Friday, November 26, 2010

In the Dough(nuts)

Blogger's note: Perhaps the most ill-conceived blog ever.

If I ever decide to pursue a life of crime, I have already chosen a mentor: The "Burley Bandit."

Yes, I know bank robbery is illegal (jokes about interest rates and loans aside). Yes I know the "Burly Bandit" was captured due to some of the very factors I find interesting, inspiring, and more than slightly humorous.

The Burly Bandit's story first caught my attention in a very short -- two or three paragraphs -- news brief. I will admit my fancy was more taken with what wasn't said about the case than what was. Just the facts Ma'am: a Greyhound bus driver was arrested for allegedly robbing 11 banks along his bus route. He spent most of the money at strip joints.

I do hate to let facts interrupt a good story, so let me just replay how my imagination ran away with those tantalizing tidbits.

It was estimated the Bandit stole nearly $100,000, but had only $10,000 at the time of his arrest. He blew close to $90,000 on a car (or car stero, depending on the source), strippers and steaks. Sure he broke the law, but he had a damn good time! Yeah, he's goin' to the big house, but he's gonna have stories to tell....

That was my main inspiration. If I ever do something stupid and illegal, I'm not gonna buy diamonds or furs or fancy trips. I'm gonna have fun NOW, damnit! Forget goin' to the casino, I'm just not the gambling type. And I doubt I could find $90,000 worth of male revues. I'm more the immediate gratification type anyway.

Second, he (allegedly) robbed banks along his bus route.

Think about it.

Helloo! No one noticed the big, silver bus idling outside the bank while the alarms were going off? No one on the bus thought it was a little strange when the driver made an unscheduled stop at a bank, then came running out wearing black and white stripes and a black mask, carrying big, white bags with dollar signs on them? (What, real life isn't like a Bugs Bunny cartoon?) Maybe he spent some of that ill-gotten booty on strippers and beer for the bus! ("No, Ocifer, we didn't notice anything unusual. 'Course Fantasia's set had just started....)

Nah, I just had to go and burst that little bubble of rampant imagination by doing a little Google work (yes, I wasted time Googling this guy). Turns out he didn't use the bus for the heists (so they say...). But he did rent a U-Haul truck for one job -- his last, as it turned out. Note to self: never use a U-Haul as a get-away car.

So, what did my demented little mind see as guidelines in this story? Immediate gratification and the old Realtor's mantra: "location, location, location".

I'm not concerned about sharing my plans for my criminal escapades, because I fully expect to be caught. Burn bright, burn brief, have some fun. I've already picked out a fugitive name: The Waddling Bandit.

I will chose which banks I rob based on their proximity to donut and/or coffee shops. I envision a pattern of concentric circles, with each heist getting closer to the crullers. When I hit the last job I will truly be the "Waddling Bandit." I'll have to ride my motorized scooter from the bank to the bismark (little "b") because I'll get winded just thinking about walking.

I'll be a folk hero by the time they get my case on CSI (my eyebrown twin, Brooke Shields, will play me). My undoing? Not an idling diesel, but a trail of chocolate sprinkles and powdered sugar finger prints.

The real genius of my plan? A naive dependence on the old stereotype of cops hanging out at the donut shop. I'll be hiding in plain site.

With sprinkles.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ghostfish Tales

October, especially late October is the time for spooky, weird things, right? That's how I explained the latest apparition at the royal castle.

I believe there are, at the very least, two explanations for most things: the logical (or boring) explanation, and the the "whoo-hoo" crazy (much more fun) explanation. Of course I favor the "whoo-hoo." So, given my fondness for the "whoo-hoo," and the spooky-weird spirit of late October, allow me to present...

The Tale of the Haunted Aquarium

I was enjoying the warmth of the autumn sun, streaming through the windows of the royal chariot as I made my way hastily back to the castle after another day of holding raucous hordes of elementary students at bay. The 5-minute commute offered a little precious decompression time, so direly needed before facing the raucous horde of my own children and their attack cat. My reverie was broken by a call from the Princess.

"Does this mean we're getting fish?"

Does what mean we're getting fish?

"The aquarium in the driveway. Can we keep it?"

Now, due to its unique situation near the bottom of a hill, the edge of a curve, and who knows what other natural and supernatural formations of land, time and space, the castle seems to be at the epicenter of the Vortex of Lost Toys. We have had all manner of inflatable toys -- beach balls, swim rings, a pool cover, and bouncy balls -- blow into our yard and come to a stop. Once they blow in, they don't blow out, no matter how long I try to ignore them. We've even found a small tent, scarf and gloves at the end of our driveway.

