Friday, October 24, 2014

5 Reasons I Hate Halloween

Several years ago, when the hubs and I were struggling to have kids, one of my biggest dreams was to someday be able to take my own kids to the pumpkin patch just before Halloween. I yearned for it so badly that I found it hard to look at other peoples’pictures of their own kids, smiling from the middle of a huge mound of pumpkins.
I like to keep that memory at the forefront of my mind around this time of each year, when it suddenly strikes me once again how much I actually hate Halloween. The memory provides a little perspective when I’m suffering through what has become one of my least favorite holidays.

Oh, I’ve got the kids now, and they’re freaking awesome. And I still tear up a little bit every year when we visit the pumpkin patch and I get my own pictures of my sweet kids jumping around in fields of pumpkins. It always occurs to me how long I waited for those moments and how blessed I am to have them.

But the rest of Halloween? It can suck my phantom balls.

I’m not a complainer, folks. I am known in my group of friends as the one who can find the silver lining in any situation. In college, my friends would come to me for validation after they’d done something they felt bad about, and I’d dispense shit like this: “Oh, you had a one-night stand? With a nerd? Well, at least that lessens the possibility of catching an STD since you were probably the first person he’d ever had sex with…and see, you did your good deed for the day for that little guy. So really, you should feel good about yourself. Go in peace to love and serve the world, my friend.”

None of my friends were Catholic or even religious, so I could pull lines from Mass out like that and it never failed that they’d look at me in awe. I probably shouldn’t have exploited that by making up random sins that they’d supposedly committed and then absolving them only after they shared their beer with me, right?

Anyway, this week, as I found myself complaining about Halloween to friends, family members, co-workers, my priest, the cashier at Wal-Mart, and that guy in the gray hoodie that was getting into the car next to me at Panera Bread, I realized that I was…well, I was being a complainer.

This was confirmed when I was bitching, once again, to one of my sweet co-workers, and I stopped and said, “I don’t mean to be all bah-humbuggy about Halloween—"

“—But you are,”she interrupted.

“Right,” I agreed.

So I decided I might as well grab a little silver lining out of it all with a blog post…that will not make me any money, but will quite certainly make me look like a huge asshole.


Silver lining, bitches.

And so, I’d like to present to you on this otherwise lovely Friday morning (drum roll, please):
5 Reasons I Hate Halloween
1. Adult costumes
No, I will not dress up with you. You looked shocked.

Why won’t I? Because I’m fcking 37 years old and past my Raggedy Ann prime. And so are you.

Oh, you’re throwing a party and nobody gets in unless they’re in costume? Have fun, dickwad. I’ll be at the bar down the road with the rest of the adults.

Listen, peeps, it’s not like I haven’t tried. As if I needed any help being unattractive in college, the one time in my adult life that I decided to dress up, I went as Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. It was a misguided Halloween costume effort by a dorky horseface who’d been raised by her dad.

And it might have been funny, I guess, but the problem was, nobody had told me that in a college town, the most hailed and appreciated costumes were the sluttiest ones. Hell, some people didn’t even wear costumes…they just glued sparkly pasties to their boobs and called themselves hookers. (I never figured out if they were legitimate hookers or not…or how well they were paid. Not that it would have made any difference in my career choice, of course…)

Needless to say, after about 5 (okay, dammit, 10) people looked right at me and laughed into my blue eyeshadowed-face, cutting me off with an eyeroll and an “Oh, we know” as I tried to explain who I was, I finally got sick of it.

I found a dark corner of the bar, a dedicated waitress who pitied me and served me pitcher after pitcher of beer on the house, and a bucket so I wouldn’t even have to get up to piss.

Never again.

2. Decorations

Holy shit, I didn’t hang up my flannel shirts and start wearing makeup until I graduated college. People thought I was a lesbian until I was 23 years old. And now I’m supposed to have somehow found the grace and knowledge to decorate my house for Halloween?

I don’t think so.

Luckily we found some of those handpainted wooden pumpkins and ghosts on stakes for $5 a pop at the local Farmers’ Market. The hubs and I pound those fckers into the ground, throw an arm over each other’s shoulders as we stand back and look at the yard with its two decorations, then nod our heads in satisfaction before going into the house and grabbing a pumpkin beer.

Fortunately our neighbors go all out, so we’ve decided that if our kids ever start complaining about our lack of decorations, we’ll just tell them to look to the left a little bit.

