No Free Johns

Posted on February 27, 2015


Anyone in my familial circle can tell you I have a bladder possessing the stamina of an Olympian camel.  As odd as it may be, I am quietly proud of this ability.  I wouldn’t put it on par with my ability to turn my tongue upside down or my capacity to wiggle both ears alternately but one that I proud of none the less.  You may ask how this fascinating bit of ridiculousness could in any way be applicable to a faux pas topic.  Well, let me tell you…

The Northland skies recently delivered us two feet of fresh, powdery snow.   With enthusiasm, my husband and I loaded the snowmobiles to ride remote, wooded trails and cross frozen lakes and rivers.  Along about the fifth hour of our remote excursion and after consuming a 36 ounce liquid mix of coffee, water and grapefruit Pellegrino, I knew I needed to make a pit stop post-haste.  As the fearless trail leader of our little pack, Mr. Martini obliged me by leading me across icy field and stream to the nearest town; 20 miles away as the crow flies.  We are not crows.

I sprinted into the nearest (and only) establishment with an indoor Loo and headed straight to The Head.  In the 10 minutes it took me to redress in full snowmobile regalia, it occurred to me that I had not planned on making a purchase.  This is where faux pas savviness finally presents itself.

» Faux Pas Lesson «

 Should you need to utilize the facilities of a business and your plans did not include true patronage, PLEASE demonstrate true savoir-faire and make a least one, small purchase for the privilege of using their amenities.  They will appreciate it and you will have demonstrated respect and thankfulness.  In addition to these little benefits, I personally enjoyed the house drink specialty;  A Double Moose Ear Cappuccino with an extra shot of Moose Ears.  I had a long ride ahead of me after all.

My Moose

K. Martini

What is a party with spinich dip? It’s a Direct Sales Home Party!

Posted on January 11, 2015

I recall the days when Tupperware and Avon were the home party king-pins.  In fact, other than traveling salespeople peddling encyclopedias and vacuums, burping plasticware and Skin-So-Soft were only available through prestigious home party sales.  I could not wait for the seasonal Avon catalog to be released.  It was the female pre-pubescent equivalent of the lingerie section of the Sears catalog for the boys.  Page upon glossy page of big girl glamour enticed me.  I don’t recall my mother ever hosting such a soiree which accounts for why I relied on taking babysitting jobs from Avon representatives to obtain free samples of girlie goodies.  Today, you could attend a home party nearly every night for four years and still not exhaust the product possibilities.  There are more than 1500 direct sales companies that make up the $35 billion dollar industry.  Thirty Five BILLION!  To date, and to the best of my recollection, I have been invited to 42 home parties and spent an astounding $6000.00 on a cornucopia of crap (except for my black lace Cabi skirt with the hidden elastic waistband).

Here, my friends, is just a sampling of the goodies I am currently in possession of…

  • A locket missing all but one fake rhinestone I’m sure was eaten by and killed my cat.

  • Long wear lipstick that turns a ghastly shade of purple only Courtney Love could wear.

  • Crystal candle holders that require candles only available by special order at a price that exceeds the holders.

  • A gluten-free crust mix the moths invaded but I’m sure will bake out – someday.

  • Amazonite earrings missing the amazonite.  What the heck is amazonsite?

  • A cat collar for a cat that died two days after the order arrived. Damn locket.

  • A $50 potato chip maker sitting in my garage sale pile in it’s original packaging.

  • A vaginal lubricant my granddaughters use as Barbie hair gel.

  • A $100 limited edition (ohhh, ahhh) cake basket that currently holds the purple lipstick, cat collar and Barbie’s vaginal lubricant.

Why do I attend such functions?  I go for the female bonding experience, the mediocre wine and spinach dip and to support my friend’s need to earn a little extra cash or bling.  I am under no obligation to attend.  A polite declination is perfectly Faux-Pas acceptable.  If I attend, I also understand that I am under no obligation to purchase anything but I happen to be a sucker for a well-presented sales pitch that inevitably convinces me that I NEED the peddled product.  I can also easily justify this thought process because my friend needs the extra cash and/or bling.  Yes, there is some social pressure involved at these shindigs. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to be the only person who fails to place an order.  I have been known to order up the least expensive item available just to appease my ego but I’ve always done it with a happy heart.  After all, I need some more crap for next spring’s garage sale.

K. Martini

Trial Style

Posted on March 15, 2014

Two years ago I received a very official looking letter in the mail.  My initial thought it was a clever marketing campaign by another struggling carpet cleaning company.  Upon closer scrutiny (and before it hit the recycling bin), I realized it was not a marketing gimmick but in fact, a government issued envelope.  Of course my mind began to catastrophize. Did I run a red light?  Did I enter the carpool land as a single occupant?  Did I actually strangle  my   husband?  Did I did I did I?  My heart raced as I tore open the    envelope.  It was then I understood I had been called to fulfill my civic duty;  I was officially summoned to jury duty.

Relief ensued  just prior to  coping an attitude of inconvenience.  The court however; did not agree with my definition of hardship.  Seems as though Tuesday’s lunchtime massage would have to be rescheduled.  The simple truth is that it’s difficult for the average person to shirk the obligation without making themselves subject to hefty penalties that could include jail time.  How ironic.  U.S. citizen?  Check.  Proficient in English?  Check.  Disqualifying mental or physical condition?  Hmm…check.  At least 18 years of age?  Barely.  Since I could not get out of it, I would embrace it!

Ever being the overachiever, I arrived 15 minutes ahead of the designated time.  I dressed tastefully in business casual attire.  I carried a notebook, two pens, one pencil and enough magazines to share with those who forgot appropriate reading material and TicTacs.  I also sat in the front row, center seat.  As the holding room began to grow with prospective jurors, my astonishment also grew.  One woman sported Hello Kitty pajama pants and a stained pink tee-shirt begging someone to “Check for Lumps“.  I’m only assuming but I don’t think she walked the 60-mile Susan G. Komen charity walk.  One gentleman thought it appropriate to wear a baseball cap thoughtfully reminding us to “Sheath that knife, she ain’t your wife“. Two people were reminded to turn off their cell phones whereby one  grumbled to the deputy that she had nearly reached a personal best in Candy Crush.

While I understand the club for overachievers is self-appointed, I hereby sentence you to read, absorb and follow elementary court standards out of r-e-s-p-e-c-t.  I just could not resist the judicial pun.

1.) Arrive at the appointed time.

2.) Keep inappropriate slogan apparel at home.  Your attire should be neat, clean and respectful.

3.) Take off your hat in the courtroom.

4.) Turn off your cell phone. No sound or vibrate modes should be active.

5.) Address the judge as “Your Honor” only.  The court is serious about this as one of my fellow jurors attempted to bond with the judge with a “Yoh Man”.  He was immediately escorted to the judges chambers with a smirk and came out noticeably smirk-free for the next 3 days.

6.) Keep quiet unless spoken to.

7.) Stand when the judge enters & exits the courtroom.

8.) Pay attention.  Do not look though magazines (even the ones I lent you) or work on your knitting project when in the courtroom.

9.) Toss your own personal trash (coffee cups, candy wrappers, newspapers, etc.).

10)  Do not talk about the trial details with anyone outside the courtroom or jury room until the end of the trial.

I will admit that I found the entire experience to be “rich”.  I made new acquaintances,  I served my country without having to wear camo and I learned a little bit more about our judicial system from the right side of the law.  The odds are about 1 in 6.73 that you will be summoned to serve within your lifetime.  In one year, the odds are roughly 1 in 125 that you will be selected as a juror.  Should your number come up, try to remember that the quality and integrity of our democratic system will be demonstrated by you.

