Saturday, March 31, 2012

727. Don't Spill!

As a veteran mom, I am used to spills.  Spills on the carpet, spills on the table, spills in the car.  Juice spills, milk spills, applesauce spills, spaghetti spills, ice-cream spills.  When this happens, I merely shrug, attempt to calm the young perpetrator of the spill, then utter some profound and soothing mommyism like “Oh, Sweetie, it was an accident.  Don’t worry, we’ll get you all cleaned up.”

That works great for my children; but who calms me when I spill? 
Although I have been known to spill at a party or on a romantic date with The Husband, I usually spill when I am by myself.  The kids are at school, and I am at my favorite local burger place buying a milkshake or a soda.  There I am enjoying my drink, acting like it is my God-given right to merrily imbibe of some refreshment. 

But, THEN, I will, inevitably and for no reason whatsoever, spill.  When I was a flight attendant and happened to spill, I could blame it on turbulence.  “Oh, ha ha, a patch of rough air!  That is why I spilled!”  When I lived in California, I could shift the blame to the local trouble-maker: earthquakes.  “Did you feel that tremor just now?  No?  I’ll bet it was about a 3.2—you might not be sensitive enough like me to have felt it, although it did make me spill my drink.” 

I know what you’re thinking:  Everybody spills.  But does everybody spill where I do?

I don’t always spill right on my boobs.  No.  Not always: 

It is like the specific drink I am drinking—coffee, soda, red wine, whatever—is magnetically attracted to certain areas of my body.  Normal people might spill on their shoe.  If it were me, I wouldn’t really care if I spilled on my shoe, because it is most likely a brown or black shoe.  And does anybody look down at my shoes?  Never.  And if they did, and if I had happened to spill on my shoe, I could pass it off like I stepped in an especially splashy and festive puddle. 

My propensity for geographically unacceptable spills typically occurs when I am on my way to a job interview or to meet a new acquaintance/ friend for lunch, someone I don’t know very well and would most likely try to impress with my fabulous sense of humor and my off-the-charts intelligence.  The spillage will not choose to happen when I have half an hour of extra time to go home and change; it of course will happen when I am running 10 minutes late and forgot to charge my cell phone. 
Sometimes, I do not spill on my body.  Sometimes I spill on my face. 

When this happens, I am unaware.  I go about my business, thinking that I got that tiny drop off my face with a napkin and then 12 hours later I see myself in a mirror and realize that everyone on the street all day must have thought I had a very unfortunate birth mark. 
Fast forward to now:  I do meet my friend for lunch.  She does not make any comment about the spill, which leads me to believe she is a better friend than I thought.  Why was I so worried about something like that?  What is my problem?  Why am I so self-conscious?

I get up to leave after lunch, and to my chagrin I realize I had sat down in something sticky.  Someone else must’ve spilled something on that chair before I sat there.  At first I am upset:  did anything get on me?  Then I exhale a deep sigh of relief because I am wearing jeans.  Even if I got a little bit of whatever was on that chair on me, no one will notice. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

726. The Gods of Early

When I was a flight attendant, I was on a first name basis with Gods of Early.  There was Soon, In Advance, Prematurely, Ahead of Schedule, and Prompt.  A United Airlines crew scheduler would call me with the next day’s assignment (5 AM stand-by in Burbank, a one hour drive away), and I would immediately start laying out special offerings to the Gods of Early, such as multiple alarm clocks, pagers, timers, and cell phones.  I needed serious help from the Gods of Early:  if I overslept, I’d get fired.   

There was a flight attendant candidate (Becky) in my initial training class who liked to hang with a bad crowd:  the Gods of Late, and their groupies, the Minions of Irresponsibility.  Becky liked to sleep in, rush around, and generally cause problems for everyone.  It came as no surprise when she was conspicuously absent on graduation day (“Becky has decided to pursue other opportunities,” was the official wording our trainer used to explain her empty chair). 
When I was six months pregnant with my first son, I stopped flying.  I told the Gods of Early I wouldn’t be needing them anymore, and to please go harass some deserving new-hire flight attendants at the training center in Chicago instead.  The Gods of Early smiles and winked at each other, then told me they’d be back to check on me in 2 months, 3 weeks, 2 days, and 13 hours (what’s with the hyper-precision, Gods of Early?).
As predicted, they returned right on schedule (truth be told, a little ahead of time).  Fairy tales depict storks bringing babies to their new families—in reality, it’s the Gods of Early.  They dropped off Tall, healthy and strong, and then said they’d like to maybe stick around for a few weeks.  Or months.  Or years. 