We may not be parents of the year, but we sure are squeaking by, my peeps.
3. The aforementioned pumpkin patch that truly does make me realize once again how blessed I am, but still…

Oh, dear God, the amount of pumpkin patch visits that are required when you have kids. Pumpkin patch with our own little family, pumpkin patch with the grandparents, pumpkin patch with the best friends, pumpkin patch with the preschool, pumpkin patch with the Kindergarten class…

Holy shit, just give me the obligatory pumpkin patch picture for the year, and I’ll be fine. And you know what? We don’t even have to pay the admission and enter the pumpkin patch for that. We can just do a drive-by.

Here, kids, get out for a second, but stand on the other side of the car so that we can see the pumpkins in the background…

The last time we went to the pumpkin patch, we had the added bonus of realizing (about 3 hours later) that my youngest son must be allergic to the airborne stuff that was flying around in the huge corn kernel pit he was jumping in.

But when I said that to my mother-in-law, she responded by glaring at me and saying, “It doesn’t look like a corn allergy. I’m sure it’s something you’re doing wrong.”

Yes, mother-in-law. It normally is, isn’t it?

Oh, and let’s not forget what happens as soon as you purchase a larger SUV: Your son's preschool finds out about it.

“Oh, Shay, we need drivers to the pumpkin patch again this year. You don’t mind, do you? You’ll only be responsible for 8 children—not including your own.”

Oh, and I get to install all of the carseats into my car all by myself? And 2-3 of the kids aren’t fully potty trained?

Well, fck me.
4. Kids’costumes

I spent no less than $40 on my older son’s costumes this year. Yes, that is plural. I said “costumes.”

That’s because the child had been asking to be a zombie for no fewer than 6 months, but then one day at Wal-Mart, he jumped the gun and begged me for the Captain America costume. He swore up and down that that’s who he wanted to be—even after I reminded him that he’d been wanting to be a zombie for months.

So we bought em-effing Captain American and his godforsaken shield. And then 2 weeks later, at Wal-Mart? A zombie costume magically appeared where no zombie costume had been before.

Hey, folks. We’ve all had moments of buyer’s remorse, so who was I to fault my little guy for it when I’d done it plenty of times myself? Especially when I, as his mother, should have known better in the first place. So I bought him the zombie costume.

A week later? He wanted to be Captain America again. The zombie might scare the old people who are out walking while we’re trick-or-treating.

Holy shit.

And don’t even get me started on my younger son. I knew he would throw a fit if I tried to put him into a costume—he’s just that type of kid—so I googled “easy costumes for kids” and found something that he’d hardly notice he was wearing: an apron. I would pair it with his little plastic pizza set from his little plastic kitchen and call him a pizza parlor owner. I wasn’t even going to make him wear a mustache.

And even though my child ADORES his little plastic pizza set and his little plastic kitchen…even though I literally have to TEAR HIM AWAY from it all, kicking and screaming when we have to be somewhere on time…when it became a “Halloween costume,” he He ripped off the apron, threw down the pieces of pizza, and shouted, “NO pizza! NO pizza!”

Then he started in on the art of compromise, something that makes me proud that he’s learned at the ripe age of two, but also the teensiest bit annoyed because he employs it on a minutely basis with me. This time, he said, “Pizza shirt. Pizza shirt” as he pointed toward his room.

He has a t-shirt with a pizza on it, picked up at the local pizza parlor one day while we were eating lunch there. He wanted to wear that as his pizza man costume.

And you know what? I can’t say I blame him. You wanna slap on a goddamned pizza t-shirt and call it a day, buddy? Good idea. Let me go find my Wonder Woman t-shirt.
5. Carving pumpkins

It’s not the actual carving of the pumpkins that’s bad. We kind of love that part, really. The hubs has sort of made it his thing with the kids, and we’ll all sit on the back deck and help carve, then we’ll stick our fingers in the goop and take silly pictures.

The problem arises when, inevitably, my 5-year-old asks if I will bake the pumpkin seeds. And, inevitably, I will respond with an excited, “Of course!” because the ones at the store are so fcking delicious and seriously, how hard could they be to duplicate?

And then, every year, my boys and husband will watch in breathless fascination as I pull the pan of baked seeds from the oven. We’ll all pop them into our mouths at the same time. And so we’ll all realize at the same moment that, once again, they’re chewy and soggy and gross. And I’ll look around at my family as I plaster a satisfied look on my face and try to choke the damned seeds back, and they’ll all be shooting me dirty looks.

I swear I can look into my 2-year-old’s eyes and see what he’s thinking: First the corn, and now this. You skank.

This content was originally posted on Trashy Blog on October 31, 2013, and trust me, the sentiments remain the same.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Little Ebola Humor

I returned home from work one evening last week, pulling into my driveway. 

