Straws I Just Can’t Quit You

I’ve seen the future and it’s straw free. Well, to be accurate plastic straw free. I had this epiphany when I was on the West Coast and discovered that plastic straws were verboten. I was okay with this because I was given a perky paper straw with my beverage so I was thinking, “Yay for non plastic straws!”

This enthusiasm lasted until I used the paper straw and after about 30 seconds it disintegrated into my $5.00 iced blueberry black tea lemonade. Sadly, a paper straw isn’t a flavor enhancer and the chunks of paper floating in my ice tea didn’t exactly bellow, “Drink me!” My next beverage outing included a straw made from wheat stems. It held up better than a paper straw but the sipping process was still lackluster.

These experiences embolden me to go totally straw free the remainder of my West Coast sojourn. That’s right, I actually sipped my beverages straight from their containers be it a glass or a cup and it wasn’t easy. Straws have made us lazy.

My mother, always a woman ahead of her time, was the first person I knew that was anti-straw. True story – she didn’t allow straws in the house. The reason wasn’t that she was a crusading environmentalist. No, her straw ban was predicated on the fact that using a straw was the number one cause of lip wrinkles.

This beloved southern mama, who used Pond’s cold cream every night of her life and whose favorite words of wisdom were “moisturizer will never let you down” was a zealot against wrinkles and saw the straw as the enemy. (She also thought that you could judge a person’s I.Q. by their neck. Her theory was people with neck wrinkles showed a lack of intelligence and commitment to a task because they didn’t have the wherewithal to continue the moisturizing process post chin.)

The day I knew I had finally reached adulthood was when I had the backbone to sip on a straw in my mother’s presence. All she said was a very curt “Well, maybe wrinkles will suit you.”

I admit to loving straws and perhaps it’s born out of the straw deprivation of my youth. You also can’t discount that straws make drinking easier most especially in a car where Americans now average an hour a day on the road. In fact, upon doing an online “straw lifestyle inventory” (Yes, there is such a thing.) I discovered that almost all of my straw usage was on beverages I purchased via a drive up window.

This makes perfect sense because very few mortals have the skill to drink from a lidless cup and drive. My daughter suggested the easiest way to solve my “strawless while driving” issue was to invest in some reusable straws. I could even be “extra” and get silver straws that come in a monogrammed holder.

I was intrigued by this idea. A silver straw would certainly class up my morning McDonald’s Diet Coke experience. Maybe I could even extend my pinkie as I daintily clutch my 32-ounce beverage.

If we want to end American’s obsession to plastic straws this is how to do it – just make something perceived as “classy” and slap a logo on it. For instance if you want teenage girls to quit using straws have Lululemon make reusable ones. And if Louis Vuitton comes out with a reusable straw collection every mom currently not obeying the rules of the school drop off line will suddenly become ardent reusable straw fanatics.

Now excuse me while I select the monogram for my straw case. Do I want interlocking or a diamond?

Dear Snarky – Help! The Bride Has Demanded All of Her Bridesmaids Go on the Keto Diet

Dear Snarky,

Is there a nice way to get out of being a bridesmaid in wedding without saying, “F off!”

 My cousin is getting married in December and she told all five of her bridesmaids that we have to go on the Keto diet or else. She’s even demanding that we put the Keto diet app on our phones and then every day send her our nutritional logs along with a weekly weigh in.

 She told us that for her wedding to be “Insta fabulous” there’s a strict no fatties allowed rule. None of the bridesmaids are even what I would call fat. So, I just think she’s being a hateful bitch who thinks she can control us because we’re in her wedding. I want to get out now because you know it’s going to get worse by December.

 What’s the classiest way to drop out?

 Signed, Ready to Go

Dear Go,

 I think I would forget about being classy and just tell this monster of a bride that if being a bridesmaid in her wedding means humiliating yourself and allowing her to interfere in your personal business up to and including your private health information than you are tendering your bridesmaid resignation effective immediately.

 If this shrew throws a fit so be it. Just walk away with your pride in tact and under no circumstances let other family members try to talk you back into being a bridesmaid. This cousin isn’t worthy of your presence.

 And mark my words once you defect other bridesmaids will follow your lead because being a bride doesn’t give you carte blanche to ride roughshod over anyone else’s life with outrageous demands. In my opinion this woman doesn’t need to get married she needs an extended stay at a mental health clinic because she be crazy.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

My Appliances Hate Me

“They don’t make things like they used to.” Now, congratulate me for officially sounding old. Don’t worry it won’t hurt my feelings because my kids have been roasting me for a week about “channeling their grandpa.”

I can’t help it. I don’t care if I sound like an octogenarian because I’m ticked off. The focus of my wrath is my appliances. It’s been a summer of kitchen failures from the dishwasher to the refrigerator and spoiler alert – these appliances aren’t old and they aren’t some shady off brand. None of them have even celebrated their fifth birthday. This is why I’m flabbergasted that they would be breaking down.

Quick back-story – My parents owned a Kenmore washer and dryer in a not so very fetching shade of harvest gold. They purchased this duo when I was in kindergarten and both the washer dryer outlived my parents! Who makes appliances that last almost 50 years? I’m guessing the quick answer is no one.

Meanwhile, I have appliances that are basically still in their infancy going on life support. When I aggressively complained about this to my son he told me that it’s called “planned obsolescence” and I should get used to it.

Of course I know about the concept of planned obsolescence. (#iPhones) But seriously one would hope that appliances would last more than five years if only to keep the landfills free from French door refrigerators in fingerprint resistant stainless steel.

Last month, when our dishwasher started making a sound that made me think evil spirits possessed the Cascade pods I was using and were performing an exorcism on the rinse aid dispenser I immediately summoned by husband for help. When his diagnosis was to call a repair person I wasn’t having it. I went online to try to determine the problem and after two hours of my head in the dishwasher I gave up and, you guessed it, called for professional help.

The next week when the refrigerator started leaking water I entered the deluxe ticked off zone. My husband, apparently more comfortable with a drippy frig than a demonic dishwasher was confident he could fix it. This meant he went straight to YouTube for refrigerator tutorials. Lo and behold every tutorial said almost the same thing – Yes, you can temporarily fix the leak, but it’s going keep to coming back.

The assorted YouTube frig techs were unanimous that the refrigerator had an inherent design flaw and was doomed. This was a line in the sand for me. I wasn’t going to get a new refrigerator. I was going to subvert the leak. This means that once a week I have to do frig first aid.

The leak collects in the lower part of the refrigerator and for some reason freezes and then it melts which results in a leaky frig. My ER duties included soaking up the water with a beach towel and then getting a knife and chopping up the ice that has collected.

My husband believes I’m being a stubborn fool. But, I think I’m taking a stand. I will no longer be at the mercy of the planned obsolescence overlords. Plus, have you priced new refrigerators lately? Cha-ching. I will use a Coleman camping cooler before I pay four figures for a refrigerator.

This is why you will find me every week armed with towels, a butter knife and brute force going to battle with planned obsolescence. It’s a fight I plan to win. Some may call me crazy but I prefer the word warrior.

My Smart TV Outsmarted Me

I’m recovering from a personal journey that tested me in ways I’ve never been tested before. There were times when I was scared, bewildered, angry and tear stained. I ranted at the world and shouted curses. Fortunately I made it out and I’m here now to share a story of grit, survival, the power of prayer and sheer tenacity.

My pilgrimage of self-discovery started out with me attempting to lower our cable bill. My goal was to get our cable bill down enough to match what we would have to pay if we cut the cord and had to pony up for additional streaming services.

I marched into the cable company ready to battle. The woman helping me was very matter-of-fact, like she had heard this all before, and pointed out that a significant chunk of our bill was for super high speed Internet.

She knew she had me. Once you have high speed Internet you’re not going back – ever. There’s a lot of things I’ll give up in the name of making smarter spending choices but two things – turbo Internet and getting my hair highlighted will never make that list.

The customer service rep did discover that we could save money just by getting an updated digital video recorder. I was enthusiastically all in on that transaction and left with a new DVR and TV remote.

Fortunately I didn’t have to install the new equipment because I live with digital natives who need to earn their keep by riding herd on any and all tech endeavors. All was well in advanced DVR land until I was home alone and had to use the new remote to interface with the television.

At first I was mildly frustrated that I couldn’t even get the TV turned on. That quickly morphed into anger because come on, how hard can it to be turn on a TV? Adding to my now boiling cauldron of rage and disbelief was that I couldn’t even figure out how to manually turn on the TV.  Apparently, our “smart” television doesn’t have a physical on/off button. How does this happen? Why are televisions being manufactured like this?

It took almost 20 minutes for me to get the blasted TV turned on because that’s how long it took for me to try almost every button and sequence to get it to come to life. By this time I was sweating, swearing, and cursing the idiots who thought not having an on/off button made a TV “smart.”

Next up, I had to negotiate how get the DVR and TV to play together. It didn’t matter what buttons I hit on the remote the DVR wouldn’t take me to the TV channels. I was positive Satan must possess these electronics.

By this time I was too deep in my misery to give up. I was going to have to do an exorcism. I fervently prayed to the cable gods to give me guidance and finally the remote now saturated with tears did its job and I was able to see HGTV on the screen in all its glory.

I had won but as I collapsed on the couch the victor my butt hit the remote and the television turned off. Nooooo!

It took a patronizing “DVR and TV remote interfacing” lesson from my son to get me proficient in the new setup. And just for the record I still valiantly stand by my statement that a “smart” TV isn’t very smart if it doesn’t have an on/off button.

Dear Snarky – We’ve Got Issues

Aah, summer where the living is easy except if you’re in the middle of an August heat wave BUT the heat did give me a good excuse to expediently tackle three summer hot topics. Ready, set, go!

Dear Snarky,

 My daughter has a friend who is allegedly gluten and lactose intolerant and her mom makes a big deal about it at school parties and play dates and yet yesterday I saw the kid and her mom eating  cheeseburgers and drinking milk shakes at McDonalds. Should I call her out on her hypocrisy?

 Signed, Oh No You Didn’t

Dear Oh No,

Mind you own freaking business. You’re not the food police. I know it’s going to be hard but resist the urge to stir up drama. 

 Dear Snarky,

I know my friend’s kids are peeing in my pool because they never ask to go inside and use the restroom. When I shared my suspicions my friend got angry and told her kids to get out of the pool and left.

 How does she feel that she has the right to be angry it’s my pool getting peed in?

 Signed, Upset

Dear Upset,

 What did you want your friend to do offer up her kids for a CSI level urine forensics? Here’s a pro tip- quit inviting people over for a swim and then lobbying accusations at them.

 Dear Snarky,

 Every time we vacation with my husband’s family we always get stuck paying more than our fair share. You name it from groceries for the condo to eating out it’s like we are subsidizing the vacation. How can we stop this?

 Signed, Going Broke

Dear Broke,

The solution is simple. Quit vacationing with family that repeatedly takes advantage of you. The fact that you let this happen multiple times is beyond ridiculous. Close your wallet now and practice saying “We’ve made other vacation plans.”

Dear Snarky – I’m Conflicted About Attending My High School Reunion

Dear Snarky,

 I keep changing my mind about going to my high school reunion. I wasn’t exactly the popular type and the people I want to keep up with I do so through social media. But, I’m feeling a lot of pressure to go and I’m afraid if I don’t go I’ll experience a bad case of FOMO. But I’m afraid if I do I’ll regret it and all those old feelings of not belonging and being judged will come rushing back.

 I had almost convinced myself to do it until I got a group email from our class president, who was a huge jerk to me all through high school, and just seeing his name made me nauseous.

 My friends and co-workers say I should go because I have nothing to lose and could have a great time. What do you think?

 Signed, Hesitant

Dear Hesitant,

 High school reunions can be a mental minefield. The key is to not put so much pressure on the experience. In its simplest terms it’s a get together from back-in-the day.

 Basically, if you want to reconnect with your high school buddies – go. If you want to strut your awesome self in everyone’s face – go. If you want to do a contrast and compare of your former classmates to see how their social media personas stacks up to real life – go. If you want to post a bunch of photos on Instagram of you at the reunion with the #BestTimeEver – go. If your fear of missing out is so great it’s causing you anxiety – go.

 But trust me it’s not going to be like in a movie where you show up and through a series of twist and turns discover the balm that soothes your old high school wounds. You might ending having a ho hum time, a bad time or even the time of your life. You just have to weigh how much you want to see your former classmates and factor in the possibility that it could be not so awesome and than ask yourself is it worth it?

If you do decide to go I suggest the buddy method. Team up with a friend and even if the reunion is a bust think about all the fun you’ll have gossiping about your classmates.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

What Watching Three Episodes of “The Bachelorette” Taught Me

I’ve been educated by watching “The Bachelorette.” Yes, I know that sounds strange especially coming from someone who is a prude and is this close to identifying as a Duggar because wearing a loose fitting frock that grazes my ankles sounds sort of appealing.

My daughter introduced me to the TV show and at first I resisted. Basically, I thought it was beneath me. Now I realize with my love of several “Real Housewives” series that I have no room to cling to any moral high horse but I will admit I did feel just a wee bit superior to folks who got all excited about new episodes of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”

Heck, I even took pride in the fact that I could read/scan an US magazine and not know anyone in it because it’s basically just hot young adults that have been or are currently partaking of a smidgen of fame from being on that “dating” show.

I started watching “The Bachelorette” as a way to spend time with my daughter while making fun of the show. To date I’ve only watched three episodes but, oh my, it’s enough to make me blush. But more importantly it has shined a spotlight on how men are finally getting some grooming parity. Just the sheer amount of male hair depilatory on the show is amazing.

There’s these things called “fantasy dates” which is code for just what you think it is and includes a whole lot of near nakedness. What catches my attention every time is how hairless the men are. They all frolic shirtless and there’s not a hair on them. Not one single follicle. And thanks to high definition television you can tell that they’ve been subjected to some first rate waxing.

I enjoy pointing this out to my daughter who wails that I’m “ruining the show for her” and I take that as a compliment. But it also opens up the conversation about how in just the last several years there’s been monumental advances in beauty equality for men and I’m all for it. When a dude participates in the torturous ritual of getting large swaths of their skin assaulted by scorching hot wax it’s a large step for womankind.

I’m actually taking pleasure in males suffering for beauty and let me tell you these bachelors have suffered. From their exquisitely groomed facial hair to their Ken doll physiques that look shiner than my dining room table after I’ve soaked it in Lemon Pledge these guys are living the depilatory dream (or nightmare). I’m certain that at least an hour a day is spent just on body hair maintenance. To this I say yahoo!

Even more exciting is that guys (and not just the ones on TV) are wearing make up. Yes, please enjoy the Lancôme gift with purchase as you start wearing concealer and experience the true indignation of someday being out in public without make up and having multiple people tell you that you “seem tired” which is the polite way to saying, “You look like hell today.”

I’m all in on every guy ditching their 10-minute getting dressed ritual that involves a shower, a shave, toothbrush and maybe a comb. Yes, I welcome all men to the dark side where due to society’s expectations you’re pressured to blow dry and straighten your locks, contour your face with six different foundations and curl your eyelashes.

For too long men have had a grooming hall pass. All the pressure was on women to enhance their natural beauty in a very unnatural way. The fact that guys are now finally feeling the same pressure works for me. It’s time to finally share the insecurities and the Nair.

Dear Snarky – My Future In-Laws Won’t Pay for My Second Bridal Gown

Dear Snarky,

I’m getting some bad vibes from my future mother-in-law. I don’t think she likes me and she’s being super cheap about the wedding. When I went dress shopping with my mom and sisters I found a beautiful gown but I also wanted something more fun and flirty to wear for the reception so I thought that my finance’s family would buy me the reception dress as a gift since they haven’t gotten me a big ticket item yet.

 When I asked my finance’s mom if she would be up for treating me to the reception dress she acted confused about what a reception dress was and then said that she “didn’t see the sense” in having two dresses. So, I guess she didn’t give me a “no” so I’m wondering if I should ask her again?

 I’m not being a bridezilla I’m just letting the groom’s parents know that this is something I think they should do for me. After all, I’m about to be their daughter.

 Signed, Bride Problems

 Dear Bride,

 Here’s something you can get for your wedding – a clue. Your fiancé’s mom was attempting to be tactful by telling you “no way in hell” in a very diffused manner and I have to say that I agree with the woman. I also don’t “see the sense” in having two dresses.

 Do the math. A wedding ceremony last, at most, an hour. The average bridal gown costs $2,000. So, if you wear the dress for 60 minutes you’re paying almost $34 a minute for the dress. That’s just crazy. Now, if you have buckets of money do whatever you want but don’t expect your fiancé’s family to pick up the tab on another dress. It’s not a good look in more ways than one.

 If I were you I would apologize to your fiancé’s mom for even asking and tell her you had momentarily gotten a case of bride brain with all the wedding planning. Also, moving forward suppress your greed. A wedding isn’t about who’s picking up the tab on your “big ticket items.” 

