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How to stop drinking Dr Pepper
in five days

Day 1

Announce to your 6-year-old child and husband that you are finally going to kick your crack habit. Ask for their loving, non-enabling support. Tell them, with their help, your body will be pure once again! Tell them this isn’t like those 13 other times you’ve tried to quit. And tell them you are way stronger now — and not to think of that unfortunate time back in 2010. Post to Facebook and graciously accept sincere congratulations from friends across the nation. Post to Twitter and get several replies from high fructose corn syrup fanatics.

Day 2 – A.M.

Order a grande, double-shot mocha at Starbucks because you deserve it after not drinking Dr Pepper all day yesterday. And you need the caffeine to ward off the withdrawal headache. This is going to be a good day!

Day 2 – P.M.

Drink a glass of wine (health benefits) for dinner instead of your usual Dr Pepper on ice. Drink another glass of wine to congratulate yourself on being so health-focused. Drink another and decide the evening walk can wait; you’d rather watch HGTV.

Day 3 – A.M.

Try to convince yourself that Honey Green Tea really is just fine. It’s great! Really great. Sip it in gratitude.

Day 3 – P.M.

Beg husband to drive to a neighborhood café and get you a Coke. Not a Dr Pepper because that would be wrong. But just a Coke. You know, to get you through the crisis. Even heroin addicts get help coming off, right? Offer unmentionable favors in return. When he refuses, search the Internet for cheap divorce lawyers.

Day 4 – A.M.

Stop for gas at a convenience store on your way to work. Figure it won’t hurt to have one very small fountain drink of Dr Pepper to ease the developing headache and quiet the shakes. Make plans to hide all evidence of the purchase from husband and son by carefully disposing of receipt and cup. Learn the Dr Pepper dispenser is out of order. Say a curse word so loud people in the store look at you. Take a deep breath. Consider it a sign from the Universe, put down the cup, and walk away. Exhibit pride for your determination to beat high fructose corn syrup at its own evil game. Go through a drive-thru and get a bacon-egg burrito because it is now justified.

Day 4 – Noonish

Experience withdrawal irritation at maximum levels. When a man bumps into you while talking on his cell phone in the kitchen at work and does not even acknowledge the invasion of your personal space, resist the urge to yank the phone from his hand and toss it in the trash bin. Instead, give him a nasty look and walk away. Stare longingly at the Cold Drinks! vending machine on your way back to your desk.

Day 4 – 2 P.M.

Drink a lot of water and announce to your coworkers that you are on Day 5 of the New You. Then realize it is only sadly Day 4. Decide to take a break to get more fancy coffee, which likely has more high fructose corn syrup in it than a Dr Pepper. Argue vehemently with people on Twitter for no good reason about the People’s Choice Awards. Envision them drinking Dr Pepper and hate them even more. Tell them so in 140 characters or less.

Day 4 – 3 P.M.

Sext husband in hopes he will change his mind about buying Dr Pepper at the store. Get no response.

Day 4 – 5 P.M.

Repeat “I will not stop at Sonic. I will not stop at Sonic.” to yourself 20 times while driving home. Fight back road rage during worse-than-usual traffic. Listen to meditation music to soothe your soul, which is going through withdrawal, too. Flip out when there is no wine in the house for dinner. Read If You Give a Dog a Donut to your son at bedtime and begin to think of writing your own book called If You Give Me a Dr Pepper, I’ll Lick Your Face for Free. Hope your mom isn’t reading any blog posts you write about this.

Day 5 – A.M.

Post to Twitter that the first person to bring you a Dr Pepper over Sonic ice wins a million dollars. (Void where prohibited.) Ignore snarky responses. Lie to spouse about the reason you need to run down to the neighborhood café. When he doesn’t fall for it, have a really positive discussion about how you can fight this together. Cross your fingers behind your back when he’s not looking.

Day 5 – Noon

Throw bottled water at spouse when he suggests it for lunch. Then sit down, drink the water, write a post for your blog, and know, for sure, that you’ve really kicked it for good this time. After all, five days is a long time. Eat Bottlecaps candy while writing blog post. Make plans to buy a 12-pack tonight.

— Kathy Lynn Harris

Kathy Lynn Harris has written three children’s books and two novels, Blue Straggler and A Good Kind of Knowing, which just won a national literary award from the National Federation of Press Women.  She also has published hundreds of magazine articles, poetry, short fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in numerous published anthologies. A fourth-generation Texan, she now lives, writes and blogs in the Colorado mountains.

Reflections on the marriage contract

It started when he rented a billboard that said,  ”I love you, Tracy.” My name is not Tracy. He started to refer to me as his current wife though we had married right out of junior high school.

Returning from the office two days late, he explained traffic was particularly hellish that week. I felt so much compassion for him.

When he secretly joined an organization called “Parents without Partners who Pester” and attended an all-male grieving support group at church, I was perplexed.

I asked if anything was bothering him.  He set fire to my dress. I felt powerless and hot.

How can truth hurt or help a relationship if one simply will not talk about it?

Recently, returning from my trip to the market, I found the locks were changed, so I broke the door and my nail to get in.

I found him napping with “an old army buddy” though he had never been in the armed forces himself but he is extremely patriotic. Then I noticed the guest towels had been changed to “him” and “him.” How strange I thought, since I usually do the decorating.

I felt a tad uneasy.

I am pretty sensitive to wedded bliss and the downside of it as well.  I read Bride magazine and watch the show “Trading Louses.”  For those reasons and my volatile upbringing, I say with no modesty at all, I am an expert on the subject.

Obviously, every marriage has its challenges; my own parents threw darts and hot Irish coffee at one another most evenings, but they have been married for 50 years, though not spoken for 26. Thank goodness for Post-it notes.

I simply decided to ride out this little bump in our relationship since he recently suggested we buy a duplex and play Downton Abbey.  He would be an aristocrat and I could live downstairs plucking pheasants, as he knows I love to cook while I would wait for him to ring my chimes. He really is a dear and sexually creative in spite of what my therapist says.

We had reviewed our marriage contract annually. One clause: I wouldn’t bug him when he constantly watched TV football, the slo-mo of football, highlights of football and reruns of football while never moving from the couch even after I sold the couch.

He, in turn, would allow me, in the winter season, to place my icy feet on his backside in bed. There was much more to that part of the agreement, which is much too private and perhaps illegal to reveal as I believe llamas are not supposed to be imported.

I was positive we had worked things out.

The ink dried and I returned to nagging him about his football obsession. He said he could not believe I was even mentioning it since we had just signed that legal document and, yet, there I was still bugging him.

What my sweetie had not realized was that we still had two more days left on the old contract before the revisions.

Men are so naïve. What are you gonna do?

— Jan Marshall

Jan Marshall is the author of her second satirical survival book, Dancin, Schmancin with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What! She’s a columnist, certified clinical hypnotherapist and motivational speaker. This piece, reposted by permission, appears on her blog.

Lying about our age
Ladies, we’ve been doing it all wrong

Remember being a kid and wanting people to think you are older than you are?

“I’m 12.  And a half.”

Don’t forget the half.

As adults, we reach a point when that changes.

Rounding up our age is no longer desirable.

So we lie.

For years I jokingly told my kids I was 29. Mostly jokingly. Well, sort of jokingly.

One day I finally came to the realization that saying I was 29 was essentially telling my kids that I got pregnant when I was 12.

Not exactly the morality message I want to send.

Just why DO we try to hide our true age? Why is it impolite to ask a woman her age?  It’s not like we’ve done something wrong.

“Oh gosh. I can’t believe I aged 365 days this past year.  PLEASE don’t tell anyone!”

I mean, we don’t have a choice. Everyone single person ages a day every single day of their lives. No matter what.  So why does that suddenly become something to disguise?

And anyway, I realized I had it all wrong. Totally wrong!  Why would I want to say I’m younger than I truly am?

