Thursday, September 29, 2011

Freedom of Voice

Sometimes a voice should be used, but
not heard.
My family is a musical family.  We love to express ourselves through music.   Strangely, despite my father knowing how to play clarinet and my sister and I having played competitive level piano, we prefer the most primal route.  We sing.  And we sing all the time.  Loudly.  Usually acappella.  And stone cold sober.  And for three of us, not very well.  Most people would find this disturbing and grounds for institutionalization.  Or at least a violation of the local noise ordinance.

I’ll start right off by clearing my sister.  She has a great voice.  It’s not a sweet Sandy Denny soprano nor even a hip Lady Gaga voice.  My sister’s voice is a booming Broadway voice that could bring Ethel Merman to her feet and show Lea Michel a thing or two about breathing and hitting a note squarely as it should be rather than sliding around it like butter on a hot plate.  She actually performed with her voice.  The rest of us just sing.

We played and sang a variety of music in our house.  My father played swing music on the stereo so we were exposed to the Andrew Sisters, Bing Crosby, and Johnny Mercer at an early age.  My mother favored Burt Bacharach and with him, Dionne Warwick.  My sister developed a crush on Andy Williams (although I think it was really because she wanted to get to know Cookie Bear) and so she got an album of his.  I liked the traditional and sentimental songs found on children’s records, so I’d go around the house crooning ‘Let me call you sweetheart” or making everyone sick to death of Daisy whenever I rode my bike.  The neighbor boy showed us where to find rock music on the radio.  A whole new world opened and I embraced Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods while my sister gravitated towards The Beach Boys and Elton John. 

Because it was the age of variety shows, my sister and I used to provide after dinner entertainment for my parents with musical revues.  We did solos and duets, but the grand finale was always a huge medley of random songs, usually not preplanned, but involving a word in a lyric that overlapped with another lyric.  It felt like the shows went on for hours.   I'm sure my parents would agree.  Then my dad changed jobs and stopped having dinner with us.  It was the end of an era.  We went solo and stopped performing before a live audience.

 My sister and I took turns listening to albums on the stereo.  The headphone cord wasn’t very long, so we’d sit on the carpet, leaning against the bar, studying album covers and reading record sleeves (something I dearly miss with downloads).  We’d close our eyes and become absorbed into the music. 

One warm summer day, it was my turn to use the stereo.  The patio door was open, allowing a cool breeze to blow through the house and I was transported to a blissful circa 1960s beach with no sand or sunburn, listening to Jan and Dean.  It was all fine and dandy until dinner time when my sister whipped out the tape recorder. 

“Do you want to hear something?” she asked our parents.

“Sure,” they said.

My sister frequently recorded herself singing along with Andrea McArdle in hopes of being the next Annie.  However, tonight’s performance was not my sister.

"Deadman’s curve it no place to plaaaaay …oooh eee wah ooh …Deadman’s curve , you best keep awaaaaaaaaaay …”

There’s a reason why recording artists have the audio of their mikes looped back into their headsets.  I was mortified.  My parents laughed themselves to tears and my sister chalked one up for the younger sibling. 

Despite the embarrassment, I continued to sing along with the stereo.  The joy of singing with Patti Lupone easily outweighed any humiliation a hidden recorder could bring.   It’s not that my singing improved.  In fact, when I practiced sight singing with my piano teacher, the dog would routinely run out of the room to the furthest corner of the house.  He’d only return to the living room once we moved on to playing. 

Singing to albums or while doing chores or to pass time is a different category altogether.  It’s not only self-entertainment, but a way to more pointedly express emotions, like when I sang “Just You Wait, Henry Higgins” as I vacuumed and dusted or when my sister lamented that “maybe far away or maybe real nearby” she had “real” parents waiting for her in their mansion.  In a way, we lived life as a musical.

The extent to which our lack of musical inhibitions wasn’t normal was a brought forth during friend’s overnight stay.   

"What’s your mom doing?”  my friend whispered wide-eyed from the bed in the morning.

