Dear Diary

Hi there, guys and dolls! My girls have asked of me to share my misshapen adventures in life. Starting today, I’ll be posting regularly, basically a “dear diary,” about my dating and social swirl, the neighborhood gossip that I shouldn’t share, workplace hazards, entertainment raves and faves and of course, a weekly advice column that you should definitely read, but I wouldn’t necessarily follow the suggestions given. Hope you enjoy and if you do, please share the posts and feel free to comment below. I love hearing from you.

So here goes!

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

A Flaming Disaster

Hank, the bartender

What a weekend I had. It started out well, Friday night Happy Hour at the favorite watering hole. Hank, the bartender extraordinaire, thought he was doing a grand gesture by introducing me to Chuck, this handsome hunk of maleness that strolled into the place solo. At first, I played it cool, sipping slowly on my martini, nibbling peanuts, ever so casually laughing at his corny jokes, touching his hand only once. When I got up to powder my nose, I came back to an empty stool. Needless to say, I was a little pouty ’til I got closer and realized he had written his number on my soggy cocktail napkin. I clinched it with glee, tucked it away in my black patent purse and joined my friends who had arrived. A fun night was had by all, except for Billy, who lost at the barstool swiveling contest by spinning so fast he fell off. Glad it was him and not me this time.

Chuck almost looked like this

The next morning, I waited ’til at least 10 am to call Chuck. I didn’t want to seem too eager, but I wasn’t going to let this one slip away, even if he did put me in the position to be the first to call. I am modern girl, after all. He asked me to dinner at one of the swanky French restaurants in town. Yep, I hit the jackpot, I was certain. Eight o’clock? You bet I’d be there.

Then came the long look in the mirror. Eyelashes – that’s what I needed. Some big, long seductive things I could bat across the table, sending signals all night long. I rummaged around in my dressing table drawer and found just the set, but no adhesive. I must have some somewhere, turning my place upside down, finally finding this tube of super glue stuff in the kitchen junk drawer. That’ll do.

Well, it did. At first, it stung to high heaven and speaking of high, I don’t know what horse they got that one from but I tell you, the fumes were enough for me to day dream about pink elephants for a few minutes. Kinda liked it, to be honest. After it settled down and I was able to see straight and open my eyes, I got them positioned nicely and spent a good hour practicing just that right full laugh, hand to the chest and twittering lash batting. I was ready for romance!

Chez Luis was great. I showed up the perfunctory 10 minutes late, made my dramatic arrival and sat down to flowers, violins and candlelight. The conversation flowed with the wine and a flirty conversation that I really have no idea what we were talking about, but I’m sure it was full of innuendo. I was too mesmerized at the thought of it going so well that I just didn’t bother to follow it.

Then disaster struck. Chuck leaned in, I thought for a kiss but it was actually to grab a bread roll. As I leaned in towards him, I closed my eyes and got a little too close to the candle flame. Then I felt heat, not of the body kind. And heard a fooosh! Chuck panicked, accidentally threw a glass of wine and then immediately picked up the water he meant to originally meant to throw at me to dowse out my frizzling eyelashes and smoking teased and sprayed bouffant hair. I shrieked, started rolling on the floor, face down, all I could think of was stop, drop and roll.

As it turns out, the damage was minor; doctor says my own lashes and bangs should grow back over the next 4 – 6 weeks. I’m now experimenting with new hairdos and the exotic sunglasses all day look. As for Chuck, he cowered like a baby at the scene. So I chucked him.

The Tale of Val, Sal and Hal

Hi there, guys and dolls! You know, I just love Monday Night Bridge Club. Now of course, I don’t have the first clue how to play. I basically follow along, sometimes I take home a little lunch money, other times I leave after writing a check, hoping it will clear. Come to think of it, out of the 20 or so regulars of us who show up, I think there’s only about 4 or 5 who really know the game. Why do I go? For the pure entertainment value. Where else can you really get the true news of the world and the best gossip of the group? Take for instance, the salacious tale of Val, Sal and Hal.

Bridge Night

Last night started out as normal, all of us neighborhood ladies filtered in around 7. Drinks were poured, snack bowls were filled, fresh cigarettes set out on the tables and teams allotted. We always vary under the guises of good sportsmanship, but the truth is if we rotate our partners, you get the chance to get fresh news to share that you swear you’ll keep to yourself. What’s great is that by the time the next week has come along, all those confidential conversations have been spread throughout the gang and exaggerated in blown out details that by time they reach the subject of the gossip, they don’t have any clue the original story was about them.

Is this how Val gets the yard done?

Anyway, back to Val. She’s the new girl in the neighborhood, still not really knowing very many of us. A recent divorcee (scandal in itself!) with a terrific alimony settlement (she ended up with the big house on the corner, complete with a landscaper who seems to be there much past daytime hours, if you know what I mean), she just popped in one Monday night, bringing a homemade coconut cake and asking to join. Automatic in!

She was at my table last night, paired with Sal. My partner, Betty Sue, was a keen no nonsense play, not above cheating to give me signals that I sometimes picked up on, so chances are I was going to go home flush. Val looked especially glowy last night, while Sal looked a little surly. Betty Sue efficiently shuffled, while I hid behind my cards, hoping no one would draw attention to my recent singes (see yesterday’s post, re. the flaming disaster). Fortunately, I was ignored as Sal remarked on Val’s enlightened appearance.

Val giggled, saying she’s found a new beau. Sal remarked that it was awfully fast work, given that the ink must still be dry on the divorce paperwork. Val brushed that off, she didn’t care. She started elaborating on her new man, how distinguished (would that be old and paunchy?) and smart (wore glasses?) and funny (okay, now that just means fat) he was. The only thing that was a drawback was that he wasn’t free in the evenings (and that would be universal code for married). Val was convinced that she would change that.

By the fourth round of both cards and drinks, Sal was sick and tired of hearing Val wax rhapsodically about this new dreamboat. She asked her what he did for a living. Val said that he was a plumber, that’s how they met. He had really showed up to ‘fix her pipes’ the first time, Val tittered. Sal’s jaw tightened. And what was this charmer’s name was her next question. Harold, Val answered. Sal set her cards down, grabbed her clutch purse from under the table and took out a picture of her precious Hal out of her wallet and showed it to Val. Val blanched, realizing her Harold was Sal’s Hal and Val better vamoose. Up flew the folding card table, cards, pencils, ashtrays, nuts and bolts mix flying (I saw it coming, grabbed my drink in time and in one swift move, slid my chair back and watched the show), Sal lunging at Val, Betty Sue frowning, trying to keep track of her winning hand.

They had a great knockdown, drag-out fight, till our host Madge stepped in, warning that if they break her Limoges China Doll collection, she would sue. At the end, Val was down a beau and gained a black eye. Sal affirmed her martial status to her faithless flake and was down a new green satin wiggle dress, as it was split beyond repair.

I Love Bridge Night.

Another Day at the Office

Hi there, guys and dolls! Fun fact about me, I also do a side gig in an office. That’s right, Barbara Jean — office girl supreme! Well, sort of. I mean, I go there, stay a while, do a few things, collect a paycheck and toddle off. Been doing it for years.

A reasonable facsimile of where I work

I’m not sure exactly what business our office is in. I’ve been told it’s a very important, multi-faceted and an international concern. A big mover and shaker in the business world. It’s in a big city tower, all shiny glass and steel. Looks very impressive and makes me feel glamourous and important, so that counts. Anyhoo, long story short, I needed a job, went through an agency as a temp and got hired. I don’t even think I had a real interview. I showed up, they asked if I could type and take dictation, which I could bluff my way through and never left.

On my usual days, I type a few letters, go out for lunch, flirt at the water cooler, catch up on the news of who’s spending the time with whom in the supply closet, drink coffee, that sort of thing.

Yesterday was a little different. Very hectic, I don’t mind saying and not to be repeated. Ever. The receptionist went home sick and the temp agency was short handed. Four of us drew straws (I’m pretty sure Carol Ann cheated, but I can’t prove it) and I got the short stick. Out on the front line I went. Pure chaos.

It went like this

First of all, I had to remember the complete title and name of our firm. I don’t think I ever knew it. The letterhead I use is from the printers, I don’t look at it. My check evaporates before I see it, barely making it to the bank. So there I am – about 5 names and ‘global,’ ‘world wide’ in the full name. I make myself a little sign so that when the phone rings I’ll know what to say. And then it rang. Non-stop, about a dozen lights flashing up at a time. Good God! By about the third round of wrong calls, cut-offs and more than a few misunderstandings, I think I was answering the phone with some phrase that contained “Henny Youngman” “Milton Berle” and “Bing Crosby.” Eventually it broke down to pure gibberish and then a simple, “Oh, what do you want?” It got much quieter once I pulled the wires out of the wall.

Clever girl off the street

Then the people coming in! Who knew it was such a social place. I just sent them all back there. They could fend for themselves. If they didn’t recognize who they came to see, not my fault. We all need to get to know each other better, don’t you think? Eventually, this sweet young girl came in wanting to see someone about a job. I sat her down, told her she’s on a trial run ’til the end of the day, as long as she could reconnect the phone line. She was so clever. Problem solved.

Got back to my desk just in time for the final coffee break. After that, filed my nails, put on another coat of cherries in the snow nail polish and then time to go home. A good day’s work, I’d say!

She’s Not That Yar

Hi there, guys and dolls! Looks like I won’t be applying for Skipper or First Mate any time soon. Not after my date with the Captain, anyway.

The weekend started out so exciting. I met a man (Kevin) at the yacht club Friday happy hour, looking all fresh and handsome in his sailing duds and Captain’s hat. I start thinking Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart. Before long, I had finagled this catch of the day to believe he had the bright idea to ask me to come aboard his yacht on Saturday. It’s the sailor’s life for me, Yo Ho!

See? Now this one would be yar.

Now between you and me, I don’t have the foggiest about the sport. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Well okay, I will admit to using the phrase, “hey sailor” and my heart skips a beat when the term, “the fleet’s in” is bandied about. Anyhow, I’m sure there’ll be a crew and I’ll look the part in my sailor blouse and canvas shoes. That’s all I’ll need. Plus, I’ve seen both “High Society” and “The Philadelphia Story”. I’ll have the lingo, no problem there.

How I imagined it would go

Saturday morning arrives bright and early, clear skies, smooth sailing. I show up the perfunctory 10 minutes late, and I see the dreamboat Kevin waiting on the dock. He looked a little displeased, muttering something about tides, etc. In my defense, I wasn’t that late, on time for a first date, as far as I was concerned. I look at the boat. It’s kinda small, not exactly a yacht. At least it’s made of wood and has a sail, not inflatable rubber. I smile a dazzling smile and say in a grand Hepburnesque voice, “My she’s yar!” He’s busy putting things together, that must be why he doesn’t say anything. I’ll repeat it later, when we’re out on the water, wind in my hair, gliding along, the perfect moment.

We get in, no easy feat as it’s bobbing in the water, but he lifts me up off the deck, sets me down on the boat. Thrilling! Then as we pull away, I noticed there’s no deckhand or anyone to steer or anything. I asked him about it, he laughs and says that’s me. I do know how to sail, right? Oh sure, I agree. I’m a good sport. Can’t be that hard, right?

You know, it’s not so bad, we glide out along the bay, calm and sunny. I use my yar phrase again. He looks confused and what I meant. I tell him it’s old sailor talk. He laughs, saying I must have been around some old salts because he’s never heard that one. He ruffles my hair in a good natured way, and although I must now look a sight and his hand is sticky from all the spray I had used to keep my bouffant set, we have some fun.

How Josephine made me feel Sunday

Then Josepehine rebels. I’m pretty sure she’s jealous of me and the nice attention Captain Kevin is paying to me. The wind picks up and jeez, it’s cold and before long, he’s uttering out things like, “Tote that barge!” “Lift that bail!” Followed by an urgent, “Watch out for that boom!” Before I can say, “What?” out comes the boom, launching me into the sea. Graciously, he throws me the life preserver (did you know that thing was clunky and made of wood, I didn’t). It just missed me and he’s flailing his arms. In my panic, I thought he was doing some kind of weird dance and I thought how inappropriate. Then I was realizing he was trying to show me to slip it over my head. Anyhoo, I did so and he pulled me in.

After that, I was glad just to get back to dry land. He said I was fun and we should do this again. Yeah, I’m not that desperate. I’m pretty sure there’s other fish in the sea. And Josphine? She’s not that yar. Here’s how she made me feel on Sunday.

I’ll Give You an Eyeful

Hi there, guys and dolls. Having neighbors is great, isn’t it? There’s always someone around for a cup of sugar or to have a chinwag over coffee or scotch (both, whatever, I don’t judge).

Debbie, doing what she shouldn’t

And then there’s other times. Take what happened the other day. I was out in my yard, minding my own business for once. I glanced over the back fence and what do I see? Debbie, peering in my direction with binoculars! Then I noticed over the next little while she kept at it, off and on over the next few hours, thinking she was so clever and not seen. What the heck? At first, I wanted to charge right over there and give her a peace of my mind or a flash and then I got a better idea.

Anyway, back to Debbie. So I gave Biff a quick call and told him to come on over and bring his tiny trunks, we have a show to put on. Over he comes, always game to show his lovely physique. I popped on my bikini under the pretense of catching some late season rays. Biff starts flexing, giving his bod a posing workout for the benefit of Mrs. Peeping Tom, whom I see is now riveted. Biff picks me up, throws me in the air, whoo-hoo! I’m enjoying this. I bribed him with one of my black patent leather pumps (only one, mind you; I’ll save the other for another favor) to kiss me, a great big smacker for the benefit of our spy. Yep, she’s hooked.

Biff looks like this. Handsome, huh?

I called Biff, my delightful body building hunk of male friend. He’s such a beautiful male specimen, sigh. The only thing is that his predilection does not run to the female persuasion, and believe me, I’ve tried and tried again, he’s that attractive. He does however have a thing for my shoes. Loves them, all of them. Once our interests were perfectly laid out on the table, a fine friendship was struck.

Biff goes back to flexing, Debbie’s loving that. I sneak over, she’s so agog at the shenanigans of Biff she has no idea I’m in her yard. I pop up right in front of the lens and shout at her loudly, “Just what do you think you’re doing?”

Debbie, now working with me, not against me

Debbie’s binoculars ram into her eyes, she falls backward, but over teakettle, lands in a yelping heap. Long story short, we have a new understanding. She stops spying in my direction, I won’t hurt her, but if she sees anything good from any of our other neighbors, I’ll be the first to hear about it.

I think that was worth fun with Biff and one shoe, don’t you?

Midge’s Big Catch

Hi there, guys and dolls! Big excitement at the office today! Madge came in a day late, but not a dollar short. I’ll tell you all about it.

Monday rolled around, most of us dragged our sorry souls into the steel and glass day prison for another week’s round of torture. Okay, it’s not that bad, I don’t do much and there’s plenty of hanky panky and gossip, so I think I’m exaggerating a tad. Anyway, most of us showed up except for Madge, who called in “sick” with a “cough.” Poor thing! According to Bertha, the current manager of the typing pool (they turn over like flies, always complaining about how stressful it is to listen to all of the whining…), Madge either sounded like she could have the plague, so we all knew she was fine, just having another dirty weekend somewhere out of town. That happened about once a month with her.

Madge showing what she caught on the weekend

As usual, she showed up Tuesday, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, not a phlegmy wheeze or hack coming out of her. Instead, she was sporting a rock on her finger! And giving notice, saying she was going to be far too busy planning the wedding of the century in June.

Well, of course, weren’t we all so happy for her (to her face of course; behind her back, the daggers were flying and so were the comments in the lunchroom. even I blush when I think of the sailor talk).

So yes, she spent a wonderfully wistful long weekend with the rugged Tad up in his mountain cabin. Among the roughing it of fishing and roaring fireplaces, she managed to swindle his grandmother’s heirloom engagement ring onto her finger.

Midge with Tad a month earlier. She thought she had him hooked.

I say bully for her. Midge however was not too happy. Seems that Tad had blown off the Saturday date with her, saying he was going up for a men’s weekend up in the hills. Looks like Madge is more man than Midge will ever be.

Yep, we’re thrilled for her, leaving her drudge and getting the man of her dreams. I’m just glad Tad’s off the scene. To be honest, I got tired of fending him off. Sloppy kisser….

…But I Discovered Christopher!

Hi there, guys and dolls! Hope you’re all having a lovely holiday weekend. My girls (Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff are Canadian, so they have had a lovely weekend full of fun, family and tradition, with a little Met Opera and old movies to round it out). I, on the other hand, am enjoying Columbus Day. And that’s an understatement. You see, Columbus might have discovered America, but I discovered Christopher.

Christopher kind of looked like Marcello….nice, huh?

Saturday morning, I was out running errands and minding my own business (that’s what I say, if anyone asks me, but really, I’m just out and around, seeing what’s going on). Then I just happened to run into this handsome man, a stranger in town, gasp! And such a handsome one.

Immediately before someone else like Peggy or Nancy snatched him up, I conveniently happened to bump into him at the busy downtown market. Well, to be honest, it was a bit of a maneuver. Every time I would try to cross his path, he would turn a corner, or reach for something else. Finally we both happened to grab the same orange at the same time (well, for me it was the fifth fruit grasp, but who’s counting) and our eyes locked.

A fair likeness of us strolling around town, with me being a little coy, just a little.

Turns out he was an Italian named Christopher, just passing through town. My, was he a wonderful specimen of man, sigh. I boldly took his strong arm, offering to show him around town. He took me up on my offer and we had a grand time, seeing the local sites, making sure to parade him in front of all my friends. I’m pretty sure Penny’s jaw is still somewhere on the sidewalk when it dropped when she saw him and me being on his arm and Anna May might still be that unattractive shade of envious green, but that’s their problem.

As pretty as he was, he knew very little English, and my extent of Italian is just shy of getting through a menu. Somehow through a series of gestures that bordered on unwholesome suggestions, I managed to convince him to come to my house for dinner, around eight o’clock. Bliss!

Not sure what possessed me to attempt this…

Then I realized that I had offered to cook him dinner. Um, I don’t really cook. I burn. I underwhelm with my culinary skills and I think somewhere in the heat of the discussion I ended up saying I could make a meal just like his mother. Where that came from, I don’t know. That way to a man’s heart, stomach thing. Barbara Jean, what had you got yourself into?

We parted, I picked up a cook book and got cracking. After getting all the tomato sauce and spaghetti of the kitchen ceiling and making an emergency run to Chelli’s, my favorite Santa Lucia Italian Restaurant for a full meal take out, including a couple of bottles of Chianti, I was set.

But you know, it didn’t matter. After just a couple of bread sticks and a glass or two of the divine wine, we had settled ourselves on the sofa, conducting a little indoor exploration. Nothing like discovering new territory, I say ;-).

A little later, Christopher and I ate the pasta and cacciatore with unbridled abandon and gusto. Then I sent him on his way to discover more of America. That’s my idea of celebrating the appropriate holiday in the correct manner. Ciao!

Bake Sale Debacle

Hi there, guys and dolls! High drama yet again in the neighborhood! Who’d have thought that a child’s fundraising event could bring out such hostility and downright bad manners in our civilized social set? Okay, I did, but then again I know these viperous women in kitten heels and aprons.

It all started last week when Mrs. Marshall announced that her 5th grade class would hold a bake sale. All the mothers were encouraged to make something nice and the children handmade flyers that were posted decorously all over the place – telephone poles, picket fences, even old man geezer’s (he’s so old, he doesn’t remember his name, we’re okay with that; every now and then we take turns checking on him, he’s fine) lazy old dog had something pasted on his side, he moves so slow (and don’t worry, he was okay with it; wagged his tail and slowly paraded himself through the streets, looks like he liked it :-)).

Sal and her daughter Sally Jr. getting ready for the bake sale

The streets were quiet as everyone was indoors baking away. Such family togetherness was never seen before. And the secrecy! My, no one told anyone what they were making. You’d think we were in the midst of the cold war, right there in our coffee clatch.

Now, I don’t have children. I haven’t even been able to get my clutches on a man to get up to the altar yet, and don’t get me started on the bridesmaid thing. I now flat out refuse. I will admit, I do enjoy the chase maybe more than is healthy, but who cares? That’s another post. So back to not having my own brood. I’ll go out and support the little nippers, buy a batch of cookies or a cake or two. It’s the least I can do, and what else are girdles made for?

Now doesn’t that look impressive?

The big day arrives. The table’s laid out to bowing and bursting with such delectable and decadent treats. And it doesn’t look like any bakery store cheaters, so I am suitably impressed, especially with Martha’s frosting on her chocolate cake. (Tasted delish; I ran my finger along the back of it and scooped up a tasty dip. She had it coming. Last week she snatched the last bag of Mallomars out of my shopping cart when she didn’t think I saw her. I did. Payback.)

All was well at first. Then from behind the table a roar erupted. Turns out Sal had made the exact same coconut layer cake with fluffy frosting that Val had made! Tables were turned, cakes, cookies, pies and even something in aspic went flying. I grabbed the plate of lemon squares that I had just bought from Maryann and sat under a nearby tree and watched. It was quite entertaining. Mrs. Marshall attempted to step in, but backed out when one of them (not sure who) cuffed her on the ear inadvertently and called the cops. They split them apart and didn’t issue charges, providing it wouldn’t happen again. I snort indelicately at that one, remember Bridge Night?

An accurate depiction of May and June, Val and Sal’s grandmothers in the early years

Anyhoo, after the table was righted and Val and Sal were escorted off the school grounds. The pathetically damaged sweets were put back on sale (they went anyway). Lily Sue then informed us of a little known fact of our little clique. Turns out Val and Sal were the granddaughters of a notorious pair of bruising women, May and June, known to box for money in their rebellious heyday.

Ain’t it fun getting to know your neighbors ;-)?

