Fall Fashion Magazines Not Based in Reality

There is something that compels me each year at this time to buy the fall fashion issue of Vogue. Why I have this compulsion is a true mystery, as I spend sixty percent of my life in generic beige twill pants and a black Gap t-shirt, and the other forty percent in my pajamas – one of the perks of being a writer and working at home. That being said, I also don’t want to show up at an event this fall and find out that shoulder pads are back. Or maybe I do.

There is some bad news on the fashion front, my friends. First of all, big purses are still in, only now they are even bigger. Some look like they could hold a Volkswagen bug or a baby elephant. And all that fringe! I personally have never liked fringe on anything, and I suggest that unless you want to look like a leftover flower child of the sixties, you, dear reader, avoid it.

It seems that every fall the flower child look is re-marketed in a way that will make it more appealing to women. This year you will see the words “bohemian,” “eclectic,” and “global ethnic” used to describe the layers of mismatched patterned fabrics that somehow mistakenly found themselves together on one unfortunate body. Although these outfits might be appropriate if you are thinking of joining a Ukrainian circus troupe or a caravan of traveling gypsies. Continue reading

Earthquakes, Smog, and Now Killer Bees

(Originally one of my columns from The Beach reporter, but still could apply today!)

Perhaps you have heard about the killer bees that are moving toward Los Angeles. They are now in the Mexican state of Sonora, and will be in Tucson next year. Then they head to San Diego, and you guessed it – Disneyland.

Honest, I’m not making this up. They only travel about 300 miles a year, so we have a few years before they arrive in L. A., but already emergency plans are being made, hot lines assembled, and schoolchildren being educated about not poking around in hives.

It’s not enough to worry about earthquakes, global warming, polluted oceans, razor blades in Halloween apples, radon seeping through your floors, and lead in your pipes. I’m already afraid to let my kids go anywhere without me for the rest of their lives.

Now this. Killer bees. How did they choose L. A., anyway? I’ve never seen a beehive in a palm tree. Continue reading

Searching for the Elusive Beanie Baby

(This was originally published in the Chicago Tribune on 4/18/97. See also my 11/19/16 essay about trying to find Wembley Fraggle for my son for Christmas one year.)

I hate to admit this, but I will risk the exposure and ridicule. I recently stood in line for twenty minutes at a McDonald’s just so I could get a Teenie Beanie Baby (I got Patti, the purple platypus).

It was dinnertime and my kids did need to eat, so theoretically I had an excuse to be there.
I ignored the drive-through window because there were at least ten cars backed out into the street. And for some reason the parking lot was really full too.

When I got inside I realized why. There were scores of us – moms and dads of all races, ages, and walks of life – there on a mission. One thing united us, you could call it a kinship of sorts. People talked to each other in line, people joked from one line to the next about why they were there, all the while glancing nervously toward the counter. What if they run out? Continue reading

Pass That Tuna Casserole, Please

(Unearthed from my archives – this essay was published in the Chicago Tribune on 11/29/94.)

Every now and then a journalist comes up with an idea for a newspaper column that makes other journalists straighten up, push back their rusty, squeaky chairs from their blank computers and say, “Now why didn’t I come up with that?”

That’s not the way I felt when I read about a new syndicated column to be penned by news personality Cokie Roberts and her husband Steve, a senior staff writer for U. S. News and World Report.

Their idea is to write a column together that will give readers an idea what it would be like to eavesdrop on a typical conversation at the Roberts’ dinner table. Topics might include the balanced budget amendment, health care, behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealings of Congress and presumably other timely national and world events. You know, stuff you talk about at dinner all the time.

I had the idea for a similar column years ago, but after recording several conversations at our dinner table, I decided the world would be a better place if those conversations remained private. Continue reading