Adonis Would Have Hated Egg White Omelets Too

As bikini season nears this year, my husband and I plan to continue our annual traditions. I will busy myself exfoliating every inch of my body and my husband will embark on his usual journey through diet hell.

As soon as the snow ceased a few weeks ago, my husband stood in front of our bedroom mirror, sucked in his stomach, struck a bodybuilder pose, and remarked, “I think when people look at me, they compare me to Adonis. God, I look svelte.” He vigorously moved the waist of his pajama pants up and down in an effort to prove how the mere thought of dieting had caused him to already lose ten pounds and one size.

I calmly finished brushing my teeth and said, “You might want to stop holding your breath before you turn blue.” Seconds later he expelled all the air in his lungs—a decision that fortunately saved his life but unfortunately caused his stomach to balloon back to its original shape. He sighed. Reality entered the room with much less enthusiasm than fantasy had a few minutes earlier.

“I know, I know,” he threw his hands up in the air. “It’s time for me to make a (dramatic pause for him to make the quote signs with his fingers) ‘lifestyle change.’”

As we headed into the kitchen to embark on our tenth annual (dramatic pause for me to make the quote signs with my fingers) “lifestyle change,” I knew I was once again in for a good time. My husband, who has never had much willpower, immediately began frantically foraging through the cupboards. “I’m hungry and I feel weak,” he announced.

“You’ve been dieting for approximately five minutes,” I said while handing him a low-fat yogurt and a handful of blueberries. He briefly glanced at the food I placed in front of him, ate everything in two bites, and then stared at me, silently willing me with his eyes to give him something made from bacon grease. “That’s all you can have for the next three hours,” I informed him. He looked at me like I had just sold his beloved puppy. To say things went downhill from there is an understatement.

The next night after I placed a tray of hot rolls on the counter and turned to stir the soup on the stove, someone darted into the room. I peeked behind me and saw my husband standing nervously behind his chair at the table. He wore guilt better than anyone I knew. I set the spoon down, walked over to his chair, and pulled it out. There sat a delicious hot roll that he had snatched from the tray and carefully squirreled away like … well … a squirrel. “I see we have an extra guest for dinner tonight,” I remarked.

“I licked that,” he said as I picked up the roll and took it back to the tray. “Seriously honey,” the kleptomaniac added, “no one should eat it but me. I think I’m getting a sore throat.” He coughed for good measure.

The next night, a piece of chicken mysteriously disappeared when I turned to mash the potatoes. I’m still searching for the bone. A few days ago, someone ate all the chips out of the bag except one. Last night, I found him searching under the couch cushions. He said he was looking for loose change for the car wash. I think we all know he was really looking for M&Ms.

Don’t feel badly for me. After ten years, I’m really getting used to the trip through diet hell. It’s too bad I’m the only one. Just wait until he finds out I’m making egg white omelets for dinner. Moahaha.

By Vicky DeCoster

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The Power of One Word

Twenty-four years ago after I met the man who would one day become my husband, I sat at a restaurant table with a girlfriend and gushed over his qualities. “He’s so handsome, smart, and oh my goodness, he is the best at telling stories!”

It’s funny how life comes full circle and then screeches to a stop right in front of your living room couch, as it did for me the other night.

My husband was in the middle of yet another one of his famous long stories—the kind that includes more details than The Federalist Papers and more descriptive adjectives than Fifty Shades of Grey. By the time he wrapped up his latest tale, I had mentally planned our family meals for the next three months, contemplated the theory of relativity, and escaped to a Caribbean island where I happily co-existed with no one else but the ghost of Gilligan.

“I took Oak Street to work today. You know the way, right honey?” I smiled and nodded as if urging him to actually continue. “I drove past the home improvement store, the car lot, and our accountants’ office, and then managed to snag a great spot next to my office building. The sky was blue, the grass was green, the birds were singing, a soft breeze was blowing, and oh, did I mention I found a scratch on my bumper?”

My eyes glazed over like a donut while I secretly wondered if there was a point to this story.

He continued, “More about that scratch later in the story. So I got into the office and realized I was hungry. It was almost like someone was reading my mind because lo and behold, there was a plate of delicious cookies right there in the break room, calling my name. There were chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and even molasses cookies. Oh wait … let me back up for a minute. Did I mention that I ran into Sylvia outside the building? She said she saw you at the grocery store the other day, but she didn’t have makeup on and her hair was a mess. She’s had the worst time lately. Did I tell you about her mother and her bout with irritable bowel syndrome?”

There was no question I had to do something or there wouldn’t be a tomorrow for either one of us. Then the angels sang, the clouds parted, and I saw a rainbow with just one word at the end of it. I blurted, “Anywaaaaaaaay …”

He stopped in mid-sentence. Something flickered in his eyes. I’m pretty sure it was his brain rewiring. Then he said, “Oh yeah, all I really wanted to tell you is that I had the best chocolate chip cookie today. We should check out Chubby’s bakery this weekend.”

Wow. Who knew the power of just one word?

My husband is still the best storyteller around. But I’ll admit, it takes one to know one. Did I ever tell you the story about how we met? It is the funniest story ever. I was at an outdoor concert with a girlfriend. I rode my mountain bike there. That bike had the weirdest tires. My neck used to really hurt after a ride. I wonder why? It was a hot evening and mosquitos were everywhere. I had the best hair that night though. That was back when I used hot rollers and lots of hairspray. Oh, and my outfit. I have to tell you about my outfit. Spandex shorts and a cropped top. It was truly spectacular.

Anywaaaaaaaay …

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” —Philip Pullman

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Political Ads Saved My Marriage

The barrage of political ads began shortly after the July 4th holiday in my neck of the woods—or at least it seemed that way. In reality, the first commercial aired in early September during a news broadcast, a time when my husband normally would take full advantage of a droning voice to take a nap he later would deny taking.

As the candidate romped in a park with his family and dog, kissed babies, happily shook hands with his constituents, and bravely posed for a close-up that demonstrated obvious excellent dental hygiene, my husband’s eyes popped open. He watched attentively for approximately six seconds of the thirty-second advertisement before his face turned red and he spurted at the screen, “That’s a bunch of malarkey!”

“He can’t hear you,” I gently reminded my husband as I pushed the mute button on the remote and silenced the candidate’s voice—at least for the next 24 seconds. But there was no stopping my husband at this point. He, the one who earned a degree in Political Science in college, obviously needed to make several points to anyone who would listen. The dog quickly ran to her crate. The kids scattered to their rooms. I mumbled a flimsy excuse that I had to wash my hair.

Five minutes later, I returned to the living room where I found my husband in the same position on the couch, intently watching yet another political ad. As the candidate smiled broadly for the camera, my husband, right on cue, shouted, “Give it up, Paul Politician!”

Things went on like this for weeks until one night late in September when I did something absolutely unthinkable. I turned off the television, right in the middle of a lengthy political ad for a candidate claiming to have performed at least two acts of heroism in the last year. My husband, who looked shocked, quickly swallowed the drawn-out explanation of several policies on the candidate’s agenda he had been ready to spew at any minute. We stared at each other like two political candidates ready to debate on a stage in front of a national television audience. I was prepared to take a stand on one important issue: my sanity. “I like silence,” I said, “and I already know who has my vote.”

After a moment of silence, my husband took a stand on one important issue as well: keeping me happy. “Me too,” he said as he stood up from the couch. “Let’s take the dog for a walk and watch the sunset together.”

And that is the story of how political ads saved my marriage. I am Vicky DeCoster and I approved this message.

P.S. Holiday ads start tomorrow.

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Birds Have It Easy

There we were. Alone at last. Just the two of us: my husband behind the wheel, me in the passenger seat. We had just dropped off our daughter at camp and were ready to embark on the three-hour drive home. No kids. No dog. Just us.

My husband turned on the radio. I rolled down my window, put my feet on the dashboard, closed my eyes, and began thinking—which sometimes is not a good thing. “Birds have it easy,” I said to my husband. “They incubate their eggs for approximately two weeks, and then spend another two weeks raising their young until they leave the nest and fly away forever.”

“Try not to think too much,” my husband replied with the standard reply he always gives when I think too much. Unfortunately, it was too late.

As we all know, humans don’t have it quite as easy. My husband and I have been sitting on our nest for nearly twenty years, feeding our young, helping them with homework, offering unsolicited dating advice, and accompanying them on college visits. Not that we are complaining. We love being parents. But as the wind blew my hair and the sounds of the Steve Miller Band filled the car, I was suddenly reawakened to the woman I once was, before I became “Mom.”

I reached over and turned up the radio. “Some people call me the Space Cowboy …,” I loudly sang.

My husband didn’t need any encouragement as he threw his head back and crooned along with me.

Our singing slowly faded as we slipped into the comfortable silence two people share after being married for a long time. It was a beautiful summer evening. My husband tapped the steering wheel in rhythm with the song.

I closed my eyes again and smiled. In that moment, I allowed myself to embrace my seven-day freedom from motherhood. For one whole week, I wouldn’t have to ask my daughter, “Where are you going? What time will you be home? Does your car have enough gas? Why don’t you ever clean your room?” It seemed like heaven.

As our car sped past one cornfield after another and the miles separated us even further from our daughter, I knew she was probably already in the midst of her own form of heaven, secretly grateful that for one whole week, she wouldn’t have to listen to me ask, “Where are you going? What time will you be home? Does your car have enough gas? Why don’t you ever clean your room?”

I brushed my wind-blown hair out of my eyes and gazed out the window at the crops. Together, my daughter and I were welcoming our newfound independence. We were both learning how to live without each other—she for the first time and me again. It was scary and exciting all at the same time. Even though I knew she would eventually take a different path that would lead her away from her father and me, and that was okay. During that three-hour car ride, I had allowed myself to envision what life would be like in a few years—and I liked it.

I think the birds are onto something big. Maybe having an empty nest isn’t so bad after all.

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.”

—Joyce Maynard

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Yes Kids, Your Parents Were Once Super Cool

It all started with a Throwback Thursday status update on Facebook. Seconds after I posted a perfectly lovely photo of middle school me playing the cello dressed in purple suede hot pants with a matching vest, my son emerged from his bedroom for the first time in three days and muttered, “I need to move out of this town. That picture is not cool at all, Mom. Not cool.”

Even though no one was holding me down and forcing me to defend my adolescent fashion choices to a teenager, I knew I couldn’t just sit idly and listen to him tarnish the cool image I once worked so hard to attain. “Hey, I’ll have you know that suede hot pants were totally in style back then,” I retorted a little too defensively. He grunted while attempting to devour the entire contents of the refrigerator in four seconds flat. “And I’ll have you know that I was super popular in middle school,” I added for good measure. I didn’t feel he needed to know that I was definitely super popular … with all the other nerdy kids or that one of those nerdy kids had recommended I wear pantyhose and open-toed sandals with those suede shorts, which of course, I did.

While he continued eating, grunting, and believing I was the least cool person he had ever met, I found a box of old photos in the basement. “Look,” I said as I returned to the kitchen and placed a photo in front of him. He groaned. I smiled. In a time when presidents were thrown out of office, peace signs were more prevalent than stop signs, and Madonna was buying her first pointy bra, there I stood in all my glory, next to my locker. I didn’t think there was a single person who could legitimately dispute my obvious coolness in high school. After all, anyone who was anyone back in those days definitely had permed hair, eyeglasses the size of two fried eggs, and a polyester disco shirt.

My son flipped the photo over and pushed it back toward me. “Mom, seriously, I’m eating.”

I pulled out another photo and held it up for his viewing pleasure. “You see this? Here I am before prom with my date, Mike McGoo, star football player.”

My son rolled his eyes. “Nice dress.”

I turned the photo around and admired my baby blue gown with a ruffle that graced the top of my platform shoes. Mike McGoo stood stiffly next to me with a smile plastered on his face that clearly indicated he was ecstatically happy he had chosen the hippest girl in school to attend prom with him.

I sighed as I placed the photo back in the box and closed the lid on my super cool past. I knew there was no convincing him. After all, my parents had once tried to persuade me that they too were super cool. But I knew better. What kind of cool person would ever dream of wearing white bobby socks with a poodle skirt? Or a hat with a business suit? Certainly, I was no dummy, especially when it came to fashion.

“Mom, just promise me, no more Throwback Thursday posts on Facebook, okay?” my son begged as I walked out of the kitchen.

I turned around and nodded. I didn’t feel he needed to know that I had my fingers crossed under that box of photos. That’s the kind of thing super cool people do, just in case you were wondering.

By Vicky DeCoster, All Rights Reserved

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Pre-Oscars Movie Viewing Fuels Popcorn Battle Once Again

Last weekend as the movie theater lights dimmed, the previews began, and the music blared, my husband and I looked at each other, nodded, and turned back to watch the screen. With a large popcorn bucket precariously balanced between our two seats, we looked like any other couple ready to sit back, share a snack, and enjoy one of the Oscar-nominated movies. But unbeknownst to everyone around us, we were not just like any other couple. We were a couple firmly entrenched in a never-ending clash of wills that first began twenty-three years ago on one of our first dates.

It was 1991. My love for my husband-to-be (HTB) was even bigger than my hair. We were seeing our first movie together: City Slickers. As we settled into our seats with a large bucket of popcorn between us, suddenly everything I thought I knew about my HTB flew out the door of the movie theater.

As the lights dimmed, the previews began, and the music blared, I turned to look at my HTB, smiled, and daintily placed my fingers in the popcorn bucket. As I placed three kernels of corn into my mouth and turned back to the screen, I heard a strange noise. Intrigued, I looked at my HTB who had suddenly transformed into a less furry version of Cookie Monster. As he stuck his hand back in the popcorn bucket, pulled out a handful, and shoved it all in his mouth at once, I swear I heard him say, “Num, num, num.” I looked down at the bucket. Half the popcorn was gone already. How did this happen? I frantically grabbed three more kernels and popped them in my mouth. He grabbed a handful and shoved thirty-five kernels in his mouth. Three. Fifty. Three. Seventy-five. In a matter of minutes, my husband had devoured nearly the entire bucket of popcorn. My stomach rumbled. He patted his stomach, leaned over, and whispered, “I’m stuffed, how about you?”

Fast forward twenty-three years to a dark movie theater. It was 2014 and my love for my husband was still big, even though my hair wasn’t. During all those years, we had become used to sharing most everything with each other: a checking account, countless bars of soap, and even a toothbrush on one memorable camping trip when I forgot my own. But when it came to popcorn … well, let’s just say that was still a work in progress.

As I daintily placed my fingers in the popcorn bucket, pulled out three kernels, and popped them in my mouth, I heard my husband’s hand enter the bucket. I may be older, but thankfully, I still have my hearing, cat-like reflexes, and peripheral vision. Before he could blink an eye, I grabbed his hand, which was full of popcorn, and shook it until just three kernels remained between two fingers. I smiled. His stomach rumbled. Then we laughed together because both of us knew that although he hadn’t changed his popcorn eating habits since that date long ago, one thing had: the movie theater now offered free popcorn refills.

Twenty-three years ago, I was a little more googly-eyed when it came to love. Although age brings things we don’t really want like aching joints, reading glasses, and hair in places that shouldn’t have hair, I like to think that age also brings wisdom about relationships and what is really important in life.

One day, I imagine my husband and I will be happily spending our days rocking on our front porch talking about our grandchildren, our doctor’s appointments, and where we think we left our reading glasses last. As the afternoon turns into dusk, I’ll ask him,”Do you want me to make some popcorn?” and he’ll answer, “Go find my teeth, honey.” Moments later, I’ll scoot my rocker next to his, place the bowl between us, and turn to look at him, knowing it’s not about how small or big our handfuls are, but that we are still sharing a bowl of popcorn after all these years. Then, I’ll eat three kernels, he’ll eat thirty-five, and we’ll laugh just like always have while the world goes by.

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Who Are You Again?

Who are you? Those three words were screaming through my brain like a runaway train when a woman I swore I’d never seen before in my life shouted my name in a parking lot the other day.

As she approached and asked question after question about me, my children, and my work, I could not for the life of me remember who she was. While I frantically scanned her uniform for a name tag and mentally ran through a list of names, I cheerfully answered her questions with probably a little more detail than interested her. But little did she know that on the inside, I was stalling, freaking out, and planning my escape route.

Want the cold, hard truth? This is what happens when the stars unalign, hormones dry up and blow away forever, and tiny aliens invade an aging brain and scramble it like eggs.

As sweat rolled down my armpits and into my shoes, I tried to recall all the tricks for remembering names. Unfortunately, the only trick I could remember was how to make a coin disappear. Seven minutes later, the woman had learned more about what had happened to me in the last six months than my husband knew. As she reached out for a hug, I embraced her and enthusiastically remarked, “It was soooo great to see you again!” I knew that one day I would really mean it … when I figured out who she was.

Thank goodness I’m not the only one who is suffering from memory loss. Yesterday, while I was feverishly searching for the W-2 form I had somehow misplaced, my husband came into the kitchen, looked up at the ceiling for five minutes, and then walked out. “I’ll be back when I remember what I came in here for,” he yelled over his shoulder. This morning, he was telling someone at breakfast about the wonderful meal he ate last night at a local restaurant. After he completed a lengthy description of a beef and bean enchilada that would make a food critic proud, he suddenly realized there was only one problem: he couldn’t remember where he ate the spectacular dinner. “What was the name of that restaurant again?” he asked me in a panic while the person patiently waited. I just wish I could have helped him. I was too busy trying to remember where I put my wallet.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I know it could be worse. Every night, I thank my lucky stars that I’m not wandering around the neighborhood in my underwear, howling at the moon, and calling out for one of my sixteen cats. Not that I could recall the cat’s name anyway. Or the way to get home. Or even that there’s a moon in the sky after dark.

Sharon! See, I knew I’d finally remember that woman’s name. I should call her up. Maybe she knows the name of that restaurant. Now if I could only figure out what I did with her number.

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