Wednesday, December 30, 2009


As we come to the close of my first full year as writer of the (now) infamous “Mom to Mom” column I would like to present awards to those people who inspired me during the course of this fantastic year.  Unfortunately, Joan Rivers could not be here to host the fashion segment, so for the benefit of our home readers, tonight I’m wearing Target -- a sequined robe (and by “sequined” I mean that my kids’ art-project glitter got all over it; and by “robe” I mean my husband’s XXL thermal-zipper sweat shirt lifted from the 75% off rack.)  Now, let me just belly up to the podium (bar), grab the microphone (bourbon) and begin the ceremony. So without any further adieu (cue music) I present the first annual Bewzie awards.
          The first Bewzie goes to: the Mexican in my trunk. (Applause.) Unfortunately the Mexican couldn’t be here to accept this award in person tonight because he has taken out a restraining order against me and I can’t be within 500 feet of him. Who knew he was documented after all? Congratulations Juan!
          The second Bewzie goes to: the maid-of-honor who, while liquored out of her skull, had the nerve to call me a whore while I was stone sober leaving me utterly defenseless! (Applause.) It’s the first Floozy Bewzie. Unfortunately, she couldn’t be here to accept her Bewzie because…who cares?
          The third Bewzie award goes to:  “Kenneth” from a branch of my bank who had “Security” detain me for theft simply because I produced my husband’s ATM card as I.D.  Although a step up from Guantanamo Bay, this detention did cause me to miss most of the wedding I was attending and resulted in a pull in my CVS pantyhose. If I had known that I would be called a whore by the maid-of-honor upon my return to said wedding, I would have not resisted arrest.  (P.S. Although reluctant to mention the name of the bank, I will say that a significant amount of their green pens ended up as stocking stuffers for just about everyone on my Christmas list.)
          The fourth Bewzie goes to: my beloved dog Burkey, who has soldiered through insufferable amounts of playdates, homemade haircuts, and (I’m not kidding) a nasty skin rash due to stress that cost my husband in excess of $300 in vet expenses. (To which he replied, “I’ve been scratching my ass for 18 years and you could care less; the dog scratches hers for a week and you call specialists in to examine her.” My response, “When you lick between my toes, and fetch my paper, perhaps I’ll treat you with such care.”)
          The fifth Bewzie goes to: whoever at The Bergen News buries my column behind the automotive section almost every week allowing my column to suck on the exhaust from all those used tailpipes.
          The sixth Bewzie goes to: my mother, who despite all of her hairy-eyeball-warnings, has yet to disinherit me because I have begun to dig into the family archives of memories.
          The seventh Bewzie goes to: Shop Rite Liquors who continues to carry the best bottom-shelf bourbon around! (Read: brown-bag affordable!)
          The eighth Bewzie goes to: the little Asian kid who was using his pumpkin carving knives as nunchunks and hasn’t hunted me down in the school playground for retribution, preschool style.
          The ninth Bewzie goes to: my son, Jack, who still insists that we are an African-American family despite the fact that his father burns, peels, and scabs whenever he walks out into the sun.
          The tenth Bewzie goes to: my husband, Jim, who has been such a great sport about letting me write about him in my column and, thankfully, is too poor to file for divorce.
          Well, that wraps up this year’s Bewzie’s!  (Applause) Congratulations to all our winners and thanks to everyone who continues to read my column each week! It’s been an absolute blast, and I look forward to a great 2010. Thanks to all the many, many people who continue to send me emails and share their life and their memories with me every week.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009


Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been to more grade school “Holiday” concerts than I care to own up to. I was thoroughly distracted from the performances by the fact that I was huddled with the tired masses at a bacterial happy hour (with a multitude of viral chasers). All around me the air echoed with the seasonal sounds: hacking coughs, sneezing noses, and the occasional sonorous sinus moan I like to call the “Elongated OOOOOH.”  Dusting off my college statistics, I mentally calculated the probability of being tagged by contagions. I mean, when you’re seated among 200 people there has to be at least one person secretly secreting fluids and hiding a raging fever so as not to miss little Johnny shake his jingle bells behind the tall girl with the big hair in the third row.  However, it wasn’t until last week that I focused on the music and realized that every concert celebrated Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but Christmas was summarily dismissed.
          I cerebrally indexed the dreidel songs and Kwanzaa dances. Rudolf was given his own audience-participation sing-a-long; but poor Jesus--there was no room in the auditorium for him.  To add insult to injury, I made the secular-sacrilegious mistake of congratulating one principal on the school’s beautiful Christmas tree, only to be told in hushed conspiratorial tones, “It’s a musical tree—we’re not allowed to refer to it as a “Christmas tree” so as not to offend anybody.” Well, what about me? I’m offended.
          Look, even though I was born Catholic, when it comes to any celebration I wholeheartedly welcome Mohammad, Buddha, and even Abraham, despite the fact that it always bothered me that he fathered his first born son with his wife Sarah’s maid. (No doubt, Abraham’s story was the first recorded soap opera, but I digress.)The bottom line is this: all these men came into the world bearing messages of peace, and isn’t that what this season is really about? It became my mission to determine where on Earth, or at least New Jersey, Jesus would be welcomed.
          I received a beautifully engraved invitation from my two lesbian friends inviting me to a Christmas carol sing-a-long they were hosting at their freshly-painted condo. “Wow!”  I thought, “Jesus will love this!”  Sadly, he was forbidden by Pope Benedict to attend an event hosted by an unsanctioned union. I’m sure the Pope would have invited Jesus to Rome, but unfortunately he was going on a skiing trip with some Cardinals to the Swiss Alps and wouldn’t be home.
          Okay, if we can’t go caroling with the lesbians, where can I bring Jesus to Christmas? Then I had an epiphany (sort of). Surely we’d find Christmas at the mall! Well, I was wrong—there were designer labels and knock-off labels, but no Christmas labels. It didn’t matter though; Macy’s denied Jesus credit. However, the buyer for Bergdorf’s thought his sandals would be a fabulous metro-sexual addition to next season’s men’s cruise-wear collection.
          Wait!  “I’ll take him to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center!” Where better to find the spirit of Christmas than in the heart of New York City in mid-December? However, I feared he’d be mistaken for a terrorist by one of those militant Christian Midwesterners who invade the Big Apple around this time every year. I didn’t want to be the one responsible for Jesus spending his birthday at Guantanamo Bay.
          Then I thought, “I’ll take him to the rectory to break bread with the priests.” Alas, we were turned away by a sign on the door that read, “Closed for lunch. Come back at 2.” Jesus queried, “What happens if someone has the misfortune to need Last Rites administered during lunch?”  I replied, “God only knows.” Jesus said, “Unfortunately I don’t.”
          So even if you can’t bring Jesus to the office party, bring his message of peace into the world; perform random acts of kindness; be bold and don’t be afraid to wish the world a Merry Christmas. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Mother's 12 Day's of Christmas

Inspired by actual events, I give you another year of
A Mother’s 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my children gave to me, a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the second day of Christmas my children gave to me, 2 overflowing toilets (I don’t know how our socks got in both toilets!), and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the third day of Christmas my children gave to me, 3 near concussions (let’s ride the skateboard inside!); 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the fourth day of Christmas my children gave to me 4 “Jack shot my eye out!” (Jack! Give me that goddamned Nerf Blaster before I beat you with it!); 3 near concussions (whoa!); 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the fifth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 5 shots of bourbon! (do any of you kids have parents? It’s 6:30 for god sakes!); 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the sixth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 6 bald spots on the dog (daddy’s electric razor was just sitting there, so we…); 5 shots of bourbon! (Mama needs more Makers Mark!); 4 “Jack shot my eye out”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the seventh day of Christmas (Only day seven????) my children gave to me, 7 stains on my new Target rug; 6 bald spots on the dog, 5 shots of bourbon!; 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets (unsuction the plunger from your sister’s forehead and GIVE IT TO ME!); and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.

On the (What the hell day is it?) eighth day of Christmas my children gave to me 8 naked bodies (Everybody--swim party in the bathroom!); 7 stains on my new Target Rug; 6 bald spots on the dog; 5 shots of bourbon!; 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions (honey, are you sure you weren’t born with that lump on your head?); 2overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of  their closest friends.

On the ninth day of Christmas my children gave to me 9 children crying (he hit me; she won’t talk to me; the dog scares me; this house scares me!); 8 naked bodies; 7 stains on my new Target Rug; 6 bald spots on the dog; 5 shots of bourbon!; 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends!

On the tenth day of Christmas my children gave to me, 10 fantasies about being childless; 9 children crying; 8 naked bodies; 7 stains on my new Target rug; 6 bald spots on the dog; 5 shots of bourbon! (Of all the towns in Bergen County I have to buy a house in a dry town???); 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends.    

On the eleventh day of Christmas my children gave to me 11 creditors calling (“Look, I covered Goldman’s debt, I think it only right they cover mine!”); 10 fantasies about being childless; 9 children crying; 8 naked bodies; 7 stains on my new Target rug; 6 bald spots on the dog; 5 shots of bourbon!; 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets; and a playdate with 10 of their closest friends. 
On the twelfth day of Christmas my children gave to me, a list of 12 baked-goods they volunteered me to bake for their classroom parties--tomorrow; 11 creditors calling (“No habla Englese”); 10 fantasies about being childless; 9 children crying; 8 naked bodies; 7 stains on my new Target rug; 6 bald spots on the dog; 5 shots of bourbon!; 4 “Jack shot my eye out!”; 3 near concussions; 2 overflowing toilets; and A PLAYDATE WITH 10 OF THEIR CLOSEST FRIENDS!    

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sinatra in Fort Lee--Part 2

Can you believe that I was expected to go to Kindergarten and give up the life I was making for myself? Who would mix drinks for the morning card players at the V.F.W.? Who would read the racing forms to the near-sighted World War I veterans? Who would advise Bunty what horse to bet on in the afternoon races? Who would feed coins into the payphone and dial the bookies to place the bets? Besides, when the horses hit, the boys filled my palm with closed-fist tributes—on a good afternoon I bet I had more money in my pocket than some of the men! Anyway, what did I need with school? I knew how to spell my name, and thanks to the horses I knew how to figure odds. And I’m sure no kid had a connection to Frank Sinatra, tenuous and twice removed though mine be!
 The only person who could get me out of this scrape with the German-engineered educational system was Uncle Joey. He was the one in the family who had the connections. I wanted to talk him into getting me one of those jobs that involved no work, but paid really well at one of the many construction sites in Fort Lee back then. I was five—old enough to have seen enough deals made and promises extracted by suit-wearing men on barstools and in back rooms to know how to get what I wanted. 
Uncle Joey knew the art of those deals—maybe he could ask Dolly to get Frank to intervene with my parents for me. I was sure of one thing: my mother could never refuse a request from Frank Sinatra. It was a really solid plan except for one thing. I had nothing of value to exchange for a favor so big, and in my fractured world where currency was not only measured in dollars, but in services performed -- when you had nothing to exchange you got nothing in return.
So, reluctantly, and with little illegal recourse, I readied myself for Kindergarten knowing that my happy days as a free-spirited waif were coming to an abrupt end. Grandma even took me to buy my first pair of school shoes at Schweitzer’s Department Store that sat directly across from Mr. Feiler’s Atlas Five and Dime on the southeast corner of Main Street. It was with a certain amount of sadness that I watched as Grandma exchanged her money for my new red tee-strap Buster Brown shoes with black rubber soles so thick I could have hauled used cars on them. It was then I knew that my life of adventure was dissolving and I hid behind the sale rack to conceal the bitter tears of my discontent. I was broken-hearted thinking about all the fun, adventures, and stories I’d be missing out on while forced to sit imprisoned in a classroom with 25 runny-nosed novices who knew nothing about life in the underbelly.
Once I had those red shoes in hand, I knew with great certainty that there was no way I was getting out of Kindergarten, so I looked at my situation the way most of the people who populated my first five years would look at it -- starting school meant that I was looking at a minimum12-year sentence with no chance of parole -- I should just take it on the chin like a man. I just hoped that I could stomach turning legit. I didn’t know it then, but I had nothing to worry about because the nuns took great pleasure in beating the legitimacy into me making me wish I was born a Jew.
However, those beatings made me realize one important thing-- most of the members of the mob were devout Catholics schooled by these very same nuns who, upon reflection, probably taught them everything they knew about throwing a good beating making these habit-wearing sisters perhaps the most menacing mob of all. After all, next to an outraged Italian mother, or an unpaid bookie, nobody could throw you a better beating than a pissed off nun.  Even Frank knew that!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sinatra in Fort Lee--Part 1

