Buy This Face Cream (And Don’t Trip Over Baby Jesus)

"My darling, that Crisco regimen is absolutely doing wonders for your complexion."

“My darling, that Crisco regimen is absolutely doing wonders for your complexion!”

Truth: I hate the mall. I realize by admitting that I risk having my Girl Card revoked.  But it needs to be said. Now, there are many reasons I hate the mall, and near the top of the list is cosmetics counters.

But then the teen comes to me and asks if I can take her to get some new “face stuff”, as she puts it. Determined to get her on the path to good skin care and happy that she is taking an interest, I grab my keys and we drive to the fancy local mall.

The first saleswoman we approach looks like she applied her makeup that morning with a garden trowel. Ironically, she’s hawking beauty products out of a “natural” set up resembling a barn or some kind of organic feed store.  Overturned apple crates, lots of burlap and twine and hand carved bowls with sheep’s milk soap and things written on chalkboards. You know, kind of like the stable Jesus was born in meets Pinterest.  And who doesn’t want to buy cosmetics from Jesus?

I tell the saleswoman my daughter needs a non-foaming face wash, due to her dry skin. “Ah”, she says. “I have just the thing.” She picks up a bottle and presents it with a flourish. I read the label. It says:  Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash.

I try again. “Um, she needs a non-foaming cleanser. Because she has dry skin. “

“Well, this doesn’t foam very much.   It just has a little foam,” Says Cruella De Cleanser, clearly bent on selling us a product that will give my daughter’s skin the texture of Betty Crocker Potato Buds. Hmmmppphh. She’s beginning to seem not worthy of being in Jesus’ Pinterest stable.

I’m getting frustrated, and I realize that they probably don’t have what she needs. Foolishly, I ask my next question. “What about a reasonably priced moisturizer?”

Behind the layers of spackle, I see Cruella’s eyes light up. She simpers over to a shelf and hoists a tiny jar aloft. “This is our Bright ‘n Lovely Botanical Boost with Bovine Extract and Essence of Sea Kelp. No young girl should be without it. Oh, and she definitely needs a toner…” and with that she grabs a wee bottle of liquid that looked like it would have no problem meeting FAA travel restrictions but cost as much as a monthly  car payment .

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, those apple crates must be expensive.

Uh-oh. She must sense my hesitation, because she narrows her eyes and peers at me a little too closely for my comfort. Too late I realize I have accidentally handed her a cold-cream sized jar of whoop-ass. “What are you using, if I may I ask?” she said, as she purses her lips and circles an accusing finger in the direction of my face.

I tell her the name of the perfectly good skin care line I’ve been using for years.

But it is as if I just said, “Wellll, me ‘n the other womenfolk down in the holler just go in on a big pot o’ Crisco ‘bout once every couple o’ months. Does the trick right nice, ya’ know?” Because she frowns. “Oooohhhh. Um, I seeeee….” She says, in a tone that implies my that my complete ignorance of skin care has left me crone-like.

Great. I am not only a terrible mother who won’t buy her daughter the pricey skin cream, I am also a terrible mother who apparently looks like the Crypt Keeper.

She continues, “Are you using an eye cream, dear?  My 14 year old son uses this eye cream, and he swears by it.”

As my daughter ponders the existence of a 14 year old boy who uses eye cream, and I ponder putting a bag over my head or perhaps sleeping with a chin strap,  Cruella tries again. She slithers over to another small pot of moisturizer, plucks it off of the shelf, and begins to stroke it lovingly. “Now this girl,” she purrs, “is one of our best sellers.”

I assume I must have misheard, but Cruella continues. “She has grapefruit and kumquat extract. You just put her on once a day, lightly, and she reeeaaaally likes it when you blend her together in your palm first.”

Good heavens. The poor woman had cracked under the pressure of selling overpriced cosmetics and was now anthropomorphizing face creams.  We back away, telling her we need to think it over.

We beeline to another cosmetics counter, one with a  faux-French name where women in white lab coats are waiting to pounce. A heavily made-up elderly woman toddles up to us. “Can I help you?”

“Yes!” Convinced we’re about to get somewhere, because lab coats, I tell her, “My daughter needs a non-foaming, non-soap facial cleanser, because she has dry skin.”

“Oh, of course! I have just the thing.” Then she picks up a tube and gestures, Price Is Right style, to the label.

It says: Liquid Facial Soap.

I turn on my heel and start to walk away.

“Where are you going mom?” My daughter asks.

