Click on any underlined title in the list below
to be linked directly to that essay:
“Why Do I Even Bother Puttin’ on Makeup?”
“You Are Supposing On Me”
“Remembering Dad and the Mugging”
“Crime Found Me”
“The Jaguars, Dad, and My Lucky Shirt”
“I Helped the Jags Win Again!”
“He Died the Morning I Turned Eleven”
“WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER PUTTIN’ ON MAKEUP?”
There's an old southern saying that gentile ladies do not sweat, they perspire. I thought of that lovely saying as I was standing in my garage at 6am this morning wiping the .. ahem... sweat off of my face. This is prior to the time when it actually goes on record as being a “hot” day. This is when the darkness is just about to disappear and the birds are singing and sweat is rolling.
I became a “blue collar” worker a few years ago. And, it has given me an appreciation of so many new things. But, on this muggy morning, I was grateful that I wasn't standing in my garage with my “good” clothes on with stockings and high heels. I was standing there in shorts and a tee shirt. But, I did get up and brush my teeth and put on my face. Yes, that means the goo in the little bottle and the powered puff of stuff. I had run a brush through my hair and even had lipstick on. I considered myself to be respectable looking. However, I always hope I never run into anyone I know.
So, down the road I went.. driving and wiping my face. And, when I looked at the towel that had just made a trip down the side of my face, I realized something terrible was happening. In the middle of my melting in this early morning heat, I was wiping off the goo and the puff stuff. And, almost as quickly, I said out loud, “Why do I even bother puttin’ on makeup?” Yes, as sure as the birds were singing, I was becoming less respectable looking. The face you see when you first wake up in the morning and turn on the bathroom light.... that kind of face.
I have never been a vain person. While I do know that this column is about ME, I don't much care. But, it does seem to be a rather large waste of money, time and effort for me to put on all the goo and puff stuff so that I can wipe it off before anyone ever sees me. And, hopefully, no one I know. Don't you think?
Wait a second. Maybe I really don’t wipe ALL of it off. Maybe there is some sense of respectableness as I walked among the masses today. This wet stuff is only showing me off in a better way. I do believe my grandmamma would be so proud that I’m not sweating, I’m glistening!
“YOU ARE SUPPOSING ON ME”
“Do you wanna hear something real funny?” “You're gonna love this!” How many times has someone said one or both of these things to you? And, how many times did you think that it wasn't all that funny and, (B) didn't love it?
People do a lot of supposing these days. They suppose I will like something just because they did. And, I will like/love it so much that I will want to run out and tell others. Frankly, I don't think that's a very good idea. Supposing, that is. I mean, suppose I was to say to you that you're going to read my column and like it so much you're going to send it along to all of your friends? First of all, I tend to be a rambler and I tend to be negative. So, that would take a lot of supposing for me to think you would like it. Oh, don't get me wrong. I hope you do. But, it's pretty arrogant of a person to say it's good and that you WILL love it. Don't you think?
Take for instance, Gone With The Wind. Now, I think it's a great movie with wonderful characters and a lot of history too. But, I'm not going to tell you that you will like it because you might not. And, I'd hate for you to watch the four hour movie and then have to lie to me that you did like it when it fact you thought it smelled of swamp water. Do you get my drift here?
By the same token, I don't want you to suppose anything about me either. Don't insist I go see something or fix something special for dessert just because you like it. You are supposing on me. And, that's nice on the face of it. But, in reality, it can be considered a bit pushy.
Here's the way to handle this situation. I call you and say that I just read “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” and think that perhaps you might like to read it too. I say that I thought it was quite interesting and it does make a person think. And, you reply by saying something to the effect of, “Where have you been? That book was out thirteen years ago!”
See? There's no pleasing some people.
Not many people have been through a hurricane. And, of course that is a good thing. Sometimes they are like a bad rainstorm and other times they can be devastating killers. But, before I get too graphic here, let me tell you about my one and only experience with a hurricane.
My parents had always prepared for hurricanes. It's what smart people do in Florida because .. “you never know”. For us, that meant, a white metal cabinet in our utility room filled with cans (and, a few jars) of food. We could never eat anything out of the cabinet because “you never know” when there will be a hurricane.
As a kid, I was curious about the white cabinet. I thought it was kind of neat to have food in the utility room. But, one look from my mother kept me from opening the door to peek inside.
One year, George Winterling, on Channel 4, reported that Hurricane Dora was heading for the northern part of Florida. No one else was saying that. But, of course, that didn’t matter because GEORGE said it. So, it was, of course, true!
The storm got close and the wind blew. We put masking tape on our windows. Do you know about jalousie windows? They are parallel strips of glass that fit into a metal frame. There's a handle that you can turn to open and close them. Unless you hit them with a hammer, they won't be going anywhere. Yet, we put masking tape on them. Hey, you never know, right?
Then, the tall pines trees started to sway. And, by “sway”, I meant fall over or snap into and crash down on anything in their way. We were lucky. The trees went other directions and didn't take out power out. So, the white cabinet was safe.
My mother began cooking for the neighbors. She knew they would do the same for us. And, of course, in those days we did know our neighbors and all of their relatives. We gave them the key to our house. They kept it all the time! And, when we went on vacation, they gathered our mail and newspapers so that the criminals who drove by wouldn't figure out we were gone. But, that's a story for another time.
Then, it was our turn. The power was out. What do we do? I figured it was time to crack open that white cabinet. But, Dad thought it was time to start up the charcoal grill... outside... where it was raining and windy. To this day, I never question a man's love for his grill.
I forgot to mention that we had a huge freezer in the utility room filled with meat and vegetables. And, of course, things began to melt. So, Dad had a good plan of getting that meat cooked for us. I don't think he counted on it taking as long as it did. But, he was a trooper. Our power went off and on a lot over the next few days. So, that meant Dad was up at o-dark-30 getting the charcoal started. Oh, here's an interesting tidbit, scrabbled eggs take about 20 minutes to cook over wind blown, moist charcoal. Yum.
After the storm passed, the news spread among neighbors that the city was bringing in dry ice via train. And, if you wanted some, all you had to do was head down to the train station. That wasn’t easy with the road blocked with trees. But, a neighbor on the end of the street with a big sedan asked some of the neighbors to join him and my Dad did.
This was all about the freezer, you see. We couldn’t cook everything fast enough. And, once something is put in that freezer it becomes more precious than whatever is in the white metal cabinet. That’s just some analogy from a kid who was happy about missing school.
Our power came back for a while. So, my mother began cooking everything she could and giving it away. To the neighbors, to friends without power, to anyone who was hard up. I was hoping that the fried chicken was going to find it’s way to our table. But, it didn’t. And, just as the last of the food was sent out and she began to work on our dinner. . yes, it’s true… we lost our power. And, I heard a sigh from my Dad. It was time for 20 minutes eggs on the grill.
Oh, the white metal cabinet? No. We never opened it. We weren’t “that bad off” as I understand it. And, for years I wondered how bad off we would have to be to eat out of that cabinet. Perhaps it was just the thought of it. The thought that it was there watching our backs whenever we wanted a can of beans, a jar of prunes or some potted meat. I don’t know if that was what was in there, you understand. I never looked inside.. ever.
"Remembering Dad and the Mugging"
“Daddy’s been mugged”
Those three words ran around in my head for what seemed like hours. But, when I got that call from my mother, I was certain that “And, he’d dead” would be the next three words. I knew he was in Washington, D.C. And, how could you get mugged there and survive? Granted this was a long time ago. But, some impressions of the big city were strong for this 20 something girl.
Mama said he was pretty badly bruised and they were doing x-rays. But, hopefully, he would be well enough to fly home the next day. Fortunately, a business associate was with him. So, the information came a lot more freely than it might have otherwise.
I, of course, didn’t sleep that night. The questions of who and why and what happened turned into.. “I bet he has broken bones” and “He doesn’t have a wallet now”.
I called my boss as early as I could to tell him what happened and he said, “Go”. That was all I needed. I was at my parent’s house when the call came that Daddy was being released from the hospital and was taking a flight home that afternoon.
I’ll always remember him walking into the house… hunched over, black and blue in the face and a big smile. Mom and I were crying and laughing and trying to hear what happened. He said, “I had a big meeting that I really didn’t want to go to… soooo. “ Through my tears, I said “That’s way too much trouble to go through to get out of a meeting, Daddy!”
It’s funny the stories I remember about Daddy as Father’s Day rolls around. The time he was the referee at my high school’s football game. And, even though I screamed his name from the fence trying to get him to look at me, he never would. He knew that if my friends knew he was the referee and our team lost I would never hear the end of it. And, he was right. That was the last game he ever worked at my high school.
The time he drove across town in the middle of the night because I was stuck in a movie theatre’s parking lot with friends because the keys to the car were lost in the theatre. He went to the wrong theatre and I got home before he did. But, he wasn’t going to let his little girl stand in a parking lot in the middle of the night.
I was a lucky, very spoiled and tremendously happy daughter. I will treasure the bad times along with the good this Father’s Day because I had a Dad who could flash his smile after a brutal mugging and make me do something that I thought was impossible. . love him even more.
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“Crime Found Me”
I always thought I led a sheltered life. Never saw a bank robbery. Never had anything stolen. Never got close to anything remotely related to a crime until last week.
Friends had gathered at a local hotel for a reunion of sorts. Some from out-of-town and some (like me) lived here in town. I decided to make life simpler for myself and booked a room at the hotel too. We always have been a close group and laughter has pretty much been our mantra. So, when those of us who had booked rooms went upstairs to store our suitcases, all of us went. We laughed and were having a great time. I started taking my things off the cart while the couple across the way and friends gathered their things. I thought I had everything. But, my friend Bunny said that I had forgotten my jacket. As I walked back into the hall and took it from her, I realized a rather tall man was standing about six inches away from me. I turned and looked up to see that there were three men, big men. And, as I saw the masks, my first thought was, I’m about to be robbed. And, being the friendly type I said, “Oh, hello.” Why I did that can be explained by nothing more than fear. The big man said to me, “Ma’am, you are going to need to go into your room.” I looked down to see the word POLICE on his chest. And, in another brilliant comment I said, “Okay. But, I need to get the key card out of my pocket.” I guess I figured he was going to make sure I wasn’t going for my gun and I needed to explain myself. But, I got the card and opened the door to my room and in I went.
What happened next in “real time” was probably about fifteen seconds. My mind kicked into overdrive as I had these thoughts: “Okay, did he/they have guns? Are they going to kick in the door and yell at whoever is in there to get down on the floor? I’ve seen that on TV! Should I just stand here? No, I shouldn’t do that. Maybe I should get down on the floor. No, I can’t get up and run out fast if I do that! Wait. How thick are these walls? Could a bullet get through them? I better not stand here. I better go hide in the bathroom.. in the tub.. with the tile. Oh no, I can’t stay here. Everyone else is across the hall! I don’t want to get killed by myself. I want to be over there!”
I looked out the peephole in my door and didn’t see anyone. About that time, Bunny opened the door across the hall and said “Don’t you want to come over here?” And, I opened mine enough to see the door next to mine was closed and looked at Bunny and said “Yes!”
I raced across the hall and all of us began sharing thoughts about what in the world could be happening. And, after a couple of minutes when my heart rate was down to 200, I picked up the phone and called the front desk. I said something like this, “We just checked in and there’s some sort of police activity going on up here. Can you tell me what is going on?” And, of course, the front desk lady wouldn’t/couldn’t tell me a thing except to say that I shouldn’t be concerned. “Shouldn’t be concerned!!?” My room is next to a crime scene.. maybe. And, people might be killed. like me… maybe. Oh, the things you think about when you have your first brush with crime.
We decided it was a drug raid. And, naturally, began taking turns looking out the peephole of the door. It was a much better view than from my door. You could see the crime door! THEN, a female police officer arrived. And, after an hour or so, they all came out and took a woman with them. I wasn’t feeling great. But, at least they didn’t yell and kick in the door.
One of the couples in our group didn’t plan to stay the evening and had a long drive ahead of them. So, they bid their good-byes and out the door they went. About ten seconds later, they knocked on the door. And, I opened it and she whispered… “They’re back!”
Sure enough, a couple of doors down, the three big men were attempting to go into another room. I picked up the phone again and said something like “We’re all gonna die!” No, what I actually, said was, “I no longer feel comfortable on this floor because the police are back at another room.” The woman at the front desk “guaranteed” my safety, and, for a moment, I felt comforted by that until I realized that she didn’t have enough sense to stop us from going up to the sixth floor where police activity was going on in the first place!
So, here I am to say I lived through my first crime. And, what did I get for an elevated heart rate, fear and honest to goodness panic? I got a big fat twenty dollars off my room for the night and the realization that I watch way too many crime shows on television.
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“The Jaguars, Dad, and My Lucky Shirt”
I put on my lucky shirt with the hope that it might work. But, it hasn’t always. Shirts are like that, you know? But, I figured it wouldn’t hurt. Perhaps that might be all the team needs, me in front of the TV and in that shirt.
Years ago, I learned all about football from my Dad’s knee. Well, actually, not his knee. I learned it from him, as I sat next to him on the couch. I was the son he never had. I learned how you could actually watch two games at the same time while listening to two more on the transistor radio. And, yes, actually, keep up with all of that too.
Dad was a high school football referee too. And, I’ve written about how he had to stop working my high school’s games for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way about those reasons. But, I digress. Dad loved football. So, Saturday’s and Sunday’s were planned out during football season. Chores for both of us were done in plenty of time to get the snacks and the remote ready.
I learned the names of the players on both college and pro teams. Well, not every team. We did have our favorites. And, eventually, I learned the reasons why one of the guys in the black and white shirts threw that yellow flag. I was proud of myself for knowing all that stuff until I started sharing it with my girlfriends. They thought I was out of my mind. Didn’t I know that girls do NOT know about football? That’s a boy thing. Girls know about hairstyles and rock and roll dreamy guys and how to wash the dishes. Seriously.
So, I kept my knowledge to myself when I was supposed to be acting like a girl. But, as I got into college, I learned that the guys thought that it was “pretty cool” that I knew what a “clipping” penalty was. And, that it had nothing to do with a hairstyle! But, wouldn’t you know? I fell in love and married a guy who doesn’t know the first thing about football or care! But, fortunately, he has learned to tolerate my addiction or passion for the game.
Yesterday, I did have on my lucky Jaguars shirt. And, I thought a lot about my Dad who never lived to see our city get an NFL franchise. I wore the shirt for both of us. And, I cheered and paced and prayed for a win. I know that we should all thank Josh Scobee and his wonderful leg for kicking the winning field goal with two seconds left in the game. But, I’m giving a little wink to my Dad who may have given Josh some extra help. And, convinced me that there is luck in this old shirt after all.
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“I Helped the Jags Win Again!”
It’s not often that I can take credit for helping the Jaguars win two games in a row. But, by gosh, I’m going to do just that. Read how the first game was helped HERE.
After last week’s win, I received a comment regarding my lucky shirt and whether I wash it between wins. And, that got me thinking. Actually, it was the first time I ever thought about it. And, since I have normally washed the shirt, I decided I wouldn’t wash it this week. There is a belief for some that the “win” could be washed out, if you get what I mean.
So, game time arrives and I’m in my “not so clean” lucky shirt. I’m bragging on Facebook that this should be a cinch because I have on the shirt that helped the Jags win last week. I mean, come on, over the Colts even!
Without going into a lot of really boring details here, the game with the Buffalo Bills didn’t start off very well. And, I began to wonder if the shirt still had the power. The score got rather unpleasant and no amount of yelling seemed to help. So, it was time for action. Do I take off the shirt and get rid of the obvious BAD luck it was sending out? Or, do I keep it on in case the team needs it later? I just don’t know how I managed to concentrate on the game and the wardrobe and the comments on Facebook at the same time. But, I did. And, the decision was made. The shirt HAD to go.
At halftime, I bragged again that the so-called “Lucky Shirt” was now in the hamper and I was wearing another shirt. But, as the second half started, there wasn’t a dramatic change in the game. So, when the Jags got the ball again, I went into another room and looked out the window and crossed my arms and fingers. After waiting long enough for a couple of plays to be over, I walked back to my television and the Jaguars still had the ball! The next play, they were going for a touchdown! What did I do? You got it. I ran back into the other room! Touchdown! It became apparent that the new shirt wasn’t all that lucky either. And, it would require me to revert back to my intuition about when to watch and/or scream at the TV and when to leave the room. Oh yes, this has worked in previous years. Just look at my carpet. Oh, never mind.
I think it’s important here to say that it is a good thing that I stay at home when the Jaguars are playing. I can’t imagine realizing that I had on the wrong shirt while sitting in the stadium. I’d have to make my way through the crowd, go up or down some stairs and into a bathroom. After the wardrobe change, I would have to make my way back to my seat. Well, the luck would be too late then. The other team could have scored and the shirt would be useless. Horrors! And, for you smart alecky guys out there who want me to change shirts while sitting in the stands…. mind your manners!
I know what you are thinking. Is there really a “lucky shirt”? Or, is it just all about me? I’ve wondered that too. And, I think we may just find out when the Jaguars play again next Monday night. Of course, my game plan is a lot different for prime time games. And, I might not be able to stay up that late. And, I wonder if I should start with the clean old lucky shirt? Or, do I start with the new, clean and not-so-lucky shirt? Or, does it really matter? What am I saying? It ALL matters! (crossing fingers quickly)
There’s one thing for sure though: The Jaguars are lucky to have me, don’t you think?
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“He Died the Morning I Turned Eleven”
He died the morning I turned eleven. I’ll never forget the sound of my Aunt Mary’s footsteps as she raced down the hall to tell my mother that their Daddy was gone. The screams, the cries and the shock of it all in the minutes before dawn are still with me now.
Everyone raced up the stairs to see if it could possibly be a mistake. As I took a peek from around the door, I saw someone holding a mirror under granddaddy’s nose to catch the fog of his breath… there was none. I stood there shaking. I was confused and scared to see my grandfather so still. Is that what death looks like? Every adult around me was acting in a way I had never seen.
It was decided that my grandfather’s brother, Bertelle, would come and take me to his and Aunt Clara’s house right away. And, when I sat down at their kitchen table, I found the taste of Aunt Clara’s biscuits to be just what I needed. She probably didn’t know what to do or say. So, we made a cake. Aunt Clara and Uncle Bertelle were what became an integral part of the memory of my grandfather’s death. It’s much better to remember making cakes and eating biscuits when you are eleven.
Because both sets of grandparents lived so close together, I saw what I thought was every relative I had in my grandmother’s house the next day. The thing I remember the most during this particular time was all of the food. I wondered if all of those people were going to eat everything. Or, if I would be stuck with the squash casserole and not the three helpings of chocolate cake that I dreamed about.
The funeral was in the church my granddaddy helped build and he named it after his mother. Elizabeth Chapel. I sat up in front with my family and a big metal box that represented my granddaddy. They said his body was there; but, he was already in heaven. I didn’t like the word “casket” at all.
I counted the four-dozen red roses that were the “blanket” over that big metal box. And, watched the men cover up the hole where my grandfather was buried and put that rose blanket on the ground.
He died the morning I turned eleven. He died on Christmas morning. And, even though Santa had visited me the night before, I didn’t want to touch the things that he brought. I was scared. My mother swatted me on my backside with her slipper when her efforts to get me to do so failed. Then, we both cried. She didn’t mean to swat me. I didn’t mean to give her another reason to cry. Years later, she said the worst thing and the best thing that ever happened in her life happened on Christmas morning. And, while I don’t remember one of them, I’ll never forget the other.
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