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MORE secrets from The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual



Digg!
dumpFace it, it’s no fun, and we’ve all been there… unless you’re one of those who’s married your elementary school sweetheart and have no experience whatsoever with the words:

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

…which everyone (except you) knows actually mean: “It’s not you, I’m an asshole.”

There are a zillion different scenarios, which I won’t delve into here. For instance, the kind where you see it coming: he’s phoning less and less. Your stomach lurches every time you look at your cell phone and notice all the little green arrows. Huh. Every time you see his number, YOU called HIM.

Bad. Bad sign.

SO…. you start getting a little pissier each time you DO talk. HE doesn’t want to call someone who’s always pissy. Would you? Things spiral downhill from there… yet somehow… when the big fat DUMP comes…

Surprise! (was it me? what did I do? why doesn’t he want to have babies with me? wait – I don’t WANT babies. wait – was it me – wait. WHAT?) All you say, however, is just a quiet, emotionless: “Okay.” Sometimes your back stiffens and you get a little formal, and you might give him two whole words: “That’s fine.” 

The big fat LURCH in your stomach comes up– and sometimes, later, even the contents of your stomach itself.

The point is, he or she doesn’t want you anymore, despite all your brilliant qualities, your sparkling conversation, your cool emoticons, nifty predictive texting, and the Brainbone Awards gleaming on your Facebook Page.

So you’ve eaten three and a half Ben & Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch tubs. And the Family Size Bag of Fun-Size Snickers. And the loaf of toast, with Thousand Island dressing dipping sauce, when everything else was gone.

You’ve called in sick, so you could surf the Web all day. You’re struggling to resist e-mailing him, and as you’re trying to distract yourself, you find yourself on WikiHow.com, seeing if you can teach yourself how to pull off a Denial of Service Attack Hack on his web site, or if you would get caught if you learned how to program a Trojan Virus that would wipe him out of existence, or at least write your name over and over on his screensaver.

But you know, from the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual that you were handed in the cigarette-smoke filled bathrooms in school that you will not do any of these things.

It’s okay to fantasize epic revenge, of course. In fact, now’s as good a time as any: Here, I’ll help you: 

Go ahead, you can’t be judged by your thoughts, only by your actions; let’s get it out of your system, and then you’ll be free. C’mon, you can do it. You know you want to. Yeah, see? I see you smiling. 

You see him, don’t you? Old, and alone. Your picture, clasped in his bony, fragile hand, his other hand, trembling and thin, raised to his sobbing, thickly creased face. Your young, beautiful face is partially obscured by his many past tears, it is obvious. The room he is in is dark and cold, and an old, tattered blanket rests across his wheelchair. You can just barely hear his voice call your name, in a throaty voice profound with regret – then you hear the nurses behind him, whispering more loudly amongst themselves: “Poor bastard. He’s been like this for years. All he’ll ever say is her name.”

There, now. Don’t you feel better? Now, get over yourself.

NOW:

You WILL:

Stoically behave as if you do not care; it’s not as if anyone can actually HURT a superwoman such as yourself.

You WILL:

Casually toss your hair back, as if moving onto the next dance partner at the waltz, your crinoline waving around you in a graceful cloud.

You WILL:

Gently (so as not to further damage the delicate skin under your eyes) clear those dark smudgy puddles of mascara and tears, and max out your cards at the Esteé Lauder counter so you will look even MORE fabulous. You are allowed to get your eyebrows waxed, perhaps a mani-pedi, but you are NOT allowed for the next four to six months to cut your hair. You are WAY too vulnerable.

You WILL:

Embrace “THE CONCEPTS.”

  1. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
  2. He doesn’t deserve me.
  3. I was too good for him.

You will NOT:

Wander aimlessly through the 7-11, absently muttering “ASShole,” loudly enough to offend innocent passersby.

You will NOT:

Jam your car into Drive, or into Park, hard enough to do enough damage to cost you actual money, because it will most certainly not be said asshole who will be paying for it now, will it?

