Tag Archives: women

Straight From The Mouths of Teenage Drivers

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  1. “I’m not speeding! I’m going exactly the speed limit.”
  2. “That dent was already there!”
  3. “I’m not too close.”
  4. “That car needs to stay out of my lane.”
  5. “I know what to do. You told me that a hundred times already.”
  6. “I did come to a complete stop.”
  7. “This is harder than it looks.”
  8. “Wow. That was close!”
  9.  “Merging is hard.”
  10.  “I forgot about crosswalks.”
  11. “I’m never going to parallel-park, so I don’t need to practice that.”
  12. “You don’t have to yell at me!”
  13. “Sorry. Is that expensive to fix?”
  14. “I drove well this time; didn’t I, Mom? You didn’t throw up once!”

Posting this excerpt from my last book, I’ve Had It Up To Here With Teenagers, as I teach my third child to drive this week. It’s like labor and delivery, one forgets. . . .

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A Southern Woman’s New Year’s Resolutions

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  1. I will exercise every day. (As long as my favorite exercise outfit is clean, my best friend is free to exercise with me, and I don’t have to take another shower.)
  2. I will eat only healthy foods. (As long as they are covered in chocolate.)
  3. I will improve myself in some way every month. (Provided I do not have to read any self-help books, go to any counseling sessions, watch any instructional videos, or listen to smug, skinny, well-adjusted salespeople.)
  4. I will separate myself from negative people. (Is this child abandonment?)
  5. I will read the books I didn’t get to last year. (As long as someone else can do my work, wash clothes, run errands, and take care of my children.)
  6. I will prioritize my life. (I will not spend half a day making homemade cupcakes for children who will lick the icing off and throw the cupcake away.)
  7. I will spend more time with my dearest friends. (Instead of listening to mere acquaintances blather on about their ex-husbands.)
  8. I will plant an herb garden. (As long as I don’t have to water it or fertilize it or anything like that.)
  9. I will find one good thing in every person I meet. (Even if I have to admire someone’s handwriting.)
  10. I will be kind to animals. (Even if I hold up rush hour traffic for a tortoise.)
  11. I will encourage my friends in every new venture. (Even if it is a totally ridiculous idea, and everyone knows it.)
  12. I will be more adventurous. (I will run with scissors and gas up the car after the warning light comes on rather than with half a tank.)
  13. I will try a new hairstyle. (Surely there is some style out there that screams: “There is a woman in here underneath the mom attire!”)
  14. I will clean out my attic. (And stop pretending my husband will ever get to that.)
  15. I will balance my checkbook properly. (How hard can three-digit subtraction be?)
  16. I will be more tolerant of other people’s views. (Even if they are obviously uninformed idiots.)
  17. I will spend more time having fun. (And less time feeling guilty about that.)

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The Christmas Greenery Thief

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Here’s a chuckle for your first week in December. I didn’t make up one word. I swear. I didn’t have to. Humor writing is a rich well in the South, let me tell you.

Today is pick-up day for holiday greenery at the Botanical Gardens in the city where I live. When I arrived, the usual hustle and bustle was in full swing. In no time, my arms were too full to see over my foliage, so I placed my selections in a pile and began scoping out the rest of the aisle.

Imagine how shocked I was when a fellow shopper whisked my pile of bodacious greenery into her arms and headed for the checkout counter at a gallop, leaving me standing in her wake with my mouth hanging open.

“I’m so sorry,” I called out to her (because I’m a Southern woman, and we often begin our sentences that way whether we’re taking responsibility for monsoon rains a continent away or starving children in North Korea) “I think you’ve mistakenly nabbed my greenery!” I smiled warmly at her in a we-are-the-world-peace-love-and-joy way.

“Oh, I know, honey,” she responded with a teeth-whitened-to-blinding-smile thrown over her shoulder, “you’ve picked out some really good stuff here, but I am in a big hurry. You can get some more!”

As often happens when confronted with bad manners, I was temporarily immobilized. I blinked in confusion in an effort to process the hard-to-believe display of bad manners unfolding before my very eyes.

I began a number of responses, none of which actually made it out of my mouth:

“Of all the nerve. . . ”
“Did that woman just steal my greenery?”
“Where was that woman raised?”
“Who does that?”

I was at a loss for words. That almost never happens. Luckily, I was surrounded by a group of women, none of whom I knew, who were riled in my stead in a rather touching demonstration of sisterhood, I think. Yes, indeed, there were witnesses who found plenty of words to describe the Christmas greenery thief. It’s quite possible that the woman next to me got a good photo of the naughty one with her cell phone camera.

It took about two seconds for me to break down into one giggling hot mess. There was something about the sheer nerve of her move that cracked me up. I had to sit down and gather myself among the Poinsettias for a few minutes before beginning my second session of hunting and gathering.

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Goldilocks and the Three Chairs

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I’ve never owned a decent office chair, but I never lost any sleep over it either. In fact, I had no idea how many chair options there are out there. My goodness! Desk chairs are an industry unto themselves! Who knew?

I’ll tell you who knew: Mr. Bob Lindsey. He owns Lindsey Office Furnishings in Birmingham, AL, where I spent hours poking around for treasures this week. You should, too. I did my chair shopping with the big cheese himself, Mr. Lindsey. The result: My fanny is sitting pretty today!

My last office chair cost me ten bucks at a yard sale. That seemed about right since I don’t have a real office—with walls, a door, privacy, no screaming children, no pets, and, most importantly, QUIET—which would justify a big, imposing, throne-like chair, but I never worried about it. I’m a mom. Compromise, making-do, and lowering expectations are the norm. My office is a corner in my bedroom.

Now that I know what’s out there, however, I’m rethinking my lot in life. Those high-tech thrones look pretty good—like they could launch a cruise missile with the touch of a button. Just between you and me, I’ve always thought I’d look pretty good perched on a throne wearing a tiara.

Southern women like me have an innate fondness for tiaras. I wouldn’t mind adding a scepter to that office throne package, which would be handy for whacking those in my life who need a come-to-Jesus-and-mind-your-mama tap on the shoulder.

These days, I value comfort and practicality over my long-time love affair with antiques, so I was up for a chair adventure, and I planned to upgrade.

My husband went with me to pick out a chair. We found one quickly, which is often the case when my husband accompanies me on a shopping trip. He’s not an ambler. Sadly, once I got home with my purchase, the chair I chose refused to move up and down as promised, so I had to return it and start over.

More shopping is not a hardship for me. I met Mr. Lindsey with my return just as he was crossing the street to return to his office with takeout. Since I am a well-mannered Southern woman, I encouraged him to go ahead and eat. I was happy to wait. Of course, Mr. Lindsey, being old school and rather well-mannered himself, merely rolled his eyes and went to work to find me another chair that would “make me happy.”

I don’t know that there is one thing on earth a Southern man can do that is better than saying he is going to “make me happy.”

Guess what? He did. I dragged him down every aisle, room after room. I sat in every chair that was remotely appealing. It was Goldilocks and the three (hundred) chairs day. Nothing seemed right. Every chair was too tall, too short, too modern, too old, too office-y, too hard, too soft, too ugly, too clinical, or too something-or-other I couldn’t quite articulate.

Did Mr. Lindsey get impatient with me? No, he did not! I’m sure he felt like showing me the door, but he didn’t. He didn’t look to the Heavens for help or pressure me to JUST PICK ONE ALREADY!

I admire him for that.

Finally, I squished myself into a tiny bit of leathery heaven. Chair nirvana. I found the perfect chair. Angels sang. Cathedral bells rang. This chair has all the bells and whistles. It could have been tailor-made for me.

“This is THE ONE!” I screeched with glee, “Is this chair in my price range?” I asked Mr. Lindsey.

“It doesn’t matter. Let’s load it up,” he replied instantly, as soon as the words were out of my mouth.

I’m fairly certain that Mr. Lindsey gave me a whopping good deal on my office chair. I don’t know for sure because he never showed me the price. He spent at least two hours with me, so I may have actually been a losing-money sale for him. I was in no hurry at all to conclude our purchase. Mr. Lindsey is a fun guy. He tells great stories. He actually met Clint Eastwood and ended up spending the afternoon and evening with him. He’s that kind of guy. Likable. Also, he drove me around in a golf cart to look at chairs. How fun is that???

I love my new chair, and I’m pretty fond of Bob Lindsey now, too. Like most women I know, I’m a big fan of good service, business executives who stand behind their merchandise, and people whose word is their bond.

Thanks, Mr. Lindsey!

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One-Time-Only Speaking Offer!

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One-time-only offer!!! I need a videotaped recording of one of my speeches. For some reason, I can’t find one online from past events,etc., and media clips won’t do. Here’s the deal: I will WAIVE my speaker’s fee for an event (you’d still have to pay expenses like airfare, hotel, whatever) ENTIRELY in exchange for a recording, so this could be a win-win for any of you out there putting together a gala, banquet, luncheon, fundraiser, whatever. I love what I do! Put me to work for you for FREE!  Just this once, of course. . . .

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10 Things I Wish People Wouldn’t Share With Me

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Don’t get me wrong. Sharing is good. Generally. If you open a tin of mints next to me, I want one. If you crack open a bottle of bubbly, top off my glass. If you find a way to turn on your television without using two remotes, seven button-pushing steps, reading glasses, and profanity, I want you to share that miracle with me like it’s the next coming of the Lord. Most of all, if you figure out how I can eat anything I want without gaining weight, I want you to share that like breaking news on CNN. Although there are innumerable examples of sharing that I approve of whole-heartedly, the list is equally long for things I wish you’d keep to yourself. For example:

  1. Unless you are movie star beautiful, I don’t want to hear the nitty-gritty about your sex life. I don’t care if you’re straight, gay, or something in between. Unless this is a story I can enjoy vicariously, I do not want the intimate details describing your fun. There’s nothing in that for me. Make expressive faces to get your point across. Use euphemisms like Yowza! Boy, howdy! or Yummy! Trust me. I can keep up. I have a stellar imagination. You don’t have to spell it out. I prefer romance to straight-up porn, which is just icky.
  2. The same goes for your labor and delivery stories. Been there. Done that. Three times. I know how the plumbing works. Luckily, those memories fade over time, which explains how some of us got suckered into doing that more than once. It’s not a walk in the park, for sure. It’s true that some experiences are worse than others, but, generally speaking, it’s doable. Otherwise, we’d all quit doing it. (Pun intended.)
  3. Please, please, quit sharing horror stories about your ex. He or she may actually be The Spawn of Satan, but surely there was a time when you felt differently, right? For the sake of those perfect 45 minutes or 25 years, give it a rest. Share his or her fatal flaws on a need-to-know basis after the first anniversary of your divorce. A year is enough time to vent; isn’t it? Three years? Five? Pick a number, whine at will for that period of time, and then move the heck on. Don’t let your ex ruin another minute of your post-ex life!
  4. Limit the photo sharing extravaganzas starring your children, grandchildren, and pets. This is such a common problem it is a cultural cliché. I think the advent of smart phones has tripled the temptation. There is nothing worse than been trapped next to someone who is determined to share—not one or two—but NUMEROUS iPhone albums.
  5. Be stingy with details about your recent surgery or medical ailment unless it’s something truly horrific or unusual—like you were struck by lightning or bitten by a shark. Those stories I’d pay to hear. I don’t need a blow-by-blow account of your gall bladder surgery. I just want to know how you’re doing right now, and if I can help you in any way. I don’t enjoy fighting off waves of nausea as we discuss your bodily functions.
  6. Please don’t share your little children with me when I’ve paid to participate in an adult activity—like eating in a nice restaurant, taking an exercise class, or getting a haircut that’s going to cost me an arm and a leg. I’ve lived through my baby years, and I made my children behave in public. You should, too. (If you don’t know how to go about this, ask me or another bossy mother. We are here to help.) If you can’t or aren’t willing to reign in your little terrors, please stay home with them or get a sitter. However, if you have a really cute lap baby with you, please let me hold him or her for a few minutes before you leave because that would be fun for me.
  7. Please don’t share your germs with me. Duh. It seems like a common-sense call. If you are sick, stay away from the rest of us! You may think you are indispensable, but I assure you that you are not. Take a break and be sick. I’m constantly amazed that we don’t allow anyone to be sick anymore in this country—either because of finances, convenience, ego, or the fear of losing a job. That’s just wrong.
  8. Please don’t share your political views, religious views, or other strongly held opinions unless you are really interested in an open-minded exchange. If you genuinely seek that, I’m open to a lively debate upon occasion, but if that’s not you, I will undoubtedly find you tiresome and exhausting and make up an excuse to move my fat fanny elsewhere.
  9. Even if I genuinely adore you and am proud of every accomplishment your brilliant, gifted, exceptionally talented children have chalked up this week, please bear in mind that my own may be serving up just the opposite sort of week, so keep the bragging to a minimum. I want to be happy for you all the time. I really do. Alas, I am only human. I have lovely manners, but sometimes I slip up. Don’t tempt me.

Finally, and this one is unique to writers like me, I think: Please don’t share your book proposals with me. I’m begging you. I’m a writer, not a publisher, and there isn’t one thing I can do for you. When you ask, I feel compelled to read and encourage you, and I will either love your book, so someone will undoubtedly publish it, so you don’t need my input, or I’ll realize it’s a terrible book, and I have to find a way to tell you that without hurting your feelings. I don’t want to do either of these things!

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Wedding Thank-You Notes, Loaded Pistols, and The Good Silver

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Some stories just beg to be written down by me. I know it the instant I hear them. This is one of those. I’ve been pestering a friend to let me write this since I first heard the story a week ago. Usually, my stories only involve my adventures, but I didn’t have one thing to do with this one. I didn’t even know this woman back then. She was like this when I met her!

She took some persuading. She’s formidable, one of my favorite people in the world, highly intelligent, fearless, and fun. Without heels, she swears she’s 5’ 2” tall. At least two inches of that is a bold-faced lie. She’s a devotee of mystery novels and crime shows, and if I ever decide to really take somebody out, rather than merely threatening it, I’m hiring her. She’s a plotter. In fact, she often speaks in code when we talk on the phone because she’s convinced someone “out there” is listening. I’m confident no one cares enough about us to do that. Otherwise, someone would have already knocked on my door and dragged me away for an “interview” long ago.

I read recently that women are more likely than men to kill someone (usually a man) with poison. That didn’t surprise me. And, apparently, if the victim has been poisoned with arsenic, guess who the profilers look for? A Southern woman! That statistic set me back on my heels a little bit. I admit it. Still, I can’t say I’m shocked, exactly. If anyone deserves a slow and agonizing death, I know a few Southern women who could serve it up in a sweet potato soufflé so mouth-watering it would make death-by-arsenic a not-so-bad way to hit the pearly gates.

This particular Southern-woman-crime story began when my friend returned to her apartment after her wedding reception to retrieve her suitcase before heading out for a week of honeymoon bliss. That’s when she pushed open the door and walked into a mess of wedding gifts and packing boxes and discovered that thieves had ransacked her jewelry box. She spent her wedding night in tears over the loss of pieces of jewelry from her childhood.

Not being one to dwell on something she couldn’t do anything about, my friend headed off on her honeymoon but returned with a plan. Her husband reluctantly returned to work, which required out-of-town travelling, after making sure she had a good security system, complete with panic button.

My friend went one step further. She planted herself in a chair right in the middle of her dining table with a phone and her panic button. After all, she was recently wed, and she had a mountain of thank-you notes to write. She was not about to let a little thing like being-afraid-for-her-life stand in the way of getting those suckers out on time. So she added one additional security measure to her husband’s plan: she put a loaded pistol—pointed toward the front door—on the dining table, just to the left of her boxes of monogrammed stationery, to the right of her glass of iced tea, within easy reach, in case of another armed robbery. We Southern women pride ourselves on always being prepared for anything.

The moral of this story is: you don’t want to get between a Southern woman and a mountain of sterling silver wedding gifts, and you’d be wise to steer clear of her jewelry. We remember slights like that for generations.

While I was badgering her to let me write this story, I asked why she was reluctant to share, confident I could reassure her enough to get a green light to spill.

“Well . . . ” she finally admitted, “That gun is a family piece. It’s not technically mine. I’d hate for my mama to find out about that.”

She wasn’t afraid of an armed robber. She was, however, scared silly about what her mama might say about this story.

That’s how we roll, y’all.

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