Category Archives: Witty Musings

Loyalty Cards

English: Different customer loyality cards (ai...

Image via Wikipedia

At this time I have about 53 loyalty cards either crowding my keyring, overflowing my junk draw or cramming up my wallet. They are the bane of my existence for two reasons;

1. I hate all the extra crap I have to carry.

2. I cant not have them because I’m possibly missing out on a discount, a rebate check – or worse – a free set of blunt steak knives made in China, from some kind of cheap, toxic plastic and quasi-metal.

I went to the local grocery store the other day and as I was checking out, the lady asked for my loyalty card. As I searched in my bag for the card I said to her; “I’m not sure if I have one, Im not really that loyal.

Of course what I meant, is that I wasn’t that loyal to that particular store. I usually shopped at a grocer much closer to our house. I dug around in my purse a little more, and then looked up at her to find her staring at me oddly.

I immediately realized what I had just said and stupidly decided to explain myself further.

Well I am loyal, you know…..in life. I’m just not that loyal to your store. I’m really a very loyal person by nature, I mean, I’m not having affairs all over the place on my husband or anything….but, you see, all these grocery stores are so close together, and they all have a card, and there are so many cards, its so hard to keep track, and well….”

My voice trailed off as much for breathlessness as for lack of a really plausible explanation, that would clarify things, and get us on a better track.

You know that moment where you know you are rabbiting on like a raving lunatic, and you know the other person is thinking you’re a total whack-job? Yet for some reason, you can’t seem to stop yourself rambling aimlessly, in a desperate attempt to sound like a lucid person?

This was my moment.

Of course I intend to reward her for my humiliation by showing absolutely no loyalty, and never visiting that grocery store again.

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Your Children Aren’t Nearly As Intelligent As You Believe. (Trust Me On This.)

This company assumed children blessed with the gift of logic, would be drinking their milk.

Today it became crystal clear to me why Doctors say our kids shouldn’t be drinking flavored milk, or soda pop.

Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with the sugar content, obesity epidemic, rampant ADD in our schools, or the complete lack of nutrition.  In fact, it’s a much less hotly-debated issue.

The reality is, they aren’t at the age where they are equipped to deal with the complexities of these drinks.

“Complexities?” I hear you ask; “what could be more simple than drinking a sugary treat?”

What, indeed.

Last night my seven-year-old finished dinner, we were eating outside (it was a beautiful night), and my husband left us to return a phone call.

I had promised my son after he had eaten his dinner, he could have the chocolate milk I had bought him (a rare treat in our house), and his pleasure was evident when I distractedly handed him the drink, and began texting on my phone.

I was paying no attention to him, until I noticed him wiggling a little in his seat. In typical parenting style, I ignored it (not wanting to open up a dialogue on kid related things that would almost certainly be akin to watching paint dry on a wet and cloudy day).

The wiggling continued and turned into actual bodily shaking… he was now standing in front of his seat with his hands and arms moving in the air as well!

“What the hell?” I thought to myself.

Don’t ask”, my inner voice warned, “don’t open up that can of worms, continue on with your texting.

I knew this was a road I really didn’t want to travel, so I left it alone and continued with my text.

Moments later, he sighed loudly and sat back in his chair, with a force that comes from the exhaustion of moving so energetically on a warm evening.

Then the lunacy spewed forth from his lips;

“mummy, why do I have to shake well before opening this drink?”

Note the little " symbols they have added to the bottle to really emphasise the shaking - little did they know the confusion this would cause.

This my dear friends, is the result when one’s reading ability, far surpasses their intelligence level. (A condition I suspect many adults also suffer from, but that’s fodder for another post.)

As a result of this illogical display of senselessness, my son will only be given one  beverage option – water – when requiring relief from his thirst for the next half decade or so.

Until he is capable of reading the label and deciphering for himself that wording like “twist top”  is not an instruction related to the shirt he is wearing, “contents under pressure” does not refer to an unresolved emotional conflict or a tight work deadline for the beverage, and “ring pull”, is not the can asking you to present your buttocks for any kind of assistance – he will be banned from all beverages that are not see-through.

And from what I’ve just witnessed, it may be a long 5 years.

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And The Mouse Made Four

Previous Freddo Dairy Milk design (12g)

The delicious Freddo Frog (Image via Wikipedia)

The evening after Halloween, kiddo asked me if he could have some left-over chocolate Freddo’s. I nodded in the affirmative and moments later, he brought me the whole bowl – asking why so many of the wrappers had been torn, and the chocolate eaten.

