Saturday, February 25, 2012

Teasing the Children

One of my favorite people at our local bride club is a widowed retired insurance executive. She has two sons who are to be commended for their attentiveness to their mother; however, they are also merciless in their teasing.

Last fall during a break in a bridge tournament, she told me about how good her sons are about keeping her car in pristine condition and power washing her deck. Once a year they roll up the rugs in her condo and clean the hardwood floors. That's commendable behavior, but they  also tease her about the minimal dust they find under the rugs.

I suggested she place some prophylactics AKA "rubbers" under the rug for her sons to find the next time they cleaned her rugs. We laughed about it the whole weekend.

A few days later I happened to be shopping at Wal Mart and walked through the drug department on my way from the groceries to house goods. I thought of our discussion and shopped the prophylactics aisle.

I had heard they were available in wild colors and flavors and was determined to purchase the most outlandish that was offered; at least I was until I saw the prices. Condoms are expensive.

I bought the cheapest available, put the box in a brown paper lunch bag and presented it to my friend.

I wanted her to put them under the rug immediately to give them time to accumulate dust and patina before they were discovered in the spring. She chose to wait. In the meantime, she shared our plans with her brother and sister because she expected her sons to contact them when they discovered her mischief. They needed to be in on the joke.

My friend dithered all winter long about where she should plant the offending objects and worried that one of her sons would find them in the meantime.

Once they were placed under the rug, she worried they would be discovered prematurely. She shared the joke with many of her friends and acquaintances. Her sons were properly shocked when the prophylactics were discovered. They retaliated by leaving one of them blown up like a balloon in her kitchen sink.

Friends phoned her at ten pm the night of the "offensive" to join them at a gathering to share her story. The next morning she remarked to me that she was surprised at how "greasy" the objects were. I had to remind her about the importance of lubrication.

It was the best two dollars I ever spent.

Get the Net

My name is Jackie Lee Ellis. I grew up in Bastrop County, Texas, but now live the suburban life of a retiree in Memphis, Tn. I love gardening and digging in the dirt. Our current residence is in a zero lot line subdivision, normal size houses are built on handkerchief size lots. We're a subdivision of empty nesters who don't want the responsibility of maintaining a full sized yard.

We bought this lot and had the house built in 2000. At the time, we were in New Jersey, and our youngest daughter was living with us. At a party she happened to mention that we were building a house in the Mid-South. Someone at the gathering said they knew about our subdivision and to warn us about the amount of landfill that had been hauled in before construction began.

My husband has been paranoid ever since. He expects to wake up any morning to find the end of the house has dropped off into the drainage ditch back of us. (One person's drainage ditch is another's creek. It's all in the eye of the beholder.)

My people never let me forget that I'm a product of pioneer stock. All we had was the sweat of our brow and our land. The land must be respected. So here I sit. The tiny apron around my  house is mostly sand and ad lib. It's taken me two or three years, but I think our erosion problem is under control. Now it's time to work on improving the quality of the soil.

We have no space for a compost pile, but an article in the local paper suggested an alternative. Since there are only two people in the household, it seemed a manageable idea. I save all the vegetative kitchen refuse in a plastic container in the refrigerator. When the it's fillled I grind it in the food processor and then bury it in the flower bed. It's supposed to attract earthworms and enrich the soil. We'll see.

It should be noted at this point that my husband has mellowed tremendously in 43 years. He tolerates the noise of the food processing of the refuse as well as its presence in the refrigerator. If I had tried this experiment 40 years ago, he would have asked, "Have you lost your expletive deleted mind? Someone should scoop you up in a net and haul you off." And that would have been the end of the experiment. We've come a long way.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hoop Malfunction

In my junior year of high school I rode to my first prom in a pale green Volkswagen. My date was the first person I ever dated and one of the true loves of my life.

I wore a white strapless dress. The full skirt was two layers of lace and a blue bow down one side. It was customary back then for young women to wear a second layer of clothing beneath their formal attire. The bra alone could come close to costing almost as much as the prom gown. Mine was long line with stays that extended down to the waist. I also wore a garter belt around my waist to hold up my sheer stockings. The full skirted dress required support from a hoop petticoat that had a layer of stays running horizontally around it. This was designed to hold out the full skirt.

Mother went to great pains to brief me on proper prom behavior and assured me the hoop was designed to collapse when I sat. She took me to a beauty shop to have my hair done and made me wash my neck at the last minute to keep the scent of my perfume from smothering my date.

We took snapshots when my date arrived, and Mother walked out to the front porch to wave goodbye as we left. My date opened the car door for me; I turned my back to the car and sat down in the seat. As I lifted my feet to swing my legs into the car, the hoop flew up exposing my stocking-covered legs to the world. I beat the skirt down out of my face to find my mother leaning against the door frame of the screened porch and laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her cheeks. My red-faced date was staring fixedly into the sky above the car.

Once I regained my modesty, he helped me stuff my skirts into the Volkswagen and we chugged off to the prom. Oh, to be that young and happy again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cat Hair Is a Condiment

My name is Jackie Lee Ellis. I'm a native Texan who spread her roots from Texas to Tennessee to New Jersey. My husband and I are now retired. Our nest is empty. There is nothing more lonely.

I started filibustering a few months ago for the addition of several animals to our household. I would like to have two cats. I would adopt sisters and name them Purrkins and Suky Tawdry. We should also have a dog. Family tradition dictates it should be male and Black. I have yet to completely decide on his name, but the current favorite is Currby. All three names are shamelessly puny and would sound great when called out across the back yard.

Unfortunately, now is not a good time to bring anyone new into our household. Our Jersey house is on the market, and I must continue to migrate back and forth between Jersey and Tennessee until it sells. We must temporarily be satisfied with a surrogate pet.

His name is Earl. Earl is a stuffed animal currently caught up in an identity crisis. He's a toy moose about eight inches high and dressed in a plaid hunting cap with ear flaps and a green muffler. Manufactured by Gund, Earl is a native of New Jersey.

This is the source of his identification confusion. Although he's dressed like Paul Bunyon with antlers, Earl has mafia aspirations. He wants to be a "made man."

My collection of stuffed animals includes one or two more moose and several snowmen and women. The snow people hold court on the stairs to the guest room every winter. When I put them all out this Christmas, I made the mistake of seating Earl by Mr. and Mrs. Snowman. He put the move on Mrs. Snowman and made a couple of ill considered remarks to her that forced Mr. Snowman to call him out for a duel. As a last resort to prevent any serious bodily harm to the participants, I was forced to move Earl to a chair in our sitting room.

Earl spends his days there smirking and muttering and making rude noises. My husband and I enjoy his questionable companionship but look forward to the day when we can welcome a live animal into our home. It's time we had someone to walk. I need to be spending less time exercising my imagination and more time walking a dog.

As always,
Jackie Lee