Laughter

Coca-Cola Pool

Be honest. If your parents were the kind of parents who occasionally let you drink soda, then you must have fantasized about doing something like this. I know I did.

I also used to wish my house was an indoor swimming pool. I don’t mean I wish that my parents were uber rich and that we had an actual indoor pool. I mean that I envisioned my entire house flooded with water, save for a few feet at the top. Then I could swim down the hallway to my bedroom, or float around the living room while I watched TV.

Yes, yes, I know. Water and electricity don’t mix. But that’s not exactly the only flaw in that plan, is it?

I’m not pregnant or buying a house

A friend offered me some tea when I visited her recently. This tea didn’t come in a bottle and it wasn’t brewed from bags. My friend made it from scratch with hibiscus flowers, rose petals, clover and honey. After boiling and simmering it for 15 minutes, she added some orange slices. My taste buds were shocked to actually enjoy something liquid that wasn’t Coke or water.

Then a different friend shared an herbal tea recipe with me. Since regrettably stepping on a scale on Memorial Day weekend and discovering I weigh 8 more pounds than I thought, I’ve been cutting back on all that soda I drink. Here was another opportunity to replace sugar and caffeine with something tasty and healthy.

The problem was that grocery stores in my area don’t sell fresh chamomile and mugwort by the ounce. I didn’t want to order them online since you can never be certain to get fresh herbs. The best herb shop around is about a 40 minute drive from my house. I was disappointed until I learned the herb shop has a booth at a weekly farmer’s market at my favorite neighborhood park. If you call them, they will package your order and send it to the farmer’s market for pick-up. Score!

herbsThe friendly lady working the booth made polite conversation while she processed my payment. She asked me what I intended to use the herbs for and after I explained about wanting to cut back on soda and lose a few pounds, she congratulated me. “Thank you,” I said.

She started showing me the prepackaged teas that lined the tables. She selected a tea for pregnant women and talked about the herbs’ health benefits for expecting mothers. Wait. Did she think I was pregnant? What on earth did I say to make her mistakenly hear the word pregnant? Or was she just demonstrating the variety of teas they sold? Then she scanned the ingredients of another bag and said, “After you have your baby…”

Uh oh. That was awkward. I’d already accepted her congratulations. Was it too late to correct her? Which one of us would be more uncomfortable if I did? I decided to pretend I hadn’t heard what she said about having a baby and leave as quickly as I politely could. As she handed me my bag of herbs and receipt, she said, “Congratulations again!” This was my last opportunity to correct her. The herbs were affordable, high quality, and I knew I wanted to purchase more in the future. If I didn’t speak up now, it would be weirder later. But I didn’t. I smiled shyly and thanked her for the second time.

The next day I went grocery shopping. A lady was asking everyone who passed by her if they wanted to learn how to save on fuel and get free groceries. Ooooohhhh, me! Me! I do! The kids were at home with my husband so I was totally unencumbered and could kill a few minutes learning how to save money. I’m a dedicated coupon clipper. I combine them with the sales to maximize my savings. If there’s anything more I can do, then I want to know about it.

What this lady explained to me was really enticing, like tons of opportunities for reward points, 25 cents off per gallon of fuel for the first three months, and rewards checks four times a year. We chatted for a bit and I explained that I have a family of five, so I appreciate any deals I can get. Whatever I don’t spend at the grocery store or on gas can be saved or put in the entertainment budget. At the end of the spiel, I realized the only drawback. You have to get their Visa card. Even though I knew in the back of my mind I might want the card at some point, I wasn’t prepared to fill out an application and open a line of credit right then and there. So I admit it, I lied. I gave her the standard answer I tell every clerk who pitches a similar offer. I said, “We’re buying a house and I can’t open any new lines of credit right now.” That usually releases me from any high pressure sales tactics and ends the conversation. No harm, no foul.

Except.

This lady was so sweet that she was immediately interested in my fake house hunting experience. She agreed with my wise decision not to open any new credit and even advised me not to buy a car during the process. She told me not to stress, as so many people find it one of the most stressful things they do in life. She wished me luck. Once again I guilty thanked someone for their kind sentiment. I could almost feel my nose growing. Then she said to stop by and let her know how it’s going the next time I come in because she would be interested to hear. And I believed that she would genuinely like an update. I suspect she’s also one of those people who never forget a face.

On my way to checkout, I passed by this lady again. This time she was also giving away free samples of caramel popcorn. I’m a popcorn purist. I like it drowning in hot butter with very little salt. I don’t care for all the fancy schmancy dessert flavored stuff. When she tried to hand me a plastic cup full, I declined. “No thank you, I’m chewing gum.” I’ll have you know that was the honest truth. I was chewing gum.

She suggested I take some home for my kids and handed me a whole bag after she placed a sticker over the bar code so I wouldn’t be charged at checkout. I’m sure she had a certain amount she could give away. I’m also sure she chose me as a lucky freebie recipient because of the nice conversation we’d had. And yes, I felt appropriately guilty even as I later lazed on my couch, reading and snacking on that surprisingly delicious caramel popcorn that had no hulls or kernels. I’m definitely going to buy some the next time I’m in the store. I just don’t know what I’ll say to that kind lady when I see her again.

Epitaph Game

There’s a game happening on Tumblr where you figure out what your epitaph will say. It sounds macabre until you read the directions:

Uh oh, you just died and your family is planning what your tombstone will say. They decide to use your last outgoing text message. What’s your tombstone say?

My favorite epitaph so far: “I’m here.” That could be frightening or comforting, depending on how you look at it.

Some other gems are:

“Ok NOW I’m napping”

“Scott said I didn’t need to come in today”

“I just walked out of hospital cos it was making me worst”

“See you soon”

“Thought you’d find it funny and Kristen might too”

“So, if cats get lured away that’s why”

“Yeah, same”

“Let me know how it goes”

“I’m on my way now”

“You need to be let in?”

“Which one of us in this relationship never answers their phone?”

“Mum just finishing ironing, then we’ll be there”

“Noooooooooo”

“Oh dang it, see you some other time then”

“Ok :)

“Goodnight <3″

“This makes me feel even more single”

“Yes it’s painful”

“I literally just woke up”

“Call me”

“Oops”

What would your epitaph say? Leave it in the comments.

Plot Twist

Recently, Lucas and I took the kids to Goodwill. I was hoping to find an old-fashioned cake stand and they were just along for the company. As usual, I didn’t find what I wanted and ended up buying stuff we didn’t really need. This time the unnecessary purchases were a pair of roller skates for the kids, conveniently shelved next to the used walking boots and braces to remind me of the potential painful injuries. Like I don’t worry enough already.

While we were slowly herding the kids toward the checkout counter, some lady started talking on the phone very loudly. I’m usually not one to eavesdrop on a stranger’s phone conversation but… yes I am.

Keep in mind, I wasn’t trying to overhear. But she was yelling, “What?! Naked? NAKED?!”

That caught my attention.

Then she said, “Delete it! Delete the post!”

Was she talking to someone who accidentally posted a nude photo? Not gonna lie, now I was really curious.

There was a pause that I’m assuming was filled with hysteria on the end of the line. Then: “Oh my gosh! You have to get off Facebook. You don’t know how to use it! Just click on the button on the side of the post and hit delete.”

I was totally invested in the outcome. I had to know, will she get it deleted?

After another pause the woman said, “Okay, okay. We’ll check it out. I gotta go. We’ll call you back.”

She hung up the phone, turned to her middle school-aged son beside her and exclaimed, “Well, that was a stupid emergency!”

Lady, that doesn’t sound like a stupid emergency to me. It actually sounds pretty legitimate. In fact, I can hardly think of anything more urgent than deleting an accidentally-posted naked picture of yourself from Facebook. Each passing second is a chance for someone to save a digital copy of your nude selfie and it will be out there in cyberspace FOREVER. I didn’t even know this woman and I was concerned for her.

Then this woman instructed her son, who apparently has the Facebook app on his phone, to check out this mystery person’s profile. “Is there anything there?” she asked.

“No, I don’t see anything. What is it, again? Her butt?” he asked.

Pay attention, kid. This is a Level One Emergency.

“No! She was naked. She posted a naked picture of herself!” The exasperation in the woman’s voice tells me that she has been through more than a few of the caller’s self-created crises.

“Well,” the kid says, remarkably calm, “it’s gone now. The last picture posted was from a few months ago.”

The woman told him, “I don’t feel like talking to her anymore. You call her and tell her it’s gone.”

So the kid pushes a few buttons on his phone and waits for his call to connect. He says, “Hello? Grandma?”

Wait. Grandma? Grandma!?!

And yes, I did actually have the nerve to say something. I looked boldly at this woman and said, “Wait, so that was his grandmother who posted the naked picture?”

She was unperturbed by me inserting myself into this situation. She nodded her head and rolled her eyes, as if to imply, “Old people these days. What’re you gonna do?” Then we had a short pleasant chat before I had to locate my family who had wandered off to look at more stuff we don’t need. Can you believe that? They were totally unaware this whole crisis had taken place.

Some of you might be thinking I’m awfully nosy. I disagree. I couldn’t very well blog about this without confirming that I’d understood the situation correctly. So, I was like a journalist scrupulously verifying my facts and interviewing sources so that I could accurately bring you one of the greatest plot twists I’ve ever heard.

You’re welcome.

Every Tom Hanks Movie in 7 Minutes

My favorite Tom Hanks movie is Splash. No wait, it’s Money Pit. I really liked The ‘Burbs too. Classic Tom Hanks is the best. But The Green Mile was awesome too. So was Castaway even though it makes me cry when Wilson floats away. Sleepless in Seattle was great too. And You’ve Got Mail…

Alright, I can’t decide. I love Tom Hanks. If you do too then you’ll love this. Tom Hanks recreates his movies in seven minutes with The Late Late Show host, James Corden, and it’s perfection.

Push to Add Drama

Most of the television I watch is pre-recorded so I can fast forward through commercials. But once in awhile a brilliant marketing team creates an ad compelling enough to be brief entertainment in its own right.

What if there was a button to add romance? Waiters in tuxedos bring out a table for two covered in white linen and rose petals. Champagne on ice. A violinist serenades you. Fireworks burst in the sky.

How about a button to add humor to a situation? Wherever you are, Jerry Seinfeld appears and performs stand-up comedy.

I really like the idea of a drama button. I’ve often said to Lucas my life is sadly lacking in euphoria. Sure, it’s happy and full of love but what about the intensity? The excitement? So I made this list of possible adrenaline rushes:

Crowd dive at a concert.
Normally I don’t like live music but I’d make an exception for this.

Attend a fancy movie premiere.
Sneak in, if necessary. Bonus: obtain press credentials and ask losing celebrities why they’ve never won any awards.

Perform drunken karaoke.
Possible songs: Copacabana, Summer Nights, and It’s the End of the World as We Know It.

Become an immortal.
This requires a reconnaissance mission to Italy to locate a vampire coven. *Highly dangerous.* Consider hiring private investigators.

Train to fight in the zombie apocalypse.
I’m assuming this goes beyond classes offered at our local gyms. To do: put an ad on Craigslist for a survival trainer.

Ride motorcycles on the freeway during rush hour.
If you’ve ever driven in Phoenix, you know why our auto insurance rates are so high.

Provoke the Church of Scientology.
See if their campaigns of stalking, harassment and wire tapping are legit. Then provoke Donald Trump. Compare results.

Diffuse a bomb.
We may have to make our own if we can’t find one about to detonate.

Join the Cirque du Soleil.
We should be in excellent shape for this after training to fight zombies.

Speaking of drama and adrenaline, are you watching Better Call Saul? This is probably the only spinoff show in history to be as good as the original. Now that this show has started, my Monday nights have certainly gotten high octane.

The Hazards of Shopping with Strollers

With eleven days until Christmas and zero presents brought – yes, ZERO – Lucas and I took our 5yo and 2yo shopping at a fancy mall in Scottsdale. Our thought was that we could put the kids in the double stroller and get presents for the family on our list. We imagined that we’d have a great time together while still being productive and we actually thought we could do this with two kids on the second to last weekend before Christmas.

WE WERE WRONG.

Parking was easier than I thought. We squeezed into a space on the second floor of the garage. Then we had to wake up the 5yo who had fallen asleep because if he’s in the car more than ten minutes he’s out like a light. He wasn’t cranky but he didn’t want to ride in the stroller and from then on the kids took turns objecting over riding instead of walking. “Walking” meaning wandering and either lagging behind or charging ahead.

Anyway, we make it inside the mall and it’s no Mall of America but it’s big – three levels and a split-level in the middle with the food court and movie theater. Certain areas are only accessible by stairs or wheelchair ramp. In other words, it was designed by childless people who have never heard of strollers.

We waited half a century for the elevator to go to the second floor and headed to Crate & Barrel. Out of all the vibrant throw pillows, elegant glassware, and festive holiday decorations, Lucas selected two plain white bowls as gifts. Despite the fact that they’re useless for baking or food storage since they didn’t come with lids, I know my husband has an innate ability to pick out the perfect gift. That’s why I agreed to wait in a Disneyland-esque line for lidless bowls.

By this time the kids were restless. Lucas suggested letting them burn some energy at the kids play area, which is on the third floor. Rather than wait for the elevator, he led us to the escalator. I was reluctant to let him attempt it with the stroller, but I went up holding the kids’ hands and he maneuvered it flawlessly.

After about forty five minutes of play, our shopping led us up and down the main levels and split-level a few times. Lucas was still expertly dragging the stroller on the escalator… until the last time. The kids and I were at the top waiting for him when suddenly the front wheel got stuck at the end. I just stood there watching helplessly as he struggled to free it. All I could think was, “Oh no I can’t believe I’m watching one of those ‘escalator fails’ moments in real life and my husband is about to get sucked into this conveyor of death right in front of our kids and they’ll be scarred for life and how will I afford a therapist as a single mother?”

Fortunately, Lucas was able to yank the stroller free before disaster struck. But his wild efforts sent the bag with the lidless bowls flying and it landed with a crash that sounded not unlike glass breaking. Of course I was happy my husband hadn’t lost life or limb in the escalator but I was pretty disappointed that the only two gifts we’d managed to buy in an entire afternoon were now shattered.

Funny thing about all that annoying cardboard and Styrofoam packaging – it actually worked! Despite the noise, the bowls were in perfect condition and we all made it home safely – without ending up on YouTube. We still have lots of shopping left though. Lots and lots and lots of shopping. From now on, we’ll wait for the elevator.

An actual conversation I had with my teenage daughter

Madison: Mom, I’m scared of Ebola.

Me: *rolls eyes*

Madison: There was this report that some guy caught Ebola and died. Then like three or eight hours later he came back to life*.

Me: So the zombie apocalypse has started?

Madison: MOM! We’re all going to die. Why did you even bring me into this world?

Me: It was an accident.

-  -  -  -  -

*So I Googled it and the story is actually true. Sort of. It happened in Liberia and people were trying to get the sick man help for days. When he was thought to have died, a burial team showed up within an hour and they sprayed him with bleach. Luckily for this guy he moved and they realized he was alive and an ambulance soon came to take him away.

Drunken Award

When I win an award I want Johnny Depp to present it…

…and these people to come to my after-party.

I can’t imagine what organization would present me with an award, but something tells me if these people are involved it’s gonna be a good time.

Is Quentin Tarantino directing commercials now?

Have you seen this new Life Alert commercial? It’s terrifying.

This could be a clip from a horror movie or one of those true life crime shows on Investigation Discovery, maybe even a snuff film.

That poor Grandma is laying helpless at the bottom of the stairs while her oblivious mailman flirts with a neighbor walking two friendly dogs. And, if she ever gets help, she still has to finish the laundry and fix her leaky kitchen faucet.

They’ve really upped the scare factor to sell 24-hour emergency response systems since the days of clumsy Mrs. Fletcher, who uttered one of the 80′s most famous catchphrases, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Listen carefully at the 0:30 mark. See if you think she says cang instead of can’t. That used to drive my father CRAZY.

And, if you never heard that wacky song Dr. Demento used to play on his radio show, then TODAY IS THE DAY.

“No one lives with Mrs. Fletcher,
There was no one there to catch her.
She could really use a stretcher,
It looks bad for Mrs. Fletcher.”