 “Making breakfast,” I said while stretching.

“No,” my friend said, then dropped her voice, “the other thing.”

“Other thing?” 

My friend frowned and listened to the swirling wail that came from the kitchen.

“Is she doing some sort of special Japanese prayer-thingy?”  she asked, trying not to be offensive, but curious about cultural differences.

“No,” I laughed.  “She’s singing.”

“A Japanese song?” my friend asked, perhaps referring to her perception of an Asian atonal scale.

I strained my ears trying to identify the tune.  My mother is horrible with lyrics.  Forget melody.  I heard something about “sgy.”

"'scuse me, while I kiss this guy.."
“I think it’s Jimi Hendrix,” I said getting up to check.

My friend trotted after me, looking at my then sixty-something mother contentedly beating eggs.  My mom doesn’t look like the psychedelic sort.  More like a Mamas and Papas woman, which she sings as well, especially on Mondays.

“Mom, what are you singing?” I asked after we exchanged ‘good mornings.’

“Hendrix,” my mom said.

My friend, stunned sat down at the table.  I sat with her.

“You’re surprised my mom knows Jimi Hendrix?” I asked.

“I’m surprised your mom is singing when I’m here,” my friend muttered under her breath.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well,” my friend hesitated and then lowered her voice even more, “it’s really bad.”

“Yeah, well, you should hear her sing Burt Bacharach,” I said.

“Oh!” my mom exclaimed with disgust.  “Burt Bacharach!  He has a terrible voice!  He should never record it.”

Commercialism is one thing.  But, when the heart wants to sing, any voice will do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scents and Scents' Abilities

The Quest for the E-Scent-ual Me
 Once more I’m cruising the counters, eyeing the various bottles, avoiding the questioning looks of the clerks until I find the object of my desire.

There! I spot the ad behind the counter and then the shapely vessel coyly hiding among other bottles on a silver tray.

Alas! There is another customer standing between me and my potential love.  I pace nervously at what I consider a polite distance, but apparently not I’m not polite enough.  The clerk scowls at me and jerks her head at one of her sister clerks.

“Can I help you?” the other clerk asks.

“No, thank you,” I nearly snap. 

The initial meeting must be private, an intimate introduction and perhaps conversation between just the two of us.  I stop my pacing and pretend to study the display shelf behind me, picking up bottles, looking at boxes while taking surreptitious glances at what might be my perfect match.

Oh, the places we’ll go, the sensation we’ll make.  She’ll announce my presence when I enter a room and linger a moment after me when I leave.  She’ll cause curious, secretive smiles from men and women, cause people to raise their heads from their books or laptops, lifting their noses into the air, unsure of exactly why. 

At last!  I think with relief as the customer sashays away swinging her pretty bag with rope handles.

I rush forward, seize my potential beloved, weighing the coolness of glass in my hand.  I sniff the atomizer.

Yes, yes, you are pleasing even freed from the fold-over in a magazine, I think.

I spritz a little on my wrist, sniffing it immediately, catching the faint hint of alcohol.  I wave my hand in the air a moment to dry, then sniff again.

Yes, jasmine and a hint of gardenia … maybe tuberose …

“Can I help you?” the clerk asks again.

“Not yet,” I say turning my back to her, closing my eyes and sniffing my wrist again. 

There’s no change. I spray more on my forearm.

“I just want to walk around a bit,” I inform the clerk matter-of-factly.

“Of course,” she says with a roll of her eyes and leaves me alone.

Is this it, I wonder.  Can you be The One?

It’s not just perfume.  Other scents also conjure up emotions or meaning for me .  The smell of diesel makes me smile, reminding me of the train that travels around the perimeter of Disneyland.  Leather reminds me of horses, as does the smell of cut grass. Tuberose reminds me of my wedding day, when I wove the blossoms into the wreath I wore.  Sweet olive reminds me of Louisiana and a friend who said the smell reminded him of urinal cakes (yeah, well, how would I know?).  Rubbing alcohol makes me wince, conjuring the doctor’s office and injections.  Stinky cheese makes me drool.  And each of my dogs have their own smell (and not in a bad way).

