Archive | August, 2011

What’s In a Name? Free Whiskey

30 Aug

A mother goes into a whiskey joint with her eight, six and four-year olds. You might think this is a joke. But it’s so not. Earlier this summer, my kids and I took the vacation destination less traveled and visited the Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. No, I was not trying to find a substitution for the periodically administered allergy medication that helps my children along in their afternoon naps.  I took my young ones on a pilgrimage to see their birthright. Well, sort of. See, my husband and his family are direct descendents of Jim Beam founder, T. Jeremiah Beam. How close are we to old Jeremiah? Supposedly, the grand distiller himself is a “great to the second power” uncle. I like to say we’re close enough to the company to share the name, but distant enough not to see any of the profits.

It’s tough being a Beam. Since I have not had the name for my full 36 years of existence, I wasn’t prepared for the jokes. When check-out clerks see your credit card, they think it’s funny to ask if Jim is my father. Total confusion for me, because Jim IS my father-in-law, brother-in-law and grandfather-in-law. Normally I try to have a witty reply like yes, and Jack Daniels is my uncle. But then I realize that they might actually know my husband’s relatives. If I’m too sarcastic, they might report back that I’m the bad wife. Or even that I’m the drama queen drunk of the brood. Which I am, but only at graduation parties, weddings, and Christmas dinner.

I wonder if other famous family names receive equal attention? Paris Hilton makes good use out of her ties to the Hilton hotel chain. You know she utilizes the free rooms to her, let’s just say, advantage. Where do you think “One Night in Paris” was most likely filmed? And, I bet she doesn’t even own HBO. Anytime she wants to watch Entourage or soft-core porn, she just checks in. Sigh. What a life!

And how about Walt Disney’s relatives? I can honestly say, I’ve never met someone with the last name of Disney. I had to google if he even had children. I would have bet ten Disney pins that he died childless much like the guy who founded Hershey Chocolates or Mother Theresa. People that pure and good shouldn’t be able to reproduce. But no, he has a slew of great-grand kids. I assume they constantly fend off cryogenic jokes. When Disney’s head returns to life 20 years from now, we’ll see who’s laughing. Most likely it will be old Walt himself in a jar of formaldehyde. I reckon the family can spend the night in that darn Cinderella’s castle at any time of their choosing just for paying the electric bill on the freezer.

And don’t even get me started on the female heirs to the Hoover vacuum fortune. Just think of the phrases that’s been sucked through their ears!

As to my family’s claim to fame, we really do not take advantage of great-great uncle Jeremiah nearly enough. Even at the distillery, we couldn’t score a private tour. I had to say quite loudly while in the massive touring group that indeed we were Beam’s. I never get the chance to throw my name around other than at the local gymnastic venue where I lie and say my father-in-law was Balance. Plus, I was hoping that the others would understand why a mother would bring her offspring to such an establishment if they thought we were just trying to see their grandpa’s namesake. Surely Phillip Morris’ descendants tour the cigarette factories without fear of negative backlash, at least two packs of non-menthol lights and some killer health insurance. In the end, I was offered only two jigs of whiskey. Not the 50 percent of the business I was hoping for, but at least it was a start. The kids ate bourbon balls. Makers say that the bourbon cooks off, but I’m still unsure. My oldest kept hitting on an 80 year old British lass with blue hair and long yellow toenails protruding from her orthopedic sandals. If that’s not seeing through drunk goggles, I’m not sure what is.

Other than a buzz, my kids also learned an important lesson from our alcoholic adventure. They now understand that your name can only get you so far in life. Your actions and words must do the rest. That and the fact that good whiskey must be aged in an oaken barrel for years is something that they can’t learn in the classroom. Or a bar.

The Madness of Homemaking Mammas

23 Aug

Research has finally proven a hypothesis that I have been maniacally maintaining for the past eight years. Foxnews.com has reported that stay-at-home moms tend to have more mental health issues than those mammas working outside the home. According to research conducted by Katrina Leupp, a Grad Student at the University of Washington, employed mothers particularly face less depression than their exclusively homemaking counterparts. So suck my big toe, Kelly Ripa with your cute family, fulfilling job and thighs so perfect Colonel Sanders would have had them breaded and deep-fried. My family and I can outdo you on crazy any day of the week.

