Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chimicurri Grand Finale

Went to visit my dad in Southern California for The Fourth.

Charlie got to hang out with his uncle, my cousin, Andy.
I grew up hanging around Andy and his four older brothers. I was the only girl on my dad’s side of the family and of course I was tortured for it.

Let us not forget the time they told me that a serial killer had escaped from the local penitentiary and that the entire Houston Police Force (I was visiting them in Houston) could not find the this homicidal maniac. Three hours later as I lie awake terrified in my bed the door suddenly creaked open. I heard the faint sound of someone walking on the carpet floor. “Tita?” My voice shook in terror? “Tita, is that you?”

And then, Uncle Andy popped out at the foot of my bed with a mask on and a flashlight under his chin yelling, “RARRRRR!”

What kind of mask, you ask? It was a mask of a decrepit old man with a baldhead and white hair. Whoa, as I type this right now, I’m having a major epiphany. What if this terrifying experience is the reason I hate the entire Republican Party?

Anyway, Uncle Andy jumping out with the Dick Cheney mask on was no doubt the scariest frickin’ thing ever.

And, while I don’t like to toot my horn (at least not in front of anyone), clearly I must be a very forgiving person because I drove to California and allowed my precious baby boy to spend time his Uncle Andy. In fact, I encouraged it.

The end result? I think my son put it best when he said, “Mom Can Uncle Andy come and live with us?”

I guarantee you if you ever want to earn the kind of unconditional love from a child that is witnessed in only the most tear-jerking Steven Spielberg films, pay attention.

Their bond was so instantaneous and intense that when Charlie finally had to say goodbye to Uncle Andy, it was like a scene straight out of ET, with Uncle Andy pointing to Charlie’s forehead promising, “I’ll be right here.”

How does one make a kid love them so quickly and so passionately that they are completely willing to trade the progenitors of their life for a chance at a lifetime with a distant relative? Very easily in fact. The answer lies in two things. Fireworks and Farts.

My father makes a little something us Latin’s call Chimucurri, which correct me if I’m wrong, but I think is Spanish for Sacred Flatulence? And after we all smothered several kilos of it over our steak, we just sat there in silence and quietly hugged one another goodbye. Because that’s really what it was, a death sentence.

A couple hours went by and it started to get dark out. The kids were anxious to see the fireworks, so we walked to the place where we annually watch the firework show. A crowd of people gathered in silence while desired explosions burst into night air. As the light from the fireworks briefly illuminated the otherwise dark sky, I glanced over at Uncle Andy only to see what appeared to me a small tear rolling down his cheek. And No. I didn’t get the feeling it was patriotism that was choking him up. Our eyes met and it was as if for a moment in time we had the exact same thought, ‘We need to get the hell outta here…like now.’

Quickly after the grand finale we walked home, Charlie, Uncle Andy and I, our stomachs starting to balloon out from gas pain. And in an attempt to disguise my humanness and preserve my femininity, I pulled the infamous trick ALL girls do. I pretended that I heard something in a distant bush, fifteen yards or so ahead of us. Hark! Is that a stray cat I hear crying in the bushes up ahead? Let me go look! I’m so into animal rescue. Go PETA! And off I went in search of barking spiders.

But, Uncle Andy being far more forthright than I decided to do something that is so inexcusable, so utterly unfair, he’s lucky if he even gets a Christmas card this year from me.

To be honest, Charlie was being a little more than annoying. But, trust me, the punishment he provoked FAR outweighed the severity of his crime.

He kept asking OVER and OVER again, “Is there gonna be any more fireworks!?! Awe Man! I want more fireworks! No Fair! I WANT more fireworks! I WISH I could have MORE fireworks!”

And in the middle of the still warm Southern California street, while my son held onto Uncle Andy’s hand as they walked in the darkness toward my fathers house, one little boys wish came true. It was all, “BA-BOOM!”

Charlie couldn’t hear for three hours after that. Had Uncle Andy not done it so close to his head, maybe it would have spared him the hearing impairment. But, it was a close range shot. Poor kid never had a chance.

My son, now tone deaf, has never been so happy in his life. And ladies Uncle Andy is still single.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I'm officially ready to guest star on the L word now.

I guest posted here. I got to talk dirty about Kate Hudson and her boobies. It was exhilarating.

Conversations in the night

So the other night I’m sleeping, well actually, my mind was sleeping. My body was doing its own thing.

My husband who snores LOUDLY is often pushed SLIGHTLY by a very cranky atheist and told, “ROLL OVER.”

This has been our routine for roughly six years now.

Except for last night. When my hand (not being the brain that she is) decided to continuously push thumb against the middle of index finger. And push, and push, and push, until? Ugh!
I woke up. And when my brain woke up it was all, “What the hell are you doing Ms. Handy?”

It appears Ms. Handy thought she was holding onto the remote that would mute my husbands snoring. Poor thing, she was half asleep too, and had the brain not woken up, who knows how long she would have pushed on my index finger thinking it was a remote.

Once I woke up with brain and Ms Handy in a full state of consciousness, I decided to give a quick pep talk. I’m like, “Listen, I know this is annoying for all of us. But, Ms. Handy, in the future please just hand me the pillow, cause honey without the brain, you’re not exactly the crunchiest chip in the bag." She said she understood.

"So, Ms. Handy," I replied. "This is how it's gotta go. You get me up, I get brain up, and THEN we get the pillow out and cover his head. Got it?"

"Well. Why, Ms. Handy, you look so sad. Is it something I said?"


"Of course, we’ll still let him breathe!" I rolled my eyes. "Like Dah! Besides. We wouldn't want to wake The General up what, with all the commotion going on. Cause then we’re all screwed. Especially you Ms. Handy. You'll have to do one of your "jobs." If you know what I mean. And I think you do. "So, once again, we operate in silence. Alright? Go Team."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

C3PO, British and Balless?

Sorry I've been remiss as of late. It's just that my son asked me a question and I have been using all of my free time contemplating it. You know how sometimes out of no where your children will hit you with a question that is so profound, so totally unexpected you just really have to sit back and marvel and the genius of their innocence? Well, last week I had such a day. When my son looked at me with those big brown eyes full of curiosity, for a brief moment in time I was completely reassured and free of worry. Because I knew that somewhere, somehow, all of those days spent teaching valuable lessons to my offspring about the importance of observation is really starting to pay off. I mean, what better way to measure the inner workings of a mind than by quality of the questions that mind asks? I believe it was Dr. Samuel Johnson that said, "Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."

Touche, I say. Yes. Yes, indeed. I am proud. So. Very. Proud.

Charlie: Mom?

Me: Yes son.

Charlie: Do robots have penises?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Consumer Alert!

Betty Crocker Super Creamy Chocolate Home Style Cake with frosting may secretly be disguising itself as a dessert but it’s not. It's really a laxative. I think they should consider renaming their product so as not to falsely disillusion us to its potential. Here are a few suggestions.

Chocolate Colon Blast Cake
Orderly Mandatory Evacuation Cake
Stay Close to Home style Cake
Home style Hoop Burn Cake

And as I stepped out of the bathroom, sweat drenched with tears running down my face, my son was right there to greet me.

“Alright! Good Job Mommy! High Five!”

I mean clearly successful trips to the bathroom are rewarded with high fives, right? This is especially true when you live with two little boys. I guess I wasn't feeling very accomplished at this particular juncture in my oh-so thrilling life. But, I cannot expect him to understand that. So as I walked past him, he was clearly perturbed that I left him hanging.

Whatever. You stinkin’ girl!” He yelled as he ran down the hallway giggling.

Now whether or not he meant that to be taken literally I’ll never know because by then I was already headed back to whence I came.

p.s. Any and all suggestions are welcome for renaming the product. I plan on having a letter drafted to Ms. Crocker by close of business today. I'll include a few flow charts (so to speak) just to drive home the point.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

While driving past the Mormon church on our way home from Starbucks

"Mom! Look! It's the magic castle where they make all the underwear."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

No, I won't pray for you. But can I interest you in a pedicure?

When my Aunt Joanie called to tell me (in an uncharacteristically weak voice) that Lisa was sick, I knew I would be driving through the desert that night. Funny how the mind reacts when it’s our blood, our family, whose survival remains unknown. Had it been my husband’s cousin I cannot say whether I would have experienced the same sense of urgency. But it was my Lisa, my cousin, who was in the intensive care unit with what appeared to be a brain tumor and I was out the door within minutes.

While I drove seven hours from Arizona to California late that night listening to a combination of static and AM radio I had a lot of time to think. I thought about Lisa mostly, how cruel it seemed that she was suddenly so sick. How I had just talked to her last month and she seemed to be doing OK. She did tell me that she was feeling tired, but in her usual Lisa way she made it sound like a joke.

“How tired are you?”

“I’m so flippin’ tired my hair is falling out. That’s how tired I am, okay?”

I told her to have her thyroid checked. That was the best advice I could give. We hung up the phone. That was a month ago. Now I’m driving in between gigantic eighteen wheeler trucks thinking nothing but the worst. How would it feel to lose her? And that thought was followed incessantly by the thought of how much she has meant to me thus far.

There have been countless times Lisa’s antics have brought me to tears in that deliciously combined laugh/cry/pee way. There was the time she lived in Hawaii and came to visit us in California for Christmas. While sitting in my aunt's living room next to a tree that looked more like an enormous doiley pup tent than a Christmas tree, Lisa tossed me a loosely wrapped package and yelled out, “Hey, everyone look what I got little Monica.” I opened it excited to reveal what my oh-so-cool older cousin (she was in her twenties) had gotten me, only to find a giant over sized t-shirt that read, IF IT SWELLS…RIDE IT. And I was like, “Thanks! Cousin Lisa! But I don’t surf.” My mom ripped the shirt away from me before I could try it on. At least now, I understand why I was not allowed to wear it at the ripe old age of ten.

Lisa never seemed to care much about being appropriate, and I can understand how some people find her less than polite company. I once had to take a plane ride with her and there was some turbulence on the flight. Some of the people were getting nervous so Lisa thought she’d lighten the mood by standing up in the middle of the row yelling, “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” I doubt she could get away with that sort of behavior nowadays, that is not without being arrested. After the outburst she sat back down in her seat laughing hysterically while I tried to crawl inside the overhead bin.

To be fair, Lisa is also very capable of laughing at herself. Like when she walked into hairdresser school late and hung over looking as if she were about to get sick and her instructor, a white haired man named Hal, told her to SIT DOWN and "put your head between your legs honey.” Which she did. Then Hal bent down beside her and whispered, “That is if you can stand the smell.” She laughs so hard every time she tells that story despite the fact that it doesn’t exactly put her in the best light.

When I got to the hospital, she was in the ICU. It was a coffin of a room, with four other patients sharing the same space. The machines were allowed more room to spread out than the people. I don’t know how anyone can rest inside a place like that. There was a crazy Vietnamese woman yelling out in her native tongue and not one of the nurses could translate. The only thing they could gather was that she insisted on being called Mike.

I tried not to cry when I first saw Lisa because she really is not the crying type per se. And I wanted to be strong for her. However, when I saw her all tangled inside that wired nest of a bed while machines pumped and beeped at her my eyes immediately went blurry. They had already shaved her head, and placed a stint inside. I grabbed her hand and began kissing it. Repeatedly I kissed her swollen and bruised hand next to the place where the IV needle was embedded. I guess it was a weird reaction but she is my cousin and it just felt right to kiss her like that. What else was I suppose to do?

We did not speak at first. But, when I could, I looked up at her and said, “Hi.” Her eyes were full of tears too and in a small voice she swallowed and said, “I’m sorry, I’m kind of stinky right now.” And she was. She had been in the ICU for two days already with no sleep or shower. The ICU barely had enough room for the four occupants and the five nurses it inhabited never mind room for a shower or a bath or any other kind of dignified amenity.

I have read that if you really want to take a man (or a woman’s) dignity away, deny them access to a fresh shower or a shave. There is something about the ritualistic act of grooming that makes one feel a sense of pride and sanity.

Her hands looked gritty and I will never forget the smell of her shaved head as I leaned over to talk to her. The humanness of it all, how helpless we look when you take away our hair, and our showers, deodorants, perfumes, lotions, make-ups, hairsprays, etc. I'm certain that given Lisa's penchant for hairstyling this must have been especially awkward for her. It was like seeing someone go to war with out so much as a butter knife to protect them. How scared and humiliated she must have felt lying there having to see countless strangers knowing that she might be dying and still feeling the need to apologize for not smelling her best. I immediately went down to the gift shop and bought her a stuffed hippo to rest on top of the blood pressure machine and then nail polish and a manicure/pedicure set, the kind where the lotion smells like coconuts and pina coladas.

For the next three days I sat by her side giving one pedicure and manicure after another. It was all I could do. I cleaned her fingernails, washed and massaged her feet, painted her toenails, first red, then hot pink, then mauve, then blue, then hot pink again. I rinsed the pumice stone in the small sink by her bed careful not to get in the way of the staff. And while Lisa tried to rest, I sat at the end of her bed listening to the nurses talking about her and the other patients in the ICU. No one knew what Lisa had as the results were still not in. She may have to stay in ICU another week. Rooms were crowded. She’d have to wait to get a room. It was all bad news. Mike started really going nuts around day two. She got so upset that I finally pulled the curtain back and asked the nurse if I could interest Mike in a pedicure-just to shut her up. However, there was no one to translate. From what I could overhear, they found Mike in a somewhat confused mental state and she may have been homeless, as no one came by to visit her during the time she was there. At one point while the orderlies were coming in to strap Mike to her bed, Lisa looked over at me, "Oh God Monica, what if it all comes down to me and Mike?"

"You won't be here much longer Lisa." It was a good lie. I didn't know how long she would be there. And I'm sorry, but there is such a thing as good lies.

On my third day at the hospital (Lisa’s fifth) we were told she would be moved to a private room. No more crazy bedpan throwing Mikes and finally a real shower for her. She seemed better now that she had her own space. Once she was settled into her new room, showered, inside clean sheets, with the television on, and her nails dry, I decided to head back home. I drove back during the day this time, still unsure of her outcome. But, at least I got to see her again, and for now I would have the image of her pretty toes and her bald head to update my cerebral files. I will go over this image for the next two months. Every time I brush my hair, I will be reminded of her lack of it, and every time I see my Aunts number show up on the phone, I will think the worst. Although, my aunt did tell me that I was the best medicine for her that week. I will doubt that. But, I do give good foot. That much I know for sure.