Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Notice to all glassy-eyed Atlantic City gamblers: Two pretenders will be in your midst this weekend -- and we will be mocking you.

My husband and I are celebrating our 11th anniversary with an overnight stay at a casino-hotel. If you know us, you know that this is pretty much out of character for us. But we procrastinated making plans (which is in character for us) which meant the hotels we frequent in Philly were booked.

So where I had imagined a weekend that included a visit to the the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Andrew Wyeth exhibition and the Mutter Museum; instead we'll be checking out the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and drinking rum cocktails in The Quarter.

Last year at this time, we were in Disney World with our children, my parents, and my siblings -- including five children ages 8 and under.

Which was great fun, but not exactly the Caribbean second-honeymoon I had planned for our 10th anniversary (plan having been made around the time of the first honeymoon; before it became cruelly apparent that, as much as their grandparents adore them, they don't adore our children enough to babysit more than two days at a shot, which pretty much rules out the island of Nevis -- the location of our most glorious one-and-only honeymoon.)

But there is romance to be had at Disney World -- Prix Fixe dinner at Victoria and Albert's...

Look -- the romance is literally oozing out of my dinner!

And we got to ride in the front of the monorail on our way back to our hotel. Which was waaaay cooler than it sounds. Especially after a bottle of wine.

Actual photo taken by actual husband sitting in actual front
of an actual Disney monorail as it approaches Epcot.

Anyway, that was then...and this year we'll be in another artificial and surreal environment - but probably not quite as wholesome as the Disney experience.

I'll let you know.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

In Lieu of a Song

I was mentally knocking around writing "The 12 Days of Spring Break" (sung to the tune of the "12 Days of Christmas") to describe my adventures of the past week-and-a-half with my off-from-school children.

But all I could adapt to the tune was "5 Muttered Expletives," "3 Talked-through Movies;" wrapping up with "And A Vomit in the Car in Ocean City."

Plus, technically there were only 11 days in their Spring Break, and we're all about accuracy here at the Suburban Masquerade. (That, and anything hermetically sealed.)

Then it occurred to me that the whole vomit thing pretty much symbolizes the difference between parenthood and childlessness.

A childless person might read about vomiting in a car down the shore and imagine it involved bar-hopping -- pitchers of margaritas chased with shots of tequila...continuing until you're pretty sure the mescal worm himself cuts you off with a "Basta!" Not that I've ever experienced anything like this; it's all hypothetical, ya know.

But a perk of parenthood is that once one is saddled (um, I mean blessed) with children there is very little opportunity to drink to the point of barfing. Desire, perhaps...but very little opportunity.

So when a parent hears "vomit in the car" they inevitably think "car sickness" or "stomach virus." Or in our case, a 9-year-old who gets migraines that usually culminate with her blowing chunks.

Between the kids and the cat's hairballs, I've become somewhat of a cleanup specialist. In addition, I've learned a great deal about the time it takes for various foodstuffs to be digested. (You'd be surprised at how long mac and cheese remains intact, although the cheese does curdle. Please enjoy the mental picture.)

I like to think of it all as an educational process, and continuing education promotes a healthy brain, right?

In summary, even though I've had to entertain two energetic children over the course of 11 days (with help from husband, can't discount that!) and our day trip to Ocean City was marred by a regurgitation, it could be worse. Much worse.

Just ask any grade school janitor.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Adventures in Dentistry

I've got no problem with long thin needles being inserted into my gum-line. No problem with the sound of a drill. But I do have a problem with dentists.

Like most psychological problems, it's rooted in my youth.

My childhood dentist was a jolly fellow, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Philadelphia kiddy-show host Captain Noah. (But without the mutton chop sideburns and captain suit - damn!)

He referred to my teeth as "choppers" and liked to use nitrous oxide to put me to sleep so he could pull my baby teeth. At the visit's conclusion there was a treasure chest of flicker rings to choose from.

Oh, the happy memories.

Never had a cavity throughout my childhood...or so I thought...until I came across a large hole developing between two of my teeth. (Evidently dental floss hadn't been invented yet.) But Captain Dentist didn't seem to notice anything wrong.

Eventually, I switched dentists and found I had SIX cavities. Although the new dentist unfortunately didn't resemble a kiddy-show host, he was a nice guy who actually took x-rays (but darn, no nitrous oxide) and all was well in oral land.

But then I had to go and move.

Resorted to a phone book for my next dentist. I was living on the Main Line in Philadelphia. Theoretically, any dentist in that upscale area should have been perfectly qualified, so I made my appointment.

Walking into the office was like time-travelling back into a black and white episode of the Twilight Zone. The waiting room, if you could call it that, consisted of a couple of ancient chairs and a wooden desk piled high with papers. The dentist (old guy) and the assistant (resembling the plump Anna Nicole Smith) greeted me at the door. They were nearly doing a jig in delight -- an actual patient!

Nowadays, I would've run out the door with any sort of excuse -- I forgot, I have to bake a cake! It's against my religion to have dental work done by a crazy old man!

But then I was less assertive.

The chair appeared to have been manufactured sometime in the 1800s. Visions of Little Shop of Horrors danced through my head, as the dentist gave me the most painful cleaning I have ever had.

Years passed before I summoned the courage to go back in the chair. Then I started dating a guy I'll call "Steve" (mostly because that was his name.) It was love. Um, not with Steve, but with his friend Brent, the dentist.

He was the dentist of my dreams. Such spectacular fillings!

Eventually, another man entered the picture -- my husband...and then there was that whole moving to Jersey thing. Although I continued to see Brent for a while, even the superlative fillings weren't worth driving one-and-a-half hours for.

And my husband had a perfectly competent dentist close to home. All was well, until our stupid company went and changed insurance, which Perfectly Competent Dentist did not accept.

Which all leads me to my current dentist, who is a lovely lady, but never quite seems to get it right the first time.

Yesterday I went in to have the bonding replaced on my two front teeth (this after many mentions by dental staff about how much nicer my teeth would look if I had it redone, since the color didn't match anymore.)

I did have some apprehension, because two of the three fillings Lovely Lady Dentist has done for me have prompted me to go back the next day for "adjustments" (as in, removing sharp edges and wayward pieces of filling material.)

But all the sycophantic staff said what great work she did on bonding, and I decided to go for it.

So I'm flat on my back for a half hour or so, and the work is finished...Lovely Dentist and assistant both say how wonderful it leaves the room to check on another patient while the assistant hands me the mirror.

Wait! Are my eyes focused properly? My right front tooth is now bigger than the left, and they are two completely different shapes. My smile appears crooked, as the line between the two front teeth goes off on a slant!

"Oh yes," Lovely Dentist says when she comes back in the room (after ten minutes or so of me-silently-freaking-out-while-looking-at-myself-in-the-mirror.) "You're right. You have a good eye -- you should be a dentist." (Hmm, I was kinda thinking the same thing right about now...)

I didn't bother to ask why she didn't see the size disparity like, um, when she was working on my teeth? I honestly think they were hoping I wouldn't notice. However, not being blind, I did.

She had to redo the whole darn thing, and I must say that now it does look very, very nice.


But it may be years before my psyche recovers.

In the meantime, I'm gonna floss...ACT rinse...whatever it takes to keep that drill away from my mouth. Although Lovely Dentist is "watching" a few teeth and keeps saying I really should have that old wisdom tooth filling replaced...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Size Doesn't Matter When You're in Jail (or does it?)

It was just the kind of story that makes reading the newspaper worthwhile – a tale full of pathos, pain and genitalia references.

And there it was, right on the front page of section B in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

Unhappy over surgery,
he now faces jail term.

A man mailed a bomb to a doctor
whom he paid to enlarge his penis.

(Although for some reason, the internet version has the headline: “Quest for larger equipment leads him toward jail.” )

As Inquirer writer John Shiffman put it:

This is the story of how a man's wayward quest to enlarge his penis landed him in federal court yesterday, pleading guilty to weapons of mass destruction

His offense: building a tiny bomb and mailing it to the cosmetic
surgeon who had promised - but failed - to deliver big results. He faces a likely prison sentence of four years or more on a charge more commonly used against terrorists than dissatisfied customers.

It all began in early 2004 at the home of Brett R. Steidler, a 25-year-old factory worker from a devout Christian family in Reamstown, Lancaster County. Eager to find a cosmetic surgeon who could enlarge his penis, Steidler logged onto the Internet, located one in Chicago, and traveled there for the roughly $8,000 procedure.

To put it mildly, there were complications. Steidler was "extremely unhappy with the results," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a court filing.

It obvious from the start that the unfortunate dude in question is crazy, if only that:

1) He willingly paid a plastic surgeon $8,000 for the privilege of having his weewee worked on.
2) He built a tiny bomb.
3) He came from a devout Christian family, which is generally a fertile breeding ground for crazy.

Overlooking the fact that somehow a 25-year-old had a spare eight-grand lying around (devout Christian church collection?) and that he’s obviously crazy, I find myself with more sympathy towards him than I would for your average mail-bomber.

If only he had talked to me beforehand, I could have saved him from this whole heapa trouble. I mean, by all rights, there should have been virgins running amok in his hometown. At least among the devout Christian contingent.

And unless he was dealing with a micro-penis, your basic inexperienced young lady is not going to be able to discern the inch or so of difference between small-average and average.

Case in point: my college boyfriend was stupid enough to (come to think of it, that sentence could be finished in any number of ways…) point out to me that he was not very well-endowed.

Honestly, I would have never known if he hadn’t been dumb enough to tell me. I really had no point of reference to which to compare him – except the monstrously-hung nude model in my Introduction to Drawing course -- and even being inexperienced I knew that guy was either a freak of nature or simply a fine example of what they say about black men. Either way, my coursework compelled me to render, in full-anatomical accuracy, several charcoal portraits of the young man, which I happily brought home to show my parents just how great freshman year of college can be. The very large sketch pad remains in my basement to this very day.

Um, where was I?

Oh yeah. The peni-bomber should have considered settling down with a sweet virgin and the whole size thing would have been a non-issue.

Not to dismiss the whole “Does size matter?” thing. To which I can answer a resounding… um…er… well…yes, kinda. But only kinda. I mean, we ladies are very willing to work within the normal range.

And truly, a Boogie-Nights-Dirk-Diggler-prosthesis size is just as undesirable to the average woman as an EEE cup is to the average man.

(I will resist the urge to digress into my theory that men should be compelled to wear something akin to a codpiece to make their manhood size as obvious to the casual viewer as a woman’s breast size is. All in the name of fairness and equality, mind you. Don’t worry, in my evil plan there would also be “Victor’s Secret” stores where guys could buy their padded-push-up pouches.)

In the long run, there’s probably a fetishist for every physical variation outside of the norm. Maybe even one for guys who’ve had their unit mutilated by an evil plastic surgeon.

That’s what the internet is for, isn’t it? No need for bomb-making, my little (oops -- bad choice of adjectives) Lancaster County friend!

By the way, no enlargement surgeons were harmed in the making of this story. Our mangled lad had second thoughts and alerted the authorities before the explosive letter was able to reach its intended target.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Amazing Frat Boys Fraternizing

Thanks to Spencer of michaelpennlist and arubberdoor fame for this link featuring pics of shirtless Amazing Race contestants frolicking.

Here is one of the tamer photos featured on the page:

(photo thanks to

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

I just enjoy being right, and my gaydar was beeping incessantly whenever the "frat boys" proclaimed their supposed lust for women. (I also have an uncanny ability to spot nose jobs...come to think of it, Jeremy also looks like he's had some work done.)

But I digress.

Lest we jump to any hasty conclusions -- take a look at the photos and tell me, do straight men do this stuff? I don't believe so, but feel free to set me straight if I'm wrong.

The other team featured in the photos is BJ (hmmm, interesting choice of nickname, dude) and Tyler -- two lovable hippies -- very witty, seemingly nice guys who tend to indulge in groovy retro wear -- they are the team I am rooting for to win. (Well, at least until I saw them fraternizing with the frat boys -- now I just question their taste.)

BJ & Tyler's Amazing Race bio reads, "Tyler fell in love with a Japanese girl and decided to impress her by walking the 2000-mile length of Japan. " But it also reads, "One of [BJ and Tyler's] most memorable moments was starting a dance party in the streets of downtown Guilin, China, which turned into a mass gathering of hundreds of Chinese men."

Hmmm, again.

I may just be leaning towards the old folks now --

-- if they promise to never, ever divulge anything about their sex lives.