Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crash Crushing

Some of you were a little bit off in guessing my 3rd grade Crash crush yesterday. A few of you, including LoW, picked this guy here:

Honestly, I can't even remember that guy's name. Sorry to disappoint.

My x-door neighbor, Martha mentioned this guy on the back row:

She was kinda right. His name is Trent and we did share a few baby sparks before he moved to Santaquin.

But my stone-cold heart belonged to this guy standing next to me, Keith. (I always had a soft spot for guys named Keith.)

We almost look like a cute couple, don't we? Our arms so close, yet so far apart.

Especially compared to these arms:

April saw the foreshadowing and predicted this lub triangle. This is Susan--my competition, and, to make matters worse, one of my good friends.

I broke the 8th commandment a lot around Susan.

Unlike the rest of us, she wasn't afraid to wear Ditto jeans on picture day, and with each passing year she looked better and better in them.

If my mom said it once, she said it a thousand times, "Doesn't Susan just have the cutest little figure?"

Words like daggers to a girl whose figure went a little somethin' somethin' like this:

Is it bad that I felt a vague sense of redemption yesterday when one of my readers (The Mom) mistakenly identified Susan as in-the-running for my Crash crush? (hee hee hee) Serves her right for wearing Dittos on picture day.

While Susan's Dittos fit better and better with each passing year, Keith's hair got better and better too.

And my chances got worse and worse.

Until 5th grade . . . when a new bad boy moved to town.

Go on, take a guess.

I'll give you a hint--peach silk shirt.

That's right, Jeff McKay, and I even put his photo in a velvet heart and edged it with delicate lace.

Oh my goodness! What was I thinking? He was just using me all along to cheat off my spelling tests.

Too bad my hub and I didn't cross paths until high school. I know for a fact I would have been Crash crushing on him BIG TIME in third grade.

How cute is he???

By 5th grade he was definitely my particular brand of good boy/bad-boy.

I just know Kurt Russell has a photo exactly like this somewhere in his 5th grade photo album!

Okay, memory lane is closed. Tomorrow will be April, so let's talk about books-on-tape.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hunt's Tomato Team

I left my childhood scrapbook out after scanning photos a few posts back. Each of my kids looked through it on the sly and unanimously FREAKED out (on separate occasions) about my 3rd grade teacher's humongous hair.

It does look a little top heavy now that I see it through their eyes, but I never noticed it before.

I also never noticed my natural ability to strike a pose for the camera before either.

Especially during story time.

Kids notice the darndest things. They are pretty sure I'm picking my nose in the above aforementioned photo.

I have to admit I got a little defensive when my kids poked fun of my teacher.

They don't understand how special a teacher whose hair is bigger than her body can make you feel. Thirty five years later I can still remember the tears of joy streaming down my parents faces when Miss Hunt presented me with the No "Lion" I've been Trying award for exceptional progress in math.

My kids think that award is stinkin' HEE-larious, being as I had to cheat my way through pre-algebra in college and all.

Teenagers who get A's in pre-calculus and geometry have no regard for the minority of troubled grown ups, like myself, who have come to look upon math as a moral issue. It just goes against my code of ethics to allow letters and numbers to multiply and divide.

Can I help it if I'm religious that way?

Another thing I distinctly remember about Miss Hunt is the day she came to my house the summer before school started to snap a photo of me for her class bulletin board.

This is not the actual photo that graced the third grade bulletin board all year long, but this is the actual outfit I was wearing in that photo.

I know because I wore it every day that summer.

In my day, long black socks went with everything. And so did blue gingham peek-a-boo swimsuits adorned with cherries.

It never once crossed my mind that perhaps wearing that swimsuit wasn't my best foot forward, and I don't think it crossed Miss Hunt's mind either.

In a way Miss Hunt discovered the Crash Test Dummy in me.

You know how Oprah says that everyone has seven defining moments during their lifetime? Well, my first Crash Test Dummy defining moment occurred on the day Miss Hunt pulled a group of us out of class to brain storm for our class slogan. We met in Mrs. Otter's classroom across the hall, because her fourth graders were at lunch, and I got to sit at Brian Bastian's empty desk, which brought me so perilously close to him in spirit that for the rest of the day I felt like I'd been sipping on sparkling apple cider.

