Monday, September 23, 2013

Babes in the Woods

I went temporarily insane yesterday.
These do not work.!

Nope, not because of the fact that a tube of toothpaste is no longer a simple means to a fresh feeling mouth what with all the flip tops and the clogging and....ah, forget it.

I went insane because the cost of true love is very high. Allow me to explain...

I don't know where I went wrong raising my son, Charlie. He has become a nature enthusiast. He loves to go camping---all alone. 

Good morning, Charlie.
Despite years of trying to explain that camp sites, the woods, hillsides and picturesque spots with waterfalls all look pretty in the sunshine, but at night become sinister havens for meth cooks who will kill him after he's stumbled upon their labs, bears who wish to maim then eat him, psychos who want to torture and dismember him for fun, insects who want to paralyze him with their venom, sasquatches who want to drag him around by the ankles and then marry him and lightening that wants to strike him and erase his memory.
Good afternoon.

Growing up in Brooklyn, if a leaf so much as tickled my cheek, I would roll into a ball and spin away. 

Grass harbored bugs and spit, dog poop and broken glass. Pavement was all I trusted. You want nature, watch "Born Free." I tried to make my kids understand this.

But off Charlie went the other day...but not before warning me that he was going to shut his phone off and that I'd hear from him in two days. WHAT?

Oh, no. Please, no.
"Mommy, I got here safely
but I'm lonely already."

Even Henry David Thoreau texted his mommy when he reached Walden Pond. Who did Charlie think he was? 

He was steadfast. My wails did not move him. He wanted to escape the madding crowd, feel the breeze, sleep under the stars, investigate for himself whether female sasquatches are -- as reported by National Geographic (or, was that the National Enquirer?) --  really anatomically similar to human girls. 

He wanted freedom.

Tom reassured me that he would be "just fine." Seth helpfully added, "He's a full grown man, for God's sake!"

Full grown man??? Are they out of their minds?  He just popped out of the womb........24 years ago.
If they're not real, who is this?

I was okay for half the day. But on the way to Trader Joes (I know, it was a Saturday...what was I thinking?), fear got the better of me. I really got scared. No joke. I had texted him earlier despite knowing he'd pulled the cone of silence over himself  but now I texted again....explaining that my maternal fear superceded his need for solitude. I was a mess.
No calories if taken for
medicinal purposes.

A few hours and a bag of trader Joe's peanut butter covered pretzel nuggets later, Charlie replied with three words: I am alive.

I was immensely relieved but also fully understood that the psycho who had slashed through his tent to eat his eyeballs could have written this response to delay the search parties.

Despite this, I felt much calmer and relaxed even more when Mr. I Want to Be Alone sent an email with a picture of himself, in one piece and smiling. He will not understand, until he is a parent, how much that meant to me.

To me, "roughing it" is a hotel room that doesn't provide little bottles of shampoo and lotion. While Charlie did remind me that s'mores can be part of any camping experience, I maintain that s'mores can be enjoyed in a hotel room...until the smoke detector goes off and security kicks down the door, that is...but that works for me and it should for him, as well.
My home town in
the 1970's.

It's all relative. I rode the subway alone at night in New York City in the 70's....and there were no cell phones. My mother didn't know if I was alive until my key turned in the door. I cannot imagine how scared she must have been.

As I said before, the cost of love is high. You give them your whole heart and they go camping...or they ride the subway...or do a million other scary things. 

You can smash their kneecaps with a sledgehammer (not my idea---remember Kathy Bates in the movie "Misery?") to keep them in one place or just pray and fret.
Does anyone have a sledgehammer I can borrow?*

The only kind of camping I endorse.

 *Actually, I have my own sledgehammer.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Emotional Armageddon

Well, it had to happen sometime. 

Today is both a full moon -- which you know drives me completely insane -- plus my mother's birthday and, since she is no longer around to celebrate with me, every year I voluntarily travel to an unsteady and nostalgia-soaked place in my brain where all I want to do is sit under the kitchen table and play the ukelele....or, at the very least, spell it right.

Blam-o! Emotional Armageddon.

It makes perfect sense that the simultaneous occurrence of these two events might be tricky. So, since I am nothing if not thoughtful, I prepared my family yesterday--emailing the boys who, as usual, did not take me the least bit seriously and by talking to Seth when he returned from work using lots of hyperbole and wiggling my eyebrows for emphasis.

His response was to pat my hand and go out to play Wednesday night bocce. I can't really expect much more. That man has been through hell and back with me as I ride my emotional seesaw (try finding that at the playground, kids). Nothing much scares him anymore.
Why am I so moody?

But this has potential for trouble: my mother's birthday is the official date when I look back on our lives together and feel horribly guilty for every single time I was not the perfect daughter, which was mostly always...and wish I could make up for it.

Add a full moon (which, since we are comprised mostly of  water, makes my emotions roil like the ocean in a hurricane) to this annual carnival of neurosis and there might be a screen play for a new Woody Allen movie in the making. 
I would like Penelope Cruz
to play me in the movie.

So, how shall I spend my day?

As I requested, Seth hid my car keys so I cannot go out and buy lots of donuts and cheese (serves me right---I should have taken care of that yesterday). 

I was also thinking about singing along to some Amy Winehouse but since she died, her music makes me too sad (even for today).

So, instead, maybe I'll just do my make-up just like hers in tribute but I own no liquid eyeliner. I could use a sharpie but it will take a week to wash off and we have plans for this Saturday evening.  So, scratch that.

If I could drive, I might take my donuts to Best Buy and sit and watch their wall of TVs because if one TV is good then 30 should be better. But not if it's the new Price is Right because Wayne Brady scares me. Not to mention, I always feel sorry for the TVs with the washed out pictures because who's going to buy them when it's as plain as day that there are others with sharper resolution? 
Available over the counter.

Who needs all that angst...forget it.
Maybe I'll check what's on Turner Classic Movies!

If I'm lucky, it'll be Pride of the Yankees which always makes me sob even though I know the ending but the way that microphone reverberates
in the stadium just kills me.

But if Lou Gehrig could be so brave then why am I such a huge baby? Okay, no movie watching.

Nor does it help that I awoke this morning with a weird new wrinkle on my face but it turned out to be just from the pillow so I can relax...although who really can relax when your collagen is draining out like sap from a maple tree in springtime? But there's nothing to be done in that department, is there?
"Snap out of it!"

So maybe I should just try to keep it together and put Emotional Armageddon on hold. It's a gorgeous day so it might make sense to ignore the full moon and count a few blessings while I'm at it, too. Could it be that I have achieved a new level of emotional health?


Happy birthday, Ma...XO.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Terror in the Candy Dish

I read an article this morning about candy.

Specifically, the article was about a study that says wrapped candy is a deterrent to people wishing to limit their consumption of sweets or maintain a weight loss regime.

Their findings claim that the task of unwrapping a piece of candy is an effective obstacle, noting that having to use tongs to access candy will also stop someone in their quest for sweets, as well.
I bet Chuck Yeager wouldn't
be deterred by a wrapper.

Clearly this study was conducted using amateurs.

I know someone -- a seasoned professional, mind you -- who broke the sound barrier unwrapping and consuming 16 mini, foil-wrapped Cadbury eggs last Easter at a pace that would have made Chuck Yeager proud. 
Eaten last on Halloween.

Plus, what was the candy used in the study?

Was it a tiny box of Dots, a miniscule packet of stale Milk Duds or a sleeve of powdery Necco wafers?

Or was it something fabulous?  I would chew through a lead encased vault to get at one of Godiva's -- new for fall! -- Cheesecake Truffles and I'm not ashamed (although I damn well should be) to say it.
Texture-wise, not bad but still
kind of weird.

As for the tongs, I laugh at tongs.

What you do if tongs stand between you and a piece of candy is pick up the tongs, stroll over to the window, open it and toss them to the street below. End of story. 

If you are participating in a controlled study as described in the article and there is a research assistant with a clip board who attempts to stop you, simply menace him with the tongs. He's not getting paid enough to be motivated to do much of anything....and he might want some candy, too.
The new Cheesecake Truffle is front and center.
I will, however, tell you what a true deterrent is...

It's the man in the cute little restaurant who, while awaiting his to-go order, slid a clammy paw down the back of his trousers, grubbled around for a few seconds and, having completed his task, used the same hand to scoop up a handful of the candy corn they keep in a pumpkin shaped bowl by the register at Halloween.

As soon as he left, I hurried over to tell the owner what I'd seen and she immediately dumped the contents of the bowl into the garbage. A few days later, however, the bowl was back--refilled with candy corn ready for the next does of fecal flavoring...and God only knows what else. There are so many possibilities: someone with a drippy cold might come by, or a sneezer, a drooler, a cougher, a non-handwasher, a sneezing drooler, a non-washing dribbler, a coughing ass-grubbler....the combinations are endless.

