Monday, August 22, 2011

what a joke.

For a little under a year, I lived in East Boston. (land of the best pizza you'll ever eat) and Logan Airport. During that time, I became familiar with the route to and from work; so much so that sometimes a stop sign would just happen to get passed without fully stopping.

One grey snowy morning, I was doing my usual trek, when I (ahem) rolled through a stop sign. As luck would have it, a cop at the intersection saw me and dutifully pulled me over. The bitch of this whole thing was that I called a co-worker to tell leave her a voicemail explaining I was running a little bit behind because of whatever reason, when this happened. Ummm....Mary? I gotta go--i'm getting pulled over.

He walks to my car, I roll down the window and he asked me if I knew why I was being pulled over. No, I really don't officer. Well uh, yah just drove through this stawp sign, hun. Oh my god, I'm so sorry officer, I live in this neighborhood, I should know better. Alright hun, I'm just gonna run yawh registration and license, an' I'll be right back. Ok, officer I replied. I'm at this point shaking and saying Hail Marys.

He comes back to my window and says: Umm, it says in the system that I hafta take yah in, you got like, 4 wah-rents out faw yah arrest.

At this point, I see myself in orange. The sane part of my brain didn't take over, it just shut down. I didn't question this dude's authority, I just thought to myself, whelp, that's it for me. My whole body began convulsing and I immediately started sobbing.

The cops' eyes got huge and he bent closer to my window and said Oh my gawd hun! I was just jokin' around with yah! It's just a joke, I'm just jokin'!!!! Look! I'm only givin' you ah wahnin'!!!!

To which, I looked up at him, still sobbing and exclaimed that's (sob) the best (sniffle sob) joke (sniff) anyone's ever played on me ever (long wail of tears and snot ensued). He patted me on the shoulder, gave me my warning, and went back to his car, I think perhaps a bit shell shocked at my reaction.

The thing of it is, I know that there a lot of decent police officers out there; my grandfather was a Police Officer, and I am proud of that fact, as are some of my cousins. But they are the single agency that have the ability to take away a person's freedom, and when the mere mention of the fact that your whole life as you know it gets threatened, things get sensitive very quickly.

Best part of this whole thing is that i never hung up the voice mail I was leaving for my co-worker. I got into work and she couldn't stop laughing for a good half hour. shit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dumpster Diving.

It's only fitting that the time in which we as humans feel the most awkward in life (what the shit? How do I have growing things on my chest?) we also must endure the time honored and humiliating mouth ware: braces. Gah.

Allow me to back up a bit. I first had a lip bumper in preparation of the braces. (Think Bubba in Forrest Gump). Then came the braces, which were put on me the day of a friends birthday party at a fancy restaurant, so I was the girl in the corner stuffing her face with the fried mozzarella and not speaking. I was in too much pain. Then came the piece de la resistance: head gear. Yup. I had head gear. Thank baby jesus i didn't have to wear it to school, but I was that chick who rocked it at slumber parties. I mean really--I almost think that these things were created so that as adults, we can say we survived.

The thing that really was the worst for me out of all of this, though, was the retainer. That fucking thing was the root of all evil. food would get caught in it, it was too easy to play with in your mouth, and you had to take it out when you sat down to eat lunch. On one such day, I made the ghastly mistake of throwing my retainer out, and didn't realize it until about an hour after lunch had ended. By the end of the day, I was a wreck trying to figure out how the hell I was going to tell my mother that I had thrown it out.

The final bell rang, I proceeded to my after school activities, then later that afternoon, I walked out to my mother's green station wagon to deliver the news. I told her what had happened, and she simply said, well...let's find it. Huh? What? Did you not hear me? I lost it! I threw it out in the trash! As she unbuckled her seat belt, I realized that this was actually going to happen. She was going to go hop in the dumpster of my middle school. As I sat there praying to god that I would either die or magically transmogrify into an insect the size of a gnat, she was calling from the dumpster: WHAT WERE PEOPLE EATING YOU WERE SITTING WITH? (brown bags and apple cores are at this point can be seen being thrown around).

At this precise moment, the vice principal of my school walked by, and the look on his face was so stunned, I can only imagine that was the kind of expression he had on when he found out he was going to be a father. My mom popped her cheery little midwestern face out from the dumpster and explained the situation. Oh! he said. I have a meeting to go to (yeah right, dude) other wise, I'd jump in there with you! While he was conversing with dumpster diver I mean my mother, the boys soccer team just happened to run past on there warm up lap around the school; their heads all turning left as they ran past.  Yup. I would have chosen death over anything in that moment.

She did not find my retainer that day, so I had to order a new one. I have since learned what the cost is associated with all that oral mouth gear, and holy christ is it expensive. Truth be told, I can now understand her ferocious drive to find the thing, but at 12 years old? Hell. Sheer unadulterated hell.

Turns out, my bottom teeth are crooked again. And they're staying that way, dammit.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Bricklayer of a Date.

The summer going into my junior year of high school I had a huge crush on my next door neighbor’s bricklayer. As in to say, he was laying brick on their front walk without a shirt on in the early summer heat. Yum. Turns out, I was my neighbor’s babysitter for a week when they went on vacation, so the day I left with them, I called my sister up and convinced her to run over there and give him my number. (well, actually, my family’s home phone number, this is pre-cell phone). First of all: what the fuck was I thinking? And second: what the fuck was my sister thinking?? Hannah called me a mere two hours after we got to the summer house with the kids and told me he called. She was almost more excited than I was; He called you Margaret, and he left his number! I took the number and discovered for the first time what butterflies really were. As I called him from my neighbor’s vacation house, we made plans for the next weekend to see the new movie coming out: The Patriot, with Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. (moment of silence).

My next door neighbor warned me: he’s a bricklayer for a reason Margaret…but of course, being the carefree and irreverent chick that I am paid no attention to her cautious remarks.

The next Saturday night, Frank came to pick me up in his wagoneer; I was wearing a cute orange top with some jeans. My father greeted him at the door with a smile on his face, and his eyes saying to him as he shook the bricklayer’s hand: my rifle is only two rooms away…

So we get in the car and we begin the whole small talk thing: so, what do you like to do, how old are you (he was 21 at the time…yikes, considering I was only 16) what are your hobbies? I told him I really liked traveling, plus it’s fun when you have friends in different places, you can stay with them. (I mentioned that I had gone to Berlin to stay with Anna recently.) Frank the bricklayer jovially responded: Oh yah! I love havin’ friends all ovah. As a mattah of fact, I drove up teh New Hampshaah just last weekend and went campin’ with my buddy Billy! Oh! I said. Deep breath Margaret, we’re almost at the theatre.  At this point his words were just background noise to my brain berating me: why the FUCK are you on this date Margaret? He smells like cigarettes! He doesn’t get me at all!

So we go to the counter, and since it is the opening night of the Patriot, the 7pm tickets were all sold out, so we got tickets for 8:15. What do you want to do for an hour? Frank the bricklayer asks. Well, we could grab some food, perhaps go bowling or something? I suggested…well, let’s think about it, he says, but in the mean time let’s just walk around. The theatre we were at was (and still is) located in a mall, so we walked all around the mall. No no, like, the inside and the outside. We walked around the perimeter of the mall and then he wanted to walk around the Sports Authority. Each. Fucking. Aisle. I mean, seriously, there’s only so much small talk you can make about a fishing rod, am I right?

The movie came and went, he couldn’t stop chit chatting in the car, and all I could think was how do I get out of this car without him trying to kiss me?

The best solution I came up with was to open the door and jump out before the car actually stopped. Which is what I did.

Almost 13 years later and I’m still trying to figure out the opposite sex. Or rather, I think they’re still trying to figure out me. Whatever the case, it all started with a bricklayer named Frank.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Babies 'R' Us=Babies Aren't Me

I went to go pick out a few gifts for a coworker for a surprise baby shower we threw for her at work. As soon as I entered this mega store filled with diapers, I knew I was going to need some sort of narcotic afterward to calm my nerves. I walked over to the gift registry with my eyes already glazed, and was greeted by a perky sales associate named Becky with a daisy tattoo on her forearm. I asked her to print out the list for my coworker, and off I went into the wilderness of noise machines, strollers and binkies.

As I wondered aimlessly amidst aisles of smiley baby boxes, I noticed that each row had a few expectant mothers rubbing their bellies while perusing cribs and blankets; I saw one woman look down at my stomach and I could see her trying to calculate how far along I was. I looked at her and then down at my stomach, I shook my head and literally began jogging out of that terrible aisle. I mean, my stomach has always been my source of pure insecurity, and I enter a place that assumes my huge gut has a kid in it. Fucking awesome. The next row I stumbled into had a single human in it: a dude holding a breast pump like it was a remote control for a massage chair at Brookstone.

