Swine Before Pearls Tuesday, Mar 25 2014 

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Before I became an attorney, I had another vocation from the time I was a teenager until I graduated from college in my early 20s.  I was a hog farmer.  My daddy was primarily a cattle man, but he liked to dabble in hogs so he installed a trap on the back forty to catch the wild hogs that rooted up our pastures.    Once caught, the troublemaking hogs were given life sentences for destruction of property and sent to the pen – the hog pen, that is.

The hog pen was a metal cage with a concrete floor hidden behind a pole barn a few hundred feet behind our house.   Adjacent to the pole barn was a weathered, single-wide trailer that my family lived in for about a year after my brother Willie accidentally burned down the house while playing with daddy’s matches.  After our home was rebuilt, my family of seven moved back into the big house, and daddy converted the empty trailer into a shed where he stored his tools and 50-lb bags of corn feed for the hogs.

Daddy’s principal motivation for raising hogs, of course, was to fatten them up for supper, but they also served as a highly-efficient means of garbage disposal.  In my childhood naiveté, I thought everybody had a few bloated pigs out back and kept a large pot with a dented lid in the kitchen full of fermenting food scraps.

It wasn’t until I was about 11 years old that I first encountered an electronic garbage disposal in a hotel kitchenette while we were on vacation.  After stuffing Snickers wrappers and paper towels down the sink for a couple days and flipping the switch to hear the garbage disposal whir and grind, my mom discovered my faux pas and enlightened me on the contraption’s proper use.  It was one of the many aha! moments I would have as I began to realize just how bizarre our way of life was compared to everyone else’s.

My brother Will and one of the wild hogs on our property.

My brother Will and one of the wild hogs on our property.

If nothing else, being a hog farmer taught me humility.  Every day I’d pull on a pair of black rubber boots and cut across the backyard until I reached the gate to the dirt lane that led to the back of our property.  Before I even approached the gate, I could smell the nauseating stench of the hog pen, but I had a job to do so I’d remove the rusty chain to open the gate and round the corner behind the pole barn to get to the hogs.

To feed the hogs, I would push in the metal grate that was hung on hinges at the top of the pen with one hand and slop the contents of the scrap pot and feed bucket into the hogs’ trough with the other.  It was not an easy undertaking.  As soon as I would open the grate, the hogs would stand on their hind legs and protrude their giant heads out of the top of the pen, maniacally screaming and chomping.  To keep from losing a limb, I had to smack the bloodthirsty hogs on the long bridge of their snouts to get them down long enough to empty their food in the trough.

While the hogs devoured their slop like it was their last meal on death row, I’d uncoil the green garden hose nearby and use its spray nozzle to fill the water basin and blast the excrement off the floor and the hogs’ bodies and wash it out into the shallow trench that was dug around the pen’s perimeter.  Frazzled from the heat of battle, I’d calm my nerves by smoking one of my daddy’s Salem regulars that I’d lifted from the end table next to his recliner.  While sneaking a smoke, I’d keep a look-out by peeking through a hole in the pole barn’s tin siding, then stash the butt in one of the ant lion traps that dotted the barn’s dirt floor.  When my work was done, I’d head back toward the house, stopping at an outdoor faucet to rinse out the scrap pot and wash the hog crap off my rubber boots before delicately placing the boots back inside the back door.

I’ve always heard that hogs have excellent hearing but ours must have been damn near clairvoyant because they always seemed to know when I was anywhere in the vicinity.  It didn’t matter if I tiptoed outside and carefully opened the door of the trailer with the stealth of a Navy Seal. If I so much as bent a blade of grass underfoot, the hogs would begin grunting and snorting wildly until their high-pitched squeals would crescendo into a deafening chorus.  “Shut up, hogs,” I’d sneer, but the only thing that would shut them up was a mouth full of slop.

I hated those hogs with a passion.  They were loud and stinky and mean, but who could blame them?   I could just imagine the carnage if I was trapped in a cramped space with three other fatties having to fight for my next meal.  Still, it was me against them so I went to war with the hogs every day at feeding time.

The older I got, the stronger the enmity grew between me and the demon pigs, until one day something happened that caused me to have a change of heart.

A severe thunderstorm swept over our house one night bringing with it torrential rain, wind, and lightning.  The following morning, I pulled on my rubber boots and headed out the back door to tend to the hogs.  I stepped into the trailer and began scooping corn into my bucket but something was amiss.  There was an eerie silence.  The only sound was the whisper of a light breeze rustling through the pine trees and mossy oaks.  Not a single oink or grunt could be heard.   With my bucket full, I unfastened the metal chain and let if fall against the steel gate with a loud clank but the hogs still did not make a peep.

When I rounded the corner toward the hog pen, I saw the hogs lying motionless on the concrete floor with their eyes wide open.  At first, I thought the hogs were dead, so I picked up a small branch that had fallen from an oak tree and poked their bodies through an opening in the side of the pen.  Nothing.  Then I grabbed the garden hose and sprayed the hogs with cold water but they did not flinch.  Finally, I opened the grate at the top of the hog pen and dumped the corn into the trough.  Some of the corn was actually laying on top of the pigs’ bodies but still they did not move.

Though catatonic, I knew the hogs were still alive because their dazed, glassy eyes would blink every few seconds and their stout bellies would rise and fall with each breath.   Confused and grief stricken, I began softly speaking to the pigs with the tenderness of a small child and crouched down in the shit trench so I could reach my right hand into the side of the pen to stroke the coarse hair on the hogs’ backs.

“Poor little pigs.  What happened to you?”

I took off running back toward the house, kicked off my boots, and ran to my daddy who was sitting in his recliner watching television.

“Daddy, daddy!  There’s something wrong with the pigs.  They can’t move and they won’t eat.  All they do is lie there with a stunned look on their faces.”

Sensing my urgency, daddy ambled out to the hog pen to investigate.  He studied the vegetative hogs for a few seconds and kicked the pen before delivering his diagnosis.

“Huh.  Well, I’ll be.  Lightning must have struck the pen last night during the storm and gave those pigs quite a jolt.  Hee hee.  They’ll be fine directly.”

“What?  Our hogs have been electrocuted and turned into 200 pound paper weights and you don’t think that’s a big deal?!”

Unfazed, my daddy returned inside, but I stayed by the hogs’ side a while longer, assuring them that I would not abandon them in their time of need.

In the days that followed, I took good care of the hogs.  I’d visit them a couple times a day, singing them songs, washing them with the hose and trying to coax them into eating something by pouring feed right next to their drooling, open mouths.  After a day or two, the hogs slowly began to show signs of life.  At first, there’d be the occasional tic of an ear here or the twitch of a curly tail there, but the hogs remained otherwise still, their long eyelashes shielding vacant stares.  A couple more days passed and the hogs began lifting their heads a few inches off the concrete slab and moving them from side to side as though their bodies were encased in concrete from the neck down.  Another day more and their upper bodies began gesticulating in spasms, and their enormous hams started to shimmy.

As the dumbstruck hogs improved, I’d cheer them on.

“Come on, hogs.  You’re doin’ it!  That’s it.  You’re gonna make it.”

Within a week of the storm, the hogs were standing and oinking and slowly began eating again.  Although the hogs may have looked normal to the untrained eye, I could tell they had suffered massive brain damage, leaving them with the sense of a fence post.

From then on, I felt only sympathy toward the hogs and their progeny.  Following my graduation from college, I came in from sloppin’ the hogs one day and placed my rubber boots at my daddy’s feet as he sat in his recliner.  I said, “I’m done,” and never went out to the hog pen again.

When I left home to attend law school, I traded in my feed bucket for a briefcase and my black rubber boots for a pair of black pumps.  Instead of using a slop pot, I had a bona fide, dee-luxe GE garbage disposal just like the one at the hotel I’d visited as a child.  Today, I live hundreds of miles, and light years away, from where I was raised and spend my days practicing law in a 23rd floor office in a bustling urban center.

Visiting a hog at a Gainesville farm while in law school.

Visiting a hog at a Gainesville farm while in law school.

Although my life has changed dramatically since my days as a hog farmer, I love to regale my uppity friends and colleagues over cocktails and business luncheons with tales of my first profession.  I guess you could say I’ve come a long way from where I started, but I’m proud of where I came from, and I’ll never, ever forget those hogs.

These days, I prefer pearls to swine.

These days, I prefer pearls to swine.

My daughter Madison on her 1st Halloween.

 

Blind Date Chronicles: The Dairy Farmer Sunday, Sep 23 2012 


Have you ever been on a blind date?  If so, have you ever been on a blind date with such a mismatched suitor that the whole ordeal is seared in your brain like a brand on a cow’s hide?  I have.

When I was in my early 20s, I went out on a lot of blind dates.  As a young woman who worked full-time, attended college on evenings, and faithfully attended church on Sunday (and choir practice on Wednesday night), I was a busy gal with no time to date.  Also, no one ever asked me out … something about being 6 foot tall and intimidating (which was code for “scary bitch,” I guess).

My family of eight lived out in the country, about ten miles outside of town.  To get to our house, you had to travel down a mile-long, washboard dirt road.  On your journey, there was a good chance you’d get chased by the Tuckers’ mean dog and pass a stray chicken pecking on the roadside.  Our modest, one-story ranch home was surrounded by hundred year-old mossy oak trees and fifty acres of pasture land.  We always had a herd of cattle and a variety of other farm animals, including hogs, turkeys, dogs, and wild cats to keep the mice out of the barn.

My four older siblings had married young and scattered off to distant lands to start their own families (all within a five-mile radius of our homestead).   At the time our story takes place, my little sister Michelle and I were the last hold-outs still living at home with our parents, Mattie Pearl and Earl.  I was 20 and Michelle was 13.

There were a lot of people in my life who were concerned about my reaching the ancient age of 20 with no man in sight and a deviant attraction to books over boys.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like men and didn’t want to date.  I did!  But the available dating pool in my neck of the woods was (how shall I put this gently) … shallow.  My kinfolk had been farming in our county for so many generations that I was probably a distant relative to just about anyone who lived east of the Interstate.   Also, to be honest, despite my pride in my Florida Cracker heritage, I recoiled at the idea of dating a chauvinistic cowboy like my daddy.  At the same time, the archetype of the Quintessential Southern Gentleman had been so drilled into my head due to my raising that I wasn’t interested in dating a jock or a surfer dude either.

When people asked, “What’s your type?,” I’d usually say, “Educated lumberjack.”  Basically, I wanted a manly man who could wield an ax and read the Wall Street Journal.  Someone brilliant, witty, and ruggedly handsome with the charm of Elvis and the morals of Billy Graham.  Someone who could play classical piano, build a log cabin, speak fluent French, herd cattle, dabble in high finance, and sing Gaither hymns with me on Sunday — in other words, someone who did not exist, except in my own mind.

Coming from a very devout Southern Baptist family, I spent a lot of time at my small country church, so it was only a matter of time before my dating life (or lack thereof) became the target of two well-meaning ladies in my mama’s prayer circle – Miss Ruby and Granny Duffy.   Granny Duffy was the matriarch of our church.  A pioneer woman in her 90s, Granny Duffy was greatly respected as one of the church’s founding members.  No one said no to Granny Duffy.  Miss Ruby helped take care of Granny Duffy at her sprawling ranch home during the week because Granny Duffy’s advanced years had taken a little spring out of her step, but had not dimmed the sparkle in her eye.

One day, when Miss Ruby was at Granny Duffy’s house, a young man stopped by to deliver several bales of hay for Granny Duffy’s horses.  He was a dairy farmer from a good family who attended another Baptist church a few miles down the road.  He was 22 and, as Miss Ruby and Granny Duffy made sure to find out, he was single.  That’s when Miss Ruby and Granny Duffy hatched a scheme to set Mattie Pearl’s spinster daughter up on a blind date.

A week later, I was sitting at home minding my own business when the telephone rang.  This was back in the day before caller ID, so I had no clue who was calling but I answered anyway.

Hello?”

May I speak to Marilyn, please?”

This is she.”

Hey, Marilyn.  This is Harley Pickens from Pickens Dairy.”  

Um, who?  How’d you get this number?”

I looked you up in the phone book.”

Wh-wh-why, why would you do that?”

I’m friends with Granny Duffy from your church.”

“You don’t say.” 

“Yeah, and she mentioned that you’re a real nice Christian girl.”

Oh, she did, did she? 

“She sure did and she told me what a good mama you have.”

“And …?”

Anyway, so I was wondering … Would you like to go out on a date with me sometime?

Talk about being put on the spot!  Telemarketers I could handle, but a cold call from a dairy farmer?!  Sure, I could say no to him but, like I said, nobody ever said no to Granny Duffy.  She had encouraged this man to call me, and he had no idea what kind of untamed shrew he was up against.  Even worse, she had told him what a sweet Christian young lady I was so the bar for my behavior was set astronomically high.   If I declined his request for a date, I knew it would soon get back to my mama’s prayer circle, so I had a Hobson’s choice:  risk offending the matriarch of our church and embarrassing my mama in front of her friends, or go on a blind date with Harley Pickens.  Being the good girl that I was (at least in Granny Duffy’s eyes), I agreed to go out with Harley.

