Like Fine Wine

My mother doesn’t throw away anything. I know this is a common theme with moms – saving memorabilia from life events, family vacations, and preschool art projects, but my mom takes it to a whole new level. If I am ever in need of an unusual object, I ask my mom if she has it before running to Target. My husband used to be surprised by this, but over the years he has come to appreciate it. I remember going to a Hawaiian themed party years ago and telling him to call my mom to see if she had grass skirts and leis. He thought I was crazy until he made the call and discovered that she had both items, and in fact had a grass skirt small enough for our then two year old daughter. Not only does she have everything, she usually has multiples.

Unfortunately, her aversion to throwing things out also carries over to the contents of her pantry and refrigerator. This has been an ongoing theme for my family since I can remember. I have always checked the expiration dates knowing that salad dressings found in my parents’ refrigerator could be up to five years old. It takes years to get through a bottle since there are about twenty seven varieties available at all times. I recall helping my dad move their previous fridge out to the garage and finding a bottle of bleu cheese dressing from the 90s as well as a thirty year old bottle of peppermint schnapps in the door. I think we ended up throwing out half of the contents of the refrigerator that day after discovering condiments that somehow migrated from the previous appliance from the 80s. My mom was out of town during this event or I’m sure half of the items purged would have somehow found their way to the new refrigerator.

My mom’s aversion to discarding anything is most evident at their lake house. This second home has become the dumping ground for everything she can’t bear to part with, but can no longer keep at their main home without appearing crazy. I have to admit, I have taken advantage of this storage space myself when I discovered that I was unable to discard things like my daughter’s first doll house, the one she played with a total of three hours in her life. I have since moved a handful of toys to the “playroom” at the lake house where no children ever play. I would have put all of this stuff in the basement, but that part of the house is packed with enough Christmas decorations to light up the block. There may also be a unicycle rolling around down there.

I always think of the lake house refrigerator as a relatively safe place since the house was purchased just eight years ago and isn’t used all that frequently. My thought is that perishables are purchased in smaller sizes and used quicker. This apparently is not the case. We sat down to dinner last week, and my husband, as he has become accustomed to doing, flipped over the bottle of mustard to check the date before opening it. He announced that the mustard had expired the previous year. My mom immediately ran to the refrigerator, declaring she had another bottle. Of course she had multiple bottles – there are close to thirty bottles of salad dressing in her other refrigerator. As she handed him the new yellow bottle, he flipped it over to reveal an expiration date in 2017. She didn’t give up, but returned with yet another bottle. He looked at the bottom of the third bottle to find another two year old expiration date. As my mom stood racking her brain for the last time she bought condiments I delved into the refrigerator to see what other toppings I could find for the burgers. I discovered mayo that expired in 2018 and miracle whip that expired in 2017. Apparently my mom stocked up on the condiments in 2015 and 2016 but hasn’t done so since. It makes sense, when you can’t fit any more plastic bottles of goo in your fridge doors, you stop buying.

In the end, the burgers were so good they didn’t even need toppings. My mom smeared some dill dip on her bun, my daughter and husband had plain ketchup and I ate mine with nothing at all. Who knows if my dad even noticed. He probably used the expired mustard or some twelve year old steak sauce. He is immune to expired food at this point. My mom has been pumping him full of month old lunch meat and eight year old salad dressing for years.

**I wrote this piece while listening to music as old as the salad dressing in my parents’refrigerator – Milo Goes to College

It’s Raining Men

I went to a male review this weekend. The word review has a bad connotation for me. I think of my former job and the dreaded performance reviews that were meaningless and painfully boring. The feeling that comes along with that word has not changed – I still feel a little nauseous, and now maybe like I need a shower. I’m also a little confused about why these shows are called a review. I didn’t get any score card to fill out. Maybe it is more of a review for the audience about what the correct body parts are or what a guy is supposed to look like naked. Either way, review is not a word that makes me jump up and say “I want to go to that!” Yet I did.

I have never been to a male review so I didn’t have a reference point. I haven’t even seen the movie Magic Mike, but I have seen quite a few memes with a bunch of half naked dancing dudes, so that was pretty much what I expected. This particular show was a group of touring performers, so I assumed the guys would meet a certain standard. None of my expectations were met. I felt like maybe the club owner walked onto the street and stopped random guys leaving the gym to see what they were doing that night. By gym, I mean the local YMCA. Oh, and he only found four guys. That’s fine though, the audience/performer ratio was still 5 to 1.

The audience consisted of a very drunken bachelorette party, a group of gay guys and their fag hags and us. The bachelorette and her posse were all wearing tight white dresses, and one of them was roughly the size of half of our group. She turned out to be the only member of the audience who really appreciated the attention from the dancers – so much in fact that she ended up on the stage with them more than once with her cell phone recording all of the incriminating evidence. The stripper/comedian on stage referred to these ladies as the “wasted white wedding” and us as “the sober divorce club” since we were the only patrons still able to stand up unassisted. He had no clever name for the gay guys which surprised me because I had about twelve. One of the gays was wearing a flannel shirt and what appeared to be a toupee. I had a half hour commentary about that guy alone before even looking at his companions.

Maybe the best part of the night was that we actually watched these yahoos setting up for the show. We arrived an hour after doors opened, right as a group of guys was hanging up a giant blanket on the back of the stage. This blanket was the highlight of the show. It was covered in dancing lights that mesmerized me for a full hour while half naked smarmy guys in cowboy hats danced around. It was magical. I spent the better part of the night trying to figure out how to remove this masterpiece from the stage and get it into my car without getting tackled by a shirtless guy with half a boner. I decided the odds were against me and left empty handed.

At one point my girlfriend turned to me and asked “where do you think they get these outfits?” My reply was “Walmart. Definitely Walmart.” They fit right in with the venue though. It was like a VFW hall outside of a trailer park. At one point I reached under my chair to move it and stuck my hand in something sticky. The makeshift bar may or may not have been on wheels and the ladies room was right outside of the dressing room for the dancers where they could be heard getting changed. At least they had a professional sound system or we may have missed all that witty banter from the guy with crooked teeth and cornrows. He announced he was from the south. No really!?

I was surprised at how many dances occurred with less than a half dozen men performing. They had group dances, individual dances, costume changes and even a few props. I think it was as entertaining as it could be given what they had to work with. From my understanding, a male review is supposed to be somewhat fantasy inducing, and my mind was definitely wandering. Unfortunately, my mind was reeling with questions like “I wonder how adonis ended up here, did he want to be a Juliard trained dancer but just couldn’t cut it?” or “I wonder if any of these guys were actually in the armed forces. Does putting on the military vest cause them to suffer PTSD?” or “who the hell picked this music? I heard the same songs at Drag Queen Bingo!” I mean seriously, when the song that is played repeatedly is pretty much the drag queen anthem, you have picked the wrong music to dance to.

When the country song came on, it was time to leave. I can only endure so much. Unfortunately, I think half of the audience was just waiting for someone to make the first move. I didn’t have to be asked twice. As soon as one of my friends made the “let’s bolt” face, I was at the door waiting. As we exited, the bachelorette party stumbled out behind us. A few other stragglers followed as well.The dancers were left with the gays and their crew which I think was right up their alley.

The woman who planned this event apologized profusely as we walked to our cars and we all assured her that the comic value made it a worthwhile night. She ended with saying “maybe we should stick to the arts and crafts…” Somehow I think we are going to end up in some DIY studio and they will also be playing “It’s Raining Men”.

**Photos have been withheld from this piece to protect the innocent.

There are only a few guys I want to see sweaty on a stage and Henry Rollins is one of them


You Make Me Wanna Puke

I’m beginning to wonder if a few days with me makes my family sick. Every other time we go out of town or spend a long weekend together we all end up sick. I mean, I get it – I make myself a little sick on a regular basis, but it would be great to spend some time together without having to worry which one of them is going to start throwing up first. I would like to say I am not the cause of it, but I seem to always be the last one to catch whatever plague takes down our house. I spend the first few days after vacation taking care of the other two and then my mom has to take over babysitting while I barf for a day uninterrupted. I attribute this to me having a higher tolerance for myself than my other family members.

The last few times we have gone away for a short weekend have both been to water parks. I know those pools are giant petri dishes so I can’t say I am surprised by our illnesses. What does shock me a little is that my husband always gets it the worst. I would think my daughter would be the one to ingest the most pee from the water slides. Go figure.

The worst part about the illness that wiped us out this time around was that it struck on my daughter’s eighth birthday almost to the hour in which she was born. We returned home from our mini-vaca and went out to dinner with her grandparents to celebrate this monumental milestone. Mini-me decided against getting a cake which should have been a clue that something was amiss. This kid loves cake like Charlie Sheen loves cocaine and hookers.

By the time my 8.01 year old was getting into bed, she was complaining about a stomach ache. She lasted about 15 minutes before she started throwing up. I don’t think anyone in our house slept more than a half hour at a time the entire night. For me it was similar to the night I gave birth to her, and many nights after. Luckily, the wee one recovers quickly like her mom and was done barfing within 24 hours. Her father on the other hand has been down for the count for several days. He ended up at urgent care having bags upon bags of fluid pumped into his veins. I attribute this to his inability to properly process vitamin JEN since he hasn’t had a four day dose in awhile.

