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Date archive for: December 2009

Parents' wise words seldom build vocabularies

I’m what they call a word person, preferring “viridian” to dreary green and never uttering “confused” when “flummoxed” is within reach.

An English major whose motif-musing and allusion-hunting skills have proved all but useless in the real world, I take admittedly odd delight in the careful craft of sentence-smithing.

One of my prized possessions is a tome titled “The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate,” and I fling myself from bed each morning to savor my Word of the Day e-mail from — a wellspring of toothsome terms like numinous, doff and foofaraw.

I challenge myself to use each new word in conversation before the week is over, and just never you mind whether I’m successful or not. The point is I want to.

That is why I find parenting to be a bit of a bore. As a mother, I estimate 87 percent of the sentences that spring from my mouth are vapid. Artless. In fact, they border on asinine. And most of them should go without saying:

“Stop hitting yourself.” “Get your jacket out of the peanut butter.” “No spitting in Mommy’s bed.” There’s the perennial, “You must use a tissue for that” and the all-too-frequent, “Well, would you like it if I called YOU an oogie bananahead?” I recently heard myself say, “We never ever lick the bottoms of our shoes.” And I wondered what the devil had become of my dexterity for discourse — let alone my children’s common sense.

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Single Ladies Lament

I have betrother’s guilt. It’s like survivor’s guilt but it strikes people who’ve partnered up and gotten hitched, leaving their equally deserving single friends with no one to spoon on frigid nights like these.

And it doesn’t make sense. Why should I be blessed with a guy who turns me on and tolerates my considerable freakiness when so many of my hotter, younger, and far nicer friends are still solo-and-searching?

They tell me Santa Barbara is an especially tricky place to be single. It’s hard to buy even the tiniest home on one income, and with students and retirees weighing down both ends of the population spectrum, the mid-range dating pool is small. “You don’t really want your friend’s sloppy seconds,” adds a friend of mine, “which reduces your odds further.”

The hunt seems to be harder for gals. I’m told our climate and seaside lifestyle leave lots of local fellas with a Peter Pan complex that doesn’t look good on men over age 25. They’re surfers or they’re in a band. Or both.

“Did I tell you about the massage therapist who stood me up on a first date?” one of my girlfriends says. “He was playing beach volleyball and ‘just lost all track of time and forgot.'”

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Scarred by Santa?

There are things good parents don’t say to their children. We don’t, for example, say, “Somewhere in the high desert, there are gnomes building you a Wii” or “Did you know that antelope have invisibility powers?” We never tell them that a kindly old woman is likely to emerge from our tub drains in a blue suit at some point this month. And that we should leave her a dish of tiramisu.

Why, then, will we swear up and down that if our kids behave and eat their vegetables, a fat man in a red get-up will flit through the sky pulled by wingless horned mammals and squeeze down our filthy chimneys to bring us coveted baubles shrouded in Costco wrapping paper?

What the elf are we doing to our kids??

I make a big stink at home about honesty and how it’s our family’s highest value blah blah blah. Yet I’ve dragged my old Doc Martens through the fireplace and stomped them across the living room to leave convincing ash footprints on the carpet. I’ve nibbled from countless cookie platters intended for Santa, leaving big, obvious bite marks and telltale crumbs. I’ve affixed postage to “Dear Santa” letters that were ultimately mailed to no one, nowhere.

Was I wrong to do it?

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Prime-Time Promises

I grew up in Hollywood. More specifically, on the set of General Hospital, where my dad was a propman. It was an odd place for a girl to come of age. The days were long, the pace was pokey, and I had to be impossibly quiet all the time, literally skittering up into the rafters whenever the child-loathing executive producer marched into the studio unexpectedly.

But there was a part of it I relished: seeing firsthand how phony everything was. On the TV screen at home, Port Charles looked hyper-real and beautiful. But on set, it was so obviously fake. And creepy.

The plastic food was brushed with water to make it glisten. The hunky stars — Rick Springfield and John Stamos — were spackled with spongy, unskin-like makeup. The fog was dry ice. The wine was grape juice. And the front of each character’s stately home was a flimsy plywood facade that wobbled if you leaned on it.

Throughout several sitter-less summers, I became a connoisseur of these idiot-box illusions. Which makes it all the more embarrassing that I recently got sucked into Tinseltown’s manipulation machine, bamboozled by the promise of prime-time prominence.

A friend in the biz was passing my book around to industry nabobs when a reputable TV producer reportedly fell sick-in-love with my “voice” and asked me to “take a meeting.”

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