Monday, November 5, 2012

These Are My People! (Staci's easy election guide)

I admit that I am an extremely opinionated person. Being highly opinionated can be a lot of work sometimes. In order to form a passionate opinion on everything you have to first think about everything. Needless to say, election season is especially taxing for the extremely opinionated. Its the one time when we as citizens are called upon to express our opinions and being outspoken can actually come off as civic responsibility.

Everyone I know has a pretty firm grasp on where they stand with national politics and a set of guiding principles they use when casting their vote. At this point, debating the presidential election is almost pointless but it has everyone holding their breath to see the outcome. In the mean time, no one seems to care about local government elections which drives me crazy because those outcomes have a direct influence on basic every day life and one vote really does have a huge impact. when I go into the voting booth, I am ashamed if I come to a vote that I know nothing about and it really bugs me to leave one unanswered. It is worth it to me to do research before hand on all of the candidates and ballot measures. John always counts on me to tell him how to vote and I usually send him in with a sample ballot filled out . This year I typed up the correct answers in a word document. Then I kept coming across people who were like "Just tell me how to vote." and I started passing my voter guide out to friends and family. I even researched the judges up for retention and sifted through all of the verbage in the propositions. In the process I got to be very familiar with all of the details of local government. 

So yesterday after church I was rounding up kids and herding everyone to the car when a huge truck plastered with campaign signs came rolling into the church parking lot. Out stepped a little blonde lady who I immediately recognized to be the advertised  candidate. Barbara McGuire. She is running for State Senator. I was a little fuzzy on the details but I knew she for sure hadn't made the cut to be in my voter guide and I was kind of curious what she was doing there. She was wearing a pantsuit and all made up and was striding into the church. Out of hundreds of random LDS church goers, who does she single out to walk direct to and introduce herself? Of course, the one person there who actually obsesses over these races and who has been passing out a home made voter guides. Hilarity ensues. Heres the conversation:

Barbara: Hi there! My name is Barbara McGuire and I'm here to find out when the services here are held!

Me: Hi Barbara, nice to meet you. There are a number of wards that meet here. Is there a specific ward you want to know about? Wards start at 8, 10, and 1. 

Barbara: I wanted to know when the meetings are because I am, in fact, a Mormon. I haven't been to church for years because I am so busy but THIS IS MY FAITH! I am a Mormon!

Me: Thats great. I'm glad you're here. Where do yo live? We can figure out which ward you are in. 

Barbara: I am a third generation resident of Kearny! I happen to be running for state senate right now. That has absolutely nothing to do with why I am here, of course, but I sure do love this church. 

Me: Oh, so you would actually belong to a ward in Kearney. There are LDS congregations pretty much everywhere. 

Barbara: It is so funny, Most people don't even know that I am a Mormon! These are my people! I really can't wait to get back to church. Today I only had time to stop in and check the meeting times but I am ready to come back to church! God knows I need the sacrament!

(awkward uncomfortable laughter) 

Me: Tell you what, why don't I give you my email address and you can shoot me off an email and I'll reply with all of the meeting times and information. 

Sister McGuire: Great! Actually, I'll give you my information. I just happen to have a stack of campaign flyers here that have all of my contact info. I'll just give you a whole bunch of these and you can pass them out to people or leave them out here at church.

Me: I am actually familiar with your campaign. You are a Democrat, right? 

Babs: Yes, I am technically a Democrat, but I support our right to own guns!

Me: Ya gotta love the Second Amendment!

Babs: AND… I would never have an abortion or recommend an abortion to anyone, because I really support Life, but I also would never dare to dictate what another should choose to do with their body. We just have no business legislating what people do with their bodies.

At this point I was wondering if one of us was being punked. It was all so random and hilarious and so totally awkward. Here she was forcing abortion into the conversation in less than a minute. And she happened to pick the one person who enjoys political debate more than making nice. 

Me: So what if I want to choose to use my body to kill someone? Is it okay to legislate against that particular choice? 

Barb: ha ha ha… You know what we need? More smart women in positions of influence!  Women really know what is important!

Me: I totally agree. Women are great. We do need women in important places. Especially in homes raising responsible children. 

(more awkward laughter)

I was so entertained by the whole exchange that I really wanted to experience it with someone else who would appreciate the depth of the hilarity. None of my peeps were around. Our Relief Society president was walking down the hall so I introduced the two. Barbara explained how she was a hard core Mormon and just paying a visit to her people and again stated that she happened to be running for office even though that has nothing to do with why she was there. 

Her whole rehearsed speech was like a slapstick comedy routine. It was so used car salesman-ish. It was like she got a memo telling her that to win the election she had to earn the Mormon vote and then she printed out a list of Mormon issues and went down the list. Who starts a conversation with "I'm technically a Democrat but I support our right to own guns."? and then segues into abortion within two seconds? 

Seriously, If you want to win the Mormon vote you are far better off showing up and saying, "Hi. I heard that LDS people have huge voter turnout and I wanted to come introduce myself because I really respect your civic involvement." Is it really wise to show up at church two days before the election claiming to BE a Mormon? If there is one thing about Mormonism, its that we can spot our own kind. There is a look and a vocabulary and a whole vibe that constitutes the nuances of Mo-dar and we can't be infiltrated that easily. Even if she could pull off her Mormon impersonation, the fact that she thinks she can show up and identify herself as a member of the church and automatically get our votes she is implying that she thinks we are mindless voters that blindly vote for our own regardless of policy. Thats incorrect AND offensive. I'm not sure if that tactic would work with other social groups, but we happen to be doctrinally opposed to crap like that. Everyone knows that if you want to get people in your community to vote the way you want, you have to at least author a blog and type up a voter guide. Geesh!

When I got home I had to dig in and find out all I could about this broad. First of all, she is totally funded by Planned Parenthood and labor unions. She does have an impeccable record on gun rights but she has run nothing but a juvenile ridiculous mud slinging campaign against the Republican candidate, Joe Ortiz. Also, there have been redistricting shenanigans that can only be described as "secret combinations". If you don't know what that means, call Barbara McGuire. I hear she's a Book of Mormon scholar.

Since I know you are dying for it right now, I have done you the courtesy of attaching my voter guide which is easily printed for convenience in the voting booth or just save the image to your smart phone. You're welcome.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween and Mormonism: an odd marriage

This year I was asked to plan the ward's annual Halloween party. Otherwise known as Trunk or Treat. My first thought upon being asked was, "Wow, how have I been in the church this long and never been asked to plan a party of any kind until now?" I mean, I'm pretty fun at a party if I do say so myself. I know what makes parties fun and what weighs them down and I have attended hundreds (possibly thousands) of parties. Many of which were church parties and I have been taking keen mental notes. I accepted the assignment with enthusiasm.

