Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Last week a fellow Stepford Wife and I were IMing about a juicy little piece of Stepford gossip. Once I was finished describing to her what I believed to be the sad, sorted details, she responded with one word: “Karma.”

I said, “Do you believe in Karma?”

She said, “Yes, when it happens to other people.”

I said, “So, if it’s happening to you, it’s just random bad shit with no explanation?”

She said, “Exactly.”

Since this conversation I’ve been thinking a lot about Karma. I probably don’t believe in it in the true, pure definition of Karma. I do, however, operate my life under a loose set of rules centered on the notion that if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, my life goes along pretty well—for the most part. I also believe that if I get off track, I get subtle messages—like the kids will be whiny if I’m not spending enough time with them, if I’m over-scheduled I’m sure to forget an important meeting—things like that. I understand that if I ignore these subtle messages, I do so at my own peril. As sure as the day is long, if I ignore the small messages a larger, harsher one is surely headed my way. I try to pay attention.

And like my friend, I can of course spot Karma in other people’s lives much more quickly and accurately than in my own. My mother used to tell me when I was a child, “What goes around comes around.” I always understood this was a doubled edged sword. I mean, great, if what’s coming around is coming for someone else—but bummer if it was coming around for me. And then there were always that handful of people who I witnessed behaving so badly that I would wonder, Where’s the Karma for them?

Well, today I received an answer regarding one of those people who, it seemed to me, has always been able to dodge Karma—Ann Coulter. MSNBC, as well as the blogosphere, are reporting that Ms. Coulter has suffered a broken jaw in a fall down some stairs. They are further reporting that the broken jaw has had to be wired shut. Now, I have absolutely no way of knowing if this event in Ms. Coulter’s life is Karma. I will say, I’m awfully suspicious.

Body Snatchers

My whole life I knew that I would settle in the suburbs. Apart from a small and grossly underdeveloped fantasy about New York City, a place I’ve never been, I never even considered another destination after college. My college sweetheart and I lived in two different apartments during the first three years of our marriage. Each of these apartments were located in the no man’s land that is the far north edge of the city. They were close enough to see the suburbs and far enough away from anything that could be considered the eclectic life of the city proper.

At the age of twenty-four, I bought my first house in Stepford. It wasn’t really Stepford at the time. Stepford grew up around me in the intervening seventeen years. I did realize that I was buying my little piece of the American dream in an up and coming suburb—translation: my starter home was going to be a very good investment. And it was.

The reason I wanted to live in the suburbs was very simple. I naively believed that normal people lived in the suburbs and I wanted a very conventional, normal life. Ah, the misguided dreams of youth. I grew up in rural East Texas, which I un-affectionately refer to as Redneckville. My dad calls it the “Mental Illness Capital of the World” and I do not disagree—Redneckville is just more compact.

Redneckville was messy. Very messy. Redneckville was a small town and everyone had their role that they played in our town’s melodrama—the successful attorney who cheated on his pretty young wife; the workers from the nearby lignite plant who were functioning alcoholics; the waitresses at the local diner who were in desperate need of a dentist; the Deacons from the First Baptist Church and their uptight wives who all lived in the nicest neighborhood in town; the black population that all lived in the part of town where white people never went—you get the idea. I have theory that the same exact people live in each small town in East Texas. I believe the melodrama of to be exactly the same, with just the names of the actors being changed.

I escaped Redneckville a few times a year to visit my dad in the suburbs. Because I was just a visitor, never staying longer than a week or ten days at a time, I came away with the fallacious perception that the suburbs were as normal as they looked. I couldn’t know until later that just because they were wrapped in a prepossessing package, what lied beneath the surface could be every bit as disquieting as Redneckville.

There are lots of things about Stepford that are disturbing to me. One of the most troublesome is that Stepford seems to have been sanitized of all things unpleasant. Yes, I am well aware of the irony that I left Redneckville because it was messy and now I’m equally as upset about Stepford’s profoundly ordered society. Except that it’s not exactly devoid of unpleasantness; it just appears that way. In Stepford, it is the pretty young Stepford Wife who is cheating on her successful attorney husband; it’s the PTA moms who are the functioning alcoholics (I believe more wine is consumed at play dates than at the local wine bar); and no one is in need of dental care unless you count being a couple days late for your latest teeth-whitening treatment. No one seems to age in Stepford thanks to breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and Botox. And in Stepford, if you die, you disappear. I’m serious about this—your dead body seems to vanish into thin air. This makes me crazy.

