Monday, December 30, 2013

Did You Forget Something?

My family was notorious for forgetting things- large and small.  I remember well the morning my
father was late for work.  Normally, he left for work ten minutes to eight-just enough time to make it to the office by eight o'clock.  His morning ritual included x-amount of time for breakfast, so much time for a shower and a shave, the necessary time to brush his teeth, floss and comb is beautiful white hair.  He was  never late.  In fact, he was a fanatic about it and would get more than a little irritated with me when I was chronically fifteen to thirty minutes late.

But one sunny morning in mid-spring, he didn't appear for breakfast until almost nine o'clock.  We were all shocked, my father included.  He said his alarm clock didn't go off.  When he finally woke up, he went to look for it but couldn't find the darn thing.  As he was explaining his predicament, I reached in the refrigerator for some orange juice and pulled out the alarm clock.  At which point, I asked my father, "Is this what you were looking for?"

My brother Jimmy holds the record for losing the largest item possible.  I will never forget the morning my brother told the family that his brand new automobile had been stolen.  He was ready to alert the local police, when my father reminded Jimmy he had left his vehicle at work and had ridden home with him.  My brother was famous for losing things but losing his car was one for the record books.

Of course, I can't leave myself out.  On numerous occasions I have panicked when I couldn't locate the cell phone I was talking on at the time; or furiously searched for glasses already on my head.  And last but not least have you ever gone from one room to another looking for something and forgot what you were looking for, by the time you arrived in the room in question?  I have.

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Did You Forget Something

My family was notorious for forgetting things - large and small.  I remember well the morning my father was late for work.  Normally, he left for work ten minutes to eight - just enough time to make it to the office by eight o'clock.  His morning ritual included x-amount of time

Monday, December 16, 2013

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa:
I've been a very good dog. I haven't bitten anyone or peed on any furniture. I haven't chewed on anything other than my stuffed toys. I admit I've chased a few cats, barked at the neighbors and pooped on Aunt Denise's floor while visiting her. Other than that - I've been fur-fect.
I don't want much, just a few chew toys, doggie bones and gourmet dog cookies. FYI- please forward my demands to my Mama. No more overnights at Doggie Wash. I prefer sleeping in my own bed. Mama thinks it’s her bed but I just let her share mine, as long as she doesn't take up too much room. No more Dancing With the Dogs. I'm sick and tired of being twirled and dipped. It makes me dizzy. Doesn't she realize she's a senior citizen? Dancing is for twenty-somethings and young pups. No more screaming at me to potty when I'm simply taking in the scents, enjoying my backyard. So what if its twenty-eight degrees and the wind is blowing.
Santa - tell Mama no more allergy shots and my vet needs to quit shoving pills down my throat. It just isn't dignified for a mature man of six. And, Santa, I wouldn't be adverse to having a cute little Dachshund to play with, as long as she understands that I'm the alpha dog and number one in Mama's heart.
And while you’re at it, Santa - tell Mama to get off her hiney and take me for longer and more frequent walks. I understand exercise is good for senior citizens.
That's it for now.
Doggie kisses and furry love. Humphrey B.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mama Said

My mother lived to be eighty-five years old. And during those many years of her life, she said many things. Most, if not all, of what she said was funny, ironic and wise. They were full of descriptive, colorful explanations that only a southerner would or could express, such as “cross as two sticks”, “mean as a junk yard dog” or “too big for your britches.”
Whenever I went on a date, Mama would bombard me with a whole slew of warnings and advice, all of which would be repeated each time I left the house with an escort. They included but weren't limited to “Remember you're a lady,” “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” and last, but not least, “Don't chew gum in public, unless you want to look like a cow chewing its cud.”
Whenever I began to get too involved with someone who had limited economic prospects, Mama would say, “Remember it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one.” I wish I had listened to that advice! She also emphasized the advantage of being a good listener. She said, “One good way to get a whole room full of people talkin about how brilliant you are is to get them talkin about themselves. All you have to do is say yes every now and again, and nod your head every once and awhile. They'll think you're a regular Einstein.”
Mama had her serious moments. More than once she said, “You can make a heaven or hell for yourself. It's strictly up to you.” She also said, “The world doesn't owe you anything. It's up to you to make the most of your time on this earth.” Mama gave that advice to all of her children. More than anything else, those words drove home the need to accept responsibility for my actions and my life in general. I never forgot that le son. For me, it defines what makes an individual a success or failure. There's nothing more pathetic than a person whose life in shambles and who holds others responsible for his or her mistakes. Mama knew that and tried to instill that bit of wisdom in each of her offspring.
She didn't suffer fools easily nor could Mama stand anyone who thought too much of him or herself. Which brings me to mama's greatest bit of wisdom, “Don't think you are better than others because you have a comfortable life. You're just lucky.” As I grew older, I realized that with that luck came a responsibility to give back to those who weren't as lucky as I was.
More and more often, I'm stopped in my tracks by the things I say. Because the things I'm saying are what my mama said numerous times, so many years ago.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Take a Bite Patricia

My sister loved to host family dinners, especially during the holidays and birthdays. Many Thank giving, Christmas and birthday celebrations were held at her house. Her taste, like my mother's, was flawless. Her holiday decorations could easily have been featured in House Beautiful. The entire house was filled with the colors of Christmas. The tree, of course, was gorgeous - full of twinkling lights, multi-colored bulbs and presents galore.
The dining room table, with its fine-boned china and silver goblets, was picture perfect. And then there was the food- turkey and dressing, of course, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and deserts to die for. My sister was an excellent cook. I loved her chess pies and Italian cream cheese cakes.
Dinners at my sister's house were wonderful except for one minor flaw-Patricia's eating habits. I came from a family of fast eaters. We would talk politics, current events, books we had read, movies we had seen, etc., while shoving food into our constantly moving mouths. I learned to eat fast in grammar school. I would gulp down the food in the school cafeteria so I would have more time for the playground. Nothing was more important to an eight-year-old than playtime. The one exception to the family's eating habits was Patricia. She liked to draw out culinary experiences. A perfect example of this is the story of the two ice cream cones. My sister was five and my brother Larry was three and a half, at the time. It was in the middle of the summer. As a treat, Mama bought them both vanilla ice cream cones. Larry wolfed his down in a matter of minutes. Patricia, on the other hand, decided to savor her ice cream. She slowly licked each side and took a small bite off the top. Larry, who was watching her performance with great interest, suddenly grabbed the cone from his sister's hand and gobbled the ice cream down in a matter of seconds.
My sister was not only the slowest eater in my family; she was the slowest consumer of food I have ever known. At every family dinner, my sister would talk non-stop. What drove us all, especially my father, up the wall was that she would raise a morsel of food to her mouth, talking incessantly but never taking a bite. Finally, my father, losing all patience, would raise his voice and say "Take a bite Patricia!" She would, but then the whole process would start all over again. After about twenty minutes of this, everyone but my sister and mother would leave the table and wander around. Some would check the sports scores on television. Those of us who still smoked would go outside and have a cigarette or two. After a forty minute recess from dinner, we would all return to the table for desert. By that time, Patricia would sometimes have consumed the main course, but not always.