As the group threw out ideas for Miss Hunt's class slogan I focused on Mrs. Otter's class slogan perched above the chalk board in die cut lettering (because vinyl lettering was still just a twinkle in die-cut lettering's eyes):

Mrs. Otter's Otters

Why not Mrs. Otter's Otter Pops? I thought. Or Mrs. Otter's Teeter Totters? Or Mrs. Otter's Alma Maters?

Mrs. Otter's class slogan, I decided, was simply redundant, and altogether too literal. Where was the double meaning and the word play? More importantly, where was the allusion to food?

Believe it or not, I was excruciatingly shy in public (when I wasn't wearing black socks and a swim suit) and I never spoke a complete sentence out loud until the 5th grade, with the exception of that brain storming session, when seated at Brian Bastian's desk, I channeled the universe and blurted out:

"Hunt's Tomato Team!"

There was a moment of stunned silence, partly because no one had ever heard me speak before, and partly because everyone's minds were working to connect the dots.

"Brilliant!" Miss Hunt finally cried out. "Now let's design the t-shirt."

In the media frenzy following the unveiling of the Hunt's Tomato Team t-shirts, Miss Hunt took full credit for the ketchup allusion, bless her big-haired heart, but I have never forgotten who piped her that allusion and where it came from, and it planted in me a suspicion that maybe, just maybe, life had something in store for me far bigger than story problems and swim suits.


All my kids guessed, on the first try, who in this photo I had a crush on.

Let's see how well you guys can predict the dummy's 3rd grade taste in boys.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Crash Test Dummy Lub Club

It's official! I'm a big girl now. I have come face to face with all of my Utah ghosts and they are not half as scary as they were when I bolted 20 years ago. In fact they're all kinda old and wrinkly now.

Bless their hearts.

Even my guilt ghost was too tired to smack me around when, after telling the story I shared in my last post about my dad's death, my twins threw their hands in the air and cried:


They're eleven, what do they know?

Of course the thought has crossed my mind on occasion (over and over), but I couldn't have saved my dad, I know that.

That being said, if I had only listened to that darn nagging voice prodding me all day long to get to my dad's apartment at least I would have had one final memory. You get me? One concrete image suspended from the rafters in my brain rather than this blank curious space.

But I don't think the Universe wanted me to jump into the nearest phone booth and throw on my red cape, I think it was just trying to give me a heads up.

Hey, girlfriend, time is ticking. Chop chop--it's now or never. You can either do this the hard way or the harder way . . . Just saying.

The Universe is thoughtful that way.

Of course I would have preferred to be the witness rather than the one arriving late on the scene.

"Officer, he was wearing his red flannel button-down shirt and eating a bowl of bottled peaches. He had his Old Testament tapes playing reel to reel and Charles Dickens was cracked open and dog eared on the kitchen table. Great Expectations, I think. Or David Copperfield."

Instead I've had to piece the whole scene together from his autopsy and his journals and little wisps of memory.

But that's the way it went down, and even though it took me longer to get closure, I've learned me a lesson or two from the harder way, so it's all good in the hood.

I'm in Utah again, and the air felt strikingly familiar, but I didn't feel any pain on Saturday. I only felt a softness, not unlike lub or gratitude or the peenya kowlada Jamba Juice my hub surprised me with.

"You shouldn't have!" I said.

"No worries," he said.

"No really, you shouldn't have. Do you know how much sugar these smoothies contain? Why didn't you just blend up 14 bowls of fruit loops and pour that down my pie hole? Actually, this is a 32 oz Jamba Juice so that's 28 bowls of fruit loops."

That was just about the time he poked my eyes out.

I don't begrudge him though because sometimes I see better when I'm blind.

In short, I smiled and giggled a lot over the weekend. I even said ba dum bum every time I drove past another tie dyed silly goose leaving the Festival of Colors at the Krishna temple on my way to my son's basketball game.

Who says Utah's not diversified?

But anyways . . .

Much mahalo for all of your kindness and moral support in my comment box over the weekend. You guys are da bomb! I didn't get a chance to reply to each of your comments because I was so preoccupied with moving forward, but I've been thinking . . . it's time for my dad to be initiated into the Crash Test Dummy club, don't you think? I mean, no one I lub gets off easy, right? And everyone knows my primary lub language is words of aggravation, right?

So allow me to finally raise my glass and dish out some good ole' fashioned lub, CTD style, to my dad.

Welcome to the lub club, daddy-o! This joke's on me.


Remember Somewhere in Time?

I was just at the right age to see that movie, over and over, with great romantic enthusiasm.

Remember this particular photo, snapped of Jane Seymour gazing at Christopher Reeve before he was rushed back to the present by a 1980 penny?

What was she looking at? Why that particular expression?

That's what poor Christopher Reeves couldn't figure out.

He would have given a thousand pennies for her thoughts. (Too bad for him he picked the 1980 penny.)

I totally get Chris Reeve because I would give a thousand 1980 pennies for my dad's thoughts in this photo.


Raise your hand if, when I posted this photo on Friday, you thought what the what was her dad thinking about?

Me too!

This photo was taken right before my baptism while my best friend Mary was vacuuming our living room floor. But there's nothing baptismal about the look on his face, if you get my drift.

I never thought about it before I read Twhylight, but . . . do you think my dad could have been . . . a . . . Cullen?

Pinky swear I didn't use any vampire photo manipulation on this shot. Alls I did was zoom in.

But if my dad was a Cullen . . . then that means . . .

Hey, look at my new cute signature. Thanks to Tiffany at The Crew for this sweet gift! I lub it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blowing in the Wind

The most amazing thing happened last night!

I almost got into a fist fight with my best friend from back in the day.

We were both waiting in line to get seats for our local high school production of Damn Yankees--me, with 2o of my Young Women, and she, with 10 of her kids.

I kid not. She really has ten kids. (And she's still skinny.) Her mom had ten kids too. (And she's still skinny.)

I was like "Hey, lady, you and your ten kids are crowded us!" And she was like, "Oh, yea!? You wanna make something of it?"

Then just as we were about to start pulling hair, a flicker of recognition crossed between us.

"Mary?" I gasped, and then we fell into each others arms in a fit of giggles.

Talk about whiplash!

I don't remember when our friendship began, but she told me last night that she distinctly remembers vacuuming my living room floor before my baptism, which fascinates me because the only thing I remember about my baptism was that after it was all over I told a fib on the way to the city dump and spoiled the whole thing.

I don't remember when our friendship fizzled out either, but it must have been quite some time after her family moved to Eureka to live in an old church with her cousins. We commuted back and forth on weekends for a while, but eventually the long distance relationship took it's toll.

You can't tell, but we were sporting our Donny and Marie t-shirts in these photos. You have no idea how many hours we spent stretched out across her bedroom floor listening to Marie Osmond sing Paper Roses and wishing we had a brother who wore Purple socks.

The coolest thing about Mary's bedroom was that it was actually the cry room of that old church in Eureka, which means that half of one wall was a window overlooking the sacrament pews. The cry room was situated above the chapel and was designed for mothers with disruptive children. The idea was that the mothers would be able to see and hear the church services, without the church services being able to see and hear them. A brilliant idea, which also came in handy for catching her cousins, who lived in the rooms on the other side of the cultural hall, in the act of plotting secret missions to take over the church.

The crazy thing about seeing Mary last night was that she has a memory like a mouse trap.

"Remember that hit song we wrote?" she said and then she sang it: "We are the dancing dolls. We are the dancing dolls. We turn around and touch the ground. We are the dancing dolls."

Startling how heelarious I was even at the tender age of ten.

"And remember that year I came to your Bicentenial family reunion in Mt. Carmel?" she said. "I still have Todd Lookinlands autograph in my scrapbook."

I had completely forgotten about that autograph. And about the fact that not only do I see famous people, I'm also related to famous people.

You all know Bobby Brady, right?

Well we just so happen to be blood kin.

I've never met him, but his brother, Todd, came to our Bicentenial family reunion.