But never an aquarium.

I assumed the Princess meant a little one- or two-gallon fish bowl, probably plastic. But no. There settled neatly by the garage door was a full-sized, 20-gallon, glass and metal fish aquarium. Complete with gravel, lid, net and a couple of shells. All very dry, neat, clean and tidy. And mysterious. No note, no message on the answering machine, no nothing. I assumed someone just got the wrong address when passing along an unused tank. But the days passed an no one returned to claim it.

There was something about that gravel. It was so dull and brown. It reminded me of a desert scene. And there was no cute little castle, treasure chest, "no fishing" sign, or plastic seaweed. Hmmm... boring brown rocks like you would find in...


No note, no message, and no inhabitant!! Had our mysterious benefactor merely dropped off an aquarium? Or did they drop off an aquarium AND SOME CREEPY CRAWLY/SLITHERY creature that was now on the loose? Yes, it was cold enough out to slow down any cold-blooded critters, but the aquarium was situated right next to the garage door, which the children had opened and left open when they arrived home.

Was there something hiding in the dark corners of the semi-warm garage (or under all the toys strewn across the garage floor forcing me to park in the driveway?). Would it attack as I carefully picked my way through the garage? Or would it bide its time, discover a hidden entrance into the house and hide in my shoes, under the bed, behind the toilet or in the cupboard? Venomous or not, I'm sure the shock would do me in.

I moved the aquarium out to the end of the driveway and amused myself by sticking humorous signs on it: "I'm lost! Am I yours? Take me home!" and an owl asking "Whooo do I belong to?" I asked around the neighborhood and quizzed the kids. No one knew anything about it. But I felt sure an answer was out there somewhere.

I had just handed out the last of the Halloween candy to the trick-or-treaters and had bundled the Prince and Princess off to bed when the phone rang. The King was, I believed, ensconced in his office quietly working and too busy to answer the call. He had been working hard all day and, come to think of it, I couldn't remember the last time he had ventured out of his basement office. Strange, but I didn't have time to wonder about it now. I wanted to answer the phone before the shrill -- it had an oddly shrill ring to it this time -- and incessant ringing awoke the slumbering angels.

A deep raspy voice responded to my greeting.

"Did you find the aquariummmmmmm?" it asked. The line crackled and hissed with static.

"Yes, but..." I began to ask, confused.

"And how is Fluuuuuffy? Are you keeping him well fehhhhhhhhhhd? Bwahahaha..."

The maniacal laughter was cut off by a loud boom of thunder. At that moment the line went dead and the lights flickered before the electricity went out completely. The house took on an oppressive silence, broken only by the sound of a footstep... and another, another, another, another, another, another, and another. Eight heavy footsteps on the stairway from the basement. A flash of lightning illuminated eight gigantic, inhuman, hairy legs inching closer, closer....

In the interest of indulging my fancy, that's how the story should have ended. Unfortunately, at this point our story takes on a decidedly logical, boring ending. The aquarium provider had, indeed, gotten names mixed up when delivering the aquarium. He then was called out of town and did not realize the mistake until I had sprouted several more gray hairs.

But that doesn't explain the half-dollar sized, black, fuzzy spider I squashed near the garage door. Or that strange rustling noise coming from the furnace room.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rough Draft

As I look back over my spotty record of bloging, I am shocked! Shocked and appalled at my inability to blog regularly and consistently. Well, no more! No more, I say! I shall sit here and type until my fingers are nothing but bloody stumps. Or until I finish a blog entry. Whichever comes first. And I'm not getting up until I'm done!

After I sort the laundry, that is. I can take short laundry duty breaks. And potty breaks, of course. And food breaks. To recap: laundry, potty, eat and blog. That's it for the day.

I had a vision the other day. A beautiful vision that filled me with happiness, contentment and...

What? No, we're not out of juice. Look in the.... No, no, next to the.... Oh, for heaven's sake. I'll be right there.

So, as I was saying. I was zipping along the interstate when I saw...

Clean shorts? They're in the dryer. No one will see you if you run downstairs in your undies. Haven't you ever seen "Risky Business?" Of course not. Just a minute, I'll get them.

... the most beautiful thing! At first I thought it was a mirage, a trick of the morning sun reflecting off a dip in my caffeine level.

Speaking of caffeine, maybe a little sum-sum would be a good "perk" me up about now. Heh, heh, heh. A little coffee humor there. I crack me up sometimes. Can't type and drink hot coffee at the same time, so maybe I'll check my email quick.

But there it was, shimmering up ahead in the distant traffic. Well, not really shimmering, because it was brown...

Crappity crap crap! I forgot all about finishing up those reports for the church!

...a brown beacon calling to me from...

What do you mean the file's too big to email? I don't have time to drive to the church, fire up that computer and download everything to a flash drive. "Computers will make your life easier" my fanny!

... just up ahead. I put on my best NASCAR moves and pulled up right behind...

Of course we can have lunch now. What would you like? No, we're not going to Olive Garden. Let me rephrase that: What would you like that we have in the kitchen?

... a big, beautiful, 18-wheeler. Emblazoned across the back was...

Oh, jeez! I forgot to call the Queen Mother this morning. She should be back from lunch by now, but not completely in nap mode yet.

... the single most enticing word in the English language.

EEEEP!!! You're dripping all over the floor! Get a towel! NO! NO! Not with those muddy feet! Stay right there! I'll get it! Don't move!


If it takes the kids 10 minutes to get every bucket, pail, squirt gun and shovel out of the garage, why does it take so much longer to pick them up?

Forget the Porsche. Forget the Mini Cooper. I want my own, personal semi-tanker filled with coffee.

Dinner? Didn't we just eat lunch?

For a brief, blissful moment I just cruised behind the Holy Grail of coffeedom, fantasizing about driving my own tanker truck of coffee. Just me, my rig and an endless supply of java, making our way 'cross the U.S. of A.

Holy Crap! That's the smoke alarm!

It would be WAY better than those dinky, drink-holder hats. I mean, they only hold two cans. A mere 24-ounces. This would be an entire tanker-full!

Could someone please get the phone?

Yeah, I'd have to work out the whole freshness thing.

Hellooo. Phone's ringing.

And I'd probably have to hit every rest stop along the way.

Hey! Ya' phone's ringin'!

Plus a few gas station restrooms in between.

Oh, for the luva... Yes. No. No. Hmmm, Culver or Branstad? I'm waiting for door number three. The biggest problem facing Iowans today? Too many friggin' political calls! Hello? Anyone there?

Then I pulled close enough to read the fine-ish print.

Bed time! Bedtime, bedtimebedtimebedtime! Bed. Time. Now!

It wasn't actually a tanker full of coffee. It was a gas station tanker advertising...

Of course I'll tuck you in. Yes, and tell you a story. And rub your back.

... "best coffee on the..."

Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yellowstone Light

I usually try not to give parents advice on how to raise their kids, because I figure my track record is not quite perfect yet (close, but not quite). However, I do have one suggestion I think is excellent:

If at all possible, have your child win a trip to Yellowstone that allows you to tag along.

I don't mean as a chaperon. Ohhh no, that involves way too much work. I mean "tag along" as in enjoy all the benefits and none of the responsibilities. It's nice work if you can get it. And, thanks to the nice corporate sponsors-- but most of all to the Little Princess, her three fellow Princesses and their Queenly moms -- I got it.

We had a wonderful time, riding on the coattails of our Siemen's "We Can Change The World" Challenge second-place winning daughters. I'm afraid this might be the Little Princess' "Get Out of Juvie Free" card for a little while. The subtle, yet effective rebuff will go something like this:

Me: "Little Princess! I told you to clean up your room! I mean now, missy!"
LP: "Hmm, do you remember the Grilled Organic Chicken Breast with Artichokes, Olives and Pine Nuts we had at Yellowstone? Or what about those Honey Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes?"
Me: "Uh...yeah..well. Um, whenever you get around to it, darling."

Of course, it wasn't all catered meals, expertly guided tours and Phillipe Cousteau (such a cutie!). There was airline travel involved, after all. Our initial flight out of Cedar Rapids International was canceled, meaning we would miss the first of only two daily flights our airline had from Minneapolis to Bozeman, Montana. We had a choice of waiting nine hours in CR, or in Minneapolis. It was a tough choice -- the cities being so much alike and all -- but we decided to head north ASAP.

If you have to be stuck in an airport with four pre-teen girls for nine hours, the four Little Princesses are a good group to be stuck with. We probably could have spent all our time just wandering around Minneapolis-St. Paul International, but we opted to hop the light rail for a quick trip to the Mall of America. The trip organizers told us to be prepared to do a lot of hiking. We just didn't realize it would all take place before we even got to Yellowstone.

My last flight was pre-9-11, but I had been coaching myself for several weeks to suppress my natural tendency to make flippant (some would say "smart-ass") remarks. Apparently air-line security scanners are now so sensitive that they can actually pick up errant thoughts. How else to explain the fact that I was pulled aside for a pat-down? Twice. Once on the initial flight out of Cedar Rapids (while I was biting my tongue so hard it nearly bled) and on the return flight out of Bozeman.

OK, so I might have whispered some subversive comments to the Little Princess the second time. It's not my fault the TSA needs to read their postings for content. I mean, they tell you the name on your ID and boarding pass must match, but they never say it has to be your name. And requesting we "treat security personnel with the respect they deserve" is just asking for trouble. Granted, if I worked in that little closet they call a security checkpoint in Bozeman, my behavior probably wouldn't deserve much respect either.

It's a tough job, and better them than me, but come on now, getting pulled aside for a pat-down twice? If they tried it a third time I was going to demand they buy me dinner and flowers first.

I was just surprised I didn't get hauled into any of the many security checkpoints we walked by on our return through MSP International. Sometime after the second pat-down and re-packaging the 3-oz. liquids I foolishly didn't cram into my checked bag, I developed a massive traveler's zit. I was fairly certain I would have to pay for a second seat just for my blemish. I swear the security guys looked at it like they were considering waving their magic wands over it. Who knows what I could have concealed in there! If we had to make an emergency landing, they could have deployed my zit to cushion the crash.

The Yellowstone portion of the trip more than made up for the travel troubles. In addition to learning about the wildlife, ecosystem and geology of the world's first National Park, we learned a few other more practical tips for Yellowstone visitors:
  • Don't hike across a cactus-strewn field wearing flip-flops.
  • Don't walk through sagebrush wearing shorts.
  • Do always watch were you walk. There's a lot of poop in "them thar hills."

But most of all, I learned to be quiet and listen. To look and marvel at the splendor of nature. And to laugh and enjoy life with the ebullience of a pre-teen Princess.

Thank you, Little Princess. All four of you. For an experience I'll never forget.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Celebration Blog Dance

The following was written in Dolby Digital Surround. To maximize your reading experience, you are encouraged to break into spontaneous cheering, singing, fist-pumping and random dancing. Warning: you may want to close the door and pull the curtains first.

O.M.G! Woo Hoo! Woo Hoo! Woohoowoohoowoohoo! WOO HOO!

In the immortal words of Mister Parker in "A Christmas Story," I have won a Major Award! And yes, I am considering hanging the framed certificate in my front window.

I do not see this as bragging or boasting. I am sharing my excitement over good -- GREAT -- news with friends. Come join the celebration folks. It may be noisy, because I'm tooting my own horn.

You know how I hate to cut to the chase. So let me tell you the story behind the winning.

Sometime back in the dark, dreary days of the last Iowa winter, I was feeling the need to confirm that I was, indeed, a semi-productive member of society (it had been a particularly difficult day of herding kindergarteners – I mean substitute teaching). I decided that in lieu of finding a cure for the common cold, I would finally enter a writing contest I found on-line.

After months of planning my entry, (Actually a year and months. It was a biennial contest.) I waited until the last minute to write my story. By “last minute,” I mean the email had to be sent by midnight and I finished it at 12:01 a.m. The entry form had two classifications, “local” and “national.” I figured people are people, but my little musings may not be of interest to someone living in California (heck, they may not be of interest to my next door neighbor) so I checked the box marked “local.”

As I clicked “send,” (at 12:03 a.m.) it occurred to me that Ohio (where the entry was being sent) is on Eastern time. This would make my entry one hour and three minutes late, not just three minutes late. A quick check of the contest web site confirmed my fear. It also revealed that “local” referred to Dayton, Ohio, not “local” in the sense of “limited scope of interest.” I figure my entry went directly into the file marked “DUH” for “slack-jawed mouth breathers too stupid to follow directions.”

Chagrined, but not disheartened, I found a link to another contest: the National Society of Newspaper Columnists was adding a blog category. After much consideration and input from the Little Princess, I selected three blog entries from the past year, printed them off and managed to get them to the post office before closing time. Then I sat back and waited. And promptly forgot about the whole thing.

When I received the first email stating my entry had been selected as one of the top three, I looked for the fine print that would tell me where to send the wire-transfer for my “cozin in Niarobi” to help "make speeding the red of the will."

There was no fine print. I started to do a little happy dance.

