TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD

“A little birdie told me……”

Ever heard that before? There are plenty of people who are flibbertigibbets. When one person tells another person something and changes a word or three, or possibly whole paragraphs. So by the time that same conversation reaches about the fifth or sixth person, the interpretation has been slightly altered in translation. Thus ends up as gregarious gossip. Just because someone’s attire was showing significant cleavage and whorish hemlines, or a prominent dentist was caught with spinach in his teeth.

Life just got messier. I have chocolate stains in my couch cushions, and just found out the Johnson twins are said to have studied pro al-Qaeda manuals. But word has it that they were seeking the information only in an effort to better understand their friend Leo’s concentration towards radical Islam. We all need a higher power of help hourly. “Dear holiness, sacred master mover and shaker. So far today I haven’t used foul language, been ornery, cheated, screamed at Fido next door, had terroristic thoughts, or spread any vicious rumors. But the minute I leave my satin bedding, who knows what direction I might take. I may change things up a bit and go for Tommy Hilfiger’s collegiate sheet collection if they’re on sale. But I will need all the assistance you can muster my divine Diety, if I shamelessly squander my best intentions when using the Bell system of reaching out to touch someone.”

Harold Lasswell, pioneer in propaganda studies, was ruled by the “truth” about conditions of harmonious human relations. He was highly regarded with his work World Politics and Personal Insecurity, obviously evoking some suicides, but more sanely, some angst. I’m sure Harold put busy bodies in the same league with adulterers, renegades, hotel towel swipers, and in your own kitchen cookie larcenists. Had he lived longer, I bet Harold would have railed against the propogandic nature of our current communication and been astonished by the likes of Facebook followers and those thriving on their continual “tweet.” The only tweet I remember has to do with a guy named Sylvester who was always remarking, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!”

I want to believe that sunny days will always prevail, and that the Jean and Joe Schmoes of the world are not all wolves in sheep’s clothing. Not like the Gossip Girls and Desperate Housewives who need to figure out some sort of distortion control. Their time could be better spent tending to the never ending OM improvement projects, and being able to handle panting while pretzel twisting twenty three yoga positions and zipping those botox lips. My mother was wise when she said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s when I decided not to say anything bad about my brother when he threw a dart in my head. It was really the fault of his shoes. He stumbled in them while approaching me in our back yard sporting event, and the dart just happened to slip out of his hand that was aimed at me and by some unknown reason, adhered itself to my skull. I knew it wasn’t him. But I did burn his brand new sneakers.

One of my own confidantes doesn’t have much tolerance for those who belittle others and stands her ground if the opportunity presents itself. She has one elderly woman living in her neighborhood who has a problem shutting the old trap door. People in the community have listened to her blow by blow instead of ceasing the verbal venom. The lynch mob finally agreed on a plan to trespass into her danger zone. The next day, the snide remarking Stephanie Crawford found a sign planted on her lawn that read, BUTTON UP FOR SAFETY, BUTTON UP! SHUT YOUR YAPPER AND BECOME A ROLE MODEL! The day after that my friend went out and bought battle gear and a home security system.

So, about my massage therapists Uncle Marv’s real estate broker’s best buds peculiar rash problem. I will ask her later if it’s okay to tell people it’s really nothing, and about his silly conviction led by the self anointed monitor of spiritual morals blabbermouth and avid church goer Blair (quite possibly the head of the Blair witch project). Such a foolish felony. All he did was kill a song in the church choir. I’m sure he wanted to hire Electric Light Orchestra so they could belt out their famous “Evil Woman.”

Hence came the terms (not necessarily found in Funk & Wagnals) squealer, dirt disher, mocker, windbag, loudmouth, tattletaler, guru of gossip, king or queen of mean, and the ever popular Gladys Kravitz. I know I can suffocate any juicy tidbits of information before they hit the streets, AND stay steadfast with my conviction, both in one fell swoop. Which in fact, would be killing two birds with one stone. It may take saturating my tongue with peanut butter, but whatever works. It’s probably not in anyone’s best interest to go along with Paul McCartney when he chimes, “Listen, do you want to know a secret?”

