Monday, November 30, 2009

Private Sector Service Roll-backs Taking Place in 2010

Perhaps it’s not surprising given the fragile state of the domestic economy, but the recession is finally taking its toll on me. That’s right. I am being forced by new fiscal realities to institute several cost-cutting measures to avoid having to lay anyone off. I would like to say that despite all the rumors that have been floating around the house for the past few weeks, I do not anticipate having to reduce our payroll. I should point out, however, that this should not be taken for granted. Performance evaluations are coming up, and each and every employee here in the household will be scrutinized to determine whether or not we are functioning in the most efficient manner possible. If not, you know the rule: last hired, first fired. I'm sorry, Emma. I know you’re only 4, but consider this the first of many lessons about instability in the marketplace and the lingering effects of the housing bubble.

In lieu of workforce reductions right before the holidays to make our bottom line look a little better for the sake of our shareholders -- which, frankly, was my preferred option as it would have been the easiest way to improve our outlook for 2010 -- instead I will be scaling back on my services in the coming new year. While service pricing will remain the same or, in some instances, increase, service roll-backs will occur in all sectors of the household in one of four ways:

• Some services will be eliminated;
• some services will be combined with other services (“service dilution”);
• some services which we had promised we would think about adding we will no longer even pretend to be considering;
• and still others will make us laugh out loud like Santa Claus – that’s right, the whole clutching of the belly followed by hearty ho,ho,ho’s -- if you have the stones to ask.

Specific examples of these rollbacks are as follows:
• I will no longer be turning sleeves and whole coats right side out when they have been removed by the wearer and dropped on the floor just inside the front door.
• Lights that have been left on in bedrooms when no one is in them for more than five consecutive days will be dealt with in the following manner: the light bulbs will be removed and put aside until the user swears on a stack of Miley Cyrus CD’s that she will remember to turn them off before leaving for school. Daytime usage will be closely monitored thereafter and repeat offenders may be forced to do homework exclusively during daylight hours.
• And further to that, all Hannah Montana wigs (aka, “pint-sized tranny wigs”) will be thrown in the garbage when they have reached the point of being uncombable. I alone will decide when that point has been reached, although generally I find that they are unusable within about three days of purchase.
• No projects requiring hand-sewing will be undertaken during FY 2010. If you lose a button, take it up with Nana.
• Socks will now be paired – if at all – without regard for size or color.
• I will now encourage all toilet paper users to carry their own roll with them. Just like they do in the army during war time. Or when you’re camping. Or when you're visiting certain lesser developed countries. Please see my full list of in-service training videos for further information on correct installation of toilet paper rolls if you don’t like this policy change.
• Caps will no longer be replaced on any marker or pen that has been left out on the dining room table. The only color which will now be available for school projects is burnt sienna. My loyal assistant, aka, the dog, will conveniently consume all other caps that have rolled onto the floor thus reducing my need to nag you all further.
• Anyone who lets the dog in on a rainy day without wiping her off will be beaten, fined, shunned, ridiculed, beaten again, mocked, taunted, and then put in the recyclable bin with a note pinned to her shirt that says “Number 3 Plastic.”
• I will no longer be killing bugs or spiders for free. Requests for pest eradication will be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on how loud you’re screaming and if your father is home at the time and also awake.
• Razor scooters left in the front yard or behind the car in the driveway will be either given away to the first interested passerby who claims to be able to remember to put it away in the damned garage, or, as the case may be, run over.
• Double A batteries will no longer be given out indiscriminately. Factors that will be considered when “AA” battery requests are received: 1) How recently was the last set of “AA”’s given out? I.e., was the last set of batteries used up because the electronic item they were in was left on for several days? Really? Are you lying to me because I can tell, you know? 2) How loud and annoying is the electronic item for which it is being requested?; and 3) Did I have such an item when I was a kid? If the answer is no, and I don’t feel like getting off the couch, you will probably not be getting any batteries any time soon. See form 4311A “Battery Requisition Form” and be sure to fill in all required fields or the system will kick your request back out and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Let’s hope this downturn is only temporary, and we can get back to the full-service culture that you have come to enjoy during these “boom” years. Best wishes for a brighter 2010.

