The eggs at the Four Seasons cost thirty-two dollars. We stayed there last week, and I saw the menu with my own eyes. The cost is initially jarring, I’ll admit, but in defense of the Four Seasons:
- There are two eggs served with this breakfast. Two! We’re really only talking, then, about sixteen bucks per egg.
- They will prepare the eggs in any style you’d like. You’re not just paying for a meal. You’re purchasing complete and total creative control over these chicken embryos.
- Choices abound with this breakfast! Home fries or grits? Ham or bacon? Whole wheat toast or white? The choices go on and on. Juices. Coffee. I can’t even.
- This breathtaking hotel donated a $500-per-night room to “Prevent Child Abuse in Gordon County, Inc,” a tiny charity an hour (and a world) away from their facility. They put us up in an opulent room that rivaled anything we’d seen in a movie, they valet-parked our Ford Focus with so much professionalism and respect that you’d have thought it was a Bentley, and they made sure we had an amazing stay.
If you’re spending the night in Atlanta, I hope you’ll treat yourself and stay at the Four Seasons. It is bucket-list worthy. (And when they ask you how you’d like your eggs, say “Fabergé.”)
A Billy Joel song came on in Office Depot this afternoon, and I’ll be dogged if the entire store, staff and clientele alike, didn’t break out into song. This is likely the closest I’ll ever come to witnessing a flash mob, and I want to tell you about it.
I was at the counter waiting for a fax to send. The clerk, a twenty-something gentleman with excellent costumer service and unfortunate psoriasis, was assisting another customer – a woman near my mother’s age (referred hereto after as “Do Rag.”)
Do Rag had a motorcycle helmet in her left hand and a photo on honeybees on a honeycomb in the right. She had wanted to have the honey bee photo made into a two-by-four poster. The result was blurry. Disappointing. The clerk told her the photo file was too small. She’d need a photo that was at least X number of kilobytes or gigawatts or whatever. He was kindly jotting the specifics down onto a post-it for her when it started.
“Whats the matter with the clothes I’m wearing? ‘Can’t you tell that your tie is too wide.'”
Do Rag was singing along from word one, tapping a heavy black boot in time. She was happy. This same woman, seconds before, was sighing. Shaking her head. Rolling her eyes. She’d been weighing a series of frustrating options: Take the blurry poster? Take a new photo and come back next week? Now she was in karaoke mode and all seemed right in her world.
“Ma’am,” said the clerk. (He said it to me. I’m ma’am.) “The number is still busy. Why don’t you walk around a minute while I try again?”
“That works,” I said. I didn’t have to walk three full aisles before hearing it. Another costumer enthusiastically jamming out to Billy Joel. This time is was not a singer but a whistler. And this guy, y’all. His tune really carried. 80 decibels, easy.
I walked until I found him (bored as I found myself to be, and with no real shopping agenda to speak of). I studied him from the corner of my eye, all the while feigning interest in the highlighters. He was just a plain, run-of the-mill dad with a kid who needed unlined index cards, not lined. (Where are the unlined?!) Golf shirt. Khakis. A bit of a pot belly. Nothing striking about him, really, except his remarkable whistle and unabashed love of Billy Joel.
Back at the counter, Do Rag was thanking the clerk and walking away.
“See you next week,” she said.
A new gentleman sidled up to the counter. Shaggy hair. Camouflage cap and wranglers. He was getting some kind of card laminated. Maybe it was a hunting license. I don’t know. I’m only guessing that he liked to hunt. I can say for sure, however, that he liked Billy Joel. He, too, sang along. Sang like he was in the shower. Like he was drunk in the back seat of a buddy’s car. Not a care in the world.
“Hot funk, cool punk, even if it’s old junk it’s still rock and roll to me.”
People of America, I think we’ve found a strong write-in candidate for the upcoming presidential election. Who’s with me?
At some point in my early twenties, older friends and relatives began sharing with me the myriad advantages I should expect with the onset of middle age. A coworker named Debbie once told me that, at the age of forty, I would stop caring what other people thought of me. On another occasion, Aunt Sharon watched me wince and hobble about in an ill-fitting pair of heels, then said, “Don’t worry. One day you’ll be forty, and you’ll be able to wear more comfortable shoes because no one will look at you anymore.”
I’ve been holding tightly to those promises for over a decade now. I have pondered in my heart the ways in which such realities as self-assuredness and invisibility would change me life for the better, and I suppose that, on some level, I went to bed last Tuesday expecting to morph, overnight, into new woman. The sort of Crocs-wearing woman who speaks her mind without disclaimer, apology or regret.
I’ve worn heels twice since turning 40 last week. I happened to be wearing them over the weekend when I had cause to use a public restroom. And this restroom, y’all. How can I put this? It was the sort of situation in which the odor of the restroom greeted me at the door. I felt myself grimace and cringe upon entrance like the psychologists on “Hoarders” when they walk into a home which is occupied by 80 cats. Offensive. You get it. But it was what I had. I buried my nose in the collar of my dress and hustled into the stall, heels click-clicking.
The worst thing about this restroom, however, was not the odor, but the awkwardness I felt when I emerged from the stall to see that another woman had entered the restroom. The worst thing was that I cared what she thought about me. I shouldn’t have, being forty and all (so said that Debbie character) but I did.
It crossed my mind to address the embarrassment head-on. To say, “Listen lady, just so you know, I walked into this nightmare same as you. I am not responsible for the smell in this restroom.” That is crazy, though, right? It would have made me look overly defensive. Guilty as sin. Better to say nothing at all. The air quality was so poor, though. I couldn’t very well keep quiet. I just couldn’t. (I never can.)
“This bathroom,” I said to the other woman in exasperation. I said it like I knew her. Like the smell was not a source of embarrassment to me but, rather, a problem we shared. “This bathroom is the worst.”
The woman said nothing in response. She looked away from me, then cast her eyes toward the floor.
Maybe she thought I was the culprit. I don’t know. Maybe she was embarrassed for me. There is a chance, though, that she was just admiring my shoes.
A woman’s guide to coping with temporary baldness (dedicated with love to my friend J, who has complained less about her brain surgery than I did the last time my IUD was changed out)
1. Get a temporary tattoo on your scalp.
Please! When do you suppose this opportunity is going to come along again? Never, that’s when. Your hair is growing back quickly, so there is no time to waste. Get a rub-on tat. Something tough.
2. Guilt your mother into buying you a Hermès scarf.
Ask her outright or, if you’re like me and enjoy a little razzle-dazzle, work in a good, histrionic crying jag. Tell her you need the scarf as a head wrap and that, given the indignity you’re suffering, you are entitled to the very best. A few months from now when the hair is back, you can wear the scarf around your neck.
3. Sleep in.
That 45-minute block of time you’ve traditionally reserved for shampooing, conditioning, combing, blow-drying, curling and flat ironing you hair – you can just sleep right on through it. Sweet dreams, beautiful.
4. Cut in line.
You know as well as I do that you’re not sick. The head shaving was part of the procedure that ensures you stay well. Here’s the thing, though – strangers may not know that. Prey upon their pity. Cut in line. What are they going to say?
5. Sing “Nothing Compares to You” in public.
How awesome would that be?! Go to a karaoke bar and impersonate Sinéad O Connor to the best of your ability. I guarantee it will bring down the house.
6. Get a cool wig.
After a lifetime of making do with the hair you were given, you now have a chance to wear the hair you always wish you’d had – any color, length or texture you please.
7. Have fun with your make up.
You have a beautiful face and a skilled hand with cosmetics. This is the perfect time to get a makeover at the mall or watch a few instructional YouTube videos concerning new techniques for make-up applications.
8. Get into a fight.
If there is one thing I learned from going to public school in South Georgia, it’s that hand-to-hand combat between women involves a lot of hair pulling. You would totally dominate your opponent.
9. Ask me to cover your weekend and holiday shifts at work for the next twenty years.
‘Cause I will. With pleasure.
10. Hold your head up high.
You have handled this whole mess with inspiring grace and dignity, and it is over. There are about eleventy-hundred people praising God for this, your remarkable recovery. If you do nothing else on this list, I pray you hold your pretty little shaved head high.
I haven’t written a post in several months now, and a lot of people have asked me why. Okay, so maybe not a lot of people, but quite a few. Ten, alright?! Like ten people asked: my mom’s cousin Jenny, two girls from work, and a good half dozen people from church. (So that’s nine people, but I’m rounding.)
There are three primary reasons why I’ve been neglecting the blog. This first is straight-up laziness. The second is that the time I was spending reading posts by other WordPress users left me with no time for enjoying plain ol’ books, and the third (and I don’t mean to whine, its just the truth) is that I’ve been struggling with a bout of depression that requires me to devote more of my free time to “Dateline NBC” reruns and Capt Crunch.
There’s my answer. I’m sorry it isn’t more interesting. I’m going to try and get back into the swing of things. My goal is two posts per month. Fair enough, cousin Jenny? Now if you’ll excuse me, the Capt is waiting. I’d best shove off.
Last week, all the good mothers took their children to get back-to-school haircuts. I meant to, but I got busy painting the guest bathroom. I may take them later this week. Or next.
Last week, all the good mothers starting putting their children to bed a little earlier in an effort to ease into the early mornings that school will require. I decided that those earlier mornings are just not going to be easy. They never have been in the past, regardless of how many times we suffered through them. I decided to let my children play on the iPad every night until it’s battery drained.
