Just Letter Go, My Friend

by Jason Tudor

I am not a fan of paperwork. Of any kind. It's all evil. So, when it came time to mail six packages to family and friends at Christmas, I flinched.

We live overseas. That means every package we send needs a completed US customs form. Six packages? Six customs forms. Five minutes for each form. That's 30 minutes of my life I could have spent reading Charlie Sheen tweets or alphabetizing the spices in the kitchen.

I packed each of the six boxes November 28, 2010, a Monday. Most were gifts I'd created for family and friends. Like a man who'd just finished cleaning the house on the spur of the moment (the "no prompting" kind that earns us praise and a sex coupon), I was very proud to see these off. Once packed, I set them beside my desk upstairs and thought, "I'll send them off Friday."

Well, Friday came. And went.

Then another.

Then another.

Then another.

Flash forward to April 10. Yes. THE MOST RECENT April 10, where I sat beside my desk staring at the stack of unmailed packages. My wife walked up.

"Send these out," she said, "or I'm throwing all of it away."

As the clock ticked, she told me repeatedly that "this would not be one of those times I bail you out. You have to do it yourself." She used he same tone that also means a sex coupon has expired, so I knew she was serious.

"Why did you wait so long?"

I explained my seeding hatred for filling out the customs forms. Sure, I could have gone to the post office, picked up the forms, brought them home and completed them over the period of (ahem) five months. But I didn't. Also, I just figured she'd bail me out.

Instead, she laughed. Off to the post office I went.

By now, six packages had now grown to eight, including one bound for Australia. I found eight customs forms and began filling them out. To put you in the right mood ... you know that thing that you hate so much it makes your eyes twitch, stomach churn and fists clinch until the knuckles are white? Whatever that thing is to you, it's angel food cake to me. Filling out forms is kick in the balls that time forgot -- over and over and over again.

Eight times writing my address. Eight times writing someone else's address. Eight times checking the word "gift." Eight times believing an eternity spent as one of those suckers who dies in a Stephen King book would be better than this. After just over 30 minutes, I hauled the boxes up to the counter. The attendant stared at me.

"Wrong forms," she said. "You need the other customs forms."

Head explode. Rinse. Repeat.

Eventually, I finished and mailed the packages out. And those packages, embarrassingly, arrived five months after they were due. Really. Hold your applause.

And you'd think this would be the place to write, "And he moral of the story is ..." unfortunately, two packages' destinations were mixed up and are on their way back to me. When they come back, I'll need to send them off in the right direction.

Talk to you in August.

Jason Tudor's experiments with fusion-powered turtleneck sweaters and genetically engineered eggplants have given him the strength to continue writing and podcasting mostly about science fiction and the coming galactic battle between earthlings and mutated toilet brushes from Alpha Centauri. You can find out more at his website, www.jasontudor.com, which will be up and running again May 1.


And Justice For All . . .

Little ditty about Jack and Diane, two American kids growin' up in the heartland . . .
I worked for a county prosecutor’s office in law school and learned that the courtroom is a combination of boredom interspersed with moments of dignity and drama.
This moment was none of those things.
The backstory is basic. Two kids had been, um, having relations since they were old enough to figure out how things worked. Nothing, especially parental intervention, slowed them down for a minute. Then one fateful day, the boy, who I’ll call “Jack” turned eighteen. The girl, who I’ll call “Diane” was still seventeen. Diane’s mother immediately filed rape charges on Jack.
My boss did his best to talk mom out of it, but she badgered him day and night to prosecute. Finally, a warrant went out and Jack came to court. However, my boss wasn’t about to hang a rape charge on a kid. His resolution was rather brilliant (at least from a legal standpoint).
Jack had the misfortune to come up for sentencing on the busiest day of the week. The Art Deco courtroom hummed and buzzed as lawyers and clerks negotiated justice and tended to the county’s business. A full chain gang of shackled prisoners filled the jury box and every seat in the courtroom was occupied.
The judge swept in with much pomp and called his court to order. This wasn’t just any judge. This was a senior District Court judge with an imposing presence and a booming voice that rattled the chandeliers.
Jack’s case was called and he shuffled to the podium in a shiny ill-fitting suit bought or borrowed for the occasion. He looked more like eight than eighteen. This was the heinous sex criminal that had kept my boss on the phone for over a month.
Rather than felony rape, the prosecutor had negotiated a guilty plea of misdemeanor indecent exposure. No jail time, just a fine and a promise to keep his mitts off Diane.
Little did he know the plea was going to be the punishment that would make a prison stretch seem like a piece of cake.
The judge went through the formalities with his usual flair.
“Young man, you are charged with misdemeanor indecent exposure. How do you plead?”
Out came a tiny little squeak, “guilty . . .
A few titters from the audience.
Then, out of the blue, the judge boomed, “DID YOU SHOW YOUR PENIS TO THAT GIRL?”
The shrieking laughter was nearly drowned out by the clanking of chains a a dozen hardcore prisoners high-fived and back-slapped and generally dissolved into hysteria. It took several minutes and a threat of contempt to quiet things down. I think the plaster is still cracked.
The suit hanging on Jack’s thin shoulders went from being one size too big to about three. He was melting before my eyes.
And, in case you’re wondering, the judge made Jack answer the question. It was “yes . . .”
It took three deputies and another five minutes to restore calm and dignity to the proceedings.
I don’t know what happened to Jack and Diane. I do know that a videotape of that fateful day in the criminal justice system should be played in every sex ed class in America. The teen pregnancy rate would plummet. 
Jack and Diane,” by John Mellencamp, 1982.



