Thursday, June 30, 2005

No Smoking

June 30, 1998: While enjoying Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at the Quest club in Minneapolis, I turned to my sister over a Rolling Rock and said, "I'm not going to smoke after tonight." As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I lit up.

"Okay," she said, obviously doubtful.

I was 32 years old. I'd been smoking since I was seventeen, taking off about ten months in 1986 and 1987 while pregnant with my oldest. It didn't take me long to pick up the habit again after she was born. I smoked for the better part of fifteen years.

I decided I didn't want to anymore.

Before we hit the Quest, we'd been at another downtown bar, where I bought a pack of Marlboro Menthol Lights from a machine. I only had half a pack left, and I knew I'd run out of cigarettes before the night was through.

I was wrong. The cigarette I smoked after making the announcement to my sister was the last one. I never opened that new pack of Marlboros, though the box sat in my glove box for nearly six months.

Seven years smoke free. Feels pretty damn good!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Larry The Lounge Lizard

My friend Larry is a babe magnet. I don’t know why.

Larry’s a good-looking guy, certainly. He’s got blonde hair, blue eyes, that devil-may-care expression, and a well-honed physique. He’s a bit of a fashion plate too. On the face of it, he’s got the qualities to attract lots of women. I don’t know, though. Something seems to be missing. Or, to put it more accurately, I am missing something. I am missing whatever it is that causes otherwise mature, intelligent, strong women to fall into a simpering heap at Larry’s feet.

And they do. Fall in a simpering heap, that is.

Larry is divorced. It was a long time coming, but wasn’t finalized until just a few months ago. The court clerk hadn’t even finished blowing on the papers to dry the ink when the deerhounds gathered in packs, foaming and salivating, circling Larry like so much prey.

It didn’t take Larry long to come to the realization that his inner lounge lizard was ready to be released. Thirteen years of marriage landed on the dung heap, and he was now facing instant – and multiple – gratification.

He told me women asked him out wherever he went. They asked him out at the grocery store, the library, his workplace, the coffee shop. He claimed they stopped him on the street to beg his number or offer to buy him a drink. I quite naturally assumed these stories were creative exaggerations, the salve on a wounded man’s ego, but I discovered while out and about with him one weekend that it was all true. True and just a bit bizarre.

We were at a club, my husband and I, with Larry. The women seemed to come from every nook and cubbyhole, oozing from the walls themselves, offering drinks, dances, kisses, and more as Larry just sat back, martini in hand, accepting the adoration.

“It’s the best,” he said with a disarming grin my way. “I don’t have to do anything. They all come to me. The ladies are hungry and the Larry Buffet is open for business.”

He winked at my husband. “Better look out, Harp. I’ll be stealing your wife too.”

My husband raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think so. You’re not really her type.”

Larry smiled. “I wouldn’t steal her from you, buddy. I don’t go after friends’ wives. But I could take any woman here.” He looked around the room at the pulsating bodies in the ever-changing light of the dance floor. “Married or not.”

“Never mind him,” I said, patting my husband’s hand. “The poor boy’s gone crazy. He’s not lucid.”

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than the herd descended on Larry again, coming from every quadrant of the joint. Tall ones. Short ones. Thin ones. Heavy ones. Blondes, brunettes, and redheads. Busty ones. Leggy ones. Long hair, short hair. Similar and dissimilar, they lined up for a look or a touch. Larry’s dance card was fully punched. He grooved and gyrated and dripped with sweat, and they still wouldn’t leave him alone.

“I don’t get it.” I shook my head, taking another sip of vodka Collins to see if the answer would magically come to me from the frosty glass.

“Larry The Lounge Lizard,” my husband responded, looking mildly fascinated and repulsed at the same time. “Don’t dance with him.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I shot back. “We’ve known Larry for years. I don’t see the attraction. Is it pheromones? His favorite sweater? His chiseled pecs?”

My husband glanced down. “I have moobs,” he said sourly. “Maybe it IS the pecs.”

“Look at him slither,” I said, nodding toward the dance floor and signaling the waitress for another vodka Collins. “Larry The Lounge Lizard indeed, unctuous and oily, greaser of the dance floor, smooth operator, babe magnet.”

“That’s his true value in life.” My husband frowned at his empty beer bottle, looking vaguely frustrated.

“Have another,” I said. “I’m going to.”

I watched Larry The Babe Magnet Lounge Lizard work the room, pushing off the women who grabbed at his favorite sweater while he forced his way back to our table. I still couldn’t figure it out.

Maybe, I thought, it’s just that I’m not babe enough to be caught in the dragnet.

Maybe. Maybe another vodka Collins would do the trick.

I laughed as Larry was dragged once more to his feet and urged to the dance floor. I lifted my glass to my husband and looked at him over the rim as I took a sip.

Moobs or no moobs, I knew who the real babe magnet was at our table. And I was taking him home.

Who stole my muse?

My writers' club has granted an extension for this week's writing project, if I can come up with something at least moderately interesting by midnight.

Where IS that damn muse?

Miss Muse is probably hiding somewhere under the furniture, snacking on pork rinds and drinking the last of the Fat Tire. Why, I oughta....!

Time to get out the Swiffer Duster™ and eradicate the cobwebs. Maybe I'll find Miss Muse if I do.

Have you seen her? Send her home, willya? The creative well done went dry this week.

Procrastinaaaaaaaaation is making me wait...

Anticipation, procrastination...whatever.

We're going on vacation soon, and there's always so much to do. I hammered out so much work yesterday that I'm feeling lazy today.

What? An 80-minute workout this morning isn't enough for one day? I should do more? Look, the laundry has at least been folded. Most of the stuff is packed into suitcases anyway. I cleaned the kitchen. I ran the vacuum. You could eat off the damn floor. I helped the children get dressed. Yes, there are files all over my desk that need attention. Yes, I was supposed to turn in this week's short fiction to my writers' club...oh, about twenty minutes ago. What can I say? Me Muse ran off and hid, she did. If you find her, please drop her into any mailbox and I'll gladly pay the return postage.

What was I saying? Oh, yes. Procrastination. I made a pot of coffee. I want to drink a cup while it's hot. While the children are blessedly occupied coloring pictures for their grandparents (there's something awfully endearing about a five-year-old's rendering of a fireman rescuing a puppy stuck in a tall tree).

And so I will. >sip<

Ahhhhh. That was good.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kids and their radar

Someone. Anyone. Explain this to me.

How, exactly, does a child who "can't hear you" from three feet away seem to know instinctively that you have sat down to relax/eat/unwind or what-have-you from all the way across the house?

For an hour they played quietly in the playroom. They put together puzzles, made parades with their Fisher-Price "dudes," read books, and rewound a Wallace & Gromit cassette seventy-eleven times.

The nanosecond I sat down with a plate of pepper crackers and spicy cheese curds, they were all over me like Velcro Monkeys™.

Monday, June 27, 2005

My son the photographer...

My son is three. He desperately wanted to partake in the birthday photo-taking, so my husband let him take a picture of me.

This is what his 39-year-old mama looks like through a three-year-old photographer's eyes:

Happy Birthday to me....!

It's June 27th once again. Birthday time.

This is my fifth birthday in Idaho. My eighth birthday as a married woman. The tail end of my thirties. Funny how "39" seemed so abstract before, never real.

So here it is. 39.

I don't know if I care much for odd-numbered years. I suppose that's odd itself, but I rather like the even-numbered years...34, 36, 38. I especially liked 36 and 38. While 35 conjured up images of the stale, stifled middle-aged housewife, 36 suddenly seemed hip, young, and sexy. 37? Back to dust-mopping drudge in a gingham apron. 38 - hot! Strong! Doing stuff! (What stuff? I don't know. Just...stuff.) So 39 descended at 6:14 central time this morning and...what? Have I taken the express train back to frumpsville?


I've got to stop fooling myself I'm still youthful, though. I do, after all, have an eighteen-year-old daughter. On the other hand, I also have a five-year-old and a three-year-old. I haven't decided whether they keep me young or prematurely age me.

But it's my birthday. So I'll worry about the rest tomorrow.