Monday, November 29, 2010

Is it just a dream?

            “I had that dream again last night.”

            My husband looked up from his computer. “Yeah?”

            “You know, the one where I’m in high school and I don’t have a schedule or a locker?”

            He nodded. For some reason, I seem to have this particular dream a lot, with variations, and I usually remember it vividly.

            “I had parked my car in what I thought was the main parking lot, but there were no other cars there. I got out of the car anyway – it was an old black Volkswagon bug – and went into the building.”

            “It was a black VW bug? You never drove one of those.”

            “I know, right? Anyway, when I went into the school, there were kids everywhere. I asked a tall boy where to go to get my schedule, and he pointed down a hall without saying anything and then turned away to joke with what looked like the rest of the boy’s basketball team. I wondered if they were laughing at me.

            I wandered off in the direction in which he had pointed, but I couldn’t find an office. I asked another boy, and he pointed back toward where I had come from before he rushed away.”

            “Not very helpful,” my husband chuckled. “What did you do then?”

            “Right then a bell rang, so I ducked into the nearest classroom. The teacher was standing at the door. I tried to tell her that I didn’t have a schedule, but she told me to take a seat because class was about to start.”

            “So you took a seat?”

            “So I took a seat. I happened to be sitting next to one of my previous students and she smiled at me. She whispered to me, asking me where my bag was because we were going on a field trip. I realized that I had left the bag in the back seat of the car. I was very upset.

            I kept trying to ask the teacher if I was really scheduled to be in this class. I also wanted to know if I should go back to the car to get my bag before the field trip started. I was extremely confused. The teacher smiled at me kindly, and told me that she couldn’t help me.”

            “Hmm. I’m starting to notice a pattern here,” my husband commented.

            “I ended up in the front seat of a chartered bus, next to my student and without my bag. I asked her where we were going and she was shocked that I didn’t know. She told me that we were going to look at conifers, and when we got back to school, we’d have to draw pictures of them.”

            “Conifers? That’s bizarre, even for you, dear.”

            “It is, isn’t it? I mean, even kindergartners know what a conifer is. We could have just walked out of the school building and looked at the nearest pine tree and picked up the pine cones from the ground. Why did we need to take a bus and why were high school students going to look at pine trees just to spend the afternoon drawing them? I thought to myself that I could write better lessons than that.”

            “I’m sure you could.”

            “We got back to school, and I wandered around again looking for my car. By the time I found it, it was getting dark. I got into the car and turned it on. It had been such a strange day and all I wanted to do was go home. Unfortunately….”

            My husband finished the sentence, “…you had no idea how to get home.”

            I nodded sadly. “What do you suppose it all means?”

            He laughed. “You’re kidding, right?”

            “No.” I frowned at him.

            “It seems obvious to me. You need to decide what you want to do when you grow up.”

            “That’s what this weird dream means?

            “Sure. You need to decide if you want to go back to school to get your PhD, if you want to go back into the classroom and be a teacher again, or if you want to continue to write full time.”

            “Oh. It’s hard to decide what you want to be when you grow up, even when you’re 48.”

            “I guess so.” My husband had known since he got his first set of Lego’s at age 3 that he was going to be an engineer. He’s still an engineer. Must be nice.

            “At least I have plenty of time to decide," I smiled wryly. "I’m not planning on growing up anytime soon.”

            He pulled me into his arms and nuzzled my neck. “That's why I love you.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday?

            You know, there’s a reason today is called “Black Friday”.

Just think about some of the things that have the word “Black” in front of them.

For example, “Black Tuesday” is our name for the New York Stock Market crash on October 29, 1929. It is considered the start of the Great Depression. I think you’ll admit that it was a pretty bad day for the world economy.

Even further back in history, the “Black Death” was one of the greatest pandemics the world has ever known. Commonly thought to be an outbreak of bubonic plague, it reduced Europe’s population by about a third. Peaking around 1350 A.D, we still speak of it in hushed whispers today. (Except for when we’re laughing out loud at the Monty Python sketch about bringing out your dead, which is very funny, even if you don’t get British humor.)

Everyone knows that “Black Cats” are evil. They’re witches’ familiars, of course. Put “Black” in front of something ordinary, and it becomes extraordinary – and bad.

