Chris: Morning, sweetie!
Possum: Mmrlph
Chris: What do you want for breakfast?

(Stupid question, really — we
keep thinking that this is the cue for her to say “Hmm, let’s see, then!” and make with the grub rustling. Ridiculous. We steel ourselves for, really, the only possible answer…)

Possum: What do we have?

(Usually our response is “Well, go look!” but I’m married to Chris, so sometimes…)

Chris: Lobster Thermidor with roasted truffles and skewered oysters on rosemary spriglets.

(Possum gives us her patented “There is something seriously wrong with my parents” look)

Possum: What the heck is a “spriglet”?

(I looked it up. Nothing is a “spriglet”. It’s not a word. At least, not until this morning. Take that, English!)

Chris is reading to Possum from a book called “Mixed-Up Pups” (about different dog breed mixes). As I walk past, I hear: “This adorable Puggle is half Pug and half eagle. This happy guy is a Goldendoodle, a cross between a Golden Retriever and a cheese doodle. And what could be cuter than this Maltipom, a cross between a pomegranate and…”

And I realize: I have been doing this all, all, all wrong.

Those of you who get migraines have no doubt heard the (same, stupid) advice (over and over) that the best thing to do for a migraine is to lie down in a dark, quiet room.

I want to make sure that those of you who do NOT have migraines understand that the dark, quiet room is not a treatment for migraine. It is, at best, an accommodation. The dark, quiet room does minimize sensory input such as noise, light, and small children. But aside from limiting harm, it does exactly zero. Once you’re in the dark, quiet room, you realize, “OK — I’m now lying down in a dark, quiet room… in excruciating, dehumanizing pain. Isn’t something else supposed to happen?”


And there you lie. Aaaaaaaaall freakIn’ day. If you’re lucky, you may be able to sleep a bit, but that could backfire if the headache doesn’t go away by bedtime, because then you will be lying awake in your dark, quiet room in excruciating, dehumanizing pain aaaaaaaaaall night now, too.

In short, telling a migraineur/euse to lie down in a dark, quiet room is about equivalent to telling someone with a broken leg to sit down.

It’s been a banner night here on the couch. We’re watching NASA’s Unexplained on the Science channel — did you know, by the way, that the surface of Mars can form dust devils up to three miles tall? I know.

Well, something about the space mysteries, combined with a long, long day after a late night of Unitarian-Universalist Standing Committee action made for a whole bunch of tuckered talking:

He: “Bipeds. That’s why it’s so hard…” (starts laughing)
Me: “Bipeds?”
He: (still laughing) “Yes. That’s why it’s so hard for them to bowl. But quadrupeds. I said bipeds.”
Me: “But you meant quadrupeds?”
He: “You know what I meant.”
Me: “I really, really don’t.”


He: “Who’s in the shopping cart? It doesn’t make a difference. I need to go to bed.”
Me: “No, don’t go to bed! You’re very entertaining!”


(I’m watching an ad for a show about a man base-jumping off Everest.)

Me: “But WHY?”
He: “Because he’s a self-important moron. What?”
Me: “Guy wants to base-jump off Everest. Want to change your assessment?”
He: “Noo… that’s about right.”

Possum is lying on her front across our bed, feet waving in the air, playing “Hungry Shark”. Chris is sitting next to her, offering sage advice:

Chris: Oh, by the way, those aren’t the giant crabs — the giant ones are off to the left, way down deep.

Possum: Oh, cool.

(Possum perpetrates further shark attacks)

Chris: You have pretty feet.

Possum (still absorbed in shark attacks but without missing a beat): Not when they’re in your face.

(Possum bats at Chris’s face with her pretty feet, which [duh] he promptly captures and tickles. Kerfuffle ensues.)

Chris nominated me for an “Actual Conversation”:

Me: (affectionately) Oh, Hawthorne. You wordy bastard.

Chris: Only at my house…

It’s that time of year again, time for my annual re-posting of Christmas Among the Uptight Yankees. I used to do this because my sister Stacey liked it (SURELY the fact that it is all about her smarty-pantsedness had NOTHING to do with that…) Now I re-post it in her memory. This is our second Christmas without her and, although I think we’re all a bit more stable, Stacey is still conspicuously absent. Miss you, dude. 

All right, that’s enough of that — here’s the story.

Christmas Among the Uptight Yankees

Any number of people have commented on the fact that my sister Stacey is the rockin’-est. And I generally respond with my favorite way to describe Stacey: My sister is like a pinata. She’s hard to get open… but there’s candy inside.

And why is she hard to get open? Well… we’re Yankees, start with that. We are from a looooong line of practical, no frills, cheap… I mean, frugal Yankees. This is our heritage: waste not, want not, thou shalt flaunt not.

But you should know that uptight Yankees have the same feelings that more effusive people do, maybe more — we just don’t fling them about willy nilly. And why? Because emotions are important, and their intensity is to be respected. Sure, I could chirp “I love you!” to everyone who crosses my path, but then how would you know you were special? It’s the difference between watery spring sap and maple sugar candy. (Which is, of course, what’s inside the pinata.)

Christmastime is here by golly (disapproval would be folly) so I thought I’d tell this story about one time when my sister was shakin’ down the sugar.

Once upon a time, my nephew (we’ll call him ‘PuterBoy. When he was three years old, he showed me how to set up his dad’s desktop and speakers so he could play his Lowly Worm CD-ROM. Smartypants.) Anyway, when ‘PuterBoy was about five, he became obsessed with the idea of colored lights on the Christmas tree. “Thomas has colors on his tree, the trees in the stores have colors, I want colors, I want colors, WAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Settling the little boy on her lap, my sister explained: “A long time ago, 1630 to be exact” (true fact!) “your ancestors sailed from England to this new land to oppress its native people, plant crops in obsessively tidy rows, wear high-necked woolens in the summertime, and generally drive themselves and everyone else crazy with their reserved natures and repressed emotions. These ancestors were called the White Anglo Saxon Protestants, and to this day we follow their customs of precise speech, reluctant hugging, and preposterously tasteful holiday displays.”

“Mommy,” said the little boy, “you talk too much.”

Stacey sighed. “Yes, I know — we do that too. But the upshot is that we have white lights on our Christmas tree because we just do, the end.”

Ah, but in her crafty little noggin, my sister started schemin’.

On Christmas morning, ‘PuterBoy awoke, ran to the tree and…

“Mommy! Mommy!”

It had all the same tasteful ornaments, but now it shone with wonderfully tacky… I mean, vivid… colored lights! Blinking, even!

“Mommy! Come see the tree!” Stacey came to look, not at the tree but at the little boy, who was positively spazzy with delight. “What happened, Mommy?”

My sister smiled. “Must be a Christmas miracle, baby.”

Little ‘PuterBoy scored any number of fantabulous presents that day, but he kept running back to the tree to watch his blinking colored lights. Because he’s a Yankee boy. And he knows where Mommy keeps the candy.