Phantom Houseguest

June 29, 2012

 

A couple of weeks ago a dear friend mentioned that her dear friend’s son was in our fair city shooting a movie and that the hotel situation was not working out so well for him.  Before I could really ponder what I was saying I blurted out, “He can stay at our house!  We love having houseguests!”  Which we do.  So he did.  A few nights later, this dashing-twentysomething-Hollywood–golden-boy-gentleman-actor showed up at my house long after my husband and I had counted sheep for the evening.  Even in my deepest slumber, I was prepared for him.  I had left him notes, keys, flowers, black arrows pointing towards his room and, yes, a chocolate on his pillow.  The next morning I knocked on his door, with a fresh cup of coffee in my hand, to ask him to move his car so I could drive off into my day.  The young man was as polite and friendly as anyone a mother or child could hope to claim and, as it turns out (according to Google anyway), movie man’s girlfriend is the gorgeous and wholesome daughter of _____________, who is much loved and respected throughout the movie industry.   Golden Boy was horrified that he had inconvenienced me with his parking snafu.  We made quick work of this exchange, bid each other farewell and I told him I would see him later.  He told me that his shooting schedule was erratic, but that he would try not to wake us if he came in late.   How thoughtful is that?   Also, he was drop dead gorgeous.  Not that I generally notice such trivial details, but at some level such things just cannot be overlooked.  He delicately told us that his shooting schedule could go on for two to three weeks, but if that was a problem for us, he would make other arrangements.  How thoughtful!  What a doll!  As far as I was concerned, however, he could just move on in.  I didn’t even mind replacing the flowers, chocolates and linens daily.  And his personal laundry was no problem either, for I just collected it after he left for work, washed and folded it and placed it on his bed with a note…like a fairy godmother.  Easy breezy.   My husband rolled his eyes and rudely suggested that perhaps my attention to the young man was a “little over the top,” but what does he know?  I ignored his ungracious comments and focused on being a proper hostess.

Golden Boy’s presence was somewhat surreal for the next couple of weeks because I never saw the poor thing.  With his working so hard and all, he just wasn’t around much, but I was determined to make his stay comfortable and effortless.  Like an oasis in a desert.   Daily I changed out the flowers, chocolates, notes, linens and laundry, and if that meant I had to rearrange some of my usual responsibilities, so be it.  This poor child must be exhausted and his mother would be pleased that I was caring for him in such a conscientious manner.  All became routine until the pack of ten year old girls in the neighborhood discovered that he was in residence.  Not to criticize these little girls, but they became somewhat….well….obsessed with MY houseguest.  Interlopers.  So silly.  They wanted to leave him notes asking for his autograph and such.  Ah well.  Children will be children.  So silly, but I acquiesced and agreed to place their little notes on his bed during the day, right next to my own, so that he would see them when he returned at night.  As I suspected would happen, the next morning as I collected his laundry, I saw his written responses to the pre-teen pack.   He left each one her own note along with his autograph.   Additionally, he offered to collect autographs from other cast members.  His notes were appropriate and gentle as he carefully signed each one, “From, ___________.”  Not “Love, ___________,” or anything remotely inappropriate.  He answered their questions about his movie, gently telling them that it may be a little too scary for them right now.  Darn straight!  Although I abandoned my duties to him for a few days to visit with a girlfriend at the beach, my husband tells me that Golden Boy made it a point to welcome the little girls and one of their mothers onto the movie set for autographs, introductions and photo ops.   Oh.  How nice.  Uh.  Hmmmm.  I am so happy for them all.  Hmmm. I wonder if he will be there when I return.  Maybe I should cut this beach thing short.  The poor boy might be starving and filthy.  Actually, too much sun is not healthy anyway.

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Hair Devil

June 20, 2012

 

Beauty Parlors, or Hair Salons as we now call them, are clearly Satan’s workshop.  Vanity, vanity, vanity.  Gossip, gossip, gossip.  Mirrors everywhere!  And magazines full of new ideas for blowing your money on frivolous things, newer, improved methods of preserving your youth and your sexy body.  And guess what?? If you don’t have those things today, you can still have them tomorrow.  The magazines have names that allure, deceive, tempt and titillate.  Lucky!  Cosmopolitan!  Shape! Style!  Glamour!  People!  They are full of coupons for plastic surgery and justifications for buying a pair of overpriced shoes that,

A) hurt like hell -of course..hell again-and,

B) only go with one other item of clothing.

In theory, I am opposed to all things shallow, superficial and wasteful.  But, gee whiz gang, I just gotta admit that when beauty parlor day rolls around, I sort of get all worked up about it.  First of all, it is the one day that I really plan my outfit.  Why, you ask?   Isn’t that sort of like cleaning up the house so the maid won’t be horrified?   Please let me explain.  I do it because the place will be crawling with women looking at each other, checking out the wrappings so to speak.  They will be reviewing you from every angle and every mirror.  The irony of this is that they will be doing this with foil in their hair, strategically placed to keep the colors burning into your scalp even and smooth but, in reality, converting the place into a pseudo sci-fi transmission lab.  Really.  Unexpectedly, my poor husband kindly walked in one day to hand over keys or information or something like that and was nearly scared out of his wits when he saw me in my aluminum millinery, and another woman he knows well in her brackish stripes of eyebrow dye.  Think about it.  This was his very own Nightmare on Magnolia Street.  He sort of gasped when he saw me in such a state, and quickly turned away from me only to find woman #2 staring at him and snickering from underneath her Elvira brows.  Soon, there was a cacophony of satanic peals of laughter echoing throughout the hall of mirrors. All this as blasts of hot air were hitting him in the face from all directions. Poor guy.  No good deed goes unpunished right?  But isn’t that what Satan would want?  Well????  Isn’t it?  HA HA Ha Ha ha ha ha ha!

Husband and Wife

June 17, 2012

 

My husband Tom , who you know well by now, and I just returned from the most wonderful two day getaway with friends.  Our friends, who I will call Husband and Wife, invited us to Florida for a couple of days.  They had rented a beachfront condo, in which they would spend their two precious weeks of summer vacation.   Each of them works in a profession I consider to be full of stress.  Husband has a daily commute of about an hour each way, and Wife has job that never really leaves her cell phone (gotten love technology).  She works for a state university and her responsibility  is to assist scholar athletes in their academic endeavors.  You know, finding classes, discovering their gifts for career choices, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  You get the idea.  Day and night, her phone rings and rings, and she always answers it regardless of what, or who, is literally in front of her.  Her students are a priority…and apparently, her friends and family are too.   How does she do that?  So here’s the deal.  Husband and Wife decided that, instead of traveling to Italy this summer, they would rent a beachfront condo in Florida, and invite their friends for two or three day installments so that they could treat each one of them to a special pocket of time away from daily life.  Tom and I were honored to be on the list.  As the date of our arrival approached we kept asking Husband and Wife, “What can we bring? What can we do? “ The response was always the same.  “Just bring yourself!  Just come and have fun!” So we did.  Actually, at the last minute I did clip every herb available in my garden and pack them in damp paper towels and plastic (my dear mother would have breathed a sigh of relief), for I knew that Husband loves to cook, so…….

 

Anyway, we arrived on Thursday afternoon to find that they had carefully chosen the most beautiful unit with the most beautiful view.  Also, as we were ushered into our own little wing, we quickly noticed a vase that looked familiar (from H & W’s living room), filled with Zinnias that looked familiar (from H and W’s garden at home).  They had been strategically transported and placed in our bathroom of smoky granite, just to add a little warmth and grace to our stay.  At dinner time, Husband began summoning up curried gulf shrimp and ratatouille placed on table settings brought from their own dining room at home.    He chopped my home grown herbs with a fancy knife ushered from his drawer in his Louisiana kitchen, and veggies grown in the garden of his own back yard.  As I soaked in the entire weekend I began to ponder, what was really going on here?  Our dear friends had basically dedicated their own precious two weeks to their friends.  Not just us, but others as well and, for H and W, it was not sacrificial, it was simply what they wanted to do.  There were loved ones who came and went before us, dear ones who would visit after we departed, new friends thrown in here and there and, my guess is, all would receive the same royal treatment that had been doused upon us.  Each tender grouping would feel as though the entire affair had been conjured  for their precious companionship, and that was true.   Whether it was three women, other couples, or four oddly paired guests, each one would feel like a guest of honor.  Each person would feel as though they had just walked into a first class European hotel attended by a staff of many, except, that wasn’t the case.  It was purely the innate grace of Husband and Wife that made each person feel exceptional, and that folks, is a rare offering.    For, if the truth be told, I cannot say that I would be so selfless with my two week vacation.  I cannot say that it would even occur to me to rotate friends through my only private time with my spouse… at the beach.  However, these two generous souls did just that. Well, my goodness.  We are fortunate to claim them, for I have to confess that I probably would have chosen Venice instead.  In Venice someone else would have done the cooking and the flower arranging and the greeting.  But in Venice, the number of grateful friends would have been fewer.  So here’s to you, Husband and Wife.  You have taught me some valuable lessons.  Find joy through making others feel special.  Find contentment through brightening up the room of a friend.  Find peace through cooking a shrimp dish as others are watching and then …then my friends….all is well.

Making Groceries

June 13, 2012

 

Going to the grocery store is often a daily thing for me, for I do not like to store much food in my house.  I shop, cook/bake, we eat and I shop again.  Actually, I go to several different places for different things.  The big discount box store concept has lost its appeal in my world.  Yes, it is faster, and yes, my ego gets a huge boost just from glancing at some of the other shoppers, but still, it just rubs me raw to buy seasonal blueberries in the same place I fetch toilet paper.  Plus, the official grocery store( I will call it Big A) I frequent most often has a HUGE parking lot that makes me sad.  There is not one sprig of a tree gracing the place.  It is large enough to land a 747 in a pinch, and it is strangely hilly, for draining the swampland I suppose.  At certain times of the day (or night, actually), cars can be seen swirling around in disregard of the designated parking rows as though the place was a bumper car attraction at a two bit carnival.  No one cares.  No one stops me them from indulging in the thrill of a no-rules-concrete-playground for licensed adults.   And did I mention that there are multiple unsavory types lurking about at any given hour?  Well, there are.  But oddly, I keep going back anyway.  Because going to a different official grocery store would mean that I have to cross major intersections of traffic and, well, even in my little town, I just can’t do that on a daily basis.  So I keep going back to Big A.  Also, I like chatting it up with Shirletha, who usually works register #4. “Hi Ms. Anderson!  I like your hair.”  She doesn’t eye me suspiciously when I tell her that I brought my own bags either.  Some of the cashiers look at me as though I am speaking in tongues.  One cashier tried to talk me into taking her bags till I finally just blurted out, “No, I will just use my own, thanks!  That is the way we do it at home on Mars, so that is what I am used to.”  Ha ha ha ha.  That shut her up.  I think that she wasn’t really sure……..The good news is that this store recently started sporting  a baby fleet of  new pint sized double decker shopping carts that I just love.  They are made of some crazy lightweight futuristic material that doesn’t rust.  Imagine. No more navigating the old dinosaurs that are the size of 1978 Cadillacs and pump out the rhythms of the entire percussion section of a high school jazz combo.   You know the ones I am talking about.  Steering one of those bad boys from aisle 1A to 3B requires the concentration and muscle control of a WWII fighter pilot facing a controlled nosedive into the Pacific. So anyway, I avoid big grocery stores in lieu of my favorite farmers market, the dollar store and the seafood market.  I like to go where everybody knows my name and, in a pinch, they can even guess what I am cooking on that day.  Sometimes though, I miss Shirletha and the little techno-carts.  And sometimes, just a little bit, I miss the big parking lot.

Dumb Dee Dumb Dumb

June 7, 2012


The older I get, the more I am stumped by juxtaposed realities.  Maybe it is all that snobby education I received, but the more I learn, the stupider I get.  Does that make sense? A man I once knew, no less than an academic and musical genius, overheard me say that the more education I earned the more I realized how little I know.  His response was, “I have five degrees.  Just think how stupid I feel.”  Hmmmm.  So is it simply that all those years of classes, study and research make a person realize how infinite the pool of knowledge out there really is?  It would be impossible to conquer it all, so I will just have to accept the fact that my teeny mind and I really are less than a spec in the big picture.  These days, I am just happy and damn proud! if I can figure out how to operate my phone.  It is frustrating to sit in a meeting full of young bucks that communicate effortlessly in a world of invisible waves and wireless whatever, while I struggle with my one gadget like a pig staring at a wristwatch.  True.  My fingers feel too big and clumsy for the screen.  I cannot do anything at all with my phone unless my mouth is open and my tongue is sticking out.  Even then, the stress level is unrivaled.  Alone in my own house, I am embarrassed at my own incompetence.  At one recent board meeting I attended, I suggested that in the future, because I live so far outside of the city, I join the group via Skype.  I was so proud of myself and just knew that they were all equally impressed.  And for the record, yes, I do Skype with friends and family all the time. Jeez.   It wasn’t easy to master, but now, well now…..The response I got was first silence, then the gorgeous thirtysomething  President of the Board  initially confirmed my  brilliance  by saying, “Sure. Why not? (Pause)  Or better yet we can Facetime.  You have Facetime, right?  Don’t you have an iphone?  Do you have the app?  That works right?”  Uh…. rrrriiiggghhht.  Great.

What I want to know is why we ever stopped using smoke signals in the first place.  Or, for that matter, cups and strings.  Worked fine if you ask me.  Wow.  So, of all the knowledge and skills I have gleaned in my life, apparently the only two that a absolutes I have garnered are these.

 

  1.  People, who like for their world to be really, really small, also like for their hotels and theme parks to be really, really big.

 

  1. If you start crying from chopping onions, it helps if you go stick your head in the freezer.

 

Good enough for me. Today anyway.  Tomorrow, I will play with my new Facetime app.