Driving me crazy

His first word (after “Da” and “Ma”):


His usual exhortation whilst I towed him and his baby brother in a bike trailer:

TIGER: Faster, Momma! Faster! Faster!

At age 5, playing by himself with his Hot Wheels:

TIGER: (high voice) We’re driving too fast! (low voice) Ha, ha, YES! We’re driving very fast! (high voice) We’re going to crash! (low voice) Yes! I’m driving fast enough we’re going to crash! (high voice) AieeeeEEEEE! (more sound effects) CRASH! CRASH! BOOM! KAPOWWWW! (imitates the sound of an ambulance siren) Errrrrrroooowwwww, eeerrrrrowwwww!

His back seat advice to me at the age of 10:

TIGER: Get in front of that guy! Faster, Mom! Faster!

His views at age 12 on the facilitation of traffic flow:

TIGER: The horn is the answer to EVERYTHING, Mom.

When he was 14 and somebody cut us off on I-5:

TIGER: Hit him, Mom! Pull up beside him and swipe him! I’m kidding, Mom! Maybe you could just tap his bumper. A little.

When he was 15, and I reminded him of that story:

TIGER: I was KIDDING. I wouldn’t actually do that. Hey. Speed up! Don’t let that Volkswagen get in front of us!

At age 16, waving his completed application for a learner’s permit:

TIGER: Today’s the day, Mom! 9:35 am! Oceanside DMV! Let’s go! Faster, Mom! Faster!

I’m not just taking one 16-year-old Tiger to get a learner’s permit; there’s a whole bunch of younger Tigers who are coming along, too.

Reach out and touch some Christmas bulbs, will you?

I’ve gotten some interesting recorded messages on our answering machine, but last night’s message was sad.


Hello! This is a friendly reminder from Blockbuster! Perhaps it has slipped your mind, but you have several overdue DVDs —

Ooops! Wrong recorded message. Okay. Here’s the right one…


Hey, Bonnie, what is that in the envelope?

Some… pictures of… Christmas bulbs? And that’s all? No note or nothing?

Call me. Bye.

Pictures of some Christmas bulbs? What?

Picture of the card I sent her
The Christmas bulbs.

Oh! That sounds like our Christmas cards, the ones I didn’t get a chance to mail out, so I used them as thank-you notes instead. (Hey! I may be a procrastinator, but I am a frugal procrastinator.)

My mother-in-law left the message. Her voice gave a little quiver during the “no note or nothing?” part, like she was a bit upset and the recorded message she really wanted to leave would’ve sounded more like this:


I certainly don’t understand this, but perhaps in today’s modern world a picture of some Christmas bulbs is all that’s necessary to express thanks anymore.

Well, I’ll take what I can get, as long as it’s supposed  to be thanks. Don’t want to misunderstand any subtle but important messages, you know.

Call me. Bye.

My mother-in-law’s vocal quivers are extremely expressive.

As I played that message, the boys looked up in concern. “Mom! Grandma’s upset!” said Tiger. “She sounds like she’s about to cry!”

“Yeah, Mom,” said Squirt. “How come you sent her some pictures of Christmas bulbs instead of a thank-you note?”

Please note that Squirt hasn’t written a single thank-you yet. Tiger wrote up a bunch, but has issues with putting them into envelopes and addressing them off. And Hubby never sends notes out at all, just calls and gives people thanks over the phone.

Therefore, I am THE ONLY ONE who’s already mailed out the bulk of my thank-you notes. Before the postage increase, too. (Frugal!)

I still have a few to finish; some of my friends may get theirs in February. Tiger’s probably won’t go out until April and we’ll be lucky if Squirt gets his out by June. But at least I’m smart enough to send my mother-in-law’s out first.

And I KNOW I wrote a note to my mother-in-law. I remember writing it, addressing the envelope, stamping it and sending it off. Perhaps I put my mother-in-law’s card back in the box and sent her an empty one? My brain—is it that bad?

Mental dysfunction or no, I had to discover what I’d done. So I gave that dear lady a call:

MIL: That was very strange, those Christmas bulbs.

