Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

Reprinting the column that appears in The Source Weekly, a Brazoria County, Texas newspaper every Thursday.

Ice Cream Engineering

I was painfully struggling to impersonate a human ball of sweat on the verge of fiery combustion at the gym recently while a friend calmly trotted along on the treadmill next to me. After several minutes, I regained consciousness long enough to realize she was having a lengthy conversation with me. About ice cream. Dairy Queen cones, to be exact. Seriously. While I’m silently paying the penalties of even thinking about foods with caloric density greater than iceberg lettuce, she’s extolling the magnificence of Dairy Queen ice cream cones.

Since finding new friends who are more willing to share my suffering would have to wait until a time after I’d showered, I decided to at least try to be interested. I haven’t actually been to Dairy Queen since about 1999 when I had an unexpected layover of several hours in Eden, Texas to get a flat tire repaired. I’m estimating that nearly half the 2800 population of Eden, Texas was at Dairy Queen that particular day. Since the other half of the population are inmates incarcerated at the Eden Detention Center, that’s an impressive turnout. Unfortunately, the ice cream machine at the Eden Dairy Queen was broken.

Fast forward two decades and my local Dairy Queen is pumping out ice cream cones that, according to my so-called friend, are an architectural feat of wonder created by food service workers with superhuman skills! A mixture of magic, engineering and frozen yumminess that is nearly inconceivable on a cake cone.

She swears her cone was expertly swirled and piled to a height measuring greater than her elbow to fingertip. Then to add an element of blessed miraculousness to it, she had it encased in an envelope of whisper-thin chocolate. She truly had no explanation for this creation. Which, for no other reason than utter respect, she then ate in its entirety. Because of course she did.

Meanwhile, I’ve pulled the emergency stop chord on my treadmill and am standing there dripping and staring with my mouth open in sheer amazement. I took a few polite moments to casually chit-chat a parting then bolted for my car. Unsure whether this woman was spouting incantations of sugared evil or preaching the actual truth, I’ve decided to instigate a thorough personal investigation. If you need me, you know where to find me.

1 Comment

Filed under Much Ado About Nothing

21 Because I Didn't Kill Him

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tom2.png

My youngest son just turned 21 this past week. He’s officially and legally an adult because of me. Because I didn’t sell him to a tribe of travelling gypsies when he was a toddler; because I didn’t let that pack of wolves raise him through the early years; because when he was a teenager I’d already missed the point that I could just drop him off at the fire station no questions asked; because he is the child my own parents wished upon me and I already know all his tricks so, yes, he has survived to adulthood. You’re welcome.

Now at last, the child who has, for all these years, driven me to drink is old enough to buy me that drink. Except he’d probably have to borrow a few bucks from me to cover the bar tab but whatever. He is the factual proof of the enduring grace of a merciful God, because without that, I would have probably killed him a long time ago. He has always been that kid who would jump off the roof in Superman pajamas, who never passed up an opportunity to explode something, tested the coverage on my health insurance, and to this day believes that rules are not directives to be followed but dictates to be challenged and broken.

Without this child, I would have undoubtedly and irresponsibly squandered away the money I’ve spent on broken phones, broken bones, broken eye glasses, broken cars and broken windows on ridiculous things like tropical vacations or furniture without broken springs, backs and legs. I would never have developed a close, cooperative relationship (think 12-Step Support Group) with grade school teachers who had to deeply examine their career choice after a year with my son. His third grade teacher never returned to the classroom and his fourth grade teacher has my vote for canonization.

I can only think that 21 years ago I must have prayed for patience, because

God has given me endless opportunity to learn it with this kid – now a young man. And this very impressive young man has also taught me through his example to love abundantly, deeply and with every fiber; to charge forward fearlessly; to show tolerance unquestioningly but to question everything else; and to live life passionately.

It has been an honor and a blessing to be his mom. Happy Birthday, Tom!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tom1.png

7 Comments

Filed under Much Ado About Nothing

Nearly New Year

It’s cold; it’s dark; and you’re probably still hungover from that New Year’s Eve party. There is absolutely no better time to swear on what’s left of your good name to be a better human. That’s right, children, it’s that magical time to make those resolutions that will carry you at least three or four days into the new year before you completely forget about them. Okay, I’ll start.

I resolve to stop bad-mouthing cilantro. It’s just a helpless weed that can’t help it if it tastes like fermented roadkill. I can be distasteful myself, and that’s on my good days. So, I’m going to ease up on cilantro and accept that it deserves a place on the spice rack just like others that actually taste good and add something to whatever you’re eating.   

This year, I’m going to stop judging people harshly who use a plastic bag to carry their one box of Jell-O Instant Pudding Mix from the store to their car. For all I know, there’s a dark addiction and resulting shame attached to that box of pudding mix. So, hey, I can enable with the best of them. Keep that under wraps, Closet Pudding Eater Person. Besides, it’s not like I know an endanger whale personally who will die with that bag stuck in their stomach.

I’m resolving to at least attempt to understand the attraction to coffee, Disneyworld, “The Bachelorette” tv show, eyelash extensions, car shows, and golf. Because, honestly, up until now, I just don’t get any of it. There must be something to all of them as they seem to be wildly popular.

I resolve to not squeal in delight every single time I see Baby Yoda. I’ll go into the baseball season with my eyes wide open and not be shocked when the Astros break my heart (again). I’m going to embrace cold weather and enjoy wearing five layers of wool clothing. This year, I’ll get a tattoo and wear pajama pants to church. Oh, yes, I will.

… Hahaha yeah right. I’m not going to do any of these things. At all. Ever. Be real. But I will, with great conviction, reduce my single-use plastic consumption; drink more water and waste less of it; and stop blatantly lying that I’ll ever say anything good about cilantro. That’s not happening this year or any year. Happy 2020!

2 Comments

Filed under Much Ado About Nothing

Real Mom Look at Christmas

Image isn’t actually Nancy. Or Julie. But it could be.

 They say Christmas is for children. This was not said by my good friend who has five of them. Her holiday wish list probably includes copious amounts of wine, an undisturbed nap, someone else to decide what’s for dinner, and some space to just vent. So I’m handing her a glass of wine and this space. Go ahead, Nancy (the name has been changed to protect Julie’s identity), this is your opportunity to speak to the Christmas manager.

“I don’t want to see another saccharine-sweet movie about this ‘most wonderful time of year’ where it shows the post-Oprah makeover picture of Martha Stewart decorations and food prepared by Julia Child. Instead, I’d like to see a movie about how dinner is poured from a Campbell’s can or a fancy boxed pizza is thrown in the oven at 8 o’clock. I’d like to see a kitchen that looks like a tornado went through it.

“I’d like to see movie with a room littered with 15 bins of Christmas decorations spilled on the floor just waiting for someone to be motivated or a movie about how a mom is struggling to repair a vacuum that has just sucked up the equivalent of a forest-full of artificial trees. I’d like to see a movie showing how cats are taking advantage of this chaos and making a toy out of giant tumbleweed balls of Christmas lights. I’d like to see a movie about how some parents forget to pick up kids from their activities or maybe one about how a mom learns to navigate all her commitments without losing her mind.

“What I NEED is an all-hands-on-deck approach to helping me even START preparing for Christmas. I’m having a sleigh-full of problems getting in the spirit and focusing on the real Reason for this Season. So while I cry in disbelief at all the decorations I have collected or received with open arms, I’m going to take a few minutes and listen to my Feel Good Not Christmas Music and try to remember that I’m doing all this for the kids (on top of all my regular whirlwind of chores, chauffeuring, scheduling, shopping, oh, does it ever end?).”  

Thank you, Julie … err, Nancy. For all you do. Let’s remember that even the very first Christmas wouldn’t have happened without a special mother. Hug one this season.

1 Comment

Filed under Much Ado About Nothing

Apostrophe Police

There is a disturbance in the grammatical force! Punctuation Jedi John Richards, a 96-year-old former copy editor who has dedicated his life to the protection of the endangered apostrophe, is giving up the fight and going to the Dark Side. The announcement that he is abandoning his Apostrophe Protection Society and albeit Quixote quest to save the world from written stupidity should strike fear in the hearts of every wordsmith and language lover everywhere. NOTE: If you use words like “theyselves,” skip this whole thing as it will be meaningless.

In a society that struggles with the complexities of the proper use of a turn signal, punctuation, as a whole, has become superfluous. Cellular providers do not charge by the character, and yet most text messages lack the dignity of a single, well-placed comma or even a period. Exclamation points, however, seem to multiply like Viagra-infused field rabbits behind sentences typed in all capital letters. And this, in and of itself, may be why aliens continue to fly on past our planet.

Admittedly a peaceful protestor, Mr. Richards fought the good fight to have the apostrophe’s rightful representation in things like “Ladies’ Apparel” and “Harrod’s Department Store.” While Richards respects a company’s right to delete their own apostrophe, he is baffled at how McDonald’s can get it right but Harrods can’t. If you’re taking notes, “can’t” and “don’t” can and do have an apostrophe.

Richards was also affronted, and rightfully so, by the willy-nilly insertion of apostrophes where they did not belong, like in dates: adding an apostrophe to the 1960s only diminishes its psychedelic impact. CDs on your desk and all Fs on your report card do not require apostrophes – no ifs, ands or buts about it!

erhaps it was Texans who pushed Mr. Richards over the edge with their possessive form of a plural number of groups: y’all’s’s. Used correctly in a sentence, “All y’all’s’s boots still have mud on them.” Texas may very well be where good apostrophes go to die.

Although he did not directly reference Texans, Mr. Richards wrote on the Apostrophe Protection Society’s website before it was overwhelmed by properly punctuated protest posts, “The ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!” And he is not wrong. Although all y’all still need to leave y’all’s muddy boots outside.  

3 Comments

Filed under Much Ado About Nothing

Attack Turkeys

Angry Birds!

With Thanksgiving only weeks away, turkeys have gone on the offensive: in Ocean County, New Jersey a large, angry mob of turkeys has started aggressively terrorizing a 55+ retirement community! While this seems to be the current epicenter of the hostilities, we can only wonder how long it will be before it spreads to other vulnerable sectors. My own elderly father lives in a similar community in Texas, naively thinking his biggest concern is whether they’ll run out of scotch during the resident happy hour, while at any moment, he could be under siege by wild, gobbling attackers!

I’d like to say I’m making this up, but as the hard-core, real-news journalist that I am <cough, snort>, I’m obligated to tell most of the truth as I see it. While the flock, led by a number of Tom’s weighing up to 25 pounds (without stuffing), has yet to put forth a spokesman (spokesbird?), it is assumed that these acts of aggression are a response to perceived turkey hate groups like AllRecipes.com and Butterball. Animal rights organizations, however, have yet to issue statements beyond the usual, “Don’t Eat Animals.”

According to first-hand witnesses in New Jersey, the turkey terrorists have been seen chasing down residents, which hardly seem like a fair fight when you consider turkeys can run 25-miles per hour while the average 55-year old woman can barely run faster than 4-miles per hour after coffee and a nap. The fiendish flock has also formed barricades against traffic and perched menacingly on rooftops to swoop down on the unsuspecting Medicare recipients.

MLB right-handed third baseman Todd Frazier has even put in a plea to the New Jersey governor to take action after his cars were attacked and his family members threatened. While it doesn’t seem that the National Guard or state militia have been activated, it was pointed out that state animal control cannot intervene with the rogue turkeys because they’re considered wildlife.

This is a food fight with the food fighting back. Therefore, it’s up to the locals to take matters into their own oven-mitted hands. Rise up, oh retirees! Preheat your ovens! Grab your pitchforks and basters and get ready to storm the ramparts! Show them you’re done talking turkey and put an end to the foul play!

Look for updates as they become available or when the red button pops up.

1 Comment

Filed under Much Ado About Nothing

Santa 101

Three hundred Christmas trees in Target stores the first week of October is bad. Three hundred Santas in the lobby where you work the first week of October is crazy good! It means your facility is hosting one of the oldest and preeminent Santa schools in the country and class is in session! Try having a rotten day at work when the line in the ladies’ room is all jolly, holly-draped grandma-types who drank too much peppermint tea during the “Being Mrs. Claus” breakout session.

 One might wonder – okay, it’s me. I’m wondering! – what exactly goes on at Santa school? Do you debate the number of ho’s in your ho-ho-ho’ing or frosted sugar cookies vs sprinkles? I tried quizzing random Santa’s between classes to see what I could find out, and they were all pretty tight lipped. It’s not like I was asking for the secret formula for flying reindeer corn. They just all chuckled and told me to work harder to stay off the naughty list (like that’ll happen). While Undaunted is not one of the reindeer team, it’s exactly what I was, so I went to the internet.

According to the Charles W. Howard Santa School website, aspiring and seasoned Santas can, among other things, “Practice Santa Flight Lessons.” That sounds a little like Santa has a posse covering the exits and a plan to jet the scene if the po-po shows to break up the ho-ho. Do we really want Santa to be a flight risk?

Santas can also attend the session on “Live Reindeer Habits.” What? I’m doing a quick check with building maintenance to find out who gave clearance to have a 400-pound caribou in the auditorium. I’m hoping the first habit that’s getting covered is how many times does a 400-pound caribou need to be walked outside every day to avoid a localized carpet catastrophe. Exactly how many Santas have a reindeer anyway? It’s not like you can run over to the local animal shelter and adopt a Rudolph.

As expected, there are sessions on handling terrified toddlers, what must-have toys need to be coming off that elfin assembly line in China, and accounting advice to keep Santa off the IRS naughty list. But most importantly, they’re all learning “He errs who thinks Santa enters through the chimney. Santa enters through the heart.” (Charles W. Howard, 1937)

Leave a comment

Filed under From the Snow Drift, Much Ado About Nothing