Yours sincerely,

CFO and Regional Ballbuster, East Coast Division
Winner, 1999-2009, “Most Effective Parental Sarcasm," as determined by J.D. Power & Associates

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Edward, Bella, and the Romance of Romance

I’m going to decode the mystery of “Twilight’s” appeal for y’all, but in such a way that you can still feel good about liking it. It's the perfect solution to the thinking woman's conundrum that is "Twilight," and I'm taking my cue from the book itself.

First, let me just say that I don’t feel guilty about liking “Twilight” any more than I feel guilty about liking Cheetos. I understand why I like Cheetos just as I understand why I like "Twilight." One because they're cheesy -- Cheetos, I mean -- and two because it's cheesy. "Twilight" is fabulously unreal. Just like that Cheetos-orange food coloring.

Yes, you say. Of course I know that "Twilight" isn't real. It’s vampires and werewolves and all. No, that’s not what I’m talking about. I'm talking about romance here. Let’s take a look at the series of questions and answers below, shall we, and you’ll see what I mean:

• Isn't part of what appeals to Bella the secret, opulent world that Edward comes from? Do you think Bella would have fallen for Edward had she found him and his fellow vampires living in a tin shack in the woods, reviled and impoverished, making and selling moonshine to scrape together a few bucks? What if living with them meant living a hardscrabble life in exile rather than simply shopping for expensive cars in exile? I mean, I think we could all handle a little exile if we were wearing Chanel couture while enduring it. Don’t you think that the fact that Edward is incredibly wealthy and Bella would never again have to worry about making ends meet might have a teensy bit to do with her single-minded determination to become one of them?

• If Edward’s heart of gold was not wrapped in such an attractive package, would Bella have fallen for him so hard? Or let's say, even if he was just as beautiful but, like, had this really annoying sneeze or a stupid donkey-like laugh. As it is, he has no annoying personal habits of any kind. Zero. Bella never has to bite her tongue when he says something dumb in front of her friends. But then again Bella doesn't have any friends.

• And further to that point, if Bella had any personal ambitions or interests in, say, ANYTHING whatsoever – I don’t care what it was, politics, soccer, macramé, actual humans, ANYTHING -- would she have been so willing to jump into his world and forsake her own? What if she’d had to give up any chance of being a neurosurgeon like she always wanted? Oh, yes, I can’t forget her concerns about her parents. She worries about how Charlie will cope without her and how her mom would feel. Right, the father she used to see once a year who now needs her to cook him spaghetti and a mother who is out on the road with her loser Triple-A baseball player husband. Some real strong familial bonds there obviously. Plus – once again – no siblings, but then again, teen literature is populated with only children.

• If Edward and his vegetarian vampires had been forced by need to drink actual human blood and not the blood of animals, would she still have found them appealing? And what if her darling alabaster hunk had a moment of weakness and killed to survive as is the case in all other vampire mythology? In other words, what if to love him was to be an accessory to murder? She’d be no different than those women who help their pedophilic husbands keep girls out in the tool shed.

• Do you really believe that any human being should focus exclusively on the happiness of another person as a condition of the relationship’s success? Edward is a vampire; he has no need of sleep and is never tired. Because he is never tired he is never grouchy or cranky or distracted. Sure, he broods. But he broods about Bella so we’ll let that slide. He has to fill hours upon hours of the day and has no external demands on his time whatsoever. No job, no nothin’. What better way to fill the days than to dote on Bella? He’s already been through high school 17 times and has nothing to learn and therefore, no need to struggle with homework or studying. He is also 90-something years old and therefore wise and patient and has long-since mastered his "needs," both adolescent and vampiric. He’s a sexy grandpa, really. All he’s missing is a sweater vest.

• Because vampires, as they are explained, are changeless, Edward and Bella will forever live in the throes of their young passion. Didn’t you read that and think, really? Like in a thousand years, they’ll still be going at it like crazed weasels? How utterly tiresome to all those around them. Can you imagine how incredibly mortifying that will be for poor Nessie? Like, to have horny toad parents who can't keep their hands off each other? Gag! Although you’ll note that Carlisle and Esme do manage to keep a lid on their urges sufficiently to act as parental figures. So I guess it’s possible their love would evolve, although that might have only been for the sake of the narrative. You’ll note Reneesme is a good sleeper, too. Like THAT is realistic.

If you believe everything would have turned out just the same for them if any one of these details were even slightly more realistic, then you are a true believer, and I wish you well, although I fear you might have a few divorces under your belt by the time you’re forty. What we have here is the adolescent ideal of living a life without any real consequences. In “Twilight” world, it all works out perfectly and nobody gets hurt -- in contrast to tiresome reality where being a grown up is realizing that everything has a cost and sometimes people do get hurt but you do your best to minimize that. Plus, while vampires never change, people do and they can never predict in what ways that change will happen. This requires you, again and again, to take leaps of faith. And we all know what a drag that can be.

When all is said and done, Bella pays nothing for her choices and gets everything in return: beauty, eternal youth, wealth, power, and a happy little family. Edward is the sexy bad boy who’s also a good boy. Would that it were so, ladies, would that it were so. Although it may seem like it, I’m not trying to be a kill-joy here. I say, don’t feel guilty that “Twilight” appeals to you, be sorry that not a single aspect of Edward and Bella's romance is possible in real life.


When all is said and done, loving “Twilight” is an act of willful disregard for some of the more pesky facts of life. And I applaud that. We should hold onto our rebelliousness and keep the teen in us alive ... eternally.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a big bowl of Cheetos to get through while I stand in line for the midnight showing of “New Moon.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Open Letter to the Video Electronics Industry

Dear Sir or Madam,

I included the “madam” thing in my salutation so as not to seem sexist right off the bat, and while I’m sure there are women working in all segments of your industry (blah, blah, blah), I’m even more sure that you’re probably a him and not a her.

I write this to you even though I know my plea may well be drowned out by the latest round of high-five slapping in your research and development department, but I’m going to say it anyway: in no way do I need more pixels in my television set. I haven’t said this before, and I don’t mean to pile it on, but I might as well tell you that I also don’t need more pixels in my computer monitor.

Well, there it is. I guess we both need to deal with this now that it’s out there. Please, just hear me out.

The definition of my television set is as high as I need it to be – it’s as high as I’ll ever need it to be in fact. Actually, if I’m being totally honest here, it’s already too high insofar as it exceeds my eye’s capacity to tell the difference between 720i or 1080i or anything higher than that. I know this might come as a shock to you because I seemed so happy when you first told me – via your last press release -- about your new 3200 x 6400i television that would produce pictures so sharp, images so well-defined, that interaction with actual human beings would become obsolete. I did think it was cool. At first. But then…well, I don’t know what happened. I guess as I began to contemplate the implications of this pixel race for supremacy, I began to worry.

We both know that hi-def as a concept is something that guys -- not women – really want, and I think it’s time that you – the video electronics industry -- recognized that perhaps this is something you’ve focused on a bit too much. I’m sure it all started with the best of intentions, although maybe not. Guys are good at egging each other on and maybe at some point, some engineer guy said to some other engineer guy, ‘I bet you I can cram even more pixels into this damn thing’ and the other guy said, ‘no effing way, dude’ and pretty soon you were off to the races. This is nothing new. After all, 98 % of You Tube videos are of guys getting other guys to do stuff that is not remotely advisable, but they do it anyway just to see if they can. Then somebody else tries to one-up them. Then somebody films it. Then somebody calls an ambulance. That’s what high definition has become for you guys. A dare, a bet, an arms race that has gotten out of control. You’ve lost your sense of proportion in your quest to see how precise and detailed you can make our video screen interfaces. Not that a lot of your engineers are your typical guy types who hang out trying to eat as many Buffalo-style chicken wings as possible just to prove their manliness, but, hey, they are still guys and as such they’re prone to this sort of thing too, even if they did it in a really geeky way – like trying to see who could get the lowest standard deviation on their research data. Like it’s a limbo contest or something.

Now this is not to say that I don’t appreciate a great many things that men’s tendency to over-focus has produced. Rockets, computers, quantum mechanics, hot sauce, cat fish noodling. Great. Love all that stuff. I am not saying the over-focusing doesn’t have its place. What I’m saying is that I do not need more pixels in my television set. That’s all. Don’t be all like, “Well, fine! Forget it! I’m the bad guy here, I guess! What do you want from me?” and then go have a few drinks and find a hooker in some misguided attempt to get back at me. That’s not the reaction that I’m looking for. I just do not need more pixels in my television set, and if you can’t just sit there and listen without blowing up about it then I’m not sure where we go from here. Not to be sexist again, but I think we all know that it’s the girlfriends and wives and mothers of the world who put the kibosh on stupidity -- or as you might know it, “fun” – and try to reel the men of this world back in before they burn their eyebrows off or puncture a testicle, whether it be their own or someone else’s.

And if I might play armchair psychoanalyst for just a moment, I think I know how this particular pixel fixation may have gotten started in the first place. When you were a kid, probably you, like me, filled out the back of the Bazooka Joe bubble gum wrapper and sent away for a pair of X-ray vision glasses and when you got them, they totally didn’t work. You could not see through people’s clothes like you’d been promised and ever since then, you’ve been fixated on creating something capable of greater and greater definition, definition so intense that you can actually peer into the fabric of another person’s soul – or through underwear, as the case may be. Whereas I got over the betrayal, you ... well, you became fixated on pixels.

Again, I’m just asking that you please stop and think about this. Not for a minute am I saying you are bad people, it’s just that we’re good on the pixels. That’s all. Let’s just leave things as they are before we all end up with high def electron microscopes in our homes. It takes a real man to walk away from a dare, and all I can say is that perhaps it’s time to be a man and put the calipers away before you ruin any more of your testicles.

Thank you for your time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sour Grapes and Toe Socks

So here’s the thing, I have this tendency to hold onto empty cardboard boxes. Not really hold onto them. That’s too passive a way of putting it. I hoard them. I don’t know why, and I don’t know what explains it. Was there some sort of Great Depression of boxes when I was kid and good cardboard was hard to come by? Do I have some gypsy gene that fires off occasionally to prepare me for packing up all my things on a moment’s notice? You know, in case there’s a sudden purge of my people, but they’re letting us take our photo albums with us. Around this time of year, the box thing gets even worse as I convince myself that I need to stockpile empty boxes in case I need to wrap presents for the holidays. I suppose the "holiday excuse" kind of justifies the hoarding, temporarily at least, but nothing justifies the keeping of empty boxes in February or April or July. It’s not like I’m this super thoughtful person who sends care packages to the troops or anything. It’s all about me. I want these boxes just in case I might want them later.

I’m sure there are others out there who do this box-collecting thing, and if I could find say, ten or fifteen of us, we’d constitute a demographic group. This doesn’t mean box-collecting is not weird, of course. I’ll bet you could get a bunch of serial killers together and they’d have a lot in common too. (“OMG, I totally like torturing small animals and setting fires too! How funny is that?”) Demographics doesn’t spare you the label of weirdness, in fact it just sort of codifies it, and once it’s codified, we’re able to console ourselves with knowledge that since there are others with the same quirk, it’s all O.K. I mean, don’t you think your grandmother thought it was perfectly reasonable to send you loads of random newspaper clippings from her local paper and put tissues up her sleeve and reuse her tea bags? Don’t you think that she had several friends – even dozens of them -- who did exactly the same things? It was still a behavior that left you scratching your head.

What’s stranger still to think about is that right now, I am a part of several demographic groups, and one of the things we all have in common is a deeply held misconception of one sort or another. And years from now, that misconception is going to be revealed for what it is, and we’re all going to look back and wonder what the hell we were thinking. That’s right. Even now, we are all suffering from a mass delusion, and we don’t even know it.

Now don't go thinking you're the exception here because you’re not. I saw your high school yearbook photo and your hair did not look like that naturally. You tried to get to do that … that swoopy thing in the front and the feathering on the side. You went off to junior high school every morning happy that you had two sausage-shaped curls on the sides of your face. Two words, people: toe socks. Two more words: rubber bracelets. And still one more word: Windsong. Come on, you remember; it stays on your mind.

