Friday, October 29, 2010

Ladies fire drill

Well, I wasn't going to tell this story, but at the urging of my girlfriends on a recent girls' night out, I agreed it was too good not to share. You see, on July 4, we had a fire drill -- a ladies' only fire drill.

We spent the day watching our men folk fry batch after batch of catfish, tater tots, hush puppies, fried pickles and anything else they thought might taste good battered and smothered. We were as stuffed as could be -- everyone contently sitting around a great big vat of oil.

That's when my friend came out of the house and said, "We have so much food left; I'm going to take it to the fire department. Who wants to go?"
Remember Road Runner?

That's what every woman there looked like. We hopped up and took off so fast, you would have thought our chairs were on fire. In fact, I even left my purse behind -- the purse I take everywhere with me -- even to the bathroom -- in my house.

As relatively old married folks, our husbands looked on in utter amusement. We could have said we were going to see Chip and Dale strippers and probably gotten the same look -- they were full of fish and content and knew we'd be back by supper.

My friend's daughter, however, has only been married two years, and I must say, her husband looked slightly alarmed as we ran, yes, ran toward her van. The van she'd already jumped in and started up. I guess I didn't help matters when I looked his way and said, "Do I need to put on my lipstick?"

I'd never seen a more shocked looked in my life. As we let out a whoop, my friend's daughter commented, "That's the fastest eight women have ever done anything!"

What can I say? We love our public service officers.
We waved an excited good-bye to our spouses and drove the less than half mile to the fire department. Once we arrived, we excitedly got out, amidst many giggles, with a big pan of food in hand. Ready to make the handsome firemen, I mean, er, the fireman happy by delivering some freshly fried food.

To our disappointment, however, the station was deserted. Perhaps my friend's daughter's husband alerted them that middle-aged-ish women were coming with half-warmed fried food. Either way, they were gone. The place was a ghost town.

What do we do now? We struggled to find an answer. We knew we couldn't go home and let the men folk laugh (more) at us. So, we did what any good citizen would do, we hung around and waited, listening in on the CB radio, until we got tired and eventually wrote a note and left, driving slowing back to our husbands. But not before we made a pact: "Let's not tell them no one was there."

"Agreed!" we all said in unison. Not to be cliché, but how many times do eight women agree?

We didn't have to worry very much. Most husbands didn't ask. As for me, I got in the car and immediately blurted out to mine that the place was deserted. I guess the others did too because by that night, the only poor husband left in the dark was the newlywed.

"So, how many firemen were there?" he asked his young bride later that night.

"Oh, I don't know. I didn't count them,' she said. Months later she confessed the (complete) truth. I must say, I can't help but admire her fortitude and her wit.

And, I have to say, now I know if our house is on fire, we'll be OK, even if we have to go to the fire department to pick them up ourselves. In fact, it may just be quicker that way.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The perfect storm

Mix two crying babies, one hacking man, a shrill singer and a dash of turbulence, all in the midnight hour, and what do you have? The perfect storm. I know because I am a survivor. The following is my story:

"We're taking the red eye. Is that OK?" I said to my husband after I told him that I had scheduled a surprise birthday trip out west.

"Sure," he said, undoubtedly afraid to offend me by offering any criticism of my travel arrangements. And, to be perfectly truthful, it would have. Oh, yeah, and did I mention we had to leave at 5 a.m. for our flight out there? Yeah, I know (now).

Anyway, fast forward to the flight home. After spending a really long day wandering the streets of Las Vegas (which was experiencing record high temperatures of 105-plus) virtually penniless and feeling kind of homeless after checking out of our hotel room, we made it to the airport.

We thought it would be best to pass the time eating dinner at the airport. I recalled seeing a California Pizza Kitchen down the terminal, so I nonchalantly made my way there, not even bothering to ride the people mover. After all, God gave me legs.

As soon as I rounded the corner, the lights in the California Pizza Kitchen went off, so I started across the hall to the hot dog stand when that light went out. Suddenly, I realized it was 2 o'clock in the morning Georgia time, and I could very well starve to death at any given moment, not to mention I was facing a 3 a.m. flight with my only hope being a microscopic bag of peanuts. This was not good.

Feeling a slight panic, I quickly turned back the way I came, this time taking the people mover. Lights continued to flicker out as I approached like they were on some sort of reverse motion sensor, causing full-fledge panic to set in, which is how I ended up eating tuna at 2 a.m. I must say that was a first.

As soon as we finished our make-shift meal, our boarding zone was called. Have you ever noticed how people push to get on planes? What is up with that? I mean, they have assigned seats. In my tiredness, I wondered this out loud and not quietly, either.

"I agree," said the man in front of me who had just been jostled. "I've never heard the pilot say, 'First class will be landing 15 minutes earlier.'"

"I know, and another thing ..." I said.

My husband shushed me at this point -- he was tired and knew that sleep was no where in sight. I, on the other hand, had total confidence in my ability to doze anywhere.

"You really don't think you can sleep on the plane?" I scoffed.

About 15 minutes later, with my husband snoring by my side, I knew I was in trouble. The baby in front of me started crying, the man behind me began hacking, and, worst of all, the girl next to began singing --loudly. Her first song was Black Eyed Peas "I gotta feeling ..." I'm not sure if you've heard it before, but basically the lyrics go, "Tonight's gonna be a good night" over and over again. It's like a modern-day version of "The song that never ends." That went on for quite some time, until she finally switched to Taylor Swift's "You belong to me." Sadly, she only knew the first line of the chorus: "She wears short skirts, I wear sneakers," which she sang over and over and over again.

I, not wanting to cause trouble, kept mute about it until the flight attendant came by with headphones for sale. I pounced on the opportunity.

"I need them to drown out the singing," I said. I must say the flight attendant then turned and admonished the woman to such a degree that I almost felt guilty, kind of like when I used to tell on my sister.

The night wore on, and though I was terrified that the hacking man's germs were going to come through the seat, I finally managed to curl up and doze off. Of course, as soon as I did, one of two babies onboard would cry (God love them and their mammas). Eventually, the pilot announced that we were about to land in Atlanta; we just had to get through a little turbulence first.

A little? I sure would hate to see his definition of a lot.

The more turbulence we hit, the louder my husband snored (God bless him, too), the louder the baby cried, and the more the man behind me coughed. The noise had reached fervor pitch, when after my silent prayer, calm struck, and we landed safely on the ground.

As we left the airport, vowing to never again take another red-eye flight, it suddenly hit me that I would soon be sleeping in my own bed. Surprisingly, I found myself humming a little tune: "Tonight's gonna be a good night ..."