Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Admit I'm a Bag Lady

I can’t leave my dog in my Prius and lock it. I discovered this when I ran into the post office and a couple of minutes later I heard a car alarm going off. It didn’t stop and I was cursing the idiot driver when I went out to the parking lot and saw my car lights flashing.

When I called the dealer about it, he said to bring it in, but apparently the alarm system goes off when the car is locked and something moves inside. I guess there’s a good reason for that, but I can’t figure out what. Suppose you want to leave your teenage daughter in the car because she refused to be seen in the grocery store with you, but you wanted her to be safe. She’d have to sit like a sphinx until you came back. Unfortunately, the repairperson didn’t know how to fix it.

For those of you who are tisk-tisking me for leaving my dog in the car in the first place, let me assure you that I am putting her in no danger. I’ve left her in the car with the motor running, unlocked, and the air conditioner on, when I just dash in to get something somewhere. You can’t tell the car is on - it’s so quiet with that hybrid electric motor.

When I have to go into a store for a while, I take the dog in with me. I made this black bag that I put her in. It looks like a worn out, tacky handbag. That dog has gone into restaurants, amusement parks, movies, bars, and other places I can’t think of right now.

She loves it in there. If I put the bag on the floor, she tries to climb in it – even if we’re not going anywhere. It’s got a wood bottom with a cushy pad so she just lies down and enjoys getting toted around. When I go to the bathroom I hang her on the door hook so the top won’t fold down on her.

She’s a smart little pooch, so we taught her to be quiet in the bag by saying, “No barking.” However, there were some glitches. Once when we first started using it, we were on vacation and found a church on Sunday morning. She was quiet as a, ahem, church mouse until we went to communion. We left her in the pew, and when we were walking down the aisle on the way to the altar, we heard her whimpering. The kids started poking me (as if I hadn’t heard!), and giggling into their hands. The whining got louder. I guess she thought we’d left her. We got communion and raced back to the pew, petting the outside of the bag to calm her down. After that no one left her alone while she was in the bag.

As I type this I realize that you may be thinking, “What kind of nut carries a dog around with them in a bag?” Well, I’m that kind of nut – l’ll admit I’ve always been a little crazy. But if you could see how pitiful that dog looks when you’re getting ready to go out the door and she doesn’t get to go, you’d be bagging her too.

Today I noticed the bag is getting pretty ratty. She’s poked a couple of holes in it, and the sun has faded some of the fine black mesh. It’s trashy, but I haven’t found a replacement and with this much ventilation that looks like a handbag and doesn’t show the dog in it. It helps that it’s black and so is she.

One problem is that I can’t take a purse with me, because the bag is supposed to be my purse. So I have to pack a credit card in my pocket for purchases. It looks pretty stupid, but I haven’t been caught yet. Knock on wood.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dipped Cones

I took a notion for a chocolate dipped ice cream cone tonight, so I went by the Dairy Queen. I told her I wanted just a little one. Last time I was there I think the clerk got distracted when she was filling the cone with soft ice cream. It came out looking like the leaning tower of Pisa. It was so tall, when I tried to take a bite the top of it hit the roof of my car.

When I ordered a little cone with not much ice cream, she didn’t understand. I could have explained to her that I really just wanted the chocolate shell around the ice cream, but it seemed more trouble than it was worth so I just repeated I only wanted a little cone.

“We have a child’s cone,” she said.

So I ordered that and when it got there, it was still too big. It was a normal adult sized, sensible cone. I forced myself to eat it all rather than litter up my car with sticky drippings.

Speaking of drippings, I love the way the ice cream melts under the chocolate shell and runs like little rivers out from underneath. On a hot day you’ll spend the whole time trying to dam up those flows with your tongue, turning the cone round and round to try and catch them all.

When I was a kid my brother talked the neighborhood kids into helping him distribute samples by offering to treat us to anything we wanted at Dairy Queen. He got a whole bunch of us together, which ended up being me, my friend Christine, and my friend Carol and her five brothers and sisters, plus his friend, Clark Reese. He got a job delivering answered an ad to deliver free samples of Palmolive liquid soap and a couple of other products. They had to be stuffed into a bag, so he got us in assembly lines, each person stuffing one item and passing the bag to the next person. It was pretty ingenious. We loaded up boxes of these things, and then he drove us around delivering them. I grabbed a handful of bags and ran up one side of the street, and my friend, Clark Reese, covered the other side.

When it was all done, all the helpers walked down to the Dairy Queen and got anything we wanted. Of course most of us ordered banana splits because those were luxury, deluxe, expensive treats that none of us ever got. I don’t know how much my brother made on the deal, but we were all pretty happy with our pay.

I wish I knew how they made those chocolate dipped cones, though. McDonald’s makes them too, and once I asked the person there for only a little ice cream. She said, “What?” as if to say, “Are you crazy? You gonna pay full price and not get a full cone?” I told her I just wanted the chocolate.

“Then I’ll give you your money’s worth,” she said. She dipped the cone several times until it had a real thick coating on it. It was so thick it stayed warm and was creamy and smooth in my mouth. What a feast. Nobody else has ever done it like that for me since.
Makes me think of that rhyme,

I scream

You scream

We all scream

For ice cream

‘Specially when they dip

Chocolate coating all over it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Survive a Bee Attack

Nothing scares me more than bees except the sound of a bee. Bees have a distinct sound like no other insect.

When I was a kid, I got into a yellow jacket’s nest – the jerks of the bee kingdom that can sting you over and over. Those things are viscous. Most bees sting you because you’re bothering them or whatever, but yellow jackets will attack you for no reason, just for their own entertainment. “Hey guys, watch me make this lady dance.”

When I hear one of those things I used to take off running. It didn’t matter what I’m doing. It was a conditioned response. I know what those bees are capable of, and I know they’re after me and they’re going to have their way with me.

For years I’ve pulled over my car and jumped out when a bee flew in the window. I’ve left my house and peered in the windows trying to see where the thing went. I’ve run into a closet and stayed in there for a long time until I think it’s safe to come out. Swatting at them seemed to make them mad. “Hey, bee-otch, you swinging at me? YOU SWINGING AT ME!!!!!! I don’t put up with that from nobody. You hear me, NOBODY.” And the bee starts diving in and out, trying to hit you in the back, then down by the legs where you can’t reach him. Meanwhile I’m running down the street with arms flailing like someone is peppering me with a b-b gun.

But I discovered a secret that I’m going to share with you now because it’s yellow jacket season and they are incredibly nasty during September. Here’s what you do. Grab a newspaper or some kind of weapon – something spread out. Pine boughs work great. Start hitting toward the bee until you make contact with him. I’m not talking about killing him, because I don’t like to kill stuff, but if you just make contact, he’ll fly away every time.

You see, these guys aren’t so tough when you stand up to them. Their strength lies in triggering your fear with their buzzing sound. Other insects fly around without making all that racket. Bees use it as a form of intimidation. The sound causes humans to freeze up in terror or run like hell. I know a lot of those car wrecks where the driver “lost control of the car” could be traced to a bee flying through the window. I’ve nearly wrecked a car that way on more than one occasion.

Trust me, you stand up to these guys and they’re going to tuck tail and run. But heaven help you if you start flailing around and don’t make contact, because the bee will circle around and attack you in the back. Make sure your weapon is wide enough so you can’t miss.

Of course if the whole family of bees attacks because you’ve stumbled onto their nest, you’re screwed. There are too many of them to swat at. Just run until your lungs give out and hope by then they’ve gotten bored of stinging you over and over.

Oh I have to recommend a movie I’m watching as I write. It’s called “Get Shorty.” This is a movie I’ve watched several times and never get tired of seeing. John Travolta and Rene Russo. Great movie. And no bees!

Friday, August 27, 2010

GPS Means Go Past Streets

I have a GPS system in my car, which stands for Go Past Streets, at least in my case. It’s very complicated. The little arrow isn’t pointing the right way. If I come to an intersection and, if the blue line indicating the route I should take is off to the right, I turn right. Then I see that the arrow is heading away from the blue line.

This is pretty confusing, and I spend a lot of time making U-turns. I didn’t understand it until today when I was giving someone a ride and he started showing me the features. “The arrow is the direction you’re going right now. See, it’s pointing north.”

“But it feels like I’m going south.”

“Nope, that’s north. See the airport in that green area?”

“Oooooh, I get it. So if it’s pointing north, and the blue line is turning east, then I have to make a left,” I said.

“Well, no you’d be going west then.”

“Oh, so which way is east?”

“It’s where the “3” would be on the clock if your GPS was a clock.”

“Oooooo, I can remember that. I’ll call it “threast!” I was excited after all these months that I could finally understand at least that part of the GPS.

