Category Archives: Funny story

My Family Put FUN in DysFUNctional–Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving dog and catYes, we love our families. Yes, lots of us have to give ourselves a pep talk before we enter the room for that Thanksgiving dinner, smiling.

Families know how to push our buttons. Families have issues. If you haven’t seen the new George Clooney movie, be prepared. It’s not a feel-good. It’s a reality check.

Speaking of reality checks, families are also good for that, too. They keep us grounded. Praise the Lord. Pass the gravy. We all need to stay grounded. The uncle/brother/ mother/cousin who drives you crazy may be doing you a favor, you know, keeping your ego in check.

If it’s politics that drives you crazy, listen. It pays to understand how the other side thinks. If you’re bored, ask yourself why. Are you so busy you can’t change pace for a half-a-day? If it’s an old issue that keeps coming up, remind yourself that it’s OLD. If you don’t want to deal with it, tell yourself you’re not dealing and shrug.

Here’s the key, according to me. No matter what happens, ask yourself what’s funny about the situation. How would this make an interesting story? Humor trumps anger. Even if you’re only amused on the inside, keeping your feelings to yourself, you’ll win. You’ll leave the family gathering in better spirits and maybe wiser for taking a step back and putting life in perspective.

That’s my Thanksgiving morning pep talk. I needed it. Have a good one with lots of food and amusement/amazement at the FUN in every family’s dysFUNction.



Filed under Event, Family history, Family Stories, Funny story

Family History: Durian and Watermelon

baskets of durianMy son and I are walking through Chinatown in Los Angeles when I spot baskets of a fruit I’ve never seen. I ask the vendor what it’s called. He answers in something that sounds like Chinese, but might have been Malay. He beckons for me to follow him. In the back of the store, next to the dried fish, he whacks the fruit open and offers me one of the large teardrop pods. It’s sweet, custardlike in texture, maybe slightly slimy but not unpleasant. I nod. He seems pleased. He puts the rest of the pods in a sealed plastic bag. Money exchanges and everyone seems happy.

What I don’t realize, standing next to the dried fish, is that particular spiky fruit is mostly known for its strong smell.

Richard Sterling, quoted in The Travelling Curmudgeon, says:

“… its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away. Despite its great local popularity, the raw fruit is forbidden from some establishments such as hotels, subways and airports, including public transportation in Southeast Asia.”

Still ignorant of that fact, my son and I stop at a Marie Calendar’s Restaurant to have lunch. I open the baggie, thinking the fruit might compliment our salad and realize the problem. I quickly close the bag, but not before the people in the next booth complain that there’s a gas leak in the restaurant. Two tables over, someone else makes the same observation. I try to explain to my waitress that it’s not a gas leak, it’s an exotic fruit, but she’s not buying that any fruit could smell like that. “It’s really strong,” she tells me. “The manager is calling the gas company right now.” I get up and go to the front desk where the manager is on the phone and hand him the baggie. He’s puzzled. I open the baggie. He puts down the phone while I explain. I thought I would be asked to leave. Instead, he merely asked me to remove the offending fruit from the premises–immediately.

Durian PrepAs soon as I got come, I called a friend who had lived in Indonesia. She knew exactly what I was describing–“a Durian,” she said giving me a name for the fruit. “You’re the only round-eye I know who has actually eaten it,” she added. “The smell is enough to make most people puke.”

That was fifteen years ago. Last summer, in Toronto, I noted both slant-eyes and round-eyes buying the fruit at the stand in that city’s Chinatown. I asked the guy ahead of me in the checkout aisle what he planned to do with his. He told me it was wonderful with sticky rice and coconut milk, like that was no big deal.

When my grandfather came to America in the 1930s, he’d never seen a watermelon. One hot summer day, he was at the market and noticed that everyone was buying watermelon, so he bought one. He brought it home and set it in the middle of the kitchen table. Then he and my grandmother discussed what to do with it. Cook it? Cut it? Peel it? Fortunately a friend showed up, who cut it open for them and showed them how to eat it. My grandfather always liked watermelon on a hot summer day, and I always cringed when he told that story. How could anyone be that dumb, I wondered.

My son and I still like to tell the story of how we nearly closed a Marie Calendar’s with an exotic fruit, but I’m beginning to wonder if the joke’s on us–a couple of unsophisticated bumpkins in a world that’s gone global.


Filed under Family Stories, Funny story, Story Motif, Travel Story

Family History: Tai chi and Fear

Tai-chi Graphic“What makes us stiff,” my Tai chi teacher asked.

He was looking at me, or, self-consciously, I thought he was looking at me. As a class, we were trying to learn the spin near the end of the short Yang form. It hadn’t been going well.

“Fear,” he said, answering his own question.

Besides feeling old and awkward, I was barefoot that day. Should have worn socks, I told myself, when I realized my feet were sticking to the floor, slowing my spin. Actually, I was afraid my feet were going to squeak as I turned. I wanted to go home and practice in private–where I wouldn’t embarrass myself.

A child doesn’t think like that. A child would get caught up in the idea of spinning, and just spin.

Called “tranquility in motion,” Tai chi consists of a series of slow movements that burn more calories than surfing, swimming, or downhill skiing. It is supposed to  reduce stress, improve balance, and lower blood pressure–all measures of built-up fear.

How do I end this story?

With a spin . . .

“Don’t try to turn from up top, using the arms,” my teacher said. “That way, you lose your balance. Keep yourself rooted down low and just go round . . ”

So I did.


Filed under Family Stories, Funny story, Life Story, New Story, Personal Narrative

Give an Old Woman An IPad . . . She’ll Write a Limerick

We make stories every day. We don’t always capture them this well. Enjoy Virginia and her IPad.


Filed under Family Stories, Funny story, Life Story, Personal Narrative, Video Story

Airbrush that Minivan, Please

OK, since the last photo got lots of comment, I can’t resist adding this one. Again, it’s my son and his daughter in a museum. Right after the photo was taken, they were told “you can’t do that” by a guard. Ethan, my son, puzzled a moment and asked why not. “This is a museum, not a playground,” was the answer.

“In our family we ________(fill in the blank).

We can fill in the blank, because we’ve all been told that in our family we do certain things in certain ways. I’m assuming the guard’s family only has fun in appropriate places like playgrounds. The danger is that once we’ve decided what it is that we do, as a family or an individual, we resist other choices.

I have a good friend who never-ever thought of herself as the tan-minivan-type. When she had three kids under the age of seven and the only car she could afford was a used tan-minivan, she seriously thought about not leaving her house for the next five years. Her solution?

She scraped together enough cash to have flames airbrushed on the sides of the minivan and then drove it until it had to be towed to the junkyard because, by that time, she had become known as the cool mom with the flaming van.

Story has a powerful hold on us. We expect our lives to turn out like the stories we’ve heard. If those stories don’t include clowning in museum or driving a dull car, we won’t.

How do you______ (fill in the blank)? Is the result freeing or restrictive?


Filed under Family Stories, Funny story, Story Motif, Story pegs, Why Stories?

My Dictionary Definition!

Keep Boulder Weird LogoOk, I’ve spent way too much time trying to tell my story. I should have looked myself up in the Urban Dictionary!!!

1. Boulderite

A general class of people similar to the Hippie, who live on a diet of fruits, nuts, granola and other organic foods. Often liberal in thinking and very much into outdoor activities. They can be distinguished by their economical yet functional vehicles and their equally functional attire. Name is derived from the “all natural” town of Boulder, CO. (CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE SCARY)

You see that girl in the riding shorts and hiking boots with sunglasses on her head snacking on trail mix? That is one fine Boulderite.

2. Boulderite

One who:
1. Trains for a marathon before work.
2. Spends more than 10 hours a week in spandex. (I Wish!)
3. Eats out at fine establishments, wearing a fleece vest and expensive outdoor shoes. (ME!)
4. Carries plastic bags for picking up dog poop. (YES, ME)
5. Drinks 2oz. of espresso for breakfast, 2 oz. wheatgrass for lunch, and 24 oz. Microbrew with dinner.
6. Drives a Subaru Outback with some clever form of an anti-Bush bumper sticker. (Mostly Me!)
7. Buys groceries on a commuter bike, or cross country skis.(KINDA ME)
8. Owns Bikerack and Bike that costs more than the price of Subaru. (SORTA ME)
9. Lives within walking distance of a yoga studio. (ME!)
10. Wonders how CO can still be a Red State?! (ME!)

Spandex on by 6am, Cycling through Martin Acres, mildly hung- over, and completely stoned the Boulderite rode to Whole Foods for a Powerbar and a Matte Latte with soy.


Filed under Definition, Funny story, History, Story Motif, Why Stories?

Comma, Comma

graphic on commasThis is too good. How we tell our stories matters. Missed mentioning that how we punctuate our stories might also matter. Comma, comma, comma!

Not sure who created this. Just showed up in my e-mail this morning. Thanks, whoever you are.


Filed under Funny story, New Story, stories, Storytelling