Me: You mean there wasn’t anything written on that card? Nothing at all?

MIL: It was a card?  No. It was not.  It was just a piece of cardboard, with some Christmas bulbs on it.

Me: It was a card! Open it up and see!

MIL: Oh, all right. Hmmm. You’re right! It is  a card. Hmm! And I even showed it to the rest of the family—nobody else could figure it out, either! We all thought you’d sent me a piece of cardboard with some Christmas bulbs on it.

Me: (squirms)   Oooh.

MIL: It must have been squished too hard by the post office. Heh! Sorry! Thank you for the card! Well! You’ve probably got lots to do. I’m going to finish my crossword puzzle. Bye!

I’ll see your big beefy and I’ll raise you one flark

SQUIRT: Flarking is one of the funnest decks. Scott put together a deck which made flarking even more deadly. It was like, Super Flark.

TIGER: Yeah, well, want to hear what else I’ve done? Say I’m out of everything, except this. (holds up a card) And oh, no! You’ve got an even bigger guy out! So now… I play AURA THIEF!

SQUIRT: Aura Thief! ATTACK! What are you going to do, hunh? Hunh? Block it? Ha!

TIGER: And I got Leaf Play, too… the most awesome card I’ve ever seen. It boomerangs!

I have no idea what they’re talking about. All I know is Tiger ordered a bunch of Magic: the Gathering cards that arrived this afternoon. And now he and Squirt are acting like Christmas came for the second time in two weeks.

TIGER: Just wait until I play Jeff! He has Platinum Angel—a four-point flyer!

ME: And that means—? Speak English, boy.

TIGER: It means your opponents can’t win the game, and you can’t lose the game. But this card… this card! It allows me to look through Jeff’s deck, and grab it. And take it. And laugh at him. It’s a requirement.

SQUIRT: This is a strategy game, Mom.

The Wizards of the Coast have a good strategy game all right, something those dudes on Wall Street would call an excellent business model: keep manufacturing cards with a little more oompf in them than previous editions.

And I don’t know about you, but to me, “strategy games” mean chess, or poker, or even Risk; a game in which somebody out-maneuvers somebody else with the resources he’s been given, not with the resources he bought with his Christmas money.

SQUIRT: I’m going to have to buy some squirrel cards, so I can kill you with squirrels.

TIGER: So you’ll beat me with squirrels? Ha! I’ll take your squirrels and laugh in your face.

SQUIRT: Basically it’ll be a bunch of squirrels running around, nibbling your opponents to death.

TIGER: That’s a slap in the face, getting beat down by squirrels. Heh!

HUBBY: You guys are nuts.

Hubby can schmooze with the best of them, even if he doesn’t speak the lingo. But he’s a man who sets stock by his mutual funds, not by little cards averaging about 75 cents a pop. And from the way he’s wrinkling his nose, I can see he doesn’t buy the strategy bit, either.

HUBBY: You’re both trying to make it sound like it makes sense, but it doesn’t.

SQUIRT: (patiently) Dad, when you think about it, “indestructible,” that was a stupid thing! But—hey, Tiger, how come you doubted the Squirrel deck?

TIGER: Heh! Jared got trampled by a squirrel! Four/fours, I think. Yours would be zero/ones, or one/one. Heh!

HUBBY: Oh, yeah? I’d be like a ten/ten.

SQUIRT: HA! Ten/tens! Dad! They’re big beefies! Giant leviathans that level cities!

HUBBY: That’s me, all right.

SQUIRT: Ha, little do you know. Instead of having a big beefy as a rare, I’d rather have little weenies.

HUBBY: So instead of a big beefy, you’d rather have a little weenie?

TIGER: Busted!

SQUIRT: Like you don’t have little weenies in your deck! You guys suck! And Mom? You can stop writing right now.

In the post office, no one can hear you scream

A team of scientists from San Diego claims to have found extraterrestrial life standing in line in local postal offices.

Well, okay, so I made that up. But some day I’m sure this statement will be proven as scientific fact. Really!

