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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Beware the TimeShare

Today's the day! The line in the sandbar. The last Strawberry Field Forever.

Have you ever had a thorn that didn't just stick in your side, it went all the way through like a gut feeling shish kebob? That guy that always takes your parking place, the troll that manages to take credit for your job well done, the fat chick who takes the last piece of chocolate cake on the buffet?  Okay, that chick is me, so we'll overlook that one. Forgiveness is good for the soul - and your waistline if not  mine. 

We're heading into a holiday weekend and it's no time to let bygones be bygones. Time to get the collective karma off our chests and into somebody else's lounge chair where it belongs.  This is my beach blanket full of broken dreams and bitterness.  Add your baggage to the bucket brigade and have a wonderful weekend. 

Carpe Diem Dadgummit!

Dear Self-Inflated Condo People,

Per your multi-color, glossy newsletter, I am aware that your location is the place where beautiful people go to glory in the kiss of the sun.  Specialty shops and elegant restaurants abound on your exclusive island resort getaway.
As far as I'm concerned, the sun can kiss my beach bag.

We’re not a match made in Hilton Head.  My idea of a fun beach trip is a plate piled with crab legs, a splash of drawn butter on my Jimmy Buffet T-Shirt, and a bag full of sand-encrusted sea shells to take home in the trunk of my beater.

I realize we began our relationship as kind of a vacation resort blind date.  You were a gift from a departing “friend,” and I was anxious to feel ocean wavelets smacking against my ankles and broken shells piercing my feet once again. You never forget the good times.

It had been a long time.  That thing about absence and the heart is true when it comes to sea breezes, although I’ve experienced just the opposite with ex-husbands and overdue bills.

So, without taking time for logical thought, I took a gamble, I hopped the outbound train, I grabbed the golden ring; I accepted the gift of two condominiums at your resort.

It was my last resort.

The odds were stacked against me, the train derailed, the price of gold plummeted.

Sure, for someone who routinely spends $500 on a week’s vacation accommodations, your offer was a portfolio of suntanned memories, a patio dinner overlooking an ocean sunset, shrimping and crabbing in the creeks.
And I get the opportunity to pay double that every year.

Plus upgrades.  Because we don’t want the beautiful people struggling with outdated beach blankets. Sand in the suit detracts from the vacation experience.  Even crab legs can’t scratch that itch.

The last time I spent over $500, I kicked in extra for flowers to go by the headstone.  I have the memories for that one.  And they’re not all bad.

So now we’re at an impasse.  I have two of your condominiums and you want money from me.  I’ve tried to give you away, but that sentimental catechism that says, “if it’s yours it will come back to you” is wrong. 

It will come back to haunt you.

So I’ll sit here far away from sandy beaches, broken shells, and ocean breezes.

And you can stay there.

With the crabs.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dropped Calls

Dear Defunct Cell Phone People,

I got your end-of-service reminder text at breakfast. And at noon. And at dinnertime.

Every day for two weeks.

Maybe you’re not getting the message.

We’re through.

You might be surprised to find out that I don’t need a phone that Facebooks, Twitters, or plots the shortest route to the doughnut shop.  I got my phone so the kids could call if they ran out of gas or had an accident.

Or if I did.

Or in case I needed to retaliate when someone I was having an in-person conversation with put me on hold to answer their phone.

My apologies to my cardiologist.  And to old man Brenner.  I didn’t realize it was an emergency.

At this time I would like to thank you for your interest in my communicational well-being.  I appreciate your concern that I will soon lose the telephone number I have kept through so many wrong numbers.  I’m not sure who people will call for delivery service now that I’m gone, but I will undoubtedly be replaced at this number within the next fifteen minutes.  I imagine there is some poor guy out there who will soon get a call for a dozen Extra Cheese Pepperoni and Jalapeno Pan Pizzas, Heavy on the Red, and will try to explain to seventeen people with nicknames like Kojak, Tiny, and Pork Chop that he doesn’t deliver.

There is a family reunion full of people who are even now eyeing one another’s pocketbooks, thinking a purse-bottom peppermint might save them from starvation while they wait for thirteen orders of bread sticks that I’m never going to bring to their feast.  I’m not Dominoes.

I’m not even DiGiorno’s.

There’s also the bill collector that has called faithfully every week. His tenacity is inspiring, even though I have never opened, nor do I expect to, an account at Fringe and Frolics.

