Boys


Boys.

If they can climb it,

jump on it,

stomp in it,

roll on it,

swing on it,

and even better, jump off it,

they love whatever it is.

If it gets them dirty,

smelly,

sweaty,

wet,

or even better, muddy,

they want it.

If they can eat it,

drink it,

throw it,

smear it,

and it still tastes good,

they will take it.

If they can yell,

scream,

whistle,

shout,

growl,

and be loud,

they say it.

Boys.

Not your cream puff video game players,

Boys.

Learning to be men by doing, playing, coping, challenging.

Boys.

Hard to raise, harder to let go of.

Boys.

Pride, honor, dignity,

mine.

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Where Is The Joy?


Recently, I sat in a room full of people waiting for an appointment. I joined the people around me and sat with them for nearly an hour. In all that time not one person started up a conversation. Now these people weren’t sick with the flu or any sort of illness that would have them feeling miserable. And though there could have been some anxiety among them due to upcoming tests, it wasn’t something that would be catastrophic news if it were negative. So, why, I wondered, was the room filled with miserable, grumpy, unhappy people?

When I sat down, I greeted the lady next to me by asking if the seat was available. She nodded, and humphed at me, like I was bothering her by asking. I was being polite, I could have just plopped myself down and ignored her. I smiled and thanked her. She shrugged and muttered, “Whatever.” Okay, so she was in a sour mood. Happens to all of us. But she wasn’t the only person with that sour attitude.

Okay, no one likes to wait at a doctor’s office. I get that. I don’t either, but instead of sitting there being put out, I plan for the wait. I have my Kindle, or a book, or something to work on. I hate just sitting with nothing to do, unless I am talking to someone. So I got my Kindle out, to continue reading a very funny story. I try, when reading in public, not to laugh out loud since it can bother others, and it makes me look slightly, um, off. But, the book was really funny, and I got caught off guard and laughed out loud at the story.

Holy Cats! The looks I got would make you think I had passed gas or something. Ten or more sets of eyes turned toward me as I laughed. They were glaring, and faces looked angry or annoyed, brows drawn, mouths frowning, and not one word was said. Nothing. Just glares. It was freaky, like they were all connected by a puppet master. For a heartbeat I almost apologized. However, something rebellious in me wouldn’t let me. Holding up my Kindle, I said, “This is a great story. The writer really has a way with humor.” Normally, someone would ask the name of the book, or comment about humor. Not that day. Nope. The grumpy woman next to me actually got up and moved one seat over. Really! “Huh!” I thought, “Excuse me for having a sense of humor.” I went back to reading.

This whole event got me to thinking about people in public. The question that kept jumping out was, “Where is the joy?” Is it now forbidden to be happy in public? Are we not supposed to laugh at things? When did it become rude to be polite? The people in that room were all about my age, some older, a few younger, but we were all pretty much of the same generation. We were raised to be polite, respectful, and to know how to casually chat in a public setting. As a people, have we forgotten how to communicate with one another unless it is by typing on a computer or phone? Or is it just no longer socially acceptable to acknowledge those around you?

Even when people are talking to each other, they have their eyes constantly moving toward their device of choice, just in case a remote being contacts them. Most of the time, people in public aren’t laughing together, everyone seems so serious, like happiness is forbidden. So, I ask you, Where is the JOY? Why is there a pervasive feeling of negativity around people most of the time.

Last time I went to the grocery, I was greeted by a lady that has worked there for as long as I can remember. When she started, she worked in the Pharmacy. When I was desperately ill for a year, she handled most of my prescriptions. Since my husband was in there several times a week for nearly a year, she got to know him well. When I was finally healthy enough to leave the house, we went to the store and she walked right up to me and hugged me. “Mrs. Combs, I have been praying for you every day. I am so happy to see you are well enough to get out of the house. Your husband sure does love you.” We chatted for a few minutes. Fast forward to now. The lady who greeted me was laughing and telling everyone hello. She greeted many by name, and when she saw me she walked up and hugged me, practically dancing me around in her joy to see me. “Mrs. Combs! I am so glad to see you today, you feeling well?” Her JOY was amazing. Everyone who met her smiled, everyone was glad to see her too, and the few who just walked by in their grumpy world, she simply let go. It didn’t bother her, and she didn’t let it infect her joy. I hate shopping, but I look forward to her greeting every time I go, because she makes me happy no matter how busy, inattentive, frustrated, or hectic my life is. At that moment, I am distracted from the nonsense and engulfed in her JOY!

So, people, Where Is YOUR Joy? Why do we plod through the day, when we can dance through it? How have we allowed ourselves to be afraid to be happy in public. You know, my Grannie used to say, “Smile, honey. It makes people wonder what you have been up to.” She was right. Smiling has a very strong response from everyone. Some smile back, some nod, some people ignore your smile, but most just act like you have insulted them by being rude enough to be happy or polite.

Everyone is angry, in fact the younger generation seems to make angry the “go to” emotion of their daily life. Being offended is an art among a lot of people. And, if you dare to be happy, or even content, you will be condemned, either overtly or covertly by people around you. I don’t get it. I was raised to be polite, to smile in greeting people, and to conduct simple chats with strangers in a public setting. I want to be happy, but for years let myself be shamed into being mute.

The rebel in me refuses to allow that from now on. I am going to be like the lady at the grocery. I am going to smile and greet everyone with a sense of Joy. And if they ignore it or dislike it, I will let them go on their grumpy, angry way. But I will have done my part in being Joyful. It is up to them to pass it on. I ask you again, Where Is The Joy in your life?

Favorites


I was cutting onions for a soup this afternoon. I was using my favorite paring knife, one I’ve had for over twenty-five years. I like my knife, and it annoys me when someone else uses it. “Huh,” I thought, “I wonder if that is weird or if other cooks feel that way about their knives.” I have probably close to two dozen, mostly very sharp, knives in my kitchen. Most of them have a certain purpose for chopping, cutting, or what ever needs done to make a meal. If I had to chose five to keep, I already know which five are my favorite. Is that weird, or is it any different from anyone who uses any sort of tools on a regular basis?

I know my Dad had his favorite tools that he liked to use for different projects. He also had his favorite guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, amplifier, microphone, and hat. My mom had her favorite sewing machine, and heaven help us if we messed up her favorite cast iron frying pan. My Grannie had her favorite needle, and she like a certain kind of thread to quilt with, and my Granddad absolutely had his favorite hammer, I remember because he yelled at me for playing with it when I was a little kid. He also had his favorite razor that he sharpened on his razor strap. I got spanked with the strap once too. But only once. I learned to never lie to him that day.

My husband has his favorite guns, pistol, long gun, and shot gun. His favorite type of ammo for each. He has his favorite tools for his computers and tech gizmos, and his favorite kind of electronics to test for problems. And he is picky about all sorts of tools in the garage and house.

I have my favorite writing tools, things like dictionaries, thesaurus, reference materials, and research materials. I do not like using the Internet for that information. Half the stuff on line is incorrect anyway. I have my favorite kitchen gadgets, and do not allow anyone to use my baking pans for the wrong thing, that really, really annoys me. Does that make me a creature of habit? Probably. I know I find it comfortable to use the tools that I have had for a long time. And, I hate new technology. Just as soon as I get used to the way my computer works, something has to be changed, I hate the constant learning curve.

After getting the soup on, and cleaning my knife, I put it back on the wall magnet I hang my knives on. I wondered, as I checked them for sharpness, how I could use them as a weapon in a story I have in mind to write. “Huh.” I thought, “How weird is it that someone would look at their kitchen knives and wonder how to use them in a story, or is it weird?” Apparently, not for me.

Rant…Driving Makes People Idiots


So, I was driving to see my local vampire, AKA, my Endocrinologist for a blood test today. I was in the right hand lane, stopped at the light on Getwell and Church Road behind a pick up truck. On the left two vehicles pull up. One is an SUV, the other a dinky sedan. When the light turns green, the sedan doesn’t move fast enough for the SUV, and the driver honks at her. She moves, very slowly, across the intersection. The truck in front of me bales like his house is on fire, and I speed up a bit. The SUV, cuts in front of me, pulls back in front of the sedan, then brake checks her, I slowed down because I had a bad feeling. Sure enough, the sedan cuts me off. I ended up going off road to avoid her back quarter panel, well, lets just say it was close enough that there wouldn’t have been a back door if I had hit her, and my husband’s car would have been totaled. I went from scared to pissed off faster than Mario Andriette could get off the starting line.

I caught up with the bimbo at the light and told her to either pull over and talk to me, or I was calling the cops on her for dangerous driving and anything else they could throw at her. I had photos of her tag, the SUV tag, and the tag of the truck in front of me, and the other car that passed me while I was getting back on the road. She pulled over into the grocery store lot. I blocked her in. Then I got out of my car and went up to her window to speak to her. “What do you think you were doing? You ran me off the road, and nearly killed me. If had hit you, your friend in the back sea”t would be injured or dead, and your friend in the front seat would be seriously injured because she would have hit the window. And you would be injured or dead because you would have taken out the SUV. Her answer. She giggled. I wanted to grab her by her hair and pull her out of her car via the two inch gap in her window.

You think this is amusing? You are driving a six thousand pound or more weapon. It is a deadly weapon capable of killing you or anyone in it, and anyone you hit with it. Do you not understand that? It isn’t a toy, and if you are going to use it for fun, get the hell off the road and go play a video game instead of driving a real car. This isn’t for fun, it is a responsibility that is very serious.” She started saying sorry over and over. I wasn’t through. “ Sorry won’t get it when you cause an accident that kills or injures a family or a mom with a baby in the car, or someone’s daddy. Sorry won’t mean a damned thing to the person you put in the hospital with serious injuries. Sorry won’t mean a damned thing to your parents if they have to bury you before your next birthday, or heaven help them, have their daughter be an invalid for the rest your her life.” She started tearing up. I almost left. But….

Her guy friend in the back seat rolls down his window and says,)I Apologize for the language) “Why don’t you just shut the F..k up you stupid bitch?” [Note: he is gay, and pissy from the get go.] I looked him over. “Well, this stupid old bitch was smart enough to save your pathetic life today. You should be thanking whatever you worship – be it God or the Kardashians – that I have good reflexes for being bitchy and old instead of being a rude little rubbish heap.” His response, “F….ing old bitch, you just need to shut the F…l up and let us leave.” Now I am pissed off again. “Look sonny, calling me an old bitch doesn’t upset me, I am old and I can be a real bitch. Not that I have….yet.” He says, “F… You.” I have to admit, I snickered when I said, “I thought, by the way you talk and act, that you liked men. Either I got it wrong, or you really need glasses, child.” So he screams, yes, screams, “You f….ing homophobic bitch!” Well, he is verbally challenged when it comes to his vocabulary, but he did use another word. I laughed out loud.

“Sonny, I don’t give a flying damn who you sleep with, or in your case, since you are both ugly and dumb as a stump, who you wish you could sleep with, not my business. Or since you are sharing, that is too much information.” So he calls me the C word with the boring F word in front of it. Being the smart ass that I tend to be when really pissed off, I asked in all sincere sarcasm, “Do you know that you just called me the slang word for female genitalia? Honey, I know you are envious that you don’t have that, and that instead, you are just an arrogant prick. And not a big prick either, just a little prick that nobody give a flying damn about.”

The girls in the front seat are sitting like frozen ducks. I tell the driver, that she needs to know that if she injures or kills someone with her car, she will go to jail. One for reckless driving, the other for manslaughter. She is fortunate that I kept her from facing that today. And, that I expect she be aware of the danger driving a car poses. Just because she was behind the wheel, didn’t mean she was safe.

The screamer in the back seat said, “What the F..k do you know about it, are you some kind of cop or lawyer?” I just smiled. “It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do for a living, prick. Today, right now, I am the judge and jury, and I am giving her a way out of jail. I suggest she take what I say to heart, and straighten up. Next time she won’t be so lucky.” He flings his hair out of his eyes for the millionth time, “She doesn’t have to do sh*t that you say. She is an adult since she is over eighteen.” I smiled again. He turned a bit pale. I do that to people sometimes. “So, she is an adult. Game over. No excuses or juvenile out for her. She would be charged as an adult. Sucks to be a grownup, doesn’t it, prick?”

The driver turned to him and told him to shut up, using the F word of first of course. The entire time, the other girl in the front seat just sat there, looking down. As I started to my car, her window came down, I braced for another tantrum. She was bright red with embarrassment. “Ma’am? I want to apologize for everything. I told her to slow down and not to be stupid, I saw your face when you drove off the road. I know it scared you. I’m so, so sorry.” I thanked her then told her that it wasn’t her fault her friend drove that way, and maybe she would think before getting in the car with anyone who drove like that again.

Screamer said not to listen to me. I looked her in the eyes and asked her, “Who do you think has more experience with life, me or the ignorant ass sitting behind you? Ask yourself this, how did I get to be so old if I were as stupid as he/she/it – whatever he calls himself – thinks I am? Been there done that, raised kids, grand kids, and their friends. Choose your friends wisely, they could kill you with their idiocy and arrogance.”

I got in my car, and still made it to my appointment on time, without speeding or driving like an idiot. Some days, I really think I should have just stayed in bed. I am still pissed off. The driver got a scare and she had to face how her idiocy effected me. The other poor girl needs better friends. And I still want to kick that little prick’s ass from here to Memphis and back.

Husband at the Nail Salon


Today I made a memory, well actually, we made a memory, my man and I.

The weather has been horrid for the past several days, well below freezing and there is still ice everywhere on the roads. I managed, some how, to break one of my fingernails. I am not a vain woman for the most part, but I do like to have pretty nails. Since the nail salon was still open, but he didn’t want me driving on slippery roads, my husband drove me to the salon, and to keep from freezing to death, went inside with me.

Like most Saturday afternoons, it was pretty busy. But not as packed as usual since the roads were bad. We had to wait for about twenty minutes before they got to me. He came prepared with his Kindle and his tablet to kill time while waiting for me to get finished. It always take about an hour to get my nails back to perfection. He patiently sat and waited, no fidgeting, no complaining, no deep sighs or any of his other signs of dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, the shop slowly filled up.

The woman doing my nails asked if my husband wanted a manicure, I explained he was just waiting for me since he didn’t want me to drive on the bad roads. She, and the two women on either side of me thought he was pretty special to do that. I don’t think he noticed all of us glancing at him as we discussed why he would do such a thing. The lady on my right sighed, “He must really love you. How long have you been together?” I told them I met him when I was 15 and married him when I was sixteen. Neither family thought we would last, but here we are 46 years later. The lady on my left, did the “isn’t that adorable” coo women make when something touches their heart. The woman working on my nails smiled, “You so lucky, Ma’am.”

Apparently, she told her co workers in their language what was going on. All the women looked at me and smiled. Then all looked at my totally oblivious husband who was lost in his book. Then all of us did the woman’s coo thing. A round robin of chatting took place with women commenting on how long they were married, and how they didn’t have a man who would treat them with such sweetness. After a few minutes, everyone went back to their business. But glances were cast at my husband and myself every so often as the news filtered around the room.

When I was nearly done, I asked my husband to come take a look at the color I had chosen. They were the color of a stormy winter sky with sparkles. He loved them. Said they looked like I had stars on my nails. Everyone around me giggled. The lady on my right winked at me, the lady on my left sighed, “He is a keeper, honey.” I agreed.

When he went to pay for my nails, a lady who was waiting looked at me with shock. “That man your husband?” I said he was. “And he payin’ for your nail without getting mad?” I said he was. “Girl, you all gotta be newlyweds.” I laughed, “No, we’ve been married for 46 years, and he is almost house trained.” She laughed out loud.

My husband always helps me on with my coat. Always. Just like he always opens doors for me, and helps me up and down stairs. He is, quite frankly, a real gentleman. I know, quaint. But it is one of the things I love the most about him. When he helped me on with my coat, every single woman in the place was watching. When he hugged me, and then opened the door for me and offered me his arm, like he always does, every woman in that room collectively sighed and did the woman coo thing. I smiled to myself, feeling, a bit smug. But also, grateful for the man I love and the gentleman he is. And he never once noticed he was the center of attention of at least thirty women. It is a good memory. It will still make me smile years from now.