Tell them they are “practice camping” and see how their attitude changes!

Step 3: When your children can’t find their homework and blame you for it (?), send them to school without it. Remember back to the time when you were a small child and forgot your homework and how bad you felt. Feel sorry for them. Ah, what the heck, they’re kids! They’re resilient—they’ll bounce back. Maybe.

Step 4: After you put the kids on the bus for school, try not to say, “Mondays are the best!” out loud in front of all the other bus-stop parents. Thinking it is okay, but not saying it.

Step 5: When your husband calls you from work and you happen to be catching up on your TiVo’d episodes of your favorite show TopChef, try to sound really really busy. Maybe mute the TV during his call (you can rewind that part in a minute). When he asks you what you’re up to, just say you “have a lot going on and need to get going”.

Step 6: When your boss calls you from work and asks if you can pick up two shifts at the high-end kitchen store, look at your completely blank calendar and tell her you’ll have to get back to her. Doodle little stick people in pencil all over the margins of your calendar. Call her right back. Apologize and tell her you “already have something penciled in for those dates” but wish you could help. While you have her on the phone, ask her if those blue checked place-mats went on sale yet and when your Christmas bonus is going to come through.

Step 7: Tell yourself that you are going to work-out in your nice basement gym. Walk down there and look at exercise bike. Look at cd player and wonder where your 80’s cd is. Go back upstairs and look for it. Maybe it’s in the kitchen. While you’re in the kitchen, decide to have a few small tiny spoonfuls of Ben and Jerry’s. Sit down on couch with pint container because it is too frozen to chisel out the spoonfuls. Turn on House Hunters for a few minutes while you wait for ice-cream to soften up a bit. Perhaps eat entire pint and watch three full episodes of House Hunters. Think about working-out tomorrow instead.

Step 8: Go upstairs to write blog. Try to think of funny things the kids said. Funniest thing you can come up with is older son saying “slow folks” instead of “slow pokes” and younger son calling hand lotion “lotion-izer”. Decide to maybe not write about kids today after all.

Step 9: Walk into kitchen and decide to make dinner for once in your life. How hard can it be to make pasta? Root through the cupboards to assemble crucial ingredients. Find missing homework in random drawer (?). Notice that you are dangerously low on wine. Panic.

Step 10: Decide you still have time to zip to the corner market before you pick up the kids from the bus-stop. Take $20 out of your older son’s piggy-bank (husband took your ATM card so you’d stop buying things at the high-end kitchen store was stolen recently) and walk to store. Buy bottle of Chardonnay and toothpaste (impulse buy so you won’t look like a lush). When you check out, be really glad that you don’t have to pay all in quarters. Like last time.

Step 11: Pick up the kids at the bus-stop. Loudly ask them in front of everyone else if they would like to do some special art projects and read books together when you get in the house. Once you are safely inside the front door, all have a good laugh about that and turn on the TV to Penguins of Madagascar.

Step 12: When your husband walks in the door, tell him you picked up his dry cleaning, cleaned the entire house, made dinner, and already gave the kids their baths. Have a good laugh because, really, that’s the secret to a good relationship, isn’t it? Laughter.

("Masquerade Of Valor")

301. She's Got Balls

Basketballs, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, volleyballs, golf balls, rugby balls, lacrosse balls, dodge balls, beach balls. When you live in a house with men and boys, there are a lot of balls around.

I step on them. I trip on them. I curse them. I laugh at them.

But mostly, I buy them, because they wear out.

Me at the sporting goods store when Tall was 3 years old buying his first soccer ball: “I guess I’ll take that one that is $25. That should hold us for the next 15 years or so.” (smug smile)

Me at the sporting goods store three months later: “Yeah, he wore it out. Who knew you could wear out a soccer ball out? Here’s my Visa card.”

Me at the sporting goods store last week: (Silent, takes ball, pays)

Me, walking into the sporting goods store yesterday: “Hey Shane, good to see ya’, Becky, how’s the baby? J.D, my man!” (Everyone else to me: “Hi MOV! Good morning! Hey, MOV’s back! MOVee, babe, how’ve you been?”)

Me at the sporting goods store this morning: “Do they come in, like, economy packs of 20? Or if not, could I maybe get a price break if I buy more than ten at a time?”

I never set out to be a soccer mom, and truly, I’m not. I’m a ball mom.

("Marking Outside Victories")

Saturday, January 15, 2011

300. My New Computer Is Possessed

So The Husband’s Christmas bonus came through, and the UPS guy delivered a lovely black box full of technology and wonder. Ah, yes, I’m talking about my New Computer.

The brother-in-law Robert was visiting and I wasted no time in securing his Guru Genius Computer Skills in hooking up and setting up New Computer.

First of all, I cannot say enough good things about New Computer and about Robert. New Computer is approximately 800,000 times faster than the old one (give or take a few times). I go to turn on New Computer and in the two seconds where I—sneezed? blinked?—new computer is up and running! No warm-up required here! The old computer might have taken 15 minutes or 4 hours to warm up, depending on its mood.

