Gladys Kravitz 2.0

I’ve entered the full Gladys Kravitzgladys_kravitz zone, and even worse, I’m not ashamed. Not one little bit.

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the wonder of Gladys she was a character on the 1960/70’s TV show Bewitched and was legendary for her super nosey nature. Being that it’s 2017, I think of myself as the upgraded Gladys. Gladys 2.0, if you will. Because not only am I curious (such an improvement over the word “nosey”) of my surroundings, but I’m also the purveyor of unsolicited advice.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “My that sounds like a delightful personality combo,” and of course, you would be correct. It’s all because I’m a giver and I’ve reached a stage in my life journey where I feel like it’s okay for me to interject myself in stranger’s lives and offer my wisdom whether they asked for it or not.

My husband is certain I’m going to get myself killed or at the very least a beat down by someone who is not appreciative of my charms. I’m willing to take that chance.

Just this morning some lawn crews were doing the leaf suck up thing at my neighbor’s with perhaps the loudest blower ever created. I hate to digress from this treatise on my greatness, but just what the heck on the blowing of leaves? Why do some crews blow the leaves and then vacuum them up? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to go straight to vacuum? That’s your deep thought for the day. Now back to me.

As the crew was using blowers with a decimal rate of a Saturn Moon rocket blasting off I became increasingly concerned with their lack of hearing protection.

So, I did what any advanced middle-aged mom would do who lives with teenagers that don’t listen to her and feels a need to seek out folks who might want to benefit from her awesomeness — I grabbed my yellow ear muff hearing protection headset and ventured off to the unsuspecting lawn crew.

At first they ignored me. I didn’t take it personally. I was sure the sound of their blowers had sent them into some kind of trance. It took me jumping up and down and waving my hands to get their attention. It didn’t matter at all that they looked at me like I might be lacking the full use of my facilities. Heck, I’m very used to that look because again — I have teenagers.

Once I had the crew fully focused on me I gave them an extremely riveting lecture on hearing protection and why they should be using it. I even offered them the opportunity to try out my 3 M Turbo Hearing Protection with AM/FM Tuner. Sadly, I got zero takers. So, I went to Plan B — handouts.

Not just plain handouts, mind you, but color because it made the scary and sobering stats from the Hearing Loss Association of America look even more important. I sweetly suggested they read the packet ASAP then perhaps share it with their associates. Again, all I got were blank stares.

This was starting to hurt my feelings. I’m trying to change lives here and I’m getting nothing. Finally, a woman on the crew reaches up to her ears. At first, I think oh my perhaps she’s going to use sign language because she’s already experiencing catastrophic hearing loss. But, um yeah, that wasn’t’ exactly the problem. She plunged her fingers into her ears and pulled out some impressive looking ear plugs.

“Sorry,” she says, “We can’t hear you what with the ear plugs and all.”

After turning three shades of red I proclaimed, “Excellent, glad to know you’re using hearing protection” and then sprinted back to my house.

Embarrassed? Sort of. Will I stop Gladys-ing? Never. One doesn’t turn their back on a calling.

Partly Cloudy With A Chance of Dumb Ass – Part 6

Finally the freaking part about the cops

I spent the remainder of the week counting the days until Barbara got home.  According the neighbor “keeping an eye” (and just between us she was doing a mighty poor job) on Barbara’s house she was scheduled to be back in town on Monday. I hadn’t been this excited since I found six sleeves of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies hidden in the back of my freezer under a 5 pound bag of Trader Joe’s Chicken Won Tons.  On Barbara Eve, or as some of you may call it Easter, I woke up, pilfered candy from my kids’ Peter Cottontail Hopping Down the Bunny Trail baskets and got attitude from my husband about his Easter present. He’s all, “Classy, really classy” because I gave him a “Bitch Basket” for Easter. I got a 72 rolls of toilet paper package from Costco and used it as the base for the bitch basket and then added 10 chip clips, 2 fingernail clipper sets, scissors and a lint roller – all the stuff he’s always bitching about as in; “Where’s the toilet paper?”  “Why can’t I ever find a chip clip?”  “Who took the scissors?” I thought is was inspired. Who wouldn’t’ like 72 rolls of toilet paper? And it was Charmain Ultra Soft.  It’s not like I went Walmart house brand on him.

To escape his negative vibe I took my dogs for a walk before I got dressed for church.  As I turned the corner with my hounds I was greeted by the Super Family’s Easter Banner (Please if you haven’t read about the Super Family stop and do so right now.) on their side fence.  It proclaimed “Kendell Family Easter Egg Hunt – Who Will Find the Golden Egg?!”  Gag.  Thanks to Kevin Kendell, a petite, hairless man who resembles a turkey baster and is always dressed in bike shorts and a spandex tank top with his erect man nipples in a constant state of thrust,  four years ago the town had to abandon it’s 43 year tradition of a local Easter Egg hunt.  Kevin went on a search and destroy mission that I’m sure far surpassed WWII troops storming the beaches at Normandy to guarantee his kids Kelsey, Kaleb and Kacey found the most eggs.  Because of his special forces tactics a couple of kids were trampled and that escalated to five dads getting into a shoving match that some off duty firemen had to break up.  After that incident, the Kendell’s have hosted their own private, invitation only, Easter Egg hunt where the eggs are not filled with anything as bourgeoisie as candy. No, these eggs are stuffed with cash. The Golden Egg is the one with two $100 bills.   As you may have guessed the Snarky family has yet to receive an invitation to this Easter Egg Hunt.  After I pass the obnoxious sign I see Kevin’s bike short butt bending over as he hides eggs in preparation for the hunt.  I pick up my walking pace so I’m not forced to so much as make eye contact with him.

Twenty minutes later I get home from walking the dogs and as I’m unleashing my part beagle, part basset hound mutt (Oreo) I get a present.  Oreo opens her mouth and drops a plastic yellow Easter Egg at my feet.  This dog loves to pick up items on our walks, specifically golf balls and surprise you with her treasure when she gets home.  I have a drawer full of lovely Titlest balls that my special friend has picked up for my husband.  When I see the plastic yellow Easter egg my only thought is does it have candy and if so I wonder if any dog slobber has managed to permeate the candy’s wrapper?  I open the egg and two $100 bills fall out.  Oreo had found the Golden Egg!  Good dog Oreo.  Good dog.

I know what you’re thinking.  I should march right over to the Super Family and return their egg. It is after all one of the holiest days in the Christian faith.  Well, I decided on another course of action.  I went Old Testament with finders keepers losers weepers.  Oh, calm down, I didn’t keep the cash and put it in my emergency Diet Coke and hair highlight fund I took the two crisp one hundreds and placed them in the church offering plate when they were doing a special Easter collection for Haiti.  My husband raised his eyebrows when he saw me peel off the cash, but he didn’t say anything.  He saved that for five hours later.

That’s because five hours later I had a policeman knocking on my front door.  You can imagine how excited this made my entire family.  I told everyone to calm down.  It’s not like we haven’t trained for this.

“Everyone,” I snapped, “Man your battle stations. This is not a drill.”

By that I meant for my husband to get his phone and prepare to speed dial our attorney and for my kids to take their positions at the upstairs windows to record what was going down with their phones.  I may need it for the trial.

“Remember,” I told my kids, “I want one of you getting the close-ups and one of you keeping steady on the wide shot. Don’t go all fancy camera moves on me.”

I was in luck when I opened the door and saw it was the SRO (School Resource Officer) as the cop of the day.  Officer Matt did the DARE and Safety programs at the Elementary and Middle School. He must have drawn the short straw by getting Easter Sunday duty.  The good news for me was over the years I had developed a congenial relationship with the young police officer.  I’m about to give you newbie parents some great advice here so get ready to take notes –  When your kids start school you will, of course, give the teachers gifts, but it’s more crucial to gift the support staff.  School secretary, librarian, custodial and even the SRO were recipients of my gratitude for all they did.  This is why as soon as I got my door opened I gave Officer Matt a great big hug, asked about his mother and offered him a piece of pie and then asked him why he was paying me a visit.

Blushing and slightly stammering he said, “Your neighbor thinks you may have stolen $200 from him.”

“Do you mean my neighbor who is trying to hide himself behind my oak tree, that one?”

Officer Matt looks over his shoulder and says, “Yes, that one.”

“Do you know why he would think that?”

“Sir,” he shouts to Mr. Super Family, “Please come here.”

Mr. Super Family struts over in his spandex and says, “All I know is that I’m missing my golden egg and the only person I saw when I was hiding my eggs were you and your dogs.”

I look at Officer Matt and can see that he’s having trouble keeping a straight face and say, “Wow, the Case of the Missing Golden Egg.  It’s like Encyclopedia Brown Meets Mother Goose.  How exciting. “

Mr. Super Family gets all up in my face and says, “Yeah, well it’s still stealing.”

“Golly Kevin, anybody or even an animal could have picked up an egg.  You have your great big sign up bragging how the eggs are stuffed with money and I also believe you put it on your family Facebook fan page.”

(That’s right, I said fan page.  The Super Family is so super that they attempt to share their greatness with a worldwide audience.)

“What a minute,” Officer Matt says to Mr. Super Family, “It’s common knowledge that you hide eggs with money in them all over your yard.”

“Yes”

“When did you post it on Facebook that you had eggs with money in them in your yard?”

“I don’t know about 7 hours ago. “

“And,” I say, “How do you even know your golden egg is missing?”

“Because, the egg hunt is over and no one found the golden egg.”

“Well, did you consider that one of your children or guest found the egg and took the cash and didn’t want to tell anyone. Maybe they were afraid they would have to share it.  Seriously, I can think of about a thousand scenarios on how that egg could have gone missing.  Even, maybe that a dad of one of those kids you trampled four years ago in the city Easter Egg hunt might have taken it.”

Officer Matt’s face turns angry and he says, “That was you four years ago?  Not cool man, not cool.”

While I’m looking at Mr. Super Family I ask Officer Matt, “Is there any kind of legal recourse I can take for having a neighbor call the cops and accuse me of stealing on Easter no less.?”

Officer Matt smiles and says,”I’m sure there’s at the very least some kind of harassment charge you could file.”

“Hmm,” I say, “I’ll consider taking that under advisement with my legal counsel.”

Officer Matt looks at Mr. Super Family and says, “Sir, I’m afraid you have no complaint here. The egg could still be in your yard or one of your teenagers could have “borrowed” it.”

That was enough for Mr. Super Family to walk back to his yard with his tail between his bike shorts.

Before Matt could turn and leave I reach out and touch his elbow and ask if he could answer a question for me.

“Sure, What is it?”

“Well, it’s about something growing in my neighbor’s yard. I think it maybe cannabis sativa.”