You see, yesterday I spent a long time waiting in the post office. This gave me plenty of time to observe people who acted an awful lot like they came from Pluto. I even sorted them into the following types:

The Odiferous Alien:

This is a really stinky alien. In fact, any insects flying within a three-foot radius of this extraterrestrial will instantly drop dead to the floor. Lifting his package from the floor to the mail counter raises his body temperature and exposes his underarms, thereby increasing the three-foot radius to six feet.

This alien has been known to make even hardened postal employees cry.

The Angry Alien:

This creature becomes more and more irritated the closer he gets to the counter. His irritation manifests itself in spontaneous comments to no one in particular, like, “To hell with this!” and “Dammit!” and “Screw this!”

He grimaces a lot, frightening ordinary humans whose expressions of fear he takes to be a form of agreement. Any information relayed to him by the postal clerks may cause him to erupt into a heated tirade before he shouts and stomps out of the post office.

Note: Angry Aliens are sometimes confused with Helpful Aliens, described below.

The Helpful Alien:

This alien unexpectedly calls out to the postal clerks, describing the general conditions of the post office line and/or making suggestions, like, “There are a LOT of people in your line!” and “Do you see how many people are in your line?” and “Do your job faster so we can all get out of this line!”

Confident that all will be well when the postal employees actually follow his advice, this alien gets concerned if he thinks they haven’t heard him and may punctuate his observations with “Hel-LO! Is anyone home?”

The Reproducing Alien:

These extraterrestrials allow their spawn to fling packages of collector postal stamps at each other, whack each other on the head with mailing tubes, and scream at extremely high decibel levels.

Sometimes the spawn stop to stare at human customers as if considering whether they would taste good or not. Fearful of being eaten, the humans may try to prove they come in peace by waving and/or smiling, but this only causes the spawn to scream at even higher decibel levels.

Note: never approach alien spawn, as their parental units may see you as an edible threat to their offspring. Remember! They are reproducing, so they’re probably hungry.

The Clueless Alien

This alien has no idea why she is at the post office, except that it has something to do with the stamp machine. Confident she will one day decipher its mysteries, she stands in front of it and meditates, trying to reach her inner alien.

A long line always builds up behind her, mainly composed of Angry and Helpful Aliens.

Aliens Fearful of Human Contamination:

This kind of alien will not move forward unless there’s at least a six-foot gap between him and the human in front of him.

When the human behind him (that would be me) starts breathing down his neck, he attempts to use his searing Death Ray Eyes to force her back.

Ha! This may work on other people, but I after years of living with my teenagers I am immune.

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An effective takedown in a non-titled bout

Sorry for that little break — I blame it all on Thanksgiving. There’s nothing like a major holiday that’ll make you sit down and reexamine your soul’s purpose. And if you’re anything like me, all that inner attunement will cause you to suddenly realize:

Heck, I haven’t dusted since, what, New Year’s?

In my case, further self reflection also produced this epiphany:

If I don’t do some intensive house cleaning REAL FAST, everybody who’s coming to visit this weekend is going to see how we really live, rather than how we live after a major house cleaning.

Lucky for me I share housing with another adult and two young men who are perfectly capable of DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING while I rush around like the proverbial headless chicken.

Bonnie: I thought you said you cleaned this bathroom! You didn’t sweep! There’s no toilet paper! No hand towels! The sink is a mess! And… oh, YUCK. Is that what I think it is?

Squirt: (exasperated) I DID clean the bathroom. You just didn’t tell me I had to do all this… extra stuff, too.

Bonnie: And Tiger, you call this vacuuming the stairs? What’s all this? A paper clip, two marbles, a paperback, a pair of shoes, a bookba—

Tiger: (rolling eyes) All right, Mom, I get the point. Please, next time be a little more clear about what you expect when you say “vacuum the stairs.”

Okay, so maybe they don’t consider what they’re doing to be “absolutely nothing.” They think they are working very hard. Working very hard at what, I have no idea.

Bonnie: All three of you are going to watch a DVD? But we’ve got company coming in four hours!

Hubby: It’s the UFC World Championship! A vital shared cultural experience for men—perhaps you don’t understand how important it is that the boys and I watch this right now.

Nothing to be done about the oldest male resident in our house; I married him knowing full well what he was. He should thank his lucky stars, however, that he’s got several attractive characteristics which allow me to overlook his faults, attractive characteristics I will not go into right now except to assure you they’re mighty fine and some of them involve cooking.

The boys, however…

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m the perfect model of patient motherhood. Really, I am. Life is so much easier because of it, too.


Living under the shadow of the Galaxip Mega Death 3000

This morning I received an odd e-mail message:

Debbie P. wrote:
Please advise the purpose of your website, and what you are trying to accomplish.

How very strange! Kind of demanding, in a deadpan sort of way. This doesn’t sound like a human asking me a question, but a space alien trying to figure out whether or not she should blast me with her cellular disrupter.

Hey! What if Debbie P. really IS a space alien, and my life hangs in the balance depending upon how I answer this e-mail?

What if the space alien Debbie P. is what happened to all those bloggers out there who wrote regularly, day after day, for months and months, and then suddenly stopped, for no apparent reason? The blogosphere is littered with mysteriously halted blogs like these!

Suppose that one morning in the middle of their productive blogging careers, those missing bloggers turned on their computers and found this e-mail message reaching out to them from the cold depths of cyberspace?

Please advise the purpose of your website, and what you are trying to accomplish.

Being the wiseacres most bloggers are, I suppose some of them probably responded flippantly and/or sarcastically, without understanding the terrible threat represented by Ms P. and her trusty cellular disrupter, the Galaxip Mega Death 3000…

Dear Ms P.:

I write this blog because there’s nothing else to do here as I serve out my sentence. Please send me a photo of yourself, preferably nude, as well as your credit card number and your home address.

Or maybe they responded politely, with an uplifting message…

Dear Ms P.:

I write this blog as a means to share my hopes, dreams—and pictures of my adorable pet rat, Sniffelina—with the world! By the way, Sniffelina has her own Amazon gift list now, LOL! She is such a greedy little girl! Don’t feel obligated about that plasma TV, though, because a regular TV would do just fine. [[[HUGS]]]

Or maybe, they opted for the grouchy, “Hell, I thought it was obvious” kind of message…

Dear Ms P.:

Search the archives, for crissakes! If you agree with my politics, you are part of the solution, and congratulations to you! PayPal button is to the left of the contact form.

Otherwise, you are part of the problem and therefore brain dead. Please post your question in the comment section so my regular commenters may have sport with you.

Or maybe, just maybe, they ignored her, thinking she was a spammer…

Unassuming Blogger: Ho hum, just another IP to add to my blacklist. Hey! I’ll blacklist my boss’ IP, too, and then I’ll be able to write about him all I want!

And then, just because the bloggers’ responses were lacking, Ms P. decided the bloggers reminded her of various fungi she already eradicated from countless worlds! And as she fired up her blaster, she sent a final courtesy e-mail…

Debbie P. wrote:
Please stand by to be terminated.

And these bloggers were never heard from again!

Well. I do not want this to happen to me.

Dear Ms. P.:

I am not the person writing this blog. “Bonnie Wren” is a pseudonym for one of several people listed in my blogroll.

Please visit their sites and ask them what the purpose of my blog is; perhaps they’ll know.

Thank you for not blasting me,


Abandon all hope, ye who let Hubby drive

The road to Hell is paved by men who refuse to ask for directions. It’s true — I read about it in college. Some guy named Dante spelled it all out.

“Hubby,” I said, with just a hint of urgency in the old vocal cords, “We’ve been driving for hours. I need a restroom.”

He grunted. I took this as a positive sign.

“And maybe,” I added sweetly, “Maybe while I’m using the restroom, you could ask the gas station attendant if this is the right road?”

His knuckles whitened over the steering wheel. “You can hold it, Hon,” he said. “Just a little longer.”

