The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year



It’s become a standard yuletide tradition: every year without fail, there’s one particular toy on practically every child’s Christmas wish list. It’s also a toy that starts out at one price, but once retailers figure out how priceless that toy is to your child, they shamelessly increase it as high as they can and beyond. Not only that, but the toy becomes about as hard to find as five minutes of peace during the holidays.

It all starts off innocently enough; your child tells you at least a month in advance exactly what he wants for Christmas. It’s all he ever talks about and it’s all you hear about. You even contemplate buying the darned thing and giving it to him early just to shut him up, but you don’t. However, by the time you finally do start shopping for “The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year,” you can’t find it anywhere.

Little did you know, other kid in the universe also wants that toy for Christmas. So now you—and eight million other crazed, harassed parents who started shopping too late—are in an extremely non-festive frenzy to find this elusive item that’s seemingly no longer available anywhere. Then when and if that ridiculous piece of crap does become available someplace, you’ll have to beat each and every one of those other parents to it; kicking, clawing, and fighting, all the way. Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas.

After spending every waking moment in pursuit of this thing, you miraculously find it online. You literally jump for joy, spilling your coffee all over the Christmas cards you finally got around to making out. But that’s okay because you’ve found The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year. It’s five times the original price but hey, they’ve guaranteed you it’ll be there before Christmas. You’re finally set; the maddening quest is over. Let peace and joy reign throughout the rest of the season.

Two days later in a store, you actually lay eyes on The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year—several of them in fact—for the incredible deal of only twice the original price. But no, you’ve already bought one and it’s on its way to your house. Life is good.

Later that day and receive an email from the company which sold you the toy. They regretfully—but cheerfully—inform you that The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year is currently on backorder, and won’t be shipped out till mid-January. They conclude their correspondence by wishing you and yours the absolute merriest of Christmases. How nice—and so much for their guarantee.

Frantically, you rush back to that store you saw The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year in, grateful you stumbled across it there as you can’t even begin to imagine the nightmare you’d have to go through otherwise. At lightning speed, you stampede back to that part of the store where you saw the toy, only now it’s nowhere to be seen. You sprint to the customer service desk where an employee informs you that just this very moment they sold the last one, as they point behind you to some lady exiting the building. You look over your shoulder to see a smugly satisfied, evil witch making her way out of the store with The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year.

You briefly consider barging after her, grabbing it from her grubby little mitts and making off with it—contemplating that if the judge was also a parent she might very well let you off on a temporary insanity plea. Yet you just stand there stewing over the fact that if you’d only been there five minutes earlier you could’ve been that smugly satisfied, evil witch walking out with The Most Wonderful Toy of the Year.

Later, you spend the entire night scouring the internet, hoping beyond all hope to find another one of these stupid toys somewhere else. Then, you see it! There it is! For the downright bargain price of only seven times what it was originally selling for. Yet you’re more than happy to pay it, as by this point you’d sell your own grandmother to a mad scientist to get that toy. So you pay the unearthly price, breathe a huge, satisfied sigh of relief, put your feet up, and watch the sunrise.

Full of Christmas cheer—even though you got no sleep whatsoever—you greet your child warmly when he comes down to breakfast that morning. You ask if he’s excited that Christmas is only a few days away, to which he says he is, but also divulges to you that he’s changed his mind entirely about what he wants for Christmas.

Taken from my book Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season.





The Christmas Family Newsletter Brag Fest


Vector Illustrator, be able to scale to any size without loss resolution.

Most of us have received them and they usually come to us from families we hardly know, who live far, far away. People whom we haven’t seen since Nixon was President. Even so, every year we become privy to all the intimate details of what purportedly happened in their highly exciting, award winning lives since their last Christmas brag fest. Of course, not all of the Christmas family newsletters we’ve received over the years resemble what I’m about to describe. Yet there’s been enough of them to wrap Christmas presents with until the year 2023.

These delightful documents are filled to overflowing with details I’m certain the well-meaning writers never meant to exaggerate, manipulate, or dare I say, even fabricate. Yet somewhere along the way, the writer who slaved away writing, and rewriting, the history of their family’s lives over the past twelve months decided maybe a little—or perhaps even a lot—of poetic license was perfectly acceptable. Then once the newsletter evolved over several drafts, it went from being what really took place, to an all-out Festive Family Fake Fest.