As is customary in our neighborhood, there were about 4 kids ranging in age hanging out on the sidewalk.  They all started moving in my house’s direction as I unloaded my kids, backpacks, lunch boxes, my coffee mug, purse, etc., from the car.  As I normally do, I threw my keys on top of my car for a moment so that I could get a better grasp on everything I was juggling in my arms.

One of the neighborhood boys, a middle schooler, sauntered over to chat and, while doing so, grabbed the keys from the top of the car.  He’s a good kid; he wanted to open my front door for me since my hands were full.

Suddenly, he stopped.  “Have you been to Africa?” he asked me, eyeing my keychain shaped like the continent.

I thought it was a weird question.  Our neighborhood is very tight-knit, and I’ve known this boy since he was barely out of Kindergarten, when we moved in just after bringing our then-6-month-old son home from Africa.

Still, I couldn’t help it. I puffed up with pride, thinking, I’m so worldly.  “I have,” I answered, beaming.

“Oh, that’s really neat,” the neighborhood boy answered smoothly, nonchalantly turning the keychain over in his hands.  “Really cool, Shay.  I’ll bet it was a great trip…EBOLA CARRIER.”

I gasped. 

Then we all started laughing.  Clever little shit.

My dad got in on the Ebola fun on Facebook last week with this status update:

I do not have Ebola but I did have Abowla cereal…does that count?

When my 4 siblings and I were kids, we hated Dad’s puns.  He used them all the time, inevitably cracking himself up so hard that he would almost choke while the rest of us rolled our eyes and sighed.  And then before we knew it, we grew older and found ourselves laughing at them, too.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed at a Panera Bread coffee table with my husband when I came across my dad’s Abowla status update, and I tried—I really tried, you guys—not to laugh.  I clapped my hand over my twitching mouth, but I realized that my shoulders were shaking, too, and tears were rolling down my red face.  Trying to stop the laughter from coming was a lost cause.


“What’s so funny?” my husband asked, looking up from his newspaper.

“See—but that’s the thing,” I started, gasping with laughter.  “I don’t think it is.  I mean, I’m pretty sure that it’s not even funny—and yet I can’t stop laughing.”

I read it to my husband and he rolled his eyes, but I could tell that he got a kick out of it, too.  He doesn’t like anyone to think that he’s actually happy, God forbid, so he has this habit of coughing and swiping the back of his hand across his mouth to literally wipe the smile off of his face.  Problem is, I figured out years ago that the moments when he’s the most happy are the same as those when he’s desperately trying not to be.

Anyway, his laughter encouraged me, and I joined my sisters and brothers in adding a bunch of the other puns we’d grown up hearing all of our lives to the comments of my dad’s Facebook status update.  Two of our favorites:

Yeah, I’ve met Denise…but what about Denephew?

[The priest says] Let us pray.  [My dad whispers to the person sitting closest to him] Why can’t the tomatoes pray? 

He’s been saying that second one at Mass every single Sunday since my older sister was born 39 years ago—and probably before that, but I wouldn’t know since I wasn’t even a fetus yet.  I believe, then, that if I attended Mass with my dad one Sunday and he didn’t say it, the Mass “wouldn’t count,” as we Catholics love to say.

It’s been often imitated but never duplicated, and I have to remind my husband of this on those Sundays when we go to Mass with Dad and my husband, the joke stealer, hurriedly tries to say it before Dad gets a chance to. 

That saying is sacred, dammit—almost as sacred as the Sacraments—and when Dad is present, he’s the one who gets to say it. When he’s not there, we keep a running tally that we double check just before Mass and take turns.

Anyway, as my sisters and brothers and I were cracking each other up all over Dad’s Facebook page, I got to thinking. 

Yes, it took me 37 years to laugh at my dad’s jokes, but that’s not a bad turnaround for a joke, right…


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trashy Shorts: Clown

I walked into the kitchen yesterday morning to find my 3-year-old son, marker in hand, brow furrowed in concentration as he drew all over his face.

He refused to let me wash it off because he wanted to "be a clown" at preschool.

My 6-year-old, who was hard at work coloring a picture next to his brother at the table, looked up at me, shrugged, and said, "I didn't think you'd mind.  I handed him the red marker to help because clowns' noses are normally red."


Monday, October 20, 2014

Trashy Shorts: Phone Call

Me: I think I'll make my party pinwheels for the family reunion next weekend.
My dad: Ugh. Everybody hates your pinwheels. Make something else.

Is it any wonder that I've become such a smartass?  It's the only way to survive in my family. 

