Thursday, November 10, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
He looked like the typical dad - jeans and golf jacket, early 30's, expression hovering between deer-caught-in-the-headlights and weight room can-do. Each of his hands rested atop the head of boys who looked to be about 8 and 5. The older boy looked bored, the little guy leaned against his dad's leg and snuck his thumb into his mouth.
To their credit, they plunged in with resolute determination.
"OK, boys," he said quietly. "Let's find something nice for mommy." Like a small army, they moved along the racks, sliding hangers here and checking tags there. Dad held up a green blouse. Both boys shook their heads. They looked at a red flowered jacket on a mannequin but couldn't find it anywhere on a rack.
"What size does mom wear?" asked the older boy, fingering frilly top.
"Um, I don't know," Dad admitted. "She's always saying she's fat. . . "
"Mom's not fat," said the older son. "She's just right."
"I know, buddy. I agree. Hey, how about this?" He held up a black and white striped dress with ruching across the front.
"Not that, daddy," said the younger boy. "It looks like a prison dress!"
"No, it doesn't, you dope," said his big brother.
"Yes, it does," said dad, laughing as he slid the dress back onto the rack. Both boys cracked up.
I added a green jacket to my stack, and headed for the fitting room. When I came out, they had wandered over to a display of colorful plaid shorts and were checking sizes by holding them up to their dad. They seemed to settle on a turquoise pair and then located a tshirt to match. The dad held up both pieces in the air.
"Hmmm. . . maybe not," I heard him say.
"Why not?" asked his younger son. "Mommy looks pretty in blue."
"I know she does, " said dad. "But didn't she tell Aunt Jen she hates plaid shorts because they make her behind look big?"
"Mommy doesn't have a big behind!" protested the little guy, plunging his thumb back into his mouth.
"I know," agreed dad, ruffling his son's hair. "But let's try to get mommy something she would like, ok buddy? There's got to be something here. . . " he trailed off as the three of them turned around to scan the endless sea of clothing racks around them.
I picked two dresses off a rack along with a pink jacket and headed back to the fitting room. When I finished, I hung everything on the cart by the door and headed over to suits. On my way, I spied the trio hovering near raincoats. Dad had a gawd-awful shawl under his arm, and the younger son was holding a canvas rain hat.
"Hey," said the older boy. "How about a new purse for mom?"
Off they went across the aisle like hungry lions on the trail of food. There were shelves and tables stacked high with purses in every conceivable shape and color but they plunged right in. After much searching, they found a lime green bag with a cell phone pocket on the outside.
"This one!" cried the younger boy. "Mommy's always losing her cell phone. Let's get this one!" He stuck his arm through the straps and hoisted it onto his shoulder. It cleared the floor by two inches.
"Good idea, buddy" said dad. "But maybe we can find her one that's a little smaller." They went back to their task, inspecting flowered fabric bags, suitcase bags, hobo bags, clutch purses and a large purple bag trimmed in leather ruffles. Finally, the older boy held up a sleek black bag with an array of shiny buckles and clasps.
"How about this? She could keep her cell phone in one of these pockets."
"Hey," said dad, taking the bag from his son and turning it over. "This just might work."
"Yeah, " said the little guy. "It looks just like mommy's now purse."
Dad looked at his son and then squinted at the purse. "You're right," he sighed. "It looks just like mommy's now purse."
I found a sweet tan linen suit in my size and headed for the fitting room. To my amazement, it both fit and was on sale. Whoooeee. Now all I needed was the right accessories. I checked my watch. I'd been here 45 minutes and still needed to get to the grocery. A quick stop in the jewelry department and I'd be good to go.
That's when I saw them again. A little ragged perhaps, but enthused . . .almost renewed. And then I understood why. After navigating the baffling world of women's clothing and accessories, then forging through a universe of purses, they'd latched onto the one department that said "mom" above all the others: ladies toiletries. In this realm, you didn't have to know the difference between petite and misses. You didn't have to worry about size or pattern or the misfortune of giving a gift that made one's behind look bigger.
This was a sure thing.
