Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Has the Whole World Gone Crazy? Or Is it Just Me?

Lately, I've found myself on the Abby side of the Dear Abby column and on the mannerly side of Miss Manners. It's like the rest of the world has gone crazy.

This is a strange feeling for me. Usually, I get the sinking sensation that the whole world has gone sane.

I won't go into everything that's happened, but here are a couple things:

I was walking over to the school the other day when a man I know said, "I was noticing that your yard looks terrible. The grass is real long and there are a bunch of dandelions."

The wierd thing was that he said it at a red light. So after I said, "Thank you for pointing that out," he had to stand there in awkward silence and then walk over to the school trying to start an even more awkward conversation.

"Your yard looks terrible." You don't lead with that. You save your rude comments for the end of the conversation, like this:

"Blah blah blah...Oh, look at that. Another red light. I always get stopped at red lights."

"Me, too."

"Isn't it a nice day?"


"Well, here we are at school. In closing, I would like to say that your yard is horrendous and your weeds are a disgrace. Good day and good ridance!"

See, that's much more dramatic. Even I know that. And I don't care if people have carnivorous plants growing in their yard so long as the humans in the house act polite.

Then I took J.J. to the doctor because he had a bad cough. It was a substitute doctor--not his real one. Anyway, he is afraid of doctors and cried the whole time.

First the doctor said to him, "If you stop crying your mom is going to take you to McDonald's and get you French fries and a choo choo train."

McDonald's wasn't even serving lunch yet and they never give away trains!

When that didn't work, she said, "Do you want me to give you a shot?! If you don't stop crying, I'll give you a shot."

So J.J. turned to her and said, "Let's be honest, Doc. If I don't stop crying, all you're gonna do is make more empty threats and promises. Am I right? Or am I right? Or am I right."

I'm kidding, of course. J.J. doesn't even talk, let alone talk smack. But he was thinking it. I just know it.

And trust me, those things aren't even the half of it.

You know, I usually feel like I dance to the beat of my own drummer. But now, I feel like I'm in step with the normal people. I feel like I'm on the left side of the insan-o-meter.

Or are the normal people the ones who will stop at nothing to stamp out dandelions or convince children to stop crying? Well, I guess we all have our opinions about who is normal or who is crazy. The important thing is to keep your sense of humor. Because in reality, I think we're all a little of both.

Monday, April 21, 2008

We're Going to the Zoo Today

No matter where you are, if you have little ones at home, a tiny radar goes off in your head on the first sunny and warm weekend of the year: Must go to zoo, it says. Must go to zoo.

And so, whether you have a prison tatoo or are wearing a "Jesus Christ Died for You" T-shirt--or both, you head to the zoo with great expectations: a fun day with the kids. And you leave with no one in your family speaking to each other.

By that time, the sun beating down on your tired back has proved to be too much. Especially for the children. As we left the zoo Sunday, for instance, Richie was loudly weeping all the way to the car. "The car is too far," he cried. "The car is too far."

Sometimes, it's the grownups who are throwing a temper tantrum.

I remember being at the zoo one day and some kids asked their grandma to buy them Doritos. In response, she yelled, "You kids are driving me crazy!"

And they looked at her as if to say, "But Grandma, you already were crazy."

As a kid, I remember going to the zoo on 100 degree days and staring at the seals swimming in their pool. It was the most insanely jealous I've ever felt in my life. And yet, I bring my own children in the summertime. It's just what you do.

Sometimes it's fun. Other times, I have to admit, a trip to the zoo can be more stressful than you would think.

This weekend, we went at around 2:00 on Sunday. From the looks of things, Tube Top Day at the Zoo was already in full swing. Anyone pushing a stroller while wearing a tube top and eating a corndog got half off their Fosters beer. Just kidding. It wasn't Tube Top Day--but do you remember when they had that at Royals games? If you wore a tube top to the stadium you got--I don't know, something. A sunburn maybe.

But the tube tops are just an observation and didn't cause me any stress, per se.

It was J.J.'s hour-long fit he threw when I took off his sweatshirt to prevent him from overheating in the 80 degree weather. The elephants cheered him up, but he was looking for something even bigger. "I want to see the dinosaurs," he kept saying.

