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Best. Sentence. Ever. (Again.)

26 May

blog image baileys

Today’s sentence is brought to you by Cameron, age 16.

Let’s say you have a boy.  Let’s also suppose that The Boy and his friends, including Cameron, have a band.

And finally, to keep it interesting, let us also put forth the proposition that the band will practice at your house every Friday night regardless of whether you have a headache, want to practice silent meditation or need to surf the couch in your tattered pajamas while drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream and eating Kellogg’s Rice Krispies even though it’s still kind of light out and now you’re no longer drinking the Bailey’s and eating the cereal but are, rather, pouring the Bailey’s over the cereal and eating it all with a soup spoon.  But I digress.  (Which is what happens when I eat Bailey’s.)

Eventually, the band is going take a break.  Not because their heads are pounding from making all that “music”- my stars, doesn’t anyone cover a nice Sam Cooke song anymore?  Why cant the band be in a sad mood tonight?  Or any night.  No, the band stops because they are hungry.  (Again, sad moods have been proven to reduce appetites but, alas, this band is delirious.)

Which brings us to Cameron’s question: “What’s for food?”

And, really, Cameron, this is America.  The question you should be asking is “what isn’t food?”

From a flavor-blasted Goldfish to a Dunkaccino* beverage to a genetically modified vegetable that can self reproduce then gather up a bunch of its buddies to outnumber and kill us all, we are a nation that will eat just about anything as long as there is melted cheese or Bailey’s Irish Cream on it.  I’m speaking from personal experience here (especially after 10PM or following a Paul Rudd movie).

So with a wave of my wand (not really- it was more like a quick snap! crackle! and pop!) followed by three clicks of my heels (or I may have just purchased three pairs of pumps from Zappos.  It’s hard to tell; things also get blurry when I eat Bailey’s), I answered Cameron’s question and “fed” the band.  (PS: I hope it’s the shoes.)

* Second-best sentence ever: INGREDIENTS: Water, Dunkaccino Powder {Sugar, Creamer [Partially Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Dipotassium Phosphate, Sugar, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, Annatto and Tumeric (Color)], Sweet Cream Powder [Pasteurized Sweet Cream, Skim Milk Solids, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin], Natural and Artificial Flavor, Instant Coffee, Sweet Dairy Whey, Cocoa processed with alkali, Nonfat Dry Milk, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Silicon Dioxide}.

Don’t You Forget About Me

26 Sep

blog image breakfast club

Raising a teenager is hard.

Even if yours is kind, giving and even-tempered.  Mine is not.  But maybe yours is.  That’s why I said “yours.”  (Oh my, and don’t I just sound like a teenager right there myself?  All I need is to refer to myself with a lower case “i” and I am Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club.”  Look it up, kids.  It’s a 1980’s classic where Judd Nelson, aged 45, portrays an 18-year-old.  Smoke up, Johnny.)

Any parent knows that prying information from a teenager is like trying to open a Diet Dr. Pepper without breaking a nail- nearly impossible yet so full of delight (and caffeine)- you must persist.  Get a pen cap or a dirty fork from the break room if you have to, but get that truth (and caffeine) out.

One of the best ways I have found to glean information from The Boy is by taking a nice, relaxing car ride where the possibility of eye contact is non-existent yet the probability for good music is high.

It was on one of these recent trips where The Boy, having been loosened up by listening to The Clash and then being comfortably lulled into spilling his guts by A Flock of Seagulls, (what can I say?  The 80’s were weird.  Like, David Hasselhoff weird) revealed that he “always thought that you,” meaning me, “would have become more.”

First of all, what 15-year-old has “always thought” anything?  As far as I know, kids don’t even think until they’re like, 6, and then it’s mostly caveman stuff like “fire hot,” “Judd Nelson overacts,” etc.

Now I’m not officially a child-rearing expert but I would imagine that the only thought a 15-year-old has always had is something like: “how is it possible for my dear mother to love me so much?”