Now that got his attention.

The Conclusion

Finally, the day had come for Barbara to return home.  I’m sure she thought the manure smell would have dissipated and she would pull into her driveway secure in the knowledge that she bested me and all was right in her well-ordered lawn dominatrix world.  Sadly for Barbara as she turned the corner and veered into the winding road that would lead to her cul-de-sac she was greeted with a yard still sprinkled in cow crap with tiny little seedlings of clover and dandelion proudly peeking out of the soil.  Waiting for her in the driveway was the raccoon condo better known as the 1975 AMC Pacer mating with the rusted, bullet bedazzled tin trailer.  Five strong stalks of a dioecious flowering cannabis herb were gently swaying in the late afternoon spring breeze.  The sixth stalk having been removed by a law enforcement officer on Easter Sunday.

In preparation for this moment I had stayed home all day and had my ears on high alert for screams of anguish.  As luck, or the fact that I spent most of my day outside scanning the street for Barbara’s car would have it, I was able to witness the moment when she arrived back to her lair.  Due to the AMC Pacer and trailer taking up her entire driveway she had to park on the side of the street.  She threw open her car door, her wedge heeled sandal feet ran up the sidewalk and she was screaming, “Whose car is this!  Whose car is this!” She stuck her head inside the windowless Pacer and then bolted across the street to the neighbor who had been put in charge of watching her home.  The neighbor comes out to her front porch and Barbara begins screaming 20 Questions – Whose car is that?  Why is it in my driveway?  She had yet to notice her lawn had been infiltrated with grasses that didn’t answer to the name of Kentucky Blue or Rye.  After Barbara had browbeaten the neighbor into crying she whipped out her cell phone and called the police.  It took all of 5 minutes for the cops to arrive.  It took 7 before a crowd gathered and only 8 before the President of the HOA walked by.  I entered the fray at about 9 minutes in.  The police had a problem calming her down especially after they pointed out she had marijuana growing in her flower beds.

Lord, she was a very unladylike cursing tornado belching the F word like a drunken frat boy. After I soaked up the spectacle for a few minutes I felt the need to step in.  I said, “Excuse me officers, but if she really doesn’t know where the Pacer and trailer came from I could call a tow service for her, but it might be a couple of hours before they could get there. (I didn’t want the non-profit I volunteered for to lose out on a donation so I had always planned after I tweaked Barbara with the car visual to have the two junk heaps hauled off.)  Also, I’m sure that weed is just pure nonsense. This woman, although she swears like she’s giving birth to a 14 pound baby without an epidural and recovering from an episiotomy that was done with a spork, is a pillar of the community and co-chair of the Lyric Opera Guild Gala 2012 – An Enchanted Evening.”

One of the police officers looks at me and says, “We figured the weed wasn’t hers. It’s not something you would usually grow in the front of your house and it’s hard to prove who planted the pot. Was it the original owner of the home? Was it airborne seed?  We just need it eradicated.  Oh and thanks for the offer of the tow truck,” he pauses and looks over at Barbara who is now sitting down in her manure yard in white linen pants with her head between her legs taking deep breaths and says to her, “You know lady you’re mighty lucky to have such a great neighbor.”

Barbara lifts her sweaty, make up stained face up at me and I smile and say, “Oh, officer I would do just about anything for her.”

Epilogue:  By dinner time the Pacer and trailer had been towed off to the junk dealer’s lot and the pot was history. Last weekend Barbara began the process of having her entire lawn ripped out and re-sodded in an attempt to rescue her virgin grass from the virulent soil combatants that the manure had “released.” She’s currently in the process of  appealing her HOA death sentence and has secured an attorney in her quest to reclaim Yard of the Month privileges.  All of this has left her with no time to mess with me or anyone else in the neighborhood.  We’re all enjoying leaving our garage doors open, not mowing our grass in a cross hatch pattern and using yard decor that is not from Barbara sanctioned places like Frontgate or Pottery Barn.  On occasion, when Mr. Super Family is out in his yard, I especially like to play fetch with my dogs by throwing yellow plastic eggs for them to retrieve.  I’m sure he loves to hear me say, “Good doggies, now go get that golden egg.”

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**Many thanks for all of you who “liked” me on Facebook!  May the Snark Be With You.  For those that haven’t done the deed yet to stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.   Thanks also to all the Pinterest folks that are sharing the Snark. Cheers!


Partly Cloudy With A Chance of Dumb Ass – Part 5

Not one to rest on my laurels I was all over another opportunity that presented itself to me later in the day.  I volunteer at a non-profit that takes people’s used cars as donations and then sells the, usually very crapped out, cars to a dealer for cash.   I was working the phones for them when a call came in from a woman who wanted to donate her recently deceased father-in-law’s car.  She sounded very embarrassed about the condition of the vehicle and I assured her we had gotten cars donated that a good junk yard would have turned away.  Her problem was they were about to put her father-in-law’s house on the market and they needed the car out of the driveway as soon as possible.

“The car can’t be that bad,” I said.

“Oh, trust me it is,” the woman replied, “It’s a 1975 rusted out, dented, moldy AMC Pacer with the roof caving in. Oh and raccoons got into a couple of years ago and shredded most of the interior.”

I hope right now you’re thinking what I was thinking because I was thinking – I’ve got to get my hands on that car.  She had me at AMC Pacer.

“That does sound bad,” I said, “But we still would love the donation.”

“Well, there’s one more things. The Pacer has one of those tin can travel trailers attached to it.  The trailer is in worst shape than the Pacer. It even has a couple of bullet holes in it,”

I  gasped in delight, but the woman thought I was gasping about the violence of bullet holes so she quickly said, ‘Oh no, it’s not what you think.  The bullet holes are from a hunting trip when a bunch of men got drunk and used the trailer for target practice.”

I’m thinking to myself, “Awesome!” But I say to her in a voice of sweet innocence, “It’s okay.  I was just taken aback for a minute.”

In a very relieved tone she says,  “I was worried you were going to back out and you still might because the problem is you have to take both the car and the trailer.  You see the tow hitch on the back of the Pacer is so rusted out we can’t get the trailer off.”

“Oh no worries, no worries at all – we’ll take both,” I say as I’m rubbing my hands together in unfettered joy.  Let me ask you something – can your still drive the Pacer?”

“Barely.”

“Well, here’s the deal our parking area where we store the cars before the dealer we sell them to comes and hauls them away is full right now. But, if you could manage to drive the car and the trailer to my house I could store it for you and then when there’s room in our lot we can move it there.”

“Oh Bless you!  You’re an angel.  I’ll get with my husband as soon as I hang up the phone and see about moving the car today.”

I gave her Barbara Gray’s address and told her to make sure to pull the car and the trailer into the driveway as far as it will go.  I also told her I was going to be gone all day so she just needed to leave the key to the Pacer in the front seat of the car since I was pretty sure no one was going to steal it.

By 3:30 that afternoon Barbara had not only six pot plants in her front yard, but the world’s most disgusting AMC Pacer that was being upstaged by a vintage trailer that probably housed meth chefs in a former life, decorated with bullet holes.  I did exactly what you would have done.  I took pictures, lots of them.  Then I called the HOA and requested an emergency meeting.

The Devil’s Minor League – The HOA 

Our HOA board is composed mostly of retired people in very bad moods with control freak tendencies boarding on the psychotic which is why Barbara, as the recording secretary, fits in so nicely.  I think because they’re bored they fill up the days by ensuring their suburban enclave meets their level of perfection.  These folks also love, love, love meetings.  To request an emergency one, I have no doubt, gives them a non-viagra aided climax.  My meeting request was quickly approved and scheduled for 10 a.m. the next day.  I suggested we all meet in Barbara’s yard and added that it wouldn’t be awkward because I knew she would be out-of-town.

As befitting such an important and solemn occasion as an emergency HOA meeting in a neighbor’s manure laden lawn I showed up the next morning dressed in my burb finest – jeans, a T.J. Maxx cashmere twin set with pearls and my hair in a headband. I looked like Hillary Clinton, circa 1992. I carried a basked of mini muffins that I passed around and I also had handouts.  Nothing says I’m a serious person who once worked at an important job a decade ago as color handouts.  My handouts, in extra-large type, thank you very much, for the mature set, listed the HOA “crimes” Barbara had committed including, but not limited to; use of unapproved lawn fertilizer resulting in endangerment of the health of other homeowners, possible growing of illegal vegetation, violation of the parking rules and having a vehicle or lawn ornament that reflects negatively on the beauty of the neighborhood.  I also noted as a HOA board member she should know better.

The board, 4 retired dudes, 2 ladies who lunch and also do hard time as members of the Garden Club and my friend Kelly (Board treasurer. She very nicely left work so she could be there for me. ) were “aghast,” “taken aback” and “saddened” by Barbara’s “egregious” and “blatant disrespect of the covenants of the HOA.”  Kelly was getting me off my game a little bit because she was trying not to laugh and the effort was making her entire body shake. I couldn’t make eye contact with her for fear I would start howling. To try to regain my composure I proposed a moment of silence where we could all reflect or pray, depending on your religious affiliation or lack thereof, for Barbara’s soul.  One gentleman requested we form a pray circle and hold hands.  That pushed Kelly right over the edge.  She got the hiccups from excessive laughter suppression and had to excuse herself to go and get a drink of water. I told everyone the manure smell was most likely causing a partial larynx paralysis.

After the moment of silence the HOA board president opened the meeting up for discussion.  I thought the two garden club groupies would try to have Barbara’s back and might defend her.  I was wrong – kind of – they did  have her back, but it was to stick a knife in it.   They also aimed for her jugular by making a motion for the HOA Death Penalty – Ineligible to participate in Yard of the Month for two years!  They had a quorum and took a vote.  It was unanimous – The Death Penalty wins!  The Death Penalty Wins!  One of the woman wanted to call Barbara and inform her immediately of their decision.  No, no and no, this can’t happen. I don’t want her rushing home.  I need a couple of days for my damn seeds to germinate and those pot plants to take root.  This is when being prepared and forcing yourself to read 13 pages of HOA rules pays off big.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, “According to the covenant you have to send the rule violations in writing via registered mail. It would be a flagrant violation of our own policy and might render the charges against Barbara null and void.”

They all agreed and the meeting was adjourned with the president vowing to get the letter written and mailed today.  I waited until everyone left, checked on the pot plants, gave them a little water and then did a happy dance.

But, wait there’s more – click your way over to the finale!

Get your Snarky fix by buying the book!  Snarky in the Suburbs – Back to School – check it out on Amazon.  http://tinyurl.com/snarkybook

Here’s a little lookie loo: 

The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.

 If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.


Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Dumb Ass – Part 4

I woke up the day after my Water Carnival show down all Zippity-Damn-Doo-Dah. I was confident that Barbara Gray had been vanquished for at least a couple of months.  I held on to that happy thought until 10 a.m. I had dropped my kids off at school, gone to a meeting and was pulling into my driveway when I smelled something God awful.  I put my car into the garage and got out to investigate.  That’s when the full force of the odor  began an assault on my olfactory system.  Imagine the worst dirty diaper you’ve ever changed then multiply that by 1,000. I followed my nose and it took me right to Barbara’s house.  She had a landscape crew literally shoveling shit all over her lawn. They were spreading manure in the flower beds, around her trees and shrubs, even raking it through her grass.  Yes, I know it’s just super environmentally friendly to fertilizer with manure, but Barbara wasn’t just fertilizing she was carpeting her entire yard with bovine refuse.  As I stood in her lawn breathing through my nose a neighbor walked over and said, “This is just horrible!”

“I don’t know how Barbara can stand this,” I said while gagging.  “Who wants cow poop all over their yard?”

“Oh, didn’t you know?  She’s at her lake house until next week.  I’m supposed to keep an eye on things for her until she gets back.”

“What?!  Barbara has left town and we’re stuck with crapapalooza.”

This whole landscaping with nature’s number 2 got my snarky senses tingling.  Something besides the crap didn’t smell right.  I walked over to what seemed to be the head landscape guy and asked if he knew when the order was placed for the manure spectacular.  He said, they got a call late yesterday afternoon from Mrs. Gray requesting her yard be “liberally fertilized with cow manure.”

“She said she was going green and wanted to experiment with cow manure as a total lawn fertilizer. I told her it was going smell something awful, but she didn’t’ seem to care.”

I stood there and thought, “Well, well, Barbara you think you can one up my Water Carnival with a strategic crap bomb.  We’ll just see about that.”

I thanked the yard guy, sprinted inside my house and then took a couple of minutes to enjoy breathing again.  Once I was no longer light-headed from a lack of oxygen I got on the phone to do some research.  My first call was to the landscaping service Barbara uses.  I identified myself as a writer for the website – I Want Yard of the Month.com. The nice lady that answered the phone seemed thrilled to be talking to a “journalist.”  Now some of you may remember that I’ve used this whole writer for a website thing before (I Hate People – Part 3) and if you’re thinking I’m lazy because I’m reusing strategy think again.  I use it because it works.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – never underestimate how much people like to talk about themselves or have someone ask their opinion.  I shared with the woman that I was a neighbor of Barbara Gray’s and was fascinated by her use of cow manure as a fertilizer.  I asked if this was a new trend in suburban landscaping.

“Oh no, we do use cow manure in flower beds, but this is the first time someone has asked if we could do their whole yard.  It usually isn’t done on the entire yard because of the smell and the neighbor’s complaints.  There are some HOA’s that don’t allow it.”

“Really?  Some HOA’s have a problem with it – interesting.  Now, I haven’t noticed my neighbor using cow manure before.  Do you know why she changed her weed and feed methods?”

“You know I really can’t say.  I do know that her phone call yesterday afternoon took us all by a complete surprise.  It’s was so, how do I say this, so un-Mrs. Gray.  We even tried to talk her out doing manure over her entire yard, but she insisted.”

“She just decided to do it yesterday.  Wow, you guys work fast!  What time did she call?”

“Oh, it was right after 5 o’clock, but Mrs. Gray is one of our best clients so we try to keep her happy.”

“Hmm, I bet you do.  Now, is there a downside to using cow manure besides the odor?”

“Well, if you’re not careful about the quality of the manure you can get what is called weed seed transfer. That’s when the vegetation the cow eats ends up in it’s poop and those seeds can then end up in your yard.”

Upon hearing this my heart skips a beat and I experience the thrilling rush of retaliation. I try to contain my joy and say in a voice that’s as normal as possible, “How devastating. You mean if you’re not careful you could end up with a yard full of weeds?”

“Yes, there’s a chance that might happen, but then most people don’t use cow manure all over their yard.”

I thank the landscape lady profusely for her time and promise to send her a link to my article just as soon as I post it online.  I then quickly call my neighbor who is keeping on eye on Barbara’s house for her and ask if she knows exactly when Barbara will be back.  I find out she’s gone for an entire week.  Excellent.  I then change into my navy blue capri track pants, throw on a t-shirt, shove my size 11 feet into men’s flip flops (They’re way cheaper people.) and head to our city’s one and only organic nursery.  I was off to buy some seeds.  Why organic you ask?  Because I wanted to buy dandelion seeds and I knew the organic nursery stocked them for the deluxe crunchy set who make their own home-grown dandelion wine. (Yuck.) I was planning on liberating some dandelion seeds right into Barbara’s yard and that was just the beginning.

Field of Dreams

I was greeted by a very attentive garden employee. She was named Saffron Luna and of course, that prompted me to ask if that was the name on her birth certificate.  It was not.   I told her I was helping my daughter with a school project and she had to see which kind of weeds would grow fastest in a manure based soil.  Saffron was full of great suggestions. While dandelions were a no brainer she also suggested thistles, something that was a cousin to crabgrass, clover, chickweed and various nut and onion grasses.  Unfortunately, all they sold were the dandelion seeds, but she know the local Ag Extension office (for you big city types the Ag office in the simplest terms is a cooperative education outreach for farmers) would have some, if not all of, the weed seeds.  Mother Nature had my back because not only was the Extension office more than happy to load me up on “lawn combatants” they also didn’t charge me a thing.  The gentleman there said, “He was pleased to help any youngster with a scientific endeavor.”

Yeah, I know I should have at least blushed or hung my head in shame for fibbing, but I had bigger issues at stake than the truth – revenge.

The trip out to the country and back took up most of my afternoon and I barely was on time picking up my kids from school.  I warned them as they exited the car to use their backpacks to cover their face and not to commence breathing until they were inside the sealed pod that is our house. Based on the fact that, at times, they’re both morons they didn’t obey me and I was serenaded with my daughter screaming, “My eyes are bleeding!” and my son moaning “It’s the Killing Fields!”  To punish them for not doing as they were told I ran into the house and locked the door making them beg for mercy before I would open it. They were locked out for all of 30 seconds, but you would have thought both of them were having limbs amputated.  After they calmed down and did a nasal wash I explained that Operation Retribution was in high gear.  This is when I was betrayed by my own flesh and blood.  My daughter had the nerve to announce, “Mom, this is all your fault! If you hadn’t made Mrs. Gray so mad with the Water Carnival we could all breathe outside.”

My son added, “I would think about doing Operation Give Up because not being able to go outside or open your windows trumps water balloons.”

I shook my head in disgust and said, “Really, this is what you two are all about – giving up, quitting, hugging defeat.  I’m seriously doubting that you two are my children.  There must have been some kind of switched at birth at the hospital because anyone with my DNA surging through them would not be this lazy. Oh my God, or worse, you both are acting just like Nana!  This isn’t the time to quit.  This is the time to shine.  To let your opponent know just what they’re dealing with.  I telling you two, I‘ve got this.”

Then I misquoted Winston Churchill (big time) and made, what I thought was a stirring closing argument.

“We shall fight her in her yard, We shall fight her in the HOA, We shall fight her in the fields and in the streets, We will outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.”

As usual they were not impressed, but I tell you, I gave myself chill bumps.

Before the Dawn’s Early Light

At approximately 3:45 a.m. my alarm went off and I got out of bed ready to begin phase one of Operation Retribution.  Because I had slept in my super sexy nighty – an XL man’s black Hanes T-shirt – I already had on most of my camouflage outfit. All I needed to do was pull on my track pants, lace up my tennis shoes, leash up our black dog and I was good to go.  I slipped out of the house with a dog poop bag filled to the brim with the lawn combatants and then using my elderly dog with bladder control issues as an excuse to be roaming the neighborhood at such an early hour I set out for Barbara’s yard.  Once I got there I began pouring seed from the poop bag into nice little rows.  I felt like a 21st Century Johnny Appleseed.  Everything was going great until something touched my shoulder.

“Holy Crap!, I whispered screamed,  “Who sneaks up on a woman in the middle of the night?”

“Sorry,” said my 60ish down the street neighbor said. He was smoking and I guessed that’s why he was up.  I knew his wife didn’t allow him to smoke in the house.  “I was just so curious about what you were up to I had to come and take a look-see.”

Hmm, what to do, what to do.  Should I confess the truth or try to cover up my actions?  My neighbor, James Robert, is a retired English professor. He’s got a cool, aging hippie vibe.  He and his wife do new age things like travel the world watching sun sets while doing yoga on top of a mountain.  He’s also pretty attractive for an older gentleman.  Not NCIS Mark Harmon attractive, but really who is?  I decide to go with confessing. Barbara has given him plenty of grief over his xeriscaped yard so I knew there was a good chance he would be all over my plan.  I would also throw in that I was just giving karma a nudge.  So, I spilled the beans/seeds.

As soon as I’m done he starts laughing his ass off.  He’s so loud I’m shushing him, like I need more neighbors outside – not.  After he calms down James Robert bends down to pet my dog and says, “I think I can help you in this little plan you’ve got going on.”

“Oh, you’re going to help spread the weed seeds?”

“Nay, I can do better than that.  What would you say if I planted some weed?”

I gave him a confused look and said,”Well, I’m already planting weed. I have clover and chickweed and…”

He interrupted me with, “No, I mean real weed.”

I looked at him again, still confused and then I got it, my eyes bigger than the full moon. “Ohhhh, you mean weed, weed, marijuana!  I gasped and said, “You want to plant pot in Barbara’s yard?”

At this point I was experiencing a wide range of emotions from giddy delight to having Mrs. Stick Up Her Butt growing pot in her yard to the fear of being busted.  I can see it now, “Local Mother of Two Arrested in Pot Sting – Feet to Big for Women’s Prison Slippers.”

My delight overtook my fear so I went for the follow-up question. “Just how would you do that?”

“Easy, I might possibly have access to a couple of marijuana plants that perhaps I could put in those front flower beds right over there.”

“Like full size, already grown plants?”

“Yes, full size plants.”

“Okay, I can’t tell you how happy this is making me, but I can’t have any part in being anywhere near marijuana.  If you do this I can not help you. I’m going to have to go all Mission Impossible and disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

“No problem. Give me the rest of your seed bag and take your doggy inside.  I’ll take care of the rest.”

I felt like I was right in the middle of a drug deal or something.  My heart was thumping out of my chest.  “Okay,” I said, very cautiously, “I’ll just drop my bag here and go back to my house.  It was good talking to you. Tell your wife hi for me” and then I turned tail and ran home.

