Friday Night Skate Dates

Mine looked like these babies
Mine looked something like these babies.  Just not so shiny.

My sister-in-law posted pics on Facebook of my niece and nephew roller skating the other day.  Seeing those pics brought back such fond memories of my childhood.

I received my first pair of roller skates from my maternal grandmother.  They fit over your shoe and needed a key.  You know the kind.  They were metal and if you got a stone stuck in the wheel you did a header.  Forget it if you mistakenly left them out in the rain.  But they were the bomb and I was the shit.

I soon progressed to the white boot-like skates with the pom-poms and large pink wheels.  Every Friday night I would meet friends at the local roller rink for a skate.  I had my first kiss there.  “Smoked” my first and last cigarette there.  Broke up with my first boyfriend there (after my first kiss because it turned out he was more like a guppy than a boy).  Songs like Rock the Casbah, Super Freak and Do Ya Wanna Funk immediately take me back to those days.

I was super talented.  I went around and around and around.  To the left.  All the really cool kids could go backwards, go in circles, do jumps and could even turn right.  Whenever they did that switch-a-roo thing to go in the opposite direction, I would panic and most often wound up doing a face plant.  Good times.

I wonder if they have a roller skating rink around anywhere?  It would be great fun to go back and reminisce, go forward, try to turn right, fall flat on my face.  I should dig out my old skates. And old albums.  Umm, nah.  Never mind.  I think I’ll take up knitting instead.  So much safer.  Well, until I poke my eye with the end of the needle.  What’s the matter?  It could happen.

Watered Down Memories Light the Corners of My Mind?

Didn't use one of these.
Didn’t use one of these.

I do not suffer from motion sickness.  I can fly in a plane, be the extreme backseat passenger in a car, ride roller coasters, be in a boat in the high seas.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  Except once.  When I was about 7.  Coming back from Germany.

We were heading back to the States after an Army stint in Germany.  I remember 4 things about the plane ride home.  1) Puke; 2) coffee; 3) two floors; and 3) darkness.

I don’t know what made me feel sick,  but I remember begging my dad to take me to the bathroom.  Unfortunately, the bathroom was occupied.  If I recall correctly, I sat back down in my seat or was in the approximate area.  I vomited all over the woman sitting next to me (so much for barf bags, my only opportunity to actually use one). All over her and her floor length fur coat.  That was my first memory of that flight.

The stewardess (I’m not being politically incorrect, this was the ’70’s) cleaned it up with loads and loads of coffee grinds.  I don’t know what happened to good old Pine Sol.  Maybe they ran out.  I’m not sure if the coffee cleaned it, but it did cover up the smell.  Can’t get a good whiff of Maxwell House without thinking of throw-up.  That was memory #2.

I watched Sex and The City Part 2 recently.  The ladies were on a plane with 2 levels.  One level had a bar.  I was jealous.  Then I remembered my flight home from Germany had 2 levels.  Completely wasted on a 7 year old.  I want a do-over.  Memory #3.

I lived in a country for 2 years where it was dark a lot of the time.  And I was afraid of the dark.  When we landed in New York and it was dark, I was confused.  I never thought it was because it was something like 3 in the morning.  Yup, #4.

Isn’t it funny how your brain only remembers certain parts of an event?  And even then, we aren’t sure if those memories are correct.  My memory could be completely different from my brother’s memory of the same event.  I know, this is some deep thinking.  Don’t hurt yourself.  I think I did.

Up In Smoke

I couldn't quite pull this off.  As much as I tried.
I couldn’t quite pull this off. As much as I tried.  And I tried.  Believe me.

I smoked.  Okay, I tried to smoke.  I tried to smoke so much that I actually bought a whole pack of cigarettes with my allowance once.  I was 14.  All my friends were doing it so why not?  I wasn’t one to pass on a good peer pressure moment.  I walked all the way (a mile) to the neighborhood deli to purchase this pack of cigarettes.  In the day before I.D. was required.  I was the shit.

My brothers made this really crappy fort in the back yard.  It was made of wood scraps found in our basement and was about the size of a latrine except not as nice.  The parents thought their offspring were being creative and imaginative.  In actuality, this was the place to go to release our “cool.”  Our little fort of crap made from scraps where I would start to “smoke” my first and last pack of Marlboros.

