Oh, Mexico. How I Love Thee.

I joined a new gym. Every three years or so I tell you that, I know, and yet my body stays in roughly the same shape despite all the money I pay out monthly for the privilege of walking miles and miles to nowhere.

Like 90% of the rest of America, I have jumped on the Planet Fitness bandwagon. How do you argue with a $10 monthly gym membership cost? I’ll tell you how – you show me the hydromassage bed and explain that the only way I get to use it is by paying $20 a month. You also show me the free tote bag I get for $20 a month. I feel the same passion for tote bags as I feel for hoodies, so $20 seemed reasonable when I perused the list of all the goodies I got for it, a list which also includes unlimited use of purple treadmills and stair climbers.

As per usual, I did not embark on this venture alone. No siree. Daisy got her arm twisted to get her own $20 a month free tote bag and use of the hydromassage beds and purple treadmill, and boy, I’ll bet she’s happy about that.

“Can you show me how to use that machine?”, I ask the stranger on the ab roller while Daisy hides behind the leg press.

“It smells like feet in here,” I say loudly so that the man next to me who smells like feet hears me as Daisy tries to climb off the elliptical and flee.

I query when the candy bucket is empty, “are there any Tootsie Rolls back there?” (Truthfully, that was Daisy. But I’d have asked it if she hadn’t.)

“This sucks. I’m tired. How much longer are we going to stay on this treadmill? This is BORING.” I like to ask that right in the middle of a HIIT workout. I mean, between the huffs and puffs as I check my heart rate on the downside of the interval, of course, because talking during the upside is not an option.

Really, though, I like Planet Fitness, and I like working out with Daisy. It’s not a high intensity gym. No Cross Trainers. No Insanity. No Boot Camp. Unfortunately, there are no hottie, hot, trainers like Woney has, and no spin classes with Lynnette, but overall it is a good experience. Everyone is nice, the massage beds are glorious, and Daisy is really funny. And there is a Mexican restaurant next door.

What, you don’t eat tacos after every workout?

I didn’t used to but it seems lately that Mexican food and I belong together. It calls to me, that sultry plate of refried beans and rice with cheese. It is destiny. And a pattern. A habit?

For example, we celebrated our maiden voyage to Planet Fitness with a plate of tacos. The restaurant was right next door! And then the following night, for example, we signed over the next year of our lives to Planet Fitness and celebrated with burritos at the Mexican place just down the street. Then, and this will shock you, we celebrated the first “Official Planet Fitness Workout” with some chips and salsa and Diet Cokes at the Mexican place on the corner. By recent count, Daisy and I have sampled chips and salsa at five different Mexican restaurants and only one of them wasn’t up to snuff. You’ll thank us when you ask for suggestions for the best guacamole in town. We are knowledgeable. Never mind the fact that we are retaining water from the sodium content like crazy, this is scientific research that must be done. For the good of humanity. (For the record, Los Compadres, over in Mt. Juliet has the best guacamole. Mazatlan has the best fajita taco salads. Las Palmas the best salsa. Get all that with no onions. Delicious!)

I told you that whole story so that I could share one thing. Two, actually, but the second one is just a close up of the first one so that you can really get the full effect.

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The last time we had tacos to celebrate a workout, we were seated at a table that had that ^ painted on it.

Here’s the close up, the view directly underneath my chips and salsa.

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Now I’m not opposed to men of color. I find men of all hues highly attractive. But I don’t care how hot you are in your loin cloth or how ripped up yours abs are, I don’t want to eat chips and salsa off your butt. Also, I will say this. If you want to pay $20 a month to get a free tote bag, a round on the hydromassage bed, and really change your body, yet you can’t seem to stop eating tacos long enough for your body to change, try eating some chips and salsa off a Mayan conquistador’s Harlequin Romance novel behind. That ought to do the trick. Put you right off of food for a good long time.

To cleanse  your palate, here’s a gratitutious photo of Woney’s hottie, hot, hot trainer.

About A Boy; About A Girl

I had dinner with my senior citizens last week. I still do that every month in case you were wondering. Our normal pattern is while we eat, we discuss other restaurants we’d like to try on another outing, and I make a running list of places so that choosing a new one every month is easy. Jan, the woman who is me in 30 years, piped up from the end of the table. “I’d like to go to Big Bang. I heard it was fun.”

I was conveying a piece of potato to my mouth with a fork and this revelation rendered me unable to hold onto my utensils. I dropped potato and fork into my lap and then snapped my open mouth shut.

“Jan, Big Bang is a bar. A rowdy bar. Downtown. With drunk people. You want to go there?”

“Yes,” she said adamantly. “I think it would be fun.”

So I put Big Bang on the list. I once spent a lovely evening there watching my friend Miguel kill it on the dance floor to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Seriously, he knew every move and did them all for the whole song. I’ve never particularly seen him as a ladies man but it seems that the ladies really like a man who can dance every move of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Miguel got a lot of numbers that night. I guess I’ll be teaching our two single men at the senior center how to dance now. Turn them into lady magnets. I’m pretty sure that’s why they come to these dinners, to find themselves a lady friend.

Speaking of single men, we had a new attendee at the dinner this month. Jack was the lone male that signed up to ride the supper van full of women. He was the last to arrive at the center and as he walked up the stairs to the front door, all the single ladies pressed their faces to the glass to watch him. I don’t know if that is a common occurrence for him or what, but once he realized he had an audience he threw both arms out to the side and puffed his chest out as if to say, “Drink it in broads! I have arrived.”

I fought my way through the crowd to introduce myself and explained that he was the single exception to our hen party. “How many women are on the bus,” he asked, looking around with some glee.

“Thirteen,” I replied and then he did a fist pump victory motion whilst exclaiming, “YES!” My kinda dude.

Remember ages ago when I told you about Jim and Jane, the couple who found each other late in life? Jim is the sort who swaggers into a restaurant with his tabbed-waist pants and his pinky ring, kind of smoothing his mane of white hair in a fluid motion. Jack is nothing like that.   Jack had on his rock star jeans with the designs on the pockets, his Daniel Cremiux shirt and his hipster glasses. He’d shaved his head into a shiny Bruce Willis dome and he expertly rolled his pant legs up into a look so trendy it hurts. He told us later that he’s 90 and a World War II vet. Went to a middle school last week to talk about his experience as a soldier and the kids ate it up. I think he did, too. I know I ate it up. Man, I hope he comes back. He was a treat. I’m anxious to see which lady friend he settles on, or perhaps more accurately, how many lady friends he settles on.

We also had another new person this month, Heather. I’d heard she was coming long before I ever got to the center, because Heather is what you’d call a “handful.” The schedulers wanted me to be aware from the get go that she would be there as she is legally blind, speaks extra loudly to make up for her lack of vision, and doesn’t get along with Jan at all. I mean at all.

Heather has had a pretty rough life but she’s not one to shy away from talking about it. Five bypass surgeries, sixteen eye surgeries, something in her kidney area and all the complications from a severe case of diabetes. She will tell you all about it and even show you her scars, but the whole time she’s talking she’s got the most upbeat attitude.

“I just figure that you only get one life,” she pontificates, “and you might as well like it. I take the bus anywhere I need to go and I get along. No need to complain.” She’s right but she’s also annoying in that no one around her is allowed to have a regret or a complaint or a question that might imply even a borderline problem.

For example, at the dinner one of our ladies, Beth, asked if her steak could be put on the grill for another few minutes as it was cold and little too raw for her liking. The waitress happily obliged but Beth was given such a tongue lashing from Heather over not being grateful that Margaret, another lady whose steak wasn’t done, ate her cold, raw meat in silence so as not to draw attention to herself for her own verbal tongue lashing. I don’t want any meek mice at our dinners so I had a talk with Heather afterwards who then hugged me and told me I was fantastic. Even put her head on my shoulder to rest on the ride home.

I am so lucky. I love these people. I sure do meet all kinds.

Because I’ve been remiss in writing about this lately, below are some of the places we’ve been for dinner and my review of them:

Butchertown Hall, Germantown area – a Texo-German place which means lots of meat. Yes, go. It’s painfully trendy, just annoyingly so, and it’s easy to get scared by the reviews on Yelp. It seems that the staff finds it excruciating to wait on you, the customer, and they run out of brisket later in the day. However, we had a delightful experience. It’s almost as if the wait staff got skewered by somebody higher up over the Yelp reviews and straightened out their act. We had Andrew as a server, and let me tell you, he hustled the whole night. He patiently answered every question we had about the menu, made thoughtful suggestions and kept the food and water coming. You’ll enjoy this place if you can get a table. Well worth it. The food was delicious, and I highly recommend the brussels sprouts. Mmmmm

Woody’s Steak House, Madison – old school steak house. When I say old school, I’m talking 1980’s wood paneling with heavy maroon trim, mood lighting in the form of wall sconces made to look like gas lanterns, and baked potatoes the size of your head. If you want atmosphere, this is not your place. If you want a side of beef, it is.

Cajun Steamer, Franklin – a total dive bar. It looks like nothing special inside or out. It’s in a strip mall for Pete’s sake. But when you go, order the tuna dip. That face you are making right now? Yeah, I made it, too, but then I tried the tuna dip and it changed my life. At the very least it changed my thinking about tuna dip. Trust me on this one.

Mere Bulles, Brentwood – a Nashville institution. When it was downtown it featured a painting of Madre on her horse, Louie. That painting is long gone now, sadly. But go there. The food is outstanding and the service, too.

Blue Moon Waterfront Grill, East Nashville-ish (I’m good with directions) – a marina bar and grill. It was pretty good. Go when it’s not so hot, though. And if you really want a marina bar and grill but you only get one shot at it, go to the one in Lakewood. It’s better.

Okay, that’s it. If any of you want to meet us at the next location, let me know. I’ll include you in our reservations. Single men more than welcome. You can have your pick of the ladies. They’ll treat you real nice.

Trying Something New?

There was a day last week when I got to work that I discovered our office temperature was 15 degrees colder than our already “I have to wear a scarf and fuzzy socks to work” kind of temperature.  I tapped away the day at my keyboard with blue fingers and with my coat on, which is not a good look for me because my coat is one size too big and quilted.  It makes me look fat and my extra hips can do that for me without the coat’s help.  After a while I put my gloves on while I worked thinking that my dexterity would not be affected and incidentally, it totally was.

You might think this sounds moderately uncomfortable but nothing that deserves an entire essay.  You’d be right.  But that was the icing on the cake of an already weird day which began when I got trapped in my garage in an effort to leave the house.  After hacking my way out of the ice wall with a spatula, big fun by the way, I merrily drove down the interstate, tootling right along until I got stuck behind a lavender Crown Victoria for 45 minutes whilst a Greyhound bus expired in the only open lane off my exit.  The lavender Crown Vic was equipped with a sound system that produced bass of unbelievable magnitude, and I watched Jay Z shake the license plate nearly off the car.  For 45 minutes.  The grand finale before the arctic office temperature grand finale was the heel of my new boot falling off in a snow drift in the parking lot.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a day like that my normal response is to:

  • Holler “BAD WORD, BAD WORD, BAD WORD, EXCLAMATION POINT”
  • Give the single digit finger wave to life in general
  • Huff around the office
  • Eat cake

And that is exactly what I was planning to do once I got inside the office except Daisy texted me and while I was telling her about my No Good Very Bad Day, I kept saying positive stuff.  Like I said:

  • Blah, blah, blah, dead bus, but it’s sunny outside and that is nice
  • Lavender paint, blah bass is rupturing my eardrums, but the car is pretty
  • So desperately want to be a grouch but no one likes that, so I won’t, word vomit, hee!

Daisy accused me of being a Miss Positive Sunshine and sent me a flower emoji, and I quickly and huffily typed out a message calling her a liar.  Right as I poised my finger over the send button, I had a thought.

See, I have a friend that I haven’t talked about much – his name is Sean – and recently Sean was telling me the story of how he got a speeding ticket.

“I was in a school zone so I slowed down,” he said, “and as I passed the last cone, I sped up ever so slightly.  I was at 21 miles per hour when I saw one more cone and realized I hadn’t made it out of the school zone yet, so I tapped my brakes to slow down. That’s when the cop got me.”

I was all indignant.  “Surely he didn’t give you a ticket for going six miles over! Surely he understood what happened, right?  Did you give him the single digit finger wave?  I would have!”

And Sean, bless his heart, said, “Well, I did ask if he could just give me a warning but he didn’t feel that was right so I got the ticket.  And I know that getting mad doesn’t do any good, so I pulled into a parking lot and read over the ticket.  I just wanted to think about it and understand what my responsibility is in all of this.  I put weekly reminders in my phone for the next month until the ticket is due so that I won’t forget about it and so that I can make sure I have the money to pay for the ticket.  I want to do this right.  After a while I drove on.  It was fine.”

I sat there in silence, my mouth hanging open and swallowing every word that tried to squeak out of it.  Kind of like those baby birds that just sit there, beaks open, waiting for their momma to bring them a regurgitated worm.  Helpless and weak and wheezy.  Kind of like that.

Finally I choked out a, “I’ve never met anyone like you.  How on earth do you find it in you to be so positive?”

“It’s just better that way,” Sean reasoned, and in the time I’ve known him, he’s always maintained that.  In four years’ time, I’ve never known him to throw a fit, get righteously angry over something ridiculous or smear anyone’s name, even if it is well-deserved.  I think if someone stole his dog he’d find a way to spin it happy and the annoying part is that he isn’t even Pollyanna about it.  He’s just matter of fact.

Now I want to be clear – ninety-five percent of my life is spent being happy.  Really, I spend very little time in the kind of anger and snarkiness that involves me hollering bad words and giving single digit finger waves, all dramatic with head weaves and snapping in a z-formation.   But a sizable chunk of that remaining five percent truly is spent in bad behavior, cultivated and cherished and primed for a visit to the cookie doctor or to the mammogram center or when a Greyhound bus expires in the middle of my lane as I’m trying to get to work and I get stuck behind a lavender sedan with the bass causing me arrhythmia.  My unhappy five percent is bad, I tell you, and it does no good.  Not one whit.

That message that I tapped out to Daisy, in which I called her a liar, all huffy and snarky?  I didn’t send it.  I hovered for a moment over the send button and then moved my single digit finger wave finger over to the delete button and deleted it all.  Instead I sent this message:

Daisy.  This is a day.  Thanks for the flowers.  Those flowers are the nicest thing that happened to me all day.

And with that, my day was saved.  It was a good day.

P.S. Sean read all of this before posting because I promise to never write about my friends without their permission.  He said, “I really was upset about that ticket.  Truly, I was pretty mad.”  That may be but where did he put it, that mad?  Where did it go?  Because when we talked about it there was no mad in him, just calm quiet and maturity.  Ima try that on for a while, see how it fits . . .

 

Technology + Jimmie = HAHAHA, no.

The other night I used the GPS on my phone to find the restaurant that was hosting a party for me and some friends.  If you know me at all, you can just stop reading because that sentence will tell you the whole story.

After loading the address into my phone, I whizzed down Murfreesboro Pike at high rates of speed, certain that I knew where the location was.  I was looking for the 1000 block and had just passed the 1200 block, so I knew that I would be on time.  The next time my GPS updated, I was in the 600 block and I was instructed to make a U-turn.

I cruised up Murfreesboro Pike at high rates of speed, certain that I knew what had happened.  I had just driven too fast and not paid attention.  On the 1000 block, my GPS instructed me to make a U-turn.  “Narrowing the window,” I thought.  “Still have plenty of time.”

I sailed back down Murfreesboro Pike and when the GPS instructed me to make another U-turn just one street later, I was confused.  I had just been there and U-turned.  There was nothing in between except an abandoned car lot and since I was looking for a restaurant called “Honduras,” not a car, I felt prickly.  In the abandoned car lot, I thought I should recheck the address to make sure I had it right.  I cleared my search and re-entered my data.  I was again instructed to U-turn and motor eight miles down Murfreesboro Pike to the new destination.  Oh.  Just a glitch.  No problem.

Six times I U-turned.  SIX TIMES!  I drove all the way down Thompson Lane and all the way up Murfreesboro Pike, FOR AN HOUR, and do you know I never found that damn restaurant with that damn GPS.

I called my friends who were already at the party, all the ones who found it with no trouble at all, and said mournfully, “I’m just going home.  I have the present in the car, I’ll give it to you later, but I cannot do this.  I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to invite me to a place I’ve never been before because we all know how handy with a map I am, but forget you people.  I’m done.  This sucks.”  And then I slammed down the phone like a recalcitrant teenager and cried.

Before you judge me too harshly for my lack of navigational skills, let me tell you about my phone.  I got this stupid iPhone a couple of years ago because I kept hearing how great it was, how it would change my life, how I’d never be able to live without one again.  And to be fair, it really has changed my life.  Really.  Just not in any good ways.

When I call Madre, and I do this daily, without fail my phone will do one of several things:

  • Hang up on Madre
  • Put me on mute with no indication at all, leaving me to blather into empty space and Madre to wonder if I suddenly expired
  • Put Madre on hold with no indication at all, leaving Madre to blather into empty space and me to wonder if she suddenly expired
  • Dial Madre in on FaceTime after hanging up on her in our regular phone call
  • Put Madre on hold and dial my step-mother
  • Put Madre on hold and text Airport Parking, twice
  • Put Madre on speakerphone, so that suddenly she is yelling in my ear

I have not had a conversation with my mother in a year and a half where one of those things has not happened.  Not a single conversation.  For a while I thought it was because the phone was touching my face but I’ve since learned that my fluffy hair is enough to set it off as well.  We are at the point now where after I’ve dialed my mother back after hanging up on her for the second time, she answers by saying, “You hate your phone, you want to smash it with a hammer, I know, so back to your party . . .”

And then! Just the other day, when I was off in the bathroom fluffing my hair, one of my cats got too close to the phone and dropped some fur on it and that was enough to turn on the voice-activated system which then informed me it was “Dialing, La Paz Catering.”  What the F is La Paz Catering?

To add insult to injury, when I want my phone to be particularly touchy and capture every nuance, say, when I’m texting during a weekend with My Girls, the phone refuses to do it.

Like for example, when I’m texting Pee-tah, my phone might say: Can I have a pizza number?0

And Pee-tah might respond:  a pizza number?

And my phone might say:  I think we set tryint to order pizzazz

And then Pee-tah might say: Have you been drinking?

And then my phone might say:  Oh yes.  Verizon cards against humanity. Pee-tah my lips are numb.

Honestly, it’s disturbing how my phone just messes up all my communications . . .

Pooh recently asked me if she could have my phone.  She’s twelve now, and the last of all her friends to get a cell phone.  She’s pleaded her case thoughtfully and politely, pointing out all the ways it will be helpful and keep her in touch with her parents.  And I have thoughtfully and honestly considered her request.  Give my old phone to Pooh, the phone I consistently want to smash with a hammer, the one that has yet to keep me in touch with my parents, the one that gives me bad directions more often than it gives me good ones, and get a new non-iPhone that might let me finish a conversation with my mother in a single phone call?

Hell yes!  It will teach Pooh patience and maybe how to use a map when she realizes the GPS is crap, stuff that every 12-year-old needs to learn.  Merry Christmas, Pooh!  You got yourself a new phone!

As an epilogue, I’ll tell you that once I told my friends I was no longer going to attend the party, they called me back with some landmarks for which to look.  “We are right behind the Dollar General Market, in the hidden shopping center.  Want us to send out a search party?”

I made one last pass down Murfreesboro Pike, creeping along, wind no longer whipping my hair all around, and looked at every store front.  I finally found it, an hour and fifteen minutes after I passed it the first time.  I drove two hours that night for a party that lasted 90 minutes for which I arrived an hour late.  I had a really nice time, though.  I guess that’s all that matters.

DO NOT Tell My Daddy

I cut my finger open with my new pocketknife. I thought I should just cut to the chase because to know me is to know I’m going to shred my fingers with sharp things as soon as you give them to me. I’d like to tell you it wasn’t my fault but it totally was.

See, I was talking to Pee-tah who had just picked me up after I dropped off my car for the fourth high-dollar fix of 2014 (it was the bushings this time, most likely exacerbated by the rear-ending my car took from the guy with the cigarette), and I was opening some batteries with my knife. I was doing great with that until I flipped the knife around and the hinge snapped shut like it is designed to do when pressed upon. The problem was that the blade closed onto my finger and immediately made the blood gush from it. (Now is probably too late to tell you “TMI.”)

Pee-tah didn’t even bat an eye. He just sighed a little bit and clicked on his blinker for the turn lane into Walgreens. “We’ll get some band aids,” he said.

We split up as we walked into the store, me to the front to find more batteries and Pee-tah to the back to pick up the bandages. I made my selections and laid the batteries on the counter. There I chatted with the clerks as I held my finger aloft in an attempt to not bleed to death at the Walgreens counter.

The nice lady clerk said, “Hon, you want a paper towel for that?” She was eyeing my gruesome looking finger, hand and arm. No worries about my blood being too thick or anything. Runs like a fountain.

“Sure,” I said, and then wrapped the paper towel wad around my finger and resumed standing like the Statue of Liberty while I waited for Pee-tah and the band aids.

The clerks and I chatted about pocketknives and Rock Island and my need for 6 C-sized batteries (for the blower thing to inflate my float for my Rock Island trip) and waited for Pee-tah. And then we discussed chocolate and chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate marshmallows, debating the merits of each and agreeing that chocolate consumption covers a multitude of ills, up to and including gashed open fingers. After some time I began to wonder if Pee-tah was alright back there in the band aid section. It did not occur to me that he might have become exasperated with my propensity to hurt myself on a regular basis and snuck out the front door as I held my finger like a torch whilst waxing poetic about Cadbury Easter eggs, although it should have. How many times can you roll your eyes and pat me on the arm and shake your head when I flay my skin open without saying, “For the love of God, Jimmie, will you quit with the pocketknife already?”

Instead, I wandered to the back of the store, finger held in front of me, and found Pee-tah holding an armful of bandages. “Jimmie! These are on sale,” he yelped. Y’all, he had so many boxes of bandages that he had to stack them up and hold them like bricks in a wall formation, one arm underneath them and one arm over them, all perpendicular to the floor. He had at least 10 boxes of band aids and chattered excitedly about them as we walked up to the checkout counter. “These are the best bandages ever! They are water resistant and will protect your finger from the gross water you’ll be swimming in later. I know they don’t smell like the other ones but you’ll thank me, you really will.”

Those clerks watched our arrival, Pee-tah with the entire shelf contents of band aids and me with a bloody mess of paper towels wrapped around my finger held above my head. Their eyes got round and their eyebrows leaped up to their hairlines as they asked, “How often exactly do you cut yourself?”

It’s a fair question.

However, what they didn’t know is that Pee-tah is a sucker for a sale. He knows a bargain when he sees one and thus is the reason I own an iPad mini, emergency lights and now the best box of band aids ever, all of which I have already used. Having been my friend for a long, long time, he knows that having a stockpile of band aids is never a bad thing as is having a set of emergency lights and a fire extinguisher, my other favorite gift from Pee-tah.

Also, I’m asking Daddy-O for a hand mixer for my birthday this year because I broke my old one making a banana cake for Hulk. No way I can go wrong with that.

Bag o' bandages

Bag o’ bandages

Throwback Thursday! No Words Needed

Madre

Madre

Auntie Pastel

Auntie Pastel

Lynnette

Lynnette

Junior Prom Date and Jimmie

Junior Prom Date and Jimmie

Jimmie and Martie

Jimmie and Martie

Dammit Todd

Dammit Todd

Jimmie

Jimmie

Martie

Martie

Madre and Poppa

Madre and Poppa

Martie and Jimmie

Martie and Jimmie

Tropical Cruise Part Five: Pissonia

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Today I’m wrapping up the final words about my cruise and truthfully, I’m a little melancholy. Spring is here finally, so yay sunshine, but the people I vacationed with are not. I’m going to miss the half marathon in May so I’m not sure when I will see My Girls again, although if I know us, it won’t be long. Spring makes travel feel so hopeful.

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Even though I feel so connected to My Girls, we still have a lot to learn about each other. We did so much talking on the ship. Every night at dinner we would pose philosophical questions and take turns asking each other stuff. One night the four of us were lounging in the restaurant in our sweet sundresses and red sunburns, discussing our marriages. Rather, Woney and I were discussing our divorces, neither of which was pretty. Divorce is never pretty but sometimes marriages aren’t either and unfortunately, Woney and I had some rough times with our respective spouses. We were discussing our horror stories and Squash and Nurse Bananahammock were “mmm hmmm”-ing and patting our arms when I realized that the couple sitting next to us, a young man and woman wearing wedding bands, had slowly stopped talking to each other and were just going through the mechanisms of dinner.

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Y’all, I felt terrible! Here Woney and I were monopolizing the whole conversation with ugly stories about being married and this poor couple had no choice but to listen to us only a chair’s width away. I’m not known for being particularly quiet. Needless to say I introduced myself and then explained that as newlyweds they were not to listen to us but listen instead to Squash and Nurse Bananahammock, both of whom have lovely marriages. And then I told them about Kevin and how I was now betrothed and invited them to our wedding. I rounded that out with nosy questions of my own about their engagement and marriage and with all that, we found new friends. (You will ignore the fact that I browbeat them into that friendship and rest assured that they were thrilled to meet us.) Jonathan and Jennifer are the loveliest people and very happily married (I was wrong about their being newlyweds – they’ve been married 13 years) so I feel good that I was not a part of another wrecked marriage.

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Another surprising couple we met, and these two are my favorites, have been married for some ridiculous amount of time – maybe 60 years. Grant and Astaar. We met them in the crowded bar that served the fruit in the drinks, and because there were not enough tables for everyone, we invited them to sit with us. Oh, I loved them! Grant was tooling around in his wheelchair, twinkling at everyone and Astaar was very calm and serene about all of it. We ran into them often throughout the week – you know how it is. You see one person one time and then it’s like you see them everywhere.

One night we were chatting with our new friends and Woney asked, “Could I take your picture?”

“Heavens, no,” said Grant. “I’ve got a bounty on my head. A picture would get me into trouble.”

“How much is the bounty?” Woney asked.

“$1.29.” Then he twinkled at us and took a swig of his drink.

Do you see? Do you see why I love them?

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While I’m having a love affair with people, I’ll tell you that I loved Dennis, too, our valet for our room. I liked the cruise director and the comedy team and all the strangers I met. We had a great wait staff, too. I meant to tell you this yesterday and forgot but one night at dinner, Woney replied “nothing” to the question “ma’am, what would you like for dessert?”

This is what she got.

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I always say this, but my favorite part of any trip or any adventure is the people. Traveling with My Girls is just easy as pie and meeting new people, for me anyway, comes naturally. I’m ever so thankful we took this trip. I’d take another, any time. Someone want to plan a trip? I’m in!

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Final round of our game!

Tell me what pissonia is:

A. A non-poisonous snake found in the wilds of Australia
B. A mixer commonly used in cocktails in Australia
C. A small bush found in Australia

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Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . . every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . . .

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Tropical Cruise Part Four: Crapulence

Food 3

Is anyone still here? Did I go away for too long? I’m sorry but I had to go on vacation to recover from my vacation so I spent some time at my Daddy-O’s house, lounging on the beach. I still don’t have a tan. I have no idea what is wrong with me.

Today we are going to talk about food, but before I begin with cruise food, I’d like to tell you about Daddy-O’s food. Daddy-O makes, hands down, the best stir fry I have ever eaten. Have I told you this before? Doesn’t matter, I’m telling you again. Every time I start planning a visit to his house, Daddy-O will ask me if I’d like anything special for dinner as he is just minutes away from a fish market and his love language is cooking for others. I will respond with silence, and then he will respond with, “Right. I meant to say instead, what night are we having stir fry?” Oh, it is delicious! For those of you who would like to visit Daddy-O and JiJi with me, understand that stir fry will be on the menu. If you are adverse to Asian food, well I’m sorry, but you don’t get a vote. Also, we will lounge on the beach and I will not get a tan. Apparently I don’t get a vote in that.

And now speaking of delicious food and not getting a tan, let’s get back to my cruise. Every self-respecting American understands that food on a cruise ship is probably the most important part of every cruise. Ports? Screw that! Excursions? Screw those! Performances? Who cares! What are they serving for dinner? Seriously, you are allowed to eat every fifteen minutes if you like. You can have 14 desserts a day if that cranks your tractor. Your kids eat only macaroni and cheese with cut up hot dogs? No problem! That is served at every meal. It is ridiculous.

Chocolate Margarita

Chocolate Margarita

You know, typing all that up makes it sound like that’s just a recipe for disaster. Somehow it wasn’t for me. I lost two pounds on that trip. How I do not know, but perhaps it is because, looking back, very little of the food was memorable. Who’d a thunk it? Here are the things I do remember, though:

Pineapple – It. Was. Perfect.

Pretzel rolls – small and chewy and covered in salt – I ate about fifteen of those

Mahi mahi – this from the person who would generally rather skip all meals than eat something that comes out of the water. It was amazing!

Bacardi Raz with diet Sprite – Squash ordered this one night and it came with a swizzle stick of blackberries and raspberries. It was gorgeous and I was jealous. I had to have one. Every bar we went to on the ship, every time I ordered a drink, that was the drink I ordered and do you know I almost never got the swizzle stick with fruit on it? Oh, I was disgusted. Might as well have thrown that drink in the trash as it was useless to me. No fruit, no tip. That’ll learn ‘em.

With fruit!

With fruit!

Chocolate Extravaganza – I can just hear all of you over there sighing, saying “Yep. Sounds like Jimmie.” However, I will have you know that I DID NOT ENJOY the Chocolate Extravaganza. Sure, I waited in line and took pictures of all the fancy creations. I filled up a plate with things to try. I wanted very much to love the guts out of that chocolate but after a few small, uninspiring bites, I decided I was over it and Woney and I threw full plates of dessert away. How?! How was that easy yet I cannot leave a bowlful of M&Ms alone?

Fancy chocolate thingamasomething

Fancy chocolate thingamasomething

Banana donut – That banana donut was my absolute favorite food from the whole trip, and you’ll be surprised to know it did not come from the Norwegian Dawn. Instead, it came from a man walking down the beach in Honduras carrying a huge Rubbermaid container hollering about “Banana donut! Three for five dollars!”

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not really one for eating homemade food out of a Rubbermaid container in a country where I don’t speak the language. Also, I’m not particularly a fan of the donut. But this woman, who was also on the beach on Honduras, was splashing herself in the water when the man walked by hollering “Banana donut!” She looked at me and asked, “Did he just say banana donut?” There was a tremble in her voice, and it sounded like excitement.

“I think so,” I said, and kind of laughed. As if. Donut from a Rubbermaid container? No.

Y’all, nothing surprised me more than when that woman, delicate and thin and definitely a swankier class of person than I, hauled her butt so fast out of that water you’d have thought she saw Jaws coming for her. She was splashing and flailing and yelling, “Banana donut! I had one last year and it was the best thing I ever ate! Ever!” And off she sailed to get her purse and corner the salesman.

Well. I never.

In short order, the Rubbermaid container man was surrounded by people holding up dollars who then tenderly wrapped those purchased donuts in paper towels. Naturally, I was curious. I stuck my hand in my pocket and found two dollars and offered that to him. “Can I get one for two dollars?” He grinned at me with his gappy teeth, took my money, and handed me a paper towel. I selected a donut and as I picked it up, I realized that this was the heftiest donut I have ever hefted in my life. That thing was heavy. I carefully walked that donut over to My Girls to offer each of them a quarter of it but only Woney was under the palm tree, so she and I split it. Once I took a bite, I was never more thankful in all my life that I only had to give up half a donut instead of three quarters of it. If I had to live the rest of my life and eat only two things until I croaked, I would pick that donut and Daddy-O’s stir fry. I’m so, so sorry that donut is gone.

Now that I’ve made you all hungry, and now that probably Nurse Bananahammock and Squash are mad at me for not sharing (that’ll learn you to go the bathroom when the banana donut man walks by), let’s resume our game.

Define crapulence:

A. A sickness from too much food and drink
B. A state of frenzy arising from over-excitement when sighting a celebrity
C. A period of mild depression lasting long periods of time

Winner gets a donut!

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Every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . . . .

Tropical Cruise Part Three: Furfur

Y’all, it looks like I’m getting married. I have been proposed to. A few people told me before I left on this cruise that they either met their husband on a cruise or they know someone who met their husband on a cruise, and so I was expectant. I had high hopes for this trip and they came true!

Before I ever even got out of Nashville, I met a man who I could tell had an interest in me. You know how you just know sometimes? Our eyes met across a crowded airport and he began a slow lumber over towards me, making a beeline (turtleline?) for the available seat next to me.

“I’m going to pick up a rig,” he said by way of introduction. “My boss is sending me to Kansas to drive it back. I do this for a living and I almost never have to fly but this here is a special deal, a real emergency, so I’ll be driving back just as soon as I pick it up.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” I said, and then turned back to my book.

“I make a real good living doing this,” he continued. “I make $77,000 a year before expenses, about $55,000 a year after which is real good. You shoulda known me when I was working for the Opryland hotel, though. Over there I’d get $2 a bag ever time I drove somebody somewhere. That really adds up. I made a lot of money.”

“Really,” I said, and then turned back to my book.

“Yeah, my boss, he trusts me to do the driving. I’m his best driver. He’s having an emergency at home right now or he’d be the one picking up this rig but I’m going out there. I just hate having to spend money on food in these places. I mean, a sandwich here is so much money. I wisht I could have brought some McDonald’s in here. Security is tough.” And then he kicked his Coca-Cola lunch box.

“Right, yes. Actually, I do need to get something to eat before I leave, though, so have a safe trip.” And I was off like a shot.

So that wasn’t the guy. Also, remind me to stop making eye contact with strangers.

Remember Kevin and George, our driver and tour guide in Honduras? Kevin didn’t speak much English beyond “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” and George really had a monologue going, mmm hmmm, so all in all, we didn’t get to know each other very well. After spending the better part of a day with them and arriving back to the ship alive, though, we felt connected. As we were driving back to port, George started hinting that Kevin had a little crush on one of us. He didn’t spill all the details at first because Kevin was still driving and I could see his cheeks getting pink.

All of us in Big Pimpin’ immediately guessed who Kevin was digging on and started the singsong “Squash has got a boyfriend, Squash has got a boyfriend” in our heads, just waiting until we could get her alone to tease her. She’s kind of the resident hottie. We pulled into the parking lot, opened the doors and handed our bags and hands out the doors so that George and Kevin could help us get out. Just as Kevin was grasping my hand, I heard Woney and Nurse Bananahammock from the other side of Big Pimpin’, “Oh, Jimmie! George says he likes the one in white shorts!”

“Sure,” I said, then realized that I was the only one of us wearing white shorts. You shouldn’t feel bad for Squash, though, as she already has a lovely husband. She can’t win them all.

Suddenly Kevin and I were both red-faced. He let go of my hand and jumped into Big Pimpin’ and sped off, his cheeks rosy and his teeth shining in a huge grin.

As we walked with George to the local watering hole, George resumed his running monologue by saying, “Kevin, he kept talking about the girl in the white shorts. He said he would leave his girlfriend RIGHT NOW and marry her. He said she was so pretty. So, what do you think? You like Kevin?”

Y’all, what could I say? I mean, Kevin owns Big Pimpin’, or at least drives it like he owns it. We didn’t die in Honduras in a van so I conclude that he is a good driver. He and George did come back to pick us up from the touristy beach. He’s reliable. This is good information about Kevin. This could work. I have no idea what my new last name is going to be or how, exactly, I am going to get my car over there, but I feel good about it. Should I wait for a ring, do you think?

Fiance Kevin, Bride Jimmie, and Best Man George

Fiance Kevin, Bride Jimmie, and Best Man George

Actually, one of the best nights on the cruise was the night we watched a couple get engaged. We were at the game show knock off thingy and I decided that dancing to the live band beforehand was a great idea. I drug Nurse Bananahammock with me over to the only other person dancing and for two whole minutes we brought the house down with our moves. And then we realized we were alone and were going to remain alone and so the three of us wandered back to our seats to wait for the game show to start.

On the final round of the definition guess, comedian Tim Kaminski stood up to give his definition of the word. He requested audience participation and grabbed a man nearby who had his hand raised. The man grabbed his girlfriend who just happened to be the stranger I was dancing with earlier, and they walked to the stage. Tim was explaining his definition and said as he handed the mic over to the guy he said, “It’s better if you demonstrate it. First you have to get down on one knee and then you have to take the microphone.” I knew. I knew right away. Oh, it was so exciting!

The guy had planned it all in advance, it seems, and the girlfriend had no idea. The next day she probably regretted the fact that she was completely hammered but it was very sweet and she cried and I cried and then realized that the two of us were alone in that, so I stopped. It just made me so happy. I love stuff like that.

Anyway, back to me. I was thinking, should I register at Target? Or Bed, Bath and Beyond? Do they ship internationally, do you think?

With regards to our game, we still have nary a winner. The correct answer is (A), the prancing of a horse. I knew Madre would get it so her answer doesn’t count for a prize. Next question:

Define furfur.

A. The stud mink at the mink breeding farm
B. Dandruff
C. An ivy-like plant used in landscaping

No cheating, leave a comment, yada yada. Please and thank you.

Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . .

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Tropical Cruise Part Two: Tittup

For those of you that think My Girls and I just lolled around sunbathing and being entertained on a boat for a week, I’ll have you know that we did more than that. We also sunbathed and were entertained outside of the boat, although you wouldn’t be able to tell it by looking at my skin. The last day of our vacation, Nurse Bananahammock said, “Why are you still so white? We’ve been in the sun for seven days.” Sigh. This is my lot in life, I suppose.

Our superfun TROPICAL vacation included four port stops, and that was the part I was so fuzzy on before leaving. I knew we were going to Central America/Mexico but where in CA/Mexico I could not have told you. Every day at port, I’d be all surprised and excited having discovered that “today we are in Honduras!” Oh, it was like Christmas. Even more so because I got a lot of loot at every stop, mostly in the form of earrings.

Belize

Belize

Our first stop was Honduras, the island of Roatan. It was my favorite port, and I have a story to tell about that. We also stopped in Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel. The four of us did separate excursions in Cozumel, Woney and I opting for the lazy one which included a beach front, lounge chairs, umbrellas, a buffet and drinks brought to us by a waiter every five minutes, and Squash and Nurse Bananahammock opting for the more active excursion which began with snorkeling. Later they got to lie on the same beach in the same lounge chairs with the same umbrellas but I personally feel like I got the better deal there because Woney and I left the beach first and got to go take a nap. I’m telling you, I was a limp noodle by the end of that vacation. I haven’t napped that much since college.

Honduras

Honduras

While I am a total beach girl and it would make sense that Cozumel was my favorite, the visit in Roatan won my heart because there we got to see real Roatan life, not just the tourist shops and beaches. The four of us wandered around for a bit looking at earrings and crappy t-shirts and then were approached no less than five times by “tour guides” wanting to show us around the island. It sounded like a good, safe idea, no way would we get scammed or robbed, so we opted for salesman Junior in kiosk five and handed over a hundred bucks for a:

–Personal driver
–Personal tour guide
–Private car
–Four hour tour

Junior and Jimmie

Junior and Jimmie

Junior introduced us to Kevin, the driver, and George, the tour guide, and then we walked out to our private car, which y’all? No. Our private car was less of a car and more of a van but a van with a shattered windshield and a collapsing headliner. Nurse Bananahammock and I wiggled our way into the back of the van and prepared to view Roatan through the back tinted windows as the dangling headliner caressed our foreheads at every pothole in the road, of which there were many. Someone at some point had made an attempt to reattach the headliner with thumbtacks that were dotted every six inches or so but that was mostly ineffective. The shattered windshield obviously had some sort of hole in it but we could not see it due to the magazine page that was beautifully taped over the hole. It was a pretty magazine page. So we were stylin’. I christened the van Big Pimpin’, and off we drove for our four hour tour.

Please note the headliner

Please note the headliner

As soon as we pulled out of the gate and onto a real Roatan road, George twisted around in his seat and began a running monologue that went something like this:

“Honduras is made up of three islands, Roatan is the biggest, and we don’t have any crime here, mmm hmmm. We don’t have no drinking age, that’s probably why, mmm hmmm.” Pause. “There are about 116,000 people who live here, mmm hmmm,” pause “and our economy is driven by tourism and fishing, mmm hmmm.” Pause. “The kids, they go to school in shifts, mmm hmmm, and that way if you have to go to work you can still go to school at night. Mmm hmmm.” Pause. “I have a daughter and her name is Hailey and I have her name tattooed right here, see? Mmm hmmm.”

Every time he would “mmm hmmm”, and for the record the “mmm hmmm” was akin to Billy Bob Thornton’s “mmm hmmm” in Slingblade, George would pause and nod his head. He was stuffed full of charisma, though, and I’m afraid we learned more about his personal life than we did about Honduras as a whole.

View from a bar

View from a bar

Our four hour tour included a stop at a local tourist trap souvenir store and a tourist trap beach hangout that served overpriced food and beverages. While the girls and I sat under a palm tree eating burritos, George and Kevin drove off to “purchase gasoline.” I’m assuming that was a euphemism for something but I wasn’t very keen to find out. I mean, we had already stopped for fuel once on our four-hour tour, and only 30 minutes of that tour included the drive in Big Pimpin’, so why they needed to go off again in search of it we could not fathom. However, George left his phone with us as collateral to reassure us that he would come back for us.

Let’s recap here. Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney and I paid strangers, only one of which spoke English, $100 to drive us around a foreign island in a van that probably came out of a scrap yard only to be left on a beach with an ineffective waiter and no way of contacting anyone, especially George because he left his phone with us. We then tipped these strangers for not killing us, either in a vehicular manslaughter type accident or with a machete made out of a palm tree and a conch shell. The consensus was that we totally got ripped off, but again, this was my favorite stop. It was fantastic!

Kevin, Jimmie, George

Kevin, Jimmie, George

Truthfully, my favorite part of any venture into a new place is the people I meet. We met a lot of interesting people in Honduras. What a friendly bunch they were. I think the thing that most impressed me about every port, Honduras, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel, was the pride the citizens took in their home. We didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t ecstatic about where they lived. And the care that they took with each other – anything they could do to benefit another business or another person, they did it. Perhaps it was because we were so festive ourselves, or perhaps they just saw us as walking dollar signs, but there wasn’t a single person I met that wasn’t super jazzed about sharing their lives with us.

My favorite photo

My favorite photo

As for the prize for yesterday’s competition, we didn’t have nary a winner. Madre guessed it but she gets lunch with me all the time, plus she already got two pair of the earrings I brought back with me. I’ll have you know that the rest of the audience all picked the same answer you did, (B), but a lobcock is a dull or boring person. Next up:

What does tittup mean?
A. The prancing of a horse
B. The practice of serving cocktails before dinner
C. A tropical bird, native to Caribbean climates

Same rules apply: no cheating, and please leave your answer in the comments section.

Crab

Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . . every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . . . More

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