Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finding a Fitting Audience

One of my greatest talents (not counting jumping rope on a pogo stick) is folding fitted sheets. Most people I know, especially my husband, just kind of roll a fitted sheet into a rectangular ball and pretend that it's folded neatly.

I, on the other hand, can take a fitted sheet and fold it into a perfect rectangle. And, at the risk of sounding pompous, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the folded top sheet from the fitted sheet when I'm done with my magic.

I've tried hard to find an audience for my talent. My family is tired of my demonstrations. They accuse me of showing off. Bah.

I have not ruled out the possibility of being cast in a play which will allow me to showcase my skills onstage (as was the case with the pogo sticking jump rope shtick in Gypsy). The obvious play would be "Leave It to Beaver, the Musical", but it hasn't been written yet.

Maybe I should write it!

Or at least the scene showcasing my prowess at fitted sheet folding.

June (looking disappointed): Beaver, I thought I asked you to fold your fitted sheets.
Beaver: I did, Mom.
June: It doesn't look like they're folded. It looks like you just rolled them up in a ball.
Beaver: Gee, Mom. I tried hard. Ask Wally!
Wally: Gosh, Mom. I think he was trying. It looked like he was going to hurt himself he was trying so hard.
Eddie: Gee, Mrs. Cleaver. I don't know anybody who can fold fitted sheets as well as you. Could you teach us how to do it?

June (to the tune of "Be our Guest"):
                "Folding sheets, fitted sheets, makes a woman's life complete!
                 And it's not that complicated
                 You just have to concentrate!"

You know, I better not share any more of this intellectual capital, since it is on the internet and can be easily plagiarized.

On second thought....

Do you think Sondheim might be interested?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Refusing to Throw in the Towel!

They made it look so easy!!

And it probably would be if I had 6 hands. But I only have 2. And these 2 hands are having a very difficult time making lizard out of a towel.

Being the nerdling that I am, I purchased a how-to book on towel origami when I was on a Carnival cruise a few years ago. The book looked simple, with step by step instructions for making anything from a scorpion to a sitting elephant. From an iguana to a dinosaur. From a lobster to a parrot.

And since we have company coming for the holidays, I decided to dust off my towel origami book and make a creature to greet my guests.  What a hostess!

I opened the book.  I noticed that every creation starts with a Main Body: A, B or C. The lizard I was making required Body B. I turned to the instructions.

Step 1. Roll tightly each side width-wise to center.

Easier said than done. Rolling a 30-inch wide towel tightly with just 2 hands is physically impossible. I used my chin. I used my knee. I used a bottle of wine and some straight pins.

I was covered in sweat when I finally completed step 1.  And I could have used a glass of wine, but my bottle was otherwise occupied.

Step 2 was a lot easier than step 1, but I had to use my teeth to pull the towel corners out of one of the rolls. I lost a fingernail in step 3 and it didn't look at all like the drawing. In fact it looked like a vagina. Step 4 had me so confused that I decided to abort the mission.

I felt like a failure. I didn't know that you had to be a rocket scientist (with 4 or more hands) to make a towel lizard.

Then I had an epiphany. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to make a lizard out of a towel. You only have to be a rocket scientist to follow the instructions in the towel origami book.

That's when I decided to invent my own towel animals.  I poured a glass of wine and let my creative juices flow.  

I started with the vagina I had folded in Step 3 (of main Body B). I made a head out of a dish cloth, added a do-rag and some antlers. It needed something else. Well, since I didn't need to read my towel origami book any longer, I donated my glasses to the creation.

I'm not exactly sure what species of animal it is, but I believe it's either an amphibian or a mammal.

I know it's a female. It has a vagina.  Isn't she pretty?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thanks a lot, Mom.

It all started in church about 17 years ago.

My 5-year old daughter Kimmy tugged on my sleeve and asked, “Is there a Santa Claus?” I leaned down and whispered, “We’ll talk about it later.” She insisted, “Mom, tell me! Is there a Santa Claus or not?!”  I didn't know how to answer.  I was in church. You’re not supposed to lie in church. The minute I said ‘No’, I knew I’d made a mistake.

When we got in the car she said, “I suppose you’re going to tell me that there’s no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, either.” Technically, I wasn’t in church anymore so I told her that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy were both, in fact, very real. “And I was just kidding about Santa. Wasn’t that funny?!!”

