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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Swampy

One of the joys of being an adult is getting to an age at which you can just act like a big old goober and just enjoy yourself. Trent and I don't have any children, so we don't have to worry about some kid whining, "Daaaad, you're embarrassing me!" or "Mooooom, stop it!" Marie and Thayne's kids are all adults now, so they can do things and go places and just act silly if they wish. I will admit, though, that there are moments when I'd like the kids to be about fifteen again so that we could try to make them completely disgusted with our juvenile behavior.

Several years ago, Marie's ex in-laws were in town, and Trent and I went out to dinner with the whole family. Marie was next to me, with Betty, the grandma of her children, on her other side. I overheard Betty as she leaned over and said something to Marie with a very serious look on her face. You see, one of Marie's nicknames for her son Nathaniel was Bud-o. Betty said to Marie, "I hear you calling Nathaniel 'butthole' sometimes, and it bothered me, but I see that you call him that with love, so I guess it's all right." Please be aware that Betty, Marie, and I were all burning with fevers that night because we all had pneumonia or bronchitis. I can't remember which, because I refused to go to the doctor. Sometimes putting a label on things just makes them feel worse. Factor in the noise of a restaurant and a table full of a dozen or more people, and you might understand why Betty's comment just flew right past Marie.

Several weeks later, Marie and I were together and I asked her about Betty's comment. And yes, it had flown right past her. When I told her that Betty thought she was calling Nate 'butthole,' she and I got a terrible case of the hysterical giggles. During our travels we picked Nate up from school and had to regale him with the story, and get hysterical yet again. Every few minutes one of use would say Bud-o, and we'd start with the giggles again. Needless to say, it didn't take long for Nate to get thoroughly disgusted by our lack of self-control. But that didn't stop us from having fun. Ah, the good old days!

When Marie, Thayne, Julie (Thayne's sister), Trent and I went to Orlando and the Mouse House, we had tons of fun and let it all hang out. Marie kept hoping to spot armadillos alongside the road, so we sang several different songs, very loudly, telling the armadillos we would like to have them make an appearance. We did finally see one, so the hard work paid off. There were many opportunities to act like kids (Hello! Disney World!) and we all jumped in with both feet. You may not be aware that a lot of Disney World and the surrounding areas are reclaimed swamp land. Florida has a lot of water, and I am not talking about the ocean. You might drive around and see numerous ponds or swampy areas, some complete with their own gators. (I like to call them croc-a-gators, it just sounds fun to me.) With all of the water and the mild climate, all sorts of things inhabit these areas. We saw opossums galore, gators, and more varieties of birds than I could possibly count. And lush plants, gorgeous flowers, and Spanish moss. 

One night as we were driving back to where we were staying, I got a whiff of a swampy area that couldn't be seen, but definitely could be sniffed out. Even though it wasn't all that bad, I said, "Yuck! What's that smell?" Julie immediately replied, "It wasn't me!" This of course degenerated into comments about who had the swampy bottom. Yes, we were acting like dorky kids, but it was fun. Another evening, Marie was driving, Julie was in the front passenger seat, and I found myself in back with the guys. "Uh-oh! I said, "I guess I better act like one of the guys!" I leaned back, moved my legs apart, and began tugging at my pants. The ladies got a good laugh out of it when they figured out I was scratching my testicles.

I don't want you to thing that we are totally boorish and that we are constantly acting like idiots. All of us have very good manners, and use them almost all of the time. We generally act like intelligent, mature, and genteel adults. But it's hard to be serious when Mother Nature plays the straight man and gives you a dose of swampy bottom!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Clean Sweep

When Trent and I moved into this apartment a few years ago, my sister Liz told us that she had some carpet runners that would fit into our kitchen perfectly. The floor would be so very clean, and it would be comfy underfoot. We thought for a moment that it might be nice to have a soft floor that wasn't cold on our feet, so we agreed to take the carpets. Within a few days we had the two runners side by side in the kitchen. And they were pretty, and definitely nice underfoot. I really enjoyed them. For a little while.

Suddenly it was almost impossible to sweep the kitchen. I could run a broom around the very edges of the room, but without much success. And the carpets started to migrate around the kitchen. Although the carpets were the same size, one would be closer to the dining room, and the other nearer the opposite wall. They respected each other, so they took turns. And they liked giving each other their own space. So there was usually a gap between the two of them. This gap was a magnet for every crumb within a five mile radius. 

Cleaning the kitchen floor switched from a few minutes of sweeping and a quick mopping, to a labor-intensive process. We'll just vacuum, I thought. Right. The crumb-filled gap suddenly shut tight. Anything that spilled directly on the carpets stuck like glue. So when the vacuum came to the kitchen, the carpets looked at it and laughed. To vacuum, we had to flip one carpet over on the other, vacuum one side of the floor while trying to hold up both carpets with one hand, and then switch. And these lovely carpets were heavy! After doing this chore you pretty much needed three things - chocolate, a shower, and a nap.

But Trent liked having a kitchen floor that wasn't cold or hard under the tootsies, so I tried to make the best of the situation. But I secretly started hating those pieces of carpet. The floor just never seemed really clean to me. But I kept on keeping on. Then I noticed that the backing of the carpets was dissolving into a yellowish brown powder that was shedding on the floor. Stains starting appearing. I began to think that the reason Liz was so generous was because the carpets were a pain in the neck, but they were very pretty, so she just couldn't bear to get rid of them.

And then, on Monday evening, the Last Straw. I reached in the refrigerator to get a container holding at least half a can of diced tomatoes in sauce. The lid wasn't fastened tightly, and of course the lid stayed in my hand while the container went upside-down on the carpet. Not only was it impossible to clean off the carpet; the portion of the tomatoes that slipped off the edge was unreachable without lifting that stinking carpet. I had had enough. After a quick consultation with Trent, I rolled each of those heavy carpets up and put them in garbage bags. We tossed them in the car and drove them over to the dumpster. 

When we got back home, I was able to easily sweep the kitchen for the first time in what seemed like forever. I mopped up the remnants of dissolving carpet backing. And mopped it again the next day. Every time I walk into the kitchen and feel the coolness of the floor under my bare feet, I'm happy. If something spills, I'll be able to clean it up in next to no time. No back-breaking lifting and shifting to get a simple task done. The room looks larger and feels tidier. I have wanted to cook more, resulting in Trent being treated to home made biscuits yesterday and chocolate cake today. After I go to the store for a missing ingredient, I'll be making peanut brittle in the next day or two. The clean sweep has made me want to spend more time in my kitchen. Maybe it's because the small mishaps that tend to happen in kitchens will no longer turn into tedious chores. Of course, if I keep up with all of this cooking and baking, we may have to change our names to Mr. and Mrs. Shamu!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Honestly?

When someone asks for your honest opinion, do you really give it? I know that lots of people claim to be very honest, but I have my doubts. No, I don't think that most people are liars. I just know that if we were all totally honest all of the time, there would be lots of people with hurt feelings, at the very least, as well as lots of people with very few friends. Think about it. Let's say you go to Aunt Gertrude's for dinner and she proudly serves her signature dessert, something so rich and cloyingly sweet it almost makes you choke. When she says, "Look what I made!" you kindly say how lovely it is, and what a special treat it is. You don't tell her that it's just too much and you can't bear to eat it. You claim to be too full from the delicious meal to eat another bite. Because saying how you really feel at that moment would be unnecessarily cruel. Not only would you hurt Auntie Gert's feelings, you'd be robbing her of the joy of lovingly preparing something special.

And here's another thing to think about, and strike terror into your heart. When your spouse/significant other/friend/cousin or whomever asks if this outfit makes them look fat, how totally honest are you? No, you don't want them to be embarrassed, but you also don't want them to be emotionally crushed when you tell them that as a matter of fact, it does. To say nothing of the way they will react to such brutally honest feedback. 