I blathered to the owner about my darkest fears of how the new bowl might have already been violated but, while she smiled at me the way one might while watching baby pandas tumble about at the zoo, she did nothing about the candy.

Now this is a deterrent...not some flimsy wrapper or a set of tongs, for goodness sake. I can't even look candy corn in the eye anymore.

I also soon found reason not to return to this restaurant because if they didn't have an issue with turd traces in the candy, what might be going on in the kitchen?

The moral of the story: ignore all  research studies, choose wrapped candy over its unwrapped counterparts and, if you come across tongs, you might actually want to hold on to them since we all could always use another set in the kitchen. They really are so handy, aren't they?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Open Letter to My Sons or Do As Mama Tells You 'Cause She's Getting Smarter Every Day

Oh, yes...this brain is on fire.
Dear Tom and Charlie,

While I was scooping out the litter box this morning, as is my habit, I was keeping an eye on the morning news. 

I watch CBS because it just so happens I have a bit of a "thing" for Charlie Rose and those droopy eyelids plus I cannot stand the uproarious guffawing and forced jocularity of the other news shows (especially Good Morning America where live reports of a Kardashian hang nail come before, and often instead of, serious world events).
The news is just so awful.....wah!

George Stephanopoulos, we all know you want to unseat the perpetually angst-ridden and unstable Diane Sawyer as world news anchor but is this the way to do it? I fear it is.

In any case, over the scrape, scrape of the turd shovel, I heard something about the fact that conventional wisdom about the brain -- which is that you reach your peak of mental acuity around age 25 and then slide into an inevitable decline which involves wearing polyester sweatshirts with pictures of kittens wearing pretty bows and needing a booster seat when driving -- has been significantly altered by additional research.

Despite the suspicion that I've never been smarter (yes, I said you say it with me, fifty-somethings all over America), I began looking for a kitty sweatshirt at Wal-Mart, fearing that at any moment I would forget how to turn on the oven or use a tea bag but wanted to be dressed appropriately.

I've warned you both that the moment would come when you saw me falter for the first time and that it would be tough to handle---although that never happened to Grandma and I had been banking on a genetic life preserver when it came to the thinking department.

As it is, I got Grandma's short fingers, unmanageable hair and proclivity to laugh at everything but, being a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal (honestly, I am more of  a there-was-never-anything-in-the-glass-in-the-first-place-and-it's-now-in-jagged-shards-on-the-floor but that's another blog post or fifteen years of therapy, entirely) I assumed I'd soon be stringing big wooden beads on a shoelace before too long.

Well, hah! It seems that scientists (most likely ones over 50) have discovered that the brain regenerates itself quite nicely into the 90's and older people can be expected to reach their most creative and cognitive well into their advanced years. Using the famous author Herman Wouk (The Caine Mutiny, Winds of War) as an example, they cited that he wrote a new (and totally coherent) novel last year at the age of 98.
Go, Herman!!!

Charlie Rose was as excited about all this as I was and, making a valiant attempt to open his eyes all the way, asked whether these findings just might indicate experience accrued over a lifetime as opposed to the actual growth of more gray matter.

He was told that it was, indeed, growth and that this regeneration combined with experience, now makes anyone over the age of fifty super human and completely infallible.
Charlie Rose, super excited.

Okay, maybe that isn't exactly what they told him but that is how I prefer to interpret it.

You, my sons, are the fortunate beneficiaries of this good news since I fully intend to put my new lease on cognitive thinking to good use by helping you both decide on your life's trajectory...this will include wardrobe advice, career counseling, romantic guidance (Charlie, keep up the good work in that department) and, of course, penmanship classes.

In fact, I suggest that you do not make a move without consulting me first since it is now officially confirmed that I am smarter than everyone and never, ever wrong the beneficiary of not only experience but brain growth, as well and, therefore, a freaking national treasure reliable source of advice.
Itching yet, Miley?

Miley Cyrus, I am available. Please call me so I can advise you to stop twerking and start preparing for your career of working at a drive-thru. Start by rolling up your tongue and storing it safely inside your mouth and putting on some sensible cotton underwear instead of latex which we all know does not breathe and can only lead to the unfortunate need for prescription ointments.

So, Tom and Charlie, I can only imagine how relieved you must be at this news of my prolonged comprehension and insight.

I eagerly anticipate the many questions you are, no doubt, jotting down at this very moment as you joyfully prepare to pick my brain for the counsel you seek. You're welcome, my sons...and please cancel that order for the kitty cat sweatshirt I requested for Christmas. I no longer need it.

Love, Mom

Advice isn't always good.....