Sunday, March 28, 2010

Some Things I'll Never Understand

I don't understand why hot dogs come in packages of 10 and buns in packages of 8. I don't understand where lost socks go. I don't understand why it only rains when I wash my car or wear suede shoes.

I don't understand supernatural phenomena. Unlike my husband, I've never seen a UFO or a ghost. I've never had a premonition. Sometimes, I have eerie coincidences, but that's about as close as I get to anything that requires eerie music in the soundtrack of my life.

I don't understand diseases I can't see, touch, or that medical professionals cannot extract or show me on a scan. Which means I don't understand most psychological disorders.

I don't understand addiction - I like a good buzz now and then too, but how can you not walk away from alcohol, cigarettes, or other destructive substances that you can't seem to control consuming in large quantities, regardless of the outcome to your job, your relationships, or your life. It doesn't seem logical.

I don't understand panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Have my knees ever gotten a little shaky during a speech in front of a big audience? Sure. Have I ever been unable to leave my house to go the grocery store? No.

I don't understand depression. I do know what it's like to want to pull the covers back up over my head some mornings. I don't know what its like to have that feeling every day for months on end with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sympathetic. I try to keep an open mind, realizing that just because I cannot conceive of anxiety, multiple personalities, chronic fatigue, depression, or any other "ism" involving the brain doesn't mean it's not real, shouldn't be treated, or can't be as debilitating as traditional corporeal illnesses.

But my lack of understanding has gotten me shaking my head again. I learned Friday that I lost an uncle - to suicide. No obvious signs of depression or problems. He'd recently been laid off from work - but these days, who hasn't? No note. No messages for anyone - not his wife, his kids, his grandkids, his friends. A single call to 911 telling them where to find him.

I started to ask myself why, and forced myself to stop. Without an obvious clearly articulated essay by the victim, I'll never get to a satisfactory "why" by myself because . . . well, I don't understand it. And probably never will. It's just not something I can ever conceive of, even in the worst of circumstances.

I've spoken to my mother multiple times this weekend, trying to help her plan and think and sort it out. I caught her doing the same thing . . . "I just don't understand 'why' . . ." And I stopped her.

"You can't keep asking yourself that question, Mom, or you'll be asking it forever. We'll never understand."

What I really meant was "I'll never understand."

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Friday, March 26, 2010

Who Needs a Comedian - I Have Kids - Part II

We left dinner and were walking down the street and into a downtown parking garage. As we walked to the car, the garage was busy with cars looking for parking, their inhabitants anxious to kick off a Friday evening at the pub or a late night dinner.

The two boys were running and wrestling. Son #1 was the aggressor, and continued to push and pull his brother, running in spurts, even as we were crossing busy lanes of cars.

"Boys!" I commanded. "Stop running and pay attention - there are lots of cars." No response. "Boys! Stop running and pay attention - there are lots of cars!"

They continued to wrestle and run, oblivious to the ton and a half of metal rolling toward them in search of the perfect spot.

I targeted Son #1 - figuring he needed to set the example.

"Did you hear me?!?!?!?!"

He stopped, and looked at me, his face dead-pan.

"Yes mom." He smirked. "You said 'Boys! Stop running and pay attention - there are lots of cars. Boys! Stop running and pay attention - there are lots of cars!'" He used his best mom voice.

Damn literalist.

It reminded me of a snippet from an old Smothers Brothers' routine - "I understand why some animals eat their young . . . "

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Who Needs a Comedian - I Have Kids - Part I

When I came home from work today, my youngest son came running over with a book he'd brought home from the library. It was turned to the page about babies and their development. It depicted photos of a woman in various stages of pregnancy, her shirt continuing to stretch over her ever-enlarging belly, next to drawings of the fetus in utero.

"Look, look, Mom . . . when I was in your belly, I was growing like this! And your belly was all big like this!" We took the opportunity to look back at some pregnancy pictures and he marveled that he was "in my belly."

* * * * *

Later in the evening, as I stole a piece of his macaroni and cheese, I asked him if he wanted more.

"No, Mom, my belly is fully."

I lifted his shirt, his little 7-year old belly curving out like they do. He puffed it out a little harder, as if to emphasize his point. I laughed - "Do you have a baby in your tummy?" I asked.

"No!" he laughed, and reached over to rub my belly. "You don't have a baby in your tummy anymore."

I laughed and said "No, Mommy's belly is flat now."

There was a pause. "Well, not really," he said matter-of-factly.

I stopped, unsure of how to interpret that or what an appropriate response to a 7-year old might be, short of a slap upside the head.

Like men tend to like to do, he continued, trying to dig himself out of the hole. "I'm not saying you're fat, Mom. I'm just saying your tummy is kind of bumpy and stuff. Like mine." He patted his belly proudly, extending it as far as he could.

I stared him down. He looked up and gave me his cheesiest smile. I thought about reminding him I was wearing a belt with a heavy buckle.

As I contemplated an appropriate punishment, I realized the best punishment would be to let it rest. In a few years, he'll be able to learn the hard way.

The same way we taught the rest of you when you tripped over your own lack of social filters.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Poker Conversations

So I’m playing online poker the other night to rid my brain of the day’s minutiae. I sit down in a SNG and in the chat box, one of the players has typed “Blow me.”

For some reason, I just couldn’t resist commenting. “Wow – did I just walk into the wrong room?”

The offending guy, who’s screen name was Eduardo or something equally of the macho, Rico Suave genre, types in “Do you give head?” I think I heard his pinky rink clink.

I still couldn’t resist. “Do you?”

There was a pause. I could almost hear him try to adjust his strategy.

“I got head from a hot blonde last night.”

It was like he was setting me up with softballs. No, maybe t-balls. I swung.

“Your dog doesn’t count.”

There was a prolonged pause. I thought maybe I’d silenced him. One of the other players commented. “I think you scared him.”

He wasn’t completely undeterred. “You have big tits?”

Neither was I. “Big enough.”

I managed to get a “lol” from the room.

He made his next move. “I bet you’d be fun to have sex with.”

Little does he know. “You’re probably right, E. But unfortunately, I took a vow of chastity with respect to men who felt compelled to ask me how big my tits were.”

This time the silence was more prolonged. No one else chatted. I could hear crickets chirping. Then he went on auto fold. Then he was gone altogether. Someone in the room expressed their appreciation.

I apologized for the dog comment. It was a little over the top.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

PS – I won.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I took the kids to see Alice in Wonderland in 3-D today. The spaces in the parking lot were tight, so I pull M (my lovely red Lexus) into an end spot, next to a gray Yaris-looking hatchback. Not a lot of space, but enough for a skinny 7 year old and his not-quite-as-skinny mother to squeeze in and out.

We walked out of the movie and to the car. Knowing the spaces were tight, I opened the door first for my 7-year old, and then for myself. I opened it until it gently rested against the car next to me, and then stood behind the door so the little guy didn't push too hard against the other car.

Kids will be kids and they take their time. As I'm waiting patiently for him to get situated, I hear the pathetic whining of some 20-something. "Hey, that's my car guys!"

I'm thinking seriously he can't be talking to us. But he's talking to us. Me. The mom who graciously opened her doors for her children so that the little ones who don't understand the value of a car payment wouldn't damage the neighbor. At this point I'm thinking I should have just let the kid give it a good fling.

"Come on!" he whined again.

At this point, he's pissing me off. I mean, for crying out loud, he's driving a gray Yaris. Oh, sure, he paid someone to put some black flame stripe on the side . . . hate to tell him he's still driving a Yaris. And while I'm not one to pull economic rank, I'm driving a Lexus. If anyone should be offended, its me, that my beautiful red driving machine has to touch his gray piece of crap.*

"Look buddy," I said in my "I may be wearing high heels and toting two kids, but I'm not above taking your skinny ass to task" voice, "its barely touching. Why do you think I opened the doors for the kid myself? So they wouldn't cause any damage! Not a mark!"

He stood there, still staring at the microscopic contact point between our cars. His girlfriend came up to him and touched his arm. He didn't look at her. Continued to stare at his car. As we drove away, my son said she was still trying to talk to him, and he was still staring at his car.

Seriously, if at age 20 something, you're going to worry about door dings in the parking lot, you're going to have ulcers by the time you're 30 and dead by the time you're 40 from stress.

Maybe you ought to worry more about pissing off moms who are still jet-lagged, bordering on a migraine, and didn't get to go to Mastodon weekend. That's taking your life in your hands.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

* Other than not liking the way they drive, I have nothing personal against you if you drive a Yaris for economic reasons. If you could afford a Lexus and drive a Yaris because you like it, we need to have a talk.


The first one met us at the airport. Hector. A pleasant, soft-spoken Hispanic man, impeccably dressed in a dark suit. It didn't surprise me; after all, we were travelling with the company's top financial executive. I assumed it was a country courtesy to have someone meet us and take us through the administrative processes.

As we went through the airport, he would nod occasionally at a dark-suited man, here or there, and they would fall in step. When we got to the cars, they held doors, loaded luggage, etc. Drivers, I thought. We filed into the van, and Hector joined us in the van. The others filed into dark cars with dark tinted windows. The dark cars sandwiched our van on the highway for the entire ride, maneuvering through busy city traffic. At a toll, our driver rolled down the window to pay, his arm resting on the glass: thick, tinted - bulletproof.

We met in the hotel lobby after a quick refresh, to head over to a meeting. I recognized one of the gentlemen and said a quick hello. When my colleague approached, he motioned for us to follow, and I expected him to lead us to a car. We strolled out a side entrance to the hotel, across an expansive plaza, and into another building. Then to an elevator. Then in the elevator. Then to the lobby of our office building in the city. He stood in the lobby, waved us on, and we went to our meeting. When we finished, he was standing there, waiting.

Dinner was a repeat, though with our entire crew of almost 20, the crowd had grown, and several dark-suited, quiet men, some with thick necks and small scars on their faces, and suspicious bulges in their jackets, stood spaced around the lobby, hands crossed, waiting for us. No cars - just an escorted walk through a few blocks of the city. In the elevators, two or three of them would space themselves out into the corners, and fade into the background, the rest of us continuing our conversation about work, life, anything. Always in view until we'd boarded the elevators to our rooms to retire for the evening.

As we moved between countries, only Hector stayed with us, his focus always on our leader. He was gracious and kind, but a man of few words. He directed the others quietly, efficiently, and with a seriousness I've only seen afforded to heads of state.

When we finished our last meal in a private room of a beautiful old hotel, I stepped out into the foyer and didn't see any security detail. But as I walked down the stairs, there stood Hector, waiting, with his crew behind him, ready with multiple armored cars. As if he'd stood at the ready the entire time. I wasn't sure when he ate. When he slept. When he went to the bathroom. He was always just there.

I was never exposed to anything really dangerous, save for some rush hour traffic in Sao Paulo. Never saw anything or anyone suspicious. But maybe that's because it was hard to see around the quiet, dark-suited men stationed conspicuously every few meters, where ever I went.


I sat snuggled on the sectional with my 7 year old resting his head on my shoulder, my 12-year old stretched out on the long part of the sectional alternately watching the movie with us and playing an online video game. The doors were locked, but not impenetrable. The windows were not tinted or bulletproofed. There were no men in dark suits standing guard at the entrances. Just a yellow dog curled up on a dog bed at the base of the stairs, her ears twitching occasionally as she dreamed her dog dreams.

I felt more secure than I had the entire week.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Did I Really Work That Much?

OMG . . . it's March 6th.

I've got a Visa, some card from the Argentinian customs agent, a bunch of stamps in my passport, a suitcase that isn't unpacked, an email inbox (personal and work) that are overflowing, and a serious case of jet-lag.

Ah, the stories . . . ah, the tired.

Oh, and #notMastodonweekend for me.

Respectfully (and tiredly, and sadly) submitted,

The Wife