Part of my enthusiasm stemmed from the great sense of relief that comes when one is summoned to meet with the bishopric for an undisclosed purpose and discovers that they have not been tapped for some huge responsibility. I have spent the past few years happily under the radar of pain-in-the-ass church callings and I employ very specific tactics to be sure that I am always remembered more for my irreverence than my righteousness. There is a formula. Lets say you want to specifically avoid being called to be Relief Society President or Primary President. Rule #1 use a swear on your blog at least once per post. Rule #2 teach true doctrines in lessons that make people uncomfortable. My favorites are things like sexual intercourse with a spouse in the Celestial Kingdom and the role of polygamy as it relates to eternal families and the fact that the Mormon Pioneers basically bred a population of people with specific genetic personality characteristics. The possibility of astral projection is always a winner too. Rule #3 wear flip flops to church at least every few months. If you employ even two of these three rules you can most likely enjoy the full benefit of membership in the LDS church with almost no risk.

I love when people refer to me as a "rebel". I always ask, "What makes you think I'm a rebel? Is it my temple recommend? My happy traditional family? The full time honorable mission I served? The years of early morning seminary I voluntarily attended throughout my adolescence at 6am? Maybe it was when I was a virgin bride at age 26. Is it the hundreds of Sunday School Lessons or my excessive testimony bearing? I have never even tasted alcohol or coffee or tea. Tithing, Fasting, Family Home Evening, Book of Mormon sharing, church attending Staci. The rebel. It really is entertaining to corner people on the real reasons they perceive rebellion. It all comes down to a little bit of good natured feather ruffling. I consider it my calling. Someone has got to do it.

So back to my assignment to plan the Halloween party. I have only one really horrible experience with Halloween and only one really horrible experience on my mission and only one really horrible experience with planning a church party. All of these things happened simultaneously on the evening of October 31st 1998 in the town of Metz, France. The one night I would like to erase from my record.

The thing with Halloween is that it is weird. Really weird. Think about it. There is no religious merit in it at all. We dress in deceptive costumes and in disguise go door to door threatening people for candy. We decorate our houses with corpses and spiderwebs and all things scaryand off-putting. We celebrate gore and violence and death in the name of candy. Don't get me wrong. Its awesome. Its just weird. We do it because its tradition and it is fun and it is culturally significant to us because as Americans we all share this set of really similar experiences that involve adrenaline and sensory extremes which cement these memories permanently. Maybe it was the five pounds of candy and week long sugar high that did it for you or the terror you felt in a haunted house or the thrill of getting stuff for free or the sensation of dressing up as something other than you. Halloween has covered everyone's sensory trigger somewhere. Add to that the fact that it comes right as the weather breaks and the temperature changes (particularly pleasant to those in Arizona) and that it is the big kickoff to the Holiday Season which is guaranteed to end in a windfall of gifts and cheer and a big New Years party. Once you've had a hit of Halloween it is irresistible.

Now take that Halloween nostalgia and mix it with a big dose of homesickness and serve it up to ten retarded American missionaries in a small far flung French branch of the LDS church. Add to the equation that Halloween hadn't caught on in France but was heard of and alluring. No one would dare go trick or treating or wear a costume but people were asking about it and there were stores that were beginning to display spooky themed window displays. Halloween was cutting edge and scandalous to the French. We were seasoned Halloween pros. We were beaten down with the task of converting the French to Mormonism (think about it) and we were constantly looking for ways to bridge the gap between the mainstream population and the Gospel Message. Someone suggested that the branch throw a Halloween soiree and we were finally so freaking qualified to do something well in the mission field. We were going to throw the most awesome Halloween party ever. We were going to advertise it to the entire town and get everyone in Metz to come step foot in the LDS church and see how fun we are! After that all I remember is a blur of genius Halloween ideas and the discovery that half of our district were basically special effects experts who excelled in realism as it relates to blood and guts. We commandeered the entire basement of the church for a spook alley (Festive!) and covered the walls in black plastic trash bags. Then someone spread a few fall colored leaves on the floor which led naturally to the decision to haul in enough dead leaves to cover all of the floors entirely. Each set of missionaries was in charge of a section. My comp and I were the big opening scene. She was a witch who would also guide groups through and I was a decapitated head in a basket still screaming underneath a guillotine. (Yeah, thats right folks. A guillotine. In France.) We even rigged the fake body with strings that I could pull to make the headless corpse twitch. One set of Elders did a brilliant hanging where he was the head and the fake body hung limply from a noose. another set did gross out stunts involving slimy textures and insect infestation. they were hiding in corners to jump out at people as ghosts. The grand finale had a hunchback midget dancing on the piano and warning people "Don't go in there!". Then guests were ushered in to view a mad surgeon running a chainsaw over an Elder who appeared to be gutted and eating his own innards consisting of lasagna.

It. Was. Awesome. You know, by American standards. Meaning those of us who have been conditioned to be insensitive to graphic violent imagery. Those of us who were born and raised thinking nudity and sex is supremely offensive but seeing people shot to death and bleeding out is totally okay for prime time TV. The French show porn on Prime Time. Full frontal nudity is found on billboards and public sunbathing spots and we American missionaries would avert our eyes and blush and try to think of something righteous and pure like Jack-o-lanterns or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Or Attractive Marriage Minded Vampires.

The problem was that The missionaries were the backbone of the church there and generally speaking did an excellent job. Local church leaders would ask us how to do things because we were the ones who knew first hand what the Church was capable of. No one checked us. We checked each other and had always done it well. We were smart, spiritual, obedient and effective missionaries. We were lifers who could spot false doctrine from a mile away and crank out quotes from prophets or scriptures from memory. We were showing the women how to quilt and can bean dip and telling the men how to conduct meetings and give priesthood blessings. We led the music and showed them how to do effective Family Home Evening lessons and walked them through sharing time and singing time and debated whether or not it was more offensive to God to break the Sabbath by buying fresh bread on Sunday morning (gasp!) or using day old bread to represent the body of Christ  (French gasp!) We would win the debate and then roll our eyes each week as we partook of warm baguette in Sacrament meeting.

My point is, We do some things because of our faith and we do other things because of our culture and Halloween was a moment when our judgement was blurred by fond childhood memories. We wanted to share something great. We wanted to give them the gift of Halloween because we loved them.

