| Columns |
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
No sooner than the left-over Thanksgiving turkey became turkey tetrazini and the mashed potatoes become potato pancakes, did I see Santa appear on the neighbor’s lawn with his amazing reindeer; plus, garland with twinkling lights to adorn Southern porches. As y’all know, Black Friday has now taken on a new name, Black-and-Blue Friday. Thank God I wasn’t foolish enough to join the masses that fought over electronics, electronics and electronics. “What?” you say. Is there anything else people are buying for Christmas? Not according to the sales flyers!
Anyhoo, I got my ducks in a row, or rather, my cheese and crackers in a row, and planned a little Open House myself. Not ALL by myself — my friend, Peggy, was going to co-host. The object of this soiree was to get to know our neighbors (about two-hundred homes), have a little whine-and-cheese, and debut a small but profitable business with Peggy, my business partner. The date and time were set, the party food was purchased, the house was cleaned and the invitation was placed on our public bulletin board where we patio-home owners pick up mail. Because RSVP was plainly typed, I came home and awaited the calls. Statistics say that 10% of folks respond to invitations such as these, so I expected about twenty phone calls. The phone did not ring.
The next day I noticed my flyer was gone — taken down, but why? I called the HOA (home owner association) president who told me to check with another board member who had also had notices removed. I called him and he said it was true, his fish fry flyers (dontcha love that alliteration?) were removed, but he diligently placed a new one up every day until the event came. He suggested I do the same. Game on!
That night I worked on a new flyer and this time, I put it in a sleeve protector. I thought if the perpetrator was a recycler (ha, fat chance!) he/she wouldn’t dare throw away my page protector. I was not disappointed. However, later that day, a sign appeared from a stranger with its OWN page protector, saying, something to the effect of ‘we are not allowed to park company cars in our driveway and was I not also violating a solicitation ordinance’? Huh? My first thought was “Am I living in America, land of the free and brave?” And no, I did not read my HOA rules (so many pages long!) when I moved in because I thought I knew all about those rules: such as, no one is allowed to harbor farm animals — cows, chicken or pigs. Also, things like, you can’t add on a bedroom even if you are the Duggers and expecting your twenty-ninth child. And of course, no cars on blocks.
I went out of town and when I came home I had a message from the HOA president. She is a sweet Southern lady that reminds me of my mother. I realize she was only doing her duty when she apologized with the bad news: I could not host my Christmas Open House because I would be promoting my new business. “It’s on page 16,” she said. She encouraged me to attend the next board meeting (what a shame, I’ll be on my six-day cruise.)
So, even though I am a humorist, I am having trouble mustering up any laughter with this situation. In summary, this is what I learned: no one can host a party of any kind where orders are given or taken (hush, y’all, I can still boss Russell around and vice-versa!). That means no more parties for Tupperware, Silpada, Mary Kay or Pampered Chef. Also, it means if you are working for a commercial enterprise, say, Time-Warner, you must park your car in your garage! I guess the HOA considers this a “sign.” Yeah, I’d say so, a sign to get packing for my aforementioned cruise, where there are no rigid rules and a party atmosphere is encouraged!
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
You can call it frugal, stingy or both, but I hear more and more people talking these days about getting their money’s worth. Whether they’ve paid for something, received a gift or just feel entitled, it’s the new norm.
Case in point: a friend took her niece on a lake outing recently where paddle boat tours were offered. Karen is my age (40 or 50-something, don’t be so nosy!) and her niece, Lydia, is five-years-old. Karen paid the astronomical fee of $25 PER PERSON for a half-hour of what turned out to be sheer drudgery. At first, they paddled around the exterior of the lake, admiring the huge, Spanish-moss draped oaks and the many ducks waddling around. Ten minutes or so into the excursion, Lydia complained, “Let’s go back now. My legs are hurting.” Karen raised her eyebrows and said, “Aw, come on! Don’t you love this fresh air, sunshine and exercise? This is FUN!” Her pep talk didn’t help much. Lydia just paddled slower and slower, rolling her eyes. Karen said, “Now, listen, if I can do this, surely you can too!” And they stayed on that lake the full thirty minutes. Karen told me later, “I wasn’t about to stop just because Lydia was complaining. I was getting my money’s worth!” But I have to tell you: Karen, gym rat that she is (but remember, she’s no spring chicken), was quick to point out that she was the one who couldn’t walk straight for a week due to muscle spasms.