This weeks forecast: Sunny with a chance of badmouthing brought on by slandering sinners, unless we can nip things in the bud.

NOT THE BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE AND WOMAN

Ever have one of those days where everything goes….differently?
Because what can potentially go wrong, probably will. I’m not sure why we have not so nice days, when nothing going wrong sure can be conducive to living happily ever after.

So I got up this morning, and spent hours mind you on my beauty regime, because I wanted to look beautiful when I followed my girlfriend to the dealership and wait in the car while she dealt with the service department. I got into my Jeep, put my purse on the seat, and proceeded to drive and write notes even though I know better than to drive without my eyes peeled to the pavement, or at least the flatbed half a car length ahead of me. The ink from my pen ended up on more than my pad. If we can spend fifteen million on a project to keep a rare spider from evolving into extinction, you’d think all of our millions spent on promises from the stain removal industry could absolutely positively get ink out of my leather purse, white pants, and car seat.

Then my cell phone rang with a little switcharoo in the plans. A few gas guzzling miles away, I turned around and ventured home. Once in my house, I heard a ding dong from my doorbell. I’m usually quite leery answering the door, jittery that the Jehovah’s Witnesses will declare me doomed and insist I read their Watchtower. But I commend the genius who invented the peephole, because it’s quite the screen(ing) saver. There stood my very elderly neighbor, pulling a fifty foot long line. I presumed it was oxygen filled and not a jump rope. She was upset that she spilled juice in her fridge and asked that I come help her. Obligingly, I moseyed over to the golden-agers crash pad filled with everything suited for someone her age, throwing me into the mental torpor of this will be me one day, gaining instant compassion. But she didn’t spill a glassful, it happened to be the whole container. Since I’m supersympathetic about her delicate nature, I spent the next twenty minutes with the arduous task of slopping up orange juice in my nice ostrich feathered ensemble and sensible suede pumps specifically designed for KP duty. I ended up wiping everything else in the vicinity, throwing out items like it was national get rid of moldy produce day, hoping nothing would crawl out and look at me bug-eyed. Although, two dead mice squished in traps made an unexpected appearance scaring the Special K out of me. Before I left, my darling neighbor wanted me to refresh her fiber and fruit juice smoothie, change the television channel, and re-tile her bathroom.

After a brief respite from sweat, the mailman delivered my infomercials requested purchase of an isotonic liquid energy lunch. I swigged and waited. So I spent $25.20 on a bottle of hogwash, or tinted water! I decided it was hogwash. I could have had the same liquid lunch in the form of an Appletini, with three shots of espresso. Needing to be energized, I crawled to my local java joint. But buying a coffee made me late for my next appointment. I could have flown to Columbia and back in half the time it took the nineteenth person in line ahead of me to order a double grande non-caffeinated hot dulce de leche latte one sugar extra caramel splash soy hold the whip. Needless to say, by then most of the day was over.

With my ink stained purse in hand, I dragged myself to Walmart for that added adrenaline rush, even though I wanted to partake in an industrial synthetic revolution after their widespread oaths of so-called absorbency. Suddenly a flurry of flashing lights went off in my presence, as if I’d just stolen their Equate moist towelettes. I’m not one of those living on the edge wanting to hug a bunch of inmate’s kinda girl. Or was I victim, caught in the middle of a heist for Quilted Northern? One can never have enough potty paper products. But I’m usually against gun toting goons who shoot innocent Kleenex consumers. Except the only other person near me was a nun. I didn’t want to let a thug possibly camouflaged as a woman in a religious habit prevent me from ever shopping again. Paranoia set in.

Turns out that the Walmart surveillance huntresses awarded me the hundred thousandth person in a sneeze campaign put on by the tissue manufacturer, and decided to celebrate with a megaphone and enough wattage for a sunburn. I was hoping my cumulative writing material would go down in history, not my five minutes of fame at Walmart. A thousand dollar gift card would have been nicer. What could have potentially been a picture taking moment turned into an America’s funniest retail store video if someone had sent one to ABC. Because instantaneously, I turned and knocked the soda from the hand of Mother Superior who said, “You must like the look of juice and cola stains my dear!” Luckily there were about ten trillion tissues available for that wipe up, and a confessional at church. I’m not sure why I bother with return trips to Walmart when I’m accosted by total strangers, and they don’t sell WAL-dorf salad or pre-made MART-inis.

My merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream state stopped when I was momentarily ambushed. A hoodlum (and I use that term loosely) plowed into the side of my auto on my way home from being the belle of the Walmart ball. Automobile dings give me the same feeling as dodging horses while playing pin the tail on the stallion in a stampede. Or nails on a chalkboard. Need I say more? Same with hoodlums. I believe my car got in the way of a Grand Prix attempt to take a sharp turn without the speed racer looking to see if there was anyone else on the road that could possibly get injured. News flash to that hit and run side panel wrecking person…it was my right of way! It would be commendable for him to come forward so I can give him a caning. Anyway, no guy should ever touch a girl’s chassis unless he plans on handing her a five carat eternity reimbursement ring. And come to think of it, that cast iron skillet I never use would come in mighty handy if I kept it in my car, and if a hoodlum would just stay still for a few seconds.

Bad days rank right up there with having a barium enema. And I figure a day would be completely joyous if I could suppress my pangs of hunger and avoid going to a grocery store just one time without getting clobbered by the price of cereal, plus miss any current news about Suri’s fashion faux pas. So unless I want to recruit a lamprey eel to suck more life out of me, the only other thing that could worsen my day would be crossing train tracks when my car decides to take an engine break. Before the polar ice caps melt and we’re smothered by greenhouse gases, I may go back to my television to harness a bit more happiness by spending another $99.99 on an air purifier and $350.00 for a paddle boat. We’ll just see if they work.

Meanwhile, I should get out the bible and start power praying before that final doomsday.

HOLDING PATTERNS

Hi! My name is Patty and I’m a carboholic. Once in the midst of a hail storm, I had such an intense craving for fettuccini with creamy tomato Italian sausage sauce that I ran out into the torrential downpour getting hit with what felt like fist sized pellets, looking for my fix. With such rain soaking my windshield blurred vision, I ended up in Tucson. But my withdrawal subsided when I stumbled across a pizza joint and ordered a mac n’ cheese pizza. I would have considered penne a la vodka, but they failed in my opinion to offer that delightful entre’. Hating to admit it, I was a funky fettuccini junkie. Then I curled up with an enormous canister of caramel corn. With those 26 grams of net carbs, it also boosted my glycemic index, now making me a sugarholic as well. A girl just can’t win for losing. Especially if she’s playing, Red Rover Red Rover and asking for a Barbie body to be sent over.

Life can be full of game playing tug of wars with its variable addictions and indecisiveness, which has been the subject of contention for years. Left or right? Red or white? Little Debbie cakes or salad? Sears or Bergdorf Goodman? My pearl earrings or the black dangly ones? “Teacher, should I slap Billy for burping or not?” Oops, too late for that one. Aisle or window seat, either way knowing full well I’ll develop cabin fever. Plus it’s truly hard to stay collected while choosing between peanuts and pretzels when Captain Kirk is bouncing me around the sky. And should I pry out my dental fillings during a lightening storm? All of this ultimately leads to coin flipping, or pulling my hair.

