I’ll Take ‘Humiliation’ for $200, Alex

A couple of weeks ago I programmed the DVR to start recording Jeopardy.  I did this because I truly love my husband.  Jeopardy allows him the rare opportunity to be right for at least 20 minutes five days a week.  He works so hard and brings so much to my life…so this makes us even, right?

I hate Jeopardy.  It makes me feel stupid.  Really stupid.

This is how it goes:  Alex reads the answer and Jack shouts out the correct question (as though volume will earn him extra points) about 95% of the time as I sit and stare at him like a dope.  Just to add insult to injury, each time he gets an answer right, he does this little (chair) dance I like to call the JersEgyptian – it’s like a blend of the Jersey Shore fist pump (with both fists) and the side-to-side head motion from the Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian video.


I’m not a stupid girl.  I simply have no retention skills (unless, of course, you count water retention, in which my skills are unrivaled.)  I have long believed that the only thing that separates the geniuses from morons is the ability to retain information.  It makes me feel better.  Especially when Jeopardy is on.

It’s not like I don’t get any answers right.  My face lights up and my heart fills with joy when there’s an entertainment category.  I have been known to leap off the sofa and scream ‘WHAT IS THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL!’ with a level of pride and satisfaction normally reserved for events like maybe your child’s high school graduation.

Just when I start to feel really disgusted with myself for my lack of knowledge of everything but the ridiculously unimportant, I remember someone even more pathetic than I am.

Alex Trebek.

From the pretentious pronunciation of foreign words to the embarrassingly exaggerated impersonations he attempts to the way he talks down to the contestants when they get an answer wrong (as though he knew the answer…HELLO, IT’S ON THE CARD YOU’RE HOLDING!) he makes the show a complete cringe-fest.

After the first break, viewers are treated to Alex making small talk with the contestants.  I’m not sure why this part is really necessary.  Before the magical DVR came into my life and allowed me to fast forward through anything remotely painful, I used to have a running conversation with my television throughout this portion of the show.

Shut up.  Really?  Shut up.  Who cares?  Shut up.  Please, Alex.  Please.  In the name of all that is holy, please stop asking them questions.  What is that woman wearing?  Who chose that outfit?  No, seriously.  Did she not know she was going to be on national television?  And her hair?  Really?  Did she really wear a plastic barrette on Jeopardy?  Would a little mascara kill her?  Seriously?  He couldn’t have washed his hair this morning?  Shut up.  Shut up.  ShutUpShutUpShutUpShutUpShutUpShutUpShutUpShutUp!!!

Aside from the random entertainment questions that allow me to feel way smart for being stupid, I have to admit to feeling inappropriately satisfied whenever a contestant gets a question about Canada wrong.  It’s even more delightful when none of them even ring in.  The look of absolute contempt on Alex’s face makes the entire torturous show almost worth watching.

It must be such a conflict for Alex to have to depend on America for his fame and fortune when America couldn’t care less about his pride and joy, Canada.  I don’t know anyone who can name all of Canada’s provinces without consulting Google.  Do they even have provinces?  Or do they have states?  Or both?  Does each state/province have a capital or is there just one capital for all of Canada?  If so, what is it?  More importantly, who cares?  All I know about Canada is that they are north of us, they have free health care and it’s so cold there that it hurts your lungs to breathe.  Also, their bacon is integral to the construction of both Egg McMuffins and Eggs Benedict.  Oh, and it’s the biggest source of pride of the man whose mission in life seems to be making himself seem smarter than he is while making me feel (even) more stupid than I am.

I think the network mercifully scheduled Wheel of Fortune to follow Jeopardy so people like me can feel better about ourselves.  Now, there’s a show I can embrace.  I once got ‘I’m Trying To Concentrate’ with just the apostrophe.  True story.  Totally did the JersEgyptian that night.


Impatient Cow

Who’s there?
Impatient Cow

The minute my family heard that joke, my nickname was established.

While I like to consider myself kind, polite and even charming on the outside, I know that on the inside I’m all ‘Come on. Come on. ComeonComeonComeon…COME ON!!!!’ for I suffer from PDD (Patience Deficit Disorder).

