Friday, August 31, 2012

838. She Is A Catalog

My friend, Katarina, recently moved back from Paris after living there the past five years.  She pretty much brought the entire contents of Fashion Week with her in her suitcase and her one gazillion moving boxes.  (Tidbit of actual conversation as I helped her unpack boxes:  Me:  “Katarina, more clothes?  What about, you know, tables?  And chairs?  Cleaning supplies?  Dishes?”  Her:  “I can buy those here in America.  Tell me where I can buy Jean-Jouiliett Francsia in America?”  She had a point.) 

Katarina never used to be the type of person that changes her outfit five times a day, but somehow that is who she has morphed into now. 
We meet for coffee:  she looks runway ready in Outfit #1, a silk dress with an avant-garde print of leaves and dots, accessorized with a chunky wood necklace.  I happen to run into her at the grocery store later the same day (buying cleaning supplies):  she has apparently changed into fashionable Outfit #2, a flawless ivory blouse with a beaded collar paired with a ruby red linen skirt with a cut-out design at the hem.  I swing by her house later to drop off some brownies I made for her family, and she is wearing (you guessed it) Outfit #3, a purple cashmere tank top, long green skirt with random sequins sewn on, and five-inch heels.  She tells me she would love to invite me in, but she and her husband are getting ready to go out for dinner.  I tell her to have fun and that I love her skirt.  She replies, “Oh, heaven help us!  I am not wearing this!” 
What happened to Katarina? 

I mention this dramatic transformation to The Husband.  He shrugs.  “What do you expect, MOV?  Her husband is a neurosurgeon and she is a mom.  She has the time, he has the money, why not buy some new clothes in Paris?” 
Katarina’s fashion obsession has rubbed off on her twin high-school-aged daughters.  They are teenaged versions of her:  gorgeous, gregarious, and wearing beautiful French clothes at all times.  The whole family looks as though they have stepped off the pages of an ultra-stylish magazine, or at the very least, an elite French catalog called, “Glamourez-Vous.”  Katarina does not own jeans nor will she even discuss it with me. 

I begin to develop a complex.  I cannot merely show up at Katarina’s house in a faded t-shirt and khaki shorts.  I start ironing my sundresses and looking for my pearl bracelet.  Katarina has pushed my wardrobe to a new level:  Thought About.  My wardrobe used to live in that careless and ambivalent place called Afterthought, but no longer!     
Katarina calls me last week and asks when we can get together.  My schedule is full, and the only time I have is when I am supposed to be school-supply shopping for Tall and Short. 

“Katarina, do you want to go to Target with me on Tuesday night?  We could grab a Starbucks after?” 
I go to pick her up.  I am wearing a Katarina-worthy outfit:  a fuchsia taffeta ball gown and a glittery rhinestone tiara.  There is Katarina at the door:  she’s wearing jeans with a hole in the knee.  She takes one look at me and smiles:  “MOV, thank God, you are finally dressed appropriately!”    


Thursday, August 30, 2012

837. You Are Divorcing Your Husband and Marrying Target

It's true.  You have known Target longer, and Target has been more loyal.  Remember that time your husband cheated on you with Gwyneth Paltrow in that über-realistic dream?  See, Target would never do that. 

You have a secret date with Target tonight.  Don’t tell anyone.  You are heading out for “school supplies” right after dinner.
Target is there, waiting for you.  Smiling.  Winking.  Opening doors (automatically).  When is the last time your husband opened a door for you? 

Target does not judge nor criticize.  Target does not say, “Hon, do we really need new green and white throw pillows for the living room?  I kinda like the yellow ones we already have, plus I think you just bought them a couple of months ago.”  No.  Target would never say such a thing.  Instead, Target whispers, “I can give you 25% off the green and white pillows because they just went on clearance.” 
Target knows how to talk sexy.  Target does not say things like, “I can’t believe you didn’t wash the lunch dishes.  What have you been doing all day, anyway?”  Instead, Target volunteers, “Did you know that Pepperidge Farm Mint Milano cookies come in a mini-version now?  Aisle 32.” 

Your husband stopped understanding you years ago, perhaps on your honeymoon.  Oh, sure, he is kind and considerate, but he never opened a boutique Starbucks in a corner of your kitchen. 
Target did. 

Target is thoughtful like that.  You go to Target and right by the front door is the barista, waving and saying your name.  The barista has your double-tall-extra-foam latte waiting for you. 
Your husband might play games with the kids in the backyard, pretending to "bond" by running around and making up silly variations of Hide and Seek that combine it with Marco Polo.  However, Target is smarter because Target has witnessed the essence of your children and knows what makes them tick:  rampant materialism.  That's right, Target has toys.  Legos, Hot Wheels cars, Pokémon, action figures, Star Wars items, sporting equipment.  Toys for boys, none of this Let’s hang out and spend quality time together mumbo jumbo.       
So you buy the new pillows, the mini Mint Milanos, and your special latte.  You also buy a cool woven purse and some fake suede shoes that were not exactly on the official list.  Remarkably, you somehow remember to purchase a few packs of highlighter markers and fresh pencils to meet that “school supplies” criteria. 

You drive home, humming your Target tune (“I love Target, yes I do,”).  You walk in the door of your house and are immediately assaulted by your sons, who squeal, “Did you remember to get us anything from Target?”  You pour out the items onto the dining room table and the children cheer when they see you bought them each a toy car for a dollar.    

“I love Target so much, Mom!” enthuses your older son.  “I think I will marry Target when I grow up!" 
Get in line, kid. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

836. Judgmental Tomatoes

The Husband has a garden, which he tends to with consistency.  It’s raining, he’s out there.  It’s 95 degrees, he’s out there.  First thing in the morning, garden.  Late afternoon, after work?  Yep.  Let’s just say if that garden were a pool, he would be Michael Phelps.  The Husband is the Michael Phelps of the gardening world. 

So it should come as no surprise that we have beautiful vegetables to eat every night.  We have carrots, cucumbers, squash.  And there are lots of tomatoes. 
I have never been a huge fan of tomatoes.  Oh, sure, a small one sliced up in a salad is okay, or perhaps one on a burger.  But it is not like I seek them out. 

The problem with The Husband’s tomatoes (besides the sheer fact that there are so many of them) is the taste.  The Husband is a big believer in “Natural is better.”  This translates into no pesticides. 
I, myself, was pretty much raised on pesticides.  When confronted with a small, juicy, ripe red tomato, I really don’t know how to respond.  I tentatively take a bite or two, you know, to be polite.  But then the flavor punches me in the tongue.  The flavor grips the back of my throat and screams.  What it is screaming is, “This is what a real tomato tastes like!” 
You know where this is going.  The tomato just tastes, well, too tomatoey.  I like my tomatoes to be artificially big, a little bit green, and taste like plastic.  It’s what I am used to.  Pop-Tarts taste normal to me.  Corn dogs seem organic.  I could eat Cool-Whip three meals a day.   

What this all means is one thing:  we have tomatoes sitting out all over our counter, rotting.  The Husband tries to deal with this surplus of tomatoes by canning them.  However, he is only able to use up 150 tomatoes this way, leaving at least another 50 or so for me.  I don’t even want one, let alone 50. 

The Husband will not let me give them away, which is so weird.  He freely gives away peppers and pumpkins and potatoes.  But he is very attached to these tomatoes and he tells me he is going to eat them. 
So they sit on the counter and rot.  I move them from a big plate to a smaller plate as one by one they commit tomato suicide (tomato-cide?)  I feel like they are sitting their, shaking their little tomato heads at me and sighing.  They think I am a bad person, a non-tomato person. 

Here is a picture of how many we have left now. 
And then here is a picture of the kind of vegetables I prefer to grow. 

That’s right, brownie bites.  I make them from scratch in a mini-muffin pan.  Then we introduce the brownie bites to their long-lost cousins who live in the refrigerator. 

Hello, Caramel!  How do you do? 

And here comes Mr. Whipped Cream to join us! 

Sorry, tomatoes.  I want to love you, I do.  But my heart belongs to that fifth food group:  junk food.      

Sunday, August 12, 2012

828. Disney Dinner Dilemma

We are planning a Disney family vacation in November.  Our pre-paid package includes hotel, airfare, ground transportation, and meals.  I am super-excited to take the boys there, and in true Virgo fashion, I made myself a big bowl of fresh popcorn and started perusing two Disney guide books I recently bought so I could obsess over every tiny detail of our trip. 