So why is the day after Thanksgiving called “Black Friday”? It’s the start of the Christmas shopping season. You can get amazing bargains. You get to spend time with your neighbors at the local emporiums, perhaps seeing people you haven’t seen in too long. So I ask you again, why do we call it “Black Friday”?

If you were at Wal-Mart at 3AM this morning, you can begin to answer this question. If you went directly from Wal-Mart to Kohl’s, you’re feeling it. If you then ate a breakfast bar that has been in your purse since 1982 as you drove to the mall, you completely understand. You have bruises on your side from where some woman elbowed you away from the last Call of Duty video game on the shelf in Best Buys. Your feet hurt – that guy who stepped on them as he pushed in front of you in line at Target weighed a ton. You’re tired and hungry and annoyed, and you have the Christmas spirit of Scrooge, pre ghostly visits.

Ah. There you have it. The reason why today is “Black Friday”. To those of you who choose to shop today, I wish you happy bargain hunting. I will be hanging out at my local Starbucks, reading a novel and enjoying a tall nonfat decaf latte. Have a super day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks the American Way

            “You can peel and slice the apples for the pie,” my mom suggests.

            I think, “Oh boy, can I?” and promptly tell myself to lose the snarky attitude. “Sure,” I answer with enthusiasm. It’s the day before Thanksgiving.

            Feeling thankful for the people in our lives is something we do every single day. Setting aside a specific day and adding turkey, pumpkin pie, and football is what makes us Americans.

            Thanksgiving is a wonderful day. We get to bicker with our family members over the amount of salt in the stuffing, who has to do the dishes, and whether or not the Dallas Cowboys are going to win the 4 PM game. (Believe it or not, some of my family members don’t like the Cowboys. Go figure.)

            We also get to see family and friends we don’t normally see, and it’s a good excuse to talk on the phone with the ones who can’t be with us. We reminisce about Thanksgivings past, and remember those who have passed on. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to know and love them, even if they are no longer with us.

            Thanksgiving is a special day, and I hope each of you have a wonderful time bickering lovingly with your family. Tell your friends you love them, and eat your fill of turkey and pumpkin pie. Oh, and Go Cowboys!

            Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Because it's rude, that's why!

            Text messaging is the greatest invention since, well, the cellular phone. You can carry on a silent conversation with nearly anyone in the world.  I say nearly because I figure there may be people in Papua, New Guinea who don’t yet have cell service in some of the more remote jungles. So if you have family or friends there, you may not be able to text them. Take heart, though, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before that problem is remedied.
            There are definite advantages to texting over talking on your cell phone. The first is that texting is more private than talking. My teenage son finds this to be a big plus. None of us can hear what he’s saying while he’s texting his girlfriend. To my great disappointment, that cuts down a lot on the kissy-face noises we can embarrass him with while he’s trying to talk to her on the phone. My family did that to me a lot when I was a teenager. Admittedly, it was one of the few ways my parents had to get me off of our one and only phone. You know, the one with the cord. Well, watch Nick at Night and you’re sure to see one.
            I’ve also heard stories about people texting friends and family members during boring meetings at work. That’s because another advantage of texting is that it is a lot quieter than talking. Now just as an example (because you know I would never do such a thing), let’s pretend that I get out my cell phone during a meeting, call my husband and ask him about our plans for the evening, maybe discuss the relative merits of two movies we’d like to see and whether we’re in the mood for Italian or Chinese food. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right - someone is sure to notice after a while. That would probably be a bad career move on my part. However, if I’m texting from my Blackberry (again, this is just a far-fetched example), my boss is going to be impressed that I’m taking such good notes about every little thing he’s droning on, uh, discussing. Good plan, huh?
            There are, of course, disadvantages to texting. The woman in the new little convertible who plowed into the back of my minivan last month – I was completely stopped – found to her chagrin that texting requires too much concentration to perform properly while driving. Her insurance company thought it was a real bummer. You should probably stick with a wireless blue-tooth headset and actual talking if you must use the phone while you’re driving. Your insurance company and the soccer mom in the red Dodge Caravan in front of you will be much happier.
            Since I’m a teacher, I am required by state and county law to inform you that texting during your tenth grade Chemistry final is considered cheating. I know it’s not fair, but that’s how it is. Regardless of what Regis Philbin may tell you on TV, you don’t get to poll the audience or call a friend when you’re unsure of an answer. So unless you’re a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, skip the texting during exams. I hear your outrage, but I don’t make the rules. I only enforce them because I get paid a lavish teacher’s salary to do so. I suggest you take it up with Mr. Philbin.
            And so I come at last to the issue I meant to address when I titled this article. The answer to this question is crucial and has a major impact on society as we know it. Here it is. Is it acceptable to text friends and family members while you are seated at a dining table with others?
            I see some of you nodding – sure it’s OK – and some of you shaking your heads – of course it’s not OK. I’ve taken a considerable amount of time to ponder this question and I have to weigh in on the “not OK” side.
            Last June, my sixteen-year-old son and I took a delightful trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel in which we stayed had a never-ending pool with waterfalls and a swim-up bar.
            The beach was just beyond the pool, and you could swing gently in your hammock and listen to the waves roll in. We visited some caves, the Arecibo radio dish, the Bacardi rum distillery, and shopped in old San Juan. It was heavenly. If you don’t count meals, that is.
            The food was outstanding. I discovered that I love mashed plantains and that Puerto Rico offers culinary delights that I have tasted nowhere else in the world. So what was the problem? My son spent every minute we sat in restaurants texting his girlfriend. I would share my thoughts on the food and scenery, only to realize when my child responded with a “What?” that I had been tuned out. It was OK the first time or so, but toward the end of our seven days in island paradise I found that I had a nearly uncontrollable urge to throw his phone off of our sixth floor balcony into the ocean below.
            Over the course of several days, we chatted about what was obviously only my problem. I started by joking about being ignored. He smiled at my humorous tone. I progressed to politely asking him directly to please put away his phone. He always did, but the minute that phone vibrated, he was gone again. I started to get grumpy when it was time to eat a meal. I needed a solution and I needed it fast. My solution, admittedly not the most elegant, was to hiss at him from across the table, “Turn off that darn phone or I’m going to cut off your service.”
            I finally had his attention.
            “What?” he asked.
            “Stop texting at meals. I’m not kidding.” The people near us were trying to pretend we didn’t exist.
            He responded immediately. “Do you need your asthma inhaler?”
            “No. I – don’t – need – my – inhaler,” I gasped.
            “Are you sure? You look a little…”
            I took a deep breath. “Yes, I am sure. I want you to stop ignoring me by texting while we’re at the table.”
            “I’m not ignoring you.” I could hear the vibrating noise emanating from his pocket.
            “Yes, you are, and I – have – had – enough of being ignored!”
            “Well, all you had to do was ask,” he answered reasonably, pulling the phone out and reading his message. “I don’t see what the big problem is, though.”
            “I want you to stop texting at the table because it’s rude, that’s why!”
            “It’s rude?” It was as if he had never heard the word before. Why didn’t this young man’s mother teach him some manners? Uh…never mind.
            He started to answer that latest text. I waved my fork under his nose.
            I just stared at him, nostrils flaring.
            He looked down at his phone. “Oh. You’re serious.”
            “OMG,” I answered.
            He smiled charmingly. “No problem, mom.” He shoved the phone back into his pocket. “What do you want to talk about?”
            “Um,” I responded cleverly. Now that I had his full attention, I couldn’t remember why I’d wanted it. I motioned for the waiter to refill my mojito glass.
            “That looks good,” my son started, motioning to my glass filled with lime juice, mint, and Bacardi’s best rum distilled right there on the island. “Can I try some?”
            “No, you’re only sixteen. Sorry.”
            He nodded understandingly.
            The silence stretched out into infinity, broken only by the vibration of an unanswered cell phone.
            “You’d better answer that,” I said finally.
            “Are you sure you don’t mind?”
            I shrugged. Whatever.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Still Too Busy!

            “Honey, you’re out of control.”

            “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I continued to fold the towels and put them back in the spotlessly clean bathrooms.

            “You worked hard all day. Midnight is too late to be folding towels. Why don’t you come to bed now?” My husband patted the empty space next to him in our king-size bed invitingly.

            “Can’t. I still have stuff to do.” I moved the sheets into the dryer and loaded the washer with a pair of blankets.

            “None of this can wait until tomorrow?”


            “Dare I ask why?”

            “I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

            He nodded. “You’re probably right, but I’m going to ask anyway. Why can’t these chores wait until tomorrow?”

