Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Step Away from the Pink Box


The pink box appears on my kitchen counter, out of nowhere.  "Hey," it says.  "How you doin'?"  "I'm okay," I say.  "Hungry?" the box asks.  "Not really, I just had some toast."  "Toast?  How boring is that?"  "I like toast."  "Sure you do."  "I do."  "Come on," it purrs, "open me."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Lost and Found



                                     Come back to me...

Friday night, the eldest boy came home from his big adventure, after nearly six months away in Copenhagen.  At the airport, I could hardly contain myself, I was so crazed with excitement.  We parked and we waited and waited some more.  He gave us sporadic cell phone updates:  "I've landed."  "I'm waiting for my luggage."  "Got my luggage.  Waiting for my guitar."  And then, the final update:  "#%&! They lost my guitar."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I've Looked Better


                                  My New Driver's License Photo

Whenever I show my driver's license, I warn the cashier, "This is me, a long time ago."  Sometimes the folks behind the counter believe me, sometimes they don't, and I'm forced to call for backup.  "Sorry to pull you out of a meeting," I tell my husband, "but I need you to come down to Gelson's and convince them I'm me.  Bring a recent photo; a nice one, where my eyes are open."  Apparently, my super coiffed-up, mid-'90s hairdo, my rosy cheeks and youthful glow, don't exactly jibe with the current version I present to the universe.  My driver's photo freezes me at an ideal time in my life:  I'm in my 30s, my sons are young and innocent, my career is hot.  Best of all, I weigh the same thing I did in high school!  I'm sure I was lying at the time, but who cares?  According to my license, I'm really thin!  I can still remember the moment the camera flickered and I flashed my teeth.  If my photo could talk, it would say, "Check me out! Ain't I somethin'!" 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Time for the Jews


                                                Darlene Love

http://www.hulu.com/watch/1373/saturday-night-live-christmas-for-the-jews-song

Friday, December 18, 2009

Did You Hear That?




"Did you hear that?" I ask my brother John.  "Hear what?" he says. "That."  "That what?"  "That guy talking about the Bruins."  "I figured it was Howard.  I know how intense he gets about his team."  "It's not Howard.  Howard's at work."  "You have a party line."  "No, I don't."  "Yes, you do."  "No, it's worse than that."  "What could be worse than a party line?"  "A sports radio station is coming through my phone line."  "How nice for you," John says, aware of the hell I go through on a daily basis.  I'm surrounded by sports nuts.  Screaming, raging, door-slammers.  Individuals who take their sports very seriously.  Over the years, I've found ways to cope.  Mostly, I leave the house.  But now, I find it cruel that the sports mania extends, inexplicably, to my own phone line.  I don't remember putting in a request for that. 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Hanukkah Miracle


For years, it was my fate to slave over the ol' latke pan, making batches of crispy golden pancakes.  Such a fine latke-maker was I, dishing out slice after slice of heaven, that I came up with a lofty goal.  I'd work my way through the 1.5 million latke recipes that exist worldwide, one recipe at a time.  Call it overly ambitious, or slightly deranged, but I like a nice challenge now and then, and this seemed like a good one.  And so, every Hanukkah, I'd stand there like a fool, shredding potatoes until my fingers bled, chopping onions until I cried, and singing, "I made you out of clay" until coyotes howled in the distance. I'd fry and I'd splatter.  I'd count and I'd tabulate.  "All this work and I've only made a dozen.  What gives?"  In the process, I'd go through eight rolls of paper towels and set off, not just our smoke detector, but those of our neighbors, too.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel



Happy Hanukkah, courtesy of the great Tom Lehrer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZUgr1zh878

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Total Gleekdom: Don't Rain on My Parade



Set your tingle meter on high, and check out Lea Michele on last night's "fall finale" of "Glee."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMk134dN1Xc

Monday, December 7, 2009

Alarming Behavior



By nature, I’m a panicker. Am I proud of this trait? No. But there it is, out in the open, unless you already know me, and you’re nodding your head and saying, “Tell me something I don’t know.” It doesn’t take much to get my adrenaline pumping. I jump at the slightest noise. I startle easily. I’ve spent a lifetime just trying to calm down and catch my breath. I’ve tried meditation and yoga, behavioral modification and various numbing devices.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Attack of the Kiosk People!


                           "You're right, my hands are silky smooth!"

I confess. Kiosk people scare the #@!& out of me. Over the years, I’ve developed a strategy to deal with this untamed group. Yet there are times I get roped into their evil web anyway. Did you know that kiosk people are the most aggressive sales force in history? Well, it’s true. Avoiding these crazed product pushers requires determination. Walk quickly. Never look up. Never make eye contact. Once they snag you, it’s all over. Surrender your wallet and hope for the best. Kiosk people are relentless. And mean. They prey on your weakness. They profit from deflating your ego. Their industry depends on your dry skin, swollen eyes and myriad personal flaws. In record time, they’ll zone in on all your insecurities. The holidays are the perfect time to strike.  They’ll say anything to make you spend your hard-earned cash on miracle gels, eye creams, acne solutions, hair extensions and aromatic, microwavable neck pillows. All I can say is: Run! Run as fast as you can and don’t look back!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Memories in the Corner of My Purse



Once a year, I force myself to embark on my least favorite, most dreaded task in the universe. Of course, I meant to start this hellish chore months earlier, but no, here it is, December, and I’m finally on it. The other day, I took on the only place in the house that is truly mine. I have only myself to blame for its ungodly status. That’s right. I cleaned my closet. It was worthy of a horror flick. I frightened myself, and most likely, anyone near enough to hear me screaming.

How much do I hate this agonizing process? Deeply. The reasons are oh-so-many. For starters, closet-cleaning reaffirms that, despite my more-or-less neat and orderly appearance — if you catch me at a good time of day and the room you find me in is candle-lit — I am a TOTAL SLOB. Somewhere up in heaven, at this very moment, my mother has just overheard my sad confession and, while she isn’t the least bit surprised — this trend started early in childhood — she is still disappointed that I never got the closet thing together. I’m sure there are worse crimes, though none comes to mind.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Leftovers!


                                                                      Anne Taintor

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Groomer Gal


Showering is such a lonely business. You stand there in your birthday suit, as warm water cascades down upon you, soothing your tired neck, washing all your cares away. Your mind starts to wander, and soon you’re under a Hawaiian waterfall with Brad Pitt and Angie’s somewhere in Germany or France or Zimbabwe with all those kids. It’s just you and Brad getting friendly. And then you remember that promise you made to stay environmentally faithful. This shower is supposed to be green, remember? Make it fast. There’s no time to linger with Brad. Scrub up, rinse off and get out. You’re done in five minutes. Hang on, you say, as you towel off. What about that old bumper sticker from the Sixties? You know the one: Save water, shower with a friend.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Entertainment


Sometimes the best home entertainment arrives, not via satellite dish, but courtesy of Mother Nature herself. “Come here,” my husband says. “You gotta see this.” I barely look up from the newspaper. I assume he wants to show me something sports-related on TV.  Unless it’s something spectacular, like the removal of Ann Coulter’s vocal cords live on “The View,” I’m sticking with Doonesbury. But no, the man insists I put down the funnies and join him by the window. “Don’t make any sudden moves,” he tells me. I tiptoe over. “This better be good.” Happily, the scene that unfolds doesn’t disappoint. It lives up to our expectations, and then some. It’s educational, enlightening and uplifting. The bushy-tailed star takes center stage on the patio, and it’s obvious he’s got mad skills. He doesn’t have to dig too deeply to find his motivation. Someone’s been stealing his walnuts, chomping ’em down whole. And guess what? He’s heated. It’s payback time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dream On


Anne Taintor, Chronicle Books

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Common Scents



I got the call while I was outside watering my bone-dry begonias. Naturally, I was honored, not to mention surprised. When a top perfumery asks to bottle your scent, it’s nothing to sneeze at.  Every celebrity on the planet has a signature fragrance, from the Olson Twins, Britney and Paris, to J. Lo, Gwyneth and Beyonce. It’s about time a major non-celeb such as myself got a crack at that multi-billion dollar market.  I’m still not sure how the folks at Odeurs Unlimited got wind of me, but clearly they smelled a winner from afar.  “I would like so much to spend zi day with you,” declared Madame Pheromone, Senior V.P. of Toiletry.  "You want to come here?” I gasped, imagining the hellish hours of housework ahead of me.  “Mais oui,” she answered Frenchly. “How else can I collect your essence?”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Switched At Birth?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Doctor Will See You Now



                                            Freudian Cigar

The other day, I went to a memorial for a dear family friend, held at the Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax.  The man was a beloved Hollywood publicist and the turnout was huge.  I grew up with his daughters and hadn't seen them in ages.  They're both in the biz.  One of them is a prominent casting agent I've had the pleasure of working with in the past.  When I walked up to give her a consoling hug, she got a funny look on her face. "Carol, are you still writing?"  I nodded.  Of course, I'm still writing. What else am I qualified to do? "Why do you ask?" I said.  "Well, I heard you'd become a therapist." My husband and I started to laugh.  "Only for my immediate family and friends," I said. "Who told you I was a therapist?"  "My sister heard about a therapist named Carol Schneider." "Huh," I said.  "I wonder what I'm charging."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beware of Llama


Hubby toasts potential llama acquistion

It’s my favorite time of year. We turn the clocks back, we gain an hour of sleep and my mailbox fills with the strangest assortment of holiday catalogues. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. Bring it on. I can’t get enough. I’m a junky. Despite the shaky economy, the opportunities to blow money are endless. I can buy a neon jukebox, a snow mobile, a five-foot tall steel menorah. I can even buy a llama. And seriously, why wouldn’t I? How many times does a llama come along? I’ve been around a while, and this is my first shot at purchasing livestock.  I’ll admit the llama option came as a surprise.

For $150, I could “light up a life with a llama.” For $5,000, I could spring for an entire ark. We’re talking cows, sheep, camels, oxen, pigs, goats. You get the picture. Two by two, that’s a lot of animals to feed.  As I flipped through the catalogue, debating how many llamas to buy, I couldn’t believe all the name-dropping going on in there. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Diane Lane and Susan Sarandon. Each one had something pithy to say about the healing nature of rabbits and water buffaloes.

I called up my husband at work to get his opinion on the matter. “Honey, how do you feel about llamas?” “Why do you ask?” he said. “Oh, I was thinking we could get one for Hanukkah. It would be the perfect gift for Scotty, don’t you think? What 18 year old wouldn’t love to have a llama? And it’s only $150.”

Hubby sounded less than enthused. “He’s going away to college soon. We’ll get stuck taking care of it.” “I know, but Susan Sarandon has two llamas, and she lives in New York City. Barbara Bush has cows. Bono has goats, sheep and donkeys. Bill Clinton has an alpaca, a flock of geese and four camels.” “Hmm,” my husband said. “Sounds pricey. Let me think about it.” “Okay, but don’t take too long. They might run out. I don’t want to back-order a llama. What fun is that?”

Next came a long sigh. I reminded him that my friend Connie has a burro named Cricket. “Listen, if you want a llama, if you really can’t live without one, go for it. What’s one more mouth to feed?” Is it any wonder why I married the man? I should’ve asked for a llama a long time ago. I called the toll-free number and waited to talk to a representative.  “Heifer International, how may I help you?” a woman said. “I’d like to buy a llama, please. I like the gray one on page 23.” “We can’t guarantee the color, ma’am.” “Why not?” “Sometimes they’re white. Is white okay?” “I guess I can live with white. But I prefer gray, if you can swing it.”

I gave her my credit card number and asked how soon I’d get my llama. “Hanukkah starts December 11,” I told her. “Will I have it by then? And does it come UPS?” “You don’t actually get the llama,” she said. “I don’t? Then why did I just pay for it?” “It’s a donation, ma’am.” “You’re telling me I don’t get a llama?” “That’s right, ma’am.” “What do I get?” “You get the satisfaction of knowing you’re bringing help, healing and hope to millions of impoverished families worldwide.” “One llama can do all that?” “One llama is a good start. You can donate as many animals as you like. We’re having a special on sheep this week, if you’re interested.” “I’ll just stick with the llama.” “How about a beehive? For another $30, you can help pollinate a village in Uganda.” “Did Susan Sarandon buy a beehive?” “She bought eight.” “I’ll take two beehives and one llama.” “Anything else?” “I’m done.” “If you change your mind, you know where to find us.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Short Jewish Gal Spotted In Sherman Oaks

For the past three years, I've been blogging on the wonderful BoomerGirl.com as the Showbiz Kid, thanks to my dear friend Cathy Hamilton. You can find her hilarious take over at BoomerGirlDiary.blogspot.com.

I'll now be known as Short Jewish Gal, only because Show Biz Kid is taken, and anyway, who cares, because, let's face it, Short Jewish Gal describes me best. Sure, I've grown up in Show Biz, I've worked in Show Biz, and I have many deep thoughts on Show Biz. But in my heart, I'm an S.J.G. and always will be.

So, please hang in there with me as I figure this blogging thing out on my own. Cathy Hamilton promises to hold my hand, all the way from her perch in Lawrence, Kansas.


Here I am with eldest son Billy, who towers over me.  On a good day, I'm barely 5'2."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Multi-tasking for Beginners


Scotty Schneider, Multi-Tasker Supreme

I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve found a whole new way to annoy my youngest son. Catering to his every need isn’t one of them. He has no problem with that. On any given day, I’m likely to ask him one of the following questions: “Shall I toast that for you, my darling?” “Shall I launder that for you?” “Shall I buy that for you?” “Shall I do more for you than I would ever do for myself?” I understand that he’s busy. He plays soccer and basketball and a variety of challenging video games. There are friends to chat with online, and drums to bang on, and music to blast at eardrum-piercing decibels. Now and then, there’s studying and the small matter of college applications. The boy has no time to pick up all those nice clothes he leaves on the floor. Please. That’s my job. I get it. Duh! After years of following silly advice in parenting books, about setting limits and blah-blah-blah, I’ve concluded that my way works better. I go with my natural instincts. I spoil him rotten.

Until recently, fulfilling his every wish got a big thumbs-up. But lately, he’s so impatient with me. He doesn’t understand why I can’t match his level of extreme multitasking. I’m only good for one or two tasks, tops. I can sit at the computer and drink coffee. I can sit at the computer and answer the phone. I can sit at the computer and stare at the screen, as I was doing the other day, when he asked me to read a rough draft of his college essay. So here’s what I did: I sat there and read it. I went sentence by sentence. I lingered over this word and that idea. I took my time. And it drove him crazy.  “What’s taking so long?” he asked. “I’m reading your essay.” “You should be done by now.” He made a move to turn on the music. “Don’t,” I said. “You can’t read with music on?” he asked. “No.” “You’d fail at being a teenager,” he said. (As if I’d ever want to be one again.) “You couldn’t multitask if your life depended on it.” “Is that such a bad thing?” “Yes!” he said. “What’s so great about multitasking?” “You get more done.” “Maybe so, but you get it done, badly.” I went on to explain my philosophy for the eightieth time in two weeks. “I’m old. I need to concentrate. I lost valuable brain cells back in the ’70s.”

I played the pity card next. I told him how I didn’t even have a computer in school. I had a lousy electric typewriter. “No spell check!” “That’s awful,” he said. “No cell phones. No Google. No Wikipedia,” I said. I could tell I was reaching him. I was getting through at last. We were really connecting. He put a loving hand on my shoulder. “What’d you think of my essay?” “I haven’t finished it yet.” “Why not?” “We’ve been talking.” “You can’t talk and read at the same time?” “I refer you to our previous discussion.” “Which discussion?” “The one we just had.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oh, No, You Didn't!

The summons arrives in my mailbox. I stare at it in disbelief. My brain fills with dread. Anxiety swoops down for a landing. “Oh, no, you didn’t!” I say. I mean, seriously. I just did freaking jury duty three years ago. A scary, criminal case. Attempted murder. Very “CSI.” Guys with tattoos. Gunshots. Gangs. Contentious deliberations. Lots of shouting. I screamed the loudest. The experience left scars, people. Deep ones, on my hands from all that table-banging. For three weeks, or was it four, I was one angry gal. Oh, the trauma. Oh, the police escorts to the parking lot. I ask you: Haven’t I done my civic duty? Don’t I deserve a lifetime pass?

Monday, September 21, 2009

It Could Be Worse

There was a dry cough. There was a headache. There was an uh-oh on my part. I gave the high school boy two Advil and off he went to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Killers. The next morning, he woke up feeling horrible. So he stayed home. “You’re exhausted,” I said.  “You’re not getting enough sleep.  You need to take better – ”  He dozed off while I was talking. It wouldn’t be the first time, or the last. By early evening, he had a temperature, chills, a drippy nose and a stomach ache. By midnight, his fever spiked. My earlier uh-oh took a dramatic turn. “Oh @#%*! I know what this is!”

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Brilliant Career

A career is a funny thing. I’m not talking funny ha-ha. I’m talking funny-strange. As in, “That’s strange, where’d my career go? It was here a minute ago.” One day I was writing for TV, and the next, I wasn’t. I turned away briefly, to have my uterus removed, or maybe it was my gall bladder, I forget, and my career pulled an Elvis and left the building.  “Are you coming back?” I asked my career. It had no comment. It just skidded out the parking lot, packed up and moved out of town, address unknown. Naturally, my spirits plunged, but I kept going. I vowed to track down my career, no matter what. So I searched and I googled, I twittered and I facebooked, but all I found were some early credits I thought I’d buried for good.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Farvel!

The college boy checks his suitcases, and we stand there and watch them disappear. We bow our heads and say a silent prayer:  Please, God. Let both bags arrive at the same time, at the same destination, and not somewhere else, like Mars. His backpack stays on his shoulders, along with some hefty dreams, the kind that weigh more than his luggage. I happen to know this for a fact. Before we leave for the airport, we weigh everything on a special travel scale. The baggage comes in at 85 pounds; the dreams, a ton-and-a-half.

We walk up an escalator and back down again. We aren’t looking for the food court, but find it, anyway. Pizza and chicken wings. Panda Express. Should we have a nosh? We’re not hungry, but we can always eat. No, it’s decided, let’s keep going. We’re looking for a sign, and there it is, the thing I’m dreading most of all: an arrow that points to the departure gate.

All the planning and nagging and packing, and just like that, here it is. It’s time to say “farvel” to the family. Time to hop a plane or two. Catch a ride to Copenhagen. “Study” abroad. Soak up culture. Convert money. Party in a whole new language for five long months. Eat Danish food. Drink Danish beer. Meet Danes, lots of them, specifically, females. With any luck, he’ll find a few who don’t tower over him by more than a foot. Such are the goals of a young man traveling to a foreign land, just because he can, and why shouldn’t he?

Up to the last minute, I do so well. I’m fine. I’m more than fine. I’m great! “Look at my boy. Off he goes. Isn’t he something?” But then, just like that, I fall apart. I lose control. I’m weeping on his T-shirt. Clutching him for dear life. “Don’t cry,” he says. But I keep going. I can’t help myself. My husband looks away. He refuses to join this sob fest of mine. I’m on my own here. My youngest puts his arm around me. He won’t go there, either.

Now the college boy waves goodbye. He turns and walks away and soon we can’t see him anymore. I’m still crying, of course; saying ridiculous things. “It’s so far. He’s going so far.” But then, just like that, I stop. A few deep breaths and I’m done. We’re out the door… in the parking lot… driving away. A long schlep over the hill and we’re home again, sipping Corona Lights, munching falafels we picked up on the way. The next day, the phone rings. “Hi, Mom. I’m here,” says a voice many time zones away. “What about the luggage?” I ask, as if that’s more important. “It’s here, too,” he says. But I know what he’s thinking. “Now what?”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Out to Lunch

During lunch at a quaint New York teahouse, my lunchmate Connie Ray starts to wonder, oddly enough, about her lunch.  As in, where is it?  My salad sits before me, looking delicious.  Her salmon rolls remain elusive. It would be rude to start eating before Connie’s food arrives, and so I stare at my salad with longing, moan a bit, and fondle my fork.

Tall and gorgeous and southern at heart, Connie doesn’t like to cause trouble. She leaves that to me. When there’s a situation, she checks her watch and fidgets and smiles a lot until I take charge. “You want me to get the waiter’s attention?” I ask her. “Yes, please,” she says.

I do my beauty queen wave in his general direction. The results are negligible. I must do something soon, or the theatre district will suffer. Connie, you see, is starring off-Broadway in a play called “Next Fall,” and since I’ve come a very long way to see her, it’s up to me now to make sure she’s served lunch, or else she’ll be late and the curtain will go up without her, and won’t that suck for all concerned? Her co-stars will notice her absence, most certainly, as will the audience.

At the same time, it would be reckless on my part to let her go on stage, unfed. I could just gobble up my salad in one ladylike bite, and offer to step in for her. I’ve starred in many plays myself; mini-dramas that unfold nightly in the recesses of my brain. I’m more than qualified to replace Connie, whether I know her lines or not. I’m a writer. I’ll make something up. It’ll be fine.

And yet, good friend that I am, I keep the suggestion to myself. I won’t bring it up until she starts to bang the table in despair and weep openly. Meanwhile, my salad begins to wilt under the warm teahouse lights. I need to take action. I creep up behind the waiter and scare him half to death.

“Hi. Excuse me. My friend over there is still waiting for her lunch. She’s going to be late for the theater. What’s going on?”

The waiter looks at me, alarmed, as if I’ve just informed him that the restaurant is on fire. “I’m very sorry,” he says, bowing slightly. “There’s been a delay. It will be out in a minute.” He hurries toward the kitchen, anxious to get away from me.

I return to our table, to find Connie in her stage clothes, with full-on makeup and poofed-up hair, already in character. Apparently, the show must go on, with or without lunch.

I compliment her transformation and tell her the salmon rolls are on their way. We clink our water glasses in celebration. A moment later, the waiter reappears, carrying a big fat plate of nothing. “I am so sorry,” he begins. “We opened the oven and there was no fish.”

Connie and I look at each other and erupt into laughter. The waiter has just summed up the absurdity of life. Rather than admit that someone in the kitchen messed up, he blamed this inexplicable occurrence on the universe. He spun the screw-up into Zen-like gold.

Well. It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? Sometimes, we open the oven, figuratively, and expect to find something wonderful awaiting us, only to come up with zilch. Sometimes, all we can do is shrug and say,
“Next.” Sometimes, all we can do is change the order and move on.

“I’ll have a salad,” Connie says. The waiter brings it quickly and tells us it’s on the house.

In the end, she makes it to the theater on time, and all is right with the world, fish or no fish.

"Next Fall" moves to Broadway in March 2010, with the original cast

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

As we like to say in show biz, it’s an honor just to be nominated – pretty much for anything. But it’s a lot more fun to win. The nature of the award, the size of the statuette or plaque, doesn’t matter. Best Kisser. Best Slacker. Best Cell Phone Yakker. Whatever you’re offering, we’ll take it and prop it on our mantle or hang it on our wall. We have no shame. Hand it over and we’ll find a place and spotlight for it. When it comes to acknowledgment we can’t get enough.

The other day, I picked up an award in a little-known category of achievement. The venue was understated, if not altogether lacking in glitz. There was no red carpet, no paparazzi snapping my mug. I left my gown, tiara and stilettos at home. I dressed casually for the occasion, in shorts and flip-flops. I was in summer goddess mode, as I stepped into the office of my esteemed dentist, Dr. Dixit. All I had to do was sit down in the chair and open up my pricey, orthodontured mouth, to receive instant recognition, delivered in a charming, Indian accent, to boot:

“Carol, I have to say, you are, without question, the very worst teeth-grinder I have ever seen. In all my years of practicing dentistry, I have never seen anyone destroy a bite plate the way you do. These appliances generally last my patients for years and years, and yet, you mangle them in record time, within the first few months. You seem so calm and happy, at least while you’re awake. I am really at a loss.”

In between tears of joy and embarrassed giggles, I thanked Dr. Dixit, not to mention the Academy of Dentistry, for this honor. I felt so touched, I could barely speak. Of course, I hadn’t prepared my acceptance speech. This award took me by surprise.

“Dr. Dixit, I’m deeply humbled by…” I paused here for dramatic effect, gazing at my X-rays, as if reading a teleprompter… “your awareness of my talent, my gift for pulverizing my molars till there’s nothing left. I may appear calm and happy to you, but it’s only an act. I’m really a tortured soul. Naturally, I blame my sons. The college boy, home for the summer before jetting off to Copenhagen to ‘study,’ returns most nights at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. Whatever he’s doing, I don’t want to know. As for the boy of seventeen, he wails at night, bemoaning his latest SAT scores, thinking of ways to repay us for the thousands we’ve spent on tutoring, only to see his scores improve forty points. I tell him that handing over his Bar Mitzvah earnings will suffice, but he doesn’t believe me. He’s holding down three summer jobs and looking for a fourth. Is it any wonder why I’m a champion teeth-crusher, a gold medalist in mastication? And so, with heartfelt emotion, I accept this award, along with whatever new appliance you dream up to help save what’s left of my mouth. There are others to thank, but I’ll narrow it down to my husband, who puts up with my nightly chomping and gnashing, and my sons, for their endless supply of angst.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Defy This!

I enter the swankiest of swanky stores in New York City and hold my breath. I’m here on my own private girly-girl adventure. It’s just me, stepping boldly out of my safe cocoon, living out a fantasy, seeing friends and shows and art exhibits, inhaling as much culture as I can get, before jetting back to suburbia, economy-style. “Don’t forget to go to Bendel’s,” Diane tells me, before I leave. And so, I’m following orders. Diane is one of the world’s great shoppers. She believes in retail therapy, above all.

Of course, I won’t be spending a dime, but no one at Bendel’s needs to know that. I just want to browse and dream and admire expensive stuff. I want to ogle the gorgeous Lalique windows. I want to get out of here without opening my wallet. To do that, which I believe is my God-given right, I must first pass through a scary gauntlet of aggressive sales folk, a crazed group of well-trained individuals that use shame and reverse psychology to reel in customers. Yes, I’m talking about the Cosmetics Department. I thought L.A., the capital of youth and beauty, was tough on us gals. But New York kicks it up a dozen notches. I’m barely in the door when a man dressed in black grabs my hand and stares at my eyes with alarm.