Driving requires almost constant deep-breathing exercises. (Seriously?  The light has been red for an eternity.  Is it that much to ask that you accelerate when it finally turns green??)  Grocery shopping is an epic battle between my love of food and my hatred of stupidity. (The aisle is designed to fit two carts. If you blindly wander into the middle, you’ve destroyed order.  Stay on your side and nobody gets hurt.)  Don’t even get me started on the DMV.  If I had to go there more than once every couple of years, I might become homicidal.

The natural enemy of those of us with PDD is the hippie.

Oh, dear God.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I love peace and harmony and free love as much as the next person.  I think war is an atrocity and marijuana should be decriminalized and people should be able to love whomever they want and flowers are beautiful and trees are necessary and blah, blah, blah.  But is it too much to ask people to…I don’t know…shower?  And maybe go all out and run a brush through their hair?  And, deodorant?  It’s our friend.  Also, stop shuffling around like you’re stoned out of your gourd.  I mean, I know you probably are (which is fine,) but maybe you could stay home and watch the Cartoon Network or Planet Earth DVDs till you come back down.

Given that I suffer from acute PDD, I think I may have made a serious tactical error when I decided to purchase a MacBook without considering the hippie factor.

Why MacBook, you ask?  For a few different reasons.  First, they’re supposed to be virtually indestructible.  Having had at least four PCs peter out on me over the past six years (and being in complete denial that it might be a user issue,) I thought it would be a good long-term investment.  Next, they’re supposed to be so user-friendly that a motivated monkey could build a website, start a business and become a mogul with one.  My my son refers to them as Fisher Price computers, so I figured it was the perfect fit for me, as I am a techno-tard.  Finally, product placement really works.  Opening my laptop and knowing that adorable little apple is lit up on the back of the screen makes me feel like Carrie Bradshaw.

So, off I went to the Apple store ready to spend whatever it would take to make my life easier (and, let’s be honest, to make me look cool.)

Have you been in an Apple store?  The place is crawling with overstimulated techno-hippie zombies.  They move in slow motion, staring at each of the products on the various tables as a choir of angels sings inside their heads.  Jockeying your way from the entrance to the Genius Bar while dodging them is like rollerskating through a daycare center with a gravel floor.

Side note: Do you think they were being sarcastic when they named it the Genius Bar?  I feel like maybe they’re kind of rolling their eyes and laughing at us behind our backs because we’re too stupid to figure out how to use our computers.

After completing my purchase, I scheduled an appointment to transfer the data from my PC to my shiny new MacBook.  On the scheduled date, I skipped into the Apple store with my antiquated PC and handed it and my shiny, hip new MacBook to one of the techno-hippie employees (an Appletini, if you will – they start talking and, before you know it, you’re drunk on Apple products.)

Me: Hi.  I’m here to drop off my PC for a data transfer.
Appletini: Your name?
Me: Donna Marshall
Appletini (punching up my information on wallet-sized handheld computer): OK, there you are Ms. Marshall.
Me (handing computers over to him): OK, cool.  Can I just wander around the mall until you’re done, or do you need me to wait here?
Appletini (tilting head slightly with just a hint of a giggle in his voice): Aren’t you precious!  (OK, so he didn’t say that, but I totally could tell he was thinking it) It’ll be ready Monday afternoon.
Me: Wait…what?  Today is Thursday.
Appletini: (blank stare)
Me (crushed): I guess I’ll see you Monday.

Monday?  Really?!?  I’ve seen my husband and son do data transfers in, like, 10 minutes.  How many computers are they working on back there?!?!

Four days later I picked up my computer.  One month later, I still can’t find most of my data on it.  Nor can I figure out how to create folders.  Or how to ‘undo’.  Or how to set up a signature on my emails.  Or how to cut and paste.

Fisher Price, my ass.

Part of the astronomical amount that I paid for my computer (which I’m pretty sure was about 25% of Trinidad’s GDP,) was a little something they call ‘One to One’ training.  Perfect, I thought, I can just pop in and they’ll walk me through everything like I’m a 4-year old!  I picked up my phone and called the store.  The 9-minute hold time (with a mix of reggae and hipster music!) should have been the first sign of things to come.

Appletini: Christiana Mall Apple store, this is Reese, how may I direct your call?
Me (excitedly): Hi!  I just bought a MacBook and I don’t have a clue how to use it.  Can I schedule a One to One (l can be there in 10 minutes)?
Appletini: You have to do that online (I don’t have time for this).
Me (deflated): Online?  You mean I just go to Apple.com and do it there (you can’t be serious)?
Appletini: Yes. You enter your Apple ID and password and it’ll walk you through the process (moron).
Me: Apple ID (this is a huge pain in my ass)?
Appletini: It was given to you when you purchased your computer (you blithering idiot).
Me: Oh…ok…I think I remember someone mentioning that when I bought the computer (no idea what you’re talking about, but I do remember getting a pile of paperwork not unlike what I encountered when I bought my house).