Second: become “more” what?  Because if it’s more “me” he’s after, he’s about to get a dose of crazy the likes of which make Courtney Love look like Betty Crocker.  (Side note: Betty Crocker, along with White Castle, is featured in the 1986 Beastie Boys classic LP: “License to Ill.”  Are all of my references from the 1980’s?  Why would anyone do that?)  Oh, I can out-crazy the best of them.  Just tell me that we’re out of Nutella and see what happens.

Finally, I know that The Boy was complimenting me in there somewhere so I tried not to take it personally.  Given that he has forever felt this way and all.

I said I tried; I didn’t say that I succeeded.

So have I signed up for night classes since The Boy’s revelation?  Cracked open my knock-off “Josetta Bone” language CD’s and begun reinventing myself?

Nope.  Instead, I am practicing what all of my meditation studies suggest- doing less.  Because “less is more,” right?  (Examples include: having The Boy wash his own laundry, having The Boy schedule after school doctor/dentist/haircut appointments and having The Boy make dinner.)

PS: his cooking is good although it could use a little more.

Back to School

12 Sep

back to school

Here’s why I hate the first day of school:

First: I am not known for being quick.  To move.  To judge, well, who’s to say?  (Actually, I am.)

I revel in all things slow (side note: future NPR show- “All Things Slow”?)  Friends have been known to doze as I search for the exact word whilst in conversation (for example, “whilst”) while others have consumed an entire meal before I have properly plated my green beans opposite my cranberry sauce (Spouse, Thanksgiving 2008).

It takes about a week once school ends for me to fully develop my summertime groove- from switching bed linen to a higher, more luxurious  thread count, to picking berries to add to my morning beet smoothie (side note: future morning music show about ska-influenced music titled “Beat Smoothie”?) and then imagine, if you can, how disruptive deconstructing that groove can be.  You see now how the first day of school is overwhelming, at best, and, at worst, a total Weepfest (September, 2011).

Secondly: the paperwork.  Every year it’s the same.  Science lab rules, gym class rules, homeroom rules.  Where are the Stevie Ray Vaughn Rules rules?  Doctor’s information, emergency contact (where you ferret out true friends and then saddle them with caring for your sick child because the school cannot reach you at any of the contact numbers you provided- oops, did I leave off a digit?) plus an improved code of conduct- NEW for 2013-2014!  The “I will not wear sleepwear to school rule!”  (PS: I didn’t even know that wearing pajamas had been an option.  Oh, the Lifetouch pictures we could have had- complete with airbrushed option and crooked hair.)

Third: lunch.  The Boy has watched enough Food Network to now believe that only fresh basil and hand-hewned croutons are acceptable in a salad.  Who hews?  Of course, a PB&J is fine if you’re rushed (hello, it’s me) as long as the bread is stone ground whole wheat, preferably cold-climate grown.

Fourth: the clutter.  The constant jumble of socks and shoes and backpacks and lunchboxes.  And books and binders and paper and such.  All in front of the kitchen door.  You know, the door that we must fly out of right now if we are to make it “on time.”

Finally, about the quest to arrive “on time.”  I put quotation marks around “on time” because while “time” is more of a “concept” to me, previous employers have adopted a more literal definition of “time” and the “wasting” thereof plus the need to “show up on” it.  But, hey, we’re all different and both schools and workplaces benefit when tolerance is practiced.  Besides, who am I to judge?  Oh, right.  I’m the unemployed one.

Let’s not even discuss the switch to Standard Time where, from November to March, I am 59 minutes late for everything.  Oh sure, I eventually make up a few minutes here and there- mostly at doctor’s appointments because physicians have even broader definitions of “time,” “schedule,” and “appointment” than I do, but it’s not the same.

Plus the reason I am at the doctor’s office is due to some nasty germ that The Boy brought home from school anyway.

Then, from my scratchy-sheeted sick-bed, I will begin counting down the days until summer vacation again.

259 from today.

Boy, Bath and Beyond

11 Apr

blog image hygiene

I thought we’d reached a milestone when The Boy got into the car and immediately flipped down the visor.

“He cares about his appearance!” I thought.

“He’s going to check his hair and teeth and then wave at someone!”

