Tag Archives: humor

La La La La Lasik…


Mr. Magoo

I don’t know how many people out there recall the lovable Saturday-morning cartoon gentleman Mr. Magoo, but for those of you not as addicted to YouTube YouTube as I am, his gimmick is that he’s blind as a bat.

(For those of you who’d LIKE to get to know the old codger better, here he is in an old black-and-white beer commercial. You know, back in the good old days when kids’ cartoon characters were deemed perfectly suitable for, you know, beer.)

ANYWAY: While navigating some really ridiculously stupid outdoor steps the other day – put together, I swear, by someone who REALLY either wants a lawsuit, or wants NO visitors, ever – they’re unlit, and all different sizes – it’s like they’re booby-trapped or something – my oldest daughter runs up to me, as I’m slowly navigating down the perilous path.

What are you doing?” I say, a little irritably, as she gently takes my elbow, as if I’m elderly or something, and she’s helping me across the street.

Er, well, I dunno,” she says, non-plussed. “You ARE a little hard of seeing, you know.

Hard of seeing. Hmm.

Never quite thought of it that way.

I’m Ms. Magoo.

Elizabeth Williams Bushey with multiple=That’s when I thought to myself – not for the first time – or the hundredth – or the hundredth thousandth – wouldn’t it be nice to actually SEE out these eyes of mine?

Not just CONTACTS, which are a drag, really, sticking your finger in your eye, and not being able to fall asleep on the couch watching television, or reading a book in bed. Do that, and wake up with holes in your cornea, or at the very least, your eyes stuck shut.

But rather, really open up your eyes and SEE, when the dawn breaks, you throw off the blankets and stretch into the day.

I’ve never experienced that feeling.

You know: waking up and being able to actually SEE past my hand. Or even actually SEEING my hand. Clearly, I mean. I wonder what that would be like?

Maybe I need that LASIK surgery.

screen shot from Six Million Dollar Man: bionic eyeYou know: the one where they actually slice up your eyeballs? Make them better, stronger, etc? (Insert intro from 1970s hit TV series, The Six Million Dollar Man)

I used to be afraid of it – and I used to be right – because the whole trick of it was to find a doc with experience, otherwise you could end up worse off than you started.

But all the way in California (of course, now that I’m here in California, wouldn’t you know?) I just heard about some docs in New York who are pretty darn skippy good at it. At the Stahl Eye Center, with locations in Manhattan and Long Island, N.Y., they have doctors are graduates from top universities such as UCLA, John Hopkins and Yale. Their 35-year record is pretty good, too: they meet or exceed the norm for the surgery – and it’s independently verified, which is cool.

And, being in quite enough pain, thank you, having been literally run over by a truck on November 28, it’s nice to know the procedure is (a) virtually painless, and (b) the recovery is in a couple of hours, with most patients seeing clearly in a day or so.

Makes a girl want to fly back east, is what it does.

SEE what I mean?

(Little joke there. Very little.)

Because it’s not about vanity.

It’s about booby-trapped stairs, and independence, and not having to worry about losing glasses, and most of all? Not having to worry about worrying daughters.

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French Kiss First, Introductions Later.


Welcome to California.

golden_gate_bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

If all your contact with the outside world is mass media, or, say, you’re an alien from space, seeking information about earth, and your research dart on the globe hit the USA, and you began, sensibly enough, with mass media –you would surely presume the only places IN America were…

New York, and California.

Because EVERYTHING on television, in movies, etc., is located in: you guessed it. NY or CA.

Naturally, when the opportunity flung itself like a blob of goo to head west with my two daughters to the flipside of mainland America, I figured: hmm? Why not see life as the extraterrestrials – I mean, Californians – do?

I kid, I KID.

Actually, this time I DO kid, because if you happen to be reading this…

WAIT.

Don’t you just HATE when writers write: “If you happen to be reading this?

Talk about “author intrusion,”* which, of course, I’m doing now in a MAJOR way, but for some reason, I am egomaniacal enough – or feel strongly enough about this point – to have the nerve to think I can get away with it.

Duh. Of COURSE you happen to be reading this; if you WEREN’T reading this, you wouldn’t be READING this: the author’s SENTENCE that says, so very stupidly, “if you happen to be reading this.”

Why THANK you, Captain OBVIOUS.

(How do you spell “AAUGHHH?”)

I can’t STAND it when people don’t give other people the credit for the most BASIC intelligence. Or when they refuse to exhibit the most basic intelligence of their own, and simply swallow and regurgitate clichés.

Sorry. That’s just not thinking “out of the box.”

(That’s a joke. I am SO hoping you all got that….)

::-::-::

Anyway, tirade over, now that I’ve “intruded,” my job as a writer now is to suck you so hard back into the work that you forget about me again. So: forget me, move on without me, save yourselves….

To get back to Californians: if you’ve been wondering where all the nice people in the world have gone; if you’ve lost your faith in humanity, you’ve been betrayed, you can’t seem to find a kind soul in a cold-hearted world, no matter where you look…

<can you hear the swelling orchestral strings…?>

Get your ass to northern California.

InvaderZimWthoutStripesSomeone, I don’t know who – Invader Zim?

…has scooped them all up in a giant net and deposited them HERE.

Of course, the New Yorker in me wants to warn you: I’ve only been here a few weeks, so they COULD be putting on an devastatingly good show (California, Hollywood, Oscar…), and I SHOULD keep checking my back for knives…

But honestly, if these folks aren’t genuinely nice, then I’ve landed where Ira Levin got his idea for The Stepford Wives, because everybody – and I do mean everybody – walks around with a light step, a friendly smile, and an open outlook.

This is either the Cosmic Galactic Nexus of Benevolence, or these folks are gobsmackingly realistic test robots for Disneyland’s newest animatronic attraction.

They’re cheerful and concerned for others in a state with a bigger unemployment problem and more housing foreclosures than New York.

And, unlike New York – and particularly unlike, say…oooh, I dunno, GEORGIA, they are warm and inviting to strangers. Even strangers who come from scary and disreputable places like New York. No one here has prejudged us at all.

oscar-wilde-ph

Oscar Wilde

(At least not to our faces, where it counts. As far as I’m concerned, I’m with Oscar Wilde. Let people say whatever they want behind my back; I’ll worry when they STOP talking.)

These folks are even charming and positive in an area located less than – well, my guess would be, less then twelve inches from the Sun.

I can’t seem to figure it out. We aren’t any closer to the equator (although maybe we’re WAYYYY higher. As in, we’re astronauts. Californunauts.)

When they say “sunny California,” they aren’t just whistling Dixie.

(Side note: having made a side trip on the way to visit family in Rocky Plains, Georgia, I know what I’m talking about when I say “Dixie,” too.)

The sun is so strong here I carry a bottle of water around with me nearly everywhere I go, wishing I could haul a tank around, like someone on oxygen. I never realized what a deliciously humid state New York actually was.

oldwomanSomeone PLEASE let me know what moisturizing cream I need. I’m going to look about 45 years old in about 45 minutes. In another 45, I’ll look 90. As it is, the jar that used to last me six months is half gone.

In fact, Californians are SO friendly, that in a recent trip to a music store (I was rescuing a guitar I’d discovered that had been criminally abused) I got to joking with the owner, who began to tease me – and then somehow, things got a little weird.

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably caught on: I’m not someone you want to DARE.

Play chicken with me? You’re pretty much guaranteed two totaled cars.

So when I jokingly said: “Well, then, I’ll just have to get one big, fat, sloppy kiss,” never in a million years thinking he would take me up on it – for no one in their right mind in New York would take that phrase as ANYTHING but, er, symbolic, when the music store owner said something along the lines of me not having the nerve…

… Well, what could I do? Apparently, he was calling my bluff – or thought I was bluffing. I had my entire state’s reputation to defend.

It was only later, perusing my copy of The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual, that I remembered that those of us with a little too much tomboy in them have to be wary of dares and the like, and that boys will steal kisses when they can, particularly from impulsive redheads.

So I called his bluff back, and dashed over boldly right behind his workspace, again, never dreaming his own oncoming car would not swerve.

Yet swerve he did NOT, and put his arms around me, and kissed me like Bogart kissed Bergman in Casablanca.

Yipes.

Careful to keep my New York cool, I then shook his hand and said:

“How do you do? I’m Elizabeth. And your name is?”

“Larry,” he said. “Welcome to California.”

::-::-::-::-::-::

Author Intrusion (also sometimes called, literarily, “authorial intrusion” – I don’t know why they like the extra two syllables, but professors sometimes do…) is explained nicely here, at about.com:

Have you ever read a book where the author suddenly jolted you out of the storyline with a comment that just doesn’t flow with the rest of the work? That’s an authorial intrusion. Sometimes it works, but only when it’s done by a master storyteller/writer.

Authorial intrusions are of substantial length (not just a brief aside in a novel) and they are addressed to you (the reader).

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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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The Not-So-Gentle Gin and Tonic.


My fave.

My fave.

My new favorite drink.

It used to be Pinot Grigio, since Chardonnay gives me kind of a headache. Pouilly-Fuissé is pouilly fabulous, but it puts too much of a hole in my wallet to be a regular thing – and hey, an artist likes a little nip now and then after a hard day’s, well, arting.

So now I have discovered – well, technically, REdiscovered, since it’s not like I never had a gin and tonic before in my life – the wonders of this clean, refreshing, and buzzy little drink.

Best of all? The little bottles of Tanqueray are VERY moderately priced, and there’s something about pouring your drink out of a flask-shaped container that makes you feel charmingly like a cross between a hobo and Dorothy Parker.

Especially if you drink enough of it.

Cheers.

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