New Computer has a better memory capacity too. As I was flipping through the 500-page manual, Robert told me that New Computer has a capacity of 12 million gigabytes of RAM. I took a peek at the old instruction pamphlet for the previous computer: it had one half mini-byte of memory. Maybe less.

Also, Robert explained to me that although I had been referring to the old computer (hereafter to be called: That Piece Of Crap, or TPOC for short) as suffering from Alzheimer’s, computers are not technically able to become afflicted with this disease. (Did I mention that Robert is super-smart?) No. It’s not that TPOC was forgetting things, it’s just that TPOC had no more memory left for new important information (information like, that blog posting I just spent an hour on, or Tall’s school report on Martin Luther King complete with footnotes, or all of our financial information and tax records for the previous twelve months, or photos of the kids from Christmas).

Once, (and I know you think I am making this up but I assure you I am not) TPOC actually flashed a scary warning message at me. It read:

****Virtual Memory Almost Full****

Yikes, what does that even mean?

So, anyway, as I was saying, TPOC has gone to that great computer graveyard in the sky (okay, TPOC is sitting right behind me on the floor with random wires sticking out everywhere until we can figure out what to do with it) and I am typing on my lovely New Computer.

(takes quick break to pat New Computer and give it a smooch)

Yes, I luuuuuuhhhhvvvvvve New Computer.


There’s always a “but”, isn’t there?

It seems that New Computer (I’d better whisper here, I don’t want New Computer to be offended or worse, I don’t want TPOC to laugh and mock me) is quite possibly….. possessed. There I am, typing along and my super high-speed rate of 23 words per minute (some of them even spelled correctly the first time, natch), when I oh-so-subtly brush against an extra “helper” key along the bottom row of the keyboard and WHAM! I’m on some other screen I’ve never seen before. Now, this, I suppose, is at least more interesting than getting that bizarro page that TPOC used to deliver (“page has expired” or worse “internet connection lost—report problem?”).

But, like that bratty kid in 8th grade who had all the answers (the correct ones too) and had to raise his hand every five seconds to share his wisdom with the entire class, these extra keys are just show-offy.

I don’t know what they do. I don’t particularly want to know what they do. Heck, they might be able to fly me to Mars, but I just want to look at that periwinkle blue scarf on etsy, thankyouverymuch.

What kind of screens pop up, queries The Husband after he decides he can’t stand my whining anymore (”I thought you wanted a new computer, and what does TPOC stand for again?”). Well, if I am typing a document, an “Outline” option might suddenly appear. I scan in desperation for the “GO BACK” arrow. Please, just let me GO BACK! Another fun one is: New Computer will make some sort of happy chime sound and then I realize I have inadvertently closed the window I was just working on. Ack! No chimes! No chimes! I am like Pavlov’s dogs in reverse.

So, New Computer and I have come to an uneasy truce. I will still smooch it and pat it, but I will also try my hardest to type with my fingers up high and not dragging on the secret helper keys.

So far, so goo 82**^ksjnj$#doaifj009w4//9qqoh37&-wenbk


Function override

Restarting system


(“Moping Over Vibrations”)

299. An Inventory Of Sorts

My boss from the high-end kitchen store called me at home yesterday. “We need to talk,” she said, which we all know is shorthand for “I need to talk and you need to listen.”

What could she possibly be calling about, I wondered. Surely she had moved past the Unfortunate Incident of me eating an entire tray of chocolate covered almonds we were sampling at Christmas time (and in my defense, the tray had been on the counter in the back kitchen, how was I supposed to know it wasn’t intended for the employees?). And I hope she’d gotten over the time a few weeks ago when the actor Ben Affleck had sauntered into our store and I’d followed him around for half an hour like a puppy dog (come on, we’re talking Ben Affleck! I can’t be blamed for that).

“MOV,” she began in her firm, no-nonsense voice, “corporate sent me an email about you.”

My heart was racing. Was this good news? Would I be named Top Seller of the Year or maybe Most Helpful Associate in the Eastern Division?

“They said you have bought everything in the store. There is nothing left to buy, and furthermore, they believe that without the motivation of beautiful things you can buy at a huge discount, you just won’t be a very focused employee.”

“Wha— wha— what are you saying?!” I stuttered in disbelief. “I certainly have not bought everything, I think that might be a slight exaggeration, don’t you? I mean, I never bought the deep fryer or the panini press.“

“Our records indicate you have. Be honest, MOV, you bought the espresso machine, the blender, the toaster, the coffee maker, the All-clad pans, the Wusthof knives, the linens, the lead-crystal wine glasses, the French china, all that bakeware….”

“But, but..... so? That doesn’t mean anything! There are still plenty of things for me to buy!”

She paused. “Like what?”

“Uh,” I tried to rally, “uh, there are a couple cookbooks I haven’t bought yet? I could maybe, you know, buy a cake stand?”

