It takes pain to be beautiful –Judy Simons.

In addition to being my mom’s best friend, Miss Judy was a hairdresser in Elizabeth City. She was responsible for maintaining my mom’s status as a blonde beehived bombshell.  I also went to her for haircuts.


Is it Mom or Marilyn Monroe?  I can’t tell.

She was the instrument of the pain of which she spoke.  It was delivered in the form of less than gentle attempts to comb out the snarls from my tresses.  She was rough, and I was a big, tender-headed crybaby.  We were a match made in irony heaven.

My whole life I dreamed of the glorious day when I was old enough to have a say in my own hairstyle.  I was at the mercy of my mother’s aesthetic, and her view of an appropriate cut for a little girl.


Do you see the look on my face?  I HATED my hair.

In kindergarten, she made me get a pixie.  I hated it.  It’s been close to fifty years, and I still harbor a little hostility about it.  But Twiggy and Mia Farrow were huge in the late sixties, so I sat in an adjustable chair and forlornly watched as almost all the hair was rudely amputated from my head.

Have I mention I hated it?

So finally, one day I was allowed to choose my own hairstyle.

I wanted the groovy cut that Carol Brady had.  Miss Judy gave me a perfect rendition. After I was given control, my hair was nothing special, long, with bangs and a ponytail, little girl hair.

Until the eighties happened.

I was a big fan of tough rocker chick, Joan Jett.  She was cool and brave and didn’t care what anybody thought.  And one of the coolest things about her was her hair.  She had a shaggy, shoulder-length do with bangs.  I got a picture of her and headed down to my local hair cuttery (Miss Judy was no longer an option).I loved it and decided that this would be my look when I married Petey in a few months’ time.  Unfortunately, not long before the wedding, the woman who cut it moved.  I found someone new and made an appointment for a prenuptial trim of my beloved Joan Jett.  She took one look and asked me two questions.

“So, did you do this to yourself?  And how do you want me to fix it?”Sadly though, that mop top I sported was the gateway cut to all sorts of disastrous coiffures.

It was so huge it looked like I styled it with a bicycle pump and shellac.  For a short time in the mid-eighties, my hair was assigned its own zip code.  My daily spraying habit was probably responsible for the disappearance of a dinner plate-sized piece of the ozone layer.

My Big Hair

And this is as sexy as it got for me, folks.

It was spiked.  With a half-cup or so of a gel/epoxy hybrid, I could conjure spikes on my head that were awe-inspiring.  They stood proudly at attention, stiff and sharp enough to make a porcupine weep with envy.

It was asymmetrical.  One side looked like the first day of school haircut of a thirteen-year-old boy.  The other side was a rigid bob, the likes of which you’ve probably seen on the head of the woman staffing your bank’s drive through window.

And, it was dyed.  For a while, it was the color of black cherry jello.  Petey wasn’t a fan.  He complained, “When I married you, you had brown hair.”

After the great pixie battle of 1969, I wasn’t having it.  He, nor anyone else was the boss of my hair. “Oh yeah?  Well when I married you, you had more hair!”

Thanks for your time.

Rocket Ma’am

I was never a very strict mom.

I really had only two ironclad, non-negotiable rules.

The first was to treat everybody with kindness and respect.  I mean, that’s something we all should do, right?

My second decree concerned pets.

We’re big dog people, but no cats; I cannot abide the unsavory aroma and image of a litter box.  No reptiles; snakes and their ilk creep me out.  And no rodents; they’re rodents for cripe’s sake.

You see, get just one snake, and before you know it Kenan Thompson is wearing ugly jewelry and getting molested by the damn things.

The Kid looked at the options left, and asked for hermit crabs.

So, we headed down to the pet store and procured two hermit crabs, which were baptized, Abbot and Costello.

They might be completely lacking in the sit, roll over, and cuddle departments, but they are exceedingly low maintenance.  They need less care than a gold fish and just a smidge more than a pet rock.Not long after Abbot and Costello celebrated their two-year anniversary at Chez Matthews, my parents went out to Seattle to visit my big brother Homer, and took The Kid along.

Like we’d done a few times before, Petey and I were on “Hermie” duty.

