An Alternative View of the Florida Keys
The Infamous Christmas Letters - 2001
Cruciger Christmas Letter
it all into perspective.
am going to begin this year's letter with a small example of different
perspectives. Consider the
following sentence and without reading ahead, memorize your first take
on it. I will attempt to
guess what you came up with from here.
who is thirteen this year, purchased a bumper sticker for my car. It
says: It's all about me!"
note that this is content analysis - not a sentence structure or grammar
test. This is a true
statement by the way. You
may also note that the message on the sticker is perfect for me.
I do live in a Cindy-centric universe. I sincerely believe that
what ever happens in this particular space in time I currently occupy is
all related to me in some significant way.
For those of you who consider this selfish and self-serving, I
would like to point out that even saints exercised their altruistic bent
for the sole purpose of personal, spiritual enrichment.
You donate to charity because you "think" this is
helping someone less fortunate. You
could be wrong. It doesn't
matter if you are wrong. What
matters is that you did it because you have a personal desire to donate.
I have a personal desire to get all the crap out of my house.
It's all one in the same process - just personalized.
get back to the sentence.
"glass-is-half-full" friends like Mary Beth and T.M. will
think that Lauren is such a sweetheart for buying me a bumper sticker.
Debbie Shannon's Father will freak when he finds out that I
actually put the sticker on the bumper of my brand new 2001 Monte Carlo.
(He parks 20 miles from the next nearest vehicle to prevent dings in his
car. Someday, a meteor will
land on his car and end this strange parking paranoia.) My husband will think that Lauren has no money of her own and
want to know who actually paid for the sticker and how much did it cost.
My editor friends will note that the word "purchased"
is probably too formal and suggest that I use the word
the parents of thirteen year olds will see this sentence as it truly was
written. (Yes Dave is her
father but Dave is only the alternate parent of a thirteen year old.
I am the primary.) No thirteen-year-old child currently living in America
willingly buys anything for her parent with out some ulterior motive.
A real parent of a thirteen year old will immediately cut through
to the chase and ask the following question.
"What did Lauren want?" And they all know the answer.
"Lauren wanted to see if she could get me to spend money on
a bag full of stuff that no one actually needs.
This satisfies the single savage desire of all thirteen year olds
to see if they can get Mom or Dad to buy it for them."
The bumper sticker was a dollar.
The rest of the stuff in the bag, which was for her, was over a
hundred dollars. That is
what our ratio to our children has become 1:100.
My engineer friends may all heave a sigh of relief.
I have placed the chaos of the thirteen-year-old mind into a
mathematical ratio that can be used as a launch pad for theorems and
proofs. If we can quantify and calculate the projected damage our
children are capable of, perhaps we can negotiate a settlement.
Walk away with our bank accounts and dignity intact.
Salvage our retirement. Or.
say all of this because, as I approach forty, I have noticed that more
and more people around me are dying.
I don't think the numbers are disproportionate to the population
mind you. I just notice it
more. I also take note of
ages and the cause of death. They
all seem to hover somewhere around my age range.
They all die of diseases that I am positive I have but, because I
ignore the symptoms, I will not die of them.
It is possible that our thirteen year olds are like vultures
circling their aging prey.
year Lauren complained because she was not mentioned prominently enough
in the Cruciger Christmas letter. This
year she will come to see that omission as a kindness. Grab a cup of coffee, a diet coke or a glass of wine.
This year's letter is gong to be a long one.
celebrated the New Year on the Island of Aruba. For the geographically impaired of my friends, Aruba is part
of the Dutch ABC islands south of the Lesser Antilles and North of
Columbia. Warm climates and
luxurious locations seem to be the preferred haunts of the world's best
narcotics smugglers -- lucky for us.
While Lauren was taking lessons at the Hyatt for Scuba Diving,
Dave and I took Jon to the Hyatt's "Little Bubblers" pool
diving certification class. They have kid-sized scuba gear and take the guppies into the
Hyatt's pool to scoot around the bottom like little squid being chased
by a big teacher dolphin. We had a room at the Holiday Inn, just one
hotel over. The drug
smugglers have suites at the Hyatt.
may think that is just an educated guess about the smugglers staying at
the Hyatt, but it's not. As
we lounged on the pool deck chairs, watching Jon and the other guppies
make bubbles, we chatted with the parents.
Between Dave and a man, who looked exactly like James Gandolfino
from the Soprano's, sat a very nice woman from Connecticut who winters
in Ft. Liquordale. The wealthy Jewish winter residents have renamed it to
something else but I can't recall what.
I think she called it Hallendale and was very offended that I
hadn't heard of the pricier name for what used to be the Spring Break
grunge capital of the world and now looks like Tammy Faye Baker's Make
up case - on a much larger scale. Anyway,
Dave and "Tony" were talking shop, among other things.
They discussed how they were both here on working vacations with
their families and what a pain that could be.
They chatted about fishing.
Dave explained how hard it was to get Customs Agents to stay in
third world locations such as Mexico and Puerto Rico and
"Tony" said he had to pay double wages, plus provide a mansion
and full staff for his key personnel and STILL the ungrateful bastards
bitched about the living conditions in those locations. We discussed hotels. "Tony"
said that his "family" takes three suites at the Hyatt twice a
year for 2 to 3 months at a time. Dave said the Army booked a block of
rooms year round at the Holiday Inn for Spooks, DEA and Customs.
"Tony" spoke about his "Button" factories in
Mexico and Columbia and how the politics of each country was making it
difficult to export during season.
Button Season, I presumed. But
the truly magical moment for me was when the nice socialite from the
North East realized exactly what was sitting on either side of her.
I thought she was going to throw up.
container cargo ship from China pulls into Aruba every year, three days
before New Year's Eve loaded with fireworks and replacement glass, for
windows blown out from the fireworks.
These people take their fireworks very seriously.
The only rule appears to be that after the 2nd of January, all
fireworks have to be disposed of. They
roll strings of huge firecrackers down every single street on the island
and over the next several days and set them off.
Red paper from the exploded casings was a foot deep in some
places, but that wasn't even half of the show.
For three nights the Arubans launch rockets from their back
yards, all night long. Looking
out from the 5th floor stairwell balcony of our hotel, it looked like
Baghdad during the height of the Gulf war, only more colorful.
At least once in your life, you must go see this.
Dave was in his element. He
loaded up the back of our rented jeep and launched fireworks from our
balcony and then, after melting the hotel's PVC table and nearly setting
fire to our room, from the beach for hours.
for the wild life . . .
were iguanas and other, smaller lizards everywhere.
Jon spent a great deal of time chasing them, to the horror of
many of the other hotel guests. When
one gentleman had the audacity to chastise Jon for this harmless little
past time, Dave intervened. He
said something to the effect of, "Look.
The kids gotta eat." And
that pretty much ended that. He
said that people staying at a Holiday Inn should not be putting on airs,
even if the rooms are $350 a night.
chartered a boat to go completely around the island, while fishing the
entire way. The wind blows
twenty knots all the time. The
waters off shore are always rough.
The local charter fleet of five boats compensates for these
conditions by charging a mere pittance compared to the same number of
hours and running time here in Islamorada.
About a quarter of the way around the island, Dave realized that
our captain and mate had no idea what they were doing and he took over
the very serious task of getting fish.
We caught two huge Wahoo's and two huge dolphins.
When we came into the docks, we were the only boat that had
caught a fish. I got the
distinct impression that we were the first passengers of this particular
fleet to EVER catch a fish. Our
captain and mate are now celebrities. There is a reason you don't find many seafood restaurants on
Aruba and you never hear about big fishing tournaments there.
You have to really want to fish to go out on that water.
Once we got used to the rhythm of the waves, they weren't too
bad. We have been out in
way worse for far less worthy causes.
drove over every square inch of that island and went into every cave. On
our first day with the Jeep, we discovered that the island prostitutes
considered the rental Jeep fleet their own personal mobile bedrooms. They are ragtops and the doors don’t lock.
