Subourbon Mom

Laughter–A Gift Wrapped in Toilet Paper

images-8Last weekend we attended the annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that the stately Montpelier event has always provided me with literary fodder. One election year, I was interviewed in my inebriated condition by an Irish news channel about my thoughts on what it’s like to live in a swing state (see “Schwing State”). Last year, Hubby had an “accident” in the parking lot that involved road rage and karma sent straight from the animal world (see “Traffic Martyrs & Sliders” and “Chipmunk Popsicles”).

This year, I was given a gift. It wasn’t wrapped in Wal-mart Christmas paper with a stick-on bow, or delivered in a turquoise Tiffany box, but it was a gift that I think is priceless—it was a bend-over-because–you-can’t-breathe-oh-my-God-I’m-crying-belly laugh.

Maybe it happened because it’s been a difficult couple of months; maybe it was the wine; or, maybe it happened because sometimes there are just those moments in life that come together to make the perfect storm of funny at the time. Either way, I’m grateful.

My friends Stacie*, Helen* and I were walking back to the tailgate after shopping among the vendors. Helen is single and younger than Stacie and I, and still cares what other people think about how she looks, and about retaining her dignity. We’d watched Helen try on hats, agonizing over gray or brown, feathers or not, and by the time we left the area, I was long past caring about hats, and more concerned with getting back to place our bets on the next race. Halfway there, we made a pit stop at the port-a-johns.

Helen is also a slow learner—despite knowing me for several years now, she still made the crucial mistake of telling me how much she HATES using port-a-johns.

While we were waiting, a guy came out and said, with his eyes watering like he’d been cutting an onion, “I know they’re not supposed to be great, but that was awful!”

“Why? Did someone take a crap in there?” I asked, trying to find something to say.

He looked at me in pure wonderment and nodded. “Who does that in one of those?” he whispered, and walked away.

Helen’s eyes bugged out and she looked like she might bolt, but somehow she summoned her courage and went in anyway. Must have been all those beers–liquid courage, on so many levels.

As soon as Helen was inside, Stacie and I looked at each other, grinned and took action. Stacie went to the back and I went to the front of Helen’s port-a-john, and we banged on the walls like the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse were thundering by.

Helen screamed.

Stacie and I ran, hiding around the corner. Predictably, Helen came storming out of the port-a-john, strutting her angry 5-foot-3-self across the field.

As she yelled at us and pointed her finger, we couldn’t help but double over laughing—

Helen, jaunty new brown hat slightly askew, was trailing a 3-foot ribbon of toilet paper from her shoe.

While it may be a location joke (you had to be there), to us, it was funny.

When you’re an adult, these moments don’t come nearly as often as they do when you’re a kid. Kids know how to belly laugh, and they don’t care who sees them or how loud they are. As adults, we may occasionally have those laughing fits that make you cry, but we usually try to hide them behind our hands or we leave the room. This time, I didn’t do either. I let out my full-throttle laugh, which as you may know, is pretty freakin’ loud. I’m sure people were staring, appalled at our behavior at such a dignified event—and I don’t care. We laughed until we couldn’t breathe, and it was wonderful.

So thank you Helen, for sacrificing your dignity (albeit unwillingly). And thanks to Stacie, who laughed right along with me. Gifts don’t always arrive with a card and a song—sometimes they arrive on a ribbon of toilet paper.

*Names have been changed to protect my friends’ professional images. Now, if we could just get rid of all those pictures with red cups…

Corn Hole–It Can Save The World

I have a new talent.  It’s not very often once you hit your forties, you discover something new about yourself that doesn’t have to do with migrating hair or the fact that the doctors on Gray’s Anatomy all look like they’re children.

This summer, I discovered I’m pretty good at corn hole.IMG_6485

The revelation occurred during a wedding reception. Daughter #2 and I tossed our way into a corn hole victory, wearing summer dresses and aiming for a board painted with twining, pastel flowers. What a welcome departure from the typical wedding small talk over bacon-wrapped scallops and monogrammed mints!

A couple of weeks later, Hubby and his work buddies set up a corn hole game in the glass lobby of their office. After hours, we played several games, with the added risk of shattering three stories of glass on a mis-throw. As we played, I realized that corn hole is like dancing: one beer will loosen up the arms, but two or three beers produce uncoordinated, jerky motions that cause folks to shake their heads and back away.

I didn’t realize corn hole had become a part of my psyche until a couple of weekends ago, when we went to the Montpelier Steeple Chase races in Central Virginia.

Tailgates sported silver candelabra and flower arrangements that belonged in an issue of Southern Living. Colorful hats, feathers and scarves competed with the jockey’s silks against a backdrop of falling leaves. Southern men staggered around in khakis and button down shirts, clutching red solo cups filled with bourbon or gin while their dates grabbed an arm and led them over to the track to watch the races.  Vendors touted overpriced boots, and hats, and artwork to grace libraries and sitting rooms.

