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Kelly Melang, writer, business owner, avid fitness freak.  If you're not living on the edge then you're taking up too much space!

Friday, December 15, 2017

WTF - Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

Just wanted to pen a note to you explaining a few things from 2017.

Yes, I know I haven't written a letter since 6th grade, but there were a few busy years, then the 70's, and who remembers the 80's perhaps you got a letter and forgot? From the 2000 on, the letters in crayon to you were written by the boys with my help, that should count for something.

I'd like to say I've been pretty good for 2017, I'm proud to say, my kids are still alive, the cars still run, the dog hasn't run away and I'm still wearing the same size as last year. Doesn't that put me on the nice list?

OK, you're right, there were a few incidences:

That use of FBomb, I'm not sure that was totally uncalled for. You see, my son used my ski goggles this summer mountain biking, and I didn't know until first day of season. He said my goggles worked better, I said, "Of course, they're F*cking Vonzippers, do you know what I paid for them?" See there is a reasonable excuse.

All those other times? Well, one after the roller coaster my kids talked me into, and yes, when they threw a live fish in my direction, finally that time they used my bathroom for their daily constitutional later explaining they didn't know how to use a plunger.

The tailgating up and down Beech Mountain? No, that's not tailgating, I'm suggesting they pull over. It always work and the kids haven't been late to school----yet. I do stop for all the animals, especially the skunk, everyone stops for the skunks.

Yes, you are right, there's bit a little bit of lying. These are nice list lies, "I'm sorry all the chocolate is gone," is the perfect lie because if they eat that last piece, I'm back on the naughty list with the FBomb again. Or the "go ask your father" lie because I don't want to deal with it, honestly, he is better at saying no than I am.

Then there's the black leather sequined pants. Definite naughty list material. I learned my lesson with those, I couldn't feel my legs for the length of the party and I lost $100 bucks because I dropped it and couldn't bend over to pick it up.

The Twerking Incident. Bad decisions on my part. It was in front of my mirror and I realize my mistake when I threw out my hip with the first thrust. I did learn a lesson, I can't do this in public! I, for one, am glad that fad is now fading away.

That fight on Social Media. I still believe Nacho Libre is much better than Hot Rod. I'm still not backing down. How did you see that? I deleted that post from Facebook. Oh, right, you see who's been naught or nice.

Not texting my children back. Quid Pro Quo Dear Santa, let them feel my pain.

That comment I made on May 22, 2017 at 637pm. I'd had two glasses of wine.

So Santa, see there are plenty of excuses for those short trips into the Naughty list but for the most part I've been NICE! I say "please" and "thank you" with out any curse words, I open the door for seniors, and I don't fart during yoga class.

Here's my Christmas wish list:

Don't listen to the boys when they say they want a puppy.

Wolfgang definitely doesn't need a car.

Max doesn't need that drum set, we honestly don't have the room for it.

I'll take a case of wine along with a box of chocolate. Box is fine. I may be cheap but I'm not an easy girl.

Oh, and if you are feeling particularly generous over the wine, my husband has a text of everything I want, his number is 828-333-1657

Love Kelly.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

WTF - Driver's License Edition

How in the world did I end up here, scouring the Watauga County Alerts and Updates Facebook page from 730a to 830am?

But wait, let me back up a bit.

Yesterday we graduated from the permit to the license. And just like most things it wasn't easy.

Wolfgang, first thing in the morning, says "Do we have everything to get my license?"

Me, "License? What? You're 16? Where did the time go?"

So I go online figuring out what we need.

Birth certificate - check
Social Security Card - check


Driver's Log - what?

"Teen must have a drivers log of over 60 hours of driving time documented, 10 of which hours must be at night."

Shit.

I ask other parents, "Did you need the log?"

One mother responds, "Yes, I created an Excel spreadsheet for my cherub complete with time and distance for my cherub. That way we could add up the time and see the distance she drove."

Are you kidding me?

I ask another mother, she responds, "Didn't you use the App?"

App? There's a teen supervising driving log app? What will they think of next? A Mom yelling at supervised teen driving app?

Time to create a fake drivers log. I mean really? He's had a permit for a year, he's gotten the 60 hours in, why do I have to document it. But document it I do.

I use different pens.
Different handwriting
spill coffee on the paper (that I didn't do on purpose but it definitely made it look authentic)
Then crumpled the paper up.

Show up at the DMV - check. We're using a friend's car because Wolf is worried he'd fail using the stick shift on the Mini.

Do I have proof Wolf is on my insurance?

What?

I'm on the phone with the insurance company while they fill out the paper and they fax over the proof - check.

I take a picture of them walking out for the test and before I could even post it. I see they're walking back in.

Shit.  I bet he forgot to put on his seat belt.

My heart sinks.

