Thursday, February 28, 2013

These Are Not My Children

Well, after a brief hiatus (darn that whole job thing for getting in the way!), I’m finally ready for another Theme Thursday blog post.  And this week’s topic is OPK—Other People’s Kids.

            And, to be honest, I almost missed this Theme Thursday too. Not because I don’t like the topic but because after years of teaching high school, I have had more than my share of drama with other people’s kids.  I loved teaching and I loved 99% of the kids I dealt with (even those I mentally called ‘loveable thugs’) but I could easily get into a crazy rant about the other 1%...and don’t even get me started on their parents!

So I decided to focus on the other people’s kids that make me happiest…my nieces and nephews.  I have 4 nieces and 2 nephews and I love them beyond reason—even though they’re always getting me in trouble.

Sure, they’re smart, good-looking, and sweet but, make no mistake, they’re trouble—at least for me.  For some reason, every time they spend the weekend with me, I end up getting angry phone calls from my brother.

It all started ten years ago, when my two oldest nieces were two and four.   I kept the girls while my brother and his wife went away for a romantic weekend. I had dozens of activities planned and afterward the four-year-old assured me that I was the “best aunt ever!” Clearly, the weekend was a screaming success.

Unfortunately, my brother didn’t agree. A fact made apparent when the call came a few days later. “Do you have any idea why my two daughters are running around waving their fists in the air yelling ‘It’s go time?’” He demanded, without even saying hello.

“I have no idea,” I replied. “But if I had to guess, I’d say that someone was mouthing off to them and they were forced to stand up for themselves.”

“It’s interesting that you say that,” he crowed triumphantly. “Because when the DAYCARE CALLED TO COMPLAIN, they mentioned that the girls first yell ‘Are you mouthing me?’ and then say ‘It’s go time!’”

Which, of course, made it a lot harder to deny. I had to admit that during our weekend reenactment of TV wrestling, I might have waved my own fist in the air and uttered the offending phrase.

“You have to be careful!” My brother insisted then. “You can’t teach them things like that!”

But, you see, these are not my children.

I love them more than anything else in the world, but I’m not Mom or Dad or even Grandma or Grandpa. I’m not supposed to teach them morals or traditional values. I’m Aunt Kimberly; my only job is to keep my purse filled with candy and gum and teach them things like “go time.”

That weekend I gave them a veritable cornucopia of valuable information. I showed them how to build a tent with blankets in the middle of the living room floor. I demonstrated the best way to roast marshmallows over a huge candle and how to make s’mores out of chocolate chip cookies. Finally I showed them how to burn off the sugar rush of four s’mores by jumping on the trampoline until we were ready to crawl over to our tent and watch movies until three in the morning.

As they’ve grown older, I’ve taught them other equally important life lessons. Like the exact amount of cookie dough they can eat before getting sick. Or how to blow bubbles that are as big as their heads--and almost immediately after that, the best way to get bubble gum out of their hair.

I’ve given them hot pink eye shadow and green lipstick—shades their parents would never approve of—just to show them how ridiculous they look in hot pink eye shadow and green lipstick.

I’ve even taught them the beautiful secret of reading between the lines and decoding “grown up speak.”  See, my personal philosophy is to never say no to them.  Not ever.  These are not my children and it’s not my job to set limits.  So I have two standard answers whenever they ask me to do something.  The simple answer is, of course, yes.  Yes, absolutely you can have chocolate cake for breakfast…or that new doll…or those amazingly tacky zebra stripe boots I bought and only wore once.  Yes, whatever you want my darlings.

But—all evidence to the contrary—I’m not a complete idiot.  Even cool Aunt Kimberly isn’t going to let an eleven year old go bungee jumping at some unlicensed carnival or let a thirteen year old go to a midnight concert in downtown St. Louis by herself.  And that’s when I pull out standard answer number two: Ask your dad.  If he says it’s ok with him, it’s ok with me.

The youngest one figured it out over Christmas break.   I don’t remember exactly what she asked me but it was something crazy, something like if I thought she could dye her hair purple—her favorite color.

“Ask your dad,” I told her.  “If it’s ok with him, then-“
            “That means no,” she said.

Bingo! Lesson learned.

My brother, I’m sure, is irritated by the way I make him be the heavy, make him take all the blame.  And he’d probably be horrified if he knew all the details of our weekends together. After all, he’s the parent not the “best aunt ever!” He’s supposed to make the girls eat their vegetables and go to bed at a reasonable hour.  He has to guide them through life and turn them into responsible, productive, happy, moral members of society. 

 I’m just the aunt and my job is much easier. I get to teach them fun things like how to fill water balloons and do magic tricks.

And, of course, how to deal with someone who’s mouthing them.

For other Theme Thursday posts, click the link below:

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Second Worst Date Ever

So today I want to talk about a little journey from my single days that I like to call “The Second-Worst Date Ever.”  Second, not first—my friend, Kelly, still holds claim to the worst date ever because of the time she got stuck out in the woods with some creepy guy named Dallas who kept asking her things like “Does it scare you that you don’t know where we are?  Are you scared?  Are you?”  over and over.

However, although Kelly’s horrible date would make a fabulous pre-sentencing report or Lifetime TV special, it is not chock full of the same valuable life lessons as my evening.  For those of you who are still single you might want to take a few notes as you may have inadvertently made a few of these etiquette faux pas.  Married folks, do not despair, I think many of the rules below apply to a myriad of social situations.

1.               Do NOT show up twenty minutes late then order a Jack and Coke before saying hello.

2.               Do NOT, in the first fifteen minutes of conversation, volunteer the information that your FATHER uses TAMPONS in his rectum when his hemorrhoids get especially bad.  (No, I don’t completely remember what led to this comment but that isn’t really the point since THERE IS NO APPROPRIATE TIME TO SEGUE INTO A TAMPON UP THE BUTT DISCUSSION).

3.                Do NOT curse like a sailor in front of your date for the entire evening, dropping no less than 30 f-bombs but apologize to the waitress for cursing in front of her once.

4.               Do initiate conversations about mutual acquaintances but do NOT ask questions like “Was she the one with the big…?” and make cupping gestures in front of your chest.  Definitely do NOT follow this up with the information that you are an expert at picking out fake boobs while nodding your head meaningfully at one of the waitresses.

5.               Do NOT comment that you hope computers don’t completely replace sex any time soon since that could cause you to lose all muscle tone in your right arm.  (Masturbation references are the type of thing that should probably be saved for a second or third date).

6.               Do discuss your family in pleasant and loving terms but do NOT mention that your aunt, who can speak five languages, taught you some phrase that you don’t know the meaning of but she promises will get you immediately laid in Holland.  Some of us, you see, are uncomfortable discussing our sex lives with close family members, much less learning great pick up lines.

7.               Do NOT wonder out loud why, if alien life forms are supposed to be so advanced, they can only examine the human body with an anal probe.

If you do, for some unknown and intensely personal reason, feel compelled to share your anal probe observations, make them quick and DO NOT follow your fascinating insights up with loud shouts of “Why you gotta shove a cattle prod in my a**?”  while waving your hands in the air, pretending to fight off the aforementioned anal-probing aliens.

If, again, you feel compelled to share your observations and yell cattle prod comments, try with all your might NOT to finish this little skit with a thoughtful discussion of how you’ll beat the crap out of any aliens who attempt to probe your a**.

The problem with these actions, people, is that when combined with #2 on this list, they have a tendency to convince your already horrified date that you have some sort of strange anal fixation.

8.               Do offer to buy your date a drink but do NOT wait until your THIRD Jack and Coke to mention that you are really cutting back on the drinking because of ALCOHOL-INDUCED HERNIATED ULCER THAT IS EATING THROUGH YOUR ESOPHAGUS!!

NOTE:  Yes, I stuck around long enough for him to have 3 drinks, but really only to get more material for the blog I knew I’d be writing…he pretty much lost any chance he had with me after the tampon comment…it’s like Jerry Maguire in Bizarro World “You lost me at tampon…”

9.               Do NOT steal straws from the bar and mention how you are going to cut them in half and sell them to the coke-heads in the bar where you work for a dollar a straw.

10.            Do ask your date questions about her life but when she mentions that she has had plastic surgery to rebuild her nose because of a recent struggle with skin cancer, do NOT ask if she has any feeling left in her nose then joke “Cool, so I could punch you in the f**ing nose and you wouldn’t even feel it.”

That’s not even considered funny in the polygamy cult down in Texas.

But, if you forget all of this…if, in fact, you only remember one little piece of advice from this list, PLEASE remember this. 

11.            Do NOT EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ANY TIME, try to recover from the plastic surgery joke by saying (and I quote!) “The only plastic surgery I want is BOTOX for my BALLS…you know to eliminate the wrinkles.  I want them smooth like eggs.”

This, to be honest, not only guaranteed that I’ll never think of testicles in the same way but also kind of put me off eggs…

A Mother Life

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Happy Valentine's Gay

**This post originally appeared in 2013 as part of  a challenge to write about your "Most Memorable Valentine's Day"**

Since Opie and I have only been married a year and a half people are probably expecting me to write sort of a sappy, emotional tribute to the ultimate fabulosity of our lives together.  But sappy emotional tributes aren’t my style (unless, sadly, I’m writing about Peek-A-Boo, The Amazing Miracle Dog) and, besides, if I wrote that kind of public post about Opie, he’d break out in a rash…
So, instead, "The most memorable Valentine's Day I had was when I had the WORST VALENTINE’S DAY DATE EVER."

It was about 4 years ago; I had just gotten out of a bad relationship and I hadn’t reconnected with Opie yet.  I was a little down and crabbing about how it sucks to be alone on Valentine’s Day.

Then I learned what sucks worse: Having a so-called friend set you up on a date on Valentine’s Day with a gay guy.

I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, like maybe she didn’t KNOW he was gay…but that would mean that she’d never spent more than five minutes in his presence…and I don’t know which bothers me more: that she set me up with a gay guy or that that she set me up with a complete stranger.

For the record, he didn’t actually come out and SAY that he was gay…but he was.

