One of the story arcs on a recent episode of Modern Family had Jay finding out, years after the fact, that his hole-in-one on the local golf course, a feat of which he was enormously proud, had received a little help from his then 14-year-old son. Naturally, he was quite upset with this revelation, and I was reminded of my mother's perfect bridge hand.
When I was growing up in Houston in the 70's, my parents belonged to a neighborhood bridge club. The ladies played most Wednesday nights and once a month, it was someone's turn to host "big bridge" for everyone. Big bridge was a Saturday night blowout consisting of six or seven tables, depending on attendance, and lots of food and booze.
I know nothing about the game. My father tried to teach me one time, but my brain proved impermeable to his patient explanations of tricks and trumps. I Googled "perfect bridge hand" (when in doubt, Google), and for once, the search engine failed me. A couple of sites were full of mathematical formulas for determining probability, and I am someone who is in over her head on long division. Another site said a perfect hand produces 13 tricks, while still another said 7 no trump. Most sites claimed a truly perfect hand is considered to be all 13 spades, but the odds of getting this is one in over 635 billion. Someone calculated that if 10 million players dealt 20 hands everyday, it would take 8 years, 8 months and 1 week to produce a random deal of 13 spades. That someone sure has a lot of time on their hands, pun intended. My mother's hand, as best as I can remember, had all the aces, kings, queens and one jack.
Mom, when she realized what she was holding, couldn't contain her excitement and jumped up, showing her cards to everyone in the room. At the end of the night, the hostess gave her the deck from which her perfect hand had been dealt. A couple of weeks later, that perfect hand was perfectly fanned and mounted on moss green velvet and perfectly framed in a shadow box with a small brass plaque. The plaque had my mother's name perfectly engraved along with the date. She proudly hung the shadow box in the den where people couldn't help but see it and comment on it. Years later, when we moved my parents to the Dallas area in 2006, the little shadow box came with them and was given a place of honor in their new apartment.
2008 was a milestone year. My parents' 60th anniversary was in May, my dad's 90th birthday in June. (It was also the year I turned 50, but that is beside the point.) Since my father's health was poor and he was "up there", I made plans to throw a family reunion and invited all the in-laws and out-laws and kissin' cousins to Texas to celebrate these dual achievements. I purposely did not invite their many friends because I wanted to keep the focus on family, and also because I didn't want to overwhelm my parents with too many people. Still, it was important to include them somehow and so, I decided I would make a memory book. I emailed and snail mailed as many people as I could think of, requesting cards, photographs, and letters from friends, neighbors and my father's closest business associates. Most people were generous with the reminisces and copies of old photos, and it was quite a trip reading them and looking at the pictures. It was quite another trip trying my hand at scrapbooking; I suck at anything that smacks of arts and crafts.
One of the old Houston neighbors I tracked down, Ron, typed up a really nice letter that ran for several pages and included a bombshell. He prefaced this bombshell by saying he had a confession to make, something that had been bothering him for years. Don't ask me how or why, but my mind immediately flashed to that little shadow box on the wall and I knew, before I even read what he had to say, that the bridge hand nestled on the moss green velvet wasn't so perfect after all.
It seems that Ron and another man in that long ago club, Tony, hatched a scheme to deal my mother, who was playing at their table, a perfect hand. During a lull in play (meaning a run on the bar), the two of them doctored the deck in such a way that every card dealt to my mother was an honor card (ace, king, queen or jack). Even the customary cut that's supposed to cancel out cheating didn't mess up the sequence. They only meant it as a silly joke; they thought they'd have a quick laugh, 'fess up like a couple of misbehaving schoolboys, and move on. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, the joke got away from them. They didn't count on my mother immediately jumping up and showing off her prize to everyone in the room, they hadn't counted on her being so excited and so happy. They just didn't have the heart to tell her the truth and bust her bubble.
I was faced with a dilemma. Do I doctor the letter, much as Ron and Tony doctored the deck all those years ago, and remove all references to the joke? It would have been very easy to do. Or do I leave it as is? I shimmied back and forth on this for a couple of days and finally decided that, no, it wasn't my place to edit the letter and besides, it was so many years ago, what was the harm in it? As it turned out, I woefully miscalculated my mother's emotional investment in that now tainted bridge hand.
As far as I was concerned, the "confession" just made for a richer back story and I said as much, but my parents weren't buying it. My father, always fiercely protective of his two girls, didn't like his wife being the butt of a practical joke. He used a few choice words, "jackasses" being quite prominent. He said he always wondered how legitimate the deal had been, especially with Ron and Tony at the table that night. But, like Ron and Tony, when faced with my mother's happiness, he didn't want to ruin it for her, either, despite his misgivings. In some ways, that made my father a player in their conspiracy.
For her part, I suspect my mother felt she had been played for a fool and that everyone in the club had been yukking it up behind her back for years. She was so upset, she threw the shadow box in the trash. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about this until it was too late to save it, or I would have gladly found a place for it in my home.
Hindsight being 20/20, if I could do it over again, I would let stacked decks lie.
For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about my old elementary school in Atlanta, GA. It was called R. L. Hope. I started kindergarten there in November, 1963.
Actually, my public school career had its start in Toledo, OH. I barely remember this school because my father was transferred to Atlanta a few weeks into my kinder year. We moved into our house on Canter Road, NE on the day President Kennedy was assassinated in the far away city of Dallas where, weirdly enough, I now live. On that tragic day, while my mother and father and I were busy moving IN, my future husband and his family were in downtown Dallas getting vaccinated for their big move OUT across the pond to Africa. They did not see the motorcade, but they heard the sirens.
Anyhoots, as I mentioned, I woke up thinking about my old school and decided to Google it. One thing led to another and I stumbled on a Facebook group for former students of R. L. Hope. I find Google useful for lots of things, but this time it outdid itself; it morphed into a time machine and whisked me away to the 1960's.
The reminisces posted on the "wall" had me nodding like a bobblehead doll. I remember that! And that! And that! Me too! There were lots of class pictures, but none with me in them. I was a little disappointed not to find my six or seven-year-old self smiling in all my gap-toothed glory at the camera, but it was fun seeing and remembering my classmates. (Update: see very bottom of this blog.) Some faces I recognized instantly, while others didn't ring any bells at all. Considering that I didn't exactly grow up with these kids, that is, graduate high school with them...shoot, I didn't even finish out elementary school with them...it was very gratifying to see that some of the people in this Facebook group remembered me. I attribute part of that to having a maiden surname that sticks with people, the rest to my charming nature.
I'm no expert in architecture, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the school was built in the 1920's. Unfortunately, it is no longer there, a victim to the Buckhead building boom (say that three times fast) that took place after my family moved away. However, I vividly remember the interior and the enormous playground.
R. L. Hope was definitely the most inefficiently built school ever in terms of space. The classrooms were huge with separate cloakrooms that ran the width of each room and accessible through a door. The halls were wide, the ceilings high, and the staircases long and steep. It must have cost a fortune, even by the prices of 50 years ago, to heat the place in winter. In the very back there was a much newer, brighter addition called the annex where I spent first grade, but all in all, R. L. Hope School was kind of dark and dreary...an Old South version of Hogwarts without the dungeons. That being said, I loved the place, my teachers, and had lots of friends. In the left-hand photo above, the little girl sitting in the second row, third from the right was my best friend, and we are still in touch to this day. Our friendship goes all the way back to kindergarten. You know you are getting old when you can put a half-century on events in your life.
