Party On… Preferably Without Me

I’m in the minority here I’m sure, but I find parties to be such a hassle. I don’t mean just making parties. I think it’s a hassle attending them. One reason is because everybody has their own party standards and ways of doing things. My husband and I went to a party in a park a few months ago. The invitation said 12pm for a barbecue. We parked at 11:45. We didn’t know where this park even was, so we had headed out a little early in case we got lost and to give us time to find the correct picnic shelter.

We were all over this park… twice. We’re hiking. We’re mountain climbing. We’re scaling walls. We’re cross-country skiing. We looked like the torn down, low-budget version of Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. I had horrifying flashes that in another minute I’d be schlepping this giant gift bag up Mount Rushmore.

Luckily, my Girl Scout survival skills kicked in. (See? it’s not just a cookie cult… Although the only survival skill I remember from my stint in the Girl Scouts was to make sure I quit well before high school. I had no interest in traveling the entire uniform-wearing spectrum from cute to acceptable to absurd.)

I enlisted all of my senses to try to find this party. I couldn’t hear anything. No loud music. No people gathering. Nothing sizzling on a grill. Only birds, insects, a gentle breeze in the woods. Nature. I didn’t come here for nature. I came here for potato salad. I couldn’t see anybody. I couldn’t smell anything. I tried to follow the breeze to catch the gentle scent of barbecuing wafting through the leaves and ricocheting off the trees.  Nothing.

We finally found the shelter. Yep this was it. Shelter #2 across from the open field. Here we are. We’re here. It’s 12:20. Sorry we’re late. Oh, is that parking lot right there where we were supposed to park? Hello? Is anybody home? We’re hungry. We’re tired. We’re hungry still. I’d wished I’d brought them food. At this juncture, I would’ve reached into the gift bag, eaten their present, thrown the bag away and told them I forgot it in the car.

That’s assuming someone would eventually show up. So where is everybody? Let me consult the invitation again. There it is: 12:00. Could the “2” maybe be a “4”? Definitely not. And the people are from Chicago and not in the Army, so I can’t see why they’d be writing in military time.

Nothing. No people. No presents. No food. No music. No decorations. This couldn’t be. I even touched the barbecue. Ice cold. Not a sound of anybody approaching in the distance. Nothing. Crickets… (Real crickets. It was a park.)

I’ve never heard of people who were making the party arriving fashionably late. The only hint that there was maybe going to even be a party anytime that day, was these two sweaty, disheveled, out of breath fools standing there with this dusty-ass gift bag.

Oh I get it. Wow, that’s brilliant. Yeah, that must be it. We were invited to this guy’s birthday party, but it’s all a charade. It’s, get this, really a surprise party for us… in July… Even though our anniversary’s in October and our birthdays are in February. It’s the only thing that makes sense… even though, let’s face it, that made no sense. Even still, I crouched down and peeked under the picnic table benches. Not that I remembered any of these people being less than a foot wide.

Now it’s 12:42. As we’re debating our next move, “Do you feel like Denny’s or IHOP?”, we hear people on the horizon.  Here they come at a leisurely pace. With coolers and folded folding tables, paper tablecloths and balloons and streamers. What? You show up 42 minutes late and now you’re going to unpack two aisles of Party City and start decorating?

Please just give me my potato salad and my goody bag and let me head back over the mountain so I can get to my car before sundown.

I’m a Pig. Everyone Agrees.

I’m a woman who lives by the eight second rule. To wit: Anything that was originally edible that I was intending to put into my mouth, will still go into my mouth as planned, regardless of whether or not it’s fallen on the floor, under the couch, on my shirt, or into my running shoes, ten minutes after I ran a 5k in 90 degree heat.

I was about to tell you that I draw the line at my own personal dirt inside my own house, but then I remembered once devouring a bagel that had tumbled out of the bag into the shopping center parking lot. I’m sure I wiped it off at the time, but that was purely for the benefit of witnesses.

