Friday, October 28, 2011

Bertha’s Bakers Dozen ™: MORE Questions for the Ages

     As with many of my blog posts and Bertha’s Bakers Dozen TM lists, I was amazed at how many of you responded!  It is nice to  know that I am not the only one privy to the weirdness around us.  It is in your honor, dear loyal readers, that I present to you installment number two in my Bertha’s Bakers Dozen TM Questions for the Ages list.   

13) Why do the movie versions of Jesus and space aliens always have British accents?  The last time I checked, Jesus was from Bethlehem and Captain Zorfz-Chaputdnk was from the deserted planet Hwoaf-Nert.  How in the world did the Brits get there before we did? 

12) Why do stores start carrying Christmas items in August, but have it all cleared out by December 28 to make room for swimsuits?  As weird as it may feel to buy ornaments in the summer heat, it can’t possibly be any more bizarre than shopping for beachwear in the midst of a snowstorm.   

11) Who invented baby washcloths?  One trip through the wash and they permanently roll up to the approximate diameter of a breadstick.  Ever tried washing a baby with a breadstick?    

10) Why do meat prices fluctuate based on popularity?  When I was a kid, stores were practically giving away chicken wings and hamburger meat, while “loin of pork” was reserved for extremely special company.  Now, chicken wings are ridiculously expensive, hamburger meat is almost the same price as a steak, and “loin of pork” is dirt cheap.  I say we all join forces and drive the popularity of scrapple through the roof so prime rib will become the new bologna.   

9) Why was Mike Brady such a bad architect?  Think about it: the man was an idiot.  He’s got six kids, a wife, and a housekeeper, yet he builds a 3-bedroom house and makes the maid to sleep in the kitchen.  What’s worse than that is the fact that the kids have to share a bathroom with pocket doors separating the two rooms.  You’d be waiting for hours just to pee.  That office he built for himself was bigger than the two bedroom/one bathroom combo the kids had to share.  

8) Why do we have to be so politically correct about everything?  I for one absolutely, positively, defiantly REFUSE to say “snowperson”.  Unless it’s wearing snowflake earrings and an icicle tiara, I will continue to refer to it as a snowMAN.  I am a proud member of MANkind, I have no insecurities or offenses being a committee chairMAN, and I will forever think of Frosty as a snowMAN.  Snowperson.  Barf.     

7) Why are women’s products and services so much more expensive than men’s?  My hair is the same length as the paper boy and I’ll bet a week’s worth of wet newspapers he spends less on his mane than I do on mine. 

6) Why is every accident/disease/misfortune on earth “the leading cause of death” for some group or another?  Being run over by a truck is the number one cause of death for plastered college students who wrap themselves in black lawn and leaf bags and lay in the middle of the road at 4am.  Being smothered by a fat chick is the number one cause of death for size-2 sales ladies who roll their eyes and snort, “Oh, we don’t carry anything in this store to fit your butt.”   

5) Why do advertisers feel the need to make numbers sound bigger or smaller than they really are?  I heard a commercial for a used car lot that screamed, “We have over seven models to choose from!!!!!!”  Over seven?  You mean like eight?  Or how about those pay-by-the-month plans for various services and products that boast, “Less than a dollar a day!”  Aaaaaand what does that mean exactly?  Twenty-nine ninety-five perhaps?  What about February?

4) Why do we confuse the heck out of our children?  I once had a friend who would say, “No-no for babies” whenever her kid would reach for the DVD player, but would turn around and say, “You’re not a baby!” when he would cry for his pacifier.  It is any wonder we have kids throwing tantrums of frustration when they’re little and then growing up to rob convenience stores?

3) Why is there really no such thing as “speed dry” nail polish?  Every brand, every shade, every formula … it’s the same story.  It’s like wearing modeling clay on your fingernails.  Sure, it might be “dry” in the academic sense in that it is no longer technically “wet”, but one false move and your “dry” polish is permanently dented, misshapen, or formed into some other-worldly origami.  Forget “speed dry”.  I want “dent proof”.     