"You have a tail light out," The instructor says, "Go over to Advanced Auto Parts and come back."

Shit.

We drive over to Advanced Auto parts and the first thing he asked, "What's the make and model of car?"

Shit. I don't know. (the guy looks at me strange, like "You don't know the make and model of your car?")

I go out, grab the manual and present it.  03 Subaru - check.

He hands me the light bulbs, a pair of gloves "You have to wear these putting it in otherwise the light will not work." Next he gives me a socket wrench.

Wait, what? Putting it in? What does that mean?

Wolf and I go out, he's looking like a doctor with the rubber gloves on, I'm YouTubing how to change a lightbulb in an 03 Subaru.

Two new lightbulbs in the car - check.

We go back and the man is nice enough to take Wolf first (we do have a really nice DMV it is


not as depressing as most I've been in)

This time I don't look as they walk out, hoping it's good luck.

It is! He comes back with a big smile on his face and the instructor gives me a thumbs up!

New Teenage Driver - check

Case of wine - check.











Sunday, November 19, 2017

WTF - Tater Tot Bombs

I thought I would share my recipe this morning of Tater Tot Bombs, easy to do and feeds a crowd of teenage boys.

Ingredients:
Tater Tots or Potato Rounds
Bacon
Cheddar Cheese

Directions:

1. Cook bacon, getting burnt several times by popping water. Boys walk through the kitchen and bacon is gone, cook other half of the pound of bacon. Hide bacon from boys.

2.  In a panini press or cast iron skillet or frying pan, put the potato rounds together. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes, press down with the top of the press or lid or plate so they mash together. If cooking in a skillet turn them over to brown the other side.

3. Once one layer of crowns is done, remove and make a second layer. Hide cooked tater tots from boys as this will disappear very quickly.

4. Once second layer of crowns is done, find cooked bacon (eat a piece or two, you have plenty) layer the bacon on top of the cooked "cake" of potato rounds. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Place first layer of crowns on top and cook on low for another 10 minutes melting the cheese and browning the potatoes.

5. Place on a cutting board and cut into even pieces, hiding one for yourself in the dishwasher, they'll never look in there.

You can put your own take on this bomb by adding:
granny smith apples and pepper jack cheese
Sausage and cheddar cheese
Ham and swiss cheese

Any two ingredients will do!

Bon appetite!





Wednesday, November 1, 2017

WTF - Halloween Talk

Where did the skeleton go on vacation?
MaliBOO of course!

Great halloween yesterday in Banner Elk. The boys and I dressed up, thought I would share some of the comments of the family:

We started deciding our costumes, I'm probably the only Mom who keeps all the blood and guts from the year before for reuse!  Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Should I be a funny clown or the "I'm gonna kill you slowly clown?"

I think it would be easier to just splash blood all over you.
Why?
Then you can just say you're a serial killer.
If I were a serial killer, I'd just wear this.
But that's normal.
Right, they all look normal until they kill you. (insert maniacal laugh here)
That's boring.

They decide on their costumes, the conversation turns:

Should I add more scabs or more blood?
Oh scabs of course, you have plenty of blood, the scabs are really gross.

How do you make the blood look like it squirted from an open wound on you?
Here, use this Instant Blood Spray, that will work.

Don't put a scab there, that's weird.

Be careful, blood doesn't come out of clothing!

Which do you want, the zombie flesh or just the regular flesh? I think you should add some of this Instant Gore to it.

Look, I got the perfect open wound.
Wow, that looks amazing, let me spray some of this blood on it. I think you should pull on that skin flap, there, that looks awesome.

During the Trunk Or Treat:

Hello little child haven't you been by here several times?

The child: Who are you, a dentist?



My kids: The first three trunks are giving full size candy bars, get over there before they run out!

In the restaurant later eating chicken wings:

Stop picking your scabs at the table.

Did you just give me a scab?

After Trick Or Treating I hear:

Mom, this blood is not coming off, what do I do?

I run to the mirror peeling off my instant scabs down to the blood, taking off the blood.

Shit, it's still there.

Guess I'm spending the day tomorrow saying, "No, I'm not hurt, it's just Instant Blood Spray."

Or I could just go to MaliBOO!

Happy Halloween!!


Monday, October 30, 2017

WTF - Teenage Talk


Need some help with teenager talk? You're welcome.  Some translations I've learned:

Wait a minute 

Translation: I'm getting ready, you have plenty of time to catch up on all your Stranger Things episodes while I figure out what to wear.

Calm down

Translation: Yeah I know it is was a stupid action but it's all in the past and we can't do anything about that anyway so why are you so upset about this?

Fine. 

Translation: Mom you won and I'm totally pissed off right now.