Can you see where this is going, Cell Phone People?  I’ve let your phone service lapse on purpose because I’ve found another phone. One that can help me with my goal to communicate without requiring the use of a foreign language translator, two English to Portuguese reference books, and a link to the Urban Dictionary.

As an example (this is true), my last text on your edgy, new-age touch screen read:

Desr Captaim,
I’ll be eivng back. Xp’yoke wa’t go biu this?
I love yoj.

My husband thought he received a vulgar text from a Klingon.

Which is kind of redundant if you know Klingons.

But, dear Cell Phone People, times haven’t always been bad.  Whoever the stranger was that wished me Happy Mother’s Day with an extensive musical message brought a tear to my eye.

Because they used up my last six minutes.

So we’re through. Let’s part without bad feelings, or reminder texts that continue for six months and include jolly holiday messages touting Santa Savings. There’s a new phone in town that knows how to speak my language. 

If I can figure out how to turn it on.





Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bugging Out

School started this week.  I didn’t go.  I have a framed piece of paper hanging on my wall (sitting on the floor behind the door) that says I already went.

So why am I getting graded?

My email brings me lots of things. Some of them are surprises. Like coupons for someone named Bridget.

Or a progress report for someone else. Studying bugs. In Missouri.

Like we don’t have enough random insects to hide behind the visor and jump out at red lights here in South Carolina.

You can study bugs in college?  That sounds like one of those new-age majors, like The History of Star Trek or Implications of My Little Pony on World Weather Patterns.

I was an English major, so really it works out about the same.

I thought of writing back and offering to study Spider-Man, but apparently spiders don’t count.

Too many legs.  I thought it was just enough.

The body of the email looks like a midterm progress report, which is the sort of thing I’m likely to fail if we happen to get for life. 

And there’s a Pollinator Research Video, which sounds altogether too personal to show in school, even in an honors class. 

I’d probably fail anyway.  Once you get past 50, your Pollinator is not an On Demand service.

Another one of the things we’re being graded on is an insect collecting video.

I freaked out when an ant ran across my keyboard. 

I’m not expecting any progress.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

School Days - Fists and Furies

I need a lunchbox for the Captain, but I’m afraid to go to Wal-Mart.

For local kids, it’s the last week of summer.  Moms across the county have been crossing off the days since June.  They’ve been having Craft Fun with Kids for three months.

If Mom has to glitter glue one more popsicle stick, everyone will die.

The week before school starts, ordinary Moms use their superpowers to supply their kids with every item necessary to get them out of the living room and into the classroom where they can’t spread peanut butter on the dog.

Reach for the wrong thing at WalMart and it’s Clash of the Titans.  Perseus tries to wrestle the last My Little Pony lunchbox with Streamers and Rainbows from the minions of the underworld.

Things aren’t looking good for Perseus.

My boys are long past the Dog Days of Nothing To Do, but I still can’t think of ninety days of Pokemon reruns without shivering a little.  Then there was craft day. Son One made Son Two into a cardboard box robot.  I caught him just before he punched out the eye holes.

With his fist.

The Furies couldn’t have kept me from that last pack of notebook paper.

So even though the Captain needs a new lunchbox, he can wait another week or two.  But I may still go to Wal-Mart.

And pick up some protective gear for the teacher.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Getting Trashed

Yesterday at lunch, I got stuck in the trash can.  Getting stuck isn’t new for me.  I’m forever ending up in a pinch.  But the trash can thing was a new twist. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Nobody saw it anyway, except the dog, and he promised not to tell.  Okay, there were Milk Bones involved, but I think he’ll keep mum.

I was feeding The Kitten Who Shall Not Be Named, which sounds like I was dumpster-diving for cat food which would be a new low, even for me.  But really, I was throwing away the tiny can from a Very Expensive brand of kitten food that the vet, who must think I sell oil in my spare time, insists that I feed this pitiful baby who is taking on weight like an overbooked cruise ship.

The pitiful baby whiled away her time trying to climb my leg for the plate of food.  If I ever have that many needles in my ankle again, I’d better have an intricate tattoo of George Clooney to show for it. I looked down to shoo the hungry beast, while at the same time pressing down on the button to open the lid of the trash can. In a unique blend of talent, luck, and bad karma, my bracelet got stuck in the hinge.

