Monthly Archives: May 2012

Teens must choose their own path; and run over anyone who gets in the way

Newborn babies make me cry. Beautiful sunsets make me cry. Weddings — especially some of my own — make me cry.

But nothing makes me cry like teenagers, especially teens who have passed their driver’s test. But what brings me to my knees is seeing the insurance premiums for two newly licensed teens — the result is all out convulsing, gut-wrenching, snot-running sobbing.

I subscribe to the sage advice of two late, great female humorists who said, “The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires,” (Dorothy Parker) and, “Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth,” (Erma Bombeck).

It turns out I don’t have the let the air out of the tires – the high cost of petrol has taken care of that.

When my youngest got his license at the age of 16, he ran out of gas within 48 hours.


He was forced to hoof it for about two miles.

We used to find his little used S-10 randomly abandoned everywhere when he ran out of gas. I once had to walk around it in the middle of the driveway. My car and his 18-year-old brother’s car were blocked in for 24 hours until he scraped up enough change on his floor to buy gas.

The 18-year-old didn’t seem to run out of gas so frequently. This is because either: a) he has a part-time job and has more readily available cash; b) he’s learned the economical skill of siphoning; or c) he has a lot of down driving time because he tends to crash into things.

My fairly frequent and frantic one-sided phone conversations with my two youngest and other involved parties sounded something like this:

To the 16-year-old: “No, don’t drive to school. It’s four blocks! I don’t care. Use an umbrella. Since when are they only for sissies? When I was your age, I couldn’t afford gas or a car. Heck, I couldn’t afford a bicycle. I walked miles to school and … Hullo? … Hullo?”

To the 18-year-old: “So, had you noticed your brakes acting funny before this happened? Through the hedge over the fence and then hit the neighbor’s truck? The neighbor to the south? The important thing is that you aren’t hurt and you didn’t run over the neighbor … You didn’t run over the neighbor, right? Yes, you still have to go to school. Just walk. That’s where you use those appendages called legs and put one in front of the other. I’ll come home and call the insurance company. When I was a teen, I wasn’t  lucky enough to have a car. I sometimes had to Pogostick to school … Hullo?”

To the police: “That’s it – the Buick on top of the fence with the front end kinda sitting on top of the neighbor’s truck. No, that bumper was already ripped off from last month when he hit his grandpa’s fence. Oh yeah, the back window was already broke out after he locked his keys in the car and couldn’t think of a better way to get inside.”

To the wrecker service: “That’s right, the Buick on top of the fence and the neighbor’s truck. The start key is broke off in the ignition. Just insert a screwdriver in there and give it a little twist to the right and then jiggle it until it starts.”

To the neighbor to the south: “In another life I was childless. Really.”

To the 16-year-old: No more money for gas! There’s a thing in America called a j-o-b. When I was your age I walked to Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, planting apple tree seeds and wearing a pan on my head … okay, okay, that was Johnny Appleseed, but you get my point.”

To the 18-year-old: “Good grief! Your accelerator stuck and it’s been sticking for six months?! You drove through a two neighbors’ yards and crashed into a cement post? The same neighbor? No? Oh, the ones to the north. That’s good. A different set of neighbors. The important thing is you are not hurt and no one was in their yards or sitting on the post, right? Right? I’ll be right there. Yes, you will be late, but you are going to school. Yes – just walk. When I was your age … Hullo?”

To the wrecker service: “Yes, the same Buick you towed a few weeks ago, only this time it’s on top of a fence post near the two neighbors to the north. Remember how to jiggle the ignition? Nothing’s changed. Well, except if you need something from the trunk, go in through the back seat,  because the latch is broken.”

To the police: “Yes, I know, I know. This time it’s a different neighbor. What do you mean? Yes, I’m serious. No, I haven’t considered changing his name from Christopher to Crashtopher, but thanks for the suggestion. Are you laughing? My son could have been hurt!”

To the neighbors to the north: In another life, I was completely sane. Really.”

To the 16-year-old: “Okay, so far you are a better driver than your brother, but don’t get all smug. It’s only because you’ve never had enough gas to drive more than 12 feet. And no, I won’t reward you with $20.”

With the radio: “All of a sudden, a rod started knockin’, down in the depths, she started a-rockin’ … Well, they arrested me and put me in jail, I called my mama to make my bail, and she said, ‘Son, you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t stop driving that hot – rod – Lincoln.’ “

Or Buick.

To the insurance company: (in my best Dr. Evil voice) “So, two teens plus two wrecks equals two meeellllyun dollars?”

To the bartender: “Give me another. I’m walking.”

by viv sade, a woman constantly in search of her lost youth and car keys.

Finally, New Year’s Resolutions That I Can Keep

by viv sade

For the first time in my life, I decided this year not to have the same old New Year’s resolutions that always manage to crash to the earth and die a horrible death by Jan. 3rd.

I am happy to say that it is almost June and I have succeeded at accomplishing all of my resolutions for 2012.

I do hereby resolve in the year 2012 that I will POSITIVELY, ABSOLUTELY do the following:

1. Get one year older.

2. At least once a week forget the names or ages or birthdays of my kids or siblings.

3. When writing a check, I will actually sometimes forget the %$#@ year!

4. Sleep less (refer to #15).

5. Reveal what Victoria’s secret is.

6. Never forget to eat.

7. Belt any skinny chick who says, “I try to remember to eat, but I just forget.”

8. Never get on the scales when I remember and remember and remember and remember to eat.

9. Dance more. And not only when I’ve been over-served at the wine tasting bar.

10. Confuse my job with my life.

11. Fail to end world hunger.

12. Succeed at ending my hunger.

13. Quit acting like I’m enthralled when a politician wants to talk about tax abatements.

14. Quit acting like I’m enthralled when a politician wants to talk about anything.

15. Drink a minimum of eight pots of coffee a day.

16. Never admit that all restaurant menus are starting to look like this:




17. Leave the mementos in the shoebox marked, “Baby Boy, 1987” and throw away the new scrapbook and scrapbook supplies.

18. Never dress in buffalo pelts (proven to add 15 pounds), buy 100 pounds of beef jerky or an AK-47, even if the world is ending.

19. Throw off the guilt while feeling smug about myself when watching a “Hoarders” marathon.

20. Decline to join a nudist colony.

21. Continue passing off the dust bunnies under my bed as beloved stuffed animals from my childhood.

22. Call 1-800-Psychic and tell her she should already know my Visa number.

Questions parents ask

Is that my toothbrush in the toilet?

Why is the cat wearing a diaper and a T-shirt?

Is that real vomit or is it a concoction of mustard, ketchup and old bread like last time you skipped school?

You don’t really think you are going anywhere wearing that, do you?

Does anyone know why there’s a big snake in a shoebox on the dryer?

Anyone know why there are 27 For Sale signs in our yard?

Who sprayed the dog with gold glitter?

Are moms allowed in the No Grils Club?

Why would the neighbor call and want to know if I have homeowners insurance?

Who cut off all the miniblind cords and tied them in square knots?

Did you put that toad in the mailbox?

Do either of you know who spray painted “Chris and Ben live here” on the front sidewalk?

OK, who attached the remote control to the TV with a big wad of chewing gum?

Why does the dog smell like WD-40?

Why do you smell like WD-40?

Why is your underwear on the picnic table?

What were you thinking when you used a  weed whacker to try and cut your brother’s hair?

Why were you on the roof with the garden hose?

Can anyone tell me why there’s a police officer at the back door? Anyone?

If you were at your friend’s house all night, then why did her mother tell me she thought you were both over here for the night?

Which one of you told those nice Jehovah Witnesses that we are from the planet Zadknaucher and are not human?

How could you not know that if you throw a lava lamp at your sister’s face, it would break her nose?

Damn it! … Who drew the Batman symbol on the back of my new sofa?!

Did you know it would catch on fire and explode?

Think it was funny to put sweeper hickeys on your brother?

Why are there dead crickets in the toaster oven?

Who is responsible for those BB holes in the bay window?

Anyone know where the snake is that was in that box on the dryer?

by viv sade

And the walls, came tumbling down … tumbling, tumbling … down

Here’s one prom night some Churubusco teens will never forget.

My sister, Margaret, and her husband, Greg, created more than a few Saturday when they were entering a gaggle of teens, serving them dinner and taking pictures prior to The Big Event – the Churubusco Junior-Senior Prom. Little did they know they were about to give the kids a prom night they would never forget.

After dinner, they took the teens outside to pose on the balcony.

Here’s one of the photos of the first group of the younger kids – freshmen and sophomores:

The younger group pose on the deck in all their finery, not realizing it was a good thing to be young and first in line.

Here’s the progression of the second group and their photos — there were not many, as this happened almost immediately after they posed for the photo:

The second, older group right before after the Big Crack and just before the Big Crash. The expressions … priceless.
Greg cleans up the aftermath after first checking the details of his homeowner’s policy.

Luckily, no one was seriously hurt and they marched on to the prom. One guy had a rip in his tux, another had a cut, another was scraped up and there were multiple contusions.

All I’ve got to say is it’s pretty hard to walk in those skyscraper heels, but those lovely ladies fell and were covered in debris and still managed to land on their feet without breaking an ankle. And they still looked amazing! They all dusted themselves off and looked good as new  – not one hair out of place.

Should have used some of that hair spray to seal the deck.

Java Jump Jive an’ Wail

I’m in love – obsessed really.

It’s Juan Valdez, the attractive man known for leading a donkey laden with burlap bags of coffee beans through the hills of Columbia.

God, how I want those beans.

I find myself making up lame excuses, dressing up in my whole-latte jeans, then sneaking out and grabbing a good, old fashion jumbo mug of java, after claiming to be “off the sauce” or “almost-stimulant-free”.

It’s the thrill, the excitement of that initial buzz that keeps me going back for more. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t stop myself.

Oh Juan, why?

Afterwards I’m nervous, shaky and my heart feels like it’s going to burst out of my chest, but I find myself already planning my next dark roast adventure.

Hello. My name’s Viv and I’m addicted to caffeine.

It could be worse. I could be addicted to sex or drugs or alcohol or sniffing new crayons or the National Enquirer.

Oh wait, I am addicted to the National Enquirer. Of course, it’s just for the crossword puzzles. And if you buy that, my brother browses Penthouse for the highbrow political commentary.

The trouble is I don’t really notice when I cross that defining line and transform from a lethargic and pulse-free aging female to a Jump Jiving an’ Wailing junkie who gets light-headed from the flapping sound of her own rapidly blinking eyelids.

That’s the point when I become, well … my friends call it “edgy.” My enemies call it worse.

I decided to go cold turkey and just quit caffeine. It was the longest eight hours of my life.

¡Hola! soy Juan Valdez. En ella encontrará información sobre quién soy, lo que hago, el Café de Colombia y sobre los cafeteros.

6 a.m.: Got out of bed, sat on the couch, and fell back to sleep while putting on flip-flops.

7 a.m.: Drug myself into the bathroom and fell into coma-like stupor on the rug. Dreamed I was on a Folgers Cruise with Juan in the Isle of Maxwell.

8 a.m.: Came to with a RAGING, POUNDING headache. Decided to try to sleep it off.

8:01 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Slept.

1 p.m.: Had to do a load of laundry. Nodded off until my head hit the spin cycle. Maybe just half a cup? To take the edge off.

2 p.m.: Feel a little better after downing 4 ounces of strong brew. Read the National Enquirer with startling zoom shots of “Celebrity Cellulite in Curacao.” There was a sidebar recipe for a body scrub of coffee grounds and avocados that was guaranteed to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Hmmm … it had to work even better from the inside.

3-4 p.m.: Okay, okay, so I brewed a pot and drank the entire thing. Get off my back. The important thing is, I feel like my old self, albeit with dilated pupils and rapid heart rate, but   faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

4-5 p.m.: Decided to clean the closets and rearrange the stuff under all of the sinks.

5-8 p.m.: Brewed another pot of coffee. Been thinking of putting in larger patio slab; this seems as good of time as any. How hard can it be to form and frame a 12′ by 12′ square and mix and pour concrete?

8 p.m. –  midnight: Finally got some work done – 10 chapters! – on The Book That Will Never Be, plus I posted 10 status reports on Facebook, Twittered several mind-blowing thoughts, posted three recent craft projects on Pinterest and emailed  copies to all to my friends who refuse to engage in social networking.

1-3 a.m.: Can’t sleep. Might as well have a cup of coffee … I’m already awake. Called mom to ask what kind of stitch I should use for the binding on that quilt I started. Before she hung up on me she said if I called again at 2 p.m. she would call the police.

Geesh, what’s up with her? She’s kinda edgy.

Mom drives into the ocean after road trip with ADD kid and lethargic teen

Here are two good reasons to take a lethargic 14-year-old teen on a 12-hour road trip:

The 14-year-old and 12-year-old with their nephew, who lived near Washington.D.C. at the time.

1. I get the back seat and the fat pillow.

2. We’re there already? Wow, that was quick.

Here are 25 reasons not to take the same road trip with a hyperactive 12-year-old:

1. Is that a deer? Did you see that? Might have been a wolf. Looked kinda like a wolf, don’t you think?

2. How many miles have we gone? How many to go? Are we out of Indiana yet?

3. It’s hot in here. I gotta stick my head out the window.

4. Why does it say “slippery when wet?” Cause it’s not slippery when it’s dry? It could still be slippery if you spilled a pop or somebody spilled a tanker of oil or something. They should change the sign to just say “slippery.”

5. Did you see that? That guy had a gun. Well, it could have been a coffee cup, but it sure looked like a gun.

6. I can’t go to sleep cause I’m an in-som-knee-act. Do you think I could be an in-som-knee-act? Do you, mom?

7. Are we out of Ohio yet? How much longer?

8. Doesn’t in-som-knee-act sound like a good Halloween costume?

9. I CAN’T sleep. I’m not sleepy at all. Did you know snakes don’t have eyelids? I don’t think I have eyelids. Insomkneeacts don’t have eyelids; probably why they can’t sleep.

10. Did you see that guy? He looked just like that guy on America’s Most Wanted! He just drives around , murdering people

11. That sign says “Watch for ice on bridge.” There’s no ice – it’s soooo hot out. They should take that sign down, right, mom?

12. Did you see that kid in the back of that car? He stuck his tongue out at us. Catch up to them and I’ll do it back. Hurry, mom!

13. Are we out of Pennsylvania yet? How much longer?

14. There’s another “Scenic overlook ahead.” It’s dark but I bet we could still see some scenic stuff.  Maybe that murderer is there on the cliff and we can push him over and call the police. Okay, mom?

15. How much longer? How many states have we been to? How many more to go?

16. Harrisburg 200 miles?! We’ve been in Pennsylvania for a thousand miles already! We should have taken an airplane, right, mom?

17. Do you think when we are in Washington D.C. that we will see the president? I’ll bet we see the guys who watch him and they will have lots of guns.

18. If you got shot in the arm, would you die? How about in the leg? What about in the chest, not in the heart, but right here, look, mom – right here – would you die then?

19. Are we halfway there, yet? A fourth of the way? Three-fourths of the way? Fourteen eighteenths of the way? Three hundred and forty thousandths of the way?

20. How can we still be in Pennsylvania? We should be in the ocean by now!

21. Do you think if we missed the road to Washington, D.C. and drove into the ocean by mistake, the car would sink or float? Should I leave the window down so we can get out? Should I wake up Chris, just in case?

22. What if I fell out of the car right now? Would you stop? What if you slammed on your brakes and everyone behind you fell off the edge of this mountain?

23. Did you see that? It looked like a couple of mooses. But they don’t have horns. Well, maybe one did. Might have been an elk. What’s the difference between a moose and an elk?

24. Who picks up all the dead animals on the road? What do they do with them? Do the Dead Animal People take care of them if they are not all-the-way dead? Cause that would be mean if they didn’t, wouldn’t it?

25. How much longer? I’m not sleepy at all. This is fun, huh, mom? How much longer?


By viv sade

Who knows how the brain works – especially when it is not

The human brain is an amazing thing … especially when it’s working.

I wouldn’t know.

There are days when I cannot remember the names of my children.

But, I have no trouble remembering all of the words to a dirty limerick that Terry Hougendobler sang to me after we climbed to the top of an old dead tree in the Clay Pit on Pleasant Street when I was in the fourth grade.

P— Pot Pete, Came over the hill with 120 pounds …

Well, we won’t go there … it’s only Tuesday and too early for me to let loose with my weekend vino, tongue muscle fatigue and the bellowing of dirty ditties.

But I can’t remember if I ate breakfast and I can remember the Clay Pit and the dirty limerick? What the heck is that all about?

Oh yeah, I think it’s called Getting Old.

No way.

Stacy, Geoffrey, Christopher and Benjamin.

The names of my kids.

Terry Hougendobler.

I mean really, who the heck could remember that?!

Here’s to you Terry, for keeping my brain active — even into old age.