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?

How About a Nice Hawaiian Punch?

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This story is not about me exactly.  But since I told you a little about my brothers earlier this week, I thought you might enjoy this story.  Literally I could write a novel just based on the stunts they pulled.

I’m going to guess that the year was about 1977’ish.  My youngest brother Mark was assigned to bring in 2 cans of Hawaiian Punch for a class party.  You remember the type where you had to puncture two holes with a can opener into each end of the top so the juice would flow easily?  The big 46 ounce cans?  Those.

On the day of the party, Mark forgetfully left them at home.  After school that day, he panicked and asked our brother Ed for help.  There were plenty of ways to remedy the situation.  Flush down the toilet, pour in the sink, dump into the backyard.  My wiseass middle bro told my baby bro that he would have to drink both cans to hide the evidence.  After all, mom spent her hard earned money and time so he could have a nice class party.  He was totally being selfish.  So Mark did as he was told.  He drank both cans.

At the time, the boys shared a room and slept in bunkbeds.  Mark in the top one.  In the middle of the night, Mark woke up with stomach pains.  He put his head over the edge to wake up Ed.  Ed in turn, put his head out to look up at Mark.  Ed got hit with 92 ounces of red regurgitated punch.

Karma is most certainly a bitch.  You just never know when she’s going to come to get you.  In this case the big brother got to take a bath in her.  Lesson learned?  Of course not.  Like a said.  A novel.

Oh Brother

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I am a sentimental person by nature.  I save shit the way I save food.  The only difference is I actually throw the food away once it begins its transformation into a green fur bag.  I have the first item of clothing DH ever bought me from 1986.  The clogs I bought with my babysitting money when I was 14.  The tag from a pair of Jordache jeans that were a gift from an ex-boyfriend.  If someone so much as touches the stuff from my memory box, they lose a hand.

Out of all that crap, there were only two items that I intended to keep for my future child to actually use, not just look at.  One was my Baby Brother Tender Love doll equipped with a little plastic penis that peed water.  His name was Toby. The other was the Christening gown I wore as a baby.

I grew up with 2 younger brothers.  They were your typical matchbox playing, army-men loving, blow ’em up kind of boys.  One day they took it upon themselves to take a hacksaw to poor Toby.  Yes, it’s true.  I can see the vision in my mind still.  I’m not sure if I actually caught them in the act or if I found Toby laying naked on the floor of the garage in pieces.  Either way, it was very disturbing.  As for my Christening gown?  It was used as a grease rag on the same garage floor.   I guess they never heard of a towel.

As for my memory box…all I can say is the kid is one lucky sucker to be an only child.  She won’t have to fight with anyone over my Sweet 16 corsage or Leif Garrett poster.  She’s never actually said so, but I know she can’t wait to get her hands on my senior prom dress, complete with hoop skirt and elbow length satin gloves.  Just in case sweetie, it’s hanging in the foyer closet along with my champagne stained wedding dress.  You’re welcome.

Who wouldn't want this little number?
Who wouldn’t want this little number?

Does a Bear Poop in the Woods?

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There should be bathrooms along the roads.  At least a porta-potty here and there.  Something.  Because let me tell you, there is nothing worse than having to go to the bathroom and there not be a place to relieve yourself.

The family and I were out at a street festival in a neighboring town.  My mistake was the free chocolate sampling. I loved the chocolate.  The chocolate did not love me.  The sensation was sudden and strong.  Of course, it didn’t hit until we were in the car in the middle of a deserted street with nothing but trees on both sides.

I was in full-on panic mode accompanied with the sweats and a little nausea.  No amount of “the dance” was going to help me.  So, I did what every proper and self respecting woman would do.  I screamed at DH to pull over.  This business could not wait another second.

I rifled through the glove compartment and found 2 squares of one-ply napkins.  The kind you get at the chinese take-out restaurant.  I practically rolled myself down the embankment and into the woods.  Not quite sure how deep I went.  My attitude was equivalent to that feeling you have when you are in the throe’s of childbirth.  You could not care less if everyone including the Pope was there watching.

So to answer my own question?  Yes, they do.  And apparently so do grown women.  Words from the wise:  Never have anything less than 50 two-ply napkins in the car at any given time.  You never know when you will really need them.

Walking Up Hill

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Seriously.