And anyway, I only make them because my older sister--the one person who does like them--begs me to all the time.  Of course, she's been dieting since she was 16 years old, so if she's had more than a Blow Pop that day, she'll only end up eating about 2 pinwheels, leaving me with the remaining 65 that I have to make my own little family eat for the rest of the week.

But at least I don't get yelled at because I "didn't bring anything AGAIN, you big drunk!"  I heard that at family gatherings all through my 20's, and trust me, it got old.

So pinwheels it is, my peeps.

Friday, October 17, 2014

As Seen on TV

A couple of weekends ago, we drove through McDonald’s on our way out of town because Chicken McNuggets are the easiest things for the kids to eat in the car and because they’re FREAKING DELICIOUS. 

The hubs and I always get the 20-piece for 5 bucks and by the time we pass them to the backseat, we know to start pretending that we were ripped off by the McDonald’s people.  Again.

Mom,” my older son will whine, “they only put 8 in the box again!”

“WHAT?!” I will exclaim with indignation, praying that my very intuitive son will not hear how I’m talking around a mouthful of nugget or see my hands fly to my mouth, attempting to shove the McNugget crumbs that flew out in my fake fit of rage back in.  “Again?”

My husband will shake his pretend-annoyed head and glance in the rearview mirror at my son while quickly swallowing back the 3 McNuggets he’s just stuffed into his own mouth.  “I tell you what, son:  Those damned McDonald’s managers need to start hiring some people who know how to count.”

He’s getting suspicious, my son.  It’s only a matter of time before he realizes. 

The problem is, my boys’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs.  They always think that they are so hungry they can eat 20 nuggets, but when it comes down to it, they each eat about 3 or 4.  My husband and I are more than happy to take care of the rest, but we have to be stealthy about it, as our boys get awfully proprietary over their nuggets.

This last time, though, my 6-year-old was too excited over the Monopoly game pieces to concern himself with the missing McNuggets. 
"MOM,” he said.  “You can ONLY get the Monopoly pieces at McDonald's so that means we have to go back to McDonald's A WHOLE BUNCH.  Probably like EVERY SINGLE DAY.”

I worry for my older child. He's a sucker for marketing. Don't even get me started on his love for As-Seen-on-TV products.  That goddamned Gyrobowl is still in the cupboard and you know what?  It does too spill.

It does spill, especially when your younger child tries to prove that it doesn’t spill by using his little bathroom stool to reach the sink and fill it up with water and then contort it this way and that, upside down all over the new laminate floors. 

It spills then. 

Admittedly, when it’s filled with goldfish, Chex Mix, or any non-liquids, it really doesn’t spill—as long as you’re holding onto its Saturn-like ring.  And it actually is pretty fcking cool, especially when my husband’s trying to show off in front of a group of friends by flinging it around, yelling, “The amazing no-spill Gyrobowl!” and then drops it, causing a million Cheez-Its to go sliding across the floor toward the feet of about a dozen smirking adults.

Oh my gosh, you guys, it was hilarious.  What made the whole situation even better was that this happened just after the hubs had made fun of me for buying it for my older son for Christmas—even though I heard my boy specifically ask for it as he sat on Santa’s lap that year. 

Okay, so the Gyrobowl was totally worth it.  And I’ll even go a step further and say that I’d have bought 10 more of them if I could've gotten a promise from God—some sort of Noah’s Ark rainbow signal or something—that I’d see the hubs embarrass himself  with them 10 more times.

Anyway, I decided that to drive home the point about my son being a sucker for marketing and commercials, I’d snap a picture of our Gyrobowl to include in this post.  When I opened my cupboard to do so, I shit you not, this is exactly what I saw:

You think I staged this picture, don’t you?  Nope.

The Gyrobowl was resting contentedly next to our Slushy Magic, another As-Seen-on-TV purchase.

My son received his Slushy Magic for his 6th birthday from my older sister.  When he opened it up and started screaming like a factory worker who’d just won the Powerball, my sister smiled at me.

“I knew he’d like it,” she said.  “At our last family reunion, he wouldn’t stop talking about Slushy Magic.  He walked up to me and said, ‘Aunt Cruella!*  With the Slushy Magic, you simply have to add your favorite drink and shake, shake, shake.  It instantly transforms any drink into a frosty cool slushy.’” 

My older sister shook her head and wiped laughing tears from her eyes.  It instantly transforms any drink into a frosty cool slushy, he told me. Can you imagine?!”

