Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Drunks

I’m a cradle Catholic.  There have been a lot of Lenten sacrifices.  And believe you me…it’s hard to give up something that you really love for 40 days. 

That’s why this year, I wised up and sacrificed something I’m not all that fond of:  sex with my husband.  I’ve really enjoyed my respite in the name of religion, and the hubs hasn’t even noticed.  “We do it more than once every 40 days?” he asked the other day when I commented on how well I was doing. 

Here is a history of a few Lenten sacrifices past:

1.)     Nintendo

I am undiagnosed, but it’s clear that I’m way OCD with certain things.  I always say that in very few cases, where my undiagnosed disorder turns into something more like willpower, it can serve me well.  For example, I won’t skip a workout unless I’m near death, shuddering in a hospital bed with a tick disease (more on that someday)—and then I will make it up by going even harder the next week, when I’ve stopped seeing blood in my piss.

Lenten sacrifices are another case where my OCD/willpower serves me well.  No sweets for my little 9-year-old self for over a month?  No problem.  I’ll run to the bathroom and spit into the sink if my malicious, heathen older sister “accidentally” drops a grain of sugar onto my lumpy Quaker oatmeal at breakfast.

So it was a shock to us all one sunny Saturday afternoon during Lent when, in the midst of my Lenten Nintendo sacrifice, my pre-teen self picked up a controller to help my younger brother get past one of the bad guys in Kid Nikki.

I had only pushed one or two buttons on that little gray controller when I heard my older sister’s gasp.  Suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks—or, more aptly, a ton of charcoal waiting to be doused with lighter fluid and set on fire like the sinner I was.

I looked down, eyes wide, and dropped that controller like it was on fire—which it might as well have been, since I was now convinced I was going to hell for effing up my Lenten sacrifice.  This thought was confirmed by my older sister, who, incidentally, hadn’t given a damned thing up since 1977.  (She was born in ’75.)  She looked at me with wide, innocent eyes that everyone in the family could see right through, and she said this:  “Maybe you’ll be able to play Nintendo in hell?”

My nostrils began flaring and my lips quivering, signifying that a pretty good cry was coming on.  I felt a little bit better when my Dad reached down and gave her a quick flicky-wrist slap to the back of the head for being an asshole.  It made her head bop forward a few inches in the most undignified manner, and I smiled momentarily.

But my face soon fell once again when I remembered I was going to hell.

My happiness had been fleeting.

2.)     The Year I Heard that You Can Add Something Instead of Giving Something Up

I thought adding something would be easy, and it wasn’t so bad except that it made me come off looking like more of a damned wackadoo than people already think I am.

I decided I would bring back the art of letter-writing, and each day I would write a letter to someone different, whether it be a family, a friend, or a co-worker.

But I couldn’t just make it that easy, now could I?  No, I had to be all Opus Dei about it and make myself suffer a little bit.  So I started looking up family members I hardly knew—people like my grandma’s first cousins and shit—to make it harder on myself.

I called my grandma one day and asked her for the address of one of her sisters.  This was her reply:  “My sister…in the looney bin?  How did you even know about her?”

She told me later that she began having to field angry phone calls.  “Lorraine, could you please tell your weirdo grandkid to stop contacting me?  Does she realize that you’re her grandmother, not me?”

But I refused to give up, dammit.  Finally Grams just sent me a copy of her address book and I went to work.  Luckily I didn’t receive the letter that came back “Return to Sender:  Recipient has been dead for 17 years” until the end of Lent.  Otherwise my spirit might have been broken and I MIGHT have been given up. 

But dammit, that was one Lenten activity that was completed.  (Minus the letter to the dead person, and I forgave myself that because when it came back to me, I read it out loud with my face pointing toward the sky, hoping that that’s where he’d gone.)


3.)     Ciggies

I was a pack-a-day smoker in college.  I still enjoy a ciggie every now and again, but I shit you not when I say that I will buy a pack and it will last me 3-4 months, as I only smoke when I drink, and I hardly ever have time to drink enough to bring on a cigarette craving.

My ultimate goal is to raise my kids quickly so that I can go straight back to being a bar whore who tastes and smells like a chimney.  But for now, responsible adulthood will have to do.  SIGH.

