Murder Mystery: The Best Group Date Ever


You know that wild and annoying friend who is always trying to convince you to do stuff? She’ll tease and cajole and the next thing you know, you’re throwing spoons while yelling “YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!” or you’ll be painfully aware you are, by far, the youngest –and yet most enthusiastic—group attending an ABBA cover band.

That friend is me. And I made my friends go to a Murder Mystery Dinner. And, yes, you’re welcome, friends.

I’d been wanting to attend a Murder Mystery Dinner for quite some time– since I was 5 and insisted on being Miss Scarlet in Clue. That was my playing piece. Mine.

So back in January I bought a Groupon for a The Dinner Detective, and proceeded to invite 3 different gentlemen in the next 4 months to the event. All said they would go, but then we stopped dating. I was cursed.

Finally I asked someone who was a friend, whom I would never date, to come to Murder Mystery Dinner, and he accepted. Now we are dating, and he tells me I’m beautiful at least 10 time a day. He also gives me massages and tells me I’m the best girlfriend ever.


I’m not saying getting tickets for Murder Mystery Dinner will guarantee that you’ll find your true love, but I’m also not saying it won’t. Also I’ve had some wine.

It’s not just my personal passion for Murder Mystery Dinners/game of Clue/anything Agatha Christie that leads me to strongly believe this is an amazing group date activity –let’s not forget I’m a Real Relationship Examiner. I’m an expert. And you know that because this article is on the internet.

I’ll break down my experience at Murder Mystery Dinner and some tips below.

 Why is Dinner Detective the perfect group date?

Excellent for bringing people you like OR people you hate!

Because sometimes those two people are part of the same couple. If you’re inviting only people you like, great! Maybe get them to dress up in outfits from Clue and talk in fancy and absurd accents.

If you’re forced to invite people you don’t like, no problem! Sit them on the other end of the table and anytime they say anything, you can dramatically “SHHHH!” them, point to the actors, and stage-whisper “I’m trying to solve a murder!”

What is the experience like?

Very similar to your basic CSI episode. Everyone gets to the dinner, sits down, and suddenly SOMETHING DRAMATIC HAPPENS! YEEEEEEAHHHHHHH! “I think,” you say as you take off your sunglasses because you’re indoors “That now I need to become the Dinner Detective.”

Oh, you seriously want to know what the experience was like? I actually took notes, but now that I’m reviewing them, they aren’t super helpful. The notes say things like “Shot in the gut? Would have bled out sooner,” “#1 suspect is the guy singing Bon Jovi,” and “More wine please.”
Basically you’re sitting in a hotel ballroom, and …things happen. I don’t want to give anything away, but it did involve murder, many suspects, a lineup, what looked like potential domestic violence, and some horrible (and amazing) impressions.

So I’m just watching a show?

Au contraire, mon frere. Yes, there are detectives coming in and talking about the murder, and yes, there are actors in the audience. * But Dinner Detective goes out of their way to ensure the evening is interactive. *

You’ll have a chance to interrogate all the attendees, and one person in our group was named a main suspect. Another had to do an evil Mickey  Mouse impression, and a third had to re-enact the murder as the victim. They’re not messing around at Dinner Detective. You’ll be involved.

*I didn’t know this until we were there but you can pay more to be in the show! Perhaps a victim or THE MURDERER. That would  be my Kevin Spacey moment in that movie where he walks away and all of a sudden isn’t limping. Only it would be a mystery dinner and no other criminals would be harmed.
Where is it located?

At the Marriot in Mesa, on University and Mesa Drive. If you go on their website, they have this event in other cities as well.


How much are tickets?

I’m not sure what the Groupon specials are, but on their website it says $59.95/person. That was much less than I was expecting, because a night out at a fancy restaurant is usually $60 minimum.

Is the mystery hard to figure out?

No. But have something to drink and it will be.

What were the most fun parts?

Ohhh…that’s tough. Interrogating (or “asking questions”) of the other attendees was pretty fun, especially since I was just going up to people and yelling “You’re the murderer, admit it!” (I did that to the actual murderer, but didn’t know it at the time. I figured my chances were good for scaring the crap out of at least one person.)

The detectives were pretty hilarious, with a lot of innuendo, so I wouldn’t recommend bringing your second grader. And be prepared to get called on to read something out loud or stand in a lineup.

The best part was going with my friends, us all dressing up in Clue characters, and everyone thinking we were part of the show. So I highly recommend that. But you don’t have to do Clue, you could do Sesame Street or M.A.S.H. The sky is the limit.