When our child returned we had a tragic surprise.  A&C were dead.  I thought Petey was feeding and watering, and he thought I was.  There were no tears, or recriminations, but The Kid was sad and angry.

I felt worse than awful.  I don’t know what kind of cognitive or reasoning ability hermit crabs possess, but I couldn’t stop thinking about those poor crustaceans’ slow deaths.  In my mind they wondered what happened and why their human stopped taking care of them.  I wasn’t sure whether they died of thirst and starvation or broken hearts.The Kid asked if we would assist in a funeral.  It was the least we could do, and maybe, somehow it would help to assuage our guilt.

Since burial, not cremation was requested, we found a small, pretty box, and lined it with a soft piece of fabric.  I grabbed our old, beat up 5-foot spade and volunteered for grave digger duty.

I set to work, but it wasn’t easy.  I only needed to dig down about eighteen inches, but it was late in a rather dry summer and the ground was like concrete.  I struggled and sweated, but didn’t accomplish much.After about ten minutes of getting nowhere, I decided to take a different route.  Instead of using one foot to push the spade into the ground, I’d jump onto it with both feet.  I judged that the force and the weight of the maneuver would drive it deep into the ground, and facilitate the creation of a hole.

I took a deep breath and leapt like Michael Jordan.

And the handle broke.

And I went flying through the air like a half-baked human cannonball. I landed on all fours about eight feet away from the gravesite.  When I had collected myself enough to be aware of my surroundings, I looked to see if anyone had seen my mortifying acrobatics.

Petey and The Kid were a couple feet away, laughing so hard they were leaning on each other to stay upright.

Nothing could bring back Abbot and Costello, but at the sight of my antics, The Kid’s pain was lessoned some.

As for me, my guilt didn’t really decrease.  But because the pain of my battered body, skinned knees, elbows and hands were so much worse, it kinda felt like it had.tractionThanks for your time.

Drop debbie a line with a suggestion for the next end-of-month column, or anything else at,

Honeymoon Home on Wheels

Last Sunday was my 34th anniversary.When we got married, I was 19, but looking back, I was an infant—if The Kid had shown up, talking about marriage at that age, I would have put that child into protective custody in a fortress high in the Himalayas, like Shangri-La in that movie Lost Horizons.

But my parents bought into recognizing their children’s free will way more than I as a parent now think prudent, so, Petey and I plighted our troths, hitched our ponies, and set up housekeeping.

That house was a 12X60 mobile home with no A.C.It’s a testament to how literally crazy in love we were that it never occurred to us how very, very hot and intolerable it would get, and how very, very, cranky and intolerable I would get from said heat.

About a week after we got home from our honeymoon, I cheerfully informed my new husband that I was going to my parent’s house and their central air.  I would return when there was a functioning cooling system in our home.  Cold hearted?  Maybe so, but that ultimatum saved our marriage, and probably Petey’s life.

That same day an air conditioner was procured and installed.  Crisis and lurid murder-suicide averted.

I wanted some of the corn that was growing next to our trailer, and decided that I could only acquire it through a midnight commando raid.So, on a moonless night, dressed in black from head to toe like a cat burglar, I pilfered two ears of corn.  The entire time Petey looked on, enjoying his very own, private life-action slapstick comedy.

I’d never lived out in the country before.

Our first winter, we got a crash course on country life.

When the corn was harvested, all the mice living in the field needed a place to stay for the winter.

They chose us.

Unfortunately, it was not this adorable…

I begged Petey to save us from the invasion.  His answer was rodenticide.  I didn’t know what it was or how it worked.  Its an anticoagulant, meaning the mice died by bleeding to death.  Which they decided to do in my underwear drawer.

A few months later I had another unpleasant brush with nature.

Petey had had an overnight shift at the hospital so I was alone in the love shack.  In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a noise from the kitchen. Under the sink something or someone was trying to get in.  It sounded like they were trying to dig through the floor with a file, or teeth, or claws.  I jumped up and down and yelled for it to go away.  The scratching ceased—for about 90 seconds.

I spent the rest of that night on the kitchen floor, pounding and yelling every time the attempted invasion commenced.  When Petey got home about 8AM, I was hoarse, exhausted, and furious.

He broke out some more of the poison, which put an end to the nocturnal raids.

Bigger than a Volkswagon, it was.

A few days later we found the body.  It was the biggest muskrat that ever lived.  Wikipedia says the top weight of the Ondatra zibethicus is 68 ounces.  My midnight marauder weighed at least eighty or ninety pounds.

Despite the Rodentia mass slaying and the contemplated heat-induced mayhem, we survived our three years in the country and thirty-one more.

And, it’s taken me a while, but I’ve grown more mature.

Here it is August, and it’s been at least a week since I fantasized about killing anybody.

Thanks for your time.

Don’t forget to drop debbie a line with ideas for the end-of-month column.  


Retail Adventures In The A.M.

This essay is the first one inspired by a reader’s suggestion.  Each month’s final column will be the result of an idea generated by you, Gentle Reader. In the summer I have a loathing of venturing out in the middle of the day.  I am also an unrepentant night owl.

Luckily we live where there are a variety of merchants which are open all night.

Shopping after hours, there is an abundance of weird, with a large measure contributed by me, as illustrated by the following tales.

The Kid went to an arts high school.  The theater department happily accepted donations of clothes and props.  One day they received a trunk full of vintage clothing and hats.  The drama students spent the rest of that Friday afternoon playing a teenage version of dress up.Later that night I was downstairs watching TV and my child called downstairs to me.

“…um…could you come upstairs for a minute please…?”

I met The Kid at the bathroom sink, peering closely into the mirror in a manner which Queen Maleficent might find familiar.  “I think I might have…lice.”  Then I was shown a couple tiny creatures, and upon close scalp inspection, I noticed a couple similar things.

Whenever I am faced with upsetting facts, my mind tries to subvert reality.  My brain looks at a fact and supplies ten reasons why it’s not true.  I fold, spindle, and mutilate the truth so aggressively I resemble Bagdad Bob feverishly tap dancing at the podium, working to convince the world that Saddam is a brilliant strategist who makes infidels tremble at the thought of the punishment he will deliver.So the lice discovery denigrated into The Kid trying to convince me that yes, they were indeed lice, but they were treatable and everything would be okay.  But during the entire 2 AM drive to Kroger I decided we would shave our heads, shave the dog, burn down the house, and start all over again.

The Kid may have been the acting adult in this scenario, lice are still lice, and my baby skulked around Kroger in a baseball cap with a tightly cinched hoody on top.  I was looking to add some accelerant and tinder to our purchase.  We bought the lice remedy, and rushed out with our heads ducked low like a couple of disgraced televangelists.

Once home, I treated the patient, changed bedding and tucked in The Kid.  I went downstairs for some furtive googling and discovered that lice are short lived (as in about 90 minutes) when not on a head.  And they’re species specific, which meant I wouldn’t be stalking our poor dog with a pair of clippers.One summer, The Kid had a friend from out of town staying over.  They planned a road trip for the next day.  Our child came downstairs at about 1:30 AM and asked us if we would make up a couple boxed lunches for them.

I had already filled the fridge with lunch fixings because I anticipated the request.  As I was congratulating myself for my awesome, intuitive parenting, The Kid had an addendum.

“Oh yeah, my buddy won’t eat fried food or cheese, and is afraid of meat.”

Afraid.Of.Meat. So Petey and I made a late night trip to our old friend Kroger.  And there, like a couple movie zombies, wandered around the store looking for inspiration and wondering aloud if soy cheese counted, and what kind of non-frightening condiments were allowed.

We put together what I thought was a pretty tempting repast and sent them off on their trip.  The Kid informed me later that not a bite was eaten from the specially created meal—it looked like it might have some undefined verboten vittles, so was discarded.I never saw said friend again; which was probably a good thing.  The Kid didn’t either; and later told me that the food thing wasn’t her only “quirk”.

One Friday night when Petey was doing an overnight shift at the hospital and The Kid was home from college, we decided to eat out for dinner.

Unfortunately, we were finding it impossible to decide where to go.

As we went through the list of eateries in our area, the clock kept ticking away.  Our deliberations began when Petey had left for work, about 6:30.  Soon, the places that closed early were out of contention.  Then, the joints that close around 10PM fell off the list. Finally, our decision was made for us.  There was only one non-Waffle House restaurant near us that was still open.  Luckily they had a widely varied menu, because we still didn’t know what we were in the mood for.

Finally, around 3:15 in the AM, I was wrapping my lips around the best patty melt I’d ever eaten.

Another time when The Kid was home from school, my child strenuously campaigned to get me to watch the BBC series, Sherlock, but for three months I kept putting it off.

Finally the night before my baby left for school we sat down together to watch season one, which The Kid owned. At the end of three hours, I was a goner.  It was one of the best things I’d ever watched on TV, and I was mildly in love with Sherlock Holmes portrayer, Benedict Cumberbatch.  I asked The Kid to pop in season two, and was horrified to learn that my child did not own it.

Holmes and Watson were facing both Moriarty and a bomb!  I had to know what happened.  It was after 1 AM, but there were stores near us open 24 hours that might have the desired DVD.

Noooo!  Somebody, somewhere has to have it!

We began calling every merchant we could think of and begging for season two.  We came up with nothing.  But…there was one guy, at a Walmart about 30 minutes away that may have misunderstood which DVD we were searching for.  I made the decision to go there and see for myself.

We jumped into the jeep and headed off.  I drove to Raleigh, the whole way working to convince myself that we were not on a fool’s errand, and they had a copy in stock.

At 2 in the morning, there is only one person working in the DVD department.  We had spoken to him on the phone, and he told us they didn’t have it. When we arrived at Walmart, we made a beeline to see for ourselves.

As we were hunting, an associate approached us to see if he could help us find what we were looking for.  It didn’t take long to do the math and figure out that the crazy lady he had recently spoken to on the phone was now standing in front of him, looking for the selfsame show that he had just told us they didn’t carry.  We got to see with our own mortified eyes that it was not there.We did get a small bag of Mickey D’s fries for the long, embarrassed ride home.

You can go many places on the interwebs and see the bizarre that comes out shopping in the middle of the night.  But for me it’s not necessary.

Like those reusable shopping bags we take to the grocery store; in the middle of the night, we bring our own crazy with us from home.Thanks for your time.

Yeah? You Gotta Go Through Me First

This column originally had a different title.  More on that later.

The Kid was raised to have a deep appreciation for Star Trek, cartoons, and cheesy horror movies.

Then due to either nature, nurture, or a combination of both, my child took this inheritance and ran with it.  I in turn, was exposed to Doctor Who, British comedies, and graphic novels (the graphic novels didn’t take—I could never work up any love for them).

Supercon Man.

This past weekend was the Raleigh Supercon; a convention celebrating all of these areas of interest.  The Kid bought a three-day pass and gifted me with one, as well.GhostbustersIn addition to genre specific shopping and perhaps meeting actors from TV and movies, I expected to be surrounded by pasty and pathetic geeks, nerds, and dorks.  I would spend my weekend pointing and laughing.

The reality was a bit different.

We met some celebrities.  Boy, did we meet some celebrities.We met Tony Todd, the actor who had a recurring role playing Worf’s brother Kurn on Star Trek, The Next Generation.  He was so kind and interesting.  We went back to see him today to say thanks and goodbye.  We were rewarded with hugs and a peculiar but brilliant piece of wisdom.  We told him how nice we thought he was and he said, “I don’t understand being ugly to people.  It takes too much time.”

We met LeVar Burton; who was Geordie on STNG, and Brent Spiner; Data.

Mr Burton was very nice and Brent Spiner was friendly, goofy, and charming.  I got a hug, and so did The Kid. We met Michael Rooker, the blue guy from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies and also Grant from the Citizen Kane of horror comedies; Slither.  He’s the fun uncle that lets you drive his truck at age 12, and gives you your first beer at 14.  You’ll come away with epic stories, and maybe a tattoo or two.

On Saturday, we met Alex Kingston.  She is River Song on Doctor Who.  River is fierce, brilliant, loving and dangerous.  River Song is a role mode and the definition of strong, wise, resourceful womanhood.

River Song.

We saw her again Sunday afternoon, fifteen minutes after the announcement of the identity of the actor named as the new doctor.  For the first time ever, it’s a woman: Jodie Whittaker.

The 13th Doctor; Jodie Whittaker.

I was in the restroom, washing my hands, and guess who was at the next sink?

Acting completely out of character, I said hello and walked away.  It’s a strict policy; I do not accost actresses in the bathroom.

But, I was waiting for her outside.  I asked for her reaction to the casting decision.  Her words exactly: “I think it’s great, I’ve worked with her. She’s lovely!”

Empty Astronaut

Creepy, no?  This is a Vashta Nerada From the Doctor Who episode, “The Silent Library”.

Just call me ‘Scoop’ Matthews.

It was an eye-opening weekend.  Every single person, without exception was friendly and thoughtful.

The original title of this essay was, ‘Nerd-con 2017’.

But it and my pre-convention, condescending attitude were wrong.  Yes; when you picture the whole sci-fi scene, certain stereotypes come to mind.  And yes, there is some truth to them.


You might want to look over my left shoulder…Where’s Data!?!  Just over my left shoulder!!!

But then you get to know them and realize they’re so very much more.

They are smart, funny, kind, and deeply protective of one another.

So, all those one-dimensional nerds that were mere comedy fodder didn’t actually exist.  Instead was a building full of friends.  And while we may gently tease each other out of love, we’d better not catch any outsiders being mean. poison ivy‘Cause it ain’t right, and we ain’t having it.


The littlest Doctor.

Thanks for your time.


Love Letter To The Sand

There’s one huge bonus which comes from growing up in a Coast Guard family.Every base where my Dad was stationed was on the water.  I’ve lived on both coasts, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the beautiful Pasquotank river, and Lake Michigan.

When I was 5, we lived in Alabama  The Coast Guard owned cottages on Dauphin Island, approximately 35 miles from our house in Mobile.  We stayed there occasionally on vacation.  But the much more important aquatic story took place in Mobile at the end of our street, at the neighborhood swimming pool.

I think my Coast Guard rescue swimmer father is part otter, so he was the designated swimming pool, river, ocean, overly-filled bathtub, deep-potholes-after-a-heavy-rain parent. Dad and I spent many hours together in the water.

The Ross family, circa 1969, at home in Mobile.  From left; Homer, Blond Bombshell Mom, Bud, Dad, and me.

One day I was bobbing around in the shallow end when I saw a kid younger than me swimming.  I thought to myself, “I’ll bet I could do that.”

And, just like that, I did.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me.  This was a graceless stroke that a drunken penguin might employ.  But I was swimming; and I’d taught myself.  My style could be refined later.Four years later, we were living in Elizabeth City.  My folks sent me to a Girl Scout camp in Virginia.

Yeah, it did.  It totally did.

This was where I got formal swim training.  I became proficient in all the strokes, and a junior life saver.

Later that year we moved to Puerto Rico.  We lived on a military base on the very northwestern corner of the island, thus were surrounded by beaches.  The base also had two Olympic-sized pools.  For three full years, I swam somewhere almost every day.

This is where I learned what an undertow was, and how to deal with it: Don’t fight it-you’ll only exhaust yourself, which is when people drown.  Keep your head up and tread water until you come out the other side, then swim to shore—you’ll know when you’re out.

I was best friends with Kitty Murphy. We were inseparable, and became honorary members of each other’s families.

Lighthouse Beach at Punta Borinquen, in Puerto Rico.  The spot where I learned all about flushing.

Very often I would tumble into the car with the rest of the Murphy kids for trips to the beach.  I learned how to body surf, and learned the definition of an ocean related phenomenon: being flushed.

A truly unpleasant and unnerving experience, flushing is when one is caught up in a breaking wave and held underwater while the ocean spins you like a Maytag washer.  It’s an occasional, unavoidable occurrence when body surfing.

The entire Murphy clan found it pie-in-the-face funny.  Truthfully, I did too, when it wasn’t happening to me.  It’s hilarious to see someone furious with the ocean.

Always a classic.

My beach of choice has always been the Outer Banks.  My very favorite thing to do in the ocean gives poor Petey heart failure.  I swim straight out as far and fast as I can (maybe a quarter mile), stop and rest a minute, then turn around and swim to shore.

