Next, please!

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Summer always makes me think of ice cream. Well, okay, realistically speaking I can probably say that just about anything can make me think of ice cream.

To clarify: summer has a way of reminding me that it’s “ice cream season.”  The sweaty, sticky days that beckon us to do nothing but squint and search for shade are here. Days that inevitably have a way of driving everyone in our town to the one location that serves the best ice cream around. You know its really good ice cream when perfectly sane neighbors (including yourself) tote the whole family along to wait in line (out the door, through the parking lot) in the blazing heat for a milkshake. Definitely putting themselves at risk for heat stroke or at the very least, sweat stains.

In any case, summer will always make me remember my days waiting on those such customers when I worked at Holy Cow. A good 4 summers of memories. Some very, funny, memories.

One such story is what I now call “The Legend of the Bands”. For it is quite simply the short summary of my awkward teen years and all its embarrassing moments wrapped up in a tiny nutshell topped with whipped cream and a cherry. It goes like this:

Holy Cow is the best ice cream in town. The best. The prices are insanely cheap, and the ice cream is so delicious that the place is open all year round (even on holidays!) minus two days.

To work at Holy Cow is probably one of the most prestigious jobs a teen around here can hold.It practically warrants celeb status. To this day, people will come up to you and expect you to remember them, or worse, their usual orders. If they don’t recognize you from the store, you can reference working there in pretty much any circumstance (like getting out of a ticket or meeting new friends) and you instantly move up on the awesome ladder.

Typically, the girls who worked at HC were the high school field hockey team. Gorgeous girls who had straight teeth, nice figures and boyfriends. Popular girls, in short. I, however, was not on the field hockey team. I did not have anything resembling a figure and  I certainly did not have a boyfriends, or boys who were my friends. Heck, I didn’t even go to the public high school. I was a homeschooled, knobby kneed, braces wearing, overly exuberant teenager who was somehow hired.

I was also very skinny. So the “small” shirt I was given to wear sat on me like a loose sheet  totally killing any chance of emphasizing the imaginary figure I wished I had. And I didn’t have contacts yet, so I wore “attitude glasses”. And I had some crazy cases of acne. So, in short as one employee dubbed me, I was a “funny dork”.

Lucky for me, I was confident in my dorkiness. The one thing I had going for me was that I was super friendly. Sometimes this aided my situation and sometimes it entirely destroyed my self esteem, as in this case (and in the Christmas tree nose hair case, but that’s another story).

It was a piping hot June day. I had just undergone oral surgery a few days prior, for which one of my upper incisors (aka front tooth’s neighbor) had to be “lassoed” from the roof of my mouth (for whence it decided to settle instead of my gums) and be dragged down to the front of my mouth.  The end result consisted of a silver linked chain with one end attached to the roof tooth and the other end attached to the front tooth. Totally insanely gross & weird, and completely would figure to be just my luck as I entered my 16th year of life. I definitely kissed all prospects of attracting boys goodbye. I did come to terms with the surgery rather quickly though, especially when the alternative was a tooth which potentially would settle in the roof of my mouth, near the nasal cavity. Now that would definitely have been special. No nose-tooth for me, give me the silver chained lasso.

In addition to the bling and my usual fully loaded metal mouth, I had been assigned to wear “rubberbands” which helped pull the top teeth lower by anchoring them with a teeny tiny rubber band to the bottom teeth. So, pretty much I could only open my mouth as far as the tension on the very visible rubber bands would allow before they snapped or before I was in pain. Something usually gave.

As I stood at the dull ice cream counter, waiting for the customers to pour in, I pitied  myself in my baggy shirt, gawky glasses, and the fact that when I spoke it looked like I was choking on a necklace.

People began to flood the store in search of decadent sundaes and cones. I blinked comatosely through my smudged glasses and convinced myself to be the best ice cream waitress possible, to be friendly and get the order right. I coached myself that people would be so caught off guard by my helpfulness & cheer that they couldn’t possibly have a chance to notice my war zone mouth.

“Can I help who’s next?”

I shouted out to the masses, lunging my body up higher by standing on my toes to get people’s attention.

More people poured in, the chatter between people created a cicada-like hum and the heat grew stickier, no one stepped forward to my line.


I tried again, pushing my glasses up my nose with a sigh.

I looked around at the other girls serving customers, hastily dashing between the milkshake machine and the ice cream freezer, dousing cones with sprinkles, filling dishes with strawberries and dollops of whipped cream. Sweating buckets as they heard the front door jingle over, and over, and over again as more, and more, and more people stuffed themselves into the store.

I smiled hugely and tried an approach that was sure to work: speaking up.

Again I went up on my toes, gripping the counter for stability with my bony fingers.

My baggy shirt swayed in the motion.

“Can I please help who’s next?!”

As my mouth widened to finish the “ex” part of next, something gave.

My rubberbands snapped, spit splattered  and so did my self image for that month.

I watched in that slow-motion like in movies where the people inwardly shout “noooooooooo”

as my rubberbands flew out of my mouth and into the sea of customers. All of whom were staring at me; the girl who was supposed to fix their ice cream which they wanted to eat. Even though I looked like I was trying to swallow a tiny tennis bracelet. And now all they knew was that something flew out of my mouth all slimy at a most abrupt rate and landed somewhere in their midst, but because it was “clear” colored  it wasn’t going to be located too easily.

I cringed and made a mortified mad dash to the bathroom where I locked myself in there to “fix” my rubberbands or really, wait until the crowd left so I wouldn’t have to face my victims.

I’m pretty sure for the rest of my shift, I tried to find everything imaginable to do that wouldn’t require interaction with customers.

Although it was the one of the most embarrassing days of my fragile teenage life, I can’t help but laugh about it now.I also can’t help but be super skeptical of who’s serving me food.Especially when it’s ice cream season and I’m the one on the other side of the counter.

Say Cheese Please!

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So we did the seemingly insurmountable task of getting our family pictures done. Over Camera Guy’s dead body, we went to a studio in Sears.

Thus is the curse of being the photographer’s family. Everybody else gets amazing portraits, but we can’t get our own young-ins to sit still for a second to smile. Luckily we had a coupon for a free portrait so I dragged Princess for a haircut, got Chubbers in his Dockers and off to the mall we went.

So we had an appointment. But when we got there, the studio was dimly lit and no one was around. It was eerie. If someone had whistled and beckoned to us from behind the hallway wall I wouldn’t have been the least surprised.

We got a late start, about a half hour because the photographer was late. A half hour , I’m learning, is very valuable on toddler time. They were fed, changed, clean and happy. But the closer we crept to naptime, the more fiesty the troops became.

Finally the girl (who had to have been like 19) gets us into the studio room. Everyone is set. We all are matchy matchy, feeling good, there’s no one in the waiting room, and I’ve got a bag of tricks.

Then I look at Chubber’s hair and realize I forgot to comb it. I assumed the studio had a box of disposable combs for things like this. Nope. So a 15 minute scramble through the diaper bag ensued… resulting in tilting the bag upside down & shaking it, determined that amongst the cheerios, raisins and diaper cream there HAD to be a comb! A half hour elapsed again, and no comb was found.

So we licked our hands and pushed his hair the side. Que Sera….

Onto photos. A big letter “x” appeared on the studio screen for the kids to sit on.

“Now make sure they sit right on that “x’ ” photo girl stressed.

I almost burst out laughing.

“They’re 2 and 1….um….. I can’t get them to sit in the tub, let alone sit on that 3 inch “x’ ”

But we tried, we tried for oh, about…. let me not exaggerate here: 2 hours.

Totally. Not. Kidding.

Yes, believe me. We tried very hard to make it work. Things just kept preventing blissful family picture from occurring. Sometimes the barcode on Princesses shoe was showing, or Chubbers was holding the football in front of his face, or lipstick was on my teeth, or Camera Guy was looking like he was in a coma, or Chubbers decided to play peek-a-boo with his forehead fat.

Exasperated the photo girl cried out “Mom & Dad, you’re going to have to make them smile”

Exasperated I cried back “If we could do that, we wouldn’t be here!”

“I have an idea” She reached into the toy bin and pulled out a baseball bat.

I gasped in horror and started to throw raisins at her bald head. But then she just used it to tickle their bellies…so…

Either way, it was overly strenuous for all of us. And when we finished (more like quit emphatically) we realized there were 4 other families waiting in the lobby and she was the only photographer scheduled for the day. (I made sure I took the bat away from her before she saw the line)

In the future I am going to be much more leery of those free portrait coupons.

2 hours later and we had come away with the following :

1. One empty exhausted bag o’ tricks: snacks, toy medicine dropper, toy car, ballerina bunny, rubber duckies, umbrella, football & lollipops.
2. Two red-eyed kids from crying
3. Zero photos of them together. In that lovey dovey sister brother cuteness, that we never see anyway, but would have been nice for the picture.
4. Two near-migraines
5. One family photo where husband looks Asian.
6. 2 huge laughs from when they tried to sell us the “Gold” package that started at $1000, but would offer us at a special reduced rate of ONLY $800 ( how kind, we’re supposed to pay you
400 bucks an hour to drive us loco? I don’t think so, the kids know how to do that already for free…)

All in all it was a learning lesson. Which I learned nothing from immediately and was instead suckered into buying the $10 portrait card which was good all year round for a free 8×10 any time I came in! As much as I wanted! (Oh goody! Now I can accelerate the speed of loosing my mind at an even faster and more concentrated rate than I was already doing!)

You wouldn’t believe what happened when I got home, either.

I found the comb in the front pocket of my diaper bag.

Start your engines

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I love spring. The sunshine, the warm breeze and of course, the sweet songs of the birds as they flitter across the sky. What drives me nuts about spring is the rowdy teenagers that infiltrate my street trying to perfect their pop-a-wheely or half pipe. It seems to be no matter where we live, when school lets out and its spring time…the youngins descend on the only area that hasn’t yet shooed them away: my front yard.

Why do they feel the need to grace my ears with their atrocious language and hygenic habits? I do not need anymore clarification on just how to hock a loogie. I’m pretty sure I got it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love youthfullness. I am not discriminating against their childhood or annoying phase of teenager-ness that they can’t help but being in. But seriously, I could do without the tye-dyed hair-triple-nose-piercings-heavy-metal-listening-engine-revving-ness that goes on literally inches away from my front porch.

Engines revving. Now that is possible the single most pointless thing in the world. Seriously! What is the point here? And why must it always occur directly in the middle of my kids naptime?

Yesterday, about 5 boys who thought they were the bomb diggity were chlling with their hoodies up over there heads, bobbing their chins down and up to the beat of the bass, hanging their arms out the car windows, just revving their engine in front of Pio’s Place. I yanked the curtain away from the window and glared. I grunted to myself and closed the curtain again. Hopefully they wouldn’t wake up Chubbers.

Then, a second car pulled up next to them and they too had the bass up all the way and were swaying to the beat and greeting each other in teenager boy fashion of “Yo Yo!” and “What’s Up?”. I soon realized that engine revving is essential to the teenage male language. It serves almost as a puncuation point or the “LOL” at the end of every sentence. And all engine revving must increase by oneTheir convo went something like

“Yo Yo man, where you going?” (engine REVVVVVVV)

“Hey man , where you been? We wanna grab some shakes at Mickey’s Igloo” (engine REVVV REVVV)

“Yeah, sweet. Turn around.” (Engine REVV REVV REVVV)

“Aight” ( Engine REV REV REV REVVVV)

You get the picture. So naturally, I toyed with the idea of going out there myself and barking at them. I had just heard Chubbers let out a whimper of awakening (the dreaded whimper of awakening especially after only a 1 hour nap!)

But I admit my short sweatpants (yes those again, don’t judge me), no makeup and fuzzy red sweater paired with their tye dyed hair, body piercings and possible weapons possesion definitely deterred me from making a spectacle.

My thoughts quickly turned to more logical problem solving techniques like:

1.I will have to stop using the driveway and start parking my car in front of my house.
2. Create a fake street sign. (is that illegal?)
3. Take down their plate numbers and call police.
4. Bake cookies and ask really nicely to not have pow wow in front of my house.
5. Hire off duty bouncer or cop to stand on my driveway with arms crossed.
6. Leave dirty fuzzi buns in pile near edge of sidewalk.
7. Stand on porch with screaming, exhausted child who was woken up from nap and give them the evil eye.
8. Buy pittbull.
9. Hand them rosaries and bless them with holy water every single time they come around.
10. Try to talk to them about God.

Kind of leaning towards number 7 but am slightly curious as to how number 10 will go. I think I may just invest in a leaf blower and power washer and subsequently have some yard work time, particularly in the front yard at 2pm each day. Hmmmmm. Will keep you posted (ha!)