What are your tips?

Ok, here we go. If I had to do this again (and let’s be honest, I probably will), here’s what I would do differently.

1.       I would eat before I went, because even though our show started at 6, dinner wasn’t served until 8:30 and at that point there weren’t enough mashed potatoes in the world to satiate my hunger.

2.       I would also purchase alcohol beforehand and arrive a tiny bit buzzed. Alcohol makes jokes funnier, clues trickier, and suspects more convincing.


3.       If you do decide to buy alcohol, and you don’t live in that area in Mesa, buy it from a store you know before you leave your area. I don’t need to go into details on that, just trust me on this one.

4.       I would remember that this is not a real murder. This is a situation I get into all the time—I just read a book I didn’t like to find out the surprise at the ending and then realized the “surprise” wasn’t really any surprise at all and I’m not super impressed with Jodi Picoult. But anyway, keep in mind that they want at least some people to solve the murder, so the answers will actually be in the clues.

5.       If you’re going to drink and not eat much, luckily this venue is at a hotel. I would recommend booking a room before you arrive, just in case.

Do you have any regrets?

NONE. That pertain to this. I went with 5 other people, and several of them reached out to me after that telling me they had an awesome time, even though they didn’t think it was going to be that fun.

Because that’s how things like Murder Mystery Dinner go. It’s a little out of our comfort zone, we don’t know what will happen, and that’s scary. I get that. Then you go, and you’re having the time of your life. Because nobody puts Baby in a corner. 




Increasingly Noncompliant Patient

It isn’t so much that I hate doctors or the medical professions, it’s that I really am tired of being asked to do stupid things that are inconvenient or expensive for me for apparently no discernible medical benefit.

The first time I said no was a few months ago. My daughter had dislocated her elbow while we were out of town and the urgent care wanted her to be seen by her pediatrician. I did that. When we got to the pediatrician’s office, however, the nurse wanted me to strip my 1-year-old down so she could weigh her and get her measurements. “But I’m here for her arm,” I remember saying. I was irritated enough to say, “She is dressed appropriately for arm exams. She was here last week for her checkup. Is there any medical benefit to this as it is super inconvenient for me.” The nurse said I could decline. So I declined. The Kid’s arm healed just the same.

Now I’m dealing with some medical issues pertaining to my reproductive areas.

My first issue is that my IUD is apparently missing. They had the ultrasound tech poke and squish around and nothing was found. I then had a followup call a week later telling me that I should schedule an x-ray. I’m not going to. I’m fully satisfied that the IUD is not lodged in a lung. I’m going to decline until otherwise forced into it.

Besides the IUD being MIA, had an abnormal PAP smear, something they say is fairly normal. They found the odd cells, they biopsied them. I’m good with that. Now they want me to come in to discuss my results. I asked the nurse on the phone if it was that bad. She said no. That’s just how the doctor likes to do it. I asked if there was going to be an exam. She said no. Just a discussion. I said, “Have the doctor call me. It’s too inconvenient for me to schedule time in my life to come to your office to talk.” She said she’d see if that was possible.

They better make it possible.

I don’t know how other people schedule things like that. I work and am the custodial parent to our child all day. We have no family or easy way of guaranteeing available child care. You need to tell me I need some kind of cryo-treatment? Awesome. Call me on the phone. I’ll schedule THAT appointment. I’m not losing work hours and the annoyance of driving a toddler around town for childcare just because “that’s how she likes to do it.”

I’m not scheduling a chat. And no, you can’t weigh me again or take my blood pressure. It hasn’t changed in a week. If it has, I need a different kind of doctor.

You are my density

Remember in Back to the Future where George McFly tries to tell Elaine that he is destined to be with her? Sadly, George is not the most eloquent of speakers. And he declares that she is his density. And you laugh because you think that George is dense, and you know that Marty is there from the future and they really are destined to be together, or else Marty doesn’t exist. Sometimes, you are meant to have a conversation or an interaction. Because it is your density. And because the universe likes fucking with you.

Kat Tremendous and I were discussing her Southern schooling. Particularly the idiotic names that Southerners feel they must give their children.

Kat Tremendous: Oh, fuck yeah. You should see the roster of names of girls I went to school with.

Penelope Prudence: I shouldn’t be surprised by this but ugh

Kat Tremendous: One girl insisted on being Katharine Tyler. You couldn’t call her Katharine.YOU HAD TO DO THE WHOLE NAME. So I called her Katharine Tyler Forsythe every time.

Penelope Prudence: hahahaha I love that you added the Forsythe

Kat Tremendous: Many of the girls had their mother’s grandmother’s last name as their first name.

Penelope Prudence: Parents are terrible to their children. That should not be allowed.

Kat Tremendous: No, it’s a very important thing in the South to be named for your people. We can’t pronounce the name I should have been since it was Polish. But if you are Scot-Irish with English descent, you can be Forester or some shit and it just sounds preppy. And if that doesn’t work, you can be named for the first child of the colonies!

Penelope Prudence: It’s fine to use them as middle names. My grandparents are southeners. Penelope Prudence: But first names? Just be normal See, my brother has a proper southern middle name: Rawlings.

But No one would call him Rawlings as a first name. That’s just mean.

Kat Tremendous: Yeah. It was a fucked up world I was exposed to. See, my friend’s brothers had names like that. They’d have a normal first name, like John. Because that was the family first name.But then they’d be called Rawlings as their house name.

Penelope Prudence: GAH!!!! And then they also punish the girls. WHY?!

Kat Tremendous: Because Rawlings Elizabeth Forsythe is adorable!*snickers*

Penelope Prudence: I really want to use Forsythe on someone now

Kat Tremendous: I know!

Penelope Prudence: Ryan’s southern family is in town. We are having dinner tonight. I’m totally bringing this up. You need a dog named Forsythe

Kat Tremendous: Yes a dog named Forsythe would be awesome.

Penelope Prudence: “Forsight?”
“No ‘Forsythe.’ *drawls* It’s a Southern thing”

And from there, our conversation wandered to furniture, until minutes later, a discussion with my coworker popped up in the chat window

Sarah Burn: what’s a good name for a southern dog, by the way? Like, not a strange name, but just a servicable one
Penelope Prudence: Ha! Funny you should ask. You are going to seriously laugh at the conversation I am about to paste you.

And I did paste her. As of yet, she has not been convinced to use Forsythe, but I feel it is destiny. I also feel I should probably buy a lottery ticket based on the name. Density says so. Don’t worry, if I win the lottery, I will still blog. I would never want to disappoint you.

The past that haunts our current disappointments

I went to a private all-girl high school in a southern town. I was not southern born myself, I was a transplant from Pennsylvania. My parents were not into college athletics or the social experiences that surrounded them. We never got together with friends to barbecue and watch daddy get soused with his buddies slowly over the hours at the beach while discussing UNC basketball, or at a parking lot tailgating, or at somebody’s historic family home, etc.

So I was an outsider at school. I knew that I would be before I went. I still wanted to go there and MADE my parents let me go. I still do not regret my attendance at said school because the actual school part was really great for the most part, but yet, I still get my hackles up when I see my classmates doing well. I sort of wanted them to be failures, just because I thought they were ditzy, stupid, well-cared for ugly girls with no soul, lots of money, and I wanted them to all have futures that would somehow prove that I was right and they were wrong.

I wanted them to have drug problems that resulted in them being destined for crappy apartments with loser guys.

In my mind, that is sort of what happened. Instead, evidence continues to surface that they are all fairly happy and well to-do. I know this because they all keep hiring my favorite Raleigh decorator. Is it weird that I have a favorite Raleigh decorator? Yeah, probably. Either way, I know it is happening and it makes me jealous and rageful. Then I get a cup of coffee and do something else, but then it comes back again later and I’m all hateful envious ALL OVER AGAIN.

See, I can’t hire my favorite Raleigh decorator. 1. She is in Raleigh and I am on the other side of the country 2. I can’t afford it. 3. I can’t have a fully decorated house. It would drive me crazy and I have a kid that is currently a hurricane and dogs that are a mess.

Doesn’t matter.

This all sends me into a self-doubt spiral because it has taken me FOREVER to just get to the point that I’m at. My husband, whom I love, is finally an attorney, I have a gorgeous hilarious toddler, and I have a job that demands begrudging respect from my clients that I get to boss around. And yet we have no money, no house, and our dogs are really old (whenever I see evidence of my former classmates, they always have a fucking puppy — not a decrepit, pees on the carpet, has no teeth left set of dogs.)

I know that none of this means shit. I know, in my heart, I’m happy. But sometimes, just sometimes, I’d like to rip their faces off for having editorial shoots in their decorated house (latest is not my favorite pictorial set, by the way — way too busy and full of stuff) showing the world that they had an elegant, typical Raleigh wedding to a dumb looking typical Raleigh guy (photo on a dresser), with their in-bred looking cockapoo puppy, and their expensive antiques.

Notice how all of that is visual? She probably has a HUGE drug problem and he’s already cheating on her. And the dog? I’m sure the dog is lovely.

I think I just want new furniture 🙂

Erectile Dysfunction

There’s no better way to be sure that your article reaches millions of people who don’t want to read it than by titling it after something I’m sure hundreds of men search out each day.* But this blog isn’t about men or even a penis. This blog is about my candles.

A candle, specifically a taper candle, is supposed to be a long, erect stick of wax. One that you can light on fire and eventually melt into nothingness. Although, if you are me, you never light your candles because you hate that all candles seem to be scented, and you have very vivid memories of your friend leaning over a birthday cake and his hair going up in flames. So, you don’t light the candles because you are actually afraid of fire and weird smells. But you love candlesticks and a candlestick without a candle is, simply put, a depressing sight. Depressing like Tom Cruise without a wife. Or John Travolta without a masseuse. It’s just not right. You know what’s more depressing  that those things? Erectile dysfunction.

I call this, the college try.

It’s completely flaccid.

A candle with erectile dysfunction, much like a man with erectile dysfunction, is typically suffering from a greater physical ailment. Unlike a man with erectile dysfunction, the candle does not suffer from performance anxiety, kidney failure, or cirrhosis.** The candle suffers from heat. Unlike a dog in heat, this does not mean that the candle needs to mate.

I live in Phoenix. As I am sure you know, it is hot here during the summers. In fact, the only place it is consistently hotter is in hell.*** And that is why it was catastrophically tragic when our air conditioner broke this week. I think the photos speak to the state of our household. The candles are wise.

The new air conditioner is much better than the old one. The candles and I are recovering. One candle underwent an amputation; the other two are vaguely directionally inclined. I am showered. Ryan seems unfazed by the whole ordeal. Like the men who take Viagra, my candles will need a little help from time to time. Unlike the men who take Viagra, my candles failing could set the house on fire. I told you, there’s a reason I don’t light the candles.

*I tried to google how many people search for erectile dysfunction every day, and I did not find any statistics worth sharing. In fact, I did not find anything worth sharing. Instead, I found a lot of articles on the embarrassment of coping with erectile dysfunction, an article on stimulus money was used to research erectile dysfunction, and one particularly brave blog titled “My Erectile Dysfunction and Me.” I was afraid to click on it. I just can’t do it.

**Things I can do? Click on dozens of articles about what causes erectile dysfunction. You see, I am the Googler: I’m the person whose smart phone is always within reach to research and settle a bet and who one day read 25 posts on rabies because it turns out that if you aren’t treated for rabies, they just tie you to a bed and wait for you to die. I’m dead serious. I fall down a lot of Wiki-holes.

***Yes, I know that there are deserts in the Middle East and Africa that get hotter than it does in Phoenix. But you know what? Those places cool down at night. Do you know what the low was one day last week? 91. That’s right. It was 4 in the morning and 91 degrees outside because cement holds onto heat like Gary Busey used to hold onto cocaine: burning hot and seeking more.

“I don’t really like my friends.”

Ever since moving to Prescott, Arizona, I’ve tried to like it. The weather is excellent — the summers are cool enough that you can go outside, the winters are cold enough that you can own coats and boots, and the air is dry but there are a few smattering of days when there is rain — just enough to find it romantic without getting to the point where you HATE. RAIN. (I’m looking at you, North Carolina.)

We have a gorgeous view of these ridiculous, naturally occurring boulders off of our decks and well, frankly, it seems absurd to be complaining. On paper, life is idyllic. And yet, I just can’t seem to be comfortable here.

I hate the friends I’ve made. Are they even friends? Let’s rephrase … the grownups I’ve met that we’ve spent a few outings with sap my energy. They don’t make me feel more alive but rather they make me want to be alone. Which isn’t probably how you are supposed to feel with friends.

I think the problem is that Jeffrey and I have fallen in with hipsters and the politically correct and much of this manifests itself with their food. They eat only sustainable, organic food, are vegetarian, gluten-free, and one family doesn’t do dairy. They discussed, for nearly a half hour, how hilarious and offensive the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store was. “I mean, pasta and taco shells aren’t ethnic!”

Oh really? One, they aren’t on the ethnic aisle. In fact, the taco shells are on their own aisle and the Asian foods are on the same aisle as pasta. And two, I’d like to see you find the hoisin sauce if they didn’t label it specifically Asian.

