The Tree That Fought Back

I take after my dad in a lot of ways.

I have his long limbs, his chin, and his impulsive, daredevil streak. 

Combining the colt-length arms and legs with shared underdeveloped coordination means we frequently require first aid.

When I was four, we lived in Mobile Dad was sent to Connecticut for some type of Coast Guard continuing education school.  The rest of us stayed in Alabama.

Mrs. Cotter was a widow in Connecticut who rented rooms in her home for Coast Guardsmen who came from away to attend the school.  That’s where Dad stayed.

One afternoon, Mrs. Cotter mentioned a tree that needed to come down.  My dad volunteered to chop it down with an ax.

He made pretty good progress until he missed.

As the tibia and fibula are much more fragile than a tree, he came darn close to chopping off his leg.  Luckily, he only gave himself a particularly grisly multiple fracture.

After receiving the call, Mom packed all of us kids, luggage, and baby supplies into our very small, very old Opal, and we were on our way to a stately old home in New England—around 1300 miles away.

The house seemed like the largest oldest house I’d ever been in.  There were three floors and an attic that probably served as a model for every creepy attic in every TV show and movie ever made. 

My mom spent her days at the hospital along with Bud, because he was too young to be away from her.  I stayed with Mrs. Cotter and her hired man.

Mrs. Cotter was old.  She was the type of widow for which walks were made.  She may have had kids, but they might have died in the Civil War or gone looking to make their fortunes in the California gold rush.  I don’t think her hired man had ever seen a child.

It was as though a Keds-wearing, fairy tale-loving Martian had been plopped down among them. 

They asked what I’d like for lunch each day. 

I requested peanut butter & jelly, but what I meant was Goober Grape, the concoction with ingredients swirled together in a jar.  But at home, we just called it peanut butter & jelly.  The very first lunch Mrs. Cotter began making my sandwich, and I saw that it came from two different jars, and was spread on separate slices of bread.

“I want it mixed!” It was an objection that was only a little about the lunch.  It was mainly a cry about being little and missing my dad, and scary hospitals, and awful, long car rides, and mom being gone all day, and staying in a strange, boring, old house, with strange old people who didn’t even know anything about kids.

Mrs. Cotter and her hired man had an intense, whispered consultation, and she scraped the bread clean.  A dollop of peanut butter and a spoonful of jelly were feverishly stirred, then the resulting melange was triumphantly transferred back to bread. 

They set the sandwich in front of me and stepped back.

It wasn’t what I wanted.  It wasn’t even close.  I’d lost my appetite.  All I wanted was to curl up in my daddy’s lap and have a good, long cry.

I was poised to run out of the room in dramatic fashion, and give in to my sadness, fatigue, and disappointment, when I looked up into their nervous, smiling, hopeful faces. “How is it?”

For the first time in my short life, I thought before I spoke.  I realized it was tough for them too, and they were trying.

“It’s yummy.  It’s perfect.  Thank you.”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

I’ll Jingle Some Bells For Ya

It’s time, once again, to share a semi-shameful secret with you, Gentle Reader.

I’ve been listening to holiday music since the first week of November. 

I just love it.  On my MP3 player are roughly 218 Christmas songs organized in nine albums.  But the Johnny Mathis classic, Merry Christmas is as much a part of me as my eyeglasses, the tiny gold hoop earrings I never remove, and colossal love of frosting.  Recorded in 1958, it has been the holiday soundtrack for my entire life (Mom was a big Johnny fan).

For me, Christmas time doesn’t begin until I hear that celesta (a percussion instrument that looks like a piano and sounds like bells) play the opening of “Winter Wonderland”.

After lo, these many years listening to holiday-specific music, shockingly, I have some opinions and questions.

Listening to the 1952 ditty, “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”stresses me terribly.  So, who exactly is this Santa?  Is it the actual Santa?  Because in that case, is Mommy married to another, and cheating with the jolly fat man?  Is it another person in a costume?  Then, same question. 

Is the singer, who I can only assume is a child, completely innocent, and finds it funny that Mommy is kissing Santa?  Or is this kid much more sophisticated?  In that case, the lyrics, “Oh, what a laugh it would have been If Daddy had only seen…” are much more sinister.  Is the little spy working up a little “quid pro quo”?  “Gee, Santa, it sure would be a shame if my emotionally unstable father, with access to weapons, were to somehow find out about what’s going on here…I think a bicycle might make me forget all about the events that took place tonight.”

