Hang Ups

It’s 1981, you’re 12 years old.

You wait for your parents to leave, you know they won’t approve of what you’re about to do. You watch until the taillights of the family Pinto disappear around the curve of your cul-de-sac, and then walk to the kitchen.

Leaning against the door of the pantry, you reach over and lift the receiver from the phone on the wall. You inhale deeply and exhale slowly as you dial his number, your index finger moving in seven separate, arduous arcs.

One ringy dingy. Two ringy dingy. Three. The butterflies in your stomach take flight and fill your throat with a sharp tickle of panicky giggles. Four rings. “Hello?” answers the voice of the cutest boy in school. You slam your hand on the hook, ending the call, and quickly hang up.

You can do this all night. He’ll never know it was you.

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Bitches Be Crazy

2015-10-20 20.49.40This is what it looks like when you make chocolate chip cookies on the Georgie. It would be a waste of energy (Washington Gas) to heat up the whole oven for just two cookies, and it’s too much energy (oh, my aching back) to climb up to the shelf and get the toaster oven, so I made cookies on the Georgie.

I swear my friend J told me she did this before with good results. But that was in the late nineties, when we got all “holistic,” ate quinoa, went off our meds, and did things like make cookies on the Georgie. “Bitches be crazy” comes to mind.

Last night I shared my cookies and some stories I wrote with my neighbor. I turned my head to look out the window while he read, but I could see the reflection of his face in the glass. He smiled some. He shook his head some. More shaking than smiling. When he finished the last story, he tapped the papers together and looked at me. “Is this true?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “I change the names and sometimes add things here and there, but mostly it’s true.”

“No, I mean the way the women act. Don’t they have any self-esteem? They keep chasing after guys, well, pretty much the same guy – the one who is the least interested in them. They’re totally disconnected from reality. In every single one of these stories they have a chance to learn something, to change, but they don’t. They just blow it all off with some crap about true love and keep right on making themselves miserable. What the hell?”

I folded my hands in my lap, lifted my chin, and took a deep breath. “Yes,” I said. “It’s the curse of being a romantic.” My neighbor groaned. “That’s bullshit and you know it,” he said.

“Let’s say you’re right,” I replied. “Let’s say there is no such thing as true love. Can’t you pursue it anyway? There are plenty of people looking for the Loch Ness monster, Atlantis, buried Aztec treasure. What if dating is your hobby? What does it hurt if you keep playing the game? When the game involves phone calls, and dresses, and dinners and heartache? It’s exhilarating. It feels. It’s fun.”

“Did you say fun?” my neighbor asked.

“Yes, and entertaining, too. How else could Harlequin and Hollywood stay in business? Women love this stuff.”

“Women. Well that explains it. Bitches be crazy.”

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A not-too-stale opening line

“Do sandwich cookies ever get lonely?”

-Craigslist Personal Ad

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Chipped Away

My grandmother would pour the last bits of broken potato chip from the rumpled bag into a Pyrex glass custard cup and eat them with a spoon. She passed some years ago.

My first true love trimmed the potato chip bag down, down, down, until it was as shallow as a child’s folded paper canoe and then he’d tilt back his head and let the confetti of crumbs drift into his mouth. He married someone else.

My husband threw out the wrinkled bag of razor-sharp potato shards as soon as he had eaten the last whole chip. We’re divorced.

My current boyfriend tells me, “I don’t even like potato chips.”

“Probably for the best,” I say, and hand him an open bag of Fritos.


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Tots on the Georgie

No, this isn’t a story that suggests that dating is like a tater tot. Not at all. This story is about me and how sometimes I get home late and need a quick dinner.

I’ve been trying this thing where I don’t eat after 8pm. So tonight, when I got home at 7:30pm, I needed to make dinner fast. And what’s the fastest dinner of all? Besides leftover pizza. If I had had leftover pizza, I would have eaten that. The second fastest dinner is Breakfast Dinner! The ideal breakfast dinner is pancakes, or waffles, or anything that comes with butter and syrup, but the whole point tonight was ease and speed, so I went with an omelet and tater tots (pictured below). The only onerous thing about an omelet is getting it to turn over and look good, but hey, if it doesn’t turn over and it doesn’t look good you can call it a frittata. Or “loaded scrambled eggs.” Whichever applies.

You might be wondering about the tots. Why are they so flat? Why do they have grill marks? Well. You’ve probably been brought up to believe that “necessity” is the mother of invention. It is not. “Laziness” is the mother of invention. If it were “necessity” then, faced with the need to toast my tots, I would have invented a way to climb up to the uppermost cabinet where the toaster oven lives, lug it down, make room for it on the counter, etc., etc. But, being that the George Foreman is conveniently located on the counter by the coffee maker, I used it. Ergo, laziness begot the invention of Tots on the Georgie. It’s easy. Just nuke the tots to thaw them out, put them on the Georgie in a single layer, and shut the lid. Do be sure to plug in the Georgie. Serve with ketchup or mayo, if you like. Heck, try butter and syrup.

How do you know when the tots are done? Lift the lid and take a quick peek. If they’re crushed and crispy, they’re done. Oh, I’ll be damned. Dating is like a tater tot. When you’re crushed and crispy, it’s time to get out. That’s how you know you’re done. D.O.N.E. Done.wpid-20150916_193002-1.jpg


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can’t move ‘er

My plan for tonight was to wow you with some insightful yet hilarious prose about waiters and cutoff shorts , but my cat has taken up residence on the upper quarter of my tablet and just typing these few sentences has incurred lacerations on both of my wrists and, somehow, the palm of my left hand.

Could you bear to disturb her 20150614_123603slumber? I cannot.

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Dating is Like a Chocolate Pecan Cupcake

Yesterday I wanted Pecan Pie. I also wanted Chocolate Cupcakes. So, I decided to put the two together. Seeking guidance, I turned to the internet, where I found dozens of recipes, all written by witty ladies and teeming with glamorous photos of food.

My photo doesn’t look like that. Mine looks like this:  20150809_115211-1

Messy. Complicated. A work in progress.

And so, I bring you: Dating Is Like A Chocolate Pecan Cupcake.

The photo shows you my first tentative efforts. I’ve got the ingredients, I’m ready to go. I’ve told all my friends I’m going to pursue this, so I’m pretty much committed.

The internet ladies didn’t mention that there would be a cat in the kitchen, the one that wove itself between and around my legs while I tried to cook. The cat represents the things about the dating relationship that were cute at the beginning, but soon become a major annoyance, like his snoring or the way I sing Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” all day on Sunday when I do, well, the laundry.

Let’s say you get past the cat (although it never leaves the kitchen), and you make it to the point where you’ve got all the ingredients mixed together, the batter in the little fluted papers, and the pan in the oven. You look on the counter and there you see the pecans, which were supposed to go in the batter, and the Hershey’s Cocoa, which wasn’t even in the recipe. These are the little things you didn’t expect, like his friends being complete assholes or your insisting that he go with you to the “80’s Retro Dance Party” on the third Saturday of every month.

You try to recoup by pulling the pan out of the oven and sprinkling the pecans on top of the half baked cupcakes. The pecans are the guy in the accounting department who you keep flirting with, just in case your new relationship crashes and burns and you need a last minute date to your cousin Yvonne’s wedding next April. Speaking of crashing and burning, the pecans begin to smoke. No need to explain this, you all know the beginning of the end when you smell it.

But you remain hopeful, and leave the cupcakes in that 350-degree heat for another little while.

When you finally admit that they’re done, your friends look at your ruined cupcakes and put on fake smiles. “It’s not that bad,” they say. “You can try again another time, maybe use a new recipe.” That’s what all happily married women with 2.5 beautiful children say to their hopelessly single friends.

And now you’re stuck with the dishes. You’ve used every pot and pan you own to make this mess. You fill the sink and squirt in the detergent, you pull on the worn yellow gloves. You can hear your friends telling you that it won’t take as long as you think it will, that you’ll feel so much better when it’s done. You vow that next time you’ll do things differently, you’ll read the recipe all the way through, you’ll, you’ll – oh screw it, there is no positive spin to this. Everyone hates to do the dishes.


Filed under aging, autobigraphy, chocolate, communication, conflict, cupcakes, dance, divorce, fiction, flash fiction, food, friendship, humor, irony, relationships, sarcasm, the 80's, women, writing