| Columns |
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Twice lately I have walked to a podium, ready to address a large group, when I realized an embarrassing problem that I simply could not hide: a not-yet dissolved cough drop in my mouth.
Both times I was caught off-guard and didn’t have ample time to dispose of (or, in cruder terms, spit out) the pesky ball of sugar, menthol and red dye.
Cough drops have become my candy du jour lately.
About now, you might be asking if I have a cough drop addiction.
The answer is no.
You might be wondering if I have a long-term cough or cold.
Again, the answer is no.
But I have had irritating sinus problems and hoarseness particularly bad, this spring season, as I often do when pollen and grass abound.
But rather than charging into the doctor’s office, I’ve tried some home remedies.
A cool air vaporizer has helped a little.
On really bad days, I’ll take an antihistamine.
But the problem there is sleepiness and/or dry mouth.
That combination is “killer” for a speaker—picture mispronounced words that are slurred accompanied by large, noisy yawns that show rough tonsils and old tooth fillings.
Therefore the cough drops.
They also help in church when all is quiet and I’m trying to suppress a cough.
Ask any of my pew mates: I’ve been known to pass around a few.
If I don’t have cough drops I always have Altoids, wintergreen mints or Tic Tacs, oh, and a bottle of water.
I’ve turned into my mother with my little bag of candy.
But I digress.
So, what does a wild-and-crazy woman—(that would be me) who nods appreciatively as her bio is read aloud (that would also be me), who realizes as she picks up the hand-held microphone (yep, again, me),—do, when she realizes she can’t say a word until she (uh-huh, moi), disposes of her partially melted but still very much there cough drop.
I’m glad you asked: In the first case, at the church, I was already at the podium when I realized my faux pas.
So I grabbed an extra piece of paper to hold the drop, but when I “coughed” it out, it landed—get this—inside my bra.
And the worst part was that everyone on the front row saw this. Yeah, they did.
And then they got tickled.
I heard whispers, snorts and other assorted guffaws.
So I did what any honest, red-blooded, embarrassed woman standing in front of a church crowd might do.
Then they laughed harder.
That type of response is what I hope to achieve during my actual talk/presentation (and not just the first two minutes).
Therefore, I seriously considered saying, “Thank you, I enjoyed it and I’ll see you around,” then running out of the church, never to be seen again.
But they wanted a little more, so I did my talk minus the cough drop.
The next time I arrived early for a talk, and because the group’s planned agenda was running ahead of schedule, they began introducing me the moment I entered the building.
After a quick trip to the powder room, they urged me to “Come on up!”
So I did, but again, I remembered the cough drop, which I had JUST unwrapped and popped into my mouth.
It was actually pretty much whole.
This time I had no paper to dispose of the culprit.
So I had no choice but to announce my dilemma to the entire group.
The woman who invited me to speak, a lawyer and the “Governor” of this civic club, was at the head table.
Because she has personality plus and is also quick on her feet (and off) she jumped up, offered me a Kleenex and took the cough drop from me.
Everyone cracked up—except me.
I was mortified.
I did the talk and when I began wrapping it up, so to speak, I had a coughing jag.
Leigh jumped to attention though and asked if I wanted my cough drop back.
Y’all might think the first time this hilarity happened was odd (true) and the second time it was planted (not true).
However, I’m seriously thinking of planning the cough drop scenario for future times because it seems to get more laughs than any words I could actually speak.
Wednesday, 06 April 2011
I’m always telling my grown daughters, “Life isn’t fair.” And now I have the perfect example to back it up. I was in an automobile wreck last week and I’m still pretty shook up. Though I am lucky (no, I won’t say lucky, more like blessed) to be alive, I keep remembering the scene: I was sitting at a stoplight, waiting for it to turn green. When that happened, I inched out, looking both ways — a habit I’ve had forever — and saw nothing, but simply heard and FELT the horrific crash of a pick-up truck broadside me. He was going that fast! Not only that, this caused my car to spin around, now facing oncoming traffic. This happened at a busy intersection with four lanes, plus turning lanes, with a speed limit of 35 mph. I truly believe the guy who ran the red light was going 35-40. Just to be on the safe side (no pun intended) I did have EMS transport me to the hospital.
The worst pain I felt was a crushing sensation in my chest from the seatbelt. My air bags did not deploy. I felt like a bowling ball had hit my right breast, and now, an ugly bruise confirms my suspicion. Those of you that know me also know I am a fanatic about seat belts, but let me reassure you: they DO save lives and I’m now living proof. If you read this and get nothing out of it, but a preachy, “Wear your seatbelt!” then so be it. But in the midst of all that shock, horror and disbelief, a few light-hearted moments occurred:
When it first happened, it felt like slow motion with NO ONE around. I had the foresight to drive my car forward to the curb, so I’d be out of the way of incoming traffic. Amazingly, it was clear in those lanes when I spun around. “Angels Watching Over Me,” the song by Amy Grant, comes to mind. Next, a lady that witnessed the accident stopped to check on me (and later gave a statement to the officer.) But before this, I tried calling 911, only to get a recording. Maybe my hands were shaking so bad that I hit the wrong buttons. I don’t know. Then I called 0 and got another recording, saying to call 911 if this was an emergency. As I frantically began telling the dispatcher my story, a detective in an unmarked car ran toward me, saying, “Are you okay?” I answered, “Yes, but my right breast sure is sore.” I was out of town, so I proceeded to explain how on that very day I had accidentally (there’s that word again) packed my “good” bras and was wearing a tube-bra. I said maybe that was a good thing because otherwise I would have terrible strap marks or burns. He didn’t seem to comprehend that. Thinking about this later, maybe that was TMI.
When the EMT went to put the collar around my neck, that was the WORST pain of all. First off, I didn’t need the collar because my neck and spine were fine. I was even able to walk to the ambulance. I know they serve a purpose when needed, but this was not the day. It was cutting into my chin, pulling on my hair and my earrings. Ouch! I tried to remove the earrings, then asked both EMT’s (who were hunched over me checking vital signs) if they could help me remove my earrings. What a look of surprise they gave me. “I’ve never done that before,” one of them said, trying to hide a laugh. My blood pressure was sky high and I normally have low blood pressure. So the EMT tried it manually and said it was a bit lower. It’s funny how your mind works, but I saw a huge clock at the back of the ambulance and the time read, 6:30. I knew the accident happened at 12 noon, so I thought maybe I was unconscious part of the time? Then I told the EMT and he said, “I don’t think that old clock has ever worked.” Hmmmmmm. Interesting.
They wheeled me into the hospital and immediately a very, very young and sweet nurse came to my side. She said we were twins and then explained what she meant. I had on a zebra skin hoodie and she had on zebra skin nursing shoes (Dansko, I’m guessing.) But guess what? It’s such a small world. Ashley told me she graduated from USC (same as our daughter, Katie) AND she used to live in Pawleys Island! A lot of her family now lives in Georgetown, even. She mentioned the last name Lambert. But I forgot what her grandmother’s name is. And she is married, but I didn’t get her current last name. I told her about writing for the Georgetown Times and before I left, I gave them a copy of my latest book.
The FNP examined me and said I sure was perky! I told her that’s my usual nature, but I think she wrote down AD/HD for a diagnosis. I also told her she had the same name as my sister, Nancy. AND the FNP lives in New Bern, where I was born. Small world, again.
Well, all of this is to say, I’m sorry about that awful wreck. By the way, the other driver is fine, as well. It sure puts things in perspective. I’m waiting now on a rental car, after the adjuster calls me. When I get in it, guess what’s the first thing I’ll do: Buckle up! Click it, or ticket! I hope you will do the same.
Friday, 01 April 2011
Today is Valentine’s Day, a perfect time to announce our daughter, Katie’s, engagement to Michael.
He popped the question a few weeks ago, and it’s an amazing story. Their introduction was perfect – when it finally took place – and they’ve been together ever since. Though it was their friends’ second attempt to set them up, it almost didn’t happen at all.
At the first gathering, Michael came, hoping to meet this blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl who sounded pretty cool. But Katie didn’t make it, so she missed meeting this black-haired, blue-eyed boy who also sounded pretty cool.
A second get-together was set. This time Katie went, but Michael couldn’t make it. As a chemist, he was finishing up four days of twelve-hour shifts. About 10 pm the group of seven drove to the Triangle Lounge. Katie said she’d pass; she was tired and had to get up early the next morning. But they persuaded her since Rodney and April had a secret plan: they called Michael – who was snoozing comfortably at home – and insisted he come and meet Katie RIGHT THEN! Michael fell back asleep, but mysteriously was jerked awake. (He says now that something made him get up and go.) Finally they met.
The next morning Katie was all smiles. She said they talked the whole night, and she liked him a lot. Later that day Michael invited her to play tennis, even mentioning future dates: walks on the beach, skiing. She agreed and reciprocated, by inviting him to her cousin Lindsay’s wedding, in Raleigh (Katie was a bridesmaid), and he gladly accepted. Just imagine, on their third date he met Katie’s entire family!
Talk about a unique first date: they met at a sushi restaurant downtown, each driving separately – too bad, I wanted to meet Michael! On the sidewalk, an acting scout invited Katie to be an extra in Hollywood East, a locally filmed TV show.
Talk about a unique first date: they met at a sushi restaurant downtown, each driving separately – too bad, I wanted to meet Michael! On the sidewalk, an acting scout invited Katie to be an extra in Hollywood East, a locally filmed TV show. Katie was intrigued, but said her date was waiting upstairs at Yosaké. “Fine,” the woman said, “he can be in the show too.” Michael loved the idea and was ready to leave. But Katie insisted they have dinner first. Afterwards, they went across the street and were assigned parts as extras. I ask you: what are the chances?
Michael has already blessed our family immensely – I hope we have his. Interestingly, I discovered Michael’s parents own Olympia, the finest Greek restaurant ever. The shock was, Russell and I’d been going there three years but had never met the owners. Michael himself is a wonderful chef. He prepares divine pasta carbonara right here in our kitchen! He’s even teaching Katie how to cook.
Also, we’ve fallen in love with his dog, Gus (now Katie’s dog, too), non-animal lovers that hub-Russ and I are. I even wrote a column about him. When Katie returned to school (for nursing), Michael’s family hired her as a part-time waitress. Michael often bartends – he, too, is going back to school. His family is very close, warm and gregarious, and his relatives hail from New York, Pennsylvania and Greece. We’ve enjoyed New Years Eve at the restaurant, complete with authentic belly dancing, and an amazing Easter feast where we experienced delicious new foods and interesting customs. At Christmas, we hosted his family in our home for my first ever standing rib roast – which was magnificent, if I say so myself.
But my favorite story deals with their engagement. In December, after dating fourteen months, Michael asked Katie to go snow-skiing in Sugar Mountain. I knew they were getting serious and had discussed marriage. Both seemed ready, yet time marched on. As Christmas drew closer, I imagined Katie was hoping for a ring. She’d hinted that when the time came, Michael would first ask us for her hand in marriage. The trip was fast approaching, and I was getting nervous – at least, for her sake.
No warning, no casual leading up to it, no clearing his throat or cracking his knuckles. I was so shocked my jaw dropped.
The night before their trip, Russell and I dined at Olympia. They were both working and visited our table, even sitting with us off and on. Katie was getting us drink refills (about fifteen feet away), when Michael sat down and blurted out, in a hushed tone: “So, I’d like to ask you for Katie’s hand in marriage.” Do what? No warning, no casual leading up to it, no clearing his throat or cracking his knuckles. I was so shocked my jaw dropped. During this time, Katie would walk over, chat a moment, then leave. In between her visits, I (being the big mouth) told Michael how much we adored him, and how happy he’d made Katie. Russell echoed my sentiments and offered best wishes. Keep in mind, we couldn’t react: no hugs, handshakes or pats on the back. Eventually I realized we’d not answered his question, so I said, “Michael, the answer to your question is ‘YES!’” This, I also had to whisper. He smiled and nodded, appreciatively. Katie came back to the table, and Michael went back to the bar. I don’t know how I kept a straight face. I do know we quickly left after that.
That night Katie packed, and I remained quiet (a tough feat). When they arrived the next day, she called – but didn’t mention a ring. She called again the next afternoon, describing the cozy surroundings but difficult skiing maneuvers. Again, no mention of a ring. Finally, she called that night, and I knew instinctively “this is it!” I picked up the phone and heard her breathless squealing, “Moooooooom! I’m engaged!” And what a celebration it has been!
The date will be September, 2012, because Katie wants to finish nursing school. The location will be our beautiful church in downtown Wilmington. It’ll be a great affair because Morris weddings (my maiden name) are often interesting, sometimes quirky and always entertaining! (And did I mention FUN?)
We are thrilled beyond measure! Isn’t this what every parent wants for their child? To find true love and happiness? One thing’s for sure: whether it’s a big fat Greek wedding – we’ve already been asked – or a small skinny Greek wedding, it’ll be a marriage made in heaven with a honeymoon in Greece!