Thursday, January 31, 2013

yeah, Rita

I'm sitting in a Best Western Inn in Rockford, Illinois watching my husband watch a Roy Rogers movie.  They have a bar downstairs called the Tilted Kilt and the waiters wear kilts with nary a tilt in sight.  I'm thinking of occupying one of their bar stools and ordering a margarita as I wait for the pool to clear of screaming children, it's check-out time, they need to leave. Decisions, decisions and vacation is so tough.

We weren't supposed to be here at all. The initial plan was to leave town in two days arriving at this city's airport to catch a jet to Ocho Rios. But a massive ice storm has been threatening and who wants to miss their Jamaican trip because they thumbed their noses at the fickle gods of weather and had to remain housebound due to the inch of ice coating the world out there. The big guy's retirement party ended last night, we went home, packed up and hit the road not even opening the retirement gifts. Well, he opened the package with the fishing pole in it because we couldn't imagine what the heckle jeckle it was. It was shaped like an assault weapon was my thought, that term swirling around in my brain with our current state of national unrest. I did say that out loud and one wife guest said, "oh, that would have been a gift for YOU," referring to the sad state of my current status, an unemployed husband in my home, in my way, eating up my precious solitude. I know, I know, it'll be fine.

Kinda nifty doing something impulsive for a change, haven't done that in forever. Flying down the highway with a generous addition of Kessler's in my McDonald's large diet past the black cornfields the only lights being barn yard globes, the farmers all tucked in bed waiting for the early morning milking call.

My sister-in-law calls, you coulda stayed in town another day, nothing happening here yet. Yeah, Rita I could be home cleaning my house, cooking yet another fish stick supper and picking up his Highness's underwear.
I think I'm having fun.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I swirl the wine in my glass and clear my throat and say to my father, "the Secretary of Defense lifted the ban on women serving in combat" and I regretfully hear that stupid 80's song in my head, 'I am woman, hear me roar, gag, roar.'  I am seriously devoid of any hint at how my father will respond and then his face twists into a pained expression, "I cannot agree with this."

But then he doesn't agree with gay marriage either, "I don't mind if they live together though," jeesh.  Fifty years from now and probably less the citizens will say, what were the bunglers thinking, crucifying those non-choosing folks who baby, they were born that way.  I forgive my father a lot of transgressions. He comes from a slower-paced yet reflective generation. Rules were decided and carved in stone, walls were constructed and questions were never voiced, end of story.

"Why do you disagree," I ask, "do you think women in the field will prove a distraction?" He looks surprised, I can tell this hadn't occurred to him. In my own head I say that's a problem for those Rambo randy men, deal with it, get your nose out of your crotch and on with the killing already, quit wasting taxpayers' time.

"It just isn't right. In my time women needed to be protected and were" and this is starting to bore me. We don't want to be protected, Sonny, I'm whining. There is honor and nobility in maintaining and securing one's own existence. Dependency breeds weakness and false beliefs about the nature of things.

"What about physical requirements?" he continues."We had to be able to carry a soldier out on our backs like firemen do. Can women do that?"
I listened to public radio earlier in the day and just such a discussion was going on. The male broadcaster was telling the female Marine that 35 push-ups were the requirement for recruits going into combat and he was doubtful women could do that. Her voice stayed steady as she replied, "for me 70 push-ups is a bad day, 90 a good day." Don't you just love it?

We all know women who would make excellent soldiers. Some of them were nuns who taught me in grade school. Sister Alphonse could stop a charging rhino at twenty feet with her withering glance.

The Associated Press article in the paper says, "in addition to questions of strength and performance there also have been suggestions that the American public would not tolerate large numbers of women being killed in war." Evidently, large numbers of men being killed is acceptable.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I am in the dentist's chair letting the hygienist perform all kinds of atrocities on my tender gums and her blond bangs wave back and forth above my forehead.  All the hygienists are thin and blond at my dentist's office and he does not seem like a sexist kinda guy and I'm thinking maybe women of this physical description are strongly drawn to the profession.

I feel the spray of water in my mouth and bend sideways for the spit bowl and I catch myself  just in time when I remember spit bowls are museum pieces along with my 45 rpm record player and that Singer sewing machine I stitched Barbie doll clothes on.

We have a new fluoride treatment, smiles my blond hostess. It's a varnish and we paint it on your roots with a small brush. It will make your teeth feel rough but try and leave it on for eight hours. If you can't, that's fine, you can brush in four hours. I smile bravely, a medical challenge indeed. I will leave it on for two days, two weeks if it puts me in the dental patient Hall of Fame. I find it necessary to be a hero to my physicians for some unexplained reason.

I dab on lipstick in the car and immediately realize my mistake.  The varnish is a sticky glue and the lipstick adheres to my teeth and lips and I resemble a mentally challenged matron. I grab a tissue and start rubbing and now there are little red* gummy balls stuck to me and thank god for the toddler's wipes and I scrub forcefully to remove this crap. Clean again and I'm off for an egg mcmuffin and several errands. I arrive home an hour later and the big guy walks by chewing a bagel. I recite my destinations and the people I encountered.  He says,"you're gonna wanna look in the mirror."  I am in the bathroom and see a fifth of my breakfast attached in sizable chunks to my teeth and gums. I look like that homeless lady downtown I always talk to because nobody else does and she always has more goop than tooth in her mouth. I belch tasting paint fumes in the back of my throat. This stuff  probably causes cancer and night blindness and god knows what else.

