How NOT to Mow the Lawn

For the first seven years of our marriage, mowing the lawn was strictly Ry's thing. Sort of an "anything inside the house is my responsibility, anything outside the house is yours" arrangement. Then one day, I noticed that the lawn was really long because Ry was out of town. And I realized that he would come home and need to mow it. So I did what any good wife would do – I mowed it.

Now, before you think I'm getting all up on my high horse and bragging about what an awesome wife I am, let me explain. I mowed the lawn so my husband would not have to mow it when he got home. But also so that when he got home I could throw the kids in his general direction and say, "oh they missed you so much they just want to play with you. Exclusively you. For at least an hour. While I lock myself in my room with a book and a glass of wine."

Ry was so relieved not to have to mow the lawn, I don't even know if he questioned why I did it. So the next time the lawn needed to be mowed, I just did it. Because here's the other thing I learned – if you volunteer to mow the lawn, you get at least an hour a) outside, b) listening to whatever you want, c) without responsibility of watching children and d) with a cool adult beverage either during or immediately upon completion. I wish the lawn would grow faster.

Except for this one thing. It turns out I know nothing about maintaining the lawn mower. So, I present to you, my tips for what NOT to do when mowing the lawn: 

  1. If you can't figure out why the mower won't restart, do not keep pulling the cord "one more time." You will get a bruise on your hand.
     
  2. If you decide that it needs oil, don't just keep adding more oil to the oil tank. I think you're supposed to measure it or something. 
     
  3. Also, if you decide that it needs oil, make sure the mixture you are adding to the oil tank is, in fact, oil. 
     
  4. If you call your husband from outside the house for help because the mower is smoking and he doesn't answer because he is nappng, don't continue to try to fix it on your own.
     
  5. If Google tells you to siphon the mystery liquid out of the oil tank, do not try to fashion an implement for this purpose yourself out of a bulb syringe and a drinking straw held together with electrical tape. 
     
  6. When you go to the hardware store to get materials to fix your mower, do not pretend you know what you are doing. It will save time for both you and the hardware store guy, because he will immediately direct you to a small engine repair shop instead of trying to tell you how to fix it yourself. 
     
  7. Do not try to fit your lawn mower in the back of your SUV while your children are still in their car seats to bring it to aforementioned repair shop. There is not enough room in a Kia Sorento for children and a lawn mower. Shocking, I know.
     
  8. Do not ignore the "flash flood warning" alert that the National Weather Service sends to your phone as you are leaving the house. They mean it. No one at the small engine repair shop needs to know what color bra you have on under your tank top, but they will after it pours buckets on your head as you unload the mower and walk it inside. The good news is that the initial $50 quote will somehow end up just being $17 for some reason.

So now, I find myself at a crossroads. Am I the kind of wife who will persevere through this little setback, or will this forever be known as the summer I flirted with being the kind of wife who mows the lawn? Maybe I'm crazy, or maybe the fumes from all that attempted siphoning have gone to my head, but as soon as this rain passes, I think I'm going to finish mowing the lawn. Hopefully Ry will get me a beer. 

Update: One more thing – do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to take the lawn mower out of the car after it visits the repair shop unless you want your car to smell like eau de gasoline. Will this lesson NEVER END?!

I Can’t Be Good at Everything

I have been doing kids' activities for over five years now. First, there was baby yoga. Not mommy and baby yoga, where you integrate your baby into the poses, or mommy yoga where everyone totes a sleeping baby in a bucket seat into the studio and lines them up along the wall while they work out. This was yoga for the baby. (Are you imagining about a dozen new moms, equal parts awed and shellshocked by their teeny tiny humans, totally DYING for adult interaction? If so, you nailed it.) I, obviously, wore my yoga pants anyway, in solidarity with the baby.

Then we did Music Together. We still do Music Together. I have been to so many sessions of Music Together that I have long since memorized every song in every collection. When our music teacher tries to hand me the new music and CD at the beginning of each new semester, I stare at her with dead eyes and say "Really? Do I have to take another copy?" This usually gets a few gasps or dirty looks out of the newbies in class. Soon enough, ladies, you'll feel my pain. My "JohnTheRabbitPlayingInTheKitchenSheSellsSeashells" for the millionth time on repeat pain.

We briefly did gymnastics. T was "that kid" in class – he didn't listen, he had to pee six times during the 45 minute class, he distracted the other kids. So the day another kid jumped directly on top of his head in the ball pit, I figured that was as close to a neck/spinal cord injury as we needed to get and left in the middle of class. Never to return again. I think I heard cheering from inside as we made our exit into the parking lot, but I can't be sure. 

And not to be outdone by T the gymnast, A became a tiny dancer this year. We got to class more weeks than not, not always on time but always appropriately attired – hair up and everything. After enduring several months of ballet with about a dozen other 2-4 year olds, we were "rewarded" with a ballet recital that was equal parts adorable and disturbing.  

Most recently, Ry and I were so convinced of our proficience at kids' activities that we I volunteered us to coach t-ball. While that could be, and likely will be, a post all its own, it is worth noting that everyone had "fun" and no one ended up in the ER. So there.

Anyway. The point is – I am not new at kids' activities. This is not my first time. Obviously, I can take on another activity – a two on one activity, even. Which is how I found myself with two children enrolled in kinderswim. How hard could it be? You show up, hand the kids off to the swim instructor and Instagram observe them for half an hour. Then you collect them, dry them, and go home. Right? RIGHT?!

WRONG. You have NO IDEA how wrong.

For some reason, I am physically unable to do the following seemingly simple things:

  • Arrive On Time. It is summer in Maine. What does that mean? Road construction. Where does it mean that? EVERYWHERE. A drive that should take 15 minutes can easily take 45. You know what happens in that magical 30 minute fluctuation? YOUR KIDS MISS SWIM CLASS. 
  • Dress Appropriately. It is "summer" in  Maine. What does that mean? That it is still, on most days, jeans and long sleeved shirt weather. Except inside the pool area, which is a balmy 140 degrees Celsius. Okay, not really, because I think that is biologically impossible but it's really freaking hot. It's like a sweat lodge. 
  • Dress and Undress Them Appropriately. Usually, we arrive with tiny humans already in swimsuits. Half the battle, right? Absolutely not. Trying to corral two children out of the pool area, into the shower (without them streaking across the locker room), into a dressing room, and into clothing and shoes is im-freaking-possible. You have NO IDEA. I know the parent to child ratio is only 1:2, but with all the changing into clothes while mostly still wet and trying not to flash all the other kids and parents and whathaveyou, it feels like 1:20. It's like I'm Michelle Duggar all of a sudden. And because of all the sweating (see above) my hair kind of looks like hers.
  • Keep My Cool. The sweating (me). The orders (me). The ignoring (them). The threatening (me). The crying (everyone). It is wicked, wicked stressful. By the time we make it to the parking lot (a full 15-20 minutes after the other students and parents), I fully expect a police officer or someone from DHS to be waiting to take the kids away from me. "No way you are the mother, ma'am. This is clearly your first day with these people. They don't even look like you."

But the worst part about it? In all those other activities, I may not be doing the best job but I am never doing the worst job. I always have it a little more together than someone. In swim class, I am the worst by a wiiiiiiddddeeee margin. And it is not. Getting. Easier.

Don't worry. I have a plan. And no, it doesn't involve drills where we practice showering and dressing and not flashing people in a timely fashion, gracefully and without perspiring. Next semester, I am going to sign them up for the late afternoon session. So when I get home, I can cool myself off with a nice cold adult beverage. I totally earn it.

 

Itscocktailthirty On the Go Edition

Let's play a game. I will show you a few items that people have – in the past month – said made them think of me. When we are finished, there will be one multiple choice question to answer.

1. Adult Sippy Cup: 

There are so many times when I would love to have a glass of wine for outdoor itscocktailthirty but it is just not convenient. Problem solved. Although if the outside were opaque this would be even handier. "Wow, Leah ALWAYS has a coffee with her, doesn't she?" Ah, yes, I just love my "coffee." 
 
2. The Wine Rack:

This little gem actually solves two of my problems in one, theoretically. According to the Amazon description, it can "turn an A cup in to double Ds and sport your favorite beverage for yourself and your friends." Yes, because I'm sure friends will want to sip a beverage from a communal spout that has been warmed by my breasts for the past several minutes. Also, am I hoping that everyone is so intoxicated by the time we are finished sipping out of the "wine rack" that they don't notice the rapid deflation of my chest? Worth checking out for the tongue-in-cheek reviews alone, although I think some of them are dead serious. 

3. Wine Purse: 

Okay, in fairness this isn't actually marketed as a purse. But come ON. It is totally a purse. AmIright? It is also interesting to note that this was sent to me by multiple people. Apparently both wine and purses just scream "Leah" to my people. They know me so well.

Now the question and answer portion – 

From these product suggestions, should I expect:

a) To purchase one or all of these items for the upcoming summer months?
b) These items to arrive in the next month as birthday gifts?
c) To arrive home from my next girls' night out to an intervention because of a & b have occurred?

* Product credit to my partner in itscocktailthirty Steph, my good friend Marge and my hilarious cousin Courtney for being the first to call my attention to the above items.

 

To the 4C With Love

Our closest city is Portland, Maine. We've got a lot going on for a little city, but I generally have to travel out of state for "big" concerts. So when an artist whose entire collection I celebrate decides to grace the 4C (that's the Cumberland County Civic Center, for the non-Mainers) with a performance, I try to be there. 

Last night, we hit up the Carrie Underwood / Hunter Hayes show. And I could not help comparing this show to the last time I went to a show at the 4C, in 2003. Let's see…

Things that Have Changed: 

  • I am someone's wife. And also two someones' mom. Eek.
  • The seats are better when you have a grown-up budget instead of a college student budget.
  • I call it a night earlier. Refer to the first bullet point. I also leave before the end of the show because encores stress me out. We all know you're coming back out to sing your latest hit, why are you making us work so hard for it with all the extra standing and clapping? Geez. 

Things that Have Not Changed: 

  • I make friends in the line for the ladies' room. Maybe it's because I'm a Mainer. Maybe it's because a couple of adult beverages make me think I am a scintillating conversationalist. Either way, I do it every time.
  • I complain when they stop serving beer. If an artist is still on the stage, I want the option to still have an overpriced beer in my hand. Is that too much to ask, really?!
  • I think it's MY concert. Oh, you thought we were going to the concert to hear a famous person sing? Because I thought we were going to the concert so I could have a loud singalong with a famous person. Sorry about that.

I am always thrilled to get out and spend a night in Portland sans tiny humans. But possibly my favorite thing about this particular night out is that it was a last minute decision to treat my mom to the show for her birthday. It reminded me that she's to blame for my ladies' room chattiness and complaining about the lack of alcohol. But the whole leaving before the end of the show thing? That's ALL my dad. Perfect balance. I hope Ry and I can do as well by our tiny humans. 

Supermarket Saturday

Being self-employed, I have a lot more flexibility in my schedule than most people. There are ups and downs but the balance, thus far, has been favorable. I don't think I fully realized how favorable until this past Saturday, when I happened to swing by the grocery store around 8:30 am.Supermarket Saturday Shopping

A typical trip to the grocery store for me happens around 9:30 or 10 on a weekday morning with A, because that is when we have time. We grab a cart – which A generally refuses to ride in somewhere between root vegetables and protein bars – and wander up and down the aisles. We stop for the complimentary cookie in the bakery, we give a shout-out to the lobsters (poor guys) in seafood, and we usually throw down over candy or stuffed animals at the "seasonal items" endcap (see photo). A often makes friends with our elderly coshoppers or loudly asks me why the baby behind us in the checkout line is screaming so loud. (Yeah, like we've never been there. HA.)  It takes an hour, minimum, but most days we don't mind.

I had totally forgotten how the other half lives, so I thought I'd make a quick trip to the store before I started work on Saturday. Ha. HAHAHAHAHA. I walked in expecting a 20 minute "supermarket sweep"-esque experience; I walked out wondering where my freaking medal was for surviving that fiasco. Those people – those Saturday shoppers – are intense. You have to watch out for: 

  • Exercise Girl: It is Saturday before 9am, but she has already been to the gym. (She has the stretchy pants and gym hair to prove it.) Maybe she's tired, maybe she's hungry, but she looks like she will bite your hand if you get in front of her in the organic produce and smoothie section. Play through, exercise girl, play through. We both know my yoga pants haven't been to the gym in awhile and you could totally kick my ass. As an aside, though – wouldn't you be more comfortable in Whole Paycheck Foods? They have an entire organic smoothie bar. 
  • Couples: Ry and I haven't grocery coshopped since…um…EVER. So these people are completely foreign to me. I mean, on the one hand it's cute and I'm happy for them. On the other hand I feel the way about this that Harry feels about bringing someone to the airport – clearly the beginning of the relationship. (Please, please, puh-leeze tell me you are familiar with Harry.) And they are kind of a hazard. They only have eyes for each other – not for the people who are trying to get around them in the aisle. 
  • Ms. Efficient: This lady is all business, from the mom jeans to the sensible flats. She has scheduled this visit down to the minute, her grocery list is organized by section with corresponding coupons and she has those super handy grocery totes in the back of her car. You know, the ones that keep the stuff organized and prevent it from sliding all over the place. After this she has to go to the post office, the library, and the dry cleaners before she spends the rest of the day shuttling small people around to extracurricular activities. Stay out of her way. She will run your foot over and not look back – not because she's mean, just because she's on a schedule here.
  • The Mom With Kids: Ah, a fellow mama, who for whatever reason has to shop on the weekend with her tiny (or not so tiny) humans. I sympathize with her, and I am betting that she is here first thing on a Saturday morning for three reasons: 1) She has been up for many hours already so it's not "first thing" to her, 2) She has these people to herself – possibly by herself – all weekend and needs to get this part over with because 3) She will be harrassed all weekend because "they're hungry." Again. If she's behind me at the checkout, I'm paying for my box of wine and leaving it for her. 
  • Teenagers: Of course, the only teenagers who are up this early on a Saturday morning are the ones who work at the supermarket. And they. Are. EVERYWHERE. At every register. They giggle. They flirt. You know what they don't do? Pay attention to their customers or do anything particularly efficiently. (Yes, I know how old this makes me sound. But I was very nice and I did not complain to a manager or anything, because I realized that would officially make me old.) But it could have been worse. They could have called me "ma'am." 

When I finally emerged, I was grateful. One, that I had survived and managed to get everything on the list. And two, that I hopefully won't have to shop on a Saturday again for another six years. But if I do, I am pretty sure that whatever they charge for Pea Pod delivery is well worth it. 

 

Itscocktailthirty 101 | A Time Out for Mommy

You may have noticed that I like to reference "itscocktailthirty," which is a phrase my good friend Steph coined and we began texting back and forth as shorthand. We know what kind of day it is depending on what time "itscocktailthirty" makes its first appearance. 