Oh Millie, We Hardly Knew Ye…

Hi there, guys and dolls! It’s Workday Wednesday and time for another almost completely true tale from my fictional workplace. Today’s adventure is all about Millie. At least I think that’s what her name is, to be honest, she came and went so fast, we hardly knew her. It’s a hard world in that concrete jungle and a girl’s got to know how to handle herself (and her liquor) as poor, sweet whatever her name is.

Millie in the morning.

The day started out swell for our new girl. She showed up early, before the rest of us, all bright and eager. We wanted to dislike her for that alone, but she was truly nice, annoyingly so that we couldn’t stay envious for that long. Even when we heaped all kinds of ridiculous requests and old incomplete forms on her, she just took it on with a sturdy smile and plowed her way through the paperwork. What a trooper!

Red and Millie. Notice how martinis can be made in paper cups?

I think the moment it all went wrong was when Steve (or Rascally Red as we affectionately call him) asked her into his office for some ‘dictation.’ Well, you should have heard the chatter that floated through the secretarial pool! What a bunch of magpies. We knew what was coming, having all been there and survived to tell the tale! See, Red loves his martinis and also loves to socialize, especially with the new girls. It’s sort of like our office’s welcome wagon, actually more like off the wagon, but it’s a good way to see how well the newbie will fit with the social climate she has chosen to venture into. Now don’t get me wrong, Red’s only part lecherous, there’s still some gentlemanly manners left in the boy, I’ve never heard any girl complain, in fact, they’re usually lined up around the corner by noon, needing to ‘discuss some urgent matter’ with him. Eh, makes the day go faster.

Millie, taking a break between her showstopping show tune performance

Anyhoo, Millie unfortunately appeared to be a good girl. I don’t know, maybe raised in a good, God fearing home or the temperance league, but she was obviously not used to the mid-morning martini meetings that Red conducts. After an hour or two, with all of us taking turns listening at the door and reporting music, clinking glasses, giggles and some too quiet silences, out poured Millie, hair disheveled, not a trace of lipstick left on her face and grinning languorously. Red however was raring to go, in top form. Actually dictated three letters, attended a productive meeting and got things done. He worked better half-corked, as opposed to dear Millie, who then found the nearest desk, lied down on the floor, singing show tunes at the top of her lungs. By the time she got to the chorus of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ for the umpteenth time, we got her on her feet, popped her into her coat and hat, took her downstairs and loaded her into a cab, using the address we found in her purse. Hope that was correct, haven’t seen her since.

As I’ve said, the corporate world’s a tough place. A girl’s got to know how to conduct herself with the proper etiquette for the times. That’s why a regular program of the three martini lunch is as much an asset as keeping up your dictation speed. Trust me, even though I’m not really sure what my company does, I’ve learned the ropes and have been there a long time.

So long, Millie. You seemed nice. Why not try again when you’ve developed that hollow leg ;-)?

Well, I ain’t no Ma Kettle…

Hi there guys and dolls! Hope you all had a fine weekend. I had an educational experience, you might say. I have discovered that I am not just urbane, I’m very urban, as well. Let me fill you in.

Thursday afternoon I met this wonderful man at the market. As we were both squeezing the tomatoes, we struck up a conversation (well, actually, I kept asking him questions about their freshness, firmness, etc until it was just rude for him not to reply). Rugged, good looking sort of fellow; tall, dark, robust with this fine, slow drawl. A real fine hunk of male pulchritude, to be honest. As it turns out, it was more ‘poultritude.’ You see, he was a chicken wrangler on his parent’s farm.

Gallant Derek!

Well, how do! Wouldn’t you know I was just dying for a day out in the country? Okay, not really, but a day out with him would be the fresh air I was craving. After we had fondled our way through the fruits and vegetables and he was helping me out to my car after gallantly paying for my groceries (natch), I had secured plans for a Saturday down home on the farm!

I got up with the dawn (fine, it was eight o’clock, but who’s counting) and drove out to the valley, away from the smog and traffic. Immediately, I felt my lungs hurt. What was this stuff? It smelled so green, not a bit ashy or comforting, but cold and fresh. That didn’t feel right. I quickly lit a cigarette and that made it all better. Now I could conquer the great outdoors.

Derek (that’s the wrangler) told me to wear sturdy shoes and good farm clothes. I wasn’t sure what exactly that meant. I certainly wasn’t going to show up in dungarees or work shirts. Who’s kidding who? I’m on a date! White ballerina flats and a cotton gingham dress would have to do.

By the time I had arrived, the farm was in full swing. There were farm hands running around, chasing hogs and carrying milk pails, buckets of some rather foul stuff, and other things I don’t even understand all over the place. And noisy? Tractors and roosters blaring, the occasional snort and braying all over the place. And where was my man? Nowhere to be seen.

Now, I’m an independent woman, I don’t mind opening my own car door, if you know what I mean. That’s okay, I’ll find him myself. I stepped out of the car, my new white shoe sliding into a fresh cow pie. I was steaming as much as it was, but realizing where I was, I jauntily laughed it off, being the good sport I am. Wiping off my shoe with a rag I handily had in my car I continued on to the barn, this time watching my step instead of watching to see who was watching my walk, no mean feat given that there were so many strapping males running around the place ;-).

Derek with his catch

The barn was pure pandemonium. Squawking and feathers flying everywhere, yelling and flapping, grown men, crouched low, waiting to pounce. In a weird way, it was quite an enjoyable scene, all that animal behavior all around. Then I saw Derek, literally birds in hand, grinning wildly. I was love-struck by his shear dazzlement!

Then literally struck. One of those annoying flappy things made a beeline right for my head, claws getting stuck in my hair, trying to dismantle my careful updo! I ran around in a panicked circle, trying to get it off me. Then I felt a right tackle and down I went, heels over head in some not so clean hay.

This is enough wild life for me!

You know, farm life is not for me. No matter how wonderful Nature Boy Derek may be, he’s not for me. After I got the bird out of my brain and the hayseeds out of my dress, I rapidly said my good-byes and had a charming evening at home, content with my rather domestic form of animal life.

Beauticians Always Know Best

Hi there, guys and dolls! Don’t we all love a little primping and pampering? Let’s be honest, we all need a little help now and then. As the edges of our years get a little warped and wrinkled (I swear I didn’t have that sag yesterday), the more important those beauticians become. Studies also show that too much sodium in our diet is unhealthy, so it only makes sense that when a gal has more salt than pepper on our heads, it’s time to get those pesky tails of aging covered up immediately.

Bubbly always helps

Besides, I love going to my local salon. It’s one of the best places for the truly important news of the neighborhood. You’d think under those dryers you’d hear nothing, but that’s not true. In fact, my vast experience under the domes has honed my hearing to nothing short of miraculous. Of course, having the right fount of knowledge sitting beside you helps, along with the bubbly they ply us with as the beauty experts overbook appointments while they work their magical transformations, which thankfully gives us time to catch up with each other and keep us coming back for more. Again, I’m sure the champers helps….

Anyhoo, the big tale this week was about Carol. Word had it that she hadn’t been around much lately. Then the truth reared its ugly head. In a hideous shade that could no longer be hidden. You see, Carol did the dreaded thing. A few weeks ago Carol made the mistake of telling her hairdresser what she wanted done and aghast, went against the expert’s suggestion, insisting on what she wanted. Poor Stella, beautician extraordinaire. She had to let Carol the customer be right. Oh, that was so wrong.

Jayne’s lovely blonde

See, Carol brought in this picture of Jayne Mansfield, you know that sultry, shimmery blonde with some big, um, assets for lack of a better world. Stern Stella took one look at our mousy, flat Carol and issued an outright no. But Carol was determined. Even after severely warning and making Carol sign on permanent wave end papers with an eyeliner (all she could find at her station at the moment) that Carol would not hold Stella responsible, the beautician let the customer be right.

Kinda what they had to do with Carol

Apparently, during the process they had to move Carol outside, the aroma from the industrial strength bleach needed for Carol’s particular hair was so strong it was leaving a noxious cloud, peeling paint in its wake. They moved Carol outside, who was happily content, thinking all would be exactly as she dreamed.

Ah, what price beauty. It came out this awkward shade of, well, pickle. As in dill, from the deli. Self-righteous Stella waved the barely legal disclaimer under Carol’s nose, saying her best thing to do was either shave it all off, or wait it out. Another dye job at this point would be fatal to her follicles and to just leave it well enough alone for a while.

“Could be worse,” Millie, my dryer companion said. “I’m pretty sure the carpet doesn’t match the drapes on that one anymore.”

Out to Lunch

Looks like Susie’s not sure if this guy’s even Mr. Right Now

Hi there, guys and dolls! Do you know what my favorite part of workday Wednesday is? That’s right, lunch! If you do it right (you know, find Mr. Right, or even Mr. Right Now), you don’t even have to go back to the office. Even if you don’t, I still love the lunch counter, don’t you?

In our big, glossy building we have a darling coffee shop on the ground floor. They’ll deliver of course, with the cutest delivery boy ever, but sometimes it’s nice to get downstairs and out of the office, even if it’s a quick break. It makes a change from sitting at my desk eating a flimsy sandwich I put together from what I found in the fridge in the morning. (Jam and pimento cheese, anyone? And aspic anything just has to be tossed out. That’s just sad.)

Any menu worth perusing has evidence of being well loved.

Have I mentioned that I just love to eat? Really, I do. Have a perusal over the menu. Breakfast all day, the good old soup and sandwich combo. Oh, and note the “Cuban Submarine.” It caused great controversy and ignited many heated discussions. Not about the political implications, oh no. It was the fact that they upped the price after printing the menu! That’s just not right. Anyhoo, I’m one of the regulars and with that comes special treatment. (The special attention may be because I let Lenny the Counter Boy look at my legs when I slide on and off the counter stool, but that’s okay.) They let me order my favorite that’s not on the menu – a patty melt with fries and gravy. Yum! I say that I’ll just have a salad, so all the girls around me know my dieting willpower, but Lenny knows better and understands that it’s the “patty melt” code. When he brings it, I make a big fuss and that now I’ll just have to eat it. He likes the game and I tip well.

Don’t be a Helen Hog at the counter!

And be sure to observe the proper business etiquette. It gets busy and crowded. Keep your elbows in, eat fast and primp in the ladies’. Nobody likes a Helen Hog!

Full of Glee and Pep!

Hi there, guys and dolls! Oh, the autumn. Crispness in the air, pretty new sweaters and longer nights can lead to more chance for romance and football! Yes, that’s right – the tossing of the pigskin and all the festivities that go with it. Namely, the great tradition of the homecoming game.

The cut-throat world of glee…

I’m sure you’re not surprised to find out that I was a cheerleader on the Pep Squad. Rah, rah, rah and sis boom bah, the whole spiel. And did I cheer my heart out and then some this year again.

Remember the girl who was at the top of the pyramid? Yep, in my time that was me! I clawed my way to the top in the vicious varsity tryouts, beating out the Betty Lous and Betty Sues any way I could, either by skill or outright cunning. It’s a tough world and a girl’s got to work whatever she’s got to get ahead, even in the sugar coated world of cheering the home-team boys. All with a hearty shake of the pompoms and a gleeful grin as wide as the field itself.

Todd hadn’t changed much from those days.

