Friendship

“Come On Kathleen!” (Me & Dexys)

 

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Today kicks off yet another Spring Break Week at our house. I admit, Jimmy and I take a sliver of pride in our reputation for providing ZERO amusement for our offspring over Spring Break. But this year, through some momentary lapse of judgement or faltered sense of family tradition, James talked us in to letting him fly down to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico with a group of kids and their parents from his Senior class…

Ever since we gave him the green light for the trip, I have been filled with maternal dread and worry. I’m just not a big fan of a bunch of American high school students running around the beaches of Mexico. I’m not even a fan of Mexican students running around the beaches of Mexico.   But, I do feel secure that James is in good hands down there. His “official chaperones” are the parents of one of his buddies, but I always favor a strong back-up plan.   Included in the entourage is one of my closest friends, who is accompanying her daughter Sarah (a classmate of James’) on the trip.

Kathleen texted me yesterday to get James’ cell phone number so she could save him to her contacts. That went a long way towards reassuring me that she fully intends to keep excellent tabs on my boy. After I gave her his number, it seemed only appropriate to inquire, what, if anything, I could do for her here in Oklahoma while she was away. I’m sure I was just overwhelmed with gratitude and got swept up in the moment.

I barely got this semi-sincere offer out of my mouth, before she started rattling off a list of instructions. And what an extensive list it was!  My head started swimming. I finally said, “Wow, that sounds like a lot. Can you just email that to me?”

And she did.

The good news is that I don’t have to do anything unless she dies down there this week. She hasn’t asked me to water her house plants, feed her cat or bring in her mail. I don’t have to run over and let her dogs out, or even pick the newspaper up off the driveway. But, the bad news is that, should she meet an untimely demise and perish in Mexico this week, I’m going to be busier than a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

 

She is dead set on these instructions:

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I suppose I really don’t mind writing her eulogy. That’s fine.  I have actually written a fair amount of eulogies for a woman as young as I am.  It’s like everything else, there’s a formula.

Assuming I can easily locate that “red lock box,” (if it was my house, it will have mysteriously disappeared from the place where I told you it would be…) it will be pretty effortless to run that song list up to the church.

No problem splicing in some pall bearers, either. I would think anyone could tote this particular friend down the aisle. Even in a wooden box, she won’t weigh much. Trust me, I happen to know exactly how much she weighs, because she went on a diet 3 weeks ago for this trip and has texted me her weight every day. Her pall will be easy to bear.

And, I guess I really don’t even mind throwing this party she wants, but at some point I feel like she is starting to get a tad high maintenance. Is it just me, or is she asking a lot that I have to burn a CD?  Why can’t I just take requests and suggestions from her grieving friends and family throughout the evening and play them on my iPad? It’s like she has me confused with her friend Pandora.

And, then putting ME, of all people in charge of her appearance in the casket?  If I’m truly the one running the show, I’m apt to just ignore that open casket nonsense. Those pall bearers work for me now, right?  When I slam that puppy shut and and tell MY PALL BEARERS, “Let’s Roll!” it won’t much matter which direction her little head is tilted.

On a positive note, I am  starting to worry way less about James on this trip. He’s a good boy and we’ve done our best to raise him to make good choices.  My primary concern has shifted to the safety and wellbeing of Kathleen down there.  I’m really not thrilled that MY Spring Break might get bogged down in all these funeral-related tasks.  There’s a reason we don’t plan anything over Spring Break – it’s because we are trying to relax…

All that notwithstanding, I do enjoy selecting music, so I thought I may as well knock that chore out this morning.  Kathleen happened to call just now to “check-in” on their layover in Atlanta. I asked if she liked the song, “Come on Eileen,”from the early 80s.

When she answered, “Not really,” her 18 year old was as astonished as I was. “Oh my God Mom! Are you dead inside?” (Obviously Sarah agrees with me about this catchy tune…)

But honestly, at this point, I literally just have my fingers crossed.  Not to be callous or anything, but if Kathleen is dead on the inside, that’s Sarah’s problem this week in Playa, if she’s dead on the outside, it just became mine.

Come On Kathleen!  At this moment, you mean everything!

 

 

Sister Christian Motors To The Movies (A Review by Me and Night Ranger)

image During a brief lull in their plans last weekend, one of my friends’ high school daughters suggested that they go see “50 Shades of Grey.” My friend was naturally aghast and said, “You’re not going to see that FILTH and we’re certainly not going to go see it together!” She later confessed to me that she really wanted to see it herself, but wouldn’t dream of going alone. So deeply troubled was I by the obvious decline in her morality, that I offered to go with her. Fortunately, I was able to persuade a few more friends to sacrifice an afternoon in this selfless endeavor to research and provide commentary on such a sophomoric and debased sample of American culture. We reasoned that we couldn’t really criticize a movie we haven’t seen; besides, it would be good for the blog to provide the occasional movie review….

My singular request was that we attend INCOGNITO, as I was scandalized by the sheer thought of a Catholic Christian Mother-of 5 being seen in public at this movie, even if it was in the name of R&D. We met on a weekday while the kids were in school. Per my usual timetable, I was the last to arrive. The theatre was dark and my friends were barely recognizable in their clever disguises, still I was somewhat perturbed when they spotted me first and yelled out in unison, “Leslie Blanchard! We are sitting up here!” (No matter, according to Gracie, who later commented, “Really Mom? you were ‘concealing your identity’ in a grey leopard blazer, hat and the sunglasses and gold hoops you wear every day? YOU screamed “Leslie Blanchard!” louder than they did….”)

Leslie disguised as leslie in shades and grey

Leslie disguised as Leslie in shades and grey

For those of you unfamiliar with the story line, here is the premise: A beautiful young girl is dispatched to interview a wealthy young billionaire for her college newspaper. Her character is developed as an “innocent” in every way imaginable. Through a series of poorly written and unlikely encounters, they both manage to fall for each other. This is where it gets weird… In addition to being a Billionaire, who owns a corporation, a jet, a fleet of flashy cars and a penthouse in downtown Seattle, it is quickly revealed during their first date, that he has “some rather unconventional fringe tastes about how love can and should be expressed.” I’m not talking about “Love Hurts” in the emotional sense like the beloved Nazareth ballad; I’m talking about some very serious physical ouches! There were some scenes in that movie that were as hard to watch as some of the scenes we watched recently in “12 Years A Slave.” WORSE actually, as it implied that any sane “everyday-nice-girl” would ever willingly agree to be physically tortured in the name of love, without some other very compelling enticements.

This sparked quite a bit of controversial discussion among my women friends about this entire concept. Several ladies theorized that this girl acquiesced because the man was such a “hottie.” I thoroughly disagree. He was so much more than a hottie, he was a billionaire. Bear in mind, the first week they were dating, he flew her from place to place in his private helicopter and gifted her with a brand “spanking” new BMW.

To illustrate my point, I propose an alternate movie scenario: Let’s say the male lead was a driver for UPS. We’ve all seen those guys… They are almost always great looking. When I see UPS drivers, I find myself wondering if that company has a handsomeness scale they use when they hire drivers. So follow me here…The exact same actress meets the exact same actor, only in this version, he is wearing brown Bermuda shorts and is delivering a package to her. As she signs his clipboard, they strike up a conversation, are instantly attracted to one another and go on a date. He picks her up later that evening in his Honda Civic (that he drives himself – strike the limo, strike the uniformed chauffeur). In the course of their first date, he too reveals that he has “some rather unconventional fringe tastes regarding how love can and should be expressed.” This isn’t where the movie gets weird, this is where the movie gets over… as in the female lead runs-not-walks right out of the picture. You know good and darn well that every woman in the audience of my hypothetical movie is now screaming, “Get out of there immediately! This dude is a freak!”

All I’m suggesting, is that when you replace the Jaguar with a Honda and subtract out the penthouse, the plot line gets considerably less intriguing.

There’s no need to thank me for providing this community service for my blog following. I’m glad I could save you all the price of a ticket and the calories in the Milk Duds… And the next time you pull up at a red light beside a UPS truck and ask yourself “What can Brown do for you?” Just motor on your way, Sister Christian!

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If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you? (Me and Bread)

An actual artist "Fixing" my work

An actual artist “Fixing” my work

A friend of mine threw herself a milestone birthday party at one of those paint-a-picture places recently. My initial reaction which lasted about 5 seconds was – ohhhh not interested in that…. But I actually adore this particular friend. Wild horses couldn’t keep me from celebrating with her; And I would dig ditches on the side of the road with the entire group of fun ladies at this party – so there it is… I was going. (FYI- I always use the example that I would dig ditches on the side of the road with someone, to illustrate that this is a person/persons with whom one can have an infinite amount of fun, even while performing the most detestable of assignments….ie: roadside ditch digging. Not sure why I’m so enamored by this analogy, as I rarely, if ever, see groups of people digging roadside ditches. But you get the idea!)

We kicked off the party with our new favorite drink, the St. Germaine’s Martini. I was the bartender, as usual. I don’t mind. ( Tip: I try to contract my abs when I shake a martini and am pretty sure it works to flatten the tummy.) I have many other simple fitness tips one can incorporate into their busy day – that’s just one….

After the martinis got us all limbered up and loosened up, our instructors introduced themselves and got the ball rolling. One of the instructors looked at me and said,

“Hi! Don’t I know you?”

I said,”Hi! I don’t think so!”

He said, “You’ve been here before!”

I said, “nooooo…I’ve never been here before, I’ve always wanted to, but never have!”
(I know… I know-liar, liar, pants on fire….but, I lie all the time just to be nice!)

About that time one of my friends said, “Leslie has probably been coming here every afternoon since she found out about this party, taking private lessons, so she could “win” tonight”
Another friend said,
“UhOh- is this a contest?”
And another added,
“If Leslie’s doing it, then it’s a contest!”

A rumor is loosely circulating that I’m Uber-Competitive because, when our tennis team caravanned to St.Louis in August, for Sectionals, I took a wrong turn that took the group in my car off-course for about an hour. These girls are still bitter because I wouldn’t stop to let anyone eat or pee until we caught-up with, passed and beat the other vehicles to our hotel. In my defense, it was the perfect kick-off for an extremely competitive weekend. Got our competitive juices flowing. Besides….we won!!

Nonetheless, these girls just know me too well. It could well be time to consult my wait list. (Another tip: keep a wait list of prospective friends. I find that life is too short and time too limited to be friends with all the fabulous people one meets, so keeping a wait-list of prospects lined up is a quick way to replace friends one may alienate along the way…)

We started our project by putting on an apron. I am naturally wary about anything that begins by tying on an apron, but I cooperated. The extremely patient instructor walked us step by step on how to paint the peacock that our hostess selected . We painted for what seemed like several weeks, however, I think that it was actually just a couple of hours. It was fun to watch everyone so intent on their painting. I was more intent on watching everyone else’s intentness, to listen to the instructions. In this way, not much has changed since my high school days. I had to keep asking the others, “which brush?” And “which color?”

I feel everyone should express themselves in this world. We should all make an effort to find our “medium”. After an hour or so of painting, the instructor walked over to mine and said, “Here, let me fix yours…go visit with your friends!” So it was painfully clear that my MEDIUM is not painting. But, in all fairness, I’ve known this since the first grade. I honestly think he was worried I would tell people I painted it at his studio and they might lose business.

After everyone finished painting, we posed for a group picture. Because I continued to add paint to canvas after the instructor “fixed” mine, (a few friends have nicknamed me “Les is more” as a play on the name Leslie, but clearly I have always thought that “MORE IS MORE”) Mine was definitely the worst in our group and possibly the worst ever done by a grown adult in the history of this particular type of business….

After the group picture, I hugged everyone goodbye, tucked my martini shaker and painting under my arm and headed home. I promptly hung my painting on the wall when I got home and sent everyone a text proclaiming my victory. I was the first one to get mine on the wall!!!! Of course it was a contest…can’t believe anyone thought it might not be….

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