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Dear Halloween:

You and Christmas Eve are my favorite holidays. For you, I get dressed up and give out candy. For the other, I wait for someone dressed up to give me candy.

Luckily, my family feels the same way about you. Sometimes, we get other people to join us in group costumes.

It’s the one time of year where I let my craft freak flag fly.

Here’s a retrospective of costumes we’ve had over the years.

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Unfortunately, living in an apartment has its drawbacks: All my Halloween paraphernalia is in storage. Plus, I’ll be teaching tonight, so I won’t be able to go all out.

There’s always next year.

Love you!
Beth

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EPISODE 3: Bad taste in beverages
Rated G for grandma, giant babies and “Good God, that Guy is … Gregarious!”

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE AFTERNOON

ENTER FATHER and TWO KIDS, DOMINIC and GIDEON. MOTHER shows up 30 minutes later after finishing the Season 2 opener of “Jersey Shore Family Vacation.” (Ronnie had a meltdown on social media? Say it isn’t so!) FATHER and MOTHER practically double the average age of pool denizens.

MOTHER
Who are these people (referencing the dozen or so twentysomethings)?

FATHER
No idea.

GIDEON
Can we go home now?

MOTHER
Dude, I just got here!

FATHER (to MOTHER, who is wearing jeans)
Are you swimming?

MOTHER
No.

DOMINIC
Then let’s go.

MOTHER
Here’s the key. We’re going to hang out for a bit.

DOMINIC and GIDEON exit.

FATHER (referencing the cooler MOTHER has brought)
Anything in there for me?

MOTHER (handing him an adult sippy cup)
Yes.

MOTHER plays Words with Friends. FATHER watches a video of a man getting sucked into an escalator in Turkey. MOTHER overhears loud talking from one member of the youngster group.

MOTHER (to FATHER)
Why is there always one loud guy in the group? Which one is it?

FATHER (to MOTHER, whose back is to the group)
Look around. It’s the one you think it is. It’s always that guy.

MOTHER (glancing over her shoulder)
It’s the big guy in the hat, isn’t it?

FATHER
Yup.

LOUD GUY (repeats this phrase three times)
It was the best time of my life.

MOTHER
All right. I’m going to throw this out (references her empty can) and get out of here.

FATHER
Great idea.

MOTHER sees that these children don’t even have good taste in beer.

MOTHER
Bud Light? Ultra? GAH! (The Athena is hers.)

Look at this trash!

MOTHER
You coming?

FATHER
Yeah.

END SCENE

 

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EPISODE 2*: All’s quiet on the aquatic front
Rated G for pooly goodness

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE AFTERNOON

For a Sunday afternoon, the pool area is virtually uninhabited. There are about four adults scattered around.

ENTER FATHER and TWO KIDS. MOTHER shows up 10 minutes later after getting yet more school supplies.

MOTHER
Did you put sunscreen on the kids?

FATHER
Um … Dominic, yes. Gideon just jumped in.

MOTHER
Harumph. No Father-of-the-Year award for you.
(To her wet youngest) Gideon, come here!

GIDEON
Why?

MOTHER
Because I said so.
(Note that MOTHER never thought she would ever let that sentence pass her lips. She is smarter now. She knows it can’t be helped.)

After MOTHER lathers GIDEON in 50 SPF (waterproof), MOTHER and FATHER hang out poolside, drink adult beverages, and make sure their kids don’t harass others. THE KIDS simply harass each other.

FATHER and MOTHER discuss last night, which was not so peaceful.

FLASHBACK

It’s a pool party for Miles. The only people in the pool are the billion 11-13 year olds invited to the party. A handful of parents cluster around a cooler. (Any time there are that many teens and pre-teens, there needs to be a cooler.)

Suddenly, RAMBO appears. (OK, not Rambo for real, but the new complex security guard who clearly takes himself WAY TOO seriously. He was wearing camouflage. And a gear belt with a taser. And those police boots. Oh yes, he was all kitted out.)

MOTHER was smart enough to bring beverages in cans. The others drew RAMBO’s ire:

RAMBO
No glass on the deck.

ALL ANSWER
OK.

RAMBO patrols the pool/gym area. ASSEMBLED ADULTS remain quiet, watching him incredulously.

RAMBO exits. ADULTS drag him mercilessly.

END FLASHBACK

MOTHER
I’ve got to go.

FATHER
You’ve only been here 15 minutes.

MOTHER
Yeah, but I’m burning. Look (points to shoulder).

FATHER
Of course you are.

END SCENE

*The summer has flown by. I haven’t gone to the pool much. #sad

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Dear America:

It’s almost your birthday, so I’m giving you the gift of information. This info might help answer a question I’ve been asking since I began traveling throughout the rest of the world:

Why do Americans resist bidets?

There are various commercials that address the perils of paper. Here’s one example:

And various products to help clean up your hazardous waste site:

But tissue is troubling in general. Why not solve the problem in a less wasteful way?

The French get it. The Japanese more than get it. You practically need a user manual, but your special bits will be spic and span.

Americans don’t get it.

And I don’t get that.

Everybody poops. EVERYBODY. (If you don’t, you have a real problem that I can’t solve.) Don’t you want to be as clean as possible afterward?

If you do, here’s a solution: Tushy. It’s an aftermarket, easy-to-install bidet. (NOT to be confused with the anal porn website in HD [!] that I found accidentally when looking for the bidet link.)

I’m happy to be a paid spokesperson if asked.

Come on, people. Let’s get it together. Save some trees. Save some septic tanks. Save your sphincters some friction.

Unless you are into that sort of thing. (And according to that website … nevermind.)

Yours in booty health and wellbeing,
Beth

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Dear Apartment Complex Rule Makers:

I received your email (screenshot above) in preparation for Memorial Day weekend. While I appreciate the effort, we need to talk about a couple of these rules:

1.) In order for all residents to have a fair chance to enjoy the pool there is a 2 guest maximum per household. As an example, if your lease agreement includes a total of three leaseholders/occupants, the maximum number of people you are allowed to have at the pool would be 5. This includes your two guests.
I feel like this is the Whole Foods rule. I’m OK with that, but how are you going to check?

2.) When using the amenities all guests must be accompanied by the leaseholder they are visiting.
Even the bathroom? No. Not happening.

3.) Children must be supervised and accompanied by an adult leaseholder when using the pool.
Great idea. Can you also put a noise and/or whine limit on said children? Case in point, this little bastard who screamed bloody murder every time his brother squirted him:

5.) Alcoholic Beverages are not allowed at the pool.
Imma let you finish but
Nevermind. I won’t. What good is having a pool if you can’t have adult beverages around it?

7.) No Horseplay.
I need a definition. Does whacking a friend with a pool noodle count? (Asking for a friend. [A friend who is really my youngest son.]) What about a random dad taking all the kids for a ride on his back? You are going to have to be specific.

This is supposedly the dad of one of our kids’ friends. I don’t know. He could have been the complex pedophile. Were my kids happy? Yes. I was there just in case. Shut up.

8.) No Solo Bathing
What does this mean? I can’t come to the pool by myself? F that. I dare you to say something to me. I’ll sling a nonalcoholic beverage at you. (Or does it mean not washing your solo cup in the pool? Or that Han Solo can’t come over?)

10.) ENJOY!
How is this possible when you hit us with the rules above. Please.

Also, where is the no-doob rule that is clearly needed?

And what about rules for music?

And a loud talker rule?

This guy had a story for everything. No one could top his exploits.

You get an A for effort, but a C- for execution.

Bah.

I’m still going, though. I have stories to write.

See you soon!
Beth

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Dear Music Lovers:

If you are like me, you have playlists for various occasions. In my case, these playlists correspond to very specific occasions. Here are some examples:

1. Playlist that keeps me from murdering my attitudinal oldest son and burying his body in the shrubs outside our door:

Notes: It’s hard to be mad at your 13 year old when 13-year-old Taylor Hanson is scatting. No, I’m not ashamed to have One Direction on a playlist. Yes, “1985” resonates (I too never got a hand on a member of Duran Duran. Yet.).

2. Playlist that helps me get ready for work when I spent too much time the night before bingeing “Santa Clarita Diet” and drinking wine.

Notes: I dare you to stand still when you hear any of these songs. “Thrift Shop” is one of my youngest son’s favorite songs.

3. Playlist that allows me to let my redneck freak flag fly (and those moments I can ignore over-the-top objectification of women):

Notes: This may surprise you, but my first date with Eddie was a Tim McGraw/Sawyer Brown concert. I was a DJ for a country music radio station at the time. As I also worked as a TV news reporter, I couldn’t use my real name on air at the radio station. I wanted to call myself Moonpie Jones, but my boss wouldn’t let me.

4. Playlist to offer when someone asks you your favorite song from the ’80s.

Notes: How could I choose? So many great songs for so many good reasons. It’s shocking how Bow Wow Wow is undervalued and underplayed.

5. Playlist for when the kids are not in the car:

 

Notes: All great. All NSFW and NSFC. It’s surprising there’s no “E” next to “Crazy Bitch.” It’s definitely “E.” (Sarah K., don’t say a word to me about Buckcherry.)

6. Playlist for stress cleaning your habitat because your house in your old city STILL hasn’t sold.

Notes: It’s been a year. This is better than drinking.

7. Playlist for cooking complicated dishes like Mexican tamales, Puerto Rican pasteles and Japanese gyoza while wishing regular life could be as easy as following a recipe.

Notes: If I’m going to cook, I’m going to COOK (i.e., go all out). All-day cooking makes me feel very counterculture — counter to my usual routine — hence this throwback playlist.

I’m open to new bands. I promise! (I’m just too lazy to go searching.) Send me your top playlist and its best occasion!

Thanks for the recs,
Beth

 

From Instagram. Change 2000s to 1980s.

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Dear Readers:

I live in the South. That means it’s already summer here (91 degrees today). That also means it’s time for a new season of “Dispatches from the pool.”

Enjoy!
Beth

EPISODE 1: Oh what a tangled web we weave
Rated PG-13 for substance abuse and sexual conduct

EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX POOL – LATE AFTERNOON, MOTHER’S DAY

About 20 people have arranged themselves in small groups around the perimeter of the pool. The only people in the pool, though, are FOUR CHILDREN: DOMINIC (13), GIDEON (11), MILES (11) and DARRYL (age unknown, possibly 8).

FATHER OF THE FIRST TWO and MOTHER OF THE THIRD have found themselves lounge chairs in the shade. (No one has ever seen MOTHER OF DARRYL.) MOTHER OF THE FIRST TWO arrives after making these:

Individual pineapple upside-down cakes. Thank you, Food Network!

The moment MOTHER sits down, FATHER and MOTHER OF MILES fills her in on all the pool gossip.

FATHER
You see that girl over there (points at TWENTYSOMETHING on her phone)? She apparently picked up some dudes at Whole Foods and invited them back to the pool.

MOTHER OF MILES
She said, “They seemed cool.”

MOTHER OF DOMINIC AND GIDEON
Wait … What?! Random guys?

MoM
I know, right?!

FATHER
But when they showed up, the girl maybe hadn’t told her fiancé.

MoM
Right. He seemed surprised when they shouted her name.

MoDaG
WHAT?!

Later, MoDaG spots canoodling among WHOLE FOODS DUDES and TWENTYSOMETHING’s friend.

Meanwhile, MOTHER (of D and G) marvels at other characters assembled at the pool, including PREPPY in a button-down long-sleeved shirt and someone who looks like SNOOKI. (Perhaps it is because MOTHER has been inside cooking and watching moreJersey Shore: Family Vacation.”

Isn’t he hot? (As in not dressed appropriately for the season and occasion, not as in hawt.)

Snooki (left) and friend enter the pool.

MOTHER also spies her NEIGHBOR reading an interesting book.

In case you can’t read the title, it is, “Why Men Love Bitches.”

MOTHER thinks whatever NEIGHBOR is doing is working because men are lined up outside her apartment constantly, including a dude in a Ferrari just that morning.

MOTHER is vaguely aware of a large group of people at the round table over her left shoulder. She becomes more aware thanks to MOTHER OF MILES.

MoM
Oh. My. God. That woman is rolling a blunt.

A few moments later, a particular, recognizable smell wafts over the MOTHERS. They look at each other in surprise.*

MoDaG
Really?! It’s a Sunday afternoon at a pool filled with people and kids!

Weed Central (Woman in orange is the Roller in Chief.)

MOTHERS (in unison to the CHILDREN)
Let’s go.

FATHER
What?

MOTHER
I’ll tell you later.

They exit.

* Only low THC oil is legal in Georgia at the moment.

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