I was able to get an appointment A WEEK LATER.

After an hour with Camo (hand to God, that was his name,) I learned little more than how to navigate around the One to One website.  I saw him do all kinds of cool things, though.

Me: OMG!!  How did you do that?!?
Appletini: We’ll get to it eventually.  There’s a lot to learn; it’s best not to get overwhelmed. Be patient.
Me: (blank stare)

I think it might be in everyone’s best interest if I decided to forego further in-store training, opting instead to learn what I can from the One to One website and maybe consulting Google for the rest.  Google is more my speed; it never makes me wait more than a second for what I need.

In The Doghouse

When I was a child, my dad brought home the cutest little puppy.  She was a black cocker spaniel/French poodle mix.  He named her Zola after gorgonzola cheese.

That’s right.  Gorgonzola cheese.

My sister and I came home from school about a week later and Zola was gone.

‘I sent her to obedience school,’ my mother said.  We later found out that Zola’s lack of bladder control had driven my mother to call a radio station and offer her up to the first person who called her.  My mother was (and continues to be) a clean freak.  She dusts and vacuums her house three times a week and washes her kitchen floor twice a week (she moves the refrigerator each time).  She also dusts her walls.  No joke.

Zola didn’t stand a chance.

That was the end of pet ownership for us.  Well, except for a parakeet we had for several years .  FYI, parakeets are pretty lame pets.  We’d have had about as much fun with a pet rock.

My parents are Italian immigrants.  Over the years, I’ve learned that Italians (at least the ones to whom I am related) are not really dog people.  I have a cousin in Italy who lives on a farm and has hunting dogs.  He reportedly loves his dogs tremendously, but they live in a giant outdoor cage.  He doesn’t even let them come in when the weather is below freezing.  I stare at my three dogs – one in a flannel-lined denim jacket, one in a fleece-lined ski jacket and one who gets chiropractic adjustments on a routine basis – and think of how they react when it takes me more than 30 seconds to open the door once they’ve done their business.  Different worlds.

My aunt came to visit from Italy a few years ago.  She tried her best to mask her horror when she saw my dogs – not only in the house, but ON THE FURNITURE.  It was as though she had stumbled upon a cow and a pig milling about my living room.

I’m not sure how I ended up with three dogs.  I certainly didn’t mean to.

The first pets I ever owned were cats.  We had just moved into our first home.  It was new construction on what was previously a cornfield.  You know who else lives in cornfields?  Mice.  Lots of them.

We had the most brazen mice living in our home.  I could hear them scratching in the attic and the walls.  I would be wide awake in bed – intermittently enraged as I listened to my husband snore and terrified as I listened to the mice scratch away.  In the evenings, they would dash across the living room floor as we watched TV.  I would stand on chairs and scream like those women in old-school cartoons:

Me: AAAAAAHHHH!!!!  GET IT!!!  GET IT!!!!!
Jack: What? Get what?
Me: The mouse!  Didn’t you see that mouse?!?  It went right around that corner!!!  ARE YOU BLIND?!?!  Why are you still sitting there?!?!  GO GET IT!!!
Jack: (moving in slow motion to the corner) Huh. Looks like he got away.
Me: (fuming)  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?!?  Are you trying to piss me off?!?!

Ten minutes later, I’d hear a trap snap and I’d immediately start crying like a baby.

Me: (sobbing)
Jack: What’s wrong with you?
Me: I feel so bad!  They were just trying to stay warm!
Jack: You can’t be serious.

The fact that he didn’t smother me in my sleep is a testament to his patience.

I ended up adopting two kittens from the SPCA one day after work.  Within two weeks, the problem was solved.  Of course, I started to refer to the stretch of sidewalk from the front door to the driveway as ‘the walk of horrors’ because it was littered with mouse, bird and bunny carcasses, but at least there were no mice inside the house.

I liked the cats fine and treated them well, but I never felt particularly close to them.  Several years later, I decided it was time to get a dog for my son.  I didn’t really care for dogs or want to own one, but he was 12 and I thought every little boy should have a dog. I loved my son and was willing to tolerate the presence of a smelly dog in my house to make him happy.  So, off we went to the SPCA where he picked Maggie (our lab mix).

Within 24 hours of walking through our front door, Maggie crawled into my heart and has yet to leave.  She is a lazy lump of a dog, which means she’s a perfect fit for our family.  She spends her days sprawled out on the floor sleeping.  She gets up only to eat, drink, go out to pee and beg for treats.  So she pretty much mimics me.  Unfortunately, she enjoys snacking on other dogs from time to time.

About a year after adopting Maggie, we went back to the SPCA and adopted Rocco (our Jack Russell Terrier – or Terrierist, as my husband refers to him.)   Loving and sweet with humans, he is pure white (supremacist) trash when confronted with other dogs – especially black dogs.  It is very humiliating and disconcerting to live with a racist.  He spends 90% of his day plotting against our newest dog and the remaining portion sleeping.  His breath could peel the paint off of the walls, but we love him dearly.

Seven years later (last June,) we headed to the Humane Association and adopted Frankie (our chihuahua/French bulldog mix.) Frankie is, by far, the most friendly of the three.  And the most trouble.  He digs, he bites and he chews things.  We believe he may be part cricket (based on his ability to repeatedly jump about two feet into the air from a standing position) and part cat (based on his love of yarn, his joy of crawling along the back of the sofa and his recently-developed habit of clawing at our faces.)  We are also pretty certain that he is, ahem…developmentally disabled (based on his pleasant demeanor, his lack of grace and his inability to grasp simple concepts like, for instance, ‘that dog is sick of you and is going to maul you’.)  He is the bane of Rocco’s existence, but misreads Rocco’s rage as an invitation to play.  Because, again, he’s a bit…slow.  His cuteness is his secret weapon. It makes it impossible to stay mad at him.

Like many dog owners, I have grown to like dogs more than I like most people.  They are a pain in the ass, they make a mess, they don’t always smell great and they’re pretty expensive to maintain.  But I truly believe they offer humans the only true unconditional love they will ever receive.  And for that reason, I will continue to open my home and my heart and my wallet for them.  Just don’t tell my parents.

Oprah Dope

I tore open a bag of potato chips in the Acme parking lot tonight, dove in and chain-ate them the entire way home.  Is that bad?  I’m thinking that the raw feeling I have in my mouth may be an indication that it is.

It’s totally Oprah Winfrey’s fault.

Oprah’s guest today was Roseanne Barr.  They were talking about how Roseanne now lives on a macadamia nut farm.  Because I have ADD, my mind went from macadamia nuts to peanuts to potato chips in the span of about 30 seconds.  And that’s where it stopped.  I became so consumed with the thought of delicious, salty potato chips that I could barely focus on the rest of the show, so off to the grocery store I went.  I made a beeline to those potato chips and immediately took the fact that they were on sale as a sign from the grocery gods that our union was meant to be.  It took everything I had not to open the bag while I shopped.

My potato chip binge is definitely not a good thing considering the fact that I am on a strict calorie-counting diet.  And by ‘strict’, I mean ‘destined to fail’ because math is not my strong suit.  Also, I am a lazy girl whose two greatest loves are food and television (my husband and son are tied for third.)  Not exactly a recipe for weight loss success.

I should have known better than to watch Oprah – or ‘God’, as she refers to herself (OK, so maybe not out loud, but we all know she’s thinking it.)  She used to be a mainstay in my DVR. I would hang on her every word, buy every book she recommended, see every movie she promoted and purchase virtually everything she ever mentioned liking.  Her ‘Favorite Things’ show would leave me light-headed.

Then something changed.  It started with her sanctimonious parenting tips.  I was working full-time and raising two small children with a husband who was a shift worker.  My house was a temple to chaos, my schedule was crazy and my life was plain exhausting. And there was oh-so-enlightened Oprah doling out advice on how to raise  children when she had never had, lived with or even worked with a child.  Puh. I was certain I was going to sprain my eyeballs from rolling them so violently.  It’s pretty easy to tell parents to be rational and calm when their kid, say, sets the sofa on fire if you’ve never had to endure so much as a dirty look from a child.

My love for Oprah was already wavering, then came the bitch-slap heard ‘round the world: the interview with James Frye, author of A Million Little Pieces.  For the three of you who don’t know the story, James wrote an amazing book about overcoming addiction.  It was billed as a memoir, but it turned out to be an embellishment of sorts.

