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Monday, January 21, 2008

Talk to Your Kids About Potatoes Before Their Friends Do

This is the picture. The one and only picture I managed to snap when we went on vacation to winter:

That's some sure-nuf expensive ice cream!

But it's never too early to find a natural opportunity to talk to your kids about potatoes before their friends do.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christmas Update

The scene at my house last weekend:

What Kind of Finch am I, I asked myself?

"Today, we're taking down the Christmas tree," I announced to my family. It being January 6th, and all, my neighborhood hadn't even a teeniest reminder that Santa swooped through, leaving mounds of cardboard boxes in the green recycling bins, barely 12 days prior. No indicators of Christmas past, that is, except my house, where my children continued to dutifully plug in the dancing lights each evening.

A collective, "No!" erupted from my spouse and children. "Please, please, Mama, can we keep it. Just one more week," begged my 12 year-old. "Please," chimed in his siblings and father.

This is it, I told myself, we're going to be like the Finches, with a dead, brown, decorated tree in our living room well into the off-season; all of us walking past it day after day no longer even bothered by its presence, and the kids even snacking on candy canes harvested from needleless branches. I refer to the Running with Scissors Finches, of course, as opposed to the To Kill a Mockingbird Finches.

(If you have not read Running with Scissors yet, spare yourself from it, and read If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny instead. If you have, are, or plan to read it, then you must also read If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny to reassure yourself, post Scissors, that crazy isn't necessarily pathological and funny doesn't have to be shocking.)

Well, I found myself faced with a serious decision to make. Would I be an Atticus Finch, sticking to my resolve, my morals, my scruples, my sense of right and wrong, or would I be an Agnes Finch, losing complete control over my household and the people in it?

Call me Agnes, because I caved. The tree stands downstairs right now, lights flashing like a Vegas disco. Shoot, the next thing I know, the kids will pound a hole through my kitchen ceiling and I won't even glance heavenward for help. Agnes incarnate, I won't know I need it.

The scene in my house this evening, January 12:

All children, spouse included, have been assured the Grinch, the pre-roastbeast-carving Grinch, will steal Christmas and dump it off of Mt. Crumpet (or at least drag it out to the street). Because I would rather be a Grinch than a Finch any day.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Crown and Cookies, Sally?

Selling a newspaper humor column isn’t easy for a non-assertive, thin skinned, painstakingly polite woman like myself. But I spend a lot of time walking into the offices of editors and publishers, anyway, unexpected and unannounced.

When I get a face-to-face with the chief in charge, I’ve got under 5 minutes to give my spiel and shove my marketing package into his or her hand. Five minutes doesn’t give me very long to convince a tired, worn out, crotchety guy to add my contribution not just to the overwhelmingly tall stack of papers on his desk, but also to his publication.

Aside from calling back, calling back, calling back, and calling back some more, I’ve learned a few other sales rules that I stick to without deviation:

1) Close the deal sooner rather than later. Whether the answer is yes or no, getting an answer allows me to redirect my energy to the next sale.

2) Visualize hearing the right words. I call upon the cafĂ© scene from When Harry Met Sally. In my mind, I cut and paste the editor’s face onto Meg Ryan’s body and listen while he pounds his desk and screams, “Yes, yes, yes!”

3) Humor increases the odds. Always make ‘em laugh. Sometimes I take one of my children along. My youngest son, on one such adventure, wound up face down, spread-eagle under a publisher’s over-stuffed golf bag. As his little legs and arms waved helplessly, like a box turtle someone held at eye-level, my newspaper column got accepted.

4) Put them in a position in which they cannot say, “No.” (See #3 above.)

5) Take a gift. I’ve perfected my own recipe for chocolate-chip grits cookies. Editors and publishers, being of the dispositions that they are, respond favorably, especially when I serve their snack with whisky.

Now that Palm Tree Press released my new book, If Mama Don’t Laugh, It Ain’t Funny, I’m using these same five principles to get it into the hands of the public.

So . . . Crown and cookies, Sally?