Sometimes, it’s the nuts who are the most dangerous

photo credit: JoePhilipson via photopin cc
photo credit: JoePhilipson via photopin cc

It’s nuts. Absolutely nuts.

The thought that a peanut – the epitome of the tiny, poster child for the puny – could stop a kid in her tracks. Represent such a threat to a child’s existence that even its airborne presence could result in anaphylactic shock.

Restrict her eating habits for the rest of her life. A peanut. A damn peanut.

That you’d need to check every label, fret over every birthday cake.

That you’d worry about what’s in the rice in the Chinese take-out or in the enchilada sauce in the cantina because really, how do you ask if the kitchen uses peanut oil or has any chance of contamination from peanuts, when you don’t speak the same language?

How do you stress how crucial it is to know – really, life or death?

photo credit: chotda via photopin cc
photo credit: chotda via photopin cc

There are other allergies – dairy and wheat, for example – but when your kid receives the diagnosis she’s allergic to peanuts, in the most severe degree, everything changes.

My kiss is toxic. Well, once it was. Two hours after I ate a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, I planted one on Marie’s cheek as I put her into her car seat.

Nearly instant hives followed, as did other signs, as time went on: Belly aches after a cupful of Chex mix recipes. Feverish conditions with each order of Chick-fil-A nuggets – her favorite. The tests confirmed it.


It’s a simple existence, really: Read, every label on every box and every bag.

Remember, every time – EVERY TIME – to ask the manager, or the chef, not just your waiter, about nuts, peanuts, tree nuts being used in the kitchen.

Look for ice-cream scoops used in nut-containing ice cream.

Learn to jab your baby’s thigh with a possible life-saving dose of steroids, because even when you read and you look and you ask and you learn, there’s a chance someone deep-fried a Snickers bar in the fry grease, or the last kid to sit at that table smeared peanut butter on the chair handles.

Marie’s sisters have been stellar. So has Marie.

I couldn’t pick up a box on the cereal aisle without being asked, “nuts in it, daddy?” They’ll nag me to ask about peanut oil, because of that one time we’d gone to KFC and learned they just made the switch from vegetable oil, that week.

Hey, peanut oil is cheaper than vegetable oil.

photo credit: Chapendra via photopin cc
photo credit: Chapendra via photopin cc

A boy in Marie’s kindergarten class once held out a Butterfinger, still wrapped, from his Lunchable to the teacher. He treated it like nuclear waste. He gave it up because he didn’t want Marie to get sick.

You appreciate the advocates. The man in the bakery bound and determined to find a pack of cookies without nuts, just for Marie. The mom who saves the pretzel bag at the school dance for us to check. The snack families who phone the night before to make sure what they bought is OK.

Nut allergies do polarize, though.

You will have ugly moments: The classmate who brandished the PB&J in the nut-free classroom at Marie’s table, and when Marie reminded her she was allergic, sneered, “Just hold your breath.”

Adults who hate a peanut-free classroom, citing the hassle of spreading mayo and ham on a sandwich instead of daring lunch moms to stop the influx of the nutty contraband.


“I don’t check everyone’s lunch,” one mom said. “I doubt anyone else does, either.”

Hey, her son really likes peanut butter.

Know what?


My daughter really likes to breathe.

When you’ve had a day in which paramedics had to administer oxygen to your kid because some way, somehow, her “peanut-free” lunch of school chicken nuggets, eaten in a “peanut-free” classroom, still resulted in a reaction that compromised her oxygen levels, you’ll understand that maybe your “harmless” lunch might have contaminated the wrong table on the wrong day.

There are no colored wristbands for peanut-allergy awareness.

No trendy 5Ks to run.

No celebrity spokespeople championing the cause of responsible peanutting.

There are heroes, though.

There are teachers who, when they learn they have a peanut-allergy child in their class, declare their classroom peanut-free and even post signs. Then, when the push-back began from parents who needed to not only know why and how but, really, who would have the gall to deny their angels their peanut-butter crackers during those terribly long school hours, gave them the ultimate reason:

I’m the one who’s allergic, she said.

End of story.

Well done, Mrs. Sizemore.

You’re absolutely nuts, you know.

Perfection Pending

When first graders attack, at least they apologize eloquently

photo credit: #221/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #221/366 via photopin (license)

Pacifist prison wardens? Tenderhearted bouncers? Forgetful waiters?

You’ve got your troubles, I’ve got mine, brother.

For I am Lunch Dad. Hear me roar.

When the call goes out for volunteers to run herd during lunch, I answer.

The 30-minute drive to get there? Worth it, every time. Giving Grace’s awesome teacher a moment’s peace to nosh on a turkey club? Surprising Grace in the chow line for a steaming tray of chicken triangles and a carton of chocolate milk?

Being bear-hugged by Ewoks? Storytime and Hangman and making origami?

photo credit: Tempting... via photopin (license)
photo credit: Tempting… via photopin (license)

A stellar afternoon. Usually. But on this particular day, it felt like Alcatraz.

One day later, I received a gift from the class: A paper-clipped stack, an eighth-of-an-inch high, of that little blue-and-red-lined paper – you know, the stuff that helps guide us as we scribble lower-case W’s and practice that swinging loop on our cursive F’s. A blue-lined sticky note clung to the top of the pile:

Mr. Pacheco –

Please find apologies from our class. I do believe that they are truly sorry for their actions. I hope you come back again this year!


Mrs. S

Red Apple

Check out my lunch-dad stats: 3,294 hugs received. One kiss on the forehead. 2,103 heart-felt hand-holds. 973 go-gurts, Sunny D’s and thermoses opened for kids. 77 delighted squeals, give or take a dozen, spread over nine years on the job.

Oh, and a cupful of praise from teachers along the way.

Mrs. S felt the need to defend my honor as if I were some sort of noble Occupy Classroom martyr.

I’d been sacrificed, among:

  • the ghosts of butt-shaking dances
  • kids perched on tables and chairs
  • piggy-back rides given, or taken
  • sneaky maneuvers past me to erase names of boys and girls cited for naughty behavior
  • utter misuse of bathroom privileges
  • gross misconduct with strips of yarn
  • a spirited auction for a mini puffed-rice treat, drizzled with chocolate
  • and the un-American and inexcusable (but admittedly funny) humiliation of a simple white-bread hot dog bun  – all in the din of tiny voices that find power collectively busting through that level 3, 4, 5 – (5,000?) speaking voice

No bleeding. Minimal crying. Moderate tattle-taling. One child, shattered because she didn’t hear the story read that she picked. Another kid, remorseful when I scrawled her name on the board for inciting Los Angeles-caliber rioting.

But let’s see your average Lakers fan rioter pen notes as sweet as these:

Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for what my friends did. We really hope he comes back to do lunch again. My apologies.

Apology accepted. It’s very big of you to apologize on their behalf. They owe you one.

Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I’m sorry for the things I did today. It won’t happened again. I really hope you will come back.

Thanks. The doctor said my limp will last only a few months, and my memory will return.

What’s your name again?


Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for being not at a level 0 for the 15 minutes. My behavior will not happen again.

Aw, that’s OK. I’m at a level zero all day at work until I have a Coke Zero. I feel you, kid.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for talking. The behavior you saw will not happen again. We want you to come back.

Now you have me worried about what I didn’t see. What happens after the weenie dance?


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for rampaging, getting mad. I won’t do it again. I promise.

I’m willing to forgive and forget because you used the word “rampaging.” Well done, lad.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry that my class was so talky today at lunch. That won’t happen ever again.

Talky is fine. Ask the hens around me where I used to work. Oops. They read this column! Next.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for yelling. Hope you can come back. I am very, very, very sorry you feel bad.

Know when you told me, “You won’t write me down. You don’t even know my name?” I cheated by asking one of your classmates for help. It wasn’t really magic. Just kinda.


Mr. Pacheco,

The “one-hour drive just for nothing” will not happen again. I will not do the stuff I did again.

I’ve been quoted! I forgot I was wearing a teacher microphone. Good thing I didn’t cuss.


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

You can feel safe to come and not see or hear us do it. I hope you will feel comfortable to come.

I was SO very brave; were you the one stroking my hair as I hid under the desk?


Dear. Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry for shaking my booty. I promise it won’t happen again. I hope you come back.

At least once a soccer season, I mutter that too: “I am sorry for shakin’ my booty.”


Dear Mr. Pacheco,

I am sorry about lunch. Will you come back? I hope we’ll never do it again. Please come back! Because you are silly and fun! Come back!!!!

If ever a letter clinched the deal, here it is. I’ll be back, sweetie.

I won’t desert you. Remember the boy yelling “Come back, Shane!” in that movie? I’m not about to become Shane. It’d be like being a window washer, who’s afraid of heights. A baker, who hates to wake up early. A Bobcats fan, who likes to mingle with thousands of friends.

I am Lunch Dad, after all. Hear me roar.

5 for Friday: Go ask daddy about reproductive science, canine cancer, and the power of a woman’s legs

photo credit: IMG_0541 via photopin (license)
photo credit: IMG_0541 via photopin (license)

Ah, more questions.

They never cease, from the kids; this keeps we dads mentally sharp. It’s sudoku without the math. Kind of.

One question came whistling in from left field recently – about whether girls can marry girls.

It came on mom’s watch, so she got to field that one, and did quite well.

The rest were mine:

1. Do animals ever have twins?

photo credit: david and isaac via photopin (license)
photo credit: david and isaac via photopin (license)

Technically, when I see a litter, I’m thinking, twins, triplets, quadruplets, and whatever sphere Kate Goesling and the Octomom reside. But technically, those aren’t twins, triplets, quadruplets, Goselingets or Octomomets. Twins happen only when zygotes split in half, says science. And the Internet.

See, when a critter has a litter, it’s the result of multiple female gametes being released. It’s like when they first open the doors at Wal-mart on Black Friday. Only far less deadly. Only one other animal – besides humans – gets to enjoy the feat of monozygotic twins: The armadillo.

And with the armadillo, you’ll sometimes get not twins, but quadruplets, from two binary fissions of a single fertilized oocyte. I know, I know, way technical. There’s a period of arrested development, too, just after the embryo develops to hatchling blastocyst, therefore …

Ah, heck with it. The trivia answer is armadillo. Let’s move on.

2. How can you tell if a person was a boy or a girl if all you have left is a skeleton?

photo credit: Skeleton - French anatomical engraving via photopin (license)
photo credit: Skeleton – French anatomical engraving via photopin (license)

Well, boys are tall, and girls are short, but apparently, this isn’t the fool-proof method. Plus, you know daddy’s skeleton will be shorter than, say, Kerri Walsh’s. (Let’s not think about daddy’s skeleton for now. Or Kerri’s. Or why they’d be found together.)

First, like with young, skinny Elvis, it’s all in the pelvis. We fellows have titled-forward sacrum; you girls’ are tilted back. Your ilia are also spread more, to give you a bigger pelvic outlet (presumably for birthing). Ours is all closed off, like our minds, sometimes.

So, what if the pelvis is out of the picture, and you have only a skull? (Let’s break here to hope that you’re never in a spot, unless it’s forensically or scientifically, in which you’re shifting through bones to identify gender. OK, back to the program.)

We guys have more pronounced occipital protuberance and mastoid process. Basically, thicker skulls. Also, our teeth are bigger, our jaws more square (yours are more gracile and beautiful), and our brows are heavier. This is to remind both genders that we’re more closely linked to Cro Magnons, somehow.

Man, these answers are getting heavy. Let’s just go with this: If the hips are narrow and the skull is thick and caveman-like, it’s probably a dude.

3. Can a dog get cancer from second-hand smoke?

photo credit: mom, i thought we were staying home this year? : folsom street fair, san francisco (2012) via photopin (license)
photo credit: mom, i thought we were staying home this year? : folsom street fair, san francisco (2012) via photopin (license)

Yes they can, especially pooches with long snouts (which ought to spur scientists to study whether people with big noses are more likely to get cancer this way). Dogs have other worries, too, such as toxins in their vaccines and the plastic used to make their food dishes. Not to mention electric fences and dog catchers.

(Studies are still being done on these threats, though. The food dishes, not the electric fences.)

Second-hand smoke will affect anything with lungs, and it’s a great way to spread the love if you’re a smoker. Like that lady in the car with the panting dog that brought this question up in the first place.

4. What are lightsabers like? Are they so hot they melt things?

OK, my little Padawans, I knew this question would come at some time. Every father should have the Jedi talk with his children, preferably before they’re old enough to join the Rebel Cause.

Lightsabers are plasma weapons, meaning that they are designed, in part, to cut metal. Therefore, it would be irresponsible for me to have one in the house. Despite how I vote, I’m fine with others keeping weapons in their home, but I’ll defer, especially with something as potent as a lightsaber. It’s one thing to keep the bullets to your gun in a separate cabinet; it’s quite another to have a lightsaber around kids (I don’t think they even have safety switches).

Yes, lightsabers are so hot they melt things. I was confused at this as a boy, when Darth Vader cut down Ben Kenobi in that fateful duel on the Death Star. When Vader’s lightsaber hit Ben’s cloak (Ben totally gave himself up), Ben vanished into thin air. This is a Jedi trick, not the science of lightsabers. In reality, a lightsaber is so hot that it will cut through anything – metal, marble, Jedi limbs, and, I presume, roast beef.

Did I really just spend three paragraphs explaining lightsaber safety? I did. And I couldn’t have done it without help from this very cool website.

5. How come a girl can get a taxi by lifting her dress like this, and a guy can’t?

photo credit: A Jedi stopped by my house today and forgot his thingy...  It's mine now! via photopin (license)
photo credit: A Jedi stopped by my house today and forgot his thingy… It’s mine now! via photopin (license)

Man. I think I’d rather have fielded the question about girls marrying girls.

Legs. Well, they’re sort of the universal language. Hmm. (shifts uncomfortably.)

See, I know you saw Nancy Drew on The Hardy Boys hail a cab by showing a little leg. (Grace even demonstrated the technique.)

I think I have terrific legs for a 40-year-old guy, but I know flashing them won’t get me extra sprinkles on my ice cream, let alone a cab ride. This has nothing to do with my musculature, a little to do with how hairy my legs are, and mostly to do with supply and demand.

You know how on really cold soccer mornings, you’d love to have hot chocolate? It’s appealing. So too is ice-cold lemonade on your hottest soccer days. People will do whatever they can to get it. But try to sell the chilled lemonade in the winter or the hot chocolate in July, and, well, you’re not going to beat down any doors.

So dad’s legs – and most guys’ – are like hot chocolate on the Fourth of July. Nancy Drew’s are more lemonade on July 4. I know, I know, we both need the ride, so why the difference? And why does this matter?

Nancy Drew did this in the 1970s, as actress Pamela Sue Martin, whose cuteness really tends to grow on you. To me, and to the cabbie. But in 2012, it still happens. The London Daily Mail recently ran a story all about actress Scarlett Johansson nabbing a cab by just looking fly in in a skirt. (I have a feeling you might ask me next what “fly” means.)

But because you’re 7, Grace, and because my “male feminist” card trumps any prior or expired “leg man” card in my wallet, I’ll try and be a little cautious in my response: Cabbies will break for women who show a little leg because … well, it comes down to this: You know how we saw that rainbow the other day, and couldn’t stop looking at it?

Or how kids always pick the doughnut with the brightly colored frosting?

Or how the girl bird always picks the boy bird with the flashiest feathers?

Well, it’s kind of like that.

Scarlett Johansson’s legs are prettier than your dad’s.

Hers are the brightly-colored frosting, the flashy feathers, that will stop the cab in its tracks.

She’ll win, every time.

Unless your dad has a lightsaber.

📺 5 for Friday: TV dudes and women who shaped my childhood years

stormtrooper me today need my office
That’s me in that picture, getting ready to take on the short-track at Hickory Motor Speedway, back in the day.


On who you are. What you think. What you like, hate, want, aspire to be. There’s so much of it. Advertising. Social media. News media. Family. Friends. Your work environment. Before all this, though, there’s TV.

Fiction. Non-fiction. Animation.

Before you join the workforce, or the social media realm, or even the dating world, these influences have prepackaged you to an extent. Like to partake in fisticuffs and treat your lady as a prize? Perhaps you watched a fair share of Popeye.

Continue reading “📺 5 for Friday: TV dudes and women who shaped my childhood years”

Dad in the kitchen? Here’s 3 recipes even you can’t botch

photo credit: ....Tim via photopin cc
photo credit: ….Tim via photopin cc

I love food.

I know, Captain Obvious. Thing is, I also like to *make* food. The results are usually good. I have had two failures that come to mind: A Sprite cake that somehow galvanized into a bundt-shaped anvil, and awful salsa burgers that didn’t impress my three little part-Mexican jumping beans.

Otherwise, the kidlets tend to celebrate my creations.

Never mind that I always forget to put on a pot of vegetables when I cook, or that the kitchen looks like Badgdad when I’m finished.

Grace and I even put on a pretend cooking show.

I know it’d be a hit – a dad and baby in their pajamas, mucking up a kitchen until a pile of waffles or mountain of wings commences.

Grace one year even asked Santa for a chef’s hat.

Here’s a list of some of our greatest hits, as decided upon by the little three:


Not So Awful Waffles

breakfasts,food,waffles,butter,snacksWhat you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups warm milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What you’ll do:

Heat waffle iron. Beat eggs with whisk in medium bowl, just until they’re fluffy (I tried really hard to word this another way). Beat in the rest of the ingredients, but just until smooth. Spoon batter into waffle iron (did you remember to heat it?), and bake about 5 minutes, or until you see steam billowing out of the sides. Careful pulling them out – burned fingers aren’t a side dish.

photo credit: Food Thinkers via photopin cc
photo credit: Food Thinkers via photopin cc


Baked Chicken Wings (Extra messy for Elise)

What you’ll need:

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, pressed (don’t let the kids see you do this part)

1 tablespoon chili powder (optional)

2 teaspoons garlic powder

salt and ground pepper to taste

25 chicken wings

What you’ll do:

Preheat oven to 375. Mix olive oil, garlic, chili powder, garlic salt, salt, and pepper in large resealable bag. Seal and shake (the kids will fight over this job, unless the Wii is on, in which case it’s all yours). Add wings. Reseal, and shake it like your paycheck depends on it. Place wings on cookie sheet. Cook for 1 hour, or until they look crispy and sufficiently cooked.

Serve with “blue ranch,” as my kids call bleu cheese, and celery and carrots. Put three wings on their plate, and refuse to serve a fourth until the celery and carrots are also eaten. I’m not above using these tactics.


photo credit: 3liz4 via photopin cc
photo credit: 3liz4 via photopin cc

Crepes, for Creeps

What you’ll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

2 eggs

2 pinches of salt (give or take)

Delicious fillers: chocolate chips, creme cheese, jelly. Nutritional value optional.

More delicious toppers: syrup, powdered sugar, strawberries, blueberries, and did we mention chocolate chips?

What you’ll do:

Whisk up the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. Heat up a frying pan, and slide a bit of butter around it by tilting it around. (If you’re a child of the 80s, and you have a wok cluttering up your cabinets, I bet it would work really well for this. Not that I own a wok.)

Slap down about a hockey puck’s-worth of batter on the pan, and swish this around, too, to make it cover as much of the pan as possible. Use a circular motion, lest your crepes become the shape of Newfoundland and not the shape of a flattened-out hockey puck. It will take about 2 minutes for it to get about nearly as brown as your favorite blogger – then, it’s time to flip it, and get the white side right.

Keep it up until the batter’s gone. The French say you can freeze crepes by placing wax paper between them.

I don’t know about you, but there’s one term less likely to be uttered than “more broccoli, please” among my kids:

“What should we do with the leftover crepes, dad?”

This is America. Destroy your breakfast.

So, what recipes get rave reviews from your kidlets?

5 for Friday: Have a question, kids? Just go ask daddy

photo credit: #123/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #123/366 via photopin (license)

The questions never cease.

The girls are on to me, and know that I’m busy jotting down what they ask.

So sometimes, I don’t jot. I just answer.

Other times, I jot, and I research, and I answer. Maybe it’s no coincidence that this happens to happen with the coolest of questions, such as …

Continue reading “5 for Friday: Have a question, kids? Just go ask daddy”

Hispanic, Unemployed, and Yet, Republican


stormtrooper egg hatch

Every day feels like Saturday, y’all.

I feel like I’m 4. Or 94. I miss appointments. Forget which day the pool is closed. I could watch Price Is Right every day. (Not Saturday or Sunday, but I won’t know that until I try and tune it in and find Danger Rangers or This Week With George Stephanopoulos on the air instead.)

I’m not losing it, friends. I’m just, unemployed.


It’s given me time to work on my disc golf game (I shot 5-under at Mint Hill!). Play and run with the kids (they kick my butt, so I take them to a figure-8 track nearby so that the laps sort of meld into one another!).

Take a nap (such a good one that I woke up with a sore throat).

Continue reading “Hispanic, Unemployed, and Yet, Republican”

Five for Friday: Movies to watch with your kids when mom isn’t lookin’

movies lead
photo credit: DSC01754 via photopin (license)

I’ll buy chips for my kids on the way home from soccer practice.

Allow them to wrestle and chase each other. In the grocery store. Look the other way when they throw a little swagger in their soccer game. I’m a little funny, though, when it comes to movies.  My oldest is 14. She can watch PG-13 movies. But I cringe.

Not the language or violence, necessarily. But the themes. The innuendo. The … I dunno, sultry stuff.

Makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth and pee myself a little. I’d rather her see a car chase with a smash-up ending, hear more applications of the F-word, or get startled by a killer, zombie, or politician in the court room than to hear locker-room talk.

Continue reading “Five for Friday: Movies to watch with your kids when mom isn’t lookin’”

5 For Friday: 5 things I hate

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

I’m usually one to love. Write about love. Loving things.

But like vegetables, shin splints, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, love can’t exist without a dose or three of hate.

“Leave hate for Hitler,” I like to say. (OK, I don’t say it, yet, but I heard it in a movie, and it sounded cool.)

Inspired by the hateful words on (the author isn’t hateful – she’s honest, insightful and funny), here’s my list of 5 things I hate (I’d considered making it 10, but it didn’t make sense to double the dose on my Five For Friday theme that I got from another blogger, Krafty Kat).

1. Every country that goes against the U.S. in the Olympics.


The kids have picked up on this one, and it’ll mean talk about the difference between American pride and, um, being openly racist. It’s actually a fine line. We can stew over a Russian gymnast celebrating an American mistake, and rightly so, but the following exchange happened between my oldest two and me, in the presence of my sister, who was appalled:

Me: Dangit, the American didn’t win.

Elise: Who won?

Me: The French dude.

Elise: I hate the French.

Marie: I hate anyone who isn’t American.

They’re just learning about this great big world. Of course we don’t hate the French; of course, we don’t hate anyone who isn’t American. But the seeds for a healthy disdain for your rivals and the seeds for hating your rival sometimes get mixed in the same pack.

We’re working on that.

As American women’s soccer star Alex Morgan pointed out, “I wanted to beat Canada SO BAD.” This isn’t a bad thing to feel or say. As I said, we’re working on it … because it’s OK to really, really dislike your rivals.

2. The rivals: the Dodgers, Raiders, red wings, and lakers.

It’s OK to have rivals. That team you can’t stand. That school you have nightmares about your daughter choosing. I’ve always felt if the Broncos went 2-14, and beat the Raiders twice, it’s a great season.

I wonder how many of you noticed I won’t even capitalize the teams’ names. Rivals, though, are what gives sports such depth. They make winning sweeter, losing more bitter, and the desire to get back in and play again overwhelming.

Been part of a rivalry? You know how it feels. For every kid who wears a Duke jersey for a trip to Chapel Hill, or helps carry a rival-inspired trophy out of a stadium, or who has celebrated a title on a rival’s playing grounds, it’s a rich and delicious fabric in sports.

The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry has been explained as “just plain hate.”

I can associate.

3. Buying tortillas in the store.

I’d rather buy maxi pads or Preparation H. There’s just something fundamentally wrong. I’m no longer Catholic, but I’m fairly sure there must be a saint in the Latino Catholic church that watches over the coconut – you know, the one who is brown on the outside and white on the inside.

Saint Masa Trigo, forgive me my sins. I know I should be home making them myself.

My penance? Three Our Fathers, six Hail Marys, and 50 homemade tortillas.

During a shameful trip to Wal-mart, I felt self-conscious taking the white, er, easy way out with tortillas prepackaged in Trenton, N.J. When I decided on the even-cheaper Wal-mart brand and put down the Old El Paso, I did so in the presence of a young Latina.

She shook her head slowly and shopped on. My Latino card had been revoked.

What would abuela do?

Like I was no longer permitted to yell “aye! aye! aye!” during a Spanish polka song (OK, so this isn’t something I have the opportunity to do every day, but still … ), or to bark out “primera a la pelota!” during a soccer game (translated: “first to the ball!”), or to order enchiladas in the Mexican restaurant and use a Spanish accent.

4. Jacking up a favorite shirt by slopping on it.

It’s one thing when a little butter seeped through the end of my tortilla, or pizza sauce dribbled. It’s somehow all the more tragic when the offending spot-creator is something as deplorable as Italian dressing.

I mean, I’ve just relegated a shirt – probably a favorite – to the charity/yard sale pile, all because I thought I’d go all Dr. Oz and douse my salad (what am I doing eating salad in the first place? I’m a carnivore. It better have had bacon bits) with Italian dressing and pass on the Thousand Island, Buttercorn Ranch or Super Creamy Oh So Dreamy Caesar dressing?

Man, I’m getting all steamed up just thinking about it.

Damn salads. Trouble. Leave them for the rabbits.

5. Losing a golf disc to a sneaky kid. Or forest snake. Or wilderness nymph who doesn’t even grant me wishes.


More likely, it’s just someone who happens by and decides not to call the cellphone number I’ve scrawled in Sharpie underneath. (Who am I kidding? Half of the discs in my bag have someone else’s name and number on them, and I never call them. It’s the one Old Testament part of me. You know, eye for an eye. We’ll get into this later).

Not to be insensitive to those who’ve lost pets, but when you have to walk away from a thicket or creek without one of your discs, and it’s because you made a lousy throw, it kind of feels like coming home from the vet without your pet.

You feel empty. You’re mad at the world and mad at yourself.

You stew over your emotions. Place blame. On Dodgers fans or Latvians. Or whoever invented the machine that can make tortillas in mass quantities and the companies that are big enough to sell them for 99 cents a bag.

Makes me want to add extra bacon bits, and maybe creamy French dressing, to my salad.

Oh, wait.

Not French.