I was caught between a bump and a grind when I started to wonder how many entries there were. This was the first year for the "blog" category. Maybe no one else knew about it. Was there really much to celebrate if mine was the only entry? What if I got third place out of three entries? I decided I really didn't care and went back to my happy dance.

It was a deadly combination of Midwestern modesty and low self-esteem that kept me nervously checking my email. Every day I expected to find the message "Ooops. Sorry. We were trying to contact the author of 'Sandwich Mom on Bly,' a fan-blog for the poet Robert Bly." Or "Ooops, sorry. We're looking for a blogger named 'Ju Ann'." (To which I could reply, Dude! That is so totally me! The lawn care people have addressed our bill to Ju Ann for the last three years! I've thought about not paying it, but I'm afraid they'll come reposes our lawn.)

Finally, finally, finally the official announcement was made at the NSNC conference, and the official announcement email sent out and received. (Get ready to dance) Yes, indeed, your's truly did receive third place in the blog category! And there were two honorable mentions, so there were at least five entries! And all the other winners work for name-brand publications! First place even went to Roger Ebert -- the Roger Ebert, movie critic, not Roger Ebert, alligator wrassler (although I'm sure he'd write a fine blog, too).

The judge's comments were so nice I had to check to make sure that I wasn't related to him, or that the King hadn't recently written him a very large check. No and no. What followed next was a world-class session of happy dancing, hooting and hollering that rattled the windows and shook the walls. It also caught the attention of the Little Prince and Princess.

"What are you doing?" the Little Prince asked, looking confused and a little frightened.
"I'm dancing!" I said, stating the obvious.
"Don't," he said.
"Ever," the Little Princess added.

Thank goodness I have them around to keep me grounded.

Grounded, but still dancing.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stifling Safety Mom

One of the best things about being a stay-at-home mom is the chance to have fun like a kid again.

One of the hardest things about being a stay-at-home mom is convincing my inner "Safety Mom" to relax long enough for me to have fun like a kid again. And getting her to let the kids have fun like kids again.

Last week I took the Little Prince and Princess to the Coralville Dam to witness the awesome power of nature uncorked by flood control. I knew from experience (having had fun as a kid) that when they've cranked open the dam to maximum outflow, it looks really cool.

Fun Mom thought standing next to the outflow chute watching all that water rushing past just a few yards away -- roiling and splashing and bubbling -- was amazing.

Safety Mom thought it was loud, stinky, and a little too splashy for comfort. Safety Mom worried that a rogue wave would somehow suck the children over, under or through the 4-foot high chain link fence. She suspected that at the very least the Little Angels would become completely soaked with the farm-chemical and fish-poo laden river water. And they would still expect to ride home in her car. Wetter and stinkier than usual.

Fun Mom thought climbing up the rip-rap retaining wall to get a better look at the outflow and to search for fossils would be exciting.

Safety Mom worried someone would twist an ankle climbing on the rocks. Or that the rocks would give way and we would all be caught in an avalanche and crushed to death. Or that the children would disturb a rock-dwelling rattle snake. Even if the snake didn't bite them, we would still be crushed in an avalanche started by heaving a boulder at the snake.

Fun Mom thought it would be cool to climb to the top of the spillway and see how much of the beach on the other side was under water.

Safety Mom worried someone would fall over the top of the spillway and drown. Never mind that we were at the far western edge of the spillway, which is only about 6-feet above the beach and the water was only about a foot deep there. It goes without saying that we did not walk along the (3-foot wide) top of the spillway.

Fun Mom thought it would be neat to feed the ducks at City Park.

Safety Mom wondered if ducks have teeth. And do ducks get rabies? And should we really be feeding Rice Krispie Treats to the ducks?

Currently, the Little Prince bears the brunt of Safety Mom's nervous warnings. Fun Mom knows that to a 9-year-old on a skateboard, scooter or bike, every bump in the road or sidewalk is a ramp to be jumped. Safety Mom scans the area for splint-making supplies and a clearing for the emergency AirCare landing pad.

Turning the Little Prince loose to ride his bike down Orange Street Hill -- the steepest hill in town -- requires no less than four admonitions to be careful:

Safety Mom: "Be careful."

Little Prince: "I will."

SM: "No, really. Be careful."

LP: "I will."

SM: "OK, now, just be careful. And tie your shoe. You don't want your shoelace to get caught in the chain."

LP: (Sigh)" I know. What do you think is going to happen?"

SM: "If your shoelace gets caught, your chain will jam, your bike will stop and you'll go flying over the handlebars and do a face plant in the middle of the road. Try to land on your helmet. And remember you have to stop at the bottom of the hill. And there are cars parked along side the road. Be careful!"

But he is already down the hill and has stopped at the stop sign. Safely.

The best part of the best day was hearing the Little Prince breathlessly tell his father (the minute he walked in the door) "...and we stood by the fence... and the wave were at least 10 ft. tall... and we found fossils... and we climbed... and it was steep...." Because all I heard was " we have to... when can we... what are we doing next... and what's after that...."

I can only hope that when I say "Be careful," what they hear is "I love you."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kicking Butt and Loosing Mine

I think I may have finally found the perfect workout for me. The "15-minute Butt-Kicking Workout."

I have been remiss in butt-kicking lately. I have a lot of stored-up butt-kicking energy. I could really, well, kick butt at butt-kicking.

It helped that I had to drive in Iowa City/Coralville on a Saturday. Apparently Saturday is another way of saying "Morons Out Driving Around With the Sole Purpose of Pissing Me Off Day." Everyone has their little auto-pilot, cow-trail that they drive to and from work all week, then the weekend comes and they are overwhelmed by driving options. Should they drive faster? Slower? Drive in this lane or that one? Maybe right between the two. Run the red light? Well, duh, of course. Take up two parking spaces? Hell, why not go two-wide, and pull so far forward you take up four?

Those drivers needed a little butt-kicking.

On the off chance they actually have a destination in mind, they don't leave that inability to make a decision in the parking lot. Hellooo Ladies, decide which handbag you want to buy before you get to the check out. Do not ask the cashier for her advice. Do not model them for her and do not ask her to model them for you. Do not make me fantasize about 36 ways to strangle you with the strap of the purse you may or may not purchase.

You need your butt kicked. And I am just the person to do it.

Because apparently by kicking your butt, I will be making my butt smaller.
I had never heard of this particular work out before I saw it mentioned on the cover of "Get Fit and Look Like This Pencil Thin 16-Year Old Model (When Pigs Fly)*" magazine (*name has been changed to protect me from lawsuits).

It was the "Walk-Off the Weight" headline that first grabbed my attention. I wondered if this WOW would be somehow different from the WOW article in the magazine by my bed. Or the one by the couch. Or the one in the bathroom. Or the two that I've dog-eared and tossed in the "to be looked at some time in the future when I have time" magazine pile.

'Cause I gotta tell you, I've been a little disappointed in those workouts. I'm walking up and down the stairs doing laundry, walking around the kitchen making dinner, walking from the couch to the fridge, walking from the house to the car, from the car to the church or school or the mall or the grocery store, and I'm just not seeing any results.

Yeah, sure, maybe I'm not exactly following the workouts to the letter. Maybe I'm not really following them at all. But I have read them. OK, skimmed is probably more accurate. At least I bought the magazine and thought about reading it.

I thought mental exercise was supposed to be good for you. Let me tell you, in my mind I have exercised the hell out of those workouts. I've thought about walking. I've thought about getting up early to walk. I've thought about doing the "lunge step" and the "tick-tock walk" and the....

Well, OK, those last two I mostly thought about how I wouldn't be caught dead doing them. I mean really. They want me to swing my leg out to the side then back to the front, like a pendulum, for each step? In public? The last time I did something like that we had just closed down the bar and we called it "staggering." I'm pretty sure there were no calories burned off that night. And we were just lucky that no one got their butts kicked.

Which brings me back to the butt-kicking workout. I think someone at that magazine needs to have their butt kicked. Because when I found the article about that workout, it never mentioned anything about kicking anyone's butt. It was the same old lunges and squeezes and squats and leg lifts. Nothing about kickin' butt and taking names. Nada.

Which could mean that I have just stumbled upon The. Greatest. Fitness Craze. Ever. Forget Pilates and Tae Bo and Jazzercise. "Kick Butt Butt-Kicking' " will -- you guessed it -- kick butt.

Imagine rows of exercisers standing behind foam-butted mannequins. The instructor calls out: "With your right leg now, 'You stupid, (kick), moron, (kick), you cut me, (kick), off! (kick)
"And your left leg, 'The sign, (kick), says 10, (kick), items, (kick), or less! (kick)"

You can work out your aggressions and your glutes. I will be mellow, and I will have no butt.
But not so mellow that I quit feeling the need to kick butt. Which is another reason why this is the perfect work out: There is a never-ending supply of people who really, really need to have their butt kicked.

And I'm just the person to do it.