I doubt they don’t ever mean for it to get quite so out of hand. However, realizing their musings might be mundane at best, they wrap it all up nicely with expensive foil paper and an exquisite bow. They never once consider we’re on to what’s really inside their pompous package of self-praise.

For all those unsuspecting people who’ve never received one before, I believe that just as the word FRAGILE is written on a parcel containing breakable stuff, so should the words BRAG ALERT be boldly stamped on the outside of the envelope of most Christmas family newsletters.

Reading through one of these newsletters—which goes on for several pages—you become aware that not even every recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize combined could possibly accomplish, in their collective lifetimes, what these amazing families have done in the past year alone. Major achievement awards, badges of honor, photographs with world leaders, and thousands of well-deserved trophies must certainly cover the walls and mantels of their humble abodes.

Unbeknownst to whoever wrote it, instead of evoking envy, awe, and admiration, they end up producing smirks, sneers, and sometimes sympathy. Sympathy for the poor writer who spent so long putting together this fourteen-page pat on the back, because you know everyone else who reads it is going to be laughing just as hard as you are. One day the writer may go back over what they sent out, and if they happen to be in a far less stuck up state of mind than when they wrote it, they will inevitably die of embarrassment.

One thing I do admire about them—which the authors of these audacious annual autobiographies never planned for—is their creative usage of the English language. For example: “Martin was given the unanimous approval senior management to take his entrepreneurial skills to a whole new level, based on his dedication to the company.” Translation? The lazy bum got fired. Or better yet, this: “Garrett continues to excel in all his favorite upper-level high school courses, and displays great leadership qualities in his extracurricular activities.” Which translates into: the only course Garrett’s passing this semester is the Basket Weaving class given in the attic of the school, and he’s also the kingpin of a local gang.

I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a Daly Family Christmas Newsletter, but my creative writing skills would pale in comparison to the great works of art we’ve received throughout the years. So I think I’ll just stick to scribbling Merry Christmas inside the cards I buy in boxed sets from my local mega-mart, and leave it at that.

Taken from my book Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season.

Q & A with Bonnie Daly, Taken from the Book Launch of Surviving Gretchen on 12/03/2016



Tell us a little about yourself and your book?

Well, I live in New London, Connecticut with my husband Tim and our son Cameron where we have a menagerie of very, very spoiled pets including a couple of collies, two birds, a bunny, a cat, and an aquarium full of fish which the cat thinks is The Fish Channel. We live in a lovely Victorian home, which was built in 1902, that we restored ourselves. It’s been both rewarding and a money pit all at the same time, but we love it. I homeschooled my son which was truly the greatest adventure of my life and he’s now a straight A student at Holy Apostles College and Seminary here in CT, and still lives at home which I’m thrilled about.

Aside from writing books, I edit other people’s books and scripts to make them funnier. I also freelanced for the past several years, writing everything from stand-up routines for comedians, to comedy skits, to radio commercials, and pretty much everything in between. I’ve been quite lucky because my work is very much like play, with the exception that people actually pay me money to do it.

My theme of my latest book, Surviving Gretchen, is about the importance of friendship, mutual trust, and never taking the people you care about for granted. It follows the lives of two 13- year-old best friends—Abby and Emma—and what happens to them when an extremely jealous girl name Gretchen tries to weasel her way in between them. There’s high drama as well as plenty of humor. There’s also a goat.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

To become rich and famous of course. No actually my goal is to create humorous, wholesome, entertaining fiction that appeals to all ages.

When my son Cameron was younger he was a very advanced reader for his age, and it was quite difficult for me to find books to challenge him with that didn’t have unsuitable content.

So I want my books to be ones parents can feel confident about when their children read them, knowing there won’t be anything even remotely inappropriate thrown in, but at the same time be something teenagers will think is “cool,” and adults will also enjoy.

Which writers inspire you?

