Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Head Spa Diaries: Day One

I received the item pictured here as a birthday gift from a very dear friend who reads this blog regularly. His thoughtful gift was intended to reduce the headaches of which I had been complaining. I was a bit dubious after seeing the gentleman pictured at the left, as he looked like he might be thinking of increasing his penile girth or asking that young filly out from the cubicle next to him, rather than relaxing in skull-numbing bliss. Just what was he up to? I had to find out. Or rather, I had to appoint a suitable proxy to find out for me. Someone unrelated to me who, when he snaps from the vibrations induced to his brain, will not be within a 20-mile radius of my home and family. Bless his own wife and child; may they keep the keys to their car on their persons at all times.

This report is from this week's guest blogger, HeadSpaaa2007! Here is his first entry.

When: 7AM - 8AM

Activity: Reading and cooking breakfast

Intensity Setting: Approximately 50% strength

Effects: Immediately causes blurred vision from vibration. Sensation
not unpleasant, though a slight feeling of nausea afterwards.

Neck: Good

Shoulders: Good

Scalp: Good

Length: Unchanged

Misc notes: Will try again later. Am anxious to try on Metro North,
during exercise on rowing machine, and during coitus. Yes, it looks
funny, but give it a decade and I'm quite positive everyone will be
wearing one of these throughout the day. Mowing the lawn, in the
aisles at the Home Depot, at a chic restaurant, wherever relaxation
is welcome.... which is everywhere, of course.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who needs school buses when you have shopping carts?

When I discovered this morning that we have no bus service to our public school, I wrote this nasty missive to the New Rochelle school superintendent. Who's with me? Who wants to march on City Hall and throw turnips at anyone who happens to hove into view?

Yes, yes, we own a car. But that isn't the point. My real question: WHAT WILL THE PEOPLE IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD WHO STEAL ALL THE SHOPPING CARTS DO? Try telling me THEY have cars. Eh?! (Maybe the carts could be used for transporting the wee nippers to school. I can see it now...a wagon train of carts, all rolling the sea, toward education, toward the future. Glory! Plus, plenty of room for backpacks and snacks and a sleeping infant sibling, too.)

Dear Superintendent Organisciak,

We are fairly new residents to New Rochelle and my son will be entering Trinity Elementary as a kindergartner next year. While speaking with the school secretary, I have just been informed that because we live within 1 1/2 miles of the school, there is no bus service. I find this outrageous and reprehensible, not only for myself but for the other young children in my neighborhood.

The secretary suggested that it was "the parents' role to come up with a plan" and that we could "drive or walk." Of course, now I understand the extreme traffic snarls on Pelham Avenue at school openings and closings. Driving past there around 3:30 is a nerve-wracking experience. Is this really a reasonable plan for our public elementary schools?

And, how do you know we even own a car? Does everyone? Is ownership of a car now a prerequisite for enrolling in public school? Do you imagine I will send my four-year-old alone on a city bus, if one even stops outside the school? Do you feel confident that my work schedule allows me to ride on those buses twice a day, back and forth?

As for walking, that's a patently ludicrous notion when I'm sure we come in just under the wire at about 1.4 miles from the school.

I would like to hear back from you as to how New Rochelle schools are "meeting our highest hopes and expectations" when even getting to the school building is an onerous burden, particularly for low-income, working parents. I can only hope that change is in the works for this situation.

Monday, November 26, 2007

War is Declared

My boys are conspiring against me. I am outnumbered and alone, and they are up there, prowling about in the blackness. I can hear them moving heavy furniture and engaging in their ghastly, mind-bending conversation:

Son 1: "What are you doing?"
Son 2: "Nuffink."
Son 1: "Where is Henry's tender?" [NOTE: Henry is a train engine of the Thomas the Tank Engine breed. Their Henry is a generic, green, faceless train that they have named Henry.]
Son 2: "You put poo-poo on Henry's tender. Wee-membah?"
Son 1: "No! No! I do NOT put poo-poo on Henry's tender." [NOTE: See blog entry "Little Poo-Poo Snowballs With Wheels." It was actually not Henry's tender, but another tender altogether. However, his indignation pales at the ignominy of the actual act.]
Son 2: "Yes you did."
Son 1: "No! No! Ghrhrhghgkgga!"
Son 2: "Winkie party! Winkie party!"
Son 1: "I got a winkie."
Son 2: "My winkie is gonna go to Gramma's house. My winkie's getting out!"
Son 1: "Where are mein nickels? In mein cozy?" [Nickels: nipples. Cozy: footed fleece pyjamas.]

A little while ago they both came out, and they had clearly concocted a scheme together. This scares me, because they are only two and four years old. How sly can they be? However, they had worked out an elaborate sting operation called "Criss-cross Applesauce" in which each claimed a terrible, gnawing hunger, and then worked strenuously to back each other up. A web of lies, my friends, and I was the prey.

Feigning an empathy of which I'm sure he is incapable, the older one said of the younger: "Look, mommy, his tummy is empty. Feed my bruvvah!" The younger one lay there with sad, hungry eyes--expertly coached, no doubt. Next, the elder was groaning and complaining of an empty tummy, while the younger piped up: "Dat's right. He didna eat his dinnah, mommy. No 'ee didn't!"

So flummoxed was I at the thought that they might not have eaten, that they were both telling the absolute truth--and might actually be STARVING and about to DIE--that I went up and gave them a half-eaten bag of pretzels. That's right, I handed the boys a bag of pretzels.

But now the truth is out. The babysitter has informed me in confidence that both ate a hearty meal at a neighbor's house. Revenge shall be sweet for this little piece of trickery. But how? I must sow discord. I must divide their fledgling allegiance.

I can hear the crackle of the empty pretzel bag now. My ire grows.

Perhaps I shall poke or whack one discreetly and then say that his brother did it?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Casper Tells Me He Is Black

Eldest revered son and I were reading Todd Parr's "It's Okay to Be Different," a book about how being different is great, even if you have a funny nose and are fat and ungainly. On one page it reads "It's okay to be a different color." I asked Casper, "What color are you?" I expected him to recognize the truth. White as white on milk! Not yaller, not beige, but WHITE. Pigment-free! White as this glaring computer screen!

"I am BLACK," he said.

"You...are black?"

"I am black, black, black. I am a black boy."

"You don't look so black."

"I am black, my mommy!" he shouted.

I turned to Littlest son, aka Whitey: "What about you? Are you black, too?"

"No, mommy," he said, shaking his head. "You is da black one. I is chewing on mein Schtinky Teddy's foot." And he proceeded to do so with the intensity of an angry bulldog, with much gargling and maniacal laughter. (Schtinky Teddy is in danger of imminent nose loss, so we have turned Whitey on to the paw area.)

Casper concluded: "Black guys and I are twins." Race relations shall not be a problem!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Enchanted Evening With King Kong

So, we were just watching the 1933 version of King Kong, which we taped from TCM the other night. (It is on pause since we received a phone call.) I remember seeing this movie when I was very young and it terrified me, sickened me, and broke my heart. The part where Kong...oh, I can't say it! I can't give it away!

But there is one scene where Kong is manhandling Fay Wray and some Very Peculiar Things happen. 1. Kong removes her little ballet skirt. He might as well snigger in a twisted, lecherous way while this occurs. 2. Kong removes her lacy top, revealing a bra that appears to be made out of banana leaf fronds. 3. Kong reaches for her and yes, appears to "twiddle her nipples," looking for all the world like a pervert molesting a comatose girl at a party. Not once, but several times. 4. Kong sniffs his fingers in a dirty, old mannish way. His eyes roll. He sniffs his fingers. Should I repeat this again? [Insert horrified scream to rival that of Fay Wray's own!]

Also, we noted that when Kong lumbers about on the island and battles pterodactyls and T-Rex's, he has no scrotum! None at all. And where there is no scrotum, there is no appendage. And there ought to be a big one, really. Kong appears to all extents and purposes to lack a male member. Now, one might think that the puritanical instincts of 1933 would forbid the appearance of a giant monkey penis, unless one considers the facts revealed in paragraph two. These people were worried about offending viewers? They allowed their monkey to strip, twiddle, and sniff the leading lady.

How this same dirty pervy monkey manages to elicit any sympathy is one of the wonders of filmmaking.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Like Stuff

I am not a complete misanthropic, snark-o-lating, petulant little wasp. (And by that I do not mean W.A.S.P., although I happen to be one of those as well. I mean the stinging kind of insect, the kind that flies out of one's eaves and alights on one's neck when one is enjoying a fine day. And then completely spoils it.)

I am really a softhearted type. You'd be surprised. When a group of people at work sit around and decree that they don't like a person known as "chew toy," I shout out "Nay! What's that you say? Chew Toy is a nice person. I quite like Chew Toy." Or, when they similarly announce--much to my surprise--that a colleague named Tippy Fitzwallop is annoying because of the way he wears his shirts and taps at his keyboard with hammy fingers, I am flummoxed. "But I like old Tippy," I'll say. "Don't you people like Tippy, too? Why wouldn't someone like a person such as Tippy?"

These stories are true. Just the names have been changed. I am a truly charitable sort! Or maybe I am just fond of the nerds and mugwumps of the world. They don't trouble me one bit. Yes, as long as they don't cross me, they can stay well off the "hate list." Admittedly, I am an Equal Opportunity Hater and will look for victims of my ire among rich and poor.

If you go too far you may land on the "hate list." By that I mean stompling on my pet bunny, piddling on my gardenias, or maybe neglecting to say thank you after I have put in hours o' work to net you a big work-related reward of some kind.

But lest I vent too much and upset some people's tummies, I will now indulge in some sweet listmaking.

Here are 20 Fine Things I Like Right Now.
1. The rubber stingray that came with my boy's latest bathtoys set. It is so lifelike! I wish it could really swim. I want to pet it.
2. Nicely polished wood.
3. The fact that my husband is singing with great heart and volume while on the potty.
4. I'll probably be censored for number three, but I like the Freedom of Speech that is granted to every American citizen! No matter how momentary...until husband reads blog.
5. Fresh raspberries in a bowl of milk. Or cream. Or whipped cream.
6. Bergamot and vetiver.
7. The gallopy horse on a stick that belongs to my boys. It's a head! On a stick! It makes a "phphphghghmm!" sound after the galloping noises end.
8. Ice cream cakes.
9. The fact that my oldest son named his wooden truck "Woodeny" and his plastic wagon "Wagony," and he hosts arts & crafts events and dance soirees for them and their other friends (who happen to be trucks and trains).
10. This Rilo Kiley album.
11. I have never had the nickname "Whiskers."
12. The author Sarah Waters. She writes historical fiction about Victorian England, and has some lesbian themes in her books, which isn't my bag, but what a great writer! I also just read "The Meaning of Night" by Michael Cox, also about the same time period. Excellent.
13. The following combination of words: "Buzz, buzz, buzz goes the bumblebee! Wiggly, wiggly, wiggly goes the worm!" They are fun to say out loud.
14. My littlest boy pointed at a Thanksgiving turkey decoration today and said: "I wike dat chicken!"
15. Board games. How about a round of Cranium? They have a category called: Sculptorades! My friends and I pronounce that word in the same way that the Nasonex bee would. You try it.
16. Horse chestnuts. I used to collect them in a bowl when I was little. I thought it was like finding a fat diamond right on the street. Now I have a chestnut tree in front of my house. What luck!
17. My oldest son can write his name. Now that he can do this, he won't stop. He writes letters on bits of ribbon, scraps, upside down and everywhere. I like to see his name written down; he has staked his claim on this realm. One day, he will read.
18. Somewhere on this cold, clammy night, the White Mountains of New Hampshire are standing there, stolid, undisturbed, and lasting whether or not I take the time to remember them. But I just did remember them.
19. The sound of a guitar being tuned is always familiar and true.
20. Whoever you may be, still reading.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I am a snarky little so-and-so, and I repent

I really am not very nice lately, and for that I apologize to all and sundry. The thing is, I AM nice to nice people no matter who they are and certainly no matter what they look like, but those who cross me and make my life difficult get blessed with descriptions such as the following:

"A face that's a cross between a Jack O' Lantern and a Dairy Cow."

"All gums, with a face like a worn-out mule."

"Scrawny, sharp-nosed twank."

"Every day is a bad hair day, especially when half that hair is on her face."

"Has the imagination and the physique of a Bartlett pear."

As penance, I've decided to recite the following series of novenas for the next several consecutive days:

"I shall not say mean things about the lumpen offal of the world who do so offend me. When I behold their bewhiskered, rodent-like, swollen, and pumpkin-like faces I will think of the goodness of their hearts and how they are simply trying to better their own lives and line their pockets with filthy lucre gleaned from the honest sweat of others, in order to increase their glory and the glory of their children's children upon our beautiful green earth. May their slutty, skanky, reckless, and just downright irritating behavior be forgiven, and indeed may I be forgiven for thinking ill of their crappy, greedy, unhelpful, and thoughtless behavior, as it is in their very natures and they are just as God made them, even if He in his beneficence made them unattractive and swinish as befits their black souls and also frequently blessed them with pearlike shapes."

