Monday, September 27, 2010

I Feel Pretty...

       My nephew is getting married this weekend. While I certainly wish him and his lovely bride a long lifetime of happiness, I don't know if I will be able to forgive him for forcing me to go shopping. Oh, I'm not talking about shopping for wedding presents --that I can cheerfully manage. No, I had to go shopping for a dress. A dress for myself. A dress I could wear to his wedding. You know, a dressy dress. Something that requires me to wear shoes -- shoes that do not have rubber soles! Now you see where I'm coming from.
       Don't get me wrong; I can shop all day for books or music. I can set up camp in a candle shop or hobby store. I love browsing for the perfect wine or the freshest truffle. God knows, I will spend hours joyfully perusing non-perishables and assorted sundries at the local Winn-Dixie. And, boy-howdy, do I enjoy clicking that little "add to cart" button on that there internet. But, please do not ask me to shop for clothes. Especially not clothes for myself. My entire wardrobe consists of four pairs of blue denim jeans and four white shirts. These go very well  with my classic white canvas Ked's sneakers. (For a more formal occasion, I will wear socks).
     I think my fashion reluctance goes back to an Easter Sunday when I was four years old. My mom  had taken me shopping for my Easter outfit a few weeks earlier. And, oh, what a lovely outfit we found! The dress had an underskirt of taffeta with folds of the palest, most enchanting shade of pastel green gauze and silk skirts cascading over a myriad of lacy, starched petticoats. There was this big bow that tied in the back. Rounding out this ensemble were a pair of white patent leather shoes with sweet little baby-doll straps, a pair of white gloves, an Easter bonnet adorned with pastel petals and lacy ribbons, and finally, a shiny new white purse with a star-shaped snap on the front and a beaded handle that looked so precious in my little white-gloved hand.
       As I stood staring at my reflection in the mirror on Easter morning, I felt like a princess. I was certain that anyone who looked at me would think I had been enchanted with a magical radiance by some fairy godmother. I was so proud...maybe too proud.
        I left my bedroom and airily glided into the living room where siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles had gathered, all anxiously awaiting the call to choose who was riding with whom to sunrise services. I was poised. I was graceful. I was waiting for a compliment. That was when a couple of aunts I saw once a year only on Easter mornings called me to stand before them. They looked me over from head to toe. Finally, one of them asked me if I felt all right. The other aunt clucked her tongue and said, "My, what a thin, frail, sickly child I looked." I was devastated. I didn't look pretty at all. (I had been very ill as a child, constantly in and out of the hospital and doctor's offices because of a kidney ailment). Suddenly, I hated wearing that beautiful dress. I detested my new shoes. I wanted to tear that Easter bonnet from my head and send it sailing through the air across the living room like a frisbee. The purse and white gloves now reeked of ridiculousness. I felt like a cockroach in an Easter basket.
       Funny how some memories stick with you. So, here I am more than half a century later, still hesitant to get dressed up. I don't want to draw attention to myself. I don't want to invite scrutiny. I just want to wear my blue jeans and white shirt and fade into the wallpaper. Sure wish my nephew had opted for a casual wedding.
       Oh, well. Maybe it won't be as bad as the time I went to my cousin's wedding wearing a dress that looked just like the bride's! (True story, I swear). It just goes to show that nothing good can come out of making me go shopping for clothes or forcing me to get dressed up!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tall Tales and Pet Pigs