It turns out we have a mouse.

A mouse that favors Cadbury Chocolate Freddo Frogs.

Of course I was horrified at the mere thought of a mouse running around my kitchen while I slept, and out came my trusty humane trap, something I have used previously to deal with such incidences.

Regular traps just aren’t an option for me. The idea of waking in the morning to find a dead mouse splayed out with a metal rod across its back is too much for me to bear – and the alternative thought of it not actually being dead, just suffering endlessly until I have to hit it with a brick or something – well, I simply cannot imagine.

We have a deal in our house – I can use humane traps and my husband will empty them for me – far, far, away from our home. Our house backs up to a reserve of forest-type land (an area kept protected for the wildlife), and as a result we see the occasional field mouse.

My husband set the trap with chocolate inside (since this was obviously the mouse’s poison of choice), and I put the bowl of remaining chocolates up high, away from the place where the mouse first tasted the decadence.

The next morning the trap hadn’t been touched, but the bowl had once again been raided! I was incensed! I triple-sealed the remaining untouched chocolates in zip-lock baggies and went about my day, as hubby left on a business trip.

To be honest I forgot all about the trap, until last night.

I turned off my light at about 12:30am and prepared for sleep, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes later that I heard someone trying the handle of our front door – or so I thought.

A strange jiggling sound had me on high alert (granted it would have to be the loudest burglar in the history of the world, but that’s all I could figure). I got up and turned every light in the house on, as I checked all the doors.

Nothing.

All had gone quiet and I went back to bed, perplexed.

Of course it started again, and it was so loud, it sounded exactly like someone trying to get into the house! I went checking again and nothing! I repeated this one last time, and this time I picked up my iphone as I lay in my bed hearing this strange noise and I turned on my voice recorder to record it.

What I was doing, I can’t tell you. If I were to be found dead in my bed, the cops would all be shaking their heads…“she had time to run for her life, but instead chose to lay in bed and record the burglar coming to attack, what was she thinking?”

Apparently people do strange things when they are tired and perplexed. And by people, I mean me.

A few minutes later I remembered the trap and considered the possibility that it had something to do with the noise. I ventured to the cupboard and sure enough the trapdoor was closed, signalling entrapment.

I was terrified – much more terrified than if it had been a masked burglar. I was all for ‘saving the mice’, but I didn’t want to have to be actively involved in the disposing of them.

This is why one finds a husband. Rodent removal, diamonds, and to teach sons how to pee.

I went back to bed hoping that now I’d figured out what it was, I could ignore the mouse and get some sleep and my 7-year-old could deal with it for me in the morning (parenting at its best).

The subsequent noise was incredible. Reaching a crescendo of epic proportions this mouse had clearly decided to throw itself with all its weight at the trapdoor, time and time again, in the hopes it could break free – at least that’s all I could figure.

I felt vaguely sorry for it as I imagined its fear and desperation. I threw a pillow over my head and willed myself to sleep.

Moments later, the kiddo woke up from the deafening noise and called out to me, asking what was going on. I told him to go back to sleep and I gritted my teeth and told myself that I was going to have to deal with this – there was simply no other option.

THE MOUSE IS IN HERE RIGHT NOW!!!

I opened the cupboard door and gingerly picked it up (making sure to keep the oh-so-important door sealed) and headed for the front door.

As I opened the door, the dog pushed past me and ran out. He had seen a kangaroo (they often feed on our lawn at nights), and was now taking off down the street in chase.

The culprit.

I broke into a run of my own, all the while doing the yisper (you know that thing you do when you are yelling; “get back here now!!” But you have to do it in a loud whisper, because its 3am and you live on a super quiet street in a cul-de-sac, and you don’t want to piss off the neighbors?)

Your mind is yelling, but your voice is loud-whispering. Yisper.

So this is what it’s come to.

A kangaroo being chased by a labrador, being chased by its owner (while balancing a trapped mouse), at 3am down a quiet, suburban street.

We chased  each other through 3 gardens, 4 yards, an empty block of land, past a “Koala Corridor” sign and over a roundabout. At which time I realized I was a more than a street away from my home, my 7-year-old was alone asleep in bed, it was 3am and I was in my pyjamas with bare feet, holding a trapped mouse.

(It’s stories like these that get people arrested. “No officer, I wasn’t going to streak or break-in, I was chasing-my-dog-chasing-a-kangaroo-holding-my-mouse. I just didn’t have time to get dressed.”)

Logic took over and I turned around.