I’m trying not to take this too personally since I know there are tons of people who encounter me daily who don’t get sick. I guess I am like good chocolate – a little is awesome, but too much may make you hurl for a day or two. Maybe I should get a little consumer warning sign to carry around with me, or better yet a tattoo of the side effects of my sparkling personality. Until then my family is going to have to learn to toughen up or take me in smaller doses.

I wrote this blog while convalescing and listening to the Queers!!

Not a Hairpiece

If I have learned one thing as a parent it is that anything I say that I do not want repeated will be repeated, and probably in public. Having a child is a lot like having a parrot. A very drunk parrot. Since I am usually the parent listening in horror as my child talks about the lazy neighbor who never brings in his recycling bin in front of said neighbor, I am always amused to hear other people’s children do the same thing.

Luckily I get to hear all kinds of amusing bits of information from kids every week. I tutor first through sixth graders one day a week for an hour, and I am pretty sure I learn more from them than they do from me. Unfortunately, most of the things I learn from them are embarrassing stories about their parents or siblings. I know all about the mom who farted in the grocery store and the sibling who broke a window and blamed it on his friend. Sometimes I cringe at the stories as I think about what my daughter is probably telling one of her teachers about me. Then I remember that most of the stories my daughter is sharing I have probably already written about. I have no shame.

Yesterday, while tutoring, my 2nd grade student told me about how some boys are mean to her in school. She said one pushed her and another kissed her ear. I was thinking to myself how much her thinking would probably change about the ear kisser by the time she reaches high school. Today, however, she was thoroughly disgusted by a boy’s lips on her ear. She told me she had to go home and wash her ear. The kissing bandit had her pretty agitated. She looked me right in the eye when she said “Boys are gross. They all have HERPES!” I almost fell right out of my chair before I asked if she meant cooties. Her reply was “that’s it. I always say that word wrong.”

I’m not so sure I am qualified to teach sex education, but this guy is:

I Can’t Quit You

The quietest sauna in this zip code!

We finally cancelled our gym membership after complaining about the place for a year. We were paying a small fortune to change in filthy locker rooms, shower with mold and get hit on by hairy old fat men in the co-ed sauna. I know that last one might seem like a perk to some people, but seriously, I have been given the head to toe eyeball by an old man that I thought was wearing a sweater in the sauna. It was, in fact, just back hair. Not just any back hair – grey back hair, and lots of it. At least I didn’t have to see him later in the locker room, unlike my husband.

When I went to the membership desk to cancel, the woman behind the counter asked me why. I said “where do I start?” before launching into my three page list of reasons. She stopped me after every few reasons on the list to tell me what her solution was. I have to give her credit – she didn’t even have to read from a script and some of her solutions were not completely terrible. For instance, she said that she could ask the cleaning staff to clean the locker rooms. What a concept! I told her ultimately they can clean the locker rooms, keep an eye on the sauna and police the training area where people blare dance music on their phones, but they can’t change their clientele and that is their biggest problem. I pointed out that they had signs posted over all of the drinking fountains that read “Do not spit in the water fountain!” I don’t want to share space with people who don’t know that it’s not okay to spit in the drinking fountain.

First they lift, then they spit!

I know I have kind of high standards and some of the things that got my panties all bunched up didn’t affect my husband in the least (the old dudes in the sauna for instance). He complained about very few things – mostly the fact that he could never find a parking space and that every time he went to put his water bottle in a cup holder there was a wad of gum occupying the space. Strangely, I never noticed gum in the cup holders, but I once found some in the bottom of a locker. He was also sick of smelling weed in the locker room and finding the source of the smell in the form of a gaggle of twenty year old “boys” hanging out in the sauna talking about their many sexual conquests. I’m sure all their stories were true. I mean they were hanging out in a sauna, half naked with a bunch of other dudes on a saturday night. Plus, they were talking about what studs they were, so clearly they must be!

We only have a few weeks left before our membership expires and I am getting every penny worth in these last few weeks. I have been at that place for a few hours a day every day of the week, Of course I am turning into a gym rat two weeks before bailing. I noticed last week that the water fountain signs have been removed. The locker rooms and showers are still filthy, but the life guards have been patrolling the sauna. I haven’t seen my friend with the sweater, so maybe he was told his presence was a health code violation.

While I was walking out of the gym last week a couple was walking through with a salesman. They were asking about parking and stated that it was difficult for them to find a place at 8 pm the first part of February. The salesman responded “yeah, parking in January is hard because everyone goes to the gym after the new year. It gets better.” I know that after the first of the year I have a hard time remembering what year it is, but this poor sucker was stuck In January. As I passed by I looked right at the couple and said “It’s not any better in June!” Sometimes I just can’t help myself.

This post was brought to you by coffee and the Beastie Boys!!