Hula Girl Chucks Her Chastity

Shannon Kernaghan wed-4 Hula Girl Chucks Her Chastity Culture Drinking Hawaii Hula Girls Humor Parties Sex Tropical

 

I’m in the mood for another stagette. At my last, the highlight prop of the eve was a metal chastity belt for the betrothed. This locking chain device was straight from a tickle trunk of the Spanish Inquisition. The belt didn’t stay on our bride-to-be for long. I tried it; sitting on cold rigid metal isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

The Hawaiian costume we brought stayed on a little longer. My friend was adorable in the colorful leis, hula skirt and flower-covered bra she wore over her clothing. Not surprisingly, she attracted plenty of interest from men in the bar.

As the evening progressed, we moved to a club where we danced long into the night. The betrothed removed her grass skirt, and then off came the floral bra. At some point I slipped on the bra and leis to become the latest Hula Girl. The details are a little hazy, Your Honor. I blame the light show and loud music. Tack on the trays of shooters.

The night was packed with learning lessons.

Lesson one: hang out on the dance floor with attractive young women and men will quickly orbit. I danced with a cute guy who turned our fast dance into a slow, touchy-feely tango. The imprint of his plaid shirt stuck to me for days.

Did I feel flattered that a much younger man wanted me to join his table? Sure, for 30 seconds. But I’m not stupid. I knew where I stood, or tangoed, in the wild kingdom’s pecking order. On the dance floor I was the older antelope of the herd. If a man – let’s compare him to a lion – was unsuccessful in capturing a younger, prettier member, he figured he can pick off me, the slower one.

Lesson two: I look better to people who imbibe. For an instant ego boost I shall spend more time in places that serve liquor. Lots of it.

Lesson three: a little costuming goes a long way. Countless men reached out and stroked, poked or squeezed my Hawaiian bra as I walked past. The first few times I was shocked, since I forgot I was wearing it. By the tenth man to cop a feel, I realized that it doesn’t take much to stir up that lion’s den.

When I later complained to Paul how men felt entitled to grab me simply because I draped a few plastic flowers across my chest, he answered, “Then why didn’t you just take it off?”

Um, good point. Again, I blame those shooter trays.

Now where did I leave that Hawaiian get-up? I hope to wear it again soon. I might be an aging antelope, but I’m still running with the herd.

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Beware the Grammar Slammer

Shannon Kernaghan Grammar-Slammer-400 Beware the Grammar Slammer Culture Deception Humor Lifestyle Relationship

 

Here’s a frightening thought – grammar is a window into your soul. It’s not what you say as much as how you say it. And it’s not only what you utter, but what you type into your computer. Yikes!

After reviewing the patterns of politicians, court witnesses and bloggers, linguistic experts can identify a person’s sex and age by the words they choose. Your choice of words is revealed by the pronouns, articles and prepositions you use as well as how you end your sentences because it’s oh-so tempting to end on “to.”

Apparently liars don’t throw around the “I” word. And they’re equally stingy with “but,” “without” and “except.” Those words make the lie more difficult to keep straight, according to linguists.

The analysis extended to the wacky world of dating. After studying 1,600 personal ads on a dating website, some definite trends have surfaced. Turns out women use the words “no” and “never” the most. My husband Paul heartily agrees with that summation.

“Honey, wanna buy a [fill in any type of expensive watercraft/tool/ toy]?” he’ll ask with childlike innocence.

“No, not now.”

“When?”

“How ‘bout never.”

Back to dating. Gay men use long words in their ads. Lesbians tend to use shorter words and write the shortest ads. Straight men use long sentences and swear more often. No wonder their sentences are longer – those expletives take up space. Based on the study’s 80% accuracy rate, this is useful info if you’re looking for love through the personals, unless you’re lying about yourself or your sexual orientation.

One of my friends opted for online dating and is now married to the man she met through the web. Since she had success, she sent me her Woman’s Dictionary for Personal Ads:

  • attractive = pathological liar
  • 40ish = 49
  • easygoing = desperate
  • contagious smile = does a lot of pills
  • New Age = body hair issues
  • sociable = loud and obnoxious
  • fit = flat chested
  • hot-blooded = sloppy drunk
  • needs soul mate = stalker

Obviously this dictionary is more about reading between the lines than analyzing the actual words.

Phew, I’m getting tired, and a little depressed by all of this revealing analysis. Soon I’ll be afraid to write anything for fear of being confused with a liar or a politician. Wait, that didn’t come out as intended . . . or did it?

I’d better go and carefully dangle a few participles before I get into serious trouble.