Last week, all the good mothers started looking through Pintrest boards for healthy and creative lunchbox ideas. I still don’t know what will be in my kids’ lunchboxes. I’ve yet to grocery shop. I will, though. As soon as I finish this post. (The smart money is on a turkey sandwich, an apple, goldfish crackers and two cookies.)
Last week, all the good mothers bought small black boards and chalk in order to prepare for cute First-Day-of-School pictures. You know the kind. The kids hold the black boards in the morning for a photograph. “First Day of Second Grade.” The thing about that, though, is that I have horrible handwriting. The worst. And what’s more, I am left-handed, so everything I write on a blackboard is immediately smeared away with the side of my hand. I will take a picture, though (provided I remember to charge my phone.)
Last week, all the good mothers said to their kids, “I cannot believe you’re going into [insert grade here]. You’re growing up too fast.” And I said that, too. Because I love them like crazy. Even if you can’t tell by the amount of processed food in their lunch boxes.
So I watched back-to-back episodes of “Catfish the TV Show” earlier today and am now kicked back before a TLC program called “Sex Sent Me to the ER.” This is me – the person I become when my husband is out of town.
Todd went away on business two days ago. Two. I couldn’t tell you precisely what he is doing. Me? I am throwing soup cans away. Seems I’m suddenly too lazy to walk to the garage where the recycling bin is kept. I am staying up past 1 o’ clock AM, much to my own detriment. I am giving the air conditioner the workout of it’s life. I am eating ice cream. Two servings. From a mug used earlier for coffee. That is what I am doing. Stuff like that.
Character is who you are when no one is watching.
“Hey, you want to see some jellyfish?”
It is like offering to point out to us a bad tattoo or a twelve-story condominium, such was the proliferation of jellyfish at Orange Beach on this particular day.
“We’re good, buddy,” we say.
“You sure? We got a bunch,” he says. He is the color of a peeled apple, this boy, but with the sort of dense, stippled freckles that join together and form a mock-suntan.
“Well, alright,” we say.
We follow the boy. He leads us to a plastic kiddy pool which has been stationed next to a chaise. There is a freckle-blotched woman sunning in the chaise. Presumably his mother. She says hello. We return the greeting.
“See?” says the boy. He points downward.
The kiddy pool, four feet in diameter, is filled to capacity with a terrifying menagerie of jellyfish. Some pump and pulse with regularity. Some weakly convulse. Others, the sure-enough dead ones, float and sway with the movement of the water – their previously dome-shaped bodies flat. Flush with the surface of the water.
“What do you call a group of jellyfish?” Alexa asks.
“Don’t know,” I say.
“A jam!” she says.
“Unless they’re protected by law, in which case it would be a preserve,” I say.
This is what nerdy women do on the beach. They engage in word play.
I produce a phone and ask if I might take a photo. The boy agrees. His mother smiles. She is sure he is a budding scientist, not a sociopath. We are not so sure.
The children join us. They gaze into the pool. Instantly convicted to join the cause, my daughter Carrie fetches our net, tromps into the ocean, scoops up a jellyfish, and dumps it into the watery mass grave. And I am fairly sure that she is a budding scientist. I hope she is.
The following morning, Alexa, the guys and I are out on the balcony. We are drinking coffee and admiring the ocean.
“Look,” Scott says. “A dolphin.”
“I saw it too,” Todd says. “Look past that blue umbrella.”
We watch the surface of the water until, again, it’s dorsal fin momentarily resurfaces.
“What eats jellyfish?” Alexa asks. She is having the same thought as me: I hope that dolphin will eat all of those miserable jellyfish so that we can swim in peace today.
“I don’t know,” I say. “I’ll check.”
A quick and disappointing Google search reveals that the main predator of jellyfish are… larger jellyfish.
“I’m not sure that helps our plight,” Alexa says.
I think, then, of that corny starfish story keynote speakers always tell at conferences in an effort to inspire us – the one in which the dancing woman throws dying starfish back into the ocean in an effort to save their lives. It hits me then that I have witnessed it; the real-life version of the starfish story. I have seen it in action. That boy with the freckles, Carrie, and the jellyfish. It is the Starfish story in reverse; less inspiring, but morbidly fascinating.
It made a difference for that one.
This is (name omitted).
I don’t know who this is.
I think it’s McDonalds.
Me and my husband was at, uh, my daddy’s funeral.
We come by there to get us somethin’ to eat, and they messed our order. All. Up!
I would appreciate it if I could talk to somebody.
Thank you and have a nice day.
How is anybody suppose to talk to y’all if y’all wont answer your phone?!