Monday, May 24, 2010

And she didn't even charge me a co-pay.

Real live conversation I just had with neighbor Spanxy.

Spanxy: Do you feel better yet?

Me: Nope. But I slammed some theraflu and whiskey last night and antibiotics today. It's mostly just in my throat.

Spanxy: Oh my gosh, do you still have your tonsils?

Me: Yes.

Spanxy: THAT'S IT! They're a breeding ground for germs. You gotta get rid of them.

Me: My dad had his removed, and they grew back.

Spanxy: Yeah, so did Mr. Spanxy. But no one noticed because he's a middle child.

Me: I'm a middle child. Maybe that's why I have tonsils.

Spanxy: Well. You can't get them out now. You'll die.

Me: I'll die?

Spanxy: Yeah. Only kids can handle it.

Me: So, don't get them out?

Spanxy: Nope. You're too old. But hurry and get better, we've got a holiday weekend coming up.

Me. Right. Okay. I will.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flashback Friday. Marriage is a solemn occasion that must be taken seriously.

Unless you're 22 years old. And it's Valentine's Day. And you're in a small town in Northeastern Colorado. And you're a bridesmaid in a shiny pink satin dress, white nylons and pink frickin shoes that cost $20 for the shoes and $20 to dye them craptastic pink. Also some strange white piece of shit in your hair, and mandatory-nail-polish-assigned-by-the-bride.

In that case, right before the solemn ceremony, you should high-tail it to the one liquor store in town, get a quart of beer and ask an old cowboy guy to take your picture. Then, jump in your Toyota Tercel, drink the quart of beer without dripping too much of it on your dress and get your asses over to the church.

Where the bride is also burping beer. At 10 AM. But that might possibly be leftover burps from the night before. I'm not sure.

Hard to imagine, but the marriage didn't last five years. Go figure.

My pal Connie and me in all our pinkness. She's the one with Miller Lite. And dimples.

Postscript - I was also invited, that same Valentine's Day, to another wedding that I couldn't make due to my obligation to wear a shiny pink dress elsewhere. That sacred union lasted less than two years. Note to the Internet: Please don't get married on Valentine's Day. When you're 22. The end.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No one ever considers the orphans.

I was watching American Idol with the giant middle schooler last night, and a contestant was asked, "How does it make you feel to see your parents supporting you like that?" Which made me think, "Hey - maybe I should get a job writing questions with really obvious answers for Ryan Seacrest, because that's just moronic."  Why not ask, "So - how'd you feel when you had that safe dropped on your foot?" Or, "What were you thinking when your oxygen tank ran out of air while you were 500 feet below the surface?"

Anyway, as I'm writing my cover letter to Randy Jackson in my head (because really, Simon just has short-timers disease and probably isn't even opening his mail anymore) the contestant answered the question.

"It's amazing. To know that my parents support me in my dream is just the best feeling in the world."

To which the giant middle schooler said, "Nice job, dude. You just made a thousand little orphans really, really sad."

And that's when I knew, even though I could really contribute to the teleprompted genius of Ryan Seacrest, my work here is more important.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cross walks. Cross dressers. Hot cross buns. It's been a busy day.

I live in a very, very doggy neighborhood. Just about everyone has at least one dog, several neighbors on my block have three or more dogs. Because we all have older homes on small lots, dogs are spoiledy-rotten house dwellers who get to go on walks a lot.  The few times Big Dude's labradorks have gotten out of the yard, they are not only scooped up and rescued within half a block, they're often taken back to someone's house and fed a nice warm meal before we are contacted. A couple of years ago, the big black labradork was missing for more than 24 hours without his tags on. While we were visiting every pound and dog morgue in the city, he was languishing on a floral sofa, being catered to by a pack of Girl Scouts who had found him, bathed him, fed him pizza, taken him to the vet for a check-up and were working on rewriting their parents' wills so that he might inherit a goodly chunk for his future care.

At any given time, I can look out at the parkway steps from my house and see doggies on leashes, doggies tied to strollers, doggies riding in strollers, doggies trotting next to runners, etc. And, generally, without fail, these dogs all have the same trick that owners proudly demonstrate.

It's the You-Sit-On-The-Curb-While-I-Step-Off-It trick. I agree that the intent is a good one. It allows the owner to check for oncoming traffic, and teaches Fluffy or Fido to not run in front of a car. However, my observation is that most people only make their dog do this if there's already a car at the stop sign. Which means, they're basically just showing off. "See here, car? What my St. Labradoodleshire knows? How to sit! Please wait while I reinforce his training on your clock."

And I patiently wait and nod with a knowing, "Wow, that's a super dog you have there, and what an original trick!" smile on my face.

This morning, though I saw the ultimate.

I was dropping the giant middle schooler off at his giant middle school. He hopped out of the car just as the light turned green, and I needed to turn right. But I couldn't turn right because Dudely Dogwalker wanted to cross the street and Denver says pedestrians in crosswalks have the right-of-way. FINE.  Please let me now paint you a picture of Dudely Dogwalker. Imagine if you will:

1. Dorothy Hamil haircut
2. Liza Minelli sunglasses. Large. Like 5" circles per lens.
3. White mesh tank top. Tight.
4. Levi's cutoffs, with an approximately 3/4" inseam. Again, tight. As in, I know for a fact he was circumsized tight.
5. Striped knee socks. Red and yellow striped.
6. Those Skecher shoes that are supposed to work your ass out.
7. Mesh backpack.
8. At least 6'8" tall, approximately 167 pounds.

Can you see this fella in your mind? Got it? Add a bitchy smirk. And a sweet little yellow lab who was in desperate need of a sandwich. The image should now be complete.

So Mr. Dudely "My friends call me Cameltoe" Dogwalker pulls the ultimate trick by parking the dog on one sidewalk and then sashaying across the street. Alone. At a snail's pace. With his carefully powdered nose in the air, completely ignoring the dog, the fifteen cars waiting to turn, and his gender. He then makes it to the other side of the street and, still not ever looking at the dog OR traffic, looks up to the sky and slaps himself on the denimed ass. This was apparently the leashless, collarless dog's clue to run to him.

The only reason his dog is alive is because I didn't feel like having to furminate my front bumper.  The only reason I didn't get out to kick his ass is because I had fourteen cars behind me. And pajama pants on.

But tomorrow I'm totally getting dressed and bringing an extra leash. Being weird-looking to get attention is one thing, endangering your doggy so that you can feel special is just plain wrong.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2010 - 1960 = FIDDY GOLDEN YEARS.

(Spoiler Alert: If you're my Mom, don't read this until after the FedEx man comes.)

Today is the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my parents. Happy Anniversary Mommy and Daddy!

It doesn't seem entirely possible, for a number of reasons - probably first on the list is that they just don't seem that old. If you ask me, they're in their late 50s or early 60s...then I do the math and guess that must not be right. Secondly, people just don't stay married that long anymore - you don't hear about "Golden Anniversaries" that much. And we marry parents were barely out of their teens when they tied the knot. But, I suppose they've been married as long as I've known them and that's forty-three twenty-eight years, so it must be true.

Last year, I wrote an abbreviated history of their marriage. This year, I commissioned a poster. Totally what everyone does right? Okay, so it's not typical. But I really love it and I hope they do, too.

My friend, the extremely talented Jonathan Scheele, is a master of travel posters and poster art. Since he is far and away the best illustrator I've ever met next to my Dad,  I asked him to create a retro-looking poster honoring my parents.  Now, I suppose that really it should be only about them, being all romantical or something - but some of the best memories of my childhood are my parents showing us the world around us on the open road.  We got dirty and saw the natural wonders of our country, close to home and far away. And I love them for that. We ate berries that were probably poisonous. We took ungodly long hikes. We drank mineral water as it bubbled from rocks. We read every. single. roadside. marker. My sisters and I are masters of peeing outside. We spent hours whittling sticks with little souvenir shop pocket knives and roasted countless marshmallows. We were a family. And that is the greatest testament to them, and their marriage I think.

So - here's the poster that will be showing up on their doorstep via FedEx today. ( Mom. I said not to read it yet. Go unload the dishwasher or something.)

Jonathan did a beautiful job of representing our 1968 Plymouth Satellite and adorable Cardinal Camper that took us on our adventures.

I'm the one with ponytails. 

Happy Anniversary, Parents. You're an awesome example and funny, good people who I'm proud to be related to. Sorry I can't be there to help you celebrate. Now go eat some cake or something.

Love, Penne.

PS - the frame will be there next week.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Following in my footsteps. Sort of.

Because Bill Gates had not invented MS Word yet, penmanship was very important in my childhood. We spent hours practicing and perfecting letters, and just when we got them all down and legible, they threw cursive at us. My parents and grandparents were even more old-school and demanding than my teachers, so I was treated to extra practice at home by way of Palmer Penmanship workbooks. I remember a particularly annoying one with a rabbit on it, and I hate bunnies still to this very day.

Even after my teachers had marked up my work, it was then under scrutiny at home. My dad would point out if my letters leaned backwards, my mom would show me how all the lower case letters should be the same height. I eventually figured out it was a giant game of Copy the Shapes While Paying Perfect Attention to the Spaces Between Them and suddenly, all was good. I could write exactly like the loopy letters in the Palmer book, or exactly like George Washington, or exactly like my 4th grade teacher, or exactly like my grandmother, if she was the one who'd be looking.

I could write exactly like freakin' anybody. I realized it Friday, October 17, 1980. Our class was headed on a field trip. Everyone except my friend Connie; she'd left her permission slip at home. The wheels in my prepubescent mind started turning. I thought back to a store counter where I'd seen Connie's mom write a check. I'd noticed the simple way she wrote her middle initial, but that it was larger than her first and last names, it struck me how unflourished her writing was.  Thus, my first forgery.

I generally didn't use my skills for evil - an excused absence here, a permission slip there...and my afternoon in April when I was called to my high school office to find my mom with her tax returns. "Sign Daddy's name, and get back to class," she said under her breath.

So when I found this in the 12 year old's pocket, I just had to smile a proud smile.

"please alow (kid) on the Bus with luke. I am unable to pick him up this thurs. Thank you."

And then point out to him just how shitty his efforts were. First of all, date the thing. And seriously, you can't spell "allow?" You capitalize "Bus" but not "Luke" or "Thursday?" And what the hell kind of lame excuse for a signature is that? What does it even say?

I obviously have a lot of work to do with this kid. I'm getting him that stupid bunny book this weekend. And a nice box of Crane note cards for his backpack. Nobody forges my name on notebook paper, man.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I am pretty sure I have figured out what is wrong with kids these days. Because, oh yes, there is something wrong.

It's all the damned fantasy books.  Harry Potter and Eragon. Lightening Thieves and bands of roving cats fighting bears and those damned annoying vampires who won't go away regardless of how much garlic I sprinkle around the perimeter of my neighborhood.

When I was a short person with a valid library card, (because Amazon hadn't been invented and Kindle meant...well, something other than what it means now...) there were three fantasy books in the whole world and they were called the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. We all read The Hobbit, who was really cute and lived in a mushroom or something and then we tried to read the other ones, but they were sort of boring and weird, and more importantly - really heavy, as in they weighed more than a Judy Blume book, so we took them back.

My generation's genre of choosing was the far more routed in reality: mystery. Nancy Drew. Hardy Boys. Harriet the Spy. Encyclopedia Brown. Miss Marple. Ellery Queen. Because the stuff in those books could really happen, we grew up inquisitive, looking for clues, curious, resourceful...  Modern kids just sit back waiting for their sparkly boyfriend to beat up werewolves for them, we knew that if we wanted to find the bad guy, we'd better jump in our Camaro and find him ourselves.

TV shows were mostly about detectives too, Rockford and Magnum PI and aforementioned Hardy Boys... and it all just seemed so freaking AWESOME that I was pretty sure I was going to grow up to be a detective. Which may be the reason I spend an inordinate amount of time googling people now.  It's not stalking - I'm INVESTIGATING. Just because I happen to know the whereabouts, occupation and home value of every person my friends and I have ever dated or worked with does not mean I have too much time on my hands - it probably means I'm well informed. 

A totally unrelated side note and piece of advice to you young kids out there - to make things easier on yourself, only date people with uncommon surnames. Wendall K. Jabloney is way easier to find than Mike Smith. Just sayin.

I guess as teenagers, we moved away from the detective mystery stuff - Jackie Collins and VC Andrews were so much more tantalizing. But at least they weren't fantasy. Because it's totally possible for your rich grandmother to lock you in the attic causing you to fall in love with your biological brother while she slowly poisons you with powdered donuts. It is. Look it up.


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