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My Beer is Child-Lite

Shannon Kernaghan Spy-on-Girl-4 My Beer is Child-Lite Beer Childhood Culture Family Lifestyle Pets and Animals Relationship

I don’t want children. My decision is not for physical or political reasons, or because I had a rotten childhood. It’s simply a personal decision.

I refer to myself as child-free. If I call myself child-less, it suggests I’m missing something, like a limb. On the contrary, I feel quite intact.

Well-meaning people have made what I consider dumb comments in regards to my choice. One woman said, “Don’t you want to leave behind a little piece of yourself?” She asked this while struggling to hold a red-faced squealing toddler in her arms.

“Not really,” I said as her son kicked her in the shins. Her face melded to a mix of grin and grimace.

I’m not geared for this kind of commitment. When Paul and I are out for coffee, I order a to-go cup, even if we plan to stay. What if I want to finish it later, or what if I want to leave? It’s obvious I’m not a fan of long-term leases or events that map out my future.

My biological clock must be set on perpetual snooze because countless women have told me there’s no turning off that shrill buzzer. But I’ve never heard mine. If I were a brand of beer, I’d be Child-Lite.

The other dumb comment I hear is, “Won’t you regret not having children when you’re old?” I liken this to being born with one eye and then asked if you miss the second. How do I know? Since I’ve never had the urge to reproduce, it’s tough to regret what I’ve yet to miss.

This subject of children comes down to choice and circumstances. Perhaps if Paul and I could put down deeper roots instead of always wanting to move or travel, I might have been more enthusiastic. And I’d probably be a decent mother, if the wonderful relationship I’ve shared with my own mom is any indication.

For example, I’d pass on sage advice to a son: “Don’t run with that stick. What are you trying to do, poke out your eye? You’ll miss that eye when you’re old!”

Or to a teenage daughter, “You need a bra under that top. It’s so transparent I can see what you’re thinking!” Um . . . perhaps I’m channeling my own mother here.

It’s easier to compare apples to apples. Or babies to cats. We had cats for years and I was absurdly maternal in regards to their well-being. I lost sleep, wept buckets and altered trip plans over our four-legged friends. Paul once chose a house “because the cats will love the screened-in porch and balcony!” But not everyone wants cats.

His comment is the most realistic yet: “If we have a kid, it’ll be the baby, the cat, and then me. I’ll come third!”

Is that an alarm clock I hear in the distance? Nope, it’s only the buzzer on my dryer. I might not have children, but I still have plenty of laundry.

So go forth and multiply. Or not.

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Mother’s Day Guns & Ammo

Shannon Kernaghan Moms-gun-4 Mother’s Day Guns & Ammo Childhood Humor Relationship

With Mother’s Day this Sunday, all of you children – and you know who you are – should honor your mothers. If you don’t want to praise her with fancy dinners or gifts of perfume and jewelry, try a refreshing angle. Use the opportunity as a day of confession to bring you closer.

I’ve named this year the Mother’s Day Air Clearing Event. The process is simple and I’ll demonstrate with a practice run.

Start by phoning your mother. Better to unload your conscience from a distance than in person because your mom’s dropping jaw and arching eyebrows will become too distracting. If you must be in the same room, remove all guns, ammo, and projectiles from her reach.

Here goes. Mom? Remember when I was a teenager and told you those purple marks on my neck were burns from my curling iron? They weren’t. Oh, you already knew? Then this confession doesn’t count. Yes, mother, same reason I wore a turtleneck during that July heat wave. If it’s any consolation, he was a really cute lifeguard.

Mom? Remember when you found a dent in your car and I played dumb? Turns out my friend, Julie, accidentally bumped your door when she drove me home one night. She was too embarrassed to tell you and swore me to secrecy. You figured that much? True, Julie didn’t come around for a few weeks. You’re good! Apparently you DO have eyes in the back of your head.

Mom? Remember years ago how I said the dog made that stain on your white recliner? Well, it was me. I spilled a glass of grape juice and blamed Mini’s weak bladder. I might have blamed her bladder on a few spills, now that I think of it. I know, you’d just had it recovered. What was irresponsible, telling a lie or drinking grape juice on a white recliner? You’re right, both.

Isn’t this air clearing a fun way to spend Mother’s Day . . . Mom? Are you still there? Sounds like she hung up. I haven’t even made it to the part about the kitchen fire or the sunken canoe. The news of her stained chair must have been too much for her heart.

Maybe I’ll save the confessions and dazzle her with a handmade card and throw in some verse. Dear Mother: Roses are red, Violets are brown, For putting up with me as a teenager, You deserve a night on the town.