Growing up in Fort Lee in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, I was weaned on stories about the mob, and stories about Frank Sinatra.  It’s no secret that the mob had a powerful presence in Fort Lee (Anastasia, Adonis…) because of, not despite of, the fact that it was a really small town. However, not just any small town; a town filled with many exits--the George Washington Bridge, New Jersey Turnpike, Route 80, Palisades Interstate Parkway, and Route 46. No doubt about it-- Fort Lee was a great place to make a quick get-away from, which is why (I believe) many notable mobsters chose to live there.
Then there was Frank Sinatra who bought a house for his mother, Dolly, on Abbott Boulevard in Fort Lee. My Uncle Joey, who had been a professional baseball player, was often invited to Dolly Sinatra’s elaborate parties.  I used to eavesdrop on his stories about the eclectic group of people Dolly regularly gathered together; I particularly enjoyed hearing about the men who made a profession out of having no profession. Now, I’m not suggesting that Dolly Sinatra was “connected” but those who were connected wanted to connect with her in order to connect with her son, and that gave me access to their world vis-à-vis my Uncle Joey.
          In fact, Uncle Joey, along with a lot of the local guys and made men, used to drink with Frank’s father, Marty, down at Frank’s Cozy Bar -- a neighborhood hang-out that discreetly sat on Palisade Avenue in Fort Lee just at the edge of “The Palisades,” which was, and still is, the swankiest section of town.  As bars went, I was never fond of Frank’s, although Gloria his barmaid was aces with me; kids annoyed Frank and that annoyed me. Anyway, I was more of a Krieger’s or Yellow Front Saloon girl.
Like I said, Uncle Joey was invited to many parties at the Sinatra’s house and I loved listening to him as he unearthed the details to Grandma while sitting at her kitchen table with the plastic floral tablecloth. He spoke of mod, starch-haired women with brightly painted turquoise eyes thickly outlined in black liner wearing sequined mini-dresses who would pile their furs onto Dolly’s King-sized bed making the bedroom look like a pile of fresh road kill, albeit, very expensive road kill;  thick-necked, scar-faced men dressed in coffin-lined silk suits doused in expensive cologne who drank nothing but single-malt Scotch in cut-crystal bourbon glasses; the ladies’ mammoth diamond rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings sparkling like a swarm of neurotic fireflies, their brilliant flames flickering  and leaping onto and off of the gleaming porcelain bodies of the Catholic saints that filled the empty spaces of  Dolly’s ornate living room. These characters that peopled Uncle Joey’s stories became for me the Prince Charming’s and Cinderella’s that other girls dreamed of.
As I inconspicuously listened to Uncle Joey’s Johnny Walker Black-tobacco-chaffed voice tell these tales, I would close my eyes and pretend that it was me elegantly glittering in my sequined dress sipping Asti-Spumante from a delicately carved crystal champagne flute laughing as Dolly Sinatra whispered closely held secrets about Frank into my ear. 
At the age of four-years old I knew I was living an exciting life. I mean, what other kid my age heard men tell stories that the mob allegedly favored the southern perimeter of Palisades Amusement Park because the screams from the Cyclone roller coaster drowned out the sound of people getting whacked?  What other pre-kindergartner knew from an original source, who drank Crown Royal with Ava Gardner while Frank performed at the swank Riviera nightclub in Fort Lee, that Ava was a first-class come si chiama who was prejudiced against Italians? What other pre-kindergartner poured whiskey sours for retired World War I veterans while standing on a red plastic milk crate behind the bar at the V.F.W.???
But my exciting life was coming to a swift end. The state sentenced me to Kindergarten and I was expected to turn legit. Can you believe that? How could I possibly go from mixing cocktails to mixing paints?
(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Green Eggs and Ham in a Thanksgiving Traffic Jam

I am man.

“Man-I-Am, Man-I-Am, hear me say that Man-I-Am.”

Do you like this traffic jam?

“I do not like them,” said Man-I-Am, “I do not like this traffic jam.”

Why can’t you get from here to there?

“I cannot get from here to there, I cannot get to anywhere. I do not like this traffic jam, I do not like them Man-I-Am.”

I am sitting beside you my darling spouse, so do not act like such a louse.

