How to make cleaning toilets more enjoyable.

In an effort to make cleaning toilets more enjoyable, I’ve made a game out of it. I recommend you try this; it’s endless fun.

After playing this game with some regularity and frequency, I’ve been forced to do a bit of soul searching and I’ve come to realize I’ll never be a hall-of-famer at this game. Sadly, I will not even be an all-star or team captain. Heck, I’ll never even make Varsity. Thusly, I’ve come to a difficult decision. I’m bowing out. And retiring the toilet brush. I’m not gonna play this game anymore.

Instead—I’ve decided to coach.

Luckily, I already have two extremely promising recruits. I believe with a little training and a lot of practice they’re gonna take this toilet cleaning game by storm. The bathroom will not just be their playing field, but their oyster. They don’t know any of this yet, of course, because they’re still second-guessing their abilities and displaying a lack of confidence. But these kids are young. They’ve got a bright future. The funny thing is, as green as they are, they’re not shy about expecting the big bucks! Slow down! This ain’t the NBA, kids! Am I right?
You gotta clean a load of toilets before you make it to the big leagues.

Summer’s Hottest Trends: Fashion Deja Vu

photo by Dorret

photo by Dorret

Last weekend I got dressed for a party and selected a shirt at my daughter’s urging. This shirt was purchased at my daughter’s urging in a moment of merciless exhaustion. The kind of exhaustion one experiences after shopping with one’s teenage daughter for long hours with a no-end-in-sight spirit. Hours linked together by caffeine runs and bathroom breaks. It was the kind of purchase necessary so that mother and daughter could walk through the lovely vacation town with synchronized swinging bags in their grasp.

This shirt has proven my long-held belief that certain things which appear attractive on vacation, very well may let you down in the real world. (Of course the origin of that belief refers to vacation boyfriends, but clothes and accessories also apply.)

I had been fortunate enough to keep this garment under wraps in my closet for months.

Until the day of the party.

I was naively unaware that it would take thirty minutes, certain special undergarments, a roll of fashion tape and an owner’s manual to get into it. Certainly I would have chosen something else to wear. I also would not have chosen the shoes, worn at my daughter’s urging, which demanded I walk with both arms outstretched, as if I were an airplane, just to keep my balance and dignity. Nor would I have worn my hair in a style, at my daughter’s urging, which only looked good standing in front of a fan or if I were to sprint the perimeter of the backyard party in order to simulate the wind-swept carefree, effortless style. A forewarning: sprinting is not the preferred option here, as it will certainly cause you to “glisten” in all the wrong places. Forewarning #2: fashion tape does not hold up to a deluge of perspiration. Once the tape gives way you are limited to very few body positions and stances, and for God’s sake, do not sit down! Unless, of course, you have the posture of a brick wall. Also, needless-to-say, once the deluge has begun it’s best to put your arms down.

Forewarning #3: wind-swept hair only looks good while the wind is still sweeping. Once the wind dies down you will look something like Lindsay Lohan after a breaking-probation-all-nighter.

Did you know that it’s beyond chic to wear a different nail color on each of your ten fingernails? I was urged to do just that in order to complete my insanely current ensemble.

As I stood there at the party, wearing a shirt meant for someone else, heels that made my ankles wobble, a hair nest I was certain living things had found refuge in and a rainbow manicure, I had a strange deja-vu. It took a few minutes for me to crystalize the faint recollection that I had been in this position before. But when I did it brought a smile to my face.

It was kindergarten. With a jumble of five-year-olds at the dress-up box.

Grab Your Flashlight, We’re Going Back-To-School Shopping

“What do you think of this?”  My daughter held something up for me to see.    If I squinted I could detect the outline of a shirt, dimly lit from behind.

“Wait a second,” I said, “my eyes need to adjust.”  My rods and hadn’t yet adapted to the near darkness of the store.

We had just walked into Hollister at the mall.  It was 95 degrees out, but I knew to bring a sweater, which I quickly slipped into as the arctic frost greeted us with a firm shake.  If that didn’t wake you, their signature fragrance blasted out from the a.c. ducts (my theory) and immediately hit you with a gagging level of fragrance.  I zipped up to my chin and hugged myself to keep any body warmth inside my sweater−hoping to create a terrarium.  The sudden drop in air temperature shocked my nervous system, even my hair−long dead−was shivering.  Two minutes in and I was already miserable.

I trailed my daughter and tried to stay close on her heels for fear of losing her.  Not that she’s a toddler and prone to wandering off, but I was afraid she’d disappear into the darkness, an atmosphere unique to stores like Hollister and Abercrombie−with lighting that makes the Adams Family dungeon look downright cheery.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young girl with long hair in tight jeans standing next to a table of sweaters.  The sweaters looked like heaven.  If she weren’t standing there I’d have dived onto the table and wiggled underneath them.  Who would have seen me?

The girl said something to me but I couldn’t hear her.  “I’m sorry, what was that?” I said.  Of course I couldn’t hear her.  I couldn’t hear my own thoughts in my own head.  The music pulsated and throbbed against every surface of the store, including my chicken skin flesh.

“Excuse me?” I said.  Again she mouthed something.  It was one syllable.  Starting with an “h” possibly?  Help?  Could she be asking me for help?  She wasn’t moving−maybe she was frozen.

I took a step closer.

“I said, Hi!” she said, this time throwing up a hand to wave hello.  Just then I wondered if employee training at Hollister included signing.  Trust me, that skill would not be a wasted here.

