What Happens when the Elf reports MOM’S bad behavior?

Ellington, Elf on the Shelf, turns his tattle-tale focus on MOM this Christmas -- and you won't BELIEVE what he's tellin' Santa!  #funny #sexy #Christmas @SoThenStories

So then…I wake up at 3 am to the sound of click-clacking. I pop downstairs, peer round the corner, and see two tiny red felt feet scurry out of sight. My laptop screen is glowing, so I cross the room, lean in…and what to my wondering eyes should appear – but EMAILS from Ellington, our Elf on the Shelf, to SANTA!

Hey Santa,
Ellington the Elf here, reporting from the Perdu household! My vertigo’s still acting up, so rather than fly back and forth to the North Pole, I’ll just email you my reports!

Day 1
So excited to meet my new family, Darcy (Mom) and David (Dad) and their darling kids, Tucker, age 8, and Chloe, age 5. I’ll be on the lookout for any naughty or nice behavior to report back to you!

Day 2
Look, Santa, I don’t want to tell you your business, but the naughty ones in this house are NOT the kids. Oh sure, they bicker and whine a bit, with the occasional fib – but the one I REALLY need to keep an eye on is the Mom!

When she made breakfast this morning, the Dad asked, “Are these real eggs and bacon?” “Of course,” she replied. Nope. Egg Beaters and Turkey Bacon. He asked for regular coffee and she snuck in Decaf. For dinner, she assured the kids she served “real” hamburgers. Nope. Veggie Burgers. So she’s a liar. Maybe for a good cause – but still – a liar.

Day 3
When the class mom called for volunteers to collate papers at school today, Darcy, the Mom, said she couldn’t because she had a “doctor’s appointment.”

Then she watched the Dr. Oz show on the DVR. That is NOT an appointment.

Day 4
She straight up lied to the kids today on the way home from school. There’s no way Chuck E Cheese, Toys R Us, AND Game Stop are ALL closed for renovations.

Plus she gossiped at great length with her friend about Mrs. Kobar, one of Chloe’s teachers who’s allegedly very short-tempered and cancels recess when the kids are rowdy.

Day 5
While watching TV tonight she passed gas with such a foul stench, I had to gasp for air. She blamed the dog.

They do not even HAVE a dog.

Day 6
She tells the kids never to swear, but when she was alone on the freeway today, she let loose a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush. Honestly, Santa, I cannot even TYPE them for fear my hands will go straight to hell. Omigod, now she has ME swearing! She’s corrupting me, Santa!

Day 7
The Mom does do lots of nice stuff with the kids. She helps with homework, makes crafts with them, and plays silly games.

But tonight when she was baking cookies with Chloe for teacher gifts, I noticed she set aside all the misshapen, over-cooked ones for Mrs. Kobar.

Day 8
She’s not terribly organized. Before bedtime tonight, when Chloe suggested pulling out her old 1,001 Deluxe Bead Craft Kit and Tucker requested his 99 Paints & Goop Set, the Mom said she couldn’t find them in the toy closet. I suspect foul play.

Day 9
The neighborhood association called today for volunteers to deliver ballots door-to-door, but she said she had a “doctor’s appointment.”

Yep, you guessed – Dr. Phil on DVR. And the irony? The episode was “Nasty Neighbors” about residents who sue, sully, or sex each other up! It was scandalous and provocative! Honestly, after the third time, I could hardly watch it anymore.

Day 10
While rummaging in the closet for wrapping paper, she found the fancy toiletry bag-shaving kit she bought her husband last Christmas. It had never been used! She uttered some profanity and was about to bring it downstairs to confront him – but then she smiled, dusted it off, and wrapped it to give him THIS year!

Day 11
A new low. She stole quarters from Tucker’s piggy bank for the parking meter in front of the manicure place.

(And that polish is too pink for her skin tone. I’m just saying.)

Day 12
Possible redemption? She donated 3 bags of items to Goodwill today!

But guess what’s in the first bag? Yep! Chloe’s 1,001 Bead Craft Kit and Tucker’s 99 Paints & Goop Set!

Day 13
When her husband asked about his DVR recordings, she innocently said, “Oh, I don’t know how your golf tournaments got deleted.”

I know how, Santa. And I know WHO. Her head’s tilting accusingly toward the kids, but we all know who’s deleting shows to make room for Scandal and Outlander!

Day 14
She told a telemarketer she couldn’t talk on the phone because she had to go walk the dog. Still no dog, Santa.  NO DOG.

She works from home so she has lots of conference calls. The other people on the line think she’s studying the spreadsheets when she’s saying “yes, good point” and “mm-hmm” but she’s really reading Facebook updates!

Day 15
When her family mentioned they’re running out of clean clothes, she said she’d planned to do laundry last night but got sidetracked by other “important things.” I’m no detective, Santa, but that empty bottle of red wine might be a clue.

Day 16
Whenever her husband asks what she wants for Christmas, she smiles and says she has everything she needs: a loving family and a lovely home; she just wants everyone to have a happy, healthy holiday. But then she turns up the volume on all the jewelry commercials – and leaves catalogs lying around, open to pages showing beautiful tennis bracelets. She does not even PLAY tennis, Santa!

Day 17
When Tucker yelled downstairs that he’d accidentally knocked over all his Legos for the 4th time today, she hid in the pantry eating Oreos until her husband went up to clean up the mess. She was giggling, Santa. GIGGLING!

Day 18
Her friend tried to make her join her for a Zumba class, but she said she had a “doctor’s appointment.”

She watched GREY’S ANATOMY on NETFLIX. Oh come on! She’s not even trying anymore. Those aren’t even REAL doctors! Have you no shame, woman?

Day 19
Darcy called the relatives today about Christmas Eve dinner at her house. She “confided” in Aunt Bernice that Darcy’s sister Della really doesn’t care for Aunt Bernice’s jello fruit salad and could she please bring Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes instead.

Then she “confided” in Auntie Fran that Della made some uncomplimentary remarks about Auntie Fran’s zucchini bread loaf, so could she please bring Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes instead. Della said no such things!

Day 20
The kids rarely fight, but tonight I think the Mom and Dad got into a huge fight after drinking some after-dinner wine! They went right to their bedroom and locked the door – played music to cover the sounds, I guess, but I could hear them wrestling and moaning and exclaiming, “Oh God, Oh God!” I think they even knocked over a lamp!

Day 21
The gift she brought for today’s Book Club Secret Santa exchange looks suspiciously like the one she received at last week’s Neighborhood Secret Santa exchange! Regifting alert!

Day 22
When the kids asked for dessert, she swore there was no ice cream left. As soon as the kids were asleep, she opened a bag of frozen peas that concealed a pint of Ben & Jerry’s!

Day 23
She sang lots of Christmas Carols with the kids while seeing the lights on Candy Cane Lane tonight. But after 9 renditions of “Let It Go,” she claimed she couldn’t remember the words anymore. How does THAT happen?

Day 24
About 18 relatives came to Christmas Eve dinner at the Perdu house. I’m actually impressed — she’s been cooking all day; the house is decorated; the gifts are wrapped.

Aunt Bernice and Auntie Fran gave a bewildered Della the stink eye. Darcy just smiled sweetly and shoveled in some more Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes.

At the Christmas Eve dinner, she loudly let one rip and exclaimed, “Tucker!” Tucker protested his innocence while the adults shook their heads and the kids giggled. Tucker laughed too — but Santa, you and I both know who’s passin’ Brown-Sugar-scented gas tonight!

After dinner when it was time for clean-up, she told her husband she had “digestion difficulties” and was going to use the upstairs bathroom for privacy.

But while the relatives were cleaning the kitchen downstairs, she went upstairs to her bedroom instead! She locked the door, pulled out some book about colors – something about shades of grey? – and reached for some kind of strange magic wand — and you’re NOT gonna BELIEVE where she PUT the–

OH NO, she saw me! I’ve got to skedaddle lickety-split. More later, Santa!

–Ellington the Elf

I narrow my eyes. That little son-of-a…

With arched brow, and malice on my mind, I coaxingly call out, “Oh, Ellington? Little Elfie, where are youuu?”

–Darcy Perdu

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All posts on So Then Stories are true, with only the names changed – except THIS post which is completely fiction. I mean, come on, y’all – you know I never pass wind! Ne-vah!

(If Elf on the Shelf reports YOUR naughty behavior to Santa, what would the report say?)

Oh, SOMEONE’S bein’ SASSY!

So then…I figure I’d best share some o’ my Memes so you can see some of the funny stuff goin’ on over on my So Then Stories Facebook page (which you should totally follow!)

Tools Used When My Teen & I Disagree

You know that funny character in the movie...?

 

Wait - I'm in the Russian Bride Club?

 

For a Healthy (or FUN) Halloween...?

 

Parenting for the WIN!

 

Oh your belly can only support a ring?

 

Wanna make your son speechless?

And as you know — there’s a CAKE for that!
AND a PARADE!

— Darcy Perdu

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(Go ahead – make my day!  Tell me your favorite!)

Sometimes, Only My Kids Really “Get” Me

Sometimes Only My Kids Get Me FINAL
So then…we cozy up to the teppanyaki table to celebrate Chloe’s 16th birthday — for our family dinner with her brother Tucker (18), her dad David, and me.

And since these Japanese restaurants pair you with other diners at the communal tables, we squeeze in next to a family of four also celebrating a birthday.

We quickly make friends with them, of course – ‘cause we’re charming like that.

Our tableside chef is slicing and dicing veggies – while shrimp, beef, chicken and fried rice are sizzling all across the hot grill – creating the most tantalizing aromas!

It’s such an impressive array of colors and scents, I say, “I wish I had one of these teppanyaki tables in my kitchen!  It’d be so cool to chop and grill all these delicious foods at home!”

My family members raise skeptical eyebrows.

“Mom, you’re not exactly known for your cooking,” says Chloe.

(She’s right.)

“Well, maybe I could get a job here – and they’d train me how to cook like this!” I say.

“I’m not sure you can be trusted with all those sharp knives, Mom,” says Tucker.  “You’d probably cut your hand off!”

We all laugh.

I say, “Yeah, but if I could still cook after something like that—”

My son brightens and says, “Hey, yeah, that could be what you’re known for—”

“Exactly,” I say.  “That could be my hook!”

Pause.

Then we suddenly realize my unintended pun – “that could be my hook” – like my claim to fameand like my missing hand would be an actual hook

My kids and I BUST UP LAUGHING.

David and the other family just stare us.

Which makes us laugh MORE.

WE CANNOT STOP LAUGHING.

“That could be my hook.”

“My HOOK!”  Bwahahaha!

Oh my God.

We’re snickering over that for hours.

Much to the dismay of everyone around us.

Sigh.  Sometimes only my kids get me.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Wouldn’t you love a teppanyaki grill table in YOUR house? And wouldn’t YOU laugh at the accidental hook joke? Wouldn’t you, seriously now!?)

Would You Like Some Vagina…Cake?

So then…we’re celebrating my daughter Chloe’s 16th birthday today — but she bought ME a cake!

Before our celebration plans tonight, she and her old brother Tucker snuck off to the store so she could order this cake for me:

Vagina Cake (RAW)

I die laughing.

I love Chloe’s sense of humor!

And I can only imagine the baker’s expression as he was asked to write:

“Thanks for pushing me out your Vagina.”

First of all, what choice did I have?  I certainly couldn’t keep her in there!

And second of all, why did the baker capitalize “Vagina?”

Does he think that’s someone’s name?  (I guess it could be a car’s name – like, “Thanks for pushing me out your Toyota before the train hit us.”)

Either way, those rapscallion kids of mine are snickering up a storm as they hand me the cake.  And I must say – it is delicious.

Several visitors have been in and out of the house today – and yes, we ask everyone who arrives:

“Would you like some vagina…

cake?”

Horrified looks quickly give way to laughter when they see the cake.

But it does raise an interesting point.

Why AREN’T we sending cakes and gifts to our moms on our birthdays?  After all, it’s the anniversary of the day they spent hours in agonizing labor to grant us life!

So am I suggesting that my kids should give me cakes and gifts on Mother’s Day…AND on my birthday…AND on their birthdays?

Why, yes – yes, I am.

Who’s with me?

— Darcy Perdu

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(Do you agree we moms should get cards and gifts on our KIDS’ birthdays too? What goofy shenanigans do YOUR kids get up to?)

What Diabolical Bedevilment Is This Kid Up To NOW?

What Diabolical Plan Is My Kid Plotting Now? #funny #alarming @SoThenStories.com

So then…my teen son Tucker asks me to print a strange attachment. I’m busy on the computer so I just glance at it briefly, but it looks to be an IRS penalty letter and a flight itinerary to New York.

I snort because surely the IRS can’t be hounding my son to pay income taxes for a job – since HE DOESN’T HAVE ONE. (not that I’m bitter and resentful about that at all – not that I sweated my balls off working at Grandell’s Amusement Park in Louisiana’s hot humid heat when I was a teen – not that I think he should fill out a few more applications to be gainfully employed for the summer – cough cough)

So I print the attachment and go on about my business in my home office.

Tucker continues his flurry of activities throughout the house, occasionally calling out a question.

I try not to be a helicopter parent, but after awhile, I wonder if I should be concerned by his inquiries over the past few hours:

“Do we have a Polaroid camera for an instant picture?”

“Can you print out a W2 form please?”

“Where’s my passport?”

“Do we have any balloons?”

“Where’s the duct tape?”

What the hell?

Is he running away from home?

Is he an international fugitive?

Is he taking HOSTAGES?

Am I one of the hostages?

Just now he said, “Don’t come in the pantry, please.”

Trust me, buddy, I won’t.

I continue my phone calls and work emails, while posting some of the above questions on Facebook to see what my pals think. Comments range from:

“LMAO”

to

“I’d go in the pantry if I were you”

to

“Are you alive? Should we call the police?”

I figure I’d better check out what nefarious activities he’s up to, so I pop in his bedroom and find this:

You're Snorting What with My WHAT? #funny @SoThenStories.com

Tucker’s not there – just a bunch of foreign currency and his passport.

What country accepts euros AND pesos AND quetzals?

Hmm, maybe I SHOULD go see what’s in the pantry.

As I enter the kitchen, I see this:

You're Snorting What with My WHAT? #funny @SoThenStories.com

I die laughing because it appears to be the cocaine serving for a Sweet Suburban Housewife!

Please note the cocaine lines are cut with a BARNES & NOBLE GIFT CARD!

(not a Gold Am Ex card – a bookstore gift card!)

Apparently the cocaine’ll be snorted with a rolled-up BED, BATH & BEYOND COUPON!

(not a hundred dollar bill – a linen store coupon!)

And the baggie containing the cocaine is helpfully labelled, “Cocaine. Keep until June 2016”

That’s exactly how I label all my dry goods!

But I promise you, THIS IS NOT MY COCAINE!

First of all, I’d never tamper with a Bed, Bath & Beyond 20% Off Coupon – those things are like GOLD to me!

Second of all, IS there an expiration date for cocaine?

Third of all, I don’t do cocaine!

I do Ben & Jerry’s.

(which is FAR superior to cocaine)

So clearly, this little scene is my son’s handiwork.

And yes, the “cocaine” is flour.

But it’s oddly gratifying to know that even if my son were the ring leader of an international drug cartel, he’d be organized enough to LABEL his drugs and provide an EXPIRATION date.

I imagine that’d be quite impressive – and a real time-saver – when the cops bust him and take the drugs into evidence.

The last thing you want is a lab tech to stick his pinky in the powder and declare with a grimace, “Tsk, this cocaine’s gone bad” – or for the British cop to shout “Oi! Sarge, come sample da heroin – seems a bit off, don’t it?”

Finally I locate my fugitive – caught red-handed with scissors and a fake W2 form.

“Whatcha workin’ on there, buddy? Somethin’ for your kitchen cocaine?”

He laughs.

“Yes!” he exclaims. “It’s so funny! I’m working on a SnapChat story about a guy whose IRS fines are so huge, he has to turn to a life of crime to pay the government!”

And sure enough, a few moments later, he shows me his SnapChat photos and text which are pretty frikkin’ hilarious!

Of course, it seems a little implausible that someone would obscenely violate drug laws in order to comply with an income tax law – but hey, who am I to question the motivation of the lead character in a fictional SnapChat story?

I’m a mother — and I’m duty-bound to support my son in all his creative endeavors — even if a Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon is sacrificed in the process.

(stifles a sob)

— Darcy Perdu

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(Any creative mini-filmmakers or clever storytellers out there? How about kids who ask questions so bizarre, you’re almost afraid to find out why they want to know? DO you agree Ben & Jerry’s is far superior to cocaine?)

Perfectly Reasonable — or Daddy’s Double Standard?

So then…my husband David suggests that we try to eat dinner around 5:30 pm every day, otherwise our kids (age 3 & 5) tend to get a little hanky (hungry-cranky).

