Dear Snarky – Something Smells About My Dad’s New Wife

Dear Snarky,

I smell a rat and it’s my dad’s new wife. Apparently, she has a “severe scent allergy.” She says she is hypersensitive to certain smells that can cause a reaction that could send her to the hospital.

Before the Christmas holidays she group texted the entire family about how we would need to clear our houses of any scents that would quote “trigger” her. It was a pretty long list that included no air fresheners, no plug-in room fresheners, no scented candles or soap including even dish soap. We also couldn’t wear any scented body lotions, perfume or hair care products around her.

My sister and I thought her list was ludicrous. If you’re that sensitive to smells how do you leave the house because everywhere you go there’s someone wearing something scented.

But because we didn’t want to upset our dad we followed her list which was a huge pain in the ass and yet his wife still had a reaction at my sister’s house on Christmas and she had to leave because she said she could “smell balsam and it felt like her throat was closing.” Talk about drama.

Imagine my surprise when I saw her at a Bath and Bodyworks store on New Year’s Day shopping their big sale with a bag loaded up with scented products from candles to body lotion. I didn’t confront her, but I took a video of her shopping and texted it in the family group message.

Now, my dad is angry at me and his lying new wife is saying she just put a gel in her nose that allowed her to go into the store and my dad is totally buying this.

Is there any way to get him to acknowledge that his wife is a huge liar? And if she’s lying about this imagine what else she is making up?

Signed, Something Smells Off

Dear Off,

Let’s examine the facts. One, your new stepmother is indeed a liar. I’m no doctor but I am a fan of Bath and Body Works and I know if you had a severe scent sensitivity this emporium of smells from wild lime and gardenia to Jasmine and Frankincense would not be a nasal safe space.

I also consulted an allergist and there is no nose gel that would enable a person with such an allergy to plunge themselves into that level of scent utopia and not have a reaction.

This means that your father’s wife is seeking to control the family dynamics and draw attention to herself with these alleged scent issues. Sadly, there is nothing you can do to get your dad to wake up and smell the crazy.

If this ever does happen and it might not, he’s going to have to have his own awakening. No amount of family pressure will make him change his mind. In fact, it could cause him to cleave to this woman longer. You know the whole us against the world dynamic.

I would strive to keep an amicable relationship with your dad while telling his wife that you will no longer be purging your home of scents for her visits. (#UseThatNoseGel)

I also suggest that the fact that you would like to purge her from your family should be kept on the down low – at least for now.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at 😉





Holiday Shopping Puzzlers

il_340x270-1.1358738970_n9r8I actually enjoy holiday shopping but sadly my family has ruined it for me. Now, I get lists where all I have do is point and click to their on-line shopping bag. Efficient? Yes. Fun? No. This means the only real shopping I do is for myself because, yes, I buy my own presents.

There are though a few things that puzzle me about shopping in December and one of them is the music being played in stores. Props to Bath and Body Works for their traditional approach in regard to holiday tuneage. Burl Ives gentle crooning on “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is something to be treasured and lulled me into buying yet another “Fresh Balsam” holiday candle. And when Johnny Mathis started singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I felt duty bound to double up on my “Peppermint Twist” bath gel purchase.

Sadly, the music segued to ghastly at the next store I went into. What’s up current singers butchering a classic? Jingle Bells doesn’t required vocal gymnastics? I’m tone deaf but even I don’t think that “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” requires a show-offy take on the lyrics.

Another thing that confuses me are coupon conundrums. Pretty much retail speaking, no matter what store you go into everything is marked down by at least 30 percent. You also then have your digital coupons and loyalty savings for a “joining” the store “club” etc. The problem is that the math required to use your coupons is ACT worthy and presents a mathematical brain teaser.

Can you combine the current discount with your coupon and loyalty card? If the answer is no, you then have to try to figure out what will be cheaper just taking the discounted price or going the coupon route combined with the loyalty reduction? And then what if you return the purchase will you get your loyalty bucks back?

The people who say you never use math once you graduate are fools. I use math every time I shop and not to brag but I can add up what’s in my Target cart and I’m usually not off my more than 15 cents. It still amazes my kids. My son once asked me how can I do that but not know basic algebra? I told him my skill set was “everyday math.”

Holiday shopping also woos me to make dumb decisions. As in I recently bought a hat. Not a hat to wear when I walk my dogs, but a fashion statement hat. A beret to be exact. J Crew had all these cute berets laid out on a counter and the fact that they looked like giant macaroons might have influenced my decision to buy one. (I was hungry.) As soon as I attempted to wear my beret in public, I felt very self-conscious, like the people might be feeling sorry for me kind of self-conscious.

I just don’t have the face or the head for a beret. But, then not two days later I was seduced by a fedora at Anthropolgie. It didn’t help that some very lovely young ladies were in the store wearing fedoras. I decided to give it try and let’s just say it wasn’t for me.

I was bummed. I want to be the kind of woman who can pull off a hat. But then I started thinking positive about my beret. I was going to wear it but only when I go out with my daughter. At 18 she’ll be mortified to see me styling a huge hot pink wool macaroon that’s perched on my head at a very jaunty angle. Hmm, maybe that beret wasn’t such a bad purchase after all.



Graduation Overload

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 8.42.23 AMI’m so glad I don’t have a single child graduating from anything this month. Last year at this time I had a son finishing his senior year and a daughter (cue the drum roll) 8th grade. My eldest was deeply mystified about why such a big deal was made out of completing the 12th grade.

The fancy graduation announcements, the parties, the hoopla of it all confused him. He asked, “Why does anyone care that you met the minimum educational requirements set forth by the state? Like I know that would make a really bad Hallmark card, but seriously Mom why the shock and awe about getting out of high school?”

I thought about his questions for a moment and responded with, “Well, it’s all about acknowledging meeting your goals and celebrating your impending adulthood.”

“And by goals do you mean 12 years of not forgetting to turn in your homework?” He replied sarcastically.

“Yes and much, much more. Think of all you did and don’t scoff at goals. Even the smallest ones are important. For instance, right now I have a goal to use up all the “buy 1 get 3 for free mini moisturizers I bought from Bath and Body Works over the past two years. Oh and don’t give me that look?”

“What look?”

“The look that says you think you’re superior to me. Trust me, it’s going to be a challenge to use all of them. You have no idea how many I’ve bought. They’ve got a Ponzi scheme going on in that store. First, they draw you in with a huge sale, then up the ante by throwing some coupons at you and before you know it you’ve got enough Tahiti Island Dream body cream to get you through a ten-year moisturizer drought. Just feel my arm. Really rub it.”

“Umm no thanks,” my son said looking scared.

“Oh come on, touch it. I’m telling you my arm is slimy I’ve got so much lotion on. Sure, it’s a little gross, but it’s all part of achieving my goal of using up all that moisturizer.”

“Mom, how do you do it? Take an intelligent question about education and turn it into a story about body lotion. Do you know you have a problem staying on topic?”

“I, thank you very much, do not have a problem staying on topic. I simply excel at using everyday occurrences and using them as stirring life lessons”

“Yeah, you keep on telling yourself that,” he said with what I thought was a less than respectful tone and then as he walked out of the kitchen announced that I didn’t know what a Ponzi scheme was.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your lotion story. You used Ponzi scheme wrong. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation. You buying too much creams, or whatever, is in no way a Ponzi scheme.”

“Hey, guess what? You know what I’m celebrating? My “I-think-I’m-way-smarter-than-my-mother” son leaving for college in the fall. So take that mister.”

“Yeah, I’m guessing Hallmark doesn’t make that card either,” he said smirking and then left me alone in the kitchen.

This interchange last year got me to thinking about graduation. I get why my son was experiencing what I would call graduation ennui. He has had a lot of graduations. There was a kindergarten commencement and let me just say this needs to stop. I get it, nothing is cuter than a 6-year-old in a mortar board (expect maybe a puppy in a mortar board), but come on, it’s silly. It’s more of photo-op than a celebration of achievement.

Then he had a fifth grade graduation which featured the aromatic styling’s of cafeteria fumes, mop water and a mystery odor (best guess is that it was a moldy Lunchable and Smuckers Uncrustable that had mated and were honeymooning behind the heat register) and a portable sound system with a reverb so intense that a couple of mothers had to leave due to impending migraines.

That event was surpassed by eighth grade graduation in the middle school gym. It had all pomp and circumstance of getting a wedgie. Sure, the middle school band and orchestra sounded great or at least I think they did. The sound of younger siblings running up and down the bleachers kind of drowned out the music.

Finally, when high school graduation rolls around kids are jaded. Just this week, my, now just finished his first year of college, son announced that he couldn’t understand why anyone would even go to their university graduation.

I answered that question for him. “Don’t see it so much as your graduation, but as a thank you ceremony to your father and I for surviving parenting you.”

“Well, when you put it that way, how could I not go?”


*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! 🙂