Don't Hose Me




Daily showering is such a vicious cycle. Everyday, back in the shower, shampoo the head, hold on to the sliver of soap like greased pig, pick up shampoo bottle again - did I do this part? It's exhausting. If it weren't for the growing need for my shower to need a shower, aka mold accumulation, nothing would change at all.

I know some of you don't choose or say you don't need to shower daily, I believe I have stood behind you in line at the grocery store, well I am not one of you. With me the problem isn't about the smell. It's that I have fine hair, oily skin, and I live in Florida. If I do not hose down daily I look like I've slipped into a vat of oil at the Canola Factory.

When I was a teenager wearing a permanent bag on my head due to pimples, my mother would say when I got older I would love my oily skin, because I wouldn't have wrinkles. She said I had a built in moisturizer. Well, I'm four forty, I still get pimples, I now have wrinkles, and also I have the oil vat part.

For some reason, writing about hosing myself down, reminds me of a spa treatment I had once. I decided to get a body loofah at this old world spa an hour from my house. The spa facility was just as beautiful as I imagined, the treatment room was another story. It looked like an auto mechanic's garage. After doing a quick once around I began to get the creeping suspicion that nothing good could happen in this space. The only furniture in the room was a gray hard plastic surgical table in the center of the room. My instinct told me to run, but before I could act, in walked Helga. Actually I don't remember her real name but Helga should give you the proper visual. She was about six feet tall with hands like oven mitts, and either she was wearing shoulder pads under her uniform or she was a VERY big boned girl.

She walked over to me and uttered one monosyllabic phrase, "Get on table". Then she asked, "Do you need to keep towel?" almost like she was challenging me like I was the new girl on the prison block. Well I didn't know if I needed my towel. I didn't think I needed my pepper spray when I left the house that morning but things change. The towel may be my only remaining line of defense. I actually began to think back to my brother snapping me with a towel as a kid. Did he twirl it clockwise or counterclockwise?

I decided my best move was to act tough and toss the towel aside. I had bluffed my way through many sales presentations in my career. I could bluff my way through Helga. The next thing I knew Helga had grabbed a scrub brush and preceded to scrub me within an inch of my life.

As the torture continued I began to notice little things like, Helga's outfit looked a lot like the uniforms I saw the cleaning crew wearing on my way in to the spa....Is that an SOS pad in her hand?....I think there's a jar of turtle wax sitting on the shelf behind her?....Why is there a big drain in the middle of the cement floor?....and why the heck does this Frankenstein table have wheels on it? Among Helga's other stellar qualities, she had the grace of a hippo. Every time she walked around the side of the table to gain better access to my remaining tissue she would bump the side of the table, sending the table and me skidding across the wet floor until she grabbed us with her Grizzly Bear claw and abruptly stopped us. My spa treatment had become like some awful ride at a $2.00 carnival. I was waiting for the loud rock music to kick in.

Well, eventually every one of my skin cells had been removed and Helga put down her Brillo pad and asked me to stand up. It appeared the worst was over until I saw her grab a hose. Wait where did that come from? She proceeded to hose me down like a circus animal. Then she dried her hands with - MY TOWEL - and left.

So maybe this is the reason why I'm not so excited about my daily ritual of showering. Maybe I'm having Helga flashbacks? Come to think of it I don't like to scrub pots either.

Lisa Alex Gray

The Happy Camper


The other day I went to my local health food store and asked the clerk for a pill that would make me not want to" lash out irrationally".

She just looked at me blankly then proceeded to walk across the store weaving in and out of the aisles until she stopped in front a shelf containing various holistic mood elevators/suppressors.

She picked up a bottle from the shelf and held it up to me. "It's Happy Camper." she said matter of factly, "We make the Store Manager take this during her "monthly" inventory audits! Then she put the bottle back down and walked away - I guess she felt her job was done.

I stood there staring at the bottle when it hit me, man she punched the word MONTHLY kind of hard, and I think she winked when she said it. What was she trying to say? It's not like I had a heating pad ducked tapped to my waist or something. Is this the point we've come to as women? Even our own kind assumes a bad day must be attributed to hormones?

Then suddenly I remembered the other thing she said the name of the product was - Happy Camper?? The fix to all of my problems was to become a "Happy Camper"...I allowed the thought to sink in for a minute to determine whether I thought this was a good thing or semi insulting thing, but I couldn't deny the reality that ever since I was a little kid, at summer camp, I have always wanted to be a "Happy Camper". It seemed to be such an illusive beast.  Memories of my childhood were peppered with pointed comments from the adults in my life, "Looks like someone isn't a happy camper!".  Well, it looked like someone, problem dealing with my same childhood demons, had finally stopped harping on the problem and came up with a solution. Why hadn't I heard of this before? Shouldn't it be a headline on MSN's home page? Breaking News....Happy Camper pills now available for the masses...limit one container per family to prevent shortages. I mean this is what's been missing in our society, Happy Campers! They should be putting this stuff in our drinking water.

After the initial excitement wore off I picked up the bottle of Happy Camper to get a closer look. The jar was bright yellow (my favorite color another good sign) with a little cartoon camper guy on the front. He had a big smile on his face and was wearing shorts with big brown marching boots. I want to march. I don't think I've marched since I was in first grade and I think it was for a fire drill. It was obvious this was the product for me right color, marching boots, shorts. Who doesn't like to wear shorts.

The camper guy also had a little derby hat on his head, kind of like a robin hood hat. To think a pill that would make me so happy that I would want to put on a hat. This just keeps getting better and better. It took everything in me not to wrench the jar open right there in the aisle and start popping pills, then open more jars and throw pills around the store at the rest of the customers, "Happy Camper pills for everyone!", but I'm an adult so I restrained myself and waited til I got in the car.

Once in the car I cracked the lid on the little jar of freedom and popped two pills in my mouth washing them down with my bottled water. Then I sat perfectly still and waited. I'm not sure what I was waiting for. Did I think I was going to jump out of my car and start marching around the parking lot? Eventually I decided to drive home. I figured it was safe afterall they weren't called crazy camper.

The rest of my day was spent patiently waiting for the pills to take affect but nothing happened. I continued to take the pills everyday for a week in the hope that any minute the urge to put on shorts might strike. I even kept a hat in my car, just in case. But nothing happened. I guess my mutant hormones were just too powerful for the Happy Camper ingredients to overcome.

Eventually I stopped taking the pills all together. What was the point. Marching was overrated anyway. It makes your legs hurt after a while. I tried it just to see. I also put the yellow bottle away in the place where all good ideas go to die the back of my cabinet next to the bottle of fish oil capsules (nothing like burbing fish all day). There was only one thing left to do. The next day I drove by my grandpa's house and gave him back his hat. He'd been asking for it anyway.

Lisa Alex Gray

It's Just a Game


Remember the children's board game Chutes and Ladders? Ironically it is also a fairly accurate depiction of what my life looks like in 2-D. For those of you that find the visual imagery incomplete, I will tell you how the game is played (i.e. my life).

The object of Chutes and Ladders is to get to the end of the game without being sent back down a chute/ladder to the beginning of the game so many times that you run screaming from the room crying to your mom that your brother is cheating (okay, I don't actually do that part anymore).

Sometimes you're lucky, you land on a square that says you've done something good, and you get to climb the ladder a bit closer to your goal (my life in the 90's). More often you land on a square that undoes much of your hard work sending you tumbling back to the beginning of the game again (my life in the last year).

I personally am not finding the fun in this game. I can't help but question why someone would want to make such a frustrating life scenario into a game in the first place? I can just imagine how this decision came about.

It obviously took place after a horrible meeting at Hasbro. A few people got fired, a few demoted, and the rest were given one last chance to come up with an exciting new game that children would love and parents would buy.

Mr. Hasbro Executive, who's job now hung in the balance, headed back to his office and worked late into the night - possibly assisted by friends Jack (Daniels) or Jim (Beam) - to come up with a game. Which he did, based on the only thing on his mind, his years of hard work and dedication followed by a swiftly faltering career.

He probably presented the game partially as a joke to upper management assuming he'd be given his walking papers as soon as the presentation was over. I'm sure he never expected the company to actually like the idea. The rest is history.

Well, I have found a way to bring this frustrating 1970's game into the future. Below is my prototype of what the new game would look like....


They may want to include a pair of rubber gloves with this version.

Lisa Alex Gray




Trick or Treat

Ignore images until the end...if you can.






I'm really not in the mood to do anything today, that is other than vaporize or become spontaneously invisible.

Actually I could probably get excited about a rousting game of hide and seek. I'll pick a really good spot to hide, like Nebraska, and everyone else can do whatever.

On second thought I think that was the game the "Runaway Bride" played a couple of years ago. That didn't have a good outcome.

So what can I do to disappear that doesn't involve a massive police manhunt and large amounts of taxpayer dollars?

What if I hire a Stand In? Someone to take over my life for a few days. This service must exist. What do those seat fillers from the Oscars do the rest of the year? I bet they would be available.

I can just imagine how this would work. My family would get up in the morning and find a sign in the kitchen that read - The part of Lisa will now be played by Betty Macdonald.

I think my family would be ok with this. What it really comes down to in my house is food. My family members are kind of like dogs. As long as a bowl of food is placed in front of them at the appropriate time throughout the day they're fine.

So while Betty is handling things at home I can take a vacation from myself. The only question is where will I go? I don't want to go to someone else's house. Then I will have to deal with their problems. I want no problems. I want to be faceless. Maybe I need a mask.

I have a great business idea. Somebody should make faceless masks. They could be made out of that same stiff plastic that Halloween masks were made from in the seventies, with the little elastic string in the back, and punched out eye holes. The kit could also come with one of those one size fits all costumes inside the box. The ones with a cowboy or Wonder Woman printed on them.

I want my costume to be plain though; maybe flesh colored. A flesh colored faceless mask with a flesh colored costume. I'll look like a life size paper doll. You can't get anymore generic than that.

It's trick or treating for adults. The treat is I can wander through my life anonymously for a few days. Unfortunately, the trick is I'll return to a bigger mess; with piles of work, a pissed off husband, and a cranky child. Not sure this is the solution either.

I just did a quick Google search and I have the best idea yet. Those 1970's Halloween masks are still out there. We don't need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to buy a bunch of masks and have them on hand to represent our many moods.

Now if you'll scroll back to the top of this blog you'll see I've already picked out this weeks starting line up.

Lisa Alex Gray