There’s an orderliness about you that I find very comforting.
She blushed at the compliment. As only an anal retentive person could.
He said, you know, one of the things that really attracted me to you was your anal retentiveness.
There’s an orderliness about you that I find very comforting.
She blushed at the compliment. As only an anal retentive person could.
My friend Erin forwarded me one of those “One More Thing to Worry About--Pass it On!” emails yesterday—about how filthy women’s handbags are because of the disgusting places they go. For example, a woman will go to a restaurant, set her purse down on the floor in the bathroom and then place it on the dining table when she returns. That night, one of her dining companions will become seriously ill and blame it on the Moo Goo Gai Pan. Evidently a microbiologist tested a variety of women’s bags and found everything from salmonella to vomit to fecal matter in the handbags’ fibers.
This news is paralyzing to me. Not only am I afraid to touch my purse, I am afraid to look at it now that I know it’s full of grimy little parasites staring back at me.
I always suspected my purses were the enemy. Not because they harbored bacteria, but because they harbored my personal belongings in much the same way the Bermuda triangle harbors ships. I’ll hear my cell phone ringing somewhere inside my bag and have to go spelunking through its interior with a headlamp and a pick axe in order to find it.
This is why I keep buying new purses and tossing the old ones onto the compost heap in the closet at the top of the stairs. That and I’m planning to use the compost to plant a majestic tree in our front yard, which will one day sprout colorful handbags, board games, and ladies’ pants that need to be hemmed.
But back to the purses. So hard to find a good one. Someone should start a match.com for women and purses. A Purseharmony.com perhaps. I could create my profile, and the purses could email me about why they think we’d be a good match.
“Hi Amanda! I’m 18 by 14 inches, I have two exterior pockets for your cell phone and sunglasses, and one large compartment on my interior wall in which to keep your wallet for easy access! My strap is 3.5 inches wide and adjustable, and I can easily carry the latest issue of Vogue, one bestselling novel, two bags of dinosaur snacks, a binky, a sippy cup, two spare diapers, one pair of Thomas the Tank Engine underwear, and a small container of baby wipes, without getting bent out of shape. I am relaxed and casual, but people still say I’m very chic. Without getting too personal too soon, let's just say that my bottom is reinforced with a heavy-duty non porous material that repels dirt and parasites. So what do you say?”
If you’re for real, I say I'll pick you up at eight.
I am so weary of CNN.
Have they taken the fear mongering to a whole new level, or is it just me? I watched for 15 minutes this morning. Just 15 measly minutes while I was putting on my makeup and drying my hair, and now look at all the new things I have to worry about.
And I’m not talking about the lead paint that’s all over the toys my kids like to eat (that fear is so “yesterday morning”); now they’ve discovered lead paint in Christmas wreaths! And you know how much I like to gnaw on my Christmas wreath! Nothing gives me more pleasure than standing on my front porch, face in wreath, sucking on those little plastic holly berries and petting its plush evergreen needles. (And then licking my hands afterwards). I must be riddled with toxins by now. It’s a wonder I can wash myself.
How easy is it to get tazed by the police these days? So easy! Betty Crocker easy. All you have to do is disagree with a senator or act a little mental and disoriented after getting off a plane (both of which I am overly capable of doing) and ZAP! CNN started the segment by saying “We have to warn you that this next clip is somewhat graphic …” Somewhat? And now, from the people who brought you “TOXIC WREATHS!”, a “somewhat graphic” holiday clip about a mentally ill man who is repeatedly zapped with 50,000 volts of electricity until … he dies. After the clip, they cut to a member of the police force, and he says, “Well, keep in mind, you’re just seeing one point of view in that video.” Okay. But it’s the point of view of a camera, which videotaped you killing a man.
Is Your Neighbor Taking Money From You? (Learn More After the Commercial Break!)
