Monday, August 26, 2013

Who "Are" You?

I really need my eyes examined again, though I can’t blame less-than-perfect vision for what happened the other morning.

It’s early—sometime between 6:30 and 7 a.m. As I’m walking down my driveway, a young woman is walking on the other side of the street. Outfitted in workout clothes with earbuds traveling up to her head, it’s obvious she’s exercising.

“Hello!” she says with a cheery smile.

“Good morning!” I respond, trying to widen my squinted eyes as they meet sunlight.

“How far are you running?” she asks.

“About three and a half or four miles. What about you?”

Still smiling, she says, “Wow! I’m only walking about a half mile.”

“That’s good,” which I sincerely mean.

During this exchange and our good-byes, internally, I’m asking myself, “Who ‘is’ she? She seems to know who I am; not just being friendly. Is she my neighbor on the corner? Her hair is in a ponytail. Am I thrown off by that? She’s only 30 feet away from me. Hmmm…”

Sooo, I just say to myself, “Don’t say anything dumb to reveal my probable senior moment, like asking her how her boys are and then finding out that she doesn’t have any.”

I had another of these senior moments, recently, in the restroom at church. Charging in, I run into the co-pastor.



“How arrre you?

Chit chat chit chat chit chat…

A stall door opens and out comes a friend who I’ve known more than 15 years.

“Hi, uh…” (Why didn’t I just leave it at Hi?)

The pastor quickly recognizes my senior moment, spares me further awkwardness, and says, “Natalie.”

“Natalie. You know I’ve always wanted to give you another name. blah blah blah …digging myself deeper.

“It's usually Valerie,” she says in a forgiving voice.”

The pastor helps me again by changing the subject. She knows when to end something, even though I don’t.

Do you ever have the “I remember faces, but not names” conversation with your friends or relatives? Or the other way around—names, but not faces. Or maybe you don’t have a problem with either. Well I’ve had this conversation and I usually say that I’m good with faces, but apparently, based on recent tests, I’m not; and not good with names either.

Am I worried?


I’d like to think that in my 50++ years of living, I’ve known SO many people, that my brain…

Scratch that. That’s leading to the old age factor that I’m avoiding.

How about: My life is so full of events, people, responsibilities, interests, etc. that I’m always multitasking and concentrating on something important, therefore, experiencing an occasional lapse in memory.

How’s that?

One thing about this little condition is that it is shared by many, Darling Husband being one of them. (Shhh… don’t tell him I said so.) We have an agreement—When we’re out socializing and he doesn’t introduce me, that means he doesn’t recognize the person or has forgotten the person’s name. I am to quickly introduce myself which usually prompts the person to introduce him or herself. Not part of the plan, but DH will always say, after he gets the name, “Oh, I’m sorry John, yes, this is my wife, Anita.

And I do the same if I am the “forgetter.”

Now that this has happened to me twice in one week, I’m going to have to work harder in ID-ing all the people I know; like paying attention to their vehicle license tags, or pets, or by honing in on a physical trait. Or, I can just say “Hi,” keep the conversation very general (the weather… I like your shoes…), and hope that it will click.

How are you doing with forgetfulness (people, tasks, objects, etc.)?

Image from Microsoft clipart

Monday, August 19, 2013

Restaurant Adventure

It's Sunday afternoon. The family and I are still in our summer groove and decide to treat ourselves to a meal at a nice restaurant—not a break the bank restaurant, but a step or two above Applebee’s.

The room is crowded and waiters are scurrying around, yet the atmosphere is pleasant. Darling Husband is enjoying crab cakes, Girl #1 has parmesan-crusted tilapia, Girl #2 and Girl #3 are playing it safe with lasagna, and I’m eating, for the first time, crab and shrimp cannelloni. It’s fattening rich, cheesy, creamy and delicious!

As we’re savoring the last morsels of our meals, the waiters begin pushing tables together that are located behind my back. Apparently, a large party is expected.

When they parade in, patrons begin to look in their direction and so does my family. Of course, I have to turn around to see what the racket is, too. The ten or so adults and eight or so kids are loudly discussing where everyone should sit. A boy begins to cry. A girl dressed almost entirely in pink feathers can’t find a seat, so the waiter squeezes in a high chair for her that she can barely fit in. Somehow, she falls out… and cries.

The boy cries louder. “Why isn’t someone taking him out,” I wonder. I do another U-turn to see him and realize that he’s probably autistic, so I give him a temporary pass. However, another little missy who is dressed in white feathers (I thought all the ballet recitals were over for the year) begins to whine and cry. The mother says a few useless words as she holds her on her lap. The boy stops crying, but the diva continues and continues and continues.

My daughter, Girl #3 says, “They’re like the Jersey Shore cast.”

“No, more like the Cake Boss family,” Girl #2 corrected.

People are still trying to enjoy their food and dining experience, however I can tell it’s an effort because heads are still diverting to the uncouth bunch; maybe because white feathered diva is still going at it… about 3 minutes now.

My kids have ordered dessert and I’m almost regretting it, because now we have to sit through this longer.

To shut up quiet down white feathered diva, the mom takes her to the booth across the aisle from them where four other family members are sitting. As they squeeze in, the little girl begins to scream. A man in the booth suddenly jumps up from his seat and says, “I’m already stuck with these two (referring to 2 boys in the booth); if she’s comin’, I’m goin’ to the other table! I know I’m the grandpa but I can’t take that!” So Mama, wearing a tight dress and high heels, shuffled back out of the booth with little diva on the hip and left.

It’s now restroom time. Two of my girls and I go, which is a good opportunity to laugh at Grandpa. Still giggling as we enter the restroom, who should be there, but the mom and white feathered diva on the hip.


When my kids were smaller, people would look at us as we walked to our table guided by the restaurant host. I didn’t give it much thought beyond assuming that people were saying, “That man has all those girls,” or I’d think, “We must be looking good today.” Sometimes, people would come over to our table as they were leaving and compliment DH and me on our well-behaved children. So it wasn’t that we were looking good or the amazement of our all girl children; it was FEAR! The diners had probably been praying that we wouldn’t get seated anywhere near them.

Which leads me to this question: What do you think about the growing trend in barring children from restaurants?

The Huffington Post reported that a Houston restaurant, La Fisheria, is banning kids under 9 years old after 7 p.m. The executive chef, Aquiles Chavez, told local news station KHOU 11 that “Many customers had complained about ‘noisy and rowdy’ kids overtaking the restaurant. The children… they are crying, some are running under the tables.” The Huffington Post also reported that Chavez “explained that the new policy will help improve business because patrons will now be able to dine in peace from 7 p.m. to the 10 p.m. close.”

While reading the story, I clicked over to the links within and found stories of more restaurants with similar restrictions. The owners, when questioned, seem to have no ambivalence about banning the kids and many patrons are supporting their decision. One of the owners commented on how our kids may be the center of our universe, but they are not the center of everyone else’s.

On the other hand, others have said that “the ban makes it harder on parents of young children who also want a night out, or penalizes parents of well-behaved children.”

A mother was quoted on the restaurant’s facebook page, writing, “Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean that I’m not entitled to eat out somewhere. I don’t eat fast food and I will not feed that garbage to my children. I am shocked that people think that just because you are out with children you should go to Chuckie  Cheese or some other obnoxious and unhealthy fast food place.”



Monday, August 12, 2013

Growth Should Never End

"She don’t know no better,” I’d hear some of the old people say when referring to an ignorant action by an oblivious person. Ironically, the people who’d say it didn’t know any better either; that good grammar had escaped them. I was a child then and could have picked up that well-intentioned saying had my fair education not intercepted.

When I married Darling Husband, I quickly realized that his family of professionals had similarities to the Cosbys, while my working class family had a few things in common with Rosanne and her family. His parents had dinner parties at their home with the governor as a guest; my stepfather ate at our dinner table without his shirt. (The governor wasn’t there—why not?) He’s a runner and was often half naked.

What DH and I did have in common, though, is our love of family and an adequate amount of fun growing up. However, education and cultural exposure is a barrier that defends against ignorance and lack of etiquette. I’ve committed more than a few faux pas in my younger days because I lacked in both of these areas. (Yes, I do have a college degree, but education comes in many forms.)

I remember throwing a toothpick out of a rolled-down car window and my girlfriend, who was also in the car, was aghast.

“What did I do!” I asked.

“You threw that toothpick out the window!”


“That’s litter,” she admonished.

“It’s a sliver of wood that will blend right back into nature; not a Burger King bag or an ashtray full of cigarette butts. I didn’t even think about it.”

My friend continued to explain and whereas I didn’t totally get it then, it eventually clicked.

So being the refined lady that I am now, I notice a few bad habits that other people exhibit. For example: I was sitting in my car waiting for my daughter to come out of a building next to the grocery store, when I witnessed Unrefined Shopper Woman pushing her basket (cart) up on the grass instead of walking five seconds to the rack.

“Well that’s lazy,” I murmured.

And then the journalist in me took over as I got out my cell phone to snap a picture. (Always thinking about the blog.)  Of course I waited for Unrefined Shopper Woman to drive off before I snapped.

As I continued to wait for Darling Daughter, my thoughts became forgiving. The woman probably thought she was doing a good thing by putting the basket on the grass where it wouldn’t roll away. Maybe?

Maya Angelou has been quoted as saying, “When you know better you do better.”

When you see someone doing something tacky or something that lacks etiquette, are you 100% critical or is there room for a pinch of forgiveness?

What have you been guilty of doing or not doing?

8/14/13 - I talked to my mom today. She thought the post was funny when she read it, but had second thoughts; wondering if the Rosanne comment makes people think that she is like the character on the show. Mom is not. Everyone knows that she is a class act. Just having fun with a little self-deprecating humor, Mom. Sorry.  xoxo

Monday, August 5, 2013

My Mate

My anniversary is this month. Nineteen years. People say things like, “Time flies” and “Where did the years go?” and “It doesn’t seem that long” and “It seems like just yesterday.” Some say, “That’s a long time.” I don’t say any of that. Somehow, I don’t have a great feeling for the amount of time as I tend to live mostly in the present, not concerning myself with how many years have passed by and what I did with those years. Today is what I live for… and tomorrow, and the next day, and so on.

The memories are still treasured, though. Once in a while, it’s fun to have a “Remember when” conversation or to browse through some of the loads of pictures that fill albums and files on the computer. The video is there, too, for those rare times that I sit and watch.  And of course, when I write for my blog, I summon up material from my past to get a story going.

What I find more gratifying than talking about my life is hearing the stories of others. Talking to a friend recently, I found out how she and her husband met, when they married, what jobs they had, and ultimately, how they acquired the business they now have. I’ve read some good stories that my blog friends have written, too, about relationship and marital beginnings—if not the whole story, then pieces of it. So I’ve been thinking—if yours is interesting to me, then my story may be interesting to you.

Here goes:

We met at a private party at a rented club-like venue. It was 1983. “Michael” and his buddies were the hosts. One of the buddies dated my girlfriend who asked me come along that night. It was the usual weekend party common with single twenty-something year olds.

Michael and I talked and danced and exchanged numbers before the evening was over. There were subsequent dates and even an introduction to his mother. We were attracted to each other and a genuine friendship was established, but something was missing. Not long afterward, I left central Virginia for Northern Virginia to work around the beltway in Maryland. Michael visited once or twice and then it fizzled.

After nine months in Northern Virginia, I moved to Maryland. Michael and I spoke to each other on the phone once or twice—me seeking professional advice, him giving it. It was comfortable. Since we were never officially a couple, there wasn’t a breakup that would have left hard feelings. And then nothing; no more communication. He was living his life and I was living mine, until…

In 1992, about 8 years later, he calls me out of the blue. It was great to get a call from “an old friend;” hearing about his life and telling him about mine. He asked if he could come up and visit and I said, “Sure.” We went to the Baltimore Harbor and at some point he told me that he was going to marry me.

After I laughed, I said, “Oh, that’s so sweet.” I honestly didn’t see it or feel it. I simply adored him as a friend.

But the visits kept happening; Michael’s two hour drive to my house and two hours back to his home. How na├»ve I was to not see it coming. He was smitten and I was just enjoying the company of an interesting, funny, and smart man. And then one day it hit me; the love bug had bitten.

On Valentine’s Day in 1994, Michael took me to a restaurant at the harbor and proposed. I accepted with a smile on my face and fear in my gut. (Thankfully, it dissipated within a week or two.) We were now in our thirties and had the “something” that was missing back then—love and maturity. We married 6 months later in August.

A few bumps here and there, but it’s a nice ride.

How did you and your spouse or partner meet and become a family?
Ex-mate stories are welcome, too.

image from Microsoft clipart