I've contributed to perhaps the best humor compilation I've ever read. Available now on Amazon!

My second chapbook, "The Second Book of Pearl: The Cats" is now available as either a paper chapbook or as a downloadable item. See below for the Pay Pal link or click on its cover just to the right of the newest blog post to download to your Kindle, iPad, or Nook. Just $3.99 for inspired tales of gin, gambling addiction and inter-feline betrayal.

My first chapbook, I Was Raised to be A Lert is in its third printing and is available both via the PayPal link below and on smashwords! Order one? Download one? It's all for you, baby!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Honey, That’s What the Panty is For

My mother worked for Haines for years. 

And as I’m sure you’re aware, nothing beats a great pair of L’Eggs.

I grew up with a plethora of free pantyhose.  Not that this mattered to me, of course.  Pantyhose?  Who wore those, anyway?  Well, I do.  Now.  But then?  You might as well have offered me unlimited prune juice.

My mother is the knower of all things hose-related.  How to put them on without twisting one leg into a tourniquet (the toe is the key), how to pull them up over the ribs to avoid waist-line-dig, how to wash them and clean your nails at the same time...

It is spring again, and we are sitting around the table.  The sliding glass door leading out to the deck is open.  Too early for bugs, too late for frostbite, the air comes into the room like a welcomed visitor, someone coming in with coffee cake or a funny friend.

My mother has given one of her nieces, a teenager several years older than me, several pair of nylons.  Surprisingly, she is happy about this.

“You know how to put these on correctly, right?”

Teresa nods.  “My mom told me.”

My mother nods, approving. 

Teresa looks thoughtful.  “Aunt Midge, can I ask you something?”

My mother looks at her, cocks her head to one side.  I’m listening.

Teresa blushes softly.  “Do you wear underwear under nylons?”

My mother smiles.  She loves these questions.  “They used to just be stockings, you know.  You had to wear garters to hold them up.  But now they’re pantyhose, have a cotton crotch and everything.  So no, you don’t have to wear underwear.  That’s what the panty in the hose is for.” 

Teresa looks both incredulous and embarrassed. 

My mother leans across the table, puts her hand over her niece’s.

“Honey,” she says, “you don’t want to wear too many layers down there.”  She leans back, satisfied with her answer.

She rises, heads toward the fridge for the cheese tray.  “Yep,” she says, over her shoulder.  “You gotta let that stuff breathe.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Medical Advice That Will Blow Your Mind

Pearl will be taking a break from writing for a while in an attempt to get her her head -- and maybe even her life! -- in order.  I will be around, of course (how could I leave you, especially in springtime?), and will assume that you are wishing her the best as she moves out of her home (June 8) and on with a new phase in her life.

She will stop referring to herself in the third person once the fog has lifted..

I come from a long line of people who believe that nothing says “cure-all” like a good bowel movement.

“Mom, I’ve got a headache.”

“Have you pooped?”

We’re full of home-y advice like that. Mustard plasters, vinegar on sun burns, baking soda on bee stings –

You may lose what respect you still have for me, but I’ve got a cousin who claims that his mother used to blow cigarette smoke into his ears to combat earache.

She claims to have learned it from her mother (my grandmother).

As someone who was privy to the fact that grandma would sneak a smoke in the bathroom, standing on the bathtub and blowing it out the fan to avoid detection from grandpa, I can’t help but wonder if this was her way of having a cigarette without having to hide it.

Why blow it out a window all alone in the bathroom when you can sit on the davenport and blow it – in a curative fashion, of course – in a kid’s ear?

I’m just surprised she didn’t have a use for the ashes.

Still, I wonder about the rhythms of the body, the things we think are good for us, the things we know are not.

Me, for example.

“You sound nervous,” Mary says.

“Nah,” I say. “I’ve just had to go to the bathroom for the last hour, hour and-a-half.”

She laughs, a pleasant sound that promises commiseration and, if you’re lucky, lemon bars later.

“I’m not kidding,” I say. “I keep thinking that I’m going to do just this one more thing…” I trail off, switch ears. “You’re lucky you’re at home.”

You can almost hear her shrug over the phone. “Meh,” she says. “The difference is that at home when you finally give in and run to the bathroom you can do that weird little dance all the way there without someone asking you if you’re gonna be okay.”

“I waited until mere moments before disaster a couple weeks ago and then got stopped just short of the bathroom by someone with a spreadsheet question. The roaring panic in my head should’ve been audible, but he didn’t appear to have heard it.”

“Where do you suppose that comes from,” Mary muses. “Were we not allowed breaks as children?”

“Perhaps I’m afraid I’ll miss something,” I suggest.

“Perhaps you need someone to blow smoke in your ear.”

I laugh. This is why I call her.

“Hey,” I say, warming to the subject, “If blowing smoke in the ear is good for earache, where are we gonna have to blow that smoke when I can’t tear myself away from my desk long enough to –”

“Hey,” she says, mock-stern. “We don’t talk like that.”