I hate the Gods of Early.  It’s like living with your mother-in-law all the time.  I was under the impression that when I stopped working, I would no longer have to, well, work.  Ha!  I wake up earlier, work harder, and get paid less (that would be zero) then I ever did before.  The Gods of Early made sure I was up to feed the baby, get the toddler off to preschool, and basically walk around in a sleep-deprived haze at all times. 
When Tall was almost five years old and Short was two, I had an ugly confrontation with the Gods of Early.  “It’s time for you to leave,” I began tentatively, glancing at them, and then the snow outside the window, “you’ve outworn your welcome.” 

They did not take the news well.  “We’ll stay as long as we damn well please,” said Soon, the God with slicked back hair.  “Yeah,” added In Advance, as he smoothed his seasonally-inappropriate seersucker suit, “you still need us.”  Prompt looked up from ironing his swim trunks.  “Who do you think you are?” he challenged. 
I began to break down.  “I just … I just …” I stammered, “I really want my life back.  Where is it written that mothers must wake up at 4 AM every day?”

“On page 319 of the contract,” confirmed Ahead of Schedule while he casually flipped through tomorrow’s newspaper.  “Don’t you remember signing it?” 
“I never signed anything with you people,” I rallied, my voice rising.  “I don’t need you anymore.  I don’t care what your so-called contract says.”     

They shrugged, got up, and left.  This was easier than I thought it was going to be. 
I looked at the clock:  10:15.  I had a dentist appointment at 10.  I was late. 

**This is an essay I posted a long time ago, and I am reprinting it today because I feel like it never got the initial recognition it deserved.  Hope you like it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

725. Who Cares About The Movie, Did You See The Couch?

I am not fun to go to the movies with.  It’s not that I am the type of person who spoils the ending, laughs too loud, or talks to the screen saying, “Nooooooo, don’t go in there because you’re going to get killed!”  I am sure that The Husband or any of my beleaguered movie-going companions would much prefer if I were that type of movie destroyer.  No, the real reason that I can’t convince anyone to go to the movies with me now is:  I am obsessed with set design.

Remember the plot of the cute little rom-com with Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Keanu Reeves?  No?  Me, neither.  But I can tell you all about that glorious kitchen in Diane’s Hampton’s beach house.  Antique white cabinets, soapstone counters, hardwood floors, Viking stove, Sub-Zero refrigerator, and an island that might qualify as a its own continent.  We ordered this movie on Netflix and never got through the first half hour, what with me freezing it, running to the screen then saying to The Husband, “Do you think they got their drawer pulls at Restoration Hardware?  Do you like that pendant light?  Should we get one over our sink, too?” 
Don’t get me started on “The Devil Wears Prada.”  No one really cares about Anne Hathaway’s character’s dumpy apartment, but her boss's multi-million dollar brownstone and classy art collection was swoon-worthy.  I saw the movie when it was released in theaters, then bought it the second it came out on DVD so I could fast-forward to the spot where Anne is sneaking up the stairs at her boss's house and there is a phenomenal painting of a New York City street scene, complete with taxis and blurry lights.  I covet this painting and I have grand schemes of taking an art class and copying it. 

Who has time for that though when you could watch “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”?  Another movie set in New York, another stunning art collection.  Whole chunks of dialogue go undigested in my brain due to me focusing solely on Jim Carey’s oversized oil paintings that any Art History student would tell you are by Wayne Thiebaud (he of “Cakes” fame).  I kept tugging on The Husband’s jacket sleeve, “Sweetie, do you think that is the original painting?  Or just a copy?” 
Or how about “Match Point”s enviable London loft where Jonathan Rhys Meyers lived with his new wife before he started cheating on her with Scarlett Johansson?  It featured a wall of glass and a view of the Thames River that was to die for.  The wife’s character came from a wealthy family, so that explained the high-end art collection and pricey furniture even though the characters were so young.  Being involved in an intriguing love triangle that ends in murder was never so stylish.   

Sure, Pierce Brosnan is hot in “The Thomas Crown Affair,” but you know what’s hotter?  That unbelievably gorgeous retreat Rene Russo stayed at in the Caribbean.  I was ready to pack my bags and renounce my citizenship on the spot.  No set is more enviable than one on the ocean. 
Speaking of living near the beach, who wouldn’t love the set of another fun rom-com but this one starring Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, and Steve Martin?  The moment the camera pans to the Santa Barbara sprawling estate where talented restaurateur Meryl lives, I was checking real estate web sites.  The story line was alluring, but not more alluring than that those arched doorways, soaring ceilings, and antique clawfoot tub. 

I check the latest movie listings and notice Julia Roberts is playing the evil witch in the Snow White re-do called “Mirror, Mirror.”  I most likely won’t be going to that movie:  I can't afford a castle. 
("Movie's Original Vision")

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

724. How Basketball Saved My Life

“Get yourself out of the corner!”  I hear the head coach shout to my son.  Moments later, “Take the shot, Tall, you can do it!”  Next is “Rebound, rebound, go-go-go!”  followed by “Pass it, let your teammate help you out!”  I realize that each phrase the coach calls out on the court is a valuable metaphor for my everyday life.

Get yourself out of the corner.  I had put myself in the corner many times in college, taking too many classes and working too many hours while still trying to maintain an active social life and be in a sorority.  It was too much.  When you do 20 things simultaneously, you never do any of them particularly well.  Now that I was an adult who should know better, I reflected on how many times I had overscheduled our family, overextended and made promises I knew would be hard (if not impossible) to fulfill.   I made a change:  I told The Husband the kids could play only one sport per season, no more.  No traveling teams.  No double-booking birthday parties with playdates and sporting events.  It was time to get out of the corner and have room to breathe. 

Take the shot!  Why the hesitation?  What are we afraid of?  If the possibility is right there in front of us, we must jump high and try.  I recently wrote a book of short humor essays.  After months of rejection from agents and publishers, I decided to “take the shot” and self-publish.  The book was ready to sell as of November, and I had a book launch and signing party in January.  I am not world-famous (yet), but I am proud of myself for not letting that initial negativity block me from moving forward to chase my dream.    

Rebound, rebound.  So the job is not what you thought—quit and seek a new one.  Or a family member is ill—support him and help him to get through it with renewed vigor.  When life hands you hard work that you were not expecting, sharpen the focus and attack it with gusto.

Let a teammate help you out.  I am not super-woman, and yet, sometimes I am reluctant to ask for help.  It’s okay to say you can’t do it all.  It’s okay to not live up to society’s (unrealistic) expectations.  The best thing you can do is admit you’re human and let others help you.  Now we tell the kids to make their own beds.  They also set the table and feed the cat.  They know we are all a team, and we must help each other. 

I walk over the coach after practice to thank him.  “Hey, Coach,” I say, “thanks for a great session.  Tall got a lot out of it.” 

And so did I.  
("Mom's On Varsity")

723. Accused

I have been accused of writing the same material over and over. I actually received a nasty comment from some cyber-bully, and she said, "Your blog, overall, is very repetitive." I cannot even fathom why she would say such a thing.

I have been accused of writing the same material over and over. I actually received a nasty comment from some cyber-bully, and she said, "Your blog, overall, is very repetitive." I cannot even fathom why she would say such a thing.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

722. Bring Back The Jungle

Our next-door neighbor, Mr. Constantine, is the nicest guy on the planet.  He always waves and says hello.  He immediately walks the mail over when it’s been mis-delivered.  He shovels the snow off his sidewalk right after it snows.  He retrieves his trash cans the minute the trash trucks have pulled away. 

