Song Lyrics I Got Horribly Wrong #387

Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

…back to the howling old owl in the woods,
humpin’ the horny back toad.

So very wrong.

This will hurt you more than it hurts me.


Have you ever discovered you were totally messing up a song’s lyrics?

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How To Earn The Title: World’s Worst Mother-In-Law


About 25 years ago my mother-in-law, Virginia, and sister-in-law, Jane, asked me to go with them to a taping of a talk show then popular in Chicago, the Jenny Jones Show.   We were put in a holding room where the producers worked us up like cheerleaders at a pep rally before the big game. Once we were all riled up, they announced the heretofore-unknown topic for the show: In-laws you love to hate.   “Do any of you have stories to share?” they asked. “Just between us? (and about 1,000,000 viewers)”

Hands shot up across the crowded room.

I considered volunteering along with the other fame-whores, but my intentions were pure. I would say, “I have no idea what you could POSSIBLY mean – my in-laws are fabulous!” This had little or nothing to do with the fact that, at the time, I was sitting there like the filling in an in-law sandwich. I kept my hand down.

I’ve known a lot of women who act like the Wicked Witch of the West to the person their kid married. They seem to be actively pursuing the title of: World’s Worst Mother-In-Law. If you’re in the running, here’s some practical advice on how to snag the trophy:

1)      Tell her that he’s not good enough
2)      Start every other sentence with, “far be it from me to criticize, but…”
3)      Tell her that her spaghetti is not bad, but it’s not QUITE the way he likes it
4)      Never forgive him for deciding to stay home for major holidays, rather than spending the day in the car, trying to be as fair as Solomon and split the day evenly between the families
5)      Tell him you feel sorry for him because she’s such a lousy housekeeper
6)      Give helpful hints on how she SHOULD be raising your grandkids
7)      Remind them that you told them not to buy that house
8)      Keep track of the time they spend with his family, compare it – to the minute – against the pitiful amount they allot to you, and complain about the difference…loudly
9)      If they have financial troubles, tell her you knew he would never amount to anything

If your goal is, instead, to nab the title of World’s Best Mother-in-Law, the rules are a whole lot simpler:

1)      Be friendly, polite, and make the new member feel like a welcome part of the family
2)      When she does things differently from you (and she will,) when they fight (and they will,) when he make mistakes (and he will,) bite your tongue.   Often.  Until it bleeds.
3)      Remember that your child, who you love more than life itself, picked THIS person above all others. He or she must have some redeeming qualities.

My two girls are neither married, nor significantly other-ised, so you may wonder what qualifies me to comment. I’ve been observing the actions of my own, dear mother-in-law for almost 32 years. Virginia provided the model for the World’s Best Mother-In-Law.   When my turn comes, I hope I can do the job half as graciously as she did.

Love you, Ginny. We are going to miss you more than I can say.


6/25/28 – 7/1/14. Rest in peace.

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Confessions Of A Serial Tweaker


I’m convinced that the secret to good writing is effective rewriting. I’m also convinced that I take it too far.

How I envy the easy, breezy, off-the-cuff writer. That’s not me.  I’m a serial “tweaker.” No, I don’t mean “twerker” à la Miley Cyrus – I’m not that crude. Besides, that kind of movement from this kind of body would just be wrong.   I’m talking about my habit of subjecting any writing project to an endless series of tiny adjustments.

Nothing is ever good enough for me. No piece is ever done.

It may not look it, but my posts result from a painstaking process of drafting, writing, cogitating, rewriting, mulling, rewriting, stewing, more rewriting, on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, world without end, amen.

After all that, it’s off for a final spell check and then, at long last, I’m finished. But I can’t keep my inner tweaker down:

“Maybe that “but” would read better as “however.”” tweak

“Active voice is better than passive.”   tweak, tweak

“Although maybe the point of the paragraph is its very passivity.” untweak

“Still, wouldn’t it best to convey that passivity in an active way?” retweak

The only way I ever get anything posted is to sit my inner tweaker down for a stern lecture, then hit the “Publish” button while she’s distracted.

Rewriting is like making whipped cream.  Whip it too little, and you have an unformed mess. Too much, and you’ve tortured it into unappetizing lumps.  It takes a deft hand to strike the right balance.  To produce appealing confections of light, fluffy prose, you have to whip it good.




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Caution: Funky Stuff Going On Here


Hide the children.   The following is not suitable for younger and more sensitive readers, by which I mean those under 50.

My body is doing some funky stuff. I suspect aging may be involved.