My feud with Ripa aside, several reasons exist why stay-at-home moms demonstrate symptoms of depression more than other gainfully employed madres. People normally cite the stress of having a one-income household and the loneliness of being a mother as a basis for the findings. I do admit that some days I chat with telemarketers just so I can have some adult conversation. You know when a guy who barely speaks English hangs up on you while conducting a political poll, you may have a loneliness problem. When you ask if he could arrange a second marriage for your husband just so you can have help and companionship, you need to be admitted to the local mental hospital. Luckily the nearest one didn’t take our insurance, or I’d currently be restrained in a straight jacket that would be tighter than XS spandex biker shorts on J-Lo’s backside.

Yet, in my experience as a domestic diva, I have found another factor that contributes to the hardships of a housewife. To quote Rodney Dangerfield, we get no respect. Take for instance my incident at the local hospital. I needed to check in for some testing when the admission’s clerk, let’s call her Ms. Stickler, asked me where I was employed. I answered, “I’m a stay-at-home mother.” She then went on a spiel of how she must list me as unemployed in the system because I didn’t have a paying job. I countered that the government of all entities refuses to include us mommies who aren’t actively looking for work in their unemployment statistics, so therefore I must have some named occupation. Can’t we just say self-employed? Oh no. Obviously, it was her job to make my non-job seem all the more banal. I finally gave up on my mission and said at least staying at home with the kids has its perks. Alcoholism and other addictions are much easier to hide from elementary school children then from snotty coworkers. Ms. S didn’t laugh. CPS has yet to pay a visit, but I’m expecting them in the next few weeks.

Maybe I should move to Tunisia for respect. I just read an article on how a slightly insane political party encourages Tunisian women to quit their jobs and stay at home so that they may lower their male citizenry’s high unemployment rate. I’d just need to avoid getting stoned to death for speaking my mind or for wearing inappropriate clothing. Details. Why must there be drawbacks to everything?

If I do stay in the U.S, I’d like to see all women support each other regardless of their employment decisions. Females do an amazing job at degrading other women. Working mothers feel backlash for their professional choices, while stay-at-home mothers face criticism for their preferences. Yet we as mothers are all so much alike. Very few jobs allow you to be a nurse, maid, cook, tutor, negotiator, law enforcer and taxi driver and all in one day. Whether you are employed outside the home or not, motherhood comes without a salary, paid vacation or sick days. Normally we just receive precious kisses and some sweet hugs. We know through the years, those endearments will eventually mean more to us then an ounce of gold, even at the current exchange rates.

Maybe all of us mommies should ask our husbands to provide the above benefits plus a good 401K. So far I’ve not had much luck with my old man, but we have negotiated to have him match funds from all the money I save couponing. I plan on investing this into a broader portfolio that would include companies dedicated to the art of inducing sleepiness in children. I’ll use these earnings to pay the therapist for curing me of the post-traumatic mommy disorder. According to this research, maybe finding a full-time job would be a cheaper way of battling these supposed mental demons. However, I think I’ll just take two “I Love You” from my kids and call ‘em in the morning. Does anyone have Ripa’s cell?

Ode to a College Freshman

16 Aug

On Thursday, my nephew leaves for one of the greatest adventures of his life… his freshman year of college. For the first time ever, he’ll be living away from the home, and family, he has known for the past 18 years. During this transformation into university student, every young person deserves a mentor. Since my last protégé has been sentenced to 20 years in a Thai prison, I’m available to take on a new apprentice. Thus, nephew, here’s my unsolicited advice on how to conquer the collegiate conundrum.

First, really get to know your roommate. Share your class times with each other. Then, when you’re positive he’s at lecture, search through each and every one of his drawers, closets and pockets. Eavesdrop on his phone conversations. Do not give up until you find out all there is to know about the man that you cohabitate with. Then, make sure to document in a journal all of his illegal activities. You’ll be surprised when a good bit of blackmail material comes in handy.

Once you and the roomie are BFFs, concentrate on the main reason you are attending college- to party. However, do not go wild with all your newfound freedom. In fact, I warn against any form of alcoholic drinking. Don’t be like Aunt Amanda and get busted the week before classes begin with a beer bong and a six-pack of Natural Light in the “cool kids” dorm room. AA might sound like fun from the brochure, but in actuality the 12-step program is a heck of a lot worse than writing an essay on Thomas Hardy’s England. Plus, if you puke in your own bed, you now have to clean it up. So. Not. Fun. Trust me.

