How Martie Learned To Sing

Recently Woney, Nurse Bananahammock, Squash and I acquired the new Adele CD and since then have spent copious amounts of time learning all lyrics and melodies which we belt out in our respective vehicles. I felt pretty good about my pipes – we all did – because when you listen to the master sing at top volume, you can’t hear your own self warble and screech.  It wasn’t until we heard ourselves sing happy birthday in a recording that we realized that simply being very emotional about lyrics and melodies does not equal actual singing talent.

Squash messaged us about this right after we all spent a birthday weekend together at Martie’s house. Martie entertained us with her guitar and her pipes, neither of which can be classified as a warble or screech, and Squash wanted to know how to get there herself.

“Does Martie give singing lessons?” she queried.

“Oh, no,” I said, “but I can tell you how Martie learned. Here, I’ll write it up for you,” and then the following was born.

How Martie Learned To Sing, An Essay By Jimmie

Step one: Get assigned a singing role with 25 other kids in kindergarten.  Learn “Leo the Lion” in one afternoon. For the next six months, sing “Leo the Lion” every single moment you are awake.  That sounds like this:

Martie: Leo the lion was the king of the jungle and his jaws were big and wide, rawr!  Leo the lion, when he roared it’s a warning that you better run and hide, rawr!  (Ask Jimmie why she remembers the words to this day, 37 years later.)

All adults (and siblings) in Martie’s life: Martie!  Stop!  That’s enough.

Two minutes pass . . .

Martie:   Leo the lion was the king of the jungle and his jaws were big and wide, rawr!  Leo the lion, when he roared it’s a warning that you better run and hide, rawr! 

 

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Step two: When your mother remarries and you are blessed with two brand new brothers, annoy the shit out of them by making up songs about them and sing them in their presence.  Or out of their presence.  Do this for five plus years until brothers move out of the house. That sounds like this:

Martie: Boo. Boo-ooo.  Boo-hooo.  Boo!Boo!Boo!Boo! 

Brother Boo: *shoves Martie into wall*

Martie: I’m telling!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Martie: Boo. Boo-ooo.  Boo-hooo.  Boo!Boo!Boo!Boo!

 

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Step three, now in high school: Purchase large number of blank cassette tapes.  Make a list of favorite top forty songs.  When any of the songs on said list come on the radio, make a mad dash to your sister’s purple boom box and hit record.  Once recorded, spend hours playing it and rewinding it so you can get all the lyrics down.  This is particularly fun when your sister is trying to read a book in the room you share. That sounds like this:

Martie: You put the boom-boom into my heart <rewind, pause and scribble>, you send my soul sky high <rewind, pause and scribble> when your lovin’ starts <pause and scribble>, jitterbug into my brain <pause and scribble>, goes a bang-bang-bang till my feet do the same <rewind, pause and scribble>

Jimmie, flapping her book: <huff>

Martie: What?  You love that song.

Jimmie, dramatically while flapping her book: You are ruining it! George Michael is MY boyfriend, not yours!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Jimmie, setting aside her book: Play it again.

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Step four: Get a keyboard for Christmas. Begin tinking on it and never let anyone else get a turn.  Once you have mastered Axel F, the theme song for Beverly Hills Cop, you are ready to perform for your (unwilling) audience (the same audience who has listened to you pick this song out for months and also the reading sister).  Begin to sound out other hit songs such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” and every Michael Jackson song.  Sing along, stop, get the right note, begin again, stop, sing, ad nauseum.  Four years.  That sounds like this:

Martie, tapping on the keys: dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, durn “Dangit!  Now I have to start over!”  dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, duhn, blang, “Huff!  One more time!”

Jimmie: Learn a new song, for the love of all that is holy!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Martie, tapping on the keys: dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, durn “Dangit!  Now I have to start over!”  dunh, dunh, dunhdunhdunhdunh, dunh, dunh, duhn, blang, “Huff!  One more time!”

 

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Step five: Get a guitar. Pester above mentioned brothers, both of whom are pursuing a rock star type career complete with leather pants, to teach you how to play. Begin practicing in earnest.  Learn every word to every Pearl Jam song, every Soundgarden sound, all Stone Temple Pilots lyrics, and don’t forget Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alanis Morrisette, Heart and the reading sister’s personal favorite (no), Patsy Cline.  Do this for eternity because you and Jimmie no longer live together so she can’t stop you, plus you sound pretty good, plus Jimmie (and all her friends) is (are) now a willing audience. That sounds like this:

Martie:  Cray-zeee.  I’m crazy for feeling so lone-leeee

Jimmie:  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  You know a million songs!  Sing one I like, you know I can’t abide Patsy Cline!

Two minutes pass . . . .

Martie:  Cray-zeeeee

Laugh

Five easy steps, Squash. You are well on your way.

You, Too, Can Look As Good As All This

Katniss and I were having lunch the other day and she said, “I went to lunch with a girl in my office last week and Jimmie, I missed you. We went to Blaze and we ordered our pizzas and she ate three pieces and claimed she was stuffed.  Just crammed to the gills.  Couldn’t eat another bite or she’d be sick.  I was on piece four, heading for piece five and I felt so guilty for eating it all that I quit.  Please don’t make me do that again.”

Katniss does not have to worry. I will eat a whole Blaze pizza* and not feel one bit bad about it.  Besides, Iman, you know her, she’s the gorgeous angular, exotic toothpick widow of David Bowie, said that older women should maintain an extra five or ten pounds to keep our faces looking young.  That extra bit of fat plumps out the wrinkles, see, and keeps us from drooping into our later years.  I feel like if five or ten pounds is enough for Iman with her gorgeous cheekbones, then I need to go a step further with my lesser cheekbones.  Maybe more like twenty-five or thirty pounds, yeah?  I’m just doing my part to look young, to inspire all these kids to embrace aging with relish.

*For the record, Blaze pizzas are created for single individuals and are as thin as a Kleenex. They are meant to be eaten in one sitting because they are small and taste terrible when they get cold.

Speaking of looking young and beauty routines, I thought I’d share some of my tips and secrets with you today. I turned 44 a month or so ago and when I tell people, they’ve often said, “Well, you barely look over 43 and a half, what’s your secret?”  I’ll tell you.

Firstly, I maintain a youthful exuberance with the wavy, loose curls I like to iron into my hair. Ideally you’ll use a 1.5 – 2 inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron because it can heat up to 400 degrees in a matter of moments. This really puts a good scald on your hair which is necessary for getting a good curl.  If you can smell the heat, it’s hot enough.  In reality, I used to use the ideal 1.5 – 2 inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron but it slipped off my hair one day and onto my shoulder.  The 400-degree barrel gave me a nice oblong blistered burn that looked like a bubbled up hickey, and that really ticked me off because not only am I celibate for what seems like FOREVER, but I got a hickey from a curling iron and not a hot man. In retaliation I whacked the 1.5 – 2 inch barrel over and over against the counter whilst cursing like Andrew Dice Clay and the end result was this:

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Now I use the 1-inch barrel Hot Tools curling iron that also heats up to 400 degrees that had been lounging in the bathroom cabinet for a year or two because the curls it makes are too tight for my liking. You can still reach the youthful exuberant look with this wand, though, as evidenced here:

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Once I get my coif fluffed to an appropriate fullness, I begin work on my eyes. The eyes really tell the story of your aging, so you want to take very good care of them.  Ideally you will have a regimen than includes delicately patting ludicrously expensive eye cream under your eyes morning and night, and you will use a gentle cleanser, equally ludicrously expensive, to remove any makeup you have caked on in an effort to make your eyelashes look like caterpillars. I’m on board with that except for the part where I cannot afford ludicrously expensive anything.  I can afford Avon makeup remover which is actually very good, so that is what I use until I run out and realize that I forgot to reorder and then I rummage in my cabinets until I find something else that will work.  Behold:

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And this is how well it works. Behold:

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Ain’t that awesome? I’m down to the bottom of the jar now so I have to stick my longest finger down in it and scrape some out which I then smear on my eyes, squishing it all around until the mascara finally releases its spidery death grip on my lashes and gets washed off with a very thin washcloth which has permanent mascara stains.  Works great! I think the fat from the coconut oil and the potential allergy issues I could have from the amount of cat fur in my house (behold below) keep my eyes nice and puffy which as we read earlier, keeps the wrinkles from wrinkling which makes me look youthful!

