Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Roundup

I've so missed writing the Friday Roundup, which The Today Show totally ripped off and changed the name ever so slightly to Friday Whip.
But Today Show producers, I forgive you. Never mind that I was writing Friday Roundup MONTHS before you came up with Friday Whip, that weekly segment where you dissect and analyze something in our culture -- no-cook summer dinners, feel 10 years younger, whatever -- and visit a different expert at each table in Studio 1A. It's a fast-paced factoid approach to things that don't really MATTER, but this nation of whiners appreciates the opportunity to learn more. We're sponges that way.

The Gospel According to Matt Lauer (and Tony Robbins) ... On Thursday morning, I enjoyed a delightful segment on The Today Show where Matt Lauer interviewed motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Because if anybody can fix today's economy, it's Tony Robbins. He could fire-walk all over the national deficit and bad mortgages and rising gas prices. And then he would flash his flashy smile and sell you a set of his motivational CDs for $89.95.

Why, oh, WHY was Tony Robbins being interviewed as a news source during the first hour of The Today Show? Fourth hour with Kathie Lee, I understand. I would even expect that. But first hour? Maybe even the first 30 minutes?

According to Robbins, we should see these hard times as an opportunity to grow. The power of positive thinking and all that jazz. Unleash the Power Within, as he would say. Look around. You're certain to see someone in worse shape than you. And with that comes the realization that times aren't so bad. A little known fact is that Tony Robbins is a first cousin of Phil Gramm.

But here's where it got really good. Matt Lauer's face brightened at this nugget of wisdom -- the nugget being that hey, at least you're not living in some crap country making $2 a day. And then Matt Lauer nodded his head, agreeing that we should all have this glass half-full approach, and he said (and I am not making this up): "There by the grace of God, there's someone else in a worse situation."
So, it's not enough to be thankful for you have; be thankful you're not the person who seems to have it worse.

I am a closet Delilah fan ... And you know you are, too. Everyone who has ever listened to her show likes it for one reason or another. Callers are thrilled to talk to Delilah about the high school sweetheart who came out of nowhere during visitation at a funeral home, and it was like 30 years had never passed. They took up where they left off, thanks to the divorces, and are now happily married, as they should have been from the get-go.

I'm thinking of calling Delilah and totally unloading on her. I know I could come up with something better than some of the callers who seem to be so preoccupied with the many things in their lives that "slipped away" and lead them to request "Unchained Melody" from "Ghost." Not "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers. But from "Ghost."

A recent call: "Hi, Delilah. We spend a lot of time outside on the deck, and we love camping."
"Camping is great. There's nothing better than sleeping under the stars. So ... what song can I play and for whom?"
"Chicago's 'You're My Inspiration' and dedicate it to all the people I've lost." Allrighty then...

If I ever called Delilah, I would tell her about my lower back aches and how I can't seem to find time for the little things. Like cleaning out my purse. I ate lunch with a friend recently, and he asked if my purse was now considered a "pocketbook" and featured a snap-away key ring because it looked like something a grandmother might carry around, with coupons and bank statements filling it to capacity.

I would tell her that I used to be able to paint walls like a professional. I have been accused of having a painting disorder, painting every room in my house at least once a year until the rooms have, in all honesty, become smaller as the walls have thickened. But now, after five hours of painting, I'm holding my hip and eating Advil like cereal.

I would tell her that I woke up at 2:30 a.m. recently with such a case of flop sweat that I may have to burn that particular t-shirt in the backyard. I had a dream that I dropped off my oldest two children in a seedy part of downtown and told them, "Sure, you can walk home. We moved the house down that way" and pointed toward a crack den surrounded by skyscrapers. And I reminded them of the street address and went on my way.
"So, what song can I play for you tonight?"
"Oh, I couldn't care less. I just wanted to unload."
"What else I can do for you?"
"Nothing, I guess," I would tell her. I'm ready to hear the next caller so that I can be reminded that someone has it worse than I do.

It's the weekend, and July is winding down. Go enjoy it with someone special, as Delilah would have you to do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welcome To Our Home! Please Set Your Clocks Back 50 Years

(Forgive the almost one-week gap in posting. We've been dealing with a lot of stuff around here. Stuff happens. Every day. All is good now. None of the stuff we have dealt with lately has to do with today's post. This is totally different stuff.)

If you're a teenage boy trying to gain some degree of access to a teenage girl who happens to live in our home, well, then, you'll have to come through the parents. More specifically, you'll have to deal with her father, who apparently is more fearful of teenage boys than her mother is because, as you might have guessed, he was once a teenage boy himself.
The timeless topic highlighted by the late John Ritter's sitcom apparently has not been addressed by all parents of teenage boys. And the message bears repeating, by the mother of a teenage girl.

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
(although in this house, we don't even use the word "dating"; we prefer "inquiring about" or "courting" or "BOTHERING"; because we're old-fashioned and crazy that way)

* Planning to call her cell phone? Don't even think about it. We have a landline for your use. Sara at the switchboard will be glad to put you through, as long as you are calling at a respectable hour and we're not on the phone ourselves. Or in bad moods.
* We do not accept phone calls after 9 p.m., unless the call is from one of my friends. In that case, anything goes, and I reserve the right to stay on the phone until midnight, if I want. But you are a teenage boy, and it's 9:01 p.m. What should you do? Go to bed. Or write a nice handwritten note. Or help your mother with some household chores.
* Texting sounds like a good option, you might be thinking. Would texting be OK? Sorry -- that's going to cost her... we slap her with a fine of $1 for every text message that comes in or out of her cell phone. Texting is a wormy form of communication, and WE HATE IT. Use your VOICE. And complete sentences. If writing, check your spelling. That stupid shorthand used in texting is an affront to our dignity.
* And here's a rule I never thought we would have to create, let alone enforce: If you call and hang up when a parent answers, you should probably expect a return phone call, which will require you to identify yourself. Do not act surprised or offended. You called us first, pal.
* My name is not "um." So when you call the landline, you might consider a more acceptable and respectful name. You can call me whatever you want after you hang up the phone.
* Remember that her parents were once teenagers -- one was wilder than the other and is therefore more cautious as a parent. Although we might occasionally appear a little dim, neither of us is STUPID.
* Beef up your arsenal of icebreakers. I am not a fan of small talk. If I answer the phone (and I will), ask me about my day. Tell me about yours. Share a funny story about your summer. I will try to top it. And then we will have ourselves a conversation.
* Go somewhere with my daughter? Like alone? Why in the world would you want to do that? We can have great fun right here! We have not one, but TWO color TVs, Scrabble, a turntable and some of that new-fangled popcorn. To make things extra special, I'll spring for some root beer and maybe mix up a batch of fudge brownies. It will be grand.