123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

La Papa

aHave you had that moment yet where you realize your parents realize that you're an adult?

It only took me 28 years.

My Dad and I were talking about the current economic hullabaloo. I was sorta trotting along with his reasoning, lulling somewhere between concession and resignation, when suddenly I countered one of my Dad's arguments with some economic data and the kind of logic that only a super-adult person might possess -- it doesn't matter what it was; it's boring.

But, yeah, I gave me ol' da the smartypants smackdown, I surely did.

And I saw a light in his eyes (the same greenish-grayish eyes that I have) that seemed to say, "How in the hell did you know that?"

And mine gleamed back, "Because I am adult now who knows these things. Scary, isn't it?"

We both got quiet, freaked out for a second, and then I said something that helped restore a sense of normalcy: "Oooh, I feel like cheese dogs and tater tots for dinner."

Then the moment was over, and we were both glad.

I'm the kid, he's the adult—that's the way it should be, I think. In fact, a lot of days I wish it were still OK to crawl up on his lap, him reading his Stephen King novel and I reading my Amelia Bedelia book, both of us silent in other worlds but still connected.

Now we talk about retirement accounts and plants that will tolerate the shade and how many miles you can go between oil changes. We fill up our time with so much conversation that we never get a chance to connect.

But, I tell you what, there is one great generational leveler: We both ate the shit out of some tater tots.

In the Comments section, tell me what your favorite frozen potato product is.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Fresh and So Clean

When I was 16, we found out our cleaning lady was stealing from me.

This was shocking for several reasons, chief among them was that my family had a cleaning lady. See, I grew up anywhere from at the poverty line to middle class, depending upon the year.

At that time we were, apparently, in the middle class. The cleaning lady was my step-Mom's idea. My Dad went along with it because, well, he had no choice. Still, he was unhappy with her excessive use of the Mop 'N Glo:

"I just bought a bottle last week! What's she do? Drink it?"

Her name was Dorothy, I think, and she came once a week on Tuesdays. I went to high school with her granddaughter – at least that's what Dorothy said. In a school with a couple hundred kids, I didn't know who her granddaughter was. Maybe I shouldn't have told Dorothy that.

In any case, I was working as a cashier at the Bi-Lo grocery store (along with my then-boyfriend Chad, ex-boyfriend Baby James, Baby James' current 23-year-old girlfriend Stephanie who bought us all wine coolers, and an assortment of polite young Vietnamese men all named Vang). I brought home roughly $119-$132 a week. High rolla!

No one taught me how to budget money, a lesson that's come back to bite me in the butt since then. But at the time, I employed a very scientific process of depositing $100 from my paycheck into my bank account and "living" off of the extra for the week, meaning I typically had about $24 in cash on me – and I always knew exactly how much I kept in my coffer (aka underpants drawer).

So, it was with great distress when, one Tuesday evening, I went to check my stash and found only $11 where $17 should have been.

I looked high and Bi-Lo for it. No where. I asked my parents if they "happened" to take it. No go.

We were all stumped. It was decided I was under the influence of wily teenage hormones and had no idea what I was talking about.

Then, the next Tuesday evening, I went to check my stash and found only $27 where $31 should have lived. Curiouser and curiouser. It seemed that the thief was making change from her takings. Strange.

My parents eventually put 10 and 9 together, and left a "bait" of $19 out for Dorothy. When they came home to $16, it was clear what needed to be done.

When Dorothy left, head low, so did my family's dreams of opulence. We couldn't even hire a proper cleaning lady, for Pete's sake.

So, we retreated solidly to a comfortable middle-class life that my folks upheld for years … until my Dad and Step-Mom dissented a few years ago to *boldly* buy a Rumba for the dog hair.

And I say good for them. My parents work hard. Very hard. In fact, I suspect their assets could afford them an existence far, far above the middle-class life that they lead.

But they stay grounded. In fact, their latest "thing" is Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. They compete with each other (with love, of course!) to see who can spend the least money during the week. For a hot minute, I thought my parents were taking debt advice from an English chef with an attitude, but I had my reality TV mixed up.

Put down that Mop 'N Glo, you stupid wanker!

No surprise that my Dad is winning the spend-thrift challange, though my Step-Mom has way cuter clothes.

Kids, I've been thinking about this because there are some crazy financial times coming. I make no bones about the fact that I still don't budget money – but I certainly know how to at this point. I hope you do, too.

And even if you aren't up to budgeting, whatever you do, don't hire a cleaning lady right now.

In the Comments section, tell me about something that someone stole from you.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Kidding Around

I wish I could be a selfless person but the fact is that I am not. I am totally wrapped up in my own head and that even means when it comes to the Sept. 11 tragedy. The anniversary of this day always spurs me to think about the BIG LIFE THINGS I still want to do and my hopes that I get the chance.

Recently, I thwarted the idea that my biological clock had started a-tickin'. Well, let me tell you, kids, I believe I was in denial. Or lying. Or both.

(Side note: I think I just came up with a new phrase for biological yearning: wovaries. Woe+ovaries. Geddit?)

In any case, I've been thinking of love and marriage and kids and front-loading washing machines a lot lately. Not, like, crazy, "I gots to pop out some babies pronto." But, for the first time in my life, I'm starting to notice (and believe) that I would make a very good mother.

Wipe that smirk off your face, buster.

(See there? I'm a natural. Now get your hands out of your pants. That's not polite.)

No, really. I mean, I can apply Band-Aids, don't mind puke, know a zillion different ways to sneak vegetables into meals and have 300 different uses for pipe cleaners (and 298 of them are kid friendly).

I also have infinite reserves of patience, which, sadly, up to this point has been largely wasted on unworthy boyish men who have no desire to understand the advantages of moving outside of their parent's house.

I reneged on this statute for a while but I am proclaiming, once and for all (again), if you live at home and are NOT taking care of an ill parent or performing otherwise necessary duties, I cannot date you. More importantly, I cannot have sex with you when your mother is down the hall. It. Just. Doesn't. Work. For. Me. (If you know what I mean.)

I think part of a parent's job is kicking your kids the hell out when it's time. In fact, I was considering kicking out a particular little kid the other day.

My nephew, Sam, was busy with one spindly finger up his nose, when he cavalierly asked, "Aunt Beans, why don't you ever get out of your PJs or look pretty?"

Do you know how humiliating it is to have a five-year-old criticize your dressing and hygiene habits as he's standing there fishing for boogers in full Batman costume (complete with wings and a mask) while sporting a chocolate pudding mustache?

No, you probably do not. But that's probably because, unlike me, you don't work from home, a place where showering and changing clothes makes about as much sense as dating the past couple of guys I've rendezvoused with, which is to say none at all.

Who do I have to impress? The mail carrier?

Besides, we do a fair amount of swimming, which is just as good bathing in my book.

See?!? I would make a great mom.

In the Comments section, tell me why you would be/are a great parent.

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