OH. MY. GOD.  How dare he write…a novel?

I loved that book.  I didn’t care if it was true or not; it was beautifully written.  Of course, Oprah didn’t see it that way.  She could have just shrugged her shoulders and moved on with her life after finding out that the story wasn’t 100% true, but no.  No.  Not Oprah.  Not if there was an opportunity to make it about her.  She invited him back on the show to allegedly clear the air and let him explain himself.  Instead, she spent the entire show dressing him down and humiliating him on national television.  It was painful to watch.  He was so caught off-guard by the attack that he could barely speak.  Meanwhile, her ego burst out of her unflattering outfit Incredible Hulk-style, never to return to its normal size again.

[Side note: No, seriously.  Who dresses Oprah?  I am constantly amazed at the unfortunate wardrobe choices they’re making for her.]

Her demeanor changed after that interview.  She no longer seemed ‘real’ to me.  She would have guests come on her show and fawn all over her – ‘You’re an icon, Oprah’, ‘You’ve done so much good in the world, Oprah!’, ‘You’ve changed so many lives, Oprah!’ – while she just sat there purring and licking her paws without an ounce of humility or modesty.  One day, she even went as far as to invite every talk show host she had left in her wake – Phil Donahue, Ricki Lake, Sally Jesse Raphael, Geraldo Rivera and Montel Williams – so she could hear each of them blather on about her untouchable talent.


And so my love affair with Oprah is officially over.  It’s for the best because 4:00 is a good time to start getting things done around the house before my husband gets home from work.  You know, so he doesn’t think I’ve just been sitting around the house eating potato chips and watching TV all day.

Shape the Ta-Tas

I reached into my coat pocket today and found a sock.  Just one.  It’s been there for about three weeks.  I know this because this was easily the tenth time I’ve reached into my pocket, felt it, questioned what it could be, pulled it out, rolled my eyes, reminded myself to put it away and shoved it back into my pocket.  I had found it in the trunk of my car after a recent trip to Virginia (it had somehow gotten separated from its mate.)  I was already running late, so I just shoved it into my pocket thinking I would put it away when I got home.  It is a metaphor for my life.

Side note:  I used a 12pt Sarcasm font for the part of my resume that says ‘outstanding organizational skills’.

Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mother’s love of order (or her love of cooking, cleaning and waiting on her husband hand and foot.)  My husband can find some solace in the fact that I also did not inherit her love of expensive clothing.  Of course, that may be less about defying genetics and more about body composition.

There was a time – back in my 20s – when my greatest joy was shopping.  I felt as much at home at the mall as I did on my sofa.  My body has changed quite a bit since then.  It’s not just that it has gotten (considerably) bigger; it’s that it has kind of…shifted.  Lower.  And wider.  I’ve searched far and wide and have yet to find a store that caters to my body type/shape – pizza dough butternut squash.  The quest for clothes that will fit, be flattering and maybe even give the illusion that I weigh 20lbs less (ok, 40lbs less) is demoralizing.  I have a better chance of finding a unicorn in my linen closet.

Take today, for instance.  I decided to go bra shopping, which I’ve decided is even worse than bathing suit shopping because, as disturbing as it is to see my bathing suit-clad reflection in a fitting room mirror, there is comfort in the knowledge that I will only be seen in the bathing suit on rare occasions.  The bra, however, is another story.  The bra is the accomplice.  The bra and its owner work together to create an illusion.  A good bra is at least as important to the female psyche as good hair, good shoes and good friends.  An ill-fitting bra is like a friend who can’t keep a secret.

My bras are the National Enquirer of undergarments.

It’s not entirely my bras’ fault, though.  Holding up my breasts has to be exhausting.  I can almost hear my bras sigh with relief when I take them off.  I’m a 36D, but not the good kind you see in Victoria’s Secret catalogs.  My breasts are simply A-cups that were stretched and (rather unceremoniously) dropped. Lifting them and keeping them in place requires Herculean strength and endurance.  Most bras give in after a few weeks.

Side note: Someone needs to invent Viagra for breasts.  It would fly off the shelves.  I would accept virtually any side effect if I could take a pill that would lift my breasts – even for just a few hours.  And I would never contact my doctor if it lasted more than four hours (except to say thank you.)