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Once I have performed all beauty ablutions, I head to the closet to pick my clothing for the day. I told you once that I like to wear wafty, gauzy, floaty things because they make me look like a calm and serene type person. This remains true. I also believe that they make me appear younger.  No “good looking” severely cut blazers for me. No skin tight pencil skirts with fitted shirts that emphasize my (not) tiny waist and (not) bubbly bum.  I like stuff that doesn’t really touch me.  Ideally.  In reality, it turns out that wafty, gauzy, floaty things make me look pregnant as proven by the eight-year-old girl who caught me talking to her eight-year-old boyfriend at church.

“Hi, Lee,” she said as she pulled his arm into hers. “Hi,” she said to me with a squinched up mouth.  “We need to go, Lee,” she said as she dragged him off, and as she sashayed away she flung over her shoulder, “That dress makes you look pregnant.”

Well, at least I look young enough to be pregnant.

Speaking of stuff I like and use, my go to brands are below. These are the things I will spend ludicrous amounts of money on, no matter how little money I actually have:

  • Lancome Eyelash Primer – Oh my crackers, this stuff is expensive but it WORKS!
  • Benefit Mascara, Black – Talk about tar but this mascara will give you the best spidery lashes in the world!
  • Clinique Chubby Stick, Mightiest Maraschino – I wore this lipstick the other day and a girl at work said, “Wow, you look edgy. Kind of bitchy. I wouldn’t mess with you at all!” Thank you, my work here is done.
  • A Hair in My Biscuit’s Hot/Cold Eye Mask – Martie makes these and I keep one in the freezer at all times. When you have slept in cat fur all night (Thank you, Murphy) or eaten too much salt (Thank you, anything more than one grain) or stayed up too late watching Downton Abbey (Thank you, Amazon Prime), you’ll want one.
  • Flax clothing – Generously sized so that when I purchase a medium and it floats around me, I feel dainty and small. This I love because the only other way I’d ever feel dainty and small was if I had lunch next to Shaquille O’Neal.

I think this whole list screams youthful, don’t you? I mean, isn’t that what youthful really means?  Very poor decisions regarding things that really do matter and very expensive decisions on things that do not? Don’t care.  I love my caterpillar eyelashes.

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Don’t look a minute over 43, do I? Puffy eyes and all.

 

Photo Dump

Man, what a lazy cow I have been lately! I had all these intentions for writing excellent stuff, really scintillating material that would wow you, and then Madre and I took a vacation.  Since we have returned I’ve read eight nine books (finished another last night).  I’m guessing that lazing around in a hammock chair for six days really did me a lot of good as far as relaxing me but it also put some kind of lazy haze on me and I can’t seem to snap out of it.  Oof.

Anyway, I was scrolling through the photos on my phone the other day because somehow I have used up most of my storage and I can’t figure out why. I play no games.  I have maybe four songs I listen to on a rotation.  I don’t Facebook anymore, and I’ve posted seven pictures to Instagram.  I wanted to see if I could delete anything, maybe some pictures of some meals I already blogged about here or an accidental 3-minute video of my floor covered in cat fur, and it so happens that I found about 62 pictures similar to this:

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Pooh

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Tigger

Turns out if you give your phone password to your nieces and then leave them in the same room with said phone, they take liberties. I miss those children.

I’m not one to really miss people. I enjoy you when I have you and I look forward to seeing you, but I’m not going to miss you, not really.  But Madre and I flew down to Key West with Pooh and Tigger a few weeks ago to deliver them to Aunties Anne and Susanne for a three-week European trip, and I MISS them.

(Also, do you like how I casually just threw “Key West” and “Europe” in there? Very blasé, like this happens to us all the time.  These kids are in EUROPE!  And Madre and I were in KEY WEST!)

(To be fair, I suppose Key West isn’t really that big of a deal because we do have open access to the aunties’ house any time we want to go plus it’s hotter than is healthy or fun for any human down there. I do believe it is currently too hot for even the iguanas and that is saying something.)

The girls come back home tomorrow. I am beyond ready.  Their parents are frantically beyond ready which is really the only word I can think of to describe what it must feel like to be a parent of children that you miss more than I do.

In honor of their return, and in honor of them in general, I’ll share this picture and then tell you the story of how it came to be.

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About a year ago I headed down to their house for my monthly babysitting gig, although babysitting sounds very juvenile for two girls who are already shaving their legs. Let’s say that I headed down for my monthly hangout with some preteens and we decided to go on an adventure.  We set off for the woods, in the fall where we were certain to not run into any ticks, and kicked rocks along the dirt road as we walked.  After a few good kicks, Pooh kicked a clod of dirt off of something round and sort of smooth and suddenly we were on the ground digging at it with rocks and twigs trying to see what it was.  I had to scurry back to the house for a shovel with which to dig it up and only after quite a lot of work did we discover that tortoise shell.

Pooh said, “I knew it! I knew something exciting would happen today!” We unearthed it, liquid dead turtle poured out in a chunky, vile-smelling stream, and suddenly it seemed less exciting.  I was not one to crush the excited hopes of a preteenager, though, so I excitedly placed the shell in the scoop of the shovel and excitedly carried it hobo-style back home. We placed it on the rail of the porch for the parents to exclaim over upon their return which they did with hands clasped over their noses and faint traces of nausea on their faces.

I think what I really want to focus on here is the hopes and dreams of these girls, the exciting opportunities available to them. I’m such a selfish person, or maybe an indulgent person, and while I want good things for everyone, truly, it is very hard to be as enthusiastic about your hopes and dreams as I am about my own.  I think that is human.  These children have forced me to be different.  They have forced me to face the fact that I am not the most important person to me anymore, the spinster, the person who gives herself everything she wants because it is clear that no one else will. Now that indulgent person wants every good thing I ever had or never had to be theirs, whether it be a stinky tortoise shell or a trip to Europe or a boy to just stand in front of the girl and say he really, really likes her.  I want them to have it all.  I’ve never felt so selflessly about anyone in my life.

Perhaps I will have stories to tell about their adventures when they return.  I hope I hear them all.

To sign off, I’ll deliver more of my photo dump to you so that I can delete this mess off my phone and save more room for teenaged selfies.

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Jimmie and Pooh

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Tigger and Jimmie

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Groundhog who actually posed for this photo

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And then turned the other way for another shot.  Not joking.

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Seamus, just because

Things That Make Me Cry

“Oh, goodie,” I can hear you saying now. “This ought to be uplifting. Anyone want to skip this one and go get some donuts?”

Tell you what, if you are mad at me by the end of this post, I’ll buy you your very own personal donut and ship it to your home address, any flavor you want. Okay? Okay.

Back when Poppa was so very sick and we spent more hours than anyone wanted at Vanderbilt, we found ourselves in need of some nighttime sitters. See, Poppa was struggling with Sundowners which basically means he was out of his head and hallucinating a whole lot. Only now can we laugh about some of his stories because only now we can accept the loss of him without feeling gutted all the time. Anyway, at night Poppa would get feisty and Brother Bear, Coach and I each took turns hanging out overnight to keep him in the bed, clothed, and stuck with all the appropriate tubes. Each of us still had to work and travel and take care of children so there came a point when we all got too sleepy to be effective. Enter Caleb.

The first night that Caleb arrived, I thought to myself, “Oh, Lort. Poppa’s not going to like this one bit.” Caleb was young. He was wearing a Bob Marley nightgown as a t-shirt, and under that he had some baggy pants and over that he had a flannel shirt. His hair was neatly pulled back from his forehead and ensconced in a ponytail holder but from there his afro exploded outward into the biggest puff of hair cloud I’ve ever seen. He had his backpack over one shoulder and he dragged his feet when he walked. Poppa liked clothes that fit, hair that was neat and youngsters who walked like they were walking, not shuffling.

Right away Caleb went into the hall and got himself a bench to sit on despite the comfy chair options he had inside the room. He placed it a foot away from Poppa and sat upright, posture better than mine, and very, very still. Right away he familiarized himself with the equipment attached to Poppa. Right away Caleb put a reassuring hand on Poppa’s toe, letting Poppa know that he wasn’t alone. And when Caleb saw me petting Poppa’s head, he got up from his bench, picked up one of the comfy chairs and placed it next to Poppa’s bed so I could pet him without getting tired. He told me the story of his grandfather who died when he was six, how he and the grandfather did everything together, literally everything, and how he wanted to help people deal with sickness because he was good at it and he knew what it was to be scared. I can attest that he was good at both helping those who are sick and helping those who are scared.

Poppa was oblivious to all of this, or so I thought. He reached over to his hand and began tugging at a tube to yank it out, something he had done with great regularity since day one of the stay.

“Hey, buddy,” Caleb said for the first of a thousand times that night, “don’t to that,” and he gently pulled Poppa’s hand away.

Poppa looked over at him and said, “Kid, I need you to take me home. Go around and get my car and I’ll meet you out front. Jimmie, you meet us at home, this kid is going to take me there.”

God, I laughed. “Kid.” Oh, Poppa, I miss you.

So that makes me cry. And this makes me cry, because it reminds me of Poppa in the best and fiercest way, but also because it is a picture of life, of getting back up when you fall down over and over again. Isn’t this picture great?

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Baby owl learning to fly, photo by Peter Brannon

Speaking of pictures, here’s another, from the cruise My Girls and I took in March.

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This was in Jamaica, and I’ll be honest, Jamaica was not my favorite place. It was hot which I suppose is normal so I can’t fault it for that, but it was pushy and smelly and we were seen as walking wallets. I guess tourists often are seen as ATMs but I can’t say that’s how I like to make an entrance into a new place. Anyway, after a whole day of grasping our purses close to our body and being made to feel very guilty because we did not part with all our funds for all time and on into eternity, we finally escaped through customs and back onto the port where our boat was docked. That picture was taken right outside that customs shelter.

I bet you look at that picture and see a mildly interesting array of boys banging on some drums, but what I see is a crew of kids who were hustling. Hustling. Those boys stood there in those hot-ass uniforms that they picked up somewhere, mismatched buttons and hats and pants, and they played their hearts out ALL DAY. They played for every person that showed even a modicum of interest. They danced for every person there and played for every person there, sometimes on their knees at our feet when they could tell someone was particularly moved (me), and sometimes as the whole line; sometimes it was a Michael Jackson song and sometimes it was just the thrum of our collective heartbeats, banging in time with the drums. If a single person watched alone, they played just as hard as they would for a whole crowd. They hustled, and it was all I could do to hold the tears back as I watched them with their young hearts and their strong arms and their glistening foreheads, trying to make a better way for themselves. I hope you see them my way and offer your prayers for them, that the hustling pays off and they get a solid shot at whatever they try, because their work for those moments on the drums is more than enough to earn them that. I also hope you realize that it took an extraordinary amount of time for me to come back to myself, what was left of me anyway, and stop the leaking in my eyes so I could count the money I had left after I dumped all I could find into their tip basket.

With that, I’ll take you to the next picture that makes me cry. Not fierce, not sad, but just about the cutest thing I ever did see in my whole life. For those of you who do not understand my deep and yearning, burning desire for a donkey, behold:

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Donkey being toted by a soldier

I have to stop. I need a donut. This whole post is killing me.

In conclusion, and I promise to you and me both that this is the end, I have one final story to tell.

Two years ago Martie and I reached a tentative agreement wherein she would take possession of the house and property called Big Creek, the family abode where we did most of our growing up, and in return for me not getting my panties in a twist over it, I’d get a donkey. By tentative I mean that I was thrilled that Martie, the most sentimental of the wad of us, would preserve our history and that Martie sort of agreed with a wavering voice that maybe, someday, perhaps there could be a donkey on their property that I’d get to name. Maybe. One day.

Pretty much I asked about that donkey every time I went home to babysit Pooh and Tigger. I drove over to the neighboring farm that housed the show donkeys to stare at them, and I pointed out the fuzzy and cute regular non-show donkeys we saw while driving the back roads in my home town. I’ve stated my earnest and deep desire to marry a donkey farmer more than once and have already mentally packed my truck in anticipation of his proposal, this farmer with his burros whom I have not yet met.

This has been a fantasy, and like all fantasies, I understand that it may never come to pass. That is okay. Still a fantasy, still nice to dream about, but likely saved for my mansion in heaven where God assuredly has a donkey with long eyelashes already waiting for me.

On Saturday, that fantasy became reality. You guys! I’m getting a donkey!

My birthday card from Martie, et al, received Saturday, June 11th at 5:13 pm, which she asked that I read aloud and which I couldn’t because the tears started in my throat and made it to my eyes and my voice which shook so badly I could not speak:

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Pictures will be coming forthwith. In the manner of someone who is expecting a child, I shall expect gifts and fetes, and I’ll register for hay and donkey brushes and festive neck attire with which I will adorn his or her neck and take selfies. Rest assured I will be crying in most of them but these will be tears of joy and love and the knowledge that my family loves me more than anyone rightly deserves. I am loved more than I can fathom. I’ve got it so good. Thank you, God. Selah.

Now, who needs a donut?

Conversations With Joe

You guys remember Joe, right? Joe has been a long time member of my Supper Club at Fifty Forward and honestly, he provides me with most of the fun stories I have even though I almost never share them here. He is a lifelong bachelor and you wonder when you meet him if that is by choice or circumstance. What I mean by that is he’s sneaky. He will begin a conversation with you in a myriad of ways:

Jimmie, I watched a show on tv the other day and did you know that they inject corn with high fructose corn syrup? It’s true, they do. The guy said that the only time you should ever eat corn is if you grow it yourself.

Hey Jimmie, have you ever been to Canada? I have. We went to that part that is so rich you need to have green blood to afford a hotel there.

I’m giving up refined sugar. Unless it’s a sorbet. I will eat some sorbet but I won’t eat refined sugar. It’s bad for you.

Jimmie, what’s a starch? (This one is asked in the middle of dinner when he hasn’t spoken for twenty minutes because he’s intent on his hamburger and fries – his favorite meal. Once he asks and gets an answer he goes back to his burger and never brings it up again.)

It’s in Banff Springs! (When you ask him “What?” he replies, “That hotel in Canada? The one that is in the rich part? It’s in Banff Springs. We were there.)

You know what that guy said, he said that if you want to give someone cancer you should send them to chemo. (At this point I was no longer really tracking because it was the third time he mentioned it, but I suspect this was another tidbit from the guy on the tv show he recently watched.)

After a couple of hours of conversation with Joe, you find yourself wondering if he’s all there. He drives just fine and always has money to pay for dinner and it is clear that he held down a steady job for many years so that he could retire in relative comfort, but you wonder if maybe he has a benefactor of some sort or a guardian who stays in the shadows. It isn’t until he pops off with something like the below that you see how sneaky he really is:

Jimmie, I would never finance a car. You should never buy a car that has a payment larger than your rent. People who do that are just showing off and the amount they pay in interest could be invested into a 401(k) and they could increase their retirement income by 7.5%. That could mean a higher grocery budget every week and people later in life need to pay attention to these things.

And you look at him in utter astonishment because in the five years you’ve been doing this, you never suspected that underneath the wavy eye and the shuffling feet and the nearly incoherent Kroger rant he subjected you to two years ago for the sum total of three hours, Joe is a pretty smart guy. Not even pretty smart, but very smart as in he paid cash for his car AND his house and lives debt free today. Damn. Caught me off guard, that one.

I leave you with one final Joe conversation.

“Joe,” I asked, “did you ever have a girlfriend that got away?”

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “several of them. And some of them I had to kick away. Bad news.”

I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!

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Oh, For Crying Out Loud

Madre was here for a Mother’s Day celebration which involved attending the Sounds game to consume hot chicken. Not to watch baseball, mind you, but to eat some hot chicken.

An aside. When Woney and I were returning from Ireland via the Dublin airport, we met some strangers from Minnesota who were perusing an Irish-published travel magazine and found an article on Nashville’s latest phenomenon, hot chicken.  When they discovered that I hailed from Nashville, they invited themselves to my house so that they could try hot chicken for themselves. I had no idea what they were talking about. That’s just like me to go halfway across the world to discover what my city is known for.  Anyway, hot chicken is just chicken coated in a batter than contains hot sauce and fried in oil, either pepper or regular.  Some places will drizzle more hot sauce-type stuff over it and some will not.  All of it should come with a pickle.  I imagine that hot chicken, complete with pickle, has been a menu staple in numerous soul food-type kitchens in numerous cities for numerous decades yet some genius in Nashville coined the phrase, and waalah! We are famous.

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From The Row, because I don’t have a picture from The Sounds

Also an aside, Madre prefers the Sounds’ version of hot chicken over say, The Row or Party Fowl, and I prefer the tight bums of baseball players over, say, the less tight bums of men at McDonald’s, so the Sounds game it was!

Once Madre and I commenced celebrating we hauled all our stuff into her truck so that we didn’t miss a minute together of our party, and only after we got done did I haul all my stuff back into my own car. When we finally parted ways we hollered all of our “I love yous” and “arrivedercis” back and forth through our respective windows and then I drove off into the sunset.  The point I’m trying to make here is that I didn’t spend much time in my car and when I did, I used a lot of that time to yell out the window to Madre.  The other point I’d like to make is that all that yelling didn’t let me fully hear what was going on with my engine when I tried to start it so later, on Tuesday, when my car croaked at the Greenway it was a total surprise.  Daisy and I had been walking and since we don’t often holler “I love you” or “arrivederci” out our respective windows as we leave the Greenway, when my motor went rowh-rowh-rowhhhhh, tick-tick-tick, I noticed.  And then when it made this sound –> *crickets*, I really noticed.  Frick.

“Do you want to try to jump start it?” Daisy asked.

I knew it was the alternator because I was due for a new alternator as it’s been almost a whole year since my last one croaked. “No,” I replied. “I’ll have it towed over to Austin’s (plug for 5th Gear Automotive) and get him to replace the filth flarn alternator. Again.”

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“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Totally sure. I know this sound.  I have, against my strident and strong will, become a mechanic you know.  This is just going to require some planning.  Frick.”

Daisy drove me to dinner and then home and then I made all my ride/tow plans with Pee-Tah and Katniss and Austin (another plug for 5th Gear Automotive) and a tow truck driver named Brad.

When I called Pee-Tah, he queried, “Do you want to try to jump it, just in case? I can meet you over there.”

“No, it’s the alternator,” I sighed. “All that money that I saved for my cookie doctor cell burning procedure is going to be spent on my new used alternator and I’m annoyed. Plus I took off my bra and I’m in pajamas.  So, no, thanks.”

The next afternoon when I met tow truck driver Brad at my car on the Greenway, he backed his big flatbed up to me and said, “Have you tried to jump it?”

“Nope,” I replied. “I have it scheduled for an alternator replacement tomorrow morning.  That’s what is wrong with it.”

“Okay,” he said, and then hooked up my battery to his jumper machine and my engine started right up.

“Alternator’s fine,” he hollered over the engine. “Runs great!  You still want a tow?”

Well, shit.

As it turns out, I am not yet certified as a mechanic and as it turns out I only needed a new battery. Still pisses me off, though, because that battery was only two years old. Things just don’t work like they used to anymore.  Also, as it turns out my favorite people over at Advanced Auto Parts (not a plug for Advanced Auto Parts) went way up on their battery prices and no longer rush out to your vehicle to replace said batteries. (Currently reevaluating my system for determining favorite people.)

“There’s going to be a thirty minute wait,” the clerk said. “There’re only two of us here right now and we can’t leave the store like this.”

“Tis fine,” I said. “I already waited two hours for Brad the tow truck driver so what’s another thirty minutes?  I’m just going to drape myself on your curb out here until someone can help me because despite the numerous times I’ve had this battery replaced, I still don’t know how to do it myself.” Mechanic, my arse.

I draped myself and watched people for about three minutes until a customer who had been in the store walked out and offered to change my battery for me (plug coming! This is called foreshadowing!).  “It won’t take but a few minutes,” he said.  “I’d be happy to do it,” he said.

*Dun, dun, dunnn (foreshadowing music)* Y’all, I would like to introduce you to Brandon, my new favorite person. Ta da!  

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It didn’t take me a moment’s hesitation to yelp my yes to Brandon’s offer of help and he responded in kind. He was already waiting at my car with his tools at the ready before I made it outside with my big ass battery.  It took him approximately seven minutes to change that thing out and in that time he reassured me that I really do have a good car.  He explained why that big bolt is in front of the battery and why I need to make sure it’s tightened.  He also explained that he has a mobile auto repair business (FORESHADOWING COMPLETE: Plug for Brandon’s auto repair business!) and I squealed over the good fortune of me and all my non-mechanic friends who now have the number of a great guy who will rescue us when needed (and, I feel like I should say, when he is available).  Then he carried my grungy old battery into the store for me so I wouldn’t get dirty.  Sigh.  It was just so great.

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I meet the best people, don’t I? Don’t know shit from shinola about cars, nor can I successfully change a battery by myself, but I sure do have the nicest people in my life.  I’m so lucky.

Here’s The Truth Of It

Back last year Woney and I were having a conversation about taking a trip.  Like, last year in May as we were training for and completing a half marathon.

“We,” I wheezed, “are going,” <wheeze> “on a cruise,” <wheeze> “right?”

<Wheeze> “Yes, because,” <wheeze> “I hate being,” <wheeze> “cold,” wheezed Woney. 

“I want to go,” breezed Squash as she sped past us.

“Me,” <wheeze> “too,” wheezed Nurse Bananahammock. 

Wheeze.

Planning that trip pretty much got us through those 13 miles, and as we sipped celebratory cocktails that evening, we nailed down the details for a cruise nine months out.  That was where this picture was taken and the base line for the story I wanted to tell.  Wanted.  Not want. 

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Now that I’ve been wishy washy, I’m going to tell the original story I wanted to tell because everyone abhors a tease, but before any of you who will soon be perched at your desk with your mouth hanging open, kind of gaping at the words that pour forth from my fingers, fires off a salvo to me tell me how you’ll never read me again because you cannot believe I’d say something so pervy, I’ll remind you that there is more story coming.  Please get to the end before writing me off as a floozy.

While we were at the port stop in the Grand Caymans, Woney and I found ourselves on the sidewalk outside an ice bar, one of those places that advertises itself as five degrees below zero.  All seats are made from the ice, all walls and ceilings, and you have to wear puffy coats and Russian-style babushka hats with gloves so as not to lose your appendages to frostbite.  Now just nine months prior, Woney wheezed that she didn’t enjoy being cold and I wheezed my agreement so it was a bit of a surprise that we found ourselves so enamored of an ice bar.  But here’s how the story went.

“Oh, look,” Woney said, “there’s an ice bar.  I’ve always wanted to do that. It is nearly 100 degrees here in the sunny Grand Caymans.  Perhaps we would enjoy some below freezing temperatures?”

“Meh,” I responded. 

“Yeah.  Meh,” Woney agreed.

“You could watch the video,” the girl behind the counter said.  “Just see what it is like.  We provide the coats and gloves and these awesome t-shirts for purchase after you come out.”

“Meh,” we responded. 

“We offer Big Black Dick,” the girl said.

Suddenly I was intrigued.  “Big Black Dick?  Is that, like, a gummy?  Or, you know, a man?”  Woney listened with rapt attention, also, and we both dug around our respective purses looking for the twenties we could throw on the counter to gain entrance into the place that housed the Big Black Dick.

Turns out Big Black Dick is rum, and turns out it is delicious.  I wanted to tell you that this face I am making is due to the Big Black Dick and then I wanted to tell you that I scampered around the Grand Caymans hollering about Big Black Dick, and also tell you that I told everyone on the ship I had Big Black Dick and also called my mother, proud as a peacock, to say, “I had Big Black Dick in the Grand Caymans!”  For the record, my mother would respond in this manner:  “I am so proud!”

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I wanted to tell you as I wheezed with mirth that I was a woman of the world who picked up Big Black Dick on all her voyages.   I would wheeze with mirth until I realized that a missionary I love reads this blog.  My father reads this blog.  My old bosses and all my friends read this blog.  Some of them will be all, “Go, Jimmie, Big Black Dick, woo!”  The rest of them would purse their lips and make tsking noises and know that I was lying about what that Big Black Dick meant to me.   

Here’s the truth of my life, the story I want to tell now.  I did all those things and said all those things but I live a very different story than that.  Years ago, after I got my heart smashed into a pancake by a sledge hammer, I made some significant changes to the way I do things. These things don’t necessarily make sense to the world at large and I realize that I’m bucking a lot of trends here but I really cannot care about that.  For example, I read up on yoga and nixed that from my exercise repertoire because the spiritual implications of the poses and chanting made me uncomfortable. I stopped attending traditional churches that promoted their own programs and rules to a fault and instead just decided to love people.  I vowed that celibacy was for me until I was fortunate enough to remarry.  No matter what I say about Big Black Dick, hahahaha, and how I wheeze with mirth about it, hahahaha, I won’t experience it unless I marry it, no hahahaha at all.

All this makes me super fun at parties and on dates which is likely why I am no longer invited to any of those things anymore.

But here’s how I see it – pleasing Him is now more important than pleasing me. I’ll follow His rules because He says to do it, but by following those rules I’ve found a thousand other reasons that point to them being an excellent idea all on their own.   For example, loving people was always something I’ve done, sure, but once I became a die-hard, balls-to-the-wall, knocked-down, dragged-out, on-fire, hardcore follower of Jesus, (mind you not religious, not a Baptist, not anything other than following my Christ) it became sweeter. Love is just sweeter.

Likely I will catch a lot of flak for this, or likely I won’t.  We each get our own story to tell and I’ve never been one to tell you that your story is wrong.  I doubt anyone who loves me would repay me not in kind, but even if they do, I’m strong enough to stand on my own two feet about it.  No approval necessary.   

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