Me, My First Cavity , & Liberty!

My sister was the queen of sweets growing up. So much so that I didn’t know cereals like Count Chocula and Frankenberry had marshmallows until college (when my sister wasn’t around to help unpack the groceries).

While I thought she was eagerly searching for the prize in every box, she was actually sifting through the cereal to retrieve and hoard all of the marshmallows into a separate ziplock bag for her own private stash.

The upside to her antics was that I spent my first 31 years cavity free, until one day my dentist broke it to me that I need a filling. A filling? OMG. You would’ve thought my world was ending. I was devastated, embarrassed and depressed. And I HATE needles.

I scheduled the appointment for a Friday afternoon so I could leave work half a day to get my filling and relax at home. I knew it was going to be traumatic.

When I arrived at the dentist, they got the ball rolling right away. The assistant came in, talked me off the ledge, shot my mouth full of Novocaine and quickly departed the room.

She kept popping in and out though (apparently to check the Novocaine’s progress), asking me all of these questions as if I was my sister, which was funny because my sister never went to this particular dentist’s office (and I did twice every year for the last fifteen years).

Unfortunately, following a back surgery, my sister spent a year in a wheelchair and later needed a cane to walk. Since my mom (also unfortunately) spent a lot of time at this dentist’s office, she kept the staff updated on my sister’s progress. The assistant (mistaking me for my sister) thought I was recovering well, all considering.

At first, I didn’t correct her and politely nodded my way through her interrogation to get rid of her. I just wanted to sit alone and sulk in silence as I mentally prepared myself for the filling, but she wasn’t giving up. On and on she went asking me all kinds of things about my recovery.

Finally, speech slurred, I let loose that wasn’t me, it was my sister. She apologized and told me she didn’t know my mom had more than one daughter.

Seriously??? Fifteen years And they thought I was my sister the whole time!

After that, things went downhill fast and I got my filling.

I’m not gonna lie. It was as bad as I expected, if only in my head. I left the office in tears, without any feeling in half of my face and traumatized.

I headed home to the apartment I shared with my sister and her little black lab, Liberty, or Libby for short. She doubled as my sister’s best friend and service dog (after the back surgery), and was almost always at her side, opposite the cane.

My big day at the dentist was an exception though and Libby was home alone when I arrived.

So, I took her for a quick stroll around the grounds and headed back to our apartment. I just wanted to get inside and continue feeling bad for myself. But of course, just steps away from our unit, one of our neighbors stopped me.

Being new to the complex, I’d never met him or spoken to ANY neighbors yet.

Face numb, drooling and unable to formulate any recognizable words, this made a fantastic day for introductions!

him: Oh, what’s his name? I see him with your sister, the one with the cane, all the time. Is he her service dog?

me (in my head): Yes, but she’s a her, Liberty.
me (in reality): YETH, buth thees a hoowr, Libootheeeee.

him (with a look of horror): I’m sorry, what was that?

me (in my head): Liberty. HER name is LiBERty!!!
me (in reality, frustrated): Libootheeeee. HOOWR naaaaaaabe ith LIBOOTHEEEEE!!

him (backing up a little): One more time?

me (in my head): Liberty. Like LIBBY for short.
me (in reality): Libootheeeee. Lithe LIBBEEEEE fo shoath!

him (shouting): OH!!! Libby, LIBERTY???

me (in my head): YES, LIBERTY!!!
me (in reality, wiping away the drool and grinning like I scored this round of charades): YETH, LIBOOTHEEEEE!!


him (shouting even louder and slower): OHHHH, DO YOU GUYS SHARE HER???

me (in my head): No. There’s nothing wrong with me?
me (in reality, looking at him like he’s on crack): NO. Theese nubbing wong wid BE?

him (suddenly making a quick exit): OH… OK… NICE… TO… MEET… YOU!! (pausing and thoroughly enunciating every word).

He parted quickly, so Libby and I retreated to the apartment where I felt a lot less bad for myself knowing that my perceived hearing loss and speech impediments were sure to fade by morning.

I’m pretty sure word about the encounter spread around the complex.

For the remainder of our stay, no one ever stopped to talk to either of us directly after that.

