Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yes, Ma'am

An article in today's New York Times condemns the word "ma'am." It quotes many broads who find usage of the word condescending.

In some prehistoric time when I was 35, and there were numerous magazines, some of which assigned me articles, for which they would then pay me, I wrote a similar piece for Index magazine. I think it was titled "Just Don't Call Me Ma'am" and it is now in a box somewhere in my attic, buried underneath piles of Christmas decorations, Thomas the Tank Engine, and assorted other crap.

The article was inspired by a trip to a record store (they had those back then, and they were usually staffed by cute, dismissive 22-year-olds with esoteric music taste). The clerk had the audacity to call me "ma'am" and I snapped bitchily at him: "Don't Call me Ma'am!" The poor child looked wounded, and my boyfriend gently suggested that I may have overreacted because the clerk was just trying to be polite.

To no avail. I had been made to feel old. This was a sin, an affront to all of womankind. I would have my revenge in the pages of Index magazine.

Now, of course, in my new life as upstanding suburban wife, stay-at-home mother and furtive blog writer, I am constantly referred to as ma'am. I have long since resigned myself to this fate, as 50 looms in the very near future. I now take it as it is offered, politely, if I notice it at all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Tooth Fairy is a Flake

My 10-year-old son lost another tooth yesterday. They're coming out fast and furious now. I put it in a ziploc under his pillow, and when the tooth fairy went to claim it in exchange for $1, rooting around under the f-ing pillow while trying not to rouse the child, she couldn't find it.

Thus, when the boy woke up before 7 am, he came into my room, handed me the tooth, and said, a bit jaded, you forgot this.

Yeah, mister, I wanted to say. I'm the frigging tooth fairy. You're lucky I remembered this time, because more than once, in the midst of taking out the recycling, scooping the cat litter, viewing some mindless entertainment, flossing, starting the dishwasher, etc., I have completely forgotten to fulfill my tooth fairy duties. Honestly, I've never been invested in this myth, and I'm tired of this charade! You're ten, for the love of God.

Instead, I said, sweetly as I could muster in my pre-caffeinated state, do I look like the tooth fairy? And he smiled with relief.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Operation Leave it On the Curb

Our relatives are just TOO TOO generous with our kids (seriously---we're suffocating here guys!!!). I'm constantly getting rid of outgrown clothes, toys, books, sports equipment and assorted plastic crap. Clothes are easy to find homes for, but toys are tricky. The local Human Needs Food Pantry doesn't accept used toys, and no one else seems to, really. So I came up with Operation Leave it On the Curb. Our Fisher Price farm, ride-on fire engine and Smarty the Construction Robot have all left us in this manner.

I like to see who takes our castoffs. If no one picks up an item within 20 minutes, I feel very insulted. I track the curb periodically. Someone always takes it eventually. I recently had the pleasure of watching an overjoyed 2-year-old boy with my son's old fire engine (itself a hand-me-down from our neighbor). I think OLIOTC is the most environmentally sound way to clean.

Recently, a beloved neighbor of mine, a single mom with twin teenage boys, moved to another state. I didn't know her super well, but I saw her daily, she fed my cats when we were away, and she was the nicest woman you will ever meet. She basically got rid of EVERYTHING. First, she had a yard sale. She priced low and did a brisk business. But she couldn't get all the merchandise out to the lawn before the hordes started to come.

Over the course of the next week, my neighbor began giving me choice gifts: a set of silver-plated flatware from the thirties, a sideboard, Fire King dishes, an X Box for my son. On the curb, she put out a freegan's all-you-can-eat buffet: books of all kinds, lamps, cleaning supplies, kitchen ware, baseball gloves, bric a brac, jewelry, Stangl Pottery---everything she had accumulated over the years.

At first I tried to keep up. I put out the Lincoln Logs that no one has looked at in three years. Some Play Doh accessories that have been dissed since 2007. I began evaluating everything in my house for possible curbside abandonment. I threatened to put the kids on the curb if they didn't behave.

Then she started freaking me out. Perfectly good tennis rackets? Really? A lacrosse stick? Wouldn't the boys need anything in their new home?

I wanted to box everything up, learn to drive on the highway, rent a van, and deliver it to her. She was definitely getting her possessions down to 100, as the trend du jour dictates. And I couldn't handle it.

Right before she left, she asked me if I'd dispose of anything that wasn't taken in a few days. I had a charity pick up coming anyway, so it was easy. Among the booty was a child's bank, with $23 dollars in change inside! Literally throwing money away. My kids split that.