Category Archives: Guest Writers

Jerry Springer and Other Omens : #SoWrong Moment by Amber West

So thrilled to have Amber West here today. Amber is not only one of my favorite blogger friends, but she is also the author of The Ruth Valley Missing, which is a real thriller! Today, Amber shares a less heinously embarrassing moment than, perhaps, some of the other bloggers in this series, but hers is a poignant story just the same. If you don’t know Amber — omigosh — why not? Super-talented, super kind, super sensible and just… super, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter @amberwest.

SoWrong

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• • •

Jerry Springer & Other Omens by Amber West

My tale of first love starts shortly after high school.

What can I say? I was a late bloomer.

Not to say that I didn’t have crushes in school. There was the crazy smart, somewhat eccentric guy from the crew team with steely blue eyes who looked like a young Mel Gibson. (You know, the pre-crazy days.) And the guy I knew since I was 12, who grew into a charming, adorable flirt, who looked like a young Tom Cruise. (Also, pre-crazy.)

Maybe my affinity for boys who resembled nutso celebrities should have been a clue as to how first love would go for me.

Apparently, I was not good at reading signs in my teen years.

Joe* was five years older than I was. We met through mutual friends and got along great. Funny and very sweet, he was the type of guy who opened doors for you, who asked you how you were and paid attention to the answer. He looked like a young Matthew Broderick. (You know, pre-cheating).

He moved to Florida from Maine, giving him a cute Northern boy accent, and a way about him that reminded me of home. Being around him was fun and cozy.

And he paid attention to me.

Being a middle-child with poor self-esteem and pretty naïve in the boy department, I thought we were just friends.

One day, he showed up at my office with roses. Not the roadside bouquet wrapped in cheap plastic and a paper towel. A dozen, long-stemmed, perfectly deep red roses, wrapped in fancy paper and cellophane.

The reason?

“You said once no one’s ever bought you flowers. And that’s just wrong.”

I may have swooned a tiny bit in that Florida office park. And then he added, “I haven’t bought flowers for anyone in X years, Y months, and Z days.”

From previous conversations, I knew what this meant.

He hadn’t bought flowers for anyone since the last time he had his heartbroken by his last girlfriend.

Girlfriend.

Is that what he thought of me?

I mean, guy friends bring you flowers, right? And they give you extra long hugs and tell you you’re pretty and keep a photo of you in their apartment…

Girlfriend?

No. Couldn’t possibly.

But, well, just maybe…

Our “friendship” had the added pressure of disapproving parents (mine, not his), so we never said we were dating. We spent time together with mutual friends, stealing moments here and there for deep conversation, smiles across the room, and lingering hugs goodbye.

One day, he came by my office to take me to lunch.

Sitting in a TGIFridays, waiting to order, he nodded his head to indicate there was something behind me.

“Look over there. Jerry Springer just sat down.”

I rolled my eyes and looked back down at my menu, deciding between something fried with something fried on the side, or something fried on a bed of greens.

“Seriously, look.”

“Do you really think I’m that gullible?” I smiled.

Not smiling back, he replied, “Why would I lie?”

Giving in, I turned my head to see that Jerry Springer was indeed perusing the menu a few tables away from me. I laughed and turned back to Joe. “Oops.”

“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t look,” he said.

I quietly sipped my drink, unsure of what to say. What did I do? I thought we were joking around, but apparently, I’d committed some major sin.

It took a bit before moods lightened again, but I spent the rest of lunch picking at my salad, not sure what had happened.

As time passed, we had more of these moments.

Moments where he questioned our “friendship”.

And finally, there was the phone call.

Apparently, someone told him I’d been spreading rumors about him.

About him and a girl.

At first, I was apologetic. I didn’t know why anyone would say that, given the fact that I would never utter a bad word about him, but I was horrified that someone made him feel that I did.

He pressed. “Why would someone tell me that if you weren’t saying anything?”

And I snapped.

Well, for me it was snapping. It should be noted that I was never much of a snapper.

“I don’t know, Joe. All I know is that I’ve heard the rumors and the only thing I might have said is that you wouldn’t be stupid enough to be involved with her.”

We didn’t talk after that.

Some months later, I got the news.

He’d run off** and married the girl from the rumors.

I’m not the type to embarrass easily, or at least my brain does an excellent job of blocking out those moments.

But that moment? I felt that flush of humiliation.

This guy who once made me feel important and pretty and wanted managed to make me feel like nothing.

I’d been silly enough to fall for him. It was all my fault.

Or at least that’s what I told myself.

Older and wiser, I don’t kick myself for falling in love anymore.

But if any of you know if Adam Arkin has done anything crazy, let me know.

The hubs, looking Arkin-y.

The hubs, looking Arkin-y.

*name changed to protect the not so innocent

**when I say “run off”, I mean it – she was young enough that they needed to head to a different state to get married.

• • •

tweet us @amberwest & @rasjacobson

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A Real Whack Job: A #SoWrong Moment by Lisha Fink

It is with great, swelling pleasure that I have Lisha Fink of The Lucky Mom here today. I got to spend a while day with Lisha in real life when I was in New Orleans a few years ago. Lisha is the mother to three sons and the wife to one husband. As far as I’m concerned, they are the lucky ones. An advocate for education, Lisha’s heart is huge. A volunteer in her children’s schools and an active member in her church and community, y’all, this woman walks the walk. Everything she writes is sublime. Don’t believe me? Read her blog. Then follow her at @lishafink.

SoWrong

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A Real Whack Job by Lisha Fink

There are a few things in life you can count on with certainty. The sun will rise every morning, it will set every evening, and if you go to Wal-Mart on Saturday you’ll see something crazy.

As I pulled into the parking lot on that blazing August day I saw it: the coveted shady spot.

I took the key out of the ignition and opened the door.

That’s when I saw him.

Wearing a t-shirt and flip flops.

The jar of Vaseline in the shotgun seat made his intentions clear.

“Really?” I said aloud.

My first instinct was to leave. I sat back down and put the key back in the ignition.

Then I got mad.

How dare he? How many other people had he freaked out?

He wasn’t going to make me leave.

Because you don’t get away with being a pervert around me.

And because I really wanted that parking spot.

So I put my keys back in my purse and turned in his direction.

And stared him down.

In hindsight, I regret the staring part because the image of what I saw is now burned forever in my mind. And because he got a good look at me, too.

I left my car, determined to find someone to tell. As I approached the police officer on duty at the store entrance, I wondered what I was going to say.

Now, I know quite a few euphemisms for what he was doing. But in the anxious moments as I approached the officer, I was trying to decide which awkward words were going to come out of my mouth.

“Um…. excuse me. There’s a guy in his car over there….”

The officer looked at me with a blank stare.

“He’s all by himself…”

I just couldn’t find the words. So I pointed.

“He’s in his car. That blue car over there next to the red SUV.”

By this time the cop was started to get irritated that I couldn’t seem to get my message out.

“He’s… um… enjoying himself. In his car. By himself.”

His surprised look told me that he got it.

I gestured toward the car and he assured me that he’d investigate.

I was thinking that somehow this guy was going to find some pants and get dressed and drive off before the cop got there, with my license plate committed to memory and my dumb stare memorized. Then I’d be looking over my shoulder for this deviant for the rest of my life.

Grabbing a cart, I looked back at the officer approaching the car, radio in hand. Hoping that good would prevail, I filled my cart with Cheerios and fruit roll ups and an extra bottle of wine.

I paid for my groceries and headed for the door.

Outside, I saw the car. Still there. Parked next to mine.

There was no way on earth I was going back to my car if this guy was there.

Waiting for me.

Frantically, I searched for the cop I had already talked to, but he was nowhere to be found. There was another officer, but then I’d have to explain again.

Once more I stood there frozen, trying to decide what to do. I could call my husband to come get me. Or take a cab. Or abandon $100 worth of groceries and just walk home.

But that was stupid. I had to get to my car.

So I approached the other officer.

“Ummm…. When I got here, there was a guy parked next to me.”

Blank stare.

“He was in his car. By himself. Anyway, would you walk me to my car?”

Blank stare. He must’ve thought I was crazy asking for a police escort in broad daylight.

Just about that time, the other officer approached to inform me that Mr. No Pants had been arrested. Something about outstanding attachments, and that by now he was getting settled in at his new home in jail.

So I went to my car, loaded the groceries in the back hatch.

As I walked around to open my door, I couldn’t help but look in.

Vaseline smeared everywhere, flip flops abandoned on the floor.

I couldn’t shake the image of him getting tossed into a police car wearing just a shirt.

I picked up the phone and told Mr. Wonderful to be ready to help unload groceries.

And to have a glass of wine ready for me when I got home.

Any *ahem* embarrassing moments in a parking lot?

tweet us @lishafink & @rasjacobson

4 #SoWrong Moments by Steve Warner

SoWrong

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I stumbled on Steve from Brown Road Chronicles nearly 2 years ago when I saw a funny comment he’d left on someone else’s blog. I decided to click over and, well… that was the day I found the man I call “Cowboy.” You guys, he was singing a love song to his wife. {Or maybe it was to one of his goats. I actually can’t remember. But it was good.} I read a bunch of his essays, and I caught myself adoring this doting father and devoted husband from Michigan who tells stories about country living, old houses and dirt roads.

• • •

4 #SoWrong Moments by Steve Warner

My wife Kim and I are relatively experienced parents. We have two children, a soon-to-be 16-year-old daughter and a soon-to-be 13-year-old son. In parenting years, if the average kid moves away around 22-23 years old, I guess you could say we’ve been at it awhile. Parenting is not easy, but it’s not as hard as lots of people would have led us to believe when we started this journey.

On the other hand, we’ve had our share of mishaps and like most parents we’ve had a few #SoWrong moments along the way. We laugh about them now. Here are a few.

#1: SCARLET FEVER IS A THING.

My daughter and son have had their share of strep throat episodes. Kim has gotten so good, she can now diagnose strep throat approximately six weeks before they actually become infected. That wasn’t always the case.

It’s just Scarlet Fever. These antibiotics should help.

One of the first times our daughter had strep, being inexperienced with the whole “diagnosing your kid’s signs” thing, we kept putting off seeing a doctor, thinking “it’s just a little sore throat, it will clear up in a few days”. Eventually, our daughter developed this nasty rash all over her body and Kim took her to the pediatrician.

Later that day.

Her: Doctor says she has Scarlet Fever.

Me: SCARLET FEVER?! ISN’T THAT LIKE SOME DISEASE FROM THE MIDDLE AGES OR SOMETHING? LIKE THE BLACK PLAGUE? WE DON’T NEED TO PUT LEECHES ON HER LEGS OR ANYTHING, DO WE?

Her: Doctor says antibiotics should clear it right up… but next time to please bring her in a little sooner.

#2: KIDS ARE LIKE PARROTS

parrot

“STUPID BITS!”

When my son was a toddler, we noticed when he’d get angry with something he’d say “STUPID BITS!” When he’d try to fit the square peg in the round hole: “STUPID BITS!” When Thomas the Train went too fast around the wooden tracks and his Caboose derailed and tipped over the whole train: “STUPID BITS!” Like much of the undecipherable shit that comes out of your kid’s mouth at that age, we didn’t really think anything of it.

Until one day my wife figured it out.

Her: You know what he’s saying, don’t you? When you get mad, you say “STUPID BITCH!”

Me: C’mon, I do not.

Her: Yes, you do!

Me: Next time the mower breaks down in the middle of the yard: “STUPID BITCH!” Next time I smash my thumb with a hammer: “STUPID BITCH!

Me: Accepting Father of the Year Award…

#3: FATHERS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO SLEEP UNTIL 3:00 PM.

3pmYou know that thing… where you’re at a party and you’ve had a few drinks and someone offers you a shot? Yeah that.

You know that thing… where someone offers you another shot. Yeah that.

A few years back, this happened and I ended up throwing up all over the place in the passenger seat of my wife’s car on the ride home — with my son sitting in the back seat “taking notes.” Thankfully he was young enough to not really understand the whole episode. But the next day I was sicker than I’d felt since my college days. I woke up around 8:00 a.m. New Year’s Day, somehow managed to hose off the car mats and clean out the car, then went back to bed.

I’ve blocked out many of the memories of this night but I will always remember hearing my son from downstairs, while I was lying in bed upstairs, ask: “It’s 3:00. Why isn’t Dad up yet?!”

#4: SOMETIMES SANTA CLAUS BRINGS BOOKS ABOUT SEX.

One Christmas morning, Kim and I sat around drinking Mimosas while the kids alternated between playing with their new toys and eating candy out of their stockings.

pocketscientist

Should come with Parental Warnings

This particular year, Kim had purchased books for our kids called “Pocket Scientist.” She hadn’t read through the books; she’d glanced at them and thought they looked like good, educational, stocking stuffers. There was a Blue Book and a Red Book and they explored all kinds of stuff: dinosaurs and animals and fossils and caves and climate and rainbows and the water cycle and trash and the environment and machines and rocks.

As we still had at least one “believer,” we labeled them “FROM SANTA.”

It was quite a surprise when we learned there was a section on how babies are made! Our children giggled aloud as they read how “the mother and father cuddle each other very close and the father’s penis gets stiffer so it fits comfortably inside the mother’s vagina.” Who could’ve guessed we’d have a conversation about erections on Christmas?

Believe me, I’ve got plenty more stories like these, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome  and, frankly, I have two teenagers: another #SoWrong moment is surely just around the corner!

What #SoWrong parenting moment do you most want to forget?

tweet us at @stevetwarner & @rasjacobson

A Corkscrew Let Him Put a Ring On It: A #SoWrong Moment by Blogdramedy

SoWrong

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Blogdramedy recently took an extended trip to Italy and France, and she wrote long, dreamy posts along the way. She also likes to write about Karl Urban. I’ve known for a long time that Blogdramedy enjoys wine. After reading today’s post, you’ll all understand why. In sharing this piece, Blogdramedy has raised the bar for #SoWrong posts. Or maybe lowered it, depending on your take. Click to check out Blogdramedy’s blog. Follow her on Twitter at @blogdramedy. Or both. You won’t be sorry, but you should probably bring some tissues.

• • •

How a Corkscrew Let Him Put a Ring On It ~ by Blogdramedy

Four months after the divorce, I arrived at work for a meeting and that’s when I saw him.

Tall. Dark. Beautiful. Dressed in a deep blue suit with mauve pinstripes. It was his shoes I really noticed. Burgundy loafers with a slightly pointed toe; polished to a gleam.

No one wore shoes like that where I worked.

No one wore shoes like that in the entire city.

I wanted to ask him where he had bought them and if he polished them or if he had someone do it for him.

I shook his hand instead.

By the end of the meeting, I could tell he fancied me. All the signs were on display.

He was a male peacock flashing his colors and I was blinded…he was
a kaleidoscope of light and I was a moth.

He interpreted my moth-like eye fluttering for flirtatious behaviour (it was) and called me later, asking me out for a drink.

A month later and we’d been on 18 dates. We still had not slept together. I don’t know if it was me sending out the “damaged” vibe or him being kind of shy underneath his spiffy suit but we didn’t rush. It was nice.

And then he said he wanted to cook for me and to introduce me to something rather special.

Cue alarm bells.

Introduce me? What…like to a person? Another woman? Another MAN? HIS MOTHER???

When I arrived, the lights were low and the fireplace was flicking. Sade was playing on the stereo.

I took a quick scan and relaxed when I saw we were alone. Not totally relaxed, mind you. Constant vigilance had been my motto ever since a grasshopper jumped up my ballerina dress at the age of six.

After we’d chatted and caught up on our day, that’s when he sprung it on me.

It wasn't one of these but it was nice. (Image via thewinecellarinsider.com)

The wine could have been one of these for all I knew back then. Now I’m a wine slut. (Image via thewinecellarinsider.com)

The something special was a bottle of Bordeau that had just arrived from his wine club. (Yes, I know. Screams pretentious but it was the 90s.)

Now, I was never a lover of fine wines. I really didn’t like white and red had to be sweet and fruity before I let it pass my lips. He uncorked and poured, all the while describing this particular wine’s characteristics.

It was smokey. [sip]

It was plummy. [sip]

Lush. [sip] Ripe. [sip] Full-bodied. [sip sip]

Mouthy. [swallow]

By the end of the second bottle, I was ready. And so was he.

Somehow we made it into the bedroom, where I pushed him down onto the bed and proceeded to demonstrate my take of a slow striptease. Unfortunately I was not wearing one single thing with a button or a zipper. The best I could do was tug my sweater up over my head…slooowly.

That got me a little dizzy so I fell to my knees and as luck would have it, the latitude of my face and his crotch? About the same. So, what’s a girl going to do? I leaned in, unsnapped the top button of his jeans, and…

…vomited all over his lap.

It was like something out of the Exorcist. I did Linda Blair proud that night.

And that’s the last thought I had before passing out cold on the floor.

I woke the next morning laying next to him, in the spoon position, still dressed and chastity intact.

He’d cleaned up and put us both to bed. The sex that morning was sublime and has been ever since.

In 2008, I married my Mister and we’ve been happily drinking wine ever after.

What did I learn from this embarrassing moment?

Always drink in moderation and wear something appropriate to the occasion. Something with buttons and zippers.

How did you meet your spouse? Was there vomit involved?

tweet us @rasjacobson & @blogdramedy

Where She’s From

Tomorrow, my eldest niece will graduate from high school. And in August, she’ll head off to college. Unlike her brothers who chose campuses closer to home, Miss Thang will be flying further away from the nest.

Today, I’m sharing one of the essays Audrey authored during her college application process. Because tomorrow, we’ll celebrate her: the person she is and the person she’s becoming. My niece knows who she is. Tenacious, kind, funny and smart: I’m excited for her to strap on her invisible wings and take them for a spin. Can’t wait to see where she lands.

SONY DSC

Photo by Florian Komorowski

Where I’m From by Audrey Jacobson

I am from ballet shoes and muddy sneakers.

From two older brothers, playing on the driveway.

I am from high expectations and never giving up. From surging on the canal path and running in circles.

From a box of Nike spikes, sweaty locker rooms, a blue and gold uniform and eleven varsity letters.

I am from “suicide sprints” and layup lines. From dropping balls and picking them up again.

From “Eat the hills for breakfast!” and “Keep your head up!”

I am from going out of my way, from hard work. From camaraderie, spirit, and supporting my teammates.

I am from ten summers at sleep-away camp. From fearlessly leaving home, a wee thing toting a humongous duffel bag.

I am from broadening my world, from making new friends, from unplugging from technology, and connecting with nature. From waterskiing and tetherball.

I am from giving back. In song and dance and conversation. I am from conflict resolution, positivity, and motivation. I am a hand, a shoulder, and an ear.

I am from bell-ringing on winter nights, from lugging boxes of books to children who have none, from making bracelets with broken souls.

I am from long nights of studying at my kitchen island. From Multiplication Fast Facts in 3rd grade to Logs and Limits. From Phospholipids and Buffers and Titrations.

I am from High Honor Roll. From parents with great genes. From brothers who showed me the way.

After seeing my name in the newspaper for academics and sports, people have told me, “You’re the whole package.”

Whatever that means, I’m not sure.

What I know is that I am from tutus and jazz shoes.

From getting dirty and meeting new people.

From the love of learning and the love of the game.

From playing hard and winning trophies, but not being afraid to lose.

I am from taking risks.

I know where I am from.

These are my roots.

What no one knows is that I have this box of wings that I’m ready to try.

tweet us @rasjacobson & @audjacobson

What’s essays do you remember being assigned to write? Where are you from?

NOTE: I helped Audrey back in October by providing her with the “Where I’m From” meme when she was in the throes of essay writing, but all the words are her own. Thanks to Jenny Hansen for sharing her piece and to Sharla Lovelace for inspiring Jenny. If you go HERE, you will see this exercise is based on a poem by George Ella Lyon called “Where I’m From,” and if you’d like to try it yourself, the original link is there.

Click HERE for details on how you can enter to win a $25 gift card. 

The Devil Made Me Do It: A #SoWrong Moment by Jess Witkins

Jess Witkins is a fantastic blogging-buddy. Funny and friendly, she is honest and tells it straight. Jess is an adventurer who will do anything for a good story, as you will see today.  A glutton for all things pop culture, Jess is on a quest to listen better, learn better, write better, love better, and sleep better. Check her out at The Happiness Project. Follow her on Twitter at @JessWitkins.  Thank you for being here today, Jess. xo

SoWrong

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The Devil Made Me Do It by Jess Witkins

What you need to know is that I came crashing into the party on a Friday night fish fry just before my parents’ 40th birthdays.

They already had a family.

They weren’t planning on doing the diaper thing again.

Because I grew up surrounded by people much older than me, I’m mature for my age. I got A’s in school, graduated college, found a well-paying job, and I pay my own bills!

I am a picture-perfect citizen.

One would assume I have control over my bowels.

Let me explain. My boyfriend and I take a vacation together each summer. We’ve traveled to Portland, Oregon and eaten Voodoo Donuts; we’ve visited Toronto, Ontario and viewed the skyline from the CN Tower. Last summer, we decided to take a road trip out west. Starting in the Badlands, we made our way to Yellowstone National Park. It was a fabulous trip.

Except for the day we toured Devil’s Tower.

That August day, the temperatures climbed into the 90’s. Being a mature adult, I was prepared! I packed and wore sunscreen. I drank water all morning. I used the bathroom before we left.

It didn’t matter.

DSCF0717

This is Devil’s Tower.

We started our hike around the base of the tower. We weren’t too far in when I felt something rumbling in my gut. We sat on a bench for a minute, enjoying the view.  I considered telling my boyfriend to go on ahead so I could quick run back to the bathroom.

That’s what I should’ve done.

But nah, the pain went away, and I figured I could hold it.

DSCF0724

Jess wearing sunscreen & sporting water like a responsible adult.

It became crystal clear, halfway around the tower, that my mind and body were not at peace. In fact, they were in deep negotiation. And things were getting heated.

When the cramping got so bad that I had to sit down again, I started weighing my options.

You see, I couldn’t skulk off somewhere: there were other hikers. One poor unsuspecting family was giving their children piggy back rides nearby. I couldn’t take a crap behind a tree, they’d see me! It was either stay on the bench and breathe or walk right over the cliff behind us.

I wish I’d chosen the cliff.

Because that’s when I pooped my pants.

The worst part was telling my boyfriend what had happened. How would he ever look at me with any sense of romance or mystery again? I consider myself a dignified person. But I’d just crapped my pants. In public. And we still needed to hike halfway around Devil’s Tower.

Nothing will ever compare to the cold, wet, mall-walker sprint that I made during my descent from Devil’s Tower. And my boyfriend, wonderful man that he is, tried to cheer me up on our journey.

“You’re almost there! You’re doing good! On the bright side, I don’t smell anything!” he shouted.

Making my way to the crowded public bathroom, I took note of the collateral damage. Well, the underwear was a goner. It didn’t stand a chance, really. I was just lucky I wore full coverage cotton panties that day and not a thong.

I shimmied out of my undies, wrapped my soiled mess in TP, and dumped everything in the plastic bin where women leave their unmentionables. Then I said a little prayer for the park custodian, cleaned myself up, and walked back to the car.

So the moral of the story, kids, is sometimes even the best of adults crap their pants. Oh, and always bring an extra pair of clean underwear when traveling.

Or, you know, a diaper.

Has this ever happened to you? Of course I don’t mean YOU, but someone you know right? Besides me and Al Roker? Huh?

 tweet us @rasjacobson & @jesswitkins

NOTE: The winner of the GoGoSqueeZ giveaway is Brown Road Chronicles! Congratulations Steve! Send me your mailing address within the next 48 hours!

Je Ne Comprends Pas: A #SoWrong Moment by Margaret Lawrenson

SoWrong

Click on the eyeball to be directed to other writers who are participating in this series in 2013.

About 9 years ago, Margaret Lawrenson and her husband, Malcolm, bought a house in Laroque d’Olmes, France, a faded town whose glory days are long over. About 5 years ago, the British couple started to spend nearly all their time there. Margaret’s blog gives the reader a slice of French life. Her photographs are exquisite and her stories of day-to-day life in a tiny romantic village will make you long to hop across the pond. And yet, there is a longing, too. Despite their largely successful efforts at integration, despite loving much about their life in France, she sometimes misses life in England with friends and family.  Check out Life in Laroque. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest, too.

• • •

Je Ne Comprends Pas by Margaret Lawrenson

All she wanted to do was to take our order. But we became more and more frustrated, even hysterical, at our inability to explain to the waitress that we’d only given our order (‘café solo e café con leche’ – we could cope with that) about a minute ago to her colleague. Sadly, he wasn’t in view, so we couldn’t point him out. And she couldn’t understand that we were fine thanks, our coffee was on the way, and we didn’t need any more help.

We were in Spain, in Catalonia, visiting our daughter for the weekend, and we couldn’t wait for her to join us in the bar. When she arrived, she smoothly took over, explained the tapas menu to us, and gave our order to el patron. He complimented her on her Spanish, but then spoilt it by wondering if she were Belgian. As if. We’re Anglo-Saxon to the core.

You see? We're fine now. Emily's placed our order and I'm free to take a photo.

You see? We’re fine now. Emily’s placed our order and I’m free to take a photo.

We found it so difficult and frustrating being in Spain with only the most rudimentary language tools. Although all efforts on our part to communicate in Spanish or Catalan were greeted with friendliness and enthusiasm by the locals it was all uphill. We battled to be understood, they battled to understand, but laughter broke down lots of barriers.

That was about 6 months ago. I resolved there and then that I Must Try Harder. I’d learn Spanish; maybe do a course in-line. After all, daughter Emily’s in Spain for the long haul.

Really, I should know myself better. I don’t do learning all on my own. Give me a set of muscle-toning exercises to do in my own time, and I’ll maybe do them once, grudgingly, clock-watching the while. But tell me about a good keep-fit class and I’ll be there every time, one of the group, putting my all into every movement.

And so it was with Spanish. I fiddled about looking for a suitable course on line, found one, and that was as far as I got. I hadn’t been able to find a class to go to locally, though I really looked. Result? I’ve learnt no Spanish. And now I’m paying the price.

Last week, The Orange Man was in town, the place where we live in southern France. Occasionally, he drives up to our patch of France from his patch of Spain with a whole container-load of oranges. His boxes of fruit are so sweet, so juicy, that once he’s set up his stall in the forecourt of a disused petrol station, he sells the lot within a couple of days . Just one snag. He only speaks Spanish.

So I turned up, having painstakingly worked out my order.

“Hola,” I flashed a confident smile. “Una caja de naranjas por favour.”

Big mistake. Despite my accent, he assumed I was fluent. Delighted at last to have the chance of a chat after sessions of mime and sign language, he opened his mouth. Several days’ worth of pent-up chat flowed forth and he didn’t even notice my baffled silence. Beaming, he helped me to the car with my case of fruit. He all but dispensed with the small formality of being paid. And I felt small, and mean. He’d stood there for two long days with nothing to do but wait for customers, and I couldn’t even help him while away five minutes of his time.

There we are:  A container load of oranges.  All I have to do is ask for a box....

There we are: A container load of oranges. All I have to do is ask for a box….

This time, I got away with it, but I’ve got a long way to go before I no longer have to wag my finger at myself – ‘Must Try Harder’

How do people who come to live abroad cope if they don’t try to master the language? We know of English people who’ve been here in France ten years or more and can still barely communicate. If we found it embarrassing telling the waitress we didn’t need her just then or speaking to a vendor of oranges, how much worse would it have been if we’d been trying to contact a plumber, say, or the local town council?

Most of our best times in France are spent sharing experiences – whether it’s a walk in the mountains, an hour at the gym, or simply having a drink together – with our local friends and neighbours. We worked really hard before we came to France to get the basics together, and even harder once we got here. Our efforts were appreciated. It meant we could use local shops instead of making an impersonal trip to the supermarket. So we met people. Locals tell us about the things that are going on, recommend an electrician, invite us to a party, or to go on a walk. We turn up to things so often we’ve become part of the furniture. We’re no longer ‘that English couple’, but simply ordinary active members of our community. It’s been hard work. And we still make embarrassing mistakes, as when we translated the word for organ (as in the splendid instrument you may hear in church) using a word that’s more often used for – um – sexual organs.

Embarrassment is good. It spurs us on. Must Try Harder so that, little by little, we need to Try Far Less Hard, and our Little Learning becomes A Lot.

Ever experience any embarrassing moments while traveling abroad where language let you down?

tweet me @rasjacobson • Margaret ne tweet pas

{NOTE: I want Susie Lindau to know my thoughts are with her today as she bravely faces her double mastectomy. I know she’d want me to say it straight, just like that, because that’s what’s happening. If you know Susie or you know someone who’s battled breast cancer, leave Susie a comment for her HERE. She’s a fighter, that one! #SusieStrong}

To Bra or Not to Bra: A #SoWrong Moment by Misty

SoWrong

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You guys, Misty is sharing her humiliating moment today, and it’s a doozie. For those of you unfamiliar with her, Misty is Mister-ious. {Did you see what I did there?} Like sometimes I wonder if her name is really Misty. You see, I’ve never seen Misty. I’ve only seen her sandals, the avatar she uses in association with her comments. Readers of her blog know Misty has kids and one helluva husband. She claims to be a lawyer. But there are no pictures of her. None. After reading this piece, I feel able to say with some degree of certainty that Misty has boobs. Follow my girl at Misty’s Laws. You can also follow her on Facebook.
• • •
To Bra or Not To Bra

I’ve never been very fashionable.  This statement was never more apt than during my teenaged years.

Back in the early nineties, there was a trend in fashion of girls wearing these leotard like shirts that had snaps at the crotch, like a baby’s onesie.  I have no idea why these things were popular for grown people, but I owned a couple of them.  Some of them actually looked like shirts, until you got to those hanging flaps with the snaps at the bottom, but if you were wearing one with pants, sometimes it wasn’t obvious that it wasn’t a regular shirt.  I had one or two of those kind.  However, I also had a few of the other type . . . the stretchy ones that looked like a leotard.  And when you pulled those little flaps down to snap them below, it became even more . . . taut.

One night, when I was about 17, I was getting dressed to go out with a friend to a high school wrestling match, where I would also be hanging out with a guy I was “dating.”  (Those quotation marks are an entirely separate embarrassing story, thanks).  I had just bought one of those stretchy leotard type shirts, but had yet to wear it.  I figured this would be a good time to break it in.  It was a long sleeve, deep forest green shirt, made of a pretty thin material.  However, when I tried it on, I realized that it just didn’t really look right.  In an attempt to get a second opinion, I called upon my mom for her advice . . .

Me:  “Does this shirt look weird?  I mean, you can totally see the outline of my bra and the straps right through it.”

Mom:  “Yeah, it does look a bit odd.  What if you just don’t wear a bra?”

Me:  “Really?”

So, I took off the bra and we both viewed what it looked like without it.  Please note, that at the time I had 17-year-old boobs.  They pretty much stayed right where they were supposed to, as this was years prior to me birthing two wee tots  that would proceed to use them as their own personal udders.  They were perky at that point, is what I’m saying.

Mom:  “I think that looks better.  This way you can’t see the straps!”

Me:  “Ok, if you say so . . .”

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It was pretty much EXACTLY like this, but with less penis (and more boobs).

And yes, I actually left the house, with my mom’s blessing, nay at her beseeching, in a thin (practically sheer) top, sans protective boob covering.

Did I mention it was winter? So, it was cold outside. Not in my bedroom as I was getting dressed, but definitely outside. Pretty sure you can figure out what that means.

When I picked up my friend and “boyfriend,” I was wearing a coat, but when we arrived at the gym, I removed the coat. Did I mention it was chilly in the gym as well? Yeah. So that was when the problem became evident. Well, to everyone but me, I suppose.

Instead of realizing the wrongness of the situation, I instead just went about my business, all oblivious-like. You see, I was a teenaged girl.  And I was sitting on bleachers, watching a boring sporting event with another teenaged girl.  So, to pass the time, we engaged in a favorite activity of all teenaged girls everywhere over the history of all teenagedom . . . cattiness.

That’s right, we sat there being snarky about what the other people in the gym were wearing, and basically made fun of things that we thought weren’t “cool.”

After listening to us engage in this activity for a while, my “boyfriend” looked over at me and said this:

“How can you make fun of how other people look, when you are sitting there with your boobs hanging out for the world to see?”

Wait . . . what?

Well then. Wasn’t that just a punch in the gut. Really, it was like a smack upside my foolish head. So, instead of crawling under the bleachers to hide, I just went ahead and put my coat back on, and wore it for the remainder of the wrestling match.  Talk about a reality check.

After the match, I went to drop off my friend at her boyfriend’s house nearby.  He lived with a few other guys, and we all went inside to say hello and socialize for a bit.  However, I didn’t take off my coat. When one of the guys asked why I was sitting there all bundled up in my coat, my friend oh so helpfully told them why.  To which, their incredibly understanding and empathetic response was:

“Show us your tits, Misty!!”

I chose to decline their kind entreaty, and instead I slunk out of there, completely and utterly mortified.  And I have never not worn a bra out of the house again.  Some lessons I guess you have to learn through experience.

Thanks a lot, mom.

 tweet me @rasjacobson

My Lilly Pulitzer handbag giveaway ends today at noon, Eastern!
Click HERE for details! It’s not too late. Unless it is.

Dear Diary, I Hate You: A #SoWrong Moment by She’s a Maineiac

SoWrong

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• • •

In seventh grade, Darla wore her heart on her sleeve.

In seventh grade, I wore my heart on my sleeve, also my boob.

Also on her boob.

Once deemed by a reader as a “humor-infused mommy blog that doesn’t suck”, She’s a Maineiac, is also low-calorie, lactose-tolerant and good for the ozone layer.

Don’t try to find Darla on Twitter. She doesn’t hang there. Darlakins resides in Maine with her kiddies and her husband. And the real fun happens on her blog. Visit her there and she might buy you a coffee. Or you could buy her a drink. She needs one. Right now.

• • •

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Dear Diary, I Hate You

I knew the moment our sixth grade science teacher made us lab partners, John was The One for me. It was the way he smirked and shrugged. The way his dark Rick Springfield hair spilled into his eyes. The way he wore his faded jean jacket with the collar flipped up and his scuffed white high-top Reeboks oh-so-recklessly untied.

Oh, yes, he would be my boyfriend. I couldn’t wait to rush home and kiss my Ricky Schroder poster farewell.

John kicked the empty chair next to me to the side and plunked himself down on top of the lab table. “Hey,” he smirked and shrugged at me. Immediately, he began gnawing on his pencil and glancing over at the girl he was rumored to admire, Gina.

Gina. Pfft. Gina who had perfect hair and perfect nails and a perfectly stupid hot pink comb jutting out her back pocket with the bold (and vastly overstated) claim: HOT STUFF!

I looked back over at John, the object of my affection, who was now grinning maniacally as he stabbed the sharp end of his pencil into the earthworm splayed open on the dissecting tray in front of him.

No matter. I still loved him. And one day he would be mine because I had other, more sinister plans: to write John ♥ Darla with sparkly rainbow-colored markers all over the cover of my Social Studies book. Destiny written in purple and surrounded by Garfield stickers. But first I had to tell my diary about this momentous occasion in my riveting 12 year old life.

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My crush continued. John and Gina became a couple. Still, I knew our life together would begin sometime during the upcoming Spring Dance when he would finally confess his undying love for me; probably after we grooved to “The Safety Dance” but definitely before the slow, let’s-get-all-sweaty-and-awkwardly-slump-over-each-other song “Open Arms”.

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But along with Tracy, a year later and John was acting weird. He was avoiding me at the lockers. He wasn’t looking me in the eye as he stabbed at yet another defenseless earthworm. No longer was he tipping my chair back, or shooting rubber bands at me, or pretending to not really like me. Our spark was gone.

And I was truly puzzled.

Maybe Gina had forever sunk her perfectly manicured hooks into him after all? It was probably that damned hot pink comb that did him in. All my comb said was, “SUPER!” I knew I should have bought the other one at K-Mart! My life was over. My diary entries were a flurry of lost hopes and dashed dreams.

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The only thing deep down in my soul I knew to be true? Genesis did suck.

Then came the fateful day when John asked me if I’d like to share a piece of chocolate with him at lunch. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken him up on his offer. Maybe I should have passed on the sloppy joes earlier. Maybe the fact that his best friend Brian was laughing out of the corner of his mouth when he offered it to me should have alarmed me.

But maybe, just maybe…he liked me after all?

“Sure!” I gushed, and popped the bitter square of dark chocolate in my mouth, eagerly gulping it down.

“Ha ha!” John yelled, pointing at me. “You just ate EX-LAX! SHE JUST ATE EX-LAX!” He turned and grinned at his friends. My heart stopped.

It was an honest mistake! I swear I'm not normally so stupid.

It was an honest mistake! I swear I’m not normally so stupid.

Tears spilled down my hot cheeks. Brian and John burst into a howling fit of laughter, almost falling off the cafeteria table. I turned and ran down the hallway, barely reaching the girls’ bathroom. Plunging my head into the sink, I tried to spit out the vile candy, but it was too late. My stomach lurched.

I flew into a stall and prepared for the worst. “Darla? Darla?” my best friend Amy’s voice echoed in the bathroom. “It wasn’t really Ex-Lax! They were joking!” she yelled. “I swear, it wasn’t! We all ate some! It’s not Ex-lax!” It took several more minutes before I was convinced to leave the safety of the stall. I barely got through gym period without crying, certain a poop avalanche was imminent.

After school, I threw myself onto my pink canopy bed to write in my tear-stained diary about how the man I loved had betrayed me.

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But where was it, my cherished diary? The only place I felt safe enough to reveal my ultra juicy secrets? I could have sworn I’d left it on my night stand right next to my Laura Ingalls doll…

I peered over the side of my bed and there it was on the floor. My diary–its tarnished lock open, exposing the pages of my innermost dreams for the entire world to see.

Someone had been reading about the Man of My Dreams all along.

Someone knew how much I pined for John’s Reeboks.

Someone knew all my secrets.

My heart flip-flopped as I realized the ultimate horror–someone had told him I had a crush on him!

My brothers.

They all knew. Specifically, the older one who was only two grades above me and knew exactly what to say to make John steer clear of me for good.

I learned many hard lessons that year:

  • Never fall for a guy who does nothing but smirk and shrug.
  • Never buy the Super! comb over the Hot Stuff! comb.
  • Never eat a piece of candy you didn’t buy yourself.
  • And never, ever put the key to your diary right next to your diary.

Did you keep a diary? Who and what did you write about? Did anyone ever use your diary against you? If you didn’t keep a diary, where did you put all your juicy tidbits?

True Crime: A #SoWrong Story From Pegoleg

SoWrong

Peg Schulte from Pegoleg’s Ramblings is truly one of the most dynomite writers I follow. When I asked her to write about one of her most embarrassing moments, I was thinking “Recommended Humor Blog = Some Pretty Funny Shiz.” But I am pleased as punch that Peg decided to show another side of herself here today: a memoir about a time when she was profoundly ashamed of herself. Because haven’t we all been there? Peggy is not on Twitter, y’all. But she has an enormous following at her blog. And you would be crackerjacks not to take a peek at the magic she has going on over there — after you read this piece.

truecrimepeg

I was the smart, fat, teacher’s pet in junior high. I was desperate to be part of the in-crowd. Desperate. I would have traded my soul to the devil to be popular. He never showed up with a contract, however, so I had to make it happen myself. I’m not telling you this to excuse what I did; I just want you to know where I was coming from.

Things started to change when I made the cheer-leading squad in 8th grade. I got to sit at the “cool” girls table in science class, I was invited to “cool” parties, and I tried new, “cool” hobbies. Things like smoking, drinking and shoplifting.

I became a thief to fit in.

My career only lasted for a couple of outings. I wasn’t very good at it. Heart pounding, sick to my stomach, I’m sure my guilt was writ plainly on my face for all to see. You can probably see where all this is heading, although it was a nasty surprise to me. I got caught.

We were at Kresge’s, a store of the variety they used to call a “Five & Dime.” My girlfriend had just stuffed a barrette (retail value 69 cents) into my purse. We were strolling the aisles, trying to look casual, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. The big, burly store manager invited us to “come up to the office.”

He said they had a zero-tolerance policy for shoplifting. They called the police. Two officers came, searched our bags, told us we were under arrest and that someone from the court would be in touch. My friend presented a stoic front throughout the ordeal, but I was a blubbering mess.

They called our parents to come get us, and this is where things went from bad to worse.

My parents were out of town for the weekend. The lady who was babysitting us didn’t drive. My friend’s mom volunteered to take me home, but they wouldn’t release me to her. The police said they would take me.

Let me set the scene for you. This was just before the Dawn of the Age of Malls. Downtowns were still packed with stores and, on any given Saturday morning, that’s where you’d find ¾ of the town’s population; 100% of the teenagers.

They walked me through the crowded store with one policeman in front and the other behind me. Their cruiser was double parked in front of the store, on the busiest corner in town, right at the intersection of Everybody Saw and Everybody Knew. I think one of my brothers or sisters may have even witnessed my Bataan shame march, but I didn’t see them. I looked neither right nor left.

It was bad enough to have a police car drop me off right in front of my house. Did you know that you can’t open the back door of those cars from the inside? I kept trying the handle and babbling that the door didn’t work.

It was bad enough listening to the policeman explain the situation to the nice lady who was watching us for the weekend. Her expression combined shock that I would do such a thing with worry that my parents would blame her.

It was bad enough trying to deflect the probing questions of a “concerned” neighbor when I went to their house to baby-sit that evening. Much as I wanted to cancel, I didn’t think I should compound my sins by leaving them in the lurch on a Saturday night. They said they had seen me coming home in a squad car and “hoped everything was OK”.

All these things were bad enough, but nothing compared to the ordeal of telling my parents when they got home the next day. The look of disappointment in their eyes was the worst punishment of all, and not something I’ll ever forget.

My parents had drilled the difference between right and wrong into us kids our whole lives. Dad was a dentist and both were active in service to our church and the community. They told us that people knew who we were, even if we didn’t know them. Everything we did reflected back on the good name of the family.

They sat me down with the 5 oldest of my siblings and revealed my crime. I guess they figured maybe a little good could come of this if the other kids learned from my mistake. The younger kids looked at me with eyes so wide it was as if I had just taken off a sister Peg mask to reveal I was really Al Capone. That was the cherry on top of my shame sundae.

All that summer, I had to walk down to the courthouse to meet with my parole officer. Yes, I had a parole officer, just like murderers and rapists had.

She seemed like a sweet old lady, until I realized that her probing questions were designed to find out what kind of terrible home-life I must have that I would turn to a life of crime. After one meeting, she insisted on driving me home. I knew she wanted to look around for herself. I squirmed with mortification for my Mom even more than for myself.

I finally had my day in court. It also happened to be my first day of high school.

I missed most of the first day of this new stage of life at a brand, new school because I was down at the courthouse in shackles and an orange jumpsuit.

OK, it wasn’t an orange jumpsuit. I was wearing my new-for-school outfit; itchy, wool tweed pants and a too-tight, wool sweater vest. On top of everything else, the wool made me break out in hives.

The judge gave me a stern lecture and pronounced sentence: one year’s probation with continued visits to the parole officer. If I didn’t get into any more trouble my juvenile record would be erased when I became an adult.

I tried to look blasé, but I couldn’t help it – I cried the whole time. I have always cried easily, but not prettily. My eyes swell up and my whole face becomes a red, blotchy mess that doesn’t fade for hours.

I was a wreck after court and pleaded with my Mom to let me go home, but she was adamant. I had to go to school. I guess she figured the more painful this experience was, the less likely I would be to repeat it. Like most of life’s lessons, this made a lot more sense in hindsight. At the time, it just seemed cruel.

Mom dropped me off at the front door of school just after lunchtime. I’ll never forget walking into the unfamiliar building, not sure what subject I had at that hour, or where the classroom was. I was painfully aware of my swollen eyes and red face, and sure that everyone could see the scarlet “T” for Thief that was emblazoned on the breast of my sweater vest, at least in my mind.

I never stole again. In fact, I became scrupulous about such things. I’m the person who tells the clerk when she hasn’t charged enough. The person who, if I found a bag of unmarked, no-way-to-trace-it cash in a dumpster, would take it to the police.

What did I learn from this experience? I took away two, invaluable lessons.

  1. My honesty and integrity are worth much more than any material goods could ever be.
  2. I should never wear wool next to my skin.

Have you ever stolen something? What did you take? What have you done to fit in with the “cool” kids?

tweet me at @rasjacobson