Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Home Alone

My dad has been on a business trip for over a week now, and my mom has managed to stay out trouble in his absence by not leaving the house. She is however starting to get her days and nights mixed up, like a newborn, because she gets sucked into late night TV programming and can’t quiet the voice that tells her there’s actually no reason she has to get up in the morning; she could sleep until noon if she wants. She hasn’t made it until noon yet, but she’s getting close. And she acts like someone should award her bonus points for showering and blow drying her hair every day, even though she doesn’t have any contact with other human beings. I reminded her a few days ago that most people bathe daily for pure hygiene purposes, and not necessarily to impress their families, and she countered it was the hair styling that was the extraordinary measure. Yes, Mom, it shows real determination to fix your hair every day.

But, I digress; it was the staying out of trouble thing that started this train out of the station. Yesterday, there someone knocking on the front door, and since it’s Christmastime, she assumed it was a neighbor dropping by baked goods and couldn’t open said door fast enough. But, instead of being handed cookies, a stranger handed her a bottle of Tide. Her first thought was that someone had alerted the authorities to the way she’s been letting the laundry pile up while my dad is away, but it turns out that isn’t actually against the law. Neither is eating cereal for dinner three nights in a row because you don’t feel like cooking for just yourself. And we know this because we’ve studied case law concerning the lives of domestic women while their spouse is away on business. (There’s a sweatpants clause that has served me well in the past.)

So, here’s where the story takes a turn and becomes an Oprah Winfrey special on what women should not do when home alone. #1: Answer the door for a stranger. Oops, too late. #2: Say that you’re home alone. The detergent giver claimed to be there to sell vacuum cleaners and needed to come in to demonstrate the product. It is of note here that this man didn’t have a vacuum cleaner with him. My mom spotted this like a trained field agent and said, “No, you can’t come in. I’m here alone.” Great. Next, he tells her he’ll need the Tide back if he can’t come in. Mom considers this. Tide’s the good stuff. She was holding in her hands something close to a ten dollar value. And her life was worth? Yeah, more. So, she opened the glass storm door a second time and gave it back. The man says that he could come back later, when her husband was home. And this brings us to rule #3: Don’t tell the potential homicidal thief how long he has to come and commit crimes against you. My mom said, “Oh, he won’t be home for a couple of days.” And then immediately realizing her mistake changed it to, “I mean he’ll be home tonight. Soon, really.” Sure he will, lady. How’s about you just leave the front door unlocked so I don’t have to break a window?

He went on to deliver more of his vacuum cleaner sales pitch, and I’m not even sure how it got this far in the exchange without my mom mentioning that she doesn’t have carpet. Their entire house is restored hardwood flooring. But it did. And somewhere near this juncture, the man’s “boss”, or, more accurately, accomplice, drove up to the curb and parked. Mom and the bad guy wrapped things up and scheduled a time for them to come back and pillage the house before she finally closed and locked the door. And then, having learned some valuable lessons during her primetime television watching, she moved chairs and other manageable pieces of furniture in front of the door. I understand the concept of a barricade, but since I also know my mom can barely lift a full jug of milk, I doubt it was an effective one.

Dad’s on his way home right now, thank God. Because I’d hate to see what she’d do if someone showed up and offered something even more valuable, like a gift card to Macy’s or something.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What Recession?

Cra-zy (kra’ze) adj. From the Latin meaning, I went to the mall on the Saturday before Christmas. Not that this is news to you. Based on the population of Triangle Town Center Mall, I’d wager all of you were there. And, yes, even my out of state readers. I parked between two mammoth SUVs, with license plates from Colorado and Iowa. I didn’t park at the mall exactly, just an outskirt that may or may not have been in Raleigh, but was definitely in North Carolina (I saw NASCAR stickers). But, anyway, I was thinking that perhaps our mall is the front line of the war against the recession.

Remember when I was ridiculing the people that had their Christmas shopping done by the end of October, yeah, well, that gulp you just heard was me swallowing those words. Because those are the people curled up on the sofa today watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and sipping hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows of satisfaction. Though, to be fair, I wasn’t at the mall to Christmas shop, as there is no one on my list that’s been nice enough to warrant me entering a battle of that magnitude. I was there because my daughter had a lunch date at California Pizza Kitchen, which is at our mall, and she’s not old enough to drive, yet. Or pay. Or wipe her mouth effectively. So I tagged along.

The girls loved that the mall was so crowded and that multiple people were wearing red Santa hats. For them, there was excitement in the air. To me, there was just the heavy stench of too much cologne and perfume broken up by the wafting smells of b.o. and waffle fries. And Santa hats really only work on the big guy himself and possibly the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Other than that, it just looks creepy and sad on adults. Sadder in say February, but still not great in December.

I only went in one store and that was to purchase a gift for my mother, who, for whatever excuse, is still not a follower of my blog, but does read it, so I’ll not name the store I went to. I’ll just say that there was a line and I had to wait in it with two girls who were so happy about their playdate, they were twirling. Twirling and knocking things down. Twirling into people. Twirling and making me dizzy. You get the picture. And that wasn’t the only line we were in. There was also a line to walk through the mall. I didn’t notice at first, but then when the family in front of us stopped short right in front of The Gap, I realized we couldn’t walk around them. It was too crowded. We got into a thirty person pile up because Susie Glitter Shoes and her mom were discussing if they should go in and look for something for her cousin Adrianna. (I’m not sure of the spelling of Adrianna, but the fact that I know her cousin’s name should be enough. Too much even.) “Maybe a vest or a scarf?” Mom asks, as Dad eyeballs The Great American Cookie Company. He’s been there before, I can tell. I really wanted to suggest they step into the store to decide. Because going in isn’t a contractual obligation to purchase, you know. I was even considering taking the dad to the cookie place with us, if they’d just get out of the way because that’s where we were headed anyway. But luckily I thought twice before saying, “I’ll take your husband, if you’ll let us by.”

We purchased our cookies and began the long odyssey back to the van. I was worried both of the girls would have a birthday or two before we made it, but we got there in thirty minutes flat. I auctioned off our parking spot for twenty bucks, and vowed to never return to the mall again.