The game was in full swing by time I got there, and so was I. See, I had run into Todd, the tight end from my days. And he still had his player’s physique and that head of hair no helmet could contain. After a little reminiscing of our favorite spot under the bleachers followed by a little nip to ward off the chill, I made it to the squad. Boy, they sure look young now. Did we ever look that fresh faced? Anyhoo, it doesn’t matter. Not when I have experience on my side. I found a spare set of pompoms and joined right in! I could shake my glee with the best of them. Mind you, my skirt must have shrunk, because it kept coming undone. Let’s not mention that twenty odd years (and possibly twenty odd pounds) have gone by since its original purchase. I could keep it together, no problem.

I started out feeling like this…

All was going well ’til the grand finale. I was so into the mood and the kids were keeping up. Right at the final whistle, the two handsomely young twins Rod and Rob tossed me up, all in the team spirit. The plan was for me to land in the splits with a smile on my face. Have I mentioned I’ve gone without practice lately? Just plum forgot, what with this bake sale and that bridge night and happy hour keeping me happily preoccupied. So yes, that was the plan.

Doctor says there’s no permanent damage providing I don’t try that again, and I should be walking normally again in about a week….

Shocking Suburbia!

Hi there, guys and dolls! You know, modern technology is certainly spiffy, but you can’t beat the old fashioned tried and true ways to get the best news, real or fake. Take last night for an example.

Who are the people on your party line?

See, I am on a party line. For those of you too uninformed of such luxuries, let me elaborate. Way, way back, long before cel and not-so-smart phones, those things you see pictures of with a dial and holes for your fingers with an unsightly tangled wreck of a cord were what we called people on. Rotary telephones. There was a time those were the coveted things, the must have. Not only were they bound to the wall, the lines you called on were bound and gagged to your nearest and dearest neighbors.

Let’s say you wanted to place a call to your friend, mother, the new dishy guy down the street (you used to be able to just call and hang up in those days. He’d never know. and if you did it often enough, he might just get the hint he should call you. Trust me, it sometimes works.) Of course, if you got a call, everyone on the line got a little bell dingle, so great fun, all could be in on your call. The phrase, “Get off the line!” could be heard all over the land.

Usually how I feel listening in on calls.

Same goes if you were already on the phone to someone as well. Mid-conversation, you’d hear the tell-tale click of someone picking up the receiver on the pretense of wanting to make their own call (actually, they were just bored, wanting to listen in on your confab). Inevitably that “get off the line” would be uttered by someone.

To be honest, I got pretty adept at quieting that click when I would pick up to make a call (okay fine, eavesdrop, but always for my own concern in the matter of public and neighborhood safety. You know, who’s seeing whom, what was said over brunch, and what really happened at the end of the block party. That stuff.)

Anyhoo, last night I must admit I overheard some rather shocking information. As I said, I was going to make a call. For the sake of argument, let’s say it was to my mother. When I first picked up the receiver, I heard some woman’s voice I didn’t recognize say that the ‘bitch’ had to be put down. How harsh! We don’t talk that way! I have to admit, the shock made me clatter down the earpiece. Then I walked away from the phone, wondering who the heck that could be. I know there were rumors about the divorcee, but really, that was a little severe, I thought.

Of course, I felt I should not get involved, stay off the line. It was none of my business. Right you are, I picked up the receiver again, this time more stealthily. Then I heard Mary Lou say that some he just got shot! What? In my sleepy neighborhood? I thought I knew these people. I checked through my blinds, the bejeezus frightened out of me. Funny, all was quiet, I never heard anything. It looked pretty calm out there.

So you know me. I just had to hear more. Just think of the horror – it sounded like a double murder or threat, terrible crimes of passion at the very least! If there was violence in my little town, I had to do something about it. You know, share the gossip, write about it and eventually move out. In that order. I covered the mouthpiece so they couldn’t hear my ragged, anxious breathing (or the pen I was using to write it all down) and listened some more. It hit home when I heard Mary Lou threaten that he’s in the doghouse now. Then I knew for sure, that her husband Frank’s life was the next to go in this tawdry affair.

I hung up the phone, pacing, not sure what to do. Do I flee, run to the cops, warn Frank, mind my own business or start writing my next novel masterpiece? That’s right. Got a scotch, put on a pot of coffee and started getting the next blockbuster down on paper!

Dawn rose and when I stepped outside to gather my milk and newspaper off the front step, Sally greeted me over the fence, doing the same. She came over, asking if I heard the latest. I nodded, eyes growing wide. “Aren’t you lucky you don’t have a dog,” she remarked. I shook my head, not understanding. Then I got it. Turns out it wasn’t a case of roaming romance, but of rover rabies. The Wagners had to put their Fifi down, while the Browns got to their Scruffy just in time to get him vaccinated.

Truth about Frank. Fido’s not impressed with his new roommate.

Mary Lou’s Frank was not so lucky. Just as I thought, he was making eyes at the divorcee, and really did spend the night in the dog house ;-).

How A-muse-ing!

Hi there, guys and dolls! And another weekend zip, bang gone! How does that happen? Well, quickly and even faster when you spend time in the company of a great artiste. Let me tell you all about it.

See, I’ve always had a thing for art. I don’t understand it, but I try. I can hem and haw with the best of them. You know, light, perspective, what is the artist trying to say, how does it make you feel, all that stuff.

Truthfully, I have no idea. Actually, I just kind of like artists. They touch you in the most interesting places and look at you for hours, and I do like to be admired. Oh yes, and musicians, they’re fun too, but that’s a whole other story for another time.

Reasonable depiction of me trying to figure out art

So there I was in the art gallery, studying this painting intently. Actually, what I was trying to do was remember what was on my missing grocery list. For the life of me, I knew there was milk, eggs, bread and something else…oh never mind. Then I caught the eye of this man looking at me. Not bad, a little mature, but that might mean he not only had experience but maybe now a little money. That’s a good thing. So, I stood there, watching the painting with one eye and watching him watch me with the other.

The glamorous life of artist and muse

And of course, after a while of looking, not looking, I got him to break the ice. I might have had to reach out and almost touch the painting to get him to talk (well, actually gasp to stop me from getting my fingerprints on the work – oh come on, we all know I wouldn’t do it, but it got him to say something at least), but my mission was accomplished.

After he took me to lunch and we were well plied with a martini or two, he suggested that he should do a ‘rough sketch’ of me up in his studio. Well then, didn’t that sound like a good idea to while away an afternoon? Why not? I couldn’t remember what groceries I needed, might as well have a little fun instead.

Anyhoo, when we got to his attic studio, eight flights of stairs, I might add. I pretty much guessed what the routine would be. Turns out he really was a painter. There were sketches, half finished works all about, he was the real thing! And there’s me thinking it was just a rouse for a little creative way to spend some time.

I was so excited! I was really going to be an artist’s muse! Immortalized in art! For real. No need to tell me twice. I was going to pop off my togs and be in my birthday suit in a jiffy, show him I had no inhibitions, not for the sake of art.

But before I could unsnap a garter, he asked me what in the heck I was doing. Oh, so even if I was willing to be that sort of girl for the right reasons (art) he was not that sort of artist. I was mildly disappointed, I was ready to have my attributes glorified for eternity and he thought they should remain covered. Fair enough. Tasteful works, so does being able to show your family what you posed for.

So he was a real, not con, artist. He didn’t talk while he worked and I stood there for hours (maybe it was just ten minutes), and I still couldn’t remember all my grocery list. I thought of everything else, though. The names of all my grade school friends, what movies I saw over the year, the lyrics to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ all that stuff. One numb brain and stiff back later, he showed me his work that I had inspired. Just think – would it be a portrait – stunning, beautiful, a fashion plate? Then I saw it. REALLY? THAT? It was a pile of squiggles all tangled up, I had no idea what it was.

This is a fine fashion sketch. By Dior, obviously not my artiste…

Well, that was interesting. At least I remembered what else I needed to buy – a ball of string! That tied things up nicely after all…

That Ding-Dong is Not Avon Calling

Hi there, guys and dolls! Don’t we all like to look pretty? And what’s more fun than getting together with a bunch of your friends and having an expert glamorize all the girls at once? Well, with my bunch, I think there may be other things that I might rather do, like go out on the town with my friend Biff or quite frankly get a root canal given how catty this bunch of vipers can be, but I’ll keep it moderately chummy…

The Avon Lady. Go ahead, let her in. She’s got the good stuff. Not Milly.

Anyhoo, this recent gathering was for a home party of one of my nearest and dearest gal pals, Laura. (That is, we have different taste in men, so we tend not to poach dates from each other, well, not often. In other words, we can exist in the same dating circuit and therefore, may remain on good terms. It’s tricky out there…) Now, I love Laura, but she has been known to be rather, er, frugal. Okay chintzy, cheap, a tightwad. Now while others have been welcoming the Avon lady, all professional and cheery into their homes, Laura went for the thrifty option. A woman by the name of Milly, who runs her own outfit called “Milly’s Makeover Magic.”

I said I’d go. Even though Laura was too “economical” (her word, not mine) to provide food and refreshments, it doesn’t stop the others from bringing a little nosh and liquid to the gatherings. And because of Laura’s discount ways, the others tend to go all out and show her up. There was the good vodkas, imported gins, wines with labels I have no clue how to pronounce and the tiniest, most delicate finger sandwiches, puffy pastries and fancy cakes to make up for the lacking hospitality. This social set was never one to pass up the opportunity to outdo each other, except of course for Laura. She just filled up her fridge with stacks of food for later when no one was looking (I saw it). Maybe she’s the savviest one of the group after all, hmm…

Laura’s mother and aunts looked as disapproving as this…

She had quite the gathering, including her mother who brought along her two sisters. They sat in the corner, sniping and griping, filling their purses with all the food and liquor they could handle (now I see where Laura gets it from ;-)).

It took a while to get the sales pitch started, but after the bottles were drained and we had Jimmy the grocery delivery boy bring an extra supply of bottles in, Milly had her makeover models (guinea pigs) nestled (forced) into their chairs. I was not one of them, no way. Not this time, I wanted to watch, not be the show.

So ding-dong, Milly shows up with this big tackle box full of these lotions, potions, lipstick tubes and magical powders she guarantees will make us all irresistible to any and every man we encounter. We started pawing through her goods. They smelled kind of weird, off, like something that had died at the barnyard or from some other planet. And wow, what colors! I now know where the wicked witch got her green glow from. It had to be some Milly’s Miracle Milk Mask, to be sure.

I don’t think anyone bought the shampoo. At least, I hope not…

All in all, it wasn’t all bad. Some lessons were learned. For instance, Milly learned that liquor should not be consumed near any of the face powders (the explosions were at least small) and Laura discovered that the rash from the vanishing cream should disappear in about 4 – 6 weeks. I learned that sometimes it’s best to be a spectator, not a participator in some of this life’s games!

Meet Chuck, the Office He-Man

Hi there, guys and dolls! Is your workday Wednesday going well? If it is, good for you! If not, just put your feet up for a moment or two and enjoy reading the story of Chuck, whose day is most likely going worse than yours :-).

Chuck’s handbook for life

Oh, dear Chuck, he’s the office hero. He’s such a he-man, . You’ve got a problem, go to him. Patting people on the back so hard he knocks them into next Tuesday. Taking the junior execs aside if they whine or complain, telling them to ‘be a man,’ ‘take charge,’ ‘own that meeting,’ ‘make that decision like a real man,’ and all other kinds of bunk. And helpful? Don’t you know it! Need the bottle on the water cooler turned and the mail boy isn’t around? Just ask Chuck! Need the lid off your pickle jar loosened? He’s your man! Typewriter keys jammed? He’ll take his strong, man hands and get those keys unstuck, pronto! Need a date for Saturday night? He’ll be there too, or will have a handsome friend to pinch hit in style! I think you get the idea.

And yesterday was a day like all others. The phones were ringing, telex machines clicking away, new client meetings, appointment galore and executive decisions needing to be made left, right and center. And there was Chuck in the middle of it all, deciding this, that and the other. Giving directions and orders all in his lickety-split style. Mr. Capable, handling it all.

Chuck saving the day as usual

He dictated a letter to me at lightning speed and took off to his corner office. I really don’t know what he said, a bunch of garble, really. I typed it up, throwing in the appropriate ‘to whom it may concern,’ ‘of an urgent matter.’ ‘needing your immediate attention,’ blah, blah, official blah.

A few minutes later, after dealing with crinkled carbon paper, fading typewriter ribbon and catching up on the secretarial pool gossip about Lola’s latest dating disaster, I knocked and went into Chuck’s office. I have a sinking suspicion he didn’t hear me, because what I saw must never be repeated. (Okay, not that he knows who repeated it. I have to tell it to you and the office, it’s too good.)

At first, I couldn’t find him. Then I heard this weeping, mewling sound, kind of like a simpering kitten. It was coming from under his desk. Cautiously, I peered around, then under the desk. There was Chuck, curled up like a little baby, sniffling, whimpering, rocking back and forth, muttering something like “Mommy’ll make it all go away and be okay,” something odd like that. I froze, just like a statue. What the heck? Where did the he-man go? Shocked, I backed away and closed the door.

Yep, that’s Chuck

Turns out the boss is a big baby! Who knew? (Well, I do now and pretty much anyone who will listen to me, such as you, dear reader, the elevator operator, the secretarial pool, the lunch counter staff, the mail room guys, I think even the cop on the corner. I think he listened, I’m not sure. He acted like he did, anyway.) But you know, we’re a kind bunch (or maybe it’s smart, we all want to keep our jobs). Five minutes later, he’s out of his office, full of vim and vigor, at my desk, signing the letter, taking another call, ordering more new parts for something from someone, walking around like he owns the joint (‘cuz he kinda does…).

Yep, business as usual. Another Wednesday at the office…

A Veteran’s Day to Remember

Hi there, guys and dolls! Did you all have a good Remembrance/Veteran’s Day weekend? I hope you all took a little time out to reflect and respect all those individuals who have fought and are still fighting for our liberty and freedom, as well as all the simple little things that we take for granted.

These fine men (and the women who served as well) deserve our eternal gratitude

So, in honor to salute the fine men and women around the world who took part in preserving and improving the lives we live, many parades and events are held all around the world. My little world is not excluded and neither am I. See, we had a little parade and I just got so enthusiastic about it, I had to take part. Even if I had to well, take charge and get myself right out in front. After all, I love a parade and what better than to lead it, I say!

After the appropriate reverence for the fallen, I see no harm in strutting and hoisting a leg or two, showing my support. Of course, my friend Suzie has a different way of hoisting a leg for a military man, but who am I to judge, really?

Kind of like me, all enthusiastic (at the start, anyway)

Anyhoo, there I was, minding my own business (no, really I was), when the majorette for the parade had taken ill. Turns out it was a case of stage (or parade, if you will) fright. Trust me, being the center of attention doesn’t scare me, I thrive on it. So out comes my costume (I have such things because a gal needs to be ready for any occasion, right?) and I’m ready to lead!

I started out strong, kicking and dancing, prancing, all raring to go. Do you know parade routes are long? Really long. I mean LONG. Like miles… I high kicked my last kick about a block or two before the end of the route. And then, to my rescue, came this fine young specimen of male goodness. Have I mentioned that I liked a man in uniform. Then he picked me up carried me away and boy, I sure enjoyed getting carried away myself! Besides, it gave me a chance to say hi to Suzie…

Just as I got set down, who do I see but Suzie!

When the Boss Cat’s Away….

Hi there, guys and dolls, workday Wednesday is already here! And what a doozy it is. You see, all kinds of mayhem happened while the boss took a little vacation out of town. Not that we don’t get up to nothing and nonsense when he’s there. In fact, we’re not really sure who he is exactly. There’s this portly man who runs walks around like he owns the joint, smokes a cigar, makes a few indecipherable commands, signs some papers and leaves. So, we figure he’s the boss. Anyway, he wasn’t around much this week, and let me tell you what we got up to.

It all started when the bottle on the water cooler ran out. Well, nobody knew where the refill was, including the so-called water boy, whom we believe the sole occupation for this fine, spotty young man is to go around the building replacing cooler bottles. Anyhoo, the bespectacled youngster we nabbed walking through the secretarial pool had no idea what we were talking about (to be honest, nobody recognized him, so maybe he wasn’t the water cooler kid, who knows). So we called on Big Bertha to take charge. Now Bertha’s about 6 feet tall and almost as wide. She runs the office in the most friendly, yet assertive manner. Heart of gold, but hoo boy, don’t get on her bad side. Say a junior exec gets a little more familiar than a steno girl wants, or the boss denies a raise. We call her in and let’s just say, they see things her way.

Well, that kid sure knew how to refill a water cooler…

Okay, so Bertha’s thirsty and sends this young freckle of a boy to get the water replaced pronto. He skipped to it and goodness, he found a bottle fast off in the corner from one of the bigwig’s offices. He replaced it promptly and fled the command of Bertha before she could find him other things to do (still have no idea who he was). And didn’t he do a fine job. Turns out it was just a little bit of bubbly!

And this is how the day degenerated into full blown shenanigans

And as soon as word got out, the lineups to the cooler were around the floor, snaking through the secretarial and steno pools, and wouldn’t you know that Jill and Frank were hovering as usual, although before long they were sagging off and napping in the corner. And what fun the shenanigans became! There were the mail cart races (Tim and Midge one by a nose, literally over Sam and Madge, although there was controversy due to the fact that Midge’s nose was so big it crossed the typewriter ribbon finishing line just over Madge’s ample, er, chest. The desk hurdles were great fun ’til someone almost lost an eye (got to watch those letter openers) and passing the paperweight (think of that pass the orange game, body to body and you’ve got it) was a regular laugh riot. Of course, there were a few things I wanted no part of, such as brassiere and girdle slingshot shot-put (those suckers had to stay on; for god’s sake, I remove them, I’d never get my wiggle dress done up to get home) or a round of kick the pickle, for even after it was explained to me, I still don’t know what the heck that was or where anyone found an enormous pickle in the office in the first place.

I just want it known I did not participate whatsoever in a round of kick the pickle

About 4 o’clock, the cooler was drained again, and we all started winding down. Most of us stumbled out by usual quitting time, although there may be a few still there, pulling in an all-nighter at the office (rumor has it that another bottle was found, but that may be an urban legend).

So, how was your day?

Autumn, the Burning, Yearning Season

Hi there, guys and dolls! Ah, autumn – little crispness in the air, the splendor of nature’s glory in the changing of the leaves. The pain in the you know what as they fall and clutter up the yard…sigh. And you know in my neck of the woods where nobody minds their own business, one must keep up with the Jones, the Smiths, the Garcias, everyone.

Hence my leaves. I’ll admit I’ve left it, hoping they would just rot and become next year’s soil, but I got really tired of Millie, Val, Sal, Milly (the other one) and even Betty Sue who usually couldn’t give a toss what state my yard is in tsking and shaking their heads at me in utter disgrace that my lawn wasn’t neat and tidy, all the leaves raked away, not somehow offending them with their untidy display.

Most likely a good image of Ned in his younger years. Yep, the signs were there…

Fine. I’ll recruit some help. I got out my little black book and came across Ned. Oh, darling Ned! I haven’t seen him since last fall when the leaves needed raking. He loves doing that stuff. And cheap! One nice dinner, a little snuggle that I thoroughly enjoyed and accounts are settled til the next round of yard work needs doing. Yep, Ned is it!

And really, I don’t know why I wait so long before seeing him again. If I remember correctly, he’s a real sweetie, kinda cute in the Archie, red hair and freckles kind of way. Loves the outdoors, fresh in every way (as in smells clean but also tries a little something on which I’m always game for – heck, if he doesn’t, I will and honestly, I have no problem being that kind of girl ;-)).

I was happy with Ned at this moment

So Ned shows up and all goes well. We get a little work done, Milly and Betty Sue walk by and give me a nod of approval, not only for getting the yard work done, but for picking such an attractive helper. Jealous much, ladies? Fine by me. I’ve worked long and hard to hand pick my stable of stallions, er, friends, helpers, whatever…

And of course, we take a little break. There’s a nip in the air and body heat is the best way to keep warm, I always find. Anyhoo, after a little canoodling I do find it’s getting hot. No, not like that, but there’s actual heat, as in fire, as in smoke, crackling, flying ash and cinders! Holy smoke (yep, had to use that pun)! It seems that we’ve got a roaring bonfire. And then all in a brilliant flash I remember why I hadn’t seen him since last fall. Ned’s red hair isn’t the only fiery thing about him. Danged fool was loco for flames and almost burned down the neighborhood! Quickly I got the hose, bucket and ran around screaming, and managed to get the blaze out. Then I told Ned the Guy Fawkes imposter to take a hike.

Meet Ned the pyromaniac. Sheesh, not going to do that again, again…

Of course, now the back yard looks worse than before with the sooty pile of the now extinguished bonfire. That’s okay, once it’s cool I’ll just spread the remaining leaves back over top and it’ll look like it did before I started raking the leaves. Millie, Val, Sal, other Milly and even Betty Sue can just lump it!

The Joneses Need to Keep up with Me…

Hi there, guys and dolls! You know the saying, “keeping up with the Joneses?” Well, the only Joneses I know personally (that would be Jay, Jill and their children Johnny and Janey yeah, that’s right…) quite frankly bore me to tears.

Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely people, really and truly they are. The backbone of society. People who are fine examples of who we should all be, in that nuclear family. Blah, Blah, Blah. At least they have each other and a hours of home movies of every little thing they have ever done and boy howdy, do they love to share them with you.

Which was exactly what happened to me last night. I got cornered at the market by Jill who really felt we should catch up. Little Janey grabbed onto my leg as if her life depended on it. I tried to gently shake her off, but no dice. Eventually after I said I would pinky swear to come over did she let go of her vise like grip to clamp her clammy hand (why, oh why was it so sticky, maybe I really don’t want to know…) around my finger, almost pulling it off. Charming child…

Ain’t that lil Johnny special?