At first, I didn’t inhale.  I know it conjures up images of our 42nd president (don’t be impressed, I had to look that up).  But I am not lying.  This went on for a good week.  Until I inhaled.  What came next was one 70 pound teenage girl bent over a curb outside of the Easy Glider Roller Rink.  As green in the face as what was coming out of her mouth.  With the spins to match.  Yes, that girl was Yours Truly.  That was the end of my love affair with cigarettes.  My parents found out about my little stint with the smoking stick.  A neighbor ratted me out.  But I got the last laugh because I quit anyway.

Since my experience, I have always wondered why people bother smoking.  Surely, I’m not the only one who reacted so negatively.  I’ve asked and the answer is always “you get used to it.”  Yes, and I suppose you could get used to having someone hit you in the stomach repeatedly with a club, but why do it?  I have to say I am incredibly grateful for that night at the curb, Mr. Vomit.  My lungs thank you too.  And my face.  My heart.  My teeth.  Get the picture?  Just Say No.  I didn’t.

The Mortified Lagoon

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When your dad asks you to go to the movies with him because his original date — your mom — is sick and can’t go, confirm the movie you are seeing before you commit.  In 1980, we didn’t have the internet, so I was depending on his mature, grown-up ability to decipher what would be bad and/or good for a 13 year old girl to see.  Actually let me rephrase.  A daughter and father to see.  Together.  According to today’s standards, The Blue Lagoon isn’t bad.  In fact, it is pretty “G” rated compared to what modern movie production companies consider to be low threat to a kid’s psyche.

I recall that there were loin cloths, nude shots, sex scenes and the moment a teenage girl gets her period for the first time.  Oh, I forgot.  She also gives birth.  Remember, she was about the age I was at the time.  To make matters worse, the two main characters were cousins.  To rephrase what I’m sure my 13 year old brain was saying to itself, “totally gross.”

I was red with embarrassment.  The only thing I wanted to do was get on my hands and knees and make myself disappear under the seat in front of me.  Honestly, I don’t think I could look my dad in the eye for a week.

I recently caught part of that movie on some cable show.  It’s filled with plenty of cheese, but not much else.  The “sex” scenes weren’t too revealing and Brooke’s hair was glued to her boobs during the entire film.  But through the eyes of a prepubescent 13 year old girl, it may as well have been porn.  Porn that was watched with her dad.  Totally gross.  I’m sure “Herbie Goes Bananas” was playing in the theater next door.  That probably would have been a better choice.  Surely, Herbie’s headlights were a little less intimidating.

Girl of Steel

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It was a beautiful morning in the summer of 1988.  I was driving to work.  My music was blasting (I’m guessing that may be part of the reason why I now have permanent ringing in my ears).  The windows were down.  All was good with the world.  Until I tried to merge onto I-287 and was met with an 18-wheeler.  Literally.

Ok, so it wasn’t my fault.  Right?  I mean, I had my blinker on.  So what if I was driving a little 2-door Honda CRX.  It was red.  The guy should have seen me and moved out of the way.  He didn’t.  He hit me instead.  Then decided to try and make a get-away.  Yeah, right.  Nice try buddy.

So, I did what every 100-pound 20 year old young woman should do.  I got out of my car.  In the middle of the lane.  In rush hour traffic on a major highway.  And I stood there with my hand up, screaming obscenities.  Picture Superman trying to stop traffic with his super powers.  Well, without the obscenities.  Except I didn’t have any super powers.  I was cute.  Sometimes that worked for me.  But not this time.  The trucker looked at me like I had 2 heads.  I know he thought I was nuts.  In retrospect, I was.

This was in the day before everyone had a “car phone.”  My future sister-in-law saw me standing there looking like a lunatic.  She was 2 lanes over and couldn’t get to me.  Like I said, it was during major rush hour traffic.  Outside of a city.  And she’s not an idiot.  When she got to work she called my future DH.

I was a damsel in distress.  Except I was gone by the time future DH got there.  Remember those SOS trucks that used to drive up and down the highways looking to help stranded drivers?  One of those guys stopped and basically told me to move along.  As for the truck driver, he did NOT think I was very cute.  Not at all.  I don’t know how it ends.  I can’t remember.  No one was hurt or arrested so all must have gone well.  My car even survived.

So, you know when I complain after working at My Retail Job for 7.5 hours on my feet the entire time and feeling like I got hit by a Mack truck?  I literally know the feeling.  Because I was hit by one.  How many people can say that?

Car Phones, Tape Recorders & Card Catalogs

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My first “cell” phone looked something like this

When the kid starts complaining about something that makes her life difficult, I have to bite my tongue.  I have to refrain from acting like my mother and not bore her with the angst I dealt with as a teen.  So I’ll bore you instead.  Tell me if you can relate.  I know you can.