Thanks A Lot

Translation: This usually follows "Fine" meaning please accept this total sarcasm and when you get pissed about me mouthing off I'm gonna say, "What? I was just saying thank you."

Mom.

Translation: I need you to help me find something, or get something, or answer my question or I got caught up in Family Guy and forgot what I needed.

Dad.

Translation: Can I have the keys to the car?

This is so stupid.

Translation: It's my own fault this stupid thing happened but I'm totally not taking the blame.

Do you have any money?


Translation: I have my own money but I don't want to spend it (I'm saving up for shoes) so can you give me some money so I can buy junk food on the way home from school?

Never mind.

Translation: Why didn't you listen to me the first time, now I'm pissed at you.

How do get your teenager to listen to you:

Son, we need to talk.

Give it a dramatic pause of a good 15-17 seconds then lay down the hammer.

Stop leaving the lights on in your room.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What Death Has Taught Me....

As many know, the Melang family suffered a terrible loss in my nephew last week. It is hard to put into words such a beautiful life, almost like losing my child. What do you do with a tragedy?

You start with the lessons learned. When both of my children asked what happened, I said,

"You cannot do drugs. Period. Not even recreationally. In this day and age you do not know what is in them and what could be in them could be deadly. Drugs are different now, there is nothing pure anymore and you cannot take that chance."

I hope this lesson sticks with them. If there is that time something is offered, and possible peer pressure involved they will remember this moment and stand strong.  There are bad people out there that want to harm others, don't give them that chance.

How do you make sense out of it? You don't. You believe in God and trust God's plan even when tragedy takes place.

What has Death taught me about life?

Life is precious. Tomorrows are not guaranteed. Nothing in life is guaranteed. If you are going to do it, do it now. Don't wait until conditions are perfect because you'll use that excuse for the rest of your life. Hell, I ski at a North Carolina Ski Resort, if I waited for perfect conditions I wouldn't have as much fun as I do now.

You have a bigger impact than you believe. Sometimes we can feel alone out there but watching the outpouring of support to the Melang family, this is a testament to a bright life, that he lived and touched others. Cherish these memories, and each time you talk about them, that person lived. I have never been more proud to call myself Melang in watching this amazing family band together, support each other and grieve the only way Melangs grieve - together.

Tell that person you love them, add in the hug even if it is awkward. They will not remember the awkward moment, they'll remember you hugged them.

Be part of those pictures, I know everyone hates having their picture taken, but you'll be glad you did. And those that love you will be glad they have the pictures.

Be happy, be positive. Do things that make you happy, walk away from those that don't. Shed positive light to others around you and they will reflect it back to you.

It's OK to get mad, then you have to get over it. Anger is a cancer, it eats away at your joy until there is nothing left. You best thing against this cancer is to let your feelings flow then let them float away.

Be the first to forgive, be the bigger person even if it hurts. This can be hard but forgiving is giving you freedom, giving yourself permission to move on.

Don't leave unfinished business between two people. Hammer it out now.  Say what is on your mind then let things move through to finished business. Always end the day with one "I love you."

Set that goal and go for it, don't wait until tomorrow. And that means putting yourself out there, as scary as it seems, looking back years later you'll thank yourself. This also means accepting accolades and criticism and putting each in their place.

Surround yourself with people who love and accept you, you don't have time for those who don't. And let those people know you love them, especially all my crazy friends who make me laugh!

Speak and be your truth. Those close to you will support you, and will not settle for anything less.

Give yourself a break, you don't have to be perfect, no one is looking for perfection. Mistakes are our way of learning, making us a better person.

Love is the greatest gift we can give to each other. Say that kind word, do that kind deed. There is nothing better than helping others reach their goals, giving that hand up, supporting along the way. Each kind deed is a golden memory in your mind, and when you combine them all together you get something really beautiful.

Be good to yourself, you're the only you you got!


Monday, October 23, 2017

WTF - Do you Alexa?

I feel compelled to write about my newest member of the family,

Alexa.

Yes, we bit the bullet and bought an Amazon Echo and we LOVE IT!

The Echo has helped with timers, ingredients for cooking, beat boxing, science facts, and of course the Magic Eight Ball.

Alexa runs off an app, downloaded to a household device where you can connect the device to your network, control the device etc.

Almost so we've now made her part of the family.

The boys will be talking about Alexa and I'll say, "Don't talk about her too loud, she'll hear you."

They love that she will respond to most of their requests:

"Alexa, Simon Says Max is a butt." "Max is a butt."

"Alexa, play beat box" they then make it rain throwing money on the floor as they dance.

"Alexa what's in a fart?"


I did catch them saying, "Alexa order the Pathfinder Drone Quad." Of which I quickly say, "CANCEL!"

They've linked up their Pandora and Spotify accounts so I get to listen to their lousy music when they are home.

