TSA, a Cleansing of Hands and a Book Signing?

Blue gloves on a hand on a grey background

As I chatted in the airport with other humor writers from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, we laughed about our favorite moments of the weekend. It was impossible to pick one moment; and surprisingly, each of us had completely different experiences – yet stellar nonetheless.

We hadn’t entered the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint for I had a full bottle of Diet Coke
and heaven forbid I waste that liquid gold. Plus, I needed to get my monies worth since out of desperation, I bought it in the hotel lobby and they charged me two-freaking-fifty! I could have bought half a jar of Nutella with that!

The other reason for not entering the checkpoint was once we entered the metal detectors, the conference would be finalized. We would all go our separate ways for two more long years.

Yes, the gaggle of humor writers would stay in touch through social media, but there is nothing like the weekend at Erma’s house. OK, it really was the Marriott, but quit being a know-it-all. For many of us, this conference is something we look forward to for 712 days…but who’s counting?

As the clock neared our departure time, we realized these were the last moments when the people sitting next to us, listening to our stories, would truly “get it.”

Our final captive audience.

Sure we would repeat these stories to husbands, children, friends and whoever would listen; but after awhile, their eyes would gloss over, change the subject and that feeling would sink in again that it’s O-V-E-R.

No more deep, painful belly laughs. No more camaraderie. And no more cake with every single, lovin’ meal. You think I exaggerate? Coffee cake. Breakfast. Guilty as charged!

God bless you, Erma. You obviously were looking down on us.

My fellow “Ermies” were ready to go through security checkpoint, so I headed to the recycling bin with my near empty bottle of pop. However, in this airport, I experienced something new. It resembled a clogged eye washing station for persons who had battery acid splashed in their face.

Above the standing, brown liquid it read, “Dispose of liquids here.” There were a plethora of TSA workers standing within earshot of us as I rid of my caffeinated beverage.

“Oh, Lord! There are chunks floating in here!” I gagged out loud to the nearby crowd.

I looked over to the airport workers to confirm they knew of the “code brown” at the United Airlines gate.

One of the men took one step closer to peer over my shoulder, and said, “Ma’am, I’ll get that cleared out.”

He spoke clearly and slowly into his walkie-talkie for all employees to interpret this dire message:

“I need to have a dump at station 23.”

Have you ever had the giggles so bad, but you know you will get in BIG trouble if it escapes your body? Like the time when you dropped the communion wafer into the wine.

I’ve read my Emily Post. I know there are times to crack jokes and times when you can end up in a prison camp. So I bit my tongue, bosom heaving up and down silently, and moved forward to the woman checking tickets.

Mrs. TSA was chatty which helped take my mind off of depositing my liquid assets. She asked why I was vacationing in Kansas City. After I contained my adolescent eye roll, I explained my vacation was over, that I was a writer and had just attended the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

“Have you written any books?” she asked like a giddy girlfriend, who thought she might get free swag. At the same time, she rubbed my palms with an oversized Clearasil-looking pad which then she placed in a fancy science-machine, containing my “DNA.”

I explained I had a book that had come out several weeks prior. Well, that got Mrs. TSA all excited. She wanted to hear about my book and where she could buy one. I’m pretty sure if I had a spare in my carry-on, she would have bought it on the spot and had me sign it on her back.

Whispering so as not to make a scene, I explained I Just Want to Be Alone could be purchased on Amazon or she could get it on my website. So of course, what would any writer that had spent an entire weekend with 400 other writers do? I gave her my business card!

After all this commotion, my writer friends had moved on. It was smooth sailing for me through the screening checkpoint. No frisking, no body cavity searches and nary an x-ray machine dance booth. Just a nice hand cleaning by a friendly woman who likes to read.

I don’t know if she was checking for drugs or explosives; but thankfully, it wasn’t for red wine or cake residue because it’s going take a while to get all of that out of my system!

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Nurse Mommy Letter: Forgot the Cute Wittle Kitty Pic

Dear Nurse Mommy,

I was reading your story about your tiger incident at the Omaha zoo. Holy hairballs! That sounds terrifying. Thank goodness the glass that separated the big cat from you and your munchkins remained in tact. I can’t believe the woman next to you saw a crack in the glass. That doesn’t sound so great for the next squatter.

You said that you were clicking the camera as you fell backward from the window. Did you happen to get a photo of the attack? If so, could you please post it? I’d love to see what you experienced.

Concerned and cackling in Kentucky,
Royand Z. Igfread

Dear Mr. Igfread,

Thanks so much for being concerned about my family’s welfare recently. Even though the scream that came from the depths of my soul knocked me on my tush, I managed to push down on the button probably trying to grab onto anything to save my life. Since both the beauties and the beast were all falling away from each other the photo is fuzzy, but I do think you get a good idea of my view of the affair.

Best wishes,
Nurse Mommy

"I love me some fresh Kansas meat!"

“I love me some fresh Kansas meat!”

