Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Four: Ma’am and “Quack, quack”…

When Confused Husband does a solo expedition to Costco, one never knows what nonsensical items are going to be accompanying him back home. He enters the house with a cat who ate the canary smile. Like he has just won the lottery or gotten a GREAT deal.
He rolls in enormous jars of jalapeño’s, mayonnaise, chickpeas; that almost squash the dog. It is like Fred Flintstone has returned from the grocery store. At least this time he didn’t come home with the seventy-two pound wheel of cheese that he wanted three other families to go in on.(Let’s just say there was a HUGE misunderstanding, and the other people involved did not think he was seriously going to purchase this.) It sat in our living room, and was used as a coffee table for over a year, until he finally sold it on eBay. It is whispered in our home as the Great Cheese Wheel catastrophe of 2010.

He tosses what at first I think is a cheese grater and says: “Here, for your hooves.” I find his Cheshire Cat grin highly annoying! There is a box of white unscented candles (I didn’t realize we were holding mass later?). With a dramatic flourish, he presents two GIANT pillows and says: “I needed new pillows and guess what?” ( Oh, his excitement is building) “They are GOOSE feathers!” He stands there waiting, anticipating what? Am I supposed to jump for joy because he bought himself new pillows? Strike up the band? Award him the Nobel peace prize? WHAT?!
I look at him. His smile leaves his face and, I can sense how disappointed he is by my lack of enthusiasm. He holds and hugs his new pillows like they are our children, talking to them in a baby voice. I am frankly uncomfortable with the intimacy he is showing these two feather infused bolsters. They are GIANT poofs like the Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. With new pillows in hand, he runs upstairs to cover them.

I meanwhile have to find space for these ridiculous extra-large jars that won’t fit in the cupboard. I decide to put them around the island like extra stools.
Later that evening, I head upstairs. Our bedroom looks like a hen house! There are feathers EVERYWHERE! The rooster is perched; on his nest. I see the mammoth Flintstone-size pillows sticking out of the pillowcases. They are WAY too big for the average pillowcase. He also needs to get pillow covers for them as the feathers are escaping all over the place.
The ends of the feathers have poked me, and I feel like a human kebab. I am also sneezing like a maniac. It’s as though I am in some weird pillow fight scene.
Every time Confused Husband shifts or moves, an explosion of feathers trickle’s down and rains on me.

After an uncomfortable night of Plume-A- Palooza, I am in no mood to hear the wonders of his new pillows. He has feathers stuck all over him and even ones poking out of his pajama bottoms. He is like a pajama-clad rooster. It is morning, therefore, I am waiting for him to crow.
I tell him to get the vacuum and clean up his mess! An hour later he informs me that he could have used the leaf blower there were so many feathers. He decides to head back to Costco and return his what are now flat semi-filled, deflated goose feathered pillows.

Hours later, the prodigal shopper returns with two new pillows, informing me that Ping, who works in the Produce department, swears by the duck feather pillows! He is all excited! (All I can think of is A) I didn’t know there were duck feather pillows and, B) Why is he taking pillow advice from Ping in produce?) C) They are still FEATHERED pillows! Who cares what type of bird they originated from?
As usual, it is a stew of nonsense, and I am not climbing in the pot to join it.
I don’t have the bandwidth to ask any of the OBVIOUS questions out loud. Like what is the difference between duck and goose feathers? They will still molt all over the place. Could you not just get standard pillows?
I sit on the ENORMOUS jar of mayonnaise and pour myself a glass of boxed wine which is the size of a small automobile. The wine goblet courtesy of Costco, is big enough to have its own zip code. Confused Husband runs upstairs with his Donald Duck pillows like he has a hot date. I am pretty sure I hear quacking…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Three: Ma’am and Bitcoin…

Confused Husband is obsessed with Bitcoin. Lately, he has had tales of Bitcoin. He tells them like he is Captain Ahab, retelling the tale of; how he caught the Great White Whale. Before I am just about to fall asleep, he regales me with another Bitcoin situation. 

First, I have no idea what Bitcoin is. Second, I don’t care. He goes into great detail and, it puts me to sleep. I doze off to him saying, ” It’s a digital wallet and, all you need to open your wallet and start spending is a password! (says the man who relies on our teen son, to input all of our passwords, and can’t even figure out how to log on to the computer! Yes, I can see this ending well..)

The next morning, he continues his Bitcoin diatribe. I want to stab him with my fork. My eyes are glazing over, I yawn. He becomes EXTREMELY insulted! He bellows: “Bitcoin is the future! you better educate yourself on how to use it!”

“Look,” I inform him. “You know I can only handle American currency and, even that’s a struggle! Do I need to remind you about the checkbook situation of 2000? Remember the Turkish Lira fiasco? Or the British Pound debacle?” He shutters when I say these things to him.

