Sunday, April 29, 2012

me, a role model? whose idea was this?

Slowly, ever so slowly I have started to litter.  Just small annoying things like plastic covers on restaurant toothpicks and Hershey kiss foil wrappers, things the big guy likes to leave in my car.  And yet I am the owner of two recycle bins and I do compost for the city and I am the daughter of a woman who screamed hell and fury at my son when he threw a banana skin out the car window as we crossed a Colorado mountain. "Relax, Grandma," he said, "it's biodegradable and there's a raccoon somewhere who's going to be really happy." 

And that's what it's all about, in this fragile ecosystem we trample on, we need to keep the raccoons happy.  But as I said, me littering, I need to readopt my former good habits and this thought crossed my mind when I saw the four-year-old toss a half-eaten cheeseburger and McDonald's diet Coke glass out the back car window. Problem solved, Grandma, can I have a wipe?

We are acutely aware we are role models again when the grand babies start to line up, a wonderful but sobering sight. And we blame the mean kids on the school playground for teaching our innocents those bad, bad words but in reality they heard it from us sitting in the back seats of our cars as we try to avoid being cut off by the idiots and dickheads out on the road. And I let them know very loudly my opinion regarding their lack of driving expertise.  When my father was my passenger I honked and gave the finger to a cigarette-smoking woman on a cell phone as she slid into my lane just inches from my front bumper. Oh, it was a swift and fair reaction and I cursed above the squealing of my brakes. Sonny shaking his head said, "you're lucky no one has shot you yet."

When my oldest grandson was three he was watching me change the diaper of his less-than-a-year-old brother and we beheld something orangey-green and pastey in the bottom of the Pampers. "Jesus Christ, Adam, what the hell did you eat?" was my response.  I got one of "those calls" from my daughter later that evening when young Ethan repeated Grandma's elation during another diaper change.

"Water wings are for pussies," I tell my granddaughter, forgetting that she is basically a tape recorder of all adult conversation she is privy to. Maybe this one will slip by and the phone will remain silent.  Well, they are for pussies, anybody of good sense would agree with me.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

an inadequate first drink

I look in the fridge and there's only a beat-up pancake which I planned to serve Dave for lunch the next day.  So now we are sitting at the bar in my fav downtown pizza place and the girl getting our drinks says this is her seventh day on the job.  She is pouring my second Kessler's and diet and the real bartender comes over and explains how to use the pour over method with the shot glass. "This way the customer gets a little more booze," he says, winking at me, love that man.  She had not performed this technique on my first cocktail and I am wondering if she could slip in a little extra whiskey to compensate for the inadequate first drink.

But I never actually ask that question and my gaze goes to the end of the bar where a couple sits eating pizza and talking loudly on their cell phones. "Do you think they're talking to each other?" I ask Big Dave but he is chewing and watching the basketball game. I turn to the guy on the other side and say, "their conversations aren't even interesting."  He looks at me bleary-eyed and emits a cherry-flavored liqueur belch. I sense this is the end of our conversation.

For awhile I had a rule we never dine in restaurants with TVs but then I'd miss out on Champ's chicken salad and a lot of other things.  And then I had a rule we would never sit at a bar to eat a meal but then I would need to wait an hour and a half for a cup of Appleby's tomato basil soup, unreasonable.
 "You have too many rules," says the Dave. "Mmmrmph," I respond. Marriage is made up of these one syllable responses that contain no vowels and they also relay the message, no further conversation, thank god.

And now the pizza is gone and the novice bartender is asking the chunky cherry-smelling boy if he needs a ride home.  I say, if you need to ask, he needs the ride.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the hype is justified

I had seen previews for the movie The Cabin in the Woods and it looked like your usual slasher, gash-her, zombie breath, bloody limbs caught in bear traps horror flick, the kind where the monster is about to crush some body's skull with a cement block and then the sweet young thing decides to take her shirt off.  Yawn, seen it.

Then I read the AP review and instead of the usual 3/4 of a column article there was one small paragraph. "Whatever you are doing, stop and go see this movie.  Less information ahead of time the better." And then the four sweetest words in the universe to the serious movie buff, "the hype is justified."

 Oh, they got me, they got me good with those four words.  My eyes glazed over, my heart rate accelerated and I was nearing  physiological nirvana. Lordy, lordy my life will have purpose and direction this weekend.  I'm going to the movies.

