Tag Archive | children

A Letter to My Father: Two Years After His Death

*** Warning***

Most of the time, this is a humor blog. Or at least, it tries to be. Which is why I feel like I need to give you fair warning about the emotional shit storm you’re about to stumble into. If you’ve come here looking for a laugh, you’d better go HERE instead or check back with me in a couple of weeks when I’m (hopefully) done venting my anger at my dead father, and have once again found my sense of humor….

 

Dear Dad –

Today marks the 2nd anniversary of your death. In the weeks leading up to this day, I’ve been bracing myself for the suffocating wave of grief that crashed down on my head at this time last year, but it never came. Much to my surprise, rage was there to take its place. It started one night, about a month ago, when I sat down to watch a film called Broken (insert bitter irony here) starring Tim Roth.

 

 

 

 

If there really is an afterlife, maybe you watched me that night from whatever dimension you’re in, sobbing alone on my couch as I watched the beautiful relationship between a father and daughter blossom behind the screen of my TV. Could you feel the unbearable longing deep in the center of my chest as I watched those two characters take part in something we never had? Did you feel guilty as I played and rewound the touching father/daughter parts of the movie dozens of times? God, I hope so. I know that sounds pretty harsh, cruel even. But right now, I really don’t care if I hurt your feelings.

 

Missing you was the only constant in my life that didn’t change when you died. For the first eighteen years of my life, you were never there for me. Ever. You were always quick to explain those years away – citing the divorce, the physical distance (between our homes in Illinois and New York), and Mom’s anger towards you as the reasons behind your absence. But now that I’m a parent, I know something I didn’t know when I was a child – there’s nothing that can stand in the way of a parent who truly wants to be with their child. NOTHING.

 

A quote I read by Jim Rohn pretty much sums up my feelings about your side of the story: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” And Dad, you were all about excuses when it came to your children. You know what I think was the real truth behind your absence? I think you felt little kids were tedious and boring. So you bided your time until your children were old enough to have those grownup conversations you loved so much. Then we could talk for hours like old friends, while bonding over cigarettes and beer.

 

Never quite worked out though, did it? Sure, we had plenty of chats over cigarettes and beer, but the bonding always felt forced and uneasy. Part of me was afraid to drop my guard around you because I never knew if the next thing out of my mouth would make you disappear back into the void. So I became the consummate daughter for you – quick to laugh at your jokes and put you up on a pedestal…. never realizing that it’s almost impossible to bond with someone when they’re towering high above you.

 

But underneath my meticulously made smokescreen, lurked a girl who was anything but perfect. You never met her. She’s the messed up result of a lifetime of paternal neglect that your once-a-year visits did little to assuage. Your absence made me who I am today every bit as much as Mom’s presence – maybe even more so.

 

Here are the parts of me I was too scared to show you….

 

– The child who desperately sought out the attention of other fathers to fill the void you left behind. Even if those fathers were total assholes, I still clung to every scrap of affection they showed me. All my earliest memories of rough housing, playing, and cuddling were done with those men – I don’t have a single one that includes you.

 

– The teenager who always dated older guys because I was looking for a father figure, rather than a whirlwind romance. And when I didn’t have a boyfriend, I used the male friends that I surrounded myself with to fill the empty space. Sadly, teenage boys make pretty crappy fathers – they’re much more interested in getting into your pants than healing your inner child.

 

– The grown woman who has to combat pangs of jealousy every time I see a father carrying a small child up on his shoulders or being affectionate towards them, because you never laid a finger on me unless it accompanied a hello or goodbye. That woman cries too easily over stupid, cheesy songs like Butterfly Kisses and melodramatic Hallmark commercials designed to sell greeting cards. She also resents the hell out of you for all of the above.

 

I wonder what would’ve happened if I had the guts to show you all of that, or worse, the anger and frustration behind it all – kind of like when America Ferrera (playing Carmen) tells off her dad in the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants….

 

 

That phone call was the exact one I wanted to have with you a million times, but I could never manage to gather up enough courage for that kind of confrontation.  I imagine there must be an awesome feeling of freedom that comes along with getting really pissed off at someone, and at the same time knowing that they’re still going to be there to love you afterwards. I never trusted you enough to test that freedom. If I had, do you think we’d have enjoyed the same storybook ending as the father and daughter in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?  Yeah, I didn’t think so either.  Because unlike the sappy chick flicks I perpetually fall hook, line, and sinker for, life doesn’t have happy Hollywood endings. Apparently, when it comes to emotional pain it doesn’t have any ending at all.  Kind of sucks.

 

I have to say though, I prefer this newfound anger to the overwhelming grief I had been feeling these past two years since you died – it’s easier to manage. There’s a lot less crying involved. Probably because I’m no longer pouring over old photos, or listening to the songs on the radio that remind me of you. When I took my favorite picture of us off of my bedroom dresser the night I watched Broken and threw it in a drawer, it almost felt good…. or at least justified.  I have the feeling I won’t be taking it back out anytime soon.

 

I don’t know what the next year of grieving will bring, but for now you can keep your shiny pennies and “signs” from the other side, if there is one. There’s no comfort in knowing that you’re there for me in death when you never were in life. But feel free to sit back and watch the real me for a while, because if reincarnation exists, I might prevent you from fucking up the daughter you have in your next life.  Just promise me that before you choose to dive back into the mortal melee again, you’ll do yourself and her a big favor – learn how to hug.

 

Still yours,

Linda

What Kind of Junk is Stuck to Your Trunk?

I’d like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant person, but sometimes when a pet peeve of mine is triggered, I momentarily lose my amiable nature, and become something akin to an R-rated version of Oscar the Grouch. I’ve had the same pet peeves for years, most of which are pretty standard. But recently I’ve felt a new one beginning to crop up. At first, it started out like one of those underground pimples – an annoyance that I tried to squelch before it came to a head. But now this sucker is red, ripe, and sitting right on the end of my nose, just begging to be popped.

 

I CAN’T STAND “Proud Parent of….” BUMPER STICKERS!!  Damn that felt good….

 

I’m aware of the fact that I probably just offended half of my readers, but it has to be said because parents have gone totally over the top with these stickers.  The back of some of these cars read like college applications. Since the dean of Harvard is unlikely to be driving behind you, why do you feel the need to advertise all of your child’s academic and athletic achievements to the world?

 

I get it, you’re proud. By all means, call Grandma and tell her all about the fact that little Sally made the honor roll, won a gold medal at her gymnastics tournament, and then rescued a baby whale during her Greenpeace excursion. She’s SUPER awesome!! But nobody but Grandma (and maybe you) cares.

 

You might argue that you’re just letting your child know that your pride for them is like these bumper stickers – permanent and unable to be removed without the use of a razor blade and/or blowtorch. But here’s a secret that your child might not be willing to share with you: they find these stickers just as obnoxious as the person driving behind you. And if your child is over the age of twelve, you can add a hefty dose of teenager embarrassment to that as well.

 

25001382846325_You-know-who-really-hates-that-Proud-parent-of-an-honor-roll-student-bumper-sticker-Your-honor-roll-

 

Part of me gets why these bumper stickers are so popular. Besides people wanting to brag about their kids, they also promote a sense that the world is a perfect place to live in. A place where all children get smiley face stickers on the top of their math tests, and score the winning goal at their soccer game. It’s a lovely idea, but it’s also total crap. Parenting is a messy, complicated business, and rarely idyllic.

 

Which is why I’ve come up with a better way for proud parents to decorate their cars – I’m calling them “The Real Deal” bumper stickers.  Not only will EVERY parent find something they can relate to, but my bumper stickers also won’t make the person driving behind you want to smack the shit out of you.

 

1.  For some kids, getting on the honor roll is about as probable as Macaulay Culkin getting another big movie deal – but that’s OKAY!!  Getting straight A’s isn’t nearly as important as learning not to share your poop with the people you live with….

proud parent toilet

 

 

2.  As a parent, it’s important to not only pick your battles, but also take your victories where you can get them.  No matter how small they may seem….

math.homework.

 

 

3.  Let’s face it, sometimes sitting on the sidelines of your kid’s game is BOOORRRRRING!!  There’s just so much cheering you can do before you start to pray for death – beginning with the screaming parent next to you that just ruptured their spleen (and your eardrum) because their son missed the ball.  For those parents who want to show support but would honestly rather be somewhere else, this one’s for you….

soccer parent

 

 

4.  After the age of ten, most honor students are like those cars that drive themselves.  They really don’t need parents behind the wheel directing them where to go (or taking credit for getting them there).  I know this because my daughter is like one of those freaky self-driven Google cars.  So I made this version of the “proud parent” for her because we both know the truth….

Honor.student.

 

 

5.  Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent stuck inside a metal box with a toddler is HELL….

wheels.on.bus

 

 

6.  It’s not much easier when they get to be teenagers and discover dance music that makes you want to gouge out your eardrums with a set of car keys….

homicidal radio

 

 

7.  Sure, driving around with your kids can sometimes be annoying, but those little rugrats can be a real lifesaver to the other drivers on the road.  Especially for the ones who cut you off in traffic….

giving.the.finger.

 

 

8.  It’s been a decade since I had a baby, but I remember the trauma of sleep deprivation the way most soldiers remember the horrors of war.  For all you parents out there driving around like extras from The Walking Dead, I’m here to make sure you don’t get pulled over during your commute to work….

sleep deprived

 

 

9.  Along with sleep deprivation, babies can also make you forget that you have sexual organs, and that you once used those man/lady bits for something other than creating life.  Go ahead and post your problem on the back of your car so other new parents won’t feel like the only sexually castrated Ken/Barbie dolls on the block….

babies libidos

 

 

10.  Having a teenager brings with it a different set of hardships, most of them chock full of hormones and seething hatred.  While I may get a full night’s sleep now, I have to do it with one eye open….

road.rage

 

 

11.  Most kids will test your patience on occasion.  GOOD parents learn how to control the urge to strangle their offspring when their kid throws a temper tantrum.  GREAT parents go on to promote world peace despite being given a lot of shit at home….

ghandi

 

 

12.  Just once I’d like to see a “drive carefully” bumper sticker that wasn’t put on a car to protect someone’s baby or grandma.  Like a drug lord, for instance….

drive.carefully.

 

 

13.  Trying to keep your child engaged in activities that challenge their mind and body is hard, especially when it’s Sunday afternoon and all you want to do is take a nap.  You wish they came with an auto-pilot button so you could just get a little bit of  “me” time.  And then you realize that they do…..

xbox.parent

 

 

14.  A subset problem of  the “Proud Parent” bumper stickers are these stick figure family decals.  Here’s why:  you know that creepy guy who lives in your neighborhood?  The one you checked out online to see if he was a registered sex offender or just gave you the willies for no reason?  Well, your decals just made his life a whole lot easier….

stick.figure

 

 

15.  Whether you choose to go back to work or stay at home after having kids, it’s easy to feel like the grass is always greener on the other side.  I chose the latter and after about a decade, having a misogynistic boss who doesn’t appreciate me has become a fantasy of mine….

stay at home mom

 

A Leprechaun Killed the Elf on the Shelf

As I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed last week, I saw all the frustrated Elf on the Shelf posts from my friends, and smiled to myself. It was the kind of smile a parent wears only a handful of times in their lives when they know they’ve made a brilliant parental decision. In this case, I made the choice years ago to never invite that creepy, borderline demonic, looking elf into my house.

I’m willing to do a lot of crazy stuff for my kids, but continuously fucking up my house for the 24 days leading up to Christmas isn’t one of them. This time of year is about maintaining my sanity, so I don’t accidentally strangle one of my loved ones with a strand of Christmas lights while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. Well, that and all the merry, fa-la-la crap too, I guess. But it will never, EVER be about creating more work for myself during an already hectic time of year. There are innocent lives at stake.

 

 

Move along, nothing creepy to see here....

Move along, nothing creepy to see here….

 

 

I know what all you avid Elf-on-the-Shelfers are thinking right now – What a scrooge!! It’s FUN! The kids love it! Trust me, I’m not trying to give Ebenezer a run for his money. I can be just as holly and jolly as the rest of you at this time of year – though there’s usually some sort of booze involved. If you saw me years ago when my kids were little, you’d know that I wasn’t always against making a little mischief in order to entertain my children. That’s how I know these sorts of “fun” parental pranks can spiral out of control.

 

But it wasn’t the Elf on the Shelf wreaking havoc in my home – it was a little leprechaun named Shenanigan. It started out innocent enough. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal to amuse my (then) seven year old, fairy obsessed daughter and her friend who had come over for a play date. They had dubbed themselves the “fairy finders” and they were in active pursuit of the mysterious creatures when an idea occurred to me – I thought it would be fun for them to be able to interact with their fairies. But since it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make it a leprechaun instead. I blame my husband’s Irish ancestry and his ugly collection of Tom Clark gnomes – all of which looked far creepier than the Elf on the Shelf. Case and point:

Makes the Elf on the Shelf look positively adorable by comparison.

Makes the Elf on the Shelf look positively adorable by comparison.

 

The game began with me writing little notes for them to find around the house. When they came upon the first note (written in tiny, curlicue handwriting) they were absolutely giddy with excitement. They quickly started a written dialog with someone they believed was a fairy, but quickly discovered was a magical leprechaun visiting from Ireland. I swear I wasn’t drunk at the time. Looking back, I find that fact hard to believe because when you start seeing leprechauns, there’s almost always alcohol involved.

 

I’ll admit it, I was caught up in the excitement too. I got an adrenaline rush each time I had to write the note (in ridiculously complicated print) before they came back into the room. I had to be quick, quiet, and creative; or Shenanigan would live up to his fraudulent name and once again resume life as a dusty knick-knack on my shelf.

 

After about an hour, I couldn’t take the pressure anymore. My nerves were frayed and I had become more jittery than excited each time I escaped discovery. I ended the game by writing that Shenanigan had to go visit the houses of other good little Irish boys and girls before St. Patrick’s Day ended. While disappointed, they seemed to understand the reason for his hasty departure, which surprised me. They latched onto the weird idea of Ireland’s version of Santa Claus as a rational concept, the way only little kids and stoned adults can.

 

I stupidly thought their one-time encounter with a leprechaun would become a fun childhood memory they would recount years from now. Until my bright-eyed little girl came up to me before bed that night and said, “I can’t wait for Shenanigan to come back next St. Patrick’s Day!!”

 

OH. SHIT.

 

I had a brief moment when I thought about coming clean, but how could I look into those eager little eyes and crap all over her magical moment? Answer – I couldn’t.  And so began Shenanigan’s annual trips to our house. I felt compelled to try and make each visit more magical and outlandish than the previous year; which ultimately resulted in making my house look like a bunch of drunken, Irish frat boys had visited us.

 

Shenanigan buying their loyalty with chocolates.

Shenanigan buying their loyalty with chocolates.

 

Every year, I bought loads of gaudy St. Patrick’s Day decorations from the party store, and used them to trash my house. There were streamers hanging in every room of the house with balloons to match, shamrock confetti on the floors, rainbows and Irish flags drawn on all the mirrors, green water in the toilets, and glitter scattered where ever Shenanigan had left a note for them to read.

 

This is just a small taste of the havoc that Shenanigan left in his wake…..

 

100_3913

I think this was the day my seething hatred of confetti began…..

 

 

SONY DSC

Tri-fold mirror or poor excuse for an Irish flag – you be the judge.

 

 

After several years of this self-defeating stupidity, it got to the point where I dreaded the approach of St. Patrick’s Day. While my friends and family members were having fun going to parades and getting drunk on green beer, I was making an inordinate amount of housework for myself. The glitter alone was enough to make weaker moms run in fear. Have you ever tried getting a piece of glitter off your hands? Almost impossible. Now times that chore by about A BILLION, and add in some confetti to make it extra obnoxious. Every time I threw the little foil shamrocks all over the floor, I wondered if this was the year they would kill one of my cats.

 

Taste the rainbow.

Barf the rainbow.

 

The clean-up craziness would go on for days afterward because every time I turned around, I would find more leprechaun residue on the floors or furniture. I finally decided that no sane person would willingly sign up for this bullshit. Shenanigan had to die – preferably a slow, painful death involving party favors. I won’t give you the details of how I basically killed all my children’s St. Patrick’s Day dreams – I already feel enough like Cruella DeVil without having my parental mistakes immortalized on the internet.  But suffice to say that it will give my kids something to chat about with their future therapist.

 

After this experience, it wasn’t hard for me to decide whether or not I wanted to participate in the Elf on the Shelf phenomenon. To me, it would be like inviting Shenanigan to spend a month with me. No offense to the little figment of my imagination, but he was kind of an asshole; and from all the stories I’ve heard about the creepy Christmas tattletale, so is the elf.

 

Looks like Shenanigan isn't the only one out to get the cats.

Looks like Shenanigan isn’t the only one out to get the cats.

 

Happy Hawaiian Cowboy Pajama Day!!

It’s 8 o’clock at night, and the moment of bliss most parents dream of is upon me – my kid’s bedtime.  I breathe a sigh of relief and pat myself on the back for managing to keep both my kids alive for another day.  I’m precisely five minutes away from snuggly pajamas and a glass of wine when my youngest child utters six little words that shatter all my illusions of a lazy night of couch surfing….

“It’s Hawaiian day at school tomorrow.”

My body immediately goes into crisis mode, and within a matter of seconds, I’ve mentally inventoried the entire contents of my house for anything that might qualify as even remotely Hawaiian.  With a growing sense of dread, I realize that I’ve got nothing, unless the can of pineapples in the refrigerator counts.   I waste a few more moments clinging to the hope that I can somehow fashion a shirt out of pineapple chunks and dental floss because the alternative is even more gruesome – beginning a scavenger hunt for leis and grass skirts at 8:00 at night.

Suddenly I’m launched into the parental version of  The Amazing Race – can this exhausted, frazzled mom find something Hawaiian before the clock runs out?  Or will she just give up and drink herself into oblivion?  Stay tuned and find out!!

I opt out of getting drunk (for the moment), race over to the party supply store, and squeak through the doors ten minutes before they close.  I shrink beneath the glares of the workers who silently berate me for standing in the way of their own dreams of pajamas and couch surfing.  But my remorse only lasts for a second because at the moment, my life sucks even more than theirs.

When I find the luau section, I realize that my worst nightmare has come true – it’s totally picked clean.  All the parents who paid attention to the flyer that was given out last week, telling us about Hawaiian Day, have already been here like a plague of overly organized locusts.  All that remains is one pathetically mangled, plastic lei that would make Don Ho sob on his ukulele.

The pineapple chunk shirt, it is.

Before all the inhabitants of our beautiful 50th state get pissed off at me, you should know that it’s not just “Hawaiian Day” that I have a problem with – it’s all of these special theme days that schools set up thinking it’s going to promote a sense of school spirit.  Because all they really do is make 90% of the parents frantic, and inflate the (already inflated) egos of the other 10% who see these days as their opportunity to prove to the world that they’re the BEST PARENTS EVER.  You know who you are, and if you fall into the 10% category, please stop reading.  I’m sure your time would be better served finishing up that batch of homemade Play-Doh for your kids, or continuing your search for organic crayons.

For the other 90%, please know that I feel your pain:  the panic, resentment, inadequacy, and guilt over knowing that your special themed outfit will suck in comparison to the other 10%.  But fear not.  Here on my blog you are free to bitch about all the special themed days that make you want to set the PTA president’s underwear on fire.

Here are some of mine, in no particular order (because they all suck equally)….

Hawaiian Day Not only because of the aforementioned Hawaiian Day story fiasco, but also because it seems unfair that only one of the fifty states should be celebrated every year.  Where is Disgruntled People of New York Day??  Not festive enough for you?  Well, excuse the hell out of us for not pooping sunshine and rainbows, Hawaii.

Looks like these kids got to the party store first.

Clearly these kids got to the party store first.

Crazy Hair Day – If we’re being honest, this day should really be called You’ll-Be-Scrubbing-That-Crap-Out-of-Your-Hair-For-Hours Day.  It’s not “special” enough to just leave your kid’s bed head alone in the morning.  Now, you’ve got to dye, mold, and sculpt your kid’s hair until they look like they stepped off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.

Cindy Lou Who motherfuckers.

One fish, two fish, red fish, screw this.

Pajama Day – This day is deceptively difficult.  On the surface it looks like a great opportunity to save parents time in the morning.  You get to just hop out of bed and you’re already dressed for school, kids!!  Wrong.  My kids sleep in oversized t-shirts and sweatpants that are too crappy to wear to school.  But thanks to the magic of Pajama Day, now I’ve got to go out and buy actual pajamas so my kid’s teacher doesn’t think we’re homeless.

I bet half those pajamas were hanging on a department store clothing rack 24-hours ago.

I bet half those pajamas were hanging on a department store clothing rack 24-hours ago.

Victorian/ Colonial Times Day – Stop it.  Seriously.  I’m not going to go out and spend gobs of money on time period clothing just so some school teacher can have a reason to live out her secret Little House on the Prairie or Queen Victoria fantasies.  Kids should learn about history the way nature intended – from a textbook.  Too boring?  Tough shit.

Where are parents buying these little doily hats?!  Sure as hell isn’t the party store.

Where are parents buying these little doily hats?!
Sure as hell isn’t the party store.

The Hundredth Day of School – Most of the time this day is commemorated by making the kids dress up like they’re 100-years old.  Because nothing says school spirit better than adult diapers, polyester-blends, and dentures!  Am I right?

Smile and pretend that you’re life is almost over, kids!!

Smile and pretend that your life is almost over, kids!!

Okay, now it’s your turn.  Vent, rant and rave to your heart’s content because it’s better to do it here than at Parent/Teacher conference night…..

To the Guy Who Took My Kid’s School Photo

Dear Mr. Photographer –

When I pay $60, I expect to get a picture I don’t have to hide in a closet and tell all the grandparents that we accidentally forgot to take school photos this year.  You pay that kind of money at a portrait studio, and you’ll get a photographer who’s willing to stand on their head and make duck noises just to get your kid to smile.

My son is at the awkward stage in life when he could use a little help looking his best.  I’m sure in another five years, he’ll be breaking the hearts of teenage girls everywhere, but for right now, he’s a hot mess.  His Alfalfa hair has to be tamed like a pack of pissed off porcupines every morning so he doesn’t go to school looking hung over; and he’s got a mouth full of teeth, all kind of doing their own thing, which gives him that quirky Brit-with-a-bad-dental-plan sort of look.

I know you probably make minimum wage, and you have to deal with little kids all day who pick their nose, blink, or make fart noises while you’re trying to do your job.  But I only get one of these pictures a year.  ONE.  And I have to pass it along to every relative with a wallet.  Why?  I don’t know, it’s in the parenting rulebook.  I give everyone a picture, and they pretend to give a shit.  It’s a delicate balance and you’re making it much harder than it has to be.  I know it’s not your problem, but I’ve got relatives with adorable kids who coordinate their hair bows and dresses, and kids that have no right to look beautiful when they’re supposed to be going through their gawky years.

So please, pretty please with fucking gummy bears and sprinkles on top – could you make sure my son’s shirt doesn’t look like he just rolled out of bed?  Do you know how long I obsessed over which shirt to pick out for him?  At least ten minutes…. which is nine minutes longer than I obsess over what clothes to put on my own body most days.   All I’m asking is that you take a few seconds to straighten out the shirt I ironed, so I can show my family that for one brief, shining moment, he didn’t look like a hobo.

Granted, your depiction of my son in his rumpled (yet lightly starched) clothes was a much more realistic account of what he looks like on an everyday basis.  But if I wanted realism, I’d have taken a snapshot of him in his pajamas while he shouted G-rated expletives at his video games, and saved myself the $60.  I don’t think you understand the gravity of this situation.  This picture will be immortalized on his Grandma’s wall of fame, next to the aforementioned Gerber babies and Gap kids my son has the unfortunate luck to be related to.  So I’d really appreciate it if you would work with me!! 

Sincerely yours,

Mommy Dearest

P.S. – On a more positive note, I wanted to let you know that I noticed the vast improvement you made in getting him to smile this year.  Last year, he looked like he was trying to smile while passing a kidney stone, but this time, despite a mouth full of rebellious teeth, his smile looked lovely.  I’d love to learn your secret before the holidays so I can avoid last year’s Christmas card picture fiasco.  My kids were so traumatized by that photo shoot, that it took them until Valentine’s day before anyone could say the word “Cheese!” around them without causing them to scream bloody murder.  We’ve been banned from three local pizzerias already….

aidan.school.pic

Are You Cool Enough For Michael Jeffries?

If you’re involved in any kind of social media, chances are you’ve read about the statement made by the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael Jeffries.  If not, I don’t want to be the only one who’s holding a torch and pitchfork, so take a look at this….

What a multi-million dollar douchebag.

What a multi-million dollar douchebag.

When I first read about this, I was offended on so many levels:  as a curvy woman whose left boob probably wouldn’t fit into an Abercrombie & Fitch’s size L t-shirt; as a parent who is trying like hell to raise kids who are accepting, kind, and respectful of others; and as a decent human being who doesn’t like it when someone acts like an asshole – especially when that asshole is marketing to kids.

When I brought this up with my 14-year old daughter and decisively told her that we would never buy another piece of Abercrombie & Fitch clothing, she got angry…. which in turn made me angry.  I wanted her to join in the fight and be as outraged as I was about this man’s prejudicial opinions, but she wasn’t.  After a few minutes of bickering back and forth, it was clear that neither one of us wanted to budge.  So, we left the subject lying on the ground like a hot coal we didn’t know how to extinguish.  She stormed off to school and my head erupted like Krakatoa.

Michael Jeffries can kiss my XL SIZED ASS!!!!

Michael Jeffries can kiss my XL SIZED ASS!!!!

Once I simmered down, I thought about our conversation. In hindsight, I probably should have waited to talk about this when I could approach it logically rather than emotionally.  Although, given the fact that this subject is a bit of a hot button for me, I might’ve had to wait until she was collecting social security before I could’ve talked about it logically.

But I should have at least told her what I read and then asked her opinion on the subject, rather than acting like the parent Nazi.  Because once you tell a teenager they can’t do something, it becomes irresistible.  Even if you pick something they wouldn’t normally have done – like telling them that they’re never allowed to inject puppies with heroin…. you’d better believe some puppies will be tripping before bedtime.

I think my daughter saw not being allowed to wear Abercrombie & Fitch as the social status stock market crash of 2013.  Kids like to fit in because it means more friends and less bullying.  But often times, fitting in comes with a big price tag – in this case, it’s $58 for a pair of sweatpants…. and your immortal soul.

The message I wanted to send to my daughter, and to Michael Jeffries for that matter, is that it’s wrong to discriminate against someone based solely on his or her appearance.  And when we bear witness to that atrocity, we need to rally against it and prove that we care more about justice than we do about the label on our shirt.

BAN THE MOOSE!!!

I think the only reason Michael Jeffries still has a job, is because he chose overweight people as his target.  If he had blatantly stated that he didn’t want any minorities wearing Abercrombie & Fitch, he probably would’ve been fired and then burned over a pyre of his own overpriced clothing (or at least made to pay $50 million dollars in racial discrimination lawsuits like he did back in 2004).  But it seems a person’s weight is still fair game in the world of discrimination – whereas discrimination based on race, religion and sex (while still undeniably present) are a bit more taboo, more camouflaged  behind bureaucratic bullshit.

It is still socially acceptable to crack a few fat jokes, and portray overweight people in the media as lazy, unattractive and gluttonous.  These movie/TV characters are often seen as punchlines, not people – sadly, I think the same holds true off the big screen as well…. especially where Michael Jeffries and his stupid moose boxer shorts are concerned.

By saying that he only markets to “cool and good-looking” kids is the equivalent of saying that he doesn’t want ugly, fat kids wearing his brand (or working in his stores).  This guy has balls the size of cantaloupes not only for making such a brazen statement, but also for saying it while looking like this….

The only thing this guy should be railing against  is plastic surgery and botox injections.

The only thing this guy should be railing against
is plastic surgery and botox injections.

But there is one thing I love about Michael Jeffries’ statement – that he shot himself in the foot with it.  The world now knows him for the shallow, elitist prick he is, and it’s my fervent wish that his company will be deemed just as pathetic as his attempts to hold onto his youth.

 

Dear Dad…..

I got the call from Lesley this morning at 6:00am.  I can’t even imagine the strength it took for her to make that call – having to somehow find the words to tell me that my Dad had passed away last night.  She did the best she could…. tried so hard to be gentle.  I lost my shit anyway.  I didn’t hear anything she said beyond, “He’s gone.”  I couldn’t hear anything over the sound of my own screaming and wailing.

There were no questions at that moment – Why?  When?  How?  It didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that yesterday you were here, and now you’re gone.  And with you, all the memories we had yet to create.

You just retired a week ago.  You were counting down the days until retirement for the last few years – couldn’t wait to practice your golf swing, and start racking up the miles on your bicycle.  You spent the last fifty years busting your ass, and you were finally going to enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.  I could practically hear the smile in your voice over the phone as you told me about how you were going to sleep in as late as you wanted on your first day of freedom.

I should have called you to find out how it felt to not have to wake up to an alarm clock that morning.  I thought of calling you a dozen times this past week, but when I finally dialed your number, it was too late.

I got your answering machine….

“Hey Dad, it’s Linda.  I’m calling you in the middle of the day just because I can now – we’re finally on the same schedule.  How cool is that?!  I hope you’re out playing golf or doing something fun.  Give me a call back when you can.  Love you.”

But that’s not all I wanted to say…..

Had you been there to pick up the phone, I would have told you that I had thought a lot about our birthdays coming up – you were turning 70 and I was turning 40 this summer.  I wanted to say that I didn’t want anything from you that came in a box.  That suggestion I made about the diamond earrings was just a joke.  We both know I’m not the diamonds-are-a-girl’s-best-friend type.  They would go horribly with my converse sneakers.

What I wanted more than anything was a memory.  Growing up with hundreds of miles between us, we didn’t have much opportunity to create memories together.  Jobs, kids, crazy schedules, and the physical distance always seemed to get in the way.  I think we were both counting on your retirement clearing away some of those obstacles, and finally allowing us some time to get to know one another better.  I know I was counting on it.  I didn’t realize just how much until that time was taken away from me with one phone call.

I feel grief-stricken.  Robbed.  Angry.  Regretful.

I’m mad at myself for taking so much for granted.  Even though your health wasn’t the best these past few years, I still stupidly thought you would be there to create all the memories I had only dreamt about.  I was going to share one of those dreams with you over the phone that day….

I imagined us going on one of your 30-mile bike rides together this summer; both to commemorate our milestone birthdays and to stubbornly prove that age is just a meaningless number.  I thought one or two days of pedaling together, bitching about the hot Florida heat, and laughing at all the old-timers in spandex bike shorts, sounded like the perfect birthday present.  Then at the end of the day we’d compare sore muscles to see whose ass hurt more, and you’d attempt to teach me how to cook one of your signature dishes – all the while I’d be nodding my head, but hopelessly lost.  After dinner you’d insist on topping off the meal with dessert – who am I to argue with homemade strawberry shortcake?  But it would taste extra sweet that night because we’d know that we earned every one of those delicious calories.

That’s just one of a thousand would-be memories I have swimming around in my head right now.  I’m trying desperately to hang on to the happy memories we did manage to create and let go of the rest, but I have to admit that right now I’m not having much luck.

I can’t promise that the sting of regret won’t taint those happy memories, but here’s what I can promise:

I promise to take that 30-mile bike ride this year, even though I won’t have you pedaling by my side.

I promise to honor both of our weight loss efforts, and pass up on more donuts than I eat…. I can’t promise the same about coffee cake – but I know you’ll understand.

I promise to make the most out of the gifts you gave me:  your sarcastic sense of humor, your love and talent for the written word, and your immense capacity to love anything on four furry-feet.

I promise not to complain too much about some of the physical traits I inherited from you:  the odd long torso/short legs combo, the ability to gain weight when even pondering a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts, and that deep crease I get in between my eyes when I’m looking at someone like they’re nuts.

I’d like to ask you to promise me something in return.  Promise me that there is something beyond this crazy, fucked up world where nobody seems to ever get what they deserve.  Promise me that you’ll do your best to protect and comfort those of us who are still stuck down here, missing you.  And promise me that when it’s my time to go, you’ll be waiting there for me.

I hope there are bicycles in heaven….

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