Is This Reality? (an Election Day reprise)

vote

For Election Day, I dug up a column from 2008 where I suggested that the Presidential Election would be more interesting if it were more like a reality show.  I was only kidding, people.

Now – GO VOTE!!!

 

 

I love presidential election years.  As a political junkie, I love the debates, the verbal sparring and the meaningful discourse.  I love hearing the candidates parse the issues.  But as I watched yet another debate where the field of candidates clamored to out-answer one another, and at times threatened to break into a full-blown Jerry Springer Show moment, I couldn’t help but think something has gone horribly wrong with this process.

But my good ol’ American pride jumped up in full force – that’s why this country is great, we get to cast our vote for the president.  It’s a democracy dammit. Your vote counts, unless of course, your chad is hanging.  It is our right, duty and obligation to participate in the political process. Casting your vote for the leader of the free world is one of the traditions we hold sacred, right behind jury duty.  But as I heard the candidates drone on with talking points that didn’t even match the question, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could improve the system.  If a political junkie like me is getting bored with it, what’s the average take-it-or-leave-it voter thinking?  With the thought of having to endure a year of political commercials and endless debates where “Oh yeah, YOUR greasy granny” has become a perfectly acceptable retort, I’ve come up with a plan revamp politics as we know it.  It’s a world free of electronic voting machine hassles, hanging chads and superdelegates.

This plan is based, in part, on an alarming trend – more people can name who is on Dancing With the Stars or the American Idol finalists than can name the current members of the presidential cabinet or sitting members of the Supreme Court.  The Nielsen polls really say it all, the American public loves reality television, the stars and a bit of drama, so why not pack all of that into our presidential election?

What this country needs, and what I think Americans would support, is a presidential election based in reality – reality television, that is.  With the popularity of Survivor, Fear Factor, the Great Race and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, wouldn’t it be infinitely more fun (and entertaining) to see the presidential candidates do something other than wear a suit and tie (and now this year even pantyhose) and drone on like some Disney animatronic.  And just for fun, let’s give a nod to the one of this country’s long-time annual television traditions, the Miss America Pageant, and include a swimsuit competition as part of the festivities.  Let’s give the American voter the whole she-bang.

Now I’ve repeatedly heard John McCain’s views on the war, but can he merengue with J. Lo?  Sure he’s tough on crime but does he know the words to Dude Looks Like a Lady?   Hillary wants universal health care but would she be willing to bob for a pig’s tongue in a vat of lard?  She’s made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t bake cookies but does she have what it takes to be the next Iron Chef?  I know Obama wants to lower taxes for the middle class but how does he look in a swimsuit?  We know he has a plan for getting the troops out of Iraq but can he sing like a true American Idol?  These are issues that we as a nation could embrace.  I’m betting that the American public would be glued to the tube each week giving each episode their undivided attention.

I say out with the delegate system and in with Don’t Forget the Lyrics.  I mean, if you can’t remember the words to Philadelphia Freedom, should you really be president anyway?  We could make it a year-long competition, throw your name in the hat and get ready for the weekly challenges which would be broadcast live on CNN.  By November, it would be narrowed down to the lone Survivor after the other candidates have been voted off the island.

And just like American Idol, why limit the votes to just one?  Just dial the 1-800 number or go online and cast your vote.  Again and again and again.  Vote early, vote often.  We’ll not only Rock the Vote, America, we’ll get the reality in American politics that we deserve.  What’s the worst that could happen? No matter who wins, at least we’ll have a hoofer in the White House.

 

 

When Baby Makes Three

holding baby

There are certain events in life that are tailor made for a contract. Buying a home? Get it in writing. Landed a new job with a big fat salary and a comprehensive dental plan? It’s only a reality after you sign your John Hancock. Have a bunch of moola before you get married? Better get a pre-nup.

So shouldn’t it follow that BEFORE your baby is even conceived, parents-to-be should sign on the dotted line to map out every little detail of the upcoming child- rearing gig? That’s exactly the arrangement, dubbed a “pre-pup,” that Rebecca Onion recently proposed in an article on Slate.com.

Ms. Onion, 36, mused about the many changes becoming a mother might bring. She wrote, “I’m willing to allow that being a mom might strip me of some of my independence.” (emphasis mine).

Some?

As a mother of two, I can’t stop laughing.

Ms. Onion, should you ever be standing in the bathroom watching those little blue lines appear on that pregnancy test stick signaling Baby’s on Board, there’s only one thing to do. Look into the bathroom mirror, gaze at your reflection, and give yourself a little smooch.

This is you kissing your independence goodbye. [Read more…]

Rules of Engagement

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Many people remember the instant it happens. And nothing is ever the same. The sun is brighter. Mr. Bluebird lands on your shoulder because you’re just so darned happy. You’ve become so annoying that your closest friends are actually plotting Mr. Bluebird’s untimely demise.

And that’s a sure sign that you are head over heels in love.

Every teenager experiences that universal rite of passage known as falling in love – usually with a person who doesn’t even know they occupy space on planet earth. For me, it was probably best if I remained unnoticed by my high school Crush de Jour. With my unibrow, a space between my front teeth big enough to park a Prius and a wardrobe from the Sears flammable collection, not being noticed was probably best to keep at least one tiny shard of my fragile teenage ego intact.

But eventually those unacknowledged teenage crushes pave the way for Real Life LOVE. It’s On the Job Training for that life changing moment when Cupid runs over you driving that Mack Truck of full of Flaming Amore Arrows. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You can’t talk about anything but your One and Only. That special someone has swept you off your feet.

It’s hopeless when you’re smitten. Then it’s all over except for deciding between the FryDaddy Jr. or the George Foreman Grill for the registry. What the heck, you only have a few weddings in this lifetime, make them special. So don’t be greedy, you can ask for the Foreman on the next go round.

Those were the days. [Read more…]

Cell Phone Addict

cell phone woman

When I was a kid and the phone would ring during dinner, my mom would glare at the harvest gold wall mount and yell, “DON’T answer it!” She’d then lower her voice. “Pretend we’re not home,” she’d whisper as if the caller could hear her. According to Mom, there was an appropriate time and place to be connected to the outside world via that 10-foot tangled cord.

Dinner was not one of them.

In the 70s, when it was time to make a long distance call to Grandma, Mom would watch the clock until 7 p.m. when AT&T dropped the rates to fifty-cents a minute. “Talk fast!” Mom would admonish me in the background as the bill ticked higher with every tick of the clock. “Just write a letter!” she’d finally screech as she grabbed the phone from me and slammed it down. If the end-of-the-month budget was especially tight, Mom wasn’t opposed to ringing up Grandma at 11 p.m., when the rates went to a quarter a minute. Although at that time of night we could talk longer, as I recall the musings of a seven-year-old at that hour could not compete with Grandma’s obsession with Johnny Carson’s monologue.

[Read more…]

50 Shades of A Real Mother

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The 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy, written by E.L. James, has become a worldwide phenomenon. This series continues to reach unprecedented sales milestones that suggest every man and woman on the planet currently owns a copy.  The craze started for the self-published James thanks to friends telling friends and ebooks – where women could simply download James’ smutty tales in the privacy of their own homes.

Which, of course, is the digital equivalent of a brown paper bag.

And now, just in time for Valentine’s Day 2015, the movie version hits the big screen.

In 2012, everywhere you looked women were toting around, and actually READING, copies 50 Shades in public. Without so much as blushing.  In the Chicago airport, I witnessed women of all ages, from gray haired grannies to moms with babies in strollers, so totally mesmerized while reading the book they nearly missed their flights.  If the sales numbers are any indication, the odds are good that my own mother has a copy of the book on her nightstand.

The mere thought is so horrifying; I’m going to need therapy. [Read more…]

Shakin’ off the Earworm

ear worm

In the past decade, the field of neuroscience has produced amazing scientific breakthroughs. Researchers have learned how to control micro RNA, help individuals achieve impulse control, and change behavior with non-invasive brain stimulation. Recently, two MIT scientists successfully implanted a memory that NEVER HAPPENED into a mouse’s brain. But despite all these incredible advances, I’m curious why researchers ignore a condition that plagues 90% of the population at least once a week.

I am speaking, of course, of the earworm.

For my entire life, I have suffered from a recurring case of this auditory MRSA. From the moment The Beatles urged me to Twist and Shout, I have been afflicted with this disorder. So my question for neuroscientists, if you are able to put Visions of That Which Never Happened into a tiny rodent’s noggin, why, oh why, can you not find a way to remove Meghan Trainor from mine?

Because I’m All About That Bass. [Read more…]

Axe the Axe

 

 

 

Santa, dear Santa

santa2It’s that time of year

But you showing up

Is now my biggest fear

 

I’m not being critical

Of the stuff that you bring

In fact, I’ll tell you

It’s only one thing

 

Santa, you know

I don’t mean to be mocking

But last time you left

This stuff in the stocking

 

So Santa, my friend

I’ve just one thing to say

Please don’t leave Axe

At my house Christmas Day [Read more…]

Montana Dress Code – Say it Ain’t So

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As I was reading the recent publication of the 64th Montana House of Representatives Legislative Session Dress Code, I have to admit, for a moment I thought it was a satire piece straight from the pages of The Onion. Then I realized the truth. This was no joke.

I laughed so hard my bonnet nearly fell off.

It seems that certain male members of the Montana State Legislature have worked their whitey-tighties into a knot.

Apparently they have a mighty big problem with the apparel of some of the females who enter the state house. Their specific concerns involve the revealing nature of the knee and chestal areas of female attire.

This stance, of course, begs the question: Who elected Ward Cleaver?

Jeanette Rankin just rolled over in her grave.

When you parse the words of this edict, it seems like a reasonable assumption that the fairer sex has routinely been distracting the men-folk from their elected duties. From the stern tone, clearly these Girls Gone Wild have been entering the chambers wearing necklines that are too low, hemlines that are too high, and heaven forbid, the ever-too revealing open-toe pump. These admonishments suggest that women have been strutting into the legislative session on the arm of David Lee Roth just before shimmying down a pole to the thumping beat of Walk This Way.

No doubt, flaunting their toe cleavage.

So female members of the house may no longer purchase clothing at Ann Taylor, Banana Republic or Jones New York. Instead, they would be prudent to enter chambers wearing the latest in Duggar-wear.

Our nation has seen the Women’s Rights Movement and Title XI. We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, except on the Montana State House floor. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving Envy

With mere hours toturkey day go on the Turkey Day countdown, you’ve probably checked most items off your official Food Network Thanksgiving Planning To-Do List.

Yeah, me neither.

According to the Food Network guide, my menu should have been planned one month in advance. That’s ridiculous – mine has been planned for much, much longer – almost a year to be exact. I’m not all that organized, it’s just that my bill of fare revolves around that Holy Trinity of Thanksgiving – turkey, dressing and taters.

Duh.

The planning guide says to make my guest list early. When did Thanksgiving ever have anything to do with guests? They’re called relatives. Thanksgiving, as mandated by federal law, specifically requires you to spend your day off engaging in awkward family encounters. Which is, of course, why the gin and tonic was invented.

At the two-week mark, Food Network says I should choose my décor. I could create a neutral, earth-toned place setting, a lovely fall floral arrangement, or design a minimalist, less-is-more holiday table.

Because everything about the Thanksgiving holiday screams minimalism. [Read more…]

Performance of a Lifetime

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Some people know from an early age that they belong on the stage. They are the kids who never hesitated to jump up in front of family or friends and belt out a rousing version of I Just Can’t Wait to be King, don a pair of tap shoes, or recite a Shakespearean sonnet. They are born to be in the spotlight.

I am not one of the people.

So it was a little surprising for me to learn that I’ll be delivering a theatrical performance of my very own. I’ve been practicing diligently since mid-April, when I first learned of my new role. And if I may be so bold, I’m betting this performance will have Oscar written all over it.

Move over, Meryl.

While this show may have the shortest run in theatre history, it in no way will diminish the need for a script delivered with believability and careful attention to detail. In an ideal cinematic world, it should be the perfect blend of Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn.

It’s gotta be that good.

But not being blessed with a theater gene, I am more than a little concerned. Despite all the hours of rehearsal I’ve put in, I fear my performance will more closely resemble something between Lucy Ricardo and Melissa McCarthy.

This one-woman show opens and closes tomorrow afternoon in an off, off-Broadway venue. It’s a peculiar setting to be sure and it’s difficult to imagine that a performance such as mine has ever been delivered there before.

That’s because it’s happening in Washington, DC in Dulles Airport. Between Baggage Claim #1 and #2, to be exact. That’s where I’m dropping off Younger Boy tomorrow to begin his high school exchange program. For the Whole. School. Year.

Clearly I’m not taking Phase One of my Pre-Mature Empty Nest very well. [Read more…]

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