Yes, I could imagine.  I’d heard it all before.  My kids don’t watch any more TV than other normal kids, but my older son has the memory of an elephant—especially when it comes to something he’s really interested in.  (I heard somewhere that elephants have great memories, so I hope that’s the case or else that metaphor made no sense whatsoever—even, perhaps, making the complete opposite point of the one I was trying to make.  Hm.) 

What all of this means for my son is that he can—and does—repeat As-Seen-on-TV commercials verbatim for products that he loves.

My son happened to walk by at that precise moment in my and my sister’s conversation.  He nodded his head very seriously as he held up his new Slushy Magic. “The secret’s in the Slushy Magic cubes and their snowflake science.”

A couple of years ago, when he was 4, we walked by our neighbors’ house.  They were moving and had a lockbox hanging on their door for the realtor’s showings.  My older son had gasped.  “MOM.  The Wilsons have lifelock to protect their identity!”

And then there was the time he was dazzled by the PillowPets commercial.  “MOM,” he said, running into the kitchen, sliding around the corner on his socks.  “Kids of ALL AGES love Pillow Pets.  They’re perfect for those overnight trips to Grandma’s house!”

I remember I was stirring something on the stove and just murmured a non-committal “Oh, really, buddy?  That’s neat.”

My son ran back into the living room, only to return a couple of seconds later.  “MOM.  Their heavy-duty stitching ensures years of enjoyment.”

I nodded my head as he whipped back into the living room, lest he miss one second of that Pillow Pets commercial.  A beat later, I heard this:  “MOM.  Over a million kids already enjoy them!”

Well dammit, he did make a pretty good argument...

Then there was the Dream Lites era.

“MOM.  From the people who brought you Pillow Pets…Dream Lites can be turned on for instant stars!”

“But you already have constellation decals on your ceiling.  Mom’s one step ahead of you, buddy,” I answered, pleased with myself.

My son didn’t skip a beat, imploring me with big, sad brown eyes.  “No parent wants his or her child to be afraid of the dark,” he said, mimicking another line straight from the commerical.

“I didn’t realize you had an issue with the dark,” I responded.  “And besides, you have a night light.”

“Yeah, but Dream Lites can provide a restful night’s sleep.  Can a night light do that?”

Holy shit.

I finally had to lay down some ground rules for my son.  “Listen,” I said to him one afternoon after his particularly convincing argument about how much stuff he could stuff in a Stuffie if only I would buy him one. “This has got to stop.  From now on, unless one of your precious infomercials touts a French maid costume-wearing lady robot with painted fingernails and the ability to perform my ‘wifely duties’ for me, I don’t want to hear about it.”

“Huh?” he asked.

“Exactly,” I replied.  “Now quit watching that garbage.”

I will concede two things:  I can’t imagine a life without McDonald’s.  And the Gyrobowl?  Well, it kind of stole my heart the day it made an ass out of my husband. So those two get to stay.

What I might do, then, is test the Gyrobowl’s non-spillability with a 20-piece nugget box from McDonald’s. 

See?  Everybody wins.

*My older sister’s name is not actually Cruella, but one of the most fun parts of writing anonymously is making up names for all of the beloved assholes in my life.  They change all the time on this blog simply because it’s so much fun coming up with new ones. Don’t feel sorry for them; they know I love them, and besides, their names for me would be much worse…if they knew how to write.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trashy Shorts: Will You Accept This Cake Pop?

My boys go to different schools (one is in preschool and the other Kindergarten), and their schedules seem to flip-flop.  Anytime one is off, the other has to go to school.

I’ve been taking them on individual Mommy/son dates to a little coffee joint up the road when this happens.  I get a coffee, the son whose turn it is gets a lemonade, and we share a few cake pops.  It’s a lot of fun.

When it was my younger son’s turn on Monday, I found myself wondering how in the hell Jon and Kate had managed individual dates with all 8 kids.  It would take, like, a year to fit all of that in.

Because that’s how I think during most of my life’s scenarios:  in terms of how the reality stars would handle them.  A sort of “What would Jesus do?” but more like, “What would a Real Housewife do?”

And that’s a completely sane and healthy approach to life, right?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Trashy Shorts: Does Anyone Know of a Good Bris-ist?

Do the boots in this Paul Mitchell ad remind anyone else of an uncircumcised penis?

 And yes, I have seen one. 
I'm actually a very reliable source on the subject.  Let's all not forget my early- to mid-20's when I was a huge slooter...although I prefer to affectionately call those my "social butterfly" days.
I'm kind of surprised, come to think of it, that I only ever saw one...
How limiting life can sometimes be, wouldn't you say?  Ah, well.