Years ago, when I ran my car through the car wash in Pawleys Island, I always dropped in my quarters for the vacuum cleaning as the last step. Sometimes the first deposit would do the job; but other times, I had to drop in more quarters — now I’m telling my age because I’m sure it costs lots more than that now. But if I was through vacuuming and there was still air, I would just keep vacuuming until it completely stopped. I might’ve looked like a crazy lady, but I admit it: I wanted to get my money’s worth.
Hub Russ is a golfer and he tells this story about getting your money’s worth: he says when golfers have a bad round and take many more strokes than normal to complete that round, they are often known to say, “At least I got my money’s worth today!” And finally, once on a cruise ship, Russell and I heard a comedian talking about this same subject. This big, boisterous, bodacious guy said he planned to take advantage of all the FREE food on the cruise. He went into detail: Three full meals a day, pizza snacks, taco snacks, ice cream bar snacks, midnight buffet and Captain’s Gala, plus cocktail parties! He emphatically stated, “I paid for it! It’s mine! I’m going to get my money’s worth!”
Well, I’m leaving in two weeks for a six-day cruise and like the comedian and most of the other guests, I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth. But afterwards, when I return home, I’ll get my money’s worth all over again: I’ll be huffing and puffing at Gold’s Gym, wishing I hadn’t gotten my money’s worth on the cruise ship.
Wednesday, 02 November 2011
Okay, it’s confession time. I have not been the best Halloween steward in recent years. I’m not proud of it either. For one reason or another, hub-Russ and I have conveniently had other plans for — I don’t know — say, the last ten years or so, on Oct. 31. We’d go out to dinner, take in a movie, or buy groceries. However, I didn’t buy candy. I didn’t leave the porch light on. I was quite the Halloween Scrooge! In fact, I was called this very thing point blank at the gym last Friday when Robi, my instructor said, “What are y’all doing for Halloween?” and I said, “Nothing!” I was being a smart aleck and I didn’t think anyone heard me. But she called me out! She said, “Ann Ipock, you are a Halloween Scrooge!” I felt bad. I didn’t realize it until then, but that’s exactly what I have been! (But I must ask: do they make a costume for THAT, for Scrooges? Because they sure have them for everything else — even Paula Deen herself holding a tub of buttah!)
In my defense, I did take part last year in our church’s Trunk or Treat. I felt a rush of pride and satisfaction when my little Sunday School class, (Katie, Sloan, Lauren, Evan Lydia and Miller) hugged me profusely and thanked me for the treats! I was even decked out in surgical scrubs.And, let’s not forget, the year before that, I helped when we had our Halloween night inside the church. Katie and I decorated an interior door for the event, and our grandchildren, Madison and Carly, had a ball. I took pictures and to this day, we laugh about the Fladd sisters’doggie costumes. No! They weren’t wearing a doggie costume. Their DOGS were wearing costumes!
But as I said, we left the house on Halloween night, in the past. This year, I decided to not shirk my responsibility as a mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbor and friend. I turned on the porch light, then opened the four bags of candy I carefully selected: Tootsie Rolls, Dubble Bubble, Tiger Pops and Smarties.
Yep, this was going to be the year of redemption! No more guilt for spoiling some sweet child’s Halloween, saying, “Every house on the block treated us — no tricks, just treats! EXCEPT for the one dark house with no lights, no pumpkins and NO JOY!” This time I was doing a 180, making amends with a turn-around, a come-back and a shout-out!
I fixed a quick meal but had one ear pealed for the little ghosts and goblins. Time marched on and an hour after my official “Halloween Redemption” began, the doorbell rang. Hallelujah! Katie answered just in time to find Spider-Man standing next to Zombie. She handed them the entire bowl, excitedly, “Here! Take all you want.” Their father smiled, but seemed concerned. After a stern look, they threw back most of the fistfuls they’d grabbed.
No worries, I thought. We’ve still got plenty of time (and candy!). Thirty minutes later, the doorbell rang again. Yes! This time, a princess and a fairy stood there, expectantly. I yelled out, “Give them all they want! I mean ALL they want,” because it was obvious my little Halloween parade was going to be short-lived. But they reached in and shyly plucked out only a couple of pieces.
And then it was over. Just like that, snap! Over! I guess the word is out and my reputation (as the Halloween Scrooge) is going to be tougher to renounce than I originally thought. And BOO to that!