Sure, Harley, I’ll go out on a date with you.”

You will?  That’s great!  I’ll pick you up on Saturday at 6:30.  Oh, by the way, what do you look like?”

I’m about six feet tall, with dark brown hair and blue eyes.  What about you?

I’m about five foot ten and bald.  See you on Saturday!”

Wait … what?  Did you say bald?”

Unfortunately, Harley had already hung up the telephone and left me with nothing but a dial tone.   I was very nervous at the prospect of going out with anyone I’d never met, much less a bald dairy farmer named Harley, but I was trapped.  I started doubting myself.  Did he really say bald or am I just so jaded and pessimistic that I just thought he said that?   Because everybody knew everybody out where I lived, I called my oldest sister Melanie, who was nine years my senior, for some intel on Mr. Pickens.

Hey, Melanie.  This is Marilyn.  I just got asked out on a blind date by Harley Pickens from Pickens Dairy.

That’s great!  I went to school with his sisters.”

You did?”

Yes, he’s really cute too.”

He is?  He told me he’s bald.”

Bald?  Lord no.  He’s blond.”

Are you sure he’s blond, not bald?

Yes, I’m sure.  I’ve been knowing him since he was a little boy.”

(laughing)  “Phew!  My overactive imagination almost got the better of me ’cause I could have sworn he said he was bald.”

Nope, he’s blond.  Let me know how your date goes.”

I will.  Thanks.”

When Saturday evening came, I doused my already big hair with a can of Aqua Net, got gussied up in my best preppy attire, and sat in my living room as I waited for Harley.  Much to my displeasure,  Michelle decided to wait with me and teased me relentlessly about my impending date.  “Marilyn going out on a blind date with a dairy farmer?  That’s rich!  Ba ha ha ha ha.  I gotta see this.”  As Michelle continued to torment me, I looked out the screen window facing our front yard and the winding road just beyond.  In the distance, I could see a monster truck hauling ass down our dirt road followed by a huge billowing dust cloud.  Still a half mile away, I could hear the thunderous roar of the truck’s engine and see that the cab of the truck was perched perilously high atop giant mudder tires.

Gripped by fear, I began murmuring.  “No, no, no, this isn’t happening.”  Michelle ran over to the window and, laughing hysterically, started yelling, “Yeehaw!  Look at him go!  Look at him go!” in her best Southern accent.  I  hollered, “Shut up, Michelle!,” as I paced back and forth on the shag carpet.  The mushroom cloud of dust got closer and closer.  I decided there was no way in Hell I was gonna let Harley come in my house and find my bratty little sister rolling on the floor belly laughing, so I hurried outside to beat him to my front door.

As I sailed out of the house at a furious pace, Harley was slowly sauntering toward the house.  “Hey, you must be Marilyn.”

Before me stood Harley Pickens.  He was wearing a long-sleeved, plaid shirt with pearl buttons and Western stitching; dark blue, skin tight Wrangler jeans; and cowboy boots.  A silver belt buckle the size of a hubcap adorned his mid-section, and he was bald as a cue ball.

Harley chivalrously escorted me back to the truck and opened the passenger side door.  After wincing when I noticed Harley’s name embossed on the back of his belt, I surveyed the vast distance between the ground and the bench seat in the truck’s cab and wondered how the heck I was going to get up there without a system of pulleys and a hydraulic lift.  I grabbed onto the door frame and slung my right leg up as high as a Rockette but, even after several tries, I could not stick the landing.  Thankful that I had opted against wearing a dress, I was mortified that, even at six feet tall, I couldn’t seem to hoist myself into Harley’s blasted truck.  As I tried again to pull myself up, Harley offered to give my derriere a push, so I mustered all of the strength I had and hurled myself face-first into that truck to avoid such an indignity.

Harley turned to walk toward the driver’s side of the truck.  While he had his back turned to the house, I glanced up and saw Michelle glued to the front window like a Garfield suction cup toy, her head back, mouth wide open, and face distorted in maniacal laughter.  I shot her my most menacing look, mouthed a few curse words I hoped she could decipher, and flailed my arms at her like a deranged traffic guard in the hopes of shooing her away from the window before Harley saw her.  Harley backed out of the front yard and we headed toward town for our date.

The ride to town was surreal.  I tried to be pleasant and make small talk, but every time Harley shifted that old-fashioned, four-on-the floor manual gear shift and let out the clutch, the truck would stall and lurch, causing my head to snap forward and then slam back onto a protruding arm of the gun rack full of rifles in the truck’s rear window.  I hoped I would not lose consciousness from a gaping head wound by the time we made it to dinner.

Driving with his window down, which blew my naturally wavy, well-coiffed ‘do into an Afro, Harley asked me what I liked to do in my spare time.

Oh, I love to travel. ”

Where ya been?”

I’ve been to London, Paris, and Rome.”

Yeah, I like to travel too.  Every summer me and my buddies go up to a fishing camp in Alabama to catch some bass.”

Oh, brother.

I told Harley how I was majoring in political science and working as a legal secretary while I put myself through college, and of my interest in law and the French language.  In turn, he told me of his interest in hunting and Holsteins.

When we finally arrived at the restaurant, I couldn’t wait to get inside.  The waiter came to our table and I immediately ordered a chicken Caesar salad and a Diet Coke in the hopes of rushing things along.  Harley sat across from me telling me about his life, and I just sat there wondering why I had ever answered that telephone.  Perhaps sensing my discomfort, Harley asked me why I’d accepted his offer to go out on a date.  I told him how much I respected Granny Duffy and that I knew it took major cojones for him to cold call me out of a phone book when he had never seen me before and knew nothing about me.  I went on to confess that I didn’t think we had much in common, and Harley shook his head in agreement.

I don’t know why Granny Duffy wanted to put us together.  I’m a dairy farmer, and I think you’re gonna be the first female President of the United States.”

Aw, shucks, Harley.  He had a point.  Seriously, no offense to Granny Duffy, but in what universe would I be compatible with Harley Pickens?  Sure, I lived on a farm and had to stomp around in rubber boots sloppin’ hogs, but I always addressed our swine in French and kept that aspect of my life well-hidden.  I bet I was the only country girl who listened to a cassette tape of Puccini on her boombox and read the United States Tax Code for fun.  Heck, I didn’t even own a pair of moccasins and never advertised my name on my accessories, so why was I on this date?!

