I got invited to a baby shower. When I saw who the mother-to-be is, my first thought was: Hell no, I won't go. You see, I'm still waiting on a thank you note for the wedding gift we sent four years ago. And yes, I can carry a grudge.
When six months went by and no acknowledgement, I asked the bride's mother-in-law to ask Miss No Manners if our gift was received. It was. I thought that might embarrass the bride into a writing a thank-you note. It didn't.
So now I am faced with purchasing another gift that will probably never be formally acknowledged. A part of me is a little ashamed that I would "punish" the baby; it's not the kid's fault his mother is uncultured. The other sticking point is that I really like the grandparents-to-be (the mama's in-laws), who are two of the most generous and classy people I know.
I told Richard that I might slip in a box of thank-you notes with the baby gift. Shoot, I'll even write the note to myself, and address and stamp the envelope, but Richard said to let it go. He is such a killjoy.
In other news, I spent this past weekend in Lubbock for my daughter's sorority's moms' weekend. The weather was gorgeous --- a bit windy, a tad chilly --- but sunny and cloudless. Two other moms and I hit town Friday afternoon, and left just before noon on Sunday. By the time we got home to Dallas around 6:00 PM, Lubbock was bracing itself for a blizzard. Another example of the old Texas saying if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes. I can't believe I missed all the fun and games. The airport shut down, the interstates were closed, and the cattle that we'd seen peacefully grazing in the sunshine as we headed east were now miserable huddles of frozen, snowblinded beef on the hoof. Tech threw in the towel and cancelled classes --- a fact we were informed of via a 4:45 AM phone call from the university, which initially scared the crap out of Richard. (In my case, I have never had the pleasure of that particular heart-stuttering experience. Sometimes being deaf ain't all bad.)
While Paige and her roommates made the weather an excuse to celebrate a long weekend, Mitch was snowed in in Denver, forcing him to miss work on Monday. He didn't land in Dallas until midnight Tuesday morning. I asked my other kiddo, Brent, if Lawton, OK had any snow and he said no --- which I find hard to believe when the Texas panhandle, which is due west of Lawton, was under 4 - 6' drifts in some parts. I was hoping, as the storm system moved towards Big D, that it would dump some of that pretty white stuff on us, but it veered north instead. I swear Dallas has some kind of force field that repels snowstorms.
Anyway, during my visit to Lubbock, Paige and one of her roommates, Chelsea, invited me and Chelsea's mom, Mendy, to their apartment for 'ritas and appetizers. Mendy and I thought this was a lovely gesture on our girls' part until we found out that they were merely providing the space; WE were expected to purchase the food and prepare it. Chelsea, as it turned out, is pretty handy in the kitchen, and she made the jalapeno poppers in the picture below. Paige, however, had a tough go of it trying to mash the ranch dressing mix into the cream cheese and text at the same time. She is studying to become a registered dietician and already I am worried that she is not up to the task.
Zeta Tau Alpha Moms' Weekend Afternoon "Tea"
Looks pretty good, doesn't it? And it was so easy to prepare. The menu included: artichokes with Italian dressing, Parmesan Frenchies (the moldy looking stuff on the colorful plate), smoked salmon crudites, cream cheese topped with Pickapeppa Sauce (not shown) and served with crackers, chips and salsa (not shown) and homemade jalapeno poppers. I couldn't believe it when I saw Chelsea preparing the peppers --- cutting, seeding and removing the ribs --- with her bare hands. The recklessness of youth! I learned a painful lesson years ago to wear gloves when I accidentally rubbed my eye after handling the little suckers.
Well, I need to get some beauty sleep as I am heading to Lawton, OK in a few hours to help Brent move back to Dallas. He's bunking with us temporarily before he is due to report to Ft. Polk, Louisiana. I know he is going to be very glad to see Oklahoma receding in his rear view mirror.
Baby feet: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Tasa_
I am in an anti-Greek mood at the mo'.
I did not pledge a sorority when I was in college, so I am on the outside trying to look in, and what I see doesn't impress me very much. This is especially irritating considering the amount of money we've plunked down on several kinds of fees, insurance, tickets for various functions, clothes and assorted gewgaws, and "special projects", whatever the hell those are. If I wasn't 100% sure that it would break my daughter's heart to quit her membership, I'd ask her to consider it.
Every sorority's mission statement emphasizes friendship, sisterhood, service to others, leadership, academic achievement, and a whole bunch of similar positive attributes. Somehow, these noble ideals get lost in the annual no-holds-barred drive called Rush to attract the prettiest, most popular girls. It's their lifeblood; sororities that have a reputation for being the hangout for losers don't get the pledges, and eventually wither away from lack of interest. I hear that is the case with a particular sorority at Texas A&M; it is in danger of closing shop because it can't attract enough members. The consensus is that the girls in this group are "the nicest", "the sweetest", "the smartest", "the most hard-working", when anyone with half a brain knows that is Greek for overweight and unattractive. It's like your best friend telling you your blind date has a really nice personality.
Rush, or recruitment as they call it these days, isn't until August, but sororities have been prepping for this for weeks. The first clue I had that recruitment borders on outright ridiculousness was when my daughter told me that all her clothes for recruitment had to be bought and approved by April 30, and she even sent me a PowerPoint presentation someone had made up showing what was acceptable and what was not. Here are some screen grabs from that PowerPoint:
Get the picture? Jeans have to fall somewhere between skinny and flare-y. Dresses can't be too cottony/beachy, but they can't be too satiny/prom-y, either. Dresses also have to match the paint chip samples that were passed out at a chapter meeting. Teal can't be too blue or too green; grey can't be silvery. Even shoes have to meet standards for color and heel height. God forbid you get anything other than leather or patent leather, or shoes with kitten heels. Really, what is so awful about kitten heels? One can walk about on those during a party, and not worry too much about an impromptu face plant from five-inch spikes.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for dressing as the occasion demands, but this has a creepy Stepford Wives mentality. And on practical terms, I can't help but wonder how many girls might find themselves no longer fitting into the outfits they bought in April; there's a four month lag between purchase and wear, after all. I suppose that's an incentive not to gain weight over the summer, but...wait, what if that is precisely the reason? Clever, very clever.
On another front, my daughter, bless her heart, is caught smack dab in the middle of a tug-of-war between me and the young lady who is serving as recruitment chair. The problem is that my other college kiddo is on track (fingers crossed) to graduate from Texas A&M in August, and this milestone and our family celebration of it conflict with the first few days of the two-week recruitment period. When my daughter tried to explain that she would be absent those days and why, the recruitment chair told her 1) she had to provide proof of the upcoming graduation, and 2) demanded that she return to Lubbock ready to work on August XX, otherwise she would be fined for "unapproved absences" to the tune of $100.00/day.
This is the sort of thing that lights my fuse like no other; the nerve of her thinking a membership drive takes precedence over a college graduation! I fired off an email to the young lady, and told her she was in no position to make demands. The only thing that kept me from telling her she could take her "proof" and stuff it where the sun don't shine was my daughter's panicked request that I not be too rude. "I know how you can be, sometimes," she texted. Boy, she knows me too well.
Is it any wonder I feel a certain kinship with the long-ago citizens of Troy?
Trojan horse: http://sonyaandtravis.com/tag/trojan-horse/
Jeans and shoes: credits not available
My daughter is at Cedar Creek Lake for a few days. She and her girlfriends wanted a little R & R before they scatter like roaches for various colleges. The picture above was taken at that same lake in May after senior prom.
The first thing most of them will undertake, once they get moved to their respective campuses, is sorority rush. When I was a freshman at Texas A&M in the mid-70's, sororities and fraternities were just getting started. There were no chapter houses and the whole "Greek Thing" was viewed with enormous distrust by the university administration and the vast majority of the student body. University officials didn't like a system whose membership was based on social standing, legacies and Daddy's money. The student body, with the Corps of Cadets being the most vocal, said the only fraternity that mattered was the Aggie Fraternity. Despite the negativity, I went through rush because both of my parents were Greeks in their college days (Sigma Kappa and Pi Kappa Alpha), and they thought I should have the experience. I had other plans, however, and dropped out before bid day. For 35 years I never regretted, not once, not being a sorority member. Then it all changed when my daughter started preparing for her own rush, and it occurred to me that my lack of sorority experience could be problematic for her. Not because I think she will have trouble getting in -- quite the opposite, in fact -- but simply because for the first time in her life, I had no answers to her questions and no advice to offer.
In February, the local area Panhellenic hosted a conference at the University of Texas at Dallas. While there I learned only one thing: I have no freaking idea what is going on. They tossed acronyms around like rice at a wedding -- RIF, PNM, ARC, MIF, LOS -- and warned us that if we didn't keep to the deadlines (notice the plural), our daughters' chances of getting bids would be less than zero. Even the moms who, unlike me, had been smart and pledged Chi Omega or Kappa Kappa Gamma in their day, looked nervous. That made me feel the teensiest bit better, but only just.
So I did what any mom concerned for her child's happiness and social standing would do: I went home, had a stiff drink, and put all our sorority notes and papers away in a corner in the dim hope that somehow, someway, the problem would magically resolve itself, and I could say RIP to the RIFs, whatever they were.
Of course, that didn't happen. Just like the time, when I was eight or so, I thought I could avoid punishment by secretly burying a broken porcelain bird in the trash. Reluctantly, we sat down one day, Paige and I, read and re-read every scrap of paper we had and, voila! it still made no sense. With the clock ticking, sure Paige was going to spend four years at Texas Tech a social outcast, I turned to help from friends who had older daughters. We robotically did what we were told, often having no idea just why we were doing what we were doing, but trusting in their knowledge and sheer blind luck. Slowly, it started to come together and one night, the light dawned. Funny how simple things are once you understand them.
To say that rush (they call it recruitment these days) has changed since I was in college is putting it mildly. Rush is an enormous undertaking for girls, requiring dozens of recruitment packets with three different photos, resume, high school transcript, cover letters, and SASE envelopes. Then there's the registration with the campus Panhellenic and mailing more photos and more paperwork. By contrast, boys who are interested in pledging a fraternity do none of these things. I suspect recruitment for boys involves a gigantic inter-fraternity keg party and bids go to all those who are still standing upright at midnight. I really wouldn't know because neither of my boys cared a hoot for the frat life, but this is how I picture it.
When Paige mentioned the other day that she was getting nervous about how she would be accepted during the rush process, I discovered I did have some advice to give after all: just be yourself.
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