Archives for July 2011

thanks for not stabbing grandma

Growing up, my mom repeated the same things on a regular basis:
  • Stop trying to poke your brother in the eye with a fork.
  • Clean that spill up. You think I can’t see it under your father’s paper?
  • Wear dark clothing when you play outside. It’s a bitch to get blood out of light colors.

Those words still circle my thoughts once in a while, but the thing that probably left the biggest impression on me was something she said only once, very quietly, with a hard and ugly look in her eyes- “You better get the first aid kit ready. I’m about to stab your grandma.”

I didn’t believe her. She didn’t even have the balls to pull a loose tooth out of my mouth, so it wasn’t likely she was going to be shanking anyone with a butter knife. But, I went in search of the first aid kit. Just in case.

The potential victim was her mother-in-law, a woman we rarely saw because she lived overseas. Granny had come to visit because she wanted to connect with her American grandchildren. The original plan was to stay for two weeks. I saw a little twitch in my mom’s eye when my dad first mentioned it, but she didn’t say a word. When Granny extended her trip for four more weeks, I saw a small tear roll down my mom’s cheek. Still, she didn’t say a word.

When Granny criticized my mom’s cooking? Not a wayward glance. When Granny asked my dad if he still thought about that lovely girl from middle school? Not a single peep. When Granny asked my mom when she was going to lose all the baby weight since she hadn’t been pregnant for more than eight years? Not even a frown.

During the sixth week of her visit, Granny decided to borrow my mom’s best loafers, the ones she only wore to church or to a funeral, to take a stroll through the neighborhood. She stepped in a pile of dog shit. Instead of cleaning them, she abandoned them in the garbage can at our curb and yelled for my mom to bring her another pair of shoes so she wouldn’t have to walk through the yard barefoot.

That’s when she threatened to stab Granny. Any in-yard violence was sure to get us kicked off the neighborhood block party roster, but I understood. Shit needed to be settled. Woman to woman. Instead, my mom helped my grandma inside. My mom’s patience and compassion left an impression on me that day. But a knife fight would still have been awesome.

In-law troubles? Witnessed bad in-law behavior?P.S. If you’d like to link to your website/blog please click the “Optional: Link to your website” line under the “Guest” option and fill in your information. Thanks, yo.

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Kickin’ it old school today with my BlogHer Voice of the Year Humor Honoree post. People with small bladders, unite. 

My family covered roughly 11,000 total miles in rented conversion vans during our yearly road trips when I was growing up. We always took along the same things:

  • a Game Boy
  • several economy-sized bags of Funyuns
  • our homemade “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon” cardboard sign that we hung out the window when cars passed
  • masking tape, so my brother and I could divide the van right down the middle and hit each other if we crossed the line
And my tiny little bladder.My dad meticulously planned the trip for months. He bought duplicate Rand-McNally maps, charting a main route on one map, and several alternate routes on another map. He liked to be prepared. I didn’t volunteer, but he always made me his sidekick.

At the beginning of each trip, he would hand me a blank notebook. I was in charge of writing down the gas mileage we got with each tank and the exact time we crossed state lines. I nodded my head each time he told me to write down new information. I pretended to be equally intrigued by the gas mileage, but really, the only thing that was going through my head was, “This Is Some Bullshit.”

On one trip, we drove from Texas to Niagara Falls, with a pit stop at the Smithsonian.

Somewhere outside Washington, D.C., my bladder failed me. I purposely didn’t drink more than two sips of soda during our lunch at Crystal’s so I wouldn’t have to use the restroom.

I started complaining. I threatened to pee in my pants if my parents didn’t find a restroom. My impending disaster didn’t move my dad. He had a schedule, and he was going to stick to it.

My mom tried to be helpful. She suggested I pee in the McDonald’s Happy Meal plastic pail I had in the car.

Even as a 7-year-old, I had standards. There was just no way I was going to ruin a perfectly good trick-or-treat pail by peeing in it.

I started crying. I told my parents that Jesus was watching and that He would send my parents to Hell. The threat of eternal damnation did the trick. My dad agreed to pull over at the next rest stop, but not before giving my mom the “why didn’t we just use birth control” look. Then we got stuck in traffic.

Half an hour later, when we got to the rest stop, I carried my pee-filled bucket to the garbage can. Just as I was about to throw it in, my mom shouted, “WAIT, it’ll be good as new once I wash it out for you.”

I’m starting a support group- Frequent Urinator Club for Kids or F.U.C.K. for short.

It could be a bi-monthly shindig, offering support for the bladder-challenged younger folks. We could exchange gas station bathroom reviews, watch instructional videos on how to construct makeshift restrooms, and collaborate on a short pamphlet for our loved ones about our special needs.

Road trip stories, y’all?