“Back to the Jesus/Pinterest stable. I left a jar of whoop-ass there that I think I’m gonna need.”


Buy This Face Cream!


Don’t Drink and Style

Don't Drink and Style


Dear Klips -n- Kuts  Hair Stylist,

Last Saturday, when I asked my husband to take my son to get a haircut at your establishment, I envisioned a neatly shorn, well-groomed boy returning home. Unfortunately, that was not the sight that greeted me upon his return.

Allow me to explain. My son’s hair is complicated. More complicated than you’d expect a boy’s hair to be, really. His hair is quite thick, and tends to grow forward on the top. What this means, in a nutshell, is that if it isn’t cut exactly right he ends up with… bangs. Perhaps this is my issue, but bangs are simply not a good look for my son. My husband knows the drill, and knows to ask for the Boy’s hair to be cut exactly like his. Thinned out on the top, short in the front, and most importantly, off of his forehead.  Instructions given, my husband committed the cardinal error of going to the waiting area to read a magazine. You, my dear, were left to your own devices. And then? Very bad things happened.

When my husband slunk in the door, followed closely by my very unhappy looking son, I was dismayed, nay horrified, to see my that my son  now looked like this:


CC Image courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here  on Flickr

CC Image courtesy of Insomnia Cured Here on Flickr


Yep. The only thing missing was the chipped tooth.

“Was the stylist drunk?” I hissed as I surveyed the damage. My poor, sweet  husband just shook his head in stunned silence. My son looked glum.

In addition to the ridiculous straight across bangs, tufts of hair stuck out everywhere all over the back and sides of his head, making his hair look not “cut” so much as “caught in machinery”. And in certain hacked-off places, scissor marks were still visible. Seriously, if I wanted his hair to look this way I would have just handed him  scissors and told him to do it himself.

I wracked my brain to think how this could have happened, and came up with a few possible explanations.

  1. Inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can”, you decided to wander in off of the street and pretend to be a hair stylist for the day, with no actual training or skill.
  2. All of the scissors were stolen in a bizarre heist  so you were forced to use hedge trimmers.
  3. You attempted to cut my son’s hair while he rode a mechanical bull.

Now, lest you think that since he is only six  a lousy haircut isn’t really that big of a deal, may I remind you that he does have peers. Peers who, although they may not have the vocabulary to articulate the fact that my son now looks like  a cast extra from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, will make fun of him nonetheless.

So against my better judgement I will be bringing him back in, at which time a different stylist, preferably one who hasn’t been doing tequila shots, will fix the mess on his head. For free.

I think we all learned lessons today. I learned that you get what you pay for, so I will be taking my son to a better quality salon in the future. Because two weeks of training at  the Degrees In an Instant Online Beauty Academy really shouldn’t qualify anyone for a career as a stylist. To that end,  might I recommend that you seek a different line of work? Preferably one that doesn’t involve sharp instruments? Because I’m serious when I say that you shouldn’t  be trusted to cut anything ever again. Not even parade confetti.


A Loving Mother




Oops! I Accidentally Got Us Kicked Out of School: Part II

Oops! I Accidentally Got Us Kicked Out of School: Part II

“In the final stages of their evil plan to break her spirit, she was forced to wear a cardboard Christmas tree. Note the dead eyes and glazed expression.”


Don’t forget to vote for Notes from the Shallow End on Blogger Idol! Voting is live from 12:00 pm CST October 23 to 11:59 pm October 24. 

In case you’re wondering how my first day as the new kid went, here’s a hint. It was probably The Worst First Day of School Ever. There was humiliation.  There was danger. Then some more humiliation.

In short? Not exactly a dream scenario for a timid child.

My new teacher (who, to my eyes was so old she was practically mummified) gave the class a spelling test. Even though it was my first day, and I hadn’t yet studied the words, she had me take the test too. To gauge my level of knowledge? To humiliate me? I suspect the latter.

Well, I took the test. Imagine my horror when she called me up to the front of the class shortly afterward and said the following:

“Now, class. This is our new student Lisa.” (Cue looks of expectant curiosity from the class) “And I just want everyone to know that out of the entire class, Lisa was the only one to get a 100% on the spelling test.” (Cue looks of sheer burning hatred from the class). “You all should be ashamed of yourselves for not doing better!”  And then she turned to me, smiled with satisfaction, and sent me back to my seat, where I was now persona non grata. As if I had any farther to fall.

But wait… this was wrong! Teachers were supposed to be like Miss Beadle on Little House on the Prairie! They were supposed to be warm and full of hard-earned Prairie Wisdom! They weren’t supposed to drag you up to the front of class and slap a bull’s eye on you.   Even at that age, I knew I was in trouble.

At some point, one girl in particular decided to exact her revenge on me for daring to show up the class on my first day.  When it was time for music class, we trooped down to the underbelly of the school single file.  As we traversed a long hallway,  a girl I’ll call “Karen”, whose pink puffy overalls  belied her obvious future in a juvenile detention facility , turned to me and pointed to  another hallway off of the one we were in.

“Oh, new kids don’t go to music class,” she said sweetly. “They just go outside and play on the playground until class is over. You go that way.” And then she gave me a shove to point me up the hallway and out the door.

Figuring she must know what she was talking about (even I want to go back and slap myself for stupidity) I exited the double doors to find… a completely empty playground. Sensing something wasn’t right (Um, ya think?) I tried to open the doors to get back in, but they were locked.

Realizing my predicament, I did the sensible thing. I sat down on a bench and cried.

I don’t know how long I was out there before some teacher found me and brought me, all snotty and puffy-eyed, to music class. I remember walking in and locking eyes with Karen, who smirked at me and went back to singing Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.

Oh, but my humiliation wasn’t complete yet. Because the last class of the day? Was gym class. Kickball.  We didn’t play it at my old school. I’d never played kickball in my life, as a matter of fact.  Nor any organized sport whatsoever, unlike my new classmates who were all already entrenched in soccer leagues.

No one asked me if I knew how to play; I guess they just assumed I did. I didn’t get that whole running of the bases thing.  So I kicked the ball, and I understood that I was supposed to run to first, but that was where my knowledge ended. What I didn’t understand was that I was also supposed to run when the next person kicked the ball. And so this kid I’ll call “Mark” kicked the ball and came flying toward first base, where I was still standing like a dumbass. He must have been looking the other way, because POW!  He smacked into me full force like an eight year old Lawrence Taylor, knocking me flat. Result? A bloody nose, bloody lip, and a knot on my head.

As I was escorted, sobbing, to the nurse, I couldn’t help wondering what the hell kind of place my parents had dropped me into. It was like being dropped off in Dodge City with a deck of Old Maid cards and a squirt gun.

And that, friends, was just my first day.

I made it through that month, somehow, and entered third grade in the fall with a teacher who asked me if my family was “poor”, and made us sing show tunes at indoor recess. So, no, it didn’t get much better.

But for the rest of my school career, I continued to kick everyone’s ass in spelling. Because it was really the only weapon I had.

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Notes from the Shallow End


Maybe Ethan Hawke Got Eaten By the Snake? The Night the Cast of Dead Poets Society Ended Up In My Apartment


DPS Graphic

I had a completely random celebrity encounter, and it’s a cool story.

Except for the part where I managed to give the completely wrong impression. You only get one chance to make a first impression, right?  And sometimes you blow it because you’re holding a snake at exactly the wrong time. Just me? Okay then. Allow me to explain.

Let me get this out of the way right now. There is no Ethan Hawke in this story. Don’t read on, thinking he’s going to show up at the last minute. Or pop out of a closet. Or swoop in with a snarky Gen-X-ish comment.  These were the Reality Bites years, so I’m sure he was off somewhere, you know, not bathing. I mean, come on Ethan – would a bar of Irish Spring and a stick of Right Guard have hurt? And maybe the occasional shave? Well?

The summer after college, I was living and working in Nantucket. It was a hazy, “anything goes”, let’s-go-to-the-beach- at-midnight kind of summer, the last summer to run wild before joining the real world. Oh, the stories I could tell… but I won’t, because my kids read this blog. (Note to my kids: I spent the summer delivering Meals on Wheels to elderly shut-ins, sewing blankets for Ugandan orphans, and attending daily church services. Now, don’t you have homework to do?)

I had a bunch of roommates. One roommate had a boyfriend, who happened to have a pet snake. The pet snake lived at our place. No, I hadn’t foreseen a reptilian roommate, but made my peace with it. It was a young snake, not even full grown, and, sort of okay. I even eventually got up the courage to hold him. Which brings us to the fateful night.

What you need to know: Nantucket is relatively small, but tends to draw celebrities, so you’re likely to encounter a famous face or two while getting a sandwich, or just grabbing a newspaper. Not that big a deal, usually. But one night, something I couldn’t have imagined happened. And it happened right in my apartment.

