How Suburban White Women Bond

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I went on my feeble, little jog this morning,  then headed to DD for my coffee.  While out, I decided to stop at Target for a couple of camping supplies: batteries, twizzlers, bubble gum.  You camp your way, I’ll camp mine.

I was still wearing my knee-length stretchys and racer-back top.  Most of my hair was still in the bun I threw it in before the run,  which means the straps of my sports bra weren’t hidden.
One of the things I love about being 40 is that I rarely feel self concious anymore, and this morning I was feeling extra-not self concious.

Was.

I, as it turns out,  am a very approachable person – to strangers.   I know me to be an overly critical bitch sometimes, but apparently this isn’t a vibe easily picked up on by the uninitiated.

After paying, I was on my way out the door when a Jersey-accented lady behind me (in similar attire, because that’s Wakefield pre-10am dress code) says, “Oh, I just hate those racer-backs, don’t you?”

I don’t know why,  but I assume she is making reference to my VBS (visible bra straps, not vacation bible school).

“Yeah, ’cause you can’t get in or out of the racer-back bras without tearing a rotator cuff,” I reply.

“Well there’s that, but they also squeeze you and show your back fat.”

That bitch.

But then she walked in front of me and I realized she was right.  Her back fat was all bubbled up in her armpits.

I think we’d be pretty good friends.

NOLA

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I landed in New Orleans in time for lunch.   On the drive in to the French Quarter I saw that the city has cleaned up an awful lot since my last visit,  4 years ago.
I started getting a sinking feeling when I arrived at my hotel on Iberville St.  I noticed the FQ has cleaned up, too.  no more crumbling brick.  No more rusty Louisiana lace.  The stucco is fresh and new and all the buildings are now…whats the word?…plumb

I spent the afternoon looking for signs of apathetic decay, but they are seemingly gone.  Later, I met up with my husband and his work folks for dinner and a little alcotainment (alcohol + entertainment) down on Bourbon Street.  Walking the dirty mile,  there is a noticeable police presence.   Some joints have security staff.  There are actual trashcans lining the sidewalks.  When I noticed that all of the hookers and club girls are now wearing panties, my fear was confirmed; The French Quarter has turned into the Epcot version of itself.

There is a Build-A-Bear next door to the Hustler Club.  OK,  not really.  Yet.

One thing has not yet changed.   It still smells like jumbalya and sugar by day and piss and garbage by night.

I’ve got the day to myself to explore some more.  I’m going to go hang out down in a cemetery and lament the good old days with those guys.

Father’s Day

I went digging through old albums looking for my favorite photo of my daddy for father’s day.  It’s the one where you can’t tell I’m actively peeing on myself.

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My daddy invented laughing until you can’t breathe.  Ignore the cigarette; I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.

My mom taught me how to use my words, but my daddy taught me which ones to use.  Then he pleaded for leniency on my behalf when they got me into trouble.

A few pages before I found that photo, I ran into another early childhood gem and it reminded me of one of the more important lessons I learned from my daddy.  Here it is:

There are bad days.  Acknowledge them, curse if it makes you feel better, then move on.

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Here, I’ve got one of my earlier, self-inflicted bang trims, my mother has dressed me in what appears to be a quilt top she gave up on, and I am sitting, bare-assed, on hot, gritty concrete.  If you look closely, you’ll see I also have a bloody knuckle.  It was a Well, Damn kind of day.

But better ones followed.  My hair grew out, I got a job and stopped letting my mother dress me.  I learned how and where not to sit while going commando.  And I always knew I could count on my daddy for a good belly laugh.

I miss him.

Perspective

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For the last five days I’ve been slogging around the damp chaos of a flooded house, listening to the deafening whir of dehumidifiers and gigantic fans.  Today, the hardwoods were pulled up and I’ve been told to expect to live without floors for the next six weeks or so.

You know what all this is?   Training!

In seventeen days I leave this lunacy and head up a mountain that I know with certainty will greet me with monsoon conditions.  I will live outside in the dirt and mud where for ten whole days I will rise and fall with the sound of bagpipes and drums.

I can’t wait!

Franklin Graham Pisses Me Off

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Franklin Graham needs a publicity advisor.  That, or a good friend whom he will trust when they tell him to shut up.

My standard disclaimer:  I respect the right of all people, including Graham, not to engage in homosexual acts of passion or commitment.
I also respect the motives behind any individual who chooses to do, or not do, business with a company for any reason.  (Aside: I don’t believe that’s a two way right.  If you’re a business you damn well better be willing to do business with any paying customer.)

