Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not your mama's art class

My husband and son had gone off on a great Boy Scout adventure, and we girls had been left behind.

At first, I was very sad. Though I'm not exactly rugged, I've always enjoyed the family camp experiences that Cub Scouts offered. In large part because I figured out, it's a lot easier than being at home. Basically, you set up your tent, start a fire, plop down in your chair and watch the boys run around. Bingo, you're camping.

But, this was different. He was merging to Boy Scouts, and Mamas reminding them to brush their teeth before bed was no longer required or, rather, wanted. My daughter and I were on our own. I pouted for about 30 seconds before I realized, "Hey, wait a minute, we are on our own!"

Visions of pedicures, shopping, eating out and watching chick flicks danced through my head.

"What time do you leave?" I asked my husband.

I broke the news to my daughter and told her our itinerary.

She remained expressionless.

I, of course, took it personally. Having been 13 myself at one point, I assumed she didn't want to spend that much time with her mother.

"You can bring a friend," I said.

No change of expression.

I decided I needed to add something to the mix.

"And, we'll take an art class. Not just any old art class, an encaustic art class," I said.

When her expression didn't change, I said, "Encaustic means painting with hot wax!"

She raised an eyebrow. I had broken through!

Later, on our way to the class, she said, "I wish I could have gone camping with them."

Slightly bummed, we soon arrived. Greeting us was our art instructor, Valerie, and best of all, her daughter, Olivia, who is my daughter's age. Immediately, a smile crossed her face.

Now, I should clarify that I am no artist. I know because I've played a few humiliating games of Pictionary in my day. My daughter, on the other hand, is a natural, though she'd probably take offense at this. The truth is she practices all the time. She'll take a subject matter and draw it over and over until she perfects it, and then she moves on to another subject. I guess it's a lot like writing a first draft but more interesting to watch.

Valerie warned us that the hot plates were plugged in and, well, hot. I met Valerie a mere five months ago, and we became instant friends. She's creative, has a good sense of humor and, best of all, puts up with me. What more could I ask for in a friend?

She also has an adventurous spirit that I admire. She loves horror movies and even goes to see them by herself. I couldn't make it through the trailer of Paranormal Activity 3 at home surrounded by loved ones, yet she sits in a theater calmly munching on popcorn while watching a little girl get possessed.

"It wasn't as scary as part one and two," she said.

So, it was only fitting that the tools for our art class included not only hot wax but also razor blades and blow torches. In short, it wasn't your mama's art class. My equally adventurous and creative daughter loved it, as did I, once I figured out which side of the razor blade to use and to listen for the hiss before I clicked on the blow torch.

The end result? We have two masterpieces hanging on the wall in our kitchen. I caught my daughter running her finger over the colored wax, tracing the outline of the poppy flowers we had carved into them. The moment was soon interrupted by the return of the boys - dirty, tired and hungry. My daughter was no longer the only child, and our girls' weekend was over, yet the memory of our adventure remains etched in wax on the wall.

And, for that, I am very thankful.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AARP - not me!

There are benefits to being 10 years younger than your spouse. One is his eyesight is failing, so fine lines go unnoticed. Two, despite the fact that it’s been over 20 years since you’ve graduated, his friends still say he robbed the cradle. Three, he thinks your hip pain is sexy. OK, I made this one up, but at least he isn’t repulsed by it. In fact, odds are he’ll even think it’s cute when you say, “I’m going to need my hip replaced soon.”

But, the very best part of being younger than your spouse is the discounts. Yes, I’m the proud holder of an AARP (spouse) card.

Recently, I went out to dinner with a girlfriend of mine. I must say we were a little flattered when the young waiter seemed to flirt with us. We blushed and felt quite good about ourselves; though I’m sure he was only after a big tip. Little did he know that the one leaving it would be a bit of cheapskate, and I’m not talking about my friend.

Yes, I love a good bargain. And, while I didn’t chinch on the tip (no need to get Sound Off going), I relished the opportunity to give my new card a try at the movies after dinner.

“Can you believe how that waiter flirted with us?” we laughed, basking in thoughts of how young we must look.

It was then that I ruined it.

“Do you take this?” I asked the lady behind the counter. My friend recoiled in horror when she saw what “this” was – a red and white AARP card with my name printed across the top.

“Are you trying to get a senior discount?” my friend whispered in disbelief.

She slowly slunk away while I pocketed the $5 I saved on the price of an adult admission. I felt kind of funny but proud of my sensibility. So much so I tried the card again over the weekend when I took my children. This time it was broad daylight, however – and crowded. I slipped the card to the cashier, glanced left and right, and said, “I have this.”

“You want to use the AARP card?” she said loudly over the speaker.

I looked around and quickly nodded.

“That’s only good at the concession stand.”

That was better than nothing, so I stood in line, chatting with several other moms I knew.

“Are you really using that card?” my son asked. “Doesn’t that make you old?”

“No, it makes me frugal,” I protested, but the seed had been planted.

“What can I get you?” the cashier asked. I slid the card back in my pocket and began to order.

“Mom, look at how much a Coke costs!” my son said.

This was no time to be vain. I whipped out the AARP card and asked, “Do you have any discounts with, um, this?”

“Yes, you can save on Coke and popcorn,” she said.

“I’ll take it!” I said feeling smug that I had not only saved money but also saved face as no one noticed what I had in my hand.

“Mom, look at the computer screen.”

“AARP combo” was flashing in big, bright letters.

Sheepishly, I took my refreshments and slunk off. Later that day, I bragged to my husband about the fact that I had used the card – something he’s yet to do – and saved $6.

“A small Coke and popcorn only cost $16 today, thanks to this discount card,” I bragged.

“What? You paid $16 for a small Coke and popcorn?” he said.

That’s when it hit me. That wasn’t really a deal. In fact, I had been ripped off. I had traded 10 years of my life for an $8 Coke and $8 popcorn. Apparently, being older doesn’t automatically make one wiser. Next time, I’m ordering the kids’ pack!