“Ha! A cake stand! I have copies of all your receipts from the past three years right here in my hands and you bought a cake stand the very first week you worked here!”

She wasn’t making this easy.

“Boss, I don’t need to buy any more things. You’re right about that. But a paycheck, the money itself, could be a powerful motivator for me. I promise I will still do a good job, even though I have everything already. Please give me another chance.”

I heard her give a weary sigh. “MOV, when I spoke to corporate, they were pretty clear about their decision. Most of our employees don’t want to be paid in cash. They want pans.”

“Well, Boss, surely this has happened before? There must be some other employee that has gone through this same sort of thing, what did you do about this in the past?”

“MOV, I don’t know what to tell you. Your situation is rare. The last time this occurred, it was with an employee that had been with the company for fifteen years. You’ve only been here three and a half.”

Once again, I was the overachiever.

("Mom's Other Vocation")

Friday, January 14, 2011

298. Competitive Lunching

So I’m packing Short’s lunch and it dawns on me that I am not really packing it for him. Oh, sure, I want him to have a nutritious meal with apple and carrots and organic turkey and cheddar cheese and wheat bread…. but even more, I want to impress his teacher with what a Great Lunch Packer I am.

Initially, I took the easy way out and dutifully paid my $2.65 per day for a cafeteria meal. One nice day (well, it had been nice up until that point), I received a desperate phone call from Short’s teacher explaining that Short did not like the school lunches and was doing his own preschool version of a Hunger Strike.

Sigh. Drama School try-outs didn’t even start until third grade in Crazy Town.

I took what the teacher said to heart, and I started waking up fifteen minutes earlier (okay, two) to take the time to pack Short a well-balanced lunch. Just to be on the safe side, I zipped over to the computer to Google “well-balanced lunch” and “food pyramid” and “lazy mama” just to remind myself of what the new requirements were.

Brace yourself. Chocolate was not even a food group as I had previously thought. Other shining star staples that the American Pediatric Association does not consider “appropriate” for a young child’s dietary intake? Cake, cookies, ice-cream, candy, marshmallows, and pie. Not. Included.

It turned out okay, because The Husband does all the grocery shopping.  He immediately faced this new challenge with aplomb and purchased several suitable options, focusing heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables.

I can imagine all the four-year-olds in Short’s class opening their little lunch boxes in unison. I can clearly hear the collective oohs and ahhs from Short’s teacher and the assistant teacher (and, let’s be honest, all the envious children) when they see what a perfect meal Short has in his lunchbox. The lunchbox itself is a source of extreme pride: it is BPA-safe wait, BPA-free? made from the good kind of plastic that is entirely washable and reusable. I just got major bonus points right there. Next, the meal: grapes, blackberries, strawberries, and kiwi cozy up to a neat sandwich of free-range chicken (from Whole Foods!), and in the next little compartment, a few pieces of raw broccoli. Yes, raw. Impressive, I know.

While other children sadly look down at their pre-packaged over-processed high-fructose excuse for food, my child smiles triumphantly and chomps into his sliced kiwi. 

In my hazy dream of witnessing The Opening of The Lunches, the teacher bursts into spontaneous applause.

“Short!” she calls out, admiringly, “Your mommy packed you the most perfect and healthy lunch I have ever seen!”

Short, of course, nods in agreement and then adds something along the lines of “Wait till you see what she has in mind for tomorrow!”

My cell phone/ camera rings, jolting me from my happy vision. The caller ID reveals that it’s Short’s teacher, most likely calling to congratulate me on my lunch-making prowess. 

“Mrs. MOV? Uh, I was going to email you about this, but I thought maybe I should call you instead. Short has become fixated on Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, and he quotes the cartoon non-stop from the moment he arrives at school. In Sharing Time, he did an imitation of Bugs Bunny. How much TV, exactly, is your child watching per day?”

Years of studying and working hard to become a Professional Mommy had prepared me for this precise moment. “Miss Teacher,” I said softly, “We don't even own a television.  Must have happened at Grandma's house.”

("Marshmallows Or Vegetables")

ps--tomorrow's blog:  why I love TopChef more than ProjectRunway

Thursday, January 13, 2011

297. Elaborate House Plans

So we’re sitting at dinner and Tall announces, “I thought of my perfect house today. Would you like to hear about it?” He's offering me an opportunity to jump in his seven-year-old brain and peek around? Sign me up.

He started by counting off how many rooms there would be: 52 bedrooms, 23 kitchens (each with two dining rooms), 17 living rooms, 12 garages, and we haven’t even gone outside yet. Short was getting very excited listening to his brother’s grand plans; he wanted in on the action. “Will I get to live there with you?” he asked sweetly.

In a rare moment of magnanimity, Tall nodded. “Sure, Short, you and your wife can live with me.”

Short smiled broadly, revealing all twenty of his itty bitty Chiclets teeth. Then the smile vanished. “Uh, wife?!?”

Tall leaned in towards Short and said conspiratorially, “Do you know what a 'wife' is, Short?”

This should be good, I thought. What exactly is a wife? How does my seven-year-old define her?

“You know how you have to marry a girl when you grow up? That’s your wife!” he explained enthusiastically.

(Well, at least he didn’t imply that she had to do all the laundry and make the bed every day.)

Next, Tall wanted to describe what the outside of the house would look like. Three stories tall. Three miles long. One mile wide. What color? “White—like the White House.” Of course. There would be tennis courts and basketball courts and volleyball courts (maybe he’ll be a lawyer? he seems to favor courts) and pools and gardens with garden mazes.

As dinner table talk tends to do, we revisited a previous topic (where Short would stay and for how long—he will no longer live there with his new wife year-round, he will merely come for vacations).

The Husband shoots me a look. The look said, “Will we, the future old people, be shunned?” What he said out loud: “Can Mommy and I come visit you, too?”

Tall lit up (at the thought of free labor?). “Sure! Of course! You will have the biggest bedroom, well, I mean, after mine. There will even be a bathroom connected right to it. And, Mom, you’ll get your own kitchen with two dining rooms attached!” Obviously, I cannot escape the theme of preparing meals.

Short was getting bored of the conversation not being about him for two minutes. “I want my room to look like StarWars!” he blurted out.

Tall shook his head and laughed. Oh, stupid stupid little brothers. “No, Short,” he began firmly, “We’re talking about when you’re a grown-up. When you’re a grown-up, you’ll want something fancier than StarWars decorations.” He rolled his eyes at me, as if to say, “This is so far-fetched, this crazy stuff that Short wants!”

“Okay, so next, Mom, I need to tell you about the viewport thing on the top of the house. It will be one mile high.” Now Tall disappears to locate a pen and paper to record his genius.

The Husband whispers to me, “Is the kid designing a hotel? Or maybe a palace?” He snickers.

“What are you talking about?” says Tall suspiciously upon returning to the room.

“Uh, I was just wondering who is going to sleep in all those 52 bedrooms….” The Husband rallies.

“Pop! I don’t really mean 52! Actually, more like 15.” Sure, 15 makes a lot more sense.

“Does that mean you’ll have 15 kids, Tall?” The Husband presses.

“No, I mean, I don’t think so.” He considers his ideal number of children.

My ears perk up at the mention of future-grandmotherhood. “How many kids will you have, then, Tall?” I ask as nonchalantly as possible.

“Uh, four. I guess, four. I’m not really sure. I might have to ask my wife.”

Short has a practical question, “Tall, what kind of food will we eat there?”

Tall is on a roll. “Good question, Short,” he begins in full-on Teacher Mode. “In our garden, two hundred radishes will be picked per day, with 15% of radishes going to each kitchen.” He says this deadpan, and when I am ready to laugh, I notice he's being sincere.

The kid has never eaten a radish.

(to be continued…..)

(“Mother Of Visionary”)

296. 100 Goal

Thank you loyal readers for clicking on to my site.  I am trying to get my blog essays made in to a book, and I have a small favor to ask:  if you like my writing and are not an official follower, please click on the follower link (on the bottom right) and sign up.  Nothing bad will happen, you don't even have to use your real name, you can call yourself "Garden Girl" or "World Traveler" or "Dog Lover" or whatever. 

My goal is to get 100 followers, and I am up to 77, which I am very proud of considering I just started writing in June.  The other easy thing that would help get my followers up to 100 is if you could forward the link for my blog to your friends (or, why not, everyone on your entire email list). 

Thank you very much, and keep reading and re-reading!  There might be some older posts you haven't checked out yet, look back at Sept and Oct, some of those are hysterical. 


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

295. Perfect 10

I’m a perfect 10. Unless I’m a 12. Okay, sometimes I’m an 8. Yes, I’m talking about pants sizes. I do waver five or ten pounds here or there, but mostly it’s the manufacturers’ sizes that are questionable.

I’ve been known to buy a 14 (I'm tall), and only because I know the pants will shrink in about two seconds and I don’t want to be one of Those Girls. You know the ones: the ones that are wearing pants-way-too-tight that you wonder, “Huh, what saleslady told you those look good? because, you know, she lied.”

I was down to three pairs of pants (if the inventory of my pants is not exciting to you, as it is to say me or perhaps my cat, then maybe you should just skip today’s blog and re-read yesterday’s instead): I owned one pair of khakis, a pair of jeans, and a pair of plain black pants. (This is due to the untimely and much ballyhooed death of my other Beloved Jeans, the ones that fit exactly right, and the ones that ultimately had a tear in the back pocket that the Cruel And Possibly Possessed Dryer somehow parlayed into a giant rip. Sigh.)

I know this seems like a reasonable amount of clothing (as I can mix and match with various tops and sweaters), but if one of those pairs was in the wash (see horror story above), things did not bode well. I told The Husband I was going shopping.

You know what happens next: crying in the Macy’s dressing room. However, in this case the only crying was tears of joy because not only did I find some new pants that fit nicely, I also lucked in to a One-Day-Sale.

The trick, I have learned, is to ignore the size on the tag. Instead, grab the size “range” that you think might be appropriate (in my case: 10, 12, 14). Some designers are kind to my post-two-children body and their size 10 goes on easily and flatteringly (you know who you are, Ralph Lauren Polo). Others, uh, not so much. I hold a pair of pants up, squint, and hope for the best.

Happy with the results this time, I wore my new pants today. The Husband noticed a neat little sticker (that I thought I had thrown in the trash) adhered to my behind and said, “Hon? Why does this sticker say ‘12’? I thought you were, you know, a size 6? Did you know that the tag is wrong?”

I give him a big hug and a kiss. Today was our anniversary, and after over a decade together, he’s finally learned the right thing to say.

("Marni Or Versace")

294. The Dreaded Sleep-Over

So Tall asks me if he can have a sleep-over. Seven little seven-year-olds running around is about 49 times the noise level I can normally tolerate. Like the professional mommy that I am, I stall. “Where did you get this idea?” I ask sweetly.

He never does tell me where he got the idea. Instead, he begins to show me pages and pages of party details he’s already worked out. The kid has lists (did I mention that he is my child?). One list details the menu choices (hot dogs and pizza). One list suggests activities (“watch StarWars”), while yet another has the names of songs he would prefer for his very own musical mash-up (“Can’t Touch This” was a nominee—“Mommy, have you ever heard of that song?”). Location is of utmost importance (“I’m thinking we should do camping in the backyard, okay, Mom?”).

On to the list of invitees. Of course Player has made the list, as has Pal. Actually, most first-grade boys in a three-mile radius have their names neatly printed in Tall’s precise lettering on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of lined paper. “Can we invite (insert name here)? and what about (random kid he met once at playground)? and I was also thinking of (child I have never heard of who apparently did summer art camp with Tall)?”

I have not said yes (although my blatant interest in his ideas is kind of saying yes for me) but I have not said no either. I am residing in Maybe Land, a dangerous place for a parent to be.

The Husband walks in the room and gets a small whiff of Tall’s plans. Like a sunflower following the late afternoon sun, Tall’s head swivels to his father. “Pop! Mom and I are just talking about my sleep-over!”

At this point, my life flashes before my eyes. I am realizing that none (to be clear: none) of Tall’s friends have had sleep-overs yet, and if we go through with his plan, I will be the mother that all the other mothers hate: The Mom Who Introduced Sleep-Overs. Yikes—I’m not sure I am ready for that title, and the wrath it will produce with my frieghbors.

I walk to the window. Small snowflakes are falling from the sky, like a special gift from God just for me. I meet Tall’s eyes. “You know, this weather is too cold for camping,” I begin with as much faux sympathy as I can muster.

Now The Husband chimes in. “Your mother is right. I think we should wait until June.” The Husband is nodding, I am nodding. Tall, reluctantly, is nodding too.

It could snow in June, right?

(“Mom’s Only Victory”)

Monday, January 10, 2011

293. The Wig-Out Dance

Oakley is in town. You know what that means: every night we drink some wine, and after things have loosened up a bit, someone feels compelled to demonstrate the Wig-Out Dance. It happened again last night, and I wasn’t really prepared for it.

My lovely sister Oakley and her husband Robert are in town for her work and they are staying with us for four days. We sat around the dinner table last night telling funny stories and then my sister has to go and introduce The Rat Story. She launches into excruciating detail about this homeless shelter she was volunteering at and how the guy in charge asked if she could help him move some boxes from the storage closet and when they unlocked the door a rat ran out and zipped across her foot. I felt my foot tense up just listening to the story.

But then, on account of the wine (and let’s be honest here, probably on account of me egging her on), Oak got up from the dining room table and proceeded to reenact her great dismay at having a rat run over her toes. She threw her arms up in the air and then her entire body seemed to spontaneously burst up (not so much “jump” as “burst”). If there was an Olympic category for Best Wig-Out Dance, she would surely be a contender.

Not to be outdone, Robert decided to demonstrate his I Just Saw A Cobra moment (really—he saw a cobra, he was traveling outside of Hong Kong). Well, I had thought that Oakley had good height, but now I realized my mistake. Robert had her beat.

The kids wanted in on the act. Even though they barely knew what a “Wig-Out” is (surprising, as they have lived with me for seven and four years, respectively), they were out of their chairs and hopping around the living room like popcorn in oil.

I was laughing so hard my cheeks hurt.

Until it was my turn. The Husband has to go and pipe up, “Hon, what about the time with the, you know, slugs? on your leg?” I could practically recreate the Wig-Out Dance just thinking about it.

