A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: Pittsburgh

Bucket Head on board

It was starting to drizzle.

Bucket Head and I would need to run for it.

We counted to three and ran from the store to our car while I pressed the button for the automatic sliding door. He hopped into the back and we both buckled ourselves in while I checked my mirrors.

I put it in reverse and was starting to ease backward out of our angled parking spot when I noticed a gangly teenaged boy walking right behind my minivan. I braked and waited for him to pass. “Kids,” I muttered under my breath and made a mental note to remind my brood to be on the lookout for people reversing in parking lots who might not be able to see them.

Once he passed I checked my mirrors a second time and started to reverse again, slowly.

And again, there was something passing by the back of my van, seemingly inches away from my rear bumper.

It was the teenager’s father.

He wasn’t hustling at all, he wasn’t stopping to let me get out of my parking spot, he was simply glaring at me and shaking his head. I hit the brake as he slowly sauntered by giving me the stink eye.

Obviously he had the right of way. If I had noticed him I never would have tried to back out. But the blind spot on my minivan is huge, especially in the drizzle through the rain-spattered windows, reversing at an angle.

Oh—that look! What the hell, dude! Do you think I’m TRYING to mow you down? I’m just trying to get out of my parking spot. I totally would have waited for you to pass if I had seen you. It’s drizzling and I’m dry in my car—of course I want you to pass by safely and get into the store unscathed.

Ack. I hate that. Why did he have to glare and shake his head in judgment like that? Why couldn’t he just hustle by and wave like “Ooops, sorry—didn’t see your reverse lights.” I like to think that’s what I would have done. I probably would have smiled and waved and hustled by. I hope.

But his nasty face and pissy attitude set me off. Where is the common courtesy? Why couldn’t we have shared a pleasant exchange like an “I’m sorry, you go,” “No, that’s okay, you go,” kind of moment? Why can’t real life be more like that Liberty Mutual commercial that always makes me cry?

I know I shouldn’t have, but I exploded.

“I didn’t see you, JAGOFF!” I shouted at him (from behind the safety of my closed windows and locked doors.) You can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but you can never take the Pittsburgh out of the girl, I guess.

That’s when 6-year-old Bucket Head, who I momentarily forgot was buckled in right behind me said, “How do you know his name, Mommy?” 

And then my heart exploded from the cuteness and my road rage melted away.

I wish every vehicle came standard with a backseat Bucket Head. I think the world would be a better place.

Now I just need to teach him to stop calling people jagoffs.

Everyone needs a backseat Bucket Head by The Bearded Iris

“Oh my GOD. What’s that smell?!!”

Driving 12+ hours in a minivan with three kids is never easy, even in the best of conditions.

Now factor in Thanksgiving traffic, heavy winds, rain, bad windshield wipers, and the horrifyingly treacherous mountain freeways of West Virginia? We’re lucky to be alive today.

In driving conditions such as these, it helps to be able to concentrate on the driving.

So imagine my chagrin when I started to hear 4 year old Bucket Head whimpering from the back seat about 5 hours into the trip home yesterday.

"Ewwwww. What's that smell?"

Mind you, the three kids had been exceptionally well behaved thus far on the drive. Thanks to the advice from my Facebook friend, Michele D., we were paying each kid 50 cents for every half hour that passed without any negative incidents such as fighting, whining, not sharing, and any other general unpleasantries. (Michele, it worked like a charm. Thank you!)

My husband was driving, so I turned around in my seat to see what Bucket Head was fussing about.

And that’s when it hit me:

…the stench! 

Like a kick to the face.

“Oh my GOD! What’s that smell?!!!” I choked.

Bucket Head’s whimpering had quickly escalated into full fledged gagging.

Then he started to cry. “I feeuw yike I going to fomit.” [sic]

The stench reached my husband, the driver. He quickly covered his nose. “Oh my GOD. What the hell? Did I run over something?”

My eyes were starting to water. It was as if someone had launched a tear gas grenade into the car.

Suddenly, 12 year old Nature Boy pleaded from the back row “Dad, the windows are locked! Open the windows! OPEN THE WINDOWS!

My 9 year old daughter Mini-Me was the only one not moving or speaking.

She was just sitting there calmly, playing her DSi, completely nonplussed to our panicky gasps for fresh air.

And that’s when I noticed…

she had taken her boots off…

and she wasn’t wearing socks.

If you can imagine the scent emitted from a hot chunk of Camembert being fried into a sandwich between two ripe jock straps on top of a car radiator next to a nursing home dumpster, you are halfway there.

I’m telling you, I have never in all my life smelled something like this, not during childbirth, not at the petting zoo, not even during low tide under the boardwalk with the Golumpki-filled traveling circus carnies.

How in the world does a little girl *this* cute create such a rank odor?

Honest to Pete…whoever coined the phrase “sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what girls are made of,” obviously never met my daughter.

Perhaps a rewrite is in order: “Cute as can be but with stank a-plenty…”

Or “Smart and quite charming, but her foot-odor’s alarming…”


That’s not right. Let’s blame the man-made boots instead.

Too bad, because they are super cute.

We bought them at Tarjay about a month ago. They are absolutely adorable on her and the silver sequins go with everything!


I know.

That’s Pittsburgh, my beloved hometown. Hard to focus on the sparkly boots with a gorgeous backdrop like that, isn’t it? You should see it at night when you emerge from the darkness of the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Takes my breath away every time.

I took that picture up on Mount Washington the day after Thanksgiving last week. Look at Bucket Head holding his bird. Literally. We had just bought him a little blue clay bird whistle in town. Two minutes after this picture was taken he dropped it and it shattered into a vajillion little pieces. Good times.

There were two teenaged sisters there with their parents and one of them said to my daughter, “Oh my gosh, I LOVE your boots!” It was really sweet. You should have seen Mini-Me’s face when she was complimented by a teenager!

Sadly, you really can’t judge a boot by its cover, because the synthetic “furry” material of the lining on these puppies is a hot breeding ground for bacteria. And when sweaty foot bacteria get together for potlucks, they bring the funk, yo. 

If I had one of those special infrared cameras the CSI guys use, the boots would look like this:

Sure was a long drive home. We had to keep the windows cracked, in spite of the cold, windy rain. Mini-Me cried that she couldn’t keep the boots on because they were too hot and she wanted to sleep. We tried to wrap the boots in a blanket, but it only muffled the fragrance and gently disbursed it throughout the vehicle like a Hot Fontina Scented Glade Plug-In. (Coming soon to stores near you.)

So now I’m off to Google foot odor solutions. If my life were any more glamorous I’d be scrubbing the seat backs at Zorba’s XXX Movie Theater.

Home, sweet home.


 © Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved. Get your own damn cheese.

You CAN go home again, if your hometown ROCKS.

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Even went to college there at Carnegie Mellon University. History major, with an undeclared minor in beer drinking, table dancing, and Greek mating habits. Or so it would seem.

But in my early twenties I hightailed it out of The Steel City in search of more. Drove ‘cross country all by myself in a beat up old Suzuki Samurai with nothing but a CB radio by my side and a .38 caliber pistol in my fanny pack. That was 1994, and the fanny pack was probably the most normal part of that scenario. (Shaking my head in disbelief.)

I ended up in the Bay Area of California. That’s where Highway 80 ended or I probably would have kept on going. My good friend Buster let me crash on his living room floor in Rockridge for a few weeks. (Um, more like 8. Great guy. Changed my life.)

That’s where I met The Gatekeeper.

Yeah, it's from my Mom's scrapbook. How'd ya know? Nice hand placement, dude.

Good thing, too… because I sure do love that man. And we make really purdy babies.

But let me tell you something. Leaving Pittsburgh may have been the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

I frickin’ love that city.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you love something until you see it with fresh eyes.

Last weekend I took my eight year old daughter Mini-Me to Pittsburgh for our first ever Girl’s Weekend.

It. Was. Awesome.

Of course, my Mom is the first one to remind me that I enjoyed my family so much this trip precisely BECAUSE I don’t see them very often. I suspect she’s got a point there.

Crazy family aside, oh how it pains me to no longer have regular access to these:

Yes. Look at THAT! All hail Primanti Bros., I say. Where else can you get pastrami, cheese, tomato, cole slaw, and FRIES, in between two thick slices of fresh local Italian bread? The first time you eat this, you will think you have died and gone to heaven. It’s especially good with an Iron City Beer. But don’t just take my word for it. This “sammich” has been in National Geographic Magazine, on Man v. Food, and the History Channel’s “Best Sandwiches in America” show, among others. It’s THAT famous and THAT good.

There are a vajillion other reasons I love and miss Pittsburgh, but for the sake of brevity, let me pick just two more to share (for now).

This is Dreaming Ant. Located in Bloomfield, it is Pittsburgh’s last remaining DVD rental store.

Nestled in the back of the Crazy Mocha Coffee shop on Liberty Avenue and Taylor Street, Dreaming Ant specializes in independent films and documentaries, and prides itself on being all about “film-geek satisfaction.” I guess I’m a bit of a film-geek, because there really is something so completely satisfying about browsing and choosing DVDs in person in an artsy environment and with the astute recommendations of other like minded film-geeks. It’s a personal experience most of us don’t get anymore in today’s digital, faceless, queue-and-stream world.

So go get a cup of coffee and browse the myriad eclectic titles. It won’t take long for you to realize that the regular patrons of this place are as special as the movies you can find there. Victor, you are one crazy mo-frankie. It was an honor to meet you and to witness first hand that the word “jag off” is alive and well in Pittsburgh. For those of you who do not speak Pittsburghese, jag off means “asshole.” Don’t be a jag off; become a member at Dreaming Ant and tell ’em Iris sentcha.

Which brings me to another thing I love and miss about the Burgh: the accent/dialect. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you might need to hear it for yourself:

Holy moly, that’s good stuff. I know, because I can speak it fluently, n’at, and I ain’t no jag off.

Earlier this week at the Pittsburgh International Airport everywhere I looked was merchandise celebrating the sounds of the Burgh. Hells yeah, it’s ABAHT time, n’at. Fuck all yinz bitches who put me DAHN in high school because you couldn’t tell if I was sayin’ TOWEL or TILE. Being a Pittsburgher is something to be PRAHD of. And not just because Hines Ward won the Mirror Ball Trophy on Dancing with the Stars, n’at.

Get it? Got it? Good. In summary, Pittsburgh rocks. Go there. Meet good people, eat good food, watch good movies. And never carry a gun in a fanny pack. That’s just stupid.

Nostalgically yours,


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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