The spirit is willing, but the recall is weak

We’re supposed to be filling out the school registration packets. We got them weeks ago and—surprise! They’re due tomorrow!

In my defense, I blame this situation on our long-standing family policy regarding To Do items, namely, “If it isn’t on fire, bleeding profusely, or emptying its body cavities on the rug, it can wait.”

And yet despite our impending deadline, the boys keep getting distracted.

TIGER: Ha! Your Zombie Outbreak Survival Club is on the school’s list of student organizations!


TIGER: Are you going to be a member this year?

SQUIRT: Nah. There’s not much more you can do with it. I mean, we’ve already watched all the movies. What else is there to learn?

If it came down to choosing between fighting zombies or filling out paperwork, I’d think I’d pick the undead.

In fact, I panicked when I remembered these registration packets, but then I realized that if my kids are old enough to order a Double-Double all by themselves, then they’re certainly old enough to help me fill out school paperwork—or at the very least buy me a chocolate shake.

Besides, the way my brain’s been working lately, I need all the help I can get.

BONNIE: (waving a release form) You call this completed? Hel-LO! Name? Address? Do you even know what your address is, Squ— I mean, Hub— I mean, Moj… WHOEVER YOU ARE!

TIGER: (raises one eyebrow) “Whoever you are?” (takes paper) Just for that, dear Mother, I’m putting my address down as living across the street. At least THEY know who I am.

Theoretically, there’s no reason the boys can’t fill everything out. Theoretically, all I should have to do is sign my name in the spaces marked “Parent Signature.”

Unfortunately, the gap between theory and practical application is huge—especially when one member of your team tosses aside the “Student Code of Conduct” in order to reenact the shower scene from Psycho with his pen.


TIGER: (calmly) Mom.

BONNIE: (not so calmly) Tig— I mean, Hub— I mean, Moj— I mean… (waves at Squirt)

TIGER: (leans over and whispers) “Squirt.”


Now, maybe my brain isn’t what it used to be, but even in its prime it never ran at the high production level exhibited by Squirt’s intestinal tract.

SQUIRT: (primly) I must go to the bathroom. (puts down Psycho pen and leaves)

BONNIE: Figures! Whenever there’s any work to be done! (calls after him) And don’t use my bathroom!

(Bonnie and Tiger look at each other.)

TIGER: You must forgive him, Mom. It was… his bulging colon.


TIGER: (warming up) It was controlling him.


TIGER: (intoning) It was BULGING to EXTREME limits. It was his COLON’S fault.

BONNIE: Heh! “Colon Boy.”

TIGER: That’s the spirit. And frankly, it’ll be easier to remember than “Squirt.”

No, my name’s not Mary

My boys like to play little tricks on me with my cell phone. For example, they’ll change the the ring tones without telling me.

CLERK: Who’s next?

BONNIE: (points) That gal, over there.

(A tinny version of “When the Saints Come Marching In” starts to play. It goes on. And on.)

BONNIE: (amused) Excuse me, ma’am, but is that your phone? No? (a little louder) Somebody’s phone! It’s ringing!

(The other customers look at their phones, and then at Bonnie)

BONNIE: Hunh? Oh! (grabs her phone) Heh! Sorry. My boys. Changed the ringer thingy! I keep telling them not to… Ahem.

Their favorite trick, though, is to change their phone number IDs. Right now, when Squirt calls me his caller ID shows up as “Santa Claus.” Tiger, however, prefers an ID with a little more authority.

CHECKOUT CLERK: That’ll be $158.86. On the credit card?

BONNIE: Yes, thank—


BONNIE: Sorry! (fumbles for the phone) Normally I wouldn’t answer in the middle of a transaction, but he never calls me unless it’s something important.

CHECKOUT CLERK: Yes, that’s what I’ve heard.

BONNIE: No, uh, heh! You don’t understand. It’s my son.


BONNIE: (into the phone) You and I are going to have a big talk when I get home, young man!

Should auld acquaintance write in yearbooks?

I did not allow myself to procrastinate today. I can’t! I’ve got this gosh-awful snack bar breathing down my neck. It’s like having an appointment with the guillotine, but much more scary and painful.

Well, I do admit to spending some time looking through Squirt’s yearbook. It was the first time I’ve had a chance since they came out last week.

In fact, I’ve got Squirt’s in front of me right now. Let’s peek inside:

Squirt: DIE. Love, Betty


See you Mister Zombie Boy… Leah

Squirt, I want you to know the 5 minutes I’ve known you were the best of my life. Greg

Great thinkers, all.

This inspired me to check out my old yearbook, to see what bon mots I’ve forgotten.

Bonnie… Get a tan! Love, Alison

God bless the guy who invented self-tanner, that’s all I can say.

Maybe Hubby’s yearbook will be more interesting:

Wren: It was fun in Electronics this year. Don’t ever cut my belt loop again. Terry.

Ho hum, more of the same. No! Wait a minute… What’s this?

Wren: I sure wish I had as many girlfriends as you have had. You’re a big “Latin Lover”. They flock around you. Later, gater! –Joe

I had to learn more about this interesting tidbit from Hubby’s past! A past which has so far eluded me I might add, despite my best investigative efforts.

BONNIE: Hubby, sweetie, read this.

(Hubby reads, then chuckles)

BONNIE: So, exactly how many girlfriends did you have in high school? It must’ve been a lot! C’mon, you can tell me!

HUBBY: (shrugs) I dunno. I forget.

The booger.

Teenager Thought for the Day: watch out for those noodles

TIGER: You want to die in your sleep? That’s stupid. I want to go with a bang. I mean seriously, when you’re in heaven and someone’s like, how did you die, and you’re like, I died in my sleep—that’s so lame.

I plan not to die, or to die in an accident involving noodles. I mean, how cool would that be?

Noodles, man. That’s the way to go.

The things you miss when you’re watching the road

We’re on our way home from school, “we” being me, Squirt, and his bud Eddy.

SQUIRT: (pressing his face against the car window) Is anybody there right now?

EDDY: No… Oh, wait! Aw. False alarm.

SQUIRT: (disappointed) Aw.

You might think they’re hoping to see a friend, or a cute girl, or a burglary in progress, or maybe even a clown who just happens to be juggling swords of flame while balancing on a unicycle as we drive by.

Nope. You’d be wrong.

What these two fine examples of American youth are hoping to witness is… another act of public urination.

About a month ago they saw one guy relieving himself on the sidewalk, and the hilarity of it carried them through a whole week of carpooling.

Now they examine the same spot every day as we drive by, searching for The Peeing Man (or a reasonable facsimile thereof). Failing to catch anyone else in the act, they are stuck with reminiscing.

SQUIRT: That was the funniest thing. Ever. Ha, ha, ha! I was just looking out the window…

EDDY: Oh, my god, I laughed so hard! Ha, ha, ha! Me, too! Looking out the window!

SQUIRT: I thought he was just standing there, waiting for a bus or something… and then… HA, HA, HA!

EDDY: We see the stream! HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!

Maybe I’d be laughing, too, if I’d seen it for myself. But somehow I doubt it.

A handy “how to” guide for dealing with the pesky undead

This party is over a month away and yet Squirt—the kid who won’t work on a term paper unless it’s due within 24 hours—has already spent hours planning.

SQUIRT: Mom, we’re supposed to bring an unwrapped book, music CD or movie DVD.

BONNIE: So what do you want to bring?

SQUIRT: Well, I thought it over and decided on a book: The Zombie Survival Guide.

BONNIE: I’m not too sure tha—

SQUIRT: I almost went with Gaiman’s Coraline, because, well, it really IS a good book. But you just can’t beat The Zombie Survival Guide for usefulness and practicality.

This is SO unfair

SQUIRT: Face it, Mom: rap is the new rock.

BONNIE: But it’s not like rock at all! It glorifies violence, sexism, homophobia, and racism! In the sixties and seventies rock wasn’t any of those things. Rock was openminded. Rock was good.

SQUIRT: Yeah, Mom. You sound like Grandpa in 1964, trying to explain to Aunt Kat how come the Beatles weren’t playing “real” music.

BONNIE: I’m not saying rap isn’t music. I’m just saying I hope it isn’t “the new rock” because the message is so nasty.

SQUIRT: Yup. Just like Grandpa. I bet he didn’t like Elvis, either.

Case study: responses to audio stimulation

THE SCENE: Stuck in the van, northbound I-5, late afternoon.

THE AUDIOBOOK: Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, by Julie Kenner, which so far had seemed pretty tame. Not likely to contain any of those scenes I couldn’t listen to with my boys in the car. You know—THOSE kinds of scenes.

PROTAGONIST: But my old life kept peeking in, and I was so afraid that Stuart would look at me one morning and catch a glimpse of my secret. Or worse, that one morning he’d wake up and catch a glimpse of a demon.

SQUIRT: (perks up) Demons? Maybe this isn’t such a dumb story after all.

BONNIE: (to driver of Honda) Just a minute, hon, while I figure out what this STUPID GUY IN THAT HONDA IS DOING!

PROTAGONIST: … I twisted in his arms and kissed him, hard at first, and then softer…

SQUIRT: (nervously) Mom!

