Heart Throb

Hello Gentle Reader,

I recently discovered that this column is very similar to another that I wrote 2 1/2 years ago.

Rather than a re-run, this essay is more of a reboot.

So, without further ado, please enjoy a tale of my elementary school love life.

Take care and stay safe,

d

This is going to date the heck out of me, but when I was in kindergarten, at Lad & Lassie School in Mobile, Alabama, I was madly in love with Bobby Sherman.

I thought he was dreamy.  I had a Bobby Sherman lunch box.

When he sang “Julie Do You Love Me?”, my besotted brain changed Julie to debbie.  He was also the star of his own short-lived sitcom.  IMDB informs us that the name of the show was “Getting Together”, but until now I always assumed, it was, “The Bobby Sherman Show”.

That’s what I called it in my heart.  My fickle, fickle heart.

By the first grade, I was all about Donny Osmond.  And I loved sister Marie; I couldn’t wait for her to be my sister-in-law.

I’d received a portable cassette player and the Osmond Brothers “Crazy Horses” cassette for Christmas.  Every afternoon, I would grab it and rush down to Cathy Ainge’s house (unlike me, she didn’t have brothers, so it was much more peaceful at her place).

We’d pop in that cassette and proceed to squeal at the sound of our beloved’s voice.  Then, we’d swoon like a Jane Austin heroine seeing her first hairy chest.  How her mother put up with it is anybody’s guess.

I read Teen Beat and Tiger Beat magazines.  But 16 (the fan mag, not to be confused with the fashion mag for older girls, Seventeen), was our absolute fave.  In addition to interviews and layouts with Donny and a host of other cute boys, they printed serials about different celebrities that ran for months.

We were about six months into a Donny serial and deeply immersed.  There were probably at least six more months to go when my dad came home from work one day to announce that our Coast Guard family was being transferred to Puerto Rico.

I was already, at nine-years-old, a veteran of these moves.  And who wouldn’t want to have a three-year vacation in a tropical paradise? 

I refused.

Of course, I would miss my friends.  I would miss the Girl Scouts and my Brownie troop.  I was also shortstop on my t-ball team, which I loved.  The kids that lived in my neighborhood were my cohorts and my squad.  The neighborhood itself was still full of places I hadn’t yet explored.

But I was a Coastie kid, and moving every few years was part of the deal; I knew I’d make new friends, have new clubs and activities, and have many new places to explore. 

No, my relocation veto had nothing to do with any of those things.

It was because of my (current) one true love, Donny Osmond.

I was staying in North Carolina because I had no idea if 16 magazine was available at newsstands in Puerto Rico—and I was taking no chances.

It speaks to my parents’ ability to wisely deal with the upheavals that came with being a Coast Guard family, that they took my objections seriously.  They proposed a plan in which I would earn the money in advance, and my mother’s best friend, Mizz Judy would purchase the magazine each month through the run of the serial, and mail it to our new home in the Caribbean.

Mizz Judy faithfully kept mailing, and I kept reading until Donny’s multi-part adventures had concluded.  And, our dreamlike sojourn in the very Northwestern corner of that little coral outcropping called the Borinquen (bo-rink-can) became one of my very favorite homes.

And, Donny was far from the last crush I had.  And as I grew up and matured, so did my crushes and the motivations for them.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Hot, Cranky Questions

Normally, I am friendly and kind.

Normally.

But the North Carolina summer is so malevolently awful that it feels personal.  I can’t argue with hot though, because there is no combination of words I can say that will make it cooler and less humid. 

And, standing outside, yelling, and shaking my fist at the sky just confirms suspicions that my neighbors have had about me all along.

So, I walk around all summer, every summer, disgruntled.  Usually, my gruntle returns in early October about the time the State Fair comes to town.  Then that big ole bag of grumpy departs like a hummingbird heading south for the winter.

I strive to stifle my summer-originated rage.  But on especially gross days in which I am forced to spend extended time outside, my animosity bubbles to the surface, like a particularly noxious aquifer in the form of sarcastic, smart-alecky questions.

