Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Give Me the Suburbs!!! Part 1

I have been obsessed lately with the idea of living in a refurbished farmhouse on a couple of acres, and raising chickens and pygmy goats. That way, our grandchildren (of which we have none) would love to visit us. The catch is I don’t want to live out in the country. I’m afraid of the country. I tried it. Sure, I like nature as much as the next person. I just don’t want it in my backyard, uninvited.

When I was in my early twenties and a newlywed, my husband and I decided to buy a home out in the country. We had tired of living in the city where we went to sleep every night to the sound of police sirens. I couldn’t wait for some peace and quiet, and the feeling of being safe. It was about a week after we moved in, when I started to question our decision. My husband left for work, and I was going to wash the dishes before showering and heading to work myself. One of the features I loved about our new house was the large window above the kitchen sink. I could look out past our yard, across a gully, and all the way to a new housing development about a quarter of a mile away. On this particular morning, my eyes didn’t go past our yard. It was filled with cows. They were just milling about, you know, the way cows do. Now, I’m from the suburbs, and I only know very basic things about cows. My husband grew up in a semi-rural area, so I called him.

“We have cows…what should I do?” I was very disappointed, because he knew nothing about cows. "I thought you grew up in the country?" I said accusingly, suddenly wondering how well I really knew this man.  "Maybe you can just shoo them away.” Great, I was on my own. I went out on the deck with a saucepan and a spaghetti pot and banged them loudly together. I kid you not; I don’t think I got a blink of an eye from any of them. Not only were they lost, but they were hard of hearing, too. I refused to get any closer to them because I kept seeing this scene in my mind of being trampled to death in my own backyard. Our dog was barking in the house, and I thought about letting her out, but I knew she couldn't help.  She was a sled dog.  Why the heck did I move to the country with a sled dog, when what I really needed was a herder?  I had so much to learn.

It was time for plan B. I grabbed my car keys, with the brilliant idea of finding the farm where they belong. And, how would I know which farm it was? Easy, it was the one without cows. I smiled at my genius. After an hour of searching, I finally had to give up and drive home. Hmm…I didn’t even have a plan C. Then, it came to me. I just had to figure out which of them was the leader, and if I could coax that one out of the yard, the others would follow. Yes, that was an extremely lame plan, but it turns out, I didn’t have to use it. The backyard was cow-less. I strutted back and forth on the deck with a new air of confidence. Next time, I told myself, I would bravely leave the safety of the deck, and slap their rumps with loud instructions to vacate my yard. Looking back, it was probably a good thing that the cows never appeared again.

Coming soon—Give Me The Suburbs!!! Part 2

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Someday, You’ll Pay!

I guess if you made up a job description for children, high on the list would be embarrassing Mom and Dad. Though, I’m quite certain I never embarrassed my parents. I think it skips generations like twins. The first time my son discovered how much fun it was, we were visiting my parents the summer he was three. We were all seated around the dining room table, passing serving bowls, and chatting away. Once our plates were full, and the room was silent as we started to eat, my darling little cherub of a son said “This tastes like sh--.”

Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at him as if they were seeing him for the first time. He looked very pleased with himself. I glared at my husband, knowing full well where he had heard that word. I  had to break the silence, so I told them he had never said that word before, which was the truth. Even my mother, who desperately wanted to believe me, looked skeptical. Well, I thought, always the proud mom, at least he used it properly in a sentence.

My daughter would never have embarrassed me on purpose. She just had a habit of blurting out the truth. You can’t get mad at a child for that. But, you can die from it. She was three, we were at the grocery store, and just as we came out of the bakery aisle, a man weighing about four hundred pounds walked by us. I tried hard to distract her, but her eyes locked on him, and lit up like headlights. Please, I pleaded silently to the universe, please keep my child from saying the man is fat. Two seconds before he would have been out of earshot, she looked at me all excited, and said louder and clearer than any toddler in the world, “Mama, that man has REALLY BIG PANTS!”

As my son got older, he learned exactly what embarrassed me the most, and used that knowledge like a gleaming sharp sword. When I was in my thirties, I had rhinoplasty, otherwise known as a “nose job.” My son thought the whole thing was hysterical and would bring it up at the worst possible moments. “Hey Mom, did you get to bring your old nose home in a jar?” he would blurt out in front of friends and neighbors. “Hey Mom, did you get to pick your own nose, or did the doctor pick it for you?” he would yell, and then collapse into a fit of laughter.

Even as adults, I never completely relax around them. Recently, we were out to dinner with a large group which included my daughter and her boyfriend. I was just sitting there enjoying my salad, and I heard my daughter say from the other end of the table, “Hey Mom, he doesn’t believe that isn’t your real nose” while pointing to her boyfriend. Every eye was on me as they waited for my response. My son told me his wife didn't believe I wasn't a real blonde, "So could you send her photos of you as a brunette. Maybe something with your old nose, too."

What they don’t know is that the older I get the less I care about being embarrassed. And, eventually the tables will turn. I will dedicate the last years I have on this planet to being a complete embarrassment to them. I will dye my hair bright red, wear lipstick smeared from ear to ear, and leave the house with my bra on the outside of my shirt. I’ll teach their children every swear word I know. Yes, I have it all planned….