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Tuesday, June 12, 2012


After reading an interesting blog by my cousin Amy on an article she found, going back to the days of Donna Reed, I think some of the advice I would give someone getting married, male or female is:

Be kind.  Think before you go off half-cocked.

Remember your manners.  Just because you're married, doesn't mean your good manners go down the toilet.  "Please" and "Thank You" do matter. Why should you treat a stranger with more courtesy than your spouse. Treat him like a gentleman and if you picked the right one (I hope like he** you did) and he will treat you like a lady.  And vice versa for men.

Remember the good stuff, especially when things are difficult.  Contrary to popular belief, good stuff can and does continue to happen.

Hug every day.  Or more. But it should be mutual!  Hugging is big. We don't hug enough in society in general.  If you've always made that connection, it'll come in handy if one of you is really sick or downhearted.

Laugh often. Together. A lot.  If that means you have to sit around and check out "The People Of Walmart" website together, do it.  Don't be ashamed!

My mother used to say (and I'm almost ashamed to admit it but she was right) that marriage is like a yoke of oxen.  You can shuffle along, one might go a little ahead of the other at times, but you basically have to be on the same path.  When you diverge, the yoke breaks.  Different interests? Of course!  But the marriage should be basically on the same path, in the same book.

All the old married couples I've ever talked to say
!) to put him/her first above all others, INCLUDING the kids.
2) Fight fair and make up fair.
3) Don't be afraid to apologize.
4) Never neglect your relationship.
5) Love yourself and caring for someone will be even easier.

Men Things:

As a woman, I've discovered that men do need their weird, little time-capsule space, wind-down thing after coming home.  I don't know why they can't do it on the drive home like any decent woman but they can't.  Accept it, even though it's frustrating as seven hells.  Sounds old-fashioned but it's true.  With both sexes, decompressing is a good thing but with men it seems to be even more necessary.

Don't be afraid to ask for what you want or need. They, alas, aren't mind readers.

When you need him to listen to you, try this. If you say to a guy, "Look, I didn't need you to fix my problem, I just need you to listen, nod occasionally, say 'and what happened then?' here and there so I know you're still awake and hold me if I cry while I talk this out," nine times out of ten he'll actually (even while getting slightly glassy eyed and loopy) do this for you.  Especially if you tell him, "I need 15 (or 20) minutes to rant" and stick to the time limit.  This is crucial and most importantly, fair.  Remember: if a man can't fix, screw it, kill it, BBQ it or break it, he's kind of clueless because most men actually WANT to help you.  His way may be to take a baseball to your boss, which might be a little inappropriate.

Oh, yes, remember: men are clueless.  Some other woman can be all over your husband waggling her boobs in his face and nine times out of ten, he'll be Clueless Charley at the cocktail party.  This has happened to me quite a bit.  You'll know what's up, so just get on that chick's case.  It can be as subtle as a raised eyebrow. You know, she knows, and she'll know that you know. Don't expect him to say, "Oh, that baaaaad woman." Nope.  Won't happen.

Men exist in a different time continuum than women.  I think you have to be pretty specific.  "I would like you to clean up the backyard in a week, please?"  If you just ask them to clean up the yard, you might be waiting for centuries while he watches every sporting event known to man while you're getting more and more pissed off.  Time frames seem to work well.

A "Project" is an excuse to buy another tool. This is the sole purposes of "Projects."

Men are just as gossipy and evil as women.  Maybe even more so. yes, even straight men. Never forget this. And never underestimate that, under the right alignment, they can diss the dirt with you like the cattiest chick you know! It's kind of fun!

That being said... He is a man, you are a woman. That's why you married him.

Women Advice For Men:

If your daddy told you, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," he was right.  But ladies, do be reasonable.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reply To A Plain Dealer Editorial

