From This...

“Mom!” the Little Monster bellowed as he limped pitifully from the bathroom. “The bottoms of my feet are all bruised, and they really, really hurt!”

I inspected the upraised foot. “That’s just dirt.”

“No, it isn’t! I really, really scrubbed! And they really, really, really hurt!”

...To This

My mom brain searched through its databank. Nobody warned me about this part of mothering, where one must remember minutia in order to head off crises. My brain clicked like one of those slot machines hitting the jackpot. “That’s the dye from your socks that you just tie-dyed.”


“Do your feet still hurt?”

“I guess not.”


Store-Bought Stains = Good

The most interesting thing about this photo is not the buffalo, but the shirt that the Little Monster is wearing. He LOVES this shirt. Yes, the one with the permanent, fake stains all over the back. The custom, store-bought, mud splatters.

Homemade Stains = Bad

Now, compare to this pair of shorts, which the Little Monster refuses to wear because, as he says, “They are stained.” Yes, he stained them. At home. Himself. On purpose. With his own paint. While painting.

No one ever said any of it was going to make sense.

Oh give me a home
Where the buffalo roam
And the boys and the terriers play.
Where seldom is heard
a discouraging word
about unseemly wardrobe stains about which whippersnappers unnecessarily complain.

Note that the terrier herself has got some serious splotches going on. Does she look like she minds? Well, okay, she looks like she minds, but I think that’s about the Vulcan half-lutz paw hold and not her spots.

Also note that the Little Monster is indeed wearing the shorts he supposedly refuses to wear because, as his parents said, “You can buy all of the pristine clothes you want when you have a job.”

To which he said, “Who’s Pristine?”

Lamas and Llamas

Further Ruminations on Car Camping (and Ruminants)

The other day I saw a man napping on his motorcycle. Or making a show of it, at any rate. Buddy, I thought, this is the suburbs, and in case you hadn’t noticed, that’s a nice strip of grass in front of you. Green grass (since there’s been no summer here in the Pacific Northwest), upon which napping has worked admirably for millennia.

You think you are posing languidly atop a slender, unstable assembly of pipes, but in reality you look uncomfortable, which, admit it, is what you are. Why not a fence top? Or an upside-down canoe? Impress us further with your sense of balance if not your common sense.

Time for a nap?

Maybe if you’re Lorenzo Lamas you could get away with stretching out upon your hog when it’s not strictly necessary, like when you’re parked on an electric force field and the only things keeping you from getting shocked are your rubber tires. But otherwise, dude, you need a personal stylist, a personal trainer, and more stature, or else a mattress behind closed doors—not for your own privacy but so that we won’t have to witness this posturing (which leads to the question: can one posture while horizontal?).

Lamas = Cad

That’s an old library you’re parked in front of, where one could read about Hunter S. Thompson, not pretend to be one of his characters. This is Ballard, not the arid Badlands, where a seriously ripped actor—who can pull off playing a character named Cumson—must snooze upon his Harley (after first artfully spraying his steamy, shirtless self from a jug of water, which he’ll regret later when he’s thirsty), rather than upon the sizzling sands of a Hollywood stage set.

However, I am forced to admit here that sleeping on a bike is possible. Our friend’s ex-girlfriend used to fall asleep behind him traveling at high speeds on a sports bike. He would belt her to him so that she didn’t accidentally fall off. Their breakup messed with my literary sensibilities, because if that’s not a metaphor for a couple that can stick together through thick and thin, I don’t know what is.

Llamas = Cud

Then there’s me. I can hardly sleep in my own bed. Forget sleeping on airplanes, pool chairs, or operating tables. I’m wide awake for all of it. As I said to the last anesthesiologist who tried to put me under, “You’ll seriously have to come close to killing me to knock me out.” Consider that “relaxation” is made up of words like “axe” and “shun.” These thoughts keep me awake and watchful.

I can barely sleep in the Heavenly Bed, the one that required the Man I Married to take the door frame apart in order to install. MIM is a big fidgeter and kicker while sleeping, so we got clever and snugged two Twin Longs next to each other to make one King. Now he can execute gymnastic feats while he slumbers without jiggling my mattress one whit. But then there’s the breathing. Yes, MIM has the gall to breathe at night. Talk about self-absorbed. How can he expect me to sleep while he breathes?

My life is a vicious cycle. I swill coffee to stay awake in the afternoons because I got no sleep the night before. Then I take Benadryll at night in order to sleep despite the late caffeine. Then I drink cup after cup of ink-black tea in the morning to zap me out of my medicated-zombie torpor.

So can you really expect me to sleep in a tent?

Truthfully, I’ve rather enjoyed tent camping over the years. There’s lots of ambient sound, like RV generators, to drown out the breathing noises. Since we’re on the ground, MIM can rock and roll all he wants and not shake me up. But modern sleeping bags with their space-age fabric swish louder than me walking down a silent hallway in polyester pants (SWISH SWISH SWISH SWISH), so his fidgets become audible rather than tactile, and MIM unfortunately has been battling a bad cough. A tent can feel pretty small when you’re sharing it with Camille.

So, on this last trip, I quit that damn tent and its yodeling zipper before we hit Montana, and I slept by my lonesome in the wagon every night. The car-camping trip was for me, quite literally, a car-camping trip. MIM had his own tent, the Little Monster had his own tent, and I had my own wagon. Ah, family togetherness.

Did I by any chance mention that my motorcycling days might be over? I sing the song of lovely tinted car windows keeping the rising sun (and son) at bay! I extol the virtues of stepping down to go to the john at midnight, rather than trying to convince my legs that they do indeed have quadriceps that can theoretically hoist me up and out of a tent several times a night. I applaud the relative silence of a civilized car door, with one small click at the close of my business rather than four full zipper-pulls per whiz (open, close, pee, open, close). Car doors sealed sound out; I could have slept through a bear mauling next door. I even mastered technology and eventually figured out how to turn off the dome light so that I didn’t illuminate my business like a spot for the diva’s solo.

Custom Bike (an aptly-named Ape Hanger)

And it’s a good thing I abandoned the tent, because the zipper on MIM’s tent gave out on the last night of the trip. If it had endured the added burden of my many nightly excursions, it would have lost its teeth back in Idaho with the rest of the meth-heads (we saw lots and lots of anti-meth billboards in Idaho’s small towns).

Custom Wife (with two Ape Hangers)

As for Mr. Lamas, he apparently likes his women as custom-built as his bikes.

Despite the fact that I would prefer a spitting llama’s company to his, he’s awfully easy on the eyes. I wouldn’t take umbrage if he decided to nap on his hog in Ballard.

He’s also a dead ringer for the Man I Married. So when my book is optioned by Hollywood, I just might consider his being cast as MIM.

We know he likes choppers, but can he improve his acting chops enough to portray a man who appreciates women for their brains, wit, opinions, and laughter?

Methinks not. That would be a bit much of a stretch (more of a stretch than her sweater).

Perfect for the Role of MIM?

As for who might portray me if my character is cast with a man who favors mammaries that might better fit a llama:

Kathy Bates in Misery