This particular night I got home from a party, um, I mean church. I got home from church, and I took the snake out of his… what? Terrarium? Tank? Whatever the glass thingy is that pet snakes live in. And I was holding him when door banged open and one of my roommates tumbled in. She was trailed by a bunch of guys.  She had met them at another party, thought they were fun (and cute!) and dragged them home with her.  As you do.

I noticed the guy that sat down at the table looked familiar. He had medium length brown-ish hair, was adorable, and said his name was Bobby. He was the only one that introduced himself by name, but otherwise he was pretty quiet. Really good looking, but quiet. As I chatted with the others, I kept glancing over at him, sure I knew him from somewhere. But I’d met a lot of people that summer, so I didn’t think too much of it. It was the tall guy I was talking with that had really captured my attention.

So these random guys were in my apartment, and some of them were like, “Um, is that a snake?” Because apparently that’s not a normal thing to encounter in Nantucket. Lilly Pulitzer dresses, yes. Snakes, not so much. They seemed… a bit caught off guard, to be standing there conversing with me holding a snake. Eventually, we said our goodbyes, and they left with my roommate to go somewhere else.

Much later in the evening, my roommate ran in the door breathless. Here was the conversation as I remember it:

Her: So, did those guys look familiar?

Me: Um, kind of, I guess. Why?”

Her: Well, I was talking to them when we got to the party, and they said they live in New York, and they’re actors. So I asked them if they’d been in anything I’ve heard of, and the one guy said… ommygod I can’t believe this… Dead Poets’ Society! We were hanging out with the guys from Dead Poets’ Society and we didn’t even know it! That’s like my favorite movie of all time!” She gushed.

And suddenly it hit me why the guy at the table looked familiar. It was Robert Sean Leonard, the guy who played Neil. (If you haven’t seen the movie, spoiler alert: Worst ending ever for Poor Neil).

That’s right. Unbeknownst to me, I had just had the cast of Dead Poet’s Society in my living room.  Minus Ethan Hawke of course, because he was off traipsing through Vienna with Julie Delpy or some other smelly nonsense.  What kind of an idiot doesn’t recognize the cast of Dead Poets’ Society when they’re right under her nose? This idiot. Gaah. My score for powers of observation? Zilch.

She continued to burble about the rest of the guys that had been in my living room not an hour before. All of the main characters, save Ethan Hawke, and Robin Williams of course, were on the island, just hanging out. I do know, based on my roommate’s apparently frantic questioning when she found out who they were, that Knox Overstreet/Josh Charles  (how adorable was he?) was on the island too,  but not out with them that night, and was instead back at the house with his then girlfriend.  My roommate was crushed to find out he was taken. “But I looooove him!” she wailed.

And then she dropped the bomb. Apparently, the entire group of guys had referred to me as “Snake Girl” for the rest of the night.


Also, once she found out who they were, she started trying to engineer a way to hang out with them again.

“Oh, and I told Jamie you thought he was cute, and that you really liked him.”

Jamie being the tall guy with dark hair that I had been talking to. (He played Gerard Pitts in the movie.)

Here I should point out that I had never told her anything of the kind. However, my interest was piqued. Tall guy with dark hair? 100% my type. I was 22. I was… twitterpated. Hells yeah, I thought he was cute.

“I can’t believe you said that! You’re such a liar! So, um, what did he say?”

“He goes, ‘Really? The girl with the snake?  So, do you think she’d go out with me if I asked her?’ And I told him you definitely would, so he’s gonna call you.”

Things had just gotten interesting. I could definitely get on board with a date with a cute guy.  But, disappointingly, he never called.  Instead, a few weeks later, when my family was visiting, I came back to the apartment one day and my sister told me, “Some guy stopped by asking for you.”

“Who was it?”

She shrugged. “I didn’t ask his name. I just told him you weren’t here”.

“What did he look like?”

“Tall guy, dark hair.”

Yep. That was him. Damn.

I left the island a week later, and never saw him again.  So, yeah, I completely missed my chance to go on a date with one of the guys from Dead Poet’s Society. And I managed to give the cast of one most iconic movies of my generation the impression that I was some sort of dangerous, bizarre, reptile loving chick, which is so not who I am. Guys, if you’re reading this, and I know you’re not, I don’t even like snakes! It was a moment of weakness! The Nantucket fog had muddled my brain!

But hey, at least my reputation’s still safe with Ethan Hawke, right?

Dead Poets Society

No Breakfast for You!

My girls Alice, Vera, and Flo would never have let this happen. Preach it Flo!

See, my girls Alice, Vera, and Flo would never have let this happen. Preach it, Flo!


Let me start by saying I haven’t yet used this blog as a forum to complain about lousy customer service. That ends now, people. Because today I’m ranting. Because I tried to go out to breakfast with my daughters, and it turned into a really bad, not funny episode of Seinfeld.

This weekend my daughters and I drove to Lexington Kentucky for the Taylor Swift concert.  Great show, the girls loved it. I loved it. Blah blah blah.  (Taylor, dear, if you happen to be reading this, I have one thing to say to you: Please eat something.  Right now. Child, you are way too thin. I suggest fried chicken and mashed potatoes.)

So, the plan was to stay overnight in a hotel, get up in the morning, grab breakfast, and then get on the road for home. Magpie had a soccer game in the afternoon that she didn’t want to miss. I figured with an hour and a half to drive home, we would be fine getting on the road by 11:30.

Did I do my homework and find an awesome breakfast spot, which served fresh locally sourced food, and got rave reviews? Of course I did. I am me, after all. I love a big breakfast, and a restaurant that specializes in breakfast, with a great menu? I’m all over it.

So we arrived at about 10:30 to see a lot of people waiting. I asked the hostess how long the wait would be for a table. “About twenty-five minutes”, she said, not smiling. So I gave her our name, and stepped about five feet away from the counter in the tiny, crowded waiting area to wait with my girls for our table.

We perused the chalkboard menu, practically salivating at the offerings. The girls were excited. I was excited.

And we waited. And waited some more. And got hungrier. Group after group was called, and the crowd began to thin. Finally, at about 11:10, since it had now been about 40 minutes, I stepped up to the counter to inquire where we were on the list, as I had seen a few other people do.   “I was just wondering where we are on the list for a table,” I asked politely, making sure to smile and be friendly because this poor girl was probably having a rough morning with this large of a crowd.

She looked at me for a beat. “What’s the name?” She asked. I told her, and she glanced down at her list.

“There are two people ahead of you,” she said flatly. Sensing a weird vibe, but telling myself I was being paranoid, I thanked her and stepped back to our waiting spot, my ears perked up to listen for our name. We would have to eat really fast to make it home for the game, but it was still doable.

A few minutes later, she called, “Robertson!” and they got their table. And then “Williams!” and they got their table. We should have been next. But no. That was followed by “Peterson!” and then “Brandenburg!” then “Reeves!”  And then some more names. Another twenty minutes went by, so I approached her again.

“Um, I was just checking again to see where we are on the list?” I said, again politely, thinking that maybe she was just waiting for a spot for three to open up.

So image my shock when she looked right at me and said, “I called you, you weren’t here.”

Now, folks, I was done being polite. And I was certainly no longer smiling.

“But, you never called our name. We have been standing here the whole time! We would have heard you!” I protested.

“Yes I did. I called your name twice inside, and then I even went outside and called your name twice. You weren’t here.”

“I don’t understand this! We have been waiting here for an hour. Right here.  Five feet from the desk. We never left! And you absolutely never called our name!”

She didn’t say anything, so I tried again. “Twenty minutes ago you told me there were two people ahead of us. I stood right here after that and listened for our name. We didn’t go anywhere. Please. We’ve been waiting for an hour.”

She shrugged her shoulders, and looked at me with a level gaze. A gaze that clearly said, “I win. You lose.” And I realized that she had no intention of giving us a table. At all. Ever. Perhaps she never did.

Despite my desire to stand there and pitch a fit, I had no choice but to grab my children and leave in frustration. It was 11:30, the time that we needed to be on the road home in order to make it back in time for the soccer game. My children were starving by this point, and we damn sure weren’t going to get served there. The sign I spotted over the counter said it all: “Be Nice or Leave.” I knew instantly that in that place, the power was given to the employees, and that arguing would be futile.

“Mom, she never called our name,” Lucy said sadly as we crossed the parking lot. “Why did she do that?”

“I don’t know, honey. I just don’t know,” I said quietly.

Did she accidently cross our name off, and not want to admit her mistake? Did the power of tapping her little wand and granting tables at one of the most popular restauranst in town go to her head? Did she cross our name off on purpose because she didn’t like my shoes? Or maybe she doesn’t like children? I don’t know. I’ll never know.

I get that being the hostess in a crowded breakfast place is a hard job. I get that there are probably a lot of jerks that come in there and misbehave. I get that “The Customer is Always Right” doesn’t need to apply when the customer is acting rude, and I certainly appreciate an employer who will back up his employees in those situations. I always think of that scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” when the guy got fired for refusing  to accomodate the rudest customer ever. But, you guys? We were none of those things. It appears that this hostess just took an arbitrary dislike to my little family of northerners. No soup for you!

The good news is we found a delightful bakery a few minutes away, called Spalding’s, with fantastic fresh yeast doughnuts hot out of the fryer, and the nicest man with twinkling blue eyes behind the cash register. The girls happily munched on their doughnuts as we sped north, putting Lexington and the rudest most dishonest hostess I have ever encountered far behind us.

I debated even saying the name of the restaurant in this post. Truly, I don’t want them to get the publicity that would come from mentioning their name. Should I? Should I not?

Oh, what the hell.

So, Doodles in Lexington? Hear me now. That was the worst, most humiliating customer service experience I have ever had in my life, and y’all, I’ve been to the DMV in Washington DC, so that’s saying something. Your hostess made me and my two young children wait an hour for breakfast, then blatantly lied to my face, and refused to seat us. Didn’t even apologize. I have never been treated that way at any restaurant in my entire life.

Your food may be just fine, I don’t know. I’ll never find out. I will never, ever, come back to your restaurant again. It’s just not worth the humiliation of feeling and looking helpless in front of my children. And, I have a blog, and twitter. And I will make sure to tell anyone I know who is heading to Lexington to stay far away from your restaurant.

Because hell hath no fury like a mother who can’t get breakfast for her kids.


Maybe He Was Waiting for the Throw Up Fairies


"Psst... so you know, when you get home from this business trip I'm leaving for Hawaii for two weeks."

“Psst… so you know, when you get home from this business trip I’m leaving for Hawaii for two weeks.”

Hi. You might want to finish whatever you’re eating before you read this. That looks delicious, by the way.

All set? Good. As a blogger, sometimes I am stuck for ideas in terms of what to write about. And sometimes, like last night? The posts practically write themselves.

The VP has been out of town on business, and by last night I felt wrung out. So to try to make things easier, instead of cooking I took the kids to a Chinese restaurant to get take-out. Because when he’s away, I am all about making my path easier. So far so good, right?

But… while I was paying, my five year old son came running up to me with tears streaming down his face. When I asked him what was wrong,  he said he had choked on a piece of candy.

Unbeknownst to me, he had grabbed a peppermint out of the dish while on his way over to look at the fish in the tank. He’s not supposed to eat hard candies, due to his horrific gag reflex that, on a regular basis,  makes me think he’s going to choke to death. One of my biggest fears, but I digress.

He was talking, which I knew meant he wasn’t in imminent danger, but he was still crying and saying “It’s still in there!” and was in a panic, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I tried to figure out how to help him while comforting him at the same time, because he was really upset, when all of a sudden, his eyes got wide and this happened:


Yep. The kid upchucked all over the carpet.

Not a little bit. A lot. As in, the entire contents of his stomach. Oh, hello, gag reflex. Nice to see you too.

So now I was trying to comfort my son while apologizing to the manager for the copious pile of barf he had just deposited. And the unholy mess was right in front of the door to the restaurant. I was concerned for my son, and now I was dreadfully embarrassed. I of course offered to clean up the throw-up. As you do.

The manager said no. He was very polite about it. “No, no. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it”, he said, smiling.

My son was starting to feel better. The nice manager brought him some water.

And the vomit still sat in the entryway.

Again I offered to clean it up, and again the manager said no, and waved it off.

Surely if the manager wasn’t going to let me clean it up,  that meant he was planning on doing it, right? He was going to run get some of that sawdust stuff like they use in schools, or maybe some carpet cleaner? Some paper towels? Anything?

No. The vomit continued to sit right where my son left it. Was the guy waiting for fairies to come clean it up?

Customers came in, and I held my son with one arm while I weakly gestured toward the mess with the other, indicating that they should go around. I didn’t feel comfortable articulating it, though. I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear “Hey! Watch out for the vomit!” when they arrive at a restaurant for dinner.

Mmm. Who wants egg-drop soup?

My son was  feeling better, even giggling with his sister, and we should have been leaving, but I just couldn’t. There had to be something I could do, so I started surreptitiously checking the counter and our bag of take-out for napkins. But there was nothing.

The vomit was still in the entryway. At this point it had been almost ten minutes.

And the manager just continued to sit behind the desk, smiling beatifically.

I tried one more time. “Are you sure you don’t want me to take care of this? If you can just bring me a rag or some napkins, I can clean it up…”

And then the manager said this:

“No, no. You don’t have to clean it. They clean every night when we close.” And he smiled some more.

Um, what?

I pray that I am wrong, but it sounded to me like the vomit was going to stay in the entryway for the next four hours, until the cleaning crew took care of it.

In the end, we finally left, leaving an unfortunate pile of throw-up in the doorway during the dinner rush.

The good news is, my son is fine. He’s not allowed to eat peppermints until he’s 21, but he’s fine. And I still can’t figure out why the guy wouldn’t let me clean it up, or didn’t clean it up himself.

So to anyone who lives in our area and might have gone out for Chinese food last night:  my sincerest apologies. It was us. I hope it didn’t get on your shoes. And from now on I promise I’m keeping a roll of paper towels and a bottle of carpet cleaner in the car.

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Notes from the Shallow End


Stay Humble, My Friends

Me, apparently.

Me, apparently.


The following story is a reminder to stay humble. Because if you don’t, there darn sure is a classroom full of kids waiting to bring you down.

Yesterday, I  got to be the art assistant at my kids’school. So I had to look a bit more presentable than I usually do on a Monday morning, you know, project an air of confidence, and all that. Which meant  I actually had to shower, get dressed, and put makeup on, instead of just rolling out the door in yoga pants, sneakers, and a fleece. Trust me when I say that for me, doing this  prior to 11:00 a.m. is quite an accomplishment.

Perusing my closet, thinking about the morning ahead, I selected a pair of J Crew jeans, not too mom-ish,  and a cute cotton Tea -n- Rose top. I was trying for stylish, yet comfortable and also washable because, you know, art. Small silver hoops, plus my wedding ring, would be all the jewelry I would need today. I slipped  into my Naots, the most comfortable shoes I own. While they weren’t high fashion,  I was going to be on my feet, and these shoes would be the perfect choice.

After finishing my make-up with a touch  of Stila Lip Glaze in Fawn, and I was ready. I gave myself the once over in the mirror on the way out the door, happy that I can still look cute and convinced I looked at least a few years younger than my real age.  No schlumpy “mom” look for me! No sir!

I walked into the classroom, me and my air of confidence,  and the kids, already assembled on the carpet, started to murmur. There was a buzz of excitement, and one of the boys shouted out, “Hey! I saw you on TV!”

Several other kids chimed in as well. “Yeah, you’re on TV!” and “I saw you too!”

Well, now, what was this? I suppressed a smile, glad that I made an effort to look nice this morning.

I was flattered, but a bit confused.  To my knowledge I haven’t been on TV since I was about six and I was one of the kids in the “audience” on Clubhouse 22. (Note: I spent the whole time staring at myself on the monitor and my dream of being discovered and  whisked off to join the Mouseketeers was over in a flash.)

These kids must have been confusing me with some no doubt very attractive local newscaster.  I smoothed my hair, made a mental note of which lip gloss I chose that morning, and waited for further compliments explanation.

And then, the same boy that piped up when I first walked into the room said, “You’re on Dr. Pol!”

Hmmm. I was now slightly more confused. I’ve seen The Incredible Dr. Pol a few times. It’s a reality show about a country veterinarian that deals with mostly large animals and there is much birthing, and goo,  and sticking of entire arms up the aforementioned  animals’ hoo-hahs. There are several regulars on the show, but I couldn’t remember anyone on the show  that looks anything like me.

I reasoned that there must have been a veterinary assistant on one episode. Probably a young pretty one. Of course! That must be who they think I am. Precious little dears.

But then, out of nowhere,  came the icy jab that brought me hurtling back to reality.

“You’re Dr. Pol’s mom!”

Um, what the what?

Have you ever seen Dr. Pol, you guys? Dr. Pol is in his seventies. Which would make his mom, oh, I don’t know, around one-hundred.

Desperate for an explanation, I reasoned that maybe they just got mixed up. They must have thought I resembled his wife, not his mom. Who, by the way, is probably not even still alive God rest her soul. But that actually didn’t make me feel any better, because his wife is in her seventies. And then, to add insult to injury, several kids began to clap and chant in unison, “You’re on  TV! You’re on TV! You’re on TV!”,until the teacher quieted them down so they could listen to the project instructions.