Oddly enough, or maybe not, I’d written that last bit this morning and wouldn’t you know it, this very same afternoon, my husband and I were walking in the mall food court en route to the restroom alcove, when a worker at one of the restaurants presented us with sesame chicken samples on toothpicks. We each chose one and headed with it toward our destination. A moment later, as I was entering the ladies’ room, I turned around to see my husband several paces back. “Why’d you stop?” I yelled behind me, chomping on my chicken.

“I’m not going into the bathroom while I’m still eating.” He responded, repulsion in his voice.

As I shrugged and continued on my way, he was not so far back that I couldn’t hear him mumble: “Class act” at the back of my head.

When I got out of the restroom and rejoined him at the water fountain… (yes, I did wash my hands. I’m not totally un-evolved. Although, I did get bored with the blower and finished my hand drying on my jean shorts… Anyway) As we walked back into the mall, (taking another sesame chicken sample on the return trip… well, she offered…) I told my husband that I could add his “class act” remark to my pig post thereby transforming his rude comment into art. He said: “So glad I could help.”

As you can imagine, my husband is not a pig. I tell him he’s a neat-freak, but more likely he’s normal and it’s just my ploy to take the focus off how bad I really am. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my behavior. I just don’t want to hear it. The irony is: I suspect my husband married me for my lack of tidiness. He grew up in a house with a neat-freak and ran to me in rebellion. It probably sounded good to him on paper at the time. He had no idea how bad things could really get.

For one thing, I eat in bed. It could be popcorn. It could be meatloaf. I also spill stuff a lot. Ketchup, chocolate syrup. I probably should wear a lobster bib all the time and carry everything in toddler containers and Sippy cups. And if I feel raisin bran crumbs under me in the middle of the night, you and I both know where those flakes are going.

As my husband turns over in the bed trying to pretend those ugly scenes happening in the dark just a few feet away aren’t happening, he’s likely envisioning in his mind a partition that would keep my mess from literally spilling over onto his side… and wondering if he’s the only spouse who suffers in silence or if there’s enough demand to bring his invention to Shark Tank.

All You Can Eat… Digest THIS

Somebody asked a friend of mine years ago what’s the first thing he’d like to hear as he entered the pearly gates. He responded: “This way to the buffet.”

Not me… I think of buffets as Archie Bunker did in the 1970’s show All in the Family: “All you can throw-up for three bucks”.

Except the places you go to now aren’t three dollars. That’s one of the 27 reasons I’m not a buffet person. If I pay $11.99, I feel pressured to eat at least $12 worth of food. It’s hard to enjoy a meal when you’re doing constant calculations in your head:

“That roll’s about $1.50. I’ll take a couple. Crap. I still have $9 to go. The spaghetti’s $1.29 for a whole box so I’m not eating that. Oh good they’ve got shrimp and steak today. That should bring me over.”

In NYC, they have buffets for take-out in the Korean delis. You pile each compartment in your Styrofoam container a foot high with hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, chicken breasts, whole oranges… Then you head to the cashier and they weigh it and you pay $52 for your lunch. That’s fair. Everybody is a rookie only once. After that, if you ever go back,  it’s because you just had dental work or have a hankering for apple sauce, bean sprouts, and a dollop of cotton candy if they have it.

Another thing that bothers me about buffets is they never feel clean to me. Not the plates, the silverware, the tables, the carpet. And I’m sure I don’t have to spell out why I have disdain for anything named: “Sneeze Guard” protecting my dinner. Besides their name and apparent function, I have other issues with sneeze guards (ugh, I said it twice… No options in the thesaurus) One issue is: I have short arms. Buffets are not made for the short-armed. In order to scoop the stuff in the back row, I have to reach all the way in with my entire face pressed up against the sneeze guard. (ugh again) I look like I put on a stocking mask to rob the buffet.

