Thursday, July 31, 2008
Do you suppose we'd possibly use fewer plastic grocery bags if we stopped hiring the special ed kids to do the grocery-bagging?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
When I was 20 years old I worked for a meat company. Seriously, how hot is that? I’d take phone orders from restaurants for the sales people, because they were usually back in the cutting room smoking. One particular chain of Denver-based family-owned Mexican restaurants ordered all kinds of nifty sounding things like pork butt, tripe, and (yum) cheek meat. This weekend, I realized that we all happened to be hungry and were driving by their original location under a viaduct and across from a dog food factory, so I swung in and parked. The three dudes were all like “Really? We’re eating here? For reals?” And I was all, “This’ll be the yummiest grub you’ve ever had and you’ll thank me later get out of the car seriously GET OUT OF THE CAR.”
Initial impressions: Lineoleum. Formica. Samsonite chairs. A swamp cooler on wheels that was bigger than my first car. You couldn’t walk in front of it without losing a contact lens and a layer of tan. Granted, it was easier to get up to the counter with the wind at my back, but the thing belonged on a movie set. Like for “Twister," or "Oklahoma-The Story of a Windy Damned Place." To cut to the chase, they had those amazingly effective Styrofoam cups that I love, (ozone be damned, those are great cups) and crushed ice for the Pepsi, (why even have any other kind of ice, really?) but...the food sucked. I’m almost certain they were using government cheese.
Next stop – (insert echo-ey radio announcer voice here) the BIG GAME EXPO…(po-po-po) which we’d heard about from an acquaintance who happens to be the top record holding female bow hunter in the country, as well as my husband’s high-school girlfriend’s cousin. It’s kinda like I'm famous, huh? You’re probably worried that we’d be hard pressed to find parking at such an event, but no – there were plenty of spaces. Go figure. We pretty much had the place to ourselves save for a few weary looking overheated vendors of rugged RVs, an elk-like creature with reindeer antlers, and twenty or so folks wandering around in different variations of camo and shirts that said “my dog gives me the bird,” or “if you don’t hunt, I don’t want to talk to you.” Well. That’s good news for me.
Here’s the deal. Doug hunts, I’ve hunted, most of his friends hunt, the little dudes hunt, several people in our somewhat respectable neighborhood hunt, and there’s not a single one of them I’d consider redneck. They’re smart, ethical, and believe in conservation. They care about wildlife, the environment and not a single one of them totes a gunrack in their vehicle. Not an NRA member in the bunch. But these people were frightening in their redneckianism. I’ve always thought the stereotypes of hunters were mean, rude, and plain wrong – but most of these folks rolled out’ the trailer and came to town for the show in they finest camoflauge. The only thing it made me want to hunt down was a shower. The little dudes had a blast – they got to live out all their fantasies of shooting paintball guns down a little alley, shooting arrows at huge foam dinosaurs, and ooooooh, there were REAL LIVE PUPPIES. Labrador puppies. In every color. Number two son loved them so much he started adding up in his head how old our oldest dog is (times seven) just in case there was a chance we might come home to him dead, and NEED A PUPPY RIGHT NOW TODAY.
Somehow, though, the day just didn’t seem complete. Sure, we’d visited both Mexico and Louisiana right in our own backyard, but there was something missing. So I took every single one of them on a drive down Broadway to Wedgle’s Music & Pawn Shop. It’s been there for decades and there’s usually a really cool selection of vintage guitars, drums and dusty things that you don’t want to ask about. It smells like an old couch on a front porch. It’s awesome. Unbelievably, neither my husband or children had ever been there before. What’s with schools these days? Seriously, they’ve been on field trips to the zoo, the museum, the capitol, blah blah blah… and never a pawn shop? That right there is where we should start when discussing public school reform. Not only can you see GEN-U-INE pieces of Americana in pawn shops, you also get to see (and smell!) all sorts of diverse folks you’re never gonna meet down at the planetarium. In fact, while we were there a real neat guy with a glass eye came in to see what he could get for it… unfortunately, they were full up of glass eyes so they couldn’t help him, but it was enlightening nonetheless.
Not wanting to leave empty handed, we bought a sweet red Yamaha bass guitar and amp for Number Two Son who is having masculinity issues with his current musical instrument – the violin. As we were leaving, Big Dude said, “we are the most random whim-ish family there is.”
Exactly why I love us.