People often waved big at my sister (like she couldn’t see them otherwise) and any greetings and salutations that came my way were always slowly shouted at me.

I suspect we were likely referred to as those poor sisters sharing their little service dog, Liberty!

Double-sided Deadbolt Dilemma

Shortly after college, I rented the first floor unit of a beautiful old duplex built in 1920. I loved living there, but one of my biggest pet peeves was that it had these crazy double-sided deadbolts on the front and rear doors that required a key on BOTH sides.

I faced the same odds of having quick departures as I did quick break-ins, virtually none of either.

Maybe if I hadn’t just spent the last few years living off campus, where I never owned a key (because we just left the door wide open for all of our other closest friends and random strangers), I might have transitioned better to keying my way in AND out of this place.

Unfortunately, there was a lengthy adjustment period.

One Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2000, I was running late (as usual), for a family gathering. My mom called to let me know everyone else was already on their way and I needed to hustle to get there on time. I assured her I was just stepping out the door, literally.

I hung up with mom, yanked the kitchen door shut behind me and… whoops, I didn’t have the key to exit the deadbolted door to the duplex. Sigh.

I quickly realized, not only was I missing the deadbolt key, but I didn’t have the kitchen door key either!

Frantic, I scattered the contents of my purse (which was A LOT of contents) all over the hallway floor, convincing myself that I must have grabbed my keys and they were in there somewhere.

They weren’t in there.

So, I scooped all of my belongings back into my purse and ran upstairs to the neighbors, but they weren’t home either.

I was trapped, there in the hallway. I needed a key to get into my apartment, or to get out of the duplex, and I was already running late (as usual).

At least I had my phone. YES, MY (awesome flip) PHONE!

I called mom back, no answer.

I called my sister, no answer.

Back then, cell coverage was spotty and you couldn’t always easily connect like today, no text messages either – I know, right?

Moving on to third tier support, I called my aunt, yay, she answered!

I shared my dilemma, but her and my uncle were almost to the destination (which was another thirty minutes away) and she was nearing a dead zone. She asked if I had any windows open. I told her I did, but I couldn’t get out to climb back in, plus I was way too short to reach, even if I could bust out of the house.

She claimed she had an idea. I should just sit tight (like I had a choice). I didn’t argue, she was already breaking up and I would just have to trust she would send help, maybe my cousin.

About fifteen minutes passed when I heard a car pull up. I looked out the backdoor window and saw an oversized rolly polly man (resembling something like Chris Farley or John Candy’s build) headed my way.

I didn’t recognize him, and I was suddenly a little panicked, this couldn’t be my knight in shining armor here to rescue me.

This had to be someone here to visit my neighbors, or at the wrong house all together (since all the houses in my row looked identical).

At least he couldn’t get in to attack me or anything, thanks to that double-sided deadbolt.

Frozen, I just stood there, staring face to face with this extra round (unkempt) man (who was NOT my cousin), when he came to the door.

He pressed his gigantic face against the glass, cupping his jumbo hands around it so he could shade the sun and get a good look at me, and started shouting, “ARE YOU NICOLE???”

Me (hesitating): Yes?

Him (still shouting): YOUR AUNT SENT ME. I WORK WITH HER.

Whew. My aunt made extra cash delivering pizzas for a nearby Italian restaurant. I could see by the logo on his tomato stained shirt he worked there, too. She must’ve called the restaurant to send reinforcements.


Me: Awesome, THANKS!!

Meanwhile, I’m thinking, seriously???? I’m not sure I have any window wide enough for big boy to crawl through, but if he says so, OK.

Nervous that my next call might be to 911 if this guy got himself lodged in my side window, I stood with my ear to the wall listening for anything that might be cause for alarm.

He headed around the side of the house towards the driveway. I heard a car door (or trunk) whiz open, some shuffling around in it, and then it slammed shut again. This followed by some metal clanking around on the pavement and (extra heavy) footsteps scurrying up what sounded like a very squeaky ladder (all the while I’m thinking please, ladder, don’t give out if that is a ladder).

Immediately after that, there were some muffled booms which sounded like he was trying to hammer the old wooden framed window up as far as it would go, but I was pretty confident he just removed my window all together.