Years ago I trained a young woman who claimed that she was always completely truthful when someone asked for her honest opinion. I told her it couldn't possibly be true. She said that yes, it was, and in fact, she often came across as cruel because of her honesty. She told me that she had another job at a retail store that sold clothing by a specific women's wear designer. You know, one of those shops where the largest size available is maybe a six. One day a woman was trying on some clothing and picked sweet-looking Mindy to be the person she'd ask the question, "Do these pants make my butt look big?" Mindy answered, "No, your butt makes your butt look big." And Mindy wasn't trying to be cruel. She was just an example of the description "brutally honest." Mindy was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. She just didn't know how to be untruthful.

Some time after I heard this story from Mindy, my friend and coworker Danielle went shopping during lunch and bought some new pants. She told me that she knew I was a kind person, but she wanted someone to give her a truly honest opinion about the pants. I made sure that she meant it, and she said absolutely, she wanted someone to be honest enough to prevent her being embarrassed if they didn't look good. So we went out in the hall, her in the pants that fit like a second skin, and she walked away from me to the other end of the hall. They were not flattering. When she walked back and asked my opinion, I said, "Well, Dani, I was going to ask you if you were allergic to bees, 'cause those pants make you look like a bee stung your bottom." She burst out laughing as she hugged me and kissed my cheek. She was afraid they fit that way, but didn't have anyone at the store with her whose opinion she trusted. With my humorous but lovingly honest opinion to reinforce what she was afraid of, she returned the bee-sting pants to the store, and saved herself feeling embarrassed.

So, yes, if someone really wants an honest, or even painfully honest opinion, I will go for it, but as gently as possible, or with a touch of humor. But if they are kind enough to give me one of their famous handmade chocolate-covered, so sweet that you'll die if you eat it, Easter egg candies, I will thank them profusely for giving me such a thoughtful gift. They have put a lot of their time and energy into making this delicious treat, something I loved as a kid, but not as much after I grew up. I will take a bite and tell them honestly that it is rich and delicious, and that I can't possibly eat it all at once. I will nibble on it a bit at a time, and the taste of the love they put in it will mellow the incredible sweetness. And I will know that I have truly learned what tempering honesty with kindness is all about. It's the gift of respect and love.




A note from Katrina: I will not be getting one of those Easter eggs this year, and haven't in several years. For several years we had no contact with one another, and now the person who made them is no longer among us. But I will always appreciate the labor of love that she performed when she made her famous chocolate-covered Easter eggs. If she offered me one today, I would accept it with gratitude.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Life Is A Special Occasion

It's been quite a thoughtful day for me today. St. Patrick's Day always makes me think of Gram. For those of you who may not know, Gram was not my natural grandmother. She was the mother-in-law of my mother's cousin. After he found out that Liz and I were in an orphanage in Chicago, he insisted on sending for us. His wife didn't want us, and eventually (pretty soon for Liz, actually) we were both sent to live with her mother. Gram's father was Irish, the child of parents who emigrated from Ireland. Her mother was of English and Scottish descent, but that never stopped Gram from claiming that her own heritage was one hundred percent pure Irish. I remember once, as an adult, having put two and two together and asking her if her mother was English/Scottish, didn't that make her only one-half Irish? She glared at me as if I had just let loose a stream of the foulest profanity, and said that it didn't make a difference, she was completely Irish. I didn't bring it up after that, I knew better!

So it only makes sense that my thoughts would turn to her on the day commemorating the saint that is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, as well as driving the snakes out of that country. My thoughts covered all sorts of subjects, and finally progressed to something that I think is common to many families, regardless of national heritage. It's about saving things for mythical special occasions. Gram had lots of things that she "saved for special." I know that she had jewelry in her drawers that remained unworn, ditto for clothes. I'm pretty sure that she had lovely nightgowns, robes, and slippers that were never worn. It always bothered me a bit. She would say that she was saving them for a special occasion, but what was she saving them for?

I know that I am not the first to ponder this subject, or to do so publicly. But I think we need to take a look at how we view ourselves and the way we do or don't use special things. If someone gives us something special, aren't they doing it because they feel that we deserve it? Or maybe they know that it is something we would appreciate but can't get for ourselves. Either way, we end up with some sort of indulgence that goes unused. It is special. So we wrap it in tissue paper and tuck it into a drawer or a corner of the closet or maybe a cedar chest. And we say that we are saving it for a special occasion. 