Here are the most common types of itscocktailthirty, for your reference:
  • Preventative Itscocktailthirty: Also known as “I am a better mother after no less than one but no more than four glasses of wine.” I drink wine so I don’t yell. (As much.)
  • Parents’ Night Out (a few hours) Itscocktailthirty: We drink early to make the most of the time we have “off the clock.” We utilize road sodas like we haven’t since we were in college, only instead of red solo cups we’ve been known to throw our beverages into sippy cups. Because Lord knows we have enough of those lying around. Note: the hangover is exponentially worse. Add 4 hours of recovery time for each year you are over 25.
  • Parent’s Night Out (all night) Itscocktailthirty: When someone has the kids overnight, one of us (or both, if we aren’t driving) drinks way more than is advisable. Just. Because. We. Can.
  • It Takes a Village Itscocktailthirty: You’re in a social situation where no one is driving, everyone is drinking, and no one is 100% in charge of the children, per se. But someone will grab them before they light something on fire or fall into the lake. Probably. See, for reference: summer barbecues with cornhole.
  • New England Winter Itscocktailthirty: Alcohol + warm beverage + freezing cold outdoor activity for many hours. Also known as extreme weather survival itscocktailthirty. Not to be used during downhill skiing. Apres does, after all, mean ”after.”
  • New England Summer Itscocktailthirty: If mommy says “no, you may not have a sip of my lemonade,” it is because it is adult lemonade. I do not care that it is eleven am and we are on a public beach. This container is not “open” and my kids are wearing life jackets. STOP JUDGING ME.
  • Isn’t This Fun Itscocktailthirty: Some children’s activities are only fun for parents with a little help from our friends Johnny, Jack and/or Jose. Like trick-or-treating. Or Storyland. Or watching four-year-olds “play” sports. Or Tuesdays. Wait, what?
  • Code Red Itscocktailthirty: This one is serious. This is the one where you stop joking about putting Bailey’s in your coffee AND ACTUALLY DO IT. At 8 am. Because it’s already that kind of day. Use sparingly, or your spouse may put you in rehab. Although I think rehab has strict family visitation rules and spa services, so…you know, use your best judgement.
There are more. There are endless types of itscocktailthirty. But these are the most common ones around here. What did I miss?

Are You There, Me? It’s Old Me.

I just asked my kid to get his hands out of his pants. Again. For the 379th time today. I have asked his sister the same thing, approximately half as many times as well. They are 5 and 3. Where do we go from here?! Or, more importantly, how did I get here?!

What I mean is, I used to have a job outside these four walls. I showered, got dressed, applied makeup (usually while stopped at traffic lights, whatever) and went out into the world. I had coffees and lunch dates and adult conversations. Itscocktailthirty was usually a martini or four, made with top-shelf liquor. But today…
 
Coffee – from our coffee maker (it’s not even a french press), lukewarm by the time I transferred it into a to-go cup. That I hastily rinsed the remnants of yesterday’s coffee out of.
 
Lunch – finally happened around 3. Because every time I tried before that, my lunch ended up in someone else’s mouth. Seriously, these two eat like teenagers.
 
Adult Conversation – Toss up between a conference call which I spent mostly muted because the kids could not stop talking over me and sporadically mumbling half-sentences at a girlfriend as we browsed the aisles at Whole Foods and fielded phone calls from our business partner spouses. With our kids, of course. Because when are we not with our kids???
 
Itscocktailthirty – Wine. From a box. At 4pm sharp. Okay, maybe it was 3:45. But I round up to the nearest whole hour.
 
It could be worse. We could be out of wine. Or I could be pregnant. Or my kids could have their hands down someone else’s pants. See? Silver lining, people.
 

Why, Target? WHY?

(Editor's Note: Yes, I know it is March. I wrote this weeks ago and did not have a chance to post it. Now seems like a good time, and it also fits for FTFS. Because swimsuit shopping in January is nothing if not stupid. )

Finish the Sentence Friday
I am a Target shopper. And while the list of things I enjoy about the Target (say it with me now, Tar-jay) far outweigh the things I don’t, there is this one little thing.
 
Bathing suits in January. WTF, Target? 
 
Are you trying to make me feel bad that I don’t have vacation plans? Do you really think I’m looking to try on bathing suits even though I haven’t recovered from my holiday binging? Maybe you are passively-aggressively telling me it’s time to revisit the gym. Either way. Not cool.
 
But here’s the other thing about Target and the January bathing suits. By May, the only bathing suits you can find are size 2 or size 16, tucked away at the end of the “up to 70% off” clearance rack. And good luck to you if you wanted a top and bottom in matching sizes. HA.
 
So during my tri-weekly trip to Target, I spotted the cutest swimsuit. And because I am a seasoned Target shopper, and I know how the game is played, I added it to my cart along with a couple others. Because that is how the swimsuit game, in general, is played.
 
I got home, psyched myself up, and took out suit #1 to try on. It was a one-piece, made by Spanx, that looked phenomenal on. You know what did not look phenomenal? The angry red lines on my thighs from where I had drag the suit up to get it on. It was like trying to wrestle a sausage into its casing. RETURN.
 
Inner monologue: “It’s okay. That’s how Spanx work. We know this. I’m sure the next one will be better.”
 
Suit 2: On the one hand, my boobs look phenom – they are in the right place again, and this thing must have padding because they’re a lot more ample than usual. On the other hand, not only are the bottoms cutting into that unfortunate place that draws extra attention to back fat, if I were brave enough to turn around – I’m not – I’m pretty sure there would be butt cleavage. RETURN.
 
Suit 3: Appears to be an exact replica of suit 2, different pattern. I know better than to even try.
 
Dejected, I return the suits to the Target bag and commence "itscocktailthirty." It’s February. I am fat and finally understand what is meant by “a whiter shade of pale.” I know better than to try on bathing suits at this time of year, but Target has left me no choice.
 
The next day I present the suits at the Target return counter, avoiding eye contact with the skinny twentysomething counter girl who is helping me.
 
"So is there anything wrong with these items?" (At least she didn't add ma'am.)
 
"Um, no, they just don't actually, you know, fit." 
 
“Oooooh, I love this suit, it is totally  cute! I bought it but had to go up a couple of sizes because it is juniors.”
 
My head snaps up – “Did you say JUNIORS?”
 
“Oh yeah,” she says. “I had to go up to like a medium.“
 
“You should really have a sign warning people about that. Where the line is between 'adult' and 'junior' sizes. With flashing lights and bright colors. Especially in swimsuits. But thank you for telling me. I feel MUCH better.”

Things I Wish Were Still True

It is cold and flu season. Which means everyone is sick, or recovering from being sick, or about to get sick. Fun times all around. And inevitably, you have a mother/grandmother/random person who interjects their two cents about treating “sick” – “just make them a hot toddy with lemon, honey and a little whiskey.”

Dude. My kid is 3. Whiskey, really? I mean…I like your style, but I don’t think that is allowed anymore. Which makes me think of other things that are no longer allowed, but I totally wish still were. Like…
 
  • No carseats, seatbelts optional. Then I would be feeling like a rockstar for buckling my kids in at all, rather than feeling like a jerk for forgetting the booster seat in the other car. Again.
  • I will put you in the car. I was a nightmare as a child. As a result, every time we went to a restaurant, my mother would park within sight of a window table in the restaurant and insist on being seated at said table. 9 times out of 10, she started the meal with two children at the table and ended it with one in the car. Who had been there since right around “can I take your order?”
  • I’m just running in. Any errand that can be completed in five minutes or less should not necessitate extricating children from carseats, locating errant shoes and socks, and bundling up in outerwear. We live in Maine. And I can see you from the store. You know who else I can see? Nosy McNoserson calling social services from the car next to mine. Dammit.
  • Go play outside. You know, by yourself. With no supervision. For several hours. Just steer clear of the ice cream truck. That dude is creepy.
  • Itscocktailthirty for kids. Also known as the whiskey rule. “Oh, rub some Jack Daniels on their gums for teething! Make them a hot toddy for their cold! They’ll feel much better!” Maybe, maybe not. But they will likely be in an alcohol-induced stupor. But they can get that from hand sanitizer, too, so…no judgement here.
So I’m (mostly) kidding. I buckle my kids up. I don’t leave them in the car unattended (often). And I’ve never let them have alcohol (on purpose). Because, unfortunately for us, it is a different world now than the one we and our parents grew up in.
 
Sad, because I know I would have made an awesome Betty Draper – only I totally would have held onto my hot husband and been nicer to my kids.
 

ecard credit: Alysson Homa

I Am Judging Me

I confess, I ended my night last night with The Bachelor. Ugh. Every season, I say "I'm not watching that trash." And every season, I end up watching it. Kind of like how every day, I say "I don't need wine to get through my evening with the tiny humans," and every afternoon at 4pm I start making eyes at the Black Box. Yes, it is exactly like that. 

