An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

On overcoming phobias

A couple of weeks ago when I was cleaning out my closet I found the black rubber tarantula that I bought several years ago in an attempt to scare Jon. He’s been featured here many times (here, here, and most prominently here), so I think at this point he deserves a name. Everyone, meet Randall:


I just thought of something somewhat related, so bear with me for a second: we’re all lying there in bed this morning, and just as I sleepily reach over to turn on the light, the toilet in the bathroom directly next to our bedroom makes some weird noises. Leta starts to freak out, is all WHAT IS GOING ON IN THERE, and just as Jon tries to explain the basics of how water can sometimes seep through the mechanism and whatnot, I go, “There’s a ghost on the toilet!”

Do not ask me why I would say something so obviously incendiary, so EFFING DUMB, because I guess I was half-awake, half-asleep, and I thought it would be funny? Ha ha! A GHOST! ON THE TOILET! And Jon is groaning while Leta goes, “A WHAT? A WHAAAAT?

So I snap awake, and because I am so quick on my feet, so very good at yanking my foot out of my mouth because of my years and years of experience, I go, “TOAST! There’s some toast! On the toilet!”

Leta wrinkled her nose, tilted her head much like Coco does when you make the slightest noise, and says, “Mom, you are so weird.”

I will take weird over nightmares about ghosts on toilets ANY DAY.

Anyway, I tried once again to scare Jon with Randall by putting it underneath his pillow, and of course it didn’t work. The dude just doesn’t scare easily, and I will forgive him for this boring trait because I promised to love him until I die. He has plenty of other lovely characteristics that make up for this flaw. Give me a second and I’ll think of some.

Maybe a couple of seconds.

So I’m climbing into bed three days later and I see that he’s placed Randall right underneath my nightstand. Surprisingly, I don’t jump three feet into the air or DIE, and the next morning when all four of us are lying there trying to wake up I lose my mind again, reach over and grab the tarantula, and toss it at Jon’s head. Why? Why do I do these things? Someone needs to hold an intervention! Heather! Stop giving your five-year-old reasons to wake up screaming!

So Leta FAH-REAKS OUT. She is screaming and panicking and clutching to my arm as firmly as if I have her dangling over a pool of sharks. Jon commences groaning, and then we both start rattling off reasons as to why she should not be scared. It’s a fake spider, Leta. It’s rubber. It’s not real. It has no feelings. You cannot make it sad. And then I shove the whole thing into my mouth which turns out to be the absolute WORST idea ever because then it’s OH MY GOD YOU’VE GOT A SPIDER IN YOUR MOUTH!

And now that I’ve had a couple seconds to think about it, Jon is really patient. There. There it is. That’s his lovely characteristic. Singular.

Because the following morning he spent well over an hour convincing Leta to touch the fake tarantula. It took that long, and he never raised his voice or got agitated, not once, and suddenly Leta walks into the living room HOLDING RANDALL IN HER HANDS. And I’m all LETA! And she goes MOM! LOOK! I AM COURAGEOUS!

That’s the word she used. Courageous. Leta, I forgive you for all those years we had to take you to physical therapy only to find out that the diagnosis was STUBBORN.

So a few days go by, and I’m preparing Leta for a bath when Jon hands her a few pieces of black licorice. Like, why did he choose that time? Right then as she’s about to take a bath? MINUS TEN POINTS FOR ABSENTMINDEDNESS, JON.

And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this enough here, but I hate black licorice. LOATHE IT. It is The Worst Tasting Taste in all of Tasteland. It’s like, we’re headed for a bath and he picks up a ratty tissue that a hobo has used to wipe her vagina, hands it to Leta, and says ENJOY!


The smell of it almost knocks me over, and I’m trying not to gag as I pour shampoo onto her hair, and she’s just chomping away on all that awfulness. Suddenly she stops mid-chew, looks up at me with half-digested black death wedged between her teeth and says, “If I’m courageous enough to touch the spider, why can’t you be courageous enough to try black licorice?”


So I called Jon into the bathroom to demonstrate his lovely characteristic and patiently explain to her the VERY OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the difference, only to say that we’re now setting aside money for law school.

  • I’m just casually reading along and then all of a sudden a hobo’s vagina is mentioned and I fall off the couch – hahahahahaaaaa! Nice.

  • Great freaking post today, laugh out loud hilarious! I too loved the girl hobo line!

  • jessica

    I love this! Thanks for making me laugh!!

  • amy j.

    oh my holy god. you guys are so dead. leta’s going to eat you alive for at least the next 13 years. and i can’t wait to read about every moment of it. i so love your family and think you are all so awesome.

  • Ann

    I laughed out loud at the hobo’s vagina part and I am with you on the black licorice. There is a reason the flavor is called anise…to close to anus if you ask me cause that’s what it tastes like. Just like any black candy…necco wafer, juje fruit, etc. Well done.