  • Me:  One bathroom for 5 people.  Her:  Three bathrooms for 3 people.  That means there is a toilet for each ass.  No schedules.  No waiting.  Life should be good based just on this alone.
  • Our song download consisted of a tape recorder, a radio, a quiet room and a lot of time.
  • We only had 3 remote controls in my house.  They were called Mo, Ed and Mark.  On the up side, we never ran out of batteries.
  • Our DVR/TiVo was whoever you were watching TV with.  “What’d they say?” has been replaced by “Rewind that.”
  • My first car phone was the size of a small suitcase, weighed as much as a toddler and did nothing but make and receive phone calls.  It was called a car phone because that’s where it stayed.  In the car.  I was major cool.  Really.  I was.
  • Funk & Wagnalls and the Card Catalog were our “go to” guys for information.
  • People smoked in restaurants.  But at least we got our choice of the “smoking” or “non-smoking” section.  It was super fun when the “non-smoking” section started at the booth right behind you.
  • When we got sick of Pac-man, there was always Pong.
  • If I wanted to go anywhere, I relied on public transportation, an ex-boyfriend with a car, or hitchhiking.  I could have walked, but that method was used in the generation before me.
  • We took a typing class, with real typewriters complete with carbon paper.  Mrs. Darling would smack the back of our hands with a wooden ruler if we so much as peeked at our fingers.  The “Hunt & Peck” method?  There would have been a lot of blood spilled.
  • We sat for hours in class learning how to write in cursive.  Apparently that was a friggin’ waste of time.
  • I got to babysit 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 kids at once.  And all for a dollar an hour.  At least it was easy to do the math.
  • There was no iTunes.  What I did have was $6 of my babysitting money that only took 2 days to earn and this thing called A Record Store where they sold albums made of vinyl.

And the next time you are bored?  Go catch some fireflies.  Or better yet, make a crank call.  Oh wait.  I forgot.  You don’t know how to use a phone.

 

Thou Shalt Not Pick in Public Places

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I am the type of person who sometimes does inappropriate things.  Usually because I try to get a laugh.  Because I am a clown.  In my way early twenties while working in corporate, I did an inappropriate thing.  While I was in the elevator with a coworker/friend (Ali), I had the  issue of what you would affectionately call a “wedgie.”  So, because we were alone, I hiked up my skirt and un-wedgied myself.  Problem fixed.  No biggie.  And Ali laughed.  Just what I wanted.

2 Days later, via interoffice mail, I received a memo on official letterhead from the president of the company.  Basically, it was a letter reprimanding me for the inappropriateness of my actions. The letter mentioned something about probation.  I had no idea they had cameras in the elevator.

The blood immediately drained from my face.  I had the overwhelming need to either vomit or pee myself.  I started freaking out and tried to think back to that day.  Did I lift my skirt all the way up or just kind of put my hand up there?  I guess it didn’t matter.  All I knew was that some people are so touchy.  What’s the big deal?  The big deal is that I really liked my job and I didn’t want to lose it over the fact that I was merely trying to make myself more comfortable.  Okay, and make Ali laugh.

It turns out the joke was on me.  Ali got her hands on some “official letterhead” and mailed the letter to me herself.  That was a proud moment in my life.  I taught her well.  Carry on, Ali, carry on.

 

What a Bunch of Garbage

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I was an Army Brat.  I use capitalization because I believe it’s a real title.  Army Brat.  I should put that on my resume.  One of the places I lived as an Army Brat was Germany.  Some of my greatest memories stem from that time.

There was a family that we were very close with.  Another Army family.  We did some pretty awesome things with this family.  One being garbage picking.  Or I should say “Junking.”  That’s the technical word for it.  But however you put it, what we did was pick through other people’s discarded crap.  What is that expression?  “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure?”  Yup.  That is totally true.

Now don’t go thinking it was real garbage, like empty milk cartons and dirty diapers.  No.  Once a month the town would pick up furniture, art, appliances.  Anything that didn’t fit in the trash can.  As long as it was out at the curb.

Why not donate to a thrift shop?  Because Germans have a lot of pride.  But apparently Americans don’t.  My mother acquired an entire set of china, a dresser, kitchen table and some very fine art while junking.  If I were a betting woman, I would wager a plate of nachos with some salt rimmed margarita’s that my mother still has that china.

The locals thought we had gone and lost our minds.  Hell, it was entertainment for us.  When my dad announced that it was Junking Day, I would jump up and down with glee.  We didn’t have much money so this was about as good as it got.

All I can say is DH is one lucky dude to have found me.  I am a cheap ass date.  But I just can’t seem to get him to take me Junking.  I don’t understand why.  I mean, come on.  It’s free.  FREE.  Need I say more?

Oh Bloody Hell

When I was a kid and we were living in Germany, there was a nursery where my parents would take us if they wanted to go out.  Not a nursery where you grow and sell plants.  A child’s nursery.  Like a daycare center but I only remember going at night.  Although my mom argues that we only paid an overnight visit a couple of times, my brain tells me it was more.

I hated the nursery.  The sight and sound of this thing still throws me into flashback hell, with it’s creepy little tick tock song:

FPT-05Bb- Teaching clock - cropped

Nothing bad ever happened to me there.  In fact the women who worked there were terrific.  I was just like a dog going to the vet.  Planting my feet firmly in the ground, not wanting to go in.  There was no real reason for my fear.

There was nap time at this place.  We would take these naps in a little room with cots.  Once during nap time, I occupied myself by tying the shoes together of the little boy in the next cot over.  Genius.  When he got up, he fell.  The nursery lady on duty asked who did it.  I kept my mouth shut as I pointed right at him.  The boy didn’t even try to defend himself.

The nursery is where I acquired my pretty chin scar.  It was a late rainy night when the folks picked us up.  On the way to the car, I fell on my face and ripped open my chin.  I can still remember the blood soaked towels I had to hold to my face on my way to the hospital. An added bonus was the big light glaring in my face in the ER as I laid (or is it lain?) on a gurney as the on-call doctor did a “butterfly” number on me.  I hated that doctor.

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My 40 year old scar

It’s called Karma.  For doing the shoelace thing.  And it’s a pretty little reminder of my evil side.  My alter ego.  She’s fun. Be careful or I’ll ask her to come out to play.  Are you scared?  You should be.  Just don’t turn your head when you are wearing strings.

Wedding Dress Blues

photoWhen I was preparing to get married, my wish was to wear my mother-in-laws wedding dress.  My own mom’s wedding dress was out of the question because my parents got married shotgun style.  Catholic + pre-marital sex in 1966 = pink suit.  My MIL’s dress was gorgeous.  I mean it.  It was made of the most exquisite Chantilly Lace, with beautiful long lace sleeves.  The skirt was hooped like Cinderella’s ball gown.  It was every young bride’s dream.

When I shared this wish with her, the woman couldn’t run fast enough up the stairs to the attic to retrieve it.  I think the gesture made her happy.  After all, she is the mother of 4 boys and none of them like to wear women’s clothing.  To my knowledge anyway.

It was stored for well over 30 years in a large black garbage bag.  Rolled up in a ball.  I don’t blame her.  What else was she supposed to do?  And remember, she had 4 boys.  I ran into the bathroom to try it on.  I could barely get the arms up.  And zipper it?  I’d need a crow bar.  I was 122 pounds and pretty damn fit at the time.  All I could wonder was what did this woman eat?  Cabbage?  For every meal?

Besides that, it wasn’t in great shape.  The lace was torn as if it lost a fight with a paper shredder and had started yellowing like old teeth.  My heart lurched.  I was incredibly disappointed.  But there were options.

At a bridal expo I had recently attended, I met a man who preserved old wedding gowns.  I can’t remember exactly what we paid, but it was a bit pricey.  The dress came back with the same tears and it may not have been as yellow as old teeth, but it sure wasn’t white either.  Not even close.  And I did not want to be an ecru wearing bride.

Her dress was a Fink Brother original.  Lucky for us, they had a store in the big city.  We schlepped down there one day to meet with Mr. Fink himself.  He remembered that gown and told us the lace came from France and resembled a large round tablecloth with just a hole in the center for the waist.  No seams.  I could have the lace replaced but it would cost thousands.  Thousands I did not have.  And since I didn’t have any rich uncles laying around, I had to give up my dream gown.

This is what I wore instead:

My dress is a Fink Brothers as well
My dress is a Fink Brothers as well

Not exactly Cinderella’s ball gown, but it did the job.  And it was white.  MIL’s dress is neatly folded in a box in an upstairs closet.  I should have made a Christening gown out of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut it up.  Who knows?  Maybe the kid will pay thousands to get new lace.  Anybody have any rich uncles they’d like to share?