Lookie, this is him in 1976--the very same year we got his autograph--with Elizabeth Taylor in The Blue Bird. He went on to play the chicken boy in Karate Kid and surfer #3 in Big Wednesday. The list goes on and on but I don't want to sound like a Braggedy Ann.

Todd Lookinland wasn't the only thing Mary remembered about that reunion. She also remember singing Blowing in the Wind and If I had a Hammer and Leaving on a Jet Plane at the top of our lungs all the way down to Mt. Carmel. And she remembers asking my mom if she was going to have any more kids. Apparently my mom laughed and said "I don't think so, I've already ruined seven of them."

What a silly goose mom.

The most surprising thing Mary remembered was my dad's sense of humor. That image of him usually gets upstaged in my mind by his presence, yet absence in my life. He was present, yes, but withdrawn and depressed. Or Present, yet strung out on pain meds. Or present, yet nursing another serious bleed caused by his hemophilia.

It was surreal almost, listening to her talk about him. "He was always so funny," she said and then she repeated a story as if she were telling a joke about how on the way to the reunion she asked him to stop at the next bathroom.

"Why?" he said, "Do you need to take a bath?"

"No, I need to go to the restroom," she told him.

"Why, are you tired? Do you need to take a nap?"

Three words: Ba dum bum

He would have made a great Crash Test Dummy, don't you think? And I would have made a great side kick.

But he's been absent, yet present in my life for 28 years now, tomorrow.

March 27th.

In fact 28 years ago today I was a freshman at Provo High School, trying to decide what I was going to wear to the big dance at Timpview. I spent most of the day at American Fork high at a choir competition wrestling with a strong, persistent, almost urgent, nagging feeling that I needed to go see my dad, who lived in an apartment five blocks from my house. I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen him so it didn't make much sense to suddenly pop in. I thought of dropping by and asking if I could borrow ten bucks to buy the hot pink double breasted bolero from Lerners I'd been eyeballing for the dance, but I never borrowed money from my dad so that didn't make sense either.

In the end I borrowed ten bucks from my tithing, walked downtown to Lerners and bought the bolero. When my hot rollers went out while I was getting ready for the dance and my mom told me to go ask my dad to fix them. Again I ignored the opportunity.

Sometime during the dance that night, while I was praying with all my heart that Keith Sperry would catch me on a slow song, my dad overdosed.

It's strange how things stick to memory when your life is about to change colors. I distinctly recall going outside during the dance and pausing and looking up at the sky, inky and vaguely punctuated by a spattering of random stars. I distinctly recall inhaling deeply even though I had no idea what was about to hit me.

For one moment in time I stood alone in my hot pink bolero, paid for by God, while the moody March air wrapped her arms around me and chastised me, gently.

"I'm sorry kid," she said, shaking her head, "but you're going to regret this night for the rest of your life."

Regretting something you did is a heavy cross to bear, but regretting something you didn't do, that you could have done, and SHOULD have done, is a whole different animal.

I've gone back to that night many times in my mind, as depicted in my short story Letting Daddy Die, which many of you have already read, but this year, thanks to Mary, I'm not going back. This year I'd rather drive shotgun to a family reunion in Mt. Carmel and sing Blowing in the Wind at the top my lungs.

This year I'd rather smile and giggle at my dad making like a crash test dummy.

LY, Dad!

And ba dum bum

Thursday, March 25, 2010

You Found Me!

Whoever said ignorance is bliss I'd like to take to Zupas for some lobster bisque, because ain't it just the truth?

Ignorance is definitely bliss.

Especially when it comes to leftover Halloween candy. Some things we just don't need to know about, am I right? Or am I right?

Which is exactly why I don't clean very often.

Although I made an exception today because my purple cell phone, containing extremely rare photographic evidence of the prophet, went missing last week.

I didn't consider it LOST, per say, I just figured it wasn't FOUND. There's a difference, you know. There's a definite difference.

When something goes missing around here I don't immediately fetch after it. I like to wallow in the idea that it's around somewhere and will turn up eventually.

See, if I search diligently and don't find it, I have to confront the possibility that maybe it's going, going, gone.