"No,"I say, smiling. "We don't."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cat for Hire; or Did You Hear the New Guy in Accounting Brought a Disemboweled Mouse for Lunch?

It's a tough economy out there, and nobody knows this more than Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys).

In case you’ve forgotten, Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys) is a small, symmetrically-striped puss, a cat I often find reaching a clever paw toward my dinner plate. At five pounds, Liza Bean is a bird/mouse/bug killer of the first water, the kind of cat that makes you think of cats "They're both attractive and efficient" and "Much bigger than she is and she'd have to be registered as a weapon".

Liza Bean is one of those neat, tidy cats, a cat who remembers when cats were gods and yet has come to terms with her fall in status.

Liza Bean's been on my computer lately. I can always tell when she has by the water bowl near the keyboard, the catnip laid out in neat little lines.

It appears that the cat is looking for a job.

I must say, her resume is impressive.

I've cut-and-pasted it here for your pleasure:

Liza Bean Bitey
PO Box 114
Minneapolis MN 55413
Contact: whyioughta2@gmail.com

Summary of Qualifications:

  • Drove a taxi in college -- highly familiar with area roads.
  • Worked as an unlicensed plumber from '04 to '05. Have been cleared of all charges related to the Margarita-hot-tub incident.
  • Short order cook in the late 90s. Ask me about my Potatoes a la Schultz!
  • Walk-on part of Cat #2 in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
  • Positively motivated cat with an affinity for playful poses, chasing things straight up a wall, and tugging at your earrings in the middle of the night.
  • Experienced in pest removal (up to and including unwanted guests, those of the bug persuasion, and irritating family members).
  • Excellent claw-eye coordination.
  • Dependable, flexible, and able to maintain a sense of humor under pressure.

I am looking forward to this new phase in her life.  She’s been “sleeping in” for all eight of her years, and she’s yet to offer to vacuum or lift the business end of a snow shovel.

It’s time she contributed.

After all, there's no call in adding things to the grocery list if you're not going to chip in for them. "The good shrimp" my Aunt Fanny!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

When You Start Going Through Things...

I’ve been putting things away for, I don’t know, a couple hundred years now.

Look.  When your place is the size of an ambitious postage stamp, and the only bathroom has been under construction since October, the other rooms tend to fill with boxes, with towels, with the surprising number of things that will find their eventual way into your new bathroom. 

The bathroom finished, I am now free to repopulate it with the many bottles, tubes, serums, nostrums, and detritus that were in the old bathroom.

An excellent time to organize, that’s what this is.  Hair stuff over here; over-the-counter medicines over here, bath products over here –

“That’s Amy’s towel, you know,” he says.

I look up from the patch of carpet I’ve called home for the last 45 minutes.  “What?”

“The pink one,” he says, pointing.  “That’s Amy’s.”

I frown at the towel.  Frankly, I’ve always been suspicious of this one.  In a sea of blues and brown, this one is a rosy pink.

I’ve been folding this bit of terrycloth for at least three years.

“Really?”  I continue to frown in that charming, wrinkled way I have.  “Why is it here?”

Willie scratches the back of his neck, shrugs.  “I have no idea why you guys do what you do,” he says. 

Willie has just lumped all women together in a vast, towel-swapping cabal.

I stare at him, then at the towel.  I try to envision a situation in which I told Amy “everybody’s bringing towels”.

We don’t have a pool.

Our parties are never “BYOT”.

Giving up, Willie wanders back to the Thunder Bay game.

I pick up the phone, fold Amy’s towel one last time. 

Laughingly, Amy tells me she has pink towels but can’t imagine why I would have one of them. 

I hang up, perplexed.

This is going to bug me for a while. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Veritable Well of Untapped Potential

You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but I was a straight-A student.

No, really! Spelling? No problem. Math? Yep. Science, philosophy, music? You bet.

And now -- well, so what? Spellcheck has relieved us of the need to spell it correctly in the first place. Calculators are on everything from phones to, well, calculators. Science comes in handy during Trivial Pursuit and while watching Cash Cab, philosophy makes me a thoughtful and open-minded drunk, and my music knowledge – well, again with the Trivial Pursuit.

I made a mistake in not going directly from high school to college.

And I made a mistake in learning to type.

This is probably going to blow your mind, so you may want to brace yourself against a large bit of furniture, but I type like the ever-lovin' wind.

Cool, huh?

No. Not really. Because once it’s been discovered that you’re good at something, suddenly, no matter where you are, if there's a need for a typist, no one else in the room can do it.

“Could you just do the typing? I type with two fingers. It’ll go so much faster if you do it.”

A number of years ago we had a college student, an intern, at work. Nice guy, probably 22 or so. He was young and unblemished and wore earnest business casual sweaters with khaki pants. We called him “Intern Boy” in our discussions of him over the lunch hour.

I wouldn’t say he and I were friends. But we were colleagues; and at work, that’s enough, don’t you think?

