A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I did not grow up with males in the house. This may explain why some of the testosterone-induced behaviors I now experience at home as an adult seem like such a novelty to me. Those to whom male-minded manners are customary, may find the following merely a reaction to my under-exposure to masculine “charms” during development. Regardless, I still say men are fascinating creatures.

My son:
My friend’s clever and insightful comment, “Your son must be older than we are by now.” struck a strong chord with me. She’s right, he’s so old that if he keeps up this pace he’s going to beat me to the nursing home. It seems that way for most adolescents these days; they suffer from a disease whereby their perceived maturity goes far afield of their capacity to handle it.  Their bend toward adult activities goes well beyond what I can recall being comfortable with at that age.
For example: I picked my son up from a school dance last Friday, a thirteen year old eighth grader—so worldly you know—and was glad to hear he had a good time at the dance. In fact, he actually danced at the dance. This, to me, was mildly shocking news. Ages ago, when I was attending eighth grade dances, most of the boys didn’t actually dance, they sort of milled around and deliberately tried not to notice the girls. Point of fact, my son not only danced but freak danced at the dance. For those of you not in the know, freak dancing involves direct contract between the dancers, particularly at the pelvic region and the gyrations that accompany the contact could easily elicit blushes from the more genteel and outrage from the more puritanical.
I think, “Hey—whatever works—they like to freak dance, let ‘em do it.” But I clearly recall being an eighth grade girl and know without a doubt that one of the last things I would have wanted was some horny, sweaty eighth grade boy grinding his unpredictable, easily excitable paraphernalia against my ass as we pounded the gym floor together to “Smoke On the Water” by Deep Purple. No, no. That would not be for me.
And as a thirteen to fourteen year old boy I cannot imagine what it would be like to meld my underused and likely over-abused privates into the nicely formed, budding buttocks of a female peer. I mean…what exactly is going on? No one’s sprouting wood? Seriously? OK, allright. Yes, I am middle-aged and times have changed but to my knowledge young boys are still getting unwanted and inconvenient stiffies from inopportune time to time. As a female of any age all I can say is, “Eek! Dude, keep your trouser snake to yourself.”
Of course, this is not a conversation I could have with my son. I would be soundly rebuffed with, “Oh Mom! You just don’t understand.” And you know—he’d be right—and that would be the end of that conversation. But I’m really, really trying to understand. However, I have three things working against me: 1) I’m a female 2) I’m a mom and 3) I’m his mom.
This last thing might be the deal breaker.

My husband:
     Tim's been objectifying our neighbor, Natasha, for a couple of years now. He goes on and on about her fake boobs. Before we got to know her, he porn-named her "Lusty McBusty" when he first spied her in the neighborhood. The quintessential MILF, she's barely five foot two, super cute, mid-forties, white-blonde hair, in phenomenal shape and has the aforementioned implants that seem a bit—shall we say—overblown for her body type. You know what I’m talking about. Basically, you take one look and immediately wonder how much she paid for them.
     I invited Natasha to dinner the other night. She and I are planning a get-together for our group of neighbors and I thought it'd be easier to prepare if she joined us for dinner.  I told my husband he would need to watch himself, no open gaping at her cleavage and if he must ogle, try to keep his glances as surreptitious as possible. You never know how much people are paying attention and I really don’t want our neighbor to know how obsessed my husband is with her chest.  I mean, I understand they’re there to be looked at but the hope is for the retention of at least some dignity for all parties involved in spite of the desperate plea for attention.
     To his credit, he did not slip up and mold a mammary out of the mound of mashed potatoes on his plate. Nor did he spill anything on our well-endowed guest in order to allow an emergency frontal mop up. Neither did not knock over his wine glass or drop food down his shirt as he tried to eat, drink and not ponder her paired protuberances. He seemed to manage it just fine. 
     Jack Kerouac once said, “My fault, my failure is not in the passions I have but in my lack of control of them.” You, my darling, are no Jack Kerouac. You did yourself proud.
     Tim recently informed me with the excitement of a seven-year-old boy reporting the carnival just hit town, that another neighbor lady also added a lovely new set of twins to her perambulator. In the hopes of insulting neither man nor beast, I liken it to a scenario wherein you strap two shapely, alluring squeaky toys to your upper thorax and give them an occasional tweak. What’s a poor puppy to do?  The panting, drooling, and foaming at the mouth is all to be expected. There’s only so much squeaky toy temptation a hankering hound can take.
     Or perhaps a better analogy is mountain climbing. Why does anyone climb a mountain? Because it’s there. The bigger the mountain, the more challenging the goal, and the more satisfying the vista from the top. And there you have it: So many mountains to climb and not enough time or freedom to get it done. Ah, the poor dear—he’ll just have to enjoy the view from a distance.

     The Grand Tetons. Makes you want to climb right on top—doesn’t it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Winning the Lottery

My husband, Tim, and I play the lotto. He plays it weekly and I participate only when the stakes are significantly higher than usual. For me to make a special stop, park the car, find my way into an inconvenient convenience store and unclench my stingy fist from some greenbacks, there has to be a sizeable and consciousness-raising amount of money in the offing. He plays the same two sets of numbers and, struck with a smidgeon of OCD, he very rarely misses a week. His devotion to playing is methodical, systematic, and somewhat sentimental. He plays the birthdates and ages of our three children, his mother and the two of us. I usually need a certain amount of prodding and reminding to buy in. He keeps track and tells me when the jackpot has reached a compelling level and I plunk down my money—sometimes as much as a whopping five dollars, or if I’m in a ridiculously extravagant, profligate and spend-thrift-erous mood, ten dollars—to purchase a quick pick and take my chances. No romantic number choices for me, I just let lotto technology be my guide.

The chances are overwhelmingly against us winning. Not only do we know this as the regular members of the general population know it, we know it in extreme depth and punctilious detail not available to the general population. This is because Tim is a statistician; he not only knows the probability of winning, he can give you the probability calculations that describe it. If you’re a statistician, just about everything can—and should—be broken down into an equation. To spare you the pain of thinking about probability in statistical jargon—read: an equation—I’ll just confirm what you already know. The chances of anyone winning the lottery are infinitesimally small. So it’s not as if we think we’re really going to win it one of these days, but it’s true what they say, “If you don’t play, you can’t win.” Because neither one of us can pass up a shot at winning free money, we play. But, we’re almost one hundred percent positive we will not win.

Tim and I met in an unusual way. It wasn’t unusual because we met on Craig’s list, an online listing of everything from pets, to personals, to professions, to politics—it happens all the time these days. Our case was different. We were participants in a rampant case of deliberate and determined serendipity. It was an occasion of conventional, new-age, internet personals perusing, turned unconventional, by way of mistaken identity. It went something like this:

I was trying to make a departure from the divorce doldrums, my twelve-year marriage having ended four years prior. There was a subsequent three-year relationship which had died a drawn out, hiccough-ridden, overdue death. I was ready for something better, something nice, something to get me through some of the yawns and sighs of alone time that inundated my life. I’m not sure why it’s such a faux pas to admit, such a sign of weakness to confess—I was lonely. I wanted a companion, a male companion—someone to hang out with, someone to hang in with. I was not looking for permanence.

My first marriage was a cautionary tale. It had instilled me with enough caution that I could have talked Evel Knievel on mood elevators out of popping even one little wheelie on his ten-year-old grandson’s banana-seated, stingray bike. Savaged by the whole marriage idea, I had absolutely no designs on matrimony—ever—again. Thanks just the same.

I had married my college sweetheart—we met when I was nineteen—affording me little dating experience. Trying online introductions seemed a good way to beef up my dating résumé. At forty, with a seven-year-old son, my chances of meeting an age-appropriate, location-tractable and requisitely single significant other seemed best played out with the help of the internet. I tried online encounters on and off for slightly over a year. In that time, I corresponded with a veritable legion of lonely men and met, in person, something on the order of forty-odd members of the cadre. I’m sure I didn’t break any records. (Are there any records for meeting available men? Is Guinness keeping track of this?) But it did seem to me that I met quite a lot of men in a relatively short space of time.

I had given up the idea of finding anyone with whom I wanted to spend any significant amount of time via the cyber-scene. Although I had met a considerable amount of men, there were none with whom I felt that much talked-about “click”; I hadn’t felt what some of us like to call “chemistry” with any of the bachelors. I called it, “instant intimacy”, and decided that it was just not something I was capable of. I needed to know someone reasonably well before I signed on for any kind of real something. I sensed from the start that some of the men I spent time with were not meant for me, but I gave it a chance anyway, just to be sure I could trust my radar.

There are a few men that stand out in my memory: There was the lovelorn guy, the Italian guy, the Prozac guy, the underwear guy, the gnomish guy, the ambivalent guy, the podiatrist, the optometrist, the contractor/writer, the liar (appeared numerous times in various incarnations), the special missions/ex-Navy Seal, the park ranger, the glom-on guy, the ADHD but super smart guy, and the “I just want to be your friend”—yeah, right—guy.

Most recently, there had been a super nice guy, my first African-American paramour. I had gone the long stretch of two months with him—and, sorry to say, it did feel like a long two months—before I decided to put the kibosh on it. Most of these men seemed genuinely nice, they just were not for me. A few of them were not at all nice and they were definitely not for me.

Having discarded the slim hope of finding Mr. Right-For-Now through internet means, and while breaking off the two month stint with the super nice guy, I was distracting myself by looking at the personal ads on Craig’s list. It’s great entertainment. You can find all kinds of crazy stuff on the site and if you’re a divorced, forty-year-old mom checking the personals, you can get a clue as to how interesting your life is not. There are people looking for hook-ups of all kinds: Friends, friends with privileges, just privileges, just kinky privileges, privileges with you and your hot daughter, privileges with you and their wife, privileges I could not fathom in my limited, middle-class, white bread, pedestrian mind. I wasn’t looking for anything or anybody in particular; I was just looking.

At the time, Lily Tomlin’s one-woman show, “Searching for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe” was playing in San Francisco and I wanted to see it but needed a date. So when I saw an ad with the same title as the show, I read it. The man was in the right age range, and looking for a date for the show. There was one thing, however, that stopped me from writing back; he described himself as having a ponytail. Yes, it’s shallow, and yes, I’ve met plenty of quality men who sport the manly ponytail, but given a choice, I’d rather be the one with the ponytail. I passed the ad and read on. A few days back in the file, I found what I thought was the same ad again; it had the same title. In the short space of sixty seconds, I changed my mind. Ponytail? Whatever. All I wanted was a date for the show.

I replied to the ad. My message was short but included the line, “Do you still have the ponytail?”

His brief reply came quickly and included the lines, “I don’t have a ponytail. Are you sure you have the right ad?”

Wrong ad. Right guy.

We met for a drink which evolved into dinner. He was interesting, smart, handsome; and quirky. I’m a sucker for quirky. He was a disillusioned, iconoclastic, ex-academic who lived with his enormous white, furry, drooling dog in a house in the Oakland hills. He was an oenophile, epicure, and gourmet chef. A virtual orphan, (his father passed when he was five and his mom passed when he was nineteen) he seemed like a character in a novel.

At evening’s end he was careful to give me plenty of space. He did not move in for a peck on the cheek or even a chaste hug when he walked me to my car. With nary an offered handshake, there was no physical contact at all between us as we said goodnight. Much later that he told me he hadn’t wanted to scare me off. Standing some distance from me while saying goodnight he asked if he could call me again.

I waved—he seemed so far away—gave a noncommittal smile saying, “Sure.”

In all honesty, I was not thinking things between us were going to run for any significant period of time. I figured he was another of the many nice guys I’d met, a guy not really for me, a guy I might include in a story sometime as “the statistician” or “the guy without the ponytail” or “the guy who kept his distance saying goodnight so that I thought my deodorant had failed.”

He was consistent, persistent, attentive, earnest, thoughtful, and exuded that certain quirky quality that always keeps me coming back for more.

We dated. And as we dated and got to know each other better, I found he was quirkier than I’d anticipated. I like quirky, but you can get too much of a good thing. I wasn’t sure if his quirky cup was running over or if it was merely brimming full and threatening a sticky spill at the slightest jostle. It was still early enough that it didn’t really matter. I looked at our relationship as an enjoyable way to pass the time. I had no expectations other than to have a nice interlude, someone to talk to my friends about, someone to fill my empty spaces. I anticipated a break in the action at some point and to move on to another relationship. I was physically there, emotionally there—in a very limited fashion—but I was unavailable for anything that involved long-term planning.

Weeks passed and we spent more and more time together.

He called me every night—every night. He insisted that he wasn’t good at talking on the phone, but with me, he seemed to have no problem—surprising considering my phone faculties are rather weak. Some weekends we spent together, some we spent apart. As the months went by, we spent most weekends together. Slowly, steadily, like the constant flow of water finding a path into the smallest of pores, he seeped his way into the lives of my son and myself. I wish I could say that I was crazy about him from the start, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t have been crazy about anyone right from the start.

Eventually, the relationship worked itself into a plain, old-fashioned—colored with a shade of quirky—case of love.

There were complications, naturally. Complications are a given with any relationship. We both had wounds to lick and scars to flaunt from prior romantic associations. We each had histories of liaisons, which left us weary, wary, and overly willing to react to one another. We had some distance to cover before hitting our stride. Tim was alert to the possibility of us hitting that stride long before I. There were logistics to sort out. He lived in Oakland; I lived in Novato, an hour’s drive away. I was not flexible about location since I shared custody of my son. There were issues surrounding our children. Tim’s two kids lived in Maine, so while we did not have to surmount the difficulties of living as a blended family, we did have to figure out how we could coexist peaceably for up to four weeks at a time. It took negotiations and behavior modification on all our parts, but we managed.

When Tim proposed, he did it with old-fashioned style. For a flare of drama replete with tear rendering, he made the request in front of my dad and step-mom. We sat at dinner, stunned, as Tim asked my father’s permission to marry me. Dad, apparently never expecting such a question, had to be prompted twice before responding. Undone by the request, he finally sputtered out his approval. Tim then got down on one knee—no, I am not exaggerating for creative license—and asked for my hand. He was crying. My dad was crying. I was crying when I said yes. It was the quintessential Kleenex moment for the three of us. Be forewarned. When Tim proposes you’d better be wearing waterproof mascara.

Wedding plans ensued.

Tim had family in New Zealand and Italy; my family was local. My first wedding had been a big, year-in-the-making wedding event; Tim’s first wedding had been more impromptu. It seemed important that Tim have a “real” wedding this time, with as many of his family members present as possible. In venue choice and planning, I deferred to him. Given Tim’s family’s geography, we set our sights on the Tuscan town of Montecatini Val di Cecina, near his aunt and uncle’s farmhouse. Two years prior, we had attended his cousin’s wedding at the same location—in the open vestibule of a picturesque and defunct copper mine—and were taken with it’s rustic beauty and indelible romance. With quite a lot of help from his aunt and cousin in Italy, the wedding plans gelled.

The ceremony took place with a truckload of hitches and miles worth of storyline. To do it proper justice, our Italian wedding deserves a beckoning, blank page of its own.

We have been married for a grand total of four years. While I’m not making claims that our marriage has withstood the test of time, I can tell you that it’s looking promising, much more promising than the first go around. There are no guarantees, of course, but I’d say that the likelihood of success this time around far exceeds the odds from our first discouraging attempts at working the marriage racket. I’m feeling good enough about it that I would even make that special stop, park the car, find my way into an inconvenient convenience store and unclench my stingy fist from some greenbacks to lay money on it. You essentially do that when you get married; you put your money on the line. But more to the heart of the matter, you put yourself, your whole self and nothing but yourself in the direct line of risk and uncertainty when you commit to another person. It’s a scary prospect for someone like myself, made substantially less scary by plighting my troth to someone like Tim. He tells me the fix is in; we’re going the distance. It’s a sure thing. Not only is Tim smart, he’s usually right.

From time to time, we talk about how lucky we are to have found each other. Tim was my cyber-guy number forty-something-or-other, and I was his personal ad response number two. The probability of me being open to trying a second marriage was even slimmer than the probability of us meeting each other in the first place.
Tim said it first and he says it often, “We won the lottery when we met each other.”
I concur, absolutely.

This is why we think we won’t win at lotto.

The chances of winning the lottery twice are so infinitesimally obscure they flirt with the status of nonexistence. It’s as if when you win once, you’re almost ineligible to win again. I’m not exactly sure what the chances are of winning the lottery twice; I’ve never seen the numbers. It likely depends on which lottery you’re playing. I’ll have to ask Tim about the calculations. I’m sure he’ll know.
The wedding in Montecatini Val de Cecina
photo credit: Catharine Amato

So You Think You Can Drive?

All right, OK. Of course you can drive, but if you have a teenager, you’ll be required to teach him or her to drive. Let’s say you’re a better than average driver. (Most of us consider ourselves good drivers but let’s just settle for better than average and not quibble about it—OK?) Being a good driver doesn’t necessarily make you a good driving instructor. What makes anyone think they are equipped to teach a newly permitted, 15 and a half year old to drive?  More specifically, what makes anyone think they know how to instruct a hormonally supercharged, sleep deprived, knows-everything-without-knowing-anything, “Don’t try to tell me what to do because you’re wrong” adolescent the rules of the road while they’re steering the wheel? Sure, you can do it—I did. But it definitely shaved a few years off my life, grayed some hairs, gave me heart palpitations and made me wonder if I shouldn’t up the pay out on my accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

You're objecting. "It's not that bad" you say. "They have to take a written test to get their permit." Yes. Yes, they do. This would lead you to believe they actually know something. Passing such a test might make you think they have the basics down. The problem is that you don’t know what they don’t know until you’re smack in the middle of an incident.

For example: Yielding the right of way when making a left-hand turn in an intersection without a directional arrow. No-brainer right? That's what I thought until we were turning left in front of a long line of cars at the largest intersection in our town.” No, no, NO!” I sputtered as I pedaled for the brake that doesn't exist on the passenger side. We somehow made it through the junction unscathed with horns justifiably blaring. Did it slow my son down for an instant? No. He gave me that look, that “what’s your problem?” look that drives me mad.

“You have to yield to oncoming traffic on a left turn if you don't have an arrow!” I informed him, my voice shrill from adrenaline.

“Well, how am I supposed to know that!?” he countered.

Hmm…What do they ask on that pre-permit quiz?

The very first ride in the car with my son at the helm was an exercise in self control. Specifically, I controlled my grip on my thigh to avoid piercing my own flesh as we sped too quickly and too close to parked cars on the four mile drive from his father’s house to mine. Perhaps he was trying to demonstrate he was a confident driver.  All I know is we passed parked cars with little room to spare causing me to scrunch up and lean towards the middle of the car, hoping to avoid injury lest the passenger side door was ripped off or the side view mirror of a parked car smashed through my window. “You’re driving too close on the right.” I informed him, attempting to sound calm. “But I just want to stay far away from the center line.” he whined.  I agreed it was good to be far from the center line but insisted an equilibrium needed to be achieved. Ah, the nuances of motoring that don’t occur to the experienced driver. No doubt this wasn’t covered on the permit exam. Some things are so obvious they would seem to require no comment.
The worst 15 minutes I spent in the car with Theo before he was licensed was a Monday morning drive to school. He’d had his permit for a few months so my fear factor had dissipated somewhat and I’d relaxed my white-knuckled vigilance. Two short minutes into the drive, I bent down to pick a paper off the floor of the car and when I looked up again we were zipping towards impact with the car in front of us at the stop sign.
 “Stop, stop, STOP!” I expostulated, “What are you doing!?”  
“I thought he was going.”
“Well, Jesus! We almost ended up in his trunk! Slow down and pay attention.”
“It’s not my fault.”
We were in motion so I didn’t argue his flawed sense of liability, but I did stop trying to pick up things off the floor of the car. Clearly I’d been lulled into a false sense of security.
Within the next seven minutes we were cruising down Novato Blvd., a main artery through town. The traffic light some yards in front of us turned yellow. Concurrently, not looking at what was coming, Theo hit the gas.
“Hey! No! Stop, stop, STOP! What are you doing?!” We were way too far away to even think of making the light. “The light’s red!”
He braked and our chests tested the limits of the seatbelts. “Sorry. I was watching my speed.”
“Well, watch the road, not your speed. You only need to glance at your speed. Don’t watch the speedometer!”
The ride ended after we pulled into his father’s driveway. Theo went inside to get his books. When he came out he walked in front of the idling car, down past the passenger’s side, around the back, opened the driver’s side backseat door, put his books in, sat himself down and put on his seatbelt. He blinked, looked up and around, suddenly realized he was in the wrong spot, shook his head and made for the driver’s seat.
“Nope. Sorry. Three strikes—you’re out. I’m driving now.” I released my seatbelt, got out of the car and quickly slipped behind the wheel.
“Whaaaa? Whaddaya mean!?”
“I mean I just watched you make three major errors and you’re done driving for this morning. No more. My turn now. Get in.”
“I can’t believe you! You’re completely unreasonable! This is ridiculous! You are WAY overreacting.”
 “Too bad. Just get in—unless you prefer to walk.”
I’m sure the neighbors enjoyed all the door slamming. That was by far our worst outing during the permit period.
Happily, the learning curve isn’t quite so steep these days. He’s been driving on his own for a year. To his credit, he did very, very well on his license test. In fact, I think he only had two points knocked off.
I’m waiting for the right time to tell him about my driver’s test. Undoubtedly, he'll feel far superior to know his mother passed by one measly point.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dirty Trimes: DO NOT READ if bawdiness offends you.

These are what I call trimes. It's three rhyme verse.
I don't know if I invented it. It seems to me that others may have struck upon this already. But given that I don't know much about poetry I'm claiming--until proven otherwise--first dibs.

They're fun, puerile, ribald and an absolute demonstration of me being in touch with my young, male side.

You've been warned but I'm warning you again--

The heat of his meat knocked her right off her feet.

The clench of her drench caused his member to wrench.

The angle of his dangle coaxed her legs to untangle.

The shunt of her cunt made their pairing a stunt.

The rock of his cock made her swoon out of shock.

My Venus, your penis and no distance between us.

The semen was gleamin' with its gametes a streamin'.

His juice made a sluice of her shapely caboose.

Her pussy, so cushy left his Johnson all mushy.

The throb of his knob caused his partner to sob.

Her poon, moist cocoon, made him come way too soon.

Poon tang, his thang, they love to bang.

RIND--a poem

 A perfect orb of outer skin.
All pores and dimpled, thick.
Protects the citrus fruit within
It makes the moisture stick.

The slab of green hard smoothness hugs
Pink watermelon flesh.
Protection from persistent bugs,
Keeps innards wet and fresh.

Your velvet white and leathered hide.
Rank breeding ground for mold.
Protecting, ripened cheese inside,
Its pungency you hold.

Bubbled, lumpy, puffed up big
Sad, morbid, crispy snack.
Protects no more, the murdered pig.
Wants life and skin brought back.

Betrayer, wrinkles as I age
Mottled, sagging, plundered.
Protector of myself you gauge,
My youth has gone asunder.


I find the trait detestable,
On which I’m loathe to dwell.
His words come out high decibel.
My honey likes to yell.

The children used to quake upon
Inception of his knell.
But now inured, they merely yawn.
Their daddy likes to yell.

The dog went deaf, no longer hears
His shouts meant to compel.
Spot looks at him, and cocks his ears.
The master likes to yell.

The cat hides out under the couch
When volume starts to swell.
His tail puffed up, he keeps a crouch.
Crazed nut case likes to yell.

The neighbors’ kids steer clear and far.
No longer try to sell
Their cookies, candies, discount cards
‘Cause Mister likes to yell.

At night my sugar’s fevered pitch
Does nothing much to quell
My frazzled nerves.  It’s such a bitch
That dearest likes to yell.

My parents fought. Their voices brought
Hostility and hell.
And this is why I’d rather not
Hear sweetie start to yell.

So please, I beg, it means so much.
My words I hope impel
Your anger stream dammed up a touch.
My darling— please—DON’T YELL!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


For more Yelp reveiws:

This is what happened to me when I contacted Sears Appliance Repair. Don't let it happen to you.

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"


"Sears Who?"

"Sears. You know. We sell populist items. Tools, clothes, furniture, appliances, things in catalogs, automotive stuff. Pretty much anything you could want as long as you don't read glossy magazines like, New Yorker, Gentlemen's Quarterly, Vanity Fair, Architectural Design, House Beautiful, Sunset, Dwell... You know--Anything that suggests good taste or whiffs of snootiness. 'Cuz then you'd be expecting WAY too much. Pay attention bitch: If you wanna buy your huzby some underwear, or buy yourself a lawnmower, WE DA MAN!"

"Uh.... Right.  Great. I'm hoping to get someone out here to repair our oven."

"Sure. We do that. We gotta service plan. It's a GREAT deal.

"Uh, huh. What else you got?"

"Oh. We got something that doesn't sound all that good and really wouldn't be right for you."

"Uh. Yeah. OK. How about we go with the service plan?"

"Great. You've made a WISE decision ma'am. Our soonest appointment is Friday afternoon from 1-5."

"Really? You don't have anything sooner?"

"1-5 Friday afternoon. That's the soonest ma'am."

"OK. All right. We need to get this thing fixed before our tenant moves in.  Let's do it."

"OK ma'am. Your credit card will be charged 279.00$ and a technician will be out on Friday."

"Geeze. Credit card charged already? Well, OK. Thank you."

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Not Sears.

Hello Missing Sears technician:
I was expecting you Friday between 1 and 5. I waited in my stupid interview skirt and lame-looking job-hunting heels. I snipped roses, watered ferns, made phone calls to friends, scrutinized the carpet cleaners' work, waited for my favorite neighbor to come home and offer me a beer, watched residents speed by never wondering why my car isn't parked in the driveway anymore but, gosh, there it is today.   I did my best to stay productive and occupied.  You never showed. At 5 o'clock on the dot (it IS Friday, let me remind you) I left our rental house and came home. Was I angry about my wasted afternoon? Yeah, you could say that.

I called.

Ring, ring.

Who's there?

Sears, not a person but an automated, push the right key service. It took a long wait to get a human on the line.

"Hello. I've been waiting for someone for the past  4 HOURS and no one showed up at the house!"

"I'm checking your request. I show the technician has left their last job 7 minutes ago. They are on their way to your house."

"Well I'm not there anymore. It's now 5:20. I don't live there. I waited all afternoon for your person to show up and at 5:00 I gave up and came home."

"They're on their way now ma'am. "

"Well no one's gonna be there.  I waited 4 hours. No one showed. I came home.  I want to reschedule."

"OK, ma'am. It's gonna cost you."

"WHAT? No one showed. I waited from 1-5 And NO ONE SHOWED!"

"If you look at your contract ma'am, you'll see that honoring the suggested time is not mentioned."

"I...WHAT? You said 1-5. I was there. No one showed up. It's Friday afternoon!"

"Sorry about that ma'am."

"I want to cancel my contract. I don't expect to be charged for this."

"There may be a charge since the technician showed up to your house. They checked in at 5:21. They arrived and no one was there."

"Right.  Because I'm now at my house.  I don't live at the other house anymore.  I don't expect to be charged for this. May I please speak to your manager?"

"You can speak to someone in customer care about canceling your agreement."

"But will I be charged? I want to be clear on this. May I speak to your manager?"


"NO!? What's your name?"


"What's your last name?"

"I don't have to tell you that. Would you like to talk to someone in customer care ma'am?"


"Please hold the line and I'll transfer you and thank you for choosing Sears."

Customer care cancelled the service agreement. The conversation was short, not sweet and ended with "Thank you for choosing Sears."

Trust me. I won't make that mistake again.

Sherry , I see you there slunk down behind your computer screen in your sucky cubicle dealing with crabby customers all day while you suck down diet Coke and watch the clock, counting the seconds until you punch out. That's your JOB, sweetie.  You signed up for it, sister. You may want to rethink your career. I don't think dealing with customers is your forte.

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"

"Not me ever again calling you, Sears."

Chris Isaak Plays Rodney Strong

This is another Yelp reveiw I thought you might find amusing:

This is a review of Chris Isaak's performance at Rodney Strong Vineyards on August 29.

Before I get carried away let me just say this:
Why does anyone bother paying wads of dough to buy concert tix and then yack their way through the entire thing? Even if you do consider yourself a music critic (and apparently you do) why don't you just shut the hell up and let the rest of us decide if WE'RE enjoying it or not. Or walk out. No one paid to hear you flap your yap during a concert. Zip it, Zippy. I'm lookin' at YOU Mr. and Ms. Pinhead from Mill Valley/Tiburon.


Rodney Strong is a terrific concert venue. It's not too large, engendering a feeling of intimacy. You never feel like the show is so far away that maybe you should check your email or see if someone responded to your desperate plea for attention on Facebook. Summer weather in Healdsburg is generally hospitable; we never needed the blanket we brought. There's good wine to drink. The occasional Monarch flutters by. No mosquitos. And the twilight brings the flitting of bats in the distance. I suppose if it were quiet enough you'd be able to hear the grapes ripen. But hey--it's a concert. No quiet allowed.

Mia Dyson was really good--another whiskey-voiced sister souljah in the ranks which include Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams (God, if only she COULD sing!) Susan Tedeschi and their ilk. She played guitar and sang while Michael Lindsey drummed and backed up her vocals. Big, strong sound coming out of a gal on the the tinier side of average. Think of a 2010 Pat Benetar but with more oomph and less makeup and hair gel. She did a great version of Lucinda's "Can't Let Go" along with some other good stuff ending with a song called "Romeo". She packed a wallop in the 1/2 hour she was allotted. A great opener for Chris Isaak.

When CI and his band took the stage (right on time--no waiting--no hype) it was still light out. That hot pink, spangly suit seemed so out of place amidst the fields of vines and yet he got the joke by making fun of the suit and then one-upped himself later in the show by coming out in a mirrored job. Chris, I gotta tell you, your best look is that form-fitting black T-shirt with black jeans because let's face it, your form is still fine. Leave the jazzy suits for when you're old and doughy. In fact, if you want to rock it shirtless, I believe you could pull it off. Let me know and I'll be there to check it out.

                                                 (photo credits Tim Amato)

Chris is a generous performer. His pipes (falsetto still intact) sound just like they used to 20 years ago. He's chatty, witty, still pretty and seems to LOVE his job. Well, why not? Being adored by giddy, horney, middle-aged women can't be ALL bad. Right? I mean, unless you're Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers or Taylor Momsen. (No worries for Taylor. Most middle-aged women are just hoping their daughters turn out a little less, shall we say, rough around the edges? ::cough, cough::).

Chris and his band rocked it for a bit more than two hours. He even invited 3 women audience members on stage to dance during "Dancin'". Be aware ladies, you want the front seats and if you dance like a modern-day Salome, you too may be selected to shake your groove thang right up there on stage next to Rollie and Herschel. Hotties, you were lookin' good! Next time Chris, pick me, PICK ME!

And Chris, or perhaps you prefer, Mr. Isaak, if there's one thing I can suggest it's this:
Let your hair answer nature's call. We know you've got a LEAST a little bit of grey creeping in. Let it show. You've earned it and it only adds to your cred. Just take a deep breath and put the Grecian Formula down. It'll look good, trust me.

So yeah! The show was great and ended early enough that we got home in time to wind down and mosey on to bed around 10:30 so we weren't too wrecked to start out the week. Yeah, we're THAT old. In fact, I manage to stay in a state of denial about my age until I'm in the midst of a bunch of oldster rock fans. Then it suddenly hits me: I'M one of  THEM. How did this happen? The last time I felt so aged was a summer ago at the Boz Scaggs concert at Wente. I almost cannot admit to being there except I CAN say it wasn't my idea. I caved to group politics. Sigh. I AM old.

For more of my Yelp reviews:

A Visit to Domaine Carneros

Some may know that I post reviews on Yelp as Novato A. I am including this review because thought it was amusing and hope you feel the same. Mr. Grumpy is Tim's chosen name for himself. He is also known as my stylist and the Huzby.

Here we go:

When Mr. Grumpy feels he's been seeing WAY too much of me in my gardening attire (I'm an unshowered vision of filth in an oversized hat, mud-spotted sweats or shorts, grimy flip flops, soil-encrusted gloves, with earthy swipes on my face that have me looking like a destitute potato farmer.) he feels the need to have me scrub down and spruce up. Apparently there's only so much seeing your wife as a dirt farmer a man can tolerate.  So every now and then--about once a month--I fulfill my wifely duty by donning my stylist-chosen Barbie clothes, slipping into some short-distance only high heels, slapping on some mascara and off we go to Domaine Carneros.

DC is a quick and pretty 25 minute drive from our house.  Once there, and seated in the members only section (Why, yes, as a matter of fact, we are members.) with a glass of complimentary bubbly it's easy to forget about all the things that are nagging you for attention at home. Your son's college applications and entrance essays, the dogs waiting impatiently for you in the study and wondering what that nice wood arm on the futon tastes like, the newly planted foliage that's cooking to a crisp in the hot sun, the 3 full laundry baskets that aren't getting any cleaner because you forgot to put a load in before you left, looking for a new job because if you get too comfortable in your recently unemployed state it's going to be that much harder putting on the yoke and getting back on track--you know, the usual annoyances that get in the way of life except that is seems that's what life's all about sometimes--doesn't it? Anyway...You don't think about that stuff.

You think about the beautiful view. You think about the lovely sparkling wine or perhaps the wondrous Pinot Noir single clone you are privileged to be sipping. You think about how lucky you are to live so close to wine country and to have a husband who joins wine clubs and has decided Domaine Carneros will suffice to undo the blighted vision you provide in your gardening togs. You think about the fact that you're hungry and could have a delicious light lunch of the salmon plate or the cheese plate or both since there are, after all, two of you here. You think about how nice the weather is. You think it's a good thing the Huzby is driving back and not you because--whew!--you're feeling a wee bit buzzed right at the moment. You think it'll be nice to come back in about a month and do it all again.

Yup. And then when you get home instead of getting a load of laundry going, checking the job listings, watering your plantlings, nagging your son who's not around anyway because he's bagging groceries at Lucky, you decide you might just lie down for a bit of a nap. But before you do that, you definitely let the dogs out of the study because you don't want to have to replace yet, another arm on the futon.


When  I woke this morning, out of nowhere, the thought fairy gifted me this:  
                                                                                                      Upper Volta.
And from that spawned the question:  Why do you never hear of anything happening in Upper Volta? This, I posed to the Huzby as he languished under the covers nearby.
Without hesitation he answered, “Because it’s now Burkina Faso.”
He didn’t ask me why I was asking. He didn’t say, “What in the world would make you ask a question like that?” Likewise, I didn’t ask how in God’s name he knew that Upper Volta was now called Burkina Faso. But I did ask for clarification.
“It’s called what?”
“Burkina Faso. At least I think that’s how you pronounce it.”
“Hmmmm. How do you spell it?”
“Something like B-U-R-K-I-N-A  F-A-S-O. I think that’s how it’s spelled.”
Then I complained about being sore (turns out I have a bit of a bug), and we kissed and got up. He fed the cat and the dogs. I went to the bathroom and quickly checked my email.
We met up in the kitchen for coffee (Huzby) and chai (me). We spoke of how we slept. We discussed if our anorexic mutt, Willie, ate all his breakfast. We agreed that it looked like the weather was going to be nice. Thus began our Thursday.
It occurs to me that married life is sometimes very odd. How can a kernel of thought—Upper Volta—so quickly melt down and sublimate into non-existence? Of course, Upper Volta truly doesn’t exist because it’s now known as Burkina Faso, but that’s beside the point.

I believe the Huzby has become too savvy to allow me to suck him down the rabbit holes of my mind. He refused to play Clark to my Lewis as I tried to explore the stream of consciousness that eddies and bubbles past the rocks and fallen branches in my brain. It’s taken knowing each other ten years, but it appears that I’m the only willing participant in the journey—at least today’s journey.  Huzby missed the boat ride to Burkina Faso while I jumped right on board.
And as I see Huzby heading into his study (cave) to begin his workday, his image fades while I cross the horizon toward Burkina Faso--an entry in Wikipedia suffices for the moment.

And I suddenly realize I forgot to ask another question:
                                   How come you never hear of anything ever happening in Burkina Faso?

For an interesting explanation on the renaming of Upper Volta and other countries please follow this link: http://www.nytimes.com/1989/10/22/magazine/on-language-bring-back-upper-volta.html