Monthly Archives: February 2011

All Good

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when people are trying to reassure you, they just end up making you feel worse? Like when your dentist is working on your mouth and says “uh-oh.” The fact that he follows that up by saying, “Don’t worry: we can fix that,” is, in all actuality, not that reassuring. Or when your pilot comes on over the intercom and says, “The good news is that we are almost definitely going to be able to clear the first set of trees.” Or when you’ve been involved in a terrible accident and the first person on the scene looks at you and says, “Well, at least your right leg is still attached.” I’m positive that each of the above statements were meant to be reassuring, and yet, in reality, they were most decidedly anything but.

When it comes to truly anxiety-provoking statements, though, nothing beats the seemingly innocuous phrase my teenage daughter, Clementine, has begun to use constantly. I’m referring, of course, to the dreaded, “It’s all good.”

Consider the following true story of a recent “it’s all good” conversation. It happened the other week, when she and her friends borrowed our car—our only car, I might add—and, after being gone with it longer than anticipated, called me to say, “Um, yeah, we had a little car trouble, but it’s all good.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“Don’t worry. It’s all good. There were so many people in it that we were able to push it out of the road no problem. It’s all good.”

Every time the phrase “it’s all good” came out of her mouth my stomach dropped a little bit further. And yet, she kept saying it. Like it was soothing or something. “Where are you now?” I managed to choke out.

“Don’t worry. It’s all—”

“Please, please stop saying that,” I begged, my stomach somewhere in the vicinity of my feet. “It’s not helping.”


“Because I’m starting to doubt whether or not you have a real firm grip on what ‘good’ means. Or ‘all’. And maybe, even, for that matter, ‘it.’ All I know is that you cannot simultaneously describe something as both ‘trouble’—as in ‘car trouble’—and ‘all good.’ If it was all good you wouldn’t have needed to call me in the first place.”

“Chill. We’re taking care of it. It’s all—”

“Okay, just tell me one thing: is ‘good’ the new slang for ‘screwed up beyond all repair’? Because when I was a teenager we thought it was cool to say ‘bad’ for ‘good.’ Like ‘that car is bad.’ Meaning ‘good.’”

I could hear her eyes rolling over the phone. “Mom. People still say that. And no, I mean ‘good’ like in ‘good.’”

“Really? Because the time you dropped your iPhone you said it was ‘all good,’ too.”

“It was. It still works. Sort of.”

“Yeah. That’s what I was afraid of. Just bring the car back home, okay?”

Silence, followed by a much more subdued, “Are you mad?”

I smiled grimly at that. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. It’s all good.” And then I hung up.

Let her enjoy the “all good” anxiety for a while.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive

Pizza Pizza

The first thing you need to know is this: for my son, Clyde, pizza is like crack. No, he doesn’t smoke it. And, as of yet, he hasn’t started stealing stuff to pay for it. But he does have the same obsessive, paranoid attitude toward his pizza that I imagine crackheads have toward their stash. Which means that, as far as Clyde is concerned, no matter how much pizza there is, there’s still never enough to go around. When it comes to the pie there is not, and never can be, enough. Certainly not enough to share.

Bearing that in mind, I wasn’t too surprised the other night when I saw him walk into the bathroom with some pizza: of course he would never trust the rest of us enough to just leave his pizza sitting there, waiting for his return—even though we had gotten five (five!) pizzas that night. And I wasn’t too surprised to see him go in there with not only one piece of pizza, but with two—one in each hand. And I wasn’t even surprised when, a few minutes later he came walking back out, still holding the same pieces of pizza (it had been a quick trip). I was a little disgusted, though, because he was still holding one in each hand, and that immediately led me to the question of what had he done with both of those slices while he was attending to business? Because I’m assuming he didn’t just go in there to check his hair. And that was when I realized, as I often belatedly do, that I really didn’t want to know.

He set them on the sink, I told myself firmly. He set them on the sink. Maybe if I repeated it enough times I would start to believe it, but considering that I had just that morning had to stop him from licking the bottom of his shoe, I had my doubts.

I used to be proud of the fact that my kids weren’t afraid of a little filth: the way they were the only kids at the campfire that would not only pick up their own hot dog and eat when it fell on the ground, but pick up other people’s as well. I started to question the wisdom of being proud of such a thing, however, the time one of them picked a hot dog up from off the ground and started eating it and we hadn’t brought any hot dogs—or other people—camping with us. Or the time one of them came strolling out of their room eating a piece of pizza, and we hadn’t ordered pizza for over a week.

Which brings us back to Clyde’s recent pizza multi-tasking.

I have to admit that it definitely wasn’t the grossest thing I’ve ever seen go into a bathroom—that honor goes to a former room-mate of mine who liked to eat his Frosted Flakes on the toilet every morning (at least it wasn’t Cocoa Puffs). And it also wasn’t the grossest thing I’ve ever seen come out of a bathroom, either. We live in an older house, with older plumbing, so believe me, I’ve seen more gross things come out from under the bathroom door than through it. (If I live to be a hundred I’ll never forget hearing the words, “When did we get a brown carpet for the bathroom?”)

But Clyde’s stunt was certainly the grossest thing I’ve ever seen both go in, and then come out. And it was all because of Clyde’s love of the pie. I suppose people have done worse things because of their addictions—at least I’ve never come home to find Clyde passed out amongst a stack of empty pizza boxes and an empty spot where my TV used to be.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive

True Believer II

The thing that has always impressed me the most about the Flat Earthers, the Obama Birthers, and the Westboro Baptist Churchers, is the depth of their beliefs. (Okay: maybe impressed isn’t the word I’m looking for; maybe flabbergasted would be more to the point). So, anyway, the thing that has always flabbergasted me about those people is how they genuinely seem to believe all of those hateful, misspelled signs they are carrying. And so, even though I generally despise the views they are espousing, I have to admit that it really does impress me how terrier-like they are in maintaining them.

In fact, so impressed was I with their doggedness in maintaining their beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence that I used to think they must have some kind of a superpower (a lame superpower, to be sure—super cluelessness—but a superpower nonetheless). That was the only explanation that made sense to me. Surely, I thought, reality-denying of that magnitude was not possible for the average human to attain without some kind of help: there had to be something out of the ordinary going on for such devotion to nonsense to exist. A radioactive raccoon bite, maybe, or perhaps exposure to too much swamp gas. Or who knows, maybe even some serious Scientology—anything that would enable them to get that out of touch with reality. In other words, whether from inside the brain or out, I just figured they had to have some sort of chemical help.

And then, of course, I had a teenager, and I realized how wrong I was. Because once I had a teenager I realized that there are levels of denial that I had never even dreamed of, and that the people who think that the moon shot was faked, or that the Pyramids were built by aliens have got nothing on your average teenager.

Take seat belts, for example. Ever try and argue seat belt usage with a teenager? Forget about it: they are a a veritable font of misinformation on the subject.

“Put your seat belt on,” I’ll say, and the child who has been obligingly doing just that ever since she got out of her car seat will look over at me and say, with complete sincerity,

“You know, seat belts actually kill more people then they save every year.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“This guy at school. He’s a senior.”

“He’s an idiot. Put your seat belt on.”

“He’s not. He read it on this website.”

I’m so old I remember when the indisputable source was “my cousin’s girlfriend’s sister.” As in, “Dude, I’m telling you: my cousin knows this girl—well, I think it was his girlfriend’s sister or something—but she was actually on the grassy knoll. And she says that it was aliens that shot Kennedy. That other guy, though—he did shoot the Governor.”

The thing about a “cousin’s girlfriend’s sister” story was that at least it was relatively easy to debunk—a couple of probing questions and it would fall apart. (“Dude, I met your cousin: there’s no way he’s got a girlfriend.”) With the internet, though, it’s a little more difficult: there probably really is a website out there that advises against seat belt use. In fact, it’s probably right next to one where the Westboro Baptist Church gets their “facts.”

Who knows, maybe one day there will be a bit of confusion and everyone from that church will drive to a funeral protest without wearing their seat belts.

We can always hope.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive


There’s one thing that has always bothered me about the “little old lady who swallowed a fly” song. (Well, to be honest, there’s lots of things that bother me about that song, but I’m only going to discuss one of them at the moment.) I can understand swallowing the fly (who hasn’t inhaled a bug at some point in their lives?), and I can kind of understand swallowing the spider to catch the fly. Heck, I can maybe even understand swallowing the bird to catch the spider—but the cat? Really? I think at that point most people would just cut their losses and live with the situation. (Or go to the ER.) Or at least, that’s what I used to think, until I saw what happened when my daughter’s boyfriend lost his cellphone inside her room.

The first thing you need to know—and what anyone who has ever been in my daughter, Clementine’s room and lived to tell the tale will tell you—is how easy it is for such a thing to happen. And so, in the beginning, everyone was calm: the boyfriend simply asked to borrow Clementine’s cellphone so he could he could call his; alas, hers was also lost somewhere inside the room. So then he borrowed mine. And promptly lost it. Inside the room. Now, while most people would start to suspect that they were the victim of a malicious poltergeist, and maybe call for an exorcist (or an exterminator), he did neither, and instead borrowed another phone.

I think you can see where this story is going. (Even though, obviously, he couldn’t).

The question, of course, at this point becomes “Exactly how big is her room?” I mean,
to lose that many ringing cellphones, you’d think that you were talking about an area the size of the Bermuda Triangle. Curiously enough, though, by most estimations her room is just a little bit larger than the average walk-in closet. So how, you may ask, is it possible to lose that many phones in a room the size of a Yugo? The answer, unfortunately, is filth.

The sheer volume of filth that fills her room manages to double, triple, and quadruple the amount of surface area to the point where looking for a cellphone in her room is worse than looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s more like looking for a severed head in a landfill. Or at least, it’s equally disgusting. Because what’s the worst thing you’re going to find when you’re going through a haystack? Hay, right? When going through Clementine’s room, hay would be the best case scenario. Worst—and more likely—would be a dead pony, pressed flat between the layers of debris like some kind of grotesque flower. (I saw that on an episode of “Hoarders” once, except it was a cat. Still gross.)

Actually, it was a cat that finally ended up forcing her to clean her room and find the phones. Not a dead one, though. A very much alive one. One that was so alive that it decided to take a dump somewhere in her room. (I found the cat leavings when I was in there looking, unsuccessfully, for the phones myself. And then refused to tell her where it was).

Perhaps it was the last remnants of humanity left inside of her (after fighting against assimilation by the teenage collective), but that ploy actually worked: she cleaned her room, and found the phones. Of course, within days it was filthy again, and things like remotes (and yes, phones) were once more going missing. I considered feeding the cat about a pound of tuna and then locking it in her room to inspire a repeat performance, but was afraid I’d just end up losing the cat.

Come to think of it, maybe I can see the Little Old Lady’s point after all.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive