“Check, Please!”


The whole restaurant experience can leave a bad taste in your mouth these days, not to mention how expensive it all is. Yet what do you get out of it other than bad service, terrible food, and killer cramps?

Nothing like spending $14.95 for a cheeseburger the size of an Oreo—fries not included—and $3.95 for a watered down beverage, served up with enough ice to rival the iceberg that took down the Titanic—refills not included. After the meal an over-friendly waitress will convince you to eat a dessert you don’t want, to the tune of $7.95, for something that tastes like rotten peaches in spaghetti sauce, in a bowl the size of a Fancy Feast can. By the time a family of three gets done with their meal—Bambi the waitress’s tip included—you can’t walk out of there without being at least $100 poorer than when you came in.

To kick off your dining experience, there’s always the bubbleheaded waitress meet and greet, which goes something like this:

“Hey there! Good golly gee, it’s great to see ya’ll! How ya’ll doin’? My name’s Bambi Sue and I’m super thrilled to be takin’ your order today!” Bambi Sue will gush, giggling wildly.

Now either Bambi Sue actually is a brainless fruitcake, or she figures it will earn her a bigger tip to act like one. When Bambi Sue finally takes your order, she’ll invade your personal space by plunking herself right down next to you in the booth.

Next, you aren’t sure whether the fault lies on Bambi Sue’s shoulders or the line cook’s dandruff ridden ones, but you could’ve wrestled a cow to the ground and made your own hamburgers in the time it takes them to actually get the food out to you. And once your order arrives it is, of course, wrong.

“Ummm…excuse me, Bambi Sue but I ordered onion rings, not fries.”

To which Bambi Sue will look puzzled, flop her hair to one side, then pick up one of your fries and eat it. A dim bulb will flick on above her head as she giggles and says, “Oooops, guess yer right! Let me just take those for you!” You’re done with the rest of your meal before you ever see Bambi Sue again.

At last, she’ll emerge from who knows where and ask if you’re ready for dessert. To which you explain you’re still waiting for your onion rings. The blank stare reveals she has no clue what you’re talking about, but dismisses it quickly and says, “You’ve just gotta try our Bavarian mango tart soufflé, or I’ll just burst into tears right here and now thinkin’ about how yer missin’ out!”

Without being given a choice in the matter, Bambi Sue takes off and is back in a millisecond with the grossest looking concoction the world’s ever seen—you soon discover it tastes far worse than it looks. Almost an hour goes by before you see her again, but you haven’t really noticed as you and the rest of your family had to take several desperate turns in the dining establishment’s questionable restroom, as the soufflé didn’t sit all that well with anyone.

Smiling, Bambi Sue finally reappears with your check—which is nearly as astronomical as the national debt. “Come back again real soon, cause I’ll miss ya if you don’t!” she says waving wildly at you, even though she’s right in front of you. You question whether to leave any tip at all, but Bambi Sue’s still standing right there eyeing you.

You shell out way too much of a tip onto the table and make a mad dash for toward the cash register, hoping beyond all hope to make it home before the soufflé begins to swirl in your family’s collective stomachs again.

Sort of makes staying at home and slaving away over a hot stove for hours appealing. Well, maybe.




Christmas Shopping (a.k.a.The Nightmare Before Christmas)



Do you remember when you actually had to leave the house to do all your Christmas shopping, and you couldn’t just happily sit in front of your computer screen and do it from home? I remember those days well, and I’ve no clue how I ever accomplished anything back then other than Christmas shopping. There’s no way I’d have time to do all that now.

I recall never ending schlepping from store to store, squabbling over parking spaces, hauling heavy packages all over the mall, and standing in impossibly long lines—with blisters the size of golf balls—while someone coughed the latest germ all me just in time for Christmas. All this to find that special gift for someone who’d probably get it exchanged on December 26th anyway.

Now it’s just a matter of a couple dozen clicks on the internet and I’m done. All the while I get to sit around in my ratty-looking pajamas—with even rattier-looking hair—sipping a nice hot cup of cocoa. Usually it works out quite well for me.

Although one particular online order would’ve been easier if I’d just thrown on my boots and hiked it up to the North Pole to get it directly from Santa’s workshop. It should’ve been simple enough; the site said the item was in stock and I already had an account with the store. All it would take was a few simple clicks and the purchase would be on its way—or so I thought.

