Monday, September 30, 2013

Fly on the wall

“There’s no tackling in chess!” I yelled at my 8-year-old son and my old-enough-to-know-better husband on a Sunday afternoon.

I sat cross-legged on the family room floor, bent at the waist, protectively hovering over the chess pieces delicately perched on the board as said son and husband proceeded to engage in a wrestling match a hair’s breadth away.

As if playing this darn game wasn’t difficult enough...which way can the bishop move again and what exactly is checkmate and what do you mean I can’t spin the king like a top?!

Now they added full contact sport into the mix.

There I was. Minding my own business. Trying - once again - to learn chess because Lord knows the first 26 attempts completely and utterly failed.

But at least I had style.

The set includes beautiful, hard-carved pieces that I purchased from this cute-as-all-get-out toy store in Ireland last year.

When I saw the set perched on the shelf in the tiny shop, I had grand visions of gifting it to my son. Who, in turn, would pass it down to his own child. I smiled, knowing I was looking at what would soon become a freakin’ family heirloom. With a story that would begin with, “Great-grandma brought this back from the Old Country....”

I imagined my ancestors crowded around the chess set, recalling with fondness dear great-grandma. It was a beautiful moment, and I couldn’t get to the checkout counter fast enough.

And now here we were. I was trying to encourage a treasured family tradition and a wrestling match broke out because there’s way too much testosterone in our house.

...Anyone want a chess set?

I’ll give you a seriously good deal.

Probably even throw in a kid and a husband.

But not the dog.

I’m keeping her.


“According to scientists, do you know what the scariest dimension is?” my son asked from the back seat one morning.

Oh, crud. 

That question is waaaay too heavy for 7:30 in the morning as we made our way to school.

Not that I think it would be any easier to answer at 4 in the afternoon, but I will use the early morning hour as the excuse for my somewhat foggy brain that day.

At least that was my thought until I actually began thinking about what he had asked.

The scariest dimension?

Say whaaat?

OK. I got this. I took physics.

Uh, about 20 years ago. But I got an A and it’s not like they changed it or anything over the years, right?

So...there’s time. That’s a dimension.

And space. That’s another one.

And...uh...I’m thinking.

Oh, I got it: the size of my overweight rear-end. That’s most definitely a dimension.

Of those three choices, I know which one I would characterize as most scariest. But the scientific community?

Wow. That hurts.

And soooo judgmental of those pocket-protecting-wearing, no-date-for-the-prom dunderheads.

See? I can do judgmental too.

In any case, I just turned 40. It takes a lot more work than it used to. Get off my case, brainiacs.

But before I could work myself up into a extreme and justifiable righteous indignation, my son solved the mystery for me.

“It’s Dimension X,” he confidently announced from the back seat.


I was nowhere near the right answer.

But I was feeling a lot better about my weight. But not so much about my IQ.

“What the heck is Dimension X?” I asked.

Silence. Then, “Well, I can’t remember,” he said, “but I read it somewhere. So it must be true.”

Score one for literacy.

The jury’s still out on the value of the Internet.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Stay" doesn't work on a cat

Lucky the Cat

I’m not a runner.

Unless someone is chasing me with a knife.

...It happens more often than you think. (Some people just don’t have a sense of humor.)

So when it comes to exercising, I’m more of a Let’s Go For A Walk To The Nearest Donut Shop kinda girl.

Sure, it’s counterproductive. But my world is a matter of checks and balances.

Until I noticed my clothes had suddenly shrunk because I’d had a Snickers bar for breakfast....

12 times last month. 

Uh, there’s really no way to balance that out, is there?

And since the dog looks like she’s been on a steady diet of steak and chicken for half her life (she has), I decided it was time for us two girls to take back the world and do a little exercising.

Just not running.

Unless there’s a guy. With a knife.


It was a beautiful day. The shine was shining, the temperature was perfect, and there we were, me and my girl tackling the world.

Working the muscles.

Feeling the burn.

At least for about 30 yards.

That’s when I heard the most mournful sound in the world - a pitiful, sighing, “MEOW.”

I turned around to see our cat halfway up the street, apparently having opted to go for a walk too.

“Hey, you,” I shooed her. “Cats don’t go for walks!”

Unless they’re saber-toothed tigers looking for lunch. And nothing about the small 18-month-old kitty screamed “PREDATOR!” so no way was she allowed to follow us for a walk.

For the record, she wasn’t even allowed out of the yard. And there’s a very good chance a large squirrel would have eaten her for lunch.

So I ordered her little kitty butt back home, tugged on the dog’s leash and turned back around to head up the street once again.

I took two steps and again heard, “MEOW.”

I turned around to see that our cat had completely ignored my earlier directive to go back home.

What the hell? I had pointed and shouted and waved my hands and everything! And she just dissed me like that? Seriously?

Who’s in charge here? Who’s walking upright, on two legs? Who’s the evolved one here?!

Me, that’s who!

I walked toward her, dragging the dog behind me. Who, at this point, has no clue which way we’re going or why we keep walking in circles.

I got thisclose to the cat, reached down to pick her up and - scat - off she went. Across the street and up a tree in the neighbor’s yard.

Oh, for the love of God.

I marched over - dog in tow - and shouted, “Get down from there!”

But, no. For some reason the cat wouldn’t listen to me.

So I did what any reasonable person would do.

“Stay!” I hollered at her.

It works for the dog. Might as well see if the feline version works.

For the record?

“Stay” doesn’t work on a cat.

Two more steps and “MEOW!” from right behind my heels.

Gawddammit! You have got to be kidding me.


This right here is why people don’t exercise.

It’s not because we’re lazy.

It’s because the universe is clearly against us.

I leaned down and scooped her kitty butt up before she had a chance to make a break for it and walked the three houses back home.

She wiggled. She squirmed. She howled.

“I thought you wanted to go for a walk,” I growled at her. “So this is us. Going for a walk.”


Yes, please, let’s stop here. Again. For the eighth time in just this one block alone. To smell a patch of grass where one dog - or 20 - peed once upon a time.

For the record, walking a dog sucks.

Then out of the blue I hear, “Beautiful dog you got there.”

I looked up to see that a car had pulled up alongside us, the driver leaning over to get a closer view of my dog.

I smiled like a cat with the canary, waved the leash in his direction and quipped, “Thanks! She’s all yours!”

The smile immediately slid off his face, he straightened up, hit the gas and sped down the street; apparently feeling the need to get as far away as possible from the crazy lady giving away free dogs.

And cats.

I’ve got cats too.