Thursday, June 30, 2005

D*mn the W!

Why do the Nationals have to have a cap with the cursive W on it?!

Every time I see one, I momentarily forget it's not about the President and think, "How many freakin' Republicans ARE there in this town??!!! And where are they getting all these hats?!!"

For that reason, among others, the Bambina will continue to wear only her Red Sox "B" cap when out and about. Until, of course, Joe Biden runs for President....

Barking Dog Update

The barking has ceased. The note must have worked. The neighbors have passed the noise test. But will they pass the psycho dog test?

I bumped into the owner (who just returned from a state dept. stint overseas) yesterday while the bambina was walking me up and down our street by one finger (which she insists on holding onto even though she is clearly walking and balancing of her own volition). I asked her about the dogs, who seemed very well-behaved. She said, "Well, they're a little rambunctious these days. The two large ones are street dogs from Pakistan, so they are having a little trouble adjusting."

You think?!!

"Street dogs." Hmmm... Or should we say "feral"?! No sooner had she said, "Yeah, they don't really like other dogs," than one walked down the street and they went absolutely wild--barking, growling, jumping, straining at the leash--all the usual signs that you should get your 13-month old baby away from the dingoes.

So from the distance that I immediately put between the bambina and Cujo I and II, the owner apologized and said, "Well, hopefully they'll calm down soon so your daughter can pet them." I said, "Sounds great!" but I was thinking, "not a freakin' chance in hell, lady."

I now truly believe the old adage that Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.
Big, high, double-reinforced fences.

Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren

That is a license plate I used to see all the time in the 80's. I often wondered what it meant, and precisely what kind of person would take the time to find two bolts and two nuts and attach it to the front of their Dodge Aries or their Mercury Cougar with what little strength they had left in them. I have since realized in the past 4 months that were such a license plate available today, my father would buy three: one for the car, one for his apartment window, and one to wear sandwich-board style around his neck.

To wit: I took my dad for coffee at the Panera near "Del Boca Vista" since I couldn't bear to watch him down one more 5oz. white styrofoam cup of Chock Full O'Nuts coffee from his building's social area "kitchen." It even SMELLED bad; like old cigarettes floating in rusty water...or something like that. So I put him in the vehicle and mandated a trip to an actual place that sells actual coffee. Not great coffee, but better than Chock Full O'Butts at the very least.

So we get there, I show him the miracle that is free wi-fi, and up he gets for a refill ("Can you believe this is a free refill, E? With free computer?! I'm sitting here and drinking coffee till I bust!"). I watch him walk to the coffee area, thinking, "What a cute wee man he is." UNTIL...DANGER!!...OH GOD NO!!..Two very attractive young Asian women are also walking to the coffee area. Oh dear god, please let him not notice. Come on Dad, keep looking down, keep looking down, come on back....OH NO! He's seen them. It's all over. It has happened again. Cue his now well-refined stump speech:

"Ladies! Hello! Tell me, are you Chinese?" If "yes," proceed with further remarks. If "no," hellwidit! Proceed with further remarks regardless: "Would you like to see a photo of my granddaughter? She's Chinese, you know. Isn't she a wee peach?! And that's her mother over there! Come and say hello!" And these bewildered women who were, more often than not, born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland to Vietnamese or Korean parents, come traipsing over to say hello to a strange woman who is the mother of a Chinese baby.

Well. That was awkward, wasn't it?

The Panera Incident as it is now called, broke me. I was a bit harsh on my wee Dad, because I don't want him to go on and on about my daughter being Chinese and accosting random Asians to inquire as to their ethnicity while he's at it. I just got so mad at him for bringing up her ethinicity AGAIN and for rudely asking about other people's ethnicity. I went on and on about how it's rude to ask someone about their ethnicity, and how that is precisely what I don't want my daughter to have to deal with throughout her life ("mom, some weird old dude came up to me to show me pictures of his chinese grandbaby..."), and could he please stop with the Chinese stuff over and over again?

Short story long: I'm a jerk. He looked so hurt, and just said, "But I wanted to show her off," to which I replied, "and that would be fine if you stopped random white people to show pictures of your other three grandkids..." and then stopped myself. Because guess what? He does that too. In the end he did hear me on the ethnicity inquiries, although he declared as a proud Scotsman that "Americans are so uptight about that stuff; it's not like it's a secret that you are Asian or Latino, right? So why the agro about being asked?" But he promised to not do that anymore to avoid any international incidents. What he just couldn't understand, however, was why I was infringing on his grandparental rights; why I was not going to Let Him Tell You About His Grandchildren.

And he's right. Absent the engaging of Asians exclusively, I need to get over him showing off his grandkids even if it embarrasses me. I was mad at him for the above reasons, but--if I'm really honest--I was mad at him for making me feel like I was in junior high all over again. You remember those days, right? The days where you truly believed that your parents embarrassing you was out of your control and inevitable. Where you felt certain that your parents' weirdness was reflecting on you and tainting your reputation, and you felt minimized by their overenmeshment in your life.

And then you grew up and realized that embarrassment is a construct of your own mind; you create the feeling based on your own fear of your own shortcomings rather than on someone else's shortcomings reflecting on you. I had to remind myself of that at Panera. I had to remind myself that, just as in junior high school, I was feeling embarrassment about my dad's actions even though the other people involved found him eccentrically charming. I also had to remind myself that my daughter is in fact Chinese. And that maybe I need to worry less about some potential future slight she may face, and instead worry about being a good daughter to a very well-meaning, if truly batty, Proud Grandpa. Family is family; you accept them as they are. THAT'S the lesson I should want my daughter to learn, because with that kind of foundation, she will grow up to be the gracious young woman in a Panera who makes an old man's day because she Lets Him Tell Her About His Grandchildren...even the caucasian ones.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Meeting John Ashcroft

So I said hello to John Ashcroft today.

Yep. Out walking the bambina in her stroller when a little toddler boy yells from a garden, "Hiya!!" So I look over and say, "Hiya cutie pie!" to the little guy. Just as the words are leaving my mouth I notice that he is being held in the arms of none other than former attorney general John Ashcroft.

It was a very funny moment for two reasons: a) because I could tell that he thought for a brief second that I was waving at and talking to HIM, by the "oh my god a crazed stalker" look of terror on his face which immediately softened when he noticed the little boy waving like crazy toward me and the bambina; and b) because as this was happening I was imagining an alternate plane of existence where the meeting would go very differently, and it was making me laugh to myself.

The real thing ended with Us Girls waving and moving on, as if nothing had happened. For the sake of the Alternate Ending, it is important to note that I was wearing an army green canvas-y skirt, black flip flops and my treasured vintage black sleeveless Rizzo from Grease T-shirt. It has a screen print of Stockard Channing on it, with the word "FONGOOL!" written in hot pink above it. I love the shirt because---well, it's a whole other post--but suffice to say I love this shirt. I also like it because it, put delicately, fits in such a way as to perhaps suggest just a hint of additional boobage than may in reality be present. "Eeeeeee-xcellent, Simpson!"

The alternate ending involved a dialogue with F.A.G. (Former Attorney General) Ashcroft, as he likes to be called, marching toward me with his finger waving, bellowing, "Young lady, am I to understand that your garment bears the word 'fongool'? What kind of mother are you? Have you no shame? To have the word 'fongool' shouting to passersby, many of whom are children, from the mantle of your heaving bosom, is nothing less than a disgrace!" At this point, he snapped his fingers and about 20 government worker minions ran toward me with draping, and covered up my shirt, the word Fongool, and my heaving bosom with a "modesty panel."
I then served as the backdrop for his next press conference.

Man, I LOVE living on Capitol Hill!

Barking Dog Torture

You've heard of Chinese Water Torture. You've heard of The Rack. You've heard of the electrodes on the privates torture. You've heard of Crying Baby on Airplane torture. Is it just me, or is there also Barking Dog Torture?

We have new neighbors two doors down. Really seemingly nice people. Three dogs. Big dogs. In a 15x15 yard. The dogs are out all day while the owners are away. Would you think I was lying if I told you that all three dogs bark NONSTOP for NINE HOURS until the owners come home? NINE HOURS. NONSTOP. If one dog stops to take a breath, the other two are still at it.

I honestly don't know how much longer I can take it.

And I am someone who LIKES dogs. Especially big ones.

But I just can't take the noise anymore. It is like a freaking hammer to my skull for 540 minutes each day until they come home from work. Last week was beautiful weather: 73 degrees every day with a nice breeze. I opened all the windows and doors to get the fresh air in and was just lovin' life....until...8:30am when the barking started. And then did not stop. 9am. 9:30am. 10:30am. All the way to 12:30pm when it was the bambina's afternoon nap time when I had to close all the windows on her side of the house because she couldn't settle down and get to sleep with all the ruckus going on outside. So on a beautiful day, I had to close all my windows and turn on the AC so that a) my kid could get to, and stay, asleep and b) so I could stop thinking about how someone might lose their mind and throw some rat poison milkbone over that g*****n fence. It's a terrible thing to think, but if you can imagine NINE HOURS--32,400 seconds--of three dogs' constant barking to the extent that you cannot open your windows, cannot sit outside, cannot hear yourself think, then it starts to be an understandable evil fantasy.

I was thinking it was just me, until I saw three separate neighbors come down the alley and ask which house all the barking was coming from. I felt a little less evil, realizing that the noise really actually was so unbearable that people were leaving their homes and walking down an alley to find the source.

So--what to do, dear readers? My plan is to go knock on their door and tell them that I'm concerned for their dogs because "they are obviously in distress all day while you are gone, since they bark unremittingly for 9 hours." Then wait and see what the reaction is. If it was my dog, I'd feel just awful to hear that a) my dog was barking himself hoarse for a full day, and b) my neighbors were beginning to hate him--and me--because of it. Surely you can train a dog not to bark, right? Can you keep them inside? Can you recognize that you bought a rowhouse in the city that is wholly unconducive to giving three large dogs the space they need?

What would you do? I want to go in assuming that they will be genuinely surprised to hear that the dogs bark and that they will want to do something to fix it. But I need to be prepared for them to take offense on behalf of their dogs and chalk me and my neighbors up as dog haters, even though I myself am nothing of the sort.

Although I will say that 3,740 hours of barking could understandably turn me into one. HELP!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fantasy Supreme Court Nominee

It's just like Fantasy Football, where you pick your Dream Team.

Who would you pick for the next Supreme Court Justice? The Wall Street Journal has the real-life shortlist at 5:

Michael McConnell from the Denver 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (major issue: wants to overturn Roe v. Wade)

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (major issue: seen as too liberal by conservatives for not being tough enough on Roe v. Wade; would be first Latino appointment to the Court)

John Roberts of the DC Circuit has spent most of his career in private practice and therefore has limited documentation of his views. (Major issue: currently sitting on a three-judge panel considering the government's appeal of a ruling that the Geneva Conventions apply to Gitmo).

Harvie Wilkinson of Fourth Circuit in VA and Michael Luttig, also of the Fourth Circuit. Both conservative---duh---and both supportive of the President having the power to deny legal recourse to US Citizens detained as enemy combatants.

Should be an interesting nomination process...

In the meantime, who would you--in your wildest dreams--like to see on the Court? Mario Cuomo? Bruce Babbitt? Sam Nunn? Lance Ito? Joseph Wapner?

Let's hear your choices!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Former First Lesbian

If you believe Ed Klein's new book, you now swear on your mother's life that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian. Niiiiice.

Based on what? Because she likes power? Because she inexplicably stays with a philandering husband? Because she HAS a philandering husband? Because she doesn't wax girly in public? Because she has a desire for her own career and success independent of her family's? Because she says what she thinks?

Oh yeah. Definitely lesbian...If you still think it's 1950.

Think about it. By these standards--liking power, having a desire for career, refusing to emote publicly for the entertainment of others, staying with boyfriends/partners who are unfaithful to the disbelief of all your friends, refusing to toe the line on what our country's ideal of what a woman should be--then The Haggis is a big fat glorious lesbian.

That's right! I must be a big lesbo! Why hasn't anyone written the tell-all expose of how I must absolutely love to have crazy lesbian sex with women based on my last name, my desire to have a career, my refusal to leave a man who cheated--regularly--because I loved him (likely lesbian cover story!), my refusal to publicly emote in a "female-appropriate" way, my habit of telling friends I love them even if they are women...I'm sure Ed Klein can build the case against my purported heterosexuality quite easily.

Even some conservative outlets are not touching this one. Which ought to tell you something, since the right has rarely bothered about truth or decency in reporting...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

More Thoughts on (Grand)Fathers

This made me laugh hysterically. Which ought to tell you what my childhood was like...or maybe just what my sense of humor is like.

Conan O'Brien:
I'm one of six children, and when you travel in a pack like that, your early memories of your father all involve discipline. For the longest time, my dad was simply a black-haired arm reaching into the backseat of the car to grab one of us...My father believed in frontier justice. He'd say, "I don't know who broke the clock in the front hall, so you're all going to be punished." It seemed unfair at the time, but now that it has become the basis for our country's foreign policy, I'm starting to think he was on to something.

Now I get to see my daughter with my father, which is hilarious. My father has morphed into this kindly, patient, fun-loving grandfather. The only time he's going to be reaching into the backseat to get at Neve is to hand her a chocolate bunny. It's completely unfair.

Someday my dad will be taking Neve off to the circus and I'll be shouting after her, "You don't get it, kid. In 1974 this guy was Stalin!" Of course, many people say that grandparents get all the fun of parenting with none of the responsibility, but I have my own theory. It has been scientifically proven that testosterone levels in men start falling in their late 20s, so the enforcer we know as kids mellows over time and becomes the kindly, doting grandfather. I'm already a much kinder, more relaxed dad today than I would have been in my 20s.

Of course, my testosterone levels started falling when I was 11, so by the time my daughter is in college I'll technically be her grandmother. Won't that be nice!

Flunking Father's Day Felicitations

Has anyone else noticed the shocking lack of imagination shown by the greeting card and tchotchke gift industry when it comes to producing gifts for Father's Day? In my quest to find an appropriate Father's Day card (i.e., funny but not dirty, sincere but not schmaltzy) I must have looked at no fewer than 85 cards trying to find one that did not reference one of the following three things, none of which reflect my dad's current interests:

1) Golf
2) Fishing
3) Tools/Handyman

3a would probably be "Grilling" but I'll let that go for the sake of tackling the others.

I am not saying that a decent number of people do not golf (26 million US golfers), fish (44 million recreational anglers) and do home improvement projects (who knows). But if you consider that the US population is around 300 million people, that means that only 14% of Americans fish and about 8% golf. Of that 14% and 8%, not all are men and not all are fathers. So what gives with the constant barrage of golfing and fishing paraphernalia for these holidays?!

Think about it. There are any number of activities in which a guy might participate (ie, I've gone golfing, I'm going fishing with a buddy, etc), but how many guys REALLY do it so much and to such an extent that they are defined by it? How many would find it appropriate to put the Super Golfer Dad photo frame on their desk at work or to wear the Kiss My Bass T-shirt to the Father's Day brunch?

I just don't get the national obsession with equating men's holidays with golf and fishing. How about sailing? How about bike riding? How about gardening? How about guitar playing? Or--hey--here's a novel concept in 2005! How about video gaming?! Cooking? There are so many ways in which men amuse themselves (some of which I agree should not be illustrated on a photo frame of the wife and kids) that I cannot believe the Hallmark-Tchotchke industrial complex has not caught up to the new realities of being a man, a father and a husband, ie, just like women, men have the freedom to break out of old roles and try new things.

In the end, I found one that was not a Father's Day card at all, but just one of those Blank Inside cards that had a father and daughter black and white photo on the outside. After reading through all of the "sorry for all the grey hairs I gave you!" and "sit down and put your feet up--you know, like every other day" yuks, I just figured I could say it better myself:

Dad, you rock. Always have. Even when I didn't realize it. In fact, looking back, the exact moments where I felt like you were the "least rocking" of all dads in history, were actually the precise moments when I can now see that you were doing your job perfectly. Thank you for not letting me go on car dates at 15 years old. Thank you for insisting when I turned 16 that all boys picking me up for dates come into the house and not simply honk their horn. Thank you for making clear that you hated some of my boyfriends and had no plans to let them near me as long as you were breathing. My adolescent brain hated you for it, but my adolescent heart felt protected and loved. Thank you for teaching me to change the oil, change a flat tire, pee into a busted car radiator, build a deck, grow vegetables in the garden, and make a little bit of money go a long, long way--for the simple reason that you were "not going to raise a bunch of helpless females." As you said at the time, I will never be at the mercy of a man or circumstances for my livelihood. I will always be able, no matter what happens, to fix my car, feed my kids, and keep my home in good repair. Mission Accomplished, Dad.

I'll be over to fix your A/C tomorrow... :)
Love, E

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Are Jews Smarter?

Um. I'm going to say "NO" based on the decision of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles to publish a front page that asked--in bold lettering--that same question.

Guys--are we TRYING to look like d***heads?

I picked up the paper to read the article because I was so embarrassed at what non-Jews would think if they just walked by and read nothing but that cover page. The article was about a study of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews (mercifully conducted by a gentile, at least). It showed that these subjects scored 12%-15% higher on IQ tests than others, but were also more susceptible to diseases like Tay-Sachs, Gaucher, etc.

In the end, the article itself was not really offensive, jingoistic or self-congratulatory at all. It discussed the discomfort of some Jews in even having this discussion because it was reminiscent of eugenics discussions from Nazi Germany (ie, "all Jews are...fill in the breeding, which means we can breed those qualities out of people.") It said that if the results were accurate that it was a bit of a triumph and tragedy, in that certain diseases were also more prevalent. etc etc etc.

Besides the fact that the study is quite flawed if you look at the methodology, I was absolutely dumbfounded that a Jewish publication would put such a religion-baiting question on its front cover--when the article wasn't even about that in the first place. My friend who was with me did reassure me that anyone who would read that title and think "D*mn Jews" would more than likely think that anyway, with or without a newspaper to "justify" it. True. But do we need to go out of our way to be obnoxious at the same time?

I know I'm going to be accused of self-hatred for even writing this, but I come from a "both sides of the aisle" background so I have a pretty detailed understanding of what it's like to know NOTHING about Judaism, and about how nonsense or outdated factoids become the sum total of what little knowledge you do end up having. These inaccurate factoids are generally created as the result of one interaction with a Jewish person, a little snippet of something you hear on TV (ie, you aren't Jewish if your mother isn't) and assume applies to all Jews regardless of denomination, and, quite frankly, walking past a newsstand where the Jewish Weekly trumpets that Jews Are Smarter. If you had asked the average student in my average high school to describe a Jewish person or the Jewish culture, one of the descriptions would have been without a doubt, "they think they are better than you."

Please don't flame me and tell me that those people are ignorant and so not to worry about them. Ignorant people are EXACTLY the people to worry about. The neo-Nazis, we know where and who they are. The KKK, we know where and who they are. The random Joe on the street who (in the 3 minutes a year that he thinks about Jewish people) thinks they are arrogant, rich, insular, self-congratulatory holders of media power ? That's the guy we need to worry about. The guy who sees that front page and thinks, "hmpph--not surprising" is the guy who might not feel a real emotional pull to be late to work in order to protest my temple being spray-painted or kids wearing kippot being beaten up on the way home from school...or god forbid, people being loaded into trains for destinations unknown.

I'm not sure I'm articulating this very well. I'm not saying that any religion or ethnic group should live in the constant state of worrying about what the majority culture thinks of them. But I AM saying that I'd rather not feed the stereotypes that are already out there. Think of it another way: If you heard the whole drama about Bill Cosby impugning the "ghetto culture" and about how African-Americans need to talk better and be more attentive to the cultural situation they are creating for all African-Americans, and you thought "right on, Bill"--why not feel the same way about this?

African-Americans are not responsible for racism, neither are Jews responsible for anti-Semitism. No question. But you'd better believe I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure my kids don't fall into any traps that make them more open to being a victim of it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Your Next Spiritual Advisor

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of SS Haggis: Spiritual Advisor.

Yep. A Spiritual Advisor. Bill Clinton had several during his terms of office, and during the Monica contretemps. Jesse Jackson was interviewed by CNN with billing as "Michael Jackson's Spiritual Advisor." The list goes on and on. Every time a celebrity gets caught, literally or figuratively, with their pants down, it seems that they turn to the services of a Spiritual Advisor for cover.

It's as if having a spiritual person on retainer translates into being not guilty. I mean, how bad a pedophile could MJ be if he has a spiritual advisor, right?!! The man cares about his spirit! About his theology! About his spiritual growth! NO WAY could he have molested a kid; I notice the kid does not have a spiritual advisor. Doesn't his family CARE about spirituality?! They're probably lying then.

So it just seemed like a license to print money: many many people in many kinds of trouble, needing just that little something to help them dodge the law. The Haggis, my friends, is just that something. I'll pimp myself out to TV stations, shouting head talk radio, personal meetings, whatever and wherever I am needed to ensure that people know what a Deeply Spiritual person you are, and therefore innocent of all charges.

"Momentito, por favor, Senorita Haggis," you may be saying. "How can a Reform Jew with a twist of Presbyterian possibly advise members of the public at large who may not share that religious flavor?"

Good question. However, I simply point to Jesse Jackson, Baptist preacher, ministering to MJ, the Lapsed Jehovah's Witness, and I remain breathless with anticpation that I'll figure out something deeply spiritual to say to people of all religions. Perhaps: "Because of his deep spiritual integrity, my client will no longer allow young boys into his bed" and "my client will no longer allow young women into his oval office..."

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Caution: Contains Morons

Sign on the McDonald’s menu board at LAX: “New Apple and Walnut Salad only $4.99 plus tax. Contains nuts.”

Are people so stupid and litigious that this needed to be said?! “Contains nuts”??! Why not say “contains apples”? I could be deathly allergic to apples, you know. And god forbid I had a reaction and decided to sue McD’s for a lack of ingredient transparency on the grounds that only a reckless and wanton disregard for public safety would cause a company to not alert the consumer that an Apple and Walnut Salad contained apples. I mean, after all, they took the time to mention the nuts. It’s pure negligence to omit the mention of apples, is it not?

They'll be hearing from my lawyer...

Flying the Friendly Skies

Heard at the United ticket counter at LAX at 10:20pm last night:

Passenger: “This stupid machine is not letting me check in! What’s going on?!”
Attendant: “You have to be checked in at least 45 minutes before your flight in order to use this self-service kiosk, ma'am.
Passenger: “Are you stupid?! It’s not me! It’s the stupid machine! It won’t let me check in!”
Attendant: “You have to be checked in at least 45 minutes before your flight in order to use this self-service kiosk, ma’am. You are too late to check in here; you have to go to the staffed lines to check in, but I’m not sure you’ll make it.”
Passenger: “But my flight to Philadelphia is at 11:55! That’s more than an hour and a half away! What are you, stupid?! This is an outrage!”
Attendant: “No ma’am, I believe if you check your itinerary you’ll see that the flight is at 10:55.”
Passenger: “No! It’s at 11:55! No wonder you people are going bankrupt! G-d! So stupid! This is a f*&^%ing outrage! A total f%$#@ing outrage!”
Attendant: “Ma’am. I believe you will find the flight to be at 10:55.”
Passenger: “Let me just check the stupid f$%^&*ing itinerary and you’ll see that….oh. my. god. 10:55. So what the hell am I supposed to do now?!!!”

Moral of this story: If you are going to be a jerk and unleash a diatribe of expletives on an unsuspecting and well-intentioned service provider, at least be sure you are RIGHT. To do otherwise is, well, “a total f&)*^%ing outrage.”

Friday, June 10, 2005

WTF with the WC on the 747?

Right now I am on a flight to LAX for business. I just returned to my seat after making my post-beverage-cart trip to the lavatory (whereupon I remind you that tampering with or disabling smoke alarms is against federal regulations). One of the lavs was out of order, which left only one functioning. I was waiting behind a thirtysomething guy who offered to let me go first, which I found on its face to be quite lovely. However, the person who was currently occupying the lavatory was quickly approaching that time duration that creates discomfort among those waiting. You know what I mean: it’s like that 30-45 seconds beyond what a basic pee—even a long one—should take. It’s the extra time that tells you that the person is either ill or simply taking a very large dump in a very small toilet. Meaning that in either scenario, you just don’t want to be next in line.

So I said just that to the lovely guy: “Oh you are so sweet, but I’ve got to tell you that I’m not so sure I want to be the next one in since it’s taking so long.” The guy started laughing and said that he was thinking the same thing, which is why he offered me the option of preceding him in lavatory matters. I told him “nothin’ doin, Mr. Chivalrous.” And, don’t you know that even as we were having this discussion, Man #1 (or should we say #2?!!) was STILL in the lav. Gross!

As the line moved and I navigated the emanating effluence, I finally got to return to my seat as I wondered: who are the people who wait till they are on a plane to poop? We’ve only been in the air about an hour! Surely you felt it brewing while we were in the airport! Why not go then? Why wait till you are in a 2x2 water closet hurtling through the atmosphere at 500 miles an hour to relieve yourself? Why not get yourself the latest US Weekly and head for the furthermost stall at Dulles and take your sweet time? For heaven’s sake!

Maybe it’s a guy thing. I don’t know any of my female friends who view a poop as an opportunity to read Foreign Affairs or back issues of Architectural Digest. Mostly, we see is as a human function to be dispensed with as necessary. The men in my life, conversely, seem to view it in one—or more—of several ways: an act of life affirmation--“man! That was awesome!,” a confirmation that their health is good—“that was a colon cleanser!,” perhaps a brief oasis of quiet in an otherwise overbooked day—“I’ll help you as soon as I finish in the bathroom,” or perhaps, truly, a chance to catch up on reading. All of these are valid and wonderful reasons to Love The Poop. But WHY would you want to experience them in an airplane lavatory?

Perhaps the mechanics of pooping are different for men and women, i.e, I can pretty much tell when I have to go. I doesn’t surprise me or sneak up on me (barring illness of course), and I am perfectly adroit at having them have minimal impact on my life schedule. For men, I’m not so sure. In high school, all three of us drove in my brother’s car to school (a ’76 Caddie, baby! We was Big Pimpin!). Unfortunately, I was late more times than I care to remember simply because my brother would all of a sudden have to go to the bathroom 5 minutes before we had to leave to make it on time. What’s more, he took total delight in coming up with some new weekly nomenclature for what was about to occur: “I gotta go lay some cable,” “I gotta cut off a tail..” dear lord I could go on and on but it will only encourage him if he reads this. All of the men in my life are the same. How do they all of a sudden have to poop with seemingly no prior warning? Can’t men sense the signs of poopal percolation before ending up late for work/dinner/class?

If anyone has any insight (gentlemen!), I’d love to hear it.

In the meantime I am avoiding all further refreshments and beverages in order to forestall a round trip visit to The Lone Lav in Service for One Hundred Passengers. Bleeaaah!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Happy Bithday....Griswold?

You know how every family has the Drunk Uncle or the Paxil Addicted Aunt or the Overly Judgmental Sibling? You know, the relative that kind of embarrasses you but that you love regardless? The one you would never consider not inviting to the family barbeque, but who you just KNOW is going to do something to make themselves--and perhaps your family--look bad?

Well, what if all the organizations dedicated to family planning are, indeed, a family? It seems clear, then, that Planned Parenthood is our Uncle Drunky Pants.

What on earth were these lunatics thinking?! To celebrate the anniversary of the right of an American woman to make a personal decision about birth control, Planned Parenthood, the grande dame of women's reproductive health, decided to roll out waving, cheering STUFFED PILL replete with free cupcakes?!! They had a bunch of twentysomething women cheering "woo hoo!" as they handed out the cupcakes and regaled visitors to Union Station with their big stuffed Ortho Tri-Cyclen guy. (Kind of like the big Kool-Aid guy you remember from your childhood in the 80's, but just far less appropriate.)

Um, can we chat for a moment away from the kids, Uncle Drunky Pants? You know, I appreciate how you THOUGHT what you did would be funny and festive, but making light of something as important as reproductive rights in the current political climate just strikes me as inappropriate and borderline self-immolating. The 'Pubs already think we take abortion lightly, that the pill simply allows a bunch of urban hos to have sex with impunity, that the sex education and health care access that PP provides simply encourage promiscuous behavior. So, tell me, why get all jovial about Griswold v. Connecticut? PP's efforts are important and serious and necessary...and in danger of being hacked off at the knees by conservatives every single d*mn day of the year, and certainly not in the running for "most beloved public issue." So why trivialize Griswold with a misguided birthday celebration? Was that the best you could come up with? How many people did you have in the meeting? When exactly are you firing your fundraising/marketing agency? How much had you all had to drink when this plan was hatched?

I mean, every anniversary of any political or historical event could ostensibly be "celebrated" with a birthday. But would it be appropriate? Let's light the candles and sing Happy Birthday for the anniversary of The Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the release of the US hostages in Iran, the liberation of the Nazi deathcamps. Whaddaya say?! We'll have a big stuffed General Lee bobblehead character handing out slices of red velvet cake and mint juleps! Woo Hoo!

I guess you can tell I'm a bit stunned. For a bunch of smart women, this sure was a dumb idea.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cubicle Etiquette

In today's Washington Post there is an article entitled "Low Walls Call for a Low Profile." It offers tips for office-dwellers transitioning to a cubicle.


This article needed to have been written back when I worked for a massive national nonprofit in the late 90's. Good God. I HATED Cubeland with a passion, not simply because I couldn't order my products in privacy, but because most of my fellow colleagues had no clue how to operate in an open environment.

The article offers the following tips:

Keep Your Voice Down.
Amen. I knew waaaay more than I needed to about the executive assistant's pap smear results, her boyfriend's anatomy, and her sister's drug problem simply because her cube abutted mine.

Control the Cell Phone.
Um, yeah. I don't need to hear the full "Ride of the Valkyries" or worse, "Rump Shaker" in the office. How about a regular ring, sweetie?

Ask Before Entering.
Another Amen. I kept a pile of books on my cube chair for the sole purpose of dissuading Roving Chatters to not sit down. And, mental note, if I am on the phone, assume you can't come in. Duh.

Avoid Sneak Attacks.
Which is why I had a cheapie mirror on my computer. So I could avoid routine heart failure every time someone tapped my shoulder.

Don't Pile Up.
Amen again. Do NOT hold meetings--or worse, conference calls on speakerphone--in your cube. Get a conference room. Really.

Keep Your Germs At Home.
Stay home if you are sick. I kept those little pump bottles of rubbing alcohol next to my desk to ward off the common cold banshee. It looked a little anti-social to wash my hands when someone left, but no more anti-social than they looked sneezing on my keyboard.

Choose Your Decor Carefully.
Drunken college photos are out, classy girl. My most "out there" wall hanging was a Vanity Fair cover of the delicious Ewan McGregor in a kilt. (If you know me, you know that the greatest aphrodisiac in my world is a man with hairy, manly legs in a kilt. Rowwwrrrr).

Choose Food Carefully.
Okay. This is serious. When I worked at an agency in Atlanta, I worked with a "raw foodist," a man who did not cook anything. To this day, I cannot eat cantaloupe melons because he filled the office kitchen with overripe cantaloupes and ate them around the clock. The smell--to this day--makes me gag. It was overpowering and cloying and gamey and horrible. I spent hours and days wishing he'd cook up some nice halibut just to get rid of the overripe cantaloupe rank miasma around my cube. Bleeeaaah.

And Finally....

Speak Up.
Yes indeedy. Nothing like an "I can hear you, sweetie! Get a room!" lobbed over the cube wall to save you from another story of connubial bliss on the part of your coworker.

Happy Monday, y'all!

Deep Throat Do-Over

Okay. I apparently have given my father a world-class case of agita because I was making "tom swifties" about the phrase Deep Throat, which in the opinion of some esteemed family elders, is inappropriate for a young lady with a child.


So here is my mea culpa.

I have NO IDEA what Deep Throat really means. My play on words about it was just that; sound and fury signifying nothing.


As I have explained before to friends and family, if you read it on this blog, assume it's not personal. Trust me. As much as I love writing my stories and being inflammatory in the service of jolly japes--trust me--if it's deeply personal and about ME, you will not read it here. You might read a theme of it. You might see it as a subject to be discussed. You might figure that I'm making up "the friend" who has a problem with a serially unfaithful boyfriend. That's the point. I write it, and you determine what it means to YOU. Obviously, who I am and what I experience finds its way into these posts. But this is NOT an online diary. It's a blog. Which means "opinion" and "straw man arguments" and "thought-provoking (I hope)" and sometimes even kind of sort of maybe possibly "kinda funny." If you want an online diary, check out If you want saucy ribald silly kinda funny hopefully interesting reading, check out The Haggis.

And don't forget to check out the links too. Some good, good bloggin' goin' on there too!

So. Short Story Long: Me Haggis. You Reader. End of story.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Not to Be Ungrateful or Anything...

As you know, I have done a few posts on the ridiculous things people say to you when you adopt/adopt internationally. I had no idea that those posts would be simply one or two in a year-long series. I had no idea at the time that I would stop being offended by them and just start finding them hilariously long as my child doesn't hear or see them.

So--you knew another post was coming, didn't you? ;)

Tell me, friends. When someone tells you they are engaged, would you:

A) Say congratulations and wish them the best
B) Get them a book detailing that 50% of marriages end in divorce, with an enclosed gift certificate to marriage counseling--you know, just in case things go badly.

Or let's say someone moved into a new home. Would you:

A) Say congratulations and joke about when their housewarming party might be
B) Get them a book on dry rot, termites, home invasions by armed intruders, and why it's a waste of money to give up your rental property

Heck, let's do one more.

If someone told you they were pregnant, would you:

A) Say congratulations and ask when the due date is and where are they registered
B) Buy them a book on birth defects, pre-eclampsia, maternal or child death during labor, and signs of autism in early childhood

Oh dear. Such a difficult choice between all the As and all the Bs, right?

So tell me why, when someone has adopted, someone thinks a thoughtful, appropriate gift is a book on Meeting The Challenges of Adoption, which details (I kid you not) how to work with an adopted child who has attempted suicide, among other heartwarming nuggets. Forget that the book isn't even about the international adoption of infants but rather the domestic adoption of troubled children. Forget that the book itself is appalling in its use of the cheeseball term "forever family" as a way to somehow assure the child that you won't leave them. Gee, in my house, that word was just "family," how about in yours? The word "family" alone says, "you are so freakin stuck with us, kiddo." Why add "forever" to it? So you can remind the child that they are not simply "family?"

I could go on and on, but I am too busy laughing M.A.O. I was kind of annoyed when I first saw the "gift" but began to laugh out loud as I read through it, realizing that the givers truly, seriously thought that this would be a helpful present. And being that clueless is truly a reason to laugh long and loud and publicly. After all, I want my daughter to know that she is just a member of a regular old family, which means that someone has to be a little eccentric and embarrassing to her. Might as well be me...