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It was late November, six days before Thanksgiving. I rose early, laced up my running shoes and forayed to the grocery store to procure food for the holiday meal.
I thought arriving at the store before it opened would help me miss the worst of the crowds. The line out front dispelled my visions and gave dire forebodings of Black Friday.
When the glass doors whooshed open and myself and four hundred of my neighbors surged into the store.
The more desperate shoppers took a left and headed straight for the turkeys. My turkey was at home in the freezer. I was here only for fresh produce and pumpkin pie filling. I selected a cart, hoped in vain that it didn’t have a wobbly wheel and steered toward the green beans.
A woman banged her cart into mine so hard it shot out of my hands. I stared at her in disbelief. She laughed loudly into her cell phone and told the listener what happened. She didn’t even apologize!
I recovered my cart, selected my green beans and wheeled to the baking aisle.
I was weighing the merits of regular canned pumpkin versus organic canned pumpkin when I felt a sharp sudden pain in my right foot.
Unbelievable! The woman who rammed my cart earlier had now run over my foot! She was so engrossed in her phone conversation that she didn’t even notice.
In righteous indignation, I selected the organic pumpkin, slammed it in my cart and limped toward the check out.
The woman on her cell phone was in line in front of me.
I felt my eye twitch.
She prattled on into the phone and rudely ignored the cashier.
Finally, the malingered cashier scanned all her items. He looked to the woman for payment and she pulled out her checkbook!
I sucked air. Why, oh why, didn’t she start writing the check when she got in line?
“Hold on,” the woman said into her phone. She looked at the cashier and laughed, “What store am I in?” She gestured to her checkbook implying that she couldn’t begin writing her check until she knew who to make it out to.
I had a sudden vision of myself ramming her repeatedly with my cart. Through the mist of my fantasy, I realized someone was screaming. Then, I realized that someone was me.
“Get off the phone and check out! You are holding up all these people,” I screamed.
Someone in line behind me shouted, “Amen!”
“Who uses a checkbook anymore?” I was unrelenting. Shoppers applauded.
The woman frantically pulled out a debit card, paid and fled the store.
Next year, I’m avoiding this problem. I’m going to Thanksgiving at my sister’s.
This is a repost from last year but it was so well loved (and who wouldn’t love that face) that I’m sharing it again. Happy Thanksgiving!
November, it’s the time of year when we pause and give thanks.
I’ve seen many displays of true thanks in my life but none so poignant as the one I received from a ragged kitten one cold autumn evening. It was a remarkable event. Never before have I seen someone or something so utterly appreciative. Even more astounding, thanks isn’t usually a trait one associates with cats. Condescension is more in keeping with their reputations.
Seti, as he would later be named, was an ugly kitten besides; I already had three cats and a dog. I needed a kitten like I needed a new pair of shoes, which is to say I didn’t need a kitten; I wanted a kitten. When that hapless little face with it’s too big ears and giant nose stared up at me from the hay bales I knew I was taking him home.
“I’ll find a home for him,” I later explained to my husband Brian. “I couldn’t leave him in the barn. Something would have eaten him. Something has already tried to eat him,” I told him and it was true. The kitten had teeth marks on his hind leg.
A friend helped me catch the shy little black cat. The tiny thing fit easily inside my hand. I put him in a large, clear storage container and loaded him into my car. On the ride home, he sat still and quite, resigned to his fate. When we arrived at my house, I carried the storage bin to my office, shooed the adult pets out of the room and set the tiny kitten on the floor.
He took no notice of his surroundings. He did not play or investigate. He sat still and waited. His whole demeanor was of a cat who knew he was going to die. My heart broke for him.
I sat on the floor and placed a bowl of cat food between us. He sniffed it and was gripped with sudden understanding; the little cat knew he was safe. Though he was undoubtedly hungry, he walked around the food bowl, climbed into my lap, purred and kissed me extravagantly. He put his whole body into it rolling around on my leg and shaking with a deep, rumbling purr. He seemed far too small to have such big emotions. Though he must have been hungry, he didn’t eat until he had exhausted his appreciation.