There are quite a few actually. From a very young age I loved Erma Bombeck. Her take on things was just so funny and real. She had a HUGE influence on my interest in writing humor. Stephen King inspires me as his writing style is just so darned good. I mean if this guy were to write a 937 page instruction manual on how to unclog a toilet it’d still be highly entertaining stuff. Same thing goes for Dean Koontz. No matter what that guy writes, every single sentence is just so beautifully constructed. Jane Austen is another inspiration for me, as her character portrayals are just so amusingly realistic. And last but not least, Lemony Snicket, of all people, because of how weirdly wonderful his writing is. I firmly believe that if we could stick them all together in a blender the result would be the world’s greatest writer.

Give us some insight into Emma and Abby, the two main characters in Surviving Gretchen.

They are inseparable best friends, and have been so for their entire lives. Their two families are more like one big happy family even though Abby’s is quite well-to-do and Emma’s isn’t. Emma is a very sweet, quick-witted ball of energy, who can also become quite reserved at times. She cares just a little bit too much about what other people think of her and she keeps a lot of things bottled up inside of her, which doesn’t really work out all that well for her. Abby is quite vivacious and outgoing. She’s got a great, big heart—to the point where she’ll go out on a limb to help both friend and foe alike—and she’sfiercely loyal to Emma.

Tell us a little bit about the character of Gretchen?

Gretchen’s the new girl in town who’s actually quite insecure but tries to hide all of that behind a snooty façade. But she’s also shallow, spoiled, jealous and manipulative. Her mom is like the epitome of a superficial social climber, and that has a direct influence on her daughter. She tells Gretchen she needs to become best friends with “the richest, most popular girl in town” who just happens to be Abby. Yet Abby’s best friends with Emma, which bothers Gretchen to no end that Abby would rather hang out with someone whom Gretchen thinks is “beneath her” and so Gretchen takes it as a direct, personal insult and she sets out to do anything and everything she can to come between Abby and Emma, and ultimately take Emma’s place.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on the first chapter of the second book in The Storms of Friendship series and I’m having a blast with it. It’s been a few months since I finished writing Surviving Gretchen, so bringing these characters back to life again is a lot like visiting with really good friends I haven’t seen in a while. Also the book opens up on Christmas Eve, so it’s a lot of fun writing that at this time of year. With my first book Christmas Madness, Mayhem, and Mall Santas, which is obviously about Christmas, I wrote it in the scorching heat and humidity of the summer, so the feeling was anything but festive, so writing an actual Christmas scene at Christmas time seems pretty nice.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?

That would have to be when one of the characters develop panic attacks, which I’ve actually suffered from off and on for years. There’s one scene in particular where this character had a very intense panic attack and when I wrote it I actually began experiencing some of the same feelings she was having. So much so that I had to stop and come back to it a few days later. I guess maybe it’s what you might call becoming just a bit too involved with your work.

How much research did you do while writing Surviving Gretchen?

I really didn’t have to do much at all—other than consulting with a friend of mine who’s a medical doctor. And it’s a really good thing I did as she saved me from creating some unintended humor where humor didn’t belong. At all. She still teases me about it.

When did you decide to become a writer?

When I about seven or eight, I used to pull out my mom’s old typewriter and “pretend” to write books, although I didn’t even know how to type. As I grew up I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d love to be a writer, but figured my writing would never be good enough so I really never tried. So it just sort of stayed a secret fantasy of mine. That being said, I read everything I could get my hands on about writing, took a couple of courses, and got involved with some online writing groups. Yet despite all of that I still pretty much avoided writing at all costs. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but in a way it does as my fear of failure was just too great. I figured if I actually wrote anything then I’d find out how terrible I was at it and that secret fantasy of mine would be squashed like a bug on a windshield.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

