Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wacky Wednesday Writers: Guest Post by Nicole Chardenet

     Today is a special day on Menopausal Mother. This is the start of a my new series, Wacky Wednesday Writers, where each week I will feature a new guest blogger.  First one out of the gate today is Nicole Chardenet, author of two novels, Sumer' Lovin and Young Republican, Yuppie
Princess. She is also the author of the humorous and often thought-provoking blog, Tongue Of Dog's Breakfast, which can be found at:
     Nicole is one of the very first bloggers I met when I dipped my toes into the blogosphere two years ago. I was immediately drawn to her sharp wit and wacky sense of humor, and we have been bloggy buddies ever since. She has always been incredibly kind and supportive of Meno Mama, and it is an honor to be able to feature her here today.
     Please welcome my dear friend Nicole and show her some comment love after you read her humorous post!

3-D Gil: Laughing Through The Tears

“Hey, will you look at that! It's Three Desserts Gil!”
“Hey! 3-D Gil! How's the afterlife treatin' ya?”
My father stops and rolls his eyes. 
“Hey! Pete! Over here! Lookit who's joined us!”
“I'm going to KILL my family,” Dad grumbles.
“You can't,” laughs St. Michael. “You just died!”
“Then I'm going to haunt them for the rest of their lives!”
“No can do, Big G. You didn't believe in the afterlife, so you don't get to go downstairs and pull the Big Boo on them.”
Dad sighs. “What can I do, then?” he asks. “They've hung me with this embarrassing nickname for the rest of my life!”
“Afterlife,” St. Peter snickers. “Tell you what, we can offer a consolation prize. When each of your family members comes to join us, we'll let you meet them at the Pearly Gates and give them all kinds of crap.”
Dad brightens up.

“Three Desserts Gil.”

Dad had a massive heart attack hours after doing what he loved best - eating. He'd downed a large plate of shrimp scampi and washed it down with three, count 'em, THREE desserts. Mom was furious, between the tears, on that dreaded middle-of-the-night phone call.

I was en route as soon as Avis opened. I'm a Toronto townie with a license but no car. So on an hour and a half of sleep, a double-shot espresso from Tim Horton's and a lot of really loud rock music, I blasted down to Michigan to deal with my father's sudden death - a week before Christmas.

"My first Christmas"

The first day or so my brother, my mother and I were in shock. It wasn't perhaps the biggest surprise, we'd had some earlier warning Dad had heart trouble, and he had lived a long and happy life. He'd also been a chow hound. He came from a French family where if it doesn't move fast enough they'll eat it. Don't ask us what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Then, the pastor came over for the bereavement visit.

“Tell me what your father was like,” he said to us as we sat in the living room.

And we started telling stories. Funny stories. Because my dad was a funny guy, not laugh-out-loud funny like Robin Williams or Chris Rock, but understated and straight-man funny. He had a great sense of humor, just like everyone in our nutty family. For example:

My mother entered the kitchen half-asleep and uncaffeinated one summer morning in 1991. Dad was at the table, dressed for work, finishing his breakfast as he watched the news. He looked up and with his solemn brown eyes and a voice laden with doom he said, “Something terrible has happened!”

"Dad like all other father's in America"

Mom stopped in her tracks. What was it? Some horrible natural disaster? Did someone assassinate the President? Had war been declared?

“Somebody hugged the Queen!!!”

My mother sagged with relief. “Gil Chardenet, you bum! I'm going to kill you! Then I'm going to divorce you! I thought it was something SERIOUS!”

Queen Elizabeth was visiting the States, and an overeager American, unaware of exceedingly strict British protocol - hugged the Queen!

This meant the British press wanted to declare war immediately on the U.S., although cooler heads prevailed when reminded that the Revolution thing hadn't gone too well back in the day and now the bloody ex-colonials had nukes.

So we told the pastor about the Queen. And Dad's work on the space program. How this prime engineer fashioned a killer lamp that destroyed my computer monitor. His hijinks in the Merchant Marines. Then my brother said, “He really liked limericks! Want to hear some?”

And I screamed, “No, not the limericks! You can't tell the pastor Dad's limericks!”

But my brother did anyway - fortunately, the ones least likely to damn his soul to everlasting hellfire for corrupting a Man of God - and to my immense relief the pastor laughed loudly, genuinely, and we were all laughing, rocking the paint off the walls.

I said, “Everyone who can hear us is going to wonder what the hell is going on! 'Didn't they just lose their husband and father? Why are they laughing so much?'”


That just sent us into more gales of laughter. And for the rest of the week, between the tears, we laughed about Three Desserts Gil, who died the way any Frenchman would want to die - with a full belly. And three desserts! Did I mention he'd had THREE DESSERTS?!?!

When we picked out a casket at the funeral home, Mom said, “He never told me what he wanted.”

And I said, “Knowing Dad, he'd want the cheapest casket possible!”

"Dad New Year's Eve 1982"

And my brother added, “If we could ask him, I'll bet he'd say, 'Oh, just bury me in a coffee can!'” (Like a dead gerbil?!?) “We should have grabbed a rusty old Folger's coffee can from Dad's workbench!”

“The one with the knife slice in the lid!” I giggled. I could just hear our Depression-era dad fulminating over our shoulders. “Ten thousand dollars? For a damn casket? DON'T YOU DARE!”

He didn't get the coffee can, but I'm pretty sure the funeral director fetched the gin bottle after we left.

It wasn't until I was driving back to Toronto that I realized just how important humor was to our family. My mom, like Marcia, called herself the Menopause Mama back in her hot flash days, and she loves Erma Bombeck too. I thought back to all the times our family laughed together - sometimes with my Uncle Keith, Mom's brother, who's just as much of a wacko as the rest of us - including the Thanksgiving dinners in which we recounted all the favourite family stories involving poop, pee, barf, pets, and small children. Yes, over Thanksgiving dinner, we roared through the familiar stories of public regurgitations, festive glittery Christmas candy debacle doggy-doos, and of course the notorious Schroon Lake Italian Restaurant fiasco that my brother will never, ever live down (it involved baby poop, bien sûr!)

Not everyone deals with tragedy with humor, but it worked for Famille Chardenet. Like Menopausal Mother, I have a sick and crazy but wonderful family, and that included my straight-faced but not strait-laced dad. And I wish now we'd had a few extra words added to his gravestone.

Bon Appétit!

Nicole Chardenet is an Erma Bombeck fan and former Floridian who gets 
flashbacks to her childhood while reading Marcia's blog. She's an ex-pat 
who now lives in Toronto with her evil henchkitty Belladonna because she 
hates cockroaches and hurricanes and giant spiders. She's the author of 
two novels and can't swear there won't be more forthcoming. She really 
wants a slice of Marcia's Butterfingers-and-rum cake, not that she's 
obsessed with it or anything...

On Twitter: @nchardenet

Web site:
Tongue of Dog's Breakfast Blog:



Sumer Lovin' on Amazon:

Young Republican, Yuppie Princess on Amazon: 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fly On The Wall On A Wacky Vacation

 Welcome to another edition of the Fly On The Wall Series, hosted by Karen at That pesky fly has been busy buzzing around the 12 bloggers participating in today's group challenge. He even followed me on a recent family vacation and left with an earful. My guess is that after spending a week with us on the road, he dove into the nearest martini to drown the memory of what he witnessed during our trip:

"I've had so much coffee on this road trip, I could hang a Starbuck's sign on my bladder."

"Stop feeding the pug banana bread! It may smell good going in but it smells really bad coming out."

"Don't make me laugh so hard in the car---I have to pee!"
"Next time remind me to get plastic seat covers..."

"Too bad it rained, because I was really looking forward to zip lining over an alligator pit."

"Why are we the only people in the hotel gym with Solo cups full of champagne?"
"Because the lounge was closed. This way we can drink and burn off the calories at the same time. Oh
look! There's champagne cup holders on every treadmill!"

