Monday, July 21, 2014

Blooming Onion

Weeks ago, Mama Kat’s of Mama Kat’s Pretty  Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop posted a prompt that was 1) Write a blog inspired by the word blooming

I immediately thought of a post I started months ago, and by months I mean February, dug it out and started re-working it

And then I forgot about it

Until the other day when Sean and I were given a gift card for the Outback as a thank you

And it reminded me of the prompt…..and the post I started but never finished twice

So here you have, as inspired by Mama Kat many weeks ago, a post inspired by the word blooming inspired by the time I got pulled over for speeding because of my old friend Karen….

Uncle Bill is my mother’s oldest brother

He’s married to Aunt Marie

He and Aunt Marie are my Godparents

Aunt Marie and Uncle Bill (read Aunt Marie) always remember Sean, Lucy and I at every holiday, on every birthday and anniversary

And Aunt Marie always appreciates the cards, gifts made by Lucy and whatever pictures we send her

In early January of this year, when we received an invitation for a surprise party Uncle Bill and my cousins were hosting for Aunt Marie’s 70th birthday, I did not think twice about making plans to go 

Based on schedules, workloads and available days off, I ended up going to Maine solo for said party
The party was on a Friday night so I took the day off and headed up at 7am

It’s rare that one gets Mum and Dad to one’s self……I  mean there are so many of us and invariably, more than one of us is home at the same time so I sort of jumped at the opportunity to spend some time with them

We made plans to have lunch out, Mum, Dad and I...and then Mum said an old family friend who happens to be a priest was also going to join us

So lunch with Mum, Dad and Father, a bit of afternoon shopping with Mum and then the party for my Godmother, Aunt Marie

The drive to Maine is roughly 240 miles from our house
The drive time averages about 3.75 hours
My best time is 3 hours 4 minutes

So on this particular Friday, with a full tank of gas, an extra-large coffee and a kick ass play list entitled High School, I made my way to home to Maine

I actually enjoy the solo drive to Maine - I think - listen to my music - sing if I want to - but I find I do my best thinking in the car - and sometimes my best writing - 

So there I was, minding my own business, driving along, thinking, singing.....

And then....

Midway through the trip, I got pulled over

By the police

Because I was speeding

And driving a bit erratically

Because I was dancing

Well, technically, I was not dancing so much as I was acting out a song

It took me a second to realize I was being pulled over

And by a second I mean an entire chorus of Got my Mind Set on You…. the volume was up a bit loud

So I pulled over

By the time the law enforcement official was at my window, I had retrieved my phone out from underneath the seat, shut down the play list and turned off the car

But I did not dare to reach for anything else, like my registration, because he looked pissed

I rolled my window down


Do you have any idea who fast you were going Ma’am?

Uhh, I have a pretty good idea 

And how fast do you think you were going?

Well, I know it was more than 65 but I’m pretty sure it was less than 90….so that’s good right?

I was not trying to be a wise ass, I was genuinely nervous and a bit scared - I mean nervous like my hands started shaking, my blood went cold and I may or may not have peed a little - and when I get nervous, not only do I shake and pee, I start sounding a tad pompous and then just start babbling

He asked for my license and registration

Yes okay, sure but it’s in the glove box…well my registration is my license is in my wallet…so I have to get them

Can you please get them both for me?

Oh yeah, of course, I just wanted you to know that I know where they are and I’m going to get them now

Ma’am, your license and registration please


I handed both over, after picking up the wipes and underwear that fell out of my glove box (emergency stash for my 4 year old I lamely explained) and started fidgeting in my seat

He was not leaning over as he spoke to me and when I turned my head, my face was right in his crotch and I felt weird staring at it but I was afraid if I looked straight ahead, it would appear I was not listening to him So I decided to just look down

But when I looked down, I realized my shirt had come unbuttoned not one but three buttons down and I did not want him to think I was trying to get him to look down to look at my boobs to get me out of a ticket so I started jerking my head around like cat being teased with laser pointer

Ma’am? Ma’am? He said a bit louder

I jerked my head towards him because he caught me trying to adjust the seat belt to cover my gaping shirt and I sort of let go of it and snapped myself pretty hard across the chest

Yes sir?

