Friday, August 27, 2010

90th Anniversary? But We Look So Young!

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day, and the 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Of course, lots of women are still suffering, but that’s not important right now…

So to celebrate this momentous occasion, the venerable Ellen Goodman emerged, if only briefly, from her retirement, to bestow the “Equal Rites Awards—Acknowledging those who have done the most to set back women’s rights over the last year.” I believe that if she sees her shadow, we will have six more weeks of absurdity.

Goodman points out that it took 90 years to get three women on the Supreme Court, but if you still count Diana Ross, that’s four. What? What’d I say?

Anyhoo, space prohibits me from telling you about all her awardees, (yeah, space and copyright laws), but here are a few of my favorites:

The International Ayatollah Award went to a senior Iranian cleric who stated that women who “do not dress modestly” cause earthquakes. Really. And oil rig explosions cause hurricanes. (Not really.)

Then she gave a Blind Justice Award to Rome’s all-male clerics who declared that ordaining women is as grave a crime in church law as pedophilia. Well, it seems to me, Ellen, that since they don’t seem to punish pedophilia much, this may have been less damning than you thought.

Mel Gibson (ah yes, he is in the news again!) got the Raging Hormonal Imbalance Award for his eight-minute audio-taped rant telling his ex-girlfriend that she needs “a bat to the head”. Gosh, like Charlie Sheen, should we just wait until they actually kill some woman? Oops, I didn’t mean to get started…

The Male-Practice Award went to Bob Marshall, a Virginia legislator who says that disabled children are God’s punishment for women who had an abortion. Really? God punishes CHILDREN for women’s abortion? That doesn’t sound like the loving God that holds us in the palm of His hand to me?

And my personal favorite, the Northern Irish, pro-family, 60-year old female politician who had an affair with a 19-year old. And unbelievably, her name is Mrs. Robinson. Iris Robinson, and like Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up. She was given the Dubious Equality Award for the woman who has done the most to emulate the worst.

So it was nice to have Ellen Goodman back on the Op-Ed page, if only for a day. I hope she saw her shadow. We could use more laughs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lookin' For Love in --Where???

Remember the old song “Lookin’ For Love In All the Wrong Places”? There’s a new spin on that…

It seems that there’s a man in West Frankfort, Illinois who’s taken the age-old search for love to a new venue: the parking lot.

Yes, Jon Hemminghaus is running around the parking lots of Southern Illinois plastering fliers on the windshields of cars to help him in his quest.

The flier reads “WANTED: A woman that can put up with this man.” So of course it has his photograph on the poster, plus an incentive of a $500 reward for the wise and/or lucky person who hooks him up with his one true love. –or failing, that, finds him a woman who will go on at least six dates with him.

According to a story out of the Southern Illinoisan, (see, I am not making this up), Hemminghaus says that he’s looked “every place there was to search. It’s hard to do. It’s hard to meet someone. I tried online, but you end up spending 15 minutes writing to someone and never get a response.” He describes himself as a little bashful, and says that makes it hard to meet a gal. (Good thing he doesn’t know about my visceral reaction to the word ‘gal’.)

He says he’s good at thinking outside the box. I’ll say.

The flier goes on to describe what he’s looking for: a single Christian female who enjoys life, has the ability to laugh, likes motorcycles and is not lazy or mean. Well, that’s a pretty cool profile. Lots of people have done worse, so who’s to judge?

I say, go for it, Jon Hemminghaus! You’ve got a novel approach, and you might just find the perfect mate this way. Just pick the right parking lot. I’m thinking outside a daycare center?—bad idea. But outside a church, a fitness center or a beauty shop?—better odds. Keep an open mind.

As a public service, I’m running your photo here, Jon Hemminghaus. You just never know who may see this and take a shine to you. You seem like a nice enough guy, and I like your ingenuity. Besides, anyone who doesn’t like mean people, and is willing to admit, as you did, that “it ain’t no fun being alone” is all right in my book.

I hope you find your ‘pot of gold’ not under the rainbow, but under the windshield wiper.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Charming Vs. Sincere

Ongoing dialogue between me and the Center of the Universe:

Me: You don’t listen to me.

CoTU: Of course I do. Where do you think I come up with my excuses? If I weren’t paying attention to what you said, I wouldn’t know what to rebut! And if I weren’t listening, I wouldn’t have anything to try to weasel out of.

Hmmm. He has a point.

Meanwhile, here’s a little story about CoTU you might like. Some years ago we went to see “Into the Woods”, a wonderful musical by Stephen Sondheim that blends a lot of fairy tales into a very entertaining theater event.

In the course of the play, Prince Charming makes a very flowery statement to his paramour, who is flattered, and wants to know if he really means it. He answers, “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” That was the highlight of the evening for CoTU, and he has quoted the line frequently ever since. And, after all, he did have a long career in sales and marketing, despite his engineering roots.

So keeping that in mind, today he showed me a draft of an e-mail he was sending his cousin. She’s very far away, and they’ve been out of touch for years. It was actually a very lovely and personal message.

I said, “Wow, I didn’t know you were capable of that. You wrote that all by yourself?”

“I did,” he said. “And it wasn’t all that painful, when it comes down to it.”

I said, “Are you sure you didn’t plagiarize something from a website, like maybe “Sincerity for Sale” dot com? Or, “Personal Letters Anonymous” dot com, or even “You Tell ‘Em, We Sell ‘Em” dot com?” I mean, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for a new business venture.

“I should have looked,” he admitted. “I could have saved myself a lot of time.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

More From the Science Fair

Yes, the Science Fair project that is my marriage is alive and well. The chart that my husband, The Center of the Universe (CoTU) keeps under the bed is constantly being updated. At least that is my belief.

I’m guessing the categories are “What Does It Take To Pi** Her Off”, “How Far Can I Push Her Before She Snaps”, and “What’s the Land Speed Record for Turning a Fun Experience into an Ugly One.”

So yesterday’s encounter, and I’ll leave it to you to decide which column this one goes into, was about our ongoing observations of how easily CoTU loses weight, compared with how difficult it is for me to lose weight.

Here’s a prĂ©cis of the backstory:

He eats to the point of gluttony and does no exercise. If he forgets to have one of his many afternoon snacks one day, he can drop two or three pounds. I say this without any exaggeration.

I eat like a true minimalist, very little processed food, very small portions, working out 4-5 times a week, and it took me forever to lose a few pounds. For the past six weeks I have lost NO weight at all.

Now, sorry about the detour, back to present time. Well, yesterday.

CoTU steps off the scale and proudly announces that he’s dropped two more pounds. This after he ate a nice round of three full meals the day before, punctuated by plenty of snacks, and topped off with a nice apple turnover for dessert.

I groaned and remarked that even though I forsook the potato, bread and dessert at our previous night’s dinner, I was still stuck at my seemingly immutable weight.

He said, “Well, just don’t worry about it, Mama Cass.” I. Am. Not. Kidding. Like this is funny? I’m supposed to laugh when he calls me the name of the fattest person he can think of?

He tried to tell me he was just teasing me, but I was NOT happy. I’m sorry—did I just say I was not happy? How about I was livid? Yes. Livid. I said, “Why don’t you just call me fatso and get it over with?”

“Aw, come on, Chubby, I was just kidding.” Good thing my skillet was two rooms away or I would have beaned him with it.

He still thinks this is funny, and wants to call it ‘teasing’.

I say this opens up a new category on the Science Fair chart: “Name-Calling: Is Today a Good Day to Die?”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Postcards from Outer Space

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night… you know, the U.S. Postal Service generally does a great job of bringing us our mail. But once in a while, since we live at 8324 Elm Street (fictitiously speaking, of course), we get mail for the people at 8324 Poplar, a block north of us. We put the envelope back into our mailbox, raise the flag, and the next day, it’s back on its way. Occasionally we get a piece of mail meant for one of our neighbors, and we just stick that in their mailbox, or –and this may shock you—hand it to them in person.

So imagine my surprise when I moseyed out to the mailbox recently, and flipping through the flyers, bills and magazines, found a postcard from Italy, addressed to my daughter. Who lives in Sacramento.

Yep, I swear I am not making this up. My son and his bride, (the former Daffodil, now my actual ‘dil’) had honeymooned in Italy, and here was a beautiful picture postcard from Capri, meant for his sister.

The address portion was clearly labeled to Rachel and family, obviously a different surname from ours, at HER street address, Sacramento, CA, proper zip code and all. What the what??? I felt like I was being pranked, Punk’d, or for those of you my age, on Candid Camera.

I literally turned around 360° in the cul-de-sac, thinking that Rob and Jessica must be in their car (yeah, they just dropped in from Washington, D.C., right?) watching me, laughing their tiny respective a**es off. Nope. No sign of pranksters.

I couldn’t process what I was seeing. How did this end up here in Missouri, addressed as it was?

As I headed down the driveway, I noticed that there was also a small envelope, a thank-you note, as it turned out, addressed to us from Rob and Jessica. Ahhh, I thought, I get it. Somehow the note card must have stuck to the postcard when they mailed them, and the postcard intended for Sacramento just piggy-backed onto our mail, ending up here. Okay, wacky and implausible, but not impossible.

Later, when I spoke to Rob, I said, “Guess what we got in the mail today?” I pretty much stunned him into silence with the answer, and that takes some doing. He will normally outwit me and anyone else foolish enough to spar with him, with one arm tied behind his back. Then I told him my theory that supposedly explained how this could happen. He listened condescendingly (a mother can tell) and then condescendingly patiently pointed out that he had actually mailed the postcard from Italy.

Now he had truly stunned ME into silence. I just assumed they had brought the postcards home with them and mailed them stateside. “No way!” I said. He confidently told me to look at the postmark. Well, that was the other thing: there WAS no postmark. It had an Italian stamp on it, but…. How did it land in OUR mailbox? I could see it going to Sacramento, and I could see it going nowhere, but seriously, how did WE get it?

Rob said, “What about YOUR postcard?” Oh, you sent us a postcard, too? It hasn’t arrived. Maybe it’s gone to Sacramento, I hypothesized…

Ten days later said postcard arrived. Beautiful scene of Capri, sweet note from the kids, and addressed to the Center of the Universe and me. Italian stamp. No postmark. I’ll never know if it got here via Sacramento.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Owe You One, Carolyn

Potpourri—that’s what Jeopardy calls it when they just throw together some miscellaneous and random stuff they didn’t use elsewhere. And it’s the overly perfumed mix of this and that you sometimes find in a dish in the bathroom, where it’s meant to mask other (noxious) odors.

Let’s hope this particular batch of potpourri is more the former than the latter…

First, a tip of the hat to a lovely lady named Carolyn P. (I won’t reveal her last name, but it’s really not ‘Potpourri’.) Here’s why:

I dragged my weary body out to the mail box a week or so ago in the 100+ degree heat (combined with our famously high humidity, we had a heat index in the 114- 115 degree range. That’s hot enough to cook burgers on the grill without turning on the gas. Okay, almost.) Why I bother with the mail any more is beyond me, since 87% of the mail on 93% of the days is pure junk. Especially in the weeks leading up to an election, which this was.

So I did the army crawl back into the house, pulling my sorry self over the threshold, and my husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) steps right over me and asks, “Anything interesting?”

“Yes,” I gasped. “An ad from a contract hit man, offering to nail clueless and self-absorbed husbands.” With that, I believe I passed out from dehydration. Or not.

Anyway, the mail was the usual assortment of ‘right into the recycling bin’, ‘pay this bill’, and ‘magazines I will not live long enough to read’, except for one thing.

There it was, a legal-size envelope addressed to me in the actual handwriting of a live human being. Okay, I didn’t have actual proof of that, but it sure seemed so. The envelope had a pre-printed return address of a business in a nearby community, but I had never heard of them, and had no idea why they were sending me an actual piece of mail. I swear, if the thing hadn’t had a first-class stamp on it, I might have tossed it, assuming it was some sort of ad.

Inside I found a slim piece of lined paper, with Carolyn P.’s name imprinted at the top. She wrote, “I received this by mistake along with my info. Thought you would like to have it.” Hmmm. Behind it was the form letter from the famed and exalted facility where I had had my mammogram, telling me that my results were normal.

WHAT THE WHAT??? How many variations of the HIPAA privacy laws did THAT violate? Plenty. But all that aside, how nice was it of Carolyn to take the time and effort to mail me my particular letter? Very. I wrote her a thank-you note, and asked CoTU about maybe getting her a gift card to Borders, or something. I just really wanted to let her know how much I appreciated her kindness. He thought that was a little much, so I mailed the note alone.

