Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bar None

Man was fearfully and wonderfully made. And God looked at man, rubbed his chin, and said, “Man is lonesome. He needs someone who can remember to put a new bar of soap in the shower.” So God made woman. A helpmate for the man; someone who could find the mustard behind the milk in the refrigerator, and who could produce two clean, matching socks from dust mites in the air at 6:30 a.m., and who would emerge from the shower with a $20 hot oil frizz-reduction hair conditioning treatment streaming down her shoulders to locate and unwrap a new bar of soap so that the next person would not have to shower using the last bit of dandruff shampoo as a body scrub. Only God knows why a man, who can remember the quarterly scores from every Super Bowl from the dawn of civilization to present day replays, cannot remember to replace the soap when he leaves the shower. Somewhere between reaching for the towel and stirring creamer into his coffee, his priorities shift.
But while God is chuckling over the soap sliver bit, woman is in the kitchen raising her hands to heaven and crying, “Lord, never mind the soap. Why can’t man learn to put the twist tie back on the bread? Why does he have to do that twirl and tuck thing with the bread wrapper? You know I hate that.”
And God smiled. “He’s innovative.”
Then woman heads to the laundry room to bring new life to dingy whites and to zap spaghetti spots with her miracle stain remover stick. And she cries to heaven again, “Lord, why can’t he simply place his dirty underwear in the laundry basket? Why must he do that foot-flip snatch and grab act with his boxers? You know I’m expected to applaud every single time he catches them.”
And God nodded knowingly. “He’s creative.”
“Okay, God, I get it. Those little things that make me crazier than a salesclerk on Black Friday are the things he uses to make a better way in life. But just between you and me, God, what about that thing with the remote? Why can’t he leave the TV on one channel for longer than it takes to focus on David Letterman’s tooth gap?”
“Oh, that’s easy, God replied. That’s to keep you from having to watch three straight hours of How to Make Your Own Bait on the Fishing Channel.”
“You ARE wise,” Woman whispered. “Tell me, though. In heaven will he wake up every morning scratching his backside?”
“I’m working on that one,” answered God pensively. “The trouble is we have a problem with everybody staying clean.”
“In heaven?” The woman was astounded. “How can that be?”
“Well,” sighed God. “Everybody’s so busy watching television and looking for the mustard in the refrigerator, that nobody ever remembers to put new soap in the shower.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Much is That Mommy in the Window?

My teenage son is cooler than Santa’s shorts. He’s above eating school lunch, wearing jeans that look brand new, and doing homework. He is exempt from science projects, term papers, and standardized tests. Right. And I’m going to his senior prom in a plaid thong and fringed halter top.
As a Mom, my major duties include creating fabulous meals out of leftover parmesan cheese, tomato soup, and ground beef, nagging people to finish every bit of that homework, yes every bit, and wearing out a trail between home and school carrying forgotten band instruments, lunchboxes, and school projects. The school secretary and I see so much of each other that I know all about her uncomfortable polyester allergy, the names of all her grandchildren, and what size stretchy pants she wears. (And if she’ll lie about that, she’ll lie about that fake tattoo peeking out of her Sag Harbor separates.)
Last year, Son Two created an elaborate poster project in order to rescue his grade from the bottom half of the alphabet, and snatch the low-slung seat of his jeans from the jaws of spending the summer studying flash cards with Mommy. So one morning after he mumbled his fond farewell and got out of the car and I saw that poster rolling innocently in the floorboard, I did what any mother with no make-up on and morning breath would do. I slammed the car into park, dug my feet into my fuzzy slippers, and set out after my son at a pace usually reserved for sprinting for the last Nintendo on the shelf at quarter past Christmas Eve. Poster under my arm and the theme from Chariots of Fire drumming in my head, I raced down the sidewalk like the three blind mice at a cat show.
The cafeteria is the before-school gathering place. It was almost time for the bell to ring, so there was already a burst of activity when I reached the side window and saw my son, slouching around a table with his comrades. I’m not sure whether it was the sight of me dressed partially in pajamas and partially in office attire that alarmed the crowd, or the sound of me beating on the window shrieking my son’s name. If I had thought about it beforehand, I would have taken the time to put on lipstick. Or a bra.
As one, the student body looked up and took in the sight of a crazed woman bouncing through her “Forgotten Project” dance outside the lunchroom window. To his credit, and out of a well-placed fear of summer school, Son Two acknowledged my existence and came to retrieve his poster.
On the way home, I reflected on the truth that experience comes at a cost. Poster Board: $1.50. Fuzzy slippers: $2.99. Teenager making a mad dash for the cafeteria door in a desperate attempt to save his pride and project at the same time: Priceless!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Teachers R Us