This all started back when I was a ten year old sixth grader and the same teacher tagged me by showing a picture of a sun asking, “How would you polish this picture and make it more appealing?” I wanted to reach for the Pledge. It certainly would have made the sun shinier. I felt strained with this sudden curriculum compliance, although it’s not like she asked me to calculate the square root of 47! But my brain wasn’t generating any other innovative ideas. Barometric pressures in the Midwest could have been causing my cranium to constrict giving new meaning to brain freeze, which could be the same reason I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and more reason I’m not a doctor or diplomat. I could have bolstered the appeal of clouds or trees. But how could I improve a sun? So this is what painful decision making was like. It somehow provoked my innards and I wanted the lunch bell to ring right that second. Because, based on impulses that are passed through the central nervous system, the hip bones are connected to the rib bones, the rib bones are connected to the collarbones, the collarbones are connected to the head bones which are nearly connected to the viscera, those sensory nerve endings. Those same sensory nerve endings that lead me to Nordstrom’s, led me to the savior of spaghetti day, with a brownie for dessert. I didn’t have to make a choice on what I would eat because the lunch room menu managers made my decision for me. Thankfully they weren’t Nazi driven, force feeding herring or sardines.

Despite my creativity crisis, my art education has flourished. Keeping up with dark alley graffiti at 3am is hard work. But telling a girl to make snap decisions while she’s in a tizzy, cold, and hungry works about as well as playing red light green light with a turtle. Okay, Simon says to make matters less confusing. Except my habit forming doubt thought processing is like contemplating having a tryst in the workplace, knowing it could get complicated if you make the wrong decision. Who needs more dyslexia, and a sore back from charades on a copier, plus knowing ones proper echelon of business ethics could end up on Jerry Springer. Some possible reasons for my own declining participation would be a death in the family, or a Roman holiday. Or because I simply drew a blank if asked to engage. Or more importantly, if I haven’t shaved my legs. I’m sure decisions like this are symptomatic of other life-oholics as well.

Harry Truman was said to be the quintessential decision maker. How come he got more brain power than me? If your cognitive test scores 84, you’re brilliant. If it’s 54, you’re average. If it’s lower than 37, you are at significant risk and might as well pack up and go live with the monkeys in the Amazon. I’m not normally comfortable talking about neuroscience since my receptive fields are tentatively growing weeds, and since friends frequently remind me that I’m not a neuroscientist. Supposedly the mark of maturity is the capability to choose, and not ending up on Dr. Drew. Yet I’m still allowed to vote, and have the choice of how many liqueurs I siphon. Here’s to one holding pattern………Bon Appe-Tuaca!

I recently read an article called A Surefire Way To Sharpen Your Focus. I hope surgeons weren’t their prime audience. I figured one surefire way to sharpen my focus is to find my glasses. It’s also about time I conquered this lacking conviction conspiracy. It conjures up images of denture adhesives and bathroom safety bars. In spite of this, more and more people are getting older. So I’ll break out the B-12 if you’ll supply the corn pads.

Despite all the holding patterns of pressures and confusions, I say keep smiling. Unless of course you haven’t brushed your teeth lately.

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU FRIEND AND FRIEND

Since last post, I have become a cover model for patio furniture endorsing long lasting vinyl wrought iron protection. And I almost started a bathtub fire, if that’s even possible, from too much candle illumination. I hiked three millimeters longer than usual hoping my biceps would become as chiseled as Mt. Rushmore. I could have found twenty other things to do with my legs, but hiking won over roller derby and chasing stray dogs. Oh, and my legs helped my dear girlfriend Joey move some of her belongings to a new house, in the mountains, on a major incline, one step away from spasmodic hamstrings. Because friends make themselves useful come hell or high driveway. So life is good, given the fact that I started breathing again the minute I woke up this morning.

