I developed an obsessive compulsive ritual at a very young age. I started checking to see if my family was breathing while they slept. In the middle of the night was when I felt we were at our most vulnerable. I’d creep into my parent’s bedroom and stare over them until I heard a sigh, snore or could see their chests moving up and down. I don’t exactly know why I became obsessed with making sure my loved ones were still breathing throughout their slumber, but I think it could have something to do with my dad’s incessant fear that one day a gas leak would kill everyone in our home. This was his biggest fear. His fear manifested in the form of me regularly waking up to make sure that our gas stovetop was turned off. My nose led me throughout the house hoping and praying that I didn’t pick up the slightest scent of our toxic nemesis.
My brother was a sleepwalker, which made it easier for me to tell if he was breathing. We’d regularly wake up to find him sleeping near the backdoor of our home. And sometimes what he thought was the toilet was actually the doorway to my parent’s bedroom. There he stood taking a leak on the horrific green shag carpeting. Carpet so ugly that the piss made it more attractive. And because of that and the fact that I knew for certain he was breathing, I am forever grateful for sleepwalking.
In 2010, my boyfriend moved into my Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. Everything was going great. We were happy and enjoying doing that thing that couples do when they first move in with one another, nesting. And soon after we realized that we had the exact opposite taste in home decor. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t a fan of the “Dream A Little Dream” movie poster I hung in our dining area. Did he not know that this 1989 classic was the BEST movie the Corey’s had ever starred in together? For those of you who may be unaware, the two Corey’s consisted of the late, great Corey Haim and the still rocking in this free world, Corey Feldman. I adored them. Especially Corey Haim. And this movie defined my childhood. Everything I learned about being a teenager in high school, I learned from this movie. In my obsessive compulsive nature, I memorized every line in the movie and acted out each scene in my bedroom hoping no one would walk in on me and expose my passion for living in cinema.
My childhood bedroom was an alternate reality where I was a famous singer/actress/tap dancer. I spent most of my time singing and reciting monologues to the large collage of pictures of teen heart throbs, actors, bands and pop singers that I cut out of magazines and taped upon my walls. I’d sing Mariah Carey to a picture of Mariah Carey, and let me tell you, she loved it. My rendition of, “Make it Happen” always made her smile. Granted she was always smiling, but I had this feeling that when I left the room her smile turned upside down. In my bedroom I was safe to be as delusional as I wanted to be. It was where I concocted the story that Corey Haim and I were married in a previous life. It was loosely based on the Beetlejuice death scene.
Basically, we were happily married and then one day, BAM, we ran our car off a beautiful country road and into a pound where we drowned together. Romantic, I know. Then we were reincarnated. Me as an aspiring attention-whore living in St. Paul, Minnesota and Corey as a successful, yet tormented child star turned teen heartthrob turned drug addict. Unfortunately, I was the only one who remembered our previous life. I wrote countless letters to his fan club hoping it would remind him of the love we once shared, but sadly I received no response. After a year of writing letters, the fan club did send me a wallet-size autographed picture of him, which I took as a sign that he remembered. After spending many years in my pocket and fanny packs and then taking a couple of trips in the washing machine, the picture wore so thin that all of the color faded from it. His once crooked grin and head full of mouse was now just an unrecognizable white blob, which coincidentally is what I often resemble when someone takes a picture of me while I’m on stage. More proof of our love or as Mariah Carey would say, “we belong together.”
Soon after moving in with my boyfriend, I began waking up numerous times a night in order to make sure that he was still breathing. Sometimes I would put my finger under his nose and other times I would just stare at him until I could see his chest move. And on occasion, just to be sure, I’d put the tip of my finger inside one of his nostrils until he swatted his hand against his face. For the first couple of months, he had no idea that I was checking his breathing while he slept. I was in the clear. I could maintain my image as a somewhat sane girlfriend, but then it happened. He caught me.
There I was face to face with him. My eyes were perched wide open staring intensely at him waiting for that sign of life. Then as if out of a horror film, his eyes popped open. He appeared startled. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Oh nothing,” I replied hoping he’d believe this was a dream and fall back asleep. “Why are you staring at me like that?” I paused and then replied, “I just can’t stop looking at you.” At the time, I thought this was a better answer than, “Oh, nothing. Just making sure you’re not dead.” It wasn’t. It made me seem very creepy. “How often do watch me while I’m sleeping?” I didn’t know how to answer that, but before my brain could string together a good answer I said, “Four to six times a night.” I then spent the next hour trying to convince him that I wasn’t planning to murder him.
The next day I decided to come clean. I explained that I wasn’t watching him sleep because I was obsessed with him, but rather I was obsessed with my fear of waking up next to a lifeless boyfriend. Surprisingly, he seemed relieved. That following week I asked my psychiatrist to increase the dosage of my anxiety medication. It helped. Sometimes I do still watch him, but please don’t tell him that.
Now that we’ve all had over a week to obsess about and fully process the latest Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA,” I think we can all look at her performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards with a bit more clarity. There’s a method to this pop star’s “madness” and if we’ve learned anything at all, it’s that Americans have an often unhealthy obsession with celebrities. We build them up, only to tear them down and “We can’t stop. And we won’t stop.” So here are my thoughts on “MileyGate” and the twerking Teddy Bear tongue that rocked a nation!