When I first got the car, there was a lady in the dashboard who told me where to go all the time. “Turn right in 500 feet.” She jabbered constantly. I felt like I had a 7-year-old girl in there. “Whatcha doin? Do you want to watch me? Watch me do this? You aren’t watching. Watch me now.” She’d interrupt my favorite songs to tell me stuff even when I didn’t program in a destination. “Go home now?” and “You’re gas is getting low.” It was annoying but I was okay with it until she started getting personal. “Are you wearing THAT today?” and “You need to pluck that wild chin hair.” She took her job a little too seriously.

I had to go with my brother yesterday to drop off his car at a mechanic in Vancouver, a few miles away and neither of us knew how to get there. I told him I’d lead because I had the GPS. We got on the freeway and I guess I got a little ahead in all the traffic, so I was trying to watch my rearview mirror and watch for the exit, too. My GPS showed I was supposed to exit, but there were two ramps, and just as the one I was supposed to take appeared on the screen, the phone rang. To my dismay, the phone screen came on and the map disappeared. Which one should I take?”

It was my brother. “Where are you?” he said.

“I just exited, but I’m on a ramp and I don’t know whether to go right or left because I can’t see the map while I’m on the phone.”

“Oh,” he said. “Then I’ll hang up and call you back.”

I watched the screen anxiously but it stayed on the phone. I guess it wanted to make sure I knew how long I’d talked, to whom I was speaking, and – absolutely essential information – that I had disconnected the call. This last was so important that the disconnect screen stayed up way beyond the disconnect. I’m sure glad that pesky GPS didn’t rush back and interrupt my message that I had disconnected from my brother. This was information I NEEDED to know.

As usual I made the wrong choice because the blue line started twisting around like a pretzel. I had to make another U-turn. I could see that I would have to turn right soon because a little side-screen came up to alert me it was coming, but before I could see what street I was supposed to turn on and how far it would be, the phone rang again.

“Where are you?” my brother asked.

“I was about to find out just when you called.”

When he hung up, I made another u-turn and we both finally made it to the mechanic’s shop, though I don’t know how. I wish whoever made these things would know that I don’t need to have a screen showing the whole time I’m using my Bluetooth phone. Believe it or not, I know I knew who I was talking to – I didn’t need to read it on the screen during the whole conversation. Other than that, I love my GPS – even though it does make me Go Past Streets all the time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sweet Smelling Dogs

I had to give my dog a bath today. I say the word, “bath” and she tucks her tail and heads for the farthest away place in the house. I

Today she walked ahead of me all the way to the laundry room, tail tucked, head hung low, resigned to her fate, buying time with the little parade through the house.

I know why dogs hate baths. They know they’re going to smell good afterwards and this is offensive to them. They want to live up to the name, “foul beast.” They do not want to smell like a French house of ill repute.

The first chance my dog gets after a bath, she finds something extremely stinky to roll in. She digs in deep, feet straight in the air, thrashing from side to side as if she trying to make the smell go further than skin deep. When she gets done, she jumps up and shakes, completely satisfied that she again smells like a dog.

After the bath she runs through the house and rubs her nose and side against all the furniture like some cat on speed. She’ll bend her head down and plow her face along the carpet, switching sides. She’ll get wild and want to snap at our heels or throw a ball in the air. It’s all quite entertaining, although I feel so sorry for her during the bath.

Since she’s so small, I can wash her in a deep sink I have. All wet she looks like a black ferret with long legs. Dogs have a way of looking pitiful anyway, but she looks up at you with those dark brown eyes with the little white sliver moons and it breaks your heart. “Why are you doing this to me, momma? What did I do wrong? Didn’t you tell me I was the best dog in the world? Is this the thanks I get for always greeting you excitedly, even when you’ve just gone to the bathroom?”

Oh, I have a pitiful story to tell about this dog. She’s pretty smart so we have to spell things around her. After awhile she understands the spelled words, too. There are commands I use to tell her what to do, but also to explain what’s going on. She’s pretty good at picking up tricks, too. One thing I’ve been teaching her lately is to, “stay.” She sits for a little but will usually get up and follow me around the corner as soon as I go out of sight.

I have started working full-time (which I hope doesn’t rob me of my sense of humor), and I’ve been taking her to the office with me. She loves it. People coochie-coo her all day and give her scratches, and she can’t wait to go in the morning. Yesterday I had a commitment in the morning, so I didn’t go in the office. She had been following me around all through the house, worried I’d forget to take her with me, and I finally said to her in the living room, “I’m sorry, honey, but you’re going to have to stay here this morning.” She immediately sat down, all pitiful like, because that’s how I tell her she’s not going to get to go somewhere and she understands. Brilliant dog, that one. She quit following at my heels, and I told her I was sorry and rushed off to get dressed. I got my hair dried and came back into the living room about five minutes later and saw the poor thing still sitting there, as if to say, “See, momma, I’ll be good. I did exactly what you told me to do. Please take me with you.” She’d heard that one word in there, “stay” and was being obedient.

Now you’re probably thinking that I need to see a shrink about talking to my dog, and you’re right. But she understands what I’m saying. Furthermore, she doesn’t argue, talk back, put me down, complain, or ask me for money or my car keys. There’s no one else in the house that does that.

Now I have a nice, clean, sweet-smelling dog curled up at my feet, and life is good - as long as she doesn’t start passing gas. Ugh! Her SBD’s live up to their name. Ghastly! (get it, “gas” tley). Humph – my dog thinks it’s funny – she just told me so.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Being Yourself

When you were a teenager, did a grownup ever say to you, “Just be yourself?” To me this was exactly like them telling you to: “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

How in the name of all that is holy and precious would you find the right spelling of a word in a place that requires you to know how to spell it to find it in the first place? Grownups never had an answer for that, because they, like us, had never actually cracked a dictionary. Why couldn’t they at least give you a hint, like the first three letters, to get you started?

I could have used a hint about being myself as a teenager. When I was busy doing exactly what I wanted to do, like flipping someone with a rubber band, people got mad at me. That’s because I was so good at flipping rubber bands. I could hit someone in the chest with a resounding “smack” at 30 feet. It was a skill that I realized I could not practice on human targets. Same thing with hitting people with snowballs, especially when the snow went down their sweater. People don’t like these talents. So even though “myself” wanted badly to cream others with rubber bands and snowballs, I had to “deny” myself or risk getting a shovel full of snow in the face. Which actually happened to me this last winter.

Let me tell you about it. I’ve got this cranky neighbor who was shoveling snow one day as I was walking my dog up the street. I playfully threw a snowball at him from about eight feet away that hit him in the leg. He happened to have a shovelful of snow ready to sling to the wayside, and instead threw it at me as if to say, “I am the neighborhood jerk and don’t you forget it, so you’d better take your sissy little snowballs on down the road, missy.”

The snow hit me right in the face, and since I wasn’t expecting it and had my mouth open, it went down my throat and clogged my windpipe. I couldn’t breathe. It was actually quite frightening, but I got my throat unclogged eventually. Then I kept gulping in cold air, which caused a whole ton of new coughing. I have to admit I played this up a little once I realized I wasn’t going to die. It was a dirty trick to respond with a whole shovelful of snow to one measly snowball.

He felt terrible, which he should have, and later brought me a very nice bottle of red wine which I thought was penance enough – that and landing in this blog.

I see I have yet again gotten sidetracked from my original subject, which was about being yourself. I don’t think anyone should tell kids that. Tell them to be nice. If they don’t know what nice is, spell it out for them. “Don’t hit people in the chest with rubber bands, even if you are the best rubber band shooter in the whole wide west.” And “Don’t strangle people with snow.”

This makes way more sense than giving kids some vague words that mean absolutely nothing. If you want to know the truth, I still don’t know who myself is, but I know I like the parts of me that are kind and sweet and considerate, so I’m glad that “self” is starting to win out over the self that is ornery, mean, and spiteful. Sometimes.

And one final word. Thanks to my dear friend, Google, I never have to use a dictionary again. Not that I ever did much. A dictionary is like a First Aid kit. It’s good to have around but you never want to have to use it.

Working Means Lunch Breaks

Oh my gosh I am a working woman now. I’ve been working from home for years, but the last couple of days I’ve gone into the office and I have to admit, it ain’t so bad. Everyone is nice and it’s fun getting out of the house.

Today I had lunch at McDonald’s. Those fries were the best things I’d ever tasted, especially compared to the salads and leftovers I usually have at home. They had the perfect amount of salt. When you work from home, these little differences are a treat. I know if I did it everyday I’d be miserable, but I savored those fries and that fish sandwich today like it was a Henry the 8th spread.

Since I am dog tired, I’m going to filch some humor from emails. Silly, but not as silly as me continuing to type when my head keeps sinking toward the keyboard and I don’t even realize it until it bangs against the space bar and makes a noise.

If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea....does that mean that one out 
of five enjoys it? 

Why do croutons come in airtight packages? Aren't they just stale bread
 to begin with? 
 *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~If people from Poland are called Poles, then why aren't people from 
Holland called Holes? 

If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the 
others here for? *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would they call it Fed UP? ? 

What hair color do they put on the driver's licenses of bald men? 

I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons 
and forks, so I wondered what Chinese mothers use. Toothpicks? 

Why do they put pictures of criminals up in the Post Office? 
What are we supposed to do, write to them? Why don't they 
just put their pictures on the postage stamps so the mailmen 
can look for them while they deliver the mail? 

Can't eat Beef, Mad cow.... Can't eat chicken . bird flu 

Can't eat eggs .. Salmonella 

Can't eat pork .. fears that bird flu will infect piggies 

Can't eat fish ... heavy metals in the 
waters has poisoned their meat 

Can't eat fruits and veggies ... insecticides and herbicides 

Hmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!! M
 M M M M M

I believe that leaves Chocolate!!!!!!!! Chocolate is a Vegetable ** Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans. Bean = vegetable. ** Sugar is derived from either sugar cane or sugar BEETS. ** Both of them are plants, in the vegetable category. 
Thus, chocolate is a vegetable. ** **To go one step further, chocolate candy bars also contain milk, 
which is dairy. So candy bars are a health food. ** Chocolate-covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want. **

Remember - - -

"STRESSED" spelled backward is "DESSERTS"

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rodents and Shutter Island

I saw the movie Shutter Island late last night with my daughter and her friend. We didn’t get finished with it until almost midnight, and then I could NOT get to sleep. It was pretty creepy and made me think.

I don’t have anything against thinking, per se, I just don’t want to still be doing it at 3 a.m.

The thing is, I know better. If I’m seeing a haunting movie just before bedtime, with dark windows all around and low hanging tree branches scratching against the roof, and the kind of music that makes you feel like someone’s going to jump out of the bushes with a butcher knife, it is not a recipe for relaxation. I’m getting that tingling feeling up my spine right now just thinking about it.

This morning I went to church and then came home and watched the movie again, in the daylight, with my husband, so that I would plenty of time to think about it all day. I figured I would exhaust all my thinking and be able to sleep like a baby tonight.

Let me assure you that you are going to want to watch it twice. My husband got done with it and said, “I don’t know what’s going on – is it this or is it that?”

I’m not going to tell you what the “this” or “that” is, or it will spoil the movie for you. You’ll know what I mean when you get to the end. And if you watch it a second time, you’ll know whether it’s this or that.

Speaking of this or that, I love those KIA commercials with those rodents doing that rap song, “Now you can go with this, or you can go with that.” I think they’re very cool dancing rodents. I wish I could dance like that. I dance the same way I did back in high school. I definitely don’t know how to do those rodent moves or I’d be in the street like they are, singing that song and doin’ those moves.

People reading this must think I do nothing but watch TV and movies. I am not going to deny that the perfect down time for me is watching a mindless movie on TV and eating chocolate chips. I like ‘em one at a time so they can melt and extend the enjoyment. That way I don’t have to eat so many.

If this blog is rambling more than usual, it’s because I’m exhausted. It’s all that movie’s fault, and I am going to go to bed and dream of dancing rodents all night long and wake up feeling like I’ve got some moves, pointing at the dishes in the sink and saying, “Now you can go with this, or you can go with that,” as I point to the dishwasher. Then I’ll point to the oven and say, “Or you can go with this, or you can go with that,” as I point to the microwave. My daughter will roll her eyes at me and tell me to stop, but I don’t care. I know I’ll be cool. And rested. I’m going to hop in bed pronto so morning will come all that much quicker.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Dog Meets a Segue

I wrote a few days ago about my dog wee-weeing on me during a trip to the beach because she had a bladder infection. At least I think I did – I’ve told the story so many times maybe I just think I wrote it.

That’s the thing about telling stories – and listening to them, too. If you’re with someone else who has a good, newsy story to tell, you end up having to listen to it over and over every time you run into someone new. Gets old.

The person telling the story soon loses track of who they’ve seen and who they’ve told the story to. I try to avoid repeating stories to people by telling a line or two and then saying, “Have I told you this already?” That way the person can quickly get out of hearing it again. I am considerate in this way. Paradoxically, I can be a bee-otch in so many other ways. It’s a conundrum - I think (does anyone know what conundrum means?)

Some people don’t seem to care if you’ve heard the story a million times before. Once some of them get going with a story it’s like trying to stop a runaway train with a kitten. The train is going to plow straight through and the kitten isn’t going to have much to say about it.

But don’t worry, the kitten will be okay. It will hunker down and grab its little claws into the railroad tie and hang on until the entire train passes – all 2,000 cars. The kitten will walk away unscathed and hope it never ends up on THAT particular railroad track again. But it will, if it’s got an elderly relative who can’t hear well and calls to tell the same stories over and over and the kitten CANNOT get a word in edgewise. The kitten has even gone so far as to lay the phone down and taken a leisurely bubble bath and then come back and picked the phone back up to find that the story still isn’t over yet, and during the kitten’s intermission the elderly relative never noticed the kitten was even gone.

Some might say this is a naughty little kitten to lay the phone down, but I say “No harm, no foul,” in this particular case. Especially since the kitten tried more than once to derail the train and was completely ignored or not heard – the kitten couldn’t tell which.

DISCLAIMER: All kittens appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real kittens, living or dead, is purely coincidental. That goes for elderly relatives, too.

After you’ve told a story a few times it’s like reading a script (and when I say “you” I mean “me” but that would look stupid to say, “After me’ve told a story…”) Okay, okay, okay, I’m grasping at humor, here. Actually, that’s not true, I’m in a very playful, humorous mood right now and I find these little silliness’s quite entertaining. I’m also flicking my finger up and down over my lips and making “blub, blub, blub, blub, blub,” sounds that are annoying my dog. What fun!

Speaking of my dog, that’s what this whole story is about, so I’m glad I’ve come back full circle like a (“ah-hem”) dog chasing its tail. (I can segue with the best of ‘em.)

Speaking of segue…..just kidding.

Although I do love a seque but I always type it using a q. Then it gets underlined in red and I think, “Stupid MS Word doesn’t know that seque is a word yet.” I myself just discovered the word a year or two ago and had to Google it to see how it was spelled. That was fun. Segway. Segweigh. Cegway. Psegway. Google finally said, “Did you mean segue, moron?” And I said, “I don’t know, jerk head, because that doesn’t look anything like the way it should be spelled and you might be MAKING IT UP, you freaking anal crevice.”

Google did NOT like that, and we started wrestling in mouse-to-computer combat. I almost got the upper hand, (get it, my hand on the mouse, yuk, yuk, yuk), but my Mac stepped in and closed Safari and said we both had to go to our rooms for a time-out until we cooled off.

Now we’re all friends again. And besides, there wasn’t much to tell about the dog peeing on me that can’t wait until I see you again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Laundry Mat Memories

I’m at the laundry mat right now washing some quilts in those big huge machines. I love those things. They spin around and make these whirring sounds like some kind of cool carnival ride. If you put a plastic action figure in there, it will spin around like it’s being sucked into some vortex – you can see the blur of it through the glass door and imagine how dizzy the guy is getting.

I have some good memories of laundry mats – and some bad ones. The good ones involve being there, running around pushing each other in the wet-clothes rolling carts. We did laps around the washing machines in the middle, taking corners on two wheels, listening to the old folks complain about the “out-of-control kids these days.”

The bad memories involve getting to the laundry mat. For some reason my brother and I were given the responsibility of doing laundry. Like everyone else in our neighborhood, our family had one car, and my dad worked a couple of states away so he only came home about once a month, leaving us without a vehicle. Which was fine since the grocery store, school, church and everything else was within a couple of blocks.

But the laundry mat was about six blocks away, and we had to carry the laundry basket full of clothes – one of us on each side. It’s hard to imagine entrusting us to do the laundry - we just piled everything in the machines, bought those boxes of detergent, and let it rip. I guess colors didn’t run back then.

I kindof liked going to the laundry mat, but my brother was in middle school and it was NOT cool to be carrying a laundry basket piled high with clothes down the street, especially with your little sister. We’d wait until there were no clean clothes anywhere before we went, so the basket had clothes mounded about two feet above it, held in place by a sheet draped over it all and tucked into the sides. It looked like we were carrying a fresh grave.

In those days kids got to go anywhere, day or night. Maybe it was safe in our little East Tennessee town. People didn’t lock their doors, or their cars, and crime was unheard of. Perhaps it was going on in the big cities, but we didn’t hear about it. So my brother and I waited until after dark to make the trip.

We’d carry the basket between us and head down the street. Whenever we saw a car coming in the distance, we’d drop the basket on the sidewalk and fly behind a bush so we wouldn’t be seen. I am laughing as I type this because now I can see that basket from an adult driver’s perspective. What did people think when their headlights shown on a big laundry basket sitting on the sidewalk all by itself? Did they see us dive into the bushes and figure out what we were up to?

My brother was pretty popular in school. Girls called him all the time. His reputation would have been absolutely ruined if any of those cars contained people he knew who would rat him out the next day at school. But we were crafty, and it never happened. When it came time to cross the busy, four-lane street, we lurked in the shadows until it was clear both ways for a good distance, then we’d run like crazy across. Since I was younger, I didn’t run as fast, so the basket would get askew and sometimes tip over. Laundry gushed out onto the center of the street in a ragged trail. We scrambled to get it back into the basket. My brother would dart his head back and forth, not worried about getting run over – that might have been his choice under the circumstances – but worried he’d be seen in the street with his little sister and girly clothes.

Once the clothes were washed, we’d grab the sheets and fold them. We’d take the four corners and fold the sheet in half. Then we take a couple of giant steps toward each other like we were dancing at some fancy ball. We’d connect the corners, I’d pick up the corners at the fold, and we’d step apart, then move back together with the same flouncing steps. It was just silly foolishness to entertain ourselves, and we giggled like idiots. People must have thought we were nuts. Funny how we were so worried about what they thought on the dark street, but we didn’t care a bit what the crowd of people in the laundry mat were thinking.

We loaded up those folded clothes and started the trek back home. Usually there was less traffic, but we’d still have to abandon the basket and take cover several times. I wonder why no one ever stopped to see why a laundry basket full of folded clothes was sitting there. I think if I had been an adult driving, I’d want to investigate. But those were innocent times. Maybe they thought that basket had a darn good reason being there and it was none of their business why. No thugs or gangs or opportunists were cruising around looking to steal people’s clothes.

Somehow we managed to do this chore week after week completely on the sly. We finally got a washing machine and our laundry mat days were over, which didn’t upset either of us one bit.

I see that my blankets have finished spinning in those giant dryers – they look just like the ones we climbed in when we were little. The laundry mat back then was full of people. You had to wait sometimes to get a washer, especially on weekends. We preferred weeknights – less traffic. Since I’ve been here for over an hour, I’ve only seen three people. I’m surprised there are that many - it’s hard to imagine houses and apartments without washers.

So thus ends my walk down memory lane. If you ever see a laundry basket beside the road full of clothes, you’ll probably find some kids in the bushes close by.

The Photographer's Plight

I get asked to take pictures at events and of groups because people know I have a decent camera and have sold some photo art. I always say yes, but it is not a particularly fun job, and I know you. You’re dying to know why.

So I’ll tell you. Even though people want pictures to remember events, they don’t want their picture taken. When you hold a camera up to your face and start to take someone’s picture, half of them try to duck behind someone else like a child hiding behind its’ mother’s skirt. The elderly, obese, and even crippled will take off running like they’re on the starting line for the 50-yard dash when they see me raise my camera. They will risk broken hips and worse rather than allowing me to take a picture of them.

On the other hand, there are people who have obviously had their pictures taken often who know how to strike a perfect pose. They know which side of their face photographs well, where to put their hands, how to angle their feet, and whether looking slightly down will make their eyes look bigger. These people can sense a camera from across the room and be laughing naturally in every candid shot. The camera “loves” these people. That’s because they don’t treat the cameraperson like s/he’s got the plague.

I try to get everyone in at least one picture, which is hard when they only show me their backsides, or they’re hiding behind bushes. So I have to take “candid” shots. These are a CURSE. The general public is UGLY in a candid shot. The general public is stuffing an entire sausage link in their mouth just as the camera clicks the shot. They are also holding up their arm in such a way that the cottage cheesy divots are accentuated. They are “candidly” looking spiteful at the person beside them, like they intend to stab them after the luncheon. Some of them are even scratching that itch that can’t be scratched in public.

When they catch you taking a candid shot, some people scowl at you. Perhaps they don’t take good pictures and they feel they can compensate by contorting their features, as if saying, “I always turn out ugly in a picture, but if I look like I’m being ugly on purpose, no one will notice that I really am ugly.” Although this makes some kind of sense, it does not help the job of the poor photographer who simply wants to impress people with her talent for making even the hideous among us attractive. We can do this in many cases, thanks to the magic of Photoshop.

Photoshop is the photographer’s best friend. It allows us to turn everyday images into art. For instance, if you hire an artist to paint your portrait, and he includes your double chins, pimples, the wart on your jawbone that has a six-inch wiry hair growing out of it, the gunk in the corner of your eye, and so forth, you’d likely smash the canvas over his head before you smacked him with a dining room chair. He is going to downplay your imperfections if he wants to come out of there alive and with a check in his hand.

A skilled photographer can also “paint” people in a more positive light. For the rest of us, we use Photoshop to make our subjects look their best. I had one guy tell me that the headshot I took of him was the first time he had a decent picture of him in his whole life. Little did he know that I spent about two hours taking him from a Frankenstein into a less-than-a-Frankenstein. It’s amazing how the illusion of having a full set of teeth can improve someone’s looks. Not that he was toothless, but many individual teeth were so tobacco-stained they blended right into his skin, giving people the impression that he came from Mississippi. There were other things that I won’t go into, such as dents and pocks that, once smoothed and blended, made his squinty eyes more becoming.

So here’s what you, the general public, need to do when approached by someone like myself who is simply trying to capture you in the best light. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A MIRROR. RIGHT NOW. No, not later. NOW! And when I come at you with my camera, you can say, “Oh, Suzanne, I’m so HAPPY to see you are here taking my picture.” And hurry up and swallow that sausage.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jonathan Does Rodney

My nephew is here, returning from Alaska where he was working as an entertainer on a cruise ship. He’s learned all kinds of new things, like how to be a ventriloquist. We did not ask him to teach us, although I could tell he really wanted to, because it’s not very funny when there’s no dummy.

Then he started doing Rodney Dangerfield jokes, and he was pretty good. He was grabbing his collar, talking about getting no respect. He was so good, in fact, that I’m going to get some of Rodney’s jokes and post them here. It will serve two purposes. One, it will make you laugh, and two, it will give me extra time to hang out with him, my niece, and my great niece since they are all driving back to California tomorrow at the crack o’ dawn.

Enjoy these.

A girl phoned me the other day and said... Come on over, there's nobody home. I went over. Nobody was home.

I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand.

I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it.

I found there was only one way to look thin, hang out with fat people.

I get no respect. The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest.

I had plenty of pimples as a kid. One day I fell asleep in the library. When I woke up, a blind man was reading my face.

I have good-looking kids. Thank goodness my wife cheats on me.

I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her.

I looked up my family tree and found out I was the sap.

I looked up my family tree and found three dogs using it.

I met the surgeon general - he offered me a cigarette.

I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

I saved a girl from being attacked last night. I controlled myself.

I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet.

I was so ugly my mother used to feed me with a sling shot.

I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.

It's tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won't drink from my glass.

Life is just a bowl of pits.

I have to agree with him on this last one, but when you can see the humor in that bowl, and you can laugh at it, then live can come up roses in spite of the thorns. Or something like that.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Surf Wars

My daughter brought two goldfish home from a school giveaway (thanks a ton,, whoever’s brilliant idea that was). One of them has turned into a bully.

The sad part is, I had a goldfish that was several years old and looking like he might not make it much longer when these two new ones arrived. I was SO looking forward to no more tank cleaning, fish feeding, filter buying and dirty fish water siphoning.

Sure enough, Golder died just a few weeks later and I could have been FISH FREE. But no. Because some nitwit decides to give away goldfish as a prize, I got two brand new babies to take his place.

Some of you are probably saying, “What’s the big deal? Make the kids take care of the fish.” That would be fine if I wanted a fish tank that you couldn’t even see the fish in. Around this house, the new wears off real quick. The kids “forget” to feed, water, or clean up after their pets. I do it because I feel sorry for the poor innocent things that are at our complete mercy and will die a horrible death of neglect without me.

I’ve been caring for these two additions for over five years, and I’ve noticed in the last few months that one fish is a total bully. He’s twice as big as the other one, but I just thought he had a hearty appetite. I usually sprinkle the food in and walk away, but I decided to watch them for a few minutes. That big goldfish would open his mouth big enough that a whole pea would fit in there and suck in a big flake. While he was “chewing” it, he swam around tormenting the other fish. Then he would stop and suck in another flake, and then chase the other fish some more.

“You’re a jerk,” I said to the bully. He looked me straight in the eye and spit out the a big, fat flake. If we had been in the old west, we would have squared off in the middle of the street with our fingers twitching over our pistols.

We stared at each other until I finally looked away. He grabbed a new flake and chewed it like a plug of tobacco while he chased the smaller fish around. These two have names but I can’t remember them. Let’s call the big one A-hole and the little one Sweetie Pie. A-hole came over and started snapping at me. That’s what he does when he wants more food. He goes up to the surface and smacks at the water. It makes enough noise to get you to look. When you do, he starts swimming frantically around and doing these aggressive wiggles back and forth toward the glass. It’s very intimidating. You can practically hear him shouting, “Get me some food, bee-otch, or this water won’t be the only thing I’m smackin’!”

But something inside of me snapped when I saw him tormenting poor little Sweetie Pie again. I was fit to be tied. Mad as a hornet. Sittin’ nails. Trouble was, what was I gonna do about it? How could I bully a bully fish?

I decided I needed to show him what it was like to be pushed around. I put my hand in the water and chased HIM. He didn’t like it, not one single bit. Bullies are always such sissies. He swam out of my way, darted here and there trying to execute evasive fish maneuvers between the swim-through rock and the two plastic plants in the 10-gallon tank. I chased him around a little more until I thought he’d learned his lesson. He seemed pretty humbled, but a few minutes later he was nosing into Sweetie Pie. So I chased him again. The third time was the charm. He put two and two together and came up aces. After that he kept his distance.

I wish I could say this story has a happy ending, but alas it didn’t take A-hole long to go back to his old tricks. I chased him once more, and he behaved for a little while, but then he went back to being a bully.

You’re probably thinking, “Why not just flush him?” Oh, I couldn’t do that! But I don’t let him intimidate me anymore. He may push that other fish around, but he’s not going to get away with doing that to me. No sir. When he smacks that water, I don’t come running anymore. Not as fast, anyway.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hippie vs. Hipster

We went to the Hawthorne Street fair today. To those of you unfamiliar with Portland, this is an area on the east side where old hippies went to raise their children, and now the children are sporting tats, piercings, pink pony tails, and purple hats.

The thing we noticed the most were the tattoos, and I still don’t get it. I know I’ve written about this before, but today I saw people nearly covered – both arms, legs, necks – everywhere that was showing and Lord only knows what was underneath their clothes.

I thought as I was looking at the parade of tattooed youth, “Doesn’t that hurt?” When I got home, I asked Google for the answer. “Artists create tattoos by injecting ink into a person's skin. To do this, they use an electrically powered tattoo machine that resembles (and sounds like) a dental drill. The machine moves a solid needle up and down to puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The needle penetrates the skin by about a millimeter and deposits a drop of insoluble ink into the skin with each puncture.” (health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-lifestyle/tattoo.htm)

To me that sounds more painful than I had imagined. The thought of a dentist-sounding drill made me flinch, much else the pulsating needle.

I can understand the traditional “drunken sailor” doing this. Alcohol kills the pain, and they generally only got one tattoo. That probably sobered them up pretty quick. I can also understand gangsters, thugs, and gang members. They have something to prove to their peers.

What I can’t understand is people using them for a fashion statement – girls especially.

My friend said, “I must be getting old because I have absolutely no desire to get a tat.”

“You’re not old if you call them “tats,” I said.

“I feel pretty old. I remember when we first invented tie-dye, and look – it’s everywhere again.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” I said. “You know you’re getting older when the cool stuff skips a generation and comes back in style.”

Of course this generation looks nothing like we looked in our tie-dye shirts. We were thin, with long, straight, shiny, natural-colored hair. Today I saw the equivalent of tie-dye hair that looked like someone had taken a dull knife to it and then dried it with a blast furnace. There were whole chunks missing off of people’s heads, surrounded by ragged, shaggy, lifeless, crispy hair.

Where we were tanned, healthy, acne-free because we were into nature, hiking, eating healthy fruits and vegetables, and treating our bodies like they were our best friends, many of the people I saw today look liked they’d crawled out from under a rock, and their bodies were their worst enemies. Pierce it! Stab it with needles! Yank the hair out! Pour on harsh chemicals! Remove the color and replace it with clown color! Whack it! Put a big round orb in your earlobe and stretch it three inches! Pad the body with fat! Pierce that tongue so you can’t talk!

Well, I guess I’ve made my point. This generation may be young, but some of the stuff about them doesn’t seem very bright. Except their poor skin and hair, that is. I'd rather be a hippie than a hipster any day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dreaming of You

Every day people talk about the sleep they got or didn’t get. “I couldn’t sleep at all last night.” “I tossed and turned.” “I had such bad dreams.” “I had this great dream about (insert person’s name).”

I remember having dreams about actors and they seemed so real. I’d meet Brad Pitt at a party and he’d find me fascinating. We’d end up going on a walk, holding hands, talking about our future together, maybe even kissing an electrifying kiss, and then I’d wake up and discover the dog licking my face. Talk about a rude awakening.

People who don’t get enough sleep get cranky, but so do the ones who get too much. Waking up before you’re supposed to is a problem because you have to decide if you’re going to go back to sleep or get up and start your day. In my experience, going back to sleep means I’m going to have really weird dreams. They’re always bad - being chased by cannibals and my legs turn to rubber. Or I’m trapped in an elevator and it starts free-falling. Those dreams seem so real that when I wake up, I look around to see if a cannibal is gnawing on my foot.

I’ve noticed when I sleep about six hours I don’t really seem to dream that much, either that or my dreams have become like real life and I’m forgetting them like everything else. Actually, I have always forgotten everything. I forget the list I wrote everything down on so I wouldn’t forget. I’ve always forgotten where I put my shoes, keys, purse, the book I’m reading, the electric bill that’s overdue, my cell phone. How many times have I had to call my cell phone to locate it?

As people get older the world blames memory loss on age, but how do you explain my kids running around, “Mo-om, where are my shoes?” The answer I always gave them was, “When I wear your shoes I always put them in the shoe closet.” They look there, as if I’d actually been wearing their shoes. Of course that’s the last place they’ would put their own shoes.. “Mo-om, they’re not in there - where else did you put them?”

Kids lose backpacks and homework, they leave their lunches at home, and forget their permission slips that are right beside their backpacks. But no one whispers, “Alzheimer’s” when they do it.

They also change the subject every second of the day, which is exactly what I have done here. Hey, STOP whispering, “ADD.”

Back to my dreams. I’ve had some really good ones and tried my best to stay asleep until the happy ending (wink wink). If I wake up, I can’t go back to sleep or even remember the dream. Very frustrating.

All this talk about dreaming makes me realize that I forgot to pay my bill to my web server – Dreamhost. After I get that done, I think I’ll take a little nap.

Hey Brad, I’ll be there in a few minutes. Wait for me!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fear of Being Afraid

It took a lot of guts for me to get up on stage last night. I am the bravest coward I know. Once in high school a friend wrote a report and described a person who was afraid of everything. Someone else in the class recognized that she was talking about me. I wasn’t afraid to bitch slap the friend who gave the report, I’ll tell you that.

But seriously, do I use the words “bitch slap” too often? I actually look for places I can insert those words. Like above – I did not bitch slap my friend. I just never spoke to her again. Same thing, but doesn’t sound as funny as bitch slap, in my mind.

So I am afraid of everything. I’m especially afraid I’ve blogged about this topic before, because every time I do something I can’t believe I had enough nerve to do, I want to tell everyone about it. Maybe I want to prove that even though I’m timid and shy and a scaredy-cat, I’m also one brave mother and you better not mess with me.

I wonder if all brave people are cowards inside? If they all feel like they have to prove something to themselves or to others? While I was waiting to go onstage last night all I wanted to do was run. I was terrified. I read that many actors and comics are terrified every time they go onstage – even after years of experience. This was no consolation to me as I was swabbing sweat off my face and hearing the tinkle of the ice cubes every time I held my glass of diet soda.

A lot of people find bravery in alcohol. Not me. If I have to be “on” - like when I’m in an airplane waiting for it to nosedive, I want all my facilities intact so I can push people out of the way and get to the exit. Ha! - as if that would do me any good. Last night I knew I was going to have enough trouble remembering my comedy set once I got onstage, I did NOT want my brain any softer around the edges.

I have done some things my friends can’t believe. Like climbing to the top of Mt. Hood, which was dangerous as all get out, relatively speaking, but maybe they can’t believe that because of the shape I’m in. I like to ski really fast (if, and only if, the slope is perfectly groomed and not too steep). People think that’s dangerous, but it’s more dangerous having a snowboarder hit you from behind. I’m just doing the easier of two fears.

I have been in scary situations that people think I’m making up, but usually it’s because I have no other choice and not from any bravery on my part. Even when I’m doing something brave, my hands are shaking, my voice is shaking - if it shows up at all, and I’ve got “Sissy Girl” written all over me in my body language – fidgeting, crossed arms, shaking leg, slouching – I’ve got ‘em all. When I don’t, it’s because I remembered reading that these were signs of fear and I try to counteract them. Here’s a site that has some signs of fear if you are nodding your head right now and thinking, “hmmm, I do that stuff all the time…” www.ehow.com/how_2383301_read-fear-body-language.html

My biggest fear, however, is that fear itself will cause me to not do something. Like going onstage. I sat there trying to reason with myself that it was stupid to do it, etc. etc. etc. but in the end I knew I had nothing to lose except pride, reputation, a few years of my life from a heart attack, and my mind. Down at the heart of it, though, fear alone was the only reason for me not to go onstage.

I battle that day and night – whether people will like me at a party (they seem to, but I’m ALWAYS afraid they won’t), whether people will read this blog (I have a bunch of site members, but there’s a constant fear that I may lose my sense of humor like it’s going to fall out of a hole in my pocket), whether I will trip going onstage, say something stupid, hurt someone’s feelings, forget an appointment, do something embarrassing – you name it, I’m afraid of it.

But I keep saying to myself, “Just keep on doing it. Just show up. Just try. Just do damage control if you have to.” And sometimes I say, “Just shut the F up,” when my fears are on the verge of derailing me from doing what I want to do.

Right now, for instance, I’m afraid it’s not okay for me to reveal my fears in public. But you know what I’ve got to say to that? Screw it. I’ve got a fricking blog to write and I’ve got to post something and this is already written, for crying out loud. I’m doin’ it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My First Stand-Up

I went to an open mike last night to do stand-up comedy with my brother and my niece who’s visiting from LA. Whew, that was crazy. I’d never done stand-up before and I was an absolute wreck.

We signed in and I was fourth on the list - I wanted to go first of us three and get it over with. You can’t imagine what it’s like when the lights go down and you’re watching the first guy and he’s pretty good. The audience wants to laugh. Second guy’s good, too. The emcee is introducing them like they’ve been there and at other clubs before. Third guy’s good. Crap! I was sweating bullets because it was my turn. But the emcee called someone else, then the 5th, 6th, 7th person go and still I don’t hear my name.

It’s like waiting in a big group of fourth graders to be called to be on a kickball team. Your really nervous but really excited, and then the team captains start calling names, and the crowd around you gets smaller and smaller until finally it’s just you standing there and the captain reluctantly calls your name because he thinks you’re no good.

It wasn’t exactly like that because everyone was still in the room, but the initial excitement and fear turned into “hey, what’s going on here.” Then it dawns on me that they assume I have no talent since they don’t recognize my name, so they’re putting me at the end.

The bad comics started to go on, and we had to painfully sit through their struggling routines. We were just on the point of leaving when they called my name.

I had done some rehearsing and memorizing, but when I got up on stage and squinted into the bright lights and saw those 40 or 50 people out there, I was a buffalo in the headlights. My eyes were as big as platters. I grabbed the mike and started talking, and remembered my first joke – AND GOT A LAUGH! Pretty cool. Then I got ANOTHER LAUGH!

Then I forgot the next three jokes. I’m searching my brain and it’s laughing because I think it liked seeing me wandering around on stage without anything to say. Luckily I had a joke to insert in case that happened. “I saw a lot of you with notebooks and writing your joke list on your hands last time I was in here, so I wanted to be a little more discreet. I decided to write them on my chest and then I could just glance down. I flopped these things up on the counter and wrote everything down, but I just went to check what I wrote and I was sagging so much the “O’s” were about six inches long.”

The crowd thought this was hilarious. I was doing hand motions and looking down my shirt. One guy yelled out, “I’ll read it for you,” which got some more laughs.

Then I started on a part about soap in the shower, and I needed to put the mike back on the stand. When I did that for some reason the lights were shining right in my eyes. So I moved the mike stand over, and still the bright lights. “You can’t get away from these lights up here,” I said, and got ANOTHER laugh! Then they turned the lights off and I said, “Perfect” or something, and got another laugh.

But, ah my friend, the laughs were sparse from there on out, because I told a long story that I thought was sensationally amusing, but I think there should have been more jokes and less long drawn out story. You can do that in a 20 minute speech, but we only had five minutes, and the crowd was not interested in the long setup. Still the audience laughed at the end and gave me very warm applause.

My brother got up and told three jokes that I’ve heard a million times but the crowd had not. He’s a professional speaker (www.renewableenergyspeakers.com) who speaks about solar energy, global warming and the environment, so he’s very comfortable in front of an audience. His jokes were very well received, and he ad libbed in between. He got hearty applause and some whistles.

My niece got up and talked about the craziness in LA. She’s pretty good looking so the mostly male audience was eating up every word she said. She graduated from USC in film and acting, and is naturally very funny and knows how to work a crowd, and they were delighted.

We left after the next comic, who was painfully awful. On the car ride home all of us were so excited. We critiqued each other and talked about the lights and how we were surely in the top 10% of the entertainers. My brother said, “Let’s all do that again next week.” I’m not so sure about it – I’d have to write new material, but what the heck, I’m game.

I have to tell one last funny story. There was a woman who got up and her fly was open. She was heavy and not very pretty, so her act was about not getting anyone sex because no one would sleep with her. The jokes were okay but not great because she kept saying the same things. She finally said, “I hope I will get lucky tonight.” My niece yelled out, “Your halfway there – your fly’s open.” That brought down the house – and the comedian made the most of it. All in all a great first standup experience.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Douse of Reality

My dog was drinking a lot of water and the vet suspected an infection in her female parts so she asked me to get a urine sample. I’m carrying this Tupperware container around the backyard, stooped over following this little dog around because she’s less than a foot tall, saying, “Go potty, go potty.”

She ignored me, too busy checking out the rib bones scattered all over the backyard. It looks like a cannibal picnic ground. When my husband has ribs, he gives the bones to the dog – it cleans her teeth and makes her like him a lot more. Everyone in this family is always trying to get the dog to hang out with them, but she likes me best. I’m her momma.

Finally she squatted and I pushed the container between her legs and managed to get a few drops. We left the sample at the vet on the way to the beach, where we were going to celebrate her birthday. This has been a tradition – the dog always gets to go to the beach around her birthday. We also have cake and ice cream. We like our pets in this house.

On the way to the beach, which is about an hour and a half drive, we kept giving her lots of water because that’s what Google said to do for a bladder infection. We were almost there when I felt something warm in my lap – the same lap the dog was sitting on.

Two gallons of doggie pee gushed out of that beast and ran between my legs before I had the chance to gasp and grab a towel. Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you what an awful feeling it was. It happened in slow motion – the warm feeling, the curious response (hmmm, wonder why the dog got warm all of a sudden….?), the sensation of warm liquid betwixt my legs, the horror when I realized that the dog had peed on me.

The worst of it was that I didn’t have a change of clothes, nor did I have another driver’s seat to replace the one soaking up all that pee. I was sitting in a pee puddle, as it were.

I had to traipse up and down the streets of Seaside with a huge wet stain between my legs – I couldn’t find anything in the stores except sweatpants that said, “SEASIDE” on the ass, and I wasn’t going to spend good money on something I’d only wear once, even if people were pointing and laughing.

It took me most of the day at the beach to find replacement clothes and clean myself and the car. I wonder if I should even be writing about this. It’s pretty disgusting all things considered. The only consolation is that the dog drank so much water that it was probably mostly just water.

We stopped a whole bunch of times on the way home. The dog got tired of getting in and out of the car. Nobody else wanted her on their lap.

I learned a lesson from the whole thing. I wish I could remember it. I guess it’s just that whenever you feel like life is getting you down or things aren’t going well, just think about me getting peed on in my car and maybe that will cheer you up. The reality is that life sometimes throws pee on your crotch, but I want you to know that you’re not alone, sweetie. You’re not alone.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Exciting Life

So much has been going on it’s hard to know what to write about. I am going to have to do this in little bullets to touch on everything.

First, there is a mosquito buzzing around my head. I have swatted him two or three times but he is persistent. He has a do or die attitude.

