Thursday, May 17, 2012

Standards



I have always avoided the sun and was shocked to learn earlier this week that the bump on the back of my upper arm was a small skin cancer.  The physical discomfort of having it removed wasn't nearly as painful as the blow to my ego.  Sun bathing has always been one of my least favorite activities.  It makes me feel nauseous and faint.  Why isn't being pale enough to glow in the dark just as sexy as being tan?

I also had to have two fillings replaced this week.  Just when I finally learned his name, our dentist retired leaving us in the hands of a neophyte who appears to be twelve or so.  The new kid lacks his predecessor's sense of humor and gift for gab, but at least he has a deft touch with the needle.  Like many others in my age group, my earliest experiences at the dentist have given me a life-long dread of the routine application of Novocaine. 

In the summer between the second and third grade, I fell on the back porch steps and broke the corner off my first permanent tooth.  It became infected despite frequent visits to the pediatric dentist and had to be pulled.  The extraction was excruciating and made me the only child in third grade with a partial plate.

The dentist presented the situation in the best possible light when it became apparent the tooth would have to be pulled.  He described in great detail how much fun I could have flopping the plate out on my tongue and waving it about.

"Don't even think about it." Mother said as we left the dentist's office.  "You keep that plate in your mouth at all times."

I knew that tone of voice.  It was that of the Ultimate Standard Bearer.  The list of Thou Shalt Nots was much longer and more involved in my childhood than today.  Back then a young lady did not walk around in public with something to eat or drink in her hand.  If you had to smoke, it could only be done while seated.  Dancing was great fun, but ladies never wiggled their shoulders.

Proper attire included constrictive underclothing that kept all the rounded features of the feminine physique from jiggling.  Those who wore hats to church understood that it had to be accompanied by gloves, preferably white, and heels and stockings.

Mother's greatest scorn was reserved for gum chewers.  She had a scathing poem about them.  I've forgotten most of it but know it ended with a comparison of a gum chewing girl and a cud chewing cow.  It was the thoughtful expression on the face of the cow.

It's amazing how much can change in just one generation.





Friday, May 11, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Peaks and Valleys of Wednesday

My Wednesday morning started early with a brief prayer service at an Episcopal Church downtown followed by breakfast with the homeless and nearby neighbors who live on the edge of hunger.  I was asked to pass the collection plate.  The young man who sleeps on a filthy towel on the front porch of the church gave a penny.

Our church recently bought a small strip of land at the end of its parking lot and has started a neighborhood garden there.  Some of the breakfast crew walked several blocks north of the church picking up trash and visiting with neighbors while the rest of us pulled out the water hose and gardening tools.   One man ran a tiller along side the chain link fence that stands between the parking lot and vacant lot.  Okra and sunflower seedlings stood nearby ready to be planted in the freshly turned earth.

It was a beautiful bright sunny day just warm enough to make you happy to be outside.  The man pushing the tiller took a break and pulled out his bagpipes to make a happy noise.  This brought the residents from across the street out to investigate.  The consultant from the neighborhood gardening effort was there with his dog, Willow.  Willow is an Australian herder with white eyes and a grey coat with black spots.  He also has sensitive ears and tried to hide from the melodic bagpipe.

An older man who makes the oatmeal every week for our breakfast came out to view the progress on the new project.  He lives in the general neighborhood in a house built from a design he suspects was made by Frank Lloyd Wright.  He also has reason to believe the house was ordered from Sears.  We left together.  If I had suspected he was headed home, I would have been sorely tempted to follow him just to see the house from the outside.

I picked up a salad to go on my way to one of the local art museums.  A curvaceous Black woman with perfect makeup and two inch long artificial eyelashes stopped me at the gate.  I stated my business.  She spoke into the microphone attached to the shoulder of her uniform to confirm with her commander that the lecture I planned to attend was indeed on the schedule.  In an equally feminine voice, the commander gave instructions on where I should park.   It was a perfect day to sit in the car in the shade with the windows down.  Memphis is a fragrant city this time of year with the honeysuckle and magnolias in bloom.

It is good to sit with a friend among like minded people and listen to a beautiful young pregnant woman talk about an art exhibit she's spent two years planning.  I have one basic standard for paintings.  I imagine myself in the throes of an intestinal virus with the picture hanging directly opposite my bed and ask would this picture make me feel better or worse. 

I shoe shopped after the lecture and flirted with the idea of buying an orange and hot pink pair of wedgies but talked myself out of them; no arch support.  I came away with yet another pair of sensible black sandals.

The people who attend a bridge class with me on Saturdays also meet at a local coffee shop on Wednesday afternoons to discuss the latest lesson.  This one left me excited about the game and eager to play.

On the drive between my house and the bridge club, I must have collected a large black cloud of bad karma becaue my bridge game last night was a comedy of errors.  It was one of those times when my partner and I could not win for losing.  It was a four round event.  We lost the last one by 59 points.  That has to be a record, but it was the end of a good and memorable day nonetheless.