As the hostess, I don’t think it should be required that I perform the Wig-Out Dance. Here I would be wrong. The chanting began: “Wig-Out, Wig-Out, Wig-Out, Wig-Out.” It brought me right back to that ten minutes before I said my wedding vows.

Instead, I chose to recreate the Unfortunate Slug Incident as requested. I got up, pretended to be windexing the outside of my apartment windows (in a vain effort to get our deposit back), and then reenacted me noticing a slug on my thigh. I vividly remember my reaction: I windexed the slug. On my leg. Of course this did not make him fall off of me, as I had hoped. If anything, it made him clean and shiny. I was finally forced to touch the offending slugs (if memory serves, now there were more than one slug). My personal Wig-Out Dance, complete with spastic hand motions, was by far superior to the previous sorry imitations (in the form of The Rat Story and the I Just Saw A Cobra).

The Husband, possibly prescribing to the host-does-not-have-to-do-it theory, refused to participate, even though he repeatedly said his Wig-Out was the champion of all Wig-Out’s. Oh, yeah, buddy? Prove it.

Alas, something lame about a bee or maybe a wasp. All words.  That’s all you got?

A few more glasses of wine produced slow-motion versions of all the Wig-Out incarnations. Complete with the slo-mo look of horror on our faces as we call out the multi-syllable: “N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!”

Ah, the blessed Wig-Out Dance. Family traditions get me all choked up.

(“Mice Or Venom”)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

292. LOL

It has come to my attention that there are acronyms out there that I may have been misinterpreting. Several of my girlfriends like to text, and therefore they have adopted the lexicon. I receive enigmatic emails from them and then am expected to email right back. Like the swimmer on the swim team who was picked only so there’d be enough bodies to compete, I’m once again struggling to keep up.

Case in point: this lovely gem I received from my friend Coach:

“Hey! Wondering if we can get Darling and Short together for a playdate TOM. IMHO, they have such a good time together! CM. Your house this time? Let’s plan for afternoon. BTW, I read your blog the other night and LMAO. –Coach.”

Yikes. Who is this kid Tom? And if Short and Darling have such a good time together, why does Tom even need to be invited? Is he new to the area? That must be what that other thing means: IMHO (Important:  Moved Here in October). Whew—good thing I figured that one out. CM. What the heck is that? Oh: “Complete Migraine”. Of course. That must be why she wants me to take the kids this time (but again, do I have to include that bratty Tom kid?). I guess so, otherwise why would she have written BTW (“Bringing Tom With”). At least I don’t have to pick him up. And that last part about LMAO? Puzzling. I finally conclude that she must mean “Leave Me At Office” because I know she’s been working a ton of hours lately.

When I call her later, she seems confused when I ask her about Tom and if her headache has gotten better. When I explain that I am only referring to her email, she laughs. I’m still not sure why. Is she mocking me?

At least I know she doesn’t have a “girl crush” on me anymore. She has stopped signing her emails LOL: “Lesbian Only Love”. For this, I am grateful.

(“Misinterpreting Others’ Vocabularies”)

Friday, January 7, 2011

291. This Is How It Started...

So The Husband’s close friend is shipping out to Iraq (my intestines tense up as I type that). The Husband and his circle of friends from his college days want to toast Dave and have one more hurrah before he leaves (understandable). The thing is, they can not narrow down a date, time, or even place (not understandable). I ask you: is this a guy thing?

The Husband sends out what he thinks is a good email, “Guys, let’s get together before Dave leaves. Uh, maybe this week-end? You all free?”

Is that supposed to substitute for an actual invitation?

How girls do it: “Ladies! This Monday! 8 PM! Dinner! Continental Divide Restaurant in Crazy Town! RSVP right now!”

After this vague-ish email, The Husband (not surprisingly) receives the following emails:
  • “That doesn’t really work for me.”
  • “How about next week-end instead?”
  • “Sat is good, but not Sun”
  • “No sushi. Hate sushi.”
  • “Night is good, but not day.”
  • “Can do afternoon, but Charlie has a game that night, so I can’t do night.”
  • “I don’t want to drive far, ‘cause then I can’t drink. Where are we meeting?”
See? The Captain of Vagueness.

You know what happens next. Yep, the date gets moved. Was Saturday, now it’s Sunday. Yikes—I work Sunday, who will watch the kids?!

Accommodating wife that I am, I call a co-friend and beg her to trade schedules. She is a trooper and says no problem. Good. Now I work on Saturday.

With all the advance warning of a mugger (none), the “party” is changed back to Saturday. I am too embarrassed to call my co-friend to switch back (I prefer my current Work Label of “Know-It-All” to “Wishy-Washy Girl”). I tell The Husband we will get a sitter.

The venue has been changed no fewer than six times. 

The Husband is freaking out (who knows why, and anyway, couldn’t this have all been prevented had he just picked a place and time?). Amidst much pressure, I yet again trade my schedule (from a pleasing let's-sleep-in-a-little-bit 12--6 shift, to an early-riser 8--2 PM).

