Saturday, October 27, 2012

All you need is ... sports

I never thought I’d be saying this, but I think the world would be a better place if women talked sports. Relax, men, I don’t mean talked sports with you. I mean with each other.

Just imagine ... there’d be no misinterpreting innocent comments, no later analysis of tone, no backhanded compliments to be offended, no subtle nuances -- just cut and dry stuff like “The Braves really sucked this year, didn’t they?”

Women wouldn’t have to worry about if they’ve forgotten their girlfriend’s daughter’s birthday or failed to notice right away that they got their late-in-life braces off. All they’d need to know is if the Bulldogs won and whether or not they need a new kicker.

It would really eliminate a lot of pressure.
Now, to be clear, I do not mean they should talk about their kids’ sports. While most women are supportive of one another kids, there’s still a gray area when it comes to who brought the best snacks and who has volunteered more often in the concession stand. Believe me, it exists.

Men do not have that. I can only guess it’s because they simply don’t care. I actually envy them. They don’t have to worry about staying in constant contact with their friends and knowing every aspect of their lives and wondering whether they are mad at them or not. They can go years without seeing each other and then pick right back up by asking, “Been playing much golf?”

In fact, I used to think sports were invented to give an outlet to the natural competitive spirit that we humans have, but now I think it’s so men can avoid these awkward issues. It’s no wonder they never complain of getting their feelings hurt after hanging with the guys. If a team is bad, they’re bad. Scores don’t lie.

As long as sports exist, men will always have something to talk about. I realize there are plenty of women who know sports and can discuss it without mixing up game, match, meet and umpires and referees. To me, that alone is impressive.

Though I have to admit, I have never seen two women discussing sports. Ever.

I have noticed, however, that every reporter on the field at football games is a woman. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be there, but I wonder if it’s now a requirement to get an interview.

Regardless, I do think women knowing about sports is the wave of the future. My daughter is an all-around athlete who can watch football, volleyball, tennis and basketball (among others) and discuss the plays intelligently —with her father. She doesn’t believe me, but I told her that would get her far in business and in life.

As for me, I like the status quo. Women chatting about sports with one another might bring about world peace, but I’d sure miss my friends.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween horror tips

For a kid who has never seen an R-rated movie, my son knows a lot about them – particularly scary ones.

He can describe the plot of classics such as “Psycho,” “Amityville Horror,” “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Jaws,” “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “The Blob” and many, many, many more – a fact that is quite horrifying to his mother.

Apparently, one of the television channels is showing a scary movie a night. While I was out of town at a writers’ conference, he was home watching – not the movies – but the commercials.

“Who do you think is scarier, Jason or Chucky?” he asked.

After much debate, we decided that, while Chucky is certainly creepy and worth checking twice under our beds for, his small stature gave us the upper hand.

“Who do you think is the scariest out of all the horror movies,” he asked.

That was easy – Michael Myers.

And forget the movie, I remember borrowing the book, “Halloween,” from a friend and reading it on the bus.

“What’s ‘The Shining’ about?” he asked.

I could have regaled him with the details, but instead, being a mom and scared to death of that movie, I said, “Nothing you need to know about.”

To his credit, he didn’t press. Some stories are better left dead and buried.

With his help, I have compiled a list of do’s and don'ts if you happen to encounter Chucky, Jason or, gulp, Michael Myers this Halloween:

Don’t answer the door if you hear scary music. For example, the “chee, chee, chee” sound that Jason’s waiting outside with a knife.

Girls, don’t go parking with boys and vice versa.

Don’t pull the cover over your head when you hear footsteps.

Don’t watch scary movies alone.

Don’t move to a deserted hotel in the middle of winter. Just don’t.

Do lock the door when you shower. Yes, I do.

Do carry your cell phone. Home lines will always be cut.

Do get cable, so your child won’t sit in front of the television mesmerized by static.

Do not trust anyone who smiles like Jack Nicholson.

Do expect if you buy a scary mask for Halloween, your kid will sneak up on you while you are doing laundry and not say a word.

Do rent Monsters Inc. this Halloween -- or ET, and cuddle up with your kid.

That seems to be the best defense of all.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wanna be a runner?

As part of my mass effort to improve myself, I decided to pick up my feet and start running.

I’ve described myself as a wanna-be-runner for years. In case you want to know what that is, it means as I’m driving downtown and I see people jogging, I think, “I wish I could do that,” and then turn up the AC. Over time, however, I’m chipping away at the wanna-be part.

My first 5K was two years ago. I was very proud of my time. An impossibly-thin friend I had not seen since high school saw me after the race and asked me what my time was. I proudly told her (note that I am not writing it here).

“That’s a great run for a 10K,” she said.

“Oh, that was for the 5K,” I said.

Her face said the rest.

Since that time, I’ve entered more races, and I’ve run better times. I set my PR when I was running with my best friend. She had done the couch to 5K training plan. I assumed her 5K time would be like my first 5K time. We stayed together the first two miles. By the third, she was still talking, and I knew I was in trouble.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“Just. Can’t. Talk,” I managed to get out during breaths. “Go. Ahead. Save. Yourself.”

And off she went to the finish line. She later swears she wasn’t trying to beat me – just the guy who was speed walking ahead of us. It didn’t matter, my pride was too tired to care.
As time passed, I found some other running buddies to race with, including my teenage daughter. Now, if you’ve had a teenager, then you understand that if you find an activity that you can do together, you’d better latch onto it like a snapping turtle. And that’s just what I have done.

Next thing I knew, we were slipping out early Saturday mornings to race against our peers – and ourselves. Though the truth is there’s more cheering for one another than racing.

Runners are kind people, I’ve found. They don’t care how old you are or if you have to stop to walk or if your 5K time is mistaken for a 10K time. They know if you are out there participating, then you get it.

You get that there’s nothing to make you feel more alive than almost dying en route.

If you are a runner, then you know how nice it is to see the sun come up while you feel the crisp air fill your lungs. You know what a thrill it is to hear your quiet daughter give a war whoop as she passes you. You know how cool it is to get a new T-shirt and to have a great playlist and to feel grateful to be alive. You know what it’s like to chip away at your time, sometimes second by second. You know what it’s like to do something you’d never thought you’d be doing. It is running, and it is incredible.

It’s a sport that grows on you, and it has worked its way into me. I no longer loathe it. I look forward to it. I no longer dread the minutes on the treadmill. Instead I push myself to go faster. Somehow, step by step, I have become a runner. There, I finally said it. Doesn’t mean I’ll ever have a great time or even a good time, but I’m out there. I’m doing it. I am running, and this wanna-be finally belongs.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Good enough luck

My sister and I are Greens. And though we changed our maiden names over a decade ago, we kept one thing – Green luck.

I can remember being a kid and really identifying with the words to the song “Gloom, despair and agony on me,” sung by Buck Owens and Roy Clark on the TV show Hee-Haw. I’m not sure how many times my daddy said, “If it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all,” but I believed it.

My sister Christie was rather charmed in her youth. She’d win cake walk after cake walk, door prize after door prize. And me? Well, I was like my daddy – snake bit - his term for unlucky. Today, my sister swears her luck has reversed, which is funny, because I feel the same about mine.

This summer, we took advantage of some frequent flyer miles to visit her and her family in Alaska. They picked us and our gear up at the airport in two cars, and we drove straight to the best pizza parlor in town. Excited about reuniting, we pulled into the parking lot and began chattering away like we haven’t seen each other in, well, years.
After a leisurely meal, I decided to forego a visit to the powder room because I didn’t want to make the men wait. And thank heavens I was so considerate, because as soon as we went outside, we heard the beep, beep, beep of a wrecker. My brother-in-law bolted across the parking lot just in time to see one of his two cars hitched to the back. If you have not guessed by now, we had inadvertently parked in a no-parking zone. Had I powdered my nose, we’d been minus a car and our gear.

“I sat there and watched you get out and go in the restaurant. I was going to tow you then, but I had another call. After I towed this one, I was going to come back and tow the other,” the man with the wrecker said.

My sister paid a fee that was far less than it would have been two minutes later.

“Still have Green luck,” my husband observed. “We’re in trouble with you two together.”

“I say we have ‘could-have-been-worse luck,’” I said.
That luck followed us throughout the trip. For example, we went hiking (more like mountain climbing) the next day up a mountain that overlooks my sister’s neighborhood and Anchorage. In fact, from the top of that mountain, one can even see Mount McKinley. As we breathed the fresh air into our lungs and marveled at how high we were, a fellow hiker appeared and shouted, “You’re going to be mad when you go back down.”

“Excuse me?” we said.

“There are parking tickets on both your cars.”

“Did he climb up here just to tell us that?” I asked, as the man cheerfully continued his ascent.

(My sister’s response has been censored.)

Needless to say, the hike down wasn’t nearly as pleasant. We again inadvertently parked just beyond the “No parking” signs, signs that had only recently been placed.

My sister and I agreed that it was another case of “it-could-have-been-worse luck.” At least they didn’t tow it, we said.

For the rest of our visit, we took the Alaskan road signs very seriously. On our final night, we dined on delicious Alaskan fare and then went for a stroll around Anchorage. Having eaten all the chocolate I intended to bring back as souvenirs, I insisted on restocking at a local store. That chocolate ended up costing us $60. Yes, we were five minutes late to our two-hour parking, and we paid for.

“I’m tired of could-have-been-worse-luck,” my sister said, a bit discouraged and sad that we were leaving.

“Do you know what I think?” I said. “If you are lucky enough to spend the week with your sister and her family, then you’re lucky enough. And, if you’re lucky enough to spend a week with them in Alaska, well, then you’re aren’t lucky at all; you’re blessed.”