 I was on the verge of giving up when Britney (god bless her soul) sought me out and said in a sweet tone: you look like someone that could use some help.  I almost hugged her. I shoved the gift registry list at her and I told her to pick three things out on this list. Britney looked at me with a shocked expression and questioned me about the mom to be: what kind of mother does she want to be? does she have sensitive skin? Britney: I don’t give a shit. Pick three items for me and let’s call it a day. So the three items were a mommy and me lotion set, a stuffed lamb animal that calms babies down with whale noises (what the fuck?) and finally: a diaper genie. As Britney and I were making our way to the register, I was just explaining to her that I’m in baby and wedding season with all of my friends. Oh, I know, I know! She said. I’m trying to tell one of my friends not to be so baby crazy, and marry her boyfriend before she has a baby, but you know that clock of ours ticks when it wants to! Nervous giggle from me before I ask: umm, Britney, how old are you? Oh me? I’m 22! I almost fainted. I don’t even know what happened after that, I think I blacked out. I paid and was actually relieved to walk (rather run) to my car in the pouring rain and escape the land of pregnant zombies and 22 year old ticking clocks. Mark my words: I will never ever go into a Babies R Us ever again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Fuck Word

Growing up, my parents raised my sister and I with a strict policy: no saying shut up, no using the Lord’s name in vein, and no swearing.  If we lived by those rules, we’d survive.  I learned the hard way.

When I was 6, I said shut up to my mother right before we went to church on a Sunday morning; I must have heard it at school or from my sister, but will never say it again to her, because as the words came out of my little idiot mouth, she spun around and whacked me. I don’t know who was more stunned: my mother who couldn’t believe she just slapped me or me, disbelieving she actually would. Whatever the reaction, the bottom line is that I never said shut up to her ever again.

The summer before I went to college, I was hanging out with a friend at my house when a song we all loved came on. Being the geeks that we were, we’d created a dance to it. In the middle of the song, I messed up one of the moves and said quickly: Fuck! As soon as that one syllable slipped from my mouth, I knew that my mother (who was in the same room reading a book) would be none too pleased. She looked up at me over her glasses, slammed her book shut and stormed off. Yikes. I gave her a few hours, and I went to find her. I held my head low and said I’m sorry for swearing mom, it just came out. Her reply was: I just didn’t think I raised my daughters to say that word. Stunned, I retorted: well have you ever said that word? Oh Christ, I knew I’d gone too far. Deep from some unknown and very very scary place game a deep and low growl that erupted into: THAT’S NOT THE POINT MARGRET!!!! Yeah, I should have let her cool off a bit longer. It took her a few days to get over that one.

Flash forward to a few years later when I was home from college for a long weekend. Saving Private Ryan was playing on television; my father and I were watching it when I suddenly realized that they were swearing without bleeping any of the words. (It must have been around Veteran's Day) Shocked, I turned to my father, and said: they can say that? As I was asking this, my mother walked into the room, heard the question and asked: they can say what?

To which my father so graciously replied: they said the fuck word.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Today marks my parents’ 39th anniversary. They have been together for nearly forty years. As in a life time. I can’t fathom being with anyone that long; (yeah yeah, I haven’t found the right dude etc…which is all valid and true). What makes people be able to not just love, but tolerate the other person?

About 2 or 3 weeks after my father officially retired a few years back, he and my mother went to the grocery store together. I remember seeing them come back from Stop & Shop and I thought they were going to get a divorce.  Apparently, my father likes to do the self check out.  Each time he was weighing produce or something, he squinted at the screen, looked back down on the scale at the produce he was weighing, then remembered that his glasses are in his shirt pocket, and puts them on to do the whole thing over again, but clearly. I think that put my mother over the edge, so she said she’d wait in the car. I probably would have done the same thing also; but I was really scared their marriage was donzo.  Nope, they kept on truckin’, and the best part about it is that they laugh about it now, and don’t go food shopping together any more.  

They also are very do-it-yourselfers. They needed the trim of the house painted, so instead of hiring a company to do it, they did it together. They don’t have landscapers come over their house every 6 weeks, they weed, garden and mow the lawn together.  Today, it seems that there is a specialist for every minute thing in and around the house; interior decorator, light specialist, house cleaner, personal assistant. My parents are all of those things, and take pride in the fact that they manage their life and home on their own. Please do not misunderstand me; I am not judging those that have any of the above mentioned specialists; I just am thankful I have had two role models instill in me a very simple yet strong message: I am capable enough to do anything.

My mother gave me great advice about love when I was about 14. It was midwinter, snow was on the ground, and if you had the choice to stay inside, you would. It was around 8pm at night, dinner was over, and I was watching tv in the den which opens up to the kitchen. My mom opened the garbage door, and cooed: aww, Col took out the trash. She said it in a way that sounded like awww, my husband gave me a dozen red roses, how romantic.  Me being the snarky daughter that I am, snickered under my breath, unaware she had heard me. She stood straight up, looked me dead in the eye and said: You know Margaret? Love isn’t about who will bring you flowers and there aren’t fireworks in the night sky every night. Love is when the person you’re with knows you don’t want to take the trash out on a cold winter’s night so he does it for you.

I never forgot that.

Amazing. Theirs is a story of compassion, patience and love. 39 years.  Keep it up. (xo)

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Scaring people gives me a thrill.  I genuinely love the reactions of faces when they are scared to death.  Anyone that is truly close to me has been scared to the point of tears, almost peeing or just complete mortification. I once scared Esme so bad she twisted in a circle as she crumbled to the ground as I watched with utter glee and happiness. Or the time when my mom started choking on cous cous –with each breath she drew in, another particle would lodge itself in her throat and begin another coughing attack; I was laughing so hard that she managed to (mid cough/choke) to send me up to my room.

I have a sneaking suspicion my love for frightening people emerged at a young age, when my father would do the same thing to me. Except instead of crying or being upset, I would genuinely love being scared. Sort of a wake up call saying: Hey guess what! You’re still alive! Isn’t that GREAT??

My sister and I were going up stairs together to go to bed one night when we knew the game was on because as we climbed up the stairs, there were no lights on. None in the hall, no bathroom light-nothing. We started nervously giggling and going from room to room to try and find our father, all the while hearing this weird ticking, almost like an old fashioned bomb tick noise. We didn’t dare turn the lights on because we knew some how that this funny experience would be multiplied if enveloped in darkness. As each room turned up empty, we only had one more room to inspect, and that was Hannah’s room. Curiously, the ticking noise got louder as we crept into her room, barely speaking, arm in arm. This was the clock noise straight outta Peter Pan; you know, where the alligator is taunting Captain Hook?  All of the sudden, my father bursts forth from her closet, armed with an old fashioned alarm clock with bells on the top of it and it’s going off like Armageddon is upon us . I can’t even imagine what Hannah and I looked like at that exact moment, because I can only remember screaming at the top of my lungs and collapsing to the floor.  After the fear subsided, I remember looking up at my father who was doubled over laughing like I don’t think I’ve ever seen him laugh before. 

That moment was a game changer for me; anyone I know in my life that I love dearly I try to scare the shit out of, or at least gross them out somehow. I mean how the hell did he get an old fashioned alarm clock? I’ll never know the answer to that, and I don’t think I would want to know. It’s just better that way. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Green

Do kids have fun any more?? Seriously. I remember being a nanny in college for a family in Scarsdale. After I passed the initial screening process, she then gave me a four page instruction sheet on what I couldn’t say or how not to act in front of Michael. Never use the word ‘no’. Don’t say anything negative about him going to the bathroom in his diaper; (we don’t want to discourage him from doing something natural). Use positive tones when speaking to him. Keep in mind this little dude was only a mere 10 months old when I was watching him. I’m sorry, but if he poops himself, I’m gonna tell homeboy he stinks.  I can’t imagine how kids use their brains these days; with the onslaught of social media and indoor video games that profess health--do they even know what it’s like to get dirt on their pants?

Growing up, my childhood friends and I would spend hours upon hours at a place called The Green.  We would just shout to whatever parent was closest that that’s where we were headed and off we went. It was heaven.  The Green was a mini sort of forest with a large willow tree that seemed taller than any skyscraper with a large swing attached.  We would grab the swing and walk it up the dirt hill, get a running start downwards and hang on for dear life. If we felt lazy we’d just sit atop the rustic wooden paddle and hang in mid-air. Enveloped by The Green, we were accountable to no one; we would play there for hours, swinging and laughing and imagining the day away. It was as if time held its breath for us, and we were allowed be completely free protected by the emerald foliage.

Esme’s childhood home was right around the corner from our beloved Green, so chances were if we were at her house with nice weather, we'd be there. It was on one of these idyllic spring days we were swinging and laughing, when Ryan decided to run down the hill, grasping the seat of the swing, gung ho. (I should mention that all around the base of the willow tree were pricker bushes, making the notion of our swing that much more dangerous and exciting. ) Just as the swing was at the peak of it’s height above the ground, Ryan just let go of the swing—not on purpose, but it’s as if his hands decided to betray him. Esme stood there wide eyed, disbelieving what just happened. Me, being the Satan child that I was, began rolling around on the dirt hill hysterically laughing. The pricker bushes were moving, and you could hear Ryan pant and yelp as he emerged from the terrorizing shrubs. He finally made it out of his spikey hell, stunned and dazed yet all of his confusion subsided when he saw me in fits of giggles. No longer was he a victim to the razor like thorns, but an angry survivor pissed I was mocking his struggle.  He started screaming at me as if I was the reason he was hurt to begin with. The louder he screamed, the more I couldn’t help but laugh. I still don’t think he’s recovered.

Escaping to lush wonderlands with friends and using nature as our entertainment was what made my childhood perfect. Every kid should be able to experience that, and if they’re really lucky, the swing will be included.