Sassy Sally proposes to Pretty Penny



Sally bent down on one knee, holding up the ring box.  Her blue eyes were glowing sapphires in the shade under the trees.

Penny’s mouth gaped for a moment, taking in the scene.  Hot and sweaty from the hike up the mountain, she had stopped to take a break and gaze out over the beautiful view; she had not anticipated this.

Wordlessly, she reached into her pocket, pulling out a similar ring box.  She fell to one knee and held it up, imitating Sally’s posture.

They looked into each other’s eyes, matching sapphires frozen for a moment in time.  Then they started laughing.

“I’m asking you to marry me!” Sally said.

“Well, I’m asking you, too!” Penny answered.

“I asked first, so you answer first!” Sally insisted.

Penny rolled her eyes and leaned over to kiss her girlfriend.

“No!  Answer me first!” Sally again insisted.

“Um, don’t ya think it’s pretty obvious?” Penny replied.

“Say it!” Sassy Sally said saucily.

“Yes!  Alright?  Yes, I want to marry you!” Penny said, exasperated.

Sally rewarded her fiancée with a kiss.  “That wasn’t so hard now, was it?  And I say, ‘yes’ to you, too!”

The Real Story

That’s not how it really happened, but that’s how I had envisioned it.  After all, Sally had teased Penny for months, letting her know that she (Sally) was ready for a ring.

For example, at the mall, Sally said, “Oh look!  There’s a jewelry store!  Let’s go look at rings.”

Penny would look the other way and pretend not to hear, or point at something in another store.  “Oh look, shirts!”

Penny always wore solid color, basic button ups or t-shirts.  It’s safe to say that she isn’t a big shopper.  Sally actually forced her to try on some shirts which had patterns on them, which was way outside Penny’s comfort zone, but she dutifully tried on the shirts, anyway.

Another time, when we were chilling at home, this convo happened.

“I have a Pinterest with all my wedding ideas,” Sally had told me.

“WTF?!  I don’t even have a Pinterest account,” I answered.  “Does Penny know about this?”

“Yes,” Sally said.  “I started it so that she’d pick out the right ring, when the time came.  It also has bridesmaid dresses, and my wedding colors, and…”

I stared at the alien sitting next to me, the alien who had almost certainly taken over my daughter’s body.  Unless it was a doppelganger, and my daughter’s real body was locked in a closet somewhere.  Although some myths state that the doppelganger uses the bones of the person, in which case there wouldn’t be a body to find.

Later, I casually questioned Penny about her feelings on the topic.  “Are you going to pop the question?  Are you even gonna ask her parents’ permission first?”  (For the record, I think asking the parents is old fashioned and I didn’t really expect to be asked.  I was just giving Penny shit.)

“I’ve told Sally,” she said, with what sounded like long-suffering patience, “that when the time is right, it will be a surprise.  But it has to be a surprise.

My daughter is a lot like her mother (and yes, that’s me), in that patience is not her strongest virtue.  So I wasn’t extremely surprised when we had this phone conversation.

“Mom, I spent a little money—not too much, I promise—and I bought Penny a ring.  I’m going to propose to her when we’re on our romantic vacation in Colorado in two weeks!” Sally said, bursting with excitement.  I could see her big grin and how she jumped up and down, even over the phone.

How it went down

Sally and Penny spent the morning hiking around Engineer Mountain, until they were tuckered out.  They drove to lunch, then back to the hotel to wash the mountain dust and sweat away.

“What do you want to do?” Sally asked.

“I dunno, I don’t want to move very much, I’m sore!” Penny said.

“Ok, I know what to do!” Sally said.  See, Sally (like her mother), is a planner.  Plus, she’d been on enough hiking trips with me to know that this moment would arrive, so she pulled a wrapped box out of a drawer in the dresser where she had hidden it.  “Open your present!”

“What’s this?” Penny said, opening it to find the Lego tie fighter kit.  “This is great!”

The ladies took turns putting the pieces together, following the instructions, until they were down to the last piece: the windshield.

“Where is it?” Sally asked innocently, hiding it in her pocket.  “Oh, here it is, under the bed!”  She pulled out a ring box, and told Penny, “You’re my missing piece!”

And she said yes!


