I consider myself a babe sometimes, especially since I’m an older gal who still has guys looking at me. If they are gawking, it’s more likely I am carrying around a trail of toilet paper that is stuck to my panties. Then I find myself acrimoniously muttering four-letter words and in the next breath, coming back to civility by saying, “Your patience during my time of venting frustration is thoroughly appreciated.” Never mind the more colorful stuff that comes pouring out of my mouth when I’m pulling out said soft thin toitee layers while twenty other people are staring. Sometimes I just don’t think before I speak. I do the same exact thing when I’m being passed on the freeway by some overzealous Nascar drivers. Or when I have spilled oily foods on my freshly laundered clothes. My swear jar could probably finance the entire Department of Molecular Medicine. I realize it’s unladylike to curse. After a long day gone, I also have this indelicate desire to be flop free and whip off my bra through my shirt sleeves before I even reach the front door. I may be one of those ladies in the nursing home who gets kicked out due to cursing and creating chaos.

In our house growing up, we got our mouths washed out with soap for swearing. Now when I’m happy, I sputter off innocent words. But when I’m upset, I use the Lord’s name in vain, hoping He has a sense of humor when I turn into a foul-mouthed name dropper. I’m not sure where this came from when I was a church going purist who was taught better. In my past I would have said, “Dangit. There’s a piece of toilet paper stuck to my behind.” Now, I’m exerting every effort to sound off irreverently about whatever experience is annoying me. In order to curb such enthusiasm, I looked into this disturbing characteristic. Seems I have Lalochezia, the emotional relief gained from using vulgar language. Then I’m mad at myself and proceed to walk around and do something else that’s dumb, experiencing life at the rate of several more profanities per minute. I don’t often use big words. Not when a singularly linguistic expression can satisfy my immediate need.

Of course not all females swear. But I have witnessed quite a few using grandiloquent language. The last time I was on an airplane, that lively pedestrian promenade that has people watching at its finest, I thought I would be zenning out when in fact I ended up interacting with a collection of female cussers. I sat next to one gal and immediately said to her, “I know it’s against code and all, but if we experience any sky diving, I’ll adjust your oxygen mask after you adjust mine.” She rolled her eyes and started spouting off at me as if I was some kind of self-centered gamine with wicked charm. But I stayed wildly optimistic that she would save my life in case of a dire emergency. She began describing her dislike for airplane food, complaining that it tasted like “f-ing cardboard.” Whereas I told her, “There’s always peanuts!” Some cheered me on. Although I’ve known others in my life who have wanted to gag me from day one. She started mumbling a bunch of sentence enhancers that would have made a sailor sound like a saint. It brought to light my own iniquitous and foolish practices of profanity use.

When I turned away, I observed a couple who was obviously on their anniversary trip since he was presenting her with a wrapped box. She wanted one with diamonds in it, but he surprised her with a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret. Every strand on her mood swing snapped, and she possessed a demeanor that suggested she was unsatisfied with his sexual gift. It sounded like they had a successful relationship when I overheard something about four children, five grandchildren, and ten thousand days of togetherness. And I assumed there were zero stabbings during that lengthy time period. But that moment was forever captured with quite a blasphemous retort from the wife that ended with a wonderful exchange. One that almost made me want to be married.

Not fifteen minutes later, a boy was kicking the back of another woman’s seat. Meanwhile, the man next to her decided to take a reclining snoozer by taking up two seats to nap. She was not a happy-go-lucky beam of flourishing sunshine. I suppose she began swearing because beating the hell out of two humans is illegal in most states. I cannot repeat what the woman said. I can only say that the younger mister adorableness was a sponge, and that those vocables do not vaporize so quickly. Her words packed a serious punch and he could have repeated them. It was bad enough he called her “meannie head.” She erupted again, correcting his comeback while verbally bashing the man next to her with more smuttiness. This might be what happens when you don’t pay close attention to your espresso intake. Or I came to another epiphany that maybe she was menopausal and someone messed with the airline thermostat. I do believe that women with that sort of influence usually live longer than men who mention it.

My body language doesn’t always say what I’m thinking. But watching this babe told me that she was probably prepared to use a closed fist on both of them while spouting off indecencies. People in the down under know how to react to things like this. Aussies would tell the woman, “That’s a bit crikey ya wanker!” Which is the clean way of saying, Oh my gosh you idiot. This prolonged stay in verbal punishment prison made me want to chant, Stop, in the name of love… besides stopping my own profanity use. I knew it was a good day when I didn’t need to unleash my own flying innuendos. And I could have, since there is usually a screaming toddler on board, or when you’re hedged between two tedious talkers with horrid breath, or when the lavatory is being overly occupied by sex driven couples. Vulgarities could have easily erupted when the young girl in front of me decided to free her forever flowing hair by letting it drop behind her seat and onto my tray table where my food was resting, not to mention covering my in-flight video and totally blocking those Jerry & Kramer shenanigans. The man on the other side of me recommended that I not point my finger and try to arrange safe words when describing my angst. Lucky for Rapunzel I wasn’t carrying any hair cutting shears. I did wonder if the airplane masks that dropped down carried something else besides oxygen.

