Are You Married to a Birthday Moron?

When it comes to birthdays, there are two kinds of husbands. The first type delight in giving fabulous birthday gifts. The amount of thought that goes into these birthday extravaganzas implies planning has taken place months in advance. Gifts include (but are not limited to) treasure hunts, weekend getaways, breakfast in bed followed by a full day at the spa, and surprise parties. These enigma gentlemen must have Pinterest accounts or peruse discarded Real Simple magazines.

Then – then there are the other half. This group falls somewhere in between the categories of, “Wait. Is her birthday the third or the thirteenth?” and, “Crap. Today’s her birthday? Maybe I can get something in the gas station on the way home from work. My tank’s on empty.”

These less than impressive gift givers aren’t bad guys. In fact, many of them are incredible human beings. They just fall short – really short – every 365 days. For whatever reason, when their spouse’s birthday comes creeping around the calendar, something bizarre happens to their brains. Science has yet to explain it, but the evidence is there: these men turn into Birthday Morons.

Listed below are the types of birthday that ladies who are married to Birthday Morons have experienced. This list proves they’re not alone. The next time they hear of some gal’s husband making a special dinner (and doing the dishes) while she takes an uninterrupted bubble bath, they can refer to this list for comfort and solidarity. They can think, “Ahh, she too is married to a Birthday Moron.”

The Absolute Forgotten Birthday – you wait all day, knowing deep down he has forgotten your birthday but hope prevails that maybe, just maybe, he has a surprise planned. You make dinner. You clean up. The sense of dread and disappointment is intensifying. You peek in his closet, then his car trunk. No gift. Not even a card. There will be no surprise. He forgot.

The Last Minute Birthday – These birthday gifts are a tad better than the Absolute Forgotten Birthday, but not by much. They involve a hearty “Happy Birthday” greeting or text (yay!) but that’s about it. Your present is usually a,

“How about I bring you to the mall and you can pick out what you want?”

This lackluster offer to drive you to the mall proves there was no planning, or thought, whatsoever. Some women will jump on the invitation and buy the most expensive thing in the mall out of spite. Others are simply too exhausted, and they just want to get in bed and have a good seething cry. They also vehemently promise to never have sex with their Birthday Moron again.

The Hasty Birthday – Damage control people! The Hasty Birthday is when he looks at his desktop calendar and utters a, “Oh %&#$!. Today’s her birthday?” The Hasty Birthday knows an offer to go shopping at the mall won’t fly, so he stops on his way home from work and buys the easiest thing possible. Flowers from the grocery store with the price sticker adhered to the clear cellophane, and a gift card randomly chosen from a gift card kiosk. You tell yourself, “It’s the thought that counts,” but here’s the thing: THERE WAS NO REAL THOUGHT.

The Backpedal Birthday – There is no card, gift, or celebratory outing. His reason?

“Remember how we went out for dinner and that movie two weeks ago? That was your birthday gift.”

If only you had known! You would have ordered an appetizer and asked the waiter for a free piece of cake.

The Self-Serving Birthday – These birthday gifts are complicated. The guy remembers your birthday, but the gift is more for him than you. You unwrap your present only to find a book on massage and massage oil. Meanwhile, he has removed his shirt and is pointing to his left shoulder.

“Could you get right here? My trapezius? It’s been sore for weeks.”

Other Self-Serving Birthday gifts include lingerie, tickets to watch his favorite sports team, or a power tool. The Self- Serving Birthday Moron has also been known to be sneaky. These gifts involve jewelry, a day at the spa, or dinner at your favorite restaurant. The magic quickly evaporates when you realize your Birthday Moron is expecting sex later that night, or he is hoping you won’t be angry when he announces his fantasy football losses.

