Thursday, August 23, 2012


The House of Windsor is no stranger to the royal flush of embarrassment resulting from leaked illicit recordings: Prince Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson was caught on tape trying to elicit a bribe in exchange for access to her former husband; the late Princess Diana's clandestine telephone calls with a lover were intercepted and detailed by the British tabloids for all the world to read. So when photographs of her son, Prince Harry, surfaced this week, confirming that what happens in swanky suites in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, it should have come as no real surprise. Embarrassing, yes. Shocking, no.
What was he thinking many wondered? I doubt he was, as he stood in his birthday suit, cuping the crown jewels. Royals are supposed to have handlers around to think those scenarios through FOR them. Apparently his security detail was asleep at the roulette wheel.
Hopefully, others will see his mortification as a cautionary tale in this digital age of instant snap-and-post where the underage beer pong and intimate lip-lock can be shared with the webiverse within seconds and without permission.
Remind your children, pre-teens and up, that they don't need to be famous to have their behavior captured by pixels and uploaded to the world-wide-web, where their wrong moves will live in infamy and haunt them for a long time.
Whether they are at a dance, fraternity exchange, or party, young people should be mindful that today's paparazzi need only a cell phone with a camera to catch someone in their worst candid camera moment.
Think of the internet - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, like the front page of the morning paper or billboard at the busiest intersection in town. If you don't want to be pictured there doing something inappropriate, don't provide eager shutterbugs with the opportunities. Afterall, it 'Manners' A lot!

Friday, August 17, 2012


There is a bug making the rounds these days. Its symptoms are few, it isn't accompanied by fever, and there is no known cure. Onset can begin as early as summer camp, and usually peaks at the beginning of a new school year. Not everyone will be stricken, but chances are you or someone you know has been hit with a bout of homesickness, whether you've walked your youngest into first grade or moved a son or daughter into their college dorm room hundreds or thousands of miles away.
It's been 40 years since my mother took the 'baby' of the family to kindergarten. I can't remember what I had for lunch two days ago, but that morning is seered in my memory bank. There stood my mom, lips quivering, tears welling up. My sister stood motionless, like a deer caught in headlights.
This week that same little girl joined the growing ranks of baby-boomer empty-nesters, taking her baby to college a state away. We could have done a week's worth of laundry with the waterworks in our family the past couple of weeks. Had someone not known better, they would assume the college coed was being deployed to Afghanistan, or worse yet - Calabassas to live with the Kardashian clan. Who knew sending a loved-one off to the University of fill-in-the-blank would stir feelings akin to banishment in Siberia or crusing aboard Titanic?
There are so many emotions and layers of dynamics at play when the apron strings are loosened, the heart strings are tugged, and the nest is suddenly nothing more than twigs and branches, that it would take a year of Dr. Phil episodes to decode it all.
This much I do know, having walked down this well-worn path four years ago when we sent our oldest, a high school sophomore at the time, away to a military academy boarding school: I'm not sure whom the situation is tougher on, but like a great wave off Malibu, everyone will need to ride it out.
Some, like my sister, will do so clutching her youngest's ankles as her child heads to class; others will never even put the car in park long enough to wave goodbye.
A year ago, we loosened the apron strings even more, moving our collegian into his dormitory at Ole Miss, the pride and joy of the South, where 'hotty toddy' isn't a beverage, but a religious experience and the excitement and energy could power a third-world nation. Our emotional trip was marked by arguments in the school supply aisles of Walmart, disagreements over whether we were allowed inside the sacred dorm room (college kids need our money, but still view us as members of an alien nation), and verbal battles about the necessity of a small battalion of appliances for a room smaller than a futon.
In our case, we couldn't part company fast enough, and our exhasperation prooved a great distraction on the flight home, until we returned to our nest, and listened for sounds of life. Instead, we were greeted by the whir of our appliances and the computer.
Whether your child will be adjusting to elementary school or living away from home for the first time, how you react will set the tempo for them. If you are doubled over and grief-stricken, expect a similar reaction from your student. Talking positively about the excitement to come, reassuring your child that this new chapter is a wonderful thing, and that these days ahead will be some of life's 'best of times', will be the strongest medicine possible for homesickness, on your end and theirs.
And when everyone is feeling better, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. When birdies leave the nest, it is mom and dad who helped strengthened their wings. Then slip into a bubble bath and let Calgon take you away. Afterall, it 'manners' a lot!

Monday, August 6, 2012


Sometimes, blog ideas slap you in the face like a wet towel, as was the case earlier at the Clearwater Car Wash - a hand-wash joint on Ocean Highway between South Carolina's seafood capitol - Murrells Inlet - and the state's commercialism mecca - Myrtle Beach.
A gully-washer of a thunderstorm loomed overhead. The sound of rolling thunder competed with the noise from inside the cave of oversized brushes and water works. The humidity promised a free wash for everyone.
The young man ahead of us was finally hailed over to his clean, grime-free SUV. A newer model. Like a Mars rover. Not the hillbilly wagon we were waiting to reclaim.
I worried those poor saps, dripping wet in the heat, polishing and wiping down cars, were going to keel over like the Olympic marathon walker last weekend. You just knew they'd rather be making smoothies up the road at Sonic. These hand-wash operators deserve every nickel of their tip - especially if it is a larger vehicle.
Curious as to whether the SUV's owner was going to reward the cleaner with a few bills, I watched as he approached his car, obviously his pride and joy. What happened next ultimately had my daughter and me doubled over in laughter, and then disappointment.
Mr. OCD inspected his vehicle with military precision, circling the wagon and pointing out a smudge here and a missed swipe there. Then his inspection focused on the interior. Oy. Every fiber of the carpeting was given the once over by this guy, while the car wash detail team stood by, aghast. Minutes rolled by to closing time. Mr. Obsessive-Compulsive grabbed a towel, apparently thinking it best to instruct these poor fellows on how to clean HIS car properly, as he waved the cloth in the air like a conductor.
Someone drag him over to our vehicle. He'd be horrified. Have a couple of kids. You won't be able to tell the difference between an inferior car wash and crayon marks.
The detail crew stood by, helpless. Was this a candid camera moment, perhaps? Unfortunately not. The owner of the vehicle proceeded to lift the hatch, and pull out his own cleaning supplies? Whah?! Either this guy is wound tighter than a fan belt, or the heat index has affected his thinking.
There is a myriad of items in the back of our vehicle - rusty beach chairs, an empty oil container, limbless dolls, but auto detail supplies are not included! He could have saved himself $17.99.
After the detail dance came to an end, and I prepared to gladly hand over my money to our wash boy, who looked as if he'd run through the sprinklers, I expected Mr. OCD to do the same.
Nope. Nada. Zippo.
Instead, the young SUV owner, upon green-lighting his own inspection, hopped into the car and sped away. I'm not sure what was worse, his insensitivity to the sweat and labor the boys had put into polishing his car, or his failure to tip them.
"I need a drink of water," the exhausted and deflated detail guy said as he walked by.
I think he just needed a drink!
Everywhere we turn these days, someone has a tip container at the ready, eager to be rewarded for doing next to nothing. There are plenty of self-services that don't merit a monetary appreciation. But the worker-bee who wipes down your car from bumper to bumper, inside and out, most certainly deserves a tip. Afterall, it 'manners' a lot!