Why were you going so fast?

And without thinking I blurt out

It’s Karen’s fault! And Dede’s….but mostly Karen….you  know one time she ran over me with a car – actually Jen was driving but Karen pushed me out – she says it was by accident but now I’m not so sure….I don’t even know why we’re friends….


The officer leaned down and looked in the car….

Are you alone?


Then who is Karen and how is it her fault?

Its George Harrison’s fault but really its Karen’s fault….I wouldn’t have even listened to George Harrison if it hadn’t been for Karen – and it’s also kind of Dede’s fault because this started when the song I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany came on….and Dede was the one who introduced me to that song…and it made me think of her…I have no idea where she is now but Jesus she was really funny – and I totally had a crush on her brother - and this guy named Marty….I was a little boy crazy back then but not now because I’m married

The officer moved back a bit and bent down to look in the back seat

You are alone are you not Ma’am?


Where are you headed?

Now as I mentioned, when I get nervous, I tend to talk - a lot – and when I say talk a lot I mean I start babbling….and the more I talk the more nervous I get and the more nervous I get, I lose my train of thought and start babbling even more trying to find my way back to my original point – I would have been a disaster on a debate team

To Bangor…….to see my Mum and Dad……well , actually I am headed to a surprise party for Aunt Marie, she’s my Godmother so that’s why I’m going – I mean I’d go anyway because she’s my Aunt and she’s turning 70-, but don’t tell her I told you she’s 70 – but that is not until tonight so first I’m having lunch with my mother and father and Father – not that I have two fathers……one is my Dad the other is a priest so it’s kind of like a Holy Day…..get it? Lunch with a Priest and then a party for my Godmother? Funny right?

Anyway yeah, so that’s where I’m going…to my parent’s house in Bangor – well not Bangor so much as Orrington but no one ever knows where Orrington is so I always say Bangor…which really I should say Brewer because Bangor is on the opposite side of the river but no one ever seems to know Brewer either so Bangor is easier…...

Ma’am if I go back and run your license, am I going to find any recent moving violations?

Oh no, the last time I was pulled over was in 2004 – Mother’s Day weekend – I remember because I had my brother with me – we were driving to Bangor, well Orrington, to surprise my Mum for Mother’s Day – he was in Boston for a bachelor party and I picked him up Saturday morning and we drove up and when he saw me, I had lost like 20 pounds or so because I was doing Weight Watchers and I just joined that winter and he had not seen me and when he saw me he was all like wow, you look great – so that’s how I remember – and I got pulled over by an airplane - well not an airplane, the plane clocked me and then a trooper on the ground pulled me over – and my brother saw the plane and never warned me so that was actually his fault – he’s a horrible co-pilot


Well he could have told me to slow down but he didn’t and I got a ticket for $230! He never even offered to pay it and he should have because had he not been in town, I would not have been driving to Maine…..wait, was it 2004 or 2005? I think it may have been 2005….no it was 2004 because Sean was not with us and if it had been 2005, Sean would have been with us but it was just the two of us – and Christina was pregnant so it was definitely 2004

So your last ticket was in 2004?

Yes, but my husband got one in 2009…at Christmas

Ma’am, I don’t care about your husband

Oh, okay right

So you are headed to Bangor –


Care to tell me why you were driving so fast?

Well, again, its Karen’s fault....because of the music - see I met my friend Karen my freshman year in high school - and though we did not become fast friends, we eventually became friends

See I did not fit with the cool kids - and I did not fit with the not so cool kids - and I certainly did did not fit at all with the band/chorus/drama kids…..even though I got the lead in the Spring Musical that year which I am still not even sure how that happened and would you believe I never got the lead again…probably because I am a terrible singer and it is a musical….

