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Conversation this week On The Ponderosa:

ME:  Lulu, did the Princess tell you we are going on vacation next month?

LULU:  No, she doesn’t tell me anything.  Where are you going?

This is a blatant exaggeration born of teenage angst.  When not physically attached at the hip these two BFF talk no fewer than 10 hours per week, not including text and instant messaging.

ME:  We are going Niagara Falls.  

LULU:  Cool, never been there, I never get to go anywhere.

Please note that Lulu, just last month, returned from a week long vacation at the beach with The Princess.  This was her attempt to procure an invitation to the family vacation.  As much as I love Lulu, my idea of vacation, rest and relaxtion does not include 22 road trip hours with two teenage girls.  Primarily because drinking and driving is illegal.

ME:  Since Niagara Falls is in another country and The Princess does not have a passport,  we will drop her off at the US border each day and pick her up every night after our adventures are over. 

Because, well, I just like to mess with my daughter and when her BFF is around, messing with both their heads is twice as much fun.

LULU:  When did going to Florida require a passport?  

ME:  What?  Passports are not required to go to Florida.

LULU:  I didn’t think so.  I knew Florida was in the southern US.

ME:  Yes, Florida is south from here, but.

As you can see, I was interuppted mid-sentence.  This is SOP should you dare to converse with a teenage girl.

LULU:  Well then, she shouldn’t need a passport to go there.

ME:  Um, Lulu you lost me at Florida.

I was not quick enough on the response draw because The Princess broke one of her 2 connections to the outside world (internet/cell phone) to explain her BFF’s error in vacation spot placement on the world map.

THE PRINCESS:  What?  Lulu, have you been sniffing the Sharpie too long?  Everybody knows that Niagara Falls is not in the South, it is in the northern hemisphere of North America.

LULU:  Well, exactly where is it then if you know so much?

At this point The King & I were observing the scene with parental admiration, since The Princess was about to give Lulu a much needed geography lesson.  Scoff if you will, but when you are a parent your chest will swell with pride when your child is about to display their educational prowess.

Make that your head, because pride does go before the fall…

THE PRINCESS:  Lulu, really.  It is in Mexico, dummy.

This America, are your public education tax dollars at work.  The BFF Tag Team are honors students enrolled in the AP and college bound pathways at our local high school.

The Princess would like it noted for the record that all of the family talking at the same time confused her and she was clearly talking about our last vacation which included a cruise to Mexico.  Lulu would like it noted for the record that at no time did she inhale fumes from her writing instrument.

I would like it noted for the record that, The Princess, is the only member of our family that has ever been to Niagara Falls.  Two years ago.  In fact, she did cross the Canadian border.  Two years ago.  To tour Niagara Falls.  I’m just saying. 

Perhaps Niagara Falls has been moved to South America by the United Nations.  Although I do not recall any international summits addressing the issue.  I could be wrong.  Depends on who you ask.  Because as stated before, I am intellectually challenged, tragically unhip and basically dumber than a rock

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The King took The Royal Canines to the veterinarian office for their yearly check up after months of polite reminding, leading to eventual screaming “we live in the woods with rabid animals dear and I will not take your for rabies shots after they bite you.”  This responsibility is clearly outlined in that marital responsibilities contract I still cannot locate. 

Mr. Frodo, who weighs in excess of 100 pounds, is hauled up on the table, receives the necessary shots and invasion of his orifices.  The vet begins the usual mantra of why on earth this animal is so large and other items that outline our canine neglect.

Mr. Frodo is 5 years old and has well, let’s say he has never gotten lucky.  The female vet grabs his “sacks” starts massaging them and indicates to The King that she could remove them.  Mr. Frodo is thrilled for all human contact, but this personal service is exceeding his expectations.  The King is speechless, very uncomfortable and unable to make eye contact with the kind lady who has cared for our animals for years.  He swears the site of our vet having foreplay with our labrador is shocking to his manhood moral compass.  Yeah right, this is the same man who volunteered Mr. Frodo’s services to a co-worker if his female lab was looking for a friend with benefits.  Now I know the love of my life has watched his share of porn, but it he swears it did not include animal fondling while discussing heartworms, dietary concerns and flea protection for a full three minutes. 

The King’s annual check-up with our family physician is in a few months, bet he has a flash black.  Especially, if a reminder is casually dropped at the right time, because clearly that is my job.  The King may now be suffering from Post Traumatic Vet Visit Disorder.  Not only because he had to witness one of our dogs getting hot action in the vet’s office, but he was graciously permitted to pay $458 for the pleasure.

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The scales of justice just fell from their pedestal.  It will be a rare occurence that I climb on the political soap box.  My personal rants are normally limited to that of  parents gone stupidtweens gone wild, husbands with contemporary home repair tipsand crazy idiocracy .  When the leader of the free world hands out a Get Out Of Jail Free Card to Scooter Libby by commuting his sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice, I am ashamed to be American.

It is ironic that this turn of events occured the day before we celebrate freedom, democracy and equality under the law.  In our country defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  While this most certainly was political prosecution of a White House scapegoat, he was found guilty by a jury of his peers. 

What saddens me the most is that even here On The Ponderosa, no one was shocked.  In fact, we have become a desensitized society pervasive with abuse of power and political manuvering.  Dishonesty, corruption and lack of integrity are expected from the elected officials in this nation.  It is with deep shame that I have become so cynical.  It is embarassing that I no longer hold in high regard our system of justice or the political process. 

We, as citizens of this country, have a moral duty to demand that those to whom we have given the power to rule in our stead do so in a way that might serve the best interests of humanity and justice rather than the individual who transforms Executive Power granted by our cherished Constitution in to political expediency.   

We have been content far too long to allow the political machinery of Washington to churn on and it has brought us to this miscarriage of justice.  Remember the same man that signed Libby’s clemency order is the same man that signed the death warrant for the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War.   He deemed Libby’s sentence of 30 months imprisonment “excessive” and Tucker’s death sentence “tough, but his job.”  Are you kidding me?

To you President Bush, I find you guilty of obstruction of justice.  Shame on you and shame on me for voting for you, twice.  Happy Independence Day America, we are the land of the free, atleast for Scooter Libby. 

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Ponder no longer why adults slowly ease in to alcoholism around say their mid-forties…it is because they have teenagers.  Seriously, AA should add a 13 step to their program…..We have come to believe that we were driven to drink by our futile efforts to communicate with our teenagers and admitted that the exact nature of our wrongs were to have unprotected marital sex about 16 years ago.

In an effort to understand the misnomer Sweet 16 I have researched many parenting books, which are truly useful only to bang against your own head or toss at the backside of your teenager as they walk away in a huff mumbling under their breath. 

Karma numerical guidelines provide the most accurate insight.  Number 16 offers the test of optimism and faith; it represents the misapplication of sexual energy, adversity, secrecy and aloofness.  Not a spiritual guru myself, but these numerology folks have teenagers.

This darling little girl that jumped in your bed because the “scary” man (read: Unsolved Mysteries program) was on TV, the same one who gleefully camped in the yard catching frogs with her dad, the same one that rushed to deliver your homemade birthday card now believes you are the AntiChrist.

School is no longer an academic experience, it exists merely as a social arena to plan evening and weekend activities.  Studying 12 hours for the driver’s license exam and 12 minutes for an english test will be the educational effort example for high school.  Further evidence will be presented as a sudden aversion to math, unless calcuations are required to determine the amount of cash they need from you.  You are THE NEW HUMAN ATM.

Rooms that you spent a week turning in to a palace for a princess, now resemble a pig sty complete with food scraps and odors to keep out anyone with a sense of smell.  Cries of woe are frequently heard from this disaster area declaring that she has NO CLOTHES.  Apparently 10 pairs of jeans, 36 shirts, 6 dresses, 3 capris, 8 skirts, 15 pairs of shoes and 5 pairs of shorts now represent the equivalent of having NO CLOTHES.

The little girl who used to sneak in to your closet for fashion shows would sooner gouge out her own eye that consult your opinion on wardrode options.  Often you find yourself shouting to the driveway “you are not going anywhere dressed like that”, only to be reminded that you must be confused because she was only getting something from her car.  And yes, she always carries her purse and car keys when retrieving CD’s from her automobile.

The four major food groups are now:  pizza, dr. pepper, cookies and anything from the golden arches palace.  Sleeping is tossed aside in favor of necessary tasks like instant messaging, TV viewing and marathon cell phone sessions, unless of course you point out a chore needing her attention. 