"Did you just fart in the pool?"
"Because your swim trunks are billowing out like a flotation device."

"Oh great...take the guy with no cartilage in his knees on a rocky, ten mile hike through the woods...yeah, that's my idea of a fun, family
bonding moment."

"What on earth took you so long at the gas station?"
"We were comparing penises in the restroom."

"We've had so much to drink since we've been on vacation, my liver is crying out for an AA meeting."

"Stop dropping gas bombs in the car. You smell like processed ass."
"You're the one who bought me the fried chicken tenders, Dad. They upset my stomach."
"Chicken tenders? More like chicken stinkers out the butt."

"Nothing like driving a car with a transmission that bucks you out of your seat."

"We took a wrong turn on that last trail. I think we're lost. We could be in China for all I know."
"I think we've just entered another dimension, known as the Twilight Zone."
"Or we're starring in a new movie---Paranormal: The Woods Edition"
"I told you we should have left a trail of breadcrumbs..."

"Hon, you've eaten so much on this trip, I think we need to stop at Walmart and get you some men's maternity pants."

"Stop making booger patches on your side of the car!"

"Why aren't you going inside the caves with us?"
"Because I'm probably older than most of those stalagmites. And I'm claustrophobic. I might have a heart attack. Paramedics don't respond to cave calls."
"I don't understand what caused you to be so claustrophobic."
"I got trapped inside a mole hole as a child."

"Stop using the gingerbread cookie air freshener in the bathroom to mask your poops. Next year when I smell Christmas cookies baking in the oven, I'll think of poop."

"I know its been raining a lot, but it'll pass."
"Yeah, about as quickly as a gallstone."

"It's about time you got into a pool after 15 years. This is a HUGE event...sort of like man's first visit to the moon.... one small step for Marcia,
one giant leap into the pool."

"Why did you guys sprint ahead at the park and leave me behind in an open field with lightning, rain, 50 mile per hour winds and a funnel cloud above? You knew I couldn't run the mile back to the car with my bad knees."
"It's not our fault you're the injured buffalo in the herd."
"That means you'd leave me behind to be eaten by the wolves?"
"We didn't want to get hit by lightning or sucked up in a tornado. You were moving too slow for us!"
"I was busy clicking my heels, trying to get back to Kansas."

     And this, folks, is how we vacation Doyle style. I'm off now to swat a fly and fill my Solo cup with champagne. Be sure to visit the other bloggers in today's challenge!                                     Baking In A Tornado                                Just a Little Nutty                          Follow me home . . .                Stacy Sews and Schools                               The Sadder But Wiser Girl                   Menopausal Mother            Moore Organized Mayhem                            The Insomniac’s Dream                                      The Momisodes                      Spatulas on Parade                              The Rowdy Baker                                  Sorry kid, Your Mom Doesn’t Play Well With Others

Friday, July 19, 2013

On The Road Again

 I don't do well on long road trips. Being confined in a car for hours on end causes me to search frantically for a roadside bar. My butt becomes numb and my long legs ache from being folded up like an accordion under the dash. I fiddle with the A/C between hot flashes, causing everyone else to shiver or sweat in the backseat.
     Some of the other issues that make me want to claw my way out of the car during a long road trip include:

THE RADIO:  One minute I'm listening to Bon Jovi and digging it, then suddenly the radio station changes over in the next city and Wayne Newton is serenading me with a love ballad that makes me want to stick a fork in my eye.

SNACKING:  Long hours in the car causes terminal boredom. Boredom breeds hunger. Every five minutes I'm popping M&M's and Cheez-Its in my mouth like a cracked-out snack hoarder.