But even at 5 years of age Kimmy saw through me. She squinted her eyes at me and said, “Thanks a lot, Mom.”

I felt terrible and I made up my mind to do a better job of lying to my kids. Kids grow up fast enough. There’s no reason to rush things!

That, of course, came back to bite me.

First there was the tony nail thing. I thought it was so cute that Kimmy called toe nails ‘tony nails’ that I never corrected her. (And in my defense, she never asked me in church.) When she was about 10 years old she told me she had gotten into a fight with her best friend. “Brittany told me that my tony nails are called toe nails, not tony nails. Can you believe that? I told her she was a liar. She’s stupid, isn’t she?”

Let’s just say Kimmy was not happy with me when she found that Brittany was right. Again I heard, “Thanks a lot, Mom.”

Then there was the whole “punctuation” thing. I decided that I’d wait as long as I could to tell Kimmy about periods.

I dreaded that conversation. I mean, how do you tell your daughter that in a couple years she would spend one week a month bleeding? (Oh, and by the way, for the first day or so you will probably have cramps. Did I mention PMS… and bloating? But don’t worry, this will only last for 40 years or so.)

I planned it out perfectly. My husband dropped Kimmy off at my office one day and we went to lunch together. I tried.  Oh how I tried.  But I could not find a way to drop the p-bomb.  Every time I tried to bring it up I chickened out. I felt like a complete failure when at the end of lunch I had not even broached the subject.

But God was looking out for me. We went to the ladies’ room after lunch and while Kimmy was washing her hands she glanced at the tampon machine and said, “I don’t get it, Mom. Why would anyone pay 25 cents for a napkin when paper towels are free?”

Talk about a segue!

“Now that you mention it, there’s a very good reason for doing that! Let me explain.”

And I did. Kimmy’s response? “That’s nasty.”

And she was quick to add, “Thanks a lot, Mom.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bling it On!

Every now and then I come across a product that is absolutely perfect for me. Of course the Wine Rack was one of those products, as was the Bump It, and, of course, who could forget those Dust Mop Slippers? So, just imagine my excitement when I happened upon an ad for Bling String Hair Extensions.

According to the advertising, Bling String Hair Extensions are the perfect way to dress up and add sparkle to your hair! "It's the do-it-yourself styling sensation that lets you add flair to your hair. You just weave them into your hair and show off your sparkly side."

My sparkly side!!!  (That's my best side.)

But there was one teeny tiny problem. My favorite store, the "Sold only on TV Store", did not have any Bling String Hair Extensions in stock. 

But did that stop me? No!   I knew there had to be a way to make your own Bling String Hair Extensions at home. I really wanted to show off my sparkly side.

I started by doing what I do best: research.  I watched the "Bling it On" video on You Tube, where a girl demonstrates attaching Bling String Hair Extensions to her mom's hair. It looked like the Bling Stings were no more than blingly strings. No problem for the nerdling!  Time to go shopping.

Destination: Hancock Fabric Center where I found some very blingy thread in a variety of twinkly colors. I purchased the purple.

But before I went home, I stopped at Michael's. I needed a bling string back-up plan.

And it's a darn good thing I did. The purple blingy string was way too subtle. You couldn't see my sparkly side without an electron microscope.

Time to go the back-up plan. I took out the less subtle blingy string from the Michael's bag.  I tried a couple of the items that I'd purchased.  

But I still felt like the bling strings were not worthy of my head.  I needed something a bit more... well, a bit more me!

I had just one more item in the bottom of my Michael's bag. When I pulled it out I felt a bit nostalgic, as memories of Brownie day camp flooded my mind.

And much to my delight, the Pipe Cleaner Bling String Hair Extensions looked fabulous!  I could hardly take my eyes off them!  

And they certainly show off my sparkly side.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All Aboard Germs!

It was ridiculous. Laughable, really. But not at the time.

My family and I went on a 7-day cruise last week. We boarded the ship at noon on Saturday and were immediately met by a woman from the health department handing out health forms. The form was quite simple; it asked us if we had experienced any of the following symptoms in the previous 7 days: stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, etc.

Since Linda and Dave were both too weak from their stomach aches, vomiting, diarrhea and fevers to hold a pencil, I took the liberty of completing their forms for them.

Let me step back....It all started with my daughter Kimmy, who just returned from Europe with a not so sweet souvenir: one extremely nasty intestinal bug, which bit her on Thursday.

In retrospect, we probably should have stayed at a hotel on Friday night, but instead we brought our germ infested daughter to my unsuspecting friend Sue’s home in Jacksonville. Sue prepared a marvelous feast for my home-cooking-deprived family which was consumed without abandon. At 2 a.m. Linda woke me up to tell me she was sick.

For some reason, Linda likes company when she throws up. So I sat with her at the foot of the toilet, with one eye open and both nostrils closed. After several rounds, I felt a toothbrush was in order. It was when I went to the other bathroom to grab toothpaste that I noticed Dave was simultaneously tossing his cookies. (Thankfully, Dave prefers privacy while puking.)

It was a long night for the 3 of us.  But I was full of empathy. 

“Come on, guys! Get it out of your system! We’ve got a ship to board in 10 hours!!”

Sue and her family slept through the excitement. But she warned us, through her protective face mask, that we would have to fill out a health form at the port. “You have to lie about being sick, or they won’t let you board the ship,” she warned. Left unspoken, “because you can’t come back here…

 So I drove the debilitated duo and the convalescing Kimmy 2 ½ hours to the port and led the sickly bunch into the terminal for check in. 

“Pull it together! Stop looking so sick! And, whatever you do, don’t barf!”

We decided to find a spot for Dave and Linda to rest while Kimmy and I waited in line.

When we got to the front of the line we handed the health forms to the lady. “Where’s the rest of you?”

“Oh...you need to see David and Linda? They’re over there, lying on the floor. They’re just tired. Didn’t get enough sleep last night”

“Oh yes! They always have that slight green tint to their faces. It’s comes from my husband’s side of the family.”

They somehow stumbled their way to the counter, and with some subtle encouragement from me (an elbow to the side and a kick in the shin) they gave the required feeble grunts. The woman shook her head pathetically and allowed us to board the ship.

By Monday they were all feeling well enough to enjoy the cruise. Then it was my turn. But it was payback.

"Linda....I need some company".

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Introducing The Little Nipper Napper

Oh, how I laughed at the Snuggie.  But the Snuggie laughed back.  In fact, it laughed all the way to the bank, selling over 20 million in year one. They've since released the Snuggie for Kids, Snuggie for dogs (no, Kevin does not have one) and even Electric Snuggies. 

Why didn't I think of it first???

Considering how wrong I was about the Snuggie, I decided to give the Snazzy Napper the benefit of the doubt. For those of you who have never seen the latest product in the 'consumer polar fleece novelty blanket' category, here's a picture of it:

Yes, you are right. It's like polar fleece meets burka. Users basically strap a blanket onto their faces and nap (the blanket is complete with nose hole.)

The advertising claims are inspiring: It's the snazzy way to travel. Ideal for travel in a car, on a bus, train or airplane.

That is, if you don't mind looking like a moron.

Being the visionary nerd that I am, I decided that if the Snazzy Napper was going to become the next Snuggie, it needed some enhancements to help overcome some its obvious shortcomings (such as looking like a complete wacko while utilizing the product).

My first idea was Snazzy Napper with built in Gel Mask for Tired Eyes. That was definitely an enhancement. But I was skeptical that it would overcome the permanent psychological scar that might result from being seen in public with Snazzy Napper on one's face.

And then I had my scathingly brilliant million dollar idea.

I purchased a fleece blanket from the baby department of Walmart (for only $4.00), re-purposed the Polyurethane bladder from my Wine Rack (see June 27 post "Test Driving the Wine Rack"), and...

Voila!!! (drum roll please...)

The Little Nipper Napper

So simple. So ingenious.

As a service to my readers I test drove my Little Nipper Napper. I filled my wine rack bladder with wine, inserted it into a pocket I sewed into my Walmart blanket. The plastic straw fits right into the nose hole on my Napper, proceeding directly to my mouth (bi-passing my nose). It works!

The Little Nipper Napper has several benefits in addition to those of the Snazzy Napper.

1. The wine bladder works like a gel mask, soothing tired eyes.
2. The wine (or other beverage) facilitates your slumber.
3. But most importantly, after a while you no longer care about how stupid you look in public, sporting your Snazzy Napper.

 Look out Snuggie!  Here I come!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Shear Madness: Drama in the Hair Salon

I went to get my hair cut today. While I was sitting in the hair-chair I had a flashback.....

to Kip (alias).

A couple years ago I was looking for someone to do highlights on my hair and a neighbor recommended Kip. He did a pretty good job, although I thought he was pricey. I never had him do anything more than highlight my hair. ( I feared that a cut/highlight combination would require me taking a second mortgage on my home.)

Let me describe Kip. He had a perpetual tan, short spiky highlighted hair, and always seemed to be a bit...how should I say it...flighty. His prices always varied from visit to visit, and were never below $100.

Over time, Kip started getting a little 'blond happy' with my highlights. When someone referred to me as a blond, I looked in the mirror and had to agree. I'd been a red head since birth and all of a sudden I was starting to resemble Carol Channing. I scheduled an appointment with Kip.

I didn't notice anything unusual about Kip that day. He was perhaps a bit more animated than usual, but, he was Kip. What did I expect?

When I asked him if he could use a little less blond in the highlight formula Kip took it very personally. His reaction seemed way out of line with my request. I mean, it wasn't like I was telling him his bike shorts looked bad on him or something.

Kip introduced me to Susan, the shop owner and asked if I'd rather have her do my highlights.

"No, Kip. You do a great job," I said, feeling bad about hurting his feelings.
"I'm going to have Susan approve my color mix, so I know it's just what you want," he said.
"Kip, that's fine! Don't worry about it."
"I'd trust Susan with my own Mom's hair," Kip said.
"What?" I thought.
"Susan has been doing color for 20 years," Kip insisted.
"That's good. I'm fine, Kip"
"In fact, I'd trust Susan with my own Mom's hair," Kip said.

I plugged in my I-Pod buds, hoping to end the discussion. It worked.

When my hair was ready to be rinsed out, Kip was nowhere to be found and Susan took over. I laid back in the chair, rested my head on the lip of the sink and closed my eyes as she sprayed water onto my hair.

I heard a faint voice in my ear.
My eyes popped open. "Did somebody say something?" I said
I saw Susan's lips move.
"What?  Are you talking to me?"
"Don't let him cut your hair"
"Don't let him cut your hair," she repeated. "The doctor is playing with his meds and they're not quite right yet."
"Am I on Candid Camera?"

You may think this rather insensitive of me, but I completely enjoyed the rest of my appointment. Kip's weirdness took on more meaning. And it was way more entertaining than anything I'd seen on Jerry Springer.

When Kip began to style my hair in what can best be described as "Cave Woman with Excessive Mouse", I decided to call it quits. "Kip, I think I'll let my hair air dry today."

The most interesting part of the appointment was yet to come.  Kip looked at me and said, "I forget...how much do I charge you for highlights?"

I considered several options, but decided to play it conservatively.
"I don't remember! Why don't you ask Susan?"  When Susan said, "$60" I almost shouted, "I knew you were over charging me!"

But I'm a glass half full kind of gal. Me and my slightly less blond Cave Woman hair walked out of the salon feeling pretty darn good. We saved at least $40 on that visit.

And the entertainment was priceless.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Temptation in the Trailer

I was just like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Only I was tempted in our family travel trailer.

Let's start at the beginning. My Dad loved to tinker. He'd take things apart just to see how they worked. Perhaps because he was a child of the depression, he didn't like to throw things out. If something broke he'd save the parts for use in a future project. He was the epitome of resourcefulness.

As an example, we had a monstrosity of a picnic table that was parked in the far end of our back yard (where its bulk wouldn’t kill the grass.) It would take a minimum of 2 adults and 4 healthy kids to carry the enormous table to our back yard eating area. My 5 siblings and I dreaded moving that monster. In fact, if we got wind of the fact that that we were eating a meal outside, we would scatter like fire ants after an Amdro application.

As we grew up and began leaving the nest, my Dad was faced with a problem: how to move Big Bertha without his underage work crew. His solution: put it on wheels. I’m not sure where he found wheels strong enough to support the behemoth, but he did. Look Ma! No hernia!

Then there was the car side mirror that hung off the front of the house which allowed us to see the school bus coming down the hill. There was also some pulley system he developed using his riding lawnmower, a tree and the hammock to… well, I can’t quite remember exactly what problem he was solving with that. But I'm certain it worked. 

