Is there anything worse than waiting for the person in front of you to buy lottery tickets?

Especially when you’re in a hurry which, due to some unnamed but  Universal Law, is the only time the person in front of you will ever need to buy lottery tickets.

At 7:03 this morning I ran to the gas station to grab the milk I forgot to buy yesterday and the newspaper I decided to buy today.  I needed to hurry back home before the inevitable, early morning Big-Fight-Between-Ethan-And-Anybody-Else broke out.  But without milk, there would be no cereal, so I decided to make a superquick run.  There and back in eight minutes; I promised myself.

I pulled into the little parking lot, hopped out of the car, and bee-lined for the milk and newspaper. (I generally make a big production of going through the ads, circling the best deals with a sharpie, and then throwing the whole paper–ads included–into the trash.  Feels good just knowing that I could have saved money out there.)  Clumsily balancing my two gallons of painfully heavy ice-cold milk, I headed directly to the cashier, glancing at the clock over the cigarrettes and noting with satisfaction that I had been gone less than four minutes so far.  I was about to drop my two gallons of painfully heavy ice-cold milk onto the counter when a bearded, barrel-chested, coarse-skinned man stepped out of nowhere and helped himself to my place in line.  And for the record:  I know he saw me about to drop my two gallons of painfully heavy ice-cold milk onto the counter.  So much for chivalry.  (Maybe it was because I was still in my baggy workout shorts from 1995.  Navy blue with a white Addidas stripe down the side.  Could I blame him?)

So I waited patiently in line, my hands cramping up from the painfully heavy two gallons of ice-cold milk, while this gentlemen (who should not have been) ahead of me paid for his coffee.  At least this’ll be quick, I thought.  I then noticed that the man’s head was bent over the glass counter.  He was peering intently, as though looking for something beneath the surface.  What’s he doing?  I thought anxiously.  I’ve gotta get home!  I glanced up at the clock.  7:15.  Shoot.  I then heard the words crawl out of his furry mouth, slow as molasses:

“I’ll take a scratch ticket, a powerball, and hmmm….let’s see…”

Oh no. I think.  Please no.

“How’s your lotto paying out this week, Stacy?”  The blond, middle-aged cashier (read: about my age but I swear she’s a decade older because there’s no way that I’m middle-aged) smiled back at him lazily, as though they’d had this conversation before.

“Oh, you know…same as usual.  It’s been alright…”  Creamy beads of milk-sweat were starting to trickle down my fingers.  I rested the gallon precariously against my (unfortunately) bare thigh. Yikes, that’s cold!  And it was now 7:18.  The man (who should not have been) ahead of me rambled on distractedly:

“Hmm…you wouldn’t hold out on me now, would you?”  He chuckled through his beard as the cashier batted her heavily-coated lashes.

“On you, Stu?  Never.”

“Oh, I know you’re all mad that I made that twenty bucks off you last week…”  A grin and wink toward the lady, with a bat of the eyelashes back at the man.  What was going on between Stacy and Stu?  I found myself lost for a moment in the chemistry.

The romantic fog cleared, however, as my eye caught the clock over the cigarettes clicking to 7:20.  Geez!  How long had I been listening to this banter?  Were they kidding?  Now, Stu was a customer, so I’ll cut him some slack for obviously having absolutely nothing else to do on a Tuesday morning.  But Stacy was an employee–she’s responsible for saving the hinds of frazzled moms like me!  She knows that Frazzled Moms Like Me pay for convenience at this store, and we pay big.  Isn’t it exploitative enough that eggs are three bucks a dozen and a loaf of Wonder runs me $2.89?  And yet I pay it, because I am always-and-forever-in-a-hurry.  But cashing in on mom’s procrastination is evidently no longer turning enough of a profit; now they have to really stick it to the little guy with a built-in casino.  Oh Shell Gas Station, you’ve already hooked us all on Diet Coke and barbequed corn nuts.  Must you dig ever deeper into the pockets of our basest desires?

“Hmm…” Stu repeated, gazing affectionately downward, as though settling on a ring for his fiancee.  “Hmm…”

After about a decade, Stu finally forked over a twenty to purchase three lottery tickets.  I could only shake my head quietly as I thought:  there goes two-thirds of a bottle of Pearatin.  I found myself wondering what Jim did for a living, being able to throw money around like that.  I finally paid for my stuff and sprinted to the car, making a mental note to count running with milk cartons as my cardio and weight training for the day.  My heart sunk as I read the clock on the dashboard:  7:33.  I had long missed the inevitable, early morning Big-Fight-Between-Ethan-And-Anybody-Else.

I burst the front door open with my hip, hands still heavy with the painfully ice-cold milk, to the predictable wails of “Eeethan!  Leave me alooone!  I’m trying to do my haaair!”  followed by alternating screams of anger and joy from said little brother.  I yelled up the stairs, “Kids!  Got the milk!  Come eat!”  I dumped the horrible milk jugs on the counter as relief washed over my stiff fingers.

“That’s okay mom!” Rachael shouted as she came bounding down the stairs.  “We just had Pop Tarts and Tang.”  Great.

“But, do you have any lunch money?” she asked me.  “I’m a little behind.”

“Just a sec.”  I opened my purse and flipped through my wallet to find two one-dollar bills.  Not even enough for a school lunch.

But it would be enough for two powerball tickets.


“Rache, you’ll have to ask Dad.  I gotta run back to the store.”


Why?  Why?  Because some lucky dog’s gonna win it, that’s why.  And just between you and me:  it’s not gonna be Stu.



My stupid mouth…

…has got me in trouble…I’ve said too much again.

This is a catchy John Mayer song, but it always makes me slightly uncomfortable because it hits so close to home.

Do you know me?  Do you know how much I talk?  It’s a problem.

Case In Point:


I came across this old photo, circa 2004.  Looks like dinner at Derrick’s parents’ house. (And for the record, I was doing the whole Meg-Ryan-shag thing at that time, but the humidity in Seaside didn’t cooperate.  Please don’t judge–I’m pretty sure I was actually really hot back then.)

Consider the body language:  I am wide-eyed and tense, apparently driving my well-versed point home.  Derrick slumps in his chair, hands folded defiantly, grimacing and obviously disgusted with whatever it is I’m trying to convince him of.  Basically it’s a photo of what is, to this day, our dinner conversation every night.  Immortalized on film.  Awesome.

I think Derrick’s expression in this picture sums up the way most people feel when subjected to one of my lectures.  When I feel strongly about something, I will talk loudly.  I will talk over you.  I will use hand gestures and biblical references to illustrate extremely important points, like how the re-make of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a tragedy, that high schools should do away with Phys. Ed., and how Mexican pastries never taste as good as they look.  (No offense, Mexico.  But they don’t.)

Which is why, I believe, my husband has “encouraged” me to keep up this blog.  He knows that my obnoxiousness must be channeled somewhere, and better to you, my friends, than to him.  Can I blame him?  Just look at his weathered brow in the picture.  I think the man’s been through enough.  As have my parents, my siblings, all of my friends, my book group (they get the worst of it), my kids (they were hosed at birth) and, most likely, my three faithful readers.

I’m sorry.  I’d like to say, along with John, that I’m never speaking up again…but we all know that would be disingenuous.  I’ll keep speaking up, and my stupid mouth will keep getting me into trouble.  But at least on this blog, you’re spared the hand gestures.  As for the biblical references?  You just wait.  They’re comin’.






Henry James said…

…that “Genius is the act of perceiving similarity among disparate things.”

Not to brag, but I think I’m almost there.  I looked around this weekend and was surprised by the striking commonalities between:

  • My life philosophy and Billy Beane’s Moneyball philosophy.  In sum:   forget superstardom.  Above-average, over time, will be enough.  (And btw, Slow And Steady Wins The Race never looked better than with Brad Pitt at the helm.)
  • Metallic costume jewelry and flat, greasy hair.  Two great looks that look great together.  Believe me–I combined them last Friday night and the results positively shone.
  • My and my brand new steam iron:  shiny (see above), occasionally hot, and committed to wrinkle removal.
  • Our new van payment and my seventh-graders ginormous math homework assignments.   Both leave me anxious, intimidated, and exposed to a dizzying array of terrifying numbers.
  • My wardrobe for the coming winter season and the current selection at Redbox:  nothing, nothing, nothing.
  • Ethan’s short temper lately and my short temper lately.  Wait.  There is no disparity here.
  • Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign and my aspirations to clean out my walk-in closet.  Both are asinine in their objective and mind-numbing in their futility.  Put the nation on a diet or organize my Merona “sweaters” from lightest to darkest?  Take your pick.
  • Sing-Off and my kids’ new favorite fruit leather from Costco:  snappy, sweet, recently discovered, and with just enough substance to go down guilt-free.
  • Waxing my own eyebrows and cleaning out the oven.  I endeavored both last week, and though each challenge was awkward and a bit beyond my skill level, man did it feel good to strip off all the crud in the end.
  • My thirty-eight year-old self and the lemon jell-0 I made Ethan for dessert tonight.  Both are jiggly, set in their ways, and more tart than sweet.  Loved by some but not liked by all.  And never quite able to keep up with black cherry.
  • 9:00 am church and having a baby.  You go into both exhausted and terrified, doubtful that you’ll ever emerge on the other side.  When the ordeal finally passes, you walk away from it with a romanticized memory.  Hobbling out to the car, you naively think to yourself:  That wasn’t so bad.  I could do that again.