Needn’t have bothered. The perverse faction of the Well-Wishers of Dave that initially wanted a midday fiesta has been out-numbered and the latest news is that they are meeting up at 7 PM on Saturday night. My previous work shift would’ve been fine. I’m sure my boss is wondering why my schedule has been X-d out and re-written three times.

The Husband is no longer irritated and frustrated (frirritated?) at his so-called “friends”. Now he laughs. “What do you expect, Hon? That’s what guys do.” Now he is all smiles and inside jokes as he furtively emails back and forth pinning down the time and place like you might zero in fiercely with a rolled-up newspaper on a fly that is buzzing around your window sill—take that!

“It’s Dave,” he says, a grin as big as Alaska. “It’ll be fun.” It will be. I will hear about it later, and when The Husband retells his stories, I, too, will have a grin as big as Alaska.

(“Monsoon Of Vagueness”)

290. Ode On Coffee

Oh coffee, coffee
In the pot,
I like you cold
But prefer you hot.

I like you in the morning
Or afternoon too.
If I don’t have coffee
I come unglued.

Espresso, cappuccino,
I don’t care,
Just give me caffeine
And I’m there!

I walk in the kitchen
And start to pout,
Because when I open the cupboard...
“How can we be out?!”

("Mother's Oblique Vice")

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

289. It's A Lie

Your friend who knows you love cats has a small kitten that would be perfect for you.  She calls and tells you all about this kitten.  You are young and stupid and don't have children (yet) so you think it might be a good idea to have this little pet.  You and your husband have been thinking about having children and you think it would be good "practice" (your husband's word) to maybe have a pet to, you know, see if you are cut out to be parents.  Of course this would be a good test, you think.  You ask your friend on the phone what color the cat is because (remember, you are young and stupid) the color of the cat is of utmost importance.  "Uh, why?" says your friend.  You tell her that you like to wear black a lot, and your husband's favorite chair is black, and, well, to be frank you are worried about shedding.  If the cat is black, maybe the fur would blend in?  Your friend laughs (your friend is old and smart) and your friend tells you, sincerely, that this beautiful long-haired kitten absolutely (she emphasize the word "absolutely") does not shed (what a relief) and even if she does (but remember: she doesn't), the little kitten would be perfect because she is, in fact, a black cat.

Now seven years have passed.  You are no longer young (nor are you stupid).  You have the beloved black cat.  You also (even after the weak attempt at "practice" parenting on a hapless cat) now have two small children.  You still favor black pants and black skirts and black shorts and black sweaters.  You just pick off the cat fur, because it is everywhere.

You can now recognize a lie when you hear one.

("Meow, Or Variation")

288. Social Life

Then: “MOV, let’s see a movie!”
Now: “Can Tall come over for a playdate on the 12th?”
Then: “Would you like to go shopping with me after we have lunch, MOV?”
Now: “Short is invited to a birthday party on the 28th.”
Then: “MOV, can you and your husband meet us for drinks this Friday night?”
Now: “Tall’s basketball game was switched to this Tuesday afternoon.”
Then: “I have two tickets to that play you wanted to see! Are you free Saturday, MOV?”
Now: “Can Short join us for ice-skating?”
Then: “Please meet us to go shoot pool Wednesday night.”
Now: “Please drop Tall off at the pool after school on Wednesday.”
Then: “Hon, I’m exhausted. Let’s have a night in.”
Now: “Mom, we never get to do anything. Can we have a playdate?”

("Milieu Or Variable")

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

287. Opposite Of Empty Nest Syndrome (Revised)

I love my children. I do. I love their enthusiasm, their gap-toothed smiles, and their sticky hugs. I love watching them run in the backyard and kick a ball. I love how they try to set the table for dinner and are proud that they could help.


The vomit?  Not so much.  Poopy patrol?  Good riddance.  Permanent markers on the white couch (oh wait, that one was The Husband).  The crying, temper tantrums, angry slamming of doors?  (Uh, guess those last few were me.) 

Bickering of siblings:  won't miss.  Tattle-taling:  won't miss.  Whining:  won't miss.  After-lights-out-I'm thirsty:  won't miss.  5 AM wake-up call:  won't miss.  Accidental kick in the chin (don't ask):  won't miss.  The making-of-food-for-hungry-people all day long:  won't miss. 

I don't mind the dirt.  I don't mind the laundry.  I don't mind the money spent, nor the long hours.  It's mostly the noise level and the pure "physicality" of small children that wear on me.         

I think I might end up being the First Mother In History (who will publicly admit it anyway) that actually looks forward to Empty Nest Syndrome.

Aack! Did I just type that? Will the Mothering Police arrest me in the next five minutes?

There was a great TV commercial a few years ago (who knows what it was advertising) that showed a teen-ager going off to college. The teary-eyed parents wave goodbye to him as he drives away. Then, they practically sprint to his former bedroom and start taking measurements for a hot tub. When Junior returns for Christmas break, his parents (who seem to have forgotten he was due home) are luxuriating in said hot tub. Of course the ad made me laugh, but even more:  I could relate.  I say, yes! after 18 years, they have earned it.

I had a long and happy life before my two sons arrived on the scene, and I anticipate having a long and happy life once they go off to college. I enjoyed Act I, I am living Act II, and Act III does not fill me with dread.

What is wrong with me? Will I not miss my children?

I think what it is, is this: right now, I miss me.


286. Knock Knock

“Mommy, I have a new joke for you!” Short squeals.

“Okay, great! Let’s hear it,” I smile.

“Knock knock….” he begins.

“Who’s there?” I say dutifully.

(Very long pause. Too long.)

“Who’s there?” I say again, prodding helpfully.

“Uh, wait….. I don’t know this one.” Now he glares at me. Apparently, I have told him the wrong joke.


285. Angry Tsunami Of Toys

I’m drowning in toys. Plastic parts, wooden bases, metal poking-out-things; they are everywhere. When our house is quiet and still, they breed.

My children do not play with all of them. Of course they have their so-called “favorites” (today that honor goes to a “Bionicle”), but somehow they quickly lose interest. Unfortunately, the time-span of adoration is in inverse proportion to the monetary cost of the toy.

  • Empty paper towel roll (piece of cardboard), cost= 0.00……….. child will not part with, even amidst begs and bribes (“It’s a piece of trash! Play with your real toys!”). Uses item as a telescope or to play the drums or as a weapon to antagonize brother.
  • Building set with complicated instructions and 329 pieces, cost= $85………. This is the toy the child could not live without (“I will die if Santa does not bring me this!”), and now the child is no longer interested in it upon realizing how frustrating and time-consuming it is to build.
I cannot bear to get rid of this expensive toy, even though it sits on the shelf mocking us (“You bought me last year! I’m dusty now, no one has even looked in my direction for 11 months!”).  It was rated in the Top 10 by the American Pediatric Committee for stimulating learning toys. 

And yet…..

My 4–year-old pulls small pebbles from his pockets. “I like these,” he grins. (No Junior Archeology Kit required.)

Yesterday my 7-year-old rescued the 2010 calendar from the recycle bin because he wanted to make collages from the pictures………… I ask you, why did I buy an Budding Artist Starter Set for him?

Next Christmas, I vow to save money: my kids are getting some tinfoil and maybe a few leaves.


284. New Year's Resolution # 5

As of today, I will no longer have my 4-year-old son accompany me to the grocery store where he oh-so-helpfully proclaims (loudly, and in front of strangers), “Mommy! Don’t forget your vino! The wine aisle is right over here!”

(“Mistress Of Vino”)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

283. Is Chocaholism Hereditary?

Short wakes up and heads straight to the kitchen. He locates his Christmas chocolate coins quietly and efficiently. The only traces I find later are a few crumpled candy wrappers on the counter. Where did he get this nasty habit of consuming chocolate before 8 AM, I wonder to myself as I sip my 3rd cup of predawn chocolate hot cocoa. Must be The Husband’s side of the family.

("Mostly Orders Valrhona")

282. Almost

So I woke up at 3 AM today and my brain was spinning about the word “almost”. Who came up with that word? Probably a small child was involved: “Did you finish all your dinner, Sweetie?” “Yes, Mommy, all. Uh, except those peas. Most.”

The English language is a funny thing. “Almost” is not all, and it’s not most. It’s more like, yeah, good enough.

What word combinations are we sorely lacking? Well, I’ve touched on this one before, but how about a hybrid of friend and neighbor to describe just that: freighbor. Or a friend that is a co-worker: co-friend?

I will jump on the train with whoever coined the term “stay-cation” to fill in for a vacation at home. But let’s do it one better and come up for a term when you call in sick but you really aren’t: Day-cation.

I love words that look like what they are, like awkward. “Awkward” just looks plain awkward, what with that double “W” thing going on, and that “K” stuck right in the middle.….. almost like a middle-schooler with braces and a really bad haircut (oh, wait, that was me).

“Freeze” seems to have icicles coming off of it. “Sweltering” looks like steam rising off the asphalt.

Let’s modify “delay”: I think “de-late” is more fitting.

The other day I was at Starbucks and ordered a “capp-a-latte”. The girl knew what I was talking about. She turned to my husband and asked if he wanted a “mocha-ccino”. (Of course, we did have to wait in a long line first, a line where the Clever Marketers have placed things to buy, things like coffee mugs and stuffed animal Mooses and cd’s. Which begs the question: am I in line, or in “buy-n”?)

The only thing more frustrating than the word frustrating is trying to remember how to spell “frustrating”. The word “knowledge” drives me crazy. Is there a “D”? a “G”? Quite possible both? Let’s get rid of that and substitute my new word: brain-full. That sums up nicely what knowledge pretends to be.

I’m actually pretty good at spelling. I can spell most words. Well, almost.

("Meaningful Or Vapid?")