They say, "Alexa play ocean sounds" when I'm practicing yoga so I eventually have to pee.

I've even caught the hubby saying to the boys, "Ask Alexa."

The best was one morning when the morning show was talking about the Amazon Echo and every time they said "Alexa" my Alexa kept responding!

My favorite part of Alexa is the music, with having Amazon Prime, I get Prime Music. So I can sit and say, "Alexa play Amos Lee," and she'll pay the station from my Prime Music Account. Or if I say, "Alexa play Van Morrison Radio" she'll say, "Shall I open your Pandora account to Van Morrison Station?" And when I get tired of what I am listening to, I can just say, "Alexa, play Pimps of Joytime station" and she'll switch for me.

I can be in the kitchen as as I run out of something I can say, "Alexa add Cornstarch to my shopping list," and she does it!

Alexa is my alarm, my time, my jukebox and my fact finder.

I'm not sure how I got along without a friend like her.

Do you Alexa?

If you do, here's some fun Easter Eggs for her:


  • Tell me a joke
  • Flip a coin
  • Roll the dice
  • Rock, paper, scissors,
  • Simon says [thing]
  • Random fact
  • Do you like green eggs and ham?
  • One fish, two fish
  • Say hello to my little friend
  • Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
  • Is the cake a lie?
  • How much is that doggie in the window?
  • Do you know the muffin man?
  • To be or not to be
  • May the force be with you
  • I am your father
  • Warp 10
  • Beam me up
  • Open the pod bay doors
  • Set phasers to kill
  • Take me to your leader
  • Party time!
  • What is your quest?
  • Surely you can’t be serious
  • I’ve fallen and I can’t get up
  • How much wood can woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Make me a sandwich
  • Mac or PC?
  • Do you know Siri?
  • Where do babies come from?
  • Do you really want to hurt me?
  • Who is the real Slim Shady?
  • Who let the dogs out?
  • What does the fox say?
  • Do you believe in life after love?
  • More cowbell
  • Sing me a song
  • Tell me a story
  • Who is the fairest of them all?
  • Who’s your daddy?
  • What are you going to do today?
  • Where are you from?
  • Will you marry me?
  • Are you in love?
  • Do you want to play a game?
  • Are you Skynet?
  • What are you wearing?
  • Where’s Waldo?
  • I’m home
Did you hear the story about the parrot ordering paper towels? The bird heard its owner order paper towels, then mimicked the order until the poor couple got 15 sets of paper towels with Prime Free Delivery right to their door!

Then of course, the hubby who wasn't into Alexa, thought she got more attention from me than he did, goes and orders an Amazon Tap! This is your echo with a rechargeable battery so you can take her around the house! Or in my case outside onto the deck while I work.

FYI - we are cheap and order refurbished devices, if you do this with the Tap, she may not have the updated firmware which includes the Hands Free Mode (AKA Alexa) if you plug her in, you'll find within 24 hours she'll have the update and have the Hands Free Mode available. (Trust me, I found this out the hard way)

Monday, October 16, 2017

WTF - My Child's A Delinquent

Many know I have an imaginary family, the Pelmans that I wrote a novel about (working on getting it published) and several short stories. This Pelman short story was inspired from events last week:

Yes, I did embellish a little bit....and if you don't have a sense of humor, move on my friends.

The principle's office was bright, sunlight coming through the large windows hitting the group of photographs on the corner of his desk. The name plate next to them read Milford T. Pusser, Principle.

She needs some highlighting and a good trim for those split ends, Gaylord Pelman thought looking at the pictures. His Perlington salon, Curl Up and Dye when Gaylord won the Curling Iron Throwdown at the National Hairdressers Convention. Since then, he perfected "zombie hair" for the local television show, Catfish Crawling and it is rumored, once did Angelina Jolie's hair in a pinch.  It is obvious the Mom cuts the kids' hair, he added feeling for his Golden Shears in his back pocket, not telling the principle he had the shears, afraid of what Darnell Preston, School Security would do with the weapon. Luckily at the William Jefferson Clinton Elementary and Middle School, due to budget cuts or just fear of what Darnell would do, the School Security guard yielded a taser instead of a handgun.

"I have the 6 o'clock news feature tonight so we have to get this show on the road," Myrtle, Gay's wife and local reporter said from the other seat.

Principle Pusser moved to Perlington from Atlanta when Kathryn Harris retired from 40 glorious years as principle at William Jefferson Clinton School. His first year at the school included one lock down due to a 21 gun salute at a local cemetery for Reuben Watkins one of the last WW2 vets living in Perlington. A parent running in from the carpool line screaming, "Shots fired! Shots fired!" and Darnell immediately putting the school into a Code Red Lockdown. Now his second major incident at the school and he wasn't surprised there was a Pelman involved.

