But Can You Do THIS?

What the WHAT? Two blog posts in a mere nine days?! That’s right peeps. At Mama Kat’s prompting, I have created and shall now share a list of 10 random and totally useful things I know how to do. Don’t be intimidated.

One: At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I can sit Indian-style, then stand and walk on my pretzel-ed knees. How not at all creepy! Editor’s Update: My sister, Jamie, has informed me that the proper, 21st-century term for the position I’m describing above is “criss-cross applesauce.” 

Well hullo there, Millard
Well hullo there, Millard

Two: Since buck-toothed third grade, when I accidentally memorized a poster Mrs. Snow hung on our classroom wall, I have been able to name all U.S. presidents in order of appearance. Millard Fillmore is my favorite name on the list.

Three: I can read the Russian and Hebrew alphabets (sort of). Nyet, I do not understand what I’m reading.

Four: Call it trivial, but I can identify the innards of any chocolate from a Russell Stover assortment. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it when I save you from picking the weird strawberry nougat.

Five: Along those lines, I am a dessert sommelier. Tell me your entree and I will tell you the complementary confection.

Six: In just a few minutes, I can compose an “alphabetical poem.” What in THE hell is an alphabetical poem, you may be asking? I will tell you. Or should I say, “Ah. Be calm.” It is a poem whose first word starts with an A, second with a B, third with a C, and so on through Z. You can see one example of my freakdom at the end of this post about Conan O’Brien.

Seven: I cannot address the physics involved, but it’s somehow possible to bake chicken in a brown bag without burning down your apartment. I learned how to do this in Philadelphia, when the very feisty Lil – whom I refer to as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown” – came to visit Dave and Rob from Oklahoma. Note: the brown bag can’t have any ink on it, unless you like colored chicken and scrubbing your oven.

Eight: I am excellent at recognizing B-list actors (aka “the guy from …/the chick from …”) or former child stars in supporting TV roles. Usually, they’re playing suspects on Law & Order and judges on The Good Wife.

Nine: If you are having a conversation remotely within my hearing range, I’m listening. Even if I appear to be deeply engrossed in my own.  I call it a throw-back to my days as an enterprising young journalist. Keith calls it proof that I’m nosy.

From left: Horsie, Rodney, Milty and Piggy
From left: Horsie, Rodney, Milty and Piggy

Ten: Upon adopting a new stuffed animal, I’m able to immediately sense and start channeling his/her personality and voice. Come to my abode and I will introduce you to Milty the nervous, nearsighted moose who communicates by nodding, shaking or scratching his bulbous head.  There’s also Rodney, the alcoholic reindeer; Horsie, the Texan womanizer who fears being washed in a pillowcase, as his tag suggests; and of course Piggy, the innocent little swine who never quite gets her words right. She thinks investment bankers get a “Jonas” every year (Nick, Joe …) and that The Letter T is a “clog.”

Once again, may thanks to Mama Kat for her continued inspiration and motivation. 

But Can You Do THIS?

Ollie’s CV

Note: This is a silly post. It is, however, slightly chuckle-worthy to those who knew Ollie and/or anyone who has ever had a conversation with a dog.

The job candidate at a power lunch (he had water served in a fine, imported plastic bowl.)
The job applicant at a power lunch (he had tap water served in a fine, imported plastic bowl)

Shortly after our arrival in Philadelphia, while procrastinating as I canvassed the city for a job as good as the one I’d left in New York, I decided that Ollie should embark on a career search as well. But first, of course, he’d need a resume.


Of Snausage.  Represent clients in the pet care and luxury pet goods industries, from prestigious doggie store Pooch to ghetto chains like PetSmart. 

Union Leader.  Organize and lead doggie strikes and escapes in response to presence of loud, scary train.  Responsible for overseeing five mutts, two other Wheatens, a drooly St. Bernard, a giant poodle and some cuh-reepy German Shepherds.

Staring Contest Runner-Up.  Participate in and almost win staring contests against world champion pouncer LuLu. 

Champion Pee-er.  Title-holder for “Longest, Most Relieving Pee Ever.”

Valet Visitor.  Made frequent trips (against owners’ recommendations) to four-star hotel’s valet services office in case dry cleaning (spare harness) had arrived.

Marketing Manager.  Serve as representative of soft-coated Wheaten terrier litter born September 2004; responsibilities include acting as cuh-yoot as possible for manipulative purposes, pretending to be perfectly behaved, and drinking special blend of evaporated milk and water. 


DE-PAW COLLEGE, Philadelphia, PA
Concentration in Snausage Studies and Classical Barking.


Emailing; eating Frosty Paws; chewing on expensive shoes; Spanish lessons; reading Snausage Monthly; watching SpongeBob Square Pants(he lives in a pineapple under the sea); playing with Howie, LuLu and Dolly; tug of war; bones.

