You'd Better Forget Me Not

by Jason Tudor

By now, many of you wives, girlfriends and significant others should be unlocking the doors of the doghouses your husbands, boyfriends and significant others have been behind since forgetting about Valentine’s Day. The aforementioned men have made up for these transgressions through several dozen floral deliveries and performed enough around-the-house labor to make the Hebrews that built the pyramids blush. Though couch cushions can now breathe a sigh of relief following the old man’s exodus, something still lingers.

You may recall that the days that immediately followed V-Day became this run-on sentence: “How are you doing you look great can I get that for you did I tell you how much I love you I love that blouse your mom is so cool I love watching  Oprah with you is there enough time for us to snuggle I did that because I love you lookee here I made dinner again let me vacuum today mopping is no problem at all babe did you lose weight?” There were those other awkward moments, too, like when he smiled at you, like a dog seeking a treat. Instead, you patted him on the head and left him on the porch.

Forgetting is not a regular occurrence, but I witnessed it this year. Not only did the guy forget, but then he made like it was no big deal. There were enough pregnant pauses in the excuses given to fill maternity ward. Doesn’t matter. DEFCON One of romantic days and this guy forgets to bring his family into the shelter with him? He might as well have taken a shotgun and given Cupid a double-barreled facial.

Call it a racket, but there were 92,000 wedding ceremonies in Las Vegas this year. Consumers spent about 115 bucks each on Applebee’s, roses and those little candy hearts with phrases like, “I’m crazy in love enough to cut you.” Those who missed it, got punished and subsequently went into “whipped” mode for the days that followed understand this burden. Those who decry the event as little more than commercial pandering don’t.

Admittedly, there are degrees to this, but forgetting Valentine’s Day is a lot like a bankruptcy -- it stays on your record for about seven years, your credit rating is pretty much a mess the whole time (despite what you do to make up for it), and no one ever REALLY forgets it. In some circles, it ranks right up there with calling out the wrong name during sex  or saying, “You know, your sister’s kinda hot” anytime at all.

For the guys emerging today, welcome back. The dog says “thanks.” He  also offering to help you get signed up for Google Calendar.

I might look into it.

Jason did NOT miss Valentine’s Day this year (though he admits he’s done it once). Filled with lies and half truths, you can read more about Jason on his bio page.


Love Means Never Having to Say “That Was Me You Kicked In the Head Last Night”

by Janna Qualman

Dear Diary,

I’m exhausted. I was up all night, because every time I’d nod off... I’m sore all over from…

Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me back up…

It’s all because of my little girl. She of the cotton pants and cowgirl boots, with the sweet tooth and insatiable thirst for juice.

She is so special. I like it when she giggles from her belly because something tickles her so deep. Or when she puckers her tiny mouth for a kiss, and her chin is the scrunchy, wrinkly best part. She’s a good snugglebum and has a super imagination and she makes us laugh and prickles us with pride. There is so much about her to love.

It’s just… Okay, here goes… I could do without her brutal violence, that’s the thing. There, I’ve said it. I’ve been needing to talk to someone for a while now, Diary, and I’m so glad I have you.

People wouldn’t believe it if I told them. My little girl has everyone fooled with her petite cuteness, and her precocious vocabulary, those little eyes and that little nose and everything else that is so mini and adorable about her. She draws them in with her smile. She makes them love her.

But it’s true and it’s sordid. I can keep quiet about it no longer.

She is a mean little beast, and she is sneaky about it.

I never know when an attack is coming, I can’t brace myself, because—and I think she has this calculated—I’m asleep. Solid and happy and asleep. This side of her comes out after she’s climbed into my bed at night. After she’s taken the pocket of space right up next to me, Diary, even when there’s a whole huge mattress of room. She crowds me out. Her advantage is my disadvantage; I cannot protect myself against her, her strategic skills are phenomenal.

There’s the whole knee-launched-into-back thing, that’s nearly a Karate Kid kind of move. She’s only seen the movie once, but wow, she must have really paid attention. Or the elbow-whammed-into-chest, like she’s been watching Wrestlemania. Or her uncles. Maybe she’s been watching her uncles, because sometimes they act like they’re in the ring. I’ve had a hand to the eye—thwack!—and the scratch-dig-scratch at my side, like she’s trying to tickle but it’s not quite so innocent. It’s like she’s been trained or something. (What are they teaching her in kindergarten?)

This is bad, Diary, and I’m so embarrassed, because the worst part? She’s out like a light, too. She beats me up in our sleep.

I can’t say that to just anybody. Do you know what they would do? Do you know how they would laugh? This has to stay between you and me. I can’t even mention it to my little girl. What would I say? “Sweetie, come look at my puffy eyelid. Yeah, you did that.” Or, “Mommy’s just going to soak in the hot water for a while longer. You really clocked me good.” I am not going to fuel the fire. And I can’t show any sign of weakness.

But then also, I really love her too much to say anything. All those spectacular things about her outweigh this, you know, issue. And it’s true what they say: Moms have to choose their battles…

Thanks for listening, Diary.

Yours truly until next time,

Janna is a freelance and women's fiction writer. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she captures life through writing. You can visit and learn more at her blog, Something She Wrote.


Cupid jailed for indecent exposure and attempted homicide.

by Angie Mansfield

Police have finally located the suspect wanted in connection with a series of flashing incidents and assaults with a deadly weapon that occured on February 14th, 2011. The arrest comes after a week of investigation and public outcry.

"We have found the person responsible for these despicable acts," said Detective Fred Dobbin during a brief press conference this morning. "Now, if everyone could stop keying my car and egging my house, that would be great."

Public outcry over police handling of this case began shortly after the first flashing incidents were reported. Police were slow to respond to the reports, mistaking them for a rash of crank calls.

"I mean," Dobbin said, "Who woulda thought all the stories about a hairy, naked little person with wings could be accurate?"

One of the flashing victims, speaking on condition of anonymity (but her initials are Tara Mitchell, 457 Schenectedy Lane) said she is forever scarred by her disturbing ordeal. "He flew right up to my window and pointed his arrow at me. No, I'm not using a euphemism. He had an actual arrow, with a bow and everything."

Her neighbor, Laura Burke, also saw the winged pervert. "He chased me down the street, pointing the arrow at me and screaming, 'Who do you love?' over and over. I still hear it in my sleep."

Police became actively involved when a local man was admitted to the hospital to have a small, pink-feathered arrow removed from his left buttock. After questioning the victim, investigators determined that the M.O. fit a series of similar incidents that occured on the same day last year. The current investigation led them to the main suspect in that case, who was released last summer over a technicality. When the identity of the suspect was released today, public outcry grew.

"How did this freak get tossed back on the streets to terrorize innocent people all over again," asked Ms. Mitchell's husband. "I mean, his mother was Venus, the goddess of love, and his father was Mars, the god of war. What did they think was going to happen?"

Cupid's court-appointed attorney was unavailable for comment.

Angie Mansfield, perhaps unsurprisingly, lives alone with her dog and a jade plant named Fred. Yes, her plant has a name. You can find more of her failed attempts at journalistic integrity at the Zebra Rag.


Crushing on Mr. Darcy

by Patti Wigington

We’ve all had crushes on fictional characters. Back in 1978, I knew darn well that someday Han Solo would be my boyfriend. Other girls preferred the freshly blow-dried and needy Luke Skywalker, but not me. No, I wanted a guy with blaster pistols and an upgraded Corellian Engineering Corporation YT-1300 stock light freighter. Han Solo was a space pirate.

Later, I moved on from Han to various teen-movie crushes, although (again) not the ones my friends liked. While my girlfriends were dreamily tacking up posters of Tom Cruise’s Maverick from “Top Gun,” I had a magazine photo of Val Kilmer’s snarky and arrogant Iceman in my locker. Patrick Swayze’s slick moves in “Dirty Dancing” did nothing for me, but Judd Nelson with his combat boots and trench coat in “The Breakfast Club”? Yowza. He even had an earring, which back then meant you were either a rebel or European.

Clearly, I developed an early track record of liking men whose personality was, shall we say, leaning towards the abrasive. Men who didn’t care what anyone thought of them. Men who did what they liked because they wanted to, not because it was expected of them. Men who, if you dated them in real life, would probably say something to you cry on prom night, but you’d still love them anyway because they brought you a corsage without anyone reminding them.