But these Bachelor people are geniuses. I imagine that "casting" and "scripting" for this show look a lot like this:

Step 1: Call modeling agencies for casting call. Note to models: You must be an aspiring model and claim something else as your primary profession. We prefer kindergarten teachers, professional cheerleaders or "consultants." Bonus points for really obscure professions like "mortician" or "rodeo clown."

Step 2: Sort through applicants for signs of emotional instability and general confusion over current events and politics. Anyone who can correctly identify the Speaker of the House is automatically disqualified. Anyone who can correctly identify past contestants of The Bachelor, Teen Mom or The Jersey Shore is automatically passed through to the next round.

Step 3: Final interview questions, including:
"How do you feel about hot tubs?"
"Are you opposed to wearing a bikini in completely inappropriate settings like ski mountains, elevators or while sky diving?"
"What are your thoughts on sloppy thirds, fourths or seventeeths?"
" Have you and six of your best girlfriends ever dated the same guy?"
"Has an ex ever taken out a restraining order against you?"
"On a scale of one to ten, how desperate are you to find a husband?"

Step 4: The finalists. We need at least one of the following:

  • Emotionally unstable girl. She cries all the time. She cries when she gets a rose and when other people do. She cries when she receives a date card and when she does not. And when she gets sent home (it usually doesn't take long, because unless she is super-hot the guys catch on pretty quickly) she goes bat-sh*t crazy talking about how she was "the one" for The Bachelor and how some day he will realize it and show up at her door. (Or she will show up hiding in the bushes with binoculars across the street from his house. Same difference.)

  • Super-Hot Mean Girl. This girl acts like Cruella Deville but looks more like Giselle. None of the other girls ever speak to her on dates or at cocktail parties, but she assures The Bachelor it's because they are jealous and she is just misunderstood. We're not sure if he believes it or not, but she generally sticks around until the overnight fantasy dates. Gee, I wonder why. Side note: every self-respecting Bachelor feigns shock and awe when their season airs about SHMG. "I just didn't see that side of her." Yeah dude, we know what "side" you were focused on.

  • Party Girl. This girl is there for the awesome dates and the free drinks. She is marginally interested in The Bachelor but only as a vehicle for prolonging her stay at the house. She always has a drink in her hand, glassed-over eyes, and comes up with the best group date suggestions. "Let's all go skinny-dipping!"

  • Token Girl. She's there because we are being politically correct, rounding out the pool. We know this because she never has one on one time with The Bachelor, we aren't sure what her name is, but she keeps getting through to the next round until at least the final 8. She is usually smart, pretty and totally unsuited for reality television. We hope she was at least compensated for her appearance.

  • The Best Friend. This one really thinks the way into The Bachelor's heart is by playing the friend card. She usually alerts him to the fact that SMHG is mean under the pretense of "I would want to know if I were in your shoes." The Bachelor usually responds to this news by saying "thanks, Sweetie" and hugging it out. Then not advancing the BF to the next round and giving the rose to the SHMG.

  • There for the Wrong Reasons Girl. Maybe she has a boyfriend at home. Maybe she's a lesbian. Either way – she's a fame whore who has zero interest in The Bachelor and is using reality TV to launch her career as a model/country singer/infomercial host. I kind of like her style.

  • Everybody Else. The rest look the same. They mostly have names that end in "ee" or have the same name so they have to be referred to by first name and last initial (Candy C and Candy M). If any of the Real Housewives are sent to rehab, any of these girls are ready, willing and able to step in and seamlessly replace them without anyone being the wiser.

Step 5: Showtime. Add all the girls together and watch the drama unfold. We promise, there will be many firsts and certainly "the most dramatic rose ceremony EVER."

Step 6: The Aftermath. The Bachelor and his "choice" are likely not together for "after the final rose." If they are, they are trotted out with Trista & Ryan, Molly & Jason and Ashley & JP. If not, it leaves more time to introduce the new Bachelorette (the most popular and marketable of the jilted finalists) and promo the upcoming season of Bachelor Pad. Because we obviously can't wait to see more of these people and their shenanigans.

I know this, yet I still watch. As a result, my Monday nights, until further notice, belong to the two B's: The Bachelor and Black Box. Cheers!