And there they were, dad crouched down looking at a row of shiny bottles trimmed with flowers and lace. Some were housed in clear plastic bags; some in chrome baskets, others nestled in shreds of colored tissue. Everything oozed clean girliness. The little guy was sitting cross legged on the floor, surrounded by bottles. He'd pluck one carefully from the shelf, unscrew the cap to sniff the contents and then methodically screw each cap back on. The older boy and his dad were contemplating a kit containing bath salts, cremes and lotions.
I glimpsed some chunky wooden earrings and headed past them toward jewelry.
"What do you think?" asked the dad. "Think she'll like this?"
"I don't know," said the older boy, cautiously. "Mom likes all this girly stuff, but she takes showers. She doesn't take baths."
"This one!" cried the little guy, perilously brandishing an open bottle as he struggled to his feet. "Smell this, daddy. THIS is the one we should get!"
The dad but his hand on the bottle to steady it and slowly drew close to give it a sniff. He pulled his head back, then went in for another smell.
"I don't' know," he said slowly. Then he turned to his older son. "What do you think?"
The older boy took the bottle and smelled it.
"Yeah, that's okay, " he said.
"I want this one," cried the little guy. "This one smells like mommy on vacation!"
"What are you talking about?" scowled his older brother. "Besides, that says bath salts and mom only takes showers."
"I don't care. I want mommy to have this. It smells like when we went on vacation to Sea World and mommy got a flower behind her ear."
The dad looked at his boy. Then he looked at the bottle, and screwed the cap back on. "Well, it does smell good but mom takes showers so let's see if we can find something for the shower that smells like this. "
I located a necklace to go with the wood earrings and finally headed for the cash register. My feet hurt and I still had to get groceries.
As I waited my turn in line, the three shoppers got in line behind me. Each of them was holding a different bottle containing something pink. The little guy's bottle had bath salts in it.
"You sure, buddy?" asked the dad.
"Yes," the little guy nodded, looking at his bottle. "Maybe mommy doesn't take baths because she doesn't have the right stuff."
I couldn't help but smile as I remembered all the Mothers Days that I'd been blessed with bath salts and gaudy jewelry and clothes that didn't fit. I'd loved and treasured all of it, but never more so than now.
I drove passed them as they were coming out of the store. Three weary shoppers on their way home to wrap gifts for one very lucky mom.
I hope she appreciates them.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Some weekends I'm furtively tethered to it much more than I should be, waiting for new posts and adding insipid status updates like the I have nothing better to do.
Other days, it's like having your mother living next door. I'm supremely aware of the coworkers and relatives who've friended me and am more comfortable moving away from the window for awhile.
Always, though, I'm amazed at what a terrific detective Facebook is, reuniting me with college roommates, old acquaintances and people I thought I'd lost.
Take Ken's cousins, Jim and Mark. They live in Florida and - since Ken's not much of a traveler - we've only seen Jim when he and his wife, Joy, have visited Ohio. I remember Mark from our Florida honeymoon some 30 years ago. He was a cute teenager who'd mastered the art of the wisecrack.
Thanks to Facebook, though, I've been following Jim's trevails with back injuries, The Cat from Hell and his updates to the family tree. And today, I found Mark on FB. He's all grown up and - from the looks of these rules - has become wise and insightful. Those are family traits.
I wish I'd written these Adult Truths. But since I didn't, I'm highjacking them for a blog post.
Mark can always head north to register his displeasure in person if he objects. It'll be a nice opportunity to catch up.
I just hope he brings some sunshine. . .
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.
18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.
24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. Ladies.....quit laughing.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
We are sitting at a traffic light in our new blue Ford Galaxie in downtown Tiffin. It was summer, and I was contemplating my new sandals and thinking how unfair it was to get in trouble just because I told my sister she was stinky.
I'm only telling the truth, I argued. She is stinky.
Am not, cried my sister with her stupid fake tears.
Girls!, shushed my mother.
Enough, said my father.
Then the light changed, and my dad eased into the intersection. Suddenly, there was the loudest bang I'd ever heard. The car behind us had been rear ended and it shot toward us into the intersection, missing our shiny new car by inches.
Whew, said my dad, peering into the rearview mirror. He missed us by that much. He held up his hand with a little space between his forefinger and thumb.
Oh my, said my mom. We are blessed. Girls, say a little prayer.
I prayed that my stinky sister would find stink bugs in her bed.
A lot of time has passed since that day in 1963. And as far as I know, my sister has never found a single stink bug in her bed.
But I think of the kismet of that moment back in 1963 whenever I have a close call of some sort. Like the time I jaywalked in downtown Columbus only to have a car swipe by me so close it left a stripe on my pants. Or the time I tipped a six-foot ladder up onto two legs while sneezing, and didn't fall OR spill paint.
There are times, though, when we skip our way through life, blissfully unaware of close calls we've had. Take my doctor, for instance. Today, he had a close call and tonight he's probably enjoying a typical evening at home, none the wiser.
For the past year or so, I've had sharp pains in my wrist and the thumb of my right hand. Not all the time, but some days the joints throb and it hurts to uncap my Diet Pepsi or pull the lid off a carton of Starbuck's Coffee ice cream.
Arthritis, said Ken.
Ha, I said, trying hard to forget the annoying flyer AARP sent to me in yesterday's mail. I'm too young for arthritis.
OK, said Ken. But I'm telling you, it sounds like arthritis to me.
Finally, when the pain got worse, I called my doctor who set up an appointment for me to see a hand specialist.
So today, my achy hand and I went to meet the nice Dr. Lanford. Tall, 30-ish, easy going, nice smile. We joked about winters in Cleveland as he stared thoughtfully at my xrays. Then slid his chair over and took my hand.
He pressed here. He poked there. Then he took my right thumb, pushed down and turned. Instantly, gritty pain shot through my hand. I nearly kneed him in his boy parts.
But that wasn't the close call.
The close call came a little while later when he patted my hand, looked me sincerely in the eye and said that while I may have beginnings of arthritis, most of what he saw was just "mileage."
WHAT HAPPENED IN MY MIND:
Mileage? my mind said.
MILEAGE?!!? it yelled like I was hard of hearing. I'm doing my best to build a dam against the ravages of time and this pipsqueak talks to me about "mileage"???
Listen, buddy. You try finding trendy clothes in a normal size when everything you see is made for women the size and shape of a swizzle stick. You try sneaking off to the dermatologist's office on your lunch hour for botox so everyone stops asking you why you're angry. You want to talk to me about mileage? Slide that damn chair back over here, frat boy, and I'll show you how strong a hand with mileage on it can be. Care to thumb wrestle, wimpy?? Huh? Huh? I didn't think so.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE REAL WORLD:
The anger was startlingly instant and white hot. It blasted through my mind in about half a second. I never said a word but it must have shown on my face, because the nice Dr. Lanford immediately scooted his chair back a few inches and offered, "Well, not a lot of mileage for sure, heh heh. Just. . . you know - normal wear and tear. That kind of thing. Certainly nothing serious. "
He carefully placed my hand down on my knee and scooted all the way back to his desk. I gave a little laugh to ease the moment, and then we moved on to the what-to-do's and what-not-to-do's. He made his notes, asked if I had any other concerns, then told me to call him if the pain got worse or anything changed. I stood, and thanked him for his time. He shook my hand as he opened the door to the hall.
"Take care," he said as I walked past him.
No, you take care, my mind shot back with an evil little smile.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I have to admit that the snow has been really beautiful these last few mornings. Lovely, white glitter. And it hasn't been icy, thank heavens, because I don't care for ice. Especially black ice.
Black ice is sneaky.
I backed into the turnaround behind the house one evening, completely unaware that a mischievous layer of black ice had stretched itself across the asphalt and was lurking beneath my car.
Flo Rida was on the radio, so I car danced for a moment before turning off the ignition and gathering my things to go inside. I opened the car door and stuffed my purse, a bag full of drug store purchases and the Tupperware from lunch salad into my left hand and began to step out.
Now even under the best of circumstances - clear weather, sensible shoes, flat terrain, no distractions - I'm not known for my coordination. So when my foot began to slide, I just figured that I needed to reposition my foot.
I grabbed the steering wheel with my right hand and hauled myself up a bit to give my left foot better purchase on the driveway with my fabulous new Rocket Dog heels.
That was my first inkling that something was terribly wrong.