I recently experienced an awesome and somewhat startling revelation. And it doesn’t even have anything to do with how to chop onions without crying or the best way to clean a soiled linen tablecloth if you’ve had the bright idea that it would be educational to let the children eat at the adult table, or even a new and economical way to cook Brussels sprouts so that everyone likes them.
This is an actual revelation from life experience. Not the kind of life experience that other people have and submit to women’s magazines for fifty dollars, although if I had a really great Brussels sprouts recipe that would actually cause people to eat them instead of hide them under the potatoes, I would certainly be willing to accept fifty dollars for it. My revelation is a great discovery that came about when I was talking with my niece who is an actual elementary school teacher. Upon the occasion when a child in her class had an unexpected and thunderous attack of gas in the classroom, she, the teacher, wanted to laugh. She did NOT laugh (out loud), but it took an episode of strict self-discipline and positive reinforcement to maintain her composure.
So it turns out that teachers are people just like you and me. Well, maybe not like me, because I’m still convinced that they can add numbers in their heads and figure out the answers to story problems without looking up the answers.
If one example isn’t proof enough, listen to this. I work at a church in a job which, unwise as it may seem, I am expected to do math. I am responsible for writing people’s paychecks and for paying taxes to the government, which is a pretty tricky procedure owing to the fact that the government is very particular in believing that you should pay them the right amount. Oh, they don’t really mind if you go overboard and send them buckets of gold, but short them by a doubloon or two and they’ll charge you interest.
Anyway, the first thing my employer did after he witnessed me thrashing my way through frightening things like bank reconciliations and trial balances; well the first thing he did after he regained consciousness, was to provide a helper, a mentor if you will, to guide my little ship through the deep and storm tossed waters of fund accounting. And this helper was, if you please, a teacher, and not just any old teacher, but the wisest owl of the lot—a college professor who instructs others in the art accounting! And can you imagine what this most venerable of all educators said the very first time he saw me perched on the edge of my chair at the computer, attacking the evil forces of fund accounting with a shredded bank statement in one hand and a computer mouse in the other? He sat right down and said, “Let’s make a back-up just in case we make a mistake.” A mistake! He allowed for a possibility that, even as a team (And this is a man who is smart enough to grow tomatoes and corn and other yummy things without having to give them all to overzealous crows or neighbors.), we could conceivably forget to carry an integer and get in trouble with the IRS (I Require Supervision) people. I expected the heavens to open up a send down a dove that very second. He sat with me patiently and kindly day after day and, even though he developed a disturbing habit of slamming his right foot to the floor like a driving instructor trying to stop a runaway car, he never gave me a failing grade on a day’s work. And he brought me tomatoes.
And if that kind of compassion isn’t proof that teachers are human, there’s not an equation in the world that would do the trick. But I can’t help but wonder if he has a good Brussels sprouts recipe.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Let Me Eat Cake

Hold me back from chocolate cakes,
Brownies, cookies, nuts, and shakes.
Help me know that if I eat
My waist will soon obscure my feet.
It shames me some to have to tell
That I weigh on the Richter scale.
So pork chops, have no fear of me
Roasts and cutlets can run free
NO! I do not have the will to try it,
I would rather die than diet.

You can sit there if you please
Eating fruit and cottage cheese
A celery stalk, a carrot stick
The vision fairly makes me sick
As for me I’ll roast and fry
And feast on pizza, cake, and pie
I’ll gorge until my zippers bust
And then remove them if I must
But til that dreadful day shall be
I’ll spend my time with Sara Lee.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Cough Drop--A Thanksgiving Miracle

Bill and I were sitting in that special kind of traffic jam that comes just before the holidays and is the result of a small town growing like an overdose victim of Jack’s magic beans, leaving mundane things like convenience and city planning behind. The roads were packed like the straw in a peach milkshake. Fruit gets stuck in the end, all movement stops, and nobody gets any relief. With a milkshake you can pull out the straw and suck out the peach pulp. With overburdened roads, the obvious answer is to block off one lane with orange cones and commit to a ten-year construction project.

We'd dropped our kids off at a mega-bookstore at what seemed like a short time earlier, doling out the last bite-sized candy bars from Halloween left in the bottom of my pocketbook to hold them until we got back and could hit a nearby buffet extravaganza. Sometimes eating out, even with two teenaged mouths to feed, is a better idea than a sound investment plan.

In the meantime, the Highway Patrol issued an all-points-bulletin to every mall-bound traveler in the area, describing our location, destination, and current state of irritability. That’s the only reasonable explanation for the fact that our car began to attract morons like a pan of biscuits attracts men named Bubba. Traffic stalled and Christmas shoppers begin to share the joy of the season with their fellow travelers one finger at a time. I attempted to retain my normal good nature even though Bill was getting testy. He always gets that way when he misses snack time.

Bill: Do you have any more candy in your pocketbook?

Me: Why? Are you hungry?

Bill: No, I thought I would toss some out the window to lure people out of our lane.

Me: You’re being sarcastic because you’re too hungry. (Pointing across six lanes of stationary traffic.) There’s a Wendy’s. And a Chinese buffet. And a pizza place. I'll bet that gas station has candy bars.

Bill: Are you hungry?

Me: (Fumbling through my pocketbook.) No. Why do you keep bringing it up? Look--there’s that place with the wonderful barbecue ribs. I could walk there and back before you got to the red light.

(I find a cellophane-wrapped object which I pull surreptitiously from my bag. I wince as a tiny crinkling sound gives me away.)

Bill: What’s that?

Me: Nothing.

Bill: What is it?

Me: Nothing. Leave me alone, willya?

Bill: You have food.

Me: No I don’t. It’s a cough drop. (Here I wave the cough drop with a flourish. It’s of a nondescript color somewhere in between magenta and pink eye.)

Bill: I want half.

Me: It’s mine. I found it. (I fondle the cough drop like it was the One Ring.)

Bill: We can take turns licking it.

Me: (Pensively) I don’t think I’ve bought any cough drops this season. . .not since I had the flu that year we had the big snow.

Bill: You can have it.

Me: No you. I can wait.

Bill: I can wait, too.

We laughed together, the warm laughter of two people coming together over misfortune.

Under cover of laughter, I shucked the paper off the cough drop like it was a peel and eat shrimp and popped it in my mouth.

Just then, in a holiday miracle moment, traffic parted like the men’s restroom line for a father-daughter combination. Nothing clears the tracks like a man doing daddy-duty with a lace-clad toddler in tow. We picked up the boys, and wheeled into a nearby restaurant.

Bill: See, it all turned out okay because we made sacrifices and worked together. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

We all smiled at each other like the Brady Bunch on the 29th minute of a 30 minute show. Secretly, I gave thanks for a cough drop appetizer that kept me from acting like a turkey.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

These are the People in Your Neighborhood

After the divorce, I moved into a tidy (not to be confused with tiny, a more suitable word but not as polite) duplex, thinking with my best “house is half-full” mentality that eventually I would buy a house. However, growing boys and lack of child support being what they are, twelve years later I’m still in the duplex, scanning newspaper stories about the burgeoning repossession rate, and longing for an extra half-bath. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I try to look on the bright side of things, like the fact that I’m not responsible for the water bill when tornado season causes the septic tank to back up, which in turn gives the toilet, never one to be outdone, a chance to perform its best Horseshoe Falls imitation. While other people are experiencing a drought, I’m planning a rainforest room in the bath and wondering where one can purchase parrots and other decorative jungle wildlife.
The best part of duplex life is the close, personal relationship you develop, by necessity, with the neighbors. By best, I mean frightening and intimidating. I remember the young man who proudly secured his mailbox to its post with good intentions, old-fashioned ingenuity, and the clever application of three-quarters of a roll of duct tape. Since he still had some duct tape left on the roll, I refrained from any pointed comments concerning his design.
Then there was the Good Samaritan who rescued a stray puppy that, filled with youthful vigor, managed to wind its tie-out chain around our heat pump every morning, a particularly delightful diversion on mornings I was late to work. Since Mr. Samaritan was rarely home, the task fell to me to unwrap the dog. One particularly stormy morning when I released the prisoner, he fell to with such excitement that he lashed us both securely to the heat pump. With determination and a cell phone pre-programmed to call Emergency Services, I managed a successful escape.
Better than this were Adventures with the Goat Man. This latest neighbor, a-twitter with the discovery that goats are to kudzu what the combine harvester is to wheat, procured from his brother-in-law, a baby goat. While the goat was fairly attractive as goats go, she was merely a wee babe and not up to the task before her. Even an enthusiastic goat is eclipsed by ten wooded acres covered in kudzu. Goat Man spent much time away from home (do we see a trend here?), and although long absences in neighbors are often desirable, we felt sorry for the poor baby left alone, and ventured over with fresh water every day. I soon found that goat-watering is a task best left to a younger, swifter generation. At my approach, the goat’s natural fears lead to a frenzied dash whose path was restricted by the chain that tethered it to a discarded tire rim. The circles grew smaller in circumference until the goat and I realized at approximately the same time that we were bound together by circumstance and an alarming length of sturdy metal links. I discovered at this point that it is best not to call for help from your teenaged son, who is not mature enough to realize the tact and discretion necessary in such a situation. It’s enough to say that he nicknamed the goat Seabiscuit, and that everyone on the Eastern Seaboard was aware of our predicament.
Duct Tape Man is thankfully gone, along with The Samaritan. Goat Man in still with us, although the goat is no longer in evidence. In its place is a free-range dog, a frisky yellow Labrador that fetches beer cans to our door like other dogs fetch the newspaper. And although I don’t really approve of the dog's habits, I have to admire his manners in asking us out for a drink.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Green Thumbs and Dead Mums