I dragged Jack to the Vanity Fair outlet for moral support (and to hold my coat while I was in the fitting room.)  Normally, I avoid taking him shopping with me because he’s a bit of a retail anchor.  He either stands three feet away from me with the most pathetic look of boredom on his face, or he asks if I would mind if he waits in the car while I shop.  He’s usually better at the Vanity Fair outlet, though.  It has endless racks of inexpensive clothes (really inexpensive, like t-shirts for $1.87.)  He’s like a kid in a candy store.  He stocks up on work shirts and jeans, then he spends an inordinate amount of time looking at their (often inappropriate) novelty t-shirts.

Speaking of inappropriate novelty items, during our recent trip to Florida, Nancy took us to the Daytona Flea Market.  It was the best people-watching experience I’ve ever had – white trash and bad hair as far as the eye could see!  At one point, Jack stopped to get a beer while Nancy and I strolled along looking at the different offerings that were available.  As we walked past a table of baseball hats, I pointed to one that said ‘Don’t Ask Me 4 Shit’ and made some kind of snide remark about the type of person who would buy that hat.  About three minutes later, Jack caught up with us.  He had a beer in one hand, a bag in the other and a huge grin on his face as he pulled his new hat out of the bag.  True story.

So, aside from having to shoot him down when he wants to buy, say, a fleece-lined hooded jean jacket or a t-shirt with a muscular torso graphic on the front of it, he’s usually pretty good about being patient and keeping himself entertained at Vanity Fair.  Good thing, because I spent over an hour finding and trying on eight different bras and couldn’t find one that fit right.  Depressed and disgusted, I gave him the bad news as we approached the register:

Me: You know how you said I could get a tummy tuck?  Well. I think I’m going to have to get new boobs, too.
Jack: You know what I’m going to get?
Me: No, what?
Jack: A second job.


I think I’m going to go shopping for a new handbag tomorrow.  They still fit perfectly.

The Gift Of Silence

The holiest day of obligation in relationships, Valentine’s Day – or, as it’s referred to in our house, ‘February 14th’ – is upon us.

Back when I was a young (naive, idealistic, stupid) bride, Valentine’s Day was easily the worst day of the year for me.  I would wake up in the morning, look over at my husband and know – just know – that this was the year he would come through with a huge romantic gesture that would leave me swooning and would make me the envy of all of my friends.

Or not.

In retrospect, I blame soap operas.  Their portrayal of men as tender-hearted, poetic, chivalrous puppies so overwhelmed with love for their mate that thoughts of her would consume their doctor/lawyer/mogul days is a filthy lie.  I am convinced that all soap opera writers are either women or gay men, because there is simply no such thing as a heterosexual man who behaves like that.

My husband, who brings more good qualities to the table than this girl could begin to deserve, is not a good gifter; therefore, Valentine’s Day (and every other gifty holiday) is almost guaranteed to end in bitter disappointment.

It’s not like it wasn’t clear from the giddy-up that gifts would be an issue.  The very first gift he ever gave me was an acrylic dusty rose sweater with horizontal white stripes.  Aside from the fact that I am fair-skinned with red hair (or at least my hair was red back then,) making dusty rose quite possibly the worst color choice imaginable, I am a curvy girl.  And by ‘curvy’, I mean ‘heavy’.  Horizontal stripes – especially white ones – are like a flashing neon ‘WAIT…DID YOU SEE THIS ROLL??’ sign.

Our first Christmas as newlyweds, I practically elbowed my six-year old daughter out of the way so I could get to my gift.  I tore open the wrapping paper to find…a dictionary and a thesaurus.  True story.

Me: Really?
Jack: I thought you really liked words.
Me: …

We officially stopped exchanging gifts after The Great Mother’s Day Debacle.  Mother’s Day is kind of important to me.  Not because I think I am a good mother (for, as we already established with the Unfortunate Leash Incident, I am not,) but because I am a Christmas baby.  Stick with me…Christmas babies don’t get the usual fanfare others get on their birthday.  So, I’ve always kind of considered Mother’s Day to be a back-up fanfare day of sorts.

Side note: My son was born on Mother’s Day.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

Anyway…I wasn’t expecting anything elaborate or expensive, for we had been married for about six or seven years at the time and I knew the drill by then.  I was thinking maybe something along the lines of breakfast in bed and a day of being pampered by my family.

Not so much.