Oh my god! Maybe he is! I mean he is gay, after all. (And you know how them gays like to do.) Of course, after the commercial break, we discover that this is not a story about my neighbor stealing from me. At least not in the traditional sense. It’s another story about the housing market. Wait. Did I just say "housing market?" I’m sorry! I meant to say “Foreclosure Crisis”, which CNN’s Finance Editor Geri Willis tells me is my crisis—even if I have a fixed rate mortgage and I’m able to comfortably make my payments. Why is it my crisis? Because of my neighbor of course. (Damn you, Gary!) Even if I keep my house, he might not be able to afford his house, and the bank might foreclose on him, which would decrease the value of myhouse, and then … there goes the neighborhood! Ramen Noodles for everyone! For more detailed and prolonged hysteria, tune in to Geri Willis’s Open House, Saturday mornings at nine-thirty!
The Oil Companies. What Are They Doing With All Those Profits?
Kiran Chetry (who is really just Soledad O’Brien rewound ten years) was asking John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil, that very question. Hofmeister is on a “50-city Tour” taking “Tough Questions” from the American public. I love when companies proactively parade their senior executives before the American public in an attempt to prove that they are kind, accessible people who have nothing to hide. I can just hear his PR handler coaching him prior to the CNN interview. Okay John. Here’s how we’re going to play this, right? If you get a little nervous, don’t try to imagine Kiran in her underpants like you did when she was Soledad. What’s that? Well it may have made you feel tranquil, but it made you look like a pervert. Now, listen up. This time, think Teddy Bear, all right? You’re like the Winnie the Pooh of Petrol. Except instead of being all stuffed with fluffies, you’re all stuffed with MONEY! Ha! Sorry. I was joking about that last bit. Okay, so, pretend I’m Kiran, and I’m reading you a question submitted by Lucinda-Mae Johnson in Bumfuckles, Iowa … wait, now, see right there? That thing you just did with your mouth? That’s what we call a smirk, John. Pooh does not smirk. On occasion, he might grin sheepishly at Christopher Robin, but he definitely does not smirk.
Just the fact that he’s an oil company president and he’s "on tour" is alarming to me, because it tells you how stupid the oil companies think we are. “I know! We’ll tell them it’s a Tour! And they’ll think it’s like a concert tour! Like with Bruce Springsteen, only instead of The Boss, we give them The Boss of Shell Oil Company! One minute they’ll be pissed off about gas prices, and the next you’ll have them flicking their Bics and singing Born in the USA.”
I took Gus shopping with me this afternoon. At Old Navy, he pulled away from me to go look at the giant pickup truck where they display all the T-shirts. Like any parent, I have a huge fear of my kids being snatched. I die a tiny death every time he disappears from my sight—even for a second. So today seemed as good a day as any to give him a quick refresher course on what to do if we get separated and a stranger approaches.
“If a stranger tries to get you to go with them,” I said, “I want you to yell, “No! You are not my mommy! And DO NOT go with the person no matter what. Okay?” He nodded.
And then he started to practice.
At Ann Taylor, he approached a mannequin, pointed and screamed, “NO! YOU ARE NOT MY MOMMY.”
The attendants laughed.
“She was trying to get me,” he said.
Then he approached a pinstripe suit at Banana Republic. “You are NOT my MOMMY!”
And then he yelled at the Gap’s discount rack. And several well-meaning shoppers who smiled at him a little too warmly.
I was carrying him out of the Gap when a middle-aged woman with braces stopped us. “Is this your child?” she asked me, her voice trembling.
“He is,” I said, wondering if maybe he’d accidentally stolen something.
“Is this your Mommy?” she asked Gus.
Gus said yes.
“Are you sure?” she asked him, near tears.
“I just heard him say “You’re not my Mommy,” she said, giving me a hard look . “That’s what I taught my kids to say if someone tried to snatch them.”
I smiled at her. Mother to mother. “Well, I was just teaching him the same thing,” I said. “And he’s been practicing. So I appreciate you stopping to make sure.”
And I did appreciate it … you know, as much as you can appreciate someone accusing you of kidnapping your son.
But she was not convinced. At all. And I thought she was going to cry. So I pulled out my wallet and showed her Gus’s school picture. And one of Patrick, for good measure.
“That’s Patrick!” Gus told her.
“Who’s Patrick?” she asked.
“He’s my brother.”
She looked wary. Something about me was just screaming kidnapper to this woman.
“Are you sure?” she asked Gus again. “Are you sure this is your Mommy?”
He nodded again.
“Are you sure sure?”
Of course, instead of looking confident; he looked scared. Because a stranger was grilling him. And what had I just taught him about strangers?
“I’m sure,” he said, looking at me unsurely.
The woman winced. Like she just had a very bad feeling about me, and she was letting us go against her better judgment.
So then what was I going to do? I couldn’t just walk away with him! Isn’t that what a kidnapper would do? We had to act natural. Just a mother and son out for a little Sunday fun at the mall. I stopped and let Gus play on those stupid ride-on cars that vibrate when you put a dollar in.
Moments later, a crowd was gathering outside of the Gap.
I wanted to kick myself! Idiot girl! Real mothers never let their kids ride on these things. It’s a total rip off. Only divorced fathers and—let’s just face it—serial killers who want to ingratiate themselves to innocent preschoolers … I was starting to sweat a little. Okay, a lot. And my heart was pounding in my chest.
Should I wave at them? No. That wouldn’t look right. I smiled warmly at my son, and patted his little head. Shit, shit, shit, I thought. That looked fake.. How would I act if I were really his mother? But I AM, I am his mother. This is insane. I am being insane. We just need to keep shopping.
I took his hand, walking extra slowly, just to show them that I wasn’t desperate to flee the mall or anything.
To no avail.
“Excuse me,” she said, scurrying up behind us. “Several other people heard this child screaming. They’ve called security. I wasn’t the one who called security. It was them. But just for my own peace of mind, would you mind if I called mall security also?”
The woman was freaking out. And I was starting to think this might end badly.
“Not at all,” I said calmly. “Go right ahead.”
As we waited for security, she talked to Gus.
“What’s your name?”
“Is that short for something?”
“Lawrence Augusten O’Brien,” he said.
Aha! I pulled Gus’s social security card out of my wallet and showed it to her. She emitted a little sigh and glanced at me wearily, as if to say, “Let’s just hope you didn’t steal that, too.”
She then started in on a very blustery story about how “Things—just things—have happened in her past” and she “wouldn’t get into details” but she just “needs to do this for her peace of mind.” She had a friend, once, she said, who had a child, who slept on a new mattress, and got blue mark on his face, and the babysitter called child services on her friend, and oh how she is just praying that this turns out to be a situation like that--
“You need to take a shorter turn,” Gus said.
“You need to take a shorter turn talking,” he said to her, holding up a hand and pinching his fingers together (the universal symbol for “Don’t Speak”.) “Mommy, can we go in that store next?”
“Sure, Gus. As soon as the security guards get here.”
Enter the security guards. One looked barely old enough to drive. The other wasn’t a day younger than 90. Neither seemed particularly suspicious of me. In fact, they seemed downright bored by the whole thing.
A Mexican woman interrupted us to ask if there was a Dollar Store in this mall, which my accuser informed her there was not.
Not wanting to seem like I was trying to sway the security guards to my side, I stayed silent, letting the woman make her case. Meanwhile, Gus kept pleading, “MOMMY, can we go look at the tractor store? Pleeeease?”
Eventually, it started to dawn that I was legit. The woman became apologetic and teary.
I told her not to feel bad. It’s no problem; I appreciate her looking out for us, etc, etc.
“Do you have a picture of your son?” the teenage security guard asked.
I pulled out the picture.
“He does look like you,” the woman said.
“Well, ma’am, it’s a smart thing you’ve taught your boy,” the old security guard told me. “Real smart.”
As if that hadn't been made abundantly clear.
Amanda O'Brien is the author and sole proprietress of Blabbermouse, a blog she launched in February of 2005.