  • Yes indeed ‘Uggg’! thanks for the delightful smellvisual. It’s a good one though!

    Not even fifteen minutes ago I made the same offhand, half baked, not thinking comment about ghosts to my 5 year old son. I was trying to get him to go down to the creek with his dad and my mother in law (so I can get some peace for 10 seconds!). He made a ghost puppet today and I told him he should take it down to the creek to show all the ghosts down there. He was like ‘Well this is a pretend ghost’ And I say ‘Well there are REAL ghosts down at the creek’ First he shakes his head with a you’re-kidding-me smile then the questions start ‘How did they die?’ Did they drown?’ I say, ‘No, you’re right there’s no ghosts down there’ but the questions continue… ‘Who got them?’ ‘Will Michael Jackson be there?’ I ended up saying they are GOOD ghosts and anyway, Daddy and Grandma Sonia are with you…shiiiit.

    Anyway, it seemed to work and got him out. Hopefully he doesn’t actually see anything.

  • Ugh! I hate black licorice and my husband hates big black spiders!

  • kwallca

    This is the day when your child became smarter than you are. It happens to all of us. I clearly remember the day when we were on a road trip and my five-year-old daughter asked for another piece of licorice ( red, never black. Gross!) and I told her it was all gone. Then she said “show me the empty package.” I knew at that moment that it was all over. I was right.
    Black jelly beans are just as bad.

  • Dooce,

    For the love! I haven’t been here long enough to have read the spider stories. I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time. I did go to the silent laughter with tears streaming down my face! That was good stuff! I am now trying to think where I can find a Randall……so good….I am so down!

    Thanks for that…perked up my crappy day!


    P.S. I agree with you on the licorice…might as well drink Nyquil for fun…

  • kwallca

    P.S. Here’s a little tip: When trying to convince a child to taste something new, never, NEVER say “You’ll only taste it for five seconds and then it will be gone. What’s the big deal? You never know, you might like it” in front of your husband. It will come back to haunt you.

  • Caroline

    Oh Hell. to. the. No. She. Didn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Are you a man? Because you sound like a man and look like a man. If you are, it’s okay. I mean, it’s important for the kids to know that they have two daddies who love them very much. Except for that one daddy who throws spiders at their heads and makes up lies about paranormal spirits haunting the bathroom.

  • “It’s like, we’re headed for a bath and he picks up a ratty tissue that a hobo has used to wipe her vagina, hands it to Leta, and says ENJOY!”

    Oh my God, I’m going to die from the grossness that sentence now.

    This post made me laugh very hard.

  • I love black licorice. Just sayin’

    I probably shouldn’t tell you about the time I found a tarantula on my bed, and thought it was a fake one. Until I reached over to pick it up and noticed it looked way too real. My hand was mere centimeters away from it. I was going to throw it at my kids to scare them! Scared myself instead.

    My husband dispatched it hastily. Took me weeks to sleep comfortably there again.

  • Melissa

    okay…I love Leta…she cracks me up…God pretty much knows what He is doing and has obviously sent you your match…maybe your superior…LOL

    when i was a little girl…the Easter bunny that came to my house, used to leave a bag of black jelly beans in my basket…because i was the only one that likes them…let me rephrase LOVE them…so I’m with Leta…be courageous Heather!

  • A

    I happen to be a hobo and would like you know that my vagina is covered in spiders and tastes like licorice.

    I’m a tad offended.

  • EEEEEEK! I HATE spiders, LOVE black licorice!

    It’s great that Leta is overcoming her fears! How about you?! (Well, hating black licorice is not exactly a fear, is it?)

  • Teri

    It being close to Halloween and all, I whimsically bought a bag of plastic cockroaches at the grocery store and have been scaring my very skittish husband since. I put them in so many places, knowing he’d be finding them for day, weeks, YEARS. We’ve been house hunting and my husband went to the bank to get pre-approved for a loan. While talking to a loan officer, he took off his jacket and slung it over his arm, and two, yes two, cockroaches came sliding to the floor.

    Also, black licorice is gagony.

  • Laurie Lou

    Am I the only person in the world who loves black licorice? Good, all the more for me! The best stuff comes from Finland and Holland, by the way. Otherwise I have to say that this is one of the most hysterical and delightful posts I’ve read for a while. Thanks, Dooce, for giving me a great ending to the day!

  • Katherine

    That is one SCARILY smart kid.

    I hate black licorice too. I mean, honestly, who thought THAT as a good idea??


  • Every single night I have this ritual with my ten-year old. (Note that I said ten. Not five or six.) I have to do a “bed check” which involves looking on either side of her twin beds, and looking underneath them, and telling her everything is fine. This is after the light is off. And speaking of phobias, I am ever-so-slightly-afraid, every time I look, I might see a monster under the bed. For the record, I’m 37. And no, she does not know I get a little bit of tingly fear when I crouch down and look. But we have tarantulas (real live ones) here (central Texas) and I’ve seen them on my back porch a time or two. If Randall or one of his living brethren ever made it for bed check I’m pretty sure the world would stop spinning.

  • No spider is as scary as black licorice.

  • What a little smartass. I love her.

    And I am in total agreement, black licorice is vile.

  • Sue

    You guys kill me…Thank you for the GREAT laugh tonight. Life, even filled with Randalls and black licorice, is so worth living.

  • Tay

    This just may be my favorite entry of 2009. Your kid is growing so damn fast.

  • Danielle

    Make a spider out of black licorice for a double whammy.

  • amandam

    “Toast on the toilet” – LOL! Good save! And Randall seems a somehow fitting name for a rubber tarantula. Good for your daughter for getting over her fear of the (faux) spider, too; seems like the best way to handle it, just dealing with it head-on, ’cause those suckers really can be scary when you’re a kid.

  • Mary

    I used to think that a leprechaun lived in my toilet when I was Leta’s age. It’s not like anyone told me a scary story about it either, I came up with that idea on my own. And so, for a number of years, I was afraid to use the bathroom solely for the reason that OMG THE LEPRECHAUN WILL LEAP OUT AND GET ME AAAAAHHHHH.

    Yeah, I was a weird kid.

  • I love checking your site EVERY DAY! 😀 You have a gift! And your dogs are just too cute! Love the scarf photo.

  • Salome

    Rock on, Dooce! You are every bit as charming and funny as when I started reading your blog in 2004. BETTER.

  • Heather

    Mmm… black licorice…

    toast on the toilet is a great swear phrase, don’t you think?

  • Mar

    Funny post, as ever and yet again!

    Just found out about Monetizing the Hate today, another hilarious section, like why not, if pays the bills?

  • Leta is SMART. This is too funny. I can totally relate, dude.

  • good post and thanks a lot!

  • I loved this post ~ as I do all of them, and I was glad to see and read the comment from #100. I have been upset about the”Haters” since I read their comments. I wish you could have someone filter them so you never had to see or read such green crap. I do agree with #100 that it just feeds their jealous frenzy. Please keep up the good work. With your family for inspiration and great material I look forward to reading “Dooce” every day.

    Oh yeah ~ my Mother eats and loves Black Licorice ~ she says it works like a laxative when she is constipated. I’m not so sure!

  • Are you going to get nasty-grams now from hobos with vaginas?

  • How is it that eating black licorice is not dissimilar from making out with Satan and eating a Twizzler is like an aggressive deliciousness party in and around your mouth?

    If only all things in life were this simple, paint it a bright color, give it a spiffy name and…wait, that is what most of life is like.

  • Knittingfrog

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE licorice…but maybe the European stuff tastes different? I have never had licorice from the US, but love the black stuff sweet and even savoury, with my absolute favourite being the Finnish salty licorice liqueur…(maybe the alcohol would help you face the challenge of trying it in front of Leta?)

  • Black licorice is beyond gross but your family is a trip.

  • I’m not as anti-black licorice as you are, but eating candy in the bathtub? I think I’ve found a new phobia. I’m just imagining syrupy drool mixing in with the bath water. Not that Leta drools but my kid sure does.

  • I am totally against black licorice, so I understand. That stuff is evil. I say, EVIL.

  • This made me smile. Mainly because I’m a legendary arachnophobe and because my husband, the love of my life, is named Randal. He’s much more attractive than yours, even without the extra l.

  • Black licorice is VILE! I don’t blame you for wrinkling your nose in disgust — not in the least. I fail to see how it became an edible substance.

  • Anonymous

    Chuck in the scarf should be sold as a screen saver or wall paper. I would so buy it.

  • Anonymous

    All joking aside, PLEASE DO NOT ENCOURAGE LETA TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL. Take it from a lawyer.

  • Carolarol


  • sonya


    That’s the word she used. Courageous. Leta, I forgive you for all those years we had to take you to physical therapy only to find out that the diagnosis was STUBBORN.”

    Oh, this is why I chose not to continue the family DNA. Because the stubborn trait is very prominent and my brain has already exploded in the past.

    And, I love black licorice. Especially the sugar-coated gummy licorice balls.

    It’s ok not to like it. Good post!

  • Angela

    Love it!

    I like to scare people too!! Fave: put the plastic object of terror in the laundry. Works every time. My bf occasionally, but repeatedly puts a plastic snake in the washer so that my almost mother in law (ahhh, scary to say) will be afraid. Best part is, it continues to work! The random panicked shout from the laundry room is priceless

  • mmmmmm I have always loved black licorice so on this post I laugh my head off but don’t understand why you hate the stuff 🙂

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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