But that is beside the point..….see I was just a bit odd I suppose – not like Goth weird or talking to myself as I walked down the hall weird I was just kind of in my own little world – not like the land of Oz world……I just thought high school would have been easier you know? Like I’d just have all kinds of new friends….….I was a do-gooder and a joiner but did not realize you weren’t supposed to be so enthusiastic about it…I thought you were supposed to try out/audition for everything…It never occurred to me I might not succeed

Ma’am? Where are you going with this?

Well I’m trying to explain to you why this is Karen’s fault…because then I tried out for the basketball team….and I went to a small high school and there weren’t enough girls trying out to justify a JV team so there was only Varsity and I did not make the team  - I was the only one cut

Which made sense because frankly, I was awful - I mean was chubby, which you know because I already told you I went to Weight Watchers – which I go again now because after I had my daughter I got fat again – well not like right after but like two years after – yeah, I lost the baby weight then gained it back again – so not fair – anyway as I was saying, I was chubby out of shape and lacked any coordination so I got cut

But then three days later, Julie, the captain of the team called me and said someone quit and would I like her spot, sure I said, why not

So I showed up for the fourth practice and quickly realized that playing Varsity in High School was way different than playing in Jr High School – I mean these girls were scary as shit- oops sorry, I mean they were pretty intense and serious as hell about it

Mary and Julie were seniors and I remembered them from Orrington when I was a kid  - my Mum would take us to the Jr High to watch the basketball and softball games and remembered watching these girls playing and thinking they were the most amazing athletes I had ever seen live and in person and now I was standing next to them - they knew and loved my mom so I figured they’d be pretty nice to me and I remember my enthusiastic (read over zealous dorked out) greeting I shouted to them and they both ignored me


Then there was Dede who also grew up in Orrington, though she was a year younger than Mary and Julie, she was the first one who was nice to me…….she just kept encouraging me and told me to follow her…….so on this fourth day, I was stinking the joint out and somehow, got paired up with Karen who was less than amused she was stuck with me

She was the most serious and the most scary on the court - but she was good and the star of the team – and now she was tasked with getting me through the sets of drills -  she was less than amused with the jokes I was cracking or my inability to do a suicide without gasping for air -and when we had to do the crab walk while holding a basketball between our knees – well let’s just say that everyone else was in the showers while I was still trying to finish the crab walk  - but Dede who grew up down the street from me stayed with me and next thing I know, Karen was on the other side of me and they stayed with me until I finished

Needless to say, I did not play much – I was just there for comic relief - so I just hung out on the bench and watched which did not bother me in the least

Anyway, after that first week of practice, despite my inability to make a basket or run for 15 minutes straight, Karen and I became fast friends and within a short time, were inseparable – and Dede and I became friends too

I remember hanging out with Dede and listening to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany - and I remember singing the songs at the top of our lungs - Karen and I would listen to The Hooters, The Monkees, The Beatles and Huey Lewis and The News - no matter who I was listening to, with Karen or Dede, we always sang and we always danced - now much of our dancing was done while seated – because we were always on the bus on our way to a game somewhere

So we made up all these dance routines to the songs- I guess we were kind of acting out the songs - Karen and I had quite a few songs in our repertoire – our favorites being You Can Call me Al which by the way we did at my wedding – and Got My Mind Set on You by George Harrison –

Karen had a Walkman and she bought a dual jack so we could plug two sets of headphones in and listen together - what we must have looked like - but we did not care - it made us laugh, it was fun – and it made those long bus rides a whole lot more bearable - we could have cared less if the cool kids made fun of us - in my head, we were the cool kids

So then, Karen and Dede graduated and my Junior and Senior years were less memorable than my first two years and not as much fun - Karen and Dede went off to college and two years later, so did I - and once I went off to college, I lost touch with pretty much all of the people I went to high school with –partly because I was a jerk but really because I was pretty insecure -  but Karen and I always kept in touch although sometimes, we’d go without speaking to one another for a years

But I always knew where she was and how she was because her Mum Sylvia kept dibs on me, and you know Mrs Smith has never missed our anniversary? And now she never will because Mitch and Karen got married a couple years ago on the same day! Crazy right?

Ma’am, I am going to ask you again why you were speeding.

Well, I wasn’t actually doing it on purpose – I was just kind of caught up in the moment – well not really the moment so much as memoires…so the memories and music

That’s why you were speeding?

Well yeah, because of the music – I was dancing, well not dancing so much as acting out the song because I was reminiscing  – about high school and after high school, in 2000, Karen moved from Colorado to Massachusetts – and I was living in Illinois so she stopped and stayed with me for  a day or two and then she called me a few days later when she arrived in Massachusetts distraught because the girl she was moving in with to share expense announced, upon Karen’s arrival, that she was moving out – who does that right?

So next thing I know, I packed up all my stuff and without a job or a plan moved sight unseen into an apartment and into a city I knew nothing about – which was like the best thing ever for me because I totally needed a change of scenery but I still miss Annette and Brandon – don’t even get me going on my 
shenanigans with them!

Anyway, so now we live together, me and Karen, Annette and Brandon are still in Rantoul and I have no idea where Dede is but then, Karen gets a great job in Baltimore and moves but she’d come back to visit…like in 2004 when the Sox won the World Series – I still can’t even believe they won never mind the two since then…remember the Parade was scheduled for Saturday? Well, I talked to her Thursday and I’m all like you need to come up and she was all like I don’t know she said, I have laundry to do….but I told her I have a WASHER AND DRYER GET YOUR ASS UP HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So she did - and at 10pm that Friday night, we’re at Stop and Shop buying food for our day out in Boston - we bought the biggest container of humus ever – I have no idea why - But we bought hummus and bread and vegetables and crackers - But instead of eating the hummus and veggies, we drank whiskey and whooped and hollered with the thousands of other people around us - best day ever - but I don’t drink now

That’s Karen’s fault too – not that that’s a bad thing ….see she came back for another visit - I forget why she was in town but she stayed with me - we decided we’d just go have dinner and drinks, give us some time to catch up with one another - The Outback was just down the street from our apartment - and I think one of us wanted a blooming onion - though I have to be honest, I have no idea if we ever ordered it or if it just sounded good at the time

So on this particular night, Karen and I are sitting at the bar eating and catching up and there were two men in uniform, not yours, they were Marines, or were they Army, one of the two…..anyway, they were  sitting near us at the bar - every once in a while, they’d interject in our conversation – I may or may not have baited them – so, we finished our meal, paid and the two guys were still sitting at the bar

As we’re driving away, I was driving - one of us had the brilliant idea that I should go back in and invite them to join us - given our history, I’m pretty sure it was Karen’s idea because she could get me to do stuff like walk up to a police officer and ask him for a DARE card or ask some guy with a big camera if he was with Sports Illustrated but that’s not really relevant here

So I went in, told them where we were going and got them to join us - I don’t remember the rest of the night as vividly as one should - I remember a whole lot of laughing, drinking, more laughing and some shots - what I do remember quite vividly was waking up the next morning on the couch of a hotel lobby next to one of the two guys with no shoes on and I may or may not have had his shirt on over mine which appeared to be a bit stiff and damp and smelled like tequila…and lemon…and it took me a few minutes to figure out where I was

And it turned out, if you can believe it, that I was in a hotel less than two miles from my house…now it took me less time to find my keys and my car and get the hell out of there…and when I got home, Karen was just waking up too…and we were kind of like what the hell…but god we had a good time and then shortly thereafter I sort of eased way back on my drinking and then just eventually quit drinking and in between that I met Sean and we got married……so I guess I was speeding because the songs came on and I sort of got wrapped up in nostalgia and dancing, well acting out the songs and…..I’m really sorry sir….and I will turn down the music and stop dancing but if we don’t hurry up, I am going to miss holy lunch with Father…and my Dad…and my Mom…. please don’t give me a ticket…god I am exhausting

Yes, yes you are – Ma’am this is a written warning – turn the music down, concentrate on your driving and please just go and slow down  

He walked away

Totally Karen’s fault – and kind of Dede’s - and that of a craving for a blooming onion 


  1. This is the first I have heard of you being pulled over on the way to Aunt Marie's birthday.


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