We go out to dinner with family or friends, or take a small trip, or reunite with old friends, and the item still stays unused. And this makes me wonder what we are saving it for. Of course, Gram would disgustedly tell me that people who don't set things aside will end up never having anything special. But when will we ever find a time special enough? Are we saving all of our lovely things to wear in a hospital or nursing home? Or a coffin? I wonder how many people's stashed-away special treasures have simply been discarded. 

I fully understand having some special items that may be too delicate or fancy for everyday use. And I understand wanting to have something that we can wear or accessorize with when something wonderful comes up. I have begun to think that we put things away because we don't think that we, or our lives, are special enough for us to use or wear them. This makes me very sad. We are all special. Life is a gift, and we should, and deserve to, enjoy it.  I have a beautiful pashmina, for example, that I bought in Budapest. Yes, it has a special place in a specific drawer. But I have worn it in all sorts of weather and for all types of occasions. It has been around my neck or over my head during snowy or rainy weather. It has traveled a little bit. It has gone to the supermarket and on walks to the mailbox, and appeared at wedding receptions. It reminds me of the time when it was purchased, and Istv├ín, the person who sold it to me. It makes me think of my Hungarian family. And it's darn beautiful, to boot!

I'm not trying to say that I would begrudge someone else having it when I am gone. I won't need it any more. But I also don't think it belongs in a drawer for the rest of my life, waiting for a time that I decide that I am special enough to wear it. So take that beautiful nightie out of the closet, and put it on. Slip on those lovely soft slippers and robe. And sit down to read a book or watch tv. Enjoy it. Remember who gave it to you, or why you bought it. Today is a special occasion. It's Monday. Maybe tomorrow you can eat dinner off your special china, or sip juice from a wine or champagne glass. Use that expensive perfume, or the wonderful soap you received for Christmas. Why not? You are one of a kind, and your life is a special occasion. Why not celebrate it?


Saturday, March 15, 2014

I Don't Get It

When I was finishing up a nice hot shower, I decided that it was time to wash the shower curtain and liner. There were a couple of loads already in the queue, so we had to finish those first. And then it was time. I started the washer filling with hot water, put in the detergent, and started removing the curtain and liner from the shower rod. Let me state right here and now that I do not find the hanging or removal of shower curtains to be even remotely fun, or even amusing or entertaining. 

Why are those darn curtain rings so difficult to get along with? If they are easy to get the curtains on, they also seem to let go of them every time you slide them on the rod. You get ready to take a nice refreshing or relaxing shower, climb in and pull the curtain, and then the darn thing starts falling off the rings. You find yourself naked in a drafty shower, trying to get the curtains hooked up again. And if you're like me and have poor vision, it becomes even more of a challenge. Your glasses are on the counter, so you alternate between squinting and trying to do it entirely by feel. You could get out and put your glasses on, but even with the curtain dragging, the shower feels less frigid than the bathroom itself. Also, you have built up some steam from being aggravated by the stinking hooks.

We had that type of hooks for many years, so when we moved into this apartment a few years ago, we decided to get a new shower curtain, liner and rings. I found these wonderful chrome rings with bead-ish things on the tops to make sliding easier. They also fasten nicely so that the curtains don't fall off when they are moved around. We got them set up, all easy-peasy, with the eagerness that you can only have from wanting all of the moving stuff to be over and done with, thank you very much. Who remembers what it was like to put them on the first time? Not me. I was achy and tired from packing and moving stuff, and eager to have a nice shower.

So when it comes time to wash the lovely white curtain and cloth liner, I always seem to have forgotten how much not-fun it was to get them down and back up again. Those wonderful, useful rings need a grip worthy of Hercules to be opened up. So I stop the washer from filling, knowing I need a couple of minutes to get these curtains down. After a few minutes of uncomfortable neck-craning and squeezing and tugging, the curtains are down. I gather them in my arms and start to put them in the washer. And that's when I see The Label.

You know about The Label. It has the instructions for laundering and drying and such. Sometimes you might not read it until you've thrown a shirt in the washer with other stuff that looks and feels like it, and then tossed it in the dryer. When you remove it, it looks like it is just the right size for a miniature version of you, or maybe even a chihuahua. Then you see The Label, which says something like Cold wash only, gentle cycle. Dry flat. Mm-hmm. So anyway, as I was getting ready to stuff the shower curtains into the washer, I caught sight of The Label. Machine wash cold. What the heck? Here's a voluminous piece of cloth that drapes over the inside of the bathtub and gets pounded with hot water and slopped with soap on a regular basis. And now you tell me it's too delicate to be in the hot water I'd like to use to wash away even the thought of mildew? How does that make any sense? I don't get it, not even remotely.

Luckily, the washer has only a little bit of hot water in the bottom, and the stuff coming out of the pipes is about one degree away from frozen, so all is well. When they come out of the washer, unscathed, The Label says they should be dried on the lowest setting. Our apartment clothes dryer doesn't have a low setting, so we decided to just hang them back on the rod to air dry. Sort of like using an indoor clothesline that you don't have to remove the dry articles from later. Trent was kind enough to offer help. Sucker. After spending a few minutes with his neck craned in an unnatural position while trying to hang the curtains, I'm sure he's decided to call in sick the next time they need to be hung or taken down. I can't blame him a bit. 

In the morning the liner will be exposed to hot, steamy water again. I don't know how it survives the torture. In a day or two I will forget the fun times I had and the whole thing will come as a surprise to me the next time I give them a wash. We have to forget our little annoyances or else we'd be tempted to never wash them again. And when I stuff them in the washer and catch sight of The Label again, I'll have the same silly reaction...I don't get it!


Monday, March 10, 2014

Nothing New Under The Sun

A few days ago I saw an internet headline about a new Broadway show. I don't want to either scare or excite anyone, depending on your point of view, but I think you need to know. Rocky has hit Broadway. And yes, the pun was intended. Not just a play based on the Sylvester Stallone movie, but a musical. When I mentioned it to Trent, we talked about how it seems that Broadway has turned a lot of movies into plays or musicals. You may be thinking, "That isn't really true, is it?" I'll start with two words: Lion King. Yes, that's just one story. Well, hang on, here come some more.

Dirty Dancing
Fame
Flashdance
Footloose
High School Musical
Mary Poppins
The Producers
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Singin' in the Rain
Victor/Victoria
Xanadu
Big
Young Frankenstein
Saturday Night Fever
Ghost: The Musical
The Full Monty
Sister Act
Barbarella
Reefer Madness
Shrek
Legally Blonde
Love Story
The Color Purple
Tarzan (Disney)
The Little Mermaid (Disney)
Elf the Musical
Rain Man
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Edward Scissorhands

That is just a sampling of the movie-to-stage productions that I found while searching on Google. This is a switch from what most of us are accustomed to seeing. We experienced many Broadway plays or musicals that were adapted to the silver screen. I am guessing that many of these movies end up on stage because of business decisions. A story is familiar and loved, so let's turn it into live theater. The audience has already been created by the movie, so if it is done well, it will likely make good money. 

On the other hand, it is possible that the trend of film to stage shows a lack of new ideas. I was thinking about that earlier today. Are there no new ideas these days? Has imagination deserted us? Is there nothing new under the sun? And then I realized that reusing or recycling of stories is really nothing new. Do you remember the movie West Side Story? Well, some people may not realize that it was a modern version of the William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet. Or that the story of Romeo and Juliet dates back to at least the first century AD. Yes, it was inspired by the story of Pyramus and Thisbe in Ovid's Metamorphoses

I'll try to make a long story a bit shorter. Pyramus and Thisbe lived next door to one another and fell in love, but their parents refused to allow them to marry. They spoke to one another through a crack in the wall, and finally decided to leave their families so that they could be together. When Thisbe went to wait for her beloved Pyramus under a mulberry tree loaded with white fruit, she saw a lioness covered with blood from a recent kill. She ran to hide, losing her veil. After the lioness drank from some nearby water and started to leave, it spotted Thisbe's veil and picked it up, tearing it and covering it with blood. When Pyramus saw the bloody veil, he assumed Thisbe had been killed waiting to meet him. He stabbed himself with his sword, his blood splashing the mulberries and soaking into the roots of the tree. When Thisbe came out of hiding and saw her dying love, she expressed her wish to be buried with him, and that the gods would forever turn the mulberries red in their memory. She then used his sword to kill herself, unwilling to live without her true love. A good star-crossed lover story definitely has lasting power.

Here's another one I was thinking about: My Fair Lady. It is a musical about a professor who transforms a Cockney flower seller into someone who can pass as a lady of breeding, maybe even royalty. He does this by improving the way she speaks, teaching her how to sound very upper class. This movie is based on a movie called Pygmalion. And that movie was based on a play called Pygmalion, which was written by George Bernard Shaw, and first appeared on stage in 1912. But it goes back to Ovid, too! It is the story of a sculptor named Pygmalion who made an incredibly beautiful and life-like statue of a woman. She was so lovely that he prayed to the gods to make her real, which they did. His creation, Galatea, became his wife. (Hey, I just realized that the being real part sounds a bit like Pinocchio...hmm.)

Yes, there are times when it seems that there is nothing new under the sun. But maybe there are a few core stories or situations that just have a great universal appeal. The search for a "perfect" mate, star-crossed lovers, overcoming our situation and station in life and rising to the top, saving the world, true and enduring love are just a few. Maybe retooling and retelling some stories isn't a bad thing. But I'm still not buying a ticket to see Rocky.




Friday, March 7, 2014

The Mysterious Mouse Malfunction

Some days our brains just don't seem to work the way they should. Today was one of those days for my friend Marie. I had an appointment today for what Marie brilliantly (and I mean this seriously) refers to as my "green poke" or "green test." You see, I take a medication called Coumadin (actually, I take the generic form, called warfarin sodium) which is an anticoagulant, because blood clotting problems run in my family. When you add in the fact that many lupus patients develop clotting problems, it was almost inevitable that I would end up with potential trouble. But as long as I take my meds and keep my levels stable, it keeps me safe. To make sure that the levels are good, there is a test that I have about once a month to see if the clotting time is in the safe range. Something that undoes the effects of the warfarin is high intake of vitamin K, which makes the blood clot faster. This vitamin helps in the photosynthesis process in plants, so it is found in high concentrations in green vegetables. I have flunked many a monthly test because I forgot and ate something like spinach salad or edamame or a tossed salad or green beans. Hence Marie's name of the "green poke." 

Marie picked me up about an hour and a half before my appointment to take me out to lunch before heading to the doctor. When we got on the highway, a combination of road work and snow had caused the traffic to slow to a crawl, so Marie decided to get off of the highway. After several minutes of driving on one of the busier surface streets, she said, "Can we get there from here?" She actually knew, but her brain, as I mentioned before, just wasn't in full gear. I reassured her, and let her know which street she needed to turn on. As we pulled up to said street, I told her that this was where she needed to turn. Landmarks hadn't clicked for her, I guess, and she thought we were further away from the street we needed.

After we turned, she asked if I was sure that this was the right street, and I told her that it was, and in a few minutes she would know that it was right. And that is exactly what happened. To add to the confusion, a couple of turns later we went onto a street that curves and changes its name. It is one of those situations where you are on Yates, and notice that there is a right turn onto...Yates. Very confusing. During lunch there were a few more of those moments, and we both laughed about them. Everyone has times like these, and it always seems to me that when we realize that we are out of whack, it makes us get even more out of it. I wanted to stress to Marie that she wasn't special, we all have our moments, so I told her about something that happened to me about a week ago.

I was having a leisurely moment one day when I suddenly remembered that I needed to get online and pay some bills. And I mean the same day. So I sat down on the bed and grabbed my laptop and my wireless mouse, and hit the power button. While the computer powered up, I turned on the mouse and was ready to go when my unlock screen came up. I clicked on the password field, and nothing happened. No response whatsoever. The mouse did have a little green light on, but no matter how much I moved it, no cursor showed on my screen. Crumbs, I thought. I must need a new battery. So I removed the battery and tossed it, replacing it with a fresh new battery. I sat down, pulled my computer onto my lap, moved the mouse, and...nothing. Argh!