The Clueless Birthday – Similar to the Self-Serving Birthday, these birthday gifts are tricky. The Birthday Moron remembers your birthday and made time to purchase a gift, but all consideration (and common sense) left the brain as soon as this Birthday Moron entered the store. Clueless birthday presents have been known to include hand held vacuum cleaners (“but you’re always cleaning!”), salad spinners (“since you make salad every night”), and bedroom slippers two sizes too big. The Clueless Birthday also involves an offer to make dinner, only to be served hot dogs or Kraft macaroni and cheese.

There is hope for Birthday Morons. Legend has it that one or two have morphed into those great gift giving husbands – the ones who love to plan, and have no secret agenda hidden in their gift giving. But until then, the wives of Birthday Morons can unite and commiserate. They can hope that next year will be better.

Inappropriate Family Photos

Several times a year my grandparents would pack up their RV (including their toy poodle with rust colored fur and chronic bad breath) and travel across the country. We’d learn of their whereabouts from postcards that would arrive periodically in our mailbox. Their destinations were an odd assortment of common tourist attractions and strange places off the beaten path: the Ozarks, Grand Canyon, Virginia Beach (we received a postcard declaring that Virginia is for lovers with my grandmother’s frilly handwriting, “That’s Us!” inside the heart).

Their travels were documented in a photo album that was displayed on the coffee table in their living room. My mother and I would languidly flip through the album when we visited. The photographs were fairly repetitive: my grandmother standing in front of some touristy sign or statute, clutching her purse and smiling as my grandfather snapped her picture. Or the two of them together, their smiles frozen as they waited for a kind stranger to figure out how to work their camera and take the picture.

My mother and I swallowed yawns as we leafed through the pages of this album. My grandparents seemed less interested in taking snapshots of their surroundings and more interested in pictures of themselves.

Especially when they visited the Poconos.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Poconos, it is an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that is known for its mountains and romantic getaways. During the 1970s – 1990s, resorts popped up like gophers catering to couples who were just dying to relax in heart shaped jacuzzis, circular beds and gigantic, seven foot champagne bubble baths. Competition between resorts was fierce. They battled to outdo one another for the most “alluring” room names: Paradise Stream, Cove Haven, Fantasy and Garden of Eden are just a few of the names given to some of these horrendously gaudy rooms.

While we never received a postcard from the Poconos, evidently my grandparents sojourned in one of these atrocious hotels, because they documented it in the photo album they left on the coffee table in their living room.

Nestled between the pictures of my grandmother wearing her floppy sunhat and standing outside of the Alamo, was a photograph of her wearing a blue negligee and kneeling on a white furry rug. Next to this photograph was my grandfather, donned in blue Speedo underwear, sprawled on the same furry rug and smiling mischievously at the camera.

Thankfully, the pictures stopped there. (And thankfully, they didn’t ask some stranger to pop into their hotel room – which was probably named The Love Nest – to take pictures of them together on the furry rug.)

My mother and I saw these Pocono pictures at the same time. My mother recoiled, as though she had seen something strange and hideous.

“Good heavens!” she said.

I let out a whooping holler of laughter as my mother snapped the photo album shut.

“I think we’ve seen everything we need to see.”

But there are certain things you can’t … un-see. My grandparents racy Pocono photographs are forever burned in my brain. Why they would choose to place those salacious photographs in the album is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they viewed them no differently than the other innocuous shots: saying cheese in front of the Liberty Bell, posing next to a palm tree in South Carolina, scantily clad and smiling seductively from a shag rug in a Pocono hotel room.

Or perhaps they snickered conspiratorially as they slipped the risque photographs in the plastic sleeves.

“Just wait until the kids and grandkids see these! And they think we’re just visiting places like Strubridge Village.”

 

 

More Sex and Vampires, Please.

The road to publishing is paved with rejection. Margaret Mitchel submitted Gone With The Wind for publication only to be rejected thirty-eight times, while Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was denied for publication sixty times. Sixteen literary agencies – followed by a subsequent twelve publishing houses – told John Grisham they were not interested in A Time To Kill. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul, were lucky enough to land a literary agent, but were then turned down by over one hundred publishers.