“Do you honestly think I can handle invisible money?” He clucks his tongue.” It is not invisible currency! It is virtual currency!” He bellows.

 I take a breath and state my point: “Okay, whatever, to me, it’s just as fake as Monopoly money! Plus, look how bad we are with passwords! We never remember them and have to rely on One Too Many to even log on to the computer! Are we going to have to depend on him every time we want to withdraw Bitcoins for, let us say a bottle of wine? And, are there Bit dollars? Because I don’t want a wad of change weighing my pockets down, making me look bigger than I am. Plus, I don’t want to fill up my cute small purse with coins and not have room for my lipstick! Also, I haven’t seen any cafe that says pay with Bitcoin! Does this mean we have to find a Bitcoin-friendly shop? That would be highly annoying and inconvenient! “

I stop to catch my breath. I am no Pollyanna and he should at this point many moons into our marriage know this. I continue like I am Perry Mason arguing my defense.

“Plus you, know how I hate counting out coins! Do they have 20 dollar Bitcoins or, is one Bitcoin equal to one dollar? That’s a lot of coins’ I have to carry around. It sounds exhausting! “

He glares at me and cusses in Turkish. (Yes, I WILL stop all of your dreams if they are this ridiculous!)

Then he goes on another Bitcoin tangent. I shush him and tell him I am “Trying to watch Meghan and Harry complain to Oprah about how hard their lives are, from their fifteen million dollar mansion!” I also ask out loud: “I wonder if they paid for their mansion with Bitcoin?”

He stops and looks at the TV and says: ” I bet Oprah knows about Bitcoin!”.

Hours later, we are taking a walk. I suggest we stop for a glass of wine and begin to search for a Bitcoin-friendly cafe…

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Two: Ma’am and her cloven hooves…

I chose pain for beauty. I wore cute shoes for a walk through the city. BIG mistake! My heels and toes look like they have gone through a meat grinder. My wounds have bled into my nice shoes, staining the camel color with my crimson blood giving me a taste of what they look like had I ordered them in crimson instead of the camel color.

Painfully I walk to the drugstore on my way home. I buy an armful of various sizes of bandaids and am gobsmacked when Skippy behind the counter gives me my car payment size total. I look at one of the boxes there are ten bandaids in the box. That’s one dollar a bandaid! LUDICROUS! ( Must Google how to sue a bandaid company).

I ridiculously penguin walk home, exhausted and battered. I feel like those people you see on the news, that have just been found, after walking lost through the Amazon, emerging with tattered feet.

I recruit One Too Many with ( what else?!) the promise of food to pull his injured mother’s cute albeit stupid shoes off of her feet. Like freeing a fat person from Spanx, once the shoes are off, my feet explode with their swollenness. At this point, it would be impossible to stuff my wounded trotters back into these stained torturers if I had to. The sight of my battered hooves has One Too Many with a look of disgust declaring: ” Your feet look like they were in a fight, and they lost!” He gags and looks away in horror. (Scratch the possibility of him as a future Podiatrist off of the list.)

I instruct him to get the first- aid cream and a towel. Also, the bucket over the washer NOT the one over the dryer that we use for throw-up. I am barking out orders like the lead surgeon in an operating room. Commanding him to fill the bucket with warm water and my soothing lavender bath wash. Minutes later. he schleps it back like a kid trekking water from a well. It slushes back and forth, spilling over onto my crimson-stained shoes which, have to be washed anyway.

I attempt to put one of my swollen hooves into the bucket but, it can’t fit horizontally. Therefore, I must stand up and dip in vertically while balancing on my other injured foot. It is a stew of nonsense, and I am stepping right into it.

During my dipping procedure, I realize that I am indeed wading in the throw-up bucket, as One Too Many doesn’t know the difference between the washer and the dryer! I also believe that that was his first-ever venture into the laundry room.

But, I am too injured to take on the battle of the throw-up bucket debacle at this juncture. Will put it on the back burner to address later.

I instruct One Too Many to spread the towel. I remove my hoof from the bucket of ick. I place the other injured party in the bucket and wait.

Confused Husband waltzes in demanding to know what I just spent at the drugstore for forty dollars as he JUST received a possible fraud alert on his phone. I point to my various assortment of bandaids. He shakes his head and wants to know WHY? The mini-operating pop-up and blood doesn’t seem to assist him with his answer. I step out of the vomit bucket and plop back down in agony. I ignore Confused Husband and direct One Too Many to begin opening and assembling the bandaids. The largest one is like the size of a tent once it’s opened. I order One Too Many to slap those on my heels. Overhead a chopper is flying, and I feel like I am -living in a Triage scene from Mash.

The smaller bandaids are opened and wrapped around each individual toe. They look like swollen Vienna sausages just popped out of the can. My feet, legs, and back are tingling in pain. I hear Confused Husband in the background bellowing: ” Why is his bucket that he uses to mix his special holiday brew now housing my feet?!” I throw-up in my mouth realizing, that all of this time, he has been using the throw-up bucket to create his holiday punch in and have no words other than an internal, natural instinct to flee but, because of the state of my feet, cannot. I am trapped in this hell.

One Too Many has now finished wrapping my feet in what looks like hundreds of bandaids. They look like two enormous flesh-colored Q- tips. Standing up, I am also now an inch or two taller, thanks to the bandaids.

I duckwalk into the kitchen to suck down a much-needed glass of wine.

Hours later, throughout the house, I am finding discarded bandaids that have fallen off my feet. The dog has one stuck on his nose. It is GIANT and covers his nose like a mask.

Confused Husband is loitering on the couch. On the coffee table in front of him sits a mug and a plate with half a sandwich containing one of my giant bandaids stuck on it. I ask him, “Why?” he replies: ” I thought it was a piece of bologna that had fallen out of my sandwich, but then realized it wasn’t and now can never eat bologna or perhaps a sandwich ever again thanks, to you!” Says the man who makes punch in the throw-up bucket..

Chapter One Hundred Thirty-One: Ma’am and One Too Many…

Having a teenage son is a COMPLETELY different ball of wax than having teenage girls. First and foremost, they eat like they have a wooden leg. Urban legends tell tales where families with more than one teenage boy have had to take on second jobs, JUST, to pay their grocery bill.
We first had three daughters, they were 16, 12, and 8, when we had our “SURPRISE!” after a night of buying one get one free margarita’s. We refer to him as “One Too Many” as in one too many Margaritas. He is the complete opposite of our delicate girls. He is loud, rough, at times smelly. It is like having Bam-Bam in the house. Our food bill has grown along with our need for tolerating frat house humor movies. I have also come to recognize that without him, my husband and I would perish.
He knows the WiFi password, how to unstick the remote when a channel is frozen, how to fix my Twitter, WordPress, etc… We are genuinely reliant on his ability to assist his “older” parents. We tolerate the comments under his breath and dramatic sighs of disgust as for the MILLIONTH time he attempts to show us how to find our Netflix show that we fell asleep to during, the night before, it is one of our Scandinavian cop shows, we are dying to find out if it was Hans, Helga or Tjis who murdered Gustav and his reindeer. One Too Many has the caption in the largest font so we can see it. We need him more than he needs us, I have realized. Albeit this is a bitter pill to swallow, it is true.
If he were more focused and less consumed by what was for dinner, and he truly, thought about it, he could blackmail us and get pretty much everything and anything that he wants. Yes, we are at his mercy.
There are times that I think he looks at us like two old- feeble people that he is stuck with. He towers over us in height and is SUPER-SMART. He knows about things I have no idea regarding various topics. I try to nod and make the appropriate noises of agreement when he speaks. (I don’t want him to think that he is being raised by two imbeciles.) Sometimes I catch Confused Husband with a glazed look over his face as One Too Many is attempting to explain something electronic to him, or when he is informing Confused Husband on “Why he doesn’t need a haircut.” With a Power-Point presentation.
At this stage, I will take any morsel of attention from him, and will sit through as many Will Ferrel, John C. Reilly films as I can. I will hold the frozen expression on my face like I am watching a true masterpiece! I will forcibly laugh at the raunchy scenarios unfolding on the screen, hoping my son appreciates my hearty laughter and cannot tell that I am faking my joy at watching this nonsense.
I have moments when he is asleep on the couch, and I can still see that small boy who followed me around like my shadow through his now razor stubbled face. I long for those days and know that they are over. It is a part of life, and unfortunately, it is my turn to be at this stage. There are times that I find him helping his old dad by rubbing Ben-Gay on his back for a moment think: “Perhaps he will be a doctor!” Then he farts or burps and, “POP” that, dream disappears.
After he has paid a visit to the kitchen, it looks like a crime scene. Food is his main objective. I am POSITIVE that if we were stuck on a deserted island that I would be the first one he would be roasting over the campfire for his meal, and to stay alive, Confused Husband would be unapologetically dousing me in barbecue sauce.
One Too Many has a good heart because he will take walks with me and, although it looks like a hostage situation on his part, he does it. He borrows the frozen expression of utter joy as I point to a “pretty” dress in a shop window or tell him about Brad and Angelina’s ongoing custody battle. He feigns interest and, I love him for that. I can usually persuade him to go for a walk by enticing him with a bakery run on our walk or a Frappuccino to get a few extra miles in.
Having this time in quarantine and spending so much time with him and not murdering us in our sleep has made me exceptionally proud. I have received 911 calls from some of his classmate’s parents that since they have banned their teen from the pantry, they are in fear of their lives. Some have woken up to the cold reality that their child will forever be ensconced on their sofa.
I can honestly say that I have concluded that having a teenager in the house in quarantine is like having a great white shark swimming in the pool with you. As long as you feed it, you won’t become its next meal…