The dog would have to work his way back – thankfully the kangaroo is way faster than the dog anyway – he would soon realize it was a hopeless cause.

I got to my driveway and looked at my trapped mouse (who probably had awful motion sickness by now).

I set down the trap in the forest area opposite our house, lifted the trapdoor back…and ran like hell back to the house. As I did, I heard the door fall again and I realized he wouldn’t be able to escape this way. The mechanism that makes this humane trap work is based on the principal of a sea-saw.

When he walks towards the door, the contraption tips and the door closes. There was no possible way the mouse could get out without me standing there and tipping him out – and that couldn’t happen with my phobia and history of bad-ass luck – if I did that, he’d be sure to turn and run over my foot and up my leg and I might have a heart-attack.

I couldn’t believe that my nightmare wasn’t over yet, and now I was going to have to start a damn craft project!

I made a decision and headed back to the house and returned outside, bringing a tape dispenser out with me. As I sat on the roadside rigging my plan in my pyjamas, I thought about what a complete idiot I would look like if someone saw me.

I placed two large pieces of tape to the front of the door and got ready and pulled back the door and taped the remaining ends to the back of the trap, all  in one swift motion …and hightailed it back inside the house.

I never looked back (until this morning when the kiddo wanted to know what happened to the trap and I pointed to the other side of the street as we left for school).

This was my blissfully empty trap the next morning. Ready for reuse! All for the bargain price of $2.49

Later, I thought about how much crap my hubby was going to get from me when he got home, for being away on the one night this all had to happen. One night a year that he has to be “the man of the house” and deal with a mouse – and he’s not around for it!

Typical.

I’m thinking of trying to get a refund for him. “Excuse me sir, mines not working, he doesn’t do what he’s supposed to – whats the return policy?”

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I Was Flamingoed (and more of my week)

Kana from Kana’s Notes flamingoed me last week. What does being flamingoed mean? Well, I suggest you read her highly entertaining post for yourself.

In short, I happened upon her blog and read it religiously and comment when its worthwhile – and of course because she’s such an awesome blogger, its always worthwhile. So I got flamingoed (its all very logical).

Here is my flamingo.

In turn she asks that I flamingo my supportive blogger friends and so I have elected my chosen few.

[As an aside I think Australia is the only continent that doesn’t actually have native flamingos, so what are the chances that you would be flamingoed by an Australian girl with no native flamingos? I know. If this isn’t a sign from the heavens to purchase a lottery ticket, I really don’t know what is.]

Without any further ado…

Carrie, at A Sassy Redhead – Shes  hilarious and she comments on all my posts – she might well be the perfect woman (and she’s currently single boys, so line up)!

UnknownCystic – He’s deep thinking, reflective and funny, and he manages it all while living next a gun-toting neighbour. He deserves an award for that alone!

Tinkerbelle at Laughter Is Catching – She reminds me of me, when I was in my 20’s, I just love her and her outlook on life. Plus she featured me in a Halloween blog post, so she has excellent taste.

Eleanor from How The Hell Did I End Up Here? – The kind of woman I hope to be when I’m a little older. Fun, energetic, full of fascinating stories and gorgeous!

I know I have so many more friends that I have met recently, and please don’t think I don’t appreciate you all!

Thank you to Kana for the awesome idea, and I do hope that now your flamingo has gone global, your fame doesn’t change you. 🙂

Onto other news…

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I jalk. A jalk is a term I have coined that describes the hour + that I spend jalking (jogging + walking) around the beach, almost every day. (And by almost every day, I mean twice a week on a good week.)

It basically means I jog for a while – until my eyes are seeing double, my lungs feel like someone cut through them with a blunt spoon, the sweat has stuck my hair to my neck and my shirt to my back, and my feet no longer face in the direction in which I am headed – then I start to walk. (This typically happens after a credible 40 to 50 seconds of jogging.)

At this point, I walk for a while, and when I have determined that I am not in fact, going to die, I start to jog again and the cycle continues.

Jalking. And yes, it really is as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, it really is beautiful where we live and often I will see whales or dolphins out playing in the ocean, and so I thought it would be cool to take along my iphone and take pictures of the path I take on my jalk, to give you an idea of what I see and experience. These were taken last Wednesday.

The beginning

 

This is where the gasping starts

The end of jogging as my feet start to wobble in the wrong direction. Here's where death is nigh and I move to walking to ensure I stay upright and lucid.

Walking upright and relatively coherent

Love this rockpool

Perfect dolphin and whale-watching vantage point

I actually saw someone crawling up these once, they're so intense. Sure, it was a toddler, but still.