They run around with their Trader Joe’s nutty trail mix (no chocolate — what is the fucking point of trail mix if it doesn’t have M and M’s in it?) and look all aglow watching their kids eat it happily.

I joked about how difficult it would be to have everyone over for a cookout, and the gluten-free non-dairy, not seeing the humor said, “When were you thinking? You should probably run the menu by me to make sure we can eat it.”

Oh really? I think you just got uninvited.

Where are my shoe shopping girls? My “yes, let’s take a dance class so we can wear sequins” ladies. I’m sad. I don’t like my friends.


I work for a publisher. Dash all preconceptions you might have about tall, marbled offices. Force from your brain thoughts of arm chairs with plaid clad editors licking pencil tips as they scribble on pages.  We’re more chewing gum and shoelaces, walls lined with computers and sinews of network cables and wiring. My office is the Matrix’s bastard inbred southern cousin.

And today, it became a horror movie.

Because I had to crawl to the edge of this


To reboot this


Because I was alone in the office, there are no pictures of me teetering on the rolling chair as I tried to hoist myself onto the desk. There’s no evidence of me balancing precariously, 10 feet above the gray floor, contemplating what would happen if I fell. How long before someone discovered me? Would the technology just absorb me into the collective? Maybe I was always destined to be delivered to the technology. It has all happened before and will all happen again.

Or maybe watching Battlestar Gallactica after a night of horror movies was a bad idea.







Girls Night!*

I have an acquaintance — I’m loathe to call her a friend — who is constantly sending me invites for “girls nite [insert food du jour here].

What is this shit?

As women, are our lives so overrun by men that we need to escape them for specially made feminist enchiladas? Do we really need to discuss our menstrual cycles with that much detail that those meager men just cannot be present?

I like my husband. That’s why I married him. I rarely feel I need to “just be around some women” while sitting with him watching GCB on a Sunday night. He knows the difference between a clutch and a handbag. I know what an assist is. We enjoy each others company and this manifests itself most at mealtime when we, you know, talk to each other (or just catch Modern Family on hulu).

There seems to be a lot of “I need a boyfriend” or “I want to get married” or whatever out there happening (particularly with the acquaintance) but then the same women turn around and start trying to segregate the pasta nights.

Can’t we just have “fun nice people pasta night?”


*for some reason typing that made me think of Kristallnacht — which is unpleasant — but then made me giggle because it would be kind of funny if you had a friend named Crystal and you had a special nacht for her…  Though I’d never be friends with someone named Crystal.

Grinding to a halt (and other terrible puns)

I bought a new coffee pot. Finally.

I had been subsisting on this wee little four-cup Mr. Coffee machine for over a year. It had only one button, an on/off switch, that periodically would be flipped to the “on” position by Counter Objects being pushed into it and thus threatening our very continued survival in our home.

Fed up with our continued dance with damnation (or just a potential kitchen fire), I ordered the coffee pot that had been haunting my Amazon wishlist for two years.

So the new coffee pot arrived and I immediately set to work setting it up, buying it beans, and cleaning the drips off the sides with a clean cotton towel.

My new coffee pot, which I have named Gabby (the first time I’ve named an appliance), has a little built in grinder which takes whole beans, pulverizes them, dumps them into the brew basket, and then makes coffee with them. It houses the resulting brew in an insulated thermal carafe rather than using a hot plate (the better to keep the house from becoming engulfed in flames … and to keep my coffee from burning while sitting all day).

This is amazing. I can even program it to do all of this at a particular time. Fresh ground, fresh brewed, unburned coffee at my whim. Fantastic.

Except there is a problem. It has too many steps in the setup. And the one, so far, that keeps getting forgotten is the emptying of the grounds basket. Previously in my life with thermal carafes, the step that was missed was emptying the old coffee out of the carafe and thus causing a coffee flood of Biblical proportions on my countertops.

This is worse.

Where as the Biblical coffee floods resulted in some cursing and a very clean post-coffee apocalypse countertop, the new mistake creates the following issues:

  1. bad coffee as the water is filtered through any new grounds that could squish in over old grounds that have been just settled there since the morning before
  2. jammed up coffee grounds in the grinder portion
  3. me thinking I can catch it and save the day — this gets its own number in the list because this is always a bad way for me to feel
  4. No. 3 results in coffee ground all over the counter, every dishtowel in sight, and sludgy coffee drips all over the machine, the floor, the dogs, my face, and in the carafe.

Some days you should just go to Starbucks before attempting to make coffee.