Since turning back time is only possible in movies, ultimately don’t we just want to look young for our (real) age?

To feel young for our age?

When I’m saying I’m 29 but am actually 39, people are just going to think,“Dang girl!  You look like crap for 29!

Goal not accomplished.

So listen up ladies!  When you lie about your age, don’t subtract 10 years.  ADD 10!

Then people will say,“Wow!  You look incredible for 49!  What’s your secret??”

Or better yet, just tell the truth.

I’m 44. And a half.

Don’t forget the half.

How old are YOU??

— Angela McKeown

Angela McKeown writes for Momopolize. Don’t ask her about her kids, or she will Momopolize the conversation. Two of Angela’s stories are featured  in Life Well Blogged’s best-selling book Parenting Gag Reels: Hilarious Writes and Wrongs, and her work was included in the ebook Bloggy Moms: Guide to a Better Blog as one of three examples of “fantastic authentic voice” blogs. She was also selected by Circle of Moms as one of three ”Blogs To Watch” for in the 2012 Family Blogs by Moms contest, has been featured by WordPress on its “Freshly Pressed” page and won a trip to New York based on a winning story in a “Housewife Heroes” contest.

TSA Reject

You know you’re over the hill when you can’t even get a pat down from the TSA.

Last weekend, my sweetheart Steve and I stood in the security line at the Oakland airport on our way to Los Angeles to visit his son.  I hadn’t been there in over a year, and I now noticed that they had installed one of those dreaded X-ray machines.

I carefully read all the signs informing passengers that they could choose either:  a) to be radiated by a machine that emits “back scatter,” or b) to submit to a pat down.  I’d  heard awful stories about people getting patted down, but I figured it would involve only a few minutes of humiliation and might even be fun if I got the cute screener guy. Radiation, however, is forever.

“I think I’ll take the pat down,” I said to Steve in a faux perky tone, a smile on my face. Whenever I’m faced with two equally bad options I like to act as if I am in charge, as though I am the one making the decision, not a bunch of thoughtless legislators 3,000 miles away.

“Now you’re scaring me,” he said.

“Well, are you going to let them radiate you?”

“Haven’t decided yet.”

We inched closer and closer to the officer checking our boarding passes and photo ID’s.  After he handed back my documents, I quickly scooted over toward the conveyor belt where the cute guy was sitting and squinting at X-ray pictures of the items cruising through before him.  I grabbed a plastic bin for my shoes, one for my fanny pack and another for my baggie full of makeup, toothpaste and hand sanitizer.

I adopted my most harmless smile and waited for The Handsome Man in Uniform to wave me on.  When he did, I marched up to the woman standing on the other side of the arch and said, “I’d like the pat down, please.”  She stared, silent.  Maybe she didn’t understand.

“You know, instead of the X-ray machine?”

“You don’t have to do that,” she said, finally.  “See that machine over there?”  I glanced to my right.  “That’s where you’d have been sent if they had wanted to look at you further.”

Here’s where all of my perky bravado evaporated, replaced by a helpless confusion which she must have noticed because she turned to another uniformed TSA guard and hollered, “Hey, Cindy, this here woman says she wants a pat down.”  Big Cindy laughed.

In real time this interchange lasted only a few seconds, but in my mind my cheeks had been burning for hours.  Suspended in that awful state of “I-know-I’m- screwing-up-but-don’t-know-how-to-get-out-of-this-alive,” I just smiled.  Well of course, Ma’am, that was just a little joke.  Please don’t shoot me.

As I walked through the archway, I couldn’t help but feel as if I’d been transported back to high school when I was as un-cool as they come, desperately wanting Eugene Stropes, a senior to my sophomore, to like me.  He sat in front of me in Latin class and whenever he would turn around to get an answer from me, my pathetic little heart flipped.  One day, just before class, he whispered to me, “Did you hear the one about the newlyweds who didn’t know the difference between Vaseline and putty?”

“N-no,” I stammered.

“All their windows fell out,” he said, his black eyes on fire.


“Their windows fell out,” he repeated.  “Get it?”

“Oh, now, I . . .  sure,” I lied and nodded.  “Funny.” I think I was 21 before that made any sense.

I met up with Steve on the other side of the arch.

“Did you get the X-ray?” I said as I fetched my belongings from the conveyor belt.

“No,” he said.  “You?”

“They never patted me down,” I whispered behind my hand.

“You sound disappointed.”

“Well, geez, what does a girl have to do to get felt up by a stranger these days?  I mean, if the TSA won’t even pat me down, well . . . ”  I sighed, and threw up my hands.

Time to fatten up my cosmetic surgery fund.

— Rosie Sorenson

Rosie Sorenson is the award-winning author of They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others. In 2007, she won an honorable mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

Feudalee and Bertram

My husband and I love making stuff up. We aren’t quite normal. We repeat this nonsense so often that it becomes a part of our story. Soon, we are not even sure if it is not true.

Take this morning, a perfectly agreeable Saturday morning.  We slept in, a lovely bonus sleep time with no alarm clock. The cat slept between us, and it was just chilly enough to enjoy a crumpled blanket over my face.

From next door, the house my husband calls “The Old Thompson Place,” we heard much noise, and I got out of bed to investigate.  Someone was moving in.

How disrespectful at this hour, the early side of 10 a.m.?  Who moves into a house at such an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning?

There was a colossal U-Haul parked in the driveway next to one of those shipping containers MSNBC pundit Ed Schulz points at in his “Lean Forward” commercial.  Strangers wandered in and out of the house.

My first thought was so unselfish.

“Where will we park our cars next week when our driveway gets resurfaced?”

My heart filled with love and a welcoming grace towards our new neighbors.

My husband — also filled with the spirit of the Welcome Wagon — and I discussed potential rules and regulations for our new neighbors, who dared to wake us up.

How will we share these rules with them?  Perhaps a cake with a note cooked inside, wrapped in foil?  Maybe I’ll wear a tin-foil hat when I deliver the list.

1. No irritating yappy dogs.  Or if they have a dog, it must be mute and able to use a cat box.

2. No children. If they have children, they must be perennially 11 years old and fluent in Suzuki violin, preferably Brahms.  Absolutely no drums or large horns.

3. The new neighbors must provide lawn care on our schedule. The neighbors must never mow more often than every 10 days, and only between 4 and 5 p.m. on Mondays when we are not home.  The prior resident used an extremely large tractor with headlights and mowed night or day, summer, winter or fall.  He once mowed on Christmas Eve.

After we established the rules, my husband suggested that I take over “a nice hot oven meal.”  We both laughed uproariously at that one.  He’s quite the joker!

It was still early, only 11 a.m. now, so we went out for breakfast. Still grumpy from the early awakening, I was a little hostile that morning. As we left home I was yelling at my husband over some real or imagined slight. Trying to make me laugh, he started talking in a strange accent as if he imitated our new neighbors.

“Why, looka there.  She’s yailin at him,” my husband said, pretending he was our new neighbor.

I have no idea why he felt our new neighbors talked like extras from “Deliverance” or just walked out of Harper Lee’s home church in Alabama, but that’s what he said and how he said it.

I decided to play along. Our new neighbors needed names, names we gave them. If we were going to befriend them with a hot oven meal and our foil wrapped note of rules, they needed names.

“Feudalee,” I said, for the wife.  “She was named after her great-grandfather, Confederate General Feudal Lee Brown.”

“Bertram for the man,” my husband said.

We laughed about that as he backed the car out of the garage. Recovering from our laughter, we realized one bitter truth.  We had new neighbors, and they might expect us to speak to them

— Amy McVay Abbott

Amy McVay Abbott is an Indiana journalist whose column “The Raven Lunatic” runs in a dozen newspapers and magazines. This piece is excerpted from her new book, A Piece of Her Mind. She learned about writing essays from her late mother’s collection of Erma books.

My insomniac atheist bisexual
vampire son

So then…he takes a bite of a fresh-baked cookie and says with a sigh, “I’m probably so tired today because I’m an insomniac.”

He’s 11.

I stop scooping dough onto the cookie sheet and look at him with furrowed brow.

“You’re an insomniac? When did that happen?” I ask.

He plops on the kitchen chair and says in a world-weary voice, “Oh, I’ve been an insomniac for years.”

Again, he’s 11.

“Really, Tucker? Because I check on you kids every night before I go to bed — and whenever I go into your room — you’re dead asleep. Even at midnight or 1 or 2 in the morning.”

“Oh, I’m awake when you check on me,” he assures me.

“You’re eyes are closed and you’re snoring.

“So? I can snore when I’m awake. Listen — shjrooor shjrooor.”

“Tucker,” I say. “You are not an insomniac! You sleep fine. What makes you think you are?”

“Well, I was talking to this kid in band class and he was telling me that he has insomnia because he can’t sleep at night and I realized that I have that, too.”

OK, I see.

Several months later…

So then…we’re saying Grace before dinner but Tucker doesn’t join in. I ask him, “What’s up?”

He says, “Oh, I don’t say Grace anymore because I’m an atheist.”

He calmly eats his corn. I seethe.

want to say, “Really Tucker? You’re an atheist? Even though you had a Baptism and Reconciliation and First Holy Communion AND you go to Catholic school? We may not attend Mass on Sundays – and we may not be super religious — but this is a God-loving, Commandments-abiding, Bible-believing family for Christ’s sake, you insufferable little heathen!

But I realize that may not be the best speech to bring him back to the Lord.

So I casually ask when this new development occurred.

“There’s this girl in class who told us that she’s atheist and I realized I am too.”

OK, I see.

“So you think we’re all just here randomly? There’s no God or higher power?” I ask.

“Oh, I believe in God. I just don’t believe in religion,” he says.

“So maybe you’re agnostic?”

He scoops up the rest of his corn with his fork and thumb. “Yeah, OK.”

OK, at least I’ve upgraded him from atheist to agnostic for now. I’ll tackle religion next.

About a year later…

So then…he comes in the kitchen, puts his script on the table, sits down, and says, “I’m pretty sure that I’m bisexual.”


I keep cleaning the counters and ask, “Really? What makes you think that?”

“Well, you know the play this summer at acting class is Cabaret, right? Well, some of the characters are bisexual — and some of the teenagers in the cast were saying at lunch that they’re bisexual. And I realized that I am too.”

OK, I see.

I sit down with him. “Tucker, you know I’ll love you and accept you, no matter what — so if you’re bisexual, then you’re bisexual. But let’s talk about this for a minute. First of all, you haven’t had any sexual experiences yet, so let’s not be so quick to label yourself bisexual, mono-sexual, tri-sexual or multi-sexual, ok? Secondly, do you have romantic feelings for any boys?”

“Oh yeah, lots of boys.”

“Really, like who?” I ask.

“I can’t think of anyone right now,” he says in that same tone of voice he uses to say that he could hit a homerun if he wanted to, but he just doesn’t  feel like it right now.

So I say, “Well, you’ve been pretty open about everyone you’ve ever had a crush on since kindergarten all the way until now — and it’s always been girls.”

So we have a long talk about peer pressure, fitting in with the crowd, making rash pronouncements about identity, etc. It’s a great talk, but I don’t push. I know that this new alleged identity trait will eventually go the same way as his other announcements.

BUT MEANWHILE, I’m thinking to myself, Good Lord, do I have THE most easily influenced child in the world?

At the future frat party, when someone says, “Hey, who wants to down four Tequila shots, then ride this skateboard off the roof into that pool of hot coeds?” – will my son be the kid who thinks, “That sounds like a splendid idea!”?

Yes. Yes, he will.

I can’t believe he is so impressionable.

What’s next?

“I just watched a great episode of Psych — by the way, I’m psychic.”