People in these parts are fraught with distress and alarm about the drought just because the lakes and rivers are drying up, ecological conditions are becoming unbalanced, and a bad case of static cling could start a wildfire that wipes out the entire southeastern kudzu crop. The last time we had a drought like this it looked like General Sherman was the official state gardener.

I’m just excited that everybody else’s yard looks like mine now. If it takes a green thumb to make things grow, I have thumbs the color of root rot. So far this year, I’ve murdered a fancy bamboo plant, a hearty pot of mums, and a Venus Fly Trap. To be honest, the Fly Trap was self-defense. I didn’t like the way it rubbed its leaves together whenever I ladled my hips into my stretchy pants.

Needless to say, my evergreens aren’t. My dandelions aren’t dandy. My weeping willow just sniffles and wrings its hands. And the Queen Anne’s Lace along the driveway has been demoted to Lady in Waiting’s Pompom Fringe. Even under the lushest conditions, the Black-Eyed Susans set the color scheme for my yard.

I once worked in a building that was destroyed by fire. There were two plants in my office, the kind that people always swear that you can’t kill. Thanks to my careful ministrations, these two fellas were well on the fast track to the happy flower garden in the sky. Then fire struck. Emergency crews responded, and the firefighters fought valiantly, but the building was ruined. The charred remains were enveloped in the sickening smell of smoke and standing water. Once the air cleared and the scene of desolation covered the parking lot, a large, heroic fireman appeared, gingerly carrying something he had unearthed from the rubble. As he drew closer I saw his arms were full of glossy foliage, coaxed into rebirth from the water of the firemen’s hoses.

I know when I've been beat. I’ve killed a lot of plants in my time, but I never had any that called 911.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bad Bread and Broken Hearts

We all know one. The woman who collects men like other people collect salt and pepper shakers or old teapots or odd nicknames. I have a friend who is cooler than a julep and sweeter than sugar cane. She attracts men like fruit tea attracts flies. She’s had more husbands than Paris Hilton has party dresses for housepets. At a time of life when I’m shying away from getting a dog with a long life span, Raelynne’s going through suitors like a paring knife through parboiled potatoes. She’s met the perfect man. Seven times.
"I’m cutting my losers,” Raelynne fumed as she strode into my kitchen bright and early one spring afternoon. Raelynne rarely rises before noon on the weekends except in cases of extreme emergency such as news that Brad Pitt is filming nude scenes next door. She nestled into my kitchen chair like it was a vat of warm chocolate.
“You mean your losses?” I asked, pulling up a stool. If she’s up and around at lunchtime on a Saturday, there’s probably a story worth making coffee for. I popped a roast into the oven, set the timer for four o’clock, poured myself a cup of Maxwell House, and settled in to listen.
“No, when I say losers, I mean losers. I’ve reviewed my list of current relationships and found there are individuals there who no longer offer any value-added services.”
"Value-added? Sounds like romance is dead. Who's been voted off the island?”
“There's Lance,” She poured a cup of coffee from the pot and stirred in an ice cube. Raelynne says life is too short to wait for coffee to cool. “I asked him to stop by Oscar’s and bring deli sandwiches with him when he came over to do that flower bed under the living room window yesterday. Don’t you know he took so long trying to decide what kind of bread to get, he only had time to do half the flowers before dark. And to top it off, he brought pumpernickel.”
“So let Lance shop some other bakery for his hard rolls. Who else?”
“Well, there’s Sam. He’s a dear, but he's a stripper. I keep finding one dollar bills in the strangest places.”
“So much for Sam and his singles. What ever happened to Steve?”
“Oh. Steve. Well. . .” She paused and traced the ivy design on her coffee cup with one newly purchased Raspberry Rose fingernail. “I’m afraid he had a character flaw I just couldn’t deal with.”
“What was that?” I asked, spreading strawberry jam on an English muffin.
“He was in love with me. He kept asking me to marry him. I finally ran out of excuses, so he had to go.”
“But I thought you cared about him.”
“Best man for growing roses I ever met. Vacuumed my house every Tuesday, took out the garbage every weekend, and never raised the lid on the toilet that he didn’t wipe under the rim before he put it down.”
“Sounds like love to me. Why didn’t you marry him?”
“My dear girl,” Raelynne looked shocked. “What would I have told all the others?”
I thought about my own Romeo. He’s put up with a lot more than bad bread and garbage duty over the years.
Romance isn’t dead. It’s just making the rounds.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Make My Day