I’m old enough that I’ve known a half dozen people who have died since I’ve lived in Stepford. I have yet to see any of them dead. I’ve actually not ever even been to a funeral. Stepford has sanitized death by a) removing dead bodies to some unknown location, and b) replacing funerals with something called a “Celebration of Life.” This is not what I want to happen when I die. I’ve given my friends and my minister to following list of instructions that are to be followed, to the letter, upon my death.

1. My body is to embalmed and put on display.
My friends, coworkers, and the nosey Stepford Wives who didn’t care for me while I was alive are to be given the opportunity to see me dead. I want my observers to lament to each other how good I look, that whoever fixed my hair got it all wrong, and speculate that it was my mother-in-law who chose my color of lipstick. I want people to touch me so that they know that an embalmed, dead body is hard and cold. I want them to be able to say goodbye.

2. I want people to cry and be sad that I am dead.
I do not want the program at my funeral to say “A Celebration of” anything. No, my funeral is to be a sad occasion. I am dead. You will never see me again. Cry, blow your nose, sob, and if you faint in the aisle on the way to my open casket, I’ll cheer you from heaven. If you really, really, loved me, kiss my body goodbye, then wail loudly without restraint when the casket is closed for the last time. Afterwards, go home and crawl in the bed for the rest of the day. Grieve for me. Under no circumstances are there to be balloons in my favorite color released outside the church. This is for weddings, not funerals.

3. I want a graveside service.
I want people to drive in a long line of cars with their headlights on, behind the hearse carrying my body. If cars in the opposite direction do not pull over to the side of the road as a show of respect, you have my permission to flip them off. If it is cold and rainy, you are not excused from huddling under umbrellas around my casket prior to it being lowered into the ground. Before you leave, take a flower from my over-priced casket-spray, press it between two pieces of wax paper, and then press it in the pages of your Bible near a verse that I liked.

4. I will not spend eternity in a thong.
If you are close enough to me that you are consulted regarding what my body is to be dressed in for all eternity, here are the rules. No thong. I do not care how much you love your thongs. I am not a thong lover. Put me in my old, stained, comfortable big girl panties and move on to what people will see at the funeral home. I also do not want shoes on my feet—warm socks, no shoes. If you can convince my husband and kids to put me in the sweats I sleep in each night, I’m good with that. Otherwise, choose the most comfortable regular clothes you can find in my closet. I do not want to be dressed as if I am going to the office. I’m dead. I should not ever have to wear work clothes again.

5. Sad songs are required.
I want “Amazing Grace” with all its verses sung at my funeral. I wanted this sung at my wedding, but was deprived of the opportunity by my mother. I also want “The Old Rugged Cross,” “Asleep in Jesus,” and Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” played for me. I know they’re sad songs, and that’s the point.

Death is messy, permanent, and you don’t get a second chance to properly say goodbye to those you’ve lost. Embrace the grief, let it wash over you, and then eventually past you. Even in Stepford, people die. It’s okay.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Skunk Dog in Stepford

One of the funniest things I have ever heard happened in Stepford this week—and let me assure you that is saying something. In an effort of full disclosure, I was not an eye witness to these events. My knowledge of these events comes from a fellow Stepford wife through her email, voicemail, and telephone recounting of what actually happened. However, I do know this Stepford wife extremely well, so I am going to attempt to do this story justice. And before we go any further, I want to reassure all you dog lovers out there that the dog in question is perfectly fine … now.

If you’ve read much of my writing, you know that I happen to own the absolute best, most adorable, lovable, loyal, sweet dog on the planet. You also know that I believe it is no coincidence that this dog is a yellow dog. I believe my dog’s color to be of importance and most appropriate because I have been known to describe myself, on occasion, as a Yellow Dog Democrat. I’ve owned my yellow dog for just short of two years. Prior to that, I was not a dog person. I didn’t dislike dogs, but I just really didn’t get it. I would have probably lived the rest of my life without a dog, if it had not been for my kids.

