Monday, August 26, 2013

Conversations With Jess: Mending Fences

JESS:  So, how's Brandon?

ME:  Still butthurt.  It really sucks.  I haven't gone this long without talking to him in years.

JESS:  So, what in hell happened with you two?  You've been friends forever; why'd he all of a sudden go all Biggie Smalls on you, Tupac?

ME:  I have no idea.

JESS:  Well, what pissed him off?

ME:  He was over at my house hanging out, as usual.  We were arguing over the remote and he started talking smack about my taste in television programming.

JESS:  I've got his back on that one, you watch some sketchy shit.

ME:  That's not what made him mad.  We were arguing over the TV, then he went to heat up some chili and spilled it on my new Paige denim skirt.

JESS:  Annoying, but still not seeing why HE'S mad.

ME:  So, we're sitting on the couch later and he asks me about work. . .

JESS:  Okay.

ME:  . . .so, I tell him about work then ask him about his girlfriend.

JESS:  Okay.

ME:  Then he asks me to give him my honest opinion about something.

JESS:  Whoomp, there it is.

ME:  What?

JESS: Jen, when a guy asks for your honest opinion, he doesn't really want your honest opinion.  He wants you to tell him that his shitty life choices are solid, his relationship is perfect, and that size really doesn't matter.

ME:  I call bullshit on the last one.

JESS: Every woman calls bullshit on the last one, we just don't tell men that.

ME:  If he didn't really want an honest opinion, then why in hell did he ask me?  I believe my historical lack of verbal filter speaks for itself.

JESS:  He asked you because you're the only woman in his life who doesn't kiss his ass.

ME:  I don't kiss anyone's ass.  If you want shit sugar-coated, call Cap'n Crunch.

JESS:  But, seriously.  Who are the other women in Brandon's life?

ME:  His mom, his girlfriend, and the ever-expanding army of skanks sniffing after him like like they're DEA hounds and he's an eight-ball of Bolivian marching powder.

JESS:  Exactly.  His mom is going to think that everything he does is perfect.  His 20-year-old girlfriend is so blinded by the fact that she's getting poked by a 27-year-old regulation hottie that she'll tell him he craps sunflowers and pisses champagne, and the skank army will say anything they think will culminate in having his pants dropped faster than Rosie O'Donnell on a greased firepole.

ME: Yeah, I don't really operate on that frequency.

JESS:  Oh, I'm well aware of that, believe me.  And Brandon is aware of it too.  That's why he asked for your opinion.  And, that's why he's pissed off; because , secretly, he knows you're right.  You're making him think, and we all know that thinking isn't exactly Brandon's strong suit.

ME:  True.  It's a good thing that boy's pretty.

JESS:  So very pretty.  If I weren't married I'd tap that like he was an Alaskan oil field and I was George Bush.

ME:  Marital status has never stood in Brandon's way before.

JESS:  Duly noted.  So, what are you up to today?

ME:  Thinking about going to the gym.

JESS: I'm a lazy bastard so if you're looking to me to motivate you you'll be sorely disappointed.

ME:  Oh, I have plenty of motivation.  The local fire department works out there five days a week.

JESS:  Oh dear God.  Are they aware of your penchant for men with big hoses?

ME:  It is magical, Jess.  So many lovely men lined up like jewels in a Tiffany's window.  It's like watching "Magic Mike" on a constant loop, only without that whole extraneous plot line thing.

JESS: Yeah, what was up with that?  Less talk-y, more strip-y, Channing.  So does your gym offer free membership to firefighters or something?

ME:  Yup.  I think it's a brilliant move on the part of 24 Hour Fitness.  What better way to ensure female membership retention than to pack the house with sweaty, muscular men?

JESS:  Brilliant indeed.  Well, have a great workout.  try not to pull a groin muscle. . .yours or anyone else's.

ME:  Yeah, yuk it up, Freakshow.


A mere forty minutes later I was peddling furiously on the elliptical trainer, sweating harder than Paula Deen at a Black Panthers rally.  Squinting through the miasma of testosterone and and Axe body spray in hopes of a glimpse at a muscular fireman, my gaze fell on a familiar face.

I climbed down gingerly from the machine, my legs still wobbling like a newborn colt's from the exertion and walked slowly toward the young man bench-pressing in the center of the weight room.

"Hey, you."  I said with a shaky smile.  "Need a spotter?"

Brandon looked up at me resentfully, then silently returned to bench-pressing.

"So, that's it?"  I asked.  "You won't even say 'hi' to me?"

Brandon lowered the weight slowly, then rolled to his feet and began walking toward the locker room.

"C'mon, B."  I cajoled, following him past the treadmills.  "We've been friends for eight years.  Eight.  Years.  And now you can't bring yourself to say 'hi' to me because I called you on your shit?  That's what I do!  You KNOW that!  It's part of my goddamned charm!"

Brandon whirled around and opened his mouth to speak.  Then, he thought better of it, turned on his heel and stomped angrily into the men's room.  I stood there quietly, then felt a warm hand on my shoulder.

"He'll come around, Sweetie."  said the elderly man behind me.  "A boy always does for a pretty girl."

I smiled weakly.  "I don't know.  He's pretty mad."

The man patted my shoulder once more.  "If he really loves you, he'll be back."

I shook my head rapidly.  "Oh. . .no.  Big no.  Giant, heaping piles of no.  We aren't. . .like that.  We're just friends."

"Even better," the man said.  "Girlfriends come and go but a real friend is always there."  he gave me a comforting smile.

"He punched the wall."  I said.  "And he called me a judgmental bi. . .umm, a judgmental bad person."

He chuckled.  "Maybe you were a judgmental bitch, Honey, but if that was his reaction then I'd say you probably hit the nail right on the head.  Trust me, he'll see that eventually."

"Thank you."  I nodded gratefully.  "That kid annoys the ever-lovin hell outta me, but I've kind of gotten used to having him around."

Glumly, I made my way to the locker room and pouted in the sauna for twenty minutes before showering, dressing, and heading out into the afternoon drizzle to my car.

I almost didn't see it at first.  It wasn't until I slid the keys into the ignition and looked up that I saw the note.  A small slip of paper, torn from what appeared to be a magazine.  I slid from the cab of my SUV and plucked the paper from beneath my windshield wiper. Unfolding it, I saw a single word.

He may not have forgiven me, and hell, he may never forgive me.  But I feel like the door was opened just a crack.  And you know what they say:  a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Or in this case, a single word.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Reason #463 Why I'm Glad I Have Boys

"So, what are you going to do?" Gina asked, leaning her slim arms on the countertop.

"I don't have a fucking clue."  Kelly said with a sigh.  "I mean, he may not even know what's going on. . .at least, I HOPE he doesn't know what's going on because that brings things to a Vladmir Nabokov level of 'Euw'."

To get you up to speed, last week Kelly and I picked up her 14-year-old daughter and two of her friends from cheerleading practice.  On the ride home all three girls were discussing a fellow squad member who was "obsessed" with her mother's boyfriend.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

"What do you mean 'obsessed'?"  Kelly inquired.

Sophie rolled her blue eyes dramatically. "Ohmigod, Mom, it's sooooooo weird!  She has, like, a bazillion pictures of him on her phone and she's always writing his name on her hands and talking about how cute he is and how hot he is and how she loves to snuggle with him on the couch and how she can't wait to get home and see him.  It's like, really creepy."

"Did you hear her talking about his butt the other day?"  Sophie's friend Hanna piped in while furiously texting on her iPhone.*

*Please explain why a 14-year-old has a nicer phone than me?   Bitch.

Kelly squinted dubiously.  "Wait. . .what?  What exactly did she say, Hanna?"

Forced to pry her eyes from her phone, Hanna sighed wearily.  "It was totally sketch, Mrs. L.  She was all 'he has such a cute ass, and I love summer because he has his shirt off all the time'."

"Oh, BARF!"  their friend Chloe chimed in.

"Barf squared."  Hanna agreed.

"W-w-w dot barf dot org."  Sophie concluded with a sage nod.

"Nice one, Soph."  I replied proudly, reaching over the seat to give her a congratulatory fist bump.

Kelly cleared her throat in annoyance.  "Can we stay focused here?  If half of what you're saying is true then someone needs to talk to this girl's mom."

Hanna, back to texting furiously, tossed back her curly blonde hair.  "Her mom totally wouldn't care, Mrs. L.  She's like, a total hippie.  She's probably into free love, or whatever."

"Either way," Kelly mused with a furrowed brow, "either way, someone has to have a serious talk with that girl."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"So, you didn't talk to the mom or the boyfriend yet?"  Gina gasped.  "What in hell are you waiting for?" 

Kelly turned her gaze to me coolly.  "Care to explain, Jen?"

I took a swig of my coconut water and politely flipped Kelly the bird.  "Let's just say that when we went to practice the following day, Miss Sophie pointed out the Lolita in question."

"And?"  Gina asked with a raise of her perfectly arched brows.

"And", I continued.  "I knew her.  I mean, I knew WHO she was."

Gina stared, uncomprehendingly.  "OK.  So, you knew her. . ."

"Well, I didn't really know her," I elaborated,  "but I know her mom's boyfriend. . .that is, I knew her mom's boyfriend."

"Wait a minute."  Gina said with a shake of her head.  "What do you mean you knew her mom's boyfriend?"

I set my drink on the counter with a nervous smile.  "I mean, I knew him.  Like, knew him, knew him."

Gina gasped.  "You mean you knew him..."

"Dude no! Not in a Book of Leviticus sense." I cried. "He used to live at my old apartment complex."

"But at the same time,"  Kelly spoke out, "someone HAS to tell the mom what in hell is going on before this kid is all up on him like Charlie Sheen on an eight-ball of Columbian snow.  I mean, we all know how this will end, I've seen that shitty Alicia Silverstone movie."

I waved a hand in confusion.  "You're going to have to clarify your pop culture references, Kell.  Saying 'shitty' and 'Alicia Silverstone movie' in the same sentence doesn't exactly narrow it down."

"Ooh!  I know the one you're talking about!"  Gina squealed.  "That's the one where she was, like, thirteen and was all obsessed with the hot guy living on the guest house and she tried to kill his girlfriend by locking her in a shed with killer bees and she knocked her friend off of a horse and bludgeoned her dad with a nine iron.  Right?"

"Daaaaaaamn!"  I cried.  "Who knew Cher Horowitz was so angsty?"

Kelly smirked.  "She was a lot more angsty before she went militant vegan and started regurgitating her kid's food.   But, anyway, yes.  That's the movie.  And while I'm quite sure the girl on Sophie's squad probably doesn't have access to an apiary or an Appaloosa, the end result will be similar.  You just can't argue with the ultimate law of the universe."

"Which is?"  I inquired.

"Bitches be trippin'." Kelly stated with a sage nod.

Gina shook her head sadly.  "I don't know, Jen.  If you know this dude you really ought to mention something to him."

Kelly heaved a sigh, hoisting herself up from the barstool.  "No, Geen, we're gonna leave Jen out of this one.  trust me, she doesn't need any additional crazy in her life."*

*Still not sure if I should be comforted or offended by that statement.  I'm opting for comforted.  I've found that the key to positivity is self-delusion.

Gina seemed dubious.  "Well, what would YOU want, Kelly?  If Sophie was hot for your live-in boyfriend, would you want to know?"

"First of all,"  Kelly clarified, "I would not have a man living under the same roof with my teenaged daughter until I had both a wedding ring and a background check, and secondly, if Sophie looked anything like this girl I'd have her wear a burka til she was thirty."

"Pretty hot?"  Gina asked.

Kelly nodded.  "Gorgeous.  Long blonde hair,the body of a 21-year-old swimsuit model and a rack that we'd all stomp puppies for."  She paused. "Well, maybe not Jen.  Jen's rack is pretty epic."*

*She's right.  My rack is spectacular.  I'm told it can heal the blind.

"You do have a great rack."  Gina conceded.  "I'm surprised you don't dress sluttier than you do.  If I had your funbags I'd be walking around in a tube top in the dead of winter."

I shook my head solemnly.  "I couldn't do that, Geen.  You don't understand what it's like to wield this majesty.  Like it says in the Bible, 'with great power comes great responsibility'".

She tilted her head in confusion.  "Wasn't that Stan Lee?"

"Hey, you have your god, I have mine."  I smirked.

Kelly threw a napkin at me in frustration.  "Can we PLEASE stay on track here?  Clif's Notes version: hot teenaged girl lusting over guy living in her house.  Two other impressionable younger daughters in the house as well. Mom may or may not have a clue.  So, I talk to the coach...then what?"

"Then...nothing."  Gina responded.  "There's nothing you CAN do.  Mom can't watch her daughter 24/7 and if she thinks there's some sketchy shit going on then she'll either kick him out or look the other way.  You have no control over that."

"Oh, she won't kick him out."  I laughed.  "He's hot, and she's a 40-year-old single mom with three kids.  She isn't stupid; she knows what the market is like for women in our demographic.  He could light her on fire and she wouldn't leave him."

Kelly groaned and slumped back onto the barstool, burying her face in her hands.  I leaned against her, patting her hair consolingly.  "Buck up, My Brave Little Toaster.  You can't throw all of the starfish back into the ocean."  She looked up at me wearily.

"I'd just like to keep the underaged starfish from winding up pregnant or giving handjobs at a freeway rest stop by the time they're sixteen."

"And that's why I'm glad I have boys".  I smiled.  "With boys you only have to worry about one penis.  With girls, you have to worry about ALL of them."


PS:  Kelly talked to the coach.  Apparently other parents had spoken to her as well.  I don't know what the end result will be but I'm praying that this little girl comes through it unscathed.

Monday, August 19, 2013

BlogHer 2013. A Recap. . .Finally. . .

For those who aren't hep to the myriad vagaries of the blogging world, there is an annual convention of female bloggers called BlogHer.  The largest blogging convention in the country, it allows writers to meet, promote their blogs, and attend seminars on everything from copyright law to comedic references.  The convention has become so popular that there are entire websites dedicated to bashing it and talking more trash than an IFC heavyweight.

A fellow blogger who was unable to attend this year's convention asked me if it was anything like what was mentioned on one particular site.  Having never heard of the site she mentioned, I quickly googled it and spent the next fifteen minutes laughing myself into an asthma attack at the insane bullshit these women apparently thought went on at BlogHer.  Here are three of my personal favorite asinine comments:

"Everyone going to BlogHer thinks they're going to be the next Heather Armstrong or Pioneer Woman, and sorry, those positions have been filled. What's left is scrambling for free dildos and $50 sponsored posts, while selling your soul and the lives of your kids.  All these women are delusional."

"I have heard from sources that I trust, that there are more than a few lady bloggers who get down with the Sapphic love at the lady love-fest known as BlogHer.  Gals who become situationally bi after a few drinks."

"Blogher is like high school with more money.  The backstabbing and coattail-riding, the screwing the administrators to get P.R. or to get privileges, drunken parties where spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends are forgotten, the petty catfights, the girls who make out with each other to appear hot to any guy in the vicinity, and so on... It's a JOKE.  A big fucking joke."

Ho.  Ly.  Shit.   "Bitch?  Party of three?  Your table is ready."  Perhaps I can start you ladies off with a pitcher of Haterade to wash down those peanut bitter and jealousy sandwiches you've ordered.  Now first of all, it is obvious that these people have never actually attended BlogHer and secondly, SWEET BABY JEEBUS IN A HOT POCKET HOW CAN I FIND A CONVENTION LIKE THAT!?!?  Free love?  Drunken debauchery?  Hair-pulling and backstabbing?  Where do I sign up!?!?  Sadly, that is not the BlogHer I've grown to know and love.  So I thought I would address all of these erroneous accusations separately.

1. "Everyone going to BlogHer thinks they're going to be the next Heather Armstrong or Pioneer Woman..."

OK, first of all, I have no idea who Heather Armstrong IS so it's doubtful that I am aspiring to be her.*

*No offense, Heather Armstrong.  I'm sure you're rad as shit...whomever you are.

And next, if I'm not mistaken, the Pioneer Woman is all domestic and cooks and shit, so. . .umm. . .no.  Just. . .no.

2. Bloggers are "selling your soul and the lives of your kids" by attending BlogHer.

No argument here.  I am sure that the 72 hours my 11-year-old children spent torn from the arms of their mother were a living hell.  They may never recover from the deep, emotional scars formed by mountain biking, swimming, and eating ice cream with their doting grandparents while I prostituted my blog in the Windy City.  My only hope is that when their Christina Crawford-esque memoir is turned into a Lifetime movie they don't cast Tori Spelling to play me, because. . .well, fuck Tori Spelling.

3.  "All of these women are delusional".

Amber Alert:  we don't ALL attend BlogHer in hopes of being the next Jen Lancaster, or Jenny Lawson, or Heather Armstrong.*

*Seriously.  This is driving me batshit crazy.  Who in hell is Heather Armstrong?

Some of us, MOST of us, in fact, blog for our own enjoyment and not with the erroneous belief that we will meet someone at BlogHer who will gasp in overwhelming awe at our witty repartee and whisk us off to Hollywood to confab with Tina Fey.  Are we attention whores?  Absolutely.  But the majority of us are content with our elite group of followers and don't check our stats like a bookie when the rent is due.  We write for ourselves and our readers, period.*

*Especially for the readers.  Because you guys?  Right here?  Fill my blackened heart with so much damned joy, you have no idea.  Mad love, y'all.

4. ". . .there are more than a few lady bloggers who get down with the Sapphic love at the lady love-fest known as BlogHer".

Dude.  It's 72 hours at a Sheraton; we aren't doing five to ten on Riker's Island.  Don't get me wrong, if I thought there was a chance I'd never get to ride the Wienermobile again, I may jump the fence to Taco Town, but it's going to take a longer dry spell than that, my friends.  I've remained brand loyal to dick for this long; it'll take more than a nacho buffet and a couple of Jager bombs to change that.

5.  "Blogher is like high school with more money"

Where is this "money" of which you speak?  Most bloggers I know are broke as a joke and save up all year for this convention.  We are teachers, and moms, and waitresses, and baristas. . .we are the "Every(wo)man".  Yeah, BlogHer ain't cheap, but most of us don't drive expensive cars or go on lavish vacations so we figure out a way to make it work.  And, for your information, I had MORE financial resources at my disposal when I was in high school than I do now so why don't you pop that little nugget of irony in your hashpipe and smoke it?

6. ". . .backstabbing and coattail-riding, the screwing the administrators to get P.R. or to get privileges. . ."

It's a blogging convention, not an episode of "The Real World".  No one is sleeping with the director or doing selfies in the hot tub or working as a bike messenger in SanFrancisco while tormenting their AIDS-advocate roommate and seducing the Catholic hottie, much to the dismay of the cartoonist who is totally in love with Pam, but seriously, how can ANY of them live with Puck?  That guy is so. . .wait. . .what were we talking about?