Anyhoo, the next thing I knew I had agreed to show up at their house and bring the popcorn. They had a bunch of new vacation films they were just dying to share with me. After they were out of sight, Sally May came up to me, handing me a condolence card she had just picked up. She had been roped in last week and felt that I needed more sympathy than her dyspeptic aunt. Great!

So there I went, a big bowl of hot buttered popcorn in my hands and a prayer on my lips for, “Please God, let the projector break down and let me go home.” Guess what? My prayers were half answered. Something broke down, but it wasn’t mechanical…

And there they go. There’s about an hour’s footage of this…

Turns out they recruited (coerced) half the neighborhood to attend. At least we could get it over all at once and so many of these home movie veterans had the wherewithal to bring their body weight in booze. And the screening begins Let’s see, there were movies about them going to the beach, getting on a plane, having a barbecue in the back yard (isn’t Johnny the clever little chef…), Janey on the potty (really, I didn’t need to see that…) Grampa taking his teeth out and pretending to gum everyone to death (please, no…), it goes on.

First sight I saw after my home movie nightmare. Probably the best scene of the night.

And that’s when I lost track. Somewhere between the gummy Grampa and the projector smoking and melting another reel, I fell into a deep, dreamy sleep full of the Jones family antics. In a blind panic, I woke up just as my dream Janey was biting dream Johnny’s head off with dream Grampa’s chompers. Next thing I knew, all eyes were down on me. They had turned off the projector and turned on the lights when they heard me slide off the couch and clunk onto the floor. Just had time to dust myself off, pick myself off, and start all over again. That is, out the door and straight for home. Another successful night at the Joneses…

What Should I Be if I Ever Grow Up?

Hi there, guys and dolls! So how’s your workday Wednesday? Yep, I thought so… Mine is like that, too. Times like this I wonder what else I could have done to keep me well heeled and wasting time until Happy Hour. Okay, to be honest, I wonder what I actually do as a day job. As I’ve said, I show up, plunk a few keys on my typewriter, chase down the coffee delivery boy for a doughnut or two, share the water cooler gossip, figure out where we’re going for lunch, play dodge the junior execs, explain to the boss’ wife that ‘he’s in a meeting’ (hah, I haven’t seen him in years) all the while shifting around this same ratty carbon copied letter that’s dated about three years ago.

Oh, the stuff dreams (or nightmares) are made of…

Gives a girl a lot of time to think while filing her nails. So I recall being a little girl with big dreams. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love my writer life of my Poppy Cove folk and love to tell their tales, but I’m talking about the day job until my brilliant true writer career blooms. And yes, the excitement of working in this big steel tower in the big business of well, something (I still have no idea what this place is all about), this mysterious big city life is certainly one of the dreams I had as a young girl playing grown-up, but of course there were others, too.

She looks like she can land on her feet

Such as a skater. Gliding gracefully across the ice, doing jumps, Salchows and twirls, all the while smiling so hard my face hurt. All the while wearing glitter and sequins. How could I not want to be this? Well, first of all, I had to master being able to stop, and not by slamming into the boards face first, screaming out of control. By the way, coaches don’t like that. That’s fair, I don’t like being cold or landing on hard ice. There’s not enough makeup in the world to cover those bruises on my er, assets. That’s enough of that.

The romance of healing the sick (really?)

And gee, think of Florence Nightingale. What could be more romantic than cooling the fevered brow of the handsome young millionaire that just happened to catch the flu or broke a leg on some daredevil skiing accident or race car disaster? Just think how grateful he’d be, helpless at your capable healing hand. Make him all better and he’ll whisk you away to his mansion, right? Um, more like midnight shifts dealing with bedpans and cranky old biddies who complain about scratchy bed sheets and flat pillows. Sheesh, hospitals aren’t hotels, for god’s sake! Enough of that, too!

I could have been a stewardess. Just think, the mile high club and glamour in the skies. Maybe that young millionaire didn’t hurt himself and was jet setting, just looking for coffee, tea or me? Just think – traipsing up and down a narrow aisle while that the plane bounces around in turbulent skies, pouring hot drinks, delivering food, answering to a passenger’s every whim. One good bounce and I’m sure I could, manage a good spill of coffee, tea but not me in his lap!

So here I am, and it’s not so bad. Maybe one day I’ll even know what the heck we do around here!

What I’m Bringing to the Holiday Table….

Hi there, guys and dolls! Can you believe that Thanksgiving is almost upon us? And yes, another time for families to gather around and share their goodwill and love, sigh. Also, for lucky me, the gamut of relatives asking me why I’m not married yet, is there someone on the horizon, all that wonderful heartwarming stuff. It’s quickly followed by a tsk, shake of the head, and the muttering of how come such a girl like you… Yay!

Now who the heck wouldn’t want to eat this (okay, me, but I still like to bring it to social shindigs)

This year, I mentioned to my Mother I’d be happy to bring my world famous (okay, actually infamous, I still don’t think it was my contribution that sent Uncle Bill to the hospital, I blame Cousin Rose’s turkey, but that’s another story) lime jelly salad, complete with radish roses. After Mother finished laughing, then crying, she suggested that maybe I should just show up at a reasonable hour and with a good date, this time (I still have no idea what that means…). Excellent, the holiday fun and games have thus begun.

But who the heck should I bring (um, subject to the inquisition)? How much to I have to train about what not to say and god, remembering all the little white lies I’ve told everyone over the past year (I swear, I only do it to keep the peace and not have them worry about me, okay pinky swear, but that’s kinda the same…). Getting out my little black book (fine, it’s a tome, but still) didn’t prove to be inspiring. I can’t ask Tom like I did two years ago (I still say that he didn’t give that fungus to Aunt Tina, no matter what she says), or Frank (I think he was married to a commie, could you imagine – wait, that might be fun, no, you’re right, one of the Gramps would have a conniption), and if I never see Doug ever again, that’ll be too soon (not to mention his unruly halitosis).

The talisman of my life….

So what does one do in times of such crisis? Why break out the Mystery Date board game. You see, some consult the tarot, a magic eight or crystal ball, even the sacred Ouija (no thanks, when I asked if I would ever get married, the danged plank flew off the board in my direction, almost took out my eye, only to land legs up on the floor and die a quivering death – never again!). I think Mystery Date may have all my answers. And heaven help me, it didn’t let me down. You see, I remembered the last time I played it was with Biff, you know, my buff body builder friend. Yes! Handsome, dapper and a no pressure date for me, as long as he gets plenty of turkey and can watch the tight ends in peace on game day, all would be well. Sure enough, he was thrilled to be coming. In fact, he was thrilled at the idea of being able to show off his new skills to a crowd (albeit, a tough one, it is my family after all) – bartending! Manna to my relatives! Get them well plied and I’ll be the best Coast family member of all times.

Biff, may or may not want to wear a shirt when bartending for my family. We’ll see…

So then of course, I had to have him come over and practice. I must say he has a fantabulous set of skills. He was stirring and shaking like nobody’s business. Only thing, I may have to bribe him to keep a shirt on til at least the third round, I’m not sure if Aunt Mabel or Cousin Pete might disapprove in front of everyone while privately trying to snatch him up before dinner… eh, it’s a tossup.

Now I’m all set. Happy Holidays are on their way, can’t wait to watch the festivities!

Howdy, Pilgrim

Hi there, guys and dolls! Looking forward to your holiday break? Well, who isn’t? I, for one, am thrilled to be getting away from the neighbors. Don’t get me wrong, I love people (okay, to be honest I love to gossip about people, and there’s no point if you don’t know any people, then you have no one to gossip about, or to for that matter), but I have to admit at this time of year there’s a certain family that certainly gets into the Thanksgiving spirit.

Lil, just before ‘the incident’

They’re the Sampsons, Lil and Bill, along with their adorable (no, obnoxious is more like it) children, Miles and Priscilla (actually their real names are Trudy and Tony, I’ll explain further down). You see, Lil is convinced she and her brood were pilgrims in a past life. I think it all started when they moved to the neighborhood about three years ago and she was bonked on the head from a falling lamp outside the back of their moving van. Um, it was with the Mayflower company. I truly believe poor old Lil was never the same.

Even the turkeys sense a change in Lil and fly the coop…

Now, I wasn’t there when it happened, but it is now a suburban legend and the tale gets told at all the Thanksgiving tables throughout the neighborhood of how following the minor head injury (according to Lil, no medical services were needed, no siree, she was just fine) she started speaking funny, in old English or something, calling the children the names of pilgrims, talking about their long journey over treacherous seas to their new home (rumor has it they had moved just across town, I think they had to cross a bridge). Then she just snaps out of it, with plenty of time to get ready for Christmas. It’s now a yearly occurrence (in a funny way we all kind of look forward to, like a holiday tradition all on its own).

Miles and Priscilla (aka Tony and Trudi). Me thinks they are not amused..

Anyhoo, as Trudi and Tony (aka Miles and Priscilla) are getting older, they begin to dread the upcoming season. Lil dresses them up as the pilgrims she believes them to be and then threatens them there will be no Christmas if they don’t behave. Dutiful, they become. It’s quite the spectacle. Bill goes along with it, he’s terrified that if he doesn’t, she’ll throw him in the stockade. She’d do it, too.

So think of it this way, no matter how loony your family get together will be, it probably won’t be Lil’s historical, hysterical holiday.

Getting Away with it After All

Hi there, guys and dolls! If you are in the U S of A, I’m sure your plans all now revolve around turkey, football games and avoiding awkward family questions. In other words, Thanksgiving. Well, yours truly, too.

Dang it, I almost got away with it

So much so that I tried my dangest to get out of work today so Biff and I could make a start a day early (yes, am I nuts? I mean, that’s just one more day of dodging well meaning none of your business advice, but all the same, heck, it’s family), so while Peggy was over for a quick morning coffee, I got the idea to call in sick. And I was getting away with it! Darn it all anyway, I guess I didn’t have my hand over the receiver firmly enough, because when the big boss heard me giggle and actually say to Peggy that I was pulling the wool over the old goat’s eyes (oops) he told me to high tail it into the office pronto if I still wanted a job on Monday. I could hear his smugness all the way down the phone wires even after I hung up. Party pooper…

Smug Boss

Anyhoo, I broke the news to Biff we wouldn’t be leaving til tomorrow morning after all and it would have been nice if he would sulked a little, not let out a whoop and hung up the phone (I could have sworn I heard a cocktail shaker and a baritone in the background, at all of 8 am on a Wednesday, but who am I to judge, I was just a tinge jealous, between you, me and the lamppost).

Trying to look like I care

I get my sorry self to work on time, sit down at my desk with all the other mindless cogs and proceed to get myself through the day. I must admit that I really wasn’t a keen bean that day. Certainly I went through the motions, answered those questions and occasionally paid attention. Then I stretched my legs walking to the water cooler, stopping to flirt with the mail boy and snoop through the cart (interoffice memos marked private and confidential always contain the best news I find), share the details of a certain junior exec’s reprimand for fraternizing with a senior exec’s wife in a certain said party’s office) with a couple of gals in the dictation pool before catching the news that the grand poobah boss has left for the weekend. Soon as the news gets out, pandemonium. Covers go on typewriters, file and liquor cabinets get locked, one could overhear a few shrieks of delight, followed by the flurry of carbon copies and important letters being filed (er, being tossed away), followed by the grabbing of purses, hats and coats in a mad early afternoon dash to the elevators. Unanimous early quitting time for all.

Now to tear Biff away from his all day cocktail hour….

The Childrens Hour, Thanksgiving Style

Hi there, guys and dolls! How was your Thanksgiving? Yes, mine was too. Far too much food, at least one drunk uncle and so much unsolicited advice that I’m set to avoid my family for at least another full year! Let me tell you all about it.

It started when I swung by to pick up Biff, you know, my hunky rent a date sure to make the female half (and let’s face it, a few on the male side, too) swoon in his charming charismatic muscular manner. Anyhoo, when I came by he was having way too much fun to come to the door. I rang the doorbell so long that eventually I had a great jazz improv number that Charlie Parker would envy. Caught up in my doorbell solo, I almost didn’t notice when Biff’s friendly all day happy hour buddy, Frank, showed up wearing nothing but a frilly apron and cocktail shaker. With the bossa nova playing in the background with glimpses of Biff dancing back and forth out of sight in the living room behind him, Frank informed me that Biff was far too ill to travel – tropical flu, don’t you know? Yeah, too many drinks with umbrellas will do that…

Sort of how I felt (abject terror, anyone) at the thought of going to Thanksgiving alone…

I left the boys to their own way of giving thanks for being alive, pulled up my socks and headed to the family – ALONE! Brave or stupid, not sure which, but doing it all the same.

Cousin Annette, ain’t she just perfect?

Have I mentioned that this year’s happening was at my Cousin Annette’s house? Oh yes, Cousin Annette, so perfect in every way. One year younger than me, and she is the apple of the entire family’s eye. And this year, she has certainly solidified her position in the family hierarchy. Let me tell you a little about Annette. She married her one and only boyfriend, her high school sweetheart, but only after he finished law school and got a job in a good firm. She of course, dutifully got her degree in something benign that she’ll never use, ensconced herself in the perfect domestic wifedom in the suburban house, perfectly popping out three darling children. Did I mention she’s a year younger than yours truly? Really? Okay, did I mention her hair and lipstick are always perfect and each year she always has done some amazing feat of perfection that she just has to share (brag smugly, I’ve always thought) at every Thanksgiving gathering? This year’s was that due to hubby’s (God, why can’t I remember his name, I never can) lucrative promotion, they’re moving into a bigger house. That’s just great.

Of course, before they move, she just has to host Thanksgiving at her house. And of course, it was perfect. Except for one thing. Someone (not her, of course) had the wrong numbers of people and the adult’s dinner table was a squeeze, and would I mind sitting at the children’s table, being that I’m single? I was told of course I wouldn’t, patted on the head and relegated to the prolific generation of Jennys, Johnnys and Jimmys of the clan. Oh Lord!

Meet some of my Thanksgiving seatmates

Now, of course, I’m a good sport! I can always write about it later, even think about how I could bump off a family member or two in my next work of fiction. It could happen. So there I am, stuck in the middle of the little squirts. I stayed with the small chair (otherwise I couldn’t get my chin to the table). Aunt Ethel took away my wine glass (don’t want to be a bad influence, do I, well, yes, I do if it means I can drink, to be honest) and gave me a grape Nehi. I was stuck between little Leroy, who had the most peculiar nose that just would not stop running, no matter how often he wiped it on his (or my) sleeve and tiny Sue, who would not stop asking me questions, like where’s my husband, did I mean for my hair to look like that and what did I want to be when I grew up (like I know the answers to any of those questions). Fortunately I had a flask with me for just such occasions. Then one of the Jimmys kept kicking me under the table, telling me that his mother told him that if we bring something we should share it with everyone (I swear that kid was actually a 55 year old midget in disguise – he kept winking and leering in the oddest way, isn’t there always one of those in every too large gathering).

As always, there’s one memorable event that happens that goes down in the hall of awkwardness every year. Fortunately for me this year, I was just a simple innocent bystander in this year’s blunder. Poor Uncle Vinnie, though. Pretty sure that his idea of drunken nude charades will not be played at the Coast family gatherings again. Wonder if his daughter Cousin Annette will give him her new address?

So glad to be home.

Girdle Overload!

Hi there, guys and dolls! I’m telling you, I’m as stuffed as last week’s turkey. Oh, the heartbreak!

I blame Annette for my dress not working….

There I was, trying to get into last week’s dress with this week’s figure. Lo and behold, the danged thing must have shrunk (fine, it’s not the dress, it was made with modern Sanforized cotton for goodness sake, guaranteed not to shrink). It was me. Or I swear, it’s Cousin Annette’s fault. She heaped my plate with so much food I could barely see over the top of it. And of course, I had to be polite and eat it all (remember I had to be the good example for my young diner companions). Quite frankly, I think she caught her husband (why can’t I remember his name…) giving me the flirty once over and decided to bulk me up so the next time he saw me I would be bloaty and blimpy. Just a hunch, mind you, but I know how that Annette works things out on the sly under her oh so perfect image.

I could look like this too, if I tried…

Anyhoo, diet and exercise time! Fine, new girdle time. Why, I’ll be lithe and graceful, full of feminine perfection in one smooth move. I’ll just get a new extra strength girdle to motivate me, suck it all in to give me the confidence booster head start. Then I’ll exercise. Heck, I’ll wear the girdle and exercise at the same time. The ad for the girdle shows them dancing and they look so fine! I can do the same, can’t I? Just think, I’ll be in this fantabulous shape and won’t that motivate me to diet? I’ll look lighter and therefore, want to be lighter. No more cake for me, I’ll have the lettuce leaf, thanks. Martini, no! Just a glass of water, thanks (okay, we know that’s not going to happen, I laughed at that one, too – I just won’t eat the olives, that’ll help).

I’ll be on my way to Paris with what’s-his-name in no time flat

Then during my lunch break which consisted of me eating ice cubes and downing four Sweet N Low packets, I came across the Libby’s Slenderella Sweepstakes! Lose weight and win a trip to Paris? My goodness, that’s the diet for me! Let’s see, drink a whole bunch of tomato juice (I see so many Bloody Marys in my future, don’t you?) and win a holiday. Consider it done. Then when I win, maybe I should take my cousin’s husband (again, no idea on the name) along for the ride. He can cart me around and carry my luggage. Wouldn’t that put a chink in Annette’s paint job….

How’s that for adding some baggage to the family…

Oh Where, Oh Where, Should the Mistletoe Go?

Hi there, guys and dolls! Just get through one holiday and onto the next. I will admit, I love Christmas and parties, therefore I love Christmas parties. And mistletoe, I like mistletoe.

Years of experience has taught me where this should go…

So it should come as no surprise to any of you that yours truly had the heavy responsibility to decide where the office mistletoe should be hung. Now, this is not a decision to be made lightly. Obviously, a dark, dank corner could be just inviting trouble (trust me, that was the mistake of year one – just ask Debbie Sue, who is now the proud mother of twins and married to Phil in accounts…). Ditto for the supply closet. And not near Slick Stan’s desk. I don’t need to explain that one, do I?

I swear this is it actually the true story of our Alice….

Let’s see, most of the steno pool’s trolling for a way out, aka a junior exec husband, so bingo! Right at the front of the desks, between Alice and Linda’s desks. Between the two of them I don’t think there will be one set of male lips unpuckered by December 25th. Fast workers, those two. Aw, it’s good for morale. Plus, it’s a little way from mine but with a great sight-line, so if that new guy in payables or Davey from acquisitions happens to pass by, I can make a dive in and get a smooch myself, but with just enough space that I can dodge the other way if the spotty kid with the mail cart tries to hunt me down (again) or that old codger who hangs around that I still don’t know what he does other than leer (someone told me once he’s the head, head honcho, could be…).

Even the boss’s wife likes Frank, apparently

No sooner had I taken care of that task and what do I find? Frank from the sales department has removed it and made it portable for his own personal use. Sheer pandemonium! And I have to be the one to deal with it. Sheesh! How am I expected to get anything done around here (as soon as I figure out what I’m really supposed to get accomplished on a daily basis in this place, that is)? Now, Frank’s not a bad catch, given that he’s single, smells good and has a top dog salary, but that’s the problem. He’s become the kissing pied piper of our corporate world and not only are Alice and Linda chasing him down, but so are Peggy, Irene, Madge and most of the fifth floor (including Melvin, from advertising – Frank didn’t see that one coming, I’ll bet).

Sigh, my work is never done. Maybe I should just let him find out why he shouldn’t place it in front of the supply closet. I’m sure Melvin’ll teach him…

Who Do I Want for Christmas?

Hi there, guys and dolls! The season’s coming up fast, isn’t it? I spent my weekend making lists – what to get the girls and the bosses at work, my family (now don’t get me started on that one – from the cousin who has it all to the niece entering that ‘awkward phase,’ phase, my eye, she’s been difficult and moody since diapers and everyone else in between, all wanting something…), good friends and neighbors (even the not so good ones, Debbie, that means you). Then there’s the food, who’s going where and who’s doing what. Well heck, what about me?

So many lists, so little time….

Now Christmas Eve and the big day itself will be spent with family, where I’ll be heavily medicating myself at the open bar (thank God), but then there’s all the other time for fun, frivolity and festivities. Then I could make my favorite list – Who do I want for Christmas?

Yipes, less than 18 days now!

Well, Biff is still in the doghouse with me. That’s okay, it’s the norm for us, we’ll kiss and make up one day but not today. I’ll probably see him through the holidays but I’ve got more special fish to fry and I get a little tired of fending him off my dates, just in case they swing his way (unfortunately, some of them do, sigh; that is, unfortunate for me, he usually likes trolling my pool, at least he’s happy with the catch and so are they, again, double sigh). Anyhoo, my list.

Now I know that usually it’s best that the man does the asking, but I do need to help them out a little, get them to think they thought of the idea. And before you object, i know there’s some really great, smart, go-getter guys out there, but God love ’em, my selection (although sweet and pretty) are a little dim and slow on the take (not, however on the make – that I need to usually counteract with my own swift right block at times, if you know what I mean – eh, it’s all part of the game….).

So back to getting them to think it’s all their idea (yeah, okay). There’s nothing wrong with just happening to run into them at the lunch counter, at the supermarket, or at the department store, just when they’re trying to figure out what to get for their mothers. Of course, all of this ‘happen to run into’ step takes careful planning (possibly in some circles thought of as stalking, but I don’t recommend those circles of individuals). One must know their prey. What are the habits of these particular members of the male species? Where do they work? When do they eat? What is their routine? What are the stores in their vicinity? It takes special operational planning. It’s an art.

Tom, Dick and Harry

Now then, who shall I go for to make the season merry and bright? Should it be Tom the accountant, Dick the pharmacist or Harry the deli manager? After some careful consideration, it came to me. Tom, Dick and Harry – why not all three? I’ve got time and swanky places to go. Now it’s just time to figure who to get to take me where and when. The how’s half the fun to getting there…

Making Things Bright

Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, no matter where you are in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting definitely shorter and in most places a little chillier. And with the holiday season upon us, it’s most likely time to brighten the place up a little with the neighborhood display of festive Christmas lights.

That’s as done as my lights are getting this year

Now for me, those danged things are more a nuisance than a sense of joy. The tangled, wretched things drive me nuts. And of course, with my set (think back, I’m in the fifties) one goes out, they all go out (then figuring out which one or ones is/are out, each miserable bulb at a miserable time and more than one time I’ve had a spark strong enough (whatever you do, don’t scratch that black bit at the bottom in the socket, trust me that ain’t dirt, zzt!) not to worry about getting a permanent wave for a while or being able to form complete sentences for a few minutes (and it saves on a cigarette if you’re smoking from the electric shock rather than a filter tip, that’s me, always looking for the bright side). If I can’t be bothered to rook a friend into hanging them up for me, the outside stays unlit.

The Joneses trying to outdo the Smiths and Lopezes. Didn’t stand a chance….

The competition among the nieghbors is fierce, however. The Smiths, Joneses, Lopezes display of lightbulb engorgement is truly something to see. One tries to top the other until it develops into this huge orgy that I am sure aliens from outer space could see and interpret that our planet is exploding.

The Smiths, just before they blew up the neighborhood.

This year is no exception, with I think the Smiths taking it by a nose, or a bulb. Rumor has it they cleared out the department, hardware and variety stores in the area, hoarding the strings that even if they couldn’t use it, then by golly, the Joneses and the Lopezes couldn’t stand a chance to outshine.

And how thoughtful. Just a few minutes ago, just as I was about to put my TV Dinner in the oven, a loud pop and zap came through the lights, poof went the living room lamp and the whole street went dark. Thanks, Smiths, Joneses and Lopezes for hogging the power and launching the neighborhood in the dark. Weenie roast bonfire in the middle of the street anyone? Bundle up, buttercups. Think it’s going to be a dark, chilly night. Wonder what Biff, Tom, Dick or Harry is doing?

Ready, Set, Office Party!

Hi there, guys and dolls! I wonder if your workday Wednesday will be as fun as mine. You see, we’ll be having the office Christmas party and even though the event isn’t supposed to kick off til quitting time, I’ll guarantee nothing will get done all day (in that respect, it’s just another day at the office, but this time we’ll just stay a little later and drink out of cocktail glasses instead of coffee mugs).

Brenda and Bonnie, a couple of nature girls

Brenda and Bonnie, a couple of real humdingers in the steno pool showed up all decked out (and on time, for once) and lit up (both inside and out this time). Literally. They had their hair falls done in the finest seasonal decor. I must admit, I admire their fortitude and stamina. They lasted all day like that, not falling over once (okay, each only once, but that was well after the party started swinging and they jumped onto the board room table, twirling double time to “O Christmas Tree.” Yes, you had to see it…

Santa Lenny smokes Lucky Strikes

As always, Lenny the lech (aka Mail Room Manager) showed up as Santa. No one asked him to, he just does it. That’s okay, we let him. It gives him an excuse to show off his belly (even if there is no excuse for that). Plus, if he’s in that big, bright red suit we can all keep an eye on him and then he can’t get away with his usual groping highjinks. It’s nice to be able to see him coming from a mile away and be able to make a run for it one day out of the work year.

Yep, a bunch of ding dongs in living stereo, for your listening displeasure…

And what’s a party without some swell tunes. Not sure who was in charge of picking the music, but where the heck were the Rat Pack, Elvis and Bing Crosby tunes? Somebody must have checked out the bargain bin of the five and dime to get this bunch of wacked out numbers. Just add that stupid donkey song and the cross eyed kid singing about his two front teeth and the listening pleasure would have been complete. No matter, at least they didn’t skimp on the booze, so before long we’ll all be singing along in our own merrily high ding dong fashion anyway.

Well. I better go now. Time to refill my tumbler and join the conga line. It’s almost noon….

Rudolph, Not the Only Red-Nosed Reindeer

Hi there, guys and dolls! Less than two weeks til Christmas – are you ready? I’m not. I thought I would be, I tried to be, but well, I got ambushed by Santa and his reindeer. And boy howdy, what fun we had. Let me tell you all about it.

I had great intentions Saturday morning. I got up bright and early, full of the Christmas spirit, a long list of gifts to get and the money to spend for it. I’m telling you, I was set. I could see it all – coming home loaded down with bags and boxes full of goodies and a Sunday ahead of me filled with egg nog and yuletide tunes on the hi-fi while I gussied everything up with pretty paper, ribbons and bows.

I got to be Vixen, the reindeer girl!

Then dang it, I get to town on Saturday morning and who do I see but Biff, all dressed up in the skimpiest little elfin outfit, complete with green short shorts and red striped tights. On his head was the most majestic felt antlers I have ever seen. He was a sight! Turns out his latest new boyfriend was playing the reindeer Dancer in the Santa Claus parade and of course flattered Biff into being Prancer (a natch fit, if you saw him mince…). Unfortunately there was a panic – a reindeer girl had not shown up! Santa was in a fit (you don’t want to see that man mad, think flying lumps of coal…), and Biff pleaded me to join in the reindeer games. How could I refuse when he looked so adorable and muscley… I was in – I got to be Vixen! Oh really, did you have any doubt who I would be, come on…

All was merry and bright on the parade route

So there we went down main street, strutting our holiday stuff. I have to admit, it was a pretty swell gig. Everybody was cheery and we just marched to our own beat. One of the best times I’ve ever had! And then the end of the route. It was a little bit of a let down, we had had so much fun, no one wanted the party to end.

And just like that, Sunday morning.

So it didn’t. As it turned out Comet really was a Comet, as in Bill Haley and…. This was just a little side gig and he called some of his musician friends and we all gathered at Rudy (aka Rudolph’s) place. Blitzen lived up to his name and went on a cocktail run and the party really got to swinging. Cupid lived up to his name (well, nickname, no idea who that sweetheart of a guy was) and got me better acquainted with Dasher (or as I think of him, Dashing), and no one needed to worry about Cupid, he had his arrow poised at Donner (also known as Donna), so all was happy. Even Santa. Last I saw he was dancing on the roof, thinking of sliding down the chimney until he realized he was so fat he couldn’t even fit a leg in. He just sat up there and sang carols instead. It was festive!

The next thing I knew it was Sunday morning. Oh well, there’s always next weekend, right?

Ho, Santa, Ho

Hi there, guys and dolls! Big scandal at bridge night and just in time for the holidays, too. Such a shame. Oh well, least it gives some pep to bridge night.

The cutthroat world of bridge night

It all started when Old Frank volunteered to be the weekend Santa at the department store. Good fit, though, he had the belly for it (apparently beer’s good for something…). Could you just imagine? All those squalling, greedy kids all lining up to whine in your ear and pee on your lap… Anyhoo, good thing Christmas only comes once a year.

Mabel, Frank’s wife, got roped into playing Mrs. Claus. He volunteered her as chauffeur and dutiful helper, all dressed in red and acting jolly (she was overheard to say that at least she didn’t have to wear her girdle for a few hours, that’s enough to make a girl giddy).

When Mabel told us last week what they were doing (she told us at bridge), we thought good for them, how neighborly and it brought us all into the Christmas spirit. Turns out it also sent Frank and Mabel to dip into the Christmas spirits (rum, whiskey, gin, etc.) a little early. Apparently, Santa’s village had a flask or two on the shelves (apparently, that’s North Pole tradition to ward off the cold…). Rumor also has it that Santa Frank promised Val and Sal mink coats after the two of them ganged up on him and sat on his lap. This left Mabel not amused. So much so she left him outside the cardboard gingerbread village and took off with Santa’s sleigh (okay, Frank’s Buick).

Mabel’s getaway was not so swift

The police were not as full of the Christmas spirit when they spied Mabel’s attempted getaway that night. They did however give her a ride back home in the squad car, making them in effect two of the most special reindeer of all (say, Rudolph and Blitzen, I guess), looking after Mrs. Claus.

By the time Mabel got home, she had sobered up enough to be plenty mad at Frank and locked him out for the night. Thus starting a new Christmas tradition in our little suburb. We know the season has truly started when the sight of Val, Santa Frank and Sal stroll through the neighborhood, arm in arm on a cold winter’s night.

Val, Santa and Sal all cozy for Christmas

By bridge night, all was mended. Mabel wiped the floor with Val and Sal. In about ten years, they should owe her enough in bridge losses to have paid for the coats. Frank now has to stay home.

Helping Out the Boss is Hard Work

Hi there, guys and dolls! Workday Wednesday is here and I made sure my boss had a doozy of one. Let me tell you all about it.

I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business (well, actually, I was listening to Patty Sue tell me what she heard from Linda Lee that Debbie May had gotten up to on the weekend, that’ll be for another time…) when the big old goat (boss) came up to my desk, asking for a favor.

Now, I don’t like when he does that. It usually involves something I don’t want to do and really shouldn’t, but I can’t refuse, well, cuz he’s the boss. Anyhoo, when he hauled me into his office, he told me he was in a real pickle because he still didn’t get his wife a Christmas present and had no idea what to get her. He figured me being a girl and all that I would know exactly what she’d want (really, she’s an ancient old prune and picked this old goat to stay married to, so how the heck would I know what she wanted, other than a bag of money…).

Now usually I’m all for getting out of the office, but today was spiked coffee day thanks to Chuckie, the coffee wagon kid and he was one swell little bartender. The annual event always turned out to be quite the happening. When I started to object, the boss said it was an order, so I dejectedly slunk out his office, grabbed my purse and hat and steeled myself with a slug from the coffee cart to face the shopping hordes.

Oh yes, Christmas shopping….

The department store was packed and vicious. People getting into fisty cuffs over ties and scarves, kids wailing as they were dragged up the escalators. I think someone lost a shoe somewhere. It was mayhem and pandemonium everywhere. That man owed me one. Or two. Or three. Or, at least my new holiday party dress on his charge account. That’ll work.

I made a beeline for the formal dresses department (forget good or better dresses, I’m going for the goods). Oh, the fun I had. The sales ladies pampered me, showing me such gorgeous numbers, plying me with champagne. And did I pick out the sexiest, most darling strapless blue number! Then as I signed the chit for the account (boy, there were a lot of zeros and a comma in that dollar sign combo, I think), the voice over the store’s PA system announced that it was now closing time.

My new holiday dress. Thanks, boss!

Sheer panic! What the heck what I going to get Mrs. Old Goat? I stopped at a table with a picture of a woman on the sales sign and picked up this rather heavy, rectangular object. Felt valuable, like something of substance, and like it was a women’s type of gift. Perfect. I signed for it and arranged for wrapping and delivery to the boss’s house. Done!

What the boss’s wife got. Oops.

I was so happy when I got home, such a successful day! As I put my feet up and played with my new dress, I had a good look at the receipts. Looks like the dress won’t be the only thing I’ll have to smooth over with the boss when the bill comes in the new year. Turns out the wife’s substantial present was a bathroom scale. Wonder if they’ll still be married in January….

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more posts. And don’t forget to give my Poppy Cove Mysteries a try if you haven’t already.

Toodles, Barbara Jean