Dear Snarky – Teacher Gift Drama

Dear Snarky,Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 10.12.57 AM

It’s time for the end of the year class gift for my son’s fourth grade teacher and the class mom is adamant about not buying the teacher a gift. This mom thinks she is Miss Manners and since the teacher has never acknowledged the birthday present, Christmas or teacher appreciation gifts that the kids gave her we should be quote “officially finished with gifts for this teacher.”

I agree that the fact that the teacher couldn’t even bother to send a mass thank you email to all the parents is kind of lame, but it just seems petty to me to not give her an end of the year present and I kind of think I need to cover my ass because what if my next kid gets this teacher. I don’t want to leave on a bad note. What do you think Snarky?

Signed, Conflicted

Dear Conflicted,

First, let me share that if the only problem you’ve had with this teacher is her lack of thank you note writing acumen than count your blessings. 

That said, there’s an easy fix for this problem. Instead of collecting money for a gift have each child write a thank you note to the teacher that shares what they liked best about her and the school year. Then take those notes, tie a big ribbon around them and present them to the teacher. The teacher will love reading them and bonus – nowhere in any etiquette book do you have to write a thank you note for receiving a thank you note. 

P.S. I also suggest that some of these moms get a life outside of their children’s elementary school. Yes, it’s gauche the teacher never did any kind of thank you for her gifts, but as I’ve said a million times your child’s K-12 journey is a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself and carefully pick your battles.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice with an attitude”;). Email 

Can You Still Be Considered A Southerner If You Hate Grits?

Southern-Style-Grits-e017b085-1When your grandmother is the “Grits Queen” not liking “Southern Porridge isn’t an option.

As a Texas girl with a southern mama and grandmother, I was raised with a keen and enthusiastic appreciation of brunch, although we called it Sunday dinner. It was the meal you ate at noon right after you got back from church. In its purest form, it was a salute to carbohydrates. Nothing was safe from being battered or deep-fried. Even bacon got coated in a mix of brown sugar, eggs and flour and then was plunged into a pool of hot, bubbling Crisco.

The final flourish was rolling the bacon, which now resembled a hybrid of chicken tender and fritter, in cinnamon sugar and then dipping it in honey. I’m surprised no one had a cardiac episode at the table while they were eating. But then again, it was the late 70s and my grandpa’s preferred dining style was a forkful of food and then a drag on a Lucky Strike cigarette. Suffice it to say; the health movement had not permeated my grandparent’s house yet.

The one brunch food I had no appetite for was grits. I thought they were horrible — like, pretend to eat it and spit it out in your napkin, horrible. This devastated my grandmother. She had a reputation for being the “Grits Queen,” and she was proud of that moniker. In her mind, every southern woman had to be the master of three things in the kitchen: biscuits, gravy and grits. Not only could I not stand to eat grits, but there was also no way I wanted to learn to make them.

This lead to my grandmother staging what I would today call an intervention. She had the female family members gathered in her kitchen and each one shared with me how my shunning of grits hurt them deeply. (Did I mention I was still in elementary school?) The result of this exercise was me vowing to learn the art of making grits at my grandmother’s side.

It was a cooking lesson I wasn’t looking forward to because, in my opinion, grits were gross. They’re the equivalent of eating raw cornbread batter – tasteless and grainy. Seriously, blech. Even as a child my food theory was that if you have to work that hard to make something edible, then it’s the lord’s way of saying don’t bother. It’s the same reason no one should eat Cream of Wheat — it takes a pound of sugar and butter to even make it palatable. Grits are even worse.

First, hominy grits (the OG in the grits category) are just plain old corn kernels (my grandmother was all about the Boone County White) that have been tortured with some sinister substance like lye. (Do you know what lye is? It’s what our ancestors used for soap. I’m just going to throw it out there that if we moved on to lathering up with Irish Spring, why are we still using lye for food prep?) Once the lye bloats the corn kernels to three times their original size (kind of like my family after eating deep-fried bacon) and they look a little like teeth ripped out of someone’s mouth by a serial killer with a dental fetish, you then haphazardly grind up the teeth (oh sorry, I mean corn). After that, you have to soak the mixture in water and then add half of the stuff in your pantry and refrigerator to make it appear to be something a human should consume.

Based on all of this, was it wrong for me to just want to be left alone to savor the caloric splendor of bacon dipped in a brown sugar batter? Of course not, but I loved my grandmother, so I faked it. I put on an apron and vowed that I could conquer my fear of grits. Ugh, I embraced the creepy corn and went through the motions of grinding, soaking and making a “porridge” that looked like jaundiced papier-Mâché goo that had been left out on the sidewalk in mid-July. That was the easy part. The hard part was sitting down with my grandma to enjoy the “fruits of our labor.”

I took the smallest spoonful I could get away with and realized that, with my grandmother and two great aunts staring at me, I wouldn’t be able to pull the old spit out in the napkin routine. I was going to have to actually eat my grits. Then something magical happened – yuck turned into a very relieved me thinking, “Praise God, I don’t think I’ll die from eating this.” These grits tasted almost decent. My female relatives cheered when I smiled and took another very, very small bite.

I felt euphoric like I had passed some sort of generational test — and I had. I was now part of the sisterhood of grits.

Dear Snarky – The Case of the Lifestyle Stalker

 Dear Snarky,de40a8f35bfc8cbe84601905da22c982

I have a friend I’m seriously considering sending a bill to for interior design. It’s either that or I’m never going to talk to her ever again. For three years, I have been planning my dream kitchen. I have the cabinets, flooring, fixtures and even the art picked out which are paintings of a beach in Maine where my family took vacations when I was a child.

 Imagine my disbelief when I go to my friend’s house to see her new kitchen and discover she copied everything I had posted on Pinterest down to the beach paintings. I literally started crying. I asked her why she stole my kitchen and at first she acted all innocent and then said that if it was a secret I shouldn’t have put it on social media.

A week later I’m still angry and hurt. Do you think I should send her a bill to get the point across that she ripped off my kitchen?

 Signed, Devastated

Dear Devastated,

Sure, I could go all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and tell you to take the kitchen copy catting as a compliment, but when I got to the part in the letter where this “friend” bought the beach paintings from your beloved childhood vacation destination I was like, “Oh no, she didn’t.”

The whole thing, quite frankly, is creeping me out, like Lifetime movie of the week creeping me out where the woman first copies your kitchen and then frames you for murder so she can steal your husband and take over your life.

That rant aside, I wouldn’t waste my energy sending this loon a bill for services rendered for kitchen design. Instead I would distance myself – pronto- from this lifestyle stalker. And in the future, I would go old school and keep my home remodeling plans private – just because you never know who’s watching.


Dear Snarky – Our Neighbors Want to Clone Our Dog

Dear Snarky,

 I like my neighbors, but they have put my husband and I in a very weird predicament. We have the best dog ever. She’s a mutt and a mix of what we think is Bishon and Corgi. Our neighbors also love our dog and apparently a lot more than we thought because they recently asked us if they can clone our dog.

We were so shocked that we didn’t know what to say. Now they’re pressing us for permission. I thought you had to wait until a dog died to clone it, but they’re telling us all they need is a tissue sample. 

 My first reaction is I don’t want my dog cloned, but now I’m thinking well if it won’t hurt our dog why wouldn’t we allow them to do it. My husband though still thinks it’s creepy and says absolutely not.

 What do you think Snarky?

 Signed, Cloned 

Dear Cloned,

 Are your neighbors loaded? Because this letter had me doing a deep dive on dog cloning and it cost six figures to clone a dog. Yeah, $100,000. Do you know all the good that kind of money would do to help a dog shelter or provide spay and neutering services? 

I’m guessing your neighbor’s saw the same article the rest of us did on Barbara Streisand cloning her dog and then didn’t do a price check on just what that cost is. Proving three things, they suffer from a lack of reading comprehension and research skills and they’re just goofy. Really who’s so wacky that they want to clone the neighbor’s dog? This whole incident is a red flag. I would keep a polite distance from these neighbors and a watchful eye on our dog because you never know when they might attempt an impromptu tissue sample.

Employee Hiring Tips – Try a Roller Coaster

Hiring the right person for a job is one of life’s harder decisions. I’ve had a boss describe it to me as getting married after one date. Truthfully, it’s not even a date. It’s more like getting hitched after a 10-minute conversation at a Starbucks.

Fortunately, for human resource departments everywhere, I have come up with, what I think, is a superior method for finding the right person for whatever job you may need filled. I formulated this new breed of, let’s call it employee matching, while waiting in line for roller coaster over spring break. Not to brag or anything, but it might be my best idea ever (which is saying a lot because I pretty much love all my ideas).

Here’s how my employee matching would work. Let’s say you’re looking for a marketing manager and you’ve narrowed it down to four candidates. To see who would ultimately be the best one to hire all you need to do is take all four potential employees to a crowded theme park for a couple of hours because here’s the deal – how you act while waiting in line for a churro tells a lot about you.

Before you enter the theme park with your job candidates you’ve already got a plethora of data about their personality solely based on what they deem as appropriate park attire. Anyone that shows up in flip-flops should be automatically jettisoned from the applicant pool.

Flip-flops as a foot wear choice for walking miles on asphalt while your bare toes and upper foot mingle with the bacterial cast offs of humanity shows a brazen disregard for health, safety and speaks to a lack of respect for hygiene and practicality. The person you want to hire is the one who shows up in tennis shoes and has a backpack loaded with antibacterial hand gel, 70 SPF sunscreen and Band-Aid blister pads. This is the employee who would be prepared for any work emergency and probably knows CPR.

The mere act of entering the theme park is another opportunity to profile a potential hire. The person who has already downloaded the park app on their phone and has pre-selected attractions to avoid wasting hours standing in line is someone who shows initiative and is a self-starter. You don’t want to hire the dullard who has done zero planning, even if he or she is wearing closed toe shoes, because this is the person who will schedule multiple meetings to discuss the same thing over and over again when sending one email would have gotten the job done.

Once you get inside the park noticing what rides your job candidates choose to enjoy is a window into their soul. A person who loves roller coasters that go backwards and have loops shows a thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie who won’t freak out over a quick deadline. A candidate who takes a pass on being turned upside down demonstrates a need for control and a cautious nature which might be just the thing you’re looking for.

Waiting in a long line for a ride is a given at any theme park and how your potential employee handles that wait is telling. Does he or she whip out their phone and stare down at it the entire time in line or do they chat up their fellow line buddies? Your organization might need the outgoing and curious chit chatter or this maybe a red flag that here’s the person who will float from cubicle to cubicle wasting everyone’s time with a recitation about how their day is going.

I’m telling you – ditch the traditional job interview. If you want to hire the best person for a job get on a roller coaster.

Family Road Trips – Then & Now

As spring breaks begins and families hit the road all I can think about is how easy kids today have it in regards to traveling. Remember the days of yesteryear when there was no escaping your siblings and you were forced to listen to whatever your dad had turned up on the radio or (shudder) the John Denver 8 track your mom loved.

Today, my daughter gets in the car, immediately shoves her Apple AirPod’s into her ears and then proceeds to stare at her phone for the next 12 hours. It’s like she’s in her own private transport bubble.

In an attempt to scare 21st century kids into being extremely grateful for all their modern car conveniences I’ve compiled a list of the top 7 horrors I had to endure during my childhood road trips. Warning: This story contains frightening detail and may trigger a PTSD episode in anyone over 40.

1)You haven’t really lived until you’ve driven from Massachusetts to Florida in a 1970 Ford LTD Country Squire Station Wagon while riding backwards the entire 1,350 miles. Being the youngest my sister and I were always forced to sit in the 70’s version of the third row of seats which, for some reason, faced backwards. It was guaranteed to induce a vomiting episode at about mile maker 200. On the positive side, it was great training to be either a) A fighter pilot and/or b) A roller coaster enthusiast because five years of facing backwards while hauling down an interstate gives your crazy good motion sickness control skills.

2) Decades ago there was barely any freeway fast food so your mom packed every meal that you were going to eat in the car and while a tuna salad sandwich sounds good at noon eating one another one six hours later after it’s been steeped in the floor board juices is about as gross as it gets.

3) Who needs electronic devices when you can play license plate bingo for h-o-u-r-s? It’s an especially riveting game when it takes almost a full day to get out of the state of Texas and it’s an exotic sighting when you see a car with a license plate from Oklahoma.

4) Back in the day there wasn’t a QuikTrip on every corner and gas stations on the interstate weren’t as plentiful as they are now. This meant that potty breaks happened at “rest stops” which were part serial killer liar and breeding ground for Ebola. The worst were rest stops that didn’t have plumbing and instead used chemical toilets with signs on the front of the door that read “Beware of Bears.” This is why I learned to “hold it” for 20 hours and is probably also why I’m now susceptible to UTI infections.

5) I don’t know who invented the game Punch Buggy, but let’s call it what it really is – sanctioned abuse. Nothing says family bonding like siblings using seeing a Volkswagen on the highway as an excuse to throttle each other.

6) My dad in the 1970s was a man with plan. I believe one of his supreme pleasures in life was “making great time” while driving to a vacation location. This meant he hardly ever took his foot off the accelerator and if we had to make an “unscheduled” stop due to the call of nature, well his disappointment would permeate the vehicle like one of those bad tuna salad sandwiches.

7) The hands down worst road trip memory is doing all the above without air conditioning. Oh, yes, imagine hurling down Interstate 35 at 80 mph with the windows down, while riding backwards, eating a tuna sandwich, desperately needing to go the bathroom and getting punched in the arm by your brothers good times.

No really – good times.

Dear Snarky – My Sister’s “Poor Me” Act Ruined Our Family Vacay

Dear  Snarky,

 I have some advice for you – never travel with family. For over a year now we have been planning a Disney World trip for my parents 40th wedding anniversary. My parents said they would cover all the airfare and the hotel room charge but any expense beyond that you had to pay for.

 Well, of course, my deadbeat brother-in-law and cheap sister show up and say they have “no money.” We are standing outside the Magic Kingdom and can’t go in because they “need help” getting their tickets. They also “needed help” stuffing their faces at the park and at the end of the trip my mom tells me that my sister and her husband had a room service charge that was almost $500!

 They ruined the trip with their non-stop begging and “poor me” attitude. My parents, my husband and I, along with my two brothers had to take turns paying their way. Then, they have the gall to extend their trip and go off on a beach vacation of their own. So, they can’t pay any money for a Disney trip, but they can afford their own beach vacation. I was so furious I sent them a bill for what they owed everyone and now my mom is mad at me for “stirring things up.”

 I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. Did I?

 Signed, Not happy

Dear Not Happy,

 You did nothing wrong and I applaud the fact that you sent them an invoice and I hope you stamped payment due upon receipt in big red letters. The fact that no one has ever called them out on their B.S. is why they have zero problems taken advantage of family members. Not only did they mooch off you, but they did it in such a way that you couldn’t say no. Seriously, standing outside the park with no money – it’s calculated and downright diabolical. They knew, at the very least, that your mom would pay for their tickets. And then for them to go off on their own vacation after fleecing your parents and siblings – I have no words.

Here’s a hard truth – sometimes family members suck and don’t deserve your generosity. Trust me, it’s time for some tough love for this duo and the way I see it they’re lucky all they got was an invoice.

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

Why Is It Easier to Get An Opioid Than An Antibiotic?

Riddle me this – how come it’s easier to get a prescription for Vicodin than one for antibiotics? 

I’m serious. During this winter of the flu and other assorted maladies I heard people talking about trying to score a “Zpack (Zithromax) with such a sense of devout urgency that they sounded like an addict trying to hustle another fix. One friend who just knew, without a doubt, that she had strep recently shared her harrowing tale of doctor shopping for a Zpack. 

At first she played by the rules and went straight to her primary care doctor for an antibiotic prescription, but she was shut down. The doctor uttered that dreaded sentence we’ve all been told before – “It’s a viral infection and antibiotics won’t help.” Apparently, she flunked the rapid strep test. 

Undeterred and 100 percent convinced that the doctor was incorrect because in her words, “he didn’t do a throat culture” she went to her allergist and pretending she had a sinus infection asked if perhaps some antibiotics would do the trick. The allergist also said “no can do.” 

Finally, she was reduced to going to an “sketchy” Urgent Care that she said “made the DMV look like the Four Seasons.” The place also wouldn’t take her insurance and demanded payment up front before she was even given a clip board to fill out her health history. It was worth it though because $135 in cash later she finally secured the coveted Zpack.

Now, let’s contrast that travail with my most recent doctor foray. Two weeks ago, due to overestimating my brute strength, I jacked my left hip. It was so bad wearing underwear became optional. The act of lifting my foot to enough to get underwear on fell into the category of “never going to happen.” Due to the fact that my mobility was being severely hindered I decided to go to the doctor.  

When I got to the appointment I didn’t even have to disrobe and I had a chunky sweater on. All I did was indicate where the pain was and do some different body moves followed by yes, no, ouch and OUCH! The visit didn’t take long and before a medical professional could say, “you yanked some muscles around your hips and back” I was about to be given a pain prescription. I swiftly turned it down because I’m skeptical of extra strength Tylenol.

But as I slowly shuffled out of the doctor’s office I thought about how easy that was to get some hard-core opioid pain medication in a five-minute or less doctor’s appointment. It also got me back on my wisdom teeth rant. 

When my son got his wisdom teeth out he got a prescription for Vicodin. I asked the nurse why the RX was for so many pills. Wouldn’t you just do, say four, and if a kid had more pain than that a parent should call the oral surgeon’s office because there could be an infection? Why, just as a general rule, prescribe more than two dozen pills of a hard-core opiate to a 16-year-old? 

It turns out I was on to something because research from the Centers for Disease Control has shown that more half of the opioids prescribed for wisdom teeth removal go unused by the patient and I’ll let you conjecture what happens to a lot of those unused pills.

I have no problem with doctors following strict protocol for who does and does not warrant an antibiotic prescription because antibiotic resistant infections sound Zombie Apocalypse adjacent. What I don’t understand is why the medical community doesn’t use the same tenacity when it comes to prescribing opioids. It shouldn’t be harder to get Amoxicillin than OxyContin.

So Over It

I think there needs to be a national day of “step away from your computers and smartphones.” We can then use the time to take deep breaths and focus on not being so angry.

For at least two years I’ve been making excuses when people would comment about how mean everyone had gotten on social media. I would blame politics and say it’s making people crazy or worse filter less. Meanwhile, I’m hiding more and more “friends” so I don’t have to experience their meandering rage.

Today, I’m barely on social media (except for my beloved Snarky FB page)  because I’m over it. It’s like when Oreo’s came out with Double Stuffed. They were great, but after eating a sleeve (or two) I discovered I’m more of a chocolate wafer girl. All that filling was just too much. When it was just a dollop it seamlessly melded with the wafer, but once they doubled down the artificial flavor kicked into turbo mode and the Oreo acquired an aftertaste of “I don’t want it anymore.”

The same thing has happened with social media. I don’t want it anymore. It has unleashed the worst in people.

If that’s not depressing enough this blob of emboldened fury has slimed its way into all forms of communication where it seems more and more of us feel like we’ve been ordained to be the royal highness of jerkdom.

It took a neighborhood website to show me how bad things have gotten in the “I’m thinking it so I’m going to say it” department. One would surmise that a neighborhood website would be the place of somewhat civil communication. After all, you live in the same hood and a certain veneer of politeness ensures cul-de-sac harmony.

 It’s not like Facebook where people feel like they can make a hostile comment with nary a care because chances are slim to none that you’re going to ever have to experience any in person awkwardness resulting from that harsh rebuke you wrote on a former high school classmate’s page who now lives in New Jersey.

But your neighbors are a constant in your life. You see them while walking your dog or even getting your mail, which would make it kind of important to dial down the jerk or knee jerk reaction.

Sadly, an innocuous question left by a fellow neighbor about when the Christmas decorations were going to be removed from the entrance of the neighborhood turned into a flurry of erroneous comments about picking on the alleged volunteers who put up the wreaths to who goes to board meetings and how lame the HOA management company is.

It all made me very sad. How does one question get turned around into being about nagging volunteers and then become a dumping ground for neighborhood angst?

No one wants to problem solve anymore. The go to now is just to complain or what I think is even worse make comments that have zero basis in fact.

What’s happened to us?

A decade ago I don’t think this would have occurred. I believe we were still following the other golden rule – hiding our true feelings lest we hurt someone else’s. Now, it’s an open season on just spewing whatever thought pops in your brain. No care or concern is given to the consequences.

I would have thought that a neighborhood website for a small Kansas suburb would be something of a safe space. But it seems we’ve become a society of disgruntled fingers furiously typing away in any on-line forum with a comment section.

Retainer Challenged

There are two kinds of children. Those who lose their retainers and those who don’t. I happen to have one of each. My son, now 21, has never been retainer-less. Since he got his braces off six years ago he’s been diligent regarding all things retainer. I know this because I’ve never had to buy him a new retainer and his teeth still look straight as the day the braces came off.

Sadly, I can’t say the same thing about my daughter. She’s, to be kind, retainer challenged. The latest episode in “Where’s Bella’s Retainer” ended up with her hypothesizing that the dog ate it. Specifically, our beagle.

To be fair the beagle doesn’t have a discriminating palate, but I don’t see him chowing down on a retainer. He turns his nose up at a Milk Bones so I’m skeptical he found a wire and plastic apparatus appetizing. Also, in the TMI department I pick up his poop so I think I would notice the remnants of a retainer.

But because I’m either a bad mother or just a tired one that’s the story we took to the orthodontist. To the credit of the entire office no one yelled liar or even rolled an eye. I don’t know maybe replacing retainers is a huge money-maker. Perhaps it’s an orthodontist gold mine with a high volume and big mark-up that helps subsidies all those rubber bands they give out.

It also made me curious to what retainer excuses people in the smile business had heard. Maybe my daughter’s “my dog ate my retainer” didn’t even register on the scale of wacky orthodontics appliances stories. So, I decided to launch my own investigation. I was going to find out the most outlandish excuses ortho employees had heard about “How I lost my retainer.”

The third best retainer tale of woe I was told concerned a child who must have been a diligent retainer wearer because he had it in during a surf lesson and upon being hit by a “major wave” lost it in the majestic waters of the Pacific. Perhaps somewhere in the briny depths a baby shark is enjoying some free orthodontic work towards a more beautiful smile courtesy of this retainer.

Coming in at number two was my little brother ate it. This one totally surpasses dog – big time. It would also lead you to ask a follow-up question. As in did this necessitate a trip to the E.R.?

The number one most bizarre story was my retainer got flushed down the toilet. Hmm, this one seems like a stretch because not only would both parts of the retainer have to take a porcelain swim, but then you would have to flush.

I asked the veteran orthodontist sharing this if she inquired to the person telling her the story why upon noticing that you dropped your retainer in the toilet wouldn’t you fish it out and commence an industrial grade sterilization sequence. She smirked and said that she did indeed ask about this and was told “the retainer was disguised by number 2.” (Gag.)

Maybe there needs to be some sort of chip implanted in retainers so you can locate them with your phone. Seriously, someone develop that app asap. My daughter’s going to need it. I just texted her (with three mad face emojis and in all caps) that her dad and I had just bought her the last retainer on our dime. The next one’s on her.