Less than an hour after arriving at the restaurant, we had finished our meal and I asked Harley to drive me home.  The ride back to my house was mercifully quiet, except for the howling engine, and  I managed to protect what was left of my skull from further gun rack-induced injury.  When the monster truck slowly rolled to a stop in my front yard, I pushed down the long silver door handle and leaped out of the sky-high cab, saying “Thank you, Harley” and waving goodbye as I sprinted for the door.  Michelle met me at the door with a big grin, and we spent the rest of the evening laughing and sharing all the details of my blind date.  Later, I called Melanie to give her a piece of my mind for leading me to believe that Harley had a full head of blond hair, and she explained, a little too late, that she had not actually laid eyes on Harley since he was six years old.

The following year, I heard a rumor that Harley was going around town telling people we used to be an “item” but it didn’t work out because I was one of those girls who was more interested in going to college and having a career than settling down.  You can say that again, Harley.  You can say that again.

The Night I Almost Got Arrested … by a Bike Cop Monday, Sep 3 2012 

BikeCop Adventure Logo

The main reason I started this blog was to have a place to write the many stories I like to tell over and over.  One of the best, and oft-repeated, stories I tell has to do with the night I almost went to jail.

About 10 years ago, several years before I had my daughter and long before I met my husband, I was living la vida loca in downtown Orlando.   I had relocated to Central Florida two years earlier to take a job clerking for a federal judge, leaving my home town and my job as a prosecuting attorney behind.  At the time our story takes place, I was 31 and working at one of the largest law firms in Florida.  Life was pretty sweet.  My apartment complex — which made Melrose Place look tame in comparison — was positioned on Lake Eola overlooking the well-recognized fountain that has become synonymous with the City Beautiful.

Lake Eola Fountain

Two of my neighbors, let’s call them Chris and Al (because their names are Chris and Al), lived in a spacious two-bedroom apartment right next to the pool.  Their second-floor apartment had French doors that opened up to a small balcony from where you could behold the majestic lake, a view of the skyline, lush foliage and, of course, the pool.  Chris and Al had painted their apartment in an array of masculine colors — navy, maroon, hunter green, and the like — and dubbed their abode the “Crayola Tree House.”

One Friday night, I heard Chris and Al were having a party and, being the social butterfly I was back then, I went to check it out.  It was already past 9:00 p.m. when I sashayed into the Crayola Tree House.  The joint was hoppin’.  There were throngs of people there, the music was thumping, and the drinks were flowing.  I downed two (or maybe it was three) cosmopolitans to whet my whistle and was in full-on meet-n-greet mode when, all of a sudden, I heard people yelling my name from the general direction of the balcony.

Is Marilyn here?  Does anyone know Marilyn?  Chris needs her!  He’s being arrested!”

I skedaddled out to the balcony as fast as I could and peered over the railing to see what all the commotion was about.  Although my vision was obscured by the poor lighting (and blurred by the vodka), I could see below the outline of my neighbor Chris, the co-host of this fine party, seated in a chair next to the pool.  A man in dark clothing was standing over him, and a small group of onlookers had gathered nearby.

I stashed my martini on a bookshelf for safekeeping and dashed down the stairs to Chris’ aid.  As I entered the pool area, I noticed that the man standing over Chris was wearing skin-tight Spandex shorts, a polo shirt, and sneakers.  The back of the man’s shirt had the letters P-O- L- I- C-E in large white letters, and there was a bicycle parked a few feet away.  It was then that I realized that Chris had been busted by that curious species of law enforcement officer I had never encountered during my days as a prosecutor – the bike cop.  Even more curious than the sight of a police officer in Spandex was the sight of Chris, sitting ever so gingerly with his legs tightly crossed, soaking wet, and wearing nothing but a towel draped around his shoulders.

Having no clue what the heck was going on, silly me decided to ask the officer a few questions to get to the bottom of this.

Why, hey there, Ossifferr, what seems to be the problem here?” 

HALT!  DO NOT COME ANY CLOSER!”

It’s okay.  I’m his attorney.  (hiccup)  Why are you arresting him?”  

STAND BACK!  YOU ARE OBSTRUCTING MY INVESTIGATION.  IF YOU COME ANOTHER STEP FORWARD, I WILL PLACE YOU UNDER ARREST!” 

Okay, so here’s where I found myself in a bit of a sticky thicket.  On one hand, I’ve got a Neanderthal bike cop with a major attitude just itching to arrest a snarky girl-lawyer in club-troll attire who dared to question his actions.  On the other hand, I used to work with law enforcement all the time and knew that, despite the many dedicated police officers I had the pleasure of knowing, there were some unhinged egomaniacs with a badge out there who would wipe their asses with the Bill of Rights if it suited their agenda.

Stop right there.  I know what some of you are thinking.  “She’s a left-wing sympathizer who works for the Innocence Project and has Danny Rollins for a pen pal.”  No, far from it.  I was not, nor had I ever been, a card-carrying member of the ACLU or even a criminal defense attorney.   Rather, I was what you might call the “Law and Order” type of gal who pretty much assumed that you were guilty (in my mind at least) until proven innocent.  I’d never had any run-ins with the Po-Po other than a speeding ticket.  Heck, I had even earned the nickname “Maximum Marilyn” when I was a prosecutor for the enthusiasm with which I executed the duties of my office.  Still, this bike cop didn’t know me from Eve, and I fully understood how he and his ilk got their jollies off throwing uppity back-talkers in the slammer for a night, regardless of whether the arrest would pass constitutional muster by dawn’s early light.  Yep, any sane person in my high-heeled shoes would have shut up, stood back, and butted out.  So I persisted …

Why are you arresting this man?  What has he done?”

That’s it!  You’re going downtown.”

For what?”

Obstruction of justice.”

Oh, really?  I used to be an assistant state attorney, Bike Officer.  I know the law.”

What’s your bar number?”

What’s your badge number, Bike Officer, or do you need to consult your bike decal?”

You’re under arrest.”

Under arrest!  For what?  A violation of Chapter 843.02 of the Florida Statutes?  Whoever obstructs or opposes a law enforcement officer in the  lawful execution of a legal duty is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree?  Is that what you think you’re arresting me for?  I DON’T THINK SO, Bike Officer!   Your investigation is OVER.   My client has already been arrested and he’s in cuffs.  You can’t arrest a lawyer for asking you a simple question.  Now, Bike Officer, tell me, what are you charging him with?

