What’s that in the road — a head?

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‘On Swedes and their noggins’

Last week, in ‘Close, but no cigarette’, I wrote about malapropisms. You know, like when someone warns about ‘upsetting the apple tart’ or says they put too much ‘canine pepper’ in the soup. (Thanks for that one, Ruth!) Infamous Chicago Mayor Richard Daley once mentioned ‘Alcoholics Unanimous’ in a speech. And, of course, Donald wants our nuclear weapons to be ‘top of the pack’.

This week, I’m going to write about Swedes and their heads, a subject dear to my heart, since I am in possession of a classic example. But first, speaking of heads, did you ‘get’ the title? ‘What’s that in the road — a head?’

When I was a kid, our mother would regale us with stuff like this all the time. Like, she would say (or sing, actually) ‘She has freckles on her but…she is nice’ (with extra dramatic flourish on that word ‘but’) and we kids would absolutely crack up. There’s nothing like the word ‘but’, with or without that extra ‘t’, to make a little kid weep with laughter. Incidentally, the next verse was ‘and when I’m in her arms, it’s paradise’. Continue reading

What in heaven’s name do kids do at Atheist Camp?

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‘Well, you can bet they don’t sing Kumbaya

After last week’s story about The Dude and The Child and Gary the J, I promised to stay away from stories involving politics. So, instead, here’s a story involving religion.

It’s about the time(s) The Child went to Atheist Camp.

First, let me say something about camp. When I was a kid in the Midwest there were two kinds: Church Camp and Scout (specifically, Boy-or-Girl-Scout) Camp. I’ve learned from my Northeastern friends that they had their own two kinds: Day Camp and Sleepaway Camp.

A third kind of camp: 'ing' We did a lot of this when I was growing up

A third kind of camp. With an ‘ing’ on the end. We did a lot of this kind when I was growing up

These days, of course, there are all kinds of camps, Math Camp and Music Camp being just two I can think of. There’s even Computer Camp. Wait. Isn’t there a danger of getting S’mores on your keyboard? But I digress.

Anyway, this atheist camp was (and is; I looked it up, and it’s still going strong) called Camp Quest. The name ‘Quest’, I learned from its Wikipedia entry, is actually an acronym for ‘Question, Understand, Explore, Search, Test’. Hmmmm. Like ‘LOL’ is ‘Lots O Love’. Continue reading

The House Guest Hall of Fame

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‘I hope you had a really really good time’

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of an extra room must be in want of a house guest. (Sorry, Jane Austen.)

When I told The Child about my plan to write a post about house guests (both the really great ones and the really, um, not-so-great ones), she was concerned.

‘Mom! What if one of the Not-So-Great Guests reads your post and sees that you’re writing about him (or her)!’ And I’m like ‘So? Maybe he or she would benefit from being thusly outed. And besides, I don’t think any of them even reads my blog.’ (Another reason they find themselves in the Not-So-Great File).

But then, just the other day, when I was thinking of writing a post featuring a television appearance by Yours Truly in a documentary that appeared on British TV back in the 90’s called ‘Skyscraper’. (I know, I know. You’re very excited and impressed.) I was nervous about appearing, well, self-aggrandizing, and the self-same Child said, ‘Hey. It’s your blog. You can write about whatever you want.’ Continue reading

The days are long, but the season is short

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‘Childhood and Summer. Both over way too soon.’

Some wit on Facebook said the other day that September was kind of like one big ole Monday. Well, I totally get that. Places to go, people to see, work to do, school to go back to.

But, hey. If September is Monday, then isn’t August Sunday Night? You know what I mean. Summer starts out so full of possibilities and then all of a sudden it’s August, and you’re filled with regret over all the stuff you didn’t have time for. That New Thing you were going to learn (yes, I mean you, bridge.) That project you were going to finish (the Christmas pillow I’ve been needle-pointing my entire adult life). That book you were going to write (or just, um, read).

If August were a book, it would be this one

If August were a book, it would be this one

When it comes right down to it, that unused paddle board in the basement isn’t so different, really, from that pile of math homework that used to confront you accusingly on the dining room table while ‘Sixty Minutes’ ticked away in the living room.

What makes things even worse is when you realize that you actually had the time to do all these things, but just didn’t get around to them — because, well, summer is so long, and you have plenty of time. Continue reading

Something everybody but me knows how to do

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‘And what happened the one time I tried to do it’

I grew up in The Midwest, where people drive. A lot. I can remember all seven of us piling in the station wagon and making the more-than-six-hours drive up to my Gramma Peterson’s and back — for the weekend.

So yes, I know how to drive. I can handle not only one but two stick-shift cars (’91 Honda and ’98 Toyota, if you’re curious). And I have my motorcycle license, besides.

But — embarrassing though it is for me to admit — I never learned how to pump gas.

See, when I was growing up, there were people at the gas stations whose job it was to pump your gas. They also checked your oil and washed your windows. While wearing snappy uniforms. Seriously! Here, if you find this hard to believe, is a TV commercial from the Sixties that now, darn it, I can’t get out of my head:  Continue reading

Clothes don’t make The Dude

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‘”But those are my favorite pants!” And other tales of sartorial splendor’

I made two Jitney drop-off trips yesterday. One in the morning so my Middle Younger Brother Roger and his wife Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn could spend a steamy day sightseeing in the City. The other was in the evening so that The Dude could spend a steamy week slaving in his office.

The Jitney, in case you’re not a New York City Area Reader, is a conveyance upon which many people travel back and forth to The Hamptons. You have to make a reservation to ride it, and they give you a thing of water and a teensy pack of nuts, but it’s basically a bus. They call it a ‘jitney’ because New Yorkers, well, are New Yorkers.

If it looks like a bus and rides like a bus, it’s an, um, jitney

Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about the Jitney when the title (and hunky photo at the top) is about The Dude and his wardrobe. Well, hold your horses. I’m getting there. Continue reading

Getting along with the neighbors

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‘A landlubber learns to lub the sea. Well, sort of.’

As someone who grew up in the Midwest far from any major body of water — not even a Great Lake, mind you — I have always maintained a healthy respect for the ocean.

I mean, creatures live in the ocean. Big creatures. Sure, lakes have fish living in them. But the odd perch or bluegill or crappie (yes, that’s a fish, pronounced ‘croppie’, in case you were wondering) isn’t really very scary. Unless you’re treading water and one of them, you know, brushes against your leg under the water. Which is pretty creepy.

Me, gamely 'enjoying' Lake Carlyle. Hoping that a crappie won't take a fancy to one of my toes

Me, gamely ‘enjoying’ Lake Carlyle. Hoping that a crappie won’t take a fancy to one of my toes. Note that my hair is not even wet

But ‘creepy’ doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the creatures who frequent the briny deep. I made this deal with them early on in our relationship — sharks, manta rays, jellyfish, are you listening? — ‘You stay out of my living room, and I’ll stay out of yours.’

Continue reading