The Exemption List

Anyone married or in a serious relationship knows what The Exemption List is.  It’s the list of people that your spouse/partner would allow you to sleep with without consequences.  My husband used to tease me that Christian Kane was on my list, but, honestly, I was more drawn to the character he played on Leverage than I was to the actor himself.

But Tom Hiddleston is SOOOOO on my list. What is strange is that my husband actually wanted to add to the list.

Husband: You’ve got my heart, always.

Me: Even if I sleep with Tom Hiddleston?

Husband:  Yes.  But ONLY him.

Me: You mean, he’s on my Exemption List?!

Husband: Yes. <pause> And Patrick Stewart.

Me: Yea…wait, what?

Husband:  You can sleep with Patrick Stewart, too.

Me:  But, I don’t WANT to sleep with Patrick Stewart.

Husband:  What?!  But he’s so cool!

Me: Well, yes, I agree, but I’m not attracted to him.  Tom Hiddleston I’d mount like a deer head to my wall, but not Patrick Stewart.

Husband:  But, but, he’s CAPTAIN PICARD!

Me:  Yeah, well, Captain Picard was hot, but, he’s a character that he played 20 years ago.

Husband: How can you not want Patrick Stewart?!

Me:  Look, quit trying to make me sleep with Patrick Stewart.

And then we found this in an antique shop and my twisted brain kicked in. It’s fate.

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Tales of a Plain Fool – Heh good lookin’

One of my favorite Helenisms – “I wish I was born rich instead of so darn good lookin‘”

No, my grandmother was not vain.  She was just “folksy”. And now I find myself saying that from time to time, just to give my heart a smile.  I even let my Okie/Texas accent slip out when I say it, just to add a little “oompf”.

Tales of a Plain Fool


I was blessed with three grandmothers and one grandfather.  My step-father’s dad died when I was in high school, and I hardly have any memories of him, but his mother, upon grandpa Smith’s passing, moved to Texas and we became buddies.  We’d sit at her kitchen table and talk for hours.

My dad’s dad died before his first grandchild, my brother, was born. I know next to nothing about him except he was an alcoholic and he lived over a liquor store. I wasn’t close to my paternal grandmother until I was an adult, living in Enid, Oklahoma. I’d take her to dinner once a week and to her doctor’s appointments.

Then there was “grandmaandgrandpa”. One word. My mom’s parents. It was their home, jokingly referred to as “Gotno Rancho”, that I would spend summer vacations at, at least until I was a teenager. It was less cool to be hangin’ in Oklahoma as a teenager. Like Oklahoma was ever cool. Again, my years spent in Enid after college, though born out of a fear of failure, are important to me in that it gave me precious time with my grandparents.

All my grandparents are gone now. As devastating as Josh’s death was, it’s my grandparents I still mourn, on an almost daily basis. This is especially true of my grandma Helen.

She had a purple front door for 40+ years, long before purple was popular. She sang as she cooked and had an amazing smile.

Even writing these words brings tears to my eyes.

My mom and I refer to her folksy quips as “Helenisms”. When I decided I wanted to write about my grandma, I decided I would do so in installments, and name the series “Tales of a Plain Fool”. This stems from what she’d always say to us on March 1st, her birthday. “If I’da been born a month later, I’da been a April Fool. Instead, I’m just a plain fool.”

I miss that plain fool so much sometimes my chest aches. 

Girls, we have to stop this

I’ll admit right now, I’m guilty of it, too.  Being hyper-critical of myself and others’ appearance.  And “they” know it. They are the purveyors of anti-wrinkle creams, age-reducing serums, lip butter, dark spot removers, etc., and the Madison Avenue hacks who, quite successfully, convince you that you can only obtain beauty using their products.  It’s literally skin deep.

Pay attention to commercials.  I mean, REALLY pay attention. No wonder our daughters are growing up believing in an impossible standard of beauty. I just saw a commercial that showed a woman’s face, with flawless skin, and four little arrows pointing to different parts of the face. Each area referenced a “flaw” that this product could correct. Dark spots, acne, wrinkles, and some other “problem”, I don’t remember what. See, I was too busy fuming that this commercial, one among hundreds, if not thousands, was telling these women that they had to correct any minuscule imperfection. Does anyone ever tell men this crap? I understand, they get the “stop your balding” commercials, and the occasional “male enhancement” spots, but, at least in the case of the latter, they are spun in a “get your mojo on”, sexy, come hither kinda way. They don’t make a man feel bad about his “shortcomings”, but instead entice with the notion of “sex as good as you had it in your 20’s”.