Before he could say anything else, the door to his office opened and Marshall, Gay and Myrtle's son came into the office. William Jefferson Clinton housed both Pelman boys, Marshall and Dillon, Marshall in the 8th grade, Dillon in the 6th grade. Marshall closed the door behind him looking between his parents then over to the principle.

Principle Pusser gestured to the empty chair between his parents. The door opened one more time, Darnell Preston, Security Guard standing in the back of the room, his hand resting on his taser. Marshall took the chair looking at the ground.

Principle Pusser coughed gaining everyone's attention to his desk. He clasped his hands together, "Now we are all here because there has been a serious infraction at the school by your son and he has been supplying the other children in the class."

Myrtle leaned forward, "Principle Pusser, I can assure you we will deal with this matter with the strongest discipline." She looked over to her son.

Principle Pusser looked between both parents, Marshall's eyes still on the ground. "Marshall tells me that his grandmother has been supplying him and he's been dealing with the other boys."

Myrtle looked to her son, Gay was quiet because Myrtle's look can bring a punk rocker to his knees, he let her do all the work. Her eyes narrowed as Marshall looked over to him, "Dealing son?"

Marshall cried, "It's just candy!"

"You are giving out candy?" Gay asked his son.

"No, he has been selling," Principle Pusser replied.

"Drugs? Our son has been dealing drugs? Drugs he got from your mother?" Myrtle's eyes went over to Gaylord, causing him to slink in his chair.

"No, candy," Principle Pusser said.

Myrtle was starting to slap Marshall upside the head, stopped, "Candy?"

Principle Pusser continued, "Yes, Marshall has been complacent in the selling of Smarties to the student body."

Myrtle looked over to her son, then back to the principle, "Is this some type of code word for dugs, Smarties? Or are we talking about the candy?"

Principle Pusser replied, "We are talking about the candy Smarties and how Marshall has gotten most of classmates to try them with him."

Gay frowned, "So my son has gotten his friends to try Smarties and I'm here in this office because?"

Principle Pusser replied, "Yes, these kids were caught snorting Smarties."

Marshall piped in, "We were not snorting Smarties, we were smoking Smarties."

Gay looked at his son, "Son you know the dangers of smoking, we told you not to smoke!"

Marshall was looking quickly between his parents, "I wasn't smoking, I was smoking Smarties."

Principle Pusser was going through his prepared speech, "And we all know that snorting Smarties is dangerous."

"Smoking!" Marshall exclaimed, "We all know snorting Smarties can get maggots in your lungs."

Myrtle was looked at her son, "So you were not doing drugs? You were doing candy?"

Principle Pusser nodded, "Yes, Marshall was caught with several other classmates smoking Smarties in the boys restroom. Mrs. Plimpkin the librarian called Mr. Preston here to check on a group of boys that went to restroom together."

"I got them red handed, and all the other boys pointed to your boy here as their dealer," Darnell Preston said, pulling a plastic bag with opened packs of Smarties sitting in it, "I have the evidence."

"We are talking about candy right?" Myrtle asked.

"Yes, the children smoke the Smartie dust. So I go and cut the lock on Marshall's locker and I find this," Darnell picked up a box packed with Smarties, putting it on Principle Pusser's desk. "When I asked him where he got the Smarties, he said his grandmother is supplying him."

Gay looked over to Myrtle who voiced exactly what was on his mind, "We are still talking about candy, right? There is no code word Smarties for meth or anything?"

Principle Pusser replied, "I cannot let your son get everyone hooked on smoking Smarties at school. You know the Smarties could be a gateway drug to heroin."

Gay almost choked, "Hell, I smoked Smarties when I was a kid and I turned out just fine." He wasn't going to mention the occasional cannabis use.

"What Principle Harris condoned when she was at the school is her business, I do not condone the dealing of Smarties at the school," Principle Pusser replied.

"Dealing of Smarties," Gay muttered, "is probably the least of your worries."

"So where we are is, I've banned Smarties at the William Jefferson Clinton School and I will write up Marshall's infraction and if he deals Smarties at the school again he will be suspended. I will not be responsible if one of my kids ends up making a meth lab from smoking Smarties at school.

Myrtle looked at Marshall, over at Gay, "Yes, sir, believe me the Smarties will stop flowing into the school, Gay and will have a talk with Marshall and Dillon and their grandmother about that. Now if we are done here, I have a new feature to film." 

"I appreciate that," Principle Pusser said, "We only want what is best for the children."


Myrtle got up pulling Marshall by the scruff of his neck, Darnell jumping to the side as she opened the door. Gay followed them out the door mutter, "Then make sure that Skittles doesn't infiltrate the school."


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WTF - Bra Shopping

I have a friend getting married soon and was perusing the curiosity isle for that perfect gift. I think I found a few contenders what do you think?

