It’s hunting season in the Wren Lodge

You might call Hubby an amateur hunter. He’s a good one, too — when he fixes his sights on a target, that target better just say its prayers.

Hubby: Say your prayers! (thwack!)

Hubby’s determination and persistence never let him down, either. He follows a trail with the patience of a man who knows what he wants and always gets his way.

Hubby: There you are… you little… (thwack!) HA!

Some hunters are satisfied with the ubiquitous deer head trophies mounted on their walls. Not Hubby.

Bonnie: Oh, yuck! Why is THIS on the wall?

Hubby: That was the biggest dang skeeter I’ve ever seen! Look at that sucker! It took a chunk out of me, too… but I got it! HA! (to the smashed mosquito wall-hanging) You thought you were great stuff, hunh? Now look at you! Laid low… by the KING!

What, you thought I was talking about big game, like moose or deer or even bear? Believe me: no venison hunter was ever as proud of his trophies as Hubby is of his.

Bonnie: Scrape it off!

Hubby: Not on your life. It’s a warning to those other skeeters out there. (to all the other skeeters) Hey! YOU! You want a piece of ME? YOU WANT… A PIECE… OF ME?

When real geeks attack

HUBBY: No way!

CO-WORKER: It’s true! Pit bulls can weigh up to 200 lbs!

HUBBY: I don’t believe it. Show me the specs!


(He turns to his Google Search box and starts typing)

P – I – T – B – U – L – L     S – P – E – C – S

HUBBY: Geek alert! GEEK ALERT!

By the way: can you find the real pit bull? Not many people can on the first try, which is why stuff like this is useless because it’s impossible to enforce correctly.

And here are some real pit bull specs.

Sin City needs to pump iron

When the kids went out yesterday afternoon, Hubby and I locked the doors, turned down the lights, and … put in the DVD of Sin City.

Yowza! I’d heard it was violent and it was, but nobody told me about the Jiggle Factor. Let’s just say Hubby was enthralled. Lots of lucious boobalas and bottoms all over the screen–enough to make a forty-something housewife sigh as she remembers her forgotten resolution to work out regularly.

My favorite lines came from Marv:

Wendy: You sat there and took it… when you could’ve taken my gun away from me any time you wanted to…

Marv: Sure, but I thought I might be able to talk some sense into you. And I probably would’ve had to paste you one getting the gun and I don’t hurt dames.

We need more movies that use the term “dames.”

Hubby’s Greatest Moment:

(Carla Gugino makes her appearance as the lesbian probation officer/pharmacist, wearing nothing but a thong and a concerned expression)

Hubby: Hmmm. That girl needs to do some squats.

Hubby Figures Things Out

Hubby: How come you never write about me anymore?

Me: Oh, I don’t know, probably because you and I get along so well lately. The best columns come when I’m ticked off about something.

Hubby: (silent)

Me: Yeah. Even Mark Twain said something about how humor comes from unhappiness, and that there’s no humor in heaven, although I don’t know about the heaven part.

Hubby: (silent)

Me: Not that I’m comparing myself to Mark Twain. Or anything.

Hubby: So. The only way to get written about in a column is to piss you off?

Me: Uh, no, that’s not quite what I mea—

Hubby: (turning away) Consider it done.

Me: Gulp.

Moo-ove Over, Danielle

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she’s got to decide whether or not she’s going to keep the vow she made when she was young and naive, back in the days when her head was full of hearts and flowers and her love life seemed like a juicy romance novel.

That time had come for me. What I was doing wasn’t working any more. The only option left was to go back on everything I’d ever believed and enter a brave, new world of excitement, thrills and dangerous liaisons.

But would Hubby let me?

“Get real,” he said, without even looking up from the paper. “The last time I tried to help you with your workout program you attacked me with a dumbbell. Thank God Rita held you back.”

“I’ve changed,” I said, hoping the tone in my voice showed how much. “I’ve seen the light. Rita can’t work out anymore and I can’t do it by myself. I need you.”

He grunted.

“Really and truly. According to our friends and family, your stellar pectorals make you a highly sought-out personal trainer. And I need one.”

The blunt approach always works best. Besides, it was the truth. I mean, why buy a cow when you’re married to the milkman? And he looks like Arnie Schwarzenegger?

His eyebrows rose over the top of the newspaper. “You’ll do everything I tell you to do? No complaining? No more flying dumbbells?”

“I promise.”

“And you’ll let me weigh you?”

I swallowed. Hard.


“Okay, OKAY!'”

He tossed the paper aside and jumped up, rubbing his hands together.

“Do you realize,” he said gleefully, “that in all these years of marriage I’ve never known how much you weighed?”

Like I was supposed to tell him? Where do men get these weird ideas?

“Onto the scale!” he ordered.

“I can’t weigh myself now!” I cried, appalled. “Why, it’s 3 o’clock in the afternoon!”

He looked at me like I had asked him to read a few lines from the latest bodice-ripper. Like he really didn’t know that there is only one Right Way to Weigh Yourself, a universally-accepted procedure consisting of the following steps:

  1. Wake up, go to the bathroom.
  2. Brush the crud off your teeth. Be careful not to swallow any water. (Every ounce counts.)
  3. Take off all your clothes, including any underwear. (Again, every ounce counts!)
  4. Calibrate the scale. If it is even one hair’s breadth above the zero, the overage will be increased exponentially with every pound. (If the needle rests slightly below the zero it just cancels out ounces added by variables like wind direction and humidity.)
  5. Place one foot on the scale and slowly transfer your weight from the floor in a calm but deliberate movement.
  6. When the first foot is in place, lift the other foot and place it gently on the scale, too. (If you need support during the transition, hold onto the towel bar.)
  7. Let go of the towel bar very, very slowly.
  8. Exhale.
  9. Look down at the dial and note the weight.

Unfortunately, my man adheres to The Wrong Way to Weigh Yourself, an imprudent process practiced at health clubs and medical offices and consisting of the following steps:

  1. Get on the scale.
  2. Note the weight.

This wildly risky method has been known to startle a scale into reckoning you weigh 5 or 10 pounds more than you really do.

Like Hubby cares.

“I’m waiting!” he said impatiently.

I was pretty much forced to leap fully-clothed onto a poor, unsuspecting scale with breakfast and lunch under my belt. Naturally, the scale spooked. Big time.

In fact, it would’ve stampeded out of the bathroom if I hadn’t pinned it down to the floor.

“Holy cow!” exclaimed Hubby. I reached for the dumbbell rack.

“I was kidding!” he added hurriedly. “Really. It was a joke.”


I guess all this means we are really and truly married now. And perhaps it also signifies a whole new chapter in our relationship–heck, maybe even a whole new romance novel!

I could call it… The Holy Cow and the Milkman.

Danielle Steele, eat your heart out.

Stuck in the Happiest Place on Earth

It had been over six years since our last visit to Disneyland, and the kids and I could hardly wait.

Unfortunately, we had to wait with Grumpy.

“Aaaargh!” Lines! Nothing but… LINES!” blasted Hubby. “We’ve died,” he informed us. “And this is Hell.”

I ignored him. Hubby is an engineer. They really hate to stand in line–it’s some kind of superiority complex thing they’ve got going. Besides, we hadn’t even passed through the Main Gate turnstiles yet.

“Cattle in a slaughterhouse,” said Hubby. “That’s all we are.”

Every Main Gate line stretched out endlessly, but at least the others were moving. Our ticket taker was a little too happy to be efficient. He whistled as the woman in front of us gave him her family’s tickets.

“Hey, LADY,” he said cheerfully, waving the tickets. She and her family stopped. Happy leaned forward, his elbows resting on his turnstile desk.

“These are COMPLIMENTARY PASSES,” he enthused. “You can keep ’em for SOUVENIRS.”

The woman nodded, smiling.

“Moo-oove,” said Hubby.

“But in THIS line,” Happy continued, “I have to RIP ’em. That’ll RUIN your nice souvenir tickets. Now, over THERE,” he pointed stage right, “they STAMP your tickets. Keeps ’em nice and pretty.”

He smiled broadly. “So, LADY. You want me to RIP ’em? Or you want THOSE GUYS” he pointed again, “to STAMP ’em?”

This woman obviously did not speak English, a fact that somehow escaped Happy. Yet even he should have understood her body language: she thought something was wrong with her tickets.

Hunching over her passes, she searched for the defect. Her family shuffled uneasily behind her. “Eh?” she asked.

Happy politely cleared his throat. Then he repeated his speech.


Hubby groaned. “Seven bucks. Just to park.” he said pitifully. “So we can walk a mile to a tram. To wait in a LINE.”

Maybe the boys and I could give him the slip once we got inside. I really wanted a nice family experience, but I doubted even Jessica Rabbit could’ve put Hubby in a decent frame of mind at that point.

“So, lady,” said Happy, slowly, deliberately and oh, so very loudly. “You want I should RIP ‘EM? Or you want THOSE GUYS” he pointed, “to STAMP ‘EM?”

The woman’s family craned their necks to look where he pointed. They didn’t know what they were looking at, but you could tell they hoped it was an explanation.

“Tell you what,” Happy annunciated. “I’ll call down THERE,” he pointed right again. “One of THOSE GUYS can come up HERE, and STAMP your tickets!”

Happy picked up his phone and dialed. The family discussed this latest development in hushed and worried whispers.

“Look!” Hubby gave an anguished cry. “If we’d gotten into that line, we’d be walking through the gate right now. But NO! We’re rats.  In a maze.”

The woman suddenly stiffened. She pushed the tickets forward, gently but purposefully, her eyes locked on Happy’s face.

Happy put his phone down, his buoyant brows now furrowed. Then he grinned.

“Oh!” he said. “You want me to RIP the tickets. Okay, lady, sure thing! Here you go!”

The entire line gasped in relief.

“Amazing!” said Hubby. “We’ve actually taken a step. It’s a miracle. Hello! Another step. Praise Mickey.”

Happy waved us through the turnstiles. Hubby didn’t wave back.

“Finally,” he said, power-walking down Main Street. “C’mon! Time to go wait in some more lines.”

It was coming back to me, the reason we hadn’t returned to the Magic Kingdom for over six years.

And we really had to scoot to keep up with him.

La Difference

I do not believe that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. It’s absolutely impossible we come from the same solar system.

I was reminded of this recently when our friend Tony had surgery for a brain tumor. My hubby took the day off from work to sit with the family and provide them what assistance he could. His devotion knew no bounds. To prove it, he gave Tony the roasting of his life.

“Tony, those directions you gave me were terrible. What’s wrong with you? You got a BRAIN TUMOR or something?”

When Hubby recounted this and several other of the day’s witticisms to me he could hardly contain himself. I waited expectantly for the part where someone called security and hauled him off for a psychiatric evaluation. After all, Tony’s whole family was there, grimly awaiting the moment when Tony’s brain would be unwrapped with the medical equivalent of a can opener.

Yet Hubby claimed nobody tried to get rid of him. According to him, Tony shouted “You nutcase!” and they all bust their guts laughing.

Frankly, I think Hubby is lying. I’ll bet at least Tony’s mother had been on approach to whacking him over the head with the bedpan but caught herself just in time, when Tony indicated he knew the joker.

I do believe humor has its place in the infirmary. What I just don’t understand is the male tendency to poke fun at the wounded. What I find even harder to believe is how the male wounded like it, but they do.

Perhaps it’s just me. I never did understand my husband’s sense of humor. Take the time I lay writhing in the hospital with appendicitis. Hubby held my fingers with one hand, fiddled the TV knob with the other and said, “Just burp. You’ll feel better and we can get out of here before the playoffs start.”

Perhaps a better woman would’ve laughed and called him a nutcase. But I didn’t laugh and I used stronger language than “nutcase.” And if I’d known where it was, I would’ve hit him over the head with the bedpan.

He swears he was just being a supportive husband. I didn’t think so until Tony’s operation, when I began to see the whole issue in the terms of gender differences. Perhaps my man was being supportive in a man’s way, and perhaps I was stuck in my outdated expectations and didn’t realize I was married to my very own Patch Adams.

Who knows? At least Tony’s surgery went well. He is now recovering nicely at home, where Hubby and two other buddies spent an afternoon with him last week. They planned this visit for days.

First, they told him that he looked like he was going to recover… so they’d give him back the furniture they stole from his office.

Then they guzzled a couple of expensive beers in front of him, knowing full well Tony’s doctor wouldn’t allow him alcohol for weeks.

Finally, they played a game of hearts, the better to lay zingers on the poor guy when he took a bad trick, like, “Looks like they cut out a little more gray matter than they originally let on, hunh, old buddy?”

When Hubby came back from this good will tour, I asked him how it went.

“Fine!” he said, grinning fondly at the memory. “Tony said he had a great time. He called us a bunch of crazy chuckleheads.”

I left him to reminisce and called up my sister. I made her promise that if I ever had to be hospitalized, I wanted her there, armed with the bedpan.

The Phantom

Sometimes a parent just knows.

When the doorbell rang, I just knew what nasty Halloween prank I’d find on my front porch. (Besides, it was dark and I could hear the perpetrator running away.)

I flung open the front door. My son screamed at the sight that awaited us.

“AIEEEE! We’ve been Phantomed!”

Just as I thought.

A paper plate of Halloween goodies rested on the ground with a flyer fastened on top. Outlined in black ink on the flyer wasthe mug shot of a benign-looking ghost.

My youngest rushed to see for himself. “Hooray! Now we get to Phantom somebody! Yippee!”

“Yeah,” I said half-heartedly. “Yippee.”

I hate the Phantom. Every October we receive a plate of treats and a cute Halloween chain letter threatening us with a curse unless we “Phantom” two more households within 24 hours. It’s like a supernatural hostage situation with multi-level-marketing.

“We’ve got to Phantom two houses,” insisted my oldest, “or we’ll get warts! Can we open the bags of tricker-treeter candy and Phantom with it?”

Oh sure. That’d protect them from the Phantom’s Curse, but then I’d be exposed to the Curse of the Halloween Candy Bag That Was Opened Too Soon. The first of this holiday season’s weight gain, courtesy of the Phantom.

“Thanks a lot, Phantom.” I snarled.

“Yeah,” agreed the kids, about to chomp down on goodies. “Thanks, Phantom!”

“Wait a minute!” I demanded, grabbing the plate. “You can’t be too careful nowadays.” I examined the treats: candy, two Halloween trinkets… and fresh-baked cookies.

Aha! Didi was baking today. Darn her and her cookies. No Chips Ahoy for that woman–she’s got to show us all up with authentic Tollhouse.

“Mom, let’s Phantom somebody tonight!”

“Yeah, Mom!”

“Not tonight,” I begged. “And instead of candy, let’s bake something.” Why ruin my neighborhood goody-giving reputation with some cheap Tootsie Rolls?

The next night the doorbell rang and a chill ran down my spine. I’d forgotten to bake cookies!

Even worse, I’d forgotten to put up the Phantom equivalent of a garlic wreath. Without the friendly ghost picture taped to our door, we were sitting ducks for more Phantoming.

“Hooray!” shouted the boys from the front door. “We were Phantomed again!”

“It’s not fair!” I cried out to the darkness. “We were already Phantomed! Take it back!”

A gleeful voice answered, its owner and her kids running away in the night: “Too bad! You shoulda put up the picture! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Now we hafta do FOUR Phantoms!” crowed the oldest, giving his brother a high-five.

Darn! By now the entire neighborhood would be Phantomed. In fact, the odds of us finding an un-Phantomed door were decreasing rapidly, and we needed four. We’d be driving for miles.

Hubby watched us as we searched for the tape to put up the ghost picture.

“You know,” he said finally, “this Phantom is really a pyramid scheme.”

I was in a foul mood. “Tell me about it!”

But he was speaking to the boys. “Ultimately, people will run out of doors without Phantom pictures on it, and then what will everybody do?”

News of this impending tragedy left our boys gulping in sympathy.

“But if we don’t tape that picture to our door, not only will we protect our wood finish, we’ll provide a place for desperate people to Phantom! Why, it’d be like offering a needed

Then Hubby frowned. “The only problem is,” he said sadly–as if the boys would be upset to hear this part, “that you’d get lots of treats.”

Their eyes widened. “But the curse! We’ll get warts!”

“You won’t! And boys, if you really want to help people, don’t Phantom anyone else. You’ll free up even more doors.”

Under his breath he added, “and we won’t be guilty of extortion.”

The man was brilliant.

“Well!” I said happily. “What will it be? Providing aid to our neighbors and raking in the treats? Or living in fear of a silly warts curse?”

Somehow I just knew what their answer would be.

Besides, I also knew where to buy Compound W.

Mr. Beefcakes Goes for the Burn

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  And sometimes a fancy workout machine is really just an oversized clothes hanger.  At least, that’s what I insisted as an employee from Scratch and Dent Fitness installed one slightly used Hoist 200 into our kitchen/family room.

I’m a fitness videotape kind of gal.  So was Hubby, until a few Hoist brochures revealed this gender blunder to him.

“Come on,” I said. “One reason we bought this house was because it had a walk-in closet. How much more clothes space do you need?”

“I’m gonna WORK OUT with it. End of discussion,” he said.

Two months later and he still hadn’t draped a pair of pants over it. When Didi came over to borrow some butter she caught him pulling down on the lat bar.

“Whoo-eee!” she squealed.

My head popped out of our refrigerator. “What?”

“Look at him! He’s working out!”

Hubby perked up when he heard this. He flexed coyly, a religious experience for Didi.

“OH MY GAWD!” she cried. “Look at those MUSCLES!”

I looked. He did seem kind of brawny in his sleeveless tee and shorts, and if he made one more pose I was going to have to throw a bucket of water over Didi.

Word travels fast in our little cul-de-sac. It wasn’t too long before my workout buddy Rita was itching to get some pointers from my newly buff husband. In a moment of temporary insanity I mentioned this to him.

“Great!” he said enthusiastically. “I’ll have both of you in peak form in no time.”

That night Rita and I stretched on beach towels in the kitchen/family room while he gave us a Navy Seals pep talk. He used sound bites like “terrify your muscles into submission,” and “forced to the end of your limits.”

I rolled my eyes like a punk in detention and glanced at Rita.  She was practically eating out of the palm of his leather weight-lifting glove.

I reconsidered. Hubby did have some incredible muscles. Should I dismiss this fitness visionary merely because I was married to him?

“Okay,” I said. “What do I have to do?”

He handed me a 40-pound dumbbell for some lat row exercises. Until then I’d managed to do lat rows with 15-pounders… and thought I was hot stuff doing it.

“No way,” I protested.

“Just do it,” he said.

I tried to pull the weight up but it wouldn’t budge. I peeked at Rita. Grimacing, she pulled hard on hers. It rested on the carpet, undisturbed.

Hubby winced.

Shaking his head, he brought us down to 35, and then 30 pounds. Finally, he said if we went any lower than 25 pounds we’d shame all of womankind. I pulled with all my strength but my elbow couldn’t make it past my back.

“Rita,” I grunted, “I’m seriously hating your guts right now.”

Hearing this, Rita hauled elbow on her dumbbell and managed to lift it. Not to be outdone, I doubled my efforts. The dumbbell inched upward. Soon we were sweating and snorting like pigs.

I suddenly remembered how much I disliked Hubby as my labor and delivery coach. Halfway through, he had dumped the Lamaze script to quote instead from Diatribes by Pat Riley.

“Work through the pain!” he had urged. “Rise above it! Use it! Stomp it! Mangle it!”

Somehow I made it through childbirth. But this Workout from Hell was going to kill me. How could I escape?  Probably I’d have to knock Hubby out–with one of the dumbbells I could lift over my head, a 12-pounder, maybe. It would be hard, though, unless Rita helped.

A cigar may be just a cigar, I thought while plotting my retreat, but the fitness visionary in my kitchen/family room was really just a frustrated Lakers coach with good muscle definition.