Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Thinking Of You" - A Saturday Centus

Well, I am back again this week trying my hand at writing a story for Saturday Centus.  To those of you that might yet be unfamiliar with it, it is a themed writing meme hosted by Jenny Matlock at her blog on my tangent.... Every Saturday she posts a "prompt," a phrase that must be used in the essays of each contributor.

Each story must contain the prompt as written and be a total of 100 words or less, not including the prompt words.  After posting their stories, the writers link up with Jenny's Saturday Centus meme post so that we can all share our treatment on the prompt.

I love words and sometimes I use too many of them when a few will do nicely. This exercise in trying to write an interesting story in 100 words or less is both challenging and a bit brutal because it forces you to chop your story to fit the criteria of the meme.

But my story is my baby! Don't make me chop my baby! I have to? Okay, well if Jenny says chop your baby, then I guess I just have to chop my baby.

But I'm not cleaning it up!

And finally, I want to thank all of you that commented on my first Saturday Centus attempt, Goodbye Daddy, last week.  I was really touched by the outpouring of kindness, encouragement and support by you, my fellow bloggers!  Through this meme I was introduced to many great new blogs and the talented writers behind them and even gained some new followers.  Please take the time to stop by and check out Jenny's blog and the wonderfully talented writers that have already chopped up their babies contributed their stories to this fun meme.

Without further adieu, here is this week's prompt:

“May I help you, miss? You look puzzled.”

“Mmmm… thank you, I’m just looking for my father. We came in together a moment ago, but he seems to have wandered off.”

And this is the exactly 100-word story (plus the prompt) that I wrote for this week.  I call it:
Thinking Of You
Brenda strolled down the softly-lit hallway and retrieved a cigarette from behind her ear.

“Yeah, I know I can’t smoke in here, Dad!

You keep telling me where to smoke, what to eat and even what to say and think.

Leave me the hell alone!"

She pushed the door open to the day room where "Family Feud" was blaring from the TV.

“Okay, now where did you disappear to?” she said angrily.

“May I help you, miss? You look puzzled.”

“Mmmm… thank you, I’m just looking for my father. We came in together a moment ago, but he seems to have wandered off.”

“Relax, honey," the psych tech smiled. "You know your dad isn't here. Lets walk over to the nurse’s station.

 I think it's time for your meds."


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hittin' The Triple Digits!

Today is the day!

It’s finally time to write the post that I have been wishing to write for a long time!  This is the post where I recognize the milestone I’ve reached by hitting (and now going over) 100 followers and thanking all of you that have brought me to this point.  So here goes:

Way back in the early days of last September an idea was born.  My daughter Lissa had been bugging encouraging me to start writing again after a lapse of about 25 years or so. Since I had nothing better to do felt the need for a creative release, I decided to do something about it.  I had heard of blogging and thought that it might be a good place to start.  Ironically, at that time, I had never read a blog and didn’t know much about them. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I had to pay to have one! 

Thankfully I soon met up with a blogger named Blasé from My's your move, and he explained that there indeed was a fee involved, but that he could offer me a pretty good deal that would save me a lot of money and that all I had to do is send him a check every month and he would take care of making sure I could blog as much or as little as I wanted.  With kind people like Blasé around to help me out, I was certain that I had found myself an internet home here on Blogger.  (By the way, Blasé, I am sorry it’s late, but I put it in the mail yesterday.  Please don’t charge me a penalty again, okay?  Thanks pal!)

 Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.    --  Anonymous

While I have nothing but the utmost respect and adoration for those of you who read my blog, to the many of you that have taken the added step of following my blog and regularly reading and commenting on my rants and bloggy weirdness, let me just say how much I deeply appreciate having you with me on this journey and how thankful I am for your wonderful support and encouragement.  

I've gotten to know many of you pretty well over the last eight months and I sincerely value our friendship.  To my new followers, especially those of you that pushed me into the triple digits, you rock!  It’s so gratifying to know that people out there in the blogosphere are reading and enjoying my writing.

Along this bloggy adventure I have met lots of great people and have read some truly amazing blogs.  I have been astounded by the quality of the writing, in particular the cleverness of the humor and the insightfulness of the posts that I’ve read.  Who knew that this caliber of writing, some of which is the product of professional writers, was so readily available?  Not only that, but many bloggers post every day or almost every day and some even have multiple blogs.  How cool is that?  I’m not there yet, but maybe someday! 

“You are not a writer until a writer says you are a writer”  --  Unknown

It’s hard to believe that I have access to all these wonderful blogs for just one low monthly fee.  (Thanks again, Blasé!)   I call my blogroll “Blogs I Am In Awe Of” and that is definitely the truth.  I think everyone who writes a blog adds their own wonderful flavor to the stew that is the blogosphere.  Though some may be spicier or sweeter than others, this tasty concoction would surely be lacking without each one's subtle gift.   All of you continue to entertain, inform and inspire me as a novice blogger to strive to write gooder better and do more thoughtful and entertaining pieces.   

Thanks for setting the bar so damn high.  Sheesh!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Goodbye Daddy," A Saturday Centus

I have never, ever entered a writing contest before or submitted anything for publication, but someday I would like to.  In fact it was one of my New Year's resolutions!  And though blogging is a good exercise to get those creative juices flowing, for me it's something altogether different than, say, writing a short story.  That is an area that I can use some practice on.

That's why this week I decided to give it a whirl and see what happens.  To aid in this endeavor, I am participating in Saturday Centus, a themed writing meme hosted by Jenny Matlock at her blog on my tangent....  Every Saturday she posts a "prompt", a phrase that must be used in the essays of each contributor.  The essays must contain the prompt as written and be a total of 100 words or less, not including the prompt words.

Here is this week's prompt:

I look back over my shoulder, squinting into the late afternoon sun, gawking with stunned alarm at the broad rolling muddy waters of the Mississippi,  

After posting their stories, the writers link up with Jenny's Saturday Centus meme post so that we can all share our treatment on the prompt.  Having read several of these, it's more than a little intimidating to put my toes in the water here because the writing from these bloggers is so good, but you know, no one ever won a Pulitzer Prize for thinking of a story, right?  

I encourage you to come on by and check out Jenny's site here and submit one of your own essays!  Trust me, it's fun and challenging trying to keep your story to 100 words or less!  While you are there read some of the other submissions to this meme, as well as her other writings.  She is a very good writer and very worthy of a spot on your blogroll!  Just sayin'!

Here is my first Saturday Centus effort.  I call it "Goodbye Daddy."

Back home.

I walk the dirt path I’d known as a child.

Memories rush forth,

filling my senses like so many vivid dreams.

The smell of barbecue hangs heavy in the air,

mixing with the dingy air of poverty, rusted

factories and cotton fields.

Daddy’s life and love had been the river.

Oh, the times spent catfishin’, daddy singing

the blues to music flowing from a nearby juke joint,

or playing his harmonica.

Damn, but the man could play.

I look back over my shoulder,

squinting into the late afternoon sun,

gawking with stunned alarm

at the broad rolling muddy waters

of the Mississippi,

wondering if daddy is up there in heaven now,

smiling and listening to his delta blues.

The tears flow.

Jenny Matlock

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dining Out In The New Economy

My wife and I like to go out to eat at restaurants about once a week because it gives me a break from coming up with the daily gastronomical delicacies that I whip up in my kitchen. And yes, it is MY kitchen. To my wife it is just a huge cooler where the Diet Coke is housed. Anyway, I feel that every dining experience has the potential to be an epicurean adventure, no matter where you go, so I’m pleased when we go to new places and try things we haven’t had the pleasure of yet.

I was chatting about this the other day with my buddy Randy, who works in San Jose as a waiter for a popular Italian restaurant chain. I was telling him of my latest dining experience, which didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I felt the wait was excessive, the food slow to the table, the chicken was overcooked and the ambiance was negated by the shrill screams and wild running about of small, unattended children. (Honestly, my wife and I now cringe and debate about leaving whenever we see children in nice restaurants. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction.)

He just smiled and nodded knowingly and asked me “so did you leave a lousy tip, then?” Well, no, I didn’t. I am usually quite generous with tips, especially with having had my kids and many friends in that profession at one time or another. I left the waiter a regular tip. As a rule of thumb, I just double the tax and round up, which comes to about 18% or so. I leave more if I feel the waiter did an exceptional job.

He smiled and told me he was proud of me because a lot of people wouldn’t have been as understanding. He said waiters often bear the brunt of their patron’s bad experiences even though they usually don’t have anything to do with it. He explained that the time waiting for tables to open up would be a lot less if people wouldn’t “camp out” at their table drinking coffee for hours after a meal. And as for the food being slow or overcooked, he said that happens frequently when the kitchen is short staffed or gets too busy. As for the out-of-control children, waiters hate that too. “Try carrying a tray filled with plates of hot food or hot drinks while the little bastards are running in front of you playing tag.” The point he was making was, of course, that just because the news was bad doesn’t mean you have to kill the messenger.

I feel sorry for waiters and restaurant workers in general because they really don’t get any respect. In fact some people new to this country have a misconception that they are slaves to be bossed around and abused and never, ever tipped. Randy said this is pretty common amongst patrons from India and Middle Eastern countries in particular. It doesn’t matter if you provide exceptional service and make sure all the glasses are kept full, the food is delivered promptly, at the right temperature and in the manner they requested it, the waiters still get stiffed.

For many guests there is an invisible wall when it comes to tipping whereas the maximum they could ever conceive of leaving as a gratuity is $5, even if the bill is over $100!  It's not necessarily an insult to the server; a lot of it is simply a matter of cultural differences.  Of course when it's your livelihood at stake, cultural differences don't mean a whole lot. Servers actually fight over not having to wait on certain people because they know from experience that they will be have to jump through all kinds of hoops and then still get stiffed with the tip.  Although that does seem a bit discriminatory, it helps to put things in proper perspective when you consider that tips make up the majority of a server’s income.

I like to listen to his stories from work. Just when I think that people couldn’t get any weirder, Randy tells me a story and proves otherwise. Like the guy who was so germ phobic he wouldn’t open the door to the restaurant, and would instead wait for someone to leave so that he could slide in without touching anything. Sometimes he would wait outside for awhile until a customer or a server let him in. Other times he would call ahead and ask for the food to be delivered to his car parked outside.

Always he insisted that it be packaged in a particular way in a tray and placed in a bag a particular way with the bag folded a particular way by someone who had sanitized their hands. From his car he watched with binoculars to make sure the server had someone open the door for them so their body didn’t touch anything that might contaminate the food. If he saw that the person delivering his food made contact with the door or door frame he would send it back to start all over again.

So that’s what happened to the bubble boy! Someone needs to get that guy a hazmat suit!

With the economy being in the tank, a lot of people have been trying to save money in unexpected ways when they dine out. At his restaurant, the child’s meal comes with free soft drink refills. Wary of this, parents are ordering water for themselves and when the meals arrive at the table they grab their kid’s soda and give them their water. *eye roll*

It’s not uncommon for their guests to purchase the cheapest meal on the menu, to share, and then request 5 or 6 loaves of the free French bread to eat with it. Or sometimes they will purposefully lie about bad service to get the manager to comp them a meal or get money knocked off their bill. The people that do this have it down to a science and keep coming back to the same restaurants and playing the same game every time with the same successful results. And of course when it comes to the tip, all the servers get for enduring the abuse and running themselves ragged is a derisive smirk when the customer leaves.

Despite the hardships and lack of respect, they still manage to have a good time at work most days. Randy told me a fun distraction common in restaurants is for the wait staff to let others know when a hot girl comes in so that that person can go check her out, sometimes with comedic results.

“So here’s what happened Thursday night. The hostess seats two young women at a back table in my section. One of them is smokin’ hot. I say hi, get their drink orders and go back to the kitchen and tell my buddy Keith about the hot girl. He says ‘I’m going go see for myself,” and goes back to check her out. Now consider that they are alone in the back section and there is no reason for anyone aside from their waiter to go back there. Keith comes back and says out loud, ‘oh hell yeah, she’s gorgeous!’

Naturally this gets the attention of some of the other servers and kitchen staff who now are all madly curious about the angel that is sitting in seat one at table 43. One by one they file on back there, trying not to look too much like stalkers as they pretend to wipe a nearby table or replace the salt and pepper shakers. A total of eleven guys and three girls took turns checking out the pretty girl and echoing Keith’s sentiments. So I go back there with their drinks and they are laughing, apparently not fooled in the slightest as to the intentions of the other staff.

Apparently some of the guys couldn’t help but stare like a deer in headlights.  Subtle.  Real subtle.

But instead of being mad, the cute one tells me that if we will shut down the parade she will let me take her picture.”

So I ask him, “So then what did you do?”

“Well, hell! I did what any other red-blooded American man would have done. You want to see her picture?”

Seriously, I'm just kidding.  Everyone knows Snooks is way to good for an Olive Garden.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'll Show You My "Savage Breast," If You Show Me Yours

An old saying claims that ‘Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.’

Personally I’ve never been around a savage breast, but I have seen photos of them in some old National Geographic magazines when I was a kid. (Don’t judge me! I was a lonely fat kid.)

And speaking of music, I have a little musical quiz for you today.

Okay, see if you can guess what this song is:

Dum diddy dum dum, dum dee dee dum dee dum.
Dum dee di dum dum, dum dee dee dum dee dum
Doo dee di dum da dee, did dee di di dee dum.
Dum do da dood diz, di da day diddy do.

Well? Did you guess it?

I know, it’s almost too easy!

For those that didn’t get it, it’s…..

....wait for it.....

“Nights In White Satin” by the Moody Blues.

Oh yeah….I can see a lot of facepalming going on out there now. Don’t worry. I know some of you probably live in areas where classic rock music goes against God’s wishes isn’t available or is outlawed by the town council.  I bet if you talk to the Reverend and state your case that might change.  But I digress.

If you hadn’t guessed, in a bit of a departure for me (I know, another one!) I am taking this blog in a decidedly musical direction and sharing with you some of the musicians and bands that make my heart go “sklurg sklurg ziggety tik brepibsty.”

I know, weird huh? I am having it checked out by a cardiologist.

Anyway, this is all courtesy of my good friend and bloggy buddy Tom at Reinvention: The Journal of a Dog-Lover, Book-Reader, Moviegoer, and Writer who tagged me with a musical meme. In accordance with said meme there are a series of 15 questions concerning my musical interests that I have to respond to.

It is not an easy meme. Some of the questions really make you think. And I am woefully out of practice in that regard. Nonetheless, I will attempt to answer the best that I can. If anyone else would like to pick up this meme and share your answers with the rest of us that would be really cool.

But first I have to tell you that despite having a varied or eclectic taste in many types of music, I do not care for or listen to country music. I know many of you, especially those of you in the South, are probably stunned by this, but it’s true. And no, I don’t listen to western music either. No country and western at all. I grew up in a household where “Hee Haw,” a weekly country music program hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark, blared out of the television every Saturday.  As a small child, what chance did I have but to sit through it and suffer in silence?

Thankfully, most of the brain cells grew back.

A wonderful comedian and actor, Bob Newhart, once said "I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.' " For those of you country music fans, please don’t feel slighted. I don’t like NASCAR either, so you see it’s really my problem. Please feel free to post your own music meme and list your favorite country singers and groups.

So let’s get on with it!

1. Open up your iTunes, music player, spin the CD, whatever, hit shuffle and tell us what is the first song to play? I did a shuffle on my mp3 player and the song that popped up was “The Needle And The Damage Done” by Neil Young.

2. Name your top five favorite bands/musicians of all time. This was really a lot harder than you think because I think they change for me almost weekly, but here goes:

1. The Beatles
2. Ray Charles
3. Stevie Wonder
4. Pink Floyd
5. Chris Botti

3. What was your first CD to own? (or 8 track, record, cassette, or mp3 for the newbies) The first ever recorded music I ever had was an album and I bought it with my money. It was “The Stranger” by Billy Joel. (My second was “52nd Street”, also by Billy Joel. Yeah, pianos rock!)

4. Of all the bands/artists in your cd/record collection, which one do you own the most albums by? It was close, but my Beatles cd’s just barely edged out my Herbie Hancock and Diana Krall cd’s.

5. What was the last song you listened to? It was “Stronger” by Kanye West. I had it on my mp3 player as I worked out at the gym. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a great song for running on the treadmill!

6. What song would you say sums you up? Sadly, I would have to say it is “Still Crazy After All These Years” by Paul Simon. For obvious reasons.

7. What’s your favorite local band or band that originated from your hometown/local area? This wasn’t an easy choice as there are literally dozens of great bands from the S.F. Bay Area (Grateful Dead, CCR, Journey, Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller, Huey Lewis & The News, etc.) but I would have to say my favorite band from this area is Santana.

8. What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to? There have been many at some great venues, but I would have to say without a doubt that The Who at the Alameda County Stadium in Oakland is probably the one concert that I will never forget.

9. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day? Another really tough one! I’d like to pick the brains of so many (ie. David Byrne, Michael Stipes, Neil Diamond, David Bowie, etc.) to find out where they got their inspiration and hear their stories of the road and stuff like that, but if I had to limit it to one person then I think I would choose Eric Clapton. And maybe we could even jam. Don’t laugh. You haven’t heard me on Kazoo yet.

10. What was the greatest decade for music? Not even close. The sixties!  Groovy, baby, yeah!

11. What is your favorite movie soundtrack? This was a really hard choice because there are some good ones out there that have great songs that bring back lots of cool memories (“Forrest Gump,” The Big Chill,” “The Graduate,” “American Graffiti,” etc.) but I chose “What Women Want.” I know it might seem strange to my peers, who like me grew up amid disco and groups like Aerosmith, but nobody exudes cool like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jr.

12. What’s the most awful cd/record/etc. you’ve ever bought? Okay, in my defense, it was in the clearance bin marked down to next to nothing and it looked interesting. It is a parody band of the Beatles starring Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. The band is called the Rutles. The music is not really bad, but parodying the Beatles just seems so…I don’t know…sacrilegious!

13. What’s your favorite band t-shirt or poster? This was a tough one because I really liked the art from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, but I have to give credit where credit is due and acknowledge the pure artistry of the Grateful Dead.

14. Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Seriously? Everyone knows when it comes to this question that the real deal has to be The Beatles! While the Rolling Stones are a more rockin’ band, I have to pick the Fab Four because their music was transcendent and the finest ever created, in my humble opinion.

15. What is the one song you would most like played on your birthday? While on a romantic date? And finally what song would you like played at your funeral? For my birthday I would say “Birthday” by The Beatles. For a romantic date I would pick “Something” by The Beatles. (Are you sensing a trend here? Can’t help it…they rock!)  As for my funeral, I think I would like Frank Sinatra’s classic “My Way” to be my swan song.

(Rejected ideas: “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen, “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Happy Trails” by Van Halen and “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC.)

And anyone who tries to sneak in “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” will be dealt with harshly in the next life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Awesome Inventions For The Rest Of Us

Have you ever purchased one of those items you see advertised on television or on an infomercial and said to yourself, "Wow, now that's a great idea!  How could I have lived so long without this?"  I certainly have.  It may seem strange, but for some people living without their Snuggie or without The Clapper or (God forbid!) their Sham Wow, would be an empty existence indeed.  These products have helped shape and mold our society into what it is today.  But not all notable creations rise to the level of popularity of these famous As Seen On TV products.

Many incredible new inventions, in fact, seem to just appear into our collective consciousness without the kind of fanfare they deserve.  And that’s regrettable because so many of them show such promise of leading our society into a brighter future.  Instead the “experts” and scientific pundits of the world gush with praise over dumb stuff  like NASA’s Ares 1 rocket, the Kepler Space Telescope and the Large Hadron Collider.  What a waste of time.

Can anyone tell me how these inventions can help you in your everyday lives?  No one?  I thought so.  This is why I wanted to bring to your attention a couple inventions that may have escaped your notice with all the fuss being given to those other unimportant things.

I was watching television the other day when I saw a commercial for a new product that seems to me like a revolutionary engineering achievement.  The pure genius of it had me seriously wondering if this was that elusive proof that our world was being visited by extraterrestrials and that we were reverse-engineering their alien technology.  The product in question is called the Handy Caddy and if ever there was a benchmark moment in the evolution of our species, it was the development of this device.  

Isn’t it incredible?  Now we don’t have to risk serious injuries by struggling with heavy, awkward kitchen appliances!  Using the Handy Caddy, we can quickly and easily slide our blenders, coffee makers, knife blocks, toasters and other backbreakingly cumbersome countertop apparatus several inches forward for easy access.   Even children and the elderly can now make toast without the assistance of someone else!

Imagine making a pot of coffee without suffering the absolute agony of having to move the coffee pot closer to the edge of the counter all by yourself.   Never again will you have to bend over the counter, repeatedly banging your head violently against the cabinet as you try to wrestle with your appliances as if you were trying to land a marlin.  Just think of how many lives this product will save!   Think how this will ease overcrowding in the hospital emergency rooms!

Harmless kitchen counter or horrifyingly evil death trap?

Those of you who have always suspected that the ancient builders of the pyramids must have had assistance from some advanced race are now pointing at this product as evidence of some alien space-saving countertop technology in action.   Who am I to disagree?  Clearly the design of this product goes beyond any human understanding.

But wait, there's more!

The Handy Caddy isn’t the only product that has come along recently to make all of our lives easier and save us oodles of time.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your approval one of the most ingenious kitchen tools to come along since the invention of the waffle iron, the EZ Cracker egg cracker and separator!  

We all know breaking eggs is a very dirty proposition.  Whether you break them in your mouth and try to spit the egg into a frying pan without the jagged pieces of shell, or if you smash them against a wall and sop up the gooey parts, it's just gross and so time consuming.  But not anymore!

Check out how this tool quickly and cleanly breaks open eggs without the mess and the clean up time normally involved with using a claw hammer, crow bar, shovel or other such egg cracking implement:

If you are like me and struggle with cracking open eggs without having the yolks and pieces of shell end up all over the stove top, counter,  floor, walls, ceiling and all over your clothes, this product is a godsend. With the EZ Cracker, if I want to make a two-egg omelet all I need is two eggs.  I don't need to use a dozen eggs and a sponge to get the required amount of egg yolk material.  And what's better, I don't have to worry about ingesting razor sharp egg shells with my food and having to contend with emergency surgery to stop the internal bleeding.  Such a time saver!

There you have it my friends!  It's nice to see that there are still people out there who are thinking of us, the poor, simple, slightly retarded American public, and that they have dedicated their lives to bringing us things that make our lives so much easier and which help us deal with our anxiety over not being able to do things that other, more intelligenter people can do.  Now I am just waiting for someone to come up with a product that wipes my ass and I will be completely set.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Surviving The Perils Of Mother's Day Gift Giving

As you all know, this Sunday, May 9th is Mother’s Day. (No really, guys…don’t tell me you forgot?) It’s the one day of the year that we Americans set aside to honor mothers and motherhood. I dunno, are there any moms in the blogosphere? A couple? Okay, good! An early Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms!

While some guys really excel at giving their moms and wives their proper due, there are those whose actions fall far short of the mark. You know who you are! Which is why, as a public service, I am using this post to hopefully inform those of you that might be a bit challenged in this area as to the proper protocol. Maybe, in this way, I might spare a few moms a trip back to the store to return vacuum cleaners, toasters, sponge mops, electric hair removers and other unwanted gifts which, unfortunately, are a lot more than most moms receive on Mother’s Day.

Seriously, when it comes to the women who gave us life and pushed us out into the world (enduring hours of agony and lasting physical abuse) is it too much to ask to do more than drop some cheesy Mother’s Day card in the mail or make a phone call? At the very least moms want to be surprised with flowers or candy from her adult children, and that’s in addition to the card and the phone call. And don’t forget that moms love brunch! I can’t blame them, though. Who doesn’t love quiche and mimosas? (Yes, I eat quiche. Deal with it.)

I know a lot of moms don’t really care about gifts and will tell their kids it’s the thought that counts and all, but I know better from…um…personal experience. Sigh. I know for certain that no mom is going to be content with getting something as impersonal as cleaning supplies or kitchen appliances for their special day. And while some moms might be over the moon if you got “Mom” tattooed on your arm, most would probably rather prefer a nice plush robe and slippers.

The trick to giving your mom a great gift is finding things that she likes and that interest her (“Call Of Duty 3” for PlayStation, snowboards, Justin Bieber concert tickets, etc.) and not necessarily things that she needs (electric can opener, cat litter box, ironing board, etc.) so it’s important to be very thoughtful when deciding what to get. With regard to that, here are a couple of gifts to avoid:

1. Gift Certificates and Gift Cards - I realize that some people are hard to shop for and that the temptation for guys to abandon any real thought of an actual gift and instead to go for something safe like these, or worse – cash, is very hard to resist, but what it says to your wife or mom is that “you are not even worth the time and trouble it takes me to come up with something for you, so you decide what you want and go buy it on your own time.”

2. E-Cards - A lot of people consider this a lame gift, and they are right, but I do have to give partial credit here because the sender did pick it out and send it and it’s got to be preferable to an email or a text message – or nothing at all. I wonder if there is a “Thanks for thinking so little of me that you only got me an e-card for Mother’s Day” e-card which moms can send back in reply? If not, somebody should work on that.

3. Vermont Teddy Bears - This company has ridiculous plush teddy bears for every occasion and their willingness to prostitute every situation with an appropriately designed stuffed bear is insulting. If you don’t believe me, check out their “Butt Lift Bear” or their ‘Menopausal Bear.” Do not believe the hype. Moms are not as interested in teddy bears as the company claims they are.

4. Prepackaged Gift Packs of Body Soaps, Scented Moisturizers and Bath Salts - Another easy and mindless choice that fools guys all the time. They see a package of smelly crap together in a basket with a pretty bow and think “great gift.” And it is, if the message that you want to send is “you smell bad and have dry skin.” And giving scented candles? Why not just tell them it’s time to change the cat litter. Don’t fall for this one, guys.

Of course giving gifts to your mom is a lot different than giving gifts to your wife. Guys that give sexy lingerie to their moms are just freaks with an Oedipus complex. (Would that make the lingerie a Freudian slip?  But I digress.)  Typically the best way to show your wife that she is appreciated is by taking her out to a fancy restaurant (i.e. one without a drive-thru window), and bestowing upon her gifts of flowers, jewelry, perfume, clothing and accessories, and more recently with cool electronic gadgets like iPads, laptops and cell phones. Just be sure to keep the receipts, guys. Just sayin’!

In conclusion, let me again wish all you moms out there a great Mother’s Day. I hope you all get nice presents this year. I’m pretty sure my wife is going to be jazzed about her Mother’s Day gift. I bet she’ll be the only mom on the block with a riding lawnmower!

Oh, and to my daughter Lissa who turns 20 on Sunday, Happy Birthday sweetheart! (Now I don’t have to send her an e-card.)

You don't want to incur the wrath of your wife on Mother's Day. 

Trust me, it's not pretty.


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