Friday, June 17, 2016


The other day, one of my friends was telling me about some old episodes of what she described as a hilarious TV show called, “The Real Wedding Crashers,” she’d come across on You Tube.

The show, which aired about 10 years ago, basically was a hidden-camera program that helped brides and grooms set up pranks to disrupt their weddings and shock their guests.

Episodes featured actors who portrayed such characters as a really bad wedding singer, a bridesmaid with a fake bright-orange tan, a best man giving an embarrassing toast, and two attractive blondes having a catfight over a nerdy guy at the reception. And then there were the mishaps, such as a tower of champagne glasses crashing to the floor, and red paint splashing all over the bride’s dress.

The show made me think of all of the mishaps I’ve seen at weddings over the years - some of which, I’m ashamed to admit, were my own fault.  No actors were needed to mess up things, believe me.

I remember one wedding I attended where the bride was only 19.  When the caterer came around with the champagne for the toast, he asked, “Is anyone at the head table under 21?”

“Just the bride,” I blurted out.

All heads turned toward me.  The evil look the bride shot at me could have burned holes through solid steel.  And later, as she sat there toasting her new husband with a glass of apple cider instead of champagne, I got the distinct impression she wanted to dunk my head in it.

At another wedding, I wanted to take a photo of the bride and groom as they exchanged their vows.  Tiptoeing, I inched my way to the back of the altar, so I could be facing the happy couple.  I quickly snapped the photo without using a flash, so as not to draw any attention to myself, and then slowly backed away to make my exit.

To my embarrassment, I backed right into a video camera that had been set up on a tripod to capture the vows.

With a loud crash that made even the minister stop reciting vows in mid-sentence so he could turn to stare at me, the video camera landed on the altar.  I noticed what looked like part of a lens go rolling past me.

Funny, but even while the videographer was giving me his best “I’ll see you in court!” look, the only thing on my mind at that moment was how huge my butt must have looked as I was backing toward the camera.  I was certain that the closer I got, the wider it grew, until it probably looked as if it were about to swallow the entire camera.  And even worse, I realized the whole thing had been captured on film forever.  Thinking only of myself and not the poor bride and groom, I prayed the video footage had been destroyed beyond repair in the fall.

But not all of the wedding mishaps were my fault.  At my own wedding, for example, the photographer we’d hired vanished without a trace during the reception.

After my husband and I had danced our first dance, eaten our meals and cut the wedding cake, the photographer finally was found in a bar upstairs…watching the World Series on TV. 

As a result, our wedding album contained only one photo of the cake cutting, taken by one of my husband’s friends who apparently had been trying to break a world record for consuming the largest number of drinks in a single hour.  The photo was so out of focus, I looked as if I had three noses, and the cake, which actually was straight, looked as if it were about to topple over.  But I suppose having a bad photo was better than having no cake-cutting photo at all. Still, it sure would have been nice if cell-phone cameras had been around back then.

I remember another incident where the band’s van was involved in a minor accident on the way to the wedding, so there was no music for the reception.  One of the guests rushed home and brought back his old record player and a stack of records, and played those all night. 

Unfortunately, his record collection left a lot to be desired.  But maybe the bride and groom were so blissfully in love, they didn’t even notice they were dancing to William Shatner’s version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” or Myron Floren’s “Greatest Polka Hits.”

And then there was the wedding where one of the bridesmaids gained so much weight between the time of her last dress-fitting and the wedding, she looked as if she’d had to grease herself with butter just to squeeze into her gown. 

Oh, wait…I was that bridesmaid.

To be honest, I’ve always enjoyed weddings because they’re such joyful, festive occasions. I mean, where else could you see a usually stuffy CEO flapping his arms and dancing the chicken dance?

But unfortunately, it’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve actually been to a wedding.

In retrospect, maybe that’s a good thing.

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Friday, June 10, 2016


People have been asking me how I made out at my neighborhood’s yard sale on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. All I can say is it was a day I won’t soon forget.

First of all, due to unforeseen circumstances, my help had to cancel on me. And because it was a holiday weekend, most of my friends had other (much more exciting) plans. So I had to face the prospect of handling everything myself on yard-sale day. And if that didn’t concern me enough, the weather forecasters were predicting a day that was going to be hot enough to turn skin into beef jerky.

The morning of the sale, I got up at 5 a.m. and immediately set to work. It still was pretty chilly out, so I wore jeans, a T-shirt and a hoodie. My plan was to go inside after I set up everything, freshen up and change into something cooler.

I own only two folding tables, so the week before, I’d borrowed five more.  I was familiar with my own tables, but the other five opened in a variety of ways, so setting them up was a real challenge. One table opened with a sliding lever. Another opened by simultaneously pressing buttons on each side. And another opened because I got fed up with trying to figure out how to open it and wedged my foot in between the two folded sides and pried it open.

After I set up the tables, I carried a gazillion boxes of stuff out of the garage and began to unload them. Too soon, I realized I was going to be about four tables short and would have to improvise. I found two plastic end-tables and set two big boxes of vinyl LP records on them.  Then I turned some plastic tubs upside down and stacked games and books on those.

By the time I was done, I was sweaty and dirty, and the humidity savagely had attacked my hair and beaten it to within an inch of its life. I headed back toward the house so I quickly could wash up, change my clothes and do something with my hair and makeup. But just as my fingers touched the door handle, the first customer appeared. 

I looked so disheveled, the guy probably thought I was in dire need of money. He bought 18 record albums.

I was off to a good start.

After that, the customers arrived in a constant, steady flow, so I didn’t have any opportunity to go back into the house.  My front yard has no shade, so I was at the mercy of the relentless, blazing sun. By mid-morning, my deodorant completely had worn off and my lips were so dry, they were white and cracking. I looked as if I’d just spent a week in the Sahara.

That’s when people who’d read about the sale in my column began to arrive, saying they’d come especially to meet me – the crazy lady who writes the crazy columns.  They were wonderful, friendly people – from Goffstown, Barnstead, Auburn, Hooksett, and more – and I really wanted to spend time getting to know all of them better.

The only problem was, by the time they approached and introduced themselves, I looked (and smelled) as if I’d just run the Boston marathon. My first impulse was to go find a rock and crawl under it. Even worse, they all were attractive and well-groomed, which made me feel even more embarrassed. One woman in particular, who told me she was 62 – and honestly didn’t look a day over 40 – made me contemplate grabbing one of the shopping bags stacked next to my chair and yanking it down over my droopy-haired head.

I’d have to say my most intriguing customer was a guy who looked like Tom Brady, the famous Patriots’ quarterback. He arrived with his young son, then told him to go pick out anything he wanted and to “make a pile over there,” indicating an area on the lawn.

The boy ran from table to table, grabbing just about every toy, video game and collectible until his stack nearly was as tall as he was. His father then walked over to me, took a roll of $100 bills out of his pocket and said, “I have a thousand to spend today – what do I owe you?”

I was tempted to tell him $999, but his final total actually was closer to $250. If I hadn’t been working alone, I probably would have invited him into the house and tried to sell him all of my furniture.

By noon, the heat was an unbearable 94 degrees and the humidity was about 2,220. The plastic tables got so soft, they collapsed, sending my boxes of records toppling onto the ground. And I kept hearing the shoppers yelling, “Ow!” as they browsed through my stuff. I began to think a swarm of bees might have started building a nest in my Darth Vader mask, but it turned out the items made of metal were burning people’s hands when they touched them.

And I noticed my Elvis Presley doll’s white polyester jumpsuit suddenly was sprouting flesh-colored splotches, where the doll was melting right though it. Poor Elvis looked as if he had some rare skin disorder.

By 2:30, I was feeling lightheaded, headachy, queasy, and I’m pretty sure there was no saliva left in my mouth. There finally came a lull, with no customers for the first time all day, so I decided to call it quits while I still was semi-coherent, and go take down my yard-sale signs (which had big arrows pointing to my house).

But just as I was about to walk to the end of the driveway to remove the signs, another car pulled in.

An elderly man emerged and walked very slowly, his feet shuffling toward the tables, where he proceeded to carefully examine each and every item. Then he became interested in my comic books – and looked through all of the pages…one page at a time.

Spots began to form in front of my eyes and I could feel my internal organs dehydrating and shriveling into raisins. I smiled at him through clenched teeth.

He finally bought 10 comic books, then got into his car and began to drive off. I was just about to make a beeline to take down my signs, when he suddenly backed up, shut off the car and got out again.

“I just noticed something else I want,” he said.

He ended up spending another $50, which I decided had been worth the delay…even though I nearly needed CPR.

The moment I got back into the house, I grabbed a bottle of water and a cold compress, then collapsed on the sofa. 

“I may never get up again,” I groaned, even though I was so hungry, I was tempted to cook an omelet…directly on my 110-degree body. I drank five more bottles of water that night and never once had the urge to go to the bathroom.

The next day, it was 70 degrees with a cool breeze.

I really think I could learn to hate Mother Nature.

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Friday, June 3, 2016



Carl, the guy who regularly mows my lawn, and I have a system. When my grass gets long enough to conceal squirrels, I call his number, leave a message for him, and he shows up with this big turbo tractor-like mower the next morning.

The Sunday before my neighborhood’s big house-to-house yard sale on May 28, in which I was participating, I noticed two disturbing things: my lawn seemed to have shot up to nearly my shins overnight, and ticks were arriving by the busloads to inhabit it.

Visions of sandal-wearing people coming to my yard sale, walking across the lawn and emerging with so many ticks on their feet and ankles, they’d look as if they were wearing flesh-colored socks with black polka-dots on them, prompted me to call Carl and tell him I wanted my front lawn cut nice and short before the holiday weekend. But when I called, I received a busy signal.

So I kept trying…and trying…and trying again, and the busy signal continued. Three days later, and three days closer to my yard sale, the busy signal still persisted. There was no way, I thought, anyone could be talking on the phone for three days straight – not even someone as long-winded as I am. And even if Carl were having a Guinness-record type of conversation, why, I wondered, wouldn’t my call still be transferred to his voice mail so I could leave a message?

I decided something had to be wrong. So out of desperation, I did something I hadn’t done in years – I dialed “0” for operator. I had no clue if telephone operators even still existed, so I was surprised when I actually ended up talking to a human.

“I’ve been trying to call a number for the past three days and the line has been busy,” I told her. “Do you know if it’s out of order?”

She said if it was in New Hampshire number, she could try it for me. I gave it to her and she asked me to hold, then she returned and told me there was something wrong with the circuit. She said Carl would have to report it to the repair service to resolve the problem.

I hung up feeling defeated and wondering why Carl hadn’t noticed no one had called him for three days.

Meanwhile, my lawn and the ticks continued to grow until I could have sworn I heard Tarzan’s famous jungle call coming from the yard one night. Panic began to set in as Carl’s number continued to be busy. So I finally made a dangerous and desperate decision…I decided to try to tackle the lawn myself.

I have two lawnmowers – a battery-operated one and an electric one – each of which has its drawbacks. The battery in the battery-operated one weighs over 30 lbs., so it makes pushing the mower about as easy as pushing a VW Beetle around the lawn. Also, charging the battery takes hours, and I hadn’t charged it since there were only 49 states.

Then the electric mower requires an extension cord, and the longer the better. The cord then will, in the course of one mowing, get under the wheels of the mower, wrap around every tree, pole and bush it comes near, tangle into a replica of the Boy Scouts’ guide to knot-tying, and ultimately unplug itself from the electrical outlet no fewer than 1,323 times.

I didn’t have time to waste charging the battery, so I opted to use the electric mower.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my 100-ft. extension cord, so I had to link three shorter ones together.

It took me over three hours to finish mowing. One of those hours was spent untangling and re-connecting the extension cords that kept pulling apart, and another was spent swatting at swarms of black flies and mosquitoes. My vision of having a neatly cropped lawn caused me to set the mower on its lowest setting, causing clumps of grass and dirt to go flying everywhere.

I managed to transform my lush, green lawn into something short and brownish with bald spots. But on the plus side, I was pretty sure the mower had acted like a guillotine and decapitated thousands of nasty ticks.

I wasn’t, however, about to tackle the back yard (a.k.a., the rainforest) where the grass was thicker and longer, so I tried calling Carl one more time. My mouth fell open when I didn’t hear the annoying busy signal and instead was prompted to leave a message. I did, telling him the back lawn needed mowing.

Carl showed up the next day. The first thing he did was stare at my nearly bald front lawn and ask, “Have you been cheating on me?”

I laughed and told him I’d cut it myself.

“Not bad,” he said, obviously being polite. “But just a little too short.”

I asked him about his phone being busy all week and he said he hadn’t really noticed because he’d still been able to make calls. But a couple people finally told him they’d been receiving busy signals. He said by then, however, the problem somehow had resolved itself.

So everything ended up looking good for my yard sale.

And one of the first things I sold was my battery-operated lawnmower – for $50.

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