At this point in time, the hamster wheel in my alcohol-numbed brain was spinning frantically.  My heart was pounding.  Perhaps it wasn’t so wise to disparage a police officer — who had the full weight and authority of the government, not to mention a loaded handgun — and demean his nifty bike in front of an audience.  Poor Chris just sat there, naked as a jay bird, legs still firmly pressed together, his mouth agape in disbelief, as he watched the spectacle unfold before him.  Oh, yeah, I was taking the ride to jail that night for sure, although I wondered how Chris and I would both fit on the handlebars.

As the officer began marching toward me with a menacing look, I had two options:  (1) beg for mercy or (2) go all crazy lawyer on him.   Of course, I chose option number two.

Emboldened by a good buzz, I summoned my inner-scary-bitch and dared that officer to arrest me.  “Ever heard of Section 1983 of the United States Code, Bike Officer?  Do you own anything, Bike Officer?  Do you ever hope to own anything?  Because I’m going to sue your ass off, Bike Officer, and I’m gonna own you, your house, your car, and your damn bicycle.   You better think long and hard about what you’re doing before you abuse your power and illegally arrest me in front of all these witnesses.”

[Note:  Any lawyer worth his or her salt knows that the police have virtually unfettered discretion to arrest people illegally, thanks to a little something we like to call qualified immunity.  In other words, I was bluffing BIG TIME.]

The officer walked right up to me, said, “Your guy is going to jail,” and proceeded out of the gate to meet a uniformed police officer who had just arrived in a patrol car.  The officers took Chris into custody, wrapping a towel around his nether region before leading him away.

As they walked by me, I yelled out, “I’m invoking his right to counsel and his right to remain silent, Bike Officer.  Chris, don’t say anything.  I’ll come bail you out.”

A short while later, Al drove me down to the jail so I could post bail for Chris.  After Al and I nearly rolled on the floor of the booking department laughing over Chris’ hilarious naked, wet, drunken mug shot, I was finally able to talk to Chris.  He was sick with worry — not for himself, mind you, but for ME!  Apparently, the Bike Officer, in complete derogation of the Fifth Amendment, went in and told Chris how he’d checked up on his lawyer and found out that I was an attorney at a civil law firm and wasn’t even allowed to practice criminal law.  The Bike Officer gleefully harassed Chris about his lack of counsel and suggested that I was going to be in professional hot water for impersonating a criminal defense attorney.  (This is beyond idiotic, untrue, and a shameful attempt by an incompetent law enforcement officer to intimidate someone who is incarcerated.)

When Chris relayed this story to me, I was incensed that the Bike Officer had the audacity to confront Chris after I had invoked his right to remain silent.  I put Chris’ mind at ease and explained that he had no reason to worry because there is no ethical bar to prevent a civil lawyer from practicing criminal law or vice versa.  I then asked Chris why he was arrested, why he was naked, and what crime he’d been charged with.  Chris, embarrassed, explained that he had been imbibing with some friends and thought it would be fun to strip down to his birthday suit and jump in the pool.  There were only a few people in the pool area with Chris at the time and, not only were they not offended by his display, some of them had actually jumped in the pool with him (although fully clothed).

Chris was already out of the pool, nonchalantly sitting in a pool chair with his legs crossed when the Bike Officer, who lived at our apartment complex and received reduced rent in exchange for security services, happened to walk by.  The Bike Officer ordered Chris to stand up and, upon confirming he was naked, handcuffed him.  And what was Chris’ crime?  The Bike Officer arrested Chris for exposure of sexual organs — a sex crime reserved for flashers and perverts who show their wankers to unsuspecting Girl Scouts selling cookies door-to-door.   It is a crime for which you will have your DNA harvested and entered into the national DNA database as a sex offender if convicted.  It is a big deal, a crime that could cause negative ramifications throughout your entire life.  It certainly did not apply to a harmless, moonlight skinny-dip among a few consenting adults.

To make a long story a bit longer, I undertook my first and only criminal defense representation to help Chris fight the bogus charge.  Eventually, I was able to convince the prosecutor assigned to the case that the Bike Officer did not have probable cause to arrest Chris because he did not witness all of the elements of the crime in his presence.  He didn’t even see Chris’ sexual organs until after he commanded Chris to stand up.  Also, importantly, there were no witnesses who would support the Bike Officer’s claim that Chris had offended the public morals (which, let’s face it, were sorely lacking at our apartment complex).  Lastly, the Bike Officer had flat out lied when he claimed that Chris had lasciviously exposed himself to a host of unsuspecting citizens who were walking and driving along the main road in front of the apartment complex.  Chris was seated in a dimly lit area behind the apartment complex, not in view of the street, and there wasn’t a single person who would testify otherwise.

In the end, the charges against Chris were dropped, and the Bike Officer had to find a new place to live.  I was grateful that my legal training enabled me to help a friend avoid a terrible injustice, and I became a D-list celebrity around my apartment complex in the process.  People would frequently stop and ask me, “Hey, aren’t you that lawyer from Chris’ party who told off that cop and kept calling him ‘Bike Officer’ over and over?  Whoa, that was crazy.”

Yes, that was me and, yes, it certainly was.

Like Mother, Like Daughter Friday, Aug 24 2012 

Madison, First Grade

The new school year has begun and with each school year comes challenges.  A recurring challenge in my home involves my 6 year-old daughter Madison.  You see, Madison likes to talk A LOT.  Understanding this innate truth about my sweet child, I let her first grade teacher in on this poorly kept secret last week on “Meet the Teacher” night.  The teacher introduced herself and I quickly turned the conversation to Madison and gave the teacher the 411.  “Hi, how you doin’, what a darling classroom, so anyway this is Madison and she is a smart girl who is extremely gregarious.  Basically, she never shuts up.  When her mouth is going 100 mph in class, just understand that I warned you and, if it makes you feel any better, she won’t be quiet for me either and I’ve been living with her for six yearsSo good luck with that and have a nice year.”

On the second day of school, Madison brought home a note from her teacher for talking too much in class.   Here we go.  When she sheepishly brought me the note, I looked into her giant blue eyes and  said, “Well, honey, at least you made it to the second day.”  I then launched into my now-familiar lecture about the importance of listening, being respectful, learning to keep her mouth shut, not interrupting, yada, yada, yada.

When I was finished with my lecture, Madison passionately argued in her defense.  “But, Mom, the teacher NEVER lets me talk.  I raised my hand and she saw me and, you know what she did, Mom?  She IGNORED me, Mom!  She totally ignored me!  Can you believe that?  And guess what else, Mom?  If you get in trouble one time in the morning, you’re in trouble for the whole day.  The WHOLE DAY, Mom!”  (Sniff.  Sniff.  Cue fake tears for dramatic effect.) 