It makes me very uneasy.

Rudolph, OMG, that poor little congenitally challenged guy.  This song normalizes and defends bullying.  And not just bullying, but it justifies the objectification and exploitation of Rudolph.  Oh yeah, he’s a freak nobody wants anything to do with; until they need him.  Then he’s everybody’s best friend and a big hero. 

And what happens on the 26th, when they don’t need him anymore?  I’ll tell you what.  It’s, “Get away from us weirdo.  Why don’t you go dance on thin ice?  Your beak blinks like a blinkin’ beacon!” 

Those ungrateful buttheads don’t even deserve him.  I would’ve bailed out of that sleigh over the Swiss Alps and let ‘em find their own way home.

The only good thing about the song is that it sings the names of all the reindeer which helps me remember them.  

Oh, Mariah Carey.  She truly is a legend.  First, can we talk about those notes she hits and her singing range?  As Petey would say, “What the what?”

But her song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, is a marvel.  It took 15 minutes to write and compose in 1994.  This song is now the number one selling holiday song by a woman.  It has broken records for Christmas music all over the world.  It’s made, in fifteen years, $60 million.  It’s been covered by artists such as Miley Cyrus, My Chemical Romance, and Michael Buble.

The song itself, despite the money it’s generated, is anti-commercial.  When other songs ask Santa for all types of commercial goods (Can you say, “Santa Baby”?), all the singer wants is the “You”, the object of the song.

And if you’re like The Kid, who reacts to Christmas music the way Anna Wintour reacts to the sight of a bedazzled Walmart sweatshirt, I have two things to say to you:

Merry Christmas!

and

Lighten up!

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Otherwise Known As Fentris

Every time I hear singer Joe Jackson on the radio I think of Vinton.  He loved Joe Jackson, an unassuming British singer in a sea of outrageous 1980s acts.  

Vinton was funny and well-read.  He was also very thoughtful—thoughtful of other people, and thoughtful about ideas, and thoughtful of the world around him.  He was smart, but discreet in sharing it.  In a small Southern town, and within our friend group, smart was allowed, but smart-aleck was better. 

He adored my mother, and she loved him.  He was in and out of our house just like the rest of my friends, and attended her Christmas cookie decorating parties every year.  But he always had a special word for her, and a shared private laugh with her.

Years earlier, because of my extreme fondness of Mr. Bell’s invention, I’d picked up the nickname, “Little Debbie Digit, Queen of the rotary dial”.  It had been shortened to Digit. 

But to Vinton I was Didge.  He was the only person on the planet that called me that, and the only person on the planet who I would have ever let call me that.

Among his many jobs when we were young, he worked at the hospital at the same time I did.  When someone called him, they called the main switchboard, and he’d be paged.

 Vinton’s last name was Turnburke.  The first time the operator paged him, she called for “Vincent Turner”.  It became a running gag.  Each time she paged him, she’d make up some convoluted mishmash that vaguely sounded like Vinton Turnburke.

One evening I heard a page for “Fentris Parker”.  When I saw him in the hall later, I told him that that was the best name she’d made up yet.

He said, “I liked it too.  But the funny thing is, I went to elementary school with a kid called ‘Fentris Parker’!”

 Vinton and I spent so much time together, got along so well, and were so fond of each other, we decided it would be logical to begin dating.  It made perfect sense.

Until we kissed.

It was like licking a battery. 

It was then that we learned that logic has nothing to do with romance.  We loved each other fiercely, but it was the deepest of friendships, which we cherished as much as the relationships we each had with our own spouses.

He settled in South Carolina, and when we spoke on the phone, he’d always say, “What’s going on, Didge?”  And we’d talk for hours, transported back to those days in Elizabeth City, instantly as close and familiar as we ever were.

He was my rock.  I always knew he was there, and no matter what, no matter when, he’d be there for me.

I can’t remember that last time I spoke to Vinton, but it’s been a while.  You know, life gets in the way, and you tell yourself you’ll call and check in soon.

His wife Barbara called last week.  After a short but ugly illness, Vinton passed away. 

