Category Archives: Humor

MONOPOLY SENIOR

Ah, Monopoly, that endless board game. If ever there was a concrete illustration of eternity in the bad place, Monopoly is it. Recurring cycles of debt, running out of money, keeping track of all your property, mortgaging your property, hopelessness, despair, boredom, losing valuable hours of your life. So why am I back in the game these days?

It wasn’t my idea. On a Sunday afternoon, in an attempt to calm down two rambunctious boys after a wild and exhausting Nerf gun battle (in which I was an enthusiastic participant), my husband unearthed our old Monopoly game. Seriously? I asked. These boys are seven and four. The older is just learning to read. The younger is just learning to count to twenty, and has no concept of the value of money.

“Is this Monopoly Junior?” asked the seven-year-old. Monopoly Junior apparently has different rules than regular Monopoly, including an actual endpoint.

“Nope,” said Grandpa. “This is Monopoly Senior.” Which thrilled the seven-year-old. Monopoly Junior was suddenly passe.

Little did I know the appeal this game would have. Turns out both boys love Monopoly Senior, which feeds the universal love of acquiring money and property, and unmasks the greed in their little hearts. Since that inaugural Sunday, Monopoly has been a regular activity.

Each boy has a different approach to the game. The seven-year-old is all about owning as much property as possible so as to collect as much rent as possible from his opponents. But he has a generous spirit. When I ran out of money (because of paying a lot of rent, mainly to him), he sweetly offered me all of his. I refused, but he insisted. I paid it back when I passed Go.

The four-year-old is all about amassing piles of cash, which he does by refusing to buy any property until well into the game, when he observes the rest of us collecting rent on our properties. He obviously doesn’t understand the principle of spending money to make money. And if he hands the banker a $100 bill to pay the $75 Luxury Tax, and gets a $20 and a $5 as change, he believes he now has more than before he paid the tax. He gave the bank one bill and got two back.

Our emerging reader provides moments of levity, such as the first time he landed on Vermont Avenue and read it as Vomit Adventure. He was tremendously pleased with his error. Gross humor, dear to the heart of a seven-year-old boy. This is mild. I have other gross stories, which I won’t relate here, but one of them ended with two grandsons lying on their backs on the kitchen floor, at my feet, laughing hysterically at their own grossness.

My husband grew up playing Monopoly by throwing all tax money, fees, and fifty dollar bills used to get out of jail onto the middle of the board. The player who lands on Free Parking claims the wad of cash in the middle. This is something all players hope for, but only serves to make eternity even longer. Just when you think the game is mercifully winding down, someone lands on Free Parking and away we go.

But I am a capitalist, and I do believe Monopoly is good practice for the real world of capitalism. Here we learn the consequences of poor management – when you buy more property than you can afford (see greed above) you’re left with nothing to pay your debts and have to start mortgaging said property. When the seven-year-old achieved a monopoly and purchased the coveted hotel, he was smacked in the face with huge property assessments, and later with the realization that nobody could afford his exorbitant rent.

How do you stay in the game, build your assets and still have enough cash to pay your bills? This is Life Skills 101. And the whole idea of playing games, sometimes winning and sometimes losing, is an opportunity to realize that your essential worth as a person is the same whether you end the game with a lot, a little or nothing at all. This is hard to stomach when you’re the loser and the winner is rubbing his hands together, gloating, but it’s still true. Better to learn it early in life.

I’m hoping the Monopoly phase will pass. I find it horribly dull. brightened only by the enthusiasm of two hilarious boys, and the pleasure of spending time in their company. For that I’ll stick it out.

And here’s to Vomit Adventure, which will hereafter replace Vermont Avenue on my Monopoly board.

UGLY DRESSES

Dear Fashion Industry,

Why do you hate short women? It seems to me that you despise us, and want us to look like fat little tree stumps, feeling unattractive as much of the time as possible. Here’s why I think you hate us:

1. You don’t make clothes for actual petite women. You seem to design your clothing for a mythical petite woman with a flat chest and a 15-inch waist, which in reality is a 10-year old. Have any of you ever seen a real-life petite woman? (For tall women, the mythical measurements are the same, just taller. They would fit a tall 10-year old).

2. You’re stuck in a Dark Age of ugly dresses. I hoped it would have passed by now, but you keep offering me huge flowery prints that make me look like a curtain on two feet. Also, horizontal stripes are a non-starter for me. I’m trying to look taller, not wider. And the latest ugly dress incarnation – swingy, balloon-like dresses, designed for baby elephants. These styles can be carried off by my tall sisters, but for petites like me, these dresses are demoralizing.

Here are some other things that bug me, and they’re not only petite-woman complaints:

3. Why do you have colors of the year? I suspect that someone in an office somewhere in New York City, or wherever they make these decisions, sticks their hand in a box of various colored fabric samples, pulls out a couple, and announces, “OK everybody, here are the colors of the year.” Let’s say they’re purple and black. Every item of clothing manufactured for that season will be purple or black. I happen to like purple and black, but seriously?

4. And why are there no consistent sizes? If I was a man I could walk into a store, select my clothing by exact measurements, and take it home without even trying it on. A man I know well does this all the time. But not me. I can go from being Extra Small to Large in the space of 10 minutes in the same store. And if, after hours of trying on clothes, I find a purple something that miraculously looks good on me, why does the same-sized item in black fit differently than the purple one? Why, why, why?

5. Rethink your brand labels. The shopping process is already sufficiently horrifying, what with clothes that don’t flatter and yellow lighting that turns my face sickly green. Why then must I be confronted with a clothing label like Sag Harbor? Who thought it was a good marketing strategy to attempt to sell anything to a woman with the word “sag” in it? Certainly there are other harbors? What’s next? Fat Mama and Old Hag?

6. Could you please put more fabric at the necklines of all tops and dresses? I like v-necks, but I want them to end well above my waist. I’m not a Hollywood starlet trying to amp up my career.

7. You have an unhealthy relationship with polyester. You can call it microfiber if you want, but it’s still polyester. It doesn’t breathe and it makes me sweat buckets. So do all of your synthetic fibers. Yes, I know people don’t iron anymore, and synthetics are easy to pack, but in heat and humidity I long for cotton blends. There used to be something called PermaPrest, a blend of cotton and polyester. Where did it go?

8. Before I die I want a white summer blouse that doesn’t look like a men’s dress shirt, isn’t all fluttery and ruffly, and most of all isn’t transparent. I don’t think this is too much to ask, but so far you’ve failed me.

In closing, dear fashion industry, I have some advice for you. Leave your mythical woman on the drafting table and go find some real petite women. Familiarize yourself with the variety of shapes and sizes we come in – thin, not so thin, curvy, straight, and all combinations thereof. Maybe sit down with some of us and ask us what we want to wear.

I promise that if you start designing clothing for actual petite women, I will buy it and tell everyone in my petite tribe. I will love you forever. Until then, I continue my unending safari in the fashion jungle, hunting for Something That Looks Good.

FUN WITH PHOBIAS

I’m guessing everybody has at least one phobia. I have several: fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of falling or being pushed from high places (pushacrophobia – I made that up), fear of snakes (properly ophidiophobia, but let’s make it simple and call it snakeophobia), and claustrophobia. If you ever want to get rid of me, stuff me in a box with a snake and set me on the edge of a cliff. The cliff may not even be necessary.

I also have FOMO, known as Fear of Missing Out. This causes sufferers to stay up too late or postpone trips to the bathroom, because we might miss some fascinating conversation or exciting event. This fear is based on reality. In fact I have often lived through EOMO (Experience of Missing Out), usually when I have dinner guests. The main course has been eaten, conversation is lagging, and it’s time to clear plates and serve dessert. The second I leave the dining room, the conversation springs back to life, punctuated by laughter and hooting. I can’t follow the conversation because the coffee maker is hissing and I’m opening and closing drawers, running water, and possibly dropping silverware on the floor. My FOMO has materialized, and I’m missing the most interesting repartee of the meal. When I return with dessert, the moment will have vanished.

My husband has in the past suffered from acartohygieiophobia, the fear of running out of toilet paper. This is real, I promise you. I googled it, giggling to myself, and was astounded to find it’s an actual phobia. For awhile my husband, who loves to do the grocery shopping, would come home week after week with gigantic packages of toilet paper because, he explained, it was on sale, and because it’s something we’ll always need. Fine, I said, but where are we going to store it? Leave it to me, he said, and proceeded to unwrap the gigantic packages and stuff individual rolls of TP into nooks and crannies in every closet. One sheet-changing day I opened the linen closet and was pummeled by a soft avalanche of toilet paper. Enough, I said. The store is only one mile away, if we ever run out. That seemed to cure him of acartohygieiophobia, which was a relief because it’s really hard to spell.

I have a deep fear of running out of chocolate, which has no clinical name that I can find, so let’s call it nochocophobia. Chocolate pulls me in, like the moon’s gravity pulling on the oceans. What would happen if there were no tides? Bad things, I presume. So we must never run out of tides or chocolate. I’ve been known to keep chocolate stashes hidden in various locations around the house, for those times when I need a chocolate hit and I’m far from the kitchen, or, let’s be honest, when I’m trying to keep it hidden.

Interestingly, I found out a few years ago that it’s possible to hide my stash in plain sight. We were recipients of a bag of 20 full size KitKat bars in a pantry shower when we moved to a new town and a new church. The entire family was aware of the KitKats, and they all knew they were in a kitchen drawer. But nobody ever asked for one, and everyone forgot they existed. Except me. I remembered. Over the next few months, while cooking dinner, and while the rest of the family was in the family room, watching TV or doing homework (the two rooms are actually one room), I’d periodically remove a KitKat from the drawer and eat the whole thing, literally in plain view, if anyone had bothered to pay attention. It’s true that I never offered one to anybody, but they were free to go get one any time. Eventually the KitKats were no more.

One day, months later, one of the kids said, hey, where’s that bag of KitKats we got for the pantry shower? Confession time, followed by shock and recriminations. I maintain it was their own responsibility to remember where the KitKats were, and help themselves. Apparently their fear of missing out wasn’t strong enough to make them inquire as to the whereabouts of the KitKats earlier in the game. This isn’t my fault. Where chocolate is concerned, it’s every woman for herself.

My greatest fear is not nochocophobia, pushacrophobia, FOMO, claustrophobia, acrophobia, or even snakeophobia. My greatest fear is abibliophobia, the fear of running out of books. There’s nothing so horrifying to me as being stuck on a plane, in a waiting room, or at home, with nothing to read, or at least nothing interesting to read. I feel best when surrounded by filled bookshelves, piles of magazines on the coffee table, and a healthy stack of library books waiting to be read. When faced with nothing to read, I get twitchy and anxious. The world of books is going on without me, and I can’t stand it. And by the way, this phobia leads to book greed. I cannot go to the library and check out just one book. I have trouble limiting it to ten, and often stagger out with more than that. I need a cushion, so when I finish one I can immediately go on to the next. I simply love a bounty of books. They are my good and treasured friends.

As I attempt to bring this to a close, I’m haunted by how-do-I-end-this-blogophobia. In writing, beginnings and endings are tricky. You can tank the whole thing with a boring beginning or a bad ending. I’ll just say I hope you’ve found this discussion of my phobias enlightening. If you’re feeling phobic after reading, I recommend chocolate therapy, which will get you through just about anything.