Women, on the other hand, are told they need to be thin, have no wrinkles, no pimples, no moles, no “dark spots”, super white teeth, and super strong, lustrous hair.   Oh, and  lush, thick lashes. If you don’t have them, you can use this stuff that will make your lashes thicker…and may change the color of your eyes! How bad does a product have to be to CHANGE THE COLOR OF YOUR EYES! And can we talk about the embarrassing feminine hygiene product commercials? Vaginal cleansers, tampons, birth control pills, etc. The BEST is that charming commercial, I think for a razor, that shows women walking past untrimmed vegetation. Once they walk past the shrubs, the bushes become “trim”, so to speak. Whiskey tango foxtrot!!!! And just in case you had forgotten the rest of your responsibilities (in addition to being flawless physically), there’s tons and tons of commercials to remind you that to get your house REALLY clean, use _______. If a man is ever shown using one of these products, he’s usually depicted as incompetent. I realize they are trying to compliment women, but it really insults both genders. To depict men as clueless when it comes to taking care of the house makes them seem like children and their wives seem like their mothers.  Every mother on non “reality” tv is supermom.  She balances physical perfection with being a loving mom, wife, housekeeper, cook, and killer career woman.  It’s exhausting just thinking about it.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve fallen for a few pitches, as evidenced by the half-used bottles and jars of creams, lotions, and serums scattered about my home. Oh, and, on that note, what the hell is a serum? I mean, I know what it is, but doesn’t it seem like they are just attempting to make what is essentially a pointless clear lotion seem more clinical? Don’t you imagine some exec at Revlon professing, “Heh, what if we called it a SERUM? Then people will think it’s medicinal and buy it by the truckloads!!!!”

I’m tired of looking in the mirror and seeing every “flaw” that the makers of Oil of Olay want me to see. I get that our bodies change as we get older, but at what cost, in dollars and “sense”, do we try to fight the aging process?  I am perfect in zero ways and trying very hard to live with that.

9/11 was a tragedy….

…the possibly premature end to a career in professional baseball is not.  But tell that to a sports journalist.  This morning, on my drive to work, the sports guy on the radio station I was listening to referred to the torn ACL and meniscus of Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, and how his career may be over at age of 42. The age of 42…not 24.  He’s had 18 seasons in the Major leagues, countless honors and awards, and is considered a lock for the Hall of Fame.  I’m not saying it’s not sad, and I’m not saying it’s not an ending that would take adjusting to, but calling it a “tragedy”.  Really?  The man has spent 18 years PLAYING A GAME and getting paid MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.  He’s respected and admired in his chosen profession.  And he’s still a young man.  Not by sports standards, I know, but by just about all other standards.  I adore Tim Duncan.  By basketball standards, he’s old.  He’s well-respected, received many awards and honors, etc.  And if he suffered a career-ending injury tomorrow, I’d be sad, both for him and for the Spurs, but I wouldn’t describe it as a tragedy.  Not by a long shot.

This got me thinking about the other words we abuse.  “Hero” comes to mind. The biggest misuse of the word again comes from the Sports arena.   With a great stretch of the imagination, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant (gag), or Dwane Wade could be characterized as heroes in the Homeric sense.  In that context, a hero can be defined as “a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability”.  I’m down with special strength and ability, but courage?  It’s not like they have to make a drive to the basket amongst sniper fire, people.  Welles Crowther was a hero.   To call a multi-millionaire basketball player, even my Timmy, a hero cheapens the word.

Another word we misuse, perhaps more than any other, is “love”.  Among the definitions of love are:

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

These days, we use the word “love” to describe our feelings towards our cars, shoes, smartphones and, sometimes, family.  I had to stop myself from using the word to describe my feelings for the Spurs and for Tim Duncan, though at least I’d be referencing human beings.  I do have affection for the Spurs and Tim Duncan, for their sportsmanship and humility, their skills and their loyalty.  I don’t know how profound, tender, or passionate it is, except maybe during the playoffs, when it’s a tad more passionate (“Manuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!!”).

I’m gonna head a bit deeper into the pool and share this from The Guardian.

We are not born with our values: they are embedded and normalised by the messages we receive from our social environment. Most advertising appeals to and reinforces extrinsic values. It doesn’t matter what the product is: by celebrating image, beauty, wealth, power and status, it helps create an environment that shifts our value system. Some adverts appear to promote intrinsic values, associating their products with family life and strong communities. But they also create the impression that these values can be purchased, which demeans and undermines them. Even love is commingled with material aspiration, and those worthy of this love mostly conform to a narrow conception of beauty, lending greater weight to the importance of image.

Let’s not forget.  Tragic is a child dying of cancer, or thousands of people murdered by planes turned into missiles.  A hero is someone who risks or sometimes gives their lives to save someone else, and love is what we should feel for our spouses, our children, our parents, and our friends.

Now I’m off the to Apple store.  Tragically, my iPhone, which I looooove, has died, and I’m hoping the tech will be my hero and restore it.