“I’ve got the perfect thing for that,” he says.  “For what?” I ask, but I know where he’s going. I’ve been there before.  “The lines, dear. The bags. The dark circles. I have an age-defier you will love.”  “Really?” I say, with a hint of attitude. Oh, did he pick the wrong beeyotch!  “Absolutely,” he says, near-giddy, thinking he’s got a live one.  “You know what?” I say, as he lines up a bevy of potions for my eyes only. “What?” he asks, tallying up his commission. “I’m on vacation. I’m not going to buy anything.” His face drops. He might weep. I don’t care. In harsh economic times, insulting my boomer-thin skin doesn’t inspire me to spend. I walk away, defiantly. I send out a vibe so snarky, no one else dares invade my space. I may not be from New York, but I’m starting to feel like a native. I walk up a flight to Jewelry, ready to take on the world.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Art Appreciation

The phone rings early in the A.M. My caller i.d. tells me it’s the college boy. I assume something is wrong. This is how my sick mind works. Why else would he be calling me at 8:15? I brace myself. “Hello?”  “Hi, Mom, I wanted to tell you what just happened.”  I’m thinking, oh, no, uh-oh, here it comes. I take deep breaths, and recite from a script I keep by the phone for such parental moments. I clear my throat and try to sound as natural as possible.  “You can tell me anything, honey. Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together.”
He forges ahead. “So, you know I’m in that art class, right?”

“Uh huh,” I say, supportively, although for the life of me, I remember zip about an art class. His major is environmental studies. What’s he doing in an art class? Does he have to do a diorama of the rain forest or melting ice caps? No wonder he’s calling me. I did all his dioramas for him back in the day. Maybe he needs me to fly up and do it for him. I run upstairs and grab my suitcase.  “You don’t remember I’m in art class?” he says. I detect a trace of hurt in his voice. “I didn’t say that.”

I shove the suitcase in the closet and start to relax. Whatever happened can’t be that bad. “Can you bail me out of jail?” That’s bad. Art class, I can handle. I mean, come on. What can go wrong in art class? It’s an elective.  However, I’m sure I can come up with something. It takes half a second for me to ponder a few possibilities: Has he gone and splattered paint on the walls, thereby destroying university property and landing in the dean’s office? Sounds expensive. I hope that’s not it. Has he gone all pre-school… thrown scissors at a classmate… stabbed out an eye? Sounds really expensive. I hope that’s not it, either. I start to get nervous again. He hasn’t committed any crimes against art since that ill-fated pottery class freshman year in high school. I refer to the unfortunate “kiln incident.” The rest is between our family, the school, and of course, the Reseda fire department. I sit down on the bed.

“Remind me again, what sort of art is it?” “It’s a drawing class. We draw stuff.”  Drawing. Paper and pencils. Nothing flammable. Good. I feel better already. I sit down on the bed and kick off my fuzzy slippers. “So, what happened, my darling?” “I just walked out of class.” I get nervous again. “You did? That’s not like you.”  “I know, but when I saw the old naked guy, I had to get out of there.” "Hang on. Why was there an old naked guy in class?” “We’re drawing nudes. Last week, we had a naked woman in there.” "How’d that go?” “Not too bad.”

“But you drew the line at the old naked guy?” “I’m not drawing the butt of an old naked guy.” “Well, it’s good you took a position on something.” “I felt pretty strongly about it.” “You should have stood in the middle of the room and shouted, ‘Hey! This wasn’t in the syllabus!” “So much for my career as an artist.”
“We’ll still love you, no matter how many old naked guys you refuse to draw.” “That makes me feel better.”
“That’s why I’m here.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Entitled

LOS ANGELES (BG) – A short Jewish gal from Sherman Oaks, embroiled in a row stemming from last month’s controversial neighborhood beauty pageant, was told Tuesday she can keep her crown, despite the release of semi-naked photos. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who owns every neighborhood in America, and hence, all related pageants, announced at a press conference in New York’s Trump Tower that Carol Starr Schneider “will remain Mrs. North of Ventura Boulevard, even though South is pricier.”
Starr Schneider, 50ish, risked losing her crown after pictures of her wearing little more than a bath towel appeared on the Internet, despite having stated that she had never posed nude or semi-nude.

“I have no idea who took those photos of me stepping out of the shower,” she told BoomerGirl. “I don’t know how they wound up on the Internet, but I suspect someone South of Ventura Boulevard took them right as my towel slipped off. I only wish they’d had the decency to air brush out the bumpy bits, stretch marks and sunspots.”  Trump said the photos did not violate her contract as Mrs. North of Ventura Boulevard.  “We have determined that the pictures taken are unflattering, but not as terrible as we first suspected,” he said. “Some were embarrassing and should be destroyed, some were hard to look at, but again, we’re in the 21st century…. In many cases they were actually lovely pictures, particularly when viewed in the dark.”

In a tearful statement broadcast live from her backyard, Starr Schneider attacked the leak of the pictures, dating to the start of her career as spokesperson for those who dwell in her humble, less showy zip code.
“I’ve been victimized for my opposition to zip code snobbery. I do live above Ventura Boulevard, it’s true, and I’m proud of it. No matter your zip code, it’s everyone’s right to live wherever they want, with whomever they choose, in wedded bliss, assuming they’re crazy enough to try it, with one condition.”
Starr Schneider said there had been “hateful attacks, despicable rumors and false allegations” ever since she stated that one condition in response to a judge’s question at the “Mrs. Above & Below the Boulevard” competition, where she was runner-up.

"I am not an activist, per se, nor do I have a personal agenda, but I do believe, strongly, that before, during and after a nicely-attended, well-catered ceremony, the betrothed homeowners should never park their RV, boat or Harley on the front lawn, thereby decreasing the property values of the neighborhood. Now, is that too much to ask?”  Apparently, her statement ruffled the feathers of RV, boat and/or Harley owners. Starr Schneider has denied working for various “politically correct parking” lobby groups.

However, she has become a highly visible, if unofficial champion of the cause. Supporters claim that she lost the Mrs. Above & Below Ventura Boulevard crown, a coveted position for women with too much time on their hands, because of her “clear the lawn” stand, not to mention her interpretative dance, which judges deemed “uninspiring.” Still, she said she feels honored to retain her title of “Mrs. North of Ventura Boulevard,” and will use it responsibly. “If I’ve learned one thing from this experience,” she told BoomerGirl, “it’s to keep the window blinds closed in the bathroom at all times.”

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Serenity Now

I hate to generalize, it's beneath me, but I believe that everyone has talent, not just Susan Boyle. Not all of us go on national TV to display our gifts. Sadly, some of us remain unsung. Take me, for instance. I have a skill that could raise a few eyebrows. It doesn’t involve my voice or my funky-town dance moves. To give you an idea, picture me up on stage, dressed in slinky, see-thru attire, draped across something large, foamy and luxurious. My performance might not get a zillion hits on YouTube, but I guarantee snickering, cringing and an outcry of, “Oh, no, she didn’t.”

