Monday, August 30, 2010

That Came Out Wrong

My dentist says I have a small mouth, but he is the only one. One of the things that I hate most about people is all it takes is one verbal misstep and they hold it against you forever. I say one wrong thing, and they never let me live it down. Here is what I have to say about that: I’m sorry I am an idiot.

My mom used to tell me that I ‘played dumb’ when I was a teenager. The truth is, I wasn’t playing, I really am that dumb. I was about fifteen when during dinner; the whole family was gathered around the table, discussing their day, when I was engaged in a verbal tête-à-tête with my sister. I disagreed with something she said, so I said, “Oh bull!” My dad, whom I had no idea was even listening to the conversation, came unglued. He started ranting about swearing, and appropriate dinner-time talk, and the merits of clean speech. I sat stunned trying to figure out what set him off. I really had no idea.

So I said, “What are you yelling about?”

He said, “What is ‘bull’ short for young lady?”

And I said, “I don’t know.”

So he boomed, “Yes, you do!”

I ventured a guess, “I guess it is short for bull-oney.”

That is what you would call, the wrong answer.

Now, I know that there are other people in the world who misspeak. Presidents for example (“strategery”—not a real word, “I did not have relations with that woman”—but ya did), anyone who has ever mistakenly said, “When are you due?” to someone who is just overweight, that WikiLeaks guy, etc. But I, I take saying the wrong thing, to a whole new level.

I once worked for a tenured full-professor who had just undergone eye surgery. I had only been in his employ for two weeks, when he came into work wearing his post-surgery eye patch. Now, in my defense, I have to say, I am mostly psychologically retarded and it is bad-wiring in my brain that made me say, “Shiver me timbers, how arrrrrgh you doin’ matey?” I know. I can’t believe he didn’t fire me either.

The truth is, most of the time, when I speak, it is a mistake. My brain just cannot keep pace with my mouth. Like when I was talking to a friend recently, I started to recount a conversation I had with my husband, about how hard it is to get rid of a body, if you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to get rid of one. The woman gathered her children closer to her bosom and looked aghast. That is right—aghast. Yeah, I don’t think she will be calling me anytime soon.

And once, when I was waiting tables in college, a group of guys came in real early on a Saturday morning all wearing matching hats that had the name of a popular band stitched onto the brims. Coincidentally, that band, whose name was monogrammed on those hats, had performed a concert the night before, just a short jaunt from where I was waiting tables. So I asked, “Hey, did you guys go to the concert last night?”

One of the gentlemen looked at me a little oddly, but smiled and said, “Uh, yeah.”

“How was it?”


Then I said, “Awesome! More coffee?” And I walked away singing off-key to the piped-in muzak.

Later on, one of the other waitresses said to me, “I am so excited, I am going to go ask for their autographs!”


“Don’t you know who that is over there?!”

“Well, I do now.” And I spent the rest of my shift hiding in the bathroom and trying to figure out how to kill myself with a toilet plunger.

The thing is, these moments where I have verbally shot myself in the foot, have made me a better person. For example, now when I say something stupid, I get over it faster, have learned how to deny it better, and have taken to taunting others who have a similar problem.

Case in point: My husband was browsing a friends Facebook profile on his laptop when he said, “Wow, she has a huge décolletage!”

I said, “What??? Whose cleavage are you looking at?”

He said, “What are you talking about?”

“You said she had huge cleavage!”

“No, she has a lot of pictures. Isn’t that what décolletage means?”

So I said, “Um, no. That would be a collage.”

“Oh. Well, I have been saying it wrong for a long time then.”

“How long?”

“Forty years.”

“They teach you what ‘collage’ means in kindergarten.”

“Not my kindergarten. And you wonder why I am the way I am.”


“What was that click? Was that your pen? Are you writing this down?!”


“Great, now I am constantly under surveillance. I suppose you have never misspoke?”

Then I said, with all the confidence of the seriously deluded that I could muster, “That would be misspoken, and nope.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm Not Perfect, But Let's Pretend

I wanted to be the perfect mother, so I did what any modern woman would do, I Googled it. You can learn anything from the internet. I found an article on the World Wide Web titled “How to be the Perfect mother.” You can view it here:

This particular article said anyone can become the perfect mother in only six steps and the article had a difficulty rating of “moderately easy.” I thought to myself, now this is the kind of information I need. Finally, someone has boiled it down to the simplest terms and now, even I, can be the perfect mother.

Step 1: Understand your child is unique. No book, article, parenting class or lecture will give you the exact answers for your child. Take in information, then adapt it to each of your children based on his or her personality.

“Mom, are you awake?”
“Your breath stinks.”

Step 2: Follow your instincts. You should know your child better than anyone else. Even mothers without the "mothering gene" have internal warnings and insights to their children that no one else has.

I was in the middle of cooking dinner so I asked my husband to help with the children. “Honey, can you go check on the kids. I told them to bring that pitching machine up to the back deck and it is taking them a long time. I think there is something wrong.”

A few minutes later . . .

“Well, I checked on them. The older one was carrying the machine and all of the balls while the little one kept hitting him over and over with a plastic bat. Is that what you were envisioning when you thought something had gone wrong?”

Step 3: Be your own kind of mom. Parenting the exact way another mother parents will not make you the perfect mother. Use your own talents and strengths to enrich your child's life and influence your family's activities and schedule.

At Easter I was purchasing eggs for the kids to color and hide in the yard. I always buy the organic eggs even though they are more expensive because I don’t want my kids pumped up with hormones from eating the eggs of steroid enhanced chickens. I was debating getting the low grade eggs for dying, since I knew that no one would be eating them and they were only for Easter activities. I stood at the egg section in the grocery store for 10 minutes trying to talk myself into the lower quality eggs but broke down and bought the expensive organic ones, ‘just in case’ one of the kids ate one hard-boiled egg while hunting for them in the yard. When I got home, unloaded the groceries and prepared the kitchen for egg coloring, I opened my package of 5 dozen organic eggs and knew right away that I should have gone for the hormone laced ones. All 5 dozen of the eggs I purchased were brown.

Step 4: Acknowledge that being a mother is trial and error. Admitting that something is or is not working is key in being a more perfect mother. Being able to identify what works, but especially what does not work allows you to make positive changes for you and your child.

I wanted my kids to learn to be responsible for themselves, and realize that they have a choice between right and wrong. I went on to talk about the fact that rules were not as important as our own internal code of morality. In the middle of my lecture my youngest son began telling me that he was going to sneak out of his room and get candy in the middle of the night and also telling me that I could not stop him. He went on to say that since “I wouldn’t know about it,” I could not punish him. I told him, “Even if I don’t know, your conscience would, and you would feel guilty because you know it would be wrong.” My oldest son then interjected with, “Mom, brother does not have a conscience.” The little one then followed it up with, “Oh, I have one. It is just that I don’t like to use it.”

Step 5: Treat this like a job. Parenting is not something that just happens. It is something that you will have to work at everyday. You have to want to do your best in this occupation to be successful and to see results.

So, I guess that means no driving the kids to school in my pajamas anymore.

Step 6: Know when to step back. Being the perfect mother does not mean that you do everything for you child. Allowing your children to grow and develop on their own will not only strengthen them as they age, but will also strengthen your relationship as mother and child.

“Mom can you carry me?”
“I can’t, you are too heavy.”
“Yes, you can. I know you can.”
“Honey, you are five years old, you can walk. Besides, we are almost back to the car.”
“I know you could carry me if you wanted to. What if there was a fire? Would you want me to burn up?! Wouldn’t you want to save me?!”
“Ok, yes, if there was a fire, then I would probably grab you and run.”
“Well, then just pretend there is a fire and pick me up!”

Based upon those 6 steps I came up with my own way of recognizing the difference between good mothers and bad mothers.

A good mother tells you that you cannot have a flamethrower for your birthday. A bad mother tells you she would have gotten you one--but they weren’t on sale.

A good mother takes you on outings and reminds you to be careful so that no one gets hurt. A bad mother barks, “Knock that off or you could get somebody killed.”

A good mother tells you to use your best manners and to be considerate of other people. A bad mother tells you that if you talk with a mouth full of food one more time she is going to force you to watch something that you don’t want to see, like the Lifetime movie marathon on a Saturday afternoon.

A good mother wants you to get into the best schools, win awards and be the most popular kid in school. A bad mother just wants you to survive childhood and not grow up to be a criminal.

Because of my own observations, and the article I read, guess which category I fell into (and which one I didn't)? My husband said I didn’t need six steps to be a “perfect mother” and he told me there is no such thing anyway (well, except for his mother, of course) and all anyone can do is their best. He must have been reading that article on “How to be the perfect Husband.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Purchase Necessary

I have been saving Sara Lee bread bags all summer. I only needed 5 UPC codes to send away for a free Toy Story light-up lunchbox (soft, full-sized zippered lunch tote--$14.00 value and includes shipping and handling fees—Collect the entire set!) for my soon-to-be 1st grader. Today was the day I decided to clear off the kitchen counter and see where to send my codes to redeem them for this “very special” offer.

So, I went to the website as instructed on the bags, which directed me to enter the 10-digit number from the UPC area which I did without a hiccup, I took a high school accounting class, I have mad 10-key skills. Anyway, after that, the website asked me to either register or login. What does that mean? I did not understand, but I decided that my odds were 50/50 that one of the choices would take me where I needed to go to get my prize, and since I have a “back” button, I picked register.

Then the computer asks me a series of personal questions (everything from my date of birth, to mother’s maiden name, and how I take my coffee in the morning) but I do not fret, because I am a woman of the new millennium, a Gen-X’er (or is it Gen-Y'er?)on a mission for a free-freakin’ lunch pail, so I give them all the data they ask for and press enter. The screen pops up with a message “This Login has been taken please try again.” Ok, my name must be really common, I will try a different user ID, i.e. name, that is not my own and pick something totally random, like: Apple pie. The computer screen says: Taken. So I try: Dutch apple pie. Taken. Pecan pie. Taken. Banana Cream Pie. Taken. Lemon Custard. Taken. Scotch. Taken. Scotch and Soda. Taken. Scotch and Soda with a Twist of Lime. Taken.

AAAAAh, I take a deep breath, bang my head on my keyboard a few times and then pour myself another cup of coffee and take 2 aspirin, crack my knuckles, and think to myself, maybe I have registered on this site before. I go back to the “Register or Login” section and pick Login. Then I click the button that says “Forgot Login ID,” because I have. I think. A new screen pops up and asks me to enter my email address. They, the evil torturing people who are running this website, send me my login info in an email, so now I have to go check my email. Sure enough, I have registered at this site before, because right before my eyes, in my email inbox is the Login ID (name) of a long-since-dead pet--a fire belly newt--named by my children: Goliath Scooby Doo.

Phew! Step 1 complete. That wasn’t so bad, 45 minutes or so, went by in a breeze. I wonder if I can suffocate myself with a bread bag? But alas, I have to continue my quest, I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, I mean it is a $14 value after all, so I go back to my screen, and search for the tab where I can enter my Login. No, not that one, not that one either, no not that one, a-ha I found it. Now I click “forgot password” and sure enough they, still the crazy psycho-paths running this site, will send it to me in an email. So I go check my email. Nothin. I reload my messages. Nothin. I put my coffee cup in the sink and stare longingly at my knife-block contemplating my own demise but snap back to reality when I hear my 6-year-old yell from across the house, “Mooooom, I need to poop!” I yell back, “Well, go then!”

Ok, back to this lunch tote thing. Check my email. Nothin. What in the heck? So I go back to the screen that said it would send it to me electronically and read the fine print. “Our system will usually send a response immediately, but please allow 24 hours for password to arrive in your inbox.” As I started to crawl under my desk to unplug my computer to chuck it out the window, the screen popped up with “You have 1 new messages.” Eureka, I am saved! I pick myself up and open my email and there it is: One password. I enter it in the proper screen and wait for it to tell me where to send my plastic bags to redeem my free gift.

Then the screen says the unthinkable: “Oops, we are out of stock. Please check back for future promotions from Sara Lee.” AAAAAAAGGGHHHH! I start cursing under my breath. I have lost over an hour of my life, one that I cannot get back. I am not a young person; an hour is a lot to a person my age. I am beside myself with grief. “Why? Why me?” I lament. How could I be so deceived by these devil-bread-maker-free-lunch-tote-offering-lunatics? Then in small print on the bottom of my screen, blurry from my tears, were the words I had been longing for: “Enter UPC Codes for a chance to win a family vacation for 4 to Pixar Animation Studios, have lunch and meet your favorite Toy Story 3 characters.”

Hope is not lost! I have 5 UPC codes! I may not have a lunch box, but wouldn’t a family vacation be better? So I click on it. I enter my information. Things are going smoothly. I am already registered. I know my password, I know my login, and I have my codes. Then I get to the final screen and it says: “I am sorry this contest is now closed.” The fine print says it ended yesterday, which is about the amount of time I spent trying to get my information entered on-line.

The moral of the story is, don’t eat bread, it is full of carbs and it will just raise your blood sugar, your blood pressure, and steal your soul, causing you to die. Trust me; I know what I am talking about.