BONNIE: (the Honda driver isn’t listening) What a NOODLE. Why is he STOPPING on the freeway? IS HE DIALING SOMEBODY?

PROTAGONIST: …until I felt him relax under me and open his mouth to mine…


BONNIE: Oh, ho! He’s PICKING HIS NOSE! Mr. Booger!

PROTAGONIST: … His hands tightened around me, and he pulled me close. I wanted to be even closer…


BONNIE: What? Oh! Ooops! Sorry!

(she looks at Squirt, who is clinging to the passenger-side window)

You okay?

SQUIRT: (anguished) MOM! How could you?

Now let us compare and contrast the above with the following:

THE SCENE: Stuck in the van, northbound I-5, late afternoon, the very next day.

THE AUDIOBOOK: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, by Harlan Ellison. My only previous experience with Harlan Ellison was “The City on the Edge of Forever,” an episode in the original Star Trek series which I thought was way cool.

Turns out Mr. Ellison was holding back when he wrote that episode. Little did I know that his normal output might best be classified in that genre known as “Chock Full of THOSE Kinds of Scenes.”

HARLAN ELLISON: I loved My Aunt Babe for 3 reasons. The first was that even though I was only 10 or 11, she flirted with me as she did with any male of any age who was lucky enough to pass through the heat of her line of sight.

BONNIE: Hmmm! (punches PAUSE button) Maybe I should preview this one first.

SQUIRT: Hey, Mom! I’m listening to it!

BONNIE: You are? Well, okay. I mean, Ellison wrote that “City on the Edge of Forever” Star Trek episode, so he’s probably okay. (punches PLAY button)

HARLAN ELLISON: The second was her breasts!

BONNIE: (punches PAUSE button) Maybe not okay!

SQUIRT: Don’t stop it! This one sounds a lot better than that Carpe Demon crap.

BONNIE: I think this just might be a little too adult for you, young man. Star Trek notwithstanding.

SQUIRT: Mom. I’m FIFTEEN. I hear lots worse at school.

BONNIE: Yes. Well. Doesn’t mean you’ll be hearing it in my van. But still… Harlan Ellison IS considered one of the science fiction biggies, so… (punches PLAY button)

HARLAN ELLISON: The second was her breasts! I knew them as “titties”!

BONNIE:(punches PAUSE button) That’ll be enough of that, MISTER Ellison!


Frankly, I don’t think the boys and I will ever be able to listen together to THOSE kinds of scenes, even after they hit 18.

Maybe when they’re lots older, like in their forties. And married. With three kids apiece.


My son, the spoon

Be Our Guest!
Blurry picture courtesy of the “no flash photography allowed” rule. Tiger is stage right, second spoon from the left.

WOMAN: My son appears in several of the skits tonight.

BONNIE: How nice!

WOMAN: Do you have a child in the show?

BONNIE: Yes. My son.

WOMAN: And what is he doing?

BONNIE: He’s, um, playing a … (coughs) … a …spoon.

WOMAN: He’s playing a tune?

BONNIE: He’s playing a spoon! A spoon! There! I said it! My SON IS A SPOON.

Actually, I made up this scene. In reality I am quite proud of my son. The spoon.

As a matter of fact, I can honestly say without any parental bias whatsoever that my son is not only a spoon, but he is an extremely HANDSOME and TALENTED spoon. Possibly the most handsome and talented spoon on stage last night, thank you very much.

And as long as we’re on this subject, I might as well add that I’ve never seen another spoon sing or dance so entertainingly in my entire life, and I grew up in the 60s and 70s.

But who would expect Tiger’s experience as a spoon to reveal the sad reality of cutlery inequality in America today? Who knew the injustice against spoons could be so blatant?

COSTUME MANAGER: Listen up! Pants will set you back $15, but shorts only cost $13.

TIGER: But those shorts… are too short! We won’t look like real spoons in shorts!

MIKE, FELLOW SPOON: Especially in those shorts. Money is no object. Give us the pants.

(several days later)

Picture of boy dressed as fork
You may see a boy dressed as a fork, but I see an example of the anti-spoonism that rages across America today.

COSTUME MANAGER: Okay, guys, I saved us all a little money! (to the forks) Here are your pants.

FORKS: Yaay!

COSTUME MANAGER: (to the spoons) Here are your shorts.

TIGER: What!

MIKE: The forks get pants and we don’t?

TIGER: But we paid for pants!

COSTUME MANAGER: It was cheaper.

MIKE: What did you do… go to lunch on our pants?

I have half a mind to go to that school and challenge this flatware injustice entrenched in our educational system RIGHT NOW.