Would Your Neighbor Make the Cut to be on Your Zombie Apocalypse Team?

zombie-pie-chartI spend a lot of time walking my dogs. Mainly because they’re wonderful and what they want they get. And then there’s the fact that if I don’t walk them they get really annoying, not teenage daughter annoying, but close. Well, that’s not really a fair comparison because if my dogs could roll their eyes and do a hair flip then I think they could reach that lofty height.

The good news is I enjoy being outside with my canine sweeties. Most of the time I don’t even bring a phone. It’s just me, the dogs and my thoughts. Not surprising to most of you is that I don’t seem to have any deep thoughts. What I do seem to think about a lot is the world ending. Okay, that might just qualify as a deep thought.

If you’re now thinking “Good God woman you mention a zombie apocalypse at least once a month” all I have to say it you’re right and it’s my son’s fault.

A decade ago (back in his elementary school days) I went to a seminar on how to be a “good boy parent” and the speaker, a renowned child psychologist, insisted that to bond with your son you should play video games with him. All the games were post-apocalyptic and now years later I’m still pondering the topic.

For instance, as I walked my dogs last week in the snow/ice I thought who would I want to team up with in a post-apocalyptic world – the neighbor with a shoveled driveway or the one just guns their car out of the garage and drives over the snow. Think about it. It’s a tough call.

The neighbor who shoveled their driveway demonstrates discipline and certain obedience to societal expectations. The neighbor who just lets their car act as a battering ram through the snow shows an ability to take risks (because their car might get stuck or slide) and perhaps a need to defy authority.

The way I see it you would want both. The disciple of a snow shoveler and the thrill seeking of the non shoveler. I considered it a draw. So, as I continued walking my hounds (full disclosure one of my dogs is a beagle so it’s less of walk and more of me getting vigorously yanked from scent to scent) I thought I would use outdoor Christmas decorations still left up as a tiebreaker.

If a neighbor still has their holiday decor adorning their abode does it show a jolly, optimistic spirit or a total slackneress? I couldn’t decide. So, I had to refine the parameters to include a decoration degree of difficulty.

Deflated inflatables laying like nylon corpses in the yard = no go on being on my end of the world team. Seriously, how hard is it to drag an inflatable out of your front yard? Those neighbors are riding solo on the Armageddon train.

Now, intricate light displays that could have taken days to put up shows dexterity and even some dare-devil qualities. Not everyone is comfortable climbing a ladder and straddling a house gutter while holding light clips in their mouths. Three things that I think you could need if the world was ending or there were zombies. (It always goes back to zombies doesn’t it?)

When I was done walking my dogs I was feeling very accomplished. I had, in a little under an hour, mapped out my neighborhood end of the world survival squad. The only issue is how do you tell your neighbor they’ve made the cut to your team? Email, Post it Note, announcement on the HOA Facebook page?

Hmm, maybe it’s best to keep it to myself because, yikes, what if someone declined to be on my team? That would hurt wouldn’t it? Your neighbor RSVP’ing a “no thanks” to your post apocalyptic posse invite.

I guess that’s something new for me to ponder on my next dog walk.


Leaf Me Alone

maxine311 Lame Excuses My Kids Give Me In An Attempt to Get Out of Raking/Mulching/Bagging Leaves

*A yard covered in a dense, three-foot pile of leaves is Mother Nature’s way of composting.

*Being forced to rake will ruin our young childhood memories when we thought leaves were fun. (i.e. The joy of jumping into piles of leaves with no consequence of then being told to rake and bag said leaves.)

*Leaf raking is giving into neighborhood peer pressure and didn’t you teach us not to follow the crowd.

*It makes the trees sad we’re carting off their buddies. After all they’ve been hanging out since Spring.

*Can’t we just wait for snow? It’s nature’s leaf smotherer.

*Leaf raking robs the yard of its individuality.

*It will make giving directions to our home easier.  “We’re the house on the left with the leaf carpet.”

*No one rakes the forest so why should we rake the yard?

*It’s not like we’re ever going to get “Yard of the Month” so seriously why do you care?

*Think of the leaves as a lawn blanket.

*If we rake we let the “Yard Bullies” win!


I Am Not a Crack Whore

Picture 9

Play-dates, as we all know, are a way of life. The lucky mom is the one with their kid at someone else’s house. Ahh – it’s a few more hours of precious freedom. When you move one of your first orders of business is getting your kids back on the play-date carousel because God forbid they actually entertain themselves while you unpack all the crap you told the movers to just “throw in the basement.”

In my tenure as a mother I figure my kids have probably had play-dates numbering in the, I don’t know, almost one thousand range. That makes me a play-date veteran but, nothing, I mean, nothing, prepared me for this play-date.

My daughter had invited a friend from her new school to come over and play. I got on the phone to talk to the mom and work out the logistics and that’s when my life entered what I like to call a “Modern Mothering” moment. The mother told me she didn’t feel comfortable with her daughter coming over to our house until she makes a “personalized visit.”

Now, to be fair, a part of me gets that – sort of – but, I had met this mother a couple of times up at school during different back-to-school volunteer “opportunities” and each of those time I was actually out of my Target sweats (or as my husband calls them – day pajamas, but that’s just because he’s jealous he can’t wear day pajama’s to work) with make up on so I’m thinking I didn’t look that scary. Point is, it wasn’t a cold call. I was, a bit taken aback, but hey whatever, come on over. We set up a time where she could “pay me a visit.”

The Visit

The house was basically clean and I had not one, but two scented candles, Glade linen breeze, burning to disguise the odor of dog and guinea pig. I would have used my special occasion Yankee Candles, but I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying too hard. I also, just for fun, placed a bible discreetly on the coffee table and by discreetly I mean it was on top on my In Style magazine, Diet Coke adjacent.

I even made chocolate mini muffins.  Okay, so they were from a 57 cent Jiffy mix from Walmart, but hey I made something. I then hide my husbands booze and pushed his big ole Costco super-sized boxed wine to the back of the fridge and slid the gallon of milk and two salad dressing bottles in front of it. And yes, I groomed. I upgraded to my “dress” sweats from Kohl’s. I was like “bring it on sister.”

Well, she brought it.

My first hint that this was not going to go well was when she walked into my home with a face frozen into a smirk of perpetual superiority. I hadn’t seen someone look at me like that since I showed up in a khaki skirt with navy blue knee socks at a Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority rush party. As any good hostess would do I offered her something to eat. Perhaps some tea with one of my “homemade” mini muffins.

No can do, the muffins have trans fat and the tea caffeine. Her family is a proponent of the “clean diet.”  Since there is nothing in my house that doesn’t contain a trans fat and my fruit is non organic ( I think) I offer her a glass of water. Oops – my water straight from the tap and non filtered is also declined.

We then move on to the interview portion of the visit. “Do I have firearms in my house?”

I try to make a joke that the only guns in the house are my biceps, which I thought was hilarious because my arms are so flabby the under fat swings to and fro during any kind of breeze. She didn’t even get it.

This becomes awkward because as I’m trying, perhaps too hard,  to make her get the joke by swaying my arm fat in her face she throws out another question. “Have you or your husband ever been arrested and/or convicted of a felony?”

“Pardon me?”

“Do we keep liquor in the home?”

” For sure, lots of it, but only for medicinal purposes.”

Now I am starting to get ticked off. It’s one thing to question me about fire arms and felonies, but you start hurling judgement on my husband’s booze stash and you’ve crossed a line. I wanted to stand and shout, “Hey lady, I am not a crack whore!”

Poor naive me I thought she was just coming over for a little lookie loo chit-chat to confirm that yes, her family is far superior to mine. I could have saved her the visit and shared that information over the phone. I do not have to be subjected to a duel visit from Child Protective Services and the Parole Board. Now, I have to get her out my house.

How? What will remove her from the premises, but not contribute to the after school pick up lane mom gossip?  Hmm, I could take the high road, but, should I? I’ve been insulted. She didn’t even try a muffin. Don’t I deserve a little retribution? Just a little bit of fun would be okay wouldn’t it? I hear the continuous loop in my head of my husband wailing, “Please don’t embarrass the family.” (Like that ship hasn’t sailed.)  But, aspersions were cast on his liquor wouldn’t he want me to defend his love of alcoholic spirits? Oh, he would. Definitely.

I drop this bomb into her interrogation disguised as chit-chat. “You know we lived in Nevada for four years and they have slot machines in the grocery store and prostitution is legal – even dudes being prostitutes just got legalized which I say is about time because hey, we ladies have a right to a little pay and lay, I mean play, if you know what I mean.”

1, 2, 3 seconds is all took to get her to start gagging and coughing, then she grabbed her Prada purse, hauled butt out of my front door and backed her vintage Mercedes down my driveway so fast she drove in my grass. I walked into my kitchen, stuffed about 6 mini muffins into my mouth, chugged my non-organic milk straight from the carton and thought oh yeah I rock.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion 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! 🙂

Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Dumb Ass – Part 2

By the time I had pulled into my garage my kids had been fully briefed on what their responsibilities were. Time was of the essence. People would be arriving in minutes.  I was on wine detail which meant taking my Franzi boxed white wine and siphoning it off into a carafe. (Classy, I know.)

My daughter was to get into a swimsuit pronto, head to the backyard and start turning on the hoses.  My son was instructed to break out the trebuchet. That command got him interested. “My trebuchet”, he said excitedly. “We still have the trebuchet!  I wonder if it works? Where is it?”

“I dug it out of the deepest corner of the basement and it looks to be in pretty decent shape.  I wheeled it out into the yard.  Go make sure it can still catapult,”

A trebuchet, in it’s simplest terms, is a geeky boy’s best friend when his parents just say no to an air gun. It’s loosely related to a catapult and was used in the Middle Ages to fling projectiles over enemy fortifications.  My son had built a mini-trebuchet in seventh grade using a radio flyer wagon, scrap wood and my gently used Spanx. His trebuchet had amazing accuracy in flinging water balloons and seemed to me to be just the thing for a successful Water Carnival.

As soon as I got the Frenzi into a carafe party helped arrived.  My friends Kelly, Nikki and ABC all walked in with screaming kids that immediately descended into the backyard. (For detailed friend descriptions please read My Friends and really let’s try to keep up on the Snarky.)  I told not yet 30 and gorgeous Nikki, “You’re on kid patrol and I think you know why?”

“I’m guessing it’s because I have the youngest kids,” she said.

“No,” it’s because you walked into my kitchen wearing cut offs and a bikini top.  You’re being punished for being young and beautiful with no visible sign of cellulite or spider veins.

Nikki laughed and said, “Should I wrap a beach towel around myself to make you feel better?”

“No, I’m afraid the damage is already done. My self-esteem will now require a Franzi I.V.”

“And I know how much you’ll hate that,” she said and still laughing walked outside and started running through the Dora the Explorer sprinkler with her two kids.

Kelly looked at me and said,  “I better not get “Annoying Mom” hostess duty again. I always get that.”

I gave Kelly a guilty look and then launched into a pep talk.  “It’s because you’re so good at it.  You can stand there and converse with those women without saying things like “Shut up, please just shut up?”  I can’t do that and we all know ABC sure as hell can’t. Really, you have a talent.  It would be rude of me not to let you use it.”

“Let me get this straight. You’re telling me I have a talent for chatting up obnoxious moms?”

“Yes, you’re a diplomat. An ambassador. An envoy bridging the gap between the awesome (I said pointing to the three of us left in the kitchen) and the icky.”

“Great,” she said with zero enthusiasm. “It looks like the icky are arriving so it’s off to the backyard for me.”

ABC then quickly volunteered to be the “wine hostess.”

“Just exactly does one do as a wine hostess?” I inquired.

“Easy, I keep the Franzi flowing.”

“How do you know it’s Franzi in the carafe?  It could be something fancy?”

“Seriously, I could smell the Franzi from your driveway?”

“My driveway says boxed wine?”

“No, your driveway says boxed wine with a coupon.”

I smiled and said, “You got that right!” and gave her a high-five.  ABC grabbed the  carafe.  I got the plastic wine glasses and the fruit tray and we both headed outside.

It took only about 20 minutes for the Water Carnival to be in full swing.  So many  things were in my favor for a successful event.  It was an unusually hot and humid day and it was way too early for any of the local pools to open so running around in the backyard was still considered not that “uncool” for the over age 9 set.  It was also a Monday.  The one day of the week my kids didn’t have any after school obligations and from the turn out it looked like a lot of families had similar schedules.

The sprinkler and hose back-splashed into Barbara Gray’s yard. Because my neighborhood has a golf course that runs through it fences are not allowed for any home that backs up to a fairway.  It you do have a fence it must be no taller than four feet and have spacing between the slates to “ensure a seamless neighborhood vista.”

What this means is that while I have a fence, (A white picket one.  Yes, the irony.) Barbara does not and my fence offers no protection from keeping water out of her yard.  To further ensure that her lawn would be a soaking mess I told all the boys under the age of 10 “under no circumstances” should they let water get in “that” yard.  The lady was “very mean and she would get super angry” if her yard got wet.  It was like rubbing a bull’s face in a red flag. Those boys made it their mission to flood Barbara’s yard.

As I stood watching the “moist” mayhem I was forced to play gracious hostess and converse with the three annoying moms I had invited Organica, Zillow and TBTT.  They were here because I had been blowing them off for almost year with one of those, “Yeah, we do really need to get our kids together soon” and they had children who were holy terrors that I knew they would deliver a huge water mess.

I had just broken out the Otter pops and was beginning to circulate them to the kids when “Organica” just couldn’t help herself and had to ask me if the Otter Pops were homemade.  I said, “Um no.”  She then questioned if they were naturally free of additives and part of the Rainforest Alliance Pact?” It took all the etiquette training my mother had forced upon me and that includes two years participating in Cotillion to not holler, “Are you shitting me?”

Instead I sweetly smiled at her and said, “Oh yes, these Otter Pops are made with amniotic fluid from free range wood nymphs that live in the fair trade enchanted forest and are sweetened with localvore pixie dust.”

You could see Organica trying to process what I had just said.  All the buzz phrases she longed to hear were there – free range, localvoire, fair trade. It took a couple of seconds before she said a bewildered, “Huh?”

“I’m just teasing you,” I said. “No worries, this brand of Otter Pops are from Whole Foods.”

She smiled and I smiled because the water, high fructose corn syrup and red dye #2 ice pops were from Costco.  But, I’ve learned when a mom questions me about food the simplest way to shut them up is to just say, “Whole Foods.”

Sidebar time – Sorry I know it slows the story down, but I feel I must take a moment to add in this rant.  Curse you Williams Sonoma for taking a simple thing of summer beauty like a box of popsicles that cost me all of $2.00 and ruining it with your $50 Zoku Quick Pop Maker.  It started last summer when every mom was talking about making her own gourmet, organic popsicles for her kids with her Zoku.  As in, “OMG, I just made the best beet juice and carrot Zoku pops ever.” Gag. Now it’s white trash to grab a 150 count bag of Otter Pops out of your fridge. Frozen ice has gone fancy.  Suburban popsicles are now homemade veggie juices sweetened with stevia. Way to go, Williams Sonoma. Thanks for killing another part of the innocence of summer.  Okay, I got that out of my system and I feel way better.  Now, back my story.

The next mom to irritate me was Zillow.  Zillow is a former realtor (brought down by the economic collapse and currently a co-founder of a Cupcakery) who goes around telling everyone what their home is currently worth.  She’s a soothsayer of doom because right now most people’s houses aren’t worth what they should be and really is it ever a good time to tell someone that they’re “this close” to being upside down on their mortgage?  Zillow greeted me with a, “You’ll never sell this house until you get some marble in that kitchen.”

“Good to know,” I said in a curt attempt to shut her up.

It didn’t work. She continued on with, “I don’t even know how you can cook in a kitchen without marble. It’s so 1980’s.”

“Gee Zillow, I’ve probably made thousands of meals in that kitchen without marble countertops. I guess I’m kicking it old school.”

“I’m just saying it’s a shame you can’t go more upscale.”

I thanked her for her concern and immediately walked back into my non-marble kitchen while texting my son who was in the backyard and instructed him to trebuchet the woman in the yellow top on the deck with at least two water balloons ASAP. I then took a great big sip of Franzia and counted to 10.  By the time I had gotten to nine I heard screams from Zillow.  The trebuchet had made a direct hit.

I laid low after that happened and busied myself with filling up more water balloons.  Unfortunately TBTT found me. The TBTT stands for “Too Busy Too Tinkle.” This woman’s goal is to be the busiest mom in the 48 contiguous United States. She validates her self-worth by being so incredibly, extraordinarily busy (in her own mind) that she has zero time to empty her bladder.

Every conversation I’ve ever had with her starts with some version, “Oh my God. I’m about to wet my pants. I’ve been so busy I haven’t gone to the bathroom since 6:15 this morning.”

I’ve called her out on this a few times. I mentioned how it’s not really a good thing not to answer nature’s call and even that it’s a tad awkward to start every conversation with an over share of your bodily functions.  he’s yet to take a hint. This afternoon she greeted me with, “Girl, where’s your bathroom I’ve got to pee like a racehorse. I’ve had four coffees, three meetings and no time to go potty.”

I directed her to my half bath and when she came out I began my version of “Word Problems They Didn’t Teach You in School.”  TBTT, I said, I just timed how longed you peed. It was exactly 46 seconds. The entire time you were in the bathroom comprised 1 minute and 36 seconds – that includes pants down and up, toilet flush and hand washing.  You mean to tell me that in the, I’m guessing 10 hours you’ve been up, you didn’t have 1 minute and 36 seconds to void your bladder?”

“Oh my God, you timed my pee?  That’s so gross.”

“No grosser then you telling me you have to pee like a racehorse. I’m just trying to help, to illustrate that you do, indeed, have time to use the bathroom.”

“I don’t expect someone like you to get it. I mean you’d have to be a really busy person to understand what it’s like to constantly be doing stuff all the time. It’s not just that I don’t have time to pee. It’s that I’m so busy I forget that I have to pee.”

I didn’t see myself winning this to pee or not to pee argument so I agreed with TBTT and said, “Yes, you’re right. I could never grasp being so devoid of time management skills that I couldn’t take a couple of minutes to go to the bathroom. “

She smiled at me and said, “I know, I know, I need to slow down, but it’s who I am. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

“Well,” I said, here’s hoping a bladder infection doesn’t kill you” and off I went to deliver the water balloons to the boys lined up at the trebuchet.

As you would expect of boys as soon as they saw me they attacked me with a water balloons.  I was soaking wet. So I took off my t-shirt and was styling in an outfit of jog bra, capri track pants and flip-flops.

I walked over to where Nikki, ABC and Kelly (who had escaped the trio of annoyance) were standing and surveyed my yard. I felt like Francis Scott Key observing the battle of Fort McHenry.  Over the ramparts I watched sprinklers gallantly streaming. There was the rockets wet glare as kids shot each other in the eye with super soakers and the mini trebuchet, courtesy of XL Spanx, was brilliantly delivering water balloons bursting in not just in the air, but Barbara Gray’s yard. It was a H2o dream come true.

Kids were slip n sliding, bathing in wheel barrows and plastic wading pools, blowing bubbles, and screaming – a lot. The only thing missing was Barbara Gray but just as a flock of clouds obscured the sun she emerged out on her back deck, took inventory of the chaos and give me a look, I fear, would have killed a weaker woman.

I looked right back at her, balled my hands into fists, raised them to my eyes and did the whole boo hoo thing. She just stood there and glared. I was loving it!  Until my husband pulled into the driveway. Crap, he was home way early.

My house has the garages on the side so when you pull into the driveway you can see right into a portion of the backyard.  I looked up and there he was sitting in his car staring at me and my what a pretty picture I make.

I’m soppy wet in a jog bra with my dimpled stomach, that hasn’t seen the sun since 1995, curling over the waistband of my Target capris.  My handsome husband gets out of his car, briefcase in one hand, keys in the other and continues to stare and then starts shaking his head. What choice did I have but to blow him a kiss.  He looks at me, kind of smiles and reaches up with his hand that’s holding the car keys and catches it.

This was a definitive moment in my 20 plus year marriage.  I don’t have one of those grand romantic marriages that Nicholas Sparks writes about. The closest I’ve had to a “Notebook” moment of making mad, passionate love in the rain was when my husband and I snuggled under a large Hefty trash bag during an angry thunderstorm at a University of Texas Football game. But, the one thing I knew at that moment, on this day, was that I was loved. Not even belly fat and job bra that had seen better days  scared this man and for a second that made me the luckiest woman in the world.

Too bad that moment lasted just a millisecond because Barbara had left her deck and was walking towards my house with an umbrella. She demanded the sprinklers be repositioned and all these “shenanigans” stopped.

I said, “No problem, the party is almost over. I told the boys over and over again to not get your yard wet. Please accept my sincere apologies,” and then  I offered her an Otter Pop.

She waved her hand at the Otter Pop like it was turd on a stick and squished her way through my very wet grass to her almost as wet backyard. Then right as she’s plopping herself in a chair on her deck the trebuchet launches three balloons. They hit her, not in the face, but right at her feet.  I see the balloons explode, the water splashing up and soaking her linen dress and then to make it even more perfect she curses. I answer back with an, “Oops, sorry!”

It was a good to be me right up until 10 o’clock the next morning when the shit hit the fan – literally.

More to come.

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 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.

For Part 2 click here: https://snarkyinthesuburbs.com/2012/04/24/partly-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-dumb-ass-part-3/

Suburban Warfare

1554530_689070367781504_515879481_nMy neighborhood on the surface looks friendly. Nice enough homes with kids riding bicycles on tree-lined streets, the occasional yapping of a dog and the sound of someone yelling “fore’ from the nearby golf course. But, a bully lurked on our cul-de-sac. We were plagued with the Cruella De Vil of neighbors.

I got my first taste of Cruella as soon as our moving van pulled up.  She “popped over” to say welcome to the neighborhood. There she was oozing faux friendliness and at the same time asking me if I could tell the driver of the moving van to relocate because she didn’t want to be looking out of her kitchen window at an 18 wheeler all day. I said I would see what I could do with a big cheerful “hey, I’m the new person on the block please like me smile” and then, of course, did nothing. As I got acclimated to our new neighborhood I heard tales of her bullying ways. Cruella didn’t look like your typical bully. She’s in her 50’s, petite with short hair sprinkled with gray and she dresses like a lady who golfs a lot at the country club. Cruella patrolled the neighborhood like she owned the place and the rest of us were lucky to be in her orbit.

I put up with her attitude – all of it. When she objected to how my son was mowing the grass I shrugged it off. Cruella wanted everyone in the neighborhood to mow their grass in a cross hatch pattern. “All the lawns must match,” she said to in a super chipper tone. I told her my family didn’t have the math or horticulture skills to figure out how to make that happen so we’d be taking a pass on being a part of the matching lawn brigade. She was consumed with her yard. It was perfect all right. But, it had enough chemicals on it to qualify as the epicenter of a cancer cluster.

When she objected to my Halloween decorations I just sucked it up and hoped she hop on her broom and ride, far, far, away.  Cruella said they were “gaudy and unseemly.”  That got her all excited so she went on a rant. My favorite quote from here was, “I don’t know how you celebrated Halloween in your former neighborhood, but here we try to keep excessive, well, I’m just going to have to say it, tacky out of our little piece of paradise.”

I even kept my mouth shut when she suggested to me how to place my trash cans on the curb.  It wasn’t until she started leaving sticky notes on my door objecting to the way I sorted my recycling that I got a little ticked off. I hate sticky notes. My husband doesn’t even leave me sticky notes so she sure wasn’t to get away with it. It wasn’t just one sticky note either.  She would leave multiple sticky notes.  One for each offense. So, I would wake up in the morning to a front door covered in her monogrammed stickies

Her primary recycling objection was that some cereal boxes were being put in the trash and not in the recycling container. She also mentioned that from the looks of my trash I could be doing a better job of feeding my family. “I’m seeing signs of entirely too much processed food.”  She scrawled on the sticky note adding, “That’s a death sentence.” Excuse me that my kids (and by my kids I mean me) like chocolate Lucky Charms. It really is magically delicious. She also questioned the nature of the magazines in our recycling bin.  With the sticky note “Really wouldn’t have figured your family for flaming liberals.” Let’s see Time, Southern Living, Wired, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, my secret shame, Us magazine, have us flagged as liberals – go figure.

I shared my little invasion of privacy story with some of my older neighbors and they began to spout tales of bullying and what I considered down right harassment.  These folks were my parent’s age. In fact, one man reminded me of my Dad and no one on my watch is going to get away messing with very, very senior citizens.

At first I started yanking her a chain just a teeny-weeny bit. If she wanted to go through my trash I was going to give her something to find. I went to a restaurant and talked them into giving me lots of empty whisky, vodka and scotch bottles. So many, that it filled a 60 gallon trash can, our wheelbarrow and our lawn fertilizer spreader. Then I bought, shall I say, a few “interesting” magazines including High Times, Cannabis Culture and N Magazine for “the discriminating nudist.” (All special ordered from Amazon.com so you can imagine what freaky mailing lists I’m now on.) I put those bad boys right on top of my paper recycling bin and fanned them out so you couldn’t miss them. Oh, she went into a tizzy alright. Cruella banged on by door and demanded that I ask for God’s forgiveness and wailed about my family bringing shame to the neighborhood.  I acted all confused and asked what she was talking about which just set her off more. Excellent.

Over the winter Cruella got more demanding. If you didn’t shovel snow from your driveway (crosshatching pattern preferred) she’d be all up in your face. Two of our older neighbors were surprised with bills from snow removal crews she had called because she was tired of waiting for them to shovel their driveway. Well, they happened be out-of-town visiting family over the holiday so of course they’re not shoveling their driveways. That was the moment when I realized what I had to do. I would the liberate the neighbors from this menace.  I would free the neighborhood. I’m a Texas girl after all and this lady needing a whole lot of Lone Star Justice raining down on her. I had a plan. A very good plan but I needed a team. This was going to be black ops all the way. Totally covert and if caught we would have to deny everything. I had two perfect operatives in mind. My children.

Sure, some people would think you shouldn’t pull your kids into a plan, that at the very least, is breaking some local code ordinances. But, this where I play the Super Hero card. Think of everything Batman and Robin did. The dynamic duo took the law into their own hands everyday. Robin is the “boy wonder” which means he still falls under “minor child” status. So, if it’s good enough for the Caped Crusader it’s surely good enough for me.

My first recruit was my son. Thirteen years old and with geek skills a plenty. This is the kid that for the first decade of his life my husband and I tried to find his “thing.” We tried sports from soccer to fencing (yes fencing), art, theatre, music. Nothing was a good match. Then when he was ten he hacked into our Bank of America account. We found out because he asked us, after seeing our meager bank balance, if we were poor.  We said no, why do you ask? That’s when he got his laptop and showed us how he got into our account and pointed to the balance.  My husband looked at me a little freaked out and I said, “Well, I guess he’s found his thing.”

Since that day we’ve established a three-way test he’s supposed to ask himself before he does anything on his computer. One: Is it legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia? Two: Will it in any way keep you out of a top-tier college? Three: Is it for good not evil? My son harbors a dream that he was adopted and is really Steve Jobs love child.  That fantasy started after someone (my sister) shared with him my less than stellar academic achievements. Long story short, my dad may have had to make a call to get me into college. Regardless of his disdain of my collegiate G.P.A. I knew I could get him to help me.  I sat him down over a chocolate chip cookies and tossed my geek bait right at him. “Hey, sweetie,” I asked, “How would you take out a satellite and not get caught?”

He perked right up. “Military grade, broadcast or communications?”

I laughed and said,”Just a plain old dish like the neighbors have.”

“Oh,” he sighed, sounding very disappointed.  “Well, the easiest way would be a magnetic accelerator cannon.”

Now, I’m thinking maybe the child really does need to spend much more time outside. I press on. “What is that? How does it work? How fast can you build it?” I ask.

He begins to not only explain, but to diagram out on paper how it would work. Way over my head and my pay grade I zone out. In layman’s terms he was going to take a bunch of fancy magnets, totally trick out a nerf gun and fire them into the satellite. The magnets would temporarily mess up the dish’s electromagnetic receiver field (whatever that means) but not irrevocably harm it. I explained to him my mission and he was all for it. I then gave him a code name: “My Retirement Fund” and said in tribute to Star Trek geeks everywhere, “Make it so Number One.”

Next up my daughter.  She would have the most dangerous part of the mission. I would be sending my almost 9-year-old into the enemy camp. This girl can act, turn on the charm, is a little sneaky and can do a cart-wheel. All qualities I needed. Plus, she liked dogs, which was a must for this assignment. She was in immediately. Her code name: Dr. Doolittle.

My husband would be kept in the dark about the rest of the family’s black ops. The most compelling reason is that he’s a super goodie two shoes. Mr. Moral Compass would have a conniption fit.  He was strictly on a need to know basis. I decided, as commander of the mission, he needed to know nothing. We practiced our mission roles for a couple of days, did surveillance, readied our supplies, and watched a couple of Mission Impossible movies to get pumped up. Then, on Super Bowl Sunday it was go time.

Cruella prided herself on throwing a huge Super Bowl party. Not just any Super Bowl, she explained to me, but an elegant “Super Bowl Soiree.” Yes, my family was invited. Shocking, I know. I think she wanted us there so she could show me how good, righteous Americans live. The soiree even had a dress code – Business Attire. Who wants to go to a Super Bowl in work clothes? Football needs to be watched in some kind of pant with either an elastic waist or at the very least a 30% lycra blend.

The word around the neighborhood was if you dared to skip her party she would unleash a year-long reign of holy terror on you. This is a Super Bowl party you would want to skip. It was alcohol free. Cruella was a teetotaler and no adult beverages were permitted inside her house. In addition, she embraced a vegetarian and gluten free lifestyle. It was football without brew, beef or chips. Now, that’s un-American. The only good thing about being in Casa Curella was that she had a T.V. so mammoth it probably affected the gravitational pull of the sun.  My mission was a two parter: Take that party down and take it over.

We had to begin our assignment under the cover of darkness. My husband, clueless to the devastation that lay ahead, went on over to Curella’s house solo. I had told him the kids and I would come over later, maybe for the second quarter. As soon as he left we synchronized our cell phones. It was now T – 30 minutes. First, we had to get Dr. Dolittle ready and into position. Cruella was the owner of a seriously deranged poodle “Ollie North.” It was one angry barking machine. In the poodles defense she fed Ollie North only vegan kibble. I’m sure the dog’s brain was wasting away from a severe protein deficiency.

The first part of Dr. Dolittle’s mission was to infiltrate the house, subdue the dog so it wouldn’t give away our position and then give us the “all clear” to take down the satellite dish. To ensure Dr. Dolittle’s success I spayed her head to toe in bacon flavored Pam. Brushed “Uncle Jebs Hickory Flavored Liquid Smoke” through her hair and stuffed the pockets of her hoodie with Snausages. I was afraid I had over done it. The kid smelled so good I wanted to put some honey mustard on her and slap her between two slices of bread. I wiped away my drool, pre loaded her cell phone with the code GTG (good to go) so all she had to do was hit send, gave her a final warning about what to do if the dog got overly crazed upon smelling her beefy goodness (tuck, drop and roll) and out the door she went.

My son and I were ready to get into position. We were dressed in black and just because I thought it looked cool, had those cell phone head sets on. He had sprayed his Nerf N-Strike Raider Rapid Fire CS 35 Blaster turned magnetic accelerator cannon black and we both had painted the magnets that were going to be fired into the satellite dish brown so if found they would look like harmless acorns. Our job was to get into position, wait for the all clear and then fire. The problem was getting into position. We had to climb a tree to be at the right height to hit the dish. I was there to carry the ladder (also painted black) and assist in hoisting up the cannon. We waited on the edge of our property. Nervous, but excited.  I whispered to my son, “Are you sure this is going to work?”

He, looked at me with disdain and whispered, “Mom, please don’t question my knowledge of accelerator ballistics when combined in tandem with magnetic fields.”

I’m guessing that was a huge geek put down. So, I shut up and waited for the text message that would send us on our way. Three minutes later we got what we’ve been waiting for. The letters GTG lit up my cell. We were mobile. Staying low to the ground we ran over to Cruella’s backyard. I set up the ladder and my son began to climb. I was right behind him with the cannon strapped over the back. My heart was racing. I checked for left arm pain to make sure it wasn’t the onset of a stroke or heart attack. Nope, just pure adrenaline. I could see the “soiree” going on though the windows at the back of Cruella’s house. For the love of Peter Graves, I hope no one sees us because it would be most difficult to explain what the hell we’re doing.

At last, “My Retirement Fund” got to the right branch and assumed a firing position. I handed him the cannon. Neighborhood Liberation was about to begin. He looked at me I gave him the signal, the University of Texas hook-em-horns sign. He aimed at the dish and released a torrent of magnets. Damn, I was proud of that boy. We waited, frozen in the tree to see if we had been successful in disabling the dish. I got my second text of the night – “bulls-eye.”

We attempted to stealthy climbed down from the tree but my son’s big foot stepped on my hand and there was moment of sheer horror when I thought the cannon was going airborne. I grabbed it. My middle-aged cat-like reflexes saved the day – meow. We were down. I strapped the cannon to my back, grabbed the ladder, covered up the indentations it made in the ground (I didn’t want any trace evidence left behind that could be pointed at us.  Thank you C.S.I.) and we flew to the safety of our house.

It was Dr. Doolittle’s turn to begin part two of her assignment. The party is now in an uproar. No f’ing TV signal! No Superbowl! Oh my! This is when my daughter makes her move. She says in a very loud voice.  “We could have the party at our house couldn’t we Daddy?  Mommy just bought something called a pony keg. She told me it’s almost eight gallons of beer! “

As predicted, those thirsty, brew starved folks circled my husband like moths to a flame. I knew by this time he would have figured out I was up to something, but I counted on his Achilles heel – exceptionally good manners to pull this off. Unable to say no and sound rude, he did as expected and led the party to our house. I was ready. Before we left to fire the cannon I had preheated the oven and succulent, greasy pigs-in-a-blanket were warming up. I also got out the hard liquor. I went top of the line. All the booze was Costco’s private label – Kirkland. I had to act surprised when my husband came in the door with what had to be 40 plus party guests. “What’s going on?”  I exclaimed. “Oh no, the TV went out at the party.  What a shame. Sure, everybody make yourself at home.  Why, yes I do have a pony keg in the garage.  Let me get some chips and dip out and whip together a smoked meat platter.”

It took all of five minutes for my house to be transformed into Superbowl party central. Things were hopping. Unfortunately, my husband was giving me the death glare as he got out cups for the pony keg. He came over and whispered in me ear, “Half bath now.”

Opps, this was not part of my plan for him to confront me during the party. I met him in the half bath and he closed the door and said, “What did you do now and why is our daughter greasy and reeking of cured pork?”

I stalled, my speciality. “Listen,” I said, “I have been out making memories our children will remember for a lifetime. And about what I did – it is very long, complex story and I don’t have time to get into all the details with a house filled to the brim with guests. Please, I need to get back out there. I’m the hostess.”

He did his signature sigh and opened the door. My mission wasn’t done yet. One more task had yet to be accomplished for the neighborhood liberation to be complete. As everybody is having a grand time stuffing their faces and draining the pony keg I walk in front of the TV during a station i.d. and shout.  “Wow, this has been so much fun.  My family really feels a part of the neighborhood. Why don’t we make my house the Superbowl party headquarters every year!”

Cheers erupted. I make eye contact with my kids and wink at them. They nod back and smile. Mission Accomplished. Party Take Down and Take Over a complete success. I head into my kitchen and there’s Cruella waiting. She walks over to me, gets uncomfortably close and rasps, “ I know somehow that you engineered this.”

I offer her pig-in-a-blanket and whisper back, “Don’t mess with Texas.”


*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! 🙂