Why I’ll never marry George Clooney

With the news that George Clooney is engaged to his 36-year-old lawyer girlfriend, millions of women’s hearts around the globe are breaking.

While they may be crying “Why not me?,” I won’t be one of them.

George-Clooney_0
George Clooney… in his single days

Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s as handsome as ever – and I’ve always had a thing for the strong, brooding, smart ones – but nope. I’m not marrying George.

Not until his Dad apologizes.

It’s like this… years ago, when I was a reporter covering Northern Kentucky, I got the opportunity to cover Northern Kentucky University – which was pretty up and coming back then. Chris Cole, their public relations person, had became a good friend and he would give me the head’s up to stuff that was good to cover all the time.

At the time, NKU had a really great debate program that featured national speakers coming in for a panel discussion.

One year, the panel was Bob Woodward, Paul Begalia and Mary Matalin. I’d already met Mary – she and James Carville were speaking one night in Cincinnati years before and I got to go backstage with my husband and talk to them for a while. It was the first time I ever heard “Well, if “ifs” and “buts” were beer and nuts, we’d have a helluva party” from James, which I thought was brilliant, but which sent Mary to rolling her eyes. So, Mary wasn’t important to me to meet and quite frankly, I didn’t care who Paul Begalia was.

But, I was dying to meet Bob Woodward.

At that time, I was in the middle of my “investigative journalist” phase and my editor and mentor, Jack Lessenbery, was raving to anyone who would listen that I was the next best thing since the digital tape recorder. He got me scholarships to programs and courses and worked to get me to move to Ann Arbor, Michigan so he could groom me to be an investigative reporter at a daily newspaper. I wanted to be a kick-ass investigative reporter so badly I could taste it. Really.

Anyway, Chris got me two tickets to the debate, as well as the press briefing and reception prior, and I get my friend Dave to go with me. I thought maybe, if I was lucky, I’d get to ask Woodward a few questions at the press conference and call it a day.

Well, like any reception, there Dave and I were – standing around, mingling, making nice faces and partaking of the free booze and food. But I had my press pass on, because I was covering the thing after all. And I’m, you know… sitting there… talking to people… taking notes. Reporter stuff.

Anyway, Dave and I had just sat down at one of the tables in the reception tents when up walks Bob Woodward.

Bob Woodward
Bob Woodward

I’m not kidding. It was Bob Flipping Woodward. He of Deep Throat and Watergate fame. He of Pulitzer prize fame. He of reporter nirvana fame.

He walked by our table and looked at me. He smiled like you normally do when you pass a table full of people you don’t know, but then he saw my press pass and he stopped.

“Oh, you’re a reporter! I’m Bob Woodward,” he said as he started to come around the table toward me with his hand out. “What’s your beat?”

Honestly, I was having a little reporter orgasm about then. Seriously. I was about to get an audience with the King and I didn’t even have to bow or beg or anything. And he was the one who was stopping to say “Hi” to me!

My life was on the verge of becoming complete.

I stood up and put my hand out to shake his. In my head, I was going through a million different things to say to him and thinking to myself over and over again “Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Don’t say something stupid and screw up.”

I stood up and put my hand out to shake his. In my head, I was going through a million different things to say to him and thinking to myself over and over again “Don’t screw up. Don’t screw up. Don’t say something stupid and screw up.”

He was less than 10 feet away from me.

And there it was, right within my grasp, the moment of glory. I was just about to say “I’m Liz Carey, I’m the investigative reporter for the Community Press” when up steps Nick Clooney.

Yep, George Clooney’s dad walked up between me and Bob Woodward – with his back to me – and said “Bob, I want you to meet my wife and some other folks.” He put his left arm up around Woodward and led him into the crowd.

I saw Bob looked over his shoulder at me – still standing there with my hand up, ready to shake his. He mouthed the words “just a minute” as he disappeared into the crowd.

But, I never saw him again that night, except on stage.

I cannot tell you how pissed I was….

In fact, I was so pissed, that even though I was covering elections that year, they wouldn’t let me cover Nick in his legislative bid. Every time anyone mentioned him for about six months, the only thing I could do was cuss a blue stream about his lineage and resemblance to male body parts.

When he eventually lost, I did a little dance in the newsroom.

And I swore that day at NKU that no matter how much George Clooney begged, I would not ever let him become my second husband. How can you marry someone when you want to strangle their Dad? Not that I didn’t have that same urge with my husband’s dad, but that’s different… he never stood between me and Bob Woodward. He was just a jerk.

George hasn’t asked yet, and quite possibly, he never will. I mean, there is the fact that we’ve never met which is, I’m sure, hindering him from falling for me.

But if he expects me to say yes when he finally does come to his senses, he better figure out how to get Bob Woodward to the engagement party.

(c) Copyright Liz Carey 2014

Our lifelong science experiment

I don’t know how our home turned into an ongoing science experiment.

Science ExperimentsAnd not in that “Oh, look Mom, the leftovers from three weeks ago are moving” kind of way, but more in that “Gee, I wonder what happens if you put fire crackers in a four-month old pumpkin” kind of way.

It seems like there’s always something weird going on in our house… an experiment on how long it takes Peeps to get really good and stale, the deconstruction of one of those Fushigi balls to see if it could lead to a renewable energy source, whether or not you can boil a shark’s jaw to firm it up like it looks like they do in Jaws…

Maybe it’s because I live with men.

I mean, I can understand the firecracker thing. It was New Year’s Eve and we were running out of things to blow up (which is also, technically, an entertainment source in our house) and so the guys looked around and saw a pumpkin. Now, I should probably explain that it had been there since September and was supposed to have been used in a praline pumpkin cheesecake, but somehow that didn’t happen and it ended up just sitting outside for three months.

This in and of itself isn’t really all that unusual for our house either. We have a pretty substantial garden off of our porch that we fill with vegetables every year, but by around August I get kind of tired of picking everything and it gets hot, so the vegetables just sort of sit out there… Helps reduce the amount of planting you have to do the next year, though, I’ll tell you that.

Anyway, so the pumpkin was sitting there and someone noticed it had a soft spot in it and said “Oh, hey… I wonder what would happen if we put a firecracker in there?” which they proceeded to do.

Anyway, so the pumpkin was sitting there and someone noticed it had a soft spot in it and said “Oh, hey… I wonder what would happen if we put a firecracker in there?” which they proceeded to do.

What happens? The little soft spot in the pumpkin turns into a little hole, that’s what happens. And then, since you can’t ever just do an experiment once, and you have to test your results, the little hole turns into a bigger hole, and a little bit bigger hole, until eventually someone gets the bright idea of putting four or five fire crackers in there, since it now has room, and the whole top of the pumpkin blows off.

Which, of course, is when we discovered that smoke bombs inserted into a pumpkin with the top blown off look really cool cause the smoke comes up and sort of pours over the sides like bubbling wispy ooze. Who wouldn’t love to figure that out?

The Pumpkin Fire Cracker Experiment, of course, led to the Great Fourth of July Fire Crackers in the Soda Bottle experiment, where the idea was to see what would happen if you put water-proof fire crackers in a almost empty 20-ounce plastic Mountain Dew bottle, put the cap back on and let the fire crackers explode. Result? With a muted snap-thud, the bottle jumps almost up to the ceiling of your porch causing outbursts of testosterone-fueled giggles and screams of “Dude, wait! Let me do it!” until someone doesn’t put the top back on all the way and sulfur-infused, firecracker debris-laden Mountain Dew leftovers spill all over someone.

Really.

I guess some of that experimenting comes from me. I tend to be a little “creative” in the kitchen, and probably tend to wonder “what if” a little more than some … okay, a lot more. And some of it they get from their Dad, who is always interested in trying to figure out ways to blow things up or set things on fire or make them work faster or rework them to get them to work for him when other things don’t. As a matter of fact, Max, my youngest son, is outside right now trying to figure out how to make fire with two rocks since I took the lighter away from him. Maybe it’s inherited.

So, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that this year, we had tie-dyed Easter eggs. We hard-boiled them just like everyone else does, but then we cracked the shells and left them in the dye for about a million hours (okay, 30 minutes) until the dye had seeped into the white of the eggs.

IMG_20140420_164144And then we peeled them and turned them into deviled eggs. You know, when you think about it, why should the color only be on the eggs when the shells are on? I’m sure it would make egg salad pretty non-appetizing but for deviled eggs, It really did look cool. Of course, it all started with the question, “I wonder what would happen if… ”

Despite the minimal risk of danger and the frequent messes, I kind of like the idea of our never-ending experiments. It’s not just about science, but about exploration and questioning and never being satisfied with the status quo. It’s about continuing to learn every day for the rest of our lives. It’s about expanding one’s boundaries and pushing the envelope – even if the envelope is a pumpkin. And I like that my sons are learning that.

As long as they’re not questioning me.

When he saw the tie-dyed deviled eggs at Easter dinner, Max asked if I was trying to poison him so I could steal his Peeps. I told him I wasn’t.

They were still technically part of the Peep staleness experiment… duh.

 

© Liz Carey 2014

Taking care of business from a million miles away

A week ago, I was sitting down to dinner in the midst of more than 300 of the most amazing and funny women I had ever met.

But my head wasn’t really with them. It was at home.

For four days in April, every other year, more than 350 women and a few men gather together at the University of Dayton for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. And for more than six years, it was a dream to attend. This time around, I decided to go.

It was a huge sacrifice for everyone involved. I wouldn’t be there for my son’s last concert. The boys would have to get up and take the bus instead of having me drive them to school. Someone would have to cook dinner. There would be no one to remind people to take out the dishes, clean the bathroom, close the refrigerator door and empty out the cat litter box.

I imagined that they probably wouldn’t even notice that I wasn’t there until it was time for dinner to magically appear on the table.

I couldn’t have been more worried or more overjoyed.

Four days with complete control of the television remote, no dishes or laundry, a bed all to myself and no bickering over who got to listen to the iPod. I could go to the bathroom without some form of human or animal coming into the room. I could sit down to dinner without having to pop back up every time my butt hit the chair to get something for someone.

And as I live in South Carolina, it is only a 1,784,329 mile drive which takes roughly nine hours with the occasional pit stops… eight and a half if you wear those astronaut diapers. So, the plan was to leave on Wednesday afternoon and cover half the trip, then drive the rest of the way the next day. After four days of enlightenment, I would leisurely drive home, reveling in the experience and letting the knowledge and tutelage I had received absorb into my brain.

It didn’t take long after I left for my head to return home.

On Wednesday, things were fine. My son had had the courtesy of waiting until the night before to tell me that he had given his good suit pants away to Goodwill and had nothing to wear to his concert, so my husband was spared the last minute trip to KMart – one which I dutifully made at 8 p.m. instead of packing. On Wednesday night though I drove through the darkness and talked to them and my mother on the phone periodically, so I didn’t feel quite so alone.

The boys had refused to let me load all of my favorite songs on to a CD (“Mom, that is SO old school”) and had instead loaded them onto the iPod, which served the dual purpose of entertaining me, and preventing my husband from killing them for arguing over it for one more time. I cranked the tunes, sang at the top of my lungs through Tennessee and Kentucky and arrived Thursday afternoon, safe if not exhausted.

I got to the hotel just in time for the phone report on how the dinner preparations were going. I called later to find that the concert had been good, even if the drive in Dad’s Jeep had been a little cold. I imagined them getting pneumonia from riding with the top down, but I was assured all was well.

It wasn’t until Friday that I began to worry. While I was saying “Yes, I think I will have another glass of wine” to the waitress, the first call came in.

“Honey, where’s the duct tape?”

This is never a good thing.

No amount of distance can overcome the fear of what could possibly need to be fixed with duct tape.

According to my husband, everyone was in their rooms, innocently watching television, when they all heard the sound of glass breaking.

“I went into our bedroom, and there was a hole the size of a softball in the window.”

The duct tape was to hold the glass together until he had a chance to replace it. And he will. But still. The window was broken. I was in Dayton. He couldn’t find the duct tape.

They needed me.

We decided that it was probably a bird that overshot the roses that grow outside of our bedroom windows. With no evidence of a rock or baseball or brick, it was the most logical conclusion. The duct tape was found, the hole was covered and all was well with the world again.

The next day, my son called during lunch to ask me if I knew where any of his high school teachers lived.

This in and of itself is not the oddest question he may have ever asked me, but rightfully so, probably one of the more worrisome. It was all innocent, he protested. According to him, a restricted drivers license needs the signature of a person who works at his school.

“Honey, you don’t have a restricted license.”

No, but his friend was getting one, and they figured if they could get one of their teachers to sign the paperwork, they’d be able to take a quick trip to the DMV, get the license and go for a ride.

Clearly, they had never actually been to the DMV if they felt accomplish something through a “quick trip” there.

“As this is the weekend and the first day of Spring Break, I am pretty sure that showing up on the porch of one of your teachers would not endear them to you or resolve your issue,” I said.

Begrudgingly, he relented, although I’m pretty sure they resorted to the next best thing to Mom – Google. If only Google knew where their new shoes were.

Later that night, another call let me know that things weren’t going well. It was 7 o’clock and Dad was just starting the burgers on the grill. A warning to the boys that they needed to close their windows since they didn’t have screens in had been ignored and two other birds, apparently looking for revenge for their fallen brethren, flew into the house through my older son’s window while their Dad was at work. My son, his brother and his friend chased the two birds around the house in an attempt to catch them and get rid of them, and finally caught one of them with an old T-shirt.

As a mom, several things went through my head at this news:

A) did no one open the doors?

B) where were our four cats during this? and

C) what happened to the other bird?

All of this was relayed by phone. Naturally, I thought about running home and taking care of everything.

My husband said to stay.

“I’ve got this. We can survive without you. I’ve got everything under control.”

So, maybe they didn’t need me.

I went back to talking to my new friends, trading stories of motherhood and drinking more wine. While my head was there and I was enjoying my time, my heart was with my family.

The next day, I drove home quickly. I stopped, as I had planned, at an art museum to be free and artsy once again, but there was no one there to share it with, no one there to talk about it with, no one there to say “Mom, can we go now?”

I should have been happy to have had the time to myself, but all I could think about was getting home.

I drove straight through to get home before everyone went to bed. My arm and shoulder hurt from leaning on them in the car and my legs were cramping from the driving. But I made it home – to hugs and stories and kisses and a plate of dinner.

Instead of a mess of a house, I found a mopped kitchen, laundry thumping away in the dryer and a sink conspicuously clear of dishes.

They wanted me to be happy when I came home. And I was.

They may not have needed me, but they missed me, even through tribulations and an apparent bird invasion. And even though I wasn’t there to handle it for them, they managed… not because I had trained them, or they had learned from me, but because they were smart, capable men who could do for themselves.

I’ll remember that next time I don’t want to do dishes.

© Liz Carey 2014

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