“Forget the directions!” I said, with true desperation. “Just the ladies’ room. I swear!”

“It’s only a little farther. Hang in there!”

I hung. In no time at all the road went from asphalt to dirt. Hubby’s knuckles relaxed. “There you are! The camp road!” He glanced at me and added, “you can go behind those bushes, if you really need to.”

If I were a man, sure, I’d stop to go behind some roadside bushes. All men have to do is unzip, aim, shake, and they’re done. But we ladies, ay yi yi! We ladies.

In order to go behind some bushes we’ve got a lot more undressing to do, and a bit of squatting to do, and unless we’ve packed a box of tissues, we’ve got a little air-drying to do — none of which can be done quickly. Neither can it be done nonchalantly as we whistle and rock back and forth on our heels, despite what they think. Face it, guys: we’re plumbed differently.

“No,” I said.

“Okay, but it may take some time, now that we’ve hit the camp road.”

“What? You said we were almost there!”

“I said ‘it was only a little farther…’ until we hit the camp road.”

I didn’t argue — I needed to save all my energy to hold back the flow, so to speak. I did some anti-moisture visualizations: the little boy with his finger in the dike… nope, way too weird.

The Sahara Desert: dry, sandy, void of any moisture whatsoever… yikes! Never use the word “void” when you’re trying to hold things in.

Okay, okay… breathe deep. Death Valley, the hottest, driest place in North America…

About a half-hour later my visions of low humidity were interupted by the dirt camp road turning into a rocky camp road.

“Yowza, Hubby,” I gasped after a really good lurch, “maybe those bushes are a good idea after all.”

“Too late,” he growled, “we’re almost there.”

“Hubby,” I warned him, “You’re about to do a little swimming, whether you like it or not.”

He hit the gas pedal and the van shot forward. We entered a nightmare of potholes, sinkholes, and unexpected speed bumps until Hubby finally skidded to a halt in front of the check-in kiosk. I climbed into Hubby’s lap and shouted at the man in the ranger hat.

“Ladies room! NOW!”

He pointed at a little building a short distance away. I rolled back into my seat, opened the door and leapt out of the van. As I sprinted to the restroom I dodged a woman whose dog was lifting his leg on a tree. “If only it were that easy for us gals,” called the woman, sympathetically.

No time to answer — I kicked open the bathroom door, shot into a stall, fumbled with my clothing and made it… just… in… time…


“Hey, baby,” called Hubby from outside the restroom. “We haven’t met yet, but maybe we could — you know… Oh!” His voice lowered slightly. “Excuse me, ma’am, didn’t see you with your dog there.”

I had the whole weekend to plot my revenge; preliminary plans already included a bowl of warm water in the middle of the night. Nah, I decided as I washed my hands, that just meant more laundry when I got home.

“As I was saying,” continued Hubby outside, “Lotsa ladies are lining up here hoping to get a chance with me! Better to decide soon if you wanna share a tent. Whadaya say?”

Better to leave it to a Higher Power. After all, if Dante was right, one day Hubby’d be a helpless passenger on an never-ending road — you know, with no restrooms, bushes, or zippable pants. It’s true — I read about it in college.

Uncle Geezer and the Turkey Zone

“Don’t know where we’ll put Albert,” Thelma said when I brought over my folding chairs, “but it won’t be near the liquor cabinet.”

My neighbor was planning seating arrangements for her family’s Thanksgiving dinner. We should all plan so well. The Invasion of Normandy would’ve benefitted from such planning.

“And where to seat Tim and Donna? Divorced after 9 years — and over a kitchen remodel.” She sighed. “Home improvement projects ruin so many marriages.”

Then she brightened. “And we get to meet Lisa’s college boyfriend! He can sit… hmmmm… at the kids’ table.”

I whistled at Lisa’s bravery. Meeting the relatives over a holiday dinner will always be the gold standard in determining relationship longevity, but as a stress-inducer it ranks right up there with diffusing nuclear bombs.

Or perhaps Lisa was as clueless as I was when I dated Hubby. I remember thinking, what better time to let Dad look him over than Thanksgiving?