Never before had I seen someone or something so grateful for a simple act of kindness. Perhaps it takes a simple creature to display an emotion so pure or perhaps it was his desperate situation that brought on such a genuine display. I scooped him up kissed him.
I heard my husband Brian sigh. “Yeah, you’re going to ‘find’ him a home alright,” he said.
He was right. I found the grateful little kitten a home: ours.
Last week, I traveled to a nearby town to meet my aunt, my parents and a cousin for lunch. Because we all live in different places, this was a fun chance for us to catch up.
My mother relayed the latest news regarding my two nieces ages seven and four.
“Nicole got a note from a boy at church,” she said of my oldest niece. “He’s a year younger than she is so she moves up a Sunday school group before him. He is always glad when they are in the same class again.”
My aunt and cousin laughed. Seven and she’s already getting love notes from boys – younger boys at that. Good for her.
I grinned. “She takes after her Aunt Nora,” I joked.
Telling stories in our family happens in spurts. You have to make room for the one-liners the group spouts. Once the laughter subsides, you have to jump in again or someone will take over.
Mom sailed along with her story. “He’d written, ‘Nicole, you are very beautiful,’ on one side of the card,’” my mother continued.
This met with more laughs, the kind of laugh people make when they remember being young and wonder what happened. I was guilty of laughing this laugh along with my older relatives. Wondering where the time had gone stifled the one-liners this time.
“Then,” Mom went on, “he wrote, ‘You have beautiful hair,” on the other side of the card.
“She really does take after me,” I interjected. I was only half joking this time.
I’m a bit preoccupied with my hair, too much according to my husband Brian. I ignore him. My hair is my hobby.
“She does have beautiful hair,” my aunt agreed.
She does. Nicole’s hair is long, blonde and tipped with soft ringlet curls. She could make Barbie green with envy. I doubted the six-year-old admirer from Sunday school would be her last.
My mother continued. “Then, on the back of the card he’d written, ‘you are very nice.’ Nicole looked at it and said, ‘He’s a little younger so he must not know about capitalization yet.’”
We erupted in laughter and everyone looked pointedly at me, the writer, “She really does take after me.” I wasn’t joking at all this time. “Love notes are nice but be sure your grammar is correct if you’re going to send one to me,” I laughed.
My hair might be my hobby but proper grammar is my career!
This story is the second of a series. Read the first one here.
“The dog,” I repeated dumbfounded.
“She’s just so adorable,” my friend Shelly exclaimed.
We were at brunch with a multitude of Shelly’s closest female friends and relatives. It’s the type of event that’s a bit girly for my tastes but my social life has been slow. I was there in the hopes of making new friends. Besides, Shelly told me she had something important to ask me. I thought she might ask me to be a bridesmaid.
“She is adorable,” I couldn’t disagree. My dog Starla is an English Pointer and Lab mix who tops the scale at a slight thirty five pounds. She knows how to be cute, points at birds in bushes and retrieves any toy you’re willing to throw, no matter how many times you throw it.
“But she’s a dog,” I exclaimed.
“I know she’s a dog, silly,” Shelly bubbled “and that’s why I want her to be in the wedding.”
“You want a dog in your wedding,” I still didn’t understand. Why would Shelly want someone else’s dog in her wedding?
“No, I want your dog in my wedding. She’s going to be my flower girl. Susan’s dog Max, you know Max, the cute little Schnauzer? He’s going to be the ring bearer,” she bubbled. I swear the woman was bubbling.
“I’ve made an appointment for her at Paws Boutique,” she continued. “They specialize in canine couture and she’s set to have a blueberry facial scrub and a mani/pedi at Doused Doggies Day Spa.”
“Doggie couture? That’s a thing?”
“No Nora, keep up, it’s canine couture and it’s the latest thing. Didn’t you read about it in this month’s Edge magazine?”
“My copy must be lost in the mail,” I replied dryly. She missed my tone and bubbled away.
“Here are a list of her appointments. She’ll need to be at the rehearsal dinner and don’t worry, we’ve ordered a special cake for the flower girl and ring bearer from the doggy bakery. Do you think you can train her to walk down the aisle carrying a basket of flowers in her mouth?”
“Probably,” I answered slowly. I wondered if Shelly was off her meds. “I can’t guarantee she won’t eat the flowers when she gets to the altar.”
Shelly laughed, “You’re so funny, Nora! Ok, I have to go ask my great aunt Millie if she’ll be our D.J.” She bounded away.
I took a deep pull of my mimosa and tried to figure out what had just happened. My dog was in the wedding party and I reduced to the roll of canine chauffer. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her associating with Max the Schnauzer who once bit me on the calf and I was less sure how I felt about her dressing up as a flower girl.
Oh well, I thought, these things are too girly for me anyway. Perhaps my dog can enjoy the finer points of being female. I just hope she doesn’t have to wear heels!
My friend Shelly blinded the room with the flashing gleam from her left hand and the beaming smile on her face.
“Let the wedding planning begin,” Shelly announced. The other assorted friends and relatives, all female, cheered.
I raised an eyebrow. I’m not a natural when it comes to large groups of women. In spite being the same gender, I find large female gatherings perplexing and with a decided lack of the sarcasm to which I’m accustomed.
“You’re going to a girls only brunch to help plan Shelly’s wedding,” Brian repeated in disbelief when I told him my plans.
“What’s so strange about that,” I asked.
“You hate those sorts of things. You called your sister’s baby shower a ‘grotesque misuse of the color pink’ said ‘there were too many children present’ and ‘not enough adult beverages by which I mean there were none.’”
“What’s your point,” I asked dryly.
“Why are you going to Shelly’s brunch,” he asked.
“Recently, I’ve found myself with a lack of girlfriends,” I said clearing my throat.
“Gee, really,” he said sarcastically “maybe that’s because you make fun of the things girls like to do.”
“Precisely and I think it’s time for me to branch out, to be more open to things. I probably won’t love brunch but maybe I’ll meet someone cool who’ll want to go kayaking or to hear a band,” I mentioned some of my favorite hobbies. “If putting up with something that’s a bit uncomfortable is the price I have to pay to make new friends I’m willing to give it a shot.”
“Speaking of uncomfortable you know you won’t be able to wear jeans to brunch,” he grinned.
“I had not considered that,” I was momentarily set back but rallied. “I do own dresses. Occasionally, I even like to wear them. I’ll just decide to like wearing one that day.”
He eyed me. He knew me well. There was something I wasn’t saying and he had a look on his face that said he was going to pry it out of me.
“What do people drink at brunch,” he asked casually.
“I don’t know. Coffee. Tea. Mimosas,” I muttered.
“There it is,” he laughed. “Admit it. You’re going to brunch for the champagne. You’re going to dress in uncomfortable clothes, help a girl you only sort of like plan her wedding and spend half your Sunday at brunch for a drink?”
I laughed. “No but I confess it doesn’t hurt to know there will be something I’ll enjoy. Besides Shelly hinted that there was something special she was going to ask me. I think she might want me to be a bridesmaid.”
He mimed taking my temperature.
“Very funny,” I rolled my eyes. “I’ve been a bridesmaid before and remarkably enough I enjoyed it.”
Little did I know that Shelly was not going to ask me to be a bridesmaid. If I had known what she had in store, I would have stayed home.
No. It wasn’t fair. She promised they weren’t contagious!
They were contagious.
Since we relocated to a new town a year and a half ago, my husband Brian and I have seen little of the friends we left behind. Now that we’re settled, we’ve begun inviting friends to visit us.
Last weekend, our friends Dave and Stefanie came to stay for a few days. It was great to see them! Unfortunately, a half a bottle of tequila wasn’t the only thing they left behind.
“I’m sick,” I told my husband Brian. “I caught Dave and Stef’s cold.”
“Poor baby,” he replied.
“Stef did warn me,” I said. “She texted me before they left saying that they had colds but they weren’t contagious anymore. I thought I wanted to see them more than I minded possibly catching a cold. Now, I’m not so sure.”
“Ha,” he said. He actually said “ha.” He didn’t laugh.
“Easy for you to say,” I retorted. “You almost never get sick and when you do you think the mildest sniffle is going to kill you.”
He gave me a look.
“Remember last winter? I had that cold for seven days and I not only went to work, I cleaned the house, cooked dinner every night and composed a manifesto on the advantages of chicken soup,” I said.
“I don’t remember a manifesto…”
I cut him off. “Then you got a mild case of the same cold and you spent two days in bed.”
“I was sick,” he said indignantly.
“You said, ‘I think there’s something really wrong. I mean, it’s really bad,’ so many times the cat started quoting you. Your only symptom was a runny nose! You didn’t even have a fever! My fever reached 103 but I didn’t let that stop me!”
“Is there something that could stop you now,” he asked dryly.
“I’m getting worse,” I told him. “I can feel it in my chest and my throat is scratchy. I think I’m going to lose my voice.”
“Really,” he asked with far too much enthusiasm.
“You’re happy that I’m going to lose my voice,” I accused him.
“Of course not,” he said unconvincingly.
“Uh huh,” I didn’t believe him. “This time I’m going to be the one who spends days in bed bemoaning my condition.”
“Well, it’s a good thing Dave and Stef left more than a cold behind,” he said.
“What do you mean,” I asked.
“They left half a bottle of tequila,” he told me. “I think I’m gonna need it, especially if you don’t lose your voice.”
My husband Brian found me hard at work at my desk.
“Sorry to interrupt,” he said. He was holding a shoe in his left hand and had a perplexed look on his face. “Do you know where we keep the shoe polish?”
We had moved to a new city a year ago. We sold our little house and moved into a littler apartment. Since the move, Brian had plagued me with “where do we keep” questions. I felt my eye twitch.
“It’s in the laundry closet,” I replied.
We don’t have a full laundry room in our apartment. Instead, we have a washer, dryer and two shelves hidden in the hallway behind bifold doors.
Its efficient layout surprisingly gives us more storage space than the laundry room in our old house. I took brutal advantage of it.
I bought enough plastic storage bins to fill both shelves and organized our cleaning supplies, spare light bulbs and other household needs into the clear-sided bins. Finding things was as easy as looking through the side of the container.
My husband is a very smart man. He is also a very organized man. The closet system should be a snap for him.
Three days later, I was curled inside a blanket reading a book.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Brian said. He was holding a dead light bulb in his left hand and had a perplexed look on his face. “Do you know where we keep the three-way bulbs?”
“In the laundry closet,” I snapped.
“Jeez,” he snapped back, “you don’t have to get huffy!”
“We have lived here for a year. Literally lived here for one year! Surely, this isn’t the first time you’ve needed a light bulb,” I shot back.
“I couldn’t remember where we keep them,” he shouted.
I tossed my book on the couch, dramatically swept the blanket off and marched to the laundry closet.
I threw the doors open with a swoosh.
“There,” I proclaimed. “There are the light bulbs, the shoe polish, the spare pet supplies, the bathroom cleaning supplies, the clean rags, the glue, the you name it it’s in one of those bins!”
I flounced back to the couch.
The next morning I was in the shower.
“Sorry to interrupt,” Brian’s head suddenly appeared from behind the shower curtain. “Do you know where we keep the…”
I threw a sponge at him and he fled.
Later that day, I armed myself with the labeler and a fresh batch of blank labels.
I labeled every single item in the laundry closet including the bleach.
When Brian returned home from work, I dragged him to see the results of my labor.
“If you ever ask me where something is again,” I threatened, “no jury will convict me.”
“Hey,” he said, clearly impressed, “Do you know where we keep the labeler.”