In which my brother almost gets our dad arrested.

It was the early 1970’s and the family had tagged along with my father on his European speaking tour. We were three siblings, 14, 12 and 10 going through the throes of adolescence, which is never a pretty sight. I think I may have contributed to my mom’s constant eye twitch, because at that age everything elicited a seriously melodramatic reaction from me. [And as I was to later learn the hard way, Moms make the best target. Karma, you bitch!]

My father was well-respected in his field, and if the Rolls Royce waiting at the train station was expecting an American version of the Royal Family, well, the chauffeur and host were about to be sadly disappointed. We tumbled out of the train, looking mighty worse for the wear. I wore my angst on my face as a scowl, my brother had a gap in his smile from a lost permanent front tooth (how it came to be lodged in the head of a shorter classmate is another story). My sister was still pouting the absence of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes in all of these obviously sub-par restaurants that should have been stripped of their Michelin stars for this abomination.

We had been staying in various Ritz-Carleton’s, not our usual Howard Johnson’s with a roll-out cot. We were soon deposited in a beautiful historic hotel in some old German city. My parents had a gorgeous suite and the children were relegated to the smaller room next door. We were ecstatic! Our own room? My sister began jumping on the bed while my brother went on a search and rescue mission, opening every drawer, every cabinet. On cue, I stared moodily out the windows, wondering who else had sat in that exact place over time and if their ghost was still hovering nearby.

Suddenly, a “WHAT????” was heard from my brother. Baby Sis and I went to join him, but he slammed the bathroom door in our face. “What did you find?” we squealed, but he was silent. Finally he opened the door and we could see that his face was frozen in shock. He slowly pointed to the opened cabinet drawers under the sink. There sat a pile of magazines. We gathered around them and our faces froze in similar shock: these were Naked Lady magazines!! Oh, my, goodness … or not. We laughed and giggled our way through the pages until we heard our parents knocking at the door.

“It’s dinner time, kids,” mom advised us.

“NO!” we responded in unison.

You could just see her and dad exchanging looks. Dad rattled the door knob, “Open this door now,” he demanded. He was tired and hungry and in no mood for sassy kids. So, my brother slowly unlocked and opened the door.

“What is going on in here?”

“Nothing.”

But mom had already looked over our shoulders and saw the pile of magazines. She started to walk over, obviously puzzled as to their origins. We screeched and ran to cover them up, but it was too late! “Where did you get these?!” and my brother explained that they had been in plain sight … if you crawled into the cabinet and scrunched behind the plumbing.

