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When you're an eldest child, and your parents are both eldest children, and all four of their parents are eldest children, this is your playtime:

I don't know why Jim The Small Child Nephew's parents don't just give him his very own Excel spreadsheet for Christmas and have done with it.

Then again, one of my The Readers once emailed me about the time she watched her child methodically and without pictorial assistance reconstruct Stonehenge out of Legos in the middle of her living room, so let's just celebrate the boy's industriousness and back quietly away.

It never would have occurred to me to do something like this, as a three-year-old or a thirty-year-old. Everything I owned as a child was immediately and permanently 1) naked or 2) forever altered to play a temporary role in some Barbie-related drama, such as the Tonka Jeep which I splashed with red crayon to simulate a terrible, coma-inducing accident.

Will The Baby Nephew, fortunately, also shows no sign of following his aunt's disturbing playtime predilections. We were just remarking that he hadn't clamped onto a comfort item from infancy, and then at 18 months he had minor hernia surgery (one of those awful out-patient procedures which barely nicks the child, but leaves every adult within caring distance a praying wreck.) Ever since then, he's hauled around the baby doll and onesie we originally gave his brother to acclimate him to the very idea of infants.

Will treats the baby better than Jim did, perhaps because he somehow knows it represents him, and never allows it to go about in an unmodest state. "Baaaaaby," he says piteously when his mother lays the naked doll in the laundry room to give the onesie a much-needed washing. Perhaps he will enter fashion design. Or the FCC.

birth order at:

All Married, and Stuff

In retrospect, it was a perfect way to spent our first wedding anniversary: We had a Large Chunk o' Angry Silence In a Moving Vehicle, followed by a fight, followed by Talking About Our Feelings, followed by ice cream. Then we went home.

Given that such behavior marked the bulk of our engagement and the first few hours of our married lives, it's the most appropriate possible thing we could have done. There's a portrait hanging in our home, a wedding gift from my parents--it's a gorgeously framed photo of the two of us taken about half an hour into our marriage. Just before he took it, the photographer said, "Okay, move a little closer to your husband... Josh, put your arm around your wife." It's an old wedding vendor's trick, designed to make the bridal couple experience a short-term thrill of feeling special and Officially Married. I had a better hair day yesterday, perfectly fluffed in order to run a wine tasting. Josh is not fond of his smile.

And you know what I felt? Not romantic, not thrilled, not buoyed by The Happiest Day Of My Life. I felt scared. Trapped, even. "Dude," I said to him, mentally (and, even then, obnoxiously), "I don't know."

But the portrait will have wall space wherever we go, because instead of going the opposite expected direction of most brides, I now feel more assured, more pleased, and more excited about my marriage than I did on our wedding day. He had his chances to abandon me, and no one would have blamed him--this sobbing heap of economic failure who only two weeks ago laid on the unrecently vacuumed floor and announced that she hated herself, this home, this carpet.

Instead, the groom in the picture knelt down next to me, and said, "I'm here." And all the perfectly iced, multi-tiered cakes in the world won't compare to that.

This morning, Josh The Pilot placed a small cactus on the breakfast table, complete with card which he had also remembered to flip over to marker out the price, and explained that while he knew I wanted mules and mountains, this was the most we could afford at the moment.

"And for three months out of the year, you don't even have to water it!" he said, pointing at the care directions tag. "See?"

I petted the tiny plant, its fat, furry leaves. "I cannot imagine anything I'd like better."

"I got it at the grocery store!"

"Don't push it."

I would I do all over again at:


I Gots Me A Question

You can tell me if this is the case.  I'm a big girl.  I can handle it.

Is there a national Worcester sauce shortage on?

Is this like WWII, only instead of rationing milk, eggs, and gas, we're clamping down on meat condiments?  Because I had to stop in four different stores before I found any.  Josh The Pilot tracked one tiny little bottle down at a Bloom, but it was some gourmet crap made with sherry, chili peppers, and, by the smell of it, liquified asphalt.