You no longer possess a working knowledge of anything, you understand nothing and possess an IQ lower than a turtle.  It is miracle of some deity that you have lived past the age of 40 and can actually shower, consume food and operate a toilet.  (The King’s opinion on my operation of plumbing fixtures has no bearing, in fact, his genetic contribution to The Princess has probably brought us to this point.)

When you tire of choosing your battle, the aforementioned incredible raging hormonal one will do something so small and amazing your heart will melt.  Let me explain:

BATTLE FOR TODAY: Rationalizing that strapless blue satin party dress with black lace is perhaps a tad inappropriate for church service.

HEART MELTING MOMENT:  Scanning The Princess’s MySpace page and reading “The Parentals” in the spot next to My Heroes.

Contrary to rumors, my picture should not be placed in Webster’s dictionary as a photo illustration for the word stupid, I am aware these heartfelt moments are few and far between.  For the other 364.5 days of the year I have Margaritas close at hand. 

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Three weeks ago I was minding my own business feeding the Royal Canines.

The Royal Canines - Mr. Frodo & Jake Man

Cute, harmless looking 200 pounds of  labradors, are they not?

Looks can be deceiving, while they are docile most of the day when afternoon arrives and they are about to reap the dog food rewards from the hard labor of The King & I, they spring in to action.  If you have small dogs this may not be a problem, but when they repeatedly demand your attention by slamming in to your backside while filling their water bucket you will turn around.  Just for a moment, only to stung repeatedly on your right hand by the lovely bees that nest On The Ponderosa.  Normally, I am honored that these bees spend their summers pollenating my lilies, hydrangeas and other floral matter.  My policy for bees is get busy on my flowers, tell your friends, but stay away from me.

Did I mention I am allergic to bee stings?  Not the take a Benadryl kind, the I stop breathing kind.  Never fear Epipen to the rescue.  Immediately after being stung I run to the house and grab the Epipen, inject myself in the thigh.  For those not familiar with Epipen medication, the side effects are similar to drinking a two liter of Red Bull energy drink in two minutes.  Jump around the kitchen, remove stingers and flail about screaming obscenities.  This is helpful to me personally.  Reminder to myself: no more dog treats for a week as this is clearly the Royal Canines fault.

Four days later, I realize something is wrong as my hand and arm clearly resemble one of those giant foam hands folks wave around as sporting events, accompanied by spreading red streaks and severe itching that makes me consider removing my limb permanently.  Clearly I needed medical attention.  Our family physician declares the diagnosis of cellulitis and provides antibiotics with a side of steroids that turn me in to one of the giant mythical characters dancing around in need on the Pepto-Bismol commercial.

Three days later my arm now resembles that of a giant, the red streaks have exceeded their inkpen boundaries designated by my physician.  It is decided hospitalization is clearly required with IV antibiotics. 

If anyone is under the delusion that you will get rest while healing in the hospital, let me enlighten you.  Hospitals are full of people whose primary job responsibility is to keep you awake.  They have secret devices that alert them when any patient has dosed off, no matter the time of day they will come in to your room and wake you up under the guise of performing some necessary treatment. 

As a public service announcement to all women who dream of spending a few days in bed away from the demands of your family while watching tv, reading a bestseller and having your meals delivered to you on a serving tray:  BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

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A bit of a plumbing issue here On The Ponderosa.  The toilet in the master bath runs constantly after flushing, it will stop if you repeatedly jiggle the handle a gazillion times (the only scientific repair in my arsenal).  The King is not disturbed by the nightly noise echoing from our bathroom, in fact, as I mentioned before, his sleep is rarely disturbed.  Since insanity or maiming of plumbing fixtures is just around the bend I decided to approach The King for his expertise in home repair.  Before I go on, let me say The King personally built our home with his own two hands and those of family and friends bribed with grilled red meat and alcohol.  It is a beautiful home.  I treasure it.  I am in awe of his dedication to our family to provide this shelter. 

Okay, had to mention that as not to appear an ungrateful spouse.  Back to the incessant noise in my master bath.  For background information I will note that The King never enters this bathroom, it is a long story involving the collection of health and beauty aids required to support the females On The Ponderosa.  When I presented my concern to The King, he offered some insight that you may not have considered if you suffer this plight in your own home.

THE POTTY TALK:

Queen:  The toilet in the master bath is running constantly.

King:  Go catch it then.

Queen:  You are so funny that I have decided to let you live.

King:  Did you jiggle the handle?

Queen:  Your life expectancy is decreasing by the minute.

King:  (innocent look)

Queen:  Yes I jiggled but it needs your expert attention.

King:  I will check it.

Three weeks later……

Queen:  The toilet is still running.

King:  Oh yeah, I checked it and there is nothing wrong with it.

Queen:  But it is running constantly and keeping me awake.

King:  Don’t flush it before you go to sleep.

Queen:  Do you want to eat actual cooked food again?

King:  No really, I know what the problem is.

Queen:  Want to share?

King:  Yes, you are flushing it TOO HARD.

Queen:  (no response but seething glare)

The King goes in to lengthy dialogue of appropriate amount of pressure required on handle to effectively flush toilet and not tangle the chain connected to the flapper.  He then proceeds to demonstrate on the toilet in his bathroom to educate me on the correct method. 

Then I shot him right there next to the tub and his non-running toilet.

Fortunately for The King our firearms are kept in a closet far from his bathroom.  While I expressed my thanks for his in-depth physics experiment and I reminded him this was not my first rodeo with flushing.  In fact, I have had an license to operate a toilet for 39 years.  Clearly outlined in our marriage vows and contract was his personal responsibility for plumbing concerns.  That’s the problem with those marriage contracts that disappearing ink, enforcing the terms can be difficult.  Sometimes tough negotiation is required.  I will lay odds that when he repeatedly cannot locate toilet tissue in his bathroom that my toilet will receive miraculous repair.

That my friends is marital relations in the bathroom here On The Ponderosa.

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One night a week, The Queen indulges in girls night out with her best friend.  Basically, this is a torrid affair of attempting to enjoy a quiet meal in a restaurant and catching up on gossip.  My idea of a good time does not include the following tale of parents gone stupid accompanied by an 8 year old child that would scare Stephen King. 

Crosby (yes, that is his name) spends the majority of the meal throwing utensils, food, condiments all over the place and smacking me in the back of my head at every opportunity.   Every time he did this, his idiot mother would say, in a voice barely above a whisper, “Crosby, stop that, please.”  At this point, we should have asked to move away from Crosby, but my interest was peaked as to Crosby’s fate.  Granted I have nearly grown children, but if I recall correctly, when they were 8 years old this behavior would have warranted a trip to the restroom where they would have received the knowledge of a come to Jesus meeting. 

This melee continues for 20 minutes and finally I believe the mom is about to discipline her child.  Did you know the word discipline comes from the word disciple (to teach)?  Crosby’s mother is not aware of that…keep reading.  She tells him, “Crosby, if you don’t stop that right now, we are not going to get  the new Power Ranger.”  I wish at this point I could add an exclaimation point or bold typed those words, but her voice was incapable of being strong and authoritative. Ever optimistic, I thought she was finally going to take charge.

Does the threat of no action figure strike fear into his heart?  No, it does not.  He continues his utensil and condiment juggling, adding throwing ice cubes at the waitress to his act .  Finally, mom announces that he will not be receiving his action figure for his continued silliness.  I kid you not, she called it silliness.  With that proclamation his bottom lip trembled, and tears almost filled his eyes.  This child should receive an Academy Award for Best Manipulation of Person Posing As A Parent.  Take a bow, Crosby.  You are about to win the prize.

Mom spots the tear, this is where my best friend had to hold my legs to keep me from climbing over the booth and striking the mom in the head with the ketchup bottle.  Mom pulls Crosby in to her loving arms to comfort his toy deprivation act.  She tells him, “oh, don’t cry, honey, we’ll still go get the Power Ranger.  Don’t cry.”

Let’s see, what has Crosby learned today? There are no consequences for my actions.  I suspect he knew this before fate landed him in the booth next to mine in this restaurant.  Really, there are parents that I must restrain myself from smacking the shit out of, see now I have degenerated to bad language.  You might say this is one of my pet peeves.  No really, this makes my head want to imploded or become an advocate of corporal punishment, purely to make me feel better.  So when I see brats, like Crosby, I feel completely justified in blaming the parent. Blame this mom, I will.  Gladly.

Parents like these are afraid of being the bad guy, not being liked or actually daring to say NO to these children.  Let me say it again, you are not their friend, you are their parent.  For some, apparently from a biological aspect only.  After 18 years these overindulged selfish brats will be unleashed into adult society, we should be afraid, very afraid. 

Now if you want an example of a parenting hero, read here.  She is totally, my parental heroChris, I bow at your parental superiority.

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