The Graduate

Graduation parties are always fun because they bring together groups of people who wouldn’t normally be at the same party. You have the graduate and his friends, family, friends of the parents of the graduate as well as co-workers, neighbors and anyone else the graduate may have come into contact with over the course of their seventeen years on the planet. So you often times have people from all walks of life in the same space for a few hours. It’s kind of like being at the post office, but with cake. I attended a graduation party this summer for my cousin’s son – also known as my daughter’s favorite cousin. He has three sisters so he puts up with a lot of abuse, and he is the sweetest guy, probably because of it.

Walking in to the party there was a group of people coming up that I didn’t know. It’s not that unusual that I would run into people at my cousin’s house who I didn’t know, but one of them in particular was someone I didn’t expect to see in my life. She was a larger African American woman who could have been in the cast of “Orange is the New Black”. It took me a little bit of time in wandering around the party and catching bits and pieces of conversations to put two and two together that she was in fact an ex-convict that was one of the women that my cousin met at his previous job. He worked at a women’s correctional facility as an electrician and they had a program that taught the inmates job skills for when they were released.

I spent a lot of the time at the party shadowing my daughter as she followed the older kids around playing. Most of her cousins are older than she is so she chases them around trying to keep up for awhile. Then she finally gives up and plays with her younger male cousin who is always up for jumping on the trampoline or running around the house. I chatted with some of my cousins and walked around grazing on food.

At some point my cousin and some of his work friends came in to start doing shots in the kitchen. This is normally about the time I leave parties. I don’t drink and I don’t spend a lot of time around people who are drinking a lot unless I am at concerts, and even then, I don’t really interact with people who are drinking heavily. As I was getting my daughter prepared to leave, Crazy Eyes came walking over with my cousin in tow asking “Who is this lady? I’ve been seeing her all day and I really need to meet her.” She said this all swaying a little and smiling at me like she was the big bad wolf getting ready to devour me. My cousin introduced me and she went on to tell me how my cousin saved her life, that she would probably be out on the street if it weren’t for his help. It warmed my heart to hear that my cousin was able to help someone in this way. I had heard many of the crazy stories about the inmates and what went on behind bars. But here was a woman who he helped to guide in the right direction just by helping provide her a skill that would keep her on the straight and narrow once she was back on her own.

I was also very aware that she had been holding onto my hand the entire time she told this story and had stepped in a little closer. A little bit of liquid lubricant and a heart warming story had turned my cousin’s kitchen into a lesbian bar on 8 mile. I told her it was lovely to meet her, wished her the best of luck in her endeavors and headed for the door. It took us another twenty minutes to actually leave since my daughter had found the guest of honor and had to go sign his graduation guest book stuffed dog. They said their goodbyes as we headed out to the car. I just love graduation parties. It is truly the only place I ever get hit on by ex-convict lesbians anymore. I really am getting rather old and dull.

I wrote this piece while listening to the ” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Dropkick Murphys

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Mother of the Year Part Eleven Million and One

My daughter attends the same school that I went to as a kid. It’s a small Catholic school with many long standing traditions. At the end of school masses and functions everyone in attendance sings the school song, gouter is shared daily and there are service days and conge. Another long standing tradition is the 1:15 dismissal on Wednesdays. Growing up, Wednesday was my favorite day because my dad would pick me up from school and we would go eat french onion soup and hang out. When the weather was nice, he would pick me up on his motorcycle. Some of my fondest memories as a child occurred on Wednesdays.

My daughter has been picked up from school at 1:15 by her grandparents for the last four years. They drove to the school yesterday just like every other previous Wednesday only to find a bunch of younger children waiting to get picked up, but not their grandchild. My daughter is now in second grade which is lower school and lower school does not have early dismissal on any day. I would have known this if I had looked at things like the website, school forms or after school sign ups, but I didn’t. My memory of Wednesday afternoons with my dad was so strong that it never even occurred to me that things may have changed in the thirty years since I ran through those doors to jump on the back of his motorcycle. So everyone in my family was under the impression that my kiddo would get to spend Wednesday afternoons with her grandparents the same way I spent them with my dad, but this is not the case.

Needless to say, my parents were pretty disappointed to not be able to spend that time with their favorite person on the planet, my daughter was sad that she didn’t get to see her grandparents and I’m pretty much where I always am, screwing things up somehow. I did at least get to laugh with the faculty when I picked up my daughter at her normal dismissal time. I told them I would see them at 1:15 next week.

I wrote this while listening to The Chats.

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What’s My Name?

I’m bad with names. I always have been. I have tried to use all of the tricks they teach like using people’s name right away when you meet them or associating their name with something familiar, but those tools don’t work well for me. I think I come by it naturally. When my parents got new neighbors years ago my Dad called the man Pedro for a year. I, of course, also called him Pedro. His name is Hector. I don’t know what my mom called him for that first year, but I hope at least one of us got it right.

Sometimes I will be introduced to someone I know I want to talk to again. I will say their name over again and again in my head before I begin a conversation with them. I walk up thinking “Bob, Bob, Bob” and say “Hi Tom!” Usually Bob doesn’t really want to talk to me after that. Either does Tom. So now, unless I am absolutely sure about someone’s name I don’t use it.

I have been a little better when it comes to my daughter’s classmates. Luckily I only have a few dozen to remember and they don’t change from year to year. There are a few that I get mixed up though and it happens repeatedly. There are two girls who are equally cute but not twins by any means and every single time I see one of them the other one’s name pops in my head. My child has corrected me on this at least a dozen times and I still get it wrong. The worst part is I have now called one of the girls by the other one’s name to her mom three times. I walked right over to her yesterday and said “Oh, Riley’s desk is right across from Jillian’s” to Adlyn’s mom. She just smiled at me politely like she was happy to hear it. I had actually been on a field trip where three moms were supervising four children with Adlyn and her mom and I am still calling this poor child by the wrong name.

I also have to remind myself repeatedly while talking to any of the moms in my daughter’s class their first names because I will undoubtedly call them by their child’s name at least once. I remember when Sex in the City was popular and everyone wanted a necklace with their name on it like Carrie wore. Can we bring that back? That would be really helpful for people like me. Until then maybe I should walk around with a stack of name tags and a sharpie in my purse and label anyone who strikes up a conversation with me.

I would like to hope this is something that gets better with time, but I listened to my dad call my friend’s daughter by the wrong name for two days last week so I fear that it is probably something that is just going to get worse for me as well. I’m expecting within the next five years I will be calling my husband Kevin and my daughter Alexa and they are just going to have to get used to it.

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Cruisin’

The Woodward Dream Cruise is an annual gathering of grease monkeys, old timers reliving their glory days through metal and rubber and muscle car junkies. What started as a one day event has slowly turned into a week long series of events and traffic nightmare. People line up lawn chairs along the curb for miles waiting for the pageantry as mustangs and bitchin’ camaros burn rubber. Lime green hearses and airbrushed vans also cruise up and down the avenue as well as the occasional 1978 rusted out pinto. It is a giant pain in the ass for everyone else traveling within five square miles of the ten mile stretch for a week.

We are a car family. Fast cars. I have heard stories about my dad’s mom racing anyone who pulled up next to her in her Chevelle. Years later I did the same thing in my mustangs and porsche. I vividly recall my dad waking me up to watch the car race scene in Bullitt when I was a teenager. The rumbling of a big block engine elicits in me the same response as the aroma of chocolate chip cookies coming out of grandma’s oven.

Needless to say, my dad is all about the dream cruise and all it entails. He has rented hotel rooms for the day to have a place to keep snacks and have easy access to a bathroom for his friends and family as we sat under tents watching cars roll past for hours on end. This year he bought VIP tickets to an event at the beginning of the week called “Road Kill” which was drag racing at the northern most part of the Dream Cruise stretch. He spent an entire day with his friends watching cars peel out. He brought home souvenir foam fingers and back packs which my daughter has been carrying around for days.

He has been trying to get her as excited about cars as he and I both get with little luck. She doesn’t quite get it yet, being only seven and not having actually put the petal to the metal. She is a late bloomer in my family. I was on my first motorcycle ride at six months old and wearing my first helmet by age three. I was also driving a motorcycle by this age. This is the first summer that my kiddo has actually started to feel the need for speed. She has driven her dad’s car a few times and the wave runners on the lake.

And this year she went cruising with grandpa during the dream cruise. He picked her up on a Wednesday night in my mom’s convertible and they went driving around checking out cars for a few hours. She even took a few pictures and chatted up some of the drivers. She came home with her first dream cruise t-shirt and has been asking me to tell her stories about all of my old cars and racing. I think she has finally been inducted into the family tradition. Watch out world, here comes another little thrill seeker.

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Super Freak

My whole family took a little trip to a fun center out by my parents’ lake house this week. The venue had a ton of options including laser tag, trampolines, bumper cars, an escape room, glow in the dark golf and a big arcade. We spent the first twenty minutes trying not to trip over each other while chasing glow in the dark golf balls around the second floor. While doing so I learned two things – my golf game does not improve in the dark and my daughter has not outgrown her poor sportsmanship phase. She makes Happy Gilmore look like a the Dalai Lama. She took about a hundred swings and picked up her ball more than once, but the lights were out so apparently nobody was supposed to see her shenanigans.

While we were checking out the arcade games we noticed a group of adult men hanging around. They were playing an arcade game as if there were valuable prizes on the line for winning. I don’t know if they had perused the prize center, but it was mostly landfill and sugar. Maybe they were anxious to get their hands on a pillow shaped like a giant turd for 2,000 tickets.

As we watched these grown men walk around the place talking to groups of young boys playing games, offering advice on the best way to get their name on the winners board, my parents discussed the probability of them being pedophiles on the prowl. I was ready to agree until the largest of the men turned around and I saw his face. It looked as if someone had taken a sharpie to him after he passed out the night before and etched a thin handlebar moustache on his cheeks.  He was also wearing what appeared to be a Captain America t-shirt that only covered the top two thirds of his beer gut. I questioned whether or not a pedophile would try to draw that much attention to himself. Then again, I have seen news stories of some criminal who got caught robbing a bank due to the surveillance footage of a giant tattoo on his forehead reading “thug for life”.

Jumping on the trampoline was fun but I was quickly reminded that I am a middle aged woman who should not jump around like a teenager unless I do more kegel exercises. Every time my feet hit the floor I peed my pants a little. Some activities really should have age limits. This was one of those times I would have actually appreciated a sign to protect me from myself – specifically one that read “caution! jumping may make you wet your pants”.

Laser tag was mostly me hiding in a corner trying to outsmart my husband as he chased Riley around in the dark. I heard screams of “don’t shoot me daddy!” from across the room so of course I went to her rescue. She apparently takes laser tag even more seriously than glow golf. I hugged her as she sobbed into my blue flashing vest “Daddy just keeps shooting me. It’s not fair” which really meant “I”m not winning and this game sucks”. I promised to help her sufficiently destroy her father before the game was over. We attacked him from both sides as the door to freedom opened. 

We decided it was time to leave when we reentered the arcade and found Snidely Whiplash chatting up a couple soccer moms and their kids. We cashed in our tickets and stood around the counter as my daughter tried to decide between an emoji ball and an unnamed toy that was basically a tube of slime. She settled on a blue slime tube. I watched my daughter trying to ram her entire fist through the center of her new toy while walking to the car, and I realized what all the creepy old dudes were turning in their tickets for. This little unnamed prize was actually very similar to a sex toy for men. I guess the family fun center really does offer something for everyone. If we ever return i’m not going to argue if our pile of tickets turns into a sparkly unicorn poop pillow.

I wrote this while listening to The Melvins.

 

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