And if we go around lunchtime on a Sunday, I’m usually flailing my arm blindly trying to grab the serving spoon back there because not only do I have the sneeze guard (and again) barrier, but there’s usually a huge church hat blocking my view.

Then the place we go to has a chocolate waterfall or as I like to refer to it: “The Fountain of Brown Bacteria.” If you want to be nicer, call it the “Fountain of Youth.” Every kid in the place runs over to it, puts their who-knows-where-it’s-been hand in the marshmallows, impales one on a skewer, and then plunges the whole thing wrist-deep into the fountain. And they usually have to make more than one attempt because half the time the skewer returns from the fountain marshmallow-less. It’s the Bermuda Triangle of desserts. I always regret not having brought a can of Lysol to spray the fountain before I enter it. Sure, some “diners” at the restaurant could get deathly ill, but probably no more than usual.

Some people can argue that all restaurants, but I say more so buffets, are a leap of faith. If you are so skeeved by them that you’re afraid to go, don’t go. Otherwise do what I do: Shut up, enjoy your meal, & hope you wake up the next morning.

Too Anti-Social for Social Media

I think I’m not a huge fan of most social media because I’m not a sharer. And I have no interest in taking pictures of myself and have no idea why anybody does… No matter what they look like.

Of all the sites, Facebook is still the most stressful. I don’t want to play games with anybody. I don’t want to see pictures of my friends’ cousins. I don’t want to “like” what they “like”. I just like to know my old elementary school friends are still alive. If they’re hanging on, I guess I’m not that old. When they start to kick off, I’ll probably close my account.

Facebook is too much of a commitment for me. If you’re not on it all the time, you miss stuff. Like the other day, a woman I used to work with posted that she was doing much better. Better from what? I had to scroll all the way down to see that a few days before, she’d mentioned going into the hospital for surgery. But I couldn’t figure out what she was having altered, removed or put back in.

Everybody’s comments were useless. “Good luck!” “You’ll be fine!” How does that enlighten me in any way? People should be required to post comments with a backstory:  Information for those of us who tuned in late. Something like: “They say you don’t really need your appendix anyway.” Or “I don’t see why you really needed to have your butt lifted. I think it looked just fine where it was.”

When people post their business on FB it’s like a soap opera. If you haven’t seen it in a while, you have to catch up. With this ex-coworker, it’s aggravating. I  feel like just posting: “Carolyn, what did you have done? If it’s too long to write out again, could you just tell me what date you posted the details? Or, if Carolyn’s not conscious, could someone else please fill me in?”

I want to know the nitty-gritty partly because I’m a yenta, but also so I can comment without sounding like an idiot. It’s too risky to guess: “Now that you finally had that extra toe taken off,  I can tell you: Those people who ran screaming from the beach didn’t really see a shark.”

Only to have the next person comment: “That is so cruel to say right after someone just had heart surgery. What kind of a person does that???!!! Carolyn, I think that toe is adorable! Haters gonna hate!! You have plenty of REAL friends!”

Another option, when I’m digging for dirt is to scan down the list of commenters and see if I know any of them. “Annette… She probably remembers me. She’ll tell me what’s going on with Carolyn.” Yeah, that once backfired on me big time. The private message I sent didn’t turn out to be private and got sent to everyone including the person I was trying to get the 411 on. Oh, if only I hadn’t written:  “I see Denise doesn’t use her married name anymore on her profile: Fk’s up with that? Did she finally ditch the whore?” Somehow  Denise misinterpreted my good intentions.

If I still can’t find out what’s going on with Carolyn, I could probably bullshit my way through it like I’m sure that “Good Luck!” person did: “I’m praying for you!” “I’m thinking about you!” “You’ll be fine!” “You’re a strong person!” “I don’t think I could handle it as well as you!”

I think I just found a new career for myself: “Generic Social Media Comment Writer.” I can find you a non-committal, well-meaning, meaningless remark for all of your posting needs. I can even provide you with a keyboard shortcut: “For someone going through what you are- You look great!” Control 7.

And if I can’t find out what’s going on with Carolyn, I’ll just “like” her post like every other loser who doesn’t know what she’s talking about and is too afraid to ask… or is just too lazy to type a few words and a couple of exclamation points.

Some Jobs Have Perks THEY Don’t Even Know About

In last week’s post, “Stealing… It’s Such a Strong Word”, I talked about my family’s inclination toward petty pilfering: Just your average, run of the mill pocketing-Sweet-‘N’-Lows-at-the-neighborhood-diner type of thing. (I was once in a supermarket with my father when he saw boxes of them on the shelf and said: “People actually buy these?”)

At a job it’s different. I feel no guilt or remorse for anything I’ve done. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Still, I won’t give too many specifics, because, well, you know… statute of limitations and all that.

Naturally, everyone likes a job with good benefits. I mean health and dental coverage are fine. So are 401Ks. But for me, at a job, just like in life: It’s the little things that matter. For me, the best work place perks that a company can provide are the unintentional ones: The benefits they have no idea they’re providing.

All the “up & up” benefits are published. They’re right there for everyone to see. They’re in the employee handbook. They’re in the handouts at the orientation. They’re on your bi-weekly pay stubs. But if you go into the main employee restroom, hold your pay stub up to a mirror, turn it upside down 3 times and take as many steps backwards as you can without falling into an open stall, you’ll clearly see your “other” benefits revealed.

It’s called the law of inverse reciprocity. (Don’t look it up. You’ll be sorely disappointed.)  This means that the stingier the company, the more “other” benefits you’re entitled to.

For instance, if I get a job and I think I should be paid $50,000 a year for doing what they’re asking of me,  and they only offer me $35,000 a year, then it stands to reason, I’m in a $15,000 deficit. So while I appear to be working diligently for them all year, I’m also working for myself figuring out creative ways for them to make up that 15 grand they owe me.

And it doesn’t matter where you work. The law of inverse reciprocity still applies. When I worked in a fast food place, according to them, I received minimum wage. According to me, I also won a raffle for a lifetime supply of plasticware- Not to mention salt, pepper, and ketchup packets. Granted, I never put salt or pepper on anything, and it would take 40 of those ketchup packets to fill a tablespoon… It’s the principle of the thing. And I’m nothing if not principled.

I’ve worked for some pretty generous places that gave holiday bonuses, incentives, Thanksgiving turkeys, umbrellas… something. Coincidentally, they were never missing office supplies. But the only thing worse than a company that offers you nothing is a company that offers you nothing and thinks they’re doing you a favor. If you think you’re going to cater a smorgasbord for a meeting with the big-wig, hoidy-toidy, grand puba, company honchos and then, when they’re done mauling at it, you’ll toss the plate like a Frisbee onto the break-room table for us commoners to fight over… Watch your back… and anything else not nailed down.

Most jobs are the same to me. They’re really just glorified office supply stores. I’m a writer. Writers need lots of paper… and copies. We need to print things: Double-sided things… in color… and collated.  We need those giant staplers, paper cutters, markers, envelopes in all shapes and sizes. (You can keep those ones with the windows. We have no use for those.)

To these companies I ask you: “How else could I possibly afford those things? You know better than anyone how much I earn. You don’t want to stand in the way of my dream. Do you? Don’t look at it like I’m stealing from you. That just spreads negative energy. Instead, consider yourself an investor in the career of a budding “young” author. Doesn’t that feel better?”

Surely you’ve heard of silent investors. Mine are not only silent, they’re totally oblivious.

So if you ever work for a job where they give you a polygraph before you’re even hired, and they have cameras every three feet of the building, keep the copy paper, ink cartridges, and paper clips in a locked cabinet that you need a combination to open, and have all the pens and staplers chained to the desks… I am so sorry… I take full responsibility. I probably used to work there.

Stealing… It’s Such a Strong Word

I’m a petty thief. You can’t get any pettier than the stuff I steal, but I’m a thief nonetheless. I’d rather  refer to myself as a kleptomaniac. I always feel self-important if there’s a medical diagnosis attached to my hobbies. I just doubt that pilfering plasticware and napkins from fast food restaurants is grandiose enough to be classified as kleptomania.

It’s not my fault. I come from a long line of pettiness on my father’s side.

My uncle Sidney was a downright vigilante. Once he walked out of a Wal-Mart looking at his receipt.  He mumbled that they’d overcharged him by 50 cents on an item. I said:

“Well let’s go over to Customer Service.”

He said: “That’s okay. They think they’re going to cheat me? Next time I come, I’ll take a Hershey bar.”

My dad’s no better. He takes his Taco Bell soda to go. After he finishes it, he stops at another Taco Bell on the way home…and maybe again the next day… to refill his cup. I feel certain that he single-handedly inspired the sign you now see over the soda dispensers strongly advising against that. He would probably argue that yes, he’s refilling the soda after he’s left the premises… but not at the same Taco Bell. Technically, the sign discourages round-trip refills not franchise-hopping. (Personally, I’m surprised he’s never had the chutzpah to go to the drive-thru window and ask the kid to fill up his cup for him so he wouldn’t have to get out of his getaway car.)

And, of course, once or twice, he’s probably taken his Taco Bell cup into a McDonald’s to refill it. To which I’m sure his defense would be: “I would’ve taken it to a Taco Bell, but there wasn’t one around when I was thirsty.”

Not to mention the one self-serve place that offers free coffee refills but not free soda refills. But Dad will not be denied. He routinely takes a coffee cup and fills it with soda when nobody’s looking.

It started small. He used to taste test the fruit in the supermarket. Mostly just grapes. He’d nibble one and palm a few more. Then, one day, I accidentally made myself an accessory to a crime after the fact.

It was around the holidays and I mentioned to him that I was short one bulb for my Hanukkah menorah. I couldn’t find any in my neighborhood. So he mailed me one. I asked him where he happened to come up with this singular bulb since they only sell them in packs. He said he went into a store and saw it on display. I said: “You unscrewed a bulb from the menorah on their shelf?” He said: “I would have paid for it, but they weren’t selling it.”

As incensed as I was, I was grateful they had one on the shelf or he would’ve taken a bulb out of their personal menorah in the store window.

You also may have noticed that if you’ve been to an office superstore lately, they likely asked you to pay for your self-service copies at the copy center in the back of the store. My father unknowingly spear-headed that campaign for change too.

For years, you would take your copies and head a mile and a half due-west to the front of the store to the registers. Well, one fateful day, my father got to the front of the store with his 2 copies and his bill for 8 cents and was confronted with a line of people with shopping carts full of computers, printers, etc. at the only open register.

Did dad politely ask if he could jump the line? No. Did he take out a dime and leave it on the register? No. Did he throw out the copies in the waste basket by the cashier? No. He did, however, mutter: “Ah, the hell with it” as he took his two copies with him off the line and out the automatic door.

So if you ever see me on the news face down on the tile floor in a fast-food establishment next to the yellow “piso mojado” sign with a sixteen year old employee on top of me with his knee in my back, while another kneels down next to us and tries to pry copious plastic sporks from my fists, you can be sure my defense will be: “I can’t help it. I have a genetic disorder.”

Everyone Deserves the Right to Marry the Wrong Person

I lived a very sheltered life in the suburbs when I was a kid. We all know that nobody in the suburbs does drugs, drinks or screws around. Right? I remember seeing some girls smoking cigarettes once in eighth grade. I ran home to report the scandal to my mother. I was like the breaking news bulletin that pops up on your screen just in time to interrupt Final Jeopardy!.

I also didn’t get that there were gay kids in my school.  Sure, there was Anthony who in all of elementary school never showed any interest in hanging out with any boys at recess. My friend Sophia came from a strict Greek Orthodox family. They wouldn’t let her invite boys to her parties, but Anthony was always there.

Also, apparently our entire high school girls’ tennis team were lesbians. I was like thirty-two when somebody explained that to me. Sure there were girls who were tomboys in second grade. Most grew out of it around sixth grade. But a few still haven’t. And I’m sure some of the girly girls in school are probably girly girls’ girls now and, as usual, I haven’t a clue.

So me being confused isn’t something new. And now there are these two women who are professional basketball players in the WNBA. It’s your typical “girl meets girl” story.  Woman falls in love with woman. Woman gets engaged to woman. Woman and woman both get arrested for domestic violence against the other and, as a result, both women get suspended from WNBA. Woman then marries same woman a month later. Then, a very short time later, woman files for annulment from woman who announces she won’t be playing basketball next season because she’s pregnant.

(Please do not re-read. I had to re-read it and I already took enough Tylenol for all of us.)

I  may be slow, but I do understand enough to know that this scenario should save a trip to the Maury show for a DNA paternity test. Her wife KNOWS she’s not the father.  Money can also be saved on a lie-detector test. Here’s one woman who can’t claim she wasn’t cheating. It’s like if my husband came home one day and saw all the leaves had been cleared out of the backyard and he grilled me on it.

“Lori, how’d you get all those leaves out of the backyard? You don’t have a rake.”

So ergo, we must assume that while my husband was out, I had found someone who does have a rake to come over and “rake my yard” as it were.

The thought of gay marriage has probably also been around forever, but of course I knew nothing about it until recently.  The moral of the above story is: Everyone deserves the right to marry the wrong person. Everyone deserves the right to fall in love and crash and burn. Why should only straight people take vows that they have no intention of keeping? Why should only straight women feel the joy of having their beloved get drunk at the reception and fondle her bridesmaid during the chicken dance? Why should she be deprived of the joy of having a distant male cousin trying to get closer by getting more pokey than hokey?

Adam was the guy who did my mother’s hair when I was ten or eleven. I distinctly remember having a crush on him and saying to my mother… “Oh if only Adam wasn’t married.”

To which she replied: “Lori, if Adam wasn’t married… He wouldn’t be married.”

But now he can be. For better or worse.

It’s not possible to Keep up with Them…

I have never seen one minute of one episode of the Kardashians. I really would tell you if I had. I have no problem admitting, even bragging about my so-called “guilty pleasures” even when others are less than forthcoming.  (Like supposedly nobody I ever met eats fast food. This means that I alone, when I indulge in the good crap once a week, am somehow the sole supporter of a billion dollar a year industry even though my entire weekly combo meal totals $6.24. Which leads me to conclude that most of my friends are full of burgers, fries, nuggets, and something else.)

It’s not that I think I’m above watching the Kardashians. I’m just more of a Braxtons’ girl. I know very few things about the Kardashians: Only the important stuff: I know Kim is very proud of her ass (as we all should be), she and Kanye are short, and they’re apparently big Hitchcock fans because they named their daughter after one of his movies. And, the latest bit of Kardashian info I’ve gathered: Man, are they competitive.

On the one hand, here was “Bruce” Jenner as we knew “him” until a month ago: Father to several, step-father to several more. He hadn’t been just any athlete. He’d hit the pinnacle of athletes: He was an Olympic gold medalist…in the decathlon no less. So he didn’t just ping-pong or bowl his way to victory. No. He ran, jumped, and threw things long distances to victory.  Pretty impressive stuff.

Then over here we have the Kardashians. They’re famous and great at it. Now back to “Bruce” for a moment.

So now, finally, after decades of struggling with it, for what probably felt like a decathlon that went on for more than 60 years, we are introduced to Caitlyn Jenner. This is a huge deal. She said: “Here I am. You might like me. You might not like me. Whatever.” She took all the high roads: Diane Sawyer not Jerry Springer, Vanity Fair, Annie Leibovitz. No tabloidy crappola with Caitlyn’s face making out with Lady Gaga’s face on the cover. (I’m sure somebody’s in a very dark darkroom putting it together as we speak.)

So this is the biggest Kardashian/Jenner news ever! Top that! Oh, wait. Five minutes after the Vanity Fair cover is revealed- Caitlyn’s humongo news that has been brewing inside her for six decades- Kim’s finally pregnant again. Imagine that. The lights from Caitlyn’s photo shoot hadn’t even cooled off yet. What are the chances? Of all dumb luck. Here Kim’s struggled with infertility for a while and somehow, by some miracle, she turns up pregnant and decides to tell the world NOW. I’ve been through infertility. Many of you are going through infertility. Try timing exactly when you get pregnant. Hmmm. So the spotlight’s on Caitl… & now back to Kim.

It had to happen. The show had to get back on track somehow. I mean, the show has already had all the usual semi-unscripted soap opera requisites:  Marriage/divorce/annulment?, car crash, screwings around, pregnancy, drugs, infertility, take him back/throw him out/take him back… but “step-dad’s transgender”? And likely not just for the ratings… I mean, I think most people would agree that Caitlyn’s probably not turning back to “Bruce” the day after the series ends.

So once you’ve gone down the “step-dad’s transgender road”, where does a poor reality show go from here?  Kim’s surprise pregnancy is definitely a good start. And there are a couple of ol’ soap standbys I don’t think they’ve tried yet: I don’t remember anyone having an evil twin or amnesia. And baby North appears to still be under 2. (On Young & the Restless, she’d be driving by now.) And they all still seem to be playing themselves. I don’t think there have been any voice over announcements: “The part of “Kourtney” will now be played by Stacy Meyers.”

I just don’t know if any of the stock storylines are good enough now. Caitlyn’s announcement has really upped the ante for the whole family. The pressure is really on to be more creative.  Let’s see. What can we come up with? Khloe can be the first reality star in a space mission… oh right. John Glenn was on Dancing with the Stars. I don’t know but it’s going to have to be big. Mom Kris or one of the sistas is going to have to date the President or the First Lady… or both… or be shot out of a cannon atop the Eiffel Tower… something.

How we Lose Our Minds on a 3-Day Weekend

(Memorial Day: We can never be thankful enough to all those who serve and have served.)

Memorial Day… Isn’t it wonderful? Hoards of people fought and died defending this Country and its freedoms all over the globe, just so I could get a bra for half-price. (And… to digress a moment because that’s what I do … I didn’t appreciate that when I had one on backorder, a store sent me a postcard… a postcard of all things, announcing: “Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Your Bally’s 34D extra support black bra is on its way!”  Although, I’ll have to say, that postcard has saved me money. Since that fateful afternoon when I snatched that damn thing out of my mailbox, I’ve never felt the need to give my mailman anything around the December holidays. I figure that postcard should hold him for a lifetime.)

And for most of us here in the U.S., Memorial Day weekend takes on other meanings. It marks the unofficial start of when rational people lose their minds. First there’s the TV news report showing the traffic headed to the beach backed up 2700 miles. Well, who could have predicted that on a Friday night at 6pm at the start of a three day weekend when it was going to be sunny and 83 degrees there’d be a lot of cars facing the beach?

The next shocker for normally rational people is that the gas prices mysteriously jumped in the past few days. Year after year we seem to always forget the strong link between political unrest in the Middle East and a three-day weekend in Myrtle Beach.

Then there are those of us who work hard all year to take good care of ourselves by what we eat and how we exercise who use the long weekend to defy the laws of melanoma. To many, the beach is just one  humongous deep-fryer into which we toss ourselves in hopes of transforming into one giant order of hush puppies and corn fritters.

And then of course, there are about 30% of us women who wear bikinis, although there are probably only 2% of us who should. I, for one, think I look great in my 34D postcard bra and panties, but when I put on any brand bikini, something unkind happens. I go from Demi Moore to SpongeBob’s friend Patrick in a matter of seconds… Then there are a percentage of guys who wear Speedos. In my opinion, there’s no way to win with a Speedo. Either you look terrible in it, or you look narcissistic in it. Either way… if I ever had thoughts of seeing you out of one… I still never want to see you in one.

And then of course, most of us commemorate the holiday weekend by eating ourselves into a stupor. Sure, lots of people drink themselves into a stupor, but I personally don’t drink so I have to make up for it  by eating my weight in whatever anyone chooses to stuff into a bun and smother in ketchup.

Family Comes & Family Goes & That’s When We Rejoice

Does your family ever ask you if it’s okay if they come to visit? Or are they like my sister who just makes an announcement and expects your whole world to come to a standstill?: “I’ll be coming the second week in May.” I can’t tell her “no” either. It’s not because I’m such a good-hearted person or that I feel guilty for turning her away. It’s because, frankly, I’m a sucky liar. I notice that when I lie, I lose all grasp of punctuation. I just ramble on and on with no end in sight. Thank goodness my supervisor’s voicemail at work has a time limit on it: “Hi this is Lori it’s 6:45 Monday morning I couldn’t sleep last night I was up with this stomach headachy rash strep throat allergy thing I’m so tired I think I’m rambling but I’ll be fine tomorrow I’ll come in then the pulled muscle should be better by then but if it’s not…………..Beeeep….. Finally! Thank Gd!”

So I don’t bother trying to tell my sister she can’t come that week because I’m going out of town for vacation or elective surgery or to participate in a mass suicide. She wouldn’t hear a word I said anyway and would show up on my doorstep right on time.

The main issue with my sister’s visits is that she brings stuff… lots and lots of stuff.  George Carlin must have known my sister. People have moved their entire extended families to the Himalayas in winter with less stuff than she brings for a 4 day visit. Every time she makes this expedition, I fully expect her to arrive with a jam-packed U-Haul hitched to the back of her Corolla.  Half of the stuff she totes are gifts for me. I know, you’re right. It’s a nice gesture and I’m a horrible sister. So the next time she shows up and offers me slightly used size 9 flip-flops that she got at a yard sale for a dime, I’ll try to think about that. I’ll try to not even feel sorry for myself for wearing a 6 1/2. Or sometimes she brings me Nancy Drew books someone’s tossed out. When I say: “You brought me Nancy Drew?” She looks confused and responds: “I thought you liked Nancy Drew.” It’s true. I love Nancy Drew. I read all the books…. In 1974. My sister’s only three and a half years older than I am.  I’m pretty sure she’s aware of that. So why doesn’t she grasp that if she’s well over forty, I’m probably not still ten?

So I said that “the stuff” issue is half the issue. Right. The “food stuff” is the other half. When the doorbell rings announcing her arrival and we swing the door open, you’d better get those hugs in quickly before you get run over by the cooler she’s schlepping behind her. Apparently there are no supermarkets in the state in which we live. Truth be told, there are five within a three mile radius, but you can’t be too careful. And yes, my sister is on a special diet. The coyote diet. If they eat it, she eats it. She is so notorious for this fridge-on-wheels that in the background of every phone call leading up to her visiting day, you can hear my husband yelling with desperation in his voice: “No cooler! Don’t bring the cooler! I’m not kidding!” She always proclaims it’s just a few necessities for the drive and things she can’t get here like Friendship brand cottage cheese. Breakstone won’t do. Then, along the trip, she’s accumulated a few other edible items that you can ONLY get here. By the time she’s unpacked everything and loaded it into our refrigerator, our poor food is cowering in one corner of one shelf. At night, if you’re very quiet you can actually hear it tapping on the light bulb and yelling very softly: “Help! Please help!”

Maybe what they say is true: We can’t choose our relatives. But at least once we’re adults, we can choose which ones not to live with.