Cast of Characters

Tara – that’s me

Todd – my first serious boyfriend and my second, most BESTest husband. Intelligent, funny, likes to sing random words and lyrics especially when I’m not in the best mood. Appreciates my sense of humor and loves me no matter what, even when I’m not listening to him. Gives the best gifts. Easily annoyed by inconsiderate people and bad drivers. Good with his hands. A long-time educator and good mentor. Brilliant conversationalist and a talker. Favored uniform is black t-shirt and jeans. A loyal and dedicated friend, family-centered, loves gathering everyone in our home.

Opac – first born son. I may or may not think he’s Perfect and The Most Special in the whole wide world. Handsome, excellent sense of humor, spot-on impressions, very smart and a driven student, appreciates “justice,” a loyal and inclusive friend, sensitive, kind, swears like a sailor, very low (and loud) threshold for pain, and sometimes has an explosive temper like mine. By some accounts, a little bit spoiled. Picky eater but likes sushi and will eat the fish he catches. Loves all genres of music, and The Trailer Park Boys.

Veruca – daughter and second child. Breathtakingly beautiful, smart, strong, athletic, funny, great friend, thoughtful, judgmental, moody, can easily go from zero to sixty like whiplash, spoiled. Type 1 diabetic, pumper, managing herself now with diligence and care. Affectionate but refuses hugs from her brother. Foodie who loves all types of food, sometimes things even I won’t eat.

Mom – my mom. Middle child of three. Beautiful, white-haired restauranteur and grandmother of two, amazing and gifted chef, lifetime hippie, opinionated, spiritual, once protested a nuclear power plant, political but chill about it these days, uses age to get away with stuff (oh yes you do!), generous sometimes beyond comprehension, strong, hardworking, loving, fierce-tempered, thoughtful, always there when I need her. Taught me how to be strong and independent, and encouraged me to follow my dreams – even if those dreams caught her completely off-guard and took me to the largest city in the world.

Silverfox – my dad. The oldest child of four. Kind, family-oriented, patient as a saint until you push him too far, frequent traveler to Facebook jail, hardworking, hilarious sense of humor, always there when I need him, a bit judgmental but in most cases it’s warranted. Raised a Catholic but now atheist. Seems like shit always happens to him, but in a hilarious way. Taught me the word, “clusterfuck.” Loves to bitch about American Home Shield, Trumpers, and the current thing that’s broken in the house. Always the best conversationalist and great stories from his work-related travels. Head-turning good looks and frequent recipient of salesgirl business cards (well, at one point anyway). Picture a cross between George Clooney and Steve Martin. Can always make me laugh.

Supporting Cast

Matt – my brother. Born with a smile on his face when I was 22 years old. Calling me at work, reading newspapers, and ordering things online by the time he was four. Super intelligent, full-scholarship to a top university for astrophysics, easygoing, up-for-anything attitude, a ready and contagious laugh, spoiled, very distinguished taste for craft beer and a high tolerance for alcohol, a fun and caring uncle, a valued friend, and – much to dad’s surprise – a good houseguest.

Neph – nephew from Todd’s side. The second oldest of the five “kids” in our combined families (counting Matt as oldest). Lived with us while he was “finding” himself until he had to “find himself” somewhere else. White AF in a close circle of African-American friends, frequently expresses himself in Ebonics, a bit spastic and jumpy, has Amish-style red facial hair, easy to tease with an easy laugh, stubborn, occasionally accident prone, caring, obsessive-compulsive, ruminates over things, accepting, messy, loving and attentive family member, food lover with a monstrous appetite and even worse food combinations, thoughtful conversationalist, gives good hugs.

Bee – Official registered name is I Am Queen Bee. Sabra objects to the “queen” part. She’s our “middle child.” Finished champion show dog. Fur is thick like wool. Extremely excitable, high-strung, whiny, excessively needy at times. Fastest runner of the three. Apprehensive around everyone but Todd and me, won’t let anyone else near her. Loves… attention, treats, getting brushed, Sabra, eating, running, napping in the new fluff-bed from Nannie, chewing up bathroom trash, crying outside the sliders when Daddy is in meetings, sparring with Shuggie, and going out front on the leash with mom. Not so fond of…strangers, car rides, being alone, and other dogs.

Shuggie – Officially named Brown Sugar. Name rhymes with “boogie.” I refer to her as “the baby.” Also known as… Shug, sugar booger, boogie, boogs, pig pen, poopie, poops, and pain in the ass. If I could start over and rename her, I’d call her Moxie, because she’s full of it. Definitely a mind of her own, independent, and challenging to train, but a true lover whose motto is, I’m gonna make you love me ( shout out to all you Purple Rain fans). A brick shithouse at 46 pounds and stubborn as a mule. Loves… chasing squirrels and running after Bee, sparring, woofing down her food, digging holes in the yard, eating shit, barking, jumping on Daddy (and everyone else), chewing up socks and underwear and trash when she can find it, ignoring mom when she’s in trouble and leaning on her when she’s trying to write, lying on your lap, and bones filled with peanut butter. Does not like… baths, being brushed, being disciplined, being ignored, other (visiting) dogs.

SIL – aka, sister-in-law. Not technically a sister-in-law, since we became friends long after the fact, but for purposes of discussion and to eliminate confusion, I refer to her as such (and sometimes as “sister-out-law”). Mother of Neph and Nephtoo. Source of my inspiration for the “Socks” survey and several other ideas currently floating around. Tells it like it is, does not sugar coat advice and will outwardly laugh at me. Occasionally polls me for advice as if I might actually know something helpful. Hilariously funny even when she doesn’t realize it, prone to overthinking, thoughtful and kind but will call you out on stuff, contagious laugh, tough-love momma.


– friend, and honorary “brother.” Lives in the garage apartment. Tough guy, former biker and musician, and committed cannabis user. A bit of a dirty mind, hates the sight of blood, clipped temper, fierce and loyal, wicked sweet tooth, marrow donator, will give you the clothes off his back.

Jonathan – friend. Like an older brother, enjoys doughnuts, poker, a good riff, excellent conversationalist, a calm but firm voice, intelligent, quietly opinionated, spiritual, cat daddy. Wicked sense of humor. Hates mayonnaise and far-left politics. Introduced me to Cards Against Humanity. One of Todd’s friends who became a dear one of mine.

Nephtoo – nephew. Younger brother to Neph. Chill, on fleek. Good hair, fearless, perfectionist, determined, goal-oriented, affectionate, thoughtful, strong, respectful even when getting advice he plans to ignore, will organize things for you without asking (silverware drawer), cheerful and brightens the room. Athletic, sensitive, judgmental, sarcastic, witty. Vegan. Activist. Observant and engaged conversationalist. Expected to be a brilliant neuroscientist one day.

In Memoriam

Sabra – our fuzzy brown standard poodle. Skitzy, nervous, hates doorways and narrow spaces, fierce backyard guardian against squirrels, groundhogs, and wayward turtles. One-time mistaken judgment of a skunk. Hates car rides, the groomer, being brushed, and the vet – all elicit trembles like she’s going to the death chamber. Thunderstorms, high winds, and the blinging of the pinball machine send her into full-body tremors. Loves cat shit, gravy bones, potato chips and pistachios, Greenies, occasional jailbreaks from the yard, a good scratch, burrs, and bounding across the lawn. Shifting loyalties. Pretends she doesn’t like lying on the couch. Passed January 2022 at age 14.

Oliver – beloved orange tabby boy. Passed suddenly in 2019 from saddle thrombus at the age of 7.

Pi – our standard black poodle and mother to Sabra. Passed in 2016 at the ripe old age of 15.

**By no means a complete list, so don’t get your panties twisted if you’re not on it yet. I will make updates and additions as necessary and time permits.