Best selling author Nicholas Sparks (who received twenty four rejection letters from literary agencies for his manuscript The Notebook) put it best, “Writing may be an art, but publishing is a business. When all is said and done, it comes down to dollars.” Literary agents and publishers are typically hesitant to take on first time authors – or books that aren’t considered in vogue. An extraordinary amount of manpower, time, and money goes into publishing books, and breaking even is not an option. Success and profits are a must.

I have received over a dozen rejection letters from literary agents for my manuscript. (This is only counting agencies that actually took the time to respond. If I include all the agencies I sent query letters to, it would easily exceed twenty.) As I tuck these rejection letters away, I can’t help but ponder the great literary classics. What if these now famous pieces of literature were never published, and were now trying to make it into the publishing world? What would the responses be? Let’s close our eyes and imagine …

Dear Mr. Melville,

Thank you for the submission of your work, MOBY DICK to our literary agency. Unfortunately, we can not represent you at this time. Who, exactly, is your target audience? Whaling is a thing of the past. Perhaps you should consider revising and instead of a whale, use salmon. (Wild caught. Not farm raised.)

Sincerely,

We’ll Get You Published Literary Agency

***

Dear Ms Bronte,

We regret to inform you that we are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts at this time. If interested in JANE EYRE, we will contact you. In the meantime, perhaps you should consider revising the lengthy descriptions of the English mores, and include some sexual scenes between Mr. Rochester and Jane. Or better yet: between Jane and Mrs. Rochester.

Thank You

Books R Us Literary Group

***

Dear Mr. Shakespeare,

Thank you for your recent submission to Read Literary Agency. Due to the high volume of manuscripts we receive, we are unable to represent MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING at this time. Because, honestly, it was much to do about nothing. We suggest self publishing.

Kindest Regards

Read Literary Agency

***

Dear Ms. Burnett,

Thank you for your submission of THE SECRET GARDEN. We kept waiting for zombies to enter this “secret garden” and because there were none, we regret to inform you we can not accept your manuscript for representation.

We wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors.

Sincerely,

We Represent Only The Best, LLC

***

Dear Mr. Tolstoy,

Due to the high volume of manuscripts we receive, we regret to inform you that we can not represent WAR AND PEACE at this time. We strongly urge you to consider making your manuscript less than 1,392 pages. Such a large book is intimidating to most of today’s readers. Including us.

Thank you.

The Quill and Paper Literary Agency.

***

Dear Ms Alcott,

Thank you for your submission of LITTLE WOMEN. Enclosed please find your manuscript that we are returning. A book about a New England family of girls is dreadfully boring. Have you considered adding sex scenes? Vampires are always a welcomed addition. (Perhaps instead of Beth dying, she can morph into a vampire.) Trilogies are all the rage, too. How much better would the title of “Sexy Women” sound? Followed by a sequel titled “Naughty Women”, then “Angry Women”?

Sincerely,

Success Literary Group

***

Dear Mr. Joyce,

We have decided not to represent your manuscript ULYSSES. Please accept our sincerest apologies, but we need to understand what we are reading.

Warmest Regards,

Pen and Ink, Inc

Confessions

“My boyfriend is married,” the woman sitting next to me said.

I twisted in my seat and surveyed the room. Had I walked into the wrong workshop? I thought I was in How To Become A Published Author – not Confessors Anonymous.

“And I wrote a children’s book,” she continued.

So I was in the right room! I turned and faced the woman.

“Um … how interesting,” I said before staring straight ahead – praying she wouldn’t continue the conversation.

For whatever reason, people tend to confess to me and my husband. We’re not sure why this occurs, exactly. We don’t look like priests, or interrogators. Or therapists. Yet, there have been several incidents where complete strangers share rather personal information with us. And it’s not your run-of-the-mill too much information that we’re all accustomed to. (Coworkers sharing their recent bowel woes; a woman standing behind you at the grocery store rattling off what she is making for dinner; the man waiting for his sandwich at the deli telling you why he hates a certain political party.) No, we’re talking confessions.

“So … I got an executive massage,” the man installing our furnace told my husband when he had gone into the basement to see how the installation was progressing.

“Oh.”

“Yeah. It’s right off Exit 7. They give executive massages. Know what that is?”

“Uh … I have an idea,” my husband said, “So … can I get you anything to drink?”

“Nah, I’m fine. I brought a bottle of water. But I love going to that massage place.”

Why on earth would this complete stranger tell my husband such a thing?  (For those of you who don’t know what an Executive Massage is, let’s just say it’s illegal in most states. Including the state where Exit 7 is located.)

I wish I could say my husband and I look like really nice people who love to listen to others, and that is why random people tell us rather lurid secrets. But that’s certainly not the case. If these were supposed to be serendipitous moments, my husband and I ruined our chances of helping these people. In fact, I scooted my chair several inches away from the Home Wrecking Children’s Book Author. Likewise, my husband didn’t exactly seize the moment to provide much needed advice to this man who confessed to frequenting an underground prostitution ring. In fact, my husband didn’t venture into the basement again until the furnace installation was complete.

Could it have been fate? Well, if it were, I quote Lemony Snicket: “Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”

Our Town’s Landmark: A Strip Club

The name of the strip club is Smiles. This is not an establishment where the likes of Elliot Spitzer or Charlie Sheen would visit.  No. Customers of Smiles include men who have names like Billy Bob and Jimmy Lee. Battered, old pickup trucks litter Smiles’ parking lot. The female entertainers (I use this term loosely) are rumored to be missing teeth. In the realm of strip clubs, Smiles could be considered third world; the Calcutta of strip clubs.

Yet, Smiles is a landmark in our town.

“Where exactly is that used bookstore?”

“Know where Smiles is?”

“Well, sure.”

“Okay, the used bookstore is right across the street.”

“Ohhhh. Great. Thanks.”

Several years ago, the plaza where Smiles abides changed ownership. The new landlord renovated the buildings, and several new businesses rented space. While not evicted, Smiles was made less obvious. It is now nestled between a barber shop and nail salon. While the other businesses have their names displayed on stylish signs, Smiles’ rooftop, however, remains bare. A dingy, yellow smiley face plastered on Smile’s storefront window notifies people of its presence. Smiles is akin to the elephant in the room: everyone walks by it and tries to pretend it’s not there.

One afternoon I was driving with my daughter and her friend. We passed the plaza where my husband gets his hair cut, which is the same plaza where Smiles is located.

“See that?” my daughter said, pressing her finger to the window.

“Yeah,” her friend answered.

“My dad goes there a lot.”

I panicked. What if the little girl went home and told her parents that my husband went to Smiles a lot? What would they think of us?

  “The barber shop!” I yelled, “He goes to the barber shop a lot. Every four weeks for a haircut!”

My daughter and her friend exchanged glances before looking at me.

“Well of course he does, Mommy,” my daughter said, clearly puzzled by my outburst. “Why else would he go there?”

I looked in the rearview mirror at the two little girls, their heart shaped faces framed by blonde hair, their little bodies buckled into booster seats. I was overreacting. Of course they wouldn’t know about Smiles. How could they? They were children for heaven’s sake.

But give them a few years and they would know – just like everyone else. I flashed forward 10 years and pictured my daughter on the phone, giving out directions.

“Like, you know where Smiles is? I know! Totally gross, right? My mom says its been around for like for-ever. Yeah, well, like, you drive past that and the used bookstore is on your right …”

For A Good Time Call…

When my husband and I bought our first home, the phone company gave us a new telephone number. The number we were given was recycled – meaning, it had previously belonged to someone else.  That “someone else” happened to be a girl named LaShawn.

Within a few days of receiving our new telephone number, it became clear that being the recipients of LaShawn’s old number was going to be a problem. Our first inkling occurred around 3 in the morning, when the sound of our ringing phone jarred me from sleep. I frantically jumped out of bed, fearing someone was calling with an emergency.

“LaShawn baby,” the voice growled, “It’s Tyrone. Where you at?”

“LaShawn?” I repeated, feeling instant relief. Everyone was okay. “I’m sorry. You have the wrong number.”

I was climbing back into bed when Tyrone called a second time. Tyrone was clearly disappointed when I answered, and he was even more disappointed when I explained that no, LaShawn was still not here, and I had no idea who she was – or where she lived.

Several nights later, we were sound asleep when the phone rang again. It was another man looking for LaShawn. When a third man called several nights after that, we started to suspect two things: first, LaShawn was popular with the gents. And second, she was giving out her old telephone number (which was now our new number) to men she didn’t want contacting her. I had a vision of LaShawn – young, slender and pretty – tearing off a slip of paper and writing down our telephone number for some creep who kept hounding her for a date. If these men hadn’t been calling our house at all hours of the night in their futile attempts to reach LaShawn, I may have found her idea clever.

At some point, it occurred to LaShawn that she could give our number to everyone, and not just the men hounding her for a late night rendezvous.  Soon, banks, medical offices, and even her family started to call. Our phone began to ring off the hook, with all sorts of people looking for LaShawn.

“LaShawn! It’s Aunt Tiana! Where you been hiding at girl?”

“Hi Aunt Tiana,” I said wearily, “But this isn’t LaShawn’s number anymore.”

“It ain’t?” Aunt Tiana said, “How can that be? She just gave me this number!”

“I know, I’m sorry. But this number used to be LaShawn’s. You see, my husband and I just moved into this house and the phone company gave us LaShawn’s old number.”

“Damn!” Aunt Tiana said, “Wait till I get my hands on that girl! Trying to give me her old number like that!”

“When you do,” I said, “Could you tell LaShawn that her doctor’s office called? And the results of her pap smear are in?”

“I sure will! Now, you take care! And enjoy your new house!”

“Thanks Aunt Tiana.”

Unfortunately, not all of the calls for LaShawn were as pleasant as Aunt Tiana. Our phone rang constantly throughout the day from creditors (let me be the first to tell you that LaShawn owed a lot of money, and didn’t seem too keen on paying these people back), social service departments, and former boyfriends.

I finally called our phone company in desperation and explained what was occurring. The representative was apologetic – and slightly intrigued – for the many intrusive calls we were receiving on behalf of LaShawn.  For an $80 fee, we could get a new telephone number. I asked if we could have a brand new number, one that had never belonged to anyone else. While that wasn’t possible, the representative explained, she could find a telephone number that had formerly been used for a computer modem. I took it.

Twenty minutes later, our new telephone number was active and our phone became strangely silent. When the phone did ring, it was someone actually calling for me, and not LaShawn. It felt like an older, popular sister had moved out of the house taking all of the drama with her.

Sometimes I think about LaShawn, and wonder if she’s made her Chase credit card payments, or if she and Aunt Tiana finally connected. I also really hope Aunt Tiana gave LaShawn the message about her pap smear results.

A Salutation To Strangers

To all the strangers I observed throughout the day.

Dear …

Person Driving The Car With The Columbia University Window Decal: Thank you for letting me know you were smart enough to get into an Ivy League school … and I was not. That felt great.

Creepy Guy Checking Out Girls From The Corner Of His Eye: You look like a deranged Ron Howard. You may think you’re discreet but you’re not. Us gals all know you’re watching us and it’s freaking us out.

Middle-Aged Man Zipping Around In The Audi Convertible: Driving an expensive German car does not change the fact that you’re middle aged and bald. Please drive responsibly.

Woman in Grocery Store: Thank you for offering to help me with my awkward grocery bags. It’s wonderful to know sweet people like you still exist.

Person Who Left The Plastic Shopping Basket In The Parking Lot: I know people tend to leave shopping carts in the parking lot, but baskets? You have taken laziness to a whole new level.

Person In Corvette: Your car may be fast and cost an impressive $60,000, but whenever I see Corvettes I will forever think “Barbie Car.” Blame Mattel.

3 People Standing Under Their Beach Umbrella: Is there a standing contest I am unaware of? In all my years of going to the beach I have never seen people stand under their umbrella and not sit. So far it’s been almost an hour. I wish you would sit, because now I can’t stop watching you. I should be enjoying the beautiful view of the ocean, but instead I keep waiting for you to sit down.

Woman In Bikini With Twin Baby Girls: You had a tummy tuck, didn’t you? C’mon. Admit it.  

Man Talking Loudly on Cellphone: Your white blood cell count is low? And the specialist you need to see has no appointments for three weeks?  You’re also planning a surprise party for your wife? Yet your boss won’t let you leave early that day? You bet he’s a jerk!  But listen, could you please lower your voice so I don’t hear about your bowel issues, or whatever you’re going to talk about next?

Man Hitchhiking Outside of The Department Of Mental Health Building: Dude, if you have any hope of getting a ride, you might want to scooch down a few feet so you’re standing in front of a different building .

Thank you for making my day a little more interesting.

Sincerely,

The Underground Writer

Real Sex Wouldn’t Sell

Sex sells. If you truly doubt this, just look at the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. While I have never read any of the 50 Shades books, I have heard the trilogy being referred to as porn in print, and the plot is as riveting as a Pat The Bunny board book. Yet, it has sold over 70 million copies worldwide. 70 million.

Perhaps one of the reasons sex sells is because the scenes in books are so outrageously unrealistic. Let’s make them real for a moment:

Diane lit the scented candles and smoothed the satin sheets on her bed. Her husband entered the room and drew her in his arms. At that moment, the doorbell rang. His parents had decided to pop in for a visit.

While driving home from the restaurant, Andy reached over and squeezed Connie’s knee and gave her a knowing look. “Not tonight,” she said, “That linguine didn’t sit well with my stomach.”

“I’m ovulating!” Jessica sang as she waived the Clearblue Easy Ovulation Detector stick in the air. “Drop those boxer shorts and lets get busy,” She ordered her husband, “We have exactly 20 minutes before I have to leave for my dentist appoinment.”

Jennifer opened the front door to welcome Chris home from work.  As she stood there, Chris noticed their baby’s dried spit-up on her shoulder and that once again, she had been too tired to shower. Nevertheless, he grabbed her around the waist and pulled her in for a kiss.  As their lips touched, Jennifer could tell that Chris had eaten sausage and peppers for lunch. 

Sade played softly on the stereo. Ted lowered the blinds and turned to welcome his wife into his arms.  At that moment they heard their lawn guy weed-wacking underneath their bedroom window.

 The little black dress hugged her in all the right places. When Kevin saw her, his eyes widened. She looked stunning. He ran his eyes slowly down her frame before stopping at her feet – they were clad in black flats. “My mom has the same shoes,” Kevin said flatly.

The couple embraced in the solitude of their bedroom. Just then, a little voice emanated from the other room. “Mommy? Daddy?” The voice said, “I can’t sleep. And I’m thirsty. Can you get me some water?”

Michael dug furiously through his sock drawer. Where were the prophylaxis? He could have sworn he had stuck them here last time. “I guess you’re out of luck,” Anne said as she slipped her nightgown back over her head, “I need a fourth child like I need a hole in the head.”

Sound more like it? A few of the titles would be: 50 Shades of Dirty SocksMaybe Tomorrow Night (If We’re Not Too Tired), Lots of Sex And Still No Baby, Burning Hot With The Flu (So Don’t Even Think About It), and Once Upon A Time (Then We Had Children). Total sales expected to exceed no more than 10 copies.