Chapter One HundredThirty: Ma’am and the Crêpe…

I love Crêpes. But the kind that you eat, not the ones on your face, neck, cleavage, or hands. My hands are starting to look like a Wenis (the skin on your elbow). All crepey and wrinkly. I would like to meet the idiot who coined the phrase: Crêpe skin. Why did they have to go and ruin a perfectly- good and yummy word with that definition?
I am deep in thought, walking the streets and mulling this over when I see two elderly- women. They are both delicate, like a soufflé. This was fortuitous! I begin a conversation. They inform me they are sisters. The pair are in their late seventies. The older one by two years, whose name is Gloria. The younger one is Stella. They look like two raisins. They are Queens of the Crêpe skin. They are discussing their deceased husbands. I ask how they met them. They tell me at a dance in Brooklyn. Stella tells me that a tall, lanky fellow dressed in white with what seemed like flecks of dried blood on his trousers and long white coat. Both sisters assumed he was a doctor! What a catch! According to Stella, a swarm of girls had the same thought. They circled around him like vultures to a wounded animal. Stella continues, she says thankfully the man whose name is Don only had eyes for Gloria, at this declaration, Gloria snorts. It turns out that Don was not a doctor but a Good Humor Ice cream man. The dark flecks on his outfit were dried chocolate ice cream!
They both laugh, which crinkles their Crêpe skin, additionally making it more apparent. That will be me one day, sooner than later. The folds on their skin remind me of a Shar-Pei. They could perhaps carry their metro card, phone, and wallets in-between the pleats on their face, like a built-in pocket. (Yes, I am trying to look at the bright side of this my soon to be future.) They share that they are both widows and in the prime of their life enjoying new adventures. I am in awe of their young, adventurous spirits. I also wonder if when they look in the mirror, are they disheartened by the reflections looking back at them?
We once had a Shar-Pei. She actually had to have an eye lift because her folds were covering her eyes. It was like having Stevie Wonder or Andrea Bocelli for a dog. We had to be her eyes. I found the whole thing ironic because the humans were virtually a Guide dog for a dog!
I wonder if my Crêpe skin folded over my eyes, would Confused Husband be my Guide dog? I highly doubt this scenario and think he would DEFINITELY lead me into the middle of the road, off a cliff, or some situation where I would step onto the metro tracks. It would be all over the 11:00 news: “Crêpe woman squashed by the metro, film at eleven.” Confused Husband would be on the news crying and saying: “She just stepped off the platform.” He would be the most eligible Widow in DC. Yes, I better figure out a way to fix my future eye folds.
One would think all of this depressing talk about Crêpe skin would turn one off to Crêpe’s, not this hungry soon to be Shar-Pei. I invite the sisters for a coffee. I feel it is my duty like Lewis and Clark or Marco Polo. I can be the Crêpe explorer for middle-aged women. It’s a tough job and perhaps not pleasant, but somebody has to do it, and it might as well be me.
Sitting with them, I hone in on their eyelids. They are as expected, hooded and droopy. This causes me to move my eyelids up and down, attempting to stretch them open. The only good thing I can see about having eye folds are you can nap WHENEVER and WHEREVER! No one can tell! I am truly trying to be ever the optimist for my pending fold of a future.
I slip into the conversation: “What are their thoughts on using Preparation-H on the eyelids?” (I have heard this is a quick fix!) They look at me like I have offered them a throuple. I guess, well, isn’t it obvious they aren’t up on eye treatments.
Sitting this close to them, and because we have masks on, I can only focus on their eyes. I am curious if they have shrunken wrinkled lips as well? I feel like I am on an expedition and have just discovered a new tribe. I study them as subtly as possible. It is challenging with the masks. I want to know when they began the Crêpe transformation. I have loads of questions yet am unsure of how to broach the subject without seeming rude or insulting.
I tell them about Confused Husband and my fear of him pushing me off of the metro platform when he is forced to be my guide dog because of my eye folds. They seem perplexed at this declaration. Their wrinkled eyes opening as wide as could be considering. I then share about our Shar-Pei and her eye situation. I pause and realize that they have used their Crêpe superpowers and taken a little Siesta during my diatribe of nonsense. I take this as my exit cue.
I realize being an explorer makes one hungry. I search for the Crêpe food truck…

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Nine: Ma’am and the cleanse…