            “My schedule for tomorrow is completely packed. I have to finish this stuff tonight or I’ll start off tomorrow already behind.”

            “That’s nuts! How many things are on tomorrow’s list?”

            I pulled a neat to-do list out of the back pocket of my jeans and handed it to him. He was reading the second side when I handed him a list from a front jeans pocket. “This is today’s. See how much I haven’t finished?”

            The list he held up had thin black lines drawn through the jobs I had finished. Of the 25 or so items, 10 were crossed out. I dug into another pocket and pulled out another list.

            “Don’t tell me this is Sunday’s list.”

            “I won’t. That’s yesterday’s list. I had to finish all the stuff on there before I could start on today’s list. I started the day behind, and I’m still behind.” A tear slid from the corner of my eye. If I wasn’t always tired, I’m sure I could get more done.

            “Tomorrow we’re going to work on that list. We’re going to cut it down by choosing the top 5 most important, and leaving everything else off. You can’t keep going like this!”

            “It’s all important,” I whined. It wasn’t pretty.

            My husband gently pushed me down onto the bed. “I see there’s one thing you left off the list,” he teased. He had a sexy gleam in his eye.

            But it was too late. I was asleep when my head hit the pillow. He was right; there were other things to do that were more important than the chores on that list. Tomorrow would be different, right? Oh yeah.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Has your silverware gone missing?

            “Where are all the forks?”

            There was a blank expression on the three faces looking up at me.

            Pete, my darling eldest son, shrugged his shoulders and went back to watching Mythbusters.

            Alex, the baby – now a head taller than me – answered, “I have no idea.” He returned to texting his girlfriend.

            Chris, the love of my life, looked up from his Kindle and suggested, “Did you look in the dishwasher?”

            I avoided the use of sarcasm, but it was a struggle for me. “Yes, I did. We have 4 forks left and they are all in the dishwasher. We also have 3 spoons and 7 butter knives. What happened to all of the silverware?”

            It was obviously a rhetorical question, because I got no answer from my men.

            I sighed as I took out a ginormous serving spoon so that I could eat my little cup of yogurt. I didn’t need them to answer my question anyway. I knew where the silverware was.

            The knives had been left in pizza boxes that had been emptied of pizza and thrown away. The forks had gone missing in takeout containers of Chinese food and salad. The spoons were in the landfill, still in the half-gallon mint chocolate chip ice cream tubs.

            The serving spoon was too large to fit into the Yoplait container. I opened the pantry, stepping aside as at least 50 individually wrapped packets of plastic forks, knives, and spoons fell out onto the floor. Did you know that some restaurants even give out packets with napkins and salt? Jackpot!

            I scooped up the packets and placed them in the drawer where the actual silverware had once lived. There was plenty of room. Now as long as we didn’t stop eating take-out meals, we’d be set. I wouldn’t have to replace the silverware.

Of course, if I decided to start cooking….

            Yeah, that was likely. Not.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Going to your spouse's company holiday party? I'm sorry.

            Are you one of those poor souls stuck having to attend the company holiday parties arranged by your spouse’s employer? I feel your pain. After many years of practice, I am now comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people. My husband’s company Christmas party, however, brings on a serious case of the willies.

            “It’s nice to meet you. Chris has mentioned to me that you are a talented programmer.” Yes, this is a socially acceptable outright lie. While it is nice to meet this girl who is quite possibly half my age, I have to confess that my husband has never mentioned her. Of course, I might have gone to my happy place while he was speaking, but that’s not really the point, is it?

            “Do you have children?”

            “No, I don’t. I’m too focused on my career right now to start a family,” she answers.

            I nod and clear my throat, deciding not to mention that my eldest son is the same age she is. I also decide not to ask her if she’s married. My son really hates it when I fix him up. “Good for you,” I say in that overenthusiastic voice that makes me cringe when I hear it coming out of my mouth.

            She nods.


            “I’m a teacher,” I offer.


            My turn to nod.


            “I teach middle school English.”

            She grimaces. “Really?”

            “I’m afraid so,” I answer. Her response is not uncommon.

            “I don’t like kids,” she says.

            I smile broadly. “Me either.”

            She doesn’t get the subtle teacher joke. She obviously has never had a teacher who felt that it was her life’s goal to make children miserable.

