I know we all get spammed in email and on social. Such is the social disease in our playpen without borders. And, like the canned (or “tinned”) version of spam, e-spam comes in a variety of flavors.
Oh, you didn’t know that there are Spam line-extensions? There are 22, to be exact, including; Classic, Hot & Spicy, Oven Roasted Turkey, Jalapeño, Teriyaki, and my personal favorite, Spam Lite. For those times when you’re jonesing for compressed pig parts, but bathing suit season is coming up.
But I digress. (Nothing new.) The flavors of e-spam are equally varied. There’s Threatening Flavor spam, i.e. “You have two days to respond or the IRS will be knocking at your door.” NOTE: The IRS will never knock on your door. They always ring the bell.
Perhaps you enjoy the Thinly Veiled Scam spam: “We noticed suspicious activity in your bank account. Please click here to verify your information.” This one is usually accompanied by a fuzzy version of your bank’s logo and a return email address like hank@bankfoamerica_fromrussiawithlove_darkdampcellar_whoarewekidding.com.
And, of course, the Self-Pleasuring Blackmail Scam Spam. I like these not only for the rhyming and alliteration, but because they are just damn good writing. Mr. Parker used to get these with some frequency and, fortunately for us, he saved several. Some of you know that my man does voiceover work. He’s said things like, “The Super Bowl on NBC 4 is brought to you by Uni-ball Pens. Why wouldn’t you use a Uni-ball?” But sometimes, when the moon is at just the right azimuth and the little hand is nearing vertical, he’ll recite one of these emails aloud.
The voice he uses is a cross between Slavic, Asian, and Snidely Whiplash (Look it up) and varies in tone from menacing to delighted. Between the claims of infecting your computer with malware, to the declarations of witnessing your self-pleasuring activities, to the threats of sending videos of said pleasure to everyone on your mailing list, to the explanation of how to pay (“Send $2,000 in Bitcoin. Don’t know how to use Bitcoin? Google, ‘How to use Bitcoin.’”), it’s just good entertainment.
Tasty Spam flavors all. But today I’m focusing on a particular variety of Spam. Let’s call this dish Creepy Spam in Stalker Sauce. Ladies, I know that most of you have received one or twelve of these things in your time online. They typically show up on your FB or IG threads. They may show up on Threads by now, but I’m not current enough to know. This yummy spam is sent by a man (apparently, other women aren’t that into me [sad emoji]) and they say something like;
“I read your profile and I can’t stop thinking that we should be friends. I can tell you have a big heart and are the kind of person who cares deeply about others. And you are so attractive. Your eyes say so much. I would very much like to be friends with someone as special as you. Please accept my friend request. I’ll wait patiently.”
So much to unpack here. Let’s just go in order. First up, “I can tell you have a big heart…” OMG! No one has ever seen me the way this man does. I mean, really SEEN me. This stranger has looked at my posts, things like: “Happy Day After Dry January. Guess what’s in the coffee. ” and immediately deciphered that what I meant was, “I wonder what I can do to help the starving children of [FILL IN THE BLANK].” Amazing! Why don’t my friends ever acknowledge the size of my heart? My doctor has acknowledged that I have a surprisingly low heart rate, but he never said anything about its size.
Next up, the play to my vanity; “And you are so attractive. Your eyes say so much.” Quick, guess what my eyes are saying right now! Can you read it as they roll? In truth, I can’t argue with the attractive part. But look who I attracted. Remember, attractive doesn’t mean beautiful. Sad. And as far as what my eyes say, even my closest friends tell me that my eyes look like I’m either A) mad, B) annoyed, or C) stopping myself from telling the guy at the next table to stop whistling. (Blog callback! Yay!)
And lastly, the call-to-action; “Please accept my friend request. I’ll wait patiently.” Hmm. No friend of mine is patient. Nor do I expect them to be. I’m a snappy gal. I move fast and I like it when the people around me do the same. Sorry, my non-friend. You’re gonna need some Olympic level patients. Although…Maybe I should have responded, “So glad you liked my profile. Let’s be friends. BTW, I’m a bit short of cash at the moment. Can you help? I’m sure my eyes are saying that I’ll pay you back.”
Before I deleted Mr. Patient’s spam post and blocked him from my feed, I looked at his profile pic. A gal’s got to know. I’ve looked at enough of these stalkers to see the trends. There’s the Look-How-Harmless Spammer. He’s typically holding a puppy or some other animal with soft fur and big eyes, and he’s dressed in soft clothing. Something flannel. There’s the Set-For-Life Spammer, often in a doctor’s lab coat. His look says, Hook up with me baby and you’ll be on Easy Street. And, of course, the Mr. ‘Merican Spammer. He’s got a lifted truck, and almost always has an eagle somewhere on his person. It’s a look that screams, “Oh, you’re Jewish? Never mind.”
While I joke, these spammers make me sad. As with all forms of scam, people perpetrate them because there are those who will get taken in. I feel for the women who are truly looking for someone to care. These predators hone their personae to snag those already rather wounded. Shame on them.
Mr. Parker informed me that the Creepy Spam in Stalker Sauce that men get is a variation known as Creepy Spam in Sexy Asian Sauce. Think: more implicit suggestions about what the sender would like to do for (or to) the recipient. The account profile picture often looks like it came in a picture frame purchased in a Bangkok Walmart. That Mr. Parker is a lucky guy.
Sidebar: I accidently typed, “That Mr. Parker is a LICKY guy.” [Laughing emoji]
I’ll end with my favorite line extension of the Creepy Spam in Stalker Sauce. It’s the Creepy Spam in Stalker Sauce with Unidentifiable Country of Origin. The kind where the English reads like poorly translated instructions for putting together that authentic Adirondack chair from Thailand. Example:
“I feel special calling someone like you my friend [heart emoji + 4 flower emojis], sorry for infringing on your comment , but I must say you have wonderful profile and your post are Worth reading…[heart emoji + 5 flower emojis] but so sad enough we’re not friends here on Facebook and I’ve been trying to send you a request but it keeps on declining would you mind sending me a friend request just wanna be honest friends. Thanks and God bless dear [heart emoji + flower emoji]”
I know you’re in no way surprised when I say this heart-felt spam call will not be answered. But it did make me laugh to myself, and maybe now it made you laugh. So, I say to the sender, a Mr. R. A. George, Thank and God bless dear [heart emoji + flower emoji].
WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! THIS JUST IN!!!
I kid you not. As I was finishing reviewing this blog post, a new, most delicious Spam Came in. I’m calling this one, “Child-Bate Spam” and it’s genius.
“Hello. Good day. How are you feeling today? Well, firstly I want to apologize for commenting on your comment section but my little daughter just told me that you look like her mom. She said daddy let's give her a message because mom never hesitates to answer me. God bless you if you put a smile on her face.”
WOW, so much stronger bate than a puppy or a lab coat. That is, unless you have no interest in putting up with Stephan’s kid (who clearly isn’t over her mother) and potentially funding her college or worse, chipping in for her bail money. I don’t believe that god will be blessing me, or that I’ll be putting a smile on her, or your face. Again I say, wow and I’ll add a daaaaaaamn!
Cheers and stay careful-ish
P.S. Pleeeeeeease feel free to share a bite from a delicious spam dish you’ve received.
Who doesn’t love a good whistler? Me!
First, the lead-in to this rant, harangue, bitch fest, speaking of the truth.
Mr. Parker and I were prepping for one of the how-to webinars we do for broadcast professionals. Periodically, the fine folks at Local Broadcast Sales hire us to speak to their members about things like branding for small business, or ways to jumpstart your ad writing that make the work stand out and connect with the right audience.
In this case, we were speaking about advertising that surprises. And we always use examples, usually from our own work. I had dredged up two surprising ad I had done moons ago, and I was looking for the third in the campaign. (I like threes.)
So I was going through my bin of old advertising work and photos. It was like tripping and falling down a hill towards NYC advertising memory lane. Good times. Mostly. Then, I found IT. A sign I’d made for my office door that got me into a fair amount of trouble with HR. (Not as much trouble as the time I’d used inter-office mail to send everyone in the company a ballot for a “Most Likely To [FILL IN THE BLANK] At The Company Christmas Party” contest. That was bad.)
The sign was simple: A caricature of a man whistling in one of those “DON’T” warning circles with two words: “No Whistling.” Simple. But not really. Because it was targeted at this one guy, let’s call him, Mr. Whistler.
He was a new hire on the Jaguar account and his office was about five down from mine. Mr. Whistler would stroll the halls whistling. And not real tunes. It was more of a freestyle, contemporary-jazz whistle thing.
For the record, I’m a life-long whistling hater. I understand whistling for your dog, or to get your friend’s attention from across a crowded New York City street, or to… Nope. I can’t think of a third reason.
I don’t even like when people whistle their support of the band after a song. (Which Mr. Parker does and I hate but he doesn’t care and he does it anyway. Or maybe he didn’t know. But now he does, since he edits this newsletter. Let’s see how he plays it in the future.) I also don’t like the whistling for a sports team after a great play. It hurts my ears. I’m nobody’s delicate flower. (I’m more of a hard plastic Ficus.) But that pitch is painful. And loud. It slices through my skull like a giant chef’s knife. If you need to make a non-clapping sound, might I suggest the time-honored, “Woo-hoo!”
But worse than appreciation whistlers are those with zero self-awareness who trot around in public, whistling a random tune—or more accurately, a non-tune. You’ve seen (heard) them. Just out there in the world, walking down the street, or standing in line at the post office, or seated right behind you at a concert, whistling. Augh!
Why? Why force that on the population? Do you really think other people, complete strangers no less, will enjoy it? Some whistlers must. Why else try to work in all that trill? You know, that thing they do where they try to create a whistle vibrato. It’s often accompanied bit a slight head wobble. (Them getting into it.)
Do they think someone might turn to them and say, “Wow, that’s beautiful! You’re one of the best whistlers I’ve ever heard and I’ve heard a lot. I’m guessing by that whistling that you’re a fascinating person. Could I buy you a cup of coffee and hear your story?”
Are maybe they think they’re going to win the whistling lottery and have a music agent tap them on the shoulder and say, “Dude, that whistle line you were laying down rips. I manage a band that’s just about to break through, but they’re missing one thing and YOU’RE IT! They have a gig in London this weekend at Wembley. How fast can you pack?”
Trust me, Mr. Whistler, that is NEVER going to happen. And I’m not being sexist here. It is ALWAYS the male of the species, like some kind of puffed-up, red-chested nut-sack warbler calling out to the most easily wooed feathered females with an impromptu whistle of “Rock-in’ Robin.”
So, back at the ad agency. When this new office hire started whistling through the halls, I knew I had to act fast. You can’t let a pattern of bad behavior take hold or when you finally speak up the person will retort with something like, “I’ve been hitting you on the head with a hammer for months. Why am I just now hearing that you don’t like it?” So, my genius plan (note: I was in my 20s) was to create a sign that didn’t point a finger directly at this guy. It didn’t say, “Joe Smith, stop polluting the entire office with your pursed-lip, dog-deafening, I-hate-your-face whistling!” No. This was just a generic male caricature (though it did kinda look like him) that could be about anyone. A public service announcement, if you will.
The lady from HR did not see it that way and was asked to take down my sign. I asked her if she enjoyed whistling. She hesitated, looked off, then said, “That’s not the point.” An answer that let me know that her real answer was, “I’m currently looking for a way to fire this idiot without incurring a law suit.”
So, did Mr. Whistler win? I say no. Because I spent the next day casually popping into people’s offices to share idle chit-chat that included lines like, “Can you believe she made me take that down?”
I even stopped by Mr. Whistler’s office. He, of course, played it off and sided with me. “That’s such uptight office bullshit.” He didn’t completely stop whistling. I’m guessing it’s hard to kick the habit cold turkey. Perhaps there are support groups. But the whistling did become a lot less frequent and always stopped outside my office.
For the record, Mr. Whistler and I got along after that. He wasn’t the most socially smooth gent. I’m guessing that one of the reasons he whistled so much was to avoid conversation. And he did provide great entertainment the night he got overserved at the Christmas party and said to the boss, “You know what your problem is…?” So good.
So, I put it to you: whistling, yes or no? And if whistling doesn’t crawl up and down your spine like it does mine, what does?
(NOTE: I didn't even address nose whistlers.)
Cheers and try to stay careful-ish,
We had a genius plan. And by genius, I mean, completely ridiculous.
Mr. Parker was close to maintaining his “elite” Platinum status on Delta. He likes being a Platinum Member. Flexing his Platinum Member helps him frequently find himself getting bumped to first class. And he likes flying first class. So does his wife.
I often say that I don’t need much. I’m not a shopper. I don’t crave things. My indulgences are someone to do my hair, someone to clean my house, and someone to book me a seat in first class.
That bigger, more comfortable seat and slightly better treatment makes such a difference on long flights. It keeps me feeling human-ish. Less like a parcel being loaded by some distracted 19-year-old at FedEx onto one of those tandem tractor-trailers that make freak me out as they meander and weave drunkenly at high-speed along the Interstate. (Note: trucker slang for these snake-dance vehicles is “wiggle-wagons.”)
