Freeing the voices in my head

Posts tagged ‘Shopping’

A Sailor’s Wife Is Me, Yo-Ho!

When my love graduated from Maritime College, we set a date to be married in October of 1979.  It was my favorite month: my birthday month, crisp Autumn days, and Halloween — my favorite holiday, so it seemed fitting to add a wedding in there.  Since he graduated in May and was immediately headed to a ship on the Great Lakes, it was left to me to do all the stuff involving the wedding.  He would be home in September, in time to help with final details and bring a good amount of money to pay the bills.

I was working at the local mall and used my laughable paycheck for small items.  We weren’t planning a big wedding; just a few friends and family members.  Our guest list was about 25 people long.  I went to a local stationary slash art supply store and discovered I had to order at least 100 invitations.  Plain, cream-colored with pretty calligraphy and no extra fancy stuff; okay, fine, order ’em so they’ll get here in time to be given out or mailed out.

A small bridal shop just down the road was next.  Nothing fancy, the owner was the only employee, and I was left to browse the racks of dresses on my own.  I fell in love with the first one in my size that I tried on.  It was soft, flowing, with no itchy lace and, best of all, was only $250 dollars!  I put down a deposit and happily went off to work.

July rolled around and nothing else was done because of busy days at work and, well, I had lots of time still for flowers, a restaurant, a cake, finding a church or maybe just a justice of the peace…then, my mother and sisters hit town.  “Do you have the rings yet?”  Um, no, I don’t have that kind of money, but Randy will and we’ll go pick something out when he gets home.  “What church are you using?”  No idea, we aren’t into religion, and neither are you, Mom!  “Where’s the reception going to be?”  Um…and the questions kept coming.  But what sent Mom and older sister into tizzies was The Dress.

“You already got The Dress?  The FIRST Dress you tried on?  Did you try on any others?  Oh, no, this won’t do.  We have to go, now!”

Sigh…

We descended on the little shop and my domineering mother took over.  While I rolled my eyes and mouthed apologies to the shop owner, Mom and Big Sis attacked the dress racks.  The first ten gowns were piled into my arms and I was shoved into the fitting room.  Gack, lace, ruffles, bustles, a gazillion pearl buttons no bigger than a pinhead, mile long trains — they apparently forgot how clumsy I am — and prices I expected to see on new cars, not a dress I was only gonna wear once!  Thank god we were the only customers but I still refused to leave the dressing room in those “things.”  I let the enemy peek in, gratified to see their faces scrunch up in dismay at the sight of me in their choices.

I didn’t even try on the next ten dresses.  The owner, bless her, had taken pity on me and brought me MY Dress.  I slipped it on, she zipped it up, and pulled aside the curtain with a smile.  It fit perfectly, it flowed, it soothed my crumpled ego…and it made Big Sis smile while bringing Mom to tears.  Hey, I know what looks good on me!  Mom paid  it off and got me a pair of matching shoes and a veil.  Whew, done and no one got pissed off!

Smooth sailing for three more months?  Nope.  Randy came home, early, really early, in July, with only one paycheck and a tale that should have sent me running far away.  He was off watch, sleeping in his rack (bed) one night as the Captain navigated the ship across Lake Superior.  He woke up when his rack tilted 180 degrees and dumped him on the floor.  Yeah, the ship was tilting that far because the Captain had run it aground.  Brand new Third Mate Eldred made it to the bridge and was the one who finally got the ship free.  Then he packed his duffel and quit, unwilling to work on a vessel where he had more experience navigating the ship than the Captain did!

Well, he returned home to wedding chaos.  The guest list had jumped to 125 people, thanks, Mom, not.  I bought a generic package of somewhat sorta matching invitations at the local mall.  My soon-to-be mother-in-law offered to bake the wedding cake.  Randy and I picked out our rings; just two plain wedding bands but mine had to be sized down and would be ready in a week or so.  My bridesmaid and maid of honor had two dresses that matched my wedding gown in style, so no one had to buy a dress they’d never wear again.  Randy’s littlest sister was our flower girl and his mom sewed her a pretty little dress that matched.  (That lady had seven kids and little money; baking from scratch and sewing clothes was second nature to her!  Besides, she wanted to help and my mother wasn’t giving an inch!)

Progress was being made, so, of course, we had to have another crisis.  From the moment he got home, Randy was calling around to shipping companies, calling the job list offered by the college, calling, calling everyone he knew to get a new job.  And, yes!  A company wanted him!  But, no!  They wanted him for a four month cruise and he had to be on board the ship by the end of AUGUST!  Well, shit!  We had to make a choice: postpone the wedding until December or January (ugh, my two least favorite months, along with February) or move the wedding up to early August.

We set the date: August 3rd.  Bless our families and friends; they rallied forth, they called in favors, they helped us make it happen.  My parents reserved the banquet room of a lovely Italian restaurant.  They were friends with the owners and got a good discount.  Getting my bouquet and the other flowers is a blur — my mom took me somewhere and the florist came up with the design.  All I was asked to do was pick my favorite flowers and colors: irises and roses, purple, blue, and green.

As for the church… We drove by a little church a lot.  It was one of the oldest churches in town, barely more than a chapel, but it was cute and although we’d never gone to a service there, we liked it.  With time restraints pushing us, we stopped in and convinced the pastor to marry us there.  Randy’s sister was hoping to pursue a career in photography and we contracted her to take photos of our day.  The only tux we needed was Randy’s; the other guys all had gray suits in the same style.

On the morning of our afternoon wedding, Big Sis woke up with an abscessed tooth.  It was a Friday and Mom called her dentist friend from when we were kids and our family lived three houses down from him (his office was in his home).  He would see her, if we could get her there immediately.  Panic, though, because who could take M.L. to the dentist?  Everyone was busy, busy, busy!  Except for…the bride.

Yeah, well, I had nothing to do until a half hour before the wedding.  My dress was simple, my hair would just be loose and flowing, the way I liked it, I was showered, shaved, and bored with sitting in a corner watching my drama queen family freak out over tiny details.  So I took Big Sis to the dentist.  I sat in the waiting room with my book, perfectly calm and content, and laughed out loud when I overheard this:

Dr. Glenn: “Well, what a way to start your big day, eh?  Don’t worry, we’ll get you fixed up in no time and you’ll be a smiling bride.”

Grunts from Big Sis.

Dr. Glenn: “Oh, you aren’t the bride?”

More grunts.

“Really?”  And sweet ol’ Dr. Glenn actually stepped into the waiting room and stared at me.  I smiled and waved.  “Well, aren’t you nervous at all?”

Me:  “Nope.  I’m just happy this day is here.”

In fact, I didn’t get nervous until everyone had dashed off to the church and I put on The Dress.  My dad was the only one left at the apartment — he was the manager of a car dealership and was driving me to the church in a dealer’s demo car, a brand new Lincoln!

After all the agonizing over music, and the lovely gift of our talented friend Holly playing the organ and singing, I don’t remember any of the music.  Randy says all he remembers is his knees shaking and his dad holding him up (or keeping him from running away).

It was a wonderful day, pulled together in a few wild weeks because of so many people.  And it set the course for much of our life together — adventures done on the fly, on impulse, with pieces of what was needed appearing at the last minute.   There have been storms and calm waters, floods (for real!) and dry stretches, but we keep going, sailing along and hoping we won’t sink.

We just celebrated our 33rd anniversary.  If I had known a sailor’s wife must brave Life’s storms alone for months, would I have married my Merchant Marine?  I like to think so, because, yes, when he gets home, everything is worth it.  🙂

Have A Crazy New Year!

I’m back!  I slept!  I went grocery shopping!  I’m safely home!  It’s New Year’s Eve!  Indulge in exclamation points!

Oh, come on, you KNOW “Happy New Year” is an oxymoron, right?  So, ditch the “Happy” and go for “Crazy!”  Crazy is so much better.  Suddenly, there’s no longer any pressure to be right or correct or productive.  No one dares ask you to do much of anything because, well, hey, “she’s the crazy one!”

Crazy is much more fun.  Spend a few minutes in a grocery store talking to the produce lady about bananas…  “I only need three; they spoil so quickly.”  “Oh, but they are so good for you,” she told me.  “I wouldn’t know.  They’re for my dog.”  Bananas – 78 cents a pound, the look on that lady’s face – priceless!

Climb the bottom two shelves of the milk department (I’m 5’3″) to reach the last tiny carton of whipping cream.  Not happening (and why are the tiny cartons way up there in the stratosphere?  Men don’t know how to use whipping cream, so why is it up out of a woman’s reach?).  Glance behind you at the muffled laughter as a polite young lady of the Asian persuasion attempts to help you.  Hey, she had the extra two inches we needed to find ANOTHER tiny carton hidden behind mine.  High-five each other to random applause and raised eyebrows…yeah, crazy’s good!

Compliment the cashier.  Today’s girl had a lovely hair style, so I complimented her.  She patted her do, saying, “But I only had time to brush it.”  “Brushing’s good; it’s so smooth and shiny.”  I whipped off my hat.  “I have demented poodle meets light socket hair.  Wanna trade?”  *cackle, snort*  Shuffle away…but, she was laughing!

My apologies for last night’s blog, but I’m feeling much better now!  (Night Court, loved John Astin, loved that show!)  Or maybe the pain pills are finally working…

Have a Crazy – okay – Happy New Year, Everyone!  😀

 

Red Car, Blue Car

I did it again today.  I have a legitimate excuse because I’m running about on two hours of sleep, a middling-to-high fever, not much solid food in the past two days, but I HAD to get some Christmas shopping done.  I’m using the mind over matter method of healing – I do NOT have bronchitis, there is no money for doctors (After the fiasco last year, I’ve vowed to go to a doctor or hospital again only if I’m DEAD!), it’s Christmas, stupid Body, so, behave!  Except excuses don’t wash; I done this before when healthy, rested and normal.

I tried to get into the wrong car.

I love cars.  So does hubby.  Our respective Love affairs began in our teens.  Randy (hubby) lucked into the Pink Lady, a 1964 pastel pink Thunderbird with white vinyl roof.  Sweet car for a 1970s high school kid and bought with money he earned working two jobs while still making Honor Roll every semester in school.  My dad worked at a car dealership and got me my first car.  It was a 1971 LTD Ford station wagon, seven feet long, a lumbering hunk of metal, and, important for Dad, rated a safe family car.  In 1976, the Black Beast got me and my best friend cross-country and back, was our shelter when the tent we brought turned out to be rotted through from the previous year’s banana food fight, but I gladly traded it for the first car I fell in love with – a 1969 Buick Skylark Sport Coupe, gold with a rag top, 350 horsepower V-8 engine, and automatic stick.  Lark could do 120 mph down the Thruway, her engine singing a solid middle C the whole time, but we only tried that once, honest!  She had over 200,000 miles on her and ran great when we gave her to my mechanically-challenged mother.  Lark died the next month, never to run again.

We grew up, married, went through more cars, and knew we had “made it” when we bought a Lexus.  Very nice, dependable car and at 99,000 miles the only thing wrong with Beauty was the power control or computer thing died for the driver’s window.  (Yes, I named all our cars.)  The kids enjoyed our largesse and their dad’s quirk of getting a different car every three years.  Brian received a 1965 emerald green Mustang.  “Needs work, runs good!”  Ripped upholstery, a steering wheel that might (and did!) come off while you were driving, cracked windshield, manual steering, manual brakes – Yikes!  But, ah, when you hit the gas, the Green Bitch GROWLED her way out into the world.  Me and a ton of steel roaring down I-10 at 75 mph; you betcha nobody got in our way!

This past year, we traded in two cars (yeah, bonus checks helped).  Hubby got a silver Dodge Challenger, loaded, powerful, great car.  A bit intimidating to me – it was a lot bigger than my sweet little Baby – a blue G37 Infiniti.  I loved my car, I knew how everything worked and could program the GPS.  And then, he saw IT online and said, “You like Audis, right?”  Oh no!  I hurried into the office.  “Yes, I like Audis.  No, you cannot trade my Infiniti for one!”  (He got our younger son an older Audi A8, black, of course – Jim rarely acknowledges any other color – 200,000 miles, running great, full of luxury; I like that car, too, but…)  I stamped my foot, I pouted, I got in the passenger seat of my baby and allowed hubby to take us to the Audi dealership.  We (Baby and I) were doomed.

Hubby liked a white four-door Audi A6.  We test drove it and, eh, blah…mind you, I was still pouting, determined to hold tightly to my sporty blue darling.  And I loathe white cars.  The silver two-door A2 was almost identical to my G37, so why trade into the same kind of car?  We stood outside, me caressing Baby’s hood while the salesman tried to tempt us (me) into buying something.  Key in hand, other hand on driver door, casual and relaxed, hubby said, “Where’s the red A4 that was online?”  He grinned at me.

Yep, truly screwed.  The bastar-er-sweet man knows me well.  Hit my visual buttons – colors, jewel tones, dark, luscious blues, greens, reds…I sighed in relief when the salesman answered, “That’s out on a test drive.  Would you like to wait?  We have coffee and cookies – oh, here it comes!”

She purred into the lot with a tight turn and flirty swing, bold, sassy, gorgeous.  Her grill was a saucy grin, her slanted headlights sporting tiny under-liner lights.  Baby was adorable, SHE was sensual, glam-rock haughty, and I clenched my fists, knowing I was beyond tempted by this bright red siren with her flash and class.  “It’s a four-door, it might be too big for me, I don’t need a big car, I don’t want–”

“Let’s test drive it,” the traitor insisted.

The dealer drove us to a park with a long road that looped back around to the main highway.  It reminded me of a racetrack – perfect to prove a big four-door couldn’t maneuver as well as Baby.  I sat in the back when hubby drove, pretending I wasn’t impressed with the comfy seats, the smooth ride, the fact that I wasn’t getting sick (I usually get motion-sick in the back seat of cars).  When my turn came, I drove her like the men did – hit fifty-five and owned that curving loop.

I giggled.  And tried to stop giggling.  Giggled some more.  She was fun!  She was so much fun to drive that I knew I had screwed us out of getting any kind of discount.  No one giggles on a test drive, and the daughter of a MANAGER of a CAR DEALERSHIP should know better!  But…I giggled.

Parting with Baby was difficult; I had to sit in her for awhile, but my eyes kept straying to Ms. Luxury-Plus-Muscle-Plus-Prestige sitting next my little Infiniti.  I wouldn’t have to worry about a Texas Edition Dually pick up driven by some ignorant drunk trying to run my placid blue sweetie off the road anymore – how can you ignore a bright red bitch of a car that screams MONEY and CLASS?

We bought her.  We got her home and discovered a few things.  The new Audi came with THREE books, a CD and a DVD.  Another book and CD were sent to us in the mail a few days later.  Two of the books explain the Navigation System (GPS).  We still haven’t figured it out six months later.  None of the manuals, CDs, DVDs, whatever – nothing contains any info on how to set the clock!  I hate Daylight Savings Time; now I have a moment of fear as I think I’m an hour late until I remember the Red Queen won’t tell me how to change her clock over!

Love is never perfect.

Today’s Christmas shopping went well and as my body floated out of the store on a puddle of fever-sweat, I was happy to be done.  I took a deep breath and focused.  Shopping was easy, getting out of the parking lot, through the traffic and home was gonna be Hell.  The parking lot was mayhem and I hurried across it, eyes darting about because here in Texas, parking lots are as dangerous as the roads.  Folk out here climb in their pick-em-ups, vans, or Stupid Useless Vehicles, jam their phones to their ears and race off – all without looking to see where they’re going or who might be in their way.  Two said vehicles were in jousting positions, revving their engines, their supah-mom drivers waiting to do battle over my parking space.

I grabbed the door handle, juggling my bags, cursing the fact that the remote key in my purse wasn’t unlocking the door…oh.  I lifted my gaze from the blue Infiniti’s door and sheepishly trotted over to my big red bitchin’ Audi.  Horns honked in frustration behind me.  I ignored them and slammed my door shut.  Silence.  Push the start button and with a muted purr and silken whisper – as if she knew I wasn’t at my best yet forgave me for still loving small blue Infinitis – Queenie got me safely home.

Still, you were right, Body.  Today, we should have stayed in bed.