You will NOT:

Get dolled up and go alone to a fancy bar – or worse, a dive bar – just for the comforts of flirtation or free drinks. Do I really need to explain why THIS is a bad idea?

Don't let this happen to you.

Don't let this happen to you.

And, this bears repeating, because you WILL be sorely tempted: 
YOU WILL NOT, I repeat, NOT, CUT YOUR HAIR. Maybe – and only if a unanimous decision is approved by your closest friends – consider a color change or highlights, but ONLY IF DONE PROFESSIONALLY. 

YOU WILL:

Recall that as The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual gets scribbled over during your lifetime with jotted notes, footnotes, and Post-Its, it evolves, somehow, into the Not-So-Fucking-Secret-Mutually-Supportive-I’m-Here-For-You-Sister-Woman’s Manual, and you learn:

THE CONCEPTS are actually TRUE.

There ARE plenty of fish in the sea. The thing is, those fish are the people who really DO love you: your family, your kids, your friends – your guy friends, too, who come in really handy at a time like this – and your best girlfriends, who are AWESOME, and to whom you CAN mutter “ASShole” as loudly as you like, and they will set up a cheer squad for you, complete with pyramid.

If he’s foolish enough to dump you, he probably DIDN’T deserve you, and you WERE too good for him, so do YOURSELF a favor, and move on – it’s actually the best thing for you, because moving on, having no revenge at all, ironically turns out to be the best revenge of all –

… because men always want what they can’t have.

If you move on, have yourself a good old life, happy with yourself, you just MIGHT haunt them forever as the one that got away.

It won’t bother YOU.

You’ll be too busy fighting the rest of the fish off with a stick.

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What’s My Item?


The Escape Hammer

The Escape Hammer

 

My mother – who has been mentioned before in this blog, affectionately, if weirdly – has been affectionate and weird again, just in time for the holidays.

This has become a holiday tradition – considering that my birthday is exactly one week before Christmas – if Christmas is on a Thursday, then so is my birthday – I usually get a double-dose of wackiness in December.

My mom, much like myself, is unconventional. Only imagine how unconventional SHE is, if, when I open a present from her, I never fail to be perplexed and amused.

None of the regular Mom-type gifts from Betsy. Forget sweaters, shirts, scarves, or earrings. I got a cool frying pan once, that I still use – it’s amazingly easy to clean, which is to be expected from my fanatically tidy Mom – no matter what you char inside of it, it just wipes off, and it’s not even non-stick. I have no idea where she found it, or what she paid for it, but every time I caramelize onions, I think of her gratefully.

Which is, oddly, probably exactly what she had in mind when she gave it to me.

Last year she gave me homemade dishtowels, potholders and place mats – in assorted, non-matching colors. It took me a few days to figure out exactly what they were, but they were nice. The potholders don’t keep your hands safe from the heat, the place mats are a little too thick for the table, and the dish towels are kind of an odd size – plus the colors are pure Betsy: but my little one loves them, because they’re sort of rainbow, as in “I used up all my cotton yarn on you.”

Still, the thrill of opening a gift from Betsy is like nothing else. There is no way on earth one could possibly ever guess what’s inside, because there’s no way anyone else got you the same thing.

Wait – that’s not quite true. You CAN get a heads-up on what you got from Betsy – if you manage to get a hold of one of my sisters: because Betsy does things in triplicate. Whatever I get, my sisters also get. So whoever opens first, knows what the other two got.

This year is the quintessential Betsy gift. My mother, in addition to being Joan Crawfordesque in her quest for the most immaculate living space possible, is also Grizzly Bearesque in her quest to keep her “babies” – all of us adults, now, with cubs of our own – safe from any harm that might befall us.

Harm includes: rain, snow, sleet, ice, sunburn, disease, random cartoon safes falling from the sky, hangnails, paper cuts, broken bones, hurt feelings (commenters, beware), and a host of other ills that plague her soul daily.

