Monthly Archives: June 2006

Gentle Glide, Indeed

And now for something completely different.

I went to Target last night to buy such exciting things as deodorant, razor blades, toilet cleaner, bikini line Nair, a light bulb, and tampons. When I’d gotten everything I needed, I headed toward the shortest line and began loading my stuff onto the conveyor belt while the person in front of me paid for her stuff.

I should have paid more attention to her interaction with the cashier, but I was too busy feeling self-congratulatory about the fact that I would be using a coupon to save a dollar on my giant box of tampons. I spent all my waiting line time thinking about how some women are really embarrassed about buying feminine hygiene products, but I, on the other hand, am so self-confident and down-to-earth about the fact that yes, I am a woman and I menstruate that I am buying a giant box of tampons with a BIG-ASS COUPON! A coupon that is in fact PINK! Something that will draw more attention to the fact that I just bought TAMPONS!

The woman in front of me finished and it was my turn with the cashier. As I approached the register, I noticed that my cashier was unusually bright-eyed and fresh-faced and cheerful. I also noticed that his name was New Team Member.

Dammit.

I try to be patient with cashiers named New Team Member, because I know they are still learning and are sometimes very nervous and/or shy about working a register. This New Team Member, however, seemed to have no problems whatsoever with nervousness or shyness, unless maybe he actually did and they happened to manifest themselves as CONSTANT EFFING CHATTER.

Living in Lynchburg can be dangerous for a surly heathen bitch like me. If I run into an overly cheerful, friendly, and fresh-faced young person, and that person really, really wants to chat with me, I begin to worry that the kid is a Liberty student who is drunk on the Good News and wants to convert me. It has happened before. Since Target is essentially across the street from Liberty University, there’s always a good chance that your cashier might be a Liberty student.

So this kid is chatty-chatty-chatty and it’s in a way that makes him look very dorky and oddly socialized. This is often also a hallmark of Liberty kids, because many Liberty kids come from extremely sheltered backgrounds, were often homeschooled, and behave like puppies on a highway when they get out in public.

I try to be polite. He goes on and on about how he’s afraid of my lightbulb and doesn’t know what to do with it. He sets it aside so he can “figure out what to do with it later.” I make some polite “mm-hmm” noises and start to write out my check, hoping that my intense concentration on the difficult business of check-writing will make him shut up and finish ringing up my stuff.

“Ahh, a southpaw!” he says. That is a direct quote. Evidently, New Team Member is also a lefty, and he wishes there were more of us in the world, and left-handed women are extremely rare and in fact I might be the first left-handed woman he’s ever met and I wish I were making this crap up at this point. He starts off on a thing about left-handed desks and right-handed desks and I finish writing the parts of the check I can write at this point and look up and see that he is using sweeping, giant hand motions to emphasize his story about left-handed desks.

In one of his hands is my giant box of tampons.

I realize that he has been waving the tampons around in the air since the moment he realized I was a lefty. The four people in line behind me have facial expressions that indicate that they’re annoyed by having to wait, but they are absolutely, positively mesmerized by my Playtex Gentle Glide Multi-Pack.

I have to snap him out of it. I suggest abruptly that he just put the light bulb in the bag with everything else, because it’s in cardboard and won’t break. He shakes his head a bit as if waking out of a sound sleep, looks down at the box of tampons in his hands, and promptly gets all flustered by the fact that he’s holding a box of items that will eventually spend time inside a woman’s vagina. It takes him approximately seventy-four tries to get them scanned. And then I have to give him the damn coupon.

And then I finally, finally get a total, scribble it on the check, hand it to New Team Member, and haul ass out of my beloved Target.

Randy

In September 2000, Northwestern football was playing at Wisconsin. I don’t remember why now, but for some reason, we weren’t watching the game. Instead we were buying hair dye at Osco Drug. We were walking out of Osco when we heard the car horns, and someone passed us running down the street yelling that we’d beaten Wisconsin in double overtime. The campus was total chaos. The band seniors and the leadership and some other people got together trying to think of what we could do for the football team.

We called Media Services to find out when the team was scheduled to arrive back in Evanston, and then started calling everyone in the band to see who could go to the stadium to greet them. By the time it was time to go we had a good number of band kids, and we piled into all the cars we could find and headed to Dyche. On the way, we passed tons of students walking the same way – apparently our plan had gotten out to the frats and sororities and some other students, and they were coming too.

We couldn’t get in touch with anyone on the faculty who had keys to our storage area in the stadium, and the fences were all padlocked, so we climbed the fences and broke in and passed out the drums and sousaphones and flags and other big equipment to people.

The team had no idea, and when the buses pulled up you could see them at the windows wondering what the hell was going on. When they started to get off the buses, we were playing the fight song for them, and the guys were just blown away. The ones I knew from classes were hugging me and the kids who’d come along were singing and cheering and when Randy Walker got off the bus, he had tears in his eyes, and asked if he could use our ladder for a minute.

So Randy climbed up on the ladder and gave a speech, and I don’t remember a word of it but his voice broke several times – he was incredibly touched. And then everyone there put our arms around each other and sang the alma mater (something the band does at the end of every game).

For the rest of the season, whenever the team had a road game, we were there when they got back – no matter what time, day or night, no matter what the weather was like. I don’t know if they are still doing it, but I hope so. I have always been very proud and happy to have been a part of making that day happen.

