My Christmas Carol

New Year’s Day is a big deal for those who live near Pasadena, California, all due to the Tournament of Roses Festivities. 

But when January 1st falls on a Sunday, it becomes an “un-holiday.” No New Year’s Eve Parties. No Parade. No Rose Bowl Game. 

I was alone on this bleak, cold New Year’s Eve, slumped on my couch, surfing the television channels. Let’s face it. These have been a miserable couple of years. Bah humbug!

When A Christmas Carol popped on the screen, I paused, even though I’d seen it hundreds of times. Ah yes, good ol’ bitter Scrooge. The longer I watched, the heavier my eyelids got. The last words I heard were from Jacob Marley warning Scrooge he would be awakened by three bells announcing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

I’m not sure how long I slept, but I was awakened by the bells of my cell phone with a text message from my friend, “Meet us at the Pub to bring in the new year.” 

I was hesitant because it was pouring rain. Why not? I have nothing else to do.

I arrived drenched as a rat. I took off my coat and sat at the table with my friends.

“Leslie Smith? Is that you?” this woman’s voice boomed from the table next to ours. No one has called me by my maiden name in decades. “I’m sure you don’t remember me. We went to high school together. You were the bomb! I can’t believe it’s really you. You are standing there! It’s crazy.” 

“I was?” This news came as a surprise to me.

She turned to her friends, “You guys don’t understand, she was something in high school. Really, the most popular girl in school. I’m so honored to see you. My name is Carol. But I’m sure you don’t remember me.”

She was right. I didn’t remember her. “Thanks so much.” I gave Carol a warm hug. That voice from my past lifted my dreary spirits.

At the stroke of midnight, the Pub erupted, toasting in the new year.

Suddenly, my friend stood up and began loudly singing, “in days of auld lang syne. Cheers, everyone!” We all touched our glasses together. “Every time cocktail glasses clink together – A drunk angel gets a new liver.” She shouted, and everyone laughed.

“I wrote that.” I was thrilled, having never been quoted before.

I felt a bit better when I returned home to my couch, until, “Oh, good golly!” I jumped, “Lucky, how did you get so wet?” I shouted at my soaking golden retriever. 

The two front doors that I had locked were now wide open. How, I wondered?

 I’ve heard that opening your front door on New Year’s Eve will let all the bad luck out, and all the good luck will come into your house. 

Tonight, was I visited by three spirits? Were the events at the Pub my past and present? They are different movies, but they have the same idea. Now, could these opened doors be my future?

I stood stunned. Maybe just maybe, life isn’t so miserable after all. Even with all these challenges, there is much to be grateful for – my wonderful children, friends, and life. 

I ran out through those opened doors and banged pots and pans, “Welcome, 2023! Bring us all good luck this year. We desire it. Happy New Year!”

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Parade Day

“I got free tickets to the Tournament of Roses Parade! Wanna go?” 

When my friend Betsey uttered those words, I could hardly contain my excitement. I’m a veteran of curbside viewing, so being able to sit directly across from the television cameras was an unexpected delight. 

A 6:00 a.m. departure would ensure our butts would rest on those cold metal bleachers for the 8:00 a.m. start with time to spare.

The excursion team of Betsey, her brother JD, our friend Kristen, a couple from Utah and me piled inside the minivan like kids going on a field trip. I was so chatty with excitement that I wasn’t paying attention to Betsey’s directions… until the traffic came to a sudden halt. “How are you going?” I screeched in panicked horror.

Betsey calmly replied, “This road runs right into the St. John’s parking lot.”

“NOOOO! It’s below the boulevard. We’re above the boulevard. We’ll never be able to cross over.” I shook my head.

We were wedged in like a can of sardines. The only thing that was moving was the hands of time while we inched closer to the 8:00 a.m. mark.

“You guys have never seen the parade. So get out and you won’t miss the start, while I find the parking lot,” Betsey said after cursing at the traffic.

Clearly, Betsey needed a wingman. “I’ll stay with you,” I said.

With that, the others hopped out and made a mad dash for it.

The minivan made a sharp left and merged into the lane next to us.

“Coming through,” she announced.

Moments later we broke free from the traffic jam.


We circled back around, only to bump into barricades.