7. ". . .drunken parties where spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends are forgotten"

Bitch, please.  Most of us are at BlogHer so we can get AWAY from men for a few days.  Trust me, after 10 years of marriage to a sociopathic misogynist and a dating history that would make Dr. Drew flinch, the LAST thing on my vacation itinerary is huntin' down a fella.  And, as aforementioned, since I'm not a Lillith Fair kinda gal, it's a three day vow of celibacy for me.

8. ". . .girls who make out with each other to appear hot to any guy in the vicinity"

It's BlogHER; there ARE no men in the vicinity.  And if there are, they are either dressed as the Johnsonville sausage sun ((true story. . .don't ask)) or they are not vaginally-oriented.  Surrender any 'Girls Gone Wild' fantasies you may be harboring.  it's a lot more 'Housewives Gone Mild'.

So if that ISN'T BlogHer, what is?  It's having the chance to visit a city you've never visited before.

It's glowing with pride when you see your friends speaking before a crowd on every topic from Pinterest to gangsta rap.

It's coming face to face ((or finger to stomach)) with celebrities.

And, occasionally, with ACTUAL celebrities.

It's having a friend with a pathological Instagram addiction insist upon taking your picture in myriad locations despite your staunch belief that photography steals your soul.

And it's exacting your revenge.

But, first and foremost, BlogHer is a time for writers to come together in solidarity, in support, and in mutual admiration.  These women are my tribe.  They get me.  And I get them.  And, yes, there's the occasional asshat in the bunch but can't that be said of ANY group of individuals?  All I know is that BlogHer has never been anything but positive for me, and I look forward to attending in years to come.

Oh, but the internet haters were right about one thing. . .they totally hand out free dildos at BlogHer.  Win.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Mouse In The House

I pride myself on being an exemplary parent.

OK, maybe exemplary is a little high-handed.   I pride myself on being a good parent.

Although. . .my 11-year-old children are still incapable of properly tying their shoes and have the attention span of Jessica Simpson on Nyquil so perhaps "good" may be pushing the envelope just a scootch.

Meh, whatevs.  My short people have made it to 11 without committing a felony or acquiring any emotional scars that will have me guest-listed on the Dr. Phil show, so I'm declaring this whole motherhood thing to be a win.

As I have proven my mad parenting skillz* with my short people, it seemed only fair to spread the wealth around a bit and extend that knowledge base to the animal kingdom by acquiring a pet.  Yes, you heard me.  We got pets this weekend.  Small, furry living beings that require food, water, and human attention.  Pray for them.   Pray for us all.

*And yes, that's skillz with a 'z'.  We keeps it gangsta in mah crib, yo.

The short people have been bugging me for a pet for a while but I said "Fuck, no!" sweetly demurred as the only thing I loathe more than Nickelback, Crocs, and other people's children is neediness.  And pets?  Are needier than a fat girl on prom night.  But, as a parent, every so often I'm forced to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team, so I grudgingly agreed to let each of my short people get a hamster.  J was jonesing for a dog and M was totally Team Cat but I was adamant that any mammal entering our home would be one that would not require any veterinary care.*

*Because, if a hamster gets sick. . .well,  as my friend Alex would say: "Taking a hamster to the vet is like taking a disposable razor to the repair shop."  Cut your losses and move on.

As I am never one to enter into any milieu where shenanigans may ensue without a witness, we brought my friend Brandon along for the ride.  Brandon and first met at work years ago when I was going through my particularly heinous divorce.  Brandon offered to take my mind off of it.   Which he did.   Repeatedly.  In various locations.  Nowadays we have a more traditional friendship, with the understanding that if neither one of us are in a relationship then it is on like Saigon.   On paper, Brandon's and my friendship makes less sense than Braille on a drive-through ATM.*

*Seriously, would someone please explain that shit to me?  Because if I look over and see Stevie Wonder cruising up to Wells Fargo in a Nissan Sentra, then I'll be outta there faster than you can say "Isn't She Lovely".  But maybe that's just me. . .I'm very superstitious. . .OK, I'll stop now.

Where I am a 42-year-old woman with two children, a mortgage, and a 401K, Brandon is a 27-year-old dipshit who has an X-Box and a complete lack of functional life skills.  And yet, here we are.

We got to PetSmart after a failed attempt at PetCo.  Apparently PetCo doesn't actually sell. . .you know. . .pets; it just sells pet-related accoutrements.  Which is fine, in theory.  God and the Baby Jeebus know I loves me a nice accoutrement, but shouldn't the store name be a little less misleading? If PetCo really is "where pets go" then wouldn't it stand to reason that there would actually be a few pets in the hizz-ouse?  I'm just sayin...  So we roll into PetSmart and ho.  Ly.  Shit.  Have you been in one of these places?  It's huge.  Like WalMart huge.  Like MTV "Cribs" house huge.*

*Which of course prompted me to run my hands over the doggie beds and say "This is where the magic happens".  I have issues.

So, naturally, when faced with this bounteous wealth of open space and squeak toys, my short people went completely batshit, Amanda Bynes crazy. 

"Mommy!  Can we get a cat too?  Let's get a cat!"  J wheedled, jumping up and down like Michael Flatley on crystal meth.

"No cats."  I stated firmly.  "Think small.  Think quiet.  Think rodent."  Discouraged, J skulked off to the hamster cages with a huff.

"Why so anti-cat?"  Brandon asked, popping an Altoid into his mouth.

"I'm not anti-cat."  I countered.  "Just anti-anything I have to clean up after.  I have a hard enough time keeping the boys from crapping on the floor and climbing on the kitchen counter."

"Dude, that was ONE TIME, and I was totally drunk."  Brandon stated with a roll of his eyes.

I mirrored his eye roll and handed him a bag of hamster food.  "I meant MY boys.  Seriously, I. . .wait. . .what do you mean 'one time'?  Which was it?  Did you climb on my kitchen counters or drop a deuce on my floor?"

"Hey!  Let's see what those boys of yours are up to!"  Brandon said with a nervous laugh, racing across the store.*

*NOTE TO SELF:  Disinfect countertops at once.  And consider giving the carpets a Silkwood shower as well.

Walking over to the hamster cages I saw my short people talking with a store employee.  Well, M was talking to her. . .or rather, talking AT her.  Part of M's autism is his single minded obsession with sundry items.  At present, it is hamsters.  He also is all-knowing in weather patterns, exactly which stores have gone out of business in the Portland metro area, and washers and dryers.*

*The latter of which I have used to my advantage.  For M, doing laundry is better than a trip to Disney World.  Give that kid a little OxyClean and a dryer sheet and he's happier than Lindsay Lohan at a Liquor Barn.  Now if I can just get him to stim out on vacuum cleaners, I'd be golden.

"Did you know that hamsters can live up to two years?"  M sputtered excitedly.  "And there are 25 species of hamsters and they're nocturnal and they eat fruit and grains and vegetables and they are colorblind and they can't live in Hawaii because it's illegal?"

The store clerk stared at M in stunned silence, in no doubt enthralled by his hamster acumen.  Well, enthralled or slightly disturbed.  Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.  After giving her the Clif's Notes version of all things autism, she proceeded to give me the hamster 411.

"Now, keep them away from direct sunlight,"  she said with great gravity, "and make sure you don't use real wood shavings in their cage.  Wood shavings can give them asthma."

"Oh, that's OK."  I said with a laugh.  "I'll just get them both a tiny inhaler."

She shook her head rapidly.  "Oh, no.  That probably wouldn't work.  It would be REALLY hard for them to use."

"Is she for real?"  I muttered to Brandon when the clerk went to get a pet carrier.

Brandon shrugged.  "I dunno, but she's got a nice ass."

I barked with laughter.  "Ha!  Isn't she a little young for you?  You know, considering your obvious 'Stifler's Mom' proclivities?"

"What are you talking about?"  he asked quizically.

"Dude, seriously."  I smirked.  "How many desperate housewives did you bang when you worked at the gym?"

Brandon gazed dreamily.  "More than I could count.  That place was like CostCo for poon."

"Well, that's a visual my brain can't unsee."  I drawled.  "How old was the oldest one?"

"I dunno."  he said with a furrowed brow.  "How old were you when you worked there?"

I stared at him in shock.  "Seriously?  I was the oldest one?  That's both flattering and a trifle disturbing, not gonna lie.  So, why me"

Brandon laughed and tugged on my ponytail.  "You were hot.  And I knew you wouldn't fall in love with me because you already knew I was a dick."

I sighed.  "Yeah. . .I was hot back then.  Crushing depression and existential angst were a great diet."

"Pfft, you're still hot."  Brandon said, grabbing a chew toy for his dog, Cleveland.  

"And you're still a dick."  I replied with a consoling pat on his arm.*

*OK, it may have been an excuse to feel him up.  That boy may annoy the ever-loving shit outta me but he has arms like Jeremy Renner.

Bam.  You're welcome.

As the store clerk was reaching for J's hamster he stopped her.  "Excuse me, but can I get a white mouse instead?"

I shrugged.  "I don't see why not.  I'm all about multi-cultural relationships; your mouse and M's hamster can live in sin."

The clerk shook her head gravely.  "Yooooooou don't want to put a mouse and a hamster in the same cage."

"Why not?"  J asked.

She raised her eyebrows.  "Did you ever see 'The Hunger Games'?"

J stared in shock for a moment until the full impact of her statement sank in.  Then a broad grin spread across his cherubic face.  "That is so rad."  

Lest the clerk think my son was destined for a future that involved asking coeds to place the lotion in the basket, I explained that he was a boy, and therefore fascinated by all things death and dismemberment.  But, as I wasn't in the mood to be wiping blood off of the cornucopia after J's mouse went all Career Tribute on M's hamster, I put the kibbosh on Plan Mouse and a disappointed J glumly chose an albino dwarf hamster that bore enough resemblance to a white mouse to assuage his grief.*

*Although I secretly loved the idea of an inter-species union.  One love, y'all. . .one  love.

One hour and $95.75 later, we were home with two cages, a bag of chew sticks, a bag of cage liner, two water bottles, a shitton of hamster feed and two rodents that were shaking like Michael J. Fox after a quad-shot latte. One hour after that I was cursing at the "easy" to assemble cages and yelling at Brandon to get off of the couch and help me before I went all Richard Gere on his ass with the hamsters. Brandon may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but the boy is smart enough to know when he's moments away from a roundhouse nut punch.  So, with his expertise, we had finally assembled each cage and were able to introduce the hamsters to their new homes.  I called the boys to their room for the Big Moment.

"OK, guys, this is IT!"  I cried, clapping my hands like a trained seal.  "Say it with me:  BUSDRIVER, MOVE THAT BUS!"

"Just put the rats in the cage, Ty Pennington."  Brandon said with a yawn.  "I have a date in twenty minutes."

Scowling at his lack of festivity, I set each hamster in their respective cage and waited for the joy and merriment to commence.  The hamsters froze; staring at us, motionless.


"Mommy?"  J asked "Is he going to run in his wheel?"

"I'm sure he will,"  I whispered reassuringly.  "Just be patient."


"Are they going to climb up the tube?"  M queried with a furrowed brow.

"Any minute now, Sweetie."  I said soothingly.


J sighed dramatically.  "Can we go watch 'Phinneas and Ferb' now?"

"Yeah, go."  I replied with a dejected wave of my hand as the boys bolted from the room.  I turned to Brandon in frustration.  "Are you fucking kidding me here?"

He smirked devilishly.  "Told you you should have gotten a cat."