2) Why have restaurants given names to their dishes longer than the roll call in first grade?  Honestly, they are more like a description than an actual name.  I mean, how stupid do you feel ordering?  “Yes, I’ll have the Seared Brined Chicken Breast with Hearts of Palm and Wilted Bok Choy Smothered in a Farm Fresh Organic Cream Sauce Enhanced by the Natural Juices of the Seared Brined Chicken Breast Served Over a Side of Creamy, Butter-Kissed Garlic Potatoes Accompanied by a Steamed Seasonal Vegetable Medley Lightly Seasoned with Fresh Herbs and Truffle Butter, please”. 

1) Why do dating websites never show those disgustingly happy couples after they’ve been married for 10 years?  This is the true test of how well their “matching system” works.  Wait until they’ve been together so long that she’s got stretch marks from so many kids, he “helps out” by sweeping the garage, their grocery budget is $35 a week, and they haven’t had sex since Dean Martin was on the Jerry Lewis telethon … if they still like each other, THEN you can tell me how great your website is.
 © Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hippity-Hop, Your Product's a Flop

Dear Sirs of Acme Good Luck Gifts and Gags:

     Please find enclosed one of your “Hippity-Hop Lucky Rabbit’s Foot” key ring charms, listed on the tag as “Lot 351 Tahitian Purple”.  I recently purchased this item in the sincere hopes of turning around what has come to be a life of misfortune, accidents, and sincere bad luck.  You see, I was born under an unlucky moon, in an unlucky hospital ward, on an unlucky morning.  I am certain you hear that quite often considering the nature of your business, but I must assure you that my particular bad luck is unique:

     It.  Never.  Ends. 

     When my husband proposed to me, I said, “I need to get this out in the open before we go any further.  You ARE marrying a bad luck charm.  I bring a pox to every household I enter, every project I touch, every person I meet.”  He sweetly patted my arm and said, “I don’t believe in luck.”  I snorted in hysterical laughter and retorted with, “You will.”  After a particularly unlucky stretch, I happened into a gift shop and noticed your “Hippity-Hop Lucky Rabbit’s Foot” display rack.  The sign promised to “offer good fortune and protection to anyone” and “turn bad luck into good fortune”.  With my history of jinxed automobiles, mysteriously exploding appliances and illnesses whose diagnoses can be summated by a doctor scratching his head and pouring over medical books with beads of sweat running down his face, I was skeptical that any rabbit’s foot could turn that kind of luck around, but I decided to give it a try. 

     I got up this morning and was in the bathroom trying to get ready for work.  I flushed the toilet and noticed a really weird gurgling sound and the shower was barely a trickle.  I called out to my husband, The Yankee, "Be careful when you flush the toilet; we have no water."  I could hear him say, "Great".  He goes under the house to find out what's wrong with the well pump, but can't find any problems.  I got my daughter, Buttercup, up, dressed, and on the school bus while The Yankee is getting madder and madder and blaming me for everything.  "I wanted you to call the warranty company MONTHS ago but NOOOOOOOOO you forgot AGAIN."  (Like if I called the home warranty company and said, "Do you cover well pumps?", then our water wouldn't have been acting up today ... whatever.)  So I go in the house and read the fine print on the policy.  No, they don't cover wells, pumps, pressure tanks, bladders, underground or outside plumbing, or anything else that isn't a bathtub elbow pipe.  Period.  Well, this gets him even madder, "We're getting another warranty company!" he bellows.  I tried to calm him, "They all have limits on what they cover."  "NO THEY DON'T!!!" he screams.  I don't argue with children so I went back in the house to call my dad.  I tried not to be angry with The Yankee.  I told myself he's upset about yet ANOTHER thing going wrong (which brings our grand total to about 452,581,898,747,852,541,599,985,264,653,115,022 over the last 10 years.  I could kinda understand his irritation.)  So he's going on and on about, "Now we gotta hire a backhoe to come dig up the well pump."  I said, "You don't need a backhoe.  You can pull it out from the top with a winch."  Well, that got him on his "Me-The-Man-You-The-Woman-What-The-Fricken-Fracken-Mother-Father-Firetruck-Do-You-Know-About-Squat" soapbox again, so I just made my phone call. 