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Memory Lane Slapped Me in the Face

Sometimes memories gently lull you and sometimes they slap you in the face in the most unlikely places. I never would have thought a trip to Nashville, a city I have zero emotional connection to, would prove to be a catalyst for reliving my young adulthood.

This trip down memory lane started at a barbecue restaurant. As we got in line for what was heralded as legendary Tennessee “cue” my husband noticed that CNN and PBS news goddess Christiane Amanpour was directly in front of us.

We introduced ourselves and ended up eating dinner with the erudite journalist and some other colleagues. After Amanpour departed, I mentioned that both of us were reporters at CNN at the same time. I then laughed at our career trajectories.

One person went into the stratosphere covering everything from the Persian Gulf and Bosnia wars and hosting multiple network. The other person’s trajectory was, how should I say it, not as awesome.

My sweet husband tried to cajole me by complimenting my, ahem, “slower paced” career. Truthfully I just didn’t have what it takes to make it. I’m the reporter who once hid in a bathroom to avoid messing up my holiday plans.

In December 1989 when CNN was assigning reporters to cover Manuel Noriega, who was holed up in the Vatican embassy in Panama, I literally sequestered myself in the ladies room – out of sight, out of mind – so my Christmas wouldn’t be spent in that quagmire.

I’m 100 percent certain Amanpour has and would never ensconce herself in a bathroom stall to avoid an assignment. Me, not so much.

My next young adult flashbacks happened in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Walking through the museum I had forgotten how many country stars I had interviewed back in the day. Being a Texas girl working for CNN in Los Angeles, I was the closest thing to a country music aficionado they had in the newsroom.

I tried to explain to my bosses that growing up watching “Hee Haw” at my meemaw’s house while shucking corn didn’t make me an expert on that genre of music. But pretty much once I put “Hee Haw,” “meemaw” and “shucking corn” in the same sentence, I was the de facto country music reporter.

I also had a PTSD moment in the Willie Nelson exhibit. His 1986 Farm Aid concert was where I had severe lower intestinal distress while on the air doing a live shot. It was a do-si-do of embarrassment and humiliation. To this day I can’t hear “On the Road Again” without feeling an urgent need to use the facilities.

By the end of the museum tour I was feeling a little down. Was my news career summed up by hiding in a bathroom and desperately needing one? But then I saw some George Strait memorabilia and it gave me a boost.

When I was 23 and covering the Texas legislature, I was way out of my depth in making sense of the political machinations. But something happened one day to let me know that no matter how dumb I think I am, there’s probably always someone a little dumber.

As I was at the Texas capitol waiting for my turn to do a live shot, I was watching a reporter from Houston giving her report. This poor woman thought that George Strait, the country crooner, was the speaker of the Texas house. From that point on there’s always been two levels of dumb for me – normal dumb and speaker of the house dumb.

So as far as life goals go at least I can say I haven’t hit speaker of the house dumb – yet.

 

Dear Snarky – Pool Pirrarah

Dear Snarky,

 I need your help getting back at a friend who pulled what I consider a pretty mean stunt. Last week I had 4 girlfriends and their kids come over for a low-key pool party. Before anyone got in the pool one of these friends pulled out something called a water quality meter put it in the water and then announced that my pool flunked.

Of course, everyone freaked out and wouldn’t get in my pool. I got out my own pool testing kit and everything was fine. I also told everyone that we had a pool company that maintained the pool and they always do a great job. Our pool is beautiful. But the damage was already done and no one would go swimming. It was so embarrassing.

 I’m hurt and confused as to why a friend would do this to me and I want to get back at her. Any suggestions?

 Signed, Perfect Pool

Dear Pool,

 My suggestion is simple. Dump this human – because she for sure is not your friend – from your zone of contact. Don’t waste a second “getting back at her.”  She’s not worth the effort and quite frankly she sounds disturbed. What kind of “friend” brings a water quality meter to another friend’s house and then stages a dramatic scene of “your pool is contaminated.”

 Just for a second let’s give this person the benefit of the doubt that your pool is gross – well if that’s the case she just should have declined your invitation and not descended on your home like a CDC inspector searching for the Ebola virus.

 I also take exception to the other women at the pool party that didn’t stand up for you especially after you performed our own pool test and it came out fine. Someone should have had your back. Do yourself a HUGE favor and make some new friends and throw another pool party that is free of water logged drama.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