’16 Cosmic Gray Mica

16 CamryChad came into my office wearing his full-length down coat that made him look like a walking sleeping bag. He pulled off his fur-trimmed hood to reveal movie-star hair.

“Shift change,” he boomed, laying his snow-caked shovel on my desk.

“Watch it, man!” I yelled as I removed the shovel from the Johnsons’ paperwork. “Do you know how fucking long it took me to work up that sale?” I asked, but I must have sounded rhetorical ‘cause Chad just sloshed past.

“Let me play you a sonata, Jimmy,” he said. “Get your boots on. I did the Prius row. You take the Camrys. You pass the torch to old man Zeke at 7. That gives you two hours. Spend it with your head up your ass for all I care, just don’t mess with my tits.”

“Your what?”

“Tits,” he signaled crudely with his hands to indicate a large pair of jugs. “You’ll see,” he winked.

I hated Chad.

“Anyhoo, leave the tits for the transport dudes. Give those poor slugs a laugh.”

“Right, Chad.”

He disappeared into his office across the hall. Ours were absolutely identical, same breast-cancer awareness sticker on the soulless windows, same Formica desk, same dot matrix printer, even the same photograph of an old-time steam train on the wall. Somebody had a sense of humor around here, but I was still too new to know who.

I pulled my boots out from under the desk and slipped off my Italian leather loafers. Most ridiculous footwear on the planet, those loafers. Cost me more than a whole paycheck, and worst part was they weren’t my only pair. Selling cars is half looks and half lies and the two are interchangeable. I pulled my coat out from behind the door, put it on, and grabbed the dripping shovel. It left a trail as I headed outside.

“Enjoy yourself, Jimmy boy,” Chad called from his office. He raised his Styrofoam cup as I passed. What a jackass.

Outside, Chad had shoveled a straight path to the Prius row, no mistake I’m sure. He’d left a perfect set of double-Ds on the first hood in the row, and one on the next, and the next, all the way down to the end. Nice.

I hadn’t always wanted to sell Japanese cars at a dealership in the burbs, no way. I’d majored in finance thinking I’d get a job at a bank downtown, but my parents’ house had the gravity of a neodymium magnet. I couldn’t escape the place. Downtown may as well have been Johannesburg. At least I was saving, and whenever I did manage to get out, I’d have a killer shoe collection. Mom and Dad wouldn’t live forever, would they?

I shoveled between two Camrys and went to work cleaning the first hood, careful not to scratch the Blue Streak Metallic paint. Bastards would dock my pay for that. I worked my way around with the brush, then came back to scrape the hood. I moved on down the line to a Ruby Flare Pearl and a Midnight Black. I would have gone for the Blue Streak, but I don’t drive Japanese. The old folks were crazy for the Parisian Night Pearl, and I worked my way through five of those. My fingers were popsicles by then, and I wanted to get back inside so I gave up on the scraping.

I cleared the hood of a Cosmic Gray Mica and I was working on the driver’s side window when I saw something in the driver’s seat. Something that looked suspiciously like someone. I finished cleaning the window and stuck my face up to the glass to get a better look. What I saw threw me back a few feet and I hopped around from foot to foot, hollering.

I breathed deep and tried the door. Course it popped open, no trouble. Old man Zeke was slumped against the black leather-trimmed seat, clearly departed. Worst part was his pants down around his knees. Whole thing undid me, and I turned away to puke in the snow.

I cleaned myself up and turned back to the Camry. Old Zeke had a lipstick print on his neck that filled in a lot of the blanks.

“You kidding me, Zeke? A Camry? You should have gone for the Blue Streak, old man.”


If you know me, then you know just how much I love car dealers.

I used to have a cellar

I don’t want to freak you out, but there was a time that I used to store dead bodies down there.

Not just any bodies, don’t worry. And not so many, only three.

I live in an old house with a full-height cellar. In the last few years, we’ve had the basement waterproofed and finished. Now it’s colorful and neat, and you’d never suspect what it used to be like.

But that cellar was once dark, damp, and irrational. It held an ancient hulk of a furnace and a solitary toilet standing in one corner. Pipes snaked over the ceiling. Our cellar used to be frightening.

When we moved into this house, we brought the cremated remains of our first dog, Theo. We had trouble letting go, so we stashed his little wooden box in the cellar on the pantry shelf.

A few months later, my mom died, and we jokingly set her remains on the shelf next to Theo’s. Theo would guard her, we rationalized, until we could find the appropriate time to scatter their ashes.


Several months passed and I hired a company to clean out my mom’s storage locker. You know, the sort that Walt and Skyler used to store their cash. Late one afternoon, I got a call from the owner of the company.

“Ma’am, I have something important here,” I think the gentleman said.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Do you know Dorothy B–?”

“Yes, she was my grandmother,” I said, still not catching on.

“Well, ma’am, I have her remains here,” the owner cleared his throat uncomfortably.

Of course I laughed. It had been three months since my mom had died unexpectedly, and just three weeks since I had learned the horrible truth about Mike the used-car salesman. Of course Mike the used-car salesman had stashed my Bubbie’s remains in the storage locker and pocketed the cash that he was supposed to use to hire a boat and scatter her ashes. It was perfect and all I could do was laugh.

The nice gentleman from the estate liquidation company overnighted Bubbie’s ashes and I put her on the shelf with Theo and took to letting the laundry pile up.

When Mother’s Day finally rolled around again, we took a trip to the lake and set everyone free. Soon after that, we hired a basement contractor to hide the evidence.

Just a little trick

Just a little bit of silliness to make up for yesterday’s post. Prepare yourself, it gets sexy at the end…

You drove, I lounged in the passenger seat. The weather defied your mood: It was sunny and unseasonably warm outside. I unrolled my window, you left yours up. “I’m glad we’re together like this,” I said sarcastically through your stony silence.

“Roll your window down,” I half-whined. “We’re getting that weird reverb.” You ignored me, kept driving.

I slipped off my sandals and put my bare feet up on the dashboard.

“Quit it,” you grumbled, trying to push my feet down. You swerved a little.

“Watch it,” I warned you, moving my feet out of your reach. “Hey, is it raining in there, or what?” I tapped your head with one finger. Nothing. “I think it is raining,” I took my own joke. “Driving rain,” I drum-rolled on my bare thighs. Still nothing. Jeez.

A minute passed. “Wanna play a game?” I asked even though I knew your answer would be no.

“No way,” you said.

“Come on, it’ll be fun. You’ll like it, I promise.” I tried to catch your eye but you were staring dead ahead, focusing on the road. I continued since I had nothing else to do. “Okay, so I read about this online. It’s some new thing. I’m gonna make you come without touching you. It’s like magic or something.” Nothing, not even a smile.

“Are you ready?” I tried not to get upset about your lack of interest. “Here goes.” I put my hands up to my head to show you I was concentrating, even though I felt your eyes glued to the road. I concentrated. I thought about you, even though you were right there next to me. You’d have never let me touch you, even if you weren’t driving.

I started at the top of your head, and slowly, very slowly, thought about moving downward. I felt chills on my own head, so I knew it was working. I thought about the back of your neck, with its little hairs, and the hairs on my own neck began to tingle. This was seriously hot. I thought lower, to your chest, and my own chest, well, perked up. I thought lower, to your belly, to the top of your jeans, and lower. By then I was tingling all over – everywhere – and I knew you were, too. I could feel you shifting in your seat, trying to stop the tingling, to release the pressure, to keep your focus on the road, but you couldn’t.

“Pull over,” I said. For once, you acknowledged me, and silently pulled over. Just like I thought, you didn’t reach for me. I knew it. I kept thinking, though. I thought really hard. Again and again. My panties were wet and I was burning up and the cool breeze through my window felt really good. I bet you wished you’d put your window down, but you were sort of frozen there, eyes half-closed, pretty much a sex zombie, just like I read you’d be. I concentrated some more, and you actually let out a small moan. Woo-hoo! I thought. It was totally working.

Okay, time to seal the deal, I thought. “Where do you want to come?” I asked. You tilted your head toward me but you didn’t answer. I could feel how bad you wanted it, which was really rare. I smiled again even though you could probably barely see me with your eyes almost closed. “Where?” I asked again, knowing that you wouldn’t tell me. “My boobs? My face?” I laughed like I was daring you, and I sort of laid down on your lap, against the steering wheel, facing you but barely touching you, really. It was all you needed. I laughed as you tried to jerk your hips toward my face. It was too late. Your jeans were already soaked through.

“I did it! I can’t believe that worked.” I grinned at you and you actually looked down into my face and touched my hair. I was so happy I almost cried.

A couple of minutes passed and we both straightened up and looked at your soaking wet jeans. “What the hell am I going to tell my mom?” you asked. I cracked up. “Wanna stop at the mall?” I suggested as if I just thought of it.


Movie night

I wrote this for a friend. Sorry about the obnoxious purse comment, S.

Portia got her nails done right after work: long gel tips, hot pink, no art. She didn’t have the cash. Not since Sven had dumped her last week on the street corner in the rain, like she was some whore.

I’m not, Portia reassured herself as she dashed home to pick up supper before the movie. She sighed as she pulled her second to last Lean Cuisine out of the freezer, and she groaned when she saw that it was chicken with mushrooms and potatoes. They were all chicken with mushrooms now, Portia surmised. She tried not to be fatalist as she carefully dabbed the buttons on the microwave. Gotta protect the nails, she thought. They gotta last til I find a new guy, she rationalized.

Portia pulled the steaming Lean Cuisine out of the microwave, burning her wrist as she did. “Shit!” she screamed, even though Sven wasn’t there. No one to kiss it better, Portia thought sadly. She shook it off, wrapped the food in a towel, and tossed it into her large purse before heading out to the theater.

A girl’s gotta do something to keep her spirits up, Portia told herself as she made her way over to the multiplex. Gotta put yourself out there, girl, she thought. Portia knew she was right. She was a survivor.

Portia put her movie ticket on Sven’s credit card. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt me, Portia joked to herself. She sat near the back of the theater, plunking herself down next to an older man with a graying beard. Portia liked how strong his hand looked on his soda cup.

“Hi, there,” Portia flashed him a smile when she had gotten her jacket off. “I’m Portia.”

“Michael,” the older gentleman replied.

So far, so good, Portia thought as she opened her purse. Damn, the mushroom sauce had leaked out of the Lean Cuisine. Portia could have cried. Now her purse would smell like fucking Lean Cuisine for God knows how long. Portia actually felt tears welling up as she pulled out her fork.

“Here you go, young lady,” Michael handed her a neatly folded, clean, white handkerchief. “Don’t make a mess now,” Portia thought she detected a hint of a drawl. Oh, a real southern gentleman, she thought with glee, scarfing down her Lean Cuisine.

Fuck Sven, Portia thought. You can do better, girl. Portia gulped down her last few bites, eyeing the silly commercials on the screen, then she shoved her Lean Cuisine tray under the seat in front of her and kicked it away with the tip of her high-heeled boot.

“So, Michael,” Portia turned to her seat mate, “what do you do for a living?” Portia neatly folded the dirty handkerchief and tucked it into Michael’s jacket pocket with her hot pink manicured fingers. He looked surprised.

“A gentleman never discusses what he does for money,” Michael upbraided her with a frown. Portia was nonplussed. She slipped her pink manicured hand around his neck and trailed her fingers through his thick gray hair.

Portia liked this guy. She tossed her smelly purse a few seats away and cozied up for the movie. The lights were going down and Portia needed more Lean Cuisines. Fuck you, Sven, Portia thought as she laid her head on Michael’s shoulder. He smelled good, like fresh cut wood. See, Sven, Portia thought. I can do better.

Michael used a firm hand to push Portia’s coiffed blonde head off his shoulder and he stood above her in the dark theater. “Good night, young lady,” he said as he picked up his coat. “Enjoy the movie.” He made his way out of the theater as the movie began.

Damn it, thought Portia with a toss of her head. Not even a second glance? What a jerk. She reached for her purse as she surveyed the theater for better options. She eyed a youngish-looking, dark-haired hottie a few rows up and then let out a little scream when she found her purse was missing.

Portia stood up and shouted into the darkness. “I hope whoever stole my purse likes mushrooms!” Then she sashayed up a few rows and sat down next to the hottie.

“Hi, I’m Portia,” she smiled and offered him her pink-tipped fingers in the darkness. He slipped his buttery fingers around hers and pulled her hand down into his bucket of popcorn with a grunt.

Fuck you, Sven, Portia thought yet again, regretfully, before she shoved a handful of popcorn into her mouth. “Yum!” She whispered into the hottie’s ear as she laid her head on his shoulder. She had to think of those Lean Cuisines. And a new purse.


The man in black with Sprite and Pop-Tarts

Ana T. knew it would be a strange day the moment she opened her eyes. The sun streaming through her purple curtains cast its eerie glow around her room, but that wasn’t what alarmed her. She rose and looked at her alarm clock, blaring No Sleep Till Brooklyn like usual, pulled off her pjs, walked naked to the shower, and stood under the steaming water wondering what would be different about today.

Ana T. dried herself in front of the full-length mirror, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans (no bra), and contemplated. No, it wasn’t nerves over her audition this afternoon or boredom over the morning she needed to spend studying. No, it wasn’t her dwindling food supply or her nearly empty bank account. It was something else.

She slung her backpack over her shoulder and reached into the cabinet on her way to the door. She was pissed off to find the box of Pop-Tarts empty. She tossed the box in the trash and slammed the door on her way out. She compensated for breakfast by listening to Cake on the train and she used her last set of quarters to buy a coffee from a cart outside the library.

Ana T. noticed the man in black slouching over a desk in the back corner of the library and wondered if he was reading something interesting. A bottle of Sprite sat before him on his desk. She took a desk next to the stacks and dumped her bag on the chair. She set her coffee down and wandered the row of books until she found the one she was looking for on the very top shelf. It had a unicorn on its spine.

She reached way up for the book, and she caught the man in black watching her. No, there was no mistake about it, he was staring. Probably checking out my boobs, Ana thought. Her hand slipped and the book with the unicorn on its spine fell. It was quite heavy and it hit her on the forehead with a thud. Ana crumpled to the ground, a goose egg forming and the book lying upside down next to her, dejected. Damn, she thought, her hand pressing on the goose egg. How am I going to explain this at the audition?

“Let me help you up,” the man in black said from behind her.

“Thanks,” Ana held up her hand.

He pulled her up and bent down to pick up the book with the unicorn on its spine. He flipped through it. “Looks like a good one,” he smiled and handed it back to her.

“Yeah,” she said, straightening her shirt and rubbing her head.

“That’s going to leave a mark,” the man in black laughed. He seemed to be joking, Ana T. thought.

He walked back to his desk and picked up his bag and the bottle of Sprite. He walked back to her and held out the bottle. “Here, it’s cold. Put it on your head.”

She did.

Meanwhile, the man in black pulled something out of his bag. It was a Pop-Tart with rainbow sprinkles.

“Would you like a Pop-Tart, young lady?” he asked with a grin.

Ana T. could not believe her eyes. “What flavor?” she asked.

“Um, I think it’s chocolate,” the man in black peered at the Pop-Tart to make sure.

“Yes, thank you!” Ana T. grabbed the Pop-Tart and took a bite.

“One more thing,” the man in black reached into his back pocket. “I have a job that I think you’d be perfect for. Here’s my card in case you’re interested. Just call anytime,” He held out the card. Ana looked deeply into his face as if she were deaf and trying to lip read. Finally she set down the bottle of Sprite and took the card.

“Thanks,” she murmured. He smiled and walked back to his desk. She took another bite of Pop-Tart and looked at the card in her hand. It had a unicorn on it. Ana T. didn’t think it was a coincidence. She finished the Pop-Tart and pulled her phone out of her pocket. She called the number on the card. The man in black reached for his phone.

She ended up skipping her audition.


Ted Nugent, this is not about you

via guitarworld.com
via guitarworld.com

Ted Nugent, I have to admit that I don’t know much about you. We don’t have a lot in common. I’m not a big fan of classic rock and I don’t own a single gun. But I think you made a good point last month with your tirade at President Obama. You got to me, Mr. Nugent.

You called him a subhuman mongrel. I would have chosen a different, less disparaging term, like maybe uncanny hybrid. Yours was richer, though. Yours was more immediate and more emotional. You exploited the specter of race and the cold blunt dagger of Nazism. You scared us. You went on to throw in some astute observations of Chicago politics and you romanticized it all with your reference to those Roaring 20s bad boys, the gangsters.

Mr. Nugent, you were right, you know. Barack Obama showed us all how he operates beyond the boundaries of politics, and he did it from the start of his first campaign for president, when he shamelessly called on us Americans to hope, that four-letter word that just refuses to be pushed down into the mundane. And President Obama continues to refuse to play by the rules. Did you notice how, in the State of the Union Address last month, he laid out his plans to dodge Congress to achieve his goals? President Obama knows how to deftly create his own reality. Like I said, I prefer to spin toward the positive, but we can work with subhuman. At least it gives him space to fly under the radar.

And, Mr. Nugent, you do know that African Americans have long capitalized on the so-called tragic mulatto, right? That mixed-race figure that never quite fits in anywhere can turn its hybrid possibilities into a road map for interracial relations. Not that you are overly concerned with racial relations, Mr. Nugent, but you called it. President Obama is a mixed breed. I’m one, too.

I don’t know if you’ve ever lived in Chicago, but I’ve lived here for awhile now and surprisingly, I’ve discovered that this town has driven me away from the far left. All that I can say is, when one party runs things unchecked, bad things happen. This city has an infinite appetite for money, like a ravenous beast gnashing its teeth at us taxpayers, demanding us to fork over its next binge. You’re right, Mr. Nugent, there is something soul-crushingly communist about paying for parking on Sundays.

Now, I know that you like guns, Mr. Nugent. And when I see a photo like the one here, I can’t help but wonder whether you don’t really fancy yourself a bit of a gangster, too. So maybe you speak from experience when you call the president one. Whatever – I’ll bet Barack Obama doesn’t mind the bad boy moniker.

You’re a rock star, Mr. Nugent. You’re also multifaceted, just like our president. You’re not only a down-home rocker but also a hobbyist, a writer, a speaker, a Christian. You’re a real agent provocateur. What made your tirade so powerful was the truth at its core. I know that, you know that, and I’ll bet President Obama knows it too.

I think you’re on to something here, Mr. Nugent. You got our attention, and even though your friends in Congress made you apologize for it, you got us thinking about how things could be different. But what’s next? I’d like to see more of you. Maybe you should run for president.


My mom was murdered by a used-car salesman.

If my mom were telling you this story, it would be a comedy. She would twist her heartbreak into dark tendrils of humor until you were on the floor laughing. But she’s dead, so I will try to do it justice.

My mom died under mysterious circumstances but she was not murdered. In retrospect, her death fell at the end of a long line of clues, as well documented as any stack of stolen credit card receipts shoved in a dresser drawer could hope to be.

My mom liked creeps and I suspect that she knew a lot of them. Three creeps in particular she knew intimately. She married one at nineteen, my sister’s dad, and she had a run-in with one at 35 that left her with me. She found the worst of her creeps in a phone-sex chat room in early 2002. She was 64 and ten years older than him – you can do the math.

Mike was an on-again, off-again used-car salesman. He’d sell you a used car whether you wanted one or not. He’d sell you a used car if you asked him about the weather and he’d sell you a used car on your birthday. He sold used cars so well that he went to jail for it several times, the last time just weeks after he married my mom in 2003.

My mom waited patiently for his return a year later. I won’t tell you about how I paid her rent and her expenses while he was in prison. It’s beside the point how much I worried that Mike the used-car salesman would return, or worse, that he wouldn’t.

Mike the used-car salesman returned shortly before my Bubbie died. He timed his reappearance well, and made off with my Bubbie’s life savings, an act that revealed his great ingenuity and patience. He spent his treasure trove on scummy motel rooms and gifts for younger, hotter finds from the sex chat room.

In 2006, my mom fell on the grass while she was walking their Yorkie. She waited hours on the ground for Mike to return from the used-car lot cum scummy motel room. My mom died a few days later in a crummy hospital ICU, her organs shutting down because of drug complications. My mom was not murdered by a used-car salesman, but she may as well have been.

In a cruel twist of fate like most twists of fate are, Mike the used-car salesman died two months later in my mom’s bed of all places. When I got there, I found all of his receipts and bank statements stuffed in a drawer and I had to laugh.


A revision of last week’s Yeah Write essay. Thanks for the thoughtful comments, Obed, I do think this post is a lot cleaner now.

Thespians taste like chicken

The English conversation class met in the crowded, dark basement of an old building as if they were meeting for something much more illicit than just talking. Stacks of hard-backed Merriam-Webster’s 11th editions in their exuberant red paper covers lined the walls like carnival prizes. Somebody’s ironic sense of humor, Samantha always thought when she entered the room.

Samantha passed out copies of the newspaper while the students trickled in. The handful of Mexican construction workers sat together near the back. The Middle Eastern girl with gorgeous eyes took her seat near the front. A couple of Asian boys slouched in their seats in the corner. The adorable French pair of exchange students huddled front and center, giggling.

Samantha finished passing out the newspapers and returned to the front of the room. She wrote a few simple sentences on the whiteboard to get the students started in their conversations. As she was writing, a tall man with a shaved head and a leather jacket came to the doorway. “Go ahead, everyone. Find a partner and start with introductions,” Samantha announced. “Come in, take a seat,” Samantha said to the newcomer.

He paused at the front and considered the room, then sat down next to the exchange students. “Hello, ladies,” he said with a smile.

The exchange students laughed. “Hi,” they said in unison.

“I’m Jack,” he said. “What can I call you ladies?”

“Ooh, Jacques,” one of the girls answered. “Are you French?”

“No,” Jack said. “I’m from Minnesota.”

Samantha chuckled. This guy has no idea where he is, she thought. “Okay, class,” she said, “take a look at your newspapers. Go ahead and ask your partner something about the headlines.”

Jack turned to the girls. “I overheard a good joke on the train here,” he said. “Want to hear it?”

“Yes!” the girls laughed.

“Okay, here goes. What did the thespian frog say when it ate the other thespian frog?”

The girls huddled together. “What’s ‘frog’?” one asked, giggling.

“Grenouille,” the other answered.

“Oh! Oui! Oui!” the first girl burst out.

“Ew! Cannibalisme!” Both girls dissolved into laughter.

“Wait,” said the first girl to Jack. “What is a thespian?”

“I don’t know,” Jack admitted. He looked up at Samantha. “Can I borrow a dictionary?” he asked.

She nodded, watching things play out.

Jack took a dictionary off the stack and carried it back to his desk. The girls giggled as he read them the definition.

All of a sudden, the Middle Eastern girl jumped out of her seat and grabbed her things. She walked over to Jack and the French girls and shouted, “It’s not thespian! It’s lesbian, and we taste like chicken! Poulet,” she said emphatically to the girls, then stormed out.

“Whew!” Jack said to the girls. “She didn’t have much of a sense of humor for a comedy class, did she?”

“Comedy class?” Samantha laughed. “This isn’t a comedy class. It’s an English conversation class.”

“An English conversation class?” Jack mumbled, staring mystified at the dictionary in his hands. “What day is it?”


“Damn, I thought it was Thursday. I’m in the wrong place. Girls, can I buy you some drinks?”

“Oui, oui!” they said in unison.

They stood to leave together, and one of the girls asked, “What’s a lesbian, Jacques?” Jack laughed and handed her the dictionary on their way out.

Samantha smiled at the class. “Well, I guess they started a conversation, huh?”


My attempt at a botched joke for this week’s Tipsy Lit prompt. Maybe I need to sign up for a comedy class myself!



Bring your egg in

Last night I had a hilarious conversation with my friends. We were out at dinner, sharing dim sum, and we started talking about working out. Working out led to horror stories about the Jillian Michael’s DVD Ripped in 30. (Most of my friends and I have suffered through it, have you?) Horror stories about trying to do a sit up. “Can you touch your foot? I can’t get past my knee!” More nightmares about the duck walk.

And then one friend mentioned how much she hates the background music. “But I like how Jillian makes up little motivational sayings,” she said.

“Like what?” I asked.

“Like when she says, ‘Bring your egg in,’” she laughed.

“Wait – do you mean ‘Bring your A-game?’” I asked, and we all burst out laughing. For about ten minutes.

I’m still trying to imagine what my friend thought of when she heard “Bring your egg in.” Are we farmers? Was it a jab at us stay-at-home moms who are too lazy to bring in the groceries? What? I don’t know. But it sure did make us laugh.

Now that I’m thinking about it, Jillian Michaels is incredibly motivating. First of all, she’s hot. You know, she follows her own advice. Plus she’s complicated. She’s mean and nice at the same time. She’s reminding you how awesome you are for showing up at the same time that she’s pushing you to work harder than you think you can. She is right there, in your face, kicking your ass. Killing you. She’s right, though, getting out of your comfort zone does make you stronger. It’s not just about getting in shape, it’s about life. Go take responsibility for whatever it is that you want and then go get it.

Go bring your egg in.

My five-year old won’t talk to grownups (or am I a good enough mom?)

My son started kindergarten a few months ago. With the start of school came a strange new habit. He refuses to talk to grownups at school. Now, Gabe isn’t shy. When he was one, he made friends with parents at his big sister’s preschool, waving and calling “Hi!” down the hallway like a movie star in a fourth of July parade.  At home, he is verbal and emotionally aware. He fills me in on every detail of his day. He sings. He is a chatterbox with his friends’ parents.

Then kindergarten began and he won’t speak a word to any adult at school. When a grownup asks him a question, he freezes and his eyes glaze over. It’s disturbing bordering on frightening. And worse, nothing helps him snap out of it, not a joke, a hug, nothing.

He spent one recess period in the principal’s office, coloring, because he wouldn’t tell the recess helper where he left his sweatshirt. He had an accident a few weeks ago, his first since he was two, because he wouldn’t ask to use the bathroom. When he spilled his juice at snack time, he took his teacher by the hand and led her over to his desk to show her. Great, he’s adapting.

I won’t lie, I am concerned. I want Gabe to be respectful of adults. I don’t want him to turn into the weird kid at school. But his teacher asked me to stay positive, to make a big deal about his good behavior and not say too much about his silence. So I’m trying to stay calm. I’m no helicopter.  And I like that he’s picking up new ways to communicate. I feel a little guilty about never teaching him sign language as a baby. Man, I am such a slacker.

It’s all cool. I want him to learn to how to function in the world on his own. I know it’s not easy out there. He’s making up his own rules. And at least if he refuses to speak to adults, he’ll never end up on some therapist’s couch, complaining about how his mom never forced him to use his words.

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