Easter Parade

April 14, 2017 Permalink 4


There are so many things to love about Easter even for a heathen such as myself.   The fashion for one.   Biblical law requires us all to purchase a new frock especially for the occasion and I’m fine with any excuse to buy new clothes.  (I believe the Easter dress mandate can be found in the book of Parisians.)  Additional Easter fun includes: searching for hard-boiled eggs that have been bathed in food coloring and vinegar, consuming copious amounts of rabbit-shaped chocolate,  and enduring public humiliation at the hands of your niece.


My niece is what my great aunt Mary would have called a pistol.  The kid can launch a zinger like no one else and it’s damn impressive.   She is obsessed with my state of singledom and brings it up during any moments of silence.  Her greatest dinner table hits of late include questions as to why Aunt Cat is not married, why Aunt Cat has no children, and what is wrong with Aunt Cat.  Each is, indeed, a million dollar question.  The tiny genius has both the questions and answers.


Question: Why is Aunt Cat not married?

Answer:  Because she is having trouble finding a husband.

Question: Why does Aunt Cat not have any children?

Answer: Because she can’t find anyone to get married to.

Question:  What’s wrong with Aunt Cat?

Answer: She is a goofball.


Her zinger-slinging aim is impeccable, and two years ago on Easter Sunday, she hit a bullseye.  In addition to my marital status, she is also obsessed with underpants.  As in who IS or IS NOT wearing underpants.  An interesting question to be sure, but perhaps one best mused privately.  And perhaps not on Easter.


Easter 2015 was the closest we’ve ever come to a full holiday win. Through the grace of whatever higher power, we managed to complete a brutal Easter morning itinerary.  Easter baskets were located, eggs hunted, breakfast served, morning news shows watched, Easter attire donned, photographs snapped, everyone buckled into a vehicle and arrived at the church.  EARLY.  Never in history has of our family arrived punctually to a place of worship.  Spirits were high.


Child in-church behavior was on point.  No one had to be escorted out due to tantrum or the destruction of French hand sewn lace.  At lunch, food remained on the table and nary a scream could be heard.  I felt as though I was living in some kind of Hayley Mills Disney epic.  As we prepared to leave the dining table I allowed the triumph to morph into arrogance.  I threw hard shade to some squirming children as they smeared banana pudding all over their monogrammed lace collars.  I was feeling pretty superior, really rather smug about our behavioral achievement.


But the smug they shall be smitten.


It happened so fast.   The 5-year-old pistol secured a firm grip on the hem of my too-short-for-church dress, hoisted it heavenward, and squealed,


Aunt Cat’s not wearing underpants! 


It took a moment for me to register the draft.  Just long enough for me to solidly moon the entire Easter luncheon crowd at our country club. My bare derriere was met with gasps,  snickering, and somewhere faintly in the distance, applause.


For the record, I WAS wearing underpants.  I was wearing the requisite Commando thong.  But that’s not underwear to 5.  The Commando blew her little mind apart.   “What is that?? Why doesn’t it have a bottom??”  she howled as I dragged her out through the foyer.  The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to ignore the barrage of questions pertaining to my chosen undergarment.  I finally gave her a new Commando and she spent the rest of the afternoon in deep scientific research while I ate all the chocolate in her Easter basket.


Sunday marks the two year anniversary of my great Easter moon.  My dress is a bit longer this year but not by much.  However, I have been a bit savvier in undergarment planning.


Requisite Commando thong.

Roll of strategically placed duct tape.

She’s 7 now, but still a pistol…


 With The Pistol

Easter 2015







Barbie vs the American Girl Doll

March 7, 2017 Permalink 1

Our female youth is in crisis and I place the blame squarely on the juggernaut that is the American Girl Doll empire.  American Girl Dolls.  So this is what it has come to, catching butterflies in wicker baskets in the year 1904…

My God…
the horror.

At seven my life was pinned on the comings and goings (in a Corvette, no less) of the almighty Barbie, not some chunky boring baby doll in a 1950’s housewife costume.  BARBIE.  And I don’t mean the new politically anatomically correct Barbies. You can take the curvy, petite, and tall Barbies and stick them right up your bum.  Nope, I mean original Barbie:  jacked titties, negative waistline, no ass, blonde Barbie. The real effing deal.  And she was gold.

Barbie had no snoozerific backstory.  We all assumed Barbie’s parents had died in a sad but none too gruesome boating accident off the coast of California when their yacht hit inclement weather.  But Barbie was smart enough to handle her own s**t and subsequently set herself up in a sweet penthouse with her hot boyfriend and kid sister.  She was in control and living the American Dream.

Barbie didn’t waste time being a kid, she was busy getting stuff done and being world-class awesome. She had legit business ventures and worked her flat tanned tush off.  She managed an ice cream cart, a hair salon, a McDonald’s franchise, and that Dream Store didn’t run itself.  She got through med school and went on to be a veterinarian while continuing to work out in her own gym, master the art of fashion, and still have plenty of time to relax with a pink lemonade on her outdoor Dream Patio Furniture.

The girl was going places; Malibu beach parties, nights in the spa, weekends spent riding her Palomino.  On Monday she’d hop on her ten-speed and take off to her job as an aerobics instructor / cowgirl. At night she’d quick-change into one of her thousand evening gowns for dinner with Ken.  Dinner was at 7 PM sharp and it was always black tie.  

Barbie and Ken were the real deal and yes, they absolutely banged.  A lot.  Not dirty nasty banging, just good clean banging with the absence of genitalia.   Ken was never out cruising for other chicks because I mean, let’s face it, Ken existed to be Barbie’s bitch.  He did whatever she wanted and that worked for us.

My sister and our friend Erica logged some knockdown drag-outs over Barbie, because Barbie play was serious biz.  If you wanna be Peaches ’n’ Cream Barbie, you better show me that you can handle that stole.  If not, you can roll yourself back to playing Skipper.  Kicking ass and taking names: Barbie lesson #823.  The arms have to go through the stole, moron.

Last weekend as I watched my niece thumb through the American Girl Doll store offering of flannel pajamas, eye glasses, and crutches, my soul began to weep.  Are you are telling me that dolls no longer wear high heels and attend formal events with a smoking hot date in an insanely overpriced sports car?  Has the whole darn world gone CRAZY ?

I want more for my 7-year-old niece than some basic doll utterly lacking in glamor and ambition.  I want her to understand that all things are possible.  That you CAN be an astronaut while wearing designer pumps, having a perfect blowout, and living in a cliffside beach view condo in Malibu.   

Think about that.  And while you do, Barbie will play a few rounds of Bach on her white electric piano on the first floor of the Dream House before Skipper and pals show up for a late afternoon soiree at the Dream Pool. 

Fire up the grill, Ken.

The Black (Pants) Death

February 8, 2017 Permalink 0

My mother is convinced that a pair of black pants solves every crisis. For years she has mistakenly labored under the impression that black pants go with everything. For the record, they don’t.

Thanks to me, my mom can boast a closet of beautiful and currently fashionable clothing. But were I to suddenly and tragically be struck down by a bus, I have no doubt that she would toss her Louboutins, head to the petite department at Talbots, and proceed to trash my memory with matron-wear.

I received yet another call from her several weeks ago bearing that all too familiar question, “What about my black pants!”

Every time she poses this question a piece of my soul dies.


“Mom, you have a pair of black pants and a nice pair of black jeans.”

“No those are old and stretched out. And I can’t wear jeans every day.”

“Well, you can’t wear black pants and a white blouse every day either. You look like a waitress. Maybe what you need is some flair.”

“What’s flair?

“Forget it, it’s from a movie.”

“I just need you to find me a pair of black pants.”

“Why don’t you wear those nice Stella McCartney pants?”

“Well those are pink and they don’t go with everything.”

“They’re not pink, they’re salmon. And we bought two blouses to go with them.”

“Well, they don’t go with everything!”

“Neither do black pants.”

“Yes, they do!”

“Mom, you’re killing me.”

“No I’m not, but I will if you don’t find me some black pants.”

I have had black pants shipped to her from the far corners of this great nation. The return shipping costs alone could have fueled the economy of Nicaragua. I think this is a game to her, the Most Dangerous Game. It’s a scavenger hunt to the death.

I sat in front of the computer for 3 hours scouring the internet for acceptable trousers. I ordered 8 pairs. This morning I received a call from my mom requesting my input as to what she should wear to a luncheon. This is another exciting game we play, it’s called “Please assemble my outfit from 3000 miles away.” She meticulously listed the parameters of what kind of attire would be acceptable. After taking it all in, and I cannot believe that I am about to suggest this, I say, “What about wearing black pants?”

“Oh, honey! I can’t wear just an old pair of black pants!


Check-in at the nervous hospital is 3 PM.

I’ll be there.

The Nut Case

December 7, 2016 Permalink 3
Grand Rapids Ballet experiencegr.com

Grand Rapids Ballet


Every December, like clockwork, I get knocked down by a severe wave of nausea and I think I will drown in the undertow.  It has nothing to do with a stomach flu or a bad shrimp dinner.  It’s fallout from my days in The Nutcracker

At the age of 11, I was possessed by ballet.  POSSESSED.  My parents should have thought to employ an exorcist.  I went insane jumping and twirling around our house.  I flung my legs into the air and onto any surface that would hold them.  It was a low point for my parents.  My ballet fanaticism was at best annoying.  At its worst, it resulted in both physical injury and property damage.  I was responsible for a few broken ribs, a hole in the wall, and the utter destruction of my mother’s wedding china.  Dental bills were a concern because, as my mother put it, it was only a matter of time until I knocked out all their teeth.

My ballet mania culminated around my desperation to be cast as a “party child” in our local production of The Nutcracker.  The Nutcracker was a legitimate ballet, not some crapper end of the year recital.  Party Child.  Those casual little words cannot possibly convey the sheer amazingness of the role.  If you had a flying car, a brand new pair of Guess jeans, and a lifetime supply of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, you would still be light years away from Party Child.

The party children were the chosen, the beautiful people.  They were girls ages 11-13 who could inhale four boxes of girl scout cookies and still look emaciated. They had good hair, didn’t need glasses, and always had cool dance bags.   It was a clique I would have happily sacrificed a chicken to join.  PARTY CHILD.  I was gonna get there if it killed me.

I had been working my tail off in ballet class along with the aforementioned extra practices at home. On the Sunday of the auditions, I threw down some Tammy Faye Bakker inspired cry-praying at church before my parents took me to a pre-game meal at the Olive Garden.  I was hopped up on fettucini alfredo and laser focused on my prize.  My stomach was in knots thanks to nerves and an overdose of carbs, but no stomach cramp was going to blow this for me.  Hours passed and finally a disembodied hand reached through the door and slapped the list to a wall.  My classmates squealed with delight as they read their names under that glorious banner.   My name was not there.  With a kind of cinematic slow motion nose dive, I scanned the list and found my name under, Rats.

I did not see this coming.

When I was 5 years old, my ultra-strict ballet teacher refused to let me leave class to go to the bathroom and I lost charge of my bladder in the middle of the floor.  Standing in a pool of my own urine was far less embarrassing than being cast as a rodent in the biggest ballet production of the year. How could this have happened?!

Perhaps because this was me round Nutcracker audition time.


If they had been casting the role of Chunk’s long lost sister in The Goonies,

I would have been a shoo-in.

After years of reflection, I now understand that the girls who were the fatties, basket cases, and nose pickers ended up as rats.  I was a fattie rat.  I was joined in the rat club by my friend Shelley (also a fattie rat) as well as four older girls no one had ever seen.  They had clearly never attended a ballet class and probably turned up for the audition on a dare.  But since everyone who auditioned was promised a part, they were lumped into the rat pack with us. 

The blessed party girls, unencumbered by pounds, puberty, or vision problems, were fitted for delicate lace pantaloons.  I was loaded into a fat suit the color of an expired armadillo.  You stepped into the suit from the back and stood still while an ornery old woman jammed in extra padding to fill it out.  The end result was a full body diaper carrying the world’s largest foam dump.  There is no way to clean years of sweat out of decaying felt, not that anyone had ever tried.  We smelled like a rotting corpse that had been stored in a swamp for safe keeping.  The suit was heavy, hot, and miserable. And going to the bathroom was a fuggedaboutit once you were strapped in.  At least the head was removable.

Oh the rat head.  You might as well have eaten a toilet.  Breathing wasn’t an option unless you had your hopes pinned on a staph infection.  Vision was limited.  Without my Sophia Petrillo glasses I couldn’t see my own feet so I was always one step away from taking a header into the orchestra pit.  I had to strip the head off every few minutes to avoid suffocation.  It was everything I never dreamed of.

Every Sunday afternoon for three months our loser posse rehearsed with the Rat King, a high school dude who, according to 11-year-old gossip, may or may not have killed a guy in the Hardee’s parking lot on Carter Hill Road.  The rat choreography boiled down to staying low to the ground, scurrying, and making rat hands.  It’s difficult to scurry while inhabiting a sweat sponge but a drunken truck driver could have managed it without rehearsal.   There was no ballet involved.  None.  This worked for the unidentified girls with no ballet training, their lack of elegance was rat ready.  But Shelley and I were pissed.  We signed up for tutus and hair ribbons and makeup and applause.  We did not sign up for endless suffering inside a wearable padded cell.

I know what you are thinking, by the time the curtain was up and the lights were hot we made the best of our characters and had a wonderful time.  Bullshit.  I would have rather amputated my own leg using Kool-Aid as an anesthetic.  We absolutely did not have fun.  We did not receive flowers.  We weren’t even photographed by our parents, there was simply no reason to memorialize the lack of achievement.  If you are an addict working through recovery, I encourage you to find employment as a Nutcracker rat. It’s the fastest track I can think of to rock bottom. 

I would liken the whole experience to Hurricane Katrina, except, unlike New Orleans, Shelley and I have never recovered.  To her credit, Shelley quit ballet shortly after our public shaming.  I, however, was no MENSA candidate. I continued to try to sway the ballet powers that be by my hardcore commitment to the craft.  For my efforts, I won myself another stint as rat dung before I was ‘promoted’ to soldier.  It was a lateral move.  Soldier is the second shittiest role in the ballet but at least your parents can see your face.  You wouldn’t know if it was me or Jeffrey Dahmer under that rat dome. 

I’m not saying that I’m still bitter.   I am.   I’m not saying that I still know the party child dance.   I do.    I’m not saying that our ballet directors were controlled by demonic forces.   Obviously.   Let me just say this.  Twenty years on I am thin, my teeth are straight, and I have had LASIK surgery.  According to Shelley, our small town ballet company is still cranking out The Nutcracker every year AND the auditions are still open to the public. 

Party Child 2017. 
I am coming for you.