“Oh, look, there they are!” There was no time to wave at our friends, now on the hoof. “Turn right here.”

No luck.

“Look, there they are again.” Our friends were rapidly gaining on our seats while we orbited them.

Pushing the minivan like a racehorse for miles in the opposite direction, we searched for an opening.

“Why is everyone slowing down?” Betsey howled.


The loud rumble of the fighter jets overhead signaled the parade’s start. Cell phones popped out and pointed up from car windows.

“Quick, cross over the boulevard while no one is paying attention.” 

Now speeding back toward the parking lot, Betsey rolled down her window and waved her Golden Ticket Parking Pass, “HOW DO I GET TO HERE?”

The officer moved the wood barrier aside and pointed.

“AHHH!” We took a right and slammed on the brakes to avoid running over the bedazzled

Medieval Knight Equestrian Team.

“Sorry. Have a nice parade.” Betsey navigated around them. 

“This way.” I pointed.

 “It’s one way.”

“It’s parade day. Pull the side mirrors in!”

We held our breath and squeezed through the tiny canal created by the enormous buses on one side and the massive, red trucks used to carry the famous Clydesdale horses on the other.

“KEEP DRIVING!” I said, white-knuckling the dashboard. 

Betsey floored it. We popped out of that street like a cork and landed in front of the Penn State Marching Band. The baton twirler will never know how close she came to being a hood ornament on a minivan. We honked, but no one could hear us over the horn section.

Dodging traffic cones, I felt trapped in a video game. 

Finally, we turned into the already jammed parking lot.

“Here!” Betsey pulled the minivan right behind another illegally parked car. “Hop out.”

After high fives, we ran toward our bleachers, slowing once at the tempting smell of the bacon-wrapped hot dogs on the cart. “No, you’ll thank me later.”

At 8:30, we plopped down on our seats.

“Oh, look, Bets, there are the Medieval Equestrians and Mickey Mouse,” I waved. “Is there a Mister Toad’s Wild Float this year?”

“You just rode it!” 

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If A Tree Falls

Every year I order my Christmas tree as part of a fundraiser from my son Jack’s high school. I’ll have one of the student volunteers unfurl one after the other, while I tell them that my son went there and maybe they’ve heard of him. They’ll stare at me blankly.  

This year I ran into my good friend Sharon who was also picking up her tree.

“After you’ve picked yours out, throw it in the back of our truck.” Sharon suggested.


Sharon and her family had already picked out their tree and were ready to go. I didn’t want to hold them up, so I didn’t bother to untie any trees while still on the lot. Instead, I picked the tallest one I could find and had them pop it into the back of her truck, and off we went.

That night my daughter, Lindsay, and I spent an hour wrestling with this nine-foot noble fir tree, trying to get it to fit inside the tree stand. We turned it one way and then the other while burrowing the screws inside the eight-inch trunk. 

“Mom, it’s wobbling.”

Back under its boughs until finally, we got it to stand. Slowly, we let go and stood back.

“Hmmm. Is it just me, or does it lean to one side?” I asked.

“Don’t worry about that. It’s standing.”

Good point.

With that, Lindsay and I began stringing the lights around this green beast. As I dug through the ornament tub, I heard a creaking sound. I swiveled around just as the tree tilted forward with a loud crack.


Lindsay threw her arms out stretched just in time before it crashed to the living room floor.

“Now, what do I do?” Lindsay asked. “Mom, it’s heavy.”

I mopped up the spilled water from the broken stand. Luckily, I had a spare in the garage. Doesn’t everyone?

“Keep holding it.”

An incredible amount of time passed while I was screwing around with this tree.

“Mom, my arms are shaking.”

“Almost got it.”

“Look, our friend Jim is here.”

“What? Why would he be here?”

“Delivering a present?”

“I don’t think so.” However, I did hear the gate open. 

With her knee, Lindsay knocked the front window open, “Help! Help! Can you help us? Our tree has fallen, and we can’t get it up.”

“Sorry, I’m the Amazon delivery guy. Good luck.”

The gate slammed shut. Feeling defeated and blurry-eyed, I moaned, “Lindsay, I give up. I will have to call one of the guys to help us.”

“Wait, Mom,” Lindsay protested from under the tree’s weight. “Girl Power. We can do this. We don’t need a man to help us.”

She was right. What was I thinking? With the power of ten men, I shoved that stand on the bottom and screwed it in.

“Ha! Hoist ‘er up, I say!”

This time it was perfect. The most beautiful tree we had ever had. Now, I felt intoxicated with power. The next day when Lindsay shouted, “Mom, the cable’s not working,” I instructed, “Unplug it. Wait a minute. Plug it back in.” I have no idea where that came from.

“That worked.”

“Did I fix the TV cable? We are so re-caulking that bathroom tub!”

“What have I done?” Lindsay sighed.

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Whenever my kids call me from college – something is up. 

“Mom?” It was Sam. “I just totaled the car.”

My heart sank. 

“Are you alright?”

“Yea, it just happened.” He sounded rattled. “Mom, there’s a lot of blood.”

I went into Mom mode. He was in Colorado, and I was in California. Through his

cell phone speaker, I could hear all the commotion that happens around an


“Dude, your car flipped four times.”

“Mom, all the windows are blown out. It just kept rolling, and then it stopped, and I

got out. There was stuffed flying. I banged my head on something. I’ll send you


“Don’t send me pictures.” I shuttered.

A man’s voice interrupted, “You okay? I was on my way home.” His voice

was soothing, “I’m a firefighter. Careful, you’re covered in glass.”

I heard sirens in the distance, then an EMT asked Sam the usual questions, his

name and birthdate. 

“Do I need to get on a plane?” I shouted out.

There was a moment of silence.

“I don’t think so, ma’am.”

Suddenly my doorbell rang. It was my dear friend Michelle holding a bottle of wine.

“I hear you need this. You texted Lindsay, who texted Emma, who told me.”

No surprise, our daughter’s express chain works best.

“Mom, the cop is giving me a speeding ticket.”

“Were you?” If he was going to be okay, I was going kill him. “How can the cop tell from my skid marks?”

“They can tell.”

“Good news, my bike is okay.”

“Was it on the bike rack?”


“Thank God. That mountain bike costs more than the car.”

“They want me to go to the hospital. Can I ride with my friends? The ambulance is


“Sam, get in the ambulance.” My voice cracked.

“Mom, don’t cry. I’m okay. I can tell you’re going to cry.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! Now is exactly the time moms cry. It would be weird if I didn’t


We all got inside the ambulance. By that, I mean Sam physically, and me resting in the

palm of his hand. I felt like Senor Wences’ Pedro, the talking head in the box who would answer, “s’alright? S’alright.”

The conversation inside the ambulance was about the bike trails.

“Really? They’re rushing my baby to the hospital and talking about trails?” I joked

with Michelle.

The ER nurse greeted us. “Hello, Samuel. Are you allergic to any medications?” 



“Have you had a CT scan before?”

“Yes,” Sam answered.


“Are you sure, Mom?”

“You’ve had many x-rays but not that.”

Michelle and I drank more wine while I held my cell phone in the palm of my


“How much charge do you have on that phone?” I asked Sam.

“A lot. I’ll call you back.”

It was the doctor this time. “He’s fortunate. The CT scan is clear, just a head gash. We’ll put a couple of staples in there and send him on his way.”

And that was that.

On Monday, Sam went to Ace’s Junk Yard.

“Hello ma’am, you have two options here. Pay for the tow here and storage, which is $950, and you keep your car. Or you can pay for the tow only, which is $300, and sign the pink slip over to me.”

“Really? Can we salvage the four brand-new tires?” I protested.

“Nope. It’s not drivable.”

“Pink slip it is.”

There was a lot of good memories with that twenty-year-old car for it to come to such

a violent end. Cars take on human personas. We name them. In the end, Sydney wrapped its doors around Sam and protected him at the cost of its own life. 

Sam would have to deal with one other person, his sister. “SAM! You crashed our car?” Lindsay snarled.

Sam posted a photo with the caption, “RIP Sydney.”

True. I’m grateful. I can buy another car.

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Bucket List

My cousin Shannon called me, “My friend Beth is organizing a safari in South Africa this September. Wanna go?”

My jaw dropped and my eyes whizzed around like a cartoon character, “Would I ever!”