            We look at each other for a moment, and then quickly focus our gazes on opposite sides of the crowded, too warm room. I’m having what might be called a hot flash if I were 6 months or so older, and inwardly cursing the impulse that led me to wear this festive red sweater.

            “I just finished reading the new Grisham novel. I had stopped reading his books for a while – they had gotten formulaic and were kind of boring – but I really liked this new one. Have you read it?”
            “I don’t read.”

            “Hmph!”  It’s the involuntary sound made when all of the air rushes out of your lungs. I eye her closely. She’s not kidding.

I raise my hand to attract the attention of the cute waiter with the tray of red and white wine, and then grab a glass of the Chablis as if it were the last life vest on the Titanic. This conversation, such as it is, is over.

            I hand her my business card. “Well, honey, if you ever want to learn how to read, give me a call. I’d be glad to teach you.”

            I left her staring after me with a puzzled expression on her face.

            “I don’t read?!” What-ev-a.

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's OK, Cowboys. I'm still rooting for you...


            “Mr. Jones? Wow, I didn’t realize you would actually answer your own phone. I mean, you own the Dallas Cowboys.”

            There was a big sigh. “Yes, I do.”

            “It’s been a rough year for you and the team.”

            “You could say that.”

            “Those of us who have been fans since the glory days of Troy Aikman feel your pain.”

            “That’s nice to know. I would have thought you’d have switched your allegiance to another team by now. The Colts or the Giants, maybe. Those Manning boys aren’t bad.” Jerry Jones sounded wistful.

            “It’s just not the same, sir. The Dallas Cowboys are America’s team, and your fans are 100% loyal. We may be too embarrassed right now to tell anyone we’re fans, but deep inside we’re keeping the faith.”

            “Uh huh. Listen, lady. What do you want?”

            “I just wanted to check in with you and let you know that I think firing Wade Phillips was the right move. I know it’s unusual to fire the head coach in the middle of the season, but really, what did you have to lose? The team couldn’t get any worse.”

            “I’m glad to know you approve.” Mr. Jones sounded a little snarky, but I’m sure that was just the effect of a bad phone connection.

            “I hope that Jason Garrett is able to rally the team. Your players must be as tired of losing as the fans are of watching them lose. I have my doubts, though. The offense has been extremely ineffective this year. The front line isn’t holding and your QB keeps getting sacked. Tony Romo has a broken collarbone, for heaven’s sake. Is it the offensive line that sucks, or are the offensive plays too obvious to the other team? Maybe promoting the offensive coordinator wasn’t the best choice.”

            “Look, lady, if I knew the answer to that question, the problem would already be fixed.”

            “Sure, I can understand that. I’m willing to give Mr. Garrett my full support. You have to admire the fact that he accepted the head coaching position under the circumstances. That takes guts!”

            “Yes it does.”

            “I guess you’re looking for a new accounting staff, too. Not paying for the Cowboys’ domain name and having your website dropped on the day you fired the head coach just added insult to injury.”

            There was a long pause before Mr. Jones answered, “Just between you and me, they didn’t pay my administrative assistant last month either. She quit and took a job with the Texans.”

            “Ouch! No wonder you’re answering your own phone. I’m sorry, Mr. Jones.”

            “You seem to be a straightforward person. I need someone just like you to answer my phone. Want to be my administrative assistant?”

            “I’m flattered, sir, but I’ll have to think about it. I’ll let you know after Sunday’s game, OK?”

            Jerry Jones chuckled. “You do that, lady.”

Hate the Dallas Cowboys? Here's an article you'll love!  http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20022316-71.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20

Love the Dallas Cowboys? You'll be happy to know they finally paid the bill for their domain name, so you can follow all the latest news on their website:  http://www.dallascowboys.com/ 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cowbells and Old Sandwiches

            “So do you remember the cowbells they gave away at the Atlanta Heart Walk last weekend?” Gloria asked me.

            Gloria and I and several of our sisters from the Alpha Delta Kappa sorority had raised money and walked in the American Heart Association 5k on October 30th. If you were there – or within a 5 mile radius – there is no way you could forget the cowbells. We were part of a very large herd of cowbell-wearing fundraisers.

            “Of course,” I replied. “My ears are still ringing.”

            “We’re having a pep rally at school on Friday and I wanted to give some of my more active 7th grade students something socially acceptable to do.”

            “You want to give students who can’t sit still during a pep rally a cowbell to play?”  I had taught middle school for seven years, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t hand out cowbells. Ever. “What an…inspired…idea.”

            “I’ll probably regret it,” she answered.

            “Ya think?”

            “Well….” There was a long drawn out pause. “The problem is that I can’t find the cowbells I collected during the walk.”

            “Too bad,” I commiserated. Her colleagues at the middle school would be dancing in the streets if only they knew.

            “I think I might have left them in your van. Way in the back.”

            “Oh. I’ll look right now. Not a problem,” I answered, propping my phone against my shoulder and opening the door to the van.

            Gloria coughed delicately. “They’d be in the white bag we got after the walk. You know, the ones that the free Subway sandwiches were in?”

            “Glo-ri-a! It has been more than a week since the Heart Walk. Are you trying to tell me…?”

            “I’m afraid so, sweetie,” she answered apologetically. “I’m surprised you didn’t notice the smell before now.”

            I held the white bag at arm’s length. It had been wedged next to the back row of seats, and it was ripe. It also jangled. “Your cowbells are in the bag with what used to be a veggie sub, Gloria. I’m not getting them out.”

            “Just throw the bag away. Giving cowbells to middle school students is a bad idea anyway,” she replied.

            My eyes crossed. “Sometimes you make me nuts, Gloria.”

            “I love you too, girl.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Heart Juke Box

            “Are you OK?”

            “Sure, I’m fine. Why do you ask?”

            “You just look…tired.”

            “Well, who doesn’t these days,” I laughed half-heartedly. There’s nothing like having someone ask if you’re sick on a day when the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you have a song in your heart. The song in my heart had been “Zip a Dee Doo Dah”. Now my little heart juke box was playing “Don’t Rain on my Parade”.

            “Still not feeling well?” my oldest son asked a while later. He looked at me sympathetically. “I’m sorry.”

            Well, isn’t that sweet. He is such a nice young man.
            “Actually, I feel fine today,” I answered. To tell you the truth, I was starting to feel a little ill. You know, the power of suggestion and all that. “Good Morning Heartache” by Billie Holiday moaned and throbbed in my heart soundtrack.

            By the time I met Gloria for lunch, I was depressed and I had a headache.

            “Darn, girl, what’s the matter with you?”

            “I don’t know. I think I might be getting sick.”

            She looked at me carefully. “That color of powder makes you look like you should be on a slab at the morgue. Other than that, you look OK to me.”

            For the first time in an hour, I smiled. I waved the bartender over and bought Gloria a glass of the best red wine they sold. I had bought a different shade of make-up from my usual; I decided right then and there it would be a good idea if I saved the rest for the mortician to apply before closing my casket for the final time. I’d stop at the drugstore on my way home and go back to my old shade.

            “Gloria, what would I do without you?” My heart chimed in with the chorus from James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend.”

            The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I had a song in my heart. “My, oh my, what a wonderful day!”         

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don't Try This at Home

            “Oh sh…shoot. D…Darn it all to h…heck.” My sixteen year old son Alex stood on the driveway, smirking behind his hand. I didn’t want to curse in front of him – not sure why, it’s not like he doesn’t know the words – but I stuttered out acceptable substitutes anyway.

            “Did you hit the garage wall, Mom?” he asked, his face now properly schooled into a mask of concern. “Are you OK?”

            I had been trying to back my van out of the garage while cleverly managing to avoid hitting Alex’s car, which was parked behind mine. Unfortunately, I turned the wheel too sharply, and hit the garage wall.

            “Yes, I hit the f…freaking garage wall. Yes, I’m f…freaking OK.”
            I got out of my red mini-van and looked at the thick white streak that the drywall had left on the front left panel. “Sh…shoot.” I hoped that maybe it would simply wipe off, but that was not the case. It was going to take some work and some touch-up paint to fix the d…darn van.

            Alex backed his car further down the drive, and I pulled out of the garage. Alex had walked around me and was looking at the garage wall. I sighed as I got out of the van and joined him in the garage.

            “Oh my g…gosh! Tell me you can’t see the kitchen through that f…freaking hole in the wall! Son of a…gun!”

            Alex said…nothing. He just went into the house. He made it most of the way to the stairs before he started to laugh.

            I could hear him, d…darn it, through the f…freaking hole in the wall.

            Shaking my head, I walked into the kitchen and slammed the door behind me. Dry wall dust fluttered out from the hole in the kitchen and made swirling patterns in the air. Nice.

            I’m really too d…darn stressed to deal with this now.  Right now, I’m going to hide in the bathtub until the water gets cold and the candles burn out. I’ll handle it tomorrow, or maybe the day after that. Do you suppose if I wait long enough, my husband will fix it? Now that’s a thought worthy of a tiny smile. I feel better already.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That First Date...Again


             Shelby nodded. “Robert?”

            “You’re gorgeous!” Robert blurted. I winced for him from across the Starbucks where I had been half-heartedly writing while drinking my non-fat Chai latte. Poor guy.

            Not that he wasn’t completely correct in his assessment. Shelby, I would guess, was in her late twenties, willowy, tall and blonde. I’d bet a bundle she spent her evenings working out in the fitness place next door to the Starbucks. She was professionally dressed, and looked as if she was just stopping for coffee on her way to the next meeting at the ad agency where she was the creative director.

            Robert, attractive, in his mid-forties, leaned forward and kissed Shelby on the cheek. Oh dear, that was two strikes. One more and he was out. She leaned away, her nostrils flared a bit, and her lips tightened. She smiled at him, not showing what I’m sure were perfect white teeth.

            Robert sucked in a very slight paunch and pulled himself together. He was wearing a white Oxford shirt, open slightly at the collar. His only jewelry was an expensive gold watch, and he had thick dark wavy hair. It was a plus for him that he wasn’t sporting a couple pounds of bling and going bald. “It’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve been enjoying chatting with you online.”

            It was an “ah hah” moment for me. Internet meeting, first date. Got it.

            “Would you like something to drink?” he asked politely, gesturing toward the counter and the barista waiting patiently for their order.

            Shelby knew her way around Starbucks, that much was obvious. She rattled off a string of coffee-related words. “I’d like a tall decaf non-fat cinnamon dolce latte with sugar-free syrup. No whip.”

            Robert looked a bit dazed. “Um, I’ll have coffee.”

            “What size, sir?”

            Robert squinted at the board. “Um…small?”

            Shelby looked like she wanted to smile for the first time since she’d walked in. He did look kind of cute wearing that befuddled expression.

            “What kind of coffee would you like?”

            “Coffee-coffee,” Robert answered desperately. “Just black coffee, no cream, no sugar.”

            Does Starbucks make regular black coffee?  Why yes, they do. The barista nodded.

            Robert pulled out a $20 and proceeded to pay. I decided that it was a good sign for him that Shelby allowed him to pay without protesting. She might not have wanted to be obligated to return the favor in the future, not that a $5 cup of coffee was a major commitment that had to be repaid. He also didn’t choke at or even mention the exorbitant cost of the two cups of coffee. Another check in the plus column.

            Shelby led the way to a small table by the window. Robert picked up their cups and followed her. He didn’t trip, and he didn’t spill anything. I decided he might have a shot at a second date, possibly lunch.

            And then he opened his mouth and started talking about his job, his kids, and his ex-wife. Crash and burn.

            Shelby reached into her designer bag and pulled out an i-Phone. “Excuse me, Robert,” she said, holding up one finger. She put the phone to her ear and proceeded to murmur into it. It was odd really, because I hadn’t heard it ring or even make vibrating noises.

            “I’m sorry, Robert,” Shelby apologized as she tucked the phone back in her bag. “I have to get back to the office. There’s a big…um…emergency that I have to handle.” She stood up, and he hurriedly stood up next to her.

            “Of course,” he said, graciously. I wasn’t sure I could have ignored the sad puppy eyes as easily as Shelby did. She had no choice, though. Getting involved with a guy who was still hung up on his ex-wife must be a nightmare.

            She stuck out her hand before he could kiss her again, and he shook it like a man. He wasn’t stupid, and he rolled his eyes and grimaced at himself as he watched her walk out the door.

            “It’s hard to get back into dating at my age,” he said to me when he noticed that I was looking in his direction. He sank back down into his chair and started peeling chunks from his empty paper coffee cup.

            “I can only imagine…” I answered, pushing back my hair with my left hand – the one with the wedding ring on the third finger. “…and I’m thankful for that.”