Congratulations to the newly engaged couple, Sally Strawberry and Penny Pineapple!  They plan to be engaged for three years, allowing Sally time to graduate with her undergrad degree.  Since both ladies are so very patient and…

I can’t even finish that sentence.


We put the Fun in Dysfunctional Family


“Stop looking at my daughter’s ass!” I playfully admonished Penny Pineapple, Sally’s girlfriend (2 years and counting).

“I wasn’t…” she began, then amended her words to, “I can’t help it.  Look at the pants she’s wearing!”

Sally stuck out her derriere in her sassy way.  Though her pants were plain black, not the gaudy pattern that I expected.  However, they were tight spandex yoga pants.


I was watching Doctor Who when the ladies arrived from Austin, and paused it.  Strangely enough, one of the characters on the screen looked exactly like Penny in her tank top and baseball cap.  We had to take a picture!  The really strange thing is, Penny rarely wears tank tops, so it was very strange that she happened to wear one that day.

Not able to argue with Penny, I changed the subject.  “Sally, look at this article,” I smiled as I handed her the magazine.

Excited, because Science is Cool!, she took the magazine.  Smiling at me, she put on a academic air and read, “Mitigating Structural Steel Corrosion Protects Decorative Façade of the Historic Elks Veteran Memorial.”  Only, upon reaching the word “Elk” she dropped the magazine.  The flat look that she gave me could not stop the laughter from rising within me and exploding out.

Mitigating Structural Steel Article

And THAT is what it’s like to hang out with me, Sally, and Penny on a Friday night.

Saturday mornings are pretty dysfunctional, too.  Last month, I made pancakes and invited Sally to sit down at the table.

“Do they have chocolate chips?” she asked.  When I said yes, she practically leaped across the room to the table.  Sitting down on the chair I offered, she gave a shocked look when a crinkle and a squeak came from the chair.

“Stand up!” I told her, grinning, and pulled out the furry pink pig dog toy that was hidden there.  She had given me the toy as a present, referencing a couple of private jokes (which I could try to explain, but might not make any sense at all, if you had not been there).


I put my little hat on the pig and he looked very sharp.

Sally was shocked that I had gotten one over on her.  She crinkled the toy, squeaked its nose, and delightful told me, “Yo face!”

“Let’s get Penny!” I said.

And we did!  Unfortunately, Penny is somewhat deaf, so she didn’t realize what was happening.  So it was much more fun a few minutes later to play the same prank on Jack!

The pig traveled with us to Utah earlier in the summer, where he hid under Sally’s pillow.  Later, I found him under a rug in the living room.  I have a feeling that the little guy is going to bounce around a lot in the next year or more.  He’s a lot more fun than Elkton, who just hangs out looking cool.  Since Sally is off away at college now, I send her a picture now and then, to let her know that he misses her.

For anyone who is curious, I am not posting a pic of my daughter’s ass!



Elkton John


Penny & Sally ~ Aren’t they cute?!


Health Magazine had this quote in it*, and I had to share it with my daughter.  ‘MERICA!

(2014.  I’m behind on my reading.)


The Cashier

The cashier looked at me skeptically, then to the wine I had placed on the conveyor belt.  I told him, “July 19, 1974,” and smiled, stating my birthday so that he could enter it into the register.

Still, he stared.

So, still smiling, I retrieved my license from my purse and showed it to him.

“I’ve been married longer than you’ve been alive,” he told me, with a thick East Texan drawl.

“Congratulations!  I have great admiration for those who can make relationships work,” I said (with a healthy dose of honesty).

“It’s not a relationship,” he told me, with serious candor, “It’s a marriage.”



Birthday Breakup



Mike broke up with me on my birthday.  Not just any birthday, either—my 30th.  HE BROKE UP WITH ME ON MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!

It’s a wonder I ever dated a guy named Mike after that.  But I did.  Once or twice or…

But I digress.

He wasn’t even a man about it; he was a wuss.  A big, fat, wuss!  He told me, “I’m going to hang out with Frank tonight.  We’re going to smoke a joint and play video games.”

“It’s my birthday,” I responded.  “I thought we’d go out to dinner, maybe go dancing.  The kids are at their dad’s house, so it’s just you and me.”  I ignored the drug reference; he liked to say outrageous things to see people’s reactions.

“Like I said, I’m hanging with Frank,” Mike the Plumber answered.

“Sounds like you want to break up,” I answered, trying not to let the disappointment and hurt affect my voice.  Birthdays should be special.  In my world, the Birthday Girl should be treated like a queen and her every whim indulged, like a bride on her wedding day.  Only, without the outrageous dress and all the relatives.  To hear the very opposite from a man who claimed to love me…well, that was unthinkable.

“You said it, not me,” the Asshole answered.

“Actions speak louder than words.  Come and get your stuff,” I answered, hanging up the phone.  Ian McGee had forced me to break up with him in high school, then played the pity card to get close to the girl he liked, so I was familiar with the Forced Break Up tactic.  Unfortunately.

I didn’t wait for him to show up; instead, I pulled empty boxes out of the garage and upstairs to my closet, depositing in them the clothes that had been hung there the week before.  Though we’d only been dating three months, we had clicked well, and I had been happy to have him move in.  Now I saw the move as a ploy to make me break up with him: moving too fast was one way to freak a girl out.  Especially a divorcee.  And especially especially a divorcee single mom.  Why hadn’t I seen it before?  And why hadn’t I noticed that he had tried picking a hundred little fights with me?

I went to the kitchen and pulled out the coffee mug that I had bought him the month before, and put it on top of his clothes.  I didn’t need any reminders of his sorry ass or an excuse for him to call me.

He was there and gone in minutes.  I waved and smiled at him and Frank when they pulled out of the driveway.  The men gave me confused smiles back.  They obviously thought that I should be in tears, yelling, or—well, something other than cheerful.

I wouldn’t give the bastards the satisfaction of seeing me cry.  Fuck ‘em, this is MY BIRTHDAY—MY THIRDIETH BIRTHDAY—and they could kiss my ass if they thought I was going to sit home and pout.

I picked up the phone and dialed my ex-boyfriend, Pirate Boy.  He earned the name by wearing bandanas in his hair to class, where we had met.  About ten years younger than me, about average height and build, his stunning intelligence and charming words had won me over.

“Hey, Pretty Lady!” Pirate Boy said brightly.  “To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”

I took a deep breath.  I had broken up with Pirate Boy because he liked to piss me off, fight, then be the good guy who made everything better.  Kinda like a pirate who fired the cannons, then rescued the fair maiden from the sinking ship; it was nice of him to perform the rescue, but not really since it was his fault the ship was scuttled in the first place.  I had tried in vain to teach him that smooth waters made me happier; but he thrived on the fight and strong emotions that conflicts and resolutions entailed (e.g. make up sex).  We were on again, off again for a couple of years.

But I’d be damned if I was going to sit home alone on my freakin’ 30th birthday.

So I say, “It’s my birthday, let’s go dancing.”

“I would do anything for the pleasure of your fine company,” Pirate Boy answered in his peculiar way.  “I am, regretfully, promised to go to my parents’ house for dinner.  You can join me or I can meet you afterward, sometime after 9 p.m.”

“My house, 10 p.m.,” I say without hesitation.  Dinner with his parents was always awkward, since he had a love/hate relationship with them and—HELLO!—I had broken up with him 4 months prior.  I can just imagine the dinner conversation:

“Are y’all back together?”  his mom would ask.

“Nope, just having birthday sex,” I’d answer.

Uh, let’s pass on that one, shall we?

Next, I called Reggie and Portia, who were only too happy to meet me at Cool River to celebrate.  Portia’s boyfriend Jay had set me up with Mike (aka the bastard who broke up with me on my birthday), and he was more distraught than I was.

“He seemed like such a nice guy,” Jay told me, “I’m really sorry that he did this to you.  But hey, you got some free plumbing work out of it!”

Portia agreed.  “Yep, you needed your shower re-tiled, and he helped with that.  Saved you a couple hundred bucks.  Now, let’s get the Birthday Girl a shot!”

“I’ll drink to that!” I said loudly, over the cover band.  Then I turned to Reggie and said, “Let’s dance!”

