Monday, March 30, 2009

Southern Hospitality a Little Too Friendly

Today's post will not come with a photo. Believe me, you don't want one.

I've always preferred to travel in the South because that famous hospitality thing isn't a myth. Heck, even the mall bathrooms down here are very upscale -- nice tile floors, wide stalls with multiple coat hooks on the side to hang your purse and several shopping bags.

But it seems the previous users in these stalls want to share more of their life with me than I am comfortable with knowing. The first three stalls, in fact, left presents in the toilet. This, after checking out two stalls at the restaurant restroom the night before I found a blank slate, if you know what I mean.

I think we need to teach a few people down I-75 that is OK to reach back and use the flush handle.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't Pinch Me, I'll Be Irish!

I was standing in the closet, picking out today's clothes with the shower running to make sure the temperature in there was good and steamy, when I remembered the weather man said today would hit 70 degrees.

As I pivoted to the rack on the left side -- the one with short sleeves instead of sweatshirts -- I also recalled another fact. I needed to pick something green or I'd get pinched.

Yes, grade school memories can be that powerful. For starters, we're not Irish. My family background is English, in fact, so my ancestors weren't exactly yelling "Erin go braugh!" any day of the year. And second, my mother is a teetotaler. March 17 meant so little to her, she sent me to first grade wearing orange. I came home black and blue. Second grade was no better, except I'd wised up enough to try coloring a green shamrock and taping it to my shirt. My classmates said that didn't count and continued to pinch the hellfire out of me.

It was clearly time to take matters in my own hands. "Mom," I said with complete authority at dinner that night, "You need to circle this day on the calendar and tell me when it's coming so I wear green." She looked a little confused -- and just why were grade schoolers celebrating a bar holiday? Beat me, but I knew the rules. March 17, wear green or die. Forever. Even when you're 46.

Here's the sad part: I have no plans outside my house today. I'm not meeting anyone for lunch, I'm not picking up something at the grocery store or dropping off a check at the bank. We're having grilled cheese for dinner in our own kitchen. It's me, the dog and my husband, who won't join us until around 7 p.m. for a few hours until he hits the hay. (And trust me, if he pinches me, he understands he's going to get a mean right hook to the solar plexis.) The only person who would pinch me is me.

And I'm still wearing green.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

Study: Dow’s Decline Is Fastest for a New President in Nearly a Century

Well, isn’t it just my luck to be around to read that headline? I mean lots of people in this country are born, live their lives, die and never have to deal with an economic meltdown.

I don’t know why God chose me in particular to be among the millions on Earth for this event. You’d think if I were cut out for this, I wouldn’t A) have a passion for travel and B) a writing gig talking about restaurants and C) a dog who ate our expensive pool cover for the fifth year in a row. (This year, he also took out the patio furniture with his toenails.) You know, it’s probably not handy to have a scrapbooking hobby right about now, either.

On the other hand, I’ve never missed my grandpa more. Carl Burkhart lived through that big Depression in the 1930s, and the autobiography he wrote for us is full of hilarious stories of the times. How he bought a car when he didn’t have a clue how to drive it home. The conversations he had with people while running an elevator in a department store. The times he told his boss to shove it because he didn’t want to be treated that way — and walked away without a clue where his next job to feed his family would come from.

OK, that one’s probably more gutsy than funny. And I'm sure there were times he was nervous, scared, and frustrated just like we are today. But at the end of his life, that wasn't what he remembered strongly enough to write it down for future generations.

And my favorite part is that he continued to travel throughout the 1930s, even if it was to pile people in that car and head down the road two hours just to see what was there. He hitch-hiked. He hopped trains, which was illegal and I just want to go on record as not advocating illegal activities. He never quit dreaming of the places he would go and things he would see when he had the money. It never occurred to him that might not happen. He wanted it — he would make it so. He died having visited all 50 states.

I can just hear his comment reading that headline over my shoulder, “Hmmph. Do you have the money in the bank right now? Then go – the future has always been uncertain and they can’t take your memories away.”

I always said I wanted to grow up to be just like him. Looks like I've been handed that chance.

Photo credit: scazon