So I wanted to post about this, to thank Carolyn P. publicly. Now here’s the funny post script… Friday I attended a meeting of the quilt guild I joined a few months ago. Since it’s summer, I haven’t met all the members yet, as various people have been away on meeting days. One of my friends asked another member if Carolyn P. was coming… I said, “Carolyn P.? As in the Blankety-Blank Company in County Center?” Yes, they assured me that was her… Wow. I told them the story of how she had received, then sent me my medical info. We were all taken aback by the incompetence of the facility’s mailing, and by the coincidence that Carolyn and I were members of the same group.

So here’s my shout-out of thanks to Carolyn, and you didn’t even know I was a member of Piece Mill Quilters! Hope to see you at the next meeting!

Oh—and as for the potpourri, I went on too long to include the other stuff, so as Emily Litella would say: Nevermind.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Graphs and Charts, Domestic-Style

Whose Ox is Being Gored?

Yeah, the hubster—you know, the Center of the Universe (CoTU), made an off-color, off-handed, off-planet remark that can’t be repeated in this PG-13 blog. I clucked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and he protested as follows:

“Hey, that’s pretty harsh—don’t forget, I supply you with about 70% of all the material you use in your blog!”

Yeah, well I sure can’t use that.

But now I wonder if he’s counting up the number of posts that stem from his little gem-like offerings, and creating a spreadsheet to keep track of the true percentages…

It wouldn’t surprise me.

I have long thought that our relationship is basically the equivalent of a science fair project for him. He says something offensive, and silently measures my response and/or reaction. If there’s no visible reaction, he ramps up the O&O-factor (Offensive and Obnoxious) till I break. It may just be a look, a rolling of the eyes, or a subtle shaking of the head. The verbal responses just tend to escalate the insanity, egging him on to defend his frat-boy comments. Thus I often opt for the silence I have perfected over the years. It’s so much simpler that way.

Still, I believe that somewhere in the house, perhaps under the bed, perhaps behind his desk, there’s a display board complete with graphs and charts, recording for all time how many crude comments it takes to get a rise out of me. There are the short-term responses and the longer-term trends. It’s likely titled, “Driving Leah Crazy, One Crack at a Time”.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Post-Surgical Supplies

Note:  Today is the first anniversary of Funny Is the New Young!  Cake is being served, so please help yourself to a generous slice.  I'm always glad you came by!

As moms, there isn’t much we won’t do for our kids, right? And this is especially true after they make us grandmothers! As they say at, it’s great to be grand.

Anyhoo, I was the designated driver/runner of errands/chief cook and bottle washer/tidier/ laundress and “other duties as assigned” as my old employer used to say, at my recent stay with my daughter and her family when she was having her second son. Do you need me to tell you how much I relished that role? (I also relished the roll, when I made hot dogs, but that’s not important right now…)

So, I was saying… There I was, always at the ready, panting like a puppy waiting for the rubber ball to leave its master’s hand, hoping for a helpful assignment on my daughter Rachel’s first morning home from the hospital.

Bingo! “Mom, could you do me a favor?” Hey, that is exactly what I’m here for, at least during the moments that I’m not holding the new little guy. “I bought the pads the surgical instruction sheet told me to get, but they’re awful. Do you mind going to the store for me?”

Great, just give me specifics, and I’ll be on it like white on rice.

“Well,” she said, “I can’t really tell you exactly what to get, I just know I can’t use these. They’re ginormous.” Actually, given the situation, perhaps that should be spelled ‘gynormous’. “I need something smaller and, well-- wearable.”

Big is bad? I wondered aloud. Post surgery? Isn’t big good in this case? I realize that my child-bearing years are behind me, but still…

That’s when she gave me a little demonstration. Here’s the way this story, ahem, unfolds…

“See?” she said. “They’re way too big to wear!”

Wow, I had never seen anything like it. I even took out a tape measure so that you could see that one of these babies is a full 14” long. Put wheels on it and it’s a skateboard.

I went to the store supremely confident that I could select the right product. How hard could it be to scale back from the Mondo-Gigundo-Unspeakably Absorbent design? Then I stepped into the aisle of ‘feminine hygiene products’. I was shocked to see the number and assortment of sizes, weights, shapes and styles. Reading the packages took forever. Overnight, super-absorbent, ultra-absorbent, with wings, wingless, scented, holy smoke, I was floored! The comparison and analysis took a while, but I made a decision, and went on my way.