It should surprise nobody that when my Dad decided our travel trailer needed a radio stereo system he decided to do it himself. He got his hands on an old car radio and was attempting to install it when he realized he needed an extra set of hands. That’s how I found myself holding the soldering iron and the solder wire for him that hot August afternoon. I was about 10 years old.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment. My Dad had high hopes for me as his child prodigy. Apparently at age 3 I had no interest in toys. I wanted nothing more than to pound nails into pieces of wood all day long. “Mabel, that child is a chip off the old block!" my Dad said to my Mom. "If she can do this at 3 imagine what she will be able to do at 5! She'll be installing paneling in the living room!”

(But much to his disappointment, my construction skills peaked at 3 years of age.)

Back to that dreaded August afternoon. My Dad handed me a piece of wire and a soldering iron to hold for him until he needed it. He said, “Whatever you do, don’t touch the wire to the iron.” Then he proceeded to climb on a stool and stick his head and half of his body inside of a cupboard the size of a glove compartment.

Then the devil whispered in my ear and I began to wonder what would happen if I touched the iron to the wire. I looked at the wire, then at the soldering iron. They sure looked innocent enough. Would I get a shock? Would it make a noise? Would I break it? What could possibly happen? So I touched them together.

A ball of melting iron landed on my bare thigh.   I screamed a silent scream.

To this day I don't remember how I managed to sneak out of that trailer without my Dad hearing me. I believe I bribed my brother Tom into taking over my role as helper while I administered First Aid.

As far as I know, my Dad never found out about my little 'experiment'. I got a nasty blister on my leg that I managed to hide from my parents. But I did learn an important life lesson that day.

I'd make a lousy welder.

As post-note, my Dad passed away 7 years ago today.  I think he'd get a kick out of this posting.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Very Own Dust Mop Slippers

Today I decided to try out Dust Mop Slippers as one of the many services I provide to my readers.   Maybe you're heard of this new, exciting product.  According to the advertising, you can dust your floors simply by walking across them.

"No more kneeling and stooping to clean those out of the way places. Simply slip on these convenient slippers for a clean and sparkling floor. Frees you hands for other chores. Easily clean those out of the way places without kneeling or stooping. A great time saver!"

Wow!  Sounded like an incredible concept!  So I went to our local "Sold only on TV Store" and purchased my very own pair of Dust Mop Slippers.

I'd be lying to you if I told you I shook with excitement when I pulled my Dust Mop Slippers out of the bag. They were actually pretty lame looking. But they were my Dust Mop Slippers. I invested $9.99 in them and I was going to make the most of them.

I put them on and got to work.

Kevin has been shedding like an alpaca recently, so my Dust Mop Slippers had a big job ahead of them. I started slowly. It was not unlike ice skating on newly Zambonied ice. I glided from side to side. As I gained confidence, I moved faster. Next I slid my dust mop toes in all those hard to reach corners of my kitchen. And I scored a ton of dust bunnies.

That is, until Kevin noticed. "Attack the dust mop slippers" is his new favorite game.

Dust mopping with my slippers was certainly more fun than dust mopping with a dust mop. But, I wouldn't call it riveting. To that end, I have developed a scathingly brilliant idea for drastically improving the Dust Mop Slipper user experience. (They don't call me a marketing genius for nothing). If I can find just the right venture capitalist, I will soon be releasing "Dust Mop Slipper 2.0 complete with Dancing while you Dust DVD".

I've got it all planned. Believe me, I would not scrimp on this project. I will hire a professional to develop the Dust Mop Slipper choreography. Of course, with my extensive dance experience, I will most certainly star in the DVD. I will probably ask Tiffany and Cortlin, my stripper sisters from Gypsy, to help out. That way we will be able to demonstrate various levels of dust mop dancing (high, moderate, and low impact). This product will work for all fitness levels.

In all honesty, it will be very difficult, even with the "Dust Mop Slipper 2.0 Dancing while you Dust DVD Set", to corner the market in the recreational dusting category.

Those crafty Japanese have come up with the most incredible dusting concept ever.

Talk about developing a work ethic in your children!   

If only I had thought of this. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Flying Peasant

When I was in high school I learned about the class systems of the Middle Ages. Feudalism was the law of the land and the basis by which the upper nobility class maintained control over the lower classes. At the top of the pecking order were the kings; next came the lords with the peasants at the bottom of the barrel.

I recently experienced the United Airlines class system. Sadly, I was not a king. I was not even a lord. I was a United Airlines peasant (UAP).

My peasantry wasn't obvious to me at first. I mean, I've flown enough to know that those travelling first class get to board first. But I took note when they invited the "United First" passengers to board on the red carpet.

A Red carpet? I rolled my eyes. Their tickets probably cost 3 times as much as mind did. For that they get to walk on a red carpet. Whoopee.

Then they invited at least 5 other classes of upper nobility to board: United Business, United Economy plus, United Premiums, United Blue Bloods, and United Arrogants.

The red carpet was long gone by the time they finally got to the United Peon class. In fact, they made us crawl onto the plane across a path of broken glass and hot coals.

OK, so I made that part up.

I got in the long line with the other UAPs. And I held my head high. That is, until I boarded the plane and saw where the red carpet people were sitting.

They had their own private pods, not unlike what you would see on the Jetson's. I've worked in cubes smaller than these. Take a look! The only thing missing was a masseuse.

I was starting to get red carpet envy.

I walked numbly past the high rent district and was momentarily excited as I saw what I thought were our seats. But no, they were for the Lords (Business class).

I kept walking. And walking. Finally I reached the UAP section. I squeezed my body into the teeny tiny seat next to the other peasants. I buckled my seat belt, closed my eyes and tried not to think about those Backcycler Motion System ergonomically correct lounge chairs in the red carpet section of the plane.

I decided to think positively. It's only an 8-hour flight. I will be fine, I thought, in this toddler chair watching a movie on a screen the size of my calculator.

Then the flight attendants began to make the announcements. "For those sitting in first class, we will be around in the next 5 minutes to serve you steak and lobster. Don't worry Economy class passengers, we have a variety of stale sandwiches available for purchase. We'll be around with those in 3 or 4 hours"

My red carpet envy intensified.

"Oh, one more thing, you Economy class peons...I mean passengers. We have 2 bathrooms conveniently located for all 120 of you to share. You are not allowed, under any conditions, to pass through the blue curtains and use/soil the bathrooms of the first class or business class passengers."

I wondered if their bathrooms had jacuzzis. My red carpet envy grew out of control.

"Economy class passengers caught attempting to use bathrooms beyond the blue curtain will be forced to leave the plane."

What are they going to do? Throw us out the door?

"But we pride ourselves in our customer service. To that end, we will provide a parachute for your exit."

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Nerdling and the Pogo Stick

I've had more than a few people ask me how I ever learned learn my jump rope on a pogo stick schtick. Here's my story, and I'm schticking to it.

It all started with the Gong show, a 1970's show that was an incredibly odd mutation of a talent show and a freak show. Acts ranged from outrageously bad jugglers to contortion artists. And who could forget the twins that sat on towels on stage eating pop sickles in a sexually-suggestive manner?

I loved the Gong show. I was mesmerized by the bad talent. And when I read that there was a community Gong show at a local school, I decided to go for it. But I needed a bad act.

I settled on the pogo stick pretty quickly. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I had what you call "pogo perseverance". I could bounce forever... at least until I got hungry or had to go to the bathroom.  And I could do it with no hands. Great start, but I needed something to make it memorably bad. I decided to add a jump rope to the mix.

Perfect Gong show material.

But alas, the local Gong show was canceled. I thought my unique talent would never be showcased.

Fast forward to 1993. My daughter Kimmy was student of the week in her kindergarten class. As part of this honor, the parent(s) would come in and read a book, or talk about their career in an attempt to make the student of the week the envy of the other 5-year-olds.

When Kimmy told me that it was her turn I got very excited! "I know what we can do!" I said. "I'll do a survey of the kids....maybe ask them their favorite color! Then we can analyze their data and make a pie chart! We can color the pie slices the colors that they like." I was going on and on about this fabulous idea when I noticed that Kimmy was not on-board with my plan.

She rolled her 5-year old eyes and looked at me pleadingly. "Mom! That would be SOOOOOOOOOOOO boring! Can't you do anything else?"

I thought about it for a minute and offered, "I can pogo stick and jump rope at the same time...."

Her eyes lit up. "Are you kidding, Mom?" The rest is history. I showcased my unorthodox talent for Mrs. Hiller's morning kindergarten class. The class was completely blown away. And Kimmy has never been prouder.

Fast forward another 17 years. When Jamie,  the director of Gypsy told me she was casting actors to play worn out strippers who have gimmicks, I mentioned that I could jump rope and pogo stick simultaneously. I auditioned and got the part of Electra, whose gimmick is lighting up various parts of her anatomy while dancing.

At the script read-through we got to page 47 and Jamie said, "Lou, this is where you will be jumping rope on your pogo stick".

I believe I responded something like "Yay!", but inside my head was spinning. Crap! She really wants me to do that? Can I still do that? Where did I put that pogo stick? Do we still have a jump rope? What's my health care deductible?

But it's kind of like that saying about getting back on the horse... or is it the bicycle? You can lead a jump rope to a pogo stick but you can't make it hop.  

But in my case, it all came back to me.  And the rest is history.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I'm a dentaphobiac. And who can blame me? My dentophobia has deep roots (sorry... couldn't resist).

It started with my childhood dentist, Dr. Pozener, a masochist posing as a dentist. "Oh, little Mary Lou doesn't need Novocain today," he'd tell my Mom. "The cavity is just below the surface." Then he'd get out his 6 mm hammer drill and go to work. "Ah, quit you're sniveling," he'd say. "Is it safe?"

Fast forward to my Woody Allen dentist in Milwaukee. He was referred to me by my friend Tom (well, at least I thought he was a friend). Woody's office was in a sketchy part of town and his office was always empty. I may not have been his only patient, but I suspect I was his only patient with dental insurance.

Now I have nothing against the real Woody Allen. He is an excellent comedian and director, but would you want Woody Allen as a dentist?  

"Oops...wrong tooth" 
"Sorry about that... it's not bleeding much"
"Do you have any other friends with dental insurance you can refer to me?"

And Woody was crown happy. He replaced much of Dr. Pozener's old artwork with crowns. 

I parted ways with Woody when he wanted to put a gold crown on my front tooth.

My next dentist, Dr. Tusk had to replace the crowns Woody put on. "Did he even measure those crowns before putting them on?  Hand me the jack-hammer, Wilma" Dr. Tusk ordered. "That quack must have used Krazy glue on this thing."

Dentists have come a long way. In fact spa dentistry has become a growing trend. Dentists offer amenities like aromatherapy, heated pillows and facials. You can even have a hand massage while having a root canal.

My current dentist has taken one step in that direction. Before the hygienist sand-blasted my teeth last week she spread Vaseline on my lips with a q-tip. But something was not right with that Vaseline. It was flavored, but not the normal fruity lip gloss flavor you would expect. I couldn't immediately ask the hygienist about the flavor, being as my mouth was otherwise occupied. Then it occurred to me. My lips smelled like baby powder.

At spitting time I asked her if it was my imagination or did my lips smell like baby powder. "Oh, yes. We're using Vaseline Baby for our patients' lips now."

Involuntary gag.

Baby powdered flavored Vaseline is intended to prevent diaper rash. My lips are not at risk for diaper rash. And I don't want Baby Powdered flavored Vaseline anywhere near my mouth.

Thy hygienist made a note in my chart. 

I've requested Margarita flavored Vaseline for my next visit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dancing with the Stars

In retrospect, it may not have been the best idea to sign up for the Adult Jazz class with Tiffany. After all, I am a middle-aged white woman who does her best dancing after a margarita or two. But I couldn't resist....

The class began at 8:30 and I arrived exactly on time, brimming with enthusiasm. I got a few curious glances as I entered the studio wearing my “dance your ass off” t-shirt, dance pants, and snazzy Jazz shoes, but I figured they were just admiring my shirt.

I soon noticed that, not counting Tiffany, I was older than all the other students...by several decades. In fact, they looked like they were contestants on The Bachelor (the first indication that I was out of my league). One thing was for sure: I was not going home with a rose.

The class began with some warm up exercises led by Brittany, the instructor. We started with a dozen or so laps around the room. Then she had us jump to a squat with our hands placed on the floor, kick our feet straight back, return them under our butts and stand (repeating about 25 times). “Hey! Stop the bus!” I said. “I think we’re doing squat thrusts!”

I hadn't done a squat thrust since 5th grade and they were just as painful as I remembered.  And the bachelorettes seemed to enjoy them.

The red flags were as subtle as a sledge hammer.

As we transitioned from one torturous exercise to another I grunted to Tiffany..."Are we ever going to dance?"  

Brittany moved on to the push-ups. I looked around to see if we'd taken a wrong turn and had accidentally ended up at Fort Jackson. “If they make us scale the walls I’m outta here,” I threatened.

Finally, we got to the dancing. It started out easy enough: 8-counts of choreography. We ran through it twice and I was feeling pretty darn good about my dancing. That is, until Brittany said "Let's speed it up.” We did it double time. "Now to the music", Brittany chirped. The music was twice as fast as the double-time (e.g. quadruple time). 

"Let's move on", sang Brittany. "You'll remember this next segment from last year". Last year??  But we weren't in the class last year!

Now if this wasn't a red flag, call me colorblind.

The "segment from last year" included a pirouette. Brittany informed us that we could choose to make it a double pirouette if we preferred. Right.

My pirouette resembled a "ring around the rosie".

The pirouette was followed by a high kick...well, at least for the rest of the class. I followed up my ring around the rosie with a stubbed toe.

For the next 20 minutes it was more of:
"Let's speed it up!"
"Adding on..."
"Double time."
"Adding on..."

By 9:15 I was begging for squat thrusts.

Mercifully, the class came to an end, but not before we had to break into 2 groups and perform for each other. I was wishing my water bottle contained a margarita. On the way out Tiffany and I stopped to talk to Brittany. Tiffany jokingly asked if there was a Senior Adult Jazz class we could switch to and Brittany let her know that she could attend the Monday night Beginner Adult Jazz class.

Then she looked at me, and said (very slowly), “I’m sorry, honey, but you're out of luck. The Special Ed Jazz class is full”. 

Okay, so I made that part up.  But I could tell she was thinking it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Going for the Spray Tan

I decided to go for it. I called Sun Your Buns to set up an appointment.

      " I'm a spray tan virgin. Is there anything I need to do to prepare?"
      "Take a shower before coming and exfoliate your skin."

I start every morning with an SAT question of the day e-mailed to me. I thought my vocabulary was pretty darn good. But exfoliate? What the heck does that mean? I didn't want to sound stupid, and thought I might be able to figure it out if she used it in a sentence.

      "So, you say I have to exfoliate my skin, right?"
      "Right. Any other questions?"

That didn't help. Better be direct. 
      "Exactly how do you exfoliate your skin?"

For those of you who didn't know, exfoliating is basically scrubbing dead cells off your skin. So I exfoliated my skin.

It made me look even whiter. Not off to a good start.

I talked my co-stripper Tiffany into going with me to the tanning place for moral support. We walked in and I told the girl at the counter (let's call her "Suzie") that I wanted to look like Tiffany. She informed me that they do spray tans, not plastic surgery.

Very funny.

When I explained to her that we were playing strippers in Gypsy and I wanted shed my Boo Radley look, Suzie was so excited that she upgraded me from a Mystic Tan to a spray tan. To use a car wash metaphor, instead of driving though the tanning spray, I would have my body detailed.

I was given the choice of wearing no clothes or a disposable bra and panties. Let's just say that getting my body detailed would require Suzie looking at my body's details, so I opted for the disposable bra and panties.

There have been times in my life when I felt I'd lost my dignity, most of which involved various medical procedures (e.g. giving birth, having a mammogram, etc.) Well, when I left the dressing room in my paper bra and Tarzan-like thong on my lily white skin, wearing a plastic shower cap on my head I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. And my dignity sunk to an all-time low.

Tiffany tried to talk me into taking a picture for the blog, but I decided to protect my readers. Here's the g-rated version:

And then Suzie turned on the fire hose of tanning fluid and I turned in a slow circle, not unlike a rotisserie chicken at Food Lion. After several minutes of spray I was ready for the dry cycle. She handed me a leaf blower and before you know it my spray tan extravaganza was over.

When I walked out of the spray tan booth I looked exactly like Tiffany. Well, not really. But my skin was the same color.

And when I walked on stage last night I thought I heard a comment from the orchestra pit:

"So where'd they get that hot under-study for the albino stripper?"