Remember when we were kids and our moms would tell us about how when SHE was a kid, she had to walk up hill both ways to school in the snow sleet and rain a hundred miles barefoot?  Well, I have not only turned into my mom, but my dad, grandparents and great aunt combined.  Every time we would visit mother’s childhood town, she would show us the exact route, where she stopped to cross the street and the place where the soda shop used to be.  I could walk every step of that route.  On my own.  Blindfolded.

Every story from walking long distances to using pay phones are told to the kid at great length and in great detail.  She rolls her eyes at me just as I did at my mother a generation before.  When the kid complains about having to walk ANYWHERE, I am reminded of the story of what I had to do at her age.

I was pushing the ripe old age of 12 and my family made a transition from our rural country Tennessee home to Yonkers.  It was a stop along the way to our permanent home.  You know, just temporary.  And thank God it was just that.  Temporary. Or I may either be dead or….well, dead.

On the first day of school, my mother walked my 2 brothers and me to our schools so that we would know the way.  We had one chance to learn the route, so we were paying close attention.  The walk to P.S. 23 was exactly 1.2 miles one way.  That’s really not that far if you think about it.  But when you are 11.5 years old and you have to walk through a literal war zone in the process, it’s not so fun.

To top it off I was knobby kneed, weighed 50 pounds soaking wet and happened to be very afraid of my own shadow.  Also, remember my mom made my clothes.  Need I say more?  During that first week, a mean girl decided to stare me down.  So I did what every self respecting white girl in the middle of the ghetto should do.  Stared right back at her and didn’t back down.  BIG mistake.  No.  HUGE mistake.

I was rewarded with a nice jump on one of the street corners on my walk home.  It wasn’t as bad as you might think.  They just pushed me around a little.  My brothers were younger than me but they weren’t exempt of any danger.  One of them had a knife pulled out on him.  By a girl.  Who was 7.  A 16 year old boy threatened to kill my other brother.  My other brother was 9.  Awesome.

So, next time your mom complains that they had to walk 15 miles one way through the great flood, ask her if she was jumped, knived or had a price on her head.  I bet she didn’t.  It’s cool.  We survived.  What is that saying?  What doesn’t kill you, makes you stonger?  I don’t know if I’m stronger, but I won’t stare down a mean girl ever again.  Or go for a walk through the Amazon.

Responsibility Is Not for the Faint of Heart

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It was my first real job.  I was 19 and I was the Admin (in those days I was called a Secretary) for the Accounting Department of a large corporation in White Plains.  It was a great job.  I loved it.

One of the responsibilities I had was to collect money from the department for a group gift if someone was getting married, having a baby or retiring.  In this case, a woman I worked with was having a baby.

I collected that damn money for over a week.  On my way to lunch one afternoon, I stopped by some cubicles to collect more money.  With my wallet and money envelope in hand, I continued on to the cafeteria to meet a friend.  I don’t remember what I had for lunch that day.  What I do remember is when I got back to my desk an hour later (yes, lunch hour used to actually be a full 60 minutes), I felt like something was missing.

My appetite?  Yes, because I just satisfied it.  But that wasn’t it.  My wallet?  No, I had that.  Oh, maybe I needed to apply more lipstick.  So that’s what I did.  Applied more lipstick.  But that nagging “something is missing” feeling wouldn’t quit.  As soon as I realized it, the blood ran from my face.  The money envelope.  That is what was missing.  The damn money envelope.

I knew it really wasn’t in my purse.  Or in my desk.  Or in the copy room.  But I checked anyway.  Then I ran my young ass as fast as I could in my 3.5″ heels back to the cafeteria.   I searched the entire dining room and found nothing.  Then it dawned on me that the envelope must have been left on my tray.  Where did I put my tray?  On the conveyer belt.  Where my uneaten food and dirty dishes were led into the kitchen.  And the money was led to its’ next life.  A life it was not originally intended to have.

After being interrogated by the manager, not one person working in the kitchen saw it.  In my heart of hearts, I wanted to believe everyone was as honest as I was.  My large white envelope that said “GIFT MONEY” in big black marker and contained $150 inside must have surely been overlooked and dumped right into the trash.  Surely.

I was completely panic stricken.  What the hell was I going to do?  Well, the only thing any smart young woman in this situation would do.  Go dumpster diving.  Yup.  Heels, lipstick and all.  The head of maintenance was kind enough to lend me a yellow rain suit.  Along with matching boots and shower cap.  I looked more like a Hazmat worker.  At this point, I was wishing I was one.  Sitting in a room with hazardous waste sounded much more appealing than throwing myself into a dumpster containing people’s uneaten food and God knows what else.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture.  But I’m pretty sure I can paint one for you.  I jumped into that dumpster in my yellow, over-sized attire feet first and ripped through every single black garbage bag.  All the way to the bottom.  After about thirty minutes, I came up empty.

With my tail between my legs, I had to go back to every one of my coworkers and ask for another donation.  The funny thing is, not one person minded.  At all.  I could have saved myself some humiliation.  I guess I wasn’t as smart as I thought.

As for the money?  All I can say is some cafeteria worker woke up to some luck that day.   And one Lesson learned for me.  I removed myself from the collection duties and assigned it to someone else.  There was no way I was going back in that dumpster.  Ever.

 

Walking After Midnight

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I was a really, really naive teenager.  I didn’t always make the right choice.  I hitchhiked, corrected my report card with white-out and a typewriter (ok people, I only did that once so don’t get your panties in a bunch) and snuck out of a second floor window to walk 2 miles to the diner to meet some friends at midnight.

I was up to my usual trick of sneaking out of a window.  Except it was a door.  Of a friend’s house.  In the basement.  What parent with half a brain allows their 15 year old daughter and her two friends have a sleepover in a WALK-OUT basement?  For the record, ground level doors are much easier to get out of than a second story window.  And a lot less dangerous. (If you are reading this and you happen to be my child, do not try it.  I will know.)

I did not have a boyfriend at the time.  But one of my accomplices did.  And he lived on the other side of town.  I would say it was about 1am when this friend got the brilliant idea of walking to his house.  How exciting.  There was nothing else to do so what the hell.  No one really wanted to play another round of Parcheesi anyway.  What could be the harm?

The harm could be that there was a curfew for kids under the age of 18.  The nice officer stopped and gave us a warning.  He said, “if you turn around and go directly home, I won’t bring you in or call your parents.”  Now that I am a mother, what the hell was this guy thinking?  I may have a problem with an officer of the law who allowed my child to continue walking down a dark road past midnight through the middle of town.  So, 2 of us made an about face and started marching home.  #3 was hell bent on seeing her man so she continued on her original journey.

Mr. Policeman did not find that amusing.  He must have seen us in his rearview and immediately made a U-turn.  Into the car the three of us went, on over to the station where he wrote up JD cards for each of us while we waited for our parents.  I could have murdered #3.

With all the ridiculous crap I was up to, I was actually worried about a JD card.  I panicked and saw my life flash before my eyes.  I was sure no one in the world would hire me.  I would never get a job.  I would be a bum in the streets.  For life.  I imagined my homemade sign while I sat on the side of the road begging for food, “I made a mistake when I was 15.  Won’t you spare a dime?”

My parents were not happy about my incarceration.  I kind of blocked out what happened after I saw the look on my dad’s face as he walked into the police station.  I’m pretty sure I was grounded for an eternity.  As for the JD card, the guy was pulling our leg.  You know, trying to scare the crap out of us?  Well, it worked.  And the next time I snuck out, I was just a bit smarter.  I think.  Well, no.  I believe I got caught then too.

Scary Mean Friend

I completely missed Throwback Thursday this week.  I guess my birthday celebration in the city threw me off.  Well, better late than never.

I was perusing the internet for some blog posting ideas when I came across this one:  What is the funniest or meanest prank you ever played on someone.  And it made me think of one incident when I was about 13.

My BFF at the time was Stacey.  We were pretty much inseparable. She lived about a mile from my house and we would meet “halfway” almost every day.  We even had babysitting gigs right next door to each other.  The parents of the kids we sat for were friends and often went out together.  As was the case this one particular evening.

While babysitting, we would call each other on the phone and chat all night long.  Hey, we only got a buck an hour. What did you expect?  Mary Poppins?  I don’t remember it word for word, but here is about how the conversation went:

Me: Hi Stacey, don’t be too freaked out but there is a man in a black cape and mask walking around your yard.
Stacey:  WHAT?  Oh my God!  What?
Me:  Yeah, he’s really creepy looking.  I saw him looking in the back door.
Stacey:  Holy shit.  Holy crap.  Holy Mother of God.  Help me.  Oh my God, what am I going to do?
Me:  I don’t know!  Oh my God, now he’s going around to the front!!
Stacey:  {sob, sob, sob,  sniff, sniff}  I’m.really.scared. (at this point the girl is completely freaked out bad.  Real bad.)
Me:  Where are you right now?
Stacey:  Behind the refrigerator.

It is at this point I figured I better let her in on the joke or she will die of a heart attack.  I told her I was messing with her between my bouts of laughter.  I was a terrific friend.  I think all teenage girls should have a friend like me.  God Bless Stacey for putting up with me for so long.  She was really relieved and really forgiving.

So, if you want to be my friend, I promise not to play jokes on you.  I’ve kind of outgrown that.  Kind of.

The Devil Mother

I love creepy, scary movies.  The scarier, the creepier, the better.  When I was 13, I begged my mom to let me to watch The Exorcist.  It was on HBO.  On a school night.  She was quite hesitant at first, but after much begging and prodding, I wore her down.  There was something in her voice that didn’t quite sound right.  I should have known.  I also should have just settled for an episode of  H.R. Pufnstuf and gotten my ass in bed.  But I didn’t.

My mom isn’t a conventional mother.  She is very loving and nurturing but just um, for lack of a better word….kooky.  For example: my childhood bedroom was always cold.  She had no problem telling me that was because someone died in there.  THAT is my mom.  She’s not trying to be mean.  She just always thought it was funny to torture her children.

I thought I was so cool.  I couldn’t wait to brag to my friends the next day.  Unfortunately, I barely made it half way through the movie.  I’m not sure if it was the head turning vomit throwing freak or the unmentionable things being done with a cross.  It was enough to send me to my room running and screaming for my life.  My mother’s reaction, of course, was “I told you so.”

After a few minutes, I got up the courage to leave the safety of my bedroom to go brush my teeth. All the while looking around me to make sure the devil wasn’t going to jump out from somewhere.  Little did I know, it wasn’t the devil I should have been afraid of.

Once I finished and returned to my bed — hiding under the covers because Satan cannot get you in there — my dear mother popped her loud, screaming self out of my closet.  Holy Crap!  I even think I may have pooped myself.  If I had some holy water on my bedside table, I would have thrown it in her face.  It took me a few seconds to realize it was her and not actually Linda Blair.

After I calmed down and closed my eyes, this is what I would see:

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I was expecting the devil to make his appearance any minute.  I swear I felt my bed shake during the night.  The next day I couldn’t go to school.  Because I was totally possessed.

Believe it or not The Exorcist has turned out to be one of my favorite fright movies.  But for some reason, I cannot get the kid to watch it.  I promise not to jump out of your closet, honey.  Ok, well, I half promise.

Dress Down

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See this dress?  I wore it to death. It was long, almost to my ankles, had a cute little belt and buttons that started half way down my back and went all the way to the bottom.  I adored this dress.

I used to have to commute about 45 minutes one way to work.  I worked for a big corporation in White Plains.  It was fun, but the days were long.  One evening, after I pulled into the driveway, I noticed that Dan from across the street was hanging out with my brother on the front porch.  Oh joy.  He’s such an asshole.  I was not in the mood to deal with him.

After I collected my things from my car and walked up the stairs to the house, Dan says to me “nice ass.”  Gee, thanks Dan.  You’re an asshole.  And yes, I do have a nice ass.  Thank you very much.

I go into the house and continue on to my room to change.  I reach behind me to unbutton my dress and the blood immediately leaves my face.  Holy shit!  I have just died.  They are already undone.  From the top button all the way to the bottom.  The asshole got a nice shot of my butt.  My thonged butt.  Thank God pantyhose were in at the time.  At least they covered up something.

I figured that they must have come loose in the car.  This is what happens when you love something to death.  It doesn’t pay to be loyal.  You just get shit on.  The button holes must have stretched out after about a million wears.  It was time to retire my beloved dress.  I did love you so.  Well, until you did this to me.

So, that was a major wardrobe malfunction to say the least.  I would say second to Janet Jackson’s ordeal.  Except I didn’t do mine on purpose.  I swear.