The timing was inconvenient for a problem, so I tried to think of what else could be causing the mouse not to work. Aha! Maybe it was the little gizmo that plugs into the computer and receives the signal from the mouse. Maybe it was a bit loose or something. I decided to do the unplug it/plug it back in trick. And that's when the gizmo flew out of my hand and went under either the bed or the nightstand, I wasn't sure which at that point. Now I was getting really irritated. I got down on the floor to begin the search for the gizmo. As my body lowered to the floor, my gaze ended up on my nightstand. And my mouse. In my hurry, I had picked up Trent's mouse. All of the moving and maneuvering was being done with a mouse that was connected to another computer that wasn't even turned on. Although I felt like a grade-A nincompoop, I had to laugh about this comedy of errors. I found and plugged in the gizmo, removed the new battery from the mouse and replaced it with the original battery, and got down to business. The bill-paying took less time than the mouse song-and-dance that I had been through. But at least I was able to see something amusing about it. And hearing about The Mysterious Mouse Malfunction also made Marie laugh and feel better about how her brain was doing today. So I guess it was worth it!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Mouth Kissing

I was just thinking about last night's Academy Awards broadcast. There was a fun and relaxed atmosphere, which I found quite refreshing. One thing I thought about specifically was Lupita Nyong'o, who was the winner in the Best Supporting Actress category. Her date for the awards show was her brother, which I thought was pretty cool. Even before she won, he looked like one of the happiest people in the entire theater, and she did, too. Heck, I think it's great that she has a good relationship with her brother and shared this wonderful experience with him. As long as she doesn't kiss him on the mouth, like some people, was part of what I was thinking. There was a big hullabaloo several years ago when Angelina Jolie went to some event or awards show or whatever with her brother, and gave him a lip-lock in front of everybody. Naturally, it was a big deal for about five minutes, until something else diverted everyone's attention.

This all started me thinking about the different ways people interact with one another during moments of greeting and departure. By the general standards here in the USA, lip-kissing of siblings isn't a very usual behavior. In other places, it may be more common. Where men in the States greet one another with handshakes, or maybe hugs, men in other countries might routinely greet one another with a kiss on the lips. One of the things I loved about my visit to Hungary was the kissing of both cheeks on greeting and departure. It is a sweet and loving thing. I not only did it with my family, but roped my friends into it as well. Everywhere we went in Hungary and in Paris, the double kiss was the norm, for everyone from a friend to a child or spouse.

The USA is geographically large, and customs are a bit like dialects - they vary from place to place. Take my oldest sister, Margit, for example. She has lived in Ohio for a number of years now, and the last time she visited us here in Colorado, I was surprised to learn that she had become a mouth kisser. All of a sudden my sister was puckering up and wanting to kiss me right on the lipses. It was rather foreign to me, but I did it while she was here because I love her. I know that our other sister, Liz, felt odd about it too, but again, it was something that only went on for a few days, and it made our big sister happy.

My friend Marie's mother, Alice, was also a mouth kisser. I am not sure if she was born there, but I know that she spent a lot of years living in Ohio. I became quite attached to Alice Faye (I love her movie-star first and middle names!) and eventually found myself accidentally calling her Mom. One look at her face told me that this was not a problem as far as she was concerned. She accepted me into her heart, and I was therefore in the kissing zone. When I rode with Marie to take her mom to the airport at the end of a visit, I was warned that she was a mouth kisser. She was a motherly figure, so it didn't bother me. I wonder, is it an Ohio thing? Perhaps my friend Rich, an Ohioan, can shed some light on the subject. If he doesn't know the answer off the top of his head, maybe he'd be willing to do some field research. Watching greetings and partings in the name of Anthropology? 

I'm curious about this subject. Greetings and partings are very personal, and can be very emotionally loaded moments. How do you feel about kissing? Not romantic kissing, that's not what this is about. Does your family greet with kisses, whether on lips or cheeks? How about your friends? Do you think your ways of greeting come from your family's country of origin, or do you think it's a local custom? Thank you in advance for any comments or insight that you might share. If I could, I'd give you all a kiss in gratitude. But maybe not on the lips...