Well, it’s that time of year again, and as many of you know, we have our very own Grinch. For those of you who are new to the Allred holiday letter, husband Robb has set a precedent for us: No cheery news. No one, he says, likes to read how happy other people are or how swell things are going. So, it has become our tradition to bring our own doom and gloom into your homes, making all your lives seem just a bit better.
What Robb could not have foreseen was how wildly popular this letter would be. Last year, I sent it to a number of his co-workers. As it turned out, just before a big meeting, Robb’s boss opened the event by reading aloud the Allred holiday letter. And for those of you who know the freakishly private Robb Allred – which makes many stop to ponder the union between said freak and myself – this was a painful meeting for Robb. The glances of amused coworkers seared into Robb’s flesh as he was sure they were taking a part of his soul or now know that he will actually stand over a freshly baked cake and eat the entire middle of it without thought or remorse. Or that if he goes to lunch with coworkers, and if one of them orders the same menu item Robb wanted, he believes he can no longer order that item because it violates some weirdo man law he has established. So, on with the news …
Indeed, this was a year of major disappointment! I continue to write but actually almost had something rather exciting come along. I’m the almost-girl. Truly, this is hard for me to write because, by all counts, I shouldn’t even be here. I should be in Australia. I entered – for fun – as a contestant for the television show Survivor. I never even heard about the first calling, so when the show began looking for contestants for their Survivor II show, a woman from my kickboxing class downloaded the application and brought it to class for me to fill out! I did, made a two-minute video of the family, me, some bobsled stuff, and sent it off. Two weeks later, I got a phone call. If Robb hadn’t been standing right there, I would have thought he was playing a prank on me – as he is apt to do. They wanted pictures. Oh, boy! Two weeks later, I got another call. I made the cuts from over 56,000 applicants to 800. Oh, boy: oh, boy! I was to meet with two of the show’s producers in Detroit, Michigan. I did. I made the next series of cuts and was sent a plethora of materials and waivers (Robb also had to sign that should I fall off a cliff, be eaten by a saltwater croc, or bitten by a python, he would not sue—he signed) and oaths that I would not inform the media of my final cut. It was pretty cool, and I was down to the last 50!
Then I got a phone call. Apparently, in the first show, they didn’t have any baby-boomer moms. No one represented the 40-something category, and because they are charging $1 million each from their major sponsors, they had to reach and satisfy a certain target audience. One of the producers personally called to say that she had really wanted me, but my age had worked against me. “You’re too young of a mom.” Imagine that. Here I’ve been worrying about premature aging for nothing. I was told that should I try for Survivor III this would not happen again, but that they had to make certain people happy this time around. I don’t mind saying I was pretty bummed. When you have L.A. hot shots telling you, your husband and your sister that “She’s perfect for the show!” it kind of sets you up for disappointment. Secretly, I think Robb was relieved. With Tommy in diapers, Robb is not emotionally equipped for the job of full-time dad.
If I was going to consider another go at Survivor III, I lost the desire when Sports Illustrated expressed an interest in my trying out for a women’s professional football team and writing about the experience. To be continued …
Apparently in last year’s letter, Robb felt that while the theme was gloomy – what with me confusing medication with Nala’s incontinence pill and all – that I shared too much information … like accidentally swallowing the dog’s pee-pee pill. I can still hear the howls of laughter from the vet’s receptionist when I called to make sure I would be okay. So I promised this year I would not share too much. I’ll condense sentences. Here goes:
Robb decided to save money by cutting his own hair and bought his own kit, declaring, “This thing’ll pay for itself!!” He is bald. We took a road trip with a baby, a five- and seven-year-old. We should not have done that. Robb is now working from home. We still live in our little shack of a home, so it feels as though he and I are working on top of each other. Robb apparently has some peculiar form of Tourettes Syndrome that causes him to randomly blurt out lyrics from songs or movies that have no relevance to whatever is happening at the moment.
He tries to help with the girls and will sometimes sit with Katie to watch “Dora the Explorer,” but it is not helpful when he tells her that Dora’s dad is in a Mexican prison doing 10 to 15. Nor is it helpful when he sings them their bedtime song, “Baby’s Boat’s a Silver Dream.” It is a beautiful classic that he has butchered with, “Baby’s born without a spleen.” He’s not allowed to sing anymore. He says he just didn’t know the words, but we know better. He’s got issues.
With Tommy now entering toddler phase, nothing is safe. He is Robb, Jr. The dogs run when they see him coming, and he’s broken more lamps, clocks, picture frames, stereo speakers, and dishes than I can count. Virtually all the furniture in the living room has been removed. There are baby gates up on almost every doorway in the house, and he makes me cry a lot because that boy’s not right. Baby-proof materials don’t work because he breaks them. Now, we have motorcycle bungee cords over everything. Nothing is safe. Nothing is free from harm, and we tell ourselves this every night when we go to bed and every morning when we wake.
Robb took a business trip to Fort Lauderdale and managed to go deep-sea fishing and catch a five-foot-long barracuda that put up such a fight that all the skin was torn from Robb’s hands. Tough guys don’t wear gloves. We spent much of our savings to send the disgusting thing to a taxidermist. What we got back is even uglier, and it looks plastic! Robb has declared that it is “beautiful,” but it looks like a hideous big plastic fish from a flea market.
Kerri and Katie dressed up as Powerpuff Girls for Halloween. Everyone thought Katie was a little princess but kept asking Kerri, “Oh, and are you a bumble bee?”
Perhaps this is my fault. Because Kerri has grown up training with members of the U.S. women’s bobsled team, she thinks throwing up from exercise-induced exhaustion is normal and believes Powerbars (my sponsor) are candy bars; she doesn’t understand that girls are made up of sugar and spice. We got hooked up with a pretty snooty Brownie troop – very prissy girls. All the other families were members of the country club while we live in a small rental home. But never were the differences made so clear to me than when I pulled up early to a Brownie meeting to find all the girls outside playing freeze tag. Fast, powerful, competitive, and full of boundless energy, Kerri was “it” and was happily screaming, “Tag! You’re frozen!” as she, using a stiff-arm tactic, happily and cluelessly sent designer-wearing Brownies flailing and crashing to the ground. Wearing her hand-me-downs and ready to rumble, Kerri had no idea she was actually hurting people. She was “it!”
Who cares, anyway? I was actually kicked out of my Brownie troop. Stupid Brownies!
Kerri dared Katie to drive Tommy’s musical ice cream truck down the twisty slide. Katie was pretty banged up. She is definitely going to need braces with the spacing in her teeth – which isn’t helped by the fact that she keeps placing pretzel sticks between her teeth and walking around like Dracula. Our guinea pig, Star, died. Robb has athlete’s foot but denies it and rubs it on everything. Sosi, the lab mix, brought us a dead animal, which is pretty amazing because she is pretty much blind and deaf. We had a mouse in our garage and tried to catch it humanely, but the darned thing kept eating the peanut butter and escaping so Robb finally bought the killing-kind of trap. Whap!
Now when we play, “What Am I?” – a favorite pastime in the car - Katie likes to say, “Well, I’m little and soft and brown and Daddy broke my neck. What am I?”
Here’s to a calmer year next year …