I'm just not that confrontational. Especially with reality.

donkeybray suggested I go to for help, so I did, but they didn't know where it was either. Then the Nutty Hamster Chick suggested I ask the Universe for help, so I did, and guess what!! He knew exactly where it was.

That's right! The Universe trumps the Internet again.


In the last place I looked.

(Why are things always in the last place we look?)

So sneaky how the Universe works. He guided me straight to my missing cell phone, but somehow tricked me into doing all my spring cleaning along the way.

Smarty pants! Always finding some purpose in the process.

My process began at 6:00 a.m. when I started turning all the couches upside down. I didn't find my cell phone, but I did find all those missing popcorn kernels I've been looking for since Thanksgiving.

By 9:30 I had cleaned out all my closets, scrubbed all my bathrooms and cleaned and vacuumed both cars.

Then suddenly, there it was! Wedged in between the two front seats of my Sante Fe. I wouldn't even have noticed it had it not started singing The Fray, You Found Me at the top of it's lungs.

How cute is that?

Thank you, Universe! LY!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We're even

So yesterday after my twins came home from school I showed them their Man in the Mirror post.

"So dumb!" the oldest twin said, followed immediately by, "you're going to have to get us a BIG treat to make up for this."

The youngest twin tried to act like he was embarrassed, but he wore these socks to school yesterday so I don't believe him for a second.

Speaking of treats, guess what I found while looking for my missing cell phone? 

A bag of Halloween candy. And it wasn't just the leftover lollipops and pixie sticks either. The bag was overflowing with Crunch bars and M&M's and Butterfingers and Baby Ruths. There were Whoppers and Tootsie Rolls and Laffy Taffy. There was even a granola bar and two toothbrushes that some dentist with a sense of humor must have thrown in for conflict.

When I showed my kids the bag, my oldest twin said, "Oh, yea, I forgot about that."

How do you FORGET about your HALLOWEEN CANDY????

Talk about dumb.

So I handed him the bag and said, "Here's your BIG treat. We're even." 

P.S. If anyone finds my missing cell phone, please call 1-800-dummy.  

P.S.S It's purple and sparkly and has a photo of the prophet on it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Man in the Mirror

The hardest part about living in Utah is waking up my house every morning. I have enough trouble dragging myself and my kids out of bed, let alone my lazy-bones house.

My house was born in 1962. Dontcha think that's old enough to start waking up on it's own?

In Hawaii our house woke us up. Besides the skittery geckos and roaches and the manic roosters, the restless trade winds and palm trees would whisper "aloha" in our ears and nudge us out of bed each day.

But our house in Utah is a deep sleeper and the trees aren't the least bit anxious to see us.

Every night feels like a one night stand because every morning my house yawns and stretches and looks at me with indifferent eyeballs.

"Who are you again?" It blinks.

"I'm that chick you were partying with last night until the wee hours of the morning," I say.

It's kinda like waking up on the movie set of 50 First Dates.

To jar it's memory we usually turn my playlist up full blast, but yesterday my twins sighed and imitated how my playlist sounds to them. It was one of those sounds that I can't spell, but that is not unlike the sound they make when we tell them it's time to go work at the orange stand. We had this brainy idea that we could teach our kids how to work by selling fresh California oranges all winter, but we've only succeeded in teaching them how to complain. If I had only known how much money you could make complaining I would have majored in it in college.

So yesterday my twins opted for Michael Jackson. I have no idea why, but they played Man in the Mirror over and over and over as they were getting ready for school.

They didn't just play it, they also sang to it. At 80 decibels. And they danced to it. At 80 decibels. And they blew the speakers out to it. At 80 decibels.

And they did it all in my pink bath robe and sage towel.

Good thing they make so much money complaining because they WILL be buying a new set of speakers.

I thought it only appropriate to hide behind the kitchen wall and play the part of the mirror so they could see exactly what a man looks like when he sings and dances to Michael Jackson in my pink bath robe and sage towel.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

True Stories

Yesterday morning I was laying in bed, asleep as it were, when Carly Simon shook the whole house wide awake.

Apparently my hub has moved past Youtube to Jango. Jango is a website that allows you to create your own radio station by just typing in any artist of choice. It then plays similar artists of the same genre, (except sometimes they mess up and throw Andy Gibb or Donna Summer in the Carly Simmon mix.)