1. What’s the big deal? If anything, she just proved to be a true American. Nothing screams USA like half-naked pop stars dancing like skanks.
2. Crazy hair, rubbing your body on strangers and being surrounded by furry stuff, it’s all just a recycled version of a late 80′s/early 90′s “club kid.” Watch the movie, Party Monster for more info.
3. She has single-handedly revived the foam finger industry.
4. I think we can all agree that Billy Ray Cyrus and his mulleted “Achy Breaky
5. At least now that Miley has started twerking, the twerking movement is officially dead. The former Disney star successfully took any cool away from what I’ve heard was once a pretty happening dance in the hip hop community.
6. Miley’s performance confirmed what we’ve long assumed, Teddy Bears are easily influenced dopeheads. That explains years of what appears to be Acid/LSD-induced “Care Bear Stares” AND bears allowing others to decide their fate via Build A Bear stores.
7. For one whole week, Miley made us forget about the Kardashians. You should really be thanking her.
8. Her performance proved that young women are already or may soon be embracing the nude granny panties of the past.
9. Maybe now parents will be more thoughtful when naming their children. Dr. Miley? Detective Miley? Mother Miley? Nope. With a name like Miley, this was all inevitable.
10. People who are thrilled about Miley’s performance: Lindsay Lohan, President Obama and all those racist cast members on this season’s, “Big Brother.” She took the heat off of them. So if you think about it, she took one for the team.
11. It’s not Miley’s fault, she’s at that age where she’s attracted to weird things – like Robin Thicke’s Beetlejuice
13. At least she isn’t pulling an Amanda Bynes Twitter-tyrade
14. Come on guys! It was just one weird performance. She’s not evil. It’s not like she’s high fructose corn syrup or Chris Brown.
15. Miley’s performance proved that just because a gal has a VPL (Visible Panty Line), that doesn’t mean that she should hide it. Thongs aren’t for everyone…unless you’re Lady Gaga and then they are worn as pants.
16. Maybe now people will stop referring to Hannah Montana as an actual person. She was a fictional character on a Disney television show. That character may live on in your hearts, but she’s about as real as my nose, Snooki’s teeth and JWoww’s boobs…all of which are fake by the way.
17. I’ve seen people posting comments on YouTube like, “Poor Robin Thicke. He’s married.” Umm…watch the video. He seems to be willingly grinding right along behind Miley. It takes to two to make the twerk go right. It takes two to make the twerk out of sight.
18. Fact: Miley is actually wearing similar and/or more clothing than almost all of the women in Robin Thicke’s actual “Blurred Lines” music video. Robin also looks pretty comfortable getting rather close in proximity to these women as well.
Check it out:
19. This “controversy” is a tale as old as time and a song as old as rhyme – Remember Britney Spears’ memorable “comeback” at the VMAs, Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “Boobiegate,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” VMA stage humping or Cher’s “Turn Back Time” video? All were controversial at their time and are now just laughable.
Now let’s all just get over it! Miley should never be held to the standard of role model. She’s just another little girl whose parents sold her to Hollywood at a very young age and now as a young adult, she’s trying to find her identity on television while wearing her underpants.
And if you are one of the .5 Americans who have not yet seen Miley Cyrus ‘s performance, here it is…
Enjoy it or hate it, either way, she’s making more money than all of us and that is the true crime in all of this.
After realizing all that my mom has done for me and watching my childhood friends raise children, I think moms are amazing! Any being that can give up their body for 9 + months and then spend hours and sometimes days in labor (aka the most painful human experience) so that this new person whom they’ve never met can have a fresh shot at this thing called life, is pretty remarkable. But after the labor and birth, that’s when the fun begins, right? Every time I see my friends with newborn babies their eyes are saying, “Please help us! We haven’t been closed in six weeks,” but their mouths say, “I’m loving every minute of being a mom.” I just don’t know if I could do it, unless of course, as I stated above, my hoard of babies slept A LOT. I believe that sleep is a precious gift and the only time I want to be awaken from my REM is if someone has made delicious blueberry muffins and wants me to, “get em while they’re hot” or if Leonardo DiCaprio (circa 2000), decides he’s dated enough Victoria Secret models and is ready to get serious with a pale girl who has a mood disorder. It is then and only then, when it is suitable to wake me up.
From what I have witnessed, being a mom changes everything. Once a child enters your life, your world completely changes. You have to learn news things like “what’s a Boppy?” and “Holy sh*t daycare is expensive!” When my best friend Desiree became pregnant, she was ecstatic. I was too. Having been best friends with Desiree for 23 years, this was not only her chance to be a first time mom, but for me, it was my first chance to be an auntie (honorary, but it still counts). Her nine month pregnancy seemed to fly by…for me. Once Michael was born, I knew Desiree would be a good mom, but from what I’ve witnessed in the last year, I think she may be a superhero. Supermom to be exact! She’s able to leap tall baby gates in a single bound. She’s faster than a newly walking one-year-old headed straight for the stairs and is more powerful than a Volkswagen Jetta full of groceries. She’s able to breast feed and order a pizza while checking her work email. She’s SUPERMOM! Playdates have replaced happy hours and yoga pants are her Kryptonite.
I love seeing my best friend as a mom; however, never would I have guessed that she would be doing some of the “mom things” she does. Desiree has always been the pretty one in our best friendship. Growing up she was a girly girl. The one who didn’t like to sweat or get dirty. She always looked perfect. When we were 12 years old, we played on the Parkway Panthers softball team together. Desiree played because her friends played and I played for the W. I played as if there were scouts in the stands just waiting to sign the next great prepubescent girl to the Olympic slow pitch softball team (which only existed in my head). I recently came across a picture of the two of us from that time that sums us up perfectly. We had just played in an all day softball tournament, I was a sweaty beast. My face was flushed red and covered in sweat. My hair appeared soaking wet and most of it stuck to my face. I have dirt on my cheek, but I’m smiling with a mouth full of metal.
[On a side note, kids wear your retainers because it's no fun Googling the cost of adult braces at 33 years old because you decided to try and eat a Snickers candy bar while wearing your retainer (only a few weeks after getting your braces off) and it cracked in half. Then instead of going back to the orthodontist to get a new retainer, you just threw it away. Then every time your mom asked, "Where's your retainer?" You'd put a flattened a paperclip over your front teeth and reply, "In my mouth."]
So next to me in this picture sat Desiree. She appeared as though she had been sitting in an air conditioned trailer on a Hollywood movie set for the entire day. Her hair was perfect as her baseball cap sat just above her teased bangs as not to destroy the mountain that Aqua Net built. Her skin was clear and dry. Not even a glisten of sweat as she smiled with lips glossed and a twinkle in her eye. You would have never known that she spent most of the day playing second base. Well, sort of. She caught the balls she felt like catching and occasionally ran to cover her base when the mood felt right. If she got dirt on her pants, she’d quickly brush it off and never, ever would she consider sliding for fear that it would ruin her pristine uniform. All of these reasons are why I was astounded during a walk with her and her 1-year-old son, Michael.
That morning before I met up with Desiree and Michael, I was thinking a lot about mommy-hood. Since the first time I saw Michael, my heart melted. I thought to myself for the first time, “I want one!” I smiled as I walked towards her car and saw his bright four-toothed grin. Then a wave of baby fever swept over me. As we walked around Lake Phalen. A lake we grew up near and spent our high school afternoons driving around it with our car windows open and our music loud. But this walk was different. We were real adults now. Desiree was a mom now and I was the best friend of an actual mom. It all felt surreal yet natural.
Midway through our walk, Michael became fussy so we pulled over on the walking path and stopped. Like a ninja, Desiree pulled her weapons of mass crying destruction from different areas of the stroller she pushed him around in. Blankets, sippy cups, water, bananas, diapers, wet-wipes, toys, books, dry cereal and mandarin oranges. She sat Michael on a blanket surrounded by all of these goodies and we watched as he made his way through deciding which he would choose. Desiree pealed a mandarin orange and handed him a small piece. Having a slight cold at the time, snot ran down his face and into his mouth as he sucked all of the juice from the orange slice. Then he spit it into Desiree’s open hand. Without even a second thought, she then popped the remaining soggy, snotted-on orange slice into her mouth and swallowed it. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. “You know you could have just thrown that away or fed it to the ducks. You didn’t have to eat it after he sucked the life out of it” I said to her as she handed Michael another piece of orange. “Oh it’s fine. His germs are my germs. You’ll understand when you’re a mom,” she said as she again popped another spit and snot soaked orange into her mouth.
And it was at that moment when I realized, I am far from ready to be a mom. That job is beyond my current qualifications.
I was recently asked to write a short description of myself. Not for a dating site because I assume that all of the guys on dating websites are just looking for the next human head to add to his collection. Instead, I was working on updating my comedy bio after a club owner asked for my most updated bio. After he asked, I immediately realized, I haven’t updated my bio in over year. I always struggle when writing my comedy bio. It seems so insincere and awkward to talk about myself in the third person and try to embellish my comedy “accomplishments” in order to appear successful and hirable. Plus, I’ve been told that I share too much personal information on social networking sites and that’s the last thing you want to do in a comedy bio.
Your bio should be professional and paint you in the best light possible, but as I was working on writing it, I realized that this may be a better article for my column than a comedy bio. You’ll see why as you read on. So enjoy my “bio” and lack of shame for over-sharing on the World Wide Web.
I come from a family of addicts…not everyone, but enough for it to be noted. Most are functioning, some are not. I quit drinking for that reason and because I blacked-out and peed my bridesmaid dress at the age of 32.
I have a mood disorder and anxiety and it comes out in the form of OCD and crying.
I believe I can be great someday even though I know that logically, the odds are against me.
I fear I will never be truly happy.
I’m motivated by deadlines and accolades. I enjoy being the center of attention when I’m in control…like when I’m on stage, but get extremely anxious after shows if people want to talk to me or when I’m in a social situation where I have to meet new people or “small talk.” I’d rather be home with my boyfriend watching Netflix or writing.
I tend to date younger guys who make less money than me and have no interest in settling down. I think this is because subconsciously, I’m not ready to grow up.
I’m a bed hog and I love french fried “potaters.”
I’m conscious of my looks and want to be attractive, but am plagued by a crooked smile, no pigmentation of the skin, a deep belly button, an average body, a small hump on my neck and a large port-wine stain birthmark on my back. I’m modest in how I dress despite the fact that my mom encourages me to “show it while you got it.” I change my hair a lot because to me, it’s just hair.
I want everyone to like me, but get mad when they do because that means that I’ve compromised who I really am.
I judge things before I like them. And I rely on my mom too much for emotional support.
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love it when it’s honest and hate it when it’s cryptic.
I like going to therapy…it’s a hobby of mine and I am not ashamed to admit that I am on medication. Instead of telling people that I have bipolar 2, I like to say that I’m The Bipolar Bear. It just softens the harsh bipolar title that seems to have such a negative stigma. Most people define it as being “crazy,” when in reality, most artists past and present are/were bipolar. It’s the mania that can inspire great creativity and also great despair. I identify with brown/black bears because they put weight on for the winter and frighten most people by their honesty. If they don’t like you, you’ll know it in the form of becoming their dinner. They aren’t afraid to defend themselves when someone appears to be a threat and they react on instinct. However; saying that I am The Bipolar Bear is far easier because everyone loves polar bears. They drink Coca-Cola during Christmas and when they slip on the ice and fall into the arctic water, it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. They have a train named after them and they are white so they don’t scare most of America.
The greatest high I’ve ever felt is getting on a stage and making people laugh. The lowest low I’ve ever felt is whenever I’ve been the cause of someone else’s pain.
I often find that I have some of my best conversations with animals…mainly cats, but feel that I am unjustly labeled a “cat lady.” I only have one. I don’t like them all. I’ve met a few asshole cats along the way.
One of my biggest fears as I get older is that I’ll miss my opportunity to be a mom, but I know that I’m too selfish and self-absorbed to be a good mom right now and that may never change, which will prevent me from ever procreating.
I have no emotional attachments to objects and enjoy throwing things away and starting over. I once tried to throw my old yearbooks away and then my mom dug them out of the trash. Apparently, someday I’ll want to look back and remember that I used to have a big nose that caused me to get teased a lot, but also helped me to develop a quick wit and be voted, “Most Blunt.” As one friend explained, “Joleen, sometimes you have a dagger for a tongue.”
I hope to live in San Francisco one day. They have amazing bread pudding there and I like fog and weather where I can wear a light jacket.
I like getting pedicures because it’s the only place where my extremely vampire-like pale skin is appreciated. The Vietnamese women at the salon I frequent run over at each visit and take turns touching my legs and telling me how beautiful my skin is and how lucky I am to be so pale. In the tan-obsessed culture of the US, most people just look at my skin in disgust and say things like, “Your skin is so white. Have you ever tried getting a tan?” They say this as if it’s a novel idea. As if they have opened my eyes to something I’ve never thought of. Why thank you random lady at Kohl’s, I will definitely take advice on how to treat my skin from someone with premature facial wrinkles and the outline of a Playboy bunny sticker on her stomach so that she can gauge how awesomely bronzed she is getting in the tanning bed. Therefore, one day I may live in Vietnam as well.
Well, that’s about it. Go forward all of you and embrace your truth! Do all the stereotypical things the signs they sell at Kohl’s advise us to do. Dance like nobody’s watching! Love like you’ve never been hurt! And Get divorced like it’s your first time!
Up until I was lifted out of my mother via C-section, I was supposed to be a boy.
My name was to be Joseph Paul Lunzer. Paul after my dad’s first name and Joseph after his middle name. So clearly my dad was thrilled to be having a son. A son just made sense to a guy like my dad, who is the definition of a Midwestern “guy’s guy.” He built himself a man-cave in the basement of his home equipped with a bar (stocked full of whiskey, vodka, bourbon and a “fine” Arbor Hill Mrs. Brahm’s Very Blueberry Wine that he purchased one Christmas to add a touch of class; however, I just don’t think my family was ready for that much class in a glass). My dad’s man-cave also has a tiny bathroom with just a toilet so that he is freed from the social pressures of putting down the toilet seat and washing his hands. My dad believes that fancy couches consist of two reclining seats connected together by storage-type unit in the middle that holds his sacred remote control, a half-eaten bag of chips and empty peanut shells. And let us not forget the importance of cup holders on said fancy couch. Without cup holders my dad would be expected to actually hold his beverage…with his own hands!
Mounted on the walls of his man-cave are several award-winning fish he caught in various Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canadian lakes. These prized fish hang upon the walls with their mouths open and shock in their eyes. As if their last thoughts were, “Damn! I promised myself that I wouldn’t fall for that minnow on a hook again.” My dad has an array of plastered and molded dead Walleye, Bass and Northern fish for all of his friends to marvel at when they visit. “That’s a nice looking bass you got there, Paul.” Once his friend Hokey had a few too many shots of whiskey and forgot to pronounce the B in bass while giving my dad this compliment, which I think only made their friendship stronger. My dad’s just the kind of guy who only has friends named Hokey, Corky, The Old Indian Guide and Peterson. In the Midwest there’s always a Peterson.
