You know how some women complain of Dummy Mummy syndrome when they’re pregnant? When they can’t remember/find/accomplish much of anything because most of their brain power is being siphoned by a 3-ounce fetus? I suffer from a particularly virulent strain of Dummy Mummy that has lasted well past gestation, through toddlerhood, and appears to be settling in for my children’s tween years.
I can lose my keys when I’m holding them in my hand. I once put a package of mushrooms away in the dryer. My kids play Let’s Find Mommy’s Glasses on a daily basis and, more often than not, they are found on my head. My point being, I’m often operating at a level that would suggest I not operate heavy machinery.
A few years ago I was driving my son to school—stuck behind a school bus going the speed limit—and we passed a speed trap. I slapped on a mental post-it to slow down on the way home and promptly forgot all about it. Ten minutes later I blew past the police car going 45 kilometres per hour over the speed limit (29 miles per hour for you non-metric types).
The officer who pulled me over was not impressed with my Daisy Duke driving demonstration. He was even less amused when I couldn’t find my registration. After spending ten minutes in his cruiser, the officer came back and informed me that not only was I speeding and lacking proper registration, but my driver’s license had also expired. Sixteen months earlier.
At that moment I did what women (and more than a few men) have done in my situation since the first Model A Ford rolled off the assembly line: I cried.
Through my tears I explained that when the license had expired I was pregnant and on sick leave with pneumonia, impetigo (!), pink eye, strep throat and a host of other maladies, leaving me barely able to stand, let alone take notice of a renewal notice.
The policeman told me that by law he should confiscate my car on the spot and release it only when my paperwork was in order. Then he glanced in the backseat at my sleeping nine-month-old daughter, and at me with my uncombed hair and stained pajama top, and he took pity on me.
The speeding ticket was reduced from $250 and four demerit points to $70 and no demerits. Driving without registration was going to cost me a whopping $600, but he advised me to fight the fine with my medical records in court. Since I’d been stopped only a few blocks from where I lived, the officer followed me home (rather than impounding my car) after I promised to get new registration that day.
A few weeks later I showed up in court and faced the judge. With one smack of the gavel my charges were dropped. Lesson learned: if you get stopped by a cop, try crying. If that doesn’t work, blame your spawn. If all else fails, throw your undies. As a last resort, put the three together. Game, set and match.
Now this is my kind of speed trap.
Like Kim Kardashian and turtlenecks, technology and I do not mix.
I don’t get TIVO, literally or figuratively, but I use my VCR several times a week (fun fact: I still have The Bachelor’s Andrew Firestone proposing on one of my tapes). I had an answering machine until last year, when my phone company informed me I’d be getting voice-mail and call-waiting whether I liked it or not. My 89-year-old grandma had to bully me into joining her on Facebook and I was on Twitter for a month before I dared to tweet.
My home life isn’t the only casualty of my technical no-how. Before getting knocked up nine years ago, I worked for a huge telecom company as an account director for their eBusiness clients. The day I was offered the position, I ran (no joke: I got shin splints) to a bookstore and bought Internet for Dummies, however…it did not help.
I muddled along for a year channeling Amanda Woodward* while spouting terms like “Portal” and “UNIX” but I was a disaster. Getting my husband drunk (and getting myself pregnant) was my only way out that mess.
Now I stay home with my kids and write fiction, but I don’t understand how Kindle works—can I order a book to read online if I don’t have a Kindle? Who’s keeping track of all these eBooks? Where’s the *&$#* library?!?
Google Connect is on my blog because it’s on every other blog, but I have no clue what Google Connect really does. (p.s. to the twelve of you who’ve joined? Thank you for justifying the three days it took me to get it on there.) As for this Google+ hullaballoo: is it even a real thing? Do I need it? Why is Google trying to take over my life?
Two years ago I got an iPod from my justifiably appalled sister and it took me six months to figure out iTunes and how to upload (download?) music. It’s not like I’ve simply fallen behind in recent years: I missed the entire CD Man trend in the 90s because I was loyal to my Walkman.
Also? I’m a fossil.
*For those of you unfamiliar with the deliciously malicious Ms. Woodward, first of all: how dare you! Secondly, sit back, relax, and learn from the master:
It was a bleak Saturday afternoon many years ago. My brother-from-another-mother (we’ll call him Ho Boy) was despondent because the most recent lust of his life had jilted him. On his birthday.
I’d already bought tickets for us to attend Tony & Tina’s wedding* that night, but HB was not in the mood for a party. That’s how I knew things were bad: HB usually was the party. He was a former army engineer studying to be an ER doctor who served as a big brother to kids with special needs and acted in murder mysteries on the side.