Her coping strategy is usually “out of sight, out of mind,” which allows our thousand-mile distance – she lives in a southern state, I live in New York – to mitigate her anxiety somewhat. That, and a massive capability for denial, for example:

Me: “Mom, I took the kids to the city today to see the exhibits at the Met – we had a really good time.”

Mom: “By yourself?”

Me: slapping forehead, muttering “stupid self, stupid self…” “Oh, no, Mom – We just happened on a regiment of Marines here in town, and they offered to escort us down. Wasn’t that lucky?”

Mom: breathing a deep sigh of relief “How nice. What nice boys. Did they enjoy the Monet?”

So this year, although I live in a landlocked area, and work from home, and rarely drive more than a few miles to anywhere, I opened a small rectangular package containing a small, heavy, extremely sturdy double-pointed steel hammer.

Upon inspection – lots of inspection, which included a Google search – I learned that this was the “famous” Escape Hammer – proven by the Mythbusters Show as being able to shatter the windows of a submerged automobile, in the event of such a disaster.

“You screw it somewhere easy to reach in your car,” Betsy explained, excitedly. “And then, if your car is ever underwater, you can get out the window! I got one for everybody. And Mythbusters tried it and confirmed that it works, so you won’t have to die.”

Reassuring – and especially interesting, as I happen to be between cars at the moment, and I doubt that Enterprise would appreciate my screwing anything to the Dodge I’m currently renting.

But who wants to worry Mom?

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The REAL serpent in the garden


 

C'mon, you know you want to.

C'mon, you know you want to.

So the holidays are (sort of) over, and my 12-year-old and I are the only ones up and around, clunking about, kicking around holiday debris, enjoying some quality(?) time together, here, on this Saturday morning, around 10-ish, after Christmas.

 

I’m losing a little bit of patience, however, because I kind of thought we were past the baby-talk stage. Never did I talk to my kids in baby talk. I wanted them to learn to actually say “bottle,” not “bah-bah,” so that’s what I would say to them.

Therefore, they learned to speak, not babble, except for my youngest, who persisted in calling her older sister “Bluh-luh” for the longest time – a sound which doesn’t remotely resemble her true name, which begins with a vowel. Still, it helped – and I felt far less like a fool as I chatted endlessly and hopefully at strollers with belted-in droolers. Yeah, I’m really not a baby person. I just had them, and as I tell them both, I like them better and better the older they get.

I take my duty seriously, though, to teach them. Them, at least – not the whole world. The rest of the world, I simply catalog as stupid, smart or somewhere in between, and I tolerate both with equanimity and relative good humor. The stupid make good fodder for this blog. The smart entertain and teach me – though as I often remind my kids, anyone, however stupid, can teach you something.

Today, however, I felt obligated to teach my 12-year-old.

“Mom, where does ‘I’m not my brother’s keeper’ come from?”

Aghast at my own failing to instill any kind of background in the study of religion, however comparative, I was momentarily speechless. Doesn’t EVERYONE know that? Doesn’t everyone somehow assimilate the story of Cain and Abel?

Apparently not.

Having yanked the poor child out of religious education after she attempted to throw herself from a moving car, rather than endure the misery of Roman Catholic Confession, I realized my child was suffering from large gaps in her education.

“Honey, I’ll tell you what one of my favorite professors in college told me. No educated person has NOT read the entire Bible.”

“WHAT?” she gasped. “The whole THING?”

“Not at a single sitting, goof,” I laughed. “But fear not. It’s just a clump of small books, strung together. You don’t even have to read it in order.”

“Moooom…”

I turned stern. “It’s shorter than ‘Twilight.’ ”  Then I softened. “Come on. I’ll read some to you.”

We read the story of Cain and Abel, and then, for background, we started on the Creation story, which led to some trouble before I even cracked the first “Let there be light.”

I began to mutter something about “Creationists” equaling “lunatics,” forgetting completely that I was talking to someone I’d indoctrinated to have tolerance for all beliefs.

My lack of kindness for folks who ignore the colossal body of fossil records and massive scientific evidence in favor of a version of an earth being created that has trees springing up “bing-bing-bing” in a day really pissed her off.

That is, until I started reading it.

“Wait, Mom – a dome? God created the sky as a dome? So, what is that saying about the earth?”

“That it’s FLAT, honey.”

“So, how big is it supposed to be? And what’s beyond the dome?”

I pointed to the first paragraph. “The abyss, honey.”

We went on.

“A basin? Wait, Mom – the sea is a basin? Like a big bowl?”

I nodded.

“Wait, Mom – sea monsters?”

I nodded.

“Wait, Mom – Adam named all the animals? What, in English?”

“Well, no, wait, I don’t know. Maybe Aramaic.”

“What’s Aramaic?”

“An ancient language.”

She did get excited when the geography part started – when the river in Eden is described, and the Tigris and Euphrates are named. (She’s good at geography.)

The temptation of Eve, however, was unsettling. You see, a lot of misconceptions abound regarding that little tale – but if you read the book, as we did this morning, you learn a lot about who the snake really is.

Sure, it’s Eve who does the talking with the serpent – but it says right there in the book, Adam is with her the whole time. Does he speak up? Say anything like: “Eve – babe – is this really the best idea? Didn’t God say cheese it on that tree?” Does Adam step in front of her and say, “No thanks, leave my wife alone?”

No. The wuss does nothing except grab the apple and munch when it’s his turn.

It gets worse. When God, like an angry dad, comes strolling through the garden, where Adam and Eve are hiding behind a plant (literally), and says: “Hey! You kids, get out here. Who told you that you were naked?”

(At which point my daughter inserted: “Our EYES.”)

Adam, the rat, the snitch, the stoolie, the coward, puts his weak-ass little hand on his wife’s back and shoves her right under the bus. “SHE did it. She ate the apple, and SHE gave it to ME.”

So the Old Testament God, who is, if you notice, a rather moody thing, short-tempered and VERY big on vengeance, doles out THIS punishment:

You: woman – childbirth is going to SUCK.

You: man – no more plucking from the trees. Now you have to sweat and farm.

You: serpent – crawl on your belly, and everyone is going to hate you.

And He locks up the garden of Eden – because there’s one tree left He wants to make sure NOBODY gets a hold of: the Tree of Life. Eat that, and you’ll live forever.

God puts a revolving fiery sword and a band of cherubim at the gate. Nice. Keep in mind, when you hear cherubim, don’t think sweet little cherubs. Every single time an angel appears in sacred texts, the first thing they say isn’t what you see on the Lifetime Channel: “Hey, let me solve your problems.”

It’s: “Be not afraid.”

You think Twilight vampires are scary, exciting reading? Try the Bible. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s a real page turner, that’s for sure.

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A Rampage of Minor Atrocities


rampageMy 12-year-old is on a Rampage of Minor Atrocities.

She says she (a) wants to get over her Fear Of Getting In Trouble, and (b) Wants To Rebel, which (she says) is a Very Difficult Task with a mother like me.

“Why?” I asked, puzzled. I’d assumed rebellion was sort of a built-in no-brainer (sometimes literally, as in “Where were your brains when you chose that friend/wore that outfit/called your mother a bitch/set fire to the table?”) when you’re newly hormonal.

“It’s tough to be a rebel when your mother doesn’t disapprove of anything you do,” she said.

It’s true. My two daughters, 12 and 9, have asked me why they never get “punished” – as in, bed without dinner, sit in the corner, beatings, or the typical sanctions. Instead, if they spill something carelessly (as, really, we ALL do), they simply have to help me clean it up (or clean it up themselves). (As we all do.)

If they’re fresh-mouthed, I either don’t speak to them, (which they HATE, but it’s what I’d do to anyone else, right?) or I assume they’re too tired to behave, and so it’s beddy-bye.

Consequences, rather than punishments. It just makes more sense. Two weeks ago, my youngest and her pal sloshed through my black and white kitchen (newly painted, newly floored) and got mud all over EVERYTHING.

Next day, I hear her friend whisper: “Did you get in trouble?”

Youngest, to her friend: “I don’t GET in trouble,” she said.

“You don’t? You LUCKY!”

A snort. “Yeah, SO lucky. I hadda get on my hands and knees with my mom and wash the floors and cabinets we messed up.”

So said Oldest, in her Rampage of Minor Atrocities, poured Gatorade on the seat of a classmate. The next day, she confessed to the friend, who, with an exasperated gasp, pointed in amused horror at her friend. “It was YOU! I had to wear my hoodie around my waist all DAY because of you!”

“You’re telling on yourself?” I asked her in surprise.

“That’s half the fun,” she grinned. Then she did a dead-on accurate Cheerleader: “AAAHH! Where’s my ponytail?” I watched in horrified fascination as she then mimed swinging an invisible ponytail in front of said imaginary cheerleader’s face.

I laughed till I cried. Then: “You didn’t really cut anyone’s ponytail off, did you?”

A beat. Then: “No, Mom.”

I exhaled.

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But I didn’t WANNA go to school…


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The worst was the “A, B, C, D, E, and F” days. I was in homeroom, so, obliged to follow the teacher’s rules of raising my hand before speaking, I dutifully raised my hand as she, in the robotically- cheerful-but-could-turn-on-you-any-moment-way that only teachers have, was chirping, “Now, today, I think, is a B-day that you’ll be following on your child’s schedule.”

I’d examined the schedule. Arm beginning to ache, the lovely, midway pregnant, still graceful, no makeup, about my age teacher (whom I’m sure had never been in the real world, but rather instead had simply never left school—just moved to the power side of the desk) — at last acknowledged me.

“If B, D, and F days are the same,” I asked, “and C and E days are the same, why don’t they just have A and B days?”

Duh, right?

Then again, I’d worked for a time as Management in Real World Big Business, where the Bottom Line was an Important Thing. Also, so were Budgets, where you Cut to the Chase, and Axed Everything that was Unnecessary. Including people, which was one reason why it had sucked, and I now prefer my life as a starving artist.

The teacher was patient with me, the ignorant parent. She shrugged at first. “It’s just how they do it,” and turned, apparently thinking I’d be satisfied with such a ridiculous answer.

“Why do they do it that way?” I asked her back, at the same time thinking to myself: it is SO not fair that she doesn’t even LOOK pregnant from the back. When I was pregnant, being only five-foot-one, with all my height in my legs, from about three months in, I look like I swallowed a torpedo. And that’s about the nicest thing you can say about how I look pregnant. She WAS one of those gorgeous, glowy girls, I had to hand it to her. 

She turned around, surprised I still existed, and gave me another Colgate grin, and another shrug. “It’s just their system. It’s just the way they do the days here at this school.”

As if slightly different wording would make me go: “Ooooh, I get it. Shut up, Ms. Bushey.”

Echoes from my own school experiences came flooding back. This little Open House adventure, concocted by who knows whom, was for parents of my daughter’s middle school classes to live through a truncated “Day In The Life” of their own kid.

Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies, I thought. Better still: ask me no questions. I’m the teacher.

“I’m sorry, I still don’t understand,” I tried once more — in all seriousness, not to be annoying, but because I really didn’t get it, and I never WAS one to sit there, unsatisfied. I had no problem bringing the entire classroom to a dead halt while I stubbornly would attempt, although often fail, to make the teacher stop, and go over my question until I got it. After all, if I didn’t get the binomial theorem, there were likely others who didn’t and simply didn’t have the nerve to speak up. “Why?”

This time I got a terse: “It’s just the way they do it. I don’t know why.

Okay, I thought, at least that’s an answer. At least you admit you don’t know. As she turned her back on me again, I silently mouthed to the parents in the seats one row back: “I wouldn’t last a day here,” and they started to giggle.

This WAS turning out to be just like real school for me.

I felt a little hornswaggled by the whole deal, to tell you the truth. The paper had only said: Open House, 6:30 p.m. – not “Go to School for Three Hours, and no Smoking.”

Because the law says you can’t smoke on school grounds, although I am buddies with the cop on duty at the school, who TOTALLY would not bust me – I know this, because during “lunch” – I came over to her. “Hey, Officer Boss! Be my friend, okay, cuz I have no one to sit with.”

She laughed. “Not one of the popular kids yet, huh?”

“Well, that, and you can protect me.”

“True. I’m the only one here with a gun. At least, I should be. Let me know if you see anyone else with one, okay?”

“I’ll be sure to let you know, Starsky.”

Officer Boss – besides having the absolute best cop name in the universe – is a drop-dead beautiful but tough as nails (on the outside) police officer stationed at the middle school. She knows every kid by name, including mine, and keeps tabs on them all. While not by nature a police lover, I do like her a lot – and a few others on our town’s force. They happen to be quite cool.

I tried calling Peter during class switches, but the cell service was spotty, and besides, the teacher made me put my cell phone away when he walked in. Poor Peter, who couldn’t really hear what I was saying, wasn’t sure if I was calling for help, letting him know I’d be home soon, or reciting the multiplication tables.

That teacher I actually liked a lot – he, like myself, does not believe in homework. I wanted to jump out of desk and high-five him. One other teacher, when I asked her, told me she thought homework should take no less than thirty minutes.

The kid has seven classes. If every teacher gives thirty minutes of homework (see how much I learned?) that’s three and a half hours of homework – on top of a full day of school.

How many grownups have to keep working almost four hours after they get home? It’s outrageous, really. No wonder middle-schoolers have such terrible attitudes. I know by the time I left, I had a pretty rotten attitude myself. (Plus, I was dying for a cigarette.)

It was an excellent idea they had – making us live our kids’ lives for a few hours. It was illuminating to meet their teachers, walk the halls of the school, smell that school smell that takes us back to our old, powerless days. When teachers walked the earth like giants, and principals were kings and queens.

I addressed every teacher by his or her first name. Ha ha.

By the same token, I made sure to offer my volunteer services whenever I could – in an attempt to be part of a solution, not just a needling prod. For instance, in my daughter’s English class, I sympathized with her teacher who was obviously frustrated at having to “teach for the test” – the obnoxious standardized test the state administers.

One aspect is determining “fact from opinion.” As a former journalist, I offered to be a guest speaker. She nearly cried out with delight. Points for my kid.

Points for my kid from me, too, for keeping her chin up in an oppressive environment. Kids ask me all the time if I’d rather be a kid or a grownup. I don’t have to think about it.

Grownup, hands-down. I can do all the kids’ stuff I want to – plus, I don’t have to go to school, and I can eat frosting out of the can.

Unless there’s another open house where they make me go to school again, the sneaks. But I think it did me some good.

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I’m with stupid.


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I'm with stupid. Thank goodness.

I

It takes someone really, really intelligent to pull off stupid.

I don’t mean your ordinary, garden-variety stupid — the kind of stupid I encounter like this:

Me, to my dog, Tucker:Arrêt. Assieds. Viens ici.” (Meaning, in informal French, “Stop. Sit down. Come here.” More about this later.*)

Onlooker (or is it “onlistener?”): “Your dog speaks French?”

Me: (struggling to restrain myself from flicking their head with my thumb and forefinger) “Well, he’s really terrible at correcting my French, I’ll say that much. But mostly he’s a good listener.”

Because dogs don’t speak ANYTHING, DUH.