I had never danced with Reggie before, and I was reminded of how tall he was, as we moved on the crowded dance floor.  At 6’4”, he was a full foot taller than me.  When the next song came on, it was a slow song.  I moved to go sit down, but he pulled me into his arms and we swayed to the music.  I loved him more than ever; he had dropped everything to come out with me, even though he hated dancing and loud bars, but here he was, holding me close, supporting me literally and figuratively.  In that moment, I wished that I hadn’t called Pirate Boy.

But I didn’t have a cell phone to call Pirate Boy, so my course was set.  At 9:30 p.m., I told Portia with a wink, “I’ve gotta go!  Meeting Pirate Boy at my house!”

Surprised, she covered her shock with a laugh and answered, “You go girl!”

Jay gave me a hug and I left with Reggie, my designated driver.  On the way home, I sang loudly to the radio, enjoying the buzz and really glad that I hadn’t driven myself.

Reggie parked the car in my driveway and I hugged him.  “Thank you.  I didn’t want to spend my birthday alone, and you came to my rescue.  I really appreciate that.”

“Do you want me to come in?” he asked.

I hesitated.  Did you think that I’d trip walking up the shallow stairs to my door?  Or did he mean something more?  We’d been friends for a couple of years, but I had been dating Pirate Boy and then Mike; this was the first time that I’d been single.  Had he been waiting for a chance?

Before I could answer, a car pulled into the driveway beside us.  I told Reggie, “Pirate Boy is here.  I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?”

In the dim light, I couldn’t tell if he was disappointed or surprised.  I climbed out of the car and was immediately swept up in Pirate Boy’s embrace.  “Hey Pretty Lady!” he said.  “Happy birthday!”

Reggie left while we were kissing hello.  Pirate Boy was as handsome as ever: shoulder-length brown hair, sparkling brown eyes, and strong shoulders.  My passionate, loving Pirate who knew how I liked to be touched where I liked to be kissed.  “I missed you,” he whispered in my ear, and once were inside, he showed me just how much.

The next week I summed up my weekend as, “My boyfriend broke up with me, so I snapped my fingers and an ex-boyfriend came running.  Happy birthday to me!”

That’s right, Mike – you lose, I win.  And trust me, I was a winner all.  Night.  Long.


This flashback was brought to you by My Birthday! And the Committee for Hopeless Romantics.

P.S. Pirate Boy and I were on again/off again for another year after that.  The sex was great. #WorthIt

Photo credit:

Hawaiian Luau Birthday Party




I adjust the top of my purple bikini and look around the living room.  My friend Amanda had helped me hang purple and white balloons and streamers; she had also fixed my hair into a fancy mound of curls with tendrils down the side.  Alan, my loving husband, had set up the piña colada and margarita machines—strawberry margaritas, that is.  The homemade cake was frosted white with purple roses on the side; I’m not the best chef or artist, but I was proud of how well it had turned out.  We are all set to have the best Hawaiian Luau Birthday Party ever!

The doorbell rings and I open the door to find two of my best friends standing there in plastic coconut bras and grass skirts!  I laugh, loud and long!  “I didn’t know that you were coming as hula girls!  Look at you!”  They both have long blonde hair and are beautiful, but Jane stands 6 inches taller than the petite 5-foot-nothing Tatiana.  I hug them, and they present me with a purple plastic string of flowers, a lei.  Again I laugh, “Wow, you went out all out!”

“Only the best for our favorite birthday girl!” Jane says with a smile and wraps me in a big hug.  That’s when I see their husbands behind them, wearing Hawaiian shirts.

I sighed a little sigh of relief.  One never knows if guests will comply with a dress code to a themed party, but these friends had gone out of their way to comply, and I was grateful.

Of course, Alan’s friends showed up an hour later in regular shorts and t-shirts, but I didn’t let that phase me.  I didn’t want to see them in bikinis.

We fill our drinks and settle down in the living room, talking and laughing until Alan announces, “Let’s head to the backyard for the hula hoop contest!”

“Birthday girl goes first!” I squeal excitedly.  However, just like always, I can only get the thing to go around two and a half times before it falls to the floor.  I don’t know why I had thought that today I would have magical powers to keep up the hula hoop better than ever.  I laugh and tell my friends, “It’s defective!”

