SOME LIKE IT HOT

I have this recurring hum in my ears from my polar past. It was a result of living in Michigan with yearly global storming. Sounds of a snow blower screeching in the dead of night sounded like a shuttle liftoff. It was just another thing affecting my SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and one more reason to live in a sub tropical climate. Some like it hot, some like temps controlled, and a blow torch could truly warm some spots if I was nine days cold.

Midwestern meteorologists like using the word COLD when describing wintry chilliness since they can’t swear on national television. Every day I waited for a more positive prediction. Since I also waited for my raised thermostat to deliver a heatwave, I knew my future would include palm trees and year round warmth. You would have thought I’d been stricken with Tourette syndrome the way I shivered. Three hot baths a day and flaming fireplaces were the only things generating enough heat to keep my organs functioning. It was common for me to say, “C’mon baby light my fire.” It was never about a romantic interlude. I’d give a thunderous applause to anyone who was holding matches.

I spent an enormous amount of time in thermal wear under down blankets with a heating pad, and burned enough firewood to have the Forest Coalition fretting. Outdoor activities were unlikely, since I never felt any warmth when I was hit with icy snowballs. I amused myself by watching tons of Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe movies. If I did go outside for some sun exposure, it was mostly cloudy with another chance of a freaking frostbite. You never saw skirts teamed with bums showing. I myself became shockingly picky with fashions, and could have been the poster girl for caribou clothing. Like an Eskimo, I too was a hunter and gatherer. I gathered warm brews and hunted hotter climates.

Whenever I met someone, I shook hands and said, ”cold hands, warm heart.” Brain freeze wasn’t about eating ice cream, and I wondered if hypothermia could deaden my heart. Taking my clothes off could truly stiffen a girl. Riding a snowmobile can sometimes be more effective than driving a car…if you like Pina Coladas and trying to outrace a train. But I was more inclined to stay next to a bed of burning wood sipping Schnapps in hot cocoas. Chills led to colds and flu’s. And with it spreading like wildfire in our household, people wondered why our place always needed to be tented for bugs. Though summers were sizzlers if you like humidity and breathing midsummer nights steam. I must say that in Michigan, Hell really does freeze over. I was sure I didn’t want to retire in the proximity of Corpse Pond, but I’m sure most guys would favor Jugville. Knowing my need to be warm blooded, I’ll most likely be one of those senior citizens that has my heat hiked to a temperature that coincides with my age, which will make me a crispy camper.

My home state has an abundance of gorgeous golf courses and lakes, if you favor putting in a bear hide and power boating diagonally to avoid icebergs. With ongoing problematic chapped hands and feet, mine always looked as though they were scrubbed with coarse sandpaper. I slept in Uggs with heated insoles, and I could have been related to Phil Spector with all the static electricity in my hair. And who needs a refrigerator when you’ve got the whole outdoors? The winter of 1932 was so cold that it froze neighboring Niagra Falls solid. And I’ve seen die hard fishermen drill through fifteen inches of ice just to sit there watching their dinner stare back as if they were going to sing Catch Me If You Can. A person could starve and freeze to death waiting for his next meal. There are plenty more fish in warmer seas. I preferred hanging out where the climate was monitored, and I wasn’t in danger of dropping into a numbing deep freeze in order to have Trout.

Dogs don’t even want to venture outside to do their duty. I’d say penguins make more suitable pets. And frozen water pipes appeared as much as the rest of the animal kingdom looking for warmth as well. So when last glacial stinging hit late one spring leaving snow banks so high I couldn’t see my neighbors, I wondered if it was going to thaw by Labor Day. And when those winter blues kicked in, I knew it was time to pack up and move to “Beverly.”

A Clampett I’m not. I didn’t pave my way west in an open jalopy enduring cross country weather changes. But it does get chilly here in Cali. I know someone who keeps a bag of snow in his freezer as a keepsake from the last mini blizzard, back in 1998. And I see the homeless hunched together when an eighty degree day can slip into a low forty with nightfall. They tend to keep heated with whatever will warm their innards. Mostly Old Crow, if they can get their algid hands on some. I wonder how they sleep when semis are traveling at warp speed directly above them whipping the wind into a squall, and there’s no money or mailing address for Lands End to send toasty fleece parkas. It’s true what Californians say during winter. “Thunderbolts and lightening, very very frightening.” Clearly they haven’t lived with whiteouts.

Residing near the film industry, I’ve noticed all the movies made about cold temperature survival. In Some Like It Hot, the characters end up fleeing frigid Chicago for Florida when keeping warm requires layers of clothing (not necessarily women’s) and a sense of humor. I imagine Marilyn Monroe got goosebumps when her dress flew up to her forehead. But I’m sure the suave Tony Curtis never got cold with all the women that were eager to keep him warm.

(View posts in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE

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It’s about those Christmas letters, the most ignored document in the history of seasonal communication. Not only was I shocked to find out that a friend’s child Chelsea is married with four children, tripped over a Lego landing her in a cast, and spotted Lance Armstrong in a motorcycle showroom, but I held the uncertainty of such a girl when every family I know has a daughter named Chelsea. Aside from that embarrassment, my how a five page mailing can sometimes dull the senses. Then I realized my own family recap might not be nearly as interesting, when we want to snag a prominent spot at the top of everyone’s Christmas card holder. I could go all Hallmarky and simply say Merry Christmas to you and yours. Unfortunately I’m not in a gold crown store with any regularity. So I plan on painting a subtle picture of myself by doing my best Betty White imitation and posting it on YouTube. I mean, few families can boast being a billionaire or an atomic physicist and end the year looking stellar.

This is a season wreathed in celebratory chaos. Unless you have a massive flurry of snowflakes keeping you housebound, away from mall mania and turkey feasting at grandma’s. You may want to go with something a little easier. Like trapping a wolverine. I remain cheerfully optimistic towards humbuggers, and disgruntled assassinators who miss grabbing the wishbone first. I fully understand the whole scenario of the pilgrims swapping graceless niceties with native Americans while trying to avoid conflict. I could enjoy my sumptuous meal in the seclusion of the attic. And if I hit my head on a webby sloped ceiling, it just may be worth the concussion and spider bites. But I’d rather sit myself next to the warmth of a fire and more mildly meditative family members.

Pitiful you know. We can’t get through one holiday without another creeping up that involves eating and drinking. Do you hear what I hear? The average person spends six years and ten months munching in a lifetime. I’m one of the few. The proud. The eatin’ machine. And I have enough corks from the last three decades to float me to Japan. I need to thank my Supreme Being for not letting me past the produce section to the candy aisle that last trip to the grocers. Except that seeing celery stalks and kale feels like bland central station. I will need a little wine intervention before choking down canned cranberries. But do you see what I see? Said my cellulite to the mound of yams. I’ll be devouring those yummies, along with another grass fed goose and some au gratin goodness, hoping I don’t end up with deja moo. I don’t exactly want my gut shimmying while I brush my teeth.

The first 364 days after Christmas are truly the toughest. Especially when they are having a January cake mix clearance at KMart. There’s nothing bad about accepting Sarah Lee as my personal savior that years of practice might just make me puffy. But I’m not trusted in stores with a Visa. We all must make decisions on what is dietary and what can be stacked in cupboards. And if you haven’t noticed, that wine is a weight gainer. Unless you don’t finish the bottle. Except I’ve never heard of leftover wine. I indulge for the mental health benefits and my calmness during carving when fingers are trying to pull a piece of dark meat. The extra doses are for my superlative skills playing Jenga. I’d better drink conservatively so I don’t end up in a drunk and disorderly section of a police department. And I must add, why is it that I feel like a slightly smarter and prettier shopper at KMart than I ever did at Walmart?

Do you see what I see next? Doing taxes, which is much like a fruitcake. Within it lies nastiness, and not a whole lotta dough. And before I become a door to door saleswoman for undesirable gifts given to me, I respectfully submit my wish list. I don’t need one more candle holder. The best gift I could receive would have to be batteries, considering all the gifts I got in the past that didn’t include them that are stacked in my closet unused. I may also need some sturdier shelves. Although at this point I’m not sure what I’d do with seven radar detectors and a dummy security camera. And what good is a volt charger when you don’t have batteries. I need some for an eventual hearing aid. Maybe Santa could also have Lindsay Lohan be a bit more relevant to us tabloid gazers than she has been in the last five years, since we have to stand in such long checkout lines. I myself have been good this year. Well, partially good. Okay, passable. Alright, I suppose Saintly Nick wants me to purchase my own presents. So I was naughty that one time. It was totally worth it.

And do you know what I know? There are still some lessons to be learned at this late date. First and foremost, try to apply entropy into your existence, that secure measure of password strength. Use uppercase letters, squiggly marks, the square root equation of forty thousand, and telepathy. And remember to write 2014 instead of 2013 before 2015. Thirdly, just know more relationships fall apart at Christmas and New Year’s parties. Oh, and keep blazes at bay by blowing out candles BEFORE you get schnockered.

If you’re still awake at this point, I could join forces with Don Henley and steer straight to the heart of the matter by interjecting some sincere sentimentality. I wish to thank all of you for a year of appreciating my wild wit, and jumpstart the New Year with the same meaningless drivel. You’ve been the most phenomenal crowd ever. (Said the nut to the nice people everywhere.)

-Posts can be seen in The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas-

TEAM EFFORT

Ready or not, here I come is an expression I picked up playing hide ‘n go seek, and while announcing my arrival into a men’s restroom at a sporting event. What can I say. The ladies room line was too long.

It’s a term my hubby was not acutely aware of, except during football season. In his defense, he knew the two minute warning and the forward pass. Seeing my grown daughter at Thanksgiving took me back to that grand interception which resulted in her delivery. I am reminded of her every time I see Barbie dolls, or a Heisman trophy, since I am totally eligible for a something similar. Last week I found my daughter’s orthodontic appointment schedule, old homework sheets, and pictures of me without wrinkles. Give me enough time and I’ll pinpoint the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa.

My husband was ready to be a dad as long as the playoffs weren’t on. I had to do a little team talk by telling him that drop kicks are rare, due to the delicate nature of the baby. Games were switched up in the birthing room when several eligible receiving family members hovered over my half draped body, then excused themselves after contractions to play Crazy Eights. The minute the card-ologists heard moans again, there they were presiding over my end zone guessing the gender. Little did I know my laborious vacation would end with me going home to the house of ill fresh fruit.
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My spouse and two teen girls stayed within the yard line while I was away having a sweet suckling extracted from my womb. My, how time flies when you are having so much fun being sedated in a strange room with the warmth of a Moscow winter. It wasn’t my draft choice. When it was time to leave my enchanting bedridden uniform behind, my man surprised me with a ride home in a limo. The hour drive around town had its question filled moments brought on by the guy who released an influx of information and would be held accountable for anything that went wrong during my maternity leave. “Hey honey pie, did you know we’re out of dishwasher soap? And the peaches look sickly. Were you aware that your daughter wants to convert to Jediism? She’s already learned witchcraft. By the way, I called my broker and bought stock in Lip Smackers, and school ceiling tiles. Don’t ask. And could your daughters go to their alma mater looking not so seductive and destitute? (They were always MY daughters during a crisis). Plus, is there even one pencil in the house? And how on God’s green astroturf do you get black out of athletic wear?”

He was referring to my girls clothing, and his. I had every reason to believe my shackmate didn’t have sisters. Or a mother. Or have the home-field advantage of knowing the dynamics of 20 Mule Team Borax mixed with an enzyme contributor and a pint of Oxy. I told him to let things soak in my magic solution. He asked how long. I said at least until the moon was in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars. Because clearly that’s where he came from.

But I did go home again to tackle all things tough and tricky. I could have dyed the shirts, bought my own stock in Faber-Castell, or got rid of him altogether and kept a cute pet around to have such future chats with. I told him that the last time I found a pencil it was chewed beyond recognition as if a nervous chipmunk was living among us. I also came home to things I hadn’t seen before. A lamp shade holding a football, a broken blender, and my side of the family’s pictures exchanged with every Pittsburgh Steeler. Not to mention I was searching for the source of a foul stench. It did make me wonder if I could be cited as a clean conspirator in a divorce action. He could certainly charge into the garage without nicking the car fender, clear a path for oncoming laundry, and find his way to the beer cooler. He could not have attempted much without the supervision of Anheuser-Busch when he fumbled. Then he literally had the chutzpah to ask what was for dinner. Love is coming home to a neat and orderly house, and a candle lit dinner for two. Lust is coming home to an empty refrigerator and requesting a cleaning service when your husband is sexually deprived. He reassured me, “The house was clean yesterday! Sorry you weren’t here to see it.” I knew I was destined for a wine-backer.

I’m not sure when I stopped listening. To assure my goalkeeper that I was grasping his every word, he added, “Hey honey buns, did you know that Ken and Barbie get fifty miles to the gallon in their country camper? Let’s take it to Heinz Field!”

And I thought I was the funny one.

Once settled back into my humble yet hectic abode, I taught my partner of holy wedlock the joys of bleaching. And when Mom came to visit, I told him that he may want to score points by putting her picture back on the wall since she’s coming to help care for HIS brand new bambino. When I asked where the other girls were, he was hysterically ready to come up with this reply. “I shipped them off with Ken and Barbie camping. They don’t have any kids.”

I equated my betrothed with being a comedic batter on the mound with two strikes, and one hit left. Nice wives let men consume sports. Nicer wives let men turn on the television first, and repeat how much they like bleachers. It never led to cleaner clothes, but you would have thought it was my man’s greatest moment in sports history.

(Blog posts can be found in The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas every weekend)

LOVE CONQUERS PAUL

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. For everything from schnitzel to chipmunk impersonations to loving the one you’re with. Assuming the ones you’re with are people you absolutely adore. I suspect everyone but grandma will get run over by a reindeer if they act like a Scrooge. It’s a season of hope, deer, and fear of miserable protagonists.
Who names their kid Scrooge? I guess he was named with reasonable acumen when all the other names were taken. But I’d definitely be asking Santa for a new identity and more desirable disposition.

Everyone needs love. Especially when you’re underneath a mistletoe. Take my friend Paul who began feeling the lonely holiday blues around July. His stocking has been hanging the last few years by the chimney with care, in hopes Mrs. Wonderful will come make it a pair. Paul doesn’t have much love in the form of family, and dating had become a maniacal ritual. Classic attire. Hair slicked back. Bouquets of flowers. Dividing women by composition and tree types, since his preference is a Douglas Fir. Preparing for a date was much like washing his car, making it attractive and raring to go. Yet he felt he had wandered into awkward territory when dining different women ever since his dear wife passed away.

Paul started romancing a real gem named Sara. The woman who puts Cartier at the top of her Christmas list. She wanted five golden rings. At once. I guessed one for each finger. He bowed out of that expensive habit and decided on a date with Dierdre. Then that came to a complete halt. He felt like the baffled buffoon learning that she took an over excessive liking to Ellen. By then he met Amirah. But most Muslims observe certain days of December as a time of fasting, and Paul likes giblets and gravy too much. Along came Holly who was defiantly dreadful, and of no permanency. She had two Doberman’s and a deadline, the immediate offer to marry. When what to his wondering eyes should appear, but eyes reddened like raspberries, and a wifely volunteer. She loved her libations. Sort of like the drunken turtle dove hovering over an old oak. Molly was always dreaming of a white Christmas. And when she was out of white, she settled for bottles of red. I told him, “No need to deal with Blitzen. So dash away, dash away, dash away Paul.”

I wanted to gift wrap Paul a gal pal in the biggest way. Surveying the bleak door of passion slamming behind him, he leisurely strolled through the park right after Thanksgiving into a series of romantic gardens. There was no escaping the beauty that his senses required. There were only two reasons for not wanting to be there. Heartache, and allergies. Once enclosed by plants and pines in this idyllic arrangement the soil has provided, sounds of merry music accompanied Paul along with nearby love birds. But it got to him. The same thing happens to me at the start of September, when I know marketing manipulators spent all year in some goal setting workshop conniving ways to take my cash earlier and earlier. It’s quite natural to want the spirit of the holidays to last forever. Only I’m not really wanting to see piled bills, or pine needle remains come March. But enough about me. I think Paul wanted to do some caroling by that point. Only his version would be “Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, my love filled life, is history.”

Then he found her. She eagerly greeted him as she rounded the bench where he painstakingly sat. Big green eyes stared at Paul and he was hooked. With one satisfying scratch behind the ears, he was assured of abiding devotion. She was warm, snuggly, and affectionate. Behind a cluster of mostly white fur, with a bit of black trimming her eyes and no ownership tag, he took her home. He didn’t care that she couldn’t cook, do laundry, or drink water without getting it all over the floor. Who better to watch over him as he nods off to sleep each night while visions of sugarplums and slobber danced in his head. It came upon that midnight clear that one certain shepherd and miracle hound had brought him some cheer. The only problem I saw in this situation was that Paul could not really seat the date of a dog next to him at any forthcoming holiday dinner table.

We all need that same over abundance of love in our hearts. The sort of love that makes you breathe deeply and sigh, “I’m going to be generous and give away Aunt Mabel’s eighteenth knitted sweater with penguins on it to some homeless person.” Then again, it’s logic like this that could have also attracted bomb toting aviators to Pearl Harbor. But honestly, we should all have Paul’s kind of adoring attachment all year round, no matter the pedigree. And better a dog than six geese-a-laying or four calling birds. It’s a lot less poop on the lawn.

(Posts can be found in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)