Some are purely rhetorical, some I know the answers to, and some are actual head-scratchers and are the result of honest, albeit cantankerous curiosity.

Do you know what’s unfair?  Having gray hair, wrinkles, and acne all on the same head.  It’s those infernal masks.  Wearing one is a giant pain.  It’s punishingly hot and moist under here.  I am beyond sick of smelling and breathing my own breath.  I’m always forgetting it and having to run back to the car.  It makes my glasses fog up.

It’s one of the best ways, though, to protect yourself and others from transmission.  But I keep seeing a puzzling phenomenon all over the place and even on the faces of TV reporters.  So I have to ask; why even bother wearing that mask if you’re gonna leave your nose outside?

So, those murder hornets that were supposed to invade our shores and spread a swath of death and destruction everywhere they went.  What happened to them?

I have a theory. They arrived in the US and saw the news and read a few papers.  When they realized what a flaming hot mess 2020 is, they turned around and went back to Mars.

Why can’t I eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?  It’s hot!

Madonna: desperately seeking sanity.

Singer Sam Smith, Jennifer Lopez, Drake, Madonna, et al, posting tone-deaf videos and photos from multi-multi-million dollar homes complaining about the boredom/anxiety of quarantining. 

On behalf of all the people out here who aren’t riding around our private islands on a unicorn while wearing gold-plated underclothes; might you please shut the heck up?

There are actually folks who will gaze at you with a slightly manic look and state with a straight face, that they “love the heat”.

What is wrong with them?

Camping.  Leaving one’s comfortable homes full of running water, electricity, and air conditioning for the charms of sleeping on the ground, eating food that’s either half-raw or burned to charcoal, and being feasted upon by any number of insects.

Why would anybody in their right mind do that on purpose?

Would somebody please explain to me why fried dough covered in a honey glaze is so much tastier than a carrot?

Throughout history, different body shapes are in or out of fashion.  During the Italian Renaissance, the style was Rebuenesque; plump and ample.  In the roaring 20s, it was desirable to be slim with straight hips and a boyish figure.  Marilyn Monroe was the ideal in the 1950s with an hourglass figure.

So when are flat butts and big feet going to have a turn?

Finally, somebody, please tell me, I’ve gotta know—how hard is it to actually change a roll of toilet paper?

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at d@bullcity.mom.

Stage Fright

So, on Twitter, people are confessing at what stage of quarantine they currently occupy.

     For example, Pigeon Fancier wrote: “What stage of quarantine are you at, me I’m wearing a foofy bathrobe 24/7, drinking everything out of a champagne flute, calling the house spiders “dahling” in a transatlantic accent”

     As for myself, I’m at the stage that I’ve grown so used to wearing a mask that once this is all over, I’m contemplating taking a job as a stagecoach robber.

     And, I’m at the stage of quarantine where I’ve taken to shouting, “Social Distancing!” at crowd scenes in movies, such as The Ten Commandments, the beach scene in Jaws, and the ball in Walt Disney’s Cinderella.

     After years of familiarity, I’ve put together a list of where on the quarantine spectrum friends and family possibly (probably) reside.

     Petey, well-known for his taciturnity, is at the stage where he’s become positively chatty with folks he meets while walking the dog.  He actually spoke with a neighbor the other day for a full 90 seconds.

     The Kid has been so deprived of human companionship that furniture and accessories around the house have become anthropomorphized.  The child spends much of the day breaking up medical disputes between Doc Martens and Dr. Pepper, and refereeing refrigerator brawls between Duke’s Mayonnaise and a bowl of spaghetti that’s gone bad and joined a gang.

     My mom is a notorious clean freak, whose dirtiest surface in her house is still clean enough to perform neurosurgery on.  She’s at the stage where she’s begun removing the drywall from rooms to, “Really get into those nooks and crannies”.

     My father, who gets more done before lunch than I do in a month has begun cutting the grass with a pair of nail clippers, because edging and trimming with them gave him the control he was looking for.  Whenever my mother took a bath my father, the former Coast Guard rescue swimmer maintained a constant vigil in case of an accident.

     My mother has since switched to showers.

     For a couple of weeks, family friend Chef Chrissie has been playing a version of Chopped; a game in which you have a time limit to prepare dishes using four random ingredients.  Because Chrissie lives alone, he plays against an imaginary opponent with make-believe judges.

     He’s still looking for his first win.

     Maxie, one of my oldest and closest friends, and his husband Mark have three dogs.  They’re at the stage where they’ve made costumes and backdrops to stage an all-canine rendition of Downton Abbey.  The unfortunate effect is that two of the pooches have become unforgivably snooty.  And the pup who plays the butler keeps drinking all the sherry.

     Another friend of mine has drafted a list of enemies from high school, forty years ago.  She has no idea where most of them are today, but if she were to run into one of them, she has a rapier-sharp retort for the sick burn given to her in third-period French class sophomore year.

     A young friend of mine who has twin toddlers is at the stage where she’s been thinking about teaching her children to become bartenders, except their little legs are too short to reach the freezer and no matter how many times she shows them, they can’t make a decent dry martini.

     I hope you enjoyed what is mostly a fictional list.

     But quarantine is awful, and hard on us all.  If you’re struggling and need some help, or just want somebody to talk to, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on their Helpline at 800-950-NAMI.  Or in a crisis,  text “NAMI” to 741741.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Healing Begins When The Hurt Is Acknowledged & Shared

*Warning: If you think Covid19 is a hoax, you use the term, “lamestream media”, or you think this virus is a plot to influence an election, stop reading now.  The remainder of this column will only upset you and reinforce any notion you have that I am a deluded fool.

You’ ve been warned.

I’ll tell you a secret.  After being married to a nurse for years, and being around many hospital workers, I have learned something.

Medical folk ain’t quite right.

Every single day, they put others’ well being above their own.

When most people are cocooning and withdrawing from the world, nurses, doctors, lab staff, respiratory therapists, and every other human that works to heal and ensure our health keep on going.

And many have family with high-risk factors so haven’t seen or touched their parents, or children, or spouses in months in order to avoid exposing loved ones to the virus.

There are workers who’ve had family members born or pass away, but because they are considered a possible carrier of infection weren’t able to say hellos or goodbyes.  

I have a friend who has just graduated as a Doctor Nurse.  She has a Ph.D. in nursing. 

Throughout her studies, she has continued to work full time as an intensive care nurse at a very large university hospital.  There’s not enough PPE.  Early on, Petey and I found a box of N95 masks from his own nursing days.  We gave them to her.

In intensive care, where the normal ratio is one or two patients per nurse, the new ratio is four patients for each nurse, due to drastic nursing shortages and also hiring freezes, because money is in even shorter supply than protective gear.

Until there is a steady supply of reliable tests, the true number of Covid19 positive patients won’t be known.  But what is known is that there are countless untested patients admitted with unmistakable symptoms of the virus. 

And before the news was talking about meat processing outbreaks, they were getting multiple admissions a day from the plants—many don’t speak English, had no contact information, and were too sick or frightened to give a medical history to staff.

Right now, my friend is not working with current coronavirus patients.  She had worked four straight weeks without a break when her nurse manager made her rotate out.  The masks we gave her are currently being used because even when working with patients who have recovered from COVID and are still very sick, there are not enough masks for employees. 

And this devotion to caring for complete strangers at their own detriment is not new.  The very last day Petey ever worked before his career-ending illness, he was so sick, that after his shift, they had to bring him off his unit in a wheelchair.

Everybody knows frontline medical workers.  They’re the same kind that devoted their lives to their fellow man back when Petey was nursing, and it will be the same type of humans caring for us when Covid19 is just a horror story in our rearview.

So, give them some love.  Buy them some PPE.  Carry homemade dinner to their families.  Make a batch of cupcakes for them to take to work.  Or just stand six feet away, and say, “Thank you.  I am so grateful to you for your devoted service.”

“To do what nobody else will do, in a way that nobody else can do, in spite of all we go through…that is what it is to be a nurse.” – Rawsi Williams, Nurse and Attorney.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.