And so, I met Fitzwilliam Darcy.

In a college English Lit class, I was assigned the reading of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I had never read Austen before, and perhaps it was a good thing – I don’t think I was ready for Darcy until then.

Fitzwilliam Darcy meets Elizabeth Bennet near the opening chapters of P&P, and promptly acts like a total jerk. Lizzie, being too much of a lady to say, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that you, sir, are an ass,” laughs it off, allowing him to get a glimpse of her “fine eyes.” Then she ignores him, rebuffs him, recognizes him for the stubborn, proud man he is, and finally – despite her best judgment – falls in love with him. So do the rest of us, and many of us did so before we suspected Darcy might resemble Colin Firth or Matthew McFadyen. And how can we not love Darcy? He’s arrogant and proud and taciturn but he’s got a good heart. He will quietly do what needs to be done for the benefit of those he loves, and ask nothing in return. On the surface, he’s overly proud – and yet the fault is partly Lizzie’s, because she in turn is prejudiced against him for what she believes him to be. It is only when she learns his true nature that she realizes what we already know – that Darcy, for all his flaws, is a hell of a guy.

So I’ll continue to have crushes on the Darcys of the world. They’re flawed, they’re damaged, and sometimes they’re outright fools. Most likely, they’re nothing but trouble, and will probably make us say bad words and throw vases at their heads before we’re done with them.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t want them any other way.


Point and Shoot

by Amy Mullis

I was born in February and I’m a little concerned that the symbol for my birthday month is a fat, naked stalker baby with underdeveloped wings and a bow and arrow. I don’t know about you, but I go some places a baby should be afraid to follow, even armed with projectiles.

Somehow the thought of an undiapered toddler, especially one packing a weapon designed to shoot warm fuzzies, accompanying me to the mall clearance sales and auto-flushers seems horribly inappropriate.  I still bear a French manicure-shaped scar from reaching for a cunning pair of Capri pants on the red dot clearance rack.  If that naked baby grabs the last pair of Prada pumps on the sale table, he’s likely to lose something more important than a finger.

I can see why he’s armed. Anybody named Cupid who goes parading around in his birthday suit is likely to suffer grievous knuckle prints from guys named Pork Chop or Tiny here in the red mud section of South Carolina.  And if he ventures out to watch the Nascar drivers go fast and turn left, he just may get tire marks someplace where parking is prohibited.

So just to be sure we’re on the same track, I checked with Cupid to see how he felt about his job.

Me:  So, Cupid, how does it feel to go to work naked every day?

Cupid, the God of Love: Well, I save a lot on dry cleaning and there’s no dress code, so it’s kind of empowering. I use an awful lot of Chap-Stick, though. I’m trying for a corporate sponsorship.  My endorsement deals keep me living in the life style of my dreams.

Me:  You dream of flying naked for the rest of eternity?

Cupid:  Don’t knock it. Even in the weather that frosts my feathers, it beats a business suit and 80-hour work weeks. And I don't have any place to carry a cell phone, so the boss can't ever call me on my lunch hour.

Me:  But do you think it’s safe for a baby to fly around by himself?

LG:  It’s not like I’m unarmed. (He tested the point on a heart-tipped arrow.) Hey, I’m the one that made Kanye apologize to Taylor Swift. It didn’t matter where I hit him.  I just grazed him to let all the hot air out.

Me:  If you’re such a sure shot, why are there so many divorces?  You know, I’ve been married before and I’d rather have my legs done in the hot wax section of the car wash than go through that again.

Cupid:  Hey, everybody makes mistakes. Actually I was aiming for someone else, but, when you bent over it was like a heat seeking missile and a barn fire.

Me: So you’re saying the whole fiasco was my fault?

Cupid:  Well every action has an opposite and equal unexpected consequence. That’s math you know. Or science.  Whatever. I was a Liberal Arts major.

Me:  I can identify with that. I graduated with honors, but they don’t take GPA in the Express Lane at the Piggly Wiggly.

Cupid:  Well, don’t be eying my job. I had to knock off a guy with winged feet to get this gig.

Me:  So now that Valentine’s Day is past, it’s the off season for you. What keeps you busy the rest of the year?

Cupid:  Oh, there’s lots to do.  I like to spend part of the summer posing as a sculpture in a wishing well fountain.  All that loose change comes in handy for the bathroom vending machines.

Me:  Is that all you do? Make people think their wishes will come true, then steal their money?

Cupid:  Of course not.  Somebody’s got to keep up with the Kardashian sisters.  Those gals make Snooki look like Hannah Montana.  I think I’m gonna need a bigger box of arrows.

Amy has recently celebrated another in a long line of  birthdays, and is trying to find herself.  Come join the hunt at www.mindovermullis.com. She's probably locked herself in the freezer case with the Haagen Dazs again.


The Pact

by Jeanette Levellie

“Let’s make a pact,” suggested Kev on one of our frequent walks, where we discuss everything and nothing.

“What kind of pact did you have in mind?” I cautiously asked. A pact where we agree to not eat desserts on weekdays or not talk negatively from five to seven p.m., I can handle. But don’t ask me to quit overreacting, keep my house sparkling clean, or pass up a sale on dark chocolate. I’ll let you down.

“Let’s agree that we will always handle issues that arise in a mature manner,” he answered. His face was serious when he said it, too.

My knees buckled as I guffawed. “Kevin, in spite of our Valentine’s Day wedding thirty years ago, we have rarely handled things in a mature manner. What preposterous idea makes you think we can start now?” He must have agreed, because he hee-hawed along with me. We stood in the road and roared like two preschoolers discovering their dad’s underwear drawer.

Please don’t misunderstand: we are not idiots. We raised two responsible adults, we both hold down decent jobs, and most days we keep our sanity in this crazy world. We have, however, had our share of not handling situations in mature ways.

Like the time I got mad during an argument, and slammed the lid of the cookie jar down, breaking it beyond repair. Did I mention that it was my favorite cookie jar?

Or the day Kevin asked me to navigate him to a new friend’s house in Los Angeles, and becoming impatient, he grabbed the map from my hand. I should say he tried to grab it. I was so irate with him for implying I didn’t know how to read a map, I refused to let go. Two adults, one a preacher, the other a Christian School teacher, wrestling with a map in the front seat. Aha.

My favorite fight occurred on a Sunday night. I was enjoying the song service, and snuggled next to Kev as we harmonized on “Learning to Lean.” Kevin can harmonize with bullfrogs; he has an excellent ear for chords. But, when he adds notes where they aren’t written, and does ‘do-bop’s in my ear as I am worshiping, I become as hot as a waffle iron on a Saturday morning.

“Will you please quit singing in my ear? It’s bugging me,” I whisper, trying not to disrupt those around us. Kevin grins like he’s five and has just caught his first fish. Now I’ve given him exactly what he wants: the satisfaction of knowing he’s stolen my composure. On the next song, he continues his musical torture by making up stupid words to the song’s tune and breathing them in my ear. That’s when I lose it.

Whap! Slap! Sock! on Kevin’s upper arm.  “Stop it right now!” I mutter, my voice growling, veins bulging out of my neck. Not even noticing my wimpy attempts at slaps, Kevin is in husband heaven, blatantly laughing. The older couple behind us could not be more delighted. To witness the preacher’s wife beating up the preacher during Sunday evening service is a rare treat, indeed.

So much for our “Maturity From Now On” pacts. At least our brouhahas serve as entertainment for our congregation. Happy Valentine's Day!





There should be a warning label slapped to my forehead before I head to the checkout counter:


I never learn.

Ahhh, to be 17 again
I'm mildly obsessed with my hair - having frosted, teased, permed (oh sweet Jesus), colored, highlighted, cellophaned, flirting briefly with a Bump-It, long, short, red, blonde, dark brown and yes, green after an unfortunate encounter with an Ash blonde shade over frosted hair in high school. I've spent countless dollars perfecting the carelessly smushy bed-waves that could have been more easily accomplished by simply rolling off my mattress and out the door. Ringlets? Yes, please. But after years of perming my already wavy hair, I walked out with Super Tight curls and never once a ringlet nor corkscrew gracing my head.

So I did what any normal young adult would do - I cut it all off to start over. Yep. I'm a genius. I didn't go crazy, just a nice bowl cut that reminds me now of Vector from Despicable Me. That's right. I was a goddess. Add in my new favorite color of Stoplight Red and I was a walking pencil eraser.

Fast-forward another fifteen years and five children -- I'd let my hair grow out to my bottom, stopped coloring/perming and allowed my naturally auburn hippie roots run free. Angels slept in my pristine locks and visions of shampoo commercials played on loop in my head. This had to stop.

"Hey babe, why don't you ruin your hair by going platinum blonde?" my husband said. Okay, he didn't really say that -- aside from the blonde part.

"No, I gave all that up years ago. I like my natural highlights." Silver glittered in my hair, glinting in the sunlight and blinding pilots overhead.

"I like them too. Here, I bought you this box." Handing me the offending cube, I remembered the joy of experimentation - of not having to explain to my children why Mommy now has streaky hair - of being young and free. No more dark circles under my eyes after endless nights of colicky babies! No more catching sight of myself in the mirror and thinking my mother had snuck in behind me! Oh my god. I'd have perky boobs again. Grabbing the box, I ran to the bathroom and doused myself in chemical goodness. Twenty minutes later, I emerged. Fresh. Staggering brilliant. And slightly orange. Auburn has a memory and it doesn't let go easily.
A year later I've run the gamut of Woodland Creature brown to Blaze o'Glory red. Guess which one I chose today? They never mentioned the pink streaks on the box...

As for the long locks? There's something sinister that lurks in the minds of women right before a newspaper interview or conference where photos will be taken - we suddenly NEED a haircut. A trim turned into a lopping and poof, I was back to sporting a sassy new shoulder-length cut in a matter of minutes.

Just call me Vector.


Georgie and Me – A Love Story

by Terri Coop

All romance stories have common elements: flirtation, infatuation, betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption. No story has more of these than the simple tale of me and George Foreman.

No, not the bald ex-boxer. I’m talking about me and the George Foreman Quesadilla Maker.

It started innocently enough in Wal-Mart. There it was all sassy and red, promising me luscious healthy meals in minutes. Georgie tugged at my heart with its promise of being non-stick. It was seductively priced for the holidays at $13.99. I was smitten.

Our first encounters were awkward and tentative. I neglected to interpret the signals Georgie was giving me and discovered you can turn tortillas and cheese into a petrified stone-like material suitable for patching concrete. I persevered, even making the commitment of reading the manual.

And magic happened.

Anything Georgie cooked became instant ambrosia. I could chop up a football and lawn clippings and turn out picture-perfect nutritious low calorie meals. Unexpected guests? I diced up leftover pot roast, a gnarled-up mushroom, soggy celery and some wilted parsley. Two big tortillas, cheese, salsa and four minutes later, a steaming hot snack tray that disappeared in minutes. Georgie was the perfect host.

I saw happiness in our future. Georgie earned a permanent place in my heart and on my stovetop. I broke the news to the oven and it seemed to take it well. I think it was relieved. Our relationship had always been uneasy, each unable to quit the other.

Then, one fateful morning, it happened.

I shambled into the kitchen and noticed a pile of black bits on the stove. My first thought was a mouse incursion. Cursing, I put traps on the shopping list and cleaned up the mess. Then I saw the true horror my furry nemesis had wrought.

The black bits were insulation from Georgie’s cord. The mouse had chewed it down to the copper. I have felt less desolation at a failed relationship than I did looking at my Georgie wounded and helpless.

Shaking off my heartbreak, I did the only sensible thing. I added “quesadilla maker” to my shopping list.

Imagine my shock after I combed the aisles at Wal-Mart searching for my lost love only to be told by an uncaring clerk, “um . . . those are sold out.” Something must have betrayed my inner turmoil because he mumbled something about sweeping up the pet supply aisle as he backed away.

The Georgie-less days dragged on. In between plans on how to make peace with the oven who relished its new role of pot storage and trying to come up with something new to do with hamburger; I shared my tale of woe with a good friend.

He uttered four words that turned my world upside-down.

“Got any electrical tape?”

Georgie and I cooked that evening. Oh how we cooked. Pork chops browned in olive oil and soy sauce, portabella mushrooms, green onions, mild wax peppers, and sharp cheddar cheese all diced and then perfectly toasted by Georgie’s non-stick grill plates. Heavenly.

The mouse?

I found his carcass the next morning, sprawled under the trap, the bar across his neck. I felt nothing as I bagged him and tossed him with the rest of the trash. Hey, that’s what you get when you try and come between Georgie and me.


More Effective than eHarmony!

by Sarah Garb

Are you single this Valentine’s Day?  Well have no fear—take some love advice from third graders and you’ll be dating in no time!  They have vast experience, what with the steady stream of love notes, the budding playground relationships, and the partner dancing in P.E.  As Lucas once put it, “Third grade has turned into LOVE grade!”  The actual quotes and notes below will guide you through every relationship stage from pick-up lines to break-ups.

The Pick-Up

If you’re just starting out in your relationship quest and are looking for that all-important pick-up line, consider taking a cue from Tyson’s note to me one day in my teacher mailbox.  “How come you are not married?  You are beautiful and stuff.”  That is practically guaranteed to work at a bar or your next singles kickball game.  What woman doesn’t want to be called beautiful?  And stuff?

Compliments are another surefire way to get the conversation rolling.  Take this one from a confiscated love note: “My sister thinks your dad is hot!!”  Total turn-on, right ladies?

Another note-writer hit upon what I think is a pretty fail-safe conversation starter with the object of your affection.  “How are you doing?  Fine?  Sexy?  How?” 

Definitely be direct.  Whoever said that revealing your true feelings has to be any more complicated than a few well-placed hearts?  Simply replace any vowels in the name of the person you’re after, and it’s practically a done deal.  To guarantee, though, that this sentiment is made crystal clear, you would do well to model your email headings after Jalil’s note to Savannah.

To:  S-v-nn-h
From: Jalil
Date: March 6th
Time: 10:12 am
Reason:  I want to let you know I like you!

When you’re really putting yourself out there, you’ll want some confirmation that the feelings are mutual.  The best way to achieve this is undoubtedly the “circle yes or no” option.  Followed by a threat.

I really like you because you are the most prettiest girl I ever seen. 
Would you like to be my girlfriend yes or no. 
P.S. give back on the way back from recess.
Don’t let nobody see this or you are dead.

If Rebuffed

Dear Daniel,
  I broke up with Steven.  Do you like me?
  yes or no
     from Becky

Much though we’d like to think that the “circle yes or no” will result in a yes, there is the potential for a circled no.  If this happens to you in your quest for love, as it did to Becky, do not be dissuaded!  The appropriate response in this situation is to insult the other woman and question your crush’s taste.  Anyone out looking for love but finding “no” can certainly take a lesson from Becky’s last-ditch effort to change Daniel’s mind. 

“Emma has freckles and she is so ugly.  How can you like someone so ugly?”

Breaking Up

Let’s face it--breaking up is a fact of the dating world.  It’s difficult to know just what to say, but these elementary suggestions can help you find an effective approach.  Why make breaking up any more difficult than three simple sentences?

“I don’t love you.  I love Trevor and Marcus.  But I kinda like you.”

And if it has to be done, Michael has the perfect way to let someone down easy.

“I’m not really into girls.  I’m more into Godzilla.”

If you are successful in the pursuit of a relationship and find yourself heading to that next level, some rock solid third grade marriage advice can be found at Sarah’s blog, Dead Class Pets.


For The Love of My Thighs

by Tricia Gillespie

Every time someone mentions the words diet or exercise, a thousand Rocketts begin dancing across my mind, each leg kick higher than the last.

My thighs are my troubled half and believe me, they carry at least half of my body weight.  Unfortunately each of my thighs resembles a tree trunk with the consistency of a Twinkie.

About twice a year, I go on a reconnaissance effort to take back my legs – once in the spring when I know beach season looms near and once again in the fall when I try to squeeze back into my jeans.

Liposuction has always been a consideration; however, I’ve never been able to fully convince my insurance company that cellulite of the thighs is correlated to sudden death.

They don’t realize that I am doing squats at deaths door.

It was during one of my ‘slim my body in a hurry’ panics that I discovered my library had an exercise video targeted directly at thighs.

The Rocketts rejoiced.

I began squatting, lifting, kicking, and crunching with near immediate results.  If such a thing is possible, it seemed the Twinkies were turning into Twix.  The only problem was the video could only be checked out of the library for two days at a time.

Renewals not permitted.

One night after I’d just washed an arsenal of age-fighting makeup down the drain and changed into paint stained yoga pants, I realized that I needed to exercise.  I couldn’t risk another day without making my cellulite scream in defeat.

With bedroom eyes and the sweetest tone I could muster, I begged, pleaded, and groveled at my husband’s feet.  He finally conceded to run to the library and pick up that video.  After all, he enjoyed the benefits of a firmer and more agile me.

Furtively glancing around the library, he sheepishly slinked up to the counter and wordlessly placed the video in front of the librarian.  You can never quite tell what a librarian is thinking.  They are assumed smart, and are respected because few other people can master the library ‘whisper’.

With a smirk, she told him he could keep the video for a week this time.  Apparently his thighs looked to be in worse shape than mine, and I scolded myself for not sending him sooner.

A few days later my unsuspecting husband returned to the library with my son.  As he walked up to the counter, the librarian looked up past her minty green glasses and asked, “How are your thighs doing?”

And that is why I love my husband.  He puts kindness into action as he sacrifices his reputation for my thighs.


It's My Job, Sink or Swim

by Kathy Tirrell

I live in the sink. My world is awash in dishes and bubbles swirling around my rubber-gloved hands. My objective: Scrub those pots and pans! Take a bite out of grime! Make those glasses shine!

Outside, the spirited cries from the neighborhood boys playing basketball interrupt my thoughts. I crane my neck so I can see them through the kitchen window having fun, as free as a bunch of birds. I envy their freedom. How I would love to trade places. Hey—any of you guys wanna wash some dishes?

My mind begins to wander. Suds. Soap. Soap operas. How come women on soap operas are never shown washing the dishes?  Do they OWN dishes? They seem to dine out for every meal. But soap characters usually have big bucks, so I guess they can afford to.

If I were a rich girl…The Fiddler on the Roof song floats through my mind. Wouldn't have to work hard. Maybe not, but I'd probably get bored. Take away all of the dishwashing, bed-making, floor washing, clothes washing, oven cleaning, vacuuming, and kid wrangling, and what have you got left? Lots of free time! But how to fill it?

Sure, for a while I'd love the freedom from the drudgery of lowly housework. The maid would do all of my chores while I played tennis, shopped, hobnobbed, and traveled the world. Yes, it would be great, but sooner or later, I know I'd be itching for a pan to scrub.

Maybe there's something about daily rituals that become ingrained in our personalities. Even though I hate housework, I'm used to it. My fingers need something to clean, something to iron, something to make right. And when I'm assembling a lunch for my 9-year-old son, I'm putting some of myself into it. Here's a sandwich I made for you. Here are some of your favorite cookies. I can just picture the happy look on his face as he's unwrapping these little tokens of love.

But I must admit I sometimes find myself wondering how one measures the significance and worthiness of a life spent folding t-shirts, scrubbing stains, mixing recipes and mending boo-boos. Is this the job I'm meant to do? And how good a job am I doing?

The answers come to me in subtle ways, if I'm paying attention.  Like the unexpected pennies and dimes I find in the pockets of my apron, there are little clues sprinkled throughout my days.

It's the stranger approaching me in a restaurant saying,“Your children are so well-behaved.”

It's the satisfied look on my oldest son's face as he's finishing up his second helping of lasagna.

It's the birthday card, written and designed with love by my daughter.

It's the sweet way my youngest son declares,“I'm lucky to be in this family.”

These are the clues, the answers to the mystery. I'm not rich in gold, but I'm rich in family. I've sacrificed an income and a career for my kids to be their first teacher, their nurse, their nurturer, their attentive and loving mom.

There will be a time down the road for other things. I can postpone my own dreams and aspirations for a while, but I can't freeze the fleeting milestones of these childhood days. Each moment in time is precious and will never be seen again.

So for now I'll wash these dishes and scrub these pans. And I'll smile, knowing it's the right thing to do.

After all, it is my job, sink or swim!

Note: This essay was previously published in Stories of Strength in 2005. And it was written back when I was a stay-at-home mom. Also, I have edited it a bit for this posting.