Almost there

This is where I have the team of paramedics waiting. I'm kidding. At this point I turn around and have to go all the way back to my car, and I often consider flagging down a teenager on a skateboard for a ride I'm that desperate at this point for it all to be over.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into life in coastal Australia, and for one last treat, I will leave you with a photo I took last year from the vantage point of a whale playing out in the ocean – I had my zoom camera with me, sadly I cant get anything decent with the iphone.

Love.

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Dear Father.

My father is by nature a fun-loving person.

He was the one who short-sheeted my bed as a kid – so when I got in I couldn’t get my feet down to the bottom – the one who filled his left had with axle grease, hiding it as he put out his other hand offering a handshake. When I responded in kind, he grabbed me, pulled me close and rubbed the axle grease in my hair.

He would on occasion start a food fight at the table, flicking peas at us with his fork, much to my mothers exasperation.

I remember the time when we were traveling Europe on vacation and he spent a whole day with me in a pinball parlor – spending an exorbitant amount of money – for a day that by most mothers standards (including mine), would be considered a complete and utter waste of family time and finances.

Still, these are the moments kids remember, so perhaps they weren’t so wasteful after all.

These days he’s much more serious, he owns stores in the Sydney area and is always pouring over the books and dealing with some crisis or another and when he comes to visit it’s inevitably a whirlwind trip, because he has to get back to put out another theoretical fire back at base camp.

Until recently.

He and my mother recently left on a trip to Canada for 5 weeks. Australians get a minimum of 4 weeks paid vacation leave every year, so its pretty standard that if you accrue some leave, people will go overseas and stay for 4, 5 or even 6 weeks.

They’ve traveled the east coast of Canada visiting Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, over the border into Buffalo? (am I right here?), and by all accounts are having a ball. I have deduced that they are also very relaxed as I see signs of the man who once was.

I worked this out, primarily by this little stream of text messages my dad sent me. His messages are in white, mine in green (note the time he sent the first message).

This is what old people do when they relax, they go insane.

My question re: ‘The funny weed’ refers to what my parents call marijuana.

My husband finds it mildly amusing that my parents wont actually use the word marijuana (as though by using it, they may give it credence), so they call it ‘the funny weed.’

My sister and I just find it hugely irritating and tell ourselves that that’s what old people do, so we don’t think any less of them.

Here, the absurdity continues:

As you can see, I have a 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' mentality.

I gave up in the end and decided to fight fire with fire, and it all pretty much went downhill from there.

And here is where it becomes painfully obvious whose child I am.


He never responded after that, I guess that one had him stumped.
After about a week I called my sister to see if she had heard anything from them – she hadn’t. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Have you heard from the olds?”

Her: “No, you?”

Me: “Not after those insane text messages, do you think they went crazy and performed some kind of suicide pact?”

Her: Nah, dad wouldn’t want to miss out on the Holiday business at the stores, they’d do it after the new year if they were going to.”

Me: “Do you think they’ve been eaten by a bear? Do they have bears in Canada or is it just moose? I think its moose – and they can be very violent – so can the beavers. Maybe they were attacked by a pack of rabid beavers?”

Her: “I’m headed to their house now, if I take (boyfriends) car I can beat you there and clean the place our before you arrive. There’s all that artwork and jewelry and stuff. Though mum wore all her most expensive jewelry and dad had on his nice watch too.”

Me: “Well if you clean out the house I’ll be going to collect the bodies, and I’ll pry it all from their cold, dead hands if I have to.”

Her: “We’ll flip for the jewels, OK?”

Me: “Seems fair.”

They called later that day. They’re fine.
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Ode To My Husband (The Only Man In The World Who Would Have Me)

The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado

9 years ago today, we walked into a courthouse in Denver and eloped.

As we left, you with a lifetime of possibilities and me with my free goodie bag of Tupperware (a total 1950’s housewife gift, I was insulted and planned on writing a complaint letter. Like most of my planned complaint letters, it never materialized), I hoped I’d done the right thing.

The Day We Eloped - Ootober 18, 2002

A few months later with 80 of our friends and family, we officially tied the knot at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel (and I was right, it was an improvement on a Mexican restaurant).

The roller coaster ride began, and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Our wedding day - January 2003

The first day of our honeymoon as we began our drive down the coast of Mexico, you impressed me by crushing a beer can on your forehead (splitting your head open when you used the wrong end – the one with the sharp edge).  I laughed for hours, and have rarely stopped laughing since.

I knew without question then, you were the boy for me.

