Thursday, April 29, 2010

An unglamorous mom's open letter to men...


If you don’t watch “Mad Men” on AMC, then bless your heart! You just don’t know what you’re missing. This show follows the fictional employees of a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the early 1960’s, and I am suffering through reruns of “Mythbusters” and “America’s Funniest Videos” just waiting for the new season to start at the end of the summer. It’s smart, unpredictable, and has many times left me with my jaw hanging open. There is so much to love about this series, but I can sum up my favorite part in two words: Christina Hendricks. She is the witty, red-headed, alpha female bombshell in the office, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her.

Christina appeared in the latest edition of “Esquire” magazine and admitted to a love of chocolate covered bacon. (Maybe instead of being like her, I’ll just marry her.) She also penned an open letter to men, sort of giving them the inside scoop on what to do and what not to do when it comes to scoring points with women. I’ll have to be honest, though. I truly thought the only people reading “Esquire” magazine were unmarried, 25 – 33-year-old metro sexual men who live in Manhattan. Evidently, I must be wrong, because I have heard her interview hotly discussed on the internet, radio and television this week.

For as much as I love Christina, the way a super-hot celebrity views men and the way a middle-aged mom in a small, Southern town views men are drastically different. I thought I would take her suggestions to men and un-glam them for those of us sitting in the carpool line with modest bank accounts.

“We love your body.” Hmmm, not so much sometimes. If your belly is showing the effects of a few too many macaroni and cheese-laden church pot luck dinners, and your shirtless back frequently causes you to be mistaken for Sasquatch from behind, then we probably don’t always love your body. However, we still love what is inside, so you have that going for you.

“We remember forever and We remember everything” you say about our bodies and other women. First of all, if you are stupid enough to be talking about how attractive another woman is to you, guess what? Once you regain consciousness, you won’t be around long enough for it to matter. Period. No, I won’t “file the comment away under ‘Women He Finds Attractive’” and then try to emulate her. If I decide to let you hang around, I will throw your comment back in your face each chance I get. (Although to my husband’s credit, he has never publicly admitted that there is another woman in the world better looking than I am. He’s a fast learner.)

“Remember what we like.” It would certainly make me smile if a guy remembered that my favorite flower is the tulip or that I’m obsessed with British history, but this is what is more important: Remember to take out the garbage. Remember to call and reschedule the dentist appointment. Remember to put the lid down. Remember to start the dishwasher. Remember to feed the pets. Remember to bring the laundry downstairs. I can live without flowers, but I hate to run out of underwear. And speaking of underwear…

“Panties is a wonderful word.” If you are a man, do not EVER say panties around me. Ever. You will instantly become Mr. Creepy to me. A mom can say the word to her toddler/pre-school daughter, but no man can roll that word off his tongue without sounding like a pedophile. It’s a little girl’s word.

“We want you to order scotch.” Actually, I want you to order water so that I can order scotch, and you can drive us home. After a day filled with homework, breaking up fights, cooking dinner, yard work and house work, what I find sexy is not a man drinking scotch. It’s a man who is cleaning up dog poop and emptying the dishwasher.

“No shorts that go below the knee and Also, no tank tops.” Although I completely agree with her on this one, what matters more to me is that you know which laundry pile your shorts and shirts belong in, and that you start the washing machine when it’s full of them.

“No man should be on Facebook.” I’m going to rephrase this one to “No man should be on Facebook instead of outside mowing the lawn.”

“Marriage changes very little.” This is mostly true if you really know your partner before the wedding. I will add to this, though, that “Having Children Changes Everything”, but she has yet to discover that pearl of wisdom.

I won’t fault Christina for her fairy-tale like list. She doesn’t live in the land of mini-vans, PTO meetings and meat loaf. Hey, we can’t all be domestic divas. I’m willing to bet that more than one soccer mom, down on her hands and knees scraping unidentified goo off the kitchen floor, would willingly trade places with her for a day…or maybe Christina just doesn’t know what she’s missing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

She's still preoccupied with 1985


Seeing my neighbor in her beautiful prom dress the other day and the ensuing conversation with her mother over crinolines, hoop skirts and the general lameness of our own high school fashion statements, I couldn’t help but to drift back in my mind to my own eleventh grade formal. I’ve been to plenty of dances in my lifetime, but I’ve always kept the details of that event at the front of my brain because, once again, I managed to work a boatload of stupid into what should have been one of the highlights of my high school years.

It was 1985, and the Junior/Senior Prom was just two days away. As was customary at our school, we juniors were charged with decorating the school gym for the occasion. And yes, we actually had our dance in the gym. (This is Small Town, South Carolina, people. We are nothing if not quaint, right?) Normally, I stayed away from activities that might put me in direct contact with a cheerleader, but my best friend, a social butterfly, dragged me kicking and screaming into the decorating committee. (I find it completely ironic that I would have aligned myself with a giggly, smiling social butterfly when I am more closely likened to a gray moth sitting idly for hours on a gray wall, pretending to be invisible.)

After a couple of mind-numbing hours decorating, I would have gladly stuck a fork in my eye rather than spend another excruciating minute in that gym ripe with paint, crepe paper and a bunch of, like, totally gnarly go-getters. A mutual guy friend volunteered to take the two of us home, and I was standing in the parking lot before he even finished his offer. He drove the standard issue I’m-almost-a-redneck-but-my-daddy-makes-too-much-money-to-really-be-a-redneck pick up truck, and the front seat was littered with spiral notebooks, smelly tee shirts and the stale remains of a few too many Big Mac attacks.

I climbed in first and sat in the middle. It felt like I had just taken a seat in a dumpster, although, granted, the smell was only half as bad as a public garbage can. Since I’m not a big fan of having pencils jabbed into my rear end, I reached my right arm out of the car, and grabbed onto the door frame to lift myself up in order to move the trash from underneath me. At the very same moment, my sweet, funny and sometimes not-so-attentive best friend jumped in beside me with my arm behind her and quickly closed the door…WITH MY HAND STILL HOLDING ONTO THE DOOR FRAME.

First of all, I’m sure the scene from outside the car was interesting. A black pick-up truck with four bluish-purplish fingers sticking out from the top of the passenger door frame is not something you see every day. The scene inside the car is a little fuzzy but went something like this:

Me: “Sh-Sh-Sh-Sharon!”

BFF: “What’s wrong with you?”

Me: “DOOR! DOOR!”

BFF: Looks at me like I’m a complete idiot…

Me: “HAND!”

BFF: Looks past me to the driver and gives him a look like I must have inhaled too many paint fumes…

Me: “Hand...in…door…” (My vision is starting to go black at this point.)

BFF: “OH MY GOD!!”

She quickly opened the door, and my arm fell limply to my lap. I collapsed against the seat and desperately tried to remember how to breathe. The three of us just sat there for a minute looking at my hand which, by the way, was no longer the color and shape that God had intended it to be. I’m not sure, but I think I was in shock because I started banging my hand against the dash board while proclaiming, “See? It’s not broken! If it was broken, would I be able to do this?” (I bang it some more for effect.)

It was determined by the two people in the truck who weren’t about to faint that we should drive to my brother’s house near the school because his wife was a nurse. When we arrived, I put on another “I’m-banging-my-hand-on-the-car-because-if-it’s-not-broken-it-will-be-soon” show for my sister-in-law. She said what I didn’t want to hear: “You need to have this X-rayed”.

“Great,”
I thought, “a cast is going to look so awesome in my prom pictures!” I was regaining my composure, and the reality that I was two days away from being immortalized in a party dress and finger splints was slowly sinking into my slightly shaky brain.

I ended up at the emergency room with my mom, and as luck would have it, I was taken back for X-rays by a very handsome technician who didn’t seem to be too many years older than me. He left me alone in an exam room for a few minutes after he was finished, and I took to primping the best I could without the benefit of a mirror. I plumped up my hair and ran my good hand over my face to make sure there wasn't a piece of food or stray hanger-on around the nose that might embarrass me. What I didn’t know was that somewhere between my mom’s car and being in the exam room, my working hand came to be covered in what looked like black ink, and I had just smeared it all over my face.

I heard the door open, and I was ready for that delicious X-ray guy to fall in love with me. Instead, he took one look at me and failed to hold back a chuckle when he said, “What in the world happened to your face? What have you gotten into?!” Embarrassed? Oh, yeah. The black whatever-it-was was everywhere. I looked like some Apache Warrior Princess heading off to the fire pit to do a rain dance. He gave me a wet paper towel to clean myself, and I shuffled out of the room secure in the knowledge that my hospital romance was over before it even started.

After I recovered from the “X-Ray Incident”, as it came to be known in my mind, I received the results of the tests. The good news was that my fingers weren’t broken. The bad news was that they were badly bruised and swollen and were to be dressed in fashionable (not) silver splints for a few days. Of course, there was no way I was wearing those hideous splints to the prom. Unfortunately for my date, he kept forgetting which was my crippled hand, so the night was filled with “Ouch!” and “Owwwweee!” and “I’m sorry!” And being that I was a diva from way back, you know I milked it for all it was worth.

I can laugh about it now. It’s funny how, looking back, things that are but a blip on the radar now seemed like the end of the natural world then. Honestly, I’d love to go back for just one night and live in that moment where my biggest concern was whether or not the Aqua Net hair spray I used was going to live up to its reputation as being able to withstand an atomic bomb. (It did.) Yeah, I’d go back, mangled fingers and all.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've got your old ID, and you're all dressed up like The Cure...



“Shhhhh! Do you hear that?” I said as I walked around the apartment looking for the source of the music, “It’s the Violent Femmes! I wonder where it’s coming from.” It was a Sunday evening, and my roommate and I had only been in our apartment for a week or so. We had been busy settling in, and we had yet to meet any of our new neighbors.

It was a strange mix of people in the complex. It was close enough to the university to have students as residents, but that area of town tended to be a little sketchy, so the loner next door could easily have been a drug dealer, a serial killer, or a doctoral candidate. And if you have ever been on a college campus, you know it can be a little tricky telling them apart sometimes, especially if the doctorate is in art history.

I decided that finding the other person in the neighborhood who shared my love of the Femmes was paramount at that moment, so I stepped out into the back courtyard. The sound, which, I might add, was very loud, seemed to be coming from the apartment directly behind us. So what did this stupid eighteen-year-old girl do next? I pointed and said, “Let’s go over there!” So, with a complete disregard for the fact that we could very well be raped, murdered, stuffed into a garbage bag then unceremoniously thrown into the dumpster, we decided to pay a little visit to the strangers with the awesome taste in music.

We walked right up the stairs like it was no big deal and knocked on the door. When the door opened, we were greeted warmly with smiles by the Complete Strangers inside and welcomed into the apartment. Honestly, what guy hasn’t dreamed about a couple of single girls showing up at the door unannounced, and looking for a good time? This was a dream come true for them, right?

Did it frighten me to walk into what could have been a deadly torture chamber with three strange guys taking turns violating us? Nope, I just said, “Turn up the music, and pass me a beer!” (And at forty-one, I just thank God for the discretion that comes with age.)

The apartment dwellers were a motley crew: James, the oldest, wasn’t even a student. He was ditch digger for the cable company. My nickname for him was “PT” – Power Tools! (To this day, I have no idea how he found his way into this group of college kids.) Then, there was Greg. He was super-model-skinny with a long, stringy blonde mullet and an inflection in his voice that seemed to channel Jeff Spicoli. He was from a wealthy family, and I doubt his parents were aware that his motto was “Beer first, liquor second, and school somewhere around 13 or so." Stephan, the third guy in the group, was also sporting a blonde mullet, and I’m fairly sure his role was to whine about everything and make the beer runs for us. He was in touch with his inner Cure, and had the emo thing down long before it was ever thought to be fashionable. Lastly, the apartment’s only real tenant, some artsy guy named Bruce, wasn’t even there that night, so we partied in his honor.

The next afternoon, the gorgeous weather beckoned, so my roommate and I donned our bathing suits and hit the courtyard again with our blankets, beer and music. Of course, our new pals, The Desperate Boys Club, showed up to keep us company. As we were basking in the glow of our avoidance of school and work, a voice called to us from the balcony. It was the apartment’s only paying tenant, Bruce, back from a visit home. He was in a tee shirt, ripped jeans and was rocking his own brown mullet (again with the mullets!). We invited him to join us, and I can only speculate that the moment he laid his eyes on this pasty white slacker with big hair and too much lip gloss, Sculptor Guy decided he could never live without me.

Actually, that wasn’t quite the case. Sure, he was enamored of me, smitten even, but there was one little problem: he had a girlfriend. To most, this would have been a deal breaker. For me, it was a challenge. When I want something, you need to kindly step out of my way. It will be mine. I set out on my course to sabotage this doomed relationship by “accidentally” leaving my things in his apartment and generally being completely darling and irresistible while making sure he saw more of me and less of her. The poor girl didn't stand a chance.

It worked. (Really, though, did you doubt me?) My permed hair and large shoulders pads drew him in, but my sweet, Southern charm and talent for funneling beer hooked him for good. After a few years of dating and with college soon to be a memory, I told him that, in no uncertain terms, the time had come to buy me a ring and marry me. What? I’m bossy like that. He complied, and I’ve been barking out orders, and he has been pretending not to hear me ever since.

That sunny day in the courtyard when I met Bruce is as clear to me as if it happened last week. Time has marched on, and that brave (and somewhat reckless) teenage girl is nothing more than a memory. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed, but that fateful day wasn't just last week. It was April 15, 1987.  Thank God we outgrew the mullets and shoulder pads...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Well, I NEVER!!

I HAVE NEVER

...done a shot of liquor. After you’re over, say, twenty-two years old, what’s the point? Isn't it like funneling beer? If you need to get drunk that fast, then we need to talk.

...seen “Titanic”. Don't we all know how this one is going to end? Puh-leeease, Leonardo DiCaprio? He is about as sexy to me as a third grader with a chest cold, and if I hear that damn Celine Dion song one more time...

...broken up with a boyfriend. I have always been the dump-ee. (Insert sad music here.) I'll bet all of those mean boys are hating themselves today, what with my fancy blog read by all of about 5 or 6 people.

...eaten breakfast at a “breakfast” restaurant such as IHOP, Waffle House, etc. It’s hard enough to keep out of plus-sized clothing as it is. If I indulged in a plate full of pancakes, sausage, and fried eggs, I would have to fast for three days and complete the iron man triathlon to get the fat off the inside of my thighs.

...liked my name. It sounds so 1950's secretarial pool-ish, and not at all 21st century sex kitten-ish. I'm pretty sure it has been discontinued, kind of like Mildred.

...tasted Miller Lite or Pabst Blue Ribbon. Yay, me!

...watched “Survivor”, “ER”, “Dancing with the Stars”, “Gray’s Anatomy”, “Law and Order”, “Seinfeld”, “CSI” or any other show that has only letters for the title and revolves around solving murders of beautiful, yet troubled people…but am I really missing anything?

...eaten alone in a restaurant, because what does that say about you? Seriously, you couldn’t find one, single friend or loved one to eat a meal with you? Bless your heart!

...been out of the country. Bottom line: sure, Fiji may be gorgeous, but if they don’t speak my language, use my currency, or have a Target within five minutes of where I’m staying, that’s a deal breaker. If you want to see Victoria Falls or the Great Wall of China, two words: google images.

...hugged my father. He may have given me a squeeze when I was too young to remember, but I have no recollection of it ever happening. I know he would have hugged me on my wedding day if he had lived that long.

...been on a cruise. I’m sure plenty of people have never been on a cruise, but I don’t know them. My reason for avoiding a boat trip is simple. If there is a fire or other emergency (read pirates here), I don’t want my only escape route to be a plunge into shark-filled waters. That would totally ruin my day, and I am simply not a fan of the Norovirus.

...jumped off a diving board. Yes, I can swim, but why would I willingly throw myself into water that is several feet over my head? I wouldn’t. Plus, being wet sucks. (See above)

...broken any bones or needed stitches. And there you go, folks. You have just officially witnessed me jinxing myself. I will let you sign my cast tomorrow.

...worn flip flops with a dress. And I never will.

...been camping. Let’s see - bugs, wild, blood-thirsty animals, and murderous escapees from the Asylum for the Criminally Insane are just a few of the reasons I refuse to sleep outdoors protected only by a thin piece of nylon. Oh, and scorpions. If I want to become one with nature, I would just...hmmm, actually, I don't really want to become one with nature. Ever.

...kissed a girl. When I was younger, straight girls didn't usually go around kissing other straight girls for kicks as I have witnessed on late night infomercials starring Joe Francis and hot co-eds. Girls kissing girls seems down right fashionable these days. Weird, but when I was single, girls thought wearing Izod shirts and add-a-bead necklaces was fashionable.

...bared my soul before like I have with this blog.   It's waaaaay scarier than scorpions...