I paid extra for an organic turkey from the health food market (“Our Turkeys are FRESH! Not Frozen!”) and I persuaded my sister to introduce her boyfriend at dinner, too. And on Thanksgiving Day, I slipped into the Twilight Zone.

Dad: I promised not to run you off like her other boyfriends, heh, heh!
Hubby: I don’t scare easily, sir.
Dad: That’s good, kid, because my Uncle Geezer showed up yesterday. He’s a real character. And, uh, FYI: he brought his girlfriend. She’s only 25. They’re still in bed. I think she’s using him for drug money.

Now, I’m not saying home improvement projects don’t have their place in busting relationships, but the 70-something Geezer was the kind of relative you roll out only when you want to break up with a guy.

I called Sissy for backup. Her boyfriend said she was mad at him and they’d be late. I told him to put her on the phone but the only way he could do it was to press the receiver against the crack at the bottom of the bathroom door because she had locked herself in.

At 2 o’clock, Uncle Geezer and Girlfriend appeared. While Geezer entertained Hubby with his “Flippy Dentures” trick, Girlfriend drank all Dad’s beer.

At 5 pm my sister shouted through the door crack that she wasn’t coming, so I put the turkey on the table and asked Dad to carve. After his first few attempts I realized he’d have better luck carving his bowling ball. My “FRESH! Not Frozen!” turkey was solid ice.

Despite my protests, Dad managed to shave off a piece. Uncle Geezer speared it with his fork and chomped for a good long time before he turned to Dad and said, “This bird ain’t done, Bob.”

In despair, I looked to Hubby, hoping he could do something heroic to distract everyone from the turkey, like throw it out the window or something. To my horror, he picked up a forkful of bloody turkey, put it into his mouth and said, “Mmm, mmm, this is the best turkey I’ve ever eaten!”

Girlfriend pushed her plate away, grabbed a roll and asked for money to buy some smokes. Geezer handed her his wallet and car keys and as she raced out the door, he leaned over to me. “This bird ain’t done, little lady,” he said, “it just ain’t done.”

My sister showed up at 10 pm, about the time the turkey was finally finished, and we sat down again for a second try at it. She wept all through dinner and Geezer tried to make her feel better by telling her that if her boyfriend couldn’t appreciate her sassy fanny then he wasn’t worth all those tears.

Dad chose that moment to tell Geezer his gal was just a gold digger, but Geezer insisted it didn’t matter if she was, since she had such a sassy fanny. Geezer poked his fork in my direction and said I had a sassy fanny, too, even though I couldn’t cook turkey worth a damn. Hubby leapt to his feet and told Geezer he was wrong, sir, that both her fanny AND her turkey were sublime.

That’s when I decided to marry Hubby.

Girlfriend eventually returned after midnight (without Geezer’s car), but Hubby and I’ve been together ever since. And if Lisa’s boyfriend can handle the kids’ table, then he’s a good bet for the long haul, too — as long as he and Lisa don’t plan on doing any home improvement projects together.

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Phantom Shmantom

Picture of Bonnie and Mr. GhoulMeet my neighbor, The Ghoul. He’s trying to have me for dinner.

“No, really,” I told him. “I just ate.”

I offered to pass out his family’s candy while he escorted his little Ghoulette during the Halloween trick-or-treating process, but when they returned I could tell he thought I’d eaten it all.

Untrue, of course. I only ate the good stuff. Continue reading “Phantom Shmantom”

Strong Enough for a Man, But Made for the Carpool

I drive an afternoon carpool of teenage boys.

“So?” you might say. “No big deal!”

Yeah? Well listen up. I drive an afternoon carpool of teenage boys in a school district that no longer requires mandatory showers after P.E.

Perhaps now you comprehend my ambivalence to carpooling. Perhaps now you might even grasp the reason why my car seats smell the way they do. And perhaps — just perhaps — you might understand the message I got last Friday: “Mom says to tell you she died so she can’t drive anymore.”

Continue reading “Strong Enough for a Man, But Made for the Carpool”