Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Death by Lingerie

Last weekend, as a belated Mother’s Day present, my husband took me shopping. We all know how much I hate to shop. However, I was down to my last pair of jeans, almost none of my summer clothes are flattering or fit properly, and even I had to admit that I had reached the point of no return in terms of men’s t-shirts.

The Rapture wasn't until nightfall, the children were visiting the grandparents, and the sun was shining – it was a perfect day to hit the outlets. Now, let me give a little background on shopping with the husband. He will not leave a store until all sizes and types of clothing have been rooted out of hiding and put on my body – the brighter the color, the better. No blacks, dark blues, or grays are tolerated unless absolutely necessary. His philosophy is thus, if he’s going to be stuck at the stores, then by God, he’s going to make it worthwhile. I, on the other hand, have a habit of walking into a store, heaving a deep sigh, then walking right back out. This is not acceptable to the husband. If it looks worthy, it will be tried, and if it fits, it will be bought. Due to him, I had a kick-ass maternity wardrobe. And thanks to him, I now have something of a summer wardrobe. But let’s be clear, he only enjoys it because it only happens every decade or so. If he had to do it regularly, I assure you, it would be a different story. But when the choice is listen to me bitch about how nothing fits every single day or take one entire day to buy clothes, he’ll go the shortest distance every time.

The day started well. One pink summer dress, one purple summer dress, one dark blue summer dress (allowable only because the alternative was white and that wouldn’t hold up on the playground), a handful of shirts, and a standard issue denim skirt provided an excellent start. I agreed on a hot-pink skirt, but turned down all efforts at lime green, lemon yellow, and Lysol blue. Who wears those colors besides the Queen? Nothing would draw more attention to my ass than bedecking it in violently violet-colored skorts. I avoided any attire that looked like I was about to play tennis, croquet, or golf. Clearly, I don’t do sports, so why pretend?

I hit the mother lode when I found a LBD for a Long Island wedding. It looked a bit Real Housewife on the rack, but on my rack, it looked great. Hugged all the right places and hit exactly the right price point. A few stores for him, a few more stores for me and we were almost done for the day.

But then, like a cloud on the horizon loomed the bra store. See, the little black dress needed a little black strapless bra, which I did not own. Normally, I shop for unmentionables with my SILs. The oldest usually takes before and after pictures of me in new bras, the middle one likes to find the loudest, most obnoxious colors and textures, and the youngest likes to wear them on her head. When they sort through the stacks for size, it’s like a circus act of underpants flying through the air. Left to their devices, I have wound up with some truly hideous undies. I once found myself in a pair of high-waisted granny panties with martinis printed all over them. Another time, I put on a cute little red pair only to realize they butt instructed the viewer to “unwrap me.” As the viewer at the time was my six-year old, this started quite a conversation. But without my darling SILs for guidance, I was left only with my husband and the ever helpful sales clerk who pointed me in the direction of a bra that would, she promised, make me look like a porn star.

Jesus, Mary, and the oft-forgotten Joseph.

Do I look like porn star material? I’m a fat housewife from Jersey. I’m pretty sure I am as far away from porn star material as you can get without actually going the fetish route. If it was physically possible for a Muggle to Apparate, my husband would have done so at that very moment. This sales woman was not for the timid. Once she found my size and directed me to the fitting room, she even went so far as to fetch my husband so that he could make appreciative noises at her handiwork. The poor man was then forced to find the balance between appropriate and leering about my bound boobage. I honestly thought he was going to die. However, all was not lost. After buying the necessary equipment needed to haul, hoist, hike, and hold my lovely ladies in place for the duration of an evening (at twice the cost of the dress covering them), we did manage to leave the store with an ever so small amount of our dignity intact.

This leaves us with two important questions:
1. Did I buy the porn star bra? Yes, oh yes I did – with the undies to match.
2. Do I have enough clothes to stop dressing like an overgrown teenage boy? Sort of.

But with the Rapture on hold until October, at least I’ll get good use out of them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


When I was little, my mom spent a lot of time talking about limbo. Not the limbo, which requires feats of dexterity I shudder to think about in connection to my flesh and blood, but the Catholic version of it. Specifically, she always wanted to know what happened to all the babies floating around in it. Why this was such an obsession of hers, I do not know since all the people in my family died after getting christened (and in most cases, thankfully, managed to receive most of their sacraments short of taking holy orders). When limbo was cancelled, or disbanded, or blown up, or whatever you do to an imaginary world you no longer believe exists, she still talked about it.

Now, years and years later, I can understand why. Limbo is just an awful point of existence. It is neither here nor there. It's in-between. It’s the gap between one step and the next. It’s the feeling of falling that wakes you out of a deep sleep in terror. And currently, it is my way of life. I live in the space between house and home. All I want to do is move forward and all I can do is tread water.

It’s nothing dramatic (writes the woman who just compared it to death without respite), I just want to sell my house and move to another town and I can’t. This is a plight million of people around the country are facing in much dire circumstances than my own. I don’t need to get out before the bank moves in. I just want to give my kids a better quality of life.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the housing market for casual moves. This housing market smells like desperation and fear. You sell low to buy low. No one really wins except new buyers, those lucky, lucky few who can actually manage the Olympian feat of getting a mortgage. I know this is not true around the country, but in a blue-collar neighborhood like mine, with a For Sale sign on every block, and one buyer for every five sellers, trying to sell a house is like trying to get that damn rock up the mountain. You get the call for a showing, you clean the house, you vacate the house, and then you get the call back saying they weren’t interested. Rock comes out of the gulley, up, up, up the hill, and then rolls all the way back down. The only difference between me and Sisyphus right now is that I can’t even control how often I can roll the rock. It’s all in someone else’s hands.

In this frame of mind, I find it hard to write. Ideas flitter in and out of my head, half-formed and half-deranged. Do I write a blog about how Samoa plans to time travel into the future in order to better trade with New Zealand? How trying to potty train my son might actually kill me? How much I learned about parenting by sending my child to kindergarten? How much I want my books back on their shelves instead of in storage? I think all of my ideas are in limbo with those babies. Can’t go to heaven, can’t go to hell. Just stuck. That’s me. Stuck.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What's in a Name?

Bear Blu is not the name of a child. It is the name of a dog or a beloved doll. But no boy-child can grow to manhood saddled with that name and not have some severe psychological problems.

Obviously, a celebrity gave birth to this monstrosity of a baby name. I’m sure the kid is cute and all, but just because you once, long ago and far away, starred in a movie called Clueless doesn’t mean you have to act that way the rest of your natural born life. Yes, people, Alicia Silverstone just announced that she named her son Bear Blu. No E. While I do not believe every child must be given a Supreme Court worthy name, I do believe that creativity and originality only go so far in real life.

Of course, most celebrities seem to live in their own little world where “real” life has very little impact.

For example, the habit of naming children after the place where they were conceived seems like such a pretentious way to announce to the world where you had sex. Only in Hollywood would you wind up with names like Brooklyn, the lesser borough of the Bronx, Paris, Ireland, and Moroccan. Though, in the latter case, the celeb in question is not referring to the country but to the room in her home decorated like the country so it’s both tacky and affected. In the real world, you would get a lot of boys named Ford or Dodge and girls named Volvo. Following this trend to the likeliest conclusion and the sheer number of people who sleep on Swedish furnishings, the world may soon be overrun with children named Ikea.

I realize that celebrities by their nature crave attention. It’s the reason they saddle their offspring with such awful names as Moxie Crimefighter, Audio Science, Pilot Inspektor (double points for being misspelled], and my favorite, Kal-El. Your child’s name shouldn’t be an inside joke that only the fans at Comic-Con can understand. Trust me, I know from whence I speak. Let’s all remember that while my daughter’s name is both lovely and Germanic, it is also the name of a character from my favorite sci-fi show that just happened to be a vengeance demon.

Twee is also really big in celebrity baby-naming. As the lovely Emma Thompson recently defined it, twee is whimsy without wit. For example, naming the children in your family Buddy Bear Maurice, Poppy Honey Rosie, Daisy Boo Pamela, and Petal Blossom Rainbow is twee. It’s also moronic, although I do appreciate that most of them have a decent middle name they can use if they choose not to become strippers or pot dealers. Bluebell and Apple also fall into this category. The only witty celebrity baby name I ever heard is Tu Morrow. Hee. That’s just awesome. The worst? Jermajesty. That’s just wrong.

A famous last name as a first name also seems to be a trend that manages to overthrow both gender bias and common sense. Being named Monroe or Harlow is a lot to live up to, especially if you want to live past 40. Hopper is a terrible name for either sex, as is Chaplin. All of these actors/actresses have first names. What is wrong with Dennis or Charlie, Marilyn or Jean? And as a throwback to Nicolas Cage (who chose his own stage name based on a comic), couldn’t you have just named the kid Luke instead of Kal-El? Clark is less common than the equivalent Jor-El but at least your kid won’t be beat up in kindergarten.

Then there are of course, the “cool” names. Rocket, Rebel, Racer, Rogue, and Rhiannon all belong to one family – a family, I imagine that has a hell of a time finding a babysitter. There are “historical” names like Homer, Ptolomy, and Herm├ęs. Sean “P. Diddy” Combs deserves a double smack in the head for naming his African-American daughter after the Confederate outlaw Jessie (sic) James. Musicians are not exempt from dumb baby names, but I figure they are on so many drugs that their kids will never be normal, so an abnormal name works just fine for them.

There are a world of names out there beyond John and Jane. Go to any bookstore and you will find baby name books for every country, race, creed, and religion. But just think about this – if, when you call out your child’s name – a dog comes running or an adult bursts out laughing, then perhaps you should start from scratch.