Grooming On A Budget?

I am no stranger to making sacrifices.  After all, I drove a used mini-van for more than a decade.  So, when my husband decided that our family needed to economize - big time - I was all for it.  Sure, I could cut my trips to Target.  I could even buy a cheaper boxed wine for my husband.  But, I think if I go any lower than Franzia by the gallon he might as well just start drinking Listerine on the rocks.  Bring on the generics - I have no fear of off brand toilet paper. Well, no fear for the rest of my family to use it.  I hid contraband rolls of Charmin Sensitive Ultra Soft under my bathroom sink for my personal needs.   A serious tactical error though was made in my husband’s budget reduction campaign when he dared to venture into the sacred hair waxing and hair replenishing fund.

It’s not really his fault.  The grooming needs and requirements of females fly way under his radar.  He was raised by hyper-active, angry wolves.  Well, not really, but he was raised in a family of all boys.  Yes, he has a mother, but the family was all about the boys.  It was Y chromosomes all the Y time.  My husband was the last ditch effort by his mom to have a girl.  When that didn’t work out she kind of raised him like the daughter she never had.  Which, if you know my husband explains so, so, much. Because of this very male dominated household my husband entered into marriage with very little knowledge of what’s it’s like to room with a girl.  I’m talking, he had never actually seen a box of tampons up close and personal before.   To prove his love to me before we got married I required him to go to the grocery store during prime time and buy an economy size, 100 count, super absorbency box of Tampax.  Because any dude can spend money on jewelry, but it takes a real man to go into the “girly aisle” take the box off the shelf, proudly walk through the store clutching the tampons, go to the check out station, make eye contact with the clerk and pay for the “lady product.”

Although, one foray into the land of feminine hygiene is not a true education into the wonders of women’s grooming.  He is clueless about the love hate relationship all XY chromosome carbon based life forms have with their hair.  I, being a good and dutiful wife sat my husband down for a beauty lesson - Topic:  Hair and Why There Will Be No Economizing.  (Contact me if you would like to view the powerpoint.)  My lesson was broken down into three categories.  Category one: Facial follicle removal, that would be the waxing of unwanted hair.  Category two: Hair replenishing, that would be the keeping of hair on the head and Category three: Hair beautification, that would be coloring and/or highlighting.

Let’s start with the most painful category first - Facial Follicle Removal.  Hair waxing is not a choice it’s a basic human right. A painful human right that has us scalding our faces and violently ripping away at it, but a right none-the-less.  The brave men and women of our armed forces have gone into battle to defeat Totalitarianism, Communism and now the Taliban so women every where will have the right to wax.  Totalitarianism and communism have and always will be associated with excess facial hair on women.  In Russia, Brezhnev’s wife was a hair-ball and if you peek through a burka most of those women are pretty furry. Think thick stacks of wooly bear caterpillars masquerading as eyebrows. As women have more freedom and power they also have less facial hair.  Cleopatra - ruler of Egypt and kick ass chick was one fearless facial waxer. (Science is on my side on this one.)  She was stache free and those famous eyebrows didn’t get that arch naturally.   Queen Elizabeth the First was so powerful she was totally hair free. (Regal and bald - she made it work.)  Waxing is also a mental health issue.  Tell a woman she can’t wax and you may as well get her on Zoloft.

Sidebar: Nose hair waxing.  This procedure doesn’t figure into my waxing budget.  Until they event a nasal epidural I will continue using my electric “As Seen on TV” turbo charged snout scissors.

Category Two - Hair Replenishing.   It’s not all about the removal of hair.  The hair on your head you want to keep.  Sadly, some of us, over time, experience hair loss.  And once again by some of us, I mean me.  In my late 20’s I noticed, with the help of a 10X magnifying mirror, some visible signs of thinning at the very tippy top of my part.  Aghast, I couldn’t decide who to call first my doctor of hair stylist.  Since my hair stylist, at the time, Monsieur Jean Jacque Charles, took six weeks to get an appointment I called my doctor and got in that afternoon.  His diagnosis - Pony Tail Part.  Yes, it is an actual pattern of balding attributed to women who always wear their hair in a pony tail.   His prescription - no more pony tails.  I was devastated.  The pony tail was my signature look. When my hair looked like crap I put it back in a pony tail which meant pretty much everyday my hair was in a ponytail.  I, taking a break from intense sobbing and snoting, grab another fistful of kleenex and ask him if there is an alternative course of action.  There was - women’s Rogaine.  I started squirting my lazy follicles everyday with that magic hair growth juice.  Now, many years later my husband is suggesting I go generic on my Rogaine.  Not just everyday generic (which is the Target brand), but bottom barrel generic - Walmart.  I ask him what happens when after using the Walmart “Rogaine” I grow horns.  Is he going to file my horns down for me when they start protruding from my scalp or make me go to a random 4 H or Future Farmers of America club meeting and have it done for free?  I will make a lot of sacrifices for the good of my family, but I will not go bald due to a rough economy.

Category Three - Hair Beautification.  It would take a very aggressive 12 step program and maybe a little shock therapy for me to give up highlighting my hair.  Hair highlighting is my crack.  Yes, I get high on highlights.  I’m addicted and I can’t give it up.  There’s nothing like getting out of the salon chair and seeing selected tresses freshly coated in gold. It camouflages all your other sins.  Your jowls gone, flabby arms and cankles  - who cares?  Your blonde, blonde, blonde!  (Technically, I’m brown, brown with little strands of blonde.  But, baby it feels all blonde to me.)  Sure, I’ve tried to give up my highlights. I’ve gone cold turkey telling select stylists, “Hey let’s take my hair back to it’s natural color.” That, in itself, poses a problem because you would probably have to use carbon dating to determine just what my natural color is.  Now, highlighting is no longer is a “want to” it’s a “have to.”   It’s what covers up my silver hair. (Note to all women say silver instead of gray.  It sounds more glamourous.)   I don’t see any possible way I can even begin doing my highlighting at home to save money.  I am not a self-highlighter. I don’t even color well.  I could go longer between highlights and rock the two tone tresses look. (Think Madonna.)  But, in reality I don’t have the bone structure to pull it off. This is also another mental health issue.  Without my little strands of gold I would have to go on a cocktail of Zoloft and Paxil.  With our prescription drug deductible it’s probably cheaper just to keep on salon highlighting.