But for some reason, other than clipping an occasional wildflower, he does not keep up his lawn. 
The reason is:  he is 90 years old. 

Now, before you email me saying that I should offer to help him, let me tell you I already thought of that.  The first week we lived here, I said to myself, “We should really help him.”  Then I begged The Husband to go over and mow his lawn for him.  The Husband reluctantly agreed.      
The Husband spent the next six hours cutting his way through grass that was taller than most second graders.  When he was finished, the yard looked like a golf putting green, or at least like a normal lawn. 

This random act of suburban kindness did not go over well.  Mr. Constantine was at our doorstep within minutes.
“Why did you mow my lawn?  I like it that way.” 

That was the day we learned not to be such control freaks.  (Well, The Husband learned.  I’m still learning.)  The Husband and I had a long private discussion later about elderly people maintaining their independence.  So what—he wants to pretend to take care of his own yard by cutting down a few wildflowers?  Let him.       
Not only did the grass grow back, but bushes and trees and various plant life forms grew up and around the house, like a soft green blanket.  We knew that under there somewhere was a house, but heck if we could see it. 

The backyard was even worse.  There was a solid six foot wood fence between our properties, so we could not really see what was going on back there; however, various vines grew up and over the fence into our yard.  The vines grabbed fiercely onto our trees and tried to choke them.  We called a professional landscaper who recommended cutting back anything that was on our side of the fence. 
“Those vines will kill your trees,” he said, a Prophet of Doom in a “Trees ‘R Us” t-shirt.  “It’s your responsibility to make sure that doesn’t happen.” 

For the next two years, The Husband worked diligently to keep our side of the fence safe from rogue homicidal vines. 
We could see more of Mr. Constantine’s backyard from our second story window, even more when we used our 125x zoom binoculars.  Turns out, he had dozens of green clumps of something, maybe they were bushes or trees.  There appeared to be some sort of water feature, possibly even a pool.  Small animals were nestling in every green crevice.  We were sure we saw a monkey.  If you’ve ever been to Disneyland and gone on the Jungle Cruise ride, you have an idea of what we were dealing with.

Looking at his yard from that second story vantage point, we realized that his landscape issues were of epic proportions. 
We did what anyone would do in our situation:  we shut the blinds. 

Last week, the neighbor on the other side of Mr. Constantine complained to the city about Mr. Constantine’s backyard.  City officials showed up, had a brief chat with Mr. Constantine, and the next thing you know there were four illegal immigrants chopping down anything green behind the fence. 
The boys and I scurried to our second floor window to get a better look at the “progress.”  When the workers were done, the yard was a pitiful dirt pit with a few trees and an algae covered pool.  Now we could also see a shed or pool house back there, that apparently had been hidden.  The walls were falling down. 

We noticed a decrepit garage.  The roof had caved in. 
For the first time, we could see beyond Mr. Constantine’s house to the industrial buildings in the distance, buildings that had been obscured by lovely branches.  Neon lights that were always there now blink and flash and assault our eyes. 

Last night, The Husband lowered the window shade of our upstairs window. 
“What are you doing?  The yard is cleared out now.  Why are you closing the shade?” 

“I don’t want to see it.  I miss the jungle.” 

Monday, March 26, 2012

721. How To Run Your Own Personal Marathon

A few years ago, I started seeing these white oval stickers on peoples’ cars. 

I had no idea what that meant.  26.2?  How much you paid for your car (new)?  The optimal age to be?  How much money you made a year?  a month?  How many pounds you had gained since getting married? 

Finally, I broke down and asked The Husband some time last week:  “What does 26.2 mean?” 

He didn’t hesitate.  “It’s a stock.  A stock in a company called YouFitness dot com.” 
“Oh, okay.  That’s what I thought.  Is it a good stock?  Maybe we should buy some?  It seems kinda popular because I always see the st—”

Once again, I’d been had.  Turns out 26.2 is the distance of a marathon (26 miles and 2 inches).  People who put those stickers on their cars are part of an elite group, a group that says, “I paid $5 for my sticker and it’s ruining the finish on my bumper.” 