However, after my daughter dug a doodle bug (that’s what we Texans call a roly poly) out of our flower bed for her preschool’s Pet Day, the guilt became too much. Actually, that’s not exactly true. Had the doodle bug made it to Pet Day, I would have probably not acquiesced on the dog issue. However, somewhere between my house and the preschool, my daughter dropped the doodle bug onto the fast-food littered floor of my minivan and, tragically, he was lost forever. My daughter took this opportunity to point out, through her angry sobs, that had we owned a dog it would have been impossible for her to have lost him in the van on the way to Pet Day. You can’t really argue with that logic—alas, we obtained the wonderful Yellow Dog.

Prior to obtaining Yellow Dog, there was one other dog in my life. Tanner is owned by a friend of mine and Tanner has always had a fetish for the lavender lotion I use on my legs. Tanner seriously must love the way this lotion tastes, because whenever I visit he does his best to lick as much of it off my legs as I will allow. Now, you have to absolutely adore anything that genuinely loves the way you smell and taste, so before Yellow Dog, I had a thing for Tanner.

My friend, her family, and Tanner live in the quintessential Stepford neighborhood—Stepfordwood. You know you’ve finally made it as a Stepford wife when you obtain real estate in Stepfordwood. I’m consistently threatening to never visit her home again because of the irritating and ever present security guards posted at the gate to the entrance of Stepfordwood. I mean, seriously, what in the hell is the point of gating a neighborhood in Stepford? Who could they possibly be trying to keep out? Less rich people? I suspect it’s Democrats, but I have no proof of this since I’ve never been asked my party affiliation at the gate and my Obama sticker-laden SUV has been allowed to pass through. I was in Stepfordwood the week before the election and I lamented to my friend, “It looks like the McCain/Palin campaign threw up in here. Who are these people trying to influence? Anyone who is not voting for McCain isn’t allowed to live here.” That’s not exactly true; my friend is a secret Obama girl. Her yard had no sign at all.

Okay, so you get that if a house is located in Stepfordwood, that it is nice—very, very nice. We’re talking fifty-two hundred square feet of wrought iron light fixtures, hand-scraped hardwood floors, hand-troweled walls, custom-painted crown molding, stainless steel appliances, rock pitch granite countertops, a mudroom, and master closest larger than some apartments, and a master bathtub that I know from experience can comfortably fit four six-year-old girls with plenty of space left over.

The master bedroom in my friend’s house has what I call a pool door. It’s a door that leads to the backyard, so that if you are coming in from the pool to your bedroom, you don’t drip water all over the expensive hardwoods. At night, the pool door becomes the Tanner door. Around midnight, night before last, after my friend had taken out her contacts—thereby making her legally blind—Tanner needed to go out.

She let Tanner out the pool door and left it open a crack so he could come back in at his leisure (even pets in Stepford live the good life). Well, when Tanner came back through the door, he launched himself into the middle of my friend’s king sized bed and began rubbing his face frantically into her new comforter. Before my friend could even register what was happening, it hit her—skunk smell. Yep, poor Tanner had apparently sniffed the south end of a skunk and the skunk showed its appreciation for this boundary violation by spraying him in the face.

Now, I don’t know a lot about dogs and I know even less about skunks. But, this week my friend and I both learned that if a dog gets sprayed in the eyes by a skunk, they go temporarily blind. So let’s review what we’ve got here—one Stepford wife, legally blind for lack of her contacts, dressed in a nightie (I added that to my long list entitled “why I don’t wear nighties”), in her Stepforwood mini-mansion, holding a blind, skunk-smelling dog while screaming at her husband “Oh my God, he’s blind, he’s blind!” Wait, wait, wait ... I’m not even to the best part.

Through a series of frantic middle-of-the-night phone calls to my friend’s aunt, the dog expert, it was ascertained that Tanner needed to be bathed in tomato juice. Now, my friend does not cook, unless you count heating up bagel bites in the microwave, so her husband had to get dressed, get in the car, go to the grocery store, and procure the much-needed tomato juice while my friend found her glasses. After the husband arrived home with said tomato juice, my friend made her second fatal error of the evening. This really wasn’t completely her fault. Her dog expert aunt had left out a little teeny, tiny detail regarding the tomato juice bath—but we’ll get to that in just second.

My friend proceeds to deposit Tanner into her luxuriously large master bath tub. She then takes the recently purchased tomato juice and pours it all over Tanner while attempting to massage it in. Now, if you know anything about dogs, you can see in your mind’s eye what happens next. Yes, the little detail Auntie left out was that the tomato juice bath should have been performed outdoors. Because Tanner did what dogs do, he shook like holy hell and sprayed my friend, her glasses, her nightie, and ninety percent of the custom-painted, marble-clad bathroom with minuscule droplets of tomato juice. Her maid, most likely, will begin speaking to her again sometime around the end of Obama’s first term.

The upside to this story? Surprisingly, none of my friend’s Stepfordwood neighbors called the police. I can assure you had Stepford’s finest happened upon the scene in my friend’s master bath, it would have taken them hours to figure out that what they were seeing was not produced by a double-barreled shotgun.

And who said the suburbs were boring?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holy Hell: Palin's Book Deal

Can someone pleeeease tell me what kind of a world we live in where a woman who cannot form a cohesive sentence is getting a $7 million dollar book deal? Honestly, who is going to write the abomination? Is seems logical enough to me that in order to command a book deal at all, much less one that is as lucrative as this, there are certain faculties an author should be required to possess, such as:

1. A command of the English language.

2. Not only that the author can read, but that, in fact, she does read.

3. And what about the book tour? Shouldn’t an author be required to posses the capability to speak intelligently while promoting a $7 million dollar book?

I am outraged. Was it not enough of an insult to thinking, educated, and intelligent people everywhere that this woman was even put on the Republican ticket? Now, the train wreck that was the McCain/Palin campaign is going to be documented in excruciating detail for all of perpetuity in a written form. This is absolute literary blasphemy of the highest degree. It is bad enough that I cannot turn on the television in my own home with out seeing her face and hearing her voice. Now she is about to intrude upon the sanctuary that is my local bookstore and library.

Oh, I know this is all about money. But is there nothing sacred left in the world at all? I have long list of questions compiled that I intend to pose to God when I get to heaven. Most of these questions center around my perception of the lack of justice in the world. I’ve just added another question to that list.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Awesomeness That is Sarah

I have had a long and winding parade of narcissists in my life. Their presence has actually been one of the themes of my existence. My mother was the first and continues to be the most maddening of the ever-present narcissists. After having suffered through the masochism that was a three-year stint on a therapist’s couch during my early thirties, I’ve come to accept that the narcissists in my life (other than my mother, which was the roulette wheel of biology, rather than psychology) are as attracted to me as I am to them. We are like magnets that are drawn together and not easily pulled apart. The narcissist needing to be complimented, pumped-up, promoted. I, always needing to self-deprecate because I’m all too uncomfortable with praise or recognition, always believing I somehow have not earned it.

I’m not a psychologist, but I do possess what I’ve come to think of as a working knowledge of narcissists. I’ve experienced a lot of different types … the mother who “won’t apologize for loving her children,” the best friend from high school who seduced my boyfriend just because she could, a boss from my early career who once asked why I would ever consider taking a promotion and leaving since “he took such good care of his baby.” The list goes on. I’m always on the lookout for narcissists because I understand I am attracted to them, that I enjoy standing in the light that they so often emanate, that I am comfortable doing so because it is a light for which I can easily take no credit. I understand this is not healthy for me.

