Lexi Licks The Candy: A Cautionary Tale Involving Siblings



Today on Easter Sunday, I watched my two adult children, Lexi and Dylan, prepare a lovely meal for our family. I wandered in-and-out of the kitchen, working through my mundane chores, as they prattled on about nothing and everything, and prepped the asparagus and deviled the eggs and God knows what else to get the meal ready and on the table.

Lex, now thirty, Dylan not far behind at twenty-three… happily sharing the space together and if any outsider had stumbled onto the scene, they would have believed that these two peas in a pod always got along… just splendidly.

Yes, to unsuspecting eyes… all would seem well in the proverbial “sibling” kitchen… but they would be wrong. Very wrong. Because if they had been standing with me in the kitchen just several short months ago… they would have seen Lexi licking the candy and known… that appearances can be deceiving.

It was Halloween, the only traditional holiday I seem to like these days… and we had bought a ton of candy.

I had grown-up following in my mom’s footsteps and buying two types of candy: the good candy; Snickers, Three Musketeers, Butterfingers, the upper echelon of chocolate treats which my mom gave to her “favorite” trick-or-treaters, or children who’s costumes amused her, or a child who was charismatic enough to win her over therefore… receiving a coveted A-list treat. And… the other candy: the bag of mixed mini-tootsie rolls and lollipops that she gave to high-schoolers she felt were too old to be begging candy off of neighbors or, as back-up candy on particularly busy Halloweens when she rather stay up and give each child at least ONE tootsie roll, instead of having to concede defeat and turn off the porch light.

It was a candy code I had learned and mastered.

It was a candy code we lived by.

And if we had EXTRA candy after Halloween… my brothers and I of course always fought over the “good” bowl of candy… fought to the point of fist-a-cuffs and beyond. Blood would be spilled and it was well worth it.

Believe it or not, I never realized that Lex and Dylan had any arguments over the candy. Their fighting was so tame compared to the scenes me and my brothers created that I really didn’t notice it.

My two off-spring had never picked up a knife and threatened to stab a sibling over a Baby Ruth.

My two precious lambs had never tried to drown each other in the pool in hopes of stealing a sibiling’s pillowcase full of Halloween spoils.

No… I had not witnessed this type of brutality… but what I found last Halloween was that their war was much more strategic… diabolical in design.

It was the day after the big event. It was a lucky year for the siblings. Halloween had fallen on a week night and so we had been left with two full bowls: one of A-list candy and one of B-list candy.

I figured my kids were too old to really care if candy was sitting around the house so I made a mental note to take both bowls of candy to school and give them to my 11th graders as a fun surprise. But when I woke that morning, I found the A-list bowl was gone… and the pathetic B-list bowl was left behind.

I imagine I made a face at this moment. I thought of what my Juniors would think if I showed up with a bowl of B-list candy. I would be the “cheap” teacher… the one who didn’t go “all out” for her students… the one that skimped on trick-or-treaters and next thing you know… I would be the old lady who gave out demerits for wearing flip flops and referrals for cussing. No…  that wasn’t going to be me. So, I left the B-list candy behind and went to school empty-handed.

I forgot about the candy until I was back home in the afternoon but, as soon as I walked in and saw the pathetic group of tootsie rolls sitting in the bowl on the counter, my inner child became incensed and wanted to know just WHO in the HELL had taken all of the A-list candy?

I went upstairs and checked the children’s bedrooms: no tell-tale wrappers strewn across the beds… no bowl stashed beneath. They were clean.

I went back downstairs and looked around the living room: nothing. No sign of the chocolate.

I dug through every cupboard in the kitchen thinking their grandma, Nana, had hidden it. She was a known candy hoarder but… once again… nothing.

I grabbed my keys and headed out the back door. There was one room I hadn’t checked… the recording studio where Dylan practiced his drums and worked on his music. Maybe the candy was hidden there.

I put the key in the lock, jimmied the door a bit, gave it a push, then opened it wide to find an almost empty candy bowl on the floor and candy wrappers strewn everywhere.

“Dylan.” I whispered in an accusatory rasp. “You little bastard.”

I grabbed what was left of the candy and brought it back in the house.

When Dylan arrived home later that afternoon I read him the riot act for eating the candy.

“What does it matter?” he shouted back. “Why do you care if I ate the candy? Did you want it?”

“Yes,” I shouted. “Yes, I did! I wanted to take it to my students.”

Dylan pointed at the bowl of tootsie rolls and pops. “Well take that,” he said. “There’s a full bowl of candy right there.”

I snatched the bowl from the kitchen bar and held it up to his face. “I can’t take this candy,” I screeched. “This is the cheap candy. I don’t want my kids thinking I’m the cheap teacher that gives out bad Halloween candy.”

“Well, exactly,” Dylan said. “That’s why I took the other bowl and ate it. I’m not gonna eat the secondary candy when I can eat the good ones.”

I had to fight not to smile.

It was a real struggle.

I knew he was right.

I totally understood his logic.

But as most parents know… there is a time when you just cannot back down and this was one of those times.

I gave him my most vicious mother glance and said, “Go outside now. And don’t you dare eat any more of this candy.”

He sauntered off. His big pom of curly hair bouncing about as he tried to walk away without a smirk.

I leaned over the bowl of candy and sighed.

I knew I would have done the same thing.

I knew years ago I HAD done the same thing.

But it didn’t calm me down in the least.

I walked away from the candy and went to lie down on the bed.

Several days went by without event.

The A-list candy: just sitting on the bar.

No one touching it.

No one.

Not Dylan of course… but Nana and Lexi didn’t touch it either.

I started to wonder if something was going on each time I walked past it.

I examined it: It looked like the same amount of pieces were in there since the day I had scolded Dylan.

So, I finally asked Lex.

“Oh, I ate a couple,” she said. “But Dylan is the one that really wants it,” she dug through the bowl looking for a favorite . “But he told me you wouldn’t allow him to have anymore. Can you believe him?” she picked up a candy, unwrapped it and popped it in her mouth.

“I mean, he ate almost the whole bowl.” She swallowed the candy she had and went to unwrap another one. “The WHOLE bowl,” she repeated as she popped the second one in her mouth. “What a little asshole.  I didn’t even really want any this year. But he was being such a jerk, it made me want to take them all. Do you know that he actually took the whole bowl out into the recording studio, locked the door and wouldn’t share it with me?”

“Yes,” I said. “That’s why I wouldn’t let him have any more.”

“Yeah,” Lex said. “That’s what I thought. You know, he comes in here every day and if he sees me touching it… he gets all bent out of shape and says that I’m leaving my germs all over the candy… and that no one wants to pick a piece of candy that’s been touched by a bunch of germy people but in particular, me with my germy hands.”

And just then… I watched as Lex’s face registered some brilliant diabolical idea. It was fascinating to watch. It was just a moment… a brief second…. and before I could stop her, she snatched all of the remaining candy bars up out of the bowl and licked the entire package of each and everyone of them with a dramatic flair. Yes: Each and EVERYONE.

I watched as her tongue circled the wrappers and left a thick film of saliva from end-to-end. It was absolutely disgusting.

Then, I watched as she sat each one back in the bowl, walked to the fridge and grabbed some apple juice, and then wandered off to her bedroom as if I hadn’t been watching at all.

I stood there… stunned… wondering why I had never thought to do something so insidious when I was at war with my brothers over the Halloween candy. I guess that’s the difference between fighting at seven and fighting at thirty: more brain power.

Just then, Dylan walked in the back door and when he saw me standing by the candy bowl, came over and stood across from me as he eyed the leftover Halloween treats.

“May I have one of these now?” He asked sweetly.

I pushed the bowl towards him. “Yes, of course, go ahead.”

I watched as he fingered through the selection before making his choice.

“Lex was touching all of these,” he said with disgust. “I told her no one wants candy with her germs all over it.”

Then he ripped open the end of a Snicker’s bar with his teeth and began to eat it.

I tried not to smile.

“What?” he said.

I shook my head as if to say no.

“What, Mom?” he said again.

“Nothing,” I said. “Take them all.”

He looked at me suspiciously. “Did you do something to this candy?” He asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said. “I’m your mother.”

He picked up the bowl and headed out to the recording studio. “Good,” he said. “Cause I don’t want Lexi getting her germs on any of it. I’m taking it back out with me so she can’t touch it.”

I heard the back door slam and then a quiet little laugh come from the top of the stairs.

I craned my neck and looked up the stairwell to see Lex, lying on the floor, just as she had done as a small child, head pressed against the carpet, giggling with glee.

“YES!” she said as she held her fist up with triumphant joy before sliding back into her bedroom, shutting the door, and disappearing from my view.








My Very First Visit to Raji’s Night Club: Or… How I Survived Being Woolied and Molested by El Duce and Top Jimmy: Two Very Drunk and Disorderly Punk Rock Legends



It was 1985.

I was underage, barely 19, and sporting a fake I.D. the first time I went to Raji’s Night Club.

I was dating Joe Wood, who was already well-known as the lead singer of T.S.O.L. and I was new to the gig scene, just barely starting out with my own band: Gypsy Trash.

Joe was dead set on getting me to make the jump from gigs in Long Beach to L.A. but I was young, a bit unsure of the Los Angeles club scene, and really… a bit out of my element that night.

I had grown up under the watchful punk rock protection of legendary Long Beach and Orange County bands such as: Vicious Circle, T.S.O.L., The Adolescents, The Vandals and being baby sister to Jack Grisham, and then Joe Wood’s girlfriend, as well as a musician in my own right, I was used to being cocooned in even the most disgustingly seedy club environments throughout our “home” territory of L.B. and O.C. due to my connections to the notoriously violent boys of the scene but this… this was different.

It wasn’t that I was naive… I don’t think anyone in our punk rock crowd could have been considered naive… but the L.A. scene seemed harder, faster and I felt like a baby in their world.

I was withdrawn by the time we pulled into the back parking lot, trepidatious as we walked up to the Hastings Hotel, where Joe introduced me to Bernie the doorman, and down right disturbed as he lead me inside to the club.

The front of Raji’s was a thin dark corridor, smoky and dirty, with a long bar on one side, and there wasn’t a single familiar face for me to look to for comfort.

I felt like the perfect idiot 80’s girlfriend: scantily dressed, jet black cropped hair and large doll-like smile plastered across my face, as I waited for Joe to make the rounds of the room.

I didn’t want to seem like a downer or a drag so I tried to act cool. I think I even lit up a smoke, imagining at the time that it made me look mysterious and older, until Joe turned and pulled me close, kissed me hard on my forehead and whispered that he would be right back; he just wanted to find Dobbs, the promoter, and a bottle of Ten High.

He went off on his search, sure in the knowledge that his L.A. punk friends would keep me company until he got back but, being that I was an unknown outsider in their world, they all dissipated in a matter of seconds, moving off to the shady fringes of the room to snort coke, pop pills, chain smoke, or cop a grope while they waited for someone of notoriety and “interest” to walk their way and man… did they ever get it when El Duce and Top Jimmy came rolling out of the back room.

I knew both El Duce and Top Jimmy by reputation only and I swear when I saw those two together, stoned out of their minds, lumbering towards me, I actually felt my stomach drop and my hands turn cold.

I scanned the room for Joe, praying that he was close by but he was long gone.

I would have given anything to have my brother, Mike Roche, Ron Emory, any of my big Long Beach boys with me at that time.

I was trapped.

I looked down at what I was wearing: a tight white and black animal print dress, braless, bare legs, high heels.

I actually ran my hands down my sides in a panic just to make sure I was actually wearing panties that night; something we often went without during the 80’s so that the lines of our super tight dresses didn’t ruin the lines of our ultra thin figures and I was fearful that a small piece of black cotton cloth with strings would be my only defense against these Punk Rock marauders.

I looked at the door wondering if I could get out before they saw me.

It wasn’t an option… I wouldn’t make it in time.

I felt that my best defense was to hide in the shadows and so I backed up slowly against the wall, trying to be low key, but I knew I stood out like a debutante in a biker bar.

Everyone else was in black: black leather jackets, black leather docs, black leather pants, black lipstick, black eyeshadow and here I was, the Punk Rock Princess, with my large green eyes, my fair white skin, deep purple lips, looking like one of the girls from a Nagel painting or a naughty Punk Rock Barbie doll that those boys couldn’t wait to pick-up and play with.

Panic set in.

I side stepped and tried to hide myself in the dark corner but it was too late.

El Duce’s eyes locked on me; a brand new toy that he had never played with, and he stomped towards me, pants unzipped, sweaty large belly protruding from under his ripped black shirt, bald greasy head, glassed over eyes, God knows what drink in his hand, as he snatched me from my hiding spot like I was a rag doll.

He woolied me about and then held me tight until Top Jimmy, distracted by someone in the crowd, heard him calling to him to come across the room and meet his new baby trick.

Jimmy smiled: a big hill billy gap grin with numerous teeth missing from his mouth, and I thought to myself, Oh God… I’m about to be fucked by the punk rock men of Deliverance.

I looked back towards the door, hoping for help, but saw only Bernie who waved, gave me a big thumbs up and a happy nod, sure that I must like being woolied by two of the most notorious Punk Rock Legends of all time but I assure you… I did not.

El Duce and Top Jimmy had me pinned tight in that corner so fast that I was sure my initiation into the Los Angeles club scene was going to end with me being knocked up by El Duce: the most disgusting man I had ever met in the world or tag teamed by the both of them.

El Duce leaned in and laughed loudly in my face.

His eyes were crazy.

My mind reeled through the numerous stories I had heard about him: stories about El Duce and The Mentors sexual deviancy were legendary.

I felt like I was going to be sick.

I’d probably end up with crabs, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, just from him laying his dirty old fingers on my skin.

By this time, Top Jimmy was licking my neck and El Duce was up my skirt and trying to work off my underwear.

The amount of alcohol on their breath, and in the air around them was overwhelming.

I tell you… if I hadn’t been brought up with some of the hardest punks in L.B. and O.C. I probably would have fainted and woke up a victim of “big man” abuse.

Luckily… I kept my sense of humor, and my pretend calm demeanor, as I used my sass to keep El Duce’s hands from going “all the way” and Top Jimmy from covering my body with an enormous puddle of drool as I looked to reach for the nearest Budweiser bottle to clock those mother fucking clowns as soon as I could get a chance.

I felt my skirt being lifted higher.

I pushed El Duce’s face away as I turned to see what was going on with my skirt.

Top Jimmy was now pulling it up from his side and I knew if a miracle didn’t happen quick… I wouldn’t have much longer.

I scanned the room in a panic… praying someone would do something but everyone was completely oblivious to my plight or just accepted that when it came down to El Duce and Top Jimmy: You let them do what they liked.

Just as I was about to totally give up hope, Joe came strolling back into the room, one arm around a large, jolly man I could only assume was Dobbs, and his other hand firmly wrapped around a low ball glass, I could only assume was full of Ten High, acting like he was the God damn Punk Rock Frank Sinatra of the club scene.

I wanted to kill him.

I swear if I could have gotten a hand free from the lecherous grasp of El Duce, I would have clocked Joe with a Budweiser bottle first and then used the broken neck to ass torture El Duce in a night club.

Joe took one look at me being molested by the big men and rushed across the room and knocked El Duce away from me.

I will never forget the look on El Duce’s face: it was as if Joe had just pried raw red meat out of a wild bear’s mouth.

I thought El Duce was going to kill him.

But Top Jimmy loved Joe. He stepped in between Joe and El Duce, wrapping his arms around Joe, and soon… they both had El Duce calming down as Joe explained that I was his girl and that El Duce would have to move on to someone new.

I watched as El Duce clinked glasses with Joe, walked away, heading to the back room, but not before he turned around one more time, staring me down as if to say, Another time Princess, then pretended to jack himself off, flicking his tongue back in forth in a grotesquely sexually explicit gesture, as he disappeared.

I was furious.

Now that El Duce was away from me, I wanted to run back after him and slap his big fat greasy head as hard as I could but I was sure if I tried it, he would chase me all the way to the parking lot, all the way home for that matter, and make me sorry for doing it and so… I held my anger for another day.

Top Jimmy, was nothing more than a toadie. Without the likes of El Duce to egg him on he was soon happily entrenched at the bar with Joe, settled in for a long night of drinking, while Dobbs, who took an immediate fancy to me, babied me the entire night and made sure that I wasn’t left alone again.

I can’t say that it was an enjoyable experience, but it was of course, and infamous one… and a story worth telling.

It’s been thirty years since that night at Raji’s… Dobbs, El Duce, Top Jimmy all long gone now… and I’d like to think that Dobbs and Top Jimmy with his big goofy smile are somewhere off in a musical Heaven; Dobbs telling stories and Top Jimmy apologizing for his sins.

But El Duce?

I’m sure El Duce went down swinging.

Off in some Punk Rock Purgatory on the outskirts of Hell: wrecking havoc and mayhem and I imagine… still loving it.

Neighborhood Barnyard Critters


The Barnyard Critters

It will be a year ago this next month that my chicken, Matilda magically appeared in my life.

It was late night, while I was walking the park, when this funny little red head popped out from behind a tall pine tree and called to me as if she had been waiting for me and only me.

It did seem like fate that evening… the way she followed me down the road, sure… now that she had made herself known to me, that I must realize immediately that we were kindred spirits. And I must admit, no matter how I pretended to protest to my friends walking with me that evening, how we already had too many pets how I didn’t need a chicken in my heart, I already considered her mine.

And so… when I said begrudgingly, “Come along, Matilda”  she seemed to smile at me and say, “See? You did know my name! I knew you were my bosom friend.”

And now, I have Frida. She, like Matilda, was also left abandoned late night at the park and as I saw her dark red shape huddled down by a tall oak, I realized that unlike my Matilda, she was just a baby… unsure of herself and the world…. and that she had resigned herself to her fate: the dark of the night and the idea that she may not survive the moment.

Once again, I was with a friend who even said to me, “You are not going to bring that chicken home.” But I could not leave her to fend for herself, and as I stepped up quietly on her, making soothing whispers, my hands gently reaching down to enclose her, she cried small coos that reminded me of the sad sound of the mourning doves that some times nested in my tree outside my bedroom window… as if she longed to go home… where ever that had been… and couldn’t understand how the people she believed had loved her… had left her there… all alone.

“Don’t cry, Frida,” I said quietly and then I held her tightly to my chest and watched as she laid her head in the crook of my arm, her bright yellow legs stretched out like spindly twigs beneath her, the only part of her body which betrayed her fear at being handled by a stranger.

Shocked from her experience, it took her nearly a month to come close to us and almost two before she would eat from our hands yet now, she sits bravely each day, on top of the small table on the porch, eating grain from a tin, and acting as if she is queen of the yard.

And then there was Rupert.

Unfettered by feathers and claws, a fat, hairy little hoofed black and white pig, who was brought to us in a cat carrier, dropped at our house by someone who believed that a pig was “way too much work.” His tiny little tail the only thing we could see swishing through the holes in the side of the cage as he hid his face from us, unwilling to come out of the carrier. My son and I understood his fear and so… we quietly popped the top of the cage, lifted the lid, and watched the wee small man climb over the edge and head to the mound of chicken feed on the dirt, while our pet squirrel, Jax, now five years past being “Star of the Yard,” watched in horror from the roof top as if to say, “Two chickens and now a pig? Are you out of your mind? Isn’t a squirrel enough for you?”

Rupert, entitled from day one, threw his weight around daily. He destroyed gnomes, stepped on top of our German Shepherd, Emma, as though she didn’t even exist, and pushed his way closer to me and what he believed was my endless handful of  “manna.”

And really… I can understand why people choose not to have critters when I am surrounded by so many needy animals.

They are noisy and messy.

They must be fed and cleaned on schedule.

And of course, like any pet, you take the risk of falling in love, becoming attached, and losing them, heartbroken, to a hundred different maladies.

But really… is this any different from anyone or anything we love in life?

When I picked up Matilda that night in the park, brought home Frida, gave Jax her first peanut, accepted Rupert into the yard, I had no idea the gift that I would be given in return.

The stories I am able to tell, the people that share in the joy of my barnyard world, and the community that has been delivered to my front yard gate due to this motley crew of critters.

Every day, when I sit and write, I hear out my office window a steady stream of foot traffic coming to my yard to see my pets:

I know that Kay’s sister is about to retire from teaching, is an author like me, and that Kay loves to keep turtles.

I know the toddlers, Faye and Mia, believe my yard to be magical and almost always wear their princess gowns when coming to visit.

I know that Bruce and Bridget, the widowers, met in French class, wed in their 70’s (after long successful marriages to other people) and found solace and joy and love in each other.

I’ve learned that Richard works late but still rushes down the street in his work suit so that he can bring his boys to see Rupert before my pig goes to bed. And I know that his son Max’s autism finds peace in the quiet petting of my animals.

And even as I write this, I stop to meet Eric and Bekah, a young married couple who live over in the Ranchos and had heard about our yard, word of mouth, questing out on their bikes across the busy street, to find this “mythical” farm yard and were actually just leaving when a young boy named Logan, not more than four, ran up to my fence with his brother, mother, and father, following close behind, to let me know they had just gone to the pet store to buy mice for their snake, but had stopped by to check on my pig. Logan racing back as they left, to give me a flower saying, “You can put it on your computer so when you write, you think of me.”

It would be a fault that I could not bear to carry, if I did not acknowledge how my “cup runneth over” by what some would consider a burden, a nuisance, a hindrance.

The joy I find in these shared moments of togetherness are worth the work and the risk.

How fortunate am I to have a life filled with children and neighbors who find a moment of connection and happiness on a random corner of Anywhere, U.S.A.

There is a comfort in knowing that I will watch these children grow over time, as they first walk past my house on their way to elementary school and then soon… maybe even becoming my own students when they are teens, and one day… when I will be gone as we all soon will… may still stop at my front yard gate with their own children, point to a particular corner of the yard and say, “When I was little this garden was a magical place.” And though I will not be there to stand witness to the moment, I find solace in knowing that I will become a thread in the stories they tell.

The Food Poisioning Incident: Or how I found out that Stephen truly loved me.



Many years ago, when Stephen and I were first dating. We liked to go out to Hof’s Hut for dinner.

It was just one of those silly stupid things you do when you are first dating: Go to “your” regular spot. Order “your” regular dish… and try on “being” a regular couple.

It had only been about a month, but we seemed to be doing a pretty good job of getting along and easily bonded over our shared love of Chicken Tortilla soup.

So one night, we followed our regular routine: soup at Hof’s… and then headed back to my house to lay on the bed and watch some mindless TV.

I don’t remember who fell asleep first… but I do remember who woke up first: that would be me.

I felt funny.

I felt woozy and sweaty… poo sick basically and so I quietly snuck off to the bathroom where in just a matter of seconds… I eliminated what I thought was my entire dinner and most likely also my meals from the previous day.

Like most people… for a moment… I felt relief and was sure that I was fine.

I washed my hands, splashed water on my face, and then headed back to bed.

It wasn’t more than a moment later that my stomach began to cramp and I knew that I was in trouble.

This time… there was no “walk” to the bathroom… I raced towards the toilet… just making it in time… where once again… I thought that everything exiting my body could not have been found even if I had chosen to do a HIGH colonic.

I put my elbows on my knees… I felt the room spin…. I was hot and irritated and upset that I was dating.

I was irrationally angry with Stephen who was sleeping peacefully in my bed.

I heard an Exorcist style voice from inside me hiss, “GET OUT!”

But there was no movement from the other room.

Stephen slept on… blissfully unaware of the horror that was taking place in the bathroom.

This time… I was unable to exit the toilet for a good fifteen minutes.

I knew then, that something we had just eaten had made me sick.

We had basically had exactly the same thing yet Stephen was fine.

It must of been the Ranch salad dressing, I thought to myself. He had the Honey Mustard. I seethed. “Fucker…” I whispered. “Fucking men.”

When I felt able to rise, I quietly crawled back into bed, weak and worn and hoped that I would be able to sleep.

“Are you okay?” I heard Stephen whisper from the other side of the bed.

I wanted to say, “No. Go home now. I’m sick and I don’t want you here to witness it.”

But we were new in our relationship and I was still trying to hide behind the facade of the perfect woman and so I said, “No I’m fine. I was just a bit sick to my stomach but I’m okay now.”

I would have to say… that amongst my many “famous last words” that these sit firmly at the top of my “wish I hadn’t said that” list.

I closed my eyes… and fell to sleep… thankful that I seemed to be stable after my incident.

I don’t know how much time passed… ten minutes… fifteen… but I had crossed over to the place in which you are definitely asleep but still… something in your brain… is awake and watching. Like… when you are observing your own dream or listening to someone rustling around in the kitchen late night… a quiet alarm really somewhere off in the distance… but still not yet in a place where you are “willing” to wake up and see what’s going on… and that… is when I needed to fart.

I could feel the urge to push and yes… somewhere… inside of my twilight… I thought… maybe it would be a bad idea… but I was too far gone… too far worn and groggy and so I pushed and immediately felt the warm rush of wet sludge fill the back of my panties as if filling a hot jelly doughnut.

My eyes opened wide… I moaned in embarrassment when I realized what had happened. I saw the stain on the bed and ran to the bathroom, hoping nothing more would escape my pants.

I barely made it to the toilet before I began vomiting.

Can you imagine?

Four weeks of dating…

Still in the limerance of the moment…

Never a burp or a fart or a misstep and now… on the floor… shit seeping out of my underwear…. my head halfway down the toilet… vomiting and crapping myself… sobbing uncontrollably between bursts of excrement and bile: the perfect picture of Aphrodite in all of her glory.

I heard a gasp and looked up to see Stephen standing at the bathroom door and that is when I completely lost it.

“GO AWAY!” I screamed. “DON’T LOOK AT ME!”

But look he did.

In fact, he even walked into the bathroom, grabbed a hair clip from the vanity and pulled my hair back.

My crying grew louder… so touched by his small act of kindness and so embarrassed that my current “love interest” was seeing me at my absolute worst.

“Please go home Stephen,” I cried. “Please… I swear I will be okay. I just need you to go home now.”

I felt him place his hand on the back of my head for a moment before he walked out of the bathroom and closed the door quietly behind him.

I cried hard against the rim of the toilet seat. My sobs echoing in the bowl before I once again lost all control and my body gave way at both ends.

I stayed there for sometime before my pain eased… and then I stepped into the shower: panties and shirt still on… to clean the excrement from my body and clothes, before stripping naked, drying off with a towel, and heading back to the bedroom to clean up the mess that I had left all over the sheets.

But when I opened the bathroom door, and walked to the bedroom… there was no mess.

There were fresh sheets on the bed… a large towel placed across the spot where I would be sleeping… a lined, clean trashcan by the side of the bed in case I got sick again in the night… and a good, good man waiting to see if I was okay.

“I couldn’t leave you,” Stephen said. “I wouldn’t have felt right about that.”

I can’t tell you how much this still touches me today: to be with someone who doesn’t leave… who doesn’t abandon someone at their worst.

I sobbed all over again knowing that this time… I was the lucky one.

Stephen helped me into bed where he held me close until I fell into a deep sleep that lasted into the early morning.

Of course… by then… Stephen was also shitting himself… vomiting uncontrollably… and writhing around on the bathroom floor in pain.

It was the soup… not the dressing: Our shared love of Chicken Tortilla had betrayed us.

But seriously… it was okay.

We spent 24 hours caring for each other living on Saltines and Gatorade.

We laughed… we cried… we crapped… we vomited… and we swore… and then… we shared a vow… a solemn vow… that we would never eat the Chicken Tortilla Soup at Hof’s Hut ever, ever, again… as long as we both shall live.

Dylan Begs for a Posh Spice Doll for Christmas causing Joe to have an Extreme Homophobic Moment.



When my children were growing up, Thanksgiving morning signified the beginning of the BIG CHRISTMAS PUSH.

Why? Well, because it was this particular morning that our local newspaper would arrive wrapped heavy with all of the holiday catalogs and weighing more than our Thanksgiving turkey.

Lexi Lou and Dylan would run for the ads, wooly zip-up footed pajamas on, Crayola markers in hand, fighting over particular pages as they rushed forward to lay on the living room floor and circle their holiday fantasy toys to their hearts’ content.

I didn’t think much about it… seemed normal to me.

I can’t tell you how many times I ran the SEARS catalog ragged marking page-after-page of needed Barbie doll swag and G.I. Joe’s before strategically placing it on top of my parent’s reading pile by the upstair’s toilet ensuring that it would be considered often and seriously.

But the year SPICE WORLD came out… something happened that changed this mundane yearly routine into a homophobic episode for my husband, Joe.

Dylan, who was in 2nd grade at the time, had grown-up with a houseful of women.

We loved to put him in dresses, paint his toe nails, tie bows in his hair and by the time he was 7, Lexi Lou and I felt, we had created a pretty solid little “metrosexual.”

(note image below)

Minnie Mouse

Joe, had tolerated these acts over the years, and though he had never exhibited homophobic tendencies when out with our numerous gay friends, something seemed to “snap” when it came to his own son.

“You better not make him gay,” he said to me on several occasions.

“I can’t make him GAY, Joe,” I said, full of exasperation and annoyed that my “liberal”  husband sounded so much like some poor man’s version of Rush Limbaugh. “And what’s the matter with you?” I snapped. “You’ve always supported Gay rights? Have you lost your mind?”

He inhaled a long drag off his smoke and blew it in my face. “I support the rights of everyone to be gay except my son” and then he walked away to go pout in the garage.

I knew, deep down, that if Dylan were gay, Joe would come around and would accept it, but I could also see the man that had grown-up with a father who had given him shit about his long hair and tight leather pants and that there was a whole other “meta-story” going on in this continuous conversation.

And so the sins of the father are repeated on the son, I thought to myself, before I went to find Dylan to see if he might let me paint his toe nails for awhile.

It wasn’t more than five minutes later that Joe came to find me.

He stomped through the backdoor, stomped through the kitchen, grabbed my arm by the front door and dragged me into the hallway.

“What now?” I asked.

“Did you see this,” Joe snarled. “Did you see what Dylan circled in the Christmas catalog.”

I had seen a lot of the circles actually. I mean the kids had a good hundred or so toys in their “Must Have for Christmas” rotation.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Joe.”

He held up his fist to reveal a mostly crumpled Christmas ad with one large circle on it.

“Look!” he said as he slapped it against my chest. “Look at what your son circled.”

Oh Jesus, I thought, he just said “your” son. I always knew it was bad if Joe said “your son” instead of “my son.”

I walked over to the bed and pressed the crumpled pages gently against the spread and flattened them once again and there… in all its glory was a large picture of a POSH SPICE doll… circled for all the world to see.

I looked back at Joe, completely clueless.

“So?” I said.

“You did it,” Joe said. “My son’s gay. My son is totally gay. I hope you’re fucking happy.”

He grabbed the catalog page off the bed, crumpled it into a ball, threw it to the floor and stomped out of the room.

He was halfway down the hall before he shouted, “And if you buy him that fucking doll, I’m not gonna be here on Christmas morning!”

My calm exterior did not betray the intense fire that had just been ignited.

He had thrown down the gauntlet.

He had drawn a line in the sand.

Tell me I can’t buy my son a fucking doll you homophobic bastard… I wanted to scream. I’ll buy him a God damn rainbow shirt that says, EXTREMELY QUEER and a pair of ass-less chaps, fucker!

But instead, I kicked the bedroom door shut behind him and readied myself to go brave the crowds the next morning, buy Dylan his POSH SPICE doll, wrap it and place it under the tree, on Christmas day, as a gift from Santa: who, I wanted to bring to Joe’s attention, looked pretty gay in his leather boots, red fur suit, and his beautiful bearded “bear” appearance.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Joe assumed, due to my uncommon silence, that he had won the battle, and I was pleased that he had underestimated my vengeance for once. It made it all the easier to gloat Christmas morning, as I sat watching him smugly enjoy Dylan open his “gender specific” Legos and G.I. Joe’s and Lexi open her “gender specific” Barbies and My Little Ponies.

I couldn’t wait to rock his “gender specific” world.

We were down to the last two presents.

I handed Lexi her box and Dylan his.

Lexi unwrapped her’s first: it was a new water polo ball.

Joe loved that Lexi was “athletic” so… he didn’t think anything about it but then… something in his eye twitched and he looked towards the box in Dylan’s hands.

I smiled a cruel smile as my son ripped open his gift and squealed with girlish delight at his new prized possession: a POSH SPICE DOLL.

Joe folded.

I actually watched the manhood melt away from his big furry frame.


He tried to smile as Lexi ran out to throw her ball in the pool and Dylan ran to his room to play with his doll.

“Don’t you ever tell me I can’t buy my son a doll again,” I said with steely determination.

Joe eye-balled me but didn’t speak.

He got up quietly from the chair and went out into the backyard to smoke and watch Lex play.

It was about thirty minutes later, as I was cooking breakfast, that I realized Dylan was still in his room. I leaned back from cooking our Christmas scrambled eggs and craned my neck to get a better look.

Bedroom door still closed.

Pretty quiet.

“Joe!” I shouted from the kitchen.

Joe walked in from the back and grabbed a piece of crisp bacon from the plate on the bar.

“Could you go check on Dylan?” I asked. “He’s been in his room this whole time.”

Joe looked concerned, worried that his son wasn’t enjoying his Christmas, as he padded off down the hall to quietly check on Dylan.

I went back to the eggs when I was suddenly startled by the loudest cry of joy I had ever heard on Christmas morning: it did not come from a child. It came from my husband.

I dropped my spoon and stared down the hallway at Joe.

He was doing some weird little dance and I could hear Dylan shouting from the bedroom, “STOP IT DAD! GO AWAY!”

Suddenly, Dylan’s door slammed in Joe’s face and Joe rushed towards me, his face inches from mine, as he whispered, “I win. Do you hear me? I win…” and then grabbed a biscuit and bounced off into the living room.

I turned the heat down on the stove and walked quietly to Dylan’s room to see what the hell Joe was so happy about.

I opened the door slowly and there found my son enjoying his POSH SPICE doll.

Her white undies and high heels were strewn across the rug, her black skin-tight dress was hanging from the nightstand.

He had Posh completely naked and propped up on his lap as they watched SPICE WORLD together.

God damn it, I thought, the little bastard’s straight.

I closed the door and walked back to the kitchen.

I could see Joe in the living room, playing his guitar, shit-eating grin on his face, smug as can be, singing a stupid little song and laughing at me every few moments.

He couldn’t have been more proud of Dylan if he had graduated “high honors” from M.I.T. or had won a Grammy for Artist-of-the-Year.

I stewed in the moment… hating that I had to concede defeat… when suddenly I felt a small arm wrap around my waist.

“I love my doll, Mom,” Dylan said with a big hug. “I love her so much. Thank you for telling Santa to get her for me.”

I reached down, my anger melted by the gentleness of my little man, as I hugged him hard and kissed the top of his head. “I love you,” I whispered noting his camouflage jammies and his red painted toe nails. “I love you just as you are” I said.

Dylan smiled, as he ran over to love on his dad.

I watched as my two furry “bears” played with Dylan’s new doll and bonded over their mutual attraction to the “hotness” of POSH SPICE.

My Decision to Prank Joe Resulting in a Severe Error in Judgement and a Near Drowning Experience

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DD and Joe in love

I was not perfect in my marriage.

(As this story will soon prove)

But often times… Joe is blamed for the complete demise of our relationship and I’d like to go on the record as saying: I was at fault too.

Those of you who knew Joe and I as a couple would probably remember us as: passionate… tempestuous… or the crueler of you… dysfunctional.

We definitely ran the gambit of emotions, from love to hate, and often fought our way through our relationship but, always found our way back to happiness through a mutual love of laughter. And so… Joe would tell jokes and act out vivid stories, after one of his many benders, when he hoped to melt my anger and get back in my good graces and I… would prank him with practical jokes: My only way of “getting even” with him without really… “getting even.”

By the time we had been together for several years Joe had already fallen victim to many a prank:

The time I told him if he put a hair clip on his nose it wouldn’t really hurt, demonstrating on my own nose, but not really clipping it tight, as I watched Joe mimic me, the claw like mechanism biting into his fleshy skin as he screamed in horror, cried out in pain, and tears ran down his distorted face.

Or the time I pretended I was an alien, just after he had finished watching Communion and Fire in the Sky, giggling with glee as I heard him claw in the darkness at the hall door, moaning in horror, as he tried to escape from the creature that he somehow imagined was behind him, horrifying in it’s unknown image, as he remained unable to unlock the door in the dark.

And Joe, though not always a “good sport” would always accept this form of comically cruel punishment as a consequence for his behavior.

He knew what he put me through.

Everyone knew what he put me through.

And so… this is how our story went.

It was mid-winter.

Joe had been on quite a run: fresh off tour… cocky in away that comes from being fawned over on the road… and coming down from two months of excessive partying.

T.S.O.L. had been on Mtv when they hit New York and I had noted in the interview that Joe had chosen not to wear his wedding ring, later telling me that “It looked better for the band if he appeared single.”

But his big-headed attitude… his flippant reply… had stayed firmly stuck in my craw for weeks and I knew… if a situation arose at home where I could make him pay for this mistake that didn’t involve a bat, a knife, or a gun… I would.

I would in spades.

So… I waited.

Waited patiently.

And one day… the moment came.

I was in the house when I noticed Joe standing out in the backyard.

He was having a smoke: Marlboro Gold dangling from his lips… old flannel shirt loose against his tall frame, ripped up jeans that were tattooed with a Sharpie, his black steel-toed Chippewa knee-high engineer boots kicking at the cement, his hair long and ratted… basically… a version of a biker devil hanging out by my pool.

I watched as he put his cigarette in his mouth and clamped it between his teeth, holding it steady to smoke, as he reached for the long-handled pool brush and began cleaning the deep end of the pool.

I knew then it was time… time to make him pay… and so… I opened the sliding glass door slowly… inch-by-inch…. making sure that no noise would betray my motives… as I finally slipped through the small opening of the door and tip-toed towards him.

The sun was my ally that day… my shadow unwilling to betray me… as I crept forward… barefoot… sly…. like a cat focused on prey… everything else fading away as my vision tunneled and my mark grew larger in my sights.

He didn’t have time to react.

He felt my hands slam hard against his back…

He heard my guttural scream of revenge… the power of a woman scorned echoing across the neighborhood… and was already mid-deep in ice cold pool water, on his way down to the bottom of the basin, before I even heard an “Oh fuck…” escape his lips.

I jumped with joy… a small girlish jump into the air as if I had just won a hopscotch contest or was pleased after a first date with a boy I really liked.

I turned away from the water and skipped towards the slider… dancing my way into the living room… big smile on my face… sated in my childish joy and waited for Joe to respond.




It was then that I registered something was wrong.

I turned and looked towards the pool; barely a ripple… no Joe.

I felt my right eyebrow arch and my lip curl.

Ah ha! I thought to myself, I know your game.

And so I stood facing the deep end with my arms firmly crossed upon my chest.

Waiting him out.

Sure he had turned the prank on me.

But several seconds passed by and Joe did not emerge from the pool.

I felt myself grow twitchy.

I could hold my ground but this just didn’t feel right.

I hated giving in… but I would have to concede defeat… so I rushed to the edge of the pool and looked to the bottom.

Joe was there alright.

Pinned down by the drain.

His arms waving, his mouth screaming a silent “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

He looked like one of those inflatable air dancers you see in front of used car lots: arms waving wildly skyward… body bending in a snap happy rhythm from side-to-side. A living marionette screaming for me to pull the strings as giant bubbles of air rocketed up towards me to break quietly on the surface.

It was then I realized that I had miscalculated my prank terribly.

I had not taken the time to scientifically calculate: more mass… given distance… dexterity and drag.

JESUS, my brain shouted at me: He was wearing knee-high steel-toed motorcycle boots you IDIOT!

Boots that could each easily hold a 5-gallon container of pool water.

Boots that could weigh a man down as if he were an over-sized submerged paper-weight on a concrete desk.

My mind flashed to scenes from The Godfather, Goodfellas, and numerous other gangster genre clips before I fell to the ground and grabbed at the pool pole that now leaned against the edge of the deep-end and thrust it forward towards Joe, who had been unable to reach it; too far from his grasp.

He snatched for it and I saw his white knuckles press tightly against the silver metal. I watched as he used it for leverage… pulling his legs up out of his boots and breaking quickly to the surface where he gasped for breath and clawed his way to the edge.

Unable to speak.

Unable to move.

His head resting on his arms, his lips blue, as he drew in great draughts of air and tried to regain his strength.

I didn’t move.

I was terrified.

Though I hadn’t planned to drowned him… I thought in my moment of anger I would enjoy watching Joe be taken to “the edge” but it wasn’t how I imagined it at all… how it always played so “funny” in the movies.

I waited… my face close to his…. waited as I watched for his eyes to connect with mine and forgive me for my own unforgivable act… and soon… his breathing slowed… his head turned towards me and his eyes focused on mine.

“I…” he panted.

“Yes?” I said, now touching his arm with tenderness… waiting for it…

“hate you…” he said as he climbed out of the pool and crawled towards the sliding door.

“Joe,” I stammered. “I didn’t mean to…”

“Hate… you,” he repeated as he stripped naked in front of me, a furry Yeti, angry and wet making his way through the house.

“HATE YOU!” he screamed as he passed the kitchen and stomped through the back hall where he then doubled back to our second slider by the side of the house and pressed his naked ass against the glass… his only means of vindication… before a hot shower… would set things right.

I didn’t follow him… I let him have the last word and the last obscene gesture.

I sat on the porch steps and waited for the shower to stop… Joe to dress… and hoped with all my heart he’d come back out for another smoke.

I was still looking at the pool… the scene of my most recent crime, when I heard the side slider open and then felt Joe sit down beside me and light up a smoke.

“Fucker,” he said as he took in a deep hit and blew the smoke out up into the air before kissing the top of my head.

I said nothing… everything between us had already been said.

We loved each other… despite it all and so I nuzzled in next to him… my head down… overwhelmed by all of his wrongs, overcome by all of mine and promised that I would never prank Joe again.

Saving the Crack Baby

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I was 36 and back in school working on my Master’s degree. It had been a hard week. I was in the middle of a difficult divorce, teaching middle school during the day, taking classes at night, and resentful that Dylan my youngest, was left at home while I had to make a new life for my family due to my X’s departure.

I was in my classroom at school finishing up my final thesis essay, for my FINAL Master’s class, when I realized my printer was not working.  Frustrated… I typed the last few sentences in a rush, slapped my thesis onto a floppy disk (which makes me laugh now to think of it) and raced out of the building in hopes that I would make it to the class on time, which was next door to a teacher resource center, where I would be able to print out copies of my thesis, present it to my class, and argue my educational philosophy and hopefully, receive a stellar grade , an advanced degree, and finally, be back home again with my kids.

I arrived in a frantic state. My teacher, Dr. Isabel was an amazing teacher, a fantastic woman, but quite the stickler regarding class minutes. I rushed to the TRC with just moments to spare, flashed my district I.D. and ran towards an open computer and printer. I put my disk in the disk drive and watched in horror as the computer screen flashed, “DISK ERROR. DISK UNREADABLE”

I felt like I was going to vomit.

Dr. Isabel would never go for a Master’s candidate showing up to the final class, ill prepared.

This was disaster.

I had heard stories of students having to repeat entire classes after this type of incident.

I was terrified to walk into the classroom… but I steeled myself for the moment and marched in: the last one to arrive and the first one scheduled to present.

“You ready?” Dr. Isabel said with barely a glance up from her notepad, where I could only imagine she was planning to write, Deidre Wood: FAIL. Obviously some type of idiot who wandered into my class believing that “Master’s” means, show up to class unprepared with your head up your own ass.

I could barely breathe.

I told her what had happened with my disk.

“So, you didn’t have time to print out your papers for your classmates this week prior to our class time?”she asked.

What could I tell her?

My husband just left me?

I’m a total wreck?

I’m only doing this so that I can make more money and take care of my children?

“No, I didn’t have time,” I mumbled.

“Sit down Deidre,” she said as she scribbled fiercely on her tablet before asking another one of my classmates to begin the presentations.

I don’t remember much from that class other than that I felt full of despair, and that I just couldn’t catch a break. Despite what had happened between myself and my husband, I missed him. I missed my life with him, no matter how flawed, and at that moment… I just prayed that he would come back and we could start again.

Dr. Isabel asked me to give a brief presentation sans notes and print-outs at the end of class and then asked me to stay after.

This is it. I thought. This is where she tells me I’m going to have to repeat the class. My heart was pounding, I was ready to pass out.

“I’m sorry Deidre,” she said. “I understand that you are going through a hard time.”

Her kind words almost sent me over the edge and I fought not to cry in front of my college professor.

“I’ll give you one hour to go home and send this to me through email and then I will decide where we go from there.”

I nodded my head, afraid to even try to speak.

“I’m sorry,” she said again and then turned and walked out of the classroom.

I headed back to my car and tried not to freak out.

I could get home and get this emailed to her within the hour. It was do-able. She had always admired my writing and so, I started to become a bit hopeful that my thesis, and the fact that I had never missed a class, always received straight A’s on her assignments, and never acted like a jack ass, would be enough to carry me through.

In fact, by the time I reached the stop light on Spring and Cherry, I was feeling almost happy again until I turned and looked at the driver in the car sitting next to me: my ex-husband.

He was in his old ’59” Ford. He looked cleaned up in a hot greaser way: fresh Tres Flores on his hair, black short sleeve shirt, tattoos, dark glasses, and blues blasting from his stereo. It was a horrible moment. One of those moments when you know that your X has moved on and you are still the broken idiot trying to remove the pain from your forever wounded heart.

He turned and looked at me and nodded and waved as if we were both just out on separate errands and would plan to meet up at home for a nice dinner later. His cavalier attitude towards me and his obvious lack of remorse, related to our almost twenty years together, infuriated me. I acted “as if” waved back and then waited for him to turn the corner before bursting into tears and sobbing in a way that I haven’t since I was a very small child.

Just then my cell phone rang. It was my good friend, Christy. I pulled over and answered the phone still blubbering. She offered to come meet me but I said I really just needed to be on my own for a bit and process everything.

“What about your paper?” she asked.

What about it, I thought but said, “I’m just going to go to the park for a bit and catch my breath and then I’ll head home and work on it.”

“You sure you don’t want me to meet you?” she asked.

I said I was sure and then hung up the cell and called my mom to let her know that I would be home a bit late.

I went to El Dorado Park and pulled my car up to the duck pond. It was a pretty day, but not a weekend, and so only a small group of people were taking advantage of the lovely weather. I climbed out of the car and sat up on the top of a picnic table, with my feet up on the bench.

I looked out over the pond and watched as a young couple walked the lake with their toddler and a stroller with what appeared to be a baby in it.

They were both reed thin and after all of my years of spending time around recovering drug addicts, I pegged them right away as a Crack couple. They were arguing with each other over everything, twitchy and a bit erratic. He was light-skinned black and she was a tow-headed white and even from my distance, I could see that her face had been picked and scratched a thousand times.

I watched as he held the stroller, shaking it back and forth, in a motion that would suggest he was trying to calm the baby but actually reflected his agitation with his wife. She made a face and rolled her eyes before grabbing their toddler’s hand and walking away from the pond towards the playground in the park.

And that was all it took.

One dirty look.

One harsh word.

One moment and everything changed.

He let go of the stroller and rushed after her to grab her arm and I watched as the stroller rolled into the duck pond, flipped, and the baby disappeared under the surface of the water.

His wife screamed.

He rushed forward and jumped in trying desperately to find the baby in the murky pond.

I felt like I was locked into a moment of time and unable to move.

It was a moment I would never want to repeat.

Then, he pulled the small, soaked, blue bundle from the pond and looked directly at me, locked his eyes directly on me… and screamed, “HELP!”

Suddenly, I  jumped forward, dialing 911 on my cell phone as I ran, rushing around the path of the pond, trying to get to the father and the little lump in his hands that still hadn’t moved in those few seconds.

I watched as he ran towards me from the other side of the pond,  then panicked… stopped for a moment… and sat the baby on a low tree branch limb and began to shake it as if the vigorous amount of energy… his extreme passion for his child… could magically revive him.

“Don’t shake the baby! ” I screamed praying that I would get to the father before he did something totally irrational. “Stop! Stop now!”

He looked at me and I saw that his face was now blank… already gone… already in the “bad place” the place that ever parent fears.

I heard, “911?” answer on my cell and as I reached him, he thrust the baby towards me as I forced him to take my phone, speak to 911, and hopefully distract him from what I was now holding in my hands: a drowned baby.

I registered so much in that moment, my motherly instincts, my animal rage at their carelessness, everything seemed to escalate inside of me.

He was so small, with beautiful black curly hair, his eyes closed… his perfect little lips, a cupid’s bow of a mouth, already turning a light shade of blue. I cradled him in the crook of my arm and rested his tiny head in the palm of my hand before I reached my finger into his mouth and cleared it before starting CPR. I put my mouth over his mouth engulfing his tiny little nose as well and released my warm breath twice into his tiny lungs.

He didn’t respond and so, I pressed my mouth to his once more. I felt fear wash over me… that moment when you know that someone’s life is in your hands and you hope that everything will work out as you planned that all of your competence, that everything you have ever believed you are, lays open in that moment.

I pressed my mouth to him again and prayed that he would come to and suddenly… he was there.

He spit up milk and dirty water and his awakening was both relieving and comical.

His tiny fists balled up tightly, his arms shook in what seemed to be anger, his eyes widened with astonishment and I swear I heard him say, “Holy Shit!!! Did you see what just happened to me? That guy tried to KILL me!”

There was a moment, when it seemed like I would forever know him, that somehow… he would forever be mine… and then his father snatched to grab him from me as I pushed him back, unwilling to give the baby up so soon. I cradled the baby gently to my chest, my ear pressed against his back, listening to his breathing become regular with a small rattle somewhere deep inside of his lungs. I held him so tightly, as if to wrap him in my heart and prayed that somehow my strength would find a way to guard him… or protect him… as he grew older in this world.

I told the father to find me a dry shirt or blanket for him as I gently removed the baby’s wet clothes and then swaddled him in an old worn out sweatshirt and gave him one last long look, before I handed him back to his father.

He held him as his wife and toddler cried next to the empty stroller now sitting on the grass.

The paramedics arrived and rushed towards them and I watched as the father presented the baby to them as if they had won a gift for showing up first to the party.

I didn’t stay… there wasn’t anything for me to say.

I took my cell phone, walked away, happy to be forgotten in the shuffle, and the first person I thought to call and tell this story to was my husband before realizing… that in the horrific excitement of the moment… I had forgotten that he wasn’t my husband anymore.

I looked at my phone, paused, and called anyways.

We talked for a few moments, my earlier anger now completely dissipated by the thought of how fast life can change, that making amends to the father of my children was more important than holding my resentment and destroying everyone with it.

“God put you there,” he said. And I thought, yes… he did.

I went home and emailed Dr. Isabel my paper. It was late, definitely past the extra hour she was kind enough to give me, and I had no idea if it would be accepted but I didn’t care. I told her about running into my husband, I told her about saving the baby, I told her if I hadn’t been distraught over what had happened in class that the baby might have never survived and I accepted my fate.

Three weeks later, when my grades arrived in the mail. I had a solid “A” and a Master’s degree. I was proud of that degree… and I still am… though it will always seem a consolation prize compared to saving a human life.

And now, I often think about where that baby is and if he might one day end up in my classroom as my student, or cross paths with me somewhere again…  and I wonder why God put him in my way… and what God has planned for me further down the road.

Saturday July 13th through Saturday July 27th: Ms Wood will be on SUMMER VACATION!

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no swimming

Enjoy one of your favorite posts from the past until I return to entertain you!

And thank you for your loyal following.

D.D. Wood

Yearbook Class creates a Special Show Flyer for Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic resulting in the Children being Visually Scarred for Life and Ms. Wood Rethinking her Postion on Internet Filters

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This is Yearbook.

The class I am in charge of at Millikan High School.

They are a wild, spirited group and I love them dearly.

One day, excited by the fact that the school had finally turned off the internet filters and had left the viewing discretion up to the teachers, I offered the kids a chance to create a Photoshop flyer for my friend Steve Soto and his band Manic Hispanic, believing that I was giving my students a life experience that would be considered valuable.

Now, being that this is high school, it wasn’t as if everyone jumped up and down and raised their hands to participate but… they did however… begin googling the name Steve Soto and Manic Hispanic happy to finally be unfettered from their technological bonds.

“This is so bad ass, Ms. Wood,” one of my senior editors said. “We can go on Facebook. We can go on Google images. Now we can really get some great Yearbook work done.”

I had my doubts about this statement but they were so excited, so punch-drunk with their new found freedom, that I felt I was in no position to bring them down: that would be like waking up on Christmas morning and finding out that you had received zero presents and Santa had also shit in your stocking.

“Oh,” one of the kids said after looking Manic Hispanic up online, “They do some type of Mexican gangster thing right?”

Everyone looked at me waiting to see if it was okay for us to like a “Mexican gangster” thing in the classroom.

“Well, yeah..” I said. “But it’s like a parody. Can anyone tell me what a parody is?”

Ten hands jumped up.

If we were going to bend the rules a bit… I figured I better find a way to keep the California Content Standards firmly in place while we did it and cover my ass in case someone found our Yearbook curriculum to be lacking.

I listened as they all babbled on about parodies and then I told them what they were supposed to do.

“Steve told me he wants something like Blood In Blood Out for the flyer. Do you guys know what that is?”

But before I had a verbal answer to assure me that they knew exactly what Blood In Blood Out was, a Latino cult classic crime-drama film, I saw twenty little teenage hands hit the keyboards hard and type in the words: Blood In Blood Out and two seconds later, there was a deafening moment of complete and total silence before loud screeches began to echo across the tops of computer stations and fill the classroom.

“What?” I screamed from my desk. “What are you freaking out about?”

I stood up to look at the computer screens and found that each and everyone of them was inundated by photos, photos once highly banned at our school site, now prominently displayed, in full-color glory, on our classroom monitors.

“OH MY GOD!” I shouted as I rushed towards the computer stations.

It was horrific I tell you.

A teacher’s worst nightmare.

A total lack of control.

A total educational malfunction.

Who would have known that the words: Blood In and Blood Out would bring a flood of cancerous anal polyps up on each and every screen?

My students were screaming.

My students were gasping.

Some of them just sat there, so stunned by the visual assault on their senses, that they just stared, mouths agape, at what they were viewing and all I could think was Jesus Christ how the fuck am I going to explain this one?

I knew what I had to do.

I stood tall and put on my teacher voice and said firmly, “Stop what you are doing and take your hands away from the computers.”

Everyone pulled their hands back as we continued to stare… mesmerized by the anal polyps… unable to look away.

“That is so weird,” one of the editors finally said followed by, “Can we Instagram them to someone Ms. Wood?”

Oh my God… NO… I thought to myself but out loud, I knew that if I didn’t act cool about this, they were going to pull out their iphones and start clicking because… that is exactly what teenagers do… when they smell fear in their teacher.

So I pulled out my iphone, snapped a photo of the anal polyps and made a big deal about how funny it was going to be for all of us to send it to my friend Sharla Bafia who was a “real goody two-shoes” and would totally freak out.

They all loved being in on the joke so they sat giggling softly, as if she could hear us, as we waited for Sharla’s response, which of course was almost instantaneous and read:  “WHAT THE FUCK DUDE?”

We all had a good chuckle as we shut the images of anal polyps down and tried to strike them permanently from our memory.

I kept my game face on but inside… I was beyond relieved that I got out of that situation without it turning into a total clusterfuck.

“Okay,” I said calmly. “Let’s try this again. But this time, please type in the words: Movie Blood In and Blood Out.”

Everyone did as I asked, with only a sly devious smile or giggle here or there, which I shut down immediately with my most vicious teacher stare.

How’s it going? Steve texted right then.

I didn’t want him concerned about the anal polyp incident, he needed this flyer posted within the next hour, so I just replied: Great!… and went back to watching the students.

And for about twenty minutes, everything was totally calm as they pulled film images off the internet, and all vied to created the best band flyer for my friend until someone shouted out, “What should we use for a background?”

I was typing away on my own computer, not really paying attention to what they were up to once things calmed down, and so I shouted out absentmindedly, “I don’t know… black and gold sounds good right?”

And I heard once again twenty little hands go to type words… this time… black and gold… into the computer… and once again there was a moment of complete silence followed by a series of sharp screams, which this time, was punctuated by a few solidly loud, OH MY GODS!

I jumped, startled, and saw on each screen a large black man, walking two naked white women who were chained and completely covered in gold dust.

“OH JESUS FUCK!” I screeched without thinking.

Each head turned.

Each mouth dropped.

Suddenly, the focus was directly on me.

“You said fuck,” one of the editors whispered.. shocked by the unfiltered internet but stunned by Ms. Wood loosing her cool.

“You said Jesus and fuck in the same sentence,” someone else said in a mocking tone.

“God damn it,” I shouted. “Everyone shut down Google image RIGHT NOW!”

They didn’t move.

“I said RIGHT NOW!” I screamed as I pointed my finger at them and stomped my little feet.

Not one student disobeyed.

Everyone shut off Google image and sat quietly.

Really… what was there to say after what we had all witnessed in the last thirty minutes of class?

I wasn’t even sure how to proceed with the entire situation.

I was firmly in the camp of open internet filters in our high school community but obviously… I hadn’t thought it entirely through.

“Liz,” I said to one of my senior editors. “Make the flyer for Steve. Everyone else. Go on Facebook and just relax for a few minutes.”

Facebook: the crack cocaine of the high school world.

Suddenly, caught up in their social networking addiction, the incidents of the class faded into the background.

I went back to my desk knowing that Liz, responsible and capable, would knock that flyer out in minutes and if once again assaulted with anal polyps or black men with naked gold women, would just shut it out of her mind and continue to get her work done: There was a reason she was the number one editor and had a A+ in Yearbook.

She was an educational bad ass.

Once again I settled down… I prayed to St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, and hoped that I wouldn’t have twenty parent phone calls by the end of the day.

And that was when my computer was taken over remotely… by our staff computer administrator: Mr. Rios… who had obviously been trolling for “inappropriate content” the first day of our unfiltered technology school existence.

Having fun with those unfiltered computers in there Ms. Wood? The message read.

I leaned my elbows on my desk and covered my face with my hands.

I had no response.

The jig was up.

He had witnessed everything from his secret post.

I wanted to type back: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Or just the numbers: 1984.

But instead, I just sat there… eyes covered… mentally taxed… and listened to the happy click of my students fingers in the background as they blissfully went on with their Facebook instant messaging… until I heard another beep to let me know he had messaged me again:

Okay, it said. Being that I’m Latino I get the whole Blood In Blood Out mishap and obviously… they are enjoying the whole Facebook freedom right now but…  how did you guys end up with the black man and the naked chained women covered in gold dust?

And right then my phone went off.

It was Steve of course asking about the flyer: Is it done yet? he asked innocently but already worked up from the entire event, caused by my need to please my friend, make my kids feel like big shots by having them create a hip band flyer, and show how totally cool Ms. Wood was in her “alter band world” I so wanted to respond from my flawed shadow self and text in all caps: SHUT THE FUCK UP STEVE SOTO! YOU’LL GET YOUR GOD DAMN FLYER WHEN YOU GET IT!”

But instead… I wrote… Almost done… and covered my eyes again with my hands… hoping that it would all just go away.

There was another “beep” signaling once again a new message from my computer administrator.

Well Ms. Wood? It said.

I had to concede.

And I hated to concede but in this case…. I had to admit that I might be wrong.

I’m rethinking my whole opposition to the internet filters, I typed.

You bet your @ss you are!  He wrote back and then unlocked my screen and let me get back to work.

“Done,” Liz said from her station and I walked over to find that she had made a fantastic flyer for my friend.

“That looks great,” I said.

Manic Hispanic Yearbook Flyer

“You sure you wouldn’t like me to add an anal polyp or a black man with chained naked women covered in gold dust?” she asked.

I gave her the evil eye.

“Obviously not,” she said sarcastically. “So who am I sending this to?”

Five minutes later, Steve had his flyer and was posting it on Facebook, the bell rang and the kids left, and it seemed that maybe they were not permanently scarred after all… And I sat down for a moment to calm my mind and let go of the atrocities of the last hour, praying to God that I would never see an anal polyp, a black man with naked chained white women covered in gold dust, or a message from my computer administrator, in my classroom, ever, EVER again.

Barnyard “Foul”: Dealing with Rupert a Purely Evil Pig wrapped in Cuteness



This is Rupert.

Rupert is my new pet.

A mini-pot belly pig given to us by a couple who realized they had made a seriously poor impulse purchase.

They had a backyard entirely of cement.

A front yard with no fence.

Both had full-time jobs and so leaving the little three-month old piggy man in the house all day while they were gone was a recipe for disaster.

Rupert is (and this is an understatement) a handful.

But… we were willing to take him from his owners. We had a houseful of pets and I had been hoping to get a pig or a pygmy goat to be friends with my chicken Matilda, for quite awhile and so… within the first week of taking Rupert… I believed I had made the perfect choice: Matilda loved him.

They wandered around the front yard together; Rupert rooting around in the grass making big dirt holes with his snout. Matilda by his side eating all of the worms that he uncovered… a bit like a gang-of-two and we began to call them by their aliases… Ham and Eggs.


They were inseparable.

But then… the trouble began.

Rupert became comfortable with his new environment and his Prima donna personality began to shine through.

He didn’t like to be touched when outside in fact, he squealed and jumped back each time one of us approached him.

But at night, when he came in for dinner, and to go to bed on his furry little leopard skin blanket on the cool tile floor of the bathroom, he flipped over on his side expecting a full body massage as he smiled, yawned, smacked his little piggy lips, and stretched his little cloven-hoofed legs out in front of him and batted his long piggy eyelashes.

He was adorable… but of course… he seemed to believe that he was completely entitled.

By week two, we realized there was trouble on the horizon.

The front yard had giant patches of grass entirely removed… Matilda’s chicken feed had to be hidden from him or like the pig that he was… he would gobble it all down without a second piggy thought and… being that he is a very smart little man… he seemed to know exactly when the clock struck 6:30pm and so… he would  rush to the front door, squeal and bang on it repeatedly until we let him in for dinner and bed.

The sound was terrifying.

Charlotte, our youngest, actually heard his commotion and her eyes grew big as she said, “My God! It sounds like you have a Changeling at the door!”

A White Walker

A Zombie

A Pig Nightmare.


Or as my good friend Warren liked to call him: a Purely Evil Pig wrapped in Cuteness.

Now… of course my children loved to post photos like this on Instagram:


Fooling you into a false sense of pig security as you say to yourself, “Awwwwwwwwww. How sweet! That Rupert is just the cutest little thing! D.D. must be exaggerating in this story.”

But I tell you, he is the devil.

The other night, I wouldn’t let him in a half-an-hour early for dinner and as I stood in the laundry room, getting ready to turn on the dryer, I heard a loud crashing sound from the front yard.

Afraid that something serious had happened, I rushed to the front door, opened it, and there I saw Rupert, his little piggy legs spread apart in a stance of defiance, his snout held high, one of my prized ceramic gnomes now decapitated and lying severed; body on one side… head on the other… across the front walkway.


“Rupert?” I asked. “Did you do that?”

He wiggled his little piggy nose, pushed the decapitated head with his snout, and let out a loud snort as if to say, “FUCK YES I DID IT! And guess what? There’s more where THAT came from lady!”

I stared at him… he glared back.

I was shocked at the little bastard he had become… and just as I was about to punish him for his behavior by closing the front door and making him wait and extra hour for dinner, Ringo, aka Bastard Number Two, our male teacup chihuahua, ran outside, lifted his leg and peed inside the broken innards of my gnome’s head.


I watched as Ringo’s urine puddled inside of my gnome’s little broken red cap… dumbfounded for just a moment… before I became enraged that these assholes were actually biting the hand that feeds them.

“THAT’s IT!” I shouted. “You fuckers get the fuck away from my gnome!”

Rupert ran for the bushes.

Ringo ran for the house.

As Matilda watched from a distance, her head cocked slightly to the side, amused to see her little toadies torment and mock me.

“Keep it up,” I said. “You’ll be chicken dinner, he’ll be Christmas ham,” and here I turned to shout inside of the house, “And you Ringo will have your balls chopped off.”

There was complete silence.

No one moved.

I reached for my broken gnome, dumped the pee from his cap and placed his bisected remains into a large flower pot.

I turned on my heel and went inside to sulk in the quiet of my office but not ten minutes later… piggy brat Rupert was squealing at the front door.

“Mother fucker,” I yelled, which didn’t stop Rupert from squealing but did cause my mother to mute Two and a Half Men long enough to shout, “God, the mouth on you!”

Too worked up to even yell at the “Old” I opened the front door and watched as Rupert passed me without another sound and made a B-line to the bathroom where he expected to find his dinner in his bowl.

When he saw that it was empty, he kicked over his water dish and stomped his little feet and THAT… was IT!

I had HAD it!

I smacked his fat little pig butt, and he didn’t even care, he just threw his weight into it and then turned around and screamed at me.

I physically turned him around the other way, as he wailed bloody murder and pushed against me… but I wouldn’t have it… I made the little bastard go to his piggy bed.

“NO!” I shouted. “NO RUPERT!”

He refused to turn around then.

He faced the wall and stood there.. defiantly… ass to my face… refusing to listen.

“Do you understand I won’t tolerate this behavior?”

He begrudgingly swished his tail once, just like a spoiled child who realizes that he has lost the battle but that the war isn’t over yet, and he understood.

I swear I could hear him chanting in his little piggy mind, I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

I closed the bathroom door and went to get his dinner.

By the time I came back… he was rooting about, fluffing his blanket, as if nothing ever happened.

The little shit.

I reached down and fed him, then watched as he licked the bowl clean before flopping over on his side, tired and world-weary from his little tantrum, ready for his full body massage… as if we had made up… and all that transpired was now: water under the bridge.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

He grunted.

I sighed as I sat down on the toilet and rubbed the little man down.


It was no different than dealing with a tired toddler.

He stretched and yawned and I resigned myself to my fate.

In the morning we would try again.

In the morning we would find a way to make this right.

In the morning, I would go to Jack-in-the-Box and eat a Breakfast Jack with ham and in that way… extract my revenge on Rupert.

Yes my little man.. that’s right…. a BREAKFAST JACK WITH HAM.

Oh Rupert…

My little piggy demon.