Monday, August 25, 2014

Nora Ephron quote

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

― Nora Ephron, Wellesley College Commencement Speech

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

GiGi’s husband took off and didn’t come back. She showed me his note.
     “I have fallen in love with Jolene, who cuts my hair down at The Hairem
     so I’m leaving you for good. Hasta la vista. ~ Otis out.”

I poured GiGi a large glass of wine while she cried into a ragged Kleenex. “Otis did everything for me. Washed my clothes, painted my nails, even paid the bills. I never had to lick a stamp.”
Heavy black eyeliner was missing from GiGi's puffy eyes and her hair was flat as a communion wafer. Up until today, a 747 could easily have landed on that lacquered mop of hers.
Back in the day, her sole reason for living was to enter and win the most beauty contests in pageant history. She was crowned “Miss Boiled Peanut” in Charlotte and was favored to win “Miss Outer Banks Sea Nymph,” almost a done deal until fate stepped in and pulled the proverbial plug.
GiGi’s talent presentation that auspicious day was a water ballet beginning with a swan dive. She wore a slinky black bathing suit and black patent-leather high heels. When her head popped out of the water, her teeth sparkled like a new porcelain toilet and every hair on her head was still in place.
After completing the ballet, she climbed out of the pool and shimmied over to the microphone for the next phase of her talent exhibition. She planned to sing Handel’s “Water Music,” to which she had written her own clever lyrics.
Flashing her white choppers at the judges, she grabbed the mike as if it were the Miss America scepter failing, however to notice that she was standing in a puddle of pool water. In ten seconds GiGi was boogieing with enough electricity to power a small substation. Her body shimmied and twitched but her hair didn't budge. In less time than it takes to microwave a jellybean, Miss America Wannabe morphed into Miss Southern Fried Medusa.
 “Forget about Otis,” I told her through her tears. “Get yourself a job that shows more backbone than cleavage. I'm sure there’s something you can do.”
She hiccupped. “Don’t you get it? I'm a professional beauty contestant. I can’t do anything but smile, wave and cut ribbons at mall openings. If I knew how to do anything else, don’t you think I’d do it? I told you I've never even licked a stamp.” She let out a turbo sigh. “Otis did everything for me but chew up my food.”
I looked at my pitiful friend and tried my best to feel sorry for her. How could a female in the 21st century not have as much usefulness as a plug of tofu? Today’s women are brain surgeons, nuclear physicists, astronauts. At my kitchen table sat Queen GiGi, sobbing like the tail end of a country western song: “My baby done left me for that tacky hairdresser, Jolene. I’m too dumb to live so I might as well curl up and die.”
I felt like slapping her into the middle of next week, but I snatched up a roll of stamps instead.
“Simmer down, Miss Boiled Peanut. I’m fixing to air mail you into the present century. What I am holding in front of you is known to the rest of the civilized world as a roll of self-adhesive stamps. If you’ll stop that carrying, I’ll show you how these little puppies can change your life.”
She shot me a baffled look. “Huh?”
“GiGi, peel off the sticky backing and you will take your first step in licking the entire world.”
Her baffled expression got even more baffled. “Lick the world? Why would I want to do that?”
At that moment, I realized that she would always be as dumb as a box of really big hair. Reaching across the table, I grabbed her untouched glass of wine and downed that sucker in one gulp. Some days it’s better to just go with the flow.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It Takes a Village

When I think of villages I picture country hamlets in Ireland or Swiss chalets snuggled inside a valley framed by snowcapped mountains. I love villages.

Louisiana has parishes; Pennsylvania has townships; New York may still have a few touristy type villages, but authentic ones are dwindling. That makes me sad.

I discovered the village of St. Simons Island over fifty years ago. Legend has it that if St. Simons sand gets in your shoes you will always return. For many summers my young sons and I came back to frolic on the beach and eat shellfish until our skin turned the color of cooked shrimp. We plodded the shoreline in search of non-existent shark’s teeth and, after filling our shoes with as much sand as they would hold, we hit the village to fill our tummies with homemade ice cream.

My little boys had grown into fine young men by the time I went to St. Simons to live. Like the Resurrection Fern found on the island, the village bathed and transformed my wilted spirit and quickly welcomed me home like a mother.

Some years later, as hot flashes and global warming took control of our maturing bodies, we bought a summer cottage in the mountains. It took a while to find it, but our search paid off one fine day when a North Carolina village blipped on our personal radar screen.

Saluda, North Carolina lays claim to a main thoroughfare not much longer than a football field. Shops and restaurants line one side of the street with a playground on the other. This is a village where children still play outdoors on swing sets and monkey bars, and residents enjoy hearing their squeals of laughter. I love that sound.
It is reported that Saluda is the town that time forgot, a haven for those of us wishing we were still back in the day. We were lucky to find a village so like St. Simons knowing that we would have the best of both worlds.
People don’t text in restaurants in either one of my villages. Friendly townfolk make time for chatting with each other while munching hamburgers, hot dogs and milk shakes served in metal shakers. 
Should you wander alone into one of the local caf├ęs, someone will likely invite you to sit with them. That's when you will get news of grandbabies born the week before or an update on the Historical Society project. You will learn about the produce at the tailgate market. “The veggies are terrific this year,” you'll hear. “Best doggone corn and tomatoes since 1945.”
There could be a report on the Humane Society’s recent fundraiser when enough money was donated to build a new animal shelter. You may learn that local thespians plan to perform, “It’s a Wonderful Life” in December.
A tear or two might form in your table mate’s eyes as he tells you, “It’s official. Taps at Twilight will be held annually every Memorial Day along with a community barbeque in the park. All proceeds will go to the local chapter of the Wounded Warriors Project.”
My Georgia and North Carolina village people don’t bother to text because they prefer real conversations. They still speak and spell the language they learned in grammar school and they don’t even want to know what major innovations have taken place in the Silicon Valley.
My village people don’t give a hoot about fiber optics because electronics are not allowed to run their lives, inhibit their conversations or steal their humanity.
You won’t find my village people on Facebook or Twitter. They use Ma Bell to ask about a friend’s son serving in Afghanistan or if they just feel like saying, “Hey, how’s your mama and them.”
They support the lonely veteran struggling to adjust to a life without legs. They sit in church with the recent widow who feels abandoned since the love of life can no longer sit by her side. They attend town meetings; they donate blood to the Red Cross and they always vote.
My village people know that when you care and nurture each other it makes a difference.
After spending the last few years driving back and forth, we have decided to settle permanently in the village of Saluda. We know we will miss St. Simons Island especially on rainy days, but that's when the memories we collected through the years will resurface ~ just like Resurrection Fern.