I wanted to be part of the elite group.  I wanted a sticker so I could brag to people about something. 
At first I thought about the obvious: 

I showed my design to the Husband. 

“What’s that?” he asked. 
“Duh, it says ‘Book.’  It means I wrote a book.” 

“You know, my book.  My.  Book.  That.  I.  Wrote.”  I shrugged. 
“So what?” 

“Soooooo, I’m going to have it made into a sticker to put on the car.” 
“I don’t get it.” 

“Like the marathon sticker, silly!  Then people will know I wrote a book!  It’s like this special club, and other authors will drive by me and they’ll wave or maybe they’ll hold up a book and we’ll both know what it means.” 
“It means that you’re kooky.  No one is going to have any idea what it means.  Tell you what, MOV, run a marathon instead.  Then you can put up the sticker.” 

I did not like his plan.  His plan involved running far distances, and perhaps even training in advance.  My plan involved finding a printing service online that would accept American Express.
Right before I clicked the “BUY” button on my “Book” sticker I had spent 25 minutes designing, I had second thoughts.  Perhaps The Husband was right.  Perhaps my message was too obtuse. 

I ordered a different sticker after all, and then I put on my running shoes and went for a run.  It was a long run, much longer than I’m used to.  My legs were really sore afterwards, and I even had to put some ice on them.    
The next day, I got in my car and set the odometer to zero so I could measure the exact distance I had run.  Yep, it was official.    
My new sticker arrived today.  I proudly display it on my car.  When people stop and ask me, “MOV, did you really run that far?”  I solemnly nod, and then I answer,

“That’s right:  I ran 2.62 miles.”  What’s a little decimal point between friends?        


Saturday, March 24, 2012

720. I Want To Be The Winner

Last year, we went to our local school’s annual basketball fundraiser.  The novelty was that the faculty, not the students, played basketball against each other.  As a separate fundraiser, you could buy raffle tickets to win one of several expensive themed gift baskets which had been donated by local businesses. 

We got there early and bought 50 tickets.  The boys walked up and down the crowded school cafeteria where the baskets were displayed, weighing the merits of each prize.  After much deliberation and discussion, they set about stuffing the ticket boxes for their favorite baskets.  When the winning raffle ticket numbers were announced at halftime, ours tickets numbers were not among them.    
However, our six-year-old neighbor, Justin, did win.  He won a Lego-themed basket, with every imaginable Lego set teetering out the edge of the confines of the plastic wrap.  He smiled wide, revealing his tiny white teeth, like miniature Chiclets.  “I won,” he whispered to my sons on the way out after the game.  The hesitation is his voice indicated that he could scarcely believe it. 

“That’s great,” responded Short, “we’re on our way to go choose which basket we won too.” 
Uh, oh.  He clearly did not understand how these things work.  “Short, Honey, we did not win.  I’m sorry.”  I made an exaggerated sad face, like a clown that just got fired. 

Short still was not comprehending reality versus desire.  “You told me to pick which basket I wanted to win, and I pick all.  But I will take the Lego one,” he offered magnanimously. 
The Husband stifled a laugh.  “Oh, Short, I’m sorry.  We lost.” 

Lost was a word Short’s four-year-old brain was familiar with.  Short lost when playing soccer against Tall.  Short lost when playing cards against Tall.  Short lost when racing Tall across the yard.  Pretty much any time Tall was in the picture, Short lost. 
If you’ve ever seen one of those time-lapse photography things on the weather channel with the sky going from sunny to violently stormy and approaching hurricane levels in approximately three seconds, then you know what we were dealing with.    

“Nooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!” squealed Short, exposing his inner tantrum, and then flinging his compact body on the school hallway’s dirty floor.  “I am sick of losing!  I want to be the winner!” 
Other people were starting to stare.  People we’d never met, people we were good friends with, young people, old people, teacher people.  I could only pretend for so long that I was not related to the pile of tears and fury on the floor. 

“Noooooooo!!!!!” the moaning and writhing continued.  “I hate you!  It’s not fair!” 
The Husband and I exchanged a look, a look that said Get that child off the floor and out to the car as fast as humanly possible.  That’s when I remembered that we had walked to the school, not driven. 

We live one mile from the school.  A mile says Hey, walking is good exercise!  A mile says If you drive, you’re really a big wimp.  A mile says, Walking with your family is super-fun and great for togetherness time and happy memories.  What a mile forgets to tell you is that it is not quite so enticing when 25% of your group boycotts the walking component of the walking home equation.  The Husband ended up carrying our screaming child home that evening.      
Fast forward to yesterday.   

I was reluctant to attend the basketball game after what happened last year.  But, like an adventurer who goes to the Antarctic and loses a limb to frostbite but then later decides it was still overall a “fun” trip and maybe she should do it again, I thought:  What can possibly go wrong?  It might even be fun!   
The game was fun.  The cookie-buying was fun.  The raffle ticket discussion?  Not so much.

“Short,” I began quietly, “we are probably not going to win a basket.  Just know that, okay?  We are not wasting $50 this time, we’re just buying two tickets, one for each of you.  And you most likely will not win.  Remember that.” 
Short nodded solemnly, then said, “Remember how Justin won last time?  And he carried the big big big GIANT basket all the way down the very long hall and how I did NOT win?  Do you remember, Mommy?  Because I was sad.” 

He looked like he might cry now.        

“Short, I need to tell you something. The chances of you knowing someone who wins are very great. You will know one of the winners. But the chances of your number getting picked are small.”      
I leaned in and gave him a tight hug.  Then I said, “Tell you what, Short, after the 3rd quarter, we’ll leave the game early and get ice-cream on the way home.  Okay?” 

“Sure.  Okay,”  he shrugged.  He and Tall walked through the basket display area and put their tickets in the boxes.  “Remember how sad I was last time?” I overheard him say to Tall again and again, like a bad 80’s song on a permanent loop. 

When we started to sneak out after the 3rd quarter, Short tugged on my sleeve.  “Mommy, we have to check if we won or not!  Remember?”  His face was full of magic and hope mingling in an intoxicating cocktail of kindergarten delusion. 

“Short, uh, uh … this year it turns out you have to go online the next day to see if you won.”  It was not a complete lie, you could check online.  Or just read the posters right now in the hall to see if your name was there. 
Happy with my answer, Short, Tall, The Husband, and I started to walk outside.  I would delay the bad news by 24-hours and reveal our misfortune and bad luck to Short in the privacy of our own home, where he could have a hissy fit as loud and long as he wanted. 

Suddenly, my friend Rebecca ran out the door after us.  “MOV!  Wait!” 
At first, I thought I might've dropped my sweater or forgotten my water bottle.  “Hi Rebecca!  What’s wrong?” 

“Nothing’s wrong:  you won a basket!”  She pumped her fist in the air, a gesture of glory. 
Short turned abruptly to face Rebecca, then he looked at me.  “Did she say we won, Mommy?” 

“Yes, she did!  I’ll go in and get it.” 
Short was more baffled than ever.  Last year, we bought lots of tickets and got our hopes up:  nothing.  This year we bought the minimum number and mashed our hopes into the ground:  winner. 

I walked back to the cafeteria and approached a lady holding a clipboard.  She was directing other winners to their prospective baskets.  “Name, please?” she asked me politely. 
“Hi.  I’m MOV.  I’m not sure which basket we—”

“Oh, you’re MOV!” she beamed.  “Kirsti,” she called another woman over, “Kirsti, this is MOV.  MOV, you won the grand prize.  The basket is called Toys Forever and is worth $500!” 
I could feel my face flush crimson.  The Kirsti lady handed me the biggest basket I had ever seen except for on TV game shows, filled with all manner of toys and gift certificates.  Short was going to go wild when I walked out that door to where they were waiting outside.

I thanked her profusely and tried to balance myself under the weight of the basket.  Someone pushed open the glass door for me.  Tall and Short gasped collectively.  “We won THAT?” squealed Short.  Nothing this exciting had ever happened to him.      
The Husband asked tentatively, “Which one of you bid your ticket on this prize?  Is this the one you bid on, Tall?”

