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Stink avoidance, cookie acquisition and other survival skills

Kathryn LeehaneAs the youngest of six kids, I was farted on a lot. At least once a week, one of my brothers would sit on my head and let one rip. Eventually, I learned to recognize the warning signs — the glint in their eyes, the snickers, the less-than-stealthy movements — and I’d scramble behind the couch before a stinky butt made contact with my face.

As you might imagine, growing up in a large family taught me a variety of survival skills. Both of our parents worked, and from 3 p.m. to 6  p.m., the house turned into an after-school-special version of Lord of the Flies. Allegiances formed and reformed, depending on the day’s battle. Duplicity and creativity were crucial in order to persevere.

I developed hiding strategies and evasive maneuvers, in addition to gas-avoidance tactics. While I was not the fastest or the strongest, I was the smallest so I could hide just about anywhere and devour the best snacks. If I wasn’t hungry, I would stash the food for later. It took expertise to effectively conceal the nacho-cheese chips. My favorite food-hiding spot was the bathroom cabinet, behind the toilet paper that nobody ever put on the roll. To think my evil plans would have been foiled with just one ounce of responsibility.

Our bathroom wars were not isolated to food and toilet paper. With eight people vying for the toilet, I was forced to pee in the sink on more than one occasion, though I figured this made me a problem solver. That tendency towards flexibility benefited me in other areas as well. There was only one coveted frozen pizza left? No problem, I’d eat it for breakfast before anyone else got their paws on it.

But life wasn’t all theft and deception. I learned the power of teamwork. With a partner, one of us could act as lookout while the other stole enough cookies for the both of us. We’d toast our victory with milk, never once considering the release our personal gas supply as a weapon.

Now that I’m older and have children of my own, I’m grateful for these life lessons forged from strife and sibling rivalry. Especially when I hide in the closet eating dessert for breakfast.

One time the entire family walked in on me, brownies in my hand, my chin covered in chocolate crumbs. I channeled my best-actress skills and said, “Oh hey. Would you like some protein bars with spinach and tofu? They’re delicious.”

Both kids turned away in disgust, and my husband gave me a conspiratorial wink. Thank goodness he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut. He must have been afraid I’d fart on his head.

— Kathryn Leehane

Kathryn Leehane is a writer and humorist living in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two children and a ferociously snuggly pit bull. Along with inhaling books, bacon and Pinot Noir, she writes the humor blog, Foxy Wine Pocket, where she shares twisted stories about her life as a mother, wife, friend and wine-drinker in suburbia. She is a contributing author to several anthologies, and her essays have also been featured on Redbook Magazine, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and more. You can follow Foxy Wine Pocket on Facebook and Twitter.

I’m still not sure why he married me

Kathryn LeehaneIn retrospect, all the warning signs were there that my husband never should have married me. He just didn’t heed them. Some days I question his judgment. Other days I’m just grateful that he was either blind or really horny in his early twenties.

Here’s what he overlooked:

• He witnessed me verbally assault a mutual friend who dared to eat one of my French fries at a restaurant. Our poor friend cowered in the booth as the rest of the patrons stared in wide-eyed horror.

• The first time I went to his parents’ house, his mom offered me bacon. Not cooked bacon, mind you. She had bought extra bacon at the store (it was on sale), and she offered me a package of uncooked bacon to take home. While this may seem slightly odd, the odder part of the story is that I DIDN’T TAKE THE BACON.

• Early in our dating history, I challenged him to a drinking contest. He had a good nine inches and 75 pounds on me, but I thought it was a good idea. Turned out that it wasn’t. I lost the contest. And then lost the contents of my stomach and my dignity in the bar bathroom.

So we’ve established that I am was am was selfish, foolish and arrogant. But he looked past those traits. Perhaps the most GLARING RED FLAG was waving the first time he made dinner for me.

At the time, I was in my early twenties and no culinary connoisseur. I was fairly adventurous, though, and he wanted to show me the world of sushi. He wanted to expand my horizons and open up my eyes to new cuisine. (You know he totally wanted to get lucky.)

Because he knew I had never tried sushi before, he opted to make California Rolls, the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich of the sushi world.

He went shopping at the nicest grocery store in town. He brought his own sushi rolling mat and other cooking supplies. He served me wine and put on music while he carefully made the seasoned rice and lovingly prepared all of the other ingredients.

And then he served me the most beautiful sushi I had ever seen (I had never seen sushi) and showed me how to dip and eat the pieces. I was gushing and smiling and tingling the entire time. Until I put that piece of sushi in my mouth and bit down.

I don’t know if it was the texture of the nori or the tang of the vinegar in the rice or the foreign combination of foods on my unrefined palate (I like sushi just fine now), but I couldn’t keep chewing. I bit down, and my mouth froze — as though I had bitten down on a piece of excrement. I fought back my gag reflex and tried my best to smile at this fabulous man.

“Well?” he asked expectantly. “What do you think? Do you love it?”

Here was this handsome guy in my kitchen trying so hard to impress me, and all I could think was, “There is NO WAY I can choke this sh*t down.”

So I didn’t. I bolted out of my chair, ran to my bathroom and spit his beautiful sushi creation RIGHT INTO THE TOILET.

I unceremoniously flushed it down, rinsed out my mouth, and walked back to the kitchen.

And then he ordered a pizza and married me anyways.

— Kathryn Leehane

Kathryn Leehane is a writer and humorist living in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and two children. Along with inhaling books, bacon and pinot noir, she writes the humor blog, Foxy Wine Pocket, where she shares twisted stories about her life as a mother, wife, friend and wine drinker in suburbia. She is a contributing author to several anthologies, and her essays have also been featured on BLUNTmoms, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and more. You can follow Foxy Wine Pocket on Facebook and Twitter.

Reflections of Erma