Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oink If You Have Swine Flu

The Associated Press and USA Today confirmed reports yesterday that U.S. government officials have dropped the name "swine flu" when speaking about the outbreak of the "H1N1" virus. According to an expose in Pork Fancy magazine, the agricultural department has been under round-the-clock pressure from the Washington pork lobby which fears the term "swine flu" will confuse people into thinking they can catch the virus from pork, which they can't...unless the pork is eaten raw, someone has taken the term "slam pig" literally, or it has crossed the border into Texas in the back of a '72 El Camino. Far be it from our latest administration to want to hurt the feelings of millions of pigs world wide....

Speaking on deep background, a source revealed only as "Kermit," who also assisted on the Sesame Street layoff story, agrees that simply eating pork will not give a person swine flu. However, Kermit advises that just by kissing a pig, the chances of getting swine flu increase 87% and if the pig you are kissing happens to hail from Mexico, then you need to get your ass to an emergency room before you begin to grow a small pink tail and it begins to curl up. He does also forecast labor issues in his neighborhood arising now that the Obama adminstration has insisted on referring to the current outbreak by the term "H1N1". "The letters Q and Z are definitely going to have a problem with this," said Kermit, "and I am hearing that 3 is feeling affirmative action may be necessary to in order to stay relevant in the future.." Kermit also could not confirm or deny reports that Miss Piggy has checked herself into to Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles for “flu-like exhaustion" as a result of the latest news.

As international health agencies gear up to fight the first politically correct disease pandemic, Muslim extremist and Ultra-Orthodox Jews have found a common ground protesting the"swine flu" moniker due to shared religious sensitivities to pigs. The U.N. has been test marketing posters in Iraq "Aren't you glad you don't dig on swine!" in which a woman in a burka instructs her children to wash their hands. While similar sentiments are being used on public service pamphlets in Tel Aviv with a photo of Jerry Seinfeld tossing bagels at Kramer, who is holding a small pig. The caption reads, "The new flu - Oink Vey! It's not kosher, anymore!"

Mexico, still trying to recover from damage caused by the growing popularity of the term "Dirty Sanchez", is openly fighting global pressure to call the outbreak the "Mexican Flu".  But in an attempt to cash in on the swine flu mania and increase its global visibilty, the Maldives has announced that it would like to put it's hat in the ring as host of the new flu name. The term "Maldavian Pig Pox" was approved almost unanimously by the island nation's 340,000 residents during a town hall style vote. Residents felt the name was neither demeaning nor offensive as there are no pigs living on any of the country's 2,000 islands nor has anyone had any type of flu or flu-like disease since the country gained independence from Britian in the 1950's.

Maldavies Minister of Tourism, Sir Nelson Biggles, is quick to point out that a similar epidemic created a tourist boom in the late '90s for the West Nile area of Africa, especially with researchers, journalists and scientists. The Minister stopped short of stringing together events such as Bea Arthur's death, global warming, Susan Boyle's instant stardom, Arlen Specter's political switch and Air Force One buzzing Lower Manhattan as direct results of the swine flu epidemic.

"We are trying very hard to evoke President Obama's message of hope into our new travel and tourism push and we will be rolling out a series of new ads during American prime time television and Major League Baseball games," said Sir Nelson. "We are very excited to announce the new Maldavian travel slogan - Maldavian Pig Pox.....Yes, you can! Catch it!"

No word yet from the White House if President Obama himself has discovered the cure to this flu, but sources say it has been added to his list, and he is working on it intently....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Snip Heard Down The Block

Last week, my neighbor, who I see frequently, often multiple times a day even at the bus stop, startled me with what seemed to be a very sudden decision. “I’m getting my tubes tied tomorrow,” she said. “Really?” I asked, a bit confused. For some reason, my first thought was that all the Octomom coverage must have finally pushed her over the edge.  I mean, the thought of all of those stretch marks have definitely haunted me many a time over the past few would be totally reasonable to me if she said this was the impetus for the decision.

