Monday, September 28, 2009

Elvis, Pineapples and Pizza

In the book Pizza, Pigs and Poetry, Jack Prelutzky asks, "Have you ever written a poem about a pizza?" Well, no. But I can cook up some prose.

Here goes: It was January 8, 1999. While at work I ordered a pizza for lunch. A whole pizza. Just for me. It was Elvis' birthday so I thought I'd celebrate by eating pineapple on my pizza for the first time. A little Blue Hawaii flare.

Suprisingly, I ate the whole pizza by myself and didn't blow up like hot air balloon. Before I ordered a luau for lunch that day, I tried to lose a few but something didn't fit right. And it wasn't just my jeans. I mean, I was supposed to feel guilty for eating so much, right?

When I ate the juicy fibers of the pineapple with the cheesy saucy crust, I was happy. Little did I know I was pregnant with my first child. I didn't find that out until seventeen days later. That day I ate my pizza in utter bliss though I didn't know why I was so happy.

I was binging, after all. Ruining my figure. I took acting classes at the time and the camera already packed on pounds. My coach noticed and told me to drop a few. Maybe it was the rebel in me or the growing life inside of me that said, "Hey! What the heck is wrong with you? Since when do you let someone else's ideals tell you what to do?"

Since then it's hard for me to pack away a whole pizza in one sitting. I doubt that bliss will visit me again while eating. Instead it transferred into motherhood which I could never fit into a pie.

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Questions I Can't Answer

Holly turned 10 year old about 2 weeks ago. I found some questions I wrote down that she asked from 3 years old on. None of these I could answer for her then and I still can't now:

*Why isn't there a wall of space (as opposed to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound)?

*Did God make Himself? (when I said God made everything)

*Will I need surgery to have breasts? Why does a woman want surgery to have bigger breasts? (after I explained what boob jobs are)

*How big is a cold? Because if it fits in my nose, it must be pretty small.

*Why on the TV show Dragon Tales do they say "the adventures never end" when they do?

My only response is to ask questions when I can't answer her, such as:

*Why do I bother to put a hamper in your bedroom when your dirty clothes are everywhere except in it?

*Can the theory of relativity be applied to the time in between picking up toys and throwing them on the floor?

*Why did your then two-year-old sister stare at her food on the table but didn't hesitate to eat it off the floor?

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

This is Funny Camp

While homeschooling my almost 6-year-old, she requested her favorite set of flash cards: the U.S. Presidents. I thought they might be too hard for her but she took to them quickly.

I showed her a card of our 18th president, Ulysses Simpson Grant. She said, "Ulysses Simpson Graham Cracker."

Then came our 19th president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes. She called him, "Rutherford Birchard 'Horses Eat Hayes'."

Next up, the 20th president James Abram Garfield. She said, "James Abram Barf-field."

I asked her why the twist on names? She said, "This is Funny Camp. I learn to tell jokes." I said that's nice but sometimes we have to take our learning seriously.

So we went along with our serious faces learning the names of the presidents. Then I showed her Warren G. Harding.

Always closing, she said, "Warren G. Farting."

Friday, September 25, 2009

What a Wonderful World This Would Be

List what your perfect world would be like:

Kids play outside by themselves and explore the countryside like I did as a child.

Poetry is never a turn-off.

Chocolate is a staple.

My dog never needs grooming and he trims his own nails.

I don't see a complete mirror of myself when I discipline.

Libraries never close.

Nobody worries about the mess when they paint.

Stamps stay the same price.

Naps are mandatory.

Proof exists that all good dogs go to heaven and they play with my big brother up there.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not Your Usual To-Do Lists

Thanks to listography, I now have purpose in my visits to Barnes & Noble. I order a grande mocha Frappucino (though it should be a tall but the darn barrista always convinces me to go grande). Then I sit and fill out my list journal with the built-in elastic band.

I don't know what it is about those elastic bands but I can't resist them. There's something so complete about closing up a journal with a colorful ribbon like I've accomplished something be it ever so small.

I also don't roam the Self-Improvement section looking for the next best-book-that-feeds-on-my-inferiority-complex anymore. I might book snack but I never finish. I prefer either a) picture books because I know I'll read them to my children or b) notebooks with elastic ribbons because they get used.

But I digress. Here's my current list of faves: List Your Favorite Things to Do in Your Free Time

Make lists at Barnes & Noble.