Multitasking at its finest.

One hand was balancing a plate of high dollar fish bits and the other hand was swimming with the fishes. So I did what any responsible, level-headed person would do.

I screamed like a first time roller coaster rider, threw one hand in the air, jerked my bracelet free and watched as the Labrador neatly snatched the kitty snack out of thin air.

And nobody had to mop the floor.

That’s why I love dogs.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sweet Tea, Big City

This weekend, I’m going to the theatre.

It’s not that I don’t get out much, but the highlight of my life lately has been prying dog food out from under the stove.

Don’t ask.

The theatre in our little town might not be the same as it is in the Big City (and by the way, you pronounce it thea-TUH so that everybody will know you're not going to the dollar movies even though they have a really sweet combo deal on buttered popcorn and a Coke).  Also, the Big City may not be the same to me as it is to you.

The Big City is a place where you can get food that doesn’t come in a crinkly paper wrapper and where you don’t have to pour your own drink, but you have to tell the waitress what you want because she doesn’t already know you always get sweet tea. 

Getting to the Big City involves checking the fluids in the Ford.  We keep a bottle of water inside in case we get stranded or thirsty on the trip.

The Big City is twenty minutes away.

In a Small Town most entertainment comes when the students in Ms. Marian’s dance class put on a recital and wear bows bigger than bulldozers in their hair and tap shoes that sound like someone playing Yahtzee in a blender, or somebody gets stopped on Main Street for pretending to rob the Zippy Mart.  Sometimes at the end of the school year, the fourth grade does a play.

So we’re going to the Big City to drink sweet tea and see a play that doesn’t feature any children we know, which might make it hard to keep up with the action.

It’s not Our Town, a play which is about a small town like mine and is my favorite play, although some people that I used to be married to say it’s dumb.  They also wouldn’t eat ground turkey just because it smelled like Thanksgiving when I made spaghetti.

There’s something to be thankful for every day.  I’m thankful that now he has to make his own spaghetti.

This play is about pirates back in the days when pirates were orphans and policemen said “Tarantara!”  It was written long ago by two men who didn’t like each other. One wrote the words and the other one wrote the music. But they didn’t speak to each other if they could help it.  They didn’t even sing or hum unless maybe it was to annoy the other one.

They probably had to make their own spaghetti, too.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Hall of Blame

This is not a new post, which is kind of the point. It's from the last time everybody got mad and didn't do much about Very Bad Stuff in sports.  So unless we come up with a better plan than putting everybody in Time Out, a Latin phrase meaning Paid Vacation, things like this will come in cycles. Like cramps.
          Major league baseball is embroiled in a scandal so big that by comparison Marge Schott looks as sweet and innocent as, say George Steinbrenner, except that old Marge has gone to that great big dugout in the sky, and Steinbrenner is still hanging around trying to make the rest of Joe Torre’s hair fall out.   Marge Schott was a very bad lady who gained fame by mistreating minorities, such as baseball players and her coaching staff, as opposed to George Steinbrenner who was never a lady at all. 
           Apparently, one baseball player, who shall remain nameless except on the cover of his best-selling book and on the front page of all the newspapers that showed the­ Congressional proceedings, ingested enough performance-enhancing medication throughout his baseball career to give him biceps the size of vitamin-enhanced hams.  This particular baseball player claims that most of the other baseball players he knows also took performance-enhancing medication and that is why baseball players make the field look like a meat-lovers pizza when they all come out to play ball. 
            For the most part, the other players involved say they are innocent babes who grew extraneous body parts the size of small wildebeests through good genes.  None of them mentioned who the good genes originally belonged to, or if they came in small bottles with instructions that read:  Take one every four hours as needed for ginormous growth spurts.
 The government took charge of the steroid scandal for two reasons:  1.  Because baseball people have a notoriously difficult time discussing anything without a large man in a suit and chest protector squatting over them hollering Hiiiiiieeeeehhh!!! while pointing his finger, and 2.  Because government employees don’t have anything else to do until it’s time to campaign for a Federal holiday to honor Shoeless Joe Jackson, another famous baseball player who got in trouble for not doing anything.
 In a dazzling display of intelligence, the government brought several large baseball players to Washington where the government people asked them questions to trick them into giving themselves away.  “Did you take steroids?” the government people asked.  “No,” the baseball players responded.  “And anybody who says we did is a stinky goo-head.”  Here all the baseball players stared meaningfully at the book-writing baseball player.  Well, they stared meaningfully in his direction, but a lot of them have bad eyesight from years of not taking steroids and weren’t sure exactly where he was sitting.
 Major League Baseball, an organization so important it is nearly always written with initial caps, banned the used of steroids in the year 2002.  Some baseball players thought they said stereos because they had bad hearing from years of not using steroids, and also from listening to loud stereo music with headphones on, so they were unaware that they were supposed to deny steroid use.  Therefore, Major League Baseball, who hopes to someday be written in all caps, instituted testing for steroids two years later and promised that anyone who got caught would have to sit and watch the game before cashing their paycheck.  These days they’re getting really tough and the baseball powers that belong to the exclusive Baseball Rules Club considered instituting a penalty of at least $10,000 which is as much to a Major League Baseball Player as a shiny new quarter is to you and me.
 This season, the average baseball fan is ready for the Government People and the Major League Baseball People and the Baseball Players with Thighs the Size of Boston Butts, no offense to the Red Sox, to stop arguing so that he can finally go to the ball bark and settle down in his seat with a nutritionally enhanced and nitrate fortified hot dog served in an enriched bun, and for one afternoon forget death, taxes, and whether it’s a crime against nature for Washington D.C to be home to a baseball team.  And if a large man in a suit and chest protector points his finger at anybody, he’d better be sure he knows his balls from his strikes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


I have a niece who reads Pinterest like it’s the lost book of the Harry Potter series.

I’ve seen Pinterest. It’s definitely Science Fiction.

Without the Science part.

“Look at all the things you can do,” she gushes.

I can’t paint, glue, or staple without written permission from my insurance company. I have to get two estimates if a project involves scissors and have an emergency crew standing by in case of glitter.  I once sewed a banner to my leg, and I’ve glued things together that should never have been bonded.
Just call me Craft Queen.
I have a No Pinterest clause in my policy.  You know that insurance company that says everybody is under their umbrella?

I have to stand in the rain.

My niece put together a special box for me for Girls Craft Night.

It holds a pack of washable markers and an apron. I have a glue gun, but no ammo.

I'm the Barney Fife of the Craft World.

So when I wanted to paint my new desk and sand it to look old, everyone who knew me was distressed.

Except my niece.

She told me exactly what to do.

The Captain is going to do it for me.  And I will assist.

So nobody will be distressed.
Except my new old desk.

And the insurance company.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Coupon By Any Other Name

I don’t mind so much that my mother never got my name right the first time.  I was the youngest, so she’d go down the list.  Even if she never got mine right, I knew I’d better answer sooner or later.

She knew where I lived.

The Captain never uses my name.  He calls me whatever comes to mind and I answer with equal enthusiasm to Hey You (he wants me to answer the phone) or Baby Doll (he wants me to hold a nail he plans to hammer with a monkey wrench).  We’ve been married long enough to know it’s the thought that counts.

Countries have gone to war over less.

I’m a bit miffed, though, to discover that my drugstore doesn’t remember me.                            

Today I got an email from them and they called me by another woman’s name.


I don’t even look like a Bridget.  Bridgets are thin and perky.

Wrong on both counts.

So I’m voicing a plea to CVS to remember the last minute allergy medication and moisturizer runs we've had together.

How could you forget our all-nighter after the TexMex buffet and the oldies movie marathon and how you shared the Pepto-Bismol from aisle 5?

That was an Affair to Remember.

And that time I got the red lipstick, but forgot and left it in the car all afternoon?  In the South. In August.

I looked like the Joker at a Mary Kay party.
And after my first divorce when you had Snickers on sale.

Chocolate heals all wounds.
You know more about my personal life than the perm girl at the Beauty Basket.  Than the mail sorter in charge of private boxes at the Post Office.  Than my kids who would sell my vital statistics to the guy on the corner for a pack of gum.  And who once shared my weight with the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly for free.

We’re an item. I have your Smart Card on my key ring.  You know my phone number, which is more than I can say for myself.

Now you’ve called me by another shopper’s name.

And offered Bridget $3 in coupons.

So we’re through.  I’ll do my 11pm Kleenex and candy bar run somewhere else.  

Unless I can use these coupons myself.  Because, really, what’s in a name.

Just call me Bridget.