Monthly Archives: November 2013

Five Surefire Ways Not to Go to Jail on Black Friday

As semi-holidays go, I don’t think there’s one that outranks Black Friday on the catty scale. Now some stores are even bringing us that joy a day early. Threats and taunts. Verbal spats. Jerry Springer worthy catfights. Every year, there’s at least one claw bearing clip on the news the next morning.


Between the greed driven competition for more stuff and the likelihood that some people you’re shopping with have been camping out for it since last Friday, the chance of encountering some general nastiness before you get to the counter is almost guaranteed. Who wants to go to jail for a good price on Pokemon cards? That’s why I’ve avoided it like the plague for years.

Until the last couple, that is. The good deals for my kids’ Christmas goodies finally drew this struggling writer out of the bomb shelter. Last year, it was a kitchen set for my daughter. Fifty bucks! Who can beat that? The sprinkling of police officers throughout the store told me the answer to that with one twitchy glance. As I passed by groups of virtually growling parents gathered around shrink wrapped mounds of merchandise, the hackles rose.

courtesy of

courtesy of

I stepped up to the grouping of kitchen sets with the other cued in shoppers, eyeballing each other and the clock for the hour the store manager would release the cookers for purchase. It was chaos when ten o’ clock came: Buggies slamming into each other, people pushing and snatching and f-bombs flying. I slunk into the pack and rescued a kitchen, only to have a woman try to jerk it from my cart. I don’t remember saying anything, but my eyes must have screamed that she might not see Santa that year if she didn’t put it back. Christmas was saved without a trip to the slammer that night, and I had just about simmered down by the time I got home. A holiday miracle!

But not all of us are so lucky. If you’re thinking of facing that jungle tonight for those shiny boxes and stocking stuffers, here are a few tips to make your hunt for cheap presents a less chancy experience.

1.)    Bring a battle buddy. Not even expertly trained and armed soldiers walk into a hostile situation alone. Take along a trusted friend or family member to have your back in case things get crazy, and I don’t mean “taking it outside” crazy. They can help keep your place in line if you have to go back to the car, help navigate the maze to get items you’re wanting and even push an extra buggy if you’re doing all your holiday shopping in one night. Just in case, though, avoid bringing a gang of girlfriends for the outing. Too much backup can be a bad influence when someone tries to yank a kitchen out of your cart.

2.)    Lay off the No Doze. Staying awake for an all-night buying spree is a good thing, but getting so hopped up on caffeine that you vibrate before you get on the road probably isn’t. I preach moderation; not abstinence. Overloading on coffee and energy drinks sounds like good preparation for overreacting when shoppers who are pissed they had to stand in line for 3 hours to get in a store get snarky.

3.)    Plan your attack in comfortable shoes. You know the drill. Study the sales flyers and map out your route if you have more than one stop. Most stores give you a map of where sales items are located when you walk in the door. Just don’t lose your cool if Plan B turns into shoving your way through a labyrinth of racks and end caps when the scouted path is nothing but traffic jam. Breathe. Count to fifty. Then remember that your family wants to see your smiling face at the breakfast table instead of in a mug shot.

4.)    Never forget Plan C. Practice saying all your favorite swear words in a classy tone of voice with a plastered on smile, and bring a little extra cash for bail money just in case. You never know when the cat inside may have had too much of playing mouse for the year. Think of it as Santa’s unspeakable present to make up for the coal and switches later.


5.)    When in doubt, abstain. If the temptation to waylay on some self-righteous kitchen snatcher may be too much this season, take the high road. Have some more turkey and plead tryptophan poisoning when you sleep through the midnight madness sales or say you’re boycotting all the commercialized materialism the media “forces” upon us.

Whatever. Just enjoy your holiday and be thankful for all those everyday blessings whether you’re shopping tonight or not.

Happy Black Friday (or Gray Thursday) !



Reader Submission: Hormonal for the Holidays

Overly Sensitive writes:
In my current situation, I would classify myself as the mouse, but with the upcoming holidays approaching, I’m sure I can easily become the cat! Let me explain…. I often try to let things go. With saying that, I am also a woman, and tend to hold a grudge. I did say “try”!
I recently had our third addition to the family, a beautiful baby girl! Here is where the problem is…my sister-in-law has not contacted me one time since I have had the baby! Not a visit, call, card, or even a text! Not a big deal, right?! Our girl was born in September!! Wait, I did receive one text 3 days after our baby was born, our first day home from the hospital, it was a picture of her daughter and a boy going to a school dance. I replied how pretty she looked, then never got a response. When our baby turned 7 weeks old, I contacted my sister-in-law to let her know how hurt I was. She said she was not proud of herself, but has been too busy. Really?!
Did I mention that we have been family for over 15 years now and she only lives an hour and a half our house? Am I over reacting, or is this how families are? And how do I get through the upcoming holidays, when we will be forced to see each other, without displaying my hurt and/or catty tendencies?

Maybe it’s not about the baby?

Well, Overly Sensitive…
To answer your questions: yes. This is how some families are and yes, you might be over reacting just a little. But you did just have a baby. You said you were overly sensitive, and hey we get it. Hormones are evil, evil things — you let things go but you tend to hold grudges… sounds about right to us. But to address the bigger issue of how to get through the holidays without staying hidden under the bed or lunging – claws out – for your SIL like a threatened feral mama cat, we do have a few insights to offer you.


1. First and foremost: Great job being honest and telling your SIL that your feelings were hurt. Passive aggressive is definitely the wrong way to go, and you seem to be comfortable being upfront with her about how she has made you feel. This is good. Especially if you arrive to the family Thanksgiving and feel like the distance between you is growing even larger.


2. The AIBC Team tossed around the idea that some of us are just better at juggling and acknowledging life events, both those of others and our own. In our catty circle, we range from having the time to say goodmorning to each other every single day to barely finding a minute once a week to make sure the rest of the crew is still breathing. Are you measuring your SIL against yourself? She might not be as well versed at time management, or she might not be as good as you are at expressing/communicating her feelings.


3. Or there is the possibility that she could be jealous. You have baby number three, and it sounds like her kids might be teens. Maybe she is dreading the attention that you and baby girl will draw at the family festivities. Maybe she is a seasoned member of the AMA Club (advanced maternal age) and she currently finds herself pining for another bundle of joy that she realistically cannot have.


4. And that leads us to our next point. The two of you have been family for 15 years. Does your SIL normally acknowledge big life events with flourish (gift boxes and ponies) or is she usually more low key (email or Facebook message)? We all agreed that her behavior warrants more of your concern if this is out of the ordinary. Something more could be going on.


5. Which leads us to say that we completely understand why your feelings were hurt (no one likes to feel forgotten), but you have already talked to your SIL and whether or not you are happy with her reasons for not calling or visiting, she did admit that she was not proud of how she had handled the situation. It might just be time for you to let go of the insult because you will only be hurting yourself if you hold a grudge.



OS, only you can control how you act toward your SIL during the holidays. If you are still feeling a little hurt then you should absolutely take her aside and have another chat. Face-to-face communication gives you the chance to read her body language. Get all Crucial Conversations on her, and start out by letting her know that something is weighing on you and you want to clear the air. Tell her again that your feelings were hurt, but stress that you have been wondering if there could be more going on that you have been missing. If it isn’t like her to barely acknowledge that she has a new neice, you will be encouraging her to open up by showing concern for her and what is going on in her life. It will start things out on a more comfortable note and give her the opportunity to explain why she has been so busy. There is a pretty good chance she has a reason for not being proud of how she has behaved. Maybe you will learn there are things going on in her family/work/home life that have prevented her from being the type of family member that you wanted/needed her to be the past few months. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. You may both get a huge return on the investment. But there is always the possibility that you may not get anything more from her than you did the first time you talked. You have to be prepared to accept that and know that you tried. You will enjoy the family holiday a whole lot more if you can make peace with yourself and treat your SIL the way that you want to be treated. That’s really all you can do. Let us know how everything goes.
Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck!
The AIBC Team

A Thanksgiving Day Emergency: What to pack in your dysfunctional holiday survival kit


In just a few short hours, we will all be sitting down for one of the most anticipated meals of the year. For some of you, Thanksgiving Day is a lovely holiday spent with your extended family laughing, loving and catching up on old times. You may disregard this post. For the remainder of you,  it makes for a long day of emotional endurance and torturous family time/drama.

Something about this time of year somehow brings out the crazy in just about everybody. Add a bit of alcohol, awkward conversation, and close quarters and voila, we have the makings of another Grioswold-like Thanksgiving. And because we cannot transform our family members into “The Cleavers,” I have decided that when the going gets tough and the family gets out of control, it may just be time to join in on the crazy!! When I say join in, I simply mean learn to actually take it all in, swallow your pride and hurt feelings, and laugh (at them).

In the spirit of giving, I am going to share what I have learned while enduring my own brand of holiday-induced family craziness.  I am grateful for the invention of all of the following items, and you too can use them to help you endure/enjoy the pain/bonding time.  Just tap into one when you are on the brink of breaking into a familial rage.

The Thanksgiving Day Family Survival Kit:

  1. The Largest Bottle of Whiskey/Wine/Alcoholic Beverage of Choice– As a rule of thumb  I never attend any family gathering without packing a cooler full of alcohol. If you must tolerate these imposters that call themselves family, then drinking through it may be the best option. Keep in mind, there are a slew of drinking games that can be created from this one option. Chug your beer every time Uncle Eddie passes gas, someone loses the coveted recliner or the word “Pilgrim” is used. You get the idea.
  2. Xanax-To help you cope with the anxiety of the fifty inappropriate questions Aunt Mildred will ask you about your sex life, period, reproductive organs, marriage, divorce, new date/significant other, etc.
  3. Dysfunctional Family Bingo– If you cannot beat ’em, join ’em and at least be entertained in the process. Engage in Thanksgiving Bingo. As a reminder, if you choose to play, you are doing so at your own risk. Remember game playing may spark old war scars from when you never let Cousin Sally win a game of Candyland when you both were 5.
  4. Index Cards– These may come in handy to draw pictures of the first relative to fall asleep or maybe even serve as  flash cards to save your spouse when he/she can’t remember Aunt Wynoka’s name ” Y – NO -kuh.”
  5. Mobile Devices and Accompanying Chargers– This may be the only time I would say this is permissable, but it may come in handy to disengage when the brawl breaks out over whose dessert is better,  Aunt Mildred’s Pumpkin Pie or Grammy’s Sweet Potato Pie. It may also come in handy to make those emergency phone calls/texts to let off some steam after the 4th time Aunt Sue asks you about the extra pounds you have packed on or you may even get some excitement out of taking blackmail photos/videos when one of the drunkards gets out of line. (This comes with a triple dog dare to post said Blackmail pictures/videos to Facebook, Instagram, Vine or even Youtube.)
  6. A Neutral Party Guest/Savior– Bringing this individual (or at least having him/her on stand-by to save you) could help entertain you while serving a dual purpose other than saving your ass. He/She will hopefully make the other members of your family be on their best behavior in front of your “guest.”
  7. Ibuprofen– To remedy the headache that will ensue, whether from too much anxiety, exhaustion, loud-mouthed relatives or booze. This may be the most critical part of the Survival Kit.
  8. A Good Appetite– When all else fails, just eat. Focus your attention on the bounty before you. Surely, one of two things will happen: a) you will be saved from saying what you shouldn’t  because you have food in your mouth , or b) you will be in a food coma and will sleep right through the drama.


I am sure you will be thanking me later for these ideas to get you prepped and ready to take on whatever may come your way this Thanksgiving. You are very welcome. Happy Freaking Turkey Day and may the force be with you!


AIBC Team Member

What’s your ideal Thanksgiving scenario?

As much as you may want to run and hide… there is no more putting it off.   Ready or not, Thanksgiving is this week.  It is time for plans to be finalized.

Funny Thanksgiving Ecard: This year, I'm secretly stuffing the turkey with Prozac . . . so we can finally have a stress-free holiday!

All of us here at AIBC have been discussing what we will be doing for the holidays.  The myriad of events range from cooking an extravagant dinner at home with no extra guests invited, to traveling across multiple state lines for a meal with family only to turn around and make the return trip the next day, to a rag-tag group of friends and neighbors gathered around a table with beer and board games.

So we want to know:  What is your favorite way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?  (Participate in our poll below.)

And if you end up having a catty encounter during the holiday weekend while you endure racist dinner conversation and a Black Friday shopping beatdown — please send us your stories!  We would love to feature your holiday nightmare for the entertainment of our other readers.

Happy Thanksgiving from ‘ZenKitty2’ and the AIBC Team!


Anyone Can Do That! Or not…

It was recently reported by TMZ that Tom Cruise compared shooting a movie overseas to serving in Afghanistan, a comparison that is ridiculous at best and incredibly insulting at worst. I mean c’mon, what kind of jerk likens making a movie to fighting in a war zone? Luckily, TMZ’s claim was totally false. Still, it made me think of those comments we’ve all heard at one time or another that, purposefully or not, minimize our professions and make the other person sound like an idiot.

Would you say to a doctor that you could totally perform that surgery because you had to pull a splinter out of Little Johnny’s hand?
Then why would you imply to your professional actor friend, who has studied for years and perhaps has multiple degrees in the subject, that you totally get what it takes to perform a great role because you were in a play in high school? Well, now I’ll bet she wishes she hadn’t wasted all that time and money in college studying “the craft” since she could’ve learned everything she’d ever need to know from a few high school plays. Gee, that’s not insulting at all!

Would you describe Benjamin Franklin, who (among multitudes of other things) discovered electricity, as “that guy with a key”?
Then maybe you should actually listen when your friend tells you that her job is to test your blood to help your doctor find out why you’re feeling sick before you say, “So, you draw the blood, huh?” For the record that’s a phlebotomist. Totally different jobs with totally different education and training requirements, dude — and you just demoted your friend.


Not a phlebotomist. Also not CSI.

While we’re at it, you should just stop before you say to the stay at home mom, “I would kill to be able to get my house clean and not have to work, too.” I know a few SAHMs, and while I occasionally get jealous that they don’t have to deal with inter-office politics, their job would have me huddled in the corner with a blanky crying for my mommy!

One SAHM I know decided to start wearing a pedometer, but she didn’t expect to see much as far as results. Well, she soon found out that between trying to keep two preschoolers from burning down a two-story house, racing to clean up before those two little tornados could destroy the place again, running errands, planning meals, putting Barbie’s head back on, and fixing the toilet, she was easily blowing those coveted 10,000 steps out of the water every day! Also, this is the SAHM’s full-time job. She doesn’t get weekends off. She doesn’t get vacation. She doesn’t get sick days. She’s lucky if she can get enough personal time to use the bathroom uninterrupted.


We’ve all heard them. We’ve all said them. They’re those well-intentioned comments that are said in the spirit of trying to relate to another human being that end up unintentionally insulting the other person and making you sound like an ass. Instead, realize that you may not know as much as you think about that person’s job. If you want to relate through your own experience, keep in mind that you may have far less experience than s/he does. Instead if making assumptions, ask questions and listen to the answers — “So how did you get into this line of work?” or “What’s your favorite part of doing that job?” It can help to get to know that person better, further the conversation naturally, and save you from an awkward situation!


Tom Catt’s Perusing for No Bruisin’ from Wifey

All Hail the Catty Queens!

