I’m Not An Addict…Well, Not Really

What it looks like when I get my way

We’re one week from the start of Season 5 of Breaking Bad. Steve and I started watching this show on the recommendation of some friends back in February. We watched through Season 1 together. We watched the first couple episodes of Season 2 together. But, we were watching late at night, and Steve (somewhat understandably) decided that staying up late on work nights watching a show that is as dark and disturbing was not something he needed to be doing. So, I continued watching the series by myself while riding my bike trainer during the days. I got through all four seasons by myself. I loved it. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the start of Season 5 and now it’s almost here, which is awesome.

For the past few months, I have been bugging Steve to catch up on the episodes so that when Season 5 starts we can share it like we shared LOST and Battlestar Galactica. He has been non-compliant. But, time is ticking away until the season premiere on July 15th. So, today I decided to turn up the heat. Knowing I could not possibly get him through three seasons in a week, I simply began telling him about the episodes, hoping to arouse his interest. He did not bite. I was getting impatient. I pulled up the seasons on my MacBook, trying both to refresh my memory (I finished the shows mid-March) and to prove to him I was serious about watching it again. He barely blinked an eye. I pleaded. I wheedled. I appealed to his kinder, sweeter nature by telling him that I really wanted him to watch it with me. He did not care.

While I was regrouping and working on a strategy, Joe came to me asking me to rent a movie for him tonight on iTunes. He was dying to watch some Fantastic Four film. The light bulb dawned. I told Joe that I would love to rent him a movie tonight, but he’d have to get his father to agree. He asked me how. I gave him a hint. I told him that Daddy and I had something we could watch tonight, so I would love to rent his movie if his father would agree to watch tv with me. A few minutes later, Steve walked into the kitchen and stood behind me.

“That was a new low for you. I can’t believe you used your son against me like that,” he said in a hushed voice.

I smiled out of the corner of my mouth. I got him.

So, tonight as I write this, I am sitting on my bed. The kids are asleep. Steve is sitting next to me, and we are watching our fourth episode of Breaking Bad Season 4. Yeah. I got my way. Not unlike a meth addict, I will do whatever it takes to get my fix.

I’ll Be Counting Sheep Tonight

“Dear nasty, wretched crow…SHUT UP!”

Thus began my day. Curled up in my sleeping bag, one eye open to the encroaching daylight, I wished for the first time in my life that I was in possession of a loaded pellet gun. I started to wonder what I was thinking when I suggested and arranged this last-minute camping trip.

Despite its unpleasant and abrupt beginning, the rest of the day unfolded into one well worth waking up for. After packing lunch and loading the FJ, we headed out of Marble up Colorado 133 toward Paonia, searching for adventure. We had done a little research and discovered we were just 30 miles from a dirt road that would take us over Kebler Pass and down into Crested Butte. Couldn’t pass it up. And, at the very least, it would get me away from the thieving crow that had robbed me of my peaceful mountain slumber.

We knew from our research that we would get a view of the world’s largest aspen forest. What we didn’t know was that our simple trek to Crested Butte would be delayed by free-range livestock. Our first meeting was with a rancher and his cattle. With the bovines marching down the center of the dirt road in front of our SUV, I could imagine the tourist postcard opportunity: “Colorado Rush Hour.” (Of course, as any Denver resident knows, our rush hours involve a lot fewer cows and a lot more stubborn mules and other assorted asses.)

Once we had safely bypassed the miniature cattle drive, Steve pulled off onto a small shoulder where we decided to picnic before the rain set in. While eating my sandwich I noticed a few sheep nestled into a meadow at the edge of a grove of aspen. I walked closer to investigate. There were easily 60 sheep resting there in among the trees. When they noticed me, they began bleating to one another. From across the road, more sheep called out to the larger flock. We had stopped for lunch unaware that we were in the midst of a sizable herd of free-range sheep. We finished our food, took some photos and video, and started down the other side of Kebler Pass on our way to Crested Butte, all the while rambling on about seeing those dang sheep.

On the way back up the pass heading back toward camp, the mountains offered us a different and even prettier view than before. We marveled at the immensity of the aspen forest which, in the intermittent rain showers, oddly resembled a rain forest. We began to look for the sheep again. Near where we had seen them before we saw a rancher in a bright yellow rain slicker walking with two large, white dogs. Simultaneously, using our vast and largely worthless knowledge of dog breeds, Steve and I both blurted out “Anatolian shepherds!” Anatolian shepherds are Turkish sheep dogs that live out with the flock full-time and serve as protectors. They are known to be incredibly independent and fearless. We used to joke that we needed an Anatolian shepherd to protect our wimpy Labrador retriever.

We drove beyond the dogs and rancher looking for the sheep. That’s when we realized that the large herd we had seen earlier was roughly one-quarter of the size of the entire herd now gathered at the top of the pass. I’ve never seen so many sheep in my life. We might as well have been in New Zealand. We stopped to stare at massive flock because we were suddenly feeling small and outnumbered. Steve grabbed his fancy camera, got out of the car, and headed back up the hill on foot for some sheep photos. Suddenly, his car door reopened and he jumped in.

“There’s an Anatolian shepherd running toward the car,” he huffed once safely inside.

Sure enough. Standing right there next to Steve’s car door was one of the large shepherds we had seen. He eyed Steve cautiously and then walked around to insinuate himself between the car and the sheep. I unrolled my car window to get a photo of him. He looked at me cautiously but without ill intent. He was doing his job, protecting his flock. As the hundreds of sheep moved through the ferns and underbrush beneath the towering aspens bleating calls to each other, I was in awe. It was odd and pastoral and yet perfectly Colorado.

Sometimes, the adventure you set out on is quite different than the one that opens before you. We had planned nothing more than a pleasant afternoon drive to Crested Butte. Instead, we ended up in the middle of one of the coolest things we’d ever seen in the Colorado high country. Colorado is consistently breathtaking, but it’s the unexpected treasures that make living here a privilege.

20120705-204141.jpg

Everything Including The Kitchen Sink…Just Not The Stove

20120704-101804.jpg

As I was writing my blog yesterday, I forgot one important component of the planning, packing, and loading aspect of camping. I am not the only adult in our house participating in these activities the day we leave. This morning as we were preparing to head out, I quickly remembered how having a second set of hands is both a blessing and a curse.

As the clock ticked ever closer to our prospective departure time, it seemed we (and by “we” I mean Steve) kept finding more stuff we needed to bring with us. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore my husband. He is probably the most honest and genuine person I have ever known. But, he is cautious and protective. He loves gear and gadgets meant to make life easier and more enjoyable, but when it comes time to leave he can’t necessarily recall what he has or where it is. Consequently we have approximately 5,000 bottles of sunscreen and insect repellant…all of which I’m sure are in either the car or the camper right now.

In the chaos of trying to get out of the house, with two people trying to collect necessities, we’ve in the past forgotten important items. I’m currently wondering if this will be the case today because as we’re in the car and driving now, we just had this conversation.

“Do we have enough propane canisters?” Hubby inquires.

“I believe we have about six canisters in various stages of emptiness. That should be plenty,” I reply. Then a thought occurs to me. “Did you pack the camp stove?”

His vacant stare is my answer.

“Isn’t it in the camper?” he asks, his tone dripping with desperation.

“I don’t know. Since we didn’t open it, I am not sure. It wasn’t in the garage?”

“I didn’t look for it,” came the answer.

In trying to keep with my “what’s the worst that can happen” mindset, I made the conscious decision not to fret about it. We may or may not have the camp stove, which we will need to heat the foods I prepared in advance because of the fire ban and the fact that the propane canister on our camper has been empty for years. (Do not get me started on that topic.) Either way, I am sure that our weekend will be fine. We will merely be eating a lot of cold sandwiches rather than hot food. We’re not going to starve. It’s just a small hiccup in what will otherwise be a great weekend. At least, that’s what I am telling myself as I recall the large bottle of sweet tea vodka I do remember packing before we left.

What’s Your Name Again?

Text from Joe

Yesterday morning we planned to escape our house at 4:30 a.m. to make it to the starting point for our MS150 ride. Our children decided to wake up early with us to say goodbye, which we thought was sort of sweet. We know they won’t always care whether we’re around or not, so we try to appreciate the moments when they appear to like us. At 4:35, we were pretty much ready to go, their aunt was here to take over for us, and so we began to say our goodbyes. Luke, our affectionate but more independent child, hugged us and was ready to go back to bed. Joe, however, got very sad. He was near tears, requested repeated hugs, and was delaying our departure quite effectively.

“Joe…what is the matter?” I asked.

“I just don’t want you to go,” he replied.

“Why? Are you just going to miss us that much?”

“Yes.”

“Well…I think you’re just tired. You’ll be fine after you get some more sleep.”

For as much as he was carrying on, though, I began to wonder if he sensed something dire for us on our ride. Did he know something we didn’t know? I shook that nasty little thought out of my head.

“We will see you tomorrow afternoon by 4,” I assured him and then we escaped.

Knowing his state of mind when we left, I recorded a video message for him and sent it to his iPad last night when he was not yet home from a day of fun with his aunt. We desperately needed some rest, so we turned out the lights at 8:15 after the message was sent.

This morning we awoke to determine he had texted me for a conversation at 10:43 last night and tried to FaceTime his father at 10:45. Crazy kid.

Later today, we were waiting in a shady spot for our team to gather so we could ride through the finish line together when a text came in from Joe. He was asking us to come home. I texted back and told him we’d be home in “about” an hour. Exactly 57 minutes later he texted again. (Clearly I have spoiled him by being true to my word.) I told him we were about fifteen minutes away.

When I walked in the door, Joe yelled “Mom” and ran to give me a hug. Luke joined him. It was such a nice welcome home after our long weekend of riding. I told them that we would unload the car and then we could catch up. In the few minutes it took us to get our stuff back in the house, the boys had disappeared into a neighbor’s house to play with their kids. Guess that shows how much they missed us. I’ll consider myself fortunate that they remembered my name at all.

 

 

 

Some Things Are Worth Saving For Later

One of four pages of ticket stubs I have from my sordid teenage years. Concerts have always been my thing.

Tonight I’m going back to the 80’s to see The English Beat with a few girlfriends. Two of these friends have known me for a very long time. I’ve known Kerry since grade school, and I met Kayla in the 7th grade. I liked Kerry right away because she had a nice Polish last name like mine, and I thought Kayla was so sophisticated because she had an eyelash curler and had heard of U2 before anyone else I knew. I try not to think about the things these girls witnessed because I’m still trying vehemently to deny some events from my teenage years. (Hopefully their ability to remember is as poor as mine.) One of the reasons I hoped I would not have a daughter was because I was once a teenage girl. I never liked teenage girls. Not even when I was a teenage girl. Oh…the game playing, the conniving, the rumors, the theatrics! I could fill books with my idiocy. Wait. I did. I kept a journal all those years. It’s horrifying.

All this preparing myself for a night out with friends I’ve known for over 30 years got me to thinking about the first real sleepover party I attended. I was 13. It was at Sandy’s house across the street from my own. Sandy, like Kayla, was also very sophisticated. She had moved here from North Carolina and she introduced me to great music from Elvis Costello. She and Kayla slowly divested me from my parents’ music, which consisted of Sonny and Cher and Barry Manilow. Not kidding. Anyway, the sleepover that night was typical. There was music, candy, and silly girl antics.

At one point, someone took my bra, got it wet, and stuck it in the freezer while I was off doing something incredibly lame like jumping around singing songs from Foreigner 4. When it came time to go to bed, I crawled into my sleeping bag to find it wet. There I discovered my once-frozen training bra (which never really got much beyond the training stage, sadly), which had been placed inside the flannel bag and was now completely thawed. Ugh. I was beyond annoyed. Being a teenage girl, I pitched a little hissy fit, took my sleeping bag, and in an overly dramatic fashion stomped myself right out of the house and right across the street to my own comfortable and dry bed. Party pooper.

I look back on those days now and roll my eyes. (Some teenage girl behaviors are never lost). So many stupid things in so few years. Most of them done in the name of some silly boy whom I can barely remember now. Luckily, most of my friends from those days lived those naive, childish moments right along with me. Kerry and I once drank too much and upon hearing her parents come home dumped the remaining contents of our opened beers into her fish tank. Brilliant. Kayla and I used to spend hours sitting outside the Rainbow Music Hall talking to cute, mod boys while waiting to hear bands who hadn’t yet made it big…bands like The Cure and INXS…hoping we’d meet them or at least catch a glimpse of them getting off their tour bus. We did get a signature once from the drummer of Wang Chung (back in their Dance Hall Days, before the horribly overrated Everybody Wang Chung tonight nonsense). I suppose it was all part of being a teenage girl.

I don’t miss those days, but I am infinitely glad I’ve still got some friends from that time in my life now. I’m giddy to see Dave Wakeling and The English Beat tonight at the Bluebird. For a few hours, I won’t even care if their music makes me feel 13 again. I won’t stop myself from singing “Tears of a Clown” too loudly, all the while remembering the immature boy who broke my heart when I was so much younger than I am now. And, as I’m dancing with my friends to “Save It For Later,” everything will be right with the world. Although I’ve put drama of my teenage years behind me, the best things from those days still make me happy.

Do Not Darken My Door…Unless You Are A Girl Scout

What does NO mean exactly? Am I confused?

This evening, after five consecutive 100+ degree days with air permeated by smoke from wildfires, we experienced a brief period of rain at our house and were able to open our doors and windows to breathe some fresh and slightly cooler air. It felt like the first day of spring. It was heavenly. It was peaceful. It was interrupted…by a ring of our doorbell. A twenty-something gentleman wearing a dress shirt and tie was at our door. Damn. We were caught at home. No denying our presence with him staring right at us through our open door while we ate our dinner. I hate it when that happens!

Hubby, who gets to be in charge of these type of situations because I refuse, approached the door. The young man started in with his sales pitch. Steve cut him off.

“We don’t accept solicitations,” he said as firmly but politely as he could.

“What about peddlers? Do you accept peddlers?” he quipped.

I had to give it to him. He has clearly been doing this for a while. He was quick with the lines.

“Nope. We don’t accept those either. Sorry,” Steve said with conviction.

The man started explaining why he was here. Steve cut him off again.

“Someone in this neighborhood is going to call the cops on you,” he said.

Wow. I thought that was pretty bold of Steve to say, even though it was fairly likely true. Our neighborhood has a strict no-solicitation policy. It is posted at the front entrance on the main thoroughfare. Any business solicitor who is in our neighborhood must have a permit obtained from the City of Littleton and must be able to provide a copy of it for homeowners if asked. If not, they are not legally allowed to go door-to-door in our neighborhood. Lots of neighborhoods and cities have these types of laws, but not many people are aware of them. Thanks to our overzealous community members who get annoyed about every single little thing (not kidding…one woman managed to get hot air balloons banned from flying over our neighborhood from the state park across the road), we know about this law. This law does not actually mean anything because salespeople still approach our doorstep non-stop and our only recourse is to file a complaint about them, but at least when they show up we have a nice way to explain why we’re closing the door in their face.

But, what gets me every single time is why we feel at all feel a need to explain ourselves to someone who shows up unannounced and uninvited on our doorstep. Steve and I are genuinely nice people most of the time. I suppose this is our problem. If we were mean, we wouldn’t care. We’d just slam the front door and go on about our day without a second thought. Instead, we were taught to be polite, so we make excuses, we get into discussions, we converse with these people because they’re human beings. Even though we’re not buying what they’re selling, we somehow feel obligated to listen to them. It’s crazy. It’s our house. This is our property. We’re grown adults. We should feel completely comfortable sitting at our dining table ignoring the interruption because it’s our right to do so and there’s a sign posted directly above our doorbell noting our stance on unwelcome visitors. Still, we explain our behavior to these strangers as if we need to. We allow them to encroach upon our time when we shouldn’t. It’s borderline pathetic.

I think it’s time for Steve and I to stop being so dang nice to these interlopers. I swear, the next time a solicitor steps up to our open door, we are going to be changed people. We will be brave and resilient. We will resist the temptation to explain ourselves. We will walk to the door, simply say “no thank you,” close it, and go back to our meal without giving it another thought. No Soliciting means NO soliciting. Unless you’re selling Girl Scout cookies. Then No Soliciting means “I’ll take 8 boxes of Thin Mints, please.” What? You can never have too many Girl Scout Cookies.

The Quickest Way To Forget Your Troubles Is To Help Someone Else With Theirs

Bright and early on the second day of the MS150 last year. Cool enough for arm warmers. Wearing our team jersey. Go Goons!

This week I am focused on only one thing. Five mornings from now, hubby and I will be waking up at 4 and driving up to the starting location for this year’s Colorado MS150 ride. I’m trying to get excited about it. I am. It’s just not working. It’s not the riding I mind. I’ve trained. At least, I’ve trained as much as I have the previous two years when I’ve also done the ride. So, I think I’m ready to go on that front. I might be a bit sore next Monday, but I think that endurance, muscle, and seat-time wise, I’m ready to go. What’s freaking me out is the heat. While the current forecast for this weekend does not show us at 100 either Saturday or Sunday, it does show us in the high 90s. I’m not happy.

Truth is, I am what I call a “fair weather” rider. That means, I won’t ride when it’s below 50 because I don’t own the gear to stay warm enough and I really don’t want to buy it. Why would I? I have winter sports. I ski and snowshoe. I don’t need a nose frostbitten from cycling in freezing temps to make me feel I can get out in the winter. If there’s a good chance of any sort of precipitation, you can count me out of riding. Call me a wimp, but I shower plenty. I don’t need to go ride in the rain for that. And I choose not to ride when the temperature exceeds 85. So, training in this high and dry heat has been unpleasant. As I look toward a predicted high of 99 for Sunday’s ride, I feel myself shriveling up.

I’m going to do it, though. Well…barring heat stroke, hospitalization, and heavy smoke from the fires I’m going to do it. Why? Because I can suffer through two days in extreme heat on my bike to help raise awareness about MS in our state. I know too many people and families affected by this disease not to. Years ago, when I started doing these long-distance, fundraising events, I realized something about myself. I whine too much for too little reason. I’m healthy. My family is healthy. We have all our needs met and then some. It feels good to take the focus off myself for a few minutes. It’s humbling. It reminds me that I’m part of something bigger than the microcosm that is our family. I’m connected to others. So, I’m going to put on my big girl panties, deal with the heat, and ride for Michelle, Gretchen, Amy, Suzanne, Brad, Stacey, and the other 9,000 people living with MS in Colorado.

If you find yourself compelled to push yourself with athletic events, look for ones that support a worthy cause. There are oodles of charities that run wonderful events that would love your help. Yes. You have to raise money or pay a higher entry fee. You can do it. It is possible. I’ve done it six times now. I’ve never missed my minimum fundraising goal. And, in the end, the payout you get from helping someone else while achieving a goal for yourself is nothing but a win-win.

 

Today’s First World Problem…Solved

Steve enjoying the solution to our first world problem.

It’s been hot. Ridiculously hot. Today’s mountain bike ride with hubby, undertaken at 10:30 a.m., was conducted in 91 degree heat. By 2 p.m. when we were driving to REI our car registered a balmy 102. Three days ago, we saw 104 degrees, just one degree shy of the highest ever recorded temperature in Denver. To make matters worse, the entire state is a tinderbox. Firefighters are currently battling thirteen wildfires, which is five more than they were battling this morning. The smoke hangs heavy in the air reminding us that not only is it hot but it’s flaming hot. I’m starting to wonder when Satan will drop in for a visit because Hell is feeling a little chilly by comparison.

Tonight we’d planned to go to a neighborhood concert in the park, but as 5 p.m. rolled around we realized there was no way we were sitting outside for two straight hours in the hot, hot heat. Instead, we came home and collapsed in the air-conditioned comfort of our house. Then, the seemingly impossible happened. There was cloud cover and a slight breeze. We ventured out into the backyard to sit on our lovely flagstone patio, a patio that we haven’t had much of an opportunity to enjoy yet this summer. As we sat at our wrought iron table in the shade of our Japanese maple tree, we were still mostly baking. While the sun had abated, the heat remained far too noticeably.

“How do people who live near the equator stand it?” I whined. “It’s summer. I’m supposed to be able to enjoy the nice weather. I’m supposed to be able to enjoy the yard we worked on during the spring. It’s too hot to sit out here. Next year I’m not going to bother gardening.”

“This sounds like a first world problem,” Steve replied, hoping to shut me up.

“Well…I need a solution to my first world problem. The folks in the Congo are used to this. I am not.”

“You can always go back into your air conditioned house,” he suggested. It was a delicately veiled attempt to get rid of me, though, and I was not going that easily.

“Wait a second. Wait just one second,” I perked up. “Didn’t your parents buy us that crazy misting fan years ago? Where is that thing?”

“It’s in the basement, I think,” he replied with interest.  “I’ll go look for it.”

A few minutes later Steve emerged with this enormous fan that his parents had bought us years ago. I balked when it had arrived, wondering when we would use such a thing and where we would store it when we weren’t using it. In fact, we’d only used it once, about four summers ago. The past several summers have been far too cool and wet to warrant its presence. Steve plugged it in, hooked it up to the hose, and voila! We were enjoying the wasteful luxury folks in Vegas and Phoenix know so well…a misted patio.

The misted patio, of course, needed happy hour drinks. We poured ourselves a couple cocktails, settled back into our chairs, and reveled in the comfort provided by our own personal patio saver. We spent a couple minutes discussing how fortunate we are to have first world problems and not third world problems. Our eleven year old, who had joined us briefly, inquired about the difference.

“Well, a first world problem is not being able to find the cord to charge your iPod. A third world problem is having the well in the town run dry,” I told him. “What happens if your well runs dry?”

“You die of thirst,” Joe answered.

“Right,” I said. “And what happens if you lose your iPod charger?” I asked him.

“You buy a new one,” he replied.

“Yep. You see the difference between the things we deal with and the things other people in this world struggle with?”

“Uh huh,” he said, thoughtfully, before departing for the frigid basement.

As we sat reflecting on how blessed we are to have only first world problems to deal with, I realized that the metal chair I was resting my flip-flopped feet on was a bit hard on my heels.

“I need a pillow for under my feet,” I told Steve, hoping he would take the hint.

“Looks like you have a new first world problem,” was his answer.

“Yes,” I said. “I need a new servant apparently. The old one is becoming more and more unreliable.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Love A Good Food Fight…Just Not This One

My green-eyed house cat eats his bowl of tuna.

“As a child, I was what is known as a ‘fussy eater.’ ‘Fussy eater’ is a euphemism for ‘big pain in the ass.'”  ~George Carlin

My kids are weird eaters. Some would say they are picky eaters, but they’re not. They’re just plain weird. Joe likes foods many kids eschew (that is, won’t chew), which is why he is weird. My oldest loves all kinds of fish, except for frozen fish sticks. He once ordered trout at a restaurant and ate the entire serving on his plate, including the fish skin. He will eat any vegetable. He loves milk but won’t touch fruit juice. As a rule, he’s a fairly healthy eater, although none of the foods on his plate can touch each other and he has to eat his meal one item at a time. Heaven forbid he get a piece of corn on the fork along with his chicken. Luke, on the other hand, is your typical kid. He love chicken nuggets, pizza, and peanut butter and jelly. To the best of my knowledge, he has never ingested and then actually digested any vegetable. Ever. He will only eat two fruits…bananas and applesauce. He will eat organic strawberry yogurt but you couldn’t pay him to touch an actual strawberry, and Luke will do nearly anything for money. They both love french bread, bacon, and brownies. Neither will eat lettuce, cheese, or ketchup. Today for lunch Joe ate a can of tuna. No. Really. A can of tuna. If I start turning the can opener, he comes running like the family cat. (Recently, though, he learned about mercury in fish so now he limits himself to one can of tuna per week.) Weird.

For a while when they were younger, I tried to force the food issue with Luke to get him to branch out. Due to his gag reflex and aversion to certain textures, though, all that usually got me was a handful of Luke puke. The more I pushed him to try new foods, the more resistant he became. So, I stopped. Our pediatrician, the sweetest older gentleman in the world, told me to let it be. He had overseen the health of over 15,000 children and he assured me the boys were growing along on a steady curve. They both had excellent muscle tone and healthy skin. They need calories and as long as they’re getting them and growing, there is no reason to be concerned.

I grew up in a house where if you didn’t like dinner, you went hungry. We ate what was served or else. That was how it worked. There are starving children in Africa, you know? This is why I took up the food fight initially with my kids. It was a power thing. My parents had carried out this battle with me and, out of familiarity, I fought with my own kids about food. Eventually I understood that the food fight I was waging with my kids was more about control than it was about food or health. When I let it go, I began to see a change. Since we decided to stop pestering them about their food choices, both boys have become more willing to try new things. Go figure.

My kids are not the first humans in the history of the world to be weird, fussy eaters. The Beaver wouldn’t eat Brussels sprouts. The brothers in the commercial never thought they’d get picky Mikey to eat a bowl Life cereal. In the holiday family classic, A Christmas Story, the mother told her son to show her how to “eat like the little piggies do” to coax him into eating his dinner. My father-in-law, who has traveled the world and eaten the cuisine, went through a phase as a boy when all he would eat was bread with cream and brown sugar. My awesome friend Tracy will not eat “vegetablows” (her term, not mine). And, let’s not forget the dude in the Dr. Seuss book who flat out refused to eat green eggs and ham. Yes. My kids can seem a bit high maintenance with their food aversions, but wherever we go we can usually find something they are willing to eat. While I know it bothers some people (like my entire family) that they’ve got their particular tastes, it no longer vexes me. Weird eating habits notwithstanding, my boys are great kids. I’m sure they’ll turn out just fine. They might not, however, eat your special green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.

The Night Red Cups Stopped Reminding Me Of Beer Pong

Red cups will never be the same for me.

(Author’s Note: The following is a true and cautionary tale. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. Sorry, Hon.)

My husband is in all ways decent man. He has nary a character flaw to whine about, unless you count his nearly constant worry about his family. I’m blessed to have such a wonderfully good-natured spouse. I truly am. Let’s face it. He’d have to be to remain married to me for nearly 17 years. Still, there have been times that I have to wonder what in the holy hell is in his head.

I met my friend Lisa at Starbucks for coffee at 7 p.m. I didn’t get home until 10:10 because we’d lost track of the time. I pulled into the garage, exited my SUV, and walked up to the door. I turned the knob and realized hubby had locked the door.

Steve often locks the door from the house to the garage. It’s a pet peeve of mine. We have a home security system that we set religiously and a fearful dog with sharpish and pointed teeth and the will to use them. Beyond that, we have relatively little in our house that’s nice enough to be worth stealing. I know he’s just being cautious and protecting his family, but when he knows I’ll be home soon why on earth does he feel compelled to lock the door? Does he think someone’s going to come and abduct him? Sometimes I think it’s some sort of subconscious, passive-aggressive tactic to aggravate me since he’s normally so mild-mannered and accepting of my copious flaws. I have to wonder.

Anyway, I dig through my purse looking for my keys only to remember that I’ve left them on the kitchen counter because everyone was home for the evening and I wasn’t going to be out late. Crap. So, I knock on the door several times and wait for him to do what he usually does…approach to unlock it, uttering an apology I can hear through the door. I wait. I wait. No one is coming. He must be upstairs with the boys. So, I escalate my knocking by kicking the door very hard several times. I leave marks with my shoes. Certainly he will hear that, right? Nope. Are you kidding me? I open the garage door again figuring that he must be upstairs in the boys’ room, which is why he can’t hear me. I ring the doorbell on the front porch. Repeatedly. About a million times until I’m going to short the stupid thing out and start a fire. That will get their attention. Still, no one comes.

It’s at this point that I begin to realize that they’re probably asleep. It’s not unusual for Steve to go hang out in the boys’ room while they’re falling asleep. I figure the only chance I have of them hearing me is if I go around to the back of the house and call up to their open window. So, I do that. Not a peep. No lights turn on. No reply at all. I can’t yell for long because I’m trying not to let the neighbors know that my crazy husband has locked me out. From 10:10 to 11:10, fueled by annoyance, I knock, ring the doorbell, kick the doors, honk the car horn, try to open windows I can reach, yell up to the open window, and even throw rocks at it trying to get someone’s attention. Apparently, I’m invisible. A light bulb clicks in my brain. The fan must be on. When our whole house fan is on you couldn’t hear a 747 land in the bedroom. I’m screwed.

Finally, I go back to my car, close the garage door in resignation, and decide I might as well try to fall asleep in my car. What I discover is that a luxury SUV is not particularly luxurious when employed as a sleeping compartment. Around 1:30 a.m. I am still awake, sitting in my car, livid. I’ve had to pee three times, courtesy of a decaf grande skinny vanilla latte and a bottle of water I wished I had not ingested. That unladylike scenario involved a red Solo cup and a skill I learned very well while pregnant. Nothing like peeing in your own garage to make you feel like the family dog. Wait. The family dog was asleep inside the house while I was locked in the garage. Curious.

I considered going to a hotel, but knew that when hubby finally awoke he would probably notify the National Guard that I was missing. Besides, I had faith that sooner or later he would wake up and notice I was gone, right? He did not. Joe did. Joe woke up, walked into our bedroom to have me tuck him back into bed, noticed I was missing, and told his dad. Around 3:30 a.m. I heard the lock on the door to the garage unlock and saw the door open. Steve noticed my car was there and started to close the door again, presumably comforted because clearly I was home. I opened the car door and yelled to get his attention.

He looked like Bigfoot in headlights. He was in serious trouble. He appeared to be contemplating slamming and locking the door again to avoid the ugly situation. He apologized profusely, but I did not care. I was exhausted. I was angry. I was temporarily not speaking to him. I’d had to pee in a red cup. Beer pong was forever ruined for me.