Cabbage WHAT?

A few years ago, I happened to be talking to my mom on the phone when she mentioned that the night prior, she and my dad had attended a 70th birthday party for their friend Shelly. 

My mom said, “We were all supposed to bring a gag gift, so I gave her that old Cabbage Crotch doll.” 

Me: “What? You still have those?” 

Mom: “Well, not anymore. I came across that one in the back closet, and I thought it would be funny to give it as a gift.” 

Me: “Holy shit. What did people say? Did you tell them the story? Can you get it back? If there’s ONE THING I want for Christmas, it’s that doll. I’ve told so many people about that and I’m pretty sure no one believes me.” 

And so my darling, elegant, educated mother went to her friend, explained the story, and returned with the last Cabbage Crotch doll in existence. Now it lives in MY back closet, which is the only appropriate place. 


In the fall of 1982, when I was 12 years old and Cabbage Patch Kids were approaching their peak popularity, my mom was inspired by something (lord knows what) to start making the “adult” version at home.   I imagine that she would take them to work and giggle with her co-workers, although looking back, these things are more of an HR violation than most of the “Me Too” stories you’ve heard.  

Now, keep in mind that my mom was in her late 30’s at the time, a registered nurse (RN) by training who had been promoted to a position running the surgery department at a well-reputed hospital. Presumably she earned this role by displaying sound judgment, a dedicated work ethic, and natural people management skills. 

HOWEVER, here’s what was going on at home: she had turned our family room into an upscale sweatshop for producing bizarre  anatomically correct dolls out of plastic googley eyes, cheap fake fur, and used pantyhose. 

Allow me to set the stage. My grandmother (her mom) was out visiting from Iowa, staying with us for 6 weeks to recover from bunion surgery, as grandmothers do. Never one to sit idle, she must have asked if there were any household projects or mending she could help with while she was essentially confined to the couch all day. I don’t know which one of them cooked up the idea, but what I remember is coming from middle school each day to help stuff abnormally large penises with pillow guts and then sew them onto the crotch section of nude-colored pantyhose. Yes, I know it’s hard to picture, so here’s photographic evidence. 

Cute enough from the front, right?
Nooo! Don’t open the flap! You can never go back!

Granted, the boy doll was more offensive than the girl version, which sported two nylon breasts and a triangle of fur. At the time, I knew what naked women looked like (thanks to my father’s subscription to Playboy and my tendency to read all of the mail), but I found the boy doll shocking and unexplainable. It would be years before I found it funny.

Now, it’s perhaps the funniest thing EVER. I really want to Google “cabbage crotch dolls” to see if anyone else remembers this short-lived trend, but I’m terrified of: a.) what will turn up in my immediate search results, and b.) what will turn up later in my YouTube suggestions when I’m presenting something at work. If anyone does a successful search, let me know!

Beer. It’s so easy, even a woman can make it.

Last Friday at work, the office hosted a potluck to celebrate Diwali. I brought naan. Homemade naan, no less, crafted by me that same morning out of yeast, flour, water, yogurt, and salt. I cooked it on a super-hot cast iron skillet, and I must say, it turned out pretty well. So well that two people independently asked me, “Did you make the naan, or did your husband make it?”

It’s a little hard not to find that insulting. Fair credit: my husband Ted is a genius baker who runs Batch 58, a local catering company that specializes in scones, lemon curd, quiche, and other tasty baked treats. But STILL. Their question brought back memories of Easter at my sister-in-law’s house a few years ago. 

Background: I’ve been brewing beer since 2001, with pretty good results. Sometimes terrific results, and occasionally less so (like the carboy that exploded when the babysitter was here), but overall, I like to brew and I definitely like to drink beer…it’s my hobby. It’s a fun science project in the kitchen. Somehow I manage to be female as well.

Clearly this guy was a dick. Although, honestly, I might say the same thing.

A couple of years ago, we were invited to a family Easter celebration. My husband’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband (for real), who happens to be a network administrator at a large company whose name rhymes with “E-Kay”, was poking around the big iced beer tub on the kitchen counter. We’ll call him Jeff, because that is his name.

I happened to be standing nearby while he perused the available bottles, and came to the large brown one with no label.

Jeff: “Do you know what this is?”

Me: “Oh, I brought that. It’s one of my home brews.”

Awkward pause.

Jeff, tilting down chin and using the tone one uses with a fibbing 3-year-old: “Lisa. Did YOU brew the beer, or did TED brew the beer?”

Me (in my head): “F**k you. F**k you and your outdated assumptions, and your freakishly blond family. Yes, women can brew beer, and vote, and build websites, and run companies. Didn’t you ever watch ‘Free to Be, You & Me?’ And by the way, no one else has worn a pager since 1997. The network will survive without you.” (It’s possible that I was a teeny bit fired up.) 

Me (out loud): “Yes, Jeff. I made the beer.”

But since then, despite being exceptionally irritated at the time, I’ve gotten so much mileage out of telling that story that it was totally worth it. Apologies to my sister-in-law if she reads this…it was a lovely event.

No one told me it would be this hard


If everything is going the way it’s supposed to, why am I so sad?

When “Toy Story 3” came out, I watched it with the kids, who were about 13 and 10 at the time. In the scene when Andy, the fictional kid in the movie series, was going off to college, I cried. It wasn’t one of those wiping-away-a-discreet-tear moments…I full-on cried. The kids did not get it.

Them: “Mom, what’s wrong?”

Me: “He’s going to college.”

Them: “That’s a good thing. He’s supposed to go to college.”

Me: “I know, but his mom is going to miss him.”

Yesterday we moved Jack into the dorms at Cal Poly, and today we took him out for breakfast, bought some supplies at the bookstore, and then said goodbye. That was 8 hours ago and I still haven’t recovered.

I’m pretty sure they were just babies like, a year ago.

Well, he grew up, damnit.