Just WTH On The Bell Sleeve & Other Fashion Crimes

Retail sales in women’s fashion have been sluggish for a couple of years. Even the mom stalwarts like J. Crew, Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic have been seriously struggling and I know why. Don’t blame Internet commerce giant Amazon or outdated malls that no one wants to go to anymore. Instead retailers need to blame their clothes.

This isn’t me being grumpy because I can’t wear a “toothpick jean in chimney wash.” And by wear I mean the jean wouldn’t go above my mid calf and just in case you’re thinking what in the world is chimney wash. The best I can figure out is it’s fashion lingo for slacks made out of scraps of denim. (Yeah, I could have said pants, but in an homage to my mother I went with slacks.)

Lest you think my not exactly slender body is to blame please note that last year Banana Republic confirmed it made a blazer that women couldn’t fit their arms into. Yes, you read that correctly. They were selling an item of clothing that was unwearable unless you had arms the width of an American Girl doll. Surprise, surprise, the blazer and Banana Republic’s sales tanked.

This spring as I peruse the offerings at women’s clothing stores I’m mystified at a lot of the clothing designs especially the tops. My personal fashion nemesis is the bell sleeve.

Who in their right mind wants to wear a blouse in the summer with sleeves so huge they could do double duty as sails on a clipper ship? Are we landed gentry from the 1850’s with nary a thing to do except pass the time by sipping tea on the veranda while fanning ourselves with our huge sleeves?

I will concede that the bell sleeve with it’s extraneous fabric does come in handy for nose wiping, cleaning up spills (but alas so do Bounty paper towels) and drying your tears from the pain caused when the sleeve the size of a beach towel gets stuck in your car door.

Another fashion design that has me shaking my head are off the shoulder tops. They are everywhere this spring. From chambray to silk – you name it. It’s a shoulder-blade free for all. My issue with the off the shoulder top is multi faceted. 1) It’s being marketed as work attire. 2) The design of the top mandates you go bra free. 3) See number one. But, wait there’s more because 4) you can’t freaking move in the top.

Okay, correction you can move, but your upper body range of motion is limited as in good luck raising your arms. If you dare to throw caution to the wind and, I don’t know, wave hello to someone it’s brace for a wardrobe malfunction. To avoid that worst case scenario you spend most of your time in the top yanking on the elastic to ensure it doesn’t stray into the unmentionable zone.

Then there’s the Frankenstein of tops – the “cold shoulder.” (Literally that’s the design name.) Think off the shoulder with long bell sleeves that feature gaping holes, sorry cutouts, to reveal your upper arm. The blouse looks like Edward Scissorhands took a turn at designing. It would be more flattering to just stay in your pajamas.

Now, I know I’m no fashionista, but mark my words come July there will be oodles of clearance racks jammed with these blouses (and chimney washed toothpick jeans). Meanwhile, women’s clothing retailers will bemoan their lackluster sales when what they really need to be doing is thinking about designing clothes that don’t look like something a serving wench would wear after getting in a sword fight with two out of three musketeers.

The whole thing makes me want to take a bell sleeve and slap someone with it.

Dear Snarky – My Co-Worker Won’t Quit Singing

Dear Snarky,

 I’m about to lose my mind. I work with a woman who sings or hums constantly! If she’s sitting at her desk she’s humming. When she’s walking around she’s singing everything from show tunes to Taylor Swift. It seems to get worse when The Voice is airing because it’s as if she’s showing off or waiting for someone to tell her she has talent or something.

 I work for a large company and our office is basically a cubicle farm and I’m not the only one she’s driving crazy. It’s pretty much all anyone talks about and yes we have asked her to be quiet. Her reply was “a lot of people like my singing.” Don’t tell me to wear headphones because that’s not allowed.

What can we do to shut this woman up? I’m about to need anti-anxiety meds to deal with the situation.

 Signed, Stop Singing,

Dear Stop,

Yikes! That would also drive me crazy, like fingernails on a chalkboard crazy. Since you mentioned that you work for a large company I suggest visiting human resources ASAP, but go prepared. Keep a diary of your co-worker’s singing/humming for one week and to back it up I would record some of this woman’s greatest hits.

This way when you walk into human resources, with at least two other co-workers so you don’t look like a grump, corporate can’t assume you’re exaggerating or are just sensitive to sounds because you’ll have proof.  I don’t care if someone is Taylor Swift no one wants to hear anyone singing or humming on a constant loop. It’s beyond rude, smacks of zero home training and speaks to an abundant and needy ego.

 *If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.


Back in the day if you wanted your child to be a star chances are you had to pull a Jed Clampett and tell yourself “Californy is the place you ought to be.” (Sorry for that Beverly Hillbillies throwback.) Now, there’s another way to reach the masses with your kid’s talent without ever having to leave home – social media.

There are legions of parents out there who are ambitiously dedicated to making their children “instafamous.” This term is derived from the Instagram app and to be instafamous is to have hordes of followers on social media.

Usually an aspiring instafamous kid has a social media account “managed by their mother” and features lots, I mean like, thousands of photos of the child. When you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook you know when you see pictures of a kid that feature an otherworldly, soft focus glow from the use of the Mayfair filter (because studies show that photos using the Mayfair filter get the most likes) and seem most certainly photoshopped that this child is probably on the instafamous track.

(I’m now going on the record as saying that if you’re parent that believes the natural beauty of your child isn’t good enough so therefore you feel compelled to photoshop, blur and enhance the image of your four-year-old you have problems and need to immediately seek professional help.)

I admit to being bewildered by parents who shamelessly court followers for their children on social media. Is there an upside? I mean how is your darling cherub ever going to usurp a celebrity’s kids in likes and follows? And what’s the end game besides people thinking you’re crazy?

Yes, crazy because everyone knows that for the most part getting your kid instafamous is more about you and your ego issues than your eight-year-old giving a flip about whether or not the last photo you posted exceeded 1K in likes.

My daughter is a competitive dancer (think athlete + artist) and that world seems to breed mothers who are intent on gaining instafamous status for their child. For one thing it’s easy – you’ve got loads of impressive dance pics of your kid and there’s enough going on in the dance world from Dance Moms to So You Think You Can Dance Kids to buoy a parent’s hope that their child could be the next big thing. There’s also the lure of getting a dance apparel contract for your child, which seems to be predicted on social media followers and is step one in the “I Want My Kid To Be A Star” handbook.

What scares and confounds me is that these parents seem to be oblivious or choose to ignore the frightening fact that a lot of social media love comes from creeps. One dance studio in Kansas had a huge security concern after some zealous wanna be instafamous moms hustled their kids so much that “strange men” starting lurking outside the dance studio. And a young dancer “who made it” has mega fans like a prison inmate who has the child’s likeness tattooed on his face.

We live in a hyper vigilant society where we won’t let our kids play outside in their own yard or ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac without an adult present. People freak out and call the police when they see a child walking home from school alone. So, I’m perplexed how there can there be such a huge disconnect for some parents who wouldn’t let their kid run down the street to the neighbors but are actively wooing and inviting the worst of humanity into their child’s life via social media.

Is another Instagram follower worth it? You can’t Mayfair filter or photoshop the ugly out of that question.

Random Act of Jerkdom

You hear, it seems more than ever, that people have gotten downright mean. I don’t buy it. If you step away from the Internet and social media and actually interact with your fellow humans I think you’ll find, that for the most part, people are kind.

Even when my beloved father was in the throes of Alzheimer’s he still liked to be out and about. The man loved a quality errand run. When I would visit him in Texas we would go everywhere together. And although you could tell he was off, like seriously off, strangers couldn’t have been more compassionate. A simple jaunt to Target with him elevated my faith in humanity.

Recently, I told a group of people who were bellyaching about how hateful the world is that they were wrong because the world is not the comment section on Facebook. Specifically, the comment section of any political post. To prove my point I decided to spend a day recording the everyday friendliness that came my way.

My morning started off with my teenage daughter being really surly. So surly I was asking myself, “How soon is this child going to college?” With the answer being perhaps, “Not soon enough.”

But let’s throw that out because a teen’s mood swings are in no way indicative of the real world (Again, unless your real world is social media because the collective maturity level is probably 15.)

My morning turned to smiles when I got my morning Diet Coke and things were all sunshine and unicorns as I went to two meetings and then enjoyed the jovial camaraderie of the QuikTrip. When I got home my dogs, as always, were delighted to see me, and an outside jaunt with them was graced by some happy talk with the neighbors.

After I was done with work I ventured out to run an errand to the craft store to get some spring themed ribbon. I skipped through the 60 percent off Easter decor, shared cheerful chitchat with fellow customers and then proceeded to check out.

The twentysomething cashier greeted me and then began staring at my face. At first, I was worried that I had food in my teeth, but then she lowered her gaze and gave me the slow once over. Now, I’m really uncomfortable and having a flashback to going through sorority rush. Lord, no one had given me that long of a judgmental look since I went to the Pi Phi rush party in knee socks. (I still stand by my knee sock choice because the theme was preppy.)

After what seemed like hours she finally spoke and said, “Well, I’m guessing you qualify for our sixty plus discount.”

Oh no she didn’t!

She did not just age me up by almost a decade. I’m even wearing concealer and mascara. How is this possible? I was livid and sad (and still in the throes of my recovery from when some McDonald’s employees assumed I might need a “welfare check” when I didn’t show up at the drive thru for two weeks). I seriously wanted to punch this woman, but because I’m also thrifty. I muttered, “Um okay.”

So much for my friendly experiment. That was in the dumpster. Maybe the world does suck. I had no choice, but to haul ass to the Macy’s Lancôme counter.

Once there I told my story and like angels from the puffiest, prettiest, cloud, all the women (and one man from over at the Chanel booth) came and soothed me with gentle words of affirmation and hope and whispered advice disguised as a compliment that I might need an anti aging serum.

I left  feeling loved and uplifted and totally believing the Estee Lauder lady when she said that the craft store employee must have been “high or brain-damaged.”

See life is good and people are good, except for random acts of jerkdom (specifically craft store jerkdom). But that just makes us appreciate kindness and, wrinkle serum, even more.



Dear Snarky – My Future Sisters-In-Laws Want to Drop Out As Bridesmaids

Dear Snarky,

I’m getting married in four months and I’ve got two future sisters-in-laws that are threatening to drop out as bridesmaids and it’s all over my wedding dress.

A couple of months ago we did the big wedding dress shopping thing where you bring your entire wedding party to try on gowns. It was awful. For one thing I don’t like to shop and I didn’t like the idea of buying a dress based more on other people opinions than my own. Also, I have a strict budget and didn’t appreciate when almost everyone, except my mother, were suggesting dresses more than three times what I could afford. I ended up not buying a dress that day.

Last week, on my lunch hour, I ran into a chain bridal store and found a dress I loved that was marked down to half price! I’m thrilled. My problem is my soon to be sister-in-laws are furious that they got “ripped off from the dress shopping experience” and have mocked me that I got my dress on clearance. Now, they both have told me they don’t want to be in the wedding party because “I’m not doing it right.”

I don’t want to cause in-law problems before the marriage even starts. Do you have any advice how to diffuse this situation?

Signed, Bummed Out Bride

Dear Bummed Out,

Turn that frown upside down and do the happy dance because bouncing your two control freak, icky future sister-in-laws from your wedding party sounds fabulous.

Let me do a quick wedding primer for bridesmaids – get over yourself. The wedding is not about you. And the whole bringing everyone you’ve ever known including your pre-school soccer team with you to try on dresses is one of the worst ideas ever. I know that’s what happens on TV shows, but sane, non-reality television people usually don’t bring a posse to a bridal store.

As for your soon to be sister-in-laws I would call their bluff. Instead of begging them to be in your wedding graciously tell them you totally understand if they no longer want to be bridesmaids due to your differing opinions on wedding planning and leave it at that. Then count to 10 and watch these attention seeking losers back track their way to bridesmaids status. 

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.








Bear Aware

So it appears every vacation I take must be fraught with peril. Peril in the form of large mammal danger. Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago I shared my near death experience with a gray whale.  Now I can add surviving a black bear to that list.

Let’s start with a big ole WTH on bears in March? Shouldn’t they still be hibernating? The answer is no, because apparently hibernation is a myth.

That’s right, we were all sold a great big pack of lies in elementary school. According to the Lake Tahoe, California branch of the U.S. Forest Service bears don’t go stuff themselves silly in the fall and then pass out until the sun shiny days of spring beckon. Instead they take “long naps and wake up for an occasional snack and stroll.” Good Lord, they make it sound as innocuous as a teenager during the weekend.

All this is why when my family and I checked into our Lake Tahoe accommodations we were greeted with a sign that began with “Due to recent bear break-ins…” Say what? I immediately checked in with the caretaker and she shared that there wasn’t “a lot to worry” about because the bears were being “very polite.”

In fact, she added, “Just the other day a bear opened my kitchen window, got an ox tail out my freezer, unwrapped it, not making a mess at all, and then left through the front door. I think the bear may have even gotten into my recliner because when I got home I noticed the seat seemed a little greasy and after that I could never find my TV clicker.

Holy hell.

There’s so much to process from that statement. First, bear. Second, oxtail (gag). Third, the visual image of a bear in a Lazy Boy kicking back and eating a frozen snack while possibly watching ESPN. And lastly, B-E-A-R!

Getting up close and personal with a 500 plus pound bear comes in at number eight on my top ten list of things that freak me out. Snakes, sinkholes, crocodiles and alligators comprise my top four which is why I never ever go to Florida. All you Florida spring breakers out there watch your back because Florida is the only place in the world where both crocs and gators coexist and a sinkhole is the state symbol.

Of course, I wanted to change accommodations ASAP, but alas I was told the bears are everywhere. My family tried to calm me down by making fun of me and shouting, “bear” every few minutes because they’re nice like that. (Jerks.) I decided I had no choice but to be “bear aware” and suck it up.

All was well until I found myself alone in the wilderness, on top of a snow-covered mountain with only the swirling winds and a smattering of Jeffrey pine trees to keep my company. I had gone with the rest of my family to go skiing and, as so often happens, after a few runs I was dumped.

Here’s the deal. I believe in skiing very cautiously because I don’t want to risk an injury that would require me asking my husband or kids to help get me on and off the toilet for six months.

Can you even imagine?

This all lead to me being solo on a mountain with a bear. I only saw a brownish image moving quickly, but that’s all it took for me to be peed my ski pants scared as I tried to remember if the bear protocol was play dead or flee for your life. I quickly went with fleeing.

I skied like I’ve never skied before. (Winter Olympics 2018 I’m coming for you.) When I finally got to an area with other humans (i.e. more bear lunch options) I allowed myself to look back and there was nothing. Did I even see a bear or was it an extra-large pine cone flapping in the wind?

Whatever, in the version of this story to my family, it will always and forever more be a bear, a really big bear.




There are a lot of things in life that baffle me. Some of these things are big issues like how anyone can deny climate change and then there are the small, niggling, things that get stuck in my brain like the Stanley Steemer commercial. (Really, you’ve never found yourself singling 1-800-Steemer?)

For instance, have you ever wondered why competitive cheerleaders wear such huge bows? Bows, in some cases, as large as a cranium of a T-Rex. Is it a salute to Texas (the birthplace of awesome cheerleaders) and the whole the bigger the hair the closer to God thing? Because if that’s it those gigantic bows are certainly boot scooting cheerleaders in the vicinity of the celestial byways. Or maybe it’s an aerodynamic thing and the bows act as mini wings to increase the cheerleaders lift coefficient.

Then there’s the unsolved mystery of the trend of TV anchors and reporters wearing sleeveless dresses when it’s 16 degrees out. This boggles the mind. They’re in a studio, usually sitting next to the meteorologist with all sorts of weather seals of approval and they’ve probably heard the forecast, at least, 10 times in the past hour, and yet they don’t it’s below freezing out. The very worst is when a meteorologist is sleeve free and standing by the weather map warning everyone that the wind chill is minus 2. Hello, are you not listening to your own forecast? Please go grab a sweater. You’ve got goose bumps.

The baffler of all bafflers in my life is, hands down, why is it that every single line I’m in automatically gets slower? Not sort of slow, but s-l-o-w as in sloth like, as in all forward momentum decreases to zero.

At the airport, even with TSA pre-check, even if there’s only one other person in line, as soon as I take my place, I can guarantee you the line will cease to move again for at least ten minutes.

It’s so bad my family will not get in the same line with me. Yes, they would rather forgo pre-check and stand in a line that’s serpentining down the airport corridor than get behind me. I can’t blame them.

Last month at KCI, when I was the second person in line, one away from the sweet, sweet freedom of being cleared to move onward to dumping my belongings on the conveyor belt, the human in front of me, of course, had an issue requiring a gaggle of TSA agents and I think the airport police. By the time I was allowed to move forward 20 minutes had gone by. By the time I finally cleared security my family, who had very smartly gotten in another line that was me free, was already sitting gate adjacent with fresh Starbucks that they sipped while smirking at me.

This line thing even applies to driving. Whatever lane I change into you can bet there will be a red light or some sort of snafu that makes it the slowest on the road. And if you’re ever behind me at a drive thru prepare yourself for a historic wait to get that Egg McMuffin.

It’s gotten so bad I actually have started apologizing to anyone that is standing behind me in line. I feel it’s a public service issue and I need to share that thanks to me this line is going take forever. Sure, it may not look that way, but trust me it’s going to be awhile.

I’m really starting to think I’m cursed or worse, but infinitely more interesting, that I’m some sort of alien. Perhaps, my interplanetary DNA is causing a cosmic breakdown that’s resulting in me being line challenged. Hmm, something to really think about as I stand in line.




Dear Snarky – A Lemonade Stand is Pissing Me Off

Dear Snarky,

My entire cul-de-sac now hates our neighbor’s kids. Since the beginning of the month every single warm day the kids set up a lemonade stand and harass anyone walking, biking or even driving a car by their stand. The kids are also so loud they sound like carnival barkers. I’m in my house with all the doors and windows closed and I can still hear them shouting non stop – “Buy our lemonade! You better buy our lemonade!” (P.S. The lemonade is $1.00 for a Dixie Cup sized sip.)

To make matters worse if you don’t stop and buy lemonade the mom, if she’s outside, will heckle you. Last week, she yelled at me with “What’s wrong with you? Who doesn’t buy lemonade from kids? You just said to no to kids. Unbelievable!”

These kids are homeschooled so they’re always outside even at 11 a.m. on a weekday. It’s like you can’t escape them.

Signed, I Want My Quiet Neighborhood Back.

Dear Quiet,

A person who believes in the goodness of mankind would tell you to have a friendly conversation with this mom and gently ask if the lemonade hawking could be scaled back and perhaps sold at a lower volume.

But because I’m already inclined to believe that this mom is a jerk. I mean, come on, who audibly shames people for not buying her kids’ lemonade, I’m going to suggest a more hard-core option.

I checked with the local police and there’s not much they can do, but they did offer up a back door solution. Call City Hall and talk to their Code Enforcement officer. Your neighbor is quite possibly violating city code in terms of soliciting. It seems a perennial lemonade stand is frowned upon in most suburban neighborhoods.

This solution keeps you out of it in terms of any direct neighbor finger-pointing and it serves as a heads up to the lemonade gang that they’re overstepping the bounds of cute kids selling fruity drinks and entering the harassment zone.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or PM on my Snarky FB page.






Ode to a QuikTrip

I’ve been battling change for several weeks. I know I shouldn’t fight it. The change I’m warring with is, after all, a done deal. But, I’m still a bit angry and I feel adrift. You can’t take something that has a been a part of your life for years and then when it’s yanked from you all of sudden just get over it or shake it off.

This is why I’m asking everyone to keep me in their thoughts for the next four months as I go through a painful period of adjusting to a profound transition in my life. A door has closed and although I know, for sure, another one is going to reopen this summer, I’m still in mourning because my all time favorite QuikTrip has been gutted.

It’s not like I hadn’t heard the rumors for months. I had even noticed that a mini strip mall was being vacated and one day a muffler shop that was nestled next to the QT just vanished. But I had hoped and on an altar of one hundred Big Q cups I prayed my QT would be spared.

Mournfully, those prayers were not answered and now my QuikTrip is a hole in the ground. It will most certainly rise like a phoenix into what I’m told will be a “next generation” store, but until then I will remain bereft.

This QT has been a part of my life for seven years because for seven years I’ve had at least one child in high school and every single afternoon I would cruise the H.S. adjacent QuikTrip store #240 for a Diet Coke, with the slightest splash of cherry, as my pre-kid pick up picker upper

I’m getting emotional, veering into seriously overwrought, just thinking about all the times that QT was there for me. It’s a challenge being a mother to adolescents. On some days I feel like chum in shark infested waters. You’re always bracing for the worst and after school pick up is prime time for what I call the “mood swing spectacular.”

You never know what child will be getting in your car. Will it be the “super happy I just got an A on a test” sweetie? Or the “I hate the world” child? Or worse, the “I’m going to blame my crappy day on my mom” kid.

I don’t think I could have made it through these seven years without my 42-ounce Big Q. When things would really go off the rails I would take repeated sips on my Diet Coke and practice the Zen meditations of Buddhist monks or my interpretation of Zen meditations, which is to use my Diet Coke drinking as a break between extreme eye rolling.

My son, who is now almost done with college, credits the QT with saving my sanity. I agree because (cough, cough, unlike my children) it was always there for me. My daughter even knows that if I pick her up from school and there’s not a QT drink in my cup holder than she better not even think about dumping her bad mojo on me.

It’s almost like that QuikTrip store was my Yoda providing me with strength to fight the dark side. Believe me the force was strong at QT #240.

It’s not just that the QT aided me in my parenting. It also taught me so much about patience and assertiveness. The store only had eight gas pumps and a parade of cars always trying to fill up. Elevating the degree of difficulty – the pumps were literally a window squeegee away from the road, which jammed up cars like Legos in a toy box.

Getting gas required a hat trick of superior car maneuvering, stalking skills that would put a serial killer on Criminal Minds to shame and a killer instinct when it comes to playing the QT version of musical chairs.

I’ve been to Vegas and it has nothing on the talent and luck combo required to get gas at this QuikTrip. In fact, I’m going to declare that you haven’t really lived until you’ve outsmarted a landscape truck (with a trailer) to tag in on the next available pump. The thrill of victory was so very, very, sweet.

On that amazing afternoon I had exactly ten minutes to spare before I had to get my kids from school and the gas situation was out-of-control. Before I had even pulled into the QuikTrip I saw that it was madness by the pumps and that there looked to be at least a dozen cars waiting or circling for the next empty bay. I started profiling the cars gassing up in an attempt to predict who would be done first. You always want to pick a guy who seems to be in a hurry.

This means you’re usually looking for either a young dude who has probably five dollars in change and just wants to get his tank off empty or a man in really nice shoes. Mr. Nice Shoes always seems ticked off that he even has to stop for gas, like it’s beneath him to do time at a QT while inhaling the off gassing of Rooster Booster fumes. His main goal is to get out of there as fast as he can.

What you never want is to wait for a bay to open up for anyone with children because say hello to that person taking four kids inside the store for Icees and disappearing for at least 15 minutes. Bottom line anyone who leaves their car while it’s filling up should be considered MIA and assumed lost in the beverage section flummoxed by all the ice tea choices. (Psst, go with the peach you won’t be sorry.)

While I was profiling I hit a bull’s eye. I saw a man in what I’m guessing where Brooks Brother’s shoes not sold at DSW and he was holding the pump with what looked like a Windex wipe. Perfect. OCD issues and expensive foot wear equal he’s in a hurry to flee the confines of the QT. I started stalking him.

At first I circled and then right when I saw him reach into his pocket for what I assumed was a fresh wipe I knew he was done and pulled up alongside his car ready to initiate a backup move that should be included into the Driver’s Ed hall of fame for its sheer finesse and beauty. I thought my claim to the pump was pretty clear, but then a landscape truck dared to challenge me.

“On no you don’t Big Rig. This girl’s got this. Don’t mistake my KU Mom bumper sticker for wussiness. The pump is mine!” I muttered to myself.

The landscape truck then attempted to intimidate me with its sheer size. When that didn’t work the driver begin backing the truck up towards my car. So, that’s how he wanted to play this – a game of chicken.

Lucky for me that day I had nerves of steel. In the last 24 hours I had experienced a dog with projectile vomiting, a teenager with a lost phone, attended two events where I had to sit on gym bleachers, out ran a gaggle of women attempting to mom shame me into volunteering for yet another school fundraiser and I survived a three-hour HOA meeting. Nothing that truck was going to do would scare me.

The driver kept on backing up and then when our vehicles were about to kiss he stopped, gave me the angry bird and pulled away. I’m not going to lie it felt good, like eating a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies good, getting that gas pump. To me it was validation, QT style that I can handle what life throws at me.

Oh, QuikTrip #240 this is why I’ll miss you so. You were always there for me. I felt like that perhaps we were even soul mates. You, my friend, were the unleaded, $2.04 gas beneath my wings.


High School Confidential

If you want to know the inside story on any high school you need to talk to the person who’s got the deep intel and trust me it’s not the principal or the counselors. The person who can give you a dossier on almost every single student in the school including their current home life situation is the attendance clerk.

Consider this position akin to being a CIA undercover operative. The clerk is a school fixture and like a number 2 pencil often taken for granted. They see, hear and notice things that no one else in the school is privy too. All this imbues the person with super spy skills.

They also talk to the parents a lot. I know that in the seven years I’ve had multiple children attending high school that I’ve conversed with Rita, the attendance clerk, more than anyone else at the school combined. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without Rita. She’s so important to my family I’ve got her on speed dial. Rita is my high school touchstone and perhaps part therapist.

A couple of weeks ago, in a seven-day time frame, my 16-year old was diagnosed with a sinus infection, strep throat, had her foot x-rayed because I was sure it was broken, had some weird tooth thing going on (It turn turns out is was iron buildup from Flintstone vitamins. Go figure?) and got a mild concussion. During that time I also couldn’t find my car keys (Can you blame me? I was highly stressed.)

Sweet Rita was there for me through it all.

When I had to get my child out of school early for the dentist she didn’t even flinch when I mentioned I was sure my daughter had a rare tooth fungus that due to extreme googling I discovered was usually only seen deep in the Amazon jungle. By the time I called her about the foot and head injuries I was certain she was going to notify CPS and have them do a home visit.

And then on that Friday morning when I had to do a mea culpa about my kid being tardy due to the fact that I, the grown up, couldn’t find my car keys she was so kind and understanding it was like getting a hug over the phone. Rita gets me.

It’s not just the absences and tardies that Rita is privy to. She also knows all about your kid’s schedule. If my daughter has to leave school a smidge early she knows it’s for a dance competition. (Fun fact: Rita danced  back in the day and I have no doubt she still has killer moves.)

This woman could write a black ops paper on my family. A who, what, when and where along with a psychological profile. If high schools want to know more about what’s going on with their students they need to have their attendance clerks give daily briefings.

If Rita gave one for my family this past month it would have gone like this. “I’m a little worried about this family and you might want to check Bella’s grades. The student has had a rough week of assorted illnesses, and I think the mom might have unnecessarily dragged her in for an x-ray. Not to mention there was a concussion and a tooth issue. Unrelated, but let’s keep on eye of this girl’s head and teeth. Also, I’m pretty sure this has created some stress issues at home. The mom called this morning about a tardy. She couldn’t find her car keys – again.”

If knowledge is power than every high school needs a Rita.