Friday, January 27, 2012

Casual Friday? Or the Downfall of Civilization as We Know it?

I don’t know about you, but today is definitely “Casual Friday” for me. It’s a jeans shirt, tennis shoes, hair pulled back in a ponytail kinda day for me. This might be okay, except that I just noticed a mustard-like stain on the front of my shirt, which is weird because I’m not even a big fan of mustard. Even worse, it is undoubtedly a permanent stain since I just took the shirt out of the dryer. Darn.

Generally, I am a little more pulled together when I show up for work. I wear dress slacks and nice shoes. And a blazer or sweater is more often than not part of my daily dress code. It’s not really what I would consider a business wardrobe, but I am still usually the most dressed up person in our office.

See, I work in a small office and we have no dress code whatsoever. Well, other than we are required to be, uh, dressed when we show up for work.

But our graphics guy wears a uniform of a T-shirt, jeans and a backwards-facing ball cap every day of the year. I’m not even sure if he still has hair under that ball cap – I haven’t seen his hairline in years. My one boss wears sweatshirts and jeans in the winter and T-shirts and shorts in the summer. If he has a meeting, he might substitute khakis for the jeans, but that’s not a given. And my other boss wears jeans that are too big, so he looks like he’s imitating kids who have adopted the “Pants On Da Ground” look. Purely by accident, I’m sure, since he’s pretty clueless when it comes to fashion trends. Besides, he has just become a card-carrying member of Medicare so I don’t think he’s flashing everyone his “draws” on purpose.

So technically I fit right in with everyone else today.

But I wonder – is there even such a thing as Casual Friday anymore or is every day Casual Day for most working folks?

When I first started out in the professional work world, men wore sports jackets and ties and dress shoes – if they weren’t wearing actual suits, that is. Women wore dresses or suits with some sort of hosiery. It was not optional – unlike today where all manner of bare legs are hanging out there for the world to see. We can only hope that the leg barer has had the foresight to shave said legs so as not to subject the world to her stubble.

Our pulled together and coordinated outfits could in no way be confused with what we wore on the weekends. We looked like actual adults conducting actual business.

But eventually, the Casual Friday concept was born and people started wearing jeans and polo shirts to work. This was so much fun that inevitably businesses dropped “Friday” from the concept completely. Soon, ties were relegated to the backs of closets only to see the light of day for formal occasions like wedding and funerals. Younger men who never had the need to purchase dress clothes would show up at weddings or funerals wearing the one button-down shirt in their closet along with a tie borrowed from their dads. If they wore a tie at all.

Polo shirts soon gave way to T-shirts in the workplace and then companies had to clarify dress codes to prohibit foul or inappropriate messages on the T-shirts. Sandals were approved for summer wear, but flip flops were not. Lines were blurred and closets contained just clothes instead of categories like work clothes, dress clothes and casual clothes.

And then people had to be told that visible underwear was not acceptable in the work place. Really? People couldn’t understand that their coworkers didn’t care to see what color boxers or bra and thong set they were wearing? What happened to common sense?

Yeah, I’m thinking that Casual Friday was the downfall of the American work force.

And even though I still hold on to old-fashioned notions of dressing up for work, there are those rare occasions (like today) when I’d frankly prefer my pajamas over work clothes. Yet I notice that when I’m wearing something really casual (like today) I tend to be a little sloppier in my work efforts, too. I’m thinking more about scrubbing the tub tomorrow or lounging on the couch reading a book than I am about calling my customer or following up with a vendor.

So now I’m feeling a little ashamed about today’s wardrobe. And if I hadn’t spent my lunch hour writing this blog, I might have considered driving all the way home to change into something a little more business appropriate.

Or…maybe not. I am, after all, pretty darn comfy – even with the mustard-like stain on the front of my shirt. Egads. Could backwards-facing ball caps and droopy pants be in my future? I’m tellin’ ya, it’s the downfall of civilization...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Super-Secret Vow

The other day Vince asked me to stop at Macy’s to pick up a pair of work boots for him. He’d gone to another mall the day before, but they didn’t have the correct size and color in stock. However, according to their trusty computer, the Macy’s near our home had the pair he needed.

I reluctantly said I would go pick them up. And I did. But it was tough.

Why did I just use the word “reluctantly”? Could it possibly be that I hate shopping? (Well, if you know me at all, you know that’s a silly question!)

Normally, if someone says the words “Mall” or “Shopping’ my eyes light up and I get all happy. I react just like Pavlov’s dogs. I start salivating and I swear I hear bells dinging.

So…what? Do I think Vince has too many shoes already? (Nah. We can pretty much count on one hand the number of shoes Vince owns while counting the shoes in my closet requires a calculator.)

No, the reason I didn’t want to stop at Macy’s is that I made a super-secret vow to myself to stay away from the mall for the first quarter of 2012. Well, actually, to be more accurate, I vowed not to buy any clothes or shoes for the first quarter of 2012. If my vow was just to stay out of the mall, I suppose that technically I could buy clothes and shoes at stores other than the mall or even online.

So while my vow wasn’t really to stay out of the mall, it sure makes it harder to keep it if I’m traipsing through Macy’s all the time.

Nevertheless, I bravely faced the Polaris Mall. I chose the entrance right by the Men’s Department because I don’t salivate all that much in the Men’s Department. So I walked right up to the sales counter by the Men’s Shoes and showed the clerk the computer printout and said I needed those specific shoes. No browsing required. He went to the back and came back with a box and I whipped out my credit card and paid for them.

That was easy, I thought. And relatively painless.

This would be about the time in the story where I tell you that I turned on my heel and walked right out of that mall. But…um…I didn’t.

Well, see, for one thing, I’d purchased a cheapo watch at Macy’s before Christmas that was already falling apart. So I went downstairs to the watch section, which admittedly is a little too close to the Women’s Shoes Department. I mean, I could very nearly detect the aromatic scent of new shoe leather.

But I ignored the siren call of all those shiny new shoes and boots and instead focused on the watches. The clerk was very helpful and was willing to exchange it for the same watch, but I was concerned that the same watch would have the same problems. She offered to give me credit, but then I wouldn’t have a watch to wear. I know most people these days check the time on their ubiquitous cell phones, but I am old-fashioned enough that I feel uncomfortable if I don’t have a watch strapped to my wrist.

So I picked out another watch. A little nicer watch than the cheapo one I had bought before Christmas, but not an expensive watch or anything. And I still had a Macy’s gift card that I was able to use – so my out of pocket expense was maybe 20 bucks.

So I was happy with my purchase. But did I feel guilty buying a new watch? Yeah, a little. I mean, I really didn’t break my vow since I specifically said I wouldn’t purchase any clothes or shoes. And I didn’t buy and new clothes or shoes. I didn’t even walk by those departments.

But perhaps my vow should have included a few more categories. Like watches and jewelry. Oh, and maybe makeup and perfume, too. Ugh. I’ll need to stick to shopping only at the grocery store if I even hope to keep a new vow like this!

On the other hand, if I can’t spend any money at all (other than the grocery store, which is no fun whatsoever), I might explode.

So maybe I should just stick to my original vow. I could go ahead and add “And Stay Outta The Mall.”

I probably can manage that. We’ll see…

Monday, January 23, 2012

This is January in Ohio. Really?

According to my trusty iPhone, the outside temperature is currently 54 degrees Fahrenheit. To someone in Florida or Hawaii or Tahiti, 54 degrees Fahrenheit might be considered frigid enough to wear a puffy down jacket, but to someone in Ohio in January, 54 degrees Fahrenheit is pretty much short sleeves and a light windbreaker jacket sort of weather.

It’s actually a little spooky. What happened to winter? And I’m definitely regretting the heavy wool socks, quilted snow boots and turtleneck sweater I donned this morning assuming it was January and I live in Ohio.

Go figure.

So while the wind is kicking up some, it’s bright and sunny outside. I swear I’m starting to see buds on the trees. And I start thinking that winter is nearly over.

Yeah, right.

But I can’t help myself. I get all happy when we turn the corner on winter and head into spring when we get to wash the road salt off our vehicles for the last time and pack away the wool scarves.

But this is Mother Nature’s cruel joke on us Midwesterners. It is, after all, January 23rd and we are, after all, still in the midst of winter. We could get an ice storm tonight. Or a blizzard tomorrow. And our defenses will be down. So we might wake up tomorrow and start rooting through the closet to find that short sleeve shirt and light windbreaker jacket…only to misread Mother Nature’s intentions and find ourselves with permanent goose bumps on our exposed arms and frostbite on our toes.

Fortunately for me, my short sleeve shirts and windbreaker-type jackets are packed away in bins with big signs on them that read: “Do Not Open Until April!” I’m not falling for it, Mother Nature – you hear me?? I’ll just deal with the temporary global warming in my feet while I’m wearing these wool socks. Or maybe I can go sockless and start a new trend. No socks with quilted snow boots? Nah, I don’t think it’ll catch on. I mean, who’d even know I was going sockless underneath those quilted snow boots?

Fashion trendsetter, I’m not.

Ah well. I suppose I should just enjoy the milder weather we’re experiencing today and assume that tomorrow may be quite different.

It is, after all, winter. And I am, after all, in Ohio. As ‘they’ say, “If you don’t like the weather in… (insert name of State here)…stick around for another 10 minutes and it’ll change.”


…Yep, I took a 10 minute break and, sure enough, the sun has disappeared and it’s raining. Plus, I hear we now have a wind advisory with possible wind gusts up to 40 MPH. And yet, according to my trusty iPhone, it is 57 degrees Fahrenheit.


Perhaps I should stop writing about the weather here in Ohio in January. I’m getting dizzy.

You wouldn’t want to use me as your meteorological source for the current weather conditions, anyway. After all, I’m the one wearing wool socks and quilted snow boots in 57 degree weather.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fleece Jackets + Cats = Yuck

I’ve just spent the last fifteen minutes removing white kitty fur from my black fleece jacket and I’ve learned two valuable lessons: (1) my life has been needlessly shortened by fifteen minutes, and (2) if one owns a cat, one should never own fleece.

Lest you think this was accumulated kitty hair build-up on my fleece jacket, I will dispel that notion by assuring you that I just took the jacket out of the dryer. And when I first inspected it, it was kitty-hair-free.

The error of my ways occurred when I laid the jacket on the bed for approximately 2.3 seconds while I donned a turtleneck to wear under the jacket. The whisper of the fleece as it landed on the bed was evidently loud enough for Twinks to hear three rooms and a set of stairs away – and she immediately materialized on top of my jacket. She’s like a veritable homing pigeon. She comes home to roost on whatever article of clothing is laid on the bed, no matter how briefly.

Sometimes this is cute. Like when I’ve taken the clothes from the dryer and have laid them on the bed to start folding them. Twinks will pounce on top of the clothes and try to wrestle me for Vince’s socks. I always win, of course. But it’s kind of funny to pull, say, a pillowcase out from under her because she does a kitty flip that falls just short of an actual somersault. And then she immediately pounces upon the next article of clothing on the bed as if daring me to try to take it, too.

Jinx, our mostly black cat, on the other hand, does not seem to have this same clothes fetish. Which is sort of a shame – because if she landed on my black fleece jacket, her fur would not be quite as noticeable as Twinks more white-than-black fur.

But I have to admit, I get kind of grossed out when I see people with pet fur all over their clothes. Okay, so it’s nice in a way because it tells me they have pets whom they must love to collect all that pet fur – but, c’mon – it’s also pretty yucky. Lint brushes were invented for this very reason. (Besides removing actual, uh, lint.)

I’m already at a disadvantage because I tend to wear black a lot and, like a dog, I tend to shed the hair on my head a lot. I’ve even been known to do that chasing-my-tail dog maneuver to try to remove the long blond hairs from the back of my jacket. Sure, sure, I could try removing the jacket first and then simply collecting the stray hairs, but I know that I’m at least entertaining, if nothing else.

Perhaps I should switch my wardrobe to a more Jane-hair- and Twinks-fur-friendly white or beige color, but I’m sort of attached to my black wardrobe. For one thing, white is too hard to keep pristinely white. And for another, beige is too hard to match up. You’ve got your beige, and your bisque and your ecru, among about a billion other variations. Plus, you then have too many color choices to make with tops and bottoms and legwear and shoe wear and purses and belts. It’d take me forever to get ready in the morning.

As it is, I throw on a pair of black slacks and something coordinating on top. Done. I only buy purses that are black or will coordinate with black. And most of my zillion pairs of shoes are black. Other than my click-my-heels-three-times-red patent Dorothy shoes.

So I guess if I’m sticking to my black wardrobe, my only recourse will be to carry a lint brush with me wherever I go. Either that or get rid of the fleece. Or Twinks. No, no…the fleece. (But it’s cold out there…)

Ah, okay...I’ve got it. If I’m not going to get rid of either the fleece or the cat, I’ll just have to remember to never put my fleece jacket on the bed again. Ever. Even if it’s only for approximately 2.3 seconds.

Problem solved.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If I'm a Hoarder, at Least I'm an Organized Hoarder

My friend and morning drive DJ on Mix 107.9 (and the best wedding DJ in the whole wide world), Mark Dantzer, posed a question on his Facebook page yesterday. Apparently, January is “Get Organized” month and Mark wanted to know the most ridiculous thing readers refuse to get rid of.

I suspect he was waiting for people to rat out their spouses. Like a wife to complain that her husband won’t part with the mottled deer head he found in a dumpster back in college and hung on his living room wall until he got married, but which is now shoved in some remote corner of the basement.

Or a husband to complain about the 300 pairs of shoes his wife has stuffed in her closet even though she never wears half of them because they hurt her feet or have broken heels, but she won’t part with any of them because they remind her of fun times and special occasions in her life.

So did I write something about my dear husband? No. Could I have written something about the many boxes of junk, er, treasures that Vince won’t part with? Sure.

But, sadly, I have way too much of my own long-held junk to talk about.

Like, for instance, I wrote on Mark’s Facebook page that I still have my high school cap and gown. Why do I still have my high school cap and gown? I have absolutely no flippin’ clue! It’s not like I need it to prove that I graduated from high school. And it doesn’t even make a very good Halloween costume.

Instead, it has been folded up in a large grey plastic bin that holds cards, letters, high school yearbooks and various other treasures for lo these many years. Okay, to be a tiny bit more accurate – lo these many decades.

The sad thing is, I’ve moved that box with my high school cap and gown, let’s see…no less than nine times. NINE times! No wonder my back hurts.

One time I even tried to get rid of the stuff in that large grey plastic bin. I hauled it out of the garage determined to go through everything in there one more time and then toss it all.

So I spent the next several days on the floor with everything spread around me. I read cards and letters from long-gone relatives and friends I hadn’t seen in years. I leafed through my high school yearbooks cringing at my awkward teenaged self and at the same time wishing I still looked like that. Well, except for maybe the bad Farrah Fawcett ‘do.

But, in the end, I couldn’t part with any of it. Instead, I organized it. I put everything in individual plastic envelopes marked with the year. So now, if I ever want to see something from, say, 1980, I can find it in an instant.

If I could only get to that large grey plastic bin, that is. It’s at the bottom of a huge stack of boxes in the garage that I haven’t actually been able to reach since Vince moved in and piled all his treasures on top.

Ah well. I take comfort in the fact that if I’m ever accused of being a hoarder, at least I can say I’m an organized hoarder!

On the other hand, I’ve seen that show, Hoarders, and, well, let me just say, “Eewwww.” It’s pretty disgusting and my situation is not even remotely close to any of the sad stories on that show. But I use it for inspiration. On Saturday mornings when I don’t really feel like organizing the linen closet or cleaning out the gunk from under the vegetable bin in the fridge, I watch a DVR’d episode of Hoarders.

And afterwards I run around Windexing and Lemon-Pledging like a crazy woman. I surgically attach a large plastic trash bag to my wrist and I load it up with stuff that needs to be purged. I’ve taken so many bags of old clothes, shoes and purses to the donation center, I’m sure I’ve long ago exceeded the annual charity allotment for my taxes.

But talking about hanging on to my high school cap and gown makes me realize I have a way to go on this whole Get Organized thing. Fortunately, Saturday is quickly approaching. And I’m thinkin’ it might be a good time to work on some of those boxes in the garage. It’s perfect timing since I still have to put away the boxes of Christmas decorations. But if I need a little extra inspiration I can always watch this week’s DVR’d episode of Hoarders.

And then maybe I’ll finally toss that old high school cap and gown.

Wonder if Vince would mind if I do a little pruning of his treasures? Like, does he honestly need to keep his dad’s college Chemistry textbook? I can’t see Vince perusing it for a little light reading anytime soon. Besides, I’m thinking that in the 60-something years since his dad was in school, there has been a change or two in the world of Chemistry.

Oh, and do we really need 47 different Phillips head screwdrivers?

Hmmm. Perhaps a marathon Hoarders session might be required. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bowling 2012

So we started our winter bowling league with the Columbus Ski Club on Sunday and, while it was a lot of fun, let’s just say that I am in big trouble. Why? Because we set our handicap the first night – and I bowled too darn well.

My team has a first night tradition of gathering for dinner at a wings place across the street before bowling to, y’know, do a little carb-loading to prep for our stellar performances to come. We figure that all that wing sauce and beer in our bellies will have an adverse effect on our scores for the first night. I believe the term is “sandbagging”…but – alas – no sandbagging did I do. And I tried. Believe me, I tried.

So now all season long I’ll be trying (and failing) to reach the average that I set on Sunday. I bowled a 117, 127 and a 151. My average usually hovers somewhere around 120, so the first two scores were in the correct general range. It’s the 151 that is the problem.

Fortunately, our averages adjust over time and I’m sure that soon enough I’ll be back in the mediocre range that I’m comfortable with.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I want to accept mediocrity as my standard, but when it comes to bowling, I’m a pretty mediocre bowler with occasional flashes of brilliance.

On Sunday I scored more strikes than I probably will all the rest of the year. And the 10th frame of the last game was spooky. I’d bowled a spare on the 9th frame, so when I approached the lane for the 10th frame, I figured I’d probably knock down anywhere between one and three pins.

I evidently don’t do well under pressure when it comes to bowling. Many times I leave a lot of potential points on the table by following spares with some miniscule (and embarrassing) number of pins on the next frame.

Except that on Sunday I bowled a spare after the 9th frame spare. Okay. That was cool. So I had my final throw of the evening – and I bowled a strike. It was an ugly strike, but it was a strike nonetheless.

And my final score was 151.

Normally I’d be thrilled with that score, but I know how tough it is going to be to meet my new and improved average in the next few weeks.

Why? Because the truth is, I have no idea what I’m doing when I bowl. I walk up to the lane, pick up my ball, and hurl it down the lane without any finesse or expertise whatsoever. I do not know what it means to throw a curve ball. A curve ball to me is the same thing as a gutter ball. Mostly I just aim the ball in the general direction of the pins in my own lane and try to remain standing after the ball has left my hand. If I can accomplish those two objectives, I feel like I’ve done a good job.

Actually knocking down all the pins is pure gravy.

So we’ll see what next week brings. My luck, I’ll bowl all three games with two-digit scores instead of three. Ugh.

Perhaps more carb-loading is in order?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Last “Blonde Moment” of 2011

The date was December 29th and the place was a popular German Village delicatessen. I was meeting my sister and her family for lunch before they headed to northeast Ohio to visit our parents for a couple days before starting the long trek back to Milwaukee. They were coming from Hocking Hills to get there whereas I had to walk a mere block from my office.

While this particular deli is wonderful, I rarely patronize it because it’s always jam packed and I’m not a big fan of sitting so close to the next table that my neighbor could easily snatch a bite of my dill pickle without even stretching out his arm and before I noticed that he’d done so. Nor do I particularly want to hear the strangers at the table next to me discussing the results of Uncle Wilbur’s annual colo-rectal exam.

It’s amazing what some people consider acceptable dinner table talk.

Anyway, since I was so close to the deli, I told my sister that I’d snag a table and wait for them. I thought that perhaps the restaurant might be a little less busy since it was a holiday week and my commute downtown had been surprisingly easy.

What I didn’t realize was that it was a holiday week and all those people who weren’t working were hanging out and eating at places like German Village delicatessens.


I walked into the place and it was, as usual, jam packed. And the line to order was nearly out the door. But, wonder of wonders, I found an empty table, so I abruptly sat down to claim it as if the music had stopped during a rousing game of Musical Chairs.

But then it started. People glaring at me sitting there at an empty table while they walked by holding trays full of food. Or people asking if they could take one of the chairs from the table, even though we were already going to be one short.

Since I was growing increasingly uncomfortable, I frantically texted my sister asking their ETA. She texted me back that they had taken a wrong turn and were still 20 minutes out.

Well, that did it. I told her I couldn’t in good conscience hold on to an empty table for another 20 minutes when it would easily be an hour before we had our food in front of us and could make use of the table.

When we agreed to meet at another restaurant, which we would determine upon their arrival, I abandoned my table. But as I walked toward the door, I heard a mad scramble behind me, so I knew Round 2 of Musical Chairs had just begun.

But here comes the “blonde moment” part.

As I stood outside the deli waiting for my sister and her family, I heard music. I thought it was being piped outside from speakers in the restaurant. It was Christmas music from B.E. Taylor, who is a musician from the Pittsburgh area. I love his songs and listen to his Christmas albums every December to get myself in the holiday spirit.

But I didn’t think B.E. Taylor was well known to the average Columbus-ite, so I assumed that whoever had selected the music was from the Pittsburgh area.

So I stood there smiling and thinking I was completely in sync with my nameless friend inside the German Village delicatessen who selected the music. And I nearly started singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” along with ol’ B.E. That would’ve been disastrous because I’m quite sure some passerby would’ve called, at the very least, the music police.

It was just about then that I realized that there was no music being piped out to the street from speakers at the German Village delicatessen. It was music that was loaded onto my iPhone.

Somehow it had gotten switched on during the whole Musical Chairs scramble and other people inside the deli had been listening to my music the whole time I was sitting there. Surely some of them had wondered why I didn’t at least plug in an ear bud to keep my music to myself.

Still waiting for my sister to show up, I stood there feeling my face grow hot, which was my clue that it was also beet red. I could only shake my head and smile ruefully. But, fortunately, there wasn’t anyone around right then to witness my blonde moment.

Ah well. At least my Christmas music was playing during the Christmas season. I mean, it’s not like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" was playing on my iPhone at Easter.

But, just in case it happens again, I think I’m going to switch the first song in my playlist to something a little more generic and non-holiday-specific. Like Led Zeppelin or something. By the time Stairway to Heaven finishes playing, I’d have placed my order at the deli, gotten my food, and found an empty table. Musical Chairs optional.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Words With Friends

So for a person who likes words, I have recently discovered I truly suck at “Words With Friends.” Have you played this game? Sure you have. Everyone has. I mean, it’s all because of Words With Friends that poor Alec Baldwin got kicked off an airplane recently. He was so hooked on the game he couldn’t stop playing and shut off his electronic device so the plane could take off.

Well, okay, so the real reason that Alec Baldwin got kicked off the airplane is that he is a spoiled celebrity who thinks rules are for the rest of us bottom feeders and he is exempt from them. La-di-da. But Words With Friends was evidently a handy excuse.

Nevertheless, if you have played or will ever play Words With Friends with me, it’s a sure bet you’ll win. Not only that, but you'll most likely beat me by a minimum of 100 points.

It’s crazy. I mean, I’m usually good with words. I can string ‘em together and make complete sentences, even. But what I’m bad at is trying to come up with a word when the letters I have to work with, for example, are x, q, i, v, d, z and w. If I could make up a word with those letters, I’d get a lot of points because all those weird, rarely used letters are worth about a bajillion points.

As it is, I usually make some flashy move like find an “r” on the board and add my “i” and “d” and form the word “rid.” For 4 lousy points. Naturally, the triple word or even triple letter square are one square beyond what I am able to use.

And then my opponent slides in there with some archaic and heretofore unheard of word and earns 125 points. FOR ONE FREAKIN’ WORD! I’m usually flabbergasted – and yet even when I add up what I think are triple word and triple letter combinations, I still cannot figure out how they earned that many points.

Clearly, I need remedial Words With Friends training.

Currently I’m in the midst of playing four separate games of Words With Friends, but I have rarely been in the lead in any of those games. And it’s killing me. Sure, I could just admit defeat and resign – and move on to something a little less daunting like, say, quantum physics – but I tend to be a tad bit competitive and can’t stand the thought of being a quitter.

Vince, you should know, is howling right about now. He’s saying, “a ‘tad bit’ competitive? Are you kidding me??”

Well, okay. So I’m a lot competitive. Don’t ask me where that came from. Maybe my competitive streak was born in grade school when we had spelling or reading comprehension competitions. I had to spell better and read (and understand) more than my classmates just because I wanted to win.

So that’s a possibility. But I think my competitive streak really began when I started playing tetherball in the 8th grade. I won most matches. Was it skill? Was I some sort of tetherball prodigy? Nah. Mostly it was that I was taller than many of my classmates and simply had the height advantage.

Yet I became the person to beat. And I liked it!

The leaping of tall buildings was the next step on my Charlie Sheen quest of Winner-ness, but fortunately, I graduated from parochial school and moved on to public high school where it wasn’t nearly as competitive. Guess those nuns took some perverse pleasure in pitting little kids against one another or something.

So I’ve learned to curb my competitive streak over the years because whether I’m playing Trivia or Euchre or hitting the bowling lanes, I want to enjoy the social interaction, which is far more important than whether or not I win.

But that still doesn’t mean I want to lose, for cryin’ out loud! And losing Words With Friends by 100 points is just plain humiliating.

So I’m trying to look at this whole Words With Friends thing as a learning experience. It’s stretching my creaky little mind a little bit. And it’s merely a friendly competition between friends.

But deep down I know I want to win at the stupid game. I don’t want to lose by 100 points. I want to be the one utilizing all seven letters to earn the beaucoup points. Even if no such word exists that is comprised of the letters x, q, i, v, d, z and w.

So if you come up with a word made up of all those letters, well, then, I quit. Resign. Give up. I’ll be takin’ my letters and goin’ home in a huff.

And right after I have my hissy fit, I’m going to go out and buy a tetherball set. Any takers?!