“I do not like them my dearest spouse, and I AM NOT ACTING LIKE A LOUSE! I cannot get from here to there, I cannot get to anywhere. I do not like this traffic jam; I do not like them, Man-I-Am.”

Can you make a turn down any blocks? And this traffic jam outfox?

“There are no blocks, this jam I cannot outfox; my dearest spouse, I AM NOT A ******* LOUSE. I cannot get from here to there, I cannot get to anywhere. I do not like this traffic jam, I do not like them Man-I-Am!”

Would you, could you, calm your nerves? Or the children will repeat those words.

“I would not, could not calm my nerves!”

And did you have to flip that car the bird! You must stay calm and you will see, an exit sign to Fort Lee.

“I would not, could not, see Fort Lee, not in this mess, so let me be! I cannot turn down any blocks, this traffic jam I cannot outfox; I do not like them my dearest spouse, and I AM NOT ACTING LIKE A LOUSE! I cannot get from here to there, I cannot get to anywhere; I do not like these traffic jams, I do not like them Man-I-Am!”

A ramp, a ramp, please find a ramp; because my stomach has begun to cramp.

“Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, before we left I told you to go! I cannot turn down any blocks, this traffic jam I cannot outfox; I do not like them my dearest spouse, and I AM NOT ACTING LIKE A LOUSE; I cannot get from here to there, I cannot get to anywhere; I do not like these traffic jams, I do not like them Man-I-Am!”

Say, will we arrive in time for dinner? Would you, could you before dinner?

“I would not, could not promise to arrive in time for dinner.”

Would you, could you before dessert?

“I would not, could not promise before dessert, so your mother you should alert! And oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, before we left I told you to go. I do not like them, don’t you see, these traffic jams are not for me. I AM NOT ACTING LIKE A LOUSE, my dearest spouse; I cannot get from here to there; I cannot get to anywhere!”

Would you, could you get a GPS?

“A GPS will not get us out of this mess!”

Would you, could you next year leave on time?

“I would not, could not leave on time, to miss the football pre-game shows would be a crime; I will not get GPS, for it will not get us out of this mess; I will not get there for dessert, so my mother-in-law you should alert; oh, no, oh no, oh no, oh no, I told you before we left to go;
I cannot turn down any blocks, this traffic jam I cannot outfox; I do not like them my dearest spouse, and I AM NOT ACTING LIKE A LOUSE! I cannot get from here to there, I cannot get to anywhere; I do not like these traffic jams, I do not like them Man-I-Am!”

You do not like them so you say, and now you’ve ruined Thanksgiving Day!

 “Please, can you just let me be; all I want is football on T.V. Say, the traffic jam seems to be thinning, I’ll get to see if the Giants are winning!”

And that’s what this day is all about for sure, getting Man-I-Am to Thanksgiving dinner in time to see the Giants score.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sesame Street Class of ‘69