*To be precise, Estee Lauder Maple Sugar, "once you go gold you never go back."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

rabbit hill

Bob and Tom have often said, "any man who sits around and watches afternoon television has no testicles."
I call this to your attention because Big Dave retired on December 14 and life as I know it came to a screeching, smoking halt.  The big guy has difficulty being alone and that means the TV is always on, always.

Rabbit Hill - Lyons, Colorado

Perhaps it is PTSD rearing its ugly head and the former soldier cannot handle obsessive 
thoughts taking over when the room gets too
quiet.  Or perhaps he needs more company and attention than his introvert spouse can provide and the box fills that need.

Or more than likely he has the attention span of a gnat and like small children watching Sesame Street he needs a new picture in front of him every 3.14 minutes.

I seek out noble and silent places. While my son lived in Colorado we would scale small mountains looking for those elusive places far above the loud and cranky civilization where only the wind and the hawk's call made their way to our ears. We would sit quietly and prayerfully in this chapel for only a short time until the big guy would ask, when are we going back down.

I grew up in a family where TV was not watched until after the dinner hour when chores were done and the day was spent.  My male relatives had no interest in sports except for my youngest brother and he was always considered a little odd. Anyone who dresses his entire family in Green Bay Packer clothing including the dog for the Christmas card picture owns that title.

Back then I watched Bonanza every Sunday night right after the Ed Sullivan show and could not decide which Cartwright boy I had a crush on that week. I needed nothing more for contentment than the occasional Suzy-Q cake roll and a copy of Sixteen magazine.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

full on the lips

Drat. One more Christmas party and my husband's family just can't get enough of each other and taco bean dip.  Big Dave is packing up his bedroom slippers and I'm wondering how long he plans on staying.

In an unusual display of self confidence I decide to bring a new recipe to the par-tee without a trial run.  Flour tortillas topped with cream cheese, dried cranberries, green onions and feta cheese. I can't even imagine how this will taste but Susan tells me "it's pretty and Christmasy and people will love it and want the recipe."  And this is all I want.  People chewing my food and moaning and their eyes roll up into their heads and they go scurrying for pencil and paper to write the magic formula down. I roll the tortillas up and slice them and the sad lopsided circles look like they're embedded with dead flies.

 At my sister's-in-law I plop my sad-looking plate next to a chocolate covered German chocolate cake and the frosting consists of Baker's chocolate squares, corn syrup and buttermilk.  Good lord, don't these people read health magazines? It looks like a huge brown top hat because the frosting flowed down the sides and pooled around the bottom several inches from the cake. But the thing is disappearing quickly slice by slice and only two pinwheels are missing from my plate and I think I saw half of one in the sink.

My technique for dealing with overly zealous and talkative in-laws is to drink large amounts of alcohol quickly and quietly and I find a bottle of dry red wine that will suit my purposes.. And then I am hugging a lot of people and actually enjoying it and this is when I realize I am losing my identity and my inhibitions to the wine which had been the plan all along.

The next morning my head feels like it's full of tightly balled-up socks. And the phone rings, curses, and Big Dave is home and it will be answered. He hands the thing to me and it's his niece asking when she could drop off the $240 cleansing and diet program I purchased last evening.  "And my Dad is still wondering why you kissed him but he would do it again" she adds.  I could use a good cleanse right about now. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

don't order the eggplant

I am in the car driving to my father's townhouse. We will be traveling across the river to a small town in Illinois where Lincoln once gave a speech from the balcony of a Main street hotel. We are joining my brother and his family for lunch in a popular Italian ristorante. My father has already indicated he does not like this restaurant. "Their raspberry vinaigrette is too salty and I got diarrhea after eating the eggplant Parmesan." Sonny makes this announcement with a tone that suggests we will change our minds and dine elsewhere because of that eggplant problem. This is not to be the case and my brother after hearing the same tired old story said to him, "you know what you learn from this, Dad? Don't order the eggplant."

the dreaded dish

My hands are gripping the steering wheel too tightly and my father has pointed out  three driving errors in less than six blocks. "You speed up just to slow down" has always been one of my favorites and "you shouldn't have to brake here" and "there is a faster way than this."  Dad, my goal is to avoid traffic lights, I hate traffic lights.  "Yes, but you had two stop signs."  Dad, I was able to drive right through those stop signs, no waiting. "Well, maybe this time."  I sigh and now I realize why my mother sighed so much. "Do you want to drive?" The words come out of my mouth carefully and I have never been more serious.

My father orders vegetable primavera and he draws an imaginary line down the middle of the dish. Half will be eaten and the rest will be boxed for a future meal. Do you ever think about taking a forkful from that other side and upsetting the symmetry of your meal division plan? Sometimes I think the guy is wound way too tight but perhaps I am dreading the ride home. And besides, that deplorable trait of his I just mentioned, I've got more than a touch myself.

I love this man intensely and fervently although he makes me crazy. This has been the case with all the men I have loved. If they created no inspiration or headache in my daily routine they would be useless to me. Not the best plan, but there you have it. On the way home he reminds me about the saltiness of the dressing and the pooled butter (he shudders) in the bottom of the bread basket. I embraced both of those delights and I dipped my crusts in that same butter and hoped he did not see. We try to be perfect for our parents, we think they deserve that much.

gimme butter