“No, Pop, I bid on the one with all the spy stuff.”
“Then congratulations, Short!” cheered The Husband, “You are a winner.”    

Short smiled enthusiastically.  “I want to share it with Tall.  I’m a good sharer.” 
Tall nodded.  “Thanks, Short.  I would share with you too if I won.” 

Then Short let out a delighted scream, so different from last year, “I won!  I won!  Yaaaaaaaaaaaayyy, me!  I finally finally won!” 
Yay, Short!  You are a winner.   


Thursday, March 22, 2012

719. Alternatives To Blogging

I was born blogging.  Okay, that’s not true.  It’s not like the first words out of my mouth upon greeting the doc before he even had a chance to clamp my umbilical cord were “Hey, hand me that keyboard!”  No, I was actually blogging waaaaaaay before that—in utero.   
  • “Update:  it’s toasty warm in here, but I think Mom ate sardines again—yuck.” 
  • “Status:  sleepy.”
  • The Latest:  my eyelashes have started to develop, and I think I am feeling fingernails as well.” 
  • “Question:  do you think I might have a twin in here?  or is that just a weird shadow?”
No, in reality there was no blogging back in the prehistoric dinosaur days of my youth, and thank goodness for that.  Fast forward to this century.  I discovered blogging less than two years ago when my unsympathetic co-workers at the high-end kitchen store got sick of me telling farfetched stories and one of my co-workers finally mustered the courage to say what the others had been thinking all along:  “MOV, write a blog.” 

Blogging quickly became more than a fun little diversion or interesting new hobby.  Like that left-over piece of chicken with cream and broccoli sauce that you forgot for a month in the back of the frig and now it turned into an unrecognizable space creature, my blogging addiction turned into something out of my control. 
It.  Was.  Bad.    

I would come home from working a long day at the high-end kitchen store and instead of spending time with my beloved family or at least pretending to greet them, I would dash up to the study and click the computer on, chanting “Please-be-comments-please-be-comments-please-be-comments.”  I would return from my weekly Target run, and before even unloading the red and white plastic bags full of cheap treasures, I would find myself in front of the computer clicking on “Blog Statistics” to see which posts were generating the most hits.  In the middle of a quiet dinner with the family, I would make up some elaborate excuse about how I think I left a light on upstairs again and need to turn off this instant so the cat doesn’t accidentally knock it over and cause a huge fire while we’re eating but then I would zip upstairs and forget all about the lamp while I was re-reading my latest blog post and double checking for new followers.    
The Husband is, of course, on to me. 

“Checking your blog again?” he inquires in a flat tone with the identical enthusiasm of a DMV clerk greeting his 189th driver’s license renewal of the day.
“Checking your blog again?” mimic the children in the same world-weary manner, after hearing their father say it so many times. 

So what?  Yes, I am checking my blog again if you must know.  It’s not the worst habit in the world.  What if instead of checking my blog in my spare time, I went down to the animal shelter and got a puppy each time? 

Or what if, instead of checking my blog, I went to the kitchen and ate a cookie each time?

Or, what if instead of checking my blog, I went to our basement work-out room and worked out for a few minutes each time? 

The bottom line is:  if I didn’t blog, I would be a dog-collecting, cookie-gorging, obese, skinny, work-out girl. 

And who wants that? 
(“Mistress Of Vision”)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

718. Peter Brady Let Me Down

I loved Peter Brady.  He was cuter than Greg, not as immature as Bobby.  Peter and I were an item. 

Although we had never actually met, I knew that I was exactly Peter’s type.  I’d read somewhere that middle children should never date middle children, and guess what—I was an oldest child!  Like Peter, I also liked pork chops and applesauce.  Like Peter, I wrote for the school newspaper.  Peter’s dream job was at an ice-cream parlor and then later at a pizza place—my two favorite foods! 
This was going to work out.