But I digress. Back to my man’s status. (With Delta, not with me.) He calculated that what he could do to maintain his coveted Platinum status was to book a flight to visit an old friend now living in the Dominican Republic.
“Honey, do you want to take that trip to the DR that we cancelled three years ago?”
Yes, we’d already planned this trip a while back. But at that time, we needed new passports and it was near the end of COVID lockdown. The passport office was moving extra slowly. Even allowing plenty of time, the passports showed no sign of them arriving and time was running out. So Mr. Parker cancelled the trip. Clicking the “cancel” button was a clear signal to the universe to have our new passports delivered 90 minutes later. Oh, well.
So, we set the Platinum-status rescue operation in swing, and seized the opportunity to travel someplace new. (New to us. Dominican Republic-ites have been enjoying it for centuries.)
Here was the snag. To earn the required points, we’d have to book first-class tickets. Okay. But—and it’s a big but (something I typically try to avoid)—the only flight out of the U.S. to our destination airport left from JFK. The layover in New York would be eight hours—and five of those hours would be overnight while the creature-comfy, liquor-pouring, snack-filled Delta SkyClub would be closed. Ugh.
So, the question: do we get a room for the layover or just stay in the airport? If we get a room, we’d have about an hour to get off the plane and to the hotel. Then an hour to shower and travel back to the airport. Plus, we’d need to be there two hours before the flight. So, four hours in a hotel to attempt sleeping. The cost of all this would be anywhere from three to four hundred dollars. Five hundred if we actually like ourselves.
One time, we had a similar situation in Albany. We'd opted for the hotel. [LOUD BUZZER SOUND GOES HERE] We picked wrong. The full-on skeeviness of our room was so off-putting that we didn’t even want to pull down the bedding. We cautiously laid atop the bedspread in our ski jackets, looked at each other, and said, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Nope. Not this time. This time, we were just going to wait it out in the airport. Hell, I can tough out five hours of rough living between my first-class flight and my Delta SkyClub time, right?
Have you ever spent the night in an airport?
Allow me to enlighten you.
Our plan was to walk our carry-on bags to a spot that was SkyClub adjacent. That way, when the clock struck 4:50AM and the club opened, we’d be right there.
After our inflight dinner of mediocre mushroom ravioli in a mild-mannered mystery sauce, we’d be well sated. I would also grab a bottle of water as we de-planed. (I use the word “de-plane” specifically to irk Mr. Parker. Looking for a good time? Use the word “de-plane” with Blaine and enjoy the ensuing rant.)
So, with surprisingly decent mushroom-stuffed, ravioli in our bellies and a bottle of water in my hand, we made our way from our arrival gate along three people-movers to the Delta SkyClub and parked ourselves just beyond it.
An empty airport is a surprisingly noisy place. We seemed to have picked the very spot where the overnight employees gather on their breaks. Did I care? Not sure. After about twenty minutes of conversations by strangers in a variety of languages, I was sure. I cared.
We picked up our bags and hauled them to a seating area on the other side of the SkyClub. Nobody there was talking because nobody was there...at all. Just a vast concourse of empty seats all the way to the closed Dunkin' Donuts.
Of coures, there were random bells ringing. And periodic, robotic announcements about not smoking on the premises. And some guy driving a floor-cleaning vehicle that whooshed as it went past. The machine looked like a miniature Zamboni. (Would that make it a Zambonini? Or a Zambonita?) The zambie driving it had a blank look on his face and no discernable plan to his path. Just some undead guy thinking of nothing as he drove nowhere.
Fine. This was our spot. Tired and with no conversation in us, we stared at each other for a good 10 minutes. Then, the skeptical optimist in me wondered if I could find a position of repose in which to sleep.
There was no way I’d stretch out on the floor.
Why? Take a moment. Think of all the things that could be living in or just recently died in that heavily-trafficked, industrial-strength carpet in the gate areas at JFK.
You now have your answer.
But stretching out on the seats was a challenge. The seats are in long rows with fixed aluminum armrests between each seat.
So the question: could I balance myself up against the metal armrests on the front edge of the seats and close my eyes without falling off.
The answer: Yes.
I removed my outer shirt and balled it up on the seat like a pillow. But really, it was to protect my face from the parade of asses whose cheeks had been compressed on this very spot over the years. (Just thinking about it makes me want to take a shower.)
I laid my head on my shirt, closed my eyes, and waited for the cacophony of airport noises to harmonize into a bizzaro bedtime lullaby. It was working-ish. My brain was hovering between relaxation and actual sleep. But one of the armrests began digging into my ankle. I got up, looked over to see that Mr. Parker had his eyes closed, then laid back down on my other side.
This time, the JFK late-night lullaby did its job. I was out—until…
Why am I hearing some fool taking a call on speaker?
My hope was that it would end quickly. If I didn’t open my eyes, maybe the sleep spell wouldn’t be broken. I could drift back to a dreamland where money and calories have no meaning. (Oh yeah, and world peace.)
But the conversation didn’t stop. Finally, I picked my head up and looked to see who was polluting my chance for sleep with their meaningless chatter. What I saw was a man lying on the ground. First? Eew. Second? He had his phone plugged into the wall by his head, and the device on speaker, presumably so he could relax without holding it.
Are you f*cking kidding me?
This airport is huge. There are outlets everywhere! And this clown (I’m being polite) opts to set up his bad-audio camp up next to two people who are clearly asleep. He had one arm over his eyes, I'm guessing to avoid the daggers I was shooting at him from my own eyes. He clearly knew he woke us up, because he was trying to speak quietly—an effort that was irrelevant because the person yelling at him from the other end of the call didn’t know to give a shit.
I looked at Mr. Parker. “Should we move?”
“Let’s get out of here.”
We grabbed our bags and started to leave. But not before Mr. Parker turned to my now least favorite person in the world, yanked his phone charging cord out of the wall, and said, “A hundred bucks and you can have it back.”
How great would that have been?
No, he didn’t grab the phone. What he said was, “You had an entire empty airport and you had go hunt down the only two people who were asleep?”
We went around the corner, waited the two hours that were left, then rejoined the land of glamorous living in the Delta SkyClub. Starbucks SkyClub Coffee fresh from Ethiopia, a SkyClub croissant probably jetted in from Paris, and SkyClub fruit flown in from the farthest reaches of Fruit-topia. I went to the SkyClub Women’s Washateria, splashed water on my face, and started to feel human-ish.