Humbled, I finished up the morning  with the little monsters kids, no longer feeling like the adorable, well-put together  young thing  I was when I left the house. The art projects turned out cute, anyhow.So there’s that.

And after I was done in the classroom, I drove home going about twenty miles per hour with my left turn signal on the whole way. Because that’s how we roll.


Humiliation: It’s a Good Thing

VP and I often talk about how small choices in our lives might have made a difference, to the point where if a certain thing happened, or didn’t happen, maybe we would never have met. Neither one of us got terrific grades, for example. What if one of us had studied harder? Or at all? Ahem. We likely would have gone to different colleges, and ended up somewhere different after college. Therefore we wouldn’t have met, and our children would be completely different people!  One of our kids could be Honey Boo Boo! Okay, maybe not her. But anyhow, mind-boggling, isn’t it?

The point is, cliché as it seems, everything happens for a reason. So even those embarrassing, humiliating moments, the ones that make you want to crawl into a hole and never come out? Sometimes those can lead to a better place, the place you are actually supposed to be.

One of these moments for me came in my twenties. It was a cold, foggy night in Nantucket Massachusetts. It was mid-April, and I was visiting the island with my then-roommate, whose mother lived there. On that damp, chilly night a lot of younger people on the island were crowded into a few of the bars/restaurants that were open in the off- season.

So we were ensconced in a cozy, but crowded tavern, enjoying the warmth and some lovely cocktails and appetizers, when I noticed a really nice- looking guy across the way.  Handsome, preppy (just my type) with dark, wavy hair. In my memory, he looked kind of like James Marsden, except not so, you know, Marsden-ey. I looked at him. He looked at me. We continued to sneak glances at each other. Oooh, now the weekend was starting to look up. Freezing cold, rainy weekend? Thumbs down. Cute guy? Thumbs up.

After a while, I started getting a bit sniffly because of the warmth in the bar, and found myself in need of a Kleenex. I didn’t have one on me, so I headed for the one bathroom in the place. It was one of those unisex bathrooms, I should mention.

When I got to the door, it was locked. Someone was in there. So I waited. And waited. Suddenly I sensed someone standing behind me, so I glanced, and, Oh my! It was Cute James Marsden-ey Guy, behind me in line. Now, I glanced at him, maybe gave him a slight smile, but couldn’t really engage in conversation because a) we were in line for a bathroom, and isn’t there some kind of a social code against that?  And b) by now I was pretty sure my nose was running visibly. And I’m pretty sure that wiping your nose on your sleeve after introducing yourself is some sort of a romantic deal breaker.

So as we waited, the door in front of us remained closed, and we exchanged a few “Can you believe this? WTF is taking so long?” glances between us (During which time I may or may not have been inwardly chuckling over the funny story we would someday tell our children about how we met). You know how, in your twenties, you have a whole sixth sense devoted to chemistry regarding the opposite sex?  There was definitely a vibe there. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Finally, the door opened. A young woman scurried out, her head down. I walked into the single bathroom. Closed the door. Reached for a few squares of TP to perform necessary nasal maintenance. And then… horror.

The person before me had apparently backed up the toilet. Not only had she backed it up, she had left… no polite way to put this… floaters.

Suddenly it became clear to me why she was in the bathroom so long. It also became clear to me that Cute Guy, who was, may I remind you, right behind me in line, would have no reason to think this excrementory nightmare wasn’t left behind by me.

I made a feeble attempt to flush, but the flusher thing was broken. Of course.

There was no way out. There was no way to explain. By now, I had, unfortunately, been in there for a couple of minutes. Poor planning, yes. Was I going to burst out of the bathroom, pointing and screeching, “It’s not mine!”?  I came to the sinking realization that there would be no “meet cute” moment, not on this night, as I, too, scurried out of the bathroom with my head down.

And no, there were no more surreptitious glances across the bar, as nothing kills a budding romance like thinking you have just seen a toiletful of someone else’s dookie.

So, to one unfortunate young lady who happened to be having a really bad night, in the end I have to say thanks.

To my loving husband, who I met just 6 months later, yes, everything happens for a reason, and even the little moments make a difference. There’s a song I love with the line that goes God bless the broken road that led me straight to you. I would like to add to that, God bless the broken toilet.

Happy thirteen years, Honey. It was meant to be. I wouldn’t change a thing.