Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Small Victory for Smart

We have Paris Hilton to thank for so many things: increased sales in dog clothes, the return of big ugly sunglasses and a small upsurge in jailhouse religion. Wonder if she made a donation to the Gideons out of gratitude for the bible she clung to in jail? I’m afraid her biggest contribution to society may have been a general downturn in the ambition of some young women. We seem to have a lot of very young women who think you can glide by in life on a smile, three inches of cleavage and a tilt of the head. There are plenty of smart, ambitious young women out there, so I don’t want to paint them all with the “broad” brush. However, dumb is back, and it’s driving me crazy.

When I was growing up in the seventies the Gloria Steinhams, Shirley Chisholms and Billie Jean Kings of this country were motivating us little girls to be the best and brightest we could be. Daily, the dominant figures in the media pounded into my little nearsighted, brunette head that an education was my ticket to success. My parents drilled that message into me too, but they were reinforced by the images and messages on TV and in books and magazines. Of course, when you are severely nearsighted and skinny as a POW you don’t exactly pin your hopes on using your looks to get ahead. Nevertheless, no one else was sending me that message, either. The country was shutting down its Playboy Bunny clubs and burning their Cross Your Heart bras.

It’s just not that way these days. While parents and the realists of this world are still preaching education, the 24-hour media circus is glutted with Paris, Nicole and other folks famous for showing up and looking good. And don’t forget Britney and Lindsey who have some talent but get more attention for getting drunk and waving their hoo-hoo in our face. Dumb is cute. Young women are using their sexuality instead of their brains to make a buck. The Playboy Bunnies are back. They even have their own reality show. Jessica gets movie deals because she fills out a pair of shorts and can’t tell the difference between chicken and tuna. We are backsliding with all of this giggling and chest thrusting.

I want you to know that I’m doing my part to stop it in its tracks. My latest attempt was last Thursday night while I was standing in line at the Porta-Potties with several hundred other people at the Jimmy Buffett concert. The lines were clearly marked and people were trying to be considerate and efficient because we all wanted to get back to our seats before the end of intermission. Each line was served by two Porta-Potties. As I neared the front of my line, a sweet young thing came walking up next to me, smiled and said to the elderly fellow in front of me, “I’m starting a new line.” (Insert excessive giggling and chest thrusting here.) Apparently he was too surprised to speak or distracted by the cleavage. Not me. Maybe it was the margaritas at work, but I wanted her to know that cute business wasn’t getting her a free pass to the front of the line. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “There is no new line. THIS line serves these two bathrooms, and the line starts back THERE.” (Insert pointing of figure to the end of the line.) I had a flash of Kathy Bates in “Fried Green Tomatoes” when she tells those two girls she’s older and has more insurance and then proceeds to ram their car. “Tawanda!” was her battle cry. Sweet young thing seemed surprised by my tawanda moment. I continued to glare at her so she dropped her head and stood there longingly while we passed her by and used the pot. Of course, in my haste to keep her out of the Porta-Pottie, I opened the door too fast and exposed the backside of a man taking a whiz. Oops! A casualty in my war on stupid girls.

Monday, July 30, 2007

I am my Mother

The pace at which I am becoming my mother is accelerating at an alarming rate. You spend your entire youth swearing that you will never do the things your parents do. Teen Angel is at that point now. Little does she know that no matter how hard she tries not to, one day she will be wearing stretchy pants, singing too loud and dancing in her underwear with the dog. Somewhere in your mid-thirties you realize that you WILL be just like your parents and do the same stuff that seems so dumb when you are a kid. I remember the exact moment I first realized my evolution into Baby Ruth had begun. I was trying on shoes in a department store and couldn’t decide between two pair. One pair was cute as Johnny Depp’s butt but uncomfortable. The other pair was low to the ground and a little on the frumpy side. I was leaning toward the frumpy, comfortable pair when it hit me like a sledgehammer that that was the exact choice my mother would have made. “*@$&!! This was NOT going to happen”, I said out loud to no one in particular. It was the beginning of a transformation that sneaks up behind me when I least expect it and scares me so hard I almost wet my pants. The leaky bladder is part of the evolution, too. Sigh. I was hoping to skip that gene.

The latest slide into the Baby Ruth zone started two weeks ago. Every night I wake up because I’m too hot. I’m hot….all the time…even when other people aren’t. I know it’s July in Kentucky, but this is a different kind of hot. My core temperature has a mind of its own. I’m kind of young for menopause, but it appears I could be an over achiever. I can’t stand the covers, can’t stand the sheets and certainly can’t stand the dog curling up against my backside. Whew! He’s going to have to find a spot at the end of the bed. Hubby has always kept the house pretty chilly at night, and he’s still comfortable. I, on the other hand, am sweating like a thief in Sunday school. The problem is twofold, because the moment I wake up in the middle of the night, my bladder kicks in overdrive. Gotta pee it screams, so I have to stumble in a daze to the bathroom, praying I will not whack my toe on the bedpost I know is dangerously close to my path. I also have to pray that the TP wars in our house will not leave me empty handed because NO ONE is going to wake up and bring me toilet paper no matter how loud I yell. I narrowly managed the five square minimum at three o’clock this morning. As I climbed back in bed after my potty trip I thought about how nice it would be to keep a fan by the bed. My eyes flew open and I almost swore out loud. Ahhh! Fan by the bed?! There she is again. My mother, creeping up behind me. Can stretchy pants be far behind?

Saturday, July 28, 2007


"There's a little bit of fruitcake left in everyone of us."-Fruitcakes by Jimmy Buffett

Boy, was he right. I saw plenty of fruitcakes this week. They were lots of fun and mighty nice. Let me introduce you to some of their fruitcake madness.

Just a few of the 22,500 who gathered together at Cinncinati, where the Parrot Head thing all began many years ago. Cincinnati is proud of its Parrot Head legacy.
Here I am in the middle of all that mess. Note the lovely flamingo deely-bobbers. You can't see my parrot flip-flops, but they were quite the hit. People kept stopping me and asking me where I got them. I met a lot of new friends that way. Leave it to a first born child to find a way to get noticed in this crowd.
See the friendly police officer on the left. He's the one in the vest. He was kind of cranky. It seems that drawing this duty is NOT considered a plum assignment. I wonder why?

Maybe it has something to do with all the rowdy tailgaters across the street. Here is a tiny portion of them. They were friendly folks, especially the man wearing the Corona carton for a hat.
The people in the colorful RV were friendly folks, too. I was especially fond of their artwork on their RV. Nothing screams Parrot Head like a fin on the roof.

Except maybe sunglasses, a coconut bra and a grass skirt on the front.

These guys couldn't get into the Boy Scouts with their behavior, but they certainly were prepared. If you look closely(in the middle), you'll see the commercial smoothie maker they brought with them. It was running on a generator. It was a little more reliable than the blender some other folks were running off of their car battery.

There was even a beach. We were invited to play in it. I'm telling you these Parrot Heads are friendly people. They even helped me to find my salt.

Found the Salt

In the interest of not posting anything that could be used against me in future Senate confirmation hearings, I will not tell all. I will admit to having a large time. A REALLY large time. I have pictures but have to get them developed. That's because I had to take them the old fashioned way, with a disposable camera. Cameras aren't allowed into the concert, so you have to sneak one in. Any unapproved items (ie..cameras, blankets, coolers, alcohol, beach balls over a certain size) are halted at the door and put in an unattended barrell where you can try to find them after the show. Yeah, right. Not wanting to lose a digital camera, I opted for the disposable one. I saw many unusual sights: beaches in the back of pickup trucks, wild outfits and one naked backside at a porta-potty (more on that later). We stayed safe and a good time was had by all. Can't wait 'til next year! More info to come later today, but now I'm off to Wal-Mart to get the pictures developed...and to buy some salt.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Searching for my Lost Shaker of Salt

I am all tingly today. That’s because I’m headed to Margaritaville when I leave work. We are Cincinnati bound for tomorrow night’s Jimmy Buffett concert there. 22,500 crazy people dressed in wacky outfits will come together on the banks of the Ohio River to celebrate leisure. It’s where the whole Parrothead movement started many years ago, and the folks there know how to have a good time. They’ll start tailgating tomorrow morning. It raises people watching to a whole new level. You really don’t have to drink to have a good time. I’ll probably have a margarita, though. Or two. And a cheeseburger.

My outfit is ready: grass skirt, leis, flamingo Mardi Gras beads, flamingo sunglasses and satin parrot flip-flops. Teen Angel is mortified that I will wear that get-up in public. The next time she tries to walk out the door in butt crack revealing jeans and a T-shirt that says “I Pooted”, I’m not going to say a word. I’m just going to quietly change into my Parrothead outfit and sit down beside her in the car. I won’t change until she does. It’s similar to the dirty dancing technique or kissing in public tactic her dad and I use to show her how silly she’s acting sometimes.

By this time tomorrow, I should be standing in a lot on Kellogg Avenue, amidst cars with giant shark fins on top, men in coconut bras and grass skirts and women with silly hats. I might take a picture. Or two. And make a few new friends.

The scenery will be fun, but the music is really what I enjoy most. Jimmy’s music is fun. It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a little bit of ballad. It’s easy to sing along to and lends itself to audience participation. I might dance during a song. Or two. And sing out loud.

Why will thousands of people dress up in silly outfits, drink a few drinks and sing some songs? Because it’s a few hours of escapism; an opportunity to set aside your worries for a little while and pretend you are someone else in a far away place where it’s warm, and sunny and feels like vacation. A place where you’d like to spend a day. Or two. And relax.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Keeping the Pace

Have you ever been feeling really good about yourself and something you’ve done only to realize later that it didn’t compare to the accomplishment of someone quietly standing right beside you? It God’s way of keeping us humble, I guess. I spend a lot of time being humble.

I ran a 5K Saturday morning at the local park. It was my third race and the site of the first race I ever ran. My goal was to beat my time from the first race. I’m still pretty new to all of this racing stuff, so I have no illusions about my abilities. I’m really slow compared to the master runners. The overall winner ran a 5:36 mile. That’s twice as fast as me. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. Maybe someday. I worked really hard this time to pace myself, to rest appropriately and to eat all the right stuff prior to the race. The first time I raced I didn’t know anything about carb loading or tapering or all that other fancy running stuff. Now I know to eat my whole wheat spaghetti the day before the race, to get at least eight hours of sleep the two nights before the race and not to jump out there with all the fast guys when the starting buzzer goes off.

As I headed toward the back of the line-up with the other slow folks, I laughed and joked about speed with a business acquaintance who said he wasn’t really a runner but wanted to participate because it was a charity event. His goal was to finish, so I wished him luck and assured him he would be fine. I put on my ear buds, adjusted my iPod and tried to stay focused on my goal. Stick to your pace. Stick to your pace, I kept telling myself. Sometimes you feel good when you run. Sometimes you feel like a tired old poop. I felt great Saturday morning. I kept slightly ahead of my training pace, hitting my first mile at the ten minute mark. That’s good for me. I did a second ten minute mile and had good energy during the third and final mile. I even had some kick at the end. I hit the finish line two and half minutes faster than the first time I raced. I was beaming when I hit the shoot. I thought I might even have a shot at placing in my age division.

I stuck around to watch the youth race and to see the awards. As I was mingling around the crowd, that business acquaintance walked up to me and congratulated me on a good run. Well thanks, I said, still feeling pretty pleased about my time. He told me that he sees me running around town on my lunch hour and asked me why I run. I told him about all of the heart disease and diabetes in my family. “I understand,” he said. “I had brain surgery last year. I had a tumor removed.” I was floored and for the first time, noticed the scar on the front of his scalp. He went on to explain that the race was his way of celebrating his survival and his recovery. I got the feeling that he hadn’t shared that with many folks. He hurried off to get to his son’s soccer match, and I just stood there for a minute, absorbing what he had told me. It suddenly put a whole new meaning to the notion of racing. It’s not really how fast you run, it’s the desire to keep running. Hmmm. Humbled again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Going to The Dogs

“I want to be like Buddy”, I thought this morning as I stood in my driveway and watched my neighbor’s dog sprint home. Buddy is a free spirit…a traveler and an adventure seeker. He has the heart of a child and the soul of a gypsy. His tail is always wagging, and he always seems happy. I think he developed his wanderlust when he rode all over the country as a pup with his owner, a long haul truck driver. They traveled the lower 48 states for a year or so. When the trips got too long and Buddy got too big, Buddy ended up with the trucker’s dad, my neighbor Mr. Tom. To say that Mr. Tom is Buddy’s owner is not quite accurate. Buddy belongs to no one but belongs to everyone. He makes the whole neighborhood (and a few nearby) his home. Mr. Tom feeds him and so do ten other people. Even though Buddy roams the subdivision, he doesn’t bother anyone and he doesn’t damage stuff, so most folks tolerate him. Except for Mrs. P.. She doesn’t like it when he tinkles on her lilies. He doesn’t pee on anyone else’s plants, so I think he does it just to spite her because she’s so grumpy. She really is. Ask anyone on the block.

When I saw him at dawn this morning he was slipping home like a teenager who had snuck out for a beer party. He had a bounce in his step and a twinkle in his eye. Goodness only knows what he had been up to. He’s a hunter, a gatherer and a lover. He didn’t have any squirrels in his mouth so I suspect last night’s adventure had more to do with affection than with game. He’s a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy, although he was pretty smitten by that little female lab that showed up about a year ago. She had wandered far away from home and was obviously attracted to Buddy’s free spirit. They had two days of romping and running together before her owners found her and took her home. As she pulled away he seemed panicked. He moped for a week before he took to the streets again.

