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Advice for the Lovelorn and Mildly to Morbidly Curious

My friend Sam started an advice column. She asked my opinion, and that was her first mistake. Now it is OUR advice column. Agreeing to this was her second mistake. We’re calling it Advice for the Lovelorn and Mildly to Morbidly Curious. We think that covers most everybody, so we’re expecting to be an instant hit.

For our first column, Sam and I have asked ourselves a question. Hopefully, we won’t have to do this every time, because it might get weird. We might overshare. Also, we’re not sure a romantic advice column where we speak only to ourselves is quite the promotional material our publisher wants. Although honestly, it’s worked quite nicely up to now.

Our First Official Question comes from Sam, and she pretends to ask us this: what should I get my husband for Christmas?

Our friend Rosey (we cannot believe she’s still hanging out with us) suggested we divide husbands into categories. So Sam decided on four categories.

  1. Sporty Husband

Okay – so looking at Sam’s blog, it is apparent that Sam doesn’t understand the term sporty. She suggested a helmet or watch. And the watch should have a barometer.  I googled “sport requiring helmet and barometer” and Sam has recommended the perfect gift for deep sea diving. In case you’re in the minority group whose sporty husbands do not deep sea dive, might I suggest tickets to a sportsball event? Look at how Not Very Hard I had to try to be more sporty than Sam.

  1. Romantically Enthusiastic Husband

Sam eloquently refers to this category of husband as the Horny Husband, and she recommended lingerie. She also let it slip that she wore a French maid costume on her wedding night, which I think was a gross misrepresentation of character. I bet Sam doesn’t even own a feather duster, which is a crying shame because they’re super fun. I wonder how that cleaning sex kitten deal is working out for her husband ten years later? What I recommend for the Romantically Enthusiastic husband is a hotel room. And you can even go with him if you want.

The two remaining categories—honestly, I forget exactly what they are—resulted in Sam’s recommendation for hazmat suits and used shoes from Ebay. You’ll have to read Sam’s Blog to get the details, but I’m skipping those two categories and making up some of my own.

  1. Cooking Husband

Cooking husbands are easy to buy for, because GADGETS. From the perfect garlic press to the perfect spaghetti pot (which is what mine is getting this year), the options are endless and available in every price category. And if you don’t have a Cooking Husband, you can still buy him a kitchen gadget. It’ll be like that year he bought you a fishing rod. In fact, go ahead and buy him those new yoga pants you’ve had your eye on, too.

  1. Adventurous Husband

Another easy one.  What adventurous guy wouldn’t want to hold Sam’s husband’s air hose while he goes deep sea diving? Just imagine your guy sitting topside—on a boat—watching Sam’s husband’s lifeline disappear into the dark depths of the ocean. It will be even better than watching golf on TV.

Happy Holidays (I mean that in a nice way) and may your gift-giving me merry and bright! And hopefully a little freakishly bizarre.

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Haunted

I sat down to work on my novel. But this came out instead.

She sat with me, resting in the silent wake of chaos that had been our week. Her semester was over, summer break had begun, and she was…visiting.

I wanted to think she was home. But she’d arrived with only her dirty laundry and a dress to wear to her boyfriend’s college graduation. All of the boxes and laundry hampers full of stuff that usually arrived with her were sitting in a new apartment six hours away.

It was Mother’s Day.

We had planted new flowers and shrubs in the front yard and were enjoying the fruits of our labor from the freshly swept porch. A southern breeze enticed low, melodious notes from the new wind chime hanging above our heads. The front pasture was spread out before us, green from recent rains and mild temperatures, a refreshing sight during the current drought. She was lost in thought, staring at the pasture with a half-smile on her lips. I followed her gaze to see what she saw.

Ah. It was the ghosts again.

A small blond girl skipped through the pasture, both hands clutching wildflowers. She wore jeans and a striped shirt—I only like plain clothes, Mama—and a little boy followed behind. He paused to pick a flower and stick it behind his ear. Then he continued along the cow trail, walking carefully with both arms out to his sides. He didn’t want the flower to fall.

Watch out for rattlesnakes! Don’t step in fire ants! These were warnings I wanted to yell. The ghostly apparitions always bring a tightening in my chest, a need to protect them, hold onto them, keep them from fading away…

The little girl stopped to admonish the boy. He had frightened off a rabbit. Or maybe it was the cry of the baby, or the screeches of their younger brother. He offered her a flower, and they continued on their way.

There was so much to do. Would they head for the rope swings in the big tree? Maybe they would climb the tree and make heart-stopping jumps with the swings between their legs—flying, flying like the hawks that hunt in the fields. Or would they head to one of the ponds in search of frogs and tadpoles? Maybe they’d go to their secret hideout in the cattle pens—the one they thought I didn’t know about. They skipped away, trailing giggles behind them.

A lump formed in my throat. I looked at the young woman at my side, so strong and beautiful and self-assured. There were hardly any traces of the little blond girl. I had a question to ask. I thought I knew the answer, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Because sometimes when I see the ghosts of the children, I also see the ghost of woman, and she’s tired and frustrated and low on patience. She thinks she will always be exhausted, that they will always be needy and noisy and that nobody in the house will ever sleep through the night. Stupid woman! They aren’t even the same as they were a minute ago. Can’t she see time rushing past her? Literally washing over her and taking their precious little voices and tiny hands with it?

My voice strained as I finally asked, “Was it a good childhood here? I mean, was it mostly good?”

She looked at me and smiled. “I was just thinking that it was,” she said.

With one last glance at the pasture, she stood to go inside and gather her laundry. It was time to head home.