Anyway, back in college, I had the same happy-go-lucky attitude that I do now…but who knew that in my late teens and early 20’s, that smiling personality was dependent on cigarettes?

The first day I gave them up for Lent, I’d made it to about 7 PM when I had a break from my sales associate job at Wal-Mart. I headed to the break room with a friend who worked in a different department, and we sat down in the smokers’ room, I with a cup of coffee, she with a cigarette.

About 2 seconds into the break—I don’t even remember what we were talking about—she narrowed her eyes, exhaled a plume of smoke, and said, “You’re a goddamned bitch tonight. You’ll start smoking again or I’ll kick your ass myself.”

Remember all of that OCD bullshit I talked about in number 1?  Went straight out the window the next day, when I started smoking again and instead gave up Taco Bell (which was almost as hard).  But at least I still had my friends—and had spared myself a good ass-whooping.  I had no doubt that she could—and would—do it.

4.)    Coffee

This one was fun. 

At work one day back when I was a middle school teacher, I strode to the front of my classroom with a wide smile on my face.  “Kids, I’m giving up coffee for Lent!” I announced.

I waited about 5 seconds before bursting into hilarious laughter.  “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Just kidding!”

I looked around the room, where several seats were suddenly empty.  And it dawned on me that I’d scared the poor little things.

“Come on, guys…it was a joke.  You can come out now…” I goaded gently.

One of them had been in the corner of the room, crying, and another had been huddled under a pile of jackets under the coat rack in the back of the room, whimpering “Please don’t” over and over again softly.

I’d always thought they’d been kidding when they’d said that they gauged my mood based on how many cups of coffee I’d had each morning…I guess not?

5.)     My Favorite Story about One of My Dad’s Sacrifices

My dad announced a couple of years ago that he was giving up alcohol for Lent. 

It reminded me of a boyfriend I had in college whose Lenten sacrifice had been liquor.  I remember that when he was telling our group of friends this, everyone had gasped, impressed.

I had gasped, too, realizing that I was going to have to break up with him.  I’d already told him the same thing that I would tell my soon-to-be-husband years later:  “Giving up drinking is a deal breaker.  I don’t need some pansyass breathing down my neck, judging me and counting my sips.”

My husband’s response, when we’d had “the talk,” had been priceless:  Sips?  When’s the last time you took a damned sip, guzzler?”

Back in college, the boyfriend had quickly rectified the situation with a cute laugh.  “I said liquor, babe.  Not beer.  I can still drink beer.”

I didn’t mean to be an asshole, but I was a bit skeptical of his choice of sacrifice.  “You bag groceries for $5.50 an hour.  You can’t afford liquor. The fanciest thing you can buy is Natural Light.”

He put a sweet smile on his face as he looked at me and explained.  “I know, but I bet I’d like whiskey. It’s probably a pretty good sacrifice.”

By the way, I’d simply been stating the facts; I hadn’t been making fun of his job.  He’d been working to pay his way through college, and besides, I’d always found a hard worker sex-ay, no matter what the work. 

It didn’t matter, though, because a few months into the relationship, I cheated on him, he found out, and I was quite unceremoniously dumped, followed in quick succession by a major dumping by the guy with whom I’d cheated for several months.

Ah, well.  You win some, you lose some, right?

ANYWAY, the point of the whole story was this:  One year my dad gave up alcohol for Lent.  My dad’s not even that big of a drinker, but you know how when you can’t have something, that makes you want it even more?

By the time Easter rolled around, one mention of beer had my dad salivating harder than I did during what my family has now termed my collegiate “drunken slobber” days.  So when the hubs and I and our son arrived at Dad’s house for our annual Easter festivities, we weren’t surprised to see the elaborate setup outside on Dad’s screened-in back deck.

Not only had Dad purchased 3 additional coolers so that he now had no fewer than 4 vessels in which to safely hold the multitude of different beers, but he had also procured a new printer ribbon solely for the purpose of printing signs—complete with clip art of little beers and wine glasses—on which he’d labeled the types of beer in each cooler with a little arrow, in case we didn’t realize that you reach DOWN into a cooler to grab a beer.

