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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Puppy Love

Lucy hits the tail, er, trail to find true love.
 At least she found a man with a steady job.
It just goes to show that the age-old story is true. A good girl will fall for the bad boy every time.  And if the good girl is a Dachshund, she's too stubborn to face the truth.  It's Puppy Love.  Join me at An Army of Ermas for Lucy's tale of a Good Girl Done Wrong.

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Not Delivery; It's Dentistry!


I’m upside down. Tennis shoes that I really mean to wash some day are pointed toward Oprah crying personably into an immaculate handkerchief on a three inch television attached to bolts in the ceiling. A dentist, a technician, and judging from the smell someone I’m pretty sure is a pizza delivery man, are running gloved hands around my gums. 

I haven’t had this much attention paid to my mouth since I swallowed the paperboy’s change when I was five. Just now I’m concerned that if the attention shifts to the area it did back then, the dentist will pull an $800 dental crown out of my. . .anatomy.

“Just relax.”

Right. I haven’t been this relaxed since I heard my obstetrician say “Hand me the knife” just before I drifted off to sleep in the delivery room. If this visit ends up like that one, somebody’s going to have to change my diaper.

“Bite down.”

At last we were venturing into my area of expertise. I complied with gusto.

“Whoa!” the dentist rolled off the mangled glove and a perky assistant snapped on a new one.  “I said bite, not feeding frenzy.”

I drew a breath.

Have you ever noticed that dentists shove something in your mouth when they suspect you’re about to say something clever?

“Bite down carefully.”

I cracked one eye open. The entire staff was crowded behind a section of yellow tape that read, “Police lines. Do not cross.”  The hygienist appeared to be praying, an assistant was carving another notch into her sterile tools tray, and the dentist was Googling “thumb replacements” on the scheduling computer. Two young women in HazMat suits were drawing straws.

It’s not that I’m uncomfortable in the dentist chair. Normally I’m all about letting a man with a power drill crowd in close enough to my face to twirl my lips around the drill bit like spaghetti on a dinner fork.  I’m just stressed by the fact that Oprah is on the tiny TV and I can’t hear how to make a proper Bloody Mary over the cries of the dentist. 

And it’s not that I’m afraid of the dentist, like a small child with a bad dream.  Actually I’m terrified, like an adult fearing the zombie apocalypse, but I thought I was cleverly concealing that fact until I realized the reason the doctor rescheduled my appointment is that he was meeting with his insurance representative to overhaul his death and dismemberment policy.

The whole thing played out like a reality TV show.  Team Bravo charged in and repaired my bridge while Team Coward held back to comb the office for an Immunity Idol.  I triumphed by forming an alliance with the pizza delivery man.

I think we all won. The dentist got to file an attractive claim with my insurance company, the office employees got combat experience, and I spent the rest of the evening munching on a meatlover’s special pizza with my new teeth.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Cupcake, er Captain!

A decade and half back I discovered that if I was going to get two kids through fourth grade math, I was going to have to marry someone who could figure --without a calculator –just how fast the train that left Los Angeles was traveling and when it would overtake the train of thought that derailed when I discovered that as class mom I was in charge of cupcakes. 
These days I just use Google Earth and divide by Facebook, but in those days Social Media amounted to little more than a “Girls Wanted” ad in the personals section of something we called a “newspaper,” math was accomplished on the ten fingers I had available, and neither was any help with the cupcakes.

So fifteen years ago, on July 12, I considered all the options and decided it was the perfect time to marry the Captain.  There was a time I thought sticking my hand in a frightened dog’s mouth was a good idea too, but hopefully this plan won’t come back to bite me. Or require stitches. So far it’s smooth sailing.  But we keep the vet on speed dial.

And we always make time for cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rockets Red Glare

Homeward bound from a Fourth of July picnic, we passed down the main street of our small town. The journey was slowed somewhat due to the unusual traffic, but the tractor soon turned off and we had the road to ourselves.

As we approached the Municipal Complex, the kids, excited by alarming and possibly disastrous situations, noticed a mob outside the fire station who both appeared to be hard at work placing letters on a large sign by the road.

“Look, Firworks!”

Nothing says small town like a budget without enough spare change to buy a vowel.

Boys are natural fans of pyrotechnics, particularly the pyro part, and I’m always on the lookout for fresh air opportunities, so we whipped a U-turn at the abandoned gas station and came back to join the crowd.

The public parking places were occupied by the fire truck and a wheelbarrow, so we parked the car in the Fire Marshal’s yard, and struck up a conversation with the boys’ Scout Leader. It seems the Town Council had a son who got them a good deal on fireworks, so a Fourth of July blowout was in full swing.

At the time, we didn’t realize the importance of the word “blowout.”

The kids, with a genetic instinct for finding free food, headed toward a table dripping with slices of watermelon. An unlimited supply of a fruit that’s 90% liquid. There’s a good thing to have on hand when the yard is full of free-range kids and the bathrooms are locked up.

In the fenced pasture across the road, the fireworks launch squad strode into view. The crew chief carried a cardboard box full of bottle rockets and a disposable lighter. His wife wore blue jeans and a motorcycle bedecked tank top that didn’t leave much room for the handlebars.

Son Two materialized out of the twilight. His cheeks were sticky and there was a misfired watermelon seed stuck to his chin. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

Across the street, the launch chief sorted through the rockets like he was searching for the half inch piece in his socket set, and carefully arranged a bouquet of bottle rockets in a soda bottle.

“It’s about to start. Can you wait?” 

Son One appeared beside his brother, wearing a pained grin and dancing a familiar jig. “You, too?” He nodded just as the first rocket took off with a sizzle of sparks.

Both boys disappeared. Nothing comforts nature’s call like a lit fuse.

The fireworks display proceeded with random showers of red and gold sparks, interrupted now and then by an unmotivated dud rocket that bailed on liftoff and headed back to the picnic table that served as Ground Zero. Once, the launch team was visible through the gloom and gathering smoke, stamping out embers in the tall grass of the pasture.

Son One appeared by my side, clutching another slice of watermelon like it was a football and I was the defensive line of the New York Giants. “They set the bench on fire, but they put it out with a juice box.”

I’d had a slice of watermelon myself and the juice box reference made me think fondly of indoor plumbing. I squinted at him. “Don’t you have to go to the bathroom?”  Across the street the launch crew ducked as another dud rocket zoomed in low over the pyrotechnic staging area.

“I can wait.”

Stephen King never came up with a scarier line.

He dashed away, weaving a path around knees and ankles like an Olympic skier on a timed run.

Suddenly, the grand finale accidentally erupted. The entire area lit up in a patriotic display of billowing smoke and crackling fire. The picnic table and the box of fireworks were ablaze and nearby portions of the pasture showed signs of imminent ignition. The fire truck swept out of the driveway and across the street where it made short work of the ambitious embers.

As the excitement died down and the crowd drifted away through damp ash flakes floating in the air, both sons appeared at my side, eyes alight, wearing Junior Firefighter stickers. They smelled like bacon.

“This is the best Fourth of July ever!”

“So, where’d you get the stickers?”
We heard a blast from the fire truck and turned to see the driver give the boys a wink and a wave.

“What’s that all about?”  

“Well you know how you always tell us to use our natural resources wisely?”

I’ve been a mom long enough to know that when they remind me what I’ve said, I wish I hadn’t said it.

“The firemen said we used our superpowers to put out the fire!”

Determination and a strong bladder. That's what makes this country great.

Captain American would be proud.