Category Archives: humor

Trying on Bathing Suits with your teen daughter – Hell Times 2

When my girls were young, I took to shop to shop at several clothing stores geared completely for kids and tweens, like Children’s Place or Justice. The clothes are relatively inexpensive in these places and they liked the styles they find there – all full of Peace signs and neon colors. A couple of years ago though, we finally reached the point with my older daughter when we had to jump to the Juniors section and it hurt!

The main reason for the pain was the moment of expected self-realization in every young girl’s life.
Think early springtime.  The bathing suits for summer  hit the stores with a vengeance.

Before, the suit was never a real issue. Whatever she chose, I usually went with it. She was healthy and fit. She was a kid. She didn’t like two pieces because she couldn’t dive in them. Great from the mom’s standpoint. She would try on two or three, they would fit fine. She didn’t seem to notice her own body inside the suit.

If it was small on her, I would hand her the larger size, no worries or complaints from her or me and everyone was happy. The only argument was usually about how many to buy. She, of course, had this idea that money was no object and she could walk out the door with all of the suits she liked.

But a couple of years ago, it was different. I thought we could get away with one more year in the kiddy clothing store. Yes, her hips had begun to look more like a woman and less like a girl. But bathing suit material stretches, doesn’t it? Maybe I was simply in denial. Maybe it was a sheer case of bad mothering.

She chose three suits, all technically in her size. She went into the dressing room, excited about the fun pattern on the suit and that’s when it hit her, like a crash of lightning right on her head. I heard a slight whimper from behind the dressing room curtain, then her slumping onto the little particle board seat glued to the side of the wall, like a half-mast shelf.

“I’m fa-at!” she cried with long, drawn out vowel-filled howl.

“Oh, honey, you are not fat!” I rushed in to comfort her. “These are kiddy suits. You’re growing up. That’s all.”

“But look! My stomach is poking out!”
“No, it’s the pattern on the suit across your tummy. It’s an optical illusion.”
“But I love this suit!! I’ll never find another one that I love as much as this one!”
“Sure you will. We have to go to the department store. We’ll find something better there. Something you can really swim in, that fits you better.”
“But I don’t like those styles!” she wailed, “They are not cute! And the light in here makes my skin look yellow!”
“It’s okay. We’ll try something else, sweetie. Let’s go to Target, down the street.”
There was a beat of silence as she stood and stared into the mirror.
She sighed dramatically, “My thighs look huge!”

Anyone who thinks starting your menstrual cycle is the official advancement into womanhood knows nothing about the true nature of the American Woman. If you think it’s about sudden attraction to the male gender – think again. That moment at Justice, when my daughter cursed the fashion industry, bad lighting of a dressing room, and her thighs, was the moment my eldest became a woman.

*Sniff* I’m so proud.

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How to say my name. . . the long version


See the accent above that ‘e’ up there? That is called a French “accent grave.”
My mother put that accent on my name during a fit of post-postpartum delirium. It’s supposed to make the “e” on the end of my name sound like “eh” as in the word “bed.” This is not to be confused with an “accent aigu,” which makes the “e” sound like “ayyy” as in something Fonzie used to say on Happy Days, or for those of you not of a certain age, like the sound in “day” and “say.”
That’s right. That little speck, that many people mistake for a piece of lint or some stray eyebrow hair, changes the pronunciation of my name from the two syllable “Gah-Reen” to the three syllable “Ga-ree-neh.” And nobody in the USA has ever heard of it. Oh, and don’t forget to roll the “r.”
People who see my name in print, then meet me later are in the worst name-pronunciation scenario because the accent is almost never printed on anything that officially refers to me. It’s not in my high school year book. It’s not on any of my by-lines. It’s not even on my passport. I finally figured out how to change it on my facebook account. Generally, Americans do not have the slightest idea what an accent grave is anyway, but at least if it was there, they’d ask the question.
As it is, pretty much everyone mispronounces my name.
I always feel like a snobby snob when I try to correct them. They get embarrassed and confused and I feel like a jerk for making them feel bad. Then, I feel the need to fill the stunned silence with my dissertation on French accent marks. Their eyes glaze over and it just spirals down from there. It’s like when you call a guy in the office “Chuck” and he looks down his nose at you and says in a James Bond accent, “No, it is Charles.”
The reason mom did this horrible thing to me is because my parents wanted to give me a traditional Armenian name. Makes sense – retain your heritage, proudly uphold the honor of your lost country, yadda yadda yadda. The problem? The Armenian language has its very own alphabet.
“eh” . . .?
Those 4th Century Armenians were a wily bunch and managed to create their own script up there in the isolated mountains. They were pretty impressed with themselves over it, too. The church even Sainted the guy who developed it, Saint Mesrop Mashtots. (I know, I know ‘mash tots??’ – those poor little tots! Make fun all you want, but this was a good 200 years before the English got it together in the alphabet department. So, think on that for a minute.) The whole alphabet is phonetic. The final sound of my name in actual Armenian script looks like the symbol at the right –>
All by itself, it means the word “is” or “to be” in Armenian. People wear this symbol as golden charms, stencil it onto t-shirts, and etch it into the sides of stone walls. It’s very esoteric.
So fast forward about a millennium, to my mother sitting in her hospital bed after I was born. She’s watching the television, doing the recuperation portion of child-bearing, when a hospital records administrator gives her my birth certificate to fill out. My parents decided what my name would be before I was born, of course. They were the plan-ahead sort. If I was a boy, Garen. If I was a girl, the feminine version of that, Garine. She stared at the name as it was written on the page in English. Other Armenians in the west already had established this spelling. She wondered how she was going to get American English speakers to say the all important “eh” on the end of my name.
OK, so are you with me so far? This is where it gets a little twisted.
It just so happened that at the moment my mother was filling out this birth certificate, the TV was blaring an afternoon matinee of the 1940 W.C. Fields movie called The Bank Dick. For those of you under the age of 85, W.C. Fields was one of the best comedic actors of his time. Most often, he played drunken ne’er-do-wells who hated kids and carried a cane. In this particular movie, his character frequented the Black Pussy Cat Café and was named Egbert Sousé. (Remember that accent? ‘Ayyy!’) Throughout the film, the joke is about this accent because his name isn’t souse, which of course, means a drunkard, it’s Sous- ayyyy, something refined and French sounding.
The recurring gag line is, “You see? It’s Sousé, with an accent grave!”
My mother, who knew french, thought, “Yes, Mr. Fields, that is it! An accent grave!” She wasn’t even looking at the TV screen at this point.
But here is the kicker. If you are astute, and I know you are, you may have noticed that Mr. Fields and his gag line were actually wrong! (refer to paragraph two up at the top) The accent on Sousé is NOT an accent grave, it’s an accent aigu. So, I got myaccent grave from the fact that my mother knew how wrong they were in a Hollywood comedy movie about a drunk guy at the Black Pussy Cat.
What’s more, my mother absolutely loved to tell this story.
Sure if you know me at all, you’ll see how the gist of this story is truly a grand metaphor for my general life force – a little cynical, a little silly, and, too often, a little bit off.
Meanwhile, my name is Garinè. . . and only French people can read it right. Too bad, I’m not French.
*  *  *
I know you are just dying to actually hear it said out loud, now that I’ve gone through this whole crazy explanation! Click here for that:

How to say Garinè

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Filed under Armenian, Armenian names, French, french accent marks, humor, name

Me and the Dog (repost)

Ok, now I get it.
Why all those single, 40-something guys have dogs. You are a god to your dog. You are Mick Jagger in 1965. You are a revelation whenever you walk into a room. It’s sick. . . and I love it!

My family campaigned for a bout 5 years for us to get a dog. I had the attitude handed down to me by my mother, who said, “Having a dog is like having a 2 yr old child who never learns anything. ” That’s right. You have to feed them, wash them and clean their poop for their whole lives.

Then, after 20 years, my independent, super cool cat, Strat, passed away. (Yes, her name was Strat, after my guitar – a black and white Fender Stratocaster). It was awful. I cried a lot. My husband, who railed against the cat for our entire marriage of 15 years, cried a lot. The cat had come with me in the marriage deal. Months went by and I saw how alone I was in the house when the kids were at school and my husband at work. I’d sit at my computer and do my work for my clients or the bills and suddenly realize – oh my God….I’m a-l-l A-L-O-N-E in this house. There is no other living being here but me!

It freaked me out.

So, finally, I agreed to get a dog. I listed the conditions to my family: 1. I would not have to ever pick up poop. They, collectively, would be doing that. 2. We would get a “rescue dog.” 3. We would get an ADULT dog – no puppies or adolescents with their baby needs. 4. Said dog would be between 30 and 40 pounds in size. No yappers and no large bear types.

Once I made the decision, it only took a few weeks for me to hone in on the right dog. She was a “child” of a divorce. A shepherd mutt with a heart of gold. Already house trained and almost 4 years old. She had good manners and was smart and basically well trained.

She came home with us a on a wednesday evening, riding the back of the van with three excited children who all called her name over and over for her to look at them. The excitement wore off soon enough, after the daily walks, feeding, and pooper-scooping. But the real doom for the kids was the growing admiration the dog was nurturing toward me.

I was home all day. I am the obvious person who brings the food. I was alpha dog!!! I had dreaded the concept. I couldn’t get my kids to pick up their underwear off the floor of their bedroom, how was I going to get a inarticulate beast to mind me??? I started watching Animal Planet and National Geographic shows – “the Dog Whisperer” and “It’s me or the dog” so that I would get it right and be in charge,

Well, it worked
Too well.

Now,after a couple months together and the dog adores me. She sleeps plastered up against my side of the bed and does not move until I get up in the morning. She sits right outside the bathroom door, when I need to leave her stranded in the hall for three minutes. She follows me from room to room in the house. She lies next to the front door when I leave and acts like it’s the second coming when I return – even when the rest of the family is still home with her. She sits when I say “sit.” She moves 6 feet away from me when I say, “out.” No wonder people love having a dog. You are their god.

But, I’m a cat person and this is the reason why — sometimes, I’d like to be alone. Having a cat was more like having a roommate. If you were there, great. If you were not there, great.

Now, I feel guilty when I have to go to the grocery store or the gym and leave her behind. She does that head cocked to one side confusion look and then the stereotypical sad puppy eyes. It kills me every time!

But, y’know what? I’m getting to love my dog. She’s a keeper. And maybe the I’ll get used feeling the burden of adoration. After all, things could be worse than being a rock star in your own house.

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