This was before I’d gone back to work, and the hubs had taken the next day off, simply because we’d known something like this was going to happen. We only had one kid back then, and he was easy to take care of. We knew that when my mom arrived in an hour or so, we’d have an on-site babysitter for the night.  We dug right in.

When the rest of my brothers and sisters and their kids arrived a couple of hours later, their eyes narrowed as they walked into the yard to find my dad, my husband and I traipsing around the yard, flinging eggs for the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

“Are you guys drunk?” my older sister asked, an amused expression on her face.

“We are,” I admitted, somewhat ashamed.  “But blame him,” I said, turning on my dad.  “And his stupid printer.”

"Yeah, what of it?” my dad challenged, shooting her a glare.  “YOU try giving up beer for 40 days!”

It seemed like all at the same time, our eyes rested on my older sister’s bulbous, heavily-pregnant belly.  She was due in about two months.

“Yes,” she responded dryly.  “Whatever would I do?”

It was one of my favorite Easters ever.

Happy Easter to all of you.  I hope it ends up being one of your favorites. 



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Facebook Wars and Easter Peeps

This is the kind of shit you’re missing if you’re not my mom’s Facebook friend:

You’d better hurry up and ask her before she gets cocky and stops accepting friend requests (besides the ones from the guys she meets on Christian Mingle and, of course)…

But seriously, don’t.  Not that many of you know me or my mom personally since I’m stealthy like a ninja in my quest to stay anon—but if you do—seriously, don’t Facebook friend my mom.  She shares shit like the picture above all the time.

She posted that particular gem one night around midnight, and it came along with a request to her ex-boyfriend’s daughter in the comment section to commission this mural.  Let me lay it down more clearly for you, peeps:  SHE WAS GOING TO PAY SOMEONE TO PAINT THIS CAT ON HER LIVING ROOM WALL. 

At first this had me questioning her sobriety.  And then, before I knew it, I found that I didn’t really care if she was drunk, because something even more curious was happening:  the middle finger of my right hand was pressing down on my mouse in a quest to SAVE this ridiculous cat picture onto my hard drive. 

I almost smacked myself in the face—whatever would I do with such a stupid Facebook post?  And then I realized that my hand had simply been acting on reflex, and my brain was just a bit slower to catch on.  When it did, I finally understood that I was saving this because I knew I would have to use it to make fun of my mom in a blog post one day.  And that day has come.

Because she keeps doing it and it needs to stop.  Or rather, I say that it needs to stop, but I’m actually secretly enjoying it.  The progression went a little bit like this:  At first I loved having my mom on Facebook—she was kind of funny!  But then she got all rambly and weird, and my siblings and I didn’t even want to post anything for fear that she might reply—and you simply cannot be at your computer or on your phone every second of every day to monitor what your mom might say.  Believe me, I’ve tried, and I’ve found that I need my arms for other things, like drinking beer and eating tater tots.

In any case, we couldn’t get Mom to shut the hell up.  And I was annoyed.

But now…well, now I’m at the point where I simply can’t help myself.  I look forward to seeing what she’s going to share any given day, because each post is worse than the last.  It’s like watching a damned train wreck.

My older sister and I have learned to have a blast with it.  Whichever one of us gets to it first will simply tag the other on the first comment under whatever ridiculous “Mom post” pops up on our feed that hour. 

We don’t say anything else at all. We don’t need to.  It’s great fun.

Blame the fact that we’re easily amused on our parents.  They didn’t spoil us enough growing up, so we had to make do with what we had.  Obviously it’s a lesson that has been carried on throughout our lives.  It is only just now beginning to serve us well.

This was the post where my mom finally wised up and caught on to us, probably because I broke the rule and responded to my sister’s tag:

Older Sister:  Shay
Me:  OMG, I’m going to skip my 6-mile run today because I tossed and turned so much last night.
Mom:  Shut up

And then there was the one where my older sister and I had to have a chat because I was so disappointed in her.  It started with a post saying my mom had won a free coconut wheel on some sort of virtual game she was playing, and my older sister took over from there:

Older sister:  Shay, LOOK!  A free coconut wheel!
Mom:  Shut up
Mom:  And give me a life
Older sister:  Okay, I’ll try…not sure how?