I relish testing my limits and the absolute solitude.  Petey sits on the sand and mentally rehearses the phone call to inform my parents their only daughter has drowned, been eaten by a shark, or lost in international shipping lanes.My watery tale has a heartbreaking ending.

In 1986 we moved to the Piedmont and four hours from the beach.  My maritime opportunities dwindled drastically.  It has now been so long, I no longer even own a bathing suit.

So, if you hear I’ve been arrested for indecent exposure, don’t worry.

It just means I’ve finally gone swimming.Thanks for your time.

Stream of Self-consciousness

5-5-2017 B“Crowley!  Knock it off!  If you want to go out, you’d better stand still!  Hold it!  Stop it!”

Good grief!  It is 9:30 in the morning!  How can it be seventeen thousand degrees out here?

So…what music do I want to hear?  Why did I download Bread’s Greatest Hits?  What was I thinking?    

“That’s a good boy. C’mon, Buddy.  You can’t sit down in the street.  We’ll get hit by a car.”“Sorry!  Thanks for not hitting us with your car.”

Really?  What kind of horrible manimal leaves a dirty diaper on the street?

“Crowley! Spit that out!”

Why does Chester have a giant picture of the cookie monster looking out of his living room window?  No, better question; why doesn’t everyone have a giant cookie monster picture looking out their living room windows?

“Hold on Crowley, I need to pick that up.”

“Leave those birds alone.  I’m sorry, buddy, they’re not trying to play with you.  They’re being jerks.”Wait, what is that?  What the heck?  Is that a…yeah, that’s a drone hanging off that mailbox.  It’s new, and it looks like a nice one, too.  What the what?

“You hear that dog barking at us?”

That has got to be the crankiest dog in North America.  Can a dog actually be a butthead?

“C’mon Buddy, let’s go.  What do you think?  Should we do the whole walk?”

Ok, it’s a million degrees.  Should we head home?  If we cut it short, it’s tuna on lettuce for dinner.  If we keep going, it’s blue box mac…“C’mon, let’s keep going, we’ll have the whole walk knocked out in no time.”

“Really?  Again?  Hold on, I need to pick it up.”

Oh, cripes, I hope that darn dog isn’t out in the yard…

“Whoa!  Crowley! Whoa!  Crowley, I’m gonna…Whoa!”

I am going to have arms like Schwarzenegger.  If he doesn’t kill me first. 

“No, Buddy, they didn’t invite you to play just because their garage door is open.  G’ morning! Sorry, he’s a puppy, and thinks everybody is his best friend, and everything belongs to him!”meth cupcakeWhat do those people do in there?  Every time we go past, the garage door is half open and they’re sitting at a table working on something.  Is it meth?  I read you need lots of ventilation for meth.  Are they decorating cupcakes?  I hope they’re decorating cupcakes.

“Crowley, get up boy.  C’mon, we’ve got to move.  We’ll be home soon, and when we get there, you can lay on the cool tile in the fireplace.”  If I don’t get there first, big boy.

“Morning!  Boy, that yard is looking great!  You’ve done so much work!”

Oh my gosh, that yard looks tortured into submission.  There isn’t a weed on the planet brave enough to pop up in that yard!  Cuh-razy eyes!  That dude scares me.  I’ll bet he’s got more than rakes and fertilizer in the basement.  “It rubs the lotion on its skin…”5-5-2017“Alright Buddy, we’re home!  After dinner, we’ll do another full walk…’cause I’m having root beer and cookies for breakfast.  Now move over!  Mama needs some of that cool, cool tile.”

Starting in July, The topic of the column running on the last weekend of the month will be picked by you, gentle reader.  Send your ideas (and any other comments you may have) to  I can’t wait to see the ideas that surface from your brain boxes

No topic is off limits except for these off limit topics: politics, religion, and boy bands of the 80’s.Thanks for your time.

Coming Attractions

There are so many choices it practically induces entertainment induced paralysis.The old school options of cable and satellite have stations numbering in the hundreds of thousands.  With internet options, those numbers increase to the millions.

And that’s not even counting sites like Youboob, with countless hours of classic television uploaded by producers and fans alike.

To take some of the angst from the process, it helps to have a guide with helpful descriptions of the quality programming available.  Here’s a small sampling of such a guide.

Classic Shows:Gilligan’s Island: The castaways are finally rescued and return to civilization.  Having been declared dead, the Howells are no longer millionaires.  Ginger finds Hollywood has moved on and roles have dried up.  No one wants to hire the captain of the Minnow and the skipper becomes a derelict who haunts the waterfront, looking for odd jobs.  The professor and Mary Ann move to Colorado and open a marijuana dispensary.  Gilligan parlays his fifteen minutes into a successful long-running reality show and eventually marries a Kardashian.Happy Days: Milwaukee is shocked when Mrs. C and The Fonz reveal their secret love and run off to Hawaii to open a shark-jumping school.  Richie moves to a small town in North Carolina and becomes sheriff.  Ralph and Potsie become Uber drivers, and Mr. C eventually finds love again with Pinky Tuscadero.

Gun Smoke: Marshal Dillion has a professional crisis when he realizes that Miss Kitty may run a saloon downstairs, but upstairs is Dodge City’s most successful house of ill repute and he’s never realized it.  Matt leaves town and becomes an itinerant preacher leaving Festus to take over as marshal.

New Offerings:

What’s for dinner?: A new competition show where a working mom has 20 minutes to make dinner for a ravenous family of five with only eight items in the pantry and three in the fridge.  The moms will battle the clock, the varied tastes of the family, and Pizza Hut on speed dial.  The prize for the winner is to do it all over again the next day

Howe Two: Watch the glamorous life of Benjamin Howe II, the best-selling author of dozens of instruction manuals and owner’s guides.  Along with spunky assistant Cissy, he solves cases of missing warranties, sock devouring dryers and dull lawn mower blades.  Our plucky team is overseen by Ben’s no-nonsense editor, “Ink” Rogers, who’s also dating Ben’s eccentric mother, Ann Howe.

The Royal Court: Join the gorgeous, seductive crew staffing the food court at King’s Mall in Sacramento.  Hollywood’s hottest young actors and actresses will discover love, life and heartbreak among the hot dogs, pretzels, and soft serve in this drama set in the fanciest mall in California’s capital city.Ruff Planet: An exciting new science fiction show about life on a planet run by intelligent canines.  Emperor Sparky attempts to rule while dealing with battling litters and their power hungry mothers.  Will palace intrigue bring down the monarchy from within?  Or will a rebel band of mixed breeds and their feline allies bring about the fall of the government?

This is only a very small sampling of the myriad of video diversion available today.  If you started watching right now and never took your eyes off the screen, it would take thousands of years to see everything, and dozens of new productions are released every day.

Thinking of everything I’m missing at this very moment is enough to make my head spin.  But, I think I’ve got it figured out.  I’m going outside, and gonna sit under a tree with a book.Thanks for your time.

A Cavalcade of Bad Ideas

nc plateSo, even though the expiration date on our car registration was May 15th, when I went to renew it online on May 10th, we got hit with a $15 late fee.  The penalty notice was so very regretful, so insanely polite, so almost sickeningly sweet, that it could only have been written by a Canadian.

The upshot was fifteen extra dollars, all because I had a bad idea.

The worst thing about this story?

It’s nowhere near the worst idea I ever had.  Or witnessed.  Or has been visited upon me.


This is our current Akita Crowley, with me.  *No Akitas were harmed in the making of this picture.

Akitas are an awesome breed of dog.  They’re smart, clean, protective, and gorgeous.  But they don’t handle change or boredom well.  We learned this lesson when we were dating and decided to get a pooch.  At the time both of us were living with our respective families, which meant that Gnarly the Akita went back and forth between houses, and was left alone frequently.

How did we discover the Akita’s aversion to boredom?

A bored Akita did this.

The information was forcefully thrust upon us the day Gnarly ate my parents’ screened-in back porch.  We paid to have the porch rebuilt and found a new home for Gnarly with friends that owned a farm.

Jellies are shoes that are made from a rubbery material.  Usually, they’re brightly colored, translucent sandals.  I had a pair of jelly flats that were Barbie pink, and had been made with holes all over them about the size of pencil erasers, which looked kind of like polka-dots.

I decided to wear them to a day at a theme park, because they were comfortable, and well, they were darn cute.