But Graham just took to the gay-friendliest social network to announce he is moving half a billion ministry dollars because Wells Fargo has a touching commercial that happens to feature a same sex couple.  He threw some shade at Tiffany Jewelers for the same reason.

Graham is quoted in the News & Observer, “…a bank should be promoting the best interest rates they’re going to give me and what they can do for me as a business.  But they should not be trying to get into a moral debate.”

First of all, good freakin’ luck finding a new financial institution that will publicly share your beliefs, Frankie.

Secondly, these businesses of yours; aren’t they tax exempt charities?

Why, in the name of all that is holy, do you have Half.A.Billion.Dollars (and who knows how much in other assets) of tax exempt donations sitting in a freaking bank?

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There are hungry people at your own back door.   There are hungry people no more than 25 steps from every single destination your jets can reach.  I ask again, why is that money in a bank?

Mr. Graham did manage to say one thing I agree with yesterday.   I don’t think he should be shopping at Tiffany’s, either.

So, A Southern Belle Walks Into A Beauty Shop… or Sophia Lauren is a Bucket of Shit

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I spent last weekend in Boston’s south shore enjoying the company of some fun, friendly people that I’m so happy to call family.

The occasion was a wedding and many of the lady-folk made appointments in Hingham to have their hair and makeup done. I planned on doing mine myself, and did end up doing my own makeup. However, as the primping hour approached I was feeling less motivated about standing four hours with my arms in the air, taming and teasing more volume into my sea-induced afro.
So after lunch, Mr.Me and I walked across the street from our resort to a salon and asked if they had time for an up-do. The latter-middle-aged, Italian stylist, who was picking the thin hair of an octogenarian through a plastic cap told me to go back to my room and change into a button up shirt and come right back. The other latter-middle-aged stylist on duty peppered Mr.Me with questions; where we were from, where the wedding was taking place, who his family is, where they live.

Twenty minutes later I returned by myself, shirt changed and braced for the fog of hairspray I was about to inhale. The octogenarian was sitting nearby, bedecked with aluminum foil antennae and had been joined by a contemporary receiving her weekly blow-out from the other hair dresser, who asked the room in general if any of us had seen Raquel Welch lately. She’s always been beautiful, was the consensus.

Grandma Blow-out was finished off and sent out the door with a “See you next week,” while Nana Foil-head took to the sink to have the poison rinsed from her scalp.

While my hair was being teased by the Italian dresser to heights I’ve never before reached, Nana Foil-head, in a poorly hushed voice, asked the other stylist, “What’s going on with Linda?”

There was no air between the question and reply, “Oh, you know she’s a little bit wackadoodle, right? She only dates younger men.”

At first I braced myself: I am gossip-averse. I have no qualms about bitching and complaining, but I learned long ago that people who will gossip to you will also gossip about you.

“Oh, is that right?”

My Italian dresser joined in, still back-combing the hell out of my hair, “The man she is seeing now is forty!”

The other dresser says, “And you know her daughter likes them older, right? She’s with a fifty-six year old, or something like that. I don’t know what’s wrong with them! ”

But Nana Foil-head knows! “Well they’re fucked up!”

Now, where I grew up, little old ladies don’t say, “fuck.” This partially accounts for my distrust of them, I’m sure. But I clearly don’t know these people and I began to relax into their catty judgment of others.

“I sure wouldn’t wanna hafta be nobody’s teacher,” one or the other of the two dressers said.

This gave me pause. I am forty! There’s more to learn? ?

Grandma Blow-out surprised us all by exiting the bathroom, saying her goodbyes, collecting her belongings from a corner chair, and leaving just like we all thought she had already done.

I don’t know if Grandma Blow-out knows Linda Cougar-pants or maybe (God, I hope so), might actually be Linda Cougar-pants, but while she was in our presence the subject was changed back to Raquel Welch. The other stylist brought me a new-smelling magazine to show me Raquel’s latest wig ads.

Wait. Didn’t they first begin talking about Raquel Welch when I re-entered the beauty parlor?

I look at the ad and concur. She is stunning! Appreciating her curves, I tell the dressers and Nana Foil-head that my mother once told me that when Raquel was just starting out Hollywood didn’t like her because she was too scrawny. Her mother sent her to Italy to fill up (and out) on pasta and meat and cheese. In almost perfect unison both hair dressers corrected me, my Italian one just a little too excitedly for my comfort with a hot curling iron now in her hand. “That was Sophia Loren!”

“Oh! Yes, probably that was Sophia Loren! That would make more sense,” I concede.

My Italian dresser comes to life when she says, not caring who can hear her, and perhaps hoping everyone can, “Sophia Loren is a bucket of shit!”