Contact Information


Ollie’s CV

Sleepless at the Service Line

For the past two weeks, a particularly virulent strain of insomnia has plagued me. If you must know, I didn’t fall asleep until 5 a.m. last night. I’ve battled insomnia on and off throughout my life, and I’ve found that long-term exhaustion intensifies all my anxieties, fears and concerns. For a few nights, I lay awake obsessing over the fact that I could very well have fatal familial insomnia, one of the most fascinating genetic diseases I’ve ever read about. It didn’t matter that there was virtually no way in hell that anyone in my family of Eastern European peasant, mule-owning Jews had ever even come in contact with — much less done the nasty with — a member of the one family (Italian royalty, I should add) whose blood carries this horrid disease.

For a few more nights, I obsessed about instant messages I’d sent at the office. What if my boss had been paying my so-called work friends to entrap me? What if their snide comments were only meant to lure me into making even snider comments, which were then printed out and handed in to upper management? On other nights, the 70s-infused theme song of Swingtown refused to stop coming into my head while I tried to slumber; thoughts of those mysterious little holes in my t-shirts drove me crazy; and/or the sound of the air conditioner kept me up.

Then, inevitably, came the nights when I reviewed every mistake I’d made in my life, starting with the selection of red Buster Brown lace-ups instead of the brown leather Mary Jane-type shoes in 1976. My nocturnal regretting also included trading a “Virginia is for Lovers” reflector sticker for four Butter Rum Life-Savers in 1981; never getting to say goodbye to Ollie; spending money to see “Opportunity Knocks”; leather Keds; eating a Pizza Hut individual pan pizza before getting on that one flight from Boston to Newark; choosing the wrong college; choosing the wrong graduate program; choosing the wrong first job; sliding downhill from there; and just generally failing to do anything right, ever.

All this brought back a particularly regrettable incident in December of 1996. I had decided that I loved Pete Sampras a few months earlier after being completely moved by his public barfage at the U.S. Open that year. At the time, I was working as the editor of a dinky, now-defunct magazine for military wives, and as such was able to secure press credentials for use at a benefit tennis tournament at Madison Square Garden. My future husband P. Sampras, along with Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and John McEnroe, was playing to raise money for the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation and brain cancer patients; the press credentials meant I could partake of the press conference beforehand.  I arrived early and managed to secure a front-row seat.  It was my first (and only) celebrity-related press conference, and in addition to being the only female in attendance, I appeared to be the only “reporter” not employed at a major newspaper or sports magazine. P. Sampras and co. were on a first-name basis with all the inquiring journalists.  While they swapped private jokes and referenced famous tennis matches going back to the 70s, I tried to figure out why THE HELL I had thought it was a good idea to wear ill-fitting and too-light Gap jeans, a hideously colored Norwegian print sweater and the ugliest square-toe boots ever manufactured. 

Even though I was hardly the world’s leading tennis expert, it was hard not to be awed by the close-up sight of P, A, J and J. I spent a few seconds just staring at each of them. When I landed on P, I thought for a nanosecond that he might be looking at me. This struck me as ridiculously unlikely, but still …

I conducted a test — I looked down at my sham of a reporter’s notebook for a minute, then back up.


If cell phones had existed back then, I would have sent a big, fat “OMFG” to everyone I knew.

I forced myself to raise an arm and come up with an entree into the King of Swing’s life.  When I did, P. Sampras called on me and SMILED. Did I mention that Pete Sampras smiled at me?

Miraculously able to speak, I asked them if they’d consider making this benefit an annual event if it proved successful. (They would, but never did.)

A few minutes later, the press conference wrapped up, and I found myself a smidge surprised that P. Sampras had not stood up and said, “Now I have a question for YOU. Will you marry me?”

Alas, it was probably for the best, I thought, as sooner or later, he would have seen me attempt to play tennis and any relationship we had would quickly have come to its demise. Sigh. (One more thing to regret: my refusal to continue tennis lessons in 1986.)

I filed out of the room with the real journalists and bent down in the hallway to re-organize my bag.

When I stood up, P. Sampras was standing right in front of me.


He smiled and said, “Hi. Pete Sampras. Nice to meet you.”


Pete Sampras upon learning I am too retarded to say hi to him
December 1996, New York: P. Sampras cries upon learning I am too retarded to say hi to him

Now, there were any number of logical responses I could have given. For one thing, I could have, oh, I don’t know, SAID HI BACK TO HIM. I could have introduced myself. I could have given him my card. I could have told him how much I liked watching him play and/or what a great idea this benefit was. But did I say any of those things? DID I SAY ANYTHING AT ALL?! No. In fact, I’m not even sure I smiled. I can only remember emitting some kind of unintelligble, Chris Farley-esque sound and being completely paralyzed. While I can imagine how much of an absolute moron I must have looked like to him, I prefer not to.  

And so, P. Sampras and I went our separate ways, he to the court and me to the stands. I would meet John McEnroe two more times, at his gallery in Soho, and I would pass Jim Courier several times on the streets of Manhattan. But P. Sampras and I would not cross paths again. Twelve years later, the leggy blonde actress Brigitte Wilson sleeps with my husband in a Los Angeles mansion. OMFG. I HAVE to get some Ambien.

Sleepless at the Service Line

Spilling the Beans

Why didn't I think of this?
Why didn't I think of this?

It was my turn to make the afternoon pilgrimage to Starbucks. Typically, the individual responsible for the daily Starbucks run takes at least one other person with him or her, because it just isn’t possible to carry more than two caffeinated beverages unless one has disturbingly large hands.  But due to a seemingly endless Customer Service meeting that occupied a large portion of my co-workers, I found myself flying solo. 

I was a smidge concerned because I was sporting a cute frock I’d only worn once before, and one of the girls had requested a tall, hot coffee. Never once have I been able to tote a hot coffee any distance without involuntarily demonstrating a little move I like to call the spill-n-scald. Recently, I discovered that by piling 50+ napkins on top of the Starbucks lid, I could greatly cut down on both spillage and scaldage.  Unfortunately, in today’s eco-friendly, greener-than-thou environment, grabbing so many napkins is frowned upon with excessive condescension.  I dreaded the dirty looks I’d get from Birkenstock-wearing, soy latte and green tea drinkers in Chelsea.  Still, the dirty looks were preferable to the ruined expensive white tops.

Today, however, when the barrista slid me the tall hot coffee I’d ordered, there was a mysterious green thing sticking out of the sip hole.  Fascinating! Some lucky individual — probably employed at a crappy job which caused him to require copious amounts of caffeine — had invented a coffee cork! This toothpick-esque sliver of plastic prevented leakage and was alarmingly simple. The guy was probably a bazillionaire now with a lifetime supply of Starbucks. That bastard! Why had I not thought of this?

Thanks to the plug, I managed to deliver the coffee in pristine conditon — having lost nary a drop. I also delivered an ice coffee with grace and aplomb. Then, gently, I began to pull my own drink — a caramel frappuccino – out of the cardboard tray. The lid came flying off and within a nanosecond, the lower half of my dress was covered in sugary beige sludge. 

The moral of the story is: some people are lucky. Some people end up covered in sludge.

Spilling the Beans

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At approximately 2 p.m. this afternoon, on my way back from lunch procurement at Benvenuto, I noticed a cute little puppy that was either a Cairn or a Norwich terrier, just sitting there calmly, checking out the scenery on 24th Street. Both breeds are fairly popular in the city given their compact size and the equally compact size of the average residence here, but I had never before seen one so young and innocent-looking. (For your reference and terrier edification: Dorothy’s Toto, while oft mistaken for a Scottie, was actually a Cairn terrier.)

I bent down to pet the dog, who was very nice and generously supplied me with puppy kisses. I did feel like I was cheating a little bit on Howie and LuLu, but I also felt like they’d be happy I was getting some doggie love in their absence.

“Is this a Cairn terrier or a Norwich terrier?” I asked the owner, whose gender was indeterminate.  “So cute!”

“I can’t get her to urinate,” He-She blurted out in a gender-neutral and Tourette’s-like manner.

Um … sorry to hear that … I have irritable bowel syndrome.

I didn’t really know how to respond.  Sure, Ollie had been known to withhold pee when he was distracted by a blade of grass, a pigeon, the faint smell of fried chicken, or another dog, but I’m fairly sure that was never the first thing I said to people I met on the streets of Philadelphia.

Moreover, everyone knows that dogs pee. They don’t “urinate.” They do not evacuate their bladders.  I cannot imagine how much like a jackass I would have sounded if I’d used that word when Sloth and I bickered about which of us would be taking Ollie for his bedtime constitutional.

“Husband, it is your turn to ensure that our canine, Ollie, urinates prior to retiring for the evening. He has not urinated in several hours and if he does not urinate outside now, he may urinate within the domicile later. I would prefer that no urination take place within said domicile, as the plush beige carpet already emits a urine-esque odor. Ergo, please take Ollie outside and see that he urinates.”

In the end, I merely chuckled politely in response to the gender-unknown dog owner. I wished I’d had some pee-inducing wisdom for her, but the one piece of relevent advice I had didn’t seem like something He-She would want to hear: that the surest way to get a puppy to take a leak is to bring him inside and put him somewhere you DON’T want him to pee.

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