Everyone has a bucket list destination like Asia, Egypt or Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard in Waterbury, VT. For me, it’s Africa. But, before I could commit, logistics needed to be worked out. I had kids going to colleges, and who could house-sit for me? 

Sam announced, “My college move-in date is August 10th.”

Lindsay added, “Mine is August 20th.”

Jack finished with, “I’m moving back home in August.”

Like falling dominoes, all the roadblocks were knocked down. I pulled out the globe. Holy crap! South Africa is at the bottom of the planet.

Shannon and I don’t talk to each other daily, but every time we do, it’s as if no time has passed. 

On takeoff morning, I raced into the airport frantically texting Shannon, “Where are you?”

“We’re at gate 5B.”

I checked in clutching my boarding pass and passport, passing through TSA less than an hour before the flight, and dashed to 5B.

“It’s so nice to meet you. So excited you can join us,” Beth greeted me warmly. The Michael Kors sneakers she wore gave her the extra lift she needed to hug me properly. I was mindful not to put a mark on her darling lululemon leisure suit. I couldn’t help but notice how put together she was. Even her Covid prevention mask matched.

With just the hint of an English accent, she pointed out, “We’ve been here three hours. We didn’t want to miss the flight.”

“Oh. Anyone want a pre-flight cocktail?”

They both shook their head side to side.

“Alrighty then.”

The flight from Los Angeles to Doha took 16 hours. I slept most of the way with multiple glasses of wine and felt quite refreshed for our airport layover before flying to Johannesburg. 

“The shopping is great here,” Beth announced. 

We loaded our carry-on bags onto the trolley and strolled around. With Beth’s accent and words like trolley, I felt like I was in a Harry Potter movie. Shannon bought a beautiful scarf, and I picked up souvenirs for my kids. The Victoria’s Secret store caught Beth’s eye, “I’ll be right back.” She returned, clutching their store’s signature hot pink bag.

We flew to “JoBerg,” as the locals call it, and onto the bush, where we were whisked to our lodge. That’s where I met the other four members that would complete our safari party for the next eight days. 

“Drop your bags in your rooms. Hurry, for an evening safari,” Joe, our leader, called out.


Within the hour, we saw a pride of lions with the majestic male basking in the sunset. The jeep rumbled and stopped so we could gaze upon them until dark. 

Back at the lodge, we were greeted by Raymond, the manager. He stood about 6’4″ and weighed 100 pounds wet. With animated gestures, he began, “Who. Here. Is. In. Cabin. Number. 3?” 

“I am,” Beth said, moving up front.

“Oh well. The baboons broke into your room while you were on safari.”

Beth protested, “One moment, I locked my door.”

“They know how to break in.”

I imagined an unruly gang of baboons jimmying the lock open with a credit card.

“No matter. They had a grand ol’ time, ripped apart your bed sheets, tore down the curtains, and pooped on your clothing. Don’t worry. Everything is being laundered. You are now in room 10.”

As Raymond spoke, I looked around his right elbow and spotted a baboon running across the grounds. He was hard to miss, carrying a cookie jar from the room, a hot pink bag and wearing a pair of panties on his head.

What have I gotten myself into?

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My last two kids have gone off to college, so I am officially an empty nester. Everyone keeps asking me, “What are you going to do now that you are all alone?”

Without thinking twice, I replied, “Run around the house naked!”

What an odd proclamation. I’m already home alone a lot, and never once has the urge come over me to rip off my clothes and do some Bohemian dance au naturel.

Although I’m not sure why this kind of exposure feels so exciting, there was a time when it seemed I was constantly getting caught naked. Never once my fault. I’m not an exhibitionist by any means. 

Years ago, we remodeled our bathroom. I liked showing it off to whoever would ask for a peep show.

My young son, Jack picked up on that and one morning, while I was taking a hot shower, the bathroom door popped open without warning. One by one, Jack escorted his sleepover buddies inside. 

“This is my Mom’s new bathroom. She’s very proud of it.”

As the perfect docent, Jack told his friends about the design choices, the subway tile with ocean blue glass trim, and the matching towels. Damn, I wish I hadn’t spent that extra money on shower doors that don’t steam up! His friends stood around, horrified.

Naturally, I was proud of his presentation, but the tiny washcloth wasn’t doing much to hide me. I tried only to expose my backside while screaming, “Get out!”

Then, there was that time on a warm Sunday evening in March. Out of the blue, my then young children decided it would be hilarious to go skinning-dipping in our pool. Without any hesitation, they whipped off their clothes and jumped.

I put one toe in the water and immediately decided there was no way I would do the polar plunge. But their coaxing was relentless.

“C’mon, Mom. Don’t be a chicken,” they bated me.

I don’t know what came over me, but I tore off my shirt, intending to make the plunge. Still, the water was so cold, I only inched my way in as far as my waist, when suddenly, the back gate flew open. A couple with their kids, who were friends from school, were coming in the backyard.

“We were just walking by and heard the splashing and laughter, so we thought we’d stop in and say, AAAHHHH!” he shouted, while attempting to shield his children’s eyes.

While scurrying back out, the dad shouted over his shoulder, “We’d like to see more of you in the future.”

“I don’t think that’s possible. You’ve seen more than most,” I retorted.

To this day, whenever I run into them, they politely admit they never saw anything at the skinny-dipping incident. Liars. 

Hmmm. The naked truth came down to this: without the risk of getting caught, the thrill was dwindling. I needed to think of something more daring to do with my new found freedom.

Like a premonition, my phone vibrated with a text from my cousin. “Do you want to go on safari in South Africa with me?”

And there it was.

“Yes,” I texted back.


Looks like I’m going to South Africa…  

Fully Clothed!

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Sod Off

I know we are in a drought, and a lawn is frowned upon, but I already own one that has a bare patch.

At the Home Depot, they sell rolls of sod grass. Each roll is about three feet by five feet and weigh about seventy pounds. I bought five rolls, the perfect amount to fix the problem.

I pulled the family SUV alongside the booth filled with sod rolls. When I opened the back hatch, I discovered that my kids had taken every inch of space with various things: a golf bag, biking helmets, wheels, a bike pump, and camping equipment. The list was endless. No worries, I’ll just put the grass in the passenger seat.

Hmmm, a glitch, the back door doesn’t stay open on its own anymore. Not to be deterred, I took a deep breath, reached over, and hoisted up the first roll while keeping the door open with my left foot. Suddenly I realized how unruly it was and much heavier than I anticipated. 

Seconds into this limbo dance, I surmised this was not a great idea. I was moving in slow motion. The sod roll began to unravel. I let go of the foothold on the car door to regain control of the roll. It was too late. The sod was unrolling down my body, and I couldn’t catch it. I lowered myself to the asphalt until I landed flat out in the parking lot with this roll of grass covering my body from my chin down to my feet. The weight of it pressed against me.

A man walked by and muttered loudly, “nice parking job.”

“Hey! There’s a person down here!” I shouted to no avail.

On this busy Saturday morning, men, women, children, and dogs walked around me, beside me, and barely missing my head. Ironically most were already looking down, focused on their cell phones. Have we become so oblivious to the world around us that we don’t notice a woman lying, covered in grass? Did they think I was a putting green in the parking lot?

And just like that. As. If. On. Cue. I looked up, and there was an old boyfriend.

“Leslie, is that you?” He asked, glancing down at me.

“Yes. It’s been a while.” I batted my eyelashes coquettishly.

“Here, let me help you.”

“No thanks, I’m good.” I was too embarrassed, “I’m doing a silent protest against global warming. Good to see you.” I lied on all counts.

“Take care.” He walked away.

Before I had any more unpleasant encounters, I slowly tried lifting the sod. I need to do more work on my core. It took some doing, but I finally got it off of me. But not without it leaving remnants of dirt all over my face and clothes.

From nowhere, a young man appeared wearing an orange vest, “Ma’am, do you need some help?” he asked me.

God, I hate being called ma’am!

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Driving Miss Crazy

This year the registration on my 2002 Acura required a smog test. I wasn’t concerned. I meticulously maintain my car.

“What do you mean it didn’t pass?” I questioned the attendant as if he had just told me my child had failed a physical education test.

“I’m sorry but the regulations have become more difficult for these older cars. Go have it checked out and then come back.” He said.

I immediately went to my trusted mechanic and told him of my plight. He hooked it up to a life support machine. “You need a new air compressor. I’ll fix it.”

When I returned, he hooked it up to the machine, “Just checking that it will pass. Hmmm no, see where the air is good, but the catalytic converter will not pass.”