No, after talking to her about it, it was obvious that it was something she had put much thought into and had been on her mind for sometime....long before Octomom started looking like Angelina Jolie.

Not that it would be fodder for block party conversation, but she had made her decision and was at great peace with it, inserting the mention into the conversation as casually as someone would say, “I’m dropping the kids at the pool tomorrow,” “I’m going to get the cat shampooed,” or “I think I’ll laser off all my visible hair,” or “we got Snuggies for the whole family." It all seems alright at the time, but once hanging in the air, spoken out loud; you wonder if there are any lurking second thoughts. 

As a veteran of three, yes three, c-sections, I am no stranger to invasive abdominal procedures. But, when she began to tell me about what they were going to do and how they were going to do it, even I felt my uterus cringe.

I remember after the birth of my third, as my intestines and various other internal organs were laying somewhere over my stomach, my OB asked me not once, not twice, but THREE times if I wanted to have my tubes tied. The situation was a bit surreal, somewhere between getting your bangs trimmed (“oh, it’ll be a quick snip”) and the part in the wedding ceremony for those to speak now or forever hold your peace (“it’s the perfect time, you’re all opened up on the table, it’s not as easy as it seems later.”)

But I was young, foolish and fading in and out of consciousness from the morphine in the spinal. At the time, I kept thinking, but what if we want a fourth, what if something happens to my husband and I want to have more children, what if something happened just like in a Jodi Picoult novel and we needed one child to help save another….and so in my drugged out stupor, and despite the not so inconspicuous nodding and scissors gestures my husband was giving the doctor, I declined.

Here I am 5 years later, we are all in good health and as my husband will say, “well, you’re only going to have three with me...and if a fourth comes along you have a lot of ‘esplainin’ to do.” Enough about my uterus and back to my neighbor's and the harrowing account she provided of having her entire abdominal cavity inflated with gas, like a collapsible queen sized air mattress or hot air balloon. Laparoscopically, they went in through the belly button, but had to take the low road too, through the Cha-Cha Wawa. Four days later she is still walking a bit funny and has a tummy bruise.

But she is happy, because each day she is feeling better and can get busy on coffee tables if she wants and not worry about repercussions. And I am happy, because she has helped me make the decision to never get my tubes tied. My husband can trot his boys over to get snipped, and then ice his grapes for a few days. 

Speaking of my husband....he is pretty damn pissed about all of this.  No, not at me or my neighbor, but at her husband.  When I told him the story, he wondered aloud why he couldn’t have just sucked it up and taken one for the team.  With his twisted logic, my husband figured that just maybe if he had, I wouldn’t have heard the tale of tube tying woe and decided against it.  Now it looks like my husband's grand plan will go up in a cloud of blue smoke

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Pitch The Bitch!

Associated Press reports that $5.5 billion more in government bailout funds will be floated to GM and Chrysler. Apparently, the Obama administration has taken the “Don’t Pitch the Bitch” sales mantra to heart - there is not a single woman on the government’s Auto Industry Task Force. For those of you not familiar with “DPTB,” it is a line from the movie Boiler Room. In the movie, a slick senior broker obnoxiously hangs the phone up on a green newbie because he spends too much time pitching woman when cold calling. Not exactly the I Ching, but, as most of you ladies know first hand, it is still an unstated code for stock brokers, car salesmen and most blue collar tradesman.

Just like “coffee is for closers” and “greed is good,” “DPTB” is one of those stupid Hollywood-driven, testosterone infused euphemisms that makes me want to scream! It’s 2009 for fuck’s sake! So why do I constantly feel that I have to arm my vagina for battle a la Braveheart and prepare for the worst every time I set foot on a car lot or field estimates for work done on the house? Let’s face it, it’s the penis factor. Be it big, small or plastic, a woman can’t get a deal on a car without one.

Guys, let's get all the Freud allusions out of the way, this rant isn’t fueled by “penis envy,” “arm-pit hair envy,” “back hair envy” or any other sweaty, smelly “male-made” explanations for smart, savvy females.
The problem is that no matter how hard we try, ladies, the vagina always gets in the way. It would be so much more convenient if we could take it off at times, fold it neatly into a square and stick it into your purse when looking for a new car. Or for that matter, when you’re not in the mood, dress it up in a little Prada, smack lipstick on it and have the husband take it out on the town or on a business trip. Obviously, there would have to be rules of conduct, as the hubby can’t be "passing the pussy" around like cranberries on Thanksgiving….but that’s a different post entirely….

But I digress.... all of this just reminds me of the long and protracted car buying process that we went through at this time last year. My husband - who believes that I should learn to do things like this without his help, like negotiate a car deal, jump start a battery, pee standing up, etc. because the sheer stress of living with me is taking years off his life or so he claims - armed me with stats and web site comps and wanted me to check out a pre-owned vehicle with very low mileage.

There I was, 20 miles from home with 3 children in tow, an oddity at the dealership. I don’t know what they thought, but after 15 minutes of loudly telling the kids “Yes, we’re here to buy a car,” I had to go over one of the salesmen to get his attention. He was an older gentleman and looked very perplexed. You know he was wondering what the deal was. Where is the husband? Is she divorced? Or is she the "guy" in the all-female relationship? Bottom line, they were all wondering, where is the penis?

And when you don’t have the penis, you are expected to sit there and smile and be nice. Feign interest in the man’s diatribes on the heated seats and make-up mirror, as you glean info on the vehicle’s service history and list of prior owners. Nod when he shows you how to set the child locks, open up the back hatch and change the position of the driver’s seat.
Maybe he was confused, when I started to talk in big words about the drive-train, anti-lock brakes, warranties and gas mileage. But he should have known better than to try to pull a fast one on the woman in naughty librarian glasses with her head on a swivel shooting dirty looks at her three children while simultaneously asking very specific questions. And he really didn’t have much of an explanation when I caught him putting the wrong make, model and year of my trade-in on the Kelly’s Blue Book website.

I couldn’t even get past my first objective, to negotiate the sticker price. The sales manager came over angrily to discuss the discrepancies with their price and my offer. “Isn’t this a negotiation? Isn’t this just a jumping off point to meet in the middle?” I had said. Apparently not, because after 2 hours of mind numbing small talk, I walked. Frustrated, I drove home and called my husband to recap the entire episode. “Sorry, looks like you learned a tough lesson: they don’t pitch the bitch,” he said. Then it hit me like a freight train, the bastard knew the deal was not going to happen. No penis, no deal. He had sent me ahead to do all of the leg work, to get all the right info, so that he could take it and his penis to another dealership and get the car. What a dick!

Truth be told, everything turned out okay in the end: my husband made the deal he wanted to make and I got the car. As a way to celebrate, I told him I had a "special thank you" planned for him the night he brought the car home. He carefully pulled our new vehicle into the garage and sauntered into the house like the returning conquerer, twirling the keys happily. The look on his face was priceless when I snatched the keys from him, gave him a peck on the cheek and told him I was letting him put the 3 kids to bed that night so I could go out with my girlfriends in the new car. Payback is definitely a bitch!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Assman Cometh

If you asked my 74 year-old father what the funniest show on television is, he’ll tell you, without hesitation and with much gusto - “SEINFELD! I love that Jerry Seinfeld and Kramer and George and the parents, they’re all just nuts…just nuts.”

Now, this gushing review isn’t because he’s nostalgically reliving the series in reruns, it’s because he’s watching it all for the first time.

Each night, regardless of the day of the week, he watches the 10 p.m. news on the local FOX affiliate so that he catch two back-to-back episodes at 10:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. I never would have caught on, had I not visited over the tail end of April break. Usually, when we’d talk on the phone and he’d tell much how much he liked the show and how funny it was, I always thought it was small talk, like talk of the weather or his beloved Philadelphia sports teams or the number of weddings or funerals he went to that week. It was all just part of the background, things he did and talked about now that both he and my mother are retired.

For those of you who don’t know my dad, he is a serial funeral-goer. He trolls the obits of 3 different local papers looking for friends or relatives of friends, or friends of friends or relatives of friends of friends, that have passed on…then he cuts out the article, attends the service and then like baseball cards keeps them in a neat pile by the computer in his office. It’s a bit macabre I suppose, while some people save old lottery tickets or used movie stubs, he saves old friends. 

So the question is -- where was he at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday nights from 1989 to 1998?  I mean, he knows a lot of people, but there is no way he was booked with viewings, wakes or sitting shiva the whole time....

I’m not sure, but I’d bet money that at that time, his “Must See TV” was probably UHF reruns of “Sanford & Son” or “Chico & The Man." Now that Seinfeld is on his radar, I don’t think he realizes that his watercolor recaps are coming over 10 years too late. For example, we happened to catch one of my all time favorite Seinfeld shows “Fusilli Jerry.” Before Kramer could make his first entrance, I enthusiastically stated, “Oh it’s the Assman episode!”

“What?” my father said, clearly not listening, already pondering the crazy predicaments the Seinfeld gang was going to find themselves in this time.

“It’s the Assman one.” I repeated.

“What?” my dad said.

Assman,” I said louder and just as the funky transition music faded and the commercial came on I screamed “ASSMAN!” My father whipped his head around, clearly hearing me this time. From his countenance, I could tell he was assuming that I was screaming some new-fangled obscenity at him.

“Dad, calm down, it’s the Assman episode, you know, the guy with the license plate is a proctologist….” My voice trailed off and my father had a forlorn look, like I had just read him the last pages of a novel he was trying desperately to finish. I suddenly realized that he had not seen the Assman coming.

I sat quietly for the remainder of the show and when Kramer delivered the final payoff punch line just as George impales his backside on fusilli Jerry, he looked over at me incredulously….as if I had gazed into a crystal ball to foresee the ending, instead of simply owning the complete series box set.

I slinked out of the room to find my brother to compare “weird dad” notes and leave the man to watch the 11:00 p.m. episode wondering what could possibly top the wackiness we just observed. While his behavior was a bit odd, it was no where near the experiences I have had watching television with my husband’s octogenarian grandparents (the same ones he recently visited in Scottsdale) who frequently mute commercials, switch between watching "Rumpole of the Bailey" on PBS and "Radio Days" marathons on VHS, and often watch the reflection of the television in a large mirror on the opposite side of the room, because they refuse to move their seat to a more conventional place.

I was soon drawn back to the room by my father’s infectious laughter. The Assman had come and gone and now “Malcolm In the Middle” was on. I sat down next to him on the sofa with a smile. I had never seen any episode of "Malcolm" and relished that we had finally reached father-daughter rerun bonding nirvana….

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What’s So Scary About CT? Bitch Pleeze!

After the feedback I have gotten from my recent slacker mom post, I was happy to see that Angie Tempura, the Bitch Pleeze blogger from SNL’s Weekend Update, was at it again this past Saturday. With her laptop at the ready and venti frappacino cup in hand, I think my girl got it all wrong though, when dissing the movie “A Haunting in Connecticut.” Ms. Tempura riffed on the Nutmeg State by saying “What’s sooo scary about Connecticut?....Losing your tennis balls in Pottery Barn….” Bitch pleeze! That’s just the half of it!

As a Connecticut resident, I can tell you first hand that there is plenty to be scared about in Connecticut, after all, there is a reason why the movie “Stepford Wives” was filmed here (not once, but twice!).

Top Ten Scariest Things About Connecticut:

10. The inordinate amount of “Life is Good” apparel per child per household.

9. Suffering economy is making people do crazy things, like mow their own lawn, do their own taxes, and inject their own Botox for the first time.

8. Turned up collars, madras and monograms have been constant fashion staples since ’82….anyone wearing black is clearly either goth or just visiting from NYC.

7. If little Dylan doesn’t have a “Life Coach” by age six, kiss the “Ivies” goodbye.

6. If you come back tan from spring break in the Caribbean, expect to be profiled.

5. Upon crossing the state line, there are signs saying "No Jacket, Socks with Loafers -- No Service."

4. How many kids named Jackson, Madison and Dakota can be in one first grade class?

3. SUVs + Over Caffinated Soccer Moms + iPhones = TROUBLE

2. Two words….Regis Philbin.

1. Wacko, Human Eating Chimps!

Friday, April 10, 2009

If it Can Happen to Her it Can Happen to Anyone...

If you ask me, the bitch had it coming to her.  Welcome to the real world Barbie!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Peace, Love & Peanut Butter

In February, we visited The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA for a blessing ceremony. While the 5 year old was out scouting the mud and poop in the backyard, our guide led the rest of us into the small room off the main hallway. It was filled with artwork, writings, and sculpture depticting the lifework of major figures of the peace movement (it was very moving I must say). After a few moments of us somberly gazing about the room, the guide pointed to a large oil painting on the wall and asked my two oldest kids if they knew who it was. My 8 year-old son (whose interests are exotic cars, traveling, anything French, not wearing socks, and ketchup) proudly recounted the biography he had recently learned in school and correctly identified Martin Luther King, Jr.

Excited by his "extensive knowledge" of world leaders of the peace movement (and eager for a chance to both further humiliate his competitive older sister and impress the growing audience of adults on the tour), he next confidently strode up to a lifesize wooden bust nearby. “I'll bet you don't know who this is,” he proclaimed, with just enough dramatic pause. “It’s George Washington Carver, the inventor of the peanut!” A momentary hush came over the congregation of adults and children in the room -- which was finally broken by poorly stifled giggles from our 10 year old daughter. My son was shocked to learn he was excitedly pointing to none other than the likeness of Mahatma Ghandi.

Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” While George Washington Carver said, “Life requires thorough preparation - veneer isn't worth anything.”
In the end, I suppose they are two sides of the same coin: while it’s easy to love peanut butter and hate veneer, I guess it ain't easy being a pacifist.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sober People Don’t Do That!

It was just after midnight when I got out of the car. House keys in hand, I wobbled off in the general direction of the door. “Okay,” I told myself, “I can do this. Must keep the pants buttoned until the coast is clear.” The internal pep talk ended as I straighten my sweater and neatly arranged pieces of hair behind my ears. I tightly gripped the wad of cash in my hand and kept mentally rehearsing what was beginning to sound like an implausible alibi. I was giggley, woosey and couldn’t think straight. Like a teen coming home well past curfew, I tentatively entered the house. “Hi. How were they? Did they give you any trouble? Did they go to bed on time?” I said in one rapid fire sentence. Smiling hard at the babysitter, I was trying to look and act my most serious, my most adult, my most sober. And it was VERY hard. I couldn’t focus on a word the girl said, as my thoughts were racing…How many glasses of the Benzinger did I have? How many beers followed? Why did I only eat 3 scallops and the amazingly decadent cheesecake? Since when did the chandelier in the entry way swing in circles?

We don't go out that often, and when we do, I always end up wondering the next day what possessed me to drink so much. See, I always fancied myself as a friendly, slightly incoherent Sinatra-singing drunk, who would jovially repeat her stories, dance very badly and become an extremely close talker…or in my earlier years, to some degree publicly disrobe. (Don’t worry it wasn’t in an “Old School" – Frank the Tank, streaking kind of way…more like an all of these tequila shots have made it really, really hot in here vibe.) This night, however, the sitter didn't seem as nervous as the other ones, and accepted the outstretched money (always with an extra hour or two tacked on for tip) without the bewildered looks I have grown accustomed to getting. "I think we are in the clear," I began to say in my head, hand poised on my belt buckle. Then my husband came in. “Arrghble…blurble? Good?” He said. “Drive safe!” I said as she quickly ran out the door. “Darble…ack…snurp,” he said, mumbling like the toddler in my 5 year-old’s book “Knuffle Bunny."
As I climbed the stairs, shoes, clothes and jewelry in hand - (oh so what, old habits die hard...the kids were asleep, the sitter had peeled out of the driveway and my husband was talking like Bob Dylan on acid to a small cactus in our kitchen…and it WAS really, really hot in our house, I was free to get as nekkid and esoteric as I pleased) – two things came to my mind, first a quote about drinking by Ernest Hemmingway, “Always do sober what you say you’ll do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut;” and the mantra “sober people don’t do that!” The latter was a silly battle cry a college freshman year roommate and I would say to help us make the long walk from the bus stop to our dorms after a night of drinking scorpion bowls, $1 drafts or contraband kegs of Harpoon at off campus parties with “older guys”….Saying it repetitively and at the top of our lungs, made us think that we were sober….even if it only confirmed to everyone else that we were not. Looking back, my college education taught me, often the hard way, that there are many things that sober people do and don’t do.
"Top Ten Things Sober People Don't Do".
10) Wake up in the middle of the night and pee in other people’s closets
9) Kiss a butt ugly, no REALLY fugly guy just because he’s on the football team
8) Race large beatles under bottle caps for money
7) Stuff Munchkins into mailboxes as a present for the mail carrier the next morning
6) Buy into the whole "Fourth meal" thing and eat low grade meat by products from Taco Bell, roast beef of any kind, chicken wings or any other spicey food sold out of a cart.
5) Organize a group of people to write birthday wishes to a friend in Sharpie marker on their collective backsides (there is photographic evidence of this, it does not involve me, but I will pay handsomely for a copy)
4) Harass your future wife for a $2.00 cover charge (hey it was the early 90s!) at a party wearing a “Just Do Me!” t-shirt
3) Hook up with your future husband because he "looked cute" in the "Just Do Me!" shirt...or maybe you just mistook him for another fugly football player...
2) Scream obscenities out the window at clergy (not proud of that one)
1) Partially disrobe in front of your future sister in-law (the first time you meet her) because it was too hot March.....on an outdoor basketball court.....
Editor's Note: Over time, I have come to justify the last point as a subliminal fashion was 1992, I still had remnants of late '80s hair and was wearing a bright red (Ronald McDonald red) wool blazer with a black rayon blouse with obnoxiously large white polka dots, jeans with some kind of faded wash and black cowboy boots....I'm sure there was a cableknit twin set in the back of my closet screaming to be worn.
Doing the recap on the latest installment of Friday "soccer parents night out", it was hard to find the one drink or one defining moment when we transformed from sober to silly. To our friends in the bar, we both seemed the very model of collected and coherent. I’m sure there was in depth discussion about stimulus packages, when Obama will wear a Snuggie, cures for malaria, the layoffs on Sesame Street and other major problems afoot in the world. Then, all of a sudden, it was time to go. The clock was ticking and the babysitter was about to turn into a very sour pumpkin if we stayed out any later. We had to be responsible...we had the kids to think about...the eight year old had the dreaded 8:30am soccer game. The crowded, dimly lit bar was like Oz – no flying monkeys or Tin Men, but slightly smokey, technicolor and surreal. Nothing seemed to touch us: not the wine, the beer or the lack of solid food in our stomachs. But after saying “goodbye” and crossing the threshold into the cold night air, it was like we clicked our heels. We were suddenly in black and white Kansas…but where was the damn Yellow Brick road to get us home? Next thing I know, I am at our door, rehearsing my questions for the sitter.
After his final goodnights to"Arthur the Cactus" in the kitchen, my husband slowly worked his way up the stairs, mumbling several obscenities about the early soccer game in the morning. Although I can't be absolutely certain, I am pretty sure we got busy that night, as I was lying naked and incoherent on the bed and have been known to barter sex to get out of taking the kids to the early soccer game...(plus for my husband, seeing me lying there drunk and without clothes on must have been like being at Disney with no line at Space's too good to pass up the ride even if it's gonna make you puke!). Just before I passed out, I remembered to make note of another thing sober people don't do: accidentally slip the babysitter an extra $100 instead of an extra $20 as an added tip....