…Love The Ones You’re With?

(scene: Saturday night, my house, just after dinner)

Nathan (washing dinner plate in the kitchen): *huge, long-winded, gross burp*

Me: Blergh, what do you say to that?

Amelia (also in kitchen): HIGH FIVE, WAY TO GO!

Alex (cuddling me on the couch): THAT WAS FREAKING EPICALLY AWESOMELY AMAZING!

Nathan: See Baby? The KIDS know how awesome burps are.

Amelia: *immediately starts burping by sucking down air*

Alex: *applauds*

Me *headdesk*

Do Women Shop More Than Men?

Third party contributor

Do Women Really Shop More Than Men? Not During the Holiday Season…

According to a holiday shopping survey, men planned to spend more than women on gifts in 2013. If you’re a woman, it’s likely you’ve spit out your coffee, or you’re shaking your head, or you’re saying something along the lines of: “Um…no.” A 2013 Gallop poll backs up the survey results, and women everywhere are scratching their heads.
· Women ages 15-30 spend on average $214.67 per gift
· Women ages 31-57 spend on average $203.36
· Men ages 15-30 spend on average $296.45
· Men ages 31-57 spend the most, averaging $332.11

(Holy cow! That’s over $100 more per gift!)

APPARENTLY, It’s MEN Who Are SHOPPING

Isn’t ‘women and shopping’ like the single most-used television trope and stand-up comedian go-to? It’s one of those stereotypes that continues to thrive despite great strides in feminism, and big changes to traditional gender roles. Come on – there’s stay-at-home-dads now, and wives sometimes make more money than their husbands (and, that’s okay). Society seems to be coming around to the idea that women are equal to men, but not when it comes to shopping.
Despite statistics that clearly show men will spend more this holiday season, women are still burdened by old shopping stereotypes. And, women will continue to see advertisements geared toward their holiday shopping. And, women will continue to be the butt of jokes at holiday parties, and other events, where husbands, brothers, dads and grandpas all laugh at their holiday spending.

CHANGE THE CONVERSATION

It’s time to turn it around on men, but in a playful way. Suggest these studies as proof that men shop and women actually save.
Women have long been painted as money-hungry gold-diggers. There are thousands of jokes, sayings, and quotes depicting women as credit hungry shopaholics. Male comedians often complain about their wives and girlfriends draining their bank accounts, and taking long trips to the mall.
This holiday season, you can change the conversation. When an uncle/brother/boyfriend/husband/dad/grandpa brings up the old stereotype, ask them where they’re getting their proof. Chances are high they’ll point to their wives’ recent trip to the mall, or a recent online shopping excursion. Once they’ve given their proof, you can floor them by sending them a link to the two above-mentioned surveys. Everyone is sure to have a good laugh, and you’ll have opened up a safe dialog about changing attitudes toward women and spending.

IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS…

This holiday shopping season it isn’t about who spent what, or what gender shops more. It’s about the thought, the gifts you give, and the respect you have for everyone (gender unspecified).
Men and women both seem to care about the gifts they give, and that’s because this is the season of giving (Not, the season of giving stereotypes). Gifts for men should be thoughtful, and meaningful to the recipient, such as a new grill for the grill master, or a toolset for the handyman in your life, or even a new blow dryer or nail care set–haha, men like those, right? And, the same goes for women – give her a tool box if she’s handy. It’s not about gender stereotypes, but rather about creating joy in the lives of the people you love most.
If you feel targeted by jokes about women shopping (either with or without your husband’s credit card), you have the tools to change the conversation. You don’t have to put up with archaic stereotypes, especially because they’re unfounded by current studies and surveys.

Simply put: most people love to shop. It’s got nothing to do with gender.

Another One Bites The Dust

I read somewhere, probably on the Internet, or maybe I saw it on one of those wacky sitcoms that divorcing people are supposed to throw things around, hurl objects in the general direction of the other person, and generally yell, scream, and glower at the other while such things as “who gets the ginormous television?” and “why do you want a ginormous television that will take up your shoebox apartment, Becky?” Life might be more interesting that way, but the last time I tried to throw something at someone, I screamed, “Fuck you, motherfucker!” and lobbed a full large Diet Coke at his head. While he was sitting less than one foot away from me, I hit the car window, and the soda didn’t even rain down upon us like a delicious heavenly rain.

I was seventeen.

Since then, my objects of choice when I’m ready to break things are box fans, which make a nice satisfying THWAP when I kick them, only to realize that I’ve broken three toes and the fan is still sitting intact, mocking me with it’s Made in China sticker. Hurling things is clearly out of the question, as I’ve demonstrated that I’ve managed to hurt myself fairly badly on bubble wrap. BUBBLE WRAP, PRANKSTERS. That shit is SOFT.

(tell that to my finger)

(that’s what SHE said)

(buuuurrrrnnnnnn)

Anyway.

Since the time for hurling and lobbing of objects is long gone, and Dave’s birthday was this weekend, I suggested that we go out to a nice dinner, full of NON-scathing looks and celebrate. Everyone should have a party on their birthday, right? Right. (you may surmise that I both love and hate birthdays and you’d be correct – even my shrink informed me that he, too, likes to pretend that his birthday doesn’t exist, which made me feel a little better about changing the date on mine so often that I have to pull out my driver’s license and see, YUP, was actually born July 15).

“Hey,” I asked Dave on my way out the door on Friday night. “Can you make us some resos for Saturday night?”

Because, when I was very young, my parents removed my bladder and replaced it with a squirrel’s bladder, it took me a good 12 minutes to pee three times before I actually manged leaving, which made me shake my fists at the sky at the squirrel who’s living out there, having to pee once every seven years, before I heard Dave howling from the next room.

“Capones is closed,” he said, when I came in to see what the ruckus was about.

“Whaaaaa?” I couldn’t believe it – it was a staple out here. An old restaurant fashioned out of one of Al Capone’s Speakeasy’s from the roaring twenties, before he died of VD.

“Like for good,” he replied. “I think the owners retired.”

I made a glum face as he suggested one of his favorite sushi restaurants. “Works for me,” I replied, finally out the door.

The day of his birth dawned without me recalling it was such, which made me feel like a shitheap – who forgets birthdays? Apparently, that answer is Yours Truly. “7:00,” he said as I poured my morning coffee, heading to the fridge to dilute it with milk – Dave makes coffee that’s so strong it curls your hair and makes you shudder.

“Dammit,” I said, upon seeing the fridge. “We’re out of milk.”

Sheepishly he looked at me, “Sorry,” he said. “I drank the last of it in my coffee.”

“S’okay, I’ll improvise,” I replied as I grabbed an ancient bottle of SlimFast. I poured it in, noting the chunks that plopped into my coffee and stared sadly at my now-chunky coffee.

The rest of the day, I spent in my garden, painting my roses a decided shade of pink, while some dude rubbed Dave with oil and massaged the kinks from his neck.

6:30 rolled around and I noted that Dave was, in fact, sitting on the couch and looking at me expectantly. “Shit,” I hollered as I flew up the stairs. “Getting dressed now!” I threw on whatever didn’t smell like it had been IN the garden and made my way back downstairs and out the door.

We rolled into the sushi place about 10 minutes prior to our reservation and sat in the bar, where I stared at the photo I’d taken when I walked in, hardly believing vending machines, one of my favorite things on the planets, had failed me so miserably:

another one bites the dust
Sign of the apocalypse.

Dear Snooki: please don’t spray-tan your baby until he’s at least 6 months old.

Finally our table was ready, which was good, because I was about to cry about the stupid Vending Machine with JERSEY FUCKING SHORE in it. We ordered our dinners and sat back and talked about this, that and the other, the idle chit-chat you do when you’re talking to someone you know well. It’s a good thing, I guess, we haven’t been fighting, because I had at my disposal, about three hundred different things that could’ve been fashioned easily into weapons all American Gladiators-style.

Instead, I took a picture of my soup for one reason (and not because it was tasty OR delicious):

another one bites the dust
Mmmm. Soupy.

That’s a nice reminder that taking pictures of your food and making them look NOT like piles of baby barf requires a professional photog. NOT EVERYONE CAN BE A FOOD BLOGGER.

(I may or may not have feeling bitter pants about the whole “Jersey Shore” vending machine)

Then, because it’s the right thing TO do, I made sure everyone knew it was Dave’s birthday, which meant a half-dozen Japanese people would sing him happy birthday in butchered-English. He loves to be embarrassed by me. He just never SAYS it, which is how I know.

I also made sure to take as many embarrassing photos as I could, which, unfortunately with my broke ass iPhone, didn’t work too well. But here’s the only one I got:

another one bites the dust

The thumbs-up were my idea – gives the impression you’re REALLY happy! You can tell he’s happy – not at all annoyed by me – by the look on his face!

I can hardly wait for the next year. I’m thinking singing, stripping, male telegrams.

The Guy On My Couch

So…

Hi! Is this thing on?

It came to my attention (when Becky yelled something at me about blah, blah, blah, guest post something people need to know!) that you’ve all been asking some questions about me. Who is this Guy On The Couch? Where did he come from? Can I get one at Targhetto? So, I’m here to set the record straight(ish) and tell you all a little about me.

My name is Benjamin, I’m a Midwestern boy at heart and came to Chicago last fall because I decided that I just hadn’t had enough of gambling that the frostbite wouldn’t take my toes this winter. Some of you already know that, because you work with, read at or follow The Band and have seen me at work, or seen my writing about being the face of Bipolar Disorder. I’m glad, but for those of you who haven’t, click the almost-invisible link there, and you can read all about it.

Basics – I’m thirty-one, tall and thin, sarcastic and had a blog that I wrote at until I stopped having the time to dedicate to it, which the internet has mostly – blessedly – forgotten all about.

So, the advanced course, Benjamin 301 – taught by your favorite professor, Yours Truly goes like this: There was this one time when I was 19, living in Minneapolis and walking through downtown in the summer with my friend Evan. Evan and I had been friends for time out of mind, and we were both about equally strange people. We’d met in grade school and stayed friends on and off since then, and we liked to hang out together because it made both of us feel a little bit more normal to know there was someone else out there who was just like each other.

Walking through downtown Minneapolis, we got stopped by one particularly flamboyant member of St. Louis Park’s fairly extensive GLBT community. Tall, thin and beautiful, she stopped dead center in the middle of the sidewalk in front of us – where we’d have no choice but to stop short – to stare at Evan’s shirt. I’ve never seen another shirt like it, before or since, and it was the shirt against which all shirts are measured in my head.

Robin’s Egg Blue, with cheerful white lettering that proudly proclaimed “Nuke a Gay Baby Seal – For Christ!

It was the most brilliant shirt I’d ever seen, cheerfully calling out dozen’s of different types of hypocrisy at once, all wrapped up in a little sarcastic package and colored pale blue so that people really weren’t apt to look at it unless it mattered to them.

Arching one haughty eyebrow at us, she slowly said, “nuke a gay baby SEAL? FOR CHRIST?!” To which we responded, almost in unison and totally unplanned, “Well, you’ve gotta nuke something, right?”

She let us pass, I think she may have been too busy having a heart attack to stop and question us further about whether it was any kind of seal, or whether we had it out for one type of seal in particular. I think the thought of religiously-motivated nuclear pinniped genocidal catastrophe was just too much for her to really think about all at the same time. Did I mention that we were both atheists?

I’d say that pretty much sums up who I am, so read on and enjoy, and now you know a little more about The Guy On Becky’s Couch.

Hope you don’t regret it!

Don’t Make Me Go All Waco On You

Last night, after I punched myself in the ‘nads for fucking with my roses too early, I got online and began to work on a resource page for teen mental illness.

Don’t tell me, I’ll tell you: I KNOW HOW TO PARTY.

When I was as done as I was going to be, I IM’d my friend, Tooks, to proof the page which was approximately the size and shape of a novel, and included such phrases as “fuck yeah, teens can have mental illnesses.”

(my teen pregnancy pages notes that one of the symptoms of pregnancy is “a baby coming out of your vagina.”)

(WELL, IT’S TRUE)

Aunt Becky: “Hey, can you proof teen mental illness for me?”

Tooks: “Sure.”

Aunt Becky goes to work on another page while watching a video about dancing hamsters.

Tooks: “I don’t know if kids are going to understand the phrase ‘Drink the Kool-Aid.”

Aunt Becky: “…”

Immediately takes to The Twitter:

“Was just informed that kids might not understand the phrase, “drink the Kool-Aid. WHAT’S WRONG WITH KIDS THESE DAYS?”

“APPARENTLY, we need a new cult with a suicide pact.”

“That came out wrong. DON’T DO DRUGS, KIDS. STAY IN SCHOOL.”

I then turned to the two male occupants of my house, “You DO know what drinking the Kool-Aid means, right?”

Ben (The Guy On My Couch): “Yeah, it’s about Waco.”

Aunt Becky: “No. It’s not. Waco had the fires.”

Ben: “And the Kool-Aid.”

Aunt Becky: “Not all cult massacres involve Kool-Aid. Oh wait, didn’t those comet people use Kool-Aid too?”

Ben: “The Hail-Bopp comet?”

Aunt Becky: “Yeah, they were in California.”

Ben: “No, they were in Texas.”

Aunt Becky: “No, that was Waco.”

Ben: “Well, that was before California joined the Union.”

Aunt Becky: “It was in like 1996.”

Ben: “YEAH, EXACTLY. BEFORE CALIFORNIA JOINED THE UNION.”

Aunt Becky: “Not all cults stem from Waco, Ben.”

Ben: “…”

Aunt Becky: “Like the Jonestown Massacre – WHERE THEY DRANK THE KOOL-AID.”

Ben: “That was also in Waco.”

Aunt Becky: “No, that was Jim Jones. In AFRICA.”

Ben: “Africa is in Waco, right?”

Aunt Becky: “I thought I was bad with geography.”

————

Looks at kids who have thrown cushions around the room, “Guys, pick up the cushions or I’ll go all Waco on you.”

Two sets of eyes rolled simultaneously, as they did, in fact, pick up the cushions.

———-

I can’t wait to try the Branch Davidians method of getting them up in the mornings. Got my iPod and my stereo all ready to play some AC/DC. At 11.

Because it GOES to 11.

I Bet SKYMALL Wouldn’t Have Betrayed Me.

Whenever I see my GP and am all, “Woah, my neck hurts,” he examines my neck and then jumps away, all unprofessional-like, swearing under his breath, “oh holy fuck. How are you even walking around?” I’d like to boast about giving “good spasms” but it seems a little counter-intuitive. Mostly because having chronic neck pain blows.

Unless you’re a fluffer, which I am, sadly, not.

I’ve tried everything from massage, which gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies, to chiropractic “adjustments” which made me feel like he was trying to snap my neck like a very sassy chicken bone, to physical therapy. I’ve done the tens unit (which I actually plan on buying), dry heat, moist heat, cold packs, more heat. Nothing lasts very long.

Mostly because that’s where I hold my stress. Turns out three kids + plus running two group blogs + plus freelancing + one cat that pees in the vents + no monkey butler + my fake dead cat, Mr Sprinkles (who gets up to the most amazing hijinks) = Why Mommy Drinks.

Last week, on our Friday night pilgrimage to The Target, I noted they had one of those weird massaging chairs on clearance. Those things remind me of waiting at the pharmacy AND those weird car seat rests with the little wooden balls – that ALWAYS pulled your hair when you moved – so I’ve never been a huge fan. I let it go in favor of some Twinkies.

This week, the chair massager was still there, and I was all, EYE OF THE MOTHERFUCKING TIGER as I bought it. I figured I’d give it to The Daver or The Guy On My Couch if it sucked (which it probably would) but that it was worth a try. So what if I don’t have “back pain?” MAYBE THIS WOULD FIX MY NECK.

Plus, it was on sale, and sales give me good spasms (high five for full-circle!).

Home I trotted, the chair massager neatly nestled among my “groceries*” all ready to try this shit out.

Now here is where I point out that not one, but two males, both close enough in age to me to be trusted, both of whom have watched me walk into walls after yelling, “The Internet Is Broken!” when our Comcast goes out, watched me WITHOUT STOPPING ME unpack the massager.

As I pulled the chair thingy, (which, unrelated, looks remarkably like a chair from an airplane – I think it even has a seat belt! I can PLAY AIRPLANE NOW!) out of its bag, and ripped off the tags, both Daver and The Guy on my Couch simply watched me set it up. They watched me plug it in. They even watched me sit on it and make weird faces.

Eventually, we settled down to watch some Sister Wives on Netflix, nestled up on the couch in my airplane chair. I turned the thing on and noted that it was massaging exactly one area of my back (incidentally not the area that hurt), and, if on the right setting, made a horrifying noise – sorta like I was being punched.

I assumed this was normal – maybe I bought a punching massage chair – and continued to use the airplane chair until I went to bed. Not even the knowledge that I’d had to turn up Sister Wives to ear-splitting polygamist volumes made me – or anyone else, for that matter – assume, hey, maybe (Aunt) Becky DID IT WRONG.

The following morning, I woke up, rolled over and moaned. The area of my back that the punching airplane chair had been working on was bruised. Like actually bruised, not just me trying to exaggerate for effect. I hobbled downstairs, glared in the general direction of the punching airplane chair and poured myself a cup of coffee. Daver and the kids had crossed the Cheese Curtain and ventured into the land of Wisconsin, leaving The Guy on the Couch and I to finish some “yard work”**.

Later that night, after a spectacularly exciting day spent on the couch, drooling, Daver returned with the kids. When they were firmly ensconced in their wee beds, Daver came back downstairs to shoot the shit.

“I love that massage chair,” he said to me.

“GOOD. I was going to take that asshole chair back – that thing is bullshit. My back is SUPER bruised…but I DO like pretending I’m on an airplane,” I replied.

“It works a lot better with that screw out,” he responded, like I had any fucking idea what he was talking about.

I stared, dumbly at him.

“You know, on the back, where there’s a gigantic sign that says, “REMOVE THIS SCREW BEFORE USE?” he prodded.

I stared back.

“It works a lot better without that screw,” he continued, starting to laugh.

I stared. He and The Guy on my Couch began giggling.

“Why the shitballs did you and Ben BOTH allow me to set that up? I can’t work the television remote.”

They began chortling.

“You guys are assholes,” I responded.

“Why didn’t you ASK FOR HELP?” they sputtered out, between giggles.

“Because you NORMALLY just DO it for me. Or you STOP me from doing that shit before I burn the house down. Remember that time I burned my bed with a heating pad? Yeah. THAT’S why I assume if things are complicated, someone else will do them for me.”

Tears of laughter now coursing down their cheeks, I stormed (shuffled) out of the room with as much dignity as I could muster.

I turned back to tell them to piss off, and promptly walked into the wall.

I’ll let you know when I find my dignity again.

*bacon and Marshmallow Fluff don’t exactly constitute “groceries.”

**Watch more Sister Wives and wonder how that guy gets so many chicks. Gotta admit, he’s got nice hair.

————————-

This would be an ad: Mama’s gotta get some vodka monies somewhere.

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Adira Period Panties are pretty awesome – they’re leak-proof, skin friendly and comfy. They are also International Patent Pending but I don’t know what that means.

If’n you like (and you do) you can buy Adria Period Panties here. (I kinda hope they double as adult diapers) Shop before 17st May 2012 and get 10% Off with this weird code: BHB1604

Truth and Fiction STC.

Aunt Becky: “You can trust me because I have CREDENTIALS!”

Ben (my friend, not my son): “So WHAT are your credentials?”

Aunt Becky: “I have a DIPLOMA!”

Ben: “You do not.”

Aunt Becky: “I do! I didn’t even make it on dot matrix paper!”

Ben: “Who made it for you?”

Aunt Becky: “Um…”

(looks at hands)

Aunt Becky: “Me.”

Ben: “You made your own diploma?”

Aunt Becky (proudly) “On NON dot matrix paper. It’s purdy.”

Ben: “Does it have unicorns?”

Aunt Becky: “On roller blades. It’s wicked.”

Ben: “Is it in Sharpie?”

Aunt Becky: “PINK Sharpie.”

Ben (laughs): “Figured.”

Ben:

Aunt Becky:

The truth, I suppose, is somewhere in the middle.

Expert Photoshopping done by Rachel.

When Powdered Sugar Attacks

There are very few things I love as much as I love waffles. Even better than regular boring waffles are the ones I can order from Room Service, but really, what doesn’t taste better when delivered by a small man in a tuxedo? NOTHING.

Alas, this is not an ode to room service.

It is unfortunate that my children have also decided that waffles = full of the awesome. Not because they are wrong or anything (which is fairly common while dealing with small people who poop their pants), but because with waffles come condiments.

While I’m thankful that these condiments do not include ketchup, which, knowing my crotch parasites, could easily be the case, I sorta wish they’d decide to use something like WD-40 or super glue to top those delicious mounds of goodness.

Every morning, I wake up, blearily stumble down the stairs and pour myself a cup of coffee and, upon rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I realize that I’ve been victim of a minor terrorist attack. Sprinkled everywhere from the highest counter-top to the floor, is anthrax.

So, because I am still half-asleep, I begin yelling (to no one, as I am alone), “THE TERRORISTS DONE GOTTED ME! IMMA DIE OF ANTHRAX!“as I run around the house looking for expired antibiotics prescribed to my dog like eight years ago.

It takes me a couple minutes, a lick of the counter-top and a few laps around my house to realize that no, in fact, this was decidedly not a terrorist attack. I am in no more danger of catching anthrax in my kitchen than I am when I visit Urgent Care. In fact, Urgent Care is MORE likely to give me anthrax or polio or something.

No, what has now coated my kitchen in a deliciously sweet dust is powdered sugar. From the waffles that my kids eat.

For some reason, my benevolent children believe that the coffee maker, the dishwasher and the toaster oven like the taste of powdered sugar as much as they do. Or at least, that’s my suspicion as to why the powdered sugar is miles away from the kitchen table. I like to believe that my children are practicing kindness, not being lazy assbags, while they decorate my kitchen every motherfucking morning, trying to look out for the betterment of the appliances rather than opting out of using a spoon to scoop the stuff onto their waffles.

That is how I comfort myself each day as I scrub powdered sugar out of the most bizarre nooks of my kitchen.

If only the same could be said for their roaming sock colonies.

A Boy Named Amelia

We went through a phase a couple of months ago, in which my middle son, Alex, decided that showing off his penis was hilarious. I mean it kinda is hilarious, but you know, having him walk around with it hanging out to receive the express reaction he was looking for: “Alex, PUT AWAY YOUR PENIS,” led to other problems.

And not just the development of MORE grey hair.

No, now my daughter believes that she, too, has a penis.

Nothing can be done to dissuade her. I’ve tried everything, “Girls have vaginas, Amelia. And you have a vagina because you are a girl,” only enrages Her Majesty.

“NO, MAMA, MIMI’S PENIS,” she shouts indignantly whenever I dare question Princess Amelia’s Way of Thinking.

Thinking on my feet (no easy task when you have a brain the approximate size and shape of a pea), I pointed out her girl bits as proof that she, like me, is sans penis.

“NO MAMA, THAT MIMI’S BUTT.”

Head in hands, I realized that I wasn’t going to win this argument and besides, I had to give her points there: it does kinda look like a butt.

Baldo

This would be the pictures you wanted after yesterday’s post, Pranksters.

vanilla-ice-wanna-be

I suggested that he get a spider tattoo there for street cred, but he said no. Shockingly. Even AFTER I gave him this awesome mock-up of what he COULD look like.

vanilla-ice-wanna-be

Some people (psssst *nudge, nudge* THE DAVER), it seems, don’t appreciate HIGH ART.

He says he’s going to “get me back while I’m sleeping,” but I’m not worried about my hair. I’m worried he’ll rig up something I can’t turn off that will play to every single Rush album throughout my house over and over again.

Hair grows back. Being traumatized by Rush is for LIFE.