by Jeanette Levellie         
© Ron Levellie

Our first spring in Paris, Illinois found us settled into country living fairly well. Or so I imagined. A lifetime in Los Angeles cannot prepare you for the crazy things that happen in a rural setting.

This particular morning I was up early. The pre-dawn sky was grey at best. I hadn’t had my caffeine yet, so was still groggy when I opened the back door to let the “fur children” in. But, what I saw crawling across the lawn woke me up fast, and I found myself charging down the hall to our bedroom, adrenaline taking over.

“Kev, get up, now! There is a huge insect out back; I’ve never seen one this big before, even bigger than those horrible potato bugs we had in California! It’s awful, it has claws, and it’s waving them in the air. Hurry, it’s going to get the kitties,” I cried, on the edge of hysterics.

Here is my husband, who does not do well being awakened from a deep sleep at any time, but this is 5:30 in the morning, for goodness’ sake. A frantic redhead is jumping about the bedroom, wringing her hands and saying something about a killer insect. He creaks up and slowly reaches for his glasses.

“Get your pants on, please! Go out and squish that horrible thing before it attacks my kitties!” I rush to the back door, like Kevin needs a tour guide. In my wide screen imagination, I can see my babies sprawled on the lawn, stiff from the poisonous bite of this science-fiction-like creature.

Finally, Kev stumbles down the hall and out the back door, peering onto the lawn to view this potential murderer of my cats. He waits an eternal minute to let his eyes adjust to the dim light, then starts chuckling.    
“Jeanette, do you know what this is?”

“No, but can’t you just kill it?” I whimper.

“Honey, this is a crawdad! It must have crawled up from the creek when it rained last night. It’s perfectly harmless. It will find its way back home eventually, and it’s more afraid of your cats than they are of it! Let’s go in and get some coffee!”  He is so kind, but he cannot help shaking his head at my city-bred naivety. I suppose I did panic a little, but never having seen a crawdad “in person” before, it sure looked like an enormous killer insect to me!

Kev still teases me about the morning he rescued out cats from the dreaded Crawzilla. After living here eleven years, people who know the story continue to rib me about it. And I laugh at myself along with them.

I wonder that we snicker about our mistakes in misjudging crawdads, but think it’s okay to judge people by their appearance, their occupation, or their name? I once heard a speaker say, “You know you are free of prejudice when you treat someone who can do you absolutely no good as well as you treat someone who has the ability to help you tremendously.”   

You are still not going to catch me dancing with any crawdads in the early morning hours, but “Crawzilla” taught me that you can’t judge a creature, or a person, by their cover.

A spunky, sometimes reluctant pastor’s wife of thirty-six years, Jeanette has published articles, greeting card verses, stories and calendar poems.  She authors a bi-weekly humor/inspirational column in her local newspaper, and enjoys speaking to church and civic groups, offering hope and humor in every message. She is the mother of two, grandmother of three, and waitress to several cats. Find her blog, On Wings of Mirth and Worth, at http://jeanettelevellie.blogspot.com


Tree Hugger

by Sara Spock
As I sat at the local park watching my angel playing on the jungle gym, I basked in the glory of the early spring sun and began brainstorming for Earth Day. I try to plan something special for my son and I to do that highlights the importance of giving back to the earth and community.  

