Category Archives: Childhood Traumas

That Look

The disgusting man got “The Mom look,” after he did it right next to me.  Seriously grossed me out.

I was standing in front of the gas station late this afternoon watching the sun set, while my car was getting its safety inspection. The sky above the bank across the street was aflame — the colors rivaled some of the tropical sunsets I’ve seen.  You never know where you’ll see something beautiful.  Or not.

A pickup truck pulled up and stopped just to my left. The driver got out, crossed in front of his truck, walking towards the station’s office.  That’s when he did it.

“Hhhaaackkkkkkkkkk-plew…”

There are few things more disgusting than some guy who needs to spit a germmy, phlegmmy glop of goo on the sidewalk.   This delightful gent spat out a huge louie right in front of the door to the gas station.  Right where anybody who needs to go inside must step.  Thanks, pal.

I did not hide my disgust.  “Uck — that’s gross!” I commented as I gave him The Mom Look.   The look that says “You are the grossest human on the planet.”  It is not nice to be on the receiving end of it, let me tell you.

In real life, I only saw it once. But that was plenty.  I still feel rotten about it.  Mostly.  Although, like watching the guy who will get smacked by the ladder, or slip on the banana peel, I still have to laugh when I think of it.  I just can’t help it.

As I may have mentioned a zillion times, my mother was an incredibly sweet woman.   One of those people who made everybody feel like they were special. One who rarely had an unkind word for anybody.

Except probably that day, although I don’t remember any.   All I remember was that that was the day The Mom Look was born.

The house I grew up in had a mirror in the front hall. Mom was a bit vain – with good reason – she did a fair amount of primping in front of that mirror.  My brother Fred and I liked to hang out at the top of the stairs just over Mom, and pretend to drop stuff on her head.  I was six or seven.  Fred was a more mature nine or ten.

Like all of our games, the allure of dropping a ball only to catch it before it could hit Mom quickly lost its allure. And so we started dropping things on either side of her.

Mom not only had 5 kids and so was not easily ruffled, but she was a really good sport. She would stay at the mirror, letting us bomb her with stuff while she fixed her hair, pretending not to notice the ever-increasing pile of toys that suddenly landed to her right. To her left. Behind her.  She’d dawdle there and let us have our fun.

“Now who left these toys here,” she’d say, confiscating them as part of our unspoken game.

Then Fred had an idea.  It had to have been Fred’s idea. I’m sure of it. All our most evil plans came from his diabolical mind. I was merely the faithful sidekick. And it was definitely his recipe – he’s a guy.  Guys instinctively know how to do this.

We were at the top of the stairs, when Fred cleared his throat. Brought up some phlegm. Mixed it with spit. A “Louie.”

He leaned over the railing, looking down at the top of Mom’s head.

He let his louie out of his mouth about an inch. Downwards, towards Mom’s innocent, unsuspecting head, twelve feet below before sucking Louie back up into his mouth.

Fred did it again, letting it go lower, before snapping it back and swallowing it.  Wow — he was good! It was hilariously daring and dangerous and there was no way we could get in trouble.

It was possibly the funniest thing either of us had ever done.  We wiped tears away and rubbed our bellies we’d laughed so hard.

“What are you two giggling about?” Mom said cheerfully from below.

For a bit, I was content to watch Fred. He’d clear his throat, combine just the right ratio of phlegm and spit and down it would go. Dangerously far away from his mouth.

But Fred was a master. He snapped it back up each time, just as it looked about to fall.  He made it look so easy!

Naturally, I insisted that I get a turn.  It’s the trap that all faithful sidekicks fall into sooner or later.   OK, I fell into it all the time.  I’m pretty sure that’s why Fred let me hang around with him so much.

I was not a louie master.

In fact, my first try led to the Mom Look. Because I apparently did not get the ratio of phlegm/spit quite right. It didn’t have the elasticity that Fred’s had had.  Or I didn’t have the suck-up action down quite right.

I can still see it happen as all bad memories do, in slow motion. Me leaning over the railing with Fred next to me. Both of us watched in horror as the inevitable happened.

Uh, Mom? Meet Louie.  Louie, Meet Mom’s head.

At first she assumed dropped a toy on her head. But when I said “I’m sorry Mom” with eyes velvet-painting-sized with guilt, well, somehow Mom Knew.

Moms always know.

That was when she gave me The Mom Look, just that one time.

I have never forgotten it. That poor, sweet woman with a humongous wad of my spit and phlegm on top of her lovely curls. I’m pretty sure I have never felt so bad about doing anything to anybody as I did for spitting on my mother’s head from the upstairs hall.

*     *     *

So guys (and faithful sidekicks), don’t spit in public or you, like the guy at the gas station today, will get The Mom Look. Spitting is just sooooooo gross.

I considered posting a video, but decided against it.  You’re welcome.

 

*     *     *

Oh no.  This is my 400th post.  I’m pretty sure Mom is laughing uproariously at the subject matter.  And she probably has The Mom Look on, just for good measure.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Family, History, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

It’s a Jungle Out There

Since the video I posted about the wrong mascot for the GOP was such a hit, I figured I needed to post another animal piece.

This one represents thankfulness for healthcare.

 

It says it happened in “Columbia,” but I’m quite sure they mean in the “District of Columbia.”  Positive.

(My thanks to Father Kane of The Last of the Millennials who posted this video with far less snark than I.)

 

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Filed under Campaigning, Childhood Traumas, Elections, Health and Medicine, Humor, Pets, Taking Care of Each Other, Voting, Wild Beasts

Not One More

Maybe you’ve seen this before.  Maybe you haven’t.  But it is worth watching.  It is worth seeing again.

 

We do everything we can to protect our kids from possible dangers.  Except when it comes to guns.  Really.  How can we as a country, we as thinking rational people, we as parents continue to let the NRA decide.

Get rid of politicians who won’t stand up to the NRA.  Get rid of politicians who think that it is just dandy that anybody can get a gun.  Or collect enough of them to maintain an arsenal.

Protect your family.  Vote these folks out of Dodge.

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Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Cancer, Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, Family, GOP, Gun control, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Hypocrisy, Law, Mental Health, Politics, Stupidity, Voting

A Sunny September Day

“It is September 24! You’ll catch your death.” Mom declared. “You may not go swimming with your friends.”

“Moooommmmmmm.”

I couldn’t believe it. I’d finally, finally, finally been invited to the cool kids beach by Cathy, a seriously cool girl. And Mom was telling me that I couldn’t go. Or that I couldn’t go swimming, which was what people do at the beach.

We compromised. I got to go to the beach with a promise not to swim. A promise I was planning to break just as soon as it was out of my mouth. Mom wouldn’t be there – she’d never know. And she didn’t until much later.

Mom was being ridiculous, I thought – it was a warm September day, in the 80s. A perfect, last beach day of the year.

In spite of growing up on the beach, I was (and am) a rotten swimmer. I never really learned to get very far or very fast. I splash around in the water in something a half notch above a dog paddle.

But I love the water.

Early on I learned to back float forever. When I tire after my first 10 strokes, I turn over, point my head in the direction I want to go, and meander through the water. I watch the gulls overhead, see pictures in the clouds, daydream. It’s wonderful. Relaxing. Peaceful.  Not at all tiring.

In elementary school, Burying Hill Beach was where the cool kids went in the summer. It wasn’t my beach.  I was not generally invited there. But when school started that September, Cathy took a liking to me, and invited me to meet her and some other friends there.

In fact, there were tons of people at the beach that day. It was likely to be the last sunny, warm day for swimming at the beach. Everybody in 7th grade was there. Everybody in our class and all the other classes. The beach was packed.

For some reason I don’t recall, Cathy wanted to swim in the causeway that runs between Burying Hill and Sherwood Island State Park. All the cool kids did it. At least when the life guard wasn’t looking, they did. In fact, it was probably what the lifeguards spent most of their time doing all summer long – chasing people off the jetty and away from the causeway. Of course it was late September; there was no lifeguard. We were free to swim wherever we pleased.   As we stood there considering the other side, we heard half-hearted warnings from behind us, which, naturally, we ignored. We’d crossed to Sherwood Island earlier in the day. What was their problem?

Google Image, Natch.

Google Image, Natch.

“Race you across!” said Cathy. And in she went.

Ingrid and I looked at each other, shrugged, and dove in after Cathy, who quickly outpaced us. Soon, I was left far behind even mediocre swimmer Ingrid.

It had been really easy to swim the causeway just an hour or two ago. Even I managed it.  But of course, the tide had ebbed, and was now going out. And while the water looked completely placid, the tidal current was heading straight out. Fast.  And it took me with it, out towards Long Island, 30 wet miles away.

But don’t worry. Remember, I am a champion floater. Possibly the best back floater ever.  Olympic-quality floating.  (Hey, synchronized swimming is an event.  Don’t judge.)

I wasn’t scared in the least. I turned over on my back, pointed my head towards shore (I had long since passed the end of the jetty) and started kicking my feet and flapping my arms. I was making good progress, getting out of the strong part of the current. I was heading to Long Island a little more slowly. And besides, it was a beautiful day, the water was warm, the sky was blue. It was delightful. And I knew I’d make it back to shore. I only hoped I’d make it before dinner. I was supposed to be home by then.  If I didn’t make it, my mother’d kill me.

I don’t know how long I was floating, enjoying myself, when I was rudely interrupted. Some man just swam up to me and started shouting stuff to me.  At me.

“Put your arms around my neck,” he ordered. “And don’t be afraid. I’ve got you now.”

“Afraid of what?” I asked. “What does this guy want?” I wondered. Fortunately, I kept that thought to myself.

But I did as I was told for the first time that day, and held onto his neck. I must admit, that it was easier to see the crowd that had formed on the shore while my head was above the water.  What’s everybody looking at?

So the man towed me in, chatting all the while.

“You’re very calm. Some people panic,” he said.

Frankly, I was more panicked about having my arms around a strange man, to tell you the truth. That’s why people panic, I thought. It was quite humiliating, in fact.

As soon as we got in, somebody else immediately wrapped me up in a towel and started rubbing my arms and back as if I was suffering from hypothermia.

“I’m OK!” I kept saying over and over again. Why is everybody making such a fuss? I wondered.  What’s the big deal?  I would have made it.

I imagine I thanked him. I’m sure I did. Positive. I mean, I do have manners. I just can’t remember thanking him or anybody else.  I thought they’d overreacted.  (They hadn’t.)

It seemed that Cathy had made it to the other side. Ingrid, like me, had gotten back to dry land on some other unknown man’s back. I vowed to become a better swimmer, because it really is embarrassing to be hauled out of the water like a flounder.

I learned not long afterwards that Jenny L’s father had been the guy who fished me out.

Each of us went home, vowing never to tell our parents the story of that day. Nobody told.  Strangely, nobody else let our parents know, either.  Life was better when nobody was a tattle-tale.

But just like the promise I broke to my mother that day, I broke my pledge of silence.

I told Mom in 1982 when she was staying with me after my operation.

“What?!?!” she shouted. “Somebody saved your life and I didn’t even get to thank him?” She was mortified. Laughing, but mortified.

“You would have killed me yourself if you’d known at the time.”

“You are in such trouble for going swimming when I told you not to.”

“Mom, this happened in 1968.”

“… wait until I tell your Dad.”

 

*     *     *

 

In a couple of weeks I’ll be going to my 40th High School Reunion. I sure hope that Jenny’s there, and that her Dad is still alive. I hope that I can at last pass on my parents’ deepest thanks, and my own, for his unheralded rescue.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Family, Huh?, Humor, Mom, Taking Care of Each Other

Monsters’ Throwdown — A Blogger Book!

As a person with Crohn’s Disease, I have seen my fair share of toilets, and my experiences there have been memorable.  And sometimes life threatening (especially if Goliath was involved).

And while I fully expect to die on a toilet, I was not born in one.

The same cannot be said of Eleanor Tomczyk, who writes a terrific blog called How the hell did i end up here?  If you don’t already know Eleanor, go on over.  She always brings a smile, makes you think, makes you laugh.

The story of her life is written up in her memoir, Monsters’ Throwdown — from her disastrous beginnings being born in a toilet, through her triumphs.  Eleanor always managed, somehow, to keep her head above water.

Monsters’ Throwdown will make you cry, make you laugh, make you thank your lucky stars that you didn’t have to go through what Eleanor did to just survive.  But Eleanor did much more than that — she thrived.  And we are all the better for it.

Monster's Throwdown

Available at Amazon — which, coincidentally, is where I got this image.

In today’s world, where racism has become, once again, less hidden, Monsters’ Throwdown is a book worth reading, and its lessons of survival, people helping people, love and triumph leave me very hopeful.

The book is available in paperback and on kindle through Amazon at this link.

Well, what are you waiting for???????

 

 

 

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Filed under Bloggin' Buddies, Books, Childhood Traumas, Family, Humor, Taking Care of Each Other

On Your Way Out

She’s leaving. What a shame. What a pity.

Can I make a confession? I think that Barbara Walters is largely responsible for the sad state of our news media.  She started the trend that became the norm:  news that focuses on the scandal, the people, the intrigue instead of the, ummmm, news.

Yup, I lay it all on Baba.

Before Baba, TV news was above the fray.  Remember Cronkite?  Huntley/Brinkley?  Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner?  News was news.  It focused on what happened. On the event and its place in the current day and its context in history in a serious way.   It was informative, not entertaining.  And that, I believe, is how it should be.  Because news is serious business and it should be treated as such.  Is it today?  I don’t think so.  Had Barbara Walters never existed, I honestly don’t think we could have the clowns at Fox — or on the left either.  News was news and sitcoms and variety shows took care of entertainment.

Since Baba, news has been completely people-focused. Everything is personality – nothing is action. I think that is very wrong.

Since Baba, news-folk have looked for the scandal, for the tears in the story — instead of the story itself. No story is complete without tears. Without scandal. Without some personality saying or doing something that can then be replayed, discussed, analyzed as if that matters more than the results of their actions.

Of course I’m biased.

I knew Harry Reasoner, slightly. One of his kids was (and is) a close friend of mine. So I was in and out of his house growing up. He was a great dad – involved but not intrusive. Interested. Humorous – very humorous.

I hung around his house when the folks in the Nixon White House took a particular dislike to him. That alone is a feather in his cap.

I hung around his house when he became anchor of the ABC Evening News.

[I once arrived at his front door in full makeup for a play – I had to borrow a prop from his daughter.  My makeup consisted of dirt, smeared on my face, a torn dress – a rag, really. Bare, dirty feet. He and his wife met me at the front door in formal attire – they were having a seriously fancy party. His comment was classic: “Why Elyse,” he said with a delighted chuckle (having already seen the play),  “you dressed so nicely for our party! Thanks for coming!” Mortified, I ran upstairs hopefully without being seen by the crowd of Who’s Who in the living room.

I hung around his house when Baba joined him. And when he went back to 60 minutes.

I had few substantive conversations with Mr. Reasoner. I never tried to learn the scoop. In fact, it was only years later that I understood what had happened to him.

Harry Reasoner was not, from everything I ever saw, a sexist. He was a newsman who cared about words and integrity and getting the facts, ma’am. He believed that the news should be the story. Not the person who deliverd the news He believed in getting the story right and in writing well. In letting the event tell the story.

Baba Wawa is retiring – at least in part.

But today will be her last time on “The View.”  But in the way she has done for five decades, Baba Wawa makes herself the story. And that is a huge part of the problem she created in the news industry. The story should be the news. Not the journalist.   Of course, Baba has been milking this retirement. She has been for a year now, and will for another year or so.  Probably until she dies.  Because, of course, Baba is the story don’t cha see.

She’s leaving. What a shame. Don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Family, History, Huh?, Wild Beasts, Writing

Be Careful What You Say To Strangers

When Madam Weebles wrote about three rude teenagers who insulted her, I was incensed.  I wanted to verbally castrate them, but then they have no balls, not even metaphorical ones.  But I’ve been thinking about it all day.  I’ve never been able to stand people who inflict themselves on others like these girls did to my friend Weebs.

Because for most of my life, I’ve attracted weirdos.  People just say strange things to me, often for no reason.  Jaw dropingly rude.  Sexist.  Inappropriate.  Some of them are purely mean spirited, like in Weebs’ case.   All  uncalled for.  I’d like to get back at all the people who do that sort of thing.

Do you always think of just the right thing to say if it happens to someone else?  Or, when it happens to you, do you think of a clever retort five minutes after the person is gone?

Yeah, me too.

But sometimes I come up with just the right way to get the asshole back.  OK, maybe twice I did it.  This story was one of those times.  And I’m still proud of this moment.

***

It was long, long ago.  So long ago that I was still living with my Mom and Dad.  Circa 1975, I’m thinking.  And Mom had sent me to Medi-Mart, a drug store, on an errand.

I must have been waiting for something, because I was standing in the aisle with the paperback books when a heavy-set greaser-type guy walked up to me.

Who wouldn't want HIM? (Google Image)

Who wouldn’t want HIM?
(Google Image)

“Nice tits.  I’d like to get my hands on them,” he said to me.

I looked at him, my eyes widening in serious indignation.  My retaliatory options quickly ran through my head.  In that split second of decision, I knew that could:

  • Walk off in a huff;
  • Swear at him;
  • Hit him with my purse

I also knew that none of those options would be at all satisfying, so I quickly rejected all of the above.  Instead, I decided that I would make sure he was never quite so rude to any other young woman ever again.  Ever.  In fact, I wanted to make sure that the word “tits” would cause his balls to shrivel up and fall off.

So I started flirting with him.

I batted my eyes, laughed.  Tipped my head suggestively.  Made him think that a guy saying “nice tits” to me was just what I was hoping for in a man.

“Well, how about if I give you a call,” he said after an indecently short time.

“Sure,” I said, I stuck my hand in my purse as if looking for a pen to write down my number.  “Why don’t you give me a call, just as soon as …” I looked at him with adoration, “just as soon as your voice changes OK?

“OK,” he said, a bit confused right off the bat.  And then he realized exactly what I meant.

“Why you BITCH!” he shouted at me as I walked away.

Fortunately, my dog, Kling, a large, protective German Shepherd mix was waiting for me in the car.  Because you should never piss off a greaser  unless you have backup.

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Filed under Childhood Traumas, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Dogs, Huh?, Humor, Stupidity