So there I was at 7:30 a.m. laying in bed listening to Helen Ready repeating Leave Me Alone 13 times per chorus, which means she told me to leave her alone exactly 39 times.

Back atcha, Helen!

This was followed by Leo Sayer telling me over and over again that I make him feel like dancing. If I hadn't stayed up until 4:45 a.m. writing the first paragraph of my first query letter for my first manuscript submission I would have been tempted to see if Leo was making my hub feel like dancing as much as he was making him feel like singing.

My hub can do that simultaneous air guitar/riverdance trick with his singing voice too.

True story.

Okay, so technically it wasn't my first manuscript submission. I did submit a manuscript to Deseret Book as one of my Writing for Publication class requirements in college. They asked me to revise it and send it back. And then they told me they totally would have published it if it hadn't been for the fact that it was a piece of junk.

I'm full of true stories today.

Here's another true story. Somewhere in between Leo Sayer and Helen Ready came Joni Mitchell and Olivia Newton John and Rita Coolidge. And somewhere in between them I heard my daughter call to my hub from the computer.

"Hey, Dad! I have 100% in my honors English class."

I know I've been poking my daughter's English teacher in the eye for labeling me a Twi-mom, but can I just say publicly that I secretly lub him. And not just because he's giving her 100%, but because last week when my daughter made some outrageous statement about who knows what during class he grinned and said, "I really love how you always go against the grain and how you never conform to the norm when you say what you need to say. Good on you for not being afeared to let your freak flag fly sky high."

And then he added,"Now you just need to learn that sometimes you're wrong!"

Insert evil English teacher laugh here.

And here.

And here.

(You tell her, evil English teacher!)

Anyways, gotsta go to church to learn some more true stories!


And LY everyone!!!!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

The only thing that bugs me about perfection is that it makes you grumpy.

Think about it, even striving for perfection makes you grumpy.

I learned this from Wife Swap.

In fact, all I need to know about life I learned from Wife Swap.

My hub disagrees. He says all you need to know about life you can learn from sports. But sports can’t prepare you for reality like Wife Swap can.

Sports can’t teach you that people are weird.

It might teach you that refs are weird, especially when they wear those tight polyester shorts, or it might teach you that people are volatile and angry and aggressive, but sports can’t prepare you for all the varieties of weirdies you are going to encounter as you make your way into the world.

For example, on a basketball court you might encounter a bully, but you’ll never know if that bully lets his potbelly pig sleep in bed with him, or if he asks his plants permission to pick them and eat them, unless you watch Wife Swap.

You get me?

Nothing against weird people. They’ve taught me a lot—like it’s okay to wear glittery wings and feed your fairy tree and sing to your bunnies. It’s okay to dress like pirates and pillage your home. And it’s okay to have flies in your house as long as they are house flies. House flies are indigenous to houses, you know. They're ubiquitous, whatever that means.

I’ve learned that Gad would never put anything on this earth to hurt us, so go ahead and lick your kitchen floor clean with your tongue. I’ve seen it done with no physical consequences. Bacteria truly is our friend so let us eat (raw meat), drink (raw eggs), and be merry! For tomorrow we may be in the hospital with E. coli.

Actually drinking raw eggs can help a grown man calm down considerably when he’s curled up on the bathroom floor sobbing hysterically after his new wife forces his children to eat chicken strips.

It sounds weird, but you know what? Weird people ain’t grumpy. Ever noticed that?

Another show that has taught me everything I need to know about life is Ghost Hunters.

Name one ghost for me, besides Casper, who isn't grumpy.

Can't do it, can you, which just goes to show that either the church is true, or old habits die hard, because even dead people continue striving for perfection.

I personally wish dead people would lighten up a bit. In fact, I’m thinking of creating my own reality show called Ghost Swap. Wouldn't that be cool to have like a recycled soul from some sanitarium in California swap haunting grounds with an apparition from a Pittsburgh penitentiary?

Don't you think it would help ghosts remember who they are and what they stand for? Instead of throwing rocks and levitating stuffed teddy bears and being rude to the living, they could learn to be pleasant. And productive. Maybe take a laughing yoga class or help old people find their glasses or denture cream, or whisper helpful advice to newlyweds like Don't forget to put the seat down.

In other words, they could learn to embrace their wounded inner wierdie and, as Shrek the Musical would say, let their freak flag fly.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Only in Utah

Last week I went to the post office to pick up a package. The line was longer than Fast Sunday, mostly because one lady was mailing truckloads of "Stampin' Up" packages.

"Only in Utah!" the guy in front of me said.

It struck me that I haven't used that phrase yet since I moved to Utah. I mean, when I lived on Long Island I said "Only in New York" all the time, like every time I paid $4.99 PER POUND for an all-you-can-eat-buffet, or every time a public toilet flushed before I was done with my bizness, or every time I got flipped off for obeying the traffic laws.

(In Utah they would throw me a parade if I obeyed the traffic laws.)

When I lived in Hawaii I said, "Only in Hawaii," all the time too, like every time I woke up with a cockroach in my ear, or every time my screen door was installed backwards, or every time a car waved at me to turn in front of him.

(I would throw Utah a parade if anyone ever waved at me to turn in front of him.)

So why haven't I said "Only in Utah" yet?

I have no idea. But it's about time I did.

I should have said it last night at the Relief Society birthday party when they served kalua pig with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Call me crazy, but I get a sense that people here suffer from rice-ophobia.

Last week my Stake YW Prez asked me to cook some rice for the YW recognition dinner. I honestly didn't know what to say when she dropped off the dainty little bag of long grain rice--all 32 oz of it.

Even my newspaper could kick that long grain's trash.

Not to be snobby, but I buy Calrose.

In bulk.

When my prez handed me a set of instructions on how to cook rice on the stove top I took her gently by the hand and led her to my kitchen where I showed her my shiny stainless steel rice cooker. I pushed the start button and said, "this is how I cook rice, girlfriend."

After the recognition dinner I went into the kitchen to pick up my rice pot and wouldn't you know it, not a single grain of that 32 oz. had been eaten.

Only in Utah!

There are other things that happen only in Utah. Like good sportsmanship. Everyone is afeared of contention around these parts. My twins basketball league doesn't even keep score. They don't call fouls either. They just want everyone to have a positive experience and feel like winners.

Ward basketball takes sportsmanship to a whole nother level. The boys can get away with being a little mouthy now and again, but the girls have to gather in a circle and read this poster out loud which outlines the purpose of Utah area sports.

And then they repeat the Young Women theme.

Parents and siblings have obligations to help keep the peace as well.

But by no means is the church the only entity concerned about the conflicts that can and will arise from athletic competition.

A few days ago my daughter came home with a contract I had to read and sign and swear on the Holy Bible to abide by in order for her to play club soccer.

1. Parents must not coach from the side line.

2. Parents should not criticize their child on any part of their child's game since it may cause confusion and erode the player's confidence.

3. Be your child's best fan and support her unconditionally. Don't withdraw your love when she performs below her standard.

4. On transporting your daughter home, please be supportive and always focus on the positive aspects of her game.

5. Monitor your child's stress level at home. Keep an eye on your player and make sure they are handling stress effectively from the various activities of life.

6. Be sure that your child is eating the correct foods and is in bed by 9:30 p.m.

7. Help your child keep priorities correct. she needs to maintain a focus on schoolwork, relationships and other things in life besides soccer.

8. Do not criticize the coach or other players on the team or on the opposing team, or other player's parents or parents of the opposing team.

9. View the game 4-5 feet back from the sidelines.

Of course I signed my name in blood on the dotted line:

R. U. Serious


But I left out my middle name, "Freaking," because it sounded too formal.

Ironically, this post is circular in nature, so let's end at the very beginning, with me at the post office receiving a package and wondering why I never use the phrase "only in Utah."

The package was a gift from my Hub's old Health Center staff at BYU-Hawaii--some kind of specially carved Maori shark tooth studded swords--aka, fierce instruments of war meant for impaling one's enemy in the heat of battle.

Only in Utah would I pretend they are ancient Chinese dust busters when the neighbors drop by to chat.