I have used the “F” bomb, trying fiercely to change it to “fudge.” The problem with that is, I think about food then run to the store for Fudgsicles and whatever else has crystalline candy and saturated fats in it. As I get older, I realize I should take up other hobbies like knitting. Or muzzle wearing.


Now that I’ve become a keen sharpshooter, no one should be nervous. If I see something crawling up your leg, the Annie Oakley in me can take out the dreadful creature in half a second. Although it’s your leg you might want to worry about. I had to learn how to shoot since we have a lawn invader whose rank presence would make even a garbage truck veer away. Just call me the crazy skunk lady. My neighbors did when I aimed straight at them.

One of the foul-smelling scoundrels comes to visit us every night. And believe me, they are nothing like Ipanema girls parading in who are as they say, tall and tan and young and lovely. These varmints are short and partly pale and older and much wiser and repulsive. It doesn’t do me a darn bit of good to stop and smell the ranunculus in my garden when there’s a strong toxic scent lurking around them. At first, my boyfriend and I looked at each other wondering who passed this strange sort of gas. We did eat something that night for dinner that made the rapid release of some powerful methane and sulfur. What was worse was having a bigger stinker trailing the yard. Wildlife removal and animal control are never around when you need them. So we decided to take matters into our own hands before being at risk for skunk psychosis.

We began plotting our skunk trapping strategies wondering which artillery methods to wield, without resorting to firing off a few hundred flares then basically bombing our back yard. There would be a lot of damage repair and the reinstallation service of laying new sod and planting shrubs all over again, not to mention the spray that would occur during the obliteration. If we use a simple slingshot, chances are that we would miss the piss-cat and snip off some of our cherished blossoms. I thought about borrowing my friend’s dog and have a sleepover for scaring purposes. We could bait the black and white weasel with food, but then we’d have a slew of other unwanted guests. Or we could simply trap him in a cage and play some funky music till he died.

There are fifty states, 3.8 million miles of land mass, and one skunk still willing to walk through our valley of death. We opted to go with Plan W. Whip out the BB gun, sit on the patio with a glass of wine, talk in low monotones, wait for the little mephitis to show up, and mame him till he waddles away and warns the rest of his species never to show up at the Walton-Clark household again. In the corporate world, they pay you big bucks to think this way. What we didn’t count on was the fact that we ended up drunk as the skunk. When I watched Cape Fear, I didn’t think about the unparalleled suspense. I thought about the same vulnerability from the feeling of being dominated, wondering how I would handle that predator. But something told me it wouldn’t be near the same type of situation. I’d probably have to kiss my arse goodbye.

The following night, I sorted my contemplation by importance, comfortableness, and my boyfriend’s point of view. So in the general relativistic sense, we both found that patience and not raising a stink ourselves was the best way to prepare for the showdown. I was confident that we could handle being local trappers, as long as the thing didn’t score a direct hit from fifty paces, rendering us temporarily blind and useless. I had to practice hitting the deck in case this happened. But if there’s one thing I know about striped animals, they don’t really come when you call them. My boyfriend reassured me that the long lost and possibly rabid intimidator would want to search our lawn for grubs sooner or later. We sat the next night waiting again while I practiced soberism along with my shooting, trying to keep my trigger happy self under control. I didn’t want to sing, really. Singing leads to dancing and possibly spooking the skunk, dancing might lead to me falling and missing out on the actual annihilation, and the skunk might spray me and I’d have to remove all my clothes. Falling might lead to hurting myself whereas paramedics would show up and smell my body that would be more noxiously fragrant than a septic tank. Not to mention they would see me naked. After all that Einstein-ish brain activity, the stinkpot decided to take the night off.

We still haven’t caught the odorous animal. But we haven’t given up. We have a whole new plan of attack tonight, unless the fur handling auction committee that I called comes to take him away. I was hoping to reveal a fun and final chapter to our skunk saga. Instead, I can only reveal the story my beau told me about another time when he dealt with a similarly sly little bugger. His mother lived with him and at the time, urged him to get rid of the critter that was hovering around their house. Trying to stay incognito since the police station was one block away, he grabbed his shotgun, proceeded out the back door where he targeted the perpetrator, fired the carbine and massacred the unpleasant munchkin with a bang that was heard for miles, ran back into the house and laid down the gun, then nonchalantly walked out the back door again yelling, “What the hell was that?”


Recently I scanned a complete manual of things that might kill you. Listed was a stack of trappings that included ovarian cancer, fairground accidents, eating apples from a manchineel tree, and having a mother-in-law. Just kidding. But most of the time when someone wants an unsolicited opinion, they can get it from the reluctantly related woman who has given birth to your husband. And if there are children involved, some say that co-parenting with a sociopathic troublemaker is a special kind of hell where you are constantly thinking up a viable exit strategy. I was one of the lucky ones. Mine would never have been cast for the movie Monster-in-law since she was not manipulative or vindictive in any way. I was worried though, when they had just named a hurricane after her.

Lemoncholy was probably the word that most described how I felt about partnering with this lady, which left me downing a coupla citrusy Arnie Palmers that facilitated some deep concerns about sharing my husband. And I felt the intense pressure to produce offspring when she was around. Maybe it was the cutout magazine ads for Gerber. Or the fact that she watched me draw and paint pictures when I should be nursing or diapering. I felt her silent stares one day as if she were to say, “Now walk away from that artist’s easel and go start making me some grandchildren.” So I did, after she went home of course. It wasn’t long before she was one happy lady who held onto my postpartum belly for nine months and showed up in the delivery room ready to grab my daughter the second she slid out of the birth canal. But that was okay since I couldn’t get up or anything, and the man I married was gravitationally challenged and basically needed smelling salts. That was a good bonding experience, especially after she viewed my privates. Then I was twice blessed with having a baby that inherited every last one of my in-laws traits. My infant didn’t look anything like me except for a few eyelashes. It was also an odd coincidence that my kiddo was the spitting image of the hunkish teen who mowed our lawn.

My MIL wanted to get my first baby’s ears pierced at the budding age of six months. It may have been a hopeful experience that might have changed my whole attitude towards the usefulness of nose, nipple, and naval rings. But I wanted my teensy tot to be old enough to handle the responsibility of caring for those ears all by herself. My daughter would have probably loved to go bungee jumping as well. But that wasn’t going to happen either. My newly kin folk said the piercings could be done by an insightful and caring staff that uses high quality jewelry. If it weren’t for my MIL, I would never have known the luxury of owning cashmere. So I wondered if the earrings were coming from Cartier. And if so, I could surely get mine done instead.

Thankfully I didn’t have to reach for love potion number ninety-nine when my MIL was around because she was a delightful creature who didn’t make me resort to drinking. I didn’t get Cartier earrings, nor did my daughter. But she did teach me how to keep my babes away from undetectable poisons or being mauled by unsuspecting characters. She helped me when I had no functioning brain cells after being up all night with feverish and restless children. She supplied plenty of hugs and conversations with my babies in the wee hours of the morning and let me sleep. I couldn’t be sad having her around. Not when Pottery Barn should hail her as the reigning queen of tablecloth usage since she let my toddlers run around with my fine Belgian Flax linens that doubled as capes. She also taught my kids how to dial her phone number. That’s why my outlandish phone bills had misdialed calls to foreign countries. But with grandmothers around, toddlers don’t ask for an apple, then refuse the apple, then ask why the apple was cut up, then cry because the apple was in wedges instead of cut into giraffe shapes. Kids are just happier people. It was the marriage that turned out not so successful.

Come to find out, there are lots of people out there who are crammed into crowded corners of their own homes jockeying for cabinet positions with a hurricane of troublesome MIL figures. One of my friends commented about the days his smother-in-law visits. I thought she may have been a sea serpent since he always used the phrase, “Thar she blows.” His otherwise silent mouthed cries for help are met by the discerning eyes of this woman who supplies a large amount of condescending tutorials. Supposedly she possesses a demeanor that suggests Hitler is in the house, knowing if he acts on his feelings he will either go to prison or be separated from his wife within a matter of minutes. He added that she most resembles a bat whose body is covered with hair and leathery skin. And in order to keep such wildlife under control, he makes a special place in the rafters in the garage where her highness can hang upside down to sleep. He also leaves out lots of almonds and cashews because whatsherface has nut allergies. He calls her a dirtwater fox because her real name often escapes him. But out of respect for his wife, he calls her Duchess.

Now it’s my turn to be a mother-in-law. I suspect that any man who treats his woman like a princess is proof that he has been raised by a queenly matriarch. I can only hope for a jovial companionship where the jokes are small and the love and laughter are plentiful. But if I go to my son-in-laws house for my birthday, and he has bought me a chair containing straps with electrical wiring and is waiting for me to sit in it so he can plug it in, I’ll know something’s wrong.