I will never forget the moment right before we officially opened the spook alley and people were streaming in. I had never seen so many people headed happily into a French LDS Church. A few were even wearing costumes! We were giddy. Everyone was there. Our promoting efforts had been totally successful. Then we let the first group through the door. Everyone wanted in at once.

Since my severed head was the first gruesome sight, I got to see their delight turn to absolute horror. before we had two groups through I had seen grown men cry and old ladies run screaming from the building, frantically tearing through black plastic to find the exits. I don't think any children made it past two rooms. We had to take a break and regroup so that one of us could be available to console people as they exited in terror. Then we had to regroup again because no one was even getting to the chainsaw and those guys were in there eating the lasagna bored while the bloody basket under the guillotine was going empty to  provide more grief counseling. Our priorities were obviously messed up. Clearly we should have opened with the Chainsaw and finished with the Sisters as we were the only ones who seemed to soothe them (probably by proving that my head was in fact still attached).

I have never been so ashamed. The members were shocked and confused and the non-members were like "Oh, this is how Les Mormons roulle. This is one seriously screwed up religion. Now I know." What we accomplished was exactly the opposite of missionary work. We probably unravelled a decade of dedicated missionary efforts in ten minutes. And the worst part was that by the time it was so painfully obvious to all of us what we had just done, we were so committed that we couldn't even stop the damage. there were crowds of people still waiting excitedly out front to see the spook alley. We toned it down and then again and by the end we were all just there in our bloody clothes speaking in soothing voices and just narrating a general spook ally description. Kids were still crying and running. We had to hide the angry faced pumpkins because they were freaking people out. Missionary FAIL.

We walked home without our black missionary tags on and the next day we spent ten solid hours shoveling dead leaves out of the church and trying to clean up the aftermath. Hide the evidence. Pretend it didn't happen. Pull trash bags off of the wall and fill with marinara soaked foliage and haul them upstairs. What next? We didn't know. It is France. No one has a truck. The garbage man wouldn't take all of this. we decided to spread the leaves back out where we got them; from the sidewalks and the yards. "Don't mind us. We're just cleaning up by spreading dirt and debris all over town for no apparent reason. This bag of bloody trash is brought to you by the Mormons. Please join us on Sunday for our worship services."

I am scarred.

So this memory was the second thing I thought of when I was asked to throw the ward Halloween party this year. I have thought this thing out to the last detail and I vow to throw a Halloween party that first and foremost: Does no damage. Second: is fun and third: is my shot at Church Halloween party redemption.

So today I was making the flyer for the event at my brother Christopher's house and I told this story to Cheryl and the kids while Christopher was in the office. I should tell you that Christopher is the single funniest person I have ever known and possibly one of the smartest. My fondness for him might have a tad to do with the fact that he is the only other human on the planet who really gets me because we share a lot of genetic material. I know what Christopher thinks is funny and vice versa and I'm pretty sure that when genome sequencing becomes available to the masses we will high five each other as we compare the data. I was sure that the telling of this Halloween story would draw him out to participate in the hilarity because this kind of story is right up his alley. He didn't come out. I wondered if he was crazy busy with a business deal and so stressed out that he couldn't come out and chat but even that was not normal Christopher behavior. I just unloaded the whole thing on the Hawses and we briefly talked about politics (shocking) and laughed about the eccentricities of the LDS culture. Finally Christopher came out and invited me to get started on the flyer. He told me that he had mocked up a few ideas and I was impressed with his efficiency.

He showed me this:

Then he scrolled down and suggested this:

 And it quickly devolved into this:

 And we absolutely couldn't resist this:
If any of this offends you, its okay. We were never meant to be friends.

There are actually more but at this point the whole thing jumps the rails and just gets ridiculous and random. We made some tweaks and I am totally prepared to present these flyers to the bishopric tomorrow with a straight face just to see how they react.

A little off topic here but I want to take a second to marvel at the wonderful world we live in. A world where one can access a free photo of a man tarred and feathered in less than ten seconds. Are there no limits? We got to where we were naming the most obscure bizarre photographs and timing ourselves to see how long it took to get a match. I can firmly state that every possible image is digitally available. If you don't find it on your first search, you just whip out photoshop. bam.

Happy Halloween!

And....everyone is invited to the Stone Creek Ward's Trunk or Treat on October 20th from 5-8 at the building on Gary Rd. just north of Hunt Hwy. San Tan Valley, AZ. You will have a lovely time. My salvation is riding on it.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Here is a conversation that I had with Abe last night:

Abe: A-hole is a bad word, right, Mom?

Me: Yes. Please don't say that.

Abe: My name starts with A. Is A a bad word?

Me: No. Its just a letter.

Abe: Is hole a bad word?

Me: No.

Abe: Awesome! Hole is the best part! Thats the funny part!

I have known this kid long enough to know that If I laugh or scold him then the word will be permanently forged in his memory and be made part of his day to day vernacular. The best reaction is no reaction at all.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to keep a straight face and attempt to ignore a toddler who spends the evening calling people holes? Its a whole new level of self control.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Great Rotten Burned Meat Debacle of 2012

In every family there are certain stories that get told many times over. Eventually the entertaining details get embellished and the boring details get left off that the true story evolves into a a few different versions of the real story and then everyone has to argue about who is telling the truth and who is not even though both parties really really believe that their version is the more accurate portrayal. Just to be sure that time and retelling don't damage the essential facts of this story, let me rehash for you what just happened last week and has already been titled "The Great Burned Meat Debacle of 2012".

First of all, let me say that I have never claimed to be an awesome chef. Cooking skill is just not something I value highly because I was raised in a house where my super fun mom never cooked and we went to restaurants a lot and its pretty obvious that its best to outsource this kind of task to people who really really like doing it or are getting paid to do it and preferably both. Its expensive and monotonous and requires specific measuring of ingredients and time and every mother in the world knows that if you don't make something that everyone has eaten a hundred times already and is even slightly interesting to create you might as well eat a serving of it your self and throw it right in the trash.

At the grocery store you can buy a raw whole chicken for about five bucks or you can walk ten feet and get a delicious rotisserie chicken that is already cooked and seasoned perfectly and doesn't create a sink full of dishes or require you to turn you oven on full blast in the middle of the summer for five bucks. You have got to really love the process of cooking a chicken to take that deal. I'm not that gal.

The problem is that I am also a Mormon and I literally own a full blown year supply of food that requires major culinary effort to be made remotely appetizing. I love the 35 year shelf life freeze dried crap that I can buy with no intention of eating ever and then packing it away in a closet and being like "See ya in 35 years when I am seventy. I'm just going to mark you expiration date here in my food storage rotation app right next to 'babysit grandkids' in 2047." and then I shut the closet door and when I'm asked to teach a Sunday School lesson about preparedness I can deliver that doctrine without a twinge of guilt.

It gets trickier when you start talking about the deep freezer full of meat. There is no way around it. We made the purchase of a half of a cow last year and I keep trying to remember why. Turns out that cows actually posses very few actual pieces of meat that can legally be called Ribeye or Filet. If fact, most of it is just really tough meat with strange names like Flank Rump. What the? How does one even begin to prepare this? And then I have this house full of food snobs (shocker) who won't touch a homecooked steak dinner and beg for hamburger meat. Like, they think we are poor because we have to eat steaks for dinner. How does one respond to a comment like "My friend so and so has a pool with a slide and they get to eat ramen noodles for dinner."?

So anyway, back to the material facts in the GBMDof'12.

I was taking a lot of heat from a certain person who paid for a certain left half of a cow last year (oh my gosh, it just occurred to me that we might have bought a front half or a back half. That would explain a lot.) to cook some meat. It takes days to thaw that stuff out so I can always stall for a while but sooner or later I have to get busy asking Google what it is and how to cook it. This particular cut of meat was probably best cooked in a crock pot slowly for a long time. No problem. Crock pots are great. No. my crock pot has a crack in it and is therefore not technically water tight (or meat tight). No problem, I have a full set of expensive pots and pans and a functioning stove.

Never buy expensive pots and pans. There is no magic in it and sometimes there are occasions in life where it makes more sense for everyone to throw out the whole meal pan and all without the pesky middle steps sometimes referred to as "the refrigerator" or "the garbage disposal". I know that those dollar store pans are probably made by slave children in third world countries but I have bad news. So are the two hundred dollar pans. I'll take 199 dollar store pans instead of that 200 dollar pampered chef crap and take the remaining dollar to send ramen noodles to slave kids in third world countries.

So I had the meat cooking on the stove and I was congratulating myself on outsmarting the smug inventors of the crock pot (by the way, how did the name Crock Pot ever make it past the marketing department? Don't even get me started on the Pampered Chef and all of the reasons a company should avoid words associated with disposable diapers when selling food prep items). This story would have ended happily with the meat in the trash except that I wandered over to Kristen's house at some point in the process and found out the real reason crock pots are awesome.

Fact: burned mystery meat makes your whole house smell exactly like a dirty cheap smoking lounge/motel room.

Fact: Lots of things stick to teflon really really well. Especially when applied at super high temperatures.

Fact: No amount of Fabreeze can neutralize the smell of dirty cheap smoking lounge/hotel room.

Fact: a text message was sent to John before his return from work warning him of the smell and informing him that there was no need to call the fire department upon his arrival. Code 4.

Fact: 24 hours later we were all still in a bad mood about it.

Fact: 48 hours later is still wasn't funny.

Fact: We probably have a legitimate homeowner's insurance claim here.

After this the details are debated but if anyone would like to tell their version of events they are invited to create and author a blog.

I seriously considered throwing away this expensive pan but the lid fit so tightly and I was so busy with the Fabreeze and the air purifiers and I didn't know what to do with it. Back porch? Chihuahuas, kids, bad idea. Front porch? Homeowner's association, bad feng shui. No way. Garage? Maybe. no.

I remember that there was some negotiating about who would clean the pan and I remember that I argued that the industrial nature of the task had exceeded the feminine domain. I specifically remember winning this ridiculous argument and I specifically remember crossing it off of my mental to-do list.

Fact: a week later the stupid pan was still there concealing it's horrible identity with a tight fitting lid. Don't get me wrong, we're not hoarders (not counting the year supply of food in the closet). The house got cleaned a number of times during this time span, it just got cleaned around the Burned Meat Pot. Every day that passed made the whole task much more dreadful and so much easier to procrastinate.

Finally John reached a breaking point and agreed to wash the pot. He explained his game plan which involved putting it in the car and driving it to the police station where the Town of Gilbert also washes the garbage trucks. Yeah, sit com writers can't come up with harebrained schemes like this. I strongly urged John to abandon this plan and to commit to handling the issue here at home.

The next day the pot was gone. Whatever. Drive it away in your car, buy it dinner and a movie, make it a taxpayer project, just get it the hell out of the kitchen.

But then that night I got a frantic phone call.

Fact: John decided to use a super high powered municipal grade pressure washer to rinse the pan.

Fact: When sprayed with water at close range and high velocity The Rotten Burned Meat instantly atomized and covered him in a horrible layer of Burned Rotten Meat Juice.

This is where it gets good

Fact: after the first fateful squirt he put the pot back in the car and drove it back home.

Fact: We had to stay up late to wash all of his gear overnight so that he could use it on duty the next day but we got a good laugh about the whole thing and I was relieved to have the whole thing over with.

Fact: I didn't even suspect that the pot complete with all of it's Rotten Meat was in the passenger seat of the car.

Fact: The next day I saw the Pot on the counter and for a second I wondered if I was living a bizarre horror movie plot.

Fact: Two intelligent adults can argue their strongly held personal opinions about the definition of "rational behavior" for a very long time.

Fact: I am no longer trusted to use the stove or hassled about cooking meat.

Fact: You can drop a little bit of fabric softener into a pot of Rotten Burned Meat and it comes right off and neutralizes odor.

Fact: The town of Gilbert should consider replacing the pressure washers with a bottle of generic Snuggle. Seriously. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Never Mind. The Plague Continues

Jack has been sick for so long that I got a pissy call from the school today. The person on the other end of the line started by saying "I don't know if you have gotten the many voice mails I have left you but as of today your child has missed ten consecutive school days and if he is not in class today he will be withdrawn. Those are the rules. I have tried to warn you but you didn't return my voice mails."