     The Yankee is barking at me in one ear and my dad is asking me these technical questions in the other ear like, "So when you pull the top off the shazzmafrazz and look down the glocken-morley, what color is the tape-orfen-jollynot that is attached to the wire coming from the horlen-fritzy-jay?  And if there isn't a wire coming from the horlen-fritzy-jay, then there's probably a switchboard hossen-feeler that's on the opposite wall of the schmarlen rickta-frazz, so tell me which way the hortzen is pointing." 

     I finally said, "Dad wants to talk to you." 

     Long story short, we finally got water at 12:15.  I took a shower and made myself half-way presentable and left for work.  I get on the Interstate and called my assistant to tell her when I would be there and she says, "I hope you're not taking the Interstate because a tractor-trailer accident has both lanes blocked and traffic is backed up for 12 miles."  So I get off on the very next exit and take the back roads in.  The traffic was nuts but I made it.  I stopped at the hardware store and picked up some spare parts for the well pump and when I was leaving the parking lot, the power steering stopped working on the car.  So, I get some fast food, have to work the crap out of my biceps to turn the steering wheel, and finally get to my office.  Running for the front door, I twist my ankle and my food goes flying across the parking lot, dirty little chicken nuggets bouncing down the hill in a mocking tango that fairly screamed, “Take that.”   

      So, here I am, ankle throbbing, stomach growling, and dreading having to tell The Yankee that the power steering is gone and, thanks to a free diagnosis from the mechanic next door to my office, we need a $4,000 engine block. With my fabulous luck, the house will probably be a smoldering pile of rubble by the time I get home.  I would have thrown the “Hippity-Hop Lucky Rabbit’s Foot” in the trash, but I’m afraid it might come back from beyond the beyond and twist my other ankle.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be hobbling my way to the break room in hopes of finding some salt to throw over my shoulder, and hope I don’t slip in it on the way back.

With fingers crossed,

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bertha’s Bakers Dozen ™: MORE Fashion Blunders I Wish Would Die

     Some time ago, I posted a Bertha’s Bakers Dozen ™ list called “Fashion Blunders I Wish Would Die”.  I was SHOCKED by how many of my readers responded!  Evidently, I am not the only one whose eyes have been permanently traumatized, and I thank you for your group-therapy mentality and comforting words.     

      You challenged me to take another look around and report more of the cornea-searing, lip-snarling blunders I encountered.  Well, Letterman has his ten; Bertha has her Bakers Dozen … and this time, it’s MORE Fashion Blunders I Wish Would Die:

13) Overalls.  Do you work on a farm?  Are you a firefighter?  Are you a 2-year old boy?  Are you channeling “Kriss Kross” at a retro-themed Halloween party?  No?  Then STOP wearing overalls.  They are not flattering and you look ridiculous.     

12) Flip flops with a shirt and tie.  I love flip flops as much as the next person, but there is a time and a place for everything.  This particular combination is not only stupid, it looks like your house caught fire while you were getting ready for work and those flip flops were the only shoes you could grab before the flaming roof fell on your head.

11) Mullet.  I’ve heard it referred to as “party in the front, business in the back”.  Bull.  It’s just ugly all over. 

10) White socks with black shoes.  There is a good reason Hollywood dresses its stereotypical nerd characters in this combination.  I realize white socks are abundant, but stores do sell black ones.

9) Short, short, shorts with a long, long shirt.  In case you weren’t aware, this particular combination makes people think you are out in public with nothing but a shirt on and need to be carted back to the mental facility as soon as possible.  If this is the look you are going for, then you need to be carted back to the mental facility as soon as possible.       

8) Over-tweezed eyebrows.  For years, I was certain this sin belonged to elderly women, but now I am seeing younger girls doing it!  What is the allure of having an eyebrow that looks like a half-inch section of dryer lint and glue was trapped over your eye?      

7) Pants under a skirt/dress.  This one is so bizarre, I can barely fathom it.  I’m not talking about tights, hose, or even stirrup pants … I’m talking a skirt or a dress with real, live, honest-to-goodness pants underneath.  I once saw a girl out in public who had on the prettiest dress I’d ever seen.  It wasn’t too fussy, the print was subtle, and the wrap front was gorgeous.  As I lamented my insane height that would surely render that hemline somewhere slightly below my belly button, the girl stepped out from behind the table where she had been standing.  Underneath this dream of a dress was a pair of corduroy pants, frayed cuffs and all.  I wanted to cry. 

6) Curlers and a head scarf.  We all know your hair is up in curlers, so don’t think the scarf is hiding that fact.  I’m all for multi-tasking, but if you have to simultaneously do your hair and shop for groceries, it’s time to loosen up the schedule a little bit.       

5) White tights on anyone over 8 years old.  I actually saw this in public and I cried a little.  I’m not certain where a grown woman can even find white tights in adult sizes, but that company should be ashamed of itself.     

4) Sockless penny loafers with shorts.  Restaurants, amusement parks, shopping malls: they are crawling with middle-aged men who think this is a good look.  Well, it’s not. 

3) Matching outfits.  This might be cute on newborn twins.  It might promote unity on a sports team.  But if you and your spouse are dressed that way on purpose, don’t be surprised when no one on earth takes you seriously.     

2) Helmet hair.  I love hairspray.  I grew up in a hairspray-loving family.  Nanny used to fog up in enough hairspray to freeze Air Jordan mid-dunk.  But seriously, if you have so much glue in your hair that it becomes a crunchy, rigid monument affixed to your scalp, you have not fooled anyone into thinking you have perfect hair.     

1) The water-balloon.  I will not be the one to point fingers, so I will simply make a statement: Spandex has its limits.  Spandex is not a replacement for a girdle.  Spandex cannot hide hail-damaged thighs that look like a cross between corn pudding and a hand-hammered wok.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Old Soul

     I don’t know how it happens, but once in a while there is a young person born with an old soul.  A person whose life experience could not possibly have imparted the wisdom and deep understanding that seems to emanate from a weary, wounded heart mystically carried from another time.  A person whose tastes and preferences are nothing short of antithetical for the present time.  I identify with those people, and for some reason, I am one of those people.  I’ve never fit in with my peers.  As a child, I was more interested in how escrow worked than I was in petty, puerile endeavors like naptime.  I completed two grades in one year so I could graduate high school at age 16, and old people were always attracted to me since I made jokes about “straighten up and fly right”.  The Yankee told me if he believed in reincarnation, he would swear I was once a sailor’s lover from World War II.  My cousin, Fran, told me I belong to another place and time.  And then there’s my friend, Georgia. 

      Georgia and her husband, Tip, are dear friends to The Yankee and me.  They are frequent guests at my dinner parties and we e-mail each other often.  Tip and The Yankee talk about their military stories while Georgia and I talk about Tip and The Yankee.  We are kindred spirits and are alike in every way. 

      Until they say the words, “our grandchildren”. 

      You see, Tip and Georgia are older than my parents.  We have so much in common and enjoy each other’s company that we tend to forget our age differences until words like “grandchildren”, “retirement”, and “40th anniversary” enter the conversation.  I suppose part of the attraction lies in the fact that Georgia is also an old soul.  We converse on a level that erases most age restrictions and our mutual love for black and white movies from Hollywood’s golden era gives us plenty to discuss.  Georgia is about as pragmatic as they come and often shocks me with her sweet, Southern candor.  I remember once mentioning our age difference and her unexpected response was, “Well, Bertha darlin’, y’all need to find you some younger friends.  Tip and I are gonna die one of these days.”  It was a morbid thought, but I couldn’t keep from laughing.  I’m an old soul and there’s nothing I can do about it.

     How are some people “old souls” while others are “young at heart”?  How is it that the young at heart are still skydiving at 90 while the old souls are feeling middle aged at 25?  It’s an odd phenomenon, but it happens often enough that the average Joe knows exactly what you mean when you say, “old soul” or “young at heart”.  I’ve always known to a degree that I was an old soul, but nothing solidified that fact more than when I started a Twitter account.  After I learned some of the basics, I started thinking of people I might like to “follow”.  And that’s when I discovered:

      Almost all of my heroes are dead.

      As I sat at my computer, fingers hovering over the keyboard, the shock of my realization hit me like a stinging slap.  Katharine Hepburn doesn’t have a Twitter account.  Cary Grant doesn’t have a Twitter account.  Neither do Bea Arthur, Phyllis A. Whitney, or Jimmy Stewart.  Oh good golly, they’re all dead!  It may sound odd that the realization had to hit me like that, but I never really thought of my heroes as no longer with us.  Their genius lives on in the brilliant works they left for us to savor, so they always feel close at hand.  As this fact started sinking in, I had to pull myself into the twenty-first century and start finding new heroes. 

      I shared my shocking discovery with Georgia.  She gasped and nodded in understanding as Tip laughed at the both of us.  “Georgia gets our granddaughter to watch those old movies with her.”  Granddaughter.  So Georgia really is older than my mother.  But, no matter.  Our souls are timeless … “timelessly old”, as Tip would say.  Regardless of our physical age difference, we have much in common.  We still laugh at the same jokes, still admire the same brilliant actors and authors, still enjoy a good dark chocolate complimented by a superb red wine.  I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

      That’s what happens with “old” friends.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rom-Com Bomb

     I recently had a day off from my day job.  One of those rare, jewel-encrusted, splendiferous days that makes living seem worth while again.  I sent Buttercup off to school, shuffled The Yankee out the door to work, and surveyed my surroundings.  My house was reasonably clean, the laundry was basically done thanks to a laundry marathon over the weekend, and there were no real errands to run.  I had the day all to myself and I was so thrilled, I did a happy dance in the kitchen.  After creating a gourmet 6-cheese and pancetta macaroni and cheese for a late breakfast/early lunch, I was off to watch some of those romantic comedies I’d been saving up for a time when I was alone.  Most rom-coms take place on Planet Earth so that assures me The Yankee will never be caught dead watching one.  I’ve seen my share, but this was going to be a marathon of all the ones my girlfriends keep telling me I just have to see.  I settle down with my killer macaroni and get on with my marathon and day of relaxation. 

      Boy, oh boy, did I learn a lot about relationships.

      First of all, rom-coms are fairy tales for adults.  The characters are the envy of the audience: their problems are light, their relatives are endearingly nutty, their friends are enduringly loyal, and their “messy hair” still manages to look sexy.  Somehow, even single secretaries make enough money to afford a swanky apartment and trips to the local pub every weekend.  The “chubby” friends are a size 10 and that annoying guy who just can’t get the hint would be the envy of most average women. 

      Secondly, I learned that there are three different types of romantic movies: the ones that have a happy, albeit predictable, ending; the ones that have a surprise twist at the end but it works out anyway; and the ones that really have no ending at all.  This last category is the one I hate the most.  I came to watch a story.  A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Running out of ideas does not qualify as an ending.  Forgetting to turn in the last few pages of the script does not immediately qualify it as a “cutting-edge drama”.  You were paid to write a story and you are making me do half the work by writing my own ending?  Shoddy writing, my friend, shoddy writing. 

      Thirdly, the men in these movies are not from this planet, I am sure of it.  The instant I heard a man say, “I was insensitive to your feelings.  I didn’t consider you in my reaction.  You are the most amazing woman on earth and I don’t deserve you”, I would be looking around for a hidden camera or a space pod.  I think I would just speak quietly through my teeth and a fake smile, “Ih ve are veing vatched, just vlink your eyes a hew tines.”  (Admit it.  You said that through your teeth with a pasted-on, toothy grin.) 

      The last thing I learned is that no one, and I mean no one, ever eats.  Even in restaurants they order a bottle of champagne, barely get the glass to their lips with something “unexpected” happens and they have to leave.  I realize it is difficult to allow for chewing, swallowing, and savoring when under a movie’s strict time constraints, but come on!  Real people eat.  I know that would come as a shock to most of Hollywood, given the requisite “Three C’s” diet of coconut water, cardio, and colonics, but someone really should send these directors a picture of normal people seated around a dinner table with food they cooked for themselves. 

      I finished my movie marathon, washed the 6-cheese pancetta macaroni and cheese pan and started working on a dinner devoid of champagne, coconut water, or drama.  The Yankee would be home before too long, Buttercup bouncing at his heels, and they would be looking for food.  I set out the ingredients for mushroom smothered steak and sautéed collard greens, knowing it’s a family favorite.  I look around my house, my kitchen, my decidedly non-sexy bedroom and smile.  I guess in a way my life is a rom-com.  My hair never looks sexy when I wake up, I never have enough money for trips to the pub every weekend, I am the chubby friend.  On the other hand, my relatives are endearingly nutty, my friends are enduringly loyal, and whether or not The Yankee is from planet earth is still undecided. 

      I hear the car in the driveway as I set the table and light a few candles.  My life is a romantic comedy.  And this is one ending I don’t mind writing.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Objects In This Mirror Aren't As Grouchy As They Appear

     So I was frying bacon last week.  It’s a little thing I do when the mood strikes, and this particular Saturday begged for bacon.  Buttercup was coloring a picture at the kitchen table and seemed to be in a world of her own.  My trusty iron skillet and I were frying away when *POP* … hot bacon grease spattered on my arm.  I yelped and took a giant step backwards, rubbing my wound the whole way.  Buttercup emerges from her imaginary world, “Are you OK, Mama?”  I looked up at her and said, “I’m fine.  The bacon popped and hurt my arm, but I’m OK.”  She turns back to her crayons and says, “You’ll live.” 

      I wonder where she’s heard that before. 

      Buttercup is autistic.  Part of her special thought process involves a phenomenon called echolalia.  It is a process by which autistic individuals repeat phrases they have heard before and insert them into general conversation.  These phrases are usually accompanied by a dead-on impression of the person who originated the phrase.  And “you’ll live” sounded just like me.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard myself in Buttercup.  I remember the time she picked up a pretend phone, hastily shoved her fingers through her hair, and yelled, “I don’t care if your supervisor is on the phone with the UN, go get him!”  I slowly closed my eyes and promised not to contact the morons at the mortgage company in front of her anymore.  Another time, she pretended to fold laundry and said, “Thank God I went to college.”  I was beginning to realize I sound far grouchier than I feel. 

     Echolalia can be fun, though.  I love being greeted with, “Hi Darlin’!” since she’s heard me say it before.  I could just burst when she likes dinner and says, “Oh, Mama, you’re my special girl”, exactly as I praise her.  I think it’s funny when she says, “It’s just too good to be true!” with a sarcastic tone, although I have no clue where she heard that one.  Seriously.

      I know children reflect their parents in many ways.  My brother, Moose, looks exactly like Dad when he turns his head to the side.  My best friend, Pocahontas, and her daughter, Blondie, could be twins when they get irritated and say, “Excuse me?!”, ponytails swinging in unison.  Buttercup is the spit and image of The Yankee, but she certainly sounds like me.  As hilarious as it is, her echolalia gives me cause to stop and think about what I say and how I say it.  It’s a scary proposition knowing that you will always have a little record-keeper following you around.  Scary and funny.  And humbling.  And scary.    Her renditions of my grouchy quips have forced me to be careful what I say and constantly think, “Do I want this to be repeated in front of God and everybody?”  There is nothing more “in your face” than hearing your voice, your personality, your words come out of a tiny, perfectly pink mouth.  As carnival mirrors go, this one has to be the most frightening.  (Except for that one mirror that made my legs look bigger around than the pecan tree in Nanny’s yard.  The nightmares about that one are down to once a week now.)

      I finish frying my bacon and make myself a sandwich, still thinking about the things I say.  Would I be so cautious if echolalia weren’t a part of our lives?  Would I think to soften my words as often as I do if I didn’t have someone there to remind me how I sound?  Those are questions I can’t answer.  My life is what it is and speculation about a different arrangement is nothing more than a fun mental exercise.  I sincerely believe that everything we need is provided for us if we just have the wisdom to look around.  As I look around, I see a husband sent to teach me patience and a daughter to keep me lighthearted about it.

      Now, if I could just find a way to squeeze, “My mom is hot” into casual conversation.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bertha’s Bakers Dozen ™: What Not to Say to the Parents of an Autistic Child

     Having lived with Buttercup’s autism for some years now, I have heard just about everything anyone could possibly invent.  Some helpful, some kind, a lot stupid.  (I will warn you in advance: given the circumstances, you must forgive me a bit of excess snark.)  Well, Letterman has his ten; Bertha has her Bakers Dozen … and this time, it’s the What Not to Say to the Parents of an Autistic Child list:

13) “He/She can’t have _________? (fill in the blank with gluten, tomatoes, dairy or whatever exacerbates your individual child’s autism symptoms)  I could NEVER do that to my kid!”  Newsflash: I’m not doing it TO my kid.  I’m doing it FOR my kid.  If you knew that one food item caused your child to lose bowel control, the ability to form sentences, and the peace to sleep through the night, you would be a fool to feed it to him anyway.       

12) “I think that ‘autism’ thing is totally over-diagnosed.”  How do you “over-diagnose” something that is staring you in the face?  All tests, observations, and instincts point to autism, ergo, it’s probably autism.  How would you like it if you told me your mother had breast cancer and I said, “I think that ’cancer’ thing is totally over-diagnosed”?  You could knock me in the floor and there isn’t a jury alive that would convict you.  Have a little courtesy.

11) “Don’t scold her for hitting.  She’s autistic and can’t help it.”  Call her disabled.  Call her handicapped.  Call her different.  Just don’t call her helpless.  We have to make some allowances, but violence is not one of them.   

10) “If you’d just spank her once in a while, she’d stop repeating herself over and over and over.”  Wow!  Gee!!  Why didn’t I think of that?!!!?!  And while we’re at it, why don’t you spank your kid for saying “I wuv you” instead of “I love you”?  Like Nanny used to say, “That’ll learn him, dern him!”    

9) “Did she just hug you?!  Autistics can’t feel emotion!”  No, you’re confusing my child with your mother.      

8) “She can’t have autism!  Only boys get that.”  Thank you for your insight.  You might also be interested to know that men can’t have breast cancer, women can’t have biceps, boys can’t cry, and girls can’t do long division.   

7) “What do you mean I shouldn’t talk about him where he can hear?  He doesn’t understand anything.”  Yes, he most certainly does understand what you are saying.  He understands that you are talking about him in an unkind and unnecessary way.  He also understands that your manners could use some spit and polish.

6) “Those autism parents - they can’t wait to blame their bad parenting on something.”  You’re right; just like your child’s glasses are a manifestation of your refusal to feed her enough carrots.  And that kid in the wheelchair?  His parents were too lazy to teach him to walk.  And don’t even get me started on those useless hearing aids ... 

5) “Don’t be so hard on her.  It’s OK if she eats with her hands.”  I really do appreciate you trying to be understanding.  Truly, I do, but manners are a requirement of everyone.  She will not make it very far in life if she eats like a resident of the city zoo.  And I’m not “hard” on her; I am gently firm.

4) “I don’t think it’s fair for my child to be required to play with your child.  Your child’s behavior is so odd.”  If my kid has to put up with your kid picking his nose, screaming at the top of his lungs, and incessantly droning on and on about every nut and bolt that holds a train together, I see no reason why your child should be bothered by the fact that mine sorts his chicken nuggets by size before he eats them.       

3) “If I throw a box of toothpicks on the floor, can she tell me how many there are?!”  No.  Can you?   

2) “Autism is fashionable right now.  Just wait a few years.”  Wait.  Autism … is … fashionable.  Did I hear you correctly?  Because I’m sure you did not just stand there and call me an attention whore.  I’m certain that you have enough brain matter to realize that autism is not a fashion statement.  I am absolutely positive that you did not just tell me that the hours I have cried over my child’s struggles with bowel control and the inability to communicate were because I’m keeping up with the Joneses.  And wait a few years for what, pray tell?!  Until she comes to me one day and says, “You know, Ma, all those times I wanted to tell you I love you but couldn’t make my mouth say the words?  It was all a joke!”?  Oh, yes.  Autism is so en vogue.   

1) “No kid of mine would ever act that way.”  I sincerely hope not, because that would mean your child is autistic.  And from what I’ve gathered by our brief exchange, you aren’t strong enough to be a good parent.    

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Penny Saved Is Still Worth One Cent

     I was browsing the Internet one boring afternoon when I stumbled across an article entitled, “Five Ways to $ave Big Money!”  My interest was piqued, partly out of irritation at the use of the dollar sign in a flagrant attempt at being cute.  I was further irritated when I saw the article was written by someone named “Penny”.  I know the poor woman can’t help what her parents named her, but I couldn’t help but have a distinctive feeling that this entire article was staged.  After scolding myself for being pessimistic, I clicked on the article and decided I would read with an open mind and a firm resolve to do whatever the article suggested.  After all, “Penny’s” bio indicated she was a successful stock trader and author.

      Tip #1: $ave money on your water bill by showering at the gym.  My shoulders shook with an acerbic, snide chuckle as I read this first tip, but I had determined that I would follow these tips as penance for pessimism at the outset, so I got on the phone.  I called the gym with the reputation for being the largest, most state-of-the-art facility in the city: “Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me if you have showers at your facility?  You do?  Wonderful.  Also, do you have early morning, late evening, and weekend hours?  Yes?  Fantastic.  Now, do I have to call and make an appointment for a shower or do I just show up whenever I feel dirty?  No, not that kind of dirty.  What? … I assure you, madam, I am not a prank caller.  I just read an article on how to save money and … I see.  No, no you don’t need to call the police.  I was just looking at this website and … hello?  Hello?”  So much for my water bill. 

      Tip #2:  $ave money by reusing your sandwich bags.  This one sounded more optimistic than that last fiasco, so I decided to take a serious look.  I quickly estimated how many sandwich bags I use in a year.  I then figured that at least half of them were filled with greasy, messy, mayonnaise-y, peanut-buttery messes so those would have to be discarded.  Of the other half, at least half of those were split down the side by The Yankee’s firm belief that sandwiches need to be filled to the point that they cannot fit into the average human mouth in one bite.  That leaves us with one-fourth of the sandwich bags in our household that might possibly be reusable.  If I washed those sandwich bags, taking out money for soap and my water bill (which is now higher than I was hoping, thanks to the skittish receptionist at the gym), I would save approximately $2.44 per year!  Oh my gosh!  Thank you, Penny, thank you!  If I put that money in a high-yield account and promise not to touch the principle, at the end of the decade I can treat myself to a small cola at the movies.  And all because I took Penny’s insightful advice.  Oh, Penny, you are a marvel.

      Tip #3: $ave money on parking meters by having your driver circle the block while you pick up your Egyptian cotton sheets from the laundry service.  I think milk came out of my nose when I read this one.  Driver?  My experiences with “drivers” are limited to: 1) my bus driver in elementary school who blew a whistle whenever the whippersnappers was a-gettin’ too loud, 2) the guy with the gold tooth who swerved his taxi so hard, I grabbed his dreadlocks and screamed, “Here’s 20 bucks!  Pull over!  For the love of mike, PULL OVER!!”, and 3) riding with The Yankee through inner-city traffic and praying I would make it home alive.  When he looked over at me and said, “Why are you so limp with your eyes closed?”  I said, “I’m totally relaxed because I heard that’s how the drunks survive crashes.”  Seriously, does “Penny” really think the average Joe has a “driver”?!  And “laundry service”?  This woman is funnier than most of the comedians on TV!

      Tip #4:  $ave money on vacations - consider flying coach.  I’m definitely sure milk came out of my nose when I read this one.  After I looked up the word “vacation” in my dictionary to be sure I knew what that actually was, I flipped back to the letter “F” and looked up “flying” … wasn’t sure what that was either.  The last time I went on a real, honest-to-goodness vacation, my dad said good old American pay phones would always trump something as faddish and fly-by-night as a “car phone”.  Then he picked up his folded map, mockingly held it to his ear, and pretended to talk to the president.  My brother, Wolverine, who was sitting in the back window cutting his teeth on that belt thing bolted to the seat, laughed along with the rest of us.   

      Tip #5: $ave money on lunches by having your waiter put half of your dinner in a box for tomorrow’s lunch.  This time, I laughed so hard, I fell down and hit my head.  Concussion or not, I had promised myself I would follow through with each tip, so I decided that since we eat dinner out about 4 times a year, I would have to commit this tip to memory.  Sure enough, 3 months later, we were having our special night out and I remembered this valuable tip.  I asked to have half of my meal in a box for tomorrow’s lunch.  Tonya, my favorite drive-thru manager at the “Sammich Hut”, drummed her six-inch fuchsia fingernails on her wireless headset and said, “You want yo sammich cut in half, you take it home and cut it all by yo bad self.” 

      Well, Penny, I tried.

© Bertha Grizzly 2011.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.