He refused to ride in the stroller so we meandered along the path. It took us three hours to see about as many animals. When I finally wrestled him into the stroller, he put his feet down, like Fred Flinstone brakes.

But what made the trip worthwhile was the mangabies, which had a little baby. It would hop a couple feet away and then run back to its mother and hold on for dear life.

Have you ever noticed how well behaved other species' children are? Boys and girls and puppies are the only trouble makers, it seems. And yet, they are the most lovable of all. I wonder why that is.

I was sure the mangabies would be the highlight of the boys' day, too, since they were oohing and ahing over it. But when I asked Johnny what his favorite part of the zoo was, he said, "The ice cream."

"What about the baby monkey?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah, that was cute," he said. "It was my third favorite part."

"What was your second?"

"Probably the corn dog."

Oh, well. At least it sounds like an animal. And I'm sure everybody had more fun than they let on. Either way, we'll be back. It's what we do.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fairytale Weddings Only Happen in Real Life

A lot has happened since my last post, all of which I planned to write about: my friend's big wedding, a visit from Justin's brother and sister in law, a different sort of experience in the hospital waiting room, and the fact that J.J. has fallen so in love with goldfish crackers that when he gets to the end of the bag, he spills them on the floor and rolls around in the crumbs. Alas, time got away from me.

And as with a letter to an old friend, sometimes there is so much to write about that you don't know where to start, so you don't. Time gets away from you.

So I'll write about the first thing I was going to write about: big weddings. Some people call these "fairytale weddings," but I think fairytales give weddings a bad name.

Cindarella's marriage, for instance, seemed shaky at best. Here was a couple who based their entire relationship on whether a glass shoe fit. Who cares? As soon as you stand up, it's going to shatter anyway. "Yay, it fits. Boo, I need foot surgery."

And as for the prince, his sole criteria for a soul mate was her foot size. I imagined him talking to his friend, the Duke of Count Chocula, or whatever: "What is my ideal woman? Well, she would have tiny little baby feet. And...well, that's pretty much it. I mean, ideally, her carriage would resemble a pumpkin, but that would be icing on the cake."

But in real life, I love fairytale weddings. I love how everybody wears a white wedding dress--which is a fairly new tradition. In the old days, you would wear your Sunday best, be it blue or red or yellow. Then Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding, and the color stuck. Now, it's something everybody does no matter where they come from. Whether the bride and groom take the city bus or a Bentley to their wedding, you can bet that there will be a white dress involved.

I also love how the bride's people and groom's people spend so much time together leading up to the wedding, that they become fast friends. To the point that after the wedding, you feel like, "Where has my social life gone? I used to go to parties with people and champagne and brie cheese. Now I'm sitting at home watching 'The Wedding Singer,' What the hell happened to me?"
Speaking of wedding singers, I love them, too. I know some people like cutting edge music or obscure musicians, but give me a nice melody anyday. I think most people feel that way. That's what wedding singers sing. And I love how there's always one song that everyone on the dance floor throws their heads back and sings the chorus. At this wedding it was "Take On Me," by A-ha.

Most of all, I love the part in weddings where the priest says, "Now you may kiss the bride." It's always romantic and endearing, no matter how many times you see it.

So that's what I love about real-life fairytale weddings. Unlike Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, when the prince fell in love with the princess while she was asleep. What is he going to say when they get in their first argument: "You know, I liked you a lot better when you were comatose."

At my friend's wedding, the priest talked about how she and the groom already had successful careers and happy lives. They married for love alone, not because that was the way the story was supposed to end.

I guess that's what I love about big weddings. They have all the trappings of a fairytale, but you know that when the wedding is over, there really is going to be a happy ending.

Anyway, I just wanted to write something, so that you wouldn't think that now I only write when I have something to brag about, in which case the entries would be few and far between. You might have thought, because of the last two posts, that the theme of the blog was: "Awesome things that are happening in my life right now, for you to read about and enjoy."

But don't worry, good luck comes in small portions when you're a writer, so once again the theme of this blog is the less specific: "Things that are happening."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Erma Bombeck Contest

I found out this week I got an honorable mention in the Erma Bombeck Global Humor contest for my Pottery Barn essay.

Here is the link:

I submitted this one because some of you said you thought it was funny, so thanks for your input!