Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's all about Me

Dear Invisible Friends,

Please leave me some comments so I can pretend you're really there. My fragile and oversized ego can't handle it when people don't comment. I want to pretend that all my Invisible Friends read this? Do you love me? Truly? Do you like me? Do you really really like me? After all, this is all about me anyway. Who said anything about you?

A joking and yet attention crazed,

Blonde Duck

P.S. But no pity comments please. I want to pretend that I never asked for this so I can act really delighted when comments appear.

The Best Hamburger Ever

In my hometown of Austin, Texas, there is a restaurant called Huts. Huts is famous for their delicious greasy hamburgers and thick shakes. When my husband and I started dating, my family took him to Huts. Huts was already a cornerstone in the Pike family. I had my 18th birthday dinner there, my graduation dinner there, and I tried desperately to have my rehearsal dinner. Unfortunately, my dear mother-in-law has more sense than me the majority of the time. :)

Meanwhile, we had only been dating a month. I loved the infamous "Theta burger": a thick half pound burger smothered in thick mayo and spicy barbecue sauce with cheddar cheese shredded on top. I could inhale one of these burgers in like 2 minutes. The night my husband saw me, I did it in a minute and thirty seconds. He stared at me in disbelief and looked back at his remaining burger, still clutched in his hands. I leaned over and grinned at him.

"Are you going to finish that?" I grinned. After that, it was love at first bite.

So, Huts is the standard by which we judge all hamburgers. Tonight, we found a serious competitor: BJ Hamburgers. Ben took me out on a date night, which was nice because we hadn't had one in a while. When I first walked in, I knew I was in love. It was a small hole in the wall place with license plates covering the wall. The menu was plastered to the counter, and you could smell hamburgers in the air. I was home.

After ordering my usual bacon cheeseburger with mayo, Ben and I relaxed in the dining room. Country music was blaring and a roll of paper towels sat in the middle of the table. I could barely contain my excitement. When we got our food, I tore into my hamburger while Ben tore into his. At first bite, he was exclaiming how wonderful it was.

"Its soo good," he said through a mouthful, spewing crumbs at me. I hastily stuffed a French fry in my mouth and nodded empathetically.

"This is better than Huts," he grunted while chewing.

"It's pretty damn close," I said, savoring my burger by taking smaller bites. I didn't want the goodness to end. "But I don't have any bbq sauce, so it's not a clear comparison."

"You just don't want to admit it," Ben scoffed. "I'm right and you know it."

I just laughed at him. "Whatever you think," I said, crunching my bacon. Our little hamburger date left us full, happy and head over heels for a new barbecue restaurant.

Tonight, I shall dream of bacon cheeseburgers smothered in mayo and toasted buns.

Speaking of which, is any body else hungry? Is it weird I'm craving waffles and hamburgers? I can't help it if the 400 lb woman in my head won't stop. It's just so gooooood.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Maid of Honor Scorned Part 2

Since the Invisible Friends howled so miserably at me, I decided to add some humorous material to this otherwise angry and ranting post. To read the whole post, scroll down to the original Maid of Honor Scorned and then simply add this humorous material to it. Is this true? Could be? I guess you'll just have to wait until the book is published to find out. Enjoy Invisible Friends. And stop howling at me!

After the games, I was exhausted. I plopped down onto a kitchen chair and sat at the table, chomping my apple. The other bridesmaids began to cut cake. I ignored them. My shift was over, and I was hungry. Suddenly, the door bell rang. I checked my watch. 4 o'clock. The party would be over in an hour. Who was at the door?

Bridesmaid #1 opened up the door to find Isa's sister, Tina, standing there. Tina is thirteen, overweight, and cursed with a horrible case of acne. Her poor poofy cheeks are covered in scar tissue and pox marks. With a very round face, she often comes off as pouting. She is a demanding, self righteous twit who thinks everyone is in love with her. Often, things could not be farther from the truth. Tina was wearing heavy grey eye shadow and crimson lipstick. Her short black hair was pinned up on both sides of her head, bobby pins sticking out at alarming angles over her ears.

What was shocking is that she was wearing one of Isa's bras, some lacy underwear that was way too big, and some oversized pantyhose. The pantyhose barely clung to the rolls of her flesh, making it seem as though she was a partially unwrapped sausage. Three inches of sheer material dangled from her toes, which were stuffed into fuzzy bedroom heels. Her bra showed empty cups, as Tina hadn't developed yet. While everyone gaped at her, Tina reveled in the attention. Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how the hell she got out in public like that.

It didn't take Isa long to recover. "Tina, what are you doing here!" she shouted. She pointed an accusing finger and said, "Take off my underwear! How did you get out of the house dressed like that? Put on some clothes! It's indecent!"

"But it's a lingerie party," Tina said haughtily. She glared at Isa. "You didn't invite me. So I had to come by myself."

"How did you get here?" I asked curiously, wondering if she'd rode the bus and why she hadn't been arrested yet. Maybe we would have a delicious police scene on the front lawn and embarrass Bridesmaid #2.

"Aunt Fran took me," Tina sniffed. She shuffled forward, dragging her heels on the carpet. Bridesmaid #2 winced as black grease marks streaked across her white carpet. I grinned.

Tina threw a bag at Isa's head. "Here. Here's your present from Mom."

"Her mom bought her lingerie? Ewww," I said. The other girls stared at me. Nothing was registering in their eyes.

Tina made her way over to the kitchen table while Isa continued to open gifts. She spied the plate of chocolate brownies in each fist.

"Hi, Miranda," she greeted me, spewing chunks of chocolate at my white skirt. I backed a way quickly and wrapped a roll of paper towels around me to create a barrier. I was safe, for now.

She reached toward me with chocolate stained hands. I shoved a napkin on them as quickly as possible. I grabbed a roll of toilet paper for protection. If she waved her nasty little fat fingers at me again, I'd roll each up individually.

"Cake?" I suggested, indicating it with my hand. Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.

While she was working her way through the cake like a pig at it's trough, I continued writing down presents. Finally, Isa got to her mothers present. She opened it up and read a note.

"Isa, this is the nightgown I wore on my wedding night with your father. I want you to wear it. Love, Mom."

Bile rose in my throat. I looked for an escape route. This was the grossest thing I'd ever seen in my life. Strangely, some of the girls didn't feel the same way.

"Aww, that's sweet!" one girl said.

I stared at her like she'd grown another head. "Are you nuts?" I asked. "You must be nuts."

"I can't believe she didn't buy me a new gown!" Isa threw the gown on the ground and stomped her foot. "That is so unfair."

"Well if you won't wear Mommy's nightgown, I'll wear it," Tina boasted. She grabbed the nightgown off the ground and squeezed it over her body. By the time she got it to her knees, the excess material at the top fluttered around her breasts and the bottom seams looked like they were going to break. In her excitement, Tina had left several chocolate handprints all over the dress. At least now she wasn't in her underwear, enormous as it may have been.

"You ruined it!" Isa snapped. "I was going to wear it."

"Was not! You're a liar! It looks better on me!" Tina shouted.

The two sisters got into a wrestling match over the nightgown. The guests were all shouting things and Bridesmaid #2 was wailing over her upturned coffeetable. I was wondering why I hadn't brought a video camera and was taking pictures for photographic evidence.

"You slut!" Isa shouted, grabbing the top part of the gown and yanking. We all heard a ripping sound. When we looked at the dress, it was ripped six inches from the top. Isa looked horrified. Tina looked pleased.

"You're going to get in trouble now," she chirped. "And my nightgown looks a lot better ripped. I look sexier." She wiggled up and down, pursing out her lips and shaking her hips awkwardly. "Aren't I sexy? I'm so sexy I'll get a husband before ya'll. Don't you think I'm sexy?"

"No," the whole room answered.

Undettered, Tina went to the backroom to watch herself dance in the full length mirror.

For details on how the shower ends, check out the previous post: A maid of honor scorned

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Search for the Creekbluff Monster

This is a story I wrote for an anthology. Tell me what you think!

The Safari of Bull Creek: The Search for the Creekbluff Monster

It was our most dangerous expedition yet. With only a bottle of water, our helmet and our bicycles, we approached the ledge carefully. My Dad looked down and grinned at our concerned faces. “Come on, you can ride this down,” he said, jumping on his back and scaling down gracefully. My sister Danielle and I looked at each other unsurely.

At the ripe age of ten, riding down the curved cement bank to go hiking under the bridge didn’t seem that safe to me. But- it was the Safari of Bull Creek. We had fought many battles in order to get here, and we would not turn back. So gritting my teeth, I jumped on my back and went down slowly, using my feet as brakes.

My little sister made it to the ground before I did, smirking at me in triumph. “I did it Daddy!” she cried, a superior rider than I at six. I made a face and followed them as we rode up the rocky path.

As we rode up the path, I looked around me. We were passing oak trees and green creek water running over a limestone bed. It was a beautiful scene, and the further we rode, the prettier the creek got. We saw small foot high waterfalls, the water pouring over the mossy rocks quickly. It was a beautiful sight, even in the Texas Hill Country.

“Are there snakes, Daddy?” Danielle asked fearfully. She looked around wide eyed. “I don’t like snakes.”

“You might see a few,” he replied. “What do you do when you see a snake?”

“Run away!” we chorused, both pedaling harder.

We rode deeper into the trees, road getting bumpier and thinner as we went along. We stopped in an open clearing with some oak trees for shade.

“Drink your water,” Dad said, handing us our water bottles. We sat there, hot and sweaty.

“Ok,” Dad said, preparing to test us. “What direction is that moss growing?”

“North!” my sister cried proudly.

“That’s right,” Dad said. “So we ride this way. Are you girls ready?”

I stared at him in disbelief. “How far have we ridden?”

“About a mile or so.”

“What are we looking for?” I whined. “You never told us what this safari was about.”

Dad looked around mischievously, looking at my sister, than at me.

“Can you keep a secret?” he asked in a whisper.

We both nodded eagerly, leaning in.

“We’re hunting for the Creekbluff Monster,” he said dramatically. We gasped. “You see,” he continued, “There’s a big tunnel that leads into a hill down here, where the creek starts. Inside that tunnel lives the Creekbluff Monster. At night, he comes out and walks up and down our street.”

“Is he bad?” Danielle’s face puckered up like she was going to cry. “Is he gonna eat me?”

“Oh no,” my dad reassured her. “He doesn’t eat children or puppies or kitties. He only eats plants. He comes at night and just munches away on whatever plants he can find.”

Danielle gasped and clasped her hands. “So he’s the one eating Mama’s flowers!”

My dad nodded gravely. “So what we do you see,” he whispered, “We have a Safari. We follow Bull Creek down to the tube, and that’s where we find the Creekbluff Monster. And after we find the monster, we come home and have dinner. And our safari will be complete!”

“He won’t eat us?” Danielle asked again suspiciously. “I don’t want to be eaten. I don’t think I’d taste very good.”

“Well let’s keep riding,” I said bravely. “If we see the Monster, I don’t want to face him at dark. Mama said she was going to make spegetti tonight. I love spegetti. I’d prefer to have it.”

We got back onto our bicycles and rode for what it seemed forever. The trees seemed fewer and fewer, and the sun beat down upon our heads. Sweat rode down my back and pooled at the waistband of my shorts. My legs were screaming with pain, and Danielle was whining.

“Are we there yet,” she asked.

“No, keep going,” Dad would say. “We’re almost there.”

She’d pant in silence for awhile, then ask again. “Are we there yet?”

When we stopped again for water, I felt like I was dying. This safari wasn’t fun at all. This was the longest safari we had ever taken. Before now, we had just gone up and explored the neighborhood. One time, we walked behind our neighbors house into the creek bed there. And once, we crossed the road to the other side of the creek on the opposite side of the highway in front of our neighborhood. But we had never had a safari this long. We didn’t even have anything to bring back. On our other safaris, we brought back rocks, lizards and bugs. This time, we didn’t even have a baggie to put anything in. How were we supposed to have proof we had seen the Creekbluff Monster? No one would believe us.

“How much further is it,” I panted, gulping down warm water. I wiped my mouth and made a face. It tasted awful. What I wouldn’t do for a cold cup of water!

“Daddy, I’m tired,” Danielle whined. “I want to go home.”

“How far have we ridden?” I asked.

“2 miles,” Dad said. “We’re almost there. Just a few more minutes, and you’ll see the tunnel. See how wide the creek is here? We’re so close! Think you can make it?”

I stuck out my chin stubbornly. I was no wimp.

“I can make it,” I said confidently. “I’m tough.”

“So’m I,” Danielle said, scrambling up from her perch on a rock. She dusted off her shorts and perched back on her bike.

Legs screaming, we started up the rocky road. We were going slightly uphill, so each push felt like I was ripping my muscles apart. We passed the skeleton of a dead rattlesnake and a dead raccoon.

“The Monster ate them!” Danielle cried fearfully, riding quickly to catch up to Dad. “Dad, you said the Monster doesn’t eat animals!”

“Danielle, coyotes ate those animals,” Dad said patiently. Suddenly, he hopped off his bike and pointed. “There, do you see it? There’s the tunnel.”

I shaded my eyes with my hand and looked ahead. There it was, a large cement tunnel with water flowing out of it at a steady rate.

“It provides run off for Bull Creek,” Dad said, riding ahead. “Come on girls, follow me!”

“So the Monster can eat us all together?” I muttered. But I pushed ahead quickly.

We stopped at the mouth of the creek. It smelled like moldy water and had trash all around it. It didn’t look like the home of the Creekbluff Monster.

“Where’s the Monster?” I said.

“Just wait,” Dad said.

As we waited, Danielle picked up mossy rocks. “At least I can say that we have the Monsters rocks,” she said. “Everyone will have to believe me then.”

Suddenly, we heard a terrible noise from the tunnel. A loud echoing screech pierced our eardrums, along with a low moaning sound. We each plastered ourselves to Dad.

“I’m scared!” Danielle said.

“I don’t want to be eaten!” I said, hiding my face in his arm.

The noises got louder and louder and turned into a yowl. Suddenly, two small yellow eyes appeared.

“It’s the Monster!” Danielle screamed, hiding onto Dad for dear life.

The eyes got larger and larger, until a cat stepped into the sunlight. An orange and white cat looked at us with large yellow eyes and yowled loudly. He then sat down and began to clean himself.

“This is the Creekbluff Monster?” I said in disbelief.

“But he’s a kitty cat!” Danielle said, confused. “Besides, he’s too small to eat Mama’s plants. Those plants are high up. And kitties don’t eat plants.”

I looked at Dad, who was laughing. I finally began to understand and grinned a little.

“This was all a joke, wasn’t it Dad?”

“Yup,” he said. “I just wanted to take you girls on a hike and thought I’d tease you about the Creekbluff Monster. I didn’t know the cat would be in there though. I thought it would be a fun safari for you.”

Danielle had picked up the cat who was mewing unhappily.

“Dad, can we take the Monster home?” she said. “So my friends can all see it?”

“No,” Dad said, putting the cat back on the ground. “The Monster stays here. Let’s ride on back girls. It’s getting late.”

As we rode back, the sun became covered with clouds, and the ride became much cooler. We rode toward the shrinking river, passing the dead raccoon and rattlesnake skeleton. We passed the trees and mossy rocks, and finally reached the cement ledge. I struggle to walk up the steep edge with my bike, but I made it to the top where we rode down the street to our house. When I opened the front door, Mom was standing there with a smile.

“So how was your Safari?” she asked. “Did you enjoy the creek?”

I looked at my father and Danielle and grinned. “It was the best safari ever.”

Monday, August 28, 2006

Puppies, Sunshine and Butterflies

After the angry posting from my new book, my Invisible Friends were disturbed. "Excuse me," they said, knocking politely. "This isn't very funny. We'd like you to make it funnier. We request a more amusing and light post. And nothing about brides. Talk about butterflies, sunshine and puppies. "

So, ever eager to please, here you go:

Puppies, Sunshine and Butterflies
Sunday morning, I got up before Ben. I walked outside into the warm air and began to water our flowers. Several butterflies came and fluttered near the blossoms. They landed on leaves and open and closed their wings slowly, patiently. They were waiting. But what were they waiting for?
After breakfast and working out, our friend Bryan brought over his new puppy. As I stroked it's soft head and let it chew on my hand, I couldn't help but laugh at it's antics. It pranced about our living room, pouncing on toes and attacking mislaid fingers. Even Ben remained quiet when the puppy considerately peed on the towels set on the floor. The puppy snuffled and went from person to person. He lingered on me though. He climbed on my leg and climbed up my chest to chew on my hair. Digging at my inner thighs, he'd scamper over and delicately brush his tiny teeth over my feet. It tickled and I laughed and rolled around the floor as he followed me.
When he grew tired, he climbed into my lap and curled into a ball. I stroked his tiny body as I watched it rise and fall with his breaths. Occasionally, he'd look up at me with sleepy eyes. "Oh good," he seemed to say, looking relieved. "You're still here."
When he crawled between my breasts and laid his head on my heart, I watched as my breaths caused his body to rise. His mouth would twitch slightly, as though he was trying to nurse. And with that, he had stolen my heart.
"How come all dogs love you?" my husband asked, annoyed the puppy continued to play with me and ignore him and his owner. "What is it about you?"
"They know I love them," I replied with a smile.
"Or you're just a giant sucker and they can sense that," Ben laughed. Later, the puppy had curled up in his lap, and Ben looked down with understanding eyes. They raised to mine and echoed everything I was feeling. "I think it's time we got a puppy," he said, smiling.
"He's cute," I said.
"So are you," he said softly.
So although we reluctantly had to give the puppy back to his daddy, the ache hasn't stopped in my heart. I feel like once I connect with a dog, I always feel like I should be with them. It's like that with my dogs back at my parents, with my mother in law's infamous chihauhau. And now, with Bryan's new puppy.
All day I thought about getting a dog: the responsibility, the finances, how I would have to clean so much more, babyproofing the house. I had convinced myself that we couldn't possibly afford one, and I was desperately going to have to get a job. Depressed, I walked outside.
As soon as I hit the sidewalk, they came. Hundreds of butterflies came from out of the blue, as if they just appeared. They swirled and flew gently around me, flowing my path and tracing my fingertips. The wind was blowing slightly and clouds were gathering over head. The smell of rain was in the air. Still, they continued to come. I stood still and looked around. No one else stood on the street. No one else saw the flow of butterflies that enveloped me like an ocean. They covered me in a thick blanket of gently pulsating air, gently touching my cheeks.
"Have faith," they seemed to say. Within their gently fluttering wings, they held all answers.
"Things will happen the way they are meant to. We will bring the puppies and bring the jobs, just like we bring you happiness. But just like happiness, we come and go sporadically. We can not be planned, and will not be planned. We follow the sunshine and the wind. Some times, the sun doesn't shine and the wind blows to hard. Sometimes the sun shines brightly with a cool breeze. That is where we come in you see. Trying to catch happiness is like trying to catch a sunbeam. Just let it warm your soul."
"When will you come back?" I cried, running after them as they floated toward the hills.
"Soon," they said, twirling around my legs. "Soon."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Maid Of Honor Scorned

This is from the new excerpt of my second book, The Newlywed and Bridezilla. I drew inspiration from the bridal shower this weekend. Is it true? Did I make this up? That's for you to decide......

I never asked to plan a bridal shower. Had I realized agreeing to be Isa's maid of honor would have me in chains of obligations for a year, I would have fun like hell. Planning parties is one of my favorite things to do. When I volunteer. When I was told I had to have a shower for Isa because of 'tradition', I rebelled.

Now, I am not unkind. I would have happily offered to throw Isa a shower. And I did offer. Out of love and sense of duty, I offered to throw her a shower at my mothers in Austin. I said we would have cake and punch, and it would be a lovely, simple affair. She could invite ten friends and it would be loads of fun.

Isa haughtily informed me she had four showers planned already. The church was throwing her a shower, a family friend was throwing her a shower, an aunt was throwing her a shower, and her cousins were throwing her a lingerie shower. Of course, her friends were having a bachellorette party for her as well.

I nearly jumped for joy. I tried to back out gracefully, saying since she had so many showers I would bail out. No such luck. She fought with me for a month over the shower. First, the date. Second, the amount of people. My mom said 15, Isa wanted 50. Finally, I succeeded in backing out. I was told to assist the bridesmaid cousins with the lingerie shower.

And that's where all the trouble started. Weeks went by before I was ever contacted by the other bridesmaids. The only thing I knew was that the shower would be August 26th. What follows is the agonizing tale of the bridal shower from hel.

Wednesday, August 22

After months of silence, one bridesmaid called me today.

"Can you bring the cake?" she asked. "We're buying all the plates and decorations."

"Ok," I said, wondering why the out of town person was bringing the cake. I was already irritated they called me three days before the shower demanding crap, and now I had to buy a cake.

"Also, can you plan games?" she asked.

"What kind of games?" I said wearily. I despise games.

"Well, we don't know of any," she said, sounding bored. "Isa said you're creative."

"I bet she did," I muttered. "Well there's the Wedding Dress game where you dress them up in toilet paper- we could do a lingerie version. "

"Also, we wanted a trivia game," she commanded. "So call David up and make the game. You could giv them prizes or something."

"Fine," I muttered. I hung up the phone and spent the rest of the day in a rage. This was already looking bad. For me just "helping", these other bridesmaids were demanding an awful lot. Especially three days before the shower. I really hoped Isa was worth all this. I was starting to doubt it.

Friday August 25

In a burst of creativity, I took two boxes of cake mix and made four round cakes. I staked one on top of the other and I had two large circles. It was a bra cake. After icing it and putting blue polka dots, I covered it up with a trash bag. The cake was so big I couldn't put it in the fridge. I figured the trash bag would help it last until the morning.


The bra cake, a white cake speckled with blue dots, in a sweet blue and white polka dot bra, has congealed into an unslightly mess. The polka dots now decorated the top of the trash bag and slid down around the sides of the cake. The top of the cake looked raw and gooey from the icing soaking into it. It was a sugary, disgusting mess. I almost cried.

Ben was not happy about the state of the cake. He was petrified that the sugary mess that was collapsing into itself would attract every aunt into the county. So at 1 a.m., the cake went into the dumpster.

tomorrow morning, we're driving down to Austin for a 9:30 hair appointment for Isa and I to get our hair highlighted. Then I have to buy a cake, get Isa's bridesmaid's dress altered, and go to this bridal shower where Isa has invited 40 people. At every shower, fifty people have showed up. It's going to be a sleepless night!

Saturday, August 26

The shower from hell arrived. After a whirlwind of activity, I had a new cake, a altered dress and a fresh haircut and highlights. I felt rejuvenated as I drove to Bridesmaid #1's house. I got out and rang the doorbell, holding bags and a cake. Isa opened the door, squealing in delight. "Oh you brought me a cake!" she beamed. "Well, I'd made a cake in the shape of a bra but it didn't turn out," I said, setting things down on the table. The other bridesmaids greeted me as the set up the table with plates and silverware for the cake.

I walked around the living room a little bit and looked around. The drab walls were covered in pictures. As I examined the photographs closer, I noticed they were all focused on Bridesmaid #2, the owner of the house. Pictures with her husband were centered on her. Photos were framed where her husband was on the side of the picture or where his face was blurry. She remained perfect and centered in every single picture. The wedding pictures focused on her face: head thrown back in laughter, detailing on her dress. It was a bit eerie. A enormous bridal portrait hung over the fireplace, her eyes staring down at everyone. Another portrait hung in the entertainment center.

Suddenly, it dawned on me. Isa's family was as narcassitic and self centered as she was! This girl had been married for five years, and had her entire living room devoted to pictures of her wedding. I became very concerned for my safety. Had I entered a cult devoted to weddings?

The shower only became weirder. As guests trickled in, I was suddenly aware that every dork, nerd and geek I'd known in high school had turned up. The color guard captain I despised blew in with several ex color guard members. The cross eyed girl with a lisp from band brought some freshly made dip, which seemed dubious at best. The good girls from church, the chess nerds and the girls that never made the cheerleading team poured in. I developed a twitch in my eye.

Boy, did I work it. I was loud, charming and fun. I lead them in the wedding lingerie game and thrilled them with "Pin the bow on the bacelor." After a riveting couple trivia game where I threw candy at girls who got the answers right, I plopped down exhausted. The other bridesmaids, who had been sitting while I performed like a dancing monkey, began to pass out cake. I chewed my apple and sat.

Isa was eating it up. I watched her tiredly. She had squealed, blushed and soaked up every bit of attention all afternoon. I checked my watch. 4:30. I could bail in thirty minutes.

"So where are we going for my bachellorette party?" Isa said coyly, ignoring me. She was mad at me for not being able to go.

"Downtown!" one of twenty girls squealed. "Bar hopping!" another shouted. "Strippers!" a flannel shirt and boots girl demanded in a deep voice. I wondered which kind of strip club she meant.

As Isa sat grinning, she demanded, "We need to buy me a veil! I don't have a veil. That way when I go downtown, everyone will see I'm a bride! I need all the attention I can get!"

"We didn't buy you a veil," Bridesmaid #1 said.

"Well you should have," Isa said coyly. She turned and glared at me. "That was your job."

"Screw you," I muttered. "What?" Isa said sharply. "Nothing!" I said, streching my cheeks till they hurt. 25 more minutes of bridal hell.

After enduring the drudgery of paying attention and recording the gifts she got, I was done. While the guests chattered in the living room, I was gathering my stuff when Bridesmaid#2 came up to me.

"Before you leave, we need to split the costs of this party three ways," she said.

I stared at her.

"What?" was my eloquent reply.

"We need to split the cost of the party three ways," she said, staring at me with a cold glint in her eye. "You need to share to costs of decorations."

The rage boiled inside me. I stared at her gleaming white teeth and her long blonde hair. If I hit right, I could break her perfect nose.

"I do believe this was ya'lls shower," I said calmly, looking for a knife. "I was merely helping out. I provided the cake and games. "

"Well, you need to help out," she informed me. "You owe us money for decorations and the invitations."

I turned around and walked out. I called Ben and waited until he picked up.

"Hello?" he said.

"These tacky bridesmaids want me to pay for a third of this shit!" I yelled, my face bright red.
"They have told me that I owe them money. This is the tackiest thing I have ever seen in my life. I'm so angry I just want to slap her!"

"How much?" Ben asked angrily.
"I don't know. They went to go configure it."

Ben sighed wearily. "Find out how much it is and call me back," he said.

"NOOO!" I sputtered. " This is wrong! You don't plan a party behind my back and ask me to foot a third of the bill! That's like inviting someone to dinner and handing them the check. This is classless and tasteless! These two bitches in there need to learn some manners. They hosted this party. I stood up there for two hours and entertained my worst nemesis from high school. They sat on their butt and did nothing. They can kiss my ass, and that's what I'm going to tell them." I sat there, breathing heavily.

"Find out how much it is. If it's ten bucks, give it to them with a smile. Just call me back," he said. "Just because they don't have class doesn't mean you don't have to. "

I glared at the phone and hung it up. I wanted to kill them. I was so angry I couldn't think straight. I walked back in the house and stared at Isa surrounded by her admirers. She stuck her tongue out at me and continued to talk. I thought about ripping her tongue out. A hand touched my shoulder and I turned slowly.

Bridesmaid #2 was staring at me with a look of condensation. "You owe us $15," she said.

"I don't owe you a thing," I said. So much for class.

She sighed. "Listen," she said, "As a co-host, you have to split the cost of this shower."

"As I recall," I said, "Ya'll hosted this shower and gave me orders. It's a free country and I didn't agree to give you a dime. I'm not going to either." Isa and her friends quieted down and stared at us.

"Listen," she hissed, the smile dropping from her face. "Pay up." The narcassistic bridesmaid from hell looked close to breathing fire from her nose onto her self devoted shrine of photos. I grabbed one and held it an inch from her nose.

"Listen," I hissed, getting in her face. "You're a bitch. You are a tacky, white class scum of the Earth. How dare you invite someone into your home and demand they pay for the occasion? You don't host an event and charge the guests, particularly when I entertained the entire party. I was the party."

I slapped ten dollars on the counter. "For my husband's sake, I will try and remind some dignity," I said, staring at her outraged grey eyes. "However, I see no reason in trying to have any sort of decorum around utter white trash. You're no better than a common hooker. After her wedding next week, I will never see you again."

Isa ran over.

"What is going on?" she hissed. "We're discussing my bachellorette party and you're ruining it. Just pay your share."

"So you agree with this," I said coldly.

"Miranda, you have no sense of wedding taste," Isa said, standing next to her cousin with a knowing look. "You seriously should read an etiquette book. First, you don't buy me a veil and buy me a grocery store cake. Then, you miss all four of my showers but this one. Now, you won't even go to my bachellorette party. You're a horrible maid of honor."

I stood there in shock. I stared at her small pug nose, her smug smile and eyes. Suddenly, she seemed ridiculous. This wedding was ridiculous. And I honestly did not care anymore.

"So be it," I said angrily, turning around and walking out. I got into my car and drove away, Isa angrily running down the street and shouting at me.

Next week is the wedding. After this, I am not speaking to Isa for a long time. Her evil minions and she can go live in Wedding Land. I'd rather go to hell.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Let Me Tell You About Marv

I've had acne since I was in fourth grade. I've been on every prescription except accutane known to man. I've had some whoppers of pimples before. When I was in 8th grade, I had a pimple the size of a pen cap on my cheek. It was very close to my mouth, and I could feel it straining whenever I smiled. I had managed to make it the whole day with small smiles. It was thirty minutes until school would be let out. Some kid told a joke and I burst out laughing. I could feel the pressure growing until- Boom! It took me to realize from the shocked faces of the students around me that my pimple had exploded. I felt my cheek and my finger was smeared with blood and pus. I immediately grabbed a kleenex and cleaned up the best I could. Apparently, the teacher didn't think my self respect was worth a hallway pass.

From then on, I was forever known as the pimple popping girl. My skin was so oily that if I laid my face on a sheet of paper, a perfect impression of all my pores and skin cells would be left in a greasy imprint. Larger pimples would pop throughout the day, like small volcanoes erupting on my skin. I was teased, ridiculed and insulted. I don't recall most of those years. Everything is black.

When I got to college, my skin cleared up. I was still on medication, but after one last hellraising when I was a sophomore, my skin had retired. It had calmly retreated to the living rooms of my pores where it would only flourish during finals week or certain times in the month. Even then, it was more of an annoyance than disgrace. After we graduated, Ben encouraged me to wean myself off the medicine. He is completely anti drugs. I resisted until I found out long exposures to this strong of medication can hurt fertility and take several years to get out of your system. Since we plan on having kids eventually, I decided it might be a good thing to try.

For three months, my skin has been calm and behaved. Then Marv appeared. Marv is an enormous pimple who appears in an inconvenient place at the most inconvenient time. For instance, Marv would show up on the day of your wedding right between your eyes. Or, Marv would show up on the end of your nose, full of puss and redness, during a job interview. He loves to camp out on your chin for first dates, making that first kiss oh so awkward. After all, if you miss, will Marv explode on your dates face? Marv is not my friend.

The concept of Marv came from my husband. We had been dating a short time, and my skin was horribly broke out. There was a gigantic pimple on the end of my nose. It was a cystic pimple that was simply red and prominent. If you pushed on it, if felt like knives were stabbing you deep in your jawbone. Well, Ben pushed on my nose playfully. I died a little inside.

"OWW! Don't push that!" I snapped, wincing as the pain went deep through my nose.

"It's Marv!" Ben said gleefully.

I glared at him. "Who is Marv?"

"When I was in school, this girl had a huge zit on her face, right where yours was. Everyone was staring at her. So instead of getting embarrassed, she got up and introduced her pimple as Marv. And you have a Marv!" he said happily, pushing it again.

My eyes almost rolled back in my head. "STOP!" I bellowed. "That hurts really bad!" I stared at his smug face for any sign of pimples. He didn't have a single one. So I twisted his nipple instead.

Marv missed my graduation and wedding, much to my relief. He missed my job interview last week. But now he's back, and he's back with a vengeance. I have a job interview tomorrow, and Marv has been residing on my face since Monday, in the middle of my cheek. He is the size of a large pencil eraser. His girlfriend Melv, is a few inches below him and about half his size. Together, it looks like my face has been plastered with pepperoni.

I do not like Marv. I do not like Marv at all. I have been dousing him with prescription drugs, alcohol, soap and everything I could find. I took a stab at him (literally) and spent twenty minutes recovering.

So there he sits, beaming in his red circular glory. Marv, I hate to say it: I hope you die. And if you do die, please die before 9:30 tomorrow morning. Thanks, and don't come again. Don't call us, we'll call you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Getting my Tulle panties in a Twist

I loved getting married. I love my husband. I despise, abhor and detest all things bridal. Bridal showers are enough to make me want to stab my eyes out. What is the source of all my rage, my Invisible Friends ask? Why must I have homicidal thoughts when any mention of bridal activities is brought up?

Well, Invisible Friends, it is something highly discussed in my book, The Reluctant Bride. I simply feel that the Wedding Industry, or Wedding Nazis in Wedding Land, as I like to call them, have simply created traditions in order to rake in millions of dollars.

"Blonde Duck, you're remiss," my Invisible Friends scoff, superior in their store of bridal knowledge. "That's like saying Hallmark created Mother's and Father's Day so you shouldn't buy them a gift."

Or is it now?

Invisible Friends, do you recall that child or friend that made your spine curl into your toes? The friend that blew every birthday into a four day celebration, every phone call into a psych session and every lunch into a discussion about them?

This is what bridal showers remind me of. For friends that are sweet, kind and humble- I have no problem lavishing attention on you. But it's these other girls that simply drive me mad. Between multiple showers, multiple lunches and multiple parties, it's enough to make me puke. Weddings have become an excuse for brides to harass their friends and family for a year. "If you don't do this for my wedding, you don't love me."

My rage does not stop there, Invisible Friends. Since when did it become classy to incorporate male genitalia into every aspect of the bachelorette party? Honestly, a blow up male doll or saucy Peter Pecker game amuses us all. Male body parts and condoms in a veil was tacky, but somewhat funny. But when I find myself drinking out of a certain type of straw and eating a cake shaped like a certain male appendage, I'm more confused than amused. Honestly, what piece do you ask for? "I'll just have a ball?" It simply sounds wrong. It's just wrong.

If you hadn't guessed, I am co-hosting a bridal shower this weekend. Prepare for lots of amusing stories. As much as I care about the bride, I do not care for several 'traditions'. So, Invisible Friends, I have my tulle panties in a twist. And until the Wedding Nazis call off their regime, I believe I always will have them there. It's set to be an uncomfortable future.

Monday, August 21, 2006

My husband, the hero

If you hadn't noticed by now, my every waking thought is consumed with the desire for puppies. I crave soft little ears, wet noses and surprise kisses on the lips. I long for meaty breath to be blown in my face and a infinite overly warm lap from two tiny curled bodies. I nearly attack strangers to stare at their dogs, and become so depressed afterwards I curl up into the fetal position on the floor listening to sad music. It is utterly pathetic. I am ashamed to know myself.

Meanwhile, our friend Bryan is getting a puppy Tuesday. Jealousy aside, I am thrilled to be in the near vicinity of a canine. Our neighbors have dogs, but they're just not as cute when they leave human size turds in the backyard. It's hard to appreciate a dog like that.

Sunday after dinner, we all went to Petco so Bryan could get things for his dog. I steered poor Ben around the store whining.

"Look at these collars," I sighed dramatically, holding up a pink rhinestone studded collar. "Princess has a collar like this. Oh look!" I continued, dragging him down another aisle. "Look how sweet these little beds are. If we had puppies, I would get them these beds. "

"Not a chance in hell," Ben said.

My enthusiasm never wavering, we made several rounds around the store. We visited the ferrets, "which smell God-awful," Ben choked; the guinea pigs "Fat little things aren't' they?" he commented; and lizards, where I showed him a leopard gecko like my dear Duckie. Ben was more disgusted by a giant millipede.

"This is my worst nightmare!" he bellowed, running quickly from the cage.

After that depressing state, Ben tried to give me lots of hugs and kisses. I was still in the depths of utter despair.

"When do you want puppies?" he asked, trying to cheer me up.

"Whenever we can afford them," I sighed dramatically, trying my best to look as world weary as possible.

Today, my husband was a hero to puppies everywhere.

I went out to get the mail, and a woman from several houses down bounded out the door with her chihauhau mix. The dog came running towards me and she was walking quickly to catch up with it, several papers in her hand.

"Cute dog," I said, trying to be friendly. The woman handed me a flier and in broken English, explained her puppy had run away. If I found it she would appreciate it greatly. The chihauhau sniffing around my feet was the puppy's mother, and it missed her daughter greatly.

I expressed my sadness and walked home with the flier in hand. When I opened the door, Ben was fiddling around in my office. He saw the flier and immediately asked, "What's that?"

"This poor woman's missing her dog," I said, showing him the dog's picture. His eyes got wide, and I looked at him questionably.

"This looks like that dog next door!" he said. "The one that they just found. The people down the street found a dog and gave it to Juan, since his wife wanted one. That may be the dog."

"I have to go tell her!" I said, running out the door.

"Wait-" he said, grabbing my hand. "We need to check first. We don't want to just go accusing people."

We stood in the front yard as our neighbor pulled up in her driveway. I strode over to her, flier in hand, and asked her about the dog. She nodded.

"That's it," she said. "They were over Saturday night and we were playing with the puppy. I could tell it had recently been spayed."

That was all I needed. I was off like a shot, running down the street maniacally to find these woman. She was several yards from the mailboxes. When she saw me running toward her, she quickened her pace toward me.

"I think I found your dog!" I said, and she broke out in a run towards me, holding the other chihauhau in her arms. I explained the situation, and she practically ran down the street with me as she clutched her other dog.

"I hope, I hope so much, Please God," she prayed, stammering in half English and half Spanish. I had no idea what she was saying.

Our neighbor lead her to the other house, and she knocked on the door. The door opened, and the puppy ran out to greet it's mother. The woman hit her knees on the porch and started laughing and crying as she scooped the dog up in her arms. She was jabbering to it in Spanish and it was trying to kiss her and it's mother at the same time.

I looked at Ben and we smiled at each other.

"You saved the puppy, baby!" I said as we walked inside. From my window, I watched the woman carry both dogs back to her house, grinning as tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Good things happen to good people," Ben said, smiling and giving me a hug.

My husband. Savior of puppies. It just made me love him more.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

You Dirty Rat

"THERE'S A RAT BOUNCING IN THE ROAD!" I bellowed on the phone.

"What?" my mom sounded bewildered.

"There's a dead rat bouncing in the road!" I screeched.

"A what?"

"A RAT!"


"R-A-T. RAT! Ugly grey thing with buckteeth!"

"Ew," my mother said, obviously not as disturbed as I was. "Why's there a rat in the road?"

"It fell off some truck or something and came bouncing across the highway towards me. It's dead and shriveled and nasty!" I said, shuddering in disgust.

"If it's dead, how is it bouncing?"

"It's a vampire rat," I said sarcastically. "It's come back from the dead. I don't know, it's just bouncing!"

"On the highway?"

"On the highway!" I exclaimed.

"That's one gross rat," she said.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Who ya gonna call?

It seemed like an ordinary day at the gym. The View was on the TV's, music was pumping through and women were running on the treadmills and sweating through a step class. I was innocently squirreling away on the elliptical machine when it came on. "Ghostbusters." I heard those opening beats and immediately began to pump harder the the music. My hips were starting to swivel and move to the music.

Just then, the door to the day care opened. The children began to march out, lead by the gym employees. They were shaking their arms and hopping around, screaming "Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!" Some wore towels on their heads and waved their arms as they "haunted" the room. They snaked around the weights and machines onto the carpeted aerobic floor. They bounced up and down as they shook their small hips to the intoxicating beats.

"When you're all alone, pick up the phone.." the singer crooned. "Who ya gonna call?" "Ghostbusters!" the kids screamed, throwing their hands in the air. As the beats began to signal the end of the song, the children marched quietly to their room. The ghosts returned from startling old women on weight machines to wiping boogers on the child in front of them. The door shut silently behind them as the song ended and a celine dion song to techno came on.

That would have been interesting enough as it was. But oh no, the Blonde Duck's adventures at the gym were not over yet. I developed a horrible case of gas. I'm talking noisy duck farts that smelled like a dead buzzard. It smelled like I had combined beans and sulfer and burnt it on a stove in an open sun. It didn't come quietly either. It exploded with quick little blurps that I blamed on my shoes as they pounded the elliptical pads. I just prayed no one would notice the smell.

The woman next to me, after my third bloop, began to sniff. She wrinkled her nose and just kept running. The woman next to her began to itch her nose as well. By my ninth mistake, they had moved to machines on the other side of the room. I had a ten foot bubble around me.

As I puttered about the gym doing my squats, with small little farts blurting out in between every ten moves, I began to listen to the class going on next to me. The gym has an open aerobic floor with free weights and weight machines all around. It is a all women's gym, so no one is very self conscious. The aerobics instructor was evidence of this. She taught low impact aerobics for older ladies that included a lot of salsa moves and fun step combinations. She's a Hispanic woman in her late forties or early fifties. She looks wonderful for a woman that age- her body is tighter and more toned than mine. Still, there's a limit. We'll call her Hot Stuff.

Hot Stuff strolled in late for class, as usual. Her short black shorts cupped her butt cheeks as she bounced in cheerfully. She started class and began bouncing around with the music. A remixed seventies song came on, and she began to sing with the words like she usually did. I was doing side lunges when she began singing, " I want a lover, give me a lover, oh baby make it hot, make me want you a lot." My head snapped up and I nearly dropped the weight on my foot. There was a fifty year old woman in hoochie shorts singing that she wanted a lover to a lot of older ladies wearing shirts that professed their undying love to their cats. This was a lot more interesting then side lunges. However, I soldiered on.

"Gimme gimme gimme all your loving tonight," she warbled off key. "I want a lover, I want a lover, oohhhhhhh. I want that hot stuff" she stopped abruptly and gasped.

"Ladies, we want some hot stuff don't we?" she said as she bounced around the room. "We want a hot man right ladies? Well if we keep toning and working ourselves, we'll get that hot man. You know what's even better than a hot man? Pizza! Pizza and a coke! Let's get ourselves a pizza!"

"You shouldn't drink coke in this weather!" an equally obnoxious woman screamed. "It's too hot. I got a bladder infection and kidney problems from drinking too much coke!"

"You can't get a bladder infection from too much coke," another woman disagreed.

"You too can! I did! It burned when I peed!"

"It was probably an STD!"

"Was not! You can't drink coke in this weather. It screws with your body. You're supposed to have 8 glasses of water a day. So you can't have coke!"

"Ok," Hot stuff said undettered. "We'll get some water and a pizza and a hot young guy to deliver it. Am I right girls? Am I right? Move backwards now- 5, 6, 7, 8!"

As I finished my toning, farting quietly, I couldn't help but laugh. I may drive people away with the dreadful smells leaking from my body, but at least I haven't succumbed to wearing short shorts and forty and singing that I want a lover. There's hope for me yet!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Texas Town of Lies Part 2

After lunch, we headed out to hit the shops. Ben was jovial and friendly, holding my hand as we walked down the street. At first, I just saw typical boutiques stuffed full of the usual rhinestone studded purses, broomstick skirts and embroidered shirts. Then- I saw it. The Christmas Store! When I was young, Mom used to take us to Texas Town all the time for shopping and poking around. The Christmas Store was one place we went to every year, because it was all about Christmas! I pulled Ben inside, beaming happily.

"Look!" I sighed in delight as we walked inside. Christmas trees and twinkle lights were everywhere, with red and gold ornaments covering every square inch of the store. Ben looked horrified.

"You can buy something if you like," Ben said. "So shop around and have fun."

I was examining the ornaments on a tree when I was struck by a brilliant idea.

"OOOOOHHHH!" I shrieked. "I know! We can get a Christmas ornament. When we would go on vacations, we always picked out a Christmas ornament as a memento."

"We have Christmas ornaments," Ben said, unimpressed. "We don't need to buy one just to buy something."

"But it's a tradition," I pleaded.

"Well, get one you like," Ben said. "Don't buy crap just to buy crap."

We set off to the back of the store where I ran into some cute displays. They were whimsical and very Grinchish- a ballerina frog on top of an open flower, a person turned Christmas tree, and mice wearing giant hearts.

"Aren't these cute?" I exclaimed. I picked up a piece to look at it closer. I began to put it back in it's spot, when all of the sudden, something fell off it.

"You broke it!" Ben gasped in horror.

"No I didn't!" I said, panicking to pick up the tiny bouquet. "Where did this thing go anyway?"

Ben peered at it. "The frog was holding it," he said. "You broke it." He scowled when he saw the price tag. "This is fifty dollars," he said, looking at me with an expressionless face.

He took it up to the counter and told the lady I had accidently broken the bouquet and we were willing to pay for it. The woman picked up the bouquet, which broke in half, and looked at it. She told us not to worry about it and put the piece in the back. I felt horrible and relieved.

"Well, keep looking," Ben said as I scurried off to hide in a room. I wanted to die.

"Let's just go," I muttered, looking around frantically for the nearest exit.

"No, we need to buy something now," he said. "They were really nice."

In the end, I bought a $5 flamingo ornament and a few patterned Kleenexes.

Relieved, we continued to shop where Ben purchased a few fun things for his office and we walked around. After awhile, the heat and lack of originality began to wear on us. When I was younger, the stores were more unique. Now, the boutiques were beginning to meld into each other, with the same silver jewelry and funky dishtowels and bathsoaps.

However, I was on a mission. We couldn't check into our hotel until 3, and it was a little after one. In my Internet research, I had discovered a infamous bakery. A bakery stuffed with cookies, sweet rolls and concoctions. A bakery with cinnamon rolls as big as your head. I had to find these cinnamon rolls. It was the Holy Grail of our journey.

After we had walked up and down the entire street, I had not been able to sniff out my bakery. We stopped in an ice cream shop to drink some water and relax in the cool air. I found a free map and pounced on it, searching the ads. There it was! The fabled bakery! And best of all, it was only a block away! I was exhilarated. Refreshed, I dragged Ben down the street to the bakery. We wound through a garden and the backs of buildings until we emerged onto a great patio. Stone pathways carpeted the grass as a blackened fountain burbled quietly in the background. The bakery was the bottom half of a two story house, and diners were eating on the patio. I had been there before. I sensed it.

Plunging into the store, I fought the yuppies who were getting smoothies and soy lattes. I pushed my way forward until I was face to face with the window, scanning the shelves. Eagerly searching, I found the cinnamon rolls. And felt disappointment hit me like a rock.

These cinnamon rolls were not big. They were only a bit bigger than my fist. And- horror of horrors- they were stuffed with nuts! Big, thick disgusting nuts. I was depressed. I was distressed. And I had a violent craving for sugar.

We slunk away, Ben patting my shoulder. They had lied to us about lunch, and they had lied to us about cinnamon rolls. I was about to find out that the biggest lie was about to slap us across the face.

After walking around, the heat was just too much. We decided to head to the hotel a bit early and check in. After swimming and relaxing, we would try a Mexican restaurant some locals had recommended. I was very excited, and grinned the whole four blocks there. It was a short trip.

We checked in, and drove around to the side. I felt an uneasy feeling in my stomach as I looked at the hotel. The rooms opened to the outside, and it had more of a motel feel to it. It did not look like the website at all.

"This doesn't look like the picture does it?" Ben squinted, staring at it.

"No," I admitted. "Should I get the bags out?"

"Let's go check things out first," he said, locking the car. We opened our door, and walked inside quietly. The room was a standard motel room: Cheap furniture, ratty carpet and a grimy bedspread. To clarify, I have nothing wrong with motels. From the website and cost of this place though, this was not what I had expected. Still, I remained hopeful until I looked at Ben's face.

"You don't like it," I said.

"It's crappy!" Ben exploded. "This is a crappy motel! This would be find if I was staying here for business for a night, but this isn't where you stay on your honeymoon! I wanted it to be romantic, sweet, fun......I'm going to have to deal with screaming kids next door."

I wanted to cry. " Well, do you want to check out? Think they'll give us our money back?"

"We can try," he said confidently.

So we drove back to the front and Ben told the woman that we were not pleased with our room and we wanted our money back. He was very blunt about the website, and she admitted the pictures focused on the pool, the best area of the hotel.

"What do you want to do now?" Ben said as we posed at the car.

"Let's go home," I said. "We can go swimming and have hamburgers with Karen and Dave."

We drove back quietly, both trying to cheer the other up. Ben was depressed because he thought I would be sad. I was distressed because after getting Ben out and researching everything, it had all been lies. After a comforting meal of overflowing waffles and late night swim, I crawled into bed with a lighter heart.

The moral of the story: Never trust a bakery that claims they have cinnamon rolls and never stay in a small Texas town for your honeymoon. Go find a big fancy hotel that has pictures of the rooms. Otherwise, you could wind up sleeping with roaches. And you know what they say- don't let sleeping roaches lie.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Texas Town of Lies Part 1

The date: August 12. The time: 9 a.m. After raising the Husband, who glared at me through one eye as he shoveled cereal into his mouth, we were getting ready to go. I loaded up the bags into the car and waited impatiently as he made his rounds about the house. Growling and grumbling, complaints such as "don't want to leave my house" and "sleepy, so tired" floated past my ears. By the time we made it into the car, it was after ten. Still, nothing could dampen my excitement.

We had delayed our honeymoon for several months. After failing to go on two weekends, I had finally booked a time. We had a hotel room, I had a plan. I had researched restaurants and shops and created an itinerary. I had scouted out the best pool in the land. All with the help of my trusty friend, the Internet.

What I didn't know, as we raced down the highway, was that this town was not what it seemed. This town that seemed so quaint, so charming- this cute Texas town- was nothing more than a lie. A facade. A cover up for a plot so heinous it is unforgivable.

We reached our destination at lunch time. Ben was growling because he was hungry. He is a homebody of homebodies, and leaving is not his favorite past time. When he is hungry, he is apt to rip someone's arm off for suggesting the wrong thing. So my first mission was to feed him. I began to list off restaurants, starting with the Peach Tree Inn. The Peach Tree Inn had advertised healthy soups, salads and sandwiches. As Ben loves soup, I thought it was like a little soup bar. When I mentioned it, he curled his lip up at me.

"Chick food?" he said disdainfully. "I don't do chick food. Isn't there anywhere I want to eat?"

irritated at his lack of appreciation for my itinerary, I listed off a few more manly places. After getting a recommendation from the lady at the gas station, Ben drove to the Peach Tree Inn. First, he circled it slowly.

"I'm staking out the joint," he said warily, looking through narrowed eyes. "This looks like yuppie granola chick food. Are you sure you want to eat here?"

"They said they had yummy soup," I said, sighing. "We can look at a menu."

"I'm hungry," Ben growled. "I don't want to drive around all day looking for a restaurant." He sighed and parked the car on the sidewalk. We went into the dainty looking building, which looks dmore like a cottage than a restaurant. Inside, two elderly women were standing behind a dainty stand. I immediately knew this wasn't good and I was about to suffer the Wrath of Ben. I grabbed a menu and scanned through it quickly. I saw overpriced sandwiches with ingredients I couldn't pronounce. Their "soups" were limited to a soup of the day at $4 for a small bowl. Their salads were stuffed with all sorts of weird weeds and things. It was not a good thing. But before I could stop him, Ben had told the hostess to get us a table. I grabbed his arm in alarm as she toddled off to check availability.

"Honey, you don't want to eat here," I muttered.

"WHAT?" Ben said loudly, trying to hear me.

"Ready?" the frail woman appeared at the doorway, menus in hand.

"Excuse us," Ben said, pulling me off to the side. "She got a phone call. It's an emergency."

I pulled him outside, where he was huffing with exasperation. "What?

"They lied," I said earnestly. "It's all a lie. The sandwiches are weird, there's hardly any soup and the salads are full of weeds. You can't eat here. We have to go somewhere else. I can't eat here."

Ben sighed dramatically and threw up his hands.

"Fine", he said. "You go tell them to cancel our table."

I informed the hostess, who barely nodded at me as she began to seat a party of 5. We loaded back into the car and drove back down to the main street, which is where all the shops and restaurants were. We found a parking spot and walked to a restaurant/brewery. When we walked in, it looked homey. Huge copper kegs lined the wall, and dozens of tourists and families filled the tables. Ben looked delighted.

We were seated and sat down to study the menu. It was filled with hamburgers, sandwiches and all sorts of things. Ben was in heaven. He ordered a beer and a hamburger and set about devouring it like it would jump off his plate.

"Now this is a good restaurant," he said happily, grinning at me through a mouthful of french fries and bread. "You just have to feed me or else I get cranky. That's your job. " He continued to inhale his food like a Hoover vacumn.

I inhaled my chicken club, which was good. At the time, I thought we would be eating out for the next two days, so I didn't want to eat too heavy of a meal. Little did I know that things were about to take a turn for the worse.........

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ribbons and Lace

After our attempted honeymoon (that's right, you have to wait until tomorrow to hear the latest story!) today was a relaxing day at the Casa de Chaos. Ben was puttering around re-wiring, which apparently was very relaxing for him. A trip to Home Depot had left him cheery and good tempered. He was affectionate and snuggly, giving me lots and hugs and kisses as he bounded about cheerily with wires draped around his neck.

He was so affectionate he put up lace curtains in my office for me. These poor curtains have been stuffed in a laundry basket for two months, staring at me. They were thrown from room to room, stuffed in chairs and hidden away in the laundry room. The guilt was just too much to face.

And today, Ben put them up for me! He drilled the holes and helped me string the curtains on the rack.

"We need to nail the wall so you can draw them," he said, eyeballing the wall.

"No, you just tie them with ribbon and they're fine," I said.

And there stood my masculine husband, sweaty and greasy from working, tying up curtains. He was fussy as he said, "No, you're not doing it right. You have to push them up like this." He gently moved the lace over. It was all I could do not to laugh. The man who hated curtains was telling me how to hang them correctly.

Finally, our finished product stood: two lacey curtains tied with glittery ribbon. I couldn't help but laugh at Ben's proud grin. It was utterly cute. So ladies, make sure your husband has all the domestic talents: cooking, fixing things, and hanging curtains.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Tale of Two Roomies

There was once a girl who was very neat and organized. Her desk was clean and clear. Not a paper was out of order, not a paper clip mislayed. She spent her days studying, staying up late with a desk lamp. She would take naps during the day for hours. It was her only escape from her rigid hell. Her days were structured by the minute, everything was always planned. Her only treat at night was her nightly phone call to her boyfriend. She'd wait until her roommate was out of the room, and listen to his voice. Sometimes, she'd have to wipe away tears quickly when the roommate walked in. She always said it was allergies, but her roommate knew better.

The roommate was another story entirely. Her desk was perpetually messy, and she listened to music far too loud. She had many boxes of food, sticking out of the cabinet at weird angles. She fluttered in and out of the room all day. She couldn't stay in one place too long. Her side of the room was filled with pictures and posters stuck with sticky tape. Sometimes they fell down at night, which she never heard. She slept w/ headphones on. She was known to sleepwalk up and down the hall.

Her roommate was a creative soul. She felt it in her veins, as her pulse throbbed in her head. She doodled on her notes and decorated her bulletin board. She wrote stories and made scrapbooks. While the girl had a career, had a plan- her roommate didn't. Her roommate danced around the room, wiggling any time a decent beat came on. She flirted with boys and dated a bunch, and the girl frowned. Her roommate was wild, crazy, wouldn't settle down; she raved to her friends. The girl was never going to get a job, she couldn't be contained. She'd be a gypsy forever, depending on men to take care of her.

The roommate, on the other hand, wanted to get her to lighten it. "Come on," she would say, standing there in her bra and pajamas. "You got to learn to live a little! Dance, have fun! You don't have to study all the time. It's college! Relax!"

The girl would just ignore her and keep studying. It was the first few weeks of college, and the air was hot and humid. It was a clear Thursday night, and the roommate busted through the door. The girl looked up in annoyance.

"Come on, you're coming down,"the roommate announced. She wiggled her hips in the doorway.

"No," the girl said coldly. "Some of us want to graduate."

"I promise, you'll like it," the roommate said. "Please? If you don't want to, you can come back up."

The girl looked at her earnest faced and sighed. "Ok," she said, sliding her feet into her sandals.

The roommate bounced up and down enthusiastically and ran down the stairs. The girl followed reluctantly. She led her to the middle of campus, where the sprinklers were going off. There were several girls running through the sprinklers, laughing as grass coated their bare feet. Their clothes were wet and their legs were covered with sprinkles of dirt.

"Come on!" the roommate said, kicking off her shoes and running straight into the water. The girl grimaced and gingerly set her shoes on the cement. She crept towards the water, delicately stepping inside the spray.

The roommate caught her hand and pulled her into a run. "You have to twirl!" she said laughing. They joined the other girls in twirling in a giant ring. One girl fell and pulled several more down with her. They all sat laughing as the water whirled around their heads and made their makeup run down their face. They spent an hour running around like children. They laughed as they leaped through the air, the spray hitting their face. They shoved each other on top of the sprinkler and laughed as the water shooted up their shorts.

On the way back to the dorm, the roommate was skipping down the sidewalk.

"Now, that was a lot more fun then studying wasn't it?" the roommate grinned.

"It was," the girl smiled. She felt lighter and free. She had escaped the confines of her world, and taken a step into her roommates. She grinned. "Want to jump into the fountain next week?"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Butterfly, oh butterfly

In The Pond, there has been a butterfly explosion over the past few weeks. The butterfly population has reached over a million, because one of it's natural predators died out during the drought. For days, all you could see was butterflies everywhere. Thousands of them flew around your car, helping you reach the gym safely. They danced in the gardens and flew leisurely around houses. Then they slowly retired into the trees.

They're back.

Today I watched the butterflies flitter around in the garden as I ate my breakfast. While watering the yard, several swirled around my feet as if I was a ride at an amusement park. They played games, seeing how close they could get to the water. My parents came down to help prepare my sister for college. My mother stood in delight as ten butterflies danced around her head, one landing gently on her hair. She giggled in appreciation as they floated softly away.

As I sat in my office, writing and working, I was distracted by them. They floated by the window, sometimes twenty at a time. It was a steady stream of fluttering colors: orange, yellow, grey and brown. I tried to catpure them with a camera, but they were too smart for that. They just floated by unconcerned, spacing out so one frame wouldn't capture them.

"You see", they seemed to say, "We can not be captured on film, but only in memories. We're like a beam of sunshine, a breath of fresh air. We do not belong on film."

They made it up to me, those butterflies of mine.

I went out to get the mail, and thirty swarmed around me. They twirled and fluttered their way to the mail box, dashing around my legs and settling on my arms. They hovered cautiously over the metal box, peering down to see the latest junk mail. They flowed around me as we walked back, swinging through trees and small flowers along the way. I was the Butterfly Queen, and they were my subjects. They kissed the flowers as if to nourish them, and returned to settle lightly on my head. They clung to blond wisps of hair until we reached the front door. Satisfied, they returned to the current, flying by my window to make sure I made it inside safely. A few settled on the ledge to rest.

It was almost as if I was a prettier version of Pigpen. Instead of dirt and flies floating around me, I had butterflies. I was the Butterfly Queen for the day. Hopefully, the Pond won't get horribly cold and kill them all off. I'm enjoying my new role.

Monday, August 07, 2006

When The Blonde Duck Goes Grey

At the post office today, an old lady stood at the counter. She was returning a package from a clothing company, and stood patiently as they looked for the address. She had not put the return label on it, and the clerk explained to her several times what the problem was. He had sympathy in his voice and an over concerned look on his face. She looked small in her purple outfit, her hose pulled up to different heights on her vericose vein laced legs. Her skin was soft and wrinkled, and her blonde curls looked thin under the fluorescent lights. She politely accepted her package back, shaking her head as she put her pocket book back in her purse. She shuffled out quietly to return home and search for the missing label, only to make another trip back again.

I watched her as I bit my lip. "Is this what it means to get old?" I thought as I paid to have my package shipped. "Do you lose all dignity? You lose your body. Your skin isn't tight, your body sags and droops. You become more frail as your skin becomes paperly translucent. Your children are gone, your husband is ill, and all you're left with is a few dogs. Is this really the way of things? You spend your entire life working and caring for people, only to be thrown into the corner like a broken toy. You're stared at and pitied, and treated with kid gloves because you're old."

Well, I decided, I won't have that at all. You won't catch me succumbing to this tragedy. I shall be great, and I shall remain my dignity. So here, in all it's glory, is the Blonde Duck's plan for becoming old.

  1. I shall wear big pink dresses that swish as I walk. I will wear bright colors, and I'll die before I wear a caftan. I will instead wear long sundresses that cover up my legs. By that time, I'll probaly have tons of vericose veins. I will also wear flip flops everywhere, no matter what the occasion. If flip flops won't do, I shall wear pink tennis shoes with sequins.

2. I will eat breakfast food everyday. I will have pancakes, waffles, french toast, egg and cheese sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, danishes and bagels smothered in cream cheese. By that point, who cares if I get fat?

3. I will have as many puppies as I please. I will have provided for them in my will, so they will be taken care of after I'm gone.

4. I will take to being driven around and sitting in the back of my car as I do the queen wave and wear a crown. I will speak in the royal we and be very insulted if people do not know who I am.

5. I'll paint every room of my house a different color and give it a different theme.

6. I'll read a book everyday. Sometimes two if I feel like it.

7. I will install a fish pond in the backyard and swim in it wearing a snorkeling mask. If anyone asks, I'll say I'm looking for the frog prince. I'll then ask them if they're single.

8. When neighborhood children come over, I'll bake cookies for them. And hide half.

9. I shall eat peanut butter every day. Three times a day.

10. I'll visit schools just to cross the crosswalk slowly and irritate drivers.

11. I walked 5 miles to school everyday and carried an armadillo.

12. I'll get a pot belly pig and name it Wilbur. It'll live in the guest room where a spider named Charlotte will reside, as long as she's not a black widow.

13. I'll have a birthday party everyweek for someone. Even if it's an Imaginary Friend.

14) Christmas will be in July as well as December.

15) I will drive a pink pick up truck with the Blonde Duck airbrushed on the side. Of course, I shall wear my pink cowboy hat and boots to go with it. I must coordinate, you know.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

If I had a reality show

As I was enjoying my nightly cereal, I was staring in desperation at the TV. All I saw was dozens of reality shows as I flipped through the channels. Shows about decorating homes, shows about selling homes. Shows about finding love, shows about hiring someone to break you up. Shows about raising kids, shows about swapping wives. All I could think to myself was, "Is this what television has come to? Are we forced to watch such drivel I can feel my IQ lowering each night?" Yet, I can't look away. I am entranced by the prancing Playboy bunnies. All I can think of is questions such as: Are they really his girlfriends? Surely an 80 man can not "really" have 3 girlfriends. I think they're more of a media ploy than anything.

So the real question is, what would it be like if I had a reality show?

If I had a reality show, it would be sorta like Newlyweds/ Carmen and Dave. I would just bar the cameras except between the hours of 8-8. Otherwise, I'd be headed for divorce court.

If I had a reality show, I would do a study on all the different types of farts. Burps would be the following season.

If I had a reality show, I'd talk about food all the time. I'd try to make the crew waffles and get addicted to peanut butter as I am.

If I had a reality show, I would get a puppy. He would be my spunky sidekick. He could pee on the carpet, poop on the floor, and I'd still cover him in kisses. His cute antics would draw viewers near and far. Then I'd get another one and have two.

If I had a reality show, I would brag about my writing like there's no tomorrow. I'd walk around the house doing dramatic monologues in a winter coat and shorts. I would drop publishing hints and raise cards with my contact information on them every thirty minutes.

If I had a reality show, I would act extra tough at the gym. I would act as though doing 32 lunges was no big deal, even if my legs were burning. Then I'd do an extra 32. Then I'd fall over and make one of the camera men carry me out.

If I had a reality show, I'd see how much free stuff I could get at the grocery store. I'd also make them bring back Brown Sugar Frosted Mini Wheats so I didn't have to go to Wal mart to get them.

If I had a reality show, I'd get a stylist. I'd want to look as cute at home as the ladies on television shows do. I wouldn't want to look dorky with my messy hair in a ponytail, greasy skin and glasses.

If I had a reality show, I'd make them film Ben sleeping. And drooling. But they couldn't film me. I have to maintain my cute facade.

If I had a reality show, I'd take them into every place I applied to for a job in. I'd stare pathetically at them and have the cameramen zoom in on the employers face. Then as I shed a slow, single tear.

If I had a reality show, snuggle time would be weird. I would invariably end up flashing a camera man with my skirts as I tried to lay next to Ben on the couch. Even though he doesn't move over.

And the final one......

If I had a reality show, I would see how many people I could get to tell me their life story. Let's get started!

The Blonde Duck Plays Golf and Feels Old

I dislike golf. I find it boring and pointless. This also applies to putt putt. However, there is a sense in fun in putt putt as you scamper around hitting balls in tunnels and elaborate displays.

After the victorious return of my husband and Bryan and Dave with the return of our brand new lawn mower, we were ready to go. The boys were fed, greasy and empowered by the purchase of power machinery. Even if it was the cheapest lawn mower at Sears. For the small engine, it had a mighty roar.

We piled into Bryan's truck and headed off to Karen's. I had found a putt putt place nearby that was only $4, which was a great deal. Karen had tried to plan this evening, and was very flustered. My husband has recently adopted the policy that weekends are to be relaxing and scheldules are to be ignored. That did not set well with Karen.

Eventually, we made it to the putt putt place. The group was a bit divided, as Karen had invited two of her friends from high school. Now, I generally like girls. I just don't talk to a lot of them. For some reason, I was always the sole girl in a group of guys. Once I hit high school, I had a few girl friends to cling to, like barnacles on a whale. There are times when I am really not in the mood to be overly social to people I don't know. That tends to happen in a overcrowded putt putt place. When small children are whining behind me and their parents are too busy ignoring them to smack them, I get annoyed.

It first starts as a small itch, like an itch behind your ear. Soon, as you stand with your back turned to the chaos, you can feel the masses of people building behind you. The sighing and complaining drills into your skull: "Moooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmm, why is it taking so long? When's it going to be myyyyyyyyyyyyy turn? ME ME ME ME ME ME ME!" It was all I could do not to turn around and slap the child. His smirking chocolate smeared face and mohawk (really, four year olds should not have mohawks. They were gone in the 80's for a reason) just made my jaw clench.

So, talking to two giggling girls who were whispering and taking pictures with a camera was not going to be on the menu tonight. I was busy trying to stay happy and not climb a clocktower. They looked perfectly content on their own. I thought I'd leave them there and stick with my husband, dave and bryan. The Boys were highly entertaining. From Dave trying to patiently teach me not to beat my ball but to gently hit it to my husband doing the peanut butter jelly time dance, it was highly entertaining. Since I was growing bored with smacking the ball around, I was amusing myself through dancing. At every hole.

It wasn't so much hitting the ball was boring, as the massive need to escape from the crowd behind me. I despise crowds, and with everyone trying to get their ball in the hole people built up behind us. Since I went last, I could feel eyes boring into my butt as I bent over. My butt is not my best feature. Therefore, I wanted to prevent eyes from lingering there as much as possible. I did not feel like providing a presentation of my cellulite for the world to see.

By the time we got done, I was more than ready to move on. Or keep dancing. I would have been perfectly content to continue dancing on the rocks near the airplane toilet blue water that smelled like rubber french toast.

One of Karen's friends wanted margaritas. Ben wanted food. (Gasp! I just revealed my husband's name!) Having not eaten, he was cranky and near a temper tantrum. The two sides, Boys and Girls, went to their respective vehicles. Poor Karen was striving for an answer to see if we would go to get margaritas. Dave and Bryan wouldn't make a choice, and I was twirling to "California Dreams" in the parking lot. Before you ask, there was actually music playing.

We found ourselves at the restaurant, which had a wait. After some drama from Karen reporting the other girls thought I disliked them, I was pretty fed up. I was tired, Ben was cranky, and I was now stuck in a loud restaurant with people surrounding me. There was a man and his child sitting next to me and with every breath I could feel them moving closer. I seriously wanted to smack someone. By the time dinner was over, I was going to implode. After a comment about the "old married couple" going home as the rest of the group continued the evening, I was ready to fight.

The whole thing had left me annoyed and confused. Am I just antisocial? Do I spend so much time alone writing that I can't get along with people anymore? Or is it just that I'm over the high school factor? I enjoy it when we all get together and relax and talk at someone's house. I enjoy going to dinner. I enjoy movies. But for some reason, the whole evening just reminded me of being back in high school. I enjoyed myself and had a good time, but I just didn't want to deal with it. I didn't want to make people mad, I didn't want to have to worry about anything. I just wanted to dance around and be weird. Maybe getting married and getting away from Baylor has just given me a different perspective. I don't obsess over my body like I used to and I'm a lot more focused on my writing career. I've gotten a lot done that I would have never gotten done before.

So, I may never be the partying type. I'll stick on my floor with my scrapbooks. I just want to relax. And if that makes me antisocial, so be it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

One of those faces

I like to talk. I will talk to a rock. I'm sure you have figured that out, Invisible Friends, as I can happily prattle on about nothing for hours. I've also got one of those faces. It's that kind, open face that just makes you feel like you can talk about anything with. At least, this has been what people have told me. I'm not that arrogant.

I often have people tell me their life story. They tell me about their divorces, their affairs, their miscarriages, their bowel problems and other private things that only come out with the aid of alcohol or on a counselors couch. They keep them buried for days, only thinking about them late at night in a quiet house. When they see me, it's like a light in the tunnel. They unload their problems quickly, breathing in a sigh of relief as they say what's been lodged in their heart for months. Then they quickly scurry off with a grin as I'm left there wondering what the hell just happened.

When I was a sophomore in college, I was staying at my parents taking community college in the summer. I was swimming in the pool at the local gym, when this woman got in. We exchanged smiles and small talk. As she slid in the pool, she began a conversation. I talked to her kindly, itching to do my laps. By the time I'd left the pool, I'd discovered she was a lesbian whose mother had finally accepted late in life and her partner had passed away a few months back. She was depressed, had medical problems and felt like she couldn't go on. I left wanting to cry, she left smiling in a hot pink mumu.

Tonight, I once again had one of those faces. We went to Sears to look at lawn mowers, and were talking to a salesman. Ben left to take a phone call, and I was there with the salesman. He was perfectly nice, an older man in his forties or fifties. He continued to talk about the lawnmowers, awkwardly at first, but then with more confidence. As Ben circled around us on the phone, I learned that he had an extensive garden with a fishpond and a bench. He had a weeping willow and would trim it's leaves, so when he sat under it droplets hit his hand. He talked about trees and Miracle Gro and caring for his lawn. By time time we left I knew that he loved his garden and how often he watered it.

Kind people like that are so sweet, so unassuming. It's why I love You've Got Mail. Simple, sweet stories with the good things in life. He wasn't whining about money, he wasn't rude and pushy just to make commission. He honestly enjoyed what he did, and he honestly just wanted to talk. There was no hidden agenda, no hidden glances at my boobies. It makes you wonder why more people can't be like that.

Still, I don't know how many more fifty year old lesbians or women with loose bowels I can take. If you feel the urge to poop every three minutes and worry that waste will come streaming out of your buttocks like water from a hose, please don't tell me. This face really doesn't need to know that.