I was beside myself.  I envisioned a future where:

I no longer yell about soap- its purpose, its required use, and where it can be found throughout the house.

Lengthy diatribes on shampoo, warm water and the importance of blotting oneself dry are abolished.

Gone are the days where The Boy can be located by smell.

We are closer to a “loofah, body wash and après shower” regimen than ever and, upon mastery, will surely be followed by “nail and hand grooming, beginning pumice and pore maintenance.”

From here he will empty his pockets before putting clothes in the laundry and take off his muddy shoes upon entering the house.

He’ll load the dishwasher without being told, empty the compost bucket because it’s the right thing to do and add windshield washer fluid to the car simply because he noticed that it was running low.

Hobbies will include: finishing homework, calling grandparents to thank them for sending birthday/Christmas/ Valentine/Easter/Halloween money and writing thoughtful notes to teachers who have meant so much.

Any remaining time is spent dreaming of apps designed to make a mother’s life easier (“Hall Monitor”- an alarm that stops kids from bringing sandwiches into the bathroom because they’re hungry yet they have to go), and searching for grant funding for bloggers.

I have seen the future and it is tidy and solicitous.  This Boy who I picked up was not the same Boy that I dropped off at school this morning.

That, or the sun was in his eyes.

And given that we have not had any solar exposure in months, he did what any 15-year-old would do: he took it personally.

“Why does the sun have to burn me right in the eyes?!” sighed The Boy as he flipped down the visor.

Milestones are so overrated.

Spelling Kounts

6 Dec

blog image typewriter

The Boy, like Jesus, was born in December.  (And while this Boy’s mother admits to being present for the conception, that doesn’t mean she liked it.)

As I have written many times here at FA&S, a marriage is a team.  It takes a small village- one to do stuff and another to tell the doer how he did things wrong.  And how he spent too much money doing it.

Where I am weak, Spouse is strong.  (Mostly I get the vapors when it’s time to take out the garbage but I have also had moments of being too feeble to go pick up the Chinese food.)  And where he is weak, I am mighty and not shy about letting everyone know it.  Like right now, for example.

Which brings me to the heart of this week’s FA&S: Spouse cannot spell.  He is an outstanding non-verbal communicator (sigh) and a fabulous lecturer (today’s topic: “Why would anyone use an awl to open a paint can?  Of course you’re going to get hurt.”)  Also he is very good at bandaging things.

But spelling?  I am Deputy Mayor of Spelling in our marital village.  (And Chief Clerk of Capital Letters).

Back to Jesus.  I seriously doubt that Mary, the mother of Jesus, gave birth and then spell-checked Jesus’ name because Joseph was going off to process all the paperwork.

And I bet that Joseph never asked Mary how to spell “spoon.”  He’s not that kind of guy.  He’d rather sound it out and attempt to woo his woman by inviting her on a cruise this Joon while hoping that a midnight chocolate buffet makes up for any literary deficiencies he may have.

And Mary, saint that she is, would let it slide.

But what if the village messed up?  Suppose the village idiots were in charge that day?  Who’s to say that Moses was not supposed to be called “Mesos?”  It could have happened, prove me wrong.

What I’m saying, Boy, is this: a birth certificate is a piece of paper- one of thousands of pieces of paper that you will lock in a fire-proof box and schlep from one apartment to the next as you go about your life pausing occasionally to wonder how the person in the passport picture was so skinny then and why that person never took her bad self to a foreign land to meet an exotic, swarthy man capable of spelling both “exotic” and “swarthy?”  A man who can stop a misspelled word before it becomes a bureaucratic nightmare?

A piece of paper doesn’t make who you are.  But a typo, that’s with you for life.  (Don’t look at me- I was very tired what with the giving birth and all.)

So Happy Birthday, 7lb. 4oz. BABY B-Y-O.

You’ll always be Boy to me.

The Commencement Address that No One Asked Me to Deliver

16 May

(Written in 2002.)

Dear Graduate:

How proud both you and your parents must be of the monumental journey you have completed.

Considering that you were once a kid incapable of coloring, reading or sometimes even being nice, this is incredible.

When you were younger, there were mornings when your mom woke up late because she stayed up reading “Woe is I” (The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English) by Patricia T. O’Conner or, as it is more commonly known, the Tylenol PM of books.  (“[W]hen you need a comma or a period after a possessive word that ends with an apostrophe, the comma or period goes after the apostrophe and not inside it.”)  The defense rests.  Literally.

Dear Graduate, I’m sure you must have some questions.

Who stays up reading grammar books?

Your mother because, like all mothers, she wanted to make sure that your application was noteworthy so that you could get into a good school, earn a decent living and move out without having to move back in after she already converted your bedroom to a yoga studio.

What happens when mommy wakes up late on a school day?

Well, she staggers around trying to comprehend how it can be both horribly early and horribly late and then eats her oatmeal while driving a stick shift- in all weather- which is not just unsafe, but also unsightly.  She barely contains her road rage (who does 43 in a 55?  Don’t people who are up this early have to be somewhere?) so that you can get to school without being marked “tardy.”  Too many “tardys” and you can just kiss Princeton University goodbye.

So what happens now that you’ve graduated?

Well, your father and I have a party where the grown ups drink cosmos and beer and you cry and cry after having too much cake and soda until someone sends you to bed.

You know this behavior can’t continue.  You’re a kindergartener now- act like it.

Now get out there and change the world.

Who’s hungry?

Breakfast of Champions

2 Nov

Halloween was just two days ago and the candy bowl is quite full.

As of 11:30AM I have eaten:

a bowl of oatmeal with banana, walnuts and chia seeds

two “fun size” Heath bars*

two pieces of Hubba Bubba bubble gum

one glass of water

a Kit Kat bar and

a Snickers bar.

And really, the oatmeal and the water were just for show.  The Reese’s peanut butter cups will be served with dinner.

*Can I just add that “fun size” is a ridiculous notion?  Here’s what’s fun: screaming your head off while sitting in the front seat of a turn of the century, rickety, wooden roller coaster alongside a kid who gets nauseous at the sight of roller coasters but has decided that today is the day he will ride.  After he just drank a big glass of milk.

Kinda makes a .50 oz. piece of candy look wimpy.  Even if you eat 6 or more in a row (with breakfast).

Thanksgiving and Henry

15 Aug

My friend Henry is a loser.  The worst kind of loser: a coat loser.

Monday, October, 3:15PM, second grade: Henry gets off the bus and is greeted by his loving mother.  Anticipating fresh-baked cookies and a cold glass of milk, Henry skips toward his house when his mother breezily calls, “Henry, where is your coat?”  Henry, who managed to bring home his bookbag, lunchbox and homework, had not even realized he was coatless and replies, “I left it at school.”

“Get in the car,” says Mom.

Same day, October, 3:35PM, second grade cloakroom: empty.

Tuesday-Thursday, October:  Henry and his parents wait for the coat to be returned.  Henry wears a flannel shirt in the meantime.

Friday, October, end of day: the coat is officially dubbed “lost” and is replaced over the weekend.

October, 20 years later: Henry, a grown man who has graduated college,  forged a career in Manhattan, and experienced love and loss is on the phone with his parents.  He speaks with them simultaneously as they have many phones in their condo in Boca.  Having run out of small talk, Henry mentions that he bought a new winter coat.

“I hope you didn’t get a good one,” says Mom.  “You lose coats,” adds Dad.  “That coat from second grade was stolen,” counters Henry.

“Because it was a good one-” Mom.  “I hope you didn’t get a good one-” Dad.  “You lose coats-” Mom and Dad together.

And this is why Henry has come to dread Thanksgiving.

There’s no such thing as free poultry

18 Jul

Note to self:  the next time your kid mail orders chicks and they arrive with a “free bonus chick included,” DO NOT let child go online to determine what species the chick is.

The kid will mostly like type in some obvious traits about the chick which, in this case, were: big, black chick.

See you on the therapist’s couch.

Asperger Moment

14 Jul

To the Aspie Kid road tripping the US for the summer, I asked: “where are you now?”

“In the backseat,” he replied.

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