As far back as our wedding day you were making me laugh

You have been the best sport as I laugh at you more often than with you (most often in blog posts that I share with the world), and as we incessantly argue the value of crap shows like Smallville and True Blood, your addiction to community Poker games, the necessity of me owning more than 50 pairs of shoes, why Channel and Chanel sunglasses really are not the same (despite appearances), and the inappropriateness of showing your kid how to use a whoopee cushion on unsuspecting guests.

We have come to an agreement that you may not criticize my country’s wacky city names, when your own has a place called Arkansas (Ar-Kansas) and yet, you pronounce it Are-Can-Saw. This one city name definitively established that whatever the subject matter, you have no case – and never will.

You now know that here in Australia, a napkin is not something you use to wipe your face at dinner but rather, a ladies sanitary item. (That was a humiliating lesson to learn, I know.)

We have established that we can raise a great kid, but have no clue how to raise a well-behaved dog.  We know how to run successful businesses, but cannot work in one together, we’re different in almost every way, but we’ll both stand up for what we believe in (even if the cost seems exorbitantly high), and we have learned together, the largest of sacrifices result in the greatest rewards.

Our badly-behaved, but adorable dog

We can live anywhere in the world together and have a good time (not always keeping on the right side of the law, and that’s OK, because most laws are overrated and antiquated anyway). We now know that a foreign drivers license and a confused expression will get you out of almost any tight fix.

You are a man with remarkable patience, and impressive tenacity. Your fortitude is great, and your resilience is admirable. You are the best father I know (even that man in Cracker Barrel thought so), and your ability to kill a bug in the middle of the night without your contact lenses (by sheer bionic-perception), is extraordinary!

You are the son with the integrity, the father with the most adoring son, and the husband with impeccable taste…

If you are ever unsure why you are with me, remember what you told that guy who asked you why you didn’t marry an American girl:

“ Because my wife can defend the honor of a family, confront a scam artist (and convince him to accept an appropriate consequence), make a meal, prove a doctor with a foreboding diagnosis wrong  – reclaiming the health of our child, run a business and keep a house. And she can do it all without carrying a gun, visiting a shrink or popping a Xanax. That’s why I married an Australian girl.”

It’s been a crazy ride, but one well-worth taking.

Happy Anniversary!

xxx

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You Say Tomato

You see allies, I see language barriers

My husband is American and I am Australian. Though one may be deceived into thinking this union is uncomplicated by social and language barriers, one would be very, very, wrong.

Despite both countries being English-speaking, we use many different phrases that mean very different things, and it has created more than a few unnecessary arguments between us.

Until last year, I was always the one considered weird and strange. I lived in the USA, and thus had to acclimate to the American way of things. I had to change the way I spoke and the phrases and slang I used, ensuring my American counterparts could understand me and that I would retain my sanity.

More recently, we moved our family to my home of Australia and it has provided me with many hours of entertainment watching my husband struggle with the language barrier, as I did in my first years in America.

Early on in his business he noted clients made reference to a guy, ‘Colorado Bob,’ and wondered who this other American was that frequented the same circles, seemed to always be around but was never actually spotted, and surprisingly, came from the very same state he did.

One fine day the realization hit that they were in fact, talking about him! Australians in their typical fashion, had decided to give him a nickname. The culture here is that you’ll get a nickname soon enough, whether you like or want a nickname is of no real consequence. You are given it – and this will be your new name forever and a day – so there’s no use arguing the point.

Given he moved from Colorado his nickname was prefaced by the state, and because no one could ever remember his actual name, ‘Bob’ became his new first name, and thus ‘Colorado Bob’ was born. He’s now gotten so used to it when doing business he will often say, “tell ‘em Colorado Bob came by!”

Now talk to me about integration and tell me it cant be done.

Other common nicknames you will find here are Shazza for Sharon, anyone with red hair may be nicknamed “Blue”(because that makes so much sense), or if they aren’t liked they often use the term “Ranga.” Incidentally, if someone calls you a bastard, it’s almost certainly a term of endearment – except when it’s not, and it’s assumed at the time you should know the difference – we’re fair and reasonable like that.

Far from us to be exclusionary, nicknames are not just reserved for people.

Afternoon is arvo, McDonald’s is Maccas, Acca Dacca is AC/DC (the band), anklebiter refers to a child, servo is service (gas)  station, and though not a nickname, I have to mention one of my favorites – the ever-whimsical ‘fairy floss’ – replacing the very ordinary and obvious ‘cotton candy’.

Cotton candy

Cotton candy may make logical sense, but fairy floss is so much more creative and everyone knows that Australians don’t make sense. (Image via Wikipedia)

We call the kitchen counter a bench here. I cannot tell you the countless times I have told hubby, “The keys/purse/water bottle etc. are on the bench.” Inevitably, I will find him outside in the garden searching on and around the bench for the offending missing item, when it is to be found lying quietly, and very obviously on our ‘counter’.

Last night we had a babysitter arrive. Hubby was talking with her as I was getting ready, and asked her what she’d been doing.

“I’ve been flat chat,” she said.

“Oh, I haven’t heard of that place…Flat Chat… is that where you work?” he responded.

She graciously suppressed her laughter, as she explained to him that the term means ‘busy.’ (Why say a simple word like ‘busy’ when you can jazz it up a little and call it ‘flat chat?’)

He has come home on more than one occasion looking confused and perplexed while trying to recount for me a conversation he had that day, so that I might possibly be able to ‘translate’ for him and he would know what the hell actually went on – while he was smiling and nodding like a bobble-head-doll – his go-to response to nearly everything that confuses him.

Possibly my favorite incident was him telling me he had been sent to see a man ‘Bernard’ about some work. Anyone that knows Australian’s, know we often talk fast and run our words together. This resulted in my husband hearing the man in question’s name as ‘Bertie’.

To be fair, though we would pronounce ‘Bernard’ as ‘Ber-ned‘, in the USA it would be pronounced ‘Ber-Naarrd’. So he could not have possibly correlated the two in such a fast exchange. He apparently asked the referring guy the man’s name twice, he was so unsure of what was said. He didn’t want to ask a third time and risk looking like a moron, so he didn’t.

‘Bertie’ it would be.

He walked to the appropriate department and asked for ‘Bertie’,’ as he explained to me later, “I mumbled the name, hoping they would understand what I meant, because I really wasn’t sure Bertie was correct either.”

Having them realize his confusion and be gracious about it was not going to happen in this lifetime. These are Australian men, ‘paying out’ on someone (laughing at them) is somewhat of a national pastime, and the new American guy would not be exempt from their mockery.

Bertie,” the guy said in a ‘Ernie and Bert’ style voice. “You’re looking for Bertie? Hey guys, Ernie here is looking for Bertie!” Laughter ensued all round when it was made clear who he was searching for, and how it all went so wrong. It was of course all in good fun, and to this day whenever he walks into this particular place of business someone always says in their best ‘Sesame Street’ voice, “Hi Bert!”

I can only imagine his pleasure.

My personal enjoyment has come from the term ‘serviette’ instead of ‘napkin’, which refers instead, to a lady’s sanitary item. This has understandably resulted in my husband getting more than a few odd looks, when he asks for one in a restaurant. (Though I will concede the times, they-are-a-changing, and more people are using this term in the cities.) His issues have come about primarily in our country town more often than the cities, where they are a little more forward and with-the-times.

I didn’t tell him for the first few weeks, it was just too much fun to watch.

Once I caved and confessed the actual meaning and thus the reason for the odd and distasteful looks he was receiving, the term ‘serviette’ became his new best friend. As a result, I imagine there are a lot less waiters on their breaks talking about the weird American dude and his penchant for ladies personal items to be supplied with his dinner. Sadly though, it’s not nearly as much fun for me.

His integration to this country became solidified, a few weeks ago at a local poker game in a pub.

Some guy called across the table and asked what part of Ireland he was from. He told me he hesitated at first – vaguely unsure of himself – before responding that he was not in fact from Ireland, but from the USA (a fact that would be obvious the moment he opened his mouth almost an hour before when the game started).

It was clear to me as he retold this story, that the guy was just being an ass.

“I waited a few minutes for the next hand to be dealt out” he continued.  “Then I cheerfully turned to the same guy and said, “So what part of New Zealand are YOU from?” The crowd broke up into gales of laughter and I was slapped on the back more than a few times.”

(Calling an Australian a New Zealander is akin to calling an American a Canadian or vice-versa. In other words, it’s not too appreciated at best, and insulting at worst. You can imagine how it was intended for our fellow poker player. Touch’e was the comment that came to mind.)

I looked at him in that moment with a kind of awe. “You’ve done it,” I said, “you’ve successfully become a real Australian in less than 2 years, all on your own! You’re like some kind of phenomenon.”

Call me crazy, but knowing what mineral we mine the most of, who the prime minister was in 1943 and how long our dingo fence is, shouldn’t be on the citizenship test. I don’t know the answer to these questions and I’m as ‘dinky-di-true-blue’ (Australian) as they come.

The test should instead be a melding of theory – Can you read and write English? Can you recite the lyrics word-for-word of Jimmy Barnes “Working Class Man?” – And the practical.

The practical can be a scenario just like this one. Pick up on the social cues and give as good as you get. If you fail, you are sent back home immediately, because if you weren’t, you would drown a slow and torturous social death, in the aftermath of your social confusion anyway.

We’re thoughtful like that.

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Socially Acceptable Addictions

I don’t understand people’s addiction to illicit drugs.

I had only one very brief foray into the world of drugs in my younger years (excepting my more recent dally with Tylenol PM, – the new gateway drug), and I’ve had more than a few conversations about procuring drugs with my Street Cred – but overall – I just don’t get it.

I mean, I get the concept of addiction and all, but I don’t understand how anyone tries illicit drugs in the first place knowing that;

a) if they get a bad batch, they could die

b) if they’re lucky enough not to drop dead from the high, they will almost certainly be jonesin’ for another hit soon enough, and it may well eventually lead to the demise of their finances, lifestyle and all meaningful relationships.

On the other hand, there are these new kinds of addictions popping up all over the place now. Things like Facebook, Wii, Slot Machines (we call them Pokie machines here in Australia, and they are in almost all bars), TV, computers, and of course shoe shopping (who, me?).

These new addictions didn’t exist 50 years ago. Either the concept didn’t exist or the ability to feed it didn’t. (Lets face it, old ‘Marge’ couldn’t have an addictive shoe shopping habit in the 1950’s even if she had wanted to, there was probably only one store in town that sold a variety of 5 different kinds of shoes. Poor Marge.)

These are not my shoes. There is no way all my shoes would fit into a camera viewfinder. (This girl must have carb addictions instead.)

These are known as socially acceptable addictions, and may well ruin your finances, relationships and lifestyle – but your friends will be cheering you on, even taking part with you -as you spiral into your dark pit of despair (or elation, depending on where you’re at with the disease).

Other than shoe shopping, my biggest ‘in the closet’ socially acceptable addiction, is the demonic force of chocolate. It has been calling my name for close to 30 years, and I have maintained my dedication to answering that call. I am not in denial, I am hyper-aware of my inability to just-say-no.

As I’ve explained to my husband, if someone told me tomorrow I could never have chocolate again because of some fatal chocolate-allergy I had inherited, I truly don’t know if it would be possible for me to white-knuckle my way to sobriety.

I would never look this absurd when eating chocolate. I may look this deranged if I were forced to give it up though.

That being said, my inability to say no to the great and powerful cocoa bean, is the universal reason I never got involved with other habits that I knew could be addictive, so its influence can’t be all bad.

I was exposed to drugs as a teen, but never tried them. (My marijuana smoking episode at 19 doesn’t count, it’s practically a right of passage through to ones 20’s.)

While I’d like to claim super teen intelligence, or moral ethics, in reality it was a much less honorable decision, made up of three very distinct parts;

1. I was afraid that I would be the one to get the ‘bad batch’ and I’d die, and my parents would be super-mad that they’d have to explain to their friends and family what a dumb-ass they had raised.

2. If I didn’t die I’d be a vegetable, and my parents would be super-mad that they’d have to explain to their friends and family what a dumb-ass they had raised.

3. I’d get addicted instantly and I’d want more and I wouldn’t be able to afford it, which would necessitate me having to steal from my parents. After they found out and reported me to the authorities (as only my parents would), they would be super-mad they’d have to explain to their friends and family what a dumb-ass they had raised.

That’s it. My sole reasons for never trying drugs. Fear of being thought of as a dumb-ass by my parents and their friends, if it should all go terribly wrong. Potential death, vegetative state and jail-time, never even came into the equation.

Now as an adult of course I can sample all the illicit drugs my heart desires with no concern about my parents and their friends, because it would be my husband dealing with his dumb-ass wife, not them.

The problem now is I can’t even afford the first hit, ’cause I’ve spent all our money on shoes.

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How Do You Like ‘Dem Apples?

Nectarine

Image via Wikipedia

Picture the scene if you can….

7:30am summertime. (School is on vacation so I’m still asleep, but hubby is up because he has to go to work.)

Kiddo says he is hungry, and could he have an apple?

Hubby goes to the fridge, and peels and cuts an apple for our son. He gives it to him and walks away.