Re: Mandatory Spay Neuter of Pitbulls
To stigmatize a particular breed of dog is as archaic and offensive as saying a race of people need to be sterilized or worse, exterminated. There is not a single difference. If I may use a historical reference, this sounds positively Hitlerian.
The American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club and dog clubs world-wide as well as veterinary colleges, animals behaviorists and those who study the societal and economic impact of such laws have all denounced these types of laws as incredibly ineffective, costly and in the case of the United States, running close to being unconstitutional.
Who makes the distinction as to what is a "pit bull?" Do you possess this kind of expertise? Time and time again, lay people and dog breed experts have a very hard time picking out the "pit bull" from a pure-bred dog line up.
The only scientific basis are DNA tests and those are not always perfectly accurate. To run DNA tests on all "suspect" dogs would be ridiculously cost prohibitive. And would it just be "pit bulls" or would this run the gamut of American Staffordshire Terriers, Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, Boxers etc.? Any dog with a large square head? Rottweilers? Dobermans? Cane Corsos? Papillons? Where does it stop?
Mandatory spay-neuter laws are costly and ineffective. Rather than spend taxpayers hard-earned money which will only serve to drive backyard breeders into hiding and escalate animal cruelty and neglect cases beyond today's horrific scope, why not provide low-cost spay-neuter programs or better yet, incentives for having a spayed-neutered animals such as lower property taxes? You need responsible pet owners, local kennel clubs, veterinarians, dog trainers and behaviorists, rescue groups to join together to educate the public and provide clinics for low-cost spay-neuter.
If you are going to insist on Mandatory Spay-Neuter Laws, then it should be for ALL dog owners and that has proven time and time again to be an abysmal disaster. Companion animals are never the problem; irresponsible ownership is.
This type of proposed legislation is fear-mongering at its absolute worst and what is even more frightening: it is an intrusion into people's lives and yet another erosion of our civil liberties.
My addendum...not published....
In layman's terms, the woman who proposed this idea for a law is a big ol' scaredy-cat chicken sh*t. 
As Jimmy Cagney said in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, "And that's FOR the record!"

A Memory I'd Rather Not Remember

Saw this on Facebook today and it reminded me of one those painful childhood memories you lock away.  Mostly because you a) grew older and b) you moved away.

One the street to the east of ours in Lakewood, Ohio lived 3 girls that I was friends with in elementary school.  I can't remember their names and it's probably best in the long run. I know where the house is, I can see parts of the interior in my mind's eye still. It was right next to the lake (Lake Erie).  I learned to ride without training wheels in the driveway next to their garage. (To the left.)

I remember they had this really cool surrey with two seats that you pedaled.  This is a more modern version of theirs, but yes, they had a striped top too!  I remember that!  Funny, I can't remember shit from yesterday....The seats were wooden.  The had really great toys, as I recall.  The best F.A.O.  Schwartz had to offer!
Anyway, I digress, as usual.  
I can remember spending nights there and vice versa. I can remember the kitchen layout and that they had a piano.  Not as big as ours and the mom wasn't a concert-level pianist who had performed at Severance Hall as a teenager.  (Insert evil grin here.)

The mom was a Southern Belle; there's no other way to put it.  She was from "Ver-gin-nee-yah" Old Money. (Yes, THAT many syllables! And yes, with a capital M.) She was very proud that she was NOT from Ohio and that her "people" had been in  "Ver-gin-nee-yah" for generations.  I'm sure her husband got transferred much to her chagrin to the "Nawth."  (I think he worked for Union Carbide.) She had a lovely accent and like my mother, always wore dresses.  This was, after all, the early 60s.  Think "Mad Men." I really liked the girls, the middle one was my age.

Now, you must remember that my dad's home office backed up to my bedroom. My dad was a lawyer. My dad swore. A lot. He usually prefaced sentences with "Goddamnit." One word, run together. And "Jesus-s-s H. Christ."  He rarely used the F word but he did say "Crap." quite a bit, and often mumbled under his breath in combo with the other two or often as a whole sentence: "Goddamnit Jesus-s H. Christ Crap!" No commas. I always wondered what the "H" was for. 

So yes, I grew up with hearing cussing and sharing a bathroom.  I saw my parents naked and on the toilet.  We were not allowed to swear (rightly so), but I never knew that "crap" was in the Swearing Lexicon. 

When you are a geeky, gawky, nonathletic, dorky-looking kid with sunglasses and a bit of a vision problem (as I was) you feel like you have to come up with something that might add to your coolness.  Being able to draw does't exactly make you cool with your peers. Most kids start, I think, with cussing.  Especially with older siblings. You heard it, of course. And if your sibs did it, it MUST be cool, right?

My mother didn't swear, maybe an occasional "damn" here and there.  Ladies just didn't.  She left the serious swearing up to my father.  Oh, she could swear; I heard her in later years let go with a blue streak of vicious, cussing invective! Mostly on the phone to Dr. Ben Schneider.  I can't blame her for cussing at Dr. Ben.  He was a cheap-skate, a pompous pain in the ass.  

Yet, I digress.

One day, when I was in second grade, I went over to my friend's house to play.  Her mother, in her shirtwaist dress and pearls, greeted me at the door. I'm sure I said something like, "Can so-and-so come out to play?"  (I seriously can't remember her name. We'll call her Susie.) 

There are few people frostier than a Southern Belle in high aristocratic honk.  I'd rather face a Boston matriarch or the Queen of England any day.  You know they're going to be a bit stiff or stuffy or formal.  But this mother had always been sweet, fun and kind to me.  Not this day. I think that's why I'm suspicious of that whole "honey", sugar-sweet routine to this very day.   

"Ay-yam sorry, honey, but Susie caint play with you," in that sweet, smooth as silk, all-words-run-together upper crust Virginia debutante tone. 

 I'm pretty sure I asked if she was sick. 

"No, she is naught allowed to play-ee with you any-ee moor. Now-ah, ya'all go on hawm."  

My stomach lurched, I felt light-headed. I remember that feeling.  I'm sure I was equally astonished when she (very politely) shut the door in my face.  Naturally, I ran home to my mother, in gulping tears.  She was comforting and she said that she'd see what that was all about but for the meantime, if that's the way they were going to be, I didn't need them, now did I? (Good life lesson.) I felt pretty sure that Mrs. Ver-gin-nee-yah was NO match for Mary Louise.  I still believe that.  It would have been Lady-like Behavior She-Cats at 20 paces and I'd always put my money on Weez.

I questioned Mom later on as Susie had been avoiding me at school.  Not the nasty, pariah avoidance behavior, just more of a shying away.  She wasn't a bad kid, not by any stretch of the imagination.  But in those days, if your parents told you do something or avoid someone, you just did it.  Plus sneaking around wasn't an option. Everybody knew you and you'd get caught. I do recall going over to their house a few months later and Mrs. Ver-gin-nee-yah finally yielded said I should ask my mother and she just didn't want her daughter "associatin' with me."  OK, that's much more harsh then Susie Can't Play.  

When Mom finally leveled with me, I'm sure in retrospect, she must have been humiliated and embarrassed.  Apparently, my cussing with my friends got back to the parents and I was considered (for the first and probably ONLY time in my life) to be a Bad Influence. The Bad Words in question that Mom cited was "Crap" and "Damn." I think my mother felt bad in a wide variety of ways, for me and for herself too. She was honest but not in a nasty way, as I recall and I'm not romantizing it. I can see the room, remember the partly-sunny weather, see the air conditioner in the window, see the tree branches moving in the breeze outside the window, see the open closet door. 

I think that was the beginning of growing up. When you get that slap that makes you realize that you have to learn to play the game of life. You have to gauge your audience and watch yourself; filter and censor yourself if you want to have any chance of meshing and mixing with others. It was my first acting lesson. It's not a bad thing to know.  A Life Lesson.

A few years later, I went back to that house.  We were moving and I wanted to say goodbye. I also wanted to see how uncomfortable I could make Mrs. Ver-gin-nee-yah.  She and I played the Dance of Cordiality and Manners.  I was 12 or so and I had started to learn the life lessons that still have stood me in good stead to this day. That day was a minor triumph for a pre-teen still-gawky girl because she apologized to me for being "unkind" to me.  In that insincere Southern Belle way.  I hope it stuck in her friggin' craw. Susie and I did spend some time together but it was never the same.  It rarely is, trying to resurrect a friendship like that. The unsaid reason for its demise is always there, whispering in the background.  She knew, I knew and she knew that I knew.  Unspoken.  Stilted. 

I am pretty sure about one thing. Somehow my mother, while agreeing with her (probably very correct) veto of my mouth,  got Mrs. Ver-gin-nee-yah back socially.  Weez was very, very good at that game. And we Clevelanders had an aversion to folks thinking just because your name is Hungarian, Italian, German you are Less Than.  Unlike the rarefied air of upper crust Ver-gin-nee-yah, we were a city of immigrants.  Besides that, Mom's pedigree was probably as good if not better than Mrs. Ver-gin-nee-yah. Just without the Old Money part.

The only GREAT thing I can see about getting older is I rarely need that filter.  Truly.  Come on, I'm 58 f---g years old.  Yes, there are certain people I need to watch my mouth around: little kids, people older than I by 15-20 years, people from other lands.  Other than that, I only need the filter of kindness and remembering to take a breath and think. Trust me, I won't embarrass you at the Embassy Ball. Or meeting the Queen! 

This old fox still knows how to play The Game.