1) Stuff is migrating. Formerly vital parts of my body, front and back, have become snowbirds.  They moved south.  We’d become quite close over the years and I miss them.  My hair is also relocating.   There’s a steady exodus going forth from my scalp to colonize brave, new lands like the chin and the bazoombas.

2) Inside stuff is showing up outside: My circulatory system has been operating behind the scenes my whole life. I’ve appreciated that discretion. Lately, however, it wants attention. Note to self: no need to put veins on the outside of my legs. The fact that I am still with the living is proof enough that the blood is moving.

3) New stuff is being manufactured: My skin has had its moments over the years, but now it’s REALLY getting creative. New bumps, lumps, grooves and splotches are popping up all over the place. The latest additions are neither attractive, nor, as far as I can tell, do they serve any useful purpose.

4) Some stuff is growing. Burgeoning bunions have me looking longingly at orthopedic shoes while desperately clinging to high-heels. My bulging belly is spreading at an alarming rate. I’ve heard that the ears and nose continue to grow, up to and possibly even after death. I haven’t noticed that yet; it gives me something to look forward to.

5) Some stuff is shrinking.  I’m already almost 1/2 inch shorter than I used to be. My lips are shrinking, too, their former pouting lushness morphing to a thin, mean line. If this keeps up I may consider having that fish-lip surgery that’s mandatory for the wealthy and all reality show bimbos over the age of 30.

6) I’ve lost The Night Stuff: I used to be able to dance the night away, close the joint down, go out for breakfast and still be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for work the next day. Now I’m dozing in front of the TV in my sweats before Pat and Vanna flip their first letter.

7) Some foodstuffs are rough. Food and drink once made a smooth, trouble free journey through my body. Now such trips often result in a breakdown at the side of the digestive track, leaving me waiting for a tow truck from AAA (Alimentary Aggravation Abatement.)  ‘Nuff said.

8) Stuff hurts. With the notable exceptions of childbirth and gall bladder attacks, my nerve endings used to be in the business of delivering good news; things like “Oh, baby, yeah, baby…THAT’s the spot!” Now, however, they’re saying, “your parts can’t move like that” and “don’t sleep in that position” and “it’s going to rain.” My nerves are the Whos down in Whoville shouting, “We are here! We are here!”

9) Can’t find stuff.  My brain cells have been abandoning ship at an alarming rate and my memory is shot.   I KNOW I know your name, where I put my car keys, and what I had for dinner last night, but I can’t find that information in my mental filing cabinet.   Important stuff, like world history, is lost forever.

There you have it.  That’s the stuff that’s going on with me.  I had a much longer list when I started this rant, but I can’t remember the rest of it.

Any funky stuff going on with you?


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One Small Step, One Giant Leap… Again

Off she goes, into the wild, blue yonder

Off she goes, into the wild, blue yonder

Nothing makes a parent’s heart melt quite like their baby’s first, tottering steps into the safety of their loving arms.  Enjoy those moments, because as soon as your kids master walking, they start to run – away from you.

When they are babies, we are our children’s entire world.  Then the tentative steps of the toddler lead them to the wonderful, terrifying discovery that the world is much bigger than just Mommy and Daddy.  How much bigger dawns on them when they step into the great unknown of their first classroom.  Life moves forward in leaps and bounds once school starts and your baby’s feet are firmly set on the path of their own destiny.

Time is a juggernaut gaining speed at an alarming rate – junior high, high school, college; up, up and out.

Our 24-year-old daughter, Liz, left for a new job in California 12 days ago, on Mother’s Day.  It’s a wonderful opportunity with a company she loves.  She’s thrilled and we are excited for her.  Yet I realize with a sinking feeling that she is now more than half this big, wide continent away from me.  And it’s not the try-it-on-for-size, I’ll-be-back-home-in-a-couple-of-months move of young adulthood, but the bubble-wrap-the-wine-glasses and call-the-movers move that means it’s for realz.

Our 22-year-old baby, Gwen, graduated from college 5 days ago.   She’s still deciding what her next step will be, but she’s bound and determined that whatever it is, it won’t involve taking up residence in her old bedroom at home.

 My first blog post was about the pain of Gwen leaving for school, and now that leg of her life’s journey is over.   How can that be?   She was a 4-year-old traveling in her cardboard box time machine barely a day ago.  Last summer I lamented as I put her on a plane to England for a semester abroad.  Now she’s talking about getting a job playing the drums on a cruise ship.  Good God, what’s next? Will I be waving goodbye tomorrow as she boards the space shuttle?

My husband and I have raised two girls into young women who are our pride and joy.  Now they are taking giant leaps forward into their own brave, new worlds.  They strike out full of confidence and bright, shining dreams for their futures.  I am so proud.

It’s every parent’s hope that their children will be able to stand on their own, two feet.  But it’s the ironic truth that if you do your job right, they’ll use those feet to walk away from you.  That’s how it’s supposed to be.  You revel in their independence but at the same time, oh, how you miss them.


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Lost: One Husband. Substantial Reward For Safe Return


Many women suspect their husbands would be lost without them.  I have proof.

We were visiting my parents and Mom needed something picked up across town.  My husband offered to drive me, chivalry giving him an excuse to show off his latest toy.  Getting my gadget-loving guy a GPS had been a stroke of gift-giving genius on my part.  It was also practical.  Bill would rather spend 40 years wandering in the desert than ask for directions.

He typed the destination address into the GPS’ keypad as we backed out of the driveway. “Calculating route,” said a surprisingly sexy, woman’s voice.

“Turn right on Lincoln,” the sultry voice continued, “and travel east 2.1 miles.”  Bill seemed mesmerized.  He could barely drag his eyes from the screen to watch the road.

“The satellite tracks our location,” he explained, “then Gypsy figures the best route.” He smiled as proudly as if he’d invented the thing.

“Gypsy?” I arched an eyebrow.

“Oh.  Ha ha!  Just a little nickname.  You know, for GPS?”  My macho husband actually blushed.

“Turn left on Mackinaw and travel north for 4.7 miles,” Gypsy said, seductively.

“I don’t think Mackinaw goes through,” I said, doubtfully.

“Gypsy has the latest maps,” Bill said, firmly.

The route looked more familiar with each passing mile.  “Mackinaw dead-ends at the highway.” I stated, sure of myself now.  “This will take us miles out of our way.”

“I think Gypsy knows best,” Bill said, his smirk so condescending he might as well have patted me on the head.

“But, but…” I sputtered, “are you going to listen to her instead of me?  I grew up here.  And I’m your wife!”

“Continue north on Mackinaw for 3.2 miles,” Gypsy purred.  She and Bill acted as if I wasn’t even in the car.

Gypsy’s frequent reminders were the only sounds heard for the next 5 minutes.   I sat slouched in stony silence with my arms folded across my chest.  Then I sat up straight.  I started to smile.  My smile stretched from ear to ear by the time we reached the next stop sign.

“Continue straight for 1.4 miles,” Gypsy commanded.

“Well?” I said, innocently. “You heard her.”

Bill didn’t respond.  He was busy contemplating the steep, grass-covered hill that arose straight ahead of the T-intersection at which we were stopped.   He turned right, scowling.

“Recalculating route,” Gypsy said.  She didn’t sound quite so sexy now.  In fact, she sounded annoyed.

So did Bill as he muttered, “Oh, shut up,” and flipped the GPS to “Off.”

He swallowed his pride and asked me for directions after just a few minutes.  I showed restraint and didn’t tell him to get lost.  Instead, I told him where to go.

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Help Wanted: Bon Vivant


Wanted: Self-starter for the position of raconteur, bon vivant and all around Renaissance woman.

Job duties to include:

  • Exploring…life.
  • Writing…when the muse strikes.
  • Strolling… a beach, hiking a trail or striding down city streets.
  • Partying… hearty. An almost bacchanalian appreciation for good food and wine required.
  • Contemplating… the meaning of life and one’s belly button in equal measure. Best accomplished stretched out in a hammock.
  • Sleeping…late. Occasionally announcing your intention to rise and greet the dawn gives as many brownie points as actually doing it.
  • Singing & dancing…enthusiasm more important than ability.
  • Traveling…first class and all expenses paid to fun and exotic locations.
  • Reading… whenever and whatever you want.
  • Watching…chick flicks, Fellini art films, trashy TV, etc. Must be able to express opinions on a wide variety of cultural topics, from the sublime to the Real Housewives.
  • Hobnobbing…with fascinating people.

Ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:

  • Gently seasoned. Old enough to have been around some; young enough to be able to get around some.
  • Eager to learn new things.
  • Willing to set out at a moment’s notice for the next adventure. Said adventure is guaranteed NOT to involve roughing it at a level below three Michelin stars, activities that cause up-chuckery, or rats and bugs.
  • Able to speak several foreign languages.  Willingness to fake it by speaking English with a foreign accent is just as good.
  • Smart enough to realize you’re not that smart.
  • Able to laugh, long and hard, at yourself and those around you.

Salary: commiserate with whatever your little heart desires.

Perfect employee in search of ideal job.  Potential employers encouraged to send offers care of this blog.  

What’s your ideal job?



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