Slowly, uncontrollably, my left foot began sliding beneath the car like a magnet being pulled toward the North Pole. I scrambled furiously to gain traction but for some reason the driveway was too slick.
My foot slid further under the car.
I was gripping the steering wheel so tightly that it began to turn to the left, leaning even more of me out the car door.
My left foot was taking me places I didn't want to go and I couldn't do a thing about it. Helpless as a baby, I began to fall out of my car. Because I refused to let go of the steering wheel, this all happened at a snail's pace.
I was now under the car past my left knee. My right foot was still inside the car as was my right arm at the end of which was my gloved hand with its death grip on the steering wheel. The wheel was turning as far left as it could go. I was clutching the car door with my left hand. My upper body was hanging closer and closer to the driveway.
There was a nasty breeze up my skirt.
My purse was still around my left arm and was resting nicely on the door handle. Slowly, though, I found myself looking up at it as more of me headed for the driveway. My purse started to tip over. First my mirror then my keys then my wallet then a week's worth of straw papers, receipts, tissues and change all marched out of my purse and onto my head like orderly soldiers.
I heard Ken a mere ten feet away in the house, talking to DaBoys.
I tried to holler for help but every muscle in my body was tensed in an attempt to ward off the inevitable.
Next I watched as my CVS bag plunked from door handle to map pocket where I prayed it would stop. But soon it slid open enough to dump its contents on me, too. Not a problem until the extra large bottle of Juergens nosed its way out of the bag and headed south.
Finally, my shaking right arm could hold me no more and I was suddenly plunked unceremoniously onto the driveway.
My left foot was hanging out somewhere by the oil pan.
My right foot was on the drivers seat, minus one snappy Rocket Dog.
My skirt and coat were clumped somewhere around my armpits.
My left hand was holding onto the map pocket, an unscarred box of Jelly Bellys perched like an acrobat on my arm.
I took stock.
I was feeling wind in places no true lady would ever expose to the elements. I had no shoe on my right foot and could only pray that the shoe on my left foot wasn't ruined. Nothing seemed to be broken, though.
That's when I looked up and noticed my Tupperware. It was in the most improbable spot up by the car window, its lid perched casually against the glass. I watched as it slowly tipped forward and fell, clipping the box of Jelly Bellys on its way down.
My sides hurt but I took a deep breath and hollered for Ken.
Nothing. He and DaBoys must be in the living room.
I got my right leg out of the car. My right arm felt like a ten foot long piece of Silly Putty. As I rolled over onto my side, everything that had been piled on top of me fell into a neat little pile. After a minute, my left foot bade farewell to the oil pan and I managed to get my knees under me. Kicking the Tupperware out of the way, I grabbed the car door and pulled myself upright.
I blew the hair out of my face and tried to yank my clothes back into position. Carefully, I bent down and shoved my purse items and drugstore purchases into the plastic bag. Balanced on one high heel and one bare foot, I slowly stood up and retrieved my right Rocket Dog from the car. Taking very small steps, I turned toward the house. A used tissue was stuck to the front of my coat, I'd torn my hose and lost my headband.
Ken pulled open the door just as I reached the steps. He was holding Sammy and smiling his happy little "my wife's home" smile. Charlie's little head was bobbing up and down in the window of the storm door. Ken's smile turned to a look of horror as he took in the sight that was his wife. In no time, he'd ditched the boys and lifted me into the house.
After a quick inventory to make sure nothing was broken or spurting blood, he ran for the phone. Taking in my bare foot, disheveled clothes, tattered hose and wild hair, he'd come up with the only logical conclusion:
His wife had been attacked in her own driveway.
He was quite relieved to find out that I'd merely fallen under my car.
So relieved that he couldn't stop laughing as he plucked paper clips and cough drops off my coat, helped me peel off my torn and twisted clothes and deposited me into a hot shower.
Later - after a long shower and hot meal - I sat blanketed in my comfy chair with two adoring furry dogs and one adoring furry husband, and sipped a steaming cup of tea.
My right arm still hurt and I had a lovely bruise blossoming on my backside. But I had survived my first close encounter with black ice. I was also happy that we'd avoided involving the police.
I felt sure Ken would have ended up in the hoosegow. No way they'd believe my "black ice made me fall under my car" story.