Dave cleared one working girl out of our Jeep on the second
morning of our stay. Part of his routine in the morning included
clearing out the night crawlers before the kids and I came down for our
adventure drives. He
neglected to remove abandoned articles of clothing, however. Jon was kind enough to wait until the last day to throw up in
our rental Jeep. Dave
turned it in to the rental place after a quick clean up with our last
bottle of Evian and Wendy's Yellow fast food napkins.
Their billboard reads: Three Wendy's, one happy Island. A nice
Venezuelan couple was at the rental store trying to get a jeep.
Dave warned the owner that the jeep needed to be cleaned.
The couple, fearing that they might have to wait and end up
losing the car to someone else if they went and came back, insisted on
taking it "As is". The
island was booked. People were willing to sacrifice for the small
comfort resources available.
wanted to take a trail ride on local horses on our last day of vacation.
We sent her and Jon off to mosey through the cactus and down to
the beach on one of the equestrian guided tours offered by the local
tourist herders. There
appear to be no "Must be accompanied by a parent or guardian"
laws in Aruba. Dave and I took full advantage of this egregious lapse in
their culture. We happily
ferried our offspring from one activity after another and then snuck off
to snuggle, shop, gamble and just generally de-evolve into puddles of
Goombay Smash. It was bliss.
flight home was packed with pissed off cruise ship passengers who had
disembarked at Aruba when their ship was repossessed.
I sat on the disgruntled American, paying passengers row.
Dave sat on the happy-to-be-fired, blond British cruise ship
employee's row. As soon as
Dave mentioned that he was a pilot, these women crawled all over him.
I am convinced that a troll could get a date if it could fly an
It's just a bus with wings smacked on each side.
You wouldn't find the Greyhound bus driver guy irresistible,
of you may wonder who cared for the Cruciger Zoo while we were away for
three weeks. My friend T.M.
volunteered to take ALL of the creatures for the duration but since I
actually like T.M. I only saddled her with the bird and Jemima.
Jemima was a model houseguest apparently, and Cookie, our
20-year-old Molucan Cockatoo, was her usual self.
Cookie is actually David's bird and is his alter ego in the
aviary kingdom. She is
loud, demanding, stubborn, destructive, annoying, completely unaware and
uncaring of where and when she moves her bowels, has a rabid aversion to
the vacuum cleaner, and snuggles up on you at every opportunity
demanding that you love her unconditionally, in spite of all her
unappealing character flaws. T.M.
adored her too.
Jemima developed cancerous cysts at some point in time and when I picked
her up from T.M.'s she had lumps. The
vet removed four in total. She
survived the cancer surgery, but P.K. and Precious scratched her eye
when we brought her home and she needed three months of eye treatments
for the infection that set in. P.K.
and Precious - my two gray Persian cats, are now outside cats.
Andi, Dad's Himalayan is still inside - much to her personal
disgust. She tries to sneak
out on a daily basis. She
doesn't go far. She just
wants to have you open the door for her as she goes in and out, in and
out, and in and out. For
revenge I had her teeth scraped and her fur shaved.
Dave was selling tickets to neighbors who wanted to see poor Andi
with her Lion cut. She
handled it all with her usual disdain.
I suspect she pee'ed in Dave's closet later though.
Lauren has adopted Andi as her cat.
They both share the belief that they belong in a different
family, a better family, a family that buys them things just because
they think they might want them.
finally realized his life long goal to master animal husbandry with our
giant red-tailed Boa constrictors Sneaky and Montana. Many of you will recall the hamster homosexual disaster of a
few years back and possibly wonder at how anyone who couldn’t
successfully identify the sex of a hamster could manage to figure out
the sexual preferences of a snake -- or, snakes, as the case may be.
found, on the Internet, reams of information on the difficulty involved
in successfully mating a pair of giant constrictors, beyond the first
step of actually determining that you are indeed mating a male and a
female snake. Cage
conditions must be perfect. The
temperature must be precise. Humidity
levels must be monitored carefully.
Snake diet must be regulated.
Sneaky is a live bearing snake.
This means that there are no eggs laid to give evidence to
successful fertility. The only measure, by which you can ascertain that your pet
Sneaky is knocked up, is her size.
is getting fat.” Both
Dave and Jon announced this at the dinner table in February. Deep down, I knew what this meant. I was, however, in the deepest throws of denial.
It was patently impossible that Dave had succeeded in breeding a
snake as complex as a live bearing constrictor.
I mentally ticked off the last time I had seen all of my other
animals and ruled out the possibility that Sneaky had been snacking
fat?” I had to pretend a
polite interest. Jon loves
his snakes almost as much as Dave does.
man Mom. She’s getting
HUGE. Her scales are
separating, she’s so fat.”
you just feed her a jumbo cane rat yesterday?”
Perhaps she was just digesting.
didn’t eat it.” This
statement filled me with an even greater sense of dread,
did you do with the rat then?” When
Sneaky refuses to eat a live rat, Dave empties Jon’s toy bucket and
“stores” the rat in there with a bowl of water and cat food.
There is no lid on the bucket.
Dave believes the rats can’t climb out the plastic sides of the
bucket. I have seen rats
scale a side of sheet metal, five stories high.
For some reason, Dave is always surprised when the rats escape.
It says a great deal that neither of my offspring find
encountering a rat in the hallway on the way to the bathroom at night a
reason to wake Mom and Dad. They
simply pick it up by the tail and deposit it back into the toy bucket.
ate it.” Oh thank god. I
could now entertain the joyful possibility that Montana would suffer
irreparable internal “burstage” from the consumption of two jumbo
cane rats and the Cruciger household would number one less snake.
When the babies were born, the Cruciger family included 38 more
snakes. Dave recruited half
the neighborhood to clean and process the foot long babies and managed
to sell every one of them to the president of the local Herpetological
Society for $20 a piece. One
baby shed its skin in the truck on the drive over and it wasn’t
discovered until a week later. We
had to fumigate the truck. Dave
bought boat electronics with the money.
a completely unrelated thought . . .
February I discovered a charming little quirk in our Keys Dental
community. I found out that
if you lose a filling, call for an emergency appointment and they
graciously squeeze you in, Novocain is not administered.
The Dentist had ten minutes to fix my filling between regular
patients. He drilled and filled with no drugs. Those of you, who know me, also know that when even the
mention of pain is whispered, I require chemical sedation. And now, my dentist knows this as well. Here's a tip.
Get drunk before you go in.
The fumes from your breath may set off a spark when the drill
hits the enamel of your teeth, but you won't feel it until later and you
will have the added benefit of seeing the sadistic squid Doctor's
March, Dave painted the living room pink.
In April, David decided that he needed a bigger boat. I explained to him that until the house note was paid off in
August, I wasn't willing to take on a boat payment. I told him he had to wait.
I pointed out that his current boat was completely paid for and
that he had the whole summer to look for something else at his leisure.
He listed his boat with a broker for $3,000 more than it was
worth the next day. He
thought it would take months to sell it.
He figured only serious buyers would even look at it with the
price he had it listed at. A
week later, a nice young Cuban gentleman came in with a paper bag full
of twenty dollar bills and offered Dave what he was asking for it.
If we refused the deal, we still had to pay the broker $3,000 in
fees. Dave called me in a
blind panic as I was shopping at The Gap on my lunch break with T.M..
do I do?"
wanted me to say that he could sell this boat and buy another boat
immediately and that I would suck in the expenses of such a purchase
with out complaint.
then I won't have a boat to use until August!" He had conveniently forgotten the two other boats in our
can't go all summer with out a way to get out on the water."
have to sell it. The man is offering $3,000 more than it’s worth.
I’m not eating the broker’s fees just because it didn’t
occur to you that a 30’ go fast boat disguised as a fishing vessel
would sell in less than 24 hours in South Florida."
I honest-to-god wonder, sometimes, if Dave actually knows what he
does for a living. Just a
few months earlier, he had bagged a slice of a local smuggling gang
affectionately called the flying Avanti brothers.
An Avanti is a go fast boat.
They occasionally fly their Avanti’s into the mangrove trees
during particularly heated boat chases, hence, The Flying Avanti’s.
you let me buy the bigger boat?"
you. I knew you would agree."
This is called spousal interpretation of the spoken word. He heard the word "no". He knew, however, that I did not want to listen to his
whining all summer and that I wanted him to buy his bigger boat.
I just couldn't actually say the word "yes" because
then I would not have a decent platform on which to nag him later when
the checking account was empty and the boat needed repairs and gas.
Years from now, Social Behaviorists and Linguists will join
forces to study this hidden language and earn Nobel prizes for writing
the marital equivalent of the “Rosetta Stone” to decrypt it.
He bought a 34' Silverton which, he said was in perfect repair,
except for the $4,000 or so dollars needed for electronics, generator
rebuild, batteries, etc. It
is docked behind a neighbor's house down the street.
It came pre-named. Jet
Lag. Dave is happy.
It won't last.
found a new way to take deer this year.
He hit one with his airplane.
He called me from the office after nearly totaling the Custom’s
King Air by hitting a deer on take off at 130 mph.
He landed at Homestead Air force base, barely. This is the plane
with the plaque in the back with the number 2 on it that asks the final
owners of the plane to ferry it to the Smithsonian when it goes out of
service, as it is the oldest remaining plane of that make and model in
existence. Customs got this
plane because, while they had no money to purchase new equipment, they
had plenty of money for repairs. They took it on donation from a branch of the government that
had no money for repairs, but lots of money for new purchases.
They may be able to fix it up enough to put on display at the
Smithsonian. It will
probably never be flown again. Then again, this is the U.S. Government
we are talking about here. A
few parts from the plumbing department at Home Depot and she might be
good as new.
had me on speakerphone when he broke the news.
Until that moment, I don’t believe anyone in his office truly
believed the stories he told them about me.
They know different now. My
thought process was as follows. He’s
obviously OK, since he is talking to me on the phone.
He hit a deer. Is
the deer OK?
question nearly unmanned half the office.
How in the hell am I supposed to know if a deer can survive the
impact of an airplane at 130 mph. Dave
managed to breed snakes for god’s sake.
Anything is possible.
he be bringing the deer home for dinner?
of you who find this question weird do not know Dave.
It is well within the realm of possibilities for Dave to drive
back to Collier Air field in the truck and retrieve the carcass.
He’s just that way. And
he did consider it. Past
experience, however, had taught him that the collateral bruising
sustained from such an impact would render the meat inedible for
anything but a dog. Maybe
not even a dog. I bet most
of you didn’t even know that. Well.
Now you do, because I asked.
co-workers and supervisors were merciless once they determined that no
death other than the deer had occurred.
His boss sent him out flying again almost immediately. On take off, the radio room attendant said that while the
possibility of bird encounters with the airplane was minimal, the area
was dense with deer. Did he
want to wait until a truck could clear the field?
Another voice mentioned that Santa was reporting a missing
reindeer. Earlier, while
Dave was in the bathroom, they announced over the PA system that Florida
Fish and Game were on the phone wanting to investigate the taking of a
deer by an unsanctioned method out of season.
am considering buying one of those lighted deer lawn ornaments and
putting an airplane through the middle of it.
went to Horseback riding camp in Ocala.
There she discovered that there are mom's way worse than me.
The Girl Scouts of America run the camp.
Aside from a slightly cult-ish view of the Christian religion,
they are a basically harmless group.
I did warn Lauren that there might be a few strange people.
Her first strange person encounter was one of the councilor moms. This mom insisted that elbows on the table killed fairies and
that Lauren would have to circle the table twice, singing.
In college they call this hazing.
Lauren adapted very well. We’ll
elaborate more on Lauren’s innate ability to handle strange female
rituals later. When camp let out, Grandma Daphne, who lives in Ocala, picked
Lauren up and spent the next few days with her shopping.
Lauren believes that if she kills Dave and I off, Grandma Daphne
might just get custody. I'm
not sure what's kept her back thus far, but I am beginning to think we
better get a will completed stating that she and Jon would be wards of
the Machetaros in Puerto Rico should anything happen to Dave and I.
There's more than one kind of insurance for every occasion.
drove Lauren here from horse camp and Daphne’s shopping camp.
believe that every person brave enough to visit the Cruciger abode for
any length of time experiences an uncontrollable urge to “fix” it. Daphne’s urge took form in the front yard.
