Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lights! Camera! Inaction.

There’s a street fair near our house on the third Friday night of each month. Of course I never go, because I’m at Danger Room on Friday nights. Except last night I didn’t go to Danger Room and it happened to be fair night.

That’s what my father used to call quite a coinky-dink. Yeah, he was a Marine. Why do you ask?

Jim came over. Jim also was a Marine, but that’s not germane to the story. I leashed Jonah and we all walked into the fray. Haha. Auntie made a semi pun. Fair-fray. Ok, no. Never mind.


Little Jonah was thrilled to bits. Not only were many other dogs there for him to sniff and then ignore, but people dropped bits of food. Most of the bits were snatched by the other (read: younger) dogs, but he got a bite of Jim’s bratwurst so he was happy.

He was also very popular. Two of the pretty 20ish girls who stopped to pet him were surrounded by lighting, sound and camera guys. Jonah was spooked (he was wearing the same amount of makeup that I was, but he’s a dog. He still looked fabulous.) The girls moved on after a very brief interchange.

That’s when the harried assistant shoved a release form in my face. It seems they were filming some kind of reality show.

See previous about no makeup and not looking fabulous. I declined to sign.

Apparently that’s never happened before. She immediately got on the phone to tell someone that “the woman with the dog refused to sign!” I was waiting for Jim, so I watched everybody else who was anywhere nearby sign their own forms, and then get their pictures taken holding their releases next to their faces.

This is where Auntie should get all wise and write a scathing (but humorous) commentary about our media-obsessed culture. Can we please just pretend that I did and that you were suitably impressed? Phew. Thanks, honey. I owe you cookies.

No, I never found out what show it was. If you see a middle-aged woman in jeans and an oversized hoodie with a pixilated face wrangling a fluffy little caramel beast, that’s probably your cranky Auntie. Be kind.

If you want to, you can friend Jonah on Facebook. He’s Jonah D. Mann. Yes, because he’s da man and that’s no coinky-dink.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Brand New Ask Auntie (!)

Woohoo! We’re live, folks. Auntie got a new letter:

Dear Aunt Scarycookies,

My best friend is a bitch. That sounds really bad, but I figured out that it’s true because she always does really bitchy things when we go out and I get so mad at her and at me because I don’t do anthing (sic) to stop it from happening. I don’t have a lot of friends but it seems like I ought to break up with her or something.

What do I do the next time she yells at the waiter for not doing something she never asked him for? Does it matter that she only does this to the hot guys or ugly girls?

Wondering Wallflower

Dear Wondering,

You do have a problem here, sweetie, and Auntie sympathizes. Nobody likes to sit and cringe while their dining companion goes all WWE on the server.

Realistically, you’re not going to be able to reason with anybody who makes a habit of yelling whenever she’s dissatisfied.

Personally, I’d grab my phone and start Vine-ing the next time she goes gaga, with a cute caption, like “Patsy’s waiter is having a bad day haha!”

But you said she’s your best friend, and that ought to mean something.

Try meeting her for coffee instead of a meal. I spend enough time in Starbucks to know that however bad she is, baristas have seen worse.

Besides, once you both have your beverages and snacks, you’ll be on your own. Let’s just hope that without another target, she doesn’t start to yell at you. If she does, then yes, it’s break-up time and you have Auntie’s condolences for your loss.

Who knows? You might even meet a new friend while you’re in Starbucks.

Send your questions to and for other restaurant-related Ask Auntie letters see the following:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Midnight Callers

I’m what used to be called a “night owl” because I stay up later than I should at night. I come by it honestly. My mother doesn’t sleep at night either. Maybe it’s genetic. Then again, maybe it’s not, because my father was a morning person. I used to say it’s a miracle I was ever born, but Robert is a morning person so I’ve since figured out how that works, but never mind.


This is only sort of about night-owlism and really about the days when phones had cords that attached them to the wall and us to them.

Because of the whole night-owl thing, whenever someone I knew ended up awake in the wee hours -- even if it was someone I didn’t know well or just not well enough for them to call me mid-afternoon, let alone late at night -- I’d get a call.

The drunken ones have their own category. You know what I mean. Like the stuffy conservative guy who after ten years of acquaintanceship suddenly (but unsurprisingly) insisted I refer to him by a female pronoun, or the girl who had tried to seduce my then-boyfriend but was horrified when he hit on her after we broke up and she wanted to complain to me about it. There were many, many others.

In tequila veritas and all that.

Back in ye olden times, I couldn’t wander around and do other stuff while they ranted. The phone was on a cord. Even if it was a (relatively) long cord, I had to sit there or hang up.

Guess what! People who are so drunk that they aren’t in control of what they’re saying will still remember if you hustle them off the phone. I learned that the hard way.

However, sometimes the calls were real. Friends or acquaintances needed to talk and they knew I probably would. Much bonding occurred in those reckless hours when all filters are gone. Yes, even if no one had been drinking anything stronger than Tab™.

Auntie drank a lot of Tab™, but I doubt I’d’ve slept much anyhow.

I’ll let you morning people in on a secret: there’s a kind of magic that happens late at night. Things become more real. Clarity appears when traffic dies down and nobody else is moving around.

You know, like right now.

Don’t be fooled by the time stamp whenever I actually post this. I’m typing to you hours after a sensible person would be tucked away all warm and nighty-night.

Also, I’m doing it as chained to my desk as I used to be to those old rotary-dial phones. Auntie doesn’t use a laptop or a tablet. (Try not to look surprised.) I like my desktop computer with the nice big monitor that I can see without glasses.

In the old days, after the late night confessionals, when I’d run into those people with whom I’d bonded, things would jump one of two ways: the connection would either stick, or it wouldn’t. Sometimes they would regret their midnight vulnerability, or be embarrassed by it.

And that’s why, no matter how much I write with the exhilarating freedom of darkness, I always edit in unforgiving daylight.

Nighty-night now.

Friday, October 18, 2013

If Guts Could Talk

My mother has a saying, “If in doubt, don’t.” It’s a very good saying.

The whole concept of trusting your gut has a history in American culture, one that reached its heyday in gritty noir fiction with noble taciturn detectives who can somehow sense the truth amidst a seedy morass of narratively complicated lies.

Oh, and on NCIS. There too.

While it’s a very good saying, it’s not always a good idea.

Sometimes our guts tell us things we only want to be true in the exact same tone that they use for real instinct. If guts could speak. It’s a metaphor, dammit. Come on.

Work with me here.

Of course Auntie was just misled by her gut, otherwise this post would be about something completely different. I ran with what I wanted to be true. It wasn’t. The damage control is done, so now I can focus on helping all you darlings avoid my mistakes.

Auntie spends a lot of time trying to help you avoid my mistakes, though apparently not the grammatical ones.


Where were we? Oh yeah. Instinct.

If you’ve been paying attention to whatever is going on around you, your subconscious will do the algebra of applying your values and (possibly variable) inclinations to your immediate and long-term goals and give you a nudge toward how you should act. We call that instinct, when we think about it at all.

As a system, it has its ups and downs.

We tend to jump faster toward what we want to than what we ought to, no matter how loudly our better natures shout at us not to get fries with that.

Which pedal do you hit on a yellow light? That’s usually determined by instinct.

When you’re having a conversation and you need to respond, do you make a joke or take it seriously? It all depends.

I guess it always all depends.

Like right now my instinct is to make an adult-diaper joke. But I doubt I could make a new one. “If in doubt, don’t.”

Trusting my gut this time, so I won’t.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Can You Keep A Secret?

Did I ever tell you I went to massage school? It was in 1992. I learned quite a bit about anatomy and kinesthetics. Arguably more importantly -- but definitely more unexpectedly -- I learned how to keep a secret.

Let me back up. I was doing Kung Fu at the time. The Sifu used to make everyone learn healing arts commensurate with our newfound ability to do damage. (Harmony, balance, blah blah etc)

It’s a measure of how much I sucked at Kung Fu that massage school was considered sufficient.

Anyhow, I went. The physiology was real, and difficult. I memorized the Latin names of almost every muscle, learned origin and attachment points and generally gave myself the basis for becoming a kick-ass bodybuilding trainer, which of course wasn’t why I was there. But I digress.

This is about secrets.

In massage school, every class started with all 30 of us standing in a circle. We held hands. We said Om.


What sucked worse was when the hippie-dippy one of the three instructors would have us go around the circle and Share. Sure, she was a New Age acolyte, but she was also a demon bitch on wheels to anyone who hadn’t drunk the organic agave-sweetened Kool-Aid™.

Auntie doesn’t do Kool-Aid™. And despite all evidence to the contrary, Auntie doesn’t Share.

However, in all fairness, I had committed to the program. I had to speak when it was my turn, and do it in good faith with genuine sincerity. Anything less would have been both disingenuous and hypocritical.

Over the months of the class, I learned how to keep my secrets when all around me were losing theirs. It hasn’t been quite as useful as all the physiology, but it’s still a good skill to have.

How, you ask? Simple.

All I had to do was respond to whatever one of the previous students had shared. Since they were throwing some serious trauma and emotion around, there was a smorgasbord from which to choose. I could commiserate, or offer validation or support. I used my minutes to say anything that seemed appropriate – about one of them.

No, that wasn’t hypocritical. The whole point to the Sharing was to speak truth to the room. I did that. I just chose my truth, and kept my secrets.

Well, I kept them until the Internet came around and I started to blog.

Would anyone like to try some of my ironic karma-sweetened Kool-Aid™?


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jung & The Restless

The important thing is that Jonah was fine.

See, I’d already battled the demon horde in the Ralph’s (known on the east coast as Kroger’s) parking lot, rescued my dog and substituted a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig for the sacrifice that presaged the End of All Existence.

Before you pot-bellied pig supporters get all up in my face, you should know that this was a dream I had last night.

Yeah, the demon horde in the supermarket parking lot was a bit of a giveaway, but I just got back from the actual Ralph’s, and my subconscious wasn’t too far off, so I figured I ought to spell it out.

D.r.e.a.m. Haha! I cracked myself up again.

Wait! Don’t go. That’s not the weird part or the funny part. The weird part is what makes this a story.

So in the dream I was up til sunrise battling the forces of evil and suddenly I was home, looking out my open front door. (Jonah was asleep on the couch. Being rescued is apparently as tiring as barking at the mailcarrier.)

A man in a gorilla costume but without the gorilla head was walking down the sidewalk leading two cows on a rope. That’s still not the weird part.

The weird part is that he was also playing the banjo and it sounded ethereally beautiful.

In my dream, a banjo sounded not just beautiful, but ethereally beautiful.

I told you it was weird.

It went on, but nothing hit that level of strangeness so I’ll spare you the rest.

Wait! I promised you a funny part, so I will tell you one more bit. After I shouted “Good morning!” at the cow-leading gorilla-suit wearing banjo player, he looked at me like I was the crazy one.


It’s a good thing I don’t believe in dream interpretation or I’d grab a Ouija board and call C.G. Jung.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mirror, Mirror On The Blog

Feedback is good. I like feedback. I should say: I like it up to a point.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about all that psychobabble mirroring feedback where you imitate the phrasing or physical gestures of the person across from you. That kind of thing irritates the hell out of me when I notice it. It’s probably irritating the rest of the time too. I just don’t realize that’s why I’m irritated.

Of course I mean the good kind of feedback, the “uh huh” kind, wherein you or I acknowledge what the other one is saying. I like that, and if you’re honest, you’ll say you like it too. It’s better than most of the alternatives.

That said, feedback recently messed up this blog.

It’s been ten days since my last post.

“Ten days isn’t that long in the blogosphere” I was just told. While I’m happy to stipulate that, Auntie doesn’t go for ten days without posting, not without a good reason.

Feedback is not a good reason.

A few of you have been kind enough to give real life feedback. By voice. To my face. You’ve not only said that you read Scarycookies, but you’ve cited enough that I know you really have. Uh oh.

Now the pressure is on.

As honored as I am, it’s both humbling and intimidating. You’ve proven that whatever I say isn’t just being scrolled over by faceless servers in Latvia. (A dozen in Latvia and four in Poland, thank you metrics.)

A couple of people (ironically not the ones who said they read this) have told me they want to start blogging, because they have something to say to the World. My advice was to write for themselves. I think of a blog like those little vinyl-covered diaries with the broken locks I used to get as a tween.

Aside from the fact that this is more legible, the point is valid. It’s a truism that nobody reads blogs anymore. Or it was.

Now I know some of you do.

Now I want to be sure whatever I say is, if not significant, at least entertaining.

Strike that. Reverse it.

Worse, I find myself wanting to do the digital equivalent of checking my fly.