One vendor was selling chairs and pillows covered with hand-painted watercolor animals and insects.  I was about to move on to the tent with Kettle Korn and gyros, when I noticed a small pile of square beanbags that were also painted in the same style for $20 – $40 each.  For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why anyone would pay such a ridiculous amount of money for corn-hole bags. It wasn’t until I picked one up, felt its weight and caught a whiff of lavender that I realized they couldn’t possibly be corn hole bags. They were sachet bags–the kind that women sometimes put in their underwear drawer. (Does anyone even still use those?)  The fact that I even knew this was due to my proper southern upbringing; but like tomato aspic or chicken gizzards, just because I know what a sachet is doesn’t mean I partake.

Having been introduced to the addictive world of corn hole, I’ve decided it should not be limited to NASCAR, football and weddings. I think the DMV should have them, as should the Post Office, women’s bathroom lines at concerts, and on the back of road construction trucks, ready to be dropped at a moment’s notice when traffic comes to a standstill on I-95.  What better way to kill time and make a group of strangers come together in a spirit of camaraderie?

So grab a couple of boards, prop them up, and raid your kid’s toy box. You never know when you might need to make some friends, or just pass the time while life goes on around you.  For those of you still too proud to admit you like corn hole, just tell people you’re throwing sachet bags around.


Football Funerals
September 18, 2013, 1:36 am
Filed under: Misc. Humor, Posts, Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m a Redskin Fan, and have been since I was barely a two-glasses-of-bourbon suggestion one night. That makes me an eternal optimist (what fan of a losing team isn’t?).

We’ve had our moments in the sun–who could forget John Riggins calling Sandra Day O’Connor ‘Sandy Baby?’ Or watching the super-fan in the stands waving his tomahawk and head dress in a touchdown celebration? Or laughing as the Hogettes paraded through the parking lots in dresses and pig noses? Or watching Gus Ferotte slam himself into the end zone and give himself a concussion? Ah…the Glory Days!

The Hogettes, photo courtesy of

For years, these types of things were the highlights of my Sunday afternoons.  We spent hours agonizing over bad calls, yelling at the television, and listening to the scratchy sounds of Sonny and Sam slur their way through the broadcasts.  Beers were drunk and spaghetti was gobbled off of t.v. trays.

When the Redskins won, we viewed our entire week through burgundy and gold colored glasses, riding around with flags on our cars, and wearing our Redskins hats, sweatshirts and jerseys everywhere. When the Skins lost, we listlessly slogged our way through work and school until the next possibility of glory…six long days away.

Now, there is no week of second-hand glory.

There is no mourning period.

We are no longer allowed to grieve–and this is going to do damage to the football fan psyche.

In 1970, Pete Rozelle wanted to have a football game broadcasted on a weeknight, in an effort to create more exposure and popularity for the newly-merged NFL. ABC was the only taker.  Forty years later, Pete Rozelle should be thrilled–we have football on Thursday nights, all day Sunday, Monday nights, and sometimes on Saturdays. For some, this is like scoring a touchdown on 4th and 1 in OT.

But I miss the grieving process.

I’m a football junkie. I’ve played different versions of fantasy football for years.  I even love the idea of the NFL Sunday Ticket, especially since I lived overseas for a while—it was the only way I could watch my team.  And football is better than melatonin for putting me to sleep on the couch three nights a week.

But by the time I’ve finished watching Monday night’s game, I have to turn around on Tuesday and start figuring out who I’m starting where in my Fantasy pool. I have to look at all of the games coming up, read the injury reports, and determine which games are important enough for me to watch. With only three days between weeks, time is of the essence. The pressure is more intense.

images-2But more importantly, what’s going through my head when we lose, especially when we lose HUGE, like we did against Philly, never gets dealt with (puh—leeeease…the only thing worse would have been to lose like that against Dallas!).

These days, when the Redskins lose, there are only three days to let the anger I have at my own daily life safely filter into the venting I do about my team.  There used to be six.

Monday through Wednesday, I rage at the Redskins and how much I hate Michael Vick, and argue that Tony Romo is a less than mediocre quarterback—and no one realizes how close to the edge I am, or how angry I got at something someone said or did to me. But if something sets me off on Thursday, everybody better just step off. On Thursdays, I’ve been forced to start thinking about the next set of games instead of working through the last ones. I have no safety valve to let off steam since I’ve been forced to move on—so I start taking it out on real people, like Hubby (see

Just imagine how high the crime rate would be if everybody was like me, and needed the grieving process of the non-football days like I do.  Thankfully, most people seem to have other outlets for their frustrations.

Like sexting, getting caught, and doing it some more, all the while running for Mayor of New York.

Or something like that.

So please, Mr. Goodell, please let us grieve.  Give us our Thursday nights back. The world might be a safer place.

Mint Juleps and Other Signs of Spring
April 19, 2013, 5:46 pm
Filed under: Food/Drink, Misc. Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Spring has sprung in Virginia, and for those of you not living here, let me enlighten you as to what that means.  In Virginia we go straight from sleet to 90 degrees in three days. As a result, daffodils and hyacinths pop up like whack-a-moles in every suburban garden, and all the trees bloom at once, leaving the air smelling vaguely like shrimp.

Pollen (which I used to think of as some powdery fairy dust that sticks to bee’s feet as they flit from flower to flower) becomes a yellow miasma hovering over our town like mustard gas from WWI. It covers the cars, sidewalks, and driveways so thick that my black SUV looks like a Van Gogh painting—a blurry, black and yellow bumblebee bouncing from one sporting even to another. I pop Allegra-D pills like and Oxycontin addict, and suck on my legal crack pipe, er, inhaler, just to go to the gym.

But, spring also heralds certain rituals, which I forget about each year until they happen:  stinky soccer uniforms lay in heaps on the bathroom floor; there are new packs of gum in my car to chomp on during games (a last-ditch effort to keep from being THAT parent); fold-up chairs litter the trunk; saddle pads reeking of horse sweat (which daughter #2 swears is one of the best smells in the whole world—others beg to differ) lay forgotten on top of the chairs; Gatorade and white wine bottles fill the garage fridge. (That fridge is solely for the purpose of housing the many beverages we must have on hand for those days when “it’s just to nice to____________________. Let’s sit on the deck.”)

The final, end-of-spring symbol is The Kentucky Derby—that glorious first Saturday in May where 3-year-old horses come pounding down the backstretch as millions of fans and gamblers scream and cheer them on. It’s a day of joy (the bookies and winners) and tears (the unlucky gamblers and owners). It’s a day of silly hats, bow ties, and even more important, Mint Juleps.

Before I ever even liked bourbon, I knew the Mint Julep was a sacred beverage, one to be savored and evaluated each year. That golden nectar, poured over ice in a silver Jefferson cup and decorated with a mint sprig, meant the older folk weren’t watching what I was doing, and I would probably be able to steal an extra ham biscuit (or three).  It also meant time stopped for a full two minutes as we watched the race.

Time stopped.

These days, I catch myself hoping time will stop, sometimes so my girls will stay the way they are, safe at home with me, and sometimes so I can just catch my breath.  So this year, I’m going to hose the pollen off the porch, watch the Derby and pour myself a (second) Mint Julep.  Then, I’m going to turn off the t.v. and enjoy the hum of the bees on the azaleas and the interminable drone of the neighbors’ lawn mowers.

And as I fall asleep (bourbon does that to me), time will stop again.


My personal recipe for them is a little different, modified from another recipe I got out of Southern Living (I’m sure their mixologists would be horrified):

1 tsp brown sugar

2-3 oz. bourbon

Splash of ginger ale to taste

Mint leaves

Muddle brown sugar and mint on bottom of Jefferson Cup.  Add ice. Pour in whiskey, then add ginger ale to taste. Stir.  Repeat.

Super Bowl Porn

You know you’re getting old when you realize the half-time show and commercials during the Super Bowl are clearly not aimed at you. And yes, People-Who-Knew-Me-Back-In-The-Day, I am aware of the HUGE hypocrisy I’m about to sling, like Flacco to Anquan Boldin.

So there I sat with twenty people in my living room, excited to see what new heights of comedy the advertising community could come up with. Within five minutes, I was glancing back and forth between my 75-year-old mom and my 13-year-old daughter, trying to take their mental temperatures as I watched a larger than life make-out session on tv. Yep, nothing better than watching slimy tongues do their thing as surround sound speakers amplify the lip-smacking, sucking noises, coming from the couple on the screen. At least porn has cheesy music to cover up what no one wants to hear (so I’ve been told). My mom was pursing her lips in disapproval—no surprise there. But Daughter #2 had actually glanced up from her phone, a look of fascinated horror on her face, as if she had caught me (again) watching another episode of The Vampire Diaries.

The Half-time show was the usual spectacular light and dance extravaganza, with the same strange group of kids screaming madly at the bottom of the stage (Who are they, anyway? Professional seat fillers?). All was as expected, except that Beyonce, a beautiful girl and phenomenal singer, was wearing…a teddy? Maybe this is the reason the Grammys have put limits on the “puffy skin” exposure. But I give Beyonce full credit—she can dance and move her body in ways I never could, even at parties with way too many beers and AC/DC pounding “You Shook Me All Night Long” on the stereo. She’s amazing. Ten years ago, I probably would have been fine with it, but these days, when I’m having weekly discussions with my teenage daughters about what’s appropriate to wear, I found myself wincing with every glimpse of black lace.

Thanks for backing me up, NFL.

I could have overlooked all of that because I really enjoy the Super Bowl commercials, and all the western gluttony that they portray. And a few of them were great—the traditional Clydesdale and “God made a farmer” commercials come to mind–but the creepy, dark Budweiser commercials that tried to make a bunch of Twenty-Somethings look mysterious and sophisticated missed the mark. Chances are, those post-Twi-Hards in the ads are probably broke, still living at home, and have college degrees that are useless. And I don’t care what color you name the beer (Sapphire, Black Crown, etc.), or what sophisticated-looking label you slap on the bottle, it’s still Budweiser…the same Bud our dads drank when they were working on the car, mowing the grass or fishing.

You may ask, “Are you banning the Super Bowl?” Hell no. I’m just going to turn down the sound at half-time, put on some cheesey porn tunes (can you buy those on iTunes?), and see if I can tell the difference. I’ll still judge the commercials.

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