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I asked my sister angrily over the phone that night.  “I was SO with you.  I was all set to type, ‘All I’ve ever WANTED is a free coconut wheel!’—and then you jump in with that last comment?  Whose side are you on?”

“The woman needed help, Shay,” my older sister replied heatedly.  “It’s CANDY CRUSH SAGA, and she only had 5 hours to play today, for God’s sake!”

Holy shit.

And then came the day when the entire thing came crashing down.  Recently, my mom and my older sister got into a fight because my older sister felt that my mom was sharing too many pictures of Easter peeps on her Facebook page, and that Easter peeps are stupid.

I’m not even kidding, you guys.  This was a real fcking fight that they had.

I believe that this was the image that sent my older sister over the edge.  My mom shared it, like she does all of her peeps pictures, in honor of Easter—because don’t you know that this is how we Catholics honor Easter?

It all ended with my older sister unfriending my mom, which was really sad because now who would I tag in the comments section to make fun of my mom’s posts?  My dad was out; he refuses to accept my mom’s lingering friend request because she’s embarrassing.

 Then came this fluttering across my feed, courtesy of my mom:

And I didn’t have one person to tag.

Not one motherfcking person.

I had to do something, so this is what I did:  I risked Facebook deletion from my sister by fueling the peep fire and taking all of the peeps pictures on my mom’s page and sharing them on my older sister’s.  It was only partially malicious—in all honesty, I love those goddamned peeps pictures.  I think they’re hilarious.  It’s the one differing element in my and my older sister’s normally quite similar senses of humor.

Anyway, I was hoping that all of my older sister’s peeps anger would be directed toward me instead of my mom, and that she’d need someone to which to complain about me, forcing her to re-friend my mom—because if there’s one thing my mom loves, it’s a little family drama.

And it worked, peeps.  It worked. 

My mom and my older sister were Facebook friends again the next day. 

The first thing my mom did?  She posted this picture, captioned “Riding with My Peeps” on my older sister’s page:

She’s learning.  J

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mad Libs

Remember Mad Libs?  That word game you played as a kid where you filled in a word based on what part of speech it was without knowing the context of the rest of the sentence?
Mad Libs are always just a little bit scary for a middle school English teacher—and that makes them all the more exciting for a middle school English student, as we all know exactly what goes on in their little turd minds:  Hmmm…what can we get away with?  (Of course I mean, “With what can we get away?” but how ridiculous does that sound?)

But dammit, Mad Libs teach a ton about the parts of speech and how to use them, and besides, they’re just fun.

So one Friday afternoon back when I was a middle school teacher, I took the plunge.  I allowed my students to do Mad Libs. 

You see, not only was it Friday, but it was also 2:30 in the afternoon on a beautiful, sunny, spring-like March day. After weeks of snow, we were all in glorious moods as we listened to the birds chirp and felt a gentle breeze blowing into the windows of our double-wide “mobile classroom.” (I loved the way they made us call it that, like the guy I dated who lived in a trailer and made me call it “Sweet 51” instead of “Suite 51” or the even more accurate “Lot 51.”  Although I suppose if we’re talking semantics here, “dated” is the wrong word, too, because a guy who lived in a trailer that he called Sweet 51 felt that he was too good for me…okay, what was the question again?)

Anyway, Mad Libs were in order if only as a means of celebrating the break in the cold weather.

After giving my students about 10 minutes to complete the first set, I asked if there were any volunteers who wanted to read aloud Mad Libs that had turned out particularly good.  I knew I was in trouble when two of my boys jumped up, tears of laughter in their eyes.

“Is it appropriate for school?” I was quick to ask.  This wasn’t my first rodeo; I’d taught middle school English for about 5 years.  I never gave an assignment that wasn't appropriate for school, but you'd be surprised what middle schoolers can do with seemingly innocent writing assignments--so I always double-checked.

One of them looked away.  “Um…yeah.  Totally.  We didn’t use any…bad words or anything.”

I sighed.  “Alright,” I said, placing just enough of a warning tone in my voice, “but if you’re questioning whether or not a part is appropriate, then it’s better to just not read it.”

“Not questioning anything,” the second boy assured me, and I swear he gave me a Boy Scout salute.

I was wary, but decided against saying anything else, since all of my Mad Libs threats always came out like this:  “Okay, there’d better not be anything inappropriate, or else I’ll…”

I mean, seriously, what the hell was I going to do if a Mad Lib was inappropriate?  Call the kid’s parents and tell them that he’d used banana one too many times?  Shit.  I was stuck between a rock and a hard place (the latter being an example of an inappropriate term for Mad Libs), and those little bastards damned well knew it.

So they read it, and I’ll admit, the Mad Lib was funny.  For all the wrong reasons, yes—but still, I had to hand it to them.  It was funny.

“Okay, okay,” I said when the laughter had died down.  “I think it’s time we lay down a few ground rules.”

There was a huge groan from the classroom.  Awwwwww, WHY?” several of the kids asked.

“Because that was the first one, and they’re already sounding perverse.”

The boys who had just read hunched down, not wanting to attract any further attention from me.  It would mean facing the wrath of their classmates if I put a stop to Mad Libs because of their story.

In the meantime, one of my girls—we’ll call her Theresa—one of my dear, sweet, innocent little girls who probably still played with Barbie dolls at home—looked up at me.  “Which words are not okay to use?”

I knew she wasn’t being a smartass; she simply didn’t know.

“No nuts,” I said, lifting my chin in defiance at the ones I knew understood what I was talking about—particularly, the two boys who had just used nuts in every single “plural noun” slot of their Mad Lib. 

“No nuts?” Theresa asked, confusion written all over her face in the form of a furrowed brow.  “Why not?”

I could see the boy who had just read his Mad Lib start to giggle, and I shot him a look.  He snuffed it out pretty quickly.  “Because, well…” I started.

"Not even, like almonds?” she persisted.

Almonds is okay,” I responded quickly, feeling saved by the clarification. That’s when one of my boys couldn’t hold it in any longer and let out a snort.  I didn’t turn his way to admonish him because—oh my gosh, who could blame him?

My sweet little innocent Theresa just looked more confused by my answer.  She shook her head.  “O-kay, then what about cashews?”

Cashews is fine,” I replied, nodding my head.

Hazelnuts?” she asked.

At this, I paused. 

But then I shrugged, because seriously, what could I say against hazelnuts that wouldn’t dig me into an even deeper hole?  “Okay.  Okay.  I guess hazelnuts will work.”

The boys who had only moments ago been trying to avoid my glare looked up at me, eyes alight with excitement.  “Really?  Hazelnuts is fine?  We can use hazelnuts?”

Oh, for fck’s sake, I wanted to say.  But I didn’t, as I dearly loved my job and didn’t want to lose it.

“Fine.  Use hazelnuts.  But only once—and Hazel can’t be possessive.  And you’re definitely banned from using balls again,” I said, widening my eyes in a challenging glare toward them.

That’s when Theresa let out her own little snort.  “Well, duh,” she said, dissolving into fits of giggles.

Holy shit.  (Which also, incidentally, wouldn’t have been appropriate. )

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break 2014...

...also known as Spring Break, a Half Marathon, and the Quintessential Sitcom Neighbor

This is what Spring Breaks past looked like.

Although I must admit that I sometimes miss the sluttiness of those old Spring Breaks and that raunchy feeling that only comes with being the other half of a pair of drunken strangers passing (their underwear back to each other) in the night, I do have to say that, for the most part, I prefer the Spring Breaks of today as a wife and a mother.

This year, my Spring Break is going to start off with my second half marathon, and it will include—among other things—a trip to Legoland, a children’s museum, and an overnight stay in a hotel with rooms that used to be train cars.

In the months prior to signing up for my first half marathon, my neighbor Don had taken up running.  It was the first exercise he’d done in about 8 years, and he was determined to be good at it. And he was.  He completed his first half marathon and then bragged to me about it for no fewer than 5 months.

“Shay,” he would say, sauntering into my backyard after a 5-mile run, “you’ve GOT to sign up for a half.  Quit being such a pussy.”

I would roll my eyes.  “Don, I’ve been doing this working out thing for about 15 years.  Running is part of my routine and I enjoy it, but I’ll never go more than 3 miles, because then it stops being fun for me.”