As Madison was pouring her heart out to me about the injustice of being silenced, my mind flashed back to my own elementary school experience.  I was a very good student, but whenever I would bring my report card home for my mother’s signature, it nearly always included one poor mark — “Needs Improvement in Talking.”  My dear mother would express her disappointment and sternly caution me against being so talkative.  She would ask me to do better next time, and I promised to try, but I continued to face criticism for talking too much.

Once, in third grade, my teacher asked for a volunteer to read from our story book.  There I was, waving my hand frantically in the air, practically leaping out of my tiny desk trying to get the teacher’s attention.  She looked right at me — right through me — and had the audacity to call on some other kid.  What the …?!  Who does this broad think she is?  To show my displeasure, I stuck my tongue out at the teacher when I thought she wasn’t looking.  Unfortunately for me, she was looking and all Hell broke loose when she caught me with my tongue still jutted out and my nose wrinkled in disdain.  I was written up, sent to the Principal’s office for an inquisition, and ratted out via rotary dial to my mother.  With all of the hullabaloo, I felt like I had committed the unpardonable sin.   Thou shalt not stick thy tongue out at thy teacher, so saith the Lord. 

In hindsight, I think I got a bad rap for being a Chatty Cathy.  After all, the gift of gab has served me well in life.  I always made As on all my speeches and presentations when other kids practically passed out or had an anxiety attack if they had to say a word in public.  Many of those quiet, well-behaved children didn’t have the chutzpah or self-confidence to make themselves heard,  while I sailed through college and law school, winning awards and competitions for public speaking.  When I became an attorney, I initially worked as a prosecutor in my local state attorney’s office where I got to say super cool stuff like, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, on behalf of the Great State of Florida, I submit to you that the defendant is GUILTY beyond and to the exclusion of any reasonable doubt!”  Eventually, I landed where I am today — a corporate litigator who is essentially paid to talk — a virtual mouthpiece-for-hire.  Along the way, I’ve held a variety of leadership positions, including President of the Future Business Leaders of America in high school, President of the Criminal Law Association in law school, and President of the local chapter of the Federal Bar Association.  Needs Improvement in Talking?  Ha!  I think not.

After signing the first (but certainly not the last) teacher’s note of the school year, I hugged my spirited little girl tight, encouraged her to try better tomorrow, and sent her off to do her homework.  As she walked away, I hoped she wouldn’t look back and catch me grinning.

Marilyn, First Grade

In Defense of Plus Size Models Sunday, Aug 19 2012 

Me as a super-sized toddler.

I’m nearly 6 feet tall and shall we say “big-boned.” Always have been.  I was pushing 5’10 by age 15 and towered over nearly everyone at school.  One of my sisters who was petite and cute as a button used to jokingly refer to me as “Big Mare” growing up, which she later shortened to the universal acronym for going #2 – “B.M.”  That did wonders for my fragile self-esteem.  Anyway, I digress.  Despite my considerable heft, I was a reasonably attractive lass who was crazy tall and had a great head of hair and big blue eyes so all was not lost.

On several occasions during my youth, well-meaning old ladies from church or around town would stop me and say, “Marilyn, bless your heart, you should be a model.”  As my head swelled and I prepared to feign my humble gratitude, the old bats would usually add something like “really, honey, you’d make a great PLUS SIZE model.”   Feigned humility quickly devolved into righteous indignation.  “What?!  Moi, a plus size model?  Bite me, ladiesYou must have cataracts.”  I mean, seriously, I didn’t even wear plus size clothes.  I was like a 12 and well within the weight range for my height, thank you very much.  Plus size.  Blech.

Twenty-five years and 50 pounds later, I have developed a new admiration for plus size models.  As I passed 30 in the rear-view mirror and settled into my cush-but-sedentary legal career, my big bones just kept on getting bigger.  In fact, they got downright huge when I had my daughter at the not-so-tender age of 36.  Unlike other women, who start out as a size 6 and have to work their way into the “Women’s” department, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump for this Amazon to go from shopping in the “normal” section into the land of elasticized waistbands and freedom fabric.  To this day, when I’m asked to help one of the fantasically rotund shoppers grab an item off the top shelf or find myself grabbing for the same sweater as a Richard Simmons devotee driving a Little Rascal, I say to myself, “But I’m so tall.  I shouldn’t be here.”

Plus size in Paris, on my honeymoon. May 2012.

Despite my chagrin over my expanding bones, I am now a bona fide plus size woman.  It may have taken a couple decades, a baby, and a large arse to gain perspective, but I realize that being compared to a plus size model is a major compliment.  Not only are plus size models beautiful, I think they put their Skeletor counterparts to shame.   Don’t believe me?  Let me present my case using some examples from my favorite clothing store, Talbots.

Exhibit A:

Image

Image

Exhibit B:

Image

Image

EXHIBIT C:

Image

Image

In case you didn’t notice, these models are wearing the exact same outfits.  In what universe do the emaciated “regular” models look better than the plus-size models?  Different maybe, but better?  Also, where does Talbots get off labeling concentration-camp-chic as “regular” and calling these perfectly fit models (who I can assure you don’t even shop in the Women’s department) “plus size.”  What a crock.  I rest my case.

I wish I could go back in time, retract the snarky responses and dirty looks I gave to those sweet old ladies, and just accept their compliment.  Me?  A plus size model?  I wish!

Ranidaphobia: Fear of Frogs Saturday, Aug 18 2012 

I hate frogs.  No, I don’t mean like a rational dislike of frogs, I mean a deep-seated, all-encompassing hatred of the amphibious pests.  Growing up, I lived in rural Manatee County, on the West Coast of Florida, down a long, washboard dirt road.  The road dead-ended at my house — a simple one-story ranch with a car port and front porch.  Our home was surrounded by an acre of mossy oak trees and dozens acres more of pasture land for the cattle to graze.  It was a wonderful place to grow up, in most respects.  But we had a very slimy, very green problem around my childhood home … we were lousy with frogs.  Now, being in Florida, you’d expect to encounter some frogs here and there, especially after a good rain, but we had a full-on plague of Exodus proportions at our house.  There were frogs on the car port, frogs on the porch railings, frogs on the chains of the porch swing, frogs lined on the back of rocking chairs.  Even inside the house, which didn’t have air conditioning until I was 16, there were always frogs stuck on the window screens in every room of the house.  They’d be there taunting us, flashing their über-gross soft underbellies, and I’d make a point to go around and thump those screens as hard as I could to send those nasty frogs flying.

The frogs had a particular fondness for our front porch which made frog encounters a daily occurrence.  The front door, in particular, was such a frog haven that no one in my family would dare use it because there was a 90 percent chance that one or more tree frogs would jump from the top of the door right onto your head as soon as you opened the door.  When some stranger was lost and needed directions, or wanted to sell us encyclopedias or vacuum cleaners, they’d drive up to our house, ring the doorbell, and wait patiently outside that front door.  The sound of the doorbell gripped us with fear.  “Who’s going to be the one to open the front door?”  “What if the frogs jump on the sweet little old lady peddling Watchtower pamphlets?”  Even worse, “what if the frogs jump on ME and then get in our house?”  Usually, one of us would just go out the car port door and wave the visitor over to the frog-free side of the porch.  Every once in a while, though, someone would get brave or complacent and forget about the frog colony hiding there above the door.  Let me tell you, there was nothing quite like seeing my sister Melissa, with her sky-high blond 80s hairdo, nonchalantly strutting out the front door to our house like she didn’t have a care in the world.  One second, Melissa would be full of sass with her hips swinging and her nose up in the air, and the next she’d be doing the frog Mambo all over the front porch which involved running around frantically, screaming “get it off, get it off!” like a banchee, and giving herself whiplash trying to free the entangled frogs from their Aquanet prison.

Me and my siblings circa 1988, with Melissa in the front row on the left.

After dark, even the safe zone on the porch was overtaken by a convoy of fat toad frogs.  God help us if we left the house to go out to dinner and forgot to turn on the car port light.  We’d come home later that evening to a pitch black car port, with nothing but the moon and stars for illumination.  Tiptoeing out of the station wagon, we just knew toads were everywhere underfoot.  “Oh no, I think I squished one.”  “Oops, I kicked one on accident.”  Traveling those five feet from the backseat of the stationwagon to the door was like walking through frog-infested quicksand.  I’d hold my breath until I got inside to safety.  When I’d flip on the car port light, I’d inevitably see a half dozen toad frogs lounging around the welcome mat, much to my disgust.

I can’t tell you how many times my mama tried to talk me off the ledge and calm me down when I was having a frog-induced meltdown.  “Marilyn, don’t be silly, honey.  A little ole frog can’t hurt you.”  Daddy, however, exploited his children’s collective fear of frogs for his personal amusement.  He made a game of chasing us around the house with cupped hands threatening to toss a frog on us as we squealed, lept over furniture, and fled down the hall to our bedrooms to escape, stuffing pillows under the door for good measure.

As I got older, you might think that my frog phobia would have lessened.  Au contraire, it fluorished into full-blown mania.  When I was old enough to drive, I’d park my spiffy Dodge Shadow under a sprawling oak tree in the front yard where a legion of tree frogs would haunt me day and night.  As soon as the coast was clear, I swear those frogs high-fived each other with the sticky pads of their webbed feet and gleefully drew straws to see which one of them could terrorize me next.   Their mission was simple but highly effective.  They’d slip their slimy little bodies into the tiny opening around the door frame of my car above the driver’s side door.   When I’d go out to get in my car, a tree frog would jump out and scare the bejesus out of me, causing me to say all manner of four-letter words.  You’d think, statistically, I’d have at least a 50 percent chance of the frog jumping away from the car instead of inside the car but, noooooo, those blasted frogs would jump inside my car nearly every dang time.

So how would I, a smart, sophisticated, mature, and responsible young woman, deal with this minor inconvenience?  I would FREAK OUT, of course!   I’m talking TOTALLY LOSE IT.  I’d cry and wail and wrend my garments in anguish.  I’d try desperately to find the frog’s hidden lair and extricate it from my vehicle, but most days I had no choice but to drive to my destination with a death-grip on the steering wheel, just waiting for that frog to pounce.  This horror show went on for years.  There I was, a seemingly normal person, an A-student who sang alto in the church choir, driving around town bargaining with a frog.  First, I’d threaten the frog within an inch of its life and dare it to show its nauseating face.  Then I’d beg and plead with the frog to stay hidden and leave me alone.  Every sharp turn or bump in the road filled me with the fear that I would inadvertently dislodge the frog from its hiding place and send it sailing through the air to land on my forehead or plop in my lap, which would undoubtedly cause my untimely death in the ensuing fiery crash, leaving the frog unharmed.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures, so eventually I had to leave home just to escape the plague of frogs.  Actually, that’s not true.  I left home to attend law school but, fortunately, no matter where I’ve lived since I left home, I have never had a problem with frogs.  Apparently, city frogs are not nearly as plentiful or aggressive as their kin out in the country, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Me and my siblings today. From the left: Will, me, Michelle, Melinda, Melissa, and Melanie.

50 Shades of Brown Tuesday, Jul 31 2012 

Women everywhere are abuzz over the erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey by British author E.L. James.  I’m dealing with mania of a different hue at my house.  Namely, my husband Michael is obsessed with the color brown. Before we got married, Michael had a great house in the suburbs.  He meticulously restored and remodeled the home into a warm and comfortable place for him to raise his son.  Michael’s home was manly — and really brown.   There were couches upholstered in dark brown, a brown leather recliner, beige carpets, mocha walls, and a lot of brown wood.  So much wood, in fact, that I’m sure Michael’s fantasy must have been to live in a log cabin in the forest rather than the outskirts of Orlando.  Michael’s home had a maple kitchen, walnut dining room, oak living room, mahogany guest room, cherry wood office suite, and a behemoth master bedroom set made of birch, ash, and cedar.  Pine French doors led out to his back patio — all in varying shades of brown.

Wood ceiling fans, bookcases, and picture frames adorned nearly every room of Michael’s house.  His love of brown did not end there, however.  Towels?  Brown.  Countertops?  Brown.  Place mats and napkins?  Brown.  Rugs?  Brown.  Salt and pepper shakers?  Brown.  Shower curtain?  Brown.  Bedding?  Take a wild guess.  Well, it was more of an ecru, actually, but that’s still considered a light shade of brown.  Even Michael’s closet was chock full of brown … brown t-shirts, polo shirts, work shirts, dress shirts, slacks, shorts, shoes, belts, socks.  Ah, the humanity!

In the haze of being in love, I found Michael’s proclivity for all-things-brown adorable.  What a guy.  A real man.  The embodiment of the educated lumberjack I’d been looking for my whole life.  Like the Brawny man, except with dark-rimmed glasses and brown hair (of course) instead of a blond mop, a nice brown button-down instead of a red and black checkered shirt, and wielding a calculator instead of an ax.