After watching him so much on TV that I had his every mannerism, quirk, freckle, and stylish pair of bell-bottomed jeans memorized, the childhood me was under the impression (through the twin powers of syndication and self-delusion) that Peter and I were approximately the same age, give or take a few months. 
Imagine my elation when I found myself at my grandmother’s neighbor’s son’s wedding with Christopher Knight as another name on the guest list.    

I was 10, my sister was five and served as the flower girl.  Admittedly, Oakley was adorable in her rainbow tiered chiffon dress, but what could she possibly know about boys?  She was five.   
My mom whispered to me just before the Wagner’s Bridal Chorus began to play, “Oh, I forgot to tell you:  Robyn said that TV star from that show you like is going to be here.  He’s a good friend of the groom’s brother.”  She had no time to elaborate, as the music began and we had to put on our cheery wedding faces.   

What TV show?  What star?  She couldn’t possibly mean Eddie Munster, could she?
Just as the priest was starting to say, “Dearly beloved …” I was tugging deliberately at my mom’s sleeve.  “Who?  Who are you talking about?” I whispered.

“Greg Brady.  Now be quiet!” she hissed. 
Greg Brady?  Who cares about him, except that maybe he could introduce me to Peter. 

I focused on the wedding’s grandeur and on what flavor the cake might be (I was praying for chocolate).  Really, meeting arrogant Greg Brady was not on my 5th grade agenda. 
At the reception, the neighbor Robyn made her way over to our table to chat with my mom and fawn all over Oakley and her doll-like cuteness.  “And MOV, did you have a chance to meet Chris Knight?  Your mom says you’re a big fan of The Brady Bunch.”

Chris Knight, a.k.a Peter Brady?  Not Greg?  This was a game-changer. 
“What?” I said, trying my best but failing miserably at being discreet and nonchalant.  “Peter is here?  Here in this room?  Where?” 

“That’s him,” said Robyn pointing at some adult who bore a strong resemblance to Peter, most likely Peter’s dad or great uncle, “He’s talking to that bosomy brunette.” 
Sure enough, it was Peter, an adult, 21-year-old Peter, flirting with some hot chick he’d met mere moments ago, and most likely using the pick-up line, “I like pork chops and applesauce.”  That was supposed to be what he said to me. 

The next thing you know, Robyn had interrupted Peter’s lovefest to usher him over to me, an adoring fan.  “Hi, Miss, what is your name?”  Peter spoke to me in that slightly officious and patronizing way that adults often speak to young children.  It reminded me of how Santa greets a toddler.  And what would you like for Christmas, little girl? 
I was so confused.  All this time, I thought that Peter and I were the same age, or that we had at least been born in the same decade.  I was wrong, and my heart felt like it had been bitten by a tarantula, like what almost happened to Peter in episode 74.  My years of devotion to Peter Brady’s TV image were all a cruel hoax.

“Do you want his autograph?” prodded Robyn, woefully oblivious to my pain.  I desperately wanted her to sink away into a deep hole at that point, and maybe have me go with her. 
“No, no, that’s okay,” I shook my head, disappointed.    

Peter disappeared while my face turned 23 shades of red.  He returned a minute later with a glossy 8 x 10 headshot and a thin black magic marker in his hands.  “Who shall I make it out to?” he asked politely. 
“MOV,” answered my mother enthusiastically, trying to be supportive of me and my bizarre unrequited romance.  “That’s spelled M-O-V.”  She smiled wide, thinking she was making my fondest dreams come true. 

My fondest dreams, of course, starred a 10- or even 11-year-old Peter, not one that was shaving, driving, and graduating from college. 
With a flourish, Peter signed the photo and then handed it to me.  “To MOB,” he’d written in sloppy non-Virgo handwriting, “my youngest fan.  Fondly, Christopher Knight.”

MOB?  Youngest?  Fondly?  Who the hell did he think he was? 
I wanted to give him a piece of my mind.  I wanted to tell him that is was rude and misleading of him to grow older while his character stayed young, foxy, and idol-worship-worthy.  I summoned what little bit of courage my 10-year-old self possessed and said,

“Excuse me, Peter?  Do you know if Bobby’s here?”