REST STOPS:  Within the first two hours of the road trip, my bladder starts knocking at the door. "Hello? Remember that grande size iced coffee you insisted on chugging down seventy miles ago? I'm not doing the camel thing here for you by storing all this liquid. Go pee!!" Murphy's Law inevitably points a finger at me and laughs by trapping me in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate. At this point, I place my hands together in silent prayer: "Dear bladder, please don't fail me now." I'm also forced to consider using my red Solo cup for something other than it was designed for. The cup is probably cleaner than most of the highway rest stops we visit, where everyone looks like Walmart refugees. Maybe it's because we're all sporting the same, rumpled clothes and a glazed look in our eyes from white fever. The good news? I can stock up here on more snacks---a soda for five bucks, a bag of chips that expired two months ago in the vending machine or boiled peanuts from a one-armed man.

SINGING IN THE CAR:  Another hour on the road and the bored men break out singing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" when it plays on the radio. I feel like I'm trapped on a tour bus with either The Mormon Taber"knuckle" Choir or The Vienna "Sour Note" Boy's Choir.

FAST FOOD:  Junking out on fast food while driving 80 miles per hour down the interstate is always fun, especially if nobody has any napkins on hand. Half of the food ends up in your lap and the rest of it on your greasy chin. By the time we emerge from the car at out final destination, we look like we've just played paint ball with ketchup, mustard and chocolate milkshakes.

CAR FARTS:  Eating all that crappy fast food and sitting for hours on our butts causes noxious fumes to fill the car. It's too big of a job for those little, hanging air fresheners to mask the smell. The Hubs thinks it's hilarious to crank up the heat and lock the car windows when he farts, just so he can listen to us gag and beg for mercy. I usually try to suffocate myself with a pillow when this occurs. Even worse, pug farts. Word of advice: Never, EVER let your teenager feed the dog a leftover bean burrito before
hitting the road for a long trip. Your olfactory senses will never be the same.

THE HOTEL:  I'm not sure where hotel chains purchase their pillows, but I'm betting they come from a sandbag factory. The mattresses aren't much better; they're so hard, I wake each morning folded over like an elderly man with rheumatoid arthritis.
         Four people sharing one bathroom keeps things interesting as well, especially if everyone indulged in the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet the night before. Hotel managers would be wise to install timers in each bathroom so that everyone gets their fair share of privacy on the stink throne.
        Large bath towels would also be a nice addition. No one can dry off properly from a shower with a towel the size of a dinner napkin. Foam padding needs to be added to the walls of every room so that it doesn't sound like the family upstairs is bouncing on a trampoline or a herd of elephants stampeding the hallways.

VACATION ACTIVITIES:  We spend most of our time hiking, visiting museums and fooling our stomachs into thinking we've entered a Man v.s. Food eating contest. The prize goes to the person who can no longer button their pants at the end of the trip.
 Hiking in an unfamiliar forest with a multitude of winding paths is not a good idea if you're codependent on a GPS. With dozens of banana spiders hanging from the trees and a gimpy husband with a bad knee, I don't feel safe getting lost in a secluded area that resembles a perfect spot for a sequel of The Blair Witch Project. It's enough to make me want to pee my pants, but I don't recommend doing that in the forest either, in case you accidentally squat over a patch of poison ivy. Try explaining THAT to your doctor.
     Museums are a great way to pass the time, mostly because they're air conditioned and I don't have to duck under banana spider webs. The downside is standing in a quiet room filled with ancient relics
when your teenager farts loud enough to shake the walls....then points a finger in your direction.
     Caves are also a fun activity to explore while on vacation, but not so
much if you're claustrophobic. Or penis-phobic. There are too many underground stalagmite areas that resemble multiple rooms of erections. It's not cool to snicker about them either, especially while your tour guide is trying to explain these rock formations to your group.
     Here's another travel tip: if the weather has been crappy all week, don't delude yourself into thinking it will pass and schedule an outing to the park. Nothing gets the heart pumping faster than being forced to run like an Olympian a mile back to the car while torrential rain is lashing at your face and dark, ominous clouds begin funneling overhead. Even more thrilling, yell, "TORNADO!!" and watch
everyone scatter like ants out of an anthill. Leave the gimpy husband behind as he does his best imitation of a peg-legged pirate limping over tree roots and rocks. It's every man for himself when a tornado is involved.