My gardening isn’t any better than my poetry, which is why my violets are brown.

I hope the stores are open tonight. In an emergency, it’s acceptable to buy a card packed with canned sentiments. Hallmark and Carlton are my heroes.

Along with my card, I’ll play it safe and give her a day-at-the-spa gift certificate. Or money. I still owe her for that dent in her car. Love you, Mom.

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Caved In

Shannon Kernaghan Caved-In-4 Caved In Family Health Lifestyle Relationship Uncategorized

 

“He’s not waking, should we get him to Emerg?” a nurse asked.

“No, he hasn’t seized,” said another. “Give him a minute.”

Emerg? Seized? I tasted my morning coffee, now bitter.

He suddenly opened his eyes and yawned once, twice. “I was dreaming.”

“Welcome back, Mr. –” he’s out again, unconscious.

I took hold of his hand and they worked around my kneeling form.

****

From the beginning of Paul’s dance with doctors, I’ve sat next to him and squeezed his hand through the pronouncement of hemochromatosis. The first doctor said his high iron level – if left untreated – will make him sicker than he already felt, possibly kill him. Her laundry list started with cirrhosis and diabetes, moved to cancer, and ended with heart failure.

Heart failure like his mother at age 54? Bingo.

Until recently, she explained, the test for serum ferritin, the protein that stores iron, wasn’t routinely done. Worse, the complaints of fatigue and joint pain were misdiagnosed.

Listening became a struggle under her florescent office lights. I thought about how life can change in a blink. Our turn.

“Is there any medication to get rid of the excess iron?” Paul asked.

“No, only weekly bloodletting for the next six to nine months–”

“Wait,” I interrupted, “bloodletting as in removing blood?” She nodded and explained the phlebotomy procedure. Visions of a medieval barber with a sharp knife and collecting bowl were close to her description: take one 16-gauge needle, pierce into crook of arm and withdraw 500-mls of crimson. Every week, a Sweeney Todd donation.

When you give blood, you’re advised to wait a couple of months between donations yet Paul would undergo two phlebotomies in six days.

****

Because his iron levels were dangerously high, the doctor ordered another round of tests. We returned to the hospital where I sat in the lab’s waiting room. The murmur of Paul’s voice was replaced with a woman’s call for help. I jumped up and followed a second nurse through the lab door. Paul was propped on a chair, motionless, his eyelids shut and head tilted to the side. My only question: “Did he fall and hit his head?”

“No,” the nurse said as she draped a wet cloth across his forehead and pressed another with ice cubes on the back of his neck. His usual ruddy skin was translucent.

She pointed to perspiration that beaded his knuckles. I wiped them dry with my hoody sleeve. After several decades together, I’ve never seen him so vulnerable.

****

When I guide myself onto the rink, hand-over-hand along the boards, I balance on razor blades, not ice skates. Paul sits behind Plexiglas and videos my inaugural skate.

Skate to center ice, I see his mouth move as I totter past, my head fighting the urge to tip backwards. He waves his free hand, wanting me to give him something video-worthy.

No way, I mouth back. Instead, I reach for a nearby skate aid that resembles a walker, a gizmo used by many of the children. Quickly, I soar between pockets of people, even if my “training wheels” are responsible for this renewed confidence. I’m careful to avoid small bodies that race past, practiced and fearless during Family Skate afternoon at our local arena.

A toddler who grips his own skate aid slides near and extends his arm. Braden is stenciled in black across the front of his white helmet. He’s trying to help me. Then I sigh and accept his mitten-covered hand. With locked hands, Braden and I make a slow loop around the rink, his father following behind.

****

I rue the iron that overloads his system, the “Celtic Curse” genes bequeathed by ancestors on distant battlefields of lavender darkened by bloodshed, bodies hoarding iron to live another crusade. Today Paul rides into battle with a Honda Civic, not a trusty steed. His arsenal consists of leathers and a welding stinger, not a shield and sword.

He had to sign forms that allowed our health care providers to release test results and instructions to me. Otherwise, in this movement of perceived privacy, people on the other end of the phone won’t even let me set up his appointments.

It’s not that he can’t take care of these details, but I want to be supportive. The seeds of my advocacy were planted through more bouts of unconsciousness and a weekly series of painful needles, needles that poke and mine for iron-rich treasure. Needles that can’t always withdraw enough blood but leave muddy bruises, painful for days.

I have become lead researcher, studying labels to avoid buying iron-enriched products. No easy task as every staple I reach for is heavily fortified, from cereal to bread and pasta. Sayonara to the red meat he loves, and ciao to shellfish. I read bulletin boards written by my new community of iron-overload victims.

“How do you feel?” I ask after each hospital session.

“My chest feels caved in and my back has a weird ache. It’s hard to explain.” He no longer works on phleb days. After the hospital, he eyes our couch like a welcoming pair of arms.

****

In the dark of night I weep into my pillow, careful not to wake Paul. I worry about him, his future health and freedoms uncertain. Other nights I feel sorry for myself, forced to shelve our plans for a warm desert getaway. In place of travel, we brace ourselves for a grey-white winter of Alberta cold and snow. “Until we get this sorted out,” I say aloud, my mantra.

After lowering his serum ferritin level, Paul should need less frequent “maintenance” sessions and lab work. More selfish thoughts circle, buzzards: no more leisurely evenings dreaming together over a bottle of red wine as the disorder makes him susceptible to cirrhosis.

Paul is more stoic. “Whadya gonna do,” and he’ll shrug. “At least I won’t die like my mom.”

****

Paul waves me over; we have to leave for the hospital before the lab closes. He needs blood work done again, something about a significant drop in his hemoglobin.

“Dammit, I’m just starting to get the hang of this.”

“So stay, have fun. I’ll pick you up later.”

I face him through the glass. “Are you sure?” He nods. This will be the first time he’ll go on his own, whether for blood work, bloodletting or trips to specialists of hematology and gastroenterology. For ultrasounds and FibroScans.

I’ve imagined him going solo, in the event of scheduling conflicts. Cool compresses and warm blankets will envelop his fears – of needles, blood, hospitals – and a familiar face will greet him, call out, “I’m ready for you, my blood brother.” Tall and strong, he’ll walk towards that voice, that needle presented in open palms, an offering.

He leaves me on the ice, waving, and I feel unexpectedly happy, not only that I’m skating, sort of, but that he’s confident to go without me. I watch him walk through the arena door, sloughing off his own training wheels.

 

Spring 2017  Flare  – The Flagler Review

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Real Dogs

Shannon Kernaghan Humphrey-400 Real Dogs Humor Memories Pets and Animals

I like to attend an occasional Kennel Club show, not because I prefer purebreds but because I marvel at how people fuss over their canines. At a previous show, Paul and I spoke with a woman who feverishly backcombed the fur of a standard poodle.

“How long does it take to get him ready?” Paul asked.

“Including the bath? Three hours.” The black poodle, shaved to pom-pom perfection, ignored us and rested his head on a padded chin holder. With three hours of grooming, I’d also need a chin holder. And I’d never look as good.

Next to the dog’s grooming table was a cannon-sized hair dryer. It required its own stand with rolling wheels. While we continued to bombard the owner with inane comments, she applied “Grand Finale” hair spray to the dog’s head.

I pulled Paul’s arm to leave. When both owner and dog ignore you, it’s time to move on.

We headed to the display of styling products. If dogs had pockets to keep credit cards, they’d do some serious retail therapy. I scanned the shelves: Udderly Smooth, Ear-So-Fresh, Crisp Coat, Silk Texturizing Super Coat and Get-It-Straight. I purchased a bottle of Get-It-Straight for me, as well as several stainless steel spray containers. I hate when animals have better bathroom accessories.

After the tour of beauty products, we wandered past booths of doggy accessories, marveling at racks of vests, bandannas, pet wraps and a selection of what looked like colorful underwear called Bitch Britch, in three convenient sizes.

On our way out of the hall, I spotted a woman lathering her dog’s snout with shaving cream before dragging a razor carefully over its cheeks.

“Come on,” and I pulled my husband’s arm again. “This I’ve got to see.” On closer inspection, I realized the small dog had no fur. She looked like smooth chocolate, at least what I could detect under her baggy sweater (the dog’s sweater, not the owner’s). Now it was my turn to ask the questions.

“Do you shave her entire body?”

“No, just her whiskers,” said the woman. “The breed is a Xoloitzcuintle.”

“Pardon?”

“Mexican Hairless.” She pointed towards a pen with four equally hairless creatures, all wearing stylish sweaters. Instead of a hair dryer, her dogs require a wardrobe.

“Where do you find such great clothing?”

She turned to us with an audible sigh. “Honey, if you’ve got the money, you can find anything you want for your dog.” Paul wanted to keep asking questions: do they need sunscreen in the summer and how much does she pay for home heating because those were some naked puppies. We didn’t get the chance. It was show time for her and the rest of the non-sporting group.

I should have been impressed by these potential best in breeds. I wasn’t. The one thing missing in this assortment of purebred perfection was a real dog.

I grew up with a real dog, a Pointer/Dalmatian/Your Guess combo who howled outside our front door one winter night. My sister let him in, no one claimed him and he never left. Humphrey didn’t have a name with titles or descend from special lineage, yet he became a valued member of our home for a decade.

Besides his daily food, seasonal baths and annual vet visits, Humphrey’s needs were basic. If he rolled in something unpleasant, we bumped up his bath schedule. If pests bothered him, we treated him with Flea Bath for Dogs. He sure didn’t need a hair dryer. A few laps around the back yard did the trick, providing he didn’t find anything dead along his path to roll in again.

His skills? He had a flare for performance. He’d say “I want my mamma” when treats were dangled. Another skill: craftiness. At the sound of the garage door opening, which meant a parent had arrived home, he’d hightail it off their comfy bed and hurry to his own dog cushion. The telltale warm and hair-coated circular impression in the bedspread always betrayed him.

Finally, he had street smarts. He recognized the dog catcher’s boxy vehicle and knew to make a hasty retreat for home. Once I saw him gallop around our corner followed by the evil truck 50 feet behind. (We grew up in suburbia, before neighbors objected to free-roaming pooches.)

Who won the biggest trophy at that last dog show? Not sure. We never stayed to watch the final judging because all the dogs looked like winners.

But there’d be no contest if any were pitted against Humphrey. He was a real dog.

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Hear Me Flush

Shannon Kernaghan Hear-me-Flush Hear Me Flush RV Travel

There are days when I crave a simple life, one that features a scenic stroll or laughing with my favorite people over wine and food.

Since I’m not a paragliding, jet skiing, bungee jumping thrill seeker, my cravings are easily satisfied.

The above definition works when I’m on my own. Add a drop of partner to the mix and my life can go from simple to frenzied. Paul’s “big picture” also includes simplicity although adding toys to the tableaux can create challenges.

Toys, like chocolate chips in cookie dough, are enhancers. These enhancers will give you a cheery endorphin high, or painful cavities and a headache, if you’re allergic to cocoa.

Same goes when you decide to buy an RV.

Don’t assume I’m not a team player. I lusted for a trailer as much as Paul did, and together we spent months weighing the pros and cons of various sizes and designs. Did I say months? Let’s just say RV salespeople stopped returning our calls or making eye contact in the showroom.

We finally found one that pushed all the right buttons, even had an adorable miniature bathroom with a tub and shower combo. There’s no rule that I have to be dirty while camping. It’s bad enough – with my oversized bib overalls – that I resemble SpongeBob SquarePants. If nothing else, I want to smell fresh.

Envision us camped alongside a babbling brook, enjoying nature, reveling in the great outdoors . . .

Pause on the great outdoors. We picked up the trailer at 4 pm on a Thursday and within hours had suffered our first damage. That adorable bathroom was soaked from hail that smashed the rooftop vent and took out part of the ceiling fan.

That means we’re hail-christened, right? We’ll never have to worry about hail again.

Pause on the hail. After setting up the awning and unfolding our lawn chairs at our first camp site, those innocent-looking clouds dumped not only rain but more lashing hail. It hammered the kitchen roof vent and sounded like Jiffy Pop. I waited for that vent to join the broken one above my adorable toilet.

“Are we having fun yet?” I called out.

The hail stopped long enough for us to start a camp fire. Then another onslaught of rain followed.

This time Paul was prepared with a tarp to cover our fire. Now envision us hunched under that tarp, each holding up a corner and gasping for air next to the smoky fire.

Through fits of coughing I called out, “Is this the fun part?”

Between hail and rain, I had a quick lesson in gray and black water, brake controls and leveling blocks. Ask me anything about hitches, water pumps and propane bottles.

I also learned that Whiskey Jacks steal food from your plate when your back is turned, and squirrels will bite the fingers and toes of those who feed them. Plus, birds only poop on clean clothes and towels, never dirty laundry.

But was I having fun? Damn straight. I loved it and didn’t want to leave when our supplies dwindled. After five days it was either go home or start eyeing the squirrels’ nuts.

While discovering ash smudges in unmentionable creases, I suddenly realized I’m an official RV Woman. Hear me roar.

Turns out I fulfilled my simple wish – strolls in the scenic woods and meals with one of my favourite people.

Now that I’m an RV Woman, I’m ready for a few more drops of action added to the cookie dough. Bring on the chocolate chips. And hear me flush my adorable toilet.

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