True Stories

Spontaneous Curls


I had curly hair from birth until I turned three, and then one fine New England morning I woke up with pin-straight hair, or so I was told. I didn’t think much about this until some years ago when I was looking at family photos, and sure enough pictures of me before and after age three supported the claim.

The curly-to-straight phenomena really impressed my mother who said that she had never seen such a thing. Her reaction made quite an impression on me, her ninth born. I figured by the time I came around that she had already seen all there was to see — an idea reinforced regularly with one of her favorite saying — “Now I’ve seen everything!”

Given that she was a level headed woman who took most things in stride, the fact that she was impressed by anything at all (especially by a spontaneous straightening), caused me to believe that it was indeed a fantastic, if not cosmic occurrence. In any event I was thereafter perfectly happy with my straight hair.

When my younger sisters were six and four they went through a banana curls phase. This was my mother’s idea. The technique required planning, set-up, and maintenance. They used those soft, pink rollers on long damp hair wrapped from the ends, with the rollers left dangling over the shoulders. If they turned their heads from left to right really fast, the centrifugal force caused the rollers to swing out straight. For some reason this severely cracked us up.

My sisters slept in the soft rollers, and the next morning they would rush to take them out! Then my mother and I would oooooh and aaaaaw over the long slinky-like curls. It was a cute and perfectly girly ritual at our house. However, I was just a spectator and enjoyed it from the sidelines. I was eight at the time and still happy with my cosmically straight hair.

When I was thirteen and still somewhat innocent, I used to babysit for little Augie. His mom was single. I minded Augie while his mom went out on dates. And when she returned she would tell me of her adventures — all the revealing details! Augie’s mom used to drink and drive, insisting that alcohol made her feel more alert and therefore a better driver — but that’s another story. Before Augie’s mom went out on a date, she would brush her long hair over the ironing board and then, using a regular clothes iron, she’d press it pin-straight. I thought that was the coolest thing ever, so I tried it, but ended up steam-burning my cheek. Suffice it to say, Augie’s mom was not exactly the best role model. Anyway . . .

For me, straight hair was THE hair to have, and I wasn’t interested in curls — with one exception. It was when I dated a hairdresser and I experimented with edgy cuts, colors and perms. It was fun but short-lived, and I soon went back to the straight look — until recently.

A week ago I woke up and my straight hair had erupted, over night, into big, soft, spontaneous curls! And I do mean, the kind that spring when I walk. The kind that you can practically hear going . . . boing . . . boing . . . boing!

So, I called my mother the other day and told her, and sure enough, she was duly impressed, so much so, that I’ve decided to not only keep the curls, but to embraced them.

Christina Moss

True Stories

Lines at Costco

I shopped at Costco the other day but it was crazy busy — usually the case on any given Sunday. After loading up my car, I remembered I needed gas — badly. The needle was well below empty so I figured: Costco gas! It was a logical choice, had the lines not been so damn long.

After a long wait I got to the pump, but my Costco card didn’t work!


It had JUST worked in the store!

I tried, I cancelled, I tried, I cancelled, I pushed the help button (several times) but there was no attendant in sight!

The people behind were becoming impatient and obviously annoyed at the silly girl with the Boston sports stickers on her car. “Give it up, Boston! Move on! It isn’t working!” they THOUGHT at me — I’m sure of it!

But I had just WAITED all that time in line and there was SUPPOSED to be an attendant there! Then, I remembered my special power!  I whistled loudly enough to wake the dead; loudly enough to make people around me cringe and hold their ears. (If there’s one thing I can do it’s whistle.)

Finally, way over yonder across the multiple gas pumps was an old man (a Bob Newhart look-alike) who began to shuffle in my direction very, very slowly.

It took Bob five looooong minutes to reach me, and during that time the people behind me were becoming more and more enraged, but not at me any more — at Bob who was, fortunately, oblivious to their wrath.

Eventually Bob Newhart got my Costco card to work.

It should have been smooth sailing from that point on, but then I cut my finger on the new fangled gas pump. It bled all the way home, but I didn’t care. I was relieved to be away from the hostile motorists, and Bob.