But, perfume ties in a specific identity for me.  My mother used to wear Chanel 5 or Halston for her daily scents, Shalimar for her evening fragrance. Even though she dabbles with other scents now and then, whenever I smell Chanel 5 or Shalimar, her image immediately comes to mind.  My sister only wore Poison briefly, but it still reminds me of her.  L’air du Temps reminds me of my 5th grade math teacher.  Giorgio reminds me of a dear family friend.  Pavlova reminds me of my first college roommate.

I started regularly wearing fragrances before I started wearing make-up, around sixth grade.  The first one I remember enjoying was Chantilly, powdery, casual, young.  It came in a pink box with a lace pattern on it.  It was a gift from one of my mother’s friends, who also gave me Jean Naté, Charlie, and Youth Dew.  But, it was the Giorgio family friend who gave me the fragrance with which I fell in love, Anne Klein.  It became my signature fragrance, at least in my mind. 

I wore it every day for ten years.  It was also powdery but heavy with the fragrance of “white flowers” – lily of the valley, jasmine, gardenia, and tuberose.  I loved the top notes, but even better how it wore during the day.  When I showered at night, there was a last fragrant sigh. The scent was discontinued about eight years after I started wearing it, at which point I started hoarding bottles, but I didn’t give up the daily wear. 

A guy I moved in with also loved the fragrance.  He also proved to be the tragic demise of Anne Klein.  When we broke-up, he took some of his belongings right away.  I was planning to move out as well, but I had to finish teaching the semester which ended in the next week.  We agreed that he could continue to remove his things while I was at work.  When I came home one evening, I noticed a scent in the air.  It wasn’t Anne Klein.

“You brought your girlfriend to my place?” I said with disbelief into the phone.

“No,” he said.

“I can smell her,” I said.


“You’re a stinking liar,” I said, slamming the receiver into the cradle.

How could I, with my signature fragrance not notice another perfume?  I stormed into the bedroom.  While the bed was mine, the mattress was his.  I sprayed the remainder of Anne Klein on to the mattress, pulling it off the bed and turning it over to make sure it was saturated.  He’d always remember the scent with me.  I’d find another fragrance to call my own.

It was more difficult than I thought.  I went back to White Shoulders but it wasn’t My Fragrance.  For my wedding, I raided perfume counters looking for something fresh and exciting.  I found Champs d’Elysée, a perfume made by Guerlain, maker of Shalimar.  I thought it appropriate that I follow in my mother’s footsteps, but not exactly.  I wore it for a while, but lost interest.  I still wear it occasionally and when I do, my husband smiles and says, “Smells like Ireland,” where we took our honeymoon.  But, he doesn’t say it smells like me.

I love freesias and looked for perfumes that featured freesias.  Somehow, the scent didn’t transfer well into fragrance.  L’eau d’Issey incorporated ozone, the “new” fragrance, and while it was pretty, it lacked depth and personalization, something I learned about when one of my college roommates and I both briefly wore Chanel 5 and discovered it smelled completely different on each of us.  I thought Tocca’s Stella was The One, even tried to convince myself it was, but it too, dimmed.

Alas!  We are one no more!
About a year ago it occurred to me, even though it’s almost 20 years later, maybe Anne Klein was still The One?  I went on E-bay and found her!  I paid much more than her original $16 price.  If she was as I remembered her, it might be possible duplicate her.  If not, at least I could wear her during “special occasions.”  When she arrived, I ripped open the box and sprayed her all over me.  I regretted it.  Either due to her age or mine, we didn’t click like we used to.  We’d moved on.

So, back to the perfume counters I go.

I wander around the store, sniffing my arm periodically, looking for deepening scents.  It’s nice.  I return to the counter and ask the clerk for a sample.  She sighs and obligingly squirts some into a small container and hands it to me.  I take it home, carefully remove it from my purse and put it on my dressing table among the other sample containers.  I sniff my arm again.