He has street smarts, too. He knows how to stay out of trouble, and he knows to keep away from moving cars. He’s not interested in barking at the UPS man, and he never snaps at kids. He just wants to have a good time…all the time. He never seems to have a care in the world. That’s why I want to be like Buddy….sometimes. I love my life, but we all have those little moments when we’re tired and stressed out and we wish for something different. Sometimes I want to be a free spirit; an adventure seeker without a care in the world. I want to see the world, meet a lot of new people and have lots of fun. I want to romp and roam and not be responsible for anything. The next time I’m feeling down, I’m going to run with Buddy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Class of '82

I can honestly say I had a good time at my 25th class reunion last night. I was a little apprehensive going into this thing, and I never could pinpoint why. Probably just a few of those old teenage insecurities bubbling to the surface. I even panicked a little yesterday morning when I thought a big zit had surfaced overnight on my nose. It hadn't, but how ironic would a zit have been? The nerves disappeared pretty quickly last night because it didn't take long to settle into some good conversation and wander through pleasant memories. Hubby and I stayed late.

I wasn't surprised by the number of folks who turned out, but I was definately surprised at how hard it was to recognize a lot of my old classmates, especially the men. I spent two hours trying to figure out who one guy was, only to learn that it was a boy that I went to school with all through elementary and high school. He had a crush on me in 6th grade, and left a sweetheart note in my desk every day for months. What little hair he has now is so gray that he didn't look like his old self. Another guy went unrecognized by just about everyone for the first hour because he was missing his fluffy trademark curls. We had so much hair back in the 70's and 80's it apparantly defined us more than we realized.

I was also stunned at how some folks turned out. One of our biggest partiers in high school is now a Sunday school teacher and a member of his church choir. Another wild one is now a part-time pastor. Who would have thunk? Remember that Garth Brooks song about unanswered prayers? That song drifted through my mind after I spent time talking to an old crush. Sometimes we don't know how lucky we are. A couple of the mean girls aren't mean anymore. Several of the partiers are still crawling around in the bottom of a bottle looking for the key to happiness. They were the ones still lingering over the bar when I left. Hubby had never seen most of my old classmates before but was able to tag which ones were the wild children in high school based on their behavior in the first hour of the reunion. He also shared my suspicions that an old buddy of mine has had a boob job. I hope she didn't notice me eyeballing her chest out of the corner of my eyes in an attempt to assess their perkiness and size.

I'm pleased that so many folks are leading very successful lives and have beautiful children. It was great catching up with them and spending lots of time with my old BFF E. She and I have been buddies since kindergarten. I don't get to see her enough these days. I was a little disappointed that a few people were still obviously trying too hard to impress each other and to climb the slippery rungs of an old social ladder. Some folks don't seem to have changed at all, and that's a shame. They're still living in the past. What's that saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same. We've all grown older, but not everyone has grown up. Wait a minute. Isn't that the name of my blog.

PS..Hubby and I went to the nearby casino after we left the party. We're not big gamblers so we usually blow $25 apiece and leave. Within an hour he won $155 and I won $100. We knew it wouldn't get any better than that so we cashed in our winnings and hit our hotel room. It was the first time in years we've had a date that involved romance, alcohol, rock n' roll and gambling. We didn't get to bed until 2am. My overriding thought while we were squinting at each other at breakfast (um, brunch) this morning? We are getting too old for this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Working for the Weekend

Lawsie mercy! I am ready for the weekend. This has been a crazy week. Nothing came easy, every day presented a new challenge, and by yesterday afternoon everything seemed downright silly. I need some rest, but it may be a hectic weekend.

I’m running a 5K in the morning. A cool front moved through last night, knocking down the temperatures, so it should be fairly comfortable during the run. Thanks goodness! It was hotter than Guam around here earlier in the week. Please, Lord, let me be faster than the senior citizens this time.

My 25th class reunion is tomorrow night. I hope all the mean girls from high school are fatter, grayer and more wrinkled than I am. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I’m supposed to be past that, but I’d be lying if I said I was. I have the all important dress; not too sexy, but figure flattering. Something that holds everything in place while making it appear that I don’t need any special undergarments to hold everything in place. Want to make a bet on how many women are wearing Spanx tomorrow night? I have the shoes, too; stylish but not so tall that I’ll break my neck when I’m dancing to the REO Journey Van Halen Wagon hit parade. (Did you notice the nod to Lover Boy in the title of this post?) Hopefully, no one will notice they are Dr. Scholl’s sandals. My nails are freshly polished, and I used the derma-brasion yesterday.

Speaking of nail polish, I had a good giggle yesterday when the gynecologist complemented me on my toenail polish in the midst of the exam. When she realized how odd that sounded, she tried to recover by telling me how many pretty nail polish colors they get to see every day. I’ll be that’s not all they see. The second goofy moment of the afternoon came about thirty minutes later during my mammogram. I got a compliment from the radiologist on my ability to stay perfectly still while standing on my toes, holding my breath and having my boob squeezed between two plates. Like I had anywhere to go? I think I’m not the only one who needs rest this weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Move Over Oprah, I've Got a List, Too

Oprah has her own book club and her annual list of favorite things. I’m not as rich or famous as she is, and I surely don’t have enough clout to influence buyer habits or a Presidential election, but I’m going to give you my opinion on some stuff anyway. I have lots of opinions and live under the misguided notion that everyone wants to hear them. My family has quit listening to them (I am officially banned from talking about politics at home), so I’m forced to share them with strangers. Sorry. Here we go.

The best book I’ve read recently: The Glass Castle. I could not put down this book. Jeannette Walls, who writes for MSNBC, has penned the story of her turbulent childhood. She and her siblings managed to overcome irresponsible and neglectful parents and become successful folks. You’ll be amazed at the hardships they were subjected to and their spirit of survival. It made me reflect on those children in elementary school that seemed so dirty and odd but were probably just poor and hungry. I was too young to see it then. This book will make you a little sad but very inspired. I must admit it did make me want to kick some a** by about page 82.

My Favorite Things:

1. My Asics Running Shoes. Nike gets all the glory, but Asics are way better. These are absolutely the most comfortable athletic shoe I’ve ever worn, and I’m kind of hard to please when it comes to sneakers. The clerk in the store told me these would be much better than those sexy Nike gel things I was trying on. She was right. They didn’t need breaking in, didn’t cause blisters and feel good every time I wear them. I was possibly the last runner to hear about Asics, but if you were the next to last, I’m telling you to jog to the store right now and get ya’ sum. They were $85 on sale, BUT they are worth it, especially if you have old feet, like me. Mama was right. Good shoes are important.

2. Wal-Mart Fitted T-shirts. I bought two of these last year and wanted ten more, but my Wal-Mart sold out, and I was too stupid to remember I could go on line and order them. I now own eight in various colors. I wear them every other day, especially the white ones. I dress them up and dress them down. They are loose enough to be comfortable but fitted enough to keep from looking like a baggy old workout shirt. The fact that they cost $5 apiece makes my toes tingle.

3. Smart Water. I’m not one to spend money on bottled water. I like my tap water. However, when I exert myself in the summer heat, I need to put electrolytes back into my body, and I absolutely hate sports drinks. They taste like salty Kool-Aid to me. Smart Water is just like a sports drink but tastes like plain old water. It’s just what I need, and at $1.59 for a big tall bottle, I can afford it for those times when I run or work really hard in the heat.

4. Elemis Sunscreen. Okay, Oprah always has one favorite thing on her list that she raves about and forgets that it’s too expensive for us Average Joe’s to buy. It’s that one item that makes me shout at the TV, “Ope, what ARE you thinking? No one is TV Land is going to pay $600 for a sweater.” This falls into that category. I still can’t believe I bought this, but I’m glad I did. Hubby found this sunscreen by accident on a cruise. He spent the day by the deck pool while the rest of us went to a beach. He ran out of sunscreen and bought this because it was the only thing he could find. He had to pay $43 for the tube. You heard me right. $43. When I got back to the boat and found out how much he paid for it, I chalked it up to too many Coors Lights fogging his judgement. Then….I used some of it…..and fell in love. It was smooth. It was creamy. It didn’t stick to me. It kept me from burning, every time. It moisturized my skin, and it was SPF 19, right in between that sunburn inducting SPF 5 and the stay pale as paste SPF 30. We squeezed every last drop out of that tube after vacation and longed for more. I found it on the web, longed for it for weeks and finally broke down and bought some for $43 plus shipping. I should be ashamed that I spent the same amount on sunscreen that some families spend for groceries in a week. I’m not. That’s how much I love it.

There you have it, my faithful readers, my favorite stuff. Feel free to share with me your favorite stuff. I’m open to other people’s opinions. My husband would argue against that, so let’s not tell him I said so, okay? By the way, who do you like in the Presidential race?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday. Yea for me! I’m like a little kid. I love birthdays. Everybody is nice to you, and you get cake. What more could you ask for? I can’t believe I’m 43. My parents can’t either. I saw Zeke and Baby Ruth this morning, and they were shaking their heads that they have a child that old. Every year, on my birthday, Mama always tells the story about the day I was born. It seems she sat down and ate 2000 ears of corn and 16 gazillion tomatoes all by herself and to this day, she believes that’s why I love corn and tomatoes. During the summer, I eat about three meals a week of just corn and tomatoes.

I was one of 4,027,000 babies born in 1964. So were Chris Farley, Courtney Love and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. It was a good year, don’t you think. On the day I was born, six days of race riots began in Harlem. I’m not sure my mother noticed. She was too busy eating corn and tomatoes. Dad was too busy trying to scrape up money for the hospital bill. It was also the day Pete Rose hit the only grand slam home run of his career. Within 24 hours the South Vietnamese Prime Minister would call for expanding the Vietnam War into North Vietnam and in less than three weeks the U.S. would begin bombing Vietnam. I had no way of knowing then that the baby faced Uncle D. who held me in my first days of life would be forever changed by that war. Even though he had a much tougher edge after the war, he still had a soft spot in his heart for me. He would buy me a banana split at the DQ, even though I couldn’t eat it all.

The average yearly income in 1964 was $5,880, but my parents were scrimping by on much less. President Johnson had declared a “War on Poverty” that year, and Baby Ruth and Zeke were fighting it with everything they had. A gallon of gas may have cost only 25 cents then, but it probably seemed like a million-dollars to a young man fresh out of the Army and his bride of one year. He alleviated his stress by puffing away on Camel cigarettes. 60% of folks still smoked then, and it would be another decade before Dad kicked the habit.

Television was a growing influence. A lot of the shows that debuted that year, “Bewitched”, “Addams Family”, “Gomer Pyle” and “Gilligan’s Island” were the shows that became my favorites when I got a little older. I wish I had a nickel for every time I watched a “Gilligan’s Island” rerun after school. I would be rubbing elbows with Warren Buffett. “Another World” debuted weeks before I was born, and mama was hooked from the beginning. During my preschool years she and I would have snack time during “Another World”. We usually ate oranges. I think it was her way of keeping my mouth full and quiet while she watched her soap. I came out of the womb yakking.

On the surface a lot has changed in the last 43 years. TV is definitely edgier, and the cost of living is a whole lot higher. But some things aren’t so different. Mama says it was a long, hot summer the year she gave birth to me. It’s hot and sticky now, we’re still fighting the war on poverty, and our troops are in a foreign land battling a war we can’t seem to get out of. What's that old saying? The more things change, the more they stay the same. I think this world needs more cake.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What's That Smell?

Sometimes you just come up empty handed. No matter how resourceful you are, you sometimes stumble into a situation that stinks, and there is no easy way out. That was me yesterday...literally stinking up the place. I ran on my lunch hour, outside. It was hot and sunny. I’ve conditioned myself to run in warm weather so I can tolerate up to about 92 degrees, but I sweat like a hooker in Sunday school. I sweat like a man. Really. Back sweat, scalp sweat, pit sweat, drip between the boobs sweat, belly sweat. Even need new underwear sweat. It was about 90 yesterday when I ran, so I was dripping wet when I got back to our building. To make matters worse when I hit our air conditioned building, my sweat glands hit overdrive trying to adjust to the cool air, and started spewing overtime from every pore. It’s not very pretty, and I could smell myself, so I know others could, too. Usually, this isn’t a problem because we have a locker room with showers, and I can shower and freshen up before going back to work. I have done this hundreds of times. I have refined my routine so I can maximize my workout during lunch, so imagine my surprise when I hit the shower nozzle and it didn’t come on. Well, it spit out about five drops and started sucking air. Hmm, something must be broken, I thought. Not to fear. I’ll use the second shower, I thought smugly. I twisted the nozzle on the second shower. Same spit. Same sucking air. Crap! Self, I said, you could be in a pickle.

Not wanting to roam our hallways in a sticky sports bra and shorts, I slipped my head into the door of the lunch room and asked if we were having a little water problem. By the look on everyone’s face, I knew that once again I had been last on the gossip chain and had missed the news about the broken water heaters. It seems they had turned off the water on that end of the building to repair them. The only good news was that I had not stripped off naked before trying the shower. Otherwise, I would have bared it all for the men working above the ceiling.

I don’t live close enough to drive home and shower. My only option was to slink into a bathroom in another part of the building and wash off in the sink like a homeless person in Grand Central Station. It was not that effective in killing my stink. The deodorant cover-up didn’t help much either. I hid out in my office the rest of the afternoon trying not to get too close to anyone. Thank goodness I didn’t have any appointments. I’m in public relations for heaven’s sake. To make matters worse, I had a meeting at church right after work, so I got to stink up two places instead of one.

From now on I will check the showers BEFORE I run, but from the ribbing I’ve taken so far today, I’m afraid I’ve added a chapter to the list of stories my coworkers will use to roast me with at my retirement dinner. Sometimes life stinks.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The TP Shuffle

We play Russian Roulette at our house…with toilet paper. It’s not as dangerous as using a gun but just as scary. We tend to enter the bathroom without checking for TP first, and there is about a 20% chance we will come up empty handed when we reach for the Charmin. Those odds aren’t very high, but the stakes are enormous. Because there are only three of us, and we all run in various directions, there is a good chance any one of us will be in the house alone when we hit the bathroom. Rarely are there reinforcements to come running to your rescue when you spin the chamber and your number comes up. We are foolish, foolish people who never seem to learn.

I think it all boils down to laziness and logistics. None of us wants to fetch it because the only decent place we have to store the big 24 roll pack is in the garage. The garage is far, far away from our bathrooms. Also, there is apparently some kind of unwritten rule that mom is the only one who can put a new roll on the dispenser. About once a week I slap on my martyr badge and trek to the garage for about six rolls. I store them in the vanity in the bathroom that Teen Angel and I use. This however, only leads to the TP Shuffle. When Hubby runs out in his bathroom, he steals from ours. We steal back and so on and so on. It’s a vicious circle that leaves you without a square when you least expect it. Hubby even tries to hide a roll, but I’m onto his little game. I know where his secret stash is. Tip: If you are ever sitting in our living room and hear banging on the other side of the West wall, it means Hubby is in the back bathroom and has lost a round in the paper wars. If you really want to have some fun just pretend like you don’t hear him for about ten minutes. What can I say? We’re old married folks. We take our laughs where we can get them.

We’re not alone in this battle against the empty roll. I read the other day where Kimberly Clark has developed an automatic TP dispenser for public restrooms. It’s to save on paper. Get this. They have conducted studies to determine how much paper this gizmo should shoot out at you for each wipe. The magic number? Five squares. Five squares???!!! That’s barely enough to blot my lipstick let alone blot my backside. The next time you go to the bathroom, peel off five squares and see how much it is. It’s not that much. Who uses just five squares? Well, that was a part of the study, too. It seems most Europeans like the number five, but in our typical “go big or go home” fashion, Americans use at least the length of our arm when we peel off the TP. Frankly, I like at least a dozen sheets unless of course, I’m at home and we’re near the end of the roll. In which case, I’ll take as few as four to avoid “officially” emptying the roll and having to go to the garage for more.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

And the Award Goes to....

You decide. That's right. After a couple of days of mulling over the recipients that I'd like to forward the Reflection Award to I've decided to let you pick. That's because I'm so new to the blogging world that I haven't yet created a list of favorite fellow bloggers. I don't have a lot of free time to sample many fellow bloggers, so I have just a few I read somewhat regularly. I'm asking my lurkers to pick a favorite uplifting blogger and forward this award to them for me. Just let me know which blogger you picked so I can sample them for myself. I figure this serves two purposes. It keeps the award moving, and it helps me to find some other interesting blogs.

I hope this doesn't seem like a cop out, but it's the best solution I can think of. I WILL give a shout out to a couple of my readers. First of all, Mia. Thanks so much Mia for giving me the award. I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness, and your faithful readership. You really know how to make a gal feel appreciated. Also, thanks to Janjanmom for stopping in on a regular basis and posting. And for helping me to stumble into this nifty little thing called blogging. Everyone has a different reason for blogging. For me, it's a way of developing the habit of writing every day, so that hopefully, one day I can start writing a novel that's rolling around in my head and my heart. Even if no one ever reads it, my goal is to get it on paper before I get too old to type. It's one of the items on my "things I must do before I die" list. To the rest of you who allow us to glimpse into your world through y0ur posts, I say thanks. It satisfies my curious soul when I get the opportunity to peek.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Little Big Town

I have just realized that I made a mistake in the previous post. I did not grow up in a town with a population of 3500. It was 7200. That's what I get for proofreading quickly. Actually, I didn't grow up IN the town. I lived about ten miles outside of town...way out in the country...but it was the closest community I could claim for a hometown. It's where we shopped, visited family and worked.

When I was growing up it literally was a one stoplight town, and the light became a yellow flashing light at 10pm. The only fast food in town was a Dairy Queen that closed down for the winter months and a homegrown drive-in called "Crown Burger". We had a BBQ joint that seated about fifteen people and served cold bottled Pepsis from a cooler by the front door, and a movie theater that folded in 1977. I believe "Star Wars" was the last movie that played there. We had two grocery stores, an old Ben Franklin store, a Western Auto and three funeral homes. And there was a church on every corner. After all, it is the buckle of the bible belt.

I didn't mind growing up in a small town. It's a very secure feeling to know every street and road. Everybody knows everybody and even if you don't, you recognize their family name. You know who folks are when you walk down the street. You generally have one crazy guy roaming the streets, but no one's afraid of him because everyone knows him on a first name basis. I can't imagine growing up anywhere else. I was raised during a time when kids could roam the roads for hours on their bicycles and never have to worry about strangers. You could wander away from your parents at the community 4th of July picnic and not cause a panic when you didn't show up again until after the fireworks. Hitchhikers were still safely thumbing their way across the countryside when I was coming up. It was a peacefuly, easy feeling as The Eagles liked to sing.

A lot has changed in hmmm-something years. A gambling boat came to my little town several years ago and brought with it a fair amount of properity. It's a little big town now. There are several stoplights and at least a dozen fast food places. There's even a McDonalds. The old BBQ joint has a new owner because the old owner got elected mayor. The food is just not the same, but it's worth the warm fuzzy memories to slide in there and grab a small cheeseburger with pickle and onion. There is still a church on every corner, and the funeral home is still where all the old folks go to socialize. The population hasn't changed much because the casino brings in visitors who leave as fast as they arrive. I think that helps the community maintain its small town feel. I hope it doesn't ever grow so large that it loses that charm. There just isn't enough of that anymore. I live about thirty minutes away, so I don't get there that often, but I like knowing that it's there...just in case I need a cheeseburger and a memory.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Jesus Take the Wheel, Please

A coworker took his daughter to get her driver’s license the other day. She passed her test. She gave him a ride back to work, and he watched her drive off alone for the first time. He said it was one of the hardest things he’s done so far as a parent. Hubby and I are about two years away from that day, and that’s still not enough time for me to prepare for that moment. I won’t sleep a wink once Teen Angel turns sixteen. Every sentence I utter to her will end in “drive carefully…don’t have sex….don’t have sex and drive carefully.” Since she will likely read this within the next couple of days, let me repeat that. Drive carefully. Don’t have sex. Oh, and study hard. She goes to high school this fall, and I’m not sure my colon can handle the next four years. What are the worst fears for the parents of a teenaged girl? Cars and boys. What’s most exciting to a teenaged girl? Cars and boys. I expect high school will be like the presidency. Every time we elect a new U.S. President he looks fresh and eager. Halfway through his term he looks as if he’s aged 20 years. It’s a rough gig, and so is parenting. I won’t be fifty when Teen Angel graduates but I’ll look it.

The car thing scares me so much because I have several friends whose teenagers have had serious wrecks. One kid hit a bridge and burned up the car. She’s lucky to be alive. Another had a head-on crash that put her in the hospital for a week and physical therapy for months. I’m telling you. I’m not ready for this kind of worry. I now understand why my mother was so cranky while I was learning how to drive. One of the biggest arguments we ever had when I was a teenager was over driving. I had my learner’s permit and asked her if I could drive home from the grocery store. We had about a ten mile drive between the nearest town (population 3500-Sal-ute!) and our house. For months she had refused to let me drive to town, but coming home she would let me drive once we had turned off the highway and onto our gravel road. This amounted to maybe a mile or a mile and a half. To a fifteen year old a month away from taking her driver’s test that’s nothing. On this particular sticky, June day I asked if I could drive home. She said yes and….proceeded to drive almost all the way home. The farther she drove, the more I stewed in my sour adolescent juices. Once we hit the gravel road, she pulled over and began to trade places. “NO”, I said. “I have mastered this little section of road, thank you, and if that’s the most you can let me drive, then I don’t want to drive at all”. I was FULL of attitude….the kind I hate today. I don’t remember everything that was said after that, but it was pretty ugly. It was one of those moments as a kid when you know you’re stepping over the line but you throw yourself on the sword and jump over the line with both feet anyway because you’re….well, you’re just young and stupid. I never did drive that day. The next time I drove was a couple of days later when I was with dad, and we were in his old Chrysler Imperial. He didn’t really care how much I drove that car because it was indestructible. He let me drive for several miles, and when we got home I made sure that mom knew how far I had driven. She didn’t say a word, although she probably wanted to pinch my head off. I have always thought I won that argument. 27 years later I realize that my prize is worrying about my little punk when she takes the wheel.

Thanks Mia!

Thanks Mia for the honor! How exciting. I am very humbled and very pleased that you appreciate my ramblings about underwear, dress shopping and parenting parents. I know that even if no one else out there is reading my stuff, you are, and that's very reassuring. Thanks again! Now, whom to pass it onto? Hmmm. I'm thinking.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Skinny on Me

I realize I could get in big trouble by posting on this topic, but I’m going to dip my toe in the water anyway. I’m what they call a skinny girl. I looked like I had rickets until I was about 17 years old. I’m a little thicker now, but I’m not going to win any curvy contests. Hold on! I’m not bragging. A good dose of steroids could pack fifteen pounds on these hips by Labor Day. And after you hit forty, your metabolism goes on strike. You let down your guard, turn your back and bam! Ten pounds have hitched a ride on your thighs while you weren’t looking. I’ve learned to never say never when it comes to weight, because it can change with the wind. I’m just bringing up the subject because of all the emotions it generates. Weight makes us grumpy, sad, anxious and downright crazy. Weight seems to control women’s emotions almost as much or more than anything else. We obsess about it. We spend money on it. We talk about it. We worry about it. We even cry over it. We curse the scales and rant about our genetics. I am amazed at how much of our emotional energy is spent on this topic.

I am also surprised at how mean people can be when they talk about others’ weight. I have witnessed many a fat girl joke, and I can’t imagine how hurtful that must be to the target of those jokes. When you’re thin people don’t even make cracks behind your back. They do it right to your face. About three times a week someone makes some kind of skinny remark to me that is cloaked in humor but full of animosity. Here’s where I wade into this cesspool a little deeper because I realize I sound like a whiner, and I don’t mean to. It sounds shallow to say don’t hate me because I’m thin. I’m just sharing this to show how emotional we are about the size of our midriff. I’m telling you, it makes some people downright mean. So does dieting. Hungry people are cranky.

The weight thing also plays with our minds. We seem to make a lot of bad assumptions about people based on their weight, like fat people are lazy. Apparently, it works the other way, too. Thanks to Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton, some folks think skinny white girls don’t eat. I recently discovered that an acquaintance of mine thinks I have an eating disorder. Ha! I had two desserts in my hand when she said this to me. I almost snorted coconut cream pie onto her plate. Let me be clear on this one. I eat. I love to eat. I love everything about food. I like to cook it. I like to taste it, and I like to smell it. I even like looking at it. I am a bonified member of the “clean your plate club” and have no desire to join the “toothbrush down my throat club”. I just try not to go overboard with the really bad stuff, and I exercise a lot. I would rather run lots of miles than give up cake and pie. I am also blessed with the genes of my dad’s family. All of his folks are thin, probably because they grew up poor. He and his seven brothers and sisters look really hungry in those old black and white photos.

There are some drawbacks to being thin, like bony elbows and knees. I could put out an eye with my elbows. If I were to fall on my tailbone right now my spine would rattle from my crack to my neck. Skinny chicks tend to be mammary challenged, too. When I was in high school, I wanted two things: boobs and nice fat calves to fill out my slinky vinyl boots I wore for the dance team. No such luck. No one would have noticed if I had skipped the bra, and my legs swam in those boots like straws in a Big Gulp. In fact, they still swim in my boots. We all want what we don’t have, and we are all insecure about our bodies in one way or another. I just wish we measured the size of someone’s heart before we checked out the size of their butt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Adventures of Super Cop

Super Cop is having a bad week. He fell and busted his backside on some steps and then accidentally ran over his cat. Poor Fred. He’s at least 18 years old, so I’m sure getting hit by a truck was a wee bit traumatic for the poor old kitty. It was pretty upsetting to Super Cop, too. Nothing makes you feel so crappy as running over your pet. It appears that Fed will live, but he may be maimed for life in one leg. I figure Fred, being a cat, will milk this for all its worth. Cats are sneaky that way. They know when we feel guilty, and they’re not afraid to exploit it. They hold grudges too. If I were Super Cop I wouldn’t leave any shoes lying around unattended.

The Fred fiasco is one of a long line of crazy things that have happened to my brother in the last year and a half. It all started with the Big Blue Note right before Christmas 2005. Just like the Toby Keith video, his wife of fifteen years packed up half their stuff without notice while he was at work one day and took off for a new life. She was thoughtful enough to leave a note. Mamma always said if you can’t say something nice about somebody then don’t say anything at all, so all I’ll say about his ex is that is was nice of her to clean out the attic and closets for him before she left. (He has given me permission to blog about his life, by the way.) Thanks to some good friends and a little poker he has bounced back very well from that whole stinkin’ mess, but his entry back into the dating scene has been a doozey.

Apparently, there is no shortage of women who will hunt down and chase a nice, respectable man with a well paying job and a great personality. Women have been knocking on his door like Jehovah’s Witnesses on tour. He has dated an older woman, a younger woman, a woman with children and another who suggested being friends with benefits when he decided not to see her again. I can’t even remember all of the one time dates. He even worked in a date after he ran over Fred. I’m telling you, he is a chick magnet. I’m glad he’s having a good time. He deserves it. I’m glad he shares his dating adventures with me. I get a lot of laughs out of it, and I’m taking notes. They will come in handy if I ever get to write that novel I have rolling around in my head. If he keeps this up it could be one of those steamy Jackie Collins kind of books. Or maybe one of those mysteries: The Cat Who Ate the Michelins”.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Having spent a fair amount of time in a water park this past weekend, I have come to the conclusion that I and maybe six other people on this planet are the only adults without tattoos. Practically every person who walked past my wave pool lounger had some kind of body art. I was so fascinated with the parade of tattoos that I could hardly read my book. I saw flowers, animals, cartoons and Asian symbols. You name it; somebody was wearing it on their behind or their arm. I even saw two men with faces inked on their backs including The Three Stooges. Why would you want The Three Stooges on your back for the rest of your life? What is this craziness that causes people to permanently alter their skin in such a way? I’m not criticizing their choice. I just don’t understand it. I’m confused about the whole trend because I really don’t think a butterfly riding on top of my butt crack is going to make me feel better about my appearance. A sunflower surrounding my belly button would only draw attention to a part of me that is not all that attractive thanks to old pregnancy stretch marks, and I don’t need a guardian angel draped across my boob. That’s just wrong on multiple levels. And where’s that stuff going to be in twenty years when gravity gets a toehold? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want someone to roll me over in a nursing home and wonder what that green blob between my hip and thigh is. Somebody please explain to me why tattoos are so enticing to folks. While we’re at it, somebody explain the nose ring thing, too. I saw a man who had a great big ring that ran in one nostril and out the other. I wanted to hook a chain to it and hitch him to a heard of cows. He also had those wooden earring things that make a big hole in your earlobe. Hmmm. Give me some of that. Not.

I’ve also decided I spend way too much time worrying about my swimsuit choice, because many other people apparently do not. I’m all about personal freedom, so I don’t want anyone telling me what to wear. However, there are times when I think the swimsuit police could help us all to have a more pleasant time by the pool. Some people should be stopped at the gate and asked to change clothes. I can’t help but wonder what some folks are thinking when they pick out their swimsuit. I sweat over my choice each year. I know what the least attractive parts of my body are, and I try to work around those. Anything that needs camouflaged gets covered up. But why should I worry about a few stretch marks when a 350 pound man is wearing trunks so small that he looks naked? And just because you weigh 90 pounds and can fit into a bikini the size of a postage stamp does not mean the world wants to see you in a thong that resembles dental floss. Please, save it for your trip to Brazil. Besides, it's unsanitary for me to sit where your naked butt cheeks have been. I’m no prude, and I realize people want to show off their new $5000 boobs, but there’s a time and place for everything. There are toddlers in the wave pool for heaven’s sake.

I realize many folks are just trying to draw attention to themselves, and perhaps I really am getting old because I‘m so bewildered by this willingness to go to extremes in order to stand out in a crowd. Each generation has its own way of trying to be different, I guess. Mine did, too. Our choices weren’t so permanent though. To help pass the time by the wave pool I tried to decide what kind of tattoo I would get if I ever jumped onto that trend. I’m thinking an Easy Button on my butt, so I could press it every time I sit down. I’m a multi-tasker.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Long Way Home

Silly me, thinking I would have the motivation to post on Sunday evening when I had barely returned from a three day, 750 mile trip with a group of teenagers. Boy, was my glass half full when I wrote that! Too bad my body was completely empty of energy and creativity when I got home yesterday afternoon. I’m not up to full speed yet, but I rested enough last night to type a few paragraphs today about our journey.

It was a good trip. We had a safe drive, and no one lost anything valuable. Everyone came home with his iPod, DVD player, PSP, X Box, CD, cell phone, digital camera and other assorted electronic devices apparently necessary for any teenager to feel complete. There are so many batteries to charge when you carry that kind of stuff. The electrical outlets in our hotel room looked like a stable for little digital ponies feeding at the power trough every night.

No one got seriously hurt. We had three headaches, four brief heat related illnesses, one mild sunburn, one big blister and two chapped crotches. (That’s what happens when you walk around all afternoon in denim shorts that are soggy from the log flume.) Oh, and someone accidentally squirted lotion in her eye on the way home. I was one of the four victims of the heat, although I think the greasy pizza I ate for lunch contributed to the problem. The roller coaster with four upside down loops and a corkscrew may have been a factor, too. I spent 15 minutes in the shade, 20 minutes standing over the toilet in a public restroom (longing for the cool, clean tile of my bathroom at home) and another 45 minutes lying down in our air conditioned bus. I finally got sick of being sick to my stomach and decided to get it over with by making myself throw up. Yeah, we’re having some fun now, I thought as I heaved between a Buick and a Volvo. It worked, though, and saved me from an embarrassing ride in that first aid cart with the loud siren, which was the only option left. Aside from the heaving, it was a great day.

We made it through three nights at the Courtyard Marriott without any other customers complaining that we were too loud, probably because the entire hotel was filled with young people in town for a baseball tournament. We weren’t nearly as loud as that team in the red and white jerseys. Also, we stayed at the amusement park so late each day that our kids were pretty pooped by the time we got to our rooms. We also didn’t tear anything up, proof that God answers prayer.

Goofy moment of the trip: Having our boat get stuck in a corner of the Raging Rapids ride for about ten minutes while the water cannons repeatedly squirted us. We were soaked down to our BVD’s, hence the chapping.

“How old are you?” moment: A 15 year old who is, shall we say, pampered by his parents needed help in getting sunscreen out of the bottle. I squirted some on his arm, and he continued to hold out his arm, waiting for me to rub it in. “I’m not your mamma. You’ll need to do that for yourself”, I told him. Good grief! This is the same kid who lost his pants last year because he didn’t want to spend money on a locker in the water park.

Exciting moment: Seeing the kid who was too scared to ride anything last year ride everything this year. After being dragged onto a small roller coaster halfway through the first day, she worked up her nerve to ride something a little bigger and wilder. By day two, she had slain “The Beast”. I’ve never seen her so excited.

Goosebumps moment: We attended a great concert by the Christian rock band “The Newsboys”. They opened the show with a song called “Shine”, and in the middle of the song it started to rain lightly. The concert lights made the rain look like pearls drifting down onto the heads of some two thousand people. There was a collective “ooh”, followed by a “wow”.

Finally, for those of you wondering, I did make it home without any emergency bathroom stops, probably because I had only one greasy meal, and that one came up during my little heat stroke. And we had to endure only two “Who farted?!” incidents on the bus ride home. If you’ve ever traveled with teenagers, you know that’s a miracle in itself. As the emcee kept saying at the concert, God is good. All the time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

One of the 38%

I leave Thursday afternoon with a bus load of teenagers for a three day weekend at a large amusement park. While I am a little nervous about the long list of scary rides that I know they’ll drag me onto, I’m even more afraid of what this trip will do to my digestive system. This probably falls under the heading of TMI, but I’m going to share anyway because I suspect some of you have the same issue. In fact, I know you do. Dr. Oz from the Oprah show told me so. I love Dr. Oz. He answers all those medical questions you’re too embarrassed to ask your own doctor. You know, questions about pooping, belching and other bodily functions. He talks about the intestines a lot, and he told me that 38% of us have to find a bathroom immediately after we eat out. It has to do with your body rejecting stuff that doesn’t agree with the unique makeup of your colon. I am a part of that 38% if I eat a lot of junk food. My body can tolerate only so much grease and fat before it starts to betray me.

It’s awfully embarrassing, especially when you’re on a bus with fifteen teenagers, and you have to make an unscheduled stop in the middle of nowhere for a bathroom emergency. That’s what happened last year when we took these same kids to King’s Island. After two and a half days of Taco Bell, KFC and amusement park stuff on a stick my system had had enough. Somewhere along a lonesome, empty parkway with no exit in sight, I broke out in a cold sweat. You know the one. That sweat that tells you to find a bathroom…quickly….and I do mean quickly. Now the funny thing about this is that another adult chaperone on the bus suffered from Crohn’s disease, and his Crohn’s kicked in about the time my colon got all jiggy. We have traveled that parkway dozens of times, and I knew there wasn’t a rest area for miles. We didn’t have miles to spare. I told Hubby, who was driving the bus, to mash the accelerator and get off the highway at a nearby state police post. I knew they had a restroom in their lobby, and I was praying they were open on a Sunday afternoon. So was D., who was practically doubled over by now. As we skidded into the parking lot D. and I jumped off the bus with the laughter of teenagers in our ears, raced up the hill and hit the door, only to find one restroom. “Go.” “No, you go.” “You go.” “JUST GO. GO, GO, GO!” “OKAY.” I’m sure anyone reviewing the security tape of the lobby the next day probably got a really good chuckle out of our stomach holding argument over who was going to go first. I went first, but given D.’s dire circumstances, I was torn between speed and common courtesy. Should I take time to spray and wash my hands or just get out and wash up later? Ahhh! I did not want to be this intimate with D. about bathroom business. It was an odd bonding experience that’s funny now but was very embarrassing then. I really don’t want to repeat it.

That’s why I may not eat at all this weekend. I won’t see a vegetable or grilled piece of meat for three days. If I come back five pounds lighter, it’s because I couldn’t find anything other than a corndog to eat and I had to take a pass because it’s a long drive home from Cincinnati, and I won’t feel like running.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Living on Love

As we ate dinner with my parents last night they started reminiscing about the early days of their marriage. We call them the “good old days” but what that really means is the period during which they didn’t have two nickels to rub together and were living on love. It's funny now, but back then, things were tough. It’s hard to think of your parents as young lovers, but as they laughed and revealed little tidbits I’d never heard, I started seeing them in a different light. I’ve always had a great admiration for the way they’ve nurtured their marriage over the last 44 years. Oh, they bicker and disagree with each other, but I’ve never seen them fight like some couples do. They’ve also overcome the poverty of their childhood, managed to make a good living and raised three successful children. That’s why it’s hard for me to picture them as feisty newlyweds, fighting over things like money.

Last night I was surprised to learn that early in their marriage, in the heat of an argument over the rickety old farmhouse they were living in, my mother threatened to move to an apartment in town if daddy didn’t find them a better place to live. It seems she told him he could go with her or stay right where he was, but she was moving to better digs. She was pregnant with me at the time, so she must have been pretty ticked to make that kind of ultimatum. They were living way out in the country in what was called “The Old Mathis Place”. It had more drafts than a pair of old underwear and no running water. Daddy was fresh out of the Army and making $35 a week at a local garage. My pregnant mother was tired of looking at holes in the floor and dragging tubs of water into the sunshine to warm them up for baths. I guess she had dragged one tub too many when she made her threat. She didn’t make good on her threat, because I was born a short time later and spent my first months of life in that old house.

Daddy had to scrape up several hundred dollars to bring me and Mamma home from the hospital. For as long as I can remember, Zeke has somehow always managed to dig up the money needed for whatever financial crisis that comes along, no matter how broke he is. He was really broke in the summer of 1964, so he sold a B Farmall tractor to raise most of the money for the hospital bill. He was still short $200, so he walked into the First National Bank and asked for a loan….a loan to bring us home. He explained his problem to the bank manager. Without any thought, the manager slid Daddy a form to sign and two $100 bills out of the cash drawer. Our hospital bail was secured, and a lifetime relationship between Daddy and First National was begun. I am humbled by the pride Daddy must have swallowed in order to ask for that loan. I am also pretty amused by the fact that my worth at birth was the price of an old tractor.

Mamma did get her apartment. She and Daddy moved north so Daddy could work at an arsenal and make more money. I have vague memories of that apartment, of riding the train home on the weekends to see family, of eating Hostess fruit pies at the beauty shop with Mamma and of getting snowed in our apartment by a wicked Chicago winter. By the time I turned five, we were packing up and moving back home to our roots with a new baby in tow. A much better job for Daddy led to more prosperity and eventually a brand new home, built from the ground up, to our specifications. Knowing what I know now about life and marriage, I realize those first financially strapped years of marriage must have been pretty tough for Mamma and Daddy. You wouldn't know it by the way they act today. By the way Mamma was laughing last night, I’m pretty sure she's glad she didn't move to town by herself.

Rent for an old farmhouse in 1964: $50 a month

Resale value of a B Farmall tractor in 1964: $250

A 44 year old marriage: Priceless