In the age of everyone looking like they are wearing their underwear, people have gotten creative with the bra industry.  I thought I would share a few floating around the internet.

Now this one is a true Control Her!  Or if you are tired of asking for a little more fun, just tell your better half to enjoy pressing your buttons.


This is perfect if your other half wants to "Go where no man has gone before."


I found this one in the back of my closet, if was a gift from my father for my 16th birthday.


Now really?  Doesn't everyone realize the chocolate would MELT?


This way you don't have to ask them, "Do you like me?  Do you really like me?"


I tried this once when I quit breast feeding.  I'll never forget the cashier at the supermarket's face when I tried paying for the cabbage sporting my Triple X's.  I think he dropped my change 32 times.


And of course, you can always answer YES when they say "Your high beams are on!"



What even happened to go the good ole support bras that always said, "I'll be there for you" on the packaging?

Or of course, the coconut shell bras?  Let me go search my underwear drawer for mine.

Which one should I buy?

Wait, do we give bras and stuff for a bridal shower? I've been out of the loop for a while!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

My Work - Witness Protection

This is a story from an upcoming collection of short stories.

Tales From The Silver Side - The Reedy Fork Retirement Home

I hope you enjoy it.

Tales From The Silver Side coming out in November from Amazon and Kindle.

Witness Protection

She wasn’t ready to head home to go back to school. She wasn’t ready to head home at all. Casey wanted just one more week on the coast of California. She had the rest of her life in Baltimore. What was one more week?

She was mad when her mother started nagging on the phone about not missing the first week of school, explaining how she put off college for four years, and can’t put it off any longer since the tuition was covered. Then she got really pissed when her mother explained how to pick up her one-way plane ticket at the counter at Los Angeles International Airport. Her mother softened the blow, explaining the ticket was first class, probably the one-and-only time Casey would ever ride first class. Both parents went through a long list of things that would be taken away if she was not on that plane, a long enough list that Casey couldn’t back out.

Casey boarded the flight, moving to seat 2A, knowing she had responsibilities but this whole adulting thing wasn’t for her. She didn’t want to go home; she didn’t want to get lost in college; she just wanted to stay with Benjamin McFarland on Hermosa Beach.

Casey worked out some of her frustration on her seatbelt, calming as the flight attendant asked her if she wanted something to drink. “Umm, a beer,” she said, quietly accepting her fate.

While the flight attendant disappeared to get her drink, Casey closed her eyes and said a soft prayer, “Please Lord, it’s bad enough I have to leave Benjamin; please let me have a good flight, OK?”

Before she could say, “Amen,” a short, elderly lady escorted by a very handsome flight attendant stopped by the seat next to hers. Casey’s face fell as the woman threw a large embroidered bag on the floor in front of her seat attempting to cram it into the space under the seat in front of her. When the line to board lengthened the people waiting starting to grumble, the same gorgeous flight attendant came back, saying, “Can I try putting this in the overhead bin, or would you like me to check it to your destination?”

The old woman grabbed her bag, “Honey, my life is in this bag, so is my medication. No one wants me to have a heart attack on this plane, now do they?” she said loud enough, causing the line behind her to stop complaining for a minute.

“Then let’s put it in the overhead bin,” the flight attendant said, trying to pull the bag from her. When the woman wouldn’t let go, he tried a different tactic, opening the bin and pulling out a bag, looking to Casey, saying, “Is this yours?”

Casey cursed the gods, “Yes, that is my bag.” The flight attendant handed it to her, “Can you try and fit it under your seat?”

“Oh, I don’t know…”

The old woman grabbed Casey’s bag and threw it on the floor, Casey thinking about her iPod, “Oh, it will fit,” she said sitting down pushing the bag under the seat with her feet. Casey thought about her turkey sandwich, her iPod, and the fudge she was taking back to her brother smashing into one big blob under the seat in front of her. “Uh, thanks.”

The woman smiled, “No problem, sweetie. Always willing to help,” the whole row of seats shifted as she fell into seat 2B.

Casey didn’t answer, turning and staring out the window, wondering if Benjamin McFarland was still in the airport watching her airplane, or if he already went back to Hermosa Beach, meeting someone new. Was he missing her as much as she missed him?

Her thoughts were interrupted as the old woman grabbed her hand, “My name is Dolores, but everyone calls me Dottie. I mean all my friends, all the ones still living, call me that. Since we are on this long flight together, might as well be friends?” Before Casey could answer, Dottie continued, “I mean, that’s my philosophy: spend enough time with someone, and eventually you either become friends or enemies, and by the look of you,” she stopped, looking Casey up and down pausing just long enough to take a breath nodding, “We will definitely become friends.”