Second, my stomach is rumbling so loud it’s like an earthquake has set off a tsunami in there. I went to our neighborhood picnic yesterday and, as usual, I sampled everything – twice – and since there was so much food, I think I MAY have over-indulged. The next day after a buffet I’m always starving because I stretch my stomach from the size of a thing the size of a stomach – grapefruit? cantaloupe? – to the size of a hot air balloon. My stomach “thinks” it’s hungry even though it received enough food yesterday to get me through the winter.

I am going to have to stop eating like this. MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee – the mosquito just buzzed my head again.

Third, before the gorge fest, I saw South Pacific, the Broadway Across America revival of the original 1949 play, at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. What a fantastic show. See it if you get the chance. Crazy how something over a half a century old is still so funny and so timely today. It won ten Tony Awards back in the day, and 7 in this revival. It won my own personal award for best bang for the buck, too.

Fourth, I went to church yesterday and there was a little girl there with either her grandfather or older father, or older uncle or circus ringmaster or perfect stranger, there really is no way of knowing WHO he was, but let’s assume, for the purposes of this story, that he was a husband – a very thin, pale man about 7 feet tall with sparse hair, thin lips, and a light tan shirt and pants. He looked like an anemic deliveryman from a horror movie, except kindly. Whoever he was, he doted on the child, letting her dance in the aisle. She was between 2 or 3 in a little flowery sundress that flowed out while she twirled. I kept wondering how far she would go – knowing that when you give a child an inch she’s gonna take a mile. Soon she was up to the space between the pews and the altar. He had followed her up there, squatting on his heels at intervals, I guess so he wouldn’t block anyone’s view of her. I can’t squat like that. He was all the way down with his rear end resting on his heels. I could get down that far, but I’d topple over backwards and lay there like a squirming beetle until two stout men hoisted me on my feet.

MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee (frickin mosquito)

Of course this little girl kept moving further away and then coming back to make sure it was okay, or for safety, like a duckling swimming out, then in, then further out, then in, then further out still until a big mouth bass jumped up and snatched it underwater. Sorry, my imagination just goes where it will – I give it an inch and you see what happens.

All the while he squatted. Finally she was in front of the priest as he was delivering the sermon, twirling like a ballerina until the microphone cord wrapped him up like a cocoon. Oh wait, it was the child who was twirling, not the priest. It’s hard to keep up with all these pronouns sprinkled everywhere like the sprinkles we put on my dog’s birthday cake.

I glanced at the people in the congregation, and everyone was watching the child with grumpy looks on their faces. No one was amused. We’ve all seen twirling children before. We wanted somersaults and cartwheels. Twirling children are a dime a dozen in a Catholic church.

Finally, the man arose like his legs were springs and scooped up the little girl and took her completely out of the church. I found this interesting, because she wasn’t protesting. Why not just stay there, standing with her or sitting, taking in the service? And then it occurred to me that he didn’t WANT to be there, and was probably being forced by his wife, so he hatched a diabolical scheme to embarrass her to death by squatting in the aisle like a giant albino peasant while the child distracted everyone, including the priest who was too polite to say anything, so that he could have an excuse to leave. The man, not the priest. Try to keep up.

Anyway, he never came back into the church, so I think my theory is right on target, that he was a husband above everything else.

Oh my gosh, I just got a rumbly in my tumbly that is a 7.9 on the Richter scale. On top of that, my husband kept giving the dog ribs he barbecued for the neighborhood picnic, and she’s sitting beside me passing gas that’s making my eyes water. I’m being dive-bombed, asphyxiated, and tsunamied here. My stories are going to have to wait until things settle down. Aughhh - I can’t BREATHE!


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Good Agent

So I’m doing two posts today to make up for not writing yesterday due to a glass of pinot noir and a lemon drop – a lethal combination.

I was talking in the previous blog about going to the Willamette Writer’s conference, and I wanted to mention a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL agent named Adam Korn who may be looking at this blog as we speak. A WONDERFUL person. Extraordinarily handsome, too.

Adam, who has an incredibly AWESOME smile listened to my pitch about a science fiction book I wrote about aliens coming to earth and… Wait, you might not know what a pitch is, so I’ll tell you. A pitch is ten minutes you pay twenty-five bucks at a writer’s conference for so that you can try to “sell” or “pitch” you story idea to an agent, publisher, and/or filmmaker who might be interested in your work enough to offer you a multi-million dollar contract that will make you rich and famous.

Did I mention that Adam Korn is the NICEST human being I’ve ever met in my ENTIRE life?

A pitch is like a job interview and the job is doing what you love to do that someone is offering to give you money to do if you have something they think will make them money. You have to make your story sound so intriguing that the agent (et al) wants to read it. If s/he, indeed, finds your writing to be extraordinary, s/he will take you on as a client and then s/he will pitch your work to publishers and Hollywood magnets who like to hang around refrigerators and make movies and give you wheelbarrows full of money so you can quit your day job of being a lawyer and start making REAL money, like John Grisham did.

Landing an agent is tough work. Not only do they have to see marketable potential in your work – so it has to be good - they also have to judge whether you’re in it for the long haul. They don’t want a one-trick wonder who only does one book that takes ten years to write. They want a new book every year for ten years minimum. Let me say this right now. My family has a history of very, very long-lived people. At the rate of ten books every ten years, I could write 100 books, no sweat.

Speaking of speaking, there was this fantastic speaker for lunch named Robert Dugoni who is a best selling author who used to be a lawyer and who is now the new John Grisham. He is living the aforementioned dream, and he’s cute, too. Half-Italian, and anyone who’s been to Italy knows what I’m talking about.

He told this great little story about how we writers get beat down and rejected all the time, and getting published must seem insurmountable. He compared the prospect of getting published to what the giant doors to Mordor probably looked like to Aragorn, (Lord of the Rings), but if we just swing the bat then one of these days we’ll get a hit, but we’ll never get a hit unless we swing the bat. It was an inspiring speech that my sentence above does not give fair due since I’ve taken two analogies and morphed them into a mess, but if you ever get a chance to hear him talk, be sure to go. Here’s his website: www.robertdugoni.com/

One thing he inspired me to do was develop my craft of writing more, and the other agent who didn’t know who (double gasp) Dave Barry was either, told me I need “millions” of followers on my blog to convert this to a book - he inspired me to commit suicide. Ha, ha, just kidding. Writer’s joke. He inspired me to look up everyone I’ve ever known in my existence and tell them about my blog which I have not done. All my site members are people I’ve never met except for Gina, who figured out for me how all you guys are finding my site, especially from France and England. I guess you just click on the RSS feed at the bottom of my gentlehumor.com blog, according to Gina. Par lay vu fransay?

But now, I’m so excited. I’M A CELEBRITY!

Remember a few days ago I wrote about the auction I went to that Gene Simmons from KISS was at? Well, someone just emailed me a link to a video about it and I’M IN IT! I’m the yellow hair on the dance floor just under the second “E” in the Legends banner at the 31st second of the video. I’m on there for three whole seconds! At about second 33 I glance sideways so you can ALMOST SEE MY FACE! This is SOOOOOOOOOO exciting! I’ve been in the paper many times but only a couple of times on TV and never with big celebrities. I’m practically a star myself. Here’s the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpVpwmljeds. Please take note, Agent Korn, that my platform is growing right before your eyes.

Who Is Erma Bombeck?

I went to the Willamette Writer’s conference yesterday. Boy what fun! Except for one part, I had a fantastic day. I got to be with my friends from my writing group, all of whom are successfully doing great writing, getting published, getting awards, and getting better looking all the time. It’s true.

The one exception was my “pitch” meeting with an agent who was 14 years old. He was so young his diaper was hanging out of his pants leg. He was so young, he still had a placenta. He was so young, ah heck, you get the picture and I can’t waste time making up lame jokes because I just googled “he was so young” and there aren’t any on the internet I can steal. But this guy, who, in his bio said he handled “humor,” this guy had never heard of (gasp) Erma Bombeck. Oh my gosh. I know there are people from back in the day who the young folks haven’t heard of, but how can you be an agent who promotes authors who write humor without knowing something about humor legends?

I am not going to go off on this guy here. Well, yeah I am. When I was young, of course I knew all the bands/writers/politicians from my time period, but I knew previous ones too, if for no other reason than to make jokes about them. If all I had in my stable of knowledge was what was occurring right this minute or in the last few years, I would have been a pretty dull person. I was pretty, but I was not dull. Well, actually I was cute. That’s what everyone always said, “Suzanne is so cute.” Strangers used to come up and pinch my cheek. “You’re so CUTE” like they’d do to a baby. I’d bite them. If you see someone with a missing index finger, now you know why.

My high school daughter and her friends know the words to all the old songs. It’s crazy. If I drive them somewhere and a song from the 70’s comes on, and they all sing it. “How do you know the words to that song?” I ask, and they ignore me, as usual, so I don’t know how they know, but they do.

