Saturday, March 27, 2010

Moms Are The Coolest Invention Ever

“Please no more therapy, mother take care of me, piece me together with a needle and thread”
Shawn Colvin

There are some pretty cool things in the world. I personally am a fan of couches, cookie dough in a tube, and flip flops. Top of the heap though has to be mom. Moms are the coolest invention ever. Do you remember the first time you were sick and alone as an adult? Maybe you were living in a dorm, an apartment, backpacking around Europe, or detoxing in a holding cell, you got sick and you had to take care of yourself. Who did you wish was there? Mom, that’s who. Who’s the big winner? Mom. When you came racing through the door after school with some nightmarish piece of art composed entirely of popsicle sticks, Elmer’s Glue, and boogers, who pronounced it the most beautiful thing EVER? Who showed it to all her friends, proudly displayed it in the living room and deemed you a budding young artist? Mom, that’s who. Who’s the big winner? You, because you have a mom and no one in this life or any other will ever love you the way she does.

When I was a kid moms still stayed home pretty regularly, a working mom was the exception, not the rule. I am the youngest of five kids by several years. This means I got to spend a lot of quality time with my mom. In the morning the house would be fairly full of activity with mom making breakfast, dad heading off to work, mom making four lunches, kids headed off to different schools at different times, mom cleaning up dishes from breakfast and lunch making, and then, finally, a calm house with just mama and me. As in most American homes dad had his “chair” and mom had hers. My mom’s chair was a rocking chair, I loved sitting on her lap in that chair and snuggling with her. This can cure any illness. Moms will let you throw up on them and not even say “Ewwwww, gross”. You can come screaming into the house covered in blood, mucous, and Lord only knows what all else and she will not wince and back away. She will open her arms wide and say “Oh my baby, what has happened to my baby?!” If you are the culprit of whatever has happened to her baby you had better damn well be in another county in the next five minutes because when she is done comforting her baby, she is comin’ after you. Ever seen a mom defend her child? Holy moley. If you have hurt a female’s child she will exercise no restraint in coming after you. A dad may keep a cooler head, ask some questions to find out what happened and did mama’s baby perhaps play a hand in bringing this trouble on? Not mom, if you hurt her child she will hunt you down, kill you, and happily do the time. Remember Mercedes Ruehl in the movie "Big"? She walks into her young son’s bedroom only to find a grown Tom Hanks instead of her young son and she turns into an animal. Seriously, she is baring her teeth, grabs the first weapon she can find to wield and is determined to beat Tom Hanks to a bloody pulp. Her voice changes from cheerful songbird mama voice to deep from the bowels of hell succubus voice as she growls “Where’s my son? What have you done with my son”? He is scared, stunned to see the rage and says “Thanks Mom”. He is overwhelmed by her love for him but really has no time to think about that because she is about to kill him.

It’s not just human moms of course, moms covered in fur or scales . . . . in any species a mom is a mom. In the Planet Earth series (how great is this series I ask you? Just extraordinary) there are so many examples of a mother’s love for her young. The humpback whale as well as the polar bear both lose half their body weight and are basically starving, but those babies are gettin’ fed no matter what. Mama whale slaps her enormous fin on the water to make sure baby calf knows where she is and can stay close. Mama elephant and baby fall behind the herd because baby is thirsty and slow, but mom is staying back with her baby. There are times in this series when the cycle of life is so painful. You don’t want the wolf to starve and you don’t want him to eat the baby. I’m telling you, this series makes me cry. I cry because baby got eaten or mama is starving or papa polar bear doesn’t have enough ice to walk on because we are not doing the best job caring for Mother Earth.

So let’s talk about the mother we all share. How about mother earth? She fosters the Boreal Forest that produces most of our planet’s oxygen and yet takes up so little of our living space. She lays back at a tilt to give us seasons and allows us to feed off her like a new mother with infants. But like so many rebellious teens we sometimes forget to honor her, we treat her with less dignity than she deserves and yet, she will always welcome us back home and feed us. She will forgive us anything because she loves us. Like any mom though, if you piss her off and test the boundaries you will indeed find the boundaries. You can’t just throw a lit match in the forest and expect her not to react. She loves you and because she loves you she will not hesitate to slap you right upside the head when you deserve it.

The love of a mother spans the ages, including all your ages. When you’re young having your mom around is no problem. You don’t mind her being in the same room with you and your friends because chances are you’re about five years old and her presence means cookies. As you get older the rules change. You don’t want your friends to know you have parents. You prefer your friends think you just vaporized onto the planet, and at the ripe old age of sixteen you already live in your own apartment, drive a cool car, go to clubs, and date rock stars frequently. You’re just doing this high school gig and allowing these people who call themselves “parents” to hang around you because you found them wandering the streets aimlessly one day. As you get a bit older the tides will turn again. When you leave the comfortable confines of home to move into that dorm room, apartment, European backpack, or holding cell, you will learn that food doesn’t just magically show up in the kitchen and laundry is, in fact, NOT done by a faction of Lilliputians that come quietly into your room as you sleep. The value of mom begins to dawn on you just a bit. “Food and clean socks are good, and if I want them I need to do something about that. Hmmmmmm. These things require time and money, two very important commodities. I have time, but what about money? Money, money, money; where does money come from? Trees? No, I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere that it does not grow on trees. Mom! Ohmygawd, it’s Mom! She always has money! I’ll just call her!”

Mothers are a remarkably special breed. Mothers are magical. Mothers perform miracles because they can bake cookies AND put a band aid on your knee AND talk to you about your first heartbreak when you’re a little bit older. They will endure hours of pain to bear us, and then do it all over again to bear more of us. They will walk us to the door of our kindergarten classrooms, holding our hands, smiling, telling us how exciting school will be and waving to us as we turn around and toddle off, then they will go home to cry a river. Her baby is growing up a little bit and that’s good, that’s how it should be. Her baby is growing up a little bit and it’s heartbreaking, and that’s how it should be. Your spouse loves you, your father loves you, your children, your friends, and your siblings all love you but I can promise you, no one . . . NO ONE loves you like your mother. Really, I think even God would step aside just a wee bit in respect for the love of a Mother, after all, they are one of his greatest gifts to us.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Groceries and The Single Girl

“I’m all lost in the supermarket, I can no longer shop happily, I came in here for that special offer a guaranteed personality” The Clash

The grocery store is a rough place for single women. It may have its pitfalls for men too, but based on the refrigerator and cupboard contents I’ve seen in the single male kitchen, they have no idea what the inside of a grocery store looks like. The grocery store is a place for couples. Even if “they” as a couple are not in the grocery store together, just look in a females shopping cart and you’ll know her status in the magic kingdom of coupledom . When I am half of a couple my cart is filled with yummy items that a woman lovingly, painstakingly selects to make her man happy. I purchase not just bread, but perhaps a freshly baked brioche. No fish sticks tonight, I’m poaching a salmon in a bath of white wine with capers and fresh dill. I will consider, quite possibly for several minutes, the various merits of those cute little red skinned potatoes vs. the beauty of the sweet potato. The sweet potato is a super food, don’tcha know. Even when a couple has passed the salmon swimming in a capered, dilled wine bath phase, couple food is different from single food. Women are not notorious for their corn chip and bean dip consumption. If you see these items in her basket, nestled in with ground beef and hamburger buns, it’s probably Guitar Hero night at home. I love couple food shopping. I love calling from the grocery store (how did we ever survive without cell phones?) and asking “would you rather have orzo or risotto?” A single girl’s basket has yoghurt, diet soda, and People magazine, every four weeks add in tampons and chocolate. There is no place I can think of that discriminates the singles from the couples so openly as the grocery store. Seems to me I’ve heard the marina Safeway in San Francisco has singles night. Is that true? Someone write me and let me know. Otherwise, here is a handy guide of times to . . .


1. Late afternoon to early evening on Saturday. This is the time you will find childless couples shopping together for the beautiful meal they’re about to prepare together while nibbling on exotic cheese and sipping wine. “Honey, salmon or steak? Both? Surf and turf? Divine.” I look at my basket, see the lone can of tomato soup and vomit a little in my mouth.

2. Sunday, pretty much all damn day. Here you will find couples, some formed just a few hours prior, shopping for breakfast still wearing their Saturday night clothes. Girls, if you’re wearing an oversized men’s shirt with high heels and your mussed hair is being held up chopstick style by two writing utensils, you’re not fooling anyone. Later in the morning and on through the evening you will find couples, perhaps not as recently formed as our shirt sharing chopstick wearing couples, shopping for any number of couple-ish events. Perhaps they’re having a nice family brunch, a football-basketball-baseball-soccer-golf-Frisbee golf-curling game, or a nice movie night at home. Avoid Sundays.

3. There are some seasonally disastrous times. For instance . . . Fall, straight through to the end of Winter. Football season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and by golly let’s not forget VALENTINES DAY! From September to March, eat out. Spring is alright because it’s spring and in spring hope is eternal, there is quite possibly a song in your heart and nothing’s going to get you down. Shop away in spring. And store up then little squirrel because summer’s coming and you know what that means . . . couples come out of hibernation! It’s time to hike, camp, backpack, mountain bike, picnic, BBQ, and those couples need food . . . from the grocery store. Thaw out that frozen Lean Cuisine you bought in April, slather on your tan in a bottle, and pretend you’re in the south of France.

4. Snowstorms. Who doesn’t love being at home with their chosen mate in a blizzard? You’re both curled up inside and warm while the storm rages outside. You pad about the house in your cozy wooly socks making a big pot of homemade soup, muffins, several dozen cookies, drinking wine and deciding what movies to watch. I know how lovely it is. I’ve experienced this bliss and I miss it. For the single girl, we already know you don’t have food. You have yoghurt and magazines. Could be a couple of days before you get out and you’re gonna need to consume something. If the storm hasn’t gotten so bad that the streets are impassable then you can still drive. Yes, YOU can drive. YOU can go outside and shovel the walk to the car, YOU can unbury the car, YOU can sit alone in the freezing car waiting for the defrost to start defrosting, YOU can scrape the ice off the windows and YOU can drive through the icy streets to your local grocer to load up on single girl in a snowstorm food . . . frozen pizza, canned soup, ice cream, diet soda. Then YOU can drive back home and YOU can lug the groceries back in the house yourself. If the roads are not even driveable it gets better, YOU get to walk to the store! I love a walk in a snowstorm . . . a walk that doesn’t involve me carrying bags of food home in the end. If it is so bad out that you’re busting out the Sorels and walking then you’re more than likely crossing some rough terrain. This means your limited on what you can carry. Do you really need frozen pizza and ice cream that badly? Ok, I’ll grant you the ice cream thing, I get that. What I’m getting at is this . . .
delivery my friend. Have pizza delivered and kick in a few extra bucks for them to make a liquor store stop. Delivery person gets a nice tip, you don’t have to leave the house, everybody wins.

I do not by any means want to say that single women cannot, should not, make lovely meals for themselves; cannot, should not treat themselves to good food regardless of their status in the kingdom of coupledom. Indeed single women can and should. What I am saying is typically, we just don’t and often times when we decide we can and will and get up the moxie to go to the grocery store, list in hand, ready to make ourselves a salmon swimming in dill and capers we get to the store and . . . and . . . and I don’t know what happens. We just buy yoghurt and diet soda and call it a day.