So I don’t mean THAT kind of stupid. We’re all immersed in THAT kind of stupid everyday, and actually we can view it positively.

especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

We can feel like geniuses, especially when we do something that makes us feel developmentally disabled, like struggle for an embarrassingly long time pushing on a door you’re supposed to pull, when you tuck your skirt into your pantyhose, or when some joker at the party ruins your joke by saying something annoying like “What do you mean you don’t remember the binomial theorem?”

Or worse, when you’re wasting time online and get sucked into those horrid IQ tests, and realize that you really aren’t even dull normal. (Why don’t I know the capital of Greenland? Did I ever? Do I need to? Does anyone else? Do they even, in Greenland?)

Still worse is when your nine-year-old comes to you with her math homework, and you — you, who began your own college career as a math major before you realized you didn’t have the imagination for it and became a writer instead — goggle at it, desperately turn the workbook upside-down in the hopes that perhaps that will help, and then feign a casual shrug, rationalize that you are encouraging their independence and say: “We learned math a different way when I was in fifth grade. I suggest you ask your teacher.”

Okay. So now that we’ve ruled out the kind of stupid I don’t mean, let’s talk about the kind of stupid I do mean.

I have enormous admiration for actors like Brenda Song, Suzanne Somers, and Ashton Kutcher, all of whom play, or have played, characters who are so dim they border on nearly retarded, were they to inhabit real life. It takes an extremely intelligent actor to pull that off.

You can tell, because less intelligent actors try to do it and it just doesn’t work. They actually ARE stupid, and it shows.  The jokes aren’t funny, the timing is off, the whole thing falls flat.

Two days ago, my older daughter, who is 12 going on 22, and I, were having a very funny exchange, making fun of each other because she is a golden blonde who dyes her hair red, and I am a redhead who dyes her hair blonde.

(I do this, not for the blonde thing, but because my naturally auburn hair grows in dark – but the very second I step into the sunlight – winter or summer – my hair lightens considerably, making it LOOK as if I color my hair. So I figured, what the heck, why not play?)

Hence, blonde jokes are inevitable. Now: my oldest has developed a rapier wit that leaves you bleeding before you even feel the knife. I’m funny, but her dad is funny too – in a very dry way. She’s gotten the best of both. She’s a colossus of brainy humor, and you NEVER see it coming.

I am at the stove, obediently cooking bacon for the girl, who is growing like a beanstalk and already towering like a willow over me. She is sitting on the kitchen island, swinging her long legs, sitting bolt upright, hands crossed over her chest, lips pursed.

“I don’t know if I can eat that,” she says, in a too-sweet voice. “Is bacon a meat?

Not quite catching on yet, I turn a head. “Boy, you really ARE blonde.”

“Well,” she continues, à la Valley Girl, “I’m re-evaluating my commitment to meatatarianism.”

I hop onto the stupid train with her. “Well, it’s a spiritual thing, you know. A real commitment has to last, you know, like, at least, like, a few hours, at least – you know?”

“Are you a vegetarian?” she asks, big blue eyes wide.

“I don’t know,” I respond helplessly.

She tilts a sympathetic head. “It’s Oh-Kay…” she says, extending the vowels, “everyone experiments sexually.”

I was gone after that. Not only was I flabbergasted that my 12-year-old could make such a clever joke, but I was delighted that she was intelligent enough to play stupid so very well.

* I speak French to my dog for two reasons: one, he is more intelligent than most humans, and once I taught him all the commands in English, he got bored, so I decided to reteach him everything in French. The other reason is that I don’t have anyone else to speak French to, so I speak French to him.

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Whack a Mobster, Waste Some Time. It’s Fun. Really.


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Elizabeth Williams Bushey is officially addicted to Mobsters

Elizabeth Williams Bushey is officially addicted to Mobsters

I am now officially addicted to Mobsters.

 

At least that’s what it’s said on my “status” indicator now for weeks on my “myspace” page. “Elizabeth is… “officially addicted to Mobsters.” Mood: “intense.”

This is NOT my fault. It is totally and completely the fault of Peter’s son, who sent me an invite to join the game. Ordinarily I avoid computer and video games like the plague, having once thrown my back out and been couch-ridden for two months. I became so obsessed with SuperMario Brothers that upon my recovery, I nearly had to join a 12-Step Program.

I tossed the Nintendo® and never looked back. I won’t even let my daughters have a PlayStation, or a Wii, or anything that connects to the television.

(They watch too much as it is; TV’s another problem of mine to avoid. I don’t watch TV – not out of snobbery, mind you: more like the 12-Step thing.

ANYTHING – no matter how stupid, like “America’s Top Model” – will suck me in and mesmerize me, so better that I never turn the darn thing on in the first place.)

My kids are lucky to own Nintendo® DS thingies, upon which they play games where they train pretend robot puppies, or inhabit virtual cities with avatars of themselves with blue or pink hair.

One game they play cracks me up – they HAVE to own a house, and they HAVE to pay a mortgage on it, so they HAVE to have a job. THERE’S a game worth playing, I think.

But Mobsters? I dunno.

 

My stats on Mobsters

My stats on Mobsters

My accomplishments on Mobsters are dubious. I received one badge for achieving Level 3 in one day. I shuddered; how much time was I spending on this addictive game, anyway?

 

Another badge I received was for growing my mob size to at least five members (we’re now 18 and growing.) Wasting my powers of charm and persuasion on a myspace game? When I’m collecting quarters for a loaf of bread for sandwiches?

Is this stupid?

Definitely.

Am I still playing it everyday?

Definitely.

 

My vehicles on Mobsters

My vehicles on Mobsters

In real life, I am mostly broke, being an artist who is a lot more concerned about the art than the business.

 

On Mobsters, I am rich. I own several vehicles, including three armored cars and some Bentleys. In real life, I have a minivan.

In my Mobster arena, I own all the weapons – in multiples – that it is possible to own.

In real life, I abhor the very thought of guns (although Dad, before he died, DID teach me how to shoot straight, and I

My weapons on Mobsters

My weapons on Mobsters

just learned that both my wacky sisters – and my far wackier Mom – are getting hardcore into weaponry; one sister is now collecting shotguns. Shudder.)

 

In general, I am a peaceful person. Wait, I take that back, in case Peter should read this. Okay, well maybe not totally peaceful – but when I DO get angry, I get over it very quickly, and in general, I always look for the gentle solution to any problem. Not only that, but I have very little tolerance for injustice, and both Peter and I tend to uphold the

More weapons on Mobsters

More weapons on Mobsters

rights of the underdog.

 

On Mobsters, I not only LOOK for fights, but I absolutely pick on those littler than I am. I seek them OUT.

Even my very Mobsters name is unlike me. I prefer to be called “Elizabeth” – when folks attempt to shorten it to “Liz,” (which makes my face want to scrunch up as if I’ve eaten vinegar-soaked lemons), I politely let them know my wishes: “It’s a few more syllables, but I’m worth it.”

In Mobster-land, I’m “lizrox.”

It all sort of reminds me of this one leather jacket I have. It’s my favorite, actually. For some reason, whenever I wear it, I feel just like Kate Beckinsale in the movie “Underworld” – you know, the one where she’s this really sexy, really tough superhero vampire?

I’m not a vampire. Or a superhero. But the jacket – especially when I zip it all the way up to the neck – makes me feel really sexy, and really tough – and although I’d never try to leap off a tall building or anything, or jump into a moving convertible, it kind of makes me feel as though I could.

Mostly, I just like to wear it on cool evenings when I’m out walking my big black dog, Tucker. Cool black leather jacket, cool black dog, cool chick.

Cool Mobster.

Guess you’re never too old for a little play pretend. And it’s not TOO much of a waste of time. After all, you run out of “stamina” and “energy” and “health” – and I, personally, tend to run out of money after just a few minutes of play at a time, and have to quit.

So since I’m not ACTUALLY whacking anyone really…

If you want to join my mob, add me as a friend.

http://myspace.com/lizwb 

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