“Oh, hi.”  This shopping experience was already taking too much effort.

My daughter had grabbed a few things and headed to the dressing room.

The first pair of jeans did not fit so well.  My daughter is thin, but the jeans were thinner.  She sent me out to get the next size.  I stood at the jeans table and fingered through a stack with stickers that said, 00, 0, 1, 3, 3R, 5.  I thought about my thin fourteen-year-old daughter in the dressing room in the size 3−she wouldn’t be able to bend over and tie her shoes if her life depended on it.  What must the 00 look like?  And whose idea was it to call it 00?  Could a 00 possibly find that flattering?

I turned to the Super Skinny salesgirl and mouthed my next question like I was in a foreign country speaking to someone who did not share my first language.  “What’s the diff-er-ence be-tween a 3 and a 3-R?”  (I held up three fingers.)

“Nothing,” she said, “they’re both the same.”  Both the same?  If they were both the same, why would they be labeled differently?  Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to only print one label instead of two if there were no difference in the size?  I wanted to ask her that.  I knew it would just frustrate me.  Did I really need to go into Merchandising 101 with the salesgirl?

My daughter loved the way the 5s fit.  They were bright pink and very cute.  She could really use a pair of denim ones.  We returned to the jeans table.  There were no “blue” jeans on the table.  Just an array of bright colors.  I turned to see if the salesgirl was still in her spot.  Yes.  She was still there.  My daughter approached her this time asking if there were any blue jeans in the same cut as the others.

The girl said, “What we have is all we have.”

My daughter turned to me with a look that said everything, “We’re on our own, Mom.”

I took out a pair of glasses from my handbag, opened my cellphone for some light and grabbed a pair of 5s from the wall.  Then my daughter and I felt our way to the cashier, paid, and bolted for the door, while colliding with another customer and getting accosted by a palm tree.

I didn’t go to business school, but I’m pretty sure that one of the basic signs of a successful store is its ability to keep customers in the shopping environment for as long as possible.  Not to have them racing out for the light of day, the warmth of the outdoors, the quiet of their own thoughts and wheezing from fragrance inhalation.  Happy shopping!

Burned at Both Ends

When I was a child my parents lived by the adage: children are to be seen, not heard and that other one, children speak only when spoken to. Though I may have had thoughts, questions, comments, theories, ideas, advice, stories, jokes, insights, musings, songs, confusion, I kept them to myself.  Well, at least I tried.  When my mom would bump into a neighbor at the grocery store and talk about how the mailman was delivering the wrong letters to the wrong houses I was itching to tell them what I saw he carried around in his mail bag and dipped into every few houses, but I held my tongue.  When my mom served dinner and the vegetable du jour was lima beans−which made the acids in my stomach so turbulent even the Titanic would have steered clear, I would close my eyes, open my mouth and insert those beans one at a time with a long swallow of milk, gulping them down without ever letting them touch my taste buds.  Never would I have dreamed of sharing aloud my real thoughts on lima beans.  Nor would I have refused to eat them, lest I’d hear about the starving children in India whom my mom talked about more frequently than family.

As young children, my brothers and I would quickly relinquish the small black and white television when my dad came home from work.  Dad got the best chair and his pick of the channels.  His arrival home would determine what time we ate dinner and he, the breadwinner, always got the best part of the steak−the sliver of meat that ran along the bone.  The kids got the well-done ends.  I had no idea what the best part tasted like but my eyes would widen and my mouth would juice up when my mother passed the dinner plate under my nose across the table to my father’s outstretched hands.

By the time I was in my teens, I became obsessed with a single thought: just wait till I’m an adult.  I would ponder how scrumptious it must be to rule the roost.  I couldn’t wait to be an adult to eat the best part of the steak.

Fast forward twenty-five years.  You could probably imagine my shock and dismay to discover that being a parent in the 21 century isn’t all it was cracked up to be.   Like when my daughter was old enough to start eating real food, my husband cut her steak into tiny pieces and passed it under my nose across the table to her outstretched hands.  “Here you go sweetie,” he said, “the best part of the steak, it’s nice and tender.”  What?!?  Huh?  The best part of the steak for a three year old?!?  I was waiting twenty-five years for that bite!  Nor was I prepared for my toddlers refusal to eat anything I cooked unless it came out of a purple and yellow box with a bunny on it.  I got arms pretzel-locked across the chest for merely suggesting carrots.  There were nights when all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and watch a good movie, but my husband would glare at me for even contemplating switching off The Muppets Christmas, often our kids’ only sleep elixir.  Try to have an adult conversation out on your front lawn with the neighbors without someone’s kid barrelling up and interrupting because they can’t find their soccer cleats, or they need a ride somewhere, or five dollars for the ice cream truck.  Even if there were no kids in sight, adult conversations are inevitably about them, their sports, their grades, their activities.

How did this happen?  How did it happen that when I was a kid, adults ruled, and now that I’m an adult, kids rule?

Is it possible that people of my generation will be victims of ageism at all our life stages?  Call me naïve, but I’m holding out hope.  It’s still possible that when I’m a senior, seniors will rule.

I just pray I’ll still have my teeth for when I get the good part of the steak.


Or try this Garlicky, Smoky Grilled London Broil with Chipotle Chile and every bite will be tender like butta’.

Have you ever felt you were the right age at the wrong time?