Instead of boozing it up at the local frat house, attend as many collegiate sporting events as possible. Immerse yourself in school spirit. Paint letters on your bare chest with a group of friends and spell out encouraging words. (Extra points if any of these friends are women.) Develop your public speaking skills by shouting obscenities at the visiting team’s coach. These talents will prove invaluable later in life when you are faced with adversities like speeding tickets, job firings and any dismissal from a reality dating show.

When a sporting event isn’t scheduled, do not come home every weekend. You’ll miss out one of the best parts of college, the Saturday night. Plus, I know you’ll most likely just bring home huge amounts of filthy laundry for your mother to wash. Not to mention, you’ll hit up your parents, grandparents and the homeless guy under the turnpike for more money. I’m on to you. Live as Auntie lived. You can survive by ingesting large quantities of Taco Bell and price reduced milk and yogurt for longer than you’d think.

Most important of all, go to class and study hard. Decide on a major. Then change it again and again and again. Relish every second of university living. Because in a flash, it will be over and all you’ll have are the distant memories of a time before kids, the wife and endless employment. That is, unless you keep that blackmail journal.

A Tweet is a Tweet is a Tweet

12 Aug

After so many long years of hoping and waiting, it finally happened. I lost my twitter virginity. Yes, tonight at 6:27 P.M. Eastern Time I sent out my first tweet. I’m happy to report that Boys to Men “End of the Road” was not smoldering in the background during this deflowering. But it was just as nerve racking and quick as that other first time in an old rickety pick-up truck. You see, I seriously have no clue where the heck this tweet went.

Twitter seemed like the right thing to do at just the right moment. All the how-to-blog websites say that you need to broadcast your message to the world. Well, maybe not North Korea. Only because of their inability to produce enough electricity to even give a zap of electric shock to a disenfranchised dissident. But, the rest of the globe is fair game. So off I go to twitter to show off my blogs and tell everyone how super cool I really am.

But here’s the kicker. I’m terrible at self-promotion. In fact, I do a much better job of self-depreciation. Since I was six, my neurosis has caused me to alphabetically list all my faults and quirks starting at Abandonment issues and ending with Zumbaphobia. I can cut myself down faster than a hillbilly can turn his old denim jeans into shorts. So when I attempt to post something positive about myself, my normally too high self-esteem crumbles.

Needless to say, I knew my first tweet needed to be a special tweet, both gentle and pure. So what did I do? I used my facebook status. Yes. I failed to shoot off a funny, original post. I just reused the same move that had previously garnered praise. I’ll repeat it for you. One last time. One last gasp.

“People just don’t get my sarcasm and humor. Which is fine, because I don’t understand most people’s stupidity, so I suppose we’re even.”

Do you feel cheapened that you had seconds?

Anyway, now I have no clue who has seen this “tweet”. I have few followers. Does it go to a twitter afterlife where it awaits salvation in purgatory? Or does it just join the karmic flow of the twitter universe? Plus, should I capitalize Twitter like the false god that it is? If someone could give me the tweeting gospel, I’d be much obliged. Until then, I’ll relish this glowing aftermath until I tweet again…..  and again, and again.


							

The Return of the Rambunctious Reunion

8 Aug

‘Tis the season for the quintessential American experience shared generation after generation: the high school class reunion. Where else can you go relive the horrors of pimples, first dates and bad breakups then with the 500 random people you happened to graduate with?

People go to their reunions for a wide variety of reasons. Some go to see old friends. Others go to relish in the downfall of their high school enemies. And then you have the few who just want to hook up with the hot girl from Mr. Smith’s English class. With my 20-year high school remembrance only two years away, I feel I must offer up some advice to reunion goers across this great land. May God watch over you as you enter into this possibly life changing- and liver eroding- endeavor.

1) First, start using wrinkle reduction creams now. I’ve keenly been anticipating my upcoming reunion for the past six years, thus having the foresight to start slathering retinol lotion on every portion of my body, including underarms, since I turned 30. After achieving flawless skin, take a whiskey shot for every time someone says you look the same as you did as a senior. Obviously, some of these people are lying. But if you use the special Chinese wrinkle cream with the high lead content, your mind might actually be damaged enough to truly believe these kind and flattering words.

2) Always serve punch at the main event. Who hasn’t spiked some sprite and ice-cream sludge before? Ok, I haven’t. But at your 20th high school reunion, forget the vodka. Most of your classmates have built up a tolerance to any alcohol you could put in that ladle. Instead, bring roofies to liven up the party. Your special night will be just like the movie The Hangover, but with many more participants and most likely, if you went to my high school, quadruple the amount of bodies to dispose of. Plus, what pornographic photos you’ll have to share on Facebook or sell to Hustler!

3) Ensure at least one night of the reunion is an alumni only event. Otherwise, your husband might be offended when I tell him “the story”. You know, the one where you and your boyfriend, Cal, enticed me to go cow tipping only to spend the night making noises that sounded like pigs going to slaughter on my fabric back seat. FYI- you still owe me for the spot remover. Husbands and wives really shouldn’t need to know our high school identities. Like most super hero alter egos, they should remain secret and only to be shared amongst fellow grads that either witnessed your extraordinary powers first hand, or heard the gossip from, well, me. And yes, I know what some of you have done in telephone booths, and it wasn’t changing into a cape.

4) Be super nice to those alumni who degraded you. You are the bigger person by forgiving. Then, get them drunk and have them spill the goods about their failing marriage, botched liposuction and juvenile delinquent kids. Nothing screams awesome reunion more then knowing the peeps that made high school hell for you are receiving a karma payback today.

5) Make out with your significant other in the back seat of your car after the reunion. Or purchase a roach infested room at a cheap hotel just like after junior prom, thus reliving high school memories. If you’re single, try to score with at least one teacher that attended the reunion, just because it’s not illegal or immoral when two old people do it. And it’s kinda cool.

So high school graduates, I wish you good luck and a great time with your old alcoholic classmates. If you have any fantastic advice for reunion goers, please let me know! Otherwise, remember the golden reunion rule: Party Like It’s 1999! Or 1991.

Sexism, Sweat and Submission Holds

1 Aug

Last weekend, I took my boys to watch grown men smash each other with chairs, jab one another with kendo sticks and slap the devil out of the other’s hairless, muscular chests. No, I didn’t take my kids to the local biker bar or the bare knuckles fight club down by the school. Where can a stay-at-home mama get her fix of watching sweaty, shirtless hunks under the premise of a family event? World Wrestling Entertainment brought their live show back to good ‘ole Louisville, Kentucky.

Like many quick-to-judge mothers, I had always associated professional wrestling with steroids, sexism and violence. In the past, WWE has had its fair share of criticism and during the early 2000 era, justifiably so. Did I find an arena full of misogynistic miscreants ready to abduct women and pilfer the nearest 7-Eleven? No. I found kids with fake championship belts and dreams of climbing on to the top rope. Oh, and they brought along their middle-aged parents, reminiscent themselves about all those DDTs on the Saturday morning wrestling shows of their youth.

In fact, I saw little evidence of steroids, violence or sexism. It looked like the hamburgers served to the event patrons contained more growth hormones than most of the wrestlers in the ring. Several years ago, the corporation addressed steroid abuse by implementing a Talent Wellness Program, which, among other things, tests employees for banned substances. I’d be more than willing to taste test any of the guys sweat and certify them as USDA organic beefcakes, but no one took me up on the offer.

Over-the-top violence also was not a factor. Kids nowadays know that you really can’t smash a guy four times with a chair and he’ll not only remain standing, but force you into a submission hold that would make Charlie Sheen regain sanity. Before the company disclosed the scripted nature of the show, I remember when we thought Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant really were going to maim each other. And it was cool. We turned out ok then, as my children will now.

As for the sexist nature of the show, I cannot lie. Bodies were objectified. But when you have 15 sweaty men wearing teeny-weeny tight underpants all touching each other, my inherent carnal lust couldn’t help but surface. I’m sorry, Randy Orton. I know you are a person, as well as a handsome and contributing member of society. I will try to remember as much the next time I grab your fingers a little too hard during your winning hand slaps.  By then, the restraining order should be lifted. I will continue to practice my entrance into the ring by seductively shimming under the elastic line barriers at the local movie theater.

All and all, professional wrestling has a long tradition in our neck of the woods. You wouldn’t think oily men pummeling each other would connect generations. But somehow cheering for the faces and booing the heels transcends age. Isn’t professional wrestling just an extension in the fight of good over evil, all the while teaching our children basic moral norms?

Yes. But it’s also a way for this mother to look at rock hard abs and perfect pecs.

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