The Fat Chronicles: Reward Failure

It is day two of my exercise regimen, a pursuit that you will only hear about through humorous tales such as “I fell down on the treadmill trying to continue a Facebook argument” and “Why oh why can’t the bike have an air conditioner under the seat to help prevent your crotch from overheating?”

Today we will talk about setting up rewards for ourselves.

Carrie and I were discussing what might motivate us to get into better shape. Since I am a therapist, I know that rewards are motivational and therefore, we need a prize at the end of the very sweaty, uncomfortable, deprived-of-sleep-because-we-are-doing-this-in-the-mornings tunnel.

Not that there is an end to this tunnel. But that’s for another chronicle.

Anyway, we were brilliant and decided that whoever wins our strange “Biggest Loser” competition gets to pick our next vehicle.

This sounds excellent on paper. I mean, that’s pretty motivational. Which one of us is going to pick the orange Jeep that we both want? Scintillating theater.

But then I got to thinking… This is motivational in a very awkward way. The most direct route to winning is to sabotage the other person. Imagine a scenario wherein one partner gets to randomly bring home doughnuts that sit on the counter while her wife works from home all day and is a doughnut addict.

Or picture this: One partner does all of the cooking. (Not some of it…We are nearing 12 years in and I have never made a meal…) What is to stop said wife from adding extra butter to one meal while leaving her own bland and without fat?

Nothing will stop these events from occurring because they are all easier than working out. Using this reward system, there is a better chance we will both actually weigh more and do less simply in the hopes of the other person failing more miserably.

This is teamwork. This is marriage.

Welcome to the Fat Chronicles.

Rolling with the Fat

I don’t talk about body image much because I live at a very strange crossroads when it comes to the issue. My Wii console used to declare loudly “That’s Obese!” when I started up my Wii Fit session (which is super inspiring in case you were wondering) but this is not information to me and hasn’t been for quite some time. The thing is, the majority of the time, it doesn’t bother me. It remains in my consciousness as American society has demanded it do, but not in an “all day every day hate myself” sort of way. It’s more of a “If I have the choice between grapes and fried cheese curds, really give it some thought, fatty.”

A year ago, Carrie and I tried to do one of those month long challenges where you have to do planks, crunches, push-ups, and squats. Day one was easy because I swear that day one required us to simply imagine ourselves doing any of those things. We stuck with it until day 16. Day 16 was something in the vicinity of a two hour plank, 200 crunches, 80 push-ups, and 6349 squats. As we worked our way through the squats, one of us looked at the other and asked, “Really? Do you hate being fat this much?” The reply was a resounding, “No, really, I don’t.”

We did not complete the challenge.

Occasionally, though, I get a reminder that how I look in my head (which isn’t bad, honestly) is perhaps not the reality of the situation. Case in point:

Last weekend, I played in a softball tournament. We only played two games on Saturday, but it was 92 degrees and I am only in 78 degrees shape so I was very sore on Sunday morning. In particular, I felt like my lower left side of my back had been twinged in an irreversible fashion rendering me to feel as though I must ice before proceeding to day two of the tourney.

I grabbed an ice pack and found a comfortable position in our big plush chair, placing the ice on the spot that felt most sore. I stayed in this position for the requisite 20 minutes.

When my time was up, I stood up. Now, I’m not sure how I managed it, but the ice must have been specifically placed to touch one part of my back but just away from a small fat roll above it. Standing shifted everything so that the warm skin promptly rested against the cold skin.

“Oooooo….ooooooo….oooooo,” I declared, dancing around the living room, arching to my right to try to get the skin to stop touching. Then I began laughing at myself so hard that I started shaking which caused more skin touching which caused more gasping. Then I walked around looking like the old V8 commercials for the next 15 minutes until my skin warmed up.

I laughed as I imagined a scenario in which this event bothered me so deeply that I went on a workout, crazy health fanatic binge and lost 100 pounds. Then, when asked about my inspiration (as people do because everyone loves to talk about weight as though it is interesting), I would have to describe the time my fat roll stayed warm against icy skin and tickled me across the living room.

It would almost be worth it. Almost.

Love Letter Monday: Memphis, Baby

Mom’s highlight of the trip. I guess she preferred to look at these creatures waddling as opposed to Carrie and me.

Dear Memphis,

What kind of an “adult” likes to climb inside a minivan with her parents in the middle of June and drive a total of 1400 miles?  This “adult.”  (I am contractually obligated to put that word in quotation marks as we are not quite sure what that word signifies and, therefore, are unsure as to whether or not I meet the criteria.)

Oh, but we didn’t go just anywhere. We drove south. South to the land of hotel ducks and 107 degree weather. We piled three of the warmest women on earth and Dad into one vehicle and transported ourselves to a place where it was 82 degrees at night AND agreed we would walk everywhere because why not?

But you, Memphis. You rocked my socks off. Literally because no one should wear socks there because it is 107 degrees.

First of all, the trip to get to you is long and boring, so there is a high chance that we were delirious by the time we saw your beautiful skyline with little to no traffic. (Delirium included an instance where Carrie forgot to put honey mustard on my sandwich at Subway so as we were in the van and I was bemoaning my very dry sandwich, Mom opened hers and said, “Here have some of my honey mustard!” And she held it there until I replied, “Mom. We’re not going to rub our sandwiches together.”) Really, though, Arkansas? You won’t be getting a love letter anytime soon.

The niceness just oozes out of you, Memphis. From the second we pulled into the Peabody, everyone we met wanted to help us in some way. (I informed Dad that some help required tipping; he looked disillusioned with you, but I explained, Mem. I helped him understand.) From the old-timey bellhop to the front desk worker who upgraded our rooms for nothing, we felt like you wanted us there. It is good to be wanted. Your gift shop manager really liked our vowel-y accents, too.  Diversity is the spice of life, baby.

We ate at the Flying Fish which has the largest collection of those singing bass fish decorations anywhere. We even saw one painted to look like a confederate flag!  Who knew a bass could be racist? We do now, Memphis. You taught us real good.

To make up for that, we went to the Civil Rights Museum which was a crisp, cool half mile from our hotel. I added a half mile by getting us lost in a part of you, Memphis, that might need some work. But that’s okay. Only everyone complained about the heat. The Civil Rights Museum deserves its own love letter and should be required attendance for human beings.  It was somber and interesting and air conditioned.

When we left, we were looking for Central BBQ but my phone said it was 4.5 miles away, which everyone quickly denounced as being a no go on foot. We considered calling a taxi. Then I looked behind me and there a Central BBQ stood, less than a block away. (I imagine what that taxi ride would have looked like. “Take us to Central BBQ!” we would exclaim. The driver would look at us. We would remain giddy. He would put the car in drive and go 5 mph around the block. “Here you go,” he would say. We would ensure victory in the Laziest Americans of the Day contest. Send us our trophy!)

That night, we would eat at B.B. King’s on Beale Street where you house some excellent music and a really fabulous waiter. When Mom asked what was good on the menu, he listed off four different types of BBQ and then she went ahead and ordered the organic pasta anyway, he couldn’t help himself from exclaiming, “But that ain’t got no meat on it!”  Carrie would then wave her ribs across the top of the plate so he was more satisfied with her order and also brought us extra “cornbread croutons” because why not?  You wanted us to eat, Memphis, and we obliged.

The consensus for best experience was probably Sun Records/Studio.  What a fabulous tour!  Dad even won a guitar pick for answering a trivia question correctly but first he got it wrong and I actually gasped. I don’t know if my father has ever gotten a music trivia question wrong. He redeemed himself, but I thought we might need to have him examined.

If we have one complaint, my friend, it is Graceland. Wow do you just herd all of your unmentionables to that one location and desert them there all day, Memphis. Well done but hot diggity. Literally, hot. So much standing and waiting in line and kitche nonsense. The mansion itself was interesting as was the woman sobbing in front of Elvis’s gravesite. He’s been dead almost 38 years, Memphis. When are people gonna let it go?

Our Graceland experience was probably hindered a bit by our choice to starve ourselves all day in preparation for eating at a Paulette’s, a super nice restaurant, that night. I think large collections of gaudy items and blaring Elvis songs is better done on a full stomach. We forgot all about that experience, though, when Carrie had what she declared to be the “best filet mignon” anywhere. I had red fish with crab meat. It was so wonderful.

But that wasn’t enough. You, Memphis, you decided to flatter me. I got carded at that restaurant and told I am just so young looking.  Which means that I’m quite the catch, Mem. You’re lucky I love you.  But I do. So much so that twice I even thought, “Yeah. I could move south.”  Then I drove through Arkansas again and stayed in St. Louis (who will be our feature in my new Way to Suck Thursdays collection) and remembered that I am a Yankee. Still. We will always have this glorious week.  You are fabulous.

wonkypenguin, your trophy wife

P.S. Forgive Mom for always calling her small purse her “body bag.”  She knows not what she does.


MomBlog: Organizophile Edition

And in the beginning, there were clothes. And my god look at the sock drawer.

And in the beginning, there were clothes. And my god look at the sock drawer.

“I am 100% committed to this process,” I told my wife Thursday morning. “I have so many god damned clothes. It is overwhelming and embarrassing.”

“My fear is that you will get halfway done with the process and then just leave it,” she responded.

“Yes, because that’s what Mom is about. Doing things halfway.” I rolled my eyes even though I was at work and no one could see me do it. Facebook does not have a good eye roll emoticon. Fix this, Facebook. “I texted her because I couldn’t remember the name of the “organization guru” guy that she would inevitably leave Dad for. She texted me back within 30 seconds.”

“She probably let out a little ‘Squee!’ that you even asked.”  I then sent Carrie the link to Peter Walsh’s organization blog. “I can’t even tell you how much I don’t care about the organization guru,” she responded.

“WHICH IS WHY OUR HOUSE LOOKS HOW IT DOES!” I stated emphatically.  We are not a dirty people; we are a messy people. Whenever I come across any article that combines “hidden genius” with “organized messes,” I immediately bookmark it.

If this hypothesis is correct, Carrie and I are a collective Einstein.


Mom has been pursuing this event since approximately 1988. The great purge. The event for clearing of all things clutter. The deconstruction of a wardrobe that still contains a shirt I wore in high school, back when my boobs were not the focus of my being and I could run 800 meters in less than 12 minutes. Of all the things she has worried about, the lack of organization in my life ranks in the top 5. “How could I have failed,” she must wonder multiple times a day. (This reminds me of her visit to my college dorm room freshman year when she literally said, “Kelly – you don’t need to live like this. No one needs to live like this.” The horror is real.)

To wit, I am neither a hoarder nor suffering from any disorder unless you count the one that makes me keep multiple small piles of books scattered throughout the house so that wherever I am sitting at any given moment, I have something to read. I am more the “I was tired of wearing a bra so I took it off and flung it onto the chair in the office where it then gets thrown onto the floor of the spare room and lies there until I go on a cleaning spree and take it downstairs so it’s on the floor of the laundry room which then qualifies as “progress” to me. Make sense?

As Mom continued to send messages outlining what we would be engaging in, I asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you?”  She replied, “It’s like getting 30% off at Kohl’s!”  That is the epitome of MomJoy.  I knew we were in for a day.


My parents arrived with an entire box of garbage bags intended to collect “The Purge” as we were calling it. I had taken Ava to the vet and instructed Carrie not to let my mom just start or I would be left with one of each piece of apparel. She grunted as though she did not care. Indeed, I began to suspect she did not.

The system in our house had always been to keep just enough clothes dirty so that we had room in our drawers and closets for the clean ones. But on Friday morning, all of mine were piled in the living room for judgment. “Where shall we start?” Mom asked without saying hello to me when I arrived home. “Oh you brought doughnuts!”

Yes. The expectation was that I would bring home doughnuts from Bloedow’s which was voted the best bakery in Minnesota. Oh and did no one mention that Friday was National Donut Day?  So would you think that perhaps said bakery would be busy? The morning was already exhausting and we hadn’t touched an article of clothing.

We ate our doughnuts in the living room, looking at the amassed history of my apparel. “Okay,” Mom said, feeding part of her bismarck to the boys, “this is how Peter says to do it.” She then outlined for me the upcoming joy we would all be experiencing.


First came the clothes on hangers. These were my “dress clothes.”  Perhaps you have these, too. These are the ones you keep in a closet so that when you suddenly out of nowhere have an orchestra concert or an impromptu wedding you must attend, you have options to choose from. These are the ones you stare at while declaring, “I have nothing to wear.”

The oldest winner in this pile was a button up shirt from a shopping trip in 2004. It went in the pile. Mom exhaled with pride.  “Doesn’t that feel good?” she said holding up the next pair of pants for judgment.  A lot of shirts went. “The key is to have no emotional attachment to them,” Mom guided me. “They are going to the depot where they will either be resold or recycled. You’re not throwing them out. You’re just… redirecting them.”


I own 15 hooded sweatshirts. I threw three of them out. “Do you seriously wear all of these?” Mom asked me gravely, sifting through the multiple colors and densities.

“Yes, I do,” I said back, somewhat snidely. “It gets cold in Minnesota in the winter.”


The underwear and sock drawers were next. These were obnoxious. I quickly realized that 82% of my underwear drawer was composed of garments I hadn’t worn in years. Not like two years.  More like eight.  Toss toss toss.  The sock drawer was a little easier because I have a sock obsession and wear almost all of them. But I still had a pair from 2000 when I was at a freezing cold soccer tournament in Marshall, Minnesota, and I needed a warm pair of socks for being a spectator.

That pair of socks was when I really realized that my clothes led to memories and that perhaps that is why I kept them around for so long.  I don’t know if other people have this with as many pieces as I do. All I knew is that while I came to realize this fact, I turned to face the biggest obstacle in my way: T-shirts.


My grandmother screen printed a Polaroid and sent me a t-shirt three years ago. Again: Screen. Printed. A. Polaroid.

My grandmother screen printed a Polaroid and sent me a t-shirt three years ago. Again: Screen. Printed. A. Polaroid.

Good god the t-shirts.  Allow me to show you a few of the most special ones.

The first t-shirt Mom brutally tried to take away from me was the one on which my grandmother screen printed a Polaroid of a crying 2 or 3-year-old me with their old dog, Tuffy.

“What on earth is this?” Mom asked as she looked at it. “Seriously, Kelly. You hated that dog. Look how miserable you are! And Tuffy wasn’t exactly fond of you either. Is this a memory you really want?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed emphatically. “It’s a great shirt that I wear underneath other shirts.”

“We can buy you new white shirts,” Mom offered.

“Will they have a screen printed Polaroid on them?” I asked.


“Then we’re keeping it,” I responded.

T-shirt Purge Score: Kelly 1, Mom 0.

I stole this shirt at a softball tournament in Kentucky. 12 years ago.

I stole this shirt at a softball tournament in Kentucky. 12 years ago.


Next came my Bluegrass Bombers t-shirt. I was never on the Bluegrass Bombers – a girl I was dating was.  And I essentially stole this shirt at a tournament in Kentucky in 2003.  It is a very comfortable softball shirt.

The problem is that I had eight (EIGHT) other softball t-shirts from teams I had actually played on. I had to have a softball shirt throwdown.

“I’m letting you keep six shirts because you claim to use them throughout the season,” Mom said. “That’s all. You were never a Bluegrass Bomber. You don’t need a shirt.”

“But I wear it underneath things!” I protested again.

“I’m onto your rouse,” she responded and it went in the bag.

T-shirt Purge Score: Kelly 1, Mom 1.

Remember when everyone lost their damned minds in 2004?

Remember when everyone lost their damned minds in 2004?

One of my favorite time periods for the Sharbies was 2004. We claim we went crazy that year – did everything we wanted to do, traveled all over, dug ourselves into the most fun debt we could imagine (and then spent six years trying to recover from it).

Also in 2004 was the presidential election from hell. I don’t know if everyone else feels that way about the Bush/Kerry era, but I can say that it was so hellishly contentious and angry… and so much of it was focused on gay issues… that it was an exceptionally annoying time to be alive.

Within that, the Vote for Change tour erupted with tons of musical acts gathering together to promote the liberal cause. We saw one show in Des Moines featuring Bonnie Raitt, Keb ‘Mo, John Prine, and Neil Young. It was a sweet concert in an absurd time.

And that t-shirt was uncomfortable as all get out. Mom won easily.

T-shirt Purge Score: Kelly 1, Mom 2.

If you can't understand why I need both of these, we can't be friends.

If you can’t understand why I need both of these, we can’t be friends.

“These are the same shirt!” Mom exclaimed.

“They are not!” I exclaimed back. “I don’t have any other brown shirts!” Emphatically. Shouted.

“Fine. Keep the brown one.”


“A smattering. Of colors. Of Coors t-shirts. Are you even listening to yourself?”

She was right. I may have, um, been peaking in my stress right about then. But I got to keep them both which just goes to show: People listen when you speak passionately.

T-Shirt Purge Score: Kelly 3, Mom 2.

The winner of oldest piece of clothing is...

The winner of oldest piece of clothing is…

There was a small contest going on to see just what would be the rattiest, tattered, oldest piece of clothing in my wardrobe. Now, technically, the oldest piece of clothing was a Beatles shirt that I wore on the first and last day of my senior year of high school. But I had kept that shirt in such pristine condition that it could hardly be considered the winner.

Which left my “Just Smash It” t-shirt as the winner. First off, I think the shirt itself is, like, a freaking size medium which I haven’t worn since I was probably 4 years old. It was a shirt I bought during my coaching career which started, peaked, and ended in 2000.

The fact that this was still in my collection is one of those flukes. It must have been hiding every other time I had tried to purge my clothing, tucking itself into a corner, begging me to remember that time they let me be in charge of a dozen 14-year-olds and I allowed them to use “The Thong Song” as our pregame inspirational music. I decided I didn’t need the t-shirt to remember such nonsense.

T-shirt Purge Score: Kelly 3, Mom 3

One of my top 5 favorite football memories was buying this jersey. Hi. I'm a Vikings fan.

One of my top 5 favorite football memories was buying this jersey. Hi. I’m a Vikings fan.

I grew up hating one football player more than any other player for the continuous years of 1992-2009. It’s not hard to do. Putting a cocky, good, narcissistic ass on my least favorite team in professional sports causes this for most sports fans. Add to that the unadulterated worship that fan base showed that player and it makes for a chemical mix that causes so much disdain, it cannot be measured with any device.

We were at the cabin on vacation without television one morning when our neighbor, Bernie, wandered over to tell us that Brett Favre was on a plane heading to Minnesota.  Sure, the Vikings needed a quarterback and sure, he was probably the best one available. And sure, the Packers had literally tried to pay him $20 million to simply not play anymore.

But the torture it was going to cause the worshiping nation of Wisconsin seemed too good to pass up. We got in the car and drove into Mankato (where the Vikings do their training) and sure enough, we actually found a Favre Vikings jersey already on sale. I bought it immediately. The joy was real.

As you know, making deals with the devil don’t work out very frequently so when he threw that dumbass interception to lose the NFC Championship game, I was not surprised. The memory will always be the day we found out he was coming. And Friday, I easily gave the shirt up.

T-Shirt Purge Score: Kelly 3, Mom 4

Notice the space between hangers. That didn't exist before.

Notice the space between hangers. That didn’t exist before.

All in all, I gave up 31 t-shirts.  And my closet looks like a closet now. I even got rid of three pairs of shoes and five hats.  That is unheard of. No one believed it possible.

My mom danced around like a child at the end of a sugar overdose (which, really, the bismarck may have played a role in).  “Don’t you just feel so … so … FREE!?!?”

The truth is that I did feel free. I don’t feel like I’m drowning in unnecessary items collected over a lifetime. It is a joy to have only clothes that fit, that I wear, and that I am able to comfortably store in my closet and drawers without managing the balance of having half of them in the laundry at all times.

My mother is an organizophile. And a damn good one. Feel free to hire her by calling 1-800-MOMWILLHAPPILYTAKEALLYOURCLOTHESAWAY.

My soul-cleansing Fridays have been wonderful so far. What shall I do next week?

Love Letter Tuesday: Doing Yoga With Dogs Around

Dear Slider and Ava,

Earlier this morning, my yoga instructor told me to “melt into timelessness.”  That sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Leads to all sorts of meditative ideas. What is timelessness? How does one melt into anything? There is so much peace and joy in yoga, something prescribed to me by every doctor and therapist in my life.

And you two allow me to experience so much whatthehell during yoga that it is almost like its own form of meditation.

For instance, instead of melting into timelessness, you licked my elbow.

There is no good reason to do so. Just seconds before, the two of you were ripping apart a chew toy shaped like a giant frog. You willfully and joyously spit the frog’s fuzzy innards about the basement, grunting and taking turns like it was a buffet that everyone must stand over to eat. I ignored this. I did triangle pose in spite of your furry dissection, tilting my head just so and lowering my shoulder blades away from my ears.

I could really feel the pull in my hamstrings right before one of you belly crawled your way between my legs and laid down, suddenly bored with our search for transcendence. Indeed, the standing poses don’t interest you quite as much as the ground poses. The sitting poses are when you really get going with your participation.

Today, during one particular twisting stretch, you wrestled so emphatically against my hip that you knocked me off my folded pillow that I sit on because my hips are inflexible beams of steel. So I tried to balance and stretch and then boom – off I rolled right onto my mat. This encouraged you both as though you were suddenly winning a game I wasn’t playing.

Then we get to the poses when we are lying on the mat. These seem to confuse you at first. Lotus really gets you kicking as I lie on my stomach and arch my chest up, the head following the natural arc of the spine just like my yoga instructor tells me to do.

This is when you sniff my eyeball.

I don’t know what smell my eyeball gives off to you or why you seek enlightenment by inhaling it rapidly at that moment in time. Then you like to give me kisses. Eyeball. Lick cheek. Eyeball. Lick chin. “Mom! Mom! Mom! What’re you doing? What are you thinking? Are you thinking about us? We’re thinking about you! MOM THIS IS FUN!”

“Keep a steady breath throughout your practice,” the master says.  Screw that. I will breathe when my dogs get their sniffers out of my face.

The next part isn’t your fault, Slider. We have trained you to jump on my back and sit patiently for petting. I don’t know why we did that really. It’s an odd trick. You do not “stay” or “come” or “stop losing your everloving mind over the cat over there.”  But sit perfectly still on my back while I lie on the ground on my stomach? At that, you’re a master.

But again, not conducive to good poses designed to bring peace and positive mental health to my life.  Instead it makes me giggle. It is hard to do the cobra pose when laughing. It is hard to “push up into child’s pose” when your 19.7 pound dog is sniffing your ear while standing on your back.

All of this is doable, my little white messes. You love each other – we get it. You may even be dating.  Still.  At the end of the practice, when I am meditating, when I am trying to align my chi by alternating which nostril I inhale through, I could do without the penis licking. I could do without the paw scratching. I could really do without the small grunts designed to continue the wrestling or the toy masticating.

To think – when I was hospitalized, one of the first things we did was get your vet records faxed so that you could visit me on the ward. They do this because dogs are supposed to bring peace and comfort, but all evidence is to the contrary with these practices, children.

You and I have very very different ideas of how to melt into timelessness. Something tells me you’re better at it than I am. Because at the very end of the session, Ava, as I sit cross legged with my eyes closed, hands resting on my knees, you climb gently onto my lap, curl up, and fall asleep like you’ve been there for hours. You melt just fine, don’t you? And Slider, you can’t possibly “melt” without “down” attached and yet, we firmly believe you were a Buddhist monk in a former life in your ability to let it all just roll right off your perfect specimen of a dog back.

You will always be timeless, though. I’ll give you that. So I love doing yoga with both of you around. Namaste.



MomBlog: The Chicken Sandwich Conundrum

Mom would LOVE this sandwich. Look how plain it is!

One of my goals for my summer is to have lunch with my parents more frequently. I do this for you, dear readers.

I have arranged my summer schedule to have Spiritually Enhancing Fridays. What this means is that I don’t work on Fridays and can do whatever I want. And truly, what can be more spiritually enhancing than lunch with my parents?

Well, lunch with my mom in particular. No offense to my esteemed father, but he is… well, he’s sort of normal. Events with him tend to go the way 90% of lunches in America probably go. Choose restaurant. Choose conversation topics. Order. Talk. Eat. Pay. Hug. The end.

But that doesn’t suffice for MomBlog entries. For one, there is no anxiety in that scenario. Lunches need more anxiety. There is just so much to worry about, dear readers. You will just never get around to worrying about them all.

To wit: Last Friday, I drove home to get my haircut because I get my haircuts across the street from my parents’ house by the man who gave me my first ever haircut 34 years ago. Why change? It’s also an excellent excuse to visit home and eat with my parents. We agreed to go to a restaurant I like 10 miles from my childhood home. 10 miles. It takes approximately 12 minutes to reach this restaurant. This is important math for you to remember later.

During the haircut, I mentioned to Mom that if she wanted to share a chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries for lunch, that would be great for me.  I only wanted half a sandwich and I know that she LOVES sweet potato fries. In my mind, I had offered a solution to my “light lunch” desires. I even said we could order it plain with honey mustard on the side. (If you are ever quizzed or ever out to lunch with Mom, this is what she will inevitably order. It’s not that she has any anxiety about change – it may actually be the ONE thing she doesn’t have anxiety about – it’s just that she’s found what she loves so why change?)

We were taking two vehicles to the restaurant so I could head back to Winona after lunch and Mom and Dad could go back home. Mom had Dad ride with me. She seems under the impression that she needs to force bonding between us even though that is not necessary. (A couple of weeks ago, I called home and talked to Dad for 5-8 minutes about the Cubs and a smattering of other things. At the end of the conversation, I asked to speak to Mom. She picked up the phone and immediately asked, “What’s wrong?” I laughed. “Mom, if something was wrong, do you think I would have talked to Dad? No. I would have bypassed him. Think about it.” She responded, “Well, if something was wrong, you’d tell me, right?” “Yes, Mom.”)

Dad and I hopped in my vehicle and headed out. Mom was lagging a bit, probably checking to make sure the toaster, iron, coffee pot, and all other electronics were unplugged in the house so the chances of a fire were greatly reduced. He and I drove out of town talking about baseball and the like. Remember the math from before? Pay attention.

Six minutes into our drive, Mom called Dad’s phone. He picked up and held the phone away from his ear a bit so I could hear the conversation, which I have transcribed below:

“Well, I’m going to be late… I seem to have gotten behind the two slowest trucks on the road and you know how hard it is to pass on this road. [The road my parents have driven probably 200,000 miles on in their lifetimes.] [Again, remember the math.] So I’m going to be late. I hate being late. And I was thinking about lunch and how Kelly said she would share a chicken sandwich with me. But I worry that she’s not getting to order that turkey sandwich she really likes. And she should really order what she likes. I eat there all the time; she only gets there so often so she should get what she wants. Don’t you think? I feel like she doesn’t need to eat a chicken sandwich if she really wants turkey. [Pause] These trucks are going so slowly. So make sure when you get there you go in and get a table right away, I know she’s on a schedule and wants to get back to Winona. [It’s 11:45 on a Friday. Doubt the restaurant was going to have a wait.] But you don’t have to talk to her about the turkey sandwich. I’ll work that out with her when I get there and I’m going to be late. Okay?”

Dad says okay and hangs up the phone. “You’re going to get the turkey sandwich. She has decided.”

Sure enough, we pull into the parking lot and calmly walk into the restaurant and they seat us in a booth. It could not have been three minutes. I mean, I know what three minutes feels like, and this was not three minutes. I could have planked the full amount of time between our arrival and when Mom came briskly through the doors of the restaurant. She had not even sat down yet when she began, “I really think you should get the turkey sandwich…”

I looked at her. I assuaged her fears and said I would order the turkey sandwich. “And we’ll just give the second half of the sandwich to Tim [who cuts my hair] and then the whole problem is solved!” she declared, looking relieved and proud of herself.

“I’m really going to enjoy our summer lunches,” she stated later, doing her cursory glance at the menu as if she is going to order anything other than a plain chicken sandwich with honey mustard on the side.

So am I, Mom. And, my guess is, so will everyone else.