And for those of you who are horrified at my lack of political correctness, for my cruel pre-judgmental outing, please note that my friend Eric has already lectured me on my blatant breach of the liberal code.  He has reminded me that sexuality is a deeply personal issue and one of the few things in life that a person is allowed to self-identify. 

And then, after I told him the following story, he said “Yahhhhh, that guy’s gay.”

First of all, he was more feminine than I am—and I consider myself a fairly girly girl.  Second, he couldn’t keep his eyes off our waiter.   I’m not exactly Sherlock Holmes but when one man blatantly and continuously checks out another man’s perky behind, I suspect more than a passing interest. 

Which, in itself, isn’t definitive.  But then he turned every conversation into an oblique reference to the “desperately immoral lifestyle” he had previously been involved in.

Like I asked him how he knew my friend Sarah (who arranged this travesty of an evening) and he said he met her when he joined the same church she’s a member of.  “It saved me,” he said.  “I had immersed myself in a desperately immoral lifestyle.” And then he nodded meaningfully and took another peek at our waiter’s butt.

I decided not to pursue that and instead changed the subject and asked about hobbies.  At which point I learned that he has taken up running because he had to quit his gym after giving up his “desperately immoral lifestyle.”

And so on.  After about the tenth reference to this lifestyle, it was pretty obvious he wanted me to ask what it had been.

So, I sighed and asked “Drugs?”

“Worse!” He said.

“Murder?”  I suggested.  “Paid assassin?”

And then, like he was in some horrible over-stereotyped movie, he put his fingers in front of his mouth and tee-heed daintily.

It was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever been forced to witness.
“Not that bad,” he giggled. “But close.”

Which I thought was incredibly sad—I mean, come on!  If you’re gay and your top ten list of evils in the world goes:

1.   Murder

2.  Homosexuality

I think you have some pretty deep-seated emotional issues. 

But I also think you shouldn’t be dating WOMEN.
Anyway, he looked at me eagerly, waiting for me to ask more.

And you know what?
I didn’t do it.

Instead I smiled and said “Good for you for getting out of it, whatever it was.” Then I told him I had to go.

Because Eric is right, sexuality IS a deeply personal issue and not one you should discuss on a first date.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rock of Love Killed This Reality Star

Well, it’s Friday and that means it’s time for one of my favorite blog hop/link ups  from the ladies atJanine's Confessions of a Mommyaholic and “Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine with My Morning Quiet Time?” ,  Finish The Sentence Friday. They give the sentence and you can finish it however you want. Today's sentence is : "When it comes to reality TV, I…”

And, that’s easy.

When it comes to Reality TV, I am obsessed…I’ve actually written a whole other post on it called Reality For Me.  And,I know that I should be embarrassed by this because I am, after all, an English teacher…

However, I used to actually use that horrible Flavor of Love show as a motivational tool.  I was running a program for what we called “at-risk” kids from inner city St.Louis and I made a deal with them that if we got through the entire English lesson with minimal disruption, we would spend the last five minutes of class analyzing the latest episode and predicting who would go home.

Which was a little challenging to explain to my strait-laced evaluator—particularly considering the chart I had written on the back board with names like Hottie, Toastee, Buck Wild etc.

But you know what?

It worked.

And Flavor of Love was nowhere near as bad as Rock of Love…which I’m horrified to admit I also watched.  In my defense, I had a HUGE celebrity crush on Bret Michaels in high school and if I had know they were casting for a show in which I might actually get a chance to kiss him, I would have hitchhiked through Deliverance country to try out.

Wait, that’s not a defense AT ALL…that’s equally awful, if not worse.

The only good thing about the show is that it definitely cured me of any desire to be ON Reality TV because I am a crazy competitive person.  And  I think I can say with 100% certainty that there is no way I ever would have won.  I just couldn’t have come up with the following conversational gems that I remember even all these years later:

I’m everything I think a guy would want…I’m a little bit not too smart

Choking someone is…well, that’s bad.

Some people are born smart, some have to use their looks to get what they want…I’ve kind of gone that route…

I don’t know if Bret has ever been touched by the goddess but it’s time.

I also remember that there was some chick with freakishly large breasts who explained that she got her boobs done after she went to jail for putting graffiti on buildings…she figured she would be too scared to climb up and possibly fall if she had huge boobs. Please note that PRISON didn’t scare her but she thought a boob job might. After sharing this little nugget of wisdom, she sang a rap to Bret…that she had written out on the back of a genital herpes pamphlet.

I have a feeling that, if I had been on this show, I would have irritated that girl NO END.  And eventually she would have pulled out a shiv and shanked me in the fresh (I’m not going to lie, I’ve been watching a little too much Lock-Up lately).

Anyway, I no longer have any plans to be on Reality TV and I’m kind of over the VH1 dating shows.  I don't know if I'm getting older and more sensitive or if the shows are getting meaner but too many of them seem to look for emotionally damaged people to put on the air.  However, I still like Top Chef, Restaurant Impossible, Survivor, Chopped--pretty much any food challenge show...and if that means I have to turn in my English Teacher card, I guess I’ll just have to live with it.


For other reflections on Reality TV, check the link below:
Finish the Sentence Friday