So on that cold day in February of 1980 while waiting for his son’s arrival, my dad sat with my mom while she powered through contractions with no epidural. Instead she chose to play the songs of Diana Ross and The Supremes in her hospital room to get her through the pain. Several hours into her labor, the doctor made the announcement that I had gone breech, which was the first indication of my stubborn nature. When I could have easily rewarded my mother for her hours of hard labor by finally exiting her body, I chose to instead do somersaults in her belly as I attempted to come out butt first. Because of this, they rushed my mother into the operating room for an emergency C-section. My mom was pretty doped up during the surgical procedure, which she remembers fondly. “That was one of the best highs ever.” So when then the doctor lifted me up and announced, “It’s a girl!” My dad was the first to hold me. “Are you sure it’s a girl?” I imagine he asked over and over and over again. But there I was in all my female glory. The scariest thing my dad had ever seen, a baby girl whom he had no idea what to do with.
After the initial shock wore off, my dad devised a plan to raise me as if I were born a boy. He taught me how to fight, spit, successfully slide into third base, play hockey and do push-ups. “Not the girly way,” he’d say as I did push-ups for allowance. I could even do one-handed push-ups and the kind where you clap your hands together on the way up. I was the only 10-year-old girl at my elementary school with biceps. I dominated the presidential physical fitness tests and could flex arm hang until the dismissal bell rang. My dad couldn’t have been prouder of his daught-son creation.
However, once I turned 14, an even bigger fear of his came knocking, boys. Not many boys, but a few and his advice on dating was more terrifying than helpful. “Remember Jo, if one of these guys gets too close, just count down the buttons on his shirt. One, two, three buttons down and then BAM! Hit him in his chest. It’ll knock the wind right out of him.” And then once I started high school he’d say things like, “Sure you can have sex in high school, but then you’ll be forced to move to an island far away with the rest of the people who have leprosy.” What? I didn’t even know what leprosy was until I looked it up in the set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s that my dad purchased as a gift to the family in 1990. For those unfamiliar with an Encyclopedia Britannica, it was the paper predecessor to Google. They were giant books you’d open and look stuff up in. If it wasn’t in the EB, it didn’t exist.
I was an emotional teen girl going through drama and he had few solutions to my problems besides, “Just punch ‘em in the face, but never throw the first punch,” or “Calm down. It’s not like it’s the second coming of Christ.” He said this after coming home from work only to find me in a fit of hysterics on the floor after my first “love” had broken up with me. However, my father’s piece de resistance was what he said when I came home crying (again) after being picked on by two 14-year-old boys at the local rec center. “Dad, they kept saying ‘you’re ugly’ and pointing at me in front of everyone. Why do I have to be so ugly?”
My dad just looked at me confused. Rather than advising me to knock the wind out of them, he said, “What are you talking about Jo? You got such a strong neck.” I didn’t know what to say. A strong neck!?! That is not what a ninth grade girl wants to hear about her body. Then he cupped his hand around the back of my neck and looked at me with sincerity in his eyes. “And you got that strong Lunzer chin,” which only meant that there were more chins coming.
The boys who called me ugly didn’t stop once I informed them of the beauty of my “strong neck.” Instead they said I had a hump on my back and laughed in my face, but I never told my dad. Instead I kept him happy by continuing my push-up regime and prepping for my “one, two, three buttons down” moment. It made my dad proud to instill a physical strength in me and I didn’t want to let him down. I was reminded of this on Father’s Day when I inadvertently gave my dad the best present ever, I carried a one-hundred pound rock from my brother’s backyard to the backseat of his Nissan Sentra that was parked in the driveway. “You’ve still got it,” he said with a huge smile on his face.
“Are you mad at me?” is one of the most common questions that couples ask one another. This classic question dates back to Prehistoric times. It was first uttered by a Tyrannosaurus Rex when he was afraid that his Brontosaurus wife was upset with him.
Of course he didn’t ask this question out loud and in English; that would be ridiculous. He wrote it with a rock on the wall of their love cave, which was later found by the Romans and translated by Marie Antoinette before she died of a red velvet cupcake overdose. And that ladies and gentleman, is your history and science lesson for the day.
As you can tell, history and science are not my strong suits. Sure, I took both classes at the prestigious University of Wisconsin…River Falls, but at that time, I had undiagnosed ADD and spent most classes feverishly shaking my leg under my desk, thinking about the scrapbooks I would never finish, doodling in my notebook in a desperate attempt to finally master the art of drawing a successful 3D cube and being distracted by a classmate whom I had a crush on.
I liked staring at his feet. He wore Converse tennis shoes and tied his shoe laces around his ankles. At the time, I thought his shoe lace placement was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I imagined that he did this in order to rebel against an oppressive world led by Fred Rogers and his “Neighborhood” – a world of obsessive compulsive patterns that conditioned us to believe that we could only feel whole if upon entering our homes each day, we sang a song begging people to be our neighbors while putting on a cardigan sweater and the same pair of blue tennis shoes that we tied the “right way.”
From the ankles down, he was living off the grid and raging against a machine of societal norms that were forced upon children of the 70′s and 80′s by public television. His rebellious nature and passion for being the change he wanted to see in the world, was intoxicating.
Sadly, ten years later, this passion is gone. From the looks of his Facebook page, he’s given up the fight. He’s married now. Everyone’s married. And in holy matrimony one must tie his or her shoes the “right way.”
I often wonder why we ask a question we already know the answer to. If you have to ask a person if they are mad at you, they most likely are. This question is most commonly asked during a disagreement, after you’ve said something inconsiderate or after you are caught cyberstalking the boy you had a crush on in college.
This question is never asked during a picnic in the park on a sunny spring day while the two of you blissfully ponder the names of your future children. Instead it’s asked while sitting in a 98 Honda Civic in the drive-thru line at Arby’s after he’s given you the silent treatment for the past 5 miles because you woke him up at five in the morning to express how hurt you are that he gave you the “Way to have no self-control, fatty” look after you finished an entire pizookie during dinner.
You then wouldn’t let him go back to sleep until he assured you that the giant cookie skillet you inhaled in less than two minutes was actually quite small and that it was probably only 100 calories since you saved a corner piece for him. Sure, he didn’t eat that piece, you did, but the offer was given.
Then you locked yourself in the bathroom and cried until he demanded you open the door or he was leaving forever. In this case, there is no reason to ask, “Are you mad at me?” It’s safe to assume that he is.
His silence speaks volumes and the fact that six hours later you are now in line at Arby’s is definitely a sign that you are both eating your feelings.
So in the spirit of my once rebellious and progressive college crush, I am going to attempt NOT to ask such an obvious question in my relationship.
Instead I will assume that he is definitely mad when I make him an hour late to every function we attend due to my procrastination and the fact that I still believe that I can “be ready in five minutes.”
In lieu of asking this question, I will apologize, promise to work on my lack of time perception and offer to buy him Arby’s.
It’s a difficult transition in a woman’s life when she graduates to the “Misses” clothing section of department stores.
It’s hard to resist the temptation of the Juniors section, which resembles the best party you’ve never been invited to. The bright lights, the rainbow of colors, the upbeat music and the glitter on the floor can be intoxicating to the eyes.
I once thought I was having a seizure, but then realized I was just in the dressing room of the Juniors section at Macy’s.
When you graduate to the Misses section, you realize that it has a different feel. No longer are you greeted by pictures of fresh-faced young women who appear to be having the best day of their entire lives simply by wearing leggings as pants and a see-thru blouse while jumping into the air.
Instead, the Misses section feels more like you are now a member of the book club, “Lonely Literate Ladies of the Library Who Embrace Lace and the Occasional Lower Leaking.”
You walk through a maze of aisles littered with embroidered holiday sweatshirts, turtlenecks and cap-sleeved shirts in putrid colors like mint, taupe, off-white and mother of pearl. The only music you can hear is the faint sound of Edwain McCain singing, “I’ll be Your Crying Shoulder,” which is playing on repeat as you slowly digest your new reality.
You search and search for something “fun” to wear to your girl’s night out, which now starts at 4 pm on a Saturday and consists of a “party” at a friend’s house who is trying to sell you crappy candles that never burn out, over-priced purses that resemble diaper bags (but you can get your initials embroidered on them for only $30 extra) and over-priced costume jewelry made by some chick named, “Lia Sophia,” who I am convinced was that girl in high school who told me that my Gap sweatshirt was “so two years ago.”
Sadly, it’s inevitable that every lady must eventually embrace the Misses section. There comes a time when we must get over the delusion that we can walk into a Wet Seal or Forever 21 store and NOT get the stink eye from every young sales associate who has figured out that a small waist is more celebrated than intellect in our society.
We should no longer be shocked when we enter these stores and are immediately asked, “Are you looking for something for your daughter?” I, of course, say all of this out of righteous jealousy.
I realize that this can be an overwhelming and confusing process so I’m here to help.
Below, I’ve devised a list of when you know it’s time to venture on over to the Misses section:
1) You are trying on the same outfit as your granddaughter.
2) You have a granddaughter.
3) You’ve used a rotary phone in your lifetime.
4) You have ever uttered the words, “It’s too loud in here.”
5) You eat yogurt for the probiotics, which was recommended to you by your doctor after your recent colonoscopy.
6) You listen to NPR…even on the weekends.
7) You no longer ask for an STD test when at your annual lady appointment.
8) You have conversations with your friends that begin with, “Broccoli makes me gassy.”
9) You remember Reaganomics.
10) Your husband was in WW1.
Good luck! It’s an unjust world out there. However, we can change it. In order to do so, we must band together and redefine beauty in our society. We should demand that women over the age of 30 are treated equally and have the right to be sold attractive clothing.
We should occupy the aisles of every department store until age is deemed more beautiful than youth. We should…well, let’s be honest, we’re all too invested in “The Real Housewives” to find time for any of that. The new season of Orange County just started and Vicki has a new chin!
A video from the author…
I have learned that there is safety in numbers.
And it’s not just safety from abductors and those scary mall kiosk sales people, but most importantly social safety. Social safety is crucial when hanging out with a group of females. You NEVER want to be the one who strays from the group…even for a second.
If you’re out and have to use the restroom, you bring one or all. Increasing the number of people you bring along with you, lowers your chances of them talking behind your back once you’re gone.
And more often than not, that conversation will be negative. One of two scenarios will play out if you should decide to lone ranger it away from the group.
1) (Best case scenario) The group won’t mention you at all. They will merely watch you walk away and then make some silent judgment about you.
2) They will immediately begin negatively talking about you.
I was reminded of this female phenomenon while at the Mall of America last Tuesday night. I was walking parallel, but a little behind four women who appeared to be in their early 20’s. I kept a bit of distance between myself and them in order to secretly observe them.
They were laughing loudly and would occasionally give other females walking past full body scans with their eyes. As they judged those in front of them, I was judging them from the side. I kept following them. I wasn’t particularly proud to be stalking a group of cackling young women who I assumed were on their way to Wet Seal, but I had already committed and there seemed to be no going back.
Stalking them took me back to when I was in my early 20’s. I hated that time in my life because I was what can best be described as – the worst. I was an insecure mess who projected those feelings onto those around me. I was an awkward, emotional, gossipy know-it-all who drank too much. When I think back to those years, the Tegan and Sara song, “You wouldn’t like me” comes to mind.
Had my life been a television show at that time, the opening credits would have been me walking down the street sobbing while the song played:
“There’s a war inside of me
Do I cause new heartbreak to write a new broken song
Do I push it down or let it run me right into the wind
And I- I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me
Well I can’t stop talking for fear of listening to unwelcome sound
And you haven’t called me in weeks and honestly it’s bringing me down
Oh I- I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me
I- I feel like you wouldn’t like me if you met me.”
When the group stopped and sat at a table in the food court, I sat at the table next to them. I looked down at my phone in attempt to hide the fact that I was eavesdropping. One of the girls strayed from the pack and into the Chipotle. It took only a few seconds for them to begin talking about her.
“Can we just for a second talk about how Emma can’t go to Vegas because she can’t seem to get her sh*t together,” stated the tallest, blondest and tannest of the group.
Based on her stature and initiation of the trash-talking, I quickly came to the conclusion that she was the leader. The other girls nodded their heads in agreement and responded with, “I know. She’s a mess.” The leader continued, “I mean one DUI is normal, but two? That’s just gross.”
Her minions again agreed. I felt like I was watching an episode of MTV’s Daria. It was as if I was watching the real life characters of Quinn, Tiffany and infamous, Sandi bad-mouth Stacey, their “friend” and fellow Fashion Club member.
“And now she’s eating again!?! That’s the last thing she should be doing.”
The girls again agreed with the leader as I texted myself their conversation. I justified my spying by telling myself that I was simply doing research for work. I needed to observe, judge, record and then write in my column about what I had just heard. It was my comedic duty.
As soon as Emma returned to the table, the girls invited her back into the group and continued on as if nothing was ever said.
“Your burrito bowl smells delicious,” the leader said as they watched Emma eat.
I would like to think that as we grow older, women grow out of this behavior, but we don’t. As we age, we just become better at it. It becomes an art form. A ballet of words as we dance across the stage of passive aggressive perfection. As we get older we aren’t as blunt or obvious.
Before we say anything, we begin with a seemingly nice introductory phrase such as, “I’m not judging her, but” and “I’m only saying this out of love” or my favorite, “I’m not trying to be mean, but.” Whenever a sentence begins with any of these phrases, you can be sure that something negative or mean is about to follow.
I was recently in a group of women in their 40’s and 50’s who began talking about a “friend” once she left the room. As soon as the door closed, one of the women said, “I’m not trying to be mean, but her butt looks like it’s eating her pants. She just needs to wear clothes that suit her body.”
Translation: She’s fat. I’m not as fat. And calling her out for looking fat makes me feel better about crushing an entire bag of sour cream and onion chips while watching “The Bachelor” last night.
I wish I could tell you that I stood up and said, “That’s not nice! She’s your friend. You should be ashamed of yourself for saying such an awful thing,” but I didn’t. I just sat there and uncomfortably smiled. These women are older and I haven’t had the best track record with older chicks. And there is only one person to blame for this – Beth and her “pool.”
It was the summer of 1992. I was 12 years old and a member of the Parkway Angels softball team. I was the youngest player on the team. All of the other girls were two to three years older than me. I desperately wanted to fit in with them. The oldest, coolest and tannest of the group, Beth walked over to me after our last game of the season.
Everyone was in a good mood because we had just beat the Panthers. The Panthers were the number one team in our three team league. The Angels and the Panthers had a long-standing rivalry that dated all the way back to 1990. The third team in our league – The Hornets lost every game. If you were picked to be on the Hornets, you cried and then tried to fake mono so that you could sit out until the next draft.
As Beth walked toward me, the rest of the girls followed. She asked me if I wanted to play a “really fun game” with her. She had ignored me all season and now she was talking to me. I couldn’t believe it. So of course I agreed to play the game. She asked me to hold out my hand with my palm facing up.
She then said, “This is your house” as she outlined a box on my palm with her finger. She then asked a series of questions like where I would like my kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. With my free hand, I pointed to where within the box I would like all these rooms to be.
She used her finger to outline small circles for each imaginary room. Finally she asked, “Where would you like your swimming pool?” I paused and then pointed to the back of the imaginary house that she built on my hand. She smiled at me. I still couldn’t believe she was talking to me and now she was smiling. Be still my wannabe popular heart!
I smiled back and that’s when she spit on the spot where my imaginary pool was supposed to go. And it wasn’t just girl spit. It was softball player spit. Thick, nasty and from her nasal cavity. Beth and the other girls laughed and then walked away as I stood there alone with the most popular girl’s spit on my hand. It’s a moment I will never forget and one that shaped the way I interact with “the older girls.”
When the “butt-eating her pants” woman returned, the group welcomed her back as if nothing had happened. Feeling uncomfortable, I sat on my hands for protection. The conversation switched to a “friend” of theirs who was having an affair with a married man. I continued to smile and was the last one to leave the group that night.
“I just finished reading War and Peace.”
There are so many joys when working in an office. Each day I am joined by a cast of cubicle characters who bring their own “charm” to the workplace. From Leslie (The Loud Talker) who develops an inner ear issue every time she puts on her headset and joins a conference call… to Brian (The Bore) who takes every opportunity to stand at my desk and tell me stories. Stories that always begin with, “To make a long story short,” but these stories are never short. Instead he insists that I let him “Start from the beginning.” Explaining to me why the Vikings lost in the Wild-Card round of the NFL playoffs shouldn’t take 45 minutes and include anecdotes from his dysfunctional childhood.
“My dad used to throw rocks at kids walking past our house and when the kids would stop and ask, ‘Who’s throwing rocks at us?’ He’d point at me and then run inside and lock the door. Then he’d crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and watch from the kitchen window as they beat me up.”
Wow, that’s great Brian, but in lieu of boring me, you should utilize our company’s wonderful mental health benefits and share your “stories” with a trained professional who can diagnose and medicate for a $25 copay.
Often times a trip to the restroom is the only place where I get go and get away. I think of it as a sacred place where I am safe. It’s a wonderful place far away from my desk where no one will scream into a telephone headset or talk to me until I too feel abused. Lately; however, I have noticed that this sacred place is being abused. People have apparently forgotten that there are rules and etiquette when it comes to using a public restroom. And when these rules are broken, it disrupts natural law and causes great harm to all who venture onto its porcelain thrones.
Below is a list of the most common crimes that are committed against the public restroom. Please review this list carefully to make sure that you are not a guilty of such crimes against nature.
- When there are a plethora of empty stalls available, do not use the one right next to me. When in the restroom, space is very important. Maybe you think you are flattering the person next to you by choosing to sit so close when so many other options are available, but you are not. Instead you are equivalent to the random person on the plane who thinks, “I’m sure this stranger sitting next to me would love to hear all about my career as a traveling meat salesman.” No, we would not. Please be kind and rewind it back a few stalls.
- Turn around and see if you’ve left anything behind. It’s a horrible feeling when you gleefully walk into a stall only to find that its previous occupant has left behind traces of their DNA. This isn’t Law & Order. No one wants to have to investigate in order to find out which “lady” has left doo doo residue at the scene of the crime.
- In addition to what I’ve listed in number two. Yes, I said number two. Always flush. This is by far the most important thing to do before exiting the stall. Even if you think the toilet you have just used is one of those magical ones that can indicate when you are finished and flush itself. Even the automatic-flush toilets have a manual option. If you are having trouble finding it, call a friend, family member, the non-emergency police line for your county, the manufacturer of the toilet or your husband’s friend, “Jim the Plumber.” Whatever you do, don’t leave until the toilet is flushed and then flush again to prevent any clues that you were ever there. Heed my warning or you may be the recipient of a punishment that includes another restroom occupant rubbing your nose in the toilet bowl while pointing at you and saying, “No! Bad human! Very bad human.”
- The public restroom is not a place to stand around and commiserate with Pam in Accounting about how Alexis in Tech Support hurt her feelings after she forgot to include her on the “FREE DONUTS in the kitchen” email. We are all in there for personal, private business. Having to hear you talking only ruins what should be a shameful yet Zen experience for everyone involved. If you want to complain, chat, gossip or cry with a fellow co-worker, start smoking cigarettes. Then head outside (at least 100,000 feet from any building, person, grass, car, baby, sidewalk or street) and talk until your lungs fall out.
- Courtesy Flush. No one in the restroom wants to hear you. None of us are fans of a one person marching band. A courtesy flush can also eliminate odor. You can be green-friendly all you want in the privacy of your own home, but when it comes to the public restroom, flush away!
- Absolutely no phone calls in the restroom. What kind of person takes a phone call while on the potty? I’ll tell you who – the same person who takes phone calls and ignores the cashier while checking out at the grocery store or gas station. The same person who thinks it’s perfectly okay to walk around the holy land, Target, while on the phone discussing her husband’s alleged affair. If you do not respect people while they are at their place of worship, you’re probably not respecting the covenant of marriage and now your husband’s infidelities make sense. If you must use the phone in a public place, find a corner, hunch down very low, put your head between your legs and whisper to the person on the other end, “I don’t want to be the worst person in the world so I’ll have call you back.”
- Wash your hands. Just because you have chosen to live a disgusting lifestyle, does not mean the rest of us should suffer. You are the reason people have resorted to putting a handful of paper towels between themselves and the door handle. You are also to blame for the woman who thinks that flushing the toilet with her foot, is perfectly acceptable behavior. It’s just soap and water. It doesn’t hurt. Many of you are married, have birthed children or will be paying back student loans long after Medicare kicks in and all of these things are far more painful than merely washing your hands.