My friend, that very special chunk of my heart, was no more.  I wish I could remember the last time I talked to him.  I wish I could have said goodbye, and told him I loved him, one more time.

It sucks and it hurts.

Gentle Reader, don’t do this to yourself.  Call them.  You know the one.  The one you love, but take for granted that you’ll get around to.  Knock it off.  Call them now, listen to their voice, tell them you love them, and hear them tell you they love you.

Just call them.

Thanks for your time.

Contact me at d@bullcity.mom.

Adventures In Babysitting

I can tell you the exact moment it happened.  

It was on a visit we’d made to Elizabeth City.  At the time, our friend Pig’s son was about four-years-old, which as everyone knows is the most adorable and charming age for the human species.  I’d spent some time with him, and we’d enjoyed each other’s company.

On the way home, we stopped at Pig’s.  We entered through the kitchen, and then it happened.

My little buddy did something that sealed my fate.  He reached out for me with both hands and smiled this sunny, heartbreaking grin.  And…the snooze alarm on my biological clock began clanging like all the bells on the planet were playing a wake-up call just for me.

Within eighteen months, we were greeting The Kid in the maternity ward.

But, here’s the weird part.  Until the incident in Pig’s kitchen, I didn’t want to have children.  Heck, at eighteen I was begging my OB/GYN to fix me like a wayward Doberman (of course, there isn’t a doctor around that’ll sterilize an eighteen-year-old kid, which in my case was a good thing).

And that brings me to babysitting.

In the summers of junior high, I watched my brother while Mom worked.  But, he was a bookworm like me, so mainly I just had to make sure he didn’t get a paper cut or burn down the house. 

When I was in high school I did a little babysitting.  Honestly, though, I was a pretty indifferent sitter.  If I’d been in the Babysitters’ Club, I would have been “Debbie, the pretty reliable yet entirely unenthusiastic babysitter”.

Petey had two younger brothers.  He also had an older sister Deb, who’s favorite thing ever is to run things, so he only got minimal experience.

There’s something you should know about my spouse.  He has a few interests like watching any and all sports contests, learning to play the guitar (which has been an ongoing project since I met him in 1979), and dogs.     

But for his entire life, he’s had one interest so central to who he is, that it’s less hobby, and more raison d’etre, and pillar of his personality.  If he had to choose between me and this abiding passion, I wouldn’t stand a chance.

The man loves a nap.  I mean, he LOVES them.  Like really, really loves them.  Petey never met a horizontal surface he didn’t want to get to know better.

So, one day, when his family was stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, he was babysitting a neighbor’s children.  The homes were built of stone, literally about the time of General Custer.  Petey was napping on the living room couch.  Downstairs, in the basement, his charges were climbing around on a couple of ancient metal bed frames.

He woke up when one of the kids tugged on his arm and opened his eyes to a lot of blood coming from an scary-looking gash on the little boy’s noggin. 

Head wounds bleed impressively, so it turned out to not be serious.  Petey’s not sure how the parents reacted because when he called home, his sister rushed over and was ecstatic to take over and kick him out.  The parents didn’t give him a hard time over the injury to their child, because they didn’t hire him to sit for them again, and actually never spoke to him after that.

That’s me and The Kid.

Despite our experience in childcare, we took care of our offspring pretty well.  Petey did great, and I only dropped our baby on the head twice, and the one time I misplaced our child, Dom Deluise (yup, that Dom Deluise) returned The Kid to me.

Thanks for your time.Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Reflections on the Fair

By the time you read this, the 2019 North Carolina State Fair will be nothing but mountains of trash, and memories.

The Matthews Family band is already thinking about next year (well, this member, anyway).

But I’m also looking back.  And since this space is reserved for the sharing of my thoughts (and it’s a heck of a gig which I highly recommend), what could be more appropriate than to share with you, Gentle Reader, my thoughts before, during, and after the great state fair?

For the most part, anything in quotes are my unspoken thoughts.  But not always.  Sometimes they are spoken aloud, to my family’s exquisite and highly entertaining embarrassment.

Before the fair: My thoughts all follow a similar theme: “THE FAIR’S COMING!!!” joyfully repeated hundreds of times a day beginning in late July, and increasing in frequency as the fair’s arrival draws ever mor near.

“What’ll I wear?” and the much more important, “What’ll I eat?”  Sometimes these two thoughts intersect, such as when I am readying my eatin’ britches (Jeans with enough lycra that they stay up in the morning, but have enough stretch to encase a body containing a metric ton of fair food later in the day.  And they also need to retain enough give to permit me to sit on the ride home).

At the pre-fair media luncheon, an event attended by locally famous media and government types: “OMG! There’s Linda Loveland!  She is taller, prettier and cooler than anyone I’ve ever seen.  I don’t think she’s even human.  She is an alien from Planet Glamorama.”

Guess which one is Linda Loveland?
*Hint: It’s not the large bird.

“There’s Cherie Berry.  I recognize her from the photo in every elevator, everywhere.  That woman lifts me up.”

“Ok, I’ll put less food on my tray to make room for my camera.  Yeah, right.  Who am I kidding?”

“So, if I put my hair in a ponytail and speak with a German accent will the guy serving Dole Whip recognize me?  It’s only my fourth trip.  Probably not…?”

At the fair as a food contest judge: “What were they thinking?  There is no way this combination of ingredients will taste good.”  “Well, what do ya know?  Frost my butt and call me cupcake!  That was tasty!” 

After the soybean judging: “With all apologies to the entire continent of Asia, tofu tastes awful.  Edamame, on the other hand…”

General fair impressions: “It is cold, rainy, and the state fair.  How/Why is that woman wearing stilettos and an extremely short cocktail dress?  In another venue, she’d be fierce, and I’d be impressed/jealous.  Here?  I’m curious/amused.”

“Ok, I have one stomach, but there are fourteen things I want to eat.  I think it just comes down to organization and motivation.”

“I don’t care who you are.  A pirate riding a parrot is comedy gold.”

“Ooh! A puppy!”

“How much trouble would I get into if I politely walked over to that family, grabbed that plastic toy trumpet out of that three-year-old’s hand, threw it on the ground, jumped up and down on it, and calmly walked away?”

“Every single guy at the Marine exhibit is a stone cold fox.  They look like camo-wearing underwear models.  Do they have an “aestetically perfect division”?  Actually, with those faces and bodies to distract the enemy, we couldn’t lose.”

“I think I’ve got room in my belly for a scuppernog slushie and in my fridge for a jar of blueberry bourbon jam.  Sure…”

After the fair:  “I walked into the fair with $150.  I was there four hours and I have $1.47.  What the heck happened?”

“The fair is coming (In 355 days)! Woo Hoo!!”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

To Be, Or Not To Be Sweet

My very good friend, and former boss, Bosco once asked me something hilarious.

“Debbie, do you say every thought that pops into your head?”

Oh, Bosco.  Oh, honey.

I only say about 20% of what’s in my melon.  If I said everything that occurred to me, a few things would happen.  I would never, and I mean never shut up.  I’d have no friends, and I’d be locked up—either padded cell, or gray bar hotel.

But most of the thoughts to which I give voice are of the positive persuasion.  I’ll tell the lady at the gas station I like her shoes, the kid bagging my groceries he has pretty eyes, and the little guy carrying a bag for his mom that he is a helpful, strong little man.

But for the most part, I’m much more reticent when it comes to the negative thoughts toward my fellow man. 

The self-censoring comes from my childhood. 

Although she’s gotten over it (Hoo boy, has she gotten over it), my mom was raised as a nice Catholic girl in the Ozzie and Harriet fifties.  Act like a lady was drilled into every girl child from birth.

Having a dad in the military was part of it.  It was impressed upon me every time I left the house I represented not only our family but the Coast Guard and the entire United States.  How we acted reflected on Uncle Sam, Smokey the Bear, the Partridge Family and Dick Tracy.

And being raised in the South has a lasting impact on a young woman.

Be sweet.

It’s an IV attached to every little girl, feeding a constant stream of expectations, prohibitions, and assumptions.  “Mind your manners.”  “Don’t be loud, or messy, or bossy, or rough.”  After a while, that kind of stuff becomes part of one’s very marrow.  Like it or not, admit it or not, most women live their lives with an internal hall monitor passing judgment on everything we say and do.

It’s why, when someone obviously doesn’t spare a thought for my feelings I’m stressing out to protect theirs.

But you know what?

I’m not looking for a job, a date, or the approval of others (the last one is the toughest for me). 

So, there are times when I don’t give a fig about being polite.  And I’m not gonna—not anymore.

When someone decides that because of their fellow human’s plumbing, or color, or accent, or who they love, or how they dress, or bank account, that that person is “other”, and less than.  As in less deserving of basic humanity, or kindness, or civil rights, or a voice, or even the right to want those things.

When someone decides that their story, or history, or feelings are paramount, and others need to get over themselves, grow up, and grow a sense of humor.

When someone decides that when others stand up for themselves it’s an attack on them, and emblematic of the war against them and all good decent people; that the very rights of others marginalize them and threaten everything they stand for.

If you steal my parking spot, or the last sample at Costco, or fail to thank me if I hold the door for you, I’ll probably give you a low key dirty look, but keep my thoughts to myself.    

But, from now on, when I see someone being cruel or hateful, or when someone is navigating their lives with a complete lack of compassion, and a proud absence of empathy, I will call it out. 

From this day forward, I refuse to ‘be sweet’. 

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom

Care and Feeding

It wasn’t Merry Go Round, but very similar.

Many years ago, I managed a clothing store that catered to teenagers.  At back to school time, tons of kids came in with their moms for new fall wardrobes.

One afternoon I was helping a teenaged girl at the dressing room who’d come in with her mom.  I was familiar with them both and I’d gotten a chair for her mom while the daughter did a changing room fashion show, to pick out her new clothes for school.

At the time, I prided myself on an uncanny ability to discern pregnancy in women very early on.  An arrogant, very faulty ability, I was soon to learn.

I glanced at the mom and decided that she was with child.  Wishing to show off, I asked her, “When are you due?”

Oh yes, my friend, I royally screwed up.  But I pranced into faux pas land with my head held high, singing at the top of my lungs.

Her head swiveled around at the speed of light, and she gave me an incandescent side-eye.  “What did you say?”

I had already realized my idiotic mistake and since I couldn’t turn back time, or make myself disappear, I tried to obfuscate by distraction.

“What do you do?  Where do you work?”  If I’d had a bicycle, I could have backpedaled to Missouri. 

That was the day I decided to never assume a woman’s reproductive status unless there was a child actively exiting her body.

This policy was hammered home to me the day a woman ringing me up at Food Lion asked me if I was with child.  I answered her in a nasty tone that I felt her thoughtlessly cruel question deserved, “No.  I’m just fat.”

A few years later, a different clerk got the same tone and dirty look when she asked my forty-ish-year-old self, “Ma’am, do you want to use your senior discount?”

So, Gentle Reader, when in doubt, don’t…just don’t.

Very near our house is a new neighborhood full of young adults and empty nesters.  Once or twice a day my dog and I walk the streets.  With the combination of a large, striking dog, and an overly garrulous woman who could find something to chat about with a stone, we’ve made many friendly acquaintances. 

And I’ve been privileged to witness many young couples becoming young families (But I never jump the gun and assume—I wait until I’m told, or there’s no other explanation for what looks like the smuggling of a prize-winning pumpkin by a formerly svelte young woman).

Once baby’s arrived, seeing them reminds me of the sleep-deprived stew of cluelessness and terror in which Petey and I constantly swam after The Kid was born.  It’s sad, but true that almost all new parents spend the first few years worrying away what should be treasured and enjoyed. 

This precious time passes in what seems like the blink of an eye, and hindsight colored by fear and exhaustion is mightily skewed.

In an effort to help parents be more present, I have a few thoughts that I have shared with clearly overwhelmed moms and dads.  And, they’re either extremely polite and diplomatic, or my words are actually helpful.

I choose to believe helpful.

Here’s the sum total of my great parenting wisdom:  Relax, and cut yourself some slack.  You’re doing a much better job than you think you’re doing.  As long as you feed them, clean them, and love them, it’s gonna be ok.

And besides, humans don’t remember anything much before they turn three.  So that means you’ve got 36 months before any of the dumb stuff you’re sure to do actually counts.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Salad Bar Days

I recently found three really old recipes during the excavation of a very large junk drawer full of mountains of stuff I hadn’t seen in years.

The recipes were tucked in amongst a sky-high stack of old photos.  These pictures were all taken with old-school cameras.  And the dates of them range from junior high to the engagement photos of Petey and me, taken by my favorite photographer, Kat, one of my oldest friends.

Each photo tells a story, so what follows is the picture, and far fewer than 1000 words.

This snapshot was taken in the spring of 1979.  Each year, the 9th grade, third year Spanish class went to Mexico for ten days.  This photo was our visit to Teotihuacán, a village of temples and buildings so old that the origins of the place were already lost to time when the Aztecs met the Spaniards.

This is the great pyramid of the sun.  The plan was for my classmates and I to walk to the top.  Two-thirds of the way up is a plateau where the staircase splits into two.  This is also where an enterprising young man had set up a jewelry kiosk.  While the rest of the kids continued on, I halted my climb.

To shop.

This is Pig.  He was Petey’s best friend, and in a town (Elizabeth City) chock-a-block full of eccentrics, he was in a not-quite-right class by himself.  He’s big-hearted, good natured, and a magnet for mischief.  I always said that as he was being led off to the electric chair, he’d be shaking his head, saying, “I don’t understand, I just went for a beer run, then I met the red-headed Swede with a limp!”

I can happily tell you that he actually became a very successful builder, and has largely lived a life that didn’t include any intervention from North Carolina’s criminal system.

This is Petey and I at the Rod Stewart show in Norfolk, VA in February of 1982 (my first rock concert).  It was really cold.  Pig, who was with us that night, gallantly offered me the use of his vest, which felt warm but oddly heavy.

As we walked in, a security guard reached for me in what I considered an overly familiar manner.  So, in a move that would make Carolina Panther Christian McCaffrey proud, I pivoted and side-stepped away from what I thought was a lecherous grab.  The crowd was thick and eager to see the show, so the guard let me go.

The McCaffrey in question.

It’s a good thing he did.  Once inside, Pig took his back vest and it was then I realized why it was so heavy.  He had filled it with enough liquor to open a large bar, and a very large plastic bag full of a green, leafy substance.  There was so much contraband in that jacket that if I had been patted down, the words you are reading today, nearly forty years later, would be a missive from the Richmond jail.

This is our enegagement photo.  Looking at this, I can’t believe we were ever this impossibly young.  It’s shocking that we were deemed mature enough to make such a huge, life-altering decision.  I was not nearly as smug as I looked.  But, I’m pretty sure Petey was even more terrified than he appeared.

My guess is he was asking himself the question that he he still asks on a regular basis. “What in Sam Hill have I gotten myself into?”.

Let me know if you enjoyed this glimpse into my demented photo album, because if so, I’ll make further deep dives into my past for your amusement.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

Postcards From The Gulf

My first memories were when we lived in Mobile.  We moved there from Michigan when I was two and moved away the summer before first grade. 

As a result of these being my earliest memories, some are like half-remembered dreams, or fragmented, or twisted and combined with other memories to form episodes that never really happened.  And some are strangely hyper-specific.  And some are just garden-variety, regular memories (but of course, memories are a very tricky thing).

When I was three, we flew out to San Diego to visit my Aunt Tootie and Uncle Dave.  I have two strong memories of our visit.

Many houses in San Diego back up against small canyons.  I remembered my relative’s home was on a canyon.  And I have a clear image of seeing a mountain goat climbing around in it. 

When I was twelve, we moved to San Diego, and until our house was ready, we stayed with Aunt Tootie and Uncle Dave in the same house we’d visited back when I was a toddler.  It was a nice house.

But there was no canyon, which meant there was no goat.  I couldn’t understand it.  I could close my eyes and see it.  I remained confused.

Until we visited Disneyland.  And I went a on a ride that went past vignettes of the Southwest.  And one of them was a gosh darn mountain goat, climbing in a misbegotten canyon.  Yep, my memory was a ride at Disney.

Another memory, though, took place at Disney and was witnessed by family members, so I know for sure it happened.

As a kid, I used to stub my toes, stumble, and fall often (as an adult, too).  So, when I walked, a lot of the time I looked down, at my feet, to see what they planned on doing.  That day in Disneyland, I was trudging down Main St. when I bumped into somebody who was wearing a long blue dress. 

I slowly looked up and took in a beautiful woman in a beautiful gown.  Finally, I saw her face.  It was Cinderella!  My very favorite Disney princess. 

She was as sweet to me that day as she was to all her animal friends.

Our next-door neighbors in Mobile worked at Spring Hill College.  He was band director and she trained the majorettes.  I thought she was the most beautiful, glamorous woman that ever lived.  I idolized her.

One year for Christmas I received a pair of white majorette boots with tassels.  I didn’t want to be a majorette, though.  I owned a baton and had the skinned knees and bruises to prove the fact and make it clear I wasn’t majorette material.

At three, I had another career in mind.  I was going to take my fancy white boots and become a go-go dancer.  I wanted a mini dress with fringe, and I wanted my very own cage to dance in.

How I knew about this at three, I have no clue…

Finally, the memory of the day that lives on in family infamy.  Half a century later I still catch hell for this episode.

It was a Sunday evening, and my mom had spent hours waxing the floors of the house.  My brother was about eighteen months old.  We were in the living room and mom was in the kitchen.  I glanced over at my sibling and he had the bottle of floor wax upended and was pouring it down his gullet like a little hillbilly with a jug of shine.

Staying seated, I calmly, conversationally, almost as an aside, said to my mother in the next room, “Mommy, Buddy’s drinking floor wax.”

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.

That’s Ridiculous!

Buckle up kids! 

It’s time for the further adventures of, “Back in my day.”!

This time, Gentle Reader, I’m sharing with you a short list of recently introduced ludicrous rituals that spring from unearned, over the top wealth, and the resulting near-French Revolution level of conspicuous consumption.

Nouveau riche, parvenu, arriviste, they all mean the same thing; people who have recently come by indecent amounts of money and want the whole world to know how very wealthy, classy, and flat-out better they are than everyone else. 

It’s not new.  The Biltmore Estate, and much of Providence Rhode Island was built during the Gilded Age (1870s-1900) as a big fat, middle finger to old, historic families by newly monied titans of industry and robber barons. 

Nowadays many of the new breed are social media and reality television stars.  And like every permutation of financial upstarts, subtlety and discretion are considered dirty words—what’s the use of being rich if you don’t show off?

The complete lack of humility, and any sense of shame, does though, seem to be a new concept that is directly related to the interwebs. 

Image is everything, and if it isn’t gorgeous, or impressive, or shiny enough, then they manipulate and stage their live’s until it is.  One’s social media presence must announce to every eye that views it that this person is richer, chic-er and more loved than you can ever hope to be.  So, a whole slew of holidays and celebrations tangentially connected to life events have been contrived to prove it.

Promposals.  This is asking someone to the high school prom.  But this isn’t the time-honored meet-up at the locker of your intended date and bashfully, adorably asking them out. 

No, this must be a production worthy of Busby Berkeley, complete with setting, props and co-stars which is of course filmed and then shared online so others may feel dumb, dull, and underserving of love in any form. 

Weddings have become six-figure extravaganzas that are complete failures if they don’t make every other couple swoon with envy.  It’s tough to pick one item from such a self-involved cornucopia but among body shaming bridesmaids, mandatory, color-based dress codes for guests, and the obscenity that is the unfrosted wedding cake is one particularly pretentious trend; the choreographed dance.

It’s not enough to eat bad chicken dinners, wear uncomfortable clothes and purchase a gift that costs more than your first car, no, you and seven other sad sacks have to rehearse for weeks in order to get up in front of two hundred  people and gyrate awkwardly for ten minutes to “Shake It Off”.  Or worse yet, watch your boss do it.  Try looking him in the eye on Monday morning after that nightmare.

Sorry, Brunhilda.  I gave up enough for your big day.  There’s no way I’m shaking my arthritic, uncoordinated, money-maker for you as well.

Fact: everybody that ever had a baby feels like they are giving birth to the most important, special child to ever walk the earth.  But that’s ok, because every baby should be born into a family that feels that way. 

What started as a gender reveal ended as a 47,000 acre forest fire.

But, here’s the thing; the world isn’t holding their breath to find out if it’s a boy or girl.  And a gender reveal party with (sometimes literal) explosive announcements of the news is something only the parents really give a rodent’s hind parts about. 

Is it wrong that I kinda wanna smack her?

A push present is a gift the father of the newborn gives to the mother.

You know what Joseph gave Mary?  He let her sit on the donkey on the way home, instead of walking next to it.

Just sayin’.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at d@bullcity.mom.