When that stopped, it sounded like he tossed a couch into my dining room (and it bounced a little). In reality, I think he rolled off the window seat onto the floor (and bounced the whole house a little).

At least he was in!

Moments later, I heard what sounded like Frankenstein running towards me, from the other side of the kitchen door, paired with a houseful of leaded glass cabinets, and the contents of them, clinking together in sync with his rapid pace.

He was quick for a big guy.

And, THEN, I heard music to my ears!

He unlocked kitchen door and greeted me there, looking like he just finished a triathlon in record time, which he kinda did.

Hooray, I WAS IN!!!

I didn’t take time to assess any damage while he was there.

I just headed straight for my rainy day fund box, grabbed some wadded up cash, located the exterior key, and graciously thanked him for liberating me, as I (keyed him out and) set him free to his pizza deliveries (with a little extra loot in hand, which could’ve been anywhere from five dollars to fifty for all I knew).

After he left, I put the screen back in the window, wondering just how he made it in WITHOUT removing the whole window.

All I could imagine was him flattening out like something out of a sci-fi movie, squishing himself through the small opening, and becoming (extra) full-sized again on the other side. However he did it, I was grateful.

Thanks to the oversized knight driving a pizza van, I survived my first double-sided deadbolt dilemma and made it to my family function casually late (as usual).

Hold the Whip, Please!

I am a foodie through and through. Cooking and eating are two of my most favorite past times, but lately I’ve been trying to keep a better watch on what I’m eating and commit to being more active.

Yesterday I noticed a little extra wiggle room in my dress pants, so today I tried to squeeze into a pair that didn’t fit me the entire winter, and, wah-lah, they fit!!

(Admittedly, they weren’t as comfy as yesterday’s pants, but I wasn’t uncomfortable either, so, I’ll take it).

Just my luck, today kicked off Starbucks annual Frappuccino Happy Hour. All fraps are half off.

To make matters worse, there’s one “on-campus” at my work.

Of course I indulged.

Between meetings I grabbed a tall java chip frappuccino (light), with whip. (The whip was a last minute add-on though; resistance was futile).

I should mention when I attend meetings, I’m always juggling (at a minimum) a wireless mouse, my laptop, a notebook, a pen and my iPhone.

I never have pockets in my pants, so I just stack everything on top of the laptop like a little jenga puzzle and slowly balance my way from one destination to another.

Add my frap to the mix, and today I was really tempting fate.

High fives to me! I SURVIVED the trip to my 2:00 meeting, so enjoyed sipping the whipped cream for the next half hour, and then headed to my next conference room with all my belongings (and the frap) in tow.

Just as I was exiting, I nearly smacked into the Network Manager on his way into the room I was leaving.

I barely missed him (whew), but my phone slid off the laptop onto the floor, and without thinking, I squatted down to retrieve it (trying not to lose the mouse, notebook, pen or frap, too).

And there it was, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip.

Sounded like a fart, and might’ve been less embarrassing if it was. But, no, it was about six inches of the inseam down my left inner thigh splitting, in slow motion.

I stood up. My ever so porcelain thigh popped out, and the Network Manager walked away, silently.

Friggin’ whipped cream.

There was nothing I could do, really. No time to react, nothing to say, just time for another meeting.

So, I high-tailed it to the next meeting room and contemplated how, tomorrow, I’d have them hold the whip, please.

My Pretty Little Easter Mullet

One of my fondest childhood memories is coloring Easter eggs with my sister and grandpa every year.

My grandpa was a large burly man who spoke with a thick German accent. So thick, I barely understood but every third word he said. And, like it was his uniform, he sported plaid shorts, black dress socks and white canvas boat shoes his entire life.

Grandpa had three passions in life; trains, beer and family. He was there for every special occasion, frothy beer in hand. Coloring eggs was no exception. From the time I can remember, we had an Easter weekend tradition to color eggs with grandpa that lasted long into adulthood, when we ordered the taco pizza and grandpa brought enough beer for the three of us!

Easter of 1983 was one of the most memorable of all years though, at least for me.

Artistic egg options were limited at that time. Limited to just four color tablets in vinegar; making impressive color-free doodles with a clear crayon; or using the coveted glitter egg kit (complete with a swirly glue potion) that lasted for one, maybe two, eggs before the whole package became a lumpy mess and no longer adhered to the eggs.

That year I decided to get extra crafty, and by crafty I mean I got creative and sneaky in my approach.

I had this genius idea that melting birthday candles over my eggs would be easier than using crayon, and more versatile because I could peel off the wax, and double-dip for two-toned designs. Yes, Martha Stewart had nothing on me.

Two beers in, grandpa started nodding off, so I casually strolled over and snagged a lighter and pack of candles from the junk drawer. Just like that. (Back then, candles and lighters were always within reach, we just knew better than to play with them, sorta).

Anyway, I was in super stealth mode. I setup shop behind the bottle of vinegar and roll of paper towels to block any direct view. Grandpa was half asleep, and my sister was too busy with her own eggs to notice me. Armed with my mad decorating skills, a firm vision and an open flame I set my master plan in motion.

I quietly lit the candle and began to drizzle it over the egg. Ah, success! I couldn’t wait to show off my final project. My egg was going to be like the Mona Lisa on loan come Easter morning!

All of a sudden the wax started to liquefy much faster than I expected though. I carefully rotated the egg, but just couldn’t keep up with stream of clear wet wax. I leaned in further and further to steady the flow, but despite my efforts, wax was all over me, all over the table, and all over the floor.

I didn’t even finish my first egg before my sister looked up and said she smelled something burning. (She always was the big mouth). I tried to remain calm, and quickly tossed the lit candle in one of the color bowls. I sniffed around (nose dramatically up in the air) to help confirm her suspicions, and focus her attention upwards instead of down at my mess.

But before I could confirm or deny anything, my sister lunged across the table and started smashing her hands against the top of my head, yelling “YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE! YOUR HAIR IS ON FIRE!” (Drama queen).

I try to shush her, but too late, grandpa jolted up and started hollering, demanding an explanation (or at least I suspected thats what he was shouting).

My sister was all out hysterical screeching and pointing as she gasped, “YOUR HAIR IS FALLING OUT!!!”

Wait, WHAT??????

Horrified, I sprinted off to the bathroom mirror. There, I was greeted by my eyebrow-less reflection, and OMG, as I ran my fingers through my hair, the whole top of my hair disintegrated! And just like that, my lovely locks parted like Moses and the Red Sea.

Oh the horror. How was I going to explain this one? I was so busted. There was no way out. My sister and grandpa were both outside hollering and banging on the bathroom door, demanding answers.

It didn’t end well.

Come Easter, I had one crappy clear waxed egg (while my sister had nine beautifully colored eggs and two glitter masterpieces) and, as you can imagine, I was grounded for life (but so was grandpa since it happened on his shift).

I had to have an emergency fix at the only walk-in salon without a two-hour wait the day before Easter.

While all the other little girls were getting their hair curled and styled, I was getting what was left of my mop converted into an ever so stylish Easter mullet.

Yep, eggtastic designer up front, and eight-year old won’t ever try that again in back.

Nickle Pickle: What’s in a Name?

Although I am a true pickle connoisseur, (my husband even gifted me The Pickle of the Month Club once), I didn’t get my nickname solely from indulging in those crunchy little bites of happiness.

I always thought my nickname, Nickle Pickle, originated from me being a child incapable of sounding out Nicole, and instead running it together as Nickle, but much to my surprise, my mom recently clarified it actually came from my grumpy great grandmother.

Great grandma was a real character. She had one of those scratchy deep smoker voices that sounded more like it was computer generated than human. She was a no nonsense, tell it like it was kind of woman, with a few skeletons in her closet that nearly made it to her grave, but that’s another story!

I loved visiting her for two reasons. She always had those little Brach’s fruit nougats on hand, and she had plant terrariums all over the place, which I found super interesting; snacks and a show.

Mom wasn’t sure if great grandma just couldn’t master spelling Nicole (since she addressed all of greetings cards to me as Nickle), or if she was intentionally poking my mom’s patience, like she often did to everyone in the family.

In any case, if mom couldn’t beat her, she could join her and so I became Nickle Pickle, a name that definitely stuck, and one that certainly became more and more fitting as time went on, thanks to my grumpy great grandmother, no matter what her intentions.

Create your website with
Get started