 Will you be The One this time? I wonder, already feeling let down.   

There’s a company in Los Angeles that makes custom fragrances with a professional “nose.”  $2,000 for the “recipe” seems reasonable if it restores a piece of one’s identity, but how will they know what's me?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Confessions of a Bibliophiliac

I keep blinking and squinting and slowly things start to come out of the fog.

Where am I? Who am I ?

It slowly dawns on me that my husband is standing in front of me, waiting from me to say something.

“Ehhhhh-uhhhh,” I groan screwing up my face.  Since when do I speak Zombie?

 I think there’s some dry drool in the corners of my mouth. 

“Book,” I grunt, waving the flopping appendage at the end of my arm.

“The one about the hangman?” my husband asks.

 “No, I finished that yesterday,” I say, feeling a little tetchy.  “This is another one.”

 “Another one?”  There’s a bit of shock in his voice.

 “It’s on loan,” I say, averting my eyes.  “I have to finish it before she gets back,” I mumble.  “It’s almost done.”

 I hold the book up, my thumb marking my place well past the half-way point.

 “Uh-huh,” he says and walks out of the room shaking his head.

 He’s not even in the hall before I hunker back down on the couch and fade back into the world of a five-year old boy trapped in a room.

 I know what my husband’s thinking.  I’m on another bender. But I can stop.  I’ve done it before.   I just need to finish this one …

 I’ve always been an avid reader.  It’s so easy for me to disappear into the written world.  I love living alternate lives in other places and the more lives lived, the better.  It doesn’t even have to be a particularly well-written story, although a great read is appreciated and savored.  But, I’m beginning to get concerned, perhaps because I’ve been watching Dr. Drew and “Celebrity Rehab.”  I’ve checked the symptoms online (thanks, and I think I’m a book addict.

1.      Extreme mood changes – happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc. -  Yes.   Of course, it depends on the book, but I’m definitely anxious when I’m away from the book.

2.      Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or at different times of day or night – Yes.  Must. Finish. Book.

3.      Changes in energy – unexpectedly and extremely tired or energetic – Yes.  See #2.

4.      Weight loss or weight gain  - Yes.  Clean finger foods are o.k. (Pages with Cheeto fingerprints are nasty).  However, stop reading to cook?  Forget it.

5.      Unexpected and persistent coughs or sniffles – Yes.  I’m a sympathetic reader.  Sometimes there’s a little something that gets in my eyes.

6.      Seeming unwell at certain times, and better at other times – Yes.  A few extra hours in bed to read a few more chapters, slipping out into the yard to read on the chaise...

7.      Pupils of the eyes seeming smaller or larger than usual – Yes.  Mom always said I’d ruin my eyes, but who has time to turn on the lights?

8.      Secretiveness – Yes.  My bladder isn’t really that small.

9.      LyingYes.  “Just wait until I finish this chapter…”

10.  Stealing – Yes.  Book “loaners” and “borrowers” – we know once a book leaves our hands, it’s never coming back.

11.  Financially unpredictable, perhaps having large amounts of cash at times but no money at all at other times – Yes.  Curse you, Amazon, and your one click purchases! 

12.  Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, odd cell-phone conversations – Yes.  Not everyone appreciates the world of wizardry or time travelling to visit hot 18th Century Highlanders.

13.  Repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency – Yes.  Sure, I’m the one who planned the cocktail party, but I just wanted to get to finish this chapter.

14. Book paraphernalia  Yes.  But most of the time it’s hastily homemade  – a post card advertisement made into a bookmark, a small flashlight on the nightstand

15. “Stashes” of books -   Yes, on tabletops, in purses, next to the toilet. You never know when the urge might arise and there’s nothing worse than not having a “fix.”

Just to be clear, I’m not an indiscriminate addict.  Sure, I’ve dabbled with a little chick-lit and some detective dramas.  Come on.  Who hasn’t?   And, yeah, there was that Harlequin Romance summer, back in ’82, but, hey, that was high school.

O.k.  Who am I kidding?  I’m hardcore.  I’ll read just about anything once.  But the stuff I really go for, the really good stuff, is epic.  Ideally, historically epic.  We’re talking over a thousand pages.  Oh yeah, man.  I read that stuff, and I’m out for a couple days.  And then the literary hangover, that time that I’m just kind of staggering around in a daze trying to get back into “reality,” that can last another day or so.  And I’m starting to do my own stuff now.  Yeah. “Homegrown” historical novel.  Not as good as the stuff on the street, but I’m working on it.

And, hey, I just found out - this friend of mine?  The one that loaned me the book about the five year old?  She’s got the hook up on the new Ken Follet book that she says is awesome.  AND it’s part of a trilogy.  She says she’ll let me read it as soon as she’s finished.  I can’t wait.

But, I can stop any time I want.  I just don’t want to. 


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Plasticity of Beauty

I’m obsessed with make-overs.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a person, house, dog, or furniture. I drive my husband insane with hours of watching What Not to Wear, various HGTV shows, and the Style Network.  Real estate godmothers convert humble abodes into the belle of the neighborhood.  Beasts become beauties.  Ugly ottomans are transformed into furniture swans. 

“But they’re all alike,” he says.

Au contraire, mon cher.  These shows take the ordinary in its infinite varieties and make it uniquely extraordinary.  That’s what makes the shows so appealing.  It’s not the beautiful made more beautiful.  It’s the democratization of beauty.  Everyone and anything has the potential to be beautiful, whether you’re an ottoman or human being.

Let me backtrack and clarify:  I’m not talking about the “Extreme” shows.  I don’t like the tear downs and rebuilds of people nor homes, the most horrific examples being a tie between The Swan and the show where brides competed for a multitude of reconstructive surgeries.  It’s not that I’m totally opposed to plastic surgery, but I think it should be reserved for moments when health or function are at risk or when a feature is so malformed that the general population is distracted by the feature.   The current trend of reconstructive surgery/injectables/implants in the pursuit of beauty and youth has resulted in a generic mathematically “pretty” face that isn’t attractive since it’s not individualized.  I can’t tell any Real Housewife apart from another and the only way I can tell one Housewife show from another is by accent.

No, what I like are surface make-overs – hair, make-up, a bit of paint, a change in fabric -  is that they’re temporary, transient, and plastic, in the sense that they’re flexible and subject to change on a whim.  For me, it’s imperative that the base structure remains. 

Eek, that’s an awful chair.

“I’ve painted this chair and changed the fabric on the seat …”

Oh, that’s kind of cute, but the color is off a little …

Being able to change something up to suit your sensibilities is a way of awakening the eye to potential that might’ve been otherwise overlooked.  And then, once a change is made, other features might become more appreciated.

It’s not just with chairs.

I’m not beautiful.

What’s “beautiful?”  Jennifer Aniston?  A burn victim survivor?  A baby?  Generally speaking, so long as everything is where it’s supposed to be (nose roughly in the center of the face, an eye on either side of the nose, mouth below nose), “beautiful” can be emphasized with a bit of  powder, gels, or paints.  Learning to find beauty and how to help others see it is a little more challenging, but available to everyone and everything.

My mother is one of those women who looks completely different when she wears make-up.  She’s also one of those women who is rarely seen without make-up.  She slept in her make-up (and contrary to what the beauty magazines threaten, she has great skin) and she rose and showered before everyone to re-apply her make-up. The first time I saw her bare-faced, I had no idea who she was.  Really.  I must’ve been around four or five years old.  Bewildered by this strange woman with my mother’s voice and body, I followed her into the bathroom and watched her “apply her face.”  Before my very eyes she was transformed from mystery woman to my Max Factor mother.  It was astounding what eye liner and lipstick could do.

I used to sit in my room, repeatedly drawing intentionally “unattractive” people with hair and clothing in pencil.  I’d “make- up” their faces in marker and crayon and restyle their hair.   I didn’t change the face structure.  Even back then, I decided that the structure beneath was fine.  Sometimes, I’d hold up the drawing on the window, retrace the original figure, and come up with a different “beauty treatment.”  I liked knowing there were a variety of looks that could make someone attractive.

I transitioned from painting paper to painting faces.  At first, like most girls, I imitated my mother’s beauty make-up.  But then it dawned on me that I could also transform myself into a cat, a dog, a clown, and even a man.  It was liberating, knowing how easily my outer appearance transformed to fit any inner fancy. Add a little cold cream to clear the palette and I was ready for the next look. I did the same with my room, painting murals on the wall, rearranging furniture, switching up bedclothes.  Some attempts weren’t as successful as others, but they gave a new angle.  Fun. 

Beauty shouldn’t be underestimated.  Feeling beautiful or in control of beauty is a powerful thing.

My sister and I are close in age.  We often experimented on each other with make-up applications and hairstyles.  On one occasion, my younger sister was begging me to do her make-up when I wasn’t in the mood.  To placate her, I consented to do her make-up, if she agreed with the usual terms:  no looking in the mirror until I was done.  She agreed.

I set to work in a flurry.  It was an exceptionally long session.  There wasn’t a corner of her face untouched by my hand and brush.  Finally, I was done.  I handed my sister the mirror.

At first, she seemed confused, not recognizing the face that looked back at her. 

“I hate you!” she said, then burst into tears and went to our mother to register her complaint.

“Look what she did,” my sister wailed.

My mother was usually pretty good at being stern when discipline was involved, but this time she couldn’t help herself.  It’s very hard to take tears seriously from a child who looks like an 80 year old.  My sister cried harder.

We might not be The Fairest,
 but who doesn't want to be at least "fairer?"
 (courtesy of Disney)
Of course, I was punished for taking advantage of my sister’s trust, but my mother is an eldest child as well, familiar with the obligatory mischief done to younger siblings, and there was no bloodshed or bruises.  But looking back, I realize there was some emotional bruising. 

In asking me to do her make-up, my sister wasn’t just asking for my attention.  She came to me because she wanted me to make her feel beautiful, even if it was only blue eye shadow and red lipstick. Making her look like our grandmother made her feel “the uglies” worse.  Even back then, I must have known there was more to her tears than just being a patsy.  I didn’t play make-up jokes on her after that.

I continue to play with make-up and on occasion I still apply it on friends and my sister.  I go to make-up counters to let strangers apply make-up on me. I watch as other people get their faces done.  I re-do furniture, redecorate my house, and take apart and re-purpose old jewelry. 
The general rule for any make-over is to play up the best features of the basic structure. Individuals vary on what they perceive to be the” best” feature.  So, if there are infinite perspectives on what is beautiful about a chair, dog, house, or human, doesn’t it follow that every chair, dog, house, or human is beautiful?  And beautiful in infinite varieties?  I love watching make-over shows, because I love watching people discover that beauty was always there.  They just needed to go through the journey to realize it.

Cue the Ray Stevens.  Sure, he also wrote “The Streak.”  Even comedians have beautiful moments.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

“Our service representative will be there between 8 am and noon on Monday.  Will that work for you?”

The problem isn’t the date.  I don’t have anything in particular planned, but four hours?
“Can you be a little more precise?” I whine.

“No.  All our appointments are in four hour windows.”
“So, I guess that means I’ll have to say it’s o.k. if I want to use your company.”  Wasted time makes me snarky. 

I picture the dispatcher typing “bitch” in the “comments” section of the booking.  My pool isn’t the only one with a defective filter.
Like most people, I do the usual shuffling of appointments and obligations to be home during the window.  The tasks I plan are ones that require minimal concentration and dedication.   Generally, these aren’t my usual tasks, but I don’t want to have to call out, “In a minute,” risk that the service person doesn’t hear me and then leaves, forcing me to call the service again to reschedule, thereby burning another four hour window.  That’s not paranoia, it’s experience.  Not incidentally, I also keep restroom visits to a minimum, and I’ll only use the bathroom closest to the front door.

Tension rises significantly as the appointment window draws to a close.   I begin to wonder if I missed the visit or a call to cancel.  I look out the window.  I check my phones and answering machine.  Maybe the service person got lost.  I become hyperaware of doorbell and knocking sounds, questioning my dogs’ responsiveness and throwing open the door “just in case.”   I check the other clocks in the house.   Sometimes, I’ll go online to make sure I haven’t missed Daylight Savings.  But I can’t call the company yet.  They're still within their timeframe.
 It’s  past the four hour window .  Fifteen minutes, to be precise.  That’s fair for fashionably late, isn’t it?  I call the service.

“It’s 12:15 and the guy isn’t here.”
In 46 years, I’ve only had one female service person.  I feel pretty safe I’m not being sexist.

“What’s your confirmation number?”
I give it to her and am put on hold long enough to hear most of “Love on the Rocks” and a promo of about how the company values my time.

“He’s on his way.”  The service equivalent of “the check’s in the mail.”
“O.K.” I say, clamping my mouth shut and quickly hanging up before something inappropriate slips out.

There is a growing feeling of resentment.  By waiting, I am forced to acknowledge that I need that service more than they need me.  By the flip tone of the dispatcher, I can tell the company isn’t concerned that I will go elsewhere or not be there if the wait is further delayed. 
Oh, yeah?  I’ll show them.

 I dig up the phonebook (oh, so passé, I know), vowing to take my business elsewhere.  There are large x’s in red marker through several ads and numbers already.  I’m somewhere in the middle of the alphabet.  Zach’s Pool Service must have a really grouchy client list.  They probably have an 8 hour window, like the phone company used to have.  I bet their dispatcher doesn’t even bother to hit the mute button when she laughs maniacally.
 I’m screwed.

Of the various jobs I’ve held throughout my lifetime,  none of them had a four hour window.  When I used old school time clocks, I had a 10 MINUTE window.  The last time punch clock I used was to the second.  I was honor bound to be on time while I taught, but a hallway of 36 unsupervised kids would definitely be noticed, not to mention the liability attached.  For any and all of the jobs I’ve held,  if I didn’t show up at the specific hour, even if it was an emergency, I risked a “vacation day” being spent, my pay being docked, or being fired.  I can’t imagine what it would be like telling people I’d be there between 8 am and 12pm.
45 minutes have passed.  I call the service again.  I know the physical store is less than 45 minutes away.

“I called 45 minutes ago to say that the service person is late, and he still hasn’t arrived.”  Needless to say, my tone is frosty.   

They put me on hold.  “We know how important your time is ….”

Not the flush of lust.
My face grows hot.  A tirade is building. 

I know unpredictable stuff happens.  I want a compromise.   In this era of cell phones, I don’t understand why there can’t be a narrower window.   Call for adjustments if there's a delay, but be honest.  Give it to me straight.  I can handle it.  I don’t want to reorganize for a 15 minute window if the actual wait will wind up being a couple hours.   I want to arrange my schedule to get my to-do list done.   This is possible as far as scheduling goes, because I’ve dealt with companies who do it, and I love them.  Maybe it’s my fault.  I should filter out the ones that don’t.  Maybe I should make the pool into a putting green.

The doorbell rings.  I hang up the phone and open the door.  The guy doesn’t even apologize for being over an hour late. 

It’s only in a service guy’s fantasy that “bow-chica-bowbow” plays in the background during his entrance.
Sorry, fella.  As far as you're concerned, the waiting is the hardest part.
In the real world, I’m hearing the theme from “Psycho.”  I think we should both be grateful he’s not here to fix the shower.   
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The Cranky Cow by Kou K. Nelson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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