Lesson concluded and I ask if there are any questions.  My husband stares at me, sighs, and goes “unbelievable.”   That was his version of surrendering.  No white flag, just that tell tale sigh, that says, “I give up.” It really was never a fair fight.  No man has what it takes to separate a woman from her grooming.  Well, make that no man that wants to live.

Rest In Peace

 The best sleep I’ve ever experienced has happened at church.  It was delicious.  All warm and cozy.  I was out as soon as my head hit the mini-van headrest.  No, I wasn’t at a drive-in church.  Do they have those?  If not, I’m telling you that is a good idea.   I was in the church parking lot which I have found makes an optimum place to nap.  I discovered this quite by accident on a breezy fall Sunday morning.  Because I’m an idiot of the highest order I had told a friend I would help her out in the church nursery.  Yes, indeed when your own children are making you consider abandonment the best course of action is to, of course, volunteer to take on the care giver responsibility for more screaming kids.

The church I was graciously doing nursery duty at was not my “home”  church.  And by home I mean the church where I got married and the kids got baptized and where when Christian duty and/or guilt kicked in I would drag myself out of bed and attend on limited occasions.  This was a super sized church.  I’m talking their own Starbucks in the lobby big.  Well, it wasn’t really a Starbuck’s - it was a churchy version of Starbucks  called “Sacred Grounds” featuring heavenly blends.   My best description of the church is that it was a cross between a J.C Penny’s distribution center and an airline check in terminal.  I had always turned my nose up at the super churches.   Too impersonal, too much mass marketing of the gospel,  just way too many people.  Well, that day I found out I was wrong.  Bigger is better - especially when you want to sleep.

I arrive at the super church with my two children.  One was just four, the other five months old and I was so over being a mother. Where were the Kodak moments?  Reality was not living up to the hype. Talk about false advertising.  I sign them in to their Sunday school “classes” and in exchange for handing over my children I receive what looks like a pager from the Olive Garden. ( I was tempted to ask for extra breadsticks.)  It would light up and flash if my children needed me.  I then went to the nursery to listen to other babies beside my own howl.   When I arrived my friend told me they had enough hands and I was free to go to church and not help out.  Excellent.  Before heading to the sanctuary I dashed to my car to get a sweater, the place was freezing.  Well, I made the mistake of sitting down in the car seat and that’s when I had my bad thought.  

What if I didn’t go back in the church?   What if a just sat here?  One entire hour of silence.   I had the Olive Garden pager if my kids need me.  Who would miss me?  The church is huge.  There’s even two sanctuary’s.  One for traditional worship.  One for contemporary.  No one would know.  It’s not like I would be hurting anyone?  Dear Lord in heaven, I could actually close my eyes and sleep.  I needed sleep - bad.  What to do, what to do?  I decided to pray about it to see if God would give me a sign.  And he did.  I looked over and saw a beach towel in the back car seat.  It could be used as a blanket.  The Lord wants to me stay here and nap.   

As the bible says “judge not lest ye be judged”.  I was a woman on the verge of a breakdown.  My five month old never slept.  Yes, perfect parents out there, I know it was my fault my daughter never slept.  In my defense - I am a wuss and my husband is a wuss to infinity and beyond.  We can’t stand to hear babies cry.  We tried it all.  We Ferbered. (The method where you let your baby cry until they puncture a lung or fall asleep - whichever comes first.  The Ferber Method can also be found in Hitler’s Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.) We bought the sleep baby postioner.  We massaged. We perfumed the room with calming lavender. We ran a white noise machine with the soothing sound of ocean waves and when that didn’t work the subtle sound stylings of spring rain.  Basically, the nursery was turned into a five star spa and the kid still didn’t sleep.  

 I have my theories on why she resisted any attempt to close her eyes.  She already hated me and at five months she couldn’t figure out how to waterboard, but she sure knew all about the torture of sleep deprivation.    The Center for Victims of Torture say 96 hours of sleep deprivation is considered torture. Even the CIA got busted for keeping alleged terrorists awake for up to four days.  Pussies.  Try five months. That’s 3,600 hours of not sleeping.  Besides affecting my mental health the lack of beauty rest was really doing a number of my appearance.  I was one step away from looking like a Wal Mart Greeter.  I was using concealer they sell to burn victims in an attempt to disguise my under eye circles.   My other, much more flattering, theory is that I am such an entertaining, intriguing individual that my daughter didn’t want to close her eyes in fear that she might miss one minute of my fabulousness.  I know, I know, it’s the first theory.  She was torturing me.

Now, that I had been directed by the Lord to stay in the mini-van and nap my biggest problem was how to nap incognito.   I didn’t want anyone to see me in the driver’s seat with my mouth open, slobbering slithering down the window and come and ask me if I needed help.  I had to be the stealth napper.  Well, praise the lord again because the mini van has tinted side windows and seats that fold down - way down and let’s not forget the beach towel as blanket.  Mighty comfy.  I set my cell phone alarm so I don’t oversleep and I’m out.  

Best 55 minutes of sleep ever.  I awake slightly refreshed and go retrieve my kids.  My friend asks me what I thought of the sermon.  Not wanting to lie while standing inside the Almighty’s house I hedge my bets and reply - surprisingly restful.  “Restful,” she says sounding confused.  I stutter and add, “You know, like a restful spirit came over me.”  “Oh yeah, “ she says while smiling, “I get that.”

Next Sunday, rolls around and I pack up those kids and head to church.  While I’m standing outside the Sunday school rooms to sign in my cry babies I hear some Moms talking about bible study right after church.  I interrupt and ask,“ Is there child care for the bible study?”  Blessed be to God, there is. That gives me two hours of sweet, sweet, slumber.  I hand off my children, inform the staff I would be staying for bible study and head out to the mini-van.  Just in case anyone was watching I first went to the ladies room and then did a zig zag spy pattern through the parking lot.

This time it was even better.  I had brought a pillow from home and some of that lavender spray from my daughter’s room to disguise the odor of fermented french fries and feet.  I wake up 1 hour and 55 minutes later, check my face in the rear view mirror, wipe the drool off my chin and then oh crap.  I have pillow marks on the left side of my face.  How I’m I going to explain that?  I’m doubting they have pillows in bible study.  I start massaging and then slapping my face to get the marks off.   It just makes it worse. Now, I have red slap lines and pillow marks on my face.  I go back into the church to pick up my kids with my hair hanging way over one side of my face to cover the pillow/slap marks.  I’m thinking I might be able to pass it off as the new sexy me.  Wrong, I catch my reflection in a window and I look like H.R. Pufnstuff after a bad meth bender. Thankfully no one says anything about my new “do” and I get my kids and head home one rested mom.   

The following Sunday, I hit the Trifecta or should I say the Holy Trinity.  I found out that you can go to Adult Sunday School at 9, Church at 10 and then Bible Study at 11.   Childcare was provided for all of the above. That’s three hours, three whole hours of mini van nap time.  Many of you maybe thinking right about now that I’m a big Loser (note that I spelled loser with a capitol L).   You’re thinking, hey Loser what about daycare or mother’s day out programs?  Why do you have to nap on God’s time?  

Here’s the beauty of the church nap - you can’t leave the premises.  Once you drive out of the parking lot the Olive Garden pager doesn’t work.  Why is that so great?  It’s great because that means there is nothing else for you to do.  Let me explain further.  If your kids are in daycare that means you are at work.  Okay, so you can nap at work - a little.  Come on, who here hasn’t had some work related shut eye.   My favorite is staring at the computer screen with your eyes closed, head tilted slightly forward.  The way to get away with this is to also have a book and/or papers on your desk in front of you so anyone walking by will think you’re reading and writing while experiencing deep billable hours thoughts.   But, you can’t really rack out at the office.  You never reach the deep REM sleep you need because a part of your brain is on high alert for the boss.   If you’re at home full time with a non sleeping baby and the child is in some sort of “morning” program you are still seriously screwed in the nap department.   The few shorts hours you are baby free turns into a tsunami of errands, laundry and housecleaning.  There is no time for night, night.  But, at the church you can’t leave.   That means you go to worship or to the mini-van.  I choose mini-van.    

There were more upsides to the church nap.  All my church “attendance” was making my husband look bad and really what spouse doesn’t strive to make their “better” half look bad.  Here I was taking my children to church for three hours every Sunday, while he stayed home to “catch up” on work.  I was getting sleep and getting to be sanctimonious.  Oh, how I enjoyed getting on my high horse and throwing out verbal tidbits like, “Well, if you went to church you might feel better or today’s sermon really spoke to me.  I’m so sorry you missed it.”    That’s where I went wrong.  My moral superiority and out right lying - bite me right in the butt.

One Sunday, it all came crashing down.  My husband was up, dressed and ready for church.  He wanted to surprise me and have us all go to church as a family.  I was busted.  “Great!”, I say trying to hid my disappointment.  I start giving myself a pep talk in my head.  Okay, I tell myself, suggest you take two cars so he doesn’t have to stay for bible study.  That will grab you an hour of sleep.  Even better, tell him you need him to stay here and do stuff around the house while the kids won’t be in the way.  Nothing works the man is hell bent to go to church for three whole hours.

As soon as we drop the kids off at Sunday school it gets awkward.  Remember, I have never even been to the either sanctuary and I couldn’t find where they meet for adult Sunday school or bible study without GPS.  Never mind that no one has ever seen me before in Sunday school or bible study.  I have no choice, but to confess my sins.  I tell my husband we need to ditch church and go out to the mini-van to talk.  Sweet, naive man that he is, thinks I’m not feeling well.  “I look pale,” he says.  We slid into the van, I look fondly at my pillow and beach towel in the back seat, take a big breath and tell him the truth.   “Honey, “ I say, “I really miss our old church.  Would you mind very much if we got the kids and tried to make the 10 o’clock service?”  He didn’t mind one bit.  We turned in our Olive Garden pager, buckled the kids in and headed across town to our little, one sanctuary church.   I used the time to bid farewell to my Sunday morning mini-van worship and pray for my mortal soul so that one day I don’t spontaneously combust into flames on my way straight to hell.

Yes, Your Kid is a Genius - Now Leave Me Alone

Apparently, the test scores are wrong.  All wrong.  American children when compared with students in other countries continually score in the mediocre range in math and science and we’re perched pretty low on the reading totem pole, as well.  But, that can’t be right.  Just ask almost any parent and you’ll discover that their kids are all super geniuses.  

Yes, I once lived under the delusion that my children were brainics of the highest order.  Then, when they were each about 19 days old I realized I might be wrong.  Sure, if crying were a sign of intelligence then, why yes, back in the infant days they were geniuses.  Veritable Einstein’s at bawling their brains out.  But, alas I have learned to lower my expectations.  

Now, if my kids turn 25 with no more than one third of their bodies covered in tattoos, no more than two visible signs of piercing, no outstanding arrest warrants or jail time, no child born out of holy wedlock, the ability and job skills to pay their own electric bill plus no living in my basement then - yippee - we did it!  My husband and I can pat ourselves on the back we are/were successful parents.

The whole gifted child thing starts immediately after the precious baby is born.  Here you go lugging your bundle of joy around for everyone to see and some other “new mother” asks the dreaded question - Is he/she sleeping through the night?  Um, no because aren’t you supposed to feed them like every three hours?   Well, of course her little angel requires no night time nutrients and has been blissfully racking out for 10 hours a night since the day he came home from the hospital.  I know deep in my heart that there is a special place in hell for those Mom’s.  The women who take a scared, sleep deprived, first time Mom and begin to torture her with tales of their super baby and then look at you like you must be doing something wrong because your baby isn’t as awesome as their baby.

  After the sleeping through the night marathon there’s the rolling over, sitting and pulling up Olympics.  Followed by my personal favorite - sign language.  Yes if sucking on her fingers is a sign that my baby is hungry then yes she can sign. No, she can not sign her take on the nation’s health care conundrum or that she thinks my hair looks good today.   That is quickly followed by the triathlon of walking, talking and potty training.   Ah, those little mommy baby play dates are really an excuse for a baby throw down.  Babies, start you engines.  It’s time for Who’s the Better Baaaaaby - which loosely translates to Who’s the Better Mommy.  I never won - not once.  I didn’t even medal.  Although, one time I thought, for sure, I would get a bronze.

Fast forward to elementary school and the stakes get even higher. Who’s reading before kindergarten, who’s already doing addition and subtraction.  Then, there’s always the mom that thinks her little piece of heaven is too advanced for kindergarten and needs to leap frog directly to first grade or perhaps second.  Ugh.

 The worst is parents who like to share their children’s achievements with total strangers.  Peacock parents.  Here I was last month, enjoying spring break, sitting out by a hotel pool while my children frolic in the water, blessedly far, far away from me.  I was looking at the “spa menu” and contemplating why anyone would want to ruin a good massage, by sharing it with their husband.  Couples massage - yuck.  I’m sure it’s the same couples who have a I Love My Husband/Wife bumper sticker on their mini-van.  (Nothing against loving your spouse, but you’re married so I figure it’s like having a “I like breathing”  or “Food is good” bumper sticker. All that should be a given) or like to go shopping together.  

Nothing says love like a husband forlornly following his wife around a department store with a “Yes Dear” look on his face (picture Eeyore) as he waits outside the dressing room for her to “model” her “try-ons.”  It’s disturbing and I dare say a little creepy.  And - if the husband shows any enthusiasm for the process and helps his wife select outfits and offers insightful and in-depth style critiques like: “Try this on honey.  Purple is the new black and it goes smashing with your new Tory Burch flats. OMG, think of how we can accessorize! ” Run, do not walk, from your marriage because a couple of things are going on here.  First and foremost, your spouse is a tranny and he plans to wear that outfit around the house when your not home.  Those eggplant capri’s will really show off his hairy, yet surprisingly muscular calves. The total bummer - he’ll probably look better in them than you do.

Now on to that pesky mom - Mrs. Two Lawn Chairs Down From Me.  She disrupts my thought process and my mojito buzz by asking me how old my kids are.   I share the information and that is all it took for her to launch into a forty-seven minute monologue about her brood of geniuses. (Apparently, her hometown of Lufkin, Texas is a genius hot spot. Attention top tier colleges go to Lufkin for the best and brightest students.)  

Goodness, her 13 year old has already taken the SAT’s, her 8 year old is going to invitation only G.T. camp this summer and her 5 year old is so advanced it’s baffling the school where to put the little lamb-chop.  Kindergarten would be abhorrently easy and first grade would probably be a waste of time.  But, if they put her in second grade it would be precedent setting for the school district.  Ground breaking even.  It was absolutely keeping her awake a night.   

 Really?  Because it’s putting me to sleep. Like I care.  Like anyone besides her spouse and the grandparents would care. (I’m guessing even the g.p.’s are getting pretty sick of it by now too.)  What drives people to proselytize about their kids to strangers?  Is she hoping I work in college admissions at an Ivy League?  What about stranger danger?  Maybe I’m a pedophile who targets gifted children. She probably would have gone on longer, but mercifully one of my non-geniuses showed up begging for money for a snack. 

 I give my 13 year old son a ten dollar bill and tell him he has to split it with his sister.  He stares at me - bewildered.  I speak very, very slowly and go, “Take the ten dollars, buy yourself a snack that does not exceed five dollars so your sister will also have five dollars to spend on her snack.”  He acts all huffy and says “Duh, I know how to split a ten Mom, I thought you meant I had to share my snack with her.”  He then stomps off and give me an over the shoulder - “Whatever.”  Mojito buzz diluted further.

Spawner of geniuses hears entire discourse and pipes up, “How old did you say he was again?”  I reply, “He’s five years away from college, that’s how old.” “Oh my,” she says. It was a long drawn out “Oh My” with an overture of superiority, an undercurrent of ha, ha, my kid is better than your kid and just a wee bit of pity.  I sigh and think bad thoughts about her.  Can’t she leave me alone?  I’m a woman in need of solitude and I’m having to pay a daily resort fee on top on the hotel room rate so back off.   

  The real slap in the face is that she’s wearing a two piece for God’s sake and she looks okay in it.   Really - has she no mercy?  I’m wrapped up in a one piece with a full length sarong covering thighs no one needs to see e-v-e-r.  On top of that I have strategically draped two beach towels over my stomach.  Trust me if I could wear a burka to the pool I would.  Of course It would need to be somewhat fashionable, maybe in a pastel hue or even better tie dyed with just a touch of fringe.

But, nooo she takes a big breath and launches into phase two of her assault - her children’s G.T. aptitude scores and how they relate in correlation to their I.Q test.   I don’t want to be mean to people.  Every day I try to be a nice person.  Okay, not ever day, but most days. Well, let’s say most days I try to begin my day being nice. Emphasis on try. It’s spring break and I just want to escape my children for a few minutes, suck on my overpriced mojito that I’m seriously questioning, at this point, if it has any rum in it at all and be left blissfully alone.   Mrs. Two Lawn Chairs Down From Me is cutting into that alone time.   Yes, If I were a better person I would smile and nod and just let her drone on and go to “my happy place” (which is cakes and cobblers). But, I am not a better person.  So, I launch my counter attack - Operation Shut Up.

“Oh my,” I say, “I don’t want to alarm you, but I work with a consortium that is doing long term research on gifted children and their transition into adulthood and the findings have been rather surprising.”

“What, what do you mean?” she gasps and leans over her lawn chaise to hear me better.  “Well, we’ve found that most gifted children peak at a very young age.  For instance, your 13 year old may have already seen her intellectual hey day and your 5 year old could be a victim of “over peeking” where her brain stimulus core - to put in laymen’s terms  - just shuts down. (Nice touch I thought with the whole stimulus core. Maybe I’m a genius.)   It simply doesn’t want to process more information.  So, what seems like a high I.Q. now could in few years mean your kids will be average.  Much, like when infants learn to walk and talk. Some begin doing so earlier than others, but eventually everyone learns how.  My advice to you is what I tell every parent I see in my practice.  (Now, in my most syrupy, patronizing tone I add the kicker) Just love your kids (dramatic pause) no matter what their I.Q.”  

“You’re a doctor - she asks?”  “No, I’m not a M.D. I’m a research scientist,” I reply.  ( I say that because I’m thinking there’s laws against being a pool side faux physician - and with my luck as soon as I pretend to be a M.D. someone is going need CPR or a baby delivered. Although, twice I have pretended to be cop and once a F.B.I. agent.) 

Then I use my heavy artillery.  I say, “My son, you just met.”  She says quietly, “Yes, yes, the 13 year old.”  “Well, once upon a time I thought he was a child prodigy.  He talked in complete sentences at 3 months - off the charts developmentally.   Then, all of sudden a complete slow down in all mental growth.  He’s what inspired my research.”  

I grab at the edge of one of the beach towels stacked on my stomach, lift up my sunglasses and dab at my eyes for a final touch.

Mrs. Two Lawn Chairs Down is silent.  I rendered her speechless.  Yes, yes, yes, mission accomplished!  Slowly she gets up and gathers her belongings.

“Where you going?” I ask.  “A couples massage?”

“Umm, Umm”, she stammers.  “I think I need some time to process all you shared with me.”  

As she walks away I holler- “If you need more information just google - I.Q. back slash brain stimulus core.”

 Then I ordered myself another mojito, feel a little guilty for about 3 seconds, rearrange the towels on my stomach and soak up the sun and silence. Ahh.

Nipple Nation

I have seen enough bosom to last me a lifetime -specifically middle aged bosom.  No, I have not been frequenting strip clubs for the elderly.  I have been up at my children’s elementary school.  There so much cleavage on parade one would think the mobile mammogram van was idling in the school parking lot.  And no, it’s not the teachers who are working the low cut top -  it’s the moms.  The mom’s at their Parent Faculty Organization meetings, the mom’s on the field trip and at field day, the mom’s at the school party.  What’s with all the boobage?   Women - mature, middle aged mom’s now display what my Grandma Stella would call “Lingerie Bosom”  24/7.  

I know fashion dictates low cut tops, plunging v-neck, see through burn out shirts and multiple bra straps.   I, also, know middle aged mom’s, in general, suffer from repressed breast syndrome.  The current M.A.M. came of age in the 80’s.  The style was preppy.  We all wore ridiculously starched button down shirts. I had a rainbow of Ralph Lauren polo button downs. We went into the work force in our man clothes.  Button down’s buttoned all the way up, navy blazer and navy skirt down to our mid calf.   Now, in middle aged our breasts want their time to shine.  They’ve done the heavy lifting of pregnancy, child birth and breast feeding.  They want their moment in the spotlight.  I get it.  But, I’m thinking you cross the line when you’re exposing your breasts at the elementary school .  

School Meetings

Here it is 8:15 in the morning and I’m perched on a way too small for my butt seat in the cafetorium for a P.F.O. (Parent Faculty Organization) meeting.  Isn’t it enough that we volunteer at the school.  Do we have to be tortured by sitting on seats designed for the rear ends of six year olds?   Basically, one cheek is all that is fitting on the seat. I keep on shifting cheeks.  It’s like a mat pilate’s workout- right cheek up, hold for five, relax, now left cheek up, repeat.  I’m suddenly distracted from my ass pain when the PFO president stands and welcomes the parents.  Behold the bountiful breasts blossoming out of an ultra scoop neck top that looks like it came straight from Pamela Anderson’s closet.  Is she leaving right from the elementary school meeting to work the lunch shift at Hooters?     Her tips would be pretty good because I’m guessing she’s at least an E cup.

The Prez has her twins literally hanging out at the PFO meeting. Hello the school principal is at the meeting. I amuse myself by watching him as he tries to keep his eyes diverted from the presidential bosom.  He looks at his notebook. He looks at the ceiling. He looks at the clock.  His shoes seem to fascinate him.  He can’t stop gazing at them.  He looks anywhere but at super bosom.  The president takes a deep cleansing breath - uh oh - will her breasts stay in that top or make a run for it?  I’m sensing and hoping and cheering for a Janet Jacksonesque wardrobe malfunction.  Miraculously, due to the wonders of lycra- I’m sure - the girls stayed put.   She then addresses the parents and asks if anyone has questions about the latest round of school budget cuts.  No one has a question.  We’re all mesmerized by her swaying chest. It’s put everyone in a hypnotic state.  

I ask the mom sitting next to me what’s up with the tiny top.  Did our PFO president get new boobs?  Because I can understand wanting to highlight a chest you’ve dropped a couple of grand on.  It’s like when you get a new car and you love everything about it.  The smell, the leather, the fun of accelerating on the freeway.   After breast enhancement I can see  wanting to take those boobs out for a joy ride.  I had a friend that got her breasts enlarged and before surgery she was so shy that she couldn’t even use a public restroom because she was embarrassed for people to hear her pee.  After her surgery her enthusiasm for her new and improved chest had her flashing me at a Chuck E. Cheese.  There I was getting tokens, I look up and it’s two pert boobs staring me in the face.

 The mom I asked about the status of the PFO president’s boobs replies with a very curt, “I’m sure I don’t know” and then she attempts to lean as far away from me as possible.  Sure, like she’s not looking at them.  I know what I’d like to do.  Go straight to Robert Rules of Order and make a motion that no nipples be displayed at any school function before 10 a.m.  Let’s all at least have our second cup of coffee or diet coke before flashing the children, faculty or parents.  Do I hear a second on that motion? 

School Parties

School parties also seem to bring out the breasts.  Third grade Valentine’s Day party and it’s like the Mom’s all shopped at Victoria’s Secret before the party and came to show off their new bras.  Okay, ladies we’re here to help celebrate the holidays with a class of eight olds not showcase our racks.  As the party progresses the unspeakable happens  - F.N.E.   Full Nipple Exposure.  I could be to blame. As room parent I assigned a mom, I secretly nicknamed “Boobs Ahoy” (She earned that name three years ago when she showed up with her son to the first day of Kindergarten wearing a mesh, that’s right nude mesh, halter top) to the task of helping at the arts and craft center.  The parent helper must bend way, way over a very low to the ground table and help the kids with gluing hearts on their valentines.   This resulted in  “Boobs Ahoy’s” F.N.E.  I watched as first her aureola made an appearance then both her nipples escaped.  Oh my. What to do?  As room parent is it my obligation to inform her that she is flashing the third grade?  I don’t know.  Boobs Ahoy has never been that friendly.  No, that’s wrong she’s been a big jerk.  You know the mom that you’ve been introduced to numerous times, your kids have been in the same class for three years and she still acts like she doesn’t know you.   Wow, she’s not even feeling a breeze on her naked chest. She just keeps on gluing.  I’ll give her points for dedication to the arts and crafts table.  

Fun’s over, here comes the teacher.  She whispers in Boobs Ahoy ear, B.A. looks down at her chest, does a giggle/gasp, and begins a major top readjust that involves Boobs Ahoy sticking both her hands inside her bra, some wiggling and a little hop.  Amazing.  

Field Day

I know School Field Day is usually hot and muggy but Mom’s do you have to wear your under-wire push up jog bra without a tee shirt?  It’s called a jog bra.  Don’t you usually cover your bra with some sort of top unless your Madonna in the 80’s.  I’m not a prude and I don’t think we should walk around dressed like Pentecostal brides,(what’s with their hair?) but isn’t it good manners for parents to follow the school dress code?  I’ve become immune to seeing Mom’s with their thong and tramp stamp combo peeking out from their pants.   It’s field day not a frat mixer with the Phi Delts. Of course the cleavage moms always volunteer at the water balloon station.  It’s middle aged mom’s gone wet jog bra wild.  The upside - our school has historically had a lot of Dad’s signing up to help at field day.

Balls Ahoy

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention an event that almost caused me to go blind.  Let’s call it equal opportunity flashing.  Four years ago, at the back to school ice cream social our principal showed up in his bike shorts.  Not just any bike shorts, but underwear optional, sheer white, skin tight, sweat soaked, spandex bike shorts that left nothing to the imagination.  He might as well been wearing a translucent speedo. At the risk of grossing you out, I will share that you could see Mr. Principal’s principle man parts.  Mr. Principal is not a young men.  He was three years shy of retirement.  It was a true “long balls ahoy.”  In an effort, to demonstrate to the kids the wonder of physical fitness Mr. Principal rode his bike to school.  As he sauntered onto the playground where the ice cream social was being held, the sun was just in the right position to shine through the shorts and expose his junk. You could hear whispers, a couple of Holy Crap’s, gagging, mother’s covering their children’s eyes and stunned silence.  I, of course, began taking pictures for the principal pictorial in the yearbook. Oh, yeah, I got my money shot.  I don’t know if it’s related, but Mr. Principal transferred from our school less than a year later.  

I Am Not a Crack Whore

Play dates, as we all know, are a way of life.  The lucky mom is the one with their kid at someone else’s house.  Ah - it’s a few more hours of precious freedom and you don’t have to play after school snack bingo.  

Mother:  “What do you want for a snack?”  

Child:  “I don’t know what do we have?”  

(Mother then begins to recite contents in entire pantry and refrigerator (preferably in alphabetical order) - cheese, cheeze- its, cheese nips, cheetos, cheerios,  until child finally settles on something or your scream - whatever comes first.) 

My daughter had invited a friend from school to come over.  I got on the phone to talk to the Mom and that’s when my life entered what I like to call a “Modern Mothering” moment.  The mother told me she didn’t feel comfortable with her daughter coming over to our house until she makes a “personalized visit.”  Now, to be fair, a part of me gets that - sort of - but, I had meet this mother many times up at school during different volunteer “opportunities” and each of those time I was actually out of my Target sweats (or as my husband calls them - day pajamas, but that’s just because he’s jealous he can’t wear day pajama’s to work) with make up on so I’m thinking I didn’t look that scary.  Point is  -it wasn’t a cold call.  I was, a bit taken aback, but hey whatever, come on over.  We set up a time where she could “pay me a visit.”  

The Visit

The house was basically clean and I had not one, but two scented candles -Glade linen breeze burning to disguise the odor of dog and guinea pig. I would have used my special occasion Yankee Candles, but I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying too hard.  I also, just for fun, placed a bible discreetly on the coffee table.  And by discreetly, I mean it was on top on my In Style magazine, diet coke adjacent.  I even made chocolate mini muffins.  Okay, so they were from a 57 cent Jiffy mix from Walmart, but hey I made something.  I then hide my husbands booze and pushed his big ole Costco supersized boxed wine to the back of the fridge and slid the gallon of milk and two salad dressing bottles in front of it.  And yes, I groomed.  I upgraded to my “dress” sweats from Kohl’s. I was like “bring it on sister.”

Well, she brought it.

My first hint that this was not going to go well was when she walked into my home with a face frozen into a smirk of perpetual superiority. I hadn’t seen someone look at me like that since I showed up in a khaki skirt with navy blue knee socks at a Kappa rush party.  As any good hostess would do I offered her something to eat.  Perhaps some tea with one of my “homemade” mini muffins.  No can do, the muffins have trans fat and the tea caffeine.  Her family is a proponent of the “clean diet.”  Since there is nothing in my house that doesn’t contain a trans fat and my fruit is non organic ( I think) I offer her a glass of water.  Opps - my water straight from the tap and non filtered is also declined.  

We then move on to the interview portion of the visit. Do I have firearms in my house?  I try to make a joke that the only guns in the house are my biceps, which I thought was hilarious because my arms are so flabby the under fat swings to and fro during any kind of breeze.  She didn’t even get it.   This becomes awkward because I’m trying to make her get the joke by swinging my arm fat in her face.  That didn’t even work. Next question - Have my husband or I ever been arrested and/or convicted of a felony?  Pardon me?  Do we keep liquor in the home?  “For sure - lots of it, but only for medicinal purposes.”   

Now I am starting to get ticked off. It’s one thing to question me about fire arms and felonies, but you start hurling judgement on my husband’s booze stash and you’ve crossed a line.  I wanted to stand and shout - hey lady, I am not a crack whore!  Poor naive me I thought she was just coming over for a little lookie loo chit chat to confirm that yes, her family is far superior to mine.  I could have saved her the visit and shared that information over the phone.  I do not have to be subjected to a duel visit from Child Protective Services and the Parole Board.  Now, I have to get her out my house. 

How?  What will remove her from the premises, but not contribute to the after school pick up lane mom gossip.  Hmm.  I could take the high road.  But, should I?  I’ve been insulted. She didn’t even try a muffin.  Don’t I deserve a little retribution?  Just a little bit of fun would be okay wouldn’t it?  I hear the continuous loop in my head of my husband wailing” please don’t embarrass the family.” (Like that ship hasn’t sailed.)  But, aspersions were cast on his liquor wouldn’t he want me to defend his love of alcoholic spirits?  Oh, he would.  Definitely.

I drop the bomb.  “You know we lived in Nevada for four years and they have slot machines in the grocery store and prostitution is legal - even dudes being prostitutes just got legalized which I say is about time because hey, we ladies have a right to a little pay and lay, I mean play, if you know what I mean.”  1, 2, 3 seconds is all took to get her to start gagging and coughing, then she grabbed her Prada purse, hauled butt out of my front door and backed her vintage Mercedes down my driveway so fast she drove in my grass.  I walked into my kitchen, stuffed about 6 mini muffins into my mouth, chugged my non organic milk straight from the carton and thought oh yeah-  Nevada rocks! 

When Bunko Is Code for Bible Study

Bunko is a dice game that is popular among middle aged chicks in the burbs.   The best thing about it is that it requires no skill.  You don’t want to have to think when you play bunko. You just roll the dice, blab, roll the dice again and blab, blab some more. Which is perfect because bunko is really an excuse to escape your husband and children, drink heavily during a weekday evening and gossip enthusiastically and in length about the people that aren’t there.  In a word - heaven.

Except my friends I have found an alternative Bunko universe.  Where there are no  alcoholic spirits and no gossip.  I’m talking about good, clean fun. (In a word -hell.)

Let me set the stage.  As a neighborhood newbie I’m excited to be invited to Bunko.  Yes - I can get some tacky tidbits on the neighbors, a little inside scoop on the mom’s at the elementary school.  Good times.   I’ve been instructed to arrive with the “fun” beverage of my choice.  Ladies, it’s time to break out the “jingle juice” vodka, o.j; orange liqueur, and a splash of cranberry.  Yummy.  I walk over to my neighbors with my pitcher of vodka sunshine, ready to get my groove on.   First clue something was wrong - I was the only one sporting an alcoholic beverage.  Oops.  I was adrift in a sea of diet coke, decaf coffee and root-beer (yes, root-beer). Second clue, the bibles (note the plural) on the tables.

In this Bunko universe the dice are only for holy rolling.  Oh yeah, you read that right.  Holy Rolling.  You sit down and roll those dice and whatever number they land on you start thinking about a bible verse with those numbers. Confused and perhaps a little scared? I was. (Basically, I’m thinking I’m being punked?  Is this some bizarre form of neighborhood initiation?) Let me explain further.  For instance, It’s my turn to roll the dice and one dice rolls 3, the other a 1  hmm.  Let’s get our bibles and see what verse we can find to share with the group.  Oh goodie, here’s one Proverbs 3:1: “My son, do not forget my teaching….etc”  Now, Proverbs 3:1 is a perfectly good bible verse.  But Bunko is not about the bible.  If it was we wouldn’t be breaking at least one commandment.