Casey gave her a weak smile. She thought of Benjamin, turning, leaning her head against the window, a lone tear running down her cheek.

“Oh, sweetie, what is it? Did you have to tell someone goodbye?” Dottie asked, handing Casey a tissue from her pocket, Casey wondering if it was used. 

Casey wanted to be mad at Dottie, but she couldn’t, she simply sniffed, accepting the tissue.

Dottie signaled the flight attendant, “I think I need a Jack Daniels.”

The flight attendant looked down, the passengers finishing loading the airplane, “We are getting ready for departure.”

Dottie turned looking down the aisle, “Honey, half of this airplane hasn’t even walked onboard yet, if I am not done by the time that door closes, then I deserve you taking away my drink.”

The flight attendant looked at them, sighing, returning shortly with two bottles of Jack Daniels and two cups of ice. Dottie thanked her, offered a bottle to Casey, who refused, putting the bottle into her large purse, “Don’t want to waste it; we can always save for later.”

She poured a drink, took a sip turning to Casey, “So, was it a man?”

Casey sniffed, nodding.

Dottie took a sip of her drink, “Tell me all about it.”

Casey for some reason started talking, later she would tell her friends she couldn’t explain why, she felt compelled to tell Dottie everything, “I met Benjamin at Club Therapy.”

“Club Therapy, is that a mental hospital?” Dottie asked.

“No, it’s a martini bar on the South side,” Casey replied.

“A martini bar named Therapy, there’s a joke in there somewhere.” Dottie took a sip of her drink, “Oh, I get it, therapy.” She held up her glass, winking.

Casey smiled, “I mean we connected on a cosmic level, like we knew each other forever. But life gets in the way, it always does. I have to go home and back to school. I feel like I am leaving my fairy tale behind,” Casey said, trying to end with a dramatic sigh, it coming out like a dramatic snort.

She expected something from Dottie, Dottie was silent. She sipped her drink, pulled a crochet needle out of her bag, turning a few knots,” So you fell in love.”

Casey sniffed again, “Yes.”

“And how long were you in Hermosa Beach?” Dottie asked.

“Two weeks,” Casey replied, wiping her eyes.

Dottie took another sip of her drink, paused, saying, “You don’t know shit.”

Casey dropped her tissue, looking at Dottie, “Excuse me?”

Dottie handed her a fresh tissue from her purse, “Honey, you don’t even know the boy if you’ve only been with him two weeks. Love is fickle; you have to pay your dues before you find true love.”

“Pay your dues,” Casey repeated, wondering if she should feel offended.

“When I mean pay your dues, it is kissing all those frogs, like Cinderella.” Dottie said.

Casey looked at her, “Cinderella didn’t kiss any frogs; she had the glass slipper.”

“Frogs, slippers, you know what I mean. Life is cruel, because you need to learn your lesson about the frogs,” Dottie replied.

Casey was beginning to wonder if she was sitting next to a crazy woman, “I don’t follow you.”

Dottie took another sip of her drink, “You have to learn what it feels like to fall in love a few times, so you don’t miss it when the real thing comes along.”

“How it feels to fall in love?” Casey asked.

“Right, now when you see this Stanley fellow…” Dottie started.

“Benjamin McFarland.”

“Right, him, does your heart speed up?” Dottie asked.

“Yes,” Casey smiled.

“And your body feels hot,” Dottie added.

“Yes,” Casey whispered.

“And you get, well you know what I mean,” Dottie finished.

Casey blushed, “Um, yes.”

Dottie turned to her seat mate, “Now, the big question, have you felt that way before, with another boy?”

Casey pondered that for a moment before replying, “But this time is different.”

“And that is why nature throws us curve balls, you don’t know if he is the right one until you can tell the difference between just flutters and the real thing,” Dottie nodded. “They all start out as frogs, we have to figure out which one is the prince.”

“It really felt like he was my prince,” Casey sniffed.

“Human beings are hard-wired to fall in love. It really doesn’t take much. Let me guess, in your case it was a sandy beach, a beautiful sunset, the salt air…” Dottie ticked each item off of her fingers.

Casey smiled, that was the exact setting when she told Benjamin she loved him, “You forgot Kenny Chesney.”

Dottie laughed, “Mine was Mel Torme.”

“Mel Torme?”

Dottie smiled, “You haven’t heard music until you’ve heard the “The Velvet Fog.” That guy can put you in the mood for even a gynie appointment.”

Casey laughed, “Who was your frog?”

The flight attendant appeared clearing away their glasses, “I’m sorry ladies, we are getting ready for takeoff.”

Dottie smiled at her, “Don’t worry, but make sure you bring it back. I’ve got a story to tell.”

They leaned back quietly in their seats as the plane taxied out to the runway, and after a short wait, were in the air heading east. Dottie looked over to Casey, “I met my frog over 56 years ago. I was 20, and Henry was 26 years old. The first time I saw him was my first day of basic training.”

