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Dear Dominic and Gideon,

I see my friends posting about prom and honor societies and college visits and whatnot. Though part of me wishes you wanted the traditional high school milestones, most of me loves that you are doing things your own way.

For example, you eschewed the actual prom to have your own prom in a friend’s back yard. (Props to that mom: She did a great job!)

This is a fancy party! (Photo credit: Petra McKinnon)

And no one seemed to care about dates. It was one big friend group.

Girls seem to be an afterthought, which is fine by me. I’m not ready to be a grandma! I do wonder if I’m somehow a gang mom. What are those signs they are throwing? (Photo credit: Petra McKinnon)

I’m surprised there were real suits. You two had threatened to go to Actual Prom in your Spider-Man costumes.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I guess. It’s really par for the course for you and your pals. After all, this is how you go to school:

And how you go to Target:

I don’t know how you can go shopping. You spent all your money on a Batsuit.

My son, The Batman

It’s movie quality. It should be for the amount of money the two of you spent. (I still can’t believe you chipped in, Gideon.)

But you know what? You AREN’T spending money on drugs.

Your habits are nerdy and wholesome. I’m a fan.

And Dominic, you’ve been a Bat fan for your whole life, so I’m not surprised.

Uh oh. You spotted the Joker!

I love you both very much. And I love that you are individuals.

Stay Gold,
Mama

*Thanks and apologies to Frank.

Dear Musically Inclined Readers:

Last week’s trip to the karaoke bar made me really want a go-to karaoke song.

To be fair, it hasn’t been an urgent need. I’ve only participated in karaoke twice in my entire life.

The first time was at McDonough’s in Savannah. Some friends and I laughed our way through “Summer Nights.

The second time was in Japan at a neighborhood bar (aka some lady’s living room). The song was “American Pie.” You think you know that song until you try to sing it. (Go on. Give it a try.)

There’s a sweet spot for good karaoke songs.

It needs to be something like “Sweet Caroline” where there always will be audience participation.

But because I’m a very special snowflake, it can’t be something everyone sings (i.e., “Don’t Stop Believin’” or “Livin’ on a Prayer“).

And I cannot abide sad-sackery on a night out. No slow songs!

So what’s it going to be? “Ice Ice Baby” or “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)?” Should I channel Dee Snider or Cher?

What is your favorite song to sing or to hear in a karaoke bar? Tell me in the comments.

Thanks!
Beth

*In a metaphorical sense. I do not actually want to sing the blues. Shudder. Thanks, Billie!

When Vladimir Putin isn’t being an international jerk, he’s at Market Tavern singing “Sweet Caroline.”

Dear Hanley Market Tavern Regulars:

You sure know how to make a girl feel special. A little bit too special in a zoo exhibit kind of way.

When my friend Nick told me there was a “rough” pub in town that featured karaoke on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, I was agog.

Afternoon karaoke at a “rough” pub?

Yes, please.

Jesse’s Divide was opening for Nashville Pussy in Hanley, so I decided to go.

As they were playing on a Wednesday, I made a little trip to Market Tavern before I met my friend Hannah at the show.

I walked in to someone warbling a song I didn’t recognize. Then I realized it was supposed to be “Let It Go” from “Frozen.” That’s a bad AND good sign. It’s a good sign of bad karaoke.

Perfect.

I got a drink and chose a seat at the back of the bar where I could sit alone and not draw attention. Smart move.

It was in front of the men’s room. Not a smart move.

My first gentleman caller was a man with a fully tattooed face. Think knockoff version of The Enigma.

He asked me if was going to sing.

At least, I think that’s what he asked me.

He could have asked me if he could dismember me in the Gents, and I wouldn’t have known.

He was 102 and drunk with a very thick Stokie accent that was hard for these American ears to understand.

My view from the hostess stand for the men’s room.

My next new friend was a man with four teeth and four iron cross tattoos. Delightful! He also sported a Confederate flag wristband.

He wanted to know if I had a boyfriend.

I toyed with the idea of saying, “Yes. He’s a Jewish man of color from Poland.” I think I could have made him explode “Raiders of the Lost Ark” style.

An older woman at the next table came over.

Her: Are you alright on your own there?

Me: Oh, yes. I’m fine, thank you.

Her: You’re American!

Me: Yes. What am I doing in the middle of Hanley, right?

Her: Well, yes.

She went to the loo, and I checked my phone for word from Hannah. I suddenly felt hands touching my shoulders. I yelped and turned around.

Creepy George: I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.

Me: Well, you did. Please do not touch me.

Didn’t mean to startle me? Someone who doesn’t know you and has her back to you? What did he expect? “Hi handsome! Please come back to my temporary accommodation for stranger boning.”

When I went to the bathroom, I took my drink. Women know why.

Meanwhile, the show went on. It was definitely a crying-in-your-beer kind of vibe.

I Recall a Gypsy Woman” by Don Williams (!) was about the peppiest thing.

I knew it was time for me to leave when I heard what sounded like Fozzy Bear singing “Love on the Rocks.”

Leaving was cemented as a plan when my last gentleman caller insisted on a conversation:

Him: You’re an American.

Me: Yes.

Him: You’re drinking Guinness.

Me: Yes.

Him: I’m going to get you one, and I’m going to talk to you.

Me: (checks watch) I’m leaving in three minutes.

Him: Then I’ll take three minutes of your time.

My lady friend heard this exchange. “It’s because you’re new in here,” she said.

Yes. It was like Fisher Price: My First American.

I waved goodbye to her and the insistent fellow getting our drinks and headed out the side door.

Thank you all for giving me fodder for this blog.

I’ll be back.

Your new American friend,
Beth

* No one sang anything by The Carpenters, sadly.

Dear Dominic,

You may look like your father, but your personality is all me. And that’s why we drive each other crazy. You know what buttons and borders to push.

When you want something, you don’t stop until you get it.

That’s me too.

Take, for example, a car.

I told you I needed something to drive when I’m in Savannah. You took it upon yourself to find me something. In Atlanta.

Well, to find yourself something.

Lucky for you, I’m a big fan of muscle cars like this.

I had the dealer FaceTime me. As soon as he started it up, and I heard the signature purr of the engine, I was sold.

So I did cancel the second leg of my flight to buy it and drive it down.

But I didn’t tell you that. I told you I was getting a rental. So when we went out to get in “the rental” to go car shopping, you were shocked.

The good news for me is that this maneuver ensured you wouldn’t forget Mother’s Day.

$1. Funny kid. 🙄

I love you, you silly boy.
Mama

Dear Mean Girl,

You actively sabotaged me.

You lied about me to ruin my reputation and stall my career.

You friended me on Facebook to gather information then defriended me when your nasty work was done.

But I guess I should thank you.

In the words of Christina Aguilera (whom I never thought I’d quote):

After all you put me through
You’d think I’d despise you
But in the end, I wanna thank you
‘Cause you made me that much stronger.

I met up with someone recently who knew you when you were just starting out. You did the same thing to that person that you did to me.

So I know it wasn’t personal: You’ve got a history. A pattern. A way. It’s like that parable (and song) about the snake: “You knew I was a snake when you took me in.”

It’s sad, really.

It’s hard enough for women to succeed without other women dragging them down.

Being in a leadership role is not like having pie: Some for me doesn’t mean less for you.

Anyway. Our circles no longer intersect, and now I’m better off.

If you hadn’t made my life miserable, I wouldn’t have focused on finding new opportunities. And I now love my job.

So thank you.

I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Best wishes and warmest regards,
Beth

Dear Sue,

You win.

Your water fitness class almost made me tap out. That would have been a first.

I don’t know if it is because it has been a while since I went to a class (<cough> six months <cough>) or whether it is because you are hard core.

Either way, I had jelly legs at the end of the class.

So thank you.

This pool is great for families (see water slides) but not so great for fitness courses in the deep end. I actually accidentally touched another participant because of the proximity. EEEK.

Not your fault.

I laughed when you shouted, “We always like men in here” to the man picking out a water noodle. To be fair, he did suggest he could be a shark among the mermaids (yuck).

And I appreciate that you gave the chatty ladies hell. (No, lady with pink hair, I don’t want to hear another word about your elbow, thankyouverymuch.)

Anyway, as that great sage Arnold Schwarzenegger said: “I’ll be back.”

Sincerely,
Beth

Dear Lamar,

It’s clear your ex didn’t treat you as well as I treated my ex. However, please do not bring your baggage into this relationship. Please save your drama for times I can do something about it. Like when we are at the dealership for regular service.

I’m not happy that you refused to start the other day. It seemed like it was your battery or starter. In case it was the former, I haunted the nearest intersection until I found someone with jumper cables.

While I was searching for a person with jumper cables, an asshat parked next to me. Why would you do this?
This looks like some strange R2-D2 proboscis.

When that didn’t work, I was forced to tow you to the dealership. Jeff, the service guy, is getting used to that kind of call from me.

As it turns out, it WAS your battery, but I probably shouldn’t have even tried the jump.

“It was an Interstate battery,” Jeff sniffed, all condescension. “We’ll get you a good one.”

He did, and you and I were back together.

It would be great if you could behave, though.

Love,
Your new girl

*An underrated early Adam and the Ants track

Dear Crazy Legs,

When I go to a bar, I like to watch people. I especially pay attention if I’m having a club soda night.

(If I’m not, sometimes I become the watchee.)

Anyway, I had my eye on you. For good reason.

Look at those sweet moves!

My pseudo sister-in-law Becky said you’re a regular. And some drunk girl always ends up being your dance partner.

You + drunk girl = happiness

Everybody wins!

Tonight, though, you were really feeling yourself. Literally.

Becky and I were not the only ones shocked when you appointed yourself the Extremely Pointless Fly Girl.

Er. Fly Guy.

The whole crowd was incredulous but amused.

Thankfully, you didn’t overstay your welcome. One song, then you bowed and took off.

Becky said it well: “That was the highlight of my day!”

Becky and I remained off stage.

So I guess I’ll see you next time?

Keep on dancing,
Beth

* Thanks, Van Halen. BTW, it is not Halen with Hagar. That’s Van Hagar.

Dear Dominic,

Thanks for going on a road trip with me to bring Eddie some stuff that ended up with me in St. Louis.

It was a great bonding experience for you and your new brother.

It took nearly 16 hours of driving (should have been 12), but we made it manageable with stops in Chattanooga (no time for towing, sadly) and Atlanta (so you could harass all your school friends).

Barb the Minivan (rental) served us well. She was spacious enough to allow for a litter box for Leo’s bathroom breaks.

It turns out that he’s good on car trips.

Just so everyone knows, I don’t usually put clothes on pets. But Leo is naked, and it was cold when we left St. Louis.

So thank you for making the trip with Leo and me. Next time, I promise we will stop in at a ridiculous museum that will amuse us both.

Love,
Mama

*Thanks, Willie.

Dear Gladys,

I enjoyed meeting you for five minutes outside the Greenville, S.C., airport as I adopted your cat son Leo. Thank you for posting him on a rescue site and choosing me as his new parent.

He’s not happy. At all.

You may have saved my sanity. Seriously.

As I mentioned, I’ve been living alone for a few months — visiting family when I can.

Those after-dinner hours (7-9 p.m.) are really quiet/lonely. I can only watch just so much “Ozark” and “Great British Baking Show.” And my house is VERY clean.

Isolation has breathed life into my workaholic side, for sure. Plus, I took on a freelance project and am taking courses online toward various credentials.

Still.

I found myself talking to — and responding to — myself. Out loud. Uh oh.

And I missed taking care of critters (i.e., Dominic and Gideon).

I haven’t had a pet in 11 years. It’s been 16 since I’ve had a cat. That’s weird in itself, as I had a cat or cats my whole life. At one point, Eddie and I had four dogs and four cats.

We had a temporary cat at the time of this Christmas card photo, and Maggie the Boxer hadn’t joined us yet. The photo gives you an idea of the craziness, though.

I’ve been wanting a Sphynx for more than five years — haunting rescue sites because I wasn’t about to spend more than $2K on a damn cat.

Luckily, you started to travel more and felt guilty about boarding him all the time.

So now he’s mine. Traumatized, but mine.

Things are going great.

He is aggressively cuddly. He gets right in my face. Breathing in my mouth to steal my soul.

And has to be ON ME at all times.

I mean. LOOK AT HIM.

Look at this FOOT!

I don’t know how you were able to give him up, but I’m so glad you did.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Beth, Leo’s new mom