Don would chuckle.  “Oh, Shay,” he’d call over his shoulder as he entered his house through the back door, which faced my back yard.  “One day you’ll be as into working out as I am.”

Seriously, you guys.  There has been only one time in the past 15 years that I’ve missed 7 consecutive days of working out—and incidentally, it was during one of my collegiate Spring Breaks, where I was too drunk to even walk, let alone take a jog or do some squats.  And this clown, who’d only started a few months earlier, was going to tell me how to get shit done?

I’m not a competitive person.  At all. I like to pride myself on the fact that I worry about myself and what I’m doing in life without trying to measure up or compare to anyone else.  I believe it’s one of the reasons I normally accomplish what I set out to; I don’t have all of that extra jealousy or competition stuff cluttering up my brain and taking focus away from my goal.

But goddammit, you guys. 

GODDAMMIT.  I ended up signing up for a half marathon last year, and I wasn’t sure if I was doing it because I wanted to do it or just because I wanted to piss Don off.

I was mad at myself for not knowing.  Because I shit on the day that I become as competitive and annoying as Don is with stuff like this.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say screw hiring out a trashy ex-husband to bust a knee Tonya Harding-style;  I’d slam a goddamned bat into my own knee to prevent me from becoming like Don, all condescending smiles and “Run a half marathon—if I can do it, you can…blah blah blah.” 


But I did it, you guys.  For whatever reason, I signed up for my first half marathon last year.

When Don found out, he swiftly changed tactics.  He had spent 5 months goading me into signing up for one, and then he spent the next 12 weeks trying to discourage me.  Because, you see, if I actually completed a half marathon, it wasn’t as special that he had, was it?  I quickly realized that all of the fake encouragement had only been to remind me of how awesome he was because he had done one and I hadn’t.

A few days before my race, he approached me in my backyard, touches of fear shading his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this, Shay?  I mean, I sure hope you’ve been running some hills.  There are LOTS of nasty hills on the course you’re running. I know because I ran it last year.”

His wife even joined in the fun as she stepped onto their back deck.  “Oh, Shay…good luck on mile 6. It’s terrible.  I had trouble even walking up it to get a picture of Don as he was running.”

I rolled my eyes.  What they didn’t realize was that I had been training hard by running while pushing my very large 1 ½ year old—who had been born at 9 pounds and never looked back—in a jogging stroller while my 4-year-old was at preschool 3 mornings a week.  It was the only time I had to get it done. 

And the hills I’d been running…holy shit, the hills I’d been running.  Not by choice, but because I couldn’t find a damned flat area in which to run in this godforsaken town.  One day, after a particularly tough, hilly run, my good friend from Canada had mentioned how she had loved growing up in the “plains of Manitoba” and I swear to you, I packed my baby up into his carseat, drove my ass home, and googled “real estate in the plains of Manitoba.”

But then I realized that if I moved my whole family to another country just to get away from hills for half marathon training, Don would win. And nobody wanted that.

I tried to explain all of this to Don and his wife that day, but I could tell they weren’t listening. They were too busy yammering on about t-ball games and Christmas lights and hills and shit.

As Don continued his Hill Monologue, trying to scare me, I swear to you—I am not even kidding when I say this; understand that I’m not even kidding—his eyes misted up as the horrors of Mile 6 were replayed behind them.  He managed to choke out “What that sonofabitch hill did to my hamstring—" before I’d had enough and interrupted him.

“Holy shit, Don, it wasn’t fcking Pearl Harbor,” I snapped.  “You were jogging up a hill.”

Don stopped and stared at me for a moment, blinking away tears.  Finally, he wagged his finger at me as he turned to go.  “You wait. Just you wait and see,” he whispered.

He then turned and scurried to his back deck, where his wife had an ice pack all ready for the pain that the memories had brought back to the surface.

The day I finished my half marathon, I texted my husband to tell him, excitedly, that I had done it and that I was on my way home, finisher’s medal proudly displayed around my neck.  He called me as soon as he received my text.

“I’m so proud of you, babe!” he had time to get out before I heard a yipping voice in the background.  A second or two later, I heard a smile in his voice as he said, “Oh—um, Don wants to know your time.”

The hubs and I actually adore Don.  He’s such a great guy if you can get past his annoying little quirks—which we can, because we understand that we have our own little annoying quirks.  And besides, it’s so much fun messing with him when he gets like this.

"Oh, I don’t even know.  All I know is I ran the whole thing, and that was my goal.  I think my time was like 2:12?”

When my husband relayed the information to Don, who had apparently been hoping it was more like 4:12, I could hear my neighbor's disappointed gasp all the way on my end of the phone.  Because dammit—that wasn’t a bad time for someone’s first half marathon.  And so now I had to rub it in even more.

“Tell Don it was actually pretty easy,” I said, a smile now in my voice, too.  “I kept looking for those hills he’d been talking about, but they just never came…”  I let my voice trail off as if I were confused.  I knew that Don couldn’t hear it but that my husband would appreciate it.  And he did.  I heard him chuckle as he relayed my confusion to Don.  Then I heard Don say something in reply.

“What did he say?” I asked my husband.

“He said they must’ve changed the route,” my husband replied deadpan. 

[That, by the way, has become one of my and my husband’s favorite lines ever.  “What do you mean, you couldn’t get the car seat to fit the right way and you need me to go out there and do it?  I just did it yesterday at my sister’s house, and it latched in completely easily,” my husband will say.  “They must have changed the route,” I’ll reply.  It works for so many situations, and it never fails to cause my husband and me to fall into heaps of hysterical laughter on the floor after one of us uses it.]

When I got home a couple of hours later, Don was standing in my driveway with my husband, a map in his hand.  I got out of the car and had just enough time to receive congratulatory hugs from my husband and my boys before Don thrust the map under my nose.

“I told your husband, it had to be a different route than the one I ran last year, because you would’ve noticed those terrible hills,” he persisted, pointing to one particular spot on the map labeled “MILE 6” in blood-red letters.  “Does this look familiar to you?”

I shoved the map aside with a smile.  “Don, you know I can’t read maps. I don’t know if they changed the damned route or not.  All I know is that there weren’t any hills on this course.”

There actually was a hill—a Mile 6 hill—that the race coordinators even had a name for and a mini-challenge with a special medal for the fastest runner on that part of the race.  And it had been challenging—although nowhere near as tough as Don had described.  But I wasn’t going to tell him that.  I was going to let him sweat it.

And sweat it he did.  Because a few days later, Don tapped on my back door.  When I opened it up, he looked at me, a new challenge set in his eyes.  “Well, I looked it up, and you actually did run the exact same course as I did last year, hills and all.” 

That Don is so earnest, taking everyone at his/her word with an innocence that is really sweet and almost adorable for a 40-year-old guy—that I almost took pity on him and told him the truth about Mile 6.  Almost.

Instead, I let him continue.

“So good job on the course.  I looked up your bib number and you were right about your time, except you were actually off by 2 minutes.  You completed it in 2:10—faster than you thought.”  He looked down and swallowed, and I thought—here it comes.  Here is where he tells me that he’s sorry for doubting me all of these weeks and that I am just as cool as he is because I ran a half marathon, too…

Don looked up at me and grinned.  “After you’ve run 3 of them, come talk to me.  Because you’re not a real runner unless you’ve run 3 half marathons like I have.”

As he turned to walk out my door and started down the steps of my back deck, I decided I couldn’t drop it.  “Oh, no, didn’t the hubs tell you?  I’m researching marathon training.  I’m thinking of doing a full in the fall.”

Holy shit, no I’m not.  I have no interest in EVER doing a full marathon, and I don’t want to insult those runners out there who do them by acting as if I can just throw it out there nonchalantly—because I know what dedication running takes and how challenging running a full marathon would be. 

But I had to say it.  Because the look on Don’s face as he almost tripped down my stairs was awesome, and I’ll never forget it. 

And while I didn’t sign up for a full marathon in the fall, what I did do, dammit, was sign up for 2 more half marathons, one this week and one in May.  And dammit if I can’t fcking tell if I’m doing it for Don or for myself.

It doesn’t matter.  I’ve signed up, and I’m doing them.  SIGH.

Damn Don and his competitive nature rubbing off on me.  Where the hell is that baseball bat again?