He stops by my desk one day.

“Hey,” he says.

I look up from the report I am furiously typing. Can I get a 25-page report typed and proofread in an hour? My boss seems to think so.

He places a pile of papers on my desk. “I’m going to need these faxed by the end of the day.”

I frown slightly. “You are, huh?”

His face takes on a cautious appearance.  “Um.”  Am I one of those saucy, quirky secretaries he's seen on prime time TV?   He isn’t sure.

I cock my head slightly and continue to look at him.

“I don’t know how to fax,” he says.

“It’s easy,” I say. “You see that machine over there? You put the papers, face-down, in the feed. Then you punch the fax number in on the keypad and press the big green button.”

He doesn't move.

Perhaps he hasn’t noticed that the fax machine tutorial is over.

"So voila,” I conclude. “Fish and chips.”

He smiles flirtatiously. “Oh, come on. I’ll just mess it up if I do it,” he says coyly. “I’m sure you do it better than I ever could.”

I think about the As, the gold stars. I think about the Pythagorean Theorem, my interest in Russian literature, about how great I had been on those Word Find puzzles in elementary school.

Whatever he had been studying the last four years, there had not been time spent on office equipment – or office etiquette.

I sigh.  “I support four of the people on this floor,” I say. “I’m sorry, but you’re not one of them. You’re going to have to learn to operate the fax machine for yourself.”

And I go back to typing.

Poor Intern Boy. He walks over to the fax machine, and I lose track of what he is doing. I hope he had taken that as simply and as directly as I had phrased it.

There is a large frosted cookie on my desk the next morning.

“Thanks for the Advice,” it says.

Good ol’ Intern Boy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Critics Rave: Paps, Pedis, and Pub Changes Everything!

Not to be indelicate, but the “yearly appointment” experience that many women dread could be improved upon.

We’re not looking at it properly, people! I mean, it’s a pretty cut-and-dried situation, isn’t it; and once the results are in, you either get a letter or a phone call, right? So why so serious?

And so in an effort to maximize the experience, Mary and I, in conjunction with Two White Chicks Cleaning, have a plan.

Sit down. Sip your water. Now clear your mind.

Paps, Pedis, and Pub.

Follow me now. We’re thinking you can leave your shirt on and slip into one of our tear-away flannel pants.

Go ahead – have a seat.

Please note that the chair is on wheels, the pedicure basins on either side of the chair. The temperature okay for you? There’s a pouch in the front: the questionnaire you filled out ahead of the appointment determines if you find chocolates, beef jerky, or chewing tobacco in there.

Of course there’ll be a package deal including all three: chocolates, beef jerky, and chewing tobacco; but I’m not prepared to give away the details of our Valentines Day package just yet.

So you know those drive-over, in-the-ground bays at the oil-change places? Well those figure into the process. As I said, the chair is on wheels, and like the oil-change technicians, that’s where we’ll be keeping the medical professionals: down in the bay. Oh, it’s all on the up-and-up. I mean, there are people in white coats, heat lamps... We can talk about the details, if you’re interested.

You’re offered a choice of musical selections and one of those hats that holds beverages (coffee, tea, water, select beers and wines). You also have the option of drinking out of a mug, as well, but what the heck. It’s a party, right?

Already, I’m excited. Think of the promotional drives: Bring in a friend and knock half off the cost of your next Pap and pedicure!

And does anyone else see the Speedy Reward Points possibilities?

For cryin’ out loud, man, the advertising campaign has fantastic potential!

Mary is working with the Small Business Administration on securing a loan as we speak. We can show you the business plan she’s working on, if you like.

The opportunities for success here are outrageous.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Do What You Can; or Breaking it Down to Its Most Manageable Bits

I have painted my nails a dark red.  Short nails at the end of fingers on a small hand, I stare at them.

The boiler in a rental unit has died.  The fascia and soffit on the garage has gone soft and splintered in the misguided rain.  A stained glass window is broken and must be replaced.

And I am getting a divorce.

In preparation of the upcoming move, I have been packing my life away. 

The house has never been cleaner.

I rise from the couch and head to the porch, where I put my earbuds in.  There is a man and a dog in the park across the street, and I watch as master hurls ball and loyal sidekick chases.

I light a cigarette.

When I finish, I go through all my books, wipe them off and separate them into “take” and “donate”. 

I am both impressed and horrified by the collection. 

Over the next three hours, I work.  One thing begets another: stacks of books are moved from the three-season porch, the shelves, from piles on the hardwood floor and then into boxes.  I break the vacuum down to the wand, suck up whorls of dusty clouds, then, dissatisfied, pull the bucket from under the kitchen sink and scrub on my hands and knees.  The house smells of PineSol.

Suddenly, I am tired. 

As if from a dream, I look down.  My nails are chipped; and in two cases, broken.  I have a shallow cut on the inside of an index finger.

And after a moment of staring, I go back to the couch, reach for the lotion, the clippers and the polish.

This, I can fix.