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Crouching Mama Hides From Tiger


Last month, my young grade school-aged daughters and I took a girl’s trip to Omaha, Nebraska. It was their first trip to this city; and essentially my first, since I don’t recollect mine (cough) years ago. Even though I could blame it on poor memory or age –it was just a classic college weekend, brimming with consumption activities and perhaps dancing on fixed furniture.

My girls and I stayed in the Old Market district, which was convenient for vacationing families since it’s near the children’s museum and the zoo. (I’m fairly certain I didn’t visit either of these attractions during my college stay.)

These were our main attractions, other than the hotel pool, which was a requirement for both girls. Yes, I was vetoed on this issue.

It was freezing the first day, and I wasn’t about to walk around Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo bundled up like a Sherpa scaling Mount Everest. So Day One was the museum, complete with controlled air temperature and vats of Purell . As long as we didn’t contract some flesh-eating bacteria in the ball pit, it would be a great day.

Day Two was forecasted as the most temperate day of the year – a perfect day for the zoo. We burst through the opening gates, thrilled to experience a new zoo. My girls are such animal lovers, but they prefer them to be behind thick glass.

“Oh, look at that gorilla. It’s so cute! Wait, it’s coming closer. Ack! I wanna see the baby monkeys now.”

“Mama, is that a peacock? It’s not in a cage. RUN!”

An hour into our adventure, they had shaken out their fears and were pressing up to the windows studying these amazing creatures.

We wanted to get our big cat and monkey fill. The Hatton gals have a strong tie to these animals and had agreed we needed to spend extra time in these areas.

After making one complete tour of the cats, we returned to the white tiger’s lair for a second time. Her markings were beautiful and now there was a full crowd peering in.

This female feline was no longer the “cute kitty” we had watched sleeping just moments before; she was an agitated, powerful machine.

Back and forth she paced from one end of the bay windows to the other. This continued for several minutes. Was she putting on a show for us? Showing her dominance?

Wanting to get the perfect photograph of this beauty’s face, I squatted down on my haunches and drew my young daughters close into my sides to share the view.

“If we come down to her eye level, we’ll get a great picture when she comes back this way,” I whispered posed behind the lens.

“Mama, she’s coming again!”

The cat’s enormous head was inches away from ours and only separated by glass.

I held my camera still. Click. Click.

Then out of the blue… THWAP!! The tiger performed a full-body slam into the glass before us with a noise that will haunt my dreams until I die. She was standing upright on her back two feet when she came crashing into the window to attack the three of us crouched below.

As you can imagine, the entire group of by-standers screamed like the Vienna boy’s choir, my one daughter ran half-way down the hall, the other froze like a cartoon character with her mouth open; and I fell backwards, screaming and luckily pushing down on the button on my camera.

The crowd quickly began gossiping of the event as if… a tiger had pounced on the lady next to them.

“That tiger was eight feet tall!”

“She would have eaten that gal.”

“Look, there’s a crack here in the glass!” cried out another woman down from us.

When my heart restarted after that last news, my inner tour guide took over. Scurrying along with daughters in tow, “The lemurs down the hall are charming and don’t let us forget about those baby monkeys? Wow! How about that tiger?”

Later when we returned to the hotel, my youngest daughter – a budding storyteller – told every stranger the tale of how a white Bengal tiger tried to eat her mother at the zoo.

Each audience member would nod, feign a smile and move away. It’s amazing how many people don’t believe a story like that. I guess my family is used to adventure and a crazy life with a mom like me.

I hope my girls don’t write their tell-all book until I’m gone.

Of course, no one will believe any of it!

previously printed in The Kansas City Star
April 12, 2014

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Dear Hubby, while I’m at the Erma Bombeck conference…


Dearest Hubby,

You know I have a list three pages long of things the kids need for school, homework, school drop off etiquette, medicines, lunches, snacks, those damn water bottles, and backpacks; but don’t let the size of the list overwhelm you.

I’m sure there are some moms who could just say, here are the kids, give you a kiss and jump on a plane to Ohio for the weekend – but that has never been my style. You knew this when you married my crazy self. Or maybe you didn’t, but you figured it out at least 8 years ago!

Call it my being a nurse, an overprotective mother or a hovercraft, but having an outline will save your butt. You really don’t want to mess with those women in the car pool lane, I promise!

So you can choose to read my list or ignore it, but if you do; please don’t tell me you did. I just want to give you the best opportunity to have an easy run of it while I’m gone since you don’t do all of this on a regular basis.

But truly…

I love you with all my heart, but if you lose the children or they accidentally die on your watch – I’m gonna be pissed.

Good luck, Hon!!

See you Sunday and make sure you’re ready for a LOT of great stories like 2012. I’m going to kick my heels up again!!


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KC Live’s! Mommy Panel Chats about Easter and Kids

Several readers have requested that I post the videos of my monthly appearances on morning television. I think they might be drunk or just trying to get on my good side, but I hate to disappoint my parents, so here is this month’s show.

Today I had the great pleasure of joining the talented and funny moms, Snarky in the Suburbs and Paige Kellerman,
on Kansas City Live!(KSHB-TV) to dish about Easter and how we will manage the great sugar rush without injuries.

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