I’ve struggled these last two months to get some perspective on my vexation over Sarah Palin. The obvious reasons brought no explanation or resolution. The obvious reasons are valid enough, but this is something way deeper … guttural, in fact. I have referred to the “awesomeness that is Sarah” in a few of my writings about her. I have used this phrase to describe how I perceive she feels about herself. This morning while thinking about my use of this phrase to describe Palin, a dawning realization occurred. I believe Sarah Palin to be a narcissist.
Palin is not an exact type of narcissist of which I’ve ever become entangled. She is not the type that I would be overly attracted to if I knew her in person. All of her talk about “God making a way” and “showing her open doors” would be red flags enough to keep me from getting too close. However, I do believe all the signs are there. And for this reason, I believe her to be very, very dangerous indeed. I told my husband a few weeks ago that I thought Palin had the potential to be the most dangerous politician of our generation. When he pressed me for why I believed this, my response was less than articulate … more of something that I just knew rather than could explain. Being a lover of words, I hate it when that happens. But alas, the word came … narcissist.

Narcissism is an actual personality disorder. It has definable and observable characteristics. The following is a list of those characteristics from the Web site The Web site indicates that a person suffers from narcissism if they exhibit at least five of the following characteristics:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Foreign policy experience equals I can see Russia from my house?

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
$150,000 shopping spree?

3. Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
Believes “God will show her an open door” to run for the Presidency?

4. Requires excessive admiration.
Continues to give exclusive interviews with the press a week after the election has concluded?

5. Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment, or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
Expects the press to not ask hard questions and is offended when they do?

6. Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
Troopergate? Abused of her power as Governor?

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
Expected to make a speech prior to McCain’s concession speech—on the night that was perhaps the most painful of John McCain’s political career?

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
Believes people from inside her own campaign that are now criticizing her are doing so because they are jealous?

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Raises the Bill Ayers issue during the campaign without the consent or prior knowledge of John McCain?

Does Palin truly suffer from narcissism? I think if we watch very closely, we will soon find out. And if she indeed suffers from narcissism, we must be very wary. Narcissists in any position of power are very dangerous because their sense of entitlement and of being ordained knows no limits.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ten Things Smart Women Can Learn From Sarah Palin

Yesterday, Sarah Palin boarded a plane that took her home to Alaska. It’s what I had hoped for, dreamed about, and was all too afraid would not happen. However, now that she has left the lower forty-eight, I don’t feel all that satisfied about it. I do have a great deal of satisfaction and pride about the outcome of the election. I have great hope and enthusiasm about Barack Obama’s pending Presidency. However, Palin continues to nag at me.

Part of this feeling comes from the certainty that we have not seen the last of her. My money is on her somehow ending up in Ted Stevens’ U.S. Senate seat. I can see the comparison now of Palin launching a Presidential bid with exactly the same amount of U.S. Senate experience as Obama had when he launched his successful bid. The other thing continuing to nag at me about Palin are the many lessons she left for smart working women during her sixty-eight days on the National stage. Here are the top ten things concerning Palin that I will be teaching my daughter:

1. Know your limitations.
Seriously. I can write, I cannot sing. So, I write and I don’t sing. If my daughter wants to be a singer, I’ll check out her singing voice prior to driving her down to the American Idol auditions and letting Simon Cowell crush her spirit on National Television.

2. Appearance matters, but you can achieve it on a lot less than the price of a single family home.
It is important to look your best, but you do not need to spend a fortune to do so. A lot of my professional clothing actually comes from Target. Anything else I own was bought on sale. I will occasionally splurge on a pair of expensive jeans, because, well, cheap jeans don’t make my ass look as good as the expensive ones. However, this is the exception, not the rule.

3. Enunciate, enunciate, enunciate.
The first semester of my freshman year in college, I was fresh out of small town East Texas when I landed in a Speech Communications class. The very first feedback I received went something like, “You have the potential to communicate effectively, but you will have to lose the accent first. No one will ever take you seriously if you continue to enunciate your words as if you were unintelligent.” I immediately dropped all “y’alls” and “dangs” from my vocabulary and began paying attention to how I formed words before they left my mouth. It is one of the most valuable lessons I learned in college. Why Palin was unable to pick up on this when her major was Journalism is an enormous mystery to me. We have a rule in my house that goes like this “Thou shalt not speak like a Redneck.”

4. Your children are not accessories.
If you are a mother, be a good mother. If you are a good one, no one ever needs to see you doing it. They will just know.

