Little League, big laughs

© Artproem | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Artproem | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

My son finally graduated from T-Ball to Mini Minors Little League this season and I haven’t stopped laughing. As a mom, I don’t have a whole lot of ego invested in my son’s sports career. Most dads are another story.

My experience with dads who volunteer to coach is that they fall into a few major types: the “Super Dad,” who wants the kids to learn a little bit and have fun; the “Winning is the Only Thing Dad,” who feels he’s a failure if he doesn’t make everyone cry at least once; the “I Coulda Been a Contender Dad,” who plants all of his unrealized athletic ambitions onto his kid, and never takes him out of the game; “The Clueless Wonder Dad,” who thinks that he knows all about a sport despite all evidence to the contrary; and the “Dad on the Prowl,” who only picks the kids with the best-looking moms. My husband would never volunteer to coach, but if he did he would definitely fall into this last category, and wouldn’t even pick our own kid for his team.

Despite our child’s lackluster tryout performance, somehow we managed to get a “Super Dad” coach who lives and breathes baseball. Excellent. Maybe Koss–who has never actually seen an entire baseball game–can be the first one in our family to actually take to baseball. He certainly has the long, slow, sluggish pace of the sport down, especially when it’s time to go to school in the morning.

At our first practice we got the list of equipment. Pants, shirt, hat–check. Belt, socks, spittable snacks–check. Mitt, cleats, cup–check. Huh? Cup? A Dixie Cup or a Big Gulp?

When I bought it I felt like a teenage boy buying condoms–on my way toward the checkout stand I grabbed some freeze dried camping food and golf tees, just so that the Champro Youth Athletic Cup wouldn’t look so lonely in my basket.

Speaking of baskets, my next challenge was how to put the darn thing on. Did it go inside or outside of the underwear? Was it really supposed to be made of plastic? My husband was absolutely useless in this regard–apparently the Water Polo team didn’t wear cups either.

Koss tried it on.

“What if I have to go wee wee?” he asked. Wee wee? What kind of sissy expression is that? I may not have any brothers but I know enough to know that wee wee is for T-Ball players, baseball players have to take a piss.

“If you’re going to teach to say, ‘take a piss,'” argued my husband, “you should really go for it. Take a wicked rhinoceros piss.”

Koss ended up hating the cup and not wearing it. Apparently, none of the kids did. I heard that one of the boys wouldn’t wear it because it “made him look too big down there.” All of the dads laughed when they heard this–and none of the boys could ever find their cups again.

Cupless, we were ready for first game–except nobody told us they were 12 hours long. We spent five of those hours trying to decipher a sign that said, “Alcoholic Beverages or Softball Playing.” We were very close to choosing alcoholic beverages when someone pointed out the “No” that had faded from the top of the sign.

The 17th inning started off extra slowly–apparently because they were dressing my child in a Star Wars Stormtrooper outfit so he could play catcher. I guess a full body cup is better than nothing.

“What’s he doing?” I asked my husband, Zak, as the other parents started to giggle. Apparently when the coach told him to “get down behind home plate,” Koss took him literally and did just that. I was laughing too hard to yell to him to stand up. He played the entire inning on his knees, even chasing after balls. Does Knee-Ball come after T-Ball?

We really should take that kid to a Dodger game or something.

It was finally his turn to be up at bat. At the coach’s urging, he took a practice swing that actually looked pretty good. Then all of the sudden he started to do a little dance I recognized. “What’s he doing?” asked one of the moms. Oh dear. Koss dropped the bat and yelled to his coach, “I have to pee,” and ran to find the bathroom.

It brought down the house. Talk about comedic timing. It was my proudest sports moment to date.

“At least he could have said ‘like a rhinoceros,'” said his father, the “Coulda Been a Contender” comedian.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound

Everybody Loves Leslie

© Jiristastny | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Jiristastny | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

My Life as a Sitcom

Wine, chocolate, and naps are indispensable tools in my “how to deal with life” arsenal, but sometimes fantasy is the only narcotic that does the trick. As a kid I thought that life at the Brady house or singing “Hello World” with the Partridge Family looked a lot more fun than anything my family had to offer. At the very least, it seemed like my little sister should have been recast in the third season.

And now, I’ve had just about enough of this “Life with Leslie” reality show. I want to my life to be a sitcom, where no matter how monumental my problems, they can always be happily resolved in 23 minutes.

It would go something like this:

Monday: My long-lost identical twin, Lisa Dimebag, shows up at my door. It’s teacher conference week, which means I’ve only got an hour left before pick-up time to write an article, return seven phone calls, read 57 emails and watch yesterday’s Oprah. The phone rings and its my crotchety but loveable husband reminding me about baseball practice, which starts right in the middle of basketball practice.

Lisa accidentally deletes all of my emails, falls into the pool, and volunteers to drive carpool. Amusingly clumsy, but what a lifesaver. She’s so helpful and friendly; I’m going to love having a twin around.

That night, when I return a call from Kyle’s Dad at school he says something about “taking me up on my very interesting offer” in a way that makes me think my twin may be a little bit TOO friendly. I sit her down and explain, in a very older-sisterly way, that she can’t act too slutty when she’s pretending to be me. We hug. She leaves and we never hear from her or Kyle’s Dad again. My crotchety but loveable husband seems oddly depressed.

Tuesday: Koss and I enter the parent-child talent show at school. The kids all laugh at our attempt to dance like the stars. Koss can’t even do any of the lifts, even though they worked fine when we practiced by the pool.

I cry because I’m so embarrassed by my dancing. Koss tells me to “man up, mom.”

We win first place in the talent show for our beautiful singing act. We hug. Koss cries because he’s so happy. I tell him to “man up.”

Wednesday: We go on a disastrous field trip to the zoo, where the kids are treated to the unfortunate spectacle of two otters mating, and my crotchety husband makes jokes that are completely inappropriate for the eight o’clock hour. Driving back to school, I accidentally sideswipe a police car because I’m yelling at the kids to quit saying, “Why, I otter…”

When I show Officer Bud my insurance card, Koss realizes that I don’t actually have the $10 million insurance policy that the school requires to drive a bunch of seven year olds around (probably because I’ve spent all my money on dance lessons instead of real estate). Busted. My own son tells Officer Bud to arrest me.

Officer Bud, a parent himself, arrests my son instead. Koss learns an important lesson about speaking out of turn. We hug. I make him finish all of his prison dinner before I bail him out.

Thursday: I accidentally TIVO last week’s news and find out I picked all six Super Lotto Plus numbers a week late. I fantasize about what I’d do with my millions.

Dripping with diamonds, I swoop out of my limo and hire a private detective to track down my twin sister and Kyle’s Dad. I have him put Lisa Dimebag in deep freeze in case I ever need any of her body parts. My crotchety but loveable husband seems oddly happy.

I hang out at the country club and drink martinis while I pay other people to golf for me. My now-spoiled rotten son has a fit when I won’t let him buy the Miramar. He tells me I was a better mommy before we got rich. I realize he was right. We hug and we’re right back in our living room watching TV again. We didn’t win the lottery but it’s still a wonderful life and “A Christmas Carol” is on TV.

Friday: We sit at a little league game for an entire episode, with no commercial breaks and no alcohol allowed. My crotchety but loveable husband is extra crotchety.

Saturday: I get bonked on the head when a bottle of wine falls off the top of my refrigerator. I contract temporary amnesia and we run Tuesday’s episode again in fast motion. My dancing doesn’t improve, but I’m blown away by own singing voice. Hey, it’s my fantasy.

Sunday: Clip show — television-ese for “day of rest.”

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound

Pillow Talk: Confessions of a Naphomaniac

© F4f | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© F4f | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I am not looking forward to Sunday.

Sure, I’ll come to love the extra daylight that comes from “springing ahead.” And yes, sooner or later I will get used to waking up in the dark. But this Sunday morning I am guaranteed to be really really grumpy.

That first day of daylight savings time always ticks me off. The clock never stopped its tick tock, so where did that hour go? I never gave you permission to take it away from me. I want my hour back and I want it now.

Not that it makes it any easier on anyone who dares to cross my path, but I’m the first one to admit that I get cranky when the clocks change. You know that saying, “you snooze you lose?” When I lose an hour of sleep, I tend to get violent with my snooze button. You never know, if I slap it around enough, eventually maybe time will stand still. It hasn’t worked yet, but that doesn’t discourage me from trying again, year after year. I’m nothing if not determined when it comes to sleep. If I cared half as much about my writing career as I do about catching my zzz’s, I’d be famous by now.

And this year, thanks to a congressional calendar caffeine conspiracy, my computer is going to be crabby too. Did I mention I want my hour back? I think I’ve finally figured out a way to do it. Sunday is the day to set the clocks ahead, but Monday, bloody lovely Monday, is National Workplace Napping Day.

I kid you not.

This isn’t a Costanza tribute, but a real made-up holiday with its own website ( and everything. Conceived in 1999 by Camille and Bill Anthony (Can you believe we missed out on seven years of celebrations?) Workplace Napping Day–which occurs every year on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time kicks in–is our day to lie down and be counted.

Not only have the Anthonys written books on the subject (The Art of Napping and The Art of Napping at Work), they give napping seminars (Can’t you just picture the audience snoozing away without fear of recrimination?), and have even invented their own napping vocabulary. My personal favorites are “napkin,” a napper’s relatives; “snapper,” a person who nags at a napper; “constinaption,” napping irregularity; unable to nap for several days; and “naphomaniac,” a napper who overdoes a good thing.

I’ve long contended that naps are sometimes the only things that make life worth living. My favorite thing about pregnancy was being indisputably productive (“Hello, I’m growing a person here.”) while I was catching a few extra zzz’s. Now the research has finally come out to support my theory: adults who nap regularly have a 37 percent lower chance of dying from heart attacks or heart disease.

According to the Associated Press, “the workplace nap–once derided as the refuge of the worthless and weak–is being embraced like a soft pillow by American businesses”

I love that.

In the old days, when my boss caught me napping, I would say “amen” and claim I’d been praying, or sheepishly admit that I was channeling Albert Einstein, who napped frequently during the day to help him think more clearly. Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci were also known to nap regularly, I’d explain, so I’m not just yanking your chain when I say that napping is part of my creative process, boss. Besides, it’s a national holiday, you know. I, for one, will be celebrating on Monday. In fact, I’m feeling rather patriotic. I may just get a head start on celebrating Sunday afternoon.

OK contestants, what’s the zaniest place you’ve ever taken a nap? Let us know by emailing

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound

The Twinkie Defense

TwinkiesI’ve been thinking a lot about vitamins and Twinkies this week, and it’s not just because I’ve started on a new diet.

First there was the Women’s Literary Festival, where “chica-lit” author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez used a vitamin-filled Twinkie analogy to describe her books. Her brightly covered book jackets tease with titles like The Dirty Girls Social Club and Playing With Boys, evoking late night cable visions of Manolo Blahniks and Cosmopolitan-drinking single gals, but apparently there’s some actual nutrition to go along with the fictional junk food that she’s serving.

Then there was the Academy Awards, where Letters From Iwo Jima was nominated for best picture, even though I’m betting most people would rather parade around in Borat’s lime green banana sling bathing suit than sit through a two and a half hour movie about World War II.

Given the depressing state of the headlines, and the stressful lives that most of us lead, I would rather spend my hard-earned $100 evening at the movies with a laugh out loud comedy (a Twinkie) than a Film with a capital “F,” (a vitamin) that requires me to stop munching on popcorn and think.

I consider myself a relatively intelligent person. I can carry on a conversation about world events, I read books (and not just the ones for my book club), and I balance my diet of People and Star with Newsweek and the New York Times. I even watch PBS when I have to, but when it comes to entertainment, I prefer to actually be entertained.

I can’t possibly be alone on this.

Look at the movie box office figures. Maybe it’ll do blockbuster business in Japan, but here in the United States, Letters From Iwo Jima made just under $13 million dollars. To give you some perspective, that’s about 33 times less than the domestic gross of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and five times less than Jackass 2 made.

That $13 million figure is also the amount that Borat himself, Sacha Baron Cohen, will reportedly get up front from Universal Studios for his next movie, Bruno, where he’ll portray a gay Austrian fashion show presenter with a Nazi streak. Sounds like a Twinkie to me. Or does it? Could there actually be some vitamin fortification to be found in something that’s bound to be flat out funny?

Borat, for instance, was really a vitamin: I learned not to wrestle naked fat men at insurance conventions.

Keep in mind, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare are now required reading for anyone who wants to graduate from high school, but both were considered Twinkies in their day. Come to think of it, so was Jane Austen, and that was long before Emma begat Clueless. Like, oh my god, totally, I’m so sure.

Then there are all of those comic goofballs that guys seem to worship, like the Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers. To me they’re not really Twinkies, but more like those pink coconut Sno Balls that I can’t stand but I know some people adore. But I’ve heard the word “genius” applied to Groucho by people I respect, more than once. So are they vitamins or Twinkies, or a little bit of both?

After quizzing everyone I know about this for the past 73 hours, I’ve come up with a theory: the Twinkies that stick with you are really vitamins in disguise.

If I were to make a list of my all time favorite books and movies, they would all be entertaining, first and foremost, but there would also be some vitamin-fortification to make them stick in my mind all these years. Think about When Harry Met Sally. Sure we all remember Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm in the deli and “I’ll have what she’s having,” but along with a ton of laughs, the movie also had some real insights about relationships. So did Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Sure Thing, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, The Breakfast Club, and, come to think of it, just about all of my other favorite movies. They’re all vitamin-fortified Twinkies–and none of them won an Academy Award for best picture.

All of which is my brilliant way of arguing that we should watch Desperate Housewives tonight, hubby. Who knows–it could be next century’s Shakespeare.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound