Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I had a farm in Haunchyville....

Now that Halloween is upon us, I will take this opportunity to enlighten both of my readers on one of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of Parenting: Children and the Occult.

I've spent much of my life drawn to things that are spooky and weird--like Janice Dickinson's reality show. (I think her most recent face, is probably the best one yet if by "best" you mean "frightful," and also graded like a mini golf green or the Whitefish Bay Sendiks parking lot) But how often do you stop and notice the presence of the occult in our children's every day lives? Here are Five of my favorite otherworldly children's activities, please feel free to chime in with your family occult traditions as well.

Ouija***** (that's a five star or five asterisk rating with Eblogger's limited symbol options)

We'll start with the Big Kahuna of board games, that which combines the genuine plastic reader to interpret messages from the Mystifying Oracle. Of course, the Ouija board. If you attended a sleepover at any given point during the 1970s or 1980s, you know that Ouija board is ten giant scary steps up from "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board," when it comes to contacting the dead or finding out if you're going to marry Shawn Cassidy. Marketing genius William Fuld holds the patent on the Message Indicator and the Talking Board design. He wants you to be aware of that fact so much that he slapped that enforceable Patent notification on the face of the game board not once, but twice. Not only did Fuld combine children's natural curiosity with witchcraft and neatly packaged it into a board game, but he spent the duration of his career shutting down hawkers of imitation inferior "talking boards" until Ouija was the Ma Bell of communicating with the dead.

Genuine American Made in Taiwan Magic 8 Ball **** (four stars)

The Magic 8 ball has not lost its charms as it can be found today on the top shelf of Winkie's. Kids never tire from being told Reply Hazy, Try Again as we all know there is a teeny tiny smidge of a shaman inside the black water Magic 8.

Upon receiving his first Magic 8 Ball, my son tore open the package, vigorously shook it while pleading: Is God For Real??? (Answer was Better Not Tell You Now, another lost sheep looking for someone with a clue.)I guess our family occult night combined with the strict observance of the public schools not to acknowledge any religious holidays except for a heavy dose of Halloween tempered with the same public school exposure to all the major religions in a non denominational way has confused the boy a tad. Basically any mention of Church or God is usually followed by a panicky reply of "Do I have to wear a shirt with buttons?" In spite of that, he insists that "he likes Jesus, he just doesn't like to wear nice pants," and we accept his spiritual limitations because all the photographs I've seen of Jesus, he didn't wear nice pants or a button shirt either. Church rules don't always get you closer to God, just ask Jerry Falwell if he's feeling a little warm about now.

Edible Occult***(three stars)

Fortune Cookies: How freaky is it that so many of us are living a long and happy life and that we absolutely should "learn Chinese," in a nation becoming increasingly dependant on the Chinese takeout? Nothing gets my kids throwing down as the award of one of the two fortune cookies that come with our East Garden take out.

No Photo available 'cause offspring ate them all while I was looking for the camera.

Note to East Garden: We have three children and since China Palace closed, you receive 100% of our Chinese takeout business. Maybe you can kick an extra cookie in the bag so we can put a stop to the Tuesday night bloodshed in our home. Also, stop skimping on the rice, but that's another blog.

Speaking of Chinese, Note re: blatant copyright infringement as it relates to Ouija boards and Magic 8 Balls: The Chinese versions of these games are similar in size and design, but have small clues that they are ripoffs of the real thing. For instance, the juice in the Chinese made Magic 8 is actually toxic mercury and the first reading the ball will give you is: "This ball is bound to leak Toxic Mercury all over you." The second reading is "Seriously kid, you'll need a skin graft." Don't believe me? Let's ask the Ball:

Q:Will The Chinese Rip Off Magic 8 give me third degree burns?:
A: Without a Doubt

The Chinese version of "Ouija...it's only a game--isn't it?," boasts a board and genuine plastic message indicator, but it has not been endorsed by the Mystifying Oracle like the genuine Parker Brother's (not really brothers) brand. William Fuld's iron fist didn't reach to the Far East. Therefore your board will not be able to answer sample questions like: Will I ever be tall enough to slam dunk? and Does Tommy know I like him? Who told him? Will my parents let me go to the concert? What should I wear? Instead, your Chinese-made set will just have the plastic message indicator spinning into infinity. BTW, the Chinese also invented Infinity, but only to distract the rest of us from severe copyright infringement that is their stock and trade. Always look for the genuine American Made in Taiwan seal that shows your occult games are for real.

