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Go ahead, make a wish.

8 Apr
NOT my aunt.

NOT my aunt.

I was largely offline this last week because I was in Florida with my family for my aunt’s 85th birthday. She’s a rockstar.

We celebrated her big day over a large lunch on Easter. Sitting at the table together, we saw an ambulance pass through the parking lot of her complex, followed by two police cars. “What’s going on?” someone asked.

“Meat wagon,” my cousin (her son) responded.

“Huh?” I was confused.

“You’re in a senior community. People drop like flies around here. One a week,” he explained between bites of honey-baked ham.

My sister and I exchanged an uneasy look. Um, isn’t it a bit awkward to talk about death when the reason we’re together is to mark someone’s advanced age? 

The meal continued and mercifully, the topic changed. Until we got to dessert.

Just as my aunt prepared to blow out her candles, her partner (who had run over to their other place to fetch ice cream from their other condo) came through the door and said, “Guess what?”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I usually expect those words (especially when uttered at a birthday party) to introduce an exciting/surprising/generally positive follow-up statement.

So we all looked up in anticipation. “The ambulance?” he continued, gesturing over his shoulder to a unit down the way, “It was here for Karen. Turns out she died last night.”

Awkward silence.

Followed by blowing out the candles.

Pretty sure we can all guess Auntie Fran’s wish.

Image Source:

What if I pay you in pebbles?

11 Dec

Yesterday I stopped by the library on my way home from work to pick up a book. My least favorite librarian, Rita the Regulator, was manning the check out desk. I’d actually surmised that before I set foot in the library, when I called from across town to see if they would be able to use my license rather than my library card.

This is how she answered the phone: “This is the Z- Branch of the District of Columbia Library. This is Ms. X- speaking. Go ahead.”

Um: Go ahead? Are we on walkie-talkies?

Anyway, fifteen minutes later I was in line, waiting to check out a book. Rita was informing the young woman in front of me that she had two fines she’d need to pay before she could borrow another book.

“If you’re going to pay cash, you’ll need to go to the main library – the Martin Luther King branch. Or if you’re going to pay here you’ll need to bring in a certified check or money order. Or you can go online if you’d like to use a credit card.”

The woman looked stupefied. “Well, how much is the fine?” she asked.

“Ten dollars,” Rosie told her. “Five for each item.”

The woman paused, looking thoughtful, then asked, “Will you accept canned goods?”

SERIOUSLY? I think you’ve gotten your wires crossed, ma’am. This is not a high school dance, a pub crawl or an office holiday party. Where else do cans constitute currency unless you’re ten years old?

Original Image Source:


To Rosie’s credit, she didn’t berate the woman. In fact, her literal interpretation of the world must not leave any room for humor, because she simply said, “No. I’m sorry. We cannot accept cans.”

Good to know. 

What’s the definition of a pet?

30 Nov
Pretty much.

Pretty much.

Last week, driving to Thanksgiving, we had Alan’s kids in the back of the car. They’re close in age and both under 10, so their primary goal in life these days seems to be to irritate the living shit out of each other. At least when they’re in the car.

As a result, we try to distract them by asking questions to force a conversation. During this particular drive, Alan asked, “So, how many pets do you guys currently have at home?”

At the same time, his daughter said, “One,” and his son said, “None.”

“So which is it?” he asked.

They started a verbal tug-of-war between One and None. Alan threw up his hand, “Hang on. Let’s figure this out.”

Then he asked his daughter, “Who do you consider a pet?”

To which she quickly replied, “Ladybug.”

His son, outraged, jumped in. “Ladybug is NOT a pet. It’s an insect.”

Now THIS definitely counts as a pet.

Now THIS definitely counts as a pet.

This launched another argument, so Alan hopped back in. “Whoa! There are a few simple questions that will help us determine if Ladybug is a pet. First: would it be in your house if you hadn’t deliberately brought it in?”

Yes: Ladybug was brought into the house.

“OK,” he continued. “Do you feed it?”

Yes: Leaves, a few times a week.

“And last question, does it have a name?”

Yes: Spotty.

“Well,” Alan scratched his chin. “Sounds like it’s a pet.”

His son, not accepting the verdict said, “But it doesn’t have any personality!”

To which his daughter replied, “Does too!”

Then after a minute, she added, “You just don’t hang out with it enough.”

Fair enough.

Your house is as crazy as you are.

26 Nov

…yeah, shit that works.

Flying back from Boston last week, a couple with his-and-hers corderoy pants were seated next to me. As if that didn’t effectively convey the “crunchy vibe” they were going for, when they shuffled into their seats, I was practically forced to claw my nose off my face as I surmised that the guy used one of those “natural crystals” in lieu of deoderant.

Unless you grow jasmine in your armpits, please don’t use natural anything when it comes to combatting body odor.

I tell you this to explain that I may have been prematurely soured on them. I spent the next hour staring straight ahead, watching them out of the corner of my eye, trying to figure out what their deal was.