This is my single favorite memory of all my four years in Evanston. It beats bowl games and road trips and kisses and classes and parties and home games. It beats working on films and taking the El to the city at 2 in the morning and guarding the rock. It beats graduation.

That was the first time I had the privilege of speaking to Randy Walker in person, and I liked him just as much in person as I had from afar. He was warm and open and sincere and driven. It was easy to see why students and athletes believed in him. Back then, we didn’t know all that he would do for the football program, but we were behind him all the way.

Randy Walker died of an apparent heart attack last night. He had recently turned 52 years old.

Sadly, I know or know of many people who have lost fathers quite suddenly in the last two weeks. A couple of them were close enough to my life that I considered writing about them here, but ultimately chose not to. Randy was also a father, to a son and daughter about my age.

Maybe it’s silly for me to choose to write about this father. Maybe it’s wrong to feel upset about his death. After all, I never really knew the man. I never ate dinner at his house. I never spoke with him for more than a few minutes here and there. I am sure he did not know my name. But in his way, without even realizing it, Randy Walker changed my life. I am so very sorry he’s gone.

And Now For Some Fruit

Watermelons! Refresh if you can’t see them.

In other news, every single time I threaten to chop off all my hair, it looks awesome the very next day. I suspect malfeasance for malfeasance’s sake.

No Fun In The Summertime

There are some months when I spend the entire month wishing for the next month to arrive. Usually it’s because I’m low on funds for one reason or another, and by the time the end of the first week in the month arrives, I’m ready for the end of the month so I can get another paycheck. June has been one of those months.

I’m not entirely sure how June got away from me, but apparently my fervent wishes for it to speed by quickly were answered. The only problem is that according to other humans I know, June is one of those elusive “summer months,” and during “summer months” I should be doing things like swimming and sitting out in the sun at baseball and softball games and drinking margaritas on patios and, in general, doing fun things outside.

I did go to a baseball game, but I’ve done none of those other things. Jamie isn’t playing summer softball yet. Between busy, often-traveling friends and low funds, margaritas on patios have been incredibly difficult to coordinate. The swimming thing wasn’t for lack of trying, but still. I’ve wasted an entire month of summer working 10 hour days and lying in a lump on the sofa when I’m at home. I’ve read some really good books, so at least there’s that, but mostly, I’ve watched too much TV and I’ve wasted too much time.

I wish I had a vacation planned. I wish I were going to the beach. I wish I were traveling this summer for reasons other than work. I wish I had a bigger social network. I wish I had more money. I wish I had more time.

Most of my favorite memories in the world are of our Colorado summers. We spent so much time outside that our hair bleached to white-blonde. We had season passes to the city pool and it seems like we went there every day. I remember going there even when the weather was too cool to swim, teeth chattering in the deep end but refusing to get out even though it was 65 degrees and threatening rain. I spent a lot of time riding horses with my best friend, out near her farm by those big oil drilling things that still remind me of grasshoppers. We went camping in the mountains and caught rainbow trout in Bellaire Lake. We went waterskiing at Carter Lake and to the beach at Boyd Lake. We went up the Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park, and I remember stopping at the Dam Store for hard candy and I remember seeing the bighorn sheep wild on the sides of the mountains and I remember that Ginny got carsick nearly every time we made the trip and I remember being scared to death of the distance from the road to the river, knowing that they’d raised everything up high after the flood. I remember going to the Corn Roast and to the Larimer County Fair and to Cheyenne Frontier Days.

We rode bikes and we went to the park and we climbed trees and played on construction sites and in sandboxes and in our friends’ backyards. I had some friends on my street who had never been inside my house, because we always, always played outside. We were allowed to play outside until the streetlights came on, and sometimes if we begged just right, we could still play two-square on the street in front of our house after dark. We used that crack in the road as our middle line. I remember seeing my mom upstairs in the kitchen through the open screen door.

I would never dream of wasting an entire day, much less an entire month, working or lounging around inside the house. It seems like there was just so much to do then, and like it was just so much easier to go and do it.

Homewrecker

I am thinking about cheating on Jonathan the next time I get a haircut (which will be soon).

I don’t really have a very good reason for my potential betrayal, but I have lots of bad reasons. For one thing, my salon is no more. Seriously. The word around the sandbox is that the owner sold the place out from under them. All the women went down the street to Acorn Hill, and no one invited Jonathan along. So Jonathan went out to City Place, which is kind of a long way away, if you’re lazy (as I am). So it’ll be a new salon with new people and I feel weird about it. Also, Jonathan’s been my stylist for four years now and the only reason I know he moved is because he told my friend when she got her last haircut with him at the old salon. He told her that he was going to call or send a letter to all of his clients to let them know where to find him, but I haven’t gotten a letter or a phone call and I know the old salon is closed for good now because I pass it on my way to and from work every day. So I’m a little miffed about that.

The other not-very-good reason is that I’ve decided I’m definitely chopping a good amount of length off during my next cut. I’ve landed squarely in ponytail hell with my current hair, which means it’s time to make a drastic change. I know I say this approximately once every two days but I mean it this time. And last time I cut my hair, Jonathan talked me out of going shorter. So I’m afraid he’ll do it again.

But I really only have three choices if I want to try a new salon, and one of them is the one Jonathan moved to. I definitely can’t go there if I want to have someone else cut my hair. And I don’t like change and I don’t know if Jonathan has changed his rates since he moved and waaaaaaah I don’t know what to do.