The Dude, by any other name, would not be Jeff Bridges

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‘What’s in a name? A lot of funny stuff, actually.’

Many of you were a tad confused, as well as amused, by my recent story ‘The Jerk and The Dude’. So I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight: I am not married to Jeff Bridges.

Granted, Mr. Bridges is pretty darned cute, and is known far and wide for his role as The Dude in that funny Coen Brothers film, but I must tell you that my personal Dude earned his dandified moniker back when Mr. Bridges was still only a Fabulous Baker Boy. Even before that, actually.

His Dudeness-to-Whom-I-am-Wed was dubbed ‘The Dude’ when he misguidedly, but rather charmingly, wore a tie to his freshman mixer at Dartmouth College. I do not have photographic evidence of this, since I did not know him then. Continue reading

My polio-shot marriage

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‘Mommy has something she sort of forgot to tell you’

Last week I told you about how once I dated Steve Martin. Now I’m going to tell you about how once I married a guy — a guy who was not The Dude.

The Guy in question is the one pictured in the rather awkward wedding photo at the top of this post. I doubt very much that he reads my blog, but, for all intents and purposes and in this story, he’ll just be ‘The Guy’. (That rather downcast-looking young girl — the one who’s not me — is my sister Laura, she of ‘Larry and the Nose Holes’ fame.)

Why am I telling this story now? Well, tomorrow would have been my, like, zillionth wedding anniversary if indeed I had stayed married to The Guy. The other is that it’s August. Which is like Blog Siberia, except that it’s so hot. So if I embarrass anyone, including myself, the collateral damage will be relatively minor.

I was married so briefly to The Guy, and had been married for such a long time to The Dude, that I sort of forgot all about my ‘previous marriage’. Until one August about 15 years ago when The Child was getting ready for her annual visit to her grandparents in Carlyle, my home town. Continue reading

They didn’t do this for fun, you know

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‘Summer jobs I did not have. But I swear I did not make them up, either’

When I was a kid, a summer job was babysitting. Or working at the 5-and-10. Pumping gas. My best friend Norma had the coolest job of anyone I knew. She worked at the Dairy Queen. One of the perks was you could eat as much DQ as you wanted, which sounded pretty sweet until she told me she had a hard time even looking at a banana boat after the first couple of days.

But these jobs absolutely pale in comparison to the gigs scored by my personal family members in their respective college years. The Child spent one summer working with computers. ‘Yawn’, you say. Well, these computers were located here:

The Child's workplace one summer. She had her own apartment above the stables. Very Thomas Hardy-esque

The Child’s workplace one summer. She had her own apartment above the stables. Very Thomas Hardy-esque

That’s Wadhurst Park, a 900-acre estate in East Sussex. Which is in England, folks. It’s owned by the second-richest guy in Sweden. (Makes you wonder where the richest guy in Sweden lives.) Oh, and here he is, Hans. The Child said she was invited to tea with him and his wife once while she was there. The conversation was less than lively. Not sure if she met the dog.

Hans Rausing, The Child's Boss and the second-richest man in Sweden.

Hans Rausing, The Child’s Boss and the second-richest man in Sweden.

Incidentally, Hans’ dad made the family fortune by inventing the milk carton. Honest. Oh, besides owning that dog in his lap, Hans owned pigs. That’s one of them pictured at the top of this post making friends with The Child. (In addition to working with the estate computers, she performed various livestock-related duties. Including, sometimes, a bit of pig wrangling. And mucking.) Continue reading

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered by The Brits

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‘Cambridge gives The Child the Evil Eye’

Back in the Dark Ages BB* I used to make movies. I filmed anything—and everything—my family did. Then I edited the footage, set it to music and churned out dozens of DVDs that I foisted on one and all. It got so that the mere sight of my cute little Flip video camera drove them into hiding. “Mo-om! Stop flipping us!’  Hah. They didn’t realize how good they had it.

*BB: ‘Before Blog’. A more innocent time, filled with pestering people with filming, then pestering people to watch said films

Well now I don’t need no stinkin’ camera. Because now everything is fodder for The Blog. Including the fact that The Child just might be a witch.

OK. So these two Samanthas don’t look all that much alike. (For those of you who don’t already know, yes, that is The Child’s real, actual name, which I wouldn’t normally reveal, but there you go.) And for those of you who don’t get the ‘Samantha’ reference, here’s some info.

Basically, the black-and-white Samantha pictured above was the main character in a 60’s TV show called ‘Bewitched’. She was a witch married to a ‘normal guy’ who forbade her, for some inexplicable reason, to use her powers. Personally, I’d be all ‘Honey, could you turn my fat ugly boss into the toad he actually is?’ But that’s just me.

Samantha the TV Witch uses her powers to do laundry instead of winning the lottery

Samantha the TV Witch uses her powers to do laundry instead of to win the lottery

But back to what happened in Cambridge. This Witch Story occurred to me because a year has gone by since The Dude and I made our trip to visit The Child while she was studying at Cambridge. A whole year! And there’s still a big ole file of yet-to-be-movified footage staring me accusingly in the face every time I open my computer. Oh well. One of these days. Right now I’d rather tell you about The Witch Thing.

We were winding down after a full day of touring Cambridge—the Botanical Garden, the Scott Polar Institute, college after stately college—and enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant called St. John’s Chophouse. The Child had picked it because it featured Huge Cuts of Meat, which is something students, even students not at Cambridge, can’t afford. (Sushi; same deal. Flesh, raw or cooked, swimming or hoofed, is what Students want to eat when Parents are paying. No ‘Oh, Mom and Dad, can you please please take us to the vegan place?!’  Uh-uh. It’s pricey protein every time.)

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Larry and the Nose Holes

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‘A college boy learns his lesson’

I must have 8-year-olds on the brain. Last week, I wrote about how The Child learned about the Birds and the Bees. Now I’m going to tell you about the time my Favorite Sister went to college — when she was only in Third Grade.

See, I love my brothers. All three of them. But, as the Oldest of the Henry Clan, and the Only Girl for ages and ages, I really wanted a little sister. And, when I finally got one — when I was nine, for heavens’ sakes — I wanted her around me pretty much all the time. I even had my parents put her crib in my room. (Which I imagine didn’t take too much arm-twisting. Before that, the crib was in their room.) Anyway, here she is, in all her infant glory:

Clinging to my prize, flanked by two out of three eventual bros

Clinging to my prize, flanked by two out of three eventual brothers

We’ll jump ahead for the purposes of this story. To when I left home to go to college. University of Missouri, that was. So I could go to Journalism School and become Brenda Starr. If you (undoubtedly) have no idea who that was, click here to find out. But first, Continue reading

Gone Baby Gone

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Mom Vase

‘The Nest. Is it half-empty? Or half-full?’

I think I can trace my rather non-involved mommy style back to a certain babysitting gig where I had to keep track of the kids’ poops on a chart. There were two of them (kids, that is), and a correspondingly healthy number of poops.

That, and a few other instances of dealing with what we now call ‘helicopter parenting’ put me off hovering. But I have to admit in all honesty that I was never destined to be one of those let’s-bake-a-zillion-cookies-and-then-whip-up-some-papier-mache-heads kind of moms.

The Dude (thank you!) was happy to handle Playground Duty. When the Child would say ‘Run, Mommy, run!’, I was apt to reply ‘Mommies don’t run; babysitters run’. And when well-meaning adults would exclaim Continue reading