In the the span of just a few hours, we took our children to a questionable burrito joint under a viaduct, a redneck festival with a live elk-caribou-reindeer thing walking around, AND a pawn shop on Broadway. Who needs amusement parks? Someday those kids are going to thank me.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Oh, and that naughty Mrs. Robinson. So conniving and clever in her matching slip and bra sets. So sophisticated with her weird tiki bottle things that held the liquor in her massive sunroom/bar. "Benjamin? Come over here, Benjamin. Unzip my dress, Benjamin." The first time I watched the movie in my 20s I thought she was horrible and evil and rotten and wrong. This morning, I was totally on her side. Seriously. Can you believe the nerve of that kid leaving her for her daughter? After Mrs. Robinson totally rescues him from his boring-ass summer, he goes on ONE DATE with the dipshit hippy daughter and then... he totally sells out Mrs. R. for a chance at some younger tail. No respect.
The daughter is a moron, although I really like her boots when she's walking around Berkeley breaking Dustin Hoffman's heart. Oh, and she chews with her mouth open, which is gross. Anyway - I fell asleep before the end, but I'm pretty sure there's still a big scene with a bus and a car and a church or something, and Mrs. Robinson not only doesn't get the boy, she gets stuck with a big bill for a wedding.
I'm thinking that future holidays and get-togethers with the in-laws are going to be awkward. Guess that's why there was never a sequel.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
When I was little, women went to the beauty parlor. In their Parlors of Beauty, there were no boys allowed. They had their hair washed and set in big curlers. They sat under giant dryers with ashtrays and movie magazines for half the afternoon. The hairdo was intended to last a whole week. This meant that they had a big wardrobe of see-through scarves that they’d snug around their perfectly set head and tie under their chin if leaving the house or doing something active, like buying cigarettes or sleeping. Scarves, besides being a super fly fashion accessory, kept wind and pesky creatures from messing up your ‘do so that it would last all the way until church on Sunday. For as you know, the Lord appreciates a tidy head.
Hair that had been to the beauty parlor required attention. Most styles involved long hair piled up like a wedding cake on your head. Combined with a “spit curl” pasted to each cheek, the up-do was the pinnacle of small town farm wife style. I’m not sure how men in those days kept their hands to themselves.
Several local ladies kept their spit curls taped down all day with pale pink tape made by the Goody company especially for this purpose. I can only assume that the tape was removed at some point for special occasions, but I figured asking about the pink tape was akin to asking why women needed their own designated napkins. Not something my young ears needed to hear.
There are still women walking around with 1970s set hair. I suppose it could be that they’re holding on to the past. Afterall, just looking in the mirror at their spectacularly crafted head and perfectly taped spit curls links them straight back to 1970, when they were young and beautiful, cigarettes were sexy, and a martini while pregnant was good for the nerves. Aquanet bad for the ozone? What the hell is the ozone?
Or could it be that regardless of the maintenance such beauty requires, Betty and Mildred and Rosemarie are positive that this is indeed the style made just for them? They’re confident that they look better this way than any other. Who needs a unisex ‘salon’ with their male hairdressers and current looks? Wash-n-wear hair? No. Thank. You. Give me the beehive and just the beehive and be on your way, Sergio.
Which brings me to my point:
I am going to wear my polo shirts with the collar up until the end of time and ain’t you or nobody else gonna stop me. I look really cool that way.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I had occasion this weekend to visit the city where I grew up. "City" is a bit of an overstatement, actually. It's a small community on the high plains east of Denver that originated around train tracks and a grain elevator. When I was young, there was a K-12 school, a grocery store, coupla' gas stations and a liquor store. One of our favorite treats available locally was Boone's Farm "wine" - a delicious alcoholic kool-aid made from apples and heroin. The flavors included Strawberry Hill, Apple Blossom, Country Kwencher (yes, that is the correct spelling) and my personal favorite, Tickle Me Pink. Which tasted, well, pink. The best indicator of the quality of this product, besides the ability to purchase an 8 pack with a 10 spot, was the tagline at the bottom of the label - SERVE VERY COLD.
The town has grown some and now boasts a fancy chain grocery store (with Starbucks!) and a shopping center with a brand-spankin' new liquor store. I went in simply to get some beers for the weekend, but imagine my delight when my eye was drawn to the bottom shelf of an otherwise respectable wine department...and there, in all it's screw-top glory, was my old friend Boone's Farm. I bought the Strawberry Hill flavor just to see if I'd get carded. I didn't.
When the enthusiastically mascara-ed homegrown 22-year-old rang it up and saw that it was $1.99 (Curse this damned recession!) she said, "DANG...That's a good deal!" And I said, "Y'know, I bet if you put it in the cooler, you could charge like $2.49 or something." And she agreed.
--According to the Boonesfarm Fan website:
"Regarded by most as the king of all flavors of Boone’s Farm, Strawberry Hill has a rich, vibrant strawberry flavor with a just a hint of hill."
Be sure to visit the site and read the review of Blue Hawaiian... http://www.boonesfarm.net/index_files/Page473.html
So, Saturday I get up early (because there was sun poking me in the eye, not really because I wanted or needed to) and got the family ready to spend all morning at a swim meet for the boys. While lots of kids, including mine, kick ass, we also cheer for six year olds hanging from the ropes and nearly drowning in a revised freestyle dog paddle type of movement. This requires supplies.
I packed towels and energy bars, chapstick and sunscreen and then was greeted by Son Number One coming down the stairs clutching his stomach. Apparently he was dying. Sad, I know, but someone needed to feed the dogs and get his ass to the swim meet, so I overlooked the dying part and pushed forward with the day. This kid can swim. He’s brown and musclely and looks cool with water beading up across his broad back while doing one of the prettiest fly strokes you’ve ever seen a kid do – but he invariably gets nerves before a meet, so I chalked it up to that and pretty much ignored him.
Number Two Son and husband (Big Dude Little Glasses) joined us, and before long we were poolside. Number one kept complaining about the tummy, and added that it hurt to breathe…which is when I started feeling a teensy bit guilty for dragging him out to win mommy another ribbon. But he did his warm-ups, and his first race, a 50 meter fly. Won it. One race down, two to go. Number Two Son competed in a 25m fly, won it, then did a 50m free. Even though he completely forgot it was a 50 meter race until he’d already rested for 5 seconds on the wall, he still won it. Now Number One was back up for a 100 meter freestyle. He swam it, he won it by a tenth of a second to a slippery kid who was at least 40 pounds lighter than he is. They shook hands and then, while still in the water, he looked my way. And his lip quivered. And large, sloppy tears started falling down his smooth tan cheeks.
He walked as quickly as he could over to us, and without looking directly at anyone, fell dramatically on a blanket, and covered his head with a towel. His big brown body start to shake and sob and I could hear him struggling to breathe. Great. I killed him. Joining him under his towel, I learned it felt like there was a knife in his lungs everytime he breathed in. Super. Mommy o’ the year, I am. My mind raced through every possible diagnosis. Bruised diaphragm, exploded spleen, popped lung, asthma, gall bladder attack, appendicitis, lung cancer – oh crap, he has lung cancer! This is when I told Big Dude Little Glasses we were leaving for the emergency room.
In the car, I phoned our very cool friend who happens to run the ER at the hospital closest to our house. It’s a great facility, but it’s even better for kids b/c it’s super close to the real children’s hospital, which means no one ever takes kids there. By the time we arrived, she was on the phone with the attending folks and we were greeted by the nicest 6'5" male pediatrician in cow-covered scrubs you’re likely to meet.
He went through all the typical questions, looked puzzled and ordered chest x-rays. A-ha. It IS lung cancer. I wondered silently when this kid had taken up smoking – or if he was sneaking out and hanging out in jazz clubs. (That'd be my genes.)
The helpless feeling while watching your child get x-rays is hard to explain. Strangers in a dark room expose your scared baby to radiation, and you must remain behind a wall with a little window for YOUR safety. Not exactly how the mama-bear instinct usually plays out. The boy was scared, and asked in between xrays if he was going to need surgery.
I turned around at one point and saw the skeleton of my strong and giant boy up on a monitor and had a weird flashback to seeing the first pictures of him on ultrasound. His glowing little ribs and perfect symmetry of hips… but there were some scary black spots – one on the right and down low. I assumed appendix, swallowed hard and followed him back to the examination room.
After a big dose of immodium mixed with Maalox – YUM – the boy was starting to look a little ragged and green. The fluorescent lights exaggerated big dark circles under his eyes and he asked if it was okay if he lay down. That was it – I would be sleeping in this hospital tonight while rallying friends to start a dinner circle for my family.
As I lay my head back against the wall to feel really sorry for myself, the doc entered the room.
Cool Cow-Covered Doc: “Well…the xrays look good.”
My secret thought: “Uh, dude – did you see the big huge bursting appendix – the spotty lungs? Geez, I shoulda gone to the children’s hospital…”
Cool Cow-Covered Doc: “And, everything else looks really good.”
Me outloud: “So...???”
Cool Co- Covered Doc: “He’s dehydrated. And, really constipated. The xrays show a lot of backed up waste. Does he poop regularly?”
Okay –wait. He’s 11. Please, please, ask HIM the poop questions. You’re just embarrassing us both. Seriously, Cow-Jammies.
I gathered myself and explained that I no longer join him in the restroom, but am assuming by the ½ hour visits and subscription to Sports Illustrated that is delivered directly to his bathroom that yes, he is indeed, pooping.
The conversation went on, the boy was given a Gatorade, orders to drink more water, and finally, his walking papers.
As I walked with him out of the big automatic doors, I looked at the satisfied child, relieved that he wasn't going under the knife, and realized that we had just been given the diagnosis of “Ma’am, your boy here is full of shit.”