Halloween – Takin’ Care of Business

The arrival of Halloween signifies the formation of a temporary division within our family’s corporate structure – the Department of Candy Management and Distribution (DCMD for short).  I am the Executive Project Manager.  I work closely with my team of professionals to develop a strategic plan for the timely and effective distribution and reduction of seasonal candy acquisitions. The stakes are high; the family’s dental health hangs in the balance.

When I started in this position, my favored approach as the DCMD manager was to assume the role of the Candy Cop.  The Candy Cop rations candy to the team – one piece at a time, after meals and for quality job performances. As I gained valuable experience, I concluded that the job of Candy Cop was bunk.  All the whining, pleading and phony promises from the team led to disunity and strife.  To restore order, The Candy Cop was forced to cut off distribution, which in turn led to more whining, pleading and phony promises. The arrival of Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter (the Motherlode of Chocolate) reduced the Candy Cop’s effectiveness and increased the candy inventory resulting in even more whining, pleading and phony promises.  The temporary assignment morphed to a permanent, year-long position with hazardous job conditions. Not only was the Candy Cop crabby and irritable, but she was in grave danger of losing her girlish figure due to the hypnotically enticing aroma emitting from plastic Halloween buckets. It was often impossible to resist, especially during the day while the team was away at school.  Just ask the dog.

The team hard at work in the boardroom

Instead, as an experienced DCMD manager, I adopted a superior approach to the inventory reduction problem – the Feeding Frenzy. To speed up the process and reduce my numbers, I give the team (crazy-eyed sugar fiends) permission to eat all they want for one night only. Of course, I first take my cut. Almond Joys? Mine. Snickers Dark? Straight to the pocket. MilkyWay Midnights? Come to Mommy. After that, the team is free to cram any amount of candy into their gooey little mouths in the allotted amount of time.  All sorting, counting, and trading is permitted as I recline by the fire, sipping a hot beverage and enjoying the perks of management.

When bedtime arrives, it’s over.  The team stumbles off to the showers with instructions to brush their teeth and eat a Tums.  I sweep the up the remaining inventory, depositing all rejects and wrappers in permanent removal receptacles. I return to the couch. Another successful year with the DCMD. Belly aches are a small price to pay this kind of job satisfaction.

I Birthed a Redneck

Maybe he’s not mine.  Yeah, I remember the delivery room, but maybe he was switched in the nursery for one of those hardy, Minnesota babies – it’s probably just a coincidence that he looks just like my husband.

At least once or twice a month, I realize I live in the wrong state.  It’s hunting season right now in Minnesota and everywhere there are guys, wearing camo, driving camo-painted trucks, scanning the horizon for something to shoot.   Soon, I will see dead deer in the back of pick up trucks at the grocery store. This week, there will be photos of camo-clad guys hoisting dead birds on the sports page of the local paper.

I grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco.  My people drink wine, eat fine European cheeses and grill vegetables.  In college, I majored in Beach and Boys and purposely selected a guy who enjoys the finer things of life. We like restaurants, nice hotels and wine on the patio on a summer evening.  In the Fall we switch to red wine and enjoy the turning of the leaves. Somehow, Junior slapping a dead goose on my kitchen counter does not fit with this picture.

I’ve lived here for 20 years and have learned that Minnesotans are a different breed – closer to the earth.  They love their cabins. Garrison Keiler said the woman are strong here in Lake Wobegon and he’s right.  I have friends, fine hardy women, who sit all day in deer stands, waiting for Bambi to stroll by so they can blow him away.   Walleye (a fish with big popping eyes) opener (the day the onslaught begins) is on Mother’s Day.  Every year the lakes (we have 10,000 of them) are actually packed full of men and women, trolling, casting, jigging, bobbing – whatever they do, ignoring their mothers.  I occasionally eat what they pull out of their live wells (the holes in their boats where they stash their fish)  I like lakefood, as opposed to seafood, which actually comes from the sea. They don’t appreciate my distinction.  While we’re on the subject of food, many freezers here are filled with mystery venison products, which they try to pawn off each year to make room for “this year’s deer.”  Each Fall, they recirculate a popular lie that if you put venison in a stew you won’t be able to tell that it is disgusting deer meat. I fell for it, once.

Unlike my California brethren, many Minnesotans grew up on farms. Some of our family’s friends invited us to spend the weekend at Grandma’s dairy farm.  To educate the California city slickers, they brought us to the milking parlor.  Don’t be fooled – this place should NOT be called a parlor.  We were herded into a lowered-trough between two rows of stalls. We stood there, unsuspecting, as a farmer backed up some huge cows into the stalls above us.  He then proceeded to hook up some steel cylinders to teats on obscenely huge, veiny udders.  My boys started snickering.  It was then that one of the cows exploded from the back end. We stood horrified as manure sprayed everywhere. The cylinder guy didn’t bat an eye; just kept on working.  The kids started screaming. Covering our noses and mouths, John and I dragged our gagging, crying offspring to the safety of the farm yard. Lesson learned – just drink milk, don’t ask where it comes from.

Up until now, I’ve been able to keep my California identity firmly intact. We live here but have not assimilated to the culture.  But now, MY husband is considering buying MY son a shot gun when he turns eighteen.  MY husband is entertaining the prospect of taking a shooting class. Country Music is blaring from sound systems in MY house.  They are having giddy conversations about good hunting spots and tags that they plan to affix to their kills. What’s next, ammo on the grocery list?

Bravely, as only a California Girl can do, I will fight this detestable turn of events. I will not succumb to this sad downfall.  I will not pluck a duck or any other sort of fowl.  My walls will remain antler-free.  Wine glass in hand, I will chop herbs and prepare meat from clean packages complete with freshness dates.

Attention Family:

Blaze orange is NOT an attractive accent color.