I was four when “Sesame Street” debuted in November of 1969. My father was immediately suspicious about the show. The idea of a public-supported, government-subsidized television station encouraging the children of America to sit in front of the T.V. at the same time every day, and be fed repetitive information by smiling fluffy-haired “muppets” amounted to nothing less than “Commie brainwashing,” to coin his phrase.  My old man firmly believed that there were hidden messag­es contained in the constant repetition of the alphabet, and that Big Bird was a metaphor for Maoism (all that happy yellow marching around the screen).
There was also “Sesame Street’s” initials, SS, the meaning of which was not lost on him, especially since his brother fought the SS during WWII. So, he forbade me to watch “Sesame Street” because no child of a decorated WWII veteran would be innocuously indoctrinated by Commies in his house!  Let’s forget that the show’s lessons were taught from the stoop of a New York City brownstone on a street peopled with residents who spoke fractured English. His feelings about that still hover like a storm cloud above our white-shingled house on Fifth Street.
All his protestations made me want to watch “Sesame Street” more, but I understood how he felt. I was just as suspicious about my impending attendance of Kindergarten. Taught by my old man to think like a WWII infantry soldier, I knew the Germans invented Kindergarten, and who was better at mind manipulation than them? Most importantly, how could I go from mixing cocktails for WWI veterans at the VFW and the neighborhood bars (that my mother made me go to with my father so he wouldn’t “get lost”) to mixing paints in a classroom?
“Sesame Street” seemed harmless enough to me. It was so different from every other kid’s show on television. I watched it whenever I could; sitting close to the television set, poised to change the channel should my old man walk in on me. You see, my father was a mailman in town, often coming home for a coffee break in the middle of the morning. Whenever I heard the stressed screech of the screen door, I would immediately grab the television’s cold silver knob and turn the channel as far as my little wrist could rotate. Somehow, I always landed on the “Jack LaLanne Show” and thought, “What’s worse for my brain development? Watching fluffy-haired muppets recite the alphabet, or watching a post-middle-aged man wearing a uni-tard and ballet slippers bend and crouch before my eyes in black-and-white close-ups?”
One day while surreptitiously watching “Sesame Street,” I was so absorbed in a segment where a bearded long-haired man wearing a beige “peeping-Tom-like” trench coat walked uninvited into an office and painted a number on the glass door, that I didn’t hear my father walk in. Without warning, I heard, “What the hell are you watching? I told your mother I didn’t want you watching this commie crap. Look at that hop-head with the paint can! He’s probably on welfare!”
I didn’t blame my old man for being upset. 1969 was a tough year for him and his generation of John Wayne’s. They had to deal with Vietnam War protests; draft dodgers; and racial unrest. For goodness sakes, he was still freaked-out from inadvertently driving through Woodstock the day after the festival and wading his Ford Falcon through the hippie generation as it made its barefoot, muddy retreat back to civilization. So, he controlled what he could. And “Sesame Street” was something he thought he could control, at least in his own house.
I wanted to obey my father, but the whole world was giving in to the changes that were taking place, and, refusing to be left behind, I succumbed to the new world order.  In defiance, I continued to watch “Sesame Street.” I learned Spanish words, and for the first time I was introduced to African-American children, Hispanic children, and Asian children who were just like me. And I felt connected to them all. They were just like me except my street looked just a little different from theirs.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If You Give a Mom a Cosmo

You know what happens “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” but what happens “If You Give a Mom a Cosmo?”

If you give a mom a Cosmo, she’ll want a cigarette;

Chances are when she finds a cigarette stashed away in the back of the junk drawer beneath a pile of torn recipes and Chinese soy sauce packets, it will be stale and deformed;

But her day sucked so badly that she’ll want to smoke it anyway;

And if she smokes it, she’ll have to go outside so her children don’t see her, and tell their teachers that their mother is a drug addict since schools now brilliantly teach that alcohol and cigarettes are considered drugs;

And she won’t want her neighbors to see her smoking while drinking a Cosmo especially since she’s braless, barefoot, and uncertain when she last found time to shower;

So, she’ll probably take her Cosmo and her bent butt and go to party behind an overgrown bush;

And if she drinks her Cosmo and smokes her crooked cigarette behind a bush, chances are she’ll eventually have to pee;

And since she’s left it to her husband to put the kids to bed she won’t want to go inside and get sucked into his drama;

So, she’ll simultaneously fertilize that bush, toss the twisted nub of the cigarette into her neighbor’s yard, and continue to drink her Cosmo because she is the consummate multi-tasker;

And while fertilizing that overgrown bush, she’ll start to think about her landscaping and decide that next summer she’s going to hire some Guatemalan day-laborers to plant her a vegetable garden;

Thinking about planting a vegetable garden will make her hungry, so she’ll take her Cosmo to the car and dine on a tapas of orphaned cheerios and motherless gummies crusted like infected scabs on the floor and car seats;

After she’s done crumb-diving in the backseat of her mini-van, she’ll find that tube of Revlon Cha Cha Cherry lipstick that she lost in 2003 wedged beneath the driver’s seat. Having survived six mid-Atlantic seasons of melting, freezing; melting, freezing; melting, freezing; melting, freezing; melting, freezing; melting freezing it now resembles the shriveled little finger of a very old arthritic man, providing for her the perfect metaphor for her life; 

But she’ll decide to color her lips with it anyway. And once she colors her lips, she’ll have to look in the rearview mirror to inspect herself;

Believing that her dim-lit reflection resembles Super Mario will remind her that she hasn’t waxed since Memorial Day;

Sneaking inside and reaching into the back of the linen closet she’ll find a mummified bottle of Nair that hasn’t been used since before she got pregnant with her last child, and she’ll lather it all over her body;

And while she’s waiting for the odiferous depilatory to work its magic, she’ll finish her Cosmo and turn on the shower;

As she waits for the water to warm, she’ll feel a burning sensation and realize that along with her unwanted hair, the Nair is also removing 3 layers of her epidermis;

She’ll hop into the shower and use the sacred scented Lancôme body wash she bought six years ago when she had both a life and disposable income, and use it to diffuse the stench of eau de Nair that fogs the air;

After her shower she’ll wrap herself in a towel and, feeling sleepy, will decide to lie down on the bed;

Exhausted, she’ll probably drift off just as her husband comes into the bedroom;

Seeing her lying on the bed wearing just a towel, he’ll think this is his reward for giving her a break by putting the kids to bed for the first time since June 2006;

She’ll think she might as well check him off her mental list of things to do, freeing up her nights and weekends for the rest of the month…

Crawling in the dark searching for where he threw her towel, she’ll feel like a cigarette;

And chances are, if she has a cigarette, she’ll want a Cosmo to go with it...    

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The other day when I was shopping for wine I came across a crate that advertised “The Best Argentinean Wine You’ll Ever Taste.” I love wine, but I’m particularly fond of Argentinean wine. Bold, red, and audacious—not so much the wine, but my behavior whenever I drink it.

That crate of wine reminded me of a conversation I had with a young girl many years ago, long before I had children of my own. I was at a cocktail party hosted by a dear friend, and after quite a few large goblets of Argentinean wine, found myself conversing with the host’s niece who was about eight-years old and visiting from Israel. I’ll call her Rebecca. I found her fascinating—her father was a scholar on the Torah and her mother was a sexual psychologist. Rebecca was fluent in four languages, and had the most interesting and appealing accent.

Feeling the narcotic effects of the wine, I unexpectedly discovered myself seated beside Rebecca on the oversized Pottery Barn sofa in the far corner of this cavernous pre-war Upper West Side apartment. She told me all about her life as a young expatriate living in Israel; the culture, the people, the food, and the beauty of the land.

          This little girl also told me that her mother was different from all the other mommies because she was very open about talking to her about sex. At 28, I was still waiting for my mother to talk to me about sex, so I sidled up to this little girl thinking she might impart some of her wisdom upon me. As I poured myself another glass of wine she said, “You know, my mommy has a vulva.”

I replied, “Yes, I have one too.”

Rebecca: “Do you like it?”

Me: “I’m fond of it.”

Rebecca: “Have you had any accidents with it?”

Me: “Some close calls, but no, no accidents, thanks be to God!”

Rebecca: “God is good.”

Me: “Yes, he certainly is.”

Rebecca: “And all knowing.”

Me: “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

Rebecca: “Did you order any add-ons for your vulva?”

Me: (Looking around at the lesbian couples.) “No, I married my add-on.”

Rebecca: (confused) “Oh.”

Me: “I’m not a…I mean…I married a man…never mind.”

Rebecca: “Mommy said that dummies rode in her vulva.”

Me: “Yes, we’ve all suffered through a few dummies in our vulva.”

Rebecca: “But it’s good they lived.”

Me: “Well…that’s mommy’s opinion. I’m not as passionate about the dummies who rode in mine.”

Rebecca: “Mommy’s vulva is great on mileage. Is yours?”

Me: (taking long gulp of wine) “Honey, I’m Catholic—I’ll never know.”

Rebecca: “Is there such a thing as a Catholic vulva?”

Me: (another swig of wine) “It’s one of our most sacred mysteries.”

Rebecca: “Do you lease or own your vulva?”

Me: “Neither; I’m Catholic—my husband holds the title to it.”

Rebecca: “Oh. Do you have an automatic or a manual?”

Me: “Again, Catholic. We’re not allowed.”

Rebecca: “My mommy’s mechanic takes good care of her vulva. After Daddy dented it she said Judah is the only man she’ll ever let touch it.”

Me: “The mechanic? Really? Most women I know prefer the UPS man.”

Rebecca: “What does a UPS man know about taking care of a vulva?”

Me: (Lifting my glass of wine up as if giving a toast) “Exactly!”

Rebecca: “Mommy never let any animals in her vulva.”

Me: “I wish I was as smart as your Mommy.”

Rebecca: “Are you drunk?”

Me: “I certainly hope so.”

Rebecca: “You shouldn’t use your vulva when you’re drunk.”

Me: “Lessons my mother never taught me.”

Rebecca: “Really, never use your vulva when you’re drunk. You’ll regret it.”

Me: “Ah, you’ll never know the regrets I have…”

Rebecca: “Are we talking about the same thing?”

Me: Silence.

Rebecca: “I’m talking about a Vol-Voh. You know, the car.”

Me: (Big gulp of wine with a trunk-full of embarrassment.)
And here’s the lesson: When an eight-year old Israeli girl has to phonetically get your mind out of the confessional gutter, it’s either time to call a cab, become a Presbyterian, or hit a bar and order a Presbyterian.   

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Bladerunner

“School Pumpkin Carving Party—Bring Really Sharp Knives!” Okay, the flyer actually said “Bring carving equipment,” but how often do you get a memo from your kids’ school instructing you to bring sharp instruments?  And something has to happen when you pair really little kids with really sharp instruments, lots and lots of sugared snacks, and really tired parents, right?  

As my family walked into the school cafeteria I felt like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind observing the Confederate wounded. The fluorescently-lit landscape electrified the endless columns of gorged pumpkins;  their stringy anatomical remains being pulled and shoveled into indiscriminate piles of useless discarded organs; amputated craniums beginning to brown and bleed their pulpy mucous into the print of last Sunday’s newspaper—I was standing in the middle of one big orange autopsy.

Eager to decapitate our perfect pumpkin, we squeezed ourselves into a small space at one of the lunch tables. Kids all around me were stabbing their pumpkins with serrated knives while parents chatted. As I knelt down to retrieve something from my purse, my eyes met the eyes of a three-year-old Asian boy swinging two knives around the perimeter of my head like a spasmodic samurai—parents nowhere in sight. Luckily, I’ve watched enough reality cop shows on Spike TV to know how to handle this situation. With authority I said, “PLEASE PUT DOWN THE KNIVES.”  

He smiled and hissed, “Ninja, Ninja, Ninja…” in a voice that sounded like it came straight from the bowels of hell. This never happened on COPS. Fear overtook me; however, from my crouched position I had an unobstructed view of my husband’s feet, and all I could think of as my little Ninja decided to try his hand at juggling his steel blades was, “He wore those shoes? I thought I put them in the bag going to Good Will!” The sound of steel tap dancing dangerously close to my left ear returned my attention to my little knife juggler. Slowly, yet deliberately, I reached into my bag and pulled out a lint encrusted strawberry banana Laffy Taffy and dangled it before Little Ninja to tempt him into submission. Understanding the art of the artificially sweetened deal, he dropped his swords, grabbed the candy, and took off.

Relieved, I turned my attention to my husband as he butchered the pumpkin we had picked last weekend. Grunting, sweating, lips moving in a silent swear; his face that perfect shade of apoplectic red that screams, “My blood pressure is dangerously high!” my hunka hunka burning love gave me that look that only lovers with children give each other, and my heart thumped as I read the message his eyes were sending me, “This was your ******* idea; family night, my ***! I blew him a kiss with my middle finger. Ah, love!

As I was looking for my children, I saw a group of two-year-olds who attend my mommy and me classes sitting in a cozy circle on the linoleum floor. I bent down to their level and noticed that one of them had gotten their hands on a small orange dollar store “Made in China” pumpkin knife. Being what I would call “The Toddler Whisperer” I read the look on their faces and I started to sweat profusely. In my head, I could hear their untrained voices telling me that they were sick and tired of singing the same old stupid songs in my class. I could hear the one with the knife saying, “Hey Miss Annie, look at me ‘I’m a little tea pot short and stout…just tip me over and…” slash goes the pumpkin knife into my ankle. Another one saying “Hey, pssst…Miss Annie…“The itsy-bitsy spider crawled up the…” slash the pumpkin knife goes into my knee. Yet another Lilliputian voice, “Hey Miss Annie, how ‘bout I carve a pumpkin face into your not so little red caboose?”

All around me echoed the scrape of knives; the whines of over-tired children; the mutterings of my unenthused husband. The putrid stench of decaying pumpkin carcasses assaulted my senses. It was then I realized I know where the wild things are.  

Next Week: Lost in Translation