Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Miss Smartie (Car) Pants

I saw two Smart Cars on Earth Day. They were zipping around like a couple of gnats, flaunting their fuel economy. In case you haven't seen one, they are about the size of a dining room table -- about five feet wide by eight feet long. They are just so darn cute! Like a Barbie car, only bigger.

A little bigger.

Since we can't have a pet, I'm thinking of petitioning His Royal Highness, the King, for a Smart Car of my very own. I have my approach all planned out:

"Look what followed me home, Honey. Isn't it cute! Can I keep it? Please, please, puhhh-leeeze?

It doesn't shed or bark, and it would be cheaper to feed than the kids. Look at those little tires, it's never going to be very big, so it won't take up as much room as the kids, either.

Remember that playhouse we never built for the Princess? We could park the Smart Car in there and she would still have room to play. Or maybe that tool shed you've always wanted. OK, that I always wanted. There'd be room for the Smart Car and the lawn mower that we don't have. And the weedwacker, and the snowblower, and the bikes....

But it might get lonely out there all by itself. We'll have to get a ticking clock or a radio to keep it company. What am I saying? It already has a radio!

Yep, it would be pretty dark and lonely out in the shed. And cold. Maybe we could fix up a place for it in the family room. I'm sure it would fit through the patio doors. We wouldn't have to worry about the carpet, either, because it's already house-trained. I mean, they do call it a Smart Car.

I promise I would take good care of it and play with it and wash it and exercise it. I'd only drive it in to town and only on paved, two-lane roads. You didn't think I was going to drive it on the interstate, did you? Pppfff. Please. Are you trying to get me killed?"

Smart Car are being marketed as super fuel-efficient. But I'm not sure how practical they are for a family. I mean, it's only a two-seater, so if I wanted to take the Little Prince and Princess with me, I'd have to make two trips. So much for saving fuel. And there's only room for about two bags of groceries in there, so I'd have to go to the store every other day.

Practical, schmactical. It's still cute.

The real reason I want a Smart Car is because last year's quest for a motor scooter was unsuccessful. I had images of me flitting around like Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday," wearing a flouncy skirt, tasteful ballet flats, a jaunty scarf around my neck.

His Royal Highness had images of me with road rash covering 90 percent of my body. He said something about me not being able to walk across the street without tripping. Coordination is so overrated.

I promised him I would always wear a helmet. (Change the image to blue and white striped sailor shirt, white capris, white Keds, white helmet. I would still be stunning.) Maybe I can sell the Smart Car as a whole-body helmet! Much safer than a scooter. As long as I don't hit a car. Or a squirrel. Or a grasshopper.

The Smart Car would also be a lot more enjoyable to drive than a scooter in the rain and cold. Snow wouldn't be a problem either.

If I got stuck in a snowbank, I could just pick up the car and carry it home.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Up Your Sunny Side

Sometimes I think my writing is too acerbic. Too sarcastic. Too mean. "Lighten up!" I tell myself. Someday the Little Prince and Princess will go through my writings and see only the ramblings of a crazy, cranky old lady. How will they ever reconcile that image with the dazzling ray of sunshine that is the real me?"

In an attempt to leave a more accurate record of my cheerful demeanor for posterity, today's posting will be unrelentingly positive. No more Gloomy Gus here! I'm on the lookout for silver linings. I'm fastening on my rose-colored glasses with duct tape. You've been warned.

I felt just like a Disney princess this morning as I awoke to the melodious chirping of the birds outside my window. At 4:30 a.m. The little darlings couldn't wait to herald the dawn. Oh! To live without the restraints of measured time enforcing arbitrary concepts like: sunrise isn't until 6 a.m. Oh! To be as cheerful as they, lifting my voice to greet the promise of a new day. At 4:30 a.m.

Our newspaper delivery person obviously shared the birds' joy. His concerto of car stereo, faulty muffler and door slamming brought me back to consciousness when slumber dulled my attention to the songbirds. Happy was I the birds increased their volume to ensure my rapt attention.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun shone brightly. The grass sparkled like emeralds, tossed about by a breeze bearing greetings directly from our generous, frost-bitten brothers in Alaska. What folly to expect spring weather to be warm. Such narrow-minded thinking!

It was a perfect day to enjoy nature. Or better still, to run time-consuming errands requiring driving. If I hadn't been out on the road today I may have forgotten that just because someone puts their turn signal on, they should not feel obligated to turn. Good for you, unknown driver! Defy conventions! Turn wherever and whenever you want. Or not.

Those energetic, mucus-enhanced, exuberant youths in the dentist's waiting room? Such a pleasure to share their company! I had no idea snot bubbles could get that large. It's true, America's Got Talent!

So what if the appointment ran a little longer than expected. So what if I didn't have time to stop in at the coffee shop. Who needs a little, pick-me-up latte when they are feeling stressed? Not me. No siree. I'm high on life! I'm no slave to Mr. Caffeine or his little buddy Mr. Brown Sugar Syrup, floating around all nice and warm and smooth under a soft cloud of foamed milk.

Pardon me. It just gets so hard to type when I can't see the screen because of (snif) the tears. But, like I was saying, getting up to go after a tissue is a good thing, and ..., and ..., yes, I think I'm OK now. Because I've saved the best for last! The perfect ending to the perfect day, brought to you the Visa commercial way:

Making three trips to the softball fields because I forgot the chairs and then the team's checkbook? $1.90 in gas money. Loosing feeling in my fingers and toes because of those air-sharing Alaskans? $7.50 for ultra-delux sweatsocks. Sitting behind a dog making the exact same sounds as Snot hacking up a bone in Christmas Vacation? $25 for a new pair of jeans. (I just about wet mine laughing). Watching the Little Princess' team crush the opposition? Priceless.

Whew. A whole day of cheerful. That wasn't so bad.

But I am reminded of the old saying, "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Catch the Wave

Hot Snot on a Silver Platter! I have a guar-an-teeeed ba-zillion dollar invention idea. We're talking multi-million dollar lottery jackpot, load up the truck and head to Beverleee amounts of money.

You are all hereby sworn to secrecy or something very near like it until I can apply for a patent, registered trademark, and copyright. I just can't decide which to do first, fill out those forms or call Billy Mays and tell him to box up all that Might Putty 'cause we're goin' big time, baby! I tell you this idea will make my name synonymous with Ron Popeil and the Ronco Pocket Fisherman. It's not just the best thing since sliced bread its..., well, it's way better.

Anyhoo, about the new idea. The mind-numbing brilliance of this invention can best be appreciated when you start with the inspiration. Get ready, 'cause you are going to bruise your butt kicking yourself for not thinking of this first. But you didn't. I did. And the title of "World's Best Inventor" is not plural.

There I was, making my leisurely commute (8-minutes in heavy traffic) from the 'burbs into the thriving metropolis for another morning of church secretary-ing. Heaven knows I am typically a model driver. I sit up straight in my seat, hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, attention focused entirely on my surroundings, radio and cell phone set to mute so as not to distract.

But that day I was slouched in my seat, left hand pointer finger curled around the steering wheel at approximately the 7:43 position, right hand cradling my travel mug of coffee which was balanced on my right leg. As I crested a hill I met a friendly Iowan, giving me a neighborly wave. By the time I adjusted my grip on my mug and raised it in a half-assed wave/toast, they were just a speck in my rear view mirror. There is no way they could have seen my friendly reply.

Unfortunately, this has happened before. There are probably tens of people, maybe even less, out there wondering who is that snotty beyatch in the black Honda and why didn't she return my wave? This is Iowa, after all, where most people drive around with one hand on top of the steering wheel in a perpetual half-wave.

I am not a beyatch. Ok, maybe I am. But I am not a non-waving beyatch. It's just the coffee, and the holding, and the timing, and the potential for spilling. It's complicated.

Oh sure, some might suggest that I stop drinking coffee while I'm driving. Hellooo, this is me we're talking about. Why not just suggest that I stop breathing while driving? Obviously another solution is needed.

Something like (drum roll) the Auto-Auto Wave. (Applause, "Ohhs" and "Ahhs" are all appropriate at this time). You'll never again fail to return a friendly greeting when you use the Automatic-Automobile Waver (patent pending, all rights reserved).

Just attach the fake hand and cleverly disguised hinge to the top of your steering wheel. A rod made of space age polymers connects the stub end of the (fake) hand to an comfortable and stylish harness on the driver's (real) knee. All it takes is a gentle wiggle of the leg to cause the hand to raise up off the steering wheel in... a friendly wave!

Never again be thought of as inconsiderate. Show the world what a friendly person you are. Make someone's day with a cheerful greeting.

But wait! Call now and we'll include the Auto-Naughto Wave for those times when you don't need to use all five fingers to get the message across.

Because one good turn deserves another, but cutting me off in traffic deserves it more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring It On Me

As I was hunkering down for yet another winter weather advisory during "spring," it occurred to me that we really need a term that means "fake spring."

We call those rare, beautifully warm, late autumn days "Indian Summer," so why not have some nickname for those brief stretches of warm weather in early-early spring? Those days that trick us into putting away the snow pants, boots, heavy coats, hats, mittens and flannel jammies. Those intoxicatingly sunny days that Mother Nature follows up with a smack upside the head mix of snow, rain and wind? Or as I like to call it, Crap In A Cloud.

It fools me every year. A couple of nice, warm days and I move the turtlenecks to the bottom of the drawer. The Little Princess fell for it this year, too. Every morning for a week I had to send her back to her room to change into long pants and real shoes. Finally, with my Mom of the Year stock falling faster than the S&P 500, I let her wear her flip flops to school.

It snowed that day. Not much, but still.

That was also the day I also sent the Little Prince to school without his hat or gloves. I'm sure there were a few non-Mom teachers who were eying that Child Protective Services speed-dial button on their phones. On the up-side, the children now listen to my weather predictions with awe and reverence and don't even roll their eyes when I tell them to put on long sleeves.

Global warming be darned, this is not a new weather trick. When I was a kid, those first few warm spring days would lure all the little old ladies out of their houses to putter around in their yards. They'd rake leaves off flower beds and pick up sticks, their floral house dresses and chiffon scarves ruffled by gentle breezes.

Then in a colossal April Fools joke, Mother Nature would laugh, turn the thermostat back to 35 degrees and crank up the wind machine. The ladies would venture out again, floral hems peeking out from beneath woolen overcoats, knit scarves securing the chiffon scarves, rubber overshoes flopping about their ankles as they replaced the Styrofoam igloos covering the roses and spread sheets over tender flower buds.

Today their counterparts wear shiny, bead-dazzled warm up suits and flock to the casinos. You can't blame them, the weather in there is much better.

Fool me once spring weather, shame on you. Fool me over and over again and obviously we need government intervention. A task force must be assembled, funds must be appropriated, commissions appointed. But first we need a catchy title, which I would be glad to furnish (for a small consultant's fee, of course).

"Fake Spring" is brief and to the point, but a little harsh. "Faux Spring" has a nicer ring, but is a bit snobbish and hoity-toity. It needs to be a name that captures the essence of promises made, but not made good.

Like Politician Spring. Or more accurately, Candidate Spring.

Maybe even Office of Spring-Elect.