I have a long scar on my left leg that reminds me of my tenure at R. L. Hope. It starts just below the knee and peters out to mid-shin. On the playground was a huge wooden box that was used to store the tricycles for the kinder set. The box stood against a stone retaining wall that separated the playground from the adjoining property. Between the wall and the box, somebody had placed left over sections of the metal fence that enclosed the playground. The posts on the fence sections had triangular spikes sticking out, not really sure why that was necessary, but us kids used those spikes as footholds to climb up the fence sections to gain access to the top of the box. Then we'd jump down. And go back up. And jump down again. Up and down, over and over. What can I say? We were little squirts with lots of pent up energy and iPhones hadn't been invented yet. Anyway, one afternoon during recess, I was in the middle of this mindless loop when I accidentally dragged my leg up against one of those sharp spikes. It made a heck of a bloody mess, but it must have looked worse than it really was. I hobbled to the office where Miss Roberts, the assistant principal, who also doubled as the school nurse, cleaned me up, pasted a bandage on my leg and tersely told me to go back to class. Because I was expected to suck it up, nobody called my mother. Nobody removed the fencing, either, and I was soon climbing it again, obviously none the wiser. Can you see that happening in this day and age?
Judging from the Facebook posts, the most popular teacher at R. L. Hope was Mrs. Condrey. She taught third grade and was definitely my favorite teacher, with Miss McLaughlin, from fifth grade, a very close second. Miss McLaughlin's last name was awkward for her students to pronounce; even all these years later, it doesn't exactly roll off my adult tongue, so she was, and always will be, Miss McGlocklin.
Mrs. Condrey must have had a fine arts background, or maybe, like us, she just liked frequent breaks from math and spelling, because her classes enjoyed some really ambitious art projects. The biggest was making a life-sized papier mache animal. The year I was in her class, we constructed a lion. The custodian dragged a sawhorse into the classroom and one afternoon, decked out in cast-off men's dress shirts to protect our clothes, we lined up and one by one slapped dripping wet strips of newspaper soaked in flour paste on the sawhorse. Slowly, under our teacher's direction, the parts took shape until it looked like an ugly, bald cat. We painted it with bright orange and purple stripes and added a purple mane made of strips of crepe paper, with a crepe paper tuft at the end of the tail. It was a cross between a lion and a tiger (a liger?), but it was all lion as far as we were concerned. We named our creation Leo, and we even had a little song we made up to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star":
Leo, Leo are you there?
Under all that purple hair?
We love you and we think you're neat (sweet?),
And we're glad that you don't eat.
Leo, Leo standing there,
You don't even have a care.
Sadly, Mrs. Condrey's son was killed in Vietnam when I was in the fourth grade. I was sent to play with a classmate (who's pictured above, top row, third from left) while my parents attended the service. His body and those of his crew were never recovered.
A Big P. S.
Finally! Someone posted my first grade class on Facebook. There I am, top row, second from the left. My husband said I looked fat, but it was the petticoat under the dress. You can see my old-fashioned, but for that time cutting-edge, hearing aid sticking out of my left ear (see blog dated 02/15/2013).
My husband is hosting his poker group tonight, so...a little of this and a little of that:
It's a good bet I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel when I start a blog with "a little of this and a little of that". Either my life is more mundane than usual, or I just don't have the wit to write a lengthy blog on one subject. Probably both.
Paige slammed her hand in the door and broke her pinky finger, see picture above. Apparently, in the rush to teach her all the things mothers are supposed to teach their offspring like 1) there is no such thing as a five second rule, or 2) don't use your brother's toothbrush on the dog, I failed to tell her to remove her hand from the door jamb before slamming the door shut. Nor, it seems, did I do a good job clarifying what I meant by splinting her finger. When she texted me that picture, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
I knew I was going to kick myself for getting on Facebook. I resisted the temptation for years and then, when I succumb in a moment of weakness, Zuckerberg and Company decide to launch Timeline. I didn't have a chance to figure out how the old Facebook worked before getting slapped with this new version.
I sent an email to New Jersey governor Chris Christie protesting his decision to honor the late Whitney Houston by flying the flags at half-staff. This gives a whole new meaning to the term "lowering the bar". If this keeps up, then the passing of an American president or a soldier's ultimate sacrifice will soon be meaningless. What a repugnant move on the part of the governor. It's been a long while since I've been so riled up over something in the news. I think Octomom's litter was the last time I had a hankering to hit somebody.
Who the hell names their kid Chris Christie?
In the wake of recent stories about UPS and FedEx package drivers who need anger management classes; yesterday, I received a package for my older son that looked like it had been in a wrestling match between a couple of grizzly bears. Because he travels so much with his job, Mitch arranged to have the merchandise delivered to the house instead of his apartment. This was his polite way of saying, "Because you have a boring life, you are always home and don't get to do the kinds of exciting things I get to do". It turned out to be some clothes, nothing breakable, but just how in the heck the box wound up in that condition is beyond me. Later, when I went to dump the emptied box in the trash, I found Phoebe curled up inside it taking a nap. What is it with cats and boxes?
The mayflies are back. I don't know why they are called mayflies. Februaryflies would be more apt. They look like mosquitoes on steroids, but they don't bite or sting. Their sole purpose in life is to annoy the hell out of people whose homes they fly into. For several weeks, you can't escape them and then, all of a sudden, Poof! they are gone, much like Richard's money when he plays poker.
Since when did it become necessary to answer so many questions while going through the grocery store check-out line? Paper or plastic? Do you have a courtesy card? Would you like to apply for a store credit card and get 10% off? Were you able to find everything all right? (Is it just me, or is this a dumb question to ask at the end of the shopping trip?) Would you like to donate a dollar to psoriasis awareness? Do you need help taking your purchases to your car? Sometimes, even the little electronic doo-dad I scan my card through gets in on the action to inquire if I want it all on the card? I'm not sure what it is asking me. Do I get to pick the items I want to pay for and get the rest for free? I loathe shopping and by the time I get to the check-out line, my only goal in life is to get home, and how's that going to happen when I'm in jail charged with choking the clerk in a moment of insanity?
Luby's used to be a really good place to eat. It was cheap, the food was good, not great, but good, and the portions ample. Then they had to go and fix what wasn't broken. They brought in a waitstaff whose job, it appears, is to say hello and bring you the ketchup if you request it. Of course, they are working for a tip, but I refuse to tip them, and why should I? I stood in line. I pushed my tray. I put my drink together: glass, ice, tea, lemon. I carried said tray to the table and I unloaded it. In short, I did all the work. (When my mother is with me, I do the work for two.) They should be tipping me. Is it just a coincidence or did the prices dramatically go up when they hired the ketchup staff?
While waiting to get my mother's drug stash refilled at my local Walgreen's pharmacy the other day, I noticed they have the most asinine security set-up ever. There's a long, open check-out bay with a couple of cash registers on a counter that comes about hip-high on me. Immediately to the left of this open area is a steel door with reinforced glass and the kind of digital door lock employees use to punch in the super secret entry code, like 1-2-3-4. Really, they think some hopped-up addict jonesing for a fix and toting a gun is going to try to hack his way through the security door, when there's a counter he can vault over? All I can say is, if he does manage to get the door open, I hope he remembers to remove his hand from the jamb before slamming it shut.
I was stalking my daughter's Facebook the other day and came across this picture she took last year of her senior prom invite, or the Ask, as the kids call it. You don't see them in the photo, but there were dozens of blown up beach balls covering every square inch of her bedroom floor, the bed, and her closet. I don't know if John did the lung work by himself, or if he had help from friends, but I hope he had help. Otherwise, he would have come seriously close to passing out from hyperventilation. I know this from personal experience trying to inflate air mattresses, swimming pool toys, and balloons for kiddie parties. Anyway, that photo is what prompted me to write this blog.
These days, asking a girl to a school dance can rival the biggest Ask of any red-blooded male's life, to wit: requesting the hand of the woman he loves. What used to be a simple phone call in my day has morphed into a major deal that can require much planning, organization, and sometimes a cast of tens.
Some do what amounts to the oldest trick in the book: they get white shoe polish and invite their date to the dance by writing the invitation all over her car windows. Girls who get Asked in this manner, I'm told, are looked down on by their peers because their dates didn't care enough to put any real effort into the Ask. Other guys strive to keep it simple with a few roses, a teddy bear or maybe a box of chocolates. I know of one boy who Asked his date to homecoming with a platter of sushi, her favorite, arranged to say HC?.
Obviously, the more complicated/expensive/daring/creative the Ask, the harder the boy is going to fall if his intended rejects his invitation. But he can typically get around this obstacle by finding out first if the girl is even interested in going with him. Usually, he'll broach the subject with the girl's BFF. If he gets the green light, he'll proceed with his plans, fairly secure that he won't get shot down. You really have to feel sorry for guys these days.
The photo above was taken at a pep rally the fall of my daughter's junior year. Her boyfriend at the time, one of the senior football captains, Asked her to homecoming in front of the entire school. He's the one carrying the blue question mark. It was certainly one of the highlights of her high school years, and something she will never forget. Several months later, things ended badly between them, opening the way to what was the most surprising, and probably ballsy, Ask ever.
The break up occurred just weeks before the 2010 senior prom. When the dust had settled a bit and the two of them were able to speak civilly to each other again, it was agreed that they would attend prom as planned, but as friends.
One night, less than three weeks before prom, Richard and I were settled comfortably in the den watching television, when the door bell rang. Richard answered the bell, hollered at Paige to come to the door, and returned to the den with a funny look on his face. When I asked who it was, he inclined his head in the general direction of the door and told me to go peek for myself.
Paige was standing there talking with someone I couldn't see, but as I got closer and the angle got better, I was able to make out a pair feet, the rest of the body obscured by the biggest bunch of helium balloons I had ever seen, no hyperventilation problems there. Getting closer, I saw that one of the balloons was actually somebody's head, a young man she was very good friends with and a senior at her school. I said a quick hello, suggested that she invite Connor into the house, and raced back to the den, burning with curiosity. Richard, who could hear snatches of the conversation from the doorway, said it sounded like Connor was asking our daughter to prom. He got this impression from hearing her say, "Oh, my God...are you asking me to prom?" I immediately felt terrible for Connor, knowing he was going to get turned down since she had an understanding with the ex-BF.
Some 40 minutes later, Paige walked into the den looking bemused. Still feeling horrible for the young man, I said, "I hope you turned him down gently." She shocked us both by replying, "I haven't turned him down."
"But I thought you had an understanding with Mason."
"Are you seriously considering ditching one for the other?"
"Who would you rather go with?"
She didn't even hesitate. "Connor."
At this point, my husband mumbled, "I'm outta here", and dashed for the safety of the bedroom. Chicken.
To make a long story short, Connor had swept her off her feet. He had just broken up with his GF, someone he had dated for well over a year. He wanted to take Paige to prom and despite the odds and extremely short notice, he was determined to try. What girl can resist the grand gesture? As she put it, "He really wants to take me. Mason and I are just going to be going." I encouraged her to sleep on it, pointing out that she might feel differently in the morning. Instead, she made up her mind that night and texted Connor to tell him she would go to prom with him. Immediately, I felt horrible for Mason.
I don't condone my daughter's actions. Regardless of the problems between her and her ex, she did have an understanding with him. In case you are wondering, Mason was able to find a date. When one is a varsity football captain and varsity baseball captain, it's easy to find girls.
With prom season looming, maybe I will write a future blog with suggestions and ideas for that all-important Ask. Consider it a public service for beleaguered boys everywhere.
When I was growing up we didn't have TV.
No, I'm not THAT old. And yes, we had other amenities like electricity and running water. Our lack of TV was a choice, a decision my parents made without my knowledge or consent. It was supposed to be an "experiment", but personally, I think my dad was just cheap.
In the spring of 1969, the company my father worked for moved us from Atlanta to Houston. Either the move was too rough on its delicate circuitry, or maybe it didn't like the Houston heat and humidity, but our black and white Zenith portable with its rabbit ears fizzled out shortly after being installed in our brand new house.
My father made a stab at fixing it. First, he swiveled the rabbit ears and banged his fist on the top and sides a few times. Then he opened the back and peered fixedly at the innards. When nothing worked, no surprise there, that was when my parents decreed we would be television free. The Zenith was rudely shoved into the downstairs closet, like a bad puppy thrown outside for piddling on the rug, and there it sulked for 37 years until we hauled it out and tossed it with all the other junk prior to moving my parents to Dallas.
Fortunately, I was one of those nerdy kids who loved to read, so it was just a matter of loading up on the books to keep my mind off the antics of Dudley Do-Right and Gomer Pyle.
Despite the television ban in our house, I got a fairly regular diet of TV, thanks to friends whose parents hadn't catapulted them back to the stone age. I watched Dark Shadows most afternoons next door, and each week wondered what was keeping the rest of the Brady kids from beating the crap out of Jan. Our across-the-street neighbors, who were my parents' best friends, would invite us over whenever there was some kind of breaking news event like moon landings, presidential resignations and Super Bowls.
My freshman year of high school, my English teacher, Mr. McClain, who looked like Glee's Mr. Schuester and was the object of hordes of adolescent female lust, assigned an essay that required watching something on television one night, I can't remember now what it was. It was a shot in the dark, but I impulsively raised my hand and asked, "What if you don't have a TV?" I completely expected him to tell me to arrange to watch the program at a friend's house, or even assign an alternate essay, which would have been the sensible thing to do. Instead, he was so impressed that my family was crippling by without television, he awarded me an automatic "A" on the spot and gave me the night off. I was persona non grata with my classmates for a couple of days, but the Mr. McClain Fan Club got itself another member in me.
It wasn't until after they married me off (of course!) that my parents caved in and bought another TV, a big color console. What had started as an "experiment" to see if we could live without the boob tube finally came to an end 11 years later. I suppose that qualifies as a rousing success.
To Mr. Fred McClain, 9th grade Major Works English, G. C. Scarborough Jr. - Sr. High School, here's your essay 40 years late.
I confess --- I have a secret vice. It's not drugs or alcohol or expensive shoes. You won't find me trying to sneak a cigarette or furtively gambling in Vegas. No illicit affairs. My vice is Gossip Girl.
I glommed onto this show out of sheer boredom. A couple of years ago during one of my periodic exercise/healthy eating/eight glasses of water daily binges, I needed something to occupy my brain while working out on the elliptical trainer; otherwise, said brain is too busy finding excuses to sabotage the workout. My daughter had the first full season of a show called Gossip Girl on DVD, so I decided what the heck, I'd watch it while I worked up a sweat. By the end of the first episode, I was hooked, so help me.
Before Gossip Girl, the closest I had ever come to watching a soap opera of any kind was to find out who shot J. R. in 1980. My mother was a big fan of As the World Turns, and I had plenty of friends who sighed and swooned over Luke and Laura's romance on General Hospital. I felt I was superior because I was immune to these cheesy adult dramas, and herein lies the sad thing about my addiction: while others watch adults plot and connive week after week, I watch teenagers.
Granted, these are not your ordinary teens. Their scheming and lying would make ol' J. R. proud. They are filthy rich and ridiculously good-looking. Their wardrobes take up whole rooms and their credit cards are never maxed out. They can charter a private jet as easily as the rest of us can hail a taxi. Most of the parents are conveniently absent, and the few who do hover around are too caught up in their own problems to pay much attention to their offspring.
Their shenanigans are chronicled in minute detail for the shocked enjoyment of the hoi polloi and hoity-toity alike on a website called Gossip Girl. No one knows Gossip Girl's true identity and it's everyone's ambition to find her and take her down. But at the same time, they can't function without her. She narrates the show and at the end of every episode, she signs off with, "You know you love me. XOXO..."
I can't explain my fascination with this show. My husband refuses to watch it, as any sensible person would do, and even my daughter, whose age puts her squarely within the show's targeted demographic, gave up on it long ago. A friend suggested that perhaps I am going through a mid-life crisis. If that's true, then luckily for my husband, I sure do aim low and settle for very little.
P.S. Sorry honey...that last sentence didn't come out quite right. You know I love you!
I get a kick out of reading the comments people post on the Interwebs. They range from rotflmao funny to infuriating; from well-thought-out to I'm-embarrassed-for-you.
My husband and I don't like being force fed the stories the FOX or CNN pundits think we should digest, so unless there is something truly riveting going on, like someone seeing the Virgin Mary in their limburger, we prefer to pick and choose our current events online. For me, the comments at the bottom of the articles are an added bonus.
Sometimes reading these comments makes me despair, to the point of feeling guilty, that I brought innocent children into this world. The spew of hatred and bigotry is bad enough, but what really makes me cringe is the shocking number of commentators who cant spel, dont know no grammer and! have, never herd? "of punktooashun?). Other times it is gratifying to see how united we are given the fractures of politics, religion and race.
Typically, the more offbeat the news is, the more entertaining the comments are likely to be; or, if you want to get all scientific-like about it: the entertainment factor is directly proportional to the whackadoodleness of the news. Being blessed (or cursed, depends on your perspective) with a warped sense of humor, I'm drawn to the offbeat and weird, anyway.
Today, the Interwebs was agoogle over a woman who got herself tased (tasered?) at a McDonald's drive-thru. According to reports, she cut in front of the line by bypassing the order station and the first window where payments are made. When restaurant employees declined to serve her and requested that she go to the back of the line, the woman refused to move and blocked the drive-thru for 20 minutes until the police arrived. She was described as "defiant" and "threatening" to law enforcement. The sad part is her young daughter was with her and apparently witnessed her mother getting tased and "flopping like a fish" out of the car. Below is a sampling of some of the hundreds of comments left by readers:
Billions and billions served and 1 not.
I cannot wait to see what Jack in the Box does with this in their next commercial.
I'm loving it!
You want FRIED wit dat?
I hope the judge super sizes her sentence.
Show no taste and that's what you get.
There was another story about a young man who decided to give up all electronic communication for 90 days: email, Facebook, Twitter, texting, even his cell phone. He called it The Amish Project. Here's one comment on that story written exactly as it appeared, comma for comma:
i am glad i lived thru the good old days,i had no clue that people are so emty inside ,and think that everyone wants to know that they are shopping at publix ,or what they are wearing ,and gossip ,i even see them texting at church service,so sad no one interacts with one another anymore ,i have friends like that ,you go to dinner there texting under the table,to let them know where there at,take those cellphone from them ,and the psychiatrists offices would be booming,dont you agree ? well if you are in your teens you wont agree.................
The above is just plain scary, but it still amused me that the writer could spell psychiatrists correctly....don't you agree?
Unfortunately, my daughter and her college roommate got a divorce. I was sorry it happened, but not too surprised.
In the middle of moving practically every blessed thing my mini-me owns into that tiny dorm room back in August, Ashley, the roommate, called her from the road and asked point blank if she snored. ("Ummm...I don't think so.") That was, perhaps, the first clue that there might be problems ahead.
The second clue was that Paige never talked about Ashley, and I never saw any pictures of the two girls together on Facebook. Plenty of photos of Paige with her friends, but none with Ashley. Concerned, I asked if they were getting along. She assured me they were, but they didn't hang out because of their separate interests and social circles. I thought it was a little weird, but since she wasn't complaining, I decided that maybe it was a good thing, that their diverse interests kept them out of each other's hair.
Almost as soon as Paige stepped foot back on the Tech campus after the Thanksgiving break, she texted to say that she was making arrangements to move in with a high school girlfriend several floors up. When I inquired about Ashley, she admitted they had had a huge blowup and whatever ties had been there were now completely and irreparably severed. I won't go into the sordid details, but no doubt things had been simmering between them for some time. I suggested to my daughter that she take the high road and try to smooth things over, but she wasn't about to do that, and besides, Ashley was messy. I had a really good chuckle over that and pointed out that she was no slouch herself in the messy department, but Paige insisted Ashley was much worse. Of course.
The news that she was moving in with her high school friend unsettled me a bit. She has known Caroline since kindergarten and the two of them are very close. It has been my experience, both personal and otherwise, that really good friends sometimes make rotten roommates. I'm no psychologist, but I believe strangers will cut each other far more slack in an effort to make the relationship work. Friends, on the other hand, sometimes expect too much and wind up disappointed. At least that's my take on it.
My high school best friend, Marian, and I roomed together for one week, ONE WEEK, and were nearly at each other's throats before it was over. This was at a debate camp we attended at Stephen F. Austin State University the summer before our sophomore year. (Yes, I was a nerd.) The high school speech and debate coach thought we'd make a good debate team and to test this asinine theory, threw us into a debate tournament at the end of the school year. This was a daunting prospect because 1) neither of us had any debate experience, 2) we knew nothing about the topic (as I recall, it had something to do with welfare) and, 3) we would be competing against teams that had spent months studying and debating this topic and knew every statistic and argument by heart. This had FAIL written all over it, but to everyone's surprise, we won. We swept the tournament to a first place finish with nothing more than some hasty research, some borrowed notes, and a lot of chutzpah or, as I prefer to put it: if you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullsheet. And that was how, a couple of months later, we ended up in a small dorm room at SFA ready to kill each other. It is a testament to the strength of our friendship that we didn't let this dual moment of insanity ruin it. We got past it, and before too long, we were able to laugh about it, but I know in my heart that what really saved us was the fact that it was only one week. Another week, even a couple of days, and somebody probably would have wound up dead. More than likely me, because Marian was the bigger of the two of us.
Part of the college experience, besides the endless frat parties and occasional studying, is learning to get along with your roommate. I had my share of the truly wonderful and the downright awful, and while it is no fun to live with someone you loathe, as I tell my kids, what doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger.
We had a family bon voyage dinner for our two youngest rugrats just before they headed back to their respective colleges. Instead of snapping a human family pic, I chose to photograph our Aggie ring family, something I had been wanting to do since our younger son received his ring last fall. As you can see, my husband and I had diamonds inserted in ours, but our sons opted for the au naturel look. I had tried taking the photo indoors, but the light was wrong, so I perched the rings on top of our bricked over mailbox and went to town snapping pics. It must have looked weird from my neighbors' POV, me taking pictures of my mailbox. "Yep, Doris...poor thing has finally wigged out."
Anyway, Richard and I are very proud of our family Rings of Honor. I especially like the latest addition because the number 12 is so important in Aggie lore.
I used to wear my ring everyday. Unfortunately, weight gain, which I blame on the kids, forces me to wear my ring on my right hand pinky. The ring is really too heavy for a pinky finger, and so it feels weird when I'm wearing it. It's also too loose, and I'm scared it will slip off my finger without my noticing.
Richard's ring is not the original. He lost that one about 20 years ago while in College Station for a football game. He waited, hoping someone would find it and return it through the university's ring office. When it didn't look like that was going to happen, my parents, in-laws and I went in together and bought him the ring you see above.
I've arranged a professional photo shoot for my younger son in April. He's in the A&M Corps of Cadets and I want very much to capture some high quality portraits of him in his uniform and senior boots before the end of the school year. I also want the photographer to take pictures of our rings, something she's probably never done in her professional life, but I know she'll accommodate me, and it will be nice to have a studio-worthy picture for our den.
Who knows, maybe we will collect more Aggie rings in the future. Perhaps a daughter-in-law or two, or a grandchild(ren).
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