Sunday, July 26, 2009

Slumber party with the MOFia

Published July 26, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

As I write this column, I'm sitting at a computer in Provo, UT, surrounded by women I met for the first time last night but who have been some of my closest friends for about seven years. Confused? I'm here at a gathering of online message board friends, lovingly known to us as the MOFia (for My Online Friends).

The phenomenon of online friendships may seem strange to those who choose to meet people the traditional way, but to us, it's completely normal. Lest you worry about 56 year old male ax murderers (yes mom, I'm talking to you), I will say that our MOFia message board is 100% private, and new recruits join by invitation only, and even then, only if they already know one of the members in real life.

Opportunities to meet happen at frequent, local Girls' Nights Out (GNOs) and annual Girls' Weekends Out (GWOs), where MOFiosas descend upon the designated city, take up residence in a large rented house, and act like teenage girls for the duration. This weekend was the third GWO in the board's history and the first I've been able to attend.

Here's what I've learned.
People you know online do not always look like their pictures. I learned this when I entered the festivities and was immediately goosed by an excited stranger who seemed to be very happy I was there. I did what any girl who's just had her rear end squeezed by a complete stranger would do...I matched her excitement with a happy, "HI!" then sidled over to someone I did recognize to find out the name of my offender. I was relieved to know she was my good friend, Lara, with a new haircut that rendered her unrecognizable (and frisky!)

The later the hour, the more likely you are to post incoherent messages on the message board for the enjoyment of those who did not attend. I think it was about 2 am when I posted a message titled, "There's a monkey in my closet," with updates on all the mommies still awake, including our plans to toilet paper Emily's car, my efforts to spoon with my friend, Sara, and the status of Dawnyel's bra.

Even fashion conscious moms will wear a muumuu on a dare. It was colorful. It was loud. It was frightening. I'm buying a muumuu as soon as possible.

No one is too old for a pillow fight. And if you dare to have a serious discussion when you should be giggling uncontrollably, the girls in the crazy room will get you.

7 hours of sustained laughter will make you wonder if you’re about to learn what having an aneurism feels like. Do people actually die laughing? I might have been close. I may need an MRI.

You don’t need alcohol to have a good time. You just need a good supply of Diet Cokes, the euphoria of being free from responsibilities for a weekend, and a group of friends who know you better than anyone and have no need to be impressed.

Having someone goose when you arrive is just a bonus.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My kingdom for a Slurpee!

Published July 19, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Long about 13 ago, I moved to Southern Utah and saw the city of St. George for the first time since I was born there back in 1976. I immediately heard “the rumor.” According to the well informed speaker, St. George was getting an Olive Garden. I heard the same rumor every year for ten years before I finally saw the sign proclaiming the Olive Garden was “coming soon.” (And there was much rejoicing and eating of breadsticks.)

There was a similar rumor about an impending IN-N-OUT Burger destined for the Southern Utah area. That rumor came to fruition much earlier than the Olive Garden rumor, but there was still a good 2 or 3 year wait. The Applebee’s, Chili’s, and Red Lobster rumors were rewarded with the appearance of these restaurants within mere months.

Dear readers: Today, I’m officially starting the 7-11 rumor. There’s going to be a 7-11 in St. George. My sister’s roommate’s brother’s friend is the contractor who’s been hired to build it. It’s going to be located on the corner of Who Cares Where and Does it Really Matter streets. Grand Opening is slated for December.

Of course, I have no idea if the 7-11 people ever plan to build in St. George. However, I believe the above paragraphs show I have history on my side. Once the rumor is started, the business is sure to follow. People, there’s going to be a 7-11 in St. George! You heard it here! Pass it on!

Some might be wondering why I’m so invested in 7-11 locating in St. George. That’s because some have spent their entire lives in Southern Utah and have no idea about the little bit of otherworldly perfection that is the Slurpee. Some don’t know what they’re missing. Some should drive to Las Vegas right now to find out. I’m very sad for some.

For those few, neglected and deprived, who have no idea what a Slurpee is, it’s like an Icee, only 1 million times better. Slurpee is to Icee as silk is to polyester…as Nordstrum’s is to Wal Mart…as just about anything you can think of is to Disney Channel Original Movies. A Slurpee is the genuine article. It’s the real deal. It’s every other cliché for originality ever overused, only without the oxymoronic qualities of a cliché for originality.

Just over a week ago, when the calendar read 7/11, 7-11 stores across the country celebrated by giving away free Slurpees to anyone who wanted one. Did you get your free Slurpee, Southern Utah? No? I didn’t think so. All the more reason the rumor mongering must begin, post haste

Here’s how we’ll work it. You, hunched over your whole-grain breakfast cereal in Bloomington…yes you…you’re in charge of spreading the word during your next golf game. To the man reading the paper after sneaking home to skip Sunday school, I have you set to drop the rumor at the office water cooler tomorrow (and shame on you for skipping Sunday School). Jumping and shrieking teenage girls, you’re going to jump and shriek the news to all your friends so they can jump and shriek the news until it’s all over St. George and the surrounding area (and until all the dogs who can hear at that frequency are salivating at the sound of the word, “Slurpee.”)

It may take a few months, a few years, or even a decade, but when 7-11 finally arrives amid the red rocks of Southern Utah and you all experience the joys of the Slurpee elite, just remember who made it happen. Of course, I’ll graciously accept your offer of free Slurpees for life. Make mine Wild Cherry flavored.

Next week, I’m starting the Dunkin’ Donuts rumor. I like bear claws.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Whadaya sssthayin'? I'm nahdrunk!

Published July 12, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on developing a “live and let live” attitude about my fellow man. I’m trying to believe that everyone belongs, that everyone has a place in this world and a purpose, no matter how purposeless a person might seem.

These days, I’m trying to find a place in the world for Loud Drunk Girl. About a week ago, she thought her place was at a Midnight Jazz concert my husband and I were attending on the street corner where it was held.

Being a teetotaler myself, I don’t have a lot of experience with drunk people. I hear from friends that drunk people have entertainment value. I’m taking their words for it, but after my experience with this particular drunk person, I’m making mental notes not to take their words for anything important in the future. No, Jane, I don’t think I’ll try that new Thai restaurant after all.

There was nothing entertaining about Loud Drunk Girl. There she was, loud and drunk (and did I mention loud?), anxiously awaiting the start of the promised jazz music. By anxiously awaiting, I mean repeatedly yelling, “Areyougonna ssstart? Aren yahgonna plaaay anythinkgs?” These outbursts were interrupted occasionally by the arrival of her friends (or very tolerant complete strangers…who could tell?) which were heralded by her loud and drunk cries of, “Heeeeeeeeeey! You’re…heeeeeeere!”

Either her not as drunk friends decided to take on the “designated steerer of obnoxiously drunk people away from irritated jazz aficionados (DSODPAFIJA)” role or they all forgot why they were on the crowded street corner in the first place. Either way, Loud Drunk Girl staggered off into oblivion, the music starting just moments later. (It’s as if the band was waiting for her to leave. Crazy how that worked out!)

If there’s a place for everyone in the world, there must be a place for Loud Drunk Girl. Loud Drunk Girl must have some purpose in her loud and drunk existence. I understand that she’s probably not loud and drunk all the time, but this is the version of her with which I am acquainted. I’m not here to discuss the belongingness of Prim Responsible Girl, Loud Drunk Girl’s daytime alter ego.

I say we send her to Congress. No, no, no, not as a representative! I’m picturing her as an unpaid rabble rouser…an official heckler. I see her breaking into quiet conversations between lobbyists and legislators with loud and drunk shouts of, “Arenyahgonna governnnnow? Yahgonna do somethinnn fer your country? Think’f your constintunents!” I won’t pretend anything would get done, but at least we could all feel like our representatives are earning their pay.

We could put her to work in the emergency room. “Heeeeeey! Thisguy’s in pain! Anyonegonna help thisguy? I like thisguy…he’s a goodguy.” Who can think about pain when they’re overcome with annoyance?

Imagine Loud Drunk Girl at a poorly attended middle school football game. Can kids be discouraged when they have Loud Drunk Girl shouting, “Wooooooo! Go teams! Play ‘n throw the ballllll! Yoooou’re running! Running is the beessssst?” Every time more fans arrived, Loud Drunk girl could greet them with a sloppy embrace and a, “Heeeeeeeey! You’re…heeeeeere!”

According to friends, there are Loud Drunk Girls all over the country. I say it’s time to put them to work. Let’s give them a purpose! Siphon them away from the Midnight Jazz concerts and toward a productive future.

The first person who says, “Give them a humor column,” can go jump in a lake.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Published July 5, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

This column is dedicated to Paul and Jo Neary, avid readers of The Mother Load from across the pond. You’re both, uh, very British. Good job.

Yesterday, we Americans celebrated our Independence from England with a nationwide solemn prayer service, ceremonial readings of the Declaration of Independence, and dramatic reenactments of the Battle of Bunker Hill. The day was spent in quiet reflection of the men who gave their lives to secure our freedom from tyranny.

Just kidding. Yesterday, we celebrated our self proclaimed status as the “BEST COUNTRY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!” with parades, barbecues, demolition derbies, and fireworks displays. Yup, there’s nothing like a charred burger for saying, “Nanny nanny boo boo!” to the Brits.

Me? I’m usually as patriotic as the next gal, but this month, I might as well be singing, “God Save the Queen.” In case it’s escaped your notice, this is not only the month we honor our forefathers. This is the month the new Harry Potter movie is released. Sing it with me now, “God save our gracious Queen. Long live our Noble Queen. God save the Queen.”

I know. I know. I’m very conflicted about this. I am an American, through and through, but when it comes to that teenage wizard with the famous scar, I’m ready to defect right here and now and move my family across the ocean to the motherland. Yes, I know I don’t believe in monarchies. Yes, I think the royal family is a joke. Yes, I know it rains 15 months of the year. It’s all very distressing.

I don’t think I’m the only person out there struggling with these emotions, and I don’t think it’s an accident. It’s all well and good to light up a few sparklers and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” on the 4th of July, but do we ever stop to think about what the day means to the British? They ruled the world! They were the Empire of the Sun! They had everything, and then some scrappy colonists threw some tea into a harbor and their power was gone. That had to hurt.

I think the British have been planning their comeback ever since. They’ve “allied” themselves with us in world conflicts. They’ve “adopted” some of our style and politics. In every way they’ve put up a friendly front that says, “Sure, we tried rule you then kill you, but we’re friends now! Our Queen only has the power to wave at people! We’re buddies!”

All the while, they plot to bring us back into submission by sending in soldiers and spies to infiltrate our ranks. You’re thinking differently about every Beatles song you’ve ever sung, aren’t you. They want to hold our hand, indeed. What else could Monte Python’s “The Holy Grail” be but a blatant attempt to brainwash Americans into accepting royal rule.

And now…Harry Potter. It’s possibly the most prolific and successful attempt at British control the United States has ever seen, and here I sit, ready, willing, and able to say, “Democracy, schmemocracy!” and turn myself over to the British police. (All my readers who have just tried to say, “Democracy schmemocracy!” aloud know this is no small feat.)

The patriot inside me is doing what she can to balance out the turncoat. With every rereading of one of the Potter books, I’ve been known to shout, “Give me barbecue or give me death!” and slather homemade sauce on a rack of ribs in protest. We’ve started democratically electing desserts in our house, and I vetoed the treacle tart the kids chose (to my disgrace, it was mostly because I just have no idea what treacle is.) I find my comfort in reminding myself that the British may have slowly taken over our country with the help of J.K. Rowling, but the Yanks planted a secret weapon long ago to undermine theirs.

And you thought Madonna just liked the rain.