I typed in my info and they told me my account didn’t exist. I knew it did, so I tried a couple more times. It still wouldn’t recognize it, so I gave up and signed up for a new one. They further informed me I couldn’t use that email address because there was already an account set up for it. Yeah, mine. With seemingly no other option, I set up a new email address and then, at last, I was able to proceed.

After I re-found the thing I was looking for I went to put it in my “shopping cart,” but their site froze, which happened over and over and over every time I tried. I considered going elsewhere online to buy it, but after all the darned time I spent setting up a new account—giving them more information than even my own doctor has on me—I was determined to see it through to the bitter end. Plus, I had a substantial store gift certificate from there to use on my purchase. A good long while went by, and then finally I was able to get the gift into my cart—although I think it would’ve been easier to try and cram a mid-sized sedan into a real shopping cart.

I then put in my credit card information, which surprisingly went smoothly. I was nearly done. All they needed from me now was my gift certificate code. This wasn’t one of those internet coupon codes, either—I had it in my hot little hands as I’d gotten from a prior purchase through their physical store. So, I plugged in all three thousand, eight hundred and sixty-five digits and an error came up proclaiming the number invalid. Since the number was longer than a football field I thought maybe I typed it in wrong. Nope. After a few more tries I realized the error was on their side, not mine.

Irritated to no end, I called customer service. After talking to a computerized operator and then being on hold for all of eternity—listening to Christmas music that sounded like it came out of a tin can, and getting “accidentally” hung up on twice—I was able to get through to a living, breathing person. A person who, of course, spoke very little English. After explaining my situation to her, she transferred me to someone else, who transferred me to someone else, who transferred me to someone else. Finally, I got through to a person who told me that the coupon was only valid in their physical store, even though the gift certificate itself said nothing of the sort. After I threw a rather un-festive fit over the phone, they decided to do me the greatest of favors and give me a different code to type in, which would take the same amount off that the gift certificate would have, had I been able to use it.

This should’ve been the end of the story; however, after spending an eternity on the phone with customer service, my order timed out and I had to sign in all over again. And this time—joy upon joys—the item I wanted was now “currently unavailable online.” I’d absolutely had it. I got dressed, got in my car, and went to the store with that rotten gift certificate in hand. After grabbing the item off the shelf and standing in line for longer than I’d been on hold, I finally got to the checkout where the cashier scanned the gift certificate. She gave me a cheesy look, paused, and then sneered as she said the following into the store’s speaker system: “Manager to the front, I have a woman here who just tried to get away with using a gift certificate she already used online.” While I wanted to crawl under a Christmas tree and die, several shoppers looked my way and shook their heads in disgust. Fuming, I waited for the manager.

When the manager finally came he was nice enough, but explained to me the scanner clearly indicated my gift certificate had already been used, that the scanner is always right, and I was probably just confused due to all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. At that point all I wanted to do was get out of there. So I quickly purchased the item—without the savings of the gift certificate—and left the store.

If it hadn’t been the season of good will—and a dozen or so people hadn’t been standing in line behind me to hear—I would’ve told him and that cashier exactly where they could’ve stuck the present, the idiotic scanner, and that gift certificate.

(excerpt from my book Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas, available at all major online bookstores)




All Keyed Up


Unfortunately, the man who holds the key to my heart also holds the keys to about twenty-three thousand other things. Apparently he thinks it’s not manly if he doesn’t own at least as many keys as he does tools. I bet he doesn’t even know what half of them go to and that many of them haven’t  unlocked anything since the Summer of ’92. Even so, they’re all treated like sacred relics.

Recently, he thought himself clever by splitting his keys up into three separate sets. So in other words, multiply the number of times he already loses his keys by three. He now keeps the Jeep key by itself, and by itself it’s gotten lost in several places including stores, the house, and the beach. It also went through the washing machine, twice.

Speaking of his Jeep key, we recently went on a day-long bike trip. I reminded my husband that day of how easily it could slip out of his pocket if it were by itself. Yet he was adamant that it only made sense to keep the key separate. When we finished our bike trip and got back to the Jeep he couldn’t find his key. After a very long escapade of backtracking all over the place on our bikes we finally found it. Did he learn his lesson? Not a chance.

He also frequently loses his other sets of keys, most recently at the grocery store, but he was boastfully proud as he still had the jeep key in his pocket. He’s also locked the Jeep key in the Jeep on several occasions.

I guess I really shouldn’t complain  because a least his key situation isn’t embarrassing like it once was–he used to keep a set of toenail clippers on his keychain. He denies he did this, and will swear up and down they were only fingernail clippers, but don’t believe him.

I live in fear that one day he’ll become one of those old men with a twelve thousand keys hanging off his belt loop, the likes that can only to be rivaled by a jail warden’s collection. Hopefully—if that day ever comes—the toenail clippers won’t make it back to complete the ensemble.



Cracking the Cosmetic Code


Before you plunk down another $16.99 for a tube of lipstick, read on…

Having a hard time making up your mind as to which make-up to make yourself up with? I’ve found that no matter what brand you buy there are certain key words and phrases that all cosmetic companies use, hoping that you’ll never crack the codes of what they really mean. However, through my clandestine work as a secret cosmetics spy, I’ve been able to decode a few of them for you:


  • Long Lash: Simply put, this means you will look like you taped the appendages of several spiders to your eyelids
  • Waterproof: The only way this stuff is coming off is if your eyelashes are coming off with it
  • Water-Resistant: Don’t even watch a forecast that mentions rain or you’ll look like a raccoon
  • Non-clumping: Haha…as if


  • Long Lasting: This one’s highly accurate—your front teeth will be stained the entire day
  • High Shine: People will think you’re drooling
  • Matte Finish: Your lips will look like a “before picture” for a Chapstick commercial
  • Plumping Formula: People will ask you if you got stung by bees


  • Conceals Flaws: Rest assured, you will appear to have smeared Plaster of Paris all over your face
  • Shine Free: Your skin will resemble a desert
  • Age-Defying: After applying this concoction with the free complimentary putty knife that comes with it, no one will ever be able to see the skin on your face, let alone be able guess how old you are
  • Sheer: Your face will look exactly as it did before you applied it


  • Radiant Color: Clown cheeks
  • Cheekbone Contouring: Tribal War Paint
  • Shimmering Highlights: You’ll be a Christmas clown, wearing tribal war paint
  • Youthful Glow: Gives off the impression that you’ve had sunburned cheeks since you were sixteen

Eye Shadow

  • All-In-One Eye Shadow Kit: Nothing like having your eyelids appear as if you’ve used a paint-by-number set on them
  • Brow Bone Highlighter: People will think you drew on yourself with chalk
  • Eyelid Glitter: Great look, if you’re five-years old and in a ballet recital
  • Liquid Eye Shadow: Someone drooled on your eyelids, after they drank hot chocolate


  • Bold: Because who doesn’t want eyes that look like they could bore holes in a blanket
  • Smoky: For those times when you want people to think you’re a druggie
  • Liquid Eye Pen: So you can write notes to yourself on your eyes
  • Dramatic Effect: Gives you all the allure of an Exorcism candidate


  • Maximum Hold: Remember Ken—Barbie’s plastic-haired boyfriend?
  • Never Stiff or Sticky: Nope it never is, as long as you don’t use it
  • Mega Hold: Transforms your hair into an OSHA approved hard hat
  • Light Hold: You just wasted four bucks

I’m certain there are several other codes I haven’t cracked yet, but I’ve figured something else out in the process; if politicians ever lose their day jobs, they could run cosmetic companies. They’re already very well versed in lying about cover-ups. 😉



“You Look Fine, Let’s Just Go!”


Some women have husbands who shower them with compliments and swoon with sweet adoration when their lovely wives walk into the room. Some women have spouses who tell them their beauty is unsurpassed. The best I can ever get out of my husband is “You look fine.” and that’s when he hasn’t even bothered to look up from his iPhone.

If we’re going out and he’s decided I’m taking too long, or I tell him I’ve got to change my clothes or brush my hair, I get the good ole standby of “You look fine, let’s just GO!” If I rolled in a hog pen, electrified my hair, and had a festering poison ivy rash all over my face I’m sure I’d receive the same input.