“This German Chocolate cake is delicious! Those Germans really know how to bake. I’m joining the Nazi Party!”

“I saw that Twilight movie. Great news, Mom, I am IMMORTAL. Also — can we have blood for dinner?”

Let’s hope not — but with my kid…I wouldn’t be surprised!

– Darcy Perdu

Darcy Perdu shares her bodacious blunders, hilarious humiliations and amusing adventures — and asks you to do the same on her blog. Her real-life stories of running a business, wrangling two kids, traveling hither and yon, and navigating relationships will remind you of your own funny experiences — so come share them and read others.  You’ll laugh; you’ll gasp; you’ll chuckle — you might even snort!

Doctor, can you give me a lift?

When I was in my late 40s, I decided to get my breasts lifted. I didn’t want them bigger. Just higher. Back up where the good Lord put them before gravity and age began to coax them closer to my naval than my clavicles.

There’s just something about looking in the mirror every morning to two sad beagle ears attached to your upper torso that screams “National Geographic, the Pictorial Edition.” Not to mention that most of my friends had implants or lifts 10 years earlier, so even women older than me had younger-looking bodies because they were, well, perky, and I looked more like a ’60s love child that hadn’t worn a bra since puberty.

So armed with photos of young starlets and their “up to there” breasts, I made an appointment with a well-recognized plastic surgeon to discuss my options. I entered his plush office, with its thick carpet and quietly cascading waterfall in the corner, where his impossibly perfect receptionist guided me back to the softly lit exam room (for which I would thank God in the next half hour), and she flashed me a bright smile as she instructed me to remove my shirt and bra, and wait for the doctor.

Twenty minutes later, Doc walks in (is it me, or do they all look 12 years old??), introduces himself and, obviously not into foreplay, reaches over and lifts one breast, checking for “bounce.” (Say hello to the point, you arrogant puppy. If they still BOUNCED, I wouldn’t be here), then lets it go, where it promptly slams back down onto my chest like a wrecking ball taking out a high rise. Then he sticks a piece of blue litmus-type paper underneath one, waits several seconds and pulls the paper out to check for skin-on-skin contact, which would show up as “light moisture.” The paper looked like a Bounty Quicker Picker Upper.

By now, my self esteem has fled the building (presumably looking for the closest bar, which was where I was headed as soon as I could find my bra). Then he stuck a large piece of white paper underneath both breasts and TRACED THEM. The final picture looked like two carrots lying on a table. I was so mortified by then, I hardly noticed the up-close-and-personal Polaroids that he took. One for each carrot. Oh. My. God.

When he finally finished his exam, I stammered out that I’d read about a procedure where they could go in from the armpit and pull the ligaments up, which was less invasive and left fewer scars. Without missing a beat, he replied, “That would work if you’d come in 10 years ago. You’re way past that now.” At which point he calmly left the room, with instructions to make an appointment on my way out.

Yeah, no. I scrambled into my clothes and headed home like an old plow horse to the barn. When I explained why I was so upset, Kenny asked, “Why do you even want to do this?? Why don’t you just wear one of those shove-em-up bras?” I explained that that only worked until I took the bra off, then everybody would know what they really looked like.

“Who the hell is EVERYBODY??” he choked out. “How many people are you thinking will be in the room whenever you take your bra off?” Well, after TODAY, I would say nobody. EVER.

I ultimately decided the lift was not for me. My boobs and I would grow old together, and when I die, Kenny knows to bury me in my best sports bra. $85 a pop and virtually guaranteed to hold the sisters in place long enough for friends to sigh, “And she was so young.”

— Vikki Claflin

Oregon writer Vikki Claflin writes the popular humor blog, Laugh Lines. Two recent pieces have been published in “Life Well Blogged, Parenting Gag Reels, Hilarious Writes and Wrongs,” sold through

Greg Schwem

Greg SchwemGreg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad. He writes a weekly nationally syndicated humor column for Tribune Media Services. Many of his columns appear in The Huffington Post.

Reflections of Erma