There is a system to watching a classic horror flick and keeping the contents of your stomach in your stomach.  You study it and it absorbs you until you inhabit an impervious plane unaffected by gore and body fluid because these are just special effects and you marvel at the loving genius of the technicians who produced this artistic insanity using computer screens and red-tinted Karo syrup, or whatever they use these days.

I  have read everything Stephen King published until 1980 when I realized he met his pinnacle with The Stand and all his novels since have been inadequate and weak.  But I'll tell you, that guy could describe one of his characters getting disemboweled for three and a half pages and make it sound like a sunset, all the lovely reds and pinks. And that's what true horror genre is all about, the senses illuminated.

Is this a comedy? Yes, it is.

And then there's the additional bonus of actor Fran Kranz who plays Marty the stoner dude and Kranz says he patterned his character after Shaggy in Scooby Do.  What's not to love?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

so it's obama and romney

Now that we know the contestants let the games begin. Those moral lacking Republicans have finally decided on their figurehead and thank god it's not Perry.  All we needed was a creationist who denies adolescents cancer-killing vaccines to be let loose on Washington soil.

I wish we had a different system. Perhaps we could agree on a committee of scientists and grocery store baggers who would consider the candidates and provide a list of their favorite picks for the public ballot.  I know it's a bit spacey and unorganized and the theory could use some tweaking but at least Gingrich would never have made the cut, chubby self-absorbed boy that he is.

 My man was Obama since I first held his hand in a public school parking lot in June of 2008. Now he did hold my hand longer than necessary and I thought there might be some meaningful connection, a phone call later at least, but that was not to be. He was gone, in his navy blue work shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbows and those wrinkleless jeans. He was knocking on doors and surprising the bejesus out of the rental property citizens in that semi-poor neighborhood.

I had a lot of hope with this guy and on some level I still do, but you know, jeesh, I wish he would have made some major crazyass changes, lightening bolt actions, wake up the multitudes kind of stuff.   He wasted time listening to fat cat bankers and business mogul gossips and hoping things would chug along by themselves and he could rest easy not needing to make a disruption. And now in the eleventh hour he is getting mouthy, telling the Supreme Court what their business should be and stating his hypothetical son would look like Trayvon Martin. What does Michelle think about that line of crap?

I'm feeling uneasy about the political shenanigans about to play on the November stage and I fear Romney will win because the liberal company has fallen asleep.  We lazy donkeys have been one step behind the situation, and I say let's blow this apathy to hell and back.  If I see Michelle in one more wussy powder blue dress I will upchuck and I genuinely worry about the present Democratic strategy demonstrating lots of limp dick policy.  Will someone save us, I need a superhero, but then that didn't work the first time.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

damn, sixty

Scrolling through my camera I discover my granddaughter has snapped pictures of me exercising in my underwear. Good god, that's a sobering experience even for the most hardened cowgirl, but there is a more daunting event dancing on my horizon.  My 60th birthday looms before me.  People will expect me to be celebratory and joyful and secretly hoping for a surprise birthday party although those in my inner circle have been severly warned regarding that situation. I am dreading the scrutiny and attention this birthday will bring and I'm thinking of hiding in a dark movie theater the whole day with a bottle of Kessler's.

On my last birthday I was surrounded by grandchildren at Happy Joe's, taco pizza within reach, and the ooga horn was headed towards my table.  I would soon be announced as a birthday person and the young thing in candy-striped skirt looks me over and says, "do you want me to say your age?"  Oh for chrissake, I wanted to karate chop her right in the middle of her soft, unwrinkled neck. She will not age well, the little tart, with those simpleton opinions of what older women should be like.

I need to calm down. It's only a day among many days.  I swam two miles today at the college pool and yesterday did a four-mile walk in under an hour. I will not go gently into the night, no sir, write me out of that scenario.

But I still want to know, what's going to kill me?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


It's Easter and Big Dave and I are strolling into Champ's for a holiday supper. I just finished exercising and am wearing a crappy grey t-shirt sweaty around the collar and wrinkled khackis.  I just wanna grab a quick supper in a dark bar where nobody will notice me and my unwashed hair.  This is not what we usually do on Easter but I am liking it.  I order the potstickers with Asian slaw and very cold beer.

Any other year I would be beating cream cheese dip into submission and praying the butcher gave me a good cut of ham.  My toilets would be bleach fresh and there would be a purple and pink felt egg pin on my lapel. I would be waiting for relatives to show up and litter my carpet with potato chip crumbs and fill my sink with greasy paper plates. This year my boss penciled in my name for the Easter evening slot so I said sorry, family, cannot do the big dinner thing. And then the boss changed her mind so I ended up free of all the hostess crap.

So Easter finds me playing Scrabble with my father and my nephew for three and a half hours. Sonny was resplendant in his choice of holiday duds, pressed navy slacks and white turtleneck sweater, who wears this kind of stuff anyway. We got into only one argument, my temper flaming when the old man redefines the rules to suit his position. I grind my heels into his carpet and refuse to budge, after sixty years of his wiley tricks I remain unyielding. He asks my nephew for the deciding vote.  When Luke agrees with me Sonny overrides the boy's decision and there is no progress.

And now I am sitting on my couch eating black licorice jelly beans and thinking about the telephone conversation with my granddaughters in far away Michigan a few minutes ago. They are refreshing and edgy and eternally flamboyant, oh for that energy in my life every day.  They are eight hours away and I will dream about them tonight and the next.

It's Easter and that's a problem.  The sweet salty scent of ham takes me back to Marie and countless talks in the kitchen, it's still a crazy ache.  My aunt Gloria sent me a letter my mother wrote to her over forty years ago and my father and I scour its contents eagerly, wanting to experience the fresh breath of air that was my mother.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

sometimes you just can't think of a title

My granddaughter is a wildly vivacious child and the four-year-old girl is a party on two feet. The world is indeed her oyster and Cameron the pearl as she establishes her superior status in every situation. She butts herself into conversations with strangers, interrupting and correcting them, an example would be the Harley guy.  Mr. Handlebar moustachios was buffing the chrome on his machine when she blurted, "my daddy has a motorcycle and it's bigger than yours!"  No, he doesn't, he has a snowmobile and we should just walk calmly and deliberately away from this scenario.  The next day she tells the computer fix-it guy to leave right now because she wants to go to the park. And now she's grinding her princess sneaker into the paw of the shopping mall Easter bunny "'cause I had to see what was in there."  Yeah, we're worried.

She dresses in garrish and loud clothing, more costume than apparel.  Today she is in a Minnie Mouse dress with giant pink polka dots and puffy sleeves, lilac tights, white open-toed sandals with princess buttons that light up and blue and purple polka dot socks. She looks like my grandmother.

Cameron is a crazy outgoing extrovert and she collects people. We are at the waterpark and she scans the crowd for a potential playmate. She approaches a little girl and takes her hand and now they are splashing and giggling, strangers a mere five minutes ago.  The girl's parents are watching and approving and they are headed towards my table with their nachos and cheese and extra chairs. I look the other way hoping what's probably going to happen won't, but the father is bending over me and saying, "OK for us to sit?"  "Oh, of course," I mumble knowing my face does not reflect the interest that was necessary. They are from Cedar Rapids, ninety miles away and they know somebody from my home town named Tim. Strangely, I could not place the guy.  These are nice people, yes they are but it just doesn't register for me, it never does. I am always sitting in the circle just outside what is actually happening.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

downside of divorce

One of the downsides of divorce, and there are many, is the grandchild's birthday party with all the exes present.  I am sitting on the floor wrapping a seven-foot puzzle in paper decorated with puppies in birthday hats and wishing the day was just a vague unpleasant memory.  Dave's daughter's son is turning four years old today and it's a train theme party.

I like Dave's grandkids.  They are gregarious and wildly observant and talk smart.  Joshua, the four-year-old has indicated he does not want old people at his party, who can blame him, we rarely say or do anything interesting.  Sorry, Josh, we showed up anyway and I am being handed a piece of blue Thomas the Train birthday cake and I didn't even get a yellow window.  The children have paper black lumps of coal taped to their chests and they are crab-racing across the living room carpet and pasting them on a cut-out train on the opposite wall.  Surely they will crash, I think, crying and bellowing will fill the room. That doesn't happen but there are a few tears when one little boy wins no races, not even one.

I am sitting next to Dave's ex-wife's new husband and he is wearing thin Italian black leather loafers with little tassels on them. He is a pleasant gentleman but he dresses like a pimp, albeit a very successful pimp.  "I would never make you wear shoes like that," I whisper to the big guy and he looks genuinely relieved.

 The former wife, a woman who treated my Dave shabbily and unkindly, is resplendent in a red blazer with a ruffled red and white skirt and matching white canvas boat shoes. She has let her white hair grow long, half-way down her back and held back with a red ribbon. She looks like a giant candy cane. "And I," say I patting Dave's hand, "will never buy a skirt like that."  God, I'm good at catty.