There are other things that make my life equally fulfilling. Inhaling the aroma of a molten cake still in the oven. Babies fresh out of the oven. Perfectly timed sunsets. The fact that my very best friend Meg from first grade still likes me. That is until I shoot her up with some truth serum. But we should probably purchase adjacent burial plots together since our friendship has evolved nicely to this point. Both of us experienced large family similarities…… Goodnight Mama, goodnight Mike, goodnight Meg, goodnight Mark, goodnight Patty, goodnight Tommy… goodnight Tommy…… Tommy?? Guess he gone a wanderin’ with his best friend. Meg and I survived togetherness now with three time zones between us, but also because we haven’t actually had to live with each other. It’s when two people start sharing refrigerator space that they turn into clawing bobcats fighting over the last pudding cup.

I would never disqualify my other fine friends who have proven to be good for me. It never hurts to have a few allies when it comes to voluntary man-slaughter if someone has done you wrong, and are experts other than yourself for some specific reason. Like my friend Susie, the master of ear wax removal. And Nanci. Talk about multi-tasking. Some believe she’s a real estate broker when in fact she moonlights as a top chef, rocktographer, and grievance counselor…..if she can find her car keys. Lisa is the mortal antiseptic for whatever ails you. Sheri, the great advocate for old people. If I wanted to kill someone, I’d call Marta first for ideas (the murder mystery author). Lovely Katana, who legally aided and bedded the French horn player from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and never got arrested (your secret is safe with me). Becky, retired school administrator and current owner of a big doggie day care and well stocked bar. Nina, skilled in having flawless feet by way of a belt sander that eliminates dry cracked soles. I’m trying to talk her into insuring them and I’d be the beneficiary. And there’s my eighty nine year old darling friend Betty with the wit, wisdom, and one liners of White, the other wonderful Betty. She reminds me of my mother on a good day, when she wasn’t scolding me for sassing.

Friends are my rose garden, without the slugs. It’s with each pinnacle of emotional peaking that they have stood the tests of loyalty, and their capabilities in the kitchen. I’ve never had to eat canned ravioli at any of their dinner parties. And I’m blessed to say that I have an even larger inventory of extended friends. One is a lady of leisure like Charlotte. One is the equivalent of a PR person like Samantha. I’m the writer like Carrie. I don’t have a friend who is an attorney like Miranda, but was extorted by one through her divorce. But very much like Monica, Phoebe, and Rachel, my friends and I have all struggled through companionship and anecdotes in this real world.

In those awkward moments when the rest of the world thinks I’m a total idiot, my chums with ovaries love me anyway. Even if my entire squadron of female sidekicks curse me for being the skinniest of the bunch. Let me just say, I wasn’t born a Jordache or Levi Strauss, but I came from slim genes. It’s not my fault I can devour bon bons like I’m going to the electric chair without gaining a smidgen. But they have one brain cell up on me. I went to the doctor who said I was born with ditz disease. So what other playmate mathematicians were as devoted in helping me meet the fiscal requirements needed to buy shoes, and watched my size eights swell from buying the last pair in size six all for the love and desperation of Cole Haan’s, then run for an ice pack? Guys just don’t spend their days fantasizing about flats, or how their bedspreads would look in pigments that make plaid, or the pros and cons of plastic surgery, besides being a constant shoulder to cry on. So with this cling, will you have this woman to be your awfully imbedded one, to comfort, to honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live? I do.

Being with friends is the most fun I’ve ever had wetting my pants. My next friend could be Tina Fey. But more realistically, Estee Lauder or the cashier at Lowe’s. Because there is always someone new out there ready to delight me.

ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A MALADY

They say your car says a lot about a person. What if I’m driving a beat up dump truck? I suppose my Jeep Compass resembles me. Wide eyed headlights like when I’m scared, and no big rack on top. As far as being equivalent to a compass, I usually have no idea where I am going. My vehicle is free from all those fun commentaries (bumper stickers) that may provoke fellow drivers. And I don’t have a spoiler, those under the car neon lights, a deer head hood ornament, fake turbo pressure release valves, or an extremely high volume muffler. But I should be riding around with a dashboard Jesus. Because heaven knows how many times I have looked in the rearview mirror blinded by a halogen glare. First time I thought it was an alien abduction. Second and third time I wasn’t nearly as relieved seeing SWAT teams armed with mild explosives.

