June 26, 2010
Photo by Vicki Harris
Stories this photo appears in:
The mistake was made. There was no turning back. “When are you due?” he asked as he settled into his chair. The words hung stagnant in the air, begging to crawl back into his mouth.
“Welcome!” the young woman said as I walked through the door of swimsuit heaven — or hell, as some affectionately call it — a store filled to the rafters with tops and bottoms of seemingly all makes and models of bathing suits. Green ones with stripes and pink ones with polka dots and neon blue ones with fringy things hanging from each. I’d rather not say.
Maybe the elderly lady in the blue pantsuit didn’t realize her voice carried louder than she thought it would in the busy room, but we all looked up and straight at her when she said, “This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but did you ever wonder why Pluto walks on four legs and Goofy walks on two like a man?”
It was a dark and stormy night. Harsh winds startled the yard ... trees swayed, limbs rattled, rain falling sideways pelted against the windows. I gazed out the window at the ruckus outside. Would it last long? Would it pass over?
The urge was overwhelming. Should I keep my mouth shut? Should I tell her? I didn’t know this woman, had never seen her before in my life.
Pardon my tartle. Excuse me?
My book overfloweth. A few years ago I started this little habit of writing down quotes that I come across. Not just any ones. The ones that make me stop and think. Others that make me laugh. Many that simply make me go hmmmm.
“What’s it like?” she asked, and I inhaled quietly and put down the bottle of water I was poised to drink.
‘I am too busy to be nice,” she said, and I looked up to catch a glimpse of the person who would say such a thing out loud. She wasn’t an old woman, maybe 50 at best, and her hair was pulled back in such a way that you couldn’t see her eyes, not clearly, anyway.
If you are reading this, then the world did not end as so many had expected it to on Friday.
Driving into work today I let my mind wander as I often do. How nice it would be, I thought, to be one of those fancy people who has a driver — you know the kind, the ones on television who say things like, “I’ll call my car to come pick me up,” or “Driver, take me to the such and such.”
I didn’t have to hear the commercial or see the ad to know it was back. A total stranger let me know. ‘Tis the season.
It was half past 10 the day after Thanksgiving that I ventured out into the real world. By that time, many of the diehard Black Friday shoppers were either asleep in their cars or home, and there were no fist fights or wig snatching brawls in sight.
I so get it now. It took a while, years actually, but I get it now. I used to get so mad when my siblings would come home after being away for long periods of time. College and what-not they would be, then one day call and say, “I’m coming home.” That’s when it would start. The pots a’banging. The pans a’frying.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I don’t know who said that first, but with each passing year, each fleeting moment, I believe it more and more.
I felt it driving home the other afternoon, that gnawing feeling deep in my core. I wasn’t hungry, but wanted something to eat. I was craving ... craving ... What exactly was I craving?
‘What have you learned lately?” the woman asked and the room full of people sat in silence, myself included. It’s not all about books and papers, lectures and talks, she went on to explain. You’re learning every second of every day.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a rebuttal of Mandy Flynn’s column last week submitted by her husband, Mike, under the Fair Household Response Act.
There are a few things I have learned after 21 years of marriage.
I get Linus. Completely. One hundred percent. I get Linus because he has a need to carry around a blanket, a blue one that he, on occasion, throws over his shoulder, drags on the floor and even wraps around his head. I get Linus because I, too, have a blanket. And I am not ashamed.
There are a few advantages to having a big sister who is an English teacher. I can text her things like, “Is it shone or has shined?” and “Do I say farther or further?” and she texts me back the proper usage without passing judgment.
I’m not sure if I was supposed to overhear the conversation taking place to my right. Nonetheless, it was out of my control as one woman sighed heavily, threw her arms up in the air, and declared quite dramatically that she was at her wit’s end.
The first day of fall was yesterday. When I was much younger I used to think that the official first day of any new season was supposed to be magically different — leaves would suddenly be brilliant orange and yellow on the first day of fall, snow had to cover the ground on the first day of winter, and I always thought you had to, just had to, go to the beach on the first day of summer.
The line to check out was long, at least six people deep and no cashier in sight. The lady at the front kept turning around and apologizing that she'd needed a price check on her can of furniture polish.
I would like to publically apologize to my friend Rhonda. I knew not what I was doing when I introduced you to that awful, terrible habit.
‘Can you help me?” I looked up from my self-absorbed walk through the lobby to see a little lady standing by the brown, wooden table up against the wall near the doors of the post office.
She said it with such conviction, such authority, without an ounce of question, that I couldn't help but think it was true.
My husband thinks I’m trying to kill him. Oh, this subtle paranoia has been going on for years — 21 years this Friday, in fact. Every blue moon I will hear the six familiar words, “Are you trying to kill me?” coupled with some scenario of how he thinks I am surely plotting his demise.
‘Uh, oh.” I was drifting off to sleep in the backseat, sandwiched on five inches of seat between the car door, two pillows, a bag containing a box of Oreos, an extension cord, and socks, a duffel bag, a futon and a television.
No matter how many years you prepare for it, it's an emotional event when your child goes off to college.