Side Bar time: I’m thinking about number 10 - coveting.  A lot of us covet.  Don’t you think some gossip is predicated on our secret or unconscious coveting of someone or something?  (I, covet thighs that don’t rub together when I walk. Really, I can’t wear corduroys.  I make too much noise.) Admit it, most of us love hearing some juicy tidbit about the skinny-hot mom in our kid’s class. Even better if the gossip is outrageous - like what if that skinny-hot mom used to be a man? That would explain those super long legs and no sag boobage factor.  Nothing circulates faster through the school pickup/drop off line than a little transgender fodder.

But, I digress - back to Bunko.  So, you read your bible verse.  The group ponders and discusses the verse and then the next person rolls her bible dice.  This goes on for h-o-u-r-s. Whatever, it wasn’t really hours, but it felt like it. Imagine the worst church sermon you have had to ever sit through combined with the most boring college lecture class.  So, what’s a girl to do?  Hatch an escape plan, course. I would like to go on record and state that I did try my best to be an adult and stay the entire time.  But I caved. I couldn’t do it.

Escape Plan: Step one  - I start drinking the jingle juice.  Liquid fortification was first on my list.  Step two - after the 16th bible verse is discussed I go to the bathroom and call my teenaged son.  Tell him to call me in 5 minutes or get grounded.  Step Three: Phone rings 5 minutes later. I use the standard “family needs me line”  and run, not walk or skip, but full on run home, hugging my precious left over jingle juice to my chest.  Safe at last, I cross the threshold to my home and bolt the door, pour myself whatever is left of the jingle juice and pray not for God’s forgiveness, but to help these women find a way to loosen up their spanx and have some fun.  Really, all that inner virtue and righteousness will give you wrinkles.  Think about it.  Have you really ever known many preacher’s wife that were babes?  Point made.

Bad, Bad, Mommy

Curious thing about moving - it illuminates all your abysmal qualities.  I have discovered I am a bad, bad, mommy.  We’ve moved to a place where people are good - really good.  I, on the other hand, could kindly be described as a “goodness slacker.”  Examples of “Goodness” I just couldn’t get behind.

Halloween Candy Hand Off

Okay, folks Halloween is on a Saturday and the kids are supposed to show up to school on Monday with all their Halloween candy to donate to charity.  Say what?  (If you do the math and subtract hours for sleeping etc. that leaves a child and/or parent with only 12 hours of precious quality time with their Halloween candy.)  First, no chocolate leaves the perimeter of my home.  I got the note from school and went to DefCon 1 - Total lock-down.

Sure, my daughter may have trick or treated, but I claim ownership of the chocolate, delicious, fun size Snicker bar yumminess of it all in that Halloween bag.  Take your jaw breakers, your gum, your lame laffy taffy to school, and the godforsaken bags of “dried apples” (ugh), but the chocolate stays at home. Mommy needs her Musketeers, her Mars bars and M&M’s.  They’re my buddies. My little “go to guys” in the morning and mid afternoon.  My friends late at night.  Isn’t it bad enough that some have tried to turn an awesome holiday like Halloween into a lame “Harvest Festival.”  We are not celebrating the harvest we are celebrating candy - specifically chocolate.   So, my poor daughter, saddled with a mother with a chocolate addiction, had to take a solitary ziploc bag (sandwich size - not snack.  I’m not that evil) of “icky” (re: stuff I didn’t want) candy to school.  I’m a bad, bad, mommy.

Birthday Parties/Bring a Gift for the Needy

Really, your kid doesn’t get to unwrap her umpteenth webkinz or Bonnie Bell scented lip gloss set?  She gets to receive presents for the needy.   I know, I know great concept - but, your kids party? This is the venue you choose to do your family charity donations?  We have not attended a B’day yet where you actually bring a present for the birthday girl.  No - as stated on the invitation you bring a gift that the b’day girl will open and then will get donated to charity. Every mother with a daughter stop doing this right now!  

Our precious daughters have a very limited window in their life when they will be the recipient of a party and are required to do nothing, but be greedy.  I know you’re thnking, but about when they get married and have all the wedding showers and get all those wedding presents.  Do you really think that receiving an Oneida salad fork or Tupperware compare with the thrill of opening up a My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Evening Wear set or a Barbie Cheetah Dream Car?  Of couse not.  If your female as soon as you have a significant other you start having to throw yourself your own birthday party.  Oh sure, your husband one year may actually “do something.”  And guess what happens - your whole party everyone talks about him. “Oh your husband was so great to do this party for you. You are so lucky” and on and on.  So, yes once again it’s all about someone else on your special day.  Never mind, that when you throw your husband a huge, surprise party no one says to your spouse, “Your wife is God’s gift to marriage to throw you such a wonderful party.”  Nope, not one word.  That’s because the wife is “supposed to” do things like this for her husband.   In the interest of little girls everywhere - stop the party hijacking.

Prayers in the school parking lot -  First - let it be duly noted that I pray and that I believe in the power of prayer.  But, group prayer in the elementary school parking lot - hmm, maybe not.  Yes indeed, mom’s gather every afternoon 30 minutes before the bell rings for prayer.  It’s public school so they have to pray off school property in the nearby Mini Mart parking lot.   The mommy mini-vans form a circle, much like in covered wagon days, and the mom’s open their van sliding doors and pray away.   I too once owned a mini-van and the only thing I prayed about while sitting in said van was for the dear lord to get me out of it.  I also pray about other things these days like - dear, dear lord may my jeans still fit, may I not murder my teenage son and please, please give me the strength to not take the credit card with the highest limit and runaway from my family to create a new single life for myself as a dashing, devil may care, middle age, peri-menopausal, vixen.  So, far those prayers are being answered.