Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

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

It’s a Party. Period.

throwing-a-period-party-1280x960I got an invitation to a Period Party. As a writer – well, in the loosest interpretation of that word – I thought I’d been invited to a fun little soiree involving punctuation and editing marks. My brain was so busy trying to decide which red gel pen I’d take as a hostess gift that it took a while to realize this wasn’t what the invitation was at all. I’d actually been invited to a party to “Celebrate and Welcome” a ten-year old girl into womanhood.

Maybe it’s because I raised boys. Maybe it’s because I’m older, but I honestly thought it was a joke. But no, for some bizarro reason, Period Parties are a thing. Now, I don’t want to be indelicate here, but as I run the memory reel back several decades to when I started my period, I don’t remember wanting to have a big, public party that included neighbor ladies I barely knew.

No, I was mortified at the realization that I was being forced against my will towards adulthood (I recognize now, a wise instinct) and that my credibility as a hard-core Tomboy was going to be increasingly compromised. To make it all worse, my older brother cemented my mortification in place by teasing me unmercifully. Poor thing, he had such little practical experience with PMS, but that’d come later. Basically, happy, carefree life as I’d known it was officially over. This was a reason to sob in my room, not throw a party.

While the struggle to overcome my curiosity to witness firsthand what must surely be an indication of the fall of our society, I’m going to find a polite way to decline the invitation. That there simply is no party-appropriate wrapping paper for whatever impossible gift I might find (what the heck do you even take to such a party), I know myself well enough to admit I’d never get through the event without making way too many inappropriate jokes. Let’s blame that back on my brother.

Instead, I think I’ll throw myself a menopause party. I’ll invite all my friends who will show up in comfortable clothes, bring lots of wine, fight for the best spot under the ceiling fan, and collectively not care about what anyone else has to say about it. And it will be the best party ever. Period.

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Win a Free Cremation!

 

grenada-1-e1530508739954I actually had this sent to me, so you can’t accuse me of making this up. Besides, you really can’t make up stuff like this. One day in the mailbox, there’s a letter from The Neptune Society announcing the opportunity to “WIN A PRE-PAID CREMATION!” … Really? What’s second prize?

Naturally, this sets off a fire storm of questions in my mind. Questions like, what do you do to get on this mailing list? Do they know something that I don’t? I mean, I’ve been running! I’m healthy! Are they after my gold fillings?! Do I have to be present to win? What if I do win? Do I have to collect immediately, because I’m not doing all this running to go ashes-to-ashes quite this soon.

So I go to the website looking for some answers. I want to know if I win, can I transfer the prize? This might be the perfect solution for what to get my dad for Christmas this year and at just the right price for my budget! However, I’m almost sure that wrapping up the prize certificate with a box of matches would certainly send any hopes of an inheritance up in flames.

What I did find on their website is information on how my cremated remains can be placed in an underwater memorial reef off of Key Biscayne, Florida. I’m married to an Italian, but this gives a whole new meaning to “sleeping with the fishes.” Becoming a citizen of their “classical recreation of The Lost City” 40-feet underwater lets me do my part to rebuild the coral reefs. Yeah, I get to be fish food. And my family will all have to be certified scuba divers to come put flowers on my gravesite. Which isn’t a bad thing. I’ll find out which of them are truly devoted to my memory and which ones need to be haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Future!

Regardless of how charming the whole contest seems at first glance, I think I’m going to pass … on the contest. Not pass on. Which would then make me rethink trying to win a free cremation. For now, I’ll just wait for Ed McMahan to show up and tell me I might have already won a million dollars.

(shout out to TheTravel for the cool pic)

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Be a Better Human

Child holding Thank You signGather around everyone! It’s time for a quick refresher course on some foundational principles for being a decent human being. Don’t panic, it’s nothing complicated or scary. No one is going to expect you to cure cancer or kiss your sister, but we’re getting a little lax on some lessons we should have learned in Kindergarten. Let’s get started.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I understand that sometimes there are not-nice things that need to be said, but any Southern lady can tell you that you can say not-nice things in a nice way. Punctuate just about anything with “Bless your heart” and it’ll go over much better than just being ugly. If our words were physically manifested on our bodies, we might think twice about spewing out a bunch of sour ugliness. By the way, this rule applies tenfold for anything posted on the internet.