Since no one’s about to pony up a free makeover for my debut, I went out and freshened up on my own. I bought new glasses, expensive ones to boost the economy. In record time, I changed my look. Within seconds, I went from “relatively-hip” to “much-hipper-than-you.” The frames cost more than my first car, and despite the permanent dent in my nose, it was worth it. I didn’t stop at glasses, I kept going. My hair needed some love. For five dollars per follicle, I got myself a new cut that looks a lot like the previous cuts, only better. The stylish results impressed the nice folks I cornered on the street for their opinions. Once I promised to leave them alone, all ten of them agreed that I looked remarkably young. I ask you, what’s a little extra debt when you can walk out of a salon looking 21 again?

Sure, Susan Boyle might hit the high notes like an angel, but I bet she can’t… drum roll please… fall asleep in under a minute. Yes, put me on automatic snooze and I’m a genius. My head hits the pillow and I’m out. I could win awards for my mad abilities. My acceptance speech would go something like this:  I’d like to thank the Academy of Sleep for recognizing my life-long accomplishment. I’m so honored I could scream, but I might wake people in the audience, so I’ll keep it down. I owe it all to me. It would be misleading to thank anyone else, especially my father, a very tired man who hasn’t fallen asleep once in 87 years.

Of course, I’d have to hide my award, or sell it quickly on Ebay, once the Academy discovered a slight deception. I can fall asleep fast. But stay asleep? Well, that’s another matter. Here my level of mastery takes a sharp dip. The slightest noise or movement and I’m awake. I snort or drool or turn over and startle myself conscious. Or my bladder nudges me out of bed, usually when I’m burrowed down and cozier than a girl has a right to be in these troubled times.

On many occasions, a bad dream boots me out of slumber. Someone chases me or my teeth drop out of my mouth or I’m naked in the high school parking lot or I lose control of the car and go barreling off a cliff. Whatever the scenario, it pumps me full of adrenaline and I’m done for. If it’s not a nightmare that disturbs me, it’s my hubby, hobbling around the room, cursing loudly because his calf muscle seized up again.

No matter what wakes me, whether it’s myself or the fellow beside me, once I’m up, I can’t fall back to sleep. My mind starts flooding with worries. I try all sorts of tricks, deep breathing, staring at the ceiling, but nothing works. I’ve even tried counting sheep, but I can never decide what to do with them once they leap over the fence. It gets crowded in the pasture and they start bumping into each other and going “baaahhhhh” and there’s no way I can fall back to sleep with that racket.

Recently, I hit upon something new to count. It worked so well, I thought I’d share it with you. Feel free to thank me with gifts, or make a donation to the nearest Sleep Disorder Clinic in your community. They’re usually located next to Starbucks.

Rather than count sheep or backwards from 100, I count Seinfeld episodes. I’ve seen all of them, many times over. All I have to do is conjure up a few snippets of plot and I’m back on the sleepy-bye train. I don’t go season by season. It’s all fairly random:  Kramer forces Jerry to wear the puffy shirt on “Today.” Elaine tells Jerry when they were together, she faked it. George suffers humiliating shrinkage. The Soup Nazi won’t serve Jerry or Elaine. Yada yada yada. Serenity now! Kramer turns his apartment into the Merv Griffin show. The stinky valet ruins Jerry’s car. The early bird special. Top of the Muffin to You. Who can go the longest without… oh, don’t make me spell it out.

So, the next time you can’t fall asleep, or stay asleep, try counting Seinfeld. It’s cheaper than a sleeping pill. Side effects may include less drowsiness, no heartburn or flatulence, and a few giggles. Nine out of ten doctors recommend counting Seinfeld. What are you waiting for?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Clean-up Time

Once a week, I flit around the house, noticeably crazed, cleaning up after three or four slobs, depending on the college boy’s whereabouts. The ritual varies little from week to week. It begins with the scooping up of random dog hair, baggies full, enough to form a whole new dog – preferably one that doesn’t consume a bar of soap, upchuck its bubbly contents, and amass a $500 vet bill.

Next comes the rapid Hoovering of school books off the kitchen table. Loose papers, index cards, pens, pencils, quarters and pennies, old gum. In a domestic frenzy, I do my best to hide the clutter, shoving it into whatever space I can find. The hall closet, the trunk of my car, the doggy crate. I’m not proud. I will do whatever it takes to win the approval of the short and saintly figure scheduled to arrive momentarily.

Speed it up. Hop to it. Look sharp. Let’s roll, baby. These are a few of the helpful words of encouragement I pepper with expletives, as I dart hither and yon, maneuvering the chaos into something halfway presentable. In the midst of this quest, I ponder a few questions:

Why is my son’s belt looped around the chair, instead of his waist? Why is his sock under the sofa and not his foot? Why can’t he bury his CDs under his bed, with the 900 empty water bottles and Coke cans, and not dump them atop the toaster oven? Why are his basketball shoes crushing the dinner rolls on the counter, and not tucked into his smelly gym bag, where they belong?

I conclude that there are no answers to these questions. Plus, I have no time to figure them out. I’m on deadline, people. I must keep moving before the angel sent from above arrives to judge my place of residence, and the oddball characters inhabiting it. Oh, dear God, I don’t want to disappoint her again. Or make her weep, like that time I left towels in the dryer. I meant to iron and fold them, but I was hobbling around on a foot that wasn’t broken after all – still milking it for sympathy, of course – and forgot. I’m human. Forgive me.

And so, I keep going. Picking up after people I love 99 percent of the time. If I stop to scream, I’ll lose valuable seconds… seconds I need to cram dirty forks and spoons and crusty cereal bowls into the dishwasher. Hurry up, she’s coming. There’s trash to throw out, tchotchkes to dust, a few spots that need repainting. She’ll be here soon. Make it look nice. Don’t humiliate the family again. Yes, I’m referring to the moldy sponge incident. She hasn’t recovered from that debacle. The paramedics were a little rough trying to revive her.

Ding dong. Damn! She’s here and I haven’t even scoured the toilets or remodeled the laundry room to her specifications. I’ll have to live with the shame. I open the door and in walks Blanca, the beloved housekeeper who’s been putting up with us for eight years. Or is it nine, since the last one quit? I give her a hug and apologize for the mess. The dog jumps on her and she smiles, beatifically. She’s on damage control. It’s time to work her magic. I better get out of her way. But I’m here if she needs me. Rumor has it I’m pretty good with a mop.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

When Are We?

It’s 1989 again, and big hair rules the day. I hardly recognize myself but look, there I am. It’s me. I’m 31 and wrinkle-free. Check out my pink and blue plaid shirt with shoulder pads out to here. I’m a tiny line-backer with rosy cheeks and coiffed-up, fancy hair. Mousse much? Lacquer up with extra-hold? Why yes, as a matter of fact. I goop it up every day. Doesn’t everyone?

I’m in the living room of my parents’ condo, waiting for guests to arrive. That’s you on camera, hun, tilting it this way and that. Artsy balloon shots. Cupcakes from various angles. You’re making me dizzy, you know. Pull back. Keep it simple, if you can.