If I have to take a guess as to what this mass delusion is going to turn out to be – well, at least one of them anyway, I’m sure there are loads of them – I’d say this… now get ready because you’re going to be in for a's granite countertops. Yes, I know. You feel like you've just been kicked in the ribs, and you are now pointing at the screen and shouting "NO! You are WRONG! I won't accept it!" I realize it’s hard to believe, but I’m telling you, in another thirty years people are going to be ripping granite countertops out of their kitchens like they’re asbestos, wondering what the hell we were all thinking. All those granite countertops we all love and adore, they’re all going straight to the landfill where they can’t be broken down any further since they’re already, you know, rock. And in about twenty thousand years, thin slivers of granite with bullnose edges are going to be one of the mysteries of the ages.

I know you might still be reeling at the mere thought of all this but frankly, granite countertops littering the landfills of the future oddly cheers me up. You know why? Because when that happens, when granite countertops become as reviled as avocado linoleum flooring, the fact that I could never afford granite countertops is going to make me look pretty darn prescient. Of course, I probably won’t get credit for my forward-thinking because who pays attention to an old woman with a house full of empty cardboard boxes? But here it is, blogged into the record in 2009. I'm already planning my "I told you so" world bus tour in 2039. You're welcome to join me.

And for the record, I never owned toe socks, but it was not because I didn't want them. I wanted them desperately, but I couldn't wear them because of my handicap, which I don't normally like to talk about but with you, I will. I have webbed toes, you see, and for me, toe socks were but a distant dream that could never be.

You too? Seriously? No way! OK, that makes me feel a whole lot better.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hostess With the Mostess

I can’t watch most of what’s on television because I am a big chicken. If there is rising tension, undercover cops shouting at each other over their dying partners’ bullet-ridden bodies, or decomp of any kind involved, I can’t watch it. I also have a strict policy against watching anything where kids get killed. So pretty much there goes all primetime network and cable television right there. Oh, and if there are ghosts trying to avenge their own murders or even ghosts who are perfectly nice but just want to chat because no one else can hear them? Can’t do that either.

What I do watch is the Food Network because here’s an empirically proven fact: food is never scary or stressful. Food is never stressful even when they try to make it stressful with those competition shows or Food Network challenges where the pastry chefs have to reinterpret the work of El Greco in fondant and so on. OK, there’s a time limit and sure, they’re rushing to finish but let’s face it, if your giant sugar sculpture falls over right before judging, well, that’s a shame but a general rule of thumb in my life is, if you make a mistake that can be eaten off the floor by your dog it’s not all that bad of a mistake.

Seeing as my regular T.V.-viewing options are so limited because of my chickenhood, I have probably tried to watch every show on the Food Network. To my dismay, I have found that I cannot watch just anyone chopping onions. For me it’s not so much about the food itself as much as the host’s personality and delivery. Plus there’s what I call the ITWRR -- “in touch with reality ranking” -- with 5 being “fairly grounded, doesn’t insist that we make our own chicken stock” and 1 being “I nearly always have a film crew around me, and I have no idea how average people without access to Japanese eggplant actually live.” If a host’s ITWRR is too low, I just start throwing toast at the television like I’m at the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I’ll break things down for you host by hostess in case you ever get tired of watching “CSI: Montpelier” and need a break from the endless parade of recently-discovered corpses:

Paula Deen: OK, I'll admit it. Hers is the only show on Food Network that stresses me out. I fear that someday I'll be watching her show and she will choke to death on her own tongue while trying to pronounce the word “oil.” But if you like that sort of thing, go ahead and watch. Are you over fifty? People over fifty love her. She’s like Garrison Keillor that way. ITWRR: 2.5

Sandra Lee: I have nightmares about that woman and her elaborate tablescapes. I dream that I am caught in a giant doily and she is laughing and wants to put me in one of her signature cocktails that she’s created from the blood of the unrighteous who cannot coordinate their outfits, kitchen décor, and dining room table cloths. ITWRR: 3.14

Bobby Flay: Why is he always insisting on showing up places and demanding to challenge people for dominance? What is he, like, the Scorpion King of food? ITWRR: 3

Giada DeLaurentiis: She and Todd are going to get divorced one day and I’ll tell you why: When your husband has friends over to watch the game, they do not want to eat swordfish on ciabatta bread with tapenade relish. That poor, pasty man probably just wants a plate of goddamned hamburger helper once in a while. Please, Giada, for the sake of your daughter, make some dang cheeseburgers once in a while and, please, NOT with tangy, easy-melting Fontina cheese. Either that or just leave your husband out of it altogether and keep throwing dinner parties for your vapid girlfriends to help celebrate the launch of their new handbag line. ITWRR: 0