This is my biggest obstacle. I work from home—and have a lot of distractions—so it can be quite difficult for me to fully concentrate for long periods of time, which is essential for me when I’m writing. The one thing I’ve found recently that works out great though–when I can actually haul myself out of bed at that hour—is to get up around three in the morning to write. For me there’s just something about being up in the wee hours of the morning that seems to promote creativity where I can get a few solid hours of writing in before both the people and the dogs in my house wake up wanting breakfast.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I start out with a loose outline, but the story usually ends up going in a completely different direction than I’d planned for it to. I’ve found that when I can devote my full attention to the story, as crazy as this sounds, the characters almost seem to take over. There are times where I feel like I’m just watching it all play out, while I try to jot it all down as fast as I can. For me this is by far the most magical part of writing. The characters can—and do—sometimes take the storyline in directions I never would’ve imagined. They also don’t always behave in the way you wish for them to.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I never thought myself capable of writing an entire novel—never mind an entire series. I figured I could never write in that much depth. When the opportunity arose to write Surviving Gretchen I really had to push myself to my creative limits and found out it was actually a pretty cool place to be, even though it was much harder work than I ever thought it could be.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time I need to fully immerse myself in the story and block out all outside distractions, which is very hard, unless I get up at three a.m. I’ve been trying to convince my husband to build me a writing shed out in the backyard, but I doubt it would help as my dogs, which are two big furry, in-your-face distractions, would just follow me out there anyway, so I doubt a writer’s shed would really do me much good anyway.

What do you love about writing?

I love the whole creative aspect of it. I love being able to create characters, the situations they find themselves in and the worlds they live in out of nothing but my imagination. And then inviting others into this world to experience the story. I also love playing with words and trying to craft them into something I wouldn’t be able to do if I were just talking instead of writing.

This book is part of a series called The Storms of Friendship. Tell us a little more about the series?

The Storms of Friendship series follows Emma and Abby, as well as the people they’re closest to, through both the good times and bad times of their lives. With surprising twists and turns, it focuses on the importance of true friendship and how relationships evolve over time.

What book/s are you reading at present?

I actually have a weird, quirky thing going on where I absolutely cannot read anything, if I can help it, at the same time that I’m writing. I just don’t want to have anyone else’s writing influencing my own, or compare my writing with someone else’s. But when I’m not writing I binge read.

The cover of the book looks astonishing! Tell us about the cover and how it came about.

Thanks! My publisher and I worked very hard together to find something to reflect the tone of the friendship between the two main characters. After trying on many different looks that neither one us were sold on, we finally came across Claudia Tremblay’s incredible artwork, and we instantly knew we’d settle for nothing else. She did an amazing job and we’re very proud to have her art gracing the cover of the book.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

It comes as sort of surprise to some writers—as it did to me at first—that you can’t just do what you love to do (which is write) and not have to do any marketing. But books don’t just magically fall into reader’s hands. Someone once told me that you could write the most magnificent book in the history of mankind but no one would ever know about it if all it did was sit on a back shelf in a back room of a bookstore. And that’s basically what happens if a book isn’t marketed properly. So part of the writer’s job is to help bring their work out to the front of the bookstore, so to speak, by promoting it and helping to market it so it will get noticed. I would say a writer needs to devote at least 20-25% of their writing time to marketing. And once you start it’s actually a lot more fun than you think it’ll be.

What do you think of “trailers” for books? Do you intend to create one?

I think book trailers are a fantastic as they give potential readers more insight into what the book is all about, far more than if they just read a simple synopsis on the back cover. And yes, we do have one in the works.

How do you relax?

Relax? What’s that? Haha. Actually, I do find writing relaxing, when I can fully get into “the flow” of it. I also enjoy going on great family adventures, in addition to camping, bicycling, picnics, almost anything that involves being outside really, tennis, playing the piano, composing music, and spending time with our animals.

What is your favorite motivational saying?

That’s easy. “With God all things are possible.” I know from personal experience how true that is. I also love that Nike saying “Just do it.” As I take that to mean you shouldn’t let anything hold you back from achieving your dreams, and usually the biggest thing holding someone back is themselves.

What writer—living or dead—would you like to meet and why?

I would have to say Dean Koontz. I’m a huge fan and I think he’s just about the most eloquent wordsmith there is. And he’s so prolific. I also know how dedicated he is to his writing and how much he enjoys it—which definitely comes across in his work. So I’d love to sit and pick his brain about several different things.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

To never give up on your dreams, and to never tell yourself that your writing won’t be good enough. Also, writing every day is key—no matter what it is you’re writing. You know, it could be anything from beginning a new chapter in your book to writing an obnoxiously long facebook status—just as long as you write. And once you publish your first book, take reviews with a grain of salt. If you get a negative review, don’t take it to heart. Even the best books written by the greatest authors get bad reviews sometimes. Find something in that less than stellar review that might help you to improve your writing in the future. If your reviews are great, try really hard not to get an overinflated ego and act like Guilderoy Lockhart about it. 😉

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

They can go to my website:, or visit my book’s website at

Over the River and Through the Woods: Long Drive Ahead for Thanksgiving this Year?


Recently, on a day when it was about fifty-five degrees outside, my husband proclaimed it was far too raw for him to go out and grill the steaks we were going to have for dinner. This is the same man who several years before, made me ride three hours with him to his parent’s house for Thanksgiving, in subzero temperatures, in a car with a broken heater.

I voiced my concerns several times about not wanting to go, as becoming a human ice sculpture oddly didn’t appeal to me, but he demanded that we would be there—dead or alive. Realizing it was no use to argue with him, I layered myself in several sweaters, scarves, and blankets and we set off on our journey across the arctic tundra.

About an hour into the trip he got pulled over for speeding. When the officer came over to the car he asked what the hurry was, Tim—even though he prides himself on always going at least two hundred miles per hour over the speed limit—fed the cop the line that he had no idea he was going so fast. The officer eyed me curiously—probably because my teeth were chattering faster than the car had been going. “You all right, Miss?” he asked.

“Y-y-y-y-yes, officer, I’m j-j-just a tad c-c-c-cold.” I managed to get out through blue lips that were difficult to move. Tim confessed that the car heater was broken. Now more concerned with that than the Indie 500 race Tim had been simulating, he told us he hoped we didn’t have a long drive ahead of us. I stated—through heavy layers of steam—that we were making a three hour trip to Tim’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving.  Tim shot me a look, as if I were trying to make him look bad.

“Why would anyone in their right mind travel all that way with a broken car heater on a day like this?” The officer asked. “I’ll let you off with just a warning as long as you get this pretty lady a nice big, hot cup of coffee someplace very soon.” Tim agreed, shot me another look, and we drove off.

“Do you really think you need coffee?” Tim asked—not feeling the effects of the cold nearly as much as I because his core is made from ice—“We’re already behind schedule and my mother won’t be happy if we’re late.”

“W-w-w-would she be h-h-h-happy if I fr-fr-fr-froze to death? Wait, d-d-don’t answer th-th-that, just g-g-get me that c-c-c-coffee, please.” Sighing his most exasperated, put-upon sigh, he pulled off the highway and into a parking lot of some local donut hole-in-the-wall. Then, with an attitude, went in and bought me a hot beverage.

“You owe me,” he said, with a look of disdain. I grabbed the cup and clung to its warmth like my life depended on it—which it probably did—and we sped off.

“D-d-don’t go s-s-so fast, the n-n-next cop m-m-might not l-l-let you off th-th-the hook,” I warned.

“Look, I wouldn’t have had to speed if it wasn’t for you. First, you complained on and on before we left that a little cold weather should keep us from such an all-important event that the fate of the world depends upon. Then you had to bat your eyelashes at that cop so I’d be forced to go way out of my way to get you a coffee.”

I gave up trying to argue, because—as usual—there was no talking any sense into him, and decided to concentrate my energies on consuming my coffee before it turned to ice. I said nothing for several miles.

“Are you trying to give me the cold shoulder?” Tim asked.

“What other k-k-kind of sh-sh-shoudler could I give you, g-g-given the f-f-fact that it’s about t-t-ten degrees in the c-c-car?” I countered.

We rode in silence the rest of the way.

By the time we got there, I could no longer feel my limbs. Tim jumped out of the car and scrambled for the house. He turned back and saw that I hadn’t yet moved. “Hurry up,” he said, “we’re already late!” Instead of trying to help me open the door, he stood and watched in impatient annoyance as I struggled to grasp the door handle with the icicles that had once been my fingers. I then slowly hoisted my frozen legs out of the car, and attempted to walk up the driveway with all the grace a block of ice can muster. Tim rolled his eyes.

“My mother will not be pleased that you made us late like this,” he said as we got to the front steps. And he was right, because as soon as we walked through the door, the reception we got for our tardiness was far colder than any part of the car ride had been.

Moral of the story: If you find yourself making a journey this holiday season with a busted car heater—at your husband’s insistence—and he happens to get pulled over for speeding, ditch your husband for the cute cop and live happily ever after riding around in a nice, warm  police car.  😉


Mall Santas


One of the creepiest things a small child may ever encounter in the mall—besides a Mall Easter Bunny, or the creepy guy with one tooth working the counter of the ice cream shop—is a Mall Santa. I’ve seen countless innocent toddlers and babies terrified out of their tiny little minds at the mere sight of such a creature. What small child wants to be handed over to a disturbing looking stranger in a cheap red suit, scuffed up boots, a beard made out of cotton balls, and breath that reeks of salami, licorice, and whiskey?

I remember when my son Cameron, who was about six months old at the time, had his very first encounter with a Mall Santa. My husband and my parents also came along for the joyous occasion as they didn’t want to miss out on this rite of passage. After standing in line for about twenty minutes for Cameron’s big chance to see ‘Santa,’ the poor kid became a bit cranky. Crankiness turned into crying, and crying turned into a full-blown conniption fit. My dear, devoted husband and parents all suddenly remembered they had other places to be—and scattered quickly in different directions—which left me and my child alone to face the imposing imposter on our own. Deserters.

Well, I finally got him calmed down—and even happy again—right before our meet and greet with the big fat man in the red pants. At last, we were first in line. “HO-HO-HO! And who have we here?” was all it took. The smile I’d worked so hard to re-establish on Cameron’s face vanished in a millisecond upon hearing those words, and wails of unbridled terror ensued. I held my poor child tightly while he screamed and flailed, tears squirting from his eyes in all directions. At that moment I wanted to just forget the whole thing, get him out of there, and save him from the evil clutches of the way too jolly dude before us. Yet instead, I put my desperate desire of wanting my child’s ‘First Picture with Santa’ above all else, and proceeded to haphazardly hand him over to the man with whisky-tainted breath and a cotton ball beard.

For the next few minutes I, the ‘elves,’ and the imposter himself all tried to appease Cameron to no avail. Cameron reached out his little arms to me, his petrified eyes pleading with me to pick him up and save him, but all I did was stand there and watch. That moment still haunts me to this very day.

Finally, one of the elves got a shot of him while he was screaming, which—if you squint one eye and tilt your head slightly to the left—almost gives the impression of a smile. Then Santa handed him back to me. I felt like I’d sold Cameron out. I paid my $14.99—the price charged for torturing a small child for 2 minutes—and got him the heck away from there. Then out of nowhere, our deserters reappeared.

“How’d it go with Santa?” my husband asked enthusiastically. I narrowed my eyes, peering icily at the people who’d left us in the dust, then I revealed what happened and waited for their reactions. All three of our betrayers laughed their heads off. Jerks.

Anyway, I still have that ‘First Picture with Santa,’ and every time I look at it all I can think about is my decision—in that one split second—where I could’ve either saved my child from something he’d probably need years of therapy for, or hand him over to some drunk guy in a cheap red suit. I chose the latter.

The above is an excerpt from my book Christmas Madness, Mayhem, & Mall Santas: Humorous Insights into the Holiday Season

Payback Bites


“Oh, tell me this isn’t happening…” Leonard said wearily, as his car came to a sputtering stop.

Rolling her eyes, his wife Eva let out an exasperated sigh, “Well, well, well…what can I say, Leonard? Maybe if you’d stopped for gas in that last town—like I suggested—then this wouldn’t be happening, would it?”

Leonard shot Eva a sideways glance that spoke volumes. “Yes dear, as usual, if only I had listened to you…”

“Don’t you get that tone with me, if you just would’ve….” An enormous crash of thunder cut her off as a large tree branch came careening down, barely missing their car.

“Leonard DO something!” She wailed.

“Do what exactly, Eva? You seem to be on top of things, so you tell me!” He glared at her and she glared back. The electrical charge of hatred in the car momentarily superseded the raging storm outside of it.

Eva gave him her infamous condescending sneer, “If you were any kind of a real man, you’d go for help. You can’t just expect me to sit here all night like this, the next branch that comes down could fall right on top of me and kill me!”

Leonard considered this for a brief moment. He knew exactly how he wanted to respond to this but bit his lip instead.

“Well? Aren’t you going to go get help, or gas, or something? What’s wrong with you anyway? Honestly Leonard!”

Leonard took a long, deep look into the cold, dead eyes of the vulture-like female he’d had the distinct displeasure of being married to for nearly thirty years, and wondered how much a man is supposed to put up with before he snapped.

“You know there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, Eva dear,” he retorted.

“Don’t be sarcastic! And don’t take too long, and for heaven’s sake don’t be stupid and get hit by lightning because I don’t want to sit here all night! Are you listening to me Leonard? And if you find a place that sells gas, make sure you bring me back a nice cup of coffee. And don’t waste time, there’s nothing I hate more than cold coffee. Don’t just sit there staring at me with that dumb expression on your face, GET GOING!”

“Yes dear, of course dear…” Leonard muttered, knowing full well any other response wouldn’t do—especially the response he really wanted to give. He climbed out of the car and set off on his journey into the unknown depths of the stormy night, finding it far more pleasant to be out in the elements than sitting in the car next to Hurricane Eva.

Leonard was certain they’d passed a gas station a mile or so back. He remembered it from the sign he’d seen in the window advertising Eva’s favorite coffee. He recalled thinking that he’d rather stall out somewhere than cater to her demands for “Carribean Cappachino.” Already drenched by the heavy downpour, Leonard cursed under his breath as he quickly scurried up the road. He decided then and there that if he ended up at that gas station, under no circumstances was he getting his unbeloved a cup of her beloved coffee. This decision pleased him greatly and made the raging storm engulfing him far less bothersome.

Relieved, he arrived at the gas station much quicker than he’d anticipated. Must’ve miscalculated how far back it was, he thought to himself. Eva always took great delight in pointing out his miscalculations—he made a mental note not to mention this one to her.

The lights were out in the building, which seemed odd since it was only a little after 8 p.m. Maybe the storm knocked out the electricity, he thought. As he approached the door, he noticed it was ajar and saw movement inside. As lightning flashed through the night sky, for an instant Leonard could make out a figure.

He called out, “Hey, I need some gas!” There was no reply.

When the lightning flashed again the figure was visible once more. The man had deathly grey skin, incredibly wrong teeth—which looked like implants from a saber-toothed tiger, and what appeared to be a long, dark cloak. The man had the appearance of someone who’d just crawled out of a crypt. Leonard’s heart skipped a beat. Then he took a deep sigh of relief and laughed at himself for letting his imagination–and the atmosphere of the storm–get the better of him.

Of course, he thought, it’s Halloween night…he’s in costume! He smiled, opened the door the rest of the way, and walked in. Through yet another flash of lightning Leonard saw the man approaching him.

“Hey, great costume! Man, you really had me goin’ there,” Leonard chuckled, “I thought for a moment you were…”

Meanwhile back at the car, Eva cursed out loud. He was taking far too much time. “Stupid, insidious man,” she snarled, “I told him not to leave me sitting here so long. That idiot. He’s most certainly gonna hear about it from me when he gets back!”

Nearly an hour later the storm had cleared, but a heavy fog now enshrouded the car. Visibility was nearly impossible through the windshield, however, Eva thought she could just faintly make out Leonard’s form making his way up the roadside.

“Finally,” she sighed.

He seemed to be taking forever to get to the car, which angered her as she was looking forward to telling him off about being gone so long. She sighed once more, then took the opportunity to pull down the overhead mirror and apply lipstick and powder her nose. She  heard the driver’s side door open, but kept primping.

