Friday, January 31, 2014

Theory 30: Workplace Etiquette training should be a graduation requirement.

Not gonna lie. As I write this, my hands are crippled with cold (you should see the typos in the rough draft), my house is a toasty (not) 55 degrees, Sharky is begging to get on the computer, and dishes are piled up with no Cascade in sight. I’m trapped by snow, icy roads, miserably cold temperatures, and no decent space heater to aid us. Plus, Sharky used up all the hot water in his first shower in three days so I had to take – YES – a cold shower. But, I’d rather be here than at work. Why? Sometimes we working women just need a break from the scenery. We need a break from the routine. And, we need a break from the drama and stress caused by our coworkers. Today, I present Theory 30: Workplace Etiquette training should be a graduation requirement. Hmmm, I’m a business education career technical teacher (vocational, ya’ll). I do my best to enlighten the students who pass through my class, but maybe I should hustle up a lesson plan for adults and charge a nominal, um, fair fee. According to my sources, there is quite a need. So, what if I did create such a course? How would that look?

Workplace Etiquette Course Description
In Workplace Etiquette 101, students of all ages will develop the attitude and behaviors of professionalism to advance one’s career and avoid premature retirement by the following: demonstrating appropriate dining behavior in break rooms, showing the ability to appropriately NOT speak for certain lengths of time, mastering telecommunications skills and equipment, analyzing one’s own and others’ body language, and exhibiting overall self-control with sensitive information.

Note to instructors: Common Core-ish Standards do not apply here. You must teach and assess with explicit learning outcomes. Standards are expressed in student-friendly terminology to maximize value added growth. Standards are broken down with specific non-examples for unquestionable clarification. Standards are addressed toward females for the simplicity of using only one gender in pronouns (her/she). “They,” “them,” and “their” are plural, dang it.


            ***I, Bug, gathered these peeves from Theories readers throughout cyberspace. These peeves are not (all) mine. Oh, no. Actually, I came up with a few of them because I am guilty. This post is not an opportunity to be offended, but an opportunity to be enlightened and improved. Plus, you can print it/email it/like it/share it onward to, ahem, enlighten and improve the coworker you tolerate who needs to benefit from such instruction. By the way, thanks to all my awesome readers for contributing!***

Now, let’s continue with the course, okay? Okay!

Standard 1: Real Estate Rules
1.1 Don’t touch my stuff. It is super rude to sling your nasty pocket-book up on somebody’s desk. Don’t you set it in the floor in the bathroom? In restaurants? Gross! Plus, no one wants your Black Lab tendrils all over her perfect lab reports. Don’t set a dripping drink on her day planner, either. She may be neurotic, but your dollar sweet tea could cause her to miss a meeting, a deadline, or the one-hour flash sale she’s hitting during her “sales call.”
1.2 Get off her turf. If you want to see what your coworker is up to on the computer, friend her. Don’t look over her shoulder. What if she’s writing a letter of resignation, checking her bank balance or— worse—ate hummus for lunch? You sure you want to take that risk?
1.3 Know the zones. General workers: Don’t let customers behind the desk/line/counter/employee door, especially if you wait tables. Once a customer has seen the restaurant kitchen, she is never the same. (Be sure to read Theory 7: Everyone should work in a restaurant for a deeper explanation. Teachers: Don’t send students to the teacher’s lounge/break room/copy room. Ever. They might hear some Common [Core] language they aren’t ready to hear.
1.4 Don’t come in my office/classroom and comment on what you see. Yes, my (Bug) students are loud because I am loud. And because they are just loud people.

Standard 2: Use furniture, fixtures, and equipment the right way or don’t use them at all.
2.1 Printers (especially personal ones) are off limits! If you need your coworker’s granny’s banana pudding recipe, ask nicely and she’ll print you a copy.
2.2 Don’t abuse the copier (machine) or the next copier (person). Manuals are online for a reason, but some of us do need paper for note taking and analysis. Plus, some of us can’t figure out how to find those online manuals in the first place. Everyone else, back off the toner. Walgreens and Snapfish are great places to order economical Christmas cards. Teachers, throw the page up on your Smart Board, don’t Xerox-waste thousands of copies and every other teacher’s planning period hogging the copier.
2.3 If you jam the copier, own up to it. Suck it up and call the number on the sticker. When you leave the copy room with the “original document” and nothing else, we know. We. All. Know.
2.4 Everyone should communicate on the same horizontal plane. When you set up your office, make sure the chairs or couch in front of your desk are the same height as your chair. When coworkers come in and sit down, they should look at you not UP at you. Just because you are “higher up” that doesn’t mean you have to literally be “higher up.”
2.5 Don’t abuse the break room.
If you are on a high protein, low carb diet, eat bacon. It is not cool to heat left over fish for in the common microwave…..gross!
2.6 Pack your own snacks. It is unsanitary to eat off a coworker’s plate or from the trash (true story). Also, chew with your mouth closed.
2.7 Everyone deserves a key to the building.

I see you back there.

Standard 3: Time means money. Extra time means sanity. Personal time is personal.
3.1 If you walk into a coworker’s classroom or office and she’s on the phone, turn around. Don’t stare her down. Once, I, Bug, was on the phone with my cousin Bags during the workday. We were laughing it up when Bags sighed, “Ugh, Bug, I have to hang up. There’s a mouth breather staring at me through the glass.”
3.2 Don’t ask an employee to go Kroger-ing for work. If you do, give her the money (for stuff and gas) up front and send her during work hours, not on her own time.
3.3 Be on time for everything all the time. Or be early. Red Hot can hit two school zones, McDonald’s and Starbucks and get here on time. So can you. Broken down, flat-tired teachers are always getting rides from each other and they make it on time. So can you.
3.4 Support and attend or flat out cancel baby showers. Men, where are you on this one? Why do WOMEN do this to each other? If you are in a new company, don’t set a precedent for showers or birthdays. Ain’t’ nobody got time for that. See Standard 3.2.  
3.5 Don’t asked an employee to sell Visa credit cards on vacation! True story. My (Bug here) boss asked me to take Visa card applications on my vacation to Panama City Beach. He said, “We have branches there. You could go up to people while you are hanging out by the ocean and ask if them to apply. Really? Who wants to be accosted by a tipsy MiracleSuit-ed mama toting a clipboard and Paper Mate pen? I refused. He wrote me up.
3.6 Bladder health is crucial. Teachers (especially elementary schoolteachers) are known for poor bladder health. Why? Because they never get to tee-tee! If you are a school district superintendent, you should hire one security officer and one potty patrol officer for every floor of every school. Have the PPO check door to door and offer teachers relief. Literally.

Standard 4: Don’t be a techno-snob
4.1 Sometimes paper is better. You may zip through commands on your MAC at home or know all the latest apps, but the 70-year-old lending genius who says “hunt and poke” may be a genius on paper. Don’t judge.
4.2 Train for success. If your coworker moves the mouse, checks the screen to see “where it went,” moves the mouse again, checks the screen again, etc., gently offer a lesson or do the regulatory exam for her. FYI SEC/FDIC/OSHA officials, no one over 70 takes those tests. Their 30-year-old bosses do the tests for them.  
4.3 All supplies matter. If your coworker is old school and needs White-Out and mechanical pencils, order them.
4.4 Apply operating system skills to written communication. Emails should be no longer than a paragraph. Stop with the essays with attachments. Write with positive and neutral phrases. To explore this topic further in a more relevant context, visit Theory 29: There are right ways and wrong ways to date online.

Standard 5: Practice and interpret appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication strategies.
5.1 Master the art of workplace storytelling. Record the length, time, and date of your stories so you don’t repeat them more than once a month.
5.2 Tit for tat. If you tell stories, don’t act annoyed and too busy to listen when you have to hear a story. Again. This week.
5.3 Let sleeping dogs lie until a customer shows up. If you have an employee/coworker who sleeps, call her when the customer is about 20 feet away. That will give her time to sit up and wipe the drool off her chin.
5.4 Make eye contact.
5.5 Demonstrate phone call consideration. Really? Don’t text at 3:30 a.m. because the recipient may wake up and text back at 3:38 a.m. (sorry, my bad). Snow days are vacation days.
5.6 Don’t interrupt. For teachers specifically: If a fellow teacher is talking to you, don’t interrupt her story to tell students to be quiet. She may be having a romantic crisis. She needs you.
5.7 Smile. Don’t walk around without a constant frown on your face.  At least look happy!
5.8 Demonstrate polite behavior. If you are walking down the hall and someone passes, look up, make eye contact, and SPEAK.
5.9 Stop your whining. You work to work to make money that you are paid for working. Be positive! Don’t complain! Don’t’ make excuses and quit being all lazy bones.
5.9 Operate efficiently on the dreaded conference call. Who came up with these? Don’t be that chic who chimes in, states her name a couple of times, and touts some numbers just to be obviously present. We all know you are in the dressing room at Belk and you are the call take longer.

Standard 6: Watch your mouth. Watch your hands.
6.1 Don’t suck up to the boss. It’s obvious. We all see it. You are embarrassing yourself.
6.2 Stay out of the lounge if you are weak. Gossip and negativity are bad, even though everything you hear is absolutely true.
6.3 Keep romantic stories out of the office, especially if they take place in the office. We have to be able to concentrate on conference calls.
6.4 Be prepared to combat come-ons. Borrow one from Bug: A coworker invited me to skinny dip in his pool one night when his wife was out of town. I remarked, “It’s tempting. I’ve always wondered if my iridescent stretch marks would actually glow in the dark.”
6.5 Deflect compliments as they may be come-ons. Another one from Bug: When a lecherous male banker said, “You look beautiful today,” I responded, “Thanks! I am wearing new brand of control top pantyhose so I guess they work!”
6. 6 Hands off the pregnant belly. Yes, babies kick in the womb, but that’s no reason to grope an already self-conscious woman in the elevator.
6.7 Leave breast feeding conversations at home. Men, especially you. Nunya business.

~ ~ ~
Speaking of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I just thought of a new theory! Next week, let’s explore baby etiquette for new mothers with Theory 31: Mama’s behavior determines howwell other folks like her baby.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Whew. What's ticking you off at work? I want to know your workplace pet peeves.

No big post this Friday (January 23).
Sorry readers, I am WORN FLAT OUT with work, school, sports, speaking engagements, and assorted other responsibilities associated with domestic bliss and just didn't have time this week to conjure up a thousand words that I'd be proud to share with you.

BUT, that being said, as I do start work on Theory 30: Workplace Etiquette training should be a graduation requirement, I would love YOUR input! Writers really enjoy collaborating with readers. The more muses the better!

This is easy. I just want to know your pet workplace peeves. What do others do that really bugs you at work? Give me a sentence or a paragraph. No stress. Relax, no grammar rules or spelling strain. Just vent to your buddy Bug.

I'll likely write the post as a list with solutions. For example:

Pet Peeve: When a co-worker stands behind me and looks at my computer screen.
Solution: If you want to see my Facebook page, just friend me.

Now, your responses will be top secret. We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, do we? We don't want to get fired, do we? Be real, but be discreet.  If you have a pet peeve I can use, simply email it to me at or message me through my personal or Theories: Size 12 Facebook pages. Here are the links.

Bug (Jody Cantrell Dyer) page:

Theories page:

I will draw a mystery prize winner from all those who respond with peeves!
Won't that be neat?
I'll draw a winner and contact you for your mailing address.

Now, just for fun, here are a couple of pictures from a very eventful week  in Glen Cove.

Some families enjoy Manwich, mine enjoys a slow Mom-witch. Thanks a bunch, Sharky!

The Gnome blew his nose.
Okay fellow Theorists, send me your workplace peeves! I'll see you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Theory 29: There are right ways and wrong ways to date online.

Last week in Theory 28, I spelled out some of my romantic woes with a man I’ve never met who is committed to using my W-2 and Social Security Number to prove our financial bond and make hay with… tax refunds. Well, I’m committed to Tall Child, I can tell you that I am 100% certain that no man or flawed government institution (IRS) will put us asunder. Plus, I’ve learned through my buddy that I don’t want to enter the modern day dating scene.

My colleague Red Hot (single mother to Suspenders and Spectacles) is a member of the online dating community, and over the last year, I’ve lived vicariously and virtually through her digital dramas. She uses a site for men and women over 50 years old, even though I think she’d make an awesome cougar with her vibrant personality, red cowboy boots, life experience, and sexy Tre`semme`ed curls. Red Hot is not the only friend or family member relying on dot coms for dot diamonds, so I figured a good post of the dos and don’ts of online dating may help cure the lonely.
Red Hot and I are teachers, so it’s only natural we use brain based research to teach readers how and how not to conduct themselves while looking for love online. We’ve constructed a list using Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. Gardner explains that learners excel with one or more of eight learning styles. So, to meet the needs of individual learner daters, we will break down the dos and don’ts of online dating by learning style. So, try to identify what your love interests’ learning styles are, and consider these dos and don’ts. Also, music is CRUCIAL to romance, so Red Hot and guest contributor Cool Country Ginger tossed out one song that peaks their radio waves for each learning style category:

VISUAL/SPATIAL LEARNERS – learn by observation and visual stimulation.

Don’t post a picture from 1987. First, you let everyone know you must be now bald, fat, and hairy (male or female). Confused about bodily changes as you age? Consult Theory 13: As people get old, they morph into the opposite gender. Plus, you come across as a goober when you have a mullet, tinted sunglasses, Coca-Cola shirt, and are leaned against a Chevy Impala. Nobody wants to know that you THINK you are “athletic and toned” when, in reality, you are a hog. Potential daters will fear the 2010 version of you.

Do have someone take a flattering, current photo of you. He/she should take the picture at an angle above, not below looking up at you. That way your feet don’t look three times the size of your head. Google “good photo techniques for portraits.” Good research leads to good romance. We suggest you use natural light. Fluorescent bulbs highlight wrinkles, wash you out, and make color-treated hair look brassy or bleachy. Go on and be fat in the photo so no one feels misled. Besides, some people like curvy women.

Don't put more pictures of your Yorkie, cat, pontoon boat, Harley, tomato plants, yard, fruit trees, porch, children (that means you share custody), any woman your age (confusing), and—for Heaven’s sake, your mother (Psycho) than you do of yourself. Be really careful what is in the photos. If you are a big man with a little bitty dog, that is a problem. And please wear a shirt.

Song: “She thinks my tractor’s sexy” (Kenny Chesney)

 ~ ~ ~

BODILY KINESTHETIC LEARNERS – learn through physical activity and body language. You like hands-on learning and role playing.

Remember, no matter how “close” you are in cyberspace, your first date will feel like a blind one (for blind date categorical analysis, see Theory 18: Blind dates are the best dates EVER!)

In case you actually plan to meet in person, don’t over promise for you are sure to under deliver. If you say you are a dancer, you’d better be able to break it down. What if your online man turns out to be a Grand Strand Shag Champ and you are a natural wall flower. No shagging for you!

Hate sports? Hate guns? Don’t say you’re an NRA member who loves the great outdoors unless you want to freeze your tail off in a duck blind to bond with your new guy.

Men, don’t post a photo of yourself shirtless, even if you are a Cross Fit madman.

If you were physically fit in 1985, that does not carry over to now. Played basketball in college? How about now? Where do you post up? Because it looks like some of you “athletic types” post up at the concession stand. Are you shaped more like the foul line or the ball?

Don’t try to be all “I’m a tough football playin’ stud” by not smiling in your pictures. That just screams mug shot, or dud, or wife beater, or desperate, or forced into this by a relative, or toothless. We don’t believe you are “happy, fun-loving, and adventurous” when you don’t look happy, fun-loving, or adventurous, but instead look like you just finished probating a will. 

By the way, if you are not athletic and slender, what makes you think you can demand a woman who is athletic and slender?

Caution: Always remember to install anti-virus software.

Song: “Shake it for me” (Luke Bryan)

~ ~ ~ 

LOGICAL/MATHEMATICAL LEARNERS– like patterns, calculations, processes, learning through concepts that just make sense.

Distance matters. Even online. If you live in the WCC or PAC 10, don’t promote yourself in the SEC. While we’re on this topic, Red Hot wants to know: Is there a woman shortage in California and Michigan? Or, are West Coast and Great Lakes guys just hot for Southern girls? Every other profile she sees is from a man in CA or MI.
Don’t get huffy if you meet a single mother online but she can’t meet you at your convenience. Nothing is convenient for her. This is your chance to shine! Do cater to her schedule. Expect her to eat fast, get to the point, and put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own. Need pre-marital prep/tutoring? Consult Theory 20: Never call a woman fat, lazy, or selfish. Them's fightin' words.

Song: “Home” (Michael Buble`)
~ ~ ~

MUSICAL/RHYTHMIC LEARNERS – love music and lyrics help you learn. You like vibration and rhythm, but not from too many sources.
You are sensitive and responsive to sound.

On-line Romeos, don’t expect someone “sensitive to sound” to jump at the chance to hang out at your triplets’ birthday party. Do woo with music. Think back to how different songs were the backdrops to certain romantic experiences. Find a song that helps you relate to him/her. You may strike just the right chord. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) My Baby Boomer Tall Child did. He won my heart on our first few dates by playing the Tams and knowing the words to every song. Plus, he dances at parties!

Don’t use it as a ringtone; if you ever do make it to the phone call stage, and she hears “our/your” song, she’ll think you are a musical playa.

Don’t say you play guitar. Someone may actually ask you to play guitar. Why don’t people think of that?

Song: “How deep is your love” (Bee Gees)

~ ~ ~ 

NATURALISTIC LEARNERS– respond to plants and animals and like to classify things.

Don’t claim to love spending time outside climbing rocks, wading in creeks, fishing, hunting, climbing, and looking for animals that aren’t really there unless you are ready to actually do all those things! (See Theory 9: The more a zoo advertises a critter, the less likely visitors are to see it.)

Don’t say you like to hike. There is no way that THAT many people actually like to hike. I (Bug) once went on a hiking date to The Chimney’s in The Great Smoky Mountains after I professed to like to hike. It was ugly. No one should sweat and pray, uphill, on a first date.

My cousins A-Boo and Bags and I had this conversation not too long ago:

Bug: What is your first date nightmare scenario? Mine would be having to wear a bathing suit.
A-Boo: Mine would be scuba diving. I'm not sure I could get a wetsuit up over my thighs. I eat too much cheese.
Bags: See-saw.

Song: “Islands in the stream” (Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers)

~ ~ ~

INTERPERSONAL LEARNERS– intuitive when it comes to the needs, thoughts, and emotions of others. You navigate well among different personality types.

Don’t send a flirt, smile, or any other random one-click response! If I am important enough to flirt with, send me a message with real words in it. Do respond to emails. If someone takes the time to email you, respond—even if only to say “thanks, but no thanks.” Don’t leave an online dater hanging in cyberspace to wonder through an infinite number of reasons for being dumped by a stranger.

Don’t be a smart mouth and call out someone for something he or she says on the profile page. Verbal abuse is just not the ideal way to start a relationship. Don’t like me? Click on "next" to see more results.

Whoa, boy, do be careful with the text messages. Remember that texts and emails do not communicate inflection, tone, or mood. Red Hot had a date scheduled with someone we’ll call “MooMan.” On his way to meet up with her, MooMan texted, “Hey, what do you want to do tonight?” Red Hot texted back, “Whatever.” MooMan turned his car around and drove back to Moo-ristown. Red Hot was simply being easy-going and agreeable, but MooMan took the text in a negative way (he’s probably letting disappointment from his past determine his attitude). Red Hot said, “He’s too MooDy.” She dumped him.

Song: “True companion” (Marc Cohn)

~ ~ ~ 

INTRAPERSONAL LEARNERS – have superb self-understanding and appear calm, self-assured, and self-aware.

These may be the hardest fish to catch, because they know precisely what they need and are self-sufficient. Don’t offer to be a hero. Do offer to be an equal partner. Single parents especially don’t want to carry you (financially, emotionally, or otherwise). Chauvinists and male-bashers need not apply. Red Hot’s profile reads, “Make my life [even] better or don’t bother.”

Don’t reach out to someone if you know you’ll never go out with her. These learners know when they are being played, and they might report you to the dating forum moderator. Do remember to search and comment with caution; There’s no back button in online dating.

Song: “I’m sexy and I know it” (Redfoo)
~ ~ ~

VERBAL/LINGUISTIC LEARNERS – learn through language and know how to influence and articulate to others through written and spoken language.
Don’t trash the Queen’s English, unless you want someone who don’t know how to talk proper. There, their, and they're are many academic ways to turn off a potential love interest. Spell check and proof read to find the kind of lovin’ you need.

Do be academically realistic. A smart lady doesn’t want to be Jenny to your Forrest.

Do be honest in your profile. If you really want to meet someone, you need to take the time to write a respectful, detailed, and well-thought-out profile. Write SOMETHING specific about yourself. Don’t copy and paste! If you plagiarize, you’ll womanize. Pen “I’ll tell you later” and we’ll delete you now.

DON’T choose a username that includes “hot,” refers to any body part, tapping something, or makes any reference to minors.  Gag me with a dead Smurf! Examples of those Red Hot has deleted (just in the past few months) include:

UserNames                                                     Our Responses

HotSnake                                                        Get some Desitin

[Name]NeedsDate                                          You’re advertising that you’re advertising?

WalterBHot                                                    So B we, but who B hotter?

SweetManWV                                               Says your last girlfriend, a.k.a. “Sissy”

TapperDude                                                    You play percussion?

RockEnd                                                         Which end?

HotBeachLover                                              Hot lover, you love hot beaches? Confused.

UsedEasyGoer                                                Herpes?                                  

Kabobbin                                                        For ka-apples?

VocalMan                                                       You sound bossy.

HotMel                                                            As in the Diner?

TheEasy                                                          What?

TNTeachingStud                                             OMG we work together, get off my profile!

WildWhat’sHisName                                      Looking to settle down?

AloneNow[Name]                                          Sad. What will I have to fix?

FlyDrive                                                          This is a no fly zone.
Twerkin                                                           Not at your age. Nobody believes that.

LongPutter                                                       Four!
Song: No question on this one! “Let’s get it on” (Marvin Gaye)
~ ~ ~



Readers, I hope you learned something from Red Hot’s and my lesson today. You just never know who will be looking for love online. You, a friend, a coworker? We have to help each other. So, if you are focused, concentrating, and planning a difficult lesson or project and your colleague walks into your office or classroom and asks, out of nowhere, “Okay, what makes me smile?” she’s talking to somebody. Odds are he’s in California or Michigan, but still, she needs your help. Stop working. Be supportive. Collaborate with creativity. Help her format and proofread her way to happily ever after.
Speaking of proofreading, lessons, and co-workers, I just thought of next week’s Theory30: Workplace Etiquette training should be a graduation requirement.


See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Theory 28: Don’t blog about brother-husbands or women doing all the work. You’ll tempt fate.

Christmas break was not a break for me. 

Two parts of the day scream “vacation” to me. The first is early morning, when I open my eyes and start mentally checking off my working mother to-do list, and realize that I—Yee Haw!—don’t have to go to work that day. I actually get up early on those mornings to extend my vacation. The second is late evening (for me 9:00 p.m.), when I start my person to person, bag to bag, ready for school-daycare-work tomorrow inventory and realize that I—Yee Haw!—don’t have to go to work tomorrow.  I missed such morning and evening relief this holiday season.

Yeah, yeah, teachers get lots of time off. When I whine a little about my job (teachers are superb, detailed, colorful complainers), I often hear “Well, at least you get summers off and lots of breaks.” Well, we need them! It just cracks me up how parents who say that are the same ones who post Facebook messages saying “Please tell me that schools aren’t closed tomorrow” or “I am so ready for my children to go back to school!” If parents are tired of their own two children after a couple of weeks, they should certainly reasonably understand that teachers like me, who monitor, educate, and protect TWO HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN students every school day, need respite. So, yes, I am busy and tired, and I was really looking forward to a nice long break where I could read to Gnome, watch Sharky’s basketball games, entertain family, and eat and drink at will. But, as my not-so “Tender Tennessee Christmas” unfolded, I learned a big lesson: Don’t blog about brother-husbands or women doing all the work. You’ll tempt fate.

Boy, did I tempt fate. In two ways.

In Theory 19, I wrote:
I’ve tried to beat myself home before so I could welcome me to a clean house and supper on the stove, but even Big Red can’t drive that fast.

Where’s my heavy duty help? Sometimes I want to be nurtured, to point and delegate, to get in the “luge” position and watch Bravo. Well, one uterus seems to equal no dice. I need another uterus to help me. Or maybe uteri? Can I get an “amen” from the sisterhood?

but I’m not sure I could live with a bunch of women. I think I’d rather have brother husbands. I could assign them domestic regions of responsibility and choose them according to skill! I’d marry one plumber, one electrician, one handyman, one pediatrician, one academic, one party boy, one financial expert, and one family man.”

Basically, I complained that men don’t do enough and women have to do too much and questioned that perhaps I need an additional man. Well, it turns out I have one. I tempted fate and found a mate!

I would like to introduce ya’ll to my second husband. No, wait, Tall Child and I are still married, so let me rephrase. I’d like to introduce ya’ll to Tall Child’s brother husband, Joe L. I met Joe back in July. My CPA— let’s nickname him “Fair(way) Tax” because he’s a golf-fanatic and conservative accountant—called me at school to tell me that my and Tall Child’s joint tax returns for 2011 and 2012, which we’d filed electronically, were rejected by the IRS. Fair(way) Tax asked me, “Do you know a guy named Joe L.?”

I said, “No, why?”

Fair(way) Tax said, “Well, the IRS says ya’ll are married.”

That dog won’t hunt!  I cussed a blue streak. For several minutes. I cussed Obama, the IRS, the tax code, humanity, Tall Child (though he had nothing to do with this), and men in general. Hey, even Jimmy Buffet admitted “it’s [his] own da[ng] fault.” Once the fatherly Fair(way) Tax talked me off the ledge(r), I did what all working mothers do. I didn’t cry. I didn’t pout. I started taking care of business.

I paid Sharky $20 to brothersit Gnome as I waited for, then spoke to, an IRS agent on the phone for 2 hours. Somehow, Joe L. got my Social Security number and my 2011 W-2 from Knox County Schools.

Needless to say, that my and Joe L.’s marital relationship has birthed a baby notebook full of correspondence between our clergy (the IRS) and me. FYI to the IRS – I spent five minutes on the internet and found a Mississippi address and phone number for my man Joe L.

In my letter to the IRS, I wrote:
            I included screen printouts of what I found. I hope that helps you solve this mystery. I do have a question: Should I file a police report? I hesitated to do so initially, hoping that the mix-up was clerical, not criminal. Also, am I accruing tax penalties? If so, will they be waived once this situation is cleared up? And, is the IRS investigating this fraud and will you file charges against Mr. Joe? Please advise.

The IRS responded with a whopping, “We received your correspondence” correspondence letter. No answers. No results. It’s 2014. Really? My and Joe L’s book baby is growing and getting so chubby! In November, the IRS sent me a sweet little note saying an Identify Theft Fraud Alert had been placed on my account. That didn’t stop them for giving MY money away! Just before Christmas break, I opened another letter from the IRS stating that thousands of dollars (my 2012 tax refund) was direct deposited. Somewhere out there. The letter asked, “Did you get this refund? If not, complete the enclosed forms.” Yay me. Down went one hour on the phone and an afternoon compiling more evidence of my honesty.

One letter I haven’t written is a love letter to my brother husband Joe L. Hmmm….

Dear Joe L.,
            I miss you baby! Even more, I miss my money that you stole! But, I take my vows seriously and I suppose this is one of the “worse” times. I’m sure we’ll work it out. So, what’s up down there? It’s cold here in Tennessee. How are you spending the tax refund? Building a deck? Buying a boat? Paying for your niece’s meth rehab?
            Enough chit chat. We need to sync our calendars. I need you. This long distance relationship is killing me. Mississippi is just too far away. Tall Child has to work this weekend and Sharky has 7 basketball games, so you need to wash his uniforms and make sure he’s at the gym thirty minutes before game time. Gnome and I will meet you there. Don’t forget his PowerAde! Also, Sharky’s buddy is spending the night Saturday night. You are staying up late with them because Gnome and I are lights out at 9:00 p.m. Speaking of, please get me some Pinot Grigio on your way home. A magnum. Ooh, and, Tall Child’s car is in the shop. Unless you know how to fix a water pump, we need you to at least take OUR tax refund that YOU deposited and pay for the repairs.
            If only you were closer, baby,….…..I could hit you in the face with a skillet.

                                                                                 The wife you've never met in Tennessee

Basically, I complained, again, that men don’t do enough and women have to do too much. I tempted fate and overloaded my plate.

Throughout December, I procrastinated (learned the art from Tall Child) every grown-up thing I needed to do, including the IRS romance stuff, until my big Christmas break—a two week span in which time would crawl and I would efficiently get stuff done and get ahead. I made a giant to-do list for The Eye of Adoption, Theories: Size 12, magazine articles, guest blog posts, holiday fun, bills, entertaining, gift-buying, you name it! Yay. Break. NOT.

Sharky and I got out of school Friday, December 20. We went straight to Wal-Mart to gobble up lots of cheap, thoughtful gifts for friends and family. We hit the grocery Check! We went to a party that night. Check! Off to a great red and green start! Saturday, Sharky played in four basketball games and I went back to Wal-Mart (this time with Delicious) so we could sneak presents for Sharky and Gnome. And we went to Hobby Lobby. I survived. She thrived. Check. Sunday, more basketball games. Monday, Sharky, Gnome and I headed out around 10:30 a.m. to buy groceries and run final errands. When we got home at 2:30 p.m., I walked into the kitchen to see my little jewelry box turned over on the kitchen table and the sliding glass door handle on the ground outside. GULP. I grabbed Gnome and yelled for Sharky to go back to the car immediately! I said, “We’ve been robbed and he may still be here. Hurry! Get out!” We rushed into Big Red. I cranked her up and backed her around so we were facing out of the driveway. My hope was that the robber would run across the driveway and I could hit him. With my car. Seriously. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead. Whatever. I was calm and ready to put pedal to medal and thief to pavement. I called 911 and waited for the po-po. I called Tall Child who asked, immediately, “Did they get the TV?” Panic time. Jesus and bowl games are the reasons for the season in the SEC.

The robber took, as they always do, things that mean nothing material and everything sentimental, particularly my peace of mind. I told Tall Child that the robber took my grandmother’s engagement bracelet, my grandfather’s Navy bracelet, and other heirloom costume jewelry. I cried a little. A seemingly unflustered Tall Child said, “Well, Bug, it’s only jewelry. I'm just thankful that you and the boys didn’t walk in on him.” I marveled at his calm response. Too soon. About an hour later I heard Tall Child scream, “That [expletive] [expletive] took my leaf blower!” Then, when he sat down to watch TV, I heard him say, what the [expletive] is wrong with the Comcast?” I explained, “The robber cut wires to our internet, cable, and old alarm system.” Tall Child yelled, “Doesn’t that [expletive] know it’s bowl season?”

Looooong story short, I spent the rest of my Christmas break (except for sweet visits with relatives) in increments of 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 pm or 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. with service workers from AT&T, Comcast, Champion Window and Door, Knox Co. Sheriff’s deputies, forensics, and a detective, and, finally ADT. Then AT&T again, then the insurance company, then Champion again. Ugh.

Who says students don't need to master informational text? This was my holiday reading material!

My valuables are likely gone forever. As far as Tall Child’s leaf blower goes, well, maybe Joe L. can buy us a new one. He can certainly afford it. Maybe I’ll hook up with him online.

Love, men, crime, and the internet are all mysterious. They bring equal thrill and possible pain, which brings me to Theory 29: There are dos and don’ts to online dating.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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