       Well, here I sit thinking it is time to write another blog. What should I write about, though? It seems I used to have much to say about very little, but I find the older I get, the less I have to say. Of course, this is a source of consternation... I mean, the older I get, the more life experiences I have, right? With that comes more wisdom, more  anecdotes in the cookie jar, more observations, and more, more, more slices of prosaic pie putamen to ponder. Hmmm...why don't I have more to say? 
       I mean, I know people who wake up one morning with crow's feet, sagging upper arms, increasing recollections and waning memory, and they are a fountain of words. Take my father, for example. In his youth, he was a man of very few words (which was a good thing, because with a wife and two daughters, it was problematic for him to get a word in edgewise). He bided his time, though. These days he is a conversation stalker. He will ruthlessly chase people down to talk at them. He will corner his prey and begin a story that may have a basis in truth, but an avalanche of embellishments. He will lick his lips and rub his palms together as he recounts countless tidbits of titillating information from times so long gone that no one dares argue the facts. (And make no mistake, facts are a nuisance for my dad, God bless him). As many spinners of yarns will tell anyone who crosses their paths, facts can really get in the way of a good story. So, it is with a grain of salt and a pound of doubt that we give credence to tales of our fathers...which is not to say they lie. Rather, they know how to tell a good story.     
       Having said this, I remember a Christmas dinner a few years ago. We sat at the  table, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and the cherished collective acquaintances, all relishing the joy of the day, aglow in the amiable familiarity of family and friends. The food was palatable and the wine freely flowed and so began a tale by my father...a tale that came out of nowhere and quickly enthralled us all. It involved a Christmas from many years past and the memory of a family pet, Pygmalion the Pig. All was well as long as Pygmalion was a sweet, tiny little porker of a pig. Problems ensued, though, as Pygmalion grew. Alas, that sweet little porcine pet became a surly sow, wont to wreak havoc on the unwary. Woe to the milkman, the post man, the deliverymen, and unsuspecting solicitors. Woe to the neighborhood children and their better behaved pets. Eventually, Pygmalion became so mean, that she had to be dealt with most severely. Here, my father wipes a tear from his eye as he tells us of the decision to put that poor pig to sleep. We all sigh, wipe at our own tears, and try to swallow the lumps in our throats. It is precisely at this moment that dear old Dad says, "You know, it took seven bullets to put that pig to sleep." You could have heard a pig...errrr...I mean pin drop! And, of course, you guessed it -- Pygmalion the Pig was the Christmas ham that year!
       Conversation came to a halt. We all eventually picked our jaws up off the table. Needless to say, none of the kids wanted Grandpa to tuck them in that night. As for me, I still shudder to this day if anyone says "sleep tight" to me. Poor Pygmalion...
       Anyway, I digress. Maybe someday, when memory mingles with reality and delusion, I will have more to say on all topics. My father, who was until recently a man of few words, will be my inspiration. I love his stories and, God help me, I will speak in the tongues of those who tell tall tales and, like my father, maybe I won't let facts get in the way either!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What a Week!

       Well, it's been a pretty exciting week! I've just published my first novel, Strange Loops, as a Kindle book at Amazon. Actually, it is a book I co-authored with my daughter, Jenny. We had so much fun writing it together and it feels good to actually see it as a finished product now!
       So, what to do next? I'm thinking of publishing a childrens' book I wrote and illustrated a few years back. It will probably be a lot of work to format it, but I had so much fun with the last one that I'm ready to dive in to a new project.
       The best part of the week, though, was having my family here for my birthday. Jenny and her husband, Ken, actually live just up the street from me (which I love!!!), and my parents live only a couple of miles away which is also very nice. They came bearing gifts (thank you, everyone!!!). Jenny, who is a wonderful baker, made me the most beautiful, delicious chocolate cake with this divinely creamy peanut butter icing. It tasted like a giant Reese's cup, which must truly be the food of the gods! My son, Kyle, and his girlfriend, Kristina, came all the way down from Atlanta to help me celebrate. Kristina's mom, Sandy, also came over to join the party. Honestly, it doesn't get any better than family and good friends and I am so happy that they were all here for the festivities! We feasted on pizza, beer, and wine before we cut into that scrumptious cake I was telling you about. Ahhh, Heaven!!! I won't tell you how old I am, but I will say that I'm old enough that it was a really big deal to me when the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. (Dinosaurs did not sit behind me in Homeroom, though.)

My beautiful birthday cake!
(Thanks Jenny!)
       Now you would think things couldn't get any better, wouldn't you? Family, good friends, good food! Well, let me tell you what happened next; right in the middle of the party, Kyle walks over to Kristina and gets down on one knee. Then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out this gorgeous ring and -- you guessed it -- he proposes to her! We all knew it was coming, but Kristina was stunned and delighted! She cried and she said "yes!" So, this will be the year I got a new daughter for my birthday!

Kyle and Kristina admiring her ring!
      I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I know it will be difficult for me to ever have a better birthday than this one and I am so grateful to all the wonderful people who made it so special for me. Thank you one and all!