Not that I’m complaining, but it would be nice–once in a great while–to hear him randomly gush that I have such an adorable, angelic appearance that he just can’t see straight. Okay, maybe that would be pushing it.

Basically the only other rare compliment I get from him is the kiss of death, otherwise known as, “You look good today!” spoken with stark emphasis on the word “today,” as if it’s an extraordinary event. His face wears an expression of great astonishment when he says it and he delivers it in the same manner in which someone might proclaim, “I saw a flying saucer today!”

If I call him on the subject, he snickers and finds it all quite amusing. It’s be great if he said “You look beautiful” and not just in a Christmas-is-coming-and-I-want-something-really-good-so-I’m-going-to-butter-you-up kind of a way, but in an all out proclamation. A proclamation said with so much adoration that hearts were dancing in his eyes. But of course, if that ever happened I’d firmly believe an alien had emerged from the above aforementioned spaceship and took my husband’s place–which actually might not be such a bad thing. 😉




Adventures in Grocery Shopping


I don’t know about you, but I would rather wrestle rabid alligators than deal with the weekly trip to the grocery store. Nothing against the notion of shopping itself, but it’s a jungle out there, or rather in there.

For me, it usually starts as soon as I reach the shopping carts. Guaranteed, the first one I go for is going to be super-glued to the one in front of it. You’d think I’d learn and move on. But no, I stand there tugging and pulling until people stare; then I move on to a different one. The next one is either soaking wet, has a suspicious-looking tissue in it, or is one of those special carts that not only has a squeaky wheel, but also pulls to the left. The latter is what I usually end up with.

So I’ll start making my way down the aisles–my cart sounding like a hospital gurney as I try not to take out every display on my left–when I’ll inevitably hit the first of many road blocks, otherwise known as the aisle hogs. These are the people who don’t care if there are other shoppers in the store, don’t care if other people are in the aisle; and certainly don’t give a flying French fry if you can’t get by them. With cart parked dead center in the middle of an aisle–at a slant–they’ll inevitably stand there for all of eternity, staring spiral-eyed at the macaroni and cheese display. Even if I offer a polite “Excuse me,” it still won’t rouse them from their shopping-induced stupor.

I’ll also surely encounter The Old Home Week Committee. The members of this group feel it’s right and just to conduct the business at hand, usually the town gossip or news of Old Man Winkle’s hernia operation, by congregating directly in front of the busiest promenade in the whole store–the meat counter. Then I and several other weary shoppers, now hopelessly stuck in the committee-generated traffic jam, will swap defeated, knowing looks until the meeting adjourns sometime within the next century.

Speaking of the meat counter, without fail I always encounter at least one of the meat fondlers. These souls apparently need to be “in touch” with their carnivorous cravings, and therefore take it upon themselves to personally poke and prod every package of meat in sight, while I wait to find a break in the action so I can squeeze in and grab a roast. I’ve learned to be cautious here, for if I take something they’ve had their mitts on within the past five minutes, the fondler in question–still feeling the rights of first refusal–will shoot me a look that could grill a hamburger.

Then, without fail, there’s always at least one complimentary coughing kid whose mom could care less that a.) junior is going to end up sicker than a dog from being out, and b.) everyone else in the store is also going to end up sicker than a dog from junior’s germs. Yet mom happily takes her time, making certain junior has sufficiently hacked up the contents of his lungs throughout every aisle and smeared snot on every piece of produce.

By some miracle, I will finally get–more or less–all that I came in for and go get in line. By the way, I’ve finally figured out how grocery store managers calculate the number of cashiers they need at any given time. I had several hours to think about it during the last time I stood in a checkout line. They take the number of shoppers and divide it by seventy-three. Any additional cashiers left over get sent on break. At this rate, customers are lucky if the expiration date on their milk is still valid by the time they get to their cars.

The cashier/shopper ratio is only part of the hold up, as inevitably several of the customers in front of me will all have their own little set of issues to make the line go at the rate of a snail sliding over something sticky. There are the coupon queens, the check writers who left their ID at home, and the people who need at least eighteen price checks. Not to mention the long lost relative of the cashier, who feels the need to reminisce–at length– while she plunks down her ravioli, rhubarb, and ricotta.

Once it’s finally my turn at the checkout, there’s the epic question of who’s going to bag. Since baggers seem to be an even rarer species than the people in the “12 Items or Less” lane who aren’t mathematically challenged, it’s usually a face-off between me and the cashier. If I decide I’ve been through enough already, and have absolutely no intention of putting anything in a bag, I’ll end up feeling guilt as I’m sure the cashier hates the place even more than I do. If I’m determined to hold my ground, the cashier will purposefully be as slow as the maple syrup that will inevitably end up leaking in my bag. So usually I do bag–and I’m bitter about it–but at least it gets me out of there that much sooner.

Only to realize I forgot the milk…



Someone Will Be There Between Noon and Five

1011457_3159300237704_984304084_n.jpgAs if it isn’t fun enough when a major appliance breaks down, there’s also the added joy of waiting around for the repairman to show up. Since most of us actually do have lives—contrary to what repair companies think—we’ve got to take time out of our busy schedules to hang around the house in hurry up and wait mode,  anticipating their arrival which may or may not even happen.

When you call to make the appointment, a friendly customer service representative will inform you someone will be there three weeks from next Tuesday. You then proceed to impress upon them the fact that you can’t wait that long–your oven’s a vital part of your daily existence. You tell them, in no uncertain terms, they need to get out a guy out there a heck of a lot sooner than that and you won’t stand for such incompetence. This of course get you nowhere, and furthermore the customer service rep becomes snotty and tells you you’re lucky to get an appointment that soon.

This is where the fun begins. They’ll next reveal to you that someone will call you the night before and give you a “time frame.” So in other words, whatever you have scheduled for that day, unschedule it.

Fast forward to the night before the appointment is supposed to take place. You get a call from a computer generated device, telling you the guy will show up sometime between noon and five and you’d better be there. Click.

So noon the next day arrives. You sit there, hoping beyond all hope he’ll actually come close to noon and you can get on with your life. As if. One o’clock goes by, then two o’clock; three o’clock makes an appearance. Four o’clock taunts you and still no guy. The clock strikes five and you’re certain he’ll be there any minute now.

At 5:20 you call the service number and they don’t answer. You call several times afterward and still no one picks up. At 6:00, someone calls to inform you the guy got backed up and you’ll need to reschedule. By this point, you’re ready to snap and you ask why they couldn’t possibly have called you sooner. They’ll ignore you and tell you to call back the next day, since the people that do the scheduling aren’t in until after ten in the morning.

You call them back the next morning. Interestingly enough, you recognize the voice on the other end as being the person who told you to call back today. That person pencils you in for next Friday, assuring you someone will call the night before to give you another “time frame.”



When Halloween and Christmas Collide


Nothing beats walking into your local mega-mart the first of October—on a day when it’s 87 degrees out—and being accosted by the results of Halloween and Christmas throwing up all over each other. Never mind Halloween’s almost a month away, but can’t they at least wait till children break in their back-to-school shoes before being forced into choosing their Christmas stockings?

This time of year, massively confused holiday sections display everything from fiber-optic reindeer, to choirs of motion activated angels, to moronically huge, inflatable snow globes parked directly in front of cheesy cardboard Halloween backdrops of haunted houses, dastardly pumpkins, and chainsaw wielding murderers on the lookout for their next unsuspecting victim.

Call me crazy, but seeing piles of Christmas stuff out this early, joining forces with a plethora of Halloween paraphernalia—when it still seriously feels like beach weather—is just wrong. It’s also bizarre to see folks shuffling by in their flip flops with eclectic combinations of candy corn, fake Christmas wreaths, and sunblock filling their shopping carts.

The stores also supply everyone’s eardrums with a wide variety of confusing holiday music. While children peruse the costume aisles, trying to decide what to go as for trick-or-treat, “Jingle Bells” rings out to one and all. When their mothers find themselves lured into the Christmas card aisle, “Monster Mash” is drilled into their brains. No wonder so many people just say “Happy Holidays” these days; no one’s quite sure what’s being celebrated when.

I’m not really one to talk, though. There was once a Halloween night several years ago that I still feel really bad about. First just let me say that Christmas decorating takes weeks at our house, and I was just trying to get a good head start—the day before Halloween. At the time I saw nothing wrong with it, but my son Cameron, who was five at the time, was far from impressed to see a three-foot tall Santa lurking in the living room next to a huge light-up ghost. Not to mention the animated nutcrackers looming over the jack-o-lanterns, while “Silent Night” played softly in the background. The poor kid’s still not fully over it and will probably need therapy till he’s twenty-three.

From that moment on Cameron put his foot down, and made me swear I’d never, ever again start decorating for Christmas until November. I reluctantly agreed. I do admit it was kind of weird to see Saint Nick and the Ghost of Trick-or-Treat Present making awkward small talk with each other. Maybe they could’ve found a way to bond if they’d only gone shopping together in their local mega-mart in the beginning of October.

“When Halloween and Christmas Collide” is an excerpt taken from my book, Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season, available through all major online bookstores.


A Walk in the Dog Park



We’ve recently become impressively hip people; we started bringing our dogs to the dog park. For the longest time we never went–even though we had a dog–as our beloved collie, Shadow, was more of a “people’s dog.” But since his passing, we adopted two more collies and decided it was high time to set foot into the land of pit bulls, poodles, and piles of poop.

Actually, the dog park we go to in Waterford is quite lovely, with a beautiful expanse of land for the dogs to freely run and romp in with wild abandon. One of our dogs can’t get enough of it, while I’m fairly certain the other one would prefer to be infested with fleas, rather than mingle and make doggy small talk amongst her peers.

Shiloh, the older of our two collies, arrives on the scene and is instantly “Captain Dog Park.” He festively frolics and struts his stuff, becoming instant BFF’s with every dog there. He even does this completely ridiculous thing where he stands in the middle of it all and barks happily into the air. He’s the most convivial canine you’ll ever come across, and is truly a “dog’s dog.”

On the other hand, Zoey, our younger, female collie, is, in fact, “The Dog Park Nerd.” It’s the weirdest thing because at home, or on walks, she’s as friendly and outgoing as can be. Once she steps paw inside of those gates, however, she scuttles around like an antisocial skunk, avoiding the other dogs’ curious gazes. She can’t wait to get out of there. Shiloh, on the other hand, doesn’t want to leave.

Even though we may now be cool because we go to the dog park, we are not yet dog park cool. You see, there is a distinct hierarchy, not only among the dogs themselves, but also amongst the dog owners. Don’t get me wrong—everyone there is quite friendly, but there are two different benches about 30 yards away from each other, with one is the “Cool Bench” and the other bench is reserved for “The Rest of Us.” We congregate at the latter.

I think all the newbie humans have to somehow prove themselves to the other humans—and canines—who are conducting business there, before we have the right to sit on the “Cool Bench.” Of course, Shiloh not only fits right in with all the other doggies, but he also hangs out with the “Cool Bench” people far more than he does with us. In the meantime, we perch upon the bench designated for “The Rest of Us,” with Zoey not wandering far from our sides.

The very worst part is that Shiloh, who’s inseparable from Zoey anywhere else, completely disses her at the dog park, preferring the company of all of his new, cool friends. He and all his other canine companions party down, while she wanders around near us like a lost, little wallflower. Once, Zoey actually did try to introduce herself to another dog—I was so pleased I could’ve cried. Then Shiloh came by and gathered up the other dog for a game of “King of the Dog Park,” while my poor little girl was left standing there, dejected, next to the bench designated for “The Rest of Us.”

I have high hopes for Zoey—and for us—that someday we’ll all join Shiloh over by the “Cool Bench.” That is, if “Captain Dog Park” finds us worthy…


Politics and Little Green Men


If you were to encounter a little green man, why on earth would you  assume he was an alien from another planet? For all you know he could be Oompa Loompa who accidentally fell into a vat of lime Jell-O; I’m sure that’s a definite job hazard in the candy and dessert industry.  Or he could be a stature challenged individual whose Tan in a Can went bad. You really never know. Mistaken identity happens.

Think about it, even politicians can fall prey to appearing to be something they are not. Some of them might actually give off the allusion of caring about what happens to this country as opposed to their own personal triumph. Proof positive what you see isn’t always what you get.

So the next time you see a green man getting out of what appears to be a ship from outer space, don’t jump to conclusions. It may very well be just a pretentious politician who’s tanning strategies didn’t quite work out for him, who also owns a nifty, new space-aged jet that only the ultra rich and famous can afford.