My auto is definitely an extension of my personal space. Which was true until some cruiser lurking powerball of a patrol officer invaded that space, trying to give me a ticket for failing to yield an inanimate object. Okay, so I hit a fire hydrant just because I was going the wrong way on a one way street and got distracted. Geesh! And I was on such a high, coasting down the road away from that fabulous party with my speakers blaring, when a siren burst my Bon Jovi bubble. They sure are strict about driving under the influence. So I’m learning not to swig several capfuls of DayQuil before operating such heavy machinery like my car, and my weed whacker. My joy was replaced with the sudden fear of oncoming traffic, and jail bars. I was preparing myself for future conversation with the copper. “I can’t pay for a ticket oh you cute and adorable man in uniform! I just spent all my money on bills, and those girlie night outings.” I’m not into bribery, so I considered handing him a tip jar to help fund that possible ticket, or bail. I also wanted to ask for his address and tell him that my big brute of a brother is a door to door salesman and had a tendency to go cold-cocking. I do maintain that I was going well within the speed limit while applying mascara and changing outfits in a work zone. So I plowed down a few bright orange cones!! I guess I had bowling on my mind.

Apparently a good rule of thumb is to keep your car in proper distance from a stop sign, pedestrians, someone’s shrubbery, and fire hydrants. And carrying flasks in purses are not calibrated in accordance with controlled substances. I can always say it’s special nail polish remover. Plus, most law enforce-men don’t understand the basic mechanics of females, or bladder control. Based on the rate of acceleration due to an approaching squad car, I sneezed at the exact moment of ticket pressure. The evidence was on my seat. I wanted to say, “Excuse me for five minutes while I finish peeing in the ditch thistle” then walk my bladder back to the speed limit sign and change the posted number to one number above my allegedly cited speed. Or keep it simpler by saying, “Actually officer, I’m getting ready to sell my car anyway, so this ticket should be null and void. Go ahead and send it to the next rightful owner.” Not that I’ve really ever done any of these (ahem) or offered a bribe, like exchanging a ticket for some warm fresh baked doughnuts. That would be unconstitutional.

The percentage of a woman getting out of a ticket does not significantly go down until she reaches the age of eighty, or she has Dolly Parton bone structure, if you now what I mean. But I may want to get all my fast driving out of my system before I can’t see the car in front of me anymore. Both my future goodie-two-shoes won’t be able to lie their way out of a speed trap orchestrated by a young whippersnapper out to fill his quota. You know you’re in trouble if a policeman says, “Collect enough of these honey and you’ll be traveling by bus.” God help me if something else is making a patrolman mad just about the time he wants to give me more than one gol darn ticket. The next step would be to apply for a traffic ticket accounts payable position so I can rip up my citation fee when it arrives in the mail. But if David Beckham was successful in appealing against an eight month driving ban for speeding, maybe I can plead not guilty as well. If a drooling female judge can get him off scott free, maybe a hysterical female screamer can free herself from arraignment.

I found out that batting the old eyelashes doesn’t help in dodging a moving violation unless I can find factual error on their part. Nor will walking a crooked line while mumbling, “I dribing jis fine ossifer and I haven’t ben blinking!” I can plead not guilty and defer my court date to three decades from noted court appearance, unless I have extenuating circumstances, like being dead by then.

I should be a bit more sure of myself when it comes to stalking sirens. I’m not. But I really should be. The next time I’m stopped and a road warden says, “Unless you are in the medical profession rushing to an emergency, fork over your license and registration!” I may just tell him, “Oh but officer I am! I have a doctorate in behavioral science and your behavior is atrocious. And just so you know, I left my fork in the dishwasher!”