Once aboard and belted into my extra-comfy First Class Delta SkySeat, waiting to begin winged to the DR, we had plenty of time to reevaluate the choice to spend the night in JFK.
That’s because before we could take off, a sick passenger needed to return to the gate. We waited two hours for that and other random silliness, like fixing a non-functioning SkyChat radio and replenishing the SkyFuel after two hours of running the engines to travel SkyNowhere..
Then, after we finally landed in paradise, yet another sick passenger to be taken off the plane by paramedics. (Red flag?) The Delta SkyStaffers instructed us to refrain from deplaning (yes, I said it again) until that maneuver was completed. That was another 30 SkyMinutes.
Bottom line: I’m never spending the night in JFK ever again. (Except on the way home seven days from now.)
Got any airport or inflight SkyDrama of your own? Feel free to share it by clicking the “reply” button.
Cheers and stay Careful-ish,
WARNING! This blog post may be controversial. I know this could pit holiday purists who say things like, “Don’t put your Christmas lights up before I’ve had a chance to choke down Aunt Deedee’s dry Thanksgiving turkey” against those who say, “But I love Halloween and need to put out my skeleton family walking their skeleton dog in August.”
I’m willing to stand up for what is right and say, “Chill, bitches!”
When it’s mid-September and you already have all your giant inflatable spiders out, I feel like you’re wishing my life away. Just stop it! You’re pre-celebrating at everyone else’s expense!
Side Note: When did all holiday décor become inflatable? Last year, walking through the neighborhood, we passed a front yard filled with deflated reindeer. It looked like the aftermath of a Christmas Eve massacre.
Please know, this is not me saying, “Bah, humbug!” I love the holidays. But it would be nice to not feel as if we’re all rushing through September and October to get to the juicy stuff.
Let’s start with Halloween, since it’s the gateway to the Holiday corridor. Halloween has become huge. Originally a one-night, pagan event started by the Celts, it’s now celebrated in countries worldwide. And it’s the second biggest commercial holiday in the United States. Sherry Kuehl, writing in the Kansas City Star says, “According to the National Retail Federation, last year more than $10 billion was spent on costumes, decorations and, of course, 5-pound bags of snack-size Snickers bars.”
Here in the U.S., Halloween has also been mashed up with Day of the Dead. You need to know that Mexico’s Día de Muertos is not Halloween. It’s a beautiful holiday honoring loved ones who’ve passed, keeping them alive in our hearts and welcoming them back home with love and a sense of humor. Halloween had similar roots here. But Americans have an uncanny ability to commercialize the beauty and sentiment right out of a spiritual celebration, turning it into cheap kitsch. (Not that I don’t own plastic fangs.)
While I don’t go as over-the-top as some, I do enjoy the creative pageantry of Halloween. When I lived in NYC, the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village was a must. Imagine a sea of smart, interested and interesting people, many with access to professional costume designers. Then, in Park City Utah, I found guilty pleasure in the annual Halloween Dog Parade. Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, if you’re not up for a good golf cart parade with all-out commitment to themes ranging from Beetlejuice to the Flintstones, and people throwing Mardi-Gras beads and cheap chocolate, I don’t want to know you.
But, but, but—when you start putting all that shit up before Labor Day, I say No. The agreed-upon line for pre-holiday decorating should be, at most, a month out. And that’s me bending.
Thanksgiving is the holiday where we look forward to being with family and simultaneously cringe at the thought of being with family. This holiday gets a little less pre-play than the other biggies. Maybe that’s because it’s sandwiched in the middle of the two bahemouths. Right between folks deflating their bleeding snowmen and inflating their politically-correct little people in red lederhosen. Still, I saw my first giant inflatable Turkey on October 5th. I call fowl! (Yes. I went there.)
Side Note: I’m against any animated versions of anthropomorphized cartoon animals joyfully inviting me to devour them. The message is too conflicting. “I’m delicious. Make my day by ending my life.” (StarKist’s Charlie The Tuna could be the poster boy for this cause.)
The mac daddy of all holidays in the U.S. is, of course, Christmas. In my purist universe, New York City got it right. At the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, after all the bands and giant balloons of Spiderman and Snoopy, comes Santa on his sleigh saying, “I gave Thanksgiving its due. It’s had its time in the spotlight. And now, what you’ve all been waiting for...” Santa is a gentleman. That is, until he hits the egg nog too hard. Then, all bets are off and someone’s waking up with a soiled fake beard as their park-bench pillow.
Sudden Revelation: Could the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade be the impetus for the explosion of inflatable lawn decorations? Hm.
But not everyone takes their cue from Macy’s Santa. We’ve barely choked down our pumpkin-spice hot-dogs when some guy with reindeer horns is on TV trying to sell us tires. “Ever wonder how Santa’s sleigh gets good traction on snow-covered roofs?” The Christmas ads now start in September, when the back-to-school ads are still running. Backpacks, binders, eggnog and Blitzen.
Side Note #3: Homemade eggnog lasts 2-3 days if stored at 40 degrees or less. Store-bought eggnog lasts 5-7 days within opening if it has been refrigerated. Canned eggnog lasts 4 to 5 months and around 5-7 days after opening. Safety first!
When proprietors start playing Christmas music in their stores and I’ve yet to enjoy the annual Thanksgiving “homemade vs. canned” cranberry sauce argument, I walk out. (BTW, just put out both kinds of sauce.) Life is short enough as it is. I don’t want to rush things. I’d like to be free to slow down and relish as much of it as possible.
We’ve all heard people say, “Wow, this year flew by.” We may have even said it ourselves. Why? I contend it’s because you’re planning out your sexy cat costume in April. Isn’t there something that’s actually happening in April that you could be enjoying?
Prevailing wisdom says that we should try to live in the moment. Be present in our lives. Focus on what’s happening now. Feel it. Be in it. Stop worrying about things that haven’t yet and may not happen. How can we be present when we’re planning who shouldn’t sit next to whom at the Christmas dinner table in May? And how can we truly enjoy the holiday we’re in when we’re already celebrating the next one?
Yes, there is value in the fun of anticipating. But anticipation is allowed to be fleeting. It doesn’t need to be in the form of lawn ornaments that force your neighbors to leap months ahead.
So I’m asking nicely. Please allow me and the rest of us to enjoy today without pushing next month on us. And if you just can’t face September without fake cadavers and god-forbid “candy corn,” maybe you could limit yourself to putting them out inside your home, and have them seep onto the lawn until October.
Tangential pet peeve: Black Friday. It feels more like we now black out the entire month of November for people begging us to buy something. On Amazon, Black Friday starts weeks before Thanksgiving. And, of course, there’s Cyber Monday and now, Cyber Week. As someone who is shopping-averse, I do not get the mania. The thrill of the hunt? I’d rather watch my three-year-old TV while wearing my 12-year-old jeans and 10-year-old T-shirt. (Let’s not get into how old my underwear is.)
So readers, do you jump the season or wait to celebrate? I’m curious to know where you land on this one.
Cheers, happy holidays and stay careful-sh,
Buckle up. We’re about to dance on the edge of TMI.
I promise to do my best to not get too intimate and present pictures you can’t unsee. But there are lessons to be learned here.
The topic is underwear. I was never one to care a lot about fancy or sexy underwear. Just not that kind of gal. My rules for underwear were simple:
1) Don’t bind.
3) Don’t peek out of my jeans. (Apparently, I broke that rule just yesterday as I put my carry-on luggage into the overhead. All apologies to Delta passengers flying from New Orleans to Boston.)
A million years ago, when I was doing standup, I had a set about ladies’ underwear. The premise was that underwear is classified based on size. Tiny little size-2 women wear panties. Panties are cute and sexy and lacy and let you speak in a little baby voice when you think it’ll help you get what you want. Mid-size gals like me don’t get to enjoy all the perks of panties. No high voices for us. We wear undies. Undies are much more utilitarian. You can play basketball or throw the discus in undies. (Two things I’ve done.) They do come in a variety of colors, so we have that. And anyone who shops in the plus-size section is forced to purchase plain ol’ underwear. No cute voices. No rainbow colors. Underwear has elastic made from old bungee cords and the fabric is unmilled cotton from Russia. Deal with it.
Side Note: That stand-up bit was years ago. Since then, Victoria’s secret is that she’s stopped being an exclusionary bitch and now wraps her arms around all of us. Women of all sizes now get a variety of fun, sexy choices. (I still don’t pick them. I still don’t speak in a baby voice.)
I never had a problem being in the undies category. It’s who I am. I never felt like sexy panties would change anything in my romantic life. My theory: If your partner needs to see you in sexy panties to remind them to take advantage of how your parts work, maybe you should just keep watching Jeopardy.
Perhaps I should confab with Mr. Parker on this? Well… Eh. Why?
But as I go through life, I’ve needed to add a rule or two to my undies requirements. The first addition came back in high school. I used to get dressed in the dark. Why? I took the early bus to school because I played sports. (As previously noted: Utilitarian undies can play sports.) I also shared a bedroom with my sister, who didn’t take the early bus, and I didn’t want to wake her up. Getting dressed in the dark was no big deal, but one morning I broke from my jeans tradition and chose white linen pants. I still don’t know why. So, I grabbed white undies, pulled on the pants, and went on my way. (Note: I did not scamper on my way. Scampering requires panties.)
By halfway through the school day I was noticing that people behind me were laughing. No idea why. Finally, I went into the girls’ room and looked at my backside in the mirror. There was my answer: visible through the white linen pants in thick navy letters across my undies were the words, “Bottoms Up.” That begat rule #4: No words on my undies. My ass is not a bumper-sticker.
So, four rules. Fine. But I recently realized that my standards have slipped significantly. Here’s what happened. It was time. I needed more undies and happened to be in a Walmart. (No hating.) I honestly don’t remember why we were there. Mr. Parker no doubt needed to buy some thing to fix a thing so he could make a thing. As I wandered the aisles, I passed packages of undies. Ten pair for 15 bucks. I thought, Dare I? They were solid colors. Not nice solid colors. Sad solid colors. Colors that likely had trade names like Band-Aids and Broken Dreams. But who was going to see them? Mr. Parker? Screw it. He signed the contract years ago.
The next decision was style. Bikinis or briefs? Hmm. Bikini sounded like they might be treading dangerously close to panty-shaped. What did “briefs” mean? I wasn’t looking for something underwear-size. But brief sounds…undie-ish? Not too big, right? I threw caution and 15 dollars to the wind.
When I got home and opened the package of briefs, I selected a color from the rainbow of disappointment. Let’s call that color Spilt Tea. Pulling them on, I saw there was nothing brief about them. Oooh, no. They just kept rising up. Past my navel, above the rib cage, approaching the boobs. If I put arm holes in them and hunched over, I’d have a bathing suit. Oh my shit!
Still…If I folded them over so they didn’t rise up and out of my jeans, it would be fine, right? I mean: 15 dollars.
Flash forward and we were visiting friends for a long stretch. Long enough that I needed to do a load of laundry while we were there. No problem. But the next day, my host came to my room. “You left underwear in the dryer. Here.”
Oh, shit. Panic. My mind raced. She said, “Underwear,” not “Undies.” I started praying, Please let it just be the pair with the holes. Not the Walmart Mega Briefs. Please, God. Not the Walmart Sad Sacks.
I need to back up. I had made another rule the last time we moved. My plan was to throw out anything with a hole in it. Start fresh. So, rule #5: No holes. I broke that rule immediately.
Back to panic at my friend’s house. The pair she’d found was not from the Walmart Misery Collection and it had no holes. Just a pair of lime-green undies. No harm, no foul. No having to think about the conversations my friend would be having with her husband about my sad secret life as a toothless grandmother on Skid Row.
I’ve now revised my list of undie requirements. Deleting all previous rules, I’ve whittled it down to one:
1) Have some damn dignity.
Turns out my dignity costs more than fifteen dollars. So I ask you, panties, undies or underwear? Do you have rules? Do you keep a clean pair in your purse, just in case?
Cheers and stay careful-ish,
Here’s my bottom line:
I just can’t express the complexity of how I feel about your dead dog with a simple [Crying Emoji]. Or any of the other six Facebook emoji options. Or, the one Instagram heart option. And I’m never using LinkedIn’s purple hand with a heart rising from it.
Because it’s almost never that simple.
You may have gone on to say that on the same day your dog died [Cry Emoji], you finally landed that great new job [Thumbs Up Emoji], which was right after your partner said your mother-in-law would be moving in [Mad Emoji], but that you kinda felt obligated to say okay because she’s recovering from chemo. [Caring Emoji]
I’ve been struggling with this for some time. We now live in a shorthand world. Someone shares what’s happening in their life and we—not wanting to slow our roll but wanting to acknowledge them in some way—click a quick emoji onto their pain or success.
But life is messy. So where are the messy emojis?
Where are the emojis that say, “I’m truly sorry your basement flooded but seeing your hamsters floating by on the laundry basket was kinda funny, even if you can’t focus on that while looking at your wallet-draining plumber’s bill.”
Or the emoji for, “I’m glad you’re happy to be back with Brad, but we all know that in a few short weeks we’ll be raising a glass to you for kicking him out…again.”
I’m often confused as to how to respond to someone’s sad story. If I use a [Heart Emoji], will they think I love their plight? If I use a [Care Emoji], will they think I’m being melodramatic?
Then there are the times when a friend makes an attempt at humor and totally misses the mark. Do I click a supportive [Laugh Emoji] and move on? Will someone see it and think, “That’s what Honey now deems to be humor? I expected more. [Shame Emoji]”
What if someone already wished Elaine a happy birthday with a [Balloon Emoji]? If I also say, “Happy birthday [Balloon Emoji],” I worry that I’ll look unoriginal and lazy. Which, of course I am if I’m using an emoji. That is, unless Elaine just got a boob job and I post nothing but [Two Balloon Emojis]. Now that’s thoughtful post.
Because again, we don’t want to get too involved. So we pick the closest emoji and move on.
Or we grab some combo of previously agreed upon initials like, BUMP (Bring Up My Post) that really say, “Here’s what I’m thinking, but I don’t deem you worth the time to actually spell it out.”
And, when I’m on the receiving end, I don’t always know what someone’s shorthand pile of letters mean. So, I waste my time deciphering their response that only took them two seconds to bang out so they can move on to their next friend who’s posting about pinkeye and a new poodle.
Now I’m left killing ten minutes figuring out that AFK meant, Away From Keyboard. Really? Are you? Then what did you type AFK on?
I’ve learned that BOLO is “Be On The Lookout.” BEG means you have a Big Evil Grin (Note: If you’re a friend of mine, I just assume you have a BEG). NOYB is None Of Your Business, which I don’t really appreciate. I’m not nosy. If I ask, it’s because I care. You’re welcome. I learned from my nephew that POS means Parents Over Shoulder. And that SMH is short for my constant state of being, Shaking My Head. Please know that any time I click an emoji I’m also SMH. Read into that what you will.
But we don’t all come to the same conclusions on the meanings and those handfuls of letters, and that can get us into a jam.
Even LOL can be misconstrued. Case in point, the friend of a friend’s mother. She’s a woman of a certain age, and all her life, LOL had meant Lots Of Love. Most people now use it as shorthand for Laughing Out Loud. So, here’s this woman typing LOL any time her friends speak of an aunt that just passed, a dog that fell into a well, or a a diagnoses of prostate cancer. While prostate cancer is highly survivable, do you really want to be LOL’ing?
“Sorry to hear about Grandpa Joe’s knee replacement surgery. But they can do wonders with prosthetics these days. LOL!”
“Really? Well FUOL!” (F*ck You Out Loud)
Have we all forgotten how to use our words? Or are we just so busy that a yellow circle with a winky eye is good enough? New house? [Wink Emoji] Survived a car wreck? [Wink Emoji] Met your long-lost brother after thinking you were an only child? [Two Wink Emojis + SMH]
I myself am totally guilty of the “Look at me being a good friend” by giving you a shorthanded response.
But, I won’t just [Care Emoji] something heavy. Particularly if it’s about someone passing. I always try to take a moment and say something. Not a platitude, but something about the person. Like:
“I’m [Brain Emoji] of you in your [Clock Emoji] of [Tear Emoji]. Please know I’ll always remember that [Clock Emoji] at the [Beach Emoji] when Martha made me [Laugh Emoji] so hard that [Milk Emoji] came out my [Nose Emoji]. SMH. [Three Heart Emojis]”
I leave you with this. I was talking to Mr. Parker about all things emoji and LOL, and he mentioned the LOLcats. What are LOLcats, you ask? It simply stands for LOL Cat. (And no, not Lots Of Love.) Do a search on LOLcat, and the memes look like this:
Cheers and stay careful-ish,
P.S. Please emoji me your response to this post. [Heart Emoji] [Praying Hands Emoji]
Lately I’m learning a lot about myself.
More specifically, I’m learning how I look to the marketing algorithms in social media. And it’s far from flattering.
I’d already been thinking about all the ads I get served repeatedly. What do they say about me? About my age, weight, gender? About my socio-economic status and my phobias?
Let’s imagine that I didn’t have a big ego. (It’s hard, I know.) Instead of writing this blog post, I’d likely be booking a therapy session.
The first ad that I noticed I was seeing with too much frequency is for FreeBird boots and shoes. This one didn’t trouble me. I’d found the boots years ago. And while I’ve never bought a pair, I did like their unusual style. And every time they have a sale, I consider breaking down and making a purchase. Score a point for the algorithms.
The next two ads are much more concerning.
The first is for Wall Pilates. What does Wall Pilates say about me? A) Social Media thinks I’m out of shape. B) It doesn’t think I can afford to pay for a bougie Pilates class in a fancy studio. Are either of those things correct? Let’s move on.
The other ads I kept seeing are for [insert drum roll here] stool softeners! And not just the products. Did you know there’s actually a category for stool softener coaching? Me neither.
What is stool softener coaching? I got served a video with a nice lady very matter-of-factly sharing instructions on the best body position to “make things happen.”
But there’s more. Without getting too graphic, she shared choice tips like, making a “Moo” sound while pushing can help. No shit. (Yeah, I went there.) Clearly the internet thinks I’m all backed up. Or at least I’m at the age where I might be hangin’ with Jamie Lee Curtis talking about “yogurt.” Again, let’s move on.
About a week ago, I was visiting with my niece, a great young woman in her mid-20s. She’d said something that made me think about this topic.
Me: “What ads do you get served on social?”
Her: (Thinking) “Plushees, glitter goo, bird-related items [she’s a big fan of ornithology], and underwear.”
Me: “Gee, I get served ads for underwear.” (Pretty sure I didn’t actually use the word, “Gee.”)
But while she was getting served ads for cute, little camisoles with matching panties that display fun and sexy designs, I was getting ads for bras in battleship gray that helped in the fight to keep your back meat from bulging out your armholes.
Trying to console me, my niece confided that her undies are rather uncomfortable. All I could say was, “So is my self-image.”
This morning, I asked my husband, the famed Mr. Parker, what ads he gets served on social media. He thought and said, clothes, hats, and boats. That all made sense. He’s a big shopper, loves his hats and has sailed boats across oceans. Three more points for the algorithms.
Wait. He remembered that The Platform Formerly Known As Twitter is sending him ads for A) improving his dog’s behavior, and B) women’s clothing.
For the record, we don’t have a dog. And in over 25 years together, I’ve seen him try on my shoes exactly once. (Alcohol was involved.) Algorithm fail. Unless there’s something I don’t know. Where’s that therapist?
But back to me. (Remember: big ego) The online algorithms clearly see me as a woman of a certain age who’s out of shape, tight for cash, and can’t poop or control her boob-related back meat.
It’s a grim day to be me. But only if I buy into an algorithm-driven view of how best to market to Honey Parker. I do not.
For the record, I am indeed a certain age. What I’m not is a certain expectation of that age. I could always be in better shape but, for the amount of fun I have, I’m doing just fine and all my bills are paid. Lastly, I used the ladies’ room for its intended purpose (today), and my rack and back meat are under control.
Note: I still haven’t bought those boots and now I won’t. (Hello, polarity response.)
Your turn. What ads are the algorithms sending you? Are they getting it right?
Cheers and stay careful-ish,
This is how it goes down...
A call comes in to 911. “My wife is on the floor. I don’t think she’s breathing…No. I just came home and saw her on the kitchen floor.”
Later, at the police station, “I went for a drink with friends after work…I don’t know. An hour, two maybe…Yah, right from the office…Should I be talking to a lawyer?”
Too late. He’s said too much. A security camera at a gas station shows his green Jeep Wrangler going by at 5:23. That’s between the time he was at work and the time he’d met co-workers for drinks.
When he later claims to have misspoken back at the station, and that he’d swung by the house to pick up a fishing lure to show to Ted from accounts payable, he’s asked if he’d talked to his wife while he was in the house. “No, she hadn’t come home from work yet.” But the camera on their Ring device shows his wife getting home at 4:30. Seems there was a power outage at her office and the boss let everyone go early.
His story starts unraveling and the truth finally outs. He’d gone home after work to find his wife there. She was going through his computer and found his porn sites—the one’s he’d promised to stop spending money at. The two got in an argument and she threatened to leave him. She was going to tell everyone and take the kids. He couldn’t let that happen.
Okay, I just made up that scenario. But if you watch true-crime TV, you’ve seen this pattern. A lot.
A crime is committed, the clues mount, the lies are uncovered, and the killer gets caught. And all I can think is, How should they have played it? How could they have gotten away with it? What were their other options?
This is the effect of all the true-crime stories we’re exposed to. The TV shows. The podcasts. The reels. I do watch a fair amount of it. And it’s desensitizing. It all becomes just another puzzle to solve. Something to post. “Hey, I got Wordle in three, and figured out who bludgeoned Alice Smith before the first commercial break.”
I’ve wasted precious time thinking things like: Where would I have disposed of that bloody sock? Or would I have burned it? No. Burning leaves a mark and a smell. Get rid of it. Put it in a bag with dirty diapers. No one wants to search a diaper bag, right? Shit, I don’t have an infant. Who on the block has a baby? No one. Wait. Hold on. The litter box. Crap. I don’t have a cat any more. But Vickie does. Hm.
Now, I know that Mr. Parker will read this and I don’t want to make him too nervous. (Okay, maybe a little uneasy.) But he knows I enjoy my dose of true-crime media, and it’s hard to watch that stuff and not think about the logistics of achieving criminal success.
Look, he’s safe. I know that they always look at the spouse first, so why even? I’m also keenly aware that by writing a blog about how I’d get away with something, I can now never get away with anything.
But a lot of us love playing at true crime. It could be a board game. It should be a board game. True Crime, from Parker Brothers. Tagline: “You’re dying to play.” Or, “Would it kill you to try?” Or, “The only game where losing means hard time.” But, wait. There’s more: True-Crime—Felony Edition. Comes with one call to an actual lawyer.
Pick your game piece from: the bloody hatchet; length of rope; hand-gun with the serial number filed off; plastic bag; vial of poison; or a guy named Bubba in a ski mask. Move your piece around the board. The first person to get past the police, around public opinion, and through their trial to freedom—winner, winner 5-star dinner! But beware the nosy neighbor with insomnia, the jilted lover, and the prosecutor with something to prove. Otherwise, you could end up going on the lam for three turns. Pull the hung jury card, and you have to start over. The online version even lets you dodge the law in real time.
I do worry that all this true-crime watching may be making potential killers smarter. Have all the law-enforcement secrets been handed out like a what-not-to-do list? I can’t be the only one who now knows to cover my shoes so my sole prints can’t be traced, and not to use a credit card when buying my 5-gallon jug of acid.
There is some solace for me in the fact that I love my husband and I’m pretty sure he loves me. Plus, neither of us could tolerate anyone else’s quirks long enough to cheat. There’s just not a lot of motive. I don’t have gambling debts. I’m not worth millions (yet). Oh, and I’ve never publically shamed anyone on social.
I just watch true-crime TV, devise my well-informed plans, and go to bed with a hatchet under my pillow.
Do you watch true crime? If yes, what have you learned to help you get off the hook. Or, better yet, to not get caught at all?
The game was Battleship. Milton Bradly brought it to market almost 60 years ago, in 1967. Before that, it had been published by different companies dating as far back as the 1930s, as a game played with paper and pencil.
Later, in 1979, Battleship was one of the first games to get produced as a computer game. Flash further forward to 2012, and there was Battleship, the action movie. Distributed by Universal Pictures, it stared Liam Neeson, among others. I mean, really: How do you blow shit up without Liam Neeson?
But I’m drifting away from the point of my upcoming rant.
Recently, I was visiting my brother in the great state of Maryland. He and his wife had recently redecorated their living room. You can see where this is going. No? Well, wait. There’s more.
After going through a wall unit they were getting rid of, they’d come across a stack of old games, one of which was Battleship in its original box.
With a bit of devilish glee, my sister-in-law said, “Honey, you have to see this.” Out came the box. At first, seeing the vintage art made me smile, then…
Oh, my hell!
The illustration on the box lid depicted Dad and Son in their sweater vests and crisp white collars playing the game of Battleship at a dinette. Son calls, “G-4.” Dad holds his head, “It’s a hit!” Oh, the drama of suburbia in the 60s.
But wait. There’s more.
If you look way off in the background, behind dad and son, you can see into the kitchen where mom and daughter are contently washing dishes, happy they’ve freed up time so the males can enjoy a moment of to play. Thus is the way of society and they have fully embraced their Stepford Wife’s (and daughter’s) place in it.
Wow! Think about it. This was only one or two generations ago. How did any young girls grow up to be independent thinkers and pro-active doers?
Am I reading too much into this box lid?
Perhaps. Perhaps dad had made dinner from scratch for the entire family. Perhaps a Thai-Polish fusion thing he’d been wanting to try, with vegetables from his garden that he’d had fermenting for the last three months. Perhaps.
Or maybe dad and son did the dishes the night before while mom and daughter were free to enjoy a game of Global Thermal Nuclear War. Maybe.
But probably not.
I remember back when I was working in New York advertising. One of my accounts was Parker Brothers’ Nerf. This was decades after the creation of the gender prison of the Battleship box. I still had to fight to get girls in on a Nerf gun battle. The thinking? “It’s a toy for boys. They won’t want it if they see girls playing with it.”
Major head shake.
In Milton Bradly’s defense, they changed the Battleship box art three years after its original issue, in 1971. In this version, two clean cut kids, a girl and a boy, play at a table with a plain blue background. Are they at home? In a church? Detention? Some creepy guy’s basement? In this antiseptic version, Girl calls, “G-6.” Boy holds his head, “It’s a hit!”
Virtually the same dialogue as the original box lid, save the “G-4 turning” into “G-6.” Is that a coded message? Does it mean, “Fear not, Girl has already finished the dishes”?
And where are Mom and Dad? Did the sight of his wife with a dish towel make Dad too excited to sit with his son and tiny plastic ships one more second? Is he now launching his own torpedoes? (Yes, I went there.)
So much to be learned from a seemingly innocuous game-box lid. Such a flash from my past with more messages than I’d remembered.
I’m curious: What did you glean from this static moment in the lives of these total strangers from board-game history? I'd love to get your comments.
Cheers and stay careful-ish,
Not that these are necessarily songs where I can’t hit the notes. Maybe I can. Maybe I can’t. That’s not the point.
Perhaps it would be more correct to say: Songs I shouldn’t sing. Or, more more correct: Songs I shouldn't perform.
Here’s how I started down this particular rabbit hole. I was home sick and scrolling through reels on Facebook. I wish I could say that I was scrolling on Instagram. That would be slightly cooler. But I want to keep things real between you and me. So, here I sit, uncool but honest.
I came across a video of a woman in her 20s with a big bass guitar. She had an interesting look and a pastel green bass, so I stopped. Then she started playing Stevie Wonder’s hit song, “I Wish” from Songs In The Key Of Life. It’s about wishing to relive childhood. Super. Love that song.
The woman with the bass began singing, “Looking back on when I was a little nappy headed boy.” I immediately wondered why she didn’t change the words to “...little girl.” I’m 99.9% sure this person was never a little boy. Yes, these things happen. But you’re gonna have to go with me on this one.
It always bothers me when someone covers a song and doesn’t change the obviously incongruous words to fit them. It creates a believability issue and takes me out of the song. When I was in a band (don’t ask and don’t look for videos), I’d always change the words so the song fit me. And not just for the listener. If I was to sing Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire,” I wouldn’t sing, “I'm driving in my car I turn on the radio. I'm pulling you close you just say no. You say you don't like it but girl I know you're a liar…” I’d change it to, “You say you don't like it but BOY I know you're a liar…” How hard is that? Zero percent hard.
SIDE NOTE: I wouldn’t sing that song anyway because it sounds like a true crime podcast waiting to happen. Like the singer is a repeat sex offender forcing themselves on someone who wants out of the car the second the singer’s back is turned. RUN! RUN!!!
Back to Stevie Wonder. I asked myself, How would I sing the song, “I Wish”? First line, “Looking back on when I was a little nappy headed boy.” So, nappy? Doesn’t seem to fit for a little white girl. I would change that to, fuzzy. As a kid, I had zero interest in how I looked. My long curly hair was often unbrushed and in the humidity of a northeast summer, “fuzzy” is a kind word for how it looked. So, first line, “Looking back on when I was a little fuzzy headed girl.” That works.
Next line. “Then my only worry was for Christmas what would be my toy.” I’m Jewish, so I’ll need another edit. “Then my only worry was for Hanukah, what would be my toy.” It adds an extra syllable, so I sang it several times to figure out the best way to squeeze “Hanukah” in there as smoothly as possible. A little funky, but fine.
Moving on. “Even though we sometimes would not get a thing…” Here we have a real problem. There was never a time when we wouldn’t get something for Hanukah. Never. I remember one year, my mother was totally over trying to come up with eight days of gifts for three kids. (If you didn’t know, Hanukah lasts eight days and little kids often get a gift each night.)
That year she decided to take a left turn. On the first night of Hanukah, we were each presented with a basket containing eight envelopes that had our names written on them. In each envelope was money. Every night, we’d pick one of our envelopes to open and see how much was in it. It might be a five dollar bill. It might be a ten. I think the biggest envelope had fifty dollars in it. (Don’t quote me on that.)
Basically, my mom had turned Hanukah into a gameshow. And even though we all knew that the total amount we got at the end of the eight days wouldn’t change based on what order we opened our envelopes in, it was suspenseful and exciting. Looking back on it, I believe my mom’s idea was genius.
But it left me with a problem. How to change that line of the song? “Even though we sometimes would not get a thing…” Hmm. “Even though we sometimes, wouldn’t get OUR thing?” Meaning, not what we had wished for. But I don’t think I love that solution. It makes us sound, ungrateful. Maybe, “Even though we sometimes, didn’t want to sing?” No. We never sang the one and only Hanukah song we knew. How about, “It was always hard to wait, for the opening?” Maybe. What kid doesn’t have a hard time waiting to open a wrapped present? (Or a mystery envelope full of an unknown amount of cash.) I’m going with it.
Next line. “We were happy with the joy the day would bring.” We just hit a hard stop. Why? Jews just aren’t that happy. My family usually ended up arguing at Hanukah, and every other holiday. It’s how we communicated.
And if there was nothing new to argue about, someone would bring up some slight from five or ten years earlier. Something like, “Remember? We were just sitting there at the table waiting for your family to show up. Waiting and waiting and the brisket got so dry. It was like the Sahara. Remember? Then that damn brisket strand got caught in my teeth and I had to floss it out and I lost a crown. Remember? And what dentist is going to see you on a Friday night? Do you remember that?”
Full disclosure, that is not an actual story from my youth. But every true story I thought of had the potential of getting one of my relatives upset all over again and I just don’t want to take the chance of starting a “thing.”
So, what did that leave me with for lyrics? My version of “I Wish” is now:
Looking back on when I was a little fuzzy headed girl
And my only worry, was for Hanukah what would be my toy
It was always hard to wait, for the opening
And we were always irritable, cause that’s a Jewish thing
Bottom line, I just shouldn’t sing that song. It would be a lie. A big one. There is no amount of word changing that would make that song fit the true narrative of my life. And if I did change it to fit my life, I could only perform it in the Catskills.
Now that you know how the game is played, what song should you never perform?
Cheers and stay carful-ish,
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.