Okay, so here we are in 2021. I suppose all of those New Year hopes and resolutions laced with the infusion of alcohol the night before can make you believe that anything is possible, that is until the cold glare of the reality of morning hits you like a two by four smack over the head. I stare into the mirror of truth. NOTHING has changed. I still cannot fit into a size 6 and, snoring next to me is NOT George Clooney but Confused Husband. Face it! You are NEVER going to meet George Clooney unless you fly to Lake Como, hire a boat, jump overboard in a scuba suit, and stealthily swim up to his dock like a ninja entering the property to strip down from your scuba suit, and have a formal gown underneath(Yes, it is Bond-Esq). You then blend in with the crowd and join the fête that George is hosting. (Obviously, I have thought about this scenario a lot!). George is just about to come over to me and say: “I have never seen YOU before!” But my daydream is RUDELY interrupted by Confused Husband who has woken up from his slumber during my George Daydream to announce that we are going on a cleanse! I don’t recall agreeing to this! It is a lemon juice, red pepper concoction. A stew of nonsense that will certainly make me sick. Why do New Year’s Eve resolutions invoke cleanses, diets, a new you, yada, yada?

“All the celebrities do this!” He bellows and then adds, “I bet EVEN George!”(how dare you speak of him by first name only!) “Need I remind you, we are not celebrities!” I share. He looks at me like I have just told him there is no such thing as Santa. Heading into the kitchen, he states: “WE may not be celebrities but, we can still do a cleanse!”

Confused Husband turns into a deranged Julia Child, creating his concoction with such fervor and zest, it is alarming. Watching his current frenzied state, I don’t think that he is aware of what he is dumping into this stew of nonsense. I am pretty sure, along with the cayenne pepper, he has added chocolate sprinkles. I am positive that I could use this absurd brew to remove rust.

The color of Confused Husband’s mixture borders between diarrhea and vomit. I really should be filming him and putting it on YouTube under: “Massive food blunders.” I like a fortune teller, or even a fortune cookie, can foresee the outcome of this train-wreck occurring in my kitchen. No, this is not going to end well.

The blender whirs away. I turn my eyes elsewhere as its contents are so horrifying. The ridiculous smile pasted on Confused Husbands’ face makes me wonder if perhaps he hit his head last night and is in a concussed state. With great ceremony, he presents his atrocious product behaving like a bully in a High School cafeteria. He attempts to force me to drink it with comments like: “Drink it! Oh, you will feel like a new person! Years younger!” (does he have a bridge to sell me?). I will not bend to peer pressure and suggest that he be the Guinea Pig and try it first. I sense his hesitation as he sniffs the contents of the blender. I am about to gag. No, worries he does it for me.

So much for the Great Cleanse of 2021…

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Eight: Ma’am and Auld Lang Syne…

The New Year’s song or New Year’s anthem is Auld Lang Syne. It is Scottish and translates to “old long since”, but the meaning is more like old times or the olden days. The song is all about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year.
It is sung all over the world, evoking a sense of belonging and fellowship, tinged with nostalgia. Although this year, I surmise we can all agree that 2020 was unlike any year before, and not very nostalgic.
I have been trying to write a post reflecting on 2020. All I can see is a poop emoji and a complete stew of nonsense. It is daunting and I feel like we are all aboard this Crazy train and none of us is able to get off. 2020 is indeed a runaway train of a bad Lifetime movie that we are all trapped in. There are so many things to worry about and we have all had such trying experiences this year, I imagine we will be having several PTSD moments in the future.
If you haven’t seen the show Snow Piercer based on the movie I feel that 2020 can be summed up watching this series. People are trapped on a runaway train because due to climate change the world is now completely frozen. There is a hierarchy on the train and the upper class has a Marie Antoinette “Let them eat cake!” attitude to the rest of the train. (Sound familiar peeps here in the States?!)
Okay, as the Brits say”Stiff upper lip.” “Keep calm and carry on!” Let’s look at the positive things coming around the corner. Covid vaccines, a sane non-crooked, non-lying administration is headed our way. These are good things I know! But it is difficult to navigate all we have been through.
I don’t think that ringing in the New Year has ever held more meaning for me! We have lived through a pandemic, unemployment, EVERYDAY craziness here in DC, and the world!
All I got out of it was a lousy t-shirt saying: “I survived Covid!” For Fucks sake! Of course, I am grateful and I know shouldn’t be whinging about this compared to others, but I am HUMAN! I have my moments and this is one of them!
I am able to get out of things with Confused Husband, all I have to say is: “Remember you gave me Covid”. I know this is my hall pass for the rest of my marriage and I am grateful. It is my kryptonite. Confused Husband is Superman and I am Lex Luther! I like Lex Luther will use my kryptonite when need be.
Instead, my New Year’s resolution is going to try and focus on important news like: Is Hilaria Baldwin really Spanish? Will The Kardashians have to actually fly commercial? These are the kinds of news stories I want to worry about.
As a world, we have all been through and are continuing to go through stuff. We have been tested as a species. My hope is that we are kinder, don’t take the simple pleasures in life for granted, such as hugs, handshakes, and seeing smiles. That we strive to be less judgemental and instead offer a compliment. Hopefully, we see every person in each race, religion, country, sexual orientation, to be our friend and family.
If I have learned anything this absurd year, it is to embrace each day, every experience, and not to sweat the small stuff.
There are no guarantees in life.
My wish is that 2020 is like the line:”Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.”
Perhaps we can’t forget 2020, but we can attain a new appreciation of insignificant moments that now mean so much.
Happy New Year!

Chapter One Hundred Twenty-Seven: Will Ma’am be fa- la- la-ing….

Christmas is approaching, and although it is indeed different from Christmases past, there are still things to be done. As time has passed, and the chickens have flown the coop, we are down to one child left at home. I no longer have my little elf helpers. It is just me decorating, baking Christmas cookies, and shopping.
Confused Husband has never been a fan of Christmas. He gets his Grinch resting face on the day after Thanksgiving when I pull out the Christmas decorations and begin the merriment. Heaven forbid I ask him to assist with a Christmas project! He looks like he is having a root canal! He grumbles about the money I spend on Christmas cookie ingredients, but I don’t see him complaining as he shovels them into his mouth. I also notice that the various Christmas candies I have scattered about the house have left a trail of wrappers.
But this year, I have a secret weapon! A Superhero power, if you will. Every time he starts to complain about something, I say: “But you gave me Coronavirus.” It shuts him up real fast! I drag him along on my Christmas merriment excursions, whether it’s to walk through the city looking at the lights, grabbing a festive hot beverage, window shopping, whatever I feel like. I ignore his angry elf face and the fact that I even made him wear a goofy elf hat. I chuckle at it askew on his head. I am DEFINITELY driving the Christmas sleigh this year.
I also enjoy listening to Christmas music and watching holiday movies. I catch him and teen son whispering in the other room. I can guarantee it is not a discussion on what presents to buy me, rather an extraction plan of how to get out of watching the latest Lifetime Christmas flick. I intercept phrases like “Over pour her wine, so she falls asleep.” “Die Hard is a Christmas movie!” Oh! I am on to their scheme!
I casually come into the room fake coughing and say a little over dramatically like Greta Garbo: “That’s just the after-effect from my bout with Coronavirus.” I watch the guilt wash over him like a tsunami. He announces he will make popcorn for our movie.
During a commercial, I declare that we are going Christmas caroling with masks later in the week. Right before there is a revolt, I gingerly cough and smile.


Chapter One Hundred Twenty- Six: A seat at the table…

I often compare the various holidays to a dysfunctional brood of family members sitting around the dinner table, each with their own characteristics. Everyone has their own distinct personalities and opinions. They possess a particular Je ne sais quoi… if you will.

Let’s start with Christopher Columbus Day, I juxtapose this holiday to the racist cousin that visits once a year. The cousin no one wants to know or keep in contact with. We all remember the old song we had to learn in elementary school:”In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue”. Forced to memorize the names of his three ships: The Nina, The Pinta, and The Santa Maria. We had parades and a day off from school. As time went on and we began to see what exactly our distant cousin stood for we became less inclined to partake in any event that celebrates him. Columbus Day is like the interbred weird cousin that the family is ashamed of. He is seated at a folding chair, because he wasn’t invited to the family dinner, he just kind of showed up. Columbus Day is definitely the relative no one invites over…

Next, take Halloween. For example, seated at the dinner table, it could be described as the Goth Teen Black Sheep of the family. The non-conformist kid that you either REALLY like or REALLY wonder how you are related to someone so unique and unusual. You question their fashion choice, their dark side, their need to wear a disguise. The yearning to go to complete strangers homes like a party trick and beg for candy carrying a plastic pumpkin or without shame, show up on a doorstep with an ENORMOUS pillowcase intending to stuff to the brim with candy! The choice to take a chance with their life by ringing some random strangers’ doorbell in the hopes of not being murdered but receiving a treat.

Halloween is even so audacious enough to attach itself to the most DISGUSTING two candies EVER to exist:Candy Corn, and Circus Peanuts! The manner in which Halloween so brazenly forces those two candies in our face is a huge slap! Halloween beats to the sound of a different drum, it can be moody and dark, yet playful and fun. Like a teen, a mixture of hormones changing moods at a whim, depending on which way the wind blows.

Obviously, Halloween was quite different this year. While we once found it exciting wearing masks every Halloween, it has now become a normal part of everyday life. Let’s just say, and I feel confident speaking for most of us that the novelty of wearing a mask has worn off. Yet Halloween will still choose to wear one. Yes, Halloween is truly the rebel, outcast of the Holiday family….

Then there is Thanksgiving. The over hosting, stuffing until you pop, kind, chubby Aunt who winds up drinking too much only to pass out, regret, as well as forget, the insults along with dinner rolls that were hurled across the table kind of holiday. She is passive aggressive with her offerings of seconds on the mashed potatoes and simultaneously commenting in an underneath her breath, under handed way about your elastic waistband pants. Like a plump Aunt she smiles, yet judges at the same time. Unfortunately, you are too stuffed and on the verge of a food coma to put up a fight, waiting for the gravy to harden around your arteries. Pondering if this is the way you are going out on a stretcher in elastic waistband pants. So year after year like a victim of Stockholm Syndrome you return to your chubby Thanksgiving Aunt for another helping of insults.

Because your Aunt feeds you well, you may over look some of the conversations. You side step the rehashing of what the Colonists did to the Native Americans, by holding out your plate like Oliver Twist and saying:”More please!” Aunty Thanksgiving brings up the most TABOO topic of all POLITICS! but you and your elastic waistband pants are on a mission and you really want dessert. Then somehow politics are segued into football which you REALLY could care less about, you just want pie.

Yes, Thanksgiving is the complicated elderly Aunt that you have a love hate relationship with…

The succeeding seat at the table is the kind, emotional, story teller Uncle, aka Hanukkah. Never one to rush things, Uncle Hanukkah takes a good eight days to tell his stories. The word Hanukkah means dedication, and celebrating eight days you have to truly be dedicated. Now Uncle Hanukkah used to only give out Gelt(money) but as time went on gifts were incorporated. Most of the food is fried in oil for Hanukkah as a symbol for the miracle oil that burned for eight nights straight. Albeit Uncle Hanukkah may force you to get out those waistband pants that you put away after the Thanksgiving debacle. Fun fact! There are over 17.5 million jelly donuts consumed in Israel over Hanukkah and it makes me ponder opening up a Dunkin’ Donuts in Jerusalem.

Uncle Hanukkah also spells his name several different ways that is how cool, calm, mellow and sure of himself he is. Hanukkah is the neutral relative that everyone gets along with, accompanied by great stories…

Christmas I consider, as being the cheery Grandpa who comes bearing gifts and merriment with song.  There are expectations, yet they are already mapped out. Eat, drink, and be merry! Gone are the visions from the nightmare of Thanksgiving, you are almost fully recovered, only a few PTSD Thanksgiving episodes have occurred. Now visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads are there. Carols are sung, stockings hung, and the anticipated arrival of Santa. Christmas makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Now it could be the egg nog laced with copious amounts of rum that you have sucked down, which makes you feel sentimental and calm. But we know the truth, it is because you are receiving gifts, and most of us already know what those gifts are. You have picked them out, or asked for them. But Christmas like Grandpa has rules. You either open presents the night before, or on Christmas morning. Additionally, you attend Midnight Mass or some kind of church service.

Christmas namely Grandpa doesn’t let you get out scot free. You are maybe forced to attend a Live Nativity scene or some sort of play. If you want those presents, Christmas will make you work for them. Towards the end of Christmas day when all of the merriment and good tidings have worn off, you are ready for Grandpa aka Christmas to leave, head back to the North Pole. Looking around at all of the rumpled wrapping paper and oodles of decorations that you will need to take down and box away somehow makes Christmas look less inviting. You are sick of all the people in your home and if you hear one more Christmas carol your head will explode. You now for some reason have no empathy for Tiny Tim and your personality becomes more like Scrooge as the day progresses. Yup, time for Grandpa to return to the old age home. Once a year is PLENTY!

Yes, you are thrilled that Grandpa aka Christmas only visits once a year, and you thoroughly understand the phrase”Bah Humbug!”

In blows New Year’s Eve. She is not always kind, and I reckon she is somehow a lost twin of Valentines Day. Perhaps a distant cousin through marriage, none the less, she shows up every year to remind you how you are alone, and your entire year sucked. She proves to you as you sit eating Chinese food solo and watching Ryan Seacrest in Times Square, what a pathetic loser you truly are. You are like the voyeur watching all of these fabulous New Year’s Eve parties that you were not invited to.

Just when you have licked your wounds from New Year’s, and gotten out of the fetal position, here comes Valentine’s Day. She starts out like the sexy aloof distant cousin through marriage that no one is quite sure what to do with. But Valentine’s Day quickly turns into the weird spinster relative. Valentine’s Day is supposed to represent love and chocolate, but the spinster relative creeps in and it becomes about; disappointment, breakups, and loneliness.

It is as though the Spinster has given you a box of chocolates with only one edible chocolate in the entire box. Like her unwanted advice, you bite into each piece, sampling her unwelcome suggestions on how maybe next year Valentine’s Day can be different for you. She is no longer the mysterious relative you have been excited to see. Upon closer inspection, she is a frizzy haired, wrinkly, spinster that has sucked the life out of you, and you are pretty sure that she is no longer married to your relative. For sure, Valentine’s Day is that one family member that you can’t seem to escape from…

St. Patrick’s day is like the cousin of holidays no one wants to acknowledge.All we know about him is that he likes green and may look like a leprechaun. So let’s drink and throw him a parade! He is the drunk cousin that keeps popping up after he escapes rehab. His connection within the family is questionable. He is either the bastard son of a disinherited uncle or the half brother of a second cousin. no one knows for sure, but like a bad rash he keeps turning up expecting a parade.

Then we have Ramadan which is like the anorexic relative that we don’t eat in front of, we wait until the sun goes down and then gorge away, when they’re not looking. It’s our time of reflection yet we are too hungry to reflect. We know we are being selfless in fasting, but perhaps we just don’t have it in us.

Try to explain the family member of Easter. The relative who has an identity crisis that no one is allowed to speak of. You try to figure out what colored eggs, candy, baskets, bunnies, bonnets, and chicks have to do with Jesus and the resurrection? It’s just a cornucopia of chaos and nobody knows what the hell is going on. So you just go with the flow. There are whispers that perhaps Easter is actually related through marriage, making the other Holiday family members feel better that they are not related to a complete stew of nonsense that no one can seem to explain.

You partake in Easter egg hunts because thats what you are supposed to do. You smile at the giant Easter Bunny that is hopping around the garden and ponder could this be Christopher Columbus crashing the family get together…

Fourth of July is like the old, decrepit relative that we keep having HUGE birthday celebrations for. Every year it’s the same theme, because chances are they can’t remember last year’s party. There are picnics, parades, fireworks, and I guarantee most attending don’t know the age of the guest of honor…

Yes. Like one huge dysfunctional family.

Chapter One Hundred Twenty- Five: Ma’am is not Florence Nightingale…

I find Confused Husband on the sofa flopping around like a fish out of water. He shares with me his kidney stone issue, sweating and writhing whilst bellowing: “You try pushing an ENORMOUS object out of a tiny hole!” Yes, he has the audacity to say this to my face! (we have four children!) I recall him being in the delivery room at the time…

I feel that most men cannot handle pain. A point in case a headache turns out to be a brain tumor. A fever turns into Typhoid each time he has an ache or pain; it is Googled and, then, we have to hear the sad tale of his demise according to some quack he found online, that has Doomed-diagnosed him.

There was the “Poison Ivy Fiasco” of the early ’90s. He had poison ivy on his leg and, self-diagnosed as Leprosy. It was RIDICULOUS! Although I did inquire about the infamous Leper Colony in Istanbul(where we were living at the time) and see if they had any vacancies…

This nonsensical sitcom turns into a documentary about the notorious kidney stone. I begin to think of it as our fifth child. All of our socializing and routines are now revolving around “the stone” I suggest a stroll over to Starbucks, which is literally feet from our home. He looks at me like I have just said: “Hop, on the chuck wagon Westward HO!” He looks perplexed: “Well, what if the stone decides to make an appearance?” (like it is a celebrity or the Pope).

“For Fuck Sake! Then you can walk back across the street into our home.” He is frustrated that I don’t show empathy for his current situation. He reiterates the pain he is in. Hours later, he has a GRAND announcement: “The stone has passed!” This declaration is SOOO over the top! As though he has just proclaimed the war has ended. Does he expect a Ticker-Tape parade?

Upset that I am not fawning over his stone and his angst like he feels I should be, he begins to sketch out a portrait of his stone. I feel like I am watching a tutorial by Bob Ross. It is LUDICROUS! He is yammering on and on continuing his farcical seminar. He is shading in his stone and acting as though he is creating an artistic masterpiece. His stone ironically looks like Italy to me with a shorter heel. He is quite upset by my description of his stone. He insists that ironically his stone sketch looks EXACTLY like a kidney bean. Never one to admit he is wrong, he leaves the house avec his pitiful sketch in hand. I watch him out on the sidewalk like the roving reporter going up to people and showing them his sketch. I observe him heading further away until he and his little Italian bean sketch are out of sight.

Hours later, he bursts into the house to proclaim that after taking a survey of seven complete strangers(I am hearing sirens in the distance and wondering if they are headed here to cart him away in a rubber suit, after receiving several complaints of a nuisance in the neighborhood). Five of them agreed with him that it indeed was a kidney-looking stone, and the two that agreed with me that it looked like Italy were an elderly- woman with cataracts, and the other one didn’t speak English so, he thought she was saying Italy! (She was probably saying, IDIOT! Or calling for help in her native tongue).

I am all out of sympathy and he then bellows”You could never be Florence Nightingale! You have no empathy for me! That mister we can agree on….