Occult in the cards** (two stars)

Indian: If you have small children and you haven't played Indian, you are missing out on one of life's greatest adventures. For those of you who are too politically correct to play a game so uncomfortably named, each player is dealt one card face down. Each player then holds the card to his forehead so that his opponents can see the face, but he can't. It is helpful to use duct tape if your opponents are really young or if they have greasy foreheads from eating a lot of Chinese food. Then, based on what you observe from your opponents, you are supposed to bet if you think your card is higher than theirs.

Seems straightforward, but here is where the occult comes in. You have to read the mind of your opponents in order to know if you have a high or low card. Comments like "Oh, I know I beat Daddy 'cause he's got a two," may lead you to an educated guess, but really, Patricia Arquette has the edge in this game. Don't rely solely on questions from your kids like "Mommy is your Queen higher than Sophie's ten?" They won't always be this naive. If you expect to win at Indian, you must clear your head, focus and try to read the minds of your opponents. Or, you can sit across from a window or a mirror and steal a peak at your card, but be discreet, that only works for a couple of years before they get wise.

Sentimental Occult Shout out to My West Allis Peeps--All Star Occult:

Haunchyville: Ahhh, these blogs will often ramble back to my youth in the bustling village called West Allis. It is common knowledge that kids from Muskego enticed us West Allis-ites out to their cornfields to visit what was known as "Haunchyville," a haunted cornfield populated with possessed gnomes or gremlins if you will, out for West Allis blood. Now, you might think that if we were old enough to drive, we were old enough to know better, but no, we went, hoping to catch a glimpse of a haunted little cornfed sprite running through the crops with a sickle. A few times we did get the B'Jesus scared out of us and a few classmates were known to have spotted one (little person, not a B'Jesus). More than one classmate spotted rows of shorty mailboxes as you can be possessed but well informed if you subscribe to the right literature.

As I mature, I often wonder if Muskegoans were mostly messin' with us in a desperate attempt to feel superior to our Ivy League feeder status but I can't discount the strong otherworldly vibe we all felt in the corn. I started to get suspicious when on one of our jaunts out to Haunchyville, we stopped at a service station and asked for directions. To Haunchyville. With a straight face. The counter dude smiled and said "are you kids from West Allis?" but happily pointed us in the right direction.

Haunchy Watching with My Kids:

Class of '88 quotes on Haunchyville:

Divina (Friendliest and Most memorable): "There was always talk (about Haunchyville) but I tended to back away from those conversations because I'm close to being a haunchytype: short and freaky in stature/nature. That is me."

Jill (Best Driver): "I sooooo remember driving out there several times with a carload of us, but can't for the life of me figure out where it is. I do remember trying to "back in" in case we needed a fast get away, but the cornstalks on both sides of the car made it too hard to see."

Curses being en vogue city folk unfamiliar with the height of September corn!! But check out that driving acumen. That was a well earned honor.

Toe (I'm a Girl and Most Obnoxious): "I remember a Children of the Corn feeling when we drove there. I think the vertically challenged people could have made it through the bondo on my Maverick."

Note to readers who didn't grow up to the sounds of Toe's mufflerless Maverick cruisin' the strip: Toe's Mav had no floor ala the Flintstones but if you wanted to add the thrill of motion sickness to your donuts in the school parking lot, no better ride to be had.

Jimmy B. (1/5 of German Five Five aka Deutsche Funf Funf): No official English comment from Jimmy, but during business hours, Jimmy located Haunchyville on a map and gave me the cross streets of Mystic Drive (oooohhhh, creepy) and Janesville Road. I'm going to speak in code to Jimmy B now: Guten Tag, Herr Breitenfeld. Danke und Guten Arbeit mein Freund. Wie geht's Fortunatus, die Haunchy auf Deutschland, auf Schwarzwald? Auf Wiedersehen und Gesundheit.

Heather (Best Musician): I think I had viola practice when you guys were at Haunchyville. (Say it with me: Poor Heather!!)

Meredith (inappropriate pic on reunion website): "What do you mean you can't say midgets anymore?" and: "I definitely remember the "Children of the Corn" feeling, but never actually observed threatening little people to my recollection, but there were some squat mailboxes in the shadows of the corn. Even the petite need their Vanity Fair."

Micki (FL Wright's answer to Coco Chanel and 1/5 of German Five Five): "I remember a bunch of us psyching ourselves out thinking we wouldn't live to see another day if a Haunchy saw us in the corn. I remember small mailboxes too. To this day, I have not seen a Haunchy but would love to meet one for a latte."

Oh Mick, how high falutin' of you to offer a growth stunting beverage to a Haunchy.

One stray quote from the Class of '85, but its my sister Anja and you guys all love her stuff: "I never heard of Haunchyville. But one time a bunch of us went to the airport to see Gilligan come into town. That was before airport security was so strict so we went right to Gilligan's gate."

Note to class of '85: You guys were kind of a snooze, wholesome and sweet to be sure, but zzzzz...

see Journal Sentinel Travel Reporter Dennis McCann report on the true story of Haunchyville at http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=267593

Monday, October 13, 2008

Johnny Appleseed plants a Patent Search

The list of parenting necessary evils runs long and deep. It starts when they hand you your little seven pound bundle of love at the hospital garnish him off with a booger suction bulb. Shortly after, that angel from heaven will vomit and poop with enough frequency and force to inspire you to wear a SeaWorld poncho around the house. And that is just when they're healthy. Then, they get infections and pox viruses and plantar warts and stuff that would send you running were it not for the miracle that is the parent child bond.

That parent child bond will take you places the childless never have to go: Waterparks, the Capitol Drive Walmart, Disneyland, the Chase Avenue Chuck E Cheese's, the elementary school's Caf-a-Gym-a-Torium. Another such destination is the Preschool Apple Orchard Field trip. This one was really a head scratcher for me. But ever since I helped with the school's lice check, everything is a head scratcher for me. I swear I think you can contract lice just by thinking about it. After the Apple Orchard field trip with my 3 years old's preschool class, I had to wonder, for a three year old, what is the educational value of projecting the Johnny Appleseed movie onto the lifeless face of a mannequin in a dark barn?

"Johnny" is a half mannequin, half scarecrow. No face, just a blank white head topped off with a tin pot. Turn on the projector and Johnny comes alive "Hey there little lady, little man, wanna learn somethin' about the importance of apple to the first Colonists?" The actor portraying Johnny is an extra from Deliverance who was fortunate to stumble on this royalty goldmine, the educational film.

Now, I'm no child development expert and I'm sure there are some redeeming qualities of delivering educational information from a disembodied source. To be fair, "Johnny" spoke of many things that the general public might not know about apples and their uses: in fact, as he babbled on and on about the status of the Apple in Colonial Times: apple cobbler, apple pie, hot cider, cold cider, apple bread, apple muffin, I was struck not only by the similarities to the Bubba character from Forest Gump (shrimp soup, shrimp cocktail, shrimp kebobs), but how well, possessed Johnny seemed projected in this manner.

The median age of the audience is 3. They react to this seance in many different ways including Threat level Yellow:"Look mommy, the scarecrow man is talking,"
to threat level Orange: "mommy, that dead man isn't dead,"
to threat level Red: Lots of shrieking, crying, pants-wetting, maybe should have brought the poncho.

My own kid, third of three, has been toughened considerably by having two older sibs and even she was cautious "Mommy I don't like that scary dude." But she couldn't take her eyes off of him, which brings me to my next great invention: Mannequin Mommy or the "MommyQuin".

A Patent Search is Born

MommyQuin is basically a movie of me droning on incessantly and projecting it onto the head of a faceless mannequin wearing my clothes. Think of how much I'll save on babysitters! My kids won't be sure whether its me or a movie. They'll be too terrified to move for several hours, but the audio message is calming and soothing and possibly educational which covers my butt with Social Services.

You can project videos of yourself explaining fifth grade fuzzy math which might send the kids to dreamland, but frightens a lot of parents that I know. I think I just found the upgrade to the teddy bear wazoo camera. To keep the kiddies guessing, you sell a mannequin complete with several of your mommy looks: there is of course, the Sea World Poncho, the regular genuine fake velour Bathrobe, the cropped sweats and T shirt, whatever the kids are used to seeing you around the house in. If you're a mommy whose dripping in diamonds and drowning in Prada, we can customize a look for you, but it will cost ya extra.

Kids are so used to high tech audio visual equipment, I'm certain they will be stumped by the old fashioned projector style. Even the smart ones will be wondering what the heck is up.

I asked my 11 year old if she remembered the Apple Orchard trip from her K4 days. Seven years ago, I had a new baby at home and couldn't attend the trip with her, but the chaperones assured me that yes, she cried uncontrollably the whole time. At the time I was flummoxed by her reaction to just picking apples in an orchard, now that I've met Johnny Appleseed, I finally understand what sent my first born into a tizzy. A dark cloud crossed her sweet face and she said:

"Oh yeah, I didn't like that trip 'cause there was a scary dead guy in the barn."

MommyQuin: Patent Pending.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I'm so Green I'm Yellow

Not All Green is Good Green

Most of you, like me, have made some adjustments to your spoiled, self-indulgent lifestyles as you realize our economy is increasingly dependent on foreign bikes. Some of my articles may be on the frivolous side and a gi-normous waste of your free time, but others, like this one, will create a forum for educating/co-miserating on how foreign oil has caused us to cut back on things like toilet papering and flattering lighting and such.

Today, I'm going to focus on one sacrifice I almost made.

Last week while comparison vodka shopping, I found myself at the Whitefish Bay Sendiks. Now, although this article is a bit of a palette cleanser on the drama of my class reunion, I was purchasing vodka in preparation for the big weekend with these delinquents. I haven't bought vodka for myself since at least 2 kids ago and some things have changed in the vodka industry that has historically been dependent on foreign potato growth.

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to visit the Whitefish Bay Sendiks, let me fill you in on what you may have missed. The Whitefish Bay Sendiks is the epitome of high falutin' and en vogue consumable products that are not only ridiculously overpriced, but observant of our greenability and these products usually taste pretty damn good.

That being said, drawbacks to the Whitefish Bay Sendiks include, but are not limited to, the fact that their parking lot is only slightly more dangerous than Kuwait with 1/3 of drivers being tiny, elfin-like elderly people in large Cadillacs abruptly pulling in and out of spaces with no warning and no feet near a braking mechanism. A second 1/3 of drivers being tiny, elfin like au pairs to wealthy families who didn't request a "driver" 'cause they live in a "walkable community" and thus received a nanny who got her license in Peru where everyone completes a mandatory 13 hours of steering a mountain goat before being rewarded a driver's license. Then, as the epitome of the American dream, she comes to this country and finds herself behind the wheel of a Hummer in the WF Bay parking lot. The remaining 1/3 of drivers are moms in minivans who are undercaffeinated. Also, the parking lot has been graded much like a mini golf green with lots of hilly landscape and if you let go of your cart to say, put your baby in your car, your groceries go careening into traffic faster than you can say "crunchy granola."

Additional drawbacks to the Whitefish Bay Sendiks include wide shopping carts and cramped check out lanes. At first, I would struggle to wiggle on through feeling fat and bloated when I realized, "it's not my hips its the damn cart that doesn't fit." Also, the Whitefish Bay Sendiks, while located in the heart of greenation, offers a plastic bag that is thicker and nicer than most people's luggage. I feel guilty about choosing the plastic because it is "too nice for dog poop," and usually ends up stowed away in my basement, waiting until I have a spare moment to hot glue gun a zipper closure on them, so that our next overseas holiday will be complete with a set of coordinated luggage. I know, I should keep them in the car and reuse the bags for repeat shopping at the Mecca that is the Bay Sendiks, but anything stored in my car quickly becomes contaminated with dog hair and Goldfish crumbs and the idea of putting perfectly clean groceries in them is just groady so I don't.

So stepping back to the liquor department at the WFB Sendik's, I'm perusing the vodka section knowing neither what brand is en vogue or when vodka bottles became so pretty when I notice a brand, sold in a giant cardboard box that boasts "The World's First Eco-Friendly Gift Set." And I couldn't help but be intrigued: What qualities make vodka eco-friendly and damn, my Christmas shopping stops here?

What made this 360 brand a better choice for the Greenable was apparently the giant cardboard box that it was packaged in and the fact that it contained a fluorescent type light bulb and a giant book of tips on making sure your grass remains greener than your neighbor's. All in one handy "gift set" that will be flying off the shelves like this year's answer to Tickle me Elmo and PlayStation 3 of yesteryears.

Now, I don't know about your people, but mine are of Mediterranean descent and have been known to enjoy their vodka in copious amounts, under incandescent lighting. My vodka roots go back to my childhood when my Uncle George schooled me on the proper proportions of vodka to water (two fingers tall of vodka to one of water, but wait, you're a child, better use four of your fingers of vodka to one water) Now, it must be noted here that if you are a group of "adults" at a poker game in the mid to late 60's and you delegate the cocktail mixing to your children, don't be surprised when you see that the toilet bowl is empty because your bartender is too short to reach the faucet--yeah, leave the vodka in her reach, but hide the water. Kudos to cousin Holly: you've got your own hall of fame in the annals of family lore. Also, it might be helpful to tip the bartender or at least spring for a step stool. But now it is 2008 and as we know better, we do better so back to eco-friendly rail drinks.

All the vodka exposure of my youth and almost none of it occurred under a fluorescent bulb. As I said, we are a Mediterranean folk with lovely olive skin. Put us under a fluorescent bulb with an open bottle of vodka and you might as well slap some yellow turtlenecks on us and start passing around the malaria vaccine.

What has this world come to when you can't even drink pretty bottle vodka under good lighting without a twinge of guilt?

I must say I debated with myself.

Note to self: Start wearing cell phone ear thingy in public so people stop looking at you funky during your self debates. On that note, the next time you think someone next to you in a public toilet is saying hello, she is probably talking on the phone. On the potty. How low falutin'.

I was frozen to that particular aisle for a long time pondering if my friends would judge me for the less environmentally but prettier vodka purchase. Decided no, the bulk of these folks live in Brookfield where they haven't heard of global warming and the effects on vodka yet. So I purchased a prettier, but smaller bottle of regular kind of vodka and hoped that people might drink it by candlelight to spare all of the world a bit of green where we don't need it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Every Party Has its Big Jobs

Subtitled: Should you invite Yassar Arafat since he's not really dead?

So, when we last left our hero, Juj was up to her eyeballs in high school memorabilia, none of which was ringing a bell for her when she was stumped by an ethical conundrum that goes something like this:

While recruiting people for your 20th high school reunion, are you legally obligated to invite the girl who threatened to kick your a** in seventh grade?

Now, I know some of you are thinking, who didn't threaten to kick Juj's a** at some point in the duration of knowing her? I may have made a snarky comment or two back in the day, may have been the jerk who threw off the Bell Curve leaving everyone else holding their solid "C." I may have overindulged in TP at your house because the TP at my house was rationed. I may have temporarily relocated the canoe from the top of the genuine fake wood paneled station wagon you drove to school. I may have sent the contents of my beer bong flying onto your shoes I may have guffawed as you spewed yours. I may have tipped your parents off about your house party when they were out of town 'cause I ate all the stale gum drops that have been sitting on your TV since the Nixon era. (Sue me, I like the crunchy ones!)Yes, I may have given some folks cause to threaten to open the proverbial can of whoop a** on me at some point in my high school career aka the Trail of Tears.

Cry me a river people, we all did that kind of stuff to each other in high school--that stuff was funny!! But when I was in seventh grade, I was an angel. Sweet, scared, preppy, smart, and sheltered, a deadly combination at Frank Lloyd Wright Middle, feeder school to Nathan Jail, feeder school to the Ivy League. Coming to a very urban school from my warm suburban cocoon on my first day, I saw a girl wearing a leather bustier with an inch of black eyeliner encircling eye snappin' gum and smoking a cigarette and talking about "her ole man." I thought, wow, rough teacher, before I noticed that she was in one of the kid desks, the kind that is either a lefty or a righty and there was an imbalance between left handed people and the gross quantity of left handed desks at FLW and if you were a dork, you were relegated to learn how to be ambidextrous, which comes in handy, but doesn't help dilute your dork status. You guessed it, I learned to write lefty at FLW.

The halls at FLW were riddled with girl students like this girl. Boy students had full beard, tats, and records, and the scared, sweet, suburban kids were outnumbered, outmatched, outhoused (fortunately not outwitted) at FLW Middle which after dropping me off on Band Day, my mother always said "Frank Lloyd Wright would spin in his grave if he knew they named that pit after him."

So that first day, I pulled up to my left handed desk and just tried to blend in. This was challenging as I didn't own any leather or chains and certainly, at that point anyway, didn't know what accessories went with hoochy mama boots.

But as I slunk through the halls in metal locker camouflage with my fellow nerd and best bud Meredith, I knew that she was a more obvious target because she was not only as geeky as I, but she came equipped with braces and and extra 18 inches of height which would serve her well later in life, but those additional dork qualities made you nothing short of a bullseye at Frank Lloyd Wright Middle. Yes, our combined dorkanality was the glue that held us together.

As a side note here on the braces, kudos to Meredith's peeps for ponying up for the hardware. My family, being of frugal Eastern European descent, didn't believe in braces. Here is a sampling of other things we don't believe in:

1. That anyone has walked on the moon

2. That anyone should trick or treat or acknowledge Halloween in any way, shape or form, but our Ouija boards and Tarot cards are wholesome family fun on game night

3. That Yassar Arafat is really dead because he tried that already once in the 70s--Ara fat Liar is more like it

4. Sleeping over at a friend's house when you have a perfectly good bed of your own

Ok, so I got my buddy Meredith as a target, got my collar flipped up and an alligator is over my pocket just like everyone else, when some chickie catches my eye, looks me up and down and her evil gaze stops on my shoes and says:

"Hmmmm nice shoes."

Ok, just reading the comment wouldn't necessarily portray the menace in her voice and the fear in my stomach. You may ask yourself if I was wearing something gauche, but I was sporting maroon Rockports from their Back to School Fall of '82 collection. I took this moment to do some cursory research and see what was "en vogue" so my eyes quickly draw to Micki, Frank Lloyd Wright Middle's answer to Coco Chanel, to see what that would be. It is penny loafers but if you're Mick, you stick a dime in the slot, not a penny. Curses being low falutin' and out of vogue by birth! Even if I knew that penny loafers were en vogue before I went to Warehouse Shoes with my mom and five siblings, my parents never would have cottoned to the extravagance of wasting an extra two pennies (yeah, one for each foot see how I screwed with that Bell Curve?) much less two dimes (that's like two wieners a week during the Great Depression) to just stick in the slots for decoration!!! Mick gives me a sympathetic look that says, "I like you but your shoes are dorky and I soooo don't have your back on this."A shoulder shrug, Micki catwalks off and the chickie continues.

"I oughtta kick your a**."

Ok, fortunately the bell rings and Meredith is so shocked her eyes are saucers and her rubber bands are torpedoing out of her mouth and we scurry off to class while my nemesis proceeds to the girls' bathroom for a cup of joe and a smoke 'cause she's having a nic fit. Obviously. Who knows how badly this could have ended if the bells of any given Middle School particularly Frank Lloyd Wright (not in his vision, just in his honor) were not set to ring roughly every 17 minutes?

So I'm forced to walk the FLW halls the rest of the day in my once beloved, now the Achillies Heel of Footwear, maroon Rockports.

Which I never wore again.

Which made my mom threaten to kick my a** for wasting perfectly good shoes that she spent $18 on!! Curses!! Had she budgeted an extra .20 for the Rockport penny loafers I could have been in spitting range of high falutin' and en vogue.

This incident came to be known as the Maroon Shoe Massacre of '82. A callous and unprovoked attack from someone who should have been making fun of Meredith. I never quite recovered from the shock and embarrassment of the brutality.

So, flash forward to planning my 20 year reunion and being the Almighty Recruiter and wondering if it is ethical if this particular bully's invite gets, shall we say "lost," in the can that is supposed to be recycling but sometimes the kids throw half full yogurt containers and banana peels in there contaminating the whole idea. See?? Not easy being green when you have kids.

I thought in order to sleep at night I could make a small effort to contact this hussy. So I looked out my son's bedroom window to see if she was smoking in my backyard with her Lee Press on Nails reaching towards me for her invite.

She wasn't.

But I'm confessing it here today--I didn't try that hard. For this one person. But every other of the 284 names on that list got a postcard, a phonecall, an email. If I missed a name, there were my co-committee members, all of whom were more thorough and mature than I'll ever be. If you ever had a street address, you got something. Which will bring a fair percentage of you to say something asinine like this:

"I've been living in the same house on the same street for my whole life and my younger brother still goes to Hale and I didn't get invited to the last reunion."

Let me fill you in on a little secret. If you are at the same house for 38 years you are most likely living with your parents--squatting in their three-season room or crashing with the wife and four children in their genuine fake oak paneled rec room. Throwing out your mail or marking it "Return to Sender" is their passive aggressive way to light a fire under your butt and get you to move out so they can afford a tutor for your 35 year old brother who can't seem to work up enough class credit to graduate Nathan Jail.

I have used this same excuse for not going to a reunion, so I know first-hand it is bullsh**.

Note to planning committees for Class of '88, 5 & 15 year reunion: Sorry for lying.

I have even received my sister's invites for her reunions at my house and with all good intentions, meant to give them to her but before you know it, they are covered in yogurt, banana peels and pudding in the recycle bin. Yeah, sometimes pudding gets in there too but it is important that we are trying to be better and they don't kill horses to make pudding. Hello Jello?

Note to Nathan Jail Class of '85 reunion committee for the 10, 15 and 20: FYI, Anja doesn't live with me which you would know if you looked in my recycle bin. She is better than a Druid at being green so there!

There is one exception to the "I didn't get invited" excuse--I didn't get invited to my 10 year. My committee friend and former School council member, Jill, was a little shall we say terse? for my "dissin' them on the 10." I told her I didn't know about it and she said yes you did--I have your address I get your stupid Christmas card every year! Something to that effect. When Jill and I put this unresolved tension behind us to work together for the 20th, I showed up with a pen that didn't work and she showed up with her maps, traps, yearbooks, protractor, compass, original autographed yearbook pages, letters of recommendation from her high school teachers, letter jacket, class list, Goody comb in her back pocket, "I want my MTv button," her Frankie say RELAX t-shirt, her Madonna-esque cone shaped bra, her economy size can of Aqua net, her and her Pop Rocks and what fell out of her files? Yup, my addressed and stamped invite to the 10th!! Jill, while always the Best Driver and faithful alum to our class, was a damn liar that she invited me to the 10, but unlike Yassar Arafat, her crime was forgivable so we moved on.

Other people who don't get an invite to the class reunion are either in jail or the witness protection program and you just don't want to be found, but we've done our best with what we had to work with. We'd looked at your arrest records, your trial transcripts, your appeal paperwork, your psychiatrist's reports (yea, its a fun class) and we just couldn't find you. Not 'cause we didn't want you. My parameters for being invited to the 20 year reunion for the class of '88 were if you have $50 and a smile, you're in. Provided you keep your comments about the Class Clown shoes to your damn self.

Disclaimer: Don't forget my Balkan people have a tendency towards exaggeration: No one was left out in the invitation portion of the reunion planning. The planning of my 20th high school reunion was a joyous and rewarding experience that enriched my life more than I ever thought possible. More than even childbirth and recycling. Each and every one of the 285 names that rang a bell to me (roughly 48 when all was said and done) was met with lots of love and happiness and nothing but thoughts of goodwill and peace for there was no greater group to walk the Trail of Tears with than the class of '88. Hope you all have had a "rad" summer like so many of you wished me in my autographed pages of my yearbook. Love you guys. Kiss Kiss. Also, if any of you can identify or remember a girl named Carie Jo Ferkovich, none of us could-- but even she got an invitation though we are starting to think she is in the CIA now. Feeder school to the CIA as well as Ivy League!! Hot damn, the think tank of southeastern Wisconsin.