Listen in on cell conversations (because they're impossible to avoid).

Take water aerobics because I never get a lane at the gym to swim laps.

Choose pics from Flickr for my blogs. One night I skimmed for pics and found a wonderful story about a dog that ate 2 pounds of chocolate and almost died. Miraculously she recovered. She looks like my dog and bears the same name as my daughter so that drew me in. And I thought the site was just for downloading free pictures.

Teach a child something new. I taught a group of kindergarteners the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 song from Sesame Street. Or was it The Electric Company? That's the way I learned my numbers when I was their age.

AND I showed a 4th grader how to write a haiku. Her assignment was to write a poem about Autumn. To be honest, the haiku is the shortest way to write a poem. But NOT the easiest because you have the least amount of words to convey your feelings.

E-mail Shepard Smith @ My latest: One thing I learned about foreign leaders who hate America: they SUPER UGLY.

Finally, I read fantastic blogs such as:

Because I learned if you wanna be a good blogger, you gotta read great blogs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Laughter Like a Phoenix

Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.
~ Erma Bombeck

This weekend is the 24th anniversary of a high school friend who committed suicide. One night, Jim, a curly-haired ear-pierced football player, came up and hugged me after a game.

It seemed odd because we weren't dating or even close friends, just acquaintances. He said nothing but I remember his letterman's jacket all warm and cozy. He looked crestfallen. A week later I realized it was his way of saying goodbye.

He committed suicide in his parent's bathroom with a hand gun, possibly foreseeing that clean-up would be easier in the bathroom rather than any other room in the house.

My classmates and I all sat together at the funeral watching the boys from my class who just seemed too young to be carrying this burden, his casket, down the aisle. The pastor blankly read his bio from the newspaper like he barely knew him.

Then we sang hymns. An older woman who sat behind us sang with a voice that boomed off-key and loud with a thick German accent. My friends and I looked at each other and giggled. I thought, oh my gosh, this is such a sad event with this young man cutting off his life so short and we can't stop laughing!

It was like his plea to us from the great beyond for someone, anyone, not to take this so seriously. I sense one who commits suicide immediately regrets it although they are not around to admit it to anyone. It's unforgivable. Not by God but by the family they leave behind.

God deals with those who take their lives in ways we'll never know. He doles out teaspoons of goodness to the survivors gradually. Teaspoons turn to cups that overflow. The good the family never thought imaginable turns into ten-fold, twenty-fold, and forty-fold until they can't contain it anymore.

It's God way of making up for losing a son, brother, sister, father, mother, or friend who chose to return His merchandise.

At the grave site, a spray of flowers adorned Jim's casket. Everyone walked by and took a flower from it. I walked towards it and slipped a little, catching myself on the casket. I thought, oh no, I'm gonna fall right down here six feet into this hole - and there's Jim, laughing his butt off.

Luckily I regained my footing and took the flower with me, quietly giggling to myself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Animal Poets RROWWRR!

A lavender farm in HokkaidōImage via Wikipedia

One night, my daughter got out of the bath smelling like mint and lavender. I said she smelled beautiful.

She asked, "Just like mint soup?"

"Yeah, like mint soup." I added she sounded like a poet.

"What's a poet?"

"It's when a writer uses words to make them sound pretty."

"I thought a poet was an animal," she said.

"Yeah, that too."

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Need for Donna Reed

Cropped screenshot of Donna Reed from the trai...Image via Wikipedia

Some days I strive to be just like Donna Reed in my quest for perfect motherhood. Other days I feel more like Sylvia Plath, who at least made her kids peanut butter sandwiches before she gassed herself to death.

When I found out my first child was a girl, I thought, oh how sweet, I'll have hours of enjoyment brushing her hair every night. Nope. She runs away screaming if I even come near her with a comb, brush, or even a plastic fork to get the knots out.

When my second daughter came along, I thought, oh how sweet, they'll have hours of enjoyment dressing up in fairy costumes and having tea parties. Nope. They'd rather wrap themselves up in towels, put their hair up in ponytails and play Sumo wrestlers.

Since Donna Reed kept a pristine House of Order, I first vow to keep on top of laundry. But my girls go through more wardrobe changes in a day than Cher, Madonna and Mariah Carey combined. Costumes are strewn all over the master bedroom. Wigs adorn lamp shades. The buffet table back stage serves only M&Ms and grape Popsicles.

You know the scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Raoul Duke wakes up in the hotel room wearing fisherman boots and a dinosaur tail? He wades in a foot of water and sighs, "Oh Debbie," to Debbie Reynold's shrine at the altar. That's what my living room looks like.

Most days I maintain a nurturing voice like Donna Reed, but I still lose my cool. I knew I had to stop cussing in front of my kids when my then 4-year-old asked me how to spell DAMMIT on the fridge with magnetic letters. Another time my older daughter said, "I'm so sick of this crap!" And I had a REALLY hard time explaining that crap isn't technically a bad word but used in that manner it is. Which really frustrates the crap out of me.

Regarding my appearance, I maintain a somewhat demure Donna Reed-like manner in my choice of fashion. But with some young women that my girls encounter, I can't cover their eyes quick enough.

One evening, I took my daughters to a restaurant called Texas Loosey's. I had "Kids Eat Free" coupons so silly me for thinking it might be family-friendly. Our waitress comes to the table. She's dressed in a bikini, leather chaps with the derriere hanging out, belly ring, and a cowboy hat (cover your head dear, Lord knows we don't want you to catch cold). My youngest took one look and said, "WHAAAAAT?"

When the day is over and we settle down, we do have those moments that probably would make great sappy television. We get together and I'll read a book like Nancy Tillman's On the Night You Were Born, or anything by Karma Wilson or Eric Carle.

We also have in-depth conversations on what it's like to be different ages. My oldest daughter asks me what age I'd like to be. Not to let on that I want to be anything different than I already am, I say, "I want to be 41." She, at age 9, replies, "I want to be 14." And my youngest, whom I dub "The Princess of Non-Sequitur," says, "I want to be a donut."

And then my need for Donna Reed subsides quicker than a commercial break.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jackass's Guide to InterNetiquette

I've been a member of various internet message boards for 15 years now. The best thing about the internet is that anybody can say anything they want to for the world to read.

The worst thing about the internet is that anybody can say anything they want to for the world to read.

Hence, I created A Jackass's Guide to InterNetiquette

1. Don't namedrop. Why? Unless you have something unique and interesting to say about a celebrity, No.One.Cares.

Nobody really cares if you saw Mario Lopez at the gym, or Dean Cain at Venice Beach, or Elliot Gould at the post office (all of which happened to me by the way. See? See how annoying that is?) I'm all for hearing great stories about great people, though, so if you're going to say something, make it worth reading.

Here's an example from one of my internet friends Sam from Mayberry:

I actually got to meet Paul Stanley with my wife and kid at Wentworth Galleries a couple of years ago.

We bought a print of "Green Planet" and Paul was extra cool to my little girl, Kenzie.

She told him that she was just starting to play bass and he asked how old she was and she told him 11. He then said he had a son that was around the same age and that the two of them should get together and jam.

Without missing a beat Kenzie looks him dead in the eye and says, "Hey, sounds good. I'm always lookin' for people." To which he laughed heartily.

2. Think up comebacks quickly. You look like a loser if you wait more than 24 hours to say whatEVER to someone who typed an emoticon with rolling eyes.

3. Never say anything you wouldn't mind getting beat up for in public.

4. Don't make fun of what anybody does for a living, or what someone doesn't do for a living. Stay-at-home moms work harder than you ever will. So don't try to intimidate us with your nasty remarks from your big scary keyboard.

5. Never tell anyone they're wasting time on the internet and they should spend more time with real people. Because look around you. You aren't exactly the social butterfly yourself.

Follow these 5 simple rules and you'll be a well-rounded person in virtual AND real time.

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Instead of These Comedians

From the television feed of Kennedy's birthday...Image via Wikipedia

"It's not just that you're never coming back to me, it's the bitter way that
I was told." -- Elvis
, "The Comedians"

Elvis Costello sure got around in 1989. He had a great album called Spike, a hit song "Veronica," and wrote "My Brave Face"for Paul McCartney. But the one song I most remember Costello for, in spite of an illustrious songwriting career, is "The Comedians" for Roy Orbison's album, Mystery Girl.

All these songs were hits at the same time I dated my ex-boyfriend, fiancee, whatever you want to call him. Always a ring but never a date despite everyone asking us when the BIG DAY was.

He took me to a wedding in which he was a member of the party. I sat at my table fuming while watching him dance song after song with a beautiful brunette bridesmaid who sang at the wedding. He asked me, "Isn't she a wonderful singer?" This is where the phrase, "Dance with the girl you came with" found its literal meaning.

I watched them dance, and when I they stopped I thought, maybe, just maybe, he'd ask me to dance. Yet, DJ played another song and they kept dancing.

Before I sat down to watch these comedians, his brother helped me with my chair at our table. When he struggled with pushing me in, he said, "My brother's right, you have gained weight!"

Wow, how many blows can a gal take? The kicker was that I wasn't even fat, at least from my 41-year-old self today looking back 20 years . I just didn't fit into that skinny '80s aerobic biker short and leg warmer ideal.

It was after Marilyn Monroe but before J.Lo when curves were embraced; that horrible Jane Fonda-type era. Not only was Fonda Hanoi Hanna, she helped throw young girls into body obsession.

There were so many songs that year that helped me overcome this breakup. One was "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" by Tom Petty on Full Moon Fever. It's practically a copycat of Roger McGuinn's performance of the same song. No matter. All that really mattered were the lyrics:

Now I got to say

That it's not like before

And I'm not gonna play

Your game any more

After what you did

I can't stay on

And I'll probably feel a whole lot better

When you're gone

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Like an Ice Cream Sundae

A chocolate sundaeImage via Wikipedia

Holly came up with an astute analogy on writing the other day. She said it's like an ice cream sundae: writing is ice cream, people reading it is chocolate syrup, and getting paid is the cherry on top.

Think about it. You can enjoy the ice cream by itself by just writing. It's even better with the toppings. But you don't need the cherry to delight in the entire experience. I think, how does she do that? How is she on this earth for only ten years and come up with that? And why didn't I think of it first?

Maybe when I need to discipline her I take away her books. And for that I have to thank Paula Danziger and her Amber Brown series which got Holly to not only start reading but to enjoy it. She related to the second grade character whose best friend moved away which happened to Holly in second grade also. Amber grew up but didn't get past 4th grade because sadly Danziger passed away from a heart attack in 2004.

I mentioned to Holly that some day she could continue the Amber Brown series but she said no. Her current project is a comic book series called Die Barney, as in the purple dinosaur. I'm not sure whether to be proud or disturbed. I'm banking on pride.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Places

A Moorish-style fountain inside Mission San Ju...Image via Wikipedia

I helped out in my daughter's 4th grade writing class the other day. Their assignment was to write about their favorite place after listening to the teacher read Grandfather's Journey. My favorite place is of course my hometown of Kenosha, WI but I made a list of my favorite places I visited for a brief while.

These places are where I felt cool energies, a sense of belonging, and supernatural communication:

Beale Street, Memphis,TN: I was there on a summer night in 1985 with my cousins. I took a pic wearing a blank tank top dress, a bad perm and wayfarers by the statue of Elvis. We ate ice cream by BB King's blues bar. I was seventeen so I wasn't old enough to go in. We sat on a bench by a cobblestone road watching a raspy-voiced blues woman and a lanky dude with mirrored sunglasses who stepped in and played acoustic guitar. I felt like Elvis as a young kid watching them.

Forest Lawn Memorial, Los Angeles, CA: I loved this place in my twenties when I needed poetic inspiration. An inscription there reads not to consider this place a cemetary but a living memorial to those who passed. It's a place for artists to write, paint or just think. There is a replica here of the old Boston church where Paul Revere warned of the coming British. I also sat by Stan Laurel's grave many times. You think such a giant of old time comedy would have something elaborate but it's just a gravestone with a bench next to it. Stan and I had lots of conversations there.

Laguna Beach, CA: I drove the PCH here on August 27, 1998. An amazing sunset showed itself of orange, red and purple clouds. I remember the cliffs and waves while listening to "Frozen" by Madonna. Another day I got a toe ring and thought I saw Andy Warhol walking on the beach. I also spent the afternoon of New Years Eve 1999 with my best high school friend Tammy. We ate crab cakes at a seaside restaurant where she took a pic of the last sunset of the millenium. It was cold but she, also a Wisconsin native, refused to wear a jacket. She was determined to spend New Years Eve in a tank top and sandals.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, CA: The swallows return there each year on my birthday March 19 and the city celebrates. Cowboys stand in the street and shoot toy guns in the air. I'm not sure why but I'm sure it's historic. I visited there on my 31st birthday when I was 3 months pregnant. A friend and I walked through the little chapel with votive candles burning. There is something about Catholic churches with their stained glass and burning candles that create such a supernatural atmosphere. You can sense the priests that founded the mission in that chapel and understand their purpose.