The Prostitute

I didn’t notice her enter the Hallmark store. I was up to my elbows in Mother’s Day cards, attempting to find one that didn’t have “mother” scrawled dramatically across the front in cursive letters. (I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever, called my mom ‘mother’ – but apparently Hallmark seems to think that is quite common.) It was then that I noticed the two teenage employees whispering and pointing to something behind me.

Turning, I saw a prostitute looking at cards. She was clad in thigh-high, high heeled boots, miniskirt, and a shirt that exposed her stomach. Basically, she resembled Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman before she cleans up. The prostitute then moved to where I was standing and, shamefully, I lowered my head and acted as though I was engrossed in what I was reading.

I tried to focus on finding a card for my mom, but I have to admit it was a challenge. The prostitute reeked of powdery perfume that was so strong I could practically taste it. The two employees were also doing a not-so-subtle job of watching her. Each time I  reached for a different card I couldn’t help but notice the two teenage employees who were whispering to one another and staring at the prostitute. When I finally found a card I liked, I approached the cash register only to stand behind the prostitute I had been trying so hard to ignore.

She was digging around in her denim purse before she carefully placed the money, a dollar at a time, on the counter. Avoiding eye contact with the prostitute, the one teenage employee who was operating the cash register took the money with her fingertips and quickly dropped it into the cash drawer, as though the money were contaminated.

The prostitute asked the two teenage employees if she could borrow a pen. The other teenage employee mechanically handed a pen over and stared, speechless, as the prostitute bent over her Mother’s Day card and wrote. As the prostitute filled out her card, the two employees nonchalantly looked down at what she was writing  before looking at one another and smirking.

“Thank you,” the prostitute said as she handed the pen back.

Without a word, the teenage employee took the pen and continued to stare as the the prostitute left the store.

The other teenage employee exhaled, as though she had been holding her breath.  “Did you see that?” she asked me.

“Yes.  She was pretty hard not to notice,” I answered as I put my card on the counter.

“Did you see what she wrote?” the teenage employee asked. Without waiting for an answer she said, “She wrote ‘Happy Mother’s Day Mommy’.  But get this: she spelled “mommy” m-o-m-e-e.  She didn’t know how to spell mommy!”

Both girls burst out laughing.

I paid for my card and left.  As I headed towards my car I saw the the prostitute walking down the road, clutching the Hallmark bag that contained the card she had so carefully chosen for her mom.

We rarely see these women in such common places as a Hallmark store or grocery market. And no wonder. Even I admit that I stole a few glances at her. And yet, we forget that they were once little girls who giggled and wore nightgowns and loved ice cream. We forget that these women were once little girls who dreamed of being a princess, or of growing up to be a movie star. But something terrible happened to them.

After her purchase, the prostitute was headed back to the streets; back to pimps, drugs, and abuse. This was not the Hollywood version of prostitution. I am sure she wished Richard Gere was waiting to rescue her from the horrors of her lifestyle.

I think it’s safe to say that it is only out of desperation that a woman (or worse yet: girl) becomes a prostitute. It’s not as if she woke up one morning and said, “Ya know, I think I am going to leave this perfectly good job and have sex with strange men for money despite the risk of disease and my personal safety.” The majority of prostitutes, if not all, fall into it as a desperate way to support a drug addiction or as a result of past sexual abuse. Usually both.

While her lifestyle was vastly different than mine, she still had a love for her “momee.” The prostitute and I were looking at the same cards, each thinking of our own moms.  The love she had for her mom was no less than the love I have for mine. Yet, I was not subjected to whispers, mocking and judgement when I purchased my Mother’s Day Card.

Later that day as I filled out the card for my mom, I couldn’t stop thinking of the prostitute. I wish I had made eye contact with her. I wish I had smiled and said hello. That would have made my mom prouder than anything I wrote in her card.

Special thanks to Heather Dellamore, editor extraordinaire,  for her thoughts and guidance while writing this.