I was extremely worried that I may have crossed a line so I woke up my husband and told him my story.  He looked at me with sleepy, pissed off eyes and first said, “You were out in the middle of the night with seeds in a dog poop bag spilling them on a neighbor’s yard with our dog as your co-conspirator?”

“Yes.”

Then you accidentally meet up with James Robert and he volunteers to plant pot in Barbara’s yard.?”

I’m thinking his grasp of the story is remarkable for someone who just woke up and say, “Yes.”

Did you ask him to do it?  Did you see the plants? Did you see him plant the plants?”

I answered, “No, no and no.”

“Then go to sleep. For all you know he was just yanking your chain and P.S. you’re might need to go on some kind of medication”

“Not going to happen. I don’t think there’s a medication for making someone un-awesome.”

He said, “You do know your awesome is probably a textbook case of crazy,” and then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I couldn’t. I was too wired from my nighttime excursion.  I got even more excited the next morning when I took my dogs on an early than normal morning walk and saw about half-dozen pot plants standing tall and proud in Barbara’s front flower beds.  Good Lord, he had done it!  Barbara Gray was now a pot farmer.

Yes, there’s still more, much more – coming soon.


Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Dumb Ass – Part 1

Water SprinklerI do a lot of things I’m not very proud of.  The good news is I have, what I consider to be, a gift of being able to justify my bad behavior.

Earlier this month I went on what could be called a HOA crime spree.  I dampened neighborhood property without verbal permission or written permit.  I trespassed.  I illegally parked a three-ton vehicle with an attached trailer and I committed larceny with intent to permanently deprive. Am I a bad person? No.

Here’s my defense. The weather made me do it. If I was given the opportunity to plead my case to a jury of my peers – any female over the age of 18 afflicted with terminal frizzy hair and water retention issues – I would be assured a speedy acquittal. The extreme and almost unprecedented early spring humidity was playing havoc with my grooming.

My hair was out of control even though I had upgraded to salon strength de-frizz balm and the excess moisture in the air was causing my body to experience acute bloating boarding on head to toe edema. (Seriously, even my XL my capri track pants were snug and my boobage was swelling out of my Champion athletic bra. What’s with humidity and boob swelling anyways?  Ladies forget the breast enlargement – just move to a humid climate.)

All of this combined to make me not responsible for my actions due to mental defect brought on by acute water vapor coupled with bipolar barometric pressure.

I know, right now you’re thinking, “Oh my God, why isn’t she an attorney? Clearly Snarky is one of the great legal minds of this millennium.”  Well, here’s the crappy deal – that stupid LSAT and of course, my college GPA kept me out of any kind of law school, even ones in Puerto Rico.

I say they base your law school acceptance on the craftiness of your mind, not your ability to memorize something like Pollock v. The Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. I could so do the whole Supreme Court thing and bonus – I look my best in black and white not to mention those full length judges robes would not only hide my cankles, but provide camo for back flab and other unsightly bulges.

My crime spree started on the morning of April 2 when I was doing my most favorite things in the whole wide world; minding my own business, listening to Christian soft jazz as sung by the Kid’s Bop Choir, while doing a little meditative prayer, kegeling and hosing off my deck. (Okay, I was so doing only one of those things.)

As I was braving the humidity I was blissfully unaware that evil was lurking. It took less than 10 minutes for yard terrorist Barbara Gray, (A Very Snarky Christmas) looking Downey fresh and spring like in one of those so simple, but costs a fortune linen shift dresses that say “I take a vacation that’s not based on how many Marriott points I have” (Damn her), to emerge from her House of Horrors and begin verbally bitch slapping me with complaints that I had “gotten her grass MOIST.”

Any other day I probably would have just let her have a little tantrum and moved on. We all know that’s what I’m all about – forgiveness and adhering to the Golden Rule. But today, due to the humidity level from the basement of Hell (BTW – Hell, not a dry heat), I was not in the best of moods and her harangue set me off for many reasons.

First off, I know for a fact that I did not get her grass “moist.” I share just the tiniest sliver of property line with her. I informed Barbara that my hose, “Did not have super powers nor was I Elasti-Girl from the Incredibles.”  Second, and perhaps most important, was her use of the word – “moist?”

Really, you just can’t say wet you have to say moist?  Ick. Now, being a long-term Suburbanite I know there are cases when you don’t want your yard to get wet, like you’ve just put on some kind of fertilizer or weed and feed application. As a kind and gracious person I asked Barbara, “Did you have some kind of yard work done where your lawn can’t get wet?”

She looked down her very regal (I’m guessing a tip rhinoplasty or the very least a  cartilage reshaping) nose at me and said, “No, I just don’t want your water on my yard.”

“R-e-a-l-l-y,” I said, using my best you are such a dumb ass voice, “You do know that all of our water comes from the same place?”

“I don’t care. I just don’t want YOUR water on MY grass. Got it?”

“Oh, I’ve got it alright.” I said, in trying to sound like a tough chick.Then I aimed my hose in her general direction as she sprinted off.  You could hear her cloven hoofs going clippty-clop. I was hoping she’d wipe out and her designer nose would get a big ole whiff of grass. Unfortunately she made it safely back to her yard – for now.

I immediately went inside for a restorative burst of air conditioning and tried to compose myself. It took one 12 oz Diet Coke with a twist of lime and just a wee bit of the only booze I had in the house, Skinny Girl Margarita mix. I assure you it was for medicinal purposes only. I mean who drinks before noon, on a weekday, by herself, at home?

Not me. I mean, not me, all the time. After a couple of very unladylike chugs of my special Diet Coke I hit the shower. It was there I had my epiphany probably brought by the sudsy power of Irish Spring body wash and Suave shampoo.

As I lathered, rinsed and repeated I thought about the conundrum that is Barbara Gray. You would think she would have learned not to irritate me by now. I had brought down some major schemes on her and yet she always comes back for more. I think she has some freaky control issues that need addressing by a tag team of mental health professionals.  But, until that happens there is nothing I can do – except – continue with a course of corrective behavior training.

Any good parent knows the key to success in disciplining your child or dog is consistency. I need to be consistent with Barbara. It’s obvious her “moist” yard comment was a sign of her acting out.  To do nothing would just reward her negative behavior. I had no choice, but to strike back.  It was my duty as her neighbor to continue to teach her life’s hard lessons. I was going to throw an impromptu Water Carnival. This party would be 50% Family Fun magazine goodness and 50% Redneck Hillbilly which, if I’m doing the math correctly, equals 100% awesome.

More Tomorrow

Mrs. Snarky’s Neighborhood

Many of you have asked me where I live.  For all you know we could be neighbors and chances are if  there is a middle-aged mom next door that enjoys a 32 ounce Diet Coke and can really rock a Target track pant even while suffering from a debilitating cankle affliction then it’s probably me. Now, just to ensure I’m your neighbor I’m making available this handy guide to my hood.  Read it and see if anything rings your doorbell.

Directly across the street is where the Helpfuls live.  Every cul-de-sac needs this kind of neighbor.  If your outside doing any kind of seasonal chore they always seem to walk out there door to offer assistance.  Before you can even get your snow shovel mojo going here comes Mr. Helpful to give you tips on how best to increase your shovel productivity.  If your lucky he’ll give you a demonstration that includes some pre shoveling stretching techniques.  Thanks, but no thanks on doing snow yoga. I’m not a fan of doing downward facing dog with a shovel.  Plus, it gives me a very awkward combo camel toe/snow-pant wedgie.  Mrs. Helpful took an on-line course that, according to her now, has her ranked as a Master Gardner.  She’s a joy to visit with in the spring and summer.  All that yard advice is a godsend.  I don’t know how we managed to mow a lawn or grab a rack before she came into our lives. She is so tenacious in her yard zeal that even when we’re wearing ear protection (to protect us from the mower, I assure you, not to block out Mrs. Helpful’s charming weed and feed diatribe) she still insists on talking to us.

I’m most grateful for the Helpfuls advice on how to raise my children. I don’t know why, but it seems the people who have never had kids seem to have a prodigious supply of parenting tips. Maybe it’s because they have all that free time.  It’s not like I return the favor and say, “Hey, since you seem to have an almost stalkerish interest in my children here’s some suggestions on how to get your own baby making machine working.  The secret is sex while standing on your head. Don’t be ashamed if one of you has to use the wall for balance. Not every couple has the stamina for upside down reproduction. I will say it gives the sperm an Olympic bobsled run to the promise land.”  See, I’ve can be nice. I’ve kept my mouth shut. I have though suggested on numerous occasions that they take their sharing spirit and do some volunteer work.  But, no the Helpfuls confided in me that they “don’t much like strangers.”  Hmm, I wonder why?

Catty cornered from me is where the Doctors Scrubs live.  Mr. Dr. Scrub has never been seen in anything but green or blue surgical scrubs.  Now, I know you’re thinking a woman who lives in the aforementioned track pants shouldn’t throw stones, but I do, on occasion, wear a pant that requires a zipper. The thing is that Mr. Dr. Scrub is a radiologist.  He doesn’t perform surgery and according to his son, who is at my house so much he writes down what snacks he likes on my grocery list (Cheese Nips, in case you were wondering), his dad works most days from home reading x-rays etc from his computer.  I’m not saying radiologists aren’t amazing and don’t save countless lives I’m just asking the question does this man or any physician need to wear their scrubs to a 7 p.m. Tuesday night, 4th grade choir performance or to a 3 p.m. Saturday soccer game?

Mr. Dr. Scrub is married to a pharmacist who works at one of the local grocery stores.  She also always wear scrubs.  Her scrubs are a little more fashion forward.  Brace yourself, because Mrs. Dr. Scrub wears capris.  Yes indeed, that’s right, capri scrubs.  I inquired about her unique scrub look and she enthusiastically blabbed that she “cuts” her scrubs herself and then uses iron on sewing adhesive to make this one-of-a-kind scrub statement.  She also wears, God, I’m having trouble getting this out,  but here goes . . . capri scrubs and Uggs.   It looks as bad as it sounds, most especially when she wears her “low” Uggs so you get a Ugg, half a calf, scrub look.  Most unsettling, I assure you.  I desperately want to knock on their door and say, “I get it, we all get it, you Mr. Dr. Scrub are a M.D. and you, Mrs. Dr. Scrub have Master of Science in pharmacology. You are well-educated people who save lives.  You also make a decent living now go buy yourself some freaking pants.

Behind me and a little off to the side of my house is where the Super Family resides. Oh, how I live to mess with their perfect little word.  This family of two excessively pompous parents and three “amazing” kids stands for everything I’m against. Let’s start with those annoying children.  A lot of you aren’t going to like this and I know I’ll receive some backlash when I say it, but my kids, totally NOT amazing.  Yes, I love and adore my children with a fierceness that probably merits a 12 step program.  But, my kids, while exceptional to me, are not qualified for the amazing classification category.  Why? Because in my book having an amazing kid means they can swim underwater for 30 minutes without surfacing for air or have the ability to fly without the aid of a jet pack or commercial airliner.  My kids, a big no can do on all of that because they’re just kids. Normal (kind of), healthy (thank you God), funny (again, thank you God) kids.

I’m suffering from a terminal case of EPBF – Extreme Parental Boasting Fatigue brought on by moms and dads thinking their children are extraordinary to not just them (because that’s a given) but to everyone.  It’s one thing to have parental pride of ownership, it’s another thing to think that your child is the most amazing creature to every chew and sallow their own food. To all you delusional, hyper competitive parents out there calm down, pop a Xanex and chase it with a gallon box on Frenzia chablais.

Which now brings me back to the Super Family neighbors.  They truly believe, with all their heart and tiny, misguided brains, that their 3 (very average) children (ages 13, 15 & 16) are superior to all intergalactic life forms.  Two of the ways they show this to the world is with yard signs and banners.  Yes, when boasting on Facebook is not enough, by all means litter the neighborhood with signage. Different public and private schools fundraise with yards signs.  The more crap your kid is involved in the more yard signs that clutter your lawn.  For as little as $200, you too, can buy a yard sign that says your kid is on the volleyball team.  For an additional fee you can purchase sign accessories with things like guitar club, performing arts etc.  My neighbors have about 2 dozen of these signs in their yard.  Too add to their glory they also attach banners to their corner lot fence to share, with the world at large, just how incredible their children are.  Today there’s a banner that says, “Congratulations Kelsey, Kaleb and Kacey on an awesome 2011!  2012 get ready for Kendell Kids.  The best of the past, perfect in the present and the hope of the future!!!”  

Please tell me that you just vomited in your mouth a little bit?  To say these signs and banners bring me joy would be an understatement.  Every time I new one goes up I get a surge of pure adrenaline that brings on an evil impulse.  Sometimes I manage to have superior impulse control, other times – not so much.   I have though pretty much managed to make their yard signs insignificant.

This happened in September when I went on a faux yard sign rampage.  You’ve got that right, I made up fake yard signs.  26 of them to be exact.  It was so simple, I’m ashamed of myself for not thinking of it earlier.  All it took was my son to use his computer skills and duplicate the high school logo, add a bunch of made up b.s., take them to Kinkos, have them printed on card stock and then staple gun each “sign” to a stake purchased from Lowe’s.  Sure, it cost some money and I had to delay getting my hair highlighted for a month to fund my evil, but it was so worth it.  The most enjoyable part was thinking up the bogus stuff to put on the yard signs.  These were my favorites (I would be remiss not to give a shout out to my kids for helping think of all the captions): In the high school yard sign division: First Place – Most Tardies, Best Freshman Year Biped Mammal, Clean Locker Club, National Society of Halo Gamers, Class of 2014 Attendee.

I also threw in some other signs. Ones that were more related to the parents who also had signage about their accomplishments, especially running marathons.  Every time they completed a marathon a new sign proclaiming 26.2 went in their yard with the location of where they ran the marathon.   Well, game on neighbors because I had my own 26.2 experiences. For sure, mine didn’t mean I had run 26.2 miles, but I’ve lived a long life of 26.2.  For example, 26.2 could mean the number of pounds I need to lose, or the 26.2 sleeves of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies I could eat in a 26.2 hour period.

I waited and stuck the signs in my yard when my husband would be going out-of-town for three days.  Like I needed his throat clearing, disapproval act.  On the outside he’s all “God, really?  This is all so immature. Why do you care?”  But, I know on the inside he’s all, “You go crazy wife of mine. You go!”  I put my signs in the yard late at night, so when the Super Family went running at 5:30 the next morning they would be greeted by my yard “art.”  I even set my alarm and perched in the upstairs window so I could watch them explore my lawn.  Here’s how it played out: I could see them jogging.  They run by.  Their heads do a whiplash move. They come to a screeching halt, walk into my yard and began checking out all my signs.  I can see their agitation and by that I mean they are visibly pissed off.  Waves of thrilling happiness surge through my body as I witness this.  Friends, I had a revenge orgasm.

Fast forward three hours later and my doorbell rings.  It’s Mrs. Super Family.  She’s come to comment on my signage.  The Mrs. is most especially riled up, of course, about the 26.2 signs.  Now, when I say riled up I mean she is behaving with a veneer of politeness.  This is the suburbs, after all, and she is an Escalday. But I can tell it’s killing her. Her body language is saying, “I want to strangle you with my Adidas mesh crotch running thong.”

She comes into my house and says, “What’s up with all your new signs?”

I act confused and bewildered and respond in a tone that says I’m a sweet as Texas tea at a the Lions Club BBQ.  Which means I give it right back to her with; “You have a problem with my signs?  You have signs in your yard?”

Mrs. Super Family fires back, ‘Well, my signs are what I would call legitimate. Yours seem to all made up.”

“Really?” I say, acting concerned, “Show me a sign out there that’s not true.”

“Oh, that’s easy.  When do you ever run a marathon?”

As she’s saying this she’s giving my less than marathon body the once over.  It didn’t help that as she doing this I was eating a cookie.  Hey, it was oatmeal, so I’m giving myself points for a fiber rich snack.

I was more than ready for this line of questioning.  As we all know, I’m no amateur.  I sucked in my gut as best I could which meant one roll of flab receded, but the secondary roll remained at full sag, stood up straight and said. “Oh, I’ve run a marathon.  A marathon of faith.  While your 26.2 worships the miles you’ve run.  My 26.2 worships the good book. Isaiah 26.2  Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.”

Bam!  You don’t go to Baylor for 4 years and have to suffer through Old and New Testament religion classes (which were incredibly difficult by the way) and something called Forum every Wednesday and not come out with some mad bible verse skills. Don’t try to out church me people.  You will fail!

This, as I predicted, shut her down.  She stammered and yet attempted to compliment herself all at the same time with, “Oh, sorry.  I didn’t even think of that. You know as an elite runner I see 26.2 and think marathon”

“Well, (insert me sighing and doing my best impersonation of my mother) not everything is all about you, is it?  Now, I hate to rush off, but I was just on my way to bible study (and of course, for me, bible study just happens to be Target, but is that any of her business? No.) and need to go tidy up a bit before I leave.”

She sulked out of my house and I ate another (okay 3) oatmeal cookie to celebrate my victory.

I’ve reached the point in my story where some of you are dying to go over to the comment section and leave a pithy remark on how if you lived in my neighborhood you’d would have moved after the first week.  The thing is I rather like my neighborhood and I do have some very nice neighbors.  But, do you really want to hear about the great neighbors I have?  The woman two doors down that makes THE best blueberry banana nut bread or the wonderful couple at the end of the cul-de-sac who love to babysit my dogs.  I’m thinking no.  So, let’s continue on shall we? I have one more neighbor to share with you. The Scaredy Cat/Scentsy Family that from now on I will refer to as the SCSF.

You know how some people have those plaques hanging outside their homes that commemorate when they got married, like the Brown Family established 1990. The SCSF’s should have a plaque that reads Being Afraid and Smelling Good since 1996.  Mrs. SCSF has three children (one boy 15 and two girls 12 & 8) and lives in constant fear that everyone and everything is out to get them.  She’s afraid of schools, public pools, malls, Santa Claus, UV rays, anyone driving her kids somewhere except for her, Halloween, the food chain and she makes her five foot tall, I’m guessing well over 80 pounds, 12-year-old still ride in a booster seat.  When her 15-year-old son goes outside to shoot hoops she sits on her front porch and watches.  Bonus, she puts “Kids at Play” cones out for him. She’s convinced any worker with a landscape crew is a pedophile that has targeted her children.  Ditto for any UPS or Fed X employee.   She lets her children have friends over, but she never lets her kids go to someone else’s house.  The problem is, of course, no kid wants to come over.  It’s not that they don’t have awesome toys.  A spare bedroom has been turned into an American Girl paradise with tons of dolls and accessories.  It’s just that Mrs. SCSF it a little OCD about the children messing up anything.  So, you go in the room to look, but not to play.  They even take their Legos and sort them by shape, color, and theme and then put them into labeled fishing tackle boxes.  My daughter calls it the house where toys go to die.

The one good thing about the SCSF is that their house is an olfactory extravaganza.  Mrs. SCSF, when not busy home-schooling and protecting her flock, is all about her family’s “Scent Story.”  One day when taking over a package that Fed X left at my house because she won’t open her door to anyone she doesn’t have a “personal relationship” with I got a strong whiff of a special kind of insanity.  It began with me having to take off my shoes while standing on her front porch and then when I crossed the threshold of her home I was welcomed in with an antibacterial hand gel ritual and before I was allowed to meander past her foyer.  While I was “washing” my hands I noticed that the SCSF’s house smelled amazing.  I commented on this and that’s when she shared her home’s “Scent Story.”  I was taken on a tour of the “story.”  We went room from room as she did a scent selection commentary. It went something like this: “Now my living room has a fig scent to compliment the dining room’s vanilla lavender smell. As we step into the hall notice that it smells like apples which accents the vanilla of the dining room and yet doesn’t compete with the fig.” It took all I had not to reply, “Lady, all I’m smelling is crazy.”

Funny thing, after the Scent Story tour Mrs. SCSF really took a shine to me.  My daughter and I were always being invited over.  I would politely make up excuses, but you know how that works every so often you’d have to just give in and go. It was a dreadful way to spend an hour.  All she wanted to talk about was perceived security threats to her children and her personal scent story.  Truly, she had found her life’s passion.  Just when I thought I would have to start hiding from her my 10-year-old did something that made me proud enough to craft a yard sign in her honor.  Some parents have a Student of the Month or a kid who gets a perfect SAT score.  I have something even better – a mini-me.  My daughter asked Mrs. SCSF if there was anyway she could spend the night at their house some day soon because our house had bed bugs and she itched all the time.  I believe her exact words were, “It would be so nice to go to sleep and not wake up scratching, scratching, scratching!”

Upon hearing this Mrs. SCSF attempted to swallow a scream so it came it out like a huge burp hiccup. She then with rapid speed herded us out of her house like we were ground zero for the ebola virus.  That was three months ago and we haven’t heard or really even seen any member of the SCSF since that fateful day.

So, after reading all this what do you think – are we neighbors?

*Alert readers will notice that I didn’t mention some of my neighbors like Barbara Grey (A Very Snarky Christmas) or the Bible Bunko hostess.  I figured you had heard enough about these women (for now). Many thanks for all of you who “liked” me on Facebook!  May the Snark Be With You.  For those that haven’t done the deed yet to stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs. Oh and while you’re at it go ahead and share my link with friends.  Cheers!

The Case of the Diaper Dumper

Surveillance Log:

October 6, 2011

11:00 a.m.

Parking Lot of a church that shall remain unnamed

I’m in my car on my son’s laptop (which I’m using without telling him because if he finds out he’ll accuse me of “messing up his settings.”) recording my findings from the parking lot.  So far, it’s been quiet. I’ve parked my nondescript mom mobile an equal distance from the church’s front door to my neighbor’s car. Oh yeah, some of you don’t know the back story and by some of you I mean those of you who don’t check the Snarky In the Suburbs page on Facebook. I don’t mean to scold, but you people are slowing down the whole Snarky train. Would it be too much to ask that you open a FB account under an assumed name and address just so you can stay up-to-date? (I’m guessing that’s a no.) Okay, back to business. Here’s what occurred that forced me to go all Brenda Lee Johnson (love her) from The Closer in a church parking lot.

 Yesterday morning at approx. 8:47 a.m.

My Neighborhood 

I’m walking my two dogs, which is really akin to herding cats, through the neighborhood and I see my way down the street, bible bunko neighbor. (Whom I previously described on Facebook as about as fascinating as a bowl of Rice Chex, which upon further reflection is inaccurate. She’s more Cream of Wheat, original recipe. So not that yummy maple syrup and brown sugar variety.) She’s in her driveway with tears in her eyes, standing by her car, which has all four doors wide open. I stop, of course, to ask what’s wrong. While I’m asking this I’m mentally thinking she probably didn’t have time to put dinner in the crock pot or something equally boring that led to this episode of watery eyes. Although I’m hoping that it’s something juicy like she just found out her husband is a cross dressing swinger and wants to start borrowing her shoes and Spanx. What I got from her was even better, if you can believe that? I know I still can’t

Mrs. Cream of Wheat blurts out that she thinks a woman she works with at her church’s Mother’s Day Out program hid 6 dirty diapers in her car! When she went to get in her car this morning to go to, where else, but church, she was almost knocked to the ground by the overwhelming smell of festering feces. Cream of Wheat says she opened all her car doors, held her breath and then started digging around in her car for what was causing the odor. Shoved under the rear passenger seats she found not 1, not 2, but 6 poopy diapers.

I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. Who would terrorize this seemingly bland, very nice, mild-mannered 50-year-old woman by breaking into her car and depositing used diapers? I was intrigued and that left me no other alternative, but to offer her my investigative services. I mean, really, what else could one do? You just don’t hear a story like that and go, “Oh, wow, I’m sorry that happened. Why don’t you try using some Gain Febreze?”

No, this kind of story demands action. Anything else would just be un-neighborly and I’m nothing if not neighborly.

Cream of Wheat seems confused when I offer to help track down who is doing this to her. She asks me if I used to be in law enforcement. Sadly, I had to answer no. I so want to carry a gun and kick ass, but me (ch)armed and dangerous was never meant to be. (Total bummer on that one.) I do tell her I used be an investigative reporter and that’s no lie.

She seems scared of me. I’m used to this reaction but after years of having people slowly back away from me, I know how to talk them down and win them over. I finally convince her that she needs my help by pointing out that, perhaps, it was divine intervention that sent me to her. I really never head in this direction on my morning dog walk. I usually go another route. But, today, for some reason, I went towards her home just at the precise minute she was standing in her driveway in distress.

Praise the Lord, she agreed with that. So, I helped her freshen up her car, told her to not throw away the diapers, calling them evidence, and off she goes to bible study, but not before agreeing to meet with me this afternoon at 5.

Yesterday afternoon 5 p.m.

Cream of Wheat’s House

I suggested we meet at Cream of Wheat’s house. I knew if we held the meeting at my home my nosey, tattle-tale kids, would eavesdrop and be texting their dad my latest scheme. Like I need that kind of hassle. I showed up with one of my old reporter notebooks which look just like something I’m sure the F.B.I. would use. I had worked out my list of questions. This wasn’t my first rodeo people. One doesn’t grow up reading Encyclopedia Brown, Agatha Christie and DVR’ing every C.S.I., N.C.I.S.,  and all the Law & Order’s without having a serious set of interview skills.

I first asked if she had any idea who would be doing this to her? She seemed reluctant to answer. This is what happens when you are a very nice person. You don’t want to point the finger or think the worse of anyone. I can freely admit, I’ve never had that problem. Slowly, I coax it out of her the name of the woman who “seems to have an issue” with her at the M.D.O. Then I ask “How do you think she’s getting in your car?”

I had already looked for signs of forced entry or any trace evidence on Cream of Wheat’s car and hadn’t seen any. I also, with one of my son’s drumsticks, (sorry son) had gone through the poppy diapers. What I found was interesting. There was no one brand of diaper. Based on the cartoon character or color (1 denim diaper (really?), one camouflage (really? again) the diapers were 1 generic, 2 Pampers, 1 Luvs, and 2 Huggies.

I asked Cream if when the M.D.O. changed the toddlers diapers did they use church brought diapers or did each mom leave diapers for their child? She said when they had to change a toddler they used diapers bought by the M.D.O. program citing that is was easier than digging through all the different diaper bags. This proved that if the crime was happening at the M.D.O. it was after the collective diaper change. Cream said that after lunch each child got their diaper changed before nap time.

I had a couple more questions. “Is there anytime when you leave the toddler room for more than, say, 5 minutes?”

Cream volunteered that right after lunch she takes all the food trash to the church kitchen garbage cans. That’s when she also gets a soda from the vending machine and stops off at the four-year old room to say hi to her little niece. My next question was where does she leave her purse?  She told me that they all leave their purses in the room, in cubbies. Lastly, I asked who, if anyone, takes the dirty diapers, out of the room. From that I extrapolated a time line. Let me tell you, if I was tested on this kind of math and reasoning skills on the S.A.T. I wouldn’t be here writing this dumb ass blog. I’d be on the Harvard alumni website crowing about my newest scientific breakthrough.

Here’s how I think the diaper dump is going down: When Cream leaves the toddler room at the M.D.O. around noon someone in the room uses that opportunity to get Cream’s car keys out her purse. That person then volunteers to take the dirty diapers to the outside dumpster, but instead of the dumpster they go in the back-seat of Cream’s car. Then the Diaper Dumper rushes back inside, puts Cream’s keys back in her purse, and no one is the wiser. Why the person is doing this foul deed to Cream is not my first priority. The number one objective is to catch her in the act.

Clearly, I had to do a stake out. Based on my time line the Diaper Dumper would strike between 12 and 12:15 at Thursday’s M.D.O. I’d be in position in the church parking lot at 11:30 and I planned to record the dumper in action. I instructed Cream to say nothing about finding the gross diapers in her car. She was to act as if her car smelled fresh as a daisy. I wanted to provoke the dumper to strike again.

This morning – My House

You can not imagine how excited I am about the stake-out! I couldn’t help myself and had to share my big plan with my family. My husband, who you would think would be proud of me, walks out the door for work this morning, not with a “I love you” or even a “Good luck at your stake-out.”

No, this is what I get, “Don’t get yourself shot” and then he turns and says, “Or get us sued.”

I’m so tired of hearing that. Just because in the past some people, may or may not, have threatened legal action against me is no reason to leave the house every morning with that kind of goodbye. He really needs to let it go.

As for my kids I think they should be more impressed by me. I’m out there solving crimes – solo. Who else does that? Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. I had to tell both of them repeatedly to not bother me today with any phone calls or texts of the “I forgot my P.E. shoes, band instrument, books etc” variety because I would be working a stake-out. As I dropped each of them off at their respective schools I delighted in bellowing out the window, “Remember, I’ll be on a stake-out!”

Both of them just keep on walking and shaking their heads. Ingrates.

I rushed home, walked the dogs, unloaded the dishwasher, threw a load of laundry in the dryer and then prepared for my stake-out grooming. Really can you go wrong with black Target track pants (capri), a black t-shirt, a C.S.I. baseball hat I got from the Vegas airport 5 years ago, my husband’s lawn mowing sunglasses because they cover my face more and I think look a little bad ass, tennis shoes, plus a quick dab of my new gift with purchase Philosophy lip balm?

I loaded my supplies in the car that included my son’s computer, my phone, my 32 ounce diet coke and the notes from yesterday and headed to the church. It was on people. It was on!

My first problem was where to park. I didn’t want to park to close to my neighbor’s car because I thought that would scare the dumper away. But I wanted to be close enough to properly videotape the crime so there would be no doubt what was going on and who was doing it. I drove around and tried some spots and tested them with my phone video camera to see what angle would take the best picture and be the least conspicuous.  Then I waited. Well, first I posted on Facebook that the stake-out had begun and then I settled in to wait. Then I got bored and started typing all this up for you to read and now I’m done typing and have nothing to do besides as everyone on Facebook predicted – use the bathroom.

12:07 p.m. Uh, oh, I see a woman leaving the church with what looks a white kitchen size trash bag. Gotta go.

Later today

I’m now renaming this The Case of the Holy Crap Storm. I would have never volunteered my services if I had known I would have to endure a hostile Q & A by a member of the clergy. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s back up to 12:07 p.m.

There’s a woman walking in the direction of my neighbor’s car with a trash bag. She’s seems to be about my age and looks very attractive. Totally Mom of the Month material.  Jeans, what seems to be a J. Crew sweater set and from what I could tell some really darling flats. What in the name of God is this mom doing putting soiled diapers in a co-church member’s car (and as a side bar thought I’m thinking who wears an outfit that cute to work in the toddler room of a M.D.O. program)?

I’ve slouched down in my front seat and I’ve got my video camera on her. Sweet Jesus, I see her point the unlockey thing at the car. She’s in and I get her bending over and stuffing diapers not just behind the front seats, but she’s got the hatchback open and it looks like she’s got at least two in there. Then I freeze. What do I do now? I’ve got it on tape, well, really digital imaging, but do I just show it to my neighbor and be done with it? Do I get out of my car and say something? Do I perp walk her through the parking lot? Then I thought W.W.J.D.? What Would (Brenda Lee) Johnson Do?  The heroine of The Closer would get out of her surveillance vehicle and confront the “suspect.”

I slowly opened my car door, jumped out and yelled as I was walking towards her, “Why are you putting dirty diapers in a car that isn’t yours?”

She jerks her head out of the rear of the car and stares at me. That’s my cue to keep on talking. In an authoritative voice that I use when playing Clue I say, “I don’t know who are, but I know you must be a member of this church and work in the Mother’s Day Out program. I also know that this is at least the second time you’ve illegally entered this car and vandalized it.”

I added, “Did you know what you’re doing is against the law and qualifies as criminal mischief.” (Right about now friends, I was impressing myself – big time. This could be my calling – accosting strangers in parking lots.) She still just stood there, all deer in the headlights. I then quickly added, “Um are you okay?”

This is when I saw what the Diaper Dumper is made of. She looks at me, you can tell she’s sizing me up, and pulls a real bone head move. She accuses me of “trespassing on private church property”!!!

Let’s review shall we. I’ve got her on camera entering a car that isn’t hers and stuffing used diapers in it and she’s coming back at me that I’m on church property.  Well, now I’m Old Testament ticked off. I reply with my best “hey dumb ass” voice and say, “I’m not trespassing on church property if I’m parked here to go inside the church to show my neighbor the video of you vandalizing her car.”

This shuts her up for a moment. As I race walk into the church she’s in hot pursuit not pleading her case, not throwing herself on my mercy, but bitching to me that it’s illegal to tape someone without their permission. God, who is she – Nancy Grace?

Once I get into the church I stop. I’ve never been in this church before in my life. I don’t have the slightest idea where to find my neighbor. I thought I would hear kids or at the very least follow the tell-tale smells of M.D.O.- slobber, wet diaper and play-dough. But, I’ve got nothing. I notice that the Ladies room is right across the hall and I desperately needed to use it after that 32 ouncer. I figure it wouldn’t hurt to take potty break and catch my breath. I also notice that the Diaper Dumper has disappeared. I’m guessing she’s grabbed her purse and is leaving the premises. That guess was incorrect.

As soon as I exit the Ladies room Diaper Dumper and the M-i-n-i-s-t-e-r of the church are waiting for me. The reverend asks to see some identification! Yeah, right. I’m doing a citizen’s arrest in the parking lot and the first thing I think of is to grab my incredible Coach bag that I scored at an outlet mall for $50.00 during my vacation 2 months ago, that’s a big no on that one. All I had on me were my car keys in the pocket of my hoodie and my phone.

I told the minister that my neighbor in the toddler M.D.O. would vouch for me. He sends his secretary to retrieve her. About a minute later my neighbor is walking up the hall. She gives me a distressed look and I announce to no one and everyone that the lady standing across from me is the Diaper Dumper and I got her in action on my phone.

The pastor asks to see the evidence and I show him the recording of the Diaper Dumper. He watches, says nothing, goes back in his office to get his glasses and watches it again. Then calls his secretary out and they watch it together. I’m thinking, c’mon folks it’s not the Zapruder films.  It’s a pretty high quality recording with some excellent camera work of one of your M.D.O employees/church members going all crazy pants or crazy diapers, as the case maybe. He then asks my neighbor and the Diaper Dumper to go into his office while he talks to me.

Huh? Aren’t his hands full enough already?  Why does he need to talk to me?  Unless he’s going to thank me but somehow I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen. He begins to grill me on “my role in this.”

I know I’m in the house of the Lord and I know this man standing in front of me is allegedly a spiritual person ordained by God. But, I don’t think it says anywhere in the bible that I have to take crap off of him. I begin talking very slowly because at this point I’m doubting his intelligence and ability to process even the simplest monosyllabic words and explain that my poor neighbor, one of his flock, was being terrorized by one of his employees. I, as a citizen of Earth, felt duty bound to offer my assistance. I also pointed out that this was a case of criminal mischief and charges could be filed.

He was silent for a moment and then asked me to erase my recording. I said, “That’s a great big no.”

He then asked that I “not share this unfortunate incident with anyone.”

“Hmm,” I said. “That’s going to be a problem. I was on Facebook about it yesterday and I was giving status updates about my stake out when I was in my car in the church parking lot.”

He looked to be turning green. So, I added, “Here’s what you can do for me. You should be very nice to my neighbor. She loves this church and I respect that. You also must and as I mother I mean right now, get the Diaper Dumper off your staff and away from kids. She obviously has some mental health issues that need to be addressed. Who knows maybe it’s as simple as her cholesterol meds are messing with her Zoloft, but you have a moral and legal duty to get that figured out.”

His response to my very stern yet passionate Law & Order-ish speech was, “I’ll pray for you.”

You could tell from his tone he didn’t mean it in a very reverendly manner. It sounded more like a put down, like the ecclesiastic equivalent of “F You.” So, I quipped, “right back at ya” and added, “you should also pay to have my neighbor’s car detailed” and with that walked out of that church.

The fact that I didn’t get struck my lightning when exiting the building was a sign to me that the big guy/girl way upstairs had my back on this one.

Four hours later I go over to my neighbor’s. I’m relieved that Cream of Wheat greets me with a smile. I asked her what happened. The Diaper Dumper decided to take some “extended personal time” away from her M.D.O. duties and my friend was promoted to head of the Toddler Room.

I said, “that’s great and all, but did she ever give a reason for putting the diapers in your car?”

She quickly and succinctly responded, “She was jealous of me. Can you believe that?”

“Of course I can,” I say. “Your sane and she’s crazy.  She was jealous of your sanity.”

I keep on prodding and finally in bits and pieces a story comes about envy, misplaced rage, coveting and revenge.  A whole 10 Commandment/Golden Rule saga. Who knew a church Mother’s Day Out program could be such a hot bed of seething emotions?  It seems Cream of Wheat was becoming a raising star in the M.D.O. program. She started working in the toddler room right after Labor Day and the little kids loved her, all the moms thought she was wonderful and the director of M.D.O. told everyone who would listen that Cream of Wheat was “quite possible that best M.D.O. worker she had ever had.”

Apparently, Diaper Dumper, last year’s M.D.O. Queen Bee,  got jealous and was attempting to make Cream quit by freaking her out with the dirty diapers in her car. Got a headache yet? I know I do.

While you maybe thinking the moral of this story is to approach any Mother’s Day Out program with extreme caution or to beware of clergy that ask for I.D it’s not. Although, both of those are excellent ideas. The moral is I should really, seriously, consider opening up a detective agency. I think I rock at this – kind of.

P.S. I will never post the video so don’t ask. Remember my husband’s second commandment: Thou shalt not get us sued.

 

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends I have a new book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

Liars – All of Them!

1176265_10151814829998130_806107146_nLeave it to the first day of school to bring out the filthy liars in the motherhood community. I guess the scent of newly sharpened number two pencils, the aroma of brand new nylon Jansport backpacks and the essence of Johnson & Johnson Strawberry Sensation Detangling spray somehow manifests itself into a chemical cloud that permeates the nasal passages of all moms with school age children. The potent chemical combo must then travel to the brain cortex and trigger a nervous system response that manifests itself in grown, should know better females, telling great big whooping fibs for a 12 hour period.

We all know what the biggest back-to-school is fib is don’t we? It’s the mother of all fibs. It’s when we share to anyone who will listen, but most especially other moms that our guts are being ripped out, our souls are being shattered, we’re grieving, we are in the deepest, darkest pit of despair because school is starting and we’re bereft imagining a world in which we can not spend every waking hour with the magnificent beings that shoved their way of out of our loins.

Yeah, I get it. The first day of school is emotional. Every year is a milestone. Your kids are getting older. You’re getting older. You’re anxious and maybe a little worried because you want your children to have the most wonderful first day. I’m right there with you. What irritates me is the mompocrisy of women who use this day to over-share that they are “just dying inside” because they’ll miss their kids so much. It’s like a contest and the winner to Best Mom goes to whoever is wailing the most about school starting.

I admit I’m on the other side of that statement. Way on the other side. When my alarm goes off on the first day of school I spring out of bed and do, at the very least, a 60 second happy dance that is so exuberant it scares the dogs and causes the dining room chandelier to swing violently to and fro. I then skip to each child’s room and wake them up with this little song (loosely sung to the tune of Camp Town Races)

“Get up, Get up, Right Away cause Mommy’s happy school starts today.  

 Hurry, hurry and get dressed Lord knows I crave an empty nest.

 Don’t worry about me, be sure to sign up for loads of free extra curricular activities.”

After I see them off to their respective schools. I get back in my mercifully empty car, bow my head in silence and thank the gods of parenting that I made it through another summer with my sanity, somewhat, in tact. I then do a deep cleansing breath, roll down all my windows, crank up the NPR, scream “yahoo” while doing multiple air high fives, and toast the new school year by sacrificing a virgin Diet Coke.

Sadly, I have found over the years that I have to hide my joy or at the very least downplay it. It seems it is bad form to celebrate your liberation from your children. To do so makes one seem (gasp!) less than mother-of -the-year material. I started out this first day of school by being very well-behaved. Inside the privacy of my own home I didn’t conceal my back-to-school bliss. I figured my kids were used to it but I was respectful of their need for some summer closure.

I gave my son a moment alone with two besties – iPad and X-Box. He had a tearful farewell. I told him not to worry about leaving his “friends” unattended for 7 plus hours each day. I promised to go in and dust them every morning and to throw his video game controllers on the floor at least twice around lunchtime so they would still feel right at home. My daughter got choked up when she blew a kiss to the TV remote and thanked it for an amazing summer. I promised her I would light a candle in honor of the Disney Channel. With that done I loaded up and did the drop off and bye-bye.

So far, so good, until I attended a “Mom Coffee” comprised of moms from a wide swath of the neighborhood. Some I knew, others I had never seen before. Unfortunately the mom meet and greet sat me off from the get go. I tried, I swear I did. I smiled, I nodded, I made my “you are so right” parent face, but after 20 minutes I snapped.

I couldn’t take another mother blabbing and using a kleenex as her must have back-to-school accessory to emphasis how sad she was summer was over and her “little munchkins” wouldn’t be with her. Because here’s the deal – the mom doing the most award-winning interruption of “I love my kids more than you because I miss them already” was a total fake.  Her two kids when not enjoying back-to-back sessions of two-week sleep away summer camp or at their grandparents for an extended stay were at my house driving me crazy and I don’t even have children their age. Trust me, I think I saw her kids more than she did.

This is when I trumped the weepy moms fibs with a bigger, better one of my own. I told this group that it was really too bad they were so upset that school had begun because I had seen a recent study, somewhere, that had shown that moms who are the most sad about school starting are the ones that didn’t spend enough quality time in meaningful engagement with their children over the summer and thus their guilt manifests itself into a debilitating, chronic back-to-school remorse.

Oops!

Cue the crap storm. Moms got enraged! Kleenex were flung to the floor and women began to defend their summer schedules and suggest “how dare I question their parenting.”

“Goodness,” I said, (in my best Barney Fife married Miss Goodie Two Shoes voice), “calm down I didn’t write the study, I just saw it and to be perfectly honest I loved it. It validated my parenting philosophy because every year I’m thrilled when school starts.” (And now to toss some hand grenades into the crap storm I add this zinger.) “I’m glad to know it’s because according to scientific research I’m doing an incredible job as a parent.”

Oh-My-God I committed the cardinal Mom Sin I proclaimed that I was better than all these ticked off moms. Even worse, I credited science for the shout out. (So it was made up science, big deal and who’s to say someone out there isn’t really doing a study like that?) Every mom knows that you can’t just announce that you’re kicking butt in the Olympic sport of momdom.

You and a group of friends can boast amongst yourselves how superior you are to other moms but under no circumstances can you proclaim to the world-at-large that you’re a better mom than the mom or moms standing right in front in you. These weepy women, in no way, wanted someone like me to “out mom” them. In their world I wasn’t even a contender.  But, thanks to the Gift of Fib” I had yanked their chain, hard. Score! (Not that I thought I was a better mom. Maybe a mom whose head wasn’t up her ass, but better – well, who really knows?)

As I was enjoying their somewhat suppressed fury the “discussion” took a turn for the worse when one mom wanted to know where I saw the study. “I don’t remember,” I said thoughtfully. “It was some on-line science journal my husband reads.”

Good save, I’m thinking. People will believe my husband reads heavy-duty science stuff, but no one could see me devoting hours to bettering my brain with esoteric journals. To make it sound even more credible I added, “I’ll text him and try to find the link for you.”

One Rhodes scholar piped up, “Are you sure it wasn’t junk science?”

“No,” I quickly replied. “ It was an International Pediatric Educational thing.”

I knew it was time to make my get away before someone took me up on texting my husband for additional information. I thanked my hostess, grabbed another muffin (well really one-third of a muffin since they were of the mini variety) and then went back to the cluster of moms still debating the “study” and said goodbye. I told them I had to run.  I was so busy putting the finishing touches on my family’s “Our summer was so awesome were excited about school party.” 

“Yeah, it’s going to be an amazing evening,” I said.

“Where did you get the idea?” one mom asked like I was incapable of thinking up one of my own.

“Oh,” I get “The Gifted and Talented Mom magazine, don’t you? It’s part of the national G.T. curriculum. You should really check it out.”

(Note: I don’t have a child in G.T.) And with that I sashayed right out the door, really working it, like I thought I was something. In truth my family would be celebrating the first day of school with pizza and cupcakes and complaining, lots of complaining about the teachers that dared to give homework their first day back but really was that any of their business? I think not.

*****For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new Spring/Summer  Snarky line of clothing and accessories. Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.) Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

In Praise of the Unromantic Marriage

400x453xvalentines_day.jpg.pagespeed.ic.eIt05DBapNAs females we are all raised on the myth of romance. As we grew from girls into young woman we all went in search of the intangible feeling of excitement and ardor that romance promised. As a middle-aged married woman I here to sing the praises of the unromantic marriage.

Now, just because I believe romance is a transitory relationship affliction doesn’t mean I don’t believe in love. Love trumps romance. Although, I have found that many a marriage has been thrown into the divorce dumpster because one or both parties were seeking more romance in their lives. This is a mistake.

I’m here to tell you that some of the best and most durable marriages are built not on romance, but on something as dull as common sense. So, for all of you who are currently reading this and feeling very sorry for me while your spouse simultaneously feeds you grapes as he massages your feet with rose petals – don’t. Let me show you how unromance is the way to go as I myth bust 5 romantic gestures.

Grand Displays of Affection

Basically, a grand display of affection equals a cry for help. I’ll use my neighbors the “Sexy Showoffs” to illustrate this point.  This is a couple in search of a “Real Housewives” casting call. These two are all about the spotlight.

Every anniversary, every birthday the husband sends his wife on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood to find clues where to locate her present.  This means that almost every neighbor is caught up in the drama of the gift hunt. It starts about a week before the birthday and anniversary with the husband coming over to see if he can leave a hint at your house on such and such date and time for the scavenger hunt.

When we first moved here I said yes to both b’day and anniversary. (Now, I decline to participate in this one-act play without full actor equity wages.) The wife, in a costume, the husband has selected for her to wear, (Can you believe it?) that is in some way a tip about her “big” gift, comes frolicking (most often breathlessly) from door to door collecting clues in the form of little gifts and then ta-da finally locates her mega present. By this time a large portion of the neighborhood is following the wife to see what her grand and glorious husband has surprised her with this time.

Last year it was a car for her birthday and a cruise for their anniversary. Almost every female neighbor, after this shameless bid for attention, always sighs and comments on what a romantic husband Mr. Sexy Showoff is. I roll my eyes while my evil mind tries to figure out what kind of unique hell is going on inside their house to make a couple in their 40’s take to creating a spectacle of themselves twice a year.

For the love of God, the wife was wearing a grass skirt and a coconut bar when she went clue hopping for that cruise.  Let’s just say her coconut bra was not sufficiently adequate to cover her more than ample pair of ripe tropical fruits.  This old enough to know better mom was flashing the neighbors her nipples the whole time. Oh and did I mention this took place in February. Truly, a nip out.

Romantic? No. A couple in need of counseling? Yes and just maybe forcing your wife outside in winter in a fruit bra and grass skirt constitutes some form of spousal abuse.  I’m thinking at the very least pain and suffering.

Besides it in no way can compete with the birthday and anniversary celebrations of the unromantic couple.  How can a cruise or a car even begin to rival, say, the gift of a new roof? What’s more romantic than protecting your family. In fact, a new roof is the gift that keeps on giving and it’s so special that it qualifies as not only a birthday gift, but Merry Christmas and Happy Anniversary all rolled into one.

Who hasn’t gotten their heart racing and all a tingle from what I call the trio present. I know when my husband tells me that the new plumbing costs so much that it’s going to be both of ours birthdaychristmasversary gifts I feel so special and blessed. Every time I flush the toilet I imagine I can hear it say, “I love you.”

Date Night

Whoever thought of this needs to be immersed in movie theatre “butter,” rolled in Milk Duds and then used as a swiffer to clean the theater’s floors. What a crock! Like a mom’s to do list isn’t long enough now we have to add date night to it. That’s all I need is the added pressure of finding a babysitter for a Friday or Saturday night. (Okay so my son is old enough to watch his little sister, but hey I remember the thrill of the hunt in finding a sitter all of your kids liked and that didn’t cost as much as getting my hair highlighted.)

Now add in the effort and time of getting myself all gussied up. Factor in the expense of a dinner and movie and the stupidity of making charming “non kid or work related” small talk with my husband. Eww.

Here’s what I’m interested in – Alone Night. The husband takes the kids to the movies. I get to go upstairs, get in my p.j.’s, get in bed, pour myself a little vodka and eat Reece Peanut Butter Cups while watching a chick flick. That’s romance. Why? Because your husband took one for the team by taking the kids and leaving you blissfully alone in a quiet house.  Now, you maybe saying how can being alone be romantic? But, you see I’m not alone I have vodka and chocolate so technically speaking I guess you could call it a three-way.

The Hands On Honey

Everyone repeat after me: Just because a couple is all touchy feeling does not a good marriage make. I have known many a marriage plagued by obsessive P.D.A. I’ll even admit to being a little jealous of one couple where the husband was besotted with his wife. His hands were always all over her. Patting, rubbing, nuzzling. It was as if he was looking for buried treasure. If my husband was handling me that much in public I would think he had, a) temporarily lost his vision and was working on honing his other 4 senses or b) he was patting me down in an attempt to find his phone.

This “in love” couple eventually divorced. It came out that the husband was a sex addict and had an extensive porn collection that would make Hugh Hefner blush. I asked the now ex-wife about all the lovey dovey displays and she said it would have been great if it had just been with her, but unfortunately his tactile skills were shared with the female community at large.

In an unromantic marriage you never need to worry about your husband trying to get to 2nd base at your Supper Club. He knows that if he thinks about reaching across the back of your dining room chair to massage your back fat in public you’ll step on his foot and make him help with the after party clean up. The tactile expression any unromantic wife really cherishes is a man’s ability to fondle a dishwasher. Psst, for all your romantics out there that means unload and load a dishwasher.

The Married Forever Club

Just because a couple has been married a long time doesn’t impress me nor do I necessarily find it romantic. Who doesn’t know the couple married for 30 year where maybe 3 years were happy ones. Congratulations on not having the balls to get a divorce. I don’t think you’re a quitter if you get a divorce. In a lot of cases I think it takes guts to give up on a marriage. You’re walking away from a life you thought you wanted and going out into the unknown. That’s takes a certain degree of courage which I feel is immensely braver than parading your coupledom around like your living the romance for the ages when in reality your marriage is a crapfest. At my wedding, many years ago, one of my mother’s friend came up to me and said, “I wish you as much happiness in your marriage as mine has brought me.”

I, being 23 years old, thought it was very sweet. My mother heard it got livid. I was like, “What’s the big deal Mom?”  Well, my mother said I had just been cursed. Her friend’s husband was a cheating, horny mess. I was shocked.  The couple sashayed through town like they were a very mature Romeo and Juliet. Which goes to prove my long-standing theory that the more ostentatious the marital affection the more I suspect a love fraud.

Were Lovers Not Roommates

That’s like saying you only wear sexy nightgowns or twizzler thongs to bed. When in fact you know you wear a t-shirt and granny panties most nights. There is nothing wrong with, on occasion, being roommates in a marriage. In fact, during certain times in a marriage being roommates is essential for your family’s survival.

Case in point when you bring that new baby home from the hospital you don’t need a Lance Romance you need a roommate. Someone to help you handle the exhaustion, the chores and the care-taking of the brand new human. When my kids were babies my most favorite sound wasn’t their cooing, but the clatter of the garage door opening every evening. It meant my husband was home from work. Yahoo, the Calvary had arrived and I could hand off the baby and take a shower, take a nap or just hide out for 30 minutes.

Now, imagine if during this critical time your marriage was lover based instead of roommate focused. Your husband would come home from work ready to sweep you off your feet, take you into bed for a frisky romp.  Yuck. That would mean you would have to get all pretty and by that I mean shave your legs or at the very least put on deodorant. Then you’d have to make sure your infant was asleep and not ready for another turn at the all you can eat boob buffet – good luck with that. And what woman after being sucked on all day by a newborn want’s to do it all over again with an adult who is very capable of taking care of himself, if you know what I mean.   believe that makes it, at least in this case, advantage roommate.

Let us all now have a moment to rejoice and take pride in the unromantic marriage. A marriage built not on roses and passionate declarations of affection but on the ability to withstand the aggravation of a toilet seat being perennially left up. That is a marriage built to stand the test of time.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