“Honestly Leonard, what took you so long?” she said. “What did you do–stop for a drink somewhere along the way? I bet you did, didn’t you? Probably flirted with some stupid, tacky woman while you were at it. I swear, you are pathetic, Leonard. No woman alive would even want the gift of you. What I ever saw in you, I have no idea. I could’ve married anyone–but no–I had to go and waste my life on some incompetent…”

She looked toward the open door and stopped mid-sentence, eyes wide with fear. Staring back at her with steel cold eyes and ashen skin was her husband—only something seemed very, very wrong with him.

“L-L-Leonard?” she stammered. “Are y-y-you alright?” He remained silent as he slowly eased his way into the car, not taking his piercing gaze off of Eva for even an instance. He did not stop at the driver’s seat, however. He slowly and stealthily slid over to where his dear, sweet ball-and-chain of nearly thirty years was sitting. He kept coming, his menacing eyes never moving from hers.

Eva’s fear turned to utter terror. This was Leonard, but it wasn’t. “Leonard! W-w-what are you doing?” she shrieked as he put his hand on her shoulder, it was like ice. Immediately she grabbed the door handle, pulling at it, but his deathly cold hand grabbed her other arm tightly.

Horrified, Eva screamed and writhed but it was useless. She looked up one final time to see her husband’s mouth opening wide into a sardonic smile, elongated fangs protruding outward. Sheer panic engulfed her, she couldn’t get away. She then heard the last words she would ever hear:

“Payback bites, Eva.”




The Procrastinator’s Countdown to Christmas


Think you’ve got all the time in the world to get your Christmas crap done?!? Think again…


First Weekend in November:  You smirk at all the Christmas lunatics who have: (a) already started their shopping, and (b) started putting up their Christmas decorations. Don’t these seasonal sickos have lives? Sit back and relax – you know you’ve got plenty of time.

Second Weekend in November:  Briefly you toy with the idea of getting started with your shopping—but why rush things—so you decide to stay home and watch TV, but every other channel has on a Christmas movie. Tossing your remote in disgust, you glance out the window and notice your neighbors are erecting what can only be described as a Christmas mini-golf course in their front yard. “Festive fools,” you mutter under your breath.

Third Weekend in November:  You have every intention to start shopping, but unexpected guests drop by who stay the whole weekend. In great, giddy detail they gush about not only being done with their shopping, but that their halls are decked as well. You consider decking them, but force a gracious smile instead.

Fourth Weekend in November:  Everyone in the house has come down with the flu.

First Weekend in December:  You finally start Christmas shopping on Saturday, and plan to spend Sunday decorating. However, you spend the entire weekend looking for that toy your child’s been begging for, only to realize it’s no longer available anywhere. You’ve got zero shopping done, and accomplish zilch in the decorating department. Slight panic begins to set in.

Second Weekend in December:  The biggest blizzard known to man or arctic beast blows into town. You decide it’s no big deal; you’ll just shop online for that elusive toy, and try to get in as much other shopping as possible while you’re at it. Yet as soon as you sit down at the computer the storm cuts the electricity. You move on to decorating, but it’s a bit difficult without any light to see what you’re doing.

Third Weekend in December:  On Saturday your child has a Christmas play, a Christmas pageant, and a Christmas party to attend. On Sunday you get to go visit your in-laws.

Fourth Weekend in December:  You have sixty-eight million things to do and only two days to do them in. You head to the mall to find everything pawed through, ripped open, and stampeded upon. You buy the least offensive stuff you can find, rush home, wrap it, and throw it under the tree. You notice the tree looks like someone put it up in the dark—oh wait, they did—but there’s no time to fix it now as you’re having a dinner party in three hours and haven’t even been to the store yet.

Later during the party, you confess to one of your guests that you haven’t found that toy your child wanted. She smugly looks down her seasonally satisfied nose at you and divulges that she bought it for her child back in early November, when it was available everywhere. You smile your best fake smile and make a mental note to never speak to her again.  Just then the lights on the tree blow out. You explain to everyone that it’s because they were last year’s lights, as you didn’t have time to buy new ones this year. Under her breath, you hear that same rotten woman mutter “Unfestive fool…”

The Moral of the Story: If you’re going to be a fool at Christmastime, it’s far better to be a festive one than the alternative.

“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.