5. There is no substitute for an education.
Hard work can get you a long way and without hard work, you probably won’t get far. However, an education teaches you about the world at large. This is not something that you can obtain from on-the-job training. My biggest fear is that Palin will return to Alaska and actually attend a university for the next four years.

6. Confidence is a good thing, but over-confidence can be deadly.
Think about when you first learned to drive a car. You had to have enough confidence not to get run over by other drivers. However, it would be a very bad thing to get in the car and pretend to be Dale Earnhardt, Jr. There is a big difference between being confident in your abilities and over-confident in abilities you do not possess.

7. If you want to be taken seriously, drop the giggle.
C’mon girls. We know this, right? Men may like it because it signals something to them about your intentions, but if this is not the message you’re trying to send to the President of France, don’t do it.

8. Work to find your own voice so as to no end up as a caricature of who you’re trying to be.
Authenticity takes time and a certain maturity.

9. There is a middle ground between Caribou Barbie and a snarling Pit Bull.
Everything in moderation.

10. Hurtful words matter.
And, in my experience, hurtful words are the ones you typically end up having to eat. Speak thoughtfully.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Letter to My Stepford Children

To my beautiful children,

I know we’ve talked a lot about what today will mean in the context of our lives, your future, and the future of your children. I’ve tried to impress upon you that today you will be a witness to history. I want to put my very personal feelings about this day in writing so that when you are adults you can look back and better understand, through grown up eyes, your mother’s intensity about this day.

I know at the ages of eight and eleven, it is still hard for you to comprehend that I lived a very long time before you were here … thirty years, in fact. Those thirty years to me are like an old black and white film, my life not turning to color until I became your mother. And now that I am your mother, I love you more than any heart has a right to love. The two of you, each unique and yet so similar, are indeed the very air I breathe. Every beat of my heart is for you.

What you really need to understand started long before I was born. Your grandpa who picks you up from school each day, guides you through your homework, and plays video games with you was born in 1945 on a small farm in East Texas. You have no reference point in your lives for how poor Grandpa’s family was. Your grandpa went to work in the fields on the family farm when he was just six years old. He grew up in a two-room shack that had no running water, insulation, central heating or air conditioning, or a toilet. These conditions had not changed when he left the farm against his father’s wishes in 1965 to go to Jr. College. Your grandpa worked and went to college part-time all through the 1970s and 1980s while I was growing up. He finally obtained his Bachelor’s degree in 1988 and five years later he obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. He is one dissertation short of a PhD. You, my precious children, are but two generations away from abject poverty. Your grandpa’s drive for an education changed not only his life, but mine and therefore yours.

I’ve chosen to raise you in Stepford because I want you to live in a safe neighborhood and have the best public education I can provide. I want you to live in a nice home and have nice things. I’ve brought you up in a church because I want you to have an extended church family to love and care for you spiritually. However, I need you to understand that these things are blessings that have been bestowed upon you, not because you have earned them, but because of the sacrifices of those who lived before you. You are not entitled to any of your blessings. Everything you have has all been given freely out of love. You each have bright, limitless futures ahead of you, you much choose to make the most of them.

With any blessing, comes responsibility. Your blessings are great and, therefore, your responsibilities are as well. You must never forget that there are those less fortunate than you. You must always lend a helping hand where you can, sacrifice for the greater good, stay informed and engaged with the world at large, and set an example for others to follow. You must constantly monitor those who have been elected to lead our Nation. If you feel our Nation has drifted off course, you must speak up and say so. You each have a voice inside you. Work very hard to find it, listen to it and act upon it.

Today we elect a new leader for our Country. You came with your dad and me ten days ago and watched as we cast our votes for the first person of color to ever be nominated on a major party ticket. This morning you watched Barack and Michelle Obama as they cast their ballots live on television. I believe it is not the fact that Barack Obama is black that is of importance today. But rather the fact that we have been privileged enough to watch a man transcend his race while so many expected him to fail. He has done all that I have asked of you in the paragraphs above. When you remember this day, I pray you remember a man who lived up to the responsibilities of his blessings and then changed the world. I expect nothing less of each of you in whatever way, large or small, you are able.