Please leave comments on what your favorite places are and why. Supernatural or sentimental, places that are not of this world, anything. I'd love to read them.
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Welcome Great Pumpkin!

Linus awaits the Great Pumpkin.Image via Wikipedia

Halloween is like Christmas to me. I await the Great Pumpkin on Halloween's Eve, waiting for him to drop down my chimney with his presents wrapped in gold Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and silver York Peppermint Patties.

I assign Halloween names to the members of my family. I become Scary Bones. My husband Tim is Grim Bones. Holly turns into Hollow Bones. And April finally transforms into October Bones.

Here are a few of my favorite Halloween things:

Reading Halloween books to my girls, like Here They Come and Goodnight Goon.

Making crafts with the nouveau riche Halloween colors: bright purple, neon green, and magenta. No more just black bats, orange pumpkins, and white ghosts. Crafts are now all about witches' striped stockings, pink and black skull and crossbones, and bedazzled goblins.

Halls Fast Relief Ginger Ale cough drops. I even look forward to colds because that means I get to soothe my cough with these and get in an extra nap. Or two.

Fun-sized candy. A comedian whose name escapes me asked, "Are these candy bars really the size of fun?" To me they are. Especially when we skip the regular size and buy the whole bag, knowing, like Lay's potato chips, we can't stop at just one.

Day after Halloween marked-down candy. It's like sugary irony to buy candy after our houses are filled to the crown moulding with lollipops, Snicker bars and that awful candy corn that I hate but my girls love. In fact, we walk down the aisles thinking if we see another Spongebob candy crabby patty, we're gonna puk....hey wait! Is that fun-size Nestle crunch bars 75% off? SCORE!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Going Back to Kindergarten

Fun With Dick and JaneImage via Wikipedia

Kindergarten is not so much about academia. Students learn at different levels of their letters, sight words, numbers and math. Kindergarten is more learning how to get along with others. It's like social etiquette for kids before they lose themselves in online worlds and develop no techniques for when things don't always go our way.

This proves that All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum is still true today:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

I volunteered for 2 weeks so far in my child's class. After homeschooling her prior to kindergarten, she learns now that she doesn't always come first. She's reminded to make good choices while playing with others and uses "I" messages. Instead of saying, "You cut in front of me," she says, "I feel sad that you cut in front of me." The other child then says, "I'm sorry."

Wouldn't it be awesome if adults did that too? Especially during rush hour?

I used to have a zillion dreams about going back to elementary school. And now I know why. Sitting in on the class and helping children learn teaches me also. In fact I think I'm learning more than teaching.

One such thing I found is to never give up on a kid who might be a troublemaker. They have gifts that haven't revealed themselves yet. One child I taught told me everything I needed to know about Leonardo da Vinci though his behavior skills need improvement. Another girl doesn't get along with the other kids but she's a gifted artist.

Social skills are learned. We aren't born with them. And change doesn't happen over night. Like any skill, it's a process that improves slowly with a little (or should I say a lot) of divine help.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

A Not-So Summer's End

We celebrated the not-so-official end of summer at Oceanside. The girls wonder why we can't go to the beach year-round. We can, of course, we can't just play in the ocean. The water gets cold and icy in the winter months and we freeze on our long walks back to the car. But they say that's okay, they still want to swim no matter how cold it gets.

And at that moment I realized we raised California girls. Not born in Wisconsin like my husband and I. This time of year Wisconsinites don their green and gold Packer parkas in time for football season. They buy fresh new ice scrapers for their car windows. They make sure the chains and anti-freeze are ready for the drive to work. There's none of this, "Boo-hoo, we can't go swimming in the ocean in January. Wah!"

But the best part of living in California, amidst the deep depths of the recession and high gas prices, is the view. We might pay sky-rocketing prices in mortgage but look! We have the ocean!
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Volunteers of America

Cropped screenshot of Ronald Reagan from the t...Image via Wikipedia

No matter how hard you work, if you don't get paid for it, it's not considered a job. Part time jobs are few and far between these days so instead I volunteer at my kids' school and my church. I do it because I love it not for monetary gain.

