The mother of all dilemmas.

I got a check in the mail yesterday for $2,000-some dollars. Made out to me. Holy shit, right? I was running up and down the hallway, waving my hands just like those ninnies on “The Price Is Right.” If all I had to do to cash that check was hop around on stage without a bra and rub up and down Bob Barker a few times, I would gladly do it. But it’s not that simple.

This check was sent to me, in my name, because my mother recently cashed out my life insurance policy. She had taken it out on me when I turned 18. Since I now have my own life insurance, there is no longer a need for it.

Technically, this money is unequivocally hers. But from a karma standpoint, she doesn’t DESERVE this money — and anyone who knows my mother would agree with this statement. Let me present the evidence:

  • She spends about $500 a month on clothes alone (she recently went four whole weeks without having to do a single load of laundry).
  • When she comes to visit, she doesn’t bring so much as a ball of lint for untitledson.
  • When she does buy the occasional outfit for untitledson, it is usually from the dollar store (not the luxury department stores she shops when buying for herself).
  • She rarely offers to pay for lunch when we’re together, and has even stiffed me a few times.
  • When I asked Mom if she would be interested in contributing to untitledson’s college fund, she said “no, that’s ok” (keep in mind she always told me the reason she didn’t pay for any of my college was that she never had the money).
  • When her granddaughter (my niece) was in the NICU for three months after birth and my brother and his wife were experiencing severe financial difficulties as a result, my mom told them all she could afford to give them was $50. (another relative — one who has always given my mother money when she needed it — generously stepped in to help them out)

This last incident disturbed me greatly. I am my father’s daughter (he was pretty giving), and I know he’d be turning in his grave over this one. The reason she has the money in the first place is because of his death. But it seems the more she has, the stingier she is. I mean, I would eat ramen noodles every day for lunch to be able to pay for art lessons for untitledson. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than giving to him. For most mothers and fathers, that’s the way it is.

So back to the dilemma — should I play karmic police and withhold the check? Should I cash it myself, perhaps put it in untitledson’s college fund? I’m almost positive she would never find out. In your heart of hearts, what would YOU do? Don’t tell me what you say you’d do — tell me what you’d really do. If you need further evidence to make your decision, click here and here.

The definition of bravado.

Went out to lunch with co-workers Friday. On the way there, I saw a white Geo Prizm, at least 10 years old, with SPINNERS. This thing was stopped at a light, and the rims were a-blazin’. In the driver’s seat was a 20-something white male, his seat jacked all the way back. He pretty much needed a yardstick duct-taped to the steering wheel in order to make a 90-degree turn. But I guess he wanted to be prepared in case he needed to unleash the Courvoisier stashed in the Little Playmate in the backseat.

I imagine the conversation this guy had with himself at Auto Zone when he was making his purchasing decision. “If I put the spins on, my ride will be pimped, fo shizzle. But daaaamn. They cost more than my car! It’ll take me, like, three months to make this kind of coin at Long John Silvers. But no doubt, I am a playa. True dat. Because this is how we roll, homies. This is how we roll.”

I have got to get myself a camera phone for these Kodak moments. I will regret this for the rest of my life, not capturing this for y’all.

Golden child.

I admit it. I go to the tanning bed. Not all the time, mind you. Just 15 minutes, once a week. I’m not there to get all George Hamilton on your ass. I’m just there to keep my acne at bay, and to put a wash of color over my pasty Nordic skin. You know you’ve spent a few too many weekends in front of a glowing computer screen when your perfect shade of foundation is called “Kabuki.”

Before I started tanning, I was all self-conscious about it. I thought I’d be a pariah in there, rifling through the Cosmos in search of the sole copy of Good Housekeeping, waiting until bed 14 opened up. But as it turns out, all you muthafuckas out there are tanning. How come you never said anything! Jeez.

Your co-worker who comes in on Monday with rosy cheeks and impossibly tan forearms? Tanning bed. The guy who says he golfed all weekend? Fake bake. The admin who claims she has naturally golden skin (along with naturally platinum blonde hair)? UVB whore. Look for the telltale “reverse racoon” — white circles around the eyes, while everything else is dark. It’s a dead giveaway.

I mean, rarely do I see a 20-something hardbody there. It’s all these geriatrics, like me. What a mindfuck! I can’t tell you how many times I’d see these other people, all bronzed out, and wonder what they hell they were doing all weekend while I was getting down with the Scrubbing Bubbles. Surely, they must be laying in the sun somewhere, soaking up rays and margaritas all weekend.

Well, now I, too, am part of the golden sorority. Our mascot — an lifesized bottle of tanning accellerator wearing purple eye goggles (strapless, of course). Whenever he enters a room, the song “Kokomo” starts playing and coconut-scented air freshener jizzes out his cap. So do I break the code of silence? Hell no. People, I am too busy lying in the sun all day. Starting a revolution, that would be, like, too Che Guevara for a woman of leisure like myself.

Enter the Peacemaker.

Our dog, he hasn’t been the same since we got the wireless fence. And we couldn’t be happier. Electricity. It’s a bitch.

Every now and then, he’ll be laying there, baking in the sun or smelling up the tower of pillows he has clawed down from their orderly placement from atop the couch. His collar (or the Peacemaker, as I like to call it) will randomly beep for no reason, as if he has stepped outside the permissible zone. He bolts up, looking around the room for an escape hatch. Oh, how we love to see him in that desparate state, as he scampers around, looking to outrun the inevitable zap (which never does come). He’s not getting shocked, mind you — just beeped.

Before you call PETA, you must understand the repugnant shit this dog has put us through. We have earned the little pleasure that we receive in watching him scramble. All those times spent hunched over a pee stain or a crusty old vomit stain in the guest bedroom, mopping it up as if we were his goddamnable hired help, I think he owes us a little entertainment. And let’s not forget the wretched tampon-eating incident. Since he’s incapable of performing a pom-pom dance to “Holla Back Girl” or throwing even the crudest of shadow puppets on the wall, this is the form his payback will have to take. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and stepped on a dog turd halfway there, I know you hear me on this one.

Urban camo.

If you saw me in the grocery store, you’d never know that I’m the salty voice of UntitledLife. I’d be standing in line with a cart full of diapers, frozen meals, milk, and tampons, trying to chat up the cashier so she wouldn’t notice that my $2 off Pampers Cruisers coupon is expired. I’d pick the longest line, so I could speed-read the gossip rags for free. At least one of the boxes of ready-to-eat food in my cart would already be opened, if not completely eaten (animal crackers, anyone?). Looking for distraction, I’d pick up a package of Slim Jims. Pushing the mystery meat from side to side within its slimey cocoon, I’d hypothesize what on god’s earth they’d injected the meat with to keep it from rotting. I’d peruse the new seasonal Bic lighter designs. “Hmmm, cherubs. How appropriate.”

My look would be painfully pedestrian. A stain on my shirt and god-knows-what on my glasses. Women like me, we don’t look good in anything too terribly hip. Lane Bryant might try to convince us thicker gals that yes, you CAN wear a halter top, thong, and low-rise jeans to the grocery store. But thankfully, I know better. I imagine some day, my son will look at me and be embarassed around his friends. “Gee, Mom. Why can’t you dress like so-and-so’s mom?” “Because I broke the acrylic slides on the stripper pole and my pasties are at the dry cleaners.” An old creative director of mine once said, “Forget about the Bauhaus nerds in the black turtlenecks and the little glasses. The best writers are the ones wearing polo shirts and jeans. They are the ones you’d least suspect.” For my sake, I hope he’s right.