K. Martini

Language Blockade

Posted on December 6, 2013

I’ve always wished to communicate fluently in a language other than  my native English.  Like many, I know a smattering of words in Spanish, Japanese, French, German and Swahili.  I am confident that my rest room needs will be accommodated, my greetings conveyed and common curse words could be muttered under by breath in Mexico, Japan, France, Germany and Kenya.  I am also  confident that my worldly vocabulary will forever be limited to these few words.  I continue to lean on my belief that with friendly enthusiasm and genuine interest, anything can be conveyed – it will just take a little longer.

In college, I briefly dated a young man who was of Puerto Rican descent.  Understand that his attendance was legendary as his choice of higher education was located in the upper Midwest where Puerto Rican individuals were viewed as aliens.  What attracted me to him was his ability to light up the dance floor in much the same way John Travolta did in Saturday Night Fever.  Every girl wanted to dance with him but every Saturday night for two years he chose me as his evenings dance partner.  At the end of the second year of our dancing partnership, he invited me to his house to meet his extended family.  I enthusiastically accepted and quickly found myself the alien.  I spent the evening listening to friendly banter in a language completely foreign to  me.  I became Cheerful Stupid ;  I sat quietly in a corner chair with a plastic smile planted on my face pretending I was comfortable with the situation.  All the others present also spoke English fluently.  They had neglected to account for the one person in the room who could only utter “Me encantaria bailar contigo” (I would love to dance with you), “Le gusta bailar gran” (You dance great!) and “La camisa poliester bonito” (Your polyester shirt looks nice).  I quickly learned that these phrases limited my articulate footprint and I was left feeling isolated and awkward; except from 9-12pm on Saturday night when spoken language was unnecessary.

This was not an isolated incident.  I’ve faced many similar social situations over the years and most recently at the local nail salon. It is owned, operated and staffed by first generation Vietnamese women who rarely stray from their native tongue.  I am convinced the unrecognizable comments and giggles around me are aimed at my neglected cuticle or color choice of OPI nail polish.  I become paranoid. I become Cheerful Stupid all over again and leave the establishment  not in a state of pampered calm but in one of anxiety. To make matters worse, I paid for the service all for the low, low cost of $50 plus tip.

As we embark upon the holiday season and social gatherings amplify, please take a moment to survey your surroundings.  Extend that consciousness and respect into the new year and should you detect the distinctive cheerful  stupid grin, graciously engage that person fully into the conversation.  That is unless they are happily floating across the dance floor.

K. Martini

Cheerful Stupid:

Words for the Broken: Part One

Posted on October 20, 2013


With a heavy heart, I am re-posting Words for the Broken.  This morning, a young friend of our family lost their youngest, three-year-old daughter.  It was sudden and unexpected.  As my heart breaks in their sorrow and grief, I ask that you read the simple advice below.  I also ask that you lift your heart in prayer for this young family and for those in your life who are facing their own personal struggles.

I’m convinced that death and divorce bring out the worst in people.  Some folks behave as though the event is contagious and fade out of the lives of those left behind.  Others simply shed their facade and display their true colors.  I guess you could say this is redundant.

I’ve faced many joys in recent years and many sorrows.  My best friend’s husband died in a sudden and tragic accident.  Two young couples each lost their…

View original post 391 more words

Words for the Broken: Part One

Posted on October 20, 2013

With a heavy heart, I am re-posting Words for the Broken.  This morning, a young friend of our family lost their youngest, three-year-old daughter.  It was sudden and unexpected.  As my heart breaks in their sorrow and grief, I ask that you read the simple advice below.  I also ask that you lift your heart in prayer for this young family and for those in your life who are facing their own personal struggles.

I’m convinced that death and divorce bring out the worst in people.  Some folks behave as though the event is contagious and fade out of the lives of those left behind.  Others simply shed their facade and display their true colors.  I guess you could say this is redundant.

I’ve faced many joys in recent years and many sorrows.  My best friend’s husband died in a sudden and tragic accident.  Two young couples each lost their newborn sons within hours of giving birth.  My husband lost both his parents within three months of each other.  A dear friend lost her  battle with breast cancer.  My mother died.  The days, weeks, months and years that followed these events provide much of the council here.