I don’t think I’ll go to Costco again on a Sunday — not unless they get some spry young kid to cover the gas pumps.

If you can think of a more suitable job for Bob Newhart at Costco, I’ll gladly suggest it to HR.

True Stories


My eighty-five year old mother resides north of Boston in the same town in which she was born.  She has many children, many more grand-children and so many great grand-children that frankly, I lost count.  People love my mother, they always have.  And what’s not to love?  She’s quick to smile, her eyes are bright and she has a typical New England sense of humor.  She’s also little — five-foot-nothing.

She recently flew to San Antonio to visit relatives.  All of my siblings knew the travel arrangements — my sister would escort her on the flight south but my mother would fly back to Boston alone.

After the trip, I called her from my home in Los Angeles to get an update.  Our conversations are usually wonderfully playful, vibrant and lively, if not rather loud because she’s hard of hearing.  This conversation was no different.  “So, Mumsy, my little jet-setter, how was the solo flight back from the confederate state?” I asked her brightly.

“Oh, you won’t believe this.  It was horrible!” she said.

“Oh no! What happened?”

After a brief silence she said bleakly, “Are you sitting down?”

Something bad had happened. I sat down with my hand on my chest and braced myself for terrible news rather than the usual light-hearted conversations we were famous for.  “Tell me,” I said softly because my throat was closing up a little.

The volume of her voice rebounded with, “My plane was hijacked!”

Needless to say, I was shocked. “No way!”

“Oh yes! Hijacked by the TSA!”

“Are you kidding?!”

“I am not! Mid-flight, the TSA turned our plane around! We were detained for hours. They even frisked me! Can you imagine?”

“Unbelievable! What were they looking for?”

“That’s just it!  No one knew until it was all over.  They finally told us they were after drugs and then they released everyone — except for me!  For some reason they still weren’t convinced that I wasn’t a drug dealer or a mule, so they kept me in protective custody with an armed guard for the entire day!  I couldn’t go anywhere or talk to anyone!  It was just awful!”

“Oh my God! I’m sorry you had to go through all that.  But you’re home now and everything is okay, right?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”  And I could tell by her voice that she really was.

“Well, jeez, if nothing else you’ve got a colorful story to tell your friends!”

She had a good laugh and we shared the warm familiarity of feeding off of each other’s laughter, amused at the ordeal, amused that the other is so amused and when that wound down she sighed and said, “I’ll tell you one thing, dear.  I really miss the old days.”

“You mean the days before the TSA?”

“No, I mean the days when people believed if it walked and talked like a duck, it was probably a duck — the early days when they relied on good, old-fashioned profiling.”

© 2011 Christina Moss

True Stories

Comical Adventure at the Post Office

After waiting 30 minutes in line, this is an actual conversation I had with a clerk at the Burbank Post Office.

Clerk: You want that to arrive overnight?

Me:  No, I just want it sent Media Mail, no bells or whistles.

Clerk:  Anything liquid?

Me:  It’s a book.

Clerk:  Toxic?

Me:  It’s a book.

Clerk:  Live animals?

Me:  Do you have a dictionary behind the counter?

Clerk:  Media Mail could take 7 to 10 days.

Me:  Don’t care.

Clerk:  Insurance?

Me:  No thank you, just Media Mail.

Clerk:  Confirmation of delivery?

Me:  Nope, just plain old Media Mail.

Clerk:  You sure you don’t want insurance or confirmation of delivery?

Me:  Very.

Clerk:  What if it gets lost?


Me:  I’ll assume you had something to do with it.

© 2011 Christina Moss

True Stories

Life Has a Way of Balancing Itself Out

I found a diamond ring. It wasn’t an average ring either. It was unique. Regal. I wanted so much to keep it, but it wasn’t mine. I figured someone had to be feeling terrible about losing it so I spent time looking for the owner. I put up signs, checked notices in local papers and posted on lost-and-found websites. Eventually I gave up, boxed the ring, and put it away in a drawer where it remained, forgotten for about six months.

* * *

Water balances itself out constantly and it’s often useful, like fluid displacement. You can measure the volume of something, like a rock for example, by dropping it in water. The rock pushes the water out of the way and the displaced water can be measured.

Not to digress too deeply from the topic but I have a point to make. Displaced water finds a balance again. Plenty of things seek to find a natural balance like electricity, gravity, and air ─ anyway, it’s an obvious thing. Things have a way of balancing out.

* * *

I know this guy who cleans railway cars for a living. People are always leaving behind small devices like radios, iPods, cameras, and cell phones. Cleaners are supposed to turn those things into lost-and-found. Not him. He has a drawer at home that’s stuffed with things he’d lifted from railway cars. What he intends to do with all that stuff I do not know, but this guy has the worst luck imaginable ─ worse than anyone I’ve ever met. And it’s continuous. I lost count of how many times his car has been broken into. He had more scars on his body than anyone I’ve ever known. He loses jobs and has accidents. He worked for a friend of mine, but it wasn’t long before Mr. Accident-Prone was fired. (The last straw was when he stepped off a ladder into a bucket of paint.) I can’t even write about some of his bad luck because it is so unbelievable I am sure you will think I’m lying.

I know, things happen to all of us, but with him it was almost on a daily basis. I looked at it sort of like “take something, lose something” ─ that kind of thing. I don’t mean it as a moral vs. immoral issue. I just see it as life finding its own balance ─ you take something, you lose something.

It goes both ways like “give something, receive something.” It isn’t any more “religious” than water displacement (although to some that might be a religious event and if that works for you, fine).

* * *

Back to the ring. One day my daughter brought it up. “Why don’t you just wear it?” she asked.

“Doesn’t seem right,” I said.

“But it’s your style.”

“Don’t feel like I own it.”

“What do you think it’s worth?” I didn’t know, so I took it to my jeweler and a week later he gave it back with a certificate of authenticity. The more than 2 karats of diamonds ensconced in gold was valued at nearly $10,000!

Sure, it was good news, but the ring still wasn’t mine and so once again it was relegated to a box and stuffed away in a drawer accompanied by the new certificate.

* * *

December 26, 2004, the day after Christmas, was the date of the massive earthquake in south Asia followed by devastating tsunamis. I was shocked and riveted for the next forty-eight hours as the death toll rose by the hour and exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of people were dead. Homes were washed away, and families and livelihoods were destroyed instantly and on a massive scale.

That disaster struck three years after September 11, 2001. The NYC attack wasn’t easy for me and every day after 9/11, for a long time, something would remind me of that morning, and a sick and ugly pain would grip my gut.

But here were tsunamis that left nearly 250,000 people dead. It made the nearly 3000 killed on 9/11 seem like nothing at all ─ not really, but just compare those figures! The loss of human life from the south Asian tsunamis was 80 times greater than NYC on September 11! And the devastated survivors were just like you and me. So we suffered just as we had on September 11.

My daughter called me a few days after the tsunamis and said, “You have to go to south Asia. They need people with your skills. Do you want to go to Indonesia or Sri Lanka?” She knew how I felt so there was no question that I would go, only where I’d go.

I spent five weeks in Sri Lanka with two good friends. We helped Buddhist monks (many of whom spoke English) so they could help the survivors. It was dangerous. A civil war had been going on, drug addicts were rampant, human trafficking and suicide bombers were the norm. The tsunamis had halted the war but we had our share of adventure just the same: an assassination, being followed and threatened by heroin addicts, and a near kidnapping of a young boy in our care by a pedophile politician (I did not make that up). But all in all, it was completely worth it and I was glad to have the opportunity to volunteer and help out.

* * *

A couple of years ago my daughter asked me about the diamond ring. “Since you’re not wearing it I’d like to borrow it for a few weeks. I want to know what it feels like to wear a $10,000 ring,” she said.

I went to my room and dug it out of the drawer. “Here!” I handed it over, relieved that it would at last be appreciated. I told her to keep it.

The ring finally had a home!

And she did keep it. Until very recently, when she called me to say, “I’ve had a ring made from grandma’s old ring and I really love it. I’m giving you back the diamond. It’s more your style than mine, anyway.”

Oh brother! Here we go again! Five years had passed and the beautiful diamond ring, fit for a princess, still had not found its balance.

I picked it up a few days ago. When I got home I opened the pretty box lined with black velvet and satin, and admired the sparkling, emerald-cut diamond, flanked by baguettes and a bunch of smaller diamonds, and I recalled the moment I had found it. I was out on an errand, and I stepped on something. When I lifted my foot, there it was, sparkling diamonds and gold. I looked around for the owner but there was no one else in sight. It had been an eventful day for other reasons, so I remembered the date in particular.

Recalling the date I had found it was my first clue. After that things began to aligned and finally it all made sense.

The beautiful diamond ring is mine after all! The reason I know this is because I had found it the day after Christmas, exactly one year after the south Asian tsunamis. It had found its balance just over five years ago, but it took me a while to figure that out. And get this, it fits perfectly on the middle finger of my right hand. I’ve decided to wear it every day.

© 2011 Christina Moss

True Stories

Readers Are Ticked Off

I’m writing a series of science fiction books and the second one was recently published. My friends like my stories but lately I’ve noticed they’ve been a little ticked off at me.  I first noticed it about a week ago. Apparently, the problem is the second book, INSIGHT.

I was hanging out with a friend and at one point she said, “Listen, I love your writing and the characters and I don’t tell you that enough — but I’m really pissed off about the way you ended the second book! I read the last page and literally threw it down on the table and said, ‘F— you!’”

I thought her reaction was pretty funny but the truth is, I’d never seen her so mad at anyone!

And then just a couple of days ago, I was at a high school for two days for an author visit.  I talked to the literature classes about creative writing. On the first day, a particular student who was very enthusiastic about my first book, picked up a copy of INSIGHT — the second book. The next day the same student came to find me over lunch.  Now she wasn’t looking too happy — a big change from the day before.  “I have a problem,” she said. “I finished reading your book in less than a day — but that’s not the problem. I got in trouble in my last class because of your book!”

“Oh no!  Were you reading during class?” I asked.

“Yes, but that wasn’t why I got in trouble. I got to the end of the book and was so mad I slammed it down on my desk and my teacher got mad at me! You totally left me hanging!”

Last night I was at an art gallery for a friend’s opening. It turned out some people there had read my books and a couple of them even had some nice things to say about my writing. That part was nice until someone mentioned the second book. I swear I heard a growl. Fortunately for me, things didn’t get too vicious.  They probably remembered we were in a social setting because the nice (but false) smiles came back on their faces and one of them asked politely about the publication date of book three.  But through their forced smiles I could tell they were a little ticked off.

I guess that’s a liability of being a writer.  Sometimes you make them laugh, sometimes they cry and once in a while they turn on you.

© 2010 Christina Moss

True Stories

The Lingering Hug

I’m going to comment on something super random and kind of ridiculous. It contains sexual innuendo and threatened violence.  So, continue at your own risk and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I told my husband once about this guy, the husband half of a married couple we know, who would greet me with a hug and linger perhaps a little . . . bit . . . too . . . long.

After that my husband and I humorously referred to it as the “lingering hug”. It only happened a few times with that guy but each time it was in a social setting, caught me off guard and left me speechless.

Well, today, while walking from OSH to our car, something reminded my husband of the guy who’d given me a lingering hug and he made a joked about it. I laughed and said, “Yeah it’s funny how some guys do that.”

To which my husband replied, “You mean you get the lingering hug from other guys too?”

“Oh, it’s not only the lingering hug!” said I. “It gets worse. Sometimes it’s a squeeze, followed by the lingering hug, then the sweeping release!”

He stopped in his tracks in the middle of the parking lot and frowned slightly. “What’s that?”

“The sweeping release? Well, after the linger, one hand slides down my back a little, then lightly sweeps down my side, to my waist and releases at the hip. It’s more subtle than it sounds, leaves me wondering if I imagined it and I’m left positively speechless.”

“Wait a minute!”  He’d become more animated at this point but our humor was still high.  “Let me get this straight!”  And the volume of his voice increased. “First there’s a squeeze . . . then there’s a lingering hug . . . followed by the hand sweep?”




“Any man who’d do that to another man’s wife, deserves to be hit. Do me a favor.”

“What’s that?”

In a flat voice he answered, “Next time, point him out.”

© 2010 Christina Moss