You Call This Retail Therapy?

Shannon Kernaghan Therapy-400 You Call This Retail Therapy? Challenge Comedy Culture Fashion Fun Health Humor Lifestyle Memoir Relationship Sex Shopping

I enjoy a good sale. The best experience is one that melds impulsiveness with rock-bottom prices.

Last week I set out to buy a box of bandages. Instead of going directly from the store’s First Aid aisle to the cashier, I wandered past a section filled with sale items. 

The write-up on one of those items read: “Sick and tired of snoring? Relief is right under your nose.” The front of the box pictures a couple in bed. The man is asleep, mouth open, while the woman is wide awake with eyes that stare towards the ceiling. Her expression? “Kill me now.”

Flip the box over. The “after” shot shows the couple sleeping contentedly. His mouth is closed and hers is upturned in a happy smile. She wears glossy lipstick.

I bought it and saved $6. When I finished pawing through instructions and packaging, all that remained was a tiny piece of opaque plastic resembling a clip-on earring.

At bedtime I re-read the instructions: “Once in position, you can move about, lie down to sleep and even take a run.”

Now why would anyone wear this when running? People might pant, but they don’t snore.

More helpful notes: “The nasal dilator tips are to fit comfortably against the septum.” Since the illustration was too tiny to be useful, I looked up the definition of septum: “The dividing wall or membrane between bodily spaces – compare dissepiment.” I did compare and found “See septum.” 

I was running out of patience. And night.

Then I applied lipstick. Not really but I should have, as a courtesy to my husband. After all, the contents in my bedside drawer scream anything but sexy. The foam earplugs shout, “Turn down the TV, I’m trying to sleep, dammit!” and my cumbersome mouth guard hollers, “Stop clenching your teeth!”

Did I mention the snoring gadget is for me? My husband also snores but with my earplugs in place, I’m oblivious.

By 4:30 a.m. I yanked off the contraption. The instructions had referred to a dilating action; I only experienced pinching, like the slow strangle of tight socks.

As for the dilator with its claims of no sticky strips, no skin irritation and no side effects, I’ll add my own critique: no work.

If my husband doesn’t like my occasional snorts and snuffles, he can move to the couch. At least I won’t have to bother with any lipstick.

After all of this retail therapy, I may need some actual therapy!

audio version song
“Cancun”
by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena

Hands Off The Pooch!

Shannon Kernaghan Hands-off-my-pooch-400 Hands Off The Pooch! Challenge Childhood children Comedy Culture Family Fun Health Humor Lifestyle Love Memoir parents Relationship Sex

My husband has begun an annoying habit while we relax in bed: he plays with my stomach as if it’s bread dough.

“Stop it!” I yell and slap at his pawing hand. ”This isn’t Silly Putty!”

Although I’ve never been pregnant, I can empathize when people reach out to rub a woman’s  rotund stomach. Those people envision a beautiful growing baby and are drawn to it, the same way they’re attracted to a puppy or kitten.

Conversely, those pregnant women see a groping hand reaching towards them and they’ve never felt so territorial.

Men must endure similar attention. I’m referring to men who’ve shaved their heads to a downy fuzz.

My hand trembles with desire to sweep my palm across all that fuzz. Now it’s tough to concentrate on what the guy is saying. Downy. Alluring. Must touch.  

There’s nothing sexual about it. If anything, my psyche is probably reconnecting with my youth where I played with my Ken doll, the kind with the peach-fuzz head. Sure, Barbie had great golden locks, but Ken’s head was something special.

Let’s shelve my downy head hang-up and get back to pregnant women. Lately great emphasis is placed on the prenatal experience. Parents don’t simply talk to their unborn babies but also read to them and play selected music.

Embryologists say that the ear is the first organ to develop, that it becomes functional after only eighteen weeks and baby listens actively from twenty-four weeks on.Speaking, reading and singing to a baby before birth is said to enhance its ability to distinguish sounds after birth. Some scientists believe that babies understand what’s being said around them.

I find that hard to believe. If babies understand from an early age, why is it such a struggle to toilet train them or teach them why they can’t throw Daddy’s keys into the toilet? For keys, they have no problem with the flush.

If you have extra time in your busy day, why not buy a device that allows you to hear, record and e-mail your unborn baby’s heartbeat and hiccups.

Here’s one ad I found online: “Listen to these sounds with the baby’s father, siblings or friends. You will also hear the nutrients passing through the placenta.”