A side note:  I'm taking next week off from posting for Spring Break.  I'd like to claim that it's because I'll be too hungover to tap out a post on my trusty little keyboard, but we all know that's a lie. (Growing up is hard, isn't it?  SIGH...)  The truth is, I'll be busy with my boys at an aquarium or a zoo or some other kid-friendly place, and I'm too much of a technodumbass to have figured out how to schedule one of my backup posts to appear on its own next Friday.  I should probably figure that out...

In the meantime, have a great Spring Break, and I hope you'll join me back here on the 4th!

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Dad's Birthday

It was my dad’s birthday last week.  He called to remind me.

“Oh my GOSHHHHHHHH!” he squealed as soon as I picked up my phone.  “Thanks so much for the birthday card I got in the mail today!”

I rolled my eyes.  “You didn’t get a birthday card from me in the mail today,” I said.

“Wait, I didn’t?” he persisted, in case his point hadn’t been made clearly enough.

“No,” I said, “because your birthday isn’t until tomorrow, and I’m a better planner than that.”

I hurried over to the junk drawer to grab a pen and scribble DAD’S B-DAY onto the next day’s date on my wall calendar, because obviously, I had forgotten.  And obviously, I would forget the next day, too.

A thought occurred to me.  “Hey, just in case my card doesn’t get there tomorrow—because it won’t since I haven’t bought or sent it yet—and just in case I forget to call tomorrow, let me just go ahead and sing you your Happy Birthday song right now while I’ve got you on the phone.”

“No, really,” my dad protested, “that’s not necess—"

“Shut up.  I’ve only got 5 minutes before I leave for work, and I still have to get the kids ready for preschool.”

You see, peeps, my dad didn’t want to hear my song.  The thing is, I used to have the voice of an angel—one of those beautiful, sweet, church choir type voices.  In fact, I actually used to sing at church when I was in grade school and even a couple of times in high school.  I would love seeing peoples’ faces register shock as a song started and I opened my mouth to let out the first few light, feathery notes:  People just didn’t expect that kind of sweetness to come out of this jarring face.

Unfortunately, one night when I was 21 years old I went to bed, and when I woke up the next morning, my voice had simply…well, dropped.  I figured it was just a natural result of the beer, hookers, and cigarettes from the night before, and I waited patiently for it to come back.  But it never did.

How does a 21-year-old woman’s voice just change in the middle of the night?  I don’t know. Perhaps God felt that it was time my honking seal voice caught up with my honking seal face.  In any case, my extreme voice change is just one of the many reasons my husband and I have become convinced that I used to be a man.

Anyway, back on the phone  with my dad, I launched into a 2 ½ minute version of Happy Birthday which would pretty much cover me for when I forgot his birthday the next day.

When I was finished singing and we had hung up, it occurred to me that since I didn’t have a real birthday present, I could dedicate a blog post to him for his birthday.  I mean, isn’t it every father’s dream that his daughter become a totally unpaid, unpublished blog authorette who has to hide her identity because she frequently talks about what a dirty whore she used to be?

Aw…*blushing*…you’re welc, Dad.

So this week, I’d like to use my blog post to wish my dad a happy birthday.  You bastards are lucky I haven’t figured out how to add pre-recorded music to this blog shit or else you’d have to listen to the same song my dad heard the other day, too. 

Count your blessings, folks.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dad!  And oh—your real present—the one I hurriedly went out and bought you the day we talked on the phone—is a coffee mug.  Hopefully you still drink coffee;  I never know with all of the newfangled old people diets you’re always trying to adopt in order to help you hold onto the knees and hips you were born with so that you can brag to all of your old people friends who’ve had to have theirs replaced.

The mug is green for St. Patrick’s Day.  Which reminds me, everyone:  Happy St. Pat’s Day!

There’s an old Irish blessing—you’ve probably heard it before—that goes a little something like this:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind always be at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
May the rains fall softly upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of His hand

And I think it’s a beautiful blessing and I wish all of you that, too--especially those of you with fields. But allow me to revert to my 12-year-old boy personality and offer you this blessing, which I penned myself:

May you drink enough green beer that you see it in your poop the next day

Have a good one, my friends!