Last year, we embarked on a nature hike through the Pennsylvania Wilds with recycled bags to collect any trash we could find. We visited the grocery store with the local food bank’s list of needed items and dropped the goods off at the food bank with a home-made treat for the volunteers. We wrapped up the day with a visit to a nature center to learn about local animals, their habitats, and how humans can impact them. As the day drew to a close, my son sighed in the back seat, “I like helping the earth.” I couldn’t have been a prouder mama. I blogged, I facebooked, I bragged to everyone I knew about how I was raising an earth-conscious and friendly 4-year-old.

Armed with how great our day was last year, I thought of ways to top it. Volunteering with the nature center? Picking up a wider swath of forest trash? Visiting the surrounding food banks with goodies and groceries? I reminded my little guy of how much fun we had last year and in full ear shot of the helicopter, tiger, and lawnmower moms that roamed the park, I asked him for suggestions about this year.

“What did you like best about Earth Day last year? What should we do this year?” I asked loudly with sincere anticipation.

“I don’t care, Mom!  I just chopped a worm into three pieces and they’re all moving. I think it’s still alive!”

Ah yes. My little tree hugger. At least the flush of fuchsia on my cheeks could be attributed to that early spring sun.

Sara Spock is a mom, wife, anthropology student, lab assistant, English tutor, and freelance writer.  When she’s not trying to save the world and feed her kid granola, Sara can be found at the Sex Lab.  No, that’s not what we’re calling it these days.


Wake Up Call

After raising three children of my own I should be used to the sound of gagging and the inevitable splash that follows. I’ve cleaned up countless messes at two a.m. But, this last incident was impressive even by my standards.

I woke to the sound of a cough, not unusual for the month of January in the Midwest. Then I heard feet coming down the stairs, and gagging, and then a knock on my bedroom door. I opened the door to my nine year old trying to talk, although he should’ve been running for the bathroom.

I urged him toward the toilet but he still managed to christen the wall and the floor. When he was finished, I asked him if there was more… elsewhere. He croaked out “the stairwell.” Yep, he had puked well and goodly on the way downstairs. He put the little girl in The Exorcist to shame.

The stench was so strong my husband turned a pasty shade of gray and had to open the outside door for enough cold, fresh air to keep from passing out. Granted, he has a weak stomach, but I don’t, and I was having a hard time with the smell. It was awful.

I got him in the shower and cleaned up the mess in the bathroom, thinking I would get him settled on the couch and be back in my warm bed in no time. I was wrong. It took half an hour to clean up the stairs, and we ended up pulling up the carpet runner from four of them. There was just no saving it.

Finally, the kiddo was tucked in and comfy on the couch. I was just drifting off when I heard retching again. I stuck my head around the doorframe and asked “Are you ok?”

Cam said “Yep, I got it all in the bucket this time!”

I said “Great job, buddy!”

Then I went back to bed.


The Honeymoon is Over

Once a couple has been together for a while, embarrassing moments happen less and less often. It’s not that we become more genteel or sophisticated, I’m afraid. More likely, it’s because after so many years, it’s hard to keep pretending we’re perfect.  Mr. Vagabond and I have reached a point in our relationship where embarrassing moments rarely happen at all.

During our honeymoon phase, a closed bedroom door meant he was occupying the back bathroom. I found many ways to occupy myself, no matter what I needed from the bedroom, in order not to blow his cover.  Once he returned to the living room, I waited at least 30 minutes before going in that direction just to help him keep his little secret. His secret that sometimes, just once in a while, he uses the bathroom. He was equally considerate, although he didn’t have to try quite that hard. I think it was at least a month before I could even pee if he was at home.  Now that over 13 years have passed, the bathroom door rarely gets closed at all. How else are we supposed to discuss what’s for dinner and whether or not we are out of toilet paper?

In the long ago, we were both reticent about displaying our personal hygiene products. To my knowledge, his neatly-groomed appearance was a natural gift; not the result of a task force the likes of which would make a beauty supply store stand up and take notice. To his knowledge, Mother Nature seemed to leave me alone instead of visiting once a month. These days, his nose hair trimmers share space under the bathroom cabinet alongside my Midol and Tampax.

In the dreamy-eyed good old days, a long car trip meant carefully avoiding any foods that might produce an uncomfortable tummy.  No store-stop hot dogs, and certainly no microwavable burritos. A travel size can of Lysol was always in the glove box. If for some reason a strange sound or odor did happen to drift through the car, neither of us acknowledged it.  Now, we agree to just leave the windows down, even if it means cranking up the heat in winter. He does love store-stop hot dogs.

Over the years, and if they are lucky, a couple tends to find fewer and fewer things embarrassing.  Mr. Vagabond has no problem waking me up 10 times a night to remind me that I am snoring.  I don’t miss a beat in handing him a tissue while telling him he needs to check his nose in a mirror.  If I trip over my own feet like I often do, he only rushes to see if I’m ok after he’s stopped laughing. I have no problem telling him that for the good of all mankind, socks are usually meant to be worn only once in-between washings.

Time erodes the facade of perfection that we try to cling to in the beginning, but it reveals something a lot better.  At least now I don’t have to worry about leaving the house with a dryer sheet sticking out of my back pocket, and he can be confident that I’ll always tell him if his shirt is on wrong-side out.


What’s New, Pantyhat?


There’s nothing more exciting than being fifteen and going to your first concert--unless you’re going to a Tom Jones concert with your mother and grandmother. While the law of nature dictates that parents exist solely to embarrass their teenagers, some visions go beyond the maximum allowable humiliation. When I saw my mother dancing around the living room, brandishing free tickets and singing “It’s Not Unusual,” I immediately began calculations on how much cement it would take to seal myself in my room until high school graduation.

Before I could escape, she saw me and sprung into action. To this day, I still think I could have outrun her if I had less mousse in my hair. That stuff was not aerodynamic.

“You’re going to the concert with me!” she squealed.
I whipped out my best eyeroll. “Moth-er! No!”

To a teenager in the 1980s whose hormones were fine-tuned to Eddie Van Halen and Prince, being confronted with Tom Jones is like seeing Freddy Kruger in bicycle shorts: it’s creepy and uncomfortable on levels you don’t even understand yet.  All pleas were in vain. She had the double whammy of parenting: free entertainment and a custom-made bonding experience. I would have been happier if they used real glue.

On the night of the concert, the three of us piled into the car. I smuggled a book into the back seat, but “Atlas Shrugged” was promptly confiscated by the parental authority.

“You are not going to read at this event,” my mother sighed. “But we’ll get you a t-shirt.” 

During the hour-long ride to the amphitheater, I heard my supposed female role models giggling like mad schoolgirls, cracking jokes about the swivel potential of Mr. Jones’ hips, and singing repeated off-key performances of “What’s New Pussycat?”  Which somehow lead to more giggling, and the circle began anew.

We sat a mere two rows from the stage, slightly off center. The music started up and he strutted out in all his gyrating glory. When unmentionables started flying over my head, I checked to make sure Mom’s panty lines were intact. I wasn’t too worried about my grandma; it would have taken some true acrobatics to get her out of those bloomers. If she did throw them, they would just cover him like a B-movie ghost. Other women were picking up the undie-tossing slack, though. He picked up a pair, made an off-color comment, and stayed close to the edge. 

At that moment, I felt something tickle the back of my head.  A wisp of pink nylon clouded my vision and I realized a pair of bikini underwear was caught in my over-moussed curls. I screamed, shook them off and stomped on the offending garment like it was a burly spider in Viking armor. Stunned, I looked up. Tom Jones was looking at me. He mistook my scream of horror for a shriek of delight. He smiled, winked and kept singing. My face beat the color of the trampled panties by several shades.

My mother never noticed. She thought he was looking at her. 

I never got that t-shirt, but between that $20 and the money I saved giving up hair product cold turkey, I had enough for a few Van Halen albums and better speakers. Revenge was a dish best served with a maxed-out volume knob.


Sand Hassle

by Amy Mullis

“What are you doing?”

The Captain is kind of an embarrassment savant when it comes to sensing when I’m hovering on the brink of humiliation. We’d been frolicking in the ocean all morning and for the past mortification and a half, I’d been attempting what I thought was an unassuming display of aquatic gymnastics in the effort to rid myself of a sand dune lodged in a place that should never be landlocked. 

“The lining of my bathing suit is full of sand. I’m trying to empty it.”

There’s nothing like a little wet sand in the crotch to give you that “close encounter with a live mackerel” feel.

“It looks like some kind of tribal interpretive dance.”

“You might call it that.”

“You need a native costume.”

“I have a costume.  You’ve heard of a cement overcoat? This is cement underwear.”

“I’m just trying to help.” 

“Thanks, but what I need is a helper who can mind his own business.”

“Okay, I’ll wait for you at the hotel.”

A King-sized bed and a $20 room service cheeseburger called for drastic measures.  I would have given up my pay-per-view for a drink of fresh water and a bathing suit that didn’t retain ocean life.

 “Hold still so I can get my balance. I need to squat.”


“I want to lean on you.  I need to squat lower in the water so no one will see me.”

The Captain has a way of raising one eyebrow in a gesture that makes you feel as if you’ve asked for something unreasonable, like pink pompom fringe for the bedroom curtains.

“If I let you lean on me, can we get rid of that nasty pink pompom fringe in the bedroom?”

“Okay, just stand still.”  I took the opportunity to effect a grand jeté with the passing of a major wave.  Grand jeté is a ballet term meaning “your crotch is still full of sand and it’s beginning to chafe.”

I tugged. I wriggled. I did a little side step.  I did the hokey pokey.  Not only did I have enough sand in my personal space to build Cinderella’s sandcastle, I auditioned successfully for Dancing With the Stars.


“I’m not accomplishing anything.”

“Let’s just go on in.  Nobody will notice.”

“Nobody will notice?  It looks like I’m smuggling tropical fruit in my swimsuit.”

Just then a particularly devious wave crashed down from behind, sending me floundering underwater and knocking the straps off both shoulders.  Mothers covered their children’s eyes.  Low-flying seagulls pointed and laughed.  I’m pretty sure the lifeguard quit his job on the spot.

The Captain raised the eyebrow.  “Well, I don’t know about your banana, but your grapefruits are getting a little pink.”

As soon as I reached the area of civilization that has indoor showers, I retired that swimsuit. 

But the pompom fringe is staying put.

These days when Amy goes to the beach, she packs a new swimsuit. And duct tape. Join her for more “Don’t let this happen to me!” moments on her blog, Mind Over Mullis.


Fisher’s Lament

by Angie Mansfield

As I sat there, soaking sunshine
Quietly enjoying springtime,
Listening to birdies chirping
With my pole upon the shore,
I spied my bobber dipping quickly,
Back up again, then down hardcore.

"Aha!" I said, tensing, ready,
Gripping tightly, hands held steady,
Waiting for the tell-tale pulling,
That would signal dinner sure.
I waited for as long as I could,
Gave a pull -- fish there no more!

Cursing gently, hooked a new worm,
Laughing as I watched him squirm,
Tossed him in the water warm,
Sat back again to wait once more.
Sunshine warming, eyes were drooping,
Soon I was gently snoozing, waiting as I was before.

A gentle tug jerked me alert,
Like a caffeine pill advert,
My eyes no beauty could divert
From my bobber dipping gaily,
Like a housewife churning butter
In those cliche'd days of yore.

This time I would get the big jerk,
Fry him up with a great smirk,
Or I swore I'd go berserk,
And never fish again without an oar
To beat the water in frustration
Now pay attention - don't get cocksure!

I held on, firmly forcing patience,
Picturing my coming vengeance
On the swimming fiend that I abhorred.
A nearby fisher offered guidance,
I turned to decline his unasked-for brilliance,
Felt a jerk, then fish's absence; called the "helper" a meddling...creep.

I stood there for a time, head aching
While my eye was quickly twitching,
As I tried to keep my temper from exploding like before.
Then I slowly brought up my pole,
Snapped it in two with a great pull,
And left to take up video games INDOORS.

Angie Mansfield, perhaps unsurprisingly, lives alone with her dog and a jade plant named Fred. Yes, her plant has a name. You can find more of her failed attempts at journalistic integrity at the Zebra Rag.


A Verbal Snapshot

by Pauline Campos

“Mama?” Buttercup’s voice is ending on an up-note. Her eyebrows are scrunched up and her lips puckered in that cute and pensive way three-year-olds are prone to when pondering Life’s Big and Very Important Questions.

“Yes,” I ask, as I throw my bra into the hamper in the bathroom-adjacent closet and step into the bath tub for the same kind of quality time I grew up with. For just a moment, I remember sneaking glances at my mother’s body. The stretch marks. The boobs that kinda just hang there. The baby pooch that never really goes away unless a plastic surgeon is involved. In my Bath Time with Mommy days, there was no judgment. I just accepted her body as fact. But as I grew into a snippy little twenty-something and said, “I do,” I was damned sure I wouldn’t “let myself go” like she had. Catching my reflection in the mirror as I sit down, I quickly send off a mental “I get it now, Mom” into the Universe, hoping for some karmic cleansing.

“Mama?” She hesitates as I sit down.

This is unusual. I wait for it, her uncertainty almost giving it away.

“Mama, why are your chichis down there? They are supposed to be up!” She emphasis the statement by holding her upturned palms near her own baby-flat chest.

I want to say they used to be. I want to explain the everything in between Then and Motherhood. I want to tell her that they used to be, right after I had my formerly ginormous GG’s reduced to perky little DD’s when I was 24. I want to say that DD’s and gravity aren’t meant to get along when silicone isn’t involved. But I can’t. She’s too young to care why bras exist. And I figure I should wait until she is at least 16 to start blaming her for my body doing the whole Softening of Motherhood thing. Which means that the bra is the only thing I can go with.

“That’s why Mama wears a bra, baby,” I say, trying not to laugh. “to help keep them up here.”

I demonstrate by lifting the girls back to their pre-Buttercup positions. While doing so, I make a mental note of reminding The Husband that he promised me a boob lift after I push the next kid out.

“Oh,” she says, still staring at my naked body. “Will a bra help your belly, too?”

Guest blogging for Ermas this month is Pauline M. Campos, a former newsroom journalist turned stay-at-home-writer-mama with a blog that gives her the instant publication gratification while waiting for that book deal dream to come true. She also loves long-winded sentences, making up twitter hash tags, and likes to typo in her spare time. Find her at www.aspiringmama.com or on twitter as @aspiringmama.


Mark of the Beast

by Patti Wigington

When I was seventeen, I had the coolest car on the planet. It was a 1967 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport convertible. Nineteen feet long, and in a color that can only be described Arrest-Me Red, it sported a 327 under the hood, and a gas tank the size of my parents’ bathtub.

Whenever I went out with friends, I drove. It was partly because the Impala looked cool, but mostly because you could comfortably (although illegally) squash eight people into it and still have room for purses, Bon Jovi tapes, and cans of White Rain hairspray.

This was 1985, and I spent all of my hard earned (i.e., burger-flipping) money on that car. It ran like a champ, despite the layers of Bondo holding the rear end together. The biggest problem with the car – affectionately known as The Beast – was one of the things that made it so glorious. It was heavy. I’m talking armored-car heavy. I’m talking about “my grandfather could have used it to liberate a small German village” kind of heavy. And so, because of this massive weight, occasionally Bad Things Happened.

For example, a Bad Thing happened when I missed a curve and plunged The Beast about fifty feet into a muddy cornfield at midnight. I drove home dragging muddy cornstalks behind me, like giant golden tentacles. There was a Bad Thing when I swerved to miss a squirrel and ended up hitting a mailbox, which shot, cannonball-style, into the yard across the street. And then, the most Bad of Bad Things, there was the Boob Incident.

I was in my parents’ driveway, top down -- the car’s, not mine. I stood at the front quarter panel, where the open driver’s door joined the body of the car. I leaned forward, probably to pick something off the windshield, and made some comment about cracked Bondo.

Then it happened.

The door. Swung. Shut.

And when it did, it managed, somehow, to pin the underside of my right breast between the triangular driver’s side window at the front of the door, and the heavy outer edge of the windshield. I was pinned. Held in place.


I remember, after the initial shock of OHMYGAWDITSGOTMYBOOB, trying to reach over and open the door. But remember, this was a car that was nineteen feet long. I couldn’t reach the door handle.

Twenty-odd years later, I can’t recall who was there when it happened. Possibly my best friend, or maybe my boyfriend. What I do know is that I did the only thing I could think of, once I realized I was stuck in the car door.

I pulled away.

And let me tell you, it hurt. It hurt a lot. It left a mark four inches long and two inches wide, angry purple and throbbing, right there on my boob. It took weeks for that bruise to fade, but worse, it took a long time to get over the humiliation of admitting, “Um, yeah, I shut my boob in a car door.”

There was no long-term damage to anything other than my pride, but to this day, when I see the rare animal that is a 1967 Chevy Impala Super Sport Convertible, I cringe a bit, and whisper, “You’re not gonna get me this time, Beast.”

Patti Wigington began writing at the age of seven, when she ran out of books to read in her small-town library. Since then, she's grown up (a little) and published a couple of books, a whole bunch of columns, and a few short stories she's embarrassed to even have on her resume. In addition to writing, Patti spends her free time putzing around in her garden, coming up with new and exciting ways to re-use stuff she didn't think she wanted anymore, dying her hair odd colors, and full-contact recipe experimentation. She is married to the most patient man in the world, and is raising three children who are remarkably well-adjusted, despite their mother's best efforts to turn them into very strange people. Patti lives in central Ohio, and keeps people updated about her shenanigans at http://www.pattiwigington.com.


It's snot what you think...

Genius does what it must, and talent does what it can.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Some have genius, others talent, and yet there are those few who amble through life void in their very being of all skills useful and necessary. Fortunately for Napoleon, he’s got skills.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have skills…like you know, nunchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…

I don’t have spitting skills either. Normally I wouldn’t count this as an aptitude deficit or a character flaw; however, an individual with as many boogies as I posses needs certain skills, namely spitting skills. My lack of technique was never more apparent than on a road trip to Maine one chilly morning.

Shortly after we wed, my husband and I had the screwy idea to purchase a house in Maine. Not just any old house would do for the new couple…my, no. It needed to be house nearly condemned with no electricity on the second floor, no real kitchen, and no usable bathroom.

I only mention the house to explain our weekly trek from New York to Maine. Each Friday night after work, we’d hop in our car and drive to Maine to toil (I do mean work, sweat, bleed, labor and travail) on our “new” home.

For reasons that escape my memory, this particular weekend we left during the pre-dawn hours of Saturday. Notice I said PRE-DAWN?

I’m not a morning person. A mommy bear protecting her young cubs is more cordial than I in the pre-dawn, dawn, and slightly post-dawn hours of the morning. My children know that when I stumble from bed, it is their job to silently hug me and point me in the direction of the coffee pot. Sudden movements, commotions, and happy chatter are NOT welcome in the morning.

During the hours of first light, my ordinary skills do not perform at peak capacity…spitting skills included. However, my sinuses work double time engulfing my nasal cavity, throat, and chest with goo as thick as a jellyfish and as abundant as cockroaches in a New York City tenement.
An accurate representation of my morning snot.

This booger problem requires no less than 15 boxes of tissues be scattered throughout the house. Paper towels are preferred for the first blow due to their ability to handle extreme pressure.

On this chilly morning, I was trapped in a vehicle without a tissue. Unwillingly I coughed up a booger that filled my mouth like you only wish your jelly donuts were filled. I had to rid myself of this gelatinous ooze and quick!

My ever helpful new husband, says “Spit it out the window.”

He hadn’t yet been privy to my lack of skills. Hoping for the best, I rolled down my window. With the wind in my face, I blew with the fervency of a child blowing candles on his birthday cake and silently wishing for a new bicycle. All appeared well. I was free of my snot, or so I assumed.

About an hour later, we stopped at a Dunkin Donuts in Connecticut to get coffee. As we entered the cramped coffee shop, I decided to head to the bathroom first. I’d almost reached the bathroom when my husband pulled me back by the sweatshirt. I stumbled as he burst out laughing.

“Whaaat?” I grumpily glared at him.

He could only point to the back of my shoulder. Dried into a cement-like compound was my ginormous booger. I wasn’t free after all. Apparently the loathsome wind had blown the snot back in my face. Thankfully it missed and landed on my shoulder.

Some women carry chips on their shoulders. Me, I just carry a wad of snot.

I’ve learned that my skills have their limits. I’ve also learned to keep a box of tissues in the car.

Tricia Gillespie, wife and mother, is finding her happy moonlighting as a freelance writer and blogger. She lives on the domestic fringe in denial of her actual age, avidly avoiding scales, and eating too many M&M’s. Go visit her on the fringe!