The Woman Who Is Always Tan And Has a Flat Stomach

And Other Annoying People


By Lauren Allison

By Lisa Perry

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In this laugh-out-loud compendium, Lauren Allison and Lisa Perry take on soccer moms, video dads, rabid gardeners, and grating couples in a collection of short, punchy essays.

You know that overprotective PTA mom who needs to be resuscitated after she finds out you fed her son a hotdog? Or that couple who sends out the annual holiday letter about how their little Timmy came up with an alternative to fossil fuels while you're proud of simply replacing the lint catcher in your dryer once a year? 

Less-than-perfect moms and dads everywhere will be sure to relate to the authors' portraits of the most annoying people around!



We would like to thank our editor, Emily Griffin, for her dedication, professionalism, and enthusiasm for our book. We are very fortunate to have an agent, David Forrer, who has a ready mix of good judgment and great sense of humor; he and the staff at Inkwell Management have been invaluable to us throughout the process of publishing The Woman Who Is Always Tan. We would also like to thank our "perfect" friends out there who let us write about them; you know who you are. Without you, our self-esteem would never have plummeted and we never would have written about our many inadequacies. And we would like to thank our families, who have been supportive throughout it all.


The Perfect Brownie Leader Who Uses Global Positioning Satellites on the Camping Trip to E-mail Photos to the Parents

I always find perfect people to be annoying, but the Perfect Brownie Leader is probably at the top of my list. The first year my daughter Caroline was in Brownies I was happy to be the troop leader. Granted, we did nothing too creative, nor did we do anything suggested in the manual. Mainly, we hung out at Dairy Queen.

But the next year, I was asked to merge my troop with another troop. I invited the other Brownie leader over for tea and she got right down to business. "What's been your troop motto, Lauren?" The Perfect Brownie Leader had an entire checklist to go through.

I said with pride, "Our troop motto is 'You can marry more money in one minute than you can make in a lifetime.' "

The Perfect Brownie Leader looked horrified. She said, "Well, our motto is 'Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.' "

I slumped down in my chair. I thought I'd change the subject so I asked, "What day of the week shall we meet?"

She said, "Mondays won't work, because I'm involved with the United Nations Middle East peace talks every Monday."

I couldn't believe how much fun I was having.

She continued, "What uniforms have you been wearing? We should all try to be the same."

"Gosh!" I stammered. "My girls felt that an enforced uniform rule might stifle our creativity." I didn't mention that I had lost the order form.

"No problem. I'll convince your girls to wear the regulation uniforms. Okay, next." She was busy writing notes. "What have you planned for your first indoor project this year?"

I brightened at this. "We do have that much worked out. We want to make Christmas wreaths out of egg cartons."

"But Christmas is four months away." The Perfect Brownie Leader had some point to make. "It's only the end of August."

"It typically takes us about that long to finish a project," I replied weakly.

"Our Christmas project is to go to my home ceramics studio, throw platters on the potter's wheel, decorate and fire them. That can all be done in December."

"Wow, that sounds great. We can do the egg cartons another season."

Ignoring my comment, she glanced at her list again. "What cultural events do you have planned?"

"That's easy," I said. "Last year we went to Skate Town Roller Rink. They have the greatest cotton candy there—the blue stuff—and a little write-up on the concrete wall by the concession stand about how cotton candy was invented. It's very interesting."

She looked as if she was trying to comprehend what I'd just said. Finally, she said, "I see." She cleared her throat. "I've arranged for a private tour and reception at the City Art Museum."

"A private tour! How did you manage that?"

"Oh," the Perfect Brownie Leader remarked, making an attempt at modesty. "I have a couple of my latest paintings there on loan. I'm into postmodern non-subjective oils, using a palette-knife technique."

"Fine," I said with a sigh. I decided to just throw in the towel.

The weekend of our first big camping trip arrived. For the first time, I got to meet the Perfect Brownie Leader's husband, who was wearing camouflage fatigues. She said, "He's an ex–Navy SEAL, so he was even able to teach me a few things. For our honeymoon, we went on an Outward Bound survival experience in the Canadian tundra."

I went numb. They had gone on an Outward Bound survival experience in the Canadian tundra for their honeymoon? Oh, great, I thought, I'm going to have to find a way out of here. Perhaps I could say I was coming down with West Nile virus; surely I could use one of the mosquito bites I had gotten in the past hour to my advantage.

My thoughts were interrupted by the Perfect Brownie Leader saying, "Everyone line up for a group picture."

Just that morning I'd found the cheap disposable camera I'd lost last spring. "Let's finish this roll," I said to the girls. "I think our last Skate Town outing is on here."

The Perfect Brownie Leader pulled out her digital camera. After taking a dozen shots, she hooked up her laptop computer to her all-terrain Jeep battery. Then, using GPS technology, she sent the pictures to the girls' parents. Finally, she took my film, rolled down shades in the back of her Jeep, and processed my pictures.

Even the blue from the cotton candy at Skate Town came out brilliantly.

I must admit, the day passed pleasantly enough. We had nature hikes and sing-alongs. By mid-afternoon the girls were referring to poison ivy and poison oak by their Latin names. During the songfest, the Perfect Brownie Leader played the electric keyboard she had hooked up to the Jeep battery while her husband played the banjo and harmonica simultaneously.

A wonderful dinner cooked by the Perfect Brownie Leader's husband followed. He served filet mignon, roasted potatoes with sour cream and chives, and a chocolate soufflé done right over the campfire. Then an incredible piece of luck happened. One of the little campers felt sick and wanted to go home. Desperately I tried to get up on my feet so I could volunteer to take her home (this took several tries because of the way the dinner weighed me down).

The Perfect Brownie Leader was concern itself. Did I really not mind giving up the rest of the weekend? It seemed to be taken for granted I wasn't returning. How lucky I hadn't bothered to unpack.


The Nutrition Mom Who Needs to Be Resuscitated After Finding Out You Fed Her Child a Hot Dog

Nutrition Moms can be annoying; however, if the truth be told, I am quite sure that I am more annoying to them than vice versa. One day a mom asked if I'd like to have lunch with her. Little did I know that she was actually a Nutrition Mom. After we were seated at the restaurant, I ordered a diet soda and watched her pupils dilate to the size of nine-grain bagels.

I asked, "What's wrong?"

"You're not going to actually drink that, are you?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Oh, it's just a little thing called saccharin, which causes mice to roll over on their backs with their little feet in the air as they gasp their last breath."

She then ordered a boneless, skinless chicken breast, asparagus, and a salad with no dressing.

I ordered a double bacon-wrapped bratwurst with extra cheese on a white bun with supersize fries. The waiter asked, "Would you like a salad?"

"What's in it?"

"Organic collard greens, red chard, arugula, and red leaf lettuce with a low-fat dressing made with heart-healthy canola oil."

"Nah. I'll just have some iceberg lettuce with extra Thousand Island dressing."

The Nutrition Mom gagged, and the waiter left smiling.

The Nutrition Mom asked me what I'd been doing lately.

I thought a minute. "Well, on Friday night we went to a restaurant whose specialty is charred ham fat and it was delicious. Then on Saturday night we stayed home and my husband grilled one-pound steaks for each of us, with seven-cheese au gratin potatoes, corn pudding, rice pudding, and chocolate pudding for dessert. Afterward, we ate Cool Whip right out of the carton. It comes in chocolate flavor now. What have you been doing?"

She looked as if she was trying to process what I'd just said. Finally she rallied. "I went to the opening of the new Health Foods last week. It's so refreshing to shop somewhere where you know that everything is organic."

My mind drifted off to the three-pound package of butterscotch cookies I'd just bought at Sam's Club. They were still in the car, unfortunately.

When our waiter arrived with our salads, I leaned over and looked at her. "Which is the arugula? I don't think I've ever had that."

The Nutrition Mom pointed it out with her fork.

I said, "Just this morning I noticed the same stuff growing by my front sidewalk. I hit it with Roundup."

I asked if she had tried any new recipes lately. She said that her sister had just given her a great tofu steak recipe with a vegetarian barbecue sauce.

I brightened. "I just tried something new, too. I used pork fat to make beef fondue. It was fabulous. You'd be surprised how much flavor pork fat adds to chuck beef if you don't cook it too long."

She closed her eyes tightly and didn't open them again for quite a few seconds.

Our food arrived. To her dismay, the chicken breast had been cooked with the skin on. "Oh, dear," she sighed, "they always forget to remove the skin."

"No problem, I'll eat it. That's the only part of the chicken I ever eat anyway." She passed it over.

She said, "By the way, next week I'll be out of town at the Mother's March on Washington for the Elimination of Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils."

"Cool." I was impressed. "What's partially hydrogenated vegetable oil?"

"It happens to be one of the worst things you can eat. It's in all kinds of crackers, cookies, cakes, frostings, candy, even pancake mix."

"Good for you. How great to stand up for something you really believe in."

"Yes," she said. "It'd be wonderful to get companies to eliminate hydrogenated vegetable oils. Actually, in terms of fat, butter is better for you."

Surprised, I exclaimed, "Butter is better for you?" Now she was talking about something I could really endorse.

"Much better," she assured me.

"Great. I eat it straight sometimes. I just love butter."

"Then you should go with me to Washington. We need one more person to hold up a sign."

"What would my sign say?" I asked. "Would it have anything to do with butter?"

"As a matter of fact, it would. We need someone to hold the sign that says, GET OFF YOUR LARD ASS AND EAT BUTTER. Would you be interested?"

I smiled. "That sign has my name written all over it."


The Husband Who Takes It Personally When Someone Steals His Luggage and Then Returns It Without Taking Anything

My husband Michael and I recently stayed at a hotel in Miami but, to our dismay, while checking in, we found that one of our bags was missing. After examining our remaining bags, we realized that it was the one containing Michael's clothes.

We told the concierge, Armand, who immediately notified hotel security.

We went up to our room. As we began to unpack our bags, Armand knocked at our door and said that security had found our missing bag. He wanted Michael to check to make sure everything was there.

I said, "Check to see if that new cashmere sweater I just bought you is in there."

"It's here."

"How about all your shirts?"

"Yes," he replied, a little tersely.

"What about that new jacket?"

He stated indignantly, "They didn't take anything."

"Michael, why do you sound so upset?"

"I'm beginning to get the picture here."

Armand and I both looked at him, wondering what he meant.

"It means that my clothes just aren't good enough for the crook who took my bag."

We looked at him in disbelief.

He went on, "It means that my clothes weren't up to his standards."

"Mr. Perry, it doesn't have to mean that at all," Armand said, trying to placate him. "Maybe your clothes weren't his size."

"A large sweater would fit most people. So don't tell me that."

I said, "You don't have to take this so personally."

"How would you feel if your clothes weren't good enough for some thief? I don't see how you wouldn't take it personally."

I said, "No one stole anything from you. This is good."

"Well, my things are just as good as anyone else's. My clothes have been cast aside as inferior by some fashion-conscious crook."

Armand said, "Excuse me, but it's possible that you're right. Now let me ask you this, Mr. Perry: have you ever had your color wheel done? You know, where you have a professional skin and makeup artist determine what colors you should wear according to your skin tones? Maybe the colors on your color wheel and the colors on the color wheel of the thief are different from one another."

Michael pulled me aside and said in a hushed voice, "What is he talking about?"

I whispered back. "He just said that maybe the thief didn't like the color of your clothes."

Armand said, "You know, according to your skin tones, you should be wearing warm colors—like peaches and golds and rich browns. What are the colors of your clothes?"

"Blues, grays, and blacks," Michael said defensively.

"Then it's possible the thief singled you out because of your skin tones. Then, when he opened your suitcase, he found colors completely different on the color wheel from what he expected. So he decided to return your clothes."

"What is this wheel you keep talking about?" Michael asked.

"Here, Mr. Perry, I'll show you my color wheel," he said, taking it out of his suit pocket. "Here are my colors—which are considered cool colors, in the blue family, especially. See how when I hold this up to my face it complements my skin tones? But now when I hold this color up to your face, it doesn't really do much for you. Here, come and look in the mirror."

Michael looked in the mirror. "I see what you mean. It makes me look terrible." He sounded shocked.

"When I hold up fabric that's warmer, like this dark peach towel, for instance, it brings out that natural glow you have."

Excitedly, Michael said, "It really does."

"If you'd like, Mr. Perry, I know a personal color consultant, Sergio. I could arrange for him to meet with you to do your colors for you."

"That'd be great. I've been thinking that my clothes really don't do much for me. You could set it up for me to meet with him?"

"I'd be happy to, Mr. Perry."

"How soon could you do it?"

"I'll go call him right now."

Armand left.

After the door closed I said in disbelief, "Let me get this right. You, the man who wore a gray shirt, brown pants, black shoes, and blue socks to our engagement dinner, are going to have a personal color consultation with some guy named Sergio?"

"Why not?"

"It's just never been your style before now. I've picked out most of your clothes since we've been married. I always thought they looked good on you."

"Honey," Michael asked, "why do you always have to take everything so personally?"


The Mom Who Made a Scrapbook So Large She Could Only Get It Downstairs by Hiring Professional Piano Movers

One day over coffee at Starbucks, one of the moms said, "Well, I finished archiving my latest memory book on my youngest child's first Happy Meal at McDonald's." A murmur of admiration rose from the table.

I innocently asked, "What are you talking about?"

They all looked shocked.

I said, "What's wrong?"

The mom I knew the best said, "Archiving a memory book. You know—scrapbooking—where you take your photos and dress them up by putting buttons, cutouts of leaves, and all kinds of fun things on pages to commemorate a special event."

I said, "I know, but what does that have to do with a Happy Meal at McDonald's?"

They all looked at the floor. I retorted, "What?"

Another mom explained, "Well, a child's first Happy Meal is a very special event."

I said, "Yes, but only to the heirs of Ray Kroc, the guy who started McDonald's."

Another mom said boldly, "Do you mean to say that you don't have at least one scrapbook page detailing Caroline's first trip to McDonalds?"

Something inside me told me to run, but I foolishly passed up this little piece of intuitive advice.

"No," I said. "I had never even considered it."

They all gasped.

After coffee, I went straight home. About twenty minutes later, another mom, Jane, called and said, "I just got word that you have never archived Caroline's first Happy Meal at McDonald's into a scrapbook. And I'm calling to offer my support."

"Support?" I asked.

"Well, someone is going to have to take charge of archiving Caroline's encounters with fast food and it might as well be me. Why don't you come over Friday evening and join us for a cropping session? You'll have fun," she encouraged.

"Cropping?" I asked.

"That's what we call it when we archive pictures of a special event onto vellum or other nonporous paper."

I had no idea what she had just said, but thought I might check it out.

When I pulled up to Jane's house, I couldn't find a parking space closer than six blocks away. I thought that someone must be having quite a party.

Approaching the house, I noticed the garage doors were open. The cars had been removed and six long tables had been set up, which were already packed with women poring over their scrapbooks. Strategically placed throughout the garage were propane heaters. Japanese lanterns had been hung from the ceiling.

Jane walked up to me. "Welcome!" she gushed. "I should have told you to come earlier. All the spaces have already been filled."

I stood stunned.

"I thought seventy-two spaces for working on memory books would be enough," Jane continued, "but I was wrong. I'd be happy to put you on the waiting list. Why don't you come in? Let me show you some of my favorite scrapbooks."

She led me into the house. In the living room, the furniture had been removed and replaced with a large table, with no chairs. In the dining room, there was also a table, again with no chairs.

She caught my glance and knew I was wondering why she had such an unusual setup in her house. She said, "I permanently removed all the furniture and added another table so that I would have a place to display some of my favorite scrapbooks."

On each of the tables sat eight scrapbooks, where you would normally see china settings. Track lighting had been installed to illuminate each scrapbook. The music playing in the background was Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells a Story."

"I had mahogany stands built to raise each of the books for better viewing," Jane said proudly.

"Oh, really," I said, feeling a little uneasy.

"The table in the living room contains scrapbooks chronicling 1995 to 1999. The dining-room table chronicles 2000 to 2005."


On Sale
Mar 6, 2008
Page Count
208 pages

Lauren Allison

About the Author

Lisa Perry has been a practicing clinical psychologist for the past eighteen years. She presents seminars on humor and creativity to women’s groups, businesses, and corporations.

Lauren Allison is a successful businesswoman with years of experience in speaking to businesses and organizations.

They teamed up in 2003 to provide entertaining seminars to women’s groups across the country.

Learn more about this author