Squawk Radio

Monday, December 12, 2005

On the First Day of Christmas, the Squawkers Give to Thee.... KAREN WHITE!


Desperateness. Is that a word? I’m not really sure and to be honest, I don’t really care. It’s simply a word that has become part of my world since the airing of the first episode of Desperate Housewives.

Why do I watch this show? I’m not really sure. I mean, these women are all gorgeous—what do they have to be desperate about besides encroaching cellulite? Seriously, Sunday night is my laundry-folding night and I park myself in front of the television for two hours of serious mind candy (DH and Grey’s Anatomy—Patrick Dempsey whoa baby!). But still, I’m not really sure why these women are so desperate. They need to meet some of the women in _my_ neighborhood!

We actually have a kind of “desperate” club here—where we unofficially vote who was the most desperate housewife of the week. I’ve never won (although I’ve been close a few times). For instance, there was that time when I was hosting the monthly get-together at my house (about 30 people) and my cleaning people were a no-show, my copy edits from the copy-editor from hell had hit my door the day before and were due in two days, my son got his first demerit EVER (for not doing his history homework so my immediate thought is good-bye Duke University aspirations—ok so he’s only in 6th grade but STILL), my daughter forgot her group project at home which required me to drive to school for the SECOND time that day while also trying to make all the food for the party, our guinea pig got sick and I had to take her to the vet, I forgot to pay the phone bill and I’d received a nasty letter from them in the mail which really ticked me off because I NEVER lose things, I had herniated a disc in my back earlier and was in tremendous pain AND my husband was gone all week on business.

The woman who beat me at desperateness for that week suffered through her son falling off the bleachers at a baseball game and breaking BOTH arms, then getting pushed down on the playground by a bully and having to have them RE-CASTED, and while backing out of the garage to take the child to the emergency room, she backed into her husband’s car and did quite a lot of damage to BOTH cars, essentially making them car-less for a whole week—the same week the entire family came down with the FLU. Yeah, she beat me that week and I’m happy to relinquish any claims to the title!

And now it’s the holiday rush—time for REALLY desperate measures. Like hoping my husband will be out of town so I don’t have to pretend to cook. Sure, Cheerios for dinner three nights is a row is fine! If I pop the kids a vitamin, that’s like eating vegetables, right? And ordering all the Christmas gifts online (although there are some very fine malls within short driving distance to me) and paying more to ship just because it’s easier and saves me time does not make me lazy. It makes me efficient! I’m also a proud new owner of a new washer and dryer because they’re high-capacity. I don’t think I’ve _ever_ enjoyed a purchase more (talk about desperate!). My weekly laundry load has been halved! As my March 15th deadline looms nearer and nearer, my next desperate measure will be to have everybody turn their underwear inside out so they can get twice the wear before putting them in the laundry.

Another great time-saver for desperate women—not shaving! I mean, it’s winter. Even here in Georgia it gets cold. I don’t know about you, but I could use that extra layer of insulation. I just make sure to remember to wear pants and not to brush up against my husband at night unless I’m wearing my flannel pajamas. I’m wearing a dress tomorrow night so I guess I’ll have to go ahead and shave—just have to remember to tell my husband what I’m up to before he finds the pruning shears in the shower…

And don’t overlook the more obvious solutions to desperateness—like catering. We’re having a dinner party here tomorrow night for 8 people and, yes, the whole thing is being catered! I just have to run to the bakery (or, better yet, send my husband) to order and pick up the dinner rolls and then stop by the liquor store to buy some wine and voila! Dinner is served!

Really, people, I’m simply overwhelmed right now with my desperateness: husband, children, house, holidays, writing deadline. I have dark circles under my eyes that would rival Mars’ (or whatever that stupid planet is with circles). If those women in the TV show were really desperate, don’t you think they would look more, well, worn? And what’s this with perfect hair all the time? Please. Thankfully there are pony tails and baseball caps for those of us who can’t make the hair perfect in between writing that fabulous paragraph and quizzing a child on tomorrow’s algebra test.

When did my desperateness descend upon me? Well, definitely having children had something to do with it. And it spills over into my professional life, too. A few years ago, when I was desperate to sign a book contract, my husband was sent to New York on business. As he left, he asked—as he always does when he travels—if there was something he could bring back for me. I answered immediately, “a contract.” Would you believe that later that same day that my agent called with a book offer? And that, in my desperate state (and even now) I could picture my husband standing behind her with a gun to her head? Seriously, my husband still has to reassure me that he had nothing to do with it.

And now for my guilty secret—another reason why I’m feeling so desperate right now and it has to do with cole slaw. It’s a long story, but let’s just say that in my family, there’s a rivalry between two factions as to who can sneak a vat of cole slaw into the other’s possession without them being aware of it. It has shown up in the most unbelievable of circumstances (including at a lawyer’s office where we were closing on our new house) and it’s become highly competitive. Each year, we have to think of something more and more dastardly—and it’s my turn now. And it takes an awful lot of planning and creativity. Maybe I can outsource this, too….

So, let me know—what’s making you all desperate? And who has some clever cole slaw ideas? And, if anybody’s REALLY desperate and wants to know the entire cole slaw story, let me know!

After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. Denying her inner Scarlett, Karen pursued a degree in business. Ten years later, after leaving the business world to stay home with her children, she wrote her first book, In the Shadow of the Moon. Five more award-winning novels followed. Pieces of the Heart will be released in trade paperback by New American Library in April 2006. Karen lives outside Atlanta with her husband, son and daughter and is busily at work on her seventh novel, a "grit lit" southern family drama set in rural Louisiana. Visit her website at http://www.karen-white.com/. ]

Eloisa James, 10:07 AM