Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Year Again? Already? What Did I Miss?

The last of the Christmas pine needles and gift wrap have been swept away, the house is clean, quiet, cold. I am clean, quiet, and wiped out. A new year awaits us, or more likely stares us down. Whether we like it or not, here it comes. No snooze alarms, no re-writes, no calling in sick.



But first, a review of the last. Was it what you expected, what you needed, what you desired? Is it ever? Did a wish come true? Did you keep the receipt? Did you truly wish that you kept the receipt?

Why do we make such a big deal of it? We look back to look forward - did we learn, did we grow? And if we grew, do we now diet? And if we ask too many sappy, introspective questions, are we then told to shush?

As kids playing games, we used to argue fiercely over 'do-overs.' If Icky Arty snapped his gum while you were kicking the ball, you got a ‘do-over.’ If a dog ran in your way in the basepath, you could call 'interference' and get a 'do-over.' Rules regarding the execution of a 'do-over' were strict, complicated, and written by 8-year-olds. But by golly, at least we had them.

Oh, what I'd give for a 'do-over' now. Or at least a slow-motion replay. 2007 was a blur, and not just because my eyesight is going. Blink. Done. As adults we have second chances, second helpings, mulligans, rebirths. None are as pure as that quintessential 'do-over.'

We can learn from kids. Before I was even one day old, I taught my parents quite a bit. Such as:

  • If you're due to give birth at Christmas, don't plan to name the baby 'Holly.' The baby will hear you and intentionally wait another entire month just to avoid that name.
  • If you're due to give birth at Christmas, but your baby isn't born until January, it IS possible to claim the baby on tax forms for the prior year and get away with it. It may not be completely legal, but it can be done. (Sorry, Dad.)
  • If you're absolutely sick of being nearly ten months pregnant, before inducing labor, make sure conditions are good. A blizzard, thirty below zero temperature, and a state of emergency are all very good examples of bad conditions.
  • If you're going to induce labor by shoveling snow in a blizzard, make sure to shovel snow near the hospital. Do not shovel snow at home. There are no epidurals available at home.
  • If you're going to give birth to a child so ornery that she takes ten months to be born but then has the audacity to make her entrance into the world at the most inopportune moment and so quickly that she's born in the elevator of the hospital, make sure to put aside lots of money for therapy.

So there you have it - some good advice with which to start your new year. While the odds are quite low that we'll have to confront a blizzard any time soon around here, I'm sure you've learned something. Yes, you have. You've learned to never argue with someone born in a blizzard, in an elevator, a month late, and in a hurry.

As you watch the ball drop upon the knuckleheads gathered to freeze at midnight in Times Square, be proud that you have the common sense to live in Southern California where you can wear shorts all year round, laugh at the silly frozen New Yorkers on TV, and celebrate New Year's Eve at 9pm Eastern Standard Time. Then go to bed immediately. We have much to do in 2008. And we're fresh out of 'do-overs.'

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Stairway of Misfit Ornaments

The boys were helping me trim the Christmas tree. A special moment, since I was sick of doing it and they were still under the impression it was fun. I worked carefully, since any sudden movement on my part might scare them off, especially if they realized they were actually helping Mom do something 'uncool.'

Then they found it - a creepy ornament. One created and purchased with the intent that yes, this will brighten someone's holiday, only to fail miserably and instead turn all gazers to stone. This particular one was a bulbous purple dinosaur somehow so popular with children. "Mom," my youngest said, "He's only wearing a Santa hat. Where are the rest of his clothes? And why is he looking at me like that?"

Everyone has at least one. Perhaps it was a gift, but it's hideous to the point you 'd like to flatten it with your car but you worry about feeling guilty later. Maybe you paid a lot for it and hope that one year it will suddenly be stunning in a good way. I can tell you that the only way it will ever be truly stunning is if you flatten it with your car.

I didn't have the guts to get rid of my 'gifted misfits' but I couldn't bear to display them either. Nothing like gazing at a beautiful Christmas tree and seeing a haggard, one-eyed Santa with a death wish staring back at you. So I kept them for years, stuffed in the bottom of a box like so many precious yet clunky memories.

My parents had ornaments from the Depression. Dark, worn, and fragile, for years I thought we kids weren't allowed to touch them because you could catch 'depression' from them. Why we put them on our tree I had no idea. Perhaps to appease the gods of depression.

Soon my kids were digging out more oddballs- a headless dog, an angry angel, an overly medicated banjo player, a tired dancing Santa, a teddy bear only Freddy Kruger could love. Silver Bells crooned quietly under the squealing as the boys chased each other through the house with their newly discovered Christmas freaks. They decided all the ghoulishness needed its own place of admiration, a "Creepy Hall of Fame." The pine garland on my spiral staircase became their spot. So much for making it into House & Garden this year.

The line between cheery and creepy is sometimes vague. Santa's supposed to be every kid's best friend - direct contact with THE King of Toys. But he scares the bejeebers out of kids. Same with ornaments - they're supposed to be beautiful and warm your heart. When they quietly turn on you, when all Santa needs is a carving knife to complete his outfit, it's all the more frightening.

Each night as we head upstairs and pass the Creepy Hall of Fame, the Misfit Ornaments stare back at us, waiting for us to close our eyes....that much closer to our dreams.

Keep that weirdo dino-freak away from me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

12 Reasons We Know Santa is a Guy

1. He has one good outfit for special events.

2. He never asks for directions.

3. He has staff. Staff! To hand out toys. Toys!

4. Workshop - puh-lease. He's got a 50" flatscreen and a beer fridge in there.

5. He uses the same lame line over and over again- 'Ho, ho, ho!'

6. When his machismo is threatened, he arm wrestles an elf.

7. Sure, he delivers toys all over the world. Would it kill him to put the trash out before he leaves?

8. He's out gallivanting all night, comes home at dawn and takes a nap.

9. He uses 8 reindeer and a 1905 Waggoneer Sleigh when a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy is more practical.

10. He sees you when you're sleeping (ick).

11. He insists on knowing who's naughty (again, ick).

12. He piddles around for a whole year, crams all his work into one night and ends up looking like a hero.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Horizontal Conifer

As averse as I am to being force-fed Thanksgiving turkey rules, I am adamant about having a really big, really real Christmas tree. I may have to buy water, firewood, and perhaps some day even buy air, but dangitall I gotta have a 15 foot tall pine in the living room every year. Not sure what that has to do with buying water, but I'm feeling rambunctious. Rambunctious enough for a....painful yet somehow endearing flashback:

My grandmother had a fake tree. White with blue ornaments, I secretly giggled that it was a Hanukkah bush. I never said so because she had a nasty left hook. Each year she'd retrieve this faux ode-to-joy from under the house. Since she never took the ornaments off, and since it was a whopping 30 inches tall, all she had to do was whip its trash bag cover off, plunk the thing down in her living room, and say, "Merry freakin' Christmas. Now fetch me some Kichels and rub my feet."

So you see, I, too, had a painful childhood. Like many others, I survive my past by ignoring it most of the year, facing it only at holidays with alcohol. And since I associate fake Christmas trees with the smell of cheap stale cookies and old feet, I compensate by getting a honkin' big Christmas tree and decorating the bejeebers outta the house. Makes sense, no? Doesn't need to, yes?

Getting this monster upright poses a challenge. In past years I've used a chaise lounge and two small boys to catapult it into position. That worked pretty well eventually, however, this year I've had the walls patched and painted. The real challenge? Get that tree up without destroying the house. Yes, the gauntlet, if not the tree, has been raised.

We performed our traditional hunting and killing of the pine at the Christmas tree farm, hauled it home and dragged it into the house, where it suddenly grew taller and heavier. Either that or my living room shrank, which is of course absurd.

"This is fun, Mom," my testosterone-infused ten-year-old said. He had manly gardening gloves on and was ready to 'git 'er done.' We decided to use two ladders and a winch. My youngest was the 'catcher,' holding the tree stand and the water bucket. Also wearing manly gloves.

Smooth sailing, right? Of course not, which is why you're reading this. After much grunting and growling, we got it vertical, but not perfectly vertical. I had to tinker with the stand to get it just right, which was exactly the wrong thing to do, because the tree had had enough and started to tip, slanting ominously over my ten-year-old, who was adjusting his manly gloves and obliviously repeating his fourth chorus of how fun this was. I jumped on him to protect him, giving the tree a shoulder block, which knocked it into the fireplace and couch, smashing a statue. Then I said a bad word, which made this adventure even more manly and fun.

My youngest was missing. I frantically pulled at the tree looking for him, yes, pining for him. Turns out he had retired to the other room to watch Scooby Doo.

By now it was time to take the boys to their dad's house. "Mom," my youngest said as I dropped them off, "Get some help." I assumed he meant physical assistance and not therapy.

After a beer, I 'ladderwalked' the tree into position. Using two ladders side by side, I'd lift the treetop a bit, climb a few steps on one ladder, lift the tree again, then shift to the other ladder, pull the first ladder closer to the tree with one hand or leg while holding the tree up with the other hand, lift the tree again, shift to the other ladder, and so on until the gol-dang tree was up, more or less. Kinda like macrame'. Who came up with this stupid tradition, anyway?

To get it all the way up, I invited my neighbor over to hold the bucket and stand while I tipped it finally into place. "It's not perfectly straight," she said, "Maybe a bit closer to the window....."

Sigh. Next year we're gonna do it without any trips to the emergency room.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lifting Holiday Spirits

But enough about Thanksgiving - on to The Big One. Everyone knows the real reason for the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday is to prepare for Christmas.

The whirring and beeping sound of scissorlifts through our neighborhood signifies the start of the holiday season. Yes, really. Around here people take their Christian retail holiday house-decorating very seriously. So scissorlifts bump and grunt their way up and down our sunny suburban streets, helping happy homeowners cover their pride with swag, taunting other sunny neighbors to bigger, better, brighter. I've seen things that would frighten Christo.

A few even pay someone to come up with themes and designs. Yes, yes, really -they hire a holiday stylist. Some recent themes seem to include the following:

  • Daddy never got me a pony so I'm covering my house with lights to spite him. And next year I get to pick out his nursing home.
  • The brightest house is the happiest house.....dammit. :)
  • Silent Night my ass - wait'll you hear the generator for my inflatables!

I'm considered a bit old-school because I use a ladder and put up my own decorations. A few neighbors have generously suggested that I pay someone to help me with my lights. When they tell me how much it costs, I mention that's about the same amount I give to the local soup kitchen, and that's usually enough to drive them back inside to their glass of Merlot. Ho, ho, ho. Even here in SoCal, it can be so very, very cold.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful Not to Cook

At Thanksgiving my girlfriends fall into two distinct camps - those who cook and those who don't. The Cookers go into lavish detail about what they're making- how big it is, how fearsome it was, and how dead it now is. Then they stop to take a breath and wait for you to pin a medal on them for their efforts.

The Non-cookers are harder to ferret out. They're usually a bit quieter about their intentions- not cooking on Thanksgiving is well, unAmerican. Sure, the oinky guys pig out and watch football. But the women - isn't it a law somewhere that they have to put on an apron and a show? So the Non-cookers lie low, like guinea hens in the fallen leaves, hoping the Cookers won't notice them and cluck their disapproval.

Lately a few have come out of the culinary closet. This take the kind of guts not found in a Butterball. "I'm not cooking this year," one blurted out the other day. "I'm sick of it. I don't even like turkey. And I really don't like it trampled into my carpeting."

Some of us gave her a matched set of understanding glances. "I can't stand my relatives," another whispered. "I don't like having them in my house, judging my cooking and picking apart my life. Last year my nephew hid a drumstick in the recliner. For a month the whole place smelled like the dumpster behind KFC."

We nodded in agreement. "No kidding," another chimed in. "Why is it so bad not to cook? I work my tail off all week. I get a day off, I'm gonna slave away in the kitchen? Not. I'd like to lie on the couch all day, too. I'm gonna order a pizza. Who's with me?"

By now we could feel the icy stares of the Stepford Cookers upon us. Their barnyard chit chat had stopped.Through the haze of thickening gravy and stuffing recipes, they were sizing us up. Finally, though, we didn't care. We were tired, our self respect sucked out like so much gizzard drippings. They could tsk, tsk and pooh-pooh their hearts out - our wishbone had just snapped.

This year, I give thanks that I do not have to stick my hand up the butt of a frozen fowl. I give thanks that I will not stand on my feet all day to prepare a meal that will be consumed or condemned in half an hour. I give thanks that Uncle Bruno will not be here plugging our plumbing, and that my nephew won't be rummaging through my dresser drawer looking for 'fun buzzy toys.'

A true holiday is not a when or a where or a what. It's a who. The meal could be Cheetos and a Tab-get the right people there and bam!- Thanksgiving.

If you need me, I'll be on the couch pretending to watch the game. Really, though, I'll be revelling in the warm glow of my kids. If you don't need me, please join me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tuesday with Barry

It was a dark and snorky night. Most nights, at least the ones I've witnessed, are dark. This one promised to be snorky because I was going to meet Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson at a booksigning in Irvine, CA. The place was packed. I weighted for the crowd to thin, butt it kept getting bigger. Too many Krispy Kremes will do that.

Dave and Ridley read from their latest children's book, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. The bigger secret was how two guys a smidge physically removed from youth could bop all over the country weeks on end reading books, signing books, and somehow maintaining their sanity. And do it well enough to entertain children, the toughest audience ever invented by man. As they read, not a murmur, not a fidget, not even a blink from a single kid. I can't get my two little boys to look at me for ten seconds straight. These two pull off a herd o' third graders stare-athon.

My trusty sidekick, Mad Scientist Weasel, and I waited patiently in the book-signing line, resisting the urge to cut ahead of kids. By definition, youngsters had way more time ahead of them in their little lives that they could afford to spend waiting in line and reading this run-on sentence, but apparently they were not going to move out of our way of their own volition. Snide, snide youth.

When I finally got within earshot of the authors, I whispered in a sultry voice, "I believe there's a brewery around the corner." Dave's pen flickered and stopped. "I hear it's a good one," he replied. Now both Ridley and Dave, as if hearing an angel, paused from their signing. This was risky, since a few taut, well-manicured bookbiddies skulked nearby, alert to my intentions and ready to take me down. Yes, in the shadow of Mouseland, in a children's bookstore, I was plying the authors with amber dreams of ale. And it woulda worked too, if not for the nasty bookbiddies.

But Dave and Ridley did look up, saw our shirts (Dave for President) and brightened for a moment. "Stanley!" Dave yelled, and gave us a hug. Ridley hugged us too, and I set them straight on my name (Dave's been under a bit of stress and suffers occasionally from Tourette's Proper Noun Syndrome). The bookbiddies were about to pounce so I whipped out my signature M&M cookies, which, in times of strife, can double as Ninja throwing stars. The snarling bookstresses backed off long enough for Mad and I to make our escape, but Dave & Ridley tripped over a straggling third-grader and were detained. They had to stay after class and sign huge stacks of books for the Evil Book Queen.

Next door, at the Steelhead Brewery, a solitary booth sat empty, lonely, dry... waiting for someone to laugh, drink, and snork. Evil, evil bookbiddies! May you sleep through the Thanksgiving Sale at Fashion Island and chip a nail on your uber-skankiness.

From our stakeout, it quickly became apparent that our boys were to be taken directly from their bookstore captivity to the airport. Mad Scientist Weasel and I were determined to get them beer. The Brewery wouldn't let us take alcohol outside. Neither would the pizza joint next door. Frustrated, I looked the old Italian pizza maker in the eye, reached deep, and pulled out a wail from within-
"You don't understand - a Pulitzer prize-winning author and his buddy are being held hostage in the bookstore by a bunch of evil fashionistas with perfect nails and matching hair and they're making them sign this huge mountain of books and then they're sending them right to the airport and all they really want is a beeeeeeeeer!!"

It was suddenly quiet in the pizza place. For some reason, people were staring. I knew the next one to blink would lose. Old pizza-dude reached behind him and handed us two Heinekens. He blinked. We left. I think we had him at Pulitzer.

By now Ridley and Dave had completed their bookpile and disappeared. We nervously skittered past the few remaining bookbiddy sentries. Mad and I stood alone with the beer in the dark mall. "Fiddlesticks," I mumbled. "They got away."
In a distant corner, light shimmered off someone's hair, a shiny mop swinging in the light of the mall faux moon. "DAVE," I shrieked daintily, "You er, forgot this." My Heineken was in the air. He stopped, turned, and realized he had left his mace in his other blue shirt.
When I played polo, we had a stellar tradition. Every time a goal was scored, a scorekeeper would raise their hands, like a referee does after a touchdown in football. During one game the scorekeeper was also dogsitting. A goal was scored, and the scorekeeper, not wanting to let go of the dog and possibly lose it, raised the tiny pooch over his head to indicate the goal. Hence was born the classic term, "The chihuahua is in the air!" Chic Hearn, eat your heart out.

Where was I? Oh, yes- Dave and I both looked around for mall security. Not seeing any, he thanked us graciously for our insanity and backed away slowly. Ridley made a note to get his tetanus shot updated and off they went. Until we meet again, sirs.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Strappy Shoes

Ever since I could drive myself to the mall I've been dedicated to shopping. Yes, the wondrous jingle of keys paired with a shiny new driver's license meant freedom in so very many ways. For me, the sweetest one was being free of a mother 'helping' me choose polyester ick/crud at Monkey Wards or Sears. They could be giving away free wardrobes for life in those stores and you still couldn't drag me in there.

Recently I tried to go back into a Sears. I figured after so long I should be over the trauma. But it still smelled of musty plastic and DCon, just like when my mom took me there. My heart started to palpitate, my palms grew damp, and my head spun around. The rest of my body followed my head out the door. For weeks after that I'd flashback to stretchy, striped zipper-necked tops that itched my skin and broke my spirit. Noooooo!

Anyway, ever since my release from polyester hell I've nurtured the art and thrill of the sale. The online purchase is a threefold thrill - buying, getting, and wearing. Sheer heaven. And oh! - the mall prowl where you don't know what you're hunting until you have it in your sights, then bag it and take it home. Sweet.

Sweet to the point of having to reinforce the rack system in my walk-in closet to keep it from collapsing again. Actually it's more of a 'walk-in-and-gasp' closet. Women drool and guys freak. I'm sure you can guess why:
Girlfriend: Oh, my, gawd....I LOVE this!
Boyfriend: many....oh, my, god.

Recently though, I'm embarassed to say, I've lost my edge. Catalogs no longer hold a thrill for me. Online is nice and easy, but it's just not the same as it used to be. The mall is okay, but I'd rather take a nap. A nap.

Is it possible to lose the will to shop? What a horrible thing to consider. I'm hoping it's just a breather between binges, that perhaps with a little more iron or bran in my diet, the spirit will return. But who knows.

Strange but true - about the same time I lost my shopping urge, chocolate also lost its appeal. Yes, that's right, the nectar of the gods was no longer good enough for me. Please help me, Saint Hershey - I know not what I do. And I'm frightened.

In the past, when I'd swing through a phase, certain obsessions would shift and sway but not entirely disappear. For instance, during one pregnancy, all I wanted to eat was salsa and chips. I subbed salsa for chocolate, but still had the craving. When I bought a home, I subbed Home Depot for Nordstrom for a while but still kept that credit card busy. But now, no craving to shop OR snack. What the fudge?

Let me promise you this - I WILL be back. I WILL shop again. I WILL control the urge to capitalize the word 'WILL.' I do not go easily into the dark night without a fight or a coupon or a credit card.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloooo-whee! Fun With Inflatables

The nutty season begins the Christmas decorations begin to appear on store shelves, our neighborhood starts to hum, buzz and wheeze with the sound of inflatables. Local retailers are allowed to schlep the big "C" holiday stuff already, but the mean grinches governing our homeowner association forbid holiday decorations going up no more than 30 days before the holiday. Tsk, tsk, tsk. That puts a crimp in some uber-decorators' plans. Christmas is THE season of tacky suburban over-inflation, but by October, we're just dying to blow something up. Who can wait to inflate?

Hence the Halloween Hollow Hauntings. Some of them worry me a little. I assume a witch has needs, and the thought of free chocolate gets me going too, but...on a mailbox? Can't she find a decent broomstick and take it inside?

So the inflatable Santa is in a holding pattern, but Casper the 20-foot floating white sack with an industrial fan attached to his butt is good to go.

And go he does. One neighbor decided to put two of these Macys' Parade rejects out his 2nd story windows. They look fabulous when fully aloft, and the jet engine whine of their turbo fans drowns out the noise of his kids. All good.

The problem arises when they deflate. Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it look like these old girls could use a lift?

My dilemma - do I:
  1. ask the neighbors why they're surrendering
  2. send an anonymous photo to the local paper and rant about our overly permissive society's habit of allowing 'ghost condoms' in public
  3. sit back and wait for their Nativity display

"The Son Also Rises"

Friday, October 26, 2007

You Might Be In a SoCal Fire Zone If:

So much for rain. Southern California boiled that away faster than Hilton's jailtime. Saturday night the Santa Ana winds hit, knocking trees into power lines and me into a migraine. Welcome to fire season.

Some of it go pretty close. The Nightsky Fire, while a relatively small blaze, didn't look very small when it's sparking its way down toward your own backyard. It nearly came to dinner, skittering around the power lines on the ridge behind our home-

The water-dropping helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft put on quite a show dousing that one. It's one thing to fly in a steady 60mph headwind - quite another to fly slow enough to stall while the wind gusts from 20 to 60 to 20 again. A short while later, I noticed this cloud to the north-
Less than an hour later it looked like this-

It was the Ranch Fire, which has burned over 80,000 acres. About half an hour later, the sun turned dark orange and disappeared. Streetlights were on by 3pm as ash fell softly like snow's ugly sister.

Anyway, by now we're quite sick of it. There's only so long one can tolerate stuff like this before you either go stir crazy or find the humor. So here's to pan-seared soot, seasoned with a hint of saguaro, nestled snugly into the corner of your eye.

You might be in a SoCal Fire Zone if:
  • you can taste the difference between saguaro and manzanita smoke
  • you can tell the difference in color between structure smoke and brush smoke
  • you hear a helicopter and start to worry about a water-drop
  • you hear a helicopter and are thrilled about a water-drop
  • you hear the landscape sprinklers and think it's a water-dropping helicopter
  • you check 'fireline' every morning with your coffee
  • you find soot in the darndest places and that's all I'm sayin' about that
  • you see a beautiful landscape oil painting and think - a cypress tree that close to the house? They are nuts!
  • you go to a local restaurant and ask for a 'non-smoking' table and the waitress rolls her eyes at you
  • you'd be happy if you never taste anything bbq again...or at least for a while
  • you have ever hugged a fireman not just for your own personal pleasure
  • you buy moisturizer by the gallon
  • you apply moisturizer by the gallon
  • you don't have to think about what to pack - it's packed already and will stay packed until mudslide season. Then you add a raincoat and pack it again.
  • the amusement of watching on-the-scene reporters wearing smoke goggles and getting whipped around by the firestorm has worn off
  • you're actually thrilled to see commercials back on tv after days of round-the-clock coverage of that smoky red stuff
  • you wish Katie Couric would just.... leave

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Last night I opened the front door and was greeted with shiny droplets falling gently, steadily from the dark sky. I stared into the wet nothingness for a long time, watching the rain wash months of dust and goo off my world, making everything look and smell so much better. (Of course it was dark and my sense of smell is terrible.) This morning we have that wonderful foggy superdew thingy I've heard some call humidity. You're thinking I should change my meds, right? Big whoop, right?

Here in SoCal, yes. Rain is weather. We boast about having great weather. In reality we rarely have any weather at all. In fact, our weather forecasts are prerecorded. Sure, the weatherpersons do a costume change or two, but basically they're hired for their ability to get you to watch them ten minutes straight while they talk about how tomorrow will be 74 degrees, just like today was, just like yesterday was, etc. They accomplish this by smiling at you without blinking. It would be horribly impolite for you to look away, much less change the channel. They're just time-killers to keep you staring until the next commercial break.

In the off season, SoCal weather-starers make extra money as bug zappers at fancy parties. They chatter and stare in rich people's back yards, attracting bugs and politicians to the light of their bleached teeth. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Elsewhere, rain is weather. Here, rain is news. The threat of rain is news. The possible threat of rain is news. Local tv stations send newsvans all over town looking for puddles for their weatherpersons to stand next to while they tell us about "Stormwatch 2007" or "It Came from the Sky! 2007." Often they have to share puddles, and with competing stations, it can get nasty, especially during Sweeps Week.

During one particularly dry rainy season, KCAL9 news was accused by a rival station of creating a puddle. Turns out it was caused by a broken lawn sprinkler, but whether the sprinkler was broken intentionally was never proven in court. Still, to this day, a cloud hangs over the KCAL 9 weather bureau. And it's not a good cloud.

Possible Site of SoCal Puddle Possibly Caused by Rain

Because of the damp terror that pours from the sky, no one goes anywhere for fear of getting wet. Heaven forbid rain or mud muss your car. No squalling kids cluttering the sidewalk, not even dog walkers are out. Will we melt? Perhaps not, but our perfect hair might get humidified. And that terrifies our weatherpersons.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

West Coast Yankee Fan Seeks 27th World Series Ring

As a Yankee fan, rings are important. As a woman, jewelry, well, jewelry rocks. In slightly over a century, my beloved team has brought home 26 shiny finger-favors, averaging about one every four years. In the sports world - great. In my jewelry box - not so hot. More, please. Now.

Out here on the West Coast, Yankee fans are not so populous or popular. That's ok, we're tough. We may be high maintenance, but we're worth it. We expect more of our team and of ourselves. We exude confidence, creativity, and high SAT scores. And sometimes we exaggerate a little. But we love our team, and don't mind wearing our hearts on our sleeves.

Recently Major League Baseball recognized the vast, heretofore untapped female fan base. Girly merchandise is now a multi-million dollar market, to the point that nearly every team has their logo available in pink, in rhinestones, on undies...Money talks, old guys balk. Hey, nothing is sacred. Get used to it.
Unfortunately, to this day I've yet to find the proper combination of Yankee clothing to guarantee a win. I've tried jerseys, bracelets, necklaces, unmentionables, combinations of the above...nothing seems to do the trick. Wait, maybe that's it - nothing.

Why do some people hate the Yankees so much? They revel and bond over this hatred. It's understood and apparently needs no real justification. Perhaps they don't like old, white, rich guys who want to win and put their money where their team is. Perhaps they see Derek Jeter as that perfect stud in high school who got all the girls and now he's acting like a nice guy just to piss them off. Perhaps the perfection of their female fan base is a turn-off. Whatever. They're taking the cheap shots from the cheap seats. As far as I'm concerned, they can stay there. Grumpy bunnies, all of them. You know who you are. Grrrrr....

But understand that sometimes it takes guts to love a winner. Despised simply because of their dominance, winners can be intimidating, especially to losers. Maybe...stay with me takes a winner to love a winner. (Private message to Bosox fans - neener!) One of my signature sayings used to be, Don't hate me because I'm beautiful - there are so many better reasons. I traded a few of my signature sayings for a player to be named later. Hopefully a pitcher.

Even good champagne stings the eyes. As a Yankee fan I know this. But I sure could use some new jewelry. Especially if Mr. Steinbrenner is buying.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Crusty Bob the Pirate Fish

Several months ago, we bought fish. Again. We still had a few I hadn't managed to kill yet, but for a reason that escapes me, we needed more. Perhaps to pull the underwater plow and harvest the ripening sea kelp in their tank to help pay their way. Perhaps not.
Whatever - we each got one, even me. I chose an algae eater because it cleans the tank. It could be a nasty, slimy, giant toothy tentacled squid, but if it does windows it's my friend.
My two boys each chose Black Moor goldfish. Your average 25-cent goldfish is a sleek, shiny, eating machine designed to outlive dirt just to spite whoever cleans the tank. Black Moors are geeky, awkward-moving, and bug-eyed - the nerds of goldfish academia. They also cost the equivalent of a goldfish college fund. I doubt they've ever spent a moment of their lives earning their kelp.

My 8-year-old chose a big, hulking beast-fish that scares the bejeebers out of the rest of the herd/school/extended family. Nightmare is two and a half whopping ounces of intimidating fish. He flounders (sorry) about the tank staring down the other fish. With no eyelids and half his body weight composed of eyeball, he doesn't really have a choice.

Bwaaahaha! Get in me tummy!

My 10-year-old picked out a teeny, tiny, black dot that wiggles away from its own shadow. Blink and you'd miss him, but Crusty Bob is a stylin' contender. He may be at the bottom of the fishy totem pole, but he doesn't care a bit. He staked out his own puny corner of the tank and waddles about happily.
At some point, Crusty Bob got into a tussle with another fish or rock or vicious piece of kelp. He lived, but one of his eyes sorta disappeared. As in never to be seen again. Where his eye used to be are now flat, black scales.

His owner wailed, "Crusty Bob is a freak!" I tried to console him that Crusty Bob doesn't miss his eye at all, that now he was a Pirate Fish with a nifty black eyepatch. "Avast ye, Crusty Bob!" I said heartily, "Hoist that scurvy Nightmare and make him walk the plank!" That worried my son even more, since nothing is geekier than a 10-year-old boy whose mom talks like a pirate and chatters with one-eyed fish.

We've finally gotten used to Crusty Bob, and we've noticed he's slightly prone to accidents. Not sure if this caused him to lose an eye or he's just clumsy because he can't see very well. Either way, I'm hoping he doesn't poke the other one out, because our insurance doesn't cover a seeing eye dogfish.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Rise and Fall of the Hormonal Comic


Thanks for reading this far. You're quite brave you know, to muster on past such a terrifying apparition. Fearless, or you're acronym-challenged....or maybe just bored. Regardless, as a reward, I'll share a secret with you, but don't tell anyone. Just the people you know. Ok, maybe a few others too. To be honest, I don't care who you tell. It's not like I'm paid really well for this anyway. But I digest.

There are times when I'm funny. Incredibly, get yer diaper on, cork your bladder, blow it out your nose funny. Other times, not so much. Why?

Having less to do than even you, and having a government grant burning a global-warming hole in my pocket, I decided to investigate my own personal science of comedy. I put my humor, highs and lows, on a chart. Using only the finest equipment, namely Dave Barry's weblog, I implemented a 'snork' tracking device and extrapolated my results onto the following Gannt trending mahoozit.
WARNING- the following is quite graphic:
Impressive, yes, yet painfully sparse. While the colors invite one to compare me to Wyeth and O'Keefe, the obtuse angles offer paeans to Cubism. But I divest.
What factors were at work here? Did situation, attitude, stress, hunger, nearness to stupidity, necessitate a gear shift in fun?
I tracked it all, at least for a few minutes. Then I got tired and got a snack.

Eventually I crunched my hard data through a wood chipper and fed the results into a wetvac. It hurt like the dickens, but someone had to do it.
This next step was quite dangerous, so do NOT try this at home - you will frighten your neighbors and upset the cat:
Still not conclusive, but at least I was learning to draw curves. And I got to talk about astral planes and moons being in Uranus. All good. Unless of course you have Venus envy.
Here's the raw 'snork' data, tracking how many laughs I got on a daily basis:
Hilarious, no? I couldn't stop laughing after that one. This data was then ratioed against the time spent per diem on Mr. Barry's webblog:

While that may not make sense to some of you, face it - many things don't make sense, but this has graphs so it must be true. Besides, when was the last time you got to say 'ratioed' and 'per diem' in the same sentence and make it funny? I didn't think so. Plus the urology angle is both concise and obtuse. Snorkal rapture - our cup overfloweth.

As you can see, it's obvious, really, it all becomes vaguely clear - together, the full moon and I harvest a monthly bumper crop of jokes. Spikes of estrogen match peaks on the snorkometer index. Dang, I'm funny when I'm hormonal.
I'm sure some soulful writer will try to juxtapose the pain of PMS with the joy of humor. After I make him laugh, I will slug him.

A bonus discovery - on the rare occasion of a blue moon, my humor becomes, well... blue, stupid. Shocking, perhaps, but if you didn't see that coming, face it - you're stupid. Don't argue with me or I'll cry.

I've mentioned this phenomenon to several friends of mine, and not a single one of them refutes my case. Most of them just leave rather quickly, but hey- no disagreements, just panic, fear, and flight. Which is fine with me. After all, if I want company, I have the moon, my graphs and my chocolate.

Monday, August 6, 2007


The other day I got a text message on my cell phone. This is unusual because I don't text message - a cell phone call is more than enough of an intrusion. Why I'd want little letters chattering at me nonstop all day is beyond sanity.

The text message was from not even from a human-type person, but instead from one of my favorite places to overheat a credit card. "Your boots are 30% off!" the message purred, "And there's only one pair left!!!" A double-edged crisis indeed. On the one hand, this was a bit of an intrusion on my privacy. On the other hand, dang, it was a shoe sale, for Jimmy Choo's sake.
Several months ago I had tried on a pair of sharp-looking boots and a crafty salesperson had made note of it, hoping to eventually snare me via text messaging. It worked. I had to rescue my boots before someone else snapped them up. After all, the message said they were mine. If only I could remember what they looked like.

The shoe store was in the next town over. Who knows how many other boot-craving women had been contacted about this and were at this very moment en route to claim my boots. Mine. I had to find a way to beat them to it. Texting back seemed the fastest way. My crafty, super-techy idea impressed my own self - those silly girls who thought they could zip to the mall and win would soon know they were competing with a champion shopper, one who knew every sale, every coupon, and holstered a bottomless credit card. And so I replied, making personal history by sending my first ever text message.

"Yes," I tapped, "Size 8 1/2." send.

"What?" came the reply. I looked at my text message. I had sent, "yeeers 88122!$@" Damn those fat fingers.

"Boots," I begged. "Now, please. Sale?"

"May I help you?" the stupid little box blinked at me.

"The ones I wanted," I tapped nervously. " want." Texting a la Tarzan.

"Shall I reserve something for you?" inquired Snarky box.

"Yes... me....boooootz...." Even for me this was getting embarrassing.

"Please visit our store for more information!" chirped the text brightly. Pretty safe response to my gurgling nonsense. I had
always disliked the Politically Correct trend, but this new Shiny Nice Customer Non-service had PC beat by a useless mile.

Looking on the bright side, at least I had attempted to text and gotten a response. That was a step in right direction. But if I were to continue my steps, I needed those boots. So I drove to the mall and got them. Apparently they had just gotten a new shipment in since they now had at least eleven pairs in my size. No matter, a crisis in footwear had been avoided. Chicken soup for the sole, as it were.

Dang if I weren't stylin'! After all, if you're gonna flaunt your techy-text ways, you'd best be lookin' good.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Not-so-fine State of Affairs

From the LA Times today -
Los Angeles television newscaster Mirthala Salinas was suspended without pay for two months — but not dismissed — Thursday from KVEA-TV Channel 52 for covering Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa while they were romantically involved, a relationship that journalism experts said damaged the station's credibility.
...Villaraigosa, 54, did not comment on the merit of Telemundo's decision, saying only that he wanted to concentrate on his job in its aftermath.

Let's see - She gets suspended without pay. He says he's sorry and continues on. The tv station says its credibility was damaged. The government - nope, it's good, thanks for asking. Thank God for low standards.

I could really care less about these people's private affairs, because well, it's private. It takes two to tango and apparently they knew that dance. Whoopee. Alert the media.

Why is this even news? Oooh, scandalous, murmur, murmur, leer & snicker. Does it affect their jobs? If so, wouldn't it impact both? Fire both or hire both.

Thank goodness she probably makes only 66% of what a man would make in that job, since she's out of a paycheck, she's not losing as much. Lucky her.

When double standards are gone and people are judged by their actions, not their sex, somebody wake me. Until then I'm sleeping it off.

And until then don't forget - if you're drunk and disorderly with a cop:
"Jews rule the world" is a no-no.
"What you lookin' at, Sugartits?" is just fine.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Squirrel Terrorism Update

We have two more victims in the War on Squirrel Terrorism - while defending our backyard from the furry scourge, our schnocker (schnauzer/cocker/scottie/etc) tore his ACL. I did not realize dogs actually possess ACL's, but apparently they do. I always thought it was a labor union, but ACL is actually short for anterior cruciate ligament, one of the thingys that compose a knee. (I know, I know - dogs have knees? Who knew?)

Other things I didn't realize about canine ACL injuries:

  1. They are not covered by my HMO

  2. They are not covered by your HMO

  3. They are expensive

  4. It is difficult to find the right size crutches for a schnocker

This led to the second victim - my checkbook, which, after enduring x-rays, surgery, and doggy prescriptions, is now in critical condition. I'm guessing the squirrels own stock in the veterinary industry. This is all part of their plan to rule the universe, and it seems to be working.

Today is day one of Jake's 12-week post-operative physical therapy program. My checkbook said 'no' to hiring a private trainer to oversee the recovery, so I'm suiting up. We start with 15 minutes of ice packs, then 15 minutes of Passive Range of Motion (PROM) exercises such as slow flexing. And that's just for the checking account. Ba-dum.

Jake must do bicycling exercises, which is tough because, being a dog, he's never been on a bike. So I have to move his booboo leg around in a circle to emulate movement on a bicycle. (I can use the word 'emulate' since the vet charged me for it.) Jake and I are both less than thrilled with this physical therapy program. It's just a matter of time before one of my kids takes our picture and we're featured on "World's Funniest Dog Therapy Programs."

Squirrels, beware - you have only 12 weeks before we're back chasing you again. 12 weeks of twice daily therapy, twice daily icing, perhaps a week at a sports medicine rehab center, some retail therapy for my dwindling mental state, and a line of credit on the house to finance it all, then we're coming after you. So you'd better be ready. Because after 12 dang weeks of moving a dog's leg in circles, I'm going to be ready for you.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Squirrels Gone Wild

I had some beautiful flowers, gladiolas, in my backyard. They were nearly 5 feet high until today. Daddy squirrel was 'watching' the youngsters, letting them climb up my flowers, then ride them as they crashed to the ground. While his furry offspring were running amok in my yard, Daddy was busy stuffing his cheeks with sunflower seeds from my birdfeeder. Birdfeeder, not squirrel feeder. And furboy could chow down something fierce, like Uncle Louie at a seafood buffet. I think they had the same orthodontist, too.

A couple of the evil juniors were ripping blooms off the plants, stuffing them in their little cheeks and spitting them at each other. Then they played 'king of the garden light,' wrestling for the ownership rights to the tops of my landscape lighting.

Then the littlest one peeked in the doggy door and stuck his tongue out at my dogs, who bolted and tried to go thru the doggy door at once. Instead they smacked heads. Little cartoon birdies circled their heads as the saucy ball of fur pranced away.

How do I know it's a daddy squirrel? Mama squirrel just showed up and read him the riot act. I don't speak squirrel fluently, but I'm pretty sure I know what she said.

"I leave you alone with the kids for an hour and you let them tear the place apart? Look at this mess - you'd think a gopher family lived here. It's a pigsty! I am telling you, Ernie, I am NOT moving again! Just because you can't keep our children under control for a few minutes. Really, sometimes, you just drive me nuts!"

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Songs of Suburbia - Ice Scream

We reside in a lovely little town just a stone's gentle toss from Big Town. We have lovely cookie cutter homes, birds singing in the trees, lovely landscaping - a veritable set from Desperate Housewives. Even the postal person isn't really postal.

So why is it that at the same time every day down these lovely streets rumbles a lurching, hulking, lumbering, grey mass of rusted metal? Playing a tune that sounds like, as my son calls it, the 'song of a deranged clown.' In Eee-minor.

A remarkably iconic symbol of suburban youth now resembles the creepy, convoluted villain from a Steven King novel. "The Ice Cream Man Cometh" should be a joyful moment, not a lurking Willy Loser-man.

When did the Good Humor man go so bad? Is it now cool to buy popsicles from someone who looks like they haven't been near soap since the Carter Administration? Not that the old-school guy was perfect. Today, a guy who wears shiny white shoes, hangs out with children and smiles excessively usually ends up on parole and living in a cheap hotel. But at least there was some semblance of clean.

Perhaps part of the allure is the semblance of risk, of daring to ingest something off the poster vehicle for Hepatitis A. Look, ma, no handsoap. All the old fashioned scary stuff- running with scissors, playing in traffic, etc. is passe. Time to up the ante on the antibiotics.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Kids Today

As we were driving back from the store the other day the boys were arguing over a stuffed animal we had just bought. "Walter", from the eloquent book "Walter, the Farting Dog," was turning into an immediate favorite, possibly because when squeezed he'd emulate the sound of passing gas. The younger brother was putting Walter through his standard musical tooting routine.

"Look, Mom," he said as Walter obediently ripped another one, "Sound is the fourth dimension."

"It is not!" his older brother argued. "Everyone knows the fourth dimension is time. Duh!"

"It doesn't have to be!" my youngest countered. "Sound can be fourth. Time can be fifth."

"That's ridiculous - how can sound come before time?" Einstein was giving Walter indigestion, and I was having trouble merging onto the freeway while following the laws of physics as argued by an 8 and 10-year-old.

My youngest settled the argument by declaring that sound was the "fArth" dimension. Walter whistled his agreement, and the older brother thought that was amusing enough to end the dispute peacefully.

The next day they nearly came to blows. The younger one was reciting Pi, and the older one argued that he should 'round off' Pi when he was done.

"You're never done with Pi," said the younger brother. "It goes on forever."

"You stopped at 3.1415," argued the older one. "The next number is 9, so you should have said 3.1416."

"I didn't stop - you interrupted me."

"Did not!"

"Did too!"


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sniff Whine Sniff Grrr...

Warning - I've been grounded by a cold so I'm cranky and I'm about to take it out right here.

In my efforts to get over this bug, I've sat my butt down and am watching a baseball game. Dang, is it my imagination, or do the boys spend a ton of time at the plate adjusting their boys? With some of these guys we have time to cut to commercial. "This crotch break sponsored by Viagra." I bet waxing would help them out. Queer Eye for the Shortstop.

A player is wearing eye black that seems to be stickers. Is this neater than greasepaint? Have basball players, in addition to not knowing how to chew tobacco and bubble gum simultaneously, also lost the skill of applying greasepaint? These stickers have some sort of writing on them. Advertising, perhaps? If they showed this game in Hi-def I could tell you, but noooo. Maybe the stickers say, "Quit looking at my crotch."

Speaking of beef, usually the Jack-in-the-Box commercials are amusing, but this one with the "Where's the Angus part of the cow?" is bugging me. People - 'sirloin' is a type of cut of beef. 'Angus' is a breed of beef cattle. Jack is jacking you around. He don't know jack. Jerk.
Maybe I'm a bit extra peeved about this because I grew up near the best Angus Farm ever - Ankony. These people were serious about their bull. Not like Jack. He's a bull-fibber.

Great - we just lost, and a lousy called strike 3 no less. Phooey. I'm going outside to throw rocks at the squirrels. At least they'll take a swing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fast Food Double-take

The other night we stopped to eat at a fast food place, specifically a place that rhymes with "Wendy's," probably because it is "Wendy's." Aside from the employees, we were the only people there. A bit strange, I thought, since it was dinnertime. You'd think at least a couple of people would be there.

As we were enjoying our Frosty-induced brain-freezes, a Domino's delivery car pulled up. Ironic, I thought, that the Domino's guy eats here. Wrong. He wasn't eating - he was making a delivery. To the people who had just made our food. I peered down at what was left of my sad, pale french fries, wondering what bizarre culinary stories they might offer. I was suddenly happy that taters tell no tales. Sometimes it's just better off not knowing.

I like pizza as much as the next animal, but don't you think it's bad form to have a Domino's delivery walk in the front door of your restaurant? Wouldn't you at least hide your indiscretion a wee bit? Maybe eat pizza at home, go pick it up, have it delivered to the back door, anything but plop it right on the counter for all to see. I felt a tad betrayed. Defiled, almost. Ok, maybe not defiled. More like in a Woody Allen movie, where something's not quite right, and it may be funny, but you're aware of your own laughter, so you can't really laugh comfortably because you may be wrong about the supposed humor and then everyone will laugh at you.
Unfortunately the irony was sitting in my stomach right next to my food, and they were not getting along very well. Like sitting next to Woody Allen and he's constantly adjusting his glasses and shifting around and asking silly questions and you just want to pop him one. Well, sort of like that.
I sure wish I had a pizza.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day Diva

In the grocery store yesterday, I was flagged down by a desperate man with a mixed bouquet. "Excuse me, do you know if this store has nice boxes of chocolate?" I directed him toward the gift area. "It's for my mother-in-law," he explained, as if I should direct him toward gift boxes of Ex-Lax.

"I'm so sorry," I replied, and I meant it. I was returning from a lovely party that featured the holy girly trinity of jewelry, friends and margaritas. I couldn't be farther from this guy's pain. No guilt on my part, though. I had earned the party, the day, the friends.

On the check-out line, there was a bit of confusion. The man ahead of me was just buying mushrooms, and the checkout lady thought they were with my purchases. "Those are mine," the guy grumped. "Although SHE should be buying them for me."

Whoa. I glimpsed at the people behind me on the line. They had noticed the guy's attitude, too. Maybe he had learned his flirting skills at an anger management class. He must have heard my eyes roll, because he continued.

"I raised three kids by myself. Somebody should buy ME something for Mothers' Day!" He groused as he grabbed his mushrooms. "And I'm the best cook around, too!" I suddenly realized there was a viable market for gift-wrapped chocolate Ex-Lax.

"Enjoy your mushrooms," I called after him as he left. "Alone!" I muttered to the people behind me. We giggled nervously.

I wondered about his kids. Were they cold, bland, raised in a cave, like his mushrooms? Was that considered successful? He was certainly cranky, but maybe he was happier being unhappy. I was going to ask him if he was also paid 35% less than the average dad, but he was gone already.

Happy Mother's Day to all, whether you're a mother, a mom, a mutha, or a mumdaddy. Find your space, make it yours, invite us over once in a while. It's all good, no?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day Out

Just a quick whine before the main course. This will only take a minute, and believe me, it hurts you more than it hurts me.Trust me on this - I'm a mother.
We just finished celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week. Now here comes Mothers' Day. Teachers get a week, mothers get a day. What gives? They must have a better union. Maybe their lobbyists are better connected. Objection! To be a teacher, you have to be certified. But to be a mother, you have to be certifiable. And if you weren't certifiable before becoming a mother, you certainly are afterward. Here's proof-

Last night I went to a unique celebration. If you remember from my last post, I had been invited to a night celebrating single moms. One guy, a single guy, was sponsoring the event. Quite the guy, actually, and quite the night. We all sat around in big comfy white couches, sipping drinks and dipping strawberries in chocolate fondue. Our host had bought us roses, teddy bears, and chocolate. "How adorable," I murmured. "Where the hell is my drink?"

Did I mention there was a huge white bed next to the couches? Tee, hee, hee. Apparently the place was remodelling and the bed just happened to be there. Oopsie. "How silly!," I giggled as I set my purse taser to 'stun.'

We were also sitting right next to the bar stockroom. Every once in a while the bartender would swoop in, and we'd glimpse walls of Jack Daniels, Skye Vodka, and heavenly bottles of primo tequila. We teased the bartender about leaving his stash unlocked with dangerous minions lurking about. "Don't be silly," he said, "I trust you!"

I sensed we were being written off as harmless. Oopsie. We were too old, too 'motherly', too quaint to be dangerous? I sensed the rest of my group was feeling the same. (Except for the single guy who sponsored this shindig. By this time, he was cowering in the corner, rocking and babbling.)

Since we were all mothers, and all restless, we immediately recognized a young, cute man who needed to be taught a lesson. When his back was turned, my friend swiped the lock off the door. She went over to lecture him about leaving such a lovely collection of beverages unlocked. As she distracted him, I slipped into the storeroom and closed the door.

Soon I heard voices - the young bartender was approaching my storeroom (yes, mine!). He was casually scolding my friend for taking the lock. He slid the door open. I grabbed him about the neck and dragged him into the storeroom. He shrieked. Yes, shrieked. Visions of Mrs. Robinson danced in his head.

As for the nice guy who set up this whole evening, we were too much for him. Hopefully he'll be out of therapy in time to pay for next year's fete. Amazons? Yes. Amazing? That, too. Happy Mothers' Day.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Mothers' Date?

I just received the most interesting invitation. In honor of Mother's Day, a friend of mine is sponsoring an evening out for a group of us single moms. Refreshments at a reputable local nightspot are included. Isn't that just the sweetest thing to do? I immediately suspected ulterior motives.

Think about it, guys. Wanna meet women? Sponsor a night out. Do it under innocent pretenses. Just to throw us off your trail, invite some women you're not interested in. Schedule it at an innocent time, like right after work on a Friday. Saturdays are for dates and you're booked solid then, anyway, right?

Because of my innate journalistic curiosity, I cancelled my others plans (sorry, tv) and accepted the invitation. He then asked what my favorite type of candy is. By that time I had pinged a mutual friend - what's up with this guy? Why, why, why? "That's just the way he is," she shrugged. "He likes to make people happy." Oh, boy.

What if it is really just a nice evening out for moms? What if he's actually just being nice? For me, that would be totally unexplored territory. I would no sooner know what to do in that situation than if Paris Hilton moved in next door and opened a homeless shelter.

What if he's interested in someone else, and I'm just "Ugly Betty" wallpaper? I'll stand there, cocktail in my hand, glare in my eye, as he chats up some poufy frumpella. Not that I'm interested in him at all. However, he may consider me, like many men do, to be frankly, out of their league. That's understandable.

Why haven't any other guys thought of this? Because, most of the time, they are simply busy being guys. Research is what other guys do while most guys are drinking beer and scratching. But if this catches on, I'm afraid it could be bigger trend than the new iPod-equipped toilet.

Isn't this what "The Bachelor" is? That must be what he's doing. Concoct a theme, invite a few women, make sure no other males show up, ....oh, my. Intriguing at the very least in sheer bravado. We'll have to see what he's up to. Stay tuned.