“What does that mean?”

“You have to drive it for 50 miles then come back to me. But you have to drive it fast. And don’t stop.”

What kind of witchcraft auto repair was this? Drive a broken car to fix it? I hopped onto the only freeway that was pretty clear that time of day and drove 65 MPH. As soon as I reached 50 miles I headed back to the mechanic. By now it was 5:30 and he was closing.

“Come back tomorrow morning and I check it for you.”

“But I’ve been driving it like mad.”

“It’s okay.”

But it wasn’t okay. The following morning it failed again.

“Go drive another 50 miles, fast and steady.” 

Crazy talk. Maybe we should swing a dead chicken over it.

Even though I was becoming weary of this process, I drove my 50 miles and returned to the mechanic that afternoon. 

He plugged in his little red machine, “You must keep driving it’s not cleared yet. Go now. 50 miles. Then come back.”

With this amount of driving coupled with the cost of gas being what it is, I could buy a new car. I let out an audible sigh. Where was I going to be able to drive fast and steady for 50 miles in heavy afternoon traffic? Then I remembered New York Drive with its multiple lanes and wide-open space. And so, I traveled up and down the 3-mile loop at top speed, dodging cars and pushing through yellow lights. Waving my arms and honking, “I’ve got to keep driving! Can’t stop!” Other drivers glared at me as if I was filming Speed 3. Up and back, over and over and over for an hour and a half until I reached that magical 50-mile mark. Alas, it was all in vain. 

Time was of the essence; soon late fines would start piling up. I needed a guy. Everyone has a special mechanic guy. I put the word out.

“I gotta car guru for you,” Greg answered.

Perfect. I drove down to his mechanic’s shop where he was expecting me. I, on the other hand, was not expecting what I saw. This old man dawdling over to my car was the doppelganger to Billy Chrystal’s, Miracle Max in Princess Bride. 

“Pop za hood.”

“Ok.” I did as I was told.

There was a lot of banging noises for about 10 minutes and the car shook a couple of times before the hood slammed shut.

“It will pass. No charge. You must go right now.”

I bolted out of there and headed to the smog test sight, but not before checking my rearview mirror for a lifeless chicken that had possibly been swung over my car’s engine.

It passed. I will never question voodoo mechanics again.

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Be Boulder

My son Sam and I were off to Colorado to tour three colleges campuses in three days.

We flew from Burbank Airport to Denver arriving at 11:00 a.m. 

“Let’s rent a Mustang convertible,” Sam coaxed.

“No, this is our covered wagon. Grand Junction, here we come,” I announced getting into the rented Ford Expedition. “We’re part of the Wild West son.”

We took turns driving and napping until we arrived at Colorado Mesa University. This sporty university suited him like a saddle on a horse.

After that tour, Sam started driving as we pushed on to Durango. The long highway stretched as far as the eye could see. At 85 MPH we had the dust at our heels. 

Sam saw the police car hidden on the roadside before I did. A well-trained eye I’m guessing. He slammed on the breaks, testing their limits, as we entered this small town’s limits. The speed limit signs rapidly decreased from 65 MPH to 55 MPH, down to 45 MPH.

Immediately, the flashing lights pulled us over.

“Hello officer,” I stuck my head over leaning in front of Sam. “We’re from California, here touring colleges, on our way to Durango, and were lost,” I said batting my eyelashes.

“Mom, the map’s right there.”

“Do you know you were speeding?” He asked Sam. “I clocked you doing 67 in a 55.”

“Thank God!” I spurted, “not 85.”

“I see this is a rental car.”

“Oh, do you now?” said the fly to the spider.

The officer gave Sam the ticket. “It’s a hundred dollars. If you pay it within ten days you’ll only get 2 points on your record, not 4.”

“So this is a speed trap!” I protested.

“Mom, he’s holding my driver’s license!”

The officer ignored me, “If you’re lost, the most direct way is through the Red Mountain Pass.”

I released my seatbelt, “I think I’ll drive from here.”

It was 6:30 in the evening and the sun sets at 7:45. The road narrowed to one lane in each direction, snaking along with sharp, hairpin turns. No guard rails. No street lights. No other cars. Sixty-foot drops. The sun was sinking below the mountains, casting an eerie glow. I powered my way up.

I glanced over at Sam who was curled up on the passenger seat, napping. Wow, time flies.

Suddenly, the road turned sharply. I jerked the car to the right to avoid taking a Wile E. Coyote plunge. The brakes screeched, waking him up.

“AAAHHH!” Sam screamed. “Slow down! You’re going to kill us!”

My heart raced while I floored it, as if we were chased by a bounty hunter.

Butch, who are those guys?  

On the other side of the Rocky Mountains, the road was pitch black, but straight.

We arrived in Durango at 11:00 p.m. and found a hotel and a market. We bought fried chicken, mac and cheese, cookies, and a much-needed, watered-down 6-pack of beer.

In the morning, I packed the remaining full bottles. Sam posted a photo, “Traveling with my mom.”

“Wow. You drove through Red Mountain?” The campus guides were impressed. “It’s known as the most treacherous pass in the United States.”

The college in Durango was lovely, small, not a good fit for Sam.

Onward. Eight hours of driving later, we arrived at the University of Colorado, Boulder for our final tour. My God, it’s a beautiful campus!

I’m proud of Sam’s acceptance to this wonderful institution. Unfortunately, the tuition is about the same as buying a house.

Here is my advice to parents, don’t take your kid to the Ferrari dealership when you’re buying a Honda.

As I have always known, the perfect school finds the perfect kid. Colorado Mesa University here we come! Ye-Ha!

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Bee’s Knees

I had a brilliant idea! As an add-on to a previously scheduled trip to Milwaukee, I decided to take the twins to Chicago. This way my daughter Lindsay could tour DePaul University and Sam could enjoy the city. 

In the morning, Lindsay and I left for DePaul, leaving Sam on his own. He texted me a picture of a large stack of cinnamon roll pancakes.

“I feel like a kid in a big city.”

“Sam, you are a kid in a big city.”

We toured the campus while, Sam posted on TikTok riding the Ferris Wheel, visiting the Bean, living Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

By the afternoon, we were finished with our tours and they boarded the 5:08 train to Milwaukee. 

“What a waste,” I thought, “alone in a hotel room in Chicago, on a Friday night.”

There was a happening bar in the adjacent hotel. Why not? I crossed the street I saddled up to the only available stool and ordered a Bee’s Knees. This was a $35 cocktail that consisted of vodka and honey floating around a large honeycombed ice cube.

“What is that?” the woman next to me inquired.

Bee’s Knees,” I replied, grateful for the interaction.

We began buzzing and chatting like old friends. She told me her story of a failed marriage and suffering multiple online dating mishaps. One night, she had simply given up on love. That same night, she received a private message from a high school friend that she had reconnected with on FaceBook. He took a shot and asked his high school crush out on a date, 30 years after graduation. They have been together ever since. Her story made this Queen Bee smile.

After we enjoyed a couple of cocktails, she flew off for dinner. I stayed behind and finished my Bee’s Knees, pretending I was in fact the bee’s knees and rich. I would have left with her, but I didn’t want to get caught going back to my hotel.

Suddenly, Bob swarmed into the vacant stool. 

“I’ll have a scotch rocks and another of whatever the lovely lady next to me is having.”  


We struck up a pleasant conversation. I noticed his wedding band, which put me at ease. He talked about his wife and bragged about paying for his daughter’s education at NYU. Then he gave me his business card. When I took the card, I noticed his room key was slipped underneath it.  

“Well Honey.”

“What is that?” My stinger came out. Although, I must admit, I was a bit flattered for a nanosecond. “Ugh! No, thank you.” 

I bee lined it back to my hotel.

The next morning, I took an UBER to the airport. The driver was a kid not much older than my son, Jack, maybe 26. We talked the entire way to the airport about colleges. It broke my heart when he told me his story that he finished college but couldn’t get his degree because he owed $5,000. He was driving an UBER in the hopes of returning to his dream. I wish I could have written a check right there. If I couldn’t, I knew someone who could. 

I took a picture of his information card on the back of the seat.

Engulfed in a swarm of revenge, I texted it to the number on that jerk’s business card, “Hey Scum-Money bag. You should send this worthy kid $5,000 to redeem yourself.”

Live with waffletude.