When I got home, Rachel asked me what I bought. I think I got the ostrich-type—you know, flightless? I told her. “You mean without wings?” Exactly. And two steps down from the ones you had.

“Mom… “

“They’re not skateboards, honey. I think they’re more like flip-flops.” At least they open in two steps instead of four. A significant improvement.

And now, dear readers, your cake, as promised!

Take as much as you want, no calories and no guilt!  Enjoy! I'm always glad you came by.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

And the Answer Is...

Yes, yes, I know I promised the answers to yesterday’s puzzles!

Sacramento can be broken into ‘scent’ and ‘aroma’. Cool, huh? And the number puzzle is 2345X6/7=2010. I just love stuff like this.

See you here Monday, August 9th, which will be the first anniversary of Funny Is the New Young. No gifts, please, but there will be a celebratory cake, hats, and festive balloons! Wa-hoo!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Puzzle Master, My Hero!

I like puzzles and games; crosswords, Sudoku, kakuro, oh my! I especially like to play along with Will Shortz on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday mornings.

Shortz is the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzles, and has a bazillion other titles and honors to his credit. The Sunday morning gig, however, enables listeners (like me!) to play along as he plays word games, or does brain teasers. When the game ends he issues a challenge for the coming week, and it’s normally in the form of a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle, you e-mail in your answer, and one random entry is chosen to select a participant to play the next week’s puzzle on the air. Believe me, it’s entertaining.

Here’s an example of a past puzzle Shortz challenged the listeners to solve: Sacramento, the capital of California, can be broken into two words, five letters each, and they are synonyms of each other. What are they? (Yes, I’ll post the answer tomorrow.)

Sometimes the puzzles are more about numbers than words, but hey, I say, bring it on. (Doesn’t mean I always solve them, though!) Here’s one of those: Write down the digits from 2 to 7, in order. Add two mathematical symbols to get an expression equaling 2010. What symbols are these? (Right, tomorrow, remember? That gives you time to work on it—if you want more than a day, just don’t peek. It’s like not looking at the answers in the daily paper—your choice.)

So last week’s challenge—meaning we won’t get the outcome till this coming Sunday, the 8th—was to come up with a riddle that starts off with "What's the difference between" and involves a spoonerism. Okay, here I’m going to quote from the website to make good use of my time, and not make a complete fool of myself trying to explain this…

“A spoonerism is when consonant sounds are interchanged. For example, "What's the difference between an ornithologist and a loser in a spelling bee?" The answer: "One is a bird watcher, and the other is a word botcher." Another example: "What's the difference between an iceberg and a groom at a stable?" The answer: "One crushes boats, while the other brushes coats." Entries will be judged on cleverness, originality and naturalness of syntax. “

So here you have it, a challenge to rouse your brain from the summer doldrums. What? That’s just ME? Oh. Nevermind. But just in case you like word games, come up with one, and post it here as a comment. Want to know what I submitted? Here you go: “What’s the difference between a lunatic and a gastroenterologist? One goes nuts and the other knows guts.”

He’s going to hit me with a skillet, isn’t he?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Elves and The Jell-O Bowl

You remember the story of the elves and the shoemaker? For anyone who has been deprived of this Grimm fairy tale, here’s the gist of it.

There’s a poor shoemaker and his wife. They can barely scrape out a meager living, because when the shoemaker cuts out the leather to make a pair of shoes, he’s so tired he goes to sleep. In the morning he awakens to find that the shoes have been made, and they are so perfect that they bring a high price. Now the shoemaker has enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. He cuts out the leather, and goes to sleep. Again in the morning he finds the shoes already made.

Eventually, he and his wife decide to stay up at night to see how this is happening. (Eventually? I mean, wouldn’t a normal person do that THE FIRST TIME???) Of course, they find that two little tiny elves are coming in and making the shoes for the old man. And you know darn well that they all live (say it with me) happily ever after.

So it is in our house with the Magic Jell-O Bowl. After dinner the hub (the Center of the Universe) and I will indulge in the guilt-free joy of a dish of sugar-free Jell-O. After a few nights, when the bowl is empty and the Jell-O is gone, the bowl is washed. The next day, lo and behold, CoTU opens the fridge, and exclaims, “Look—the Magic Jell-O Bowl has done it again!”

I hit him with a skillet.