Good idea. So we follow that schedule.

Cut to three weeks later:

I let David know that I need to work late this evening. No problem, he says.

I come home at 7:30 pm to a completely clean kitchen.

Awesome! He must have fed the kids, then cleaned up afterwa—

Wait a minute.

I enter the family room where the kids and he are watching TV.

I greet everyone – hugs, kisses – and inquire about their days.

Then, when the kids are out of earshot…

Me:  Did you feed the kids?

Him: Oh. Nah. (shrugs) They didn’t seem hungry.

Me:  They said they weren’t hungry?

Him: I didn’t ask them. They just didn’t seem hungry.

Me:  They didn’t SEEM hungry? You mean they weren’t writhing on the floor, clutching their bellies, begging for sustenance? They didn’t faint of malnutrition right in front of you? They didn’t collapse in front of the refrigerator with their tiny little fingers clawing at the door? OK, let’s just not feed them until they SEEM hungry. That sounds like a splendid plan!

He grins at my melodramatic contortions, but still attempts a lame, “Well, it’s OK to miss a meal once in awhile…”

Uh-huh. Hmmm. How interesting that the “once in awhile” happens to coincide with the one night I’m working late and he’s in charge of feeding them.

So if I’m around, dinner should be at 5:30 – but when he’s at the helm, dinner should be when the tykes send him an engraved invitation?

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great Dad – and usually pretty helpful with the kids – but this time, it’s a bit of a double standard, right?

Or do I just need to train my kids to pound their silverware on the table and chant “FOOD, FOOD, FOOD!” like li’l prison convicts when they’re hungry?
Hmm, seems like a Daddy Double Standard if you ask ME -- but YOU decide! #funny @SoThenStories.com
— Darcy Perdu

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(Any double standards at YOUR house with YOUR spouse? Lay it on us!)

Who’s Singin’ the “How the Hell Is This School Project Gettin’ Done in Time” Blues?

So then…both my kids announce brand new huge projects that must be completed before the school year ends — which is just a couple weeks away — and I suspect these projects weren’t assigned today.

Of course, this reminds me of the School Project to End All School Projects, so I’ll share this here just in case any of you are singin’ the “How the Hell Is This School Project Gettin’ Done in Time” Blues!

That Special Joy When Another Mom Notifies You Just How Oblivious Your Kid Is -- Honestly, are ALL kids procrastinators or do some kids have a special knack for being COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS? SoThenStories.com #funny

So then…she nibbles the walnut brownie I baked and comments on how nicely Tucker and her son Andrew, both age 11, are playing basketball in our backyard.

I beam. This is the first time Linda’s son has come over.  (I’d even tidied up the house and baked some “get-to-know-you” brownies.)

“They’ve had a great afternoon,” I say. “Thanks for letting Andrew come home with us after school. Tucker’s really enjoyed hanging out with him.”

Linda nods, picks up Andrew’s backpack, and heads for the patio door to collect her son. She says, “Yeah, I almost had to cancel though, because Andrew hadn’t made enough progress on his International Fair project yet. But he did a lot last night, so he’s in pretty good shape.”

My pulse quickens. What International Fair project? I ask.

She looks at me as though I’m joking. “The one that’s due Monday.”

Today is Friday.

“Oh, is that, like an optional project, like for a Science Fair, or something?” I ask hopefully.

She turns to me, backpack on her shoulder, and says, “No, this is the big 6th grade History project they’ve supposed to have been working on all semester. Surely Tucker’s told you about it?”

I’m sure I’m turning bright red from embarrassment – and bright white from panic.

“Um, no, he hasn’t mentioned it. What’s due on Monday?”

Well, now she sets the backpack down and turns her attention completely toward me, and braces herself to tell me some very bad news.

“OK, each child picks a country, then they need to write a report on 6 topics of that country, like climate, cuisine, politics, religion, stuff like that.”

I gulp.  Sweat forms on my brow.

International Fair Darcy Concern
“Each report has to be typed up and pasted on a tri-fold poster board with artwork and photos,” she continues.

“Well, um, OK,” I stammer. “I..I think we can work on that this weekend. I can run to the crafts store for the poster board. We can probab-“

“Get the flag materials there too,” she interrupts.

“There’s a flag?” I ask.

“Yes, and a costume.”

“WHAT?”

“Yes, this is why they gave the kids all semester to work on it! They need to make that country’s flag out of fabric and put it on a stick because they’ll carry it in the procession. Then they also need to wear a costume that’s native to the country – it can be homemade, or maybe you have a friend or family member who has something from that country, or—“

She stops as she sees me sit down, about to hyperventilate.

I whisper, “I don’t even know what his country is.”

She winces.

International Fair Linda Explains
“OK, look, I hate to keep going, but you should know the kids also need to cook an authentic dish from their country.” She blurts it out very quickly like she’s ripping off a band-aid. “And they need to have enough bite-size servings for 40 students because all the 6th graders and their parents are invited to the International Fair – which is Monday.” Then super-fast she says, “And it’s 25% of their grade.”

She picks up the backpack again and turns toward the patio door. She looks back at me and I see indecision on her face. Should she flee the scene? Grab her son and run away, kissing him all over for having the good sense to tell her about the International Fair project months ago?

Or should she stay and comfort a fallen comrade in the Mommy Wars?

Please, my eyes beg her. Don’t abandon me. Explain more about this International Fair of which you speak. Help me, guide me, tell me my son’s frikking country, something, anything, for God’s sake. What’s your son’s country? Can our sons choose the same country? Can my son join your son and share his flag and his tri-fold and his cuisine? I beg of you…

Of course I don’t say any of those words out loud. But she can see them in my eyes. So she pats me on the shoulder, opens the patio door, and calls for Andrew.

The boys come running in. Linda says a nervous goodbye to an oblivious Tucker, hastily thanks me, hustles Andrew out the door, and snags another brownie on her way out.

Bitch. She annihilates me AND still has time to take a treat?

I shouldn’t have thought that. Of course she’s not a bitch. Why shoot the messenger when there is somebody much more appropriate to receive my wrath?

As the front door closes, I turn to Tucker, narrow my eyes, and ask in a chillingly low voice, “Did you know there was an International Fair project due on Monday?”

He stuffs a brownie bite in his mouth and says brightly, “Yeah, but it’s like a Science Fair or something – it’s optional.

I grip the handles of the chair. “Tucker.It.Is.Not.Optional.It.Is.25%.Of.Your.Grade!”

He shrugs, says, “Huh,” and takes another bite.

I look at him with wonder that this truly carefree child emanated from the womb of a Type A hyper-organized, compulsive pre-planner like myself.

“Linda said the teachers have been talking about this International Fair all semester. Did you think they would spend that much time talking about an optional project?” I ask.

He screws up his face and lifts his shoulders in a gesture of Hey, who knows what’s on the minds of those crazy teachers?

International Fair Tucker Shrugging
I take a breath. “Tucker,” I say. “Do you even know what country you have? And if you chose a country, what did you think you were choosing it FOR, since you thought the project was optional?

He finishes the last bite of the brownie and says, “Oh yeah, I chose Mexico. I thought it was like ‘Hey, where would you like to visit if you could pick any country?’ And I picked Mexico because I love Mexican food.”

“Well, I’m glad you do, Tucker. I’m glad you do. Because you are going to be making Mexican food all weekend. And a flag and a costume and 6 reports! YOU ARE GOING TO BE ALL MEXICO ALL THE TIME FOR THE NEXT 48 HOURS!!”

And thus began one of the most painful, stressful weekends in the history of school projects.

Ay Caramba!

International Fair Tucker Color
— Darcy Perdu

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Original Illustrations for So Then Stories created by Shelly at Shell Graphics

(Any projects that snuck up on you or your kids? Any surprise tests? Or how about the “oh-yeah-I-need-36-cupcakes-for-school-tomorrow-Mom” at 9:00 at night? Share your Stories and Comments below! I LOVE to read them!)

International Fair Hearing the News Color

Do I Embarrass Myself in Front of Celebrities? Why Yes, Yes I Do!

Backstage Bungle -- funny & embarrassing story!  @SoThenStories

So then…I confess that I neglected to share a rather embarrassing tale from my recent trip to Vegas with my two teen kids and their three pals.

Oh sure, I shared our shenanigans and hypnotized hilarity – but of course, no trip is complete without my own personal embarrassment…

THE BACKSTAGE BUNGLE
Our friend arranges for us to see a comedian friend of his, so the teens and I get awesome free seats and an opportunity to meet the comedian backstage afterwards.

The show’s hilarious! We love it!

Afterwards, an usher brings us to an attractive guy named Jim who’s the comedian’s assistant or road manager or something. He takes us backstage to a waiting room, then into the comedian’s dressing room.

The kids and I greet the comedian and thank him for the seats.

While the kids are talking to the comedian, I go off to the side with Jim. I gesture toward the kids with my Iphone and whisper to him, “Do you think it’s OK if I take a picture?”

“Sure!” he says, “That’s flattering!”

“Oh, OK,” I say shyly. “I never know. I don’t want to ask a celeb for a photo if it’s too pushy or something.”

“Not at all!” says Jim, smiling. “I’m happy to take a photo with them. They probably won’t know who I am though!”

Huh?

I look at him strangely. They won’t know who you are? I don’t know who you are, either!

So I’m looking at this Jim guy totally confused, when suddenly –

LIGHTBULB!

Oh, damn. Now I remember! The comedian mentioned during the show that his friend was in the audience – a singer from a popular boy band in the late 90’s.

Oh, damn, damn, damn. Jim’s not the comedian’s assistant! He’s the friend – who’s also a celeb! And he thinks I’m asking for HIS picture!

I quickly try to recover gracefully, nodding my head enthusiastically, like yes yes that’s exactly what I intended all along please by all means get in this photo you delicious little former boy-bander you!

So then follows a horribly awkward photo shoot where I’m directing my kids and their friends to all smush together in pics with the comedian and the hottie 90’s singer-dancer.

Argh!

Could I just make it through ONE WEEK without embarrassing myself?

Nope.

As we leave the theater, walking along, I stop dead in my tracks and gasp!

Because now I remember something that makes me wince with fresh new embarrassment.

Before we went to the comedian’s dressing room, about 10 of us were squeezed into a tiny waiting room — me, the 5 teens with me, a few friends of the comedian, and Jim.

Jim was standing and the rest of us were sitting on two benches facing each other – smashed in so close, our knees were touching the people seated opposite us!

After awhile, conversation petered out a bit, so one of the adults said, “We need some entertainment while we’re waiting” and someone said something to Jim like, “Are you humming over there?”

He grinned — so I asked, “Oh, do you sing?” in that tone of voice you use when you discover someone who has one job — has just been revealed to have another talent.

Like the tone of voice I’d use if my plumber glanced longingly at my piano and I said with a tinge of surprise, “Oh, do you play?”

I was thinking, “Oh, Jim the assistant also happens to sing.  That’s cool.”

And when I asked “Oh, do you sing?” — Jim and the others laughed which I took to mean “Good God, no!” which is the same response I’d give – because I’m a dreadful singer (even the nuns say so).

Just then, the door opened and we filed out to the comedian’s dressing room.  One of the women smiled at me and murmured, “That’s a good one.”

NOW it all makes sense. She and the others thought I KNEW Jim was a famous former boy bander so they interpreted my question to be “faux innocent” – like I was ribbing him or teasing him!

Like batting my eyelashes and asking Kobe Bryant, “Oh, do you play ball?”
Or asking Meryl Streep, “Oh, do you act?”
Asking Miley Cyrus, “Oh, do you twerk?”
Asking that old Vatican guy with the funny hat, “Oh, are you religious?”

So Jim and the other adults all thought I was being clever and coy and maybe even flirtatious!

But I was just being completely clueless – which, I suppose, is its own special talent.

Embarrassing myself being yet another special talent I possess.

So, former boy bander, if you ever read this post – just know that you’re still smokin’ hot and I’d love to hear you croon anytime, baby!

— Darcy Perdu

PS I changed his name for this post so as not to embarrass him – or myself – any further!

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(Ever embarrassed yourself in front of a celeb? Do you know all the 90’s boy banders by sight?)

For hilarious tales from the front lines of parenting — and my story of the most embarrassing thing I’ve EVER done — buy this rockin’ new book, I STILL Just Want to Pee Alone!
I Still Just Want To Pee Alone at Amazon.com




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Gimme a Call

Gimme a Call - No, Seriously, If You Know What's Good For Ya, Kid - CALL ME!! #funny @SoThenStories

So then…my high school freshman Tucker excitedly hops on the bus with his bassoon.

He smiles broadly, joining the rest of the school’s concert band on their way to the airport.

It’s his first time taking a trip on his own without our family.

They’re flying from L.A. for a week in NEW YORK CITY!

He’s thrilled!

I’m terrified!

As he takes his seat on the bus, I throw myself to the ground, writhing and moaning – clutching rosary beads and amulets to my chest — chanting spells, praying invocations – waving my talisman and lucky charms in the air – begging the gods to watch over my first-born as he zips 3000 miles away.

Or at least that’s how it feels.

I console myself with the knowledge that today’s amazing technology allows me to stay in constant touch with the fruit of my womb.

He never goes anywhere without his cell phone — so I’ll just call him to ensure he’s OK, having fun, and remembering to wear underwear.

The transcript from our calls:

Day 1:
Me: Hi honey! How are—
T, whispering: Can’t talk – we’re entering Lincoln Center for a class.

Day 2:
Me: Hey, how—
T, whispering: We’re just about to go into the Broadway show.

Day 3:
Me: How’s it go—
T, whispering: We’re eating dinner, then we’re performing. Gotta go.

OH MY GOD!

So I haul my ass over to the computer, study their itinerary backwards and forwards, and plan my phone call for EXACTLY the perfect time:

Day 4:
Me: Hello! How are—
T, whispering: Can’t talk. We’re on the bus.
Me: I KNOW you’re on the bus! That’s why I called you right now!
You’re IN BETWEEN activities! So we can talk now!
T, whispering: But we’re on the bus. Doing…bus things. I can’t talk NOW.

Bus things? What are bus things?

I’m starting to think my kid’s avoiding me.

Is he interviewing new families on the East Coast? Is he enrolling in school out there?

Will I EVER get my baby back?

Sob!

Now to be fair, he does occasionally text.

I’ll text something like “Are you having fun?”
And he’ll text “Yeah!”
Then I’ll text “What are you guys doing today?”
And he’ll text “Stuff!”

Maybe he’s been kidnapped. And his captors don’t speak English well. So they can only text one word answers.

I consider texting, “Have you been kidnapped?”
But he’d just text back “Nah” — (and that’s EXACTLY what kidnappers would say!)

I’m about to speed dial a private eye, psychic, and a witch doctor, but then I realize Tucker’s probably just having such a blast, he doesn’t have the time or inclination for chitter-chatter.

But I’m also wondering if it’s a BOY thing. Because when my daughter goes on a trip, she can’t wait to tell me every detail – even if I have to insult a neighbor to hear it!

Finally the day of pick-up arrives!

As families mill about the school parking lot waiting for the airport shuttle, David (Tucker’s dad) asks other parents if their kids stayed in touch during the trip.

The parents laugh and start complaining about the same lack of communication.

One dad says, “My kid was gone a whole week. I only got two calls – and one of those was a BUTT-DIAL!”

— Darcy Perdu

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(So is this a BOY thing? Or a TEEN thing? Or a I’m-Having-Too-Much-Fun-Quit-BUGGIN’-Me-Mom thing?)

Remember All Those Cool Vacations You Took with Your Young Kids? Well, THEY Don’t. Nope. Nada.

Remember all those cool vacations you took with your young kids?  Well, THEY don't.  Nope.  Nada.  #funny SoThenStories.com #vacation

So then…a sailboat skims the lake on a TV show and my son, Tucker, age 12, says, “That looks cool. I want to go sailing someday.”

I pause the TV. “You DID go sailing! Don’t you remember? At Club Med!”

“What’s Club Med?” he asks.

“Omigod, you don’t remember that? We went to Club Med a few years ago on vacation – and you went sailing – and jet skiing!”

Blank look.

***
A few months later, a neighbor kid talks about losing her first tooth, so I say, “Tucker lost his first tooth at the Alamo!” Tucker laughs and says, “Yeah, while eating popcorn!”

My daughter, Chloe, age 9, says, “You guys went to the Alamo? Isn’t that in Texas?”

“Yes! You were there too! Don’t you remember?” I ask.

“No. Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure! Don’t you remember the Texas family reunion – and we all toured the Alamo?”

Blank look.

***
A few months later, we talk about buying raffle tickets for the school fundraiser. Chloe says, “Nah, I never win anything.”

“Sure you do,” I say. “Remember when you won bingo on that cruise a few years ago?”

“Cruise?” she says.

Oh.My.God.

***
Why in the world am I saving up all my pennies to pay for vacations for these kids when they don’t even remember GOING on the vacations?

Sure, they were young back then, but REALLY? Those were some of the coolest, most fun, most special family memories – and they don’t even recall BEING there?

At the time, they had a blast! But now, they act like anything earlier than a couple years ago is just a blurry fog.

How did we go from “this is the best vacation ever!” — to “what vacation?”

Nemo’s Dory has a better memory than these kids!

They seem so skeptical, I pull out the photo albums for evidence!

“Here you are at the family reunion on the beach! Yes, that little guy on the raft is YOU!”
“Look, here you are – smiling and laughing on a Disneyworld roller coaster!”
“Here you are on a jet ski! No really, that’s you. That is NOT photoshop. I SWEAR that’s you!”

Honestly, when I think of all the money I had to save to afford going to cool places –

the finagling to get time off work –

the stress of travelling/what do you mean your tummy hurts?/ahh! pass the barf bag –

and the hassle of packing/unpacking/where are those friggin’ water wings? –

And they don’t even REMEMBER that we went on the vacation?!

It makes me wonder why I went to all that bother!

Oh yes, yes, I know that it was probably great for their brain development to go new places and do new activities when they were early grade schoolers, toddlers, tots, and wee ones – even if they can’t remember it now.

And yes, of course, we’re lucky to go on a vacation at all.

And yes, yes, it was enjoyable for us as a family to spend that quality time together.

But whatEVER, people!

A more clever mama WOULD have just photoshopped their kids’ pics into exciting locales and PRETENDED to have vacationed there!

I could’ve saved a bundle!

From now on, I’ll just sprinkle FAKE MEMORIES into my conversations — and the kids will likely believe me since they can’t remember anything anyway!

“These croissants are delicious! Reminds me of that time we all vacationed in Paris.”

“Hey, remember when we cruised up to Alaska and went glacier-hopping?”

“Wow, it’s so hot today – just like our tour of those Hawaiian volcanoes – remember?”

And if they look skeptical, I’m just gonna keep selling it, like it’s totally real.

“This pizza’s almost as good as the pizza we had in Italy. Yeah, we vacationed in Italy. You don’t remember? Oh, sure you do. We went rollerskating at the Sistine Chapel? The Pope stopped by to play badminton? Then Johhny Depp flew us to his private island – and Beyonce came by for paintball? You don’t remember that? Omogish, SO much fun. Pass the pizza, honey.”

Then I’ll just stare off dreamily, smiling – while they look at each other, completely confused.

And if they ask for photographic proof – oh, I will make it, baby –
I WILL MAKE IT!

Remember all those cool vaacations you took with your young kids?  Well THEY don.t. Nope. Nada.  #funny #vacation SoThenStories.com

— Darcy Perdu

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(OK, seriously, when do kid memories kick in? And why didn’t someone tell me? I would’ve just plopped them in a sandbox until THAT age — THEN take them on cool vacations! Am I the only one whose kids don’t remember all the awesome stuff that happened in their early years?)

My Daughter’s So Frikkin’ EMBARRASSING! (But It’s POSSIBLE She Inherited That Trait!)

So then…just as we exit the Stephen Hawking bio-pic, “The Theory of Everything,” I overhear this exchange between my teen kids:

Chloe:  He only wrote one book?  I thought he wrote TONS of books!

Tucker (facepalm):  That’s Stephen King.  This movie’s about Stephen HAWking.

Me (distancing myself from them, hoping no one thinks I’m related)

Much later, after the laughter subsides, I say to Chloe:

Me:  Did you really think the movie was going to be about Stephen King, the horror writer?

Chloe:  Yes!

Me:  Didn’t you think it was strange when the Stephen in the movie got so sick?

Chloe:  I thought maybe his illness is why his books are so dark!

Me:  What about all the physics stuff?

Chloe:  Yeah, that was confusing.

Me:  Chloe!  The movie said Stephen Hawking could only write 4 words a minute!  Stephen King has written a GAZILLION BOOKS!  Do you know how long that would take???

Chloe:  (pause)  Well, he seemed really determined.

I swear — for such a bright, clever, academically-gifted child, she’s an incredible knucklehead –

ALTHOUGH TO BE HONEST….

The apple does not fall far from the tree.

For many years – I’m talkin’ YEARS – I thought that the Warren Buffet guy who made all the brilliant investments was the same guy who sang “Margaritaville.”

Yep, I thought THIS guy –

Buffet Warren Fold Arms 300

Was the same as THIS guy!

Buffet with Hands Up 429

NOW HEAR ME OUT.

First of all, Buffet’s not a common name.  So first I heard about Jimmy Buffet, a singer-songwriter who sold millions of records and scored tons of cult fans who call themselves, “Parrotheads.”

Then I heard he opened chains of restaurants called “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” – AND hotels – AND casinos!  Years ago I read an article that he wrote books, flew his own plane, owned minor league teams, created internet games, and opened a record label – making over $100 million a year from all these business ventures!

I heard that he invested his money so well, and was so super-rich, that he lived on an island – or bought an island – or some shit about an island.

So I’m thinking – cool, this guy’s a musician AND he happens to have a head for business.  That’s pretty frikkin’ awesome.

So when I started seeing clever quotes about investing and finances attributed to some Buffet guy, I just figured — it’s the same guy.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Those Buffet quotes are so succinct and clever, they sound like a songwriter DID write them!

“Price is what you pay.  Value is what you get.”

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”

Yo, dog, these could be song lyrics!

And you gotta admit – those balding old white dudes tend to look alike.

Buffet Lookalikes 360

Jimmy Buffet                       Warren Buffet

So EVERY TIME I heard something about one of those Buffet guys, I assumed it was the same person.

Until the party.

Yep, the party where my error was exposed in excruciating detail for all the world to see.

Picture the scene: Crowded party, noisy – several of us are chatting by the dessert table.

1st Man:  Warren Buffet said the best way to invest is (blah blah financial stuff).

2nd Man:  And he said next year, the interest rate is going to (blah blah financial stuff).

(I don’t really understand all the financial references, but I want to participate in the conversation.)

Me:  Yeah, that guy’s amazing.  SUPER talented.

Both men look at me quizzically.

Me:  You know – the singing.

Both men look confused.

Me (somewhat condescendingly):   Hello – Margaritaville?

Both men are stunned.

Time stops.  The air’s sucked out of the room.

All 5 of the men and women stare at me in utter disbelief.

1st Man:  Do you mean…

2nd Man:  …JIMMY Buffet?

Me:  Yeah, Jimmy Buffet.

1st Man:  But that’s not the same as WARREN Buffet.

Me:  Who’s Warren Buffet?

Time stands still again.  Everyone stares in horror.

My friend Megan quickly jumps in and says, “Ha!  Oh Darcy!  You and your sense of humor!  You’re pretending Warren Buffet is Jimmy Buffet!  Ha, ha, ha!”

I quickly join the cover-up and laugh weakly:  “Oh, yeah, heh heh heh.  Just jokin’ around with you guys.”

1st Man and 2nd Man do not look convinced.

I excuse myself to the bar, grab a glass of wine, and head into the bathroom with my Iphone.

“What the FUCK?” I mutter as I quickly Google those wily bastards, Jimmy and Warren.   “Sonofabitch!  They ARE two different guys!”

Here all this time, I thought the boozy, happy-go-lucky Margaritaville singer was giving financial advice to Presidents and Kings.

Don’t judge me.

It could happen.

(Saturday Night Live alum Al Franken of self-help guru “Stuart Smalley” fame is a U.S. SENATOR, for God’s sake!!)

So there you have it — 

It’s no wonder my daughter watched an entire movie about world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, thinking it was a bio-pic on horror writer Stephen King ——- because her own mother thought the billionaire investment magnate Warren Buffet was also the singing Parrothead guy Jimmy Buffet.

Buffet Warren Head Jimmy Body 429

The knuckleheaded apple does not fall far from the knuckleheaded tree!

So today, I ask you, what embarrassing misconception can YOU admit to?

It can be small, like my childhood assumption that people on TV could see me since I could see them, hence I always changed clothes BEHIND the couch.

It can be odd, like my childhood belief that everyone’s given a maximum number of words in a lifetime, so I was very quiet in my youth so I could save up my words for adulthood.

It can be embarrassing, like my voracious reading habit that made me attempt to use words I had no idea how to pronounce so I’d say things like, “Well, that’s the very ‘epi-TOME’ of greed!’ instead of the correct ‘i-ˈpi-tə-mē’ — thereby creating gales of laughter for those in the know.

So ‘fess up, friends!

What’s YOUR equivalent to my Buffet Blunder?

— Darcy Perdu

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(Let’s hear it! You must have SOMETHING to confess – a misconception, an assumption, a flat-out blunder! Share your hilarious humiliations!)

Argh!  My kid's SO embarrassing!  (but then again -- that apple doesn't fall far from the tree!)  Do you think it might be hereditary?  #funny SoThenStories.com

Elf on the Shelf Narcs on MOM!

Ellington, Elf on the Shelf, turns his tattle-tale focus on MOM this Christmas -- and you won't BELIEVE what he's tellin' Santa!  #funny #sexy #Christmas @SoThenStories

So then…I wake up at 3 am to the sound of click-clacking. I pop downstairs, peer round the corner, and see two tiny red felt feet scurry out of sight. My laptop screen is glowing, so I cross the room, lean in…and what to my wondering eyes should appear – but EMAILS from Ellington, our Elf on the Shelf, to SANTA!

Hey Santa,
Ellington the Elf here, reporting from the Perdu household! My vertigo’s still acting up, so rather than fly back and forth to the North Pole, I’ll just email you my reports!

Day 1
So excited to meet my new family, Darcy (Mom) and David (Dad) and their darling kids, Tucker, age 8, and Chloe, age 5. I’ll be on the lookout for any naughty or nice behavior to report back to you!

Day 2
Look, Santa, I don’t want to tell you your business, but the naughty ones in this house are NOT the kids. Oh sure, they bicker and whine a bit, with the occasional fib – but the one I REALLY need to keep an eye on is the Mom!

When she made breakfast this morning, the Dad asked, “Are these real eggs and bacon?” “Of course,” she replied. Nope. Egg Beaters and Turkey Bacon. He asked for regular coffee and she snuck in Decaf. For dinner, she assured the kids she served “real” hamburgers. Nope. Veggie Burgers. So she’s a liar. Maybe for a good cause – but still – a liar.

Day 3
When the class mom called for volunteers to collate papers at school today, Darcy, the Mom, said she couldn’t because she had a “doctor’s appointment.”

Then she watched the Dr. Oz show on the DVR. That is NOT an appointment.

Day 4
She straight up lied to the kids today on the way home from school. There’s no way Chuck E Cheese, Toys R Us, AND Game Stop are ALL closed for renovations.

Plus she gossiped at great length with her friend about Mrs. Kobar, one of Chloe’s teachers who’s allegedly very short-tempered and cancels recess when the kids are rowdy.

Day 5
While watching TV tonight she passed gas with such a foul stench, I had to gasp for air. She blamed the dog.

They do not even HAVE a dog.

Day 6
She tells the kids never to swear, but when she was alone on the freeway today, she let loose a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush. Honestly, Santa, I cannot even TYPE them for fear my hands will go straight to hell. Omigod, now she has ME swearing! She’s corrupting me, Santa!

Day 7
The Mom does do lots of nice stuff with the kids. She helps with homework, makes crafts with them, and plays silly games.

But tonight when she was baking cookies with Chloe for teacher gifts, I noticed she set aside all the misshapen, over-cooked ones for Mrs. Kobar.

Day 8
She’s not terribly organized. Before bedtime tonight, when Chloe suggested pulling out her old 1,001 Deluxe Bead Craft Kit and Tucker requested his 99 Paints & Goop Set, the Mom said she couldn’t find them in the toy closet. I suspect foul play.

Day 9
The neighborhood association called today for volunteers to deliver ballots door-to-door, but she said she had a “doctor’s appointment.”

Yep, you guessed – Dr. Phil on DVR. And the irony? The episode was “Nasty Neighbors” about residents who sue, sully, or sex each other up! It was scandalous and provocative! Honestly, after the third time, I could hardly watch it anymore.

Day 10
While rummaging in the closet for wrapping paper, she found the fancy toiletry bag-shaving kit she bought her husband last Christmas. It had never been used! She uttered some profanity and was about to bring it downstairs to confront him – but then she smiled, dusted it off, and wrapped it to give him THIS year!

Day 11
A new low. She stole quarters from Tucker’s piggy bank for the parking meter in front of the manicure place.

(And that polish is too pink for her skin tone. I’m just saying.)

Day 12
Possible redemption? She donated 3 bags of items to Goodwill today!

But guess what’s in the first bag? Yep! Chloe’s 1,001 Bead Craft Kit and Tucker’s 99 Paints & Goop Set!

Day 13
When her husband asked about his DVR recordings, she innocently said, “Oh, I don’t know how your golf tournaments got deleted.”

I know how, Santa. And I know WHO. Her head’s tilting accusingly toward the kids, but we all know who’s deleting shows to make room for Scandal and Outlander!

Day 14
She told a telemarketer she couldn’t talk on the phone because she had to go walk the dog. Still no dog, Santa.  NO DOG.

She works from home so she has lots of conference calls. The other people on the line think she’s studying the spreadsheets when she’s saying “yes, good point” and “mm-hmm” but she’s really reading Facebook updates!

Day 15
When her family mentioned they’re running out of clean clothes, she said she’d planned to do laundry last night but got sidetracked by other “important things.” I’m no detective, Santa, but that empty bottle of red wine might be a clue.

Day 16
Whenever her husband asks what she wants for Christmas, she smiles and says she has everything she needs: a loving family and a lovely home; she just wants everyone to have a happy, healthy holiday. But then she turns up the volume on all the jewelry commercials – and leaves catalogs lying around, open to pages showing beautiful tennis bracelets. She does not even PLAY tennis, Santa!

Day 17
When Tucker yelled downstairs that he’d accidentally knocked over all his Legos for the 4th time today, she hid in the pantry eating Oreos until her husband went up to clean up the mess. She was giggling, Santa. GIGGLING!

Day 18
Her friend tried to make her join her for a Zumba class, but she said she had a “doctor’s appointment.”

She watched GREY’S ANATOMY on NETFLIX. Oh come on! She’s not even trying anymore. Those aren’t even REAL doctors! Have you no shame, woman?

Day 19
Darcy called the relatives today about Christmas Eve dinner at her house. She “confided” in Aunt Bernice that Darcy’s sister Della really doesn’t care for Aunt Bernice’s jello fruit salad and could she please bring Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes instead.

Then she “confided” in Auntie Fran that Della made some uncomplimentary remarks about Auntie Fran’s zucchini bread loaf, so could she please bring Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes instead. Della said no such things!

Day 20
The kids rarely fight, but tonight I think the Mom and Dad got into a huge fight after drinking some after-dinner wine! They went right to their bedroom and locked the door – played music to cover the sounds, I guess, but I could hear them wrestling and moaning and exclaiming, “Oh God, Oh God!” I think they even knocked over a lamp!

Day 21
The gift she brought for today’s Book Club Secret Santa exchange looks suspiciously like the one she received at last week’s Neighborhood Secret Santa exchange! Regifting alert!

Day 22
When the kids asked for dessert, she swore there was no ice cream left. As soon as the kids were asleep, she opened a bag of frozen peas that concealed a pint of Ben & Jerry’s!

Day 23
She sang lots of Christmas Carols with the kids while seeing the lights on Candy Cane Lane tonight. But after 9 renditions of “Let It Go,” she claimed she couldn’t remember the words anymore. How does THAT happen?

Day 24
About 18 relatives came to Christmas Eve dinner at the Perdu house. I’m actually impressed — she’s been cooking all day; the house is decorated; the gifts are wrapped.

Aunt Bernice and Auntie Fran gave a bewildered Della the stink eye. Darcy just smiled sweetly and shoveled in some more Brown Sugar Sweet Potatoes.

At the Christmas Eve dinner, she loudly let one rip and exclaimed, “Tucker!” Tucker protested his innocence while the adults shook their heads and the kids giggled. Tucker laughed too — but Santa, you and I both know who’s passin’ Brown-Sugar-scented gas tonight!

After dinner when it was time for clean-up, she told her husband she had “digestion difficulties” and was going to use the upstairs bathroom for privacy.

But while the relatives were cleaning the kitchen downstairs, she went upstairs to her bedroom instead! She locked the door, pulled out some book about colors – something about shades of grey? – and reached for some kind of strange magic wand — and you’re NOT gonna BELIEVE where she PUT the–

OH NO, she saw me! I’ve got to skedaddle lickety-split. More later, Santa!

–Ellington the Elf

I narrow my eyes. That little son-of-a…

With arched brow, and malice on my mind, I coaxingly call out, “Oh, Ellington? Little Elfie, where are youuu?”

–Darcy Perdu

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All posts on So Then Stories are true, with only the names changed – except THIS post which is completely fiction. I mean, come on, y’all – you know I never pass wind! Ne-vah!

(If Elf on the Shelf reports YOUR naughty behavior to Santa, what would the report say?)

Hey, Remember That Time We…

So then…we wake the kids by bellowing, “Dizzz-neee-laaaaaaand!”

8:00 am

Remember 180 8 am

They pop right out of bed, super excited to return to their favorite place. Chloe, age 5, and Tucker, age 8, get dressed and hustle downstairs for breakfast.

We live in LA, so it’s only 1.5 hours to drive to Anaheim to Disneyland. We pack up the minivan, ensuring our backpack contains all 832 essentials for surviving a long day at the park – and off we go!

9:00 am

Remember 900 new black new 180 180

We’re zipping along the 101 Freeway.

Zip! Zip! Zip!
Zap! Zaaaap. Zaaaaaap.
Zerp.
STOP.

What the hell?

We were careening down this freeway, and now we’ve STOPPED DEAD, smack dab in the middle of a 6-lane gridlock, with cars stretching as far as the eye can see.

How did this happen so fast? It’s like someone sent a mass group text to every driver in California with an urgent message: “Hop in car! Rush to 101 Freeway! Surround the Perdu Family Vehicle. Ensure no escape!”

And BAM!
EVERYBODY WHO HAS EVER LIVED IN CALIFORNIA IS NOW ON THE FREEWAY WITH US!

David and I slowly turn our heads to look at each other.

His eyes say: “Let’s cut our losses, go home, and watch football.”

My eyes say, “Yes! Abort! Abort the mission! Turn around and go home!”

Then we turn to look at Tucker and Chloe in the back seat happily chatting about which Disneyland rides they’re most excited about riding.

We slowly turn back to look at each other.

Now my eyes say beseechingly, “We must go! Look how excited they are!”

His eyes say, “Football.”

“No, David, we have to keep going,” I say out loud. “It’s just a little traffic! It’ll be fine.”

9:30 am

Remember 180 930 am

He agrees – but it’s quickly evident that the 1.5 hour trip’s going to be a 3 hour trip.

Unspoken tensions are running high – but with each mile, it seems crazy to turn back – so we push valiantly onward.

We hit the parking lot, which is bulging with cars. Honestly, did EVERYONE decide to go to Disneyland today?

12:30 pm

Remember 180 1230 blue clock

After an excruciating hunt for a parking spot, we finally disembark the car to find the shuttle to take us to the park.

We wait an hour for the shuttle.

Let’s say that again just so we fully appreciate the agony of standing there after a long car ride:

We wait an hour for the shuttle.

Finally! We hop aboard and head to the entrance.

I’m overly cheerful to compensate for the flagging spirits of my crew. Grinning broadly, I say, “Won’t this be fun!? We had a little bit of a late start, but now we’re here and we’re gonna have a blast!”

1:30 pm

Remember 180 130 pm

The shuttle drops us off at the entrance, which is obscured by engorged lines of people snaking out in all directions.
Just as we approach, the intercom announces, “I’m sorry, folks, Disneyland is full. No more entries today.”

Full?

FULL?

What do you mean Disneyland is FULL?

We just spent 4 hours to get here! And what about all the people who FLEW to get here? And all the people who saved for months for this trip to pay for your stupid crappy $6 hot dogs and $16 Mickey hats! How dare you shutter your doors!? What about the children? What…about…sob…the childrennnnnn?

(I’m in full meltdown mode — but my kids are actually taking the disappointment pretty well. David is another matter altogether. I can actually see him squeezing his eyes shut and concentrating fiercely — trying desperately to time travel back to that point on the freeway when we could’ve abandoned the mission and returned home.)

“I’m hungry,” says Chloe.

“Me too,” says Tucker.

I’m starving.

David and I look to the left. Literally thousands of dejected people are leaving the park entrance to line up for the shuttles.

We look to the right. Thousands more are walking to the souvenir shops and restaurants just outside Disneyland.

We look at the backpack. Its snacks were depleted long ago on our long-ass car ride.

We look at the children. They appear edible.

That will solve everything. I will eat my children.

They will satisfy my hunger and I won’t have to deal with their disappointment about missing Disneyland.

I’m just about to explain my plan to David when he points toward the shops and restaurants.

“It’ll take us hours to get back to our car and find someplace to eat, so we might as well line up over here,” he says.

We reluctantly join the huddled masses, yearning to be fed – shuffling from restaurant to restaurant looking for a line that looks to be less than a 2-hour wait.

3:30 pm

Remember 330 brown

Out of desperation, we finally settle on a pizza place which is so packed we have to eat our cold cheese slices standing up between hordes of other families standing up, eating their cold cheese slices.

All the adults look a bit dazed. Like, “How did this happen?” We all expected a spectacular day at the Magic Kingdom — and now we’re standing in line for almost 2 hours just to get a slice of crappy pizza.

Then we trudge back to the shuttle line, wait an hour and a half, walk a million miles to our car, then drive with 4 billion people on the freeway through rush hour traffic, and finally reach home where we collapse – as exhausted as though we’d just climbed the Himalayas.

9:00 pm

Remenber 180 900 green new

Our roundtrip is 12 agonizing hours.

We promise the kids we’ll return to Disneyland soon – and we do – and it’s wonderful and glorious and all the things it’s supposed to be.

As for today? Well, today is the day we refer to as:

“Hey, remember that time we drove 12 hours for pizza? Ah. Good times. Good times.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Do you have an example of a “Hey, remember that time we…” experience? Something fun that ended up NOT so fun?  Ever show up someplace that was “full” or “closed?”)

Ah, good times (NOT!) - hilarious true tale of a trip gone awry #funny #Disney

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What Chinese Character Does YOUR Furrowed Brow Form?

So then…I read a ridiculous email from an exasperating client on my Iphone. I audibly sigh and roll my eyes – at the precise moment I’m passing the hallway mirror – which means I can see the reflection of my furrowed brow.

I’m horrified.

I already mourn the loss of my line-free, wrinkle-free, smooth-as-a-baby complexion.

What Chinese - Baby 350

And I barely made peace with the fact that a small indented line forms between my eyebrows whenever I make my “annoyed” face.

What Chinese - Furrow New 1 image crop

But now THAT line has sprouted MORE lines!

…shooting in SEVERAL directions!

I lean in closer to the mirror.

What is HAPPENING here?

The size and location of my new brow lines seem to be forming…some sort of Chinese character!

There’s one big line down the middle, with little offshoots at angles – just like a Chinese symbol!

What Chinese - Furrow New 2 image crop

What does it signify?

I can only assume my poor puckering brow line is forming the Chinese character for:

WISDOM
or
INTELLIGENCE
or
HONOR.

I check online to confirm my theory.

What Chinese - Symbols Good 400

Um…no.

My creases and crinkles don’t match any of those noble words.

What could it be then?

Maybe I should figure out what makes me furrow my brow in the first place.

It’s usually when I’m baffled, annoyed, or exasperated:

1) Like when my teen daughter Chloe chops the asparagus in half and throws out the tops and only eats the bottoms – because the “tops taste weird.” No, honey, YOU’RE weird. Honestly! What’s next? Peeling an orange to toss the orange and eat the peel? Brow furrowed.

2) Or when my teen son Tucker signs the back of his birthday checks with a squiggle comprised of the initials of his first name, last name, and NICKNAME – all stacked on top of each other!

Me: “Tucker, the bank needs your signature, not your stacked initials!”
Tucker: “But that symbol IS my signature!”
Me: “Who are you – Prince?
Brow furrowed, eyes rolling.

3) Or when I walk into the kitchen to see that David can never seem to put his dishes IN the dishwasher. They’re always dishwasher-adjacent. I mean, he was right there. What prevents him from opening the dishwasher? Is he afraid bloodthirsty zombies will pop out and devour him? Furrowed brow – and frowny face.

4) Or when my coworker asks me to forward her the same attachment that I’ve emailed her four times already, because she can’t keep track of her documents (or her brain). Brow furrowed, head shaking.

5) Or when someone’s in such a hurry that she cuts ahead of me in the school’s car pick-up line, but then holds up all the cars behind her so she can chat extensively out her car window with another mom walking by. Brow furrowed, profanity muttered.

Mystery solved!

The Chinese character my furrowed brow is forming is not:

COURAGE
or
PEACE
or
TRUTH.

It’s

What the Fuck?

Yes, that’s exactly it!

When I furrow my brow, those creases and lines form the Chinese character for these words in bright neon lights:

What the FUCK are you DOING?
What the FUCK are you TALKING ABOUT?
Who the FUCK ARE you?

I suppose the WTF expression could be a bit off-putting – and even alarming – to the people surrounding me, especially since I seem to be brow-furrowing all day long – (I’m looking at YOU, telemarketers, over-zealous classroom moms, and guy at work who interrupts every.single.meeting with off-topic questions/complaints) so perhaps I should conceal my obvious displeasure in some way…

Otherwise, my white-hot smoldering Wrath of Khan stare might smite people right where they stand. And if they happen to read Chinese, they’ll know what my brow is saying.

HOW TO CONCEAL YOUR “WTF” BROW FURROW:

1) Botox
This would conceal my furrow – but also 90% of my facial expressions, so um…no.

What Chinese - Botox More Shots 300

2) Sunglasses
I’d look cool, but if I wear them indoors or at night, it would make other people furrow their brows – like “what’s up with that weird chick wearing her sunglasses 24/7?

What Chinese - Sunglasses 300

3) Bangs
No. Just no.

What Chinese - Bangs 350

4) Xanax
If I pop enough pills, nothing will bother me enough to furrow my brow in the first place! But then again, potential drug addiction…so, no me gusta.

What Chinese - Xanax 250

5) Masquerade Mask
Now here’s an intriguing and unique way to hide my furrowed brow. I love it! I’ll buy an array of colors and styles so I can wear these everywhere – the office, school pick-up, Target, the post office…

What Chinese - Mask 429

And when you see me in the grocery store 10-items-or-less checkout line, in my fancy masquerade mask – just when someone darts in front of me with CLEARLY 16 items and an out-of-state check – you can rest assured my brow is furrowed. Oh it is FURROWED, my friend!

So now YOU tell me:
1) What makes you furrow YOUR brow?
2) And what Chinese character does YOUR furrowed brow form?

— Darcy Perdu

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Who makes MY brow furrow?
Misbehaving Mamas at Back to School Meeting…
Husband Who Brings Home the Most Ridiculous Gift Ever
Party Guest with Outrageous Behavior

What Chinese Character Does YOUR Furrowed Brow Form?  I hoped mine might be "Wisdom" or "Peace," but NOPE!  Turns out it means...click to see!  #funny

He Whispers, “I’m Not Supposed to Do This, But…”

He looks left, then right, then pulls me aside to whisper, "I'm really not supposed to do this, but..."  #funny #dont-think-I-wont #humor

So then…Bessie attempts a tumble — stumbles, sputters, gasps, then dies.

I drape my body across my dryer and murmur, “Oh Bessie, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Time of death: halfway through the Towel Cycle, Which Also Includes My Panties, so Now My Dryer is Dead AND I’ve Got Damp Drawers.

Oh, how I loved this dryer – sturdy, dependable, full of hot air…(much like my third boyfriend)…and long-lasting (not at all like my third boyfriend).

In fact, this dryer (named the reliable, trustworthy Bessie) has out-lasted THREE finicky washers, named Natalia, Bianca, and Fiona. Fiona’s been repaired twice in the past 6 months alone, so I know it’s time to…

Gasp…buy a new washer-dryer set!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!

Get a hold of yourself, woman! It can’t be that difficult. Just Google that shit.

I type in “best price for washer and dryer” and the internet EXPLODES!

There are 10.1 MILLION results. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!

I’m overwhelmed by the multitude of choices. So I zip to a real-live store to talk to a real-live person.

“Hello, my name is Darren. Can I help you find something today?”

I turn to the nice young man and say mournfully, “Bessie is dead.”

He looks alarmed, like “Oh shit do I know someone named Bessie? Who is this chick? Why is she telling me Bessie’s dead? I sell appliances, not caskets!”

Being a consummate sales professional, Darren keeps these thoughts to himself.

I clarify. “Bessie, my Beloved Dryer, is dead. And Fiona the Washer is not far behind.”

“Ohhh,” says Darren, somewhat relieved that I’m not mourning a human death – and delighted I’m about to make a large purchase in his department.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve shopped for a washer-dryer though, so…” I gesture helplessly to the floor models. “I mean look at these washers – I don’t know if I need ‘Steam Clean, Aqua Jet, Blue LED Lights, or a Diamond Drum!’”

He smiles and asks, “Well, let’s start with the basics. Do you want a Top Load Washer or a Front Load Washer?”

SELF-Load, Darren. I want a SELF-load washer that will load ITSELF.”

He laughs. “Well, they haven’t invented that yet. But come look at these Top Load washers.”

Dryer - Washer See-Through

I peer into the CLEAR top of the washer. “Why is the top SEE-THROUGH?

“So you can see the clothes being washed,” he says enthusiastically.

Um, no. I do not want to know how the sausage is made, thankyouverymuch.

And who wants to watch clothes being washed? That’s just a step above watching paint dry, for God’s sake.

(Although – even as I’m typing this, I’m sure someone’s pitching a reality show based on this very concept right now! Coming this fall, Discovery Channel’s “DIRTY LAUNDRY” airs at 5 pm on Fridays AND 10 am on Saturdays AND 3 pm on Sundays AND…well, you get the point…the frickin’ laundry NEVER ENDS!)

But seriously, nobody wants to see behind the curtain. Not the phone, not the watch, and certainly not the washer.

Dryer - Phone Watch

The oven’s an entirely different matter.

A window to watch my chocolate chip cookies plump to a delicious golden brown? Yes please!

Dryer - Cookies

Apparently none of the washer-dryers here make cookies.

I open the needlessly-clear lid and look inside the washer.

“Hey!” I say, pointing at the empty cylinder. “Where’s the…the…?”

Dryer - No Agitator Angle

“Agitator?” asks Darren.

“Yeah, doesn’t it need that?’”

Dryer - Agitator Large

“No, it doesn’t really help wash the clothes.”  He grins.  “The agitator just ‘agitates’ them.”

OK perhaps that’s a hilarious joke amongst appliance folk, but now this is all I can picture:

Dryer - Captions with Agitator

Also, I’m highly suspicious of a washer without that swirly-thingamabob aka agitator in the middle. Will the clothes REALLY get clean without that pole-blade pushing them around?

(Well, I suppose I could stand there and WATCH the clothes through my handy-dandy SEE-THROUGH top to MAKE SURE they’re really getting clean.)

Aw fuck it. Who am I to tell WhirlpoolMaytagGESamsungKenmore how to do their job?

Yank out the agitator – make the lid see-through – add steam and 78 settings – fine. Whatevs. Can I please just leave here for less than $1500?

Seriously.

“Darren, when did washer dryers get so expensive? I thought they’d be about $400 each – these are all $700 bucks a pop!”

Darren looks right, then left, then motions me to the side of the aisle. He lowers his voice and says, “Look, I’m not supposed to do this, but…”

(OMIGOD! I LOVE when salespeople say that – in fact, I love when ANYONE says that! Because you KNOW that WHATEVER follows “I’m not supposed to do this, but…” is gonna be AWESOME!)

And it is.

He continues, “…we’re having a huge sale starting in 3 days, so if you can wait until then, you can save over $500 on this set right here.”

He guides me to his desk computer, where he opens the sale ad on his employee email.

I look at the set. It’s fancy. And yes I can wait 3 days. I’ll tell everyone in my family to get cozy in their undies cuz they’re gonna wear those puppies for 3 days straight.

“Awesome, Darren! You’re the best. I’ll be back in 3 days. And the store delivers?”

“Oh, yes,” he assures me. “Our team will deliver the washer-dryer to your home, set them up, haul away the old ones, and—”

“—stay to do the laundry?” I ask hopefully.

He laughs. “No, no, they won’t do that.”

“Well, a girl can dream,” I say.

He gives me his card; I thank him profusely; I promise to return in 3 days for the purchase.

When I get home, I practically skip into the living room where David and our teen son Tucker are watching TV.

“How’d the washer dryer hunt go?” asks David.

“I made a friend! His name is Darren! He’s saving me $500 on a washer dryer!” Pause “I have to sleep with him, but still…”

$500? Totally worth it,” says David.

Tucker laughs and returns to his TV show.

He knows that OF COURSE I wouldn’t sleep with a salesman just to save $500.

(But I tell you what, whoever invents that SELF-loading washer, you’ve got a freebie comin’ your way, baby!)

— Darcy Perdu

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(What do you wish YOUR washer-dryer could do? Any “special deals” a nice salesperson gave you? What’s a good name for a reality show about laundry?)