Walking through the storm of grief that accompanies the death of a loved one is harrowing.  It is traumatic and confusing.  Turmoil ensues in the first hours and days of the death and gives passage to a journey of unspeakable suffering.  Unfortunately, it is during these heart-rending times that many of us stumble with our words and deeds all delivered with good intention but all too often cause additional injury to the grieving.

Conveying heart-felt sympathies does not have to be tricky yet for some reason the discomfort of death often prompts us to deliver canned and inappropriate responses.

“It was for the best.”

“It was God’s will.”

“God does not give you more than you can handle.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“This will make you stronger.”

“You need to move on.”

“I know how you feel.”

“You have other children / You can have other children.”

“You will get over it.”

All of those statements are inappropriate and injurious.

What do we say to someone who is suffering from the death of a loved one?  As with all etiquette principles, we must first and foremost consider the feelings of the other person.  This is definitely not the time to turn the focus onto you.  You must dig deep and become selfless.  You do not and cannot know what they are feeling.  Their grief experience is theirs and theirs alone. Appropriate comments may be any of the following:

“I’m sorry.”

“I cannot imagine what you must be feeling.”

“I’m here to support you in whatever you need.”

When in doubt as to what to say, try a gentle hug, a shared tear, a silent prayer.  All these non-verbal messages will convey to the broken your authentic feelings without the risk of saying something unintentionally hurtful.

Then, when the days turn to weeks and the weeks into months and years, demonstrate your best form ever by quietly walking alongside the broken for the duration of their journey, as long as that may take.  That my friends, is the epitome of good form.  ♥


Nearly Naked Neanderthals

Posted on August 10, 2013

Most mornings I greet the day by taking a two-mile run/walk (mostly walk) around the quiet parks and streets of my neighborhood.  I covet this time.  If I rise early enough I can trek without the barking of dogs or the roar of lawn mowers.  I can contemplate my day or meditate without distraction.  I become focused; more balanced.  Serenity and calm take over the anxieties created from a hectic life pace.

Picture if you will, a morning sky filled with white puffy clouds, an air temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and a dazzling but lazy sun just peeking up from the horizon.  The song of robins and cardinals singing in the light breezed filled air.  Perfection, until horror strikes and yanks me from my happy place faster than an automatic sprinkler.  As I round the corner of my final meditative workout, my eyes lock on an extraordinary site. A paunch, middle-aged, haired covered man wearing nothing but his ill-fitting tidy (almost) whities.  The site is completed by his generous and drooping mid-section which only serves to exaggerate the exposure of his backend crevice.  As he bends down to grab the mornings newspaper, he spots me, gives me a sluggish wave of his hand and a leisurely “Howdy do”.  Momentarily stunned, I respond with “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it?”  How ironic.

The week following this real-life encounter, I began to notice additional specimens of the same phenomenon.  An 80 year-old man sauntering down the street with only his new, white Sketchers and too-tight, polyester running shorts.  A teenage boy mowing his parent’s lawn with only ear buds and an iPhone clipped to his sagging jeans.  A wannabe Lance Armstrong bicyclist peddling bare-chested along the busy highway with sweat dripping along his very white and shiny, hairless back.  Apparently, my veil of ignorance has been lifted along with the arrival of the warm and short northern summer.

As a child, I can’t recall witnessing shirtless men unless it was the neighborhood fathers exiting the community pool.  When did this phenomenon of masculine bare chests become the norm rather than the exception?  Once again, I must have missed the progressive movement.

Gentlemen young or old, slim or heavy,  Ryan Gosling or your average Joe are not exempt from etiquette fashion protocols.  Unless you are sitting in your recliner in the private confines of your home, at the beach or playing a game where skins and shirts are opposing teams, cover it up boys.  Just because you can, does not mean you should.  This is not a prudish viewpoint but rather one of civility and respect.

Neanderthals you are not.

shirtless man

K. Martini

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