Wow. It was 9:00 am and school started at 8:00. Jack was still sick yesterday but possibly recovering and I had decided that I would let him sleep until he woke up on his own and evaluate him then. I'm never totally comfortable waking up a sleeping child against their will. It doesn't feel like very long ago that I was nursing these kids and reading every book on the planet with a theory about how to make them sleep longer. The nursery was totally Feng Shui-ed, blackout curtains installed, white noise machine running, heartbeat/womb noise teddy bear blaring, dogs kenneled, door bell disabled, note taped to front door asking visitors to not ring or knock under any circumstance and if they needed me a text message was best but not a phone call because my ringer is turned off and if you don't know my cell phone number, I really don't want to come to the door for you because my guess is that you're selling something or we're really not that great of friends. knocking on my door right now will downgrade our friendship status from "not that great" to "dead to me". FedEx deliveries: leave it here and walk away silently. If you require a signature, please carefully forge the following signature on your slip. It's cool. You have my permission. I will not sue you. Unless you wake my baby up. Visiting Teachers: I know you're here to see if I need anything. You are so thoughtful and diligent and the best thing you can do for me is not even think about knocking on this door right now and it would be even better if you could just consider me visited for like 6-12 months. We both win. You're job is done and I don't have to straighten the house or risk a knock.

These days even when he is totally healthy I have to drag Jack out of bed against his will about fifty percent of the time but every single time I have to talk myself into it psyche myself out. Needless to say, if he is sick he doesn't get disturbed and strange rambling notes that offend ward members end up on my front door.

Back to the awesome phone call. No, wait. First let me tell you how I feel about voice mail. On my list of things that technology has done to make life much worse, Voice mail is right up there with Internet pornography, emoticons, and fatal car crashes caused by drivers who text and drive. I hate it. I hate that we are all expected to be available to everyone all the time. I can't stand listening to a 60 second message where the caller informs me that they called and rattles off their return phone number. I know they called. My phone tells me if I miss a call. It logs the time and date and it even stores the phone number. I have an app that will triangulate your exact location and display it for me on a satellite image. So I am not just aware that you called, I know you were at your kitchen table when you called and I can see that your winter grass still looks pretty good in the front yard but the back yard probably needs some fertilizer. I'm not using an old rotary dial phone with a curly cord and an answering machine that uses tapes. And these callers are most likely not at a pay phone at a gas station. Text messages are the way to go. I predict that in the not too distant future, phone calls will be considered rude except in times of emergency or really big news such as "You have cancer" or "I am gay" or "I am divorcing you". Those occasions totally warrant a real conversation. Actually those occasions warrant three separate real conversations because If I ever have one conversation that includes all three of those things this whole voice mail pet peeve will become pretty insignificant. But I will still hate voice mail and never ever check it. Ever.

The thing about having your kid miss ten consecutive days of school because of illness is that calling in the absence every day becomes pretty tedious. Last year Jack's school had an attendance number that was a dedicated line that was strictly voice mail. This is one of two very special cases where I prefer voice mail. Sure I hated listening to the outgoing message where the school goes on for like half an hour with detailed instructions about what it means to leave a message and what information is expected to be included in that message and then an explanation about how often that voice mail will be checked and then thanking us for reporting the absence and asking us to kindly disregard any voice mail messages we may receive today informing us of our kid's absence because there is a chance that the system will give us an automated call before this voice mail gets checked and the information gets entered into the computer. You don't need to call us and be all "I called and left a message that my kid is sick and then like twenty minutes later I got a message from the school saying that my kid was absent and if I don't call it will be unexcused." These things happen. Leave a message after the beep.

At which point I am basically having a seizure of irritation and wondering if there is anyone left on the planet that doesn't know the beep protocol and did they really need to take that long to explain something so freaking simple? Then as I anticipate the beep it doesn't come and the whole message starts repeating itself. In Spanish. If the message was hard to sit through in my native tongue it gets downright torturous in a foreign language and prompts me to spend the time calculating the real cost of illegal immigration. Then I am thinking about why in the world we don't secure the border. Or at least distribute leaflets to all of the border jumpers with some basic Spanish to English translations that will be required. Then we stop paying for things like signs that say "VOTE AQUI" at all of the polling locations on election days (as if they are being mobbed by registered voters who can't figure out the meaning of the word "HERE" even when it is in the context of being on a sign immediately after the word "VOTE" because they speak so little English.) Am I the only one who sees those signs and wonders how in the world someone like that got through the process of choosing a political party and thoughtfully examining the candidates and the ballot measures? I think we want the people who can't figure out that "HERE" means "AQUI" to get lost while searching for their voting precinct. I mean, even if they never decode "HERE", the word "VOTE" should be enough to get their attention. If we just did away entirely with the "HERE" and the "AQUI" and only printed and posted VOTE signs, everyone with any business participating in the American democratic process will figure it out. If there is anything I love, it is identifying and analyzing social filters. Like when you open a charter school and don't participate in the federal free lunch program which may seem irrelevant if you have no intention of ever having your kid apply for free lunches but which becomes very relevant when you realize that by requiring everyone to either buy a ridiculously expensive cafeteria lunch or put the effort into making and packing a sack lunch, you just eliminated poor families, lazy families, most of the Democrats, and all of the riff raff. And I can argue both sides of the public school vs. charter school debate all day long but when it comes right down to it I enrolled my kid at the charter school and if anyone asks why, three words sum it up: Free Lunch Filter.

Which brings me back to the damn phone call and why I long for an attendance voice mail line. When I have to call ten school days in a row and have a real conversation with a real person to inform them that my kid is sick again, I am totally unable to just say "absence due to illness." and let it go. I say things like "He is still throwing up and the fever just won't break." and then the polite person on the other line says something like "Poor thing. I hope he gets well soon." and then I say "You're telling me! This has been a nightmare. Everyone caught it and there is nothing quite as bad as being sick in bed and feeling like you might vomit at any second but then your kid vomits all over the couch and you scream for them to run for the toilet which makes them start running but they puke while they are running and end up literally spraying a thirty foot long path of vomit through the entire house and you wish you would have just had them finish puking on the leather couch where they started and then spend the next hour and a half on your hands and knees soaking up vomit which would be bad in the best of health but you get to do it while you yourself are super sick."