“Give me that,” Jane says, taking the plastic circle from me.  She starts to move her hips, and I lost count of how many times it went around her body.  She looked like she could do it all day!

Tatiana keeps the other hoop off the floor longer than I had, but starts and stops while Jane is still gyrating.

Alan announces, “We have a winner!”

I ask, “How the hell did you do that?!”

Jane laughs, and tells me, “I’ve had five kids.  I have hips to keep that hoop up!”

“Next is the limbo contest!” Alan tells us, gesturing to the painted wooden pole with curly ribbons on the ends.  “Who wants to hold the pole?”

“Me!”  “I’ll do it,” says two of our friends who are NOT interested in shimmying as low as they could go.  Alan presses play on the cassette tape that he had queued up and bright, cheerful music spills into the air.

I am as good at limbo as I had been at hula hoop—which is to say, not good at all!  Once more, Jane astounds us with her skill.  Tatiana keeps pace with Jane, maybe not surprisingly since Tatiana is closer to the ground to begin with, as short as she is.  And yet, as the pole moved closer to the ground with every round, Tatiana slips and falls as Jane keeps going.

“The woman with 5 kids wins BOTH events?!” I say merrily.  “You go girl!  You’re amazing!”

Her husband kisses her and we move back inside, laughing and congratulating her.

“Let’s play Truth or Dare!” Cristoff, Tatiana’s husband, says.  “Someone dare me to get naked!”

I roll my eyes.  “Cristoff, you will get naked without being dared.  Will you keep your clothes on for once?”

He laughs.  “Have I told you about the Summer of Nakeddity?” he asks.

“Yes,” I reply.  “You were naked for a solid 3 months.  A friend convinced you to put on a shirt to go the car show, but you stayed inside your vehicle.  People would walk up to talk to you, and when they got close, they’d notice that you weren’t wearing pants!”

“Yep,” he says proudly.

“Tell everyone how you encouraged your virgin girlfriend to become more comfy with her body,” I say, encouraging him.  I’d heard the story a hundred times, but some of my friends hadn’t heard it at all.

“Tatiana was shy, and didn’t think that she was pretty, even though—look at her!  She’s drop dead gorgeous!” Cristoff says.  “So I took her to the local strip club, where she got a job dancing.  Really helped increase her confidence.  Plus, I got to sit in the audience, drinking beer on her dime, telling everyone that the gorgeous woman up on stage was mine!” He smiles proudly.

Tatiana blushes a little and looks down.  If she is less shy now, I wonder how shy she used to be!

We get back to the game of truth or dare, and sure enough, Cristoff ends up naked.

As for the rest, well, what happens at the luau, stays at the luau.  You shoulda been there!


This has been a flashback to Y2K (July 2000) in honor of my birthday month.  I’ll be sharing more stories and pictures throughout the month.  Come back next Monday for the next installment. 




Shy Guy, Part II


“Happy Valentine’s Day!” I say to Samuel after he opens the door, and I hand him a gift bag.

Gala Pear and I had gone back and forth over the contents of that bag.  What do you buy for a guy that you’ve only been out with twice?  I mean, he had bought me flowers, which were appropriate, but it would have been weird for me to turn around and buy some for him.  Jewelry was too much of an investment too soon.  Lingerie would have been jumping the gun, since we’d barely kissed.  So I settled for a small stuffed animal and a hand-made card, which was a little cheesy, but Hallmark just doesn’t have a card section for, “We just started dating, so I need something that isn’t too mushy, but which doesn’t say that we’re Just Friends.”

Samuel lets me hug him and then points at the bag, saying, “Now?”

“Yes,” I say in response to my man-of-few-words.

He pulls out the stuffed animal and gives me a look.

What do I say?  Do I explain how Gala and I agonized over what to get him?  Instead, I say, “I thought it was cute.  If you don’t like it, one of your daughters might.”

He nods and puts the stuffed animal and card on his desk, a built-in just to the left of the door.  Then he turns back to the kitchen.

“What’s for dinner?” I ask, genuinely curious.

“Since you nixed the garlic shrimp pasta—which is my specialty—I went online and found how to modify the recipe to make it gluten free,” Samuel says.

Two things hit me at once, “You were serious about that?  I thought you were making a joke,” and, “Thank you, that was very thoughtful of you to accommodate my food allergies.”