Ina Garten: I watch her a lot. I love her show. It’s on Logo Channel, right? Oh, wait, maybe I’m thinking of something else? Her show is the one with all those gay guys who show up and set the table for her and bring her flowers. Then they all eat her food and tell her how fabulous it is. Isn’t that the one? ITWRR: -6

Tyler Florence: He talks too fast. He moves too fast. He once tried to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner on a 2-minute Today show segment. I think he might be manic. Do you think I should try to contact him and tell him my concerns? I’m sure there are medications that might help or maybe we could just all pitch in and buy the guy a crock pot. ITWRR: 3

Nigella Lawson: She is perfect in every way except that her show’s on too early on Saturday mornings, and I always miss it. I’ll bet you even she wouldn’t get up that early to watch her show but then she couldn’t anyway because most weekends she’s probably stuck to her own sheets after an ill-advised middle-of-the-night icebox raid to dunk pork tenderloin into caramel sauce. ITWRR: 4

Jamie Oliver: I adore him. I would like to carry him around in my pocket like my own little troll doll and periodically muss his already mussed hair just because he’s so cute. Then I would bring him up to a cabin and chain him to the stove and force him to cook meals for me made from ingredients that he gathered in the forest. Because that’s the only way you can make his recipes – to have him do it. I have two of his cookbooks and I can tell you firsthand who can make these recipes: Jamie Oliver can make these recipes. Which is why I needed him to cook for me, officer. I was gonna let him go as soon as he finished with that wild mushroom crepe with ginseng foam and pan-seared brook trout, honest. ITWRR: 2

Rachael Ray: She’s the best thing to come out of Upstate New York since Ironweed. (I’ll just wait while you look that reference up. ) All right, fine, I admit it. I’m a little jealous of her success because I’m from Upstate New York, too, and as we all know there is this huge quota thing going on and only one person from Upstate New York per century can be successful and I guess she’s it. So yeah, take what I say about her and her “delish!” with a grain of salt. ITWRR: 4

Anne Burrell: I like Anne Burrell. OK, bear with me a minute, but I am very certain that Anne Burrell might be the same girl I met once on Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale. I just remember going to this party at a motel and there were these girls there who were running around in nighties spraying shaving cream at people off the balcony and playing Romeo Void really loud. They were not attractive girls, OK, let’s be honest, but they were having a fun time of it anyway even with no boys in sight. And they invited us to come and hang out and so we did. Then there were shots of flaming Jell-o and the next thing I knew, I was awakened by the most amazing smell because some angel of mercy was cooking sausage and eggs on a hot plate and they were fargin’ fantastic. And I tell you, that girl who was cooking, she didn’t seem hungover at all, but I am sure she drank more than all of us combined. I’m telling you, it was her. It was Anne Burrell. This is a woman you want to learn from especially when you've had too much flaming Jell-o in a Florida motel room. ITWRR: 5

One last thing: I don’t trust skinny chefs. I know you claim that you looooove food, Robin Miller, and I do believe that you love cooking, but I do not believe for a moment that you like eating because people who love eating are easily recognizable by their fatness. The proof’s in the pudding, people. Or rather, the junk’s in the trunk. So my advice to you is to watch Sunny Anderson and make her stuff ‘cuz girlfriend can OBVIOUSLY cook, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

S.A.H.M. Laborers Union, Local 185

MEETING MINUTES, November 4, 2009

We got a late start because Sally O., our president, was trying to park her Odyssey out in front of the meeting hall. God knows Sally's got a good heart, but that woman cannot parallel park to save her life and I think she'd be the first to admit that.

When we finally did get underway we discovered that once again we didn’t have a quorum because more than 75 percent of union members’ kids were sick and they had to cancel at the last minute. This being the case we were not able to vote on some of the more pressing issues on our agenda, namely our wages, benefits and compensation packages for FY 2010, which is probably just as well because management hadn’t responded to the previous four proffers anyway. This of course means we’ll be working without a contract for the seventh straight year. Normally we might be able to kick this issue to the next meeting for fuller discussion but our next meeting is already cancelled because it conflicts with something. The school Winter Festival? The Soccer Banquet? Something like that. We couldn’t remember but it’s on the calendar. So suffice to say, wages, vacation and sick leave will remain unchanged in the coming year as they have for the last sixteen centuries.

