Wednesday, August 29, 2012


If you see your name in this post, don't worry. It's not you. It's another (fill in the blank.)  ;)

A few years back, a group of young girls walked around the neighborhood with a yellow tablet, surveying and scoring the local children as they tallied who was “popliar” and who was not. My six year old daughter came home sobbing, as they had declared she was “not”. And I knew exactly how she felt, because my entire young life had been spent in pleading with the heavens that I could belong to that ephemeral group.

I recall sitting cross legged in the bed of the little pick-up truck, a couple of feet away from Cindy and Shannon. We were heading to a spook alley, then a video party in somebody’s basement.

They were popular. 

I was trying to be. 

It wasn’t going so well.

Junior high turned out to be a far cry from my elementary school glory days. In sixth grade, my boyfriend gave me his lunchtime orange every day, I never warmed the bench in P.E. Dodge Ball and pretty much I had set the school standard for artwork, on account of my mad coloring skills. 

I won Reflections contests, perfected the ideal tilt for penmanship and had cheated my way into straight A’s—not proud of that one, but it is what it is, people, and now it’s too late to prosecute. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say I was kind of a big deal, thus, so were my expectations for the future. 

Unfortunately, as I pushed open the front doors of North Davis Jr. High, some sort of black magic wind whipped me in the face and all at once, I tripped on an imaginary rock, my nose started to bleed and awkward conversation spilled like chunks of rancid milk from my mouth. When the clock struck 8:00 am, I was left with one glass slipper and the realization that I was now subject to the Girls from South Weber—and my, but they were a cruel master. 

Leap over 600+ days of social misery and pain, and there we are, 9th grade, sitting in the back of the truck. Shannon eyeballs me, leans into Cindy and whispers, “Why is Lisa here? I can’t stand her!” Cindy answers back, “I felt sorry for her.”

And I’m looking right at them.

Shannon realizes her voice has carried that very, very substantial two feet, and says to me, “Not you. Another Lisa.”

Oh, well, okay then. As long as it’s another Lisa. Man, I’d hate to be her. So glad I’m the other one.

You’ll be surprised to find out the evening was less than pleasant. Agonizing, really, as it was made crystal clear that I was unwelcome...even though I was the other Lisa. Seems I wouldn’t sanctify their cruddy decisions, which earned me the title: Goody Two Shoes. I called my mom from their home, under the guise of checking to see how long I could stay. We had a special code—it went something like this:

“Hi, Mom. Can I stay longer?”
“Do you want to come home?”
“Yes, I really do. Please?”
“Okay. You have to come home right now.” 
“MOM! Gosh! That’s not fair! Why can’t I stay longer?”
“We’re eating a big pile of candy and watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’ll be there in twenty minutes. Love you.”

Then I hung up the phone, put on a petulant expression, and told them how mad I was that I had to go home, all the while beyond grateful that my mother didn’t need to be popular, too. 

Now, if this were a Disney episode, by the end of the hour, the mean girls would have had pig guts or something spilled on their heads, and I would have waltzed away in the arms of the cutest boy on campus, because he could see past my awkward facade and know that someday, I would be a world famous humor columnist for The Islander. But you and I both know that punishment and reward are seldom meted out in a timely matter. 

I’d like to say I now wish them all well, but I don’t really. I am yet to be perfected in this life, my friends. And that is why there is a lopsided grin plastered on my face whenever I see their pictures on Facebook with faux wood panelling and black velvet Elvis paintings in the background. Bless their big haired hearts.

Which leads us to the here and now, as we find ourselves, once again, about to embark on the Back to School journey. Whether you loathe it or love it, there are universal truths to bear in mind; seeds planted will eventually bear fruit, whether good or evil; parents, your days of popularity are long past—this is the time for you to be the bad guy; and lastly, if living well is the best revenge, having a column to name names is a close second. 

Worried? should be. (wink)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


A few more reasons I am so grateful there is no such thing as reincarnation.


I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted, on account of I’ve been squeezing my tush and pointing my toes for weeks now, watching Olympic gymnastics. And yes, as a matter of fact, I was trained as a competitive tumbler back in the 70’s. Funny you should mention it. ‘Course, that was before I realized how much I loathed the nervous stomach and hyperventilation that accompanied competitions...which led me to pronounce I didn’t want to compete anymore,,,which led my coach to reply, “You either compete, or you quit,”...which leads to the rest of this story being told by my bat wing biceps and spongy abdomen. 

But it wasn’t just the stress of the tournaments—the other girls in my class were mean to me. It was either because they were jealous, or I was fingernails on a chalkboard—not sure which. But here, you decide: So like, when our coach said, “You need to have placed first, second or third at ONE of the county competitions in order to compete at State,” many girls lowered their heads in disappointment. But I raised my hand, feigned innocence and asked, “Teacher? What if I placed in ALL of the other competitions? Can I still go to State?” 


Yeah, I know. If I could go back in time, I’d slap my own face.

But it’s okay, because I made it up to them when I sliced my head open on a trampoline trick gone wrong. As the blood poured in rivulets down my temples, and I was led away to the emergency room, the whole class was paid in full. They earned it.

Those were some painful years. Excruciating, really. It was also around the time they pulled me out of my 5th grade class so that I could partake of the humiliation called, “Speech therapy.” Apparently, I was afflicted with a tongue thrust, and needed to be taught how to talk. Of course, everyone knew that only babies needed speech therapy. Babies and me. So I shamefully sat at the table with the toothless, drooling five year olds, and pretended I was just there to show them how it was done. 

When my friends asked me why they’d taken me out of class, I lied of course. I told them they needed my help with these youngsters and that I was kind of like a teachers aid. This was all well and good until at the end of my stint, the therapist accompanied me back to my classroom and called them to order: 


Aaaaannnnd there you go. She couldn’t possibly have known the collateral damage she’d just caused. 

I don’t recall much after that, and maybe it’s because Barbra Streisand had it right when she sang “what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.” I just know that the retainer I got about a week later didn’t help matters much. 

Later that spring, my teenaged aunt came to visit for a few days. The doorbell rang on a Friday night, and lo and behold, there were two cute 18 year old boys standing on the porch. Immediately I sensed they had come to see me. I was subtle, at first—laying across their laps, interrupting every conversation, showing them my wallet full of money that I had earned babysitting. But then I pulled out the big guns: I had just received a pink shirt with my astrological sign emblazoned on the front. As they sat on the couch, trying to flirt with Heather, I stood directly in front of them, pointed at my shirt and said, “I’M A VIRGO! That means I’m lovable, sensitive, frisky...” and continued on, reading the description covering my chest. 

They looked at me, then at each other, then stood in unison. One of them took me by the wrists, the other grabbed my feet, and they physically carried me out into the front yard, swung me back and forth a couple of times, and then let me fly through the air, as they ran inside and locked me out of the house.

My love for them grew cold. Crazy fools. They don’t know what they missed out on.

Well, anyway, looking back, I realize that in order to have our hearts blessed, we must first have them crushed. And sure, I’d rather have been a spectator than a participant in these episodes, but it seems traumatic lessons have incredible staying power. 

So learn from my mistakes—don’t lie, don’t annoy, and always squeeze your bum and point your toes. And for heaven’s sake, NEVER brag, or mean girls will smile while your head is bleeding. 

Those big jerks.

Class dismissed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Forgot to potht the latht couple of articlth. Too bithy lithping. Bratheth will do that, you know.


I think we can all agree that there is nothing quite so sweet, quite so savory, or quite so sanitary as a paper cup full of homemade root beer brewed in your own front yard toilet. Yes sir, that right there is something special. And for those of you lucky enough to have been a guest at a Red Davis Burn, you know the ambrosia of which I speak. For the rest of you, well, I just feel sad. Which is why I’m going to regale you with a little something I like to call, “Tales from the Wood Panelling Days of Mid-seventies Syracuse.”

First of all, it’s important to understand that everything in the 1970’s seemed a little bit grimy. I don’t know why—perhaps it was some sort of law—I just know that even Sesame Street looked gross. I actually remember—before the “Indian with a tear” commercial—driving down the road and asking if it was okay to throw this or that out of the window. From my recollection (which is vague and exaggerated), only glass and metal were off limits. All the rest was considered proper, because at some point in time, it was likely to disintegrate. Never mind that it might take 100 years. The point was, EVENTUALLY, that hamburger wrapper would become dust in the wind.

A Red Davis Burn was no different—it was a study in awesome filth. They had a permanent outhouse installed in their front lawn, a fire pit dug out of the flower garden for wiener roasting, and a toilet bowl of dry ice and homemade root beer stirred with the end of a plunger...probably not the good end...if there is a good end. I think it’s safe to say there were no permits acquired, probably because there were no permits RE-quired. Plus, the Chief of Police would drive past slowly with his hand out the window waiting for somebody to bring him a cup.