It was a lazy Sunday morning.  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and I could hear Jack and the kids milling about in the kitchen.  Rather than go downstairs and ruin their attempts to surprise me with breakfast in bed, I decided to stay put and wait for my servants to come to my bedside to greet me.  Before long, I heard the children running excitedly up the stairs.  They charged into the bedroom, faces beaming, with a regular white envelope and what appeared to be a white shipping envelope (you know, like the kind your Ebay stuff comes in.)

Me (grabbing the envelopes out of their hands): Oh, thank you so much!
Mat: Dad wants to know what’s for breakfast.

Ignoring that last part, I tore open the regular envelope to find a gift certificate for a massage.  Wow!  That’s a pretty good gift!  Maybe he’s finally turned the corner on gift-giving!  I could hardly contain myself as I tore open the other envelope!  Imagine my surprise horror when I reached into the envelope and pulled out a teal-trimmed black lace corset (without the bra part – you know, so my boobs would just kind of…hang there) IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN.  A size medium, no less.

Turns out he turned the corner and walked right into a brick wall.

I shoved the atrocity back into the envelope, bolted out of bed and flew downstairs (sans broom) in a rage.

Me (shaking bag in fist):  SERIOUSLY?!?!
Jack (beaming with pride, horny twinkle in his eyes): Do you like it?
Me (enraged): WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?
Jack (confused and frightened): What?  I thought it was hot.  You don’t like it?
Me:  I can’t believe you sent this upstairs WITH OUR CHILDREN!!! It’s MOTHER’S DAY, you moron, not Valentine’s Day!!!!  Who gives their wife raunchy lingerie for MOTHER’S DAY?!?!  And what’s with the size medium –  ARE YOU MOCKING ME?!?!

I turned and stormed back upstairs before he could respond.

After waiting a few minutes (probably to ensure his safety,) he skulked upstairs and got into the shower.  While he was showering, I paced back and forth in the bedroom desperately trying to figure out what would possess him to think that gift would be well-received.  Then I decided to give him a peek at his unbelievably inappropriate gift in action.  I tore the nasty thing out of the envelope and squeezed my fat self into it.

Please use your imagination (and antacid) and picture my size large (though closer to extra large) body in a size medium (though closer to small) teal-trimmed, braless black corset – curling up at the bottom for it lacked the elasticity to overcome the enormous girth of my belly, and covered about a third of the way from the top by my sagging boobs, the end result appearing to be a very tight teal-trimmed, black lace belt across my waist – standing in the middle of the bathroom, slightly hunched with my feet about a foot apart and my arms wide open as he opened the shower curtain.

Jack: (uncontrollable laughter)

And that marked the end of our gift-giving days.  It wasn’t worth the headache for either of us.  Now, for the good of our marriage (and my self-esteem,) we are like Jehovah’s Witnesses – holidays are treated just as any other day (for every day’s a holiday with Jack!) and gifts are strictly forbidden.  If there’s something I want, I buy it myself.  His gift to me is silence when the credit card bill comes.  Turns out silence is, in fact, the greatest gift of all.

Crappy Trails

Today’s entry is brought to you by bitter disappointment sprinkled with a healthy dash of rage.

It’s about 8:00 in the evening, and I am on USAirways flight 1608 from Orlando to Philadelphia in a seat that was designed for a small child or Victoria Beckham.

Seriously, my hips are pressed against each of the arm rests.

Jack is on my left and a silent Asian man is on my right.  He is sleeping – bless his heart – blissfully unaware of the evil that sits beside him.

It is Superbowl Sunday.

The plane is wobbling to the point that my terror is at Level Orange, and I am extremely thankful for the thin layers of clothing that separate me from the stranger beside me.

Did I mention that it’s Superbowl Sunday?

Behind me sit a Rutgers student studying criminology, a hedge fund manager who lives in Malvern and works in Philly, and a Giants fan.  I know this because the hedge fund manager hasn’t shut up since he sat down.  He is a Jets fan.  He is married.  He has children. He would prefer to live closer to the city.  He knows how to go places where he gets things for free.  He does not care for the Giants and didn’t skip a beat telling the poor guy next to him how sorry he feels for him for being ‘stuck with’ Eli Manning.

Clearly, he doesn’t recall Eli taking home the Vince Lombardi trophy a few years ago.

If not for the fact that I am too firmly wedged into my 6×8-inch seat to even consider scratching my nose, much less getting up,  I might have smashed my computer over his head by now.

