Monday, September 13, 2010

What is she doing in there?

As I got ready for work, I pondered a very important question: Am I the only girl from the 1980s who can't get the hang of a flat iron?

For those of you (i.e. men) who don't know, a flat iron or straightening iron is used to straighten one's hair. Again, don't ask me how it works. I have straight hair and somehow can't make it work.

Men, you are probably wondering why you should continue reading beyond this point. Actually, you are probably wondering how you made it this far, but just know that you won't be disappointed. I am about to answer an age-old question, one that husbands have been asking themselves since marriage was invented, you know, the question you ask aloud while you're sitting in the truck waiting for her to emerge from the house, so you can finally leave...
What is she doing in there?

The short answer: Her hair. Yes, even if she comes out looking exactly (or even worse) than she went in, chances are it's the hair.

Back in the 1980s, nothing was easier. All I needed was an Ogilvy home perm and a can of Aqua Net hair spray. Now those were the days. There's got to be some truth in the ozone depletion joke. It's honestly a wonder I have any hair left to straighten. I'd perm it, tease it, turn my head upside down to spray it, curl it with a small curing iron -- the bigger the hair, the better. The result was something like a lion's mane. I thought it looked great, so good, in fact, that I kept that look well into the 1990s.

I guess I should have known it was going out of style when I was getting a perm and another hair dresser walked in and said, "What's that smell?"

Shortly after, I met a lady from church, and she asked, "Is your hair naturally curly?"

"Well, no, it's a perm," I confessed.

"Oh, I hear those are coming back."

That was officially my last perm. From there, I tried every other hairstyle known to man or woman kind -- I copied Jennifer Anniston's (who didn't?), Katie Couric's, Kelly Ripa's and my hairdresser's, though the last proved problematic.

"How would you like your hair cut today?"

"Oh, just cut it like yours."

She then turned to the girl next to her and asked, "How do you cut my hair?"

They don't cut their own hair, it suddenly dawned on me.

And the colors, oh, the colors. I ran into a guy I knew from high school recently. His first comment?

"Your hair's a lot lighter than high school."

I saw my husband visibly cringe.

I simply said, "Yeah, I don't know how that happened!"

I've had brown hair, black hair, blond hair (my natural color, of course), red hair -- what my son likes to call yellow hair -- frosted hair, two-toned hair and many shades in between.

And products -- don't even get me started -- hair gel, hair spray, root lifter, silky spray, shampoo and conditioner that I had to take a second mortgage out on. And the styling contraptions -- small curling irons, larger curling irons, medium, spiral, diffuser for the hairdryer and every contraption in between.

As a result, you'd think I'd have the most beautiful hair on earth or at least on my block. Maybe if I could take my head off and style it and then put it back on. But, no, my best friend is the ponytail, which is exactly how my hair ends up after I've done all of the above. In fact, I'm usually pulling it back as I open the door to the truck just in time to hear my husband mumble: What is she doing in there?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do you want fries with that?

“I don’t believe in using prophylactics,” the red-headed pimply face kid lisped through his braces.

“What,” I said.

“I don’t believe in using prophylactics,” he said again pointing at the People magazine I had purchased with the picture of the Duggar family on the cover, “but I think they should use them.”

Then he went on with a full dissertation of the, admittedly, fascinating Duggar family and their (now) 19 kids and counting as he rung up my groceries. About the time he was telling me he thought they weren’t all really their kids, it dawned on me that I was being held captive by my milk, bread, and eggs. And it wasn’t the first time.

Recently, I have had a grocery story clerk tell me about her deceased cat Coco as she rang up my dog food, another told me (as she scanned my toilet paper) about her much younger boyfriend who went to stay with his mama whenever he got mad at her, and another sang to me as she sliced my sandwich meat. I smiled and nodded and tried to be polite.

I’ve written about family, friends, neighbors, and even a (previous) boss or two, but I’ve hesitated to write about this. What if the cashiers read it, and I’m banned to a fate worse than death, also known as Wal-mart shopping?

After my most recent encounter, I decided to risk it. As the cashiers share – a modern term for blabbing - I try to tell myself that it probably helps them pass the time, that they are bored or perhaps they are just being friendly. It’s not their fault that I’m on my way home from work, trying to scrape up dinner for a nest of hungry little birdies who are constantly causing my cell phone to chirp. Yet, do I really need to know what classes the clerk takes at college or what size she used to be?

Another thing clerks now have a tendency to do (as illustrated above) is comment on what I am buying. Recently, the clerk scanned tomato sauce, tomato paste, lasagna noodles, hamburger meat and mozzarella cheese.

“Making lasagna?”


“My mama used to make the best lasagna. I don’t use the cottage cheese. I always use the ricotta. Don’t you want the ricotta?”

“No, thank you.”

“Are you sure?”

That’s become another pet-peeve of mine. The “Are you sure?” I hear that a lot in restaurants. For example, with my food allergies, I generally avoid salad dressing.

“No dressing, please.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“We have ranch, blue cheese, the Italian is really good.”

“No, thank you, no dressing.”

“Just dry?”

“Yes, that’s how I like it,” I usually respond to save myself a long discussion on what I’m allergic to, how I found and why.

The waitress will then give me a funny look and bring me a salad with dressing on it anyway.

And what’s the deal with drive thrus? I’ll place my order, and they’ll say, “Is that all?”

“Yes, that’s all.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“What about a fried pie?”

“No, thank you.”

“Want to try a mocamamino?”

“A what?”

“A mo-cha frap-pu-ccin-oooo”

“Oh, no, thank you.”

“Want to medium or super-size your meal?”

“No, I just want to eat!”

I’ll admit it causes me to lose my temper sometimes. Once, after a similar experience at Hardees, I yelled something unfriendly into the loud speaker only to look in my mirror and see my preacher driving the vehicle behind me. My biscuit didn’t taste as good with that side order of guilt.

As far as my (occasional) temper tantrums or tendency to throw a fit, if you prefer, I definitely get that from my dad. He’s never had much patience with salesclerks and waitresses who hover, etc. Fortunately, we both have Mama. My mother has the knack for making every person – grocery store clerks, waitresses, mail carriers and on and on - feel like the most important person in the world. You know why? Because at that moment, they are. My mother doesn’t ignore people or brush them off like I try my best not to do. Even when she’s in a hurry, she takes a genuine interest in them, taking the time to ask questions and find out more about them. My grandmother was the same way. It is certainly a gift. And, THAT is something I’m sure of.