The General Manager was simultaneously notified, horrified and mortified. He came to apologize and to confiscate the pornography, but my brother refused to give it up. The rest of us were welcomed to take the soaps and shampoos for our souvenirs: but the magazines were his alone. My parents said they would deliver the magazines later, but let’s go eat dinner now.

~~~~~~

We were packing to leave, and Dad happened to glance through my brother’s suitcase. He thundered at him, “Are you crazy? Were you really going to try to sneak these magazines back home?” My dad was furious, confiscating the porn for good. He and mom were beside themselves: “Do you kids realize what would have happened to your father if he were caught TRANSPORTING PORNOGRAPHY INTO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA??” My dad was clearly traumatized at the vision of the newspaper photos showing him being led away in handcuffs for a crime he clearly hadn’t committed. And how close it had been to reality, had he not happened to sneak a peek into his son’s luggage. I think that was the last European vacation that we took as a family. In fact, I am positive.

Total, complete excitement!

This is a call for help! It is time for all bloggers to pull together and help a fellow blogger in need! I have just had a short essay published on Parent Co. and you get paid according to the number of reads, shares, likes, etc. My essay is about watching a meteor shower, one autumn night with my two young sons. Please check it out … I won’t earn enough to take you all out to a nice dinner, but you will earn my eternal gratitude. That’s pretty cool.

Thank you. Now, here is the link:

http://www.parent.co/waking-up-for-wonder-the-night-my-boys-will-always-remember/

My Hispanic Angels

Some people are born with certain skill sets. They have an ear for learning new languages, or are musical, or athletic. I was born with the ability to get hopelessly lost no matter how detailed the set of directions. It’s in my family gene pool.

One evening, I needed to drive a mere 29 miles from suburbia to dinner in Miami Beach, Florida. I don’t know what went wrong, but I somehow exited the highway and landed in an area where English was a foreign language. Every billboard, every sign was in Spanish. I located a gas station to ask for help. Neither the manager nor I had any command of the other’s language. I watched as he walked over to two cars of women filling up their gas tanks. They began talking about me, I surmised, because he kept pointing at me and saying, “oh Dios mio”. I knew then that I was in trouble.

The women left their cars to gather around me. I was so relieved to hear English, until I understood their message: “You are not safe here.” “Do not look at that truck with the smiling men. Do not look at them!!” “Bad men are all around here.” The leader said to me, “We are worried for you. Get in your car. We will take you to the highway.” I was amazed at their kindness, but they shrugged that women should always help each other. Then, we formed a caravan with one car leading me and one car following. They were not taking any chances of me getting lost again. Ahead was the entrance to the highway. They pointed and honked and waved, and made certain that I was safely on my way.

Mis ángeles hispanos. My Hispanic Angels. Thank you for taking care of this directionally-handicapped lady, otherwise, I would still be lost today.

Party on, Garth

I have some wonderful news, particularly for those Boomers who “partied hardy” back in college. In fact, this news will affect all Partiers, past and present, regardless of race, sex, marital status. You will still want to know the result of this study whether you are Democrat, Republican or Anarchist. You will have new information that will change your mind and rock your world. Or is it change your underwear and rule the world? IDK, something about change is good. So, I am about to change your mind concerning one of those Factoids that we grew up believing. Nothing as bourgeois as “wait thirty minutes to swim after eating”. That old chestnut has been debunked for years. No, this one will make you sit up and say, “Would you repeat that, please? I wasn’t paying attention.”

Remember that old commercial that gave you the munchies? It was some dude breaking an egg onto a hot griddle and he was going to prepare a scrumptious sunny-side-up egg and maybe some bacon? If he added a side of pancakes, he would have totally nailed it. Anyhow, the voice-over warned that “This is your brain” (whole egg) and then “This is your brain on drugs” (show cooking video). And you were like, “What?” But all you could think about was procuring some brunch. The message was supposed to scare you and warn you that you were destroying your brain cells! Forever!! Your brain would sizzle and melt as cells were killed off, screaming in agony. And it would be all your fault, you murderer. If you didn’t stop your wicked ways you would soon have no brain cells and find yourself wandering the streets, even before it was cool to be a Zombie.

Don’t worry: this will all make sense in the end.

Yesterday, I went to this awesome seminar about how to keep your mind sharp. I really worry about that, it’s too easy to let your mind get lazy and do everything on auto-pilot. You know how sometimes you pull into the driveway and wonder how in the world you got there? And without causing an accident? Lazy Brain. Every time you walk into a room and forget why you are there? Drugs. It’s all those drugs you did way back when that snap, crackled and popped your brain cells into mush. But here is the update: THIS IS FALSE NEWS.

You do not destroy your brain cells forever. Per the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, the brain produces new dendrites all the time. Dendrites allow the brain to store and retrieve information. Even as we age, the brain is producing new dendrites! That’s right, folks: another Old Wives’ Tale just bit the dust. You can destroy your brain cells, but eventually they will grow back. HALLELUJAH IN A BUCKET!

So, Party On, Garth.

But there is one caveat: you must have a sufficient supply of brain cells from the start. Your brain will only replace lost cells, it won’t transform an Idiot into an Einstein.

50 Ways to Lose Your iPhone

I exaggerate, of course. I have not lost 50 phones, but even the loss of one phone is enough to throw your entire life out of whack. What is the weather like? I haven’t a clue. I don’t have my phone app … I must WALK OUTSIDE and discover that it is beautiful, with a little chill in the air. Talk about a lot of work for results that just yesterday had been so easily ascertained from under the comfort of the warm covers of my bed. Sheesh.

The first phone I recall losing was a good old flip phone. I now understand why your back pocket is not always the ideal place to keep your phone. Without going into gross detail, let’s just say that it surreptitiously fell into the toilet and was flushed down the drain without my knowledge! Imagine that you fail to realize that your phone is sleeping with the fishies until a few dozen flushes of said toilet. By that time, I needed to call in a plumber who had to remove the entire toilet to recover the sodden phone. I then had to run to Home Depot to buy a brand-new toilet and pay to have it installed! You would think that I would have learned my lesson, but nooooooo – I have had more than a few close calls.

I recently bid adieu to my new iPhone 6 at a Nature Preserve and Wetlands. I do live fairly near the Florida Everglades. Anyhow. There was the cutest clutch (I might have made that word up as a description for a gang of alligators. Or did I make the word “gang” up? We’ll never know because I am too lazy to consult a dictionary) of baby ‘gators!! Oh, my gosh they were just the cutest little things and everyone was gathered around them and snapping their pictures from the safety of the wooden boardwalk. I leaned over with my phone and before I could even snap a picture – sploosh! went my phone down into the swamp. The crowd looked at me, obviously thinking, “What an idiot!!” I just laughed and remarked that I had really wanted a new iPhone 7, a haha. I was actually mortified, but there was no way that I was going to lie down on the boardwalk and try to recover the phone because I knew that Mama Gator was lurking nearby and I didn’t want to end up like Captain Hook.

Last night I attended a wedding. It was great fun and I danced like it was 1999. I had kept my new iPhone 7 (see above) on the table all night. I took pictures. I checked for texts and emails, and kept hoping that one of my submissions had been accepted. Right. Like editors have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than to peruse my sappy stories. Do they? Well, I get into the car to go home and we have driven a goodly distance (I’m trying to sound British, now that I realize that some of you are from one of my most favourite places on Earth) when I realize with a gasp! I had left my phone stranded on the table. We call from the car, and I do mean FROM the car, I still can’t get over that Bluetooth dialing thing, and leave desperate messages to friends who might retrieve my phone before they, too, leave the party. No one could hear their phones ringing, of course.

So now it is Sunday morning and I have no idea if I have won the lottery. (rolling my eyes) I guess I had best to google their website and then scroll down for the lotto, and then manually click for the results. Much ado about nothing, I presume. But I don’t know. I don’t have my phone!!!!!!!!!

You Don’t Deserve Candy

For Valentine’s Day, I gave my husband a heart-shaped box (oh, shades of Nirvana!) that was filled with miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. He ate about three of them, and then completely ignored the rest. I watched that pile of chocolate-peanutbuttery goodness for a week, two weeks, a year (in candy-watcher’s time) before I pounced on them and unwrapped and devoured every single blob of caloric heaven. And then I wah-wahhh’d because I’m so fat. Continue reading

The Paper Dress

I was one groovy chick, back in middle school. I was the first to wear bell-bottom jeans. I saw them in a fashion magazine and made my poor mother go on a hunt for a pair, a quest not unlike that of Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail. She finally snagged a pair and I proudly wore them to school. The reception was the same as if I had arrived bare-bottomed: no one understood bell-bottoms and the consensus was that I looked stupid. My vindication was slow to arrive, but it did. Within a few months, ALL the cool kids were sporting bell-bottoms. So there!

This was the time of macrame belts, tie-died tee shirts, go-go boots. Everyone had the soundtrack to Woodstock  and it was the rising reign of Aquarius, of the hippies. I embraced this look with all my heart. In fact, I was so experimental that several friends later confessed that they had thought I was from some weird foreign country, if not from a completely different planet. I did like my beads and my fringe.

My birthday was coming up and my mom and brother had a surprise in store for me. They had been secretly collecting Campbell’s soup can labels so that they could send away for something that they knew I would totally dig. It was a screen-print paper “pop art souper dress from Campbell’s” and looked like one big Andy Warhol painting of soup cans. Did you catch that? It was made of paper. It was the most far-out dress that I had ever seen. I loved it.

The first thing I did, of course, was to take a pair of scissors to it and chop it off into a micro mini dress. Was I wearing white go-go boots? If not, I certainly should have been. And then I sashayed off to the bus stop, where I made quite the impression with the boys. “paper???” “your dress is made from paper??” “like, I could tear it off you?” (ergh: had not thought about that frightening scenario).

Although I was too cool for school, I still got on the bus when it arrived. I sat down on the ancient buckled leather seats and heard a sound that made my heart stop. R-R-R-R-I-P!!! NO!! I had just ripped the dress the minute I sat down. The bus went crazy. As we pulled up to the school, the boys were hanging out the window screaming “we got a girl in a paper dress and it ripped!!!!!” Had it not been so humiliating, I would have reveled in the  reception I received as I stepped off the bus. I was famous! Everyone wanted to see this paper dress, especially the now air-conditioned back side where my underpants could be strategically viewed. Someone from the Administration ran up and wrapped me in a blanket and hustled me off to the Infirmary. The secretaries tried everything to save my dress: staples, scotch tape, packing tape. They did what they could to preserve my dignity and then sent me off to class. I doubt that I learned a single new fact that day, other than the obvious: paper rips. I was constantly applying more scotch tape to fresh rips all day long. That dress never saw a second wearing, and was probably tossed in the trash when I got home.

I just googled that dress and discovered that at one point it was selling as “rare Vintage pop art” (vintage??? ow, that hurts) and someone actually paid nearly $7,000 for it. Wow. I could have been a bazillionaire if I had only left the dress safely in its plastic bag. But, where’s the fun in that?