Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I'll Miss You, Tattooed Dad...

...and I never even knew your name.

I first noticed Tattooed Dad as I walked down the elementary school hallway on First Grade Family Night. In the sea of polo shirts, the back of his shirt shone like a beacon, as it boldly featured a mud-flap-style illustration of a lady on all fours.

Well...isn't that family appropriate?

Thus he became Mud-Flap-Girl Dad...albeit briefly. We and the rest of the suburban throng made our way to the auditorium's folding chairs.

It was then that I noticed his heavily tattooed arms.

It was then that he became (ta da!) Tattooed Dad.

The artistry was such that I had to take a photo...

...even as my oldest daughter whispered to me that I was being rude in doing so.

If the photo isn't clear enough, among the images on his arms is Lon Chaney as The Wolfman and Bela Lugosi as Dracula.

I'm not a big fan of tattoos -- mostly because I'm not a big fan of pain, and when I see one all I think is, "That must have really hurt." Still you have to admire the artistic skill required to ink a recognizable likeness of someone on another person's forearm.

While we're on the subject of pain, Tattoed Dad also has his daughter's name wrapping around his neck in inch-high letters (and her name is eight letters long, making for quite an impressive tattoo.) (Although my main impression is, "Ouch!")

Yet I remain an advocate for personal expression, even as it makes me wince. So I send an imaginary "Yo! Bravo!" to Mr. T.D. for expressing himself so eloquently without having to say a single word.

But my favorite thing about T.D. is that his very presence takes the heat off me.

When I first started this blog, I wrote of my fitting-into-the-Suburban-mold issues. (Hence the name of this blog.) It remains a challenge.

But when a guy like Tattoed Dad shows up at a parental school function, ANYTHING I wear will look conservative in comparison. As long as I don't traipse into school wearing a g-string and pasties, I'm fitting in just fine.

But here's where our happy story takes a tragic turn. Word on the Mom Grapevine is that Tattooed guy and his family are moving back to the Big City.

Just like Eva Gabor, Green Acres wasn't the place for him. (Although in his case, he just adores a rowhouse view...)

And I never even got to see who was on his left arm.

I'll miss youse guys. I really, really will.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Coca-Cola Company Finds a Way to Take Even More of My Money

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have a little bit of a coke problem. Diet Coke, that is.

That this is my worst vice tells you exactly how dangerous a life I lead.

Generally, the first thing I ingest each morning is a can of Coke Zero. Diet Coke with Lime when I feel like going wild. (Yes, this is healthy living at its best.)

My stash -- hey, Wegmans had a really good sale...!

So forgive me if I got a little excited when I saw the four-packs of new Coca-Cola Blak stacked in the center of the supermarket aisle the other day. (There's a little squiggly line over the "a" in Blak, but honestly I don't know how to reproduce that character with my keyboard.)

A "Carbonated Fusion Beverage"! I didn't have a clue as to what that meant, but it got my heart racing...

...and there was a coupon attached. Well, the combination of coke and coupon was too much for this gal to resist. (I told you that I live a dangerous life.)

A perusal of the label told me that the fusion was Coke fused with coffee fused with lots of high fructose corn syrup with a dash of aspartame (Nutrasweet). 45 empty calories, but I can deal with that.

The next morning, I can hardly wait to unscrew the plastic cap from the Blak. As the bottle slides into my hand, I am pleasantly surprised to find that this is an ACTUAL GLASS BOTTLE. A little measly 8-ounce bottle shrink-wrapped in plastic, but it's glass. Holy retro childhood memories Batman! (Yeah, I'm old enough to remember when Coke routinely came in glass bottles.)

I brace myself -- figuring this is a beverage meant to provide a serious caffeine jolt, but maybe not the best of tastes -- and take a sip.

And well...it is GOOD. Kind of like a carbonated Black Russian, but that Coke flavor adds a spicy zip.

I can't vouch for exactly how much caffeine is in the Blak's eight ounces, but I did feel motivated enough to drag the Hoover SteamVac in from the garage and clean a room-sized rug. And that should tell you something.

All this excitement is pricey -- I think the four-pack cost about four bucks. And for that price I can drink an entire 12-pack of Coke Zero and get an even better caffeine buzz (and probably end up scrubbing the grout in my shower with a toothbrush.)

But I can see Blak as an alluring alternative to the occasional malt beverage when we're on vacation down the shore, or at a family picnic -- and who knows, the caffeine might even motivate me to have a conversation with my relatives.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

See Dead People! Only $915,500!

An update on a long ago post entitled, "5 Bed, 2 ½ Bath, 200+ Disembodied Souls."

Evidently, my knowledge of real estate prices sucks, because in that post I guessed that the houses that were being built on the aptly named Cemetery Road would list in the 400's -- which turned out to be way, way low.

Seems it costs almost a mil to commune with dead South Jerseyans on a regular basis. The advertised price for the house at 206 Cemetery Road is $915,000.

I just had to see just what was so enticing about these McMansions that merited the hefty price tag, especially considering their rooms with a tombview.

So, when my spousal unit and I noticed the opening of an open house, we planned a spy mission -- to see if the view from inside was really as bad as imagined.

Nearly full-page ad/article extolling the model at 200 Cemetery Road fronts the New Homes section of a Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer.

Balloons on the mailbox provided a nice welcoming touch.

The front door was unlocked, with not even an agent on site. Oh, maybe a specter or two was watching over us; if so, they did not make their presence known.

So, we could take photos without having to be sneaky about it -- cool!

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the view from your living room -- worth every penny of the 900-grand price tag, isn't it?

Photo below was taken from an extremely large bedroom on the 2nd floor -- what appeared to be an in-law suite.

Wouldn't mom love to get up each morning and enjoy this cheery view? Make sure to put her rocker right next to the window...

Oh, you could see the graves from every window in the front of the house, but I figured you don't need photographic overkill to get the picture.

What? A cemetery isn't a "Community Amenity?"

Even disregarding the sightlines, I just cannot wrap my head around the prices these houses are going for (or maybe not going, since it appears none of the three McMansions facing the cemetery has sold -- and they've been on the market for at least six months.) The model actually has the worst (or best, if you don't dig the dead) view of the cemetery -- the sightline is better and the tombs are more abundant as you progress down the road towards the house at 206 Cemetery (the one listed for $915,000).

Sure, the model had the biggest breakfast room (OOPs, I mean "grand morning room" as described in article above) I've ever seen, adjoining a kitchen at least twice the size of the one currently going unused (I'm not a fan of that whole cooking thing) in my house. I was not impressed.

Because my housing priorities are different from the typical suburban wishlist -- my fantasy home would include his/hers studies (preferably soundproofed to block out the exact frequency of my children's whining) and an entire wing of just storage space.

So...as much as I love exploring model homes, they usually just end up making our current house look like the best buy ever.

And even though we don't have any dead folks across the street, we did find a rabbit carcass in our front yard this week (which all the kids at the bus stop really enjoyed, as evidenced by their joyful cries of "EW! EW!")

Ah, there's no place like home...

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Office Season Finale - Parallels & Tangents

(Editor's note: If you don't care a whit about my personal life, skip down to the boldface line below. And you might want to read the very end too -- it's pretty surreal.)

The wonderful thing about The Office is that, in the midst of the absurdity of the situations that make it a sitcom, the relationship between Pam & Jim rings so very true.

I should know -- my marriage is the result of an office romance that began very much like the Jim-Pam one.

Except I was Jim . No, I'm not referring to some surgical sexual reassignment -- I was the single, unattached one, and my husband was the one in a committed relationship.

We were co-workers for about FIVE YEARS before we started dating - although it was only about two years that we actually worked the same hours, with the Jim-Pam major-chemistry dynamic heavily in place for probably about nine months before the actual romance began.

Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time hanging out by his desk...cracking jokes, talking about music...perfectly innocent while the friendship grew...my crush on him was a total secret -- I didn't dare let on to anyone because he was unavailable. I knew he liked me, but he was an honorable and sweet guy who was in a long-term relationship and I didn't have any reason to think he had any interest in me beyond the workplace.

Until we had a moment very much like the one of The Office's season finale. I could go into details, but ya know, it is private and all...but very much poignant and intense and unbelievably romantic.

Which leads me to My Probably Way-Off-Base Interpretation of the End of the Episode:

When Pam is on the phone at the end of the show, I imagined that she was telling her mom that she had just broken off her engagement. Partially because she was saying something about it happening 15 minutes ago, which would have given her time to call her fiance and tell him it was off.

The other reason I just assumed that scenario is because that's what my then-co-worker-now-husband did when he confessed his feelings for me. He immediately ended his other relationship. So I'm probably projecting. But...something to consider, y'all.

On further thought, I can't imagine the writers would let things progress so easily (not that these things are ever actually easy and neat in real life.)

But there is plenty of humor to be mined in the working together while in a relationship situation too.

In our real-life case, we had a boss who was just as tactless as The Office boss, but also was probably Satan, or at least a reasonable facsimile.

The three worst things our boss did when he found out we were dating (all of which seem pretty sitcomish -- but all true):

1) He took my new boyfriend (you know, the guy I married later) and an out-of-town upper management guy out to dinner...boss got drunk and went on and on about me and told boyfriend that "she's going to gut you like a fish."All making for a nice impression on the new regional manager.

2) Moved me out of my office-with-a-door to a desk IN THE HALLWAY NEXT TO THE BATHROOM. And it was a small single-toilet bathroom with no fan. Enough said.

3) Brought in a STRIPPER (um, dancer in a "gentleman's club") to train with boyfriend-future- husband, even though she had absolutely no experience in our field. She showed up wearing Daisy Dukes. This is not a joke. Seriously, it happened. Unfortunately it was before sexual harassment lawsuits were in vogue.

Actually, I thought the last one was funny even as it was going down, because the last woman that would ever tempt my husband (or make me jealous) is one in that line of work. He prefers his women to be girl-next-door and his boobs real. (Well, not his boobs, the ones on the girls next door...) That's all I'm saying.

Plus, I had a fine line of vision to the attempted training while sitting at my lovely desk near the bathroom.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Make Mine Technical Fat

Driving down the Schuylkill Expressway...in front of me is a tanker truck...now, generally I don't spend much time reading the markings on trucks while I'm driving (too busy trying not to get crushed by the behemoths) but traffic was crawling, so I couldn't help but notice these words in large red letters on the back of the tank -- "TECHNICAL ANIMAL FAT, NOT INTENDED FOR HUMAN FOOD."


I can kinda imagine what "technical fat" is ...well, at least to the extent that it's some sort of animal by-product, evidently a liquid since it's in a tanker. (Probably with html skills, hence the "technical.")

What I don't understand is why it is necessary to emblazon the contents on the tank, and add the disclaimer that you shouldn't eat it...I mean, is there a problem with folks sashaying casually up to tanker trucks and popping in a tap for a little taste? An Atkins diet high-fat kinda thing?

And we all know how it goes in suburban households all over the country -- "Kids, how 'bout some pizza for dinner tonight?" "Mooooom, can't we just have some technical animal fat, pleeeease?!"

Okay. Maybe not. But I can dream, can't I?

In my experience, the back of a tanker usually reads something like "Highly Explosive"...(You know, just to make me ponder a fiery death as I imagine a pileup that smooshes my car into it. Note: Um, I do think that way. Which makes me an extremely annoying backseat driver.)

But I've never seen a tanker that told you not to eat its contents.

A little google search led me to this page of regulations. Evidently, the tanker was legally required to carry that message.

Why? There must be some sort of black market for inedible animal fat...that's all I can imagine. (Probably ending up as popcorn "butter flavor" at your favorite theatre.)

So if some guy in an dark alley tries to sell you a canteen of what he calls "primo extra-virgin" animal renderings, just say no -- or you could find charged with possession of technical fat.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Happy Birthday Leo!

Today we mark the 13th birthday of our furry buddy, Leo. He's been dealing with a jaw tumor for more than three months, and I never expected him to make it this far.

But he's doing great today...and ready to eat some tuna.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Be Creative, So I Don't Have To

I had full intentions of writing a series of blog entries on last weekend's excursion to Atlantic City -- mainly reviews of the various stuff we did and odd photos.

However, it now occurs to me that since fiction is often more interesting than reality (and I'm very, very lazy) wouldn't it be more fun to let the reader tell a story? You know, something more interesting than a married couple staying at a hotel, going to dinner, walking the boardwalk and going home.

So, I'm presenting to you, fair reader, a caption contest. (Um, does "contest" necessarily indicate there is a prize? If so, I'm screwed. Oh yes, you will win my undying gratitude and heaps o' praise for your creativity. That's it.)

The photos below are in approximate chronological order. But you can reorder them to fit whatever strange imaginary scenario you might come up with. You can reference the photos by number, or just go off on some bizarre tangent.

Write about one photo, or all of them.

Just don't be shy.

Please? If not, I'll actually have to think. And we all know how dangerous that can be.