If you can't make it better you can laugh at it. ~Erma Bombeck


Friday, May 23, 2008

Oh, nuts!

Time to lighten it up a bit, folks...

A traveling salesman was greeted at the door by one of the sweetest little old ladies he'd met in ages. After chatting a moment, she invited him in to rest a spell and offered to bring him something cold to drink.

After accepting her kind offer, he sat down on the couch to await her return from the kitchen. On the table he noticed a bowl of mixed nuts. Suddenly realizing how hungry he was, he decided that the woman wouldn't mind if he helped himself. He'd already finished one handful and was reaching for more when the sweet granny returned with some fresh-squeezed lemonade.

"I hope you don't mind that I helped myself to your nuts, ma'am," he said.

To which she replied, "Oh heavens no, dear. I don't mind a bit. I always hate to see them go to waste after I've sucked all the chocolate off ."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gypsies, Tramps, and Peace Thieves

Laying side by side in the wee hours of the morning, her in her hospital bed, me on my roll-away, Mother and I talked quietly about our life together.

“Were you ever sorry you adopted me, Mom?”

“Yes. If I thought I could pull it off, I’d have given you to the first gypsy troop I could find heading out of town.”

“It was when you found out about Bob*, wasn’t it.”

She laughed in that sweet, half-giggle way of hers and said, “Well, yes, that was one of the worst of them.”

“Them?” I replied in mock shock, knowing full well that during my teenage years I’d given her plenty of reasons to toss me in the nearest Dempsey Dumpster (or gypsy wagon) and run for her life. She was right about one thing, though: my first fully involved sexual relationship had nearly killed not only her soul, but also her spirit, and very nearly her body as well....

I met Bob a month or so after the beginning of our sophomore year. He was a new kid. I knew what it was like to be the new kid and never allowed another new kid to feel left out. We had science together and, since none of the “cool” guys would lower themselves to be lab partners with a new kid, I took the job on myself. It wasn’t long before we were a couple. When Spring break came, we couldn’t bear the thought of being apart for a whoooole weeeeeeeek, so we devised a plan for him to spend lots of time with my friend Sally’s boyfriend who just happened to live only a few blocks from me. Coincidentally, Sally* would be spending most of Spring break with me. Both of our mothers worked full time, so they loved the idea of us keeping each other company. They had no idea just how much company we were going to be keeping with the guys.

On Thursday of that week, after Mother left for work at 7:00 a.m., Sally and I went to work primping and preening. We shaved our underarms and legs, checked each other for unsightly blemishes, did each other’s hair and makeup. Around 10:00 a.m. two totally clueless boys arrived and were presented with what we were sure would be the best surprise of their lives.

The following week at school, the boys broke up with us. Devastated, Sally and I wrote notes back and forth trying to figure out what had gone wrong. We didn’t understand how they could be so cruel after we’d been soooo kind. Being at that “it’s none of your business, Mom!” stage of teenage pseudo-independence, I sulked and grouched around the house so much that mother was finally compelled to go on a scavenger hunt in my room to try and figure out what was wrong with me. She didn’t have to look long to find one of our notes wadded up in the trash.

As a 15-year-old, I was outraged at her invasion of my privacy. Now, as the mother of a teenage girl, my heart physically aches at the thought of her sitting there in shock and horror as she read the words that no little girl’s mommy ever wants to read. I can hardly bear to think of how she looked as she read, but I will never forget the look on her face when she drove up to where a friend and I were walking in the neighborhood and ordered me into the car. I saw the crumpled paper laying on the car seat and immediately knew that she knew.

She’d actually taken off work early to come home and take me shopping in a surprise effort to cheer me up a little, but I’d already left the house when she got there. By the time she had me in the car it was about 4:00 p.m., however, she’d already called our family doctor, obtained the name of a gynecologist friend of his, and had an appointment scheduled for me at 4:30. It had been over 4 weeks since Spring break and she didn’t want to waste one more minute before making sure that I wasn’t pregnant or diseased. Or both. When I protested she growled, “You want to be a woman, this is part of it. And don’t you DARE put up a fight. You will do whatever the doctor needs you to do. Is that clear?” It was. I knew that if she had to get my dad involved it mean another beating and I would do anything to avoid that. Thankfully, so would she.

Fortunately, I survived the humiliation of that first gynecological exam even though I was wishing for death the whole time. It would take a few days for any test results to come in, though, so we were sent home to wait. And wait. And wait. And the waiting was done in tense silence with the barest minimum of contact between us. A few days later she got word that everything was alright. That may have been true medically, but relationally things couldn’t have been more wrong. She no longer knew how to relate to me. I wasn’t a baby anymore, but I was still her baby. I also wasn’t a woman who could be counted as her equal with whom she could easily converse about womanly things. I was a testy, withdrawn, and thoroughly nasty-to-be-around teenager. Years later she’d told me that because there was no one she could talk to about it all, she had fallen into such a deep depression that she came very close to ending her own life.

I realized that I had tears on my cheeks when the soft beep-beep of the morphine machine shook me out of my reverie as it released the much needed pain medication it hoarded like liquid gold. I reached across the dark void between us, squeezed her hand and said, “I love you, Mom, and I’m so sorry I put you through so much hell.”

As she once again drifted off into peaceful oblivion, she whispered softly, “You were worth it. I’m glad there were no gypsies.”

Now, nearly 25 years later, I am comforted by the fact that eventually this very difficult, painful, gut-wrenching, maddening, yet somehow wonderful job of parenting an emotionally damaged and behaviorally challenging teenage girl will be worth it. And I, too, am very glad there are no gypsies in town. Today.

*Names changed

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's that sound?

It is the sound of the other shoe finally dropping. It is not a good sound. It may mean that, if she doesn't turn back around soon, I'll be losing My Girl again...

I can't go into it right now; just please pray for her to recognize the dangers involved in her actions and for her willingness to accept the help she will need to come out of this.

It is the sound of Hubby's heart being broken. Again. I can't stand it when he cries. Add to this the fact that Twig is making some really poor choices again and it's the sound of the TV remote click, click, clicking because I'm having trouble finding the heart to do much more than sit and stare at the boob tube most of the time wondering when we get to get off of this train through hell. Right now it doesn't seem like we ever will.

I'll be around more again when I have a chance to grieve this current loss and find a way to cope. Until then... I don't know.. just, until then.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


I hate shopping. So much so that when my mother died in 1984, my aunt was actually worried about my boys having proper clothes to wear. She would even to call me and remind me to make sure their stuff still fit right and wasn’t wearing out. (Thank God she did because without her badgering me there’s no telling what they’d have gone to school wearing.) I still dislike shopping in general, but shopping for myself? Pure misery. Especially if it requires entering a mall.

This aversion to all things Mall has made me the window shopping queen of Texas. The only way I typically buy anything for myself is if I see it in the window and they have my size on a rack close enough to the door that I don’t have go on a scavenger hunt to find it. My penchant for buying the displayed outfits has led me to the very unscientific conclusion that I’m not alone in my totally non-traditional-female-person world because occasionally I run into someone else wearing the same outfit. It doesn’t happen often, but it does occur frequently enough for me to be comforted by the recognition of kindred spirits. Ever since I realized this, whenever I see a woman sporting the same outfit I’m wearing (or any part thereof), I endeavor to make a point of trying to catch the woman’s attention and grin like an idiot when she realizes that we have on the same clothes. It’s a fun game for me because I think most women act ridiculously stupid when faced with another woman wearing the same thing. So the ornery little sadist in me takes great pleasure in seeing if she’s going to grin or grimace. Yes, I know that I am WAY too easily amused!

Shortly before The Dream came to a crashing end, I was lucky enough to happen on an outfit that I really liked. Since it was in a strip center, thus requiring no mall anxiety, I took the opportunity, to actually go in and try on the outfit before purchasing it. (My other shopping-related aversion is to clothing store dressing rooms. I have nightmares about having one porcine appendage stuck in a pair of pants when a fire alarm goes off requiring me to either waddle out nearly naked or risk dying a slow, burning death while I try in vain to either get the one leg out of, or the other leg into, pants that are almost inevitably the wrong size. This has led to me having donated a massive number of brand new, price-tag still attached, clothing items because they hung in my closet or languished in the trunk of the car in the shopping bag awaiting my next trip to the mall for so long that the act of returning the item became, in and of itself, simply too humiliating. Sorry – that wasn’t where this story was supposed to go. So anyway...) I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first permutation of size combinations fit. (Remember, I haven’t easily seen my feet since I was about 13 so I always have to buy coordinated outfits. Suits with the same size tops and bottoms will NOT work.) I loved the way it camouflaged some of the more unsavory aspects of my physique so, of course, I bought it. In 2 different colors. YAY!

Until our blissfully normal shopping spree last week, I haven’t had much occasion to dress up to leave the house. I was thrilled to get to wear my new duds on our outing. We’d had a lunch and were laughing as we headed into the store. The last thing I expected to see as I was walking up to the doors was a woman wearing the same outfit already inside. “What fun!” giggled my inner sadist.

Once inside My Girl headed one direction and I took off in the direction it looked like the lady was going. She must have been in a real hurry because the next time I caught sight of her was at the dressing rooms. As we were walking in for MG to try on some shorts, I caught quick glimpse of her heading into another stall. I didn’t want to bother her while she was trying on clothes (I know I always hate having strangers try to talk to me while I’m half naked!) so I just stood there outside of MG’s stall waiting for either one of them to emerge. MG took forever because she had several things to try on, but none of it worked. She had pretty much scoured the racks the first time, so we decided to leave that store because there was nothing else that MG was interested in looking at. I was sad that I hadn’t been able to talk to the lady with my clothes on, though. When I saw her that second time I noticed that she was really too “shapely” to be wearing that type of outfit. It really wasn’t very flattering on her at all. I was hoping to be able to do my mothering thing and gently suggest that maybe she should think about finding clothing more befitting her age. But that lady must have had a load of stuff to try on because she never did show back up before we headed on to the next store.

We all know that great minds think alike, right? Well, that lady and I were seriously on the same wavelength because a little while after entering the second store I spotted her again. This time she was across the aisle looking at the jewelry. I only needed to see the side of her head and part of one shoulder out of the corner of my eye to instantly know it was definitely her because I recognized that hair. I made a mental note to also mention that she might like to try my wonderful $14 stylist if I ever caught up with her. Sadly, MG called me to come look at something, and by the time I looked back up she’d disappeared.

A little later, while MG was looking at shoes, I spotted the poor old dear again. She was over by the hats and handbags looking right at me. Seeing her pale, wrinkled face confirmed what I’d originally thought about her being much too old and out of shape to be wearing the layered tank top look. Now I also knew that I should recommend my wonderful Merle Norman dealer’s makeup makeovers. However, by the time I got across the aisle and around the mirror she was standing behind she was GONE AGAIN!

For the rest of the day I caught sporadic glimpses of her. Once I saw her reflection in a plate glass window as she stood behind me staring at my back. Another time, I caught her peeking around a corner through the glass door of the shop I was entering. The last time I saw her was in a furniture store looking at bedroom suits. I caught a peek of her reflection in the mirror on the dresser. By then, though, we were leaving and I had given up hope of having any kind of meaningful conversation with her. I’d concluded that she was, after all, a grown-up, and if she could remain in denial about her looks after spending so much of the day seeing herself in mirrors, nothing I could say would have helped.

So, the next time you bow your head in prayer, please send one up for that, out of shape, wrinkled and pasty faced, new-hairdo-needin’ old fat woman wearing my clothes. I KNOW she will appreciate all the help I she can get.

Wishing you Peace, Blessings and appropriate purchases for all the days you live to shop.


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