The number on my cell phone had a 212 area code, so I just let it go to voicemail. I picked up my messages during lunch yesterday and almost dropped my phone in disbelief. It was a very friendly voice on the message not trying to sell me anything or interest me in a timeshare for an extraordinary price, but to tell me I had won a contest. Specifically a Christmas “memorable memories” contest I had entered online last November and promptly forgot about. My essay was chosen as the winner! I am sure dogs in the general vicinity of my school were howling in protest at my squeals in the range just above the perception threshold of the human ear. My co-workers had a look of concern and a little fear watching me flap around my office screaming, having no idea if my response was something good or something very, very bad. Luckily, they stuck around just in case they needed to call 911.
I just opened up my email and a new message popped up. This is exactly what it said: Introducing a new way to meet senior men on Match.com. Whaaa??? I couldn’t help myself but open the message with outrage and indignation. There on my screen was an innoucous, slightly wrinkled and greying couple smiling in an embrace. Don’t get me wrong, a silver fox is very attractive, but the term “seniors” sent a shiver down my spine. Is this my demographic now? Hell to the no on this one, people. If I want to meet “seniors in an area near me”, I will head to the retirement home or the four o’clock twilight showing of the latest movies with Helen Mirren, but not for dating!! I am really upset!
Words are powerful. They can be spewed out like venom in anger, the damage not recoverable, or they can be whispered in a caress that makes your heart swell with absolute joy. I think most people have been on the receiving (and giving) ends of both. Watching the Hope for Haiti telethon last week I was reminded of the power of words as both celebrities and victims spoke of the horrors of the past days in Port-Au-Prince. The most powerful were spoken by the survivors.
It seems everyday we are deluged with images of young 20 something Hollywood doing stupid, self-absorbed or dangerous things and being celebrated for it. It saddens me to know that the extreme “look at me” behavior of these young women is being offered as role models for tweens and teens in this country. But there are exceptions to this indulgent generation of me-ism in America. Jamie and Ali McMurtrie are two twenty year olds from Pennsylvania. You might have heard their names mentioned on CNN this week during the coverage of Haiti. They aren’t famous for who they are or what they do, but they should be.
“I’m booooorrrred” my fourteen year old moaned. “No one can do anything tonight and I am stuck here with you” he moped with obvious disdain. “Uh, thanks?” I said as I pulled the figurative knife out of my back. He is often bored on a Friday night if he cannot be out and about with friends, with my job being demoted to chauffeur. The absolute worst way to spend a Friday night apparently when you are fourteen is to have to stay at home…with your parents. And this is all my fault.
You know the feeling you get when you have a whole, unexpected day to yourself or you buy a mega-millions lotto ticket and the pot is up to 167 million or so? The feeling that anything is possible? I love that feeling. I let my mind wander to how I would help my family, change people’s lives and how vast the possibilities ahead look. I tend to be a pretty practical person and I don’t really allow myself the luxury of daydreaming too often as there just isn’t time. Also, I am really trying to appreciate what I have and where I am in my life instead of wishing it away. But maybe the cold weather and the cocooning that it inspires has given me a different point of view.
Driving through Dunwoody, I checked my convoluted mapquest directions and headed towards Georgia Perimeter College. I pulled into the rainy parking lot and made my way into a small, warm auditorium. I paused to look at the sign for a moment, Atlanta Writer’s Club, established 1914. A little chill ran up my spine as I was taking a step towards becoming a writer. Writing and being a writer are just not the same thing.
On another rainy, cold Saturday I walked the aisles of the local grocery filling the cart with all the necessities for the week ahead. I rolled up to the deli counter and waited patiently for my turn. The young kid behind the case asked for my order and began a discussion with his co-worker about how the deli would probably be completely automatized in the future, putting him out of a job. He moped and went on to complain that the customers probably wouldn’t even mind talking to a computerized meat slicer as it would be more efficient. I disagreed and opined that I would much prefer a human face behind the counter to interact with than a robot slice and dice. Bad idea.
Before I had my children, I noticed the extreme difference between working with boys and girls as a therapist. I had a giant bucket of Potato Head people in my therapy office and watched with interest as the boys made Potato Head boys who wrestled and ”killed each other dead”. The girls made a boy Potato Head and a girl Potato Head and they went on dates and got married. These are the children raised by enlightened mothers in the 90s intent on nurturing gender neutral, peace loving children (how did that work out??). My former mother in law told me how she didn’t let her boys play with guns, but they chewed their toast into pistols and dueled across the breakfast table. So when I found out my baby was a boy, in spite of or maybe because of the fact that I grew up with brothers (or “little bothers” as Adam called Eric for a while), I was a little worried. I remember being very pregnant with my oldest son Adam and talking to my mom and mother in law at my baby shower. I showed them one of my gifts, “What to Expect When You Are Expecting”, and told them that if I had any questions about this mom business that they couldn’t answer, I would just look it up in the book (this was in the old days, before Google). I said this with a serious face and they almost snorted their punch through their noses they were laughing so hard. They pulled themselves together and said simultaneously, “Good luck with that!” What did they know about having a boy that I didn’t? Plenty.
If you watch American Idol, you know you have this catchy tune rolling around in your head, admit it. Larry Platt (aka General Platt) was a 62 year old wild card in the Atlanta auditions that aired last week on Fox. Watching him walk to the small stage, I prepared myself for another person, to quote Platt himself, “looking like a fool.” But I watched with amusement as he sang and danced about a fashion don’t that continues to confound me-boys who wear there pants around their knees. Crack is wack people, didn’t you know that???