Extra points to anyone who guesses the identity of one of the lumpen creatures listed above!
Damn it. I owe another novena.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I've Been Censored!

My legal counsel has advised me to remove the cautionary little tale of Thaddeus P. Grinch from my blog. For those who wish to read it, please email me discreetly and it will be delivered to you under the cover of night by spy pigeon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Baby Slagmounts Fashion Show

I know you've been waiting for this one, you heartless birthday party haters!

So, my boys usually get their hair cut by a grandfatherly neighbor of ours who works in a barber shop, the real old-fashioned kind with the pole outside and the photos of the Twin Towers on the wall and the containers of Barbicide, or whatever that potion is called that sanitizes the combs. It's very quiet there except for the snip, snip of the scissors and the occasional banter from the Italian regulars. He does a fine job and he charges about 15 bucks for both boys. Then they get their lollies and we go home in a sticky, happy stupor.

It had been a few weeks since we'd been to see our old pal for a haircut, and unfortunately he is open only on Saturdays on the weekends. Our boys badly needed a hair adjustment, but it was a Sunday.

"No problem!" said I. "There is a place in Larchmont Village called SHARKEY'S. It's all about 'cuts for kids.' Let's go there and get the haircuts over with." I felt disloyal trying out Sharkey's, but figured it was a one-time deal anyway.

So we walked into Sharkey's. First of all, the place was a melee (aha!) of noise and visual stimuli. Televisions blared at every haircut station and music pounded ominously from a back "party room." (Who has a birthday party at a hairdresser?)

To add to the disturbing quality of the place, a child in a wheelchair who was there getting her hair cut was barking and groaning in a horrible, nerve-rending fashion. With every guttural scream, her parents would say hopefully: "Ice cream? You want ice cream? Yes, sweetie, you WILL get your ice cream. Now be a good girl." My boys' eyes got big and round as she flailed and howled, and while I'd like to say it was a good exposure for them to the diversity of life it really just wasn't.

While we waited for our haircuts the party guests started to arrive. They were all tiny JonBenet Ramsays of about the age of six, with their twank moms traipsing behind them. (Twink + skank = twank. Yeah, I just coined it. Use it and pay me royalties.) The moms were all unbearably cheesy and wore too much makeup and pranced about in their high heels. The baby slagmounts went into the back room for what I determined from a menu of options at the counter was a "glamour girl birthday party." They were to get hair treatments, dress up in tawdry fashions, and get mini-cures (awww...that's manicures for wiwwy widdle guwls!) "Be a princess for a day!" gushed the flyer at the front desk.

We heard the pulse of disco music, which always scares me in connection with birthday parties. I now have a Pavlovian reaction of terrible fear. I fought my flight impulse and decided I would venture to the back room under pretext of using the bathroom. On the way, I saw one of the twank moms collaring her young JonBenet, who had had the audacity to have paid for a creepy mechanical ride that was like a mini ferris wheel, taking her around and around and no doubt about to strangle her by her feather boa a la Isadora Duncan. (Who has a birthday party at a hairdresser that has a crusty-looking "ride" in the back room?)

"Jordan Taylor!" she shrilled. "They are about to have the fashion show and take the photos and you are going to MISS IT. Get in there RIGHT NOW, young lady!"

In the back room, the little girls were prancing about on a stage with lights blazing. A bunch of sundamaged and over-jeweled grannies were oohing and aahing appreciatively, while the moms applauded and snapped photos. All the girls looked like they were auditioning for the role of Wonder Slut 2008. I tried not to stare as I darted into the bathroom.

One girl who was evidently younger than the rest--she looked about four--refused to take part in the shenanigans. Her exasperated mother dragged her out while talking a mile a minute on her cell phone: "She won't do ANYTHING. She won't dress up, she won't get her hair done. We're just going to LEAVE. Well, what do YOU suggest I do?!"

I thought of offering a suggestion, but I still have to live in this town. Although I'm sure that most of these moms were bussed in from a friendly little place down the line called HELL. They sure didn't look like local moms.

Meanwhile, the boys had been patiently succumbing to their haircuts--the stylist was actually quite friendly. They sat in a chair built like a big jeep and zoned out to Elmo's World while the music from the back room blasted. In addition to the candy-colored experience of the chairs, the TVs, and the decor, the store was absolutely filled from floor to ceiling with things for sale. Puzzles, toys, gadgets, hair goop, hair sprays, jewelry, headbands, nail polish, rubber animals, feather boas. Just navigating through the place was an exhausting experience, and I'm sure worse for mothers whose wee slagmounts tug on their arms and beg for mom to buy them STUFF.

In the end, the boys' haircuts cost $56, including a tip.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I Stomple On Your Child’s Birthday Party

This may sound odd coming from someone with the moniker “The Party Pony,” but I find many children’s parties loathsome little affairs. The ones that remain reasonably small are acceptable, I suppose, although the spectacle of a passel of two-year-olds eyeing one another balefully over cake—each wondering who the hell the other is, since they aren’t really what would be called in normal society “friends”—is one that could easily be missed by anyone who is not a doting parent. I guess I have a doting and treacly streak somewhere in my rotten soul, since I happen to be having a party this weekend for my son who is turning four. I promise to avoid every feature of the tale that follows.

The prize for the Worst Children’s Party Ever has already been awarded in perpetuity to one particularly horrifying event that is seared on my memory, although this past weekend I had occasion to spy on another party, which I have named the Baby Slagmounts Fashion Show, and decided it might qualify. But first, the Worst Children’s Party Ever.

We were invited not because our child was even friends with the child—a girl who was turning four—but because it was one of those parties where the parents feel obligated to invite the entire class. Indeed, they also felt obligated to invite all their other little friends, too, because there were about 40 kids there in total. Have you ever been in a room with 40 kids?

The party was at a place called FUN CRAFT, in Scarsdale, and it started out in a reasonable way. All the kids got to choose and paint one ugly little ceramic piece each. This was okay, but the staff quickly informed us that the paint was indelible and “would not wash out of clothing, no matter what!” Not only that, the ugly ceramic items were breakable. The three-year-olds painted away while their diamond-festooned moms (in white sweaters) lurched away from their grasping little hands.

I might note that these were a bunch of what my friend DK calls MILRO, or Moms I’d Like to Run Over, from the town of Pelham. They chatted amongst themselves about tennis or how rotten their nannies were and completely ignored me and my husband. The birthday mom, a scrawny excrescence with sallow skin, barely gave us a lukewarm smile. Another woman literally turned her back on me while I was introducing myself. Their unfriendliness seemed almost exotic. Were they from another country with very unusual cultural rules and obligations? Perhaps I should have tried spitting at them, rather than shaking hands? A stranger in a strange land, I began to observe them as one might a simian gathering in a zoo enclosure.

Anyway, after the kids had coated their ugly little items, destined for landfills everywhere, with goopy paint, the decent part of the party was over. The staff whisked away the painted items and then told us to move “to the back room.”

These were fateful words, for this is where it got ugly. All 40 children and their keepers were herded into the back room and the lights were shut down. I thought I sensed the bovine panic of children who knew they were about to be branded and scarred for life. They milled about, and some tried to back up and escape, but the door had already slammed shut behind us! I smelled the stink of fear. A disco ball flared into life and the song “Jump! Jump around! Jump around!” burst out at top volume. Then, the strobe light began. Several children began wailing, and the maniacal “staff” at the place shouted at them through the microphone to “dance, dance, dance!” My children clung to my legs in abject terror.

The children were then herded through a limbo line and made to shake a parachute into the air, while other children were supposed to run and hide underneath. All the while, the schizophreniacal strobe light pulsed and the music shrieked. My two boys eventually found their way to a corner bench, fixed sad, dour expressions on their faces, and gnawed on cupcakes, refusing to participate in any of the awful hijinks. Both my husband and I had frightful hangovers, and I almost collapsed in fear and weeping.

Finally, however, the strobe shut off and the music stopped. Some of the kids looked pale and shell-shocked. The staff came out and attached a big piƱata to the ceiling and gave the kids each a chance to take a whack with a big stick. After about three tries, down it came, and the children clambered over one another to get at the candy. The room was so small and stifling that the floor seemed thigh-deep with children, with nowhere to move or escape. They filled their paper bags greedily, climbing through the tangle of limbs to get at a tootsie roll or jolly rancher. The MILROs clapped appreciatively as if this was in some way cute or charming, and their vacant financier husbands looked proud and manly.

All the while, my two boys sat on their bench like stones and watched the affair with doleful faces. When we finally got up to escape the terrible place, my older son suddenly realized that he’d missed out on something.

“But wait, Daddy! I didn’t get any candy!”

“No, you didn’t,” said my husband. “But, you still have your dignity.”

Next Up: The Baby Slagmounts Fashion Show!