And then I immediately wish I could take that whole episode of unnecessary self disclosure back. Or that I didn't speak a word of English. "Jack es el sicko. Adios." Then the next day I rehearse the call to be sure I don't become that crazy mom that everyone dreads. "Jack is still sick." But then she'll say something like "We'll look forward to seeing him again." and I will say "Yeah, I look forward to you seeing him again too. He is bored out of his mind here but he's too sick to go anywhere and he feels like crap which makes him cranky and then he fights with his brother all freaking day long and I end up either lovingly spoon feeding him and rubbing his back or yelling at him and threatening to beat him like a bi-polar prison nurse." Then there is a bit of awkward silence and then I say "Habla Espaniol?" and hang up. Even on a good day I am compelled to mention that now a chest cough has started. or that he's becoming frighteningly dehydrated. I have some weird deep seated need to convince them that I'm not just keeping him home because I'm too lazy to pack his lunch or because I don't care about his education, He really really can't be there. In the first few days I was always making the case that I was doing them a favor because he was most likely contagious or that his coughing and vomiting is likely to distract the other students and disrupt the learning process. In the second week I was telling them how I'd happily send him in wearing a full Haz-Mat suit if I thought he could even sit in class for more than half an hour without collapsing. Eight school days into it I was pretty sure that they got the picture. On the ninth day I didn't call and I saw their missed call and I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they would figure out why he wasn't there. He's not ditching, we're not at Disneyland, we didn't run out of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Capri-Suns, We didn't just sleep in and forget we had somewhere we were supposed to be. We have not been taken into custody by Immigration. Ditto on day nine. Which brings us to this morning when this broad is scolding me for not listening to her voice mails and calling in each and every day. I was told in no uncertain terms that unless I could get him there for at least half of the day he would be forcibly withdrawn.

I apologized profusely and promised that he'd be there. "What counts as an attendance? five minutes? five hours? give me the exact requirement." I was totally committed to bringing my kid in to solve this problem no matter what. The CDC be damned and the entire science of microbiology for that matter. He may need to be in the fetal position on the floor and you'll thank me later for recommending a really big vomit bowl be kept with him at all times. We will be there. We will disregard the spirit of the law at the peril of the entire class and we will fulfill the letter of the law and he will be there and will not have been absent ten consecutive days. Then when I drag him home I will know that the rules were followed. And that I just bought us nine and a half more absent school days. Heaven forbid we take ten. Missing ten days of school is just plain wrong. Nine and a half is totally acceptable. Everyone knows that. We are not getting kicked out of the charter school. We are the exact match to their target demographic and I own way too many of their stupid uniforms to even consider letting them kick us out. I'm sure she was completely confused when I started babbling about how we can totally afford their inflated hot lunch prices. Which she totally deserved.

Then I went upstairs to wake Jack up and force him to get dressed and he was unresponsive. So I pulled the covers off and put my hand on him. Fever. His lips were chapped, his cheeks were red, he was sleeping so deeply that my ice cold hands on his hot back didn't make him flinch. And that was the moment I got out my phone and told the charter school to take their enrollment and shove it.

Then I called the doctor and they got him right in. I loaded him up and drove him down there and learned they think he has pneumonia but possibly mono, valley fever or foot and mouth disease. WHaa? Each time I had to tell someone at the doctor's office that he had been sick for ten school days which is actually a lot more than ten actual days, I would realize how retarded I am for waiting this long. And then I would point out that I was just here last week with Abe and if you've seen one sick Kramer kid, you've seen 'em all, right? I'm an idiot. I can say "vote here" in  four, maybe five languages, but beyond that I am obviously not too bright. I probably shouldn't vote. They were definitely confused when they heard my strange rambling about the price tax payers pay to print twice as many signs than is necessary and the suggestion that we take all of those signs to the border and fashion a big long continuous fence out of them. Which they totally didn't deserve.

So now Jack is loaded up with prescriptions and he is technically unenrolled in school which is a bigger relief than anything else and until this kid is totally recovered I am keeping him here on the couch with me and a bowl and I will not even think about calling in absences or ridiculous threats of forced withdrawal when we all know that that school will gladly re-enroll him the very second we stroll in. There is like a week left in the school year and they're not turning down the cash that they get from the State. They are running a business and capitalism will do its job and inject some rationale into the situation. I'm not worried. And if that fails, I can totally blackmail them into re-enrolling him because I happen to know something about them that I am pretty sure they'd rather keep quiet. It has to do with free lunches and federal requirements. I prefer we not go there because if my precious free lunch filter is lost then we will lose interest in the place anyway, but don't think I won't leave threatening messages, because that is the only other very specific case in which I really prefer voice mail. When blackmailing and/or delivering threats.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Plague Has Passed

Every single member of this household has been so sick at some point this week that a visit to the Emergency Room was debated for each person. Now that we are all on the mend I realize that it was actually lucky that we were sick at the same time because we saved hundreds of dollars in copays just because no one with a driver's license could muster the strength it takes to sit in a waiting room.

Jack got hit the worst by far. he went about four days without eating and even then was able to produce large quantities of vomit. I can't even imagine where the chunks were made of and I considered saving a sample to have it analyzed in a lab but I was too busy cleaning puke off of every soft surface within a ten foot radius of where Jack was laying and dry heaving. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure our insurance doesn't cover lab work that serves no purpose beyond twisted curiosity. No wonder the Tylenol isn't bringing the fever down. If a hot dog from four days ago hasn't made its way into the bloodstream chewable grape-ish flavored fever reducers never had a chance. Then you get to decide if its safe to give another dose and find yourself combing through vomit for anything that could possibly have been grape-ish flavored. Welcome to one of those moments you never saw coming: the moment you honestly considered using chewable Tylenol as a suppository. On a person other than yourself.

Both of my kids and my husband have a thing for spiking high fevers. I've had enough experience with each of them to know that its not time to freak out until its over 105 degrees. Also, theres not much anyone can do about it beyond Tylenol and if you go into the hospital and demand answers the next thing you know they are asking you to sign papers allowing them to do a spinal tap even though everyone knows its just the flu. Then you turn down the spinal tap and say a prayer offering your next born child in exchange for the absence of meningitis.

John and I have a different opinion on when its time to involve doctors on an illness. I only want to go if I know for sure that they can do something for us that we couldn't do ourselves which basically means we need a prescription. The run-of-the-mill illnesses that pass through this house just need bed rest and 44 ounce Sonic slushes. I understand that even the most capable of physicians are not just trying to ease suffering but make a living and make payroll. No doctor likes looking a kid over and saying "It's a virus. It will pass. I recommend the lime slushes. We take cash or credit." Instead they always write a prescription for antibiotics in the off chance that its a bacterial infection and to make sure you don't feel ripped off and then you get sentenced to ten days of holding a kid down and pouring "bubble gum flavored" pink liquid down their throat. About six days later when your kid is totally healthy again and you come across the pink liquid in the fridge behind the pickles you wonder if the medicine made him get well or if he would have gotten well anyway. Then you have a pang of guilt that you didn't administer the whole ten day course and consider the possibility that you have unwittingly contributed to the creation of antibiotic resistant super bugs. So that co-pay you forked over and that two hours of your life you will not get back might have done more harm than good. To humanity.

A long time ago before we had kids John had a sickness that just seemed to go on and on and on. We were self employed and didn't have health insurance so I insisted that he not go to the doctor. a few more weeks passed and he still felt like he had a mild cold and he began to make his doctor request more often. I insisted that this was going to be a couple of hundred dollar endeavor for absolutely nothing. He kept insisting that he could tell it wasn't just a cold. He was sure that something was very wrong with him. He went to the doctor and returned triumphant with a solid diagnosis. He had Mono! Ha!

"See! I told you I was really sick! They did blood work and everything. Totally positive for Mono! I told you so!"

"And what can they do for you to make you feel better?"

"There's nothing you can do for Mono. You just have to wait it out."

"So we just paid a couple hundred bucks for nothing. I told you so."

Roughly ten years has passed since this conversation took place and we are both still unswayed.

Every time one of the kids gets even mildly sick John starts insisting that they get to a doctor. He has yet to volunteer to be the parent tasked with carrying this out. Then we exchange a well rehearsed dialog where I explain that doctors are just dudes who have jumped through a lot of hoops and paid a lot of money to a university. They are not healers, they do not have a crystal ball and they are generally not psychic. Then John delivers his lines about how he'd rather be safe than sorry and then we negotiate a compromise involving a strict timeline.

"If he is still coughing by 11:37 am I will call the doctor and see if they can get him in."

"I will see your 11:37 and raise you a visit straight to Urgent Care"

Even if he has caught the same illness and needs to be seen too and we (I) get an immediate appointment for both of them to be seen at the same time, I still have to attend the appointment. Which is a pain but it is way better than sitting home awaiting a full report and then having a conversation along these lines:

"What did he say? Did he make sure his ears aren't infected? Did they swab his throat? You remembered to mention the tonsillectomy from two years ago, right? Could he hear that kind of rattling sound when he breathes deeply? did you ask him about my grape flavored suppository idea?"

"Uhhh… I don't know. he gave me some prescriptions. I'm stopping my Sonic for a slush on my way home. Want anything?"

John and Jack both really like to be taken care of. I kind of suck at taking care of people. They both tend to milk illnesses for all of the pampering they can get. In fact, Thats how I know that they are really really sick. When they are feeling too ill to ask for things. I try really hard to nurture everyone through the sniffles and offer chicken soup and back rubs but I'm far more likely to send you to bed and tell you where the Kleenex is. The other day when John was feeling crappy he was getting dressed. We were both equal distance from the bin of clean socks. "Hun, will you get me some socks?"

So I got the socks and then dramatically held each one open for him to slide his foot into. I thought it would be funny. As if anyone needs their socks put on for them.

John just pressed his foot into the sock like it was totally normal and we both had to exert major force to get it all the way on. "Thank you, sweetie. You take such good care of me." He was touched by my gesture of kindness.

"John, I am kidding. I make Abe put on his own socks. I wasn't trying to be sweet, I was trying to make you laugh."

There is a reason I wasn't invited to The Last Supper. I would be like, "Hey, it actually takes more energy for me to sit still and let you wash my feet than it would take to just wash 'em myself."  I like to imagine myself having a Peter kind of response and insisting that I do the foot washing, but I know I'd probably be like, "hey guys, lets just all agree to keep our stinky feet to ourselves."  John is total Last Supper material.

It has got to suck to be a doctor in the Information Age. Everyone they see has googled their symptoms to death already and they come in expecting you to be totally familiar with every possible diagnosis off the top of your head. Its got to be hard to compete with WebMD. I'm sure the constant TV ads pushing pharmaceuticals are a total pain in the neck. They are probably right up there with shows about undetected full term pregnancies and frivolous malpractice lawsuits. And I have a feeling that any grown man willing to ask another grown man (or even worse, a grown woman) "Is my heart healthy enough for sexual activity?" has probably got bigger problems than sex or a weak heart. I'm leaning towards severe autism or Tourette's Syndrome. And I would know. I have a smart phone.

Since we have decent health insurance and a really great family doctor I'm not that opposed to taking a very sick kid in. The real hassle starts when you involve the pharmacy. Last week when Abe was extremely sick the doctor's office got him right in. We were in and out on our way home. Then the usual post doctor dilemma came up. Do you drop the prescriptions off on the way home and then go home and then leave the house again thirty minutes later to pick it up? or do you drag your sick kid into the pharmacy waiting room? This time I decided to go to a CVS in the opposite direction of home because it is by Home Depot and I have been needing to get some paint so I figured we could do that while the scrip was being filled. The prescriptions were for antibiotics (sorry about SARS), Albuterol and a nebulizer. Here is the chain of events:

CVS says that they don't carry nebulizers and recommends Walgreen's. (Nice sales strategy, CVS.)

Drive to Walgreen's and they say only the 24 hour location carries nebulizers. I ask if my insurance will even cover a nebulizer. I am told immediately that of course they will. I am suspicious that this response didn't involve a computer or a telephone but what do I know about nebulizers?

Drive further away from home to 24 hour location and drop off prescriptions. Am told it will be ready in half an hour.

Get paint. Totally infect race car shaped shopping cart with what may well be SARS.

Return to Walgreen's. Am told that they are out of both the antibiotic and the Abuterol but they can order it and have it by tomorrow. They would be happy to fill my prescription for a nebulizer. This would have been helpful info exactly thirty minutes earlier. They offer to send the prescriptions to a different location by my house. It will take them half an hour to fill. Thats good because thats how long the drive will take since I drove all the way to the stupid 24 hour location.

I drive to the new Walgreen's and am informed that they too are fresh out of antibiotics  but there is another Walgreen's that has all of it. Its only two miles away but it will take a half an hour to fill.

I drag sick kid to various time-killing errands like getting gas.

Gas pump sells me exactly five dollars of gas and then informs me that the bank will not authorize a purchase higher than that.

I frantically check bank balance. Plenty of money. No apparent reason for debit card debacle. I call bank. They assure me that everything is A-okay and I shouldn't have anymore problems. I give up on gas and head to pharmacy. If you are counting, this is pharmacy number four and Walgreen's number three.

Crazy long line at Walgreen's (which is understandable when you consider that they are the only location in town that sells antibiotics.)

My turn. "Picking up three prescriptions for Kramer."

I have two ready for Kramer. The third one, for the nebulizer is not covered by your insurance. Do you want it anyway? I'm sure I can borrow one but I'm considering the purchase just to have a large object to throw at someone. No nebulizer for us. Clearly God doesn't want us to have one.

"That will be twenty dollars."

"Here you go." Hand over debit card. (which must be done through a complicated metal drawer with a dirty plastic basket because everyone knows that it is a good idea to force all pharmacy patrons to touch the same surface. I give credit to the evil geniuses who run Walgreen's. They know how to get repeat customers.)

The card is declined. God doesn't want me to have a nebulizer and he hates me.

Drive to the freaking bank. Find out that there is nothing wrong with my account, there is just some odd issue with that particular physical debit card. I get cash.

Back to Walgreen's. Back to the back of the line.

Pay twenty dollars and have the nebulizer conversation again. "Just hand over the medicine, please."

"Sure, I just need to get the pharmacist to go make it."

"MAKE IT? It's not MADE? Yes, by all means, now is the time to begin the process of making the antibiotics. I'll wait right here." I passed the time searching for a hidden camera crew. This had to be a reality TV show where they provoke unsuspecting people to their breaking point. How did they get Abe in on the prank? Nah. Has to be God. He is totally holding me to that whole meningitis deal from 2005.

Cue the horrible coughing fit from the sick child who has been dragged all over town for antibiotics to treat a virus and Albuterol with no nebulizer with which to administer the Albuterol.

Cue the vomit.

Cue more vomit.

Lady is back. "It will be a few more minutes. I just need to have the pharmacist go over this with you. Has Abraham ever had this medication before?"

"We will figure it all out. Just give it to me. Please. I'm begging you. Just give it to me." I was scaring her. Now I know why they work behind bullet proof glass.

By the time I walked in the door and was greeted by John all I could do was point in the general direction of the garage and say "Go. Upholstery cleaner. Paper towels. Fabreeze. SARS. Lysol. Go." He was smart and got right on it without complaint. He was very sweet and thanked me for taking Abe to the doctor. I couldn't in good conscience say "You're welcome." so I settled on "Thank you for saying thank you." Then he mentioned that the car was really low on gas. Oh no you di'int.

My emotional state recovered at about the same rate as Abe. Kristen has literally half a dozen nebulizers laying around and I made peace with God and began the process of forgiving Walgreen's (which becomes exponentially more difficult each time I get a phone call from their automated system reminding me that Abe's nebulizer is awaiting pick up). Then I got busy googling the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which I would totally see the doctor about except that he will just write me a damn prescription.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Magic of Swearing

Abe has discovered bad words. Everyone has to stumble upon them at some point in life.

The other day when the iPad went dead he asked "Where is the damn charger?"

I calmly asked him to not say damn and stated firmly "We don't say damn."

He was totally confused. "Yes. We do say damn. I just said damn."

He had a point. Nonetheless, I held my ground. "I don't like hearing the word damn. Please don't say it."

At this point I was mentally making a list of things that I should probably eliminate from my vocabulary for at least the next fifteen years or so. The last thing in the world I want to do is to try and enforce rules I won't keep myself. Nagging kids is enough work already.

I know that Jack is well versed in all of the swear words but not because I can recall a time when he used them. Only the times he expressed his outrage at hearing them and demanded justice for the offender. He is a hangin' judge. He expects to live in a house where the law is enforced and he will resort to vigilante tactics if it comes to that.

Abe on the other hand just wants to be entertained. Being a normal four year old he experiments with naughtiness on a regular basis. He is good natured and easy going and all he really wants is to get a laugh. To him the only thing more worthwhile than getting a laugh is getting a tantrum of angry outrage. I'm sure you can see where the plot of this movie is headed and it is R-rated. For language and violence.

So a swearing four year old does not really intimidate me. I have read enough parenting guide books and child discipline research to have my strategy well established. But like every child rearing issue, reality is always just a little bit more complicated than the books can prepare you for. In this case, Abe didn't just come right out and say the bad words, he strategically said them only when he was very sure I couldn't hear and Jack could. So the scene that played out over and over today was two kids playiing nicely interrupted by Jack screaming and shouting and flipping out. He would spew out every harsh word he could think of in response stopping just short of actually swearing himself. His face would turn red and he would flail his arms in total outrage. So what should a good parent do when presented with an alleged potty mouth and a verified tantrum thrower? I don't have any idea. If you know any good parents please ask them.

I am far more inclined to punish a kid for freaking out than I am for bad language and I have been known to use the latter in response to the former.Needless to say, Jack was miffed every time when he ended up getting sent to his room and Abe walked free. We were headed for full blown revolution.

The next time it happened I did my best to ignore Jack completely. Focusing on Abe I said "Abe, even though I haven't heard you myself I know that you have been using bad words and I want to talk to you about it. It is not okay to use bad words. You must stop right now. There are some words that we should never never say because they will hurt people's feelings. You may have heard me say these words before and I want to apologize to you for ever saying them. It was wrong of me and I am sorry. I'm going to try my best to only use nice words from now on. Will you please do that with me?"

He looked me in the eye and said "So you say bad words, Mom?"

As luck would have it, he didn't learn these bad words from his mother and he was a little shocked by the news that I ever used them.

"Oh, me? Use bad words? Hell no. I mean, I may have said certain things in the past that could possibly be considered crude but mostly I stick to nice words. That confession you just heard? That was total bullshit. NO! It was bull crap. No! I don't even swear. Well, very rarely. And even then it is only at very selective times and it is usually only to be funny. Or to make uptight people uncomfortable, but only because making uptight people uncomfortable is generally pretty funny. Obviously you know what I'm talking about here. Never mind. Where did you learn those words, anyway?"

As if he could accurately account for where he heard a few words that wouldn't even get censored from prime time television. Its not like he was dropping F bombs. If you believe Jack's side of the story, Abe likes to alternate between A-S-S and B-I-T-C-H. Points to Jack for spelling accuracy and best dramatic performance in theatrical production. Thats my boy.

Anyway, I learned the hard way why you should never testify against yourself. If you are smart you will plead the Fifth Amendment. If you are on trial, do not take the stand. It is almost always a losing strategy and there is a reason why the Fifth Amendment exists. Incidentally there is a reason that the First Amendment exists too and while I don't condone the use of bad words I recognize that people have died in battle to protect my right to use them.

On an unrelated note, if you are ever outsmarted by a four year old when attempting to scold him for something you are totally guilty of, my advice is to begin a long disjointed lecture about The Bill of Rights.

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys