I don’t like shopping. There. I said it. I am a horrid decision maker. I get overwhelmed easily. Plus, I worked in sales for so many years that I can feel your pitch coming through your eyeballs before you even start sauntering in my direction. Odds are, if I enjoyed controversy, I could point out who authored that sales training manual and where you messed up on the verbiage. Wait – are you trying the old proof based selling concept on me? Yeah, sorry, but I don’t care that it’s the customers that rate this gizmo as number one, not you. Did your company pay beaucoup dollars to send you to the seminar where they told you testimonials were the key to win you that top salesperson trip to Cancun this year? Don’t pack your sombrero just yet. But, these are all internal thoughts that whip through my brain faster than a Vitamix blender on high speed. I don’t actually say them. I was once a scared little rabbit of a salesperson, see. I remember the stomach ulcers from not hitting goals, the write ups given both to me and by me, the lack of commission on my check. I pity buy. And, if you can make me laugh, it’s cha-ching time, because the world just needs more laughter. Still, shopping stinks, especially in the world of expensive, big-ticket items. Take mattresses, for instance. After all, if you want to hit a girl where it hurts, mess up her sleep.
B Dear Aunt B, I am a procrastinator. It has always worked out, but it is getting more stressful over time. Got any advice for breaking a long held bad habit?
Big box retailers are ubiquitous. The appeal of such stores' extensive inventory is undeniable, and consumers like the comfort of knowing they can stop into a big box store anywhere on the map and feel a sense of familiarity with their surroundings.
A tornado watch is not the same as a tornado warning.
“If Jesus came with me to school, I would respect him and everyone else, too. I would not hit, would not call people names, and I would not or push,” says Michael, age 6.
Bedraggled. That was the best description for him. He reeked. Once you became accustomed to the smell, there were the concerning wounds. Scab here, scab there. Cuts aplenty. I zoned in on his left ear. “What happened to your face, bud?” No answer. Mentally, I was having a full-on conversation with my maternal grandmother, dead for going on 28 years, as I recollect. That’s what I do. I have intense conversations with people who aren’t here anymore. [Lucille (my grandmother): Shame you don’t have any Smith’s lip cream to pack those cuts. It’s antibacterial and the lidocaine numbs anything. Me: Seriously? It would be disgusting! Smith’s Pharmacy shut down over 30 years ago. Her: the lip cream lasts forever. Me: I disagree, but that’s beside the point since I don’t have any, Grandma.] That’s how these talks typically go. It’s friendly banter. She tells me what I know to be true but can’t admit. I spar back with her on the ridiculousness of correct yet worthless knowledge. There is no lip cream for his wounds. I turn my attention back to the gentleman in question. Once he was dapper. I see that now. I study him and mentally melt the last years of hard times and insult off him. I can imagine the twinkle his eyes once held, the prance in his step. He had been a dandy fellow. I open my mouth to say something. I can tell his attention is elsewhere, and I am concerned he will turn and walk away from me before I can figure out a next best plan. A plan is not enough. Yet, sometimes in life, that’s all you have, another move. You just break it down into a series of a single right decision backed up by another single right decision. It’s my secret to life, anyway. That’s when I heard it. He had a partner. Just as I was fearful of a bait and attack scenario, she stepped out from the shadows. While he was a stranger to me, she was another story. I had seen her before, many times. My grandmother chimed in again. “I could have told you she was his kind. You’d be best to watch your back. They’re good for nothins, the two of them.” The companion was in better shape. But, she wasn’t alone. This is not a story about me being a good Samaritan to a couple of ne’er do wells I encountered on the streets of some metropolitan city. I was not accosted by a couple meaning ill will toward my person. This is the story of how I wound up with a litter of feral kittens in my guest bath. The once dandy fellow goes by Puff Daddy or Bowser now, depending on which grandchild is looking out of the window. Momma cat is Peach. They are the proud parents of 6 tiny, feral kittens who would soon succumb to the record-breaking Texas heat, if they didn’t first become bobcat appetizers. What do you do if you’re a stray cat in downtown Forney with a problem? Easy. You come to me.
B Dear Aunt B, I am about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. I have not traveled much at all. Do you have any tips that might make this trip even more delightful?
“What about her?” I said. “She could work, I think.” My husband somewhat agreed, but not wholeheartedly. “Maybe,” was his response. He didn’t think a blonde fit the bill. I retorted, “Oh honey, come on. She’s clearly a brunette who went a little crazy with the highlights.” He remained unconvinced. So, we tabled the conversation and turned, instead, to the topic of afternoon plans. Here we were, in downtown Boise, Idaho, with nothing but crispy cool June nights and 80-degree days dropping at our feet like diamonds. Should we see a movie at the Egyptian Theater? Go shopping? Grab a picnic and head back toward Boise River? Just then, as we crossed the street from the Rose Garden and strode past the Black History Museum we’d toured earlier, it popped up like a pepperoni oasis in the Sahara. “The Wylder!” I exclaimed! My husband, who rarely pays complete attention to what I’m saying (can’t blame him with the amount of excess talking I tend to do) was confused. “What’s that?” I explained that it was the uber popular, fancy pizza restaurant everyone had told us to try. Beeline made. One tiny table, the best pizza in the history of time, & 2 glasses of very dry rosé later, he spotted the candidate. “Found her. 3 o’clock. Act like you have a crick in your neck.” He was right, as usual. He always wins at this odd little game we play. A new hostess was in place for the afternoon into evening crowd. She was perfect: round face, dimple, long dark hair, brown eyes, rather tall. Don’t worry. We aren’t kidnappers or talent scouts. We’re just two people who like to pick out who could’ve been our daughter, had things gone very differently all those years ago.
“I would ask him for all the answers. I would buy him lunch,” says Bobby, age 7.
I had my first panic attack when I was around 15, a little over 40 years ago. Fortunately for me, I’ve had very few since. Unfortunately for me, at that moment, I was standing on a stage. Picture 80s me with 80s hair in an 80s home sewn taffeta tea length “gown” in a beauty pageant inside a hotel ballroom near the World Trade Center. A beloved high school teacher approached me, months prior to that pivotal, panicky moment, telling me she’d heard about an upcoming pageant, err scholarship program, with the reigning Miss Texas as a judge. She thought I should enter. See, I was a pretty smart kid until it was time to talk in public. Crowds weren’t my thing – still aren’t. This teacher had pushed me as far as she could. She wondered if facing fears straight on would cure me of my phobia. It would be good for me, yes? That is how I found myself inexplicably culled from 200 to top 50, then down to 25. I was elated! Why, this was a dream come true. Yet, backstage in this ballroom, where a huge disco ball hung over the audience, I was lined up with 25 other similarly aged girls I did not know. Some of them had done this same pageant for consecutive years. A few of them had their own hair and makeup people. Not a soul spoke to me backstage, nor did I approach anyone. I felt out of my league. What was a country bumpkin doing here in the first place? A director woman wearing a headset was making the rounds. “Talent is next,” she barked at us. “Get your costumes on, ladies!” The words choked in my throat, but I forced out a whisper loud enough for her to realize, as our eyes met, that I was desperately seeking information. “What do I wear?” I croaked. “What’s your talent?” she spat within an inch of my face. “I’m giving a speech?” I softly bemoaned. She responded, “You think you’re giving a speech, or you know?” I stammered. She directed me, as directors do, to just wear what I had on. Minutes later, the others returned. Dancers were in leotards and sequins. Singers were in snazzy casual outfits. Piano players were in dramatic ball gowns. But the girl holding court at the front of the line, the 4-year Dallas Miss Teen Pageant veteran contestant, who looked exactly like Phoebe Cates (yo, 80s kids), was in full theatrical mode. Shabby dress, apron, hair kerchief, broom – I hadn’t been to many theaters in my life, but apparently, she had. She was slated to sing Matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof. This was not going to end well for me. In that moment, as the Phoebe doppelganger was running vocal scales and the dancers were all practicing their choreography, I realized that I was about to vomit. At least, I hoped it was vomit. The other expulsion option would be far worse. Moments later, my name was called. Did she vomit? Did she make it to a trashcan? More on that later.
“Not following directions,” says Lyle, 5.
Dear Aunt B Readers, So, last week I was asked this question: “I want to be anywhere but home. What is wrong with me? How do I fix this?
“My grandma reminds me of the love of God because every time she comes to my house she brings me a present, or she takes me out to buy something for me,” says Will, 8. “She likes to go out to eat. We play basketball. We have fun. She throws a football, too.”