     Would I do it all again? Absolutely. Those moments of deep laughter with my family that caused our eyes to water and our bellies to ache were worth every mishap. But next time, we'll skip the bean burritos and carry a bottle of Gas-X instead.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Coffee With Erma

  Once again it's time for the Secret Subject Swap hosted by Karen at I was fortunate enough to receive my prompt from one of my favorite bloggers, Starr, of Her question for me: "If you could meet any author, past or present, dead or alive, for coffee, who would it be and why?"

     During the Jurassic era when Meno Mama was attending Stephens College with all the other dinosaurs, our commencement speaker at graduation was the well-known humorist, Erma Bombeck. I remember wondering who she was and thinking that she was incredibly funny. Little did I know how fortunate I was to witness this icon of humor deliver the most entertaining graduation speech I would ever hear.
     Fast forward to 2011 when I decided to dust off my diploma and put my writing skills to use in the form of a blog. I thought of Erma immediately and devoured every Bombeck book that I could find. She has been my muse from that point on, and is the inspiration behind every blog post I write. When I received Starr's prompt for this Swap, it took less than a nanosecond to decide who I would share coffee with. Bombeck's famous quotes have stuck with me over the years, so I pulled some of my favorites from the archives and centered our coffee conversation around them.
     Readers, meet my new friend, Erma Bombeck.

     "Erma, I've admired your work for so long. Every blogger out there wants to emulate your writing style. I was terrified of hitting that 'publish' button when I wrote my first post. Were you nervous when you sent out your first article?"

      "It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else." 

     "That's right. For the first few months, I felt like I was swimming alone in the murky waters of blogging until I started meeting other writers."

     "Dreams have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely.

     "It's hard on my family, too. They understand I need time alone in my room to write. But it sure would be nice if they tossed a sandwich and a bag of chips at me every now and then so that I wouldn't starve to death while sitting at the computer all day. Maybe that's their new diet plan for me. Seriously though, when I look around my messy home, I feel bad about neglecting all the chores that need to be done. It's a problem when the dog has eaten all the wooden legs off the sofa because no one remembered to feed him."

     "Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving!"

     "That's just it; the guilt is killing me."

     "Housework, if you do it right, will kill you."

     "My mother was an incredible housewife. She cooked from scratch, scoured the house until it shined and ironed everything, including the bedsheets! Mine resemble failed, origami projects shoved into the abyss known as our linen closet."

     "Ironed sheets are a health hazard."

     "The only time I don't feel guilty about letting the housework go is during football season. I figure if my husband can't be bothered with mowing the lawn for a few weeks, I can skip vacuuming the carpets for awhile..."

     "If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead."

     "He already spends too much time on the couch. I'm afraid one of these days I'll come home and all that will be left of him will be a chalk outline on the sofa and a remote control. He really needs to get out and jog."

     "The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I can hear heavy breathing again!"

     "Tell me something, Erma---you faced quite a bit of adversity in your life with polycystic kidney disease and breast cancer. How were you able to write such powerful humor during those years?"

     "Laughter rises out of tragedy when you need it most, and rewards you for your courage....if you can laugh at it, you can live it."

     "My laughter and pain is often intertwined. I'm either slipping into insanity or suffering from the raging hormones of menopause."

     "There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt."

     "You certainly found a way to bring laughter into this world. It amazes me that you started off by writing weekly newspaper columns from your small bedroom in Ohio, then quickly rose to be a popular humorist nationwide. Fourteen years later, 900 newspapers were publishing your column. That's an incredible accomplishment!"

     "I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian."

     "A lot of bloggers can relate to that statement. I think we're all searching for that little slice of fame through our blogs."

     "Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one. Helen Keller is the other."

     "I love that you were able to find humor in your everyday experiences as a wife and mother. Some of my favorite stories are the ones about your children and how they drove you crazy!"

     "Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids."  

     "You had three of them---you should know!"

     "Never have more children than you have car windows."

     "Especially if your fourth one is a belligerent seventeen-year-old who likes to make potato bombs and burn plastic milk jugs in the house to set off the fire alarm at an ungodly hour."

     "A child needs your love more when he deserves it the least.

     "It's hard to control my temper around him. I'm trying to be patient and understanding but sometimes I just want to sell him to a traveling circus....or duct tape him to a chair until he turns 21."

     "It's not until you're a mother that your judgement slowly turns to compassion and understanding."

     "I'm still waiting for that concept to kick in..... if you could start all over again as a young mother, Erma, what changes would you make?"

     "Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment, realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle....I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains....I would have talked less and listened more....and when my kids kissed me impetuously, I would have never said, 'Later. Now get washed up for dinner.'"

     "And if you had your whole life to live over again?"

     "There would have been more 'I love you's' and more 'I'm sorry's'....I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life....but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute....look at it and really see it....and never give it back." 

     We sipped our coffee in silence after that, then shared a few more family stories before it was time for her to leave. As I thanked her again for spending the afternoon with me, she popped open a flowered umbrella and headed out into the rain. I watched her disappear behind the silvery mist of water falling from a bruised sky and knew that I would never forget this remarkable, enchanting woman of humor.

      Please be sure to stop by and read the posts from the other bloggers participating in today's Secret Subject Swap!                                                                                                                                                               








Friday, July 5, 2013

Devil Juice

Meno Mama is on vacation this week enjoying time with her family for the holiday. For those of you recovering from a holiday hangover, I thought you might enjoy a little blog post that I wrote a long time ago, when I had only 23 followers if I was lucky....and half of those were family members. This is one of my favorites from back in the day---hope you enjoy it!

     Devil juice can be defined as: "Juice made from a winery in hell, designed to create multiple personalities in those who imbibe by introducing their alter egos to the general public."
     My husband is an avid beer drinker, but once he switches over to the dark side of wine, he becomes a different person.  Just like a woman with raging hormones in the throes of menopause, his mood can change drastically.  I never know which alter ego of his I will be dealing with---McBastard, Cuddle Bear, Sleepy from the Seven Dwarfs or a Teletubbie.  These personalities don't kick in until he has uncorked his second bottle of red wine.  He could paint the house, wax the car or install new plumbing and not remember a thing in the morning.  Sometimes he morphs into Jimmy Hendrix and plays air guitar to Purple Haze, while other nights he dons a cat mask and dances to the Meow Mix theme.  I don't worry too much about his alter egos as long as he's not scratching in a litter box, marking his territory or trying to lick my ankles.
     My husband claims that devil juice alters my personality as well.  He says that I change from lamb to lion to human gummy bear after a few glasses of vino, which has convinced me to buy cheaper wine and dilute it with ice water.  Gross, I know, but we can't have two comatose adults in the back yard.
      Years ago we owned a gift basket shop and were fortunate enough to come across case loads of good quality champagne at a discount price from a local wine dealer.  Most of the bottles ended up in our kitchen cabinets instead of in the baskets they were intended for.  A close friend of ours who bought several cases called it forget-me-not champagne because she woke each morning after drinking it not remembering what she did the night before.
     We have plenty of wine that could sport the same forget-me-not label.  Wine comas rob you of chunks of time you can never get back, until one day you find yourself crawling around on all fours in a video on YouTube.
     After enough glasses of devil juice, my husband is convinced he's the next Iron Chef.  He fixes weird sandwiches like bologna with garlic croutons or peanut butter, jelly and roasted turkey, then tries to get everyone else to eat his creations.  Guy Fieri he is not.  Vino turns me into Paula Dean---I want to slather butter on everything.  Some of my tastiest concoctions were created after a few glasses of devil juice---problem is I consumed major calories and I don't remember what I ate, only that it was more difficult to zip up my jeans the next day.
     You would think two middle age adults would not want to lose track of precious time by blurring their weekends with devil juice.  There's just something not right about a man in a cat mask drinking wine.  Next weekend he's changing his own litter box.
      What can I say?
      The devil made him do it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...