“You don’t build yourself up by tearing others down.” This includes your country, your elected officials, your parents, other sports teams (with the exclusion of the NY Yankees), your boss, the other drivers who can’t use a turn signal (bless their hearts), and most certainly anyone of a different race, color, creed, heritage, religious faith, or country of origin. If you struggle with this rule, refer to the one above and just keep your mouth shut.

“Lead by example.” If you want your kids to be productive, self-sufficient assets to society then be that. If you want to live in a world that’s not filled with hate, fear and intolerance then don’t be hateful, threatening and intolerant. Be the change you want to see.

While this is pretty basic stuff, so many of us seem to have lost sight of how to play nice with the other children. It’s not enough to just accept that haters are going to hate. We can do better than that and be bigger than hate. I understand that no one wants to be told they have bad breath, but, at the same time, sometimes you just need a helpful breath mint, a friendly smile, and a cheerful “Bless your heart” to save you from some unnecessary embarrassment. Think of this as a breath mint for your manners. Now go out there and be better humans!

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Willis Carrier: Man-God

Willis_Carrier_1915The City of Houston paid a sculptor to create this massive, 32-foot tall, weird, reflective bean thing then proudly planted it near the Museum of Fine Art. I’m not sure why that much metal was wasted on such a thing when there is a real hero desperately in need of recognition and adoration, a true man among men: Willis Carrier. This man should be elevated to saint status, have elementary schools named in his honor, and every July there should be an official holiday complete with parades. Willis Carrier invented the air conditioner.

Where would we be, oh sweltering Gulf Coast of Texas, without this man? Houston wouldn’t be the fourth largest city in the US, that’s for sure. Instead the entire area would be populated by drunk, divorced, chaffed, irritable isolationists and boasting the highest homicide rate on the entire planet. Satan himself would sell his luxury condo for pennies and leave town grumbling about intolerable conditions.

Willis Carrier isn’t just cool, he’s the King of Cool. I suppose when one of your relatives is burned at the stake as part of the Salem Witch Hunts, you become a little hyper-sensitive to being hot under the collar and embody a new motivation for redeeming your family’s name and reputation. Talk about a Phoenix rising from the ashes!

Certainly there needs to be a distinctive tip of the hat to the Egyptians for figuring out how to make clothing out of cotton. Without them, we’d still be wearing wool all summer, which a large majority of people were through the 1800’s. Even swimsuits were made out of wool until the 1930’s! Just the thought of it makes me scratchy, chaffed and irritable.

Without Mr. Carrier, we’d be facing a world without leather car seats, ice cream trucks, and Slurpees®. Humidity would be an unstoppable, mold-growing, hairdo-killing scourge. We’d have no safe retreat from mosquitoes, sunburn, or the neighbors. To be honest, without Willis Carrier’s air conditioners, we’d have long since given the lower half of the Louisiana Purchase back to France and thrown in pretty much every other state south of St. Louis.

So today when you crank that thermostat down to single digits and your house is like a frosty beer mug, stop and send up a prayer of thanksgiving to Willis Carrier. Oh yes! Thank you!

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Family Court in Session

family courtIn this trough between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, there is no better time to take a look at some examples of beautiful, happy families in their natural habitat: the courtroom. Parents are busy suing their children while the kids are getting lawyered up to go after their parents. Tell me, Hallmark, how are you going to handle this fine kettle of smelly family fish?

In St. Louis, 17-year old Anthony Dwight is suing his biological parents because he was born white. Did this boy skip Biology class in school? Exactly why would he expect his very white, Midwestern parents to produce anything but a white child? But yet he wants to hold them responsible for their “selfish desire to bring another white child into this world,” which, I’m sure, no one regrets right now more than they do. Of course, this is nothing that $20,000 to pay for the treatment to turn his skin color to “dark black” wouldn’t cure. Maybe they just need to turn his behind a bright red.

And Michael Rotondo. THIRTY YEARS OLD and his parents had to get a court order to have him removed from their couch after eight years! I’m guessing they already tried throwing his Xbox into the front yard so when he frantically ran out there to reclaim it they could lock the doors and bar the windows. This college educated, deadbeat dad then whined in court that he didn’t have money for moving boxes so he couldn’t leave. I don’t know about the liquor stores in New York, but around these parts, you can pick up some nice, sturdy boxes for free.

Since I’m always looking for the silver lining, I’m ready to jump on the opportunity presenting itself here! I am going to hang out a lawyer shingle for my new firm, “Grow the Heck Up Legal Services.” I’m not sure what white Anthony Dwight is paying his lawyer (where did he get that money?), but I’ll represent his parents for free. That I’ve never been to law school is beside the point. I’ll simply show up in court and throw out the GROW THE HECK UP defense. Same with Michael Rotondo: Grow the Heck Up! Case closed.

Ultimately, though, the way to avoid these situations all together is, when you have the choice, just raise hogs instead.

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Rooting for Rutabagas

RutabagaI decided to eat rutabagas. There are zero logical reasons why. I’ve never knowingly eaten rutabagas before, but I’m all about an adventure. So, armed with a Google search and a shopping list, I set out to inflict rutabaga recipes upon my household for an entire week. All week, all rutabaga. Other evil dictatorships have their tortures; I have rutabagas.

Step One: rutabaga identification. First of all, rutabagas should not be confused with rhubarb. While rhubarb is another vegetable that’s really fun to say, rhubarb looks more like weird reddish purple celery. From what I understand, with half a plantation worth of sugar, you can make it into a pie, and should I decide to do rhubarb week, I’ll test that out. Rutabagas, however, look like turnips grown just downstream from the Chernobyl Nuclear Site. According to Wikipedia, it’s “a root vegetable that originated as a cross between a cabbage and a turnip.” Thankfully, there were no graphics on how you cross breed turnips and cabbages because I really didn’t want that visual stuck in my mind’s eye. What happens in the vegetable bin stays in the vegetable bin.

Interestingly, I also learned that in Europe rutabagas are commonly used to feed livestock in the winter and are often carved out to make lanterns at Halloween. Therefore, my thinking is that if Bossy the Cow will eat them raw and frozen, then how bad can they be baked and smothered in lots of butter? And if it truly does go way south, I can use the rest for nightlights. At less than a buck a pound, it’s an obvious win-win situation, right?

Rutabaga Night #1: Roasted Rosemary Rutabaga Fries. This is just one more sad attempt to make you think you’re eating French fries when you’re not. Accented with plenty of red wine and ketchup, these were actually pretty good.

Rutabaga Night #2: Baked Garlic and Herb Shoestring Rutabagas. I should have quietly stepped back from this one when it required putting a rock-hard root vegetable through the utensil we got suckered into buying that’s supposed to make zucchinis into spiraled spaghetti things. However, with plenty of red wine, we were able to improvise.

Rutabaga Night #3: Carrots and Rutabagas with Lemon and … Okay, let’s be honest. The rutabaga lanterns are cool. And the red wine was great with the pizza we ordered.

(Thanks to Hutchins Farm for the pic of Frank, the over-sized rutabaga)

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Exploding Ants: It’s Real

1exploding antIn the dark, misguided world of ants, there’s a complete spectrum of ant terrorism that threatens all the insect world and beyond. The raspberry crazy ants must surely have a rap sheet for cocaine possession equivalent to the collective total of the Rolling Stones. Fire ants are just mean in an ugly, unified way, showing no thought or remorse in their attacks. And then there are the real extremists: Exploding Ants. These are the ants of mass destruction.

While I have some really great people in my tribe of friends and I would do almost anything for them, I’m probably not going to blow myself up to protect them. I’d take a bullet for my kids, but I’m still not sure I’d voluntarily explode my personage on their behalf. In the same vein, I’m not a good candidate to be an ISIS bride with a body bomb in a crowded market in Syria. That’s just not me. Not so, though, for exploding ants!

When threatened, these little ISIS-like insects will sacrifice themselves by exploding their bodies and sliming their enemies with a sticky, yellow irritant that either scares them off or kills them. If they don’t run away, I’m guessing the enemy may die of shock as much as from being slimed. Because honestly, the last thing you expect when you’re in hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand (they’re insects, they have a lot of hands) combat with an ant, is for it to suddenly pull the pin and blow up.

All this is not to scare you. You can still sleep at night, because exploding ants seem to be found primarily in the rain forests of Borneo. Unless you’re reading this in a wet Borneo tree, then ramp up your concern levels. But how long before they show up here? How long before other insects catch on to this trick? Or reptiles?! Personally, I’d love to see all snakes explode. But what if it continues to spread? How long before you’re hiking through Yosemite and Yogi Bear explodes because you startled him? You only have to Google “exploding whale” to see the video of what happened in Oregon in 1970. (No, really. Do it.)

As a responsible journalist, I’m here to write the news, not invent it. If you think I’ve made all this up, check it out for yourself at http://www.ExplodingAnts.com. But wear your Kevlar.

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