Long time reader, first time writer here, and I want to say you make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me spit on my screen in rage! So here’s my issue, I travel often for work.  As of last count I’ve been away from my wife and child for about 1/5th of the year (between 60-70 days so far, with another 10-15 to go probably). So here’s the issue, how do you handle the going and coming transition?  With Mom taking up so many of the duties (homework, bath time, etc.) how does Dad (me) handle that when in town, especially when Mom has trouble letting go?  It’s not fair to me or my wife having issues coming and going.  She is cheating herself of time when she won’t let me help our child do homework or get ready for bed.  And I lose some of the precious hours I would otherwise get because she doesn’t want to let me do for the child. What’s the compromise?  How can we survive?  How can we transition in such a way that we are both happy?

Thanks for your thoughts, catty and constructive, Tom Catt


Dearest Tom Catt,

First and foremost, you have no idea how happy it makes the AIBC team to hear you say we make you laugh, cry, and spit on your screen in rage.  We are pretty sure more rewarding words have never been spoken. <grin>

First, it is important to point out your acknowledgement that this situation isn’t working for your family is the first step!  Now, let’s hash out some possible reasons WHY this issue is occurring:

1) One possible explanation is that the world’s best wife (see what we did there?) may be trying to be efficient with your time at home by letting you have some down time since you have to take on the burden of being gone from the family.  (However, many of us being mothers and wives, ourselves, we find this unlikely)

2) Additionally, the types of jobs that require lots of travel typically compensate one financially for being away from his/her family a lot.  Is there a chance you are the bread winner and mommy dearest is trying to make up the difference (read balance out her insecurities and justify her purpose) with chores/deeds?  Some of the AIBC team members have experienced these exact feelings!

3) Lastly, this may be a control issue. If Wife Supreme sees what is best because she is around 100% of the time then you need to respect her as a parenting SME (corporate jargon for Subject Matter Expert). She has done that rodeo before and knows what works. There is a chance you may be coming in and unintentionally planting flags, trying to justify your parenting existence at the detriment to everyone’s sanity. THAT BEING SAID, you can likely come in and offer a new perspective that is valuable because we humans are known for getting stuck in ruts and never seeing a better way as a result.

Please note that the three reasons listed above are intended to get your brain gear a-turning, and your situation may not fall under any of these reasons specifically.

So, now that we’ve discussed the potential WHYs, let’s discuss possible next steps:

1)  This all falls back on communication or lack thereof.  We suggest talking t her during a scheduled date night to express your desire to help.
A: You must communicate to her that you want to help
B: You must communicate to her how it makes you feel that she won’t let you help (this can potentially be taken as a stab at your parenting/homework/housework abilities)
C: She must communicate to you why she won’t let you help (is it because of a reason we mentioned or some other reason?)

2)  We think the two of you should sit down together and make a list of things that need to be done daily, weekly, and monthly.  Cliché?  Yes, but honestly it is cliché because it works!  Make a list of the things you would like to take over when you are at home.   Both of you should agree on what and how things should be done (i.e. homework first, 20 minutes of a game or reading, any chores, etc…)  Have an agreement on the front end about expectations and what will happen if they aren’t met.  You take equal responsibility for holding your partner accountable!  For example:  When both parents are in town, Dad cooks dinner and Mom will do the laundry.  Whatever works for the pair, but if Dad drops the dinner duty, well . . .  let’s just say Mom probably has a few aces up her sleeve if Dad’s uncooperative.

3)  The thing is, if you say you want to help out then step up and start helping!   There is nothing sexier than a man that sees dirty clothes on the floor, scratches his head in wonderment musing to himself about why they’d be on the floor instead of in a hamper!

This could be an amazing way for Mom to get some down time when Dad IS in town and helping out.  Encourage her to attend a movie with a girlfriend, shop for herself, or have a glass of wine in the bathtub.   She probably just struggles letting go a little when she’s “on duty” so much of the time.

We can almost guarantee that any man will ALWAYS be able to speak to his wife about wanting to “step up” and take on more house and dad duties. That is the shit we women WISH romance novels were made of.

So, good luck, Tom.  We admire your industry in reaching out to us as the opposite of a Dead-Beat Dad. We’re willing to bet your wife is pretty lucky to have you.

If you think we’ve hit the nail on the head with our response, feel free to have her read it. We’ll happily say it for you, but I can almost guess it will be much better delivered straight from your mouth complete with a box of chocolates, red wine, a spa day, and a dozen red roses.  What?  Too much?

Now please get to work,

The Am I Being Catty Team

Regifting Dos and Don’ts

As the holidays approach, let’s have a discussion in “regifting.”

We’ve all been guilty of buying thoughtless or obligatory gifts. And I would say that many of us have regifted those thoughtless or obligatory gifts. I can say with certainty that I’ve been given those gifts over the years.

I’m not saying that regifting is bad. It’s OK to regift if it’s done with style, thoughtfulness and consideration.

Be green. Regift.

Be green. Regift.

Regifting a good bottle of wine you’ll never drink is acceptable. Hell, regifting a good bottle of wine you would drink and feel confident the recipient will share with you is an even better plan… and quite deviously brilliant.

My mother regifting me her wedding china that has been housed in the garage for more than a decade after a broken marriage is quite thrifty and beneficial for both of us!

Embroidered napkins are also nice, although I may find it highly convenient that our last names start with the same letter.

Anything that involves alcohol, hunting gear and footwear … not a good regift unless they already have a collection of oddball wine racks.


One holiday season, my dad offered me a nice jacket. It was a little big, but it was made by a reputable company I was familiar with, was comfortable and warm. I said “Thanks, Dad!”

He fessed up and said that his dad, my grandfather, had given it to him and he didn’t really want it. “Oh, well, that’s OK.” Except that his brother had given my grandfather the coat. I was the fourth owner in his coat shuffle and now it seemed that I had a coat no one wanted. Granted, I was an awkward 14-year-old girl who probably shouldn’t have been wearing an oversized coat that was purchased for an 80-year-old man, but what did I know? I have no idea where that coat is now, but I treasure the story… even more so that my dad admitted to everything while regifting.

Here are a few re-gifting rules that may help ease you into the holiday season:

  1. Do not regift the gift to the original gifter. If you must, at least use new wrapping paper. If you’re not a huge fan of the original gifter, feel free to present the gift while standing on a chair … tap your spoon to your wine glass first and make sure you have everyone’s attention.
  2. Do not regift the gift to another person in front of the original gifter. If you must, again, at least use new wrapping paper. And if you’re still busted, exclaim that you loved your purple burlap polka-dotted door ornament so much, you decided to make it your go-to gift, too.
  3. If it’s a personalized gift, it’s best to come clean. Although you may think your motives are inconspicuous,  gifting etched glass beer steins to your fifteen-year-old cousin who just happens to share your monogram is a red flag to other family members.
  4. If your grandmother finds out you regifted her homemade peach jelly, you’re on your own. Same goes for the crocheted socks.
  5. Make sure the regift matches the occasion and/or the recipient. I’ve been given Halloween dish towels at Christmas. Yes, they were special. Yes, I knew they had been regifted. And yes, I couldn’t wait 10 months to use them. Perfect regift.
  6. Let’s be honest: Halloween candy is OK to regift in Christmas holiday “goody bags” as long as there are no black cats, jack-o-lanterns or candy corn on the wrapper. Don’t laugh – what else are we suppose to do with that stash?
  7. When all else fails, ask for a gift receipt. Take it back to the store. Get a gift card. Gift the gift card. Voila! Who doesn’t love a $13.46 gift card to Target or the Pickled Pineapple Boutique?

Let’s face it. Some gifts are purchased with no thought of the receiver. We all do it. It’s easy to do in a pinch. Those are the best gifts to regift, especially to people you don’t know well enough to buy a thoughtful gift or you just don’t have time. Other times, it’s just not a right fit.

If you find yourself receiving a thoughtless gift, go ahead and plan a fun get-together to openly regift those thoughtless presents you’ve received and encourage your guests to do the same. Those white elephant gift parties are hilarious fun, especially when someone opens that “redneck wind chime” you received for your birthday as a legitimate gift… just be sure not to invite the original gifter.


Still not sure if you can re-gift that sweater or not?  Try using this handy infographic from