He handed up gluten free angel-hair pasta and started shelling the shrimp.

“Can I help?  What would you like me to do?” I ask.

He shrugs.

“I can open the wine,” I say, because that’s my fav part of making dinner.   After that, I slice lemons, help cook the shrimp, and even help wash dishes while the mean is cooking.

When we sit down to eat, I ask him, “So, you live here with your sister?”

He nods.  “My brother is going to move into this apartment complex soon.  He’s just waiting for an apartment to open up.”

“Oh, how old is your brother?  What does he do?” I ask.

With a smirk, Samuel answers, “He’s the same age as me—we’re twins.”

Shocked, I think, I would have mentioned that sooner.  But then, I’ve dated a twin before.  “Identical?” I ask.  “I’ve known fraternal twins before, a woman and her brother, who looked nothing alike.”

“Identical,” he confirms.

It’s weird to think of someone who looks like my date but is another person entirely.  “There’s a waiting list to get into this apartment complex?”  It was nice, but there were lots of apartments in the area, some nicer; I had a hard time believing there was a waiting list at any of them.

“He needs a 3 or 4 bedroom, because he and his wife have 4 kids,” Samuel explained.

“Wouldn’t they be better off renting a house?  I looked into apartments when I moved to Dallas from Austin, and the monthly rent payment is as much as a house payment,” I said.  “Plus, a house gives kids a backyard to play in and a street to ride bikes.”

He gave me a look, which I didn’t understand until he said, “Their credit isn’t good enough.”

Ah, ok, I hadn’t thought of that.  “Where do they live now?”

“They rent a house from my mom, across the street from her.  It used to be hers, but she married the guy across the street and moved in with him,” Samuel said matter-of-factly.

“Wait, run that by me again?  Your mom married the neighbor and moved in with him, so now your brother rents her house?” I ask.

Samuel nods.

“That reminds me a little of my family.  My grandmother bought the land next door to her daughter, my Aunt Nan.  Years later, Aunt Nan moved and her son and his wife moved into the house.  He used to have coffee with his grandma every morning, unless he was out of town on the oil rig where he worked.  My toothless redneck uncles liked to hang out at Grandma’s house, too, where they’d sit on the back porch and smoke, sitting in the rocking chairs.  So they noticed when a little red pickup truck would show up next door, when the man of the house was out of town.  That’s how my cousin’s wife got caught cheating,” I tell him.

Samuel gave me an incredulous look.

“Oh wait!  There’s more!!  My cousin took his wife back, and she cheated AGAIN, getting caught the same way.  So my cousin said, ‘I’m not only going to divorce you, but I’ll show you that we’re not getting back together,’ and he went and married someone else.  His ex-wife, not be outdone, said, ‘Two can play that game!’  She tracked down the ex-husband of my cousin’s new wife, and married him,” I say.

Samuel just stared.

“AND THEN,” I continue, “The ex-wife and her new husband move in down the street from my cousin and grandma.  There are five kids between the two couples, so they can spend the night at either house and still catch the bus at the same bus stop in the morning.”

He shakes his head.

After dinner, we continued to drink wine, and he busts out the ultimate Valentine’s Day activity: Wii.  He shows me how to play Wii tennis and Wii bowling, and I’m terrible at it.

Laughing, I say, “I’m terrible at sports when I’m sober, but now I’m drunk and it’s late and I’m just terrible at this!”

“What?!  This is easy!” he says, using his controller to show me how it’s done.  “The kids love this game!”

I laugh some more, and think about going home.  Only, somehow it got very very late, and I was very very drunk, so I really shouldn’t drive.  As I half-sat, half-lay on the couch puzzling out what to do, Samuel plopped down next to me and said, “Don’t go.”

Then we had our first kiss.  And another.  And…I didn’t go home until much later, when the sun had started to rise.


This throwback to 2013 is part of a new series of Dates That Went Well, which is part of my campaign against cynicism.  I’m a hopeless romantic, and choose to stay one.  Check back next Monday for the next installment.

Cheers!  Happy Independence Day!


PS If you want to know more of Samuel’s story, check out Norms, Quelf, and Romantic Vacation.