Each time the plane wobbles, I shoot a terrified look at Jack who simply shakes his head ‘no’, as in ‘no, honey, that one’s not going to kill us, either,’ while never moving his eyes from the Angry Birds game that has held him captive since the first time he saw it.

Side note:  I really think that game would be more exciting/entertaining if it had a ‘WEEEEEE!’ sound effect every time a bird is launched.  You know, like the pig from the Geico commercial.

Our visit with Nancy and Brett was fantastic – wonderful friends, beautiful accommodations, great meals, a comfortable bed and non-stop laughter.  Who could ask for anything more?

Wait…what?  The weather?  Funny thing about that.  Evidently, it was sunny and warm until about 30 seconds before our plane touched down in Orlando, at which time the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees.

‘This is so weird,’ Nancy kept saying, ‘it’s not like it never rains, but it usually only lasts about 20 minutes then it’s beautiful again.’

Except that’s not weird.  Not for the Marshall family.  We are world famous for poor vacation planning.  And by ‘we are’, I mean ‘I am’.  As much as I would love nothing more than to be able to blame Jack (for ‘blame sponge’ is his official title,) I am the one who books our vacations.

When the kids were little, we used to like to go to the beach the week leading into Labor Day.  Prices were a little lower, plus we got the extra vacation day when we got home.  Two years in a row, hurricanes came up the coast and closed the beach while we were there (the second time it happened, we went home mid-week because we were going broke keeping the kids entertained.)

Another year, there was a horrible heatwave/drought throughout the summer that ended the day we checked in (the temperature dropped to the mid-50s and rained the entire week.)

Yet another year, we decided to go on a group trip to Disneyworld with Jack’s company.  It rained the entire time and a tornado was rumored to have touched down in Disneyworld. There was an uprooted palm tree laying on its side on the property – fairies with pixie dust had to be dispatched to upright it. True story.  Somewhere we have a picture of a miserable, bespectacled 6-year old Mat wearing a hooded yellow rain poncho with Mickey Mouse ears on top of his head.

Co-workers: I thought you were in Florida.  Why aren’t you tan?
Me: Take a guess.

So, no.  The weather didn’t surprise us at all.  To be honest, we really didn’t mind it.  Sure, it would have been nice to come home with a tan, but we were happy to not be in the freezing cold for a few days.  Also, it was nice to see grass instead of snow for a change.

Traveling reminds me of why I don’t travel.  A pleasant travel experience requires Ghandi-style tolerance and patience, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a bear of very little tolerance and patience.

Speaking of which, remind me never to fly USAirways again.  I managed to book two round-trip tickets for about $350 a little over a month ago.  In retrospect, it was probably the Stupid People’s Superbowl Discount.  While we were in Florida, we decided to try to change our flight.  Brett travels a lot for work, so he has something like a billion USAirways miles and was gracious enough to offer to use his miles to pay for our ticket changes.

How much could that possibly cost – $50?  Wrong.  Try $150 per ticket.  Plus a $25 per ticket ‘reservation service fee’ (for the keystrokes, I presume.)  Plus the difference in the ticket price.  The total would have come to about $500.  That’s right, $150 more than the total cost of the trip to move my flight less than 12 hours.  Oh, and they wouldn’t let Brett use any of his billion miles. Nope.  It would have to be paid for with real money.

When we got to the gate in Orlando, I approached the scowling woman at the counter who apparently didn’t see me (totally my fault; I forgot to deactivate my cloaking device.)

Me: Ahem…excuse me.
Wicked: [blank stare]
Me: My husband is wearing a back brace.  Would it, by any chance, be possible to get more comfortable seating?
Wicked: All the seats are the same.  If he’s wearing a back brace, I can’t give him bulkhead seating.
Me: Any chance we can get bumped to first class?
Wicked: There’s only one seat left in first class; it’s an extra $100.

Of course it is.  I mean, why let the guy with the back brace sit in first class when it’s just as easy to leave the seat empty? Way to pay it forward, lady.

And so here I sit on a cramped, loud, wobbling plane, praying that I don’t end up pregnant by the end of the trip and hoping I can convince Jack that driving to Florida couldn’t possibly be as bad as everyone says it is.  Maybe we could even schedule our next trip for Christmas morning.  It would pretty much guarantee a white (and icy!) Christmas.