If it can get Snoopy, is there really any hope for the rest of us?
Two women standing in front of me in the checkout line this week obviously hadn’t seen each other in a while. Although I’ve often thought I have certain ESP-esque gifts, this instance didn’t require any intuitive brainpower.
There is a box. “A box,” I said aloud in quiet amazement as my Alabama cousin told me the story of the box, the small, metal box he and my older brother buried years and years ago in a field.
Question: If the sound of a jet taking off equals around 180 decibels and the sound of a whisper equals about 20 decibels, what does about 140 decibels equal? Answer: Tuesday night.
When you're in a teaching moment with a teenage daughter who's about to get her learner's driving permit, watch the signs closely.
The ground was damp from the previous day's rain. It was still thirsty, though, and I know this because I heard three gentlemen say it was so and I believed them. Standing there just on the edge of the grass where it met the tired path I was walking on, they rocked slowly on their heels and looked up at the sky.
Last time I looked they were still on the dining room table in a neat little pile. Three piles, actually. Written. Blank. And envelopes.
The memory took me by surprise. Was it the smell, sweet and fruity ... or maybe the bright yellow of the package on the seat next to me?
She had, undeniably, grocery store feet. “She has what?” the woman asked in surprise and the young girl lifted up one bare foot and revealed its underside, a sole ranging in shade from brown to grey to near ‘bout black in places. We were not in a grocery store, but outside on a hot afternoon.
‘Come in,” a deep, low voice mumbled from behind the closed bedroom door and I turned the knob and slowly pushed it open to reveal my first born, now a teenage man child, propped against pillows and watching television, a computer on his lap.
Who originally wrote it, I don’t know. But I know where my copy came from. It’s been folded and re-folded a couple of dozen times, read and re-read when I needed a chuckle or wanted to make someone else laugh.
We interrupt this column for an important announcement about common decency.
I saw a sign in a store once. Not a sign, really, but rather a little slip of paper taped to the side of the cash register. I was buying some gum.
Somewhere in the Bible it says that God knows every hair on our heads. Comforting, it is, but I have to wonder — does he know about the freakishly long scary ones that appear out of nowhere in the most obscure places and continue to come back time and time again no matter how often we yank them out?
Why you need a cell phone out in the ocean and other things men don't seem to understand.
It was, in my opinion, awkward.
Call me a rebel. I wore white and it’s not even April yet.
‘Do you know him?” my sister asked and I paused, but only for a moment.
There was a chill in the air as I walked down the hallway, my head hung low in guilt and shame. I slowly turned the deadbolt. The door creaked open and a rush of cold air washed over me as I stepped barefoot onto the brick. I wasn’t ready for this. Not again. Not so soon.
Chinese food. It was a good choice for a Monday night, having just pulled back into town after a long day in Atlanta.
‘Excuse me,” she said and I turned from my perusal of the wall of cute khaki and navy pants to a woman standing near me holding up a blue and tan striped tank top and a blue skirt. “Do you think these look good together? Cute?”
He who seeks beauty will find it. Funny how the words struck me recently as I sat on our couch and watched a documentary — not something I can admit I’ve said a lot, mind you.
She was having a hard time.
‘What did you learn today?” I asked and was met with a look of surprise.
Obviously, the baby was fussy. “What do you think it is?” the man, apparently the father of the little person wiggling around in a blue, padded stroller in the middle of the electronics section of Target, asked.
I remember a lot of them. Bits and pieces, some of them. Memories of Christmas.
“Once you wrote about a comfortable peace at Christmas,” this person wrote. “Please tell us again.”
Damn you, Folgers coffee.
Dear Santa, I know it’s been a while since I’ve been in touch — a couple of decades, at least — and I’m really sorry about that.
There are many truly thought provoking questions in life that render me sleepless.
Consider my soap box officially out and I am climbing up on it. Can you hear me?
Forever lazy. A doughnut ... maybe. And a compliment. Three things that make for a pretty good start to the day.
‘Where is it?” she said, loud enough for all of us around her to hear, three ladies and a little girl standing in the aisle of the drug store.
‘Come on, it’ll be fun!” she said, her eyes wide and her head bopping up and down. She was overly excited, my friend was, trying to convince me to go to a Haunted House over the weekend.
In my next life I want to come back as a calendar maker, the CEO of some big company that puts papers printed with days of the month, of the year, together in leather bound books.
Hurrying not so long ago to make a turkey with cheese sandwich to toss into my daughter’s lunchbox, I had just drawn a knife carefully through the wheat bread hugged creation when I said out loud, “Sandwiches cut on the diagonal taste better than ones cut up and down.”
God winks are tiny gestures that fill your heart with reassurance.
It was a classic case.
There are times when you just need to laugh.
‘Just because she can doesn’t mean she should.”
It’s my own fault, I know, for breaking a cardinal rule of good mothering — Thou shalt not ask close-ended questions.
I like this music," I told my daughter and began to sway my head back and forth in some semblance of a beat to the chippy tune playing on television. The day's weather prognostication rolled by as an area map showed spots of green inching across the little county outlines. Hallelujah, rain was on the way.