An unnamed loser on an internet message board once told me, "At least I have a job. Do you ever leave the house?" Hell hath no fury like a stay-at-home mom scorned. Instead of engaging in a flame war, I ignored him at the time. But then he insulted another member's daughter and let's just say that karma's bite in the butt is a little painful to say the least.

Truth is, I never put hardly any energy into any job that I was paid for. At least I didn't get a lot of enjoyment over it. But I get enjoyment out of the jobs for which I volunteer.

It was Ronald Reagan who spoke of the spirit of volunteering in Temecula. It must be contagious because I didn't get into the spirit until I moved here.

I help kindergarten kids learn their letters and numbers. I help elementary kids write compositions. I teach Sunday school to elementary kids and plan crafts to teach them about art through God. There's hardly any art classes in school anymore, so if there's the next Picasso it's my duty to find that talent and bring it out.

If I were paid for any of these things, I doubt I'd derive as much happiness as I do now. As a volunteer, none of this work is a chore. I do it out of the kindness of my heart. And to keep an eye on my kids. Over protective? Maybe. But never unhappy.

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Love Letters on a Dot Matrix Printer

It's 1990 and my hair piles high, full of Proforma hair spray. I wear those tapered sweat pants that make everybody's butt look so big even Orca gets worried.

I work at a circulation desk in the library at University of Wisconsin Parkside typing a love letter to my future husband. Probably not the best way to use library resources but nonetheless:

CIRCULATION SUBSYSTEM COMMAND: HI TIMOTHY, I THOUGHT I'D TYPE YOU A LETTER. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH. I WOULDN'T TRADE YOU FOR THE WORLD. (You see already I don't fare well in my poetry writing class) I'M BESIDE MYSELF IN HAPPINESS (that should be with not in but who checks grammar when you're in love?)



BY THE TIME I GRADUATE, I'M SURE WE'LL ACCOMPLISH WHAT WE'VE SET OUT TO DO (it took a while after graduation day but yeah, we did it). AND WE'LL HAVE EVEN MORE TO ACCOMPLISH. IT'LL BE LIKE A NEW RENAISSANCE (that was the first big word I learned in college.) AND MAYBE WE'LL BE TRENDSETTERS, WHO KNOWS?

Have you died from insulin shock yet? No wonder my husband's diabetic.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Three Different Strokes

My dear Dad is the King of Malaprops. He substitutes words for others that leave us scratching our heads so much we need dandruff shampoo.

For instance, I had a friend in high school who was extremely skinny. My dad asked, "Is she an aphrodisiac?" It took me a minute to realize he meant "anorexic." I couldn't really imagine my friend as an oyster or dark chocolate. Or eating them for that matter.

One night in the early 80s, we watched the Tonight Show. Donna Summer sang, "Hard for the Money." My dad looked up from the paper and said, "Isn't she on the show, Three Different Strokes?"

He confused Donna Summer with Suzanne Somers on Three's Company and Donna Summer's African-American heritage with Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges on Different Strokes. I think he set a record for reaching that night. I had to make a flow chart to follow that pattern of logic.

However, I'm not one to judge. Malapropism is definitely genetic. I suffer from the disease too. Shows like Cannon and Barnaby Jones always played on our TV in the seventies. Remember the Miranda rights they read on those shows? When I was little I thought the line, "Anything you say can and will be used against you," meant "Anything you say CANNON will be used against you."

So I envisioned criminals blown away by cannon balls if they said anything, anything at all. I imagined anyone charged with a crime lined up in a big courtyard in front of a cannon if they dared to speak.

Also, in the seventies there was a great song by Johnny Nash called, "I Can See Clearly Now." He sang, "I can see all the obstacles in my way." I thought he said "Popsicles" instead of obstacles. And I wondered where he could possibly get caught up in Popsicles and how fast could I get there?

Unfortunately, malapropism passes on to the youngest of generations. Fortunately, my daughter catches herself. One of her assignments for school was to create a diorama. She asked, "What if a diorama was called a diarrhea? I don't think they'd want me to bring it to school."

But it wouldn't be as funny as a diorama with a cannon and a line full of criminals afraid to talk.