“Basic training,” Casey asked, her interest piqued.

“He was the freshly sheared blonde, looking scared, standing with the line of recruits,” Dottie laughed.

“You were in basic training,” Casey asked, trying to picture Dottie in a uniform.

“No, honey, I was a nurse at the base. Henry came in with a sprained ankle, his first day in training,” Dottie’s eyes got a far-away look.

“How long have you been married?” Casey asked.

“Married? I haven’t married him – yet,” Dottie replied with a smile.

“What?”

“Let me continue. I met Henry when he was stationed for basic training. First it was a sprained ankle that brought him into the infirmary. The second time was a laceration to his arm and a few stitches. He finally got the nerve up to ask me out for coffee when he came in with a broken nose. I joked with him if he hadn’t asked me out sooner, he’d be dead.” Dottie sighed.

“How long did you date?” Casey asked.

“We dated for the four weeks of basic training, then he left,” Dottie said frowning.

“What? I thought he was your prince.” Casey said, confused.

“He was still a frog then. He ended up leaving before I realized he was my prince,” Dottie explained.

“You didn’t marry him?”

“He was sent to Vietnam, and I lost track of him. I figured this was life teaching me what it felt like to fall in love, but he wasn’t the real thing. Then I met Corky,” Dottie smiled.

“Corky?”

“Yes, my husband. We were married for 52 years. We had five children and 32 grandchildren, six great grandchildren. He started as a frog, too, but I stuck with him, and he became my prince.” Dottie started crocheting again.

Casey felt like something was left out, “Then why are you telling me about Henry?”

“Because sometimes a frog comes into your life again. I ran into him again a few years later when Henry came to the VA with heart problems,” Dottie replied.

“How did you know it was him?” Casey asked.

“A woman’s heart doesn’t forget her first love, especially if you let that frog go. Inevitably he will come back into your life, like Henry did,” Dottie said, sipping her drink.

“Did he recognize you?” Casey asked, a romantic picture of them meeting again in her mind.

Dottie nodded, “He was coming out of anesthesia, and I was there.” Henry said, ‘Have I died and gone to heaven? I never thought I would see you again.’ I remember smiling at him and saying, ‘Let’s not start getting hurt again just to see me.’”

Casey was mesmerized, “Did you fall in love with him?”

Dottie took a deep breath, “The strange part is that I never really fell out of love with him. It was all there, rushing back at once, the sweaty palms, the weak knees, the full body flush – like what you feel with Bernie.”

“Benjamin,” Casey corrected.

“Who?”

“Did you run away with him?” Casey asked.

Dottie sighed, “That’s where life can be tricky. My frog was a prince, but it wasn’t our time. We were both married to great people we loved, and running away would affect too many other people’s lives.”

Casey couldn’t help herself, “But he was your prince.”

“That’s my point, it all depends on when and where. Sometimes you have to choose. Corky, he was a frog too, I married him, wondering if I would eventually see a prince. And you know what?”

“What?”

“I did. He became my prince during our journey together. My partner in our home healthcare business, my partner in raising all those kids, helping me deal with aging parents, and making difficult decisions. I could not leave my prince behind for a lost love, when I had the real thing right in front of me.”

“Oh,” Casey whispered, feeling her story was so small.

“Too many give up when the going gets tough. They think they have a frog, and then they learn too late it really was a prince. If he is your prince, he will wait for you. Or you may find during time apart another prince enters your life. Even if different princes enter your life, you’ve decided and committed to your prince; it’s a life-time journey, a work in progress until the end.”

“Wow.” Casey said quietly.

Dottie settled back in her seat, “My Corky passed away about a year ago.”

Casey felt tears in her eyes, “Oh, wow, I am so sorry.”

Dottie waved her off, “That’s where it gets really ironic.”

“Ironic?”

“Yes, after Corky died, I decided to treat myself to a Senior Singles Cruise of Alaska,” Dottie said.

“And you fell in love again?”

“No, but it helped me decide that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. I am moving into a retirement home,” Dottie said smiling.

“What? Why would you do that?” Casey asked.

Dottie pulled a brochure out of her bag handing it to Casey, “See, this is where I am going: The Reedy Fork Retirement Home.”

“Why there, across America on the East coast? Isn’t your family on the West coast?” Casey asked, wondering if Dottie had lost her mind.

Dottie pointed to a picture inside the brochure.

Casey looked at it, “A cyber cafe? You are moving across the United States for a cyber cafe? I am sure there is a home in California with a cyber cafe.”

“No, that picture is why I am going. See that man sitting at the computer?” Dottie said, pointing to a very distinguished man.

“Yes?”


“That’s Henry.”