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Mommies just don't understand...


It's way too early to start having guest entries here, but because it's Friday and because my good friend Tracy offered, I'm going to let her tell a little story. As background: I met Tracy damn near 10 years ago when I was a strappling wannabe writer living as an Air Force brat in Germany. Tracy was going to school in Frankfurt, and I was kickin' it bratwurst-style in Wiesbaden. We met at a high school journalism conference in Nurmberg. We were both gawky, awkward teenaged writers (in fact I think we both had braces at the time) who would one day turn into gawky, awkward adult writers.

We hit it off and went out to the Christmas Market where we partook of hot wine that warmed our underaged stomachs and when we parted ways we exchanged addresses and became pen pals for like five years.

Tracy moved to the U.S. and I lost touch with her evenutally, until she resurfaced two years ago, married, with a son, and back in Germany.

She cracks me up. Back in the day, we used to call each other "angst twins" mostly because we would send each other these ridiculously long 20-page letters, burning off all that youthful writing enegy.

Here's something she wrote just for Terribly Happy:


So, I was going to Dublin for the weekend, and knowing what prices are like there and how the Irish love a good party, I decided to make a gift of a big honkin’ bottle of Jack Daniel's and a carton of Marlboro Lights. Problem was, time, as is it’s wont to do, slipped completely through my fingers like so much Irish Stout, and I was left with an hour until the Canadian Exchange, home of cheap liquor and ciggies (and oddly little else) closed…and just 45 minutes until I had to get Nicholas, aka der Kleiner Kaiser, from school. No problem, I figured, it would be close, but I could make it. Heck, I wouldn’t even need to bring my car, and I could fit in some much needed cardiovascular exercise into the mix. Wunderbar! Nothing like killing not two, but three birds with one stone.

Breathless, from the briskness of both the air and the walk (no leisurely strolling for me!), I arrived at the Canadian Exchange and bought the biggest bottle of Jack Daniel's I could find (1.75 liters!) and a cartoon on Marlboro Lights for a grand total of just $32. For that price, one could hardly afford not to become a chain-smoking lush. As the clerk bagged my purchases, I smirked to myself, eagerly anticipating the looks on my host’s eyes when they saw my goodies.

Then, back out into the brisk walking in brisk air I went, congratulating myself all the way at what a good little multi-tasker I am. I even called my friend Jen up on my Handy, just to get even more done. Of course some could argue that gossiping is hardly a necessary task, but they don’t know Jen and how despondent she gets when I don’t remember to call her daily with all the dish.

And sure enough, I made it to school just in time, joining the gaggle of Mommies come to collect their young. Then it hit me…the clerk had put my purchases not in a brown paper sack, but in a plastic bag. A clear plastic bag.

Now, let me explain that Herr Kaiser goes to the school with the über-Mommies with the uber-Kinder…really it’s quite yuppie and chi-chi and full of wooden toys and interesting theories on the proper way to educate young minds. It’s Soccer Mom Heaven. I think it’s in the contract somewhere that one must come to pick up the children fresh from the gym, in one’s minivan or pushing a jog stroller. Let’s just say that these are not the kind of mommies that fly to Ireland just to party with people they don’t know, much less bring them big honkin’ bottles of J.D. and ciggies.

And worse, when I decided with the Mister that we would send Herr Kaiser to the chi-chi school, I made a solemn vow to myself that I would not repeat the mistakes of last year, when I showed up to Frau Czarina’s, my niece’s, school to volunteer in my Sex Pistols T-shirt. No, this year, would be different, I promised myself, this year I would fit in if it killed me. I’d wear twinsets and khakis, I’d talk about safe subjects like where to go in Poland to buy the best pottery and recipes for casseroles. If that didn’t work, I would even cut off the crowning glory of my womanhood in favor of a nice practical haircut. I would make them accept me, even if I killed myself in the effort!

Sure, a more reasonable person wouldn’t particularly care about winning the acceptance of a bunch of people they had nothing in common with, but then again, a more reasonable person wouldn’t be making assumptions about my reasonableness. When Herr Kaiser was born, I decided that the best way to raise children was to be as bland as possible, waiting in the background, giving them room to develop. You know all those movies with quirky parents? Their kids hated them, right? Oh sure, by the end of the movie they came to realize how blessed they are to have such lovable kooks as parents, but I’ve come to the conclusion, after 26 years of hard living, that while life is often like the first part of a movie, it very rarely turns out like the second part.

Thus, my desire to be bland was born, though the execution of it has been quite the chore. For example, I no longer have any good stories to tell, as mine all seem to begin "Okay, so we decided to drive to Nashville with this 12-inch dildo…" And you would not believe how few Soccer Moms consider The Velvet Underground to be appropriate play group background music. So, I learned to shut the heck up and invested in some nice "Wee Sing Silly Songs" CDs and hoped for the best.

Alas, there was one thing I hadn’t counted on: genetics. Between having a father who was a go-go dancer for a punk rock band and a mother who was a teenage vegan anarchist, it really shouldn’t have been a shock that Herr Kaiser would turn out, well, weird-like. I should have known that there was no hope when he asked to be read Wired magazine instead of Dr. Seuss when he was three, and the first words he could read, after pizza, were "Microsoft Windows." Or maybe the clue-stick should have hit me when I overheard him discussing the merits of Windows2K over NT with his father one morning while the other fathers and sons were happily watching "WWF Smackdown." But no, I choose to remain in ignorant bliss, until the day I caught him studiously going over the HTML source code for… yup,hit me like a ton of bricks it did.

Still, I tried, even though in my heart I knew that there was no hope for me and my dream of a nice normal family with nice just above average but not enough to be scary children. No Lake Woebegone for me! And I saw it in the other mommy’s eyes, when I strolled up with my bag of booze and ciggies, I saw the look that says "This explains a lot." I saw their eyes wander over to Herr Kaiser, and I could hear them thinking "No wonder this poor child has had to grow up so soon, what with his chain smoking lush of a mother and all." And I looked at them, and smiled and they smiled back and at that moment there was understanding… I would be the kooky mommy, somebody for them to talk about après gym over coffee (every school needs at least one) and I would be free. Free to be me, booze, ciggies, 12-inch dildos and all.

Terribly Happy note: there will be at least a two-week moratorium on the word "dildo." Feel free to come back and visit, knowing the next few entries will be entirely dildo-free.


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