Moments later, my son comes into the bedroom and I hear the whining; “Daddy this apple doesn’t taste like the apples mummy cuts up for me…I don’t like it.”

[The opportunity for sleep is gone with all the action, coupled with the fact that the two boys in my life sound like a herd of raging elephants when they walk around the house, so I give up on sleep and get out of bed to investigate.]

I view the offending ‘apple,’ and see immediately what the problem is.

My husband has peeled and cut up a nectarine for our son.

I mean, really?? Think about that for a minute. Do you know how hard it would be to peel a nectarine? They are soft and squishy and not created to be peeled. The mess when he peeled and cut it must have been extraordinary!

It’s one thing to mistake a nectarine for an apple as you pick it up – who am I to judge? But to peel and cut the whole thing up, never once during the process stopping to think; “hmm… this doesn’t look/taste/smell/feel like an apple, perhaps I have the wrong fruit?

Then we get to the HUGE-ASS STONE in the middle…what on earth did he put that down to?

The whole concept of such colossal failure is beyond me. I can’t express my incredulousness to you. I really can’t. I didn’t even say much to him, I just kind of looked at him thinking; who are you, and how did you function in life before you met me?

The next day I found my voice and after ribbing him mercilessly, he began to claim the reason he thought it was an apple was that it was “so early and I had just woken up.”

Uh huh. That’s right, sleep deprivation was the problem here.

I blame his mother. She is responsible for this disgrace. By his own admission he was never fed nectarines when he was growing up. If you listen to him, all he ate was Doritos’ and M & M cookies slathered in a little spray cheese. (The Doritos, not the cookies – at least that’s what I assume he meant.)

Still, on the positive side it tells me that I am needed.

Without me, my son might be eating ice packs instead of ice cream, cardboard instead of toast, eggplant instead of eggs, and uncooked quinoa instead of cereal. Clearly they cannot get by without me, and though we mothers know this in the depths of our hearts, I have never had the evidence thrust before me in such a shameful display before.

As it stands, no matter how fat my life insurance policy, I simply cannot die. They won’t survive in the wilderness that is the 21st century – you know – with all its confusing fruits and vegetables and stuff.

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The Humble Iron is Not Like An AK-47

Image by John Kasawa

A few weeks after we arrived in Australia, my sister and her boyfriend came to spend a weekend at the beach with us. They live inland and don’t get to the beach often, so it was a great weekend of sun, sand, surf, and catching up.

It was the last day of their trip, and the boyfriend pulled out an ironing board and iron, to iron his shirt.

My kiddo walked by, and asked him what it was he was holding.

“What, this?” said the boyfriend,  holding up the iron. “It’s an iron!”

“What does it do?” kiddo asks in all sincerity.

(The boyfriend is flabbergasted by the turn of events.)

“You iron things with it. It makes your clothes neat. Have you seriously never seen your mother use an iron?”

(Kiddo is somewhat perplexed, but losing interest fast, given that the strange object wasn’t a toy, chocolate or a something to pull apart.)

“No, she doesn’t use that thing, our clothes are already neat.”

I actually heard this conversation from the other room and tried to dodge the proverbial bullet, by escaping into the kitchen – without a confrontation – but had no such luck and was  accosted by an incredulous boyfriend near the refrigerator. He gave me the rundown, and demanded an explanation as to how an almost-seven-year-old did not know what an iron was, nor what it did.

Valiantly, I explained about the miracle and wonders of dry cleaning in America, (where I had lived for the preceding 10 years). In the USA dry cleaning is cheap, efficient, easy to access (most have drive through windows) and thus, used regularly by me. If the truth-be-told, my son had probably never even seen me use an iron.

Here in Australia, (The boyfriend will be pleased to know), I iron all the time and the kiddo has now become intimately familiar with it, as I curse my way through his school shirts. Some bright spark on the board of his institution – in their infinite wisdom – decided that it would be a fantastic idea to put 7-year-old boys in white, button up, crisp cotton collared shirts, for school (along with a tie, no less)!

This necessitates me washing and ironing on a weekly basis. These shirts get indescribably dirty, requiring the use of industrial-grade stain remover (and shirt replacements every couple of months), due to the stubborn marks that appear and defy all laws of stain removal.

My grandmother always says; “You’re never to young to learn,” and since my love of old quotes is far greater than my love of ironing, I’ve decided to pass the baton and allow kiddo to experience the thrill himself.

That said, can anyone tell me the legalities involved in allowing a 7-year-old to use an iron? I mean, it’s not like it’s an AK-47, I couldn’t get arrested, right?

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