Red’s real name was Richard—which I only found out a few years back. I assumed his parents just knew his face would end up being kind Of course, having an uncle named Sput seemed perfectly natural to me, too. Never questioned the notion that my grandparents looked upon their newborn babe and proclaimed, “We shall christen him SPUT!” Turns out, he was born on the day the Russian Sputnik went into space and his given name is just plain old William. Which if you ask me, is a real shame.

Anyway, the call of the Burn howled it’s way through the split level subdivision, and we all met up in the streets at dusk, dragging along our aluminum lawn chairs, as we made our way to the festivities. And though I can’t recall specifics regarding individual fashion sense, I do remember a giant sea of mint green and sky blue polyester. And tough skins. Also comb-overs. And ill conceived mustaches that might now label you a child molester, but we didn’t know better back then.

We’d spend the evening laughing and chatting and swatting at mosquitos while swigging down the tasty brew. The very genteel Bernice Wilcox asked my dad if it was safe to drink. He shook his head no, so she fed hers to the bushes, even as he finished off his third glass. Every grin showed gold caps, and every kid wore bare feet. The children picked at scabs on their knees as they squatted and teetered on the edge of the fire pit, while guardian angels stood watch. With the crowd being by and large mostly LDS, there was a fair amount of home teaching being done, with maybe even a temple recommend interview thrown into the mix, because we were more relaxed back then, friends. It was a simpler time...a simpler, dirtier, spirit of the law sort of time. Which we shall never see the likes of again.

The night would usually end when the sky was dark, the fire died out and our fingers and faces were sticky with marshmallows and soot. We’d bid farewell, fold up our chairs, and with hair smelling of smoke, walk down the middle of the street as we made our way home, happy in the knowledge that the swamp coolers would have kept the air cool and damp for when we entered our unlocked doors.

Red and Esther and nearly all of the Davis family have now gone on to greener pastures, bless their hearts. I would imagine they’ve dug a fire pit on their property, roasted some wieners and filled a few toilet bowls with extract and ice. And likely, those angels who stood watch are now gathered around in their lawn chairs, laughing and cackling with gold capped teeth, recalling days gone by and the kids they scooped and saved from burning embers.

I kind of think that’s what Heaven must be like—a summer night in a safe neighborhood. With unlocked doors, ice cold root beer, and friends and family who have seen you laugh like no one is watching, yet still chose to build their mansions next to yours... more reason to live worthy of such a place.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I'm traumatized. I have braces. Well, Invisaligns, actually, but it's all a lie. Braces are braces are braces, people. The sooner you realize that, the less likely you'll be to make my same mistake. I have snaps on my teeth, have to pry the trays off with a crochet hook and can't drink Diet Coke, or the trays will fill up with brown liquid. Also, the trays take on a certain "odor" that cats and dogs find attractive. Guess what else cats and dogs find attractive? Their own poop. One guess as to what that certain odor resembles? Hand in hand with THAT news, is the realization that I can't chew gum because it sticks to the trays. So thank your lucky stars that you're only reading this and not standing next to me while I breathe the words.

It all started with what we like to call, "crowding". The teeth in the back were sick to death of wondering what was going on up front, and finally just started shoving their way forward like patrons on a bus trying to get off at their stop. But see, that doesn't work with teeth, because it seems nobody has enough room to scoot out of the way for the back seat teeth, and so they stand their ground, which ends with all hell breaking loose and nobody standing in an orderly line anymore.

Now the symptoms of this "crowding" are that one of your previously straight teeth starts to look gray in every picture (pre-photoshop, of course) and you begin to wonder what the heck is going on? And then you look down at the apple you just bit into, and sure enough, half your teeth have gone rogue.

But contrary to my normal vanity, I'd have been okay with this, if it wasn't for those dang back seat dwellers that started messing with my bite. Remember, I have about 40 something years left on this earth and there are steaks to be masticated. Something that can only be done if the bus drivers come back there yelling and threatening.

So that's what we did yesterday. Told the rear to sit down, shut up and look pretty. And if they don't, they'll be thrown out on their ear and replaced with a titanium post and implants. That shut 'em up pretty good.

It's going to take about a year to get them settled back down. In the meantime, if you see me with a crochet hook and notice my teeth are brown and I have a lisp, just be kind and look the other way.

And in return, I'll do my best not to breathe on you.