I Love You Always,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or Treat? Stepford Style

Halloween in Stepford was, um, let’s say … interesting. My husband seriously “frowned” upon my planned Sarah Palin costume. I mean seriously frowned. I haven’t been happily married for over twenty years because I make a habit of doing things he seriously frowns upon. I’ve drawn the line a few times, but he’s a pretty reasonable guy so I acquiesced ... within reason.

My husband called from the car to tell me he was twenty minutes out just as my daughter—the Devil—and I were leaving the house. I told him “no worries,” that we would still be only a few houses down when he arrived, because I knew we’d spend at least some time chatting with the neighbors who had gathered out in front of their homes at the end of our street. Since my Palin costume was vetoed, I decided I would go as an understated Yellow Dog Democrat. I wore my new chocolate brown Obama ’08 t-shirt, my husband’s favorite jeans that might, truth be told, be a half size too small, and of course, I put our beautiful yellow lab on his leash to take him with us.

We stopped at our next-door neighbor’s house first. I like these people. They are kind and friendly and sweet to my kids. I view them as “Good Republicans.” I stopped to speak to the man while the Devil skipped up the sidewalk to get candy from the wife. The man says, very kindly, “Well, I had been wondering if you were the one who took your Obama sign down because you had come to your senses, but I can see that may not be the case.” I laughed and said, “No, my Obama sign was taken from me and I am, indeed, still an Obama girl.” He laughed and we moved on. Just as we were crossing the street, my husband’s mid-life convertible sports car pulled up in front of our house. Our eyes met and he gave me his “Seriously?” look. I beamed. He smiled a bit, in spite of himself.

Things were going well when two streets and fifteen minutes later, who does the Devil spy with her little eyes, but Sarah Palin. Not my version of Palin either ... the “I seriously want to be Sarah Palin” version. The Stepford Wife version. The Devil, bless her little soul, ran right up to Sarah and said, “Sarah! Look at my mom!” My husband shot me a look that needed no words. I was to play nice for the Devil. Sometimes having kids is very damned inconvenient.

So Sarah looks at me and I can see it in her eyes—she thinks I’m not for real. How stupid can you be? I knew immediately she was not a Tina Fey version of Palin. So Sarah grabs her dad, who has a very expensive looking camera, and says “Hey dad, get a picture of me and the Obama supporter,” and when she says “Obama supporter,” she uses air quotes. Yes, air quotes. You know the very same air quotes McCain used in the third debate when he mocked the health of the mother when discussing a woman’s right to choose?

At this point, I’m just trying to breathe. Sarah bounces over to me and purposely places herself on my right side while saying something to the effect of “I’ll let you stand on the left.” Sarah’s dad says, “Smile! This may be in the paper tomorrow!” Sarah says, “Wait! Let’s hold up peace signs together in a show unity.” I said as quietly and seriously as I could, “I don’t think I can do that.” The camera flashed and Sarah looked at me and said, “You’re for real?” I said, avoiding my husband’s eyes “Yes. Are you?” She said in a cheerleady voice, “Yes! Vote McCain!” And off she bounced. Good Lord. Even in Stepford this was almost too much.

The Devil was highly amused by the whole exchange, so at least I had apparently done my motherly duty. However, my husband indicated that I had been subtly “rude.” I let him know that I had all but been assaulted by Sarah, and that under the circumstances, he should be at least relieved, if not happy with my behavior. I brooded over this for the next two streets. Pouted about it actually. Thought about throwing a full-blown temper tantrum about it once the Devil was tucked into bed. And then something happened that made it all okay. As we neared the end of our trick or treating route, we came upon a home with an Obama ’08 sign in the yard.

The Devil all but danced to the doorway to ring the bell while my husband, the dog, and I waited on the sidewalk. When the lady opened the door, the Devil yelled, “TRICK OR TREAT! YOUR OBAMA SIGN ROCKS!” The lady looked up from the Devil and saw me. She smiled, waved, and held up the peace sign. I returned the favor.

I think my little Devil rocks as well.

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