We’d met in a university ballroom dance class and became fast (and platonic) friends. At our end-of-session shindig, we ditched the dancing to play darts in a pub across the street, where we proceeded to convince the patrons that we were brother-and-sister Latin dance champions with a background in porn. Obviously, this Tony & Tina thing was just what HB needed to wash that skank right outta his hair.
After a few hours of cajoling and a vat of wine, HB agreed to go with me to the “wedding” on one condition: we couldn’t just dress like the other guests in everyday wedding finery. We would have to wear costumes and improvise characters as though we were part of the show. I swallowed my wine, along with my dignity, and agreed to his terms.
Raiding my mom’s closest, I came up with a dress that would’ve made Rhoda Morgenstern proud and stuffed my bra enough to make Dolly Parton blush. HB threw together a few mismatched pieces, topped it with a cowboy hat, and we were good to go.
At the church, other guests nudged each other as we sauntered to our seats. HB greeted everyone like long-lost friends. For some unknown reason we adopted southern twangs, despite the Italian-New York backdrop. He introduced himself as Buford, a Zamboni** driver, and me as his wife, Bunny, a Mary Kay beauty consultant.
The cast didn’t know what to make of us but once they realized that we were there to enhance the guests’ experience rather than disrupt it, they brought us into the action. The night was a blur and a blast. As they say in the biz, we killed. Other audience members assumed we were part of the cast and by the end of it, we felt like we were, too.
Not only did I give HB one of his favorite birthday presents, he gave me the confidence to give acting a try—which led to me dancing on stage in fishnets less than a year later. And for that, dearest Ho Boy, the Serb thanks you.
*An interactive and improvised play where audience members “attend” a faux-Italian wedding.
**The ice tractor you see on the rink at hockey games. Why someone with an accent from Georgia would be driving a Zamboni, I do not know.
A match made in Value Village clearance bin Heaven.
When it comes to camping, my motto is, “5-star or No-star”—which essentially means I don’t camp. As a kid, my family and I camped our asses off. Every weekend from May through September we were parked in a trailer (or in a tent when I was really young, but I’ve repressed those memories).
Many of these trips were fantastic, especially if our campground had a pool or was near a beach. Unfortunately, this rarely happened. My parents were purists when it came to outdoor pursuits and we were often stuck in the sticks with nothing but dormant train tracks and a backgammon board to amuse us.*
As an adult I tried dating outdoorsy guys—I did live in the Rocky Mountains after all—but they inevitably wanted to go mountain biking or cross-country skiing or camping. It’s not that I can’t do these things; it’s that I would rather not. I can be a total Sporty Spice, as long as it involves water sports or intermittent snacking (thus, windsurfing+slurpee=heaven).
Part of what drew me to the Serb was our shared disdain for outdoor adventures. One of our first dates involved watching The Amazing Race while scarfing DQ Blizzards and yelling at the slow competitors.
After one tenting trip as a family, I made a crucial discovery: moms do all of the work. It’s like being a pioneer woman, what with the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and the lack of flush toilets. This didn’t matter when I was the kid camping with my mom. But now that I’m the mom? It kinda sucks balls.
Thankfully, the Serb’s fascination with the great outdoors can be foisted upon shared with our eight-year-old son. This past weekend they went camping while the girl and I stayed home. I left the planning and packing up to the Serb because he waits too long to do it and if I followed his lead, we would be divorced by Monday.
The night before they left he dropped a hundred bucks on gear. The morning they left he spent two hundred more on food and “a bit of beer.”
Here are the results…
This is for two nights, people.
He assured me that other stuff was in there.
I’m not convinced.
Suitcase, complete with fancy ribbon to distinguish it from
all the other suitcases at the campground.
Cookies? Check. Wine? Check. Marshmallows? Check. Chips?
Check. High probability of barfing? Check and check.
I’m assuming a park ranger will be maced at some point.
The gear included (but was not limited to): battery-operated fan, 3 flashlights, flint, matches, lighter, portable DVD player, walkie talkies, mini stove, mini bbq, 4 tarps, 3 jugs of water, frying pan, frying pan with grill markings, electric pump (for the air mattress), pillows(!), and 87 bungee cords. If I hadn’t put my foot down on buying the solar-powered shower, they would have needed a U-Haul.
If Survivor Man went to Club Med, he would be my husband.
*My folks eventually saw the light, ditched the camper and bought a timeshare. Just in time for my sister and I to move out of the house.