There were a few facts I didn’t take into account when I made my sartorial decision that morning.Fact one- Rubber does not breathe, so it gets hot and damp in those shoes.

Fact two- Walking around a theme park all day in the summertime can make your feet swell.Fact three- When your feet swell they will try to expand in any manner possible; i.e.—through many little holes.

Fact four- There is no pain quite like the pain of 20-30 eraser sized blisters equally distributed all over both feet.

A honeymoon cottage that is actually a 12X60 mobile home with no under-skirting, shade or air conditioning is a really bad idea when the wedding is in August, in North Carolina.

Unless the child is actually actively exiting a woman’s body, never ask her if she is pregnant.  On a related note, do not under pain of being beaten to death with a Geritol bottle ask a woman if she would like a senior discount.Egregiously bad ideas a husband can have: Never, not ever, and I mean never put exercise equipment under the Christmas tree.  Even if it is a gift “for the whole family”.  As my mother so wisely states, “You have to sleep some time.”

Before you throw away the first stuffed animal that your wife has brought from her childhood home, make sure you have certified notarized permission from said wife which was witnessed by at least two uninterested parties.

Don’t buy seafood out of the trunk of a car, especially in July.No matter what the guy at the comic book store would have you believe, neither the Keiko O’Brien doll, nor the special limited run of the graphic novel written by Danielle Steel and illustrated by Thomas Kinkade will ever increase in value.

And it’s a horrible idea to ever leave me alone with a bowl of potato salad.Thanks for your time.

But I’ve never been a brother

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”–The eternal, plaintive cry of every over-looked, unappreciated, forlorn middle child.

And I should know, I was the middle child.

And the oldest child.

And the youngest child.

And an only child.How, you may ask?  I was neither a foster child, nor am I referring to past lives.  And despite mighty, mighty provocation, I’ve never indulged in a spot of fratricide.

My mother came from a family of seven kids.  She, the youngest daughter and Homer, the youngest son, were the only kids left at home when their parents passed away.  She was around twenty, and her little brother was nine or ten-years-old.

She made a brave and kind decision that most of us probably wouldn’t.  From now on, they were a boxed set.  He could be secure in the knowledge that he would always have a home.

When Dad proposed to Mom, she made it very clear that her brother came along or no deal.  Which was also a pretty darn good measure of my dad’s character, if you think about it.  And never once did I ever hear Homer referred to, or treated, as anything other than their son. So, when they got hitched, they had an eleven-year-old son.  And when I was born, I had a twelve-year-old brother.  And brother is how I think of him and what he’s always been to me.

But technically I was an only child.  And this familial position taught me a few things, and instilled in me a few character traits.

As an only I relish my solitude, and autonomy.  I only need some grub and a couple of books, and I can happily spend days all by my lonesome.  I fight my own battles, and take care of myself.  And as an only, there’s nobody with whom you have to share.  You always get the biggest slice.I was also the baby of the family.

This makes me creative and prone to taking chances without regard to risk.  I also relish being taken care of, and watched over.  The baby is also very social.  And while the only parties I attend usually involve pajamas and my couch, I meet awesome people and make new friends every single day.

When I was four, my brother Bud was born.  This fact, on paper, made me the oldest.As the oldest, there just might be the tiniest bit of bossiness in my makeup.  Or is it that I just know what’s best—for everyone, always?

But with our unique family, I was now the middle child.

This means I loathe and abhor discord.  I have a revulsion of ire directed my way, and would tap dance on the moon or remove my own spleen if that’s what it took to promote peace and harmony.  I am very, very optimistic, sometimes to the point of magical thinking.  I hate sad stories, and never met a happy ending I didn’t like.

I am, by any standard, the only girl in my family.  Having lived and been raised among the XY faction, I understand boys and get along very well with them.  I also revel in being underestimated by males and defying those expectations.So, to sum up: it’s pretty darn crowded in my brain box.  And, I posses conflicting personality traits that could probably serve as the master thesis for some poor twitchy psychology student.

If it’s Tuesday, I must be an independent, clingy leader who just wants everybody to get along.

Or not.

Family is the gift that just keeps on giving, ain’t it?Thanks for your time.