As soon as they took their seats, they both began sketching on pads. From their conversation, I gathered they were designing a house. It struck me as odd, because the guy appeared to be in his 40s, and the woman looked like someone recently out of college. Father/daughter? Professor/student? Husband/wife?

How I felt.

I didn’t need to wait long to eliminate at least two of those options. As soon as they were told to put their tray tables away, they held hands. But to say they held hands would be to underrepresent what was occurring. It was a non-stop flurry of hand-holding. If it were an Olympic event, they might’ve medaled for effort, but not for style. It made me want to reach over and kneel on their collective arm and put a seatbelt on it.

Even with the handicap of each only having one arm to work with, they managed to continue sketching. From their dialogue, I couldn’t tell if they actually had a plot of land they were designing a home for, or if this was an inflight-activity designed to keep their minds off crashing, or if they were just bat-shit crazy. Their sentences would range from rational and intelligent, to plain stupid.


Him: So if we orient the house toward the stream, we should get great natural light on the porch in the evening and strong morning light in the kitchen. Is that what you’re thinking?

Her: That’s perfect. I’m going to make this entire wall cabinets. And then the sink will go here, under the window.

Him: Looks good. Where are you putting the stairs to the upper level?

Her: I thought we could do a rope ladder.

(Me, silently: A rope ladder? What is this, a TREE house?)

Him: That would be cool. 

Her: Right here. It will save space and be fun.

(Me, silently: Wait? He didn’t even call you on that bullshit?)

Him: I don’t see any closets. Where are you going to put clothes?

Her: Hooks and shelves.

Him: Hooks and shelves? What about your shoes?

Her: They’ll go in the mud room. Can I have a mud room?

(Me, silently: She has to ask permission for things? I want to smack them both.)

Him: Sure. So shoes will go in the mud room? Where – on the floor?

Her: Hooks and shelves. Hooks and shelves.

(Me, silently: What is this, kindergarten? No closets? Again, not practical.)

Him:  Got it. What about the fridge? You don’t have a place for it.

Her: Hmm. Maybe the basement? Can I have a basement?

(Me, silently: Again with the permission! And seriously? Was the kitchen too obvious for the fridge?)

Him: Sure. You can have a basement. You’ll probably want to put the water heater, furnace and other things down there though, so don’t use it all for living space.

Her: Great. I’ll put the fridge in the kitchen. (Thank God!) It’ll go under the counter. (What?) With the freezer next to it. (Huh?) And a dishwasher next to that. Can I put a fireplace in?

Him: Sure. You can have two flues off the same chimney, so you can add one without a problem.

(Me, silently: Wait. This place already HAS a fireplace? Does that mean it exists?) 

Do you understand now? They were crazy! I wanted to reach over and snap their pencils in half and tell them to do something useful. Fortunately, I was able to redirect my ire because at this point (ten minutes in the air) the woman unbuckled her seatbelt and announced she needed to use the restroom.

SERIOUSLY. We JUST took off and we will be on the ground in 50 minutes. You can’t hold it?

Wait. So you like rope ladders? Then let me show you how to get to the bathroom…


Rub, rub, barf. This one’s all over the place.

23 May

There was a moment during my most recent massage (the one following the fire-alarm facial) when I’m pretty sure I heard my masseuse gag. She was pregnant, in her first trimester, and – as I lay face-down on the table – I heard her swallow a wave of nausea.

It got me wondering how many people have ever been barfed on in the middle of a professional massage.

I mean, surely it’s happened to someone. I want to interview that person.

Suddenly, my massage was mentally hijacked… in my best Barbara Walters’ voice, I imagined myself prompting, “So Donna. You were face-down, expecting a relaxing massage. Take us back to that moment. When did you realize you were bathed in vomit rather than massage oil?”

At some point, I realized that it was probably not natural to spend a portion of one’s massage contemplating a half-digested shower, so I tried to push the thought from my mind and relax. But then another – equally horrifying – thought occurred to me. What if it wasn’t her pregnancy that made her gag? What if it was ME?

I started a paranoid accounting of myself. Toe nails… trimmed and painted… No flabbier than the average client. No warts on my feet… Legs shaved… I’d showered right before my massage so no chance of my feet smelling funky.

And then it occurred to me: SPIDER BITES.

I’d woken up the night before with itchy legs and found two huge welts (dare I say HIVES) on my leg, each with a perfect dot in the center. They were bigger than mosquito bites, so – even though it was 3 am – I woke Alan up, turned on the light, and tossed the bed looking for whatever bit me.

I didn’t find it, but I figured I’d probably either killed or displaced it with my flurry of activity, so I was able to go back to sleep.

But lying on the massage table with two huge welts on my legs that looked like botfly larvae might burst forth at any moment? A person wouldn’t need to be pregnant to want to puke.

Speaking of – I actually don’t think I can finish this post. I just bounced over to Google images to see if I could find a “funny botfly larvae” photo to illustrate this story. That was a HORRIBLE idea. Those words should never be in the same search string. Take my word for this.

And so it is… only in my world can a massage lead to a fantasy that ultimately tracks to parasitic worms. No wonder I never seem relaxed.