Turns out, Disney is Virgo, too. 
In fact, when I called to make our dinner reservations like the book suggested, I was told (politely) that I was about three months too late.    

Six months?!  Who books dinner reservations six months in advance?
“The smart people,” answered Cailey, the Mousecation Specialist.  “Most people, you know, when they call, they go ahead and set up all their restaurant reservations right then.  But even though it is super-close to now, I’ll see what I can do for you.” 

November is apparently super-close to now. 
I could hear Cailey typing furiously at her magic keyboard.  Click-click-clickety. 

“Let me check here … hmm.  You wanted to go to Pluto’s Paradise Pavilion?  Yes, looks like I can definitely get you in there for dinner at 10:45 PM.  Shall I book it?” 
“Wait, 10:45?” I gasped, choking on popcorn.  “At night?  On a Tuesday?!” 

“Or if you’d rather eat a little later, I also have an 11:15 PM slot still open,” she replied cheerfully. 
“I have kids,” I whimpered.  “So there is nothing around 6 or 7, then?”       

I thought I heard suppressed giggles, but then Cailey calmly explained that it was just static on the line. 
“Maybe we should focus on lunch reservations instead?” I offered wearily, picking stray popcorn kernels off the pages of my useless Disney guide book. 

“Sure!” she chirped.  “How about Daisy’s Dining Adventure at 3:30 PM?” 
“Cailey,” I said as nicely as I could, “does 3:30 sound like an acceptable time for lunch to you?” 

“No, you’re right … let me book you at 10:15 AM instead.”  More typing.  Clickety-click. 
“I’m sorry, we can’t eat lunch that early.”  I tried hard not to let my frustration show.  I wanted to be that organized person that calls six months ahead instead of the wannabe who calls only three months ahead and is still expecting to eat something at a normal hour. 

“Cailey, are you telling me that I cannot eat at a normal hour when I get to Disney?” 
“Ma’am, no!  That is not what I am saying at all.  Sometimes people cancel.  Or die.” 

“Well, what should I do in case that does not happen?” 

More typing.  Clack.  Clickety.  Click-click. 
“I know!” squealed Cailey.  “I can change your entire reservation!  We will just move your stay to another week.” 

Why had I not thought of this before?  It was the perfect solution.  If I just booked the first week of December instead of November, I would not have this problem. 
“Okay, Cailey.  Let’s do it.  Let’s change the whole reservation.”  I felt immense gratitude to Cailey for setting me straight. 

“Ma’am, I can get you in on March 30, of next year.  And then you can have dinner at 9:30 and lunch at 2.” 
Or I can just smuggle in some popcorn.   


Friday, August 10, 2012

827. Brothers' Day

Valentine’s Day was created by Cupid.   Halloween was originated by some witches, ghosts, and a wayward skeleton.  Christmas honors Jesus himself.  So who am I to come up with a holiday?    

Last year, my older son Tall approached me and complained, “Mom, why is there a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Kids’ Day?”
It was one of those age-old things that kids have said since the beginning of time and Hallmark, like “Are we there yet?” and “Do I have to?” or “It’s not fair!”  It was a code phrase that is hard-wired into their little psyches in utero, if not before then.      

Of course, my first instinct was to respond the way my mom always did (“Because every day is Kids’ Day”), but upon further reflection (and truth be told, a nice glass of Chardonnay), I thought, Why not?  Why not make a day that is just for them? 
I did not worry that the Holiday Police would find me.  Had they stopped the fun of St. Patrick’s Day or Groundhog Day?  I think not.  With the Holiday Police, the more holidays, the better.  Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo (celebrated by Americans who cannot pronounce it), Mardi Gras, Boss’s Day?  Bring it!

When I submitted my new holiday proposal to the Center for Holiday Advancement and Enlightenment (who do you think pays the Holiday Police), I knew that I had to come up with a catchy title.  After all, I did not want them to laugh at me or turn me down.  That’s when I knew what our holiday should be:  Brothers’ Day. 
Next up was the pesky task of choosing the day.  September 21 was out, because that is my birthday and there was no way I was going to share it (although I do share it with Larry Hagman and Bill Murray).  Seems like July 4 was already taken, as was December 25.  Then I eliminated the months my sons and The Husband were born.  Next, we got out a dartboard, a Ouija board, and a Magic 8 ball for some expert input.  Somehow, we landed at August. 

August would be great.  No need to pull the kids out of school to celebrate.  No need to wear coats.  We picked the first of the month so it would be easy to remember, and it is. 
Last year was our first official Brothers’ Day.  (I did notice it was not in the newspapers.)  The Husband took the day off from work, and we asked the boys how they wanted to spend their time, which is how we ended up doing putt-putt golf and bowling in the same day. 

We had a blast. 
This year, we decided to go to a local waterpark with slides, and then later an animated movie (“Ice Age”—a nice contrast after being out in the heat all day).  We snacked on popcorn and candy, and stayed for all the credits.

As we walked out of the theater, Short turned to me and said, “Mommy, this is the best holiday ever.  Who came up with it?” 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

826. Word Cut - The Dog Walker

Hello bloggy pals! 

Since I do not have an essay today for my blog, mothersofbrothersblog, I thought I would direct you to my own personal splinter blog, Word Cut, where I write short flash fiction pieces predominantly for a writing site that runs online contests (no prizes, just bragging rights).  I did come in 3rd once, but I prefer to tell everyone I came in first 3 times.  Yeah, that sounds better. 

Anyway, please check out my latest short piece of fiction (less than 400 words -- which is shorter than the pieces I do in this space), and let me know what you think!  Here is the link:  Word Cut

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy it!  (Remember:  it is fiction.)


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

825. Gifted

I love gifts.  I love going to the store and finding just the right present for someone, that perfect thing that makes you say Aunt Becky will love this!  At that point, the search is over, but I might still be looking just a little bit in case I find something better.  Don’t get me wrong, I have already bought the first thing and mentally wrapped it up, but if I find a second thing, then there is always Christmas or the next birthday. 

I adore wrapping presents.  I get a contact high when I walk into tiny boutiques that exclusively sell wrapping supplies.  I love elegant wrapping paper, thick silky ribbons, and handmade cards.  If it has to do with making the gift look pretty on the outside, I want it.  Wrapping paper is sort of the lipstick and eye-shadow of the present.  Sure, it’s what’s inside that counts, but a little mascara never hurt anyone. 
I also enjoy receiving gifts.  I love the idea that someone thought about me enough to go out and find something that they thought reflected my personality. 

Sometimes people buy me something that I already have, like a green and blue sea-glass necklace from Nordstrom or a new hardback book that I have just finished reading.  In that situation, I am grateful that they know me so well that they are that familiar with my exact taste to buy me an identical item to one that currently resides on my coffee table or in my jewelry box. 
The Husband does not share my love of all things gift.  When an anniversary approaches, he cringes.  When my birthday is a week away, he panics.  When the kids’ birthdays are upon us, he hands me his credit card and says, “Please buy them something they’ll like.”   

Is it any surprise that The Husband and I do not exchange gifts? 
It happened slowly, it’s not like after a year of dating he said, I will never buy you a box of Godiva chocolates so get over it.  He was very good about gifts in the beginning. 

But the next thing you know, you are buying a house and having a baby and you have enough money to buy what you need, so extra gifts become superfluous.  Who gets the gifts, then?  The house gets the gifts.    
“No, Sweetie, we just got a new stove—I don’t need a present.” 

“New air conditioning was expensive.  We don’t really have money for gifts now.” 
“I’d rather have a new tile backsplash.  Let’s install that and not do gifts this time.” 

Before you know it, you have been married a dozen years with no Tiffany jewelry to show for it.  No cashmere sweaters wrapped in silver Nordstrom boxes, no leather purses from Coach under the Christmas tree, no box of handpicked candy in an adult-sized Easter basket. 
Sometimes I get wistful, thinking how nice it would be if The Husband surprised me with flowers or a gold bracelet or a pretty picture frame. 

But then I look out the kitchen window while I am putting away the dinner dishes, and I see him playing soccer with our boys.  They run, they jump, they kick.  They high-five each other and cheer.  
I receive gifts every day.  Not the kind to display on my coffee table, the kind to keep safe in my heart.