And I Wrote This Book.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pre-Pubescent Machismo

“Duh!” “As if!” “Loser!” Their tongues hanging out of their mouths, freckle sprinkled cheeks, jagged bangs, eyes poised to express control, a mad crush on Suzie Jay, and an ounce of testosterone between the four of them, they ran the show. They had it all. Rulers of the universe and buds for a lifetime.

They hit the playground, yanking the pink velvet ribbon from Betsy’s hair. Her long red braid unraveled by the time they invaded the dodge ball game across the yard. Betsy flopped onto the black top, screaming for her daddy, the Principal. He dashed out to console her and was never able to pin down those nasty culprits.

Life could not get sweeter!

Those were the days to diss the teacher, aim a paper airplane at her butt when she turned to write on the chalkboard, switch names for the substitutes, compete in belching contests during the Pledge of Allegiance, give the class nerd a Melvin or Nelson or whatever those buggars called it when they pulled the poor soul’s underwear so tight above his head that it cut off all blood circulation and he could barely breathe.

Those were the days.

It was time to “get real.” When you stepped on a crack, you broke your mama’s back. Worse or perhaps better yet, when you stepped on a line, you were Frankenstein. Your best buddy told you to “Look over there.” When you turned your head, he stated smugly, “Monkeys always look!”

Good times. Good times.

When you cut the cheese, you cleared the room. You’d make crank calls to the grocery store manager to ask, “Do you have pigs' feet?...Then how can you walk?” Mom said, “Don’t stick your tongue out like that, it’ll stay that way. You’ll go blind if you cross your eyes that way.” So you kept trying that one, because you thought it’d be super cool to have a Seeing Eye dog.

Those were the days.

Boys would be boys, will be boys. They rule. They’re cool. Too cool for school. Question that, you’re a fool.

Those were the days.

Machismo was in full fruition. As if!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

25 Random Reasons to Eat Chocolate

1) You’re a female.
2) You’re a male who knows at least one female.
3) It’s that time of the month.
4) It’s going to be that time of the month.
5) It’s already been that time of the month.
6) You had a bad date.
7) You had a bad decade.
8) Your sex life is lacking something.
9) That something is sex.
10) You have one or more kids. (Note: Triple the quantity for each child after the first. Quadruple it for each child who isn't toilet trained and/or likes Barney.)
11) George W. was President for 8 years.
12) Like him, you’re not a Rocket Scientist.
13) Unlike him, you are a Rocket Scientist.
14) Like most of us, you’re wondering if there really is such a career path as Rocket Science and, if so, what it pays.
15) Research indicates chocolate has fewer calories than a steak and potatoes, plus chocolate.
16) The above remains true if you add a vanilla milkshake.
17) The Surgeon General assures that chocolate is less cancerous than second-hand smoke.
18) A bar of chocolate’s cheaper than a trip to Paris.
19) You could win the lottery someday and should start celebrating.
20) Get real. You’ll never win and might as well wallow.
21) Hairy nostrils.
22) Global warming.
23) Brangelina.
24) Life is hard.
25) It tastes good.

Monday, March 9, 2009

School Daze

“Tag, you’re it!” They chased me around the play structure. They’re pretty swift, so I had to give it my all. After a few minutes, I tired out, and Danny caught me. Then he started eating me. He was a cheetah, and I was a bear. Since cheetahs eat bears, I was a goner.

“I love you to infinity and beyond, teacher,” proclaimed Nathan. Just yesterday, I was the scum between his toes. “I love you so much; I love you to the farthest planet. I love you to Jupiter.”

“I want my Molly doll! I want my Molly doll!” Sarah shouted. “Get her for me!” For Katie, it’s her pacifier named Mimi. For Jason, Buzz Light Year.

“Boys rule and girls drool. Boys rule and girls drool.” The lunchtime ritual had begun. “You can’t sit at the girls’ table!” “Trix yogurt isn’t healthy!” “Trix yogurt isn’t healthy!” “Teacher, they said my yogurt isn’t healthy, and that’s teasing me.” “No teasing, only pleasing!”

“Your stomach is fat.”

“Your haircut looks funny.”

“Want to come to my house to watch the Little Mermaid?”

“I want you to play with me.”

“I don’t want you here. Go away!”

“I peed in my pants.”

“I want to sit on your lap.”

“This truck is broke.”

“I’m hungry.”

“Tie my shoe.”

“Fix my hair.”

“I want purple.”

“I can’t flush.”

“I can’t wipe my butt.”

“Will you do it? Mommy does.”

“How can I, when I can’t even see my butt?”

“I miss my mommy.”

“Silly teacher.”

“Hi teacher.”

“Bye teacher.”

“Where are you going, teacher?”

“I have lots of trains. Watch me count: one, two, three, four, ninety.”

“Look! I’m writing the alphabet: I, J, K... How do you make a Elemeno?”

“Dora, Dora, Dora the Explora!” the girls’ chorus belted out their favorite song. Lacking something better to do, I joined in. “Stop! Don’t sing! It’s our song!”

I caught my first breath as the final bell rang. “See you tomorrow.” “It’s time to go.” “Please.” “Pretty please with sugar on top.” “Yes, yes, whipped cream and a cherry.” “Goodbye!”

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Unforgettable Dating Moment

The moment our eyes met, a surging wave of emotions held me captive. My heart raced and palms began sweating as he walked towards me, slowly and with a tentative confidence. A clumsy grin on his face and hopeful twinkle in his eyes, he clearly felt the same. Slowly, his feet led him closer and closer to my table in the active café. Alas, he extended his hand, and with nothing more than a brief and lukewarm handshake, the moment had arrived. This was it. They say you just know these things, and I did. I knew he was it. He was the one: the one, the one hundred and fifty third blind date from hell.

It had all the makings: the internet photo of a man two decades younger, 50 pounds lighter, and with a full head of hair; the attempts at conversation comprising awkward tedious sound bites pre and post awkward tedious sound bites. As I pondered whether the photo I had delighted in was actually him or perhaps his son, or grandson even, he suggested we get in line for tea. I must admit, this one was truly different. He stepped in front of me without hesitation to order first. My turn came, and he watched with silent deliberation as the cashier charged me $1 for a cup of hot cocoa that would, in theory, sustain me. The clock ticked, but time stood still. The eager cashier extended her hand to receive the money. The dude looked towards me, a dumbfounded “What are you waiting for?” expression across his face. I furiously dug into my purse for one freaking dollar, one freaking lousy dollar, one freaking stinking lousy dollar! Chivalry was clearly dead.

Back at the table, we alternately glimpsed at our wristwatches every 8 minutes, or seconds, or so. I fantasized about being home alone, clipping my toenails with focus and precision. He opened his mouth to release a barrage of hypnotic verbiage, including his love for his mother, his dutiful dog Edgar, and all kinds of things I could not even begin to pretend to be remotely interested in. His cell phone rang. He took the call, smugly and without pause. The guy proceeded to make detailed plans for an upcoming fishing excursion, glancing at me intermittently with a look that said, “Aren’t I the coolest thing since Kool-Aid?” Moments became years, and he finally hung up, only to begin an excruciatingly specific monologue about his agenda for the weekend.

Luck was on my side, as I happened to notice I had a message on my cell. “Oh, you know, I have the ringer off, so I didn’t hear it. But I’ve been waiting on a call from my brother. He’s been having problems with his ovaries, I mean, uh, ulcers. It’s a bit of a tender subject, so you’ll have to excuse me while I step out to return the call.” I played frantic and distraught, not difficult under the circumstances. I grabbed my purse and jacket and walked away briskly.

I reached into my purse, where I would have had a cell phone had I carried one. I grabbed my car keys and made a mad dash to my Festiva. I never looked back and will never forget that moment.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Deadly Measures

“I’m dead,” Christopher said gleefully, lying face up on the play yard, arms outstretched with open palms, legs forming an inverted “V,” eyes wide open and blinking every half second or so, grinning from ear to ear. “Rescue me, teacher!” he demanded with a flavor of entitlement. The kids play dead like nobody’s business. I play along like the sucker I am.

I pretend to call the paramedics. Then, I pretend to be one. Truth is, I had just taken a full day’s class in First Aid and CPR. This should go quite smoothly. “Stay calm, Christopher. I’ll save you.” Let’s see. Check pulse. I mean, first, check for obstructed airway. Oh no, that’s for a choking victim. Okay, give air. Wait, tilt head back. Now do five breaths per second. Or is it one breath every five seconds? No, that’s for adults. Um, one to three for kids sounds about right. I'll go with that. Now, elevate wound. Good thinking, but there is no wound. Hmm, I’m supposed to do some kind of compressions. Right? I forget. Is he still breathing? I suppose I should check. Can’t tell.

Exasperated, I say with the most sincerely sad tone I can muster, “I’m really going to miss you,” Christopher.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Kiss That Saved My Life

Waiting for that phone call, I go ballistic. We hadn’t seen each other in 4-1/2 days. That’s it. We’re doomed. He must be dead, I think, as I put down my phone. Why else would I be getting that damn outgoing message for the sixth time this past hour? He didn’t have time to talk yesterday. He’s not available for dinner tomorrow. If he’s still alive, he’s going to dump me.

I’m on fire as I scramble through the kitchen cabinets, shoving aside a zillion Rubber made containers of all dimensions, tossing behind me a dozen or so lids that appear to match with none of them, creating an interesting menagerie on my white tile floor. Damnit! There’s got to be one freaking piece of chocolate somewhere in my apartment. The walls come crashing in on me. My heart is racing. Tears stream down my cheeks and drop onto the tiles with a thunder. I just can’t find that See’s candies box I got last summer.

Yet in one shining moment, it all lifts. A euphemistic calm pervades every cell of my being. A white rectangular box. Could that be an “S” I see on the lid? And an “e,” a double “e” in fact? I clench this once unattainable yet so desperately craved and, moreover, mandatory possession. I pull it onto the open, greedy palms of my anxious hands. I inhale the sweet, luscious, orgasmic morsels that I am beyond ready to ravage. With anticipation and purpose, I remove the lid. With fury and shock verging on psychosis, I stare at the cluster of empty brown perforated wrappers put back neatly into their rightful places. How could this be? How could my life have possibly spiraled downward to such a helplessly dismal place?! As I stare at the empty wrappers with not a fragment of chocolate on them, a layer of doom envelopes my already plagued existence.

The phone rings. It’s him.

As I continue staring into the cabinet, I remember that I should probably be relieved the guy isn’t dead. “Hello” I say, as I reach for a Hershey’s kiss in silver wrapping that had hidden itself behind the See’s candies box for an amount of time that had absolutely no relevance. I don’t even remember having taken the wrapper off, as my tongue welcomes the taste of precious, succulent chocolate. “I’m doing great,” I proclaim, wiping a drop of saliva off of my chin. “How are you?”

Welcome to Life by Chocolate!

I dedicate Life by Chocolate to anyone and everyone who has ever laughed with but not at me. Scratch that; laughing at me is fine. I do it all the time.

My writing takes the form of creative nonfiction. I expel true-to-life scenarios, tweaking inconsequential details to protect the guilty.

At this time, I'm dusting off and posting writing from years ago --nothing too current, nothing too personal. My sole purpose herein is to entertain you with excerpts on topics like the utter hilarity and cuteness of children, the trials and tribulations of dating, and chocolate as a precious remedy for it all.

Hopefully, you'll find something you like. Ideally, you'll keep coming back for more. Always, I appreciate your visits.

Please enjoy!

Keep a smile and stash of chocolate,

xoRobyn Alana Engel