Due to a recent flurry of incidental gunplay at the mall, there’s a new policy calling for youth under 18 to be chaperoned on the weekends while conducting the teenage business of flirting and attempted murder. The idea is to cut down on youthful shenanigans and gangland activity. I’m sure the mall management people mean well and have every intention of securing the safety and happiness of the great community of man, early Christmas shoppers, and vacationing tourists with large amounts of traveler’s checks. The trouble is that they’re policing the wrong group.

They need to keep their electronic eye on people like me.

If I have to try on one more pair of black latex hip hugger pants, they’re gonna have a lot more than warring gang members to contend with. I didn’t bear the regulation two children to be confronted with sixteen racks of clothes designed to show not only my stretch marks, but my emergency C-Section and the scar from the unfortunate hot burrito incident.

And since when are hipbones considered fashion accessories? I’d like a little warmth around the navel base now that winter is on the way. When there’s a frost warning, I want to worry about my plants, not my pants. And at this point in life, my love handles are far too similar to bungee cords to be considered cute.

I know they make clothes for mature women, clothes where coordinating trousers (with clever under-the-armpit fit) and tops hang together conveniently to allow for ease of selection. When the women in my community visit the mall, they come home with shopping bags full of the same outfits. When they get together, it looks like league bowling night at the Star Lanes. I’m not quite ready for polyester pull-ups. All I ask for is a pair of pants that doesn’t make my behind look like a levee.

So the bright minds at the mall had better think a little more about the ammunition they’re selling instead of the fire power that’s coming in the door, because the next time I’m confronted with 72 tiny pairs of jeans with pockets the size of age spots, I just might lose my control panel.

And Mallers, unless you want trouble, don’t even think about starting swimsuit season early. I don’t want to see an ocean-going outfit until I get the pumpkin pie off my thighs. But if you’re feeling lucky, go ahead. Make my day.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Credit Pays

Men are from cash only, women are from Visa. If you can’t drive it, put a refrigerator in it, or watch the Super Bowl with automatic stop-and-go action on it, men want a one-time transaction. Women want a receipt.
Paying cash may have been an option in the olden days when you could get gas without taking out an advance on your paycheck, but these days you need to pursue a line of credit just to buy breakfast cereal. A transaction to fill up your gas tank could very well involve the question, “Fixed or variable rate?”
And why is it men carry on like the TV remote just went belly-up if they have to go to the store with us to buy a pair of pantyhose, yet if they’re off to shop for lawn tractors, we have to pack a lunch? Once they get into a discussion of horsepower with the garden man at Home Depot, we can sneak off for a cut and perm, have a rendezvous with the pool boy, and still be back in time to hear them say, “But will it handle the hills?”
A man copes well with important, life altering purchases, like a home in the suburbs or a clever multipurpose tool that can do everything from buff his golf balls to pick his teeth, and that comes with a sleek leather holster that clips to his belt. Men are especially fond of gadgets, and have a particular love for the ones they can attach to their bodies for display purposes. My husband looks like he’s wearing a Batman utility belt when he leaves for work every day. But the first time he calls me Alfred and slides down a pole to get to the breakfast table, we’re through.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Driving Bigfoot

It’s traumatic enough to teach a teenage boy to drive without having to do it during a period of time when oil sells for more per barrel than the movie Titanic grossed during its entire run—including endorsements, action figures, and Leonardo DeCaprio’s autograph on a commission check. When my son put his size 72 foot (appendages on the accelerator may be larger than they appear when peeking through my fingers) on the gas pedal, he burned $27.50 of premium unleaded and left a skid mark in my driveway composed of the entire collection of Commemorative State Quarters. At the stoplight he revved the engine and the smell of burning presidents filled the air like fake butter scent at a movie matinee. Counting the meager stash left in my wallet, I couldn’t help hoping he caught on quickly to the concept of three-point turns. Besides, I needed to get to the bank before closing time. I wanted to take out a loan to teach him to parallel park.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

From Polar Caps to Cold Feet

As a woman who can no longer figure her age without the aid of a scientific calculator, a sheaf of graph paper, and a Number Two pencil, I completely understand the concept of global warming. I haven’t even hit the half century mark and I don’t break out the sweaters and scarves unless ice is forming under my fingernails. Mother Earth has got me beat by a few decades, give or take a period of conquering hordes, a roving band of dinosaurs, and a Crusade or two. I figure tornado-force winds come from her fanning herself to keep cool.
In my younger years I was the first in the neighborhood to break out the faux fur and firewood, but these days my polar cap is melting at a rapid rate, which is the only explanation I can find for my humid hairstyle and damp T-Shirt. If I had to hold the heat of all the people on Earth, there would be a spike in the number of new oceans, not to mention some even greater lakes, and not a small increase in tributaries. All of these new bodies of water would spring to life in the wee hours of the morning accompanied by a good bit of tossing and turning and 37 trips to the bathroom. It's odd, though, how the temperature of the whole is greater than the degrees of the parts. My behind is the permanent victim of Chinook winds and my feet are wedged firmly in an Antarctic ice floe. But I wear the Equator like a halo above my sweatsoaked brow.
I don’t mind the aging process. The popping of my joints makes for a lively rhythmic beat to keep me from napping at my desk in the afternoons, and I’ve become accustomed to wandering from room to room searching for a clue as to what I was looking for in the first place. But if Mother Earth is ahead of me in menopause years, I can understand why history repeats itself. She lost her place and had to start over.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Roast Rage

Contrary to the biased opinion of teenaged boys in the 17-19 age bracket who crash into my kitchen at an hour past minute rice, shedding sweaty soccer gear, band instruments, and rented video games, My name is not What’s For Supper. Likewise, I am not the seating hostess at Denny’s, nor am I the Sample Girl at the food court.
Now I understand my mother better. She used to stare longingly out the window while mashing potatoes and mutter, “If the world were to end today, I would have to serve biscuits to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse before I could go to glory.” I thought she was batty. Really it was roast rage.
Pondering the matter while I munched on the crunchy brown parts of the chicken crust last night, I decided that there are some actions that could tend to make me snippy in the kitchen. So I have thoughtfully prepared a menu of activities for potential combatants to avoid when I’m engaged in actual food preparation. Break one of these rules and I can’t guarantee what will happen with the potato masher.
* Don’t kiss me when I’m making gravy. Gravy is a narcissistic beast and fully capable of expressing jealousy in the form of oddly shaped lumps and unappealing consistency. (This one is directed more toward the head of household who is filled with joy and the love of life whenever he smells food in the final stages of preparation. I don’t see much of a problem where the teenaged boys are concerned.)
* Don’t tell me the potatoes have lumps, but you like them that way. The potatoes won’t be the only thing that’s served up with a few extra bumps that evening.
* If your main objective is to stand in front of the stove and steal samples from the chicken plate, don’t offer to help me in the kitchen. If you want to be of assistance, save me the trouble and stick your bottom lip in the cheese grater.
* Anyone apprehended peeking into pots boiling merrily away on the stovetop and making the same sound I make when I step in something gooshy will come away with a better understanding of the term "cauliflower ear. "
* Sampling the meatloaf and saying, “You know what would make this good?” is grounds for assault with a meat mallet.
* Don’t report the fun everyone else is having in the living room, scream for me to come watch the new Geico commercial, or exclaim “Oh, you missed it!” while I’m carefully browning the crescent rolls. Pillsbury didn’t spend all that time packing dough in that little can for me to let it go up in smoke while I’m dashing into the next room to watch a lizard talk.
For those of you who can't remember the rules, feel free to ask questions. I'll be in the kitchen. Sharpening my potato peeler.