So this agent had never heard of the woman who wrote a syndicated humor column read by millions, who wrote several best-selling books, who was a speaker all over the world, who was on TV and at the White House, and who was a champion of women, a household name, and still has such a following that the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop sells out every year. A great resource for humor writers is a website dedicated to her, www.humorwriters.org (where you can register for the Workshop, see a picture of Erma, and learn about her funny life on the YouTube video there). Here are some of her quotes that I snagged off the website in case you don’t bother going there. Never heard of Erma Bombeck…what is this world coming to?

"Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids."

"My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint."

"There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child."

"The only reason I would take up jogging is so I could hear heavy breathing again."

"Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage."

"In general, my children refused to eat anything that hadn't danced on TV."

"When humor goes, there goes civilization."

"Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."

"Never loan your car to anyone to whom you've given birth."

"The grass is always greener over the septic tank."

"A child needs your love more when he deserves it least."

"There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt."

"It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else."

"If you can laugh at it, you can live with it."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Southern Speaking

I say, “Hi, how are you,” and in those four words people know that I am from the south. My accent isn’t as bad as it used to be when I first came to Portland. Back then I couldn’t even say “Hi” without people saying, “Where you from?”

The crazy thing is, they’d use a fake Southern accent to say it, like, “You all ain’t from around these parts, are you?”

I didn’t like having a voice everyone recognized. I’d call girlfriends that had toddlers – babies 2 and 3 years old who answered the phone, “He-wo,” and I’d say, “Is your mommy home?” They’d drop the phone on the counter and yell, “MOMMMMMEEEEE, IT’S SUZANNE ON THE PHONE!” 4 words is all it took.

One time I tried to disguise my voice by making it real low, like a gruff old man. “Is your mom home?” The phone slammed down and I heard, “MOMMMMMEEEEEE, THERE’S A MAN ON THE PHONE AND HE SOUNDS LIKE SUZANNE.”

I started trying to figure out what makes southern speech different.

One thing is that Ii’s rambling. Southerners talk as if they’re passing time on the front porch swing sipping sassafras tea with no agenda for the next six months. For instance, normal people might say, “I went to the store at noon.” Southerners would say, “I went down to the super market long about noon or a little bit after or maybe it was a little bit before, it’s hard to recall because it’s been awhile, but anyway the point I’m trying to make right here is that I went down to the grocery store long about noon today.”

Southern talk is lazy. We take shortcuts. Everybody probably knows about dropping the g’s on words ending in “ing.” Southerners are laughin. walkin, talkin, fightin, bitin, chewin and spttin. But we also run words together. Like the rapper who named himself after a half dollar. 50 cent. That’s pronounced fiddy cent. If someone asks you in the south for change for a dollar, you’d say, “Sorry, I’ve only got fiddy cent.” We also say, “Let’s go in nair.” “What chew doin?” and “I’m fixin’ to go outside.”

Southern talk might be lazy, but we add in a bunch of syllables to make up for it. In fact, there is not one 1-syllable word in the southern accent that I know of. I found this out one time when my son had a friend over when they were both about seven or eight. I gave them a couple of choices for drinks with lunch. The friend looked puzzled and whispered something to my son. My son said, “She wants to know if you want milk or water.” The kid said to me, “What was that other choice?’ I said, “What other choice?” He said, “The meal –ulk one.” That was the first time I realized that I had made milk into two syllables. We do that with everything. We say, “Pa-ass the br-ead.”

The fourth thing we do is pronounce our vowels all wrong. Our A’s sound like ay. So the word “made” comes out sounding like mayed. I’s sound like ah. “Ah’m gonna go outside.” Or we’ll add an “r” to it, so that if I’m sleepy I might say, “I’m tarred.” And our e’s sound like a’s. Me sounds like may. My kids used to love to say “me” like that. “Give that toy to may.” “No, you give it to may.” They started out saying it like that to make fun of me, but now they keep saying it out of habit, and I think it’s so cute.

I have given my southern accent a lot of thought and decided that, although it’s not as distinct, I still get asked everywhere I go if I came from the south. I’ve decided that it’s something that makes me stand out. I know I’ve used it to my advantage to get out of traffic tickets and so forth. I have decided that I like it. If you are interested in talking southern, I’ll try to come up with some more lessons. Until then, just say, “Y’all.” People will eat out of your hand.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Almost Close to a Celebrity

I promised last night to tell you about Gene Simmons.

We were at the Legends golf tournament, hosted by Tommy Thayer, a member of the band, KISS. I don’t know much about the band except they sing that song, “I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night, and Party Ev-er-ry Day,” and they do Dr. Pepper commercials. Tommy Thayer is one heck of a nice guy who has helped raise money for Pacific University for the last 4 years, according to the stuff I just Googled. He gets a bunch of celebrity “legends” together (hence the name) and they come to the dinner/auction on Sunday night and then play golf with athletic supporters to help raise money. They also play with other golfers. Pretty bad, huh? Well, I am getting NO sleep around here and it’s the freaking best I can do.

We went last year to the dinner for the first time and it was scads of fun. All of these musicians got up on stage after dinner and sang some great songs. We decided to go back this year.

Yes, I’m getting to Gene Simmons. He’s the lead singer of KISS, the one with the tongue that could lick his own forehead it’s so long. Personally I think it’s a tongue extension. Who has a tongue that long besides a giraffe? I bet there are lots of Gene Simmons tongue jokes on the internet. I’ll go hunt for one.

Well, the only one I came up with quickly is from some reporter who quipped, “Gene Simmons me a tongue lashing.” Lame, but better than nothing.

Anyway, Gene Simmons also has a TV reality show called Gene Simmons Family Jewels. I watched parts of it a couple of times and he seems like a nice, regular guy. I really like his girffriend/mother-of-his-grown-children, Shannon Tweed, who he’s been with for 25 years.

Here was my little taste of celebrity. Gene Simmons walks into the big outdoor room under a circus tent with Shannon and an entourage, with cameramen in front, on the sides, and behind him and a guy holding a microphone boom thingy. It was like being on the red carpet! One of the ladies I was sitting with said, “That must be awful having all those people following you around all the time,” and I said, “I think all those people represent money in Gene Simmons’ pocket. When nobody’s around, he’ll be a sad/poor guy.”

He walked in slowly because the other celebrities came up to greet him. I didn’t know any of them, but I live a sheltered life. Many of them were star athletes with honors and awards a mile long, but they weren’t Joe Montana so I didn’t recognize their names. There were also music legends, including the drummer from the band, Chicago. Boy was he good!

Gene had on sunglasses even in the darkish tent, and a black shirt, black pants and silver/gray cowboy boots. He would have been your nice, average Mafia guy if it hadn’t been for the cameras. Shannon looked just like she does on TV.

I think the reason KISS has had such a long run of fame and fortune is Gene Simmons’ marketing skills. He was filming the auction as part of a Family Jewel’s episode, and he offered bidders a chance to be seen on the show, which drove prices up. When people were bidding to have him be the celebrity for their team, and only bid $6,500, he bid on himself for $10,000. “This is a fundraiser,” he said, “and I’m here to raise money.” The auctioneer said, “Gene, am I understanding this? You’re bidding $10,000 to play with yourself?” Everyone laughed because we were picturing him, well, never mind.

Someone bid $10,500, and Gene bid $11,000. He kept counter-bidding until he’d driven his own price up to $15,000. I thought about the poor guy who would be writing a check for that in order to play one round of golf and get a cameo on a reality show, but hey, I’m not criticizing – if I’d had a wheelbarrow full of spare money, I’d probably have bid as well.

Gene offered a home cooked meal and evening at his house to 4 couples, each bidding $11,000 each. He and another guy named Doc egged the crowd on to bid higher, throwing in airfare and hotel. I’m sure there were wealthy people there who could afford it, but not at our table.

They ended up raising about $400,000, and I think a good chunk of that came from people willing to bid sky-high to hang out with Gene Simmons.

I didn’t get to meet him, I was busy trying to entertain Ray Kennedy, the celebrity who was assigned to our table and ended up sitting beside me. He was a handful. He had played with the Beach Boys and a ton of other bands – a very talented guy - but he didn’t sit with us much because he was too hyper to sit still.

I don’t know why I needed to take up a whole blog with this – I guess it’s because I don’t get around “stars” and it was a fun experience. All the musicians jammed, and we danced. A couple of women who wanted to be on the show got up on the stage and danced in the background. If they don’t get edited out, you’ll see them on the show. I’ll let you know when it airs. We were a couple of tables away so maybe we’ll be on the show. I’ll let you know if we are. Then I’ll be a celebrity, too. I’ll send you an autograph.