We actually live on the second and third floor of the house.
The guest apartment is on the first floor.
Dave and I skate up the stairs to the second floor and try to
pretend that the front yard doesn’t exist.
We found out after we bought it, that the beautiful grass we fell
in love with when we purchased the house was actually maintained by a
three-month cycle of replacement. The
former owners of the house would lay down sod.
Water it until it died – usually in 2 1\2 months.
And, lay down more sod. Any
new plants interred in the ground – I use the term interred correctly
here BTW – was dug up and slain by Jemima.
We put in a gate for the back yard and moved Jemima and her
accessories to the back of the house.
But the devastation to the front yard remained.
Daphne stared out at our yard as she smoked her cigarette and a
deep steel stake of determination pierced her heart.
This week, her son’s front yard was going to be tamed.
should stop and mention here that I had only recently discovered that I
have a resting pulse of 106 and my blood pressure hovers at 212 over
107. I am now on medication
for this genetic flaw, I wasn’t on medication during the great lawn
renovation. I should also
mention that this took place in the middle of the summer.
Feeling any sympathy for me yet?
Send Flowers. Cut
Flowers. Do not send plants that require care.
two days, David’s dreams of paving the front yard and transforming it
into a boat yard turned to mulch. 160
bags of cypress mulch, 20 bags of cypress chips, 40 bags of decorative
granite rock, and approximately 40 plants were used to transform our
horticultural tribute to Somalia into a decent looking yard.
The neighbors watched in awe.
Some, knowing Dave’s deep aversion to yard work, took great
pleasure in taunting Dave as he caved in to matriarchal pressure and
lent a hand in the project. Dave’s
mother can get Dave to do things that I would have sworn he would never
do. She is my idol.
I am a mere mortal apprentice to her Avatar level of wizardry. I bow.
yard looks great.
the house, no one has yet managed to circumvent my “Decorating by
Death” motif. As
relatives die, we inherit furniture and artwork.
As creatures die, Dave stuffs and mounts them. Someday, Better
Homes and Gardens will want to publish a volume completely dedicated to
this generation-x innovation in interior design.
Consider this, as the baby boomers die; someone has to take on
their stuff. I predict a trend.
Ask me in twenty years how it panned out.
People think that disposition of their loved one’s mortal
remains is the most difficult aspect of dealing with a death.
I predict that, as the cemeteries run out of real estate, the
heirs will run out of rooms, and the home improvement industry will boom
as Gen-x’rs add rooms to their homes to hold all the stuff they get
stuck with. I am hereby
imploring all my remaining relatives not to die before I do.
We have six desks, 16 bookcases (that’s a good thing BTW), and
literally a ton of dishes. I
admit some culpability in the excessive dish tonnage.
Someday, I will tell you why.
inner guts of our house began emitting a foul stench some time in
August. My first fear was
that one of the escaped rats had died in a wall and we would be spending
the next month or so living in a house sized version of a bottle of
ipecac. But, the smell was
more like dead fish than dead rat.
Dave sniffed his way through the house like a hound dog after a
raccoon. I dreaded what he
would find. My maternal
instincts suspected that Jon had failed to dispose of his fishing bait
in a socially acceptable way. He
really likes to fish. He
will use three-day-old shrimp if that’s all he has to bait a hook
with. He – like most nine-year-old boys who consider farting a
sport – has no sense of smell. In
a sinister development, pointing to organic decay, the A\C vent in the
master bedroom began dripping a brownish goo.
I called the A\C people immediately.
Some people may have called animal control. Others might have
chosen an exterminator. I
have a few twisted friends who would have called the funeral home.
I figured if the smell was coming out of the A\C vent, it was a
problem for the A\C repair guy.
you know A\C filters need to be changed out on a regular basis?
Well then one of you should have mentioned that to me.
We have been living in the house for over four years now.
No one said, have you changed your A\C filters?
I believe our old filters are now on display at John’s A\C Hall
of fame for most disgusting grunge build up.
The smell is gone. Nothing
appliances sense the impending doom of Thanksgiving every year and take
a vote on which one of them will be giving up the ghost for this holiday
season. The dishwasher has drawn the short straw two years in a row now,
and Dave, in a fit of domesticity, decided to rip out the entire,
rebellions lot of them and bring in new appliances.
The new dishwasher arrived the day before Thanksgiving.
The rest of the appliances apparently disappeared off the truck
enroute. Dave always seems
surprised by crime here in South Florida.
There’s something refreshing about his ability to maintain that
level of optimism in the face of such blatant larcenous evidence.
He’s just cute that way, dammit.
I have no idea why.
many of you expressed the wish that Dave and I not reproduce, we have
obviously done so. Some of
you have mentioned concerns about the very real possibility that our
offspring may turn out to be very much like Dave and myself.
I understand your fears and they are well founded. You won’t be surprised then, when I tell you that Lauren is
developing a philosophical perception of the world contrary to the view
accepted by the average mainstream middle American. You might suspect that she is turning out to be just like me.
She is not. Lauren
is warped in ways I never thought of. She is an innovator in the complex world of male
manipulation. Like all
mother’s I asked her – as casually as possible since she will not
answer if she thinks I really care about the question – if any young
men had expressed an interest in her at school. I
had heard rumors and wondered if I needed to start worrying.
what did you do about that?” She
has her own phone, email account and enough personal freedom to carry on
a clandestine relationship right under my nose.
She could marry and birth kids with out my noticing. I would never be so foolish as to underestimate the stealth
capabilities of a thirteen-year-old.
was a new thing. I had
never considered pain as a romantic deterrent.
Years ago I discovered that Dave – no – I just pictured
Lauren shrieking “Too much information” at me - maybe in my memoirs
when I get older.
taught both Lauren and Jon self-defense.
Lauren has erected a no touch zone one foot out from her body.
Jon discovered this when he attempted to pinch her one-day on her
derričre. She didn’t do
any real damage to him. Then
again, he was hit by a car and walked away from that. I shudder to think about the damage she could inflict on an
ordinary human. I think
it’s covered by our homeowners insurance.
It’s possible she has a particular interest in some unfortunate
member of the opposite sex. I
just don’t know. And.
I don’t want to know.
she told Dave that she wanted to compete in the Miss Jr. Orange Bowl
pageant and Dave agreed, I nearly collapsed from shock.
It’s not that she’s not beautiful.
She is beautiful. It’s
not that she’s not smart and talented.
She is smart and talented. It’s
that events like the Miss Jr. Orange Bowl thrive on the good ol’ boy
system. In Orlando, Dave
and I might have the social connections to ensure at least some chance
of success for her in an event like this.
In the Keys, the numbers of relatives who have both successfully
and unsuccessfully run the gauntlet of the Federal Law Enforcement
Agency measures your social status.
If you want to research the Blue Book of the Keys, you need look
no further than the Federal Courthouse.
I do not say this in a negative way.
The Kennedy family got their start smuggling, after all. This is
a hard working community of people who I have come to admire and
respect. They just don’t
necessarily see things on par with the U.S. Government. What this really
means is, Lauren, as the daughter of a U.S. Customs Pilot, didn’t have
a snowballs chance in hell of making the finals.
her response to this was, “Jesus mom, lighten up.
I just want to get an invitation to the ball. I don’t care if I win.”
Hallelujah. I was
afraid I would have to give her my backup feminist lecture on women as
sex objects. All she wanted
to do was make me buy her a new dress.
sports, Jon made the traveling All-Stars team.
Lauren learned that not everyone views recreational team soccer
as a way for kids to get out, play with friends, get exercise and absorb
character enriching lessons such as, showing up for practice on time,
attending games regularly, good sportsmanship, doing your best, etc and
so on. Lauren learned that
some parents are out there to see their kids win.
If a member of the team isn’t a natural athlete in the soccer
arena, then showing up to practice and trying your best to play well
does not win any respect. Her
coaches managed to convey to her in the cruelest way possible, that they
considered her the worst player on the team and she was treated
accordingly. These are the
life lessons I wish I could shield my children from.
Since I can’t, I will record them here duly for my
grandchildren to remember. My
father was a coach. No
adult who cares about kids and who calls himself or herself a coach
would ever behave in such a manner with kids.
I let Lauren quit soccer in the middle of the season.
It wrenched every piece personal integrity I value out of my
spine to do it, but she didn’t deserve to suffer through the rest of
the games. The team had
more than enough girls to compensate.
She said I could make her feel better if I took her shopping.
who I believe is a genius, has been struggling this year in school.
He is making decent grades; he just doesn’t seem to have his
act together. Case in
point. Every morning the
teacher gives them a quick assignment to do and the kids grade their own
work as the teacher calls out the answers.
Ms. Peterson said, and I believe her, that Jon was erasing his
answers in anticipation of her called out answer and then writing in her
answer. Did you follow that? This
is Jon we are talking about. He
did not wait to see if he had written the correct answer himself or not.
He pre-emptively erased what he had written to write down Ms.
Peterson’s answer. This
assignment does not get a recorded grade. It assesses how well the students have absorbed yesterdays’
lessons. He got caught
cheating on a null assignment. I explained to him that, since he did not
appear to have a talent for cheating, perhaps he should just try the
traditional methods of passing school course work.
A few failed variations on this theme later, he finally buckled
down and got to work.
hasn’t been a decent year if we haven’t had a hurricane. This year, as I was putting up Halloween decorations, I made
the colossal mistake of saying, “Gee, I guess we aren’t going to get
hit this year.” This is
the karmic equivalent of murdering a million people along with yourself
and reincarnating as an experimental lab animal in Iraq.
Hurricane Michelle formed up twenty-four hours later.
We did not evacuate. The
lethargy with which Dave and I approached our hurricane preparations
sent Lauren and Jon into a blind panic.
Honestly, we just weren’t in the hurricane spirit.
Maybe if it had arrived in July, or even August, we could have
mustered up some enthusiasm. As it was, only Lauren’s screeching that we were all going
to die, motivated Dave to attach the metal shutters to the windows.
He punished us for making him put them up, you will recall his
extreme fear of heights, by leaving them up for a week.
Local officials were perturbed by the island wide lack of
enthusiasm for Hurricane Michelle.
Officials were reported uttering, “We train hours each year for
this sh*t people, could at least SOME of you have the courtesy to take
us seriously and evacuate?”
many, Hurricane Michelle was a last opportunity to trim down their
endangered trees, or in some cases, remove their tees completely. For
those of you who do not live here in the Keys, it may interest you to
know that permits are usually required to trim a tree with a trunk
diameter greater than six inches. I
think. If the tree is on
the endangered list, you probably won’t get a permit.
Hurricanes provide the perfect opportunity to claim downed
branches as collateral storm damage. As the new residents were putting
up storm shutters and packing their cars, the natives were rev’ing up
chain saws and vivisection-ing forests.
My neighbor in the house behind me got a late start on the tree
carnage train and was, at the height of the storm, standing at the top
of his sapling endangered hardwood tree, in full foul weather gear,
swaying with the wind gusts, sawing off branches.
You have to admire that level of dedication to yard work.
Especially when you are married to someone who loathes it as much
as Dave does. His reaction
to the senselessness of it all was priceless.
is going to strike that tree and someone is going to have to deal with
betting on a tornado ripping through it, actually.”
and I are not nice people. I
know you know that. I also
know you pass these letters on to total strangers for some perverse
reason. I am just making
sure the strangers aren’t reading this with any expectation that Dave
and I are the type of people to run out and rescue someone who dons a
Yellow Rubber suit, straps metal tools to his arms, climbs a small, weak
tree, and trims the branches off in the middle of a hurricane.
We are the type of people who will watch this lunacy from our
back balcony and write it down for future generations to enjoy in our
annual Christmas letter.
As always, I have left things out. Any of you who wish to receive an email with the convention chronicles from the Romantic Times Convention in Orlando, or who wish to receive copies of my articles for Romantic Times via email, just yip.
Property of Tropical Code, Inc. All rights Reserved
12/20/2008 10:33:37 AM
|Easter Apology 2000|