Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sensible Shoes

Have you ever caught your reflection in a mirror or a store window at the exact moment you look the most unattractive you've ever looked in your en-tire life? That moment when all the planets in our solar system have aligned and all your stars are in the house of ugly.

I mean that moment when your mouth is hanging open, your eyes are half shut, you have hair sticking up here and there, and your chin has sprouted other chins. Your posture is so bad you look like you should be ringing bells in a tower somewhere. Your gut is hanging waaaaaay out in front (I call it my front butt) and your bra has creeped way up in back because your back boobs keep pushing it up there. (Which means your front ones are safely wedged into the elastic waistband of your skirt. Thank God for elastic - that way I don't have to worry about the bessies going about un-tethered.)

I experience that moment on a daily basis.

When did it happen? When did I turn into Frumpy Spice? I don't recall the progression from cute girl in her 20's to overweight matron with bad hair in her middle 30's. It happened so gradually that I didn't notice it. It certainly wasn't my goal to wind up this way. I didn't wake up one morning and say to myself with gusto, "As God is my witness, I will wear long boxy shirts with big skirts every single day. I will make sure there are two or three separate front butt rolls visible on the front of my shirt, because it will give people something to stare at. My make-up will sit untouched in the drawer, and my hair will hang from my scalp like dead fish."

I'm feeling very scuzzy lately, and I think I might be having a bit of an identity crisis. Can you tell? I stand in front of my closet and just stare at it, mesmerized, as if Billy Blanks were in there doing his best Tae Bo. I'm uninspired by my life, my clothes, I'm bored with my shoes, I have no accessories. My hair is blah, my body is double blah. I am the biggest loser. And not the good kind.

My perfume. I like my perfume. I've been told I smell good. But that's it.

I've tried a new hair color in hopes that a darker do would solve my funk issues. I needed something to do during the babies' naps anyway, so it was me and my Clairol in the bathroom together. "Hm, what would happen if I leave it on for just five more minutes? How dark is too dark?" Well, when the only comment you get on your hair is, "ooh, Goth!" then you have your answer.

So what's a momma to do? How do I get out of this rut? Oh, I already know the answer. Get off my dead patoot and go for a walk. I suppose so. But finding inspiration is difficult lately. I could exercise and lose 80 pounds, get a new haircut and dust off my make-up case. But I'll still be the same person when all is said and done. I'll still be Dan's roommate, Ashley's doormat/teacher, a slave to the babies, scrubber of toilets, runner of vacuums and mixer of meatloaves. I won't suddenly have a life just because I've proven I can stick to an exercise program for more than 45 minutes. I'll still have the same frumpy skirts and stretched-out bras and sensible shoes.

Some days I wish I could have excitement and intrigue as a daily menu option. Wouldn't it be fun to be a spy? Chase the bad guys and use my SuperSpy karate skills to kick their butts with a "ha!" and a "high-ya!" And then wring 'em dry of information with my voodoo mind powers. Of course I'd have nary a hair out of place, and I'd do it all in fun wigs and disguises and sexy high-heeled shoes. (Hellooooo, who ever heard of a SuperSpy wearing sensible shoes?)

But I think I'd probably suck at being a spy. It'd be like having THE coolest house on the planet, but on the South pole where nobody can ever visit you. I'd want everyone to share in my fun life with me and I wouldn't be able to keep any secrets. So being a spy is out.

Oh well. Not a thing in the world I can do about all of this tonight. Can't afford the gym, can't reverse the Clairol, and the elastic on my skirts will hold for now. I think I'll wallow in self-pity for a little while longer. I'm used to that. I like to stew, it suits me. It's comfortable, like a big warm cushy blanket.

I love blankets. They hide front butts. And they go great with my sensible shoes.

UPDATE: I joined the gym yesterday. I haven't actually worked out yet but I feel tres sporty with my membership card riding around in my purse. I'm not looking forward to the mandatory fitness evaluation - that torture session where Adonis calculates your body fat percentage and cardiovascular limits - even if it is free.

I'm treating this like a lifestyle change, not a "new thing" so I'm hoping to stay motivated. We'll see how it goes, eh?

Just a quick note to the phonetically challenged...

Please allow me to vent a little bit. If one of these applies to you, I apologize in advance for offending you. If one of these applies to someone you know, vent with me! and then pass this on to that person.

1. There is no "m" in sandwich.

2. There is no "x" in escape, ask, especially or espresso.

3. The word wheelbarrow only has one "l" and it's NOT at the end.

4. The word thorough doesn't have even ONE "l" in it. (No really, I swear!)

5. The phrase is "case in point," NOT "point in case."

6. The word Nike on your shoes does NOT rhyme with bike, and there are only three syllables in the word Worcestershire.

7.  It's Reese's.  Like, it belongs to Reese.  Reese's doesn't rhyme with feces.

8.  Jaguar is not pronounced jag-wire. For the love of all that's holy, it's jag-wahr. Jag-wahr!

OK. I'm done whining. I feel much better. I think I'll excape to the bafroom for a bubble bath.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Toddler Logic

Is there any such thing? Isn't the phrase "toddler logic" an oxymoron? Jumbo shrimp, government intelligence, comfortable underwire, toddler logic.

Toddler logic. You've seen it in action in grocery stores, I'm sure. Employed by toddlers driven by a fundamental need to be up, eat cookies, have juice, get that toy, annoy the dog, be in Sister's room, whatever. It's a genetic defect at the most basic of cellular levels, so there's no spanking it out of them. Especially in this day and age of "*gasp* that lady just spanked that angel of a child!" Barf.

Every toddler makes it his enterprise to get his way by any means necessary, obstacles and nay-sayers be damned. The Marine Corps has "Semper Fi" and toddlers have "I want what I want when I want it!" It's their battle cry. And emblazoned on their crest and boldly declared on their flag are the words "If at first you don't succeed... you aren't loud enough!"

Toddler logic - no means ask again. No means ask louder. No means ask repeatedly. No is actually an invitation to brush up on your negotiation skills. As a matter of fact, no is practically an answer in the affirmative. You may as well skip all the preliminaries and just say yes!

Um, no.

Take, for instance, the scene that unfolded in my kitchen a few days ago.

Jonah: "Uh up, Momma."

Me: "No baby, Momma is fixing lunch right now. I can't pick you up."


Jonah thinks to himself, "Did she just say no to me? I believe she just said no to me. Hm. Maybe I've forgotten something?... oh yeah!"

Jonah: "Pwease?" Big smile, blink-blink go the eyes. (Oh, I've been blinked at by bigger and better than you, pal.)

Me: "No son, I can't pick you up right now. As I told you, I'm fixing lunch. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup! You like cheese!"

Odd. She seems amazingly unaffected by my cuteness. I laid it on pretty thick with my signature blink-blink but elicited nary a twitch. *sniff sniff* My baby lotion is still fresh. Was it my smile? Not big enough? Maybe I have graham cracker in my teeth. She nearly distracted me with all her cheese talk, oh she's a clever old biddy. But I can't let the lure of the perfect grilled cheese take me off course. Hm. A different tack, perhaps?

Jonah (now tugging on my skirt): "Uh up, Momma. Uh up. Pwease Momma, up!"

Me (somehow managing to keep the cheese knife away from my fingers with all the skirt-tugging): "No honey. Momma is still making lunch. We'll sit down and read a story after lunch, okay?"


Maybe she didn't hear me? Does she know I'm down here? How does she manage to deny cute, lovable, persuasive little me? I dunno, but she's entirely too easy with her "no" and her "not now" business. It's maddening. I think it's time to ramp it up a bit.

Jonah (grunting, forcing his way between my legs and the cupboards, skull first which causes his face to be all stretched back towards his ears): "UP! UP Momma, UP!"

At this point I'm pressing my legs closer to the cabinet in an effort to stop his curly head from pushing through to the other side. I treat it like a gym workout - 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and breathe in, breathe out, suck it in 8. I've spent the last few years building up an immunity to whining so I can barely hear his skirt-muffled voice. Just as well, as I've decided to ignore him. After all, I think I've been pretty straight forward about why I'm not picking him up. I feel that I've explained myself clearly and concisely. I've used plain English, and I was careful not to use any big words. I see no reason to get into it again.

Alright, clearly I've underestimated my mother's ability to withstand the siren song of my comely cuteness. I see I'm dealing with a master here. I'll need to reach deep down and give it all I've got. Noise, brawn, cunning, everything. OK, deep breath...

Jonah: "UUUUUP! Up up up UUUUUUUUP!!!! Up up up up Uppy uppy uppy uppy uppy uppy uppy uppy UP Momma!"

Now he's hanging from my apron strings and crying the deep gutteral cry of the unfairly judged, the glibly dismissed, the smugly scorned, the mortally wounded. I look down at him and watch in amusement as Jonah descends fast and furious into a running-in-place slobbering fit. His mouth is wide open and his eyes are clamped shut. His tongue is hanging out of his mouth like a dog's. It's difficult to hold back my giggles but I manage to swat his fanny (just once - no cops, please) and set him in the Naughty Spot.

See what I mean? Toddler logic. Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

Say, isn't that one of the definitions of "insanity?"

Friday, December 02, 2005

It's a Lost Art

Alright, I know this has nothing directly to do with being a momma, beyond the fact that, as the momma, I spend lots of time at the grocery. Or the department store. Or the Starbucks drive-thru. But still it's valid and that's why I'm bothering.

Whatever happened to counting back change? It absolutely makes my blood boil when some gum-chewing dull-eyed half-wit just plops a handful of coin and paper into my hand. blam. take it or leave it. thanks for nothin'. are you still here?

It seems as though the digital cash registers of today have removed the thinking from the process by telling the cashier the right amount to give back. (Check your brain at the door, please.) A great disservice if you ask me.

Yes, it's wonderful that you can now move 12 customers instead of 7 through your line in 15 minutes. Yes, I'm glad your cashiers are no longer standing there staring blankly at that open money drawer, wondering what to do next. That part of the transaction makes everyone uncomfortable. Still, this inevitable influx of technology doesn't exempt your employees from displaying the most basic of customer service responsibilities... to say nothing of second grade math skills.

Consider a recent experience I had with the jolliest of fellows at a local gas station.

"Three gallons of low-grade unleaded? 'zthat all? Why that'll barely keep your car running, ma'am. Ah. I see your minivan is powered by dual overhead hamsters, so maybe you'll be alright. Just remember to toss a handful of hamster feed down the heater vents once a week. Oh. Y'say you already knew that? Wonderful! Those little fellars'll most likely survive the winter then.

"Well, thank you Mrs. H, that'll be $15.47. Out of $20? Oh my, I'd better get my counterfeit detection marker. Never can be too careful. And I see you've got a van-load of babies --- shall I bring back a few lollipops as well? What's thatchya say? Babies don't eat lollipops? I did not know that. Well, maybe next time then.

"Okay, here ya go, that was fifteen forty-seven. Here's forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty, seventy-five, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, aaaaaaaaand twenty. Now you have a nice day, Mrs. H."

See? So simple. That young gas station attendant was so polite and engaging! He was very knowledgeable about the care and feeding of hamsters, although I worry about the health of his future children. But still he was careful to give back the correct amount of change, and he's proven that he's passed the second grade. I was so distracted by all those numbers flying about that I didn't even feel it when the oil company reached in and extracted my right kidney as payment for its crude.

You would think that a store owner or manager would quiz his or her employees on the giving of change. It would be in their best interest to do so, in my always humble opinion. But alas, many an employee with the Store Manager name tag has thrown change at me with the best of them.

I've recently taken to standing there in line (or sitting there, if it's the drive-thru) and manually counting the change back to myself out loud whenever some clod presents me with a sweaty fistful of mystery change. Hopefully the display isn't lost on the cashiers, although I know it annoys them. Especially at Starbucks! Apparently the super-trendy feel they're above such nonsense.

How rude! I can't believe she doesn't trust me. Hellooooo. Am I not excellently sporting my black "Expert Barista" apron?

Well, no Junior, I don't trust you. But don't be offended. I suspect you didn't complete the second grade as evidenced by your lack of basic counting skills, black apron not withstanding. I'm only looking out for you. If (or rather, when) your register comes up short today, you'll know it wasn't because you accidentally tossed a twenty at Mrs. H.

But if you did, I promise to spend it at Starbucks.
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