Oh No, She Didn’t

When a trip to Walmart results in deep thoughts about face creams and “jowl alerts.”

I am not a grandma. It’s important for mto say this because I just got an ego beat down at Walmart. Could I be a grandma? Sure. Could I be a grandmother to a 22-year-old? Yes, I mean biologically speaking, I guess I could be, but a lot of tumultuous twists and turns would have had to happen for that to take place. And for the record, Walmart should be a safe space concerning your appearance. You should be able to walk into any Walmart and as long as you’ve got on a bra you’re Miss America.

Imagine my shock when I was standing in a Walmart check-out line with some plastic hangers chatting up the woman behind me about moving kids into dorm rooms and seeing kids graduate college. You know, the whole cycle of life thing and then being asked, with a straight face if the 22-year-old “child” I had mentioned was my grandson.

This caught me so off guard I was, at first, rendered speechless. My immediate thought was, “Oh no, she didn’t.” I responded with a smile that I hoped conveyed that I thought she was mentally unbalanced for asking that question and responded with, “No, the 22-year-old is my oldest CHILD.”

This cretin, who looked to be in her late 30s, didn’t even seem embarrassed or even attempt to back pedal (and I wanted to see some first-rate backpedaling). She just shrugged her shoulders and crooned, “Oh, I would have thought grandmother.”

By this time, I was clutching my Walmart Mainstay 18 pack of plastic hangers with all my might because if I let go someone was going down. I channeled my mother, smiled back at her again and said, “Well, aren’t you sweet,” which is southern for “insert four letter word here” and then “you.”

Once I checked out I held my apparently very aged head high and did my best swagger walk out of Walmart. Unfortunately, I had hurt my knee a couple of days ago so it was more of a swagger stumble. At best, it was a Captain Hook – inspired peg leg pirate swagger. But, I still owned it. No one was going to age shame me and think I minded in the least.

When I got to my car I immediately did a thorough inspection of my face in the most unforgiving mirror known to man –   a rearview mirror on a sunny day – and concluded that perhaps it was time to do what I had been tenaciously avoiding. Yep, I had to admit that I needed to up my game and so I ventured to where no woman in the deep throes of advanced middle age wants to go – the department store makeup counter.

It’s not that I don’t like makeup or face creams. It’s just that I hate that the new sales tactic seems to be pointing out your flaws. One time I was told that I needed to be on “jowl alert.” Not just any jowl alert, mind you, but a “Defcon 2.” Ouch.

I also don’t appreciate being assaulted with dire predictions of “rapid advanced onset aging.”

Excuse me, that the only sunscreen in my childhood was Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil. No one had ever heard of SPF’s. If you had asked me what an SPF was back in the day I would have looked up from drinking a TAB while reading “Young Miss” magazine and responded with a “I dunno.”   

What happened to wooing the customer? I want to be told that I look amazing and with just a little dollop on of this and that I would be beyond stunning. Instead, I have to give myself a pep talk before I darken the Lancôme counter at Macy’s.

Hey, wait a minute. I think I’ve figured this whole “grandma” thing out. That lady at Walmart must work at a cosmetic counter. Come to think of it, she did have on a lot of eye shadow. Maybe her whole “grandma” statement was more of a sales pitch and less of an overview on my face.

That must be it and even if it’s not – that’s the story I’m going to go with.

The Dog Park

If I had to make a top 10 lisdog-humort of my favorite things in life my dogs would be on it. I know I should feel bad that one of my siblings wouldn’t make the list. I also know I should feel fiercely ashamed that Diet Coke would make the list before the aforementioned sibling, but here’s the thing: Diet Coke’s not crazy. I can’t really say that about my oldest brother.

But enough of my family drama let’s get back to dogs – wonderful, amazing dogs. I’m one of those people who if I was forced to choose would more often than not take the company of canines over people. They’re great listeners, non judgmental and don’t talk back. Does it get any better than that? I mean really, who cares how much they shed?

Recently, one of our beloved dogs passed away. Usually when we lose a dog our family tradition has been to have a period of mourning and reflection before getting a new addition to the family. Last month, my husband freelanced on that rule and while I was out-of-town adopted a dog. He assured me that “Tahoe”, a rescue beagle, was as mellow as they come. In fact, he described the dog as “totally chill.”

This stumped me a little because although I don’t know a lot about beagles I was pretty sure the word chill wasn’t an accurate description of the breed. When I got home Tahoe was indeed a most mellow fellow. We found out that next day this was because he had pneumonia. After a hefty vet bill and one week of recovery Tahoe’s personality was in full bloom.

The dog is gregarious and has never met a stranger. He also believes every animate and inanimate object adores him. A walk with Tahoe through the neighborhood feels like he’s campaigning for public office. I’m certain he could get out of the vote for, at the very least, County Commissioner. Due to his exuberant personality I thought he might enjoy the new dog park.

I took my son with me as backup in case Tahoe with acres to roam went, I don’t know, full wolf or something. Once we got inside the park and it was time to let our dog loose I felt like the theme song from Born Free should be playing.

For those you who not familiar with this almost fifty-year-old movie let me tell you all you need to know. A couple raises an abandoned lion cub and then when it grows up they have to release it back into the wild and many tears are shed as Born free, as free as the wind blows, As free as the grass grows, Born free to follow your heart plays over a montage of the lion bounding off into the open African Savannah. (As a child of the 70’s it’s doesn’t have the full boo hoo quality of say a Brian’s Song, but it’s close.)

As soon as Tahoe is leash-less he takes off like a Walmart shopper first in the door at a Black Friday sale. He even gives us an over the shoulder “so long suckers” look. I feared he was a goner. I knew using simple math that it would be quite a feat for him to jump the fence, but never being one to underestimate the brilliance and determination of the canine spirit I didn’t rule out some sort of elaborate tunnel system dug by the dogs, in shifts, when their humans weren’t looking.

I frantically tell my son to start running after Tahoe. He gives me the teenage “no way” eye roll. I quickly explain that I almost certain the dog is going AWOL. He shakes his head at me and matter-of-factly says, “Relax, no one, most especially our dogs, would ever want to leave you.”

I’m irrationally excited by this statement. It might be, perhaps, the best compliment I’ve ever received in my life, but before I can delve deeper for clarification and a chance to extrapolate on the praise (I mean it’s not like I get many accolades from my teenagers. I think the last nice thing my kids said to me was back in 2013 and it was that  “dinner was decent.”) Tahoe comes barreling back towards us like a soccer ball kicked by the love child of Thor and She-Hulk. My son smirks at me and simply says, “See, I told you he come right back.”

“Because I’m awesome right?”

“Well, maybe and it doesn’t hurt that you feed him steak.”

Not quite the continued declaration of my greatness I was looking for, but I’ll take it. If I want real devotion there’s always the superior mammal to turn to – dogs.

*Attention SnaScreen Shot 2014-12-29 at 11.01.47 PMrky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Hope and Change

demotivation-posters-auto-344194Luckily, I don’t have a family that embarrasses easily.

It could be because after years of living with me they’ve built up a resistance to your everyday, garden-variety mortification. But one thing that makes all of them uncomfortable is when I pay for things with change.

“What’s wrong with change?” I ask them. “Is it not legal tender?”

Lately, I’ve been forced to use change more and more as a payment for goods purchased. Totally, not my fault, by the way. It seems the American financial system hates change.

Back in the day (two months ago), I used to periodically take all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that collected in the kitchen “coin bowl” to one of those automated change-counting machines. And let me tell you something, nothing says living the dream like dumping two quart-sized Ziploc bags stuffed with change into the Coinstar at Walmart. I would hover in eager anticipation as the money “no one wants to use” was turned into dollars.

But then my happy coins to dollar bills metamorphosis was stymied when an almost 10 percent surcharge was levied for the privilege of counting my change. Ten percent! Talk about predatory banking practices. For sure, I get that the coin counting company has to charge something, but 10 percent is a just a little too rich for my blood. I decided to take a stand. I would no longer pay for having my change converted to dollars. I would start spending my dimes, nickels and loads and loads of pennies in an effort to share the joy of coinage.

At first, I sorted all my change into separate Ziplocs. You know, quarters in one, nickels in another, and I kept the bags in my car for easy access for paying for purchases at places like the drive-thru. This proved to be not such a great idea. Last month, I was at McDonald’s, with the windows rolled down, and loudly told my teenaged son, “Hey, grab one of those dime bags for me!”

The McDonald’s employee gave me a weird look and then said, “Ah, ma’am, we don’t do that here” and my son just about crawled out of the car. At first I didn’t get what the big deal was. Like, what’s up? I can’t pay for my Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper with change? Does McDonald’s, home of the Dollar Menu, think they’re too good for 21 dimes, one nickel and two pennies? It took my son explaining to me that a dime bag meant 10 dollars worth of pot.

“Ohhhhhh” was all I said and then I asked him how he would know that. His reply, backed up later by my husband, was that “anybody who’s ever watched a cop show in the last 50 years should know that.”

That incident made me rethink my whole paying in change plan. So, I went to the bank with my purse laden down with a single yet significant bag of coins (by this time I had graduated to the Ziploc gallon-sized freezer bag with reinforced sides) and requested that I wanted to deposit my big old bag of change into my account. A teller quickly told me no. As in “no, we won’t take your coins” and the way she said coins you would have thought I was asking to deposit soiled tokens from Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Unbelievable.

I was close to giving up on my “joy of change” spending plan but I’m no quitter. So, I persevered. My next move was to sort all my change into different bags according to dollar amounts so one bag would have $5 worth of coins, another $10, etc., making it easy to go into the grocery store and take out a bag with $5 worth of change to pay for a half gallon of skim milk. Well, well, well, apparently if you want to really irritate some snippy chick in yoga pants double-fisting a Starbucks and a coconut water, all you need to do is pull out a couple of bags of change. She was behind me in line and when I got my change bag out she audibly sighed and whisper-dissed me by murmuring I “must be crazy or homeless.”

I gave her a look that said, “I can you see your cellulite through your yoga pants,” and then, just because I could, I decided to go “full penny” on her. That’s right, I used pennies. I had planned to use quarters — because I’m not a monster — but the homeless remark really got to me. I had on my dress track pants from Kohl’s for God’s sake. (The crazy, not so much, because, you know, it’s not like I haven’t heard that before.)

As I ever so slowly counted out almost four dollars in pennies I learned something new about coins. They’re not only good for purchasing items, but you can also use them to punish annoying people behind you in line. I call that a financial two-fer.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

Black Friday – Part 2

black-friday-meme-18As I approached the Walmart parking lot I grew concerned for mankind. Did I miss the celestial memo that the Rapture was near?  It looked like God sent out a status update on Facebook telling everyone that if you wanted to hitch a ride on the Second Coming Express then you better be at the Walmart at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night.  Even the nearby Lowe’s parking lot was jammed packed. I never thought the day would come when walking to Walmart would qualify as a cardio workout. The line into the store was epic in length.  There was no way – ever – that I will wait in line for the privilege of entering my local Walmart. I chose to stand back and soak it all in.

Oh, the humanity! It was an intergenerational collection of cuckoos. From a granny in a scooter, her oxygen tank riding shotgun, demanding to be first in line due to her disability (Which I’m guessing is an addiction to Lays Sour Cream and Onion potato chips and Marlboro lights.) to a 20 something tattooed dude with enough piercing that he resembled a human spaghetti strainer. My favorite Walmart moment came when an Econoline van pulled up and a posse of family members poured out all clad in overalls. The two XL gentlemen of the group, in honor of the grand occasion, favored us with denim tuxedos and by that I mean – overalls, wife beater T-shirt and denim vest. They also sported the must have holiday accessory – missing teeth.

Don’t get me wrong, plenty of what appeared to be average folks were also in line.  Walmart on this cold Thursday evening seemed to be the great equalizer. Everyone was visiting with one another, bonding over what deals they hoped to score that night. It was somewhat of a party atmosphere. One young man and his crew were drinking what they called “Walmartinis.” I asked him what was in it – Everclear, antifreeze and recalled olives from China?  Some girls, that looked to be, in their late teens asked for a drink. I had to pull out my mom card and tell them that wasn’t a good idea. I assured them that after one sip that would probably wake up hours later on top of a 50 lb bag of dog food wearing a $5 cheetah bra and thong set from the Miley Cyrus collection with a Playstation controller crotch adjacent. That seemed to scare them straight. I know it freaked me out.

When the portal opened to discount heaven the crowds were very orderly, like sheep to the sales slaughter they obediently waited their turn. People were allowed inside the stores in groups of 20 in what seemed to be 30 second intervals. Your standard nursing home issue Walmart Greeter had been replaced with some major muscle. These were guys that knew a thing or two about crowd control. When I finally made it through the doors the first thing I noticed was that Walmart had stayed true to form. Biggest shopping day of the year be damned. They still didn’t have all of their check out lanes opened. WTH? After taking in that visual I followed the throng and headed straight to electronics. I wanted to see what people would do to save some bucks on an X box.

This is when I noticed two 40ish women in some hard-core cleats that looked to be made of metal. These were cleats that could do some serious damage with their pointy prong things. I felt it was my duty as a citizen to inquire about their choice of footwear. I walked over to the women and said, “Hey, what’s up with the shoes?” They looked me over, paused at my fanny pack, visibly smirked and then said, “I don’t think it’s any of your business?” I, once again, lied that I was a writer for the website, “I Saved More Than You!” and thought their shoe choice was brilliant. That got them smiling and they confided that they use the cleats in any crowd situation as a way to gain “a jump on the pack.” I inquired if they had ever hurt anyone and they giggled and said, “We’’ll never tell.”

It was at this point that the electronics section opened and these two dressed to kill women surged through the crowd and began stepping on as many as people’s feet as they could.  Holy crap! I had to do something. That’s when I saw one of the huge denim tux dudes. I grabbed his arm and said, “Excuse me sir, but I need your help. You see those two women over there – they have on metal cleats and are stepping on people, even old people!  Can you do something?” He smiled, said, “Yes maam,” then lumbered over and picked up one of the woman.

He just swooped in, grabbed her by the waist, lifted her over the crowd and then set her down. (It’s times like this I’m proud to be a bargain shopper. This young man sacrificed his place in line for the personal safety of others. It just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a person by the quantity of his denim or dental hygiene.) He even did all this before cleat feet had a chance to reach a high volume scream.  Her friend, so intent on getting an X Box, didn’t even stop to see what was wrong. She just keep on shopping.  That pissed her off more than getting snatched out of the near front of the line, so much so, that she yelled, “You bitch! You better get an X Box for me!”

This gave me time to alert some Walmart “team members” and after they saw the women’s choice of lethal athletic shoes they were both escorted to the nearby towel section and informed they had to change their footwear before they would be allowed to continue shopping. One of these brazen chicks loudly said, “I don’t see anywhere is this whole damn store where it says you can’t wear cleats!”  That was my cue to keep walking and head to Target  Nothing bad happens at Target – right?

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