I guess the cloud of new love descended on Michael as well because he agreed to leave his Temple of Umber and move into my townhome after we were married.  For making such a grand sacrifice, I agreed to transform the first floor office and family room into Michael’s man cave and gave him veto power over decorating decisions.  For the last two months, I’ve excitedly shared my Pinterest boards with Michael and shown him a variety of different paint samples, fabrics, and furnishings.   Michael’s response is always the same:  “As long as it’s brown.”

Maybe Michael is onto something.  Maybe I should give brown the respect it deserves.  After all, what other color can match brown?  (That’s a rhetorical question.  Everything matches brown, which is a combination of the primary colors red, yellow, and blue.)  Brown conjures up images of the desert (camel, sand, and rust), as well as dessert (caramel, chocolate, hazelnut, and cinnamon).  Brown is earthy (clay), energetic (espresso), and risky (tobacco).  Brown is ubiquitous … everywhere you look there’s tan, tawny, and taupe; fallow, fawn and fulvous; sienna and sinopia.

Last weekend, Michael and I finally made it to the furniture store to pick out the new sofa for the man cave.  As fortune would have it, we both liked the same L-shaped sectional!  It was plush and comfortable with a large ottoman.  Michael sat patiently as I flipped through the dozen or so fabric choices and carefully weighed the pros and cons of each.  I chose the color granite – a beautiful steel-grey that would exude just the right balance of masculinity and elegance.

Our new sectional will be delivered in six to eight weeks.  It is a lovely shade of brown.

Michael staining a wood ledge in his former home.

Fine Dining in Paris, or How I Dropped a Grand on Dinner Wednesday, Jul 18 2012 

Recently, while on our honeymoon in Paris, my husband Michael and I dropped over a grand on dinner … not just any dinner, mind you, but dinner at Les Ambassadeurs Restaurant in the famed Hotel de Crillon.  Mere words cannot describe the evening we had in the finest restaurant in all of France, but I will seek to do it justice here. We took a black Mercedes taxi to the hotel (of course, all the taxis in Paris are black Mercedes but it was still tres chic), and we looked like dignitaries in our finest formal wear and my glittering (costume) jewels that I wore for our wedding.   The beautiful dining room overlooked the Place de la Concorde which was incredible for a French history buff like me.  I could just imagine poor Louis XVI trembling on the scaffold before Monsieur Guillotine as I gazed outside the gilded arched windows.
  Dining room

There were four or five different servers assigned to wait on us during our dinner, and we were pleased to personally meet the talented (and young!) chef and sommelier. We began our culinary marathon with a glass of pink champagne and decided to throw caution (and cash) to the wind and “go for it” with the six-course tasting menu.  Each course was paired with a fine wine, and it took nearly four hours to complete our meal. We had lobster, asparagus, duck liver, chicken glazed with morel mushrooms, a panoply of stinky cheeses that my husband adored, a praline dessert with chocolate mousse and banana and lime ice cream, and because our wonderful server knew we were on our honeymoon, an extra course of strawberry sorbet served on a plate that read “Congratulations” in chocolate sauce.

dessert

A delightful surprise from our server Nicolas.

   

I was droning on and on about the historical significance of the venue and happened to mention my minor obsession with Marie Antoinette — et voila! — our server arranged for us to be escorted to the Salon de Marie Antoinette toute de suite.  The salon was a magnificent ballroom with a balcony overlooking the illuminated and sparkling Tour Eiffel, the American Embassy, and all of Paris. The adjacent ballroom was teeming with cameras, lights, and shoes galore for the next day’s photo-shoot with the mannequins (or what we call models). We left the Hotel de Crillon much poorer but thrilled over the once-in-a-lifetime dining experience we just shared.  Thankfully, the cash our friends and family members generously provided as wedding gifts tempered our sticker-shock upon receiving the 900 Euro l’addition.  We had a hearty laugh while perusing the bill back in our hotel room and noting the 75 Euro-per-glass wine we had consumed like water.   Alas, when in France, …

sante

Sante’!

Movie Review of “Rock of Ages” Wednesday, Jul 18 2012 

Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx

DISCLAIMER: If you were not a teenager or young adult in the mid- to late-1980s, or if you were too busy listening to Alabama and Hank Jr. to appreciate Whitesnake and Def Leppard and Guns ‘N Roses, this movie is not for you. If, however, you are like me and had “Whitesnake Rules” inscribed on all your notebooks (surrounded by lightning bolts or skulls), you will LOVE Rock of Ages.

I saw the live musical last year and I was not disappointed with the movie. Despite all the negative reviews I read before seeing the film, I couldn’t help but have a head-bangin’ good time.  My husband Michael and I laughed out loud throughout, sang along, and seriously rocked out (and made out to the 80s ballads).  Although I have not been a big fan of Tom Cruise in recent years, HE OWNED THE ROLE OF STACEE JAXX. He really put his all into this character, and I thought he was incredible. It was like he was channeling Axel Rose and every other washed up rocker from that era. His voice, mannerisms, and stage presence were bitchin’, and his rendition of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was totally wicked.  So, in conclusion, if you are a proud (or closet) hair band enthusiast and recall the 1980s as fondly as I do, RUN don’t walk to your nearest theatre and see Rock of Ages.

Rock on.

Why I Will Never Give Up Real Books for the Kindle Tuesday, Jul 17 2012 

books

Trying to decide which books to download to my new Kindle. The next book I want to read is Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, and Revenge  by Eleanor Hermann.  It recounts the fascinating details of kings (and their queens and mistresses) from King David to Prince Charles. The thing is, the book has such a cool title and saucy nude Renaissance cover art that I just have to have it resting on my bedside table and eventually find it a home in the fantasy home library of my future. To me, real books are souvenirs from the literary journeys I’ve taken, just as some collect snowglobes or magnets when they travel.  Books are also decor to be stacked in baskets, placed on tables, and perched on shelves with photographs, candles, and keepsakes.  The sound of the spine cracking on a new novel, the yellowed and dog-eared pages, those key passages underlined, and the ability to loan books to friends — these are the things I love about real books for which there is no technological substitute.  I guess my love affair with real books will never end, but I do enjoy my new Kindle and think about how convenient it will be to have a variety of reading material on hand all the time. I’ve already downloaded a free copy of Pride and Prejudice so I can whip it out of my briefcase the next time I’m languishing in a pediatrician’s office with only a germ-covered Highlights magazine from 1997 to keep my interest.  Happy reading.

book cover

Sex with Kings cover art

Books on the nightstand

Books in the stairway landing

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