The eight of us in attendance then moved on to old business. Plans for the New Year’s Sweatpants Ball were in full swing until Emily T., the chief organizer of the ball, said there was no way she was going to be able to get a babysitter since the high school girl who used to babysit for her now has a boyfriend. As a result, she said, she was doubtful about her own attendance on New Year’s. She then said bitterly that every time she called her, the stupid girl says she’s busy but Emily T. says she knows full well the two of them are just making out somewhere or playing Wii. We briefly and jocularly offered suggestions for ways to split the young couple up (cruel Facebooks postings? Anonymous phone calls to the girl’s parents about the boy’s immoral intentions? Spike his Axe body spray with sulfur?). Our ball organizer laughed a little too hard and then said, ‘Do you seriously think that might work?’ More than one of us raised our eyebrows and observed that perhaps it might be time for Emily T. to step back and reassess her priorities or perhaps discuss this with her therapist, which at least two of us already knew she had been seeing off and on for the last year although it doesn’t seem to be helping. It was suggested that the simple answer was that another babysitter be found as a substitute. No one else was willing to share the name of her sitter, however, and after an uncomfortable silence, we cancelled the Sweatpants Ball and moved onto new business.

Before we could continue, the meeting was interrupted three times by phone calls from two husbands. One couldn’t find matching pajama tops and bottoms and was told, rather harshly, to improvise. The other husband wanted to know what time the kids normally went to bed and then expressed dismay that he was expected to actually bathe the children before putting them to bed. The first husband then called back and said that one of the kids was now clutching the union member’s nightgown, crying hysterically, and running around on the furniture. He asked when she would be coming home. When that was finally resolved by pretending to lose the cell phone connection, another member was rebuked for reading her email during the meeting (she always does that, by the way; that woman would read emails at a funeral). Rather than put her Blackberry away, she sighed and asked when things would be wrapping up because she was still hoping to meet up for a Girl’s Night Out event with a few other moms who had allegedly had sick kids and couldn’t attend tonight’s union meeting. After an uncomfortable silence, we moved onto the budget report.

Although dues have not been collected in more than four months because our Treasurer Laureen B., remains on bed rest in anticipation of her fourth child, assets for the Local 185 were steady at $1988.67, less the cost of tonight’s donuts, which everyone claimed they couldn’t possibly touch because they were all on a diet, although curiously enough all the donuts were gone when it was time to clean up. One union member asked if our membership director Janet W. had attended any meetings in recent memory and perhaps should be replaced but Sally, our president (who if you ask me is way too quick to cut people slack) said that Janet really meant well even if she got herself overextended from time to time, but that she would talk to her about it when she saw her at spinning class on Thursday morning. With that, we moved onto announcements, which led to an outbreak of inward groaning.

One mom -- you know the one -- used this opportunity to promote her home-based business selling luxury bath products from MoFaux because "who needs pampering more than moms" (trademark protected). She passed out cards and urged us to attend her next bath product selling party the day before Thanksgiving, a day she thoughtfully picked because she knew everyone would be totally stressed out in preparation for the holidays. She mentioned that some of the stocking stuffers were only $35, and there were candles on sale for $48. One member then fell to the floor, her hand pressed to her left eye. She asked that someone call 911 because she was certain she had just suffered an ocular aneurysm. In the flurry of activity surrounding the arrival of the EMS workers, two union members slipped away unnoticed after depositing their MoFaux business cards discreetly in the garbage can. After ascertaining that the union member in distress had no known allergies and could receive a shot of Demerol (lucky her), three other members asked the paramedics if mercury was used as a preservative in the injection. Emergency responders said the stricken union member in all likelihood had had a muscle spasm, probably caused by rolling her eyes back into her head too often. She was transported to the hospital, where she was treated and released.

There were no other announcements.

**I want to give a shout out to Denise L., SAHM Union Organizer, El Cerrito Chapter.**