Now friends appear in the hallway, with precious babes in tow. Little ones crawl on the carpet, walk a few steps, plop back down. Some cuddle in blankets, suck on bottles and coo. Ah. Ambrosia.

The toddlers take turns on a rocking horse that’s not a horse at all. It’s a duck, that’s right. A duck. A rocking ducky is cooler than a horse. Spread the word. Remember that.

Oh, my God. There’s my mother. Look at her, so pretty at 62. Happy. Healthy. Full of life. Her hair short and stylish, too. There’s that laugh of hers. I miss it. It’s great to hear it once more. Been a while. Go back. Let me hear it again.

Hey, there’s my dad, working the room, cracking people up. There’s my grandma and who’s she talking to? Your grandma. Turn it up. What are they saying? Too much background noise? Too bad.

In the corner, there’s my cousin. My brothers. Your folks and brother. How thin he is. He’s got hair. All the men do. Look at our friends, hun. How they mingle… laugh… sip drinks. And whoa, check out the couples that didn’t stay married, in a time warp, back together again. Smiling, holding hands. How strange is that?

Now the room sings “Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to You.” All the people in our life, hun. The ones we lost. The ones still hanging around. Singing to our eldest boy. He’s chewing wrapping paper. Scooting on his butt. Our youngest son… where is he? Oh, right. He hasn’t been born.

Shut it off now, hun. That’s enough for today. Time travel takes its toll. Wherever it went makes me wonder. Any chance we can get it back?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

That's Life!

There’s a saying in my family that sums up all the absurdities of the universe in three little words: Life is life.

When a pile-up of humbling calamities befalls anyone in our immediate circle, we turn to each other and say Life is life, and for some reason, we feel better.  Life is life condenses all Murphy’s Law supplements into one handy phrase. Over the past few weeks, we’ve said Life is life a total of 82 times. I’m not exaggerating. Okay, maybe a little, but trust me, I’m entitled. Here are a few excerpts from my highlight reel. Spoiler alert: those with weak stomachs, stop now. This tale includes broken parts and an ugly black boot.

Last week, my 87-year-old father went shopping for a new hip, and three hours later, found a replacement over at Cedars-Sinai, a giant mall of premium hospital beds. It takes an hour to find a parking spot, and an equity line to pay for it. The coffee shop on the plaza level, however, serves a nice pound cake. The operation went well, thanks to the tall, handsome surgeon who disappeared after the final stitch and has yet to return a call. Expedia.com would rate the Cedars recovery room and hospital stay with half a star, and that’s being generous. The indignities ranged from bumping and banging my dad and spilling water on him, to serving him mysterious, fish-like cuisine and trying to move him to another floor the night before he was going home. He rejected that particular upgrade with a flurry of expletives, and during check-out, declined the offer of a bedpan as a peacekeeping souvenir.

Back at the condo, as he put his attorney on speed-dial, the mishaps continued. Two seconds in the door, the bathtub sprung a leak, the freezer refused to make ice (for the ice therapy machine that broke instantly), and the commode delivery, along with the carefully-selected, physical rehab team, got re-routed to Mars.

Meanwhile, I decided to grab a little attention for myself. Everyone was so focused on my father, I couldn’t help but wonder, what about my needs? Don’t I count? I decided to find out. Jumping around in an exercise class, I came down wrong and rolled my right foot. At first, I thought I’d sprained my ankle. Sure, a sprained ankle might’ve garnered some sympathy. But sprains are for underachievers. So I went all out, people. Not to be outdone, I broke my foot. And now I’m wearing one of those hideous black boots, getting MRIs and most importantly, lots of indulgent phone calls, mainly from my father, the former invalid. “Are you okay, honey?” he says, hourly. “Who’s going to take care of you?” he asks. “Oh, sweetie, were you able to sleep?” Don’t worry, Dad, I’ll be fine. Eventually. Still, a basketful of tulips, irises and roses wouldn’t hurt. The inscription on the card? Life is life.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Boomer Butt

Take one butt, heart-shaped and ample. Take one pair of high waisted jeans. Put them together and you’ve got a global fashion disaster of epic proportions. Long before poor Jessica Simpson slapped on a chunky leopard belt and torso-hugging denims – to the dismay of a TMZ-loving planet – I traveled that same lonesome road myself.  Yes, I donned a pair of Mom Jeans… once. One time was enough to scar me for life. And I wasn’t even a mom yet. Far from it. I was a curvy teenage girl with eye-catching booty. It was the ’70s, people, and high waisted, extra-wide bell bottoms were the rage. Oh, I just had to have me a light blue pair.

Like Jessica, I bought into the theory that high rise pants would create the illusion of longer legs. So what if my rump came along for the ride, not to mention my hips and my super cool platform shoes? Not even 5’2”, I could barely walk in them, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. I had it goin’ on. I had more style than I could handle.  Or at least I thought so, till I hit the pavement outside my first period ceramics class and received the first of many bewildered stares directed at my rear. One boy walked by, shook his head and sighed. Another looked at my tush and asked, “Why?” My tush had nothing to say. All day long, my butt faced nonstop derision. I won’t lie. It hurt my feelings a bit. I’m not made of steel, you know.

That night, I hung up those jeans and never let them out of my closet again. My school held an assembly just to thank me. The banner read: “Wise Decision.”

So Jessica, I feel for ya, girlfriend, I really do. But don’t let the bastards get you down. Hold your head high, and wear those Mom jeans even higher. It’s your signature look now. Don’t run from it. Au contraire. Embrace it. Milk it for all it’s worth. Work it, baby. Turn a profit while you’re at it, too. Give ’em a new name, a new sense of ownership. Heck, you’ve already got a line of fancy shoes. Don’t stop there. Can Jessica’s Jeans be far behind? Place your orders now, that’s my advice.

Comments

DianeD (anonymous) says...

This is hilarious.  And BTW, I don't get the public's Jessica bashing. I should look like her and suffer the same criticism... If only.

sherrie (anonymous) says...

Diane,  You're funny,probably clairvoyant too--unfortunately "Jessica Jeans" will have their day with the rest of 80's revival. I wrote 2 books on style. Should I give up now?
http://www.sherriemathieson.com/

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

After much hardship and spousal suffering, I’m forced to share the good news. The bathroom sink has landed, and not a moment too soon. There were many hurdles involved. The term “tile guy” was uttered once or twice. There was more cursing, of course, more blood loss, more Band Aids peeled for the cause.

The new sink arrived last Wednesday, or should I say, both new sinks arrived. Yes, hubby ordered two, even though the sink I call mine is perfectly fine in every way. Not a crack in the porcelain. Flawless. Naturally, the new sinks are the wrong size. They’re one-sixteenth of an inch too large. One-sixteenth may not sound like much, but trust me on this, size matters.

On top of that, the color is wrong. The sink I call mine, the original that sits, blissfully undisturbed at the end of the counter, away from all the trouble, is beige. The new sink is bisque. Beige. Bisque. They sound so similar, don’t they? And yet, sadly, they’re shades apart. I asked myself, could two, ever-so-slightly mismatched sinks, get along? Could they share the same marble and not crack under the stress? Could they live in harmony? Why the heck not? It’s not like, God forbid, we’ve got potential buyers tracking mud through the house, saying nasty things like, “I can’t buy this dump; the sinks in the upstairs bathroom don’t match.” No, that isn’t the case, at all. It’s just us in there, brushing our teeth and washing our hands. Outside visitors aren’t welcome.

Over the phone, I issued strict orders to my husband. “Don’t even think about it.” “Think about what?” he asked. “You know what,” I said. “No, I don’t,” he said. “Yanking the other sink out. My sink.” “But the sinks don’t match and – ”  I cut him off right there. “I can live with it. It doesn’t matter. No one will notice, unless you point it out, which I know you will, so don’t.” On the other end, he put on his soothing, late-night deejay voice. “It’ll be fine. I promise. It’ll take 10 minutes to install.”  Where had I heard that before? Where had I gone wrong? Had I not made myself clear?

Before Mr. Fix-it got home and got busy, shaving off marble, about a sixteenth of an inch, to be exact, I launched a clever counter-attack. I called the woman who gave birth to him and appealed to her sense of decency. “You’ve got to help me,” I told my mother-in-law. “You’ve got to help me stop him before it’s too late.”  Together, we hatched a plan where my father-in-law, the original Fix-It Man, would call Howard at exactly 7:30, and tell him he knew the perfect tile guy for the job. It wouldn’t cost much and he could save himself all the aggravation.  The time came and went without the phone call. I could hear the power saw shaving away marble as I sat downstairs, stewing. Why hadn’t my father-in-law called? Had I not made myself clear?

The next day, I found out that a touching father-son exchange had taken place. My father-in-law couldn’t wait and called him at work. He said everything, just as we’d rehearsed, to no avail. By Sunday, hubby had installed the sink and figured out how to stop it from leaking, too. A new sink may look nice, but isn’t worth much if you can’t run the water.  An hour later, he declared victory. “I told you I’d do it,” he said. “Yes, you did,” I said. Oh, but it’s not over, not at all. I’ve got that sinking feeling that there’s more to come. There’s the issue of that extra sink, taking up space in the downstairs shower. Just this morning, Howard visited the extra sink in its temporary holding cell.

“Come on, it won’t take that long,” he said to me, flashing those cute puppy eyes. “If I can just get your sink out without it cracking, then I can put it in the downstairs bathroom, because that sink is cracked too… see? And then I can put the new sink in and put yours in the powder room and – ”  “No,” I said. I meant it, too. “No,” I said again, in case he didn’t hear me. He wanted to remove two sinks now, mine and the cracked one in the powder room?  OMG times ten. But let’s face it, it’s happening, whether I like it or not. Because in my house, when it comes to sinks, it’s pretty caulked-up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What started as a hairline crack is now a gaping hole. How did this happen? Hubby, that’s how. Or should I say, Howard. Yes, the man I’m married to likes to fix things. A lot of things: Dishwasher door handles. Dryer drums. Kitchen tiles. Water filters. Ice makers. Sprinkler heads. Give him a project, any project, and he’s happy. Compulsive, but happy.  When he gets that crazy glint in his eye, that’s my cue to clear out. I’ve learned the hard way that lookie-loos best leave the premises if they know what’s good for them. Stand around and watch the master at work? Bad idea. Ask, “How’s it goin’?” Really bad idea. Pack an overnight bag, take up residence on a distant planet? There you go. Now you’re talkin’.

Sure, some wives might say, “Do you have to do that today, honey?” Or, “Can’t it wait?” Or even, “Should we call someone?” Not this gal. I know better than to use the “p” word. Mention “plumber” in a sentence? Whisper “repair man” under my breath? Are you insane? I’m way too evolved for that.  By now, it’s a time-honored tradition. A house part that I think still has some life left in it, in Howard’s opinion, demands immediate attention. Whereupon I step back, heave a sigh and say, “Let the fun begin.” Then I plug my ears and run. For this current event will not be G-Rated. There will be heavy cursing to go along with the requisite frustration, manly injuries and antibiotic ointment.

Alas, all it takes is a microscopic fracture to ruin a quiet day. A slight fissure appears, barely visible to the human eye, and he springs into action. Next thing I know, he’s clearing his calendar; scheduling the operation for right now, if not sooner. I turn around and off he goes to the hardware store, a trip he’ll make at least twice within the hour to prep for the procedure.  Despite the bloodshed, there will be no nurses present to hand him a bandage or maybe a wrench or, God forbid, a sledgehammer. (It’s coming. Wait for it.) No fetching young surgical residents to hang on his every word or wipe his brow. That’s fine for “Grey’s Anatomy.” But this is real life, people. My guy flies solo, as if you hadn’t guessed.

Where others spent Monday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and counting the seconds till the Inauguration, Howard decided to rip the sink out of our bathroom. When I floated the idea to patch the porcelain, instead, a temporary measure that might buy us some time, he laughed his head off and grabbed his tool box. Now anyone who watches HGTV knows that sinks can be pretty stubborn when you try to coax them out of their lodgings. Turns out, they like where they are; it’s cozy. They get insulted when you order them off the property. Many times, they refuse to scoot on principle. If a sink could speak, it might say, “I’m not going anywhere, mister,” or, in our case, “Make me.”

So that’s what my husband did. He made it do what he wanted. He forced the sink out. Posted a foreclosure sign. Issued a warning or two, and then bam, out came the dreaded sledge hammer. I heard pounding. Things were definitely breaking upstairs. The ceiling started to shake. I got so scared, I called my father. “You won’t believe what he’s doing!” My dad tried to comfort me. “What’s the worst that could happen?” “You want a list?” I asked.

Right then, Howard walked into the kitchen, carrying a chunk of marble counter top that snapped off along with the sink. “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay,” he promised, dripping blood on the floor. He disappeared into the garage, to get the blow torch.  Once again, I turned to my father for guidance. “Oh-my-freakin’-God!” “What’s happening now?” my dad asked, even though he didn’t want to know. “He’s… destroying… the bathroom.”

That was enough. My father couldn’t take another second. He was too old for such domestic chaos. He’s done his fair share of household mending. I didn’t have to paint a picture for him. He knew this scenario firsthand. “I’m hanging up now,” he said. Click. So now all I can do is wait and pray that the pending installation of the shiny new sink goes smoothly. I plan to be out of town, of course. I’m taking the dog and my second-born. I’ll send a postcard when I get settled.