I think my throat made a noise as I actively tried to keep my jaw from dropping. Latter-middle-aged ladies where I grew up also don’t say “Shit.”

She went on.

“You remember when I saw her in the Rome airport that time?” She gestures towards the other dresser. “She is a bucket of shit, I told you! She had her two little boys with her and they are adorable but she is a bucket of shit!”

“I remember that,” says the other dresser, sounding like she wished she didn’t.

“And then I saw her out in California and she was still a bucket of shit! You know her mother married her sister off to Mussolini. When I saw her in the airport in Rome she was with some of them from that family. She’s still friendly with the Mussolinis, you know that?”

I was still nervous about the ethnically-prescribed hand waving with the curling iron around my face, so I tried to change the subject. “You’re making my hair so pretty! I feel so glamorous! I’m a mom and I don’t ever get to play dress up!'” I fib.

The other dresser takes my lead and feigns interest in my kids. How many? How old? 6 total? Oh, 3 didn’t come out of your body! How old are you?

Now, that should have been a straight forward enough question, but now I’m inexplicably scared of becoming gossip fodder myself when I leave. They’ve met my husband; he walked me in on my first visit. He not only looks significantly older than me, he kind of is. What if that makes me just as fucked up as Linda Cougar-pants?

It’s not like I’ve not already wrestled this aspect of our relationship into the ground (and won!), but there I was, nearly paralyzed with fear of becoming the gossip-ee, as if I hadn’t already sealed that fate when I walked in off the street with my southern accent, asking for big hair.

“Cat got your tongue, honey? How old are you?”

“Forty-seven,” I blurted out while furiously trying to do the birthday math in my head in case I’m challenged. It’s a reflex leftover from my under-age days, apparently. 1968. Whew, got it. Wait! Who was president? Goddammit! I’m experiencing test-brain. Who the hell was president in 1968? It was an election year…my birthday fell before the vote. Shit! That makes me almost 48! Shit! Shit! Let’s see, Ford, Nixon, Johnson. Johnson. Or maybe it was Kennedy? Holy hell, I’m in Massachusetts. They’ll catch me lying about my age because I don’t know when Kennedy was president. Wait, yes I do! He died in 1963. I went to Dealey Plaza last year. And the moon! We went to the moon in 1969 (thanks, Even Stevens!).

I’m not sure how that last fact actually helped secure Johnson as my final answer, but I tuned back in to the beauty shop around me to find nobody was actually questioning my age. I was passing for 47 goddamned years old.

Nana Foil-head was still smiling at me through the mirror and her hair was now beautifully blown dry and curiously the exact same color as Grandma Blow-out’s.

“Where’s the weddin’,” my Italian dresser asked as she began the endurance bobby-pinning phase of this event.

“At Black Rock Country Club,” I answer, pretending she hadn’t just punctured my skull.

“Where’s that?” She asked through the unoccupied corner of her mouth.

“I dunno,” I answered like the tourist I am.

The other dresser helped out. “It’s over there where Belichick lives. Are your family friendly with the Belichicks?”

“Will Bill Belichick be at the weddin’?” My Italian dresser is getting excited again.

“I don’t know. Nobody mentioned that. Maybe?” I was now worried that if the head coach for the Deflatriots was also a wedding guest any conversation of balls would be off the table for the entire evening. How can I really be expected not to mention balls at least once during what my mother-in-law dubbed a fancy-pantsy country club wedding?

“Do you like the Patriots?” My Italian dresser asked?

“Probably not, she isn’t from here,” the other dresser helped. Then she thought again, “But Carolinar doesn’t have their own team and she has to like somebody. Who do you root for, honey?”

I thought maybe it would be rude to simultaneously point out that she was wrong about Carolinar and explain how I don’t count the Panthers as a real team anyway, so I laid my football heart bare. “I used to be a huge Miami Dolphins fan, but I’m not anymore so I’ve kind of lost all interest in football.”

Nana Foil-head looked at me sympathetically. “Dan Marino?” It was like she could see my heart.

I nodded.

“It’s okay, honey,” the other dresser comforted me.

“When you’re ready, you’ll find another team,” consoled my Italian dresser just before launching the hairspray assault that would keep her masterpeice beautiful and on my head all night.

I paid the very reasonable thirty dollars for the new ‘do and tipped another $10, hoping a 33.3% gratuity might buy me a kinder, gentler gossiping when I left.

The weddin’ was the most perfect I’ve ever seen, from a bride so exquisitely beautiful she should grace every bridal magazine cover, to a rainbow custom ordered by her smiling grandfather in heaven.

I’m happy to report that Belichick was, in fact, not in attendance and I was able to freely discuss balls all evening.