I wouldn’t be too keen to share sounds from my placenta; once that child is born, we’ll be treated to enough sounds. My device of choice would be ear plugs.

My own mother was busy with four children before I arrived. Little concern went towards my in utero experience. I’m thankful enough that Mom didn’t smoke, slam shooters or play with hallucinogens while she was pregnant.

As for my non-pregnant pooch, I’ve created a new rule in our household: I’ll let my sweetheart squeeze my belly if he shaves his head and lets me stroke his fuzz. Now that’ll be a Friday night tale to tell the non-kids. 

audio song The Nexxus Riddum
by
Konrad Old Money

Faux Families in Your Neighborhood

Shannon Kernaghan clapboard-400 Faux Families in Your Neighborhood Adventure Belongings Career Challenge Culture Family Humor Lifestyle Parties Real Estate Relationship Sales

You have to admire a city that makes a living out of creating fantasy. I’m referring to Los Angeles – home to movie stars, Rodeo Drive, Universal Studios and a whole lot of hype.

There’s a new thrill for those who cruise through show homes to look for decorating tips or fresh digs. Dig this headline: “L.A. realtor uses actors to sell new homes, family dog not included.”

One development features a model house with a “faux” family where perspective buyers open the door to find a barefoot man in his 30s who shouts “Hello!” from the kitchen and offers juice to the shoppers’ children.

His friendly faux wife hands out cookies hot from the oven. On the counter is a birthday cake with candles and on the mantle are birthday cards.

Let’s get the kids in on this production: two adolescents invite shoppers to see their professionally decorated rooms.

These paid actors are hired to show how life could be for you and yours. Simply add a real family to this Betty Crocker mix.

My friend, a realtor for decades, has seen and heard it all and she learned early about the protocol for holding open houses.

First, you show up with your Open House sandwich board. If you’re smart, you arrive ahead of time to make sure the homeowners have shoveled the walk and emptied the dirty diaper pail. Sometimes you get stuck doing these doo-ties.

“This is intimate stuff,” the agent said. “It’s impossible to enter a home and not feel personal, especially when someone is sitting on the couch wrapped in a towel after their shower and the family dog is relieving itself against your car tire.”

Next came the tough love: “Take a hike, people,” she’d yell. “Buyers will be knocking on your door any moment now.” That gave her two advertised hours to do her job and find a keen buyer.

That’s the open house in theory. In reality, her day might take another turn.

One of those wrong turns was when she held her first open house. She described the adorable homeowners, a couple in their early 100s who were anxious to downsize.

But my agent friend soon realized they weren’t going anywhere. They planted their large arthritic selves in the small living room and waited. They were going to “help” her make a sale.

They created zero L.A. ambience, unless buyers wanted to picture themselves as elderly and slow moving. Sensible shoes a prerequisite.

After a quick tour of the house, one man with an accent started to pull on his boots to leave.

“Can I answer any more questions for you?” my agent friend asked.

“No thanks, I’m looking for a home with a separate dining room.”

“Where he comes from they eat on dirt floors,” called out Mr. Helpful Homeowner, “and now he wants a dining room?”

Much like that full diaper pail, her new-agent smell was turning sour.

As for L.A., the best offshoot from this show home innovation is that emerging actors can land temporary jobs and stretch their skills.

And this gives “dinner theatre” an entirely new spin. Sure, the audiences are smaller and there’s a whole lot of scene repetition around the kitchen table, but it’s a gig.

And . . . action!

Audio backing track
“Licklee”
by
The Vandals

Cave Comedians Rock!

Shannon Kernaghan cave-club-drawing-450 Cave Comedians Rock! Career Comedy Culture Drinking Food Fun Humor Parties Read Along

My husband and I watched an old episode of “Seinfeld,” one with comedy highlights from the many years the series ran.

“This is hilarious stuff. Every little bit is funny,” I said. 

“That’s because you’ve already seen the episodes and know the characters,” Paul answered. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t make sense.”

I was about to do what I usually do when challenged – argue – but he was correct. Comedy, much like calculus or Shakespeare, is difficult to understand or appreciate unless you start at the beginning. In other words, you need the Seinfeld 101 course before you can progress to your PhD in HaHa.

While our tastes change, I bet we haven’t altered much over the eons, at least in the way we enjoy laughter and entertainment. 

Stop and think about our early ancestors, those cave dwellers who lived before the invention of the wheel. What do we really know about them? We can only guess what made them laugh out loud, or hoot and holler with chimp-like shrieks. For all we know, they watched stand-up comedians like we do at Yuk Yuks today.

I’d love to be a primordial fly on the cave wall when the first act took place at a rock stage near you: “Thank you, thank you very much. So where y’all from? That crater by the lava flow? I didn’t think any vertebrates still lived there [nervous giggling, hairy foot shuffling] . . . I just flew in from the tar pits and are my knuckles ever tired!”

Now comes the sound of applause or grunts of satisfaction. Hard to tell whether the register is delight or anger, with those prominent jaws and swept-back foreheads.

From the back, a heckler growls something off-color. 

“What’s that, your knuckles don’t drag? Sheesh, there’s a Neanderthal in every cave!” More applause and some supportive rock throwing ensues.

The show ends on familiar note: “You’ve been a great crowd, thanks for coming to Kruk Kruks. Be good to your servers – no hair pulling. And look out for those sabre-tooth tigers on your way home.”

Audience members pull on their animal hides and claim their clubs at the door. The Comedy Cave quickly empties. 

Then, everyone makes a quick (tar) pit stop before queuing up for the drag-through window of the nearest Golden Arches. A Big Mammoth, pterodactyl nuggets, name your poison. Whatever gets you through the Paleolithic night.

With six million years of evolution under our gene pool belt there’s an undeniable amount of variation, but those hominid similarities do exist. We had “Seinfeld,” they had “Trog.”

I’ll never gaze into a campfire the same way again. And I’ll never take my handy canister of Wet Ones for granted, thanks to our ancestors who were there at the dawn of intelligence.

To all of you cave comedians, you rock!

Audio version song “Fancy”
by
Saidbysed

Hormones & Horoscopes Don’t Control Me

Shannon Kernaghan Hormones-and-Horoscopes-450 Hormones & Horoscopes   Don't Control Me Adventure Challenge Culture Family Food Fun Humor Memories Read Along Risk Sex

I enjoy the wisdom that fortune cookies hold. You can’t drag me away from my restaurant chair until I’ve read mine and everyone else’s. No fortune should go undigested, even if all are computer generated and duplicated into the millions.

Sometimes the advice is clever: “Never wear a watch that has more buttons than one has fingers.”

The best fortunes I’ve ever had were from my sister. Linda gave my husband a box called Miss Fortune Cookies – Fortunes for the Real World. The first one I opened read: “You will soon spend time in a foreign jail.” How cheering. Another was: “You’re paranoid, but that doesn’t mean the CIA isn’t tracking you.”

I have as much faith in fortune cookie advice as I have with my daily horoscope. I smirk at the fiery love life my stars promise to deliver: “You’ll find yourself in a romantic clinch that really sizzles tonight.”

Or, is this insight intended for my husband, since we share the same sign?

If I believed in horoscopes, that last one might worry me because Paul’s working out of town tonight . . . better give him a call and tell him how much I adore him, just to be on the safe side.

Rather than dwell on dashed romance, I’ll share more of Miss Fortune’s insights: “No matter how hard you lobby, they will not put a TV in your prison cell.” (Miss Fortune must have done some hard time, with all her references to incarceration.)

And then there’s my fave: “Hats lined with newspaper offer some protection against falling debris.” These are logical fortunes that go well with my mood.

Speaking of mood, my newsfeeds suggest that women should plan their schedules around their hormonal cycles. The findings are great in theory, but as with fortune cookies and horoscopes, not everything has practical applications.

This hormonology recommends my actions during a 28-day cycle. From days one to 14, I’m going to be interested in sex; however, on days 22 and 23, I might as well re-caulk the tub. The fireworks aren’t going to be spectacular.

I’ve no idea how these experts coordinate their lives, but postponing events isn’t always feasible, or friendly.

Let’s compare sex to camping. Some days I don’t feel like camping. Perhaps I’d rather lounge with a book and a glass of wine.

But there’s my husband to consider. He’s already packed the truck and is eager to hit the road. What am I supposed to say, “Sorry fella, my hormonal chart isn’t in your court today”?

Instead, I pull on my hiking boots and bring the marshmallows. The campfire is quickly lit and . . . whatya know? Once we toast our marshmallows, we both end up having fun. Spectacular fun.

For me, a tailor-made approach works best, not a one-size-fits-all, whether we’re talking cycles or stars.

The only certainty is that retailers aren’t behind this cyclical wisdom when your horoscope or hormonology reads: “Don’t make any major purchases today.” And imagine those poor credit card companies, but that’s the way the (fortune) cookie crumbles.

Miss Fortune will have the last word: “Get under a sturdy piece of furniture or door frame and hold on.” Now that’s advice I can wrap my head around.

Audio story music
“Fancy”
by Saidbysed

I’m Sorry, I’m Canadian

Shannon Kernaghan cartoon-beaver-colored-400 I'm Sorry, I'm Canadian Adventure Challenge Culture Family Humor Lifestyle Read Along Relationship

Canadians must be a sorry lot because they’re always saying they’re sorry. When I bumped into a woman at the grocery store, she was the first to apologize even though it was my fault. No contest, we’re all sorry.

I’ve said “sorry” after someone walks in front and cuts me off, and after banging my knapsack against a street sign or hitting my knee on the coffee table. I’ve heard myself apologize to a cashier after being overcharged, as if I did something wrong. I’ve gone beyond sorry; I’m flirting with pathetic.

I want to act more like my hero, Judge Judy. I watched back-to-back episodes of her courtroom TV for the first time. This woman is amazing. And lucky. Not only does she get paid Hollywood big bucks to wave her legal wand over a teenager suing an ex-boyfriend for throwing a bagel, but Judge Judy gets far greater license — she’s allowed to yell at people.

Judy doesn’t need to burn off frustration through Tai Bo classes or therapy sessions. All she has to do is go to work. If I could yell at people in my courtroom, I’d be pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. And I’d almost feel guilty about cashing those hefty pay checks. I said almost.

“Want justice? Call Judge Judy.” Are you kidding? What sane plaintiff and defendant would voluntarily go before this Queen of Scream when there’s a 99% chance of public humiliation, broadcast to millions of viewers. Not only is the guilty party raked over Judy’s fiery coals, but the innocent person can be thrashed as well. Apparently no one should waste Judy’s time with ridiculous law suits.

You have a good excuse for throwing your son’s computer through the window? Don’t bother explaining as Judy doesn’t care. No witnesses, pictures and receipts to support your claim or defense? Go tell it to the mountain – Judy refuses hearsay.

“Real cases, real people, real justice” is announced for the show’s introduction. The producers should include a medley of her famous lines: “Do you think I’m stupid! Grow up! Pay attention! I’m not talking to you! Put your hand down! You live like a pig!” Ths woman knows how to wield an exclamation point.

Judge Judy is anything but gender-biased. She’s cranky clear across the board, whether you’re a deadbeat dad or a bar-hopping mom. Young and old alike are (mis)treated equally.

I have to respect a woman who writes a book entitled, Don’t Pee On My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining. Judge Judy, you rock.

Obviously I can’t turn into Judge Judy overnight. Maybe I’ll start the process by replacing “sorry” with “excuse me.” Except when I walk into a street sign. For that I’ll always say “sorry” because those “No Stopping” signs can have attitude.

Speaking of street signs, Canadians need a new one that reads:
                                              NO APOLOGIZING.

Audio story music
“Book Bag “
by E.Jammy Jams

‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes

Shannon Kernaghan Legal-weed_Kraven-Cache_400 ‘Smoke Genie’ Grants Two Wishes Challenge Challenges Culture Health Lifestyle Memories Recreation Weed

It’s the late 1990s and I’m seated in a restaurant with two people. Before we’ve even ordered our meal, one says to me, “I hope you don’t mind if we smoke.” The other person smiles and reaches for her own cigarette pack.

By the time the appetizers arrive, my eyes are burning and my nose is plugged. I know that in less than an hour I’ll have a full-blown headache.

Now, if the two people were my friends, they’d be considerate enough to go outside, or I’d be brave enough to ask them not to smoke at the table. Since both are my employers, I say nothing. If only, I think, I live long enough to see smoking banned in restaurants.

To my surprise and delight, my wish is granted in the 2000s. Between the Smoke-Free Environment Act and the Tobacco Act, I don’t have to suffer the wrath of other people’s second hand smoke in a myriad public places. No more gasping over my glass of wine or arriving home in clothes that reek.

My wishing didn’t stop at cigarette smoke. Let’s be blunt: I’m not old enough to claim hippie status. Yet I am old enough to know that I’d be laughed out of a Pink Floyd-infused party with the prediction that pot will be legal in Canada by 2018.

No matter how clairvoyant (or high) the prognosticator, legalized marijuana was a dream until recently. It’s not that I smoke – see above allergies – it’s that I’m appalled at how people have been arrested for possession of a few joints.

If a criminal record isn’t enough, this black mark prevented people from crossing borders. They had no choice besides pony up money to apply for a legal pardon and be patient as the process takes years. If only, I think again, I live long enough to see pot decriminalized.

Again my wish is granted! But . . . is legal weed good or bad news for our communities?  I’ve read reams of logical argument and support. If I make one prediction, it’s that the jury will be out for a long while. Toggling the benefits of creating new opportunities in the marijuana market and the challenges of figuring out how to monitor drivers who toke (merely two of the issues), these early days will be interesting.

Until then, I’m happy to enjoy a smoke-free meal in public and to know that recreational pot smokers won’t be demonized and criminalized.

Thank you, Smoke Genie.

Audio music track
“Cumulus Nimbus”
by Quincas Moreira

This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo!

Shannon Kernaghan valentines-oh-poo This Valentine’s Day, Oh Poo! Adventure Challenge Culture Dating Humor Lifestyle Memories Relationship Sex

If you trace the origins of Valentine’s Day, you won’t find a pretty picture. One legend claims that a Roman priest named Valentine was executed on February 14, 269 AD, for marrying couples against the advice of Emperor Claudius II. He figured single men were more enthusiastic about fighting his battles than family men. Somehow this grim tale resulted in heart-shaped cards, chocolates, red roses and candlelit dinners on February 14.

Humans are hopeless romantics, considering all the quaint love-infused traditions. Many I heard as a child. For example, if you twist the stem of an apple, you can predict the last name of your future love interest. Each rotation represents one letter of the alphabet. My search for sweethearts was restricted because the apple stems generally broke off at the letter D or E. I wonder how many eligible Xangs, Youngs and Zedenkas I overlooked in my quest for romance.

Another example features birds: if a robin flies over your head on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a sailor. Finding a sailor in my prairie city was no simple feat. If sailor was a misprint for tailor or wholesaler, my chances might have improved. The maddening catch with traditions is that they’re tough to apply universally.

Continuing with the legend, if a sparrow flies overhead, you’ll marry a poor man but you’ll be happy. Based on personal experience, poor men are always plentiful, no matter where you live. So are sparrows. Erect a birdhouse in your backyard and see what stakes a claim first, yellow canaries or sparrows.

But if a goldfinch flies overhead on Valentine’s Day, you’ll marry a millionaire. The legend doesn’t expand on whether you’ll be happy with your millionaire. Apparently hooking up with one is reward enough. Since I don’t know what a goldfinch looks like, that sweet bird of opportunity might have flown past without my knowledge.

Now, let’s say you’ve met Mr. or Ms. Right and you’re ready to start a family. How many children will you have? Go back to that dubious apple, the one missing its stem. Cut it in half and count the seeds. If nothing else, I know why we’re statistically producing 2½ children in each household. All of this apple-dividing is giving us fractional kids.

Despite the strange legends, Valentine’s Day holds a special place in my heart and funny bone. It was February and I was staying in a hotel for a work project in Prince Albert, Sask. Waiting next to me at the elevator was a cute young man. When the door opened, we walked in together and pressed our floor numbers. Simultaneously, we glanced down at fresh dog doo in the corner.

“Did you do that?” he asked.

“No, I’d remember that.” He eventually convinced me to go out with him. And the rest is history.

I wonder if there’s a romantic legend about discovering your sweetheart over dog poop.  If not, I should start one. It worked for me because a few years later I said, “I doo!”

Audio backing track
“This is a Jazz Space” by Midnight North
YouTube Music Library

My Resolution? Avoid Clichés Like the Plague

Shannon Kernaghan Cliches-400-3 My Resolution? Avoid Clichés Like the Plague Culture Drinking Friendship Humor Lifestyle Memoir New Years Parties Relationship

It’s now or never. There’s no better time than the present to make a New Year’s resolution. This will take nerves of steel but for my 2018 pledge, I resolve to cut back on my use of clichés, those tired expressions worn thin through the years.

I don’t know how many clichés I utter because I can’t see the forest for the trees. But it’s a pain in the neck to give up what’s familiar, like throwing out a pair of comfy old shoes. Speaking of footwear, if the shoe fits, I’m talking to you. You’re in the service industry, the ones bringing home the bacon who tell me to “have a nice day.” News flash: your advice falls on deaf ears since I’m determined to have a nice day, even if it kills me.

Don’t get all bent out of shape because I’m equally guilty of using platitudes. “You too, have a good one,” I answer, as if I really give a hoot.

Starting in 2018, let’s all get with the program. Just once I’d like to hear, “Thanks for buying something. Your purchase guarantees my job for another shift.” To that bit of honesty I’ll reply, “You’re a breath of fresh air. That’s why they pay you the big bucks.”

Now I have two resolutions for 2018: avoid clichés like the plague AND be more honest with people. We don’t have to see eye to eye across the board, as long as we’re on the same page. For example, I’ll welcome a serving person who answers, “How am I today? I’m up to my neck in alligators!”

“Then take a load off and fill me in,” I’ll say. “I’m all ears, but make it snappy. I’ve got people to see and places to . . . uh-oh, there I go again.” These New Year’s promises are murder, tougher than teaching old dogs new tricks.

The next time you hand me my purchase and tell me to have a nice day, give me a little wink. That’ll be our secret code, which means you’d rather be home watching HBO. While you’re standing there, give me two winks if anything is about to go on sale. I know, I can’t buy happiness and I should save for a rainy day, but a penny saved is a penny earned, no matter how I slice it.

Happy New Year!

Backing track in the audio story is
“Where Am I?”
by Text Me Records 

Good Intentions, Bad Gifts

Shannon Kernaghan Good-Intentions-bad-gifts-400-2 Good Intentions, Bad Gifts Culture Gifts Lifestyle Memoir Memories Xmas

What’s the worst gift you ever received? Is it hard for everyone to open a bad Christmas gift and pretend to be excited? I’ll never win an Oscar for acting because the moment I unwrap a bad gift, my facial features alter. As I try to smile, a smirk tugs down the corners of my mouth. My pleasant “Oh, how lovely!” sounds hollow and now everyone in the room is watching!

What defines a bad gift? You tell me. When I was in my twenties, my mother-in-law gave me big beige underwear (‘old-lady panties’ according to my husband) three Christmases in a row. Each year it was the same thing; after Xmas I’d trade in the 6-pack for something sexy.

After years of nervous anticipation during tense moments around the tree, I’ve devised a few logical suggestions to sail us through the giving and receiving:

1) Avoid buying the ‘practical’ gift. An ear and nose hair trimmer is the ideal choice for Uncle Louie, but he didn’t know he had a hair issue until you came along;

2) If you’re bold/foolish/uncaring enough to pawn off a previous bad gift, remove all evidence. My friend received a present from her aunt, a glass punch bowl with 12 cups. When she broke down the box for recycling, she discovered a gift tag addressed TO the aunt from someone else. FYI my friend doesn’t have a dozen friends to share punch, so this gift was both recycled and kind of sad;

3) Before the dreaded day, I mean Christmas, do some practicing: “Thank you, how kind, it’s just what I always wanted” in front of the bathroom mirror. Do you look sincere? If you can’t fool yourself, you won’t fool your holiday crowd;

4) Reserve comment UNTIL you’ve unwrapped the inside tissue. Just because there’s a picture of a can opener on the box doesn’t mean there’s a can opener inside. It could be a diamond tennis bracelet and here you’ve already gone and gasped, “How wonderful, I really need a can opener!” Chances are, if you already own two can openers, it’ll be a third;

5) Apply a generous coating of lip balm before the festivities begin. When your mouth dries at the sight of a poorly knit sweater in a shade of orange not found on nature’s palette, the extra lubrication will prevent your lips from sticking to your teeth;

6) At the first sight of a bad gift, visualize a favorite day at the beach. If that doesn’t make you smile when you open the gift certificate for an hour of electrolysis, nothing will. (Now you know how Uncle Louie feels);

7) And finally, suggest that next Christmas be gift-free for adults. Why put ourselves through this stress year after year? Wait a minute . . .  who says I haven’t given MY share of bad gifts? My mother had a suspiciously cheerful voice when she opened my childhood creations of melted crayon-covered jars and Popsicle stick pen holders. So much glitter . . . the horror.

Forget the angst of receiving bad gifts. Now I’m too paranoid to shop. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Audio story backing track
“Clouds”
by Huma Huma.