It's not like I lead a Worcester sauce-intensive life--a little for the meatloaf, a dump or two for marinating--but I was brought up to believe that in America, if in your deepest of hearts you desire Worcester sauce, you can achieve it.

Is Big Oil to blame for this?  Or is this yet another societal ill to be laid at the feet of the Prius, in addition to raising the nation's Self-Love Quotient to levels not seen since the 1984 Summer Olympics?  I mean, I want to know.  So I can help.  Or, at the very least, cyber-yell at the proper parties.

A1 is not an option at:


Sweet Talkin' Quote of the Week

"She's my f--king soulmate, dude."

-Alex Rodriguez, re: Madonna

Aw! That is exactly what Josh The Pilot said to the priest who married us when he asked him his thoughts about the sacrament of holy matrimony.

The f-bomb as an adjective of emphasis has very much found its way into common parlance, to the point where its original connotation has become lost, but here, in the context of Madonna, A-Rod has managed to find a way to make f--k mean what it actually does. On behalf of the English language, I say: Well done, Mr. Rod!

Therefore, this is officially my New Favorite Phrase. The versatilities are endless! It's applicable in nearly every situation in which we may find ourselves:

"Tell me, why did you support Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary?" "She's my f--king soulmate, dude."

"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? She's my f--king soulmate, dude."

"...And that's the evening news. This is Mary Beth Ellis, signing off, and remember, Cincinnati--'She's my f--king soulmate, dude.'"

society staggers forever... somewhere at:


The Sheer Awesomeness of Mass Transit 

Nick The NASA Poobah and I recently discussed piloting a bit, and due to time constraints--there were very serious discussions of barfing in microgravity to get to-- we didn't have a chance to touch on issues of modern air carriers, namely, the airlines' recent fuel price edict that multiple checked bags are subject to extra fees. U.S. Air is charging for the first checked bag.

You know who is loving this new development? Flight attendants. Because this means that every tool in America is going to cram eight weeks of clothes, his unicycle, and a portable anvil into one of those wheelie bags and try to shove it into an overhead bin. Bin Wars (open overhead, SHOVE, slam shut, watch door bounce back at ceiling) were bad enough before this went down, but now there's going to be bloodshed in the exit aisle.

And United charges a hundred bucks if your bag is over a certain weight. I found this out the horrible way en route to grading the Great Stack; the gate agent informed me that the bag was ten pounds too heavy, then wanted to know if I wished to rectify the situation with check, cash or credit card.

Ninety-five percent of the time, in that situation, I would back away quietly and collapse into a blonde little ball of inertness. But this was Great Stack Time, not vacation, which meant I had entered the airport pre-pissed, pissed enough to push me to the five percent of my personality in which I actually don't bow my head and thank the deli clerk for the slimy, incorrectly sliced pile of turkey in my hand.

I dropped my carry-on, unslung my purse, and placed my hands on my hips. "You," I said, "have got to be kidding me."

We had a five second eye-contact standoff while the check-in line built behind me. He broke first. "Go ahead," he said, waving me to the security line. "For you, just this once." It was a hollow victory; I'd pre-fussed my way out of a hundred dollar surcharge, but I'd also possibly angered The Envelope, and nobody wants that.

And then there's the pending humiliation of those who might find themselves kicked off of flights due to obesity. Holy crap, we've been dignity-stripped enough at the airport. I have to go unwatered into the terminal and put my socks in contact with the airport floor (People who fly in flip-flops? You are another post entirely.) I cannot imagine waving, or being waved, into the Fatty McFatser Rejection Chute, turboloaded wheely carry-on bouncing merrily behind.

This is already happening at Busch Gardens; signs near the coasters, both of the sane and "Oh hell no" variety, gently suggested that "guests with chest measurements greater than 54 inches may not safely experience this attraction." Fine. However